Category Archives: fantasy

An Interview with Davrael. The Wolf Pack.

newcoverwolfpack

I have managed to get Davrael to agree to do an interview. This was a difficult task as he is a very private person, but eventually my power of persuasion triumphed. I was a bit afraid when Imet him. He is an imposing man, and the hawk tattoo on his face, wings over his eyebrows, head and beak down his nose and talons on his cheeks was very intimidating. Here is what he said:

wild_horse_marsh_pony_assateague_island

Me: Good afternoon, Davrael. Thank you for agreeing to this interview. I know you are not very keen on publicity.

Davrael: No. I not speak your language too good. It is difficult for me.

Me: I will try to make it as easy as I can for you. Please tell me something of the life of the Horselords.

Davrael: We, as you know, live for horses. Our horses are best on whole of Vimar. We respect them not just use them.

Me: What do you mean by that?

Davrael: We never put them to do things unnatural. We do not enslave them with saddles or bits to make it easier for us. We never beat them, but talk to them and are gentle.

Me: But don’t you use them for food?

Davrael: Yes, but we apologise to horse. He allow us to eat him. We thank Grillon for horse too and we grieve for him when he die. If we not eat horse sometimes, we not survive. If we lost in dry places, horse allow us to drink his blood so we do not thirst. Mares allow us to drink milk too even though it is for foals.

Me: How many horses do your tribe own?

Davrael: We not own horses. They are own masters. We follow when they move to different grazing grounds.

Me: But the horses that you ride;  surely you can’t say they are their own masters?

Davrael: Yes. They allow us to ride and use them, but they not belong to us. To answer your first question, there are 300 horses that allow my tribe to be with them.

Me: That is a lot of horses.

Davrael: Yes. Swooping Hawk tribe very rich. Look after horses well so horses breed well.

Me: Tell me about your family then.

Davrael: I my father’s heir. I second son, but it not auto…automatic…is that the word? for eldest to inherit. My father think that I would be better to see after horses than my brother. I have 2 sisters too. They younger than me. Probably married by now. I not hear since I leave The Plains.

Me: Your father is chief of the Swooping Hawks I understand.

Davrael: Yes. He great chief. We always win fights with other tribes. He good at tactics.

Me: Why do you war with other tribes?

Davrael: Over land–territory, over stealing horses, over stealing women; things like that.

Me: Would you have become chief after your father if you had not left?

Davrael: Perhaps, perhaps not. It depend on other men in tribe. Elders. They vote, but usually it is heir of last chief. Only if they think he not fit will they vote for another. Usually no one challenges. Sometimes, if elders not agree, contestants must fight and winner is chief.

Me: Is it not a hard life, wandering The Plains.

Davrael smiled: Before I came to Grosmer. I not think so. I used to it, and love the horses. Now I get soft with easy living. No need to look for place to camp near water for animals and people, soft beds, not hard mats on floor, stone walls that keep out cold and heat, not hide tents that are cold in winter and hot in summer.

Me: But when you were on your quests with Carthinal and the others. That must have been a bit like your life on The Plains.

Davrael: Yes, but that before we settle to soft life. We only just come over the Barrier–The Western Mountains, you call them.

Me: We?

Davrael: Me and Kimi. We run away because our parents not wish us to marry.

Me: Why was  that?

Davrael: I am son of Chief of Swooping Hawks. Kimi is daughter of a nobody. She also is daughter of settlers. Nomads think settlers no good. Settlers think nomads no good. So we run away.

Me: Is that why you ended up in Grosmer?

Davrael: Yes. We first come to big city, Eribore. I not seen anything as big. Walls all round of stone. We think we not stay there. Too near home, so we go to Hambara. It even bigger city. Kimi find inn and there we meet Carthinal, Basalt, Fero and Asphodel. They kind to us and take us on adventure. Other folk kind too. Duke Rollo give us work after we return. We  think of Grosmer as our land now.

Me: You would not go back to The Plains?

Davrael: No. We have no home there now. Our families have disowned us. Our home and country is Grosmer.

Me: Thank you very much for your time.

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.

DWARF WORK SONG

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

newcoverwolfpack

 

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
delighted.

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.

Re-launch of The Wolf Pack

newcoverwolfpack

 

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.

An Interview with Asphodel

094Fungi

 

Me: Good morning and thank you for agreeing to this
interview.

Asphodel: Good morning. I am pleased to help you in your
work. It must be difficult getting people to talk. What is it you
want to know?

Me: Tell me a bit about life in Rindissillarshan, please. I am sure
my readers would like to know about how the elves live.

Asphodel: The capital of Rindissillarshan is Quantissarrillishon.
It is a beautiful city. When we went there, the Wolves and I,
they thought that we weren’t there yet. It is built in the trees.
I mean literally built in the trees. The trees themselves are
opened up into homes. We take great care not to damage
them so they cannot live, but many are hollow anyway.

Me: So you live inside the trees?

Asphodel: Yes. Many of us do. Others build houses in the
branches. they are so built that they are almost invisible to
anyone on the ground if they don’t know what they are
looking for. that was the case with the others, and they were
astonished when they saw the homes, shop and inns.

Me: Your people are very eager not to damage nature then?

Asphodel: Yes. We live with nature and don’t try to tame it. Our god, Grillon, taught us that we should respect all life, both plant and animal, and that we should try to have as little impact on nature as possible.

Me: Are you all vegetarian then?

Asphodel (laughing): Oh, no. We eat meat. It is an essential part of our diet. We were designed to be omnivorous. We respect the animals that we eat, and apologise to them when we have to kill them. We also say a very brief prayer to Grillon to take the animal’s soul.

Me: Very interesting. Perhaps we should respect our animals a bit more. Tell me about the politics of your land. How are you ruled?

Asphodel: We are ruled by the Elflord. It is a hereditary position and is held for life.

Me: A bit like a king then?

Asphodel: We-el, sort of, I suppose, but the Elflord can be deposed easier than a king can be. It takes two votes of no confidence by the government to depose him.

Me: Who would take over then? Who would be the next Elflord? Would you the government vote for a new one?

Asphodel: No. His sister’s oldest son would take over.

Me: Is the Elflord always a man?

Asphodel: Yes.

Me: Does that not seem a little old-fashioned? Most countries on Vimar, or at least on Khalram, now have equality for the sexes.

Asphodel: Don’t think that women have no power in Rindissillashan. They can hold any position except that of the Elflord, and even then they can have a great deal of power. Heard of ‘The Power Behind the Throne’? Many an Elflord’s wife, mother or sister have, in effect, ruled the country through him.

Me: How is it decided who will inherit?

Asphodel: We trace our family through the female line. Thus the Elflord will always be the eldest son of the previous Elflord’s sister or nearest female relative if either she has no sons or he has no sisters.

Me: That sounds complicated.

Asphodel: Not when you get used to it.

Me: Why do the elves use the female line then?

Asphodel: Many long years ago there was a dispute. We used to follow the male line like many other people. Then there was a dispute as to whether the son of the then Elflord was actually his son or the son of another man who rumour had it had had an affair with the Elflord’s wife. It nearly came to a civil war. It was resolved by making the son of the deceased Elflord’s sister into tthe Elflord. It was certain that she was the mother, and that she was of the Blood Royal. So from then on it was decided that, because there was no doubt as to the mother of a child, we would henceforth trace our descent through the female line and not the male. It has been that way ever since.

Me: I believe that you, yourself, are of House Royal. Could your son be Elflord someday?

Asphodel: Very unlikely! I am quite a long way from the throne and I have an older sister who has a son, not to mention cousins who are closer to the throne than I am.

Me: Thank you very much for your enlightening conversation. I will let you get back to your healing.

Asphodel: Thank you. Good bye.

Jovinda and Noni part 3

Here is part 3 of the story of Jovinda and Noni, Carthinal’s parents. Since I missed last week’s post entirely in the end, I am continuing with my normal schedule with the third week of the month.

 

Jovinda went about her chores humming to herself. That afternoon she was going to see Noni again. It had been a week since she had last seen him. It was not always easy for them to arrange their meetings. Noni had his work to do and also they had to keep their meetings secret from their parents.

Salor helped the lovers. She thought it was exciting and romantic. She gave Jovinda alibis whenever the pair were to meet, and if the girls seemed to be meeting more frequently than previously, Jovinda’s parents did not seem to notice.

Noni could not get away as often as he would have liked, but every time he had any time to himself he and Jovinda would meet. Usually they went to the woods out of town. It was quiet there and there were many places they could be totally alone with little fear of discovery. The summer passed and the trees began to put on their autumn colours.

‘What are we going to do when winter is here?’ Jovinda asked one day. ‘It’ll be cold and wet. We won’t be able to sit on the ground then.’

Noni looked at her and stroked her auburn hair. ‘Something will turn up, darling,’ he said. ‘We’re meant to be together. I feel it deep inside my soul. Nothing will part us, not even winter.’

He was right, of course. As the last leaves fell from the trees and the summer warmth left the land, Jovinda came to a terrible realisation. She had missed her monthly bleeding. It was now time for the next one but still nothing happened. She had been in such ecstasy that she had not thought about anything other than Noni. Now she realised she was pregnant.

How could she tell her parents? What would they do? Would they disown her? How would Noni react? Would he stand by her or would he abandon her? Oh why had she been so foolish. She had not thought about possible consequences when they had made love in their glade in the wood. Now she was suffering the results of that lack of forethought.

‘I’m going to see Salor,’ she told her mother after she had finished her chores. She left the house and hurried to her friend’s home. Salor had become engaged to a young man during the months that had passed and was due to be married in the spring. He was the son of a friend of theirs and they were delighted with the engagement. They had been going to suggest the pair get married when the young people themselves said they wanted to get married.

It was so different from Jovinda and Noli’s experience that Jovinda was a little jealous. She would not change Noli in any way, though, even for approval by her parents.

She arrived at Salor’s house and was admitted. Salor took her to her room where she burst into tears.

‘Jovinda, what’s wrong? It’s not a problem with Noli, is it?’

Jovinda dried her eyes and sighed.

‘Well, it is and it isn’t. Oh, Salor, I’m in so much trouble. I’ve missed two monthly bleedings.’

Salor put her hand to her mouth.’That means…’

‘Yes. I’m pregnant.’

Salor looked at her friend with eyes opened wide. ‘I didn’t think you’d be so foolish, Jo,’ she said. ‘How did you not think this might happen?’

Jovinda’s eyes began to leak tears again as she tried to push them back. ‘I didn’t think. Oh, Salor, it seemed so right. We love one another and soon kisses weren’t enough to show our love. What am I to do?’

‘Does he know?’

Jovinda shook her head. ‘I’ve not seen him since I realised.’

‘Will he marry you? Or do you want to go to a witch woman and get rid of it?’

‘I don’t know,’ wailed Jovinda, crying again.

Eventually the girls decided that Jovinda must tell Noli. He was as much to blame as Jovinda for the predicament she was in. Salor privately hoped that Noli was not one of those men who ran away from responsibility. She had seen young women left with an unwanted baby when the father decided he did not want a wife and child. He had his fun then ran. The girl concerned never regained her reputation. It was different if the man married the girl. Oh, there was scandal at first, but later people either forgot the child was born rather early or deliberately forgot when the wedding had been.

Salor helped Jovinda get a message to Noli and the pair met at their usual place the next day.

It was cold. The fallen leaves made a multicoloured carpet on the ground in the glade where Noli waited. He pulled his cloak round him as he wondered what Jovinda wanted to see him about so urgently. He heard a crackle in the leaves and turned to see Jovinda crossing the glade. He opened his arms and she ran into them. They kissed passionately before saying a word.

He looked into his lover’s eyes and saw they were red. She had been crying. Had her parents found out about them? He held her close and waited for her to speak.

‘Noli,’ she said through her tears, ‘I’m pregnant. I am thinking of going to a witch woman to get rid of it though.’

For the first time since they met, Noli became angry.

‘You will not kill this child,’ he said, and he stalked to the opposite side of the glade.

‘It is a new life beginning. Who knows what great deeds it could do, or how important its decendants could be. We elves will never destroy a life, even an unborn one.’

‘But, Noli, what are we to do?’

He came back to her side and put his arms round her again. ‘We’ll get married, sweetheart. It’s what I would like and I hope you would like it too.’

‘Of course I would like that. We can have this baby and then lots more.’

Noli laughed. ‘I hope so. Elves aren’t very fertile as a rule. I suppose it’s because we live so long. If we had too many children we’d soon overrun the world. But an elf and a human…who knows?’

They parted after discussing whether Noli should go with Jovinda when she told her parents. He wanted to be there to support her, but she said she thought it would be better if she told them alone.

Jovinda walked slowly back home having resolved to tell her parents the very next day.

How will Jovinda’s parents react to her news? The next installment will be on the third Tuesday of April.

Your comments are more than welcome. I will try to reply to all comments.

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Extract from The Wolf Pack. Book 1 of The Wolves of Vimar Series.

I have decided that I will start to serialize The Wolf Pack on WordPress. I am already serializing it on Blogger but I think that it will be a good idea to restart the serialization here so that new people can read it from the beginning.

So here is the first extract–the Prologue and Chapter 1.wolf1

PROLOGUE

The Most High of Kalhera looked at his visitor.
‘This is most irregular. What you propose is possible, but forbidden.’
The magister replied, ‘I realise that, Your Holiness. That’s why I’ve come to see you. I need your permission to perform the rite and to provide a cleric who can do it.’
‘You would deny Kalhera some souls. She doesn’t like that, you know. If you deny her these, she will demand some others in recompense. That is the way.’
The magister looked the Most High in the eye. He held the gaze of the other as he told him, ‘It will not be for all time.’
He held up his hand as the Most High opened his mouth to speak. ‘I cannot say for how long these souls will be denied to Kalhera.’ he went on, ‘It may be a few years, or it may be millennia. Your Holiness, I have had a dream. Sometime in the future these souls will be returned to Kalhera. Please grant me permission to perform the rite.’
The Most High looked at the magister and then he rose. ‘I will go and commune with Kalhera. If she permits it, I will grant you both your requests, permission to perform the rite and a cleric to perform it. I believe it requires both a Cleric of Death and a mage?’
With that, the Most High of Kalhera, Goddess of Death and the Underworld left the room through a door obscured by a black curtain.

They carried the body of their king across the land and over the mountains until they reached the place he had asked to be his final resting-place. It was a beautiful place. A deep, forested valley surrounded by high mountains and with a steaming lake in the bottom. The lake was fed by water from deep within the volcanic mountains and was a warm and pleasant temperature. It had been the king’s favourite place in the entire world, albeit not in his own lands. It was here that he had met his true love. She was not mortal, but his love had been reciprocated and he wished to be near her in death.
The king was buried in a burial mound that they prepared, and then they prepared two others, one on each side. They interred their king with due ceremony for all there were only fourteen of them there. The magister had half expected a fifteenth, but then she may have been watching from hiding, as she was shy of people. He looked at the others.
‘Are you all ready?’ the elven magister asked the assembled young warriors.
‘Yes!’ they chorused.
He looked round the group of twelve. They were so young. He had asked for volunteers, and they were all more than eager. At the beginning, that was. Now one or two of them seemed more than a little afraid. Not that he could blame them. It was a very frightening thing he was asking of them. He noticed the youngest of them was visibly trembling. He was a lad of only sixteen turns of the sun, and yet he had volunteered readily enough when asked.
The old elf sighed. Better give them one last chance to change their minds. He hoped that none of them did or there would not be sufficient for the task. Certainly twelve was the recommended number, but maybe less would suffice.
‘There is no censure to any who wish to change their minds. It is a fearsome thing you are volunteering to do.’
One member of the group looked at the youngest. ‘Are you all right, Bry?’ he said. ‘No one will think you a coward if you withdraw.’
‘Maybe not, but I would,’ replied the young man. ‘I said I’d do it, and do it I will.’
‘So be it,’ the mage said. ‘Form the circle.’
The twelve young men formed a circle around the mage and the cleric of Kalhera, who had also accompanied them on their journey. They drew their swords and knelt, sword tips on the ground and hands clasped over the hilts. They bowed their heads.
The young man known as Bry closed his eyes. He did not know what was to happen, only the outcome. His fear was almost palpable.
The others felt it too, but they were all warriors, and none of them, not even Bry, allowed it to affect their determination to go through with it. They had loved their king and wished to do this last thing for him.
Bry heard the cleric begin his chant in the centre of the circle, and then the mage joined with a chant of his own. The two chants seemed to weave around each other, in and out until the two men seemed to be chanting one chant.
The young man felt a little strange, light headed, almost, and then there was a sudden wrenching pain that seemed to be accompanied by a crack. It was gone almost as soon as he felt it and he wondered if the spell had failed. He dared to open his eyes. Yes, something had gone wrong for there were his companions still kneeling in place. He glanced down at himself. Yes, there were his hands grasping his sword.
But just a moment! What was that lying in front of him? With horror, he realised it was his own body. The spell had worked after all. He was dead, but his soul was tied to Vimar. He would remain here to guard the body of his King until the prophesied time came.
The group of twelve warriors looked at their bodies. Bry was thinking of all the things he had not done in his sixteen years. He would never now marry and have the love and companionship of a woman, never hear his children and grandchildren laughing and playing. Never again eat a good meal or get drunk with his companions. For centuries to come he would patrol this lake and the hidden tomb in the caves below, protecting them from harm until the eight came. The Wolves.

PART 1

MEETINGS
CHAPTER 1

PROPHECY

The half-elf leafed through the book that he was studying. He was due to take the tests to end his apprenticeship soon. Mabryl, his master and adopted father had sent off to the Mage Tower in Hambara asking for the young man to be considered for the tests at the next opportunity. He was a tall, handsome young man, just over six feet with shoulder-length auburn hair, a closely trimmed beard and eyes of an intense blue.
He was sitting in the study at the home of Mabryl in Bluehaven, which was situated on the south coast of the land of Grosmer. With him were Mabryl’s other two apprentices, 14 year old Tomac and 16 year old Emmienne. Tomac pushed a lock of his unruly dark hair out of his eyes.
‘I think that’s the Master coming in now, Carthinal,’ he said. ‘You’d better get looking as though you’ve been doing something instead of moping around waiting for that letter, or you’ll be in trouble.’
Just as he said this, the door opened and Mabryl entered shaking his cloak out as he did so.
‘It’s pretty cold out there,’ he said, ‘and it’s turning to snow if I’m not much mistaken. Unusual this far south.’ He turned to his three apprentices. ‘Have you finished the tasks I set you?’ He hung his cloak on a stand by the door. Carthinal stood up and walked over to the fire, putting a fresh log on to the flames.
‘Come and get warm, and, no I’ve not finished. I can’t seem to settle down to anything until I hear about whether I can take the tests soon. I think Emmienne has finished though. I can’t say about Tomac.’
‘Nearly,’ replied Tomac, jumping down from his chair and carrying his workbook to his master. ‘I was a little stuck on the moon phases though. It’s complicated trying to work out both moons at the same time.’
‘Stick to it, youngster,’ came from Emmienne on the window seat. She grinned across at the younger boy, the grin lighting up her plain face. ‘I had problems too, but it comes eventually.’
Tomac groaned and went back to his seat.
‘I’ve finished though, Sir,’ she said. ‘I’ve learned that new spell you gave me and am sure I can make it work. When can I try it?’
Mabryl laughed. ‘Such enthusiasm. We’ll try it out tomorrow, I think. In the meantime, I’ve made what I think may be a big discovery. Perhaps the most important one for many, many years. Look.’ He put an ancient looking book on the table. The three apprentices gathered round.
‘I think it may be a spell book from before the Forbidding,’ he went on.
Emmienne gasped. ‘That is old. And if it is, we’ll be able to find lost spells. You’ll be famous, Sir.’
‘Calm down, Emm. It may not be the spell-book of a magister, or even an arch-mage,’ smiled Carthinal. ‘It may have just the spells we already know and not any of the lost ones.’
Nearly seven hundred years previously there had been a war between conflicting mages. It had caused such devastation and hardship that the king had forbidden the use of magic on pain of death, and he ordered all spell books to be burned. Some, however, had been hidden and these came to light occasionally. During this time, much knowledge had been lost and there were mages working to try to re-discover the lost spells. If this book were to be of use, it would need to be taken to one of these mages.
Just then the door opened and Lillora, Mabryl’s housekeeper entered.
‘Sorry to disturb you, sir,’ she said, ‘but a bird arrived a few minutes ago. I thought you should know.’ She glanced towards Carthinal and smiled. ‘Probably nothing important though,’ she teased.
‘I’ll come and look,’ replied the mage and left the three apprentices to their own devices.
Carthinal picked up the book and began to leaf through it. He could understand little of what was written there. Firstly it was in an archaic script and language and secondly he was as yet only an apprentice and had not the knowledge to understand more than a limited number of spells.
He frowned as he tried to read the words on the page. He lifted the book from the table to take it nearer to the light when a loose page fell onto the floor. He stooped to pick it up and realised that he could read it, unlike the rest of the book, and that it was not a page that had fallen out, but a note that had been inserted there. He took it to the window seat and sat by Emmienne to read it.
‘What’s that?’ asked the brown-haired girl, straining to read it upside down.
‘I’m not sure,’ replied Carthinal wrinkling his brow. ‘It fell out of this book that Mabryl has bought but it doesn’t seem to be the same writing, nor is it in the same archaic script. It’s a note of some kind.’ He paused to read it.
Just then, Mabryl came back holding a piece of paper in his hand.
‘It’s good news, Carthinal,’ he told the young man. ‘There is a space for you to take your tests in the next batch, which take place just before Grillon’s Day. That’s in about five sixdays time so we’ll need to leave here soon to allow us time to settle in before your ordeal.’ He saw that Carthinal was holding a paper. ‘What’s that you’ve got there?’ he queried.
‘It fell out of the book you bought,’ replied Carthinal. ‘It doesn’t seem to be by the author of the book though. It’s in a more modern script that I can read. It doesn’t make much sense though.’ He handed it to the other man who read it, then read it again, this time out loud.

‘“When Kalhera descends from the mountains, and orcs once more roam the land,
When impossible beasts occur and the never-dying man is once more at hand.
Then the Sword that was lost must once more be found; only it can destroy the threat
And kill the immortal mortal to balance out his debt.”

‘It does seem a strange thing to write,’ said Tomac, ‘and it doesn’t make a lot of sense either. How can Kalhera descend from the mountains? She’s a god and the gods don’t come down to Vimar.’
Mabryl turned the page in his hand and saw some more writing on the back.
‘This says that it’s a quotation from something that the writer heard and wrote down. The author says he visited the Oracle on the Holy Island and this was what he was told the Oracle had said earlier in the day but to no one in particular. Only the attendants were present it seems.’
He replaced the paper in the book on the table and turned to Carthinal.
‘We must take this to a colleague of mine in the Mage Tower when we go,’ he continued. ‘She is working on finding the old spells, I believe and this may be of use to her. The loose note may be a prophecy if it came from the Oracle, but who knows when it was made? It could be that it was centuries ago, or yesterday; and it could be referring to a time well in the future or even in the past. I think we should ignore it for now.
‘Lillora says that our lunch is almost ready, so I suggest we go to the table before she gets mad.’
The three apprentices forgot all about the book and the note as they enjoyed the housekeeper’s excellent cooking and after the meal they returned to their studies.
Mabryl gave them all tasks to complete and then went out again to visit the Duke of Bluehaven who was an old friend of his, taking the book with him.

Duke Danu of Bluehaven had trained at the Mage Tower in his youth. He had some talent for magic, but with the death of his elder brother in an epidemic, he had to take over the duties and prepared to become the Duke one day. He had never taken the tests to end his apprenticeship, but he retained an interest in magic and still practiced it in a small way. ‘To keep my hand in,’ he told people.
Today he was sitting in his study going over the accounts of the duchy when a knock came at the door.
‘Arch-mage Mabryl to see you, sir,’ said his butler.
‘Send him in, then,’ replied Danu, rising from his seat and walking over to clasp Mabryl in a hug. ‘You’ve not been to visit in some while, my friend,’ he scolded the other man. ‘Busy with your three apprentices, I suppose.’
Mabryl smiled at his friend. ‘Yes, they do keep me busy. Carthinal is ready to take his tests and become a full mage now.’
‘Is that so?’ Duke Danu raised an eyebrow. ‘Doesn’t time fly? Hardly seems any time at all when you took that scruffy little urchin in off the streets. Everyone thought you were mad, you know. Taking a street child to be your apprentice; and then adopting him? Well, it seems we were wrong. He’s turning out all right.’
‘Considering his background, yes. He still has his faults and I can’t say there weren’t times when I agreed with you that I’d done the wrong thing. He still needs to control his temper better and his good looks don’t help him to control his baser instincts. Girls, and older women too, flirt outrageously with him, and he enjoys it a little too much! But I didn’t come here to talk about Carthinal. I’ve made a discovery and I want your opinion.’
He pulled the spell-book out of a bag at his side. ‘I’m going to take this to Yssa at the Mage Tower when I take Carthinal. She will be the best to decide how important it is.’ He handed the book to Danu.
The Duke whistled. ‘This is important, Mabryl. I can’t read it, but it certainly looks like a spell-book to me. It’s old and could easily date to before the Forbidding.’ He picked up the note that was still between its pages. ‘What’s this?’ he asked.
‘A little note that was in the book. Carthinal found it. It doesn’t seem to belong to the book though, and I’ve thought it could be a hoax. Someone putting a seeming prophecy in an important old book.’
‘Maybe, but I don’t think so. Some research I’ve been doing suggests that Grosmer is about to face some danger. This may be a prophecy about that. I would suggest you take it to Rollo in Hambara when you go. His library is much more extensive than mine is and he can find out more. I’ve been in touch with him about this possible danger so he knows a little of what I suspect.’
‘I don’t know Duke Rollo,’ Mabryl replied. ‘He may not believe me. I’ve heard he’s a suspicious man. I think there is a possibility this note is a hoax even if you don’t. I’ll need to prove that I’ve come from you.’
‘I’ll write you a letter to give to him,’ Danu said going over to his desk and picking up his pen. ‘I’ll also give you this.’ He picked up a small statuette of a trotting horse about three inches long and two high that sat on his desk. ‘It’s one of a pair that we found in our adventuring days. He has the other. He’ll know that I’ve sent you when he sees that, especially if you ask him about the other one. Now, sit down and I’ll get some wine for us to drink while we talk about other things.’
The two old friends then spent the afternoon remembering past times and gossiping about the goings on in the city of Bluehaven as the afternoon passed into evening and the Duke’s work lay unfinished on the desk.