You all remember Rachel O'Laughlin, who visited YA Guy last year to talk about her debut YA fantasy COLDNESS OF MAREK? Well, Rachel's back, this time with the sequel and second book in the Serengard series, KNIGHTS OF RILCH! Rachel's provided a deleted scene from her new book, plus a discussion of why she deleted it, which I thought offers some really cool insight into the writing process. And if you scroll to the end of the post, you'll also find a great Rafflecopter contest!
So, take it away, Rachel! (Ooh, bad pun!)
This scene was originally attached to Chapter 9, but I ended up cutting it for two reasons. One, it was long and rambly and was slowing down the action. Two, it gave a little more info on past Orion reigns and the Drei military than was necessary at that point, so it felt like an info-dump. After taking it out, the scene where Ric gets drunk in Chapter 13 had so much more snap, and Kierstaz gets to react to Ric’s remarks about Queen Izannah in her own scene, which I like far better.
They made a warm camp that night in a circular manner, just beyond a ridge in a glen, east of the river. Their number was just above five and twenty, if one included the armor bearers. Ric could not shake the feeling that he was the only man among them who was truly prepared for a war--perhaps even the only one who knew what it looked like.
I hope winter comes slow…and mild.
As soon as sparks hit the dried grass for the evening fire, Ric started in on them. “Anyone here ever been inside the borders of Dreibourge?”
One of the sons of Romianz--the shorter one--answered. “I have.”
“And you are?”
Ric held a cup over the fire, although there was nothing hot enough to warm the liquid yet. “What did you see there?”
Tofer rubbed his hands together in spite of the mild weather. “I saw one of their steep, rounded castles built into a mountain stream bed. Didn’t get to go inside, but I met two of the knights of the Class of Stealth. Very pretty architecture. Not as strong as ours, small, and I don’t know how you’d defend such a thing.”
“It does not need to be as strong as ours,” Ric snorted. “They are more cunning warriors than we.”
Zven, Tofer’s twin, said, “Our people have always been taller. Better built.”
“You are Border Guard. You should know the Drei have the mind for war. Our people are farmers, mostly.” Ric attracted a glare from Mikel but no other warnings, so he continued. “They move with a hard, cold logic; not with the sentimentality of the Seren. Today they come to seize a stronger defensive position against whoever emerges victor in Serengard. They won’t stop until they’ve secured the border castles.”
Ric looked at Mikel, hoping his message was clear. Once you have what is left of the Guard, what then? You will fight the Drei sooner or later if you attempt to hold that border.
Mikel turned away, fingering the clasps of his wrist guards, his armor bearer planted firmly next to him. Ric let his lips curl in amusement. That boy had not been at Ashlin--at least, not with Mikel. Wherever he got his cuts, they were fresher than the battle. The armor bearer saw Ric staring, walked away from Mikel and closer to the twins of Romianz. Tofer raised an eyebrow and settled down next to the fire.
“You’ve a story or two, haven’t you? How do you know much about the Drei?” Tofer prodded.
Ric smiled. “Stories are for nights colder than this one.” But no one else was speaking, so he might as well ramble. “The Drei wish to be one step ahead, to force Kovim to fall back from the border. If they hold that, they’ll have an edge on him. We share an enemy, for now.”
Tofer shrugged. “Are you saying we should back down and let them?”
“I am saying we should consider. The Seren people are burning bridges with friends of peace faster than Altrun Orion did in his day. We may be the saviors--Izannah’s warriors, as the songs say--if only because we’ll meet the same fate.” Ric saw a dark glimmer of recognition between the armor bearer and himself. “You’ve a home in Ashlin, boy?” Ric asked.
The boy looked away.
Ric tipped his head, tried to see the face beneath the helmet. “Did the mob kill your family?” There was no gentle way to ask it.
Zven interrupted, “I think he’s an orphan.”
Ric narrowed his eyes. No, that wasn’t it.
Tofer cleared his throat as if something made him uncomfortable. “I’ve not heard a song of Izannah’s warriors. Not painted in a goodly light.”
The fire was beginning to warm. More of the men slowly removed armor and came closer. Ric would have scoffed at them for following Mikel were he not doing so himself. Perhaps he did it for an old friend.
“Queen Izannah employed a picked force of sport fighters, fresh and angry, an idea borrowed from the Elloyans.” Ric picked at the dirt with a stick. “Her warriors went after the new nobles, brought them in to speak for their crimes against their neighbors, and she sent them as emissaries to those King Altrun had turned against us. Most of them were never seen again. But after that Queen Izannah had enough support to reinstate the Castle Guard and the Border Guard. She preserved Ashlin as the brilliant city we have enjoyed, teeming with life commerce. Although you probably do not remember a day before the unrest of thousands of politicals again brought discontent to the streets.”
Tofer shook his head. He looked annoyed. “I have always lived at the border, and it is a mystery why Queen Izannah needed warriors at all. She hadn’t an armed enemy.”
Ric glanced about him, looking for a face forty years or older, but there were none. “Has your generation not learned a coin’s worth of history?”
“My father tells it differently, as do the trainers of the knights.”
“Before the reign of Altrun, industry was in a boom, trade agreements were seamless. The common folk worked for themselves and for the Kymsai, and the Orion monarchy did little but duel the occasional thief. I say Altrun merely wanted to be remembered, and no one is remembered for keeping the peace the way Allel intended.”
Mikel’s armor bearer shifted, and Ric looked up sharply. Just in time to catch a heavy smirk.
Ric shifted. “Why do you laugh at me?”
The armor bearer just shrugged again. Maybe he was mute, unable to speak.
Zven again had suggestions. “He laughs because you are such a poet?”
Tofer slid a leg out toward the fire and turned so that he was between Ric and the armor bearer. “No Orion would seek to destroy his own rule,” Tofer insisted.
“He did not intend to, surely. Altrun told every man to go to war for himself, to stake his claim on any land he wanted, produce anything he chose, hold any slaves he could, just as Kovim does now. I wonder myself whether he was truly mad.”
Again the armor bearer smirked at him.
“But it was no disaster,” Tofer argued. “As long as an Orion remains on the throne, the fields will produce and the rain will come. A new class of nobles built themselves in the days of Altrun--any who could afford a guard of their own built one. They overthrew some of the Kymsai who had owned property for generations. It was a time of freedom, it is said. Then Queen Izannah reversed what had been gained.”
“Your father tells you this?” Ric snorted.
“Altrun is seen as a hero by everyone.”
Ric knew that, but it was a surprise in the son of Romianz. Ric had assumed the older of the Guard--those who had held rank for generations--would be as dedicated to the rule of Orion as he had been raised to be.
Petrolai, I guess I am all there is.
Ric scuffed at the dirt. “For true, Tofer, I was not there. I’ve been told by those who were that our land was riddled with fright and darkness for thirty years. The reinstated treaties with the Drei and mountain people were, I’ll grant you, flawed--but generally agreed to be better than Altrun’s anarchy.”
Tofer grinned. “All right, old man.”
Ric laughed. “Who you calling old?”
“I just said, I agree with you. Izannah’s warriors were necessary.”
“You bend like a reed, boy. Ciar speaks one mind, Ashlin speaks another. Hold your head up and tell me the world through your own eyes.”
Tofer shrugged. “You said Altrun was mad.”
Ric sobered, distracted by his own thoughts. He remembered being told as a boy that someday Serengard would erupt from within. They would throw off Orion rule simply because they were tired and wanted a change. There was always the promise of something better, something cleaner and purer than what one already had, if they could just find someone to blame and kill said someone. “But we have not met him,” he mumbled to Tofer. “And will never know how mad he could have become.”
© Copyright 2013 by Rachel O’Laughlin
About Knights of Rilch:
When Serengard rebelled and the Orion monarchy fell, former crown princess Kierstaz Orion’s love for her people became a burning desire to set things right. With a price on their heads, Kierstaz and her brother Mikel led a handful of men against the new army, fighting skirmishes all along the border of Dreibourge. But months of heavy bloodshed forced her small band of knights to abandon the border--and all of Serengard--to the rebels.
Nine years and a thousand betrayals later, Kierstaz and Mikel again find themselves on the run--only this time, they’ve a boy in tow: Malcom, the son of two of the Seren rebellion’s strongest leaders. The new regime wants him dead, Mikel wants him alive, and it’s all Kierstaz can do to keep their tracks covered. Desperate to preserve the innocent life she swore to protect and the brother who has always stood by her, Kierstaz must gamble the last thing in the world she owns: her identity. Secrets are a staple of the Orion family, and those Kierstaz keeps are as dangerous as the ones kept from her.
KNIGHTS OF RILCH is the sequel to COLDNESS OF MAREK, and the second book in the SERENGARD Series.
Rachel O’Laughlin grew up writing adventure stories in which heroines tend to get their hands dirty, bad guys sometimes win, and someone always gets kidnapped. Her passion for history morphed into a love for fantasy in her mid-teens, when she took a brief pause from reality for immersion in the arts and a hands-on education in sustainable living. She lives in New England with her husband and two boys, listens to The Fray, and drinks too many lattes. Two novels in her SERENGARD fantasy series have been released, and a third is scheduled for October 2014.
Buy on Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/
Author Website: http://rachelolaughlin.com