the Hunters’ Tower, where the perennial herb grew. “Be sure you bring back enough leaves and roots to make a fluid drachm of each of the lotion and elixir. Moreover, collect half a scruple of the seeds; some should have ripened fully by now”.
The ruse to make his master forget his anger appeared to have worked. He was already in a better frame of mind.
“Now don’t get lost. … Bear this map well, for it’s the only one in existence, and see that you report back to my study before nightfall. This will be a good test of your abilities, lad. You’ll be all right though, I daresay!” Hiral’s habitually scowling face broke into a smile that made him almost unrecognisable, as he gave Nomis his herb collecting pack.
Despite Hiral’s obvious confidence in him, Nomis was not so sure he would be able to find the herb on the flora map if it was that rare. He was also rather apprehensive about going right around to the far side of the Hunters’ Tower on his own. The Coblyns, who had colonised it, were known to be very a hotheaded Tylwyth Teg clan. They were renowned archers, but they had a tendency, when confronted by strangers, to shoot arrows first and ask questions later. It was considered prudent to stay well away from the vicinity of that tower!
“I’ll try my best, sir”, said Nomis, swallowing and lifting his chin.
Hiral, remembering his hesitation at his first solo mission, many years ago, understood the young Elfin’s reluctance. With a gentle reassuring pat on his shoulder, Nomis’ tutor left him. As Hiral returned along the path, Nomis could hear him still muttering and cursing about the Dynols’ folly and filthy habits. It was no time at all before his master’s bedraggled moth-wing cloak merged into the sparse weeds and stone-wall of the narrow path ledge. He was alone.
Nomis, turning his thoughts to the task in hand and the long march round to the Hunters’ Tower, wondered what else the day would bring. He shouldered his master’s pack and resolutely set off.
Like all Tylwyth Teg, he moved more silently than a mouse, with no visible sign of movement to larger onlookers. The Dynols made such a shuddering vibration underfoot that it was very easy to avoid being seen with so much advance warning. The only animals that the Tylwyth Teg had any real problems with were the castle cats. They would lie in wait and occasionally pounce on an unsuspecting and