Just when I thought maybe I was all caught up, Beneath Ceaseless Skies came along and reminded me that it comes out twice a month. So two new stories! And this issue is much more standard with its story lengths than last time. Two novelettes just waiting to be read. They both end up being about a pair, a man and a woman, traveling together. I rather prefer the depiction in "For Lost Time," but both are interesting in their own right. Let's go!
"For Lost Time" by Therese Arkenberg (7638 words)
It's not every day that you read a story with an asexual main character, but I feel that this character did a nice job with Aniver, who is traveling with Semira to try and bring back the cities of Aniver's homeland that have become lost in Time. Aniver is driven, perhaps a bit desperate, and definitely cares for Semira, but there is nothing sexual about their relationship. He's simply not interested in sex. Which is great. The only part that I could see as being maybe a little...well, a reason I would hesitate to endorse it fully is because there might be the implication that he was sexual and used that part of himself in his magic. Now, it sounds like he's always not been interested, but going off of how the magic in this story works, it's not for-sure for me. Still, it's a nice story about trying to recover something that is lost, and the strength and power of friendship. I like that, like that Aniver and Semira are so close and can stick by each other through so much. I like that Semira is taking on this task because it's right and not because it's her home that was lost. All around it's just a good story, with enough action and magic (Aniver's confrontation with a GIANT DEATH ON HER THRONE) to keep things moving right along. The "ending" of the quest isn't shown, but in some ways a very important part is already over. They choose to go on, and that choice is what defines them. Solid work.
"Day of the Dragonfly by Raphael Ordoñez (9737 words)
Even longer than the other story, this one takes place in an even bleaker setting, one that is dirty and that seems overrun by strange creatures and gods and cults. It's told a bit like a fable. A young woman, Yuni, goes in search of a man named the Dragonfly, who turns out to be the last of his people, a young man named Keftu. She needs him to save her sister from a giant worm that came from the moon. If he succeeds, he will get to marry said sister. It's a fairly standard setup, but the setting is interesting. Yuni turns out to be the sort who constantly gets him in trouble either to deal with her own growing feelings for him or, more likely, to toughen him up so that he can save her sister. The action is fast and violent and well done, and the visuals are interesting. The resolution and the ending didn't come as a surprise, but for someone looking for a male adventure story then this is a solid effort. Perhaps not really to my tastes, it does everything it sets out to do with skill, and is a fun enough read.