With marriage comes change, and for Sanjay and Chryse, that change is literally world altering. After their wedding reception, they accidentally drop a gift—a pack of special tarot cards—onto an elevator floor. The cards scatter, the lights go out, and all at once, they find themselves transported to Anglia. It’s a strange parallel world not unlike Victorian England, but matriarchal in nature and shaped by powerful sorcery.
While fleeing a riot in the streets, the pair is rescued by aristocrats Julian and Kate, the first of many new friends and adventures. To get home, they must find a treasure in the labyrinth city of Pariam—a quest that becomes ever more daunting as it attracts the attention of the evil Princess Blessa. Wonderfully conceived and full of memorable characters, The Labyrinth Gate is vibrant fantasy on every level.
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About the Author
She likes to play sports more than she likes to watch them; right now, her sport of choice is outrigger canoe paddling. Her spouse has a much more interesting job than she does, with the added benefit that they had to move to Hawaii for his work; thus the outrigger canoes. They also have a schnauzer (a.k.a. the Schnazghul).
Read an Excerpt
The Labyrinth Gate
By Kate Elliott
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1988 Alis A. Rasmussen
All rights reserved.
"Say you drew a series of scenes from the wedding," said Chryse to her newly wed husband, "and a stonecarver replicated those drawings in a long relief, a—what are those Parthenon marbles called?—a frieze."
They stood under a pale Exit sign, the double doors behind them open to the cold night beyond. In the hall, friends and relatives moved in the slow, half-chaotic movements of the final cleaning up.
"Metopes," said Sanjay.
"And say those reliefs were buried for two thousand years, and then dug up by whatever distinguished archaeologists the future might produce—what do you suppose they would make of them?"
"I think," said Sanjay, gazing at an oblong white box being carried out the far door by the best man, "that we should have taken some of the leftover cake with us."
"Exactly. They'll think the cake was an offering to some beneficent goddess and the champagne toast the benediction, in human blood, perhaps, of the sacrifice of a virgin—of course, depending on whether it's a patriarchal or matriarchal culture, the virgin will be female or male—and the exchange of rings ... Well, maybe that part of the stone will be damaged so that they only see the hands and therefore reconstruct the scene entirely differently. Say as part of the celebratory dance."
"Is that a gift over there?" asked Sanjay. She followed his gaze. On one of the bare folding tables lay a small velvet bag, its cloth as brown as good soil, tied at the top with gold strings. Sanjay set his top hat down on the picnic hamper and walked over to the table, returning with the little pouch. A strip of parchment attached to the string read, in fine calligraphed letters: To the Newly-Wed Couple. "Anna must have overlooked it when she loaded the presents into her van."
Chryse shrugged. "Why don't we just take it with us?"
For a moment the hall and the bitter chill of outside faded as they regarded each other in silence. Chryse's smile surfaced first. With Sanjay it was a slower process: his happiness touched his eyes before his mouth. They both leaned forward, and kissed.
"Well," she said at last, mouth still a light brush on his. "I think we should find a more private setting for the rest of this conversation."
He smiled and picked up the hamper, and they let the exit door cut the hall off behind them.
"It's freezing!" she exclaimed as they walked towards the car. Their footsteps slipped in quiet crispness over the concrete walk. Behind, the low voices of last guests at the front entrance faded away into the stillness of late night.
"It's a beautiful dress," said Sanjay, hamper in one hand, the little velvet pouch in the other. "Especially with you in it."
"Madame de Pompadour would have been proud, although I'm not sure she would have chosen such a penetrating shade of green." She smoothed her hand down over the emerald brocade of her bodice. "But when Marie and I saw this fabric in the store, we couldn't resist—a real solstice green. White is so insipid, especially with my complexion in December. It's just too bad we had to mismatch our centuries, but you look so gorgeous in top hat and tails I can't complain."
"I could have worn a djoti."
"Or some kind of regimentals. Though the English weren't in India in the mid-1700s, were they? No, I suppose they were." She laughed. "Oh, the look on my father's face when you handed out the 'World Peace' buttons for the men's lapels instead of boutonnieres."
He sat the hamper down by the car, turned to grab her by the waist, and swung her around. "I love you," he said.
She tightened her hold on him, for once saying nothing, just holding.
After a bit they separated. He fished the keys from the hamper and unlocked the passenger door. "I take it I'm driving," he said.
"I don't think I fit under the steering wheel." She eased herself into the front seat. Skirt and petticoats swelled around her. "Sanjay!" she cried as he handed her the velvet pouch. "Let's open it now. Our first gift."
"You mean, you'll open it, while I drive."
"Don't worry. Ill let you open at least two of the other presents when we get back from our trip."
Their eyes met—brown in a dark face and, startlingly, brown against pale skin and blonde hair—and they both grinned.
There wasn't much traffic. The car traveled through pools of diffuse light, marking street lamps and the occasional signal. She undid the strings and slipped her hand inside the velvet. It caressed her skin, soft as fur. Inside, something harder, flat-surfaced, with the barest grain of texture. She fit it into her hand and drew it out.
"Oh," she said.
"What is it?" He slowed the car to a halt at a red signal and turned on the dome light.
"Oh," she repeated, flipping through them. "They're beautiful." She handed him one.
A card. In the background, a desert landscape, stark and barren. A young man, armed and outfitted, rides a horse on a path only he can see. His eyes are fixed on a single star that pierces the haze of night, as if it guides his quest. On the back of the card, an heraldic animal.
"What is that?" Chryse asked, leaning to look.
"I think," he said, tentative, "that it's a newt."
In the intersection, the light turned green.
"Look at this one," said Chryse.
Half-light, dawn and dusk. At the gates to a walled town, a cloaked figure turns away from the lighted gates to follow instead a dim road that leads up into dimmer mountains. Hidden in the hills, the suggestion of a castle. On the back, a wolf.
She handed him more cards. At least half were of a central figure, a person: a cross-legged woman levitating, a child dressed in rags, a naked archer, a man in chains. Others were of places, a temple of stones backed by a marshland, a fine, high hall backed by burgeoning fields; or of scenes—
"A wedding feast," said Chryse. "It's got to be, the bride and the groom at the head table. Look, her dress is green."
Sanjay examined a card with a stone gateway. On its back the same gateway, but of living birch trees. "There's something about these, almost like there's another dimension underneath the flat drawing. I almost feel that if I could just see it from the right angle, I could step through it into somewhere else." He shook his head and realized that a car was pulling up behind them, pausing, and then passing on through the intersection. He gave the card back to Chryse and started the car forward. "I don't know," he finished. "It's probably my imagination."
"Do you think someone—there's no signed card, of course. It must have gotten misplaced—did them 'specially for us? Who could it be?"
"Especially for us? I don't think so."
"Here's a grim one. A woman in her nightshirt running through the forest. But what a forest! Snakes and bugs and horrible little faces—it's a nightmare. But she can't see any of it because she's blindfolded and—yuck—she's stepping on a snake."
"That's nice. What's on the back?"
Chryse gave a little laugh. "A nightmare, of course. A black mare. I wonder how many there are—"
She began to count. By the time they reached the hotel she had triple-checked: fifty-two. Sanjay maneuvered into the underground garage and found a parking space.
"Well," he said as the motor died. "We really did it."
She laughed. "You're giving me that 'now what' look. What did we get married for, anyway?"
"So you can support me in the style to which I should be accustomed, wasn't it?"
"And I thought it was to assuage your broken heart."
Watching her, he reflected that it was this quality as much as any other that made him love her: an ability to take both the failures and triumphs of life with a grain of salt, a quality that some might call light cynicism if they did not recognize that it sprang from a true and deep love of life. He shrugged. "After all," he said, "if I have to give up my professional freedom in two weeks, I might as well give up my other freedoms as well."
"Oh, Sanjay." Her voice took on the half-disgusted tone of one about to embark on long, familiar, and overused arguments. "You didn't have to apply to the master's program in architecture, and once you got in, you didn't have to agree to go. You're such a martyr to your parents' wishes sometimes. And I hate to see you get so depressed about the prospect of three more years sitting in a classroom drawing suburban tract homes and urban office boxes when you really want to be hacking through the jungle with a machete uncovering some marvellous old city that you can draw."
"Don't forget to mention the picturesque native inhabitants whose portraits may, as my father says, strike a chord of humanity in all of us, but won't pay the rent." His tone was uncharacteristically, if softly, caustic. "I have to make a living somehow."
Chryse laughed ruefully. "I don't know. We're making enough to live on from my job."
"You can't work there forever. You know it's not what you want to do—even what you should be doing. You're the one who should be going back for a master's, not me. You know you can get into the music school at the university."
"And do what? It's no good getting a performance degree—there's no future for me there." She blew out her breath on one sharp gust. "What can I do with my music? I feel like that year we spent travelling around Britain as itinerant folk musicians was the apogee of my music career."
"Chryse," he said with some exasperation. "You've been in music since you were a girl. I think you're just afraid to make the real commitment to it now."
She made an impatient movement with one hand. "I don't want to talk about it. What I should do is smash every camera in the world."
"Then you'd have a profession. Before cameras they needed professional illustrators for archaeological digs and geological sites and newspapers and magazines."
His hands were still on the steering wheel, the high lights of the garage shading their length in the kind of detail he might have drawn into a sketch of the scene. "Like Catherwood at the Mayan sites. All those beautiful ancient images coming into the light again."
"Listen to us." She leaned across to kiss him on the cheek. "No wonder we got married—it was supposed to take our minds off our trivial problems for at least one night. I for one would like to get my dress off."
He smiled. "So would I—your dress, that is."
"Shall I leave your hat in the car?" she asked as they got out of the vehicle.
"No! I want to wear it." He took it from her. She rolled her eyes, and he laughed. "You're right. I'll just forget it in the hotel room." He set it down on the passenger seat and shut and locked the door.
Their footsteps echoed in the deserted cavern of the garage as they walked towards the corridor labeled Exit and Elevator. He had their coats and the hamper, looking almost like a Victorian gentleman on an outing. The overnight bag clashed culturally with her 18th-century gown. She held the bag awkwardly, out away from the stiff circle of her skirts. In her other hand she still held the cards and the pouch.
"Why are you bringing those?" Sanjay asked as they went up a dim hallway and stopped by the elevator to the lobby.
"I thought we'd lay them out on the bed, see what we've got."
He smiled. "Then I'll tell your future. I think it starts with kissing the handsomest man in the room."
The elevator arrived, opening for them with a light chime.
"They're going to think we're in a masquerade," said Chryse as they entered the elevator. "Here, let me put your 'Peace' button in the suitcase before you forget you're wearing it and leave it on the tuxedo."
As the doors shut, Sanjay set down the hamper and coats and took the suitcase from her. A shudder signaled the beginning of the elevator's ascent. With a movement almost startling in its abruptness, he embraced her, this time letting one hand caress her intimately.
Chryse gasped and started and laughed, and dropped the cards. They fluttered down around the couple, like the pattering of hard, slow rain, and as the embrace tightened, she let the last card, still caught in her hand, go as well, and gathered her husband closer to her.
The card struck the floor with a light tick.
The lights went out. Dead black, without a trace of light. A barely perceptible shuddering vibrated through the floor.
For a little while there was only soft laughter and the rustling of cloth and half-heard whispering.
"I'm dizzy," said Chryse finally into the blackness.
"I know," said Sanjay; and before she could retort, "so am I."
Her petticoats rustled down around her. as she crouched and began to count, picking up cards.
"... ten, eleven—Sanjay. Was the floor of this elevator wood?"
He had crouched as well. "It is strange," he said. "Here's ten more. Let me see—"
She had gotten to forty-three when with a snap a tiny flicker of flame wavered to life. It was hardly enough to illuminate more than a face on a card: an old woman's face. Hooded and cloaked, she sat on a bench, or an old log; behind her the gateway, sinister, yet inviting; a lamp stood, unlit, by her feet.
"Henry and Margaret," said Sanjay, reading from a white matchbook cover. "November 19. And to think I thought it was a silly custom."
"Forty-four," said Chryse. The match snuffed out, followed by a snik and a new, brighter flare—two matches. "Five. Six. Seven. Over there—thanks. Eight and nine. Fifty."
The flame went out, catching her in darkness as she reached for the fiftieth card and slipped it with the others into the velvet pouch.
"Chryse," said Sanjay suddenly in an odd tone of voice.
She looked up. He struck two more matches. Centered in the dim light was a brass door handle. He lifted the matches, tracing up from it, outlining, instead of an elevator door, an old, thick wooden door reinforced by heavy crossbeams. For the first time they realized that the slightest nimbus of light, the barest of diffuse glows, edged the door as well. And that a sound came from beyond, a low blending of voices in a kind of hymnal chorus, unfamiliar and eerie.
The matches dimmed and died. For a long moment, drawn out in silence and in a force as strong as physical tension, they stared at each other through the darkness.
"Do you ever get a feeling," said Chryse in a faint voice, "that the ground beneath your feet has suddenly vanished, and you're just waiting for the realization to hit you before you fall?"
Sanjay knelt. "We'd better find those last two cards."
New matches revealed a floor of old wood, split and shrunk to reveal gaping cracks beneath which they could detect nothing at all.
"Lift up your dress," said Sanjay. Immediately the light found a card, the gateway, just before the match smouldered and failed. He tucked the card into his suit pocket and rose. "Just one. The other must have fallen through."
"Sanjay," she said. "What's going on?"
He handed her her coat, put on his own, and picked up the hamper. She buttoned the pouch into the inside pocket of her coat and picked up the overnight bag. First they kissed; then he opened the door and stepped through.
The light was inconstant enough that it took some moments to fully distinguish their surroundings, to separate wall and window, floor and furniture, into discrete parts. They stared: at a high, vaulted ceiling of carved wood; at patterned windows that lanced up into darkness; at a ring of candles standing in tall sconces that illuminated an altar of white stone, a large portrait of a serene woman who, seated on a throne, held a haloed child in her arms and, below the portrait, a stone effigy of a young man pinioned in death.
Sanjay put out a hand blindly and gripped the nearest thing that came to hand. It proved to be a long wooden bench, first in a row of benches. "Now I'm falling," he murmured.
Chryse simply gaped. Her face had lost several shades of color.
For a space there was only their breathing.
"This is not—" began Sanjay finally. He broke off to turn back abruptly, and Chryse spun as well, as if fearing what might be behind her.
Excerpted from The Labyrinth Gate by Kate Elliott. Copyright © 1988 Alis A. Rasmussen. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsPrologue: The Midwife,
Chapter 1: The Gatekeeper,
Chapter 2: The Wanderer,
Chapter 3: The Empress of Bounty,
Chapter 4: The Emperor of Order,
Chapter 5: The Hunter,
Chapter 6: The Mage,
Chapter 7: The Crusader,
Chapter 8: The Merchant,
Chapter 9: The Sacrifice,
Chapter 10: The Beggar,
Chapter 11: The Page,
Chapter 12: The Master of Waters,
Chapter 13: The Philosopher,
Chapter 14: The Tutor,
Chapter 15: Dusk,
Chapter 16: The Archer,
Chapter 17: The Gate,
Chapter 18: Dawn,
Chapter 19: The Drowned Man,
Chapter 20: The Lover,
Chapter 21: The Madman,
Chapter 22: The Dreamer,
Chapter 23: The Seeker,
Chapter 24: The Paladin,
Chapter 25: The Healer,
Chapter 26: The Invalid,
Chapter 27: The Prisoner,
Chapter 28: The Angel of War,
Chapter 29: The Heiress,
Epilogue: The Queen of Heaven,
About the Author,