Another Chance at a Freebie.

theneverdyingman

From tomorrow, April 15th, the second book in The Wolves of Vimar Series, The Never-Dying Man, is FREE for 5 days only. The offer ends on Friday 19th April.

Hurry and get your copy before it’s too late. You can get it by clicking on the title or the book cover. You will be taken to its Amazon page where you are.

You can also get Book 1, The Wolf Pack, by clicking here,

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and Book 3, Wolf Moon, here.

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On Tuesday, I will be hosting a new member of the Creativia family. Sean Robbins has his very first book on pre-order. It is a scifi tale, so especially if you are a fan of that genre, don’t forget to come around and find out more about Sean and his book. It sound interesting.

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How a farmer’s son became the companion of a Prince

This is a chapter at the beginning of Elemental Worlds. At least, it was going to be the first chapter, but I decided to eliminate it. It tells how Pettic, the son of a farmer, came to be the friend and companion of Crown Prince Torren of Pondoria.

Later on, Pettic needs to put his own life in danger when the prince is kidnapped.

The-Stones-Of-Earth-And-Air-Promo-Hardback-EreaderThe-Stones-Of-Fire-And-Water-Promo-Hardback-Ereader

Pettic woke up early. It was still dark, but he could hear his mother moving around in the downstairs room. Today they would have to get their chores done early. Today they were going to take the two day journey to the capital city of Ponderia.
Pettic had never been to Glitton. In fact he had never been further than a half day’s journey from the farm his parents owned. This journey was to celebrate his thirteenth birthday.

 

He poked his little brother in the ribs. ‘Derkil, get up. We need to do our jobs quickly. Don’t forget today is the day we’re going to Glitton.’
Eleven-year-old Derkil rolled over and opened his eyes, then closed them and rolled back.
‘Derkil, come on, get up!’
At that, Derkil opened his eyes wide and laughed. ‘Did you think I’d forget, Pettic? I’ve not been to Glitton either, remember.’
With that, the younger boy jumped up and dressed quickly. The two boys climbed down the ladder leading from their loft bedroom into the main room of the cottage.
Their mother was preparing breakfast and packing a large hamper to take with them. ‘Come on, boys,’ she exclaimed when she saw them. ‘Go and get your jobs done. Your father’s milking the cows today, so I can pack the food we’re taking, but the chickens need feeding, the sheep watering and checking over, the dogs and cats fed and the horse harnessed to the wagon.’
Their father, Brimar, was pulling down hay for the two cows to eat while they were being milked when the boys appeared. ‘Get on as quickly as you can, lads,’ he called. ‘I want to be on the way as soon after sunrise as possible.’
‘When will Yelldon be coming?’ Pettic asked.
Yelldon was a neighbour who had handed over the running of the family farm to his son the previou year. He was still an active man, though, and agreed to look after the farm while the family were away.
‘At dawn, he said,’ replied Pettic’s father. ‘I want to be ready to leave as soon as I’ve told him what’s what.’
The two boys ran to their tasks and finished before the sun poked its head over the horizon. Yelldon arrived soon afterwards. Being an experienced farmer, he did not need much instruction. It was more a case of telling him where things were.
‘Are you ready Helra?’ the boy’s father called impatiently to their mother. Pettic could swear his parents were as excited as he was about the coming visit.
Helra came out brushing a lock of her long chestnut hair from her eyes. ‘Just making sure everything is left tidy.’ She climbed onto the wagon to sit next to her husband on the driver’s seat and they trotted out of the farmyard about half an hour after Yelldon had arrived.
They drove through through familiar land for the first half-day until they reached the village of Prind. The land around was fertile and quite flat and much was produced. Here they came each week to the market to sell any surplus produce and buy things they did not produce themselves. People came from the towns around too and not only produce was exchanged, but news too.
They called in at the local tavern and bought some lunch and exchanged comments with the various friends and acquaintances gathered there before continuing onwards.
The boys found this second part of the journey much more exciting, and, truth to tell so did the adults the adults. The land began to rise into rolling downland as they left the plains behind. Here the farming was predominantly sheep. As it was summer, the spring lambs were growing quickly and many had been rounded up to go to the markets.
The first day ended with the family approaching the town of Clind Row. This town seemed like a huge metropolis to the boys who had never before seen anywhere bigger than their village. In fact, it was quite a small town.
They found an inn for the night and as soon as Brimar ensured their horse was well stabled, the family went into the inn and had a hot meal. Brimar struck up a conversation with one of the locals and stayed down drinking ale, but Helra and the boys went up to their room. Pettic wanted to stay down with his father, but Helra had insisted he was still too young, thirteen in two days or not.
The next day was much the same as the previous one, except they ate the food Helra had packed rather than eat in inns or taverns.
About an hour before sunset, a city appeared over the horizon.
‘Is that Glitton?’ asked Pettic.
‘Yes, that’s the capital city,’ replied Brimar. ‘That is unless I’ve taken the wrong road somewhere,’ He winked at his wife.
‘Oh, no,’ wailed Dirkil. ‘Could you have done that? What happens if it’s the wrong place?’
‘Stop teasing the boys,’ scolded Helra with a smile. She turned to Dirkil. ‘Yes, it’s Glitton.

There is only one road to the capital. Even your father can’t get that wrong.’
Brimar aimed a friendly punch at his wife who ducked, laughing.
The little party soon passed through the gates of the capital city. All four of them looked around in wonder. Here the houses were built of stone and looked huge to the country folk. The roads, too, were paved and not the muddy tracks they had known in the villages around their farm. There were churches with tall spires or towers that looked as if they were trying to reach the heavens, so tall did they seem.
They found an inn and asked if they had rooms, but were told all were taken due to something called “The Proclamation”.
The innkeeper sent them off down a side road to a smaller inn. ‘It’s clean and does good food, but it’s not so fashionable as this one, although I say it myself. They may have space for a family if you don’t mind sharing a room.’
That turned out to be the case they booked the room for a week and unloaded their things. A groom took their wagon into the coach-house and their horse to the stables. Brimar was secretly glad the other inn was full. This inn was, as they had been told, small, but it was clean and the landlord friendly. It was also cheaper than the other one, an important consideration for the country folk.
They ordered a meal and this time took it in their room. They were all tired after travelling and so they went to bed early. Being used to going to bed with the sun and rising with it too, it was no hardship.
The next morning, Helra told the boys to put on their best clothes. She had insisted they were going to the big city, home to the king, and so they should look their best.
Dirkil protested. ‘But mother, it’s not as though the king or anyone important will see us. My best clothes are so-o uncomfortable.’
Helra insisted, however, and as usual she got her way.
Shortly after they had eaten, and Helra had inspected the boys (and incidentally, her husband too) they set off to look at the city. It was huge. No one in the family had ever been in such a big place. It was busy too, and noisy. On every street corner, it seemed, there was someone selling something. Flowers here, sweetmeats there, pies too. They entered a square where a market was in full swing. The stall-holders cried their wares, calling to passers-by to look at what they had for sale. The scents of food and flowers filled the air. The boys wanted to stop and look at the wares, but their father hurried them on.
‘Why can’t we stop to look?’ asked Pettic.
‘We’ll look another time,’ replied Brimar. ‘We have a week here, after all. I thought we’d begin by looking at the palace. Today, I believe, they’ve opened it to the public because it’s the Prince’s thirteenth birthday.’
‘Just like you, Pettic,’ pointed out Dirkil.
‘Oh, I hadn’t noticed,’ replied his brother, sarcastically. ‘I thought we were here to see the king!’
They passed through some inner gates into the oldest part of the city. Here the houses were even bigger and the place looked tidy and well kept. The streets were clean and the windows of the houses were polished. Helra surreptitiously peeped into one of the windows as they passed.
‘It’s beautiful inside,’ she whispered.
They came to the palace gates and were admitted. After crossing a large courtyard with a variety of buildings in it, they arrived at the main doors and were ushered into a large hall. There were chairs in this hall as if there were going to be some kind of ceremony. The ceiling had flags hanging from it. Brimar told the boys they were the emblems of all the nobility and knights who would be called on to fight for their country in times of war. The ceiling itself had large wooden beams and the walls were covered with tapestries, mainly scenes of warfare and hunting.
Several families filled the room, all with at least one boy around Pettic’s age. Some sat on the chairs and some walked around looking at everything there was to see. Those on the chairs were looking bored as though they had seen it all before, which they may have done because they were all richly dressed. Their parents were talking quietly together as if they had known each other for a long time. These were obviously noble families, but what were they waiting for? That they were waiting for something was obvious.
After looking around at the tapestries, and Helra admiring the fine stitching, Brimar suggested they sit down ‘for a rest’.
Dirkil protested he did not want a rest. He was not tired. Why could they not go and look at somewhere else. They had seen this place now.
‘Your mother needs to sit down for a while,’ Brimar responded.
Pettic looked at his mother. She did not look in the least bit tired. What was his father up to? Anyway, he needed to go to pass water. He had been holding it in for quite a while now, and he was getting desperate. He whispered to his father who went to one of the guards standing around the room and asked.
‘Come with me, young man,’ the guard told Pettic, and walked off through a door on the opposite side of the room from where they had entered.
Pettic followed and the guuard took him down a number of corridors until they came to a door.
‘In there is the garderobe,’ said the guard. ‘I need to be in the Great Hall now and so I trust you can find your way back. If you get lost, just ask one of the servants. There are usually plenty around.’
With that, he walked off leaving Pettic in front of the garderobe door.
When he had finished, Pettic left the garderobe and started back towards the Great Hall. After a while he found he had become quite lost. He was just beginning to panic when he spotted a young boy of about his age at the end of the passage.
‘Hey,’ he called, ‘I’m lost. I need to get back to the Great Hall. Can you tell me which way to go, please?’
The boy stopped and looked round. He came down the corridor towards Pettic.
He was about the same height as Pettic but with dark hair whereas Pettic’s was fair. He had brown eyes and was wearing a dark blue jerkin over a maroon shirt. Pettic knew these were the royal colours so he assumed this boy was one of the royal attendants.
‘I can show you the way back. I’m not wanted for a while yet,’ the boy answered.
‘Thank you very much,’ Pettic said. ‘I suppose you work here. Are you some kind of page, doing your training?’
The boy smiled. ‘Yes. I am in training.What do you do?’
‘My father’s a farmer in a village two days’ drive away. We only have a small farm, but we do have two cows,’ He drew himself up a little as he said this. ‘Not many farmers have a cow. They get their milk from goats. My mother makes butter and cheese from the extra milk. It tastes different from goats’ cheese and butter.’
‘Yes, I know,’ the boy answered. ‘I’ve had cows’ cheese and milk. I prefer it to goats’.’
Pettic was pleased to meet someone who liked the cows’ milk and cheese. Most of his friends preferred the goats’ but that was mainly because that was what they were used to.
The pair chatted on as they wended their way back to the Great Hall. Pettic learned about life in the palace and the boy learned about Pettic’s life on the farm.
When they reached the door to the Great Hall the boy said, ‘It sounds a great life, living on a farm. So free. I loved the story you told about falling out of the tree you were climbing. I’m not allowed to climb trees.’
With that, he ran back the way he came and Pettic entered the great Hall once more.
His parents had been getting anxious about him and were pleased to see him back. He told them about getting lost and meeting the trainee page and how the boy had shown him back to the Hall.
‘I think we should tell him why we are here, don’t you, Brimar,’ Helra said suddenly.
Pettic looked at his mother and frowned. ‘We’re here for my birthday, aren’t we?’
‘Yes, dear, of course, but there’s something else too. Now I don’t expect it will come to anything, but the king sent out a proclamation a few weeks ago. Crown Prince Torren is thirteen today, just like you and all the other boys here today.’
Pettic frowned. His father continued. ‘The king sent a proclamation to ask if any boy with a birthday on the same day as the Prince would care to come to the palace today, then the prince would choose one of them to be his friend and companion. So here we are.’
Just then, the first of the boys was called and he stood and went through a door at the far end of the room.
‘Mother, Father,’ Pettic said. ‘This is ridiculous. You know one of the nobles’ sons will get it. We should go now before we’re embarrassed.’
‘No, son,’ Brimar insisted. ‘We’ve come this far and I don’t intend to leave until you’ve at least seen the prince. The king has said he’ll leave the interviewing and choice entirely to Prince Torren. It’s said the prince is not in the slightest snobbish and I think everyone here stands a chance.’
Pettic sighed. The boy who had been in to see the prince came out and another boy went in.
This went on for a while until Pettic’s name was called. He stood and looked at his parents for help. His mother gave him a little push and he crossed the room towards the little door feeling as if all eyes were on him. (Which of course they were.)
He entered a small room. There was a large table in the centre and a window behind it. Pettic bowed to the pair seated on the other side of the table. A voice he recognised bade him be seated.
He looked up eyes widening as he saw the boy he had been so casually talking to, and whom he had unceremoniously asked for help. He could hardly believe he had been in the presence of Prince Torren and not known it.
Next to the prince was a man that could only be the king. He was a tall man with the same dark hair and brown eyes as his son, but he sported a well-trimmed beard. He looked a kind man and he smiled at Pettic to give him courage.
Prince Torren also smiled at Pettic. ‘Well, Pettic, we meet again. I hope you won’t hold it against me for not telling you who I am. I’ve so little chance of talking to someone not of my family, who doesn’t treat me as different.’
‘N-no, Your Royal Highness.’
Prince Torren asked more questions about Pettic’s life on the farm. Pettic quickly relaxed and soon had both the prince and his father laughing at some of the tales he told. Eventually, though, Prince Torren told Pettic he had seen enough to make up his mind, and dismissed the other boy.
‘You were a long time in there,’ his mother said when he came across the hall to them. ‘I was wondering what was happening.’
Pettic smiled. ‘We were just talking, mother. Prince Torren is friendly. Did you know he showed me the way back from the garderobe when I got lost?’
‘What?,’ Dirkil said ‘You were talking to a real prince and didn’t know it? I’d have spotted him right off.’
‘I don’t think so. He looks normal and speaks normally too.’
It took a long time for all the boys to be interviewed. Derkin had been complaining for quite some time about being bored and Helra said she would take him out to look at the market. Thus it was that when the last boy came out, only a restless Pettic and his father were sitting waiting.
‘Why can’t we go and meet mother and Derkin, father?’ Pettic asked.’It’s not as if I’m likely to be chosen, is it? The prince’ll want someone from his own class as a companion.’
Brimar insisted they stay. They had come this far and they were not going to leave before they found out who the prince had chosen.
It was only about ten minutes after the last boy had come out that the prince and the king emerged from the little room. Everyone stood and bowed as the pair went to a platform next to the room where the interviews had been held. The king bade everyone to sit and took his place on the throne. Prince Torren stood next to his father, glanced once at him and then stepped forward.
‘I have made my decision,’ he began. ‘It was not an easy one. All of you had things to recommend you to me, but eventually I thought there is one of you I took to immediately.’ The prince paused and looked around the room. His eyes caught Pettic’s and held. ‘I would like to employ as my companion, and I hope my friend, Pettic.’
Pettic eyes scanned the room. There must be some mistake. There must be another Pettic here. But no, no one else was moving, and all eyes were on him.
The prince smiled and said, ‘Yes, Pettic, I’ve chosen you. Come up so everyone can see you.’

You can read about Pettic’s adventures in the four elemental worlds he has to enter in order to rescue his friend in The Stones of Earth and Air, then in The Stones of Fire and Water.

Click on the titles or book pictures to buy.

You can get the books as ebooks or as real books.

Here is something about the book.

After the Crown Prince of Ponderia starts behaving strangely, his best friend Pettic discovers that the prince has been replaced by a doppelganger, and the real prince kidnapped.

Unable to accept the loss of his friend, Prince Torren, nor the cruel impostor to become the new king, Pettic sets on a quest to rescue his friend. After he sees the fake prince meet a mysterious man, Pettic discovers that the prince has been imprisoned in another plane of existence.

With the help of Blundo, the court magician, Pettic finds out that the only way to enter this other world are four keys, each of them associated with a different element. As Pettic sets on his seemingly impossible quest, he discovers that the four lands that hold the keys are all vastly different… and more dangerous than he could have ever imagined.#

Please leave a comment. I would love to know what you thnk about it. And if you buy the books, please leave a review. Reviews are important to authors and readers. They help to tell readers if they would like the book, and help the author to get sales and exposure for their hard work.

Thank you.

 

 

Spring. A Poem

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Dandelions, like gold, cover the meadows.
Newborn lambs frolic in fields.
New leaves on the trees are casting their shadows
And winter’s cold grip quickly yields.

At the edges of woodland the primroses glow
And cowslips their scent fills the air.
Anemones dance when the breezes do blow
And birds sing with never a care.

Then bluebells and campions come into bloom
Their colour the blue of the sea.
The cuckoo, that herald of spring, will come soon
His call echoing over the lea.

The song of the blackbird is like molten gold.
His notes are so pure and so clear.
Hearing him seems to banish the cold
And brings joy to all those who hear.

Robin is nesting, and other birds too,
The hedgehog is active once more.
The young of the deer and the badger and shrew
Play their games as in old days of yore.

The sun climbs higher and higher each day
Giving more of his heat and his light.
It sparkles like stars fallen into the bay.
All smile at the beautiful sight.

Hope and excitement come with each spring morn.
What blessings will come with this day?
New starts can begin once again with each dawn
And send us all hopeful away.

 

I hope you like  this spring poem. Please tell me what you think in the comments.

Vengeance of a Slave visits Mainz, Germany.

The city of Mainz, once known as Mogantiacum, was a Roman fort along the Rhine. It bordered Germania, on the other side of the river, which, in the time of Adelbehrt, the slave of the book’s title, was not part of the Roman empire, but of Germania.

When the Romans took him and Avelina, his sister, to sell as slaves, it was to Mogantiacum they went, along with several other captives.

Vengeance of a Slave is visiting Mainz today, and is in the market place.

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If you would like to find out more about Adelbehrt and how he got his revenge on the Romans, click here. It will take you to the book’s page at Amazon where you are.

You can find out more about my books by clicking on the ‘books’ tab, or you can go to my author page on Amazon by clicking here.

Or to find out more about me, click here to see my page on Creativia, who have published my fantasy novels.

I would love to hear from you, so please add a comment in the comments box.

2 offers

There are 2 offers today.

Vengeancecover

  1. Vengeance of a Slave, a novel set in Roman Britain, is on offer until Dec 26th. Save £1 and get it for only £1.99 (US $1.99). It tells of how a young man tries to take revenge on the Romans for capturing him and removing him from his family. Click on the cover to buy.
  2. The-Stones-Of-Earth-And-Air-Promo-Hardback-Ereader The Stones of Earth and Air, Book 1 of Elemental Worlds, will be free from 15th (Saturday) until 20th (Thursday). This tells of how Pettic has to enter 4 worlds, each associated with one of the ancient elements, in order to find and rescue his friend, the Crown Prince of Ponderia. In this book, he enters the worlds of Terra and Aeris.

Don’t miss the opportunity to get your copies free.

If you are getting someone a Kindle or other tablet for Christmas, and they like historical novels or fantasy, then you could give it them with one (or both) of these books already on it.

Will you please vote for the cover of Vengeance of a Slave in a cover competition. You can vote this week and I think next, too.

So many of the covers in the competition seem very samey. They all have people on them, often sexy people. Seems to me that’s the ‘in’  thing at the moment. Very little originality.  Anyway, please vote, and thanks for when you have.

Here’s the link.

https://alternative-read.com/2018/11/05/november-2018-altread-alternative-book-cover-award-nominees-have-you-voted-yet-bookcover/

An Update on my Writing

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I’m going to give you an update of my writing today.

I have been working on the next historical novel. I’ve completed the first draft, and it is currently undergoing some critiquing from a wonderful site I’ve found called Scribophile. I was hoping to get it out before Christmas, but it might be a bit longer than that.

It is called Jealousy of a Viking and is the story of a descendant of Adelbehrt from Vengeance of a Slave. She, Helgha, is a young Viking girl who falls in love with Erik, the son of a jarl from Jorvik, modern York.

Of course, true love does not run smoothly (no story if it does). They cannot marry because of the difference in their status. She becomes his mistress, but trouble starts when he marries to improve his family’s standing.

Her rival for Erik’s love has the advantage she is his legal wife and a feud begins between them. Which woman will win? Can Helgha find a way to be with Erik after all? Will her knowledge of herbs help her?

I’ve also been working on the next book in The Wolves of Vimar series. I lost a whole chunk of it somehow, and became a bit disheartened, then I found it. At least I thought I had, but a chunk from the middle is still missing and needs rewriting. Hey ho! That’s life. I suppose.

This book has no title as yet. In it, the group known as Wolf travel to Bluehaven and hence Holy Isle for the wedding of one of their number, Randa, to Prince Almoro, brother to the king. Then revolts occur in several cities, and Erian, the land bordering them, marches in and takes over several dukedoms, capturing the Duke of Senndolina.

Several of Wolf travel to try to rescue him, and Rollo, Duke of Hambara, sets off for Erian to try to talk peace with The Master.

That’s the next one to try to finish.

Free Book

theneverdyingmanFrom today, October 18th, The Never-Dying Man, Book 2 of The Wolves of Vimar Series, is FREE on Amazon.

It is only available for 5 days, until 22nd October, so hurry and get your copy.

Here is a bit about it.

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 recognized 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.

Why not get a copy of Books 1 and 2 as well? Click on the links to buy.

The Wolf Pack. Book 1

The Never-Dying Man. Book 2

Wolf Moon. Book 3

 

An Interview with Basalt Strongarm from The Wolf Pack

After much persuasion, I managed to get an interview with Basalt, the dwarf friend of Carthinal.

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Me: Good morning, Basalt. Thank you for giving me your time.

Basalt: Hmm! I’m very busy. I hope you don’t intend to be too long.

Me. No, this shouldn’t take more than a few minutes. Just trying to find a bit about you.

Basalt: Well, what do you want to know?

Me: You’ve lived in Grosmer for a long time, but you weren’t born here, were you?

Basalt: No, I was born in the Dwarven homeland of Graal. It’s at the southern end of the Western Mountains, you know. As far away from those flighty elves as we can get.

Me: But one of your friends is an elf, and another a half elf. Surely you can’t think all of them are flighty/

Basalt: Did I say I thought of them all as flighty? Of course not. Asphodel and Carthinal are just normal folks. So is Yssa. But they will give their children such unpronounceable names.

Me, smiling: So you are not against all elves, then?

Basalt: It’s not me you should be worrying about, but the other dwarves who still think like that. I’m willing to accept that elves, like dwarves and people, have all kinds of folk.

Me: Tell me about your early life,

Basalt: I was my parents’ second child. My brother, Schist, is much older than I am. My parents, Granite and Emerald, had given up hope of another child, then I came along. I guess they spoiled me because of it.

Me: How did Schist react to your birth.

Basalt: He was very good to me. He played with me, looked after me when my parents were down the mine and we got on very well.

Me: Why did you leave Graal then?

Basalt: Everything was fine until my parents were killed in a mine collapse. Then Schist took over the running of the mine. (It belonged to my parents, see). We were supposed to be joint owners, but then she came along.

Me: She?

Basalt: Opal. She set her sights at him when she realised he would be part owner of the mine and rich. They got married, and gradually she poisoned him against me. They gave me all the worst and most dangerous jobs.

Me: But if Schist was so fond of you, how could she manage to turn him.

Basalt: Well, when our parents died, I was still only a little whippersnapper. I’d only just started my apprenticeship. Opal argued that as I was not a qualified miner, and had not worked to build up the mine as had Schist, then it was unfair that I should have equal shares with him. Somehow she managed to convince him. I think she hoped that by giving me dangerous jobs she hoped I’d be killed. So I left.

Me: And made your way to Grosmer where, I believe, you learned the trade of metalworking.

Basalt nodded: And I’ve never regretted it. I love working with metal–making beautiful things as well as useful ones. I also taught myself to carve wood, I make toys for my friends’ children, and I made an amulet for each member of The Wolf Pack, indicating their character as well as showing they are members.

Me: Well, I’ll let you get back to your work. Thank you for agreeing to this interview.

Basalt: Well, I’ll be off. Work to finish. Goodbye.

A recipe from 1909

I inherited a small book of hand-written recipes from my Grandmother. The back of the book had some of her household accounts and they were dated, so I know the date of the recipes was around 1909.

I found it interesting to peruse these old recipes and compare them with the food we eat now. There was so much more fat then, and it was mainly animal fat.

I thought you might be interested in looking at some of our history, as far as food is concerned, and so here is one of the puddings from Grandma’s Little Book.

Of course, the weights and measures were in imperial measures, so I changed them for a more modern audience. If you live in the USA, I’ve put Grandma’s measures in brackets.

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This is not a picture of the Amber Pudding, but the nearest I could find as to what I think it is. It will not have the sauce.

 

Amber Pudding

Ingredients

Just over 100g (8oz)  breadcrumbs

100g (8oz) beef suet

60g (2oz)moist brown sugar

2 eggs

3 dessertspoons marmalade

Method

Mix all ingredients well together.

Put into a buttered basin.

Steam for 2 hours.

If you find these old recipes interesting, you can find out more in Viv’s Family Recipes.  See the book on My Books page. Click on the link here and it will take you directly to the book’s page on Amazon.

A brief look at Vengeance of a Slave

Today I’m giving you a look at Chapter 1 of Vengeance of a Slave. It is the story of a young man, taken as a slave by the Romans in 70AD, how his hatred of the Romans grew and how he extracted his revenge on them.

I hope you enjoy it. If you want to purchase a copy, follow this link. or click on the picture of the book cover below.

Vengeancecover

AD 70

CHAPTER 1
The boy tried to hold back the tears pricking the back of his eyelids. His mother stood next to him, holding his hand while they nailed his father to the cross. Some Roman soldiers lifted five other crosses in the field just outside the town. He covered his ears against the screaming of the women as they tried to rush forward to their men folk, who now hung on the crosses.
He looked up at his mother who stood calmly and with dignity, knowing hysterics would not help her husband, nor her small family. He tried to ignore the screams from the men as the nails entered their flesh.
The boy understood little of what had happened, but he knew a man named Julius Civilis led a rebellion against Rome and the Roman Legions on the Rhenus went to put it down. He knew his father and other men took advantage while the soldiers were away and they launched their own attacks across the Rhenus and even laid siege to the town of Mogantiacum. He understood the legions coming back from the north had relieved the siege and now the Romans had come to punish them. What he did not understand was why.
When the Romans arrived across the river, they lined all the men up and took every tenth man to be made an example of and then set about making crosses for their crucifixion. The Romans pushed the boy along with the rest of the population to this field to watch.
The commander of the Romans told them they must see what happened to those who challenged the might of Rome, even though they were not in the Empire. Rome must exact punishment for the raid.
The boy pushed back the tears forming in his eyes. He could hear his little sister crying as she hung onto their mother’s leg, burying her face in her mother’s skirts, but she was only four, so she could be excused. His baby brother slept in his mother’s arms blissfully ignorant of what happened around him. He would never know his father, the boy thought, looking up at the baby. He almost wept then. He would never see his father again after today, either.
He forced himself to look at the crosses, searching for the one on which the Romans had nailed his father. He knew it would be the last chance he had of seeing him. He caught his father’s eyes. In spite of the pain in them, his father gave a half smile and mouthed ‘Look after your mother and sister.’
The boy was six, and the eldest, so he had to show courage. A slight breeze ruffled his ash blonde hair and he raised his hand to push it back out of his eyes. He didn’t want to see the horrible death his father was undergoing, but he felt, somehow, he owed it to him to watch and remember. A tear trickled down his cheek, and he brushed it away. He must stay strong for the rest of the family.
After the soldiers had lifted all the crosses, the people turned away to return to their homes. Some women tried to rush to the crucifixes, but the Romans beat them away. They would allow no one to try to rescue the men.
As the boy and his family walked sadly away from the field of death a legionnaire approached his mother. She stopped and shook him off as he touched her arm.
‘These are your children?’ he asked in their language.
His mother looked scornfully at him. ‘Of course!’ she snapped. ‘I wouldn’t bring anyone else’s children to a crucifixion.’
The legionnaire reached out to the boy and touched his hair. The boy pulled back, not wanting this man, who had been complicit in his father’s death, to touch him. He shivered as the strange man smiled at him. The boy thought he looked like a wolf.
The legionnaire spoke to his mother again.
‘I’ve never seen such pale hair. I see your little girl also has it. They’ll make a fortune on the block.’
Their mother looked at him in confusion.
‘What do you mean, “on the block”?’ she asked.
‘Oh, we’re taking a few of you as slaves. We always need more and it will teach you not to attack Rome in future.’
‘You’re taking us as slaves?’
The man laughed. ‘Oh, not you. Just these two children. You’re not particularly valuable, but these…’
‘No! You can’t take my children,’ cried the boy’s mother. ‘Take me, but leave my children alone. You’ve taken my husband and put him to death. Isn’t that enough?’
She grabbed onto the boy and his sister, nearly dropping the baby as she did so.
The legionnaire pushed her away and roughly took the boy and his sister by their arms. The boy struggled, understanding this man intended to take him and his sister away from their mother. The legionnaire pushed them in front of him towards where a group of crying children and screaming mothers stood.
His mother’s composure broke then, and she began to scream along with the others as she tried to wrest her two children from the officer. It was to no avail. Seeing his mother crying broke the child’s resolve and he broke down into sobs, struggling against the man. He was no match for the strong Roman soldier, though and the man pushed him towards where more soldiers held the other prisoners.
No matter how much he struggled, he could not escape the firm grip of the soldier holding him. He turned and tried to bite. The man laughed and said something in Latin to him that he did not understand. His mother tried to come to him, having handed the baby to a neighbour, but a centurion knocked her to the ground. The boy heard him speaking to her in their language,
‘Don’t try that again or you’ll regret it. Your tribe deserves all the punishment we mete out after your attack on us. Those children will bring a fortune with their light hair. Never seen hair like that. Almost white. They’ll go mad for them in Rome.’
Then he understood that they would be very unlikely to escape and that, in all likelihood, he and his sister would be separated. Would some rich Roman buy them as pets? What would happen to them when they were no longer pretty children?
The legionnaire dragged the two children to where the boy saw a small group of others being guarded by more soldiers. This group consisted mainly of young boys and men over the age of ten, with a few of the prettier teenage girls. He could see no more small children on the group.
One of the girls, whom they knew quite well as she lived near to them, came and picked his sister up, soothing the sobbing child as best she could.
‘Hush, hush,’ she whispered to the little girl. ‘I’ll take care of you and your brother. I’m sure no one will hurt you.’
‘They killed my father,’ sniffed the boy, wiping his nose with his hand and then smearing it over his face as he wiped his eyes.
‘Yes, but they were punishing him for attacking their city. You haven’t done anything, so they won’t hurt you.’
‘Then why are they taking us from our mother and little brother?’
‘You’re both very pretty children, you know. They haven’t seen anyone with hair as light as yours, I don’t suppose, and they think you’ll bring them a lot of money.’
‘Then we’re to be slaves!’
‘Yes, I’m afraid so.’ she replied. ‘So am I, and these others too. They’ve taken all the boys of an age that might decide to try to take revenge, as well as a few of us girls.’
Just then, his mother managed to break away and she rushed towards the little group of slaves, calling out his name.
‘Adelberht, Adelberht. Look after your sister. Don’t let anyone hurt her.’
‘I won’t, Mamma. I’ll take good care of her. Odila’s here. She’ll help us.’
They crossed the river to the Roman fort of Mogantiacum. Adelberht did not notice much about the place, concerned as he was about their situation. He understood he and his sister would probably be bought by different people, and wondered how he could then fulfil his promise to his mother that he would look after her.
He felt a growing hatred for the Romans. They had first crucified his father, a terrible death for the young boy to witness, then taken him from his family, home and friends. He thought he would also have his sister taken from him at some time, so he subsumed his sorrow and fear by building his hatred of his captors.
The soldiers took the prisoners to a compound in one corner of the fort and locked them in. His sister, Avelina, had stopped crying and clung to Odila. He was glad of that, but wondered what would happen when she was not only taken from her mother, but from him too. Where would they take them to be sold? Would they be sold here or taken elsewhere? Maybe even to Rome itself. What was his mother doing? Was there any chance there would be a rescue party? Could he make a break, somehow rescue his sister and get back across the river? All these questions went through his head as he sat in the compound.
Soon, a legionnaire brought some food for them to eat and water to drink. He picked at the food, but drank some water. Odila tried to persuade Avelina to eat something, but the little girl still sobbed between the small mouthfuls the older girl managed to get into her mouth.
Eventually she fell asleep in Odila’s arms while still eating. The day’s events had all been too much for her. Adelberht himself began to feel tired, but before he went to sleep, he enumerated the reasons he hated the Romans.
‘They crucified my father: they took my family away from me: they took my home from me: they took my friends from me: they will probably take my sister from me.’
The next day Adelberht woke wondering where he was. Then it all came flooding back. Tears again pricked at his eyelids, but he determined he would never again cry because of a Roman. One day he would have revenge for all they had done to him. One day he would be free again. He would also find his sister and free her too, if they were separated. Wherever the Romans took her, he would find her. Then he would try to get back to his home across the Rhenus. He did not think about how he would carry out these plans. He would just take any chance he could when it came.
They sat in the compound all that day. The commander of the fort came and looked them over. He took a couple of the girls out and marched them over to his rooms. Adelbehrt wondered what was going to happen to them. Were they going to be sold separately from the rest? He thought about it for a while, then forgot about them as he tried to comfort his sister, who had begun crying again.
‘Don’t cry, Avelina,’ he told her, ‘Everything will be all right. Somehow we’ll get away and go back to Mamma.’
The little girl looked at him trustingly, and a half-smile appeared on her face.
‘Back to Mamma?’ she asked him. ‘I miss Mamma.’
‘Yes, so do I. It may not be soon, but one day we’ll escape these horrid Romans.’
‘I don’t like the Romans. They killed papa.’
‘No, I don’t like them either. We’ll get away sometime, I promise you.’
He did not know how or when he would be able to keep his promise to the little girl but he determined to do so, whatever the cost. He smiled to see his words had comforted Avelina somewhat, and that she had dried her eyes and sat more quietly.
Towards evening, the two girls, whom the commander had taken, returned to the compound. They entered the compound in tears. Adelberht wanted to ask them what had happened, but Odila kept him away from them. He wondered why, but she managed to distract him by talking about Avelina. The little girl had once again started to cry, seeing the tears of the two older girls, so he did not find out what caused their upset. He did notice one of the young men, who had been courting one of the girls before they were taken prisoner, became very angry and some of his friends held him back as he tried to attack one of the Romans.
OoOoOoOoOo
Two days passed. Avelina cried less, but called for their mother in the night, every night. She also began sucking her thumb again. She had almost stopped that childish habit before their capture. Adelberht also missed their mother, but he stuck to his resolve not to allow the Romans to make him cry. Even when the tears pricked the backs of his eyes he managed to prevent them from falling.
Each day, the commander took one or two girls and they always returned crying. Sometimes one of the legates or centurions took a girl. They took Odila on the second day. When she came back, Adelbehrt asked her what happened, but she refused to talk of it. She seemed withdrawn after that, and sat in a corner with the other girls, not talking, but staring into space.
On the third day of their captivity, a civilian man came over to the compound with the commander of the castrum. He looked the slaves over and called for Adelbehrt and Avelina to be brought to him. He asked a few questions in Latin, which Adelbehrt did not understand, but assumed they were about him and his sister. Then the man smiled. The two men walked away, talking.
On the following morning, some men came and took all the slaves to the baths and stripped them. They washed them all thoroughly and took their clothes away. What would happen now? That question soon had an answer.
First, the men who had washed them took them to a building in the market. The man who looked them over the previous day came in. He ordered that the men take the girls out, with the exception of Avelina. Avelina cried out to Odila and tried to run to her but one of the slaves who had bathed them, grabbed hold of her as she ran past. The Romans had taken seven girls from the village, and shortly afterwards, a slave brought two of the less pretty ones back into the room. Odila was not one of them.
Adelbehrt heard them saying the others had been bought by a brothel. He did not know what a brothel was, and the others deflected his questions when he asked. He decided, when he saw the looks on the faces of the remaining two girls, that it could not be a good place. Something else to hate the Romans for. He mentally added ‘Taking Odila to a brothel’ to his list of reasons to hate them.
The man, who seemed in charge, hung a board around the neck of each slave. Adelbehrt later learned it gave some information about the slave, including his likelihood of running away or committing suicide as well as his name and where he came from.
They took the slaves out one at a time. He could hear noises of people calling out something outside, but could not understand the words. When a man brought the slaves back in he took them to a different part of the room where another man sat at a table. People came into the room, handed over money to the man at the table, and then left with their purchase.
Eventually their turn arrived. The slave merchant had left them until the last, and as they were led outside, Adelberht realised they were being sold as a single lot. He felt he could breathe once more. He could keep his promise to his mother to look after his sister.
The warm air met them and he felt the sun on his naked skin. Adelbehrt became embarrassed to be nude in front of the crowd filling the market place. He looked round and wondered at the large numbers of people still left, since all the slaves had been sold except the two of them.
The auctioneer picked Avelina up and another man did the same with Adelbehrt and held them so everyone could see the two children. The auctioneer spoke to the crowd and pointed at the children’s blonde hair.
A few aahs came from the crowd, then people began to call things out. Adelbehrt thought the people were making bids for them.
They were a popular lot, if the number of bidders was anything to go by, but soon almost everyone dropped out leaving just two men in the bidding. Eventually one of them held up his hand and turned away, thus indicating he had dropped out of the bidding. The man who had brought them out led them back into the room and gave them tunics to put on.
Their purchaser walked over to the man at the table and handed over a purse of money, which the cashier counted carefully, nodded and handed a paper to their new owner who then came over to them, took each by a hand and led them out.
Adelbehrt looked at this man. He was a tall, clean-shaven man with an aquiline nose and dark hair and eyes. He did not look unkind, but still the sort of man you would not want to annoy. He spoke to the children in a light tenor voice, but they did not understand him, so he called to a man standing near the door.
‘This man says he’s your master now and wants to know how old you are,’ the man interpreted.
‘I have seven summers and my sister four,’ answered Adelbehrt, quietly, looking down at his feet.
The interpreter spoke to their new master in Latin and then interpreted the next few sentences.
‘He says you are to be gifts for his wife and daughter. He’s on his way back to Britannia and you’re going to accompany him there. You’re to call him ‘Dominus’. That means ‘Master’, or ‘Sir’. You now have your first word of Latin. You’ll soon learn to speak it though, so don’t worry.’
‘I’m called Adelbehrt, and my sister is Avelina.’ Adelbehrt told him, not knowing his name had been on the scroll round his neck.
‘Well. Adelberht, you’ll be all right just as long as you do as you’re told, and show proper deference to your master and mistress. Good luck.’
And with that, he left them.
‘What’s going to happen now?’ whispered Avelina.
‘We’re going to Britannia. We’re presents for his wife and daughter, that man said. We must call the man who has bought us ‘Dominus’ and do as he says.’
Avelina began to cry. ’You said we’d go back to Mamma. You said you’d escape and take us back.’
‘We will still escape,’ he told her. ‘Somehow we’ll get away, but I can’t promise you it will be soon.’

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