The glorious River of Gleam carried upon its broad shoulders a slow moving burden of thick, reeking, mud. The days of its namesake, bright shining days of water and wax, were long past. Now it was wide, shallow, and its name draped in irony. It was a crap brown snake, sludging along through a landscape of dead pine and dying cities.

Fisher Tey stood up to her thighs in the muck waiting for her fortune to bite.

She held a pole, twice her height, in her hands. It looked like a long rake, but the tines curved into hooks. On her hips, were a pair of cranks, for adjusting the height of her stilts. She turned the right, retracting it, lifted her foot from the mud, took a step, and then cranked it back down until it found solid enough purchase. She repeated this step again with her left leg. In this manner, she proceeded out into the river.

After a dozen or so steps, she plunged her hook-rake into the mud and dredged it along the bottom, hoping to hook a pargle-fish. People described them as an enormous cross between a catfish, flounder, and sea-louse. It was something she had to take on faith. She’d never been to the ocean and hadn’t ever seen a flounder or a sea-louse. She’d caught catfish before though and could attest that their whiskers were similar to those of a pargle-fish, albeit much smaller.

Nobody ate pargle-fish though. The very thought repulsed her. They were oily, blackish, and mud stained. She couldn’t imagine anyone being desperate enough to crack into one and actually eat the soft, stinking flesh, inside. It wasn’t why she was fishing for them.

It was for the wax.

As the revolting things dredged the bottom their rows of gills forced mud through them. Over the years, wax residue, tiny particulate in the slop, would build up. A four foot pargle could provide several pounds of wax. An old one, one of the big ones, was worth a fortune.

Over a decade, she’d been fishing, nearly every day, and in all that time she’d managed to bag two. The first was tiny, not much bigger than her hand. She threw it back. The second was the length of her leg. She was still living on the money it had made her four years ago, but it was dwindling. She needed another one.

There was no containing the rush of excitement she felt when her pole connected with something large and soft. Deftly, she twisted her wrist and jerked, latching the hooks into it. She braced herself, waiting for the inevitable jerk back as the creature fought to escape, but it didn’t come. She pulled, and felt the weight of it. She’d caught it for sure. Straining, she lugged it to the surface.

It was a man.


A river of magic wax blocked by greedy overlords, a dead man pulled from the muck of time, and a lone fisher-woman on an incredible journey. Sign up to check out over forty pages of a unique fantasy world!