Tag Archives: magicians

The Finding of the Prophecy from The Wolf Pack. A never-before seen part of the story.

I originally wrote this as the first chapter of The Wolf Pack, but I had a comment from someone who read the book that it was too slow to start and so I eliminated the first few chapters. It has not been published before and so you will be getting a very first glimpse of the earlier time. before the actual story starts. I hope you enjoy it.

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The half-elf leafed through the book he was studying. He was due to take the tests to end his apprenticeship soon. Mabryl, his master and adopted father had sent off to the Mage Tower in Hambara asking for the young man to be considered for the tests at the next opportunity.
He was a tall, handsome young man, just over six feet with shoulder-length auburn hair, a closely trimmed beard and eyes of an intense blue. He was sitting in the study at the home of Mabryl in Bluehaven, which was situated on the south coast of the land of Grosmer. With him were Mabryl’s other two apprentices, 14 year old Tomac and 16 year old Emmienne. Tomac pushed a lock of his unruly dark hair out of his eyes.
‘I think that’s the Master coming in now, Carthinal,’ he said. ‘You’d better look as though you’ve been doing something instead of moping around waiting for that letter or you’ll be in trouble.’
Just as he said this, the door opened and Mabryl entered shaking his cloak out as he did so.
‘It’s cold out there,’ he said, ‘and it’s turning to snow if I’m not much mistaken. Unusual this far south.’ He turned to his three apprentices. ‘Have you finished the tasks I set you?’ he asked as he hung his cloak on a stand by the door. Carthinal stood up and walked over to the fire, putting a fresh log on to the flames.
‘Come and get warm, and, no I’ve not finished. I can’t seem to settle down to anything until I hear about whether I can take the tests soon. I think Emmienne has finished though. I can’t say about Tomac.’
‘Nearly,’ replied Tomac, jumping down from his chair and carrying his workbook to his master. ‘I was a little stuck on the moon phases though. It’s complicated trying to work out both moons at the same time.’
‘Stick to it, youngster,’ Emmienne said from the window seat. She grinned across at the younger boy, the grin lighting up her otherwise rather plain face. ‘I had problems too, but it comes eventually.’
Tomac groaned and went back to his seat.
‘I’ve finished though, Sir,’ she said. ‘I’ve learned that new spell you gave me and am sure I can make it work. When can I try it?’
Mabryl laughed. ‘Such enthusiasm. We’ll try it out tomorrow, I think. In the meantime, I’ve made what I think may be a big discovery. Perhaps the most important one for many, many years. Look,’ and he put an ancient looking book on the table. The three apprentices gathered round.
‘I think it may be a spell book from before the Forbidding,’ he went on.
Emmienne gasped. ‘That is old, and if it is, we’ll be able to find lost spells. You’ll be famous, Sir.’
‘Calm down, Emm. It may not be the spell-book of a magister, or even an arch-mage,’ smiled Carthinal. ‘It may have just the spells we already know and not any of the lost ones.’
Just over seven hundred years previously there had been a war between conflicting mages. It had caused such devastation and hardship to everyone that the king had forbidden the use of magic on pain of death and all spell books were ordered to be burned. Some, however, had been rescued and these came to light occasionally. During the time of the Fobidding, as it came to be known, much knowledge had been lost and there were currently mages working to try to re-discover the lost spells. If this book were to be of use, it would need to be taken to one of these mages.
Just then the door opened and Lillora, Mabryl’s housekeeper entered.
‘Sorry to disturb you, sir,’ she said, ‘but a bird arrived a few minutes ago. I thought you should know.’
‘I’ll come and look then,’ replied the mage and left the three apprentices to their own devices.
Carthinal picked up the book that Mabryl had bought and began to leaf through it. He could understand little of what was written there. Firstly it was in an archaic script and language and secondly he was as yet only an apprentice and had not the knowledge to understand more than a limited number of spells.
He frowned as he tried to read the words on the page. He lifted the book from the table to take it nearer to the light when a loose page fell onto the floor. He stooped to pick it up and realised that he could read it, unlike the rest of the book, and that it was not a page that had fallen out, but a note that had been inserted. He took it to the window seat and sat down by Emmienne to read it.
‘What’s that?’ asked the brown-haired girl, straining to read it upside down.
‘I’m not sure,’ replied Carthinal, wrinkling his brow. ‘It fell out of this book that Mabryl has bought but it doesn’t seem to be the same writing, nor is it in the same archaic script. It’s a note of some kind.’ He paused to read it.
Just then, Mabryl came back holding a piece of paper in his hand.
‘It’s good news, Carthinal,’ he told the young man. ‘There is a space for you to take your tests in the next batch, which takes place just before Grillon’s Day. That’s in about five sixdays time so we’ll need to leave here in three sixdays to allow us time to settle in before your ordeal.’ He saw that Carthinal was holding a paper. ‘What’s that you’ve got there?’ he queried.
‘It fell out of the book you bought,’ replied Carthinal. ‘It doesn’t seem to be by the author of the book though. It’s in a more modern script that I can read. It doesn’t make much sense though.’ He handed it to the other man who read it, then read it again, this time out loud.

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

Well,’ he continued, ‘it seems a rather strange thing to write and it doesn’t make a lot of sense. How can Kalhera descend from the mountains? She’s a god and the gods don’t come down to Vimar.’
He turned the page in his hand and saw some more writing on the back. ‘This says that it is a quotation from something that the writer heard and wrote down. The author says he visited the Oracle on the Holy Island and this was what he was told the oracle had said earlier in the day, but to no one in particular. Only the attendants were present it seems.’
He replaced the paper in the book on the table and turned to Carthinal.
‘We must take this to a colleague of mine in the Mage Tower when we go,’ he continued. ‘She is working on finding the old spells, I believe, and this may be of use to her. The loose note may be a prophecy if it came from the Oracle, but who knows when it was made? It could be that it was centuries ago, or yesterday; and it could be referring to a time well in the future or even in the past. I think we should ignore it for now. Lillora says that our lunch is almost ready, so I suggest we go to the table before she gets mad.’
So the three apprentices forgot all about the book and the note as they enjoyed Mabryl’s housekeeper’s excellent cooking. After the meal they returned to their studies. Mabryl gave them all tasks to complete and then went out again to visit the Duke of Bluehaven, who was an old friend of his, taking the book with him.
Duke Danu of Bluehaven had trained at the Mage Tower in his youth. He had some talent for magic, but with the death of his elder brother in an epidemic, he had to take over the duties and prepare to become the Duke one day. He had never taken the tests to end his apprenticeship, but he retained an interest in magic and still practiced it in a small way. ‘To keep my hand in.’ he told people.
Today he was sitting in his study going over the accounts of the duchy when a knock came at the door.
‘Arch-mage Mabryl to see you, sir,’ said his butler.
‘Send him in, then,’ replied Danu, rising from his seat and walking over to clasp Mabryl in a hug. ‘You’ve not been to visit in some while, my friend,’ he scolded the other man. ‘Busy with your three apprentices, I suppose.’
Mabryl smiled at the Duke. ‘Yes, they do keep me busy. Carthinal is ready to take his tests and become a full mage now.’
‘Is that so?’ Duke Danu raised an eyebrow. ‘Hardly seems any time at all when you took that scruffy little urchin in off the streets. Everyone thought you were mad, you know. Taking a street child to be your apprentice; and then adopting him. Well, it seems we were wrong. He’s turning out all right.’
‘Considering his background, yes. He still has his faults and I can’t say there weren’t times when I agreed with you that I’d done the wrong thing. But I didn’t come here to talk about Carthinal. I’ve made a discovery and I want your opinion.’ He pulled the spell-book out of a bag at his side. ‘I’m going to take this to Yssa at the Mage Tower when I take Carthinal. She will be the best to decide how important it is.’ He handed the book to Danu.
The Duke whistled. ‘This is important, Mabryl. I can’t read it, but it certainly looks like a spell-book to me. It’s old and could easily date to before the Forbidding.’ He picked up the note that was still between its pages. ‘What’s this?’ he asked.
‘A little note that was in the book. Carthinal found it. It doesn’t seem to belong to the book though, and I’ve thought it could be a hoax. Someone putting a seeming prophecy in an important old book.’
‘Maybe, but I don’t think so. Some research I’ve been doing suggests that Grosmer is about to face some danger. This may be a prophecy about that. I would suggest you take it to Rollo in Hambara when you go. His library is much more extensive than mine is and he can find out more. I’ve been in touch with him about this possible danger so he knows a little of what I suspect.’
‘I don’t know Duke Rollo,’ Mabryl replied. ‘He may not believe me. I’ve heard he’s a suspicious man. I think that this note maybe a hoax even if you don’t. I’ll need to prove that I’ve come from you.’
‘I’ll write you a letter to give to him,’ Danu said going over to his desk and picking up his pen. ‘I’ll also give you this.’ He picked up a small statuette of a trotting horse about three inches long and two high that sat on his desk. ‘It’s one of a pair that we found in our adventuring days. He has the other. He’ll know that I’ve sent you when he sees that, especially if you ask him about the other one. Now, sit down and I’ll get some wine for us to drink while we talk about other things.’
So the two old friends passed the afternoon remembering past times and gossiping about the goings on in the city of Bluehaven as the afternoon passed into evening and the Duke’s work lay unfinished on the desk.

 

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The Promises of Dragons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Once all the council members were assembled he turned to the farmer.

‘Now tell the council what you told me,’ he said.

The farmer bowed to the council and told of the theft of a cow by a dragon. He told of the disappearance of other cows in the previous weeks as well, but he had thought that it was rustlers. He had not thought of a predator as there had seen no evidence of blood or bones. The cows had just vanished.

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

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

Another councilor asked, ‘It was in the sky, against the sun. Could it have been a cloud?’

‘And clouds swoop down and steal cattle?’

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

Two days later the volunteers set off to track down the mythical beast.

They crossed the plain towards the mountains in the direction the farmer had told the council the dragon had gone. It took a full day to get to the base of the mountains and so they made camp there. The men were in good spirits. Searching for an extinct creature was a bit of a lark. They were mostly young men who had volunteered and not one of them believed the story the farmer had told.

‘An old man, going senile and seeing things,’ said one.

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

‘What about the cows that vanished?’ asked a third.

‘Rustlers, as the old man suggested himself,’ the first volunteer told him.

They all laughed at the foolishness of old men.

The next few days they spent climbing the mountains. The going was not easy and as they got higher and higher some of them began to wonder why they were here on this futile search. Where were they to look? They had no idea, really, but then one of them, older than the others, suggested they look for a cave or caves. He told them he had heard that dragons like to live in caves. One young man then said that he had lived in these mountains when he was a youngster and could remember some caves where the children used to play. He led the troop in the direction of these caves.

Soon they could see dark openings in a cliff ahead of them. They stopped and had a meeting. None of them really believed in the dragon, but the oldest man said that they ought to be careful, ‘just in case’. Later that afternoon, just as they were about to set off up to the mountainside to the caves they heard a strange noise as though a large flock of bats was flying overhead or a tanner was shaking out a piece of leather. A flapping sound like wings, but not feathery wings like a bird. More like what they thought of as …dragon wings. The sunlight disappeared momentarily and as they looked up, they saw what could only be a dragon, flying towards the largest of the cave openings.

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

‘They were evidently not extinct. Some must have survived in the depths of the mountains where no one goes,’ said the oldest man, standing beside him and shielding his eyes as he watched the beast enter the cave.

They waited a full day until the creature left again. That was their opportunity. They had all heard the tales of vast treasures built up by dragons. If it were true, then they would all be rich men.

The stench of dragon hit them as they neared the cave. It was a sickly, sweet smell with hints of sourness in it. They held their noses. Around the mouth of the cave lay many bones from large animals. Many were obviously deer, but there were sheep and cow bones there too.

As they neared the lair the leader asked for a volunteer to go into the cave to look. These otherwise brave young men looked at each other, none of them wanting this task. What happened if the dragon returned while they were in the cave? Then one man stepped forward to volunteer.

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

They went in and smashed the eggs.

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

When Gulineran returned to her cave and found her smashed eggs her roar of anguish made the mountains themselves tremble. She determined to take her revenge. First she looked for the culprits. She saw them like ants, trekking down the mountainside. She flew over them and burned every last one to a crisp with her flaming breath. Then she swept down and breathed flame onto the hapless village. The cottages burned like tinder. Many lost their lives. Those who survived crowded into the village hall and there they decided to send for help to the nearby wizards, thinking perhaps magic would be able to destroy this dragon.

The message seemed to take a long time to get there but eventually a message came back. The wizards were very sorry, but they could not spare any one at the moment. They were just too busy.

One wizard was angry at that response and so he left the college and set off for the village. He was a young man by the name of Oni. Oni talked to the council, and promised to do something about the dragon. The council accepted his offer and promised him great rewards if he could manage to get rid of the great beast that was terrorising them.

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

‘Ah,’ Oni breathed, ‘I’ve not seen such beauty in two hundred years.’

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

‘No, but dragons live centuries,’ replied Oni. ‘You are the first female dragon I’ve seen in more than three.’

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

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

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

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

He then returned to Gulineran. He told her of his promise to the villagers.

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

I hope you like my little story. Please add a comment. I am always interested in what people think of my blogs. I’ll get back to you as quickly as I can.

An Interview with Duke Danu from The Wolf Pack

On a visit to Bluehaven I met with Duke Danu and he answered a few of my questions.

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Me: Good afternoon, Your Grace. Thank you for agreeing to answer  some questions.

Danu: I hope that I can give your readers some insight into my life and how I came to be involved, however slightly in the important events that took place last year.

Me: Firstly, how did you come to know Mabryl?

Danu: Well, I was, in fact, not the eldest child. I had an older brother, and so I was not expected to become the Duke, so I had to find another occupation. Fortunately I had a little
affinity for magic and so my father, being rather enlightened (magic isn’t trusted still after all these years since the Mage Wars) allowed me to go to the Mage Tower to train.

Me: That was where you met Mabryl?

Danu: Yes. He and I were in the same batch of youngsters training to be mages. In fact our teacher was the man who now leds the mages, Magister Robiam, although at the time he was simply Mage Robiam. He hadn’t even progressed to Arch-mage. Still, he was a good teacher and it was obvious that he would go far.

Me: Were you friends from the start?

Danu: Well, I was a bit jealous of Mabryl at the start. He was so much better than I was. He was a natural where I had to work hard to keep up. However, we soon overcame our differences and became firm friends.

Me: How was it that you ended up as Duke?

Danu: It was tragic really. While I was away there was sickness in Bluehaven. My mother contracted it by visiting and ministering to the poor who were sick. she then contracted the disease and my brother caught it from her. She recovered. My brother did not. Mother blamed herself for his death right up to her own. she never really recovered from it. A terrible thing, the death of one’s child.

Me: I am really sorry to hear of this tragedy.

Danu: Thank you. Of course my father sent for me straight away and told me that I must learn to be the Duke and give up my magic practices. I have, however, always kept an interest in magic, and although I never did the Apprentice Tests I have kept up with what is going on. This was why mabryl brought the prophecy to me when Carthinal found it in that old book.

Me: Did you know Carthinal then?

Danu: Not at that time. I knew Mabryl had taken him on as an apprentice. I advised him against it though. To take on a wild thing like him, who knew no discipline. Madness! Many times Mabryl came to see me in despair at one thing or the other he’d done. Then he went and adopted him! I will admit now that I was wrong and he has turned out alright in the end.

Me: About the prophecy. Did you know what it was about?

Danu: Not really. I could make some wild guesses, but they were just based on myths and legends so I didn’t say anything of my suspicions. I don’t want to say any more at the moment, but I have an idea as to who the ‘immortal mortal’ is.

I opened my mouth to ask him when he held up his hand.

Danu: No, I’m not saying any more until I have more facts of the matter.

Me: Tell me about Randa then.

Danu: She was a spoiled brat of a child. Rollo tried to make up for his earlier neglect of the girl by giving her everything she wanted. That made her think she was superior to everyone else, and her attitude to those not of her class was appalling. And to those who were non-human, like the elves and dwarves she was even worse. When she wanted to learn swordmanship I thought he would draw the line. What highly born young lady would ever need to swing a sword? It just isn’t lady-like. But no, he allowed her that too.

Me:  Wasn’t it a good job, though, that she could use a sword when she went on the quest with Carthinal and friends?

Danu: Perhaps if she hadn’t been able to wield a sword she would never have gone on the quest in the first place! And she would have chosen a husband instead of rejecting all those suitors that have asked her father for her hand. If she had been settled down with a few children she wouldn’t have been able to go on the quest, would she?

Me: Some say that it was foreordained that those particular folk went on that quest; that the gods had a hand in it.

Danu snorted: The gods, as you well know, young lady, do not interfere in the doings of humanity.

Me: But it does seem as though there were a few ‘pushes’ propelling them in the right direction.

Danu: Believe as you will, but I cannot think that the gods would have instigated that flood that killed so many people.

Me: Thank you for you time, Your Grace.

If you liked this interview, or even if you didn’t, please add your comment to the comments box. I’ll try to get back to you as soon as I can.

If you want to find out more about The Wolf Pack, click on the link at the side of this blog.

Re-launch of The Wolf Pack

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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.

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

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

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

PROLOGUE

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

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

PART 1

MEETINGS
CHAPTER 1

PROPHECY

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

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

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

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