This story, written by the editor of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, is arguably the best of the five stories in this special issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies. It features several interesting characters, including Lin, the adopted and youngest daughter of her country’s ruler, and Kuikin and Vertir, two agents of one of the country’s leading officials. As the story opens, Lin—last in line to succeed to the throne—is putting the finishing touches on what seems to be the major preoccupation of a solitary life: an intricate scale model temple built from the delicate bones of hummingbirds. Kuikin and Vertir, on the other hand, are enjoying a bit of the good life while posing as foreign investors in an anti-corruption investigation.
The stuff hits the fan when Lin’s father, the Dynast, dies and she must flee for her life with no one to assist her but a servant and her giant pet killer spider, Snub. The resulting narrative is an enjoyably paced adventure that includes, among other things, an impressive fight with blood ants. Though the story comes to a satisfying conclusion, it can also be read as the beginning of what I hope will become an ongoing series.