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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.


Imagine this rose, streaked with a yellow so pale to be almost white, a red bleaching into salmon, a swirl of colors in one small bloom; imagine the scent, sweet and fresh, and then perhaps you will understand why the Particolor Knight from the Summer Lands chose such an unknightly name for himself.
Fruité did not fight with swords; his weapon of choice was words, the power of promise and memory and regret, of fear and longing and illusion. Knights of yellow and red and salmon and white were at his bidding, following him and the spell he created.
With such power, Fruité could have done great works in the Summer Lands, but instead he chose to use his power for his own gain. The Summer Lands had no king, no prince, no duke; they ran their country according to the old ways, that of choice by the people.
It was this that allowed Fruité to change the course of history during the age of the Rose Knights.
The illusion Fruité created best was that of fear, and a people who fear will do anything to push the fear away, to regain a world in which they can feel safe again. He created threats on all sides, threats within the borders of the Summer Lands themselves, specters of destruction from the outside and degeneration from the inside. When a band of renegade knights from the Land of the Inner Sea attacked towns along the western border, taking away women and riches, through Fruité's words it became a menace to the foundation of their way of life, a wave of danger from the west which would sweep away the freedom and prosperity of the Summer Lands. Fruité took war beyond skirmishes, beyond small battles of defense to full-scale attack, but such was his command of illusion that the people of the Summer Lands and the Rose Knights fighting in his army all believed the war was retaliation, not aggression.
And so a war was waged against the Land of the Inner Sea, waged and won, and Fruité became the most powerful leader west of the Fire Mountains.
Now, this war begun by Fruité was not the sort of war which had been waged in these lands before, at least not in remembered time. The war which had been continuing off and on as long as there had been Rose Knights, the war between the Armies of the Sun and the Armies of the Moon, was a war of ideologies, fought intermittently and often not at all, a contest between magic and reason, struggling more for hearts than for victory.
Fruité's war was different. He and his Knights of Many Colors fought for aggrandizement, for the Summer Lands and the Summer Lands only.
I would like to be able to tell you that Fruité's march east to the Fire Mountains was stopped, that the people he led awoke from his spell and deposed him, that he did not retain his power for decades, extending the realm of fear north, south, east, west.
But some stories do not have happy endings.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, January 2nd, 2019
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