Well, I was going to give you an excerpt from Book 2, but my characters had other plans! Everyone insisted on being introduced– it’s only fair, after all, since we’re talking about them.
This is a drawing of the River Goddess. She felt that the best way to introduce herself was to give you a bit of her first conversation with Alyssa:
One afternoon, hurrying home down the arroyo, Alyssa noticed
something strange, close to the ground near the right bank. It was near
sunset and she didn’t want to stay much longer in the arroyo but her
curiosity pulled her toward an oddly shaped root. She squatted down
to examine it better and noticed that it looked almost as if it had legs
growing out of the sand, and a long, twisted body. There were little
branches at the top of it that seemed to her like outstretched arms
and wild, flying hair. In fact, it looked exactly like a dancing woman.
Intrigued, she sat down crosslegged in front of the little figure to study
it. Perhaps this Thing could talk like the others.
“I wonder what you are? Could you be a little dancer who’s gotten
stuck here? Or maybe a fairy with magic powers? Did you grow this
way on purpose or did the water twist you around?”
The shadows deepened around her while Alyssa sat, captivated
by the silent little figure. The more she watched it, the more human
it seemed. She could detect a hint of tiny, well-rounded breasts, and
gracefully curved hips. She tilted her head to the side and saw that
the figure appeared to be dancing with complete abandon, although
it was rooted firmly in the sand. She gave it a sharp tug, but nothing
“You are awesome!” She smiled at the little figure. “But I gotta go
now. I’ll see you tomorrow. ‘Night!”
She jumped up and sprinted home in the twilight, arriving just in time for supper with Heart and Owl,
who were very relieved to see the young adventuress safe and sound.
Alyssa wasn’t much of a homebody, however. As soon as the sun
rose the next morning she was back down in the arroyo with a piece of
toast and an apple to visit her new acquaintance. She broke a little piece
of toast and bit off a piece of apple, and placed them on the ground in
front of the dancing figure. She knew they wouldn’t be eaten. It was a
gesture of friendship, nothing more.
“There. Heart’s making pancakes but I didn’t want to wait for them.
I wanted to see if you were still here, and you are! I’m Alyssa. Who are
She looked at the figure expectantly. It didn’t move. A little breeze
blew up, stirring a nearby tumbleweed and chasing a few leftover fall
leaves across the sand.
“You know, Things talk to me. Stones and trees and birds and
animals all tell me their stories, and I tell ‘em mine. We have fun
together! Would you like to talk to me too?”
The little figure hovered, motionless and silent. She tried again.
“It’s funny the water hasn’t washed you away. Much
bigger roots than you are tossed around in here every time it rains.”
Alyssa suddenly thought that the little figure might be washed away
by the rains after all, and she set about gathering a handful of stones of
different shapes and colors to make a kind of protecting wall around
it. She asked each stone first, of course, if it wanted to help. Most of
them said yes, and in a short time the little figure was surrounded by
a low, multicolored stone wall. She placed the pieces of toast and apple
on one of the topmost stones, noticing that a few ants had discovered
the food and were tugging at its edges, and stepped back to survey her
“Pretty good,” she nodded with satisfaction. “It looks kinda like one
of Heart’s altars, don’t you think?”
Suddenly the little figure seemed to move—a rather graceful, bowing movement, very slight. A whispering
voice drifted up, like the sigh of a wavelet rolling out to sea.
At last! Someone has come! I feared that I was forgotten forever. Thank
you, young Alyssa, for honoring me.
Alyssa jumped back in alarm. When other Things talked to her, it
wasn’t their voices that she heard, but their knowing that came into her
mind. This Thing was actually speaking to her with words.
“What are you? Did you really say something to me?!”
Again the voice drifted softly in the breeze.
Alyssa, don’t you recognize me? I am the River Goddess. I have been guardian of this river for ages
and ages. In the bad times, when the hot winds came and the rivers dried
up, I was stranded here, unable to move, in this riverbed that you call an
arroyo. It happened many, many years ago, long before you walked on this
Earth. But the legends foretold that some day far in the future, One Who
Knows would come to see and acknowledge me, and that this would signal
the beginning of the Time of Renewal. And now you are here, that time is
at hand. I rejoice, and I salute you!
Alyssa sank to her knees in amazement. She opened her mouth
once or twice but nothing came out. The River Goddess, observing her
discomfort, spoke soothingly.
Please, do not be afraid. You are not mad. I really do exist, and I really
am speaking to you. You have saved me, Alyssa, from destruction. One more
of those violent floods and I might indeed have been washed away, dashed
upon the rocks, and reduced to a pile of splinters. Because of your kind heart
and your sensitivity, I would like to reward you. What will you have?