Under Pressure

Under Pressure

What does it mean to be a writer? How do you see yourself? How do family and friends see you? How does everyone else see you? What do you do when the motivation to write isn’t there? Or when your creative energy produces less than a page of words?

I have good days and bad days. Some days I’ll get on a roll and hammer out page after page. All my energy goes into each word and I’m flying high. Other days, I have a goal to write, turn on the laptop, get settled in, look at the screen, then shut it down. Nope, just not happening. Then there are days like today. I do a little work, get some files organised for a project. It isn’t much, but it’s something, and I’m ok with that. Then someone comes along and accuses me of doing nothing. When I show my work, little as it is, and try to explain myself— “Excuses!” Yep! That’s all it is! Just excuses.

I’m sure most of the writers on here will get it, and probably even have methods for dealing with the lags in their creative process. But for me, it’s no good if I try to force it. I have editing to do, and yeah, I can do that. But it’s not like the thrill of creating, and my life is pretty overloaded right now, so I’m not feeling it.

Anyway, judging me or putting pressure on me is not the way to motivate me. Get me engaged and excited about something. Get me talking and sharing. Show some enthusiasm and so will I. That’s how to motivate me.


Manuscript Review

Manuscript Review


And the process continues…

My apologies for my absence of late. I really should make more time for blogging and keeping up with the bloggers I follow, but finding the time has proved exceedingly difficult. It’s a wonder if I can even find time to read through my manuscript, which needs to be done before sending it out to editors, publishers, etc.


So, Samhain is coming up, and we are planning a little celebration which is sure to be fun. This is really the perfect time of year for me to be active in creative pursuits, so I  really should channel some of that energy into my work. I’m currently nearly halfway through my review on chapter 5 of my manuscript. The work is going much faster on this chapter, as there aren’t as many errors and corruptions as in previous chapters, for some reason.

My original goal was to tackle two chapters a day, with the hope of being finished in under two weeks time, but I have long since passed my self-inflicted deadline.


Why, oh why, must writing be such a tedious endeavor? I love dreaming up stories, and the satisfaction I get from actually writing down those stories is so very rewarding, but actually sitting down and getting started and sticking to the task…. Is there an award for procrastination, because I am surely the queen! Time management really isn’t my thing.

So, before I bore you all with further ramblings, I leave you with some would-be helpful advice, if only we writers would heed it…




5 Things Not to Do at Your Book Reading

Before you plan your next book blowing— oh, pardon me, I meant book reading— here are some tips to improve your performance. Unfortunately, there has been no Hans Effect to this blog post, so don’t expect to find tips indicating proper use of bananas. That being said, I hope you find the following blog post useful. See the link below.


Success! I Have A Manuscript!

Much thanks to Hyperion (aka Dan) for all your help, especially for preparing my manuscript for me. I couldn’t have done it without you!

Twilight of Yggdrasil, the Dark Realm is very near to becoming a real book! This is book 1 of a trilogy, for those who are new to my blog.

Last step before beginning the enquiry process: a final review to make sure all recent edits and revisions are accurate, etc, and then I’m finished.

I’ve made myself a latte, the laptop is on, and I’m ready to get started!

Wish me luck, folks! The journey to publication is about to begin!

And to all of you who’ve stuck around since almost the very beginning, a big thank you for all your support and encouragement!

Keepers of the Stones, Part 4

Keepers of the Stones, Part 4

Continuing the tale of Olwen, after the tragic murder of both her parents and her narrow escape, she is taken in by the gnomes who discovered her after her narrow escape into the forest. The tribe’s most renowned Seer and bard will be responsible for her upbringing. To avoid having this story get too long, I’ve decided to skip ahead a little. Read on to find out what happens next.


Olwen was just a girl when her parents were brutally murdered by dwarves while traveling through the mountains. If it hadn’t been for the kindness of strangers, she would have been lost. As the years passed by, the gnomes who had welcomed her into their midst became like family to her. She still lived with the Seer, Terrwyn, and had taken to calling him Grandfather. He taught her well, and as a result, she was becoming an adept healer, just like her mother. But what she most enjoyed was the magical connection she had to nature. When Olwen wished it, clouds would roll in, bringing rain. She could touch a plant and watch it grow, cause flowers to bloom with the warmth of her breath. Animals were drawn to her, and it was not uncommon for a deer or a wolf to approach her when she strolled through the woods and allow her to pet them.

Terrwyn was proud of her, as he so frequently reminder her. But he was growing old now, and was not as able as he had once been. It saddened Olwen to see how stooped and feeble had had become, and she did what she could for him, but even her healing powers could not stave off the effects of old age indefinitely.


      A day came, when Terrwyn called her to his side where he sat bundled in a thick shawl before the fire of his small house. Most of the gnomes lived in dwellings too small for Olwen to enter, save for Chief Cledwyn’s hall in the ancient willow and Terrwyn’s home, which, having foreseen her coming, had been modified in preparation for her. Still, she had to duck her head to pass through the low doorways.

It was nearly midwinter, with the longest night just days away. The sun set early this time of the year, and despite being only late afternoon, it was already dark. Olwen carried a wooden bowl of hot rabbit stew over to Terrwyn, and seated herself beside him on a cushion.

“You wish to speak with me, Grandfather?” she asked, handing him the bowl. He sniffed the steaming stew and smiled.

“Your rabbit stew is the best I’ve ever eaten, my dear,” he said, bringing a spoon full to his mouth.

Olwen waited patiently until he had swallowed his food.

Terrwyn cleared his throat, and turned his sharp, beady eyes on her. “I am old, Olwen,” he said seriously. “I will not live to see the spring.”

“Don’t say that!” Olwen cut in. “You have many years, yet.”

The old Seer shook his head. “You know as well as I that that isn’t true,” he replied. “I have lived a long and good life, and am ready leave this tired body. But your story is only just beginning, and there is much you must know.”

“Tell me, Grandfather,” Olwen urged, leaning forward to prop her elbows on the armrest of Terrwyn’s seat.

The old gnome sighed and tugged his shawl more snugly about his body. “Long ago, before you came to us,” he began, speaking slowly and choosing his words with care, “Chief Cledwyn had a vision. The old willow is the heart and soul of our people, and she speaks to us, offering her wisdom to those who seek, and she told him that an elven girl, bearing the gem of the heavens about her neck, would come to us, and that her life would be in danger. I had the same vision; as did the other elders. There could be no doubt that we were meant to help this girl, and so, when you entered the forest, our Chief sensed your presence.”

Olwen smiled. “But I know all this, Grandfather,” she said affectionately.

Terrwyn shook his head. “You don’t know everything,” he stated. “That is no ordinary jewel you wear,” he added, prodding the bright, blue sapphire that hung from a silver chain about Olwen’s neck. She gave him a quizzical look. “You are aware of it’s magical powers, but you don’t know why or where it came from. The Sky Jewel gets its name because it fell from the heavens. Some believe it was a star which was plucked from the sky by the Gods and given to the elves. Long ago, there were several such stones, of different colours, and each had unique magical properties, but most were destroyed by those who were jealous of the elves, who alone could wield their powers.”

Olwen was mesmerized. “Tell me more!” she pleaded.

Terrwyn chuckled. “There are now only two stones left,” he said. “Yours and one other.”

“Who has the stone?” she asked.

“A dark elven chief,” answered the Seer in a foreboding tone. “His is called the Blood Stone, for it is red as blood and makes its bearer invincible in battle. Arawn is his name, and he rules the underworld.”

Olwen gasped. “I have heard his name before!” she exclaimed.

“I am not surprised,” replied Terrwyn. “Arawn has a terrible reputation for being a cruel and bloodthirsty warlord, but there is more that you must know. For reasons unknown to me, your parents betrothed you to Arawn when you were a little girl, and it has come to the Chief’s attention that Arawn has learned of your parent’s fate and has been seeking you all these long years.”

Olwen frowned. “Surely, there must be some mistake,” she said. “I cannot believe my parents would not have done such a thing! How did you come by this information?”

“The same way we knew of your coming,” he answered. “It was revealed to me in a vision.”

There was a flicker of fear on Olwen’s face. “You will not tell him that I am here? Please, I am safe here. You must let me stay!” she cried.

“A promise is a promise,” he replied, shaking his head. “Chief Cledwyn intends to send word to Arawn after my passing.”

“No! He mustn’t!” exclaimed Olwen.

Terrwyn held up a weathered hand to silence her. “But he will not force you to marry against your will,” he assured her. “If Arawn wishes to take you as his wife, he must earn your favour. That is Chief Cledwyn’s decree.”

Relief mingled with dread in Olwen’s eyes. She was afraid. What if Arawn would disregard Chief Cledwyn’s decision and force her into marriage anyway? Throughout the course of the next days, she wondered if it might be better to run away.

At last, she decided to visit her old friend, Deri.


I hope you enjoyed this latest installment of Keepers of the Stones. Stay tuned for the next part, coming soon! Please, leave a comment, and feel free to share a link on your own blogs if you enjoy reading my writing.

The First Step, A short Story

The First Step, A short Story

There has been a lot on my mind lately, and so I thought I might try to channel that into a short story. It is not my usual style or genre, and I definitely will not pursue it in any serious way, but a fictional story inspired by my own personal experiences would be a good way to get some things off my chest without getting too personal on a public space.

      Abigail stood before the easel and surveyed her work. She had been painting most of the afternoon and was nearly finished. Just a few finishing touches, she thought, as she raised the paint brush to the canvas.

The living room door opened, and the padding of little feet across the wood floor indicated that Abigail’s two-year old daughter had woken up from her nap. Smiling, Abigail turned and opened her arms. Greta, still groggy from sleep, let her mother scoop her up into her arms.

“Hello, sleepy-head,” Abigail cooed softly. “Are you hungry?”

The little girl nodded.

“Well, dinner is in the oven,” Abigail told Greta. “Would you like to play with your dinosaurs while I get all this cleaned up?” she asked, indicating the array of brushes and paints on a table next to the easel.

“Okay, Mommy,” answered Greta, rubbing her eyes with tiny, balled fists.

Abigail set her down and Greta wandered off to find her toys. Abigail turned back to her painting, gave it one last scrutinizing look, then proceeded to pack all the tubes of paint back into their storage box, replaced the unused brushes in the jar she kept them in. Next, she began cleaning the oil paint out of the used brushes in a cup of turpentine. Halfway through, she looked up at the clock. It was four in the afternoon. Her husband would be home from work soon, the knowledge of which filled her with a sense of dread. It had been a good day, but she knew how quickly all that could change once Lothar was home.

Abigail wiped the brushes dry and replaced them in the jar with the rest, then scooped up all her painting supplies and returned them to the cabinet where she kept all her other art supplies. Then she moved the easel out of the way, and went to check on Greta.

The little girl was playing quietly in her room, and looked up when Abigail entered.

“Look, Mommy!” Greta said, holding up one of her dinosaur figurines.

Abigail crossed the room and sat down on the rug beside Greta. “How nice,” she said. “And what kind of dinosaur is that?”

“A stegosaurus!” Greta exclaimed proudly.

“That’s right!”

Greta was fascinated with dinosaurs, and when they looked through her books, she always asked to know what each was called. Abigail was so impressed by how quickly Greta learned the names of the various dinosaurs. She was still speaking in sentences consisting of no more than a few words, but could easily pronounce the often complicated names of her favourite dinosaurs.

“I need to finish getting dinner ready before Daddy comes home,” Abigail said.

“Okay,” Greta replied.

Abigail stood up and left the room. She hadn’t been in the kitchen long before Greta joined her, carrying a puzzle.

“Here, why don’t you do your puzzle on the table,” Abigail said, guiding the child to the kitchen table. “Would you like something to drink?”

“Juice!” Greta squealed.

Abigail took a carton of apple juice from the refrigerator, poured a small amount into a bamboo cup, then topped it off with filtered water. She carried it over and set it on the table.

“What do you say?” she asked.

“Thank you!” answered Greta.

“You’re welcome,” Abigail replied, and dropped a kiss on Greta’s forehead.

She returned to the counter where she began preparing a salad. A few minutes later, she heard the front door open,and knew her husband was home.

“Hello!” Lothar called, closing the front door behind him.

“Hi! We’re in here!” Abigail answered.

A moment later Lothar stepped into the kitchen. He looked tired.

“Daddy!” cried Greta, happily, as she climbed down from her chair and ran to hug her father.

“Come here, you!” he said and swept her up into his arms.

“Can you play with me?” she asked.

“Maybe in a little while. I just came home and I’m tired,” Lothar said. Then he turned to Abigail. “What are you doing?” he asked, a note of annoyance in his tone.

“Making dinner,” Abigail stated, and reached for a red onion.

“Do I have time to shower before we eat?” Lothar asked.

“Yes, of course,” she said, pausing from peeling the onion to look up at her husband.

Without another word, he set Greta down and left the kitchen. The little girl trailed after him. A few minutes later, Abigail heard the shower running. She finished preparing the salad, then carried the bowl to the dining room and began setting the table. She was just carrying the lasagna to the dining room when Lothar entered and took his seat.

“I wanna sit on your lap,” said Greta, as she tugged at her father’s arm. He lifted her up onto his lap, but Abigail noticed the look of frustration on his face.

“Why did you make such a big meal?” he asked, his tone edged.

“What’s wrong with lasagna and salad for dinner?” she asked defensively.

“We shouldn’t eat so much heavy food this late,” Lothar replied.

“It’s only a little after five,” Abigail stated. “If you don’t like it than don’t eat it.”

In recent months, Lothar had taken to complaining about whatever she cooked, whereas in the past, he had always been pleased to eat whatever she served, and it was starting to wear on her nerves. She noticed, though, that despite his complaints, it didn’t prevent him from heaping his plate with a generous serving.

Once everyone had food on their plate, Abigail decided to breech the subject that had been on her mind all day.

“Lothar, she began. “A lady I know told me today that she had a small house that will be available to rent in a few months.”

“So,” Lothar said and took another bite of lasagna.

“Well, we’ve been saying we don’t like living in this apartment, since there isn’t a garden for Greta to play in, and the utilities are so high,” she explained. “The house I heard about is only a little more a month, and we would have a fenced in garden and there’s a wood stove, so we won’t have as much heating costs.”

“So, you want to move again,” Lothar accused. He sounded angry.

“All I’m saying is that we could think about it,” Abigail remarked.

“I know you,” he snapped. “And you’ve already made up your mind. Then I will get stuck doing all the work while you goof off.”

Abigail resented his accusation. “That’s not true,” she insisted.

“I don’t want to move again,” Lothar snapped.

“We’ve talked about this,” Abigail said. “We only took this apartment, because it was the best we could find at the time, but we never intended to stay here. Now we have a chance to move to a better home, and you won’t even consider it?”

“It’s always the same with you,” he said, ignoring Abigail. “You get an idea in your head, and I have to go along with it.”

“Can you please just think about it?” she pleaded.

“So you can sit on your ass while I do all the work?” he replied.

Abigail threw up her hands in frustration, but didn’t say anything more on the subject.

They finished their meal without speaking to one another. When they were finished, Abigail got up and told Greta it was bath time.

“What about the dishes?” Lothar demanded to know.

“I’ll clean up after I get Greta in the bath,” she replied, and took her daughter’s hand to lead her to the bathroom.

Lothar, meanwhile, cleared the table and began washing up, as Abigail waited for the bath to fill. Behind her, Greta was undressing herself. Suddenly, Lothar entered the bathroom, and Abigail tuned just in time to see him snatch Greta’s jeans off the floor.

“I could have put those away,” she said.

“Clothes don’t belong on the floor,” Lothar stated harshly.

“Greta only just took her clothes off,” Abigail replied.

“Why didn’t you pick them up?” There was anger in Lothar’s voice.

“I was getting the bath ready,” Abigail said in her defense. “I would have put the clothes away when I am finished.”

“Why couldn’t you do it right away?”

Abigail was on the verge of losing her temper now. It was always like this; Lothar was constantly seeking something to complain about. “Like I told you, Greta just undressed. I hadn’t had a chance, yet,” she said, forcing her voice to remain calm.

“I come home from work, and have to clean the kitchen and clean up the house,” he complained. “What do you do all day? Just sit on your ass!”

“That’s not true,” Abigail retorted. “Come on, Greta. Into the bath.” She led her daughter to the tub and helped her to climb in.

“Is Daddy mad?” Greta asked.

“No, I’m not mad,” Lothar answered, though the anger in his expression and voice was all too obvious.

“I’ll be right back,” Abigail said to Greta, and walked past her husband.

He followed her into the bedroom, where she was taking out pajamas for Greta. “I bet you were on your phone all day!” he accused.

“No, I wasn’t,” Abigail said with a sigh. “Do you really have to start something with me?”

“I’m not starting anything,” he insisted.

“Yes, you are!” she retorted, and making a selection, took out a set of pajamas and shut the cabinet door.

“No, I’m not!” he reiterated. “But I work all day and shouldn’t have to come home and clean the house.”

Abigail spun on her heel to face him. “No one asked you to clean anything!” she snapped. “I told you I would clean up the dishes, and I would have picked up Greta’s clothes, too, if you would have just been patient and let me do it.”

“You never do anything in the house!” he shouted.

“Yes, I do!” Abigail exclaimed. “I spent the whole morning cleaning the house, not that you’d notice!”

She pushed past him and returned to the bathroom to check on Greta, but Lothar just wouldn’t drop it. He followed her and began making other accusations.

“There’s someone else, isn’t there?”

Now Abigail was angry. “No!” she snapped. “And I’m tired of the accusations!”

“If you aren’t on your phone, then you are married to your paintings!” he retorted.

“Would you stop it?” she cried. “Why do you always have to start a fight?”

“You’re a lazy bitch!” Lothar proclaimed.

Abigail stormed out of the bathroom. When her husband followed after him, she turned on him. “Stop it, right now!” she demanded. “I’m sick of you starting shit with me, and I don’t want our daughter exposed to this.”

“You want to start something with me?” he accused.

“I’m not starting anything! You are!” Abigail exclaimed, exasperated.

“You’re a fucking bitch!” he shouted.

Abigail stormed off to the bedroom and slammed the door, to shouts of “whore, bitch, cunt.”

Lothar continued to shout through the closed door. Then Abigail heard him threaten to throw out her easel. She rushed from the bedroom and found Lothar in the living room, her painting in his hands.

“Put it down!” she cried. “Put it down!” By now, there were tears streaming down her face. She rushed forward and snatched the painting out of his hands, as he continued to spew insults. “You’ve got no reason to treat me like this!” she declared.

“I want you out, you fucking whore!” he demanded, getting in her face.

Abigail pushed him away with one hand, and carried the painting back to the easel. Then Lothar marched to the bedroom. She followed to find him throwing her clothes out of the wardrobe onto the bed.

“Leave my stuff alone!” she shouted, snatching an armful of clothes from him. “If anyone is going to leave, it can be you!”

Then she left the room to go tend to Greta. Again, Lothar followed, and the slew of derogatory name-calling continued.

“Get out of here!” Abigail demanded, but Lothar lunged at her with his fist raised. “Go on, hit me!” she challenged.

“Leave Mommy alone!” Greta screamed at her father. “Bad Daddy!”

For a moment he hesitated, then he stormed from the bathroom. She heard him rummaging about in the bedroom and a few moments later, the front door slammed, and shortly after, heard the car drive away.

Struggling to fight back the tears, Abigail got Greta out of the bath. Remarkably, Greta was totally calm. She allowed Abigail to help her dress without any fuss, while wanting to know why Daddy was mad.

“I don’t know, honey,” was all Abigail could think of to say.

Abigail tried her best to appear calm, but her mind was racing. She had no idea where her husband had gone, or when he would be back, and she was worried what might happen when he returned. She was just about to start getting Greta ready for bed, when she changed her mind, and decided to get out of there.

Not knowing how much time they had, she told Greta they were going for a ride, and started packing an overnight bag. She searched for a change of clothes for each of them, but in her panicked frenzy, could hardly think clearly. She pulled clothes from the wardrobe, trying to figure out what she wanted, and stuffing random articles of clothing into her backpack.

She rushed about the house, gathering up anything they might need for a night or two, grabbed her phone, and called a friend who lived nearby. There was no answer, so she left a message telling her friend they needed a place to stay for the night, and would leave right away. She hung up the phone and placed it into the backpack, along with their toothbrushes.

“Come on, Greta,” she said, taking her daughter by the hand. “We’re going for a bike ride.”

Abigail opened the front door, glancing about, as they exited the apartment. “Wait here,” she instructed Greta. I’ll get the bike.”

She opened the shed door, where they kept all their bikes, and got out her E-bike. Next, she put on Greta’s helmet and set her into the child’s bike seat, buckled her in, then climbed on in front of her.

The bike was fast, but afraid that her husband might see them and try to stop them from leaving, she took country lanes where he was less likely to drive. That meant taking the long way, but at least this way, they could avoid discovery.

Finally, they arrived at her friend’s house. Abigail helped Greta off the bike, then rang the door bell. Her friend’s husband answered the door.

“Rose is out looking for you,” he informed her. “She thought you wanted her to come get you.”

Abigail shook her head. “No, sorry,” she apologized. “I wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible, so took the bike.”

“Well, come in,” Rahul said, stepping aside to let them in. “I’ll call Rose and let her know you are here.”

“Thank you,” Abigail replied.

Once they were inside, Greta joined Rose and Rahul’s two older sons in the children’s room. The oldest boy, Arjun, was the same age as Greta, and they were good friends.

After Rahul got off the phone with Rose, he asked Abigail to sit down. “Would you like a cup of tea?”

“Yes, please,” she answered.

“Rose is on her way,” he told her, as he turned on the kettle. “Are you alright?”

Abigail nodded. “Yes, just a little worked up.”

“Well, you’re welcome here, so try not to worry and get some rest,” Rahul said.

“Thank you,” she replied. “I really appreciate you two taking us in like this.”

“No problem,” he said, smiling.

When the kettle boiled, her filled a tea cup and set it on the kitchen table. A few minutes later, Rose returned. Abigail filled them in on all that had happened that evening. Rose was already aware of the problems Abigail had been having with her husband, and knew that she had been seriously considering leaving him if things didn’t improve. What had been holding her back all this time were her fears. How would she support herself? She was a stay-at-home mom, and only worked a low-paying part time job a couple mornings a week. But now that she had taken the first step, she was no longer afraid. Somehow, Abigail knew, she would find a way to make it on her own.

That’s all for now, but I might continue it. I hope you enjoyed reading this unedited, spontaneously written segment.

A lot of people find themselves feeling trapped in toxic relationships, but too afraid to take control of their lives and get out. I know those feelings. It’s terribly degrading to feel powerless to change your circumstances, to feel like this is the only option you have. It makes matters a lot worse when you don’t have family or friends you feel you can turn to when things go wrong. I was very fortunate, that the moment I walked through that door, I found more support than I ever knew I had, often in unlikely places. Friends came to my aid, people I barely knew offered their support, and within a week, I was offered a place to live. It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve managed, despite certain people’s insistence that I was making a huge mistake and would fail.

Well, my advice to anyone finding themselves in a similar predicament, my advice to you is to ignore the nay-sayers. No one knows your situation as well as you. No one knows the pain you are going through like you, and you don’t have to suffer through it. Take a chance at a better life and get out, if that’s what you feel you need to do. You never know unless you try.

Keepers of the Stones, Part 3

Keepers of the Stones, Part 3

Greetings, fellow bloggers! My apologies for keeping you all waiting, though I doubt anyone had to resort to rabid nail-biting or other nervous tics after being left off on a cliff-hanger. ;-D

Anyhow, I present you with Keepers of the Stones, part 3, and do hope you enjoy it. If you like what I do here, please spread the word, and don’t forget to leave a comment. Reader feedback, positive or negative, is always appreciated!

For those of you just joining us, I recommend reading parts one and two of Keepers of the Stones, first.

Recap: In part one, the heroine, a young elf by the name of Olwen accompanies her parents on a journey to heal a dying girl. Whilst crossing the mountains, they are attacked by dwarves, who then kill both of Olwen’s parents. Only her magical sapphire protects her from harm, and she flees into a forest. There she encounters a young gnome, who brings her back to his village. Upon their arrival, they are greeted by a guard who informs them that the Chief demands an audience with Olwen and her guide, and they are led to his hall within the trunk of an ancient willow tree. Despite having introduced herself to her guide using a false name, mysteriously, the Chief knows who she is. Continue reading to find out what will happen next!


      Olwen stood before the Chief of the gnomes with her mouth agape, momentarily dumbfounded. With effort, she gathered her composure. “How do you know my name?” she demanded.

The Chief smiled knowingly. His weathered face did not appear unkind, Olwen observed. “You are one of the last keepers of the sacred stones,” he began, then stroked his beard with a gnarled hand, pondering his next words. “Your coming has been foretold.”

Olwen frowned. “Foretold by whom?”

The Chief’s smile broadened and he spread his arms wide, gesturing to the space around them. “This ancient willow, within which I have built my hall, is my people’s Ancestor Tree. We call her Great Grandmother, for she is the memory of the land and of our folk, and we look to her for her wisdom,” the old gnome explained. “I received a vision of your coming in a dream, which the Seer confirmed. You, Lady Olwen, have long been expected. On behalf of my people, I welcome you and offer my sincerest condolences for the loss of your family.” He propped his chin on his clasped hands, as he studied the young elf.

“Thank you,” Olwen muttered.

“But we have not been properly introduced,” said the Chief. “I am Chief Cledwyn, and it is indeed a pleasure to meet you.” He offered Olwen a warm smile, which she struggled to return. “I understand young Deri, here, has extended an offer of hospitality, which was most courteous of him, but that will not do.” Deri’s face fell upon hearing that the elf was not to be his guest, after all. ” I have already made other, more suitable arrangements. You will stay with the Seer, Terrwyn. He will be charged with your care and to oversee your education,” Chief Cledwyn concluded. He motioned to one of the guards at the door, who immediately exited the hall.

Olwen exchanged a curious look with Deri, then Cledwyn invited them to be seated at a table to one side of the hall. A servant entered, carrying silver platters and proceeded to place an assortment of dishes on the table. When she offered to serve the Chief, Cledwyn waved her away.

Olwen peered into the tiny, silver pots which had been placed before her, their contents unfamiliar. Deri grinned. “Try this one,” he said, eagerly, and slid a pot towards her. She opened the lid and spooned a small portion onto her plate. It appeared to be a thick, creamy stew of a dark green colour. The scent of pungent spices wafted into the air, and Olwen’s stomach growled. Using the wooden, three-pronged fork she had been given, Olwen scooped up a small amount and tasted the stew.

“What do you think?” asked Deri, still grinning.

The stew was hearty and rich, and tasted of dandelion leaves, rabbit, and cumin, and other unfamiliar spices and herbs. Olwen smiled. “It’s delicious!” she answered.

Olwen and Deri had just started shoveling various dishes onto their plates, when the doors opened and in walked a stooped, elderly gnome using a twisted wooden staff for support. His mossy-brown eyes swept the hall and came to rest on the elf. Olwen met his gaze, but the gnome turned his attention to Chief Cledwyn and bowed low.

“Thank you for coming, Terrwyn,” said the Chief. “As you can see, the vision proved true, for the elven witch has come.” Chief Cledwyn and Terrwyn both turned to Olwen.

Bewildered, Olwen set down her fork and looked from one gnome to the other. “Why do you call me a witch?” she asked.

“Aren’t you?” asked Cledwyn, smiling.

“No!” exclaimed Olwen. “I mean, it’s not that I have anything against witches, but I’m just a girl. My studies have only just begun,” she added.

“So it is,” chimed in Terrwyn. The unexpected sound of his deep, gruff voice almost startled Olwen. Even Deri looked up from his meal to give his full attention to the old gnome. “But a witch with much to learn is no less a witch,” he stated matter-of-factly.

Before Olwen could open her mouth to protest, Chief Cledwyn cleared his throat. “Lady Olwen, allow me to introduce Terrwyn, our most revered Seer and bard,” he said. “He will be your guardian until you come of age.”

Olwen studied the gnome carefully. His long beard was pure white, to match the thinning hair on his head; He wore faded brown robes, belted around his waist, but despite his advanced age, Terrwyn had sharp, keen eyes, that gave an impression of intelligence.

“It is a pleasure to meet you,” Olwen said with a note of uncertainty in her tone.

Terrwyn smiled. “The pleasure is all mine, Lady Olwen.”

“When you have finished your supper, Terrwyn will escort you to his home, where a room has been specially prepared for you,” said Chief Cledwyn.

At a loss for words, Olwen only nodded. After they finished eating, she and Deri were bid a good evening by the Chief and shown from the hall.

“Good evening, Deri,” said Terrwyn, pointedly, once they were outside in the the cool, evening air.

Deri nodded, and glanced up at Olwen, his expression sheepish. “Well, Lady, this is where I leave you,” he said sadly. “I hope we shall see more of one another.”

“So do I, Deri,” replied Olwen. “Thank you for your help today.”

Deri watched as Olwen turned away to follow Terrwyn along the narrow, cobbled lane. Then with a sigh, he headed home.


…to be continued.