I apologise for no post last week, but I’ve been away on holiday for the last week, without internet access! Shock, horror!
Anyway, when I got back to civilisation, I found that my latest book has been released in my absence. I knew it was close, but not that close.
This one is another of the fantasy series, The Wolves of Vimar prequels. I’ve already written the story of Carthinal’s parents, Jovinda and Noli, and Carthinal himself, The Making of a Mage. This one tells the story of Aspholessaria, known as Asphodel, and the turbulent affairs that led to her becoming a priestess of Sylissa goddess of life and healing.
Here’s the blurb.
Escaping an arranged marriage, young elf Asphodel flees her homeland with her lover, Vass.
They find a home in the capital of Erian, but their idyllic life soon comes crashing down when Vass gets in with the wrong crowd.
Can they resolve their problems, and can Asphodel find her dreams of helping others and living a life of peace and harmony?
And a brief taster.
This is where Asphodel arrives in the Grosmerian city of Bluehaven for the first time, along with a priestess she met on the way.
Asphodel and Trinelli sat alongside the driver as the caravan approached Bluehaven.
Asphodel sniffed. “There’s a smell in the air. It’s not unpleasant, though, just different from anything I’ve smelled before.”
Trinelli smiled at the girl. “That’ll be the sea. Bluehaven lies on the Inner Sea, almost directly opposite Holy Isle and Aspirilla, the capital of Grosmer. It’s the biggest of the three seas and the one furthest away from the ocean.”
Asphodel could see the white houses of the city in the distance. They gleamed in the summer sunshine as they tumbled down the hill to the sea. From this elevation, Asphodel could see the harbour. There were two large ships there, and a number of smaller ones.
Surrounding the harbour, the houses were smaller and not as white. They huddled together as if for shelter from the waves of the sea.
Soon the caravan approached the walls and stopped at the gate, along with other wagons waiting to enter. Asphodel looked at the chaos. Something was stopping them from moving forward. Straining her eyes, she saw a large wagon stuck in the gateway. People rushed around shouting.
“He’ll have to come back,” someone shouted.
“No, if we push we can get him through.”
A third voice said, “Stupid of him not to think of the width of the gate. He’s been here before.”
People milled around, no one knowing what to do. Six men got behind the stuck wagon and pushed. Nothing moved.
Trinelli sighed. “Looks like we’ll be here for a while.”
As she said this, a cheer sounded from the gate and the wagon popped through like a cork out of a bottle.
After a further half-hour’s wait, their turn came and a guard inspected all the wagons to make sure they were not carrying any contraband.
He poked and prodded at everything inside, then asked them to get down. “Open your packs, please.”
After rifling through everything, and creasing up their spare clothes, he waved them through. The driver clucked to the horses and they rolled on through the gate. Asphodel looked up as they passed under the arch. It looked solid at first glance, but she noticed a few of the stones had begun to come loose. The walls were in not much better state. It would not take much to make them collapse.
She asked Trinelli about it.
The priestess shrugged. “Walls aren’t needed nowadays. There are no wars. The old days, when city fought city, have long passed.”
Asphodel gazed around. The smell of the sea was stronger here in the city. She breathed deeply. It smelled of freedom and adventure. Seabirds wheeled above them, crying their raucous calls to one another.
“I wonder what they’re saying,” she said to Trinelli. “They have lots of different calls. They must all mean something.”
Trinelli shrugged. “I’ve never given it much thought. They’re just birds that are always here, making a noise. They can be annoying first thing in the morning when you want to sleep.”
“But they’re so beautiful. Look how white they are against the blue sky.”
The birds soared above them as the wagons began to descend the hill into the city.
Asphodel thought this city more beautiful than Frelli. As their wagon trundled on, they passed buildings of white stone that seemed to glow in the sunlight. There was a park with trees, and Asphodel determined she would go there as soon as she could. There had been no trees in Frelli.
They arrived at the caravanserai, which was close to the harbour. There were seven wagons in their caravan. Four of them carried goods, and only three had passengers.
As they descended from the seat on the wagon and retrieved their things from the back, Trinelli turned to Asphodel. “Where are you going to stay? Have you any idea?”
Asphodel’s face fell. “No. And I’ve only my ring. I’ll need to sell it after all, in spite of your kindness.”
Trinelli shook her head. “No! I’ll not let you sell something that means so much to you.”
“I won’t take anything more from you. Thank you for everything you’ve done for me, but I’m on my own now. We’re here, and I’m safe from Vass. I’ll manage.”
“You don’t need to take anything from me. Come with me to the temple. See how we live and if you’d like to join us as a lay healer.” She smiled. “I can understand if being a priestess might not be what you want.”
The pair walked the short distance from the caravanserai to the Temple of Sylissa. Here the temples were scattered around the city. Trinelli told her that some cities had a temple district where the temples of all the gods clustered together.
The temple of Sylissa stood much taller than the other buildings around it and Asphodel could easily see its dome over the roofs. They crossed a busy market square, with bustling crowds shopping at the many stalls. Shopkeepers and stallholders cried their wares to the passers-by, but Trinelli did not stop and so Asphodel had to content herself with brief glimpses of the wares.
Being on the sea, Bluehaven had things for sale that Asphodel had never seen before. What were those small, blue fruits? A large leafy vegetable caught her eye, but it was red, not green.
One trader called out “Dragon sausages. Get your dragon sausages. Real dragon meat from the dragons in the Mountains of Doom.”
I wonder if they’re really dragon meat? I didn’t know you could eat them. I thought they would be more likely to eat you
Asphodel drew her cloak closer to herself and kept glancing from side to side. So many people.
“Keep close and hold on your ring,” Trinelli whispered to her. “There are pickpockets here.”
Asphodel looked around. Most people appeared prosperous, but every so often, a ragged child appeared. She thought she saw a handsome, auburn-haired youth take something from a girl of similar age and then walk casually away. Were these the pickpockets? She gripped her ring as tightly as she could.
Trinelli led her along a broad street leading up the hill from the market. The round temple of Sylissa stood tall in a square with a fountain in the centre. Shops surrounded the other three sides and people wandered in and out, stopping to chat with people they knew.
If you would like to read more of Asphodel and why she was in Bluehaven, you can read all about it in Dreams of an Elf Maid, available from Amazon. Simply click on the book title to go to Amazon where you are.
I would love to hear your thoughts. Did you enjoy that brief extract? Perhaps you wondered why Asphodel left Vass, the love of her life. I’m not going to tell you, of course. You’ll have to read the book to find out.
Please leave your thoughts in the comments box.
If you would like to know more about me, and get an exclusive short story, then click on the link below. This will sign you up to my newsletter. I only send one each quarter, so you won’t be bombarded with emails.
If you sign up, you can unsubscribe at any time, but the exclusive story will be yours to keep. You will be unable to get it anywhere else.