The Gate of the Year
Seven young men and women of Ashford Village aim to reach the highest status in their society - that of "Adult". One fails and falls in with bad company. The other six strive to craft a life by their own skills and strengths.
As well as the challenge to build their own lives the six, three boys and three girls, have to sort out the relationships between them in a world very different to ours. More
“An Adult is someone who can provide for themselves. As Adults you must provide for yourselves, by skills, strength or the use of the property that you have acquired. Can you do it? Can I go out into the world and cleave a living from it? Can you stand in that world saying ‘Am I going to eat tonight? Am I going to have clothes to wear? A roof over my head? The answers depend on me’.”
Seven young men and women of Ashford Village aim to reach that status. Marvin fails and falls in with bad company. The other six strive to craft a life and livelihood by their own skills and strengths. Liane and Roget are skilled metalworkers already. Karin is the daughter of a lord and Mallick was found on the Temple steps as a baby. The other two are Aspen – daughter of the castle’s head cook and Sandy, son of a farmer.
They have to meet each other in single combat, then leave their homes for a year to prove they can live by their own efforts
Can Karin put her life of ease behind her?
Will Mallick be accepted as one of the elite “Adults”.
Is Aspen able to rise above her somewhat lowly origins?
The six escort a carter’s wagons to the Village of Westport. Marvin, captured by robbers, betrays them to save his skin. The subsequent battle leaves robbers dead and wounded. Liane is also mortally hurt. Mallick dares to challenge his gods and they heal her through him.
In Westport they take on a run-down house, tidy it up and live there as a group. Aspen and Mallick have paired up; Liane and Roget are pledged to each other. Sandy will chase anything in a skirt, but Karin scorns him.
The robbers, guided again by Marvin, attack the house, but come off much the worse. As a result the Village Watch, armed peacekeepers, trail the robbers to their stronghold and storm it. Only Marvin and Marsha, one of the robber leader’s women, survive, and Marvin is wounded.
Marsha introduces him to her goddess, who requires regular sacrifice. They set up a temple and start capturing girls to use for that. In the process they capture Aspen and prepare her to be sacrificed.
The other five track them down, attack and free Aspen, but Roget is killed in the fray. Challenged by Liane, Mallick goes into the Shades, the world of the dead, to bring him back.
Mallick doesn’t find his own return from the Shades easy. Aspen gives up on him and moves in with Sandy. Karin, though, watches for him and, when he returns, expresses her love for him.
At the end of the year Karin and Aspen go back to Ashford. Karin finds that a marriage has been arranged for her, but the chosen man is not to her liking. She must choose between staying and living with him, or leaving and living with Mallick.