A Novel of Ethshar

The Spell of the Black Dagger

An Outtake: Rabble in Arms

Welcome to a section I wrote in an early draft of The Spell of the Black Dagger, then cut before sending it off to the publisher.

I'm not 100% certain, but I believe this is the original opening to Chapter Twenty-Four. The guard attempted to arrest Tabaea the Thief, who responded by stirring up a mob that's marching on the Palace.

     "Where's the guard?" Captain Tikri demanded fretfully. "Where's the damned guard?"
     "Mostly asleep in their barracks, probably," Teneria answered.
     "Well, wake them up! Call Lord Torrut! Get them out here to stop her!"
     Teneria shook her head. "I don't think you want to do that," she said.
     "Why in the World not?" Tikri demanded.
     "Because if you call out the guard to stop her, you're going to wind up with a lot of dead people, including a good many guardsmen. Some of the ones who don't get killed will switch sides, and some of the others will just desert."
     Tikri stared at her, then turned to the others. Tobas shrugged; Karanissa said, "I think she's right. Teneria's better than I am at sensing moods, but I don't feel anything out there that contradicts what she says."
     "That's ridiculous," Tikri said. "We're fighting one woman and a few dozen beggars from the Wall Street Field! The city guard will disperse them in five minutes!"
     Teneria shook her head.
     "You're fighting magic," she said.
     Karanissa nodded. "One of your soldiers ran a sword right through this Tabaea, and it didn't even slow her down."
     "It's not a soldier's job to fight magic," Lady Sarai reluctantly agreed. "That's what magicians are for. If you ask a soldier to stop someone who can't be killed with a sword, you're going to get either a dead soldier or a deserter."
     "We have ten thousand soldiers!"
     "Doesn't matter," Lady Sarai said. "Not if a blade can't hurt her. Besides, we don't really have ten thousand, anyway; go talk to the Lord Treasurer sometime about what the city guard costs. There have been cuts. We might still have eight thousand, but I doubt it."
     "Eight thousand to one still sounds like enough!"
     "Not against this magic of hers."
     "Then just what the hell are we supposed to do?" Tikri bellowed.
     "Frankly," Lady Sarai said, "I think the best thing to do is to just get out of her way until the magicians can figure out her magic and find a way to kill her."
     "That may take quite some time," Karanissa warned.
     "You're all mad," Tikri said. "I'm going to talk to Lord Torrut." He stamped toward the door.
     Teneria, standing by the door, looked at Lady Sarai, who shook her head. "Let him go," she said. "It's up to Lord Torrut; he's the commander of the guard. And Captain Tikri's right, in a way -- it's the guard's duty to try to defend the Palace and the overlord. It won't work, but they probably need to try."
     "Well, thank you so very much, Lady Sarai!" Tikri said. He shoved rudely past Teneria, and was gone.