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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Alfred Deleted Scene: The Crusade

My cousin and I have been working our tails off prepping Alfred Shortstaff and the Cavern of Time for publication after almost ten years of writing and editing and development hell. This was a scene that I wrote describing an event canonical to Argaenothruzil history, which was included in the original draft. However, we couldn't make it work with the way the story turned out, so we had to cut it. Still, I like the way the prose turned out, and it's been a while since I was able to explore the Argae universe since it died months ago. So, for your reading enjoyment, here is the cut prologue of Alfred Shortstaff.

* * *

King Donathan of Ae’brinthil raised his sweaty head from the cot. Immediately two healers rushed to his side. He winced as burning pain radiated from two cuts across his bandaged chest.
“Lie back down, your majesty,” said one of the healers, placing a wet cloth to the king’s forehead.
“Did we… are they gone?” Donathan mumbled, his curly brown hair matted with sweat and blood.
“We don’t know yet, Your Highness. You must rest.”
At that moment, Donathan heard the clinking of armor as a man ran to the door of the tent and slipped inside. “Your Majesty!” said the man. Donathan looked up blearily. He recognized the voice of his civil elf lieutenant.
“Are they gone, Gryar?”
“Yes, my liege! The fiends have been banished, every last one of them! Are you well enough to announce it to the troops?”
“No,” said one of the healers, stepping between the two men. “Can you do it in his place, sir? The king is still recovering. The demons’ fel blades have wounded him, and we need to get one of the priesthood here to—”
“I’m fine,” said Donathan, his heart taking courage. “Just help me up.”
“Your Highness, I must protest. Those wounds need to—”
“I said help me up. That’s a command by order of the king. Or a decree, or whatever pleases you,” said Donathan, looking the healer in the eyes. Whatever the healer saw made him yield. The two healers helped him to his feet, and Gryan placed the king’s crown on Donathan’s sweaty brow. The burning on his chest made him want to wince, but he focused his mind on the truth at hand. The fiends were gone. They had won. The crusade was over.
The men helped the king limp out of the tent into the open air. The smells of blood and sulfur hung heavy in the air. Though Orovion was in a tropical part of Argaenothruzil, the sky was dark, and the cold wind bit into Donathan’s sweaty face like icicles.
They made their way past dozens of other tents, the sounds of moaning coming from some of them. “Stop,” said Donathan. “I wish to announce it here first. To the wounded and dying.”
“As you wish, sire,” said Gryan. They were near the center of the camp, and all of the healing tents would likely be able to hear him from here. He helped the king up onto the back of a cart. It was as good a platform as any other for now.
The king stood proudly, though he was out of breath, and Gryan gave him a singed banner to prop himself up on. To his surprise, however, the king merely lifted the banner aloft and spoke in a booming voice that echoed across the camp.
“Hear me, my brave men. It is finished! The demons have been confirmed banished back to the Dungeon Realm from whence they came! The sacrifice of each one of you has brought this victory for us this day. Not one of you has fought without injury, and I count myself among you. The sting of the fiends’ blades burns hot across my breast, but just like the demons have faded from this realm’s reality, so too will all your pain.
“I say to each of you courageous warriors: live! Do not succumb to oblivion. Live on, and tell your children and grandchildren of this day! Let the victory sink into your hearts. The fight is over. The fiends have lost. The hopelessness and dread of the last year is nothing more than a memory now.”
Heads began poking out of tents, and healers in their white garb began leading the wounded from their tents to watch the spectacle in the middle of camp. Donathan stood in majesty in the midst of them, his silvery armor sliced in two places on his chest, his hair matted, his cape torn, but his crown bright.
“This is not a victory of Ae’brinthil, nor is it one of Orovion, nor yet of Argaenothruzil itself. This is a victory of light! The gods have made us a sword in their hands, and have severed the arms of the Other Three from the world. No longer will we fear the onslaught of demons! Together, we have banished them from this realm, and there they will stay! Let Third Generation, year one thousand twenty-eight, be a date remembered by future generations as the Year of the Final Crusade!”

Cheers erupted from all around the camps. Gryan was astonished at the vigor that came from dying men, elves, dwarves and halflings from all sides. Donathan raised the banner higher. Its image was that of a half-circle of six white stars on a yellow field. Gryan joined his cheers with those of everyone else. He wouldn’t have to worry about the world ending for quite a while. It was a good feeling.

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