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"Science Fiction" means—to us—everything found in the science fiction section of a bookstore, or at a science fiction convention, or amongst the winners of the Hugo awards given by the World Science Fiction Society. This includes the genres of science fiction (or sci-fi), fantasy, slipstream, alternative history, and even stories with lighter speculative elements. We hope you enjoy the broad range that SF has to offer.


Ruth Nestvold and the late Jay Lake, both multiple award-winning authors, wrote these tales together. Please check out other tales in their series at Tales of the Rose Knights.

Snowfire should have been a cliche, with her brilliant face and her ways full of love and thorns. The Rose Knight of the Rose Knights, she strode the world wrapped in laughter and a charisma that could stun stone idols. She needed no sword for her battles. She could smile her way through walls and gates and brambled pits and talk the very monsters from their lairs, soothe the raging ocean, and humble the proudest men.
Snowfire's colors were red-on-white, sanguinary and brilliant both in their scarlet repose. Bereft of her armor, sword and trappings of her station, she would have been a comely woman on the streets of any city. Imperious in her array, she was devastating to look upon.
"I worry," the Red-on-White Knight said one evening over a clearwater beer and a plate of lamb sausages. She shared her words, and food, with one Fortispont, a tradesman and sometime-quartermaster of middle years, a friend from campaigns against the Armies of the Moon. Once they had fought together alongside several thousand of their fellows, among the ivy-riven ruins of ancient days that lined those high valleys. Old magic lurked still in the form of glowering pools and gibbering ghosts. Fortispoint had turned his back on all that, but still they met now and again when she was passing through Fenixtown, or his business took him to Hy Rugosa.
Fortispont licked his fingers of the tangy grease. "Good," he said with a grin, then reached for more beer.
She laughed, a delighted rising cackle that caused travelers to pause outside the window of the inn. "Good? You think so little of me that you wish me worry?"
"No." He cut into another sausage, glanced at her with twinkling eyes the color of a mountain stream. "If you had no worries, you would pine for lack of focus."
"Such insight. You should be at court." She stabbed a finger toward him. "Worry me this, quartermaster. What happens when your heart's desire is achieved? Who do you become?"
"Ha." Fortispont poured her some more beer. "What happens when a fine meal is eaten? Are you ever hungry again?"
"You're twisting words," she grumbled. "That's my work."
It was his turn to laugh. "Why do you think I can abide with you time and again? We spin together, neither ever quite mastering the other. Be honest. There are few enough who can keep pace with you."
That drew a smile from her. "No."
"So. You worry. Have you achieved your heart's desire?"
"Perhaps." She stood, pacing to the window overlooking the street, then back to the table. "Desire has divided my heart."
"Division is just multiplication by another name."
She whirled fast as the sword she often carried, a sparkle in her eyes. "And a man is just a fool by another name."
He chuckled. "So what has become of your heart?"
She moved back to the window, her face moody and dark as a summer storm. Someone shouted at mules in the street below. "Some man moved into the thickets when I was not watching carefully enough."
"So you are in love. This happens from time to time, I am told."
"You know of my oaths at court, my betrothal in Hy Rugosa. I am not free to love him."
"A pretty problem." Fortispont set down his knife and mug to regard her flowing hair, her muscled legs, the fall of her shift across her back.
He did not ask the name of the mystery lover.
In other days and times she might have given voice to the name, and he might have answered. Instead, they made no further mention of the business, suffering in separate silence, their paths crossing often in the courts of the Armies of the Sun.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, January 4th, 2017
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