Tuesday, 28 June 2016

An Interview with Davrael, The Wolf Pack

I have managed to get Davrael to agree to do an interview. This
was a difficult task as he is a very private person, but eventually
my power of persuasion triumphed. I was a bit afraid when I
met him. He is an imposing man, and the hawk tattoo on his
face, wings over his eyebrows, head and beak down his nose
and talons on his cheeks was very intimidating. Here is what
he said:

Me: Good afternoon, Davrael. Thank you for agreeing to this
interview. I know you are not very keen on publicity.

Davrael: No. I not speak your language too good. It is
difficult for me.

Me: I will try to make it as easy as I can for you. Please tell
me something of the life of the Horselords.

Davrael: We, as you know, live for horses. Our horses are
best on whole of Vimar. We respect them not just use them.

Me: What do you mean by that?

Davrael: We never put them to do things unnatural. We do
not enslave them with saddles or bits to make it easier for us.
We never beat them, but talk to them and are gentle.

Me: But don't you use them for food?

Davrael: Yes, but we apologise to horse. He allow us to eat him. We thank Grillon for horse too and we grieve for him when he die. If we not eat horse sometimes, we not survive. If we lost in dry places, horse allow us to drink his blood so we do not thirst. Mares allow us to drink milk too even though it is for foals.

Me: How many horses do your tribe own?

Davrael: We not own horses. They are own masters. We follow when they move to different grazing grounds.

Me: But the horses that you ride;  surely you can't say they are their own masters?

Davrael: Yes. They allow us to ride and use them, but they not belong to us. To answer your first question, there are 300 horses that allow my tribe to be with them.

Me: That is a lot of horses.

Davrael: Yes. Swooping Hawk tribe very rich. Look after horses well so horses breed well.

Me: Tell me about your family then.

Davrael: I my father's heir. I second son, but it not auto...automatic...is that the word? for eldest to inherit. My father think that I would be better to see after horses than my brother. I have 2 sisters too. They younger than me. Probably married by now. I not hear since I leave The Plains.

Me: Your father is chief of the Swooping Hawks I understand.

Davrael: Yes. He great chief. We always win fights with other tribes. He good at tactics.

Me: Why do you war with other tribes?

Davrael: Over land--territory, over stealing horses, over stealing women; things like that.

Me: Would you have become chief after your father if you had not left?

Davrael: Perhaps, perhaps not. It depend on other men in tribe. Elders. They vote, but usually it is heir of last chief. Only if they think he not fit will they vote for another. Usually no one challenges. Sometimes, if elders not agree, contestants must fight and winner is chief.

Me: Is it not a hard life, wandering The Plains.

Davrael smiled: Before I came to Grosmer. I not think so. I used to it, and love the horses. Now I get soft with easy living. No need to look for place to camp near water for animals and people, soft beds, not hard mats on floor, stone walls that keep out cold and heat, not hide tents that are cold in winter and hot in summer.

Me: But when you were on your quests with Carthinal and the others. That must have been a bit like your life on The Plains.

Davrael: Yes, but that before we settle to soft life. We only just come over the Barrier--The Western Mountains, you call them.

Me: We?

Davrael: Me and Kimi. We run away because our parents not wish us to marry.

Me: Why was  that?

Davrael: I am son of Chief of Swooping Hawks. Kimi is daughter of a nobody. She also is daughter of settlers. Nomads think settlers no good. Settlers think nomads no good. So we run away.

Me: Is that why you ended up in Grosmer?

Davrael: Yes. We first come to big city, Eribore. I not seen anything as big. Walls all round of stone. We think we not stay there. Too near home, so we go to Hambara. It even bigger city. Kimi find inn and there we meet Carthinal, Basalt, Fero and Asphodel. They kind to us and take us on adventure. Other folk kind too. Duke Rollo give us work after we return. We  think of Grosmer as our land now.

Me: You would not go back to The Plains?

Davrael: No. We have no home there now. Our families have disowned us. Our home and country is Grosmer.

Me: Thank you very much for your time.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Please help me with a title for my latest book

I am searching for a title for my latest book. I have a working title of 'The Elements', but that doesn't even grab me, let alone potential buyers.
I'm posting a very brief synopsis below, and if you can come up with an idea I would be most grateful. I'll then put the ideas I recieve to a vote in order to find a title that grabs readers attention.
Here's the synopsis.

Torren, the Crown Prince of Ponderia has been behaving strangely. His sister and Pettic, his best friend  discover that he has been kidnapped and a doppleganger put in his place.

Pettic, has to go to the four elemental worlds, Terra, Aeris, Aqua and Ignis, in order to find enchanted gems to enter the mini-plane where the prince is imprisoned and to defeat his captor. On each world he has a quest to perform to aid the people of that world before he can find the gem.

Pettic and Lucenra, the princess, then have to find the kidnapper and defeat him.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

22 reasons to vote Remain

I am concerned at the possibility that the UK will vote to leave the EU on Thursday. While I acknowledge that there are things wrong with it, I really don't think that in the world today it is sensible to decide to 'go it alone.'
 I believe this for the following reasons.

 The EU is the biggest free-trade group in the world. We are a very small country that thinks it's a big one. Should we turn our backs on this huge market? Yes, we will still be able to trade with them, but it will be on their terms. We won't have any say in things. We will still have to meet their requirements without any input into what those requirements are. Not a sensible thing, really when we can stay in and argue our case.

 There have been luxury houses built in London. They were mainly being bought by the rich Chinese, I understand, but this market has slowed considerably since the referendum has been mooted. The rich foreigners are hanging back to see what happens. They see the UK as a way into the European market, that I have already said is a huge free trade area. If we pull out of the EU, they'll pull out of the UK. Big international companies already hear will most probably pull out. I heard of one company, I forget which, that is already looking at the possibility of moving to France.

 Investment will go down. People and companies won't want to invest in the UK without the access to the European market, so jobs will be at risk.

 The NHS is a big argument. The 'leave' people say we can invest the money we give to the EU into the NHS. Actually, I don't believe that will happen. Some maybe, but it will be a drop in the ocean. 

 We don't have enough nurses, midwives and doctors now. Many come from overseas. People complain about that, but the NHS would collapse without them. It's all very well saying 'Train more', but if people don't want to go into those professions, then we can't make them. I personally believe that part of the reason is the litigation culture that is building up in this country.

 Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England is someone who should know what he's talking about. He says that leaving is the biggest domestic risk to financial stability. When someone, even someone of his stature says something like this, the 'Leave' people just say. 'Oh no it won't,' but have nothing to say to back up their argument.

 The TUC General Secretary says leaving would have 'massive implications for jobs, rights and the very fabric of the UK. If you take that floor away, workers will be worse off.' I'm sure she will have done her research before making that statement.

 One of the best brains in the country, Stephen Hawking, says that leaving the EU would be a disaster for Science.

 In the EU we have co-operation between many police forces and so criminals can be tracked over borders. Do we want to lose our criminals if they cross the channel, or do we want them brought to justice?

 If the vote is 'Leave', then the Scots will hold another independence referendum. I believe that this time they would vote for independence because the majority of Scots want to remain in the EU. The UK would then be split up. Would this then have a snowball effect and cause Wales and Northern Ireland to break away too? I don't know, but it's possible.

 The biggest argument of the 'Leave' campaigners is immigration. 'Take back our borders' they cry. Now, I think that we do have to limit immigration. The number of people in this country is getting too great, but I don't think that leaving the EU would make much difference. 

 I was born in England. My ancestors as far as I can trace were all born in England or Wales. Yet when I return from a foreign holiday I have to show my passport to re-enter my own country. This summer I crossed eight borders and the only time I had to show my passport was to return to the UK. We are not part of the Schengen agreement about free movement. Leaving the EU won't stop people from trying to board lorries and get here illegally, nor will it stop people from trying to come legally. Anyway, we only seem to be concerned about those people from Eastern Europe, yet we employ them to do work in our homes because 'they are cheaper and work harder.' How's that for hypocrisy?

 They (the immigrants) only come here for benefits people say. Not true. Most come here to work or study. (Did you know that anyone who stays here for more than a year is counted as an immigrant, even if they are only here for a few years to study?) Most of these people are young and so don't use much of our NHS provision. A UK national is also more likely to apply for, and get, benefits than those who come in. Immigrants now have to work for 4 years, and pay into the system, tax and National Insurance, before they can claim any benefits, including child benefit. Child benefit for children living abroad has been stopped.

 0.1% of the EU migrants are claiming benefits or tax credits, while 22% of the working-age population is claiming, so they are a very small number. (calculated from Nomis, official labour market statistics.'

 Over 3 million UK jobs are linked to trade with the EU. That's one in every 10 jobs. (The Treasury)

 If we leave the EU, UK households would be £4,300 a year worse off. (The Treasury)

 We save over £350 a year on lower prices in UK shops by being in the EU. (Centre for Economic Performance)

 Workers' Rights are protected by EU law, including maximum working hours, parental leave and rights for part-time workers.

 This is my personal opinion. I haven't got any statistics for it. I think, though, that food prices will rise if we leave. This is because the EU gives our farmers a subsidy of £2.4 billion. There is still a commonly held belief that farmers are all wealthy. Now I wouldn't deny there are wealthy farmers. Of course there are, just as there are wealthy people in other walks of life, but the average farmer is struggling to remain in business even with the subsidy. (Dairy farmers barely get the cost of production, and a few years ago they were making a loss.) If farmers are forced out of business, then more of our food will have to come from abroad, thus putting up prices, and incidentally, due to increased mileage it has to travel, pollution,

 What about tourism? If we come out of the EU, there is a high likelihood that holidays abroad will be dearer. This is because of a forecast fall in the pound of 12%. This will increase flight costs as well as the cost of accommodation.

 We will lose the EHIC card. This card ensures that travellers with it can access health care abroad. If it goes, people will have to take out their own insurance and if they are ill, pay up front and then claim the money back.

 The British economy stands to lose £4.1billion per year from loss of tourism from the EU. That's a lot of money.

I advise people to think very carefully before voting. If we vote 'out' it will be final. The EU won't want to have us back. Voting 'out is a jump in the da

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Jovinda and Noli, Part 6 Tragedy

Two years passed quickly, and Carthinal was toddling about. Noli came in from the embassy where he was still working. It was Carthinal's second birthday and he had brought a huge toy dog for the little boy.

'Dada,' Carthinal said as he ran towards his father.

Noli gave him the dog and he struggled with it, dragging it towards the sitting room where he had been spending some time with Jovinda. His mother laughed at his difficulty, then went to help him bring it in.

'Say thank you to Daddy, Carthinal,' Jovinda said.

'Fan choo,' Carthinal said, looking at his father. 'Fan choo. Doggy.'

Jovinda kissed her husband then said, 'I'm a bit worried about Carthinal, Noli. Most of my friends children his age seem to be much more advanced. Even some of those much younger are more advanced than he is. I'm afraid there's something wrong. Perhaps he's not very bright.'

Noli laughed. 'There's nothing wrong with our son, Jo. Half of his blood is elf. Elven children develop more slowly than human ones. In fact, he's in advance of most elven children of his age.' He paused for thought for a minute before continuing. 'I don't know how quickly or slowly this mixture of elf and human should develop, but probably about half way between an elf child and a human one, I would say. It'll be interesting to find out. In the meantime, stop worrying.'

Jovinda smiled up at her husband and picked up her son, dog and all. She kissed him as he struggled to get down again.

'Down,' he insisted. He clenched his small fist and tried to punch her. 'Down' he repeated.

Noli took his hand. 'You must not punch your mother, Carthinal. That's very naughty.'

'Want down,' he repeated.

Jovinda put him down and sighed.

'That's another thing. He seems to be developing a temper. That must be nipped in the bud.'

'No one said bringing up a child is easy, love. In fact. it's probably the hardest thing in the world. You're doing a great job.'

The couple wished for another child, but the years passed and there was no sign. Noli said it was probably due to the infertility of elves and that perhaps it would happen in due course. Jovinda went to the temple of Bramara and prayed, but it was to no avail.

When Carthinal was six, he was in the garden, playing on a swing that Kendo had fixed to the branch of a tree in the garden. He heard his nurse calling for him, but took no notice. It was nice in the garden. The sun was shining and he liked the swing.

Shortly, Jovinda came out and saw him.

'Oh, there you are. Didn't you hear nurse calling for you?'

'Yes, but I don't want to go in. It's nice out here.'

'You must come in now, Carthinal. It's time for your tea and then it's bathtime and bedtime.'

The little boy's face clouded over and he fixed his lips into a straight line.


'Oh, don't be naughty, Carthinal. Be a good boy and come for your tea.'

'No.' His eyes began to look, not like the blue summer skies, but dark stormy seas. Jovinda noticed the change ans she went and picked him off the swing and carried him, squirming and crying into the house where she handded him over to Blendin who took him away for his tea.

Jovinda went into the sitting room and smiled to herself. She had become used to these infrequent outbursts of temper and knew that in a few minutes her son would be his normal sunny self again. His temper never lasted long.

Noli arrived soon after this and sank down in one of the chairs.

'There's a problem in Rindisallaron,' he told his wife. The elflord has died and there's a problem with the succession.'

'I thought that the elflord was succeeded by the eldest male child of his nearest female relative.'

'Yes, That's true, but in this case there are identical twins.'

'So! The elder twin inherits, doesn't he?'

'Ah, therein lies the problem. You see, when the twins were born, their mother was seriously ill after the birth and in the rush to treat her the twins weren't labelled. Now both twins are claiming to be the first-born.'

'I see that would be a problem. What's going to happen?'

'The father told the midwife that the first child was to be called Frissillimidor and the second Grimmshollin. She claimed she knew in which crib she'd put each baby and so they were named.' He stood and walked round the room before continuing.

'I believe the midwife would have been correct and that Frissillimidor is the elder, but factions have grown up, as you would expect. Now war has broken out.'

'That doesn't affect us herein Bluehaven though,' Jovinda said 'We aren't involved in Elven politics.'
Noni came and sat beside his wife and took her hand.

'You aren't involved. Bluehaven isn't involved, but I'm an elf, and so I am involved, like it or not. Father is packing at this minute to go to help the rightful heir.'

Jovinda turned and looked at her husband, understanding beginning to dawn on her face.
'So you plan to go and fight too.'

Noli nodded.

'You'd leave your wife and child for this war?' Jovinda was getting angry rather than sad at the thought of Noli going away. 'You care more for this Frissi-whatsit than Carthinal and me?'
Noli stood.

 Just at that moment, Carthinal came to the door, but neither of them saw him. He had come to apologise for his outburst earlier. He heard his parents arguing. He had never seen that before and it frightened him. Nevertheless, he stood just behind the door and listened to an argument he could not understand. Carthinal fled back up to the nursery, his apology forgotten.

No matter what argument she put forward, Noni was adamant he must go to fight for the rightful heir. The couple went to bed that evening barely speaking and that continued until three days later when Noli had packed ready to leave for the Elven lands.

Jovinda said goodbye to Noli with a heavy heart. They had made up their quarrel and she stood on the doorstep of their house with Carthinal as she waved him off. She blinked back her tears as she stood waving until he could no longer be seen.

'How long will Daddy be away?' Carthinal asked.

'I don't know, dear. He'll come and see us when he gets leave.'

Two years passed. Noli came home as often as he could, but he needed a long leave to make the journey to Bluehaven from Rindissillaron and back and he had little time when he was there. Jovinda had to rely on his letters to tell her of the progress of the war.

In one letter, Noli wrote of how the war was nearly won. Grimmshollin had retreated to a very small area and was barely holding it. It would be only a few days before the war was over.

Jovinda was delighted at this news and eagerly looked forward to welcoming Noli home. Every day she expected a letter, or even Noli himself to arrive. The letter came in just over a sixday saying that there was one more battle to end the war and then just a few things to sort out before Noli came home. She was ecstatic and began to prepare a welcome home party.

A couple of sixdays later, there was a knock on the door. Their butler answered and showed an officer into the drawing room where Jovinda sat reading to Carthinal. She rose as the officer entered.
He saluted and introduced himself as Roshinderal, who was Noli's friend.

'Yes, he's spoken of you often in his letters,' Jovinda told him. 'Do you know when he'll be home? I'm planning a welcome home party for him, you see.'

The young captain cleared his throat and looked embarrassed.

'Perhaps you'd better send your son out of the room, Madam,' he said.

Jovinda's heart began to beat quickly as she told Carthinal to go to the nursery. At first she though he would refuse as she saw tell-tale signs come over his face, but the boy thought better of it and left.'

'Please, sit down,' said Roshinderal, as though it were his house and she were the visitor.

Jovinda sat down as requested, heart sinking. Then Roshinderal cleared his throat again and began to speak.

'It was the last battle, and nearly the end of that too. The enemy was retreating. Noli laughed and said he always knew we'd win as we were in the right. Just then, one of the enemy archers turned and drew his bow. The arrow took Noli.'

Jovinda's hand went to her mouth.

'How is he? Can I go to see him? Is he badly injured?'

Roshinderal took Jovinda's hand in his.

'I'm sorry to be the bearer of this news, but I'm afraid Noli died of his injuries soon afterwards. The arrow ruptured an artery, you see. He knew he was dying and asked me to come and tell you and to say he loves you more than he could ever express. He said to take care of Carthinal. He was very proud of you both.'

Jovinda looked at Roshinderal with a blank look in her eyes. All the life had gone out of them. Then she screamed.

'No! No! No! No! It's not true. You've all made a mistake. He's not dead. He can't be. Go back and check. I'd know if he was dead. I know I would.' She shook her head in disbelief, refusing to accept what Roshinderal had told her.

Her screams brought the butler, who was passing the door.

'Madam,' he said, 'What's the matter? Is it this man? Do you want me to escort him off the premises?'

Roshinderal turned and said, 'I've just brought her bad news. Her husband was killed in the last battle of the war. Is there anyone who I can get to be with her?'

Between them, they decided that Jovinda's parents would be the best people to get and so Roshinderal set off to their house to get them.

As soon as they arrived, they took Jovinda and Carthinal, along with Blendin, his nanny, back to their house. Ellire took Jovinda and put her to bed in her old room with a soothing drink and soon she was asleep.

Jovinda remained in her room for the next few days. She refused to answer the door, so Ellire left a tray outside. Some days a little of it disappeared, but others Jovinda did not touch it.

Ellire tried talking to her daughter through the door, but got no response. She tried to get her to come out to see Carthinal who was wondering what was going on. The six-year-old understood that his father had been killed in the war and had been inconsolable for a few days, but then, in the way of children, he seemed to bounce back somewhat. He could not, however, understand why his mother was ignoring him. Ellire tried to tell Jovinda this, but either the young woman did not hear or she was still too much enveloped in grief that she did not care.

Three days passed and Jovinda had not responded to anything. The trays of food and drink had been left untouched and no sounds came from her room. No sobs, no crying, no prayers, nothing.

Kendo decided that he would go in. After all, no one could go without food and drink indefinitely, especially drink, and Jovinda had not drunk anything in three days. He knocked on the door. No sound from inside. He tried the latch, but the door was locked.

Frowning, he called again, and when he still received no answer he said, 'Jo, if you don't answer me I'm going to break the door.'

Still nothing. Kendo put his shoulder to the door and pushed. There was a cracking noise as the hinges gave way and he fell into the room.

What he saw there broke his heart. There was his daughter, swinging from the beams overhead, a belt around her neck. He quickly cut her down, but it was to no avail. She had been dead for quite some time. A couple of days probably.

He left the room and told Ellire not to go in and to keep Carthinal away. The boy had taken to sitting outside his mother's room talking to her through the door, even though there was no response. He went out into the garden and sat under a tree thinking. Was there something he should have done? He ought to have broken the door down sooner. They should have insisted Jovinda come out and eat her meals with them. She was obviously brooding in there alone. All these thoughts went through his head until he felt he was going to go mad.

The funeral was held in the temple of Kalhera a few days later. The family was surprised at how many people turned up. Jovinda and Noni were popular figures in Bluehaven. Kendo knew he would never get over his guilt about his daughter's death, but he buried it deep.

He said to his wife after the funeral, when everyone had left and Ellire was weeping softly to herself.
'There's Carthinal to consider, Ellire. He'll need a lot of support and help. We need to be his anchor now that Jo's gone.'

Ellire blew her nose. 'Yes, of course. We'll need to bring him up. We should sell Jo and Noni's house and put the money in trust for him. He'll live here now with us.'

'Should we tell him how his mother died, do you think?'

'No. At least not for a long while. The poor child's had enough to cope with without knowing his mother killed herself.'

Thus Carthinal lived with his grandparents and they brought him up. No one ever told him how his mother died.

Thursday, 9 June 2016


The relaunched version of The Wolf Pack is on offer on Amazon from tomorrow, 10th June until 17th June for the ridiculous price of $0.99 or £0.99.

You can get your copy from www.amazon.com/ or www.amazon.co.uk/

Don't miss this offer, and tell all your friends about it too.

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.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

The Wolf Pack. Interlude

I am a little late with this post. My apologies if you've been waiting for it. I've just come back from holiday and there was much to do, of course.
Yssa woke still feeling tired. She must try to relax a bit more. She had been working far too hard on those books Carthinal and Basalt had found. They were very interesting though. She found it hard to leave each evening. Yesterday, Rollo had insisted she eat dinner with him. “For old time’s sake.” he had said. She had agreed to do so. She and Rollo had been lovers once. He had been lonely after the death of his wife. She knew Randa did not remember her, the child had only been three or four years old at the time she and Rollo had been seeing each other, and she had not seen that much of her as the child spent a lot of the time in her nursery.

In the early days after his beloved wife’s death, Rollo had not wanted to look at the child he blamed for this event. He had provided her with all the creature comforts she needed with the best nurses that money could buy, but he rarely went near the nursery to see his daughter. It had been Yssa who had told him that a child needed love as well as food, shelter and warmth. She persuaded Rollo to visit his daughter more often. Fairly soon, Rollo discovered his love for the child, and, to assuage his guilt at neglecting her in her earliest years, he lavished her with not only love, but attention and showered her with gifts, giving in to her every whim. Thus Randa had grown into a beautiful, but spoiled child who had become a beautiful, but wilful and snobbish young lady.

The door opened and admitted Emmienne. She and Tomac had arrived about three sixdays ago from Bluehaven. They were Mabryl’s other apprentices that she had promised Carthinal she would take under her wing. They were proving to be very good. The girl, Emmienne, had taken to bringing her tea each morning along with hot water for her to wash, and Tomac was excellent at lighting fires. She could hear him busying himself doing that job at the moment. She smiled at Emmienne.

‘Thank you.’ she said. ‘Put the tea there. I’ll be up in a minute.’

The girl did as Yssa bade her and then left. She was a plain girl, Yssa thought—about  seventeen, with a slender figure and chestnut hair. Tomac was younger. He was fourteen, and had a shock of jet-black hair, which he found difficult to keep tidy. He tried to keep it tied back, but it kept escaping its confinement. She smiled. She liked her new apprentices very much, and if she were honest, she liked the attention they gave her too.

After drinking her tea, Yssa rose. As she did so, a feeling of nausea and giddiness overtook her. It had happened once or twice recently. She hoped it was not some illness or other. She did not want to lose time on her translations of the books. She dressed and the moment passed.

Later in the day as she gave some instructions to her apprentices. She wanted them to try to learn a simple spell when Emmienne asked about Carthinal.

‘When did he leave, Yssa?’ she asked.

Yssa looked at her. She wondered if the girl had a crush on the half-elf. She would not blame her if she had. She herself had fallen under his spell and she hardly an impressionable young girl.

‘He and his companions left on the twenty second of Khaldar. That will be five and a half sixdays.’

Something began to dawn on her when she spoke of that time. In her mind she did some quick calculations. She realised that she had not had her monthly bleeding since before that date. She had been working so hard on the books that she had not realised. What with the translations and the new apprentices to settle in she had been so busy. Now she realised what her nausea and giddiness meant. She was pregnant. She had little doubt. She was always regular as clockwork, and now, she calculated she had misssed two bleedings. She paled. What should she do?

Yssa finished her lesson with the two apprentices and then said, ‘You two have worked hard since you came to me. You deserve a break. Take this and go and have a good time in Hambara.’

She threw a bag of coins towards them. Tomac caught it deftly, and thanking her profusely, the pair rushed from the room, as anxious to be gone as Yssa was for them to leave.

Once alone, she contemplated her position. She did not want a child. She had never felt maternal in any way, but having an abortion seemed quite out of the question. Elves have a reverence for all life, even that of the unborn and Yssa was no exception in this respect. She was going to have a child, and she could not turn back. How had she been so careless? Her work, even before the finding of the hidden books had absorbed her so much that she had forgotten to take the herbs to prevent pregnancy.

As she thought about it she thought she should go away, back to Quantissarillishon, the elven capital, and to find refuge with her parents. Her mother would be scandalised at first, of course, but she would soon come round when she thought of a grandchild. She could leave the child there, to be cared for by her parents, and Carthinal need never know. She did not want him to feel he had any obligation to her or the child. The mistake had been hers and hers alone.

As the day wore on, she began to see that it was not that simple. She could not just go running off home like a little girl with a grazed knee. She had obligations here. She had taken on two apprentices, and she did not want to let them down after they had lost Mabryl in such tragic circumstances. She considered the translation. No one could do it like she could, and the importance to magic could not be exaggerated. No, she must stay here. She still need not tell Carthinal though. He would probably be back before her pregnancy became obvious, and then he would go back to Bluehaven where he probably had family and friends. She suddenly realised how little she knew about this charismatic half-elf who had captured her heart in spite of herself; she, who thought herself so worldly wise.

During the next few days, she seemed distracted. Rollo noticed and she confessed her pregnancy to him.

Then she asked him, ‘Rollo, if someone were going to have your child and did not tell you, how would you feel if you later found out?’

‘You are considering not telling the father I take it?’ the Duke replied.

Yssa nodded.

‘I won’t ask who it is,’ he continued, ‘but if it were me, and I found out later, I would be very hurt and maybe angry too.’

‘Yes, I thought you’d say that,’ sighed Yssa. He had not solved her problem and she continued to think hard.

I hope you enjoyed this extract. Watch out for the next installment of Jovinda and Noni.