8 laws of Foreshadowing (shared from Writer’s circle)

Photo post by @KawaneeHamilton.

Source: 8 laws of Foreshadowing (shared from Writer’s circle)

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Yeti. The Wolf Pack finds help from an unexpected source.

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YETI

She awoke with the feeling that something was not quite as it should be. Slowly, as she came awake, she realised that she was warm. Not only that, but she felt dry. Blankets and furs were heaped over her, and when she opened her eyes, she saw a flickering orange light. Someone had lit a fire. She remembered drifting off to sleep in the snow. She had remembered someone in a distant life telling her that it you could easyly drift off to sleep in the snow and die of exposure. She had felt that it was the easiest thing to do, out in the cold and wet. It had been pleasant, that drifting into sleep and death. Maybe she had in fact died and she was in the afterlife? Then Thadora saw rock around her. Ahh! She was in a cave.
‘I ’spect th’ others found th’ cave an’ carried me ’ere,’ she thought, ‘Though where they found th’ wood ter light a flippin’ fire I can’t imagine. Anyway, thanks, dudes.’
She turned to look to her left. She saw the fire and what looked like several other mounds of fur. Sounds of breathing and occasional snores came from them. The others, she surmised. One of the mounds stirred slightly. She saw a pair of light blue eyes and a wisp of silvery blonde hair. Randa. Randa made a shushing shape with her mouth. Thadora frowned. Why must she remain quiet? She could smell cooking now as her senses returned. Who was cooking if the others still slept?
She heard the sound of footsteps approaching the fire. Then an arm reached over her and added some logs to the blaze. Her heart began to beat rapidly. The hand seemed far too large for human, elf or dwarf; and then she noticed the arm attached to the hand. Long, snow-white hair covered it. At first, she thought it a garment, but soon realised it was part of the creature.
Thadora tried her best not to scream, but a small squeak escaped her. She shut her eyes tightly. The little girl in her told her to do this. If she could not see these creatures, they could not see her. It was not rational, but she was too frightened to be rational. She heard Fero’s voice in her head. “Savage beasts. Eat human, elf and dwarf flesh…” They had been caught by Yeti.
The snow-white yeti made a harsh grunting noise of several sounds. It moved away, and another one took its place, this time, Thadora saw when she ventured a peek through tightly squeezed eyelids, a more greyish colour. The creature seemed about nine feet tall and covered head to foot in grey hair. Hair almost obscured its face, but a pair of black eyes in which no whites could be seen gleamed from above a small black nose and a lipless mouth. Then she squeaked again, this time in surprise for the yeti spoke. It spoke Grosmerian, very badly and very slowly and obviously found it difficult to form the words, but the creature could just be understood.
‘You wake,’ it said. ‘You slep’ long. Much days. Eat food. You be better.’
With that, it put some meat down in front of Thadora. Her mouth watered, and her stomach growled, but she did not take the food.
‘Oh no,’ she said. ‘No way. I got no idea what this is, man.’
‘You eat. You need strong. This, bird from mountains. Good eat. Good for cold and warm folk.’
Thadora puzzled over the speech. ‘You mean I should eat this—bird from th’ mountains. That it’s good ter eat fer both cold and warm folk? I don’t get “cold and warm” folk!’
‘You from warm. Die in cold. We from cold. Die in warm.’
She could not resist the meat put in front of her any longer. She picked it up and took a large bite. It burned her mouth and she almost spat it out. She breathed cool air in through her mouth over the meat to cool it. The yeti made a grunting noise, almost like a laugh. The meat was delicious. Like a cross between chicken and pork.
The yeti wandered away saying, ‘I go. Too hot here. Br’ng food for rest warm folk.’
When it had disappeared, Randa rose onto one elbow. ‘Thadora,’ she hissed, ‘The food may be poisoned or drugged. You shouldn’t eat it.’
‘Randa, I don’t give a toss. I’m bleedin’ starvin’. If I’m gonna be killed by these bastards, then I’ll die wi’ a full belly.’
The greyish yeti returned with more food, which it put on the ground.
‘Not poison or drug. You must strong. Not kill. Why you think kill?’ This last it said to Randa.
There were movements from several of the other mounds of furs as the others came awake. The yeti turned its head and looked at the emerging people.
‘Who you chief?’ it said.
Carthinal started to stand and then quickly lay down again as he realised that he was naked under the furs, as indeed were all the others. The yeti curled back its lips in what Thadora supposed was a smile, but it was rather fearsome, since it showed its long canine teeth.
‘You warm more quick with no close,’ it said. ‘Have close when leave.’
Carthinal looked embarrassed, but spoke to the creature. ‘I am the leader of the group. My name is Carthinal.’ He spoke slowly and clearly to the yeti. ‘What do you want with us?’
‘I Grnff.’ The yeti pointed to itself. Grnff was obviously its name. ‘Mate she called Zplon. She beautiful, no?’
He was proud of his mate, who lurked in the cave entrance. His black eyes gleamed in the firelight as he looked lovingly towards her. She lowered her gaze and then looked at Grnff through her lashes in a very human and coquettish way, giving him a savage “smile”.
Grnff had trouble with Carthinal’s name. ‘Crthnal,’ he repeated, slowly. ‘Crthnal.’
Carthinal looked at the yeti. Fero had called these creatures “beasts,” but they were obviously more than beasts. Beasts did not light fires and talk. They would have to move with care.
‘We would feel better with our clothes. We can then get up and move around.’
‘Why not up with no close?’ asked Grnff, frowning. ‘Warm here. No need close.’
Carthinal sighed. He could not begin to try to explain the customs and taboos of the “warm folk” to a yeti. Asphodel helped him out. She had woken during this exchange.
‘In the culture of the warm folk,’ she said, ‘it is taboo for members of the opposite sex to see each other unclothed unless they are mated.’
‘Strange custom,’ said Grnff, musingly, then added, ‘Grnff giv close.’
He went to the side of the cave and rummaged among some furs. Then he brought their clothes, armour and weapons, and also some furs. ‘Fur better than cold le’ther and m’tal. Why you wear cold le’ther and m’tal?’
‘It helps to protect us from attack.’
‘Hmmm. But not good in cold. You eat. Talk after when you str’ng.’
Basalt whispered something to Carthinal.
‘I think it’s all right, Basalt. We’ll have to eat something anyway. I don’t see we have a choice. Anyway, if they wanted us dead, we wouldn’t be discussing whether to eat or not to eat. We’ve been at their mercy for quite a while, I think, and they’ve not harmed us at all. Quite the contrary, in fact. I rather think we’d have died out there in the blizzard if it were not for these…’ he hesitated, trying to find the right word, ‘These people.’ He had decided the Yeti were in fact people rather than beasts.

The members of Wolf ate their meal in silence. They were all now awake. The cave smelt slightly of yeti, but it was not too unpleasant, and not enough to put them off the delicious food. While they were eating, they speculated on their position.
‘It seems that reports of these creatures was inaccurate,’ observed Fero. ‘The little I’ve heard, they were said to be animals, but these obviously have speech and fire, so they cannot count as beasts. I’d say they need to be re-classified as being amongst the sentient races of Vimar.’
‘They don’t seem hostile either,’ put in Kimi. ‘Grnff seems friendly, and I think his mate is just rather wary of us.’
‘Now we’ve got our clothes back, I suggest we dress,’ Carthinal said. ‘As long as we’re here in the cave with the fire I think we can dispense with armour and wear these furs. Grnff was right about armour not being good to keep out the cold.’
‘Why’s he doing this? What’s in it for him?’ asked Thadora.
‘Let’s ask him when we’re dressed,’ replied Carthinal.
They agreed that the four men would dress first, and then they would go outside to see Grnff while the girls dressed. They soon accomplished this, and the eight travellers sat just inside the cave mouth with Grnff and his mate, Zplon.
‘Now, Grnff. Tell us why you rescued us and fed us. Never has it been known before for yeti, that is cold folk, to help warm folk as far as we know,’ Carthinal began the conversation.
‘Man come. Man speak Grnff language. Strange. Never warm folk speak Grnff language. Man magic. Cold folk no magic. Man say you come. Man say you need help. Man say Grnff and Zplon help. Man say you called Wolf. Man say you eight warm folk. Man say chief is magic man too. Magic man have red hair. Man say four female, four male, one male small with hair on face like cold folk. Man say one female have hair colour of cold folk. One female have red hair, one black hair. Man say one male very dark and big for warm folk. We look. We find near dead. You cold. Make fire. Wrap in fur. You thaw like icicle.’
They all felt as though someone had dropped cold water down their backs as shivers ran up and down their spines at this. Who was this strange man who knew all about them, and how did he know they were going to need help in the snow? Carthinal asked a question that made it even stranger.
‘When did this man come?’
‘Many darkness ago. We not count time. Man here in very cold time. Man here just before light is shortest.’
‘He came before the winter solstice? But that’s impossible! We hadn’t even met then. In fact, that was even before the flood on the Brundella!’ exclaimed Randa. ‘You and Carthinal had not even left Bluehaven, Asphodel!’
‘How you learn speak Grosmerian?’ Davrael asked.
‘Man teach. Man say Grnff need to speak with you or you ‘fraid.’
‘That’s the best crash course in a language I’ve ever seen,’ commented Basalt. ‘It took me months to get to the stage that Grnff is at. How did he do it?’
‘Grnff say. Man magic. Man teach by magic. And Grnff very clever. Quick to learn, man say.’ He puffed himself up with pleasure at relating the man’s words.
Asphodel touched Carthinal’s arm. He turned, heart beating wildly at her soft touch.
‘There is more here than meets the eye, Carthinal,’ she said. ‘No one could possibly have known we were coming here as far away as the winter solstice. For Sylissa’s sake, we didn’t even know ourselves. Someone described us to Grnff before we’d even met!’
‘The description could be after the event. After all, Grnff here has seen us and could have put in our descriptions himself to make a mystery and win our confidence,’ pointed out Basalt, ‘and as to speaking Grosmerian, he could have learned it at any time in the past from any passing traveller.’
‘True enough, all you said, Basalt, my friend. Just one thing I’d like to see you explain,’ Fero said. ‘How did he know we’ve called ourselves “Wolf.”?’
‘We-el,’ Basalt considered, ‘That is a bit of a problem.’
‘One o’ us could ’ave talked in our sleep,’ suggested Thadora.
‘Yes, I suppose we could have, but I prefer to think that we are being watched and guided by the gods,’ Asphodel said. ‘What did the man look like, Grnff?’ she asked, turning to the yeti.
‘He look like other warm folk. He not tall, not small. Him close have many p’kets and ink m’rks on. Him h’ve long feather in p’ket. He use to m’ke marks on white stuff him c’ll paper.’
‘Sounds a bit like the man in my dream.’
Kimi then butted in. ‘Also the man who married us in the glade on our way to Hambara.’
They left theproblem unsolved, as the group continued to talk to Grnff. The fact of the matter remained that, for whatever his reasons, man or not, Grnff had saved their lives, and for that they were in his debt. They were not all completely without suspicions. They could, as Fero pointed out later, be being fattened up for later killing and eating, a thought that Thadora did not want to think about at all. On the other hand, they had been given their weapons and armour back. Not something anyone would do if they wanted to kill you. They decided to play the whole thing by ear.
Grnff told them that he would show them the way to their destination. “The man” had told him where to take them, apparently. He insisted that they were not yet ready for the journey and the dangers they would encounter once there, and they must continue to rest and eat. He and Zplon found food and cooked it for them. How they managed to find it in the wintry conditions existing outside the cave, the others could not guess. Certainly it seemed bleak up in the mountains, but they managed to find meat and enough fresh edible vegetation to make the travellers begin to feel strong and healthy.
During this time, Thadora seemed to strike up a strange rapport with Grnff.  He showed her how his long hair covered an undercoat of soft fur. He also confided in her that Zplon was pregnant.
‘She have cubs in warm time. Soon go to birthing place. Cold folk have two cubs one time,’ he told her. ‘Many cubs not live. Life hard in mountains. Cold folk have hunger. Cold folk have enemies who eat them. Animals. Some warm folk kill cold folk. Call us beasts. Say we savage and a danger. We stay away from warm folk. But Grnff like you, Red Cub. You friends not bad too.’
‘You’re a real cool dude, too, Grnff,’ Thadora told him.
The yeti frowned, not understanding. Basalt translated for him.
‘She means you’re a good man,’ he said.
During the next sixday they stayed in the cave with Grnff and Zplon. Then one day, Grnff stated they were ready to move.
‘You now strong. We go,’ he said. ‘Must leave or too late for Zplon to get to birthing place. Then cubs die. We very sad. First cubs.’
‘Oh, Grnff, we can’t risk your cubs dyin’’ said Thadora, appalled at the idea. ‘Tell us th’ way an’ take Zplon to th’ birthing place. We’ll be OK. We’re strong now, right?’
‘You not find way. We go through mountain. We take path of fire god. You good, Red Cub, but fire god angry if warm folk go alone on paths.’
‘What happens if the fire god’s angry?’ asked Basalt looking anxious.
‘He wake. He shake with anger and ground shake. He breathe fire from mountain.’
‘A volcano!’ exclaimed Bas. ‘By Kassilla’s tits, I think we’re going to go through a volcano!’
‘They must worship the volcano as a god,’ Asphodel said.
Grnff had overheard this exchange, and had obviously understood most of what had been said. He replied, ‘We have two gods. Fire and Ice. God of fire destroys if angry. Must keep him happy. He sleeps now. He sleeps for hundreds of seasons. He not like to be wak’nd. God of ice good. Makes water hard so it not run away. Makes snow to keep cold folk cool, but not too cold. Must give gift to fire god to keep him happy.’
‘What must we give?’ asked Carthinal.
‘Something you hold dear.’ Grnff replied. ‘Must be sacrifice or not good enough for god.’
They all thought hard about this, and then Kimi stepped forward. The thing I hold most dear is this ring, given to me by Davrael. It symbolises our love. No beginning and no end.’ She looked sadly at Davrael. ‘I’m sorry, my love,’ she said, ‘but if it is required for our safe passage through these mountains, I must give it up. It will not change the way I feel.’
They all then searched for something they held dear. Thadora handed over a locket that had belonged to her mother; Davrael gave an eagle’s feather, symbol, he told them, of his standing in his tribe; Asphodel reluctantly gave a ring that had been given to her by her sister. Then Fero added a stone carved in the shape of a lion’s head, which had been carved by his mentor, a ranger in his home land, and Randa, a silver pin that had been her mother’s. Basalt gave a black opal, one of the first to be found in his parents’ mine and Carthinal pulled out of his pocket an exquisitely painted miniature of a handsome couple, he an elf and she a human.
‘My parents,’ he said as he laid it on the little pile.
The Wolves looked at the pile of belongings sadly, each remembering other times, people and places.
Grnff swept them up in his huge hand. ‘Give to god in deep place,’ he said.
He then went to the back of the cave, accompanied by Zplon. The pair took a bundle of torches from a natural shelf there, and lit one each. Grnff then beckoned the others and they followed him into the deeper part of the cave.
After travelling for a while, the Wolves realised that Grnff was right. They would have soon been hopelessly lost in this maze of tunnels. However, Grnff and Zplon seemed to know exactly where they were heading and took turn after turn. They seemed to be continually going down. Basalt had grumbled at first about having given their most treasured possessions to a volcano. He would not have minded, he told them, if it had been a genuine god, but a mountain was ridiculous. Asphodel reminded him that they had to get Grnff to lead them, and he would not have done so without the sacrifice. Basalt said no more, but continued to stomp along making his displeasure clear in his body language.
‘You friend not happy, Red Cub,’ Grnff said to Thadora.
‘No! He don’t believe th’ mountain’s for real. Least not godwise.’
‘He gave. He safe. It not matter if he believe in god of mountain, god of mountain believe in him,’ came the reply.
They continued deeper into the caves. Basalt felt the most at home here, since he was a mountain dwarf, but even he jumped when they heard a rumbling deep in the bowels of the mountain.
‘Must go quick,’ said Grnff. ‘Giv’ sacrifice. God wake. Angry with strangers in him.’ And with that, Grnff began to move more quickly. Basalt, with his short legs, had to almost run to keep up with the long stride of the two yeti. Even Thadora and Kimi found they had to break into a trot every now and then to prevent themselves from being left behind.
Shortly the tunnel opened out into a large cave. Adeep crack ran across the cave and from this crack came the rumbling sounds. Grnff and Zplon went to the edge of the crack and fell to their knees. Bowing deeply, they began to chant in their strange, guttural language.

It sounded more like the growling of angry beasts that a known language, and they understood how people had thought of it as such. However, they had come to recognise several distinct sounds and phrases in the growling, and Thadora had even learned some words, although Grnff and Zplon had laughed their feral laughs at her attempted pronunciation. After a few minutes of this chanting, Grnff prostrated himself, then drew out their treasures and dropped them one by one into the fissure, saying the name of the owner, even though his pronunciation souded rather strange.
‘Tadra, the Red Cub. Dvrel, the Savage One. Littl Kimi. Black Fero. Strong, hairy Bslt, Pale Rnda. Priest of strange god, Asdel. Chief and Magic man, Crthnal.’Then they stood, turned round three times and backed away from the fissure.

Immediately after this little ceremony, there came a much louder rumble that made them move instinctively closer together. Further from the fissure. Davrael and Kimi clung together, and Carthinal suddenly found himself holding Asphodel in an instinctive desire to protect her. He quickly dropped his arms and took a step back. Then just as quickly, the rumbling stopped, and there were no more sounds.
‘You gifts accepted,’ said Grnff. ‘God say gifts good. We pass now.’
Then they saw, for the first time, the bridge that spanned the fissure. It was a natural stone bridge, but they would only be able to cross in single file and there was no parapet. Davrael visibly paled on seeing the narrow path they would have to walk. He was a man of the plains, and while a fierce warrior who knew no terror in battle, he had no experience of crossing such a path. He swallowed, and glanced to the fissure. Then Zplon murmured something to Grnff.
‘You give rope,’ he said to Fero. ‘Zplon take. Cross bridge. Grnff hold end here. You cross holding rope.’
Zplon duly crossed the narrow span, and between them the two yeti held the rope taught.
Thadora quickly skipped across the bridge without using the rope. She stopped once in the middle to look down, calling cheerfully back, ‘I can’t see th’ bottom. ’S real deep!’
‘Shut up, Thadora. You’re not helping,’ growled Carthinal to her.
She grinned and ran nimbly across to the other side. After all, in her career as a thief she had run across rooftops and climbed walls and heights did not frighten her.
‘Of course, you’d expect a thief to be able to cross high stretches. I expect it’s in the job description,’ mumbled Randa disapprovingly, as much to herself as to anyone else, which was as well as no one else seemed to be listening.
The only other person who had no qualms was Basalt. Being a dwarf and used to wandering about in mountain tunnels, the bridge held no fears for him, so he crossed next.
Carthinal insisted that Davrael go next. He had noticed the paling of Davrael’s face when he realised they would have to cross the bridge. If he left the young warrior with too much time to think, they may never get him over.
‘Go on, Davrael,’ he urged. ‘You’ve seen Thadora and Basalt go. It’s not too bad.’
‘I not afraid,’ said the plainsman, but his face belied his words.
However, he stepped forward and slowly and carefully placed his foot on the stone. He gripped the rope so tightly that even in the dim light of the cavern they could see the whiteness of his knuckles. He inched his way across, slowly.
‘Don’t look down,’ called Basalt, which was the wrong thing to say as Davrael’s eyes were immediately drawn downward.
Then he froze. He saw a deep, dark drop beneath him. His fear was almost palpable. Almost half way across his feet refused to move. His heart began to beat frantically. He thought that he was going to have a heart attack it beat so fiercely. He had fought enemies and been in danger of his life. He had tamed the wildest of horses. He could ride better than anyone in his tribe, and perform death-defying feats on horseback. He had even come face to face with a mountain lion that had wanted him to feed to her cubs, and lived to tell the tale, which was more than the mountain lion did. He had never known fear like this, though. Never again would he call anyone a coward for being afraid. All he could only see the dark beneath him. Then he heard a voice at his elbow, urging him on. Thadora had run onto the bridge and talked him across. Slowly, inch by inch, she got him to move. The span seemed to go on forever, until at last the black abyss hd disappeared from beneath his feet. His legs gave way under him and as he sank to the ground, Zplon pulled him away from the edge.
When the others were all across, they found Davrael still slumped on the ground shaking.
‘I coward. I not think me coward, but I be.’ He seemed unable to say nothing else.
‘No,’ said Asphodel, kneeling beside him, ‘That was one of the bravest things I’ve ever seen.’
Davrael looked up at her sharply to see if she were mocking him. ‘I afraid. I not able to move. You should send away in disgrace. I be outcast to show such cowardice in my tribe.’
Kimi held him, but carefully did not say anything. She knew that whatever she said to reassure him he would take as an expression of her love, and not take any notice. She let the others do the talking.
‘Have you ever been afraid before, Davrael?’ asked Fero.
‘No. I thought to be bravest in tribe. I not fear anything.’ The warrior drew himself up a little in pride, but quickly slumped again. ‘Until now,’ he finished.
‘That’s not bravery,’ continued the ranger. ‘Anyone can seem to be brave if they don’t feel fear. True bravery is to feel fear, face it and overcome it. That is what you did.’
They continued to talk to him in this manner until they had convinced him that he was not a coward, and bolstered him enough for him to be able to continue. He suggested several times that they should leave him in the mountain for his perceived cowardice. Grnff and Zplon waited patiently while this was going on, and when Davrael at last rose to his feet, they continued to lead the way through the mountain.
They continued walking until Grnff decided that they must rest.
‘It night,’ he said suddenly, and lay down, put out the torches, curled up into a ball with Zplon and promptly fell asleep.
The Wolves unpacked their bedrolls and spread them onto the rocky ground. They lay in the pitch-blackness hearing the soft breathing of the yeti pair as they slept. The darkness was complete. Only the dwarf and those with elf blood could make out anything at all.

With their infravision, they saw warm reddish mounds. Kimi and Davrael snuggled together under the furs and blankets to conserve warmth. As he looked around, Carthinal wished he could snuggle with someone too. Although not cold in the mountain, it did feel cool. He pulled the furs closer round him and turned over.
Sleep was a long time in coming even so, and it seemed that he had no longer dropped off than he felt Grnff shaking him and saying, ‘Eat. We go.’
He ate the piece of meat thrust at him, and saw the others being woken and a meagre breakfast thrust at them. He wondered how long this passage through the volcano would take and ventured to ask Grnff.
‘We out wen sun highest,’ Grnff replied. ‘Now sun get up.’
True to his word, about six hours later they emerged from a cave to see a beautiful wooded valley spread out before them.
‘We leave you now,’ said Grnff. ‘We go birthing place. Just time before cubs come.’
Carthinal turned. ‘We can’t thank you enough, Grnff,’ he said. ‘You saved our lives and guided us through the mountains. If there’s anything we can ever do for you, we will.’
‘Finish task is what you can do,’ he replied. ‘Make world safe for cubs to grow up.’
The others said their goodbyes and began to descend the slope, but Carthinal and Thadora remained where they were. Thadora flung her arms round first Zplon and then Grnff, giving them a hug. She came only about up to their waists. They hugged her back, gently. Zplon said something to Grnff and he translated.
‘We talked. We decide on naming cubs. Cold folk have two cubs, always. One male and one female. We call male Crthnal for you, red magic man and chief, and female we call Tadra, for you, Red Cub. Go. You friends wait.’
With that, the two yeti re-entered the cave and were gone.
‘Cool,’ said Thadora. ‘I never thought I’d ’ave a yeti cub called Thadora after me, an’ there’s to be one called Carthinal too, after you.’
‘At least Crthnal and Tadra, anyway. Come on, Red Cub,’ he replied, grinning at her. ‘We’d better join the others.’

English National Anthem

 

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I’ve posted on this before, but I want to be more specific this time.

The British Government has recently debated whether there should be a National Anthem for England, specifically to be sung at sporting events. Scotland has Flower of Scotland, Wales has Hen Wlad fy Nhadau and Northern Ireland uses Londonderry Air. England has used the UK National Anthem, God Save the Queen but does not have one of its own.

Many people have asked for England to have its own Anthem for events when England competes alone. There have been three main ones and one other that does not seem to have many in favour, although personally, I think it would be the best. These contenders are: Rule Britannia, Land of Hope and Glory and Jerusalem. The unfavoured one is I Vow to Thee My Country.

1. Rule Britannia is not good because it is not England. It’s Britain. The name itself implies Britain. Also, most people don’t know the words except for the two-line chorus. (Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves, Britons {Not English, note} never, never, never shall be slaves.) Not a good anthem for England as it refers to Britons, which includes Irish, Scots and Welsh.

2. Land of Hope and Glory is a little better. It is very patriotic and a brilliant tune, but also very much of the 19th century. Can we, in all honesty, in the 21st century sing ‘Wider still and wider shall thy bounds be set’? Imperalism gone mad!

3. The seemingly favoured one and one that has already been used at some sporting events. It was sung at the Commonwealth games, I believe, and I have heard it myself being sung at the current series of cricket matches against South Africa.

This is Jerusalem, of course. Brilliant tune, but what about the words?
Well, as I see it the title of the song is suspect. It’s Jerusalem, for goodness sake. Not London, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, etc All good English cities, but Jerusalem, a city in the Middle East. Yes, it is important worldwide as the birthplace and holy city of 3 great religions, but it’s NOT ENGLISH. It’s a national Anthem for England we’re talking about here.

Then there are its religious connotations. It is quite unashamedly Christian.
‘And did those feet in ancient times…’ Whose feet? Jesus’ feet.
‘And was t he Holy Lamb of God…’ Who is the lamb of God? Jesus.
‘And did the countenace divine…’ Whose countenance was divine? Jesus’ countenance.

There are many people in the UK who do not subscribe to Chrisitianity. There are, of course, Hindus, Muslims, Buddists, Sikhs, Jews and many others who won’t be represented by this song, but also the atheists and agnostics and other non-church-going people. We are constantly being told about how the ethnic groups (specifically Muslims) should be encouraged to integrate, and yet a national anthem that will not include them is being seriously discussed.

Finally, on Jerusalem, it is associated with the Womens’ Institute. They sing it at all their meetings.

No, Jerusalem ought to be scrapped as an idea for an English National Anthem, as should any other with overt Christian overtones.

I Vow to Thee My Country is a hymn, yes, but the first verse certainly has no religious implications, just talking about loyalty to one’s country, which is what a National Anthem ought to be about. not vague wishes that Jesus may or may not have come to England, and a wish to build Jerusalem, a city torn apart by religious strife, in our country.

Noni and Jovinda (Carthinal’s Parents from The Wolves of Vimar)

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A special messenger delivered the letter. Jovinda’s father took it into his study to open it, but Jovinda had already seen the Royal seal pressed into the wax sealing the message. She burned with curiosity. It was not often that a messenger came with a letter from the Royal Palace. She had to wait, though, until after the evening meal before her father told her what was in it.
The family sat down at the long table in the dining room. Jovinda fidgeted on her chair while Promin, the butler, served the soup.
‘Sit quietly, Jovinda,’ her mother said. ‘You’ll jog Promin and he’ll spill the soup.’
‘Besides, it’s not polite to squirm around at mealtimes,’ added her father. ‘I know why you are wriggling though. You are just curious as to the letter that came earlier. I’ll tell you about it after dinner, so have patience until then.’
Jovinda had to be satisfied with that and she managed to sit still while she ate her meal. Afterwards, her father called both Jovinda and her mother into his study. After they had sat down, he picked up the letter, lifted his glasses onto his nose and read it to them.
Jovinda was excited at what the letter said.
‘So I’m invited to the banquet as well?’ she queried, hardly able to believe it.
‘You are sixteen now, Jo,’ her mother said. ‘It’s time you went to be presented at court.’
Her father smiled at her excitement.
‘This banquet is in honour of the trade delegation from Rindissillaron,’ he told her. ‘All the leaders of the guilds and their families will be there, and as part of my family, and a young lady now of age, you are quite rightly included.’
Kendo, Jovinda’s father, was the supreme leader of all the trade guilds in Bluehaven and as such, would be involved in any trade treaties that might be signed between Grosmer and Rindissillaron, the elven homeland. This banquet, given by King Frome, was of great importance.
Ellire, Jovinda’s mother, smiled at the girl’s excitement.
‘We must get you a new dress,’ she said. ‘Tomorrow we’ll go to the dressmaker and choose some fabric and a style.’
The day of the banquet arrived. Jovinda’s parents had booked rooms in the Swan in Flight in Aspirilla, the capital of Grosmer. It was on an island known as Holy Isle because all the churches of the various gods had their headquarters there.
They took the short passage from Bluehaven to the island in the Inner Sea. From there it was a short journey to the Swan in Flight, where Kendo had booked rooms for them. It was the most expensive inn on the island, and probably in the whole of Grosmer. The landlord was more like the host of a large country house and treated his customers as important guests, leading them into the dining room from a comfortable lounge. Jovinda was most impressed.
Also staying at the inn was Jovinda’s best friend, Salor. Salor had been to Aspirilla before as she was almost a year older than Jovinda and so she was not quite so overwhelmed. Never-the-less, the two girls sat in a corner of the inn’s drawing-room chattering.
‘Do you think Prince Gerim will be there?’ Jovinda asked.
‘He might be, I suppose. Why are you asking? There’ll be elves there, Jovinda. Elves! I’ve never seen an elf. Do you think I might be seated near one?’
‘Why are you interested in elves?’
‘And why are you so interested in the prince? He’s younger than you, after all.’
‘Not by much, and anyway, he’ll be king when his father dies and whoever marries him will be queen.’
Salor laughed. ‘He’ll be able to have his pick of all the girls in Grosmer. He’ll pick a noble girl I expect. I don’t think he’ll look at the likes of us.’
The girls continued to chatter until their parents told them that, of age or not, they should retire for the night.
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 probably be at such an important banquet as the heir to the throne. She did not notice the young elf watching her as she descended the stairs.
Ellire had wanted Jovinda to have her hair done in one of the elaborate styles that was so popular, but the girl refused. She was proud of her auburn locks and the way they curled gently round her face. She wore it in a simple style that made her seem rather vulnerable. She had refused to wear an elaborate dress as well, and the simple folds of the green velvet she wore enhanced the look of innocence.
She partook of a glass of Perimo, a sparkling wine from the islands and spoke to many of her parents’ friends and acquaintances, feeling very grown up. Then she was presented to the king and royal family as it was her first adult social occasion.
Prince Gerim was indeed there, and she agreed that he was indeed a handsome young man, and thought that if she could catch his attention, the fact that he was younger than she was, would not make any difference. It was only a few months anyway.
Then the call came for them to go into the banqueting hall and be seated. Jovinda was surprised to be seated well away from her parents. She found herself seated between a young man she knew slightly, as his father was the head of the leatherworkers’ guild, and a handsome young elf.
This elf had been watching her as she walked around talking to people in the reception. He turned to her and asked her name.
‘Jovinda,’ she replied. ‘What’s yours?’
He laughed. ‘I doubt you’d be able to pronounce it,’ he said with a smile that lit up his deep blue eyes.
‘Try me.’
‘Well, it’s Nonimissalloran, but you can call me Noni. All my friends do.’
Jovinda thought the young elf very handsome, but then all the elves were. His extraordinary eyes fascinated her. They were slanting, like those of all elves, but it was their colour that took her attention. They were a deep blue. Much deeper than any eyes she had ever seen before. And his conversation amused her too. She found that she was no longer interested in capturing the attention of Prince Gerim.
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 that she would see Noni again. After all, if he stayed with the delegation, then he would be based in Bluehaven. She smiled at this thought.
The day after they got back home in the richer quarter of Bluehave a bouquet of flowers came addressed to Jovinda, the most beautiful girl at the King’s banquet. It was signed Nonimissalloran of House Diplomat.
Jovinda was delighted with the thought that Noni had remembered her, and especially as the most beautiful girl at the banquet. She told Salor, who laughed and told her that she had soon forgotten her ambitions of being queen.
Jovinda looked at her and smiled. ‘Oh, I’ve not forgotten that,’ she said. ‘Can’t I enjoy the flattery of a handsome elf as well?’
But it was not just that. Noni came to call on her a few days later. The two went for a walk in a park not far away from Jovinda’s home. Jovinda found that she liked the elf more and more, and as the day wore on, it became obvious that the feeling was returned.
She could hardly believe that such a handsome man as Noni was could be interested in her. She talked to Salor about him until the other girl said. ‘It seems you have now forgotten about marrying Prince Gerim, them.’
‘Oh, that was just a silly girl’s pipe dream. Noni is so much better than any prince could be.’
‘Are you sure it’s not just his difference that attracts you?’
‘Oh, Salor, how can you say such a thing. He’s handsome, witty, kind, interesting and oh, everything a girl could wish for.’
But that was not what her parents thought. One day Ellire called Jovinda into the drawing room.
‘Jo, dear,’ said her mother, ‘Please sit down. I must talk to you.’
Ellire looked so serious that Jovinda thought that someone must be sick or even have died.
‘What is it, Mother?’ she queried as she sat in a comfortable chair opposite Ellire.
‘We must talk about that youn man, Noni, dear.’
Jovinda was on her guard immediately. What was her mother going to say? They liked Noni, she knew, and while they had not exactly encouraged their friendship, they had not prevented the pair from seeing each other. She waited to see what was coming next.
‘While it seemed the pair of you were just friends we had no worries about you seeing each other, but recently it looks to both your father and me that you are becoming more than just friends.’
‘And what if we are? He loves me, Mother, and I him.’
Ellire sighed as tears came into her eyes.
‘Darling,’ she said, ‘this cannot be. You are human and he’s an elf.’
Jovinda pressed her lips together and clenched her fists. ‘Don’t tell me you’re objecting because he’s different? He may be an elf and have had a different background and upbringing, but we agree on so many things. We’re friends as well as lovers. We laugh at the same things, get angry at the same things, enjoy the same things…’
‘Jo, Jo, I’m not against him personally. I think he’s a very nice man, and if he were anything other than an elf I would not hesitate to agree to your relationship, but he is an elf.’
‘What difference does that make?’ retorted her daughter.
‘Quite a lot, actually. Elves live very long lives. I’m not quite sure how long, but some say nine hundred years. Humans live for seventy or eighty at the most. Darling, you will be an old, old woman while Noni is still young. Do you think he, a young man, will want to stay with an old woman?’
‘He will. We’ve talked about this Mother. He’s promised he won’t abandon me when I get old. He says he’ll love me forever. Do you and Father not love one another even though you are both getting old?’
Ellire laughed. ‘Hardly old, dear. I’m only forty and your father forty-four. Anyway, we are both growing old together. That makes a big difference.’
‘Does it? What about Indro Manibrow? He left his wife for a younger woman only last year.’
Ellire sighed again. ‘Your father and I are both in agreement that this must end before you get hurt, and get hurt you will if it goes on. It cannot be allowed to get to the point where marriage is being considered. You must not see Noni again, Jovinda.’
At that, Jovinda burst into tears and fled to her room, threw herself onto her bed and sobbed herself to sleep.

Little did Jovinda know, but Noni was having a similar conversation. He had come to Bluehaven in the company of his father. As a novice in diplomacy, he had much to learn and his father thought his son would learn a lot from seeing diplomats working at first hand.
‘Son,’ said Noni’s father, ‘I must ask you to desist from seeing this human girl.’
Noni wrinkled his brow. ‘Why? Don’t you like her?’
‘Yes, I like her a lot, and if she were an elf, I wouldn’t hesitate to encourage the relationship. But she’s not an elf. She’s a human and that makes all the difference.’
‘Father, surely you aren’t one of those elves who think all humans inferior to us?’
‘Of course not, boy. But humans are different. They have very short lives. How will you feel watching your love grow old and infirm while you are still young and healthy? How will you feel when she is sick and in pain and you watch her dying?’
‘Father, I love her and I will to the end of my days. I will love her young or old, healthy or sick. I will not abandon her as she grows old.’
‘I’m sorry, my son, but I must forbid you from seeing her. I speak as both your father and the leader of this mission.’
Noni turned and stalked away, back to his rooms and stood at his window brooding and trying to think of away out of this.

Find out what happens to Jovinda and Noni next month on the third Tuesday. Will they overcome their parents’ disapproval or will the affair have to end?

5 more commonly confused words.

113biggestbookdubai

Since I started writing about these words, more and more are coming to my notice. I suppose it’s because I’m now looking out for them. Some can be quite amusing, like in a previous blog when I talked about vicious and viscous.
A pupil wanted to say that a liquid became more VISCOUS, i.e. thicker and less runny. In fact, he said it became more VICIOUS.

Here are this week’s words.

 Advise/Advice.

Advise is a verb. It is what you do. You advise someone.
e.g. I would advise you not to put all your money in the same shares.

Advice is a noun. It is what you give.
e.g. My advice to you is not to put all your money in the same shares.

 Comprise/Compose

Comprise means to include.
e.g. The house comprised five bedrooms.

Compose means to make up.
e.g The hamper was composed of a bottle of wine, a ham, a box of dates and a goose.

 Lie/lay

Lie is to recline.
e.g. My back hurts when I lie down.

Lay is to put an object down.
e.g. The man came to lay the carpet in the hall, or Lay the book on that table, please.

 Defective/Deficient

Defective means that something does not work.
e.g. When I tried the new camera I had bought, I found it to be defective.

Deficient means that something is missing.
e.g. When the doctor analysed the results of the girl’s blood test he found she was deficient in iron.

Oh, here is one that is always got wrong.

 Hung/Hanged

Hung refers to an object.
e.g. He hung his coat in the cloakroom.

Hanged refers to a person or other living thing.
e.g. One argument against capital punishment is that if a person is found to be innocent after they have been hanged it’s too late to do anything about it.

The Wolf Pack Chapter 9. Thad

wolfpackcover (2)CHAPTER 9

THAD

Carthinal lifted the young thief over his shoulder. He was not heavy, and so it was not difficult for him to carry the lad. Shortly after they had left the Warren, he felt the boy stirring.
‘Hey! Put me down, you bastard!’ he cried.
Carthinal did so, but did not release his grip on the boy’s arm. The boy was struggling, but was nowhere near as strong as Carthinal, and his efforts were futile.
‘If you don’t struggle, you won’t get hurt,’ said Carthinal. ‘You’ll come with me to the inn. I’ll let go of you, but if you run, remember I am a mage. I may forget I said I wouldn’t hurt you.’
‘OK, I’ll not run,’ replied the boy sulkily.
The pair walked along side by side, each watchful and distrustful of the other until they came to the square in which the Golden Dragon was situated.
‘They’ll not let me in there!’ exclaimed the boy.
‘Leave it to me,’ replied Carthinal. ‘I think I can get in with you. I’m good at talking my way out of situations, and so I think I can talk my way into the inn with you.’
As luck would have it, there were few people about, so Carthinal did not have any problems entering the inn with the young thief. As he passed through the public room, Basalt and Fero waved at him to come over to sit by the fire. He walked over with the boy in tow.
‘What have you got there… and why?’ queried Basalt while Fero raised an eyebrow at the boy’s dirty and unkempt look.
‘The thief who robbed me this morning. I spotted his red hair running away after he’d picked my pocket, and saw him again a few minutes ago,’ replied Carthinal ‘I want to get my goods back. I’m taking him upstairs and I intend to find out what he has done with his ill-gotten gains.’
‘I hope you don’t intend to hurt him,’ Fero said with an anxious look at the boy.
‘Gods! What do people think I am? Of course I won’t hurt him,’ snapped Carthinal. ‘You’re the second one to ask me that.’
‘I apologise, Carthinal,’ Fero was truly contrite, ‘but I fail to see how just talking to him will make him give up his secrets.’
‘I have my little ways,’ smiled Carthinal, tapping the side of his nose, and with that he took the boy’s arm and went up the stairs, leaving the others looking after him with bemused expressions on their faces. Fero shrugged and returned to his drink then after a few more seconds, Basalt did the same.
Once in the room, Carthinal surprised the boy by speaking to him in the language of the underworld, developed by the under-classes so that the Guard and others could not understand them when messages were passed.
‘I want my goods back. You cut my pouch this morning. You ran. You are very good, but not good enough. I saw. I recognise you now.’
‘How do you know cant?’ replied the thief, with a look of amazement in his green eyes. ‘You don’t look like one of us.’
‘No matter,’ replied Carthinal. ‘You get my pouch back and return it to me. But I don’t trust you out in the streets. You’ll run and hide. Then you’ll stay low until I leave. I’ll come with you to get it.’
‘You must be one of us if you speak cant, even if you look like one of the grollin.’  The boy used the disparaging word the thieves used for the honest population of Grosmer. ‘I’ll return your pouch. We don’t steal from our own. You come with me now.’ The boy stood and started to walk towards the door.
After a second’s hesitation, Carthinal followed. ‘I should be studying for tomorrow,’ he thought, ‘But this will probably be my only chance to get the figurine back. I must take it.’ With that thought, he followed the boy out and down the stairs, quickly catching up with him.
‘Going to get my stolen things,’ he called to Bas and Fero, leaving them gaping after him, and wondering how he had persuaded the lad to return them.
The pair of them walked through the Market Square.
‘What’s your name, boy?’ asked Carthinal.
After a second’s hesitation, the boy replied, ‘Thad, sir.’ It seemed he had a new respect for Carthinal, honouring him with a “sir”.
‘I assume that is short for Merothad. But there’s no need to call me “sir”.

I’m just another punter who has been stupid enough to be caught by a very good “dip.” My name’s Carthinal.’
‘That’s twice you said I were real good, s… er Carthinal. D’you really think so? That’s so cool.’ The boy seemed to glow in the slight praise.
‘Yes, I do. You have some things to learn yet though. Like not getting caught. One thing you could do is hide your red hair with a hood, you know. You are not very old are you? Thirteen? Fourteen?’ asked the half-elf.
‘Fifteen, Carthinal. Sixteen just after the Equinox.’
‘You’re rather small for your age. Still, there are plenty of folk who are small at your age and grow quickly after that to overtake their taller friends. You may be a giant yet!’
The boy laughed at that idea, but seemed to be warming to his captor. They came to the edge of the Warren.
‘We’re now come on my patch. We talk cant from here or we’ll be so bloody suspect,’ advised Thad. ‘There’s always people sussing out guards in disguise. Everyone speaks cant on the streets in the Warren.’
‘Done!’ replied Carthinal, and the pair relapsed into the language of thieves, assassins and other undesirable characters.

Eventually, they entered a dark, dismal and rather smelly back street. Carthinal entered with no hesitation, a fact that gained him an admiring glance from Thad.
Towards the end of the street, Thad bent down and lifted a grating in the middle of the road. ‘Down ’ere,’ he said, and Carthinal could see his grin in the dim light.
‘Down here being, I presume, the sewers.’ Carthinal peered down into the depths. ‘Smells rather, but if your hiding place is down here, who would go looking? What are we waiting for?’
Thad looked rather taken aback by the fact that Carthinal was willing to go down into the sewers. If he had had any ideas of escaping through the sewer system while Carthinal rather fastidiously waited on the surface, he had to shelve them.
The pair climbed down into the depths. Water came up to Carthinal’s knees, and he tucked the skirts of his robe up into his belt, leaving his legs bare. The water would not be so difficult to walk through then, and his robes would keep some semblance of cleanliness. He did not care to think what was in the water flowing by his legs. The smell was almost

overpowering, but Carthinal sighed, although he winced as he felt solid things bump against his legs as he walked through the noisome fluid. He followed Thad’s figure, which appeared to glow a deep red to his infra-vision. Again, if Thad had intended to escape in the dark, he was out of luck.
The young thief had no need of a light as he could find his way through the sewers as well as he could the upper streets. They twisted, turned, and took many side branches until Carthinal was completely disorientated. He half wished that he had invited Basalt to come along. Dwarves were used to being in caves and mines, and could not easily get lost, having an excellent sense of direction underground.
Eventually Thad stopped. He felt up to a ledge and pulled out a torch and a flint. Quickly lighting the torch, he pulled out a brick from the sewer wall. Reaching in, he rummaged around for a few seconds, and then pulled out a pouch.
‘This it?’ he asked Carthinal.
‘Too right it is,’ replied the other, opening it. He emptied out the coins onto his palm and counted them.
Thad quickly said, ‘I spent a few crowns on some eats at the six hour meal-time.’
‘That’s OK, Thad, but where’s the figurine?’
The boy’s face fell. ‘The figurine? You mean that gold horse thing? Yeah, well. I’m sorry, but I’ve fenced it already.’
‘What? Already?’
‘It’s always good to get goods changed to money real quick, right? Chances of being traced and all that. You know!’
‘Yes, yes, of course. But that really was quick.’
‘I’ve a good fence, like.’ said the boy dismissively. ‘Was it important?’
‘Someone I know thinks it is,’ Carthinal sighed. ‘Oh well. That’s that then.’
‘Maybe I c’d get it back for you. My fence’ll do me favours if I ask, right? ’E’s so into boys, see, (if you know what I mean) and ’e thinks if ’e does me favours, like, I’ll do him one sometime. It’s summat I don’t try very ’ard to change. It’s useful.’
‘Yes, I’m sure it is. I just hope you know what you are doing with him that’s all. That sort of game is dangerous.’
‘Don’t worry, Carthinal,’ the boy replied, cheerfully. ‘I’ve a dagger and am bloody good wi’ throwing knives.’
‘Just be careful, that’s all, Thad. Don’t go relying on weapons. That way lies the end of a rope.’
Thad looked up at Carthinal and grinned. ‘I ain’t scared of no old rope. Anyways, they’d ’ave to bloody catch me first.’
‘Anyway, if you do manage to get the figurine, you can bring it to the Golden Dragon and give it to me. Now are you going to show me the way out of here, or abandon me to wander for ever through the dark and dismal sewers, never to see the light of day again!’ This last said in a sepulchral tone.
Thad grinned and said, ‘Don’t tempt me! That’d be real cool, you comin’ up at night to scare the bleedin’ punters. All but me, o’ course. We’d be partners an’ all. You’d scare ’em away and I’d “acquire” their things. But come on, or you may end up as a zombie scaring the honest folk of ’Ambara for real, comin’ from the sewers at night to prey on the innocent townsfolk.’ He imitated Carthinal’s tone.
The pair laughed and set off back through the sewers. Carthinal found he liked the young lad and wondered what his story was—why had he ended up a thief in the Warren and not one of the honest poor?
Carthinal was surprised to find that the grating that Thad returned him to was near the edge of the Warren, in a place he recognised.
‘You don’t think I’d, like, take you straight to me bleedin’ hidin’ place, do you? Or bring you straight back? That would be so not sensible,’ grinned Thad. ‘Don’t worry, I’ll get that statue thingy.’ With that, the young thief slipped back down the sewer grating and was gone.
‘Well! That was an adventure,’ muttered Carthinal to himself as he strode across the market square.
People drew away from him and held their noses, but could not make out why he smelled so bad. Some of the rich folk held pomanders to their noses as he passed. His robe had kept out of the noisome water, and now covered his legs and feet, so the filth of the sewers could not be seen, only the smell was apparent.
On entering their room, Fero and Basalt stepped away from him as though he had the plague. ‘Where have you been?’ asked Fero. ‘You smell like a sewer rat.’
‘Rather a polite way to put it, Fero. Carthinal, you smell like shit. Quite literally. Get a bath before you come anywhere near either of us, or give us any explanations.’
So Carthinal, with a grin at his friends moved off in the direction of the bath house to get clean, after which, he returned to their room ready to give the story of his trip with Thad and its results. At the end of the story, Fero expressed his surprise that Thad had been so co-operative.
‘I had certain advantages that I used,’ replied Carthinal, but did not go into any further details.
‘Now I think I’d better do some studying. Tomorrow’s the test of History of Magic—not my best or favourite subject. I always thought history was a bit of a waste of time.’
As it was obvious from his attitude that he did not want to make his remarks about his advantages any clearer, the other two left him to his studies and went into the bar for a drink.

An Interview with Mabryl, a character from The Wolf Pack.

Hi everyone.

This month has 5 Tuesdays in it and so we have an extra blog. I have decided to do an interview with Mabryl, Carthinal’s mentor in The Wolf Pack for this extra Tuesday. Those of you who are reading my installments will know who he is.

Mabryl Interview

I encountered Mabryl one day as I was walking through Bluehaven. I had heard of his adoption of the promising young mage, Carthinal and I decided to ask him a few questions for the local newssheet, The Bluehaven Herald. Here is the result of my interview.

Me: How did you come to meet with Carthinal?

Mabryl: He was part of a feral gang of children when I met him. In fact, I think he was their leader. I spotted him first watching a young mage in the market place. He was obviously looking for someone’s pocket to pick in the crowd watching the mage when he suddenly stopped and seemed quite taken by the display.

Me: I didn’t know mages gave public displays of magic.

Mabryl: It’s not usual, but sometimes if an apprentice fails the test, they will become entertainers using what little they know. It impresses the public and does no harm.

Me: Why did you take an interest in Carthinal?

Mabryl: I didn’t at the time. It was only later that I saw his potential. As I rounded a corner I spotted him in an alley. He didn’t see me, and I noticed that he was trying to copy the movements and sounds of the simple spells the mage had done. I stood watching him for a bit, not expecting anything to happen, when suddenly a flame rose from his finger. It was only fleeting, but it told me that the boy was exceptional. Very few can master anything without considerable training, and yet here was a boy who had only watched a performance yet had managed to twist the mana to make a very small, short lived flame.

Me: What did you do?

Mabryl: I approached the boy carefully; he was one of the criminal classes after all. I spoke quietly and told him I would like to train him in magic as he obviously had some talent. He backed away, believing that I was trying to capture him for the guard, swore most foully, and told me to go and leave him alone. Of course, I couldn’t leave such a talent, but to try to force him would be counterproductive and so I left him there and went on my way.

Me: When did you meet him again?

Mabryl: I sought him out after that. He was still very suspicious. Eventually I decided to let his curiosity work for me. He still tried to get the little cantrip right, but couldn’t get more than the fleeting flame I’d already seen. I told him I’d train him if he came to my house.

After a few weeks, he came and stood outside. I bided my time and didn’t approach him, but opened the door for him to enter if he wished. It was like trying to capture a shy and wild animal. However, eventually he came in and asked me to teach him.

Me: Was he a difficult pupil?
Mabryl: Difficult isn’t in it. He was wild and found the discipline necessary for the practice of magic almost beyond him. He wanted to learn everything at once too. First of all, before any magic could be learned, he had to learn to control himself. We both found that a difficult task.

Me: How long did it take to tame him?

Mabryl: I’m not sure I have, even now. He still has his temper. He’s also still too fond of the girls. He’s so attractive that they find it hard to resist him. I’ve tried to instil some sense of right and wrong in him, but I’m not sure how far it’s penetrated. I’ve told him he shouldn’t toy with the feelings of young girls though. I only hope it’s penetrated somewhat.

Me: You had high hopes for him at first. Do you still feel the same?

Mabryl: Yes I do. He must learn to control himself more, of course if he is to become as great a mage as he is capable. He has an instinct with the mana. He’s one of the rare few who can actually see it when he is weaving it.

Me: I believe you have adopted him.

Mabryl: Yes. I’ve never married and have no heirs. I’ve grown very fond of Carthinal. In spite of his faults he’s a very personable young man with plenty of charisma. He’ll inherit everything I have when Kalhera calls me and I leave this life.

Me: Thank you.

Mabryl: It was my pleasure.

 

There are dragons and magic in the world if only you look for them… V.M. Sang

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