“…combines elements of magic, culture, and spirituality with a firm grounding in the real world of Thea as she struggles to find her identity in her family and in the world of magic….” —Teri S. Lesesne, VOYA (starred review)
“I highly suggest that everyone, especially fans of Harry Potter and books like it, head out to the book store in the near future and pick up this Trilogy.” –-Book Girl Reviews
“The Worldweavers trilogy is a coming of age story filled with difficult choices and emotional turmoil. It is also about love, faith, the loyalty of good friends, conquering your fears and dealing with the consequences of your actions…(a) vivid and original world…a delightful series” —Dragons, Heroes, and Wizards
Whispering Wind Moon
“Well, this looks like it, cookie,” Paul Winthrop said as he brought the rented Chevrolet to a stop on the edge of an otherwise utterly deserted road. The sun had barely gone down, but already the bright sunset was a memory and the sky was darkening into purple and an odd shade that was almost dark green.
Thea looked around, her arms crossed defiantly over her chest.
“There’s nothing here,” she said.
“Give it a moment,” Paul said. He was edgy, ill at ease, both hands resting heavily on the steering wheel. One of them had fluttered as if it had wanted to reach out to his daughter, but then dropped back into place without completing the motion.
Thea herself felt an icy dagger of fear lodged in her heart. There was a time she would have run to her father for solace, but it was he who had brought her to this place. She felt an odd sense of betrayal; the little child in her wanted to clutch at his arm and ask why he didn’t love her any more. Her older self, however, was acutely aware that it had been love that had been behind the half-formed motion of his hand, love tempered by his need to protect her balanced against his frustration and disappointment about everything she almost was but had never quite managed to become. Her failings were somehow his failings too, and he was desperate now, willing to try anything to try and kickstart her dormant gifts.
Zoë had kept her word and had briefed Thea on as much as she considered herself at liberty to tell a child whose parents had thought best to keep certain things from.
“I’m not entirely sure as to how, but I think that it might be a more exciting summer than you know,” she had said, sitting on Thea’s bed like a teenaged hoyden, with her long jeans-clad legs crossed and an assortment of silver rings glittering on every finger.
“I knew it. They’re sending me to the Alphiri,” Thea said.
“What? Where did you…?”
“I heard it,” Thea said stubbornly. “I heard Dad talking about the Alphiri, and a Gate…”
“Thea,” Zoë interrupted sharply, “when will you ever learn that eavesdroppers hear no good of themselves? I told you to quit spying. They would tell you what you need to know.”
“When?” Thea demanded.
“When you need to,” Zoë said. She stared at Thea in a loving and helpless way – her heart was with her niece, but her loyalties were still, in matters of child-rearing, with the adults in the family. “Don’t worry, Thea. You know I’ve always been able to sense what you’re thinking and feeling, even when you’re far away. If I get any inkling that you’re desperately unhappy or in trouble, I’ll come and get you. Or make sure that somebody does. I promise.”
But then January slipped into February, and things suddenly began to move far too fast. Something had happened, and almost overnight it was not summer being talked about any more; only a handful of weeks after the episode with the untransformed cube,Thea found that everything was happening right now. With little warning, she was suddenly given a few tough exams at her school – as though she was being prepared for extra academic credits, or being given a chance to make up work that she had missed… or would miss. Less than a week after she was done with those, Thea found her bag being packed. Her mother remained tight-lipped about her destination but the simmering anxiety about it did not fail to register with Thea. By the time that she and her father were finally alone together, it was almost too late for questions – they were in an airplane bound for Albuquerque, New Mexico, and her father seemed more inclined to treat her like a little girl and call her “cookie”, a name he hadn’t used since she was about four years old – and for some reason this sudden tenderness spooked Thea into silence.
Unable to broach the subject that scared her, she sank deeper into this fear of the unknown as Paul loaded her duffel bag into the back of the rented car and drove them into the back country. If she had not been so afraid of the immediate future, Thea was distantly aware that she would have found this place beautiful, particularly when the sun started going down and the rich golden light painted the hills and mesas improbable shades of orange and dark red. But she was too preoccupied to pay much attention, and then the sun was gone, and darkness was falling.
And then her father stopped the car. Thea remained inside as Paul got out and retrieved her duffel bag from the trunk. She felt helplessly mutinous, wondered what would happen if she threw a tantrum as she might have done back when she was truly her Daddy’s “cookie” – if she sat there and wailed that she wanted to go home. But Paul said nothing, did nothing, made no demands on her. He simply waited quietly beside the car, the duffle bag at his feet, as dusk faded into evening and the stars, bright and vivid in a night sky untainted by any artificial light, started winking into existence. To Thea, who was used to her father’s forceful and direct presence, this patient stillness was doing nothing to calm her own fears.
He was barely more than a shadowy shape outside when she finally saw him stir, look at the sky, straighten up and gaze somewhere out into the horizon, and then pull something out of his jacket pocket with his right hand. With the left he knocked gently on the window of the car.
“Come on, hon.”
Thea reached over and opened the window a crack. “I’m not… “she began, and then swallowed hard and peered outside, trying to read her father’s face in the dark. “Where are we going?”
“Not far,” he said. “Look.”
He appeared to be pointing, and Thea squinted in the direction indicated by his outstretched arm. At first she could see nothing, but then she noticed a distant shimmer out in the empty darkness, as if a handful of stars had fallen down to the earth and were huddling together on the ground. The shimmer grew larger, or maybe closer; Thea’s mouth was suddenly dry.
“Daddy..?” she said in a small voice.
“Come on, hon,” he said again, this time reaching out and opening the door.
“Where are you taking me?” Thea said, sitting frozen in her seat.
“It’ll be all right, I promise. I’m sorry I couldn’t tell you more, but that was one of the conditions that he… come on, cookie, I won’t let anyone hurt you.”
Thea swung her legs out of the car, but did not stand up; she was staring, mouth open, at the shimmer which was now the size of a Newfoundland dog or a small pony.
“What is it?” she whispered.
Paul took one of her hands and folded it around the thing he had taken out of his pocket earlier. “Don’t lose that,” he said, “and come on. It’s time.”
Thea opened her hand reflexively and stared at what her father had given her. It appeared to be a medallion of some sort. She could not see much detail in the starlight but her fingers told her that the surface was not smooth, that it was worked into a symbol or into writing. It was attached to a thin, strong chain that poured out between her fingers and hung from her hand, glinting gently.
“You’d better wear it,” Paul said, “it’s safer.” He reached out, took the medallion from her hand, and looped it around her neck. It hung halfway down her chest, heavier than she had thought it would be.
The shimmer was coalescing, growing, coming closer, until Thea finally saw it shape itself into a glowing portal, a door opening from the starlit darkness into bright white light beyond.
And there was someone… or something… coming out of it.
“It’s just the Guardian,” Paul said. “He won’t harm you.”
Thea had filled in the blanks of the emerging Guardian with monster-shapes, and it was with an odd sense of disappointment that she realized that the Guardian was an Alphiri, a race she had grown up being familiar with, whose language she studied at school. To be sure, this one was a little taller, a little larger – but he still had the tall, thin frame of the Alphiri, and their knot of white hair piled up on the back of the head, and the golden eyes and long pointed ears of all their kin. He wore the customary winged sandals which were the uniform of an Alphiri messenger, too.
It was an injection of the familiar, and Thea actually managed a small smile as she stood beside the car watching the Guardian approach.
“Greetings,” the messenger said, inclining his head briefly to Paul Winthrop and favoring Thea with a small sharp glance. “You have the Pass?”
“She wears it,” Paul said.
“Good. We will be collecting the fee as arranged. Galathea Winthrop, come with me.”
Thea turned saucer-sized eyes to Paul.
“Honey,” he said, coming down on one knee beside her, “trust me on this. You ‘re going to a friend.”
“Aren’t you coming with me…?” Thea said, aware that she was sounding like a lost child but completely unable to stop herself from doing so.
“No, Thea,” Paul said gently. “The Pass is for one. It will get you back through when you’re done on the other side – don’t lose it. Don’t worry, it’ll be all right. I’ll be back for you soon. But he’ll be there to meet you on the other side of the Portal.”
“Who will..? Who will meet me?…”
“Come,” the tall Alphiri said, his golden eyes glowing in the starlight with a light of their own. Thea tore her eyes off her father for an instant to look at him, and when she returned her gaze to where her father had been he was suddenly not there any more – or, rather, he was small and distant, lost in the dark, and the bright light of the Portal was all around her as she stood beside the impassive Alphiri Guardian, her bag at her feet.
She screamed then, a thin, terrified scream; she would have run, maybe, back to where the figure of her father was getting smaller and darker until he finally disappeared into the night. She would have run except for the weight of a hand on her shoulder, the heavy hand of the Guardian.
Thea knew about Portals – there was constant traffic between polities, for trade and tourism, it was a part of her everyday world. She hadn’t known that it was Alphiri who Guarded them, but it made perfect sense, in context. They would have made it their business to get something out of the opportunity.The Portal Guardian had taken on a commission and he would deliver on it, according the Trade Codex of his race. Full service for full payment. The Alphiri were all about trade and gain and making a profit.
It was like a recitation of something familiar, something she knew, something she could latch onto and pretend that she was still in a world that made sense. The rest of it was disintegrating around her, shattered into the Portal’s splintered light – the Portal that was taking her from the known world to the unknown.
And her father had sent her here.
“I’m sorry,” she sobbed out loud, unable to help herself. “I’m sorry I can’t be what you want me to be… I’m sorry…”
The sudden tears that had momentarily blinded her, and when she blinked them away it was to discover that everything had changed. The Portal light was gone. So was its Alphiri Guardian. It was still night, but the air was colder than the place she had just left, cold enough to make Thea shiver. Hanging large and heavy in the sky, shepherding the stars, was a waxing moon, nearly full and bone-white, flooding the empty country with a wash of ghostly light. Thea’s bag lay at her feet, and she stared at it blankly for a moment, trying to remember what was in it and just why it had been thought necessary for her to have luggage. It wasn’t as if she had been going on a holiday somewhere.
Thea wiped the tears from her eyes with the back of her hand and looked around. She appeared to be quite alone, except for a distant cry of what she supposed was a coyote.
“So,” said a voice behind her. “You are here.”
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