A Novel of Ethshar

The Spell of the Black Dagger

Outtakes: Miscellaneous Short Scenes

Welcome to outtakes from early drafts of The Spell of the Black Dagger that did not make it into the final version of the novel.

Here are several short bits I'd saved in my "outtakes" file, and to be honest, I don't know just where in the novel these are from. Scattered all through it, I assume.

     Kalthon the Younger smiled weakly from his sickbed. "I'm sorry, Sarai," he said. "I don't mean to cause any trouble."
     Lady Sarai smiled down at him in return, or tried to. "I know that, Kalli," she answered. "It's no trouble."
     "I know that's not true, but thank you for saying it." Kalthon coughed, and Sarai didn't wait for him to recover; she patted his hand and then left the room.
     She didn't dawdle in the other rooms of the family's apartments, but marched straight out into the main corridor and turned right. After four years as the overlord's investigator and her father's assistant she knew very well indeed where to find the magicians she wanted.
     The Palace -- no descriptive adjective was needed; in Ethshar of the Sands, only one place was the Palace -- was laid out in a square, the corners at the four cardinal points of the compass and a great dome covering most of it. On each side, however, was an added wing in the shape of a half-cylinder, flat side against the Palace proper, the semi-circular exterior facing out across the surrounding gardens toward Circle Street. The Minister of Justice had a generous apartment in the southeast wing

     There was a resemblance to Lady Sarai, certainly, beneath the darker skin and broader face; the eyes were familiar.
     "Is it really you?" she asked.
     "It's me," Sarai said. "We met in the Palace, in my office, and then we walked together from Mereth's shop to the Guildhouse, with Kelder of Tazmor. Would anyone else know that?"
     "They might," Alorria said, "But I don't know why anyone would bother, so I suppose it's really you. But it doesn't look like you."
     "I'm not supposed to," Sarai replied. "That's the whole idea."

     Which was still, Sarai thought, better than North Palace Street, which ran southwest and formed the border between Nightside and Brightside. Its name made sense when one realized that it ran more or less parallel to Palace Street, one block over, but that was hardly obvious.

      "You know," Deran remarked, "This was one of the easiest assignments I've ever had. I mean, I looked in the most obvious place, and there you were. And you didn't put up a fight or give me any argument. I appreciate that."
     Tolthar didn't answer; the other two soldiers exchanged amused glances.
     "No, really," Deran persisted. "A life in the guard isn't all silk and silver -- you know that, you used to be one of us. So I do appreciate it when someone makes it a bit easier on us. If there's any little thing I can do to make this easier on you, just say so -- it's only fair."

     That was a mistake; she very nearly got lost in the tangle of streets and alleyways that made up Northangle before she finally emerged onto Grand Street. Annoyed, she doubled back to Wizard Street, even though it meant going out of her way and passing Serem's house. Three long blocks on Wizard brought her to Gate Street, the avenue that wound its way through the entire length of the city, dividing it in half and connecting Grandgate Market to the Great Lighthouse at Landsend.
     Thus from Grandgate through Midway to Morningside, where she turned left onto South Street, then right onto a street with no name she knew, away from the shops and streetlights and into a quiet residential neighborhood, where fine houses lined either side of the street. Lintels and cornerposts were carved and painted, polished brass fittings gleamed on doors, shutters, and windows; walls were brick or stone, not plaster.

     A moment later she arrived at the foot of a grand staircase leading up to the Great Hall under the vast central dome; she turned aside, around the steps. The Grand Council Chamber lay directly under the Great Hall, and occupied almost as much floor space -- thicker walls, added pillars, and a small storeroom reduced it somewhat -- but with a sensible, conservative twelve-foot ceiling rather than the soaring hundred-and-fifty-foot dome.

     "Oh, is it?" Kelder smiled, and made a peculiar gesture -- Sarai supposed it was something Sardironese. "No one troubled to tell me that!"
     Alorria said, "They told me it belonged to someone named Lirrin."
     "Serem's apprentice," Sarai explained. "Tabaea killed Serem, and Lirrin inherited the place. And now the Guild has claimed it."

Click here to return to the top of the page. Return to top