The Sword

The Sword by Jean Johnson Read Free Book Online

Book: The Sword by Jean Johnson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jean Johnson
fine-spun gold. As she watched in silence, uncertain whether his presence meant ravisher or jailer or whatever her confused mind couldn’t think of just yet, he moistened his forefinger and thumb, eased up the corner of the next page, and slowly glided his hand to the center of the edge. A pause as he finished reading whatever was on that side, and he gently flicked the sheet over. Giving her a glimpse of printed characters that weren’t English, though her mind struggled to perceive them as it did English.
    The slight headache at the back of her eyes was proof enough that there really was magic at work around her, that she really was no longer in Kansas anymore—so to speak—and not just caught in a dream-induced delusion. She rubbed at her forehead and temples, then drew in a breath and spoke when he didn’t acknowledge her movement. “What am I doing in here?”
    â€œStaying in here.”
    â€œSo I’m a prisoner?” Kelly asked warily.
    â€œYou’re a nuisance. And a danger. As soon as my brother has recovered, he’ll find a place to dump you and send you there.”
    â€œOh, like I asked to be yanked from my home and off to a universe full of magic,” she snapped back, irritated at the decidedly unfriendly reply to her enquiry. “Mind you, I’m damned glad I’m not dead, burned to a crisp by those bigoted, close-minded, asinine fanaticals, but I haven’t exactly had a comfortable time since I arrived here, either, you know!”
    He frowned over at her, abandoning his book for a moment. “What do you mean by that?”
    She gaped at him. He didn’t know? “First you attack me, then you yell at me, then you attack me again, make me drink a horrid potion, and now I’m your prisoner in this less-than-Best-Western room, and you ask me why I’m not comfortable with all of it?”
    He snapped the book shut, dropping his legs to the floor to sit forward and glare at her. “I meant, what do you mean by ‘yanked from my home and off to a universe full of magic ’?”
    â€œMy universe doesn’t have magic potions that make communication in bizarre languages instantly possible! Most people don’t even believe real magic exists, where I come from,” she added pointedly. “I wouldn’t believe it myself if I wasn’t suffering from it firsthand, today. I’m grateful to be able to communicate, don’t get me wrong, but all of this has been happening without my knowledge, or my fully disclosed consent.”
    He stared at her. And stared at her. And stared at her.
    â€œWhat?” she demanded defensively as he kept staring at her with those hard gray eyes.
    â€œI am going to kill my brother,” the man stated flatly. “He knows damned well that transdimensional crossings are forbidden, when one of the realms has no magic!”
    â€œExcuse me?” Kelly returned, arching her partially singed brows. “If he’s the one who did the bibbity-bobbity-boo thing and dragged me here across the multiverse or whatever, then if you’re going to kill him, I sincerely hope there’s someone else who knows exactly what universe to send me back to. Hopefully not to the exact moment I left, though. I’d rather stay here in loopy Wonderland than go back and die in a really bad case of murder by arson, thank you very much!”
    That made him scowl. But not at her. “Someone deliberately set a fire to kill you?”
    â€œWell, I don’t exactly have proof,” she pointed out. “But there were a bunch of prejudiced, ignorant bigots living in the town I’d moved to, idiots who thought I was involved in witchcraft—whether or not that’s a respectable career here, it certainly isn’t considered to be by most people back in my universe.
    â€œThey also hated me simply because I was involved in a group that liked resurrecting the old ways and cultures of

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