Cover art: “Loving Queen Titania”
Editor-in-Chief, Richard Flores IV
Assistant Editor, Amy Flores
Assistant Editor, Molly Moss
Assistant Editor, Vacant
Assistant Editor, Alex Sidles
Assistant Editor, JT Howard
Assistant Editor, Alexis Hunter
Marketing and Advertising, Vacant
Art Editor, Vacant
Plasma Frequency ISSN 2168-1309 (Print) and ISSN
2168-1317 (Electronic), Issue 12 June/July 2014. Published bimonthly by Plasma Spyglass Press, Auburn, Washington
Annual subscription available at www.plasmafrequencymagazine.com. Print edition $32.99 for US residents for one year. Electronic edition $9.99 for one year.
Copyright © 2014 by Plasma Spyglass Press. All Rights Reserved.
In This Issue
From the Editor
Polestar” by Lindsey Duncan
Take Two Sips of Witch’s Brew” by John H. Dromey
Cake and Necromancy” by Rebecca Roland
e-razored” by J.S. Watts
y Rachel Kolar
Custody Battle” by Arley Sorg
“You Wouldn’t Download a Mom” by Ian Rose
Here we go again, crossing another milestone. Issue 12 closes out our second year of publication and I am look at the eleven other magazines stacked by my desk and I can’t help but find myself amazed and how far this magazine has come in just 12 issues and two years. We have accomplished so much in a short amount of time.
You can see the changes. The cover of our magazine has one glaring example of our growth with the change of our masthead in Issue 8. You can visit our website and see the changes there. Readers have awarded us for our hard work as well. And behind the scenes the selection of the best stories has become a very challenging task.
Our third year promises more changes, including the serialized fiction we will be publishing starting with Issue 13. We also have big plans for the expansion of services we offer authors, including a program we are developing authors grow. I am excited about that one. We also have other ideas, including bringing back interior art, something the readers have really suggested we bring back.
A lot hasn’t changed either. We still bring amazing cover art and superb story telling to our pages. We still put out electronic and print issues. We still publish a range of stories from long fiction to short fiction. And we still value everyone who has made this magazine what we are today.
I would be lying if I told you that Plasma Frequency has been easy to produce each month. There are challenges every issue. Sometimes they are easy to overcome, such as production delays. Other times they are very hard to manage, such as when I lost my job and funding to the magazine had to be cut. But we have found a solution and made it through two years. I may be challenging the fates with this statement, but after the things we’ve been through I am certain Plasma Frequency will be talking about 10 years in now time.
Well, I suppose that is enough teary-eyed, sentimental stuff. Let me step aside and let the work of our authors shine.
Richard Flores IV
When the star-heiress returned to the city of Gwynora, she was no longer a figure of purity, protected from the tou
ch of any mortal substance, but she was still luminous with heavenly force, her hair a stream of autumn fused with sunlight and her eyes as pale as low clouds. She swept into the temple precincts with three horses, a handmade litter, and two companions—one cloaked, the other deathly feverish.
He will be all right, Adiarwen," Eridanus said, steadying her. His voice vibrated like a plucked string. With face hidden and hands gloved, he could pass for human, which he preferred. "These are the best healers of your world."
She shot him a sharp look, though the gaze held trust
. "Whatever happens here, stay near me," she said.
. He would do nothing less.
The temple courtyard was paved in white marble
. The building was as hermetic as Adiarwen Starward had been, pristine and perfect. A lone tower rose above, unoccupied for seven years since the star-heiress disappeared from the hands of her keepers. The only statue in the courtyard was of a mortal, her mother—the temple worshipped the nebulous lights of the heavens, not any humanized god. Eridanus shifted uneasily as he considered the priests might take a dim view of the creature who had spirited Adiarwen away, even if he had come from their revered stars.
This was a place of healing, and the guards needed no explanation
. They took charge of the litter and led the way.
The sleeper stirred, juniper eyes flicking in search of Adiarwen. "Where are we?" His voice was thick, the veins in his face lit with green venom. He scarcely looked like the man who had been their companion for months—and did not sound like the rogue who had gotten them out of trouble several times.
Jainor!" She bent to take his hand, fingers curled around his. "We're in the temple. They can help you."
He made an indistinct sound of dismay
. "Can't...don't do that." His head came about. "Danus. You reason with her."
Reason with Adiarwen, whose heart was a storm
? Who had thrown aside a destiny as the ruler of nations because she preferred freedom? She loved Jainor as if he had been carved under her skin with a blade; anyone who saw them together knew it. Eridanus knew no one could counsel her away from an action that might save her beloved. He shook his head.
The healer-priestesses took Jainor in hand with reassuring murmurs, flowing as easily as rivers
. Adiarwen lurked, clutching Eridanus's arm, her body vibrating with frustration. She was not used to being helpless.
"Your highness! Y
our highness!" A wiry priestess with salt-and-pepper hair rushed across the infirmary as fast as dignity would allow, then threw that aside to drop to her knees. "I am honored and delighted by your presence. Welcome home."
Thank you for the welcome, but please! Stand," Adiarwen said, offering her a hand. The woman gasped and drew away; it had once been forbidden to touch the star-heiress, lest the contact pollute her with the outside world. Too late for that now.
The priestess seemed to realize this, smiling wryly as she stood
. Eridanus became aware of subdued voices in the infirmary as devotees who had never seen the star-heiress whispered and wondered. He stepped forward, putting his body between them and her. At least it might make her feel less exposed.
Who are these, your highness?"
This is my love and future husband, Jainor." Adiarwen's eyes challenged her to object. "And this is my dearest friend, Eridanus."
Eridanus bowed his head to hide the surge of feelings, first despair and then guilt
. He had loved her since the first, though in different ways: as a friend, as a sibling, as both protector and protected. He could not clearly remember when he understood the change, but he could never speak it.
I'm sure you don't remember me, star-heiress, but my name is Teva," the priestess said. "I will have the royal suite in the tower prepared—"
No!" Adiarwen jerked as if struck. "I surrendered that title when I left the tower. My only duty is to be wherever the wind takes me."
Teva looked dubious, and Eridanus could understand why
. Adiarwen carried the strength of the heavens in her breast, and it did not take a holy eye to see their imprint on her face. Her powers might have limits—including the inability to heal—but they shone through. "We have heard rumors of your achievements," she said, "or rather, we have proof of the deeds and rumors it was you behind them. I don't think any of us truly believed it."
She was made for such quests." Eridanus allowed his voice to be pointed.
Teva looked at him sharply
. "And you? Is it true that you are a living star?"
My people are called the Lthieryn." He bowed his head. "It is true."
Doubly blessed our heiress, then, to have the loyalty of such." Teva frowned. "Will you not take the suite that was made for you? It has stood empty for years."
's shoulders tensed in a way that meant she had a firestorm of words. Eridanus laid a hand on her shoulder. "A moment?"
She relaxed, draping her body against his shoulder
. Such signs of affection had always been easy between them; he had no right to think of them as awkward, and forced the feeling out of his mind. "Eri?" she murmured. "What are you thinking?"
I think you should accept her hospitality," he said. "It would make them happy, and it would be better for Jainor to be away from other invalids."
She considered, then nodded
. "All right." She addressed Teva. "The three of us will stay in the suite, but don't put any effort into it. I'm not going to be much for luxury until Jainor is better."
Eridanus almost smiled
. She was never much for luxury, and had already dodged more than a few honors as a wandering adventurer. The only thing she never turned down was a good meal.
Teva let out a relieved sigh
. "Once your young man is seen to, will you want to meet with the council of kings?"
I'd prefer they didn't know I was here," Adiarwen said.
Eridanus looked behind him at wide and curious faces
. "I don't think that will be possible."
If you do not want to address the council that rules in your stead, that is your right," Teva said, her tone not quite chiding. "I am certain they will wish to attend you, but I will forestall them until your young man is comfortable."
She left them to order the suite readied
. Adiarwen knelt by the cot, holding Jainor's hand. She massaged his fingers, eyes fixed in panic although her posture would not admit it. Eridanus wanted to chase away the novices, wanted to promise her everything would be all right, but he could do neither, and the sense of inertia maddened him. He had lived as a human long enough he had almost forgotten the openness of the stars, but now that freedom rushed back to him, and the weight choked.
What am I going to do, Eridanus?" she asked.
We," he said with emphasis, "are going to stay here until Jainor is well. Just knowing you are alive will bring joy to these people. They have no right to ask more of you."
Adiarwen flashed a skewed smile
. "I swear you read my mind sometimes."
I try not to. That would be rude."
She snorted, though didn
't quite make it to laughter. "Rude, as if we don't share everything. Sit down? I don't want to crane my neck."
? Eridanus felt another pang. He settled beside her, keeping his cloak arranged to hide the glittering star-stuff of his skin. Adiarwen had said once that to look at him was to see quartz made flesh, shadow and light carving the features.
He wondered then what the touch of his lips to those
of another would feel like—Lthieryn had other ways of showing affection, and he had never tried the human custom. He shook himself, his eyes falling on the couple's linked hands.
Teva." Adiarwen looked vaguely troubled. "I never knew her name when I was young. I just thought of her as one of them. The jailors."
Her mother had been the first to possess the light of the stars
. She had saved their world from the tyrant God-Sons...and then died giving birth to her daughter. The newly founded temple had taken over Adiarwen's care, keeping her obsessively pure. With Eridanus' help, she had fled.
She meant well by you," he said finally.
They all did. I know that now." She turned Jainor's hand over and placed a gentle kiss on the back. "If anyone can save him, they will. Right?"
't seen this uncertainty in her for years, the painful timidity that made her seem lost in a shrinking world. He wanted to shout; it made him more angry than he could remember being in a long time, and he feared there was worse to come. He put an arm around her shoulder. "They have cured many cases of greenthorn plague, and Jainor is one of the strongest people I know." He added more quietly, "You're another."
Is that a hint to calm down and keep my head on straight?" Adiarwen asked. "As long as you're here, I'll be fine." Her expression turned impish. "How do you suppose they would react if I asked the priests to marry us?"
Considering Jainor is one of the Blackwood's barbarians, I think they would be scandalized." He paused, then added, "I'm sure that makes it more attractive."
She spread her hands
. "Does that make me terrible?"
He sensed seriousness under the frivolous question
. "No," he said. "That makes you who you are."
Adiarwen smiled wearily
. "I'm not entirely sure that's a good thing."
Teva was true to her word, and they moved into the royal suite with its three bedrooms. Jainor was situated in the nearest so the healers could enter and exit without disturbing the star-heiress, but Adiarwen curled up at the foot of the bed and refused to leave, and Eridanus couldn't abandon her. The three slept in a huddle, as many a cold night had found them before the two humans had become a couple.
Your highness!" Teva's voice was urgent when she woke them, standing over the bed as if she wanted to shake Adiarwen's shoulder and still dared not. "You must rise and dress—oh!"
Eridanus realized his cloak had fallen aside, revealing a diamond-bright arm
. He stood, swinging the fabric into place. "Good morning, priestess."
Adiarwen blinked blearily
. "What? Why? I'm dressed," she added after a glance down at herself.
. "In something less wrinkled, your highness. The third king wishes to speak with you—wishes to honor your presence."
. "Thank you. I'll change." As soon as the priestess left, she turned to Eridanus in a rush. "What do I say? How am I supposed to treat him? I'm supposed to be his superior, but I don't want—"
Work from here." He almost laid a hand on her heart, then stopped. "Let your instincts speak."
She nodded, reluctant
. "Will you stay with me?"
Always," he said.
Adiarwen emerged from the royal bedroom moments later garbed in an amber gown, its only concession to frills the thread of gold running through
. She had secured her hair back with a gold circlet. Both were gifts of thanks from her adventures.
Eridanus offered his arm
. She clasped his wrist tightly. "Our public awaits," she quipped, though her voice was strained.
There were twenty kings on the council, ranked by seniority and size of territory
. The kingdoms of old had never been re-established, and to name the regions would have implied they were permanent. Instead, the council remained in limbo, waiting for the star-heiress.
The third king, Coreliar
, had passed the half-century mark. His broad strength settled on the edge of turning into plumpness but never crossed it. Like most of the council, he had grown accustomed to fine living; he cut an impressive figure in cerulean velvet and fur trimming.
Adiarwen faced him with back straight, chin lifted
. She waited until he bowed before she curtsied. "I'm pleased to meet you, Coreliar."
He straightened to study her, his face opening in surprise
. "Your highness, you have matured beyond any of our imaginings," he said. "It is a pleasure to meet the star-heiress grown. And your companion?"
Eridanus stepped in, for he could feel the indignation stiffening her spine
. "Eridanus of the Lthieryn, her right hand and advisor."
We are honored." Coreliar sketched a smaller bow, then continued, "I am here to formally welcome you to Gwynora and inform you the council of kings stands ready to receive you whenever you wish to address them." He studied her face and arched a brow before adding, "Your highness, I understand you have lived another life these past seven years. But we would be honored if you would take your place amongst us."