Category Archives: stories

Extract from my latest work in progress.

I don’t seem to be getting on very well with Book 4 of The Wolves of Vimar. Somehow, life keeps getting in the way. Anyway, it’s currently undergoing critiques from a couple of online critique groups I’m in. As it’s chapter by chapter, and I need to do crits for others before I can post, it’s a long process. Still, we’ll get there. Eventually!

I’m still waiting to hear about my poetry book. It’s been nearly 5 months now, but I hope it won’t be much longer. I’d self-publish it, but as it has pictures, and the formatting of poetry is not straightforward, I’m reluctant to go down that road.

For your delectation, today I’m going to post a bit from Immortal’s Death, Book 4 of the Wolves of Vimar series. Please, remember, though, that this is just the first draft, so might not be perfect. In fact, it’s unlikely to be perfect!

Here Goes.

This is from near the beginning of the book. Thadora was brought up as a thief in the Warren at Hambara, but she was recognised as a daughter to the Duke of Hambara when he saw her remarkable resemblance to his grandmother. He adopted her, thus legitimising her.

Here, Thadora is attending the wedding of her sister, Randa, the duke’s elder daughter, to Prince Almoro. It’s rather long, so my apologies.

Thadora

Outside the great banqueting hall in the palace, Thadora found herself standing next to Sandron, brother to Duke Larrin of Sendolina.

“Have you seen Larrin?” he asked.

She shook her head. “He must be here somewhere. There are so many people it’s easy to miss someone.”

Sandron frowned. “I didn’t see him in the temple, either, but you’re right, he’ll be here somewhere. Allow me to escort you into the banqueting hall, Lady Thadora.” He bowed.

Thadora giggled. “Now you’re Sandron, the courtier. Different from when we first met.”

They had met when a group of bandits, led by Sandron, captured Wolf after they found Sauvern’s Sword. The youngest son of the late Duke of Sendolina amused himself by leading these bandits, but Randa recognised him and he quickly released her and her friends when she promised not to tell his father how he had been amusing himself.

 Youngest sons often found they had little to do, and so long ago they formed a band of mercenaries and called themselves The Red Hawks. 

On Randa’s suggestion, Sandron recruited enough young men to form a new group, also calling themselves The Red Hawks in memory of the band from the past.

Thadora took Sandron’s proffered arm and the pair entered the banqueting hall. 

As they crossed the threshold, Thadora’s shoe caught in the hem of her dress and she staggered, hopping, as she tried to release her shoe without tearing it. “Zol’s balls, I’ve been promising myself I wouldn’t do that.” 

Sandron laughed as he managed to steady her. “Being the Duke of Hambara’s second daughter hasn’t improved your language any, has it? Nor your grace in a dress.”

Thadora pressed her lips together to prevent the swear word that rose to them, this time at Sandron. Instead she simply elbowed him in the ribs.

He groaned and rubbed the sore spot. “Sorry, Lady Thadora.”

Lady Thadora stared daggers at him. “Stop mocking me, Lord Sandron, or it’ll be the worse for you. I won’t always be in a dress.”

He laughed and Thadora joined in.

As the sister of the bride, Thadora was seated at the table next to King Perdillon unable to find words to say to her royal neighbour. 

I must mind my manners. I must mind my manners, she told herself, over and over again.

When the king spoke she thought he sounded so ordinary that she forgot about his royalty. He asked about her adventures and the formation of Wolf, and seemed genuinely interested in her answers.

“So this sword, the one that belonged to King Sauvern, is magical and will be needed soon?”

“Yes. Carthinal found a prophecy. But you know about that. He thinks this Branlow he met in Frelli is the Never-Dying Man, and can only be stopped by using the Sword.”

She looked around the room. The crowd made a continual buzz. How was Fero coping? He never liked crowds, and with Randa marrying someone else, it would be even more difficult.

As her eyes sought her friend, she noticed a couple of spare seats. 

She turned to Perdillon. “Who hasn’t come to the wedding? There are two empty seats next to the Duchess of Eribore.”

The king looked to where she indicated and raised his eyebrows. “I think that’s where my wife put Duke Larrin of Sendolina. I wonder why he’s not here?” He leaned across to Almoro.

“Duke Larrin isn’t here, Almoro. Do we know why?”

Almoro shook his head. “He answered the invitation saying he’d be here. It’s not like him to go against protocol.”

Thadora leaned forward. “Sandron was looking for him, too. He thought his brother should be here.”

“No doubt it’ll sort itself out. There must have been some emergency we’ve not heard about.”

The banquet continued through four more courses, then a messenger came and whispered something in Perdillon’s ear.

The king blanched, stood and left, apologising. 

His wife, Queen Helloria looked up. “What is it, Perdillon?” 

The king told her it was probably nothing, but he had to go and see someone. 

He returned shortly and walked over to where Duke Firbolt of Meridor sat next to his wife. The duke looked unwell. His health had not been the same since the mysterious illness that had killed King Gerim, and many of the dukes. The king bent and whispered something in his ear. The duke immediately stood, said something to his wife, and both hurried out of the room.

Without speaking to the master of ceremonies, who announced the speeches, Perdillon lifted the man’s gavel and banged on the table.

“May I have your attention, ladies and gentlemen.” 

Silence fell as King Perdillon began to speak.

“I apologise to Almoro and Randa for this interruption to their wedding festivities, but there has been a serious event. It seems that the army of Erian has entered our territory. They have taken Meridor.”

A hubbub of voices broke out. Meridor had never been taken in battle until now. People called out asking questions, but the king banged the gavel once more.

“From what I have been told, Meridor capitulated without a fight.” 

Gasps were heard around the gathered crowd. 

Perdillon continued. “We have no idea why the Duke Firbolt’s steward surrendered without a fight. The duke has gone to find out. We also noticed the absence of Duke Larrin of Sendolina. We hope there isn’t a similar problem in that duchy.

“Again, I apologise to Almoro and Randa, but, in view of the situation, I’m calling an immediate meeting in the council room. Would the dukes please attend me there? The rest of you please continue with your meal.” 

The king strode out of the banqueting hall, followed by the dukes. 

Everyone else remained sitting in silence. The joyful occasion had turned sour, and few people wanted to eat anything more. 

Seeing this, Almoro stood. “This has spoiled a happy celebration. I’m sorry. I think we should abandon the meal. You can either leave for your accommodation, or we’ll meet in the ballroom. Thank you all for attending, and for the generous gifts you have given to my wife and me.”

~*~

Thadora spotted Carthinal across the room. His deep blue robe looked startling with his shoulder-length auburn hair, and almost matched his indigo eyes. He had trimmed his beard to a short stubble.

No doubt about it, he’s a handsome man.

Sitting next to him at a low table was his wife, the elf, Yssalithisandra. She had plaited her golden hair and wound it around her head. Her robe was a rich burgundy. She smiled at their daughter, Starralishinara, who played with a stuffed dragon.

Starr, as she was known, had her father’s auburn hair, and her mother’s blue eyes, paler than her father’s.

Thadora made her way over to them, accompanied by Randa and Prince Almoro. The three drew up chairs and sat. 

Sandron approached with the little dragonet, Muldee, sitting on his shoulder. Thadora exclaimed with delight at seeing this small relative of dragons. His iridescent scales gleamed in the light coming through the large windows on the south side of the huge room. They changed colour as he moved.

“You’re here, Muldee.” She tried to put her arms around the creature, but he flew into the air moments before her assault. “I thought you’d gone back to the lake to join your brothers and sisters.”

“I did, for a while, but after the excitement of living with Sandron, it was boring. When I came back, and Sandron told me Randa was getting married, I had to come. I wouldn’t miss the wedding of one of my friends.” He studied Randa. “You look lovely, Randa. But Sandron told me to stay away from the actual wedding. What did he think I’d do?”

Sandron tossed his head back and laughed. “I had no idea what you might do. That’s why I said you weren’t to come to the ceremony.”

Thadora looked around. The ballroom had been decorated in blue and white in a similar way to the great hall. Tables surrounded an open space in the centre of the room. 

I don’t suppose the dancing will take place now. That’s good. I would probably fall over my own feet and end up in a heap, the laughing stock of the whole court.

Thadora glanced towards the door where Queen Helloria entered with three year old Crown Prince Gerim. Dowager Queen Carrolla accompanied her. Seeing Randa and Almoro, they approached.  

The company bowed or curtsied to the two queens, Thadora barely managing to keep her balance as she stifled the swear word that sprang to her lips. If she swore in front of two queens, her father would definitely kill her.

“I am really sorry your wedding has been spoiled.” Queen Helloria shook her head and hugged Prince Gerim tightly. “I hope we can avoid a war with Erian. What’s this Master doing, attacking us? We’ve been at peace for so long.”

Little Prince Gerim squirmed. When the queen released him he ran towards Starr. Yssa and Queen Helloria moved off to discuss the merits of their children. 

Queen Carolla turned to Sandron. “I wondered why your brother wasn’t here. Do you think it’s anything to do with this crisis?”

“I don’t know, Your Majesty,” Sandron replied, “but I think Muldee, here, might be able to help find out.”

“Ah, yes, your little dragonet. I heard…”

Muldee interrupted the queen dowager. “I’m not his little dragonet. I’m my own little dragonet. I’m not a pet to be owned by someone.”

Thadora stifled a grin that Muldee should speak so to a queen, but the monarch smiled.

“My apologies, Muldee. How can you help find out?”

“You might have heard we dragonets are telepathic. We can hear people’s thoughts. Oh, not everybody, and not all the time.” He giggled. “But it’s fun sometimes to listen to the thoughts of people if they don’t know about blocking.”

“Stop chattering, Muldee.” Sandron turned to the queen who had a slight frown on her face. “I apologise, Your Majesty. Muldee has no idea of rank and treats everyone the same. As to hearing your thoughts, he rarely tries, and even if he does, most people are not telepathic.”

The queen smoothed her face and smiled. “What’s your idea about finding out about your brother?”

“I can ask Muldee to go to Sendolina. It will be much better than sending someone on a horse. He can slip in, listen to people’s thoughts and find out what’s going on.”

“What a good idea.” The queen dowager beckoned to Sandron. “Follow me. We must put this to my son.”

When Sandron and the queen dowager left, the other members of Wolf approached. 

Asphodel smoothed the white robes that showed her as a priestess of Sylissa, the goddess of healing. She curtsied to Prince Almoro before sitting next to Randa. 

Thadora watched The Cat as he squirmed in his seat. She understood why the small thief was uncomfortable. Not long ago he had been a wanted man in Bluehaven and had fled to avoid capture. Now he was here in the royal palace in the company of members of the royal family. He ran his fingers through his dark hair and looked everywhere except at the prince and the queen.

Grimmaldo looked at ease in his yellow robes. She liked the young mage. He made her laugh with his sense of  fun. He did not talk much about his family, but she understood he came from Frind, in the far north, and that his family had been well off merchants. 

Many guests sat on chairs assembled around small tables surrounding the dance floor. From what Thadora could hear, most were discussing the missing duke.

Footmen strolled around the room with glasses of wine and fruit juice. 

All the members of Wolf chose to drink fruit juice, although Basalt exclaimed he would have preferred a good glass of dwarf spirits.

Thadora watched Fero as he looked sharply at the dwarf. “Bas, this is not the place for drinking dwarf spirits, nor any other strong drink. You know what happens when you start.”

“And you’ve never got drunk with me, ranger?” He glanced at Randa and Almoro. “I would have thought this was a perfect time for you to get drunk.”

Fero shook his head. “No, friend. It would spoil her day. That I will not do. I will, however, get blind drunk with you tonight. And perhaps tomorrow, too.”

First book in series, FREE

Get a free copy of the first book in 3 of my series.

Vengeance of a Slave

A story set in Roman Britain

The Wolf Pack

An epic fantasy tale

The Stones of Earth and Air

A fantasy story of mystery, adventure and danger

If you get the books, or any of them, I would greatly appreciate a comment on Amazon and/or Goodreads, or anywhere else for that matter, depending on which platform you get the book.

Reviews are most important to authors. They are the main way we get our books known. Just a simple comment on whether you liked the book or not, with a reason is enough.

Muldee, a Dragonet, Small Relative of Dragons.

A small dragon-like creature sitting on a rock. He has two whisker-like protruberances from his chin, and three from behind where his ear might have been.
Two backward facing horns are situated on his head..
His tail ends in an arrow-like form. He has four legs with four talons on each foot, and two bat-like wings, between which, a ridge of spines follows the curve of his backbone. 
His colour  is most impressive. He is not one flat colour, but has mixed red, green, yellow, blue etc. A very pretty creature.
He has a kind eye and looks as if he has a smile on his face.
Image by Homer Manansala from Pixabay

Hi, everybody. My name’s Muldee and I’m a dragonet. Don’t know what one of them is? I’m not surprised. We’re rather rare. *smirks*.

Even most people from Vimar don’t know we exist. By the way, Vimar is the world on which I live.

When those people who call themselves Wolf first saw me and my siblings, they thought we were baby dragons. As if! We may be smaller than our cousins, but we are much superior. Dragons don’t have any psi powers. *wrinkles his nose*. And they are such selfish and vain creatures with no sense of humour.

Nor are they as beautiful as we dragonets, with our iridescent scales. They are just one flat colour. BORING.

Anyway, back to me. Dragonets are born from eggs, like dragons, but our mothers lay them in warm shallow water. (I was born in a lake that I’ve been told is warmed by heat from volcanos.)

My favourite food is fish, but I enjoy eating small mammals and even insects as a change. When I want to catch a fish, I dive into the water from high above, folding my wings back. I rarely miss when I spot one

Catching land creatures is different. I can hardly dive onto a mouse or rat. I’d bang my head something dreadful. *giggles*. So to catch land animals. I use my psi powers. I send a wave of power, a bit like a loud noise, into their heads. It’s usually enough to kill them. If we want to kill something larger, we band together and all send the noise at once. That does the trick.

I love to play. Me and my brothers and sisters had great times, playing in the water and doing acrobatics in the air. I had a great time when Wolf came. That dwarf—Basalt’s his name—has no sense of humour. He was in the water, not very deep, having a wash. His friends had swum out farther, so I decided to have a bit of fun. I dived and charged his legs. Of course, he fell in. *laughs loudly*. He was so cross. *He is unable to stop laughing*.

When they left, I decided to go with them to find some adventure. I learned a lot from reading people’s minds. *grins*. I’m not supposed to, and I always say I don’t, but it’s so much fun. The things people don’t want anyone to know! You’d be amazed at what people think. Most people seem to like me though.

*Jumps in the air and does a barrel-roll, then loops the loop*.

Sometimes I make a servant jump by hiding behind a curtain and making a small object move by itself. I once had a young girl run screaming down the corridor. I think I’ve been the start of a lot of tales of ghosts in some of the places I’ve lived.

I stay with Sandron because he’s fun, too. Did you know he once led a band of bandits? He’s the youngest son of the old Duke of Sendolina, so had nothing to do. He did it for fun. We had good times, he and I, until all this talk of war started.

I might go back to the lake if everyone gets serious. At least my brothers and sisters will still want to play.

V.M.Sang has agreed to give me a bigger role in her latest book. It’s not finished yet, but I’m looking forward to seeing what she does. I told her she should make more of my role in the story.

I hope you’ll read the book when it comes out. Until then, Cheerio.

*Leaps into the air and flaps a few times around the room.*

You feel a scratching in your brain, which seems to turn into words. Or perhaps you’re just imagining it.

Have I been reading your mind while I talked to you? What have I learned that you didn’t want anyone to know? Haha. You’ll never find out!

*Flies out of the window.*

I would love to know what you think of Muldee. Let me know in the comments box, please.

3 different Origins of St Valentine’s Day

I should have posted this yesterday, but I didn’t get round to it. In fact, I’m rather late today, too.

If you’ve been waiting for the post about Muldee, I promise that will be posted next Tuesday.

courtesy of pixabay
  • The easiest possible origin to find is that it dates to possibly three saints, all called Valentine, although two of them might have been the same person.
  • One of the Valentines is said to have defied the edict by Emperor that soldiers may not marry, and secretly married men in the army to their girlfriends, thus linking the saint to romance.
  • The second (who may also be the third) was a bishop, Valentine of Terni.
  • The other (who might have been the same person) was martyred in 270 by Claudius II Gothicus. He was in prison and befriended the jailor’s daughter, possibly healing her blindness. He wrote a letter to her, signing it ‘From your Valentine.’
  • One pagan festival in the Roman era was a fertility festival. It was called Lupercalia and took place in mid-February. Dogs and male goats were sacrificed. Men then took strips of the animals’ skin and slapped women they passed in the street. This was supposed to increase the fertility of the women slapped. Thus it is thought it could be an origin of Valentine’s Day.
  • February was the Celtic festival of Imbolc. It marked the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. It was the time for the new lambs to be born.
  • Here is an extract from Vengeance of a Slave describing the festival of Imbolc.
  • Those of you who are from the US might see a resemblance to Groundhog Day.

Soon it was Imbolc, the time when the young lambs began to be born. The villagers had much preparation to do, for they invited the goddess, Brigid, into their homes to bless them, and they prepared special food for this day. Awena, was delighted when the villagers chose her to help carry the image of Brigid around the village.
She helped to clean the house with enthusiasm, sweeping out all the old rushes and piling them up outside ready to be lit into a bonfire. Ailbert laughed at her enthusiasm saying he had never thought of her as a domestic type.
She stuck her tongue out at him in response. “It’s important everything is ready for Brigid.”
“What about the gods we worshipped in Londinium? Have you forgotten them? Jupiter, Juno, Venus and the rest?”
“They’re gods for the Romans.” She shook her head. “They’ve no use for the Britons. Only if we become Roman Citizens will they care for us, and that’s not going to happen. We’re now Britons and we must worship the gods that care for the Britons.”
She carried on sweeping while Ailbert continued walking towards the sheep pens to see if any lambs yet been born.
He met Madoc on the way and the boy told him in excited tones that one of the ewes had gone into labour and the lamb, or hopefully lambs would arrive very shortly. Ailbert quickened his steps towards the pens in the hope of seeing the actual birth. Being a house slave in Londinium he had never been present at the birth of any of the animals owned by the dominus and domina.
They arrived in time to see the ewe pushing out what turned out to be the first of two lambs. Ailbert frowned. He had not expected blood. The little lamb lay on the ground, wet, and the mother turned to look at him, for it was a male lamb. Ailbert watched as she began to lick him clean. The second lamb was born soon afterwards and she repeated the process. The lambs staggered to their feet and immediately began suckling.
Ailbert smiled. He had witnessed a wonderful thing. New life being brought into the world and he ran off to tell Awena and Gwen the first lambs had been born and Imbolc was due to start.
At sunset that evening, the unwed girls carried the image of Brigid around the village. The villagers had made a crude image of reeds and the girls visited each house in turn, walked three times round it and then asked for admittance for Brigid. Each house opened the door and let the image and girls in. They gave them food and each householder added a decoration to the reed image.
For some weeks before, the women and girls had been busy making Brigid crosses out of reeds, and one hung over the door of each house.
As it was winter still, it soon got dark. Each household put out newly made clothes, and food and drink for the goddess. They also made a bed for her in the house, just in case she decided to visit.
They ate and drank the foods made for this special day, a kind of porridge made from the starch left in the husks of the oats, soaked and left to ferment. It tasted sour to Ailbert and Awena but they ate their share as it would have been discourteous to do otherwise.
The next morning, Gwen looked carefully at the ashes that she had raked smooth the evening before, to see any disturbances that might indicate that Brigid had visited in the night, but they were as smooth as they had been when they all went to bed.
Gwen led the way outside to be met with a frost on the ground and an overcast sky. “Ah! That’s good. A cold, miserable day means that the Cailleach is still asleep and not gathering wood for fires to keep her warm through the next cold spell.” She turned to the young people who frowned and looked at each other. Ailbert shrugged his shoulders.
“Cailliach is winter personified. If today is bright and sunny, then she can come out and look for firewood and so keep herself warm for longer. If it’s cold and miserable, or rainy and stormy, then she’s asleep and will soon run out of firewood, so Brigid can bring the spring sooner.”
They, along with the rest of the village, made their way to the well. Here they walked round it in the direction of the sun and prayed to Brigid to bring health and prosperity. They gave offerings of strips of cloth and a few coins to the goddess.
Singing and dancing followed, as well as eating and drinking, and the day passed quickly, darkness coming early at this season, half-way between the winter solstice and spring equinox. Tired and happy with the prospect of a good season to come, the villagers retired
to their beds.

Thank you for reading. If you want to find out more about Ailbert, you can go to the online store of your choice by clicking the link above, or the book cover in the side bar.

I always enjoy reading your comments, and so please leave any in the comments box.

an excerpt from Jovinda and Noli a new release

Have you ever wondered what happened before a story begins? I am releasing a number of novellas that tell the story before the story. The first one is the very beginning and tells how the parents of Carthinal, in The Wolves of Vimar Series met and fell in love.

This novella is now released and can be bought from Amazon. It is available in ebook format and paperback (including pocket book and large print).

Click the book cover to go to Amazon where you are.

Here’s the blurb.

At sixteen years of age, Jovinda is to be presented to the Royal Family. She fantasizes about catching the eye of Prince Gerim and becoming Queen, but her fantasies evaporate when she meets a young elf called Noli.

The pair fall in love, but parental opposition, mainly because of their different lifespans, leads them to meet in secret, despite warnings of severe repercussions from Jovinda’s family.

But can the young lovers overcome the opposition of their parents?

And to whet your appetite, here is an excerpt from the book.

Jovinda is attending her first ever ball and banquet at the royal palace in Aspirilla. She is to be presented to the King and his family, and she is very excited about meeting the Crown Prince, who is almost the same age as her. She has dreams of romance.

The Young Lovers

Jovinda and her parents stood at the top of the stairs leading down to the reception room in the Palace. Jovinda scanned the room looking for Prince Gerim. The prince was not quite sixteen, but would be at such an important banquet as the heir to the throne. She frowned slightly as she noticed a young elf watching her as she descended the stairs.

Ellire had decided the best style for her dress for the banquet would be, not like the elaborate dresses they saw hanging in Madame Frimb’s workroom, but a simple style.

Jovinda saw the green velvet fabric and fell in love with the colour. Ellire agreed it would look good on her, and then went to discuss a style with Madame Frimb. The dress she now wore had a high neckline with small pearl buttons sewn around it. The buttons continued down the centre of the otherwise plain bodice with sleeves that stopped at her elbow. They also had pearl buttons around the cuffs. The skirt flared from her waist giving room for her feet to move when dancing, and more pearl buttons graced the hem. She wore small pearl drops in her ears and a white orchid in her hair.

The family walked down the stairs as a butler announced them. Jovinda stared around. The stairs descended from the balcony where they had entered, and flared out towards the bottom. A red carpet ran down the centre. Large floor to ceiling windows to her right opened onto the Palace gardens, and doors carved with vines and fruits stood open on the opposite side. Torches in sconces lit the room, and glinted on the gold-leaf that covered the cornice. More gold covered a few chairs scattered around for those unable to stand for long, and at the opposite end of the room was a dais with two thrones, again, covered in gold leaf.

A waiter brought a tray of drinks. Jovinda took a glass of Perimo, a sparkling wine from the islands, as she chatted with many of her parents’ friends and acquaintances, feeling very grown up.

Suddenly, a horn sounded. Everyone stopped talking and looked towards the stairs. The Royal Family entered and made their way through the crowd to the dais. As they passed, people bowed their heads or curtseyed. Once the King and Queen settled onto their thrones, the butler announced the first of the young people to be presented.
As it was her first social occasion, Jovinda was one of those young people.

When the butler called her name, she looked at her father who mouthed “Go on, Jo”.

Her mother gave her a little push to start her on her way.

She took a deep breath to try to calm her racing heart, and ascended the dais where she curtseyed to the King and Queen.

The King smiled and his eyes twinkled. “We are delighted to meet you, Jovinda. Enjoy the occasion. There’s nothing quite like your first ball.”
Then she moved on. Prince Gerim smiled at her and shook her hand.

“Pleased to meet you, Miss Jovinda.”

Jovinda curtseyed. He’s quite good-looking. I wonder if I can attract his attention? He may even ask me to dance. I wonder what kind of girls he likes?

The call came for everyone to go into the banqueting hall and be seated. Jovinda was surprised to be seated well away from her parents. She found herself sitting between a young man she knew, whose father was the head of the leatherworkers’ guild, and a handsome young elf—the very same elf she had seen watching her as she descended the stairs. She drew her eyebrows together.

The elf turned to her and asked her name.

“Jovinda. What’s yours?”

He laughed. “I doubt you’d be able to pronounce it.” His smile lit up his deep blue eyes.

“Try me.”

“Well, it’s Nolimissalloran, but you can call me Noli. All my friends do.”
Jovinda looked at the elf. He’s very handsome.

His extraordinary eyes fascinated her. They were slanting, like those of all elves, but it was their colour that attracted her attention. They were a deep blue. Much deeper than any eyes she had ever seen before. She no longer felt an interest in capturing the attention of Prince Gerim.

After the banquet, the king announced that the ball would commence in thirty minutes in the ballroom. Everyone left the tables and stood around in groups talking.

As they passed through the double doors, Jovinda’s mouth fell open. She would have stopped in her tracks if Noli had not been urging her forward.

When the music began, people started to move toward it. Noli held out his arm to Jovinda, beating the young man who had sat on her other side at the banquet. She took it, blushing, and the pair strolled into the ballroom.

The chandeliers hanging from the ceiling cast dancing lights around the room as the candles flickered in the currents of air. Everywhere she looked she saw gold leaf. On the carving on the dais, on the thrones for the king and queen, on the urns in niches on the walls.

A delicate blue paint covered the walls,on which were painted scenes of dancing couples, The ceiling was painted a deeper blue with stars covering it.

The quartet on the raised dais was playing a jolly tune and people were beginning to drift onto the dance floor.

“May I have this first dance?” Noli bowed to Jovinda. She nodded her assent.

He swept her into his arms and whirled her around the floor. Noli was an excellent dancer and she found herself dancing better than she had ever done before. He was so easy to follow.

After the dance Noli escorted her to a seat at a small table occupied by her parents. They were sitting with Salor and her parents. He bowed and drifted off towards a group of elves.

Jovinda watched him go. He bowed to one of the young female elves and escorted her onto the dance floor.

“Jo.” It was her mother speaking. “Jo, Krombo is asking you to dance. What’s wrong with you?”

“Oh! Sorry, Krombo.” She rose and they joined the dancing couples.

A constant stream of young men came to dance with Jovinda. Some danced well, but some were clumsy. None danced as well as Noli. She kept looking around to see with whom the young elf was dancing.

Does he like her better than he likes me?

This thought ran through her head over and over again whenever Noli danced with another young woman. All thoughts of the Prince fled as she watched the handsome elf.

He asked her to dance again before leaving her once more to dance with others. But he danced with her more than anyone else, and danced the last dance with her.

All too soon the evening ended and Jovinda and her parents took a carriage back to The Swan in Flight. They were leaving the next morning for the ferry back to Bluehaven. Jovinda found herself hoping she would see Noli again. After all, if he stayed with the delegation, then he would be based in Bluehaven. She smiled.

“What are you grinning at?” her father asked her.

“Oh, nothing. Only that I had a really good time this evening.”

To go to Amazon where you are, click here.

I would be interested to know what you think of this extract. Please enter you comments in the comments box.
And if you feel like reblogging, please feel free to do so.

If you read this book, please consider leaving a review. Reviews are important to authors. There are many millions of books published and reviews are the main way the books get visibility. It needn’t be a long review. Just simply whether you liked it or not, and why.

The promises of dragons a short story

I wrote this story in response to a picture prompt, but I’ve lost the picture, and can’t remember who posted it.

The picture showed a wizard standing on a rock in the mountains, and a dragon breathing fire towards him. this is the story I wrote.

I have considered the possibility of expanding it into a novel or novella. I like the title, and think it’s too good to waste! What do you think of the idea? Let me know in the comments box, please.

The Promises of Dragons

It suddenly appeared one day and took a cow from the field.

A week later, dark wings blotted out the summer sun. The farmer looked up and saw an enormous shape gliding overhead. A dragon! He watched, cowering behind a large tree.

The dragon swooped down and carried off another cow.

As soon as the creature disappeared towards the distant mountains he ran as fast as he could to his home.

“What? You say a dragon is stealing our cows?” His wife was incredulous. “They‘re supposed to be extinct, aren’t they?”

“It was a dragon. A huge beast with horns on its head, leathery wings and reddish-brown scales. It was a dragon for sure.”

“Then you must go and tell the village council. They must do something about it. We can’t have dragons taking all our cows,” his wife exclaimed.

“I’m not sure they’ll believe me. Anyway, what can they do?”

“Nevertheless you must go. Leave straight after we’ve eaten. I can see to things here until you get back.”

The farmer strode resolutely into the village that afternoon and made for the home of the leader of the council. When he heard the farmer’s tale, he called an emergency council meeting.

Once all the council members were assembled he turned to the farmer.
“Now tell the council what you told me.”

The farmer bowed to the council. “A dragon has been stealing my cows. I’ve lost three over the last three weeks. At first, I thought is was rustlers, although I did wonder why they were taking them one at a time.”

“It could have been a wolf pack, or some other predator.” The leader of the council looked around his colleagues and grinned.

“No. I thought that at first.” The farmer shook his head “But in that case there should have been blood and bones at the very least. The cows just vanished without a trace.”

“Did you search for remains?” one councillor asked.

The farmer nodded. “ I looked everywhere. There was nothing. Then I decided to wait near the field where I keep the cows. It was then I saw the dragon.”

“You are certain you saw a dragon? Most experts say they’re extinct,” the leader of the council said.

“It was a dragon. I can’t be mistaken about that!”

Another councillor asked, “It was in the sky, against the sun. Could it have been a cloud?”

“And clouds swoop down and steal cattle?”

The members of the council asked more questions but eventually they were convinced–at least enough of them to agree to send a troop of volunteer guardsmen to investigate, and to kill the beast, if it turned out it were truly a dragon.

Two days later the volunteers set off to track down the mythical beast.
They crossed the plain towards the mountains in the direction the farmer told the council the dragon had gone. It took a full day to get to the base of the mountains and they made camp when they arrived. The men were in good spirits. Searching for an extinct creature was a bit of a lark. They were mostly young men who volunteered and not one of them believed the story the farmer had told.

“An old man, going senile and seeing things,” one said.

“Or perhaps his eyes are going. It must have been a cloud. I’ve seen clouds in the shape of all sorts of things,” another said.

“What about the cows that vanished?” asked a third.

“Rustlers, as the old man suggested himself,” the first volunteer told him.

They all laughed at the foolishness of old men.

The next few days they spent climbing the mountains. They trudged ever higher, but the path stretched before them in a never-ending ribbon. The peaks soared high above them, wreathed in snow and clouds. Each footfall seemed to make little difference to their progress. Still the mountains grew above them. and as they got higher and higher some of them began to wonder why they were here on this futile search.

“Where are we supposed to look?” said a young red-headed man, little more than a boy, really.

The others shook their heads, then one of them, older than the others, said, “I’ve heard dragons live in caves”.

“Hey, I used to play in these mountains when I was a kid,“ another said. “We lived high up and we played in some caves. Perhaps we should look there.”

He led the troop in the direction of the caves he remembered.

After another day of weary climbing, their breath coming fast, and hearts beating ever more quickly, they saw dark openings in a cliff ahead. They stopped and had a brief discussion.

None of them believed in the dragon, but the oldest man said, “We ought to be careful, ‘just in case’. There might be bears in the caves.”

Later that afternoon, just as they were about to set off up the mountainside to the caves they heard a strange noise as though a large flock of bats were flying overhead, or a tanner was shaking out a piece of leather. A flapping sound like wings, but not feathery wings like a bird. More like what they thought of as …dragon wings. The sunlight disappeared momentarily and as they looked up, they saw what could only be a dragon, flying towards the largest of the cave openings.

“By all that’s holy,” breathed the leader of the group. “The old man was right. It is a dragon. Where has it come from? It can’t possibly exist. They were extinct hundreds of years ago, yet here it is.”

“Evidently the scientists were wrong. They’re not extinct. Some must have survived in the depths of the mountains where no one goes,” the oldest man said, standing beside the leader and shielding his eyes as he watched the beast enter the cave.

“We need to wait until it leaves.” The leader frowned as he peered toward the cave where the dragon had gone.

A full day passed before the creature left again. They took their opportunity.

“Aren’t dragons supposed to have hoards of gold and other stuff?” one man asked, rubbing his hands together. “If we find its treasure, we’ll all be rich men. We’ll be able to court any girl we want, and buy farms, but have someone else to work them. We’ll never need to toil in the fields or factories again.”

They all nodded and laughed at the idea of all those riches, but when the dragon left the next morning, the reality hit them. They would need to go into the cave to get the treasure. The little group of young men crept towards the cave mouth, keeping an eye on the sky above, and ears open for the sound of leathery wings.

The stench of dragon hit them as they neared the cave. It was a sickly, sweet smell with hints of sourness in it. They held their noses. Around the mouth of the cave lay bones from large animals. Many were obviously deer, but there were sheep and cow bones there too.
As they neared the lair the leader asked for a volunteer to go into the cave to look. These otherwise brave young men looked at each other, eyes wide and hearts pounding. What happened if the dragon returned while they were in the cave?

Then one man stepped forward. He entered slowly and with some trepidation and lit his torch, for it was dark inside. The smell was even worse here and at first he thought he might be sick, but he wrapped a rag around his nose and mouth. That made it a bit more bearable. A little way into the cave he stumbled over a smooth, rounded object. He lifted his torch and saw—an egg! Not just one egg, but ten. He sprinted out of the cave and reported what he had seen.

They went in and smashed the eggs. Even though they searched right to the back of the cave, no treasure could be found. The leader said they should take some of the egg shards to prove there was a real dragon in the mountains.

After smashing the eggs and destroying the threat of ten more dragons rampaging through the land they began the decent to the plain.

~~ When Gulineran returned to her cave and found her smashed eggs the roar of her anguish made the mountains themselves tremble. She determined to take revenge. First she looked for the culprits. She saw them like ants, trekking down the mountainside. Flying over them, she burned every last one to a crisp with her flaming breath. Her anger and sorrow still not appeased, she swept down and breathed flame onto the hapless village. The cottages burned like tinder. Many lost their lives. Those who survived crowded into the stone-built village hall. ~~

The leader of the council stood before the surviving villagers. His eyes raked the gathered people, and burned with tears. So many dead. And all those young men who did not return. The dragon must have incinerated them, too. He held his hand up for silence.

“We must destroy this pest,” he told them, over the sobbing of the people.

“Who is going to tackle a creature who can do such things?” a voice called from the back.

“And most of our brave young men are dead. There’s no one here who can fight, even if we weren’t facing a dragon,” someone else called.

A heated debate ensued, but in the end they decided to send for help to the nearby wizards, thinking perhaps magic would be able to destroy this dragon.

The message took a week to get to the wizards’ college, but eventually a message came back. The leader of the council called all the surviving villagers into the council chambers where he read the reply.

“We are very sorry, and we sympathise with your problem, but we cannot spare anyone at the moment. We are far too busy.”

There was pandemonium in the hall, but then, the door opened and a wizard entered. The crowd immediately became silent.

The wizard stood before them and began to speak. “I do not agree with my colleagues, I cannot stand by and watch a dragon decimate your village. Believe me, it won’t be the last visit you have from her.” His eyes blazed as he spoke. “I’ve made a study of dragons. You could say they’re my speciality. I have special knowledge not many others have. I am prepared to help you with your problem.”

He was a young man by the name of Oni. Oni talked to the council, and promised to do something about the dragon. The council accepted his offer and promised him great rewards if he could manage to get rid of the great beast that was terrorising them.

Oni walked out of the village and into the mountains. He followed the path the young men had taken until he stood near the cave, Then he called. Within seconds the dragon rushed out ready for battle. She breathed flame. The flames washed over Oni. Gulineran expected to see a dead wizard when her fire died away, but Oni was left standing and very much alive. She looked into his eyes.

“Ah.” Oni sighed. “I’ve not seen such beauty in two hundred years.”

“How can a human talk of hundreds of years?” Gulineran asked. “Your lives aren’t that long.”

“No, but dragons live centuries. You’re the first female dragon I’ve seen in more than three.”

His skin began to change, turning a rich, deep red and he grew and rippled, smooth skin turned into scales and horns sprouted from his head. His shoulder blades burst from his skin and he folded a pair of wings along his back. A handsome male red dragon stood before her. “Will you accept me as your mate?” Oni asked.

When Gulineran accepted Oni’s offer he changed back to human form and returned to the village. There he told the villagers of his encounter with the dragon.

“I used magic to charm her and I have managed to get her to agree not to attack the village nor take any cattle. She will live on the wild creatures of the mountains.”

The council offered him gold, but he refused saying, “I have everything I need now. Indeed, everything I ever wanted.”

When he returned to Gulineranm he told her of his promise to the villagers.

“Oh, Oni.” Gulineran answered, smiling. “Don’t they know not to trust the promises of dragons?”

Some thoughts on Covid 19, and a FREE offer

Just a pretty picture to cheer you up.

It has been reported that the Government of the UK is considering telling all over 70s to stay at home for the next 4 months. What the…?

I also heard, but haven’t had it confirmed (so it might be fake news) that any elderly people found out will be fined.

Are we now in a police state, and with an autocratic government? How can a democratic (supposedly) government even consider this? ‘For their protection’, they are saying. Putting innocent people under house arrest, simply for having been born before 1950 is NOT on.

Can you even think what it will be like to have to stay in your house for 4 months, not seeing anyone but the people you live with—or in many cases, alone?

Receiving food by the various supermarket delivery services is not an option for many. Some do not have access to a computer. Also, due to people panic-buying, it’s not easy to get the deliveries. My daughter couldn’t get her usual delivery due to increased demand.

And I just read some comment, that has made me incandescent with rage. Someone posted ‘Good. 4 months without stupid old gits clogging up the roads…’ I can’t remember the exact quote, and can’t find it again. (I did flag it, so it might have been taken down.

On a lighter note, though—if you do either have to, or decide to, self-isolate, there are books to read.

From today, you can get Book 2 of Elemental Worlds, The Stones of Fire and Water as a FREE e-book to help you pass the time. It is FREE from today until 19th March, so don’t miss this opportunity. Click here or on the cover in the sidebar.

If you would like to also buy Book 1, The Stones of Earth and Air, you can get it for £1.99 by clicking here.

Please leave a comment in the comments box if you have anything to say, and feel free to reblog this.

If you would like to receive my quarterly newsletter, and information about new releases and offers, click the JOIN button in the left-hand sidebar, or click here

A catch up on my #writing and an #offer.

I’ve been working on both the next book of The Wolves of Vimar series. It’s book 4, and will be called Immortal’s Death.

It will follow on after the friends, who call themselves Wolf, have discovered disquieting things about the Master of Erian and his designs on the land of Grosmer.

Duke Larrin of Sendolina has been missing, and all contact with Sendolina lost. The friends, who call themselves Wolf, send the little dragonet, Muldee, to find out what has happened.

When he returns with the news that Duke Larrin has been imprisoned in his own castle, five of them set off to rescue him.

Meanwhile, there have been riots in Hambara, and Thadora is dispached to find out what is happening. She finds the populace starving because there are no jobs, the richer people, who, by and large provide the jobs, having left in the riots.

I am about half-way through at the moment, and hope to get it finished in the next few months, Then I need to submit it to Next Chapter. It will be some time before it’s released.

In the meantime, I’ve submitted a prequel to the publisher, and am waiting for the next step. It’s the story of the parents of Carthinal, the protagonist in The Wolves of Vimar. I am looking forward to that being released, but as yet have no idea when that will be. I’ve also finished the story of Carthinal’s early life. Just a bit more editing, then I’ll submit that to Next Chapter.

Wolf Moon, Book 3, will be FREE in ebook format from tomorrow, 8th February until Wednesday 12th February. Get your copy soon or you’ll miss the opportunity. If you’ve not read the first two books, you can buy them at the same time by clicking on the covers in the sidebar.

Thank you for reading. Please add a comment in the comments box.

A Writer's Year

As it’s my last post of 2019, I thought I’d sum up my writing year.

This year I’ve been quite busy. I decided I’d write some prequels to my Wolves of Vimar series, some of which I serialised here. I originally thought I’d write them as short stories, but they have grown into novellas.

I wrote the back stories of Asphodel, and Kimi and Davrael. When I decided to submit them to Next Chapter, the publisher who published The Wolves of Vimar series as far as it’s got, I thought I should begin with the story of how Carthinal came into being. I told the tale of his parents. It’s a rather tragic story. I’ve now submitted it to Next Chapter, and am waiting for their next move.

I finished Vengeance of a Slave, my very first Historical Novel, submitted it and it is now live on Amazon. (http://mybook.to/voas/ ) It was released on Boxing Day. If any of you decide to purchase and read it, I would be grateful if you could post a review.

Researching this book, and the next one, Jealousy of a Viking, took a lot of time. Although some research is needed, even for fantasy novels, to get the history right, and the background is much more exacting. This book is not yet ready for publishing. It’s needs much more polishing before I submit it.

Earlier in the year I lost a lot of Book 4 of The Wolves of Vimar, and I searched all my places on my computer and also online. I felt demoralised by this, having lost several chapters. Then, out of the blue, I looked in one cloud storage I’d not looked in. In fact, I didn’t know I’d stored anything there, but there it was! Hooray!

I started working on it again, but it’s coming on rather slowly. This is because I started working on the backstory of Carthinal from The Wolves. This novella isn’t yet ready for submitting to Next Chapter. In fact it’s not quite finished, but I hope I’ll get it done shortly after the New Year. Then I can finish Book 4, probably to be called Immortal’s Death.

Next year I hope to release more of the novellas—Davrael and Kimi and Asphodel. I also hope to get Jealousy of a Viking released and finish Immortal’s Death. Quite a big task to get it all done.

I also have another fantasy novel that I started a couple of years ago that I want to finish, then there’s the on-going saga of the descendants of Adelbehrt from Vengeance of a Slave and Jealousy of a Viking. The next one is to be in Britain just after William the Conqueror beat Harold at the Battle of Hastings. Not sure of a title yet.

So that’s my year.

Thank you for following my blog, and to those of you who bought my books, a big thanks. I would be grateful for any reviews. They are most helpful, not only to me, but also to potential readers so they can tell if the book is for them.

You can purchase any of the books by clicking on the cover in the sidebar.

Please leave a comment in the comments box. I love to hear your thoughts.