The Crusading Wizard (Wizard in Rhyme, A)
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THE WIZARD AT WAR
From beyond the mountains, a monstrous scourge sweeps down the steppes--a bloodthirsty barbarian horde, seemingly endless in numbers and hell-bent on conquest. With each nation that falls before their murderous onslaught, the marauders draw closer to Merovence, where good Queen Alisande rules with the help of her husband, Royal Wizard Matt Mantrell.
Now Matt and Alisande receive an urgent call for help from Jerusalem-- destined to be the barbarians' next target. But when Matt arrives in the Holy City to assess the imminent threat, he makes a shocking discovery: The power-mad khan who rules the ravaging minions is in league with a far greater and more dreadful enemy! With the aid of his old ally the djinn princess, a giant talking bird, and a fledgling enchantress with the power to change into a cat, Matt must call upon every resource, magical and mortal, to defy the triumph of pure evil . . .
can tell me where they are! Do, I pray thee, or I shall have to confront this Chance of whom you speak.” “Not Chance, never Chance, never.” Fortune came fluttering toward her, arms out to embrace. “Poor dear, poor bereaved lass!” She folded the unwilling djinna into her arms. “Courage, though, for you have regained the husband who was stolen from you already. Ah, if I could tell you where your babes are, I would, but even I know only that Arjasp has spirited them away to Central Asia, and there
not to tell her that she’d been born where the horde came from—but that reminded him of the older priest’s words. “Did you understand what they said, the priests who tried to strangle us?” “Priests?” Balkis asked, wide-eyed. “What manner of priests seek to slay?” “Ones who worship Kali, the destructive aspect of a great goddess,” Matt explained. “Could you understand their words?” “Not a one! Could you?” Matt nodded. “Back there on the galley, I recited a spell that let me understand any
inns were faced with stucco between the beams that held them up. The streets were cobbled, and though dogs ran barking after the mules as before, there was also the scent of many, many cats, some with a musky overtone that Balkis found exciting, though she could not say why. Still, some wariness within her held her aloof; she did not go out at night to find other felines. Somehow she knew they were not really her own kind. She stayed instead with her drivers and her merchant, and listened under
Lady Eldori entered with furtive glances at Lakshmi. Ramon rose in respect. “Please sit, my lord,” Lady Eldori said automatically. She glanced at Lakshmi and tilted her chin up with a sniff of scorn for the scantiness of the guest’s attire. Jimena said, “Lady Eldori, may I present the Princess Lakshmi.” Lady Eldori stared, then, flustered, dropped a curtsy. “Your Highness! My pardon for not recognizing your exalted station!” “Granted,” Lakshmi said, amused. With a nervous glance at her, Lady
discover the reason,” Jimena called above the wind. “Princess, can you set us down behind a hill, so that we not afright their horses?” “Or their infantry,” Saul muttered. “Is this delay necessary?” Lakshmi demanded. “I fear it is,” Jimena replied. “Alisande would not be returning if Arjasp and his wizards had not wrought some new deviousness. We must learn what.” “I suppose we must,” the djinna grumbled, and sank downward toward a brush-covered hill. Just before its top cut off sight, Saul