Read Witch Doctor - Wiz in Rhyme-3 Online

Authors: Christopher Stasheff

Tags: #Fiction, #General, #Science Fiction, #Fiction - Fantasy, #Fantasy, #Fantasy - General, #Fantastic Fiction, #Wizards, #Fantasy - Series

Witch Doctor - Wiz in Rhyme-3 (59 page)

"Goosum like people for friends! Goosum want stay with Saw 'n'

Fish'un! " "I think that can be arranged," I said slowly, trying not to let him see I was touched. "But you'll have to let me renew your anti-peopleeating spell now and then."

"Sure, sure! Goosum no like sojer-taste, anyway!" He made spitting noises.

I wondered how he had found out.

,I think," Matt said slowly, "that he has really begun to think of you and your companions as friends."

I nodded. "All I have to do is broaden the scope, extend the feeling to all mankind."

"I dunno," Matt said dubiously. "it hasn't worked on people."

"Yeah, but he's a little more direct," I said. "Somehow, his trollish nature's been modified. He's basically pretty decent now."

"As are you," Angelique murmured sleepily. I bridled, then remembered that I didn't exactly want her to think differently. "Fundamentally, maybe-but it's buried pretty deep."

"Then I shall delve," Angelique answered. I turned to her. "I thought that was my job." Matt began.

"Hey, that's what we were taught when we were kids, right? At least, in our universe."

"Oh," Matt said brightly. "You've figured out this is all real, eh?"

I backed fast. "Well, that's what the Spider King said. I still think it makes more sense to declare this all to be one huge, massive, hallucination."

"If it is," Matt said, "your subconscious is a great one for details."

"I have run into a few things I didn't know about," I admitted.

"That doesn't mean this is all real. "No," said Matt, "but that isn't the question that matters."

I frowned. "Then what is?"

"Can you return to our native universe? If you can, then this could

She blushed.

"If that's your idea of a sin

all be a dream-but if you can't, then you're stuck here, and whether it's real or not, you're going to have to behave as if it were, or you're going to collect a lot of pain."

"Good point," I said, frowning, "but it's true of our own universe, too. No, the real question is: Do I want to go back?" Angelique stirred against me, in just the wrong way. I turned to her. "What do you think, Prime Distraction?" For answer, she reached up and pulled my face down to hers, giving me that long, long kiss I'd been dying for, but had been embarrassed to go after in public. I sat stiff for a moment, taken by surprise-but then I recovered, loosened up, and began to do a proper job of it. Finally, we came up for air, and I heard somebody whistling. I glanced over and saw Matt surveying the courtyard, entirely too casual about it.

Gruesome, though, was more direct, as usual. He was watching us and grinning like a watermelon.

I turned back to Angelique, and her glowing eyes became my entire universe again. Suddenly all that mattered was whether or not she was real.

"Never leave me," she breathed, her voice husky but imperious.

"Never leave me, while I hold breath!"

"or Maybe not even after," I agreed. "I wouldn't even think of itagain. "

She smiled and turned her face up for another kiss. Some time later, I lifted my face an inch or so away from hers, breathing hard and ignoring Gruesome's chuckling. "I warn you, though-I'm not going to put up with any nonsense about postponing the wedding for any three years."

"Neither," she said, "will I." And her lips drifted up toward mine, parting, drawing mine down toward them ...

Just then, a trumpet blew.

We got up, turning to look.

Queen Alisande was standing over Gilbert with a drawn swordand he was kneeling, with his head bowed. Threat! I leapt for them, my heart in my mouth.

But Matt clapped a hand on my shoulder. "Easy, easy. She means honor, not harm."

I hesitated-and in the delay, the Black Knight, next to the Queen, cried out, "Know ye all that this squire, hight Gilbert, of the Order of Saint Moncaire, hath proven himself in combat! By striving and arduous campaigning, he hath given evidence of his tenacity, of his virtue, and of his dedication to goodness and God! Therefore on this day, here in the place of battle, the queen of Merovence shall do him honor! " Alisande laid the sword on his left shoulder, then on his right, intoning, in that clear alto voice that made me realize what Matt saw in her, "I hereby dub thee knight!" Then she lifted the sword-and slugged him with a quick left hook. His head rocked, but he held still.

I didn't. I almost leapt for her right then. Fortunately, Matt still had hold of my shoulder-because she went on to cry out, "Rise, Sir

Gilbert! " My erstwhile squire rose, flushed with pleasure and honor, and bowed low to his queen.

I relaxed and joined in the cheering.

When it slackened, the queen beckoned-and Frisson stepped up!

"Until we can find the last legitimate scion of your last legitimate monarch," Queen Alisande called out, "I shall be your queen!"

A huge massed cheer went up.

I wondered how long they would feel that way. What was the dividing line between liberation and conquest, anyway?

"Yet I cannot stay to govern you in person!" she cried.

"Therefore I shall appoint for you a viceroy, to rule in my place, and the place of your own king-one who has proved his wisdom in this long struggle to displace the usurper, and proved his steadfastness and loyalty to right. I give you the Viceroy Frisson!" This time the yell was even more heartfelt than before. Frisson looked about him, damn near panicking-then saw me and gave me the most doleful, pleading look of his life. I smiled, nodding, hoping I looked as reassuring as I intended, trying to make him realize I'd stand by him-and it must have worked, because he relaxed, just a little, recovered his composure, and turned to wave at the crowd. In fact, I saw him straightening and seeming to grow larger and more poised, even as they cheered.

The shouting died, Frisson stepped aside-with alacrity, if it must be told-and Friar Ignatius stepped forward. He raised his hands, crying, "Let the infirm of body, but affirmed of heart, step forward!" Everybody drew back, no one wanting to get in the way of the sick ex-witches. They tottered forward and knelt.

"I shall hear all your sins and shrive you all one by one," Friar Ig

natius declared, "but for fear that some might die even while I spoke, I conferred upon you all conditional absolution. Yet now we must heal your bodies, that your pain may cease. Master Saul, come forward! " "What? Me? What for?" I demanded.

"Why, to heal them, of course!"

"Oh, yeah, sure! Come on, Frisson!"

I stepped forward-and the witches cheered, then began to chant,

"Hail the Doctor of Witches! Hail the Witches' Doctor!" The crowd took it up. "The Witch Doctor! The Witch Doctor!" I just stared, thunderstruck. "Not me!" Matt frowned at me. "You mean you didn't know?" And then he began to laugh.


"A wandering Catholic, aye, A thing of texts and catches." Early in life, Christopher Stasheff found a catch in almost every point of Catholic dogma except the main ones, and has been spiritually wandering ever since. He has a lot of doubts about the Church, but only

questions about the Faith.

one day, he realized that most of the medieval fantasies he read seldom mentioned the Devil, and never God. He vehemently maintained that wasn't the way medieval Christians really saw the world-they saw God everywhere, in everything, and the Devil always lurking, looking for an opening-and that authors really ought to write their fantasies a little closer to reality. Then he realized that, being a fantasy author, he was stuck with writing his next story that way. He spent his early childhood in Mount Vernon, New York, but spent the rest of his formative years in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He has always had difficulty distinguishing fantasy from reality and has tried to compromise by teaching college. He tends to prescript his life, but can't understand why other people never get their lines right. This causes a fair amount of misunderstanding with his wife and four children. He seeks refuge in fantasy worlds of his own making and hopes you enjoy them as much as he does.

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