Authors: Piers Anthony
Tags: #Fiction, #Fantasy, #General, #Fantasy fiction, #Xanth (Imaginary place), #Xanth (Imaginary place) - Fiction
FAUN AND GAMES
BY PIERS ANTHONY
The latest Xanth adventure by the author of more than 20 successive New
York Times bestsellers. For Forrest Faun, a young tree faun
for a suitable spirit to save a magical tree, the astonishing
world-within-a-world of the tiny planet Ptero may be the place where he
will find the answer to his quest. Piers Anthony puns his way into
quantum physics in this delightful journey.
This is a work of fiction.
All the characters and events portrayed in
this novel are either fictitious or are used fictitiously
FAUN & GAMES
Copyright (D 1997 by Piers Anthony
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or
portions thereof, in any form.
This book is printed on acid-free paper.
A Tor Book Published by Tom Doherty Associates, Inc. 175 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10010
Tor Books on the World Wide Web: littp://w.tor.corn
TorQ is a registered trademark of Tom Doherty Associates, Inc.
Library of Congress Cataloging -.
,- Publication Data Anthony, Piers.
Faun and gaines / Piers Anthony.-1st ed.
"A Tom Doherty Associates book."
ISBN 0-312-86162-I acid-free)
PS355l,v3F38 1997 97-19362 813'.54-de2l CIP
First Edition: October 1997 Printed in the United States of America
0 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Hey, Faun, how about some fun?"
Forrest Faun rubbed what remained of his night's sleep out of his eyes
and looked down to the base of his tree.
There stood a fetching nymph
with all the usual nymphly features: pretty face, flowing hair, perfect
figure, and no clothing.
But there was something amiss.
"What do you mean'?" he asked as he sat up in a fork, still getting his
,.What do you think I mean, Faun?
Come down and chase me, the way fauns
always do to nymphs."
Then he had it.
"You're no nymph."
"Oh, pooh!" she swore, pouting.
She dissolved into smoke and reformed
as a luscious clothed demoness.
"I am D.
Mentia, out seeking routine
entertainment or mischief while my better half waxes disgustingly
What gave me away?"
"If I tell you, will you go somewhere else?" It was usually possible to
get rid of demons if one made a suitable deal with them.
"Yes, if you want me to." Her bright yellow dress fuzzed, showing the
vague outline of her body beneath, with almost a suggestion of a
forbidden panty line.
So there was a catch.
"Why wouldn't I want you to?"
"Because I have dreadful information that will puzzle and alarm you and
perhaps change your whole outlook."
That seemed like adequate reason.
Forrest, now fully awake, jumped down
to the ground, landing neatly on his hoofs.
"What gave you away was
You were not acting like a nymph.
You were way too
forward and intelligent.
Much of a nymph's appeal is in her seeming
reticence and lack of intellect.
Now what's this dreadful information?"
"Follow me." Mentia whirled in place, so that her body twisted into a
tight spiral before untwisting facing the opposite direction, and walked
Her skirt shrank so as to show her legs as far up as was feasible
without running out of limb.
But of course Forrest didn't notice,
because nothing a demoness showed was very real.
She led him across the glade to a tree on the far side.
Forrest stared with dismay at the clog tree.
It was wilting, and its
clogs were falling to the ground.
That could mean only one thing: it
had lost its spirit.
As it happened, the clog tree's spirit was Forrest's friend: Branch
They had known each other for almost two centuries, because their
two trees were in sight of each other.
Almost every day Forrest would
drop out of his sandalwood tree, and join Branch in the glade between
them to dance a J'lg or two.
With luck, their 'igging would attract the
fleeting attention of a nymph or three, who would join ill, jiggling.
With further luck, jig and Jiggle would lead to a pleasant chase and
But this morning Branch's tree was in a sad state.
It wouldn't fade so
soon if its faun were merely absent; fauns and nymphs shared an
awareness with their trees that alerted them instantly if harm came to
Let a human forester even come near such a tree with an axe,
and its faun would have a fit.
Let a faun split a hoof, and his tree
Such reactions were independent of distance; a faun
could run far away from his tree, and still be closely attuned to it.
They felt each other's pain.
"Are you trying to ignore me?" Mentia asked warningly.
could handle almost anything except that.
I am puzzled and alarmed by this dreadful scene. Do
you know anythin, about it?"
I just happened to note it in passing, so I looked for the closest
creature who might be tormented by it."
He glanced at her.
"You're one crazy organism."
"Thank you," she said, flushing red with candy stripes.
extended to her clothing and hair, and traces of it radiated into the
air around her.
The clog tree's distress meant that Branch was in serious trouble, if
What could have happened?
Branch had been fine yesterday. In
fact he had encountered a nymph from a lady slipper tree whose slippers
gave her special fleetness, just as the sandals from Forrest's
sandalwood tree gave him excellent footing, and the clogs from Branch's
tree protected his hoofs.
They had had quite a merry chase.
that was what fauns and nymphs did; they chased each other until they
came together, and then they celebrated in a manner that children were
not supposed to see.
Because it did tend to get dull just sitting in
one's tree all the time.
In fact, Forrest now remembered, the nymph, clad only in her slippers,
had led Branch a chase right out of sight.
Meanwhile her friend from an
oak tree, named Kara 0ke, had done some very nice singing to background
music of wind through trees, so Forrest had had his own distraction.
Naturally he had chased her, and naturally she had fled, but not too
swiftly, because she was still singing her oak song. So he had caught
her, and they had celebrated in the usual fashion, while she continued
That had been interesting, because she had sung of every
detail of the experience they were sharing, making it a work of musical
Then she had returned to her tree, satisfied that her song worked.
There weren't any other nymphs around at the moment, so Forrest had
returned to his own tree and settled down for the night.
And now his
friend was gone.
"So what are you going to do about it?" Mentia inquired.
She was right; he probably should be doing something.
"What do you think?"
"I think you will follow their footprints, so you can find out what
happened to them."
"Now that's really sensible," he agreed.
The demoness turned smoky black.
He set off in search of them.
He had no trouble following their tracks:
her slipper prints, which were hourglass shaped, in the manner of the
nymph herself, and his clog prints, which were forceful and furred. They
looped around other trees, as she made cute dodges and diversions. It
was the chase that counted; fauns and nymphs loved lo run almost as much
as they loved to dance.
The better the chase, the better the
celebration at the end.
Forrest remembered a nymph once who had been in
a bad mood, because her tree was suffering a fungus infestation, and had
simply stood there.
This was of course a complete turn-off, and no faun
had touched her.
Any nymph who wanted nothing to do with any particular
faun had only to refuse to move, and he would leave her alone. Sometimes
a nymph teased a faun, pretending disinterest, then leaping into pursuit
the moment he turned his back. If she caught him, it was her advantage,
and he had to do whatever she wanted.
Of course that was exactly the
same as what he wanted, but other fauns would taunt him unmercifully for
Mentia, floating along beside him, was getting bored.
"Are you ready
for me to depart?"
"Yes," he agreed absently.
"Good." She remained where she was.
He realized that he should have