TITLE: Seven Gates
GENRE: YA Fantasy
Sechra paused halfway up the slope. She didn’t know what waited on the ridge’s other side. She did know she’d be foolish to meet it like this, her heartbeat ragged with climbing, her mind mazed with wishing and fearing.
She breathed deeply. The smell of late blackberries rose warm and sharp from the bramble thickets. The blackberry leaves were turning crimson; first frost would come soon, whether or not she was here to know it. She didn’t know how long it took to find the hidden spring, or whether, having found it, you could come back.
Well, and she didn’t know if she’d want to come back to her aunt Rena’s house, to the Dunlin villagers who watched the outlander’s orphan with wary curiosity, to the days of spinning, milking, gardening and small gossip. She had liked that life little when she thought she had no other choice. Yesterday when the old woman told her of the secret gate she had thought of it as an escape. But this morning she was aware of something wild and sweet in the world around her, something she might miss. Perhaps Rena was right and there was no pleasing her. She might as well go on and see. She leaned into the slope, climbed to the ridge-top and looked down.
There was no grass on the far side. The bare stone-face fell steeply into a maelstrom of mist through which no shape showed and no sound rose.
“I won’t see until I go.”