Occasionally Yoon will write a shorter piece that evokes a mood or offers a glimpse into a strange life, a strange world. These are available online in full for your enjoyment.

Two Bakeries

In a city where tame peacocks wandered the promenades and trees mingled their branches in graceful arches, there lived two bakers.  It was not a small city, of course; there were other bakers as well.  But these two bakers were notable because their bakeries were side by side on the same street.  One had a sign painted with a sheaf of wheat and a blue rose.  The other had no sign at all.

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Tiger Wives

Past the lowlands of hell and their unmentionable rivers, beyond the clangor of hammers on unwhole anvils, lies a city whose name is only written ringed with formulas of fear.  Its queen has eyes the color of an extinguished sun, in a smooth, sweet face that has told many lies.  At her throat is a rough stone, and her hands are hidden by gloves sewn stiff with the hair of corpses.  She has no shortage of such gloves.

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Sometimes it’s about thunder, and sometimes it’s about the pale horses who thrash the sea into storm, and sometimes it’s about gunfire opening your heart.  Fruits smashed down to their glistening pits.  Petals that stain your wrists; wine that scours your throat.

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The Third Flower

At the end of the world was a mountain, and in the hidden heart of the mountain was a maze.  At the center of the maze, the stories said, there bloomed a flower.  Storytellers from the riverlands said the flower was fair as morning, and shone with its own light.  Storytellers from the drylands said the flower had petals dark as shadow, and perfumed the entire maze with the scents of extinct fruits.  And storytellers from the mountain itself said the flower was no flower, but the chrysalis of a goddess.

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Steel Ever Shining

Tea of roses scented the room where Jeru knelt, head bowed as she spoke her devotions to the saint of steel-ever-shining.  As a girl, s he had stared at her father’s shrine and the beautiful mural of the saint with her long, curly black hair and her flawless dark skin, her unfathomable smile.  Her father had caught her one day and cuffed her lightly.

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A Single Pebble

The ruined palace of the ancient sea queen was bright and hard with treasures: ropes of shark’s teeth and flawed tourmalines woven in webs that spiders would have wept over; the keels of ancient ships with the fates of nations written upon them in the language of barnacles; crowns set with mirrors instead of gems so that the wise would see their own wisdom reflected back to them.  But although each treasure had been wrought under the sun’s eye and the moon’s smile, none held any warmth.

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The School of the Empty Book

At the School of the Empty Book, children are not taught to read until they are ten years old.  Ten is one of the ten holy numbers.  There are ten great sages, each associated with a flower of rare medicinal properties.  There are ten sword-saints, such as Shiema of the Storm and Kir Red-Hand.  And there are ten chronicles of battles past and future in the book everlasting.

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Raven Tracks

The thing to know about ravens is that they don’t leave tracks the way other birds do.  It is not just a matter of raven feet, of tearing raven talons.

Rather, ravens leave their thoughts scattered sideways in out-of-print books, in footnotes that should not be there and that are written in extinguished languages.  Sometimes they discuss the number of coins it would take to imbalance a businessman’s greed.  Sometimes they dissect (pitilessly, that goes without saying) the libretti of operas where too many characters wear black.  They find it presumptuous.

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The Pale Queen’s Sister

The mountain court of the pale queen was bright with treasures: dew harvested from young roses and trapped inside crystal lockets; shirts of silk sewn so densely with hematite beads that they shimmered like hauberks; vases imprinted with the feather-patterns of ascending firebirds.  But for all the splendors in her court, the queen was not pleased.  For ten-and-three years she had warred with an empire of scythes and fissures, and for ten-and-three years she had been losing.

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The Palace of the Dragons

In the dark seas, in the deep and stirring waters, the dragons are building a palace.

Dragons do not build in human time, although they sometimes permit seers and unwed peasant daughters and abalone divers to swim among them.  They do not build in coral time, although they sometimes plant coral gardens.  They do not even build in fossil time.

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