Cut Scene: Arjhani

Here is another cut scene from The Adversary. This one is a complete scene, and it’s gone for a couple of reasons. Again, space: seriously, you guys, I can’t be contained! But also, Arjhani is a character who only begins to become an aspect of the Brimstone Angels storyline in The Adversary, and getting a little more about him wasn’t going to make or break the story.

So a few things:

1. This is one of the visions Farideh sees in the Fountains of Memory. I didn’t bother italicizing it though.
2. It should have fallen between Chapters Eighteen and Nineteen.
3. Because it didn’t go there, consider this “slant-canon.” It’s not officially what happened. It might turn out that I need to undo it in Book 5, and I’d like that freedom. But for the moment, this is what I envisioned happening.

***

Farideh asks the waters to show her, bit, by bit, the scenes of her life that might have made a difference, the points where her fate might have been averted if only–if only–she’d chosen differently. If only she’d known what lay before her. The deal with Sairche, the choice to save Lorcan, the choice to go to Neverwinter, the choice to make the pact. The choice to take the path through Arush Vayem that meant she arrived home too late to stop Havilar from summoning Lorcan. How far back can she go, looking for the piece that shifted out of place, and made her world what it is today?

But as she hunts, she sees too that there are points where it’s not Farideh who made the world shift: Havilar summons Lorcan, Mehen makes some other decision, Criella singles Farideh out, and Arjhani decides to leave.

The dragonborn man watches Farideh and Havilar from a distance. They’re both small–its the summer before they turn seven years old. Farideh has a wooden sword, Havilar has a makeshift glaive, topped with a batted piece of wood. She is wild and uncoordinated, swinging at her sister who flinches and ducks, but gets in a few strikes of her own before being cracked solidly across the skull. Arjhani has been here for four monthcs. Tomorrow he’ll be gone, and neither Farideh nor Havilar nor even Mehen will see him again.

Child-Farideh is crying and clutching her head. Havilar is frantic, her beloved new weapon thrown aside. She spies Arjhani and cries to him to come and help. He hesitates, Farideh can see now. He already knows he’s going to be gone soon, that every heartbeat he spends here will make it that much harder on this family he’s inserted himself into.

“It slipped!” Havilar cries. “It slipped! What do I do?”

Arjhani smiles and sighs. He crosses the green to where Farideh is crouched and howling. He checks her head–no blood, just a bruise. Just a shock. It will be fine. “Remember,” he tells Havilar, and his voice sends a shiver through Farideh, “it extends you, the glaive. You have to imagine your arms are much, much longer. So you might be far enough for play, but the glaive is much closer.”

“I know,” Havilar protests. She pats Farideh’s purple-black hair. “I’m sorry.”

Farideh watches the waters, pretending to be impassive, but deep down, she’s still angry. She’s still remembering the look on Mehen’s face when he found Arjhani’s letter, the way Havilar had cried all night long, the way she’d wanted after that, so badly, to escape. To go find Arjhani and show him how skilled she’d gotten with her glaive. She remembered the midwife’s murmured worries, that Havilar might need to be separated from the weapon, for her own good, and Mehen’s cold reply: The glaive is hers. She wants it, she’ll learn it. It has nothing to do with him.

And now, all grown and watching the slim bronze dragonborn awkwardly tend to her childhood injury, watching Mehen beyond, his face lit with such happiness, such love, she is angry at what Arjhani did to Mehen.

And she’s angry at herself for repeating his mistakes.

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Cut Scene: Havi and the Ghoul

Boy, I’m doing a terrible job of sticking to my resolutions.  But the Sundered Book Club has been discussing The Adversary over on Goodreads, and they’ve gotten past the point where I can post some cut scenes! Also The Reaver comes out next week, and I’d rather get these out before then, so you can all focus on that.

So here’s one: This scene comes late in the book, and a version of it remains. But I wrote way too much book, and the conversation with the ghoul in particular had to go for the sake of space. I was sorry to see it go–this is the culmination of the ghoul escape that happens in an earlier scene, and I think it’s Havilar’s low point with respect to figuring out who she is and where she stands in respect to her past self. Also, I think the ghoul is funny.

But it didn’t have to be there, and so it had to go.
*** Continue reading

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Part of “don’t worry so much about what people might think” also includes not editing myself into a frothing mess. (Acquaintances can probably all cite times I’ve sent an email, only to follow up with a second email an hour later, rephrasing what I was trying to say. It’s probably more obnoxious than whatever I imagined I’d accidentally said.) However, I’m not there yet.

Stress less. I kind of have to do this whether I like it or not. I made myself physically ill—very ill—writing The Adversary. I can’t do that again. (Keep this in mind when you whip through it in three days. Read it twice at least. For me and my broken organs.)

I meant this almost entirely tongue in cheek, but I want to stress that since I’ve now had two people apologize (seriously or not) for whipping through The Adversary. I still think you should read it more than once–I try to write books you can re-read, and I think there are things you won’t necessarily see as important or resonant the first go-round.

Regardless of how many times you read it or don’t, I know there’s something fantastic about knowing you wrote something that someone couldn’t put down, that they didn’t set it aside to be entertained by other things, that they preferred your book. I appreciate that aspect, I really do. As one speedy reader to another, I do totally get the compliment in this, as well as the fact that you can absolutely consume a book in three days and “get” all the nuance and work and such. I am not even a little mad at you.

The fact remains, as with all creative endeavors, that the amount of time and energy you put into a thing dwarfs the amount of time it takes to consume it and set it aside. (If you took eighteen months to read The Adversary, I’d feel like I’d done a bad job.) It’s just true, and the options are accept the facts or put less work into creating.

Or guilt your readers into re-reading. (Also reviewing)

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