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Geomancer

Trouble is brewing in the north.

First, Flarman Flowerstalk, the renowned firemaster, suddenly disappears. Then the Stone Men, who are under the enchantment of an ancient geomancer, capture and hold his apprentice, Douglas Brightglade. And now, magician Wong's homeland of Choin is in an uproar as warring factions fight over the emperor's throne.

Somehow the scattered fellowship of wizards must locate their missing members, break the old enchantments, and bring peace to the Choinese in time for Douglas to pass his firemaster exam and marry Myrn Manstar.

Book 3 of the Mancer series

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Don Callander

Donald Bruce Callander
March 23, 1930 -- July 25, 2008

Don Callander was the best-selling author of the 'Mancer series and the Dragon Companion series. Don originally worked as a travel writer/photographer and graphic designer before retiring to start his writing.

Don was born in Minneapolis, brought up in Duluth, Minnesota, and graduated from high school there before enlisting in the U. S. Navy in 1947. After serving four years on active duty (including the Korean War) he transferred to the Naval Reserve where he served as a 'weekend warrior' for twenty additional years.

He settled in Washington, D.C., where he married, raised four children, and worked on the Washington Post newspaper and in National Headquarters of the American Automobile Association (40,000,000 members!) until his retirement in 1991.

During his retirement, Don lived in Florida and at the age of 62, began writing his bestselling fantasy books until he passed away in 2008.

Reviews

5 Stars

An interesting addition to this series with new twists makes for fun reading. I look forward to reading the next book.

Richard C. Barbee III -- Amazon



5 Stars Fun!

Fun on every page, and a light romp through fantasy. Advised for all ages and genders, as all are addressed.

Aubrey J. Barrus -- Amazon



5 Stars

Geomancer, like Don Callander's other "'mancer" books is a light and very lively and fun fantasy novel. I highly recommend the series, the first book is called Pyromancer.

Workman67 -- Amazon


Readers who have followed the fire adept's progress through the battle with the Ice King in Pyromancer and the threat of the witches' coven in Aquamancer will welcome familiar characters and cozy settings in the latest entry in this light fantasy series for fans of all ages.

Candace Smith -- Amazon



5 Stars

Pyromancer Flarman Flowerstalk takes one look at the tea leaves in the bottom of his cup one morning and promptly disappears. Then his apprentice, Journeyman Pyromancer Douglas Brightglade is kidnapped by the Stone Men, who were enchanted centuries ago by an ancient Geomancer. And finally, magician Wong discovers his homeland of Choin is suffering from a major political upheaval surrounding the struggle for the emperor’s throne. Suddenly the fellowship of wizards is faced with three different catastrophes. Will they be able to solve the mysteries?

Once again, Don Callander has crafted a fantastically imaginative and exciting story about wizards and their world. This is the third in the ‘Mancer Series, and I have really enjoyed each one. Callander gives an introduction in each so that readers who begin in the middle of the series are quickly updated and each book stands alone with a totally complete and finished plot.

I think one of the greatest strengths in Geomancer is the way in which Callander is able to juggle a varied panoply of characters and locations so that the reader never feels lost or unsettled. The descriptions of the Stone Men’s village is unique and complex, as are the Stone Men themselves. An ancient and evil Geomancer turned the entire village into stone and understandably, after living this way for centuries, they want the enchantment lifted. They also don’t trust wizards, again for a very good reason, so Douglas must use all his abilities to work with them. I like Douglas, especially because of his understanding and compassion for the Stone Men.

There are many different supporting characters in this novel, and they are each brought to life with amazing depth and clarity. Many different species are active in the story, as well as magical objects with personalities and abilities of their own. I love Bronze Owl, Doorknocker and official greeter, who is also able to move to different locations and instruct the ornate “Ostrich-Hume Pen, which had been busily writing to his dictation all morning.”

Lovers of fantasy are certain to find the wizard’s world in Geomancer to be spellbinding and exciting, filled with action and adventures in a variety of different richly described settings.

completedreviews -- Long and Short Reviews
Excerpt

Chapter One

Preparations

Bronze Owl, perched on the courtyard well curbing, nodded with satisfaction and a shrill screech of metal on metal.

He waved aside ornate Ostrich-Hume Pen, which had been busily writing to his dictation all morning, and beckoned to a pot of fine sand on the wide, flat well curbing.

The wedding guest list was completed.

The bowlegged clay Pot hopped cheerfully forward on its three stubby feet and broadcast fine yellow grains over the last page, being very careful not to smudge the flourishes and serifs of Plume Pen’s swirled and curlicued calligraphy.

Bronze Owl hummed to himself for as long as it took a bluebird to loop lazily from the byre door to the meadow gate and back, carrying a kernel of fall wheat to her summer brood of chicks in her nesting box above the Wizards’ workshop door. He then picked up the last page and poured the sand back into the Pot. He fanned the page three more times to be certain it was dry and, gathering up the thick sheaf of parchment, flew with a clatter of brazen wing-feathers to the open window of the Wizard’s study on the second-floor front of the cottage.

Flarman Flowerstalk, sometimes known as Firemaster, was nodding over his own high stack of papers, his hand so relaxed in sleep that even businesslike Crow-Quill Pen had fluttered to the floor.

“Wake up! Awaken, useless old firebreather!” cried Owl fondly. “This is no way to perform your important magical duties!”

The Wizard of Wizards’ High—one of the two such Wizards, he being the elder—jerked awake, blinked his eyes twice, and twisted about to face the bird in a whirl of stars, moons, comets, and other mystic symbols appliqued on his second best wizard’s gown.

“Ha! Huh?” he muttered, rubbing his chin, forehead, and ears vigorously. “Resting the old eyes, old friend.”

He rose and stretched his arms above his silver-fringed bald head and waggled his snowy beard, working out kinks and creaks.

In his mind he heard echoes of Bronze Owl’s words.

“Useless? Old! Who says I’m useless? Why, I’m not more than three centuries! Or is it four? Young by wizardly standards, even you must admit.”

“Young is as young does,” said Owl, shaking a claw significantly. “I’ve finished the guest list. You may want to cut it back. It runs forty pages, closely written!”

“Forty ... !” cried Flarman, fully awake at last. “There must be close on a thousand names!”

“I thought it best to include everyone and let you and Douglas and Myrn cut it down to size,” Owl explained.

The Wizard took the hefty list and began to read, pausing to draw a line through a name here and there, muttering his reasons as he went along. Bronze Owl listened carefully but said little.

“Hmm! Hmm?” said Flarman, scratching his nose with Crow-Quill Pen. “Asrai should be invited, of course, but can it come?”

“The Phosphorescence cannot exist in fresh water or in light of day, I agree,” replied the Owl, finding a perch on the tall back of the Wizard’s wing chair. “But it should receive an invitation out of courtesy, don’t you think? It saved Douglas’s life at least twice that I know of.”

“Of course! Oh, yes! I presume a great many of these people will fail to show, for a variety of reasons.”

“It’s always that way at weddings,” the doorknocker predicted confidently. “But you must ask them, anyway.”

“And hope they don’t all show up, I suppose. What would we do with a thousand guests? I shudder to think...”

“Marget of Faerie and her Consort and their newborn son alone will bring a couple dozen courtiers, I imagine,” Bronze Owl mused. “The Becketts of Fairstrand number close to fifty.”

“Bigbelly! You’ve put him down?” cried Flarman. “He’s but a rough, uncultured sailor! He wouldn’t know what to do at a grand wedding—except eat and drink himself silly!”

“That could apply to a lot of them,” Owl laughed aloud. “Say, do we agree or not? Ask ‘em all and hope some of them are too busy to attend?”

Flarman Flowerstalk grumbled agreement and returned to the list.

“Here’s a problem now. Cerfew the Great White Gull? His family is very large and very close-knit.”

Bronze Owl shrugged his wings with a clash of metal feathers. “A person receiving an invitation to a wedding must know it is he alone who is invited, not his entire flock!”

“We’ll hope so,” sighed the Wizard. “Actually, housing and feeding the Faeries will be no problem. They can come and go as they please, as does Deka the Wraith—between dimensions, so to speak. Bryarmote and his bride and his mother Finesgold, however, must be housed here at the High, of course. Bryarmote built the High, you’ll recall.”

“I was here,” reminded Owl, nodding several times.

A great deal had happened since then, but few times, good or bad, equaled the excitement and satisfaction the Fire Wizard and his household had experienced while building the cottage under the hill called Wizard’s High ... as it was called in those days.

But then one morning a lad of fourteen, small for his age, tousle-haired and a bit ragged looking, had come to the front door, seeking the post of Apprentice to the Fire Wizard. Flarman, preoccupied by the rise to power of the wicked Frigeon the Ice King, had almost turned him away.

Douglas Brightglade got the job, however, and the history of World would have been quite different if he hadn’t, Bronze Owl knew. Together the Wizard and his Apprentice had marshaled the Forces of Light against the Ice King. They discovered the secret of Frigeon’s invincibility and conquered him before he could plunge World into an arctic nightmare that would have lasted eons.

“All these sailors and warriors who helped us in the Battle of Sea,” Flarman was saying. “Yes, I suppose we’ll have to invite them, although I admit I don’t know many of these names.”

“They’re all listed in the ships’ logs and records,” Owl assured him.

After the great sea fight and the destruction of Frigeon’s Grey Pearl, things might have settled down for the Wizard and his Journeyman, but word came from afar that a Black Witch named Emaldar had formed a Coven of Witches with plans for conquering and enchanting the poor, scattered peoples of Old Kingdom, in the west, beyond the Broad.

Douglas had gone off to check the witches’ ambitions and, helped by his pretty and gritty fiancée, Myrn Manstar of Flowring Isle, an Aquamancer’s Apprentice herself, had seen the Coven and Emaldar utterly destroyed in a terrible volcanic eruption.

“Who in World are Delond and Antia?” inquired Flarman, keeping his place on the list with a stubby forefinger.

“You met them briefly on your return from Pfantas,” said the metal bird. “Delond is the Mayor of Summer Palace and Antia is his wife, I believe.”

“Ah, yes, now I remember,” murmured Flarman. “Nice people!”

“There are a number of people from Pfantas on the list, too, but I doubt many will actually come,” Owl went on. “They’re very busy setting things aright since the dissolution of the Coven.”, In a very few days, at the Autumnal Equinox, Douglas would be examined by a panel of Master Wizards consisting of Flarman, Augurian the Water Adept, and the elderly Choinese Magician, Wong Tscha San. If Douglas passed the orals, and his journeying was deemed sufficient (No doubt about that, thought the Owl), the young man would be elevated to full Mastery, a Fire Wizard like Flarman, his teacher and close friend. Three months later the whole World, it seemed, would descend on Dukedom’s Valley and on Wizards’ High (as it was now called) for the wedding of Douglas and Myrn. The invitations were ready to be sent out.

“What do ye hear from Douglas?” asked Flarman, looking up from the long list “Did I miss his latest message?”

“No,” responded Bronze Owl, preparing to depart for the nail on the double front door of the cottage, his post as Doorknocker and official greeter. “He sent word yesterday that he’d go with Serenit to the face of the glacier today. Serenit had something strange to show him that has been uncovered by the melting ice.”

“I recall,” said the Wizard. A worried frown creased his brow for a moment “Well, let me know when he checks in, won’t you? He should be back here at his books. I should have gone to check on Serenit myself.”

“You are quite overwhelmed with disenchanting all those people Serenit put under spell when he was Frigeon.”

“Yes, and I must get back to it quickly. Here, send all these invitations as quickly as possible. The Wraith can do it faster than anyone, I suppose, and with less fuss. We can only hope that our honored guests won’t eat all Valley out of houses, homes, barns, bins, cribs, and silos, and the High, too!”

****

Journeyman Pyromancer Douglas Brightglade followed Serenit, the reformed lee King, up a steep, rocky path winding between enormous, round-shouldered boulders. Trotting behind them came the Sea Otter, Marbleheart, Douglas’s Familiar. Traveling afoot, especially on uneven roads, was hardly Marbleheart’s favorite exercise but he didn’t complain. He loved, most of all, an adventure.

From all around them came the rushing, gushing, gurgling, and tinkling of water dashing over stones and minor falls, hidden in cracks and crevices or dashing across smooth, flat slabs of dark blue gabro granite. Where their way crossed an icy streamlet or skirted a shallow pool of meltwater, the Otter paused a moment to splash and dabble. Cold or not, water was his preferred element.

The chill breath of the ice field ahead of and above them whistled down the twisting pathway to pluck at the men’s heavy, fur-lined cloaks and threaten to whip away their woolen caps.

“Not much farther, young Douglas,” Serenit assured him as they stopped to catch their breaths in the lee of a curved, ice-carved outcrop.

“How far has Eternal Ice retreated since... since Flarman and I came to Ice Palace?”

Serenit was unbothered by the Journeyman’s oblique reference to his downfall. Flarman and Douglas had burrowed into the cellar of his Ice Palace from below and destroyed the Great Grey Pearl in which Serenit, then known as Frigeon, had locked his human conscience, his sense of right and wrong.

The resulting catastrophe destroyed the Ice King’s fortress on the ice—and the vast glacier on which it had been built, as well. The glacier had been retreating to the north ever since.

Since his conscience had been restored, Frigeon changed dramatically—he’d even taken a new name. He’d striven and worked and suffered and struggled to make restitution for his evil doings, reclaiming the rock-strewn valley the glacier left behind.

In less than two years Serenit and his friend and former steward, Clangeon, had begun attracting Men to settle on the empty, harsh land. They’d managed to find markets in the south for the excess glacier ice, discovering ingenious ways to preserve it as it was carried by the merchant ships of Wayness and Westongue to distant ports. The frozen cargoes brought high prices in places where ice had been virtually unknown before.

Now the southern margin of New Land, as Serenit called his empty wilderness, was beginning to show new greenery, rapidly growing spruce, cedar, fir, and pine forests, carefully tended by the earliest of the settlers against a day when they would cut lumber and saw timbers for the ships that increasingly plied a newly peaceful Sea.

It was a hard life, with backbreaking labor and only small rewards, as yet.

“We’re eighteen mites from the coast, from Flarmanport,” Serenit answered the Journeyman’s question. “The ice retreated twelve miles in the first few months after the destruction of Ice Palace. Slowed considerably since then, but still retreated five or more miles last year.”

“The ground beneath is still frozen, then?” asked Marbleheart. “It’s that hard, I see.”

“Here it’s still frozen. The warm winds Augurian sends from Warm Sea have melted and dried the coast. Our trees are growing as fast as the ice departs.”

He was proud of what he and his few men—and a few women, now, also—had accomplished. It showed in his eyes and step and sounded in his deep voice. He was no longer the proud, bitterly cold, wickedly arrogant Air Adept who had locked away his humanity.

He was still imposingly tall, still had a ringing voice when he wanted to be heard. But his coloring, pale and aesthetic in his days of power, was more the warm gray of the tough moss on the north sides of his young evergreens.

Despite Frigeon’s past, Douglas liked the new Serenit. He was modest, intelligent, witty, determined but kind, generous and thoughtful. He accomplished things but didn’t brag about them, as Frigeon would have.

“Twelve children were born in Flarmanport this year!” Serenit said; stepping out on the path once more. “I wish one or two had been mine! But I fail, yet, to find a lady who will marry such as I. Who blames them? You’ll marry soon, I know, Douglas. Do you understand my desire to share my life with a special helpmeet—and sire children to make this thawing earth fruitful?”

Douglas nodded a bit wistfully, thinking of Myrn. She was far away to the south on Waterand Isle. Realizing that the First Citizen of New Land—all the title Serenit would allow himself—couldn’t hear him nod, he answered aloud.

“I’ve thought of marriage and decided it is many things. The comfort and the love of a good wife? Children are part of it, of course, and I know I’ll love them when they come. If I can be as happy as some husbands I know, I’ll be a much better Man and Wizard than otherwise.”

Serenit turned his head to grin at his former enemy.

“Yet your Master, good old Flarman Flowerstalk, has never married. Nor the Water Adept, Augurian. Nor did I when I was a Master Aeromancer myself. Marriage and wizardry seem to conflict, for some of us.”

“Myrn is Apprentice Aquamancer. It probably doesn’t make any difference, however,” said Douglas, returning the warm grin. “I wanted to marry her when she was just a pearl fisher’s daughter.”

“The Lady Myrn seems to me to be an ideal candidate for wife and companion, from what I’ve heard of her. You’re a fortunate man, Douglas Brightglade!”

Douglas saved his breath for a particularly steep scramble beside a misty spate of icy waterfall. At the top they paused while the Otter inspected the cascade and its pool as a possible water slide.

“There’s the Face,” said the First Citizen, pointing ahead.

“I’m glad you found me warm clothing,” shivered Douglas. “Do you mind if I set a Warming Spell about us? Even this fur-lined jerkin leaks cold air down my back.”

“Not at all,” cried Serenit. “I wish I could do it for myself. The few times I regret losing my ability to spell, it’s almost always in small matters like keeping warm.”

The Journeyman made a small gesture and spoke a quiet word. Warmth flowed about them at once. They stood together surveying the Face—a towering, jagged, two hundred foot cliff of clear, greenish ice topped with a gray mixture of dust and snow. At its foot lay great mounds of loose pebbles, ground-up stone torn from the mountains on either side of its broad glacial valley in both advance and retreat.

The view was awe inspiring, to say the least. Between them and the foot of the Face was a wide area of pulverized rock, polished pea-sized gravel that crunched pleasantly underfoot as they marched across it.

The sun was high overhead. Its rays provided some warmth, but the Journeyman’s simple warming spell made them both feel more comfortable. The Otter was accustomed to cold, having been born in the Northlands on the salt Sea bay called the Briney.

In half an hour they’d crossed the rolling moraines and came to where the melting glacier gushed forth hundreds of streams of clear water from pores and channels both in the Face itself and underneath its foot, forming a crescent-shaped lake of wintry blue.

“Look sharp now,” cautioned the former Ice King. “That formation seems...”

Before he could finish, a great pinnacle of green ice clinging to the Face shuddered, cracked like a cannon shot, screeched like a living thing, and collapsed into the lake, raising a cloud of mist, fine bits of stone, and ice.

When the cold cloud reached them they aimed their backs to the gust, protecting their eyes with their mittened hands.

“Happens several times a day,” Serenit commented, undaunted by the violence of the ice fall. The Face is a dangerous place to walk without extreme care,”

He led Douglas and Marbleheart off to one side, skirting the shallow lake between them and the foot of the glacier wall. They rounded a house-sized chunk of ice recently calved from the Face, and stopped on the shore of the lake.

“There it is, whatever it is,” said Serenit, pointing across the again-calm water. “What do you make of it, I wonder?”

In the center of the lake rose a column of dark blue granite thrice as tall as a man. At first it seemed no more than that—a thin tower of smoothly polished stone. Looking more closely, Douglas realized that it was in the shape of an enormous man.

It had a warrior’s broad shoulders and narrow waist, sturdy legs set slightly apart for firm balance on the gravel of the lake bed. Its up-tilted face was mostly hidden by a heavy helmet and slitted visor. From the peak of the helm flowed a stone plume that all but fluttered in the sharp wind off the ice field behind.

The statue wore a knee-length kilt, and its legs were encased in stone jambeaux and its torso in chain mail. A short sword, of a fashion so ancient that Douglas had only seen it in the very oldest of Flarman’s books, hung from a wide belt.

The subject was a Man, or rather, a Warrior. A personage of stature and dignity, with an aura of defiance and tragedy.

It faced away from the wall of ice behind it, and the figure’s eyes seemed to stare at the Journeyman, the Familiar, and the First Citizen on the shore.

 

****

 

A thousand miles due south of New Land at the same moment, a dark-haired lass in a red swimsuit popped out of Sea’s depths, blew a gust of pent-up breath like a porpoise, and grasped the side of a small sailboat.

In the boat a graying, older man with the lined and weathered face of someone who spent all his days on salt water, reached over the gunwale to help Myrn Manstar over the side and into the boat.

“No luck?” the man asked.

Myrn picked up a rough towel and briskly dried her hair and her arms and hands as she answered.

“Oh, there’s plenty of blue coral, Papa.”

“Then why . . . ?” Myrn’s father began to ask.

“I met one of our friends, the Horniads,” Myrn explained quickly.

“They’re supposed to be sound asleep all thus year,” Nick Manstar objected. “Or so say you and your intended Wizard. I never speak to Sea Worms, if I can help it.”

“Oh, Papa!” cried Myrn in exasperation. “I’ve told you and told you, the Horniads are friendly and harmless. And they’ve been very, very helpful to us finding pearls and blue coral, you know.”

“Noted and agreed upon,” said her father with a rueful chuckle. “It’s just that I feel the Worms would rather be left alone, and we Flowringers would prefer to be left alone, too, except on pearl business.”

Myrn pulled a loose cotton dress over her bathing suit and fluffed her hair with a second towel, softly uttering a Drying Spell as she did so. Her hair became dry and shiny almost at once with no traces of residual salt.

“This Horniad told me worrisome news,” the Apprentice Aquamancer said seriously. “I must return to Waterand Isle at once.”

Nick didn’t protest. Gathering up the proper halyards in his strong hands, he set the jibs’l and then the mains’l, sending his boat skimming toward the distant smudge of smoke and purple hills marking Flowring Isle.

“You care to say what it was, Daughter?” inquired Nick.

“He... it... didn’t have any details. Sea creatures have several ways of sending information swiftly through the deeps but this Horniad had only heard rumors of serious events, somewhere in the Northlands.”

“Could it be King Frigeon, again?’

Myrn shook her midnight-dark head.

“No, not Serenit. Douglas is convinced his alteration is sincere and permanent. Beside, Sea creatures are constantly watching Serenit as part of their agreement with us. No, the Sea Worm would have said if it involved the Ice King come back to plague us.”

It took but a few minutes after they had reached shore for Myrn to say good-bye to her mother and brothers and her many friends on her home island.

“If ye must leave, ye must,” Tomasina Manstar said, heaving a mother’s deep sigh. “Will ye wait on nightfall, this time? Perhaps you’d better, for me to fix supper.”

“I should use my pretty Feather Pin that Finesgold gave me,” said Myrn hesitantly, digging the magic talisman out of her pocket and pinning it to her shoulder. “Although I’d rather travel Sea-bottom with Cold Fire. Flying over Sea is more than a little boring and very windy, unless you find some birds to talk to, or a ship or two.”

“Ye say the Worm said it was urgent trouble,” Nick reminded her. She couldn’t call Asrai until full dark—five or six hours yet.

“You’re right, Papa!” cried Myrn. “I can be home—at Waterand—before nightfall. Augurian needs to know this message, soonest. Yes, I’ll go by way of the Pin.”

Suiting her actions to her words, the young lady Apprentice kissed her folks once again, whispered, “Cumulo Nimbus!” ... and shot into the clear, tropical island sky, heading south and a bit west for Waterand.

Pushing the Feather’s considerable speed as much as she dared, Myrn arrived over the Palace of Augurian in just over three hours. Circling the highest tower, she landed like a bird on a balcony outside Augurian’s tower-top laboratory and knocked on the casement before she entered.

“Back so soon?” asked the Water Adept, raising his eyes from an elaborate microscope under which he had been studying a bit of green metal in a glass dish. “I thought you’d be gone until Monday, at least.”

“Master,” Myrn gasped, flushed by the speed of her flight, “I heard word of danger, up north.”

The Water Adept straightened from his instrument and laid aside his work apron as she told him the Horniad’s cryptic message.

“I’ve heard no such rumor or rumbling,” the Water Adept said.

He walked to a huge and well-worn tome chained to a marble stand under the westernmost of his tower windows, where the evening light was strongest, and began thumbing through it thoughtfully.

Myrn used the interval to straighten her clothes and comb the snarls out of her hair. She said nothing until he finished reading.

“Well, there’s some small hint of... something unspecified,” Augurian sighed at last, closing the heavy book. “Maybe Flarman has heard more of it from his vantage point, Call Deka, will you, lass? I’ll look into the Crystal Pool. There may be news there.”

It took Myrn a minute or less to summon the Wraith Messenger, first drawing the room’s heavy drapes against the brilliant setting sun. Deka was hard to make out in strong light. By the time the interdimensional creature blinked into view, Myrn had lighted three candles and ordered a servant to bring a pitcher of lemonade—misctywine, a favorite food of the swift astral being—to the tower.

Deka shimmered in the candlelight, a rather thin, translucent femaleish figure with huge gray eyes and clouds of palest silvery hair. She was dressed in a pink-and-beige gown of a diaphanous material that floated about her restlessly on unseen, unfelt currents of air.

“Greeting, Myrn of Flowring Isle, beloved of Douglas Brightglade, my friend!” she said to Myrn with a solemn bow. As Augurian returned from an adjacent room she greeted him by name and several titles as well.

“Can you carry a message in haste to Wizards’ High?” asked the Water Adept.

“In a twinkling,” replied the Wraith, for whom no distance was too great. “What shall I say to Flarman Flowerstalk? Douglas himself is not at the High just now. I carried messages from him to Flarman yesterday. He and the Otter are with Serenit in New Land.”

“Yes, I think we need to tell Flarman this news first,” said Augurian. He dictated a short message about the Horniad’s rumor and the hints he had seen in the Book of Current Events and in his Crystal Pool. Deka would deliver his words from memory, just as spoken. She would even reproduce Augurian’s inflections and accents.

“Return with Flarman’s answer, if it’s not too long in coming,” requested the Water Adept. “I know you are busy.”

“Never too busy to serve friends,” said Deka. She winked solemnly at Myrn. “I’ve just delivered hundreds upon hundreds of invitations to your nuptial feast, a total thirteen hundred and seventy-three persons all over World—and a few without!”

“Good gracious!” cried Myrn. “So many!”

“Perhaps they won’t all come,” said Deka, daintily finishing a second glass of lemonade and preparing to depart. “But think of the presents you’ll get!”

She nodded politely to the Water Adept and went out—like a snuffed candle.