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Dr. Who - The Eighth Doctor 50 - Grimm Reality

Dr. Who - The Eighth Doctor 50 - Grimm Reality

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Published by: ninguls on May 05, 2010
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Grimm RealitySimon Bucher-Jones Kelly HalePublished by BBC Worldwide LtdWoodlands, 80 Wood LaneLondon W12 OTTFirst published 2001Copyright © Simon Bucher-Jones & Kelly Hale 2001 The moral right of the authors has been assertedOriginal series broadcast on the BBCFormat © BBC 1963 Doctor Who and TARDIS are trademarks of the BBCISBN 0 563 53841 4 Imaging by Black Sheep, copyright © BBC 2001Printed and bound in Great Britain by Mackays ofChatham Cover printed by Belmont Press Ltd, NorthamptonDedicationsTo my daughter Morgan, who in her identity of 'Superlady' has defeated more 'Daddy Monsters From theSwamp', than any other superhero. With thanks to: Kelly Hale, obviously and most heartily. Watch her,kiddies: she can write. To everyone who's helped or suggested something I've ignored. Withacknowledgements to -spot them if you can - the worlds of Grimm, Tolkein, Baum, ER Eddison and RichmalCrompton, not necessarily in that order.-SBJFor Jackie, petting bumblebees in heavenThanks to my mother and family for always being there even when I wasn't 'all there', and to Simon, myson, who has lived with a writer all his life, poor thing. Hello to my man in Stari Grad, Sheahan forlistening. Thanks to Bob's Harem for happily embracing whatever I'm working on and helping to make itbetter, and to the advisory committee - pussycat boy Paul Dale Smith,'No Pyjamas' Henry Potts, and theYanks - God bless America -Jonathan Dennis and Ian Mclntire. Also Mark Rushford and Amsel Zivkovich forthe cheering. And to Women Writing Who workshop (do it again!). But mostly, thanks to the ImpeccableOne.- Kelly HaleThe tales within are all original in as much as these sorts oftales can be, with the exception of'The Master-Maid', borrowedin part from a Scandinavian folk tale of the same name.
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.
High in the eastern sky to his right, a pin-point ball of light spun and twisted lazily, casting theshadow of the hedge left and down to the edge of the moor. The ball of light was not so much falling asdrifting out of the cloudless blue of the sky.The Prince had never seen so odd a thing as this levenbolt. The sword at his side was wrought from stariron, plucked from the heavens by the fairy Belesia and forged by her magick. She had gifted the swordto his father, who had, in turn, bequeathed it to him. Maybe this lightning ball was a similar prize hecould mark for later glory, after the Princess was his. Up and down was neither left nor right, so didhis uncle's warning still apply?The fire hit the ground with a sound like a newly forged sword being quenched in ox's blood. A thickhissing and spitting sound like no other the Prince knew, although he was curious about many things, thearcanum of swordsmithing among them.Shielding his eyes with his raised gauntlets, the Prince drew near the place where it had fallen. Aroundit the earth had splashed up like ripples in a pond that had frozen in a pattern of ridges. At thecentre of the ripples, he could see a dark shape made indistinct by the now fading light.A sweet smell filled the air. Was it lavender, vanilla, a nostrum or a herb? He couldn't tell. He hadexpected the earth to stink of burning from the falling fire, but instead his senses were overwhelmedwith the tang of a thousand fragrances, each curiously individual and unmixed.The shape was clearer now, a carved wooden box. A box of the same black wood as the thorn hedge, atracery of blood-red spirals contouring its surface. He tried to follow the pattern. A spiral. No, adouble spiral. Or perhaps an illusion, like the two faces and the goblet that a juggler had once shownhim. Maybe it was more than one shape as the perfume was more than one scent.Open me.The voice in his head was her sweet voice as he had heard her sing years before.He had been a page at her father's court, educated in the traditions of chivalry, before returning tohis own country. He had never forgotten her high child's voice. When he had heard that the sleep cursehad stilled it he'd wept and sworn to free her.You will see her free, if only you will open me.He could see now, a catch, a dull metal clasp on the side of the box. Unadorned, practical, it lackedthe artistry of the bold design. It was purposeful. It demanded he open it.The words of his counsellors came back to him; but there was something compelling in the way the lightlicked at the box's outline.Only if you open me will you have your heart's desires.The clasp was old and brittle to the touch. Opening it would be easy. Easier by far than winning his waypast the scarlet hedge. It smacked of dishonour somehow; and yet wasn't every injunction to be eitherobeyed or broken? Sometimes the heroes of lore won because they questioned.Almost unbidden, and yet without the least sensation of surprise, he felt his hands opening the box, asif it were, after all, inevitable.And then his heart's desires came true. All of them. At once.He kissed the Princess, and she woke / and he touched her and she woke / and he merely set foot in herchamber and she woke as the dust stirred / and her eyes were blue / hazel / black as sloes. And herfirst words were 'Oh, my Prince' / and her first words were 'You came for me' / and her first words were'Do you remember the song I sang when you were a page in my father's keep?' / and the wedding cameswiftly / and the wedding came after three strange tasks / and the wedding came that Christmas / and

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