Authors: Diane Duane
New Millennium Edition
A Wizard Abroad
A division of
The Owl Springs Partnership
Republic of Ireland
A Wizard Abroad
Errantry Press New Millennium Ebook edition
Original edition copyright
© 1993, Diane Duane,
New Millennium edition © 2013, Diane Duane
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be mailed to the following address:
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Cover photography by
"Fragarach" forged for Peter Morwood
by Fulvio del Tin of
Del Tin Armiche,
Transworld / Corgi (UK) paperback first edition, 1993
SF Book Club (US) hardcover first edition, 1993
Harcourt Trade Publisher small format hardcover, 1996
Harcourt Trade Publishers mass-market paperback, 1997
Harcourt Trade Publishers digest edition paperback, 2004
Errantry Press international ebook edition, 2011
Errantry Press New Millennium ebook edition, 2013
This 2013 New Millennium Edition ebook is based on the 2011 Errantry Press International ebook edition of
A Wizard Abroad,
and has been extensively edited to bring it into line with the new series timeline established in the NME of
So You Want to Be a Wizard.
Many thanks again to those who helped proofread
A Wizard Abroad
for its previous ebook edition:
Alison Bailey Beard
Geography in Ireland is an equivocal thing, and perhaps meant to be so. The more solid the borderline, the more dangerous the land's own response to it; the vaguer the boundary, the kindlier. This is best seen in the behavior of the borders between what we consider our own reality, and the other less familiar realities that shoulder up against it. Such boundaries are never very solid in Ireland, and never more dangerous than when one tries to define them, to cross over. Twilight is always safer there than full day, or full night.
This being the case, I have taken considerable liberties with locations and “established” boundaries, including those between counties and towns. County Wicklow is real enough, but there are a lot of things in the Wicklow in this book that are not presently located in the “real” county—and my version of Bray is not meant to represent the real one. The description of the townlands around Ballyvolan Farm and the neighborhood of Kilquade is more or less real, though the two are actually some miles apart. And Sugarloaf Mountain looks like parts of its description...occasionally.
More specifically, though, Castle Matrix exists: possibly more concretely than anything else in the book. But it has been moved from its actual present location. Or perhaps one can more rightly say that Matrix has stayed where it is, where it always is, but Ireland has shifted around it. Stranger things have happened. In any case, let the inquisitive reader beware...and leave the maps at home.
I am the God who fashioneth Fire for a head.
Who is the troop, who is the God who fashioneth edges?
(Lebor Gabála Érenn, tr. Macalister)
Three signs of the Return:
the stranger in the door;
the friendless wizard;
the unmitigated Sun.
Three signs of the Monomachy:
a smith without a forge;
a saint without a cell;
a day without a night.
(Book of Night with Moon, triads 113, 598)
Mid-July - early August, 2009
The first hint Nita had of what was about to happen came when she got back home after a long afternoon’s wizardry with Kit. They’d been working for three days to attempt to resolve a territorial dispute between two groves of trees… which is a whole lot tougher than it sounds. It’s not easy to argue with a tree, let alone a crowd of them. No amount of hugging will get a tree to stop strangling another one with its roots, especially when it feels its innate right to expand its territory is being disrespected. But the two groups were now well along toward what appeared to be a negotiated settlement, and Nita was bushed.
She wandered into the kitchen to find her mother cooking. Nita’s Mom cooked a lot as a hobby, but she also cooked as therapy, and Nita immediately started worrying when she noticed that while she was out her mother had embarked on some extremely complicated project that seemingly required three soufflé dishes and the use of every appliance in the kitchen at once, and had spilled out onto the dining room table as well. She decided to get out fast, before she was asked to wash something. “Hi, Mom,” she said, edging hurriedly toward the door into the rest of the house.
“What’s the rush?” said her mother. “Don’t you want to see what I’m doing?”
“Um,” said Nita, as she wanted no such thing but was unwilling to say so. “What are you doing?”
“I’ve been thinking,” said her mother.
Nita thought, and started to get seriously worried. Her mother was at her most dangerous when she
that she was thinking; over the course of the last year, such sudden fits of thought had rarely meant anything but trouble for Nita. “About what?”
“Sit down, honey. Don’t look as if you’re going to go flying out the door any minute. I need to talk to you.”
Oh no. Here comes something I know I’m not going to hear!
But there was really no escape. With a sigh Nita went into the dining room, sat down and started playing with one of the wooden spoons which, among many other utensils, was littering the table.
“Honey,” her mother said, “this wizardry—”
“It’s going pretty well with the trees, Mom,” Nita said, desperate to guide her mother onto some more positive subject. Her present tone didn’t sound positive at all.
“No, I don’t mean that, honey. Talking to trees—that’s all right, that doesn’t bother me.” Nita rolled her eyes while her mom was still around the corner in the kitchen.
Boy, does she
know what constitutes tough wizardry yet…!
“But the kind of things you’ve been doing lately, you and Kit…”
Oh no, here we go: the shoe drops on last month’s work, finally.
“Mom, we haven’t gotten in trouble, not really.”
After all, Tom
no one was going to hold the Caribbean thing against us. Or the Arctic one. And the Vesta business, Carl said
“As new wizards go we’ve been doing pretty well. This early in our practice—”
“That being code for ‘When you’re as young as you two are,’” her mother said. She did something noisy with the blender for a moment and then said, “Which is the part that really bothers me. Hon, don’t you think it would be a good idea if you just let all this—have a rest? You’ve been at it like mad, the two of you. Even over last Christmas, you seemed to be running around all the time. And then the spring, and your finals, you didn’t do as well as you thought you were going to. And you came home from that thing with
.” Nita covered her eyes for a moment.
It was a hundred and fifty
on Vesta, what’s a chilblain or so among friends?
“Don’t you think it’s time you took a break, just for a month or so?”
Nita looked up at her mother without understanding at all. “How do you mean ‘a break?’”
Her mother got busy with the food processor again, changing the plastic blade for the steel one. “Well, your dad and I have been talking. You and Kit have been seeing so much of each other in connection with the wizard business. At first we didn’t want to say anything. Plainly the two of you have fun together, you’re a lot happier than you used to be… But still.” She paused as if hunting for words. “We’re thinking that it might be a good idea if you two sort of… didn’t see each other for a little while.”
Nita’s eyes went wide.
“No, hear me out. I understand you’re good friends, I know there’s nothing… physical going on between you! So put that out of your mind. We’re very glad each of you has such a good friend. That’s not a concern. What
a concern is that you two are spending a whole lot of time on this magic stuff, at the expense of everything else….”
‘This magic stuff… !!’
Does she even
This was a theme that Nita hoped she’d heard the last of months ago: that wizardry was some kind of fad or hobby, something you’d eventually get over, like enjoying online gaming or reading comics.
Nita opened her mouth, but her mom was still talking. “…that’s all you do! You go out in the morning, you come back wiped out, you barely have the energy to speak to us sometimes… What about your childhood?”
What about it?” Nita said, now becoming actively annoyed. Up until last year, her experience of her childhood was that it swung unpredictably but too routinely between painful and boring. Only recently had it improved. And while wizardry might occasionally be painful, at least it wasn’t ever dull. “Mom—you don’t understand. This isn’t something you can just turn off. You take the Wizard’s Oath for
“I know,” Nita’s mother said. “That’s what worries me. You’re a little young to be making up your mind about what you want to do with the rest of your life.”
At that Nita’s eyes went wide, and she burst out laughing. “Wait, sorry, are you amnesic? You’re the one who’s been sitting through all the sessions with the guidance counselor at school! I’m not even fifteen yet, and already the word ‘college’ falls out of everybody’s mouth about once every five minutes!”
“Now, Nita, that’s not the same. You have to think seriously about that stage of education now. It’s not the same as—”
the same as! They want me to make career decisions, now, about what I’m going to do for, I don’t know, ten years or if I’m really lucky ‘in this job market’—” — it was so hard not to make fun of her guidance counselor’s favorite phrase, and in his Boston accent— “wow, maybe even
years, after I get out of college! I’m not even sure what I want to do yet. Except be a wizard! But the one thing I
I want, you
want me making decisions about? Not getting it, Mom!”
“Oh, honey!” her mom said in some distress, and dropped a spoon on the kitchen counter, and came into the dining room, wiping the spoon off on a paper towel. , “Why do you have to make this harder than it— Never mind. Look.” Her mom took a breath. “Your Dad and I think it’d be a good idea if you went to visit your Aunt Annie in Ireland for a month or so. Until school starts again.”
The breath went right out of Nita in shock. The Labor Day weekend was six weeks away: school started right after.
—wait, what about my summer vacation—what about—?!
“Well, yes. She’s been inviting us over there for a while now. We can’t go with you, of course—we’ve had our vacation for this year, and Dad has to be at work of course, he can’t afford the overtime for staff to keep the shop open while he’s away. But you could certainly go. School doesn’t start until September ninth. That would give you a good month and a half.”