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design, content, editorial accuracy, and views expressed or implied in this
work are those of the author.
Cover and chapter illustrations
by Terri L. Lahr. Text illustrations by Becky Miller.
No part of this publication may
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Congress Catalog Card Number: 2005904151
was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb
that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
so He did not open His mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7, NASB)
ow I screamed and thrashed when
the bloody knife clipped my ears! Father held me down until it was all over. “I
am sorry,” he said, though his eyes betrayed as much fear as sorrow. “When we
found you, the Gray Death had stolen your memory. You mustn’t go out until your
ears and head wound have healed. If anyone should ask, you are an orphaned flatlander.”
hard in Swyndon for a flatlander with scarred ears. Whispers followed me
everywhere, even onto the Downs, where I pastured Father’s sheep. He and Mother
never had any children, so when a young fugitive from the Gray Death wandered
bleeding into town, they were happy to take me into their home and love me as
their own. Love me they did, though I didn’t belong.
The life of a
shepherdess is a lonely one, but I was content. My sheep accepted me, scarred
ears and all. The Gadabout accepted me, too. He didn’t visit often, but his
presence was always a comfort, both to my sheep and to me. And then there was
To me, he will
always be “the Boy.” He had a name, but everyone in the village called him “the
Boar.” He earned the nickname. We were pasturing our flocks one morning when
the biggest hog I’d ever seen came rampaging through the sheep, slashing left
and right with his wicked tusks. As our animals scattered, the beast came for
me and tore my shepherd’s crook out of my shaking hand.
Then the Boy
appeared at my side. With his spear in one hand and his staff in the other, he
brought that boar to its knees, but not before it had gashed his legs. Ignoring
his bloody wounds, the Boy drove his spear through the hog’s back and into its
After that, the Boy
fussed over me as if I were one of his own sheep. He didn’t mind my scars,
either, though I always wore my hair long to cover my ears. Still, one look at
my face, and anyone could see I was an outsider. The Boy didn’t care what I
At the first hint
of the Gray Death, he always sent me with my flocks back to the upland
pastures. He often followed us to be sure we didn’t stray or lose our way. The
afternoon sun casts a deceptive light on the Downs that can easily confuse the
“Off you go!” he
would say, twirling his shepherd’s crook over his head ever so playfully. “You
can’t stay here, else the Gray Death will catch you. You’re much too young for
Nobody, I have
since learned, is too young for a sheepshun. I am so thankful no more sheep
must needlessly die for the lost.
In my dreams, the
Gray Death would call to me from across the Downs with the mournful hissing of
wind-rippling grasses. Some days, I would stand alone at the breathing boundary
between fog and sun, longing to fling myself into that cool, gray sea my friends
so feared. I feared it, too, for it awakened in me dim memories of life before
the Clipping, when I knew only the Cold.
“The Cold?” you
ask. “Do you mean the cold of a winter’s day when the bleak hills huddle
against wind-whipped hail and sleet? Or do you mean the cold of a stone floor
on bare flesh when the fire has gone as dead as old bones buried under the
“No,” I answer. “I
mean the Cold that pierces soul and spirit like a thrice-frozen spear of sea
ice. I mean the Cold that can sap the life-heat and living breath out of a body
in seconds and leave her a solid lump of frozen flesh, senseless as a stone. The
Still, as a
shepherd snatches a lamb’s leg from the mouth of a ravening wolf, I salvaged
one memory from the Cold: Melina.
My name is Melina.
Chapter 1: Faery Rings
A heavy crock filled with bread dough toppled off the kitchen counter and
shattered on the floor. Gwynneth had barely brushed the bowl with her elbow.
Letting out a forlorn sigh, she gathered her work shift about her knees, knelt
on the cold tiles and began picking up the pieces.
Gwynneth!” her mother, Marlis, scolded her. “What in the name of Elgathel has
gotten into you? You’ve had your head in the trees all month. That’s the third
bowl you’ve broken this week, and now you have ruined the dough, too. I asked
you to help me with the baking, but you’re only making matters worse. Whatever
will I do with you, child? You really must pull yourself together by tomorrow,
or you’ll be in no shape for the wedding.”
Marlis and Gwynneth
were filling in for Cook, who was making a few last-minute purchases at the
Beechtown spring market. The other royal servants had also been busy day and
night cleaning, preparing meals, sewing wedding garments and writing formal
invitations. Gwynneth had done her best to stay out of the way.
Mother,” she said, and tears tickled her cheeks. Ordinarily, she was as nimble
and quick-witted as her brother Elwyn and sister Meghan, but lately, she had
been leaving a broad swath of destruction in her wake. And she was moody. One
minute she was in tears; the next, in laughter. Even Timothy was finding
excuses to avoid his betrothed. That didn’t improve her temper. If only their
wedding plans hadn’t gone so disastrously awry!
Gannon and his sister, Glenna, had insisted on attending, even if they had to
climb gnarly old Lightleaf and ride a peevish griffin. That meant the wedding
would have to wait until spring had stirred the torsil trees into leaf.
(Timothy’s parents knew nothing of Lucambra or of torsil travel. For their
sake, a second ceremony would be held in the Beechtown chapel.)
All-comers Griffin Race had further delayed the wedding. Setting out from the Hallowfast,
griffin riders from all over Lucambra flew thirty miles down the rugged
seacoast to Spider Snag, a dead spruce whose snaggly crown resembled a spider.
After rounding the snag, the contestants flew back to the Tower of the Tree,
circling it three times before crossing the finish line.
handily won the race riding Windsong, her father’s mount. Timothy and Smallpaw
had come in a close second. Unfortunately, in whipping around the Hallowfast on
his final turn, Windsong had sucked Gwynneth’s wedding gown right out of her
bedroom window. Catching on Smallpaw’s claws, the dress was torn to tatters and
dragged through the mud before Gwynneth could rescue it. Her mother spent an
entire month sewing another.
Then there were the
rings. Redwing son of Whitewing, king of the sorca, had promised to forge the
wedding bands from griffin-delved gold. However, Timothy and Gwynneth had
forgotten to send along their ring sizes, so the bands had come back too large.
Resizing them had held up the wedding another precious month.
Marlis’s green eyes
twinkled as she wiped the tears from her daughter’s face. “Now don’t fret,” she
said. “Let’s not spoil this special day over broken pottery and spilt dough. We
still have plenty of flour and yeast, so I can whip up a new batch of bread in
a blink. Now be a dear and finish helping me clean up this mess. Then you can
fetch me another crock from the pantry outside.”
scraped dough off the floor, Gwynneth swept up the remaining shards of
crockery. Hurrying out the door, she promptly collided with her father, who was
carrying an armload of firewood into the kitchen. Rolin and the firewood went
“Father! Are you
all right?” Gwynneth anxiously asked as she helped him to his feet. Wearing a
homespun tunic, Lucambra’s king appeared shaken but unhurt. His mane of
chestnut hair was festooned with lichen, moss and mistletoe from the firewood.
“I’m fine,” he
grunted, brushing himself off. Under his breath he added, “I knew I should have
gone deer hunting with Timothy in the Brynnmors this morning. Some days it just
doesn’t pay to get out of bed, and this is shaping up to be one of those days.”
Marlis rushed out
of the kitchen to help Gwynneth collect the scattered sticks of wood. The queen
caught Gwynneth’s eye and when the king’s back was turned, she pointed out the
green sprigs hitchhiking in his hair. Mother and daughter snickered.
swiveled and he planted his fists on his hips. “How dare you make sport of me?”
he demanded in a mock display of regal spleen. “I could have you locked up in
the dungeon, or tossed into a dragon’s den, or turned into toads, or—or—”
“We don’t have a
dungeon, and the dragon is dead, Father,” Gwynneth reminded him. How she loved
fencing with the king!
Folding her arms,
the queen leveled a cool look at Rolin from under hooded eyes. “Toads can’t
prepare your supper, either! If you were forced to fend for yourself, you
wouldn’t last a week. As I recall, burnt porridge with curdled sour milk is
The king feigned a wounded
air. “You always like my oatcakes! Besides, you must know that when mistletoe
catches in the king’s hair, any maiden who comes into his presence must kiss
Marlis and Gwynneth
dutifully pecked him on the cheek. Grinning, Rolin said, “That’s more like it!”
He waved a finger underneath Gwynneth’s nose. “Speaking of porridge, the next
time we have oatmeal for breakfast, you had better watch your back!”
The three broke
into laughter. A week earlier, Gwynneth had used a serving spoon to catapult a
steaming glob of sticky oatmeal smack into the back of her father’s head. This
opening shot led to a flurry of others as Bembor, Marlis, Elwyn and Meghan
joined in the oatmeal war. Cook later remarked on seeing the empty kettle, “You
all must have been hungry this morning.” In truth, most of his mush had
decorated the dining room walls and floor. Gwynneth was still combing oatmeal
out of her hair. Her great-grandfather, Bembor, had to go a step further and
cut off part of his white beard.
Once the firewood was
neatly stacked in the kitchen, Rolin went off to split more. Meanwhile,
Gwynneth was helping her mother mix and knead out another batch of bread dough.
It was hot working next to the roaring, wood-fired stove; Gwynneth was
constantly mopping the sweat from her forehead with her apron.
“Why don’t you cool
off outside while the dough rises?” Marlis suggested. “The fresh spring air
will do you good. When you’re feeling better, you can come back and help me
shape the loaves. Oh, and watch for mushrooms growing in the grass, won’t you?
After all the rain we’ve had, they’ll be popping up everywhere.”
“Thank you, Mum!”
Gwynneth said. She fled out the door.
Clattering down the
Hallowfast’s winding stone stairs, she threw open the door and ran outside.
“I’m going to be married tomorrow!” she cried to the cloud-strewn sky. She spun
on the grass, arms outstretched and blond hair flying. Rings, dress, food,
guests—at last everything was prepared. Still, a nagging doubt niggled at the
back of her mind. The doubt erupted into full-blown panic. She and Timothy had
yet to choose their troth-tree!
Not many years
earlier, Lucambrians had taken their life-trees from ordinary forest saplings
as substitutes for the Tree of trees that once grew on the Isle of Luralin. Now
that the Tree had come to abide with them, Lucambrians planted its seedlings as
sythan-ars. Gwynneth had her own life-tree. So did her brother and sister. As a
Thalmosian, Timothy didn’t need one. Still, he had planted a river birch beside
his parents’ humble home near Beechtown.
The troth-tree, on
the other hand, was a symbolic sythan-ar. Uprooting a wild tree sapling, a
betrothed couple would replant it beside the Hallowfast to signify their new
life together. The bread dough would simply have to wait until a troth-tree was
dizziness, Gwynneth collapsed into the grass and rolled onto her back. She was
gazing up at the sky’s spinning blue-white bowl when a feathered head and neck
swam into view.
Ironwing. “You will never get off the ground by twirling around with your arms
stuck out like tree limbs. Try running forward and flapping your arms. Since
you haven’t got any feathers, I suppose you won’t ever fly the way we griffins
“You’re such a
silly old sorc!” said Gwynneth cheerfully as she jumped up. Then she lightly
scratched Ironwing’s head and neck feathers. Purring with pleasure, he nuzzled
against her cheek.
“Would you mind
doing an errand for me?” she asked him.
and his neck and tail sagged. “I should have known. Whenever you scratch my
head, you want some favor or another in return. What is it this time? Do you
wish me to fly to the Willowah Mountains and bring you back a glory stone for
your wedding ring, or slay you a dragon, or fetch you some fresh venison? The
local deer are filling out quite nicely this spring.”
“No, thank you,”
Gwynneth replied. “I want your help in finding Timothy. He went away early this
morning, and I haven’t seen his shadow since. I think he went hunting in the
“Oh,” said the
sorc. “That’s all? Why didn’t you say so in the first place?” Ironwing spread
his magnificent eagle’s wings and leapt into the air. Climbing in lazy spirals
over the Hallowfast, he shrank to a dark speck floating over the Lucambrian
returned minutes later with Timothy on his back. Carrying a bow and quiver of
arrows, the Thalmosian hopped off and embraced Gwynneth. “What was so important
that you had to send Lucambra’s grumpiest griffin after me?” he teasingly asked
her. “I was stalking a fat buck when Ironwing showed up.”
“Just like a
man—hunting on the day before his wedding!” she retorted. While she explained
to Timothy the urgent necessity of finding a troth-tree, Ironwing lashed his
tail in exasperation.
“I’ll never understand
these quaint two-legged courtship rituals,” he said. “This pressing of lips
together, wrapping of arms, planting of trees, exchanging of rings—what is it
all for? Why not just bite each other as we sorcs do and be done with it? It’s
a wonder your earthbound race has survived for as long as it has.”
Gwynneth tried to
keep a straight face. “We have survived, my dear griffin, for the very reason
that we don’t bite each other!”
With a chuckle,
Timothy asked her, “Where shall we begin our troth-tree search—in Lucambra or
in some other torsil world?”
Ironwing’s back, Gwynneth said, “Hop on! I think I know just where we might
find plenty of tree seedlings.”
later, Ironwing was flying the betrothed couple back from Thalmos—and Gwynneth
had her troth-tree. As she had suspected, the amenthil Rosewand had spawned a
small forest of offspring beside Cottonwood Creek. After some debate, Gwynneth
and Timothy had settled on a sapling called Sweetspeech. She was so named for
the sweet blossom scent of her kind that opens mortal ears to comprehend the
speech of all living creatures.
As the Hallowfast
came into sight, Gwynneth noticed hundreds of dark-green halos pockmarking the
meadows below. The bands of lusher grass ranged from a foot to many yards in
width. Marlis had been right. Recent spring rains had brought out the
Gwynneth smiled to
herself. She had yet to introduce Timothy to the joys of picking and preparing
wild mushrooms. Whenever those delicacies sprouted in field or forest,
Lucambrians would drop whatever else they were doing and harvest the bounty.
Spiraling to earth,
Ironwing landed near one of the rings. After thanking the sorc and sending him
on his way, Gwynneth dragged a puzzled Timothy to the grassy circle’s rich
“People often pass
by these rings without noticing them,” she explained. Parting some tufts of
grass, she uncovered a cluster of wiry-stemmed, thimble-capped tan mushrooms.
With a squeal of delight, she plucked and smelled them, relishing their tangy
odor. They would go well in some scrambled Thalmosian chicken eggs. Early on,
her father had taught her how to mingle the savory flavors of mushrooms and
eggs in a variety of scrumptious dishes.
She presented the
dainty fungi to Timothy, who sniffed them suspiciously before holding them at
arm’s length. “Toadstools!” he pronounced. “Will your people bring bunches of
these things instead of flowers to our wedding? They smell absolutely horrid.”
“No, they won’t,”
Gwynneth told him. “And no, they don’t. You’re just not used to mushroomy
odors. This fungus is one of my favorites. We call it the ‘faery-ring
mushroom,’ or ‘bay-bonnet.’”
“What do faeries
have to do with fungi?” Timothy asked her.
“Legend has it that
when the faeries dance, they leave behind these grassy circles. Supposedly, if
mortals like us step into such a ring, they may be captured and whisked away to
the faeries’ kingdom. It’s all poppycock, of course.” Gwynneth ambled inside
the ring and out again several times without apparent ill effect.
“There, you see?”
she said, waving her hand. “Those old tales are nothing but nonsense. Elwyn
doesn’t believe in faeries, either. Bembor does, but he says it’s the mushrooms
that make these rings, not the ‘tylwyth teg.’ All sorts of mushrooms—even some
poisonous kinds—grow in circles, but bay-bonnets are the most common.”
“That means ‘the
fair folk’ in the Lucambrian tongue.”
With a disgusted
grimace, Timothy handed the bay-bonnets back to Gwynneth. “How do you know these
Gwynneth grinned at
him. She would make a true Lucambrian out of him yet! “For one thing, they’re
too small for toads to sit on,” she quipped. “For another, we just know, the
way you know the difference between a fir and a pine. Besides, I have been
eating bay-bonnets since I was a little girl. I’d recognize them anywhere.”
Timothy was aghast.
“You’re actually going to eat them?”
said, “Of course I am going to eat them—and you are going to help me! If you
want to marry a Lucambrian, you must learn to like mushrooms. I hope to gather
enough to make a nice bay-bonnet omelet, so be a prince and start picking.”
“No thanks,” said
Timothy, his lip curling. “I’m not touching those things. Toadstools can give
you warts. Besides, someone needs to plant our troth-tree before its roots dry
out.” Kissing Gwynneth, he picked up Sweetspeech and headed toward the
Thalmosian!” Gwynneth playfully called after him. For the next hour, she
hopscotched from ring to ring, filling the pockets of her shift to overflowing
with the fragrant bay-bonnets. Weary but elated, she made her way back to the
After making sure
Timothy had properly planted Sweetspeech, she tramped up the stairs to the
kitchen. Having just finished the baking, a disheveled Marlis greeted her with
a stormy glare.
and told her mother about Sweetspeech. Then she emptied her pockets, piling the
mushrooms on a table.
softened. “Bay-bonnets! I’ll fry them up in some eggs for our breakfast. And
I’m glad you and Timothy finally found a troth-tree. My tree, Spirelight, will
be glad of the company. Now run upstairs and try on your wedding gown one more
time, to make sure it fits. I don’t want to be making alterations at the last
minute! On your way up, please stop off at the dining hall and tell Wendell the
steward we will need more wine for our guests.”
Protesting that she
had tried on the dress five times already, Gwynneth headed up the stairs,
naming the rooms on either side as she went. “Bedroom, storeroom, armory,
scullery, dining hall.”
After visiting with
the talkative steward, who predicted warm weather for the wedding, Gwynneth
trudged up the remaining steps to her room. She resented the long climb to her
cramped quarters, when her brother and sister enjoyed more spacious lodgings
many floors below. At least the endless stairs and great height discouraged
annoying suitors and other unwelcome visitors.
At last she opened
a door engraved with trees and griffins. The designs were copied from Rolin’s
old wooden box, which had met a splintery end between a hungry yeg’s jaws. The
batwolf’s petrified body now graced one of the Hallowfast’s many garden paths.
Gwynneth decided her bedroom was more cozy than cramped. Besides, her window
offered a magnificent view of the Brynnmor Mountains. On clear days, Mt.
Golgunthor’s smoking cone was plainly visible through the Gap of Gwylnos.
In one corner of
the room stood her bow and arrows; in another, her lightstaff; in a third, a
blowpipe and darts, and in the fourth, a digging stick for prying mushrooms out
of the sod. Her bed occupied the center of the floor, and on the bed lay her
wedding gown, a vision of white satin trimmed with green and gold lace.
After shrugging on
the dress, Gwynneth appraised herself in a mirror hanging on the wall opposite
the bed. At almost eighteen, she was already taller than her mother, with
Marlis’s luxuriant blond hair, pert nose and winsome smile. However, her high,
clear forehead, narrow jaw and long fingers were all Rolin’s.
the gown and laid it back on the bed. Then from a shelf she took down a few
keepsakes: Winona’s gold ring and dog-eared diary; three of the Tree’s charred
cones Rolin had brought back from Luralin; some dried starflowers from the
Golden Wood; one of Whitewing’s neck feathers; and a marsh dragon’s eggshell.
After the honeymoon, she would finish packing her few belongings to take to the
valley of Liriassa, where she and Prince Timothy would be making their home as
Prince Timothy. What
a grand title for a grand bridegroom! With that thought, Gwynneth lay back on
her bed and fell asleep.
When she awoke,
darkness had crept into the room, though her staff still shone bravely in its
corner. Yawning like a sleepy griffin, she went to her window and looked out on
torchlight, hundreds of Lucambrians were toiling like ants to prepare the
grounds for the outdoor ceremony. Gwynneth was turning away from the window
when a gleam caught her eye. Beyond the glow of flaring torches, where the
meadows lay steeped in shadow, a circle of stars bobbed above the grass.
Gwynneth’s heart skipped a beat. Had the tylwyth teg come out to dance? That
night, she dreamt wicked faeries had kidnapped Timothy.
At dawn, she
bounded out of bed. Trumpets were ringing, the birds were singing, and she was
to be wed! She spent the morning surrounded by a bevy of seamstresses,
perfumers and beauticians. When her mother brought in a looking glass, Gwynneth
hardly recognized herself. A poised and elegant queen gazed back at her from
the mirror. Like her great-grandmother Winona, she wore a circlet of purest
white hemmonsil flowers in her hair.
She had asked her
father to perform the ceremony. Rolin had reminded her that since Gaelathane
enjoyed weddings, He might show up to bless hers. That suited Gwynneth to a
stitch. Whenever Gaelathane appeared, His loving presence left a glow of great
gladness on everyone’s face. Rolin frequently described how the King of the
Trees had taken part in his coronation ceremony.
with her parents in the throne room. Then they went downstairs and opened the
door. A sea of faces gawked back at them. Gwynneth gasped. She had no idea so
many guests had been invited. In truth, most had invited themselves. No true
Lucambrian likes to miss a wedding, especially a royal wedding!
back inside while Timothy accompanied her parents to the front of the
gathering. Next, a flurry of flutes and harps, trumpets and tambourines struck
up the rousing Lucambrian wedding march. Smoothing down her gown and taking up
her bouquet of starflowers, Gwynneth propelled herself through the door. Elwyn
stood by to escort her to the wedding platform.
After they had
mounted the dais stairs, Elwyn handed Gwynneth to Timothy and took his place as
best man beside the groom. Looking every inch a Lucambrian scout and
staff-bearer, Timothy wore a splendid green outfit under his full-length cloak.
Tears came to
Gwynneth’s eyes as she recalled first meeting the son of Garth. The Thalmosians
were invading Lucambra, and Timothy had just borne the brunt of the Lucambrian
council’s fury. Hounded over plain and under hill by General Gorn’s army,
Timothy and Gwynneth had shared their first kiss in Gwilym’s Gorge.
As maid of honor,
Gwynneth’s sister held the bouquet for her. Now grown tall and fair, Meghan
wore violets in her flaxen hair.
Resplendent in his
royal crown and robes, King Rolin beamed at the nervous couple. Under his
guidance, vows and rings were exchanged. Next came the Cloaking Oath, an
ancient Lucambrian wedding ritual revived by Rolin himself. Embracing Gwynneth,
Timothy drew his cloak closely about her trembling shoulders.
“Within this cloak
of mine, I thee wed,” he said, his eyes holding hers with love’s intensity. “It
shall warm thee against life’s deadly chills; it shall shield thee when dangers
assail; it shall comfort thee in the midst of sorrow and loneliness. My cloak
is now thy cloak, and in it shall our two hearts become entwined as one.”
King Rolin then
blessed the couple in Gaelathane’s name. Still wrapped in Timothy’s cloak, the
two kissed. Finally, they faced their family and friends. Through tears of joy,
Gwynneth saw her mother waving. Beside Marlis stood her brother Scanlon and his
wife, Medwyn, recently arrived from the Golden Wood with a party of other
worldwalkers. Bembor and his brother Marlon were tossing oak leaves into the
air, another Lucambrian wedding custom.
was grinning, while Aunt Mycena stepped out a lively jig. The brothers Opio and
Gemmio raised their hands in salute. Sigarth and Skoglund, the royal huntsmen,
were scanning the sky and the crowd for signs of trouble. Larkin scowled.
was supporting his red-haired sister, who had apparently fainted (again) at the
sight of a sorc. Gannon had blindfolded her before their flight to the tower on
Windsong’s back, but she had insisted on removing the cloth before the wedding.
everywhere. Some prowled among the onlookers or lay on the grass preening
themselves. Others wheeled high overhead, clicking and clacking their
congratulations. Windsong and Ironwing lounged near the platform, waiting to
take the newlyweds to the Willowah Mountains for a sunny honeymoon.
crying, Gwynneth and Timothy descended the platform stairs and swept through
the cheering throng. Near the back, Gwynneth caught sight of an old man clad in
What is he doing
here? she thought. Lucambrians don’t
keep sheep. She was dismissing those fleeting thoughts when the shepherd’s
penetrating gaze fell upon her from beneath bushy brows, reminding Gwynneth of
the autumn sun setting through clouds.
At the tower, she
and Timothy tied a ribbon around their troth-tree’s trunk to commemorate the
occasion. Next, the two rushed upstairs to change into their traveling clothes.
Then they went outside to greet their guests. Gwynneth was chatting with Bembor
when she recalled the odd lights she had seen the night before.
she tracked back and forth across the meadow until she found a faery ring
within the line of sight from her bedroom window. The grass blades in the dark
green circle looked undisturbed. If the fabled tylwyth teg had danced there
from dusk until dawn, they were light-footed creatures indeed!
Gwynneth laughed at
herself. She must have seen some children playing with torches. Stepping into
the ring, she glanced around to be certain no one was watching. Timothy caught
her eye and waved. She waved back. Then she strolled out of the faery ring.
Gwynneth’s heart with frigid fingers. Her parents, Timothy and all the wedding
guests had vanished in a gray mist.