Vale of the vole, p.32
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       Vale of the Vole, p.32

           Piers Anthony
 

  She seemed stunned, which was unusual for a demon. “When we straightened the river—the hummers got worse. Now they’re gone. But we can’t leave the Vale in a stew like this; even the voles wouldn’t be able to use it. Demons and voles need dry land to camp on.”

  “You can have the dry land,” Esk said warmly. “Just make it natural land. Let nature take its course. That means meanders, and occasional flooding. It may be inconvenient for you, but it must be devastating to the hummers, who probably need still, stagnant water to breed in, like that in your holding ponds, and dry land to forage on, like the Vale the way you made it. Let the river change its level as it wishes, and the land alternately flood and dry out, and you should have very few hummer problems. I’m only conjecturing, of course, but doesn’t it make sense to you?”

  She listened again, and heard no hummers again. “It does make sense to me, mortal. Let me consult with my kind.” She vaporized.

  Esk folded the Void carefully, and wadded it into a fist-sized ball. They would have to return it to the gourd, but one of their number who had not yet invoked the pathfinder spell could do that, perhaps Marrow. He, Esk, would have to remain here until the demons were satisfied about his solution to the hummer problem, but that was all right; he didn’t have any other pressing destination.

  As he walked slushily out of the Vale, Metria reappeared. “We’ll give it a try, mortal. We’ll even help the voles restore the river. Meanwhile, we’ll release the hostages; they’re a bother to keep anyway.”

  And there at the edge of the forest was Marrow—and Bria. The brassie girl rushed down to fling herself into his arms. “I was so afraid you had fallen and drowned!” she exclaimed. “The demons wouldn’t tell us anything!”

  “They’re demonic,” he agreed. “But I think I have solved their problem with the hummers. They are going to help restore the Kiss-Mee River to its natural state.”

  Then there was a flurry of discussion, as things were worked out. Wilda Wiggle, having passed beyond her reproduction cycle, was now ready to settle down with a male for fun and companionship, and she still liked Volney. The two were conversing by the shattered riverbank, and it seemed that some of the water’s affection was returning, for they were touching noses in a fashion that was surely the volish kiss.

  Marrow was going to return the Void, then see what else he could do to become real; he thought the folk at Castle Roogna might be able to use his services in looking for the lost Good Magician. Latia was returning to her people, her mission completed; that success would ensure proper respect for her during her retirement. Xap and Crunch departed together, evidently friends now. And Chex—

  “I believe I have a date with a winged centaur,” she said, spreading her wings. “I don’t think I need to be concerned anymore about the acceptance of my species. I mean to generate my own species.” She flicked herself with her tail and took off, and her happiness seemed to spread out in ripples.

  A shape appeared in the sky. For a moment Esk thought it was Chex returning, but instead it was her sire Xap. He landed before Esk and squawked.

  Esk could not understand the winged-monster language, but he thought he might guess. “You say you have a message from my grandfather, Crunch Ogre, that I have performed an act of ogreish destruction, absolutely ruining the Vale, so I am now considered an adult in the ogreish mode?”

  Xap squawked agreement, and took off again. “Tell him I appreciate his news!” Esk called. “I never would have guessed, otherwise!”

  Xap’s final squawk sounded very like laughter. Evidently the hippogryph’s sense of humor was more liberal than his centaur filly’s.

  “I shall have to stay here awhile,” Esk told Bria. “I promised the demons, and of course I’d like to see the Vale of the Vole restored to its original beauty, and the Kiss-Mee River to its former affection. So if you—”

  “Speaking of affection,” she murmured, “let’s go somewhere private and try out that accommodation spell. Now that your grandfather says you are adult, you should be able to handle an adult relationship.”

  “Uh, I meant, if you want half my soul now—”

  “That, too,” she agreed. Then she hugged him, and he knew that it didn’t matter what was done in what order; they would be together.

  Other Avon Books by Piers Anthony

  BATTLE CIRCLE

  (Single Volume Trilogy)

  MACROSCOPE

  MUTE

  OMNIVORE

  ORN

  Ox

  RINGS OF ICE

  BIO OF A SPACE TYRANT SERIES

  VOLUME 1: REFUGEE

  VOLUME 2: MERCENARY

  VOLUME 3: POLITICIAN

  VOLUME 4: EXECUTIVE

  VOLUME 5: STATESMAN

  THE CLUSTER SERIES

  CLUSTER

  CHAINING THE LADY

  KlRLIAN QUEST

  THOUSANDSTAR

  VISCOUS CIRCLE

  Avon Books are available at special quantity discounts for bulk purchases for sales promotions, premiums, fund raising or educational use. Special books, or book excerpts, can also be created to fit specific needs.

  For details write or telephone the office of the Director of Special Markets, Avon Books, Dept. FP, 105 Madison Avenue, New York, New York 10016, 212-481-5653.

  DEMON-STRATION

  “Hey!” Esk exclaimed.

  “Hey yourself, moo-brain!” the blanket said, forming a mouth on its surface. The blanket writhed and wrapped itself around his feet. Then it squeezed his legs and inched up his torso, constricting as it did. It did not pause in its squeezing as it spoke. Esk’s legs were getting uncomfortable …

  He thrust his legs apart, the ogre strength coming to him. The blanket tore—but then it fogged up and rose as a flying thing, hovering before him.

  “Listen dung-head,” its mouth said, “now I’m really going to make you sorry!”

  VALE OF THE VOLE is an original publication of Avon Books. This work has never before appeared in book form. This work is a novel. Any similarity to actual persons or events is purely coincidental.

  Copyright © 1987 by Piers Anthony Jacob

  All rights reserved, which includes the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever except as provided by the U.S. Copyright Law. For information address Kirby McCauley Ltd., 432 Park Avenue South, Suite # 1509, New York, New York 10016.

  AVON BOOKS

  A division of

  The Hearst Corporation

  105 Madison Avenue

  New York, New York 10016

  Published by arrangement with the author

  Cover illustration by Darrell Sweet

  eISBN 9781429958585

  First eBook Edition : March 2011

  Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 87-91161

  First Avon Printing: October 1987

  AVON TRADEMARK REG. U.S. PAT. OFF. AND IN OTHER COUNTRIES. MARCA REGISTRADA, HECHO EN U.S.A.

 


 

  Piers Anthony, Vale of the Vole

 


 

 
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