“The Tavern at the Ford” by Dave Smeds (Originally published in Sword and Sorceress XXVIII.) Until that awful night, Azure had always assumed she would live out her entire life in the village. That’s how it had been for generations. Grandpa had shared the history one day while standing with her on the old stone bridge. “There used to be a ford there,” he said, pointing to the willow flats where Coil and Azure liked to play. Grandpa’s great-grandmother Cinnamon had drowned there while crossing the river. Her husband Fleet had built the bridge in her memory, working through his grief by making sure no one else would die that way. Dave Smeds has authored novels, short fiction, comic book scripts, and screenplays in a variety of genres including science fiction, contemporary fantasy, superhero, martial arts, horror, and erotica, but he is particularly at home when writing imaginary-world fantasy, as in his novels The Sorcery Within, The Schemes of Dragons, and the forthcoming The Wizard's Nemesis. He is even more at home with imaginary-world short fiction, which has appeared in magazines such as Realms of Fantasy and anthologies such as Dragons of Light, Sorceries, Enchanted Forests, Return to Avalon, Lace and Blade 1, 3, and 4, and in seventeen volumes of Sword and Sorceress. He lives in the wine country of northern California with his wife and son. About the Narrator: Anthony Babington is a voice in the internet’s head, who looks almost, but not quite, exactly how you expect him to. Having escaped from the sinister forces of Texas, he has retreated to an ingeniously disguised bunker in a secure, undisclosed location in Burnsville, Minnesota. His life goal is to someday annoy someone into letting him voice a part on Escape Pod, but until then, he'd be happy to voice a project for you. yes, you in the checked shirt. Contact him on Google Plus, or on Twitter at @AlephBaker.