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Glimmer in the Maelstrom

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Glimmer in the Maelstrom

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Author: Louise Cusack
Publisher: Momentum Books, 2012
Simon & Schuster, 2003
Series: Shadow Through Time: Book 3

1. Destiny of The Light
2. Daughter of The Dark
3. Glimmer in the Maelstrom

Book Type: Novel
Genre: Fantasy
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The Maelstrom is building - inexorable, relentless, causing destruction and death on an unprecedented scale, pouring elements from one realm into another - and the only hope for humanity, the young Glimmer, has strayed far from her destiny to unite the Four Worlds. An accidental touch of the Plainsman Memory Stone infects her with emotions and she abducts the coldest of the nobles, Kert Sh'hale, taking him to the Fireworld of Haddash where her clumsy seduction allows the Serpent of Death to escape.

On our world, Pagan's son Vandal has grown into a young man, bitter at his father for abandoning him to return to Ennae. When tragedy steals Vandal's future, his bitterness becomes deadly and he follows his father through the Sacred Pool, intent on destroying the one thing Pagan loves most.

While Glimmer must give up everything she holds dear to fight the Serpent and secure a future from the remnants of mankind; Vandal hunts his father's betrothed, Lae; and the Maelstrom draws closer...

The final instalment of the Shadow Through Time trilogy is pure magic. A sumptuous conclusion to a feast of fantasy.



Talis of the House of Guardians severed his ethereal connection with the Earthworld of Ennae, rechannelling into his body the power he had projected to open the way between the worlds. The Column of Light he had created blinked out and a crashing roar echoed outwards, marking the closure. It was quickly absorbed by the thick cloud of the Airworld of Atheyre.

He blinked to accustom his eyes to the dimmer light and saw that where the column had touched the soft mist-like surface of Atheyre, there now lay an unconscious old Plainsman. Beside him was an ancient thong necklet, and threaded onto that necklet was the memory stone, the symbol of Plainsman leadership, the reason Talis's sovereign had ordered him to use his Guardian power to open the way between the worlds.

It was done. Talis dropped his arms, exhausted by the strain of the rite.

'I have it,' his young king Mihale said softly, plucking the necklet off its airy cushion, ignoring the Plainsman whom Talis now crouched to inspect. Khatrene, who was The Light of Ennae and Mihale's royal sister, came swiftly to Talis's side and he felt restored by her nearness.

'Can you help him?' she asked Talis.

'I will try.'

Talis took calming breaths to centre his power, so newly taxed by the Rite of Opening, while Khatrene touched the side of the Plainsman's withered throat with a gentle hand. Her long snow hair brushed the old man's chest, and though Talis should have concentrated on his task, instead he felt himself cast back in time. In the days after Khatrene had returned to Ennae from her exile on Magoria, he had been wounded protecting her and she had touched him just as she now touched the Plainsman. What an anguish of desire that gentle touch had brought him, for he had feared that she would never return his love. Worse anguish had followed, watching her marry then bear another man's child, but in the end Talis's steadfast love had won her heart and now the pain of his longing was only a distant memory.

'Beloved?' she whispered. 'Are you ill?'

Talis shook his head and remembered his task. 'Distracted,' he told her and smiled in reassurance. Then he closed his eyes, the better to focus healing power through his hand which now rested on the Plainsman's forehead.

'Who is he?' she whispered, her voice still low as though in deference to the old man's condition. 'I thought we'd met all of Noorinya's tribe, but I don't know this Plainsman.'

'Nor do I.' Through his hand, Talis had located the thread of life to which the old man clung. It was thin. In more fortuitous circumstances he would gift the Plainsman a portion of his own vitality to aid his healing. But he was weakened by the rite he had just performed and constrained by his king's demand that a further rite be instigated to return them to their homeworld of Ennae. Talis was unsure whether the Plainsman stone would have the power to transfer three people -- four people now -- back through the void. But he knew there would be less chance if he squandered any more of his power on healing.

'Forget the Plainsman,' Mihale said, and Talis opened his eyes to find his young king tying the necklet around his throat. 'He's probably dead. We should return to Ennae, now that we have the means.'

'He's not dead,' Khatrene snapped, turning to face her twin.

Talis winced at her tone. No one else spoke to their king as his sister did, but the Guardian understood her anger. He himself was surprised at the King's callous dismissal of another man's life, even a Plainsman. This was not the Mihale he remembered. Had the young king's death and subsequent revival in the Airworld changed his basic nature?

'And you might not care about him but I owe these people my life,' Khatrene added. 'Plainsmen hid me from Djahr, the man you married me to, when he came after me to cut his baby from my belly.'

'The Dark is dead,' Mihale replied, pointing to the seeing-storm they had looked through to witness the ending of their mortal enemy's life. It was quiescent now, another cloud among many, but with a word it could show them any world, anyone. 'The threat to our family is over,' he said. 'We are safe to return to Ennae, and we are going now. Talis!'

Khatrene was suddenly still. 'Why are you wearing the stone?' she asked.

Talis had been wondering the same thing.

'It belongs to me now,' Mihale said softly, and Talis felt hairs rise on his arms.

But disquiet or no, Talis knew his duty. 'Majesty,' he said, leaving the Plainsman to Khatrene.

'Open the way,' Mihale instructed. 'I will use the stone to get us back.'

Talis flicked a glance at his beloved who was frowning at her brother. 'You will use it?' she asked.

'Proceed,' Mihale demanded.

Talis painstakingly retraced the circle he needed, this time around the four of them, digging a trench with his hand in the spongy surface of this world. Inside the circle he raised his tired arms and invoked the rite. 'I am the light that warms the tunnel. I am the door that opens the way.' He searched the void with his mind but felt no jolt within himself to indicate that his sending had touched Ennae. It had been difficult enough on the previous occasion. This time it appeared impossible.

Minutes passed and Talis's arms ached.

'The way is not opening,' Mihale said.

'What did you expect?' Khatrene snapped back. 'Talis needs the stone.'

'I will make it work,' Mihale told her. Then to Talis, 'Tell me how is it done.'

'Majesty,' Talis said, his arms still raised to seek a passage for them, 'I believe one needs only the will. It is the intent that fires the stone's power.' Minutes ticked by as Talis struggled without success to open the way. 'Perhaps it is my weakness --' he began, but Khatrene interrupted.

'No it's not.' She turned on her brother. 'What's going on? You want to go back. We all want to go back. God knows I'm sick of feeling like I'm living inside a bag of cotton wool balls.' She waved an arm at their surrounds. 'And my daughter is on Ennae. I want to see her. But how can I if you won't give Talis the stone?'


Talis dropped his trembling arms and looked to his king who stood staring at nothing. 'Majesty, I will return it immediately we arrive back,' he said, wondering if his king imagined he would steal it or lose it. Had Mihale lost his memories of Talis's good service? Or was there another reason he felt mistrust of his sister's Champion?

Khatrene's voice was far from soft. 'Give him the goddamned stone!'

Talis felt real concern then. His beloved's temper could be volatile and the years she had spent on the illusion world of Magoria with its liberation of women and democracy had made her cynical about the role of monarchy in their society, though she was a princess herself. The twins had been prone to argument as children and apparently still were, but provoking Mihale's temper could put Talis in the shaky position of needing to choose between his king and his beloved, between duty and love.

Once before in the heat of anger, Mihale had declared Talis an outlaw for rescuing Khatrene from her husband and hiding her with the Plainsmen. When Mihale had discovered The Dark's murderous intentions towards his sister, that transgression had been forgiven. Disobeying a direct order now, however, would be quite another matter.

'It's wet,' Khatrene said, shaking Talis from his preoccupation. She lifted a bare foot, then pulled up the skirt of her tattered gown. 'There's... water.' She looked around.

'On the Airworld?' 'Then Talis felt it through his boots. Squelching. 'The Maelstrom must be sweeping the elements of one world into another.'

'Here.' Mihale untied the thong and held it out to Talis, who placed his hand beneath it. Yet for some reason the King did not release it immediately. 'I've waited long to own this,' he said. 'I... need it.'

'Majesty, you will have it back in moments,' Talis assured him, yet he wondered at his sovereign's strange words. To the best of his knowledge the King had never mentioned the Plainsman memory stone before, had likely not even known of its existence. Why would he say he had waited for it?

'Proceed,' Mihale said, and dropped the stone into his palm.

This time the Rite of Calling worked instantly. A crashing buffeted their ears as the Column of Light enveloped them in its stark illumination. Talis had never known such ease at opening the way between the worlds. The Plainsman stone was indeed powerful. Noorinya, the leader of the Plainsmen, had told him it gave her flashes of portent and became hot and cold to aid her decisionmaking, but Talis had never imagined that in the hands of a Guardian it would amplify his power.

'So peaceful,' Khatrene said as they rose into the air and drifted up in the column. Her eyelids drooped. Talis remembered then that they had slept on their journey to the Airworld, and as he yawned, he realised they would likely return the same way. A calm bliss permeated his thoughts and he was soon fast asleep.

Copyright © 2003 by Louise Cusack


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