No one has traveled to or from faerieland since the end of the Border Wars, save through the Wintergate, whose power can only be activated on the shortest day of the year. When gatekeeper Emilia loses everything to the Border Kingdom, ice touches her heart and grows within her, until the day comes that she must finally choose between her duty and someone else's loss....
They said that when love grew cold, it was because the Snow Queen had sent slivers of ice to settle in the heart, but Emilia knew better. Duty did it: duty to a family whose magic held the Wintergate open, season after season, year after year.
It had been easier, they said, in her grandmother's time, and in her mother's day. Then, the gate had opened effortlessly, eight times a year, on the four high quarter days and their cross-quarter sistren, so that trade and goods and even love could flow across the border. But that had been before the Border Wars, and before the queen had laid down the magic that closed the Border Kingdom away from her own. Now the gate opened only in the daylight hours of the longest night, and only with considerable effort. Emilia stood unmoving in those hours, hardly blinking, gazing through the stone arch at a world beyond her own.READ MORE
There was never any telling what season it would be, in the Border Kingdom. Time flowed differently there, and all that matched from one side to the other was the power of the quarter and cross-quarter days. On Emilia's side, it only opened on the winter solstice, but in the Border Kingdom, she saw flowering spring and golden autumn no less often than she might glimpse heaping snow or the melting rush of spring. Whether it had been six weeks or six years between the opening, only those who came back home again could tell.
It had been spring in the Border Kingdom when Antoine had gone through the Wintergate, and seventeen winters for Emilia since.COLLAPSE