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 . . .
drowning out the awed and fearful murmur of the people thronging the wall behind him. They hadn’t gone more than three paces before the sand before them began to stir and churn, as far as they could see from east to west and all the way to the desert horizon. Forms rose from the ground itself, and braced though he was, Matt nearly cried out in terror. CHAPTER 28 They were horned, they were horrid, they were whelked, they were warty. They came in sickening combinations of human and animal
confusing his speech. Matt strained to force his tongue and lips to shape intelligible words, but suddenly couldn’t even form a coherent thought. The attackers saw and started swinging with savage delight. A club cracked on the back of Matt’s head. The darkness closed in around the magician’s vindictive smile, then eclipsed even that, and the darkness settled in to stay awhile. Visiting hours were over, so the darkness had to go away. Light seeped in, and with it, a jackhammer headache. He
daughter. At first she only mewed in answer to their fond chatter, and they found it endearing. When she could walk, though, she sometimes strolled into the forest in the early morning or evening to talk with the trees, and old Greta, watching her face, could have sworn she heard the firs and pines reply. It was a year before Balkis happened to look out the doorway and see some kittens tumbling at play in the yard. She yearned to be with them, to be mock-fighting, though she knew she was too old
stumbled. She found a boulder and sat, amazed at her own weakness. She realized she must have spent a great deal of energy fighting the monster of mockery in her trance. She looked down and was surprised to see the little slipper still in her hand. “All right, all right, I’m cured!” Saul protested, but not very strongly. Lakshmi eyed him narrowly, then nodded. “You are. For once, you are right.” Saul bridled. “Whaddaya mean, ‘for once’? Why, I’ll have you know that—” He broke off, eyes
two other lengths of fabric—and bought one of them just to call the merchant’s attention to the transformation. At first the merchant scowled at discovering one of his wares missing, then positively beamed when he saw the price it had fetched. The veil slung over his shoulder like a serape, Matt strolled along the line of booths, enjoying a brief moment of relaxation. The shopkeepers might be enmeshed in the toils of commerce, but he felt a holiday air about the bazaar, as though he were a