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Authors: Emma Bull

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And Other Stories

BOOK: And Other Stories
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And Other Stories

by Emma Bull and Will
Shetterly

 

Copyright 2012 Emma Bull and Will
Shetterly.

The Smashwords edition.

Cover photo by R. J.
Gibson.

“The Princess Who Kicked Butt” by
Will Shetterly.
Cricket
(Feb. 1997) and
A Wizard’s Dozen
, ed. by Michael Stearns
(Harcourt Brace, 1993).

“Oldthings” by Will Shetterly.
Xanadu 2
, ed. Jane Yolen (Tor Books,
1993).

“Brian and the Aliens” by Will
Shetterly.
Bruce Coville's Book of Aliens
(Scholastic, 1994).

“Taken He Cannot Be” by Will
Shetterly.
Immortal Unicorn,
ed. Peter S.
Beagle and Janet Berliner (HarperPrism, 1995).

“Little Red and the Big Bad” by
Will Shetterly.
Swan Sister,
edited by
edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. Simon & Schuster,
2003.

“Secret Identity” by Will
Shetterly.
A Starfarer's Dozen
, ed.
Michael Stearns (Harcourt, 1995).

“The People Who Owned the Bible”
by Will Shetterly. His blog, 2004.

“Kasim's Haj” by Will
Shetterly.

“The Thief of Dreams” by Will
Shetterly. Endicott Studio web site, 2007.

“Black Rock Blues” by Will
Shetterly.
The Coyote Road
, ed. by Ellen
Datlow and Terri Windling, published by Viking.

“Dream Catcher” by Will Shetterly.
The Armless Maiden
, edited by Terri
Windling. Tor Books, April 1995.

“The Princess and the Lord of
Night” by Emma Bull. Harcourt, 1994.

“Man of Action” by Emma
Bull.

“The Last of John Ringo” by Emma
Bull.

“De la Tierra” by Emma Bull.
The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight
Realm
, ed. Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling, Viking
2004.

“What Used to Be Good Still Is” by
Emma Bull.
Firebirds Rising,
ed. Sharyn
November, Firebird 2006.

“Joshua Tree” by Emma Bull.
The Green Man
(Ellen Datlow & Terri
Windling, editors), Viking.

“Silver or Gold” by Emma Bull.
After the King: Stories in Honor of J.R.R.
Tolkien
(Martin H. Greenberg, editor), Tor.

Table of Contents

Stories by Will Shetterly

The
Princess Who Kicked Butt

Oldthings

Brian
and the Aliens

Taken
He Cannot Be

Little Red and the Big Bad

Secret Identity

The
People Who Owned the Bible

Kasim's Haj

The
Thief of Dreams

Black
Rock Blues

Dream
Catcher

Stories by Emma Bull

The Princess and the Lord of Night

Man of
Action

The
Last of John Ringo

De la
Tierra

What
Used to Be Good Still Is

Joshua Tree

Silver or Gold

Stories by Will Shetterly

The
Princess Who Kicked Butt

Will Shetterly

Once upon a time, there was a land
ruled by the King Who Saw Both Sides of Every Question and the
Queen Who Cared for Everyone. When their first child was born, the
Fairy Who Was Good with Names arrived at the castle in a cloud of
smoke and said, “Your daughter shall be known as the Princess Who
Kicked Butt.”

Before anyone could say another
word, the fairy sneezed twice and disappeared. When the smoke had
cleared, the king said, “What did the fairy say?”

The queen frowned. “She said, our
daughter shall be called, ah, the Princess Who Read Books. I
think.”

“Hmm,” said the king.
“I’d rather hoped for the Princess Who Slew Dragons. But reading
books is a sign of wisdom, isn’t it? It’s a fine title.”

“I think she’ll be
happy with it,” said the queen.

So the Princess Who Kicked Butt was
surrounded with books from her earliest days. She seemed happy to
spend her time reading, when she wasn’t dancing or riding or
running around the kingdom talking with everyone about what they
were doing and why.

One day when the
princess was older than a girl but younger than a woman, the page
hurried into the throne room where the king and queen were playing
cards while they waited for some royal duties to do. The princess
sat on a nearby windowseat, reading
The Count of Monte Cristo
.

“Your majesties!” the
page cried, “the Evil Enchanter of the Eastern Marshes demands to
be admitted into your presence!”

“Well, then!” the
king said. “Admit him immediately, lest he be angered by the
delay.”

“At once,” said the
page.

“Or perhaps,” said
the king (and the page turned back to face him so quickly that he
almost fell over), “we should make the enchanter wait a few
minutes, lest he think he can easily sway us to his
whims.”

“As you wish,” said
the page.

“Wait, wait,” said
the king. “Go at once to admit the enchanter. We would not have him
think us rude.”

“I go,” said the
page, turning to do so.

“But,” said the king
(and here the page did trip on the carpet as he turned), “if the
enchanter is demanding to be admitted, that’s rather rude, isn’t
it?”

The queen said, “For an evil
enchanter, being rude might be the best manners.” Then she asked
the page, “Have you had enough to eat? If you’re dizzy from hunger,
we should give you a raise.”

“Thank you, Your
Majesty,” said the page. “I had a raise last week, and I ate an
excellent lunch.”

The queen nodded. “Be sure you have
milk with every meal. Milk builds strong bones.”

“I don’t think
there’s anything wrong with his bones, Mama,” said the princess,
who secretly liked the page.

The king smiled. “If the
enchanter’s being polite, we should be polite too, and if he’s
being rude, we’ll look better by answering rudeness with civility.
Don’t dawdle, page. Admit him at once.”

“At once,” said the
page, sprinting for the throne room doors.

“Unless...” The king
barely had time to open his mouth before the doors opened again and
the page returned. “Your Majesties, I give you the Evil Enchanter
of the Eastern Marshes!”

The king smiled at the Evil
Enchanter. “Welcome to our castle. Unless you’d rather not
be.”

“Oh, I’d rather be,”
said the Evil Enchanter. “Indeed, I feel most welcome to your
lands, your people, and your treasure.”

“Oh, good,” said the
king.

“I don’t think so,
dear,” said the queen. “I think he means that he feels welcome to
keep our lands, people, and treasure.”

“I do,” said the Evil
Enchanter. “And I shall. My immediate marriage to your daughter
followed by Your Majesties’ abdication in my favor would be the
simplest solution. Oh, and triple the taxes on the people. That
would make a fine wedding present.”

“Yes, I suppose so,”
said the king.

“Dear!” said the
queen.

“—
if
I intended to permit that,” said the king.

“I won’t marry him,”
said the princess, thinking it best to let her father know her
position on the matter as soon as possible.

The queen turned to her. “Oh, my
poor darling, how cruel of this enchanter! People will suffer, no
matter how you choose!”

“It’s kind of you to
notice,” said the Evil Enchanter.

“You’re right, my
dear,” the king told the queen. “We shall decide.” He nodded at the
princess. “And I say you shall marry this Evil Enchanter, lest he
be provoked to further mischief.”

“What?” said the
princess, the Evil Enchanter, and the page
simultaneously.

“But,” said the king
(and in different ways, the princess, the Evil Enchanter, and the
page relaxed), “if we permit this, the enchanter’s next demand will
surely be even more unforgivable. Therefore, I say you shall not
marry him.”

“That’s your last
word?” said the Evil Enchanter.

“It is,” said the
king.

“Very well.” The Evil
Enchanter waved his arms once in a broad pass, and he, the king,
and the queen disappeared in a cloud of smoke, just as the king
said, “Unless—”

The princess and the page stared at
the places where the three people had been. “What shall we do, Your
Highness?” asked the page.

“Why, I’ll rescue
them, of course,” said the princess.

“I’ll accompany you!”
cried the page.

The princess said, “Don’t be silly.
Someone has to run the country while I’m gone.” Before the page
could reply, the princess strode from the throne room out to the
royal stables.

The royal hostler bowed as she
said, “I need a horse.”

“Of course.” He
gestured toward a lean midnight black mare. “This is Arrives
Yesterday, the fastest horse in the land.”

“Won’t do,” said the
princess.

“Of course not,” said
the royal hostler, stepping to the next stall, which held a
broad-shouldered golden stallion. “This is Carries All, the
sturdiest horse in the land.”

“Won’t do,” said the
princess. She stepped to the next stall, which held a wiry horse
with black and white splotches on its gray hide. “And
this?”

The hostler swallowed and said,
“This is Hates Everything, the angriest horse in the
land.”

“Perfect,” said the
princess. And before the hostler could say another word, she
saddled Hates Everything and rode out.

The moment they passed through the
palace gates, Hates Everything tried every trick that every horse
has ever tried to escape from its rider, and then he invented
seventeen new tricks, each cleverer than the one before. But the
princess held onto Hates Everything’s back when he bucked, and she
lifted her right leg out of the way when Hates Everything scraped
one side against a wall, and she lifted her left leg out of the way
when he scraped the other against a tree. She ducked when he ran
under a low branch. She jumped off when he flipped head over heels
onto his back, and then she jumped right back into the saddle when
he stood up again. Finally Hates Everything stood perfectly still
in the middle of the road, snorting steam and glaring angrily from
side to side.

Two palace guards stood by the
gate, watching helplessly. One whispered to the other, “Did the
fairy really call her the Princess Who Read Books?”

“Maybe she read a
book about riding,” said the other guard.

“You’re just wasting
time,” the princess told Hates Everything. “You’re not going to get
rid of me.”

Hates Everything jumped straight up
in the air, did a triple somersault, and landed on his feet with
the princess still on his back. “You see?” said the princess. “When
you carry me to the palace of the Evil Enchanter of the Eastern
Marshes, I will set you free.”

Hates Everything turned his head to
look back at her.

The princess said, “Don’t you hate
wasting time?”

Hates Everything raced eastward
toward the marshes and the palace of the Evil Enchanter.

When they arrived in the Eastern
Marshes, a goblin the color of granite stood in front of the Evil
Enchanter’s gates. He called, “Have you come to marry my
master?”

“No,” said the
princess.

“Then I cannot let
you pass,” said the goblin. A long sword appeared in his
hands.

“Your fly’s open,”
said the princess.

“Oh!” said the
goblin, dropping the sword and turning away to button up its
trousers. Then it turned back. “Wait a minute! I’m a goblin! I
don’t wear clothes!”

BOOK: And Other Stories
12.76Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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