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The Sorcerer's Scroll Copyright 2011. (pen name) Avella Write Smashwords.com Edition AKA. Susan Hern. Excerpt.

2011.
THERE IS A WEAK FLAWED PATCH IN THE MESH THAT KNITS VALERIN OUT OF OUR WORLDS VIEW, I KNOW IT'S THERE, NOT BECAUSE I'VE SEEN IT PERSONALLY, BUT BECAUSE, I'VE SEEN THE EVIDENCE OF IT'S EXISTENCE.

*HERE* - Chapter 1 EMAL The boy, splayed and damaged, lay, propped up against the Willow which dipped it's fingers into the lazy stream meandering, slowly, down the valley, and into the rickety town. Bright hair caught the light as she bent down to shake him up. He would neither, wake nor budge, damn. She tested her strength by lifting him up to rest against her left side, he seemed light enough, so she pulled and dragged, rather than carried , him up the hill towards her house, which sat at a jaunty angle between an old Oak and the ancient sky. Emal pushed the screen door open with her right foot, steadying the boys' weight against the frame she managed to get him into the house, and then with a mighty heave onto the couch. Why she picked him up and took him home, rather than calling in help, only fate knows. She plaited up her hair to get it out of her face, and just as she reached over him for the phone, he woke. He looked out at her, grave and steady, beneath heavily fringed lashes. He's eyes were a startling hazel, almost yellow and filled with pain. His mouth a little too full and petulant, spoiled a face that would otherwise have been perfect and disquietingly beautiful, her heart gave and involuntary lurch, her jaw dropped, suddenly his expression changed from neutral to fear, he tried to raise himself, but, fell back, gasping and panting, clutching at his right side. She reached out to him in an effort of concern and assistance, but, with incredible speed and agility he twisted himself off the chair and out of the door in one fluid lurch knocking Emal aside in the process, by the time she had recovered he was nowhere to be seen. She scanned the horizon but, instead of the boy she saw her mothers battered old pick-up round the bend off the main road and onto the gravel path that lead to their drive. It was later than she had thought, and then she realized that she had spent more than half the day trying to rescue a boy that thought she meant him more harm than good. Her mom drove up in a skid of dust, smiling out at Emal, from the wound down window, she mouthed a red lipsticked, hello. Emal smiled back, "how did your day go," she shouted over the sound of the dying engine. "as expected, I guess, " Blanche answered, motioning for her daughter to help carry the grocery bags from the back seat into the house.

She stepped down out of the truck, listening as Emal launched into a detailed, if somewhat embroidered, relation of the days events. By the time her daughter was half through the telling, she was shaking her head and waggling a grocery bag in reprimand at her. "how could you be so idiotic, Ally," her pet name for Emal, "You, could put yourself in serious danger, bringing a stranger into the house, he could have been acting up." she then proceeded to reel off a list of gory demises Emal could have befallen at the hands of the boy. Emal, smiled to herself, her mom had the most amazing imagination, no wonder she had chosen the theater as her profession, it really suited her. Emal giggled, "Mom, you would have, to have, seen him, he was far more afraid of me, than I could ever have been of him", "Still ," she added, "it's just not the done thing." Emal had never known her father, he had died before she was born. Her mother had never remarried, and although she had, had a few so called 'friends', over the years none had been more than casual encounters. They were close. Emal often felt that she was more mother than daughter, since she acted as advisor cum agent to her mothers acting career, and as home keep when her mother was off on the road. Money was always tight. Her mom could not be regarded as a commercial success, although in the artistic sense she was critically acclaimed. She said that she choose her roles with care, mindful of being taken seriously for her ability, rather than being regarded as a floozy based on her looks, and, Emal admitted to herself, her mother was exceptionally good looking, she thought that her mom was economically underrated by her directors and producers. all this meant that Emal from a young age was always on the lookout for part-time work, anything that paid would do, but only when the big fast food chains hit their little town, did work become regular and well paid, she was very proud of her job taking orders at the drive through, weekends six till ten. Their farm had not been worked since her father died, they had one tenant farmer out on the far side, providing an income that kept them in gas if nothing else, her mom was always in start up mode with ideas of planting up the soil, or importing some sort of rare and exotic animal to breed, these plans however, remained no more than dreams of independence and financial stability since all notions cost far more to implement that they ever had, and investors were non-existent. Emal's reflection was broken, by her mom demanding, vocally, if she had been listening to what had been said, then with a wicked look in her eye, she tricked her daughter by asking her to regurgitate, needless to say Emal could not. She brushed her daughters hair aside, held her chin in her hands and murmured, "what ever am I to do with you, Ally? You are always off in your own world, I really don't think you take any notice of reality, do you?" Emal scoffed at that, as far as she was concerned it was the other way around, but she held her tongue. Letting go, without further reprimand, she went over opened a light Chardonnay and poured two glasses, alcohol had never been taboo in their house. Their roots being Mediterranean, meant that they had what Blanche considered a healthy attitude to liquor. They made dinner together, and sat out on the porch to eat under the sparkling country stars, near enough to add highlights to the branches and leaves in the old oak tree. Blanche started up on the tree legend and although Emal had heard it a million times, she did not interrupt and listened quietly, content to have her mom home for once and act like the child she no longer was. Her voice whispered, " A magnificent garden lay deep down at the roots of all ancient oak trees, the tale has it that the garden, feed by pure underground steams, holds the dreams of the world, suspended, in

beautiful dew drops that hang on crystal flowers growing with determined ambition towards the trees base. Naturally, no matter how they sprout the can never reach their target, least they should then over run all the earth, and thereby lose all men's dreams and hopes, since the dewdrops would dry up in the light of the sun. The keepers of the garden are exquisite fairies, that men have accidentally seen throughout history in the vicinity of old oak trees. Tree roots connect the Underworld to ours, whereby fairies come and go as they wish, generally they prefer their own world and have little tolerance for man. It is said," Blanche continued, eyes luminous in the semi-dark, "that the original man. Father, to us all, was expelled from the garden when he fell into unrequited love with Eva a beautiful young fairy, he captured her and brought her to live in our world, the girl pined, without her beloved garden and died sad and alone. The man wished, then, to return to the other world but the keepers stole from him his memory, and his knowledge of the path, just as he had stolen the joy and life from Eva the fairy. Ever since it is impossible for humans to travel to the underworld, but their folk travel to ours if necessity demands." It was a cute story, they both liked it, but reality washed back in, bringing with it thoughts of the boy. "What do you think scared him so senseless, he really looked haunted terrified, disturbed if you like?," her mom turned her green eyes, out into the night, "I don't know, perhaps he's a runaway, or God forbid, a criminal," she sighed in response, "you shouldn't have collected him up so readily, promise me that you wont be so silly again." She promised, saying unconvincingly that she doubted if he were a criminal, but conceded that he might be a runaway, "the thing is," Emal said, "he really seemed to be pretty badly injured, in need of help." Blanche turned to her daughter rubbing at her temples, as if trying to brush the days troubles from her mind, "why don't you phone around tomorrow, and see if anyone knows anything about 'your boy' in town." She turned making her way back inside. It was a good idea, but no-one, other than she, had seen anyone new in town. *HERE* -Chapter 2ARON

He could feel the heat claiming every part of him, he could feel the lick of the flames, he knew he would be engulfed, yet still, the thirst dominated his thoughts more than the danger of the fire, he felt himself drawn down, he could feel strong hands forcing his mouth and nose closed, he could make no sound, consciousness drifted away from him like smoke, his fevered body lay inert, unsensing. When next he woke he knew he was no longer amid the familiar, the usual, everything about his situation was weird, he tried to lift his head, but the pain in his chest choked his effort, his vision swayed, then swam, dissolving into gray mist, he fell away from the world once more. Now he was covered in ice, frozen lips begging a dry thirst, his legs, arms, chest lay under a block of relentless solid cold, he tried to push up against the floor, tried to dislodge himself from the ice, breathless he could do nothing against the weight pressing him into oblivion.

Blue, filling the hole in the roof above his head, looked like the sky, in his dazed state he wondered why it was upside down, the wooden boards underneath him felt clammy, wet, slippery, he slid down their endless length into a whirl of water, he heard himself screaming desperately, he tried to clutch at the sides of the plank to no avail, he slid on, losing clarity just before he hit the water, he drifted into fever once more. He dreamed of a russet haired girl with huge green eyes mocking him, in his pain. He saw her head roll back in laughter, he tried to get away, he folded himself into the corner of the room, but she caught him up by his hair, she grinned menacingly at him, her teeth gnashing grotesquely at him, he felt the blood begin to pour out of him onto the floor at his feet, she dropped him into it and growing larger by the second, her face detached itself from her body, flinging itself down after him, he tried to raise his hands over his head in protection, but thankfully, darkness took him once more. Birds were singing in his ears, the blue sky was winking at him from the roof, sun light fell about him polishing the wooden floor to a shine, he lifted his head, tentatively. Everything hurt, his body was bruised, sore all over, he rolled onto his side catching his breath at the stab of pain that shot through him. He did not pass out, proud of himself he attempted to lift himself up on a crooked elbow, he just about managed, before crashing down. He tried again and this time he was successful, he sighed with relief, looking out over the edge of the wooden beam, that he was stuck behind, kicking out at it with one stiff foot, he could not dislodge it, he would have to be satisfied for now, with his scant progress, at least the nightmares had receded, he was, actually, going to live. *HERE* -Chapter 3EMAL. Emal gathered her books up off the desk, a relic like much else at the school, it was carved with the names of thousands of students who had come before her, she was more than halfway through her penultimate year, an average student who excelled only in math, she hoped to gain a bursary to study further, so she applied herself with more than average diligence. Favored by the teachers, she was not very popular with certain students, but she did attract a few loyal friends. Garth sauntered over, waiting for her to pack up her things, he asked how her weekend had been, feeling left out by her unusual pre-occupation, he bent over to help her zip up her bag, tangling himself up in the strap, he soon had the contents on the floor, cheeks coloring he tried to gather all he had spilled, only managing to land himself on top of it, gangly and awkward, he stammered apology trying to free himself from the strap, she giggled offering him a helping hand, "Garth don't help babe, somehow it always ends like this, let me get you back onto your feet". She pulled him out of his misery, scooping up the clutter with an easy movement, she looped her arm through his, using the other to sling her zipped bag over her shoulder. Firmly she guided him out of the building into the autumn sun which was glinting splinters of harsh light off the asphalt parking lot. Garth gave her a lift home every day. They clambered into his new Opel. As she strapped herself in they spotted Anika and Stefanie coming out of the main building, the girls where the talk of the town, The bank had been about to foreclose on their house a few months back, when their father had bought a hunting rifle and blown the unsuspecting bank manager's head off. The local chief of police had mowed him down, thirty four bullet wounds meant that the chief, had definitely, not taking any chances. Sadly now that their father was dead, his insurance policy meant that the traumatized family no longer had any financial problems. Leaving the girls, and their story, of the only murder in the area in living memory, behind, Garth pulled out of the lot and onto the Main road that ran straight through the little Town, fortunately he was not his usual clumsy self when he drove.

She didn't tell him about the boy, it was as if she was holding it to herself, keeping the secret, cultivating the mystery. She fixed him lunch, that was their arrangement, the ride for the food. Shoveling cheese, tuna and bread into his mouth, he proceeded to give her the low down on the new computer game he was designing and building, Garth for all his clumsiness was the town genius, a regular mini Bill Gates and always in demand to fix the entire population of Genter Bay's computers. Actually he had her fairly interested as well, and they had general plans to pursue a software career together. She knew that Garth was interested in more than just her sandwiches, however, although she adored him, it was more a brotherly love, she didn't think their was any harm in fostering their friendship despite her mother's warnings to the contrary. "Listen Garth, if you're free later today, I'd appreciate it, if you could pick me up from the fleamarket in, about, an hour, I'm going to walk up there, after lunch, but I don't want to walk to work from there. Do you think you could come and get me?" Garth looked up from his empty plate, a loose curl dropping over his brow, "sure!", he agreed. *HERE* -Chapter 4EMAL. she loved the locket instantly, it looked old and finely wrought. Dull silver with delicate filigree worked over the top casing, in swirl shapes, narrow at one end, wider at the other, it was exquisite. Strangely she just knew how it would feel against her skin even before she put it on. She had the oddest sense of deja vu when she held it in her hand, clearly feeling as if she had held it in exactly the same manner before acquiring it in another life. She shook off the feeling knowing that deja vu was just a trick the mind played when it worked slower than the eye. Nevertheless, after she had paid the vendor and slung it round her neck, she felt as if she had found lost property. The fleamarket was very busy, thongs of people searching for bargains and bric a brac, ambled ahead of her, forcing her to slow her pace. The stall holders traveled around the small towns in the area and set up their market at different venues each month end, ensuring brisk trade for themselves and novelty for their customers. Finally she managed to get to the exit, she bought two cokes from the last stall before leaving, knowing that Garth would be waiting in the afternoon heat to pick her up. She climbed in beside him, "Thanks for waiting for me, it was a devil of a job getting out of there, but look what I found" She held up the charm for his inspection, holding it upside down in error. "did you see the inscription, it looks like a foreign language" He leaned over closer. "even the letters are foreign, looks like Arabic or something, I'd get that evaluated if I were you," then he added "it looks valuable, how much did you pay for it?." He gunned the car and pulled into the late afternoon traffic, more than ten cars, on a local road, at any one time constituted rush hour in Genter Bay, only during the holiday season did they see anything approaching real traffic congestion, and then, fortunately, it only lasted a couple of weeks before the beach seekers went back to their land locked lives. "I bargained the trader down from twenty-five to twenty." She bragged, holding the locket up backwards closer to her eyes to see the unusual etching, "I think you might be right, I'll definitely take your advice." "Put it into your mobileweb, see what you get."

She took her phone out of her pocket to type in the characters, she began looking through the characters on the device that made up the alphabets of all known modern languages, none of them matched. "well that's weird," she looked up from the screen, "the characters can't be from an known modern language, maybe they are some sort of hieroglyphics, or something." Excitement at the prospect of having made a spectacular find of an ancient, and possible very valuable, relic for next to nothing, sent her brain into overdrive. "I don't think anyone 'round here'd know anything much about artifacts, do you?" "guess not" "perhaps you could take it over to one of the professors at the university when you next go up to Calso for you computer course?" Emal begged, twisting awkwardly against the restriction of the seatbelt to look at him more fully. She groped in her bag and handed him the coke she had bought for him, she pulled the tab on her own can and drank thirstily, before continuing. "maybe, one of the history, or language guys will know something." Garth agreed, he went to Calso weekly. He had been accepted into an advanced computer science course specializing in computer games. The course was offered part-time and taught by one of the most respected brains in the field, Garth adored it. They drove on in companionable silence until they reached the Macdonald's, he was about to pull off after dropping her at work, then he decided to grab a quick dinner inside before going home, Garth lived a strange life, his parents were divorced, he lived with his father, and seldom saw his mother, she was a fabulously wealthy property speculator. She stayed in Munich with her new husband and baby, Garth received maintenance from her. She had left her old life behind, and, selfishly, did not want to see much of Garth who remained her of her ex. He had pots of money but there was never any food in their house, hence, their sandwiches and breakfasts for lifts, arrangement. *HERE* -Chapter 5EMAL. The wind made a valiant effort to remove the autumn leaves that clung stubbornly to the lawns and paths of the grand old school, it was a losing battle, the grounds, despite all the sweeping gusts, lay brown and russet shaded under the giant elms. One of the masters had reluctantly, agreed to look at the inscription on the locket, as a favor to Garth's tutor. Garth and Emal sat waiting for the professor in his reception room. Emal had struck up an amiable conversation with the man's secretary, "Prof. will be here in a jiffy, he's not usually late, a student must have waylaid him. Your tutor said you have a scrap of indecipherable script, is that right?" Eager curiosity played across her pleasant middle aged face, "oh, yes" Emal turned the charm at her neck over, holding it up to the woman's face, "I bought it at a flea market, and only discovered the engraving later" "let's take a closer look then" She said, coming around from behind her computer to see the script more clearly, "Mmm, looks like a cross between Brahmi and Chinese, more simple than the later, with narrower more elegant strokes, but more complicated than the former, that really does look interesting, maybe the two of you have really discovered something special. Prof. Jenks, is constantly beset by members of the 'great unwashed', who believe they have found some or other relic. It has made him very reluctant to deal with these requests as they are generally, just so much nonsense" She said in her chatty manner, looking at the locket, "I, think he is going to be intrigued by your necklace, my dear, it's more than the etching alone, the piece is beautifully made."

Emal thanked her, feeling as pleased as if she had wrought the metal herself. The professor interrupted further discussion, by entering the cubicle like room in a flurry of wind blown dishevelment, his hair, longer than fashion dictated, was all about his face, he brushed it aside with a massive ham-like hand, to reveal a heavy featured face with a prominent brow, and kind, intelligent big brown eyes, everything about him was large, even his feet seemed oversized, and yet he was neither fat, nor overly tall, he merely occupied the space he used completely. Garth said later that he reminded him of his mothers brother whom, he had not seen in years. He liked him immediately, and the feeling was about to be prove mutual. "Come on in" He boomed informally, throwing open a door to his inner office, he invited them inside. The room, small and ridiculously untidy, served only to highlight his size. Emal tried not to let the comedy she saw in the situation show on her face. "Make yourselves at home" He suggested, clearing a pile of books and newspaper clippings off a set of moth eaten chairs. The office's only saving grace was a large picture window on the left at the side of the lecturer's desk, it widen the room somewhat, and gave a remarkable view of the campus, with the old library, and its marble hewn artwork playing center stage to the vast expanse of, leaf strewn, lawns around it. Jenks somehow managed to squeeze his bulk between the armrests of the chair behind the desk. "Well now let's have it" He said without further small talk. He stuck a pencil behind his ear, and viewed them expectantly, from under thatch like brows. He was such a caricature of typical academia that Emal had to bite her tongue to hold back her humor, she unclasped the chain at her neck and handed it to him across the paper strewn desk. Jenks turned the delicate piece around in his large hands, he was silent for quite awhile as he studied it. Eventually he looked up at them, "There are two possibilities here, the first is that this is simply an example of someone personalizing something, by inscribing it in a manner that only they understood, or it is from a bygone age, but engraved using a language or code I have never seen before, some aspects of the carving suggest it might have had something to do with the evil eye, look here," He bent forward, pointing to a simple sign above the main lettering, it looked like a single lined half moon with a dot above it, the professor turned it upside down, and both of them could clearly see what he meant, the drawing was meant to depict an eye, "most of our ancestors were very concerned about being bewitched by the evil eye, in some cases they took their fear to great lengths, devising all nature of protection, from the lead eyeliner of the ancient Egyptians, which acted as a natural antibiotic against conjunctivitis, to various practices such as spiting out the evil, holding a hand in front of the eyes to avoid contact, or as this charm possibly demonstrates, having a magical incantation made by a sorcerer to wear as protection." He eased himself back into his chair, "Exactly what do you mean by evil eye?" Garth asked, interest in the subject animating his features "well, it has more than one meaning, really," The professor thought for a moment, scratching his head he added, "It was believed that if a suitably gifted person looked at you with envy caused by anything you possessed, either physically or spiritually, they could curse you. The first sign that you had been afflicted would be the contraction of pink eye or conjunctivitis, which in the days before antibiotics, could have fairly nasty symptoms, strangely this fear was common to many cultures, even those having had no contact with each other." "although I've heard of the evil eye, and had a vague idea that it was a curse of ill will, I had no idea it was considered to be caused by ordinary people in their dealings with each other, or that it was so common" Garth was sitting on the edge of his seat by now, riveted by the telling of this ancient terror.

"Goodness, you have no idea the lengths our forefathers went to in order to protect themselves, a locket, like the one you have, is a very possible talisman, I think we should send it off to an expert, to have it dated, if possible, and have the metal it is made out of identified." His features were bright with enthusiasm, "However, I must warn you, the piece may not be special. I will send it on to a chap I know, who has the clout to get it tested, while still keeping the matter quite, we wouldn't like to make a fuss for nothing, now, would we?" His eyes took them both in, the hopefulness in their faces was not lost on him, he felt obliged not to shatter their dreams until the item had been accessed, "lets meet back here, next week, same time, and I'm sure I'll have some sort of answer for you by then." With that he stood, the meeting was over. Emal felt as if a little of her soul had been torn out, she didn't really want to let the locket out of her sight. "You will look after it?" She asked, feeling silly the moment it was out of her mouth, of course he would, he was just that type of man. He showed them to the door, his manner fatherly, "don't worry, we'll have it back around your pretty neck in no time. He smiled as they said their good-byes to his secretary, before closing the door of his world on disarray. The clouds had parted to allow malevolence a glimpse of its eminent demise. Evil pricked its ears, alerting itself to attempt a reversal of the truth of time. *THERE* Valerin -Chapter 6ALDRED. Aldred liked to investigate the woodlands and open fields surrounding he's families country estate. Dark, lithe and wiry he had a natural amplitude for cunning which gave him an advantage in both hunting and fighting. At fourteen he already demonstrated a streak of brilliance for the strategy of mayhem. Looking for a gap in the trees, Aldred tracked the small, weary stag to a clearing. The animal seemed startled at its sudden exposure, giving Aldred the opportunity he needed to bring it down. He stretched an arrow into his bow and let it go in one smooth soundness action. If he was lucky the animal would drop, if not he would continue to track it until it fell. It was a sharp shot, the buck collapsed in a heap. Aldred sprang forward with his argour knife and killed the creature cleanly. He's family table was not in need, but, Aldred enjoyed the thrill of the hunt. Dragging his trophy away, with both hands, he considered stuffing and exhibiting the anthers on the dinning hall wall. He found his way back to the horse he had left tethered at forest fringe. He slung his prize over the colts back and raised himself up behind it. Aldred set the horse to a steady walk and took in the lay of his lands as he approached the castle. Barley for the popular alcoholic sprits favored by the Kings men grew green and deep in the fields. The yield would soon be ready for harvest, it's looked likely to be a good year thought Aldred thanks to his mother's hard headed business brain. He's father was a lout and layabout, but he had been offered with the castle and the lands which had made him a suitable match for his mother. She had used her husband's inheritance well, prospering rapidly. She doted on Aldred and tried in vain to keep him out of reach of he's fathers quick fists and mean tongue. She had no one to do the same for herself, and as a result she often sported a veil. The kitchen lad was asleep in the hay, Aldred boxed his ears to wake him, " Master Aldred," he stammered, rubbing his eyes with the back of a filthy hand.

" take the stag down and clean it, I want the head for the wall, mind, so take care and let me know when you're done." The lad set about he's bidding instantly, Aldred wandered through the kitchen nodding a greeting to cook, he grabbed bread, thick creamy butter and salted cheese. Famished he took savage bites, the food tasting so much better than usual after his afternoon's excursions. His mother was away for a few days, she had gone to help his aunt give birth. Aldred knew his father would be entertaining a group of friends that evening, he wandered, idyll what they got up to. Aldred wanted to change out of his coarse hunting clothes and change his boots for sandals.. He ventured through the dinning hall on his way to the attic above his fathers rooms, which served as his suite. Before he started up the stairs, Gendra a pretty, plump serving maid, of about his own age hurried past with linen for cook. Aldred stuck a foot in her path, Gendra crashed in a swirl of cloth. Aldred giggled, he grabbed the front of her gauzy tasmen, she cried out and clutched the front of her bodice, Aldred tugged harder, then out of the corner of his eye, he saw cook enter the room. He stopped pulling, and instead pretended to be assisting, he pulled Gendra to her feet, close enough to himself to whisper in her ear, "It'll be your death girl if you make a murmur, I'll finish with you later," Gendra, her face red, looked from Aldred to cook, she shook her arm free. Scowling she collected her linen. "what happened genie?" cook asked, looking suspiciously at Aldred. "nothing ma'am, I tripped and lost my load, is all," Aldred was not afraid of cook, he just didn't want to be questioned or caught out, "you should employ more sure footed help, this stupid girl, could have done me injury" he turned his back, to her hiding his smirk, the girls shock and resistance had inflamed him. He promised himself the fun of seeking her out later, in a more secluded setting. Aldred climbed the stairs to his rooms, all was quite downstairs. He knew that the staff would leave early, since, his mother was not in residence. Aldred sighed to himself, it looked like it was going to be a dreary evening indeed. He looked out of his window at the sinking sun. Just then he heard a commotion from below, Aldred had found a peep-hole in the roof, age had eroded a spyhole directly into his father's private rooms, from his lofty position he saw his father pour a cup of sprits and swallow it in one draught, the smell of tobacco wafted up at him. The room was set out in an old fashioned manner, the draped, mantled grate on one stone wall held a fire-place, the other walls were decorated with horse riding paraphernalia, and wooden bench, dead center, dominated the room. A game of Pebblar was in progress, counters, on a marked wooden board laid out between his father and four of his associates. It was not a friendly match and his father was losing and drinking steadily, a fortune in Saffa, the sacred spice, was stacked in the middle. The man to the left of his parent made a daring move, then to grudging applause, scooped the Saffa into his cloth sling. His father's red mottled face looked crest-fallen, but when his opponent asked if he was good for another round, he said that he was, he offered the lands around their castle as his bet rather than Saffa, Aldred aghast at this foolishness, guessed that his father was all out of the currency. All four laid their bets, the counters were placed according to an initial roll of the dice, after that, Pebblar was a game of skill, each man only able to move his pieces in a set direction, dictated by a complicated set of rules, counters where eliminated by these moves. The player with the only remaining counters on the board was the winner.

Aldred's father had never been an accomplished player, even when sober, but drunk, he proceeded to lose all the profitable land attached to their castle. Aldred watched in fascination as his father threw his inheritance away. In his agitation Aldred slipped forward, over the spyhole, loosening a little dirt and a few pebbles, which, to his horror, drifted down to land in the middle of the game board. All participants looked up in curiosity. Anousa, a large, dull man with a huge nose said' "I think there's someone up there watching us, who do you think it might be?" he looked around the table, Aldred's father glanced upward groggily, swaying slightly in his chair, he turned to Anous, "there are only two entrances to the attic, you take one and I'll go up the stairs of the other, and see who, so dares, as to spy on the kings men." Anous was all for it. Aldred's father came up at him in a rage of drunken stupidity, he was, however, sober enough to get all the way up the stairs. He grabbed Aldred by the front of his tasmen, and then, with force, hurled him downstairs, to land at Anous's feet. Anous picked him up by his hair, he peered drunkenly into Aldred face, and belched out a vapor of alcohol at him, Aldred gagged. Anous thought this hilarious, he snatched up more of Aldred's hair and threw him across the table. Somehow Aldred's father made it down, he glared at the prone body of his son, then with a mighty rip, he tore the boy's tasmen aside exposing a childishly built back. He snatched up a horse whip, and spilled his violence onto his sons body. he whipped until Anous staid his hand, in fear of Aldred's life. All four men continued to drink until, to a man, they feel into a stupor of inebriated slumber. Aldred opened one puffy eye to see the flames in the grate ahead of him flicker unwillingly into darkness. Only the candles on the mantle above the fireplace continued to burn. Aldred could not lift himself easily, but eventually he was standing next to the table his father had beaten him on, he took a slow narrow eyed look about, sickened at his father's irresponsibility and violence. He knew that his father's final bet of the evening would not be forgotten by his associates, they would not let him turn on his oath. The farm , all the lands, his mother's hard work, his own livelihood, lost, by this boar of a man snoring on the hearth in front of him. Aldred's mind, quick and calculating, began to formulate a plan. Before he knew what he was doing, he had tipped the candle to the drapes, the room began glowing prettily, he emptied a half bottle of sprits onto the flames, then stepped outside to watch his inferno. When the sun began to poke it's nose over the horizon, Aldred raised his stiff body to it's warmth, thoughts of the previous evening sent his mind racing, he slapped his horse into a gallop, sending it to it's own devices on the lands, then before the staff came up from the village below, he lay himself down under the bough of a vast tree, as if he had been smacked from the horse's back in his attempt to rescue those who had perished in the tragic fire. Aldred shut his eyes tight when he heard the first scuffle of shoes. A cry went up, "Master Devaras's rooms are alight," the sound of running feet. Aldred knew he had won. A messenger was sent by fleet horse to inform his mother. Aldred knew the widow would not grieve overly much, Devaras had not been neither, an attentive, nor, kind husband. Aldred sat hunched over in the large airy kitchen, the only room in the castle to have survived the fire. He looked out at the yard adjoining the room. The day was turning out warm for late summer, he could feel the kick of new life on the air, his future had been a run away horse, but, now he felt that his decisive action had given him control, he was the author of his own fate, he did not for one moment consider himself a killer.

Aldred would have to present himself at court, that much he knew, was procedure, for a boy not yet of age, who had lost a father. * The Novel will be released in January 2012. If you would like to read it the first 20 reviewer's (no matter will receive a free copy of the Novel, one week prior to international release. Follow the link below to add your comments. http://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=avella+write

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