Thursday, August 28, 2014

"The Hanging Tree" Deleted Scene #1

Note: I'm freewriting this right on the "New Post" page. This is both a rough draft, and something I don't see making it into the main novel. I'm just trying to find the voice for the character, and worldbuilding in the meantime.

This will be rough. Both in grammar, and in prose. So please forgive me for that. 

Standard legal stuff: I own all the rights to this piece. All the characters involved are entirely fictional and entirely my own. Any resemblance to persons living or dead, real or fictional, is purely coincidence.

Feel free to read this, or share it with others. Just don’t alter it without my permission or share it without passing on my name as its author.


The Ishura River had always been the font of life in the valley, mother of the modern world. Not a day passed on their travels that Remial failed to see some marks of an ancient people.

Here, a few broken columns, made featureless by the scrubbing of unforgiving winds, all that remained of an ancient palace. There, blasted sandstone, stained even now with soot from the fires, the last remnant of a temple devoted to The Merchant, and the site of a grisly massacre. Here a half-broken statue in alabaster, little more than a torso with flowing robes and the suggestion of a beard. There, a monolith with words in a tongue even Mistress Vithia could not identify, worn to near-illegibility.

A dry moat where once there had been a canal.

Cobbled stone poking out from underneath the black soil.

A single aged oak where oaks were not known to grow.

A circle of large, jagged rocks.

Today it was a gigantic stone face, half-covered in thick skins of moss, with a circlet atop its head. Mistress Vithia pointed to it, sweeping long, silver-streaked bangs back from her face. "Remy, what material is that?"

Remy squinted against the sun. "Looks like marble, Mistress."

A brusque nod from Vithia. "What does that tell you?"

"Well..." Remy took a moment to think it through. Mistress Vithia preferred a delayed response to a thoughtless one. "Not much. Marble's been used for statues quite a while. But it's worn, and buried, and probably not in one piece."

Remy looked at the statue, whose good eye was a blank expanse that seemed either blind or all-seeing. The Old Gods had often been depicted without iris or pupil; since, it had become synonymous of divine wisdom, given to rulers more often than not. Remy's eyes traced the vine climbing up the lopsided form, reaching out from the edge of the moss to cross the figure's narrow, hooked nose.

"I'd say that this is is a statue of Choraa Lunn, Mistress. And the people would be Phoellen."

Mistress Vithia paused, turning to face Remy. She smiled slyly. "You're getting harder and harder to stump, boy. But it wasn't Choraa Lunn, it was her great-grandaughter, Choraa Amee. Notice the pock above the temple; Amee had a scar there."

Looking again, Remy nodded. He'd first dismissed the flaw as damage from the years it had sat, but now that Vithia had mentioned it, it was too deep and too thin to have been accidental. A sigh escaped him.

"What's the matter?"

"I should have seen that," Remy said evenly. His face burned, as it always did when he did something foolish. He wished the feeling wasn't so familiar.

"Nonsense. You identified the people and the time. You were within fifty years, and it's been nearly six hundred since the people who made it were finished off."

"I suppose." Staring at his feet was easier than meeting his mistress's gaze. When Mistress Vithia started walking again, Remy followed, finally managing to bring his eyes to the pack on Vithia's back.

"I tell you, boy, you're far too hard on yourself."

Remy said nothing, plodding along in the unseasonable heat of the early autumn morning.

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