There is one True World, and then there are the four Mirror Worlds: Fire, Water, Air, and Stone.
Audrey and Dorotea are “ otherselves”—twin copies of each other who live on different Mirror Worlds.
On Air, Audrey has the ability to communicate with wind spirits. As war looms, she’s torn between loyalty to her country and her feelings for a roguish phantom who may be a dangerous spy.
Blackouts and earthquakes threaten the few remaining humans on Stone, who have been forced to live underground. To save her injured sister, Dorotea breaks taboo and releases an imprisoned gargoyle. Brooding, sensitive Jasper makes her wonder if gargoyles are truly traitors, as she’s always been told.
Unbeknownst to them, they both face the same enemy—an evil sorceress bent on shattering all the Mirror Worlds.
The Otherselves series is best enjoyed in order.
Book #1 Through Fire and Sea
Book #2 Amid Wind and Stone
Book #3 In Truth and Ashes
About the Author
Nicole Luiken wrote her first book at age thirteen and never stopped.
She is the author of ten published books for young adults, including Violet Eyes and its sequels, Silver Eyes and Angel Eyes, Frost, Unlocking the Doors, The Catalyst, Escape to the Overworld, Dreamfire, Dreamline, and the first Otherselves novel, Through Fire&Sea. She also has an adult thriller, Running on Instinct, under the name N.M. Luiken, and an adult fantasy romance series, Gate to Kandrith and Soul of Kandrith.
Nicole lives with her family in Edmonton, AB. It is physically impossible for her to go more than three days in a row without writing. Visit her website at www.nicoleluiken.com or like her Facebook fan page for updates on her novels.
Read an Excerpt
Amid Wind & Stone
By Nicole Luiken, Tracy Montoya
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2016 Nicole Luiken
All rights reserved.
The lights went out, plunging the cave into absolute darkness.
Dorotea froze on her hands and knees in the tunnel. Behind her, Marta wailed. Dorotea reached back and found her little sister's hand. "It's all right. The lights will come back in a moment." Despite her reassuring words, worry wormed its way into her stomach. It wasn't unusual for one or two of the light squares embedded in the walls to burn out and stay black for a few weeks before being replaced, but every light in the whole tunnel had winked out at the same instant as if it were False Night instead of an hour short of noon.
Instinct prodded at her. Something's wrong.
Marta squeezed her hand with six-year-old strength. "I'm scared! Make the lights come back."
As if being eleven years older conferred magic powers. "The Elect will fix it. All we have to do is wait."
"I'm so scared," Marta whined.
"Crawl up closer to me," Dorotea said. "The tunnel's wide enough here."
Marta squirmed up. Dorotea lay on her side and cuddled her sister's small body. The contact comforted Dorotea, too. Marta's presence meant Dorotea couldn't panic.
Her eyes remained open, uselessly straining to see in the utter darkness. She'd never experienced anything like it. During False Night, each cavern had a few lights that remained on so people could find their way to the privy. This darkness was blacker than the inside of a coal seam.
Maybe only the tunnel's lights had gone out. Maybe there was still light in the main caverns.
"I'm scared of the dark." Marta whimpered again. "What if the gargoyles get us?"
Dorotea's heart jumped into her throat at the thought of hands reaching up through solid stone, but she made her voice calm. "Don't be silly. All the gargoyles are safely locked up in the Cavern of Traitors."
"But what if they tunneled through the floor?"
"They can't," Dorotea said shortly. "They're frozen in place. Why are you scared of gargoyles? You've never even seen one. They were imprisoned before you were born." They didn't kill your father, like they did mine. Marta's father, Martin, was annoyingly alive.
Dorotea had been younger than Marta when the gargoyles rebelled. She barely remembered them except for fuzzy images of her father's gargoyle: a very tall, silent man made of gray stone with a craggy, rough-hewn face.
The gargoyles couldn't have caused the blackout. Could they? Surely not, but anxiety still twisted inside her, keying her nerves to a higher pitch. She shivered in the clammy embrace of the stone tunnels. The rough trousers and tunic she'd donned for weeding were better suited for crawling than her usual robes, but the material was also thinner.
Something's wrong. Something more than a Tech malfunction.
She made her voice cheerful for Marta's sake. "While we wait for the lights to come back on, why don't we keep going?" The lights had been off for at least five minutes now. They couldn't stay here forever. Her throat already felt sand-dry, and soon the chill of the rock walls would seep into their bones. Or Marta was sure to need the privy.
Why, oh why, had she decided to take the tunnel today instead of the stairs?
Oh, right. Laziness. After three hours of weeding, the idea of a shortcut had appealed to her greatly.
The small natural passage connecting Vegetable Cavern with Artisan Cavern was seldom used except by children. It was big enough for an adult to squeeze through but hard on the knees. Dorotea could still crawl through it in fifteen minutes instead of the near hour it took to climb the stairs from Vegetable up to Elect Cavern, go over the mill bridge at the top of the falls, down the ladder to Stone Heart Cavern, and then along the narrow, winding passage beside the river to Artisan Cavern.
She was scheduled to take her weekly turn powering the treadmill that stored energy for the looms this afternoon. The task was both back-breaking and mind-numbingly boring. Taking the shortcut would give her a longer break.
Silently, she admitted the real reason she'd taken the tunnel: she liked it. Even though the tunnel was usually well lit and was dead easy to navigate with no side tunnels, crawling through it always made her feel like an explorer, a Stone Heart Clan member. It made her feel closer to her father.
Taking the tunnel on a day when she had Marta with her was her real mistake.
Though at least in the tunnel she didn't have to worry about Marta making a misstep and falling in the swift-flowing underground river. She shuddered at the thought.
Although the passageway itself might twist and turn, when traveling through the tunnel, there was only forward and back. Right now there was only forward because Dorotea didn't think there was space enough for her to turn around without getting stuck. Marta could manage it, but not her.
"Will the lights be on at home?" Marta asked.
"I should think so," Dorotea lied. "Do you want to go first or should I?"
"Can't we go together?" Marta clung to her neck.
"There isn't enough room to go side by side. Why don't I go first, and you hold onto my foot?" Dorotea suggested. The exit into Artisan Cavern was a bit steep. Dorotea didn't want to risk Marta falling. Besides, if Marta went first, she'd go slowly. Dorotea wanted out of here with an urgency that grew every moment.
The closeness of the tunnel had never bothered her before. Indeed, she'd prided herself on her caving ability, part of her Stone Heart Clan heritage, but it was different in the dark. The cave walls seemed to press in on her.
Dorotea gently disentangled herself from Marta and started down the sloping passage. She shuffled on her knees, taking care not to accidentally kick Marta.
Her sister clutched her ankle. "What if a gargoyle grabs me?"
"There are no gargoyles here, I promise," Dorotea said. She needed to get Marta to think about something else. "Let's sing a song, shall we?" She launched into the first song she could think of: "Inchworm, inchworm, crawling through the underground."
Marta joined her on the chorus, and they kept crawling through the irregular tunnel. Dorotea bumped her head once and her shoulders repeatedly. Goddess, it was dark. She tried to remember how far down the tunnel she and Marta had gone before the lights went out. Over halfway, maybe as far as three quarters the distance needed.
Nothing to do but keep crawling and singing. She'd run out of verses, so she started making them up: "Inchworm, inchworm, bumping his something something."
Marta giggled. "That's not right!"
"Oh? How does it go then? Inchworm, inchworm, crawling behind his sister —"
A tremor shook the tunnel walls.
Marta shrieked. "Gargoyles! Help!"
Dorotea broke out in a sweat, and dread iced her blood. That had been something far, far more dangerous than gargoyles: an earthquake. They'd been occurring all too frequently of late as the Goddess's sleep grew restless. And one tremor was often followed by a bigger quake. Dorotea swallowed, her throat painfully dry. "Keep going!" she yelled.
But Marta had let go of her ankle, crying.
"Come on, Marta, grab my foot. Please, we're almost out," she lied, nearly frantic.
But Marta just kept wailing, too young to understand how precarious their situation was in this narrow tunnel. One rockfall could trap them. Or bring the roof down on their heads.
Dorotea ground her teeth, annoyance spiking her fear. It drove her crazy when Marta did this: decide she was tired, sit down, and cry to be picked up. Her father, Martin, always gave in and picked her up as if Marta were still three instead of six.
Dorotea couldn't carry her, even if she wanted to.
"Marta!" she barked. "Move now, or I'll leave you behind." To make the threat believable, Dorotea crawled forward two feet. "I mean it! I'm leaving!"
Dorotea listened hard, hoping to hear her sister following, but Marta just bawled louder. Great. Now the kid was hysterical.
Dorotea resisted the urge to bang her head against the wall. Grudgingly, she admitted that this time Marta wasn't being willful. She was genuinely terrified. Which meant her sister wasn't going to budge.
Dorotea had two choices: go on without her and return with help or drag her along.
No choice really.
"Stop crying," Dorotea said without much hope that Marta would listen. With cold fingers, she measured the width of the tunnel. Her fingers came away gritty. When the lights were on, the tunnel had seemed generously wide. In the dark, she was constantly bruising herself on the walls.
She moved a little farther down the tunnel, away from her crying sister, and explored again. Was it wider here? Maybe. Taking a deep breath, she laboriously began to turn around. Rock scraped against her spine, and for a horrid moment, she thought she was stuck in that folded-up position, but by pushing with her feet, she squirmed past the sticking point.
Only to ram her forehead into an unseen rock. Tears stung her eyes. Sandstorms, that hurt. Had she broken the skin? She found a lump, but no blood.
"Mom, Mom, Mom, Momma," Marta blubbered.
"I'm coming, Marta."
Dorotea was facing away from the direction they needed to go, but her head and hands were aligned with her sister. In this position, she could talk to Marta — and drag her along by force if she had to.
Creeping forward, she located her sister's head in the dark and brushed at her fine hair. "Marta, it's all right. I'm here." She hugged her little sister. "Shhh, I'm here." She rubbed a circle on Marta's back and tried not to dwell on the looming possibility of another quake.
Gradually, Marta's sobs quieted.
She kissed her sister's forehead. "Come on, let's crawl together." On her hands and knees, she backed down the tunnel, coaxing Marta into following. It was slow and awkward, and Dorotea's nerves screamed at the delay, but at least they were making progress.
Why hadn't the lights come back on? Dorotea couldn't remember them ever being off for this long before. Biting her lip, she urged Marta forward with a constant stream of praise. "That's right, you're doing well. We'll be out of here soon, and Mom will make us soup."
Marta hiccupped. "I h-hate soup."
"Sweet tea then," Dorotea promised, rashly, considering how dear sugar was. They had to move faster. She could swear she felt another earthquake gathering: a vibration in her back teeth. The hairs rose on the back of her neck.
They were out of time. They'd never make it out of the tunnel.
And then, like a miracle, her knee came down on metal instead of stone. They'd hit one of the reinforced sections of the tunnel, a hollow metal box there to shore up a previous rockfall. They could shelter inside it.
She crawled faster, scraping her knee in her haste, dragging Marta forward. "Hurry." Again, that looming sense of danger, of gathering anger.
Except the metal tunnel proved too short to shelter them both, only three feet long. Nor was it wide enough for them to lie side by side. Dorotea's heart kicked in panic as she crawled out the other side, but she kept her voice calm. "Do you feel the metal floor, Marta? Get your whole body onto the metal. Curl up if you have to. Are you inside?"
"Yes. It's cold." Marta wriggled around.
"Stay still," Dorotea said sharply. She put her head next to Marta's — the only part of herself she could protect — and held her sister's hand.
The sense of building wrath exploded.
The whole passageway started to shake. A low rumble like an angry gargoyle traveled through the earth in a wave. The top of her head clonked against the metal ceiling; her teeth bit down on her tongue. Pebbles and dirt cascaded over her back and shoulders as the shaking grew fiercer.
Marta was screaming, but Dorotea could barely hear her. This was more than the Goddess turning over in her sleep. The hard shaking expressed rage, an anger so vast it battered the world. All Dorotea could do was grit her teeth and hang on as fists of stone pummeled her body.
When the earthquake finally slowed and stopped, she didn't trust it for a moment, unmoving.
The fall of pebbles turned into a fine sifting of dust. Dorotea coughed, eyes stinging. There was nothing to see except darkness, but she couldn't bear to close them.
Rubble covered her legs. She shifted them gingerly. Nothing seemed broken or trapped. She started pushing rocks to one side of the tunnel. "Don't worry, Marta," she said cheerfully. "I'll have the way cleared in a jiffy."
Ominous silence answered her. She would have expected Marta to be wailing at the top of her lungs.
Dorotea's pulsed pounded in her ears. Sudden terror seized her chest, making it hard to breathe. "Marta? Answer me!" Her sister was supposed to be safe in the reinforced tunnel. Somehow she'd lost her sister's hand. She groped until she found it again. "Marta!"
Marta's fingers hung limp in her grasp.
Still coughing, Dorotea reached out and touched rocks. The tunnel roof had caved in just where the reinforced section met stone again.
No. Goddess, no. Please —
Frantically, Dorotea picked up rocks and pushed them behind her. She found the space created by the reinforced tunnel and Marta's head. Hair, forehead ... Her fingertips dabbed wetness. Blood. Either Marta's head had stuck out just a little too far, or a falling rock had bounced inside and hit her.
"Marta!" Speaking provoked another coughing fit. Crying, Dorotea patted her hands over her sister's frail chest, terrified of what she might find. Was she —?
Marta breathed. And the rest of her body was untouched, just unresponsive.
Dorotea screamed for help, but she knew in her heart the tunnel had too many twists and turns for anyone to hear her.
Breathing ragged, Dorotea pressed the hem of her tunic to Marta's bloody forehead. She applied pressure and made herself count aloud. At five hundred, the bleeding stopped, but Marta didn't wake.
She wanted to scream. Why were the lights still off? What if the earthquake had collapsed the entire cavern? What if she were the only person still alive?
Stop it! She couldn't think like that or she'd go mad.
She couldn't panic — Marta needed her.
What was the best thing to do? Go for help? It might be the fastest way, but Dorotea couldn't bear to leave her sister alone in the dark. She couldn't stand the thought of Marta waking by herself, in pain, in the dark, screaming in fear of gargoyles.
Or dying alone.
Dorotea cleared away the rubble as best she could and began to back down the tunnel, dragging her sister's body after her. She paused frequently to reassure herself that Marta was still breathing and to call for help.
Unable to stand the silence, she began to sing the stupid song again, "Inchworm, inchworm, measuring the passageway ..." But Marta never joined in.
After an endless time, Dorotea's toes detected a steeper downward slant. Finally. The pitched incline meant they were near the entrance to the Artisan Cavern. She drew in a deep breath and yelled, "Help!"
She strained her ears and was rewarded with the faint sound of voices. Encouraged, she bellowed again. "Help! I'm in the tunnel, and my sister's hurt!"
"Who's that?" a voice called, and a faint glow appeared.
It was just barely visible, but any light after so long in darkness was incredibly welcome.
She answered the voice's questions and tugged Marta down the incline. At the bottom, hands helped both her and Marta out of the tunnel.
Dorotea tried to stand, but her legs collapsed under her. Her clothes were caked in cave mud, and her whole body shook with cold. She watched dully as her neighbors carried her sister to a nearby pallet. Under her own layer of mud, Marta was cavefish pale, her light brown hair matted with blood, and so terribly, terribly small.
"You're Hilde's daughters, aren't you?" someone asked.
She nodded. She and Marta shared the same pointy chin, inherited from their mother. Otherwise, they didn't look much alike. Dorotea had her father's dark eyebrows and dark brown hair as well as his sturdier build.
And then there were more people, and her mother was there, and Dorotea could finally let go and cry.
Two hours later, the cavern lights blazed back to life. Two hours after that, a healer and her Unskilled servant finally arrived.
Excerpted from Amid Wind & Stone by Nicole Luiken, Tracy Montoya. Copyright © 2016 Nicole Luiken. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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