A mysterious presence stalks the hallways of the Sky-King's palace, stealing dreams and condemning the king's dancers to a living death. The task of unraveling this mystery falls to young Aesva, the last living bearer of the Gift. But she is young; inexperienced; and the woman most able to assist her has already died.
Only Aesva can see the heartfires that flicker in the souls of the king's dancers. Only she knows that the heartfires are vanishing. Desperate to protect her loved ones, aided by a cadre of timid, silver-furred tamarins, Aesva must find a way to stop the unseen soul-thief that walks within the halls of the Sky-Palace.
This short story was originally published in Jim Baen's Universe and was recommended for a Nebula Award. The Gold Edition includes an author's note describing the origins of the story and the thematic underpinnings which give it meaning. Ms. Fulda discusses the genesis of the tamarins, the purpose of the Khondui, and her personal interpretation of the story's events.
©2009 Nancy Fulda (P)2014 Nancy fulda