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February 2015 cover art

A Lovely Light

By Lindsey Duncan

Of the thirteen thousand lampposts marking the paths between worlds, only one was dark, and this did not bother its Keeper.

Lirann reported the problem to his superiors, but the vital function of the lantern — the subliminal pulse that drew travelers so the Keeper could direct them — was unaffected, and he did not miss the light. He wasn’t blind — he simply kept his eyes closed. In the shadows there were sweet winds from meadow worlds, tastes of silverfruit and rye, voices and prayers that shaped the contours of between. Color and surface details seemed bland and distracting by comparison.

In the dark, Lirann leaned against the post, rust crinkling under one hand. Footsteps approached in waltz rhythm, as if their owner moved to music. Too light to be mortal: Even the stealthiest had more weight. She — he could tell it was a woman by the way fabric rustled, silk playing against curves — couldn’t be a ghost, either, for there were aromas of summer earth and wood smoke against clean skin.

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