Gort and GogMagog, from Laurel's Miracle, are back along with Aisling. Gort's Uncle Daniel makes a cameo appearance and is the catalyst that sends Gort and GogMagog into the alternate reality of the land before the flood inundated Lyonesse.
Gort and GogMagog team up with King Arthur and the boys to rescue Aisling from the clutches of March, King of Cornwall and Lyonesse. Gort and his crystal stallion GogMagog, who is known as Ailim (silver fir), are swept into the magical land of Lyoness and find they are one of Arthur's men, Gort is confused to be called Gawain, but gets over it quickly when he realizes that Aisling is the maiden that March has abducted.
Gort/Gawain concentrate on deciding how best to save Lady Aisling.They have to breach the fortifications of King March's Castle Arbray to save Aisling. Gort as Gawain and Aisling as the Lady Nuina are older in this tale and have the chance to experience a more mature relationship than the one they have in Laurel's Miracle. And of course it all comes right in the end. It's a rollicking good adventure!
Excerpt from A Step Sideways
Whoever it was that had him by the back of the neck lifted Gort off his feet and dragged and half carried him into a dark narrow lane. Gort tried to get his teeth into the hand that dug cruelly into his face, he was rewarded by a hard shake and a blow that set his ears ringing and bright lights dancing across his vision. It was full dark now and Gort couldn’t see where he was and his head was hurting so much he couldn’t see straight anyway. After what seemed like forever his captor set him on his feet and twisted his arms painfully behind his back. The man secured Gort’s wrists with a thick zip tie and then spun him around to face him. Gort narrowed his eyes trying to make out the man’s features, the light was behind the man and Gort only saw his silhouette against the light. Then the man spoke and Gort knew that his worst nightmare had come true.
“Ya young whelp, who do you think you are kissing the daughter of that trollop, right in the lane. It’s a good thing it is that I’ve come back to keep you in line,” Uncle Daniel’s whiskey roughened voice cut Gort as surely as a knife.
Gort forced himself to open his mouth to say something, anything. But nothing came out, just a faint croaking, like a squashed frog, which was pretty much what Gort felt like at the moment. Daniel’s yellowed teeth glinted in the bit of light that filtered into the shed. Gort fought to control the tremors that threatened to unlock his knees and drop him to the ground at Daniel’s feet. He knew where he was now, this was the shed behind Daniel’s house. He was just two streets over from Emily’s house, but it might as well have been miles. Gort made himself look up and meet Daniel’s drunken gaze, his heart shrunk in his chest at the anger he saw in Daniel’s eyes.
He’s going to put me in the cupboard, I can’t go in the cupboard, I won’t.
Gort shifted his feet and stood up a little straighter. Daniel narrowed his eyes at Gort’s show of defiance.
“Don’t look at me like that, boy,” Uncle Daniel snarled and took a quick step toward Gort.
Gort refused to step backward away from him and at any rate he knew from past experience that such a move would only make his uncle more belligerent. So he stood his ground and hoped that Coll would come looking for him soon. In answer to his prayers, Gort heard Coll’s voice hollering for him. Daniel looked over his shoulder at the sound of Coll’s voice and Gort took the chance and bolted for the door. Uncle Daniel swung back and lifted Gort off his feet by the collar of his jacket. Gort hung there in front of Daniel’s enraged face, his feet dangling a foot off the ground. His throat worked as Gort tried to draw air into his lungs. Daniel’s thin lips drew back from his teeth, his whiskey laden breath made Gort gag even more than the restricting collar of his coat.
Daniel whacked Gort hard across the face, his fingers leaving white stripes on Gort’s already pale face. Gort tried not to let the tears leave his eyes, but Daniel’s next blow knocked all his good intentions out the window. Gort lost count of the number times Uncle Daniel hit him in the face, his eyes refused to focus and his face felt numb from the hard slaps. Uncle Daniel threw him against the wall of the shed and then kneeled on Gort’s legs when he slid to the ground. Gort didn’t know how long Uncle Daniel beat on him, his body was one great pain and still Daniel continued to land blows on his head and his stomach and his back when Gort tried to curl up and protect his head.
“Set the law on me will you. Get some fancy lawyer to take away the money that’s rightfully mine and give it to that auld biddy Emily.” Uncle Daniel punctuated each accusation with another blow.
Gort finally just let himself slip into the comforting darkness where Uncle Daniel and the pain in his body couldn’t follow him. Safe in the encompassing darkness Gort reached up his searching hand and found his fingers entangled in the crystal strands of GogMagog’s mane.
“Thank the gods, you’re here Gog,” Gort’s voice trembled and he choked on his tears.
“I would have come sooner, but I was a long ways away,” Gog’s warm breath sent hope and strength coursing through Gort’s cold body.
“Come with me for awhile, leave what is for a time and travel with me to what was once,” GogMagog entreated Gort.
“Lead me to it,” Gort staggered to his feet and leaned on the warm crystalline shoulder of the great stallion. Without a backward glance Gort walked away from the pathetic heap of clothes and blood that Uncle Daniel was still beating on.
The farther Gort walked away from the dank little shed and Uncle Daniel’s rage the better he felt. The pain faded from his limbs and strength flowed outward from the warmth that grew in his chest. GogMagog, the great crystal stallion whose home was the caverns under the Glastonbury Tor, paced beside him. Rainbows of light flickered around the stallion and encompassed Gort in their radiance as well. Gort’s steps became firmer and steadier as a golden peace flowed through him. Gort felt his back straighten and a smile broke across his face when Gog curved his huge head back toward him and lipped his ear.
The darkness grew opaque and finally faded into a pearly grey, a diffuse nebulous light filled the sky above Gort. He tipped his head back and was startled to see the ghostly shape of gulls winging through the mist. The stallion stopped and shook the moisture from his sleek body, Gort laid his hand on the thick neck and then pulled his hand back quickly and held if in front of his eyes. Slowly, Gort waggled his fingers and looked in amazement as the large callused hand in front of him flexed its fingers. He turned and looked GogMagog in the eye and was further amazed that he could look him straight in the eye without looking up.
“What happened to me,” Gort’s voice sounded two tones deeper than he remembered.
“You are as you were once,” GogMagog said solemnly.
“Who am I supposed to be, though,” Gort fought down the panic rising in his throat.
“You are who you have always been,” Gog touched Gort gently with his muzzle.