I am at the first edit of Book 4 of The Wolves of Vimar. It’s called Immortal’s Death. Once it’s gone through this edit, I’ll send it to critique partners to see what they make of it.
It will be some time yet before it’s ready to go to my publisher, though, but I would like to tell you a bit about one of my favourite characters.
This character began as a surprise in Book 1, The Wolf Pack. He helped the group known as Wolf to escape from capture by a band of hobgoblins. Then he disappeared until the end of book 3, making a brief appearance.
However, this character was not going to be left out. He did not want a bit-part, and so in this book he has quite an important role.
Who is he? I hear you ask.
Well, he’s not human, elf or dwarf. In fact he’s a small relative of dragons. He and his like are called dragonets, and he is called Muldee.
A dragonet looks to all intents and purposes like a small dragon. In fact, the members of Wolf though he and his siblings were baby dragons, until he put them right.
Dragonets, unlike real dragons, have iridescent scales. Real dragons have scales of a particular colour, but those of dragonets shimmer in blue, red, green, purple, yellow, white, you name it and you’ll see it there.
They cannot breathe fire or acid or anything else, like real dragons, nor are they magical, but they do have one talent.
Dragonets are telepathic, and also have a slight telekinesis ability. They can send what they call a ‘mindblast’ into the brain of another creature. They use this for capturing their prey, but it is insufficient to kill a large creature. If they want to kill or seriously harm something larger than a cat, a group of them will band together and use a co-ordinated mind blast.
A single dragonet is capable of giving a large creature a very nasty headache, though.
So much for the background. I’m going to leave more about Muldee for another post, probably next week. He’s quite a character. I’m sure you will like him.
Adelbehrd and his family live in the Roman provinces. Their simple life is suddenly turned upside down when Roman soldiers come to exact revenge for a rebellion in which they played no part.
They randomly choose men to be examples. Adelbehrd’s father is crucified. He and his sister are singled out to be sold as slaves because of their blond hair. Torn from their grieving mother, the two terrified children are carted off to a far-off villa to be enslaved.
For many years, their monotonous life continues. One day, Adelbehrd discovers that his sister is about to be sold. A friend tells him about a group of Britons who rescue slaves. Adelbehrd is determined to protect his sister and hatches a plan to escape. Will they be successful, or will they suffer the dire consequences?
The book appears to be well researched. The plot moves along and keeps the reader’s interest. I would recommend it to those who enjoy history and intriguing characters.
Thank you Barbara Ann for this kind review.
Please leave your comments in the comments box.
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Maria and her husband, Jack, have moved into an old cottage. They want to furnish it with period furniture and buy a medieval table.
That’s when the mystery begins. Strange sounds in the night. Have they bought a haunted house? But a medium tells them it is not a ‘lost spirit’, but something else she does not recognise.
What is it that is causing them to lose sleep? The answer is more unexpected than anyone thought.
From today, for 5 days only, The Never-Dying Man is for sale at a mere 0.99 (£ or $)
The above picture shows the western entrance gate to Frelli, the capital city of Erian. In the past, many wars had been fought between Erian and Grosmer, and Frelli developed as a fortress city. On this side, the Grosmer side, the gate and walls fill the narrow valley.
Here is a bit about the book.
After finding Sauvern’s Sword, the companions set off to help a friend rescue his child from kidnappers. Instead, they stray into Erian and find preparations for war. They are drafted into the Erian army but are recognised by an old enemy, who arrests some of them and takes them to Frelli, the capital of Erian, where they are put in jail.
The Master of Erian frees them and offers them work. Meanwhile, Carthinal has to face some unpleasant truths about himself. Is his desire to further his magical career more important than his friends and country? After they discover terrible truths about the Master and his magical research, they will need to escape in order to tell the leaders of Grosmer about the plans for war.
And an extract.
Carthinal, Randa, Davrael, Kimi and The Cat have been taken to Erian’s capital, Frelli as prisoners. The Master of Erian has freed them and is treating them as valued guests, although they are not allowed to leave the castle. There is a mysterious tower that all are forbidden to enter, and the Cat decides to climb the walls to find out what is going on.
Carthinal had said there would be traps, probably magical, but the Cat decided that no one would bother to put traps on a window so high above the ground. It had to be fifty feet at least. Glancing down, he saw that there were people beginning to move around in the courtyard below. Should he risk it now, or leave it till nightfall? Both were risky. At night, though, he would not be able to see well, and he judged that it was unlikely that anyone would bother to look up, and if they did, would not believe they saw someone climbing on the walls. People usually saw what they expected to see.
He decided to take the risk and go now. His curiosity as to what was in the tower was burning him up. Tell him not to go somewhere, and that is precisely what he wanted to do above all else.
Scrambling up onto the window ledge, he felt to his left. Yes, there was a secure hold. He gripped it with the fingers of his left hand then felt with his left foot. He quickly found a foothold, and then repeated the movement with his right hand and foot. He was now hanging, face pressed against the rough stone of the wall, next to his window. Moving with great care, he repeated the procedure and moved slowly to his left and the walls of the tower.
Twice he thought he was going to have to retreat as he could find no purchase, but then the smallest ledge made itself felt. Once he almost fell, putting too much weight on a crumbling stone. No one called out from below that someone was climbing on the walls. His luck was holding.
It took him about an hour to reach the tower and manoeuvre himself to below the window. Whenever he thought he heard someone below him, he paused, knowing that movement was what attracted attention. Then he began to climb. This was easier as he could look up and see ledges and crannies, and knowing where they were, could put his feet in them after releasing his hands to find the next cracks. After about a further half-hour he reached the window ledge.
He was sweating profusely by now. The sun was climbing the heavens and it was only about two sixdays until the solstice and the warmth of the sun plus his exertions had made him hot. He paused to get his breath. After a couple of minutes, the burglar hauled himself onto the ledge of the tower window. He peered in. There was no glass here, and the shutters were open, but he could see nothing inside for it was dark after the sunlight outside. He squeezed through and dropped silently to the floor, crouching and listened carefully.
Breathing. Very quiet breathing. Someone in here was trying to breathe so as not to be heard. Of course! Stupid person. He was obviously getting out of practice. His body would have been seen blocking the light from the window. Shit. Suppose this person were to jump him? He remained crouched beneath the window for a second, then slowly and silently crept to one side.
As his eyes became used to the dark he could pick out a shadowy shape sitting on a bench opposite the window. A human shape. It too was sitting absolutely still, as though trying not to be noticed. He moved a few more paces.
The tower room was circular it seemed. It must cover the whole of this floor of the tower. He moved again, felt behind him and touched wood. A door most likely. He was nearing the person on the bench when he heard steps approaching the door. Someone coughed and The Cat froze. Were there enough shadows in this room to hide him when the door was opened? Would the person entering have a lamp? Probably.
More importantly, would the person on the bench give him away? Who was it? Was he (or she, he added to himself) working here or a prisoner? If the latter, why were they being held here and not in the dungeons? So many questions passed through his head in the seconds it took him to leap for the window and pass through to hang, breathing heavily, on the window ledge outside.
Fortunately for him, the man entering took several seconds to unlock the door. When he entered, The Cat heard him speak and recognised the voice of Wolnarb. Gone was the charming man who had wined and dined them and the voice now had a grating quality that made the Cat shudder. He ventured to peek round the edge of the window.
He could see little, but could just make out the shape of a small man standing before the bench on which he had spotted the figure previously. He held his breath, hoping that the person on the bench would not give him away, though he felt that he was fairly safe here, as it appeared the other was a prisoner. He listened to the words being spoken, but could understand little as Wolnarb spoke in Erian.
Wolnarb’s words elicited a slight whimper from the person on the bench and he (for it was indeed a man as The Cat could now ascertain) moved away, shuffling along the bench. Wolnarb laughed an unpleasant laugh, and then he spoke again. The man shook his head and lay down as though in resignation.
Wolnarb laid his hands on the man, his left on the man’s forehead and the right on the man’s chest, where his heart was as much as The Cat could ascertain. Words flowed from the magister that made the hairs on the back of the Cat’s neck stand up. He was aware that magic was being done in that room. He had had sufficient dealings with Carthinal in the past to be aware when magic was being performed. The man in the room screamed once, convulsed, then fell to moaning.
Soon, the murmuring stopped and the man fell back as though he had just performed a great feat. Wolnarb laughed again, not a pleasant sound, then spoke. He indicated a tray he had brought with him, spoke again and left.
‘What is going on here?’ thought The Cat. He considered whether to re-enter the room or go back to his own rooms and tell the others what he had observed. Then he heard the prisoner approach the window and speak. Again he could not understand the words, but decided to re-enter the tower and see if he could make any sense out of what was going on. After climbing back through the window, he made his way to the bench. On it a young man sat with a tray of food.
The young man spoke as though in great pain.
‘I’m sorry, I don’t speak Erian,’ The Cat told him. ‘Mo hambro Erian.’
‘You from Grosmer?’ a heavily accented voice asked. ‘I speak a little but bad. How you get to window?’
‘Climbed, but why are you here? What was going on?’
‘Climbed? It high. It smooth. Why man from Grosmer here?’
‘Not too high or smooth for a cat burglar. Plenty handholds. As to why I’m here in Erian, I’m not sure, myself, and it’s a rather long story. I’m with some friends though. We’re housed not far from here.’
The young man coughed.
When The Cat looked at him, he saw he looked grey and ill. ‘You’re not well. You need a healer. Tell me, why are you in the tower and not in the dungeon if you’re a prisoner, and what did you do to be held?’
‘I a special prisoner. My crime, being young and strong and believing Wolnarb.’
It took The Cat longer to get back to his room as the day had grown quite warm and the climbing was not so easy in the heat. He was relieved to be back in his rooms, which were cool, facing north as they did. He ran his hands through his hair and hurried off to see Carthinal.
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Here is the blurb
To end his apprenticeship and be admitted to the ranks of the mages is all that Carthinal wants and so he is excited to travel from Bluehaven to Hambara, where the tests will take place. He did not expect to end up travelling far beyond Hambara on a quest to find the long lost sword of the legendary King Sauvern.
Along with three strangers that he met on his journey, the beautiful but headstrong elven cleric, Asphodel, Fero, a dark foreigner from lands far to the south, known as the Black Ranger and a fearless dwarf, Basalt, Carthinal reluctantly sets out on this seemingly impossible quest.
Followed by Randa, the snooty aristocratic daughter of the Duke of Hambara and a very young runaway thief, known as Thad, Carthinal has to decide whether to send them back or allow them to continue on this dangerous quest. There will certainly be fireworks as Randa will try to take over the leadership of the group.
Faced with floods, wolf attacks and near death in the mountains, Carthinal and his friends will have to accept help from the least likely sources and face their innermost fears.
But this is more than a simple adventure. The fate of a nation hangs in the balance.
And a short extract.
Carthinal, a half-elf mage, and Basalt, a dwarf, have been trying to find out where the lost Sword of the legendary king, Sauvern, might lie. They are searching in the library of the Duke of Hambara, helped by his rather snooty daughter, Randa.
The next day, Carthinal and Basalt returned to the Palace to try to find anything about the whereabouts of the tomb. Lady Randa arrived again, saying that she had risen early in order to exercise her stallion, Storm, and she did not have any weapons practice that day. She should have gone to practice her music, but her music master had reported that he felt ill and so they had all day. Her expression said that she was glad of this excuse to get away from her music, even if it meant spending the day with “riffraff”. Truth to tell, she found the work interesting. She had never taken much interest in history before and it surprised her how fascinating she found it.
Carthinal and Bas exchanged a glance at this dire prospect, but both wisely refrained from making comment.
Lady Randa did not make it any easier, however. She did most of the time remember to call them by their names, but made it abundantly clear that she considered herself above them in all ways and that only her father’s request made her come to work with them.
Shortly after lunch, just after Lady Randa had returned from lunching with her father as usual and as Carthinal searched for a specific scroll, he noticed an unusual crack around a particular bookshelf. He called Lady Randa over and asked her if she knew of any secret passages in the house.
‘There are tales and rumours of course,’ she replied, ‘as there always are in old houses and this house is very old. It has been rebuilt, modernised and extended many times over the years. Why do you ask?’
‘Because,’ responded Carthinal, ‘unless I am very much mistaken, there is a hidden door here which may lead to a secret room.’
‘This is part of the old house,’ Lady Randa told him, ‘but I hardly think that a secret passage would have gone unnoticed by my father, or myself—or my grandfather come to think of it. Why would a half-elf find something in a few minutes that the family hasn’t found in generations?’
‘Elvenkind have very good eyes, and we are good at spotting such things,’ retorted Carthinal, keeping his temper with difficulty.
Basalt spotted the warning tone in Carthinal’s voice and glared at him. It would not do for him to lose his temper and anger the daughter of the second most powerful man in all of Grosmer. However, Carthinal managed to hold onto his temper and suggested that he try to open the disputed door.
‘If it will satisfy you,’ replied Lady Randa imperiously, and turned away. A few moments later, a grinding and rumbling came from behind. She turned and her eyes popped. Where there had been a bookcase hole had appeared with steps leading downwards.
The three stood looking at each other in amazement. Carthinal had been sure that the bookcase concealed a hidden door, but not that it would open so easily, nor that it would reveal a secret passage. He had thought at the most that it would reveal a hidden room.
The stairs looked dark and cobwebby. Carthinal shuddered to think of the spiders running around. They had had generations to breed down there. However, he would not reveal his feelings of revulsion to Lady Randa.
Instead, he said, ‘Lady Randa, do you think it pertinent to explore this passage at this point. We are not sure that it will aid us in our quest.’ He secretly hoped not to have to go down the stairs with their cobwebs and spiders, and that she would say that others could explore. However, Lady Randa decided that since they had found the passage, they should be the ones to explore it.
‘Why give the pleasure of discovering something new to people who did not find the passage?’ she said.
Carthinal had to admire her guts. She reached for a torch on one of the walls and lit it, then made her way to the entrance.
‘My Lady,’ murmured Bas, ‘we don’t know what’s down there. Maybe we shouldn’t go down without some weapons.’
‘Are you afraid, Dwarf?’ retorted her ladyship. ‘If you are, then stay here. I’m going down.’ She started to move towards the open door.
‘Basalt is right, Your Ladyship,’ Carthinal backed up his friend. ‘At least get a sword or a dagger.’
‘Hmm… I suppose that makes some sense,’ Lady Randa eventually agreed. ‘You two stay there and I’ll get some weapons. What’s your preferred weapon, Dwa…er… Basalt?’
‘A battle axe, if you have one, your ladyship,’ replied the dwarf.
‘Typical. A rather messy weapon, but I understand the dwarves prefer it to a sword. A sword takes so much more skill to use.’
With that she disappeared through one of the library doors to go in search of weapons. It was just as well that she did, for she would have had Basalt taken to the nearest prison and the key thrown away if she could have heard him cursing at her condescension.
‘A battle-axe takes as much bloody skill in wielding as a bleeding sword,’ he spluttered. ‘Dwarves begin to learn at a very young age to become proficient. To become a master of the weapon takes years. That little minx knows nothing. How old is she? Seventeen? Eighteen?’
Fortunately, Carthinal had managed to calm him down by the time Lady Randa re-appeared with the weapons. She had a rather fine long sword, which she claimed as her own, and a rather less than fine battle axe, which she gave to Basalt, for once having the grace to apologise for it.
‘It’s the only one I could find,’ she explained. ‘My father captured it in some war or other, I believe. We don’t have anyone here that uses a battle-axe now. Carthinal, just in case, I’ve brought a dagger. I understand that mages often use one, as they do not have the time to learn more subtle weapons.’
This she handed to the mage, hilt first as was polite. It appeared she did know some of the niceties of life.
‘Diplomacy is not her second name, is it?’ hissed Basalt to Carthinal.
The mage grinned at his friend in reply.
After they were armed, and Bas had hefted his battle axe a few times and proclaimed it ‘Not too bad, considering’, they made their way to the hidden entrance to the staircase. Basalt insisted on going first, much to Lady Randa’s annoyance. She told him that she had trained in weapons with her father’s master at arms and could use the sword, and since it her father owned house, and she outranked the others in the group, she should lead the way.
Basalt pointed out be that as it may, but her father would have their heads if anything happened to her, and he was not going to allow her to go first.
Carthinal held his breath, waiting for the explosion from Lady Randa. She did not disappoint him.
She rounded on Bas like a whirlwind. ‘You…you…Dwarf!’ She said the word as though it were the worst insult in the world, (which to her it may have been.) ‘You DARE to speak to me like that! Me! The Honourable Lady Randa! I am my father’s only heir and will inherit this Dukedom. Yet you tell me you will not allow me! How dare you?’
However, she had not met with the stubbornness of the mountain dwarves. Carthinal thought they would remain there for the rest of their lives with the two arguing, and finally with Basalt standing, arms folded in front of the doorway so that no one could pass. Lady Randa tried to push him out of the way at first, but Bas stood his ground. A dwarf standing his ground is very hard to move, even for a grown man, and Lady Randa was no grown man.
Eventually her curiosity over the passageway overcame her anger and she said, rather reluctantly, ‘Go in front if you wish then—and hope that whatever’s down there kills you before I do.’
So the three crept stealthily down the stairs, Basalt in the lead, Lady Randa next, and Carthinal in the rear. Carthinal was grateful for that as most of the cobwebs had been swept away by the others, but he still had to steel himself not to cry out as a stray one swept his face. It would not do for them to think him such a coward as to be afraid of spiders, even if it were the truth. He kept a look out both to the side and behind, trusting to Bas to watch for anything in front, but they had an uneventful descent of the stairs, although the stairs were old. No one had passed that way in many, many years and their feet sent up clouds of dust, which made them sneeze. The stairs were not worn away either, in spite of their age. Another indication that they had not been much used.
To his consternation, Carthinal saw many small glowing creatures with his infra-vision. Spiders he assumed, that had lived and bred there for aeons. He shuddered, then suddenly, after what seemed like a very long descent, they found themselves in a passage leading straight ahead. He called to Basalt and the dwarf looked round. ‘We seem to have come down a long way. You dwarves are used to being underground. How far down do you think we’ve come?’
Basalt frowned, did some calculations in his head and replied, ‘We’re very deep, Carthinal. Well below the foundations of the present Palace. If you ask me, we are at least two hundred feet down. This looks like old stone. About a thousand years, maybe a bit more, maybe a bit less.’
The three looked around in awe. The dry air in the room had preserved the stonework well. The fact that no more cobwebs hung from this ceiling pleased Carthinal too. The walls were well built, and strong. They walked slowly and quietly down the corridor. They passed doors on either side, but none of them could manage to open them, no matter how hard they tried. They walked until they came to the end of the corridor, where another door stood in the end wall.
‘Should I try?’ whispered Basalt. (It did not seem right to speak normally in this ancient place.)
‘Go on then.’ said Lady Randa and Carthinal together, and Carthinal added, ‘Although why this one should be any different Majora alone knows.’
He had hardly got the words out of his mouth when he saw that the door swinging open with a loud creak. Bas had hardly had to try. It had not been either locked or stuck. As they entered the chamber in front of them, each drew a breath of amazement.
Fabulous carvings decorated the room. Unicorns and satyrs played in woods where dryads peeped shyly from behind their trees. A Centaur appeared to be discussing something with a nymph, half in and half out of her pool. Dragons basked in the sunlight and elves and humans were gathering flowers and making garlands to adorn each other. Here a group of dwarves, hard at work, dug minerals from their mines, there some merfolk sat on rocks in a cove while the waves broke around them. The surf looked so realistic that they almost thought they could actually hear its booming as the waves crashed to the shore.
The room was circular in shape and in the centre stood a large round table. On the table lay a number of books, a quill pen in its stand, rather tattered after all the years that had passed, a knife for sharpening the quill and an ink well, which had dried up.
The books were stacked neatly, all except for one, which lay in front of a chair drawn up to the table as though the room’s occupant had been working there and just slipped out for a moment. A piece of paper in the book seemed to mark a place.
The three walked slowly around the room, gazing at the superb workmanship of the carvings. Basalt declared that it must have been dwarves who carved the stone, and no one, not even Lady Randa, disputed this statement.
Eventually, Carthinal left Lady Randa and Basalt admiring the room, as he felt drawn to the books. He picked up one at random. It was a spell book. He carefully opened it, and it crackled with age. It seemed to be the spell book of a powerful mage.
There were many very complex spells in it, which Carthinal could not begin to comprehend. He put it down in its place, and picked up another. This one he recognised. These were the simpler spells that he himself had in his own spell book, but it had been written in an archaic style and he had some difficulty recognising some of the words. Then he noticed that Bas had gone to the desk, and had picked up the book with the “bookmark” in it.
Basalt thought he would look at the book although he could not read. Maybe he would be able to recognise the word shape that Carthinal had taught him stood for ‘Sauvern’. To his surprise, part way through the text, he thought he recognised the word. He was not certain. These letters were formed in a slightly different way from the way Carthinal had taught him, but it was enough for him to call Carthinal over.
Carthinal looked over Bas’s shoulder, and Lady Randa came to see what Bas had found.
‘It certainly seems to say “Sauvern”,’ Carthinal confirmed.
‘But the rest?’ queried Lady Randa. ‘What about the rest? It looks like no language I’ve ever seen.’
‘No. You won’t have, and probably won’t again,’ Carthinal told her. ‘If I am not much mistaken, this is an archaic form of Elvish.’
‘Can you read it?’ asked Randa.
‘Unfortunately, no,’ Carthinal replied, ‘but I know someone in the Mage Tower who may, or at least, she may know someone who can translate it for us.’
‘There’s some writing on the paper that kept the place too,’ observed Bas. ‘It looks different.’
True enough, the writing was in Grosmerian. Again, it was an old form of Grosmerian, but Lady Randa had learned something of this during her extensive education as the heir to a Dukedom.
‘It’s a poem,’ she said. ‘Should I read it?’
‘We’d better not ignore anything. Especially in view of the fact that the book seems to mention Sauvern,’ Carthinal said. ‘Go ahead.’
‘It’s called “The Wolf Pack.”’, she went on.
“The wolves will fight ’gainst every foe The balance to maintain. Though far and wide the pack must go All borders they disdain.
“The pack contains the strangest group One whose pride comes with her, And one who slips through every loop, The wilful one, the tracker.
“The leader with his anger held, The ones who hunt the horse. The rock that’s strong completes the meld And makes the pack a force.
“The wolf pack’s members are filled with zest And all do have their place. They hunt their foes with ruthlessness Then vanish without trace.
“In times of danger, all must know The wolf pack will be there. They work as one; they keep their vow. For each other they will care.”
‘Doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. I think it’s just something the writer of this book used as a book mark.’
‘I think you’re right there, Your Ladyship.’ Basalt always seemed to make his use of the honorific sound like an insult, and Lady Randa bristled. ‘No reference to Sauvern or his Sword.’
Carthinal replaced the “bookmark” in the place in the book where it came from, remarking that they may as well use it for the job the original writer did.
He went on to remark that the books were all very old, and moving them may damage them, so, with the Lady’s permission, he would bring his friend to the Palace so she could translate it in situ as it were. Randa agreed, and with that, they left the hidden room, almost having to drag Bas out from his examination of the carvings.
When they came up the stairs to the library they found that darkness had fallen. The candles had been lit in the chandeliers and the light bounced around the room, split into colours by the glass, and making rainbows everywhere. The slight draughts moving around the room caused the candles to flicker and the light looked like thousands of fireflies dancing around.
‘This never fails to impress me,’ said Lady Randa, momentarily forgetting to be the Duke’s Daughter. ‘My grandfather had it done. Look at the way the windows reflect the light back into the room. Isn’t it beautiful?’
The others agreed, and reluctantly tore themselves away from the beautiful library to make their way back to the inn and dinner.
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I was staying in Germany, near Leipzig a few years ago in order to go to a concert in the Thomaskirke. On our way back to the hotel, there was a tremendous thunderstorm. I was inspired to write the following poem.
A lovely day, the sun was warm It had shone on us since dawn. The heat oppressed us all the day, Even as in bed we lay.
We went to Leipzig in the heat. In Thomaskirke we took our seat To hear St John by J.S.Bach. It did not end till after dark.
When we emerged it was in rain. We rushed to find our car again. The thunder rolled across the sky, The lightning flashed, but now we’re dry.
We drove toward Chemnitz and saw O’er Dresden, flashes like the War. Was it ’45 again With bombs falling like the rain?
The lightning flashed, the thunder boomed. We thought that we were surely doomed’ It must at least be Armageddon, Such brightness in a sky so leaden.
The storm went on for several hours Showing nature’s awesome powers And even though it scared us some We were impressed. It struck us dumb.
The Wolf Pack starts where four friends are given a task to find the magical, lost sword of the legendary king, Sauvern. Prior to that, Carthinal had found a prophecy. This is the tale of the finding of that prophecy.I originally incorporated it in the book, The Wolf Pack, but decided to eliminate it.
If you want to know more aboutwhat happens lateryou can buyThe Wolf Pack by clicking on the title, here or on the book cover in the sidebar.
Find out how Carthinal and his friends searched for an artifact the whereabouts no one knew, and read about the dangers they faced in tracking it down.
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. 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.’
As he said this, the door opened and Mabryl entered, shaking his cloak out as he did so. ‘It’s cold out there and it’s turning to snow if I’m not much mistaken. Unusual this far south.’ He turned to his three apprentices. ‘Have you finished the tasks I set you?’
He hung his cloak on a stand by the door. Carthinal stood and walked 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 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.’ Tomac, jumped from his chair and carried 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 the 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. In the meantime, I’ve made what I think may be a big discovery. Perhaps the most important one for many, many years. Look.’ He put an ancient book on the table.
The three apprentices gathered round.
‘I think it may be a spell book from before the Forbidding,. Mabryl ran a finger over the book’s leather spine.
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.’ Carthinal smiled at the girl’s enthusiasm. ‘It may only have the spells we already know and not any of the lost ones.’
Seven hundred years previously there had been a war between conflicting mages. It had caused such devastation and hardship to everyone that the king forbade the use of magic on pain of death and all spell books were burned. Some mages, however, managed to rescue a few books and occasionally these came to light.
During the time of the Forbidding, as it came to be known, much knowledge had been lost and there some mages currently worked 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.
As they discussed this, the door opened and Lillora, Mabryl’s housekeeper entered. ‘Sorry to disturb you, sir, but a bird arrived a few minutes ago. I thought you should know.’
‘I’ll come and look then,’ The mage stood and left the three apprentices to their own devices.
Carthinal picked up the book Mabryl had bought and began to leaf through it. He could understand little of what was written there. It was in an archaic script and language and as he was only an apprentice he 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, then, lifting the book from the table he carried it nearer to the light.
As he approached the window a loose page fell onto the floor. He stooped to pick it up and realised he could read it, and it was not a page from the book that had fallen out, but a note someone had inserted. He sat opposite Emmienne to read it.
‘What’s that?’ asked the brown-haired girl, straining to read it upside down.
‘I’m not sure.’ Carthinal, wrinkled his brow. ‘It fell out of this book but it doesn’t seem to be the same writing, nor is it in the same script. It’s a note of some kind.’ He paused to read it.
Mabryl came back holding a paper in his hand. ‘It’s good news, Carthinal. There’s 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. We’ll need to leave here in three sixdays to allow us time to settle in before your ordeal.’ He looked at the paper in Carthinal’s hand. What’s that you’ve got there?’
‘It fell out of the book you bought.’ Carthinal, handed it to his mentor. ‘It doesn’t seem to be by the author of the book. It’s in a more modern script that I can read. It doesn’t make much sense though.’
Mabryl read it, then read it again, this time aloud.
‘“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.”
‘That seems a 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 to Vimar.’
He turned the page in his hand and saw more writing on the back. ‘This says it’s a quotation from something the writer heard and wrote down. The author says he visited the Oracle on Holy Island and the priests were talking about what the Oracle had said earlier in the day when only the attendants were present.’
He replaced the paper in the book and turned to Carthinal. ‘We must take this book to a colleague of mine in the Mage Tower when we go. She’s working on finding the old spells 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 it was centuries ago, or yesterday.’ He shrugged. ‘It could be referring to a time well in the future or even in the past. We should ignore it for now. Lillora says our lunch is almost ready, so I suggest we go to the table before she gets mad.’
The three apprentices forgot all about the book and the note as they enjoyed Mabryl’s housekeeper’s excellent cooking. After the meal they returned to their studies. Mabryl gave them all tasks to complete and 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. 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.
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.’ Danu rose from his seat and walked over to clasp Mabryl in a hug. ‘You’ve not been to visit in some while, my friend. Busy with your three apprentices, I suppose.’
‘Yes, they keep me busy. Carthinal’s 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 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 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’ll 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 still between its pages. ‘What’s this?’
‘A little note someone left in the book. Carthinal found it. It doesn’t seem to belong to the book and I 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 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 and he can find out more.’
‘I don’t know Duke Rollo,’ Mabryl replied, frowning. ‘He may not believe me. I’ve heard he’s a suspicious man. I think this note maybe a hoax even if you don’t. I’ll need to prove I’ve come from you.’
‘I’ll write you a letter to give him.’ Danu walked to his desk. ‘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 the desk. ‘It’s one of a pair we found in our adventuring days. He has the other. He’ll know I’ve sent you when he sees that, especially if you ask him about the other one. Now, sit down and I’ll get some wine for us to drink while we talk about other things.’
The 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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We planted a vine in our garden when we moved into the house. It has now become a lovely shady spot for sitting and reading. The leaves shade your eyes so that it’s possible to read without squinting.
For visually impaired readers, the picture shows a garden bench against a fence with some patches of ivy growing up it, and the trunk of a vine. On the bench is a pair of spectacles and a book. the book cover shows a young man with shoulder-length auburn hair. The background is a pale blue with the shadow of a wolf behind the young man.
The book on the bench is The Wolf Pack, which was my first ever book to be published. It is the first of a series that I’ve entitled The Wolves of Vimar (Vimar being the world where the action takes place).
The story is based on a Dungeons and Dragons scenario I wrote, but in the writing, it changed somewhat. Some places where certain things happened in the scenario I moved to somewhere else in the book.
I was excited to hear from Next Chapter that it has been translated into French and Spanish, too.
The Wolf Pack tells of a group of people, unknown to each other in the beginning, who are commissioned to go and find a magical sword that used to belong to the legendary king, Sauvern. Its whereabouts has been lost for many centuries.
There are surprises and dangers to be encountered in the tale. Death is never far away, and help comes in unexpected ways. Every character has to confront their fears, and they are all changed by their experiences.
Due to the very different characters, there are arguments and confrontations on the way as well.
The book has been generally well received and is currently number 47 in Teen and Young Adult Fantasy Interactive Fiction. (Although I didn’t write it as a teen book, and it’s not interactive! Still, who knows the workings of the Great Zon!)
Here is one of the reviews it received in the USA:
John Thornton 5.0 out of 5 stars
A solidly done, and crafted fantasy novel
“The Wolf Pack” is an original and well crafted fantasy novel. If you like novels like the “Earthsea Saga” by Ursula Le Guin or “When the Heavens Fall” by Marc Turner then I suggest that you may well enjoy “The Wolf Pack.” British style and spellings throughout. Not really a negative, just a difference to be noted.
I found the characters well developed, and complex (in a good way).
The plot is unique and unusual. It is not easy to explain, but does unfold nicely as one reads through the book. I am trying to avoid spoilers, so I do not want to give too much away.
Dialogue is well written and each character has his or her own voice.
If you are interested in purchasing this book, it is available in ebook and paperback format. You can buy it by clicking on the cover in the sidebar or here. This will take you to Amazon where you are.
If you read the book, please leave a review. Reviews are the lifeblood ofauthors as they are the best way to let people know about books, good or bad, so peoplewill have an idea if they will enjoy it.
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