Poor World

Poor World by Sherwood Smith Read Free Book Online

Book: Poor World by Sherwood Smith Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sherwood Smith
training,” was the answer. “Come inside. You had the evening to explore, and to consider. I want your final answer, but first I will lay out the plan.”
    Gulp. Suddenly my insides were a pit of hissers, and appetite vanished with my courage.
    â€œDid you mention breakfast?” he went on, quite normally.
    â€œWell, yes, unless the plan is to starve me to death,” I said, desperately fighting not to let my voice show my tension.
    â€œOf course I don’t want to starve you to death. Why should I? When you’re hungry, ask.”
    â€œI’m asking.”
    â€œGranted.” He slipped his hand into his pocket, spoke in the undertone reserved for spells, then he said, “We’ve recently reached our goal for launching the initial stage of my plan. I wish we’d found you when we first assessed your country. You’d now be trained, and able to participate in the larger plans. As it is you’ll only have one job, but it’s a start.”
    Right then the door opened and a flustered about Seshe’s age girl rushed in bearing a tray. She wore a plain gown, with an apron over it. A kitchen helper? So they didn’t always have magic, I thought, remembering what the girls had told me the night before. Or maybe only at meal times, and I’d managed to miss one yet again.
    The girl avoided my eyes as she set the tray down on a small table against the wall, which already had a jug of water and several glasses on it. Then she ran out.
    The man was standing at the window, hands clasped behind him. Looking at the jail? I looked doubtfully at him, then at the food — eggs-and-cheese and some kind of potatoes — and then sat down at the little table, poured myself a glass of water, and dug in. Weird as the situation was, I ate fast and enjoyed every bite, and drank a couple glasses of water. Too hungry and thirsty not to.
    I was almost done when the man spoke again. “I’ve been working on this plan for most of my life. Do you have dreams?”
    I stopped the fork halfway to my mouth. “Dreams?” I shuddered, remembering the nightmares.
    He turned away from the window and moved to the desk at a quick, almost restless pace, except he didn’t fidget or tap like restless people do. “Dreams. Goals. Do you?”
    â€œOf course! Who doesn’t?”
    â€œPlenty of stupid people who don’t, who have the mental speed of turtles. Have your dreams come true?”
    â€œExcept for one,” I said without thinking.
    â€œWhat is that?”
    I hesitated, wishing I would learn to think first. “Sure you want to hear it?”
    I took a deep breath, set the tray aside — and it vanished. Weird. “To kick Shnit from one end of his disgusting birdbomb of a castle to the other, and then back again the long way.”
    He laughed — he really seemed delighted. “A good one,” he said. “I have more fatal designs in mind for Shnit.” He stopped the pacing and pointed at me. “This is one of the reasons you’re here,” he said. “Besides all your other promising qualities, you feature in Shnit’s list of enemies. You’ve defeated him on your territory, with far fewer weapons at your command, and in a limited sense, you defeated him in his.”
    I stared, amazed he’d know that much about my misadventures. I thought about saying that my so-called wins had been luck (Not that he’d even know what that was, it being an Earth idea, nothing they have here), trickery, or help from the right people at the right time, but I managed this time to keep my lips locked.
    He said, “I want to reorganize the world, to rid the citizens of stupid, corrupt, incompetent rulers. Of weak fools like Shnit. And I’ll get rid of the ugly ones. Shnit is ugly, and was even uglier when he was young. Corruption showed early in him ...”
    I was further amazed — scared into

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