Rogue Wizard - A Wizard In Mind Part 19

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"Because," Gar said, "he's the Lord High Warlock of Gramarye."

"Warlock?" Gianni stared a moment, not understanding. Then the implication hit him. "The Wizard! He never haunted my dreams till I met you! Now you're leaving, and he told me only an hour ago that I would never see him again!"

Gar nodded slowly.

"Then it was you who put the Wizard in my mind!"

"More than that," Gar said softly. "I am the Wizard."



CHAPTER 16.

Gianni stared. Then skepticism rose, and he smiled, amused. "Very good, Gar.

You almost had me believing it."

"I assure you, it's true," Gar said, unperturbed. "Oh, come now!" Gianni scoffed.

"If you really are the Wizard, put your thoughts in my mind right now." He closed his eyes. "Go ahead-put a picture into the darkness behind my eyelids!"

"As you wish," said Gar, and suddenly the Wizard was there in Gianni's mind, saying, Now do you believe me?

Gianni stiffened, eyes flying open, and the Wizard disappeared. He stared at Gar incredulously, but the big man only nodded gravely, and he wasn't smiling now.

Realizations exploded in Gianni's mind like the chain of explosions as the causeway blew up. "But if you could put that picture of the Wizard in my mind- then you can read minds! That's how you knew when the Stilettos were coming!

That's why the soldiers didn't see us when they were searching for us! Why the Gypsies fell asleep, why the sentries in the castle slept!" He paused to draw breath. "Was that why we had no more trouble traveling between Castello Raginaldi and Pirogia, too?"

Gar nodded gravely.

"But-dear Lord, the_ power that gives you!" Gianni turned ashen, remembering his secret thoughts.

Gar frowned. "I don't read other people's minds without a very good reason, Gianni. I do have some standards of right and wrong. But when the other side has an overwhelming advantage, well ... that's when I don't feel any hesitation about using my own."

"So that's what you meant when you said the time for fair play was over!"

"Oh, yes indeed," Gar said softly. "And how you lit the fire!"

Gar looked at him in surprise. "I don't remember doing that."

"That's right, you were really an idiot then, recovering from the blow on the head." Gianni frowned. "But I saw the Wizard that night."

"Did you really?" Gar stared. "I remember planning that, before the fight. My mind must have done it straight from memory!"

"But the locks? You didn't really tear them open by brute force, did you?"

"No, I didn't." Gar closed his eyes. "They were simple locks, Gianni. I could have opened them with even a simple mind."

A horrible thought struck. "How did the Gypsies learn about your plan for a league of merchants? And how did they come to blame it on my father?"

"Not from me," Gar assured him. "They had a spy inside Pirogia-I'm fairly sure they had such a spy in each of the merchant cities, and some of the inland ones.

No, I didn't put the ideas in their minds."

"And your gifts to my parents?"

"I'm not that much of a wizard! No, Herkimer printed out those books-magically, unless you want to spend a year learning the explanation-and dropped them gently in your father's yard in the middle of the night."

"How do you drop something gently? No, don't tell me, I know! 'Magic'!"

"No, science," Gar replied.

"Magic by any other name!" Gianni said with disgust. "And that's how you knew what the lords were thinking, wasn't it? That's why you only needed to prove to us that they were dealing with the Lurgan Company!"

Gar nodded. "That's why I had to have us all caught and taken to Castello Raginaldi. Yes."

"But-when the cannonballs sped true, when the spear thrusts turned aside! Was that your doing, too?"

"Very good, Signor Braccalese." The note in Gar's voice went beyond approval.

"Yes. I can move things with my mind, too."

"But-the other presence in my mind!" The dreadfulness of the thought hit Gianni, and he turned beetred. "The Dream Dancer, the woman! Did you...?" He broke off, unable to finish the thought.

"No." Gar turned to him, amused. "I found only echoes of her in your mind-but that was enough to tell me I wasn't the only mind reader on this planet."

"Not the only ...?" Gianni stared, astounded. "How many of you are there, then?"

"Only one other," Gar said, "and she's one of the very rare ones who crop up naturally, when neither parent could read minds before. She thinks she's the only one there is, for I've been careful not to let her know I know. That's why she understood so much more about your people than the rest of her bandand that's why she left them, to encourage you and your fellow citizens in fighting the lords."

"Her?" Fortunately, Gianni was already staring; he only had to keep on. "No! It couldn't ... not her. . ."

"Why do you think you're in love with two women at the same time?" Gar asked.

Then, before Gianni could answer, while he was still letting the idea sink in, Gar said, "You are rare among your kind too, Gianni. You're a bit of a mind reader yourself. I could have put the Wizard into anyone's mind, but very few could have seen him so clearly as you-and very few could have spoken with him as you did."

"Me? Rare?" Then the next realization hit. "But if you could put the Wizard in my mind more clearlythen Medallia . . ."

"Yes." Gar nodded. "Perhaps that's the real reason she's interested in you, Gianni Braccalese---interested in you as a man, not just as a pawn in her game."

"Interested in me? You don't mean ... she couldn't be in love . . ."

"Oh, yes, she could," Gar countered. "I don't listen to such things in people's minds, Gianni, but when a man or woman is really in love, it shouts so loudly that I can't help but hear. Go to her-now, before she leaves the city."

"I will! Thank you, Gar! Oh, thank you!" Gianni reached out to clasp the big man in a hug, almost tipping them both from their saddles, then turned back toward Pirogia, kicking his horse into a gallop.

Gar watched him go, a sad smile playing over his lips. Suddenly Gianni reined in, turned about, and waved. Gar let his smile broaden, waving back, then watched as Gianni turned and dashed madly for the land gate. When he had ridden across the causeway and disappeared into the city, Gar turned away, rode up to the top of the hill, then dismounted and turned the horse loose, speeding it on its way home with a slap on the rump. That done, he lifted the medallion to his lips and said, "Now, Herkimer." He let the medallion fall and stood, watching the sky as the first rays of sunlight pierced the false dawn, lighting the great golden ship as it fell out of the sky.

Gianni rode hell-bent for leather through the streets that were just coming awake with laborers on their way to work. He drew rein in the Piazza del Sol, and sure enough, the caravan was there, even though she had hidden it someplace else last night. He left his poor lathered horse to cool by itself as he ran to the caravan and up the steps to hammer on the door.

"Medallia! Open! You must not go! Open your door, please!"

The door opened and Medallia stood there, hugeeyed and staring in wonder.

Even as Gar had warned, she was dressed for traveling. "Gianni Braccalese! What emergency can bring you in such a panic?"

"Knowing that you are my Dream Woman," Gianni breathed.

She turned ashen. "Who told you such a thing?"

"The Wizard in my mind," Gianni answered. Medallia went from ashen to magenta. "That confounded playboy!" she stormed. "How dare he . . ." But she broke off, and her staring eyes widened even more.

It was true, Gianni realized-his love for her must have been fairly shouting from his mind, for she stood trembling as he stepped into the caravan, took her in his arms, and kissed her. She was stiff with surprise-then began to melt. Gianni broke the kiss just long enough to close the caravan door and make sure the latch had fallen, then to whisper, "Mystery Lady, I love you." Then he kissed her again, closing his eyes to see the Dancer of his Dreams, her face finally clear and lighted by the radiance of love. It was Medallia's face, and her kiss deepened with each touch and caress, with a splendor that far outshone his dream.

On his hilltop, Gar watched the great golden ship descend. The gangway came down, and Gar climbed up.

"So your trip is successfully concluded, Magnus," said the mellow voice of the ship.

"Yes, but it was a close thing for a while." Gar stripped off his medieval clothing and stepped into a sonic shower. "Lift off, Herkimer. Did you call the Dominion Police?"

"Yes, Magnus, and transmitted all my surveillance recordings to them. They were delighted and sounded quite eager, mentioning something about 'getting the goods' on the Lurgan Company at last."

"That's good to hear." Magnus closed his eyes, savoring the feeling of glowing skin as most of the dirt flaked away. "The people of Petrarch should have a clean start now. I wish them luck."

Herkimer said, "I dectect overtones of sadness in your voice, Magnus. What is the cause?"

"Only that I can't stay and enjoy the happiness that is about to be theirs," Magnus said, "my friend Gianni, I mean, and his Mystery Woman, Medallia." He followed the sonic shower with a thirty-second spray of soapy water, then more sonic scrubbing, and another thirty-second spray of clear water.

As the drier started caressing Gar's body with warm air, Herkimer said, "If you cannot remain, how can Medallia? She is from off-planet too, is she not?"

"Yes," Magnus said, "but she has a good reasonshe's going to marry a native." He smiled sardonically. "Medallia will never forgive me for telling Gianni what she is, even though it was her own overmodulation that let the dream leak into my mind, and no mental eavesdropping of my own." He stepped out of the shower and slipped into a modern robe of sybaritically soft and fluffy fabric.

"But the mental suggestions with which you held the vagabonds' loyalty and obedience were your doing," Herkimer pointed out.

"Yes, and so was the fervor and courage with which I imbued my troops-not completely by the power of my rhetoric alone," Magnus confessed. He took a tall cold drink from the dispenser and sat down in an overstuffed chair for the first time in months.

"You could stay if you wanted, Magnus."

But Magnus shook his head. "Not without a reason such as Medallia has found, Herkimer. I have not yet discovered my home."

"Where shall we look next, then?" the computer asked.

"Show me your list of forgotten colonies with oppressive governments," Magnus said.

The list appeared on the wall screen. Magnus sat back as he looked it over, considering which world should be his next chance to find love and a home-or sudden, blessed death.

end.

Rogue Wizard - A Wizard In Mind Part 19

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Rogue Wizard - A Wizard In Mind Part 19 summary

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