The Wolf Pack. Homewards

newcoverwolfpackFirst of all, may I apologise for this post being a little late. Lots to do hqving just got back from holiday. I hope you enjoy it.

HOBGOBLINS

The next morning, they left the vicinity of the tombs. Muldee told them that they should follow the northern side of the lake as the exit they wanted the exit on that side of the valley and so they duly followed him. He alternated between flying and walking, but he walked rather slowly, so he started riding on one or the other’s shoulders. They put up with this as he not very heavy, and he did not stay long before taking off again. When he landed on Davrael’s shoulders, he suddenly jumped making Davrael curse.
‘Asphodel,’ the dragonet called to the elf, ‘This helm of Davrael’s is magic. It startled me when I felt it. I didn’t expect it.’
‘How can you tell?’ she asked him.
‘Made me feel funny,’ he said.
‘Can you always tell if something is magical?’ she continued.
The dragonet looked surprised. ‘Of course,’ he replied, ‘Good magic or bad. Each feels different.’
‘What about the other things we got from the tomb?’
He touched each item in turn and confirmed that they were all magical in some way, and that it was not bad magic.
‘All we need to know now is what kind of magic they have,’ said Randa when Asphodel had told them what Muldee was doing. ‘We’ve no idea what they do.’
They followed Muldee’s directions and found that they were heading much further north than they would have thought, but the little creature assured them that this was the only way out.
‘All the branches towards the south are dead ends,’ he told Asphodel when she asked about the direction. ‘I told you that you needed me to find your way.’
The dragonet had begun to learn Grosmerian. He learned quickly. He experimented by trying to get into the minds of the companions. Unknown to the group, dragonets had a certain talent for telepathy. He discovered that Thadora and Asphodel were the easiest for him to read, but he found Basalt almost impossible. This talent made his learning of Grosmerian all the easier. One day he surprised Thadora by managing to speak to her telepathically. It frightened the girl at first, but she became used to it, and even managed to respond. She did not seem very happy about the idea of the little creature “rummaging around in me ’ead at me most private thoughts,” as she put it, so Muldee said he would teach her how to shield her own thoughts and also promised not to pry. This seemed to help Thadora come to terms with the idea of telepathic speech.
Two days after beginning their journey from the valley, they came to a place where it narrowed, passing between cliffs on either side. A stream flowed along the bottom, and a few trees managing to cling to the banks. By now, many of them were looking a very pretty shade of pale green as they burst into leaf. Birds were well on the way with their nesting, and many animals were giving birth. They were all walking along and feeling very pleased with themselves when suddenly Randa felt a tingling from the Sword at her hip, and from the sides of the valley, where they had been hidden from view by the rocks and bushes, sprang a couple of dozen hobgoblins.
Randa drew her Sword and began to fight, as did the others. Carthinal quickly gave the command to his staff to set armour on himself and then sent a ball of multicoloured light at one of the hobgoblins which blinded him as well as causing injury, followed by some missiles from his staff. The others were all fighting strongly, but in vain as they were too greatly outnumbered. Even Asphodel struck out with her mace, which she had hardly used since she had acquired it from the temple before leaving Hambara. She even managed to do some damage to the enemy while avoiding damaging her companions. When they were eventually all captured, they found there were only fourteen of the hobgoblins standing, and some of those were bleeding.
‘We made them hurt though!’ whispered a voice in Carthinal’s ear, sounding strangely satisfied. He turned his head and it surprised him to see Asphodel standing next to him, her arms tied behind her and an uncharacteristically savage expression on her face.
A rough voice, obviously the leader of the ambush party, said something in a strange, guttural language, and they were searched and their weapons removed. They looked over to a large hobgoblin dressed in chain mail. He stood well over six feet, with a typically animalistic hobgoblin face with tusks reaching up from his lower jaw. His eyes were brown, but had a hard, cruel look, and his mouth seemed to be in a permanent sneer. His men were obviously afraid of him and obeyed him with alacrity. The other hobgoblins were smaller and were wearing leather armour reinforced with metal studs. They all had cross-bows and melee weapons, some with axes, some with war hammers, some even had short swords and all looked as though he knew how to use his weapon of choice.
The hobgoblin that tried to remove the Sword from Randa, quickly dropped it, and ran around blowing on his hand. He had obviously been burned by the Sword’s defence mechanism. The leader ordered another of the creatures to pick it up, but he failed. The Sword was just too heavy. He dragged it with the help of a second of the hobgoblins to the leader of the gang. The leader looked at the two, and then at Randa and said something scathing, judging by the looks of his two men.
Fero had managed to pick up a little hobgoblin on his travels, and he whispered to the others. ‘He says they must be weaker than a mouse if they cannot lift a sword wielded so effortlessly by a mere woman.’
Randa looked incensed at being called a “mere woman”, and almost responded when the leader came up to them. He kicked out at Randa and caught her on the ankle. She refrained from crying out, and just managed to stay on her feet.
‘You not be hurt if you not fight,’ he said in a harsh voice. ‘Where your pet?’
Carthinal frowned, then realised that he was talking about Muldee. Carthinal shrugged and the hobgoblin hit him across the mouth, for his insolence, so he said.
‘No matter. It only small creature. It probably run away. Must be afraid of mighty hobgoblins. Would have made good sale though. Bring lot of money for Khland. Khland take Sword for own. It do much damage to Khland’s men. It good Sword.’
He walked over to the Sword, and picked it up. It was no longer heavy, and Khland gave a disgusted look to the two who had dragged it to him. Randa did notice a wince, however, and after he had strapped on the sword round his waist, she caught him looking surreptitiously at his hand.
The hobgoblins marched the party along at a brisk pace, allowing no talk at all between them. Thadora wondered where Muldee had got to, but then decided he probably thought it was too dangerous in the world and had flown back to his siblings. Suddenly one of the hobgoblins at the rear of the line put his hand to his head and crumpled up in a heap, moaning about a loud noise in his brain. They stopped, and the leader, Khland, demanded to know why.
They held a hurried discussion in hobgoblin, which Fero tried to hear, but failed, and then one of them dispatched the injured creature an axe, stripped off his armour, weapons and money, and the column moved off again. This happened again during the day, and the hobgoblins repeated the same procedure.
That evening, they made camp in a barren place. They had been going steadily northwards since leaving the valley, and the mountains had given way to hills covered with heather. These moorland hills were bleak, and the east wind cut across them with an icy blast. There were little valleys with small streams in them, and every now and then, a rill joined a bigger stream, tumbling down through the heather in a series of little waterfalls. There were few trees here and what few there were, were poor stunted things that leaned away from the prevailing wind, which usually blew from the west and gave no shelter from the icy blast.
The hobgoblins set up a large tent for their commander, and while this went on, he amused himself by taunting the captives.
‘You be cold tonight,’ he told them. ‘Not possible to make fire. Heather burn easy. Too easy. You be hungry too. Have only small foods for you.’
‘Why have you captured us? Where are you taking us?’ demanded Randa imperiously.
‘You not speak to Khland unless told,’ and he kicked her in the stomach.
She doubled up in pain, tears springing unbidden to her eyes, but she was determined not to let them fall and give Khland the satisfaction that he had hurt her, so she straightened as best she could and, with her most proud look, gave him a disdainful glare. Khland raised his foot to kick her again when one of the hobgoblin patrol came up and said something to him.
He said to Randa, ‘Wait till later. Khland hurt you then. Not damage badly though. Orders not to, but no orders not to hurt you.’ With that he strode off to where the others had erected his tent.
The Wolves stood and stared after Khland.
‘If he touches you again,’ said Fero, ‘I swear I’ll kill him myself. Somehow.’
‘’Ow, wi’ yer ’ands bleedin’-well tied and no weapons?’ asked Thadora, somewhat scornfully, Fero thought.
‘I’ll find a way,’ snarled Fero, slumping to the ground. ‘I’ll not let him hurt any of you girls,’ he went on.
The others also sat down and eventually one of the hobgoblins placed a bowl of thin stew before them, with eight spoons dipped into it. He brought no bread.
‘How are we supposed to eat with our hand tied behind us?’ Carthinal complained.
‘I go ask,’ replied the hobgoblin, and disappeared towards the tent of his commander.
It seemed that they could do nothing without the permission of Khland. They watched as he spoke to the guards, and then Khland came out, said something to him and cuffed him around the head. The chastised creature came back and untied their hands, but tied their feet together, one left foot to the next person’s right. All except Carthinal. He had his feet tied as did the others, but his hands were not released.
‘Hands of mage stay tied so he not do magic,’ the hobgoblin soldier told them.
‘I’ll feed you some of this stuff if you want, Carthinal,’ said Kimi. (She sat between him and Davrael.
‘I’m tempted to say I don’t want any of it, but I suppose we should all eat something,’ he replied, ‘but goodness knows what it is. I’d rather not think about that.’
They ate, and afterwards, their hands were retied, but his time in front of them, except for Carthinal, whose hands remained as they were. A very cold wind blew around the hills, getting up more strongly as darkness fell. They could see a brazier around which the hobgoblins were sitting or lying down sleeping, and a light flickered in the tent of Khland showing that he too had some heating. They huddled together as best they could for warmth, but passed a very uncomfortable, cold and sleepless night.
The next day, they were all very tired. They were dragged roughly to their feet and made to march again, still over the rough moorland terrain. They were given nothing to eat this morning, and only a minimal drink of water. They stumbled on, each wondering whether they were more miserable now than they were in the mountains. At least in the mountains they had been free. They found it difficult to walk, as their feet were still tied and they found they stumbled frequently, much to the amusement of the hobgoblins.

Just as they stopped for a brief respite for the hobgoblins (but not their captives) to have a brief bite and drink, one of their number suddenly clasped his head. He said something that Fero translated as “Blinding headache.” Khland told him to get to his feet and to continue marching with the others. They almost felt sorry for him as he obviously felt very rough.
‘You should not drink so much while on the march,’ Khland told him. (Translated by Fero.) In reply, the afflicted creature moaned that he had hardly had any last night. The hobgoblin chief kicked him and told him to go ahead as a scout. Later in the day, they found his body lying in the heather, quite dead. As with the others, they stripped him and left him for the wild creatures.
‘Do you think it’s some disease that’s killing them?’ asked Kimi nervously.
‘Possibly,’ Asphodel speculated, ‘but it seems very quick acting. I’ve not heard of anything like it.’
‘Let’s just hope it only affects hobgoblins then,’ said Carthinal.
Later in the day it began to rain. A light drizzle only at first, but soon they were all wet through. The rain continued harder as the day progressed, and the captives were thoroughly miserable. The easterly wind continued and it seemed to go right through them, wet as they were. They could not talk any more as they were punched or kicked if they tried to communicate. They saw a creature flying high above them once or twice, but could not make it out clearly. Thadora hoped it was Muldee and that he could somehow get some help to them, but whenever it came lower, the hobgoblins fired bolts from their cross bows, and one came very close to hitting it and it flew away again.
In this manner the next day passed. That night, Fero began to shiver and sweat. He complained of aches and feeling unwell. Asphodel diagnosed ’flu, but she hoped secretly it was nothing worse. She demanded to see Khland, and when he eventually came to them at dawn, she expressed her view that Fero could not travel and that he needed rest and warmth to recover. Khland growled that they had no time. Fero must continue with them or be left for the wild beasts.
‘Have headache?’ Khland asked Fero.
‘I ache everywhere,’ the ranger replied.
‘You not got same illness as men?’ he asked.
Asphodel replied for Fero.
‘I’m sure it’s not. Your men had a headache and then dropped. Fero has a fever and aches all over. I’m sure it’s ’flu brought on by us being so cold and wet.’
‘We be at hobgoblin camp less than two more days. Only one more night on road.’ With that he hobbled back to his tent.
They had all noticed that he had started to limp rather badly and that he had still got Equilibrium strapped to his waist, and they each decided that the caused him some pain. They found a grudging admiration for the hobgoblin captain to endure such pain as they knew the Sword could inflict. Then the creature in the sky descended and drew their attention away from Khland. One of the hobgoblins raised his crossbow and took aim, but immediately he fell down clutching his head, unconscious. The other hobgoblins murmured among themselves, but one harsh look from Khland silenced them quickly.
‘Kill him and we go on,’ said Khland, and the others quickly complied.
They marched on for a while until Thadora felt what she later described as a “scratching in her brain.” She tried to make it go away, and it did indeed fade a little, but then it began again more forcefully, until she thought she could hear words in her head.
‘Stop blocking, silly girl.’
She looked around but could see no one.
‘It is me! Muldee!’ she heard. ‘I follow. I attack. I try chief next. He a big man. Hard to hurt. Others afraid. Think they have illness.’
She tried to think back to the little creature.
‘I ’ear yer, Muldee. You’re causing this “illness” in th’ bleedin’ ’obgoblins? ’Ow cool is that?’
‘Yes. I make loud noise in heads. It kill little creatures. Many dragonets together can kill bigger creature. One dragonet only hurt hobgoblins. Maybe it enough. I go. Mindspeak make me tired. Need strength for hurting.’
Thadora passed on what she could to the others, when no hobgoblins were looking so she would not get beaten. The news seemed to raise their hopes somewhat, even Fero, ill as he felt.
After about an hour, as they were marching along, Khland raised his hand to his head and stumbled, but he managed to regain his balance and limped on with a pained expression on his face. The rest of the party of hobgoblins looked at each other, then quickly away again.  After a few more miles, Khland again stumbled, this time falling to his knees. He allowed a groan to escape his lips, but he struggled to his feet and staggered off down the road. Almost immediately, Muldee landed in the heather ahead of them. Carthinal hoped that he had not landed too close to the hobgoblins, but they did not seem to notice as they were all looking anxiously at their leader, with, Carthinal thought, hope in their eyes. The heather rustled as the dragonet tried to get nearer to the hobgoblin leader, and then he again fell down, this time to lie face down on the track. He did not move. The other hobgoblins stood frozen for a few minutes and then one cautiously went forward and poked the immobile Khland. Still nothing. He came back to the others and said something in his own language. The hobgoblins held a brief discussion and then they came over to their captives and roughly searched them for any valuables, while two others went and systematically robbed Khland. The hobgoblins took all the gold the Wolves had on them, but left them their armour. Carthinal supposed they did not consider it valuable enough to be worth carrying the extra weight. The Wolves packs that they were carrying including group’s weapons, they dropped as they fled away from their captives and vicious leader.
After they were gone, Muldee appeared from the heather.
‘Hurry. He not dead, just unconscious. Must leave quickly.’
‘Thank you, but we can’t move well tied up like this,’ Carthinal told him. ‘Can you do anything to help us escape?’
‘I’ve spent time tryin’ ter work meself loose,’ came a response from Thadora, ‘An’ I think I’ve nearly succeeded in loosenin’ th’ rope enough ter slip me ’and out.’
‘I bite through rope too.’
Between them, they managed to get out of their bonds. They searched the hobgoblin leader and found no gold, but only the Sword. It seems the other hobgoblins had not dared to touch it. As Randa removed it from Khland, she noticed that his left leg looked as though it had frostbite and she felt a grudging admiration for the determination of the creature that he had continued to wear it in spite of a great deal of pain.
‘I think we should kill ’im,’ said Thadora. ‘After all, ’e bloody well ’urt us and wasted some of ’is own men when they was ’elpless. He’s a soddin’ brute.’
‘And make us as bad as he is?’ replied Asphodel. ‘No, Thadora. I will not kill a helpless creature, nor be party to such an action, even if he is an evil brute.’
So picking up their dropped packs, they set off down the road, free once more.

Please add any comments about this chapter. I will try to get back to you as soon as possible.

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A Dwarf Work Song

Today is the fifth Tuesday in the month, so we have an extra blog. This time I’m posting a poem.The blog is short because I”m on holiday. I hope you enjoy it.

DWARF WORK SONG

Deep, deep below the ground
Wielding spade and pick.
Dwarven miners found
Minerals lying thick.

Tin, iron copper too,
We dig the all day long.
The solid rocks we hew
With sturdy arms and strong.

Precious stones we find.
Opals, rubies, jet.
We leave non behind.
Everyone we get.

But don’t you delve too deep.
We don’t know what lies there.
All kind of dangers sleep
And fearsome things lie there.

Please comment on this poem in the comments section.

Interview with Basalt Strongarm

newcoverwolfpack

 

Me: Thank you for allowing this interview. I know you are a
busy man.

Basalt: Fine, but be quick about it as I have work to do. I
am working on a particularly difficult piece of metalwork for
the Duke and I want to get back to it.

Me: OK, I’ll try to be quick. Tell me how you came to be in
Grosmer please.

Basalt: Hmph! I should be working my own mine now, not
doing wrought ironwork for someone else!

Me: Please explain.

Basalt: My parents owned a fine mine in Ghraali. They had
just one son, called Schist, but always wanted another child,
they said. When I was born many years later, they were
delighted.

Me: Where is Ghraali?

Basalt: It is the dwarven homeland at the southern end of the Western Mountains, just to the west of the Inner Sea. Fine ores and gems can be found there. It was once volcanic, but not any more. Not like the Mountains of Doom!

Here he shuddered as if he was remembering an unpleasant experience.

Me: Did the mine fail then?

Basalt: Not at all! It was all my brother and his wife.

Me: Please explain.

Basalt: Well, my brother was very caring towards me at first. He was nearly fully grown when I was born. He used to make wooden toys for me. He was a very good wood carver and he taught me how to carve too. Then he met HER.

Me: Her?

Basalt: His wife! She was called Opal. He met her one day in the town. She was visiting a relative or something. Oh, she was beautiful, of that there is no doubt, but she was hard and cold inside. She had ambition. Her ambition was to be rich.

Me: So how did that affect you?

Basalt. She poisoned Schist against me. She wanted him to have sole control of the mine, see. My parents were going to leave it to us jointly. After they were married, she came to work with us in our mine, of course. One day, there was an accident in the mine. Mother had taken me with her to the face. This was common practice with youngsters as both men and women work in the mines. I was playing with a small hammer a little distance away, tapping at a little rock when I heard a terrible rumbling and the rock face fell down covering mother.

Here he paused and sniffed. I waited for him to continue.

Basalt: I ran and tried to clear some of the rocks with my little hammer and bare hands. Others came to help, but when we finally pulled her out it was too late.

Me: I’m sorry, Basalt. It must have been dreadful for a small boy.

Basalt: Yes, it was.

Me: But you still had your father.

Basalt: Yes, for a little time. Then a similar thing happened again. This time it was my father who was killed. So here was I with only my brother and his wife to look after me.

Me: Did she show you any animosity at that time?

Basalt. No, not really. she was cold, did all that she had to for me, but no more. Schist tried to do as much as he could at first, but gradually he froze towards me too. I swear she poisoned his mind with false tales. I know she did tell him some things against me.

Me: But you were now part owner of the mine.

Basalt: Yes, but still a minor so had no say. Schist did all the decision making and day to day running.

Me: What happened when you came of age?

Basalt: That was when the worst started. There were a few falls in the mine and Opal accused me of causing them. Firstly she said it was carelessness, then she began to imply that it was sabotage–that I wanted the mine for myself and was trying to kill her and Schist. Eventually a fall, quite natural this one, just missed Schist. She took her opportunity and somehow managed to convince the elders of the town that I had engineered it. She even got some of the workers to testify that they had seen me interfering with the workface. They were believed and I was told that I could face the death penalty or exile. I chose to leave and that is how I came to be in Grosmer.
I am beginning to think that Opal also had something to do with the death of my parents, but I have no proof, and after all these years I cannot possibly prove anything.

Me: Thank you for your time, Basalt.

Basalt: Thank you. Now I must go to finish that job.

Jovinda and Noni Part 5 The Birth of Carthinal

newcoverwolfpack

 

Jovinda and Noni moved into the house Kendo had given them two weeks later. Noni’s father was generous enough to pay for some of the furniture, and although the house was not filled with furniture, they had enough.

The house was two streets away from Jovinda’s old home. It was a three storey house with a small garden and four bedrooms. The ground floor comprised of a living room, dining room and a kitchen. The hall ran the length of the house with stairs mounting up the left hand side.

At the front was a living room with a bay window and behind it was the dining room. The hallway turned right to a door leading into the garden. The kitchen was right at the back.
On the first floor, there were two bedrooms and a bathroom, more stairs up to the second floor and two more bedrooms.

Jovinda declared that she must have a nurse for the coming baby as befitted her station as the wife of a diplomat and daughter of the leader of the guilds and Noni indulged her. They spent many hours setting up the nursery and nurse’s room.

Three weeks before the baby was due, Noni and Jovinda interviewed several candidates for the job of nurse and appointed a woman in her early forties. Her name was Blendin and she came with excellent references. They decided she should move in right away so she was settled by the time the baby arrived.

The early summer had been hot. The baby was due on the fifth day of Sylissdar. That day came and went, then five more. Jovinda waddled into their living room wiping the sweat from her brow and flopped down into a chair. She rang a bell and a maid arrived.

‘Please may I have some water,’ Jovinda asked the maid, who left to do her mistress’s bidding.

Jovinda and Noni were not amongst the rich of Bluehaven, he being a junior diplomat, but they were well enough off to be able to afford a maid and cook. Jovinda had been most grateful for the help these servants gave her as her confinement approached. How she would be glad when she had this baby. It was so uncomfortable in the hot weather.
The maid returned with a jug of water and a glass. She poured a glass and handed it to Jovinda. Suddenly, a pain struck Jovinda. She gasped.

‘Please, Grella, go and get Blendin, then run to the Even Embassy and find Noni. I think the baby’s coming.’

The girl ran as fast as she could, and Blendin arrived almost immediately.

Jovinda had had no more pains and she wondered if it had been indigestion and not the baby, but then she was wracked with another.

‘It’s the baby coming, alright,’ said Blendin, nodding her head. ‘The pains aren’t too close together yet, so I think there’ll be some time before we need to send for the midwife. Let’s get you upstairs and have things ready for when we send for her.’

In this instance she was wrong, though. Shortly after arriving in the bedroom, Jovinda’s waters broke. Then the pains came thick and fast. No sooner had one pain faded away than another arrived. Jovinda began to cry.

‘Make it stop. Please, Bramara, make it stop.’

Blendin wiped the girl’s sweating brow with a cloth dipped in cool water.

‘There, there,’ she said. ‘It’ll stop as soon as the baby arrives. It shouldn’t be too long now.’

‘To the seventh hell with the baby,’ retorted Jovinda. ‘The little bastard is tearing me apart.’

She began to swear profusely and to say she cared nothing for the child struggling to be born. If her father and mother had heard those words coming from their well-brought-up daughter they would have wondered where she learned them.

‘I don’t care if there’s no baby, but please make this pain stop.’

Then she felt her muscles contract involuntarily and she began to push.

‘Come on,’ Blendin encouraged her. ‘Push hard. Oh, I can see the baby’s head.’

Jovinda gave one last enormous push and the head emerged quickly followed by the rest of the baby, all wet and bloody.’

Blendin held the child up so Jovinda could see.

‘A little boy,’ she exclaimed, ‘and he’s got your auburn hair.’ The baby let out a tremendous wail at being thrust from his nice safe place into the world. ‘And a good strong pair of lungs, too,’ she added.

Just at that moment, the door opened and Noni and the midwife arrived together.

Noni rushed over to his wife and looked at Blendin.

‘Is everything alright?’ he asked. ‘He came very quickly. Is Jo alright? Is the baby alright?’

Jovinda laughed through the tiredness that was now overcoming her.

The midwife took over the cutting of the cord and the inspection of the afterbirth while Blendin cleaned the baby and passed him to his mother, now grinning. Then the midwife turned to Noni.

‘Your wife, it seems, had an easy birth,’ Jovinda grimaced at this. It had seemed very hard to her. The midwife was continuing. ‘It’s lucky your nurse has some experience in delivering babies, but I think your wife would have been fine even on her own. It’s woman like her who ought to have all the babies.’

Jovinda yawned, then said ‘Oh no. You say it was easy, but to me it wasn’t.’

‘Trust me, girl,’ replied the midwife, ‘There are women who are in labour for days, and then the baby has to be pulled out, or even cut out.’

Jovinda shuddered at this thought, then as Blendin passed the little boy to her, she held him out to his father.

‘See, Noni,’ she said. ‘See what we’ve made. A lovely little boy. What shall we call him?’

‘I think Carthinal is a good name, what do you think?’

‘Carthinal,’ she felt the name on her tongue. ‘Yes an excellent name.’

She looked into the little boy’s eyes, all pain forgotten, and said, ‘Welcome to the world, Carthinal.’

4 More Pairs of Commonly Confused Words

Even More Commonly Confused Words

I was reading the BT news the other day. Their journalists ought to read this blog I think because they keep making errors. The first one here I noticed a couple of days ago.

Peek/Peak
The article headline said something like ‘A sneak peak at…’
Peak, of course is the top of a mountain, while Peek is a quick glimpse of something. Perhaps there was a mountain hiding behind another, or a very sly one that was hiding, but I doubt it.

To, Too and Two.
This frequently appears in comments by people, and also in, I’m afraid to say, posts by writers.
To indicates movement towards as in ‘He gave the parcel to me.’
Too is an excess of something. ‘I had eaten too much and so I felt ill.’
I don’t often see Two misused. It is, of course the number. ‘Two buses passed me before the one I wanted arrived.’

Breath/Breathe
This can be a tricky one.
Breath is a noun and is what you take.
‘The doctor told me to take a deep breath.’
Breathe is a verb and is what you do.
‘The room seemed airless and I was finding it hard to breathe.’

Baring (bare)/Bearing(bear)
Another one from BT news.
Baring is the act of making bare, or naked. It is also used when revealing truths.
‘Baring all, the spy held nothing back in his interrogation.’
‘She removed her clothes, baring all.’
Bearing is carrying. (or of course, a large mammal living in the northern regions of the planet.)
‘The messenger arrived bearing the news of the king’s death.’

Then there is the problem of the past tense of these verbs. The past tense of Bear is Bore.
‘She bore the news that she had not got the job with equinamity.’
BUT, the past tense of Bare is Bared.
‘During the investigation, the criminal bared all.’

Re-launch of The Wolf Pack

newcoverwolfpack

 

The Wolf Pack has now gone live on Amazon for Kindle, complete with new cover and some alterations to the story. It will be on special offer from June 11th to 17th. £0.99 or $0.99.

This is very exciting. Now for The Never Dying Man and then Part 3, Wolf Moon, which hasn’t been published yet at all.

Here is a bit about the story

The Wolf Pack

To end his apprenticeship and be admitted to the ranks of the mages is all that Carthinal wants and so he is excited to travel from Bluehaven to Hambara, where the tests will take place. He did not expect to end up travelling far beyond Hambara on a quest to find the long lost sword of the legendary King Sauvern.

Along with three strangers that he met on his journey, the beautiful but headstrong elven cleric, Asphodel, Fero, a dark foreigner from lands far to the south, known as the Black Ranger and a fearless dwarf, Basalt, Carthinal reluctantly sets out on this seemingly impossible quest.

Followed by Randa, the snooty aristocratic daughter of the Duke of Hambara and a very young runaway thief, known as Thad, Carthinal has to decide whether to send them back or allow them to continue on this dangerous quest. There will certainly be fireworks as Randa will try to take over the leadership of the group.

Faced with floods, wolf attacks and near death in the mountains, Carthinal and his friends will have to accept help from the least likely sources and face their innermost fears.

But this is more than a simple adventure. The fate of a nation hangs in the balance.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments section.

The Wolf Pack Interlude

INTERLUDE

Yssa woke still feeling tired. She must try to relax a bit more. She had been working far too hard on those books Carthinal and Basalt had found. They were very interesting though. She found it hard to leave each evening. Yesterday, Rollo had insisted she eat dinner with him. “For old time’s sake.” he had said.

She had agreed to do so. She and Rollo had been lovers once. He had been lonely after the death of his wife. She knew Randa did not remember her, the child had only been three or four years old at the time she and Rollo had been seeing each other, and she had not seen that much of her as the child spent a lot of the time in her nursery.
In the early days after his beloved wife’s death, Rollo had not wanted to look at the child he blamed for this event. He had provided her with all the creature comforts she needed with the best nurses that money could buy, but he rarely went near the nursery to see his daughter. It had been Yssa who had told him that a child needed love as well as food, shelter and warmth.

She persuaded Rollo to visit his daughter more often. Fairly soon, Rollo discovered his love for the child, and, to assuage his guilt at neglecting her in her earliest years, he lavished her with not only love, but attention and showered her with gifts, giving in to her every whim. Thus Randa had grown into a beautiful, but spoiled child who had become a beautiful, but wilful and snobbish young lady.
The door opened and admitted Emmienne. She and Tomac had arrived about three sixdays ago from Bluehaven. They were Mabryl’s other apprentices that she had promised Carthinal she would take under her wing. They were proving to be very good. The girl, Emmienne, had taken to bringing her tea each morning along with hot water for her to wash, and Tomac was excellent at lighting fires. She could hear him busying himself doing that job at the moment. She smiled at Emmienne.
‘Thank you.’ she said. ‘Put the tea there. I’ll be up in a minute.’
The girl did as Yssa bade her and then left. She was a plain girl, Yssa thought—about  seventeen, with a slender figure and chestnut hair. Tomac was younger. He was fourteen, and had a shock of jet-black hair, which he found difficult to keep tidy. He tried to keep it tied back, but it kept escaping its confinement. She smiled. She liked her new apprentices very much, and if she were honest, she liked the attention they gave her too.
After drinking her tea, Yssa rose. As she did so, a feeling of nausea and giddiness overtook her. It had happened once or twice recently. She hoped it was not some illness or other. She did not want to lose time on her translations of the books. She dressed and the moment passed.
Later in the day as she gave some instructions to her apprentices. She wanted them to try to learn a simple spell when Emmienne asked about Carthinal.
‘When did he leave, Yssa?’ she asked.
Yssa looked at her. She wondered if the girl had a crush on the half-elf. She would not blame her if she had. She herself had fallen under his spell and she hardly an impressionable young girl.
‘He and his companions left on the twenty second of Khaldar. That will be five and a half sixdays.’
Something began to dawn on her when she spoke of that time. In her mind she did some quick calculations. She realised that she had not had her monthly bleeding since before that date. She had been working so hard on the books that she had not realised. What with the translations and the new apprentices to settle in she had been so busy. Now she realised what her nausea and giddiness meant. She was pregnant. She had little doubt. She was always regular as clockwork, and now, she calculated she had misssed two bleedings. She paled. What should she do?
Yssa finished her lesson with the two apprentices and then said, ‘You two have worked hard since you came to me. You deserve a break. Take this and go and have a good time in Hambara.’
She threw a bag of coins towards them. Tomac caught it deftly, and thanking her profusely, the pair rushed from the room, as anxious to be gone as Yssa was for them to leave.
Once alone, she contemplated her position. She did not want a child. She had never felt maternal in any way, but having an abortion seemed quite out of the question. Elves have a reverence for all life, even that of the unborn and Yssa was no exception in this respect. She was going to have a child, and she could not turn back. How had she been so careless? Her work, even before the finding of the hidden books had absorbed her so much that she had forgotten to take the herbs to prevent pregnancy.
As she thought about it she thought she should go away, back to Quantissarillishon, the elven capital, and to find refuge with her parents. Her mother would be scandalised at first, of course, but she would soon come round when she thought of a grandchild. She could leave the child there, to be cared for by her parents, and Carthinal need never know. She did not want him to feel he had any obligation to her or the child. The mistake had been hers and hers alone.

As the day wore on, she began to see that it was not that simple. She could not just go running off home like a little girl with a grazed knee. She had obligations here. She had taken on two apprentices, and she did not want to let them down after they had lost Mabryl in such tragic circumstances.

She considered the translation. No one could do it like she could, and the importance to magic could not be exaggerated. No, she must stay here. She still need not tell Carthinal though. He would probably be back before her pregnancy became obvious, and then he would go back to Bluehaven where he probably had family and friends.She suddenly realised how little she knew about this charismatic half-elf who had captured her heart in spite of herself; she, who thought herself so worldly wise.
During the next few days, she seemed distracted. Rollo noticed and she confessed her pregnancy to him.
Then she asked him, ‘Rollo, if someone were going to have your child and did not tell you, how would you feel if you later found out?’
‘You are considering not telling the father I take it?’ the Duke replied.
Yssa nodded.
‘I won’t ask who it is,’ he continued, ‘but if it were me, and I found out later, I would be very hurt and maybe angry too.’
‘Yes, I thought you’d say that,’ sighed Yssa. He had not solved her problem and she continued to think hard.

An Interview with Asphodel

094Fungi

 

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

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

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

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

Me: So you live inside the trees?

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

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

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

Me: Are you all vegetarian then?

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

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

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

Me: A bit like a king then?

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

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

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

Me: Is the Elflord always a man?

Asphodel: Yes.

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

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

Me: How is it decided who will inherit?

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

Me: That sounds complicated.

Asphodel: Not when you get used to it.

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

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

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

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

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

Asphodel: Thank you. Good bye.

Jovinda and Noni Part 4

wolfpackcover (2)

 

Jovinda had promised herself that she would tell her parents of her pregnancy the very next day.

 

The following morning, Jovinda got up with a feeling of dread in her stomach. How was she going to tell her parents of her pregnancy and how would they react.
She put it off until after the mid-day meal. When they retired to the sitting room, she screwed up her courage.
‘Mother, Father, I have something to tell you,’ she said. She paused and took a deep breath.
‘What is it, Jo?’ Kendo asked.
The girl’s eyes filled with tears. ‘There’s no easy way to say this,’ she said as the tears fell. ‘I’m pregnant.’
Her mother gave a gasp, then surged to her feet and slapped her daughter across the face.
‘You little slut,’ she said. ‘Who’s the father? If you even know!’
It was Jovinda’s turn to gasp. The tears that had started to fall at her mother’s reaction turned into anger at the implication held in those words.
‘Are you saying I’ve slept with lots of men?’ she said. ‘I would never sleep with anyone if I was not in love with him. There’s only one man and that’s Noni. He’s the father of my child.’
‘That’s immaterial,’ her mother retorted. ‘One man or ten, you’ve brought disgrace to our family. Your father was likely to get re-elected to the leadership of all the guilds in the city in the next few months. A scandal like this could lose that for him. And what about our friends and neighbours? What will they think?’
Kendo gently took hold of Ellire’s hand as she raised it to slap her daughter again.
‘Let’s talk about this calmly,’ he said, leading his wife back to the chair she had occupied.
He looked at his wife. ‘First, Ell, my dear, our daughter’s mistake is unlikely to have any impact on my election to the guild leadership. Secondly, there are things that can be done about this.’
Jovinda looked at her father. She was still angry at her mother’s reaction and she did not like what her father was implying.
‘Are you suggesting going to a witch and getting rid of the child? This is a new life growing in me. I refuse to kill it.’
Ellire had calmed down a little at her husband’s words.
‘Jovinda,’ she said. ‘That is the perfect solution. No one need know. Have you told anyone yet?’
‘I’ve told Noni and Salor. And it isn’t the perfect solution. This child has two parents. Me and Noni. He has the right to have a say in what happens to it, just as he would if it had been born. He says that elves revere life and will not take it unnecessarily. Abortion would be unnecessary in this case. Anyway, he wants to marry me.’
At this, Ellire began to cry. Kendo took her arm and led her to the door with the instructions to go and lie down, then he came back to talk to Jovinda.
‘Darling, please don’t take any notice of what your mother says. This had been a big shock to her, as it has to me, too. I didn’t think it of you. Still, it’s happened and we must decide, calmly, I might add, what the next step should be.’
Jovinda looked up into her father’s eyes.
‘The next step is that Noni and I will get married. I would truly not have had it happen like this, but it has. I don’t regret what Noni and I did. I don’t think I really regret being pregnant except for what you and mother think. Noni and I will get married whatever you say. I don’t need your permission as I’m over sixteen. I would like your blessing, but with or without it I will marry him.’
Kendo sighed. ‘I see we have no choice. There will be a scandal for a while, but people will forget. There will be something else to take its place. I wish this hadn’t happened, but it has. I will go and talk to your mother now and see what I can do. You’d better keep out of her way for a bit.’

Noni’s father was no more pleased than Jovinda’s parents, but all three came to accept that the marriage would, no must, as Ellire said, take place as soon as possible. The baby would be due in the spring.
Jovinda wanted to wait until Bramadar 1st, the first day of winter and the feast of Bramara, the goddess of the familt. It was thought to bring good luck to couples who married of that day, but all the parents thought it would be too long to wait. After all, it would not be possible to pass off the birth as premature if they waited so long.
It was not the wedding that Ellire had foreseen for her daughter. She had thought of a large wedding with lots of guests, her daughter looking radiant and beautiful and her husband a shadowy figure in the background. She would have been the perfect hostess dressed in beautiful clothes bought specially for the occasion.
Now, instead, was this shady marriage. Oh, it was in the temple of Bramara, but there were few guests. Salor attended Jovinda and a young elf she had not seen before attended Noni. Salor’s parents were present as well as Noni’s father and another couple of elves. The only thing that was as she had foreseen was Jovinda’s radiant expression. Her daughter did look beautiful, she had to admit, with her hair flowing down her back, brushed to a gleaming copper. Her eyes shone, as did Noni’s deep blue ones. There was no doubt they loved each other deeply.
After the ceremony they all went back to the house she shared with her husband and ate a meal before Kendo stood up and tapped his spoon on a glass.
‘I would like to just say a word, please,’ he said. ‘We all here know of Jo’s pregnancy, and I must say that we were none too pleased when she told us, but we have come to terms with that now.’ He looked hard at Ellire as if challenging her to argue. ‘We are now looking forward to welcoming our grandchild in the spring. So, to show that we are now happy with our new son-in-law, we have bought a house for them.’
Jovinda stared at her father open-mouthed and Noni’s eyes opened wide.
Kendo was continuing though. ‘The house is not large but it is big enough for three and has a garden. What’s more, it’s not too far from here so when our grandson or daughter arrives, we can see lots of him or her. Here are the keys, Jo and Noni. I hope you like it.’
Before he could sit down, Jovinda jumped up and threw her arms round him, nearly smothering him.
‘Oh, Thank you, thank you, father,’ she cried. ‘I know you didn’t mind us staying here, but to have our own place…’ She broke down crying with happiness as Noni hugged her and said his thanks to his father-in-law.

Will Jovinda have a boy or a girl and what will her parents think of their new grandchild?

The next episode will be on the third Tuesday in May.

Please leave a comment as to what you think of the story of Jovinda and Noni so far. I will get back to you as soon as I can.