Retreat, Day 22

coffeeToday I am letting myself slack a little, feeling caught up from the weekend’s excesses and so I can game tonight.

Today’s wordcount: 2592
Current Hearts of Tabat wordcount: 119954
Total word count for the week so far (day 3): 13568
Total word count for this retreat: 60229
Worked on Hearts of Tabat, “Moderator,” untitled piece
Works finished on this retreat: “California Ghosts,” “My Name is Scrooge,” “Blue Train Blues.”
Time spent on SFWA email, discussion boards, other stuff: 45 minutes

From the untitled piece:

The magician gestured, and out of the pool came musicians, the very first thing the tip of a flute, sounding, so it was as though the music pulled the musician forth, accompanied by others: grave-eyed singers and merry drummers; guitarists and mandolinists with great dark eyes in which all the secrets of the moon were written; one great brassy instrument made of others interlocked, so it took six to play it, all puffing away at their appointed mouthpiece, and all of them bowed down to the priestess who stood watching, her sand-colored eyes impersonal and face stone-smooth.

“Very pretty,” she said, and yawned with a feline grace, perhaps even accentuating the similarity in a knowing way with a tilt of her head.
The magician smiled, just as catlike, just as calm. “You can do better, I am sure,” he said.

She shrugged, her manner diffident, but rather than reply, she pursed her lips and whistled. Birds formed, swooping down, and wherever they swooped, they erased a swathe of the musicians, left great arcs of nothingness hanging as the seemingly oblivious players continued, their music slowly diminishing as they vanished, the instruments going one by one, and the last thing to hang, trembling in the air, was an unaccompanied hand, holding up a triangle that emitted not a sound.

Landing, the birds began to sing, and though the music was not particularly sweet, there was a naturalness about it that somehow rebuked the mechanical precision of the song theirs succeeded. As they sang, more and more birds appeared, and the music swelled, washing over the pair where they stood, like a river.

The priestess patted the air with the flat of her hand and the birds winked out of existence, leaving the two of them in a great white room, the antechamber of her temple.

“Will you go further in, then?” she said, and her voice was still casual.

The magician’s eyes were green as new grass and the black beard on his chin, which grew to a double point, was oiled and smelled of attar-of-roses. He considered her as though this was the smallest of debates, and finally stepped forward.

“We are still evenly matched,” he said.

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About Cat

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches by the shores of an eagle-haunted lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov's, Clarkesworld Magazine, and the magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Her story, "Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain," from her collection Near + Far (Hydra House Books), was a 2012 Nebula nominee. Her editorship of Fantasy Magazine earned her a World Fantasy Award nomination in 2012. She is the current President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). She is currently working on Exiles of Tabat, the third book of the Tabat Quartet. A new story collection, Neither Here Nor There, appears from Hydra House this fall.
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