The Warlock is Missing

The Warlock is Missing by Christopher Stasheff Read Free Book Online

Book: The Warlock is Missing by Christopher Stasheff Read Free Book Online
Authors: Christopher Stasheff
Tags: sf_fantasy
turned ashen. "What manner of warlock-lings are these, that do catch things with their thoughts? Only witches may do so!"
    "Nevertheless, that power's ours, come to us from our father," Magnus explained.
    "And wilt thou, then, bedevil a poor old woman with this power of thy sire's?" Phagia spat. "Nay, then! Contend with this!"
    Nuts suddenly rained down on them, as though a thousand manic squirrels had jumped in for target practice.
    "Ouch! Oh!" Cordelia wrapped her arms around her head and ducked. Her brothers howled with dismay; the nuts hit hard .
    "We must meet this all as one!" Magnus cried. 'Together, now! Up !"
    The other children squeezed their eyes shut and joined their thoughts to his, and the rain of nuts backed upward, away, leaving a dome of clear air about them, as though the small missiles were bouncing off a huge, invisible umbrella.
    "Wilt thou then band against me?" Phagia snarled. "Nay, I must teach thee manners! Avaunt!"
    Flames leaped up about the children, roaring toward them, leaving a wake of char behind.
    "Be mindful!" Magnus shouted. "Fire's but the heat of molecules in motion! Slow them, still them! Make them cool!"
    All four children stared at the flames, thinking tranquil thoughts, slowing movement, spreading it over a much wider area, transferring energy throughout the floor of the clearing. The day seemed to grow a little warmer, but the fire died.
    Phagia stared at the smouldering char, appalled.
    Magnus heard Geoffrey's thoughts: Brother, leave her or subdue her. An we do neither, she shall attack again .
    Magnus nodded. We might then injure her as we fought back — and Mama and Papa would be angered .
    Nor should we leave her free to follow , Geoffrey added.
    Magnus agreed. "Let us do what we must."
    Phagia's head snapped up, fear suddenly contorting her features. She lifted a clawlike hand—but Cordelia stared at the crone's feet, and they shot out from under her, whipping up level with her shoulders. She screeched; then her face hardened with determination and her feet slowly moved downward.
    Cordelia bit her lip, face tightening with strain, and the witch's feet moved upward again. She howled with rage, and they steadied.
    Magnus glanced at a vine that had wrapped itself up high, around a tree. It uncoiled, whirling backwards around and around the trunk, then groping out toward Phagia. Geoffrey frowned at it, and the vine broke off near its root, then whipped about the witch five times, pinning her arms to her sides. Phagia shrieked with horror, then clamped her jaw shut and heaved at the vine with all the strength of an adult mind. Sweat beaded Geoffrey's forehead as he fought to keep the vine in place—but as he did, Gregory reached out with mental fingers to whip the ends into a square knot. Phagia screeched, but Geoffrey relaxed with a smile. "Well done, tadpole."
    " 'Tis well thou didst teach me that knot last Friday," lisped little brother.
    "A pox upon thee!" old Phagia raved. "Thou knaves, thou curmudgeons! Hast thou naught else to do, but thou must needs torment a poor old beldame?"
    "We did naught to trouble thee," Geoffrey contradicted.
    "Nor would we have, hadst thou not turned upon us." Cordelia spoke more gently, trying to balance Geoffrey's contrariness.
    "Turned upon thee! Eh! Innocent children, thou knowest not what those words do mean! Turn upon thee! Nay! But wait till thou hast had all the folk of a village come to chase thee, hounding thee from out thine home to harry thee throughout the countryside! Wait till they have caught thee, and bound thee to a ducking-stool, to sink thee in deep water, deprive thee of thy breath! Wait till thou dost feel thy lungs clamoring for air, till thou canst no longer bear it and must breathe, yet know thou'lt suck water in if thou dost—then they hale thee up into the air, at the last second, screaming, 'Vile witch, confess!' And thou dost not, for whosoe'er it was that did the wrong they've found, it was not thou! Yet they will

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