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.
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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About the book.
When Carthinal leaves Bluehaven to go to take the tests that would end his apprenticeship and make him a full mage, little does he realize the changes that are about to take place in his life. Strange prophecies dog his footsteps and he meets new friends. They are sent on a quest to discover a long lost artifact. On their journey they meet with sorrow and pleasure as well as many dangers. Help is found in the most unexpected places, they face their innermost fears and have great surprises. None of them returns unchanged.
Starting tomorrow, November 29th and continuing until 5th December, you can get The Wolf Pack, Book 1 of The Wolves of Vimar series for only $0.99 or £0.99;
Don’t miss out on this exciting offer.
The Wolf Pack
To end his apprenticeship and be admitted to the ranks of the mages is all Carthinal wants, 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 he met on his journey, the beautiful but headstrong elven cleric, Asphodel, Fero, a dark foreigner from lands far to the south, 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 wolf attacks and near death in the mountains, Carthinal and his friends 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.
The time of Vimar, the planet on which the continent of Khalram stands, is calculated differently from that of Earth. Here is a little about it.
From early times, it was known that the planet Vimar took almost exactly three hundred and sixty days to travel around its sun, the people divided this into twelve months of thirty days each. This number, and the three hundred and sixty days in the year meant that the number six took on a significance, and so they further divided each month into five ‘weeks’ of six days each. This was called a ‘sixday’.
The months were unrelated to moon phases as the planet has two moons, Lyndor and Ullin, each with a different cycle, but the study of the moon phases became important as they were believed to indicate something of the future, both for individuals and the world as a whole.
The year was deemed to begin at the Vernal Equinox when life was beginning to spring anew, and each of the twelve months was named after one of the gods of Vimar. (See Appendix 2) the first month of Grilldar was called after the god Grillon, god of nature.
The months are as follows:
Spring Remit of God Ruling God
Grilldar Nature Grillon
Kassidar All Kassilla
Zoldar Knowledge Zol
Candar Weather and Sea Candello
Sylissdar Life and Healing Sylissa
Allendrindar Persuasion and deceit Allandrina
Pardar Agriculture Parador
Rothdar Mining and Roth
Bardar War Barnat
Bramadar Marriage and the family Bramara
Majordar Magic Majora
Khaldar Death and the underworld Khalhera
Days used to begin at dawn whatever the season or place in the world, but eventually it was seen fit to begin them at the time of dawn at the Vernal Equinox in all parts of the world, which was the equivalent of 6 am on Earth. Each day was about the same length as that of Earth, and because of the importance of the number six and its multiples, each day was divided, as on Earth, into twenty four hours and hours into sixty minutes. Seconds not usually considered on the planet as timing to that accuracy was neither needed nor for most people possible. Thus the second hour of the day would be equivalent to 8 am on Earth. Noon on Earth corresponds to the sixth hour on Vimar etc.
You can buy books 1 and 2, The Wolf Pack and The Never Dying Man by following the links below.
The raiding party moved ever westwards. the mountains the Horselords called The Barrier, retreated ever further away until they were just a blue haze on the horizon. Kimi looked longingly at them as she rode surrounded by Prowling Lynx warriors. Her home was at the foot of those mountains. Would she ever see it again? She prayed for a miracle, but the days passed and none arrived.
One evening, just as the men began to set up the camp, Kimi heard the sound of galloping hooves. She was inside her tent with a guard as they had put her tent up first. Not for any chivalrous reasons. Just that they thought she would be less likely to escape if she were safely in her tent with a guard.
Sounds of shouting came through the thin walls of the tent, followed by the noise of fighting. Horses whinneyed in fear, men shouted and the sound of metal on metal rang through the air. Kimi’s guard was in the process of tying her up, but when he heard the sounds, he rushed out to help his friends, leaving her alone and free. She thought of trying to make a break, but the sounds of fighting were all around. She thought she might be safer in here than out there.
Then suddenly, all was silent. Kimi crept to the tent door and peeped out. Her captors were now the captives. They stood in a huddle, surrounded by other men. A few bodies lay on the ground, and several of the captives had sustained wounds.
I hope the chief’s son is hurt, she thought, surprising herself at this thought. She had never been vindictive. But then, she had never been kidnapped and threatened with marriage to a violent man before.
One man walked round the group of captives. she listened to what he said.
‘You dare to cross the lands of the Swooping Hawks? You will come with us to our chief. There you will be tried.’
Kimi tried to slip back into the tent, but the man saw her and came over.
Kimi shrank back. This man was fairly tall, around five foot eleven, with a proud bearing. He wore his dark hair long and tied with a bandana to keep it from his eyes.
It was not his height or bearing that made Kimi afraid, though. On his face was a tattoo. This tattoo was in the shape of a hawk with its wings spread over his forehead, head down his straight nose and talons on his cheeks.
‘Who are you?’ he asked her. ‘I’m surprised they brought a woman on their raid. Even if they are Prowling Lynx ‘
‘I…I’m not with them,’ she stuttered.
He raised his eyebrows, making the hawk’s wings seem to flutter.
‘Then what are you doing here?’
Kimi swallowed. They raided my family’s ranch and took our best horses. When we went to try to get them back, they captured me.’ She took a deep breath to try to stop tears. ‘They were going to make me marry their chief’s son. He was cruel. He taunted and hit me.’
Now Kimi could no longer be brave, and tears began to fall. The young warrior strode out of the tent without looking back.
She heard the sounds of his feet striding towards the group of prisoners. Then she heard the young warrior’s voice calling to them. He called a name, but no one replied. There was silence for a while, then she heard quiet voices before the sounds of someone being beaten.
Shortly, the young warrior returned.
‘I taught him a lesson,’ he said. ‘Now we go to my father for him to judge them for trespassing and theft. Come.’
He left the tent before Kimi could reply, leaving her to follow.
When she caught up, he turned and said, ‘You ride one of your horses. We go back to my people.’
‘Why can’t you take me to my people?’ Kimi replied.
‘We need to take these men back first. See my father then see what he says.’
Has Kimi fallen into the hands of another tribe? What will they do with her?
Find out on the first Tuesday of next month.
This month I have managed to prize an interview out of
Magister Robiam, the chief mage in the Mage Tower in
Me: Thank you very much for allowing me this time in what must be a very busy schedule.
Robiam: Not at all, my dear. We must keep the press happy. Magic is still not fully trusted you know.
Me: After the Mage War and the Forbidding I suppose you mean. Arch-Mage Yssalithisandra told me about that.
Robiam: Yes. I can’t understand why it is taking so long for people to realise that
magic isn’t evil. It’s just a tool, and the users can equally put it to good or bad use. Just as a knife can be used to cut up food for the preparation of a meal, and also to kill or injure someone. The knife isn’t evil, just the user.
Me: Quite. You are a magister, sir. Tell me what that means.
Robiam: It is the highest rank that a mage can reach. When an apprentice passes
his or her tests, they are welcomed into the ranks of mages and go by the title
of simply ‘Mage’. The first year of their ‘mageship’ if you wish to call it that, is a
probationary year. They cannot ‘fail’ this year though. It is mainly to let people know
that this person is very newly qualified. Thus, folk know that their experience is limited
and not expect too much of them. The probation can be extended or shortened.
depending on the mage in question.
Me: What happens after the probation is finished?
Robiam: The mage continues to be a simple mage until, or if, they reach a certain
standard when they will become an Arch-Mage. Many do not progress beyond
being a simple Mage of course.
Me: And to progress to Magister an Arch-Mage must reach another, much higher
Robiam: You’ve got it; but the level for Magister is extremly high and few manage
to make it.
Me: So there are only 3 ‘levels’ in the magic profession?
Robiam: Yes. Of course, once there were many more. Newly-qualified mages were
known as a Conjurors, then they would progress to Magicians, Sorcerors, Wizards etc.
Me: Why was this scrapped?
Robiam: It was too cumbersome, and mages are rather fond of their independence. They are free spirits, if you like. They do not like to be regimented, and so it was simplified.
Me: Why not do away with ranks completely then?
Robiam: It was suggested, but the Magister in charge of the Tower at the time thought
that the general public should have at least some idea of the power of the mage they
were dealing with, and so it was decided to retain 3 ranks. (Although if you consider it,
there are really 4, including the probationary mages.)
Me: Thank you for making that clear, Magister. I was wondering, however, ahout those
who fail their mage tests. What happens to them?
Robiam: Unfortunately there are always a few who have a little magic but insufficient to pass the tests. We do not turn them out into the world to create havoc, which they could easily do. We make them associates of the Tower and they become entertainers, keep shops selling magic items, become adventurers etc.
Me: Thank you very much, Magister for your time.
If you would like to know more about the magic on Vimar, the world in which Magister Robiam and the other people I’ve interviewed live, you can buy the first two books in the Wolves of Vimar Series, available from Amazon in ebook ot paperback formats. They are The Wolf Pack and The Never-Dying Man. Follow these links.
If you have read either or both of these books I would be most grateful if you would post a review, Reviews are important to authors because it is the main way that other people find their books. If you have done so, or are going to do so, Thank you very much.
Me: As you know, I have interviewed your husband,
Davrael. He told me something of the life on the Plains.
Perhaps you can tell me something about how you two met.
Kimi: Of course. It will be a pleasure. As you know, Davrael
is from a nomadic family. One of the Tribes. They travel the
Plains following and herding the horses that roam across
Me: The horses are free then? Don’t they belong to the tribe?
Kimi: Yes, each tribe calls particular herds their own, and
they brand them when young to show their ownership, but
most of them are wild and free. I am from the settlers. We
once roamed the Plains just like the Tribes, but our
ancestors decided to settle in order to have more control
over the breeding of our horses. They thought that they
could breed better animals that way.
Me: And did they?
Kimi (smiling): There are still arguments about that.
Me: How did you and Davrael meet then?
Kimi: One day I was out riding with my brothers when we were attacked by a group of Tribesmen.
Me: Was one of them Davrael?
Kimi: Oh, no. It was an enemy tribe of the Swooping Hawks. They are called the Howling Coyotes. The Tribes have never liked the settled folk. They think we have abandoned tradition and the settled folk think that the nomads are primitive people, so there was no love lost between us. Anyway, my brothers tried to fight them off but there were too many of them and they took me with them. I think they wanted to marry me to one of their men. They did raid sometimes for both horses and women.
Me: Where did they take you?
Kimi: They took me to their camp several days away. It wasn’t their main camp. In fact they had strayed into the territory of the Swooping Hawks. That was why the trouble began.
Kimi: Yes. A band of Swooping Hawks came upon the camp and a battle began. I know little of that battle because I was tied up in a tent, but I could hear the noise–shouting and screaming. Then it suddenly went quiet. I heard a voice commanding the capture of all the horses and a search of the tents. After a while, a man came into my tent. I was petrified. He was an imposing-looking man, although not really handsome, with long hair held back by a braid around his head. What was the most terrifying, though, was the tattoo of a hawk on his face. I tried to hide, hoping he wouldn’t see me and that I could somehow escape, but he was too observant and saw my little wriggles behind a bed. He lifted me out and said, ‘What have we here then? A little mouse trying to escape the hawk?’ He laughed at my frightened expression and continued, ‘Well, it seems the hawk has caught the mouse after all.’
Me: This was Davrael I assume.
Kimi: Yes. He freed me of my bonds and told me that I would be well treated. He asked me where I had come from and what tribe I belonged to. I told him that I was not a tribeswoman and where my family were settled. He agreed to take me back to my family if I could assure him that they would pay in horses for my return. Coin has little meaning for the Tribes. They count their wealth in their horses and trade by barter, you see.
Me: Did you give him this assurance?
Kimi: Yes. I was confident that my father would pay him whatever he wanted.
Me: So he took you back to your family?
Kimi: Not immediately. Davrael and his men were out searching for some horses that they suspected that the Howling Coyotes had stolen. They were some of his best animals. Beautiful golden horses with silvery manes and tails they are. Come to think of it, their manes and tails are almost the colour of Randa’s hair!
Me: Where did he take you?
Kimi: Well, I rode with them for quite a long time actually. Some of the horses had strayed a long way, and some had even been taken to the territory of the Howling Coyotes. There were a few battles, but eventually he got them all back. Every evening he would come into the tent he had said was to be mine and we would talk. Gradually I learned that he was not the fearsome warrior I had thought, but was, in fact, quite a gentle perso, although he could fight well when required. He was kind to me and I gradually began to fall in love with him. I was surprised when he told me that he reciprocated my feelings.
Me: There were problems though I understand.
Kimi: Yes. This is quite painful for me to relate. Davrael took me to his father and told him that he wanted to marry me, but his father flew into a rage and said that no son of his would marry a settler. We the went to my family. They were delighted to see me as they had given me up for dead or worse. When Davrael and I eoldthem of our love, my father said that there was no possible way that he could allow it. He offered Davrael two of his best horses if he would go away and forget about me.
Me: He didn’t, of course.
Kimi: No. We met in secret for a time, but then decided that it was impossible to live like that and so we decided to elope.
Me: You went to Grosmer then.
Kiki: Yes. We went to Grosmer. If all that had not happened, or if either of us had obeyed our fathers, then we would never have met Carthinal and the rest of the Wolves. I wonder what would have happened then?
Me: Thank you very much, Kimi.
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Kimi is one of the main characters in The Wolves of Vimar Series. If you would like to find out more about her and the other characters, follow this link to The Wolf Pack, Book 1 of the Woves of Vimar Series.
or click on the book title on the sidebar.
Today I’m visiting Auden Johnson’s blog to talk about how I came to write The Wolf Pack. Pay her a visit and read about it. Who knows, you might find something else you enjoy there.
Here’s the link.
I’ve just received the address for the landing page for The Wolf Pack, part 1 of The Wolves of Vimar series. If you want to take a look, it’s http://www.creativia.org/the-wolf-pack/
I hope you pay a visit. There you can find a bit about the book.