Category Archives: serial

Horselords Part 4

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Kimi mounted the horse the young warrior brought her. He held its head as she vaulted onto its back. She recognised it as one of the ones the Prowling Lynx had stolen from her parents’ ranch. A chestnut with a blaze down his face and four white socks. She had been particularly fond of this animal, and she delighted to be riding him on her way home, if by a roundabout way.

‘I thought you would prefer to ride one of your own horses,’ he told her.

She nodded and took the reins from him, gripped the horse with her knees and squeezed. The horse responded and trotted off after the others, who had rounded up the spare horses and had begun to herd them westwards.

Kimi became aware of the young warrior riding up beside her. They rode in silence for some time. Kimi looked sideways at him. She still felt that he looked frightening and became uncomfortable when he looked at her. True, he had promised to take her home as soon as he had delivered the thieves to his father, but could she trust him? Her experiences with the previous tribesmen made her anxious.

The young warrior, after riding alongside her for around an hour, suddenly broke his silence.

‘My name’s Davrael,’ he said. ‘What’s your’s?’

Kimi jumped, then told him her name. He smiled at her and she noticed his eyes for the first time. They were a soft brown and had a spark of humour in them, as well as a kindness. Perhaps he had a fearsome appearance, but somehow she knew that he had a soft side.

Little more was said during the rest of the day, then the band stopped by the side of a stream. They put the captives in one tent, still tied up, and erected a separate tent for Kimi. Davrael smiled at her as he held the tent flap back for her to enter.

‘I’ll bring you some food in a few minutes,’ he said, and disappeared. Kimi unrolled the blankets left for her and sat down cross-legged on them to think about her situation.

Shortly, Davrael returned. He carried two bowls and wooden spoons. He sat down opposite her and handed her one of the bowls and a spoon.

‘Sorry it’s not better food,’ he said, looking at his bowl, ‘but we have only trail rations. We cooked dried meat to soften it, but it’s not good.’

Kimi shrugged, looking at her own bowl. ‘It’s better than going hungry. I’ve eaten worse.’ She began to scoop the food into her mouth and chew. The meat was tough, but it was nourishment and so she ate every last bit.

Neither of them spoke while they ate, then, after finishing, Davrael called to one of his men and handed him the bowls. He came back and sat down again. Kimi frowned. Why did he not go? He was not going to be like he other one, was he? Was he going to try to take advantage of her? At that thought, she shrank back a little.

Davrael noticed. ‘Don’t worry,’ he said. ‘I’m not a Lynx. The Swooping Hawks don’t take advantage of vulnerable women. We have honour. Neither do we steal from others.’

Kimi sighed and resumed her position.

‘Tell me about yourself and the Swooping Hawks, Davrael. I am from the Settled Tribes. We have forgotten much of the lives of the Wandering Tribes.’

‘We have our own territories,’ Davrael replied, ‘and we stick to them. At least, the Swooping Hawks do. Other tribes don’t always. When there is an infringement, the chiefs will usually try to settle it peacefully, but occasionally there is war.’

‘I’ve heard that the Wandering Tribes are always fighting each other,’ said Kimi.

Davrael shrugged. ‘If war is needed to settle a matter, then we fight. Some tribes steal, horses or land, like those Lynx.’ He spat in the direction of the tent where the Lynx were being held. He stood, and drew himself up to his full height, looking every inch the proud son of a Tribal Chief. ‘The Swooping Hawks do not steal, but we will defend what is ours.’

He strode out of the tent, leaving Kimi alone.

Each day for the next sixday, Davrael rode at Kimi’s side, and each evening he came to her tent to talk. He did not say much more than he needed to in order to answer Kimi’s questions. She decided he was a man of few words. Then, he asked her about her own life. Kimi found herself beginning to like this young man more and more, She became used to the tattoo on his face, and it no longer frightened her. She smiled at the thought.

‘What are ;you smiling at,’ he asked her.

‘Just that I wonder, now, why I was so frightened of you when we first met. I feel as if I’ve known you for ever, and we’ve always been friends.’

Davrael’s eyes lit up when she said this. ‘I’m glad you said that, Kimi. I feel that way too. We’ve always known each other.’

The ride continued over the plains. Grassland stretched away into the distance. They passed the occasional copse, and many streams. Once they had to cross a wide river at a ford. Davrael stuck to her side all the way until a camp appeared in the distance.

‘My father’s camp,’ Davrael told her. ‘Soon we’ll be rid of these Lynx dogs and get them tried and condemned then I can take you home.’

What will happen at the camp of Davrael’s father? How long will the trial take? And what are the feelings Kimi is beginning to feel for Davrael?

Find out on the first Tuesday of next month.

Please leave a comment in the comments box, and I’ll get back to you.

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Horselords 3

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The raiding party moved ever westwards. the mountains the Horselords called The Barrier, retreated ever further away until they were just a blue haze on the horizon. Kimi looked longingly at them as she rode surrounded by Prowling Lynx warriors. Her home was at the foot of those mountains. Would she ever see it again? She prayed for a miracle, but the days passed and none arrived.

One evening, just as the men began to set up the camp, Kimi heard the sound of galloping hooves. She was inside her tent with a guard as they had put her tent up first. Not for any chivalrous reasons. Just that they thought she would be less likely to escape if she were safely in her tent with a guard.

Sounds of shouting came through the thin walls of the tent, followed by the noise of fighting. Horses whinneyed in fear, men shouted and the sound of metal on metal rang through the air. Kimi’s guard was in the process of tying her up, but when he heard the sounds, he rushed out to help his friends, leaving her alone and free. She thought of trying to make a break, but the sounds of fighting were all around. She thought she might be safer in here than out there.

Then suddenly, all was silent. Kimi crept to the tent door and peeped out. Her captors were now the captives. They stood in a huddle, surrounded by other men. A few bodies lay on the ground, and several of the captives had sustained wounds.

I hope the chief’s son is hurt, she thought, surprising herself at this thought. She had never been vindictive. But then, she had never been kidnapped and threatened with marriage to a violent man before.

One man walked round the group of captives. she listened to what he said.

‘You dare to cross the lands of the Swooping Hawks? You will come with us to our chief. There you will be tried.’

Kimi tried to slip back into the tent, but the man saw her and came over.

Kimi shrank back. This man was fairly tall, around five foot eleven, with a proud bearing. He wore his dark hair long and tied with a bandana to keep it from his eyes.

It was not his height or bearing that made Kimi afraid, though. On his face was a tattoo. This tattoo was in the shape of a hawk with its wings spread over his forehead, head down his straight nose and talons on his cheeks.

‘Who are you?’ he asked her. ‘I’m surprised they brought a woman on their raid. Even if they are Prowling Lynx ‘

‘I…I’m not with them,’ she stuttered.

He raised his eyebrows, making the hawk’s wings seem to flutter.

‘Then what are you doing here?’

Kimi swallowed. They raided my family’s ranch and took our best horses. When we went to try to get them back, they captured me.’ She took a deep breath to try to stop tears. ‘They were going to make me marry their chief’s son. He was cruel. He taunted and hit me.’

Now Kimi could no longer be brave, and tears began to fall. The young warrior strode out of the tent without looking back.

She heard the sounds of his feet striding towards the group of prisoners. Then she heard the young warrior’s voice calling to them. He called a name, but no one replied. There was silence for a while, then she heard quiet voices before the sounds of someone being beaten.

Shortly, the young warrior returned.

‘I taught him a lesson,’ he said. ‘Now we go to my father for him to judge them for trespassing and theft. Come.’

He left the tent before Kimi could reply, leaving her to follow.

When she caught up, he turned and said, ‘You ride one of your horses. We go back to my people.’

‘Why can’t you take me to my people?’ Kimi replied.

‘We need to take these men back first. See my father then see what he says.’

Has Kimi fallen into the hands of another tribe? What will they do with her?

Find out on the first Tuesday of next month.

Horselords Part 2

This is the second part of the story of Kimi and Davrael from The Wolves of Vimar Series.

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Kimi shivered as she contemplated her fate. These men were not going to kill her. That was not what they wanted or they would have done so already. Did they want a hostage to ransom? That was not the style of the Tribes. They simply came and took what they wanted. Horses mainly. They did not use money and they measured their wealth by the number and quality of their animals.

Her musings came to an end when she found herself pulled roughly from her horse. Someone untied her feet so she could stand, and a tall man came over.

‘Who is this?’ he queried in a booming voice.

‘She’s a settler.’ one of her captors replied. ‘She came after us so we ambushed her and brought her here.’

The tall man circled Kimi, looking her up and down as if she were a piece of horseflesh.

‘Not much to look at, is she?’ he said. ‘Plain face, and small. Still, she’s got nice eyes, and lovely, thick, brown hair. I’m not sure how she’ll be at bearing children, though.’

Kimi’s eyes opened wide as she realised what this man was saying. They were going to use her as breeding stock, just like a mare. Something snapped in t he girl’s mind and she kicked out at the tall man.

‘I’m not a mare to be put to the stallion,’ she responded, eyes blazing.

The men all laughed, and the tall man called another young man over, who was looking the stolen horses over. When he arrived, Kimi saw a likeness between him and the tall man and concluded the younger one was his son.

‘What do you think of this girl?’ asked the tall man.

The younger man looked her up and down as his father had done and said, ‘She’s very plain, and a bit small. She may not be able to bear children successfully.
His father frowned. ‘She has spirit, though. That is what we need in the tribe. None of your submissive women. That’s fine in a woman, but not if she breeds children like herself. We need women with spirit. I like this girl. You will marry her.’

With that, he stalked off. leaving the young men all staring at Kimi.

The chief’s son, for the tall man was the tribal chief, told the others to take her to a tent and to make sure she could not escape. Struggle as she might, Kimi was not strong enough to break the hold of t he man holding her and she found herself thrust into a tent. The man then tied her to the tentpole by her wrists.

Kimi struggled to no avail, only succeeding in chafing her wrists. Then the tentflap opened and the chief’s son entered.
‘What’s your name?’ he demanded.

Kimi made no reply, but turned her head away. The chief’s son grabbed her chin and turned her head back towards him.

‘Answer me when I speak to you.’

Kimi spat in his face and received a blow across her cheek for her insult.

As he wiped the spittle from his cheek, the young man stood.

‘We have your best horses now, and you, so we’ll be leaving in the morning. My father says we must be married, but that won’t happen before we get far away, back to our own territory, the territory of the Prowling Lynx. I will have my tattoos done to show I’m the son of the chief and then we’ll be married.’

He started to leave the tent, but turned and kicked out at Kimi, landing a kick on her left leg.

‘You’re not what I’d have chosen. There are plenty beautiful women in the tribe who would jump at the chance of marrying me. Still, my father says I must marry you, so I’ll do so. Those other women will still be anxious to be my lovers.’

He laughed as he left Kimi alone to consider her fate.

Kimi could not help it. She tried not to, but tears pooled in her eyes, and try as she might, they overflowed and fell onto the tent floor.

During he next few days Kimi had some relief from the taunts of her husband-to-be as he was busy erecting and taking down tents before moving off, or herding the horses, who tried constantly to turn back to their old home.

It started again each evening. though. The young man came to her tent and insulted her, or kicked and hit her. Kimi determined not to allow him to make her cry. At least not in front of him. but once he left for his own tent, she allowed the tears to fall.

How long would it take to reach the lands of the Prowling Lynx tribe? She hoped it was a very long time, She prayed that her father could raise some of the settlers and come after her. Then she prayed they would not, because many would be killed in the fight that ensued.

Eventually, she decided she would be co-operative in order to lull this raiding party into thinking she had become resigned to her fate. Perhaps she could manage to spot an opportunity to escape.

Horselords

Kimi and Davrael are two of the group who call themselves The Wolf Pack. I have been serialising some of the earlier stories of these friends on the first Tuesday of the month. so far I’ve done Carthinal’s parents and Aspholessaria, known as Asphodel.

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Kimi woke to hear sounds of horses whinneying. A gate creaked and then she heard galloping hooves. She quickly jumped from her bed and went to the window of her small bedroom. There, in the darkness, she could just make out a herd of horses disappearing across the plains.

She ran to her parent’s bedroom and woke them.

‘The horses have been stolen,’ she called as she turned to her brothers’ bedroom.

Her father leaped out of bed and ran to his window. This looked out over the back of the ranch where there were two corralls of some of the best horses on Vimar. He saw that these had not been touched, but these were not his best animals. The one Kimi’s room overlooked held those.

‘Are you sure, Kimi?’ he called to her as she woke her two brothers. He knew she would not have made such a mistake, but he felt he had to ask.

The girl came out of her brothers’ room, followed by the young men,Yeldin and Olias. The boys were older than their sister, Yeldin being the elder at almost twenty, and Olias was eighteen. Kimi would be seventeen at her next birthday in two months’ time.

‘Of course I’m sure,’ she said. ‘I heard the gate creak, then galloping. I looked and saw them galloping off over the plains.’

Olias looked at his sister. ‘Are you sure they didn’t just jump the gate, or otherwise break it themselves. Did you see anyone?’

Kimi looked at her brother and sighed.

‘I’m not an imbecile, Oli,’ she told him. ‘The gate was open. Unless the horses have now developed a way of opening the gate, someone did it for them.’

‘The Tribes,’ said her father, pulling on his trousers as he came out of the room he shared with his wife. ‘It must be one of the Tribes. Thieving scum that they are.’

The family was one of a number of settled folk living close to The Barrier, the range of mountains that cut off the Western Plains from the rest of the continent of Khalram.

Once they had been of the Tribes themselves, following the herds of wild horses that roamed the plains Several generations ago, some of the people had decided they could rear better horses if they had more control and so they settled in one place. There had been enmity between the Tribes and Settlers ever since.

Kimi looked hard at her father.

‘Not all the Tribes are thieves, Dad,’ she told him. ‘Some are, yes. They are jealous of the progress we’ve made in breeding, but not all of them.’

‘A Tribe member is always a thief,’ replied her father in a tone that said he could not be convinced otherwise. ‘Get dressed quickly, pick up your weapons and come with me. We’ve some horses to get back.’
Soon, Kimi and her brothers were cantering westwards after their animals, alongside their parents. All carried bows, and the men were also armed with knives. The tracks were easy to follow. The thieves had taken around twenty of the family’s best animals and they left plenty of signs of their passing.

Then the tracks split into three. Kimi’s father pulled his horse to a halt.

‘They want to confuse us so we don’t know which way to go,’ he said. ‘We’ll need to split up to find them.’

Kimi’s mother pulled her horse nearer to her husband.

‘Do you think it’s a good idea to split?’ she asked him. ‘We’ve no idea how many there are. It might be that there are too many for a couple of us to take on alone. Perhaps we should just go after one group and get those horses back. At least we would have some of our stock.’

‘These are our best animals,’ said Kimi’s father. ‘We need to get them all back. If we allow the thieves to gain even one, they’ll spread the word that we’re easy and keep coming back till we’ve no horses at all.’

The argument went on until Kimi, ever practical, pointed out that while they were arguing, the horses were getting further away. They took a vote, and all voted with their father and so the group split into three.

Kimi found herself with her elder brother, Yeldin. They followed one set of tracks to the south west.

‘Any idea how many are in this lot?’ he asked her. Kimi was a good tracker and she descended from her horse and studied the tracks.

‘I’d say there are nine horses here, but how many are ours and how many are being ridden by the thieves I couldn’t say.’

Yeldin smiled at her. ‘Well, little sis,’ he said, ‘I’m sure we can take them on. Let’s get going.’

They had ridden for several miles when they spotted dust on the horizon.’

‘There they are,’ called Yeldin from ahead. ‘I’ll circle round from the east and you approach from the west.’

Kimi pulled her pieballed horse round and galloped of in a westerly direction. She had her bow ready to fire at any enemy who approached, but she was not prepared for the five warriors who came from out of a stand of trees and surrounded her. They quickly pulled her from her horse and bound her hands and feet, then put her back across her horse so she could only see the ground below as they cantered southwards towards their camp.

What will become of Kimi, captured by one of the Tribes? Find out next month.

 

Aspholessaria. Bluehaven

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The journey continued. There were, as Trinelli expected, a number of times her healing skills were called upon. True to her word, Asphodel helped as much as she could. It was little enough, because the girl had not been trained in healing. She knew nothing at all. Not even the simplest remedies used by almost every housewife in the land.
She had been brought up as a privileged daughter of one of the ruling families of Quantissarillishon. Although only minor royalty, she had not had to work, The result was that she knew little of how life would be for most people. She was fascinated by Trinelli’s healing, both the mundane and that which the goddess channelled through her priestess.
One day, after they had been travelling for a week, Asphodel asked Trinelli about her religion.
‘Well,’ began the other woman, ‘What do you know about Sylissa?’
‘Not much, really. We elves tend to worship Grillon, as the god of nature. We know a little of the others, but Grillon is our god, really.’
‘Well, Sylissa is the god of Life and Healing. She is the twin sister of Kalhera, god of Death. They are like two sides of one coin. Sylissa’s colour is white, as you can see from my robes, while Kalhera’s is black.’
Asphodel settled down to listen as Trinelli told her about how Sylissa and Kalhera were the daughters of the Chief of the Gods, Kassilla and her consort, Zol the god of Knowledge and Learning. how each chose some aspect of life to be their jurisdiction.
Because she chose to aid those who were sick, occasionally there were disputes between the two sisters, if Kalhera thought Sylissa were denying death to people, but generally they were on good terms.
The clerics of Sylissa were the doctors and nurses of the world, but they did not rely wholly on the power of the god to cure sickness and injury. No, they learned other ways too, such as herbs, and manipulation. They could set broken bones, although sometimes they would call upon Sylissa to help.
Asphodel became fascinated by this and began to ask questions about the various herbs and other methods Trinelli used, She fould the rest of the journey passed quickly, especially as Trinelli sometimes gave her little things to do.
Just as they approached Bluehaven, Trinelli turned to Asphodel and said, ‘You seem to have some aptitude for healing, you know. Have you ever thought of becoming a healer.’
Asphodel was amazed. The idea had never crossed her mind.
‘I’m not sure I’d make a very good cleric,’ she said.
‘You don’t have to. We have some lay people who help us. Why not come to the temple with me and see the Great Mother there. You can decide then what to do.’
So Asphodel went to see the Great Mother and decided to become a lay healer.
Soon that was not enough, and one night she dreamed of Sylissa.
‘Come and join me,’ the goddess told her. ‘You have great potential. It’s wasted here. Join my clerics.’
So after a year in Bluehaven, Asphodel joined the novices at the temple of Sylissa.

All went well during her first year as a novice. Mother Caldo, the Great Mother of the temple praised the young elf, saying she thought she had great potential, and could rise through the ranks quickly. Mother Caldo told Asphodel that she could probably become a Great Mother herself, such was her potential in healing.
‘There’s just one thing, though,’ Mother Caldo said one day, in conversation with one of the archbishops. She sighed. ‘The girl is lacking in discipline. Sometimes she seems to think she knows better than her superiors.’
One day, the Great Mother called together all the clerics of the church of Sylissa in Bluehaven. She stood in the pulpit of the temple and began to speak.
‘As you all know,’ she began, ‘the annual meeting of all the Most Highs of all the religions was held recently in Asperilla on Holy Island. There, they decided that all the sickness and other problems that surround us are a punishment by the gods for the evil that we do.’
She looked at the paper before her before continuing.
‘The consensus of this meeting was that we should try to eliminate evil from the world. The best way to do this, they said, is to refuse aid to those who perpetrate evil. The discussion, apparently, decided against the active persecution and killing, as this would make us as bad as them. The Most High of Sylissa, therefore, has decreed that we will not give aid or healing to such people.’
She shuffled her papers and left the pulpit. An astounded Asphodel followed her fellow novices from the temple deep in thought.
This cannot be right, she thought. Surely we are supposed to give healing to all comers, regardless of anything they might have done. At least, that’s what I understood I was promising when I took my vows.
She listened to her friends talking, and they all seemed to think it was a good idea to eliminate evil in this way, and so she said nothing.

 

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Aspholessaria

 

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Asphodel stumbled as she landed in the covered wagon. She lay breathing heavily for a few moments, then she heard a voice and a hand lifted her up.
‘You just made it,’ said a melodious female voice. ‘A few more seconds and you’d have missed us.’
Asphodel looked at the woman who had helped her up and onto a seat. She was wearing white robes tied with a green sash. Asphodel knew this indicated the woman was a vicar and a cleric of Sylissa, the goddess of healing. The woman looked around forty years old and had a few grey hairs just beginning to appear in her dark hair. Her brown eyes had small laughter lines around them and she smiled at Asphodel.
‘Thank you for your help,’ the elf said. ‘It might sound like an odd question, but where is this caravan going to?’
The cleric raised her eyebrows, then replied, ‘To Bluehaven ultimately. We pass through a number of other towns though. First we go through several small villages in Erian before we get to the border with Grosmer. There aren’t any large towns between Frelli and Grosmer.’
The vicar leaned back in her seat and then asked, ‘Where are you going?’
Asphodel sighed. ‘Wherever my coin will take me,’ she said.
The vicar frowned. ‘Running away? What have you done, or who are you running away from?’
Asphodel closed her eyes foe a moment, then opened them and looked straight at her companion.
‘I’ve not done anything. It’s what he did.’
The vicar said nothing, but continued to look at Asphodel.
Asphodel paused, then it all came out in a rush. She told the whole story from meeting Vass to him hitting her. Then her eyes filled with tears and she looked away.
The other woman moved across to sit next to the girl. she put her arm around her and said, ‘You made a mistake, yes, but we all make mistakes, especially when young. How much did you give the caravan leader?’
When Asphodel told her, she tutted. ‘That won’t even get you to the border,’ she said.
‘But Vass saw which caravan I was on. He’ll get the next one and come after me, I know it.’ Her eyes darted around the wagon as though expecting to see Vass jump out from behind the cloth roof.
The cleric patted her hand. ‘Don’t worry about than for now,’ she said. ‘We’ll sort something out. The next caravan in this direction isn’t for a couple of days. By the way, my name’s Trinelli.’
‘Asphodel,’ replied the elf, not giving her full name as she knew the human woman would have difficulty in pronouncing it.
The caravan stopped for a meal at midday. While they were eating, a man came running up to them.
‘Vicar,’ he shouted as he approached, ‘vicar, please will you come to look at my wife. She’s sick.’
Trinelli stood up. ‘What seems to be the matter?’ she asked.
‘She’s vomiting and says she feels dizzy,’ he said. ‘She says that whenever she moves, it feels as if the world is spinning around her.’
Trinelli followed the man to a wagon and went inside. Out of curiosity, Asphodel followed. She stood in the entrance to the covered wagon and watched as Trinelli placed her hands on the woman and prayed to Sylissa.
The cleric’s head slumped forward. Asphodel watched as the sick woman’s colour began to return. Trinelli, at the same time, became paler. Asphodel almost thought she could see something flowing from Trinelli to the woman, but then she decided she was imagining it.
When they left the wagon, and received the man’s grateful thanks, Asphodel had to support Trinelli back to their wagon. The older woman rested for a while, then, as the wagons began to move once more, she seemed to be back to her normal self.
‘What happened there?’ Asphodel asked her.
‘The healing?’
Asphodel nodded.
‘Well. I prayed to Sylissa. She used me as a conduit to send her healing power into the woman.’
‘But it was more than that, wasn’t it?’
‘Yes. When I–or any of us–heals someone, the goddess sends her power, but it also takes some of our life essence to work. That’s why we’re always tired after healing.’
‘I thought I saw something going from you to her,’ Asphodel said. ‘I couldn’t have, though, could I? What you give her is invisible.’
Trinelli looked sharply at the young elf. She frowned.
‘You shouldn’t have been able to see anything,’ she told her, and she shook her head. ‘I don’t know what this means, but I need to think about it.’
The caravan stopped for the night. The caravan leader came to Asphodel and told her that her money had only given her passage to the next village. The girl looked frightened.
‘I have this ring.’ She reluctantly held out the ring she had picked up before leaving. ‘It was my grandmother’s. I think it’s valuable.’
Trinelli turned to the caravan leader.
‘You can’t take her grandmother’s ring,’ she scolded him. ‘It’s valuable enough to take her to Bluehaven and half-way back again.’
‘Well, she can’t have free passage.’ He shrugged. ‘She has nothing else. Seems it’s the ring or she leaves next stop.’
Trinelli fumbled in her purse and withdrew several gold crowns and a sovereign, which she handed over to the man.
‘Here. This should pay her fare to Bluehaven.’
The man took the coins and left.
‘I can’t let you pay for me,’ Asphodel protested. ‘That’s a lot of money. When we get to a town, I’ll sell my ring and pay you back, I promise.’
Trinelli smiled at the young girl.
‘You’ll do no such thing. If you want to pay me back you can help me when I go to heal people. People are always getting sick or hurt on these journeys. Your help will be worth more to me than coin. I’m going to Bluehaven, to the temple there, so I paid enough for you to get there too.’

Has Asphodel has found a means to get far enough away from Vass? How can she help a healer? She’s been brought up as one of the privileged classes in Elven society. How can she help a healer when she has no idea of healing?
Please leave a comment. I love hearing from you.
To find out more about Asphodel’s later adventures, read The Wolves of Vimar Series. Click on the books to buy.

Aspholessaria Part

 

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Asphodel held the ring tightly in her hand. Her mother had given it to her not long before she left Rindisillaron. It had been her grandmother’s ring and she felt an emotional attachment to it.
Although elves lived long lives in comparison with humans, they did not, contrary to popular belief, live forever, nor were they immune from diseases that ravaged the world of Vimar. Her grandmother had succumbed to one of these diseases the previous year. She wanted Asphodel to have her engagement ring as a keepsake.
Now, Asphodel clutched the ring as she wept for what she knew would never be. Vass had become addicted to the drugs and alcohol that his so-called friends had plied him with. He would never make the fortune he had promised her. All his money, and hers, had gone on his own addiction and not to selling the goods to others.
Asphodel did not approve of his work as a drug dealer, but now he was not a dealer, but an addict. She needed to get away.
She packed her few belongings and searched the apartment for anything she could sell, and for some food. She packed it all into the pack she had carried away from Quatissillaron when she and Vass had eloped. She paused to think for a moment before opening it again and taking out half of the food. She could not leave Vass with nothing.
The few objects she had stuffed in, she left there. After all, Vass had plenty money with her jewellery. How he chose to use it was up to him. She blew her nose, looked round the apartment that now looked presentable after all her efforts and walked out of the door.
She looked both ways along the street. A few people were going about their business, but they took no notice of a girl coming out of her apartment. Vass was nowhere in sight. Asphodel supposed he had gone to sell her jewellery. The jeweller’s shop was to the right, so she went left in the direction of her workplace.
It was dark on the street and Asphodel felt a little afraid as she walked. Where could she go? Perhaps her employer would allow her to spend the night there, then she could go and see if she could find a caravan going away from Frelli. If she could find her way to the caravanserai through the winding, spiral streets of the city.
She found herself outside her place of work. Lights gleamed from the upstairs windows. She knocked on the door.
A head appeared from the window upstairs.
‘Yes? What do you want? We’re closed now. Come back tomorrow.’

Krommel, the scribe, was pulling his head back inside when Asphodel stepped into the light cast by his window.
‘Asphodel,’ he gasped. ‘What are you doing her at this time of night? Wait, I’ll be down in a sec.’
After no more than half a minute, the door opened and Krommel beckoned the girl inside. She entered into the room where they did the copying ever day, but Krommel led her upstairs to where the family lived.
As soon as she entered the room, Krommel’s wife, a plump woman of around forty years of age, noticed her bruises.
‘Oh, my dear, what happened?’ she exclaimed. ‘Let me tend to your injuries. Sit down over there.’
While she bustled around finding things that would ease the bruising on Asphodel’s face, Krommel handed her a bowl of stew and a spoon. The girl ate gratefully.
After she had finished and the curious children been sent to bed, Asphodel explained what had happened.
‘I need to get away,’ she said. ‘I’m sure Vass will try to find me. I need to go a long way away. I can’t go back to him.’
She put her head in her hands and wept.
Krommel’s wife put her arms around the young elf.
‘Of course you can’t,’ she said. ‘Men who hit women never change. Oh, they say they’re sorry and perhaps they are, but then the drink and drugs will take over again and it will keep on happening.’
‘I still love him,’ said Asphodel, raising her tear-streaked face. ‘I don’t know why, after what he’s done. Not only to me, but to others by selling them drugs. He started selling before he started taking them. I know if I saw him, and he asked me, I’d go back to him. That’s why I need to get right away.’
Krommel smiled.
‘I’ll be sorry to lose you, girl,’ he told her, ‘but I agree. You must go away. Do you have money?’
She nodded. ‘A little. I’ve also got a ring I can sell until I find some other employment.’
‘Well, you must have your pay for what you’ve done since your last pay packet,’ Krommel told her, walking over to a safe in the wall.
He returned with a pouch of money and handed it over.
‘There’s more here than you owe me,’ Asphodel said.
‘Take it. I can afford to give you a bonus.’
Asphodel thanked him and stashed the pouch away into her pack.
The next morning, Krommel told one of his sons to escort Asphodel to the caravanserai. Asphodel was glad of his company and guidance as she knew she would never have found it on her own. It lay just inside the walls to the west.
The lad said goodbye, and Asphodel rummaged in her pack and found a small coin to give him. He thanked her and quickly disappeared into the crowds now gathering in the caravanserai.
Which one to take? There were several that looked ready to leave. suddenly, Asphodel saw, through the crowds, a familiar figure. Vass. He looked angry as he pushed people aside. His head turned this way and that, looking.
How had he found out where she was? Had Krommel told him? No, her former employer wouldn’t have done, she was certain of that. Perhaps he just guessed. Then he spotted her. He reached into his pocket and gave something to a small figure. It was Krommel’s son. Vass had bribed the child into saying where he’d taken her. She could not blame the child. No one had told him not to tell Vass.
She looked around anxiously. A caravan was just about to leave. Asphodel rushed over and asked the leader if she could join.
‘We’re just leaving,’ he said as the wagons rolled forward. ‘Do you have coin?’
‘I have some. Just take me as far as this will allow.’
The man took the coin and Asphodel jumped into the last wagon and watched as Vass’s figure grew smaller and smaller.

Where will Asphodel’s coin take her? Can she escape from Vass?

Asphodel is one of the main characters in The Wolves of Vimar Series. You can purchase the first two books by clicking on the following links:

http://mybook.to/thewolfpack/

http://mybook.to/NeverDying/

If you enjoyed this part of Asphodel’s story, please leave a comment.

Aspholessaria.

cover1

 

Once in the village, the pair found an inn where they booked a room for three nights. Vass said if there were work in this village they would see about finding a more permanent place to stay, if not, they would need to move on. After all, their money and Asphodel’s jewellery would not last for ever.
Asphodel left Vass in the inn bar talking to some of the villagers about work. She made her way to a herbalist.
‘Do you have any herbs to prevent pregnancy?’ she asked the old woman who seemed to be in charge of the shop.
‘Is it for you?’ the old woman said, peering over her glasses.
When Asphodel answered in the affirmative, the old woman looked at her sharply.
‘Are you married?’ she asked.
Asphodel blushed and looked down at her feet.
‘Why do you ask?’ she said.
‘Because I don’t encourage promiscuity. I don’t sell to unmarried women and girls.’
‘Y-yes,’ lied the girl. ‘We were married in Quantissillaron just before we came here.’
‘Hmm.’ The old woman peered again at Asphodel, then said, ‘I’ll have to believe you. I don’t know anything about elves so I can’t tell if you’re lying or not.’ She turned round and reached up to a box on a shelf behind her. She weighed out some of the herbs then reached for another box. From this one she added a different herb. She put them into a pestle and began mixing them together.
When she had finished, she took a small pot and poured the herbs into it, then fastened a lid over the top.
‘Take a tea made with one spoonful of the mixture each evening and you will have no trouble with pregnancy,’ she said. ‘You have enough there to last you for three or four weeks, but don’t forget you need to take it every evening.’
Asphodel handed over the money the old woman demanded than almost ran back to the inn.
Vass laughed when she told him she had got the herbs, and almost rushed her up the stairs to their room.
They did not find any work in the village, and so they left after their second night at the inn. Vass thought they should go to Frelli, the capital of Erian. There would be more work there, he reasoned, and so they set off once again.
It took them a sixday to reach Frelli. The capitol city was in a wide valley in the Mountains of Doom, not too far from the border with Grosmer. in days gone by, there had been many wars and skirmishes fought between the two neighbouring countries and Frelli had developed into more of a fortification than a city.
From the Erian side, it appeared as a normal city, with surrounding walls it, but on the Grosmer side, the valley narrowed and the walls had been built across the valley, completely barring access.
Asphodel and Vass approached form the Erian side, of course, and so did not see the forbidding approach from Grosmer. They passed through the gate into a city of streets that seemed to wind around in a spiral towards a castle with a high tower.
‘So this is Frelli,’ Asphodel said, as they searched for an inn. ‘I’m not sure I like it very much. Not much in the way of trees is there.’
Vass shrugged.
‘We can stay here for a while and make some money, then we can go somewhere you’d like better, if that’s what you want.’
Asphodel smiled.
‘Yes, I’d like that. Somewhere where the wildlife can flourish, Perhaps a little farm somewhere.’
Vas put his arm round her.
‘I know nothing of farming,’ he told her, ‘but if that’s what you want, I’ll learn.’
The pair found an inn, and the next morning set off to try to find work. Asphodel quickly found a scribe who was looking for someone who could read and write. His last clerk had left the previous week. Vass, on the other hand, found work more difficult to come by. He had no skills required by the businesses in Frelli.
‘Couldn’t you get something as a labourer?’ Asphodel asked him one evening.
‘What? Get myself filthy? Darling, I don’t want to come home to you dirty.’ He lifted up a lock of her black hair and kissed it. ‘I have more respect for you than to expect you to live with someone who’s dirty.’
‘But you could get washed, Vass. I would barely see you dirty.’
Vass looked at her.
‘Asphodel, the labourers end up with the dirt ingrained in their skin and hard hands. I don’t want you to have to put up with callused hands on your beautiful skin.’
Asphodel sighed. She argued no further but thought she would not mind as long as the hands belonged to Vass.
Vass left again the following morning to look for work and for somewhere for them to live. After all they could not live at the inn. It would be far too expensive. Asphodel left soon afterwards to begin her new job at the scribe’s office. At the end of the day, she rushed back to the inn to tell Vass about her day. He told her he had not looked for a job that day, but had found them somewhere to live. He had put down a deposit and they could move in immediately.
Asphodel was delighted they had somewhere to live, but said, ‘ Why didn’t you wait until I came home before you took it. I’d have liked to have a say in where we’re going to live.’
Vas put his arms round her and said, ‘Asphodel, my darling, I daren’t wait. The place might have gone by the time you got home. There aren’t many places to rent in this city, you know. I had to make a decision straight away.’
They gathered their meagre goods and, after eating a last meal at the inn, went to the apartment Vass had found.
Asphodel was appalled. It was in the poorest quarter of the city with rats running around in the filthy street. The apartment itself was one room. It had a filthy rug in the centre of the room and a sofa that looked as if it had been dragged in from the rubbish tip. It, too. was filthy. There was a greasy sink in one corner of the room, and a fireplace with an oven at the side. In the fireplace were ashes left from several fires.
As she stood there, not believing that Vass could have agreed to rent this place, a cockroach ran across her feet.
‘Vass, this is awful,’ she told him. ‘We can’t live here.’
‘It’ll only be until I find work and we can then get something better. Darling, we can’t afford anything better at the moment.’
‘I suppose it won’t be too bad if I can get it clean. I’ll start now. It’s a good job we ate before we left the inn. I wouldn’t like to eat anything that had been cooked in here.’
Vass told her he would only be in her way if he stayed. He was not very good at cleaning, he said, so he would go out.
Asphodel spent the evening cleaning. She did not get everything to her liking, but it was better than before. She killed at least two dozen cockroaches, and went out to buy mousetraps as she felt sure there must be mice there.
A large cupboard stood next to the sink, and this she filled with cleaning products and then she cleaned out a small cupboard with a mesh front for food. The bed she could do little about, but she determined to wash the sheets the next day. They had access to a small garden at the back of the house and she thought she could wash the sheets before she went to work the next day and with any luck they would be dry when she got home. The mattress she could do little about that night, but decided that one of the first things she would do would be to go out and sell some of her jewellery and buy a new one.
Vass turned up just before the eighteenth hour of the day. (On Vimar, the day began at sunrise on the equinoxes, 6am, and so it was the middle of the hours of darkness when Vass arrived home.)
Asphodel brushed a strand of hair from over her eyes and stopped cleaning the fireplace.
‘You’re late,’ she said.
‘S-sorry,’ stammered Vass. ‘I meeted, no, met, shome blokes in the tavern.’ He staggered. ‘They shtold me all shorts of shtuff. Oh, I feel shick.’

He rushed to the sink and was sick.
‘That’sh better,’ he said, collapsing on the bed.
‘Vass, you’re drunk!’ Asphodel said, but he was already snoring.
The next weeks followed a similar pattern. Asphodel cleaned before and after work and Vass went out to meet his new friends. Each evening he came home drunk. Sometimes more, sometimes less.
One evening Vass did not arrive home at all. Asphodel was at last satisfied with what she had done to the apartment and had been out and bought some flowers and put them on the table. she cooked a meal with what they could afford and waited for Vass to arrive.
The meal got cold, then congealed. Asphodel threw it away. The night crept on and Asphodel fell asleep on a chair. She worried that Vass had gone somewhere else in Frelli and had got lost in the maze of streets. The layout of the city was confusing. It appeared to be straightforward, with the roads spiralling towards the castle, but in reality it was a maze.
Just as she woke, the door opened to admit Vass. She had dark circles beneath her eyes from worry and lack of sleep.
‘Asphodel,’ Vass said, taking her in his arms. ‘You look awful. So tired.’ He ran a finger over her eyes. ‘You mustn’t go to work today, but sleep to get your beauty back.’
Asphodel yawned and pushed him away.
‘I must,’ she told him. ‘You’ve no job and we need money. You’re spending what I earn drinking with your friends.’
Vass laughed. ‘I’m investing it,’ he replied. ‘My friends can get me work. I need to keep on their good sides though, so I must drink with them.’
‘What sort of work? Your ‘friends’ don’t seem to do very much.’
Vass tapped the side of his nose.
‘I can say nothing, yet,’ he told her. ‘I need to sort a few things out first, but be assured, I’ll soon have more money than you’ve ever dreamed of.’
Asphodel turned to the door. Then she turned as she left and said, ‘I’ve never dreamed of money, Vass. Just you.’

Aspholessaria.

At first they passed through the forest Asphodel knew. she had not been far away from Quantissarillishon, but had played in the forest around as she grew up. She knew the little streams and the tall trees. She could tell Vass which ones were the best to climb and which were almost impossible. She laughed as she pointed out one where Liss had got stuck when he climbed up too high. He was there for several hours until his father came and helped him down.
They held hands as they walked, and did not stop even to eat. Asphodel took out some food she had pilfered from her mother’s pantry and they ate as they walked. Vass said they needed to get as far away as possible. Although Asphodel’s parents were away for a few days, Vass was unsure how long Liss’s parents would wait before becoming anxious. Certaily they would not worry until after nightfall, but would they be anxious then when he did not return for the night. He suspected they would. After all, he was their responsibility while staying with them.
The darkness began to creep in and Asphodel shivered.
‘Are you cold?’ asked Vass.
Asphodel shook her head. ‘No, not really,’ she told him. ‘It’s just that the forest seems different at night.’
‘Haven’t you been out in the forest at night before?’
‘My parents are very protective. I’m a girl, after all, and not expected to go adventuring in the forest.’
Vass stopped in a clearing through which a little stream ran.
‘We can stay here for the night,’ he said. ‘We’ll need a fire, though. You get water from the stream while I gather wood.’
When Asphodel got back from the stream, she found Vass cutting the turf in the little clearing to make a circle.
‘What are you doing?’ she asked him.
‘Preparing a hearth for our fire. We can’t risk setting fire to the forest.’
Asphodel sat down and watched with interest. After cutting the turf and setting it aside to replace after they had finished with the fire, Vass picked up a stone from a pile he had collected. They were fairly large and he built a ring around the hearth.
He picked up some dry leaves and placed them in the centre of the hearth before laying some small twigs over the top or them. Once he had everything prepared, he took a small metal box from his pack. When he opened it, he removed, a piece of steel. and a small sharpened piece of flint which he struck against the steel. Inside the box was some tinder and when the sparks from the steel fell onto it, it began to smoulder. Vass then blew gently and, taking a wooden splint, he lit it and applied it to the dry leaves.
‘Asphodel, can you blow gently on the leaves to get them burning while I put out the tinder in the tinderbox and pack it away?’
Asphodel was only too pleased to comply, and as the small twigs caught fire, she fed some slightly larger ones onto the fire. Vass took over then, gradually adding larger pieces of wood until he had a hearty blaze going.
‘There, that should keep us safe tonight,’ he said, sitting back on his heels. ‘Wild animals won’t come near fire.’
Asphodel looked around the clearing, fear showing in her eyes. She had not thought of wild animals, but of course, there would be bears, wolves and wild boar at the least. She realised how unprepared she was for this adventure.
Vass smiled at her. ‘They won’t come near the fire, I promise you,’ he repeated.
‘What if the fire goes out while we’re sleeping?’
‘We must take it in turns to watch it. It’s not like having a full night’s sleep, and we’ll be more tired tomorrow, but it’s necessary. I’d let you sleep, but I need some too.’
He reached over and pulled her to him, kissing her passionately. Asphodel pulled away.
‘What’s wrong? Don’t you want me?’
Asphodel looked at him.
‘I’m here, aren’t I? Would I be here if I didn’t want you?’
‘Well, why are you pulling away?’
‘Firstly, I’m a bit afraid. I’ve never…you know. Then, what if I become pregnant?’
Vass frowned. ‘Surely you knew what would happen if you came away with me? I want us to be married, but there’s no need to wait. We’re not in Quantisarillishon now.’
‘Oh, Vass, I’m worried about the pregnancy thing. I know elves expect youngsters to experiment, and it’s not really frowned on, but illegitimacy is. We’re expected to make sure we don’t get pregnant.’
Vass lay down on his blankets and turned over.
‘Take the first watch,’ he snapped. ‘I’ll relieve you in a bit, and don’t let the fire go out.’
Asphodel’s eyes filled with tears that she quickly brushed away. She was not going to let Vass’s anger upset her. This was their first quarrel, and undoubtedly they would have many more over their long lifetimes. She would get used to it, she determined, and not let it get to her.
After a while, she felt her eyes closing. She stood up and walked around the clearing, gathering some more wood to put on the fire as it seemed to her to be getting low. The walking cleared her head a little, and as she sat down again, Ullin, the silver moon, broke through the clouds above the clearing turning everything silvery. Asphodel smiled. Ullin was full, and seemed to be smiling.
He seems to approve of my running away with Vass, she thought.
Just then, Vass woke and told her to get some sleep. He would tend the fire now.
The next morning, when Asphodel woke, Vass was putting the fire out. He removed the stones by kicking them out of the way. They were still hot. Then Asphodel watched as he replaced the turf he had cut away. Soon it would be difficult to see anyone had lit a fire here.
Vass said little as they ate some stale bread and cheese, not as they walked hand in hand towards what they hoped was the Erian border.
‘Vass, what’s wrong?’ Asphodel asked him after an hour of silent walking.
‘I told you last night. I’m going mad being this near you all night and not being able to make love to you.’
Asphodel sighed. So he was still angry at that. She stopped walking and looked at him.
‘You can wait, Vass, surely. We’ll have all our lives to make love as much as we want once I can get herbs to stop pregnancy.’
Vass looked at her through narrowed eyes. ‘Are you regretting coming away with me?’
Was she? She could turn back now. Perhaps her parents had not come home from Daisy’s yet. and would not know of her escapade If they did know they would be angry, yes. Very angry. She would undoubtedly be punished severely, but they would forgive her. Frishillondor was not too bad. He was quite good looking for a man her father’s age, and he seemed kind. She might get to love him, eventually.
‘Well?’ Vass spoke sharply.
Asphodel looked at him and her stomach did a somersault. This was the man she loved. She had every right to be with him.
‘I left my home and family because I love you, Vass. I would go anywhere to be with you. I regret nothing.’
‘Then why wait for us to make love? You know elves have few babies. We’re not a very fertile species, unlike humans. It would be very unlikely you would become pregnant before we could get married.’
Her grey eyes took on a steely glint. ‘Unlikely isn’t impossible, Vass. My mother had two babies whereas most elves only have one. We are of House Royal, and you know there are twins in the Royal line. We are more fertile than most elves. I’m not risking it.’
Vass relapsed into silence and they continued walking. Then he suddenly turned to her and said, ‘You are a most stubborn girl, Aspholessaria.’ He softened his words with a smile and bent to kiss her gently.
Three days passed as they walked through the forest. There had been no sign of pursuit, nor any dangers from the denizens of the forest, either. Vass had been right about the fire keeping wild beasts away. After these three days, the trees thinned and then they met a track leading westwards. They followed it and soon saw smoke rising from chimneys in a small human village.
‘We must be in Erian,’ exclaimed Vass. ‘At last. Now you can go and seek out those herbs you were talking about.’
‘One track mind,’ laughed Asphodel and she ran ahead into the village.

How will Asphodel and Vass’s relationship progress now they are in human lands? Will their parents find them or will they get married and live happily ever after?

Come back on the first Tuesday of January to find out.

All comments about this story are welcomed. I’ll try to get back to you.

 

 

Aspholessaria part 3.

forest

 

Asphodel left the house, tears streaming down her face. She would go to Vass. He would have a solution to this. She could not, would not marry this man. He was old, in spite of what her father said. It was wrong to force someone to marry against their will. It was one thing if the two people both agreed to the arrangement, but she did not agree. She loved Vass. If she married Frishillondor she would never be able to see Vass again. she could not bear that thought.
She ran down the path leading to where he was staying with his cousin, Liss. It so happened that the two young men were just leaving the house. Vass ran to Asphodel and took her in his arms.
‘Oh, my darling, what’s the matter?’ he said, stroking her long black hair.
Asphodel stopped sobbing now she was in Vass’s arms and leaned her head against his chest.
‘Vass, it’s terrible. Father has arranged a marriage for me with a man who himself is old enough to be my father. I told father I won’t marry him and ran out of the house. He’ll be so angry. He’ll make me marry Frishillondor, I just know it.’
Vass pushed the girl away from him, holding her by her shoulders and looked down into her grey eyes, no longer clear as the usually were. He smiled at her.
‘Asphodel, I swear I won’t let this marriage go ahead. I love you and you love me. It’s right we should be together, and this marriage is all wrong.’
‘But what are we going to do? I know we should be together, Vass, and somehow I’ll make sure we will be. I don’t know how, just yet, but whatever happens, I won’t marry this man.’
Asphodel’s tears had stopped. She clenched her fists pressed her lips together and looked up at Vass. She saw his smile and her heart beat faster. Yes, this was the right man for her, not Frishillondor.
‘You don’t much like being told what to do, do you?’ Vass said.
‘It’s not that,’ replied the girl. ‘What I don’t like is being told to do something I know is wrong, and I won’t do it.’
Vass turned to Liss.
‘Do you think your parents will let Asphodel stay here for tonight?’ he asked his cousin.
Liss shrugged. ‘It might not be easy to persuade them. After all, they would be likely to agree with Asphodel’s parents, that it’s her duty to marry the man they choose for her.’
The three walked through Quantissarillishon thinking and occasionally putting forward ideas. Eventually they decided they would have to lie about why Asphodel wanted to stay with them overnight.
As it began to get dark, the trio made their way back to Liss’s parent’s home. Liss’s mother was preparing the evening meal as they entered.
‘Ah, there you are,’ she greeted them. ‘Did you have a nice walk?’ she turned to Liss.

‘Your father will be home soon, so go and get washed. And you, too, Vass.’ Then she looked at Asphodel.
‘Would you like to stay for the evening meal, Asphodel? If you’re sure your parents won’t mind.’
Asphodel looked at Vass who smiled at his aunt.
‘No, they won’t mind. In fact they won’t even know until Asphodel tells them. They’ve gone away to stay with her sister for a few days.’
‘That’s settled then. You’ll stay to eat with us.’
She returned to chopping up vegetables when she suddenly stopped and, brushing her hair from her eyes, she said, ‘I’ve just had an idea. How long are your parents going to be away for?’
This took Asphodel by surprise. She had not thought this question might be asked.
‘O-Oh, er. I don’t know. Daisy, that’s Dassirrola, my sister, is expecting a baby any day and I think they’ll stay until she’s had it.’
Vass looked at her and raised his eyebrows. Asphodel looked back at him and gave a little nod to say that it was the truth she told about her sister.
‘Oh, I understand that,’ said Liss’s mother. ‘Your mother is so lucky having two of you. That’s rare in elvenkind. Most of us have to make do with one child.’
She picked up her knife again and resumed her chopping before continuing.
‘What I was going to say was; would you like to stay here while your parents are away? It’ll be lonely for you at home by yourself.
Vass almost broke out laughing, and Liss’s jaw nearly dropped to the floor. How easy it had turned out to be after all. No arguing a case for Asphodel to stay after all. His kind-hearted mother had done it for them.
The next morning, Vass took Asphodel out to walk in the forest outside the city.
Once there, he took her hand and said, ‘I hardly slept last night, darling. I was thinking and thinking how we can be together and I came to the conclusion there is only one way. We must run away.’
Asphodel stopped and looked at him. ‘Run away? Run to where? Wherever we go in Rindissillaron they’ll find us.’
‘Not to anywhere in Rindissillaron. This is a big continent. We could go to Erian. They’d not find us there. But we must go quickly. Your parents will be already looking for you. First they’ll think you stayed with Sissi and not worry, but this evening they’ll begin asking. It won’t take them long before they think of looking here. We should go tonight, or at the latest, tomorrow morning.’
Asphodel walked to the edge of a small brook that ran through the forest.
‘Leave Rindissillaron?’
‘Yes.’
‘I’ve never lived anywhere but here in Quantissarillishon.’
‘Then it’ll be an exciting adventure for you. It’s the only way I can think of that we can be together.’
Asphodel turned to face Vass.
‘Then we’ll go. I have a few jewels and a little money. If I can get them without my parents seeing me, then I will. We’ll need money.’
‘I’ve a little money too. Not much, but I can work, and you can read and write so you can get a job as a scribe, I expect. We’ll get along just fine.’
‘I don’t speak Erian, do you?’
Vass laughed. ‘No, but we’re both intelligent people and we learned Elvish, didn’t we? How hard can it be to learn Erian?’
Asphodel laughed and Vass picked her up and spun her round.
‘Here’s to our new life in a new country,’ he said