I finished the final rewrite of my third book, Falling. Look for it on Dec. 1. Picture me wiping sweat from my brow. There are a couple of scenes I had to cut, and to say it is hard to do that is understating it. I wanted to cry. I like them. One of them I can use in a future book, I hope. But this one I can't. Frankly, I love Captain Dalt, and he doesn’t appear anywhere else in the book. I think this scene was just an excuse to write about him, not necessarily gorgeous Altan.
So I decided to share it with you. Enjoy!
Unused :( Scene from Falling: Adalta Vol III
Altan Me’Gerron heaved himself up another step on the narrow, rocky path. His horse trailed him, reins loose over Altan’s shoulder. A clatter of falling rocks sounded behind him, accompanied by soft cursing and a louder voice, “We could be flying. We could be flying over this goat trail. The horses could be down in that green valley stuffing themselves.”
“And you could talk a little louder and entertain the few sentries who haven’t heard your complaints yet.”
Captain Dalt snorted and laughed when Altan’s foot slipped. Another cascade of rocks rolled down the steep slope to their left, and Altan grabbed a protruding root to keep from rolling down and his horse rolling on top of him.
“I haven’t walked this far since I was twelve, herding my father’s goats over hills just like this. I swore I’d never do it again. Yet, here I am.” The voice came from a tiny woman in the uniform of a Mi’hiru, like the other two, wearing boots not made for walking steep rocky paths. Cerla turned her face to the sky. “And to make things even more perfect, the drizzle is starting again. If it turns to rain, and it probably will, we’ll be walking back down a torrent, not a path.”
Altan dropped to his knees, letting his horses’s reins fall. Dalt caught them before the horse could bolt. “We’re here.” Altan kept his voice low and cautious. “Dalt, find a wide enough place to tie the horses.”
When the other two crawled up beside him, they inched their way to the edge of the ridge. In the distance, spread out below the steep slope was the barricaded hold of Readen Me’Vere. Sentries walked a catwalk atop the high, wide stone walls. He could see most of the courtyard that filled the center space—with troopers sparring. He took a deep breath and let it out in a long, tight exhale. Not as many troopers as he'd feared to see. There were a few troops with Holder Me’Kammin’s maroon with two gold bands above the wrist. At least six wore Me’Mattik’s green with a bright red band on the upper arm.
Altan switched his focus to the long slope below him. Some of the taller trees had been felled, but too much brush had grown up in their place. His eyes flicked to the bright new wood of the gates. Taller now, triple thick and open. It would probably take three days to haul them closed. A long, double row of temporary barracks extended to the north of the hold, empty and waiting for the mercenaries from Akhara to arrive. Readen was vulnerable until they did, and it was a matter a month or less before they did.
He wiggled around, pulled a small notebook and graphite pencil out of an inner pocket of his waterproof coat and started making notes. “Spread out further along this ridge, you two. Look for sentries, possible traps, anything unusual or out of place. Points of possible attack. They cleared the big trees and now there's even more brush to hide in.”
“The whole excursion is dangerous and off our track.” Dalt’s voice was grumpy, but Altan knew he was grinning. This was the captain’s idea of fun. As long as it was dangerous, it was fun.
Altan looked up to see Kibrath, so high he was just a big dot with two smaller dots beside him moving in unison through the wispy, drippy cloud cover. ~You three have the best eyes of all of us. Tell me what you see.~
His head poked slightly over the edge of the flat rock he lay on. Dark wool cap pulled low, he wrote down everything he saw, everything the three Karda above relayed to him, and everything Dalt and Cerla reported. The shadow of the ridge where they hid spread its edge across the hold below. With the sun behind them, there was little danger of being spotted against its glare. But none of them wanted to climb back down the steep, rocky, and now slick, trail in the dark, so they slithered away, gathered up their horses, and headed back down the trail. It would be a long dangerous ride back to the Toldar forces’ encampment and the better part of a tenday before they reached the place Altan had picked for a base camp.
Daryl had to know how vulnerable Readen's hold was. It was past time to capture him again. And this time make sure he couldn't escape. Altan might be able to persuade him to act, but he'd never persuade him to kill Readen. Altan could, but as guardian heir to neighboring Toldar, it would be an act of war. Damn.