How we think the fight will go
So many peculiar things had happened in Unbound Worlds Stadium over the past week—Ray Lilly’s bracket-destroying victory over the heavily favored Tyrion Lannister was still the talk of the tournament—the slow start to this particular match at first excited very little comment. It was fifteen minutes past time, and one of the contestants, Napoleon and his dragon Lien, had yet to show. And the other competitor, a little old woman, had not done anything more entertaining and impressive than sit in her rocking chair in the middle of the stadium; indeed, she was to all appearances fast asleep. When another fifteen minutes of silence and stasis passed, the audience seemed likely to follow suit.
The tournament organizers began to wonder if Napoleon might not be considered forfeit. Another quite alarming possibility occurred to them; the old woman had not moved at all in over an hour: “Is she dead? She really is quite old.”
And then something finally happened: An excited murmur rippled through the audience at a flicker of movement in the stadium. A line of tiny figures—so tiny they might not have been quite visible to the audience if they were not also a vivid shade of blue—had entered the stadium. They were carrying a large placard which they positioned on Granny Weatherwax’s lap. It read in large block print: “I ATEN’T DEAD.”
Just then Napoleon finally made his appearance: astride Lien, a magnificent white Celestial, he soared over the stadium…and then flew right past it. Several squadrons of dragons followed him—so many, in fact, that it seemed to be the entire French army.
A couple of hours after the fleet had passed, there was finally a sign of life from Granny: She smiled, and then asked for a cuppa tea and a biscuit.
The real fight, such as it was, had not taken place in the stadium at all. It had happened in Napoleon’s green room.
Napoleon’s advisers had been working with him all week on a strategy to defeat Granny Weatherwax, the most formidable competitor the Emperor had yet faced. This was, after all, not merely an oversized polar bear; he was facing the most powerful witch in Discworld.
But Napoleon seemed not to be listening to them as they offered their stratagems. Instead, he was staring mistily off into the distance. Far from being offended, his advisers grew excited: They knew that look well. It always presaged the announcement of yet another of the general’s daring, audacious, brilliant plans. Indeed, it had made them almost accustomed to being surprised.
And yet nothing in their experience prepared them for what the Emperor said: “I have the perfect plan: We will invade Russia. This very afternoon! It is the only way to win!”
Only Empress Josephine had the courage to speak up: “But, mon cher, what does that have to do with fighting Granny Weatherwax?”
Napoleon himself could not answer. He did not know where the notion had come from. His plans, after all, seemed to always arrive mysteriously and almost mystically, as if whispered to him by God. This time, he had repeatedly heard a strong, confident voice deep within himself, suggesting the plan. The voice, he felt, of his own genius, once again guiding him inexorably to victory.
It was not, however, the voice of his genius, or of God; it was Granny Weatherwax’s. While her body sat in its deathlike trance in the stadium, she had Borrowed Napoleon’s mind. It turned out to be a rather simple matter; she had, after all, once managed to Borrow a beehive. Imposing her own mind over Napoleon’s powerful, willful one, and carefully guiding his thoughts in the right direction turned out to be the work of but a moment for Granny.
She only let his mind go once he had arrived in Russia–in the dead of winter—where he found himself, for the first time in the his life, terrified on the field of battle. That voice, that powerful, unwavering voice, had deserted him, and he realized that, not only was he about to lose the battle in Russia—he had lost to Granny Weatherwax.
Predicted Winner: Granny Weatherwax
NOTE: THIS MATCH ENDS ON THURSDAY, MARCH 22nd, 2012, AT 5 PM, EST
Granny image courtesy of Victor Gollancz, Ltd. Napoleon image courtesy of Del Rey Books.
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