A fantasy novelette published in F&SF June 2001. Dedicated to Ch’mera and those who teach math (you know who you are). There are references in one of the magic systems to topology, fractal symmetry and Cantorian set theory, but they’re not necessary to figure out the story. Reprinted in In Lands That Never Were, a F&SF reprint anthology ed. Gordon Van Gelder, in Fall 2004.
Counting the Shapes
How many shapes of pain are there? Are any topologically related? And is one of them death?
Biantha woke to a heavy knocking on the door and found her face pressed against a book’s musty pages. She sat up and brushed her pale hair out of her face, trying to discern a pattern to the knocking and finding that the simplest one was impatience. Then she got to her feet and opened the door, since her warding spell had given her no warning of an unfriendly presence outside. Besides, it would be a little longer before the demons reached Evergard.