“People and animals do not walk a straight line through the forest. They follow natural openings or paths made by others. Immediately around the cottage, these paths of least resistance through the brush all lead away to either side. It would be virtually impossible for a stranger to stumble on us.”
Varli was taking all this in. “What about in the winter? Isn’t there snow here?”
“There is, and then the risk will be greater, but very few people wander in the woods at that time, so it all evens out.”
She gestured him to take the lead. “We’re getting close, now. Look around. See what you can find.”
Leading his horse, Varli stepped ahead of her and moved forward. After a few steps he turned to see Zoe following, her finger pointing off to the left. “We were headed that way.”
“No, I’ve been going in a straight line.”
“Then the forest is moving. That way. Try again.”
A moment later her finger was off to the right.
“All right. I know what’s going on, and I still can’t find it. I believe you. So will you show me?”
“You did quite well. You made it within a spear-cast. Look around.”
He complied, then shrugged. “Just looks like forest to me.”
She pointed. “Up there. What do you see?”
He stared. “Flowers. Wait a minute. Why are there flowers up there?” He bashed his way through a screen of brush. “The roof! It has flowers growing on the roof!”
Taking a deep breath, Zoe pushed through after him.
The clearing was overgrown with brambles and small bushes. The training posts were weathered and loose in the ground, but still strong enough for tethering the horses. Zoe had expected the house to seem smaller, but she was shocked at how shabby it looked, in spite of the profusion of flowers growing on the roof. Ten years of summer sun and winter frost had performed their usual role. She showed Varli the special twist required to release the primitive-looking latch and eased the door open.
The emotional impact hit her with almost physical force. Except for a thick coat of dust filtered down from the sod roof above, the room was exactly as she had left it all those years ago.
She had insisted, before she and Barent departed, on leaving everything exactly as her grandfather had taught her, as they had always left it: kindling on the hearth, chairs set in to the table, utensils placed on the shelves and hangers. She had stood at this exact point in the doorway, looking around for the last time to be sure that it was perfect. And now she stood there again, tears pouring down her face at the memory of the little girl who had done everything she could in the vain hope that her grandfather would somehow approve and return to her, if only she performed the task well enough.
About the Book
Title: Zoysana’s Choice
Author: Gordon A. Long
Discovered as a child living alone in the forest and growing up an orphan of mixed parentage, but under the protection of the king’s youngest son, Zoe is appreciated for her own merit by everyone, from the royal family to the lowest kitchen wench. But her secure nest is shattered by conflict in the king’s family, and soon she will have to decide where her loyalties lie.
She flees to her former home in the mountains, where she finds many answers, but not to the questions she is asking.
Then she is offered the chance to visit Kyabra, the home of her grandfather, to learn about that ancient culture.
But all of these travels come to naught when she hears of war at home, and she returns to Petrella to be faced with a decision that could stop a war and change the lives of thousands, but only at the greatest personal cost.
This is the first published work of a 7-book saga of standalone novels tied together by characters and setting. Books 4 to 7 are sequential, and Books 1 to 3 happen 400 years earlier.
About the Author
Brought up in a logging camp with no electricity, Gordon Long learned his storytelling in the traditional way: at his father’s knee. He now spends his time editing, publishing, travelling, blogging and writing fantasy and social commentary, although sometimes the boundaries blur.
Gordon lives in Tsawwassen, British Columbia, with his wife, Linda, and their Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Josh. When he is not writing and publishing, he works on projects with the Surrey Seniors’ Planning Table, and is a staff writer for <indiesunlimited.com>
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