I’ve received the cover design for the latest book in my Wolves of Vimar prequels.
This one tells us about Asphodel and how she became a priestess of Sylissa, goddess of life and healing.
Asphodel is a young, naive elf maid. She falls in love with a handsome elf and, when her parents suggest an arranged marriage with a man much her senior, the pair run away.
Of course, things go wrong. Her lover can’t find a job in the city where they find themselves. He gets in with the wrong crowd and becomes addicted to a drug made from powdered dragon scales.
When he tries to take her jewellery to buy more drugs, she refuses and he hits her. She then realises this will not work and she leaves him, catching a caravan heading for the land of Grosmer.
She has a strong sense of right and wrong, and a steely determination, and this gets her into trouble more than once. Can she achieve her dream of becoming a priestess and helping others, or will she be banished from the temple?
Here’s an extract to whet your appetite.
“Aspholessaria!” called the young elf’s mother, “Are you going out?”
“I’m meeting Syssillina, Mother. There’s a new place opened across the other side of Quantissarillishon. It’s called Allimissoro’s and we’ve heard it’s fantastic. We’re going to suss it out.”
“I do wish you’d refrain from using slang words, dear. So common. Don’t forget we’re related to the Elf Lord.”
“Only distantly, Mother,” Aspholessaria skipped out through the door to meet her friend. “I don’t expect he’ll hear about it so don’t worry.”
A few minutes later the two girls were running towards the new bar and dance hall especially opened for young folk. The youngsters had little to do in Quantissarillishon and some of them became a little unruly from time to time.
“My cousin, Gerralishirondo, went last night. He says it’s real cool,” Syssillina said as they trotted across the capital city of Rindissillaran, the land of the elves. “He says there were elves playing music, and everyone was up and dancing.”
“It sounds amazing.” Aspholessaria grinned at her friend. “Did he say how far it is?”
“Oh, Asphodel.” Syssillina used the elf’s diminutive name. “I told you it’s only a few trees over. Well, perhaps a bit more than that, but only about half a mile.”
The elves built their city of Quantissarillishon deep in the forest. Many who visited it for the first time did not know they had arrived. The elves had built some of their buildings into the trees themselves with knotholes as windows. Walkways stretched from tree to tree. To anyone not looking up it would seem there was nothing but forest.
The girls trotted along these walkways, passing residences and workshops, until they arrived at a building that stretched over the branches of several large oaks. Music and laughter came from out of the open doors. The girls stopped and looked at each other.
Asphodel took a breath. “Well, we’ve come, so we might as well go in.”
She matched her actions to her words and Syssillina followed.
Lanterns wreathed the room and gave a festive air to the surroundings. Seats surrounded small tables, most of which had young elves sitting and chattering. A dance floor occupied the centre of the room with a number of young folk dancing to the music.
The girls looked around. Syssillina noticed an empty table close to the band. They made their way to it and sat to claim the seats. Syssillina got them fruit juice from the bar and they sat sipping their drinks and listening to the music.
“Isn’t that Llinisharrovno over there?” Asphodel whispered. She named a young man who had been at school with them. “Who’s that with him? I’ve not seen him before.”
Syssillina looked to where Asphodel pointed. “Yes. I’ve not seen Llin for a long time. His friend’s hot, don’t you think?”
The girls started to giggle, but stopped quickly as Asphodel noticed the pair looking at them. The two young men smiled and walked toward them.
“Are they coming to us?” Asphodel looked at her drink.
“I don’t know. There’s a group of girls at the next table. I expect they’re going to them.”
But they weren’t. They came and stood in front of Asphodel and Syssillina.
“I’ve not seen you two since we left school,” Llinsharrovno said. “Where’ve you been hiding yourselves?”
“Don’t forget, you live at the opposite side of the city from us,” Syssillina said. “We’ve not been hiding. We don’t get over there very much.”
Llinsharrovno sat down on an empty seat. “This is my cousin, Vassinamorro. Vass, this is Aspholessaria, known as Asphodel, and Syssillina, known as Syssi.”
The other young man pulled a chair over and sat. His smile made Asphodel’s stomach turn over. He had blue eyes and blonde hair and was tall for an elf, being five feet ten. He had the build of one who looked after his body.
“Pleased to meet you. I’m new to Quantissarillishon. Llin has been showing me round. It’s a beautiful city, but it pales into insignificance next to the beauty of its girls.”
Both girls blushed and muttered their thanks for the compliment.
“Can I get you a drink?” Llin stood.
The girls accepted and as he walked away, Vass asked Asphodel if she would like to dance. She accepted and he escorted her to the dance floor, putting a guiding arm on the small of her back. Asphodel’s heart began to pound.
Vass danced as gracefully as a dragon in flight and Asphodel felt she had wings on her feet, he was so easy to dance with. When his hand touched hers, baby dragons began to dance in her stomach, and she thought she would melt into his blue eyes. Her black hair flew around her head as he twisted and turned her in the dance. He lifted her up and swung her around and she gasped in surprise, which made him laugh.
The dance ended and they returned to their seats.
Llin danced with Syssi, then with Asphodel as Vass danced with Syssi. Asphodel watched them as they danced, treading on Llin’s feet a few times, but he laughed.
“My cousin has that effect on women,” he whispered in her ear the fifth time she missed a beat and trod on his toes. “I wish I had his looks and charm.”
The girls danced with Vass and Llin all evening, the two young men taking turns to dance with both of them. It grew dark. Time stood still while they talked and danced.
The master of ceremonies announced the last dance. Vass handed Asphodel onto the dance floor one last time as the slow music began. He pulled her close as they shuffled around the floor. All too soon the music stopped and the young people prepared to depart.
They left the building together. The lights that had lit it up so brightly were going out one by one and the few lamps on the walkways gave only a little light.
“I don’t like the idea of you walking alone in the dark,” Vass said. “May we walk the two of you home?”
The girls agreed and the four young people wended their way through the treetop walkways to the girls’ homes.
“Will you be going to Alli’s again?” Vass asked as they stood outside Asphodel’s home. The venue had become known as Alli’s to all that went there.
The girls looked at each other. Asphodel had to restrain herself from replying too quickly. She would certainly go again if Vass were going to be there.
“What do you think, Syssi? Should we go again?” Asphodel asked.
“I think we should give it another go. I enjoyed myself tonight. The music was excellent and the drinks. They’ve done wonders with the decor too.”
Vass looked at both girls in turn. “Perhaps we’ll see you there another time.”
The two young men left the girls, walked a few paces and turned to wave.
Asphodel entered her home and crept up the stairs to her bedroom. She threw herself on her bed, smiling, then she turned on her stomach and groaned.
Does he like me? Does he like Syssi better than he likes me? Oh, I can’t tell who he likes better.
She thought of the way he looked into her grey eyes when they danced and her stomach turned again. She thought one minute he liked her best, then the next she thought of how he had looked at Syssi and decided he liked Syssi best. With her thoughts in turmoil, she fell asleep.
Asphodel spent the next few days in confusion. Her mother reprimanded her several times for forgetting little things. “Really, Aspholessaria. Anyone would think you were in love. What’s wrong with you?” Her father laughed. “Perhaps she is in love. She’s at that age.” Her mother turned to her husband. “She’s of House Royal. She can’t be allowed to fall in love. She will need to marry someone suitable.”
Am I in love?
She wandered into the city. She had an errand to do for her mother anyway, but she found her steps taking her on a detour past where Llin lived. As she passed his house, the two young men came out.
“Asphodel,” Vass called. “I’m glad we’ve seen you. Are you and Syssi going to Alli’s tonight? Llin and I are, and I’d very much like it if you were there too.”
“I don’t know. I’ve not seen Syssi for a couple of days. I’ll go and ask her when I’ve done the jobs Mother wants me to do.”
Syssi agreed to go to Alli’s that evening to meet the two young men. Asphodel was still in confusion. Vass had said he would like it if they were there, but did he mean her, Syssi or both of them?
Later that evening, it became apparent that Vass’s interest was in Asphodel. He danced with her all evening and hardly took his eyes from her when they were not dancing. That evening he walked her home without the accompaniment of Syssi and Llin, who walked home separately.
Halfway to Asphodel’s home, their hands touched. Asphodel’s stomach turned over again as Vass took her hand in his. They walked along in silence, each happy in the other’s company.
The world around them had vanished. There was only Vass in the world as far as Asphodel was concerned.
All too soon the walk ended and they stood outside Asphodel’s home. Vass put a finger under her chin, lifted her face and bent his head to kiss her. When his lips met hers, she thought she would faint with pleasure.
The kiss seemed to go on forever, but finished all too soon. Asphodel leaned against Vass’s chest and he held her close.
“You’re the most beautiful girl I’ve ever met. I wish we could stay like this for always.”
Asphodel sighed and her practical side came to the fore. “So do I, Vass, but my mother will be wondering where I am. I’m afraid I must go in.”
Vass bent his head once more and delivered a passionate kiss on Asphodel’s mouth. He stood and watched as she walked up the ramp leading to her home in the trees.
Asphodel and Syssi’s visits to Alli’s became more frequent over the next few months. She did not deliberately keep her relationship with Vass secret from her parents; she just never bothered to tell them. It didn’t seem important they should know.
She was engrossed in her growing relationship with Vass. That was all that seemed important to the girl. He was kind and attentive and always complimented her on how she looked.
Twice a week she and Sissi went to Alli’s and met the two young men. This went on for two months. They danced and talked amongst the lights and music of the venue.
One evening, as they stood on the balcony of Alli’s, Vass turned to Asphodel and kissed her. An owl hooted in the tree next to them and he smiled.
Turning to Asphodel he said, “We always seem to meet where there are others, Aspho. Let’s go somewhere we can be on our own, Just the two of us”
“I’d like that. Just the two of us.”
“Are you busy tomorrow? We could go for a walk. Perhaps out of the city.”
Asphodel smiled at him, her grey eyes dancing. “I’m not going anywhere tomorrow afternoon. Yes, let’s do that.”
The following afternoon, the sun shone and it was warm, being nearly midsummer. They sat outside the city next to the river that flowed through it. A tree had fallen long ago and its trunk lay across the clearing it had made.
They sat on the trunk, dangling their feet in the water to cool them. The river burbled along, ignoring everything except it’s own journey. Birds hopped from branch to branch, calling to each other. A pair of turtledoves sat on a tree close by preening each other.
“Look at them.” Vass pointed to the birds “They’re in love.”
The male flew up and called his coo-hoo-hoo-hooo before landing next to his mate and beginning their preening again.
“Like I love you, Aspho.” He leaned over and kissed her.
She closed her eyes and felt as if she were flying with the doves. Once more, time stood still.
They talked and kissed and kissed and talked until Asphodel decided she had better return home before it became dark.
The pair continued meeting other than at Alli’s and took frequent walks in the land outside the city. If her mother thought anything, she assumed her daughter was out with Sissi somewhere.
As soon as I know when the book will be released, I’ll let you know, but I’m quite excited about it.
Did you enjoy this extract? I would love to know. Tell me by writing in the comments box. And feel free to reblog if you wish.
I have an exclusive short story for you. It’s called The Haunted Table.
When Maria and Jack move into a 16th century house, they wish to furnish it with period furniture and so they buy a table from that century.
That night, Maria hears a strange crying sound. On investigation, she finds it is coming from the table.
Fearing it might be haunted, and that they’ve brought a ghost into their home, they turn to a medium, only to find it isn’t a ghost.
If not a ghost, then what? The truth is stranger than either of them could have imagined.
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