Saturday, 13 October 2012

The Cutting Room Floor

These are the only passages cut from King of Thorns. They originally sat here and there before "Wedding Day" chapters with the intention of showing glimpses of the battle from different perspectives - from the bottom rather than the top, to put a more human face on the casualty figures.

Editorial thinking was that they would add confusion and dilute the storyline. That's probably true.

I've posted most of the these before, but here they are in one place.


******

i) Sorren Hammerson, seventeen, arrow shot. Tellan slopes, below the Haunt.

Son of William and Sereh, raised in Northdean, Renar.

The arrow pinned him to the moment, and Sorren fell, knowing that for all his life he and the arrow had been racing toward each other.

He fell. His head bounced once and his helm clattered away. A last breath left in a crimson spray of surprise. Sound faded, bowstrings thrummed into silence, the sky bright and wide, filled everything. He had wanted to be a farmer. He had wanted Milly Turner. The sky narrowed to the gleam of her hair. Narrowed again. Gone.

***


ii) Martel Harris, twenty-three, sword blow. Blue Moon Valley, west of the Haunt.

Son of Martel and Hela, born above the Falling Angel’s barroom, Crath City, Ancrath.

Find something worth following and stick to it, son. Martel took his father’s advice along with his name, and both served him well. He followed into the Forest Watch, followed the Forest Watch into the Renar Highlands. He followed the son as he had the father.

Just don’t put a foot wrong. Another gem of Harris the Elder’s wisdom. Martel put a foot wrong in Blue Moon Valley. You can’t follow on a turned ankle. He drew his sword and chose his spot amidst the broken rock. Kenna and Justin tried to stay with him. The first time anyone ever tried to follow Martel Harris. He saw them off with curses and threats.

A tear ran hot on his cheek in the coldness of the wind. He watched the men of Arrow over the bright line of his blade.

“I may have followed, but I wasn’t led.”

***


iii) Nial Ravener, thirty-four, spear wound. Blue Moon Pass.

Son of Graem and Nalla, raised in the Haunt. Husband to Erin. Father to Kai, Kelin, and Keris.

The spear hurt less than the climbing. Nial pitched into the deep snow, almost grateful for the excuse to stop. He lay cradled in softness.

Time was I could run all day. From valley to peak. Then time caught me up.

A blessing to die in the snow. Clean, serene, where all sins are covered, in the purity of high places.

No pain but the ache in his lungs and the memory of agony in his thighs. It felt good to be still, in a cool embrace, cold kisses on his forehead. Even the hot wet wound in his back seemed like release.

Images of Erin at the cottage door. The children in the hay. Bright days of summer. Too bright. Nial turned to older days, dim yesterdays lit now by the last beats of his heart. He remembered his mother, framed in golden curls. How fiercely he had loved her.

***


iv) Chaliced Rome, fourteen, arrow shot, Haunt, east wall.

Son of Molly Freerange, father unknown, raised in the Haunt’s shadow.

So many arrows had missed him that Chaliced started to think they all would. He started to think Kelly’s warm kiss, the one she gave behind the stables, really would keep him safe. Even when the arrow came he thought it some kind of mistake. It didn’t look like an arrow, just black flights and an inch of wood standing from his chest. It hadn’t felt sharp, more like a punch. He reached to tug at it but his fingers were too cold to grip. Chaliced turned to ask Old Jorna and something hit him in the neck.

To fall forty feet from wall-walk to courtyard flagstones takes almost no time, but starting to fall, those moments of imbalance, of flailing arms, of a foot finding nothing but air beneath it, they can take forever.

Even falling Chaliced didn’t think he would die, or that he could die. Fourteen is too young for it. He wanted . . . too many things. One more kiss would do.

***


v) Alan Herder, forty-six, lost, east sally tunnel.

Son of Fredrick and Kath, born and raised in Gutting.

Forty-six is too old for running up a mountain and down again. Alan set his back to the rock and slid to a sitting position. The dark wrapped him tighter than blindness – this night had never been broken, by sunlight or by flame.

Exhaustion had taken his legs from him, and what put one foot before the next came from somewhere deeper than his will. In the face of all the blood and death, avalanche and rockslide, Alan Herder had made his way where so many fell and failed. Tired to the point of delirium he followed Captain Keppen into the sally tunnel, shuffling along the ancient path through the caves.

Even now he couldn’t remember how he lost them, all his fellows in the Watch, how he stumbled sleep-drunk from the path, unseen, and took the wrong turn. Too tired to notice the darkness it had taken a collision with a cave wall to bring him to his senses.

Alan had hollered, yes, and run, hurt his leg, crawled, then limped, and finally sat in the ancient night and let sleep claim him.

Forty-six is too old for running up mountains, but any age is too young to die alone buried in the dark.

***


vi) Connie Hux, sixteen, arrow shot, Haunt, east wall.

Daughter of Samath and Greta. Born Hodd Town, Renar.

The speed of the shafts zipping over the walls didn’t scare Connie. It isn’t until you haul the bowstring back for your first shot, until you feel it bite at your fingers through the leather of the guard flap, and your bicep aches with the tension, that you remember just what rides behind the sharp iron of those arrowheads. The arrows didn’t scare her - she scared herself.

Connie loosed six shots into the men streaming to reinforce the enemy’s ram. She knew each one hit, though she didn’t stop to watch. Commonsense dropped her between shots and she’d no desire to see men die. If it were her say the gates would open and the Prince of Arrow could have her oath. But Camson was on the walls, up in arms to defend the Highlands and King Jorg. And it only stands to reason – the more who held the walls alongside him, the less likely Camson would be to get hit.

As Connie stood for her seventh shot, Camson glanced her way, a wild grin on him. Even the winter sun struck gold from his hair.

The day turned darker.

“God no . . .” A voice that creaked with age.

Old Jorna’s fingers hurt her shoulders as he helped her down. The light came flat as before a storm.

“I’m not hit.” She tried to say it.

Across the wall Camson loosed another arrow out toward the ridge, not seeing her, not looking.

“I’m not hit.” The words wouldn’t come.

“Ah hell . . .” Something more than age cracked Jorna’s voice.

And darkness took her.

5 comments:

  1. Those are great, poignant, shame they were cut.

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  2. I guess these do not help the storyline, but yes they were great to read as an extra because it does show that although Jorg may or may not care, the people who are dying ARE people.
    Awesome writing as always.
    (a bit confused about the changes between first person perspective and third person, though)

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  3. thank you for sharing this. it would have felt disjointed in the book. but it's an excellent extra! :) :) :)

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  4. Glad they were cut, but glad to read them too

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