Curiously, almost languidly, Anji turned the pages of the ancient untitled book she'd found in a carvedbox deep in the TARDIS.Dave had been one for pulp fiction: the smell, the faint patina of the pages. The book reminded her ofhim. Before, she'd always preferred new printings. Uniform editions if possible. Clean, straight spinesarrayed across the shelves in neatness. Armies of knowledge. Facts. She'd always been the stiff one inthe family, the daughter with improving tastes. Look where that had taken her, now.Browsing along the corridors was half a walk spent bumping into old friends, a Penguin copy of Three MenIn a Boat here, a pristine set of Stone's Justice Manual there, and half a safari into the unknown. TheDoctor's heaps of books in the honeycombed cubbyholes of the TARDIS corridors might well contain thewisdom of the aeons - a lost work by Sophocles resting against Delia Smith's Cooking Dictionary - BookThirty Four:Xylocarp to Zwieback - but there was no immediate prospect of laying one's hands on aparticular vital bit of data. Why, for example, did the Doctor have five editions of Life and Likings ofa Lobster all from different public libraries? All, she noted with a frown, overdue before she was evenborn. Not that that mattered to a time traveller, although it struck her as sloppy.It was a conundrum that only a tall glass of lemonade with ice and a good book would unravel. She restedthe book on her knee, and contemplated the woodcut that opened the text.PrologueThe Prince Mho Has CuriousThe Prince rode hard through the dark corridor of the forest, the sound of his horse's hooves poundingin his head and the sound of the wolves behind him thundering in his heart. He knew much about thewolves of these woods, knew that if he slowed his pace or veered from his course they would take himdown in an instant, for they were relentless hunters of the faint-hearted. But his wise old uncle hadtold him to stay true to his purpose, turn neither to the left nor to the right, to ride hard and fastuntil he was upon the moor. The wolves would give up their chase quickly once he was within sight of hisgoal. For across the moor was the Scarlet Hedge. And even the wolves were right to be daunted by thatmonstrous briar.The advice of his uncle had been freely given. The advice of the silver fox he'd rescued from the goldand ruby cage in the chamber of his father's wife had cost him dear. For that simple act of compassionshe had banished him, made of him a wanderer, forced to go his own way in the world with naught but histrusty mount, Falada, his sword and the clothes on his back. But in gratitude the fox had given thiscounsel: 'Even if you are offered the power of life and death, take nothing until True Love offers youher hand, for a Princess must be won, not given, and any other gift is no gift at all. Heed me well, OPrince, or you will be unlucky.'The Prince's boot leather had seen much travel since he'd freed the silver fox, and his thread-of-goldcloak let in more wind than it kept out, but even so he was feeling pleased with himself. He was on themoor now, with a blue sky overhead and the great wall of thorn in sight. And somewhere within there washis Princess.The Scarlet Hedge served, so his uncle said, to protect the Princess in her vulnerable sleep from casualinterlopers, hobbledehoys, and sightseers. 'Traversing it will be no mean feat, mark my words, lad.' ThePrince could see the evidence of those who had attempted it and failed, in rags and bones set out,pinned to the giant vicious barbs the way shrikes impaled flies on blackthorn. It was the blood of thesemen that had earned the hedge its scarlet name.Dismounting, he laid the tip of one gloved finger against an outlying thorn and pushed slightly. Itsliced into his leather gauntlet easily, and he pulled back, only just preventing it from penetratinghis flesh. He could neither climb nor push his way through without being skewered like the rest.His hand went to the pouch at his belt, to the magic gifts he had won by kindness and through good deedsand services to the many varied creatures he'd encountered on his journey. He considered whether it wastime to call in the favours promised him, or to draw his sword and try to slash his way through. And, ashe was considering, the heavens caught fire.