Five Directions and a Yellow Vest by John R. Canter

Within moments they reached the interior of the palace complex, using the rooftops to bypass all the closed gates that tried to stop the spread of fire and movements of the enemy troops. “At this rate the whole palace will burn,” Yang remarked to the qirin, the divine creature’s hooves barely touching down on ancient roof tiles. “If the barbarians of the northwest can’t seize the capital, they will be more than happy to destroy it.”

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Two Halves by John R. Canter

Another branch crashes loudly through the canopy to the earth, a wake of birds already fleeing startled. The runner makes no pretense of stealth, which Asoka has given up on as well. The half-elf, running at top speed, fires another arrow up into the trees, and again misses his quarry. That damn protection from arrows spell! He curses in his head, not wasting the breath as he maintains pursuit. The other half-elf, running, jumps from branch to branch, satchel swinging from his body as he darts overhead.

Sand in Black and White by John R. Canter

Xeric scratched his short beard. The young man thought for a long time on how to word his wish. You had to be careful with djinn, he thought, and efreet were even more dangerous than them. In the dark basement storeroom, a pair of fiery red eyes gazed impatiently through the smoke. What appeared to be a horned man had a grin on his face, trying to look trustworthy. It worked surprisingly well.

Two Old Pirates by John R. Canter

She looked up at the ship, its rotted planks warped by the sea water and plastered by the leavings of seagulls. It was still beautiful in her eyes, and although she could not say she was the more beautiful thing anymore, now that she was pushing 70, she didn’t feel quite so old looking at the shipwreck of The Dragonfly. After taking a moment to take in its crippled majesty, she hobbled up the rocks, cursing in achy stiffness as she went.