Books: river secrets
  Deleted scenes

More deleted scenes! Most of these I cut for pacing reasons. I wanted this book as tight as possible, so I ended up cutting loads of stuff. These are the cut scenes that might be most accessible. If you haven't read the book, I wouldn't look at these as there are many spoilers.



[On the journey south]

“All camp, load up!” Talone yelled.

Megina passed behind Razo to fetch her horse, tethered beside his own.

“It’s about time,” she muttered.

“Sorry, my lady?” Razo was not sure if she spoke to him.

“Your captain,” she said. “We’ll be tardy for meeting the Tiran escort at the border the way he’s running the march.”

“Maybe,” said Razo, continuing to brush his mount’s neck so the ambassador could not see irritation. Bee Sting went slack jawed with pleasure and began to drool. “But this isn’t the first time he’s captained an escort. When Queen Isi first came to Bayern, half her guard rebelled, massacring the rest. Captain Talone took a sword in his gut defending her and survived, barely. He escaped and took another sword in the shoulder protecting her again. I don’t know, maybe he’s extra cautious, because of all that.”

“I didn’t know that story,” said Megina.

“It’s a good one, I think.”

The lady did not argue.


[Summer in Ingridan, soldiers talking over breakfast]

Razo listened to their stories of heat, each one trying to best the others.

“I lit a candle by pressing the wick on a street stone.”

“I saw an egg roll from its nest into a puddle. At lunchtime I cracked it open and ate it with a fork.”

“I once saw the sun chasing a man down the street so that he never could set a foot in shade.”


[Summer of the Prince, Razo begins to go around with the prince of Tira]

As they climbed into carriages to return to the palace, the prince confided in him, “If you had turned out to be boring, I was going to feign sleepiness and get rid of you, but you laughed at that dancing monkey, which I also thought was the most amusing thing we’d seen all day, and so, you may join me at the music hall tonight.”

After sundown when the heat was too slick with darkness to stick to their skin, Razo followed the prince’s entourage through the heart and into the stone music hall. He stepped inside and felt pleasantly dizzy. The brilliantly white walls were curved, the ceiling domed.

“I feel like the man inside the moon,” said Razo with more breath than voice.

“Who?” asked the prince.

“There’s a tale, maybe it’s just a Bayern one, of the man who lives inside the full moon with his wolf and owl. Right now, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear a ‘who, who’ and a howl.”

The prince gave him a chummy type of smile. “Wait until you hear it.”

The prince was right; the sound was even better than the sight, as the calls of each instrument bounced off the round walls, touching Razo even as it touch every point in the room. They returned the next night, and the next, and then when Razo expressed some interest in what the Ingridan theater was like, they were off to a play much more elaborate than the silly pageants at Bayern festivals, with costumes and lanterns and single stories that lasted longer than a banquet. The words the actors spoke sounded precise and urgent, unlike any words Razo had ever heard, more akin to music than conversation, and made him feel as though he were floating.

As they left the theater, the prince chatting like a dawn bird about the play, Razo watched how the people’s smiles for their prince adjusted into glowers when their eyes slid over the Bayern boy. His fingers twitched over his sling.

And so for days, Razo joined the prince’s Wasking companions. They horseback beside the prince’s litter down to the docks, where his radiance loved to watch the Wasking ships with their high, brown sails, and idled through the hundreds of shops around the heart, the prince charming smiles out of shop girls.

Why shouldn’t he be able to marry for love? Razo wondered, looking around the market as if in hopes of finding the poor man a nice wife.


[Summer of the Prince, an earlier version of Razo's attack]

a scabby group of men began to gather. The prince was repeating stories Razo had told him, making a group of twenty revelers guffaw. Razo felt drunk with food and no sleep, and it took him too long to notice the wildness in their eyes.

“Uh-oh.” Razo fumbled for his sling.

Too late. The men growled as they attacked. They were giddy and drunk and thrashed their assault, knocking tables over upturning chairs. Someone screamed. Two of them leaned into Razo, pinning his sword to his side. One fell and stayed there, holding Razo’s feet to the ground. Another put hands around Razo’s throat. There was no explanation. They were just going to kill him.

As Razo’s breathing broke, soft black shapes crumbled around the edge of everything, and Razo wondered if he’d been wrong again, if the prince really was…

“Stop!” said the prince.

The hands relaxed, and Razo’s breath screamed back into his lungs.

“This is one of those Bayern.” The attacker’s voice was taut with anger. “They killed us, they killed lots of us.”

“He is my friend,” said the prince. He was standing, but he did not move forward, made no aggressive gesture. He appeared almost relaxed.

The man considered, then shook his head. His hand squeezed air out of Razo.

“I said, he is my friend!” The prince spoke with urgency now, looking around at the people. There was the barest hesitation, a trembling of indecision, and then the crowd sprang.

“Get your hands off!”

“What do you think, attacking the prince’s friend?”

“Foul, stinking lesions calling yourselves men. You shame us.”

It did not take much pummeling to subdue the attackers—a few shoves, a couple of throws, and they ran off, save one who stayed on the ground, holding a hand to a kicked knee and saying “Owie, owie.” Razo had not thrown a single punch, but he slumped at the table, exhausted.


[end of the summer]

Razo had not visited the prince’s apartments since the feast of peaches, where tradition demanded masters and servants switch places. He’d helped the prince run around his chamber, laughing while serving the Wasking cold peaches, bread and cheese. Nom particularly had enjoyed the day, dawdling on pillows, wrapping himself from head to toe in purple and green, and shouting in a pinched voice, “I must have more strawberries! Out of season? Nonsense!”


[Just after the assassins' attack on Megina in the Assembly, Talone takes charge]

“What do you do with assassins?” Talone knelt on the assassin’s chest. His voice was full of the command of a king. “Tell me, chief of assembly, do we await a trial for those of obvious guilt and offer your lawyers a chance to free them? Or are their lives forfeit?”

Razo guessed why Talone had made his request now, before the heat of that battle had time to dissipate. The prince had said once that citizens of Ingridan loved a good debate more than they loved truth. If this man was allowed a trial, what would a lawyer present as his defense? That he was only attacking an enemy, that Tira was still at war and any Bayern should be considered invaders?

He watched the faces of the assembly members, grieved that this decision appeared to trouble them. Treating him lightly would send a clear message to all in Ingridan that the assembly supported violent opposition against the Bayern, and if that happened, Razo did not believe the best slinger Finn ever saw would make it back home alive.

The chief of assembly entered the speaking circle. “This assembly is disgraced after we, the voices of Tira, have declared the war at rest. I demand that we lend no credence to these villains’ depraved actions. They deserve no trial. I declare their lives forfeit. What say the voice of the assembly?”

Ripples of white cloth shook the room as members sat, some emphatic, some slow and deliberate. Razo held his breath as he counted those still standing. A majority. They would not return to war today.

“Then I require their lives be spared for a time so I may question them,” said Talone.


[After the prince makes known his intentions toward Dasha, Razo finds an opportunity to talk to Enna. This I had to cut due to timeline inconsistencies.]

“So, Enna, you write much to Isi back home?” Razo winced at how sudden and awkward the question sounded, and then tried to make the wince go away before Enna noticed.

“Yes, whenever a trade ship sails north. Why?”

“I was just wondering if you’d mention something to her, it’s no big deal.” He scraped dribbled wax off her dressing table with his fingernail. “Just something the prince mentioned that you could mention to her, if you thought to mention it. Just that he’s interested in getting married.”

“He’s not the only one,” said Finn.

Enna threw a pillow at his head without looking. “And?” she asked Razo.

“Just that he thought it might improve Tiran opinion of us if he married someone connected to Bayern. It’d have to be someone noble, I guess…wondering if she has any ideas…of someone not Tiran…” He ended with a shrug.

“Sure, I’ll write her,” said Enna, “though I don’t know why you’re being so odd.”

“I’m not being odd.”

“Razo, have I ever told you that your face is so obvious a—?”

“A blind mole knows when I’m frowning, I know.”


[In the final warehouse fight when things are going badly for him, Razo contemplates death.]

He had faced his own death before. Many more times than he felt comfortable acknowledging, in fact. There had been that first time he had killed, four years before, when he had been defending Isi from one of her treacherous would-be guards. He imagined a kind of burn sometimes on his right palm, as though he were still firing that javelin. It had not been a pleasant sensation.

Then there had been the war—two battles, three skirmishes. He had killed then, too. And he had been a prisoner in a war camp for weeks, beaten, half-starved, threatened with slaughter every morning. That, too, had been no lark, though the scars were nice souvenirs.

And then, of course, his fall into the river with Dasha and the general hassle since he’d arrived in Tira, knowing that half of the citizenry would deem it a public service to cut his throat.

That’s a lot of near-deaths, he thought, piling them up in his mind with a murmur of satisfaction.

Still, none of them had felt as real or absolute as the death that right now panted its hot breath on his neck. The other times he’d had a weapon, at least, or a running chance. Even as a war prisoner, his captors had reason to keep him alive. Not Ledel.

Talone had said Razo’s gift was for observation. Just then, he wished for a little less of it. Eagerness had crinkled in the corners of Ledel’s eyes when he talked of burning them. Dealing death was clearly all business to him, but wonderful business, something he enjoyed sinking his teeth into. And Razo had no doubt that the warrior was very good at dealing it.

He felt surprisingly calm about it, though perhaps a little angry. And a bit impatient to have it done already. He was not looking forward to the burning bit, and he did not like to think that Dasha would see him die or that she would go herself. There would be some benefits—paradise, where the pigs run around already roasted. It had to be true. To deny him that one good thing would be too cruel.

I’m ready, he thought. I’m a warrior and warriors die in battle. This’s the life I chose. I’m ready, ready, ready. Then he thought of his ma and his throat tightened. He thought of his sister Rin and his vision misted. He cursed under his breath. I said I was ready!


[Final warehouse fight, Razo takes on a solider--slowed down the pacing too much]

“Thstop it!” the big soldier shouted, wiping water from his eyes. When he saw Dasha, standing in the rain like a river willow, her arms bent and dripping, he pulled a dagger from his boot and threw.

All in an instant, Razo shouted and leapt up, too far away. The dagger spun out the door, blurring a line from the soldier’s hand toward Dasha’s belly. But in front of her, the falling rain merged, thickened. With a splash, the dagger hit water, its course leaned to the right, and it skimmed past her before plunking to earth.

The soldier cursed, his body lunged forward.

Razo dove for the man, knocking him to the ground before he could get to Dasha. He heard the soldier’s breath leave him with a cracked cough. Moving fast to keep the advantage, Razo kneed him in the back, put his arms beneath his, and locked his fingers behind the man’s neck. A perfect hangman’s hold.

“Ha-ha!” said Razo.

“Get back, Razo!” Enna trembled with the concentration it took to push back the burners’ attacks. “I can’t protect you when you’re so close to him.”

Searing pain burst into him, and he trembled not to let go, but an instant later steam clawed the air, his tunic was soaked, Dasha’s water cooling the fire. He craned his head under his arm and saw her, silver in the rain, fingers moving as though caressing raindrops as they fell. He could not make out her face.

“Dasha, are you all—?”

Another attack from his prisoner scorched his question short, but water quickly rolled over him, washing the heat away. A third time heat flared, but now it felt half dead. The soldier cursed in frustration as his attack diminished to a tiny sting like a biting fly on Razo’s chest.

“Enna, I think this one’s out of sparks,” said Razo.

He stayed crouched on the ground holding his prisoner and watched Enna battle the other two, their wind and fire colliding in the air.


[Final warehouse fight, after Dasha finishes up using water against the soldiers]

“How do you feel?” he asked.

“Stripped. Half gone.” She looked up into the clouds. “I have never done so much. The rain whispered to me, gave me ideas. I was not thinking, just doing. I…” She started to cry.

He squeezed her tighter, trying to hold all of her together. “But you don’t want to throw yourself into the river. Right? That’s good, I think.”

She laughed. It was chilled, yet carried the sense of her natural self. “Yes, generally, I’d say that was a pretty good sign.”


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