The Lake of the Nightmare Cat

“So it’s agreed, if we see a cat—any cat—we flee.” The brown rat with the black spot upon her pink nose nodded at her two partners.

The black rat with the long swishing tail nodded his head in return. The rat with fur the color of storm clouds twitched her whiskers.

All three boarded the little ship made of twig and stone, bound by fibers, sealed with resin, and thrice-blessed by their elders.

The ship was named for what its crew desired to be, Invisible.

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The Ten Terrible Heads of Shi Xin Niao

Two young lovers there were of humble origin. Caihong, who was more brilliant to her lover than the rainbow. Jin, who was more precious to his lover than gold.

Though young, they were sensible, and had already made their plans for the lives they would live together—the number of children they would have, the color of the roof on their house, the trading of places for the scholarship each sought to pursue, one in medicine and one in art.

Late in the morning, they strode along the road one day, each bearing baskets from early errands. They were so enchanted with each other that the vibrant energies of their love pulsed far and wide, and far, far above. Those energies attracted the attention of an unusual creature, a great bird with ten heads that lived in the forbidding depths of the mountains that bordered their country.

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Isle of the Immortal Crab

“Do not speak his name!”

The cry came from across the way, from the man who leaned beneath the shade of a great palm.

The woman he’d called to turned away from the little girl by her side, to whom she’d been speaking, and turned to the man. When she saw who it was, she smirked.

“Why not?” she asked. “He’s long dead. Are you afraid he’ll come for your other arm?”

She approached him, for it was him she had come seeking.

He did not move, but his eyes did, dropping to peer at the girl.

The girl’s own eyes were seeing him.

And seeing beyond him.

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A Brief Case of Dread

The man stared at the briefcase lying on his desk, wondering if his visitor would dare to open it, and wake what slept within.

If that little green man was the only thing that slept within, the man would have thumbed in the combination, and clicked open the clasps. He would have been already smiling as he lifted the lid and caught a glimpse of the little toy that his little daughter had put in there for him.

But just the memory of the whispered warnings was enough to prickle the hairs on the back of his neck. The most frightening words were the first ones.

They are angry.

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Forge of the Forsaker

We are descended from a powerful people. So it is said. The most powerful our world has ever known. Their might unmatched. Their domain unending. Their eyes all-seeing.

I am nothing next to them. I am a blade of grass underfoot. A mayfly blinking in and out of existence.

A mortal.

But today I will discover if there are forces in the world mightier than the gods.

For today is the day I bring them down.

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