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Carthinal's Story 10

Carthinal came out of the study in Mabryl’s house. He heard voices coming from the living room.


“I think you’re mad, Mabryl. He’s a wild kid from the streets.”


“He’s learning, Danu. He’s stayed in at night for the last two months.”


Carthinal realised that Mabryl was talking to Duke Danu, the ruler of the Duchy of Bluehaven. The duke had once been learning to be a mage, but his elder brother net with a fatal accident. This meant Danu had to leave his studies as he was now the heir to the dukedom.


He met Mabryl when they were both apprentices, and kept an interest in magic. The two men were close friends.


“I thought it was a madcap idea when you took him on as an apprentice, but to consider adopting him…”


Carthinal knew he should not be listening to a private conversation, but he could not resist. It concerned him. And what was Mabryl saying about adopting him? Carthinal crept quietly to the door in order to hear more.


“—potential. I felt it when I saw him teach himself to do a simple cantrip. He could be a great mage one day.”


“Maybe, but do you have to adopt him? He could get you into a lot of trouble.”


“Danu, I have no wife, no children. What’s going to happen to this when I leave this world?” He swept his hand around the room. “I don’t want just anyone coming in and going through my magic stuff. It could be dangerous.”


Carthinal crept away to his room. He needed to think. Do I want to be adopted? I’ve lived quite well up to now on my own.


After he heard Danu leave, Mabryl called up the stairs. “Carthinal, come down here, please. Don’t worry, you’re not in trouble—for once.”


Carthinal entered the living room and Mabryl told him to sit down.
“I’ve been talking to Duke Danu. I put an idea I had in front of him. I don’t think he thought it a good one, but I still do, in spite of his arguments against it.”


Carthinal shifted in his seat and kept his eyes downcast.


Mabryl told Carthinal about his plans to adopt him. “If I die without an heir, then all my things will revert to the Crown.” He ran his hands through his hair. “You are a orphan, Carthinal. You have no one and nothing, so I thought of adopting you. This would be a help to us both. What do you think?”


Carthinal looked up. “Please may I think about this? It’s a big step.” His thoughts were in turmoil. What exactly would his adoption entail?


Mabryl nodded. “Of course. I wouldn’t expect you to decide right away, but you do need to be fully in agreement. Now, you can go and think. I need to see some people who want their boy to become my apprentice, and I need to see what kind of potential he has.”


Carthinal returned to his room. Mabryl’s words span in his head.
He wants to adopt me. That means he’ll be my father. Do I want to replace my real father? But then he’s been dead for years. I can only just remember him. And what about the gang? If I become his son, then I can hardly go around with a criminal gang, can I.


Then he remembered other words Mabryl had said.
Mabryl said I’d inherit everything he has. This house and all that’s in it. That’s worth a lot. Could we move the gang’s HQ to here? No, that’d be no good. Can’t have the Beasts in this district.


Mabryl told Duke Danu I have great potential. He said I could be a great mage. Did he mean that?


These thoughts, and many others went round and round in his head until he thought he would go mad. It was a big decision. He dropped off to sleep to dream of an important quest where he used his magic to fend off many dangers.

Carthinal's Story 9

 

“Fox!” Wren yelled as he entered the headquarters. She rushed over and threw her arms around him. “What happened? Did that mage let you in? Are you going to learn magic?”


Carthinal grinned. It was good to see her and he hugged her back. “Yes, Mabryl has accepted me as an apprentice. I’ll be learning magic.’


“What have you learned so far?”


Carthinal’s grin disappeared. “Nothing, yet. Not even how to get that little flame every time. Mabryl says I’m too ill-disciplined and that magic needs concentration. Apparently I’m not able to concentrate well enough to learn any spells safely. Nor am I disciplined, he says.”


“You’ve got new clothes. And you’re clean. You smell good. Come on, let’s go to our room.”


But that had to wait, Rooster strode across the room. “Fox. How is it going.” He shook Carthinal’s hand.


“It’ll take some time. Magic is difficult to learn. Harder than picking pockets, it seems.”


“Well, we can wait. Time is something we have plenty of. As long as we eventually get the upper hand and become top gang, then we can wait.”
Carthinal stayed all night, but as the birds started to sing, he rose from the bed he was sharing with Wren. She woke.


“I’ve got to go, Wren,” he told her. “I shouldn’t have stayed so long. I only came to tell you what was happening.”


She reached up and pulled him down, kissing him. “Can’t you stay for another hour. I’ve missed you so.”


Carthinal protested, but eventually, Wren had her way and after an hour of love-making, he left.


The sun had risen and people were beginning to fill the streets. Mabryl would be up by now. Had his master missed him? What would he say? Would he refuse to teach him, now? After all, he had been insistent Carthinal stay in his house, and made a big thing about discipline.


As he approached the tree he had climbed down, the door opened and Lillora emerged carrying a basket.


She stopped and put her hands on her hips. “Well, the truant returns.”


Carthinal groaned. So his escape had not gone undetected.


“Mabryl thought you had decided not to learn. After all, it’s hard work, learning magic. You’d better go on in and see what he says.”


Carthinal plodded up the steps and entered through the door Lillora had left open. He paused in the hallway, looking around.


Emmienne came rushing down the stairs. “Oh, are you in trouble! Mabryl is both anxious and angry at the same time.” She grinned. “Where’ve you been? Going out at night to see a girl, are you? Who is she? Is she pretty?”


“Yes…no…er…”


“There you are!” Mabryl’s voice came from in the study. The man himself strode out, lips pressed tightly together and hands clenched by his side. “What do you mean by sneaking out at night? What have I told you about magic needing discipline? It needs honesty, too. Where have you been that you needed to sneak out like that?”


Carthinal took a deep breath. He would be honest. His Grandfather had taught him not to tell lies, and now Mabryl was talking about honesty. “I went to see my old mates. They needed to know where I am and what I’m doing. If they didn’t know, they’d think I’ve betrayed them and come after me.”


“Hmm. You could have told me that. I understand.” Mabryl’s tone softened. “But no more of it. You have had no one to discipline you or teach you right from wrong for a long time. I expect no more of these night-time excursions.” He swung around and entered his study. His voice came back. “Come and start today’s lessons. I think more writing practice is needed.”


Carthinal groaned and followed his master into the study. Writing and reading. That’s all he seemed to be doing. That and learning the names of plants and the stars. When was he going to learn some real magic?


The days passed. Carthinal read the books and copied spells and other things Mabryl gave him. Soon he was writing a fair hand, and his reading improved. Still Mabryl made no move to teach him any magic.


His mind wandered when he was reading the books on the history of magic. What was the point of learning about things long past?
He voiced this to Mabryl one day.


“We need to remember what has gone before, and the results of these things,” his mentor replied. “If not, we will be condemned to repeat the mistakes of those who went before us, and also we can’t benefit from the good things, either.”


“Hmm. I suppose so.” Carthinal went back to reading about how King Sauvern united the warring kingdoms of Grosmer into one kingdom.


He still wanted to see his old friends, though, especially Wren. They had been good to him, and saved him from starvation. He could not forget them, and so, one night, a few weeks after Mabryl had forbidden nightly excursions, he climbed out of his window once more.


He made his way to the Beast’s HQ. Tapping on the door in the usual way, Porcupine admitted him.


She grinned to see him. “Wren thought you’d forgotten her. She’s…”


“Never.” Carthinal made his way along the hallway.


As he entered the main room, he spotted Wren on the other side. He called out to her.


She stopped what she was doing and stood stock still, eyes wide.


Her hand flew to her mouth. “F…Fox.”


Carthinal frowned. Why did she look like that? Her attitude was not one of pleasure—more like fear. He’d never done anything to make her afraid, so what was going on?


“Hi, Wren. I managed to get out again. I had to be careful, though. Mabryl caught me last time, so I waited until he thought I was going to be a good boy.”


Wren smiled, but Carthinal thought it looked a bit watery. Something’s wrong.


Cat entered and called to Wren. “Are you coming to bed?”


Carthinal whirled round. So that was the way it was. Cat had taken advantage of his long absence to make out with his girl. Well, that was going to end right now.


As soon as Cat saw who stood there, he paused. Carthinal took the opportunity and reached his erstwhile friend in a second. He swung his fist and it met Cat’s chin. The smaller man staggered back, but did not fall. He ducked in time to avoid Carthinal’s next swing and rolled into his legs, grabbing and pulling as he did so.


Carthinal fell heavily and Cat jumped on top of him.


The pair rolled around the large room, grappling each other and punching whenever the chance arose. Carthinal did not know how many of his punches hit Cat, but he knew he occasionally hit the floor. The young man he fought was agile while Carthinal had led a fairly sedentary life with Mabryl.


A loud voice sounded. “What do you think you are doing? One of the rules here is NO FIGHTING. At least, not where I can see.”


It was Rooster. Hands grabbed both young men and pulled them apart. When Carthinal looked round, he found himself held by Bull, and Cat was being detained by Ox, another one of the Beasts’ security men.


Rooster stood in front of them, hands on hips, looking at the pair through narrowed eyes.


Carthinal breathed heavily as he stood unable to move, with Bull holding him. He frowned and shot a look at Cat, his erstwhile friend. He wanted to smash the small man’s pretty face. How dare he take his girl?


Rooster was speaking, a severe look on his face. “Now, what’s this about? Fox, Cat?”


Carthinal balled his fists again and pressed his lips together. He took a deep breath. “Cat took advantage of my long absence to take my girl.”


Cat’s eyes flashed. “You were gone for months. We thought you’d decided the life in the comfort of a proper house was better than with us, and had gone over to ‘them’.”


Carthinal struggled against Bull’s iron grip.


“Wait,” Rooster said. “Fox, did you say Cat had stolen your girl?”


Carthinal nodded. “Yes. Wren was my girl before he took her.”


“Hmm!” Rooster looked at Cat. “What do you have to say?”


“What I just said. I thought—we all thought—Fox had left us. I decided he didn’t want Wren anymore. Perhaps he’d found someone else. He’s got a pretty enough face for any woman to want him.”


Rooster sighed. “Didn’t either of you think to ask Wren? She’s not a piece of jewellery to be argued over. She has a mind and she uses it. She will decide for herself who she wants to be with. You can’t make that decision for her, whoever wins the fight.” He turned to Wren. “Do you want to be with either of these two?”


Wren looked down at her feet, then at Cat. Carthinal felt his heart sink into his boots.


“Sorry, Cat. I’ll take Fox. I thought he’d gone for good, you see. It’s been so long.”


She walked over to where Carthinal stood, still being held by Bull. “Sorry, Fox.” She leaned her head against him.


“Let them, go,” Rooster said, and walked away.


Carthinal put his arm around Wren and held her tight. “I’m glad you chose me,” he whispered.


Cat approached, eyes glancing around. He stopped a good arm’s length away from Carthinal.


He took a deep breath. ”Please accept my apology, Wren. I should not have treated you like a possession.”


“No, you shouldn’t.” She turned to Carthinal. “And neither should you.”


Cat turned and walked away. After a few paces, he stopped and looked back. “Fox, we were good friends once. I hope we can be again sometime.”


Carthinal watched him go with a sad expression. He put an arm around Wren. “He’s right. We were good friends. I shouldn’t have hit him.”


As usual, Carthinal’s anger dissipated quickly and he went over to Rooster. “I apologise for causing a disruption. You are right. Wren is her own woman.” He looked to the door where Cat had vanished, then turned back.


“This magic business is going to take longer than I thought. I’ve hardly even started. Mabryl won’t let me start learning spells until I’ve learned discipline, he says.”


Rooster looked him up and down, then put his head on one side. “He’s right. It’d be dangerous to have someone with an uncontrolled temper able to do magic. Think what you could have done to Cat, and possibly others in the vicinity, if you had spells at your fingertips. Go back to your Mabryl and stay there until you’ve learned some control.”


Carthinal hung his head. He looked at Wren, still at his side, and hugged her.


She looked up into his indigo eyes and sighed. “I think that was an order, Fox. I don’t suppose I’ll see you for quite some time, then.”


“I can still come out at night and meet you.”


She shook her head, looking sad. “No. That would be ill discipline. Rooster, and Mabryl, have both ordered you to learn. I promise I’ll wait for you.” She reached up and kissed him, before turning away, tears in her eyes.

Carthinal 7

The magician performed in the square for several days. Each day, Carthinal went and watched. By the prickling sensation, he quickly learned which of the man’s tricks were real magic and which sleight of hand.


Wren went with him the first couple of times, then she said, “Why do you keep on going back? It’s the same show every day.”


Carthinal shrugged, “I’m unsure myself, Wren. I’m fascinated by his magic. His real magic, that is, not that other stuff.”


After watching a number of times, Carthinal thought he could remember the words and hand movements the magician made when he conjured the small flame on his finger. He decided to try it out, but not in the Gang’s Headquarters.


He walked around the area until he came to a back street, Sitting on a doorstep, he began to mutter the words and copy what he thought were the hand movements. Nothing happened. He tried again. Still nothing. After a few attempts, he gave up.


The next day, he was again standing in the square watching. He thought he noticed a few things he’d got wrong, and he went to practise again, in the same back street.


He practised for a week. By then the magician had left the area. One day, sitting on the step, he wondered why he did this. The man he had been copying had gone, so he could not refresh his memory. He sat there, head in his hands, trying to picture exactly what the magician had said and done.


I’ll try one more time. If it doesn’t work, I’ll give up.


He chanted in a slightly different way. His skin began to prickle and he felt a sensation deep within his stomach. A tiny flame appeared on his index finger, then quickly vanished.


The young man leaped up and yelled. “Yeah I did it!”


He ran all the way back to headquarters and burst in shouting “Wren, Wren, I did it.”


“Calm down. Did what?”


“Made magic. I got a little flame on my finger.”


Wren shrugged. “So what? How’s that going to help with anything.”


Carthinal took her by her shoulders. “Don’t you see. I can do magic. Perhaps if I practice I can learn more and then go and perform like that magician. We could be rich.”


“Who’s goin’ ter be rich?” Cat was just passing.


“Cat, I managed to do some magic. Real magic.”


Cat laughed. “You think ’cos yer did a little trick yer can become a real mage? Dream on, Fox, but keep ’em for sleep-time.”


Carthinal shook his head, but determined to keep on practising. Apart from the pride in learning to do it all on his own, when he had succeeded, the physical sensations it gave him were enough to make him continue.


Each morning, the young man went to the same back street and chanted and wove his hands around. Sometimes he succeeded, sometimes he failed, but he did not give up. Eventually, he could keep the flame going for several minutes.


One say, as he tried to make the flame walk from one finger to another, he became aware of a shadow falling over him. Quickly, he extinguished his little flame and sprang to his feet.


“Steady, lad,” a voice said. “How did you learn to do that?”


Carthinal scowled at the man. “Why should I tell you? Who are you, and how did you find me?”


“My name’s Mabryl. I’m an archmage and I felt a disturbance in the mana, so I tracked it here.”


At the sound of ‘archmage’, Carthinal pricked up his ears.

“Archmage? You’re important, then. So why’ve you tracked me down?”


“One simple reason. Hardly anyone can learn to do magic of any kind on their own. What made you try?”


“I watched the magician in the square on Grillon’s day and during that week. I copied what he said and did,”


“Impressive. How did you know what to copy? In other words, how did you know what was real magic and what wasn’t?”


“I felt it. It was like a tingling all over my skin.”


“Young man, you have a talent for magic, but you need training. First, although you’ve managed to get this far on your own, that’s only a very simple spell. One we use to teach apprentices at the beginning. It’s called a cantrip. More importantly, though, is the fact that magic can be very dangerous in untrained hands, both to yourself and those around you.”


Carthinal looked into Archmage Mabryl’s eyes. “What are you saying? I should stop?”


“Not at all. You have a tremendous talent. I would like to train you.”


“No. I’ll not fall for that. You know who I am and want to lure me to your home so you can hand me over to the guards”


Mabryl laughed a soft laugh. “That would be such a waste of talent. Anyway, who are you that I’d want to hand you over? What have you done that the guards would be interested in?”


Carthinal looked down and shuffled his feet. “Nothing. At least nothing you need to know. I have to go.”


As he turned to leave the street, Mabryl said, “I live on Grindlehoff Street. Number forty three. Come there if you change your mind. I hope you do. Your talent will be wasted if not, and you could cause great danger to everyone around.”


When he got back to the headquarters he searched out Wren. He told her all that had happened.


“What did you say?”


“That he could go away and leave me alone. That I’m not interested. He’s only trying to tempt me so I’ll lead him to the rest of you.”


That night, Wren propped herself up on her elbow on the bed they shared. “I’ve been thinking.”


“Not too hard. I hope.” Carthinal yawned and turned to face her.


“About that man, Mabryl was it?”


“What about him?”


“If you went there and learned to be a proper mage, you could be a help to the Gang.”


“How?”


“Suppose you could use magic to help people not notice us when we pick their pockets? Then perhaps you could make Cat invisible when he goes buglaring so no one sees him. Then you could use it when we fight other gangs. We’d be able to take over all the others.”


“Mmm. Perhaps. I’ll think about it.” He turned over and went to sleep.

Will Carthinal accept Mabryl’s offer and go to his house to become his apprentice, or will he stay with The Beasts? The relative security and friendship he knows or an unknown life are his choices. Read the next episode on the first Tuesday of December to find out which he chooses.

Find out more about Carthinal by reading The Woves of Vimar series. The first three books can be got from Amazon.

Aspholessaria, Part 2

094Fungi

 
Asphodel spent the next few days in confusion. Her mother reprimanded her several times for forgetting little things.
‘Really, Aspholessaria,’ she said, ‘Anyone would think you were in love. What’s wrong with you?’
Her father laughed.
‘Perhaps she is in love,’ he joked. ‘She’s at that age.’
Her mother turned to her husband.
‘She’s of House Royal. She can’t be allowed to fall in love.’
Asphodel thought, ‘Am I in love?’
She wandered out into the city. She had an errand to do for her mother anyway, but she found her steps taking her towards where Linn lived. As she passed his house, the two young men came out.
‘Asphodel,’ called Vass. ‘I’m so glad we’ve seen you. Are you and Sissi going to Allimissoro’s tonight? Liss and I are, and I’d very much like it if you were there too.’
‘I don’t know,’ replied the girl. ‘I’ve not seen Sissi for a couple of days. I’ll go and ask her later, when I’ve done the jobs mother wants me to do.’
Later, Sissi agreed to go to Allimissoro’s that evening to meet the two young men. Asphodel was still in confusion. Vass had said he would like it if they were there, but did he mean her, Sissi or both of them?
Later that evening, it became apparent that Vass’s interest was in Asphodel. He danced with her all evening and hardly took his eyes from her when he was not dancing. That evening he walked her home without the accompaniment of Sissi and Liss, who walked home separately.
Half-way to Asphodel’s home, their hands touched. Asphodel’s stomach turned over again as Vass took her hand in his. They walked along in silence, each happy in the other’s company. The world around them had vanished. There was only Vass in the world as far as Asphodel was concerned.
All too soon the walk ended and they stood outside Asphodel’s home. Vass put a fnger under Asphodel’s chin and lifted her face, then he bent his head to kiss her. When his lips met hers she thought she would faint with pleasure.
The kiss seemed to go on for ever, but finished all too soon as far as Asphodel was concerned. She leaned against Vass’s chest and he held her close.
‘You’re the most beautiful girl I’ve ever met,’ he told her. ‘I wish we could stay like this for always.’
Asphodel sighed and her practical side came to the fore.
‘So do I, Vass,’ she told him, ‘but my mother will be wondering where I am soon. I’m afraid I must go in.’
Vass bent his head once more and delivered a passionate kiss on Asphodel’s mouth, then stood and watched as she walked up the ramp leading to her home in the trees.
Asphodel and Sissi’s visits to Allimissoro’s became more frequent over the next few months. She did not deliberately keep her relationship with Vass secret from her parents, but she just never bothered to tell them. It didn’t seem important they should know.
She was engrossed in her growing relationship with Vass. That was all that seemed important to the girl. He was kind and attentive and always complemented her on how she looked. Soon the pair took to meeting other than at Allimissoro’s and took frequent walks in the land outside the city. If her mother thought anything, she assumed her daughter was out with Sissi somewhere.
One day, after Asphodel and Varr had been seeing one another for almost a year, Asphodel’s father called her into his study.
‘I have something to tell you,’ he said. ‘You remember Frishillondor? He came here not long ago, to eat with us as I had business with him and wanted to help it along. Well, it seems he was quite taken with you and he’s asked me for your hand in marriage.’
Asphodel gasped.
‘Yes, it’s quite a surprise, isn’t it? And quite an honour too. Your mother is thrilled. He’s nearer in blood to the Elflord than even we are. His sister is the Elflord’s mother. Fancy that! So of course I agreed immediately.’
‘No,’ Asphodel cried. ‘I can’t marry him. He’s old. I won’t marry him.’
‘Now, now, child,’ her father replied gently. ‘He’s not so old. He’s younger than me. Anyway, I insist on this marriage. It’ll be a big boost to our family. All our businesses will benefit greatly with him as a sponsor.’
Asphodel stamped her foot.
‘I said I won’t marry him, and I meant it,’ she said as she ran out of the room, slamming the door behind her.

 

Will Asphodel have to marry Frishillondor? What will happen to her love for Vass? Come back on the first Tuesday of November to find out.

Leave a comment in the comments section and I’ll try to get back to you. Or sign up to my email list to be the first to hear any news of my forthcoming books.

Another visit by Renee. this time it’s about Shadow Stalker book 2

shadow-stalker-writer-1

 

Welcome back, Renee. I’m so glad you can visit again. Tell us a bit about Shadow Stalker Book 2. I’m susre everyone will want to know what’s happening to Auren after Book 1.

About Shadow Stalker – Part 2 (Episodes 7 – 12)

Episode 7: Bound by Fate

Auren’s best friend was captured during the Galvadi invasion, and her rescue attempt goes awry. Now Auren finds herself in the hands of an enemy who knows her true identity…one who has the power to be either her destroyer or her salvation.

Episode 8: Broken

Auren doesn’t succumb to Makari’s torture, so he decides his father was right about her being the delohi-saqu. Now he resorts to more sadistic methods to extract information, which could doom the Coalition if Auren fails to resist.

Episode 9: Turning Tides

Now that Makari knows the truth about Auren, he has sworn to protect her and help her escape. But when the other guides become suspicious, Makari’s loyalty is tested, and he is forced to do something he swore he’d never do again.

Episode 10: Separate Paths

Auren finally meets Shai, Kado’s daughter, but she is too weak from her months of torture to escape the reconciliation center. Makari takes over Shai’s cleansing sessions, but that means Auren will face daily torture again. To make things worse, Makari disappears and Auren is given a task that means taking the life of someone she loves.

Episode 11: Escape Part 1

Auren and Shai begin their escape, but it doesn’t go as planned, and they are forced to adjust their plans. They are pushed to their limits, and Auren has to put her untried abilities to use or risk being recaptured.

Episode 12: Escape Part 2

Makari has decided to stay with the Galvadi for Auren’s protection. Auren and Shai are on their own, and nature seems to be against them. After being seriously injured, Auren falls ill and it starts to look like they will never reach their meeting spot with Kado on the southern shore.

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Want to get Shadow Stalker Part 2 (Episodes 7 – 12) free too? http://reneescattergood.com/subscribe-today/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Stalker-Part-Episodes-Bundles-ebook/dp/B010H5Y9R2/

My Review

Book 2 lives up to all the promises of Book 1. Auren has to escape from the Galvadi, which she does with the help of the Emperor’s son, Makari. The two of them fell in love when he went to torture her.

She discovers another young shadow stalker imprisoned and the two of them, with the help of Makari, plan their escape. It does not go according to plan, however and the dangers are still around her. Makari, too, has to face dangers of his own.

As with Book 1, the story keeps the reader on the edge of his/her seat. It moves quickly and poses questions you want answered.

Auren is a well-drawn heroine. She is realistic and has her faults as well as her good points. She feels fear and anxiety, just as anyone would in those circumstances. Ms Scattergood’s characterisation of all her characters is good. Both books are well worth a read and I can’t wait for the day book 3 is released.

 

 

shadow-stalker-about-the-author

Renee Scattergood lives in Australia with her husband, Nathan, and daughter, Taiya. She has always been a fan of fantasy and was inspired to become a story-teller by George Lucas, but didn’t start considering writing down her stories until she reached her late twenties. Now she enjoys writing dark fantasy, and she’d dabbling with paranormal thrillers under a pen name.

She is currently publishing her monthly Shadow Stalker serial, and she has published a prequel novella to the series called, Demon Hunt. She is also working on a new series of novels, A God’s Deception.

Aside from writing, she loves reading (fantasy, of course), watching movies with her family, and doing crafts and science experiments with her homeschooled daughter. Visit her site for more information and a free copy of Shadow Stalker Part 1 (Episodes 1 – 6): http://reneescattergood.com

 

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Thank you for visiting, Renee. I’ll see you next week for an update on Book 3, soon to be released.

There will be another visit by Renee on Tuesday 27th September when I’ll be reviewing Book 3 of the Shadow Stalker books. I won’t therefore be posting on that Tuesday as usual. I have work to do on the edited copy of The Wolf Pack my publisher has sent me. Look for my next post the following Tuesday, October 4th, when, as it’s the first Tuesday of October. I’ll be posting the next episode in Asphodel’s story.

Aspholessaria

forest
Today I am going to start telling you the story of Asphodel, whom you can find in The Wolf Pack. Book 1 of The Wolves of Vimar Series. You will have noticed I use her name a lot. I like her and the way she stands up for what she believes in, regardless of authority. This gets her into trouble quite a lot.

 

‘Aspholessaria!’ called the young elf’s mother. ‘Are you going out?’

‘I’m meeting Syssillina, mother,’ she replied. ‘There’s a new place opened across the other side of Quantisarillishon. It’s called Allimissoro’s and it’s supposed to be good. We’re going there to suss it out.’

‘I wish you’d refrain from using those slang words, dear. So common. Don’t forget we’re related to the Elf Lord.’

‘Only distantly, mother,’ called Aspholessaria as she skipped out through the door to meet her friend. ‘I don’t expect he’ll hear about it so don’t worry.’

A few minutes later the two girls were running towards where they had heard of the new bar and dance hall especially opened for young folk. The youngsters had little to do in Quantisarillishon and some of them became a little unruly from time to time.

‘My cousin, Gerralishirondo, went last night. He says it’s really good,’ said Syssillina as they trotted across the capital city of Rindissarillishan, the land of the elves. ‘He says there were some elves there playing music, and everyone was up and dancing.’

‘It sounds fantastic,’ Aspholessaria replied. ‘Did he say how far it is?’

‘Oh, Asphodel,’ said her friend, using the elf’s diminutive name, ‘I told you it’s only a few trees over. Wee, perhaps a bit more than that, but only about half a mile.’

The elves built their city of Quantisarillishon deep in the forest. Many who visited it for the first time did not think they had arrived. The elves built so the buildings looked part of the forest. Some of the buildings were even built into the trees themselves with knot holes as windows. Most of the walkways stretched from tree to tree and so to anyone not looking up it would seem there was nothing but forest.

The girls trotted along these walkways passing residences and workshops until they arrived at a building that stretched over the branches of several large oaks. Music and laughter came from out of the open doors. The girls stopped and looked at each other.

Asphodel took a breath and said,’ Well, we’ve come here, so we might as well go in.’
She matched her actions to her words and Syssillina followed.

Lanterns wreathed the room and gave a festive air to the surroundings. Seats surrounded small tables, most of which had young elves sitting and chattering. In the centre of the room was a dance floor with a number of young folk dancing to the music.

The girls looked around. Where could they sit? Then Syssillina noticed an empty table close to the band. the girls made their way across to it and sat down to listen to the music. Syssillina went and got them fruit juice from the bar and they sat sipping their drinks.

‘Isn’t that LLinisharrovno over there?’ whispered Asphodel, naming a young man who had been at school with them. ‘Who’s that with him? I’ve not seen him before.’

Syssillina looked over to where Asphodel pointed.

‘Yes. I’ve not seen him for a long time,’ she replied. ‘His friend’s fit, don’t you think?’

The girls started to giggle, but stopped quickly as Asphodel noticed the pair looking at them. The two young men started walking across the room towards them.

‘Are they coming to us?’ Asphodel asked, looking at her drink.

‘I don’t know. there’s that group of girls at the next table. Iexpect they’re going to them.’

But they weren’t. They came and stood in front of Asphodel and Syssillina.

‘I’ve not seen you two since we left school,’ said Llinsharrovno. ‘Where’ve you been hiding yourselves?’

‘If I remember rightly, you live at the opposite side of the city from us. We’ve not been hiding, we just don’t get over there very much.’

Llinsharrovno sat down in an empty seat.

‘This is my cousin, Vassinamorro.’ he said. ‘Vass, this is Aspholessaria, known as Asphodel, and Syssillina, known as Syssi.’

The other young man took another spare seat and smiled a handsome smile that made Asphodel’s stomach turn over. He had blue eyes and blonde hair. He was tall for an elf, being five foot ten and had the build of one who looked after his body and exercised regularly.

‘Pleased to meet you.’ he said. ‘I’m new to Quantisarillishon. LLin has been showing me round. It’s a beautiful city, but it pales into insignificance next to the beauty of it’s girls.’

Both girls blushed and muttered their thanks for the complement.

‘Can I get you a drink?’ asked LLin, standing.

The girls accepted and as he walked away, Vass asked Asphodel if she would like to dance. She accepted and the pair went away onto the dance floor.

Vass was a wonderful dancer and Asphodel felt she had wings on her feet, he was so easy to dance with. When his hand touched hers, the butterflies began to dance in her stomach again, and she thought she would melt into his blue eyes. Her black hair flew round her head as he twisted and turned her in the dance. He lifted her up and swung her round and she gasped in surprise, which made him laugh.

Then the dance ended and the pair returned to their seats.
LLin danced with Syssi, then with Asphodel as Vass danced with Syssi. Asphodel watched them as they danced, treading on Llin’s feet a few times, but he laughed.

‘My cousin has that effect on women,’ he whispered in her ear the fifth time she missed a beat and trod on his toes. ‘I wish I had his looks and charm.’

The girls danced with Vass and Llin all evening, the two young men taking it in turns to dance with each of them.

Then came the time to leave. It was dark and the few lamps on the walkways gave only a little light.

‘I don’t like the idea of you walking alone in the dark,’ said Vass. ‘May we walk the two of you home?’

The girls agreed and the four young people slowly wended their way through the treetop walkways to the girls’ homes.

‘Will you be going to Allimissoro’s again?’ Vass asked them as they stood outside Asphodel’s home.

The girls looked at each other. Asphodel had to restrain herself from replying too quickly. She would certainly go again if Vass was going to be there.

‘What do you think, Syssi?’ she said. ‘Should we go again?’

‘I think I’ll probably give it another go,’ answered her friend. ‘I enjoyed myself tonight. The music was excellent and the drinks. They’ve done wonders with the decor too.’

Vass looked at both girls in turn and said, ‘Perhaps we’ll see you there another time, then.’

The two young men left the girls, walked a few paces and turned to wave.

Asphodel entered her home and crept up the stairs to her bedroom. She threw herself on her bed, smiling, then she turned on her stomach and groaned.

Does he like me? Does he like Syssi better than he likes me? Oh, I can’t tell who he likes better.

She thought of the way he had looked into her grey eyes when they danced and her stomach turned again. She thought one minute he liked her best, then the next she thought of how he had looked at Syssi and decided he liked Syssi best. With her thoughts in turmoil, Asphodel fell asleep.Aspholessaria

‘Aspholessaria!’ called the young elf’s mother. ‘Are you going out?’

‘I’m meeting Syssillina, mother,’ she replied. ‘There’s a new place opened across the other side of Quantisarillishon. It’s called Allimissoro’s and it’s supposed to be good. We’re going there to suss it out.’

‘I wish you’d refrain from using those slang words, dear. So common. Don’t forget we’re related to the Elf Lord.’

‘Only distantly, mother,’ called Aspholessaria as she skipped out through the door to meet her friend. ‘I don’t expect he’ll hear about it so don’t worry.’

A few minutes later the two girls were running towards where they had heard of the new bar and dance hall especially opened for young folk. The youngsters had little to do in Quantisarillishon and some of them became a little unruly from time to time.

‘My cousin, Gerralishirondo, went last night. He says it’s really good,’ said Syssillina as they trotted across the capital city of Rindissarillishan, the land of the elves. ‘He says there were some elves there playing music, and everyone was up and dancing.’

‘It sounds fantastic,’ Aspholessaria replied. ‘Did he say how far it is?’

‘Oh, Asphodel,’ said her friend, using the elf’s diminutive name, ‘I told you it’s only a few trees over. Wee, perhaps a bit more than that, but only about half a mile.’

The elves built their city of Quantisarillishon deep in the forest. Many who visited it for the first time did not think they had arrived. The elves built so the buildings looked part of the forest. Some of the buildings were even built into the trees themselves with knot holes as windows. Most of the walkways stretched from tree to tree and so to anyone not looking up it would seem there was nothing but forest.

The girls trotted along these walkways passing residences and workshops until they arrived at a building that stretched over the branches of several large oaks. Music and laughter came from out of the open doors. The girls stopped and looked at each other.

Asphodel took a breath and said,’ Well, we’ve come here, so we might as well go in.’
She matched her actions to her words and Syssillina followed.

Lanterns wreathed the room and gave a festive air to the surroundings. Seats surrounded small tables, most of which had young elves sitting and chattering. In the centre of the room was a dance floor with a number of young folk dancing to the music.

The girls looked around. Where could they sit? Then Syssillina noticed an empty table close to the band. the girls made their way across to it and sat down to listen to the music. Syssillina went and got them fruit juice from the bar and they sat sipping their drinks.

‘Isn’t that LLinisharrovno over there?’ whispered Asphodel, naming a young man who had been at school with them. ‘Who’s that with him? I’ve not seen him before.’

Syssillina looked over to where Asphodel pointed.

‘Yes. I’ve not seen him for a long time,’ she replied. ‘His friend’s fit, don’t you think?’

The girls started to giggle, but stopped quickly as Asphodel noticed the pair looking at them. The two young men started walking across the room towards them.

‘Are they coming to us?’ Asphodel asked, looking at her drink.

‘I don’t know. there’s that group of girls at the next table. Iexpect they’re going to them.’

But they weren’t. They came and stood in front of Asphodel and Syssillina.

‘I’ve not seen you two since we left school,’ said Llinsharrovno. ‘Where’ve you been hiding yourselves?’

‘If I remember rightly, you live at the opposite side of the city from us. We’ve not been hiding, we just don’t get over there very much.’

Llinsharrovno sat down in an empty seat.

‘This is my cousin, Vassinamorro.’ he said. ‘Vass, this is Aspholessaria, known as Asphodel, and Syssillina, known as Syssi.’

The other young man took another spare seat and smiled a handsome smile that made Asphodel’s stomach turn over. He had blue eyes and blonde hair. He was tall for an elf, being five foot ten and had the build of one who looked after his body and exercised regularly.

‘Pleased to meet you.’ he said. ‘I’m new to Quantisarillishon. LLin has been showing me round. It’s a beautiful city, but it pales into insignificance next to the beauty of it’s girls.’

Both girls blushed and muttered their thanks for the complement.

‘Can I get you a drink?’ asked LLin, standing.

The girls accepted and as he walked away, Vass asked Asphodel if she would like to dance. She accepted and the pair went away onto the dance floor.

Vass was a wonderful dancer and Asphodel felt she had wings on her feet, he was so easy to dance with. When his hand touched hers, the butterflies began to dance in her stomach again, and she thought she would melt into his blue eyes. Her black hair flew round her head as he twisted and turned her in the dance. He lifted her up and swung her round and she gasped in surprise, which made him laugh.

Then the dance ended and the pair returned to their seats.
LLin danced with Syssi, then with Asphodel as Vass danced with Syssi. Asphodel watched them as they danced, treading on Llin’s feet a few times, but he laughed.

‘My cousin has that effect on women,’ he whispered in her ear the fifth time she missed a beat and trod on his toes. ‘I wish I had his looks and charm.’

The girls danced with Vass and Llin all evening, the two young men taking it in turns to dance with each of them.

Then came the time to leave. It was dark and the few lamps on the walkways gave only a little light.

‘I don’t like the idea of you walking alone in the dark,’ said Vass. ‘May we walk the two of you home?’

The girls agreed and the four young people slowly wended their way through the treetop walkways to the girls’ homes.

‘Will you be going to Allimissoro’s again?’ Vass asked them as they stood outside Asphodel’s home.

The girls looked at each other. Asphodel had to restrain herself from replying too quickly. She would certainly go again if Vass was going to be there.

‘What do you think, Syssi?’ she said. ‘Should we go again?’

‘I think I’ll probably give it another go,’ answered her friend. ‘I enjoyed myself tonight. The music was excellent and the drinks. They’ve done wonders with the decor too.’

Vass looked at both girls in turn and said, ‘Perhaps we’ll see you there another time, then.’

The two young men left the girls, walked a few paces and turned to wave.

Asphodel entered her home and crept up the stairs to her bedroom. She threw herself on her bed, smiling, then she turned on her stomach and groaned.

Does he like me? Does he like Syssi better than he likes me? Oh, I can’t tell who he likes better.

She thought of the way he had looked into her grey eyes when they danced and her stomach turned again. She thought one minute he liked her best, then the next she thought of how he had looked at Syssi and decided he liked Syssi best. With her thoughts in turmoil, Asphodel fell asleep.Aspholessaria

‘Aspholessaria!’ called the young elf’s mother. ‘Are you going out?’

‘I’m meeting Syssillina, mother,’ she replied. ‘There’s a new place opened across the other side of Quantisarillishon. It’s called Allimissoro’s and it’s supposed to be good. We’re going there to suss it out.’

‘I wish you’d refrain from using those slang words, dear. So common. Don’t forget we’re related to the Elf Lord.’

‘Only distantly, mother,’ called Aspholessaria as she skipped out through the door to meet her friend. ‘I don’t expect he’ll hear about it so don’t worry.’

A few minutes later the two girls were running towards where they had heard of the new bar and dance hall especially opened for young folk. The youngsters had little to do in Quantisarillishon and some of them became a little unruly from time to time.

‘My cousin, Gerralishirondo, went last night. He says it’s really good,’ said Syssillina as they trotted across the capital city of Rindissarillishan, the land of the elves. ‘He says there were some elves there playing music, and everyone was up and dancing.’

‘It sounds fantastic,’ Aspholessaria replied. ‘Did he say how far it is?’

‘Oh, Asphodel,’ said her friend, using the elf’s diminutive name, ‘I told you it’s only a few trees over. Wee, perhaps a bit more than that, but only about half a mile.’

The elves built their city of Quantisarillishon deep in the forest. Many who visited it for the first time did not think they had arrived. The elves built so the buildings looked part of the forest. Some of the buildings were even built into the trees themselves with knot holes as windows. Most of the walkways stretched from tree to tree and so to anyone not looking up it would seem there was nothing but forest.

The girls trotted along these walkways passing residences and workshops until they arrived at a building that stretched over the branches of several large oaks. Music and laughter came from out of the open doors. The girls stopped and looked at each other.

Asphodel took a breath and said,’ Well, we’ve come here, so we might as well go in.’
She matched her actions to her words and Syssillina followed.

Lanterns wreathed the room and gave a festive air to the surroundings. Seats surrounded small tables, most of which had young elves sitting and chattering. In the centre of the room was a dance floor with a number of young folk dancing to the music.

The girls looked around. Where could they sit? Then Syssillina noticed an empty table close to the band. the girls made their way across to it and sat down to listen to the music. Syssillina went and got them fruit juice from the bar and they sat sipping their drinks.

‘Isn’t that LLinisharrovno over there?’ whispered Asphodel, naming a young man who had been at school with them. ‘Who’s that with him? I’ve not seen him before.’

Syssillina looked over to where Asphodel pointed.

‘Yes. I’ve not seen him for a long time,’ she replied. ‘His friend’s fit, don’t you think?’

The girls started to giggle, but stopped quickly as Asphodel noticed the pair looking at them. The two young men started walking across the room towards them.

‘Are they coming to us?’ Asphodel asked, looking at her drink.

‘I don’t know. there’s that group of girls at the next table. Iexpect they’re going to them.’

But they weren’t. They came and stood in front of Asphodel and Syssillina.

‘I’ve not seen you two since we left school,’ said Llinsharrovno. ‘Where’ve you been hiding yourselves?’

‘If I remember rightly, you live at the opposite side of the city from us. We’ve not been hiding, we just don’t get over there very much.’

Llinsharrovno sat down in an empty seat.

‘This is my cousin, Vassinamorro.’ he said. ‘Vass, this is Aspholessaria, known as Asphodel, and Syssillina, known as Syssi.’

The other young man took another spare seat and smiled a handsome smile that made Asphodel’s stomach turn over. He had blue eyes and blonde hair. He was tall for an elf, being five foot ten and had the build of one who looked after his body and exercised regularly.

‘Pleased to meet you.’ he said. ‘I’m new to Quantisarillishon. LLin has been showing me round. It’s a beautiful city, but it pales into insignificance next to the beauty of it’s girls.’

Both girls blushed and muttered their thanks for the complement.

‘Can I get you a drink?’ asked LLin, standing.

The girls accepted and as he walked away, Vass asked Asphodel if she would like to dance. She accepted and the pair went away onto the dance floor.

Vass was a wonderful dancer and Asphodel felt she had wings on her feet, he was so easy to dance with. When his hand touched hers, the butterflies began to dance in her stomach again, and she thought she would melt into his blue eyes. Her black hair flew round her head as he twisted and turned her in the dance. He lifted her up and swung her round and she gasped in surprise, which made him laugh.

Then the dance ended and the pair returned to their seats.
LLin danced with Syssi, then with Asphodel as Vass danced with Syssi. Asphodel watched them as they danced, treading on Llin’s feet a few times, but he laughed.

‘My cousin has that effect on women,’ he whispered in her ear the fifth time she missed a beat and trod on his toes. ‘I wish I had his looks and charm.’

The girls danced with Vass and Llin all evening, the two young men taking it in turns to dance with each of them.

Then came the time to leave. It was dark and the few lamps on the walkways gave only a little light.

‘I don’t like the idea of you walking alone in the dark,’ said Vass. ‘May we walk the two of you home?’

The girls agreed and the four young people slowly wended their way through the treetop walkways to the girls’ homes.

‘Will you be going to Allimissoro’s again?’ Vass asked them as they stood outside Asphodel’s home.

The girls looked at each other. Asphodel had to restrain herself from replying too quickly. She would certainly go again if Vass was going to be there.

‘What do you think, Syssi?’ she said. ‘Should we go again?’

‘I think I’ll probably give it another go,’ answered her friend. ‘I enjoyed myself tonight. The music was excellent and the drinks. They’ve done wonders with the decor too.’

Vass looked at both girls in turn and said, ‘Perhaps we’ll see you there another time, then.’

The two young men left the girls, walked a few paces and turned to wave.

Asphodel entered her home and crept up the stairs to her bedroom. She threw herself on her bed, smiling, then she turned on her stomach and groaned.

Does he like me? Does he like Syssi better than he likes me? Oh, I can’t tell who he likes better.

She thought of the way he had looked into her grey eyes when they danced and her stomach turned again. She thought one minute he liked her best, then the next she thought of how he had looked at Syssi and decided he liked Syssi best. With her thoughts in turmoil, Asphodel fell asleep.

Does Vass prefer Asphodel or Syssi? Find out in the next installment at the beginning of October.

Please leave a comment about this story. I appreciate all feedback, good or bad. I can’t learn and improve if I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.

 

Jovinda and Noni Part 6. Tragedy

newcoverwolfpack

 

This is the last part of the story of Carthinal’s parents. I hope you enjoy it. Please leave a comment when you’ve read it.

 

Two years passed quickly, and Carthinal was toddling about. Noni came in from the embassy where he was still working. It was Carthinal’s second birthday and he had brought a huge toy dog for the little boy.
‘Dada,’ Carthinal said as he ran towards his father.
Noni gave him the dog and he struggled with it, dragging it towards the sitting room where he had been spending some time with Jovinda. His mother laughed at his difficulty, then went to help him bring it in.
‘Say thank you to Daddy, Carthinal,’ Jovinda said.
‘Fan choo,’ Carthinal said, looking at his father. ‘Fan choo. Doggy.’
Jovinda kissed her husband then said, ‘I’m a bit worried about Carthinal, Noni. Most of my friends children his age seem to be much more advanced. Even some of those much younger are moare advanced than he is. I’m afraid there’s something wrong. Perhaps he’s not very bright.’
Noni laughed. ‘There’s nothing wrong with our son, Jo. Half of his blood is elf. Elven children develop more slowly than human ones. In fact, he’s in advance of most elven children of his age.’ He paused for thought for a minute before continuing. ‘I don’t know how quickly or slowly this mixture of elf and human should develop, but probably about half way between an elf child and a human one, I would say. It’ll be interesting to find out. In the meantime, stop worrying.’
Jovinda smiled up at her husband and picked up her son, dog and all. She kissed him as he struggled to get down again.
‘Down,’ he insisted. He clenched his small fist and tried to punch her. ‘Down’ he repeated.
Noli took his hand. ‘You must not punch your mother, Carthinal. That’s very naughty.’
‘Want down,’ he repeated.
Jovinda put him down and sighed.
‘That’s another thing. He seems to be developing a temper. That must be nipped in the bud.’
‘No one said bringing up a child is easy, love. In fact. it’s probably the hardest thing in the world. You’re doing a great job.’

The couple wished for another child, but the years passed and there was no sign. Noni said it was probably due to the infertility of elves and that perhaps it would happen in due course. Jovinda went to the temple of Bramara and prayed, but it was to no avail.
When Carthinal was six, he was in the garden, playing on a swing that Kendo had fixed to the branch of a tree in the garden. He heard his nurse calling for him, but took no notice. It was nice in the garden. The sun was shining and he liked the swing.
Shortly, Jovinda came out and saw him.
‘Oh, there you are. Didn’t you hear nurse calling for you?’
‘Yes, but I don’t want to go in. It’s nice out here.’
‘You must come in now, Carthinal. It’s time for your tea and then it’s bathtime and bedtime.’
The little boy’s face clouded over and he fixed his lips into a straight line.
‘Shan’t.’
‘Oh, don’t be naughty, Carthinal. Be a good boy and come for your tea.’
‘No.’ His eyes began to look, not like the blue summer skies, but dark stormy seas. Jovinda noticed the change ans she went and picked him off the swing and carried him, squirming and crying into the house where she handded him over to Blendin who took him away for his tea.
Jovinda went into the sitting room and smiled to herself. She had become used to these infrequent outbursts of temper and knew that in a few minutes her son would be his normal sunny self again. His temper never lasted long.

Noni arrived soon after this and sank down in one of the chairs.
‘There’s a problem in Rindisallaron,’ he told his wife. The elflord has died and there’s a problem with the succession.’
‘I thought that the elflord was succeeded by the eldest male child of his nearest female relative.’
‘Yes, That’s true, but in this case there are identical twins.’
‘So! The elder twin inherits, doesn’t he?’
‘Ah, therein lies the problem. You see, when the twins were born, their mother was seriously ill after the birth and in the rush to treat her the twins weren’t labelled. Now both twins are claiming to be the first-born.’
‘The father told the midwife that the first child was to be called Frissillimidor and the second Grimmshollin. She claimed she knew in which crib she’d put each baby and so they were named.’ He stood and walked round the room before continuing.
‘I believe the midwife would have been correct and that Frissillimidor is the elder, but factions have grown up, as you would expect. Now war has broken out.’
‘That doesn’t affect us herein Bluehaven though,’ Jovinda said ‘We aren’t involved in Elven politics.’
Noni came and sat beside his wife and took her hand.
‘You aren’t involved. Bluehaven isn’t involved, but I’m an elf, and so I am involved, like it or not. Father is packing at this minute to go to help the rightful heir.’
Jovinda turned and looked at her husband, understanding beginning to dawn on her face.
‘So you plan to go and fight too.’
Noni nodded.
‘You’d leave your wife and child for this war?’ Jovinda was getting angry rather than sad at the thought of Noni going away. ‘You care more for this Frissi-whatsit than Carthinal and me?’
Noni stood.
Just at that moment, Carthinal came to the door, but neither of them saw him. He had come to apologise for his outburst earlier. He heard his parents arguing. He had never seen that before and it frightened him. Nevertheless, he stood just behind the door and listened to an argument he could not understand. Carthinal fled back up to the nursery, his apology forgotten.
No matter what argument she put forward, Noni was adamant he must go to fight for the rightful heir. The couple went to bed that evening barely speaking and that continued until three days later when Noni had packed ready to leave for the Elven lands.
Jovinda said goodbye to Noni with a heavy heart. They had made up their quarrel and she stood on the doorstep of their house with Carthinal as she waved him off. She blinked back her tears as she stood waving until he could no longer be seen.
‘How long will Daddy be away?’ Carthinal asked.
‘I don’t know, dear. He’ll come and see us when he gets leave.’

Two years passed. Noni came home as often as he could, but he needed a long leave to make the journey to Bluehaven from Rindissillaron and back and he had little time when he was there. Jovinda had to rely on his letters to tell her of the progress of the war.In one letter, Noni wrote of how the war was nearly won. Grimmshollin had retreated to a very small area and was barely holding it. It would be only a few days before the war was over.
Jovinda was delighted at this news and eagerly looked forward to welcoming Noni home. Every day she expected a letter, or even Noni himself to arrive. The letter came in just over a sixday saying that there was one more battle to end the war and then just a few things to sort out before Noni came home. She was ecstatic and began to prepare a welcome home party.
A couple of sixdays later, there was a knock on the door. Their butler answered and showed an officer into the drawing room where Jovinda sat reading to Carthinal. She rose as the officer entered.
He saluted and introduced himself as Roshinderal, who was Noni’s friend.
‘Yes, he’s spoken of you often in his letters,’ Jovinda told him. ‘Do you know when he’ll be home? I’m planning a welcome home party for him, you see.’
The young captain cleared his throat and looked embarrassed.
‘Perhaps you’d better send your son out of the room, Madam,’ he said.
Jovinda’s heart began to beat quickly as she told Carthinal to go to the nursery. At first she though he would refuse as she saw tell-tale signs come over hs face, but the boy thought better of it and left.’
‘Please, sit down,’ said Roshinderal, as though it were his house and she were the visitor.
Jovinda sat down as requested, heart sinking. Then Roshinderal cleared his throat again and began to speak.
‘It was the last battle, and nearly the end of that too. The enemy was retreating. Noni laughed and said he always knew we’d win as we were in the right. Just then, one of the enemy archers turned and drew his bow. The arrow took Noni.’
Jovinda’s hand went to her mouth.
‘How is he? Can I go to see him? Is he badly injured?’
Roshinderal took Jovinda’s hand in his.
‘I’m sorry to be the bearer of this news, but I’m afraid Noni died of his injuries soon afterwards. The arrow ruptured an artery, you see. He knew he was dying and asked me to come and tell you and to say he loves you more than he could ever express. He said to take care of Carthinal. He was very proud of you both.’
Jovinda looked at Roshinderal with a blank look in her eyes. All the life had gone out of them. Then she screamed.
‘No! No! No! No! It’s not true. You’ve all made a mistake. He’s not dead. He can’t be. Go back and check. I’d know if he was dead. I know I would.’ She shook her head in disbelief, refusing to accept what Roshinderal had told her.
Her screams brought the butler, who was passing the door.
‘Madam,’ he said, ‘What’s the matter? Is it this man? Do you want me to escort him off the premises?’
Roshinderal turned and said, ‘I’ve just brought her bad news. Her husband was killed in the last battle of the war. Is there anyone who I can get to be with her?’
Between them, they decided that Jovinda’s parents would be the best people to get and so Roshinderal set off to their house to get them.
As soon as they arrived, they took Jovinda and Carthinal, along with Blendin, his nanny, back to their house. Ellire took Jovinda and put her to bed in her old room with a soothing drink and soon she was asleep.
Jovinda remained in her room for the next few days. She refused to answer the door, so Ellire left a tray outside. Some days a little of it disappeared, but others Jovinda did not touch it.
Ellire tried talking to her daughter through the door, but got no response. She tried to get her to come out to see Carthinal who was wondering what was going on. The six-year-old understood that his father had been killed in the war and had been inconsolable for a few days, but then, in the way of children, he seemed to bounce back somewhat. He could not, however, understand why his mother was ignoring him. Ellire tried to tell Jovinda this, but either the young woman did not hear or she was still too much enveloped in grief that she did not care.
Three days passed and Jovinda had not responded to anything. The trays of food and drink had been left untouched and no sounds came from her room. No sobs, no crying, no prayers, nothing.
Kendo decided that he would go in. After all, no one could go without food and drink indefinitely, especially drink, and Jovinda had not drunk anything in three days. He knocked on the door. No sound from inside. He tried the latch, but the door was locked.
Frowning, he called again, and when he still received no answer he said, ‘Jo, if you don’t answer me I’m going to break the door.’
Still nothing. Kendo put his shoulder to the door and pushed. There was a cracking noise as the hinges gave way and he fell into the room.
What he saw there broke his heart. There was his daughter, swinging from the beams overhead, a belt around her neck. He quickly cut her down, but it was to no avail. She had been dead for quite some time. A couple of days probably.
He left the room and told Ellire not to go in and to keep Carthinal away. The boy had taken to sitting outside his mother’s room talking to her through the door, even though there was no response. He went out into the garden and sat under a tree thinking. Was there something he should have done? He ought to have broken the door down sooner. They should have insisted Jovinda come out and eat her meals with them. She was obviously brooding in there alone. All these thoughts went through his head until he felt he was going to go mad.
The funeral was held in the temple of Kalhera a few days later. The family was surprised at how many people turned up. Jovinda and Noni were popular figures in Bluehaven. Kendo knew he would never get over his guilt about his daughter’s death, but he buried it deep.
He said to his wife after the funeral, when everyone had left and Ellire was weeping softly to herself.
‘There’s Carthinal to consider, Ellire. He’ll need a lot of support and help. We need to be his anchor now that Jo’s gone.’
Ellire blew her nose. ‘Yes, of course. We’ll need to bring him up. We should sell Jo and Noni’s house and put the money in trust for him. He’ll live here now with us.’
‘Should we tell him how his mother died, do you think?’
‘No. At least not for a long while. The poor child’s had enough to cope with without knowing his mother killed herself.’
Thus Carthinal lived with his grandparents and they brought him up. No one ever told him how his mother died.

Jovinda and Noni Part 5 The Birth of Carthinal

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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.’

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.

Jovinda and Noni Part 4

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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.