Read an Excerpt
Isle of View
By Piers Anthony
Rebound by SagebrushCopyright ©1990 Piers Anthony
All right reserved.
Chex was desperate. Her darling foal, Che, was lost, and she feared the worst. He was only five years old, and though he had her lightening magic, his wings were not yet developed enough for flight. So he contented himself with extraordinary leaps, and was a happy little centaur - now inexplicably gone.
How could it have happened? She had been inside their cottage stall, using rushes to close the crevices that let the draft in. They were near the region of the Element of Air, and often there was some leakage of wind from it. That was fine on hot days, but chill at night. So she used the rushes, but she had to work quickly and pay close attention, because they were always in such a hurry. They would wedge into any place, not waiting for the right one. So she had concentrated and gotten the job done and somehow hadn't checked on Che for a while.
Now he was nowhere to be found. She had called to him and flown all around the glade, searching with increasing alarm. There was no doubt: he was not here.
Cheiron was away at a winged monster convention and wouldn't be home for another two days. She was almost relieved; how could she face her mate with the news that she had lost their foal? Of course shecouldn't do that; she simply had to find Che soon.
She circled the region several times, peering down intently, but all she saw was forest around the glade. She had liked this region because it was private with the trees hiding most of what went on, but now they were hiding her foal from her. She had to get under the canopy of foliage.
She glided down and landed near the cottage. Then she trotted in a complete circle around the glade, looking for signs. The ground was pretty well scuffed in the center where Che had been prancing, but the grass remained green at the fringe. He must have wandered out into the forest, though he knew he was supposed to stay in view of the cottage.
She made another circuit, this time walking at the verge of the trees. Suddenly she spied a little hoofprint. She saw that it was headed out into the forest. He had come this way!
But why? Che knew the rule and had always been a good little centaur. He knew that there were dangers out in the deep forest of Xanth, such as dragons and tangle trees and hypnogourds. He shouldn't have walked out this way.
Yet evidently he had. She searched out the prints. They seemed hesitant at first, as if he had been looking for something. Then they became purposeful and moved straight toward the thickest section of the forest.
Chex followed, her alarm increasing. She had hoped that Che had merely wandered and was somewhere close by, perhaps caught in a bramble and unable to extricate himself. But now she feared something worse: he had gone somewhere, and that could only be because something had lured him. There was unlikely to be any good purpose in that.
In a moment her worst suspicion was confirmed: there were signs of an ambush. Something had been lurking here, waiting for Che, and had captured him. There was a bit of cut vine, evidently used to tie up the foal, and the ground was scuffed. But something had gone over the ground with a brush from a nearby brush bush and wiped out all the tracks. She couldn't tell who or what had kidnapped her foal. All she knew was that it had been accomplished quickly and silently.
She searched all around, but there were no tracks of any kind leading from the ambush area. Yet this was not a spot for flying by any creature large enough to carry a little centaur; the vines were tangled in with the foliage of the trees, with several hangman's nooses just waiting for some unwary dragon or griffin to make their day. It was as if kidnapper and foal had vanished at this spot.
Chex shuddered. That meant magic! Che must have been conjured to some other part of Xanth.
But why? She could understand a predator crunching its prey, awful as that concept was in this case. But to lure Che into a trap and conjure him away? What use could anyone have for a winged centaur foal who couldn't yet fly?
At least it meant he was alive. She had suppressed her fear of the worst, because it was unbearable. But how long would he remain alive? Maybe his captor didn't realize that he couldn't fly, and when it found out -
She had to get help. Che had to be found before anything worse happened to him.
She trotted back to the glade, then spread her wings, flicked herself hard with her tail, and took off. She could make anything light by flicking it with her tail. That was how she got rid of biting flies; the moment her tail touched them, they became too light to remain sitting and were launched into the air, where they had to buzz for some time to get things under control again. When she wanted to make herself light enough to fly, she used her tail on her body, and then it was easy for her wings to carry the reduced weight. When the effect faded and she began to get heavy, she just flicked herself again. But she tried not to do that near the end of a flight, because it could be hard to stay on the ground if a gust of wind came along.
She flew high above the forest and turned south. Soon she was passing over the great Gap Chasm, where Princess Ivy's friend Stanley Steamer had gone for patrol duty.
Excerpted from Isle of View by Piers Anthony Copyright ©1990 by Piers Anthony. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.