A Dwarf Work Song

Today is the fifth Tuesday in the month, so we have an extra blog. This time I’m posting a poem.The blog is short because I”m on holiday. I hope you enjoy it.


Deep, deep below the ground
Wielding spade and pick.
Dwarven miners found
Minerals lying thick.

Tin, iron copper too,
We dig the all day long.
The solid rocks we hew
With sturdy arms and strong.

Precious stones we find.
Opals, rubies, jet.
We leave non behind.
Everyone we get.

But don’t you delve too deep.
We don’t know what lies there.
All kind of dangers sleep
And fearsome things lie there.

Please comment on this poem in the comments section.


Interview with Basalt Strongarm



Me: Thank you for allowing this interview. I know you are a
busy man.

Basalt: Fine, but be quick about it as I have work to do. I
am working on a particularly difficult piece of metalwork for
the Duke and I want to get back to it.

Me: OK, I’ll try to be quick. Tell me how you came to be in
Grosmer please.

Basalt: Hmph! I should be working my own mine now, not
doing wrought ironwork for someone else!

Me: Please explain.

Basalt: My parents owned a fine mine in Ghraali. They had
just one son, called Schist, but always wanted another child,
they said. When I was born many years later, they were

Me: Where is Ghraali?

Basalt: It is the dwarven homeland at the southern end of the Western Mountains, just to the west of the Inner Sea. Fine ores and gems can be found there. It was once volcanic, but not any more. Not like the Mountains of Doom!

Here he shuddered as if he was remembering an unpleasant experience.

Me: Did the mine fail then?

Basalt: Not at all! It was all my brother and his wife.

Me: Please explain.

Basalt: Well, my brother was very caring towards me at first. He was nearly fully grown when I was born. He used to make wooden toys for me. He was a very good wood carver and he taught me how to carve too. Then he met HER.

Me: Her?

Basalt: His wife! She was called Opal. He met her one day in the town. She was visiting a relative or something. Oh, she was beautiful, of that there is no doubt, but she was hard and cold inside. She had ambition. Her ambition was to be rich.

Me: So how did that affect you?

Basalt. She poisoned Schist against me. She wanted him to have sole control of the mine, see. My parents were going to leave it to us jointly. After they were married, she came to work with us in our mine, of course. One day, there was an accident in the mine. Mother had taken me with her to the face. This was common practice with youngsters as both men and women work in the mines. I was playing with a small hammer a little distance away, tapping at a little rock when I heard a terrible rumbling and the rock face fell down covering mother.

Here he paused and sniffed. I waited for him to continue.

Basalt: I ran and tried to clear some of the rocks with my little hammer and bare hands. Others came to help, but when we finally pulled her out it was too late.

Me: I’m sorry, Basalt. It must have been dreadful for a small boy.

Basalt: Yes, it was.

Me: But you still had your father.

Basalt: Yes, for a little time. Then a similar thing happened again. This time it was my father who was killed. So here was I with only my brother and his wife to look after me.

Me: Did she show you any animosity at that time?

Basalt. No, not really. she was cold, did all that she had to for me, but no more. Schist tried to do as much as he could at first, but gradually he froze towards me too. I swear she poisoned his mind with false tales. I know she did tell him some things against me.

Me: But you were now part owner of the mine.

Basalt: Yes, but still a minor so had no say. Schist did all the decision making and day to day running.

Me: What happened when you came of age?

Basalt: That was when the worst started. There were a few falls in the mine and Opal accused me of causing them. Firstly she said it was carelessness, then she began to imply that it was sabotage–that I wanted the mine for myself and was trying to kill her and Schist. Eventually a fall, quite natural this one, just missed Schist. She took her opportunity and somehow managed to convince the elders of the town that I had engineered it. She even got some of the workers to testify that they had seen me interfering with the workface. They were believed and I was told that I could face the death penalty or exile. I chose to leave and that is how I came to be in Grosmer.
I am beginning to think that Opal also had something to do with the death of my parents, but I have no proof, and after all these years I cannot possibly prove anything.

Me: Thank you for your time, Basalt.

Basalt: Thank you. Now I must go to finish that job.

Jovinda and Noni Part 5 The Birth of Carthinal



Jovinda and Noni moved into the house Kendo had given them two weeks later. Noni’s father was generous enough to pay for some of the furniture, and although the house was not filled with furniture, they had enough.

The house was two streets away from Jovinda’s old home. It was a three storey house with a small garden and four bedrooms. The ground floor comprised of a living room, dining room and a kitchen. The hall ran the length of the house with stairs mounting up the left hand side.

At the front was a living room with a bay window and behind it was the dining room. The hallway turned right to a door leading into the garden. The kitchen was right at the back.
On the first floor, there were two bedrooms and a bathroom, more stairs up to the second floor and two more bedrooms.

Jovinda declared that she must have a nurse for the coming baby as befitted her station as the wife of a diplomat and daughter of the leader of the guilds and Noni indulged her. They spent many hours setting up the nursery and nurse’s room.

Three weeks before the baby was due, Noni and Jovinda interviewed several candidates for the job of nurse and appointed a woman in her early forties. Her name was Blendin and she came with excellent references. They decided she should move in right away so she was settled by the time the baby arrived.

The early summer had been hot. The baby was due on the fifth day of Sylissdar. That day came and went, then five more. Jovinda waddled into their living room wiping the sweat from her brow and flopped down into a chair. She rang a bell and a maid arrived.

‘Please may I have some water,’ Jovinda asked the maid, who left to do her mistress’s bidding.

Jovinda and Noni were not amongst the rich of Bluehaven, he being a junior diplomat, but they were well enough off to be able to afford a maid and cook. Jovinda had been most grateful for the help these servants gave her as her confinement approached. How she would be glad when she had this baby. It was so uncomfortable in the hot weather.
The maid returned with a jug of water and a glass. She poured a glass and handed it to Jovinda. Suddenly, a pain struck Jovinda. She gasped.

‘Please, Grella, go and get Blendin, then run to the Even Embassy and find Noni. I think the baby’s coming.’

The girl ran as fast as she could, and Blendin arrived almost immediately.

Jovinda had had no more pains and she wondered if it had been indigestion and not the baby, but then she was wracked with another.

‘It’s the baby coming, alright,’ said Blendin, nodding her head. ‘The pains aren’t too close together yet, so I think there’ll be some time before we need to send for the midwife. Let’s get you upstairs and have things ready for when we send for her.’

In this instance she was wrong, though. Shortly after arriving in the bedroom, Jovinda’s waters broke. Then the pains came thick and fast. No sooner had one pain faded away than another arrived. Jovinda began to cry.

‘Make it stop. Please, Bramara, make it stop.’

Blendin wiped the girl’s sweating brow with a cloth dipped in cool water.

‘There, there,’ she said. ‘It’ll stop as soon as the baby arrives. It shouldn’t be too long now.’

‘To the seventh hell with the baby,’ retorted Jovinda. ‘The little bastard is tearing me apart.’

She began to swear profusely and to say she cared nothing for the child struggling to be born. If her father and mother had heard those words coming from their well-brought-up daughter they would have wondered where she learned them.

‘I don’t care if there’s no baby, but please make this pain stop.’

Then she felt her muscles contract involuntarily and she began to push.

‘Come on,’ Blendin encouraged her. ‘Push hard. Oh, I can see the baby’s head.’

Jovinda gave one last enormous push and the head emerged quickly followed by the rest of the baby, all wet and bloody.’

Blendin held the child up so Jovinda could see.

‘A little boy,’ she exclaimed, ‘and he’s got your auburn hair.’ The baby let out a tremendous wail at being thrust from his nice safe place into the world. ‘And a good strong pair of lungs, too,’ she added.

Just at that moment, the door opened and Noni and the midwife arrived together.

Noni rushed over to his wife and looked at Blendin.

‘Is everything alright?’ he asked. ‘He came very quickly. Is Jo alright? Is the baby alright?’

Jovinda laughed through the tiredness that was now overcoming her.

The midwife took over the cutting of the cord and the inspection of the afterbirth while Blendin cleaned the baby and passed him to his mother, now grinning. Then the midwife turned to Noni.

‘Your wife, it seems, had an easy birth,’ Jovinda grimaced at this. It had seemed very hard to her. The midwife was continuing. ‘It’s lucky your nurse has some experience in delivering babies, but I think your wife would have been fine even on her own. It’s woman like her who ought to have all the babies.’

Jovinda yawned, then said ‘Oh no. You say it was easy, but to me it wasn’t.’

‘Trust me, girl,’ replied the midwife, ‘There are women who are in labour for days, and then the baby has to be pulled out, or even cut out.’

Jovinda shuddered at this thought, then as Blendin passed the little boy to her, she held him out to his father.

‘See, Noni,’ she said. ‘See what we’ve made. A lovely little boy. What shall we call him?’

‘I think Carthinal is a good name, what do you think?’

‘Carthinal,’ she felt the name on her tongue. ‘Yes an excellent name.’

She looked into the little boy’s eyes, all pain forgotten, and said, ‘Welcome to the world, Carthinal.’

4 More Pairs of Commonly Confused Words

Even More Commonly Confused Words

I was reading the BT news the other day. Their journalists ought to read this blog I think because they keep making errors. The first one here I noticed a couple of days ago.

The article headline said something like ‘A sneak peak at…’
Peak, of course is the top of a mountain, while Peek is a quick glimpse of something. Perhaps there was a mountain hiding behind another, or a very sly one that was hiding, but I doubt it.

To, Too and Two.
This frequently appears in comments by people, and also in, I’m afraid to say, posts by writers.
To indicates movement towards as in ‘He gave the parcel to me.’
Too is an excess of something. ‘I had eaten too much and so I felt ill.’
I don’t often see Two misused. It is, of course the number. ‘Two buses passed me before the one I wanted arrived.’

This can be a tricky one.
Breath is a noun and is what you take.
‘The doctor told me to take a deep breath.’
Breathe is a verb and is what you do.
‘The room seemed airless and I was finding it hard to breathe.’

Baring (bare)/Bearing(bear)
Another one from BT news.
Baring is the act of making bare, or naked. It is also used when revealing truths.
‘Baring all, the spy held nothing back in his interrogation.’
‘She removed her clothes, baring all.’
Bearing is carrying. (or of course, a large mammal living in the northern regions of the planet.)
‘The messenger arrived bearing the news of the king’s death.’

Then there is the problem of the past tense of these verbs. The past tense of Bear is Bore.
‘She bore the news that she had not got the job with equinamity.’
BUT, the past tense of Bare is Bared.
‘During the investigation, the criminal bared all.’

Re-launch of The Wolf Pack



The Wolf Pack has now gone live on Amazon for Kindle, complete with new cover and some alterations to the story. It will be on special offer from June 11th to 17th. £0.99 or $0.99.

This is very exciting. Now for The Never Dying Man and then Part 3, Wolf Moon, which hasn’t been published yet at all.

Here is a bit about the story

The Wolf Pack

To end his apprenticeship and be admitted to the ranks of the mages is all that Carthinal wants and so he is excited to travel from Bluehaven to Hambara, where the tests will take place. He did not expect to end up travelling far beyond Hambara on a quest to find the long lost sword of the legendary King Sauvern.

Along with three strangers that he met on his journey, the beautiful but headstrong elven cleric, Asphodel, Fero, a dark foreigner from lands far to the south, known as the Black Ranger and a fearless dwarf, Basalt, Carthinal reluctantly sets out on this seemingly impossible quest.

Followed by Randa, the snooty aristocratic daughter of the Duke of Hambara and a very young runaway thief, known as Thad, Carthinal has to decide whether to send them back or allow them to continue on this dangerous quest. There will certainly be fireworks as Randa will try to take over the leadership of the group.

Faced with floods, wolf attacks and near death in the mountains, Carthinal and his friends will have to accept help from the least likely sources and face their innermost fears.

But this is more than a simple adventure. The fate of a nation hangs in the balance.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments section.

The Wolf Pack Interlude


Yssa woke still feeling tired. She must try to relax a bit more. She had been working far too hard on those books Carthinal and Basalt had found. They were very interesting though. She found it hard to leave each evening. Yesterday, Rollo had insisted she eat dinner with him. “For old time’s sake.” he had said.

She had agreed to do so. She and Rollo had been lovers once. He had been lonely after the death of his wife. She knew Randa did not remember her, the child had only been three or four years old at the time she and Rollo had been seeing each other, and she had not seen that much of her as the child spent a lot of the time in her nursery.
In the early days after his beloved wife’s death, Rollo had not wanted to look at the child he blamed for this event. He had provided her with all the creature comforts she needed with the best nurses that money could buy, but he rarely went near the nursery to see his daughter. It had been Yssa who had told him that a child needed love as well as food, shelter and warmth.

She persuaded Rollo to visit his daughter more often. Fairly soon, Rollo discovered his love for the child, and, to assuage his guilt at neglecting her in her earliest years, he lavished her with not only love, but attention and showered her with gifts, giving in to her every whim. Thus Randa had grown into a beautiful, but spoiled child who had become a beautiful, but wilful and snobbish young lady.
The door opened and admitted Emmienne. She and Tomac had arrived about three sixdays ago from Bluehaven. They were Mabryl’s other apprentices that she had promised Carthinal she would take under her wing. They were proving to be very good. The girl, Emmienne, had taken to bringing her tea each morning along with hot water for her to wash, and Tomac was excellent at lighting fires. She could hear him busying himself doing that job at the moment. She smiled at Emmienne.
‘Thank you.’ she said. ‘Put the tea there. I’ll be up in a minute.’
The girl did as Yssa bade her and then left. She was a plain girl, Yssa thought—about  seventeen, with a slender figure and chestnut hair. Tomac was younger. He was fourteen, and had a shock of jet-black hair, which he found difficult to keep tidy. He tried to keep it tied back, but it kept escaping its confinement. She smiled. She liked her new apprentices very much, and if she were honest, she liked the attention they gave her too.
After drinking her tea, Yssa rose. As she did so, a feeling of nausea and giddiness overtook her. It had happened once or twice recently. She hoped it was not some illness or other. She did not want to lose time on her translations of the books. She dressed and the moment passed.
Later in the day as she gave some instructions to her apprentices. She wanted them to try to learn a simple spell when Emmienne asked about Carthinal.
‘When did he leave, Yssa?’ she asked.
Yssa looked at her. She wondered if the girl had a crush on the half-elf. She would not blame her if she had. She herself had fallen under his spell and she hardly an impressionable young girl.
‘He and his companions left on the twenty second of Khaldar. That will be five and a half sixdays.’
Something began to dawn on her when she spoke of that time. In her mind she did some quick calculations. She realised that she had not had her monthly bleeding since before that date. She had been working so hard on the books that she had not realised. What with the translations and the new apprentices to settle in she had been so busy. Now she realised what her nausea and giddiness meant. She was pregnant. She had little doubt. She was always regular as clockwork, and now, she calculated she had misssed two bleedings. She paled. What should she do?
Yssa finished her lesson with the two apprentices and then said, ‘You two have worked hard since you came to me. You deserve a break. Take this and go and have a good time in Hambara.’
She threw a bag of coins towards them. Tomac caught it deftly, and thanking her profusely, the pair rushed from the room, as anxious to be gone as Yssa was for them to leave.
Once alone, she contemplated her position. She did not want a child. She had never felt maternal in any way, but having an abortion seemed quite out of the question. Elves have a reverence for all life, even that of the unborn and Yssa was no exception in this respect. She was going to have a child, and she could not turn back. How had she been so careless? Her work, even before the finding of the hidden books had absorbed her so much that she had forgotten to take the herbs to prevent pregnancy.
As she thought about it she thought she should go away, back to Quantissarillishon, the elven capital, and to find refuge with her parents. Her mother would be scandalised at first, of course, but she would soon come round when she thought of a grandchild. She could leave the child there, to be cared for by her parents, and Carthinal need never know. She did not want him to feel he had any obligation to her or the child. The mistake had been hers and hers alone.

As the day wore on, she began to see that it was not that simple. She could not just go running off home like a little girl with a grazed knee. She had obligations here. She had taken on two apprentices, and she did not want to let them down after they had lost Mabryl in such tragic circumstances.

She considered the translation. No one could do it like she could, and the importance to magic could not be exaggerated. No, she must stay here. She still need not tell Carthinal though. He would probably be back before her pregnancy became obvious, and then he would go back to Bluehaven where he probably had family and friends.She suddenly realised how little she knew about this charismatic half-elf who had captured her heart in spite of herself; she, who thought herself so worldly wise.
During the next few days, she seemed distracted. Rollo noticed and she confessed her pregnancy to him.
Then she asked him, ‘Rollo, if someone were going to have your child and did not tell you, how would you feel if you later found out?’
‘You are considering not telling the father I take it?’ the Duke replied.
Yssa nodded.
‘I won’t ask who it is,’ he continued, ‘but if it were me, and I found out later, I would be very hurt and maybe angry too.’
‘Yes, I thought you’d say that,’ sighed Yssa. He had not solved her problem and she continued to think hard.