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(1990) [Printed in "Reality Module No.5" in August 1998.]

This short story was written for a writer's workshop with Diane Duane at Octocon I in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland in 1990 - where, despite its faults, it was generally well received.

The original manuscript (but not the version for the workshop) was written with different coloured pens. I have tried to recreate something of the original look for this electronic version.

[ I ] [ II ] [ III ] [ IV ] [ V ] [ VI ] [ VII ] [ VIII ] [ IX ] [ X ]



From my window I can see over the canopy of trees, storm clouds gathering in the east. I roll up my sheet of parchment with a flourish, and place it, my quill and ink into a drawer of my desk. I close the drawer gently, rise, lean over to close the casement window, and check the time on my watch. I walk over to the valet and take up my cloak. I reach into the dark cupboard for my sword and scabbard and strap them on. Around my neck I place my large nickel amulet. I am dressed in black, ready for fight or flight. I listen carefully. There is someone downstairs.

I step out of the room, locking the door behind me, and sword drawn I climb slowly down the stairs. Round and round, the occasional narrow window affording a glimpse of grey sky and later ivy and the branches of trees.

This is Briar Castle, almost 800 years old, and at one time a place for pilgrims to gather on their journey to the edge of the world. Largely neglected for the last two hundred years, it has been my home, my retreat for silence, for the last five.

I open a door at the bottom of the stairs and enter a dark passage. Some people would call my castle gloomy - but I like its solidity, its great age and its solitude.

I enter the Great Hall. Four lamps still burn, and shadows dance among the chairs, the tables, and the tapestries. Outside the wind howls through the ancient trees.

There is a knock at the door. I rush down the hall and open the door to the courtyard. The wind howls louder.

Outside is a woman with wild eyes and long dark hair. She is wearing a white gown and silver sandals. She is the mysterious woman who calls herself Wendy Darling, and she is my friend.

"Hello," I cry out over the noise of the wind, "What brings you here?"

"Come!" she cries, "We must flee from here. Already the Empire of the Dark rises up to destroy us!"

"Why?" I ask.

She holds up a dark bracelet triumphantly, "I stole this from the Dark. From the very citadel of fear itself." The bracelet has seven sockets where stones may be set. "With this I can lay waste to the Dark Lord and all his armies. Come with me while I gather the stones of power from the seven levels of this world! I need your strength!"

"What if I remain?" I ask calmly.

"The Dark Lord will destroy your world! He knows that you are the only one who can help me."

"Alright, we go!" I walk into the courtyard and she follows me. It grows darker. The air is electric with the prelude to storms. There is a side gate which I open with my magic key. We run out into the trees.

"Which way?" I ask.

"Follow me!" she says and darts into the forest. I rush after her. Overhead the storm breaks; the rain lashes us like whips; the wind howls like a banshee; thunder booms like a primordial drum; the lightning flashes blue and electric.

We run through the woods, leaping undergrowth, ignoring twigs and thorns which tear at us our clothes wet, our eyes half-blinded by the rain, the ground muddy and slippery beneath us. Lightning blasts a tree between us. I leap over its smouldering trunk. We've reached a clearing. The earth begins to shake. Wendy stops suddenly.

"Give me your hands, quick!" she screams at me, "I know where we can go."

She takes my hands. Her eyes flash. Thunder, lightning, rain all vanish suddenly. We are in the clearing which is strangely different.

"We cannot remain here long," she says, "They will soon figure out where we have gone." She moves to the left. Under the trees is a strange machine.

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It is made of glass. Wendy opens a door and we climb inside and sit on a glass bench together. Ahead of us is a small picture tube faint blue script dances across its surface.

"Welcome to 1966!," she says as she closes the door. Outside there is a crack as the sky breaks apart. Wendy moves her hand and the machine begins to lift. We drift several inches above the ground.

"Where are we going?" I ask awestruck.

"We cannot go to the Citadel of the Dark by the conventional route. His armies guard all portals and vantage points! We will have to approach widdershins; we will circle around by shadow worlds."

Shadow worlds - those dark companions to the worlds we inhabit! Closely linked but mysterious and separate. I shudder.

The glass machine moves silently through the trees. I am surprised it can fit through the gaps between them. Suddenly around us the world grows darker.

Wendy looks quickly behind, grows pale, and then moves the machine forward faster and faster.

Suddenly - the final clearing. Tall pillars with ropes, where pilgrims would lower themselves over the edge of the world. Then the edge itself - and we tumble down down down into the long delicious blue.

Wendy clasps the bracelet as we plunge into the first shadow world.

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Wendy is a schoolgirl in a tight Edwardian uniform. I am the ghost of her long dead brother, her constant companion.

We are in the upstairs hall of the boarding school which has been her home for the past five years, since she was seven. Wendy should not be here. She should be in her French lesson. She shuffles along regardless, occasionally glancing at me, on her way to her room. She plans to pack her bags and escape.

A door opens. Wendy squeezes against the wall trying to be invisible. It is the hard regular tread of Miss Hardwicke, the Assistant Head Mistress. She catches sight of Wendy and drags her out into the harsh glare of the incandescent lamps.

"Wendy!" she screams, her hands tightly gripping Wendy's shoulders, "What the hell do you think you are doing out here? Answer me!"

"I feel sick Miss," says Wendy feebly. Miss Hardwicke doesn't believe a word of it and grabs Wendy's hair tightly and slaps her face until her nose bleeds.

Holding a stained white handkerchief to her nose, Wendy is dragged by Miss Hardwicke to the office of Mrs. Grimm the Head Mistress.

"Mrs. Grimm," says Miss Hardwicke gently - and then harshly, "I caught this little bitch in the corridor."

Mrs. Grimm looks at the trembling girl with the red-soaked handkerchief and her heart hardens. She dismisses Miss Hardwicke with a curt "I'll deal with her!" and then locks the door, placing the key in her pocket.

Mrs. Grimm sees only the young girl, she does not see me. I am helpless as a ghost.

Mrs. Grimm walks slowly towards Wendy, grabs her by the hair and drags her over towards the desk.

"So little bitch," she says cruelly, "You still refuse to behave yourself! There's nothing for you but the Red Treatment!" Mrs. Grimm takes a flick-knife out of her drawer and opens it.

Wendy begins to cry. Mrs. Grimm looks at her with hatred and says: "Quit crying or I'll scrape your eyes out - just like I did to Judy Morrison." Wendy remembers her blinded friend and stops crying.

Mrs. Grimm grabs Wendy's left arm and holds it to the table. With the flick-knife she makes a cut deep into the arm, and then another and another. Wendy whimpers uncontrollably, terrified to scream or cry. She bites her tongue; blood runs down her chin.

Mrs. Grimm continues cutting and scooping out the flesh. Her hand, her knife, and the surface of the desk have grown slick with blood.

"Your punishment," she says placidly, "Will be to live out the rest of your life with the sight of your arm bones."

Mrs. Grimm continues gaily chopping away at Wendy's arm. Wendy faints from shock.

A red bead detaches itself from the world and attaches itself to Wendy's bracelet.

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Our machine, six kilometres of gleaming metal, contains the last of Earth's children. They lie asleep below us. In their icy wombs they await birth and life in the new world we have selected for them - we and the computer.

We are the guardians of Earth's last starship. You will find us in the observation room surrounded by electronic holograms and display screens.

I hold Wendy tightly against me. She is crying bitterly. I am shocked speechless. Her butchered arm presses against me, but you cannot see the red absorbed by the black.

"Oh Michael! It hurts! It hurts!"

I raise my tear-filled eyes to the screens around us.

"There must be a medicinal-engine in here somewhere. Can you come with me dear Wendy and we will see if we can find it." I speak as gently as I can.

Wendy rises slowly to her feet. I stand next to her to hold her up if she faints. We walk towards a bank of display screens.

It does not take me long to find the medicinal-engine. The device recognises Wendy and her injury, and opens a small door for us to insert her wounded arm. I hold onto Wendy as the machine gets to work.

Wendy relaxes as the pain leaves her, and then looks puzzled as a strange grinding noise comes from inside the engine.

"It has taken off my arm," says Wendy quite frightened. It has - only a short stump remains.

I bring Wendy over a plastic container of nutritive beverage, which she takes gratefully. To take her, and my, mind off her injury I walk over to the central computer console.

"Status report!" I command.

"Children alive, 97. Three died of system failure. Energy level equals 89 percent of capacity. Estimated arrival at Procyon 4 in 42.3 years. Nothing abnormal to report," intoned the machine.

Wendy comes up to me and says: "Let's have a look at our children!"

We flick through images of our foetuses in their cryogenic wombs. Each is small, pink, perfect.

"Stop!" Wendy suddenly says.

Womb 43. The head has grown abnormally large and the jaw elongated. As we watch we can almost see further changes happening.

"Abort this one," says Wendy shocked. I press the relevant button. The cryogenic womb flushes into space. I hate doing this. I am murdering my child.

"Status report," I command.

"Children alive, 96. Three died of system failure, one aborted. Energy level equals 87 percent of capacity. Estimated arrival at Procyon 4 in 42.4 years. Slight course change to avoid asteroid belt. Traces of contaminant in growth chemicals."

"Something's happening," I say softly.

"The Dark is getting at the children," says Wendy calmly, "It is changing them into new shapes of its own devising."

We flick through the images of our children. The results of the Dark powers grows more obvious - as we watch our children are being altered into alien shapes.

"A cargo of monsters," whispers Wendy, "and there is nothing we can do about it."

"Status report," I command.

"Children alive, 92. Three died of system failure, one aborted, four dead by poisoning. Energy level equals 81 percent of capacity. Estimated arrival at Procyon 4 in 45.9 years. Slowing down to initiate decontamination procedure. Harmful organisms detected in observation room."

"That's here," I say - but only we are in the room. On screens all around us, we watch our children being mutated into dozens of horrifying forms. I catch a glimpse of an outside observation screen - we are rapidly approaching an orange sun.

"Status report," the computer begins unbidden, "Creatures alive, 88. Three died by system failure, nine killed by harmful organisms. Energy level equals 77 percent of capacity. Estimated arrival at location of Earth shell in 213.7 years. Have initiated close bypass of K-class star to decontaminate observation room."

"My god," I say, "They have gotten into the computer!"

The sun looms large in the outside observation screen. The room grows uncomfortably hot. Sweat runs down our faces.

Wendy raises her bracelet towards the sun's glare and an orange bead forms next to the red one.

Wendy smiles - and the last two human beings leave the starship Orion.

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Walls of white marble, a carpet of burgundy, pillars of gold.

Wendy is the Queen of Atlantis and I am her champion. She wears a shimmering silk gown of softest green and has a gold tiara in her dark hair. I am dressed in blue silk with a velvet robe and carry a golden sword.

She walks silently along the carpet in her bare feet, and turns to me.

"Michael, somewhere near here we will find the source of the yellow bead."

Nearby is an alcove in the wall. There is a small altar covered in rich velvet, a golden cup and a silver wand placed on it. Above it are three stained glass windows.

Wendy reaches for the cup, "This is golden! It must be this! There's liquid inside."

"No!" I shout, "It is an anachronism. It doesn't belong here!"

I knock the cup from her hands and it falls. The dark red liquid spills - burning holes in her gown and in the carpet. There is an acrid smell.

"You were right," says Wendy, "The grail is nine thousand years too early! It is a trap set by the Dark."

A ray of light stained yellow by the glass falls upon her wrist and her bracelet. A yellow bead shines there.

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I am an old man. Wendy is a small child in my arms. We are deep in the forest. As far as I can see willow trees grow. I am tired. I have been walking all day. I am searching for a special place in the forest to find healing for my child, who has been wounded by a wild beast.

I am dressed in peasants' garb, but I have a strange sword hanging at my side. I lower my child down - she is wrapped in a blanket, and take out the sword. The blade is long and narrow and of a dark grey metal. The pommel is of a hard but flexible black material I have not seen before. I find that I can rotate the handle and that this produces strange clicking noises inside the pommel - I do not know where I got this sword.

I come to a forest glade where the earth has been charred black and a strange beast lies charred and half-devoured by the side of the clearing. It is an ominous sign.

I pick up my child and hold her like a bundle against one shoulder, and carry the sword in my other hand. I leave the burnt clearing and enter deeper into the forest.

It grows darker as the trees grow thicker and a cold white mist begins to rise from the ground. I begin to hurry as the day is well-advanced and I want to reach the special place before nightfall.

The mist rises higher. I can hear a shuffling in the trees beside me. I stop and raise my sword.

Silence - and rising mist. I begin to walk once more.

I heard something that time! I stop again. The mist makes everything hard to see. I look around me carefully. Is that red eyes glowing in the mist?

It is - they blink.

"Who goes there?" I ask feeling shaken.

"It is I! Give me the child and I will not harm you," the voice is deep and reverberant.

I hug my child closer, and look down at my sword - as if considering. I turn the pommel until something clicks inside the sword, the pommel locks into place again, and a faint noise comes from inside it.

"No," I say.

"Then you must fight me!" The beast steps forward. It is a black minotaur. It carries a shield and a battleaxe. It raises the battleaxe above its head.

I dodge the first blow - more by luck than anything else. I place my child down - praying that nothing will steal her while I am pre-occupied by battle. I regard my sword. There is a red light on its hilt. Interesting.

The beast moves closer.

"I will despatch the child!" he says, raising the axe once more.

"No!" I cry breathlessly. I move towards him, swinging my sword under his throat. I am in great danger. He looks at me - and smiles. His shield knocks me to the ground!

I retain a grip on my sword. The beast looms over me, grinning. I can see his great yellow teeth. The axe rises.

My hands finger the pommel of my sword - trembling. I point my sword at the beast. A red ray erupts from my sword, striking the minotaur. He screams, and steps back, his axe falling to the ground.

I climb slowly, painfully to my feet. The beast regards me more warily now. A shoulder wound drips steaming blood.

The battleaxe lies between us. The beast bellows in rage but dares not move. Ah...I have found a depression on the sword which may release the ray! I scan the ground between the beast and I, and suddenly flash the red ray across the minotaur's chest. He bellows, in pain this time, and collapses to the ground. I hear a noise behind me, and spin around cleaving off a wolf's head with my blade. I pick up Wendy, walk carefully around the fallen beast, and enter once more the misty forest.

It is no longer quiet. The forest is aprowl with unseen creatures. Ever cautious, I look about me, and hurry in the direction I have to go.

A shadow looms! I grip my sword more tightly. Above us flies a black dragon with leathery wings! I run, jumping over shrubbery, gasping for breath, praying it will not catch me! Fires erupt all around me, it is hot, the creature soars above me.

Stop! A soft green glade. I collapse exhausted into the grass. It is our destination - The Enchanted Place.

* * *

Later. Dappled green light filters through the leaves. A child in a white gown is holding a golden cup to my face. I drink the bright liquid.

"Welcome!" she says. Her hair is golden.

"Hello. Where is my little girl?" I ask gently.

"She is safe. Amaranth makes her well. The beast bit deeply but we can remove the poison."

I slowly sit up. My child is being hugged by a young girl in a blue gown. Wendy chirps cheerfully.

"Thank-you." I say to the white-gowned lass.

She smiles at me: "We help all those who oppose the Dark. Here, I have something for you both."

I follow her as she walks towards the great tree. She takes up Wendy's magic bracelet and takes some leaves into her hand. They glow, and suddenly a new green bead joins Wendy's bracelet.

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"Do you know where it is?" I ask Wendy.

We are merchildren in the blue-green world. Above us the sky is a shimmering silver mirror, below us the blue-green grows deeper.

"It is down there...somewhere," she says waving her two good arms. A shadow passes over us as we dive. We watch yellow metal drums sink into the depths.

I follow her across orange rock and above green undulating plants amidst a multitude of sea creatures.

We dive deeper. It grows darker and suddenly very cold. Wendy stops - and indicates.

It is there. Twin barnacled steeples reach upwards; old stonework stained green and brown; the doors open inviting us into darkness. A cathedral sunk beneath the waves.

"How did it get here?" I ask in wonder.

"A landslide," she says, "nine hundred years ago."

We go inside. It is completely dark except for the light from five stained-glass windows.

"This is what I want to show you!" says Wendy, and we go towards them, "One of these is a key to the next world!"

The first shows a unicorn in a green field.

The second the moon over a pond of dark blue water. A water lily glows yellow and white.

The third a castle in a forest of dead trees. A grey brooding sky. Nothing living.

The fourth window is badly broken - but we see anaemic children's faces and a silver bridge in the sky.

The last is a little girl with a white dress and flowers in her hair. Her heart is exposed and bleeding.

"Which do you choose?" I ask.

"I choose the lily and the moon!"

It is a mistake. She touches the glass - and cries out. The moon glows brighter and brighter and the water lily moves reaching out for her, but Wendy can do nothing for her fingers are frozen to the glass. The light grows and glows. I squint my eyes against the brightness and move towards her. There is a subliminal sound like a choir of voices. The lily wraps tendrils around her, drawing her into the glass.

I feel around me - my eyes almost shut now, and find a rock or a lump of coral. I swim towards the window and Wendy's paralysed, terrified form.

I smash the window. Light dies. Wendy's body crumples and she would cry - if mergirls could cry.

"The Dark...the Dark," she whimpers.

I hug her and gaze down into her opaque eyes.

"They have blinded me," she whispers.

"We must go from here!" I say resolutely. I have just remembered something special about the next world and lead us towards the damaged window.

The seaworld gives us a blue bead as a parting gift as we pass through the glass into the next place. We leave our tails behind us, but there is no rejoicing for either of us.

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The ragged children stand around us. It is evening beneath the trees.

"Who is the blind girl?" they ask.

"She is my sister," I reply.

We walk away from the children but they follow us.

In front of us is a Tudor village with stone walls separating each house from its neighbours. I lead Wendy carefully by her arm - letting her know when the ground is uneven or branches cross our way.

In the centre of the village is a pond, and by the pond the villagers have built a bonfire. They stand around it warming themselves in the gathering twilight.

An owl hoots. Above us the silvery moon vanishes in a cloud. It is suddenly pitch black.

Then - the houses are round and built of stone. The pond has vanished and the bonfire has grown taller. The villagers are carrying spades and pitchforks. The children have gone. Wendy stops.

"There is a disturbance in the world," she says softly, "I can feel it. She concentrates deeply and then continues: "There is a gap here. The world is like a thin shell covering emptiness. This is the wounded world."

"Yes," I reply softly, "I know. I remembered. Where do we go now?"

"Around the village," she whispers, "in the direction of the moon. There is a bridge - I think I remember one."

There is a shuddering in the fabric of the world. The woods suddenly wilder around us, the stone houses fewer. The people are roasting a creature over the flames. They carry weapons. One of them notices us. He alerts the others.

"The villagers have seen us," I tell Wendy, "Some of them are coming this way."

The ground shakes, the sky vanishes. Suddenly everything around us feels smaller. The scene settles. Lone tents in a forest appear. People in skins carry spears. Once more we are hidden by trees.

"The world is too small for us," says Wendy cryptically, "It curls up into a dream."

We come to a clearing in a forest. A silver bridge on the other side casts light on the grass.

I look back. I can see the bonfire clearly behind us; the people are in a wild dance; the creature they are cooking is a man.

The world collapses behind us into an indigo bead for Wendy's bracelet. We step onto the forbidden bridge.

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We leave behind us the ghosts of a world still struggling to be one.

The bridge glows silver. Around us is an empty violet sky.

We walk slowly along the bridge; Wendy feeling her way along the railings. At each step static electricity builds.

Around us I can begin to make out voices. They are singing.

"It is the songs of dead children," says Wendy painfully, "Do not listen to them!"

The voices become louder and grow sweeter and more haunting. I stop still - fascinated. I can almost imagine a million tiny perfect angels around us all singing in harmony.

"Don't stop! Keep moving!" Wendy comes up behind me, pushing me along.

It is hard to move. I feel intensely weary. I would love to tumble off this bridge and fall through the violet air, becoming one with the voices in death. How sweet! How perfect!

"No! Keep moving! We mustn't stop here!" A faint voice behind me.

I feel like I am walking through honey. The bridge blurs. I grab the handrails preventing myself falling forward.

"Hurry! Power is gathering - I feel it! Ouch!"

The sky around the bridge grows lilac and misty. The voices tumble over and over each other in a rising crescendo of crystal harmonies! I cannot stand this much beauty! Stop it!


My vision clears. Ahead of us lies the end of the bridge and empty purple space.

Wendy comes up behind me. Her face relaxes.

"What is there...at the end of the bridge?" she asks breathing more slowly.

"There is nothing there!" I say.

"Everything is there...."

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The machine stops. Around us is perfect darkness. The only light coming from the flickering blue picture tube. It shines on Wendy's white gown and on her pretty face and on the thousand crystal mirrors of the glass machine. It is as if time is transfixed. I look at my watch and hold down the light button - the seconds still flick over. I look down at my sword with its glowing LED - it is peculiar that I did not recognise it as my own in the green wood. I look across at Wendy's bracelet with the seven coloured stones.

Wendy stirs as if waking from a dream. She turns to me. Her eyes are still blind and opaque.

"We must leave the machine. It has brought us as far as it can," she whispers.

"Where do we go?" I ask.

"Into the dark," she says.

"What will we find there?"

"The Darkness takes many forms."

She opens the door and climbs outside. I come after her. We hold hands. She locks the machine somehow and it recedes behind us in the darkness.

We walk across a darkened plain. The only light coming from the hilt of my sword. Wendy stops.

"We are in unanimated core world. I will have to make a passage from here to the citadel of the Dark. Hold onto me but leave my arms free!"

I cannot see what gestures Wendy makes, but she screams three words of power - and the sky tears like fabric letting in light from beyond.

My eyes adjust and I come to perceive a huge crystal ziggurat filling up the sky.

"What do you see?" Wendy asks me.

"A huge crystal structure."

"That is the fortress' shape in 1966," she says, "We have to go inside."

I am appalled at the size of the structure before us. I do not see how we can hope to prevail against something that can animate such forces. I feel helpless.

"Can't we attack the Dark when it is more vulnerable?" I whisper to Wendy softly.

"You would go back to the Garden and kill the serpent?" says Wendy amused.


Wendy shakes her head: "No we should never do that. It's the conflict between Light and Dark which generates the fascinating patterns they weave in our worlds. If we killed the serpent we would change the evolution and history of countless worlds - and who knows what new way the Dark would find to manifest itself? None of us is wise enough to decide the fate of all worlds! Now let's hurry."

She climbs over the tear she has made in the world. I am too awed to say anything.

"The best we can do is prune some of the Flowers of Evil; we must leave the roots; we don't know why they were put there."

We walk towards the crystal building, but it rushes forward and envelopes us. Then like the best 3D computer animation - the pieces disintegrate, rotate and transform - and come together again.

I am leading Wendy along a long medieval hall. There is a table next to us. In the distance beneath an azure tapestry is a wooden throne on which sits a knight in black armour. A black helmet covers his head.

"Welcome !" says a deep voice that seems to come from everywhere. The knight rises and turns to face us.

I bow to the knight and say: "Hello Dark." Wendy nods her head politely but holds the bracelet tightly in her hand.

"How can I help you?" says the voice respectfully, "Would you like some refreshment?" The knight waves his hand and food miraculously appears on the long table.

"No thank-you," says Wendy, "I've come to defeat you." She holds up the bracelet with its seven stones.

"What?" says the voice laughing, "With that bauble? How?"

"This bauble Mr. Dark," begins Wendy, "is linked to a vast network of energy centres in your power matrix."

"Interesting," says the voice without concern, "So what have we here with us...a blind girl and an inexperienced knight. Hardly the sort of team to win a battle against me!"

The knight steps forward and removes his helm. Beneath it is a youthful face with longish brown hair and blue-green eyes. I notice the black cloak, the nickel amulet and the long grey sword with the black handle.

"Will you do battle with me?" asks the knight.

Doppelganger! I do not like doppelgangers!

"No. I will not fight you Sir Knight," I reply.

"Suit yourself," he says - and spins becoming a blond-haired and pretty girl with a long sword.

"No," I state, "I do not like cutting the heads off women."

"Then," she says, "I should become a tribe of cute little children, and you won't fight me at all!"

"There are alternatives to the way of the sword," I state blandly. Her sword vanishes.

"Oh...and what might they be?" asks Miss Dark. I cast a quick glance at Wendy, she is smiling to herself.

"Actually I quite like it here Miss Dark. I like your decor," I say matter-of-factly.

"I am glad you approve. Actually I am an old romantic just like yourself. I refashioned the citadel just for you," She says.

"I am deeply honoured Miss Dark." I give a graceful bow. (All this time I am wondering what Wendy is up to - but I must give no hint of this!) My hands finger my sword.

"Nice tapestry," I say.

"Thank-you! I modelled it after one in France. Have you ever been to France?"

"No never," I reply, "but I'm told it's a marvellous country. May I have a closer look at the tapestry?"

"Certainly kind sir! I'll lower it for you."

The tapestry descends from the wall so that I can examine its design more closely.

"Come let me smother you in it." The tapestry moves closer to me - and then stops.

"That will not be possible Miss Dark," says Wendy, "While you and Michael have been casually chatting I have mapped out and gained some control of the power matrix of this building and have probed far into your network of energy centres in other worlds."

Miss Dark says nothing. She knows that everything Wendy has said is true.

"Come to me Michael," Wendy says, "Where are you?"

I rush over to Wendy and take her hand. Miss Dark stands at one end of the vast hall as if unsure what to do.

Wendy whispers to me: "Now Michael the fireworks start."

I can feel power building up in the hall. Miss Dark spins shadows around herself and emerges from them as a vast black demon.

"Give me the bracelet!" it says in a deep and very menacing voice.

"No. It is mine. You will not take it from me," Wendy says bravely. Her control over the power never falters.

I raise my sword, firing laser bolts across the demon's chest. It leaps back - hurt.

With a graceful wave of her arm, Wendy raises a force-field around us. Then she lets blast at the world of the Demon. I close my eyes at the supernova explosion - and open them to a world swept clean.

"Of course," states Wendy, "there is light here as well. There always is."

There are green trees on the horizon. Wendy raises us up in an energy bubble and around us it grows misty and white.

"Where to now, brave saviour of the universe?" I ask.

"You read too much science-fiction," she laughs, then continues: "Below us somewhere is the White Tower of the Archmage. I want you to find it for me and direct us there."

"Okay," I say, "but take us lower. This cloud obscures vision."

We descend - and all around us is a magnificent new world I have never seen before.


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Copyright © 1990 by Michael F. Green. All rights reserved.


Last Updated: 10 April 2003