Antoinette walked soberly on. It was exciting to think that she was going to live in Quavosh, the places where wishes came true, but she wasn't looking forward to what she would find there. Of course, it was a much saner place to live now that all the children were trained from very early to be careful what they wish for. This was important because the scientists figured out that for children who had learned how to talk, the likelihood of a wish to come true was 3 divided by the age of the person doing the wishing. This formula basically meant that children wishes come true more often than adults wishes.
For adults who needed to wish for something, the only chance was on their birthday or at a wishing well where the likelihood appears to increase.
Scientists have been working for decades to make artificial wishing wells but so far with no success.
It was early fall and the leaves were changing. Antoinette looked at the leaves as she walked down the country road; it took her mind off the wedding. She thought it was barbaric to get married in the fall. Antoinette was nearing the boarder. She had been training herself for weeks not to wish for things. She wondered what Rupert was like. "I hope I like him." she muttered and forced herself to keep on walking.
Ah, there was the sign. Only the visible at this distance was "Welcome to Quavosh, the land of wishes" That was fine but what was on the rest of the sign?
"WARNING: the first one to three wishes made by non-Quavosh natives are likely to come true. ~ Foreign Affairs Officer"
"The likelihood and quantity appears to increase towards their upper limits the longer the stay in Quavosh before the first wish is used. ~ Foreign Affairs Advisory Board"
Antoinette made up her mind not to use her wishes until it was absolutely necessary, and if possible not until she had instruction from a native on what to be careful of when making a wish.
She took a tentative step toward the border then another. She passed the sign still nothing. Her heartbeat slowed to it's normal pace. Someone chuckled behind her she turned around to look.
"Only magicians can feel the boarder, but it isn't very exact. The wish boarder can only be exactly marked by a scientist with special instruments." said a little man with gray hair in a white cape with symbols all over it. "Other people to have a tingling sensation when they cross but that's because they are breathing to fast." he continued.
"Who are you."
"No one important. I just check to make sure no pranksters have stolen the warning sign. I also check for boarder creep," he said waving a clear box with levers and springs inside. "Oh silly me I shook it again." he said and put the box down and opened it up.
Antoinette walked closer to where the man was kneeling over his box. "What does it do?"
"It senses the wish potential. The wish potential is zero on the far side of the boarder, but it hovers between 1 and 10 inside the boarder. Near babies and wishing wells it approaches 100%."
"Oh, What are the symbols on your cloak?"
"The white means I'm a scientist. This enchanted one shows the last few equations I've thought about. I find it useful in that when I get back to the lab I can look at it and start where I left off. -- unless I've had to fix this blasted machine."
"Oh, really?" Antoinette moved around to look at the back of his cloak. Just when she was deciding that she couldn't make sence of any of them two new equasions appeared near the center of the pack and forced the previous equations aside every which way toward the edge.
"Where is that spring? Oh here it is, now we just leave it for a few minutes and let it settle back into place then I will recalibrate it."
"What's your name?"
"Rupert Dumas the second"
"Rupert Dumas? The magician?"
"No, no, that's my son, I'm just a field scientist;" the old man dismissed with a wave of his hand. "Although, I know a transportation spell that's how I got in front of the sign after you looked away from it. I'm mighty proud of Trip' though, nice boy, to think that he is royal magician. Say aren't you a mighty knowing foreigner?"
"How did you know I'm a foreigner?"
"Because you crossed the border so slowly, and because the you have such a high wish potential. Only foreigners have such a high wish potential at your age. Say where are you going?"
"The town of Treecastle by way of Glenlynn."
"No, no my dear that's the capital city, not a 'town'. By Glenlynn, hmm, that's out of the way who sent you that way?"
"Oh," she said then the words sank in "Oh my! I was sent that way by --"
"I say, are you really?" gasped the man, "Yes you must be. Of course, YOU must go by way Glenlynn there's no other way possible. Sorry I have to go. See you in a few days I hope." and he ran off along the road and disappeared in a flash of light before Antoinette could finish her sentence.
"Rupert Dumas the third." she finished and followed him along the path into Quavosh at a more reserved pace.
The next day found her crossing the Quavosh River at the Glenlynn Bridge contemplating her fate. "His father likes him and is nice but will at all costs not interfere with Me," she muttered. The road forked as it left the bridge. "I wonder which I'm to take to Glenlynn."
"The largest of coarse." said a high voice. "But I'd not go that way."
Antoinette turned an old woman was sitting by a picnic basket and a little girl was wading in the shallows near the shore. "Why what's wrong with Glenlynn?"
"Nothing is wrong with IT, It's what's not wrong with it!" the woman said then motioned at her picnic, "But first, come and eat something."
"But that's your food." Antoinette objected.
"That's alright I can plenty to share" the woman coaxed "You have none or you would be eating already." Antoninette did have some food, but it wasn't much, she was supposed to meet the royal magician in Glenlynn or on the other side, the instructions had been somewhat vague on that point.
"How do you -- Oh." Antoinette said and started down the steep bank.
"There's a good girl. Now tell me about yourself."
"I'm to be married to some one I've never met." confessed Antoinette.
"That's not so bad, now is it? It happens all the time," the woman said. "I'd say you're lucky getting married to such a good magician."
"How do you know he's a magician?"
"Men do like to know what their wife is going to look like, Magicians are the only ones that can do that sort of thing easily, especially across the boarder. What is his name?"
"Rupert Dumas." Answered Antoinette somewhat in a daze trying to figure out what the old woman had implied she knew about her plight and how she could have figureed out whatever it was she knew.
"Oh, you are lucky He's as hansom as his father, taller though, got that from his mom, Smart too, got that from both sides." Chattered the old lady.
"How did you know I'm not from Quavosh?" Antoinette asked.
"For one thing you have an Fraekin accent." she said exasperated then gasped, "Oh!"
"I just figured out why he sent you to Glenlynn, that's all. It's where he's been spending most of his time lately."
"But he didn't send me to Glenlynn he sent me to Treecastle by way of Glenlynn."
"That sheds new light on the whole thing."
"What does that mean?" asked Antoinette confused.
"Go and see for yourself take the largest road to Glenlynn and walk through the town looking straight ahead like you don't see anything but pay attention to everything. You might be safe you might not I hope Rupert is paying attention."
"I don't understand."
"A sinister magician is in Glenlynn raising an army to march against the King and seducing girls in his spare time. When he's done, he puts them into a waking sleep so that he can use their wish potential to strengthen his spells. That's why I have Kate here in the country."
"Oh, I w--" started Antoinette.
"Don't say that word!" the woman exploded. "You needn't worry Lord Dumas won't let anything happen to you. Unless---" her voice trailed off.
"But what is he like?"
"Kate. Show this girl the lord magician."
Kate looked up smiled and filled her wooden bucket with water. Then she brought it up to Antoinette. "I wish the water would show you Lord Rupert wherever he is." Kate said.
Antoinette looked down in the bucket she saw a man in a light blue cloak talking to the man she had met the day before at the boarder. The man in the light blue cloak nodded and walked away. The picture followed him down a hall and into a room filled with strange equipment he walked over to a mirror after a second the mirror clouded and darkened and showed a man in a black cloak walking among tents on a field. Lord Dumas nodded and again the mirror clouded this time it showed three people sitting by a river one looking down into a bucket. Lord Dumas scratched his head. The image in the mirror slowly moved to look down on the three from above. He squinted in at the bucket in the mirror and staggered back into a cushioned chair, laughing. Then he stood and turned around still grinning playfully and waved looking right into her eyes. Antoinette only stared. The mirror fogged behind Rupert. He turned back to it. It cleared to show the man in black again, this time inside in a room like the one Rupert was in. The man waved a finger at and was talking. Rupert said something and poured wine into a glass he picked up from the table by the chair. The man in the mirror said something else and began to wave his hands menacingly, as he was making a final looking sweep Rupert dropped the glass, but it didn't drop it just appeared in the other man's hand. Antoinette wondered if the man had stolen the glass or if Rupert had given it to him to break his concentration. The man glared at Rupert and took a sip of the wine tasting it carefully before swallowing. Rupert poured another glass and sipped it then placed it back on the table. Then he poured another glass. Just as the man began to wave his hand over his own glass, Rupert dropped the third glass.
There was a splash in the river Kate squealed. Antoinette looked up to see her dragging a bucket from the river. Antoinette looked back down to discover to her surprise that she was holding not Kate's bucket but a glass of wine. She tasted it. The wine was superb. It was very like the wine that her father served only when one of his ships happened to came back just in time for some special occasion.
The old woman laughed. "I take it he saw you looking at him."
"Yes he is kind. I think he gave me the wine to keep one of his enemies from finding me."
"Because he might have been able to tell who was looking at him."
"Can I taste it?" asked Kate running.
Antoinette looked at the woman who nodded. "Yes you may." she said and handed the cup it to Kate.
"There's a man in it" said Kate.
"Who ARE you asked the cup?"
"Drink it!" commanded the woman.
Kate drank it.
"No, I want to talk to --" shrieked the cup.
"Now throw it in the river!" commanded the woman.
Again, Kate obeyed "Tastes nasty." she complained making a face.
The woman and Antoinette shuddered as one.
"Wine's like that." the woman said "It is time for all of us to go, before he decides who to track."
Antoinette hastily agreed and scrambled up the bank and ran along the big road until she remembered what the woman said about how she should walk through the town. She slowed to a walk and tried to look straight ahead, around the next bend lay the city. When she passed the first house a bell rang sounded in a room not far away a man wearing a dark cloak looked up from a book he was reading. He saw that the jar with a blue lid was swirling. He smiled ominously and took off his cloak and hung it on a peg revealing a yellow tunic, then he took down a dark green cape and put it on. Belting on a sword, he stalked toward the door. He growled at the mirror on the way past. It showed Antoinette in her stained traveling clothes walking down the street. He relaxed a little "So even if Rupert was interested in the little girl I become interested in you." then his eyes narrowed "I need field potential" he then chanted something. The mirror faded, where Antoinette had been the mirror showed incandescent green swirls that faded towards the edge of the mirror. There was a steady blue ring around the inner green glow. "I'm glad I checked, You are the one Rupert was interested in, or at least someone had put up a warding spell for you." he bent closer to examine the swirling green. "Foreigner been inside less than three days," he looked at a curved line drawn on the table. "Almost a day and a half. I hate reverse estimating exponential growth."
To my horse now I flied
Saddled and ready now to ride
He didn't care that the grammar was terrible. He was next to he horse. He opened the stall and realized that he almost landed in manure. He led his horse out and saddled another no sense in offending her if Rupert had given her some of his good wine he might know that she had the tastes to appreciate it. Therefore, she would likely also have a sense of propriety.
To my horse now I fly
On my horse that will not shy
That time it worked the way it was supposed to. He was on his horse and he had remembered to open the gate. He cantered down the lane toward where the mirror had showed her.
"Hail madam," he said as he approached her.
She didn't look up just walked looking straight ahead.
"Very poor show. Rowel could see through that with his back turned." that of course was true. She had tripped an alarm while he was reading the book. "Are you Lord Rupert's lass?"
"Not yet." Antoinette answered looking up "I probably will be soon. Don't I know you?"
"We've never met before. Rupert showed you to me by magic though. I came to take you back to his laboratory," he said. Which was true, he had appropriated the magician's favorite home away from home. "Lord Rupert is in Treecastle today." of course he was, as he had been since Rowel started blocking his transportation spells. "Rupert would hate it if you fell into Rowel's hands, that's why I brought a horse" that was also true but with the real motive opposite the understood one.
"Thank you," she said and climbed into the saddle.
She knew what to do with a sidesaddle. His judgment of her birth must have been good, but why if she was noble didn't she have a horse and an escort?
They rode back to the laboratory.
"Why did you lock the door?" Antoinette asked.
"There's a spell on it. Rupert can't be disturbed when the door is locked."
"I thought he was away."
"He is. It's just a habit."
"Welcome to Rupert's laboratory. Where he made most of his important discoveries."
"There's his mirror." Antoinette said running over to it "Is that how you talk to him?"
"Definitely. How did you know."
"A little girl wished for me to see Rupert in her bucket. Then I watched Rupert try to figure out who was watching him." Antoinette giggled. "Can I see him now? It would be so much easier looking at a mirror than in the bucket?"
"I don't see why not." he said and hooked a blue mask on the mirror.
Mirror, Mirror, with the blue mask
Connect us to Lord Rupert Dumb-Ass
"That's not how you say It." gasped Antoinette blushing.
"I know but that's the easiest way I know" he said.
When the mirror cleared, they saw the royal magician galloping on a black horse. Slowly the picture caught up to the horse and anchored itself to something on the horse. Suddenly Rupert blinked and looked around then he stopped and made a circular motion in the air over one hand while saying something.
"Antoinette what kind of company do you think you are keeping?" said the magician in mock sternness.
"What, where are you?" Antoinette asked confused.
"I'm coming I'll be there tomorrow or the next day. You don't need to be concerned about me dear, I'll be in no danger." Rupert said, "Now if you'll excuse me I'd like to talk to your friend." Antoinette moved so that the men could talk without looking around her.
"Rowel, I must complement you on your astoundingly fast capture." Rupert said watching the color drain from Antoinette's face "However, I believe you'll find my bride to be something more than you expected."
Rowel scowled "I don't know what you mean I saw your warding spell and went to pick her up manually."
"Ah," beamed Rupert "You haven't countered it yet then."
"No," sighed Rowel "but since you've put a stop to my pretense I can go about deciding what kind it is in a less discreet manner."
"I apologize for my indiscretion" Rupert said sincerely. "Do you mind if I watch."
Rowel didn't want him to watch, but he would prefer that he was watching from a distant position than reducing the distance as fast as his horse would go. "No, Rupert I don't mind at all."
Rupert saw the reserved look and decided that he should be proceeding at his most rapid pace, but he couldn't bear the chance to see Rowel confounded by something so simple and common place as the only really useful anti wish spell. So while Rowel was busy looking for a crossbow, Rupert found a rope and rigged his cloak into a tow-able magic carpet. (The spell for voice activated ones was too intricate to cast from memory.) Then he tied it securely to his saddle horn and climbed aboard. After that, he commanded the horse to its fastest maintainable speed then he leaned back and relaxed. Glancing in the mirror he was just in time to see that Rowel had given up looking for a cross bow and was using his sword to probe for anti-weapon spell potential. Rupert had assumed that Rowel needed her for a hostage or an energy source and would not kill her. He began to wonder whether Rowel might harm her some other way, that she would blame him for, instead of Rowel who might have inflicted the injury, but himself for not protecting her. "Give it up. Rowel use logic."
"You had her come here so that would have been before I took over your lab."
"Good guess" Rupert encouraged. Actually, he had sent his letter of proposal the same day Rowel had taken over, about a month ago.
"It's not sword proof or fist proof unless you have a non-local the potential loop."
"No, nothing so complicated. Something very common with a slight twist."
"Then I can check some things rapidly."
"Suit yourself logic might still be faster."
Rowel handed Antoinette a candle "hold that out at almost arm's length." he commanded. Antoinette obeyed. Rowel threw a fireball at it. The candle lit but whatever the spell was it didn't seem to have any effect on the fireball or the candle. He cast several more spells at the candle all worked. Finally loosing his patience he conjured up a crossbow and shot the candle. It exploded throwing lumps of wax all over the room but the bolt from the crossbow flew strait into the far wall. But still he had no data.
"You aren't getting anywhere." Rupert said "I know it's hard for you but try to think, what do foreigners need protection from most?"
Rowel glowered back at him.
"Especially ones that might get home sick." Rupert continued. He saw Antoinette starting to think.
"You wouldn't dare doing that to me!" Antoinette said, "I don't believe you."
"I did, but I'd take you if you wanted to go." Rupert confessed. "I did it when Dad told me you were across the boarder."
"What are you talking about?" exploded Rowel.
"The warding spell." Rupert said quietly. "Must I put it your word for you? Let me see when would you use such a spell? I have it. If you had a foreigner in your power what's the most important thing you would keep from happening to them?"
"From wishing." Rowel answered slowly. "So that they wouldn't diminish their field potential."
"Exactly so." Rupert said, "of course I had a different motive so I used slightly different wording."
Rowel scowled at the mirror. "That's all?"
"Why do you think I wanted to watch?"
"Rupert I w--- I could slap you!" Antoinette exclaimed.
"I did it for my protection too." pointed out Rupert. "Even my magic can't counter a wish. That's why I made it so you could save your wishes for something important."
"Why can't magic counter wishes?"
"Because magic is only someone's wish." Rupert explained "Nothing can destroy something powerful enough to create it."
"But you can block it."
"No, it can only keep you from saying the word to make it start."
"It didn't let me say it." Antoinette gasped. "You've made me helpless, I don't know magic or anything. Couldn't you counter the spell."
"No I can't you are inside Rowel's blocking shield. You don't expect me to have taught you all the important tricks I haven't even seen you in person?"
"Oh Rupert you are so unfair." Antoinette sobbed "But what if Rowel tried something?"
"He wouldn't dare." Rupert said to a blank mirror. Rowel would disconnect him right when he had gone too far with his teasing. He couldn't blame her. She didn't know that he, Lord Rupert Dumas, never brought other people into danger unless he was sure of the outcome. He just was waiting to learn the details of his scheme as they came into existence. He spoke to the horse. It leapt forward he pulled the cape in to make it catch less wind. He spoke to the mirror Antoinette's image leapt into view. Rupert liked little mirrors they focused faster than big ones. She was still crying Rowel was trying to comfort her valiantly or was it villainously. She wasn't repulsing him very well she just turned away; then again, maybe he just wasn't gentelmanly respond to her unspoken cues. He switched to field potential view. Antoinette's outline was filling out in green but the swirls were still there the blue power loop of his selective wish blocking spell was still glowing brightly. Rowel's cloak was solid blue, chock full of warding spells probably.
"You can't blame him. There's nothing he can do that he isn't doing already." Rowel protested.
"I know, but he didn't have to block my w-----s to start with." She complained.
"He probably wanted to tap the field you attract."
"No he wouldn't you, you beast." She yelled whirling to face him, "I wish you were a rock."
And that he became, and no amount of magic could change that.
Rupert finished climbing back onto his horse without stopping it. He also had managed to put his cloak back on and disenchant it. Then he glanced down at the mirror, Antoinette's outline was filling rapidly, blue and green ripples were swirling toward the fading green cloak. The blue separated and flowed toward Antoinette, the green refracted through and around her and passed out of view. He waved his hand and chanted in something archaic.
Antoinette was looking at a statue of Rowel, her eyes full of wonder. She looked around when she heard the crash of Rupert arriving "Well done Anne I couldn't have done better myself." he said.
"Oh, Rupert I'm so glad you're here." she said running over to him.
"Oh Anne, My Anne. Are you okay?"
"Anne? Yes I'm okay, and I'll be your Anne too, Antoinette is too formal, but how did it happen?"
"The spell specified that any wishes against him wouldn't be blocked."
"Oh, you knew that he would try to capture me?"
"I knew you would be instrumental in his defeat I just wasn't sure if you would destroy him or just keep him busy while I destroy him but when he put up that warding spell I knew that you would likely do it all yourself. You are a national champion or you will be as soon as someone gets around to squashing his pea sized army."
"But I didn't want --"
"I know, my Anne you just want to go home."
"Yes my Rupert. That's just what I want. Where is it by the way?"
"I'd love to show you." Said the chief magician proffering an elbow "Shall we?"
And they did.
"What should I wish for?"
"What more do you need?"
"I have a good home and a loving husband."
"Everything you need to live happily ever after?"
"Well I'd like to learn magic so I can help you more."
"I think I can help you with that without you resorting to your wishes."
"That's my magic word."