Inspired, or whatever the Gentle Reader may care to call it, by BK
Willis's recently-reposted Adrics nominee _Nyss and Emmy's TV Special_,
I picked myself off the floor in due course and committed *this*.

An appeal for clemency is presently being made to the Home Secretary.
Contributions may be sent directly to the British Labour Party in brown
paper envelopes clearly marked 'TRADER GRAY CLEMENCY APPEAL, WHOOPS, MY
I AM, FORGET MY OWN HEAD NEXT!' as soon as possible and in a spirit of
serene innocence. Alternatively, they may not.

Meantime, Trader Gray Productions gratuitously presents:

<drum roll>

<deep, meaningful silence>


*Sons of the Guns of Really Rather Inadvisable Crossovers from Heck II*

The two young men glared at each other with hate-filled eyes.

The tall supercilious aristocrat shrugged elaborately. "Come
along, Kvetch. Leave the prentices to their toys."

The short, bronzed, hawk-featured prentice's voice was very quiet,
very soft. "What do sorcerers have that prentices lack?"


"I'll match your power act for act."

Turlough flinched, but arrogance won out. "You challenge me?"

"I challenge you."

Kvetch stepped hastily between his wizardly schoolmates, scratching
at his green hair agitatedly. "Duels of sorcery are forbidden to
us! We do not play this game for pleasure or praise, but only to
uphold the majestic Equilibrium of Mother Nature! Calm in the East
may be storm and ruin in the West. A sprout summoned in vain is
famine on the plain. A farting horse will never tire, a farting
man's the man to hire. Be men, now, and come discuss your issues
with the Master Counsellor!"

That gave them pause, while they digested the potent wisdom of
their friend's words. Two seconds later:

"The Great Balance," stated Turlough, "requires that I show this
pestilent little hillbilly just where he belongs on the Great Chain
of Being!"

"It does indeed," affirmed the prentice nicknamed Glede, still with
that same unnerving calm. "That place is 'Number One', and I'll be
right glad to help you clear that up."

Kvetch shrugged. "Fair enough, then..."

Turlough sneered to cover up a growing inner panic. "Oh, very high
and mighty. Go on, Deliverance-boy, I like this trap you're
setting for yourself. What are you going to do, call down powers
and principalities from the stars upon us?"

"As you wish." Glede bowed formally to his detested rival, and
sketched a glowing mystical diagram in the air. The Forbidden
Rune of the Bad Moon, so long banished to a locked and dusty walk-
in cupboard of his mind, sizzled and glowed ominously in mid-air.

"Braggart! Buffoon! Bounder!"

_"Y'ai ng'ngah, Yog-Sothoth h'ee l'geb..."_

"Oh, shit..."

The power coursed through Prentice Glede's veins like a burning
exalting quart of Jack Daniels, blinding him to the point of the
quarrel, the inadvisibility of the incantation, and pretty much
everything else but his own ineffable purpose! He knew, now, that
Turlough was a mere minion of his own great oe'rleaping fortune,
manipulated by unknowable plot to bring him to this moment. This
was the summit of his being, the moment he claimed his true destiny
as wizardry's ultimate... NUMBER ONE!


A ball of utter, nighted darkness had formed between the newly-
revealed Number One's open palms. The other young sorcerers
cringed away or fled, especially Turlough, whose legs gave way
under him completely and who began emitting a strangely ripe
stench, no doubt from some side-effect of the awful Great Spell.
Only Kvetch remained staunch, or at least rooted to the spot.
Number One smiled wryly.

"You needn't fear," he said gently. "A major babe I'll call: a
fair lady dedicated to peace and truth and universal harmony, and
given to discarding her clothes on no very plausible pretext,
supposing the songs don't lie. I summon NYSSA, Princess of Lost

The orb ballooned into a tall gateway of black emptiness. And
then, within the emptiness, grew a spindle of harsh unnatural
light. For a moment he saw her, she who so long had haunted his
dreams and visions. A petite elfin woman was she, clad all in lacy
white, with a sweet innocent face topped by an enchantingly tumbled
mass of chestnut curls. His heart leapt within him. Turlough
whimpered, far below him on the ground.

"Whoooargh!" Kvetch observed, evidently awestruck by the purity and
beauty of this vision.

For a moment only could it last. For to light a candle is to cast
a shadow; and this spell had been cast and fuelled with darkest
pride and envy in mind, and he really ought to have talked out
those issues with that Counsellor. But young Glede had been
intoxicated by power, and forgotten the inexorable action of the
Balance. Bummer!

The fair maiden stepped out onto the sweet summer grass of the
Knoll of Roke. But with her came another thing not summoned, an
embodiment of some nameless outer darkness in Number One's
hubristic soul. Dark she was, and carrot-topped, and stacked like,
wow, man. The words of power froze on One's lips. The dark spirit
whipped out a short thick crook-handled wand from where it hung
over her artistically-ripped denim jeans. Nyssa's semblance
whipped out a matching wand from some thoroughly implausible place
about her babydoll nightie.

"Hold it right there, boys!" The dark spirit's voice cracked like
a whip. "We don't let just anyone open interdimensional gates into
our _Sweet Vixen_ -- do we, Nyss?" Her free arm snaked sensuously
around her companion's trim waist.

"Indeed we don't, Emmy," returned the bright spirit gravely,
reciprocating the caress and leaning up for a long passionate kiss
such as paralysed the monastically girl-starved novice wizards far
more effectively than the menacing muzzles of the metallic wands.
"Especially," she added, reluctantly breaking the liplock, "not
when we had such a... busy schedule... in front of us!"

Kvetch led a heroic mob of plucky young sorcerers in a desperate
mass nosebleed and faint. "So," Emmy demanded cheerfully, "did
you have some specially lucrative business opportunity for the
darlingest daringest most stylish space pirates in the business, or
shall we just blow up this dump for the sheer ducks of it?"

Number One failed entirely to keep his eyes off the dark spirit's
fascinatingly wandering hand, but his brain's destiny centres were
still functioning after a fashion. "Pirates? Hot dog! Everyone
who's anyone back home is either a goatherd or a sorcerer or a
pirate, and this is all I need for my hat-trick! _Hubba huhhuhh
hubba han!_ I am your Number One fan and the bee's knees of
wizardry, and my soul sings in me with the need to voyage to far
shores and loot ancient tombs and meet actual girly-type girls!
Take me, fair ones, take me!"

"Sorry, fanboy," smirked Emmy, tickling Nyss rather
extraordinarily. "We're both _exclusively_ taken already..."

"Take me _with_! Take me _with_!"

"Oh, please, Emmy..." Nyss syruped, returning the favour with even
more irresistible interest. Prentice One mumbled his ancient
master's most potent charm against nosebleeds under his breath. "A
real wizard on team, that'll be something and a half to bait Fluffy
with next time we see her. No-one expects to run up against
Polymorph Other and Bigby's Wedgifying Hand in space opera..."

"_Mmmmph_ you've sold my onboard tactical computer on it, you
nymph!" Emmy squealed. "Okay, Spookmeister, hop through..."

"Hold on there, boy!" Number One's eager step was arrested by some
mighty and impalpable force, and he quailed at the voice's
sinisterly familiar authority.

Lo, Archmage Buck had detected the movement of the Balance swifter
than any others of the Masters of Roke, and come to enact a
supreme, life-defining conjury to close the unhallowed gate between
the realms of fan- and lit-fic.


Low, Buck and his familiar surveillance-crow were laid by ravening
bolts of inconceivably incandescent illuminance from the fat bent
wands. They had crossed the Wall of Stone, they were ex-
suspicious-characters, they had joined the choir invisible. Though
which c.i. precisely, it is probably best not to inquire. Assuming
they weren't shamming anyhow. Heck -- it was worth a try!

Freed by the fall of magic's Warder, Number One stepped eagerly
forward. No doubt liberated likewise, the hellish realm now
revealed its true character, by the sudden bursting forth of a
heavily armed and armoured green scaly demon of fearful grue and

The prentice Krisshway, who had observed most of the preceding
events with relative equanimity due to a previous bit of private
enterprise concerning a misappropriated Summoning spell and a
brewery vat down in the town, observed, "She'sh atchually kind of
cute, y'knowww...?"

"Further actually," Number One soliloquised, "seeing what just
freed her, maybe she ain't so bad after all! Ahoy, shipmate-to-be!
Pleased to make your acquaintance!"

"Yours too," said the lacertine demon briskly, "but I fear I must
be off. The Cosmic Egg requires a fair exchange before this gate
may shut: you to our world, one of us to yours. It also tells me
that this is a real cool world for a dame of the draconic
persuasion. Good luck!"

"Same to you, ma'am." The young wizard marched eagerly up to the
gate, and to the twin visions of loveliness that awaited him there.
"Yo-ho-ho for the Jolly Roger on the sea of stars!"

"That gives me an idea..." Emmy booted him ungently through the
portal, and ogled the aforesaid twin visions of loveliness with
great gloat. "Okay, magic lad, you run along to the quartermaster
and get yourself kitted out... Nyssaias my pet, did that give you
an idea too?"

"Let's explore it in great detail and with utter urgency, my love,"
breathed Nyssaias, and the two of them tumbled in a tangle of
thrashing limbs back through the now-closing portal, a mystical and
highly symbolic passage in no way to be compared to a PLOT hole.

"Well," said the militant reptile to a groggily-reviving Kvetch,
"let's get down to -- "

"Avast!" cried a red-haired-space-piratical voice through the
diminishing hole, "shiver me timbers, but here's a pretty piece of
booty for me plundering -- " The hole closed. Kvetch did the
haemorrhage-and-faint trick again.

The dragon lady tutted. "Okay, so the having my pick of randy sex-
starved young monkey-men bit isn't maybe looking so promising after

The assembled Masters of the Isle of the Wise now charged to the
scene of the fateful spell. They had been unable to reach it in
time to be of any use, owing to Because.

"What d'you call that thing?" demanded the Master Ainley, anilely.

"A female, you fool!" thundered the Master Delgado magisterially.

The visitant grinned an unreassuring broad grin. "Just call me...
Orm Ellian. Your boss-man messed with me and got fried."

"I'm not quite dead yet..."


A crow sodded off into the trees at a great rate. As the assorted
Masters whipped out their dinky little wands of besmallment from
what one sincerely hopes were hip-pockets, Orm Ellian said coolly,
"Don't even think about it. Anyway, I've got a proposition for you
lads. Tell me, with a whole community of wizards at your beck and
call, why don't you just take over the world, steal anything you
fancy, and live the life of Reilly?"

"Wizards are above such trivial mortal passions," declared the
Master Deadly Assassin incorruptibly. His nose fell off again.

"Besides," offered the Master Roberts, with great self-possession,
"mages are not rulers. When we try it, the unbalanced earth rises
up against us, and finds a new Equilibrium a long way under water.
At least, that's what happened on Atlantea..."

"That was _not_ my fault, vile pretty-boy!" The Master Delgado
drew himself up to his full height and sulked mightily.

"Roger, whatever," dismissed Orm Ellian. "Looks from your
exposition, and the intrusive though technically rather
accomplished and ingenious narrative voice, like this is one of
those deals where Nature rebels against naughtiness after a while.
So, how's about I work with you on a basis for a few... travel
spells... so we can all run around and plunder _other_ worlds to
our gizzards' content? Stay one step ahead of all the whingey
moralistic earth and water stuff, and live by air and fire and
looting the way real sophonts should? Go on, you know you want

"Well, damned if I don't! "By Segoy, I think she's got it!" "But
she's a _girl_!" "I'm not quite dead yet..." "Truly do the
chanters praise the wisdom of dragons!" "My nose is bleeding!"
"Go for it!" ZAP!

And so, after due deliberation and weighing each action nicely in
the great Balance, they fell in with the alien warrior-engineer-
reptile's suggestion; and they did prosper greatly through their
strictly legitimate business activities across divers worlds,
except for the ones that snuffed it in the process. Only in
silence the word; only in dying life; only in loss great profit.
And little more is written of their deeds, because they weren't
real scrupulous about the paperwork.

-- From _A Lizard of Earthsea_, by B K Willis and Ursula K Le Guin.


Free to archive. But maybe you ought to go lie down for a bit, until
the urge passes away.

Doctor: None.

Companions: Turlough; Chris Cwej.

Other Characters:
* From _Dr Who_: The Master; a Draconian.

* From _American Gothic_: Sheriff Lucas Buck (property of Shaun
Cassidy); as interpreted by the abovementioned Mr Willis in his now
legendary contributions to the ongoing TTR:TDF (To Die For) arc on this

* From the oeuvre of B K Willis:
Ellie (the Draconian) - from _TDF: The Feminine Mistake_.
Number One - from the TDF stories in general.
Embericles and Nyssaias the Space Vixens - from, er, _Space Vixens!_.
Kvetchians appear in the _Shock Value_ series.

Type: Short Story; Humour; Crossover (Ursula LeGuin's tales of