Deleted Scenes – Here’s a SEA KING deleted scenePosted
I was asked this past weekend at the Coastal Magic Convention if I ever share deleted scenes. I typically don’t. I keep every word I’ve written (I keep thinking I’ll repurpose them), but mostly that’s a trick I employ to fool my brain into thinking I haven’t cut words from a book. (My brain thinks ALL those words should STAY! LOL!) But here’s a scene I wrote for THE SEA KING that I ended up cutting due to manuscript length and also to keep the focus on Gabriella’s situation rather than diverting attention to Autumn.
I had a lot of fun writing this scene where Gabriella works her “Sweet Summer” magic on the Verminous Vermese. Hope you enjoy!
(c) Copyright 2017, C.L. Wilson, all rights reserved.
Konumarr Palace, Wintercraig
“You are a fool, sir! His Supreme Greatness, Korin beda Kahn, Maak of Verma and Cho, and Soliph of the Seventh Sea has made an offer of unprecedented generosity, gifts even the gods themselves would find worthy. Yet you, with so casual a disregard for the great honor and the hand of friendship the Great Maak extends to you, dismiss his generosity out of hand? You will regret your short-sightedness! Such an offer will never come again!” Shaking with rage, Ambassador Galil beda Turat, envoy from one of the most powerful rulers in all of Mystral, whipped the edges of his red silk lined cloak around his lean body, whirled on his mirror-polished boot heels, and stalked out of the throne room of Wintercraig’s summer palace.
He stormed down the hall, and nearly plowed down two, exquisitely gowned, dark-skinned beauties as he rounded a blind corner. Recognizing them as two of the beautiful princesses known as the Seasons of Summerlea, he drew his body up in a stiff line and sketched a bow so curt it bordered on rudeness.
“Princheskas,” he bit out. The Seasons were the eldest three daughters of the late King Verdan of Summerlea’s four daughters. The fourth and youngest daughter, the one most of the world hadn’t even known existed until last year, was now Queen Khamsin of Wintercraig, wife of the ingrate who’d just summarily dismissed the greatest proposed marriage contract offered in the history of all Mystral.
Galil settled his fierce glare on the two black-haired Seasons, Spring and Summer. “Your king is a fool,” he spat. Fury boiled inside him. Back in Verma, he would not have deigned to speak to the females of his host’s household directly, but this was Wintercraig. The women here walked about freely, unveiled and unescorted, bold-eyed, and bold-tongued, even to the point of speaking without permission in the presence of men! As if women were equals to men! When every who had an ounce of common sense could plainly see that man, by Fortanu’s great design, been created to rule over woman. “Your sister Autumn could have been Maakina of the richest lands in Mystral, Solipha of the Seventh Sea. The Maak would have clothed her in diamonds, set the crown of an empire upon her head, laid the world at her feet. Instead, your king kicks sand in the great Maak’s face.”
The two black-haired, dark-skinned princesses—whose Summerlander warmth seemed so out of place in this cold land of golden-skinned, pale-haired folk—exchanged a look. The armed Wintercraig guards standing at the door to the throne room started towards the three of them, their faces hard, eyes flat.
The taller of the two princesses, the one called Spring, waved the guards off, and addressed Galil directly. “I take it Autumn has refused the Maak’s offer of marriage again?”
Gail drew in a sharp breath. The word “again” was a slap in the face, an inhospitably rude reference to the fact that this refusal marked the tenth time Maak Korin’s marriage contract had been spurned—as it had been every year since the Princess Autumn had turned a properly marriageable thirteen. She was almost twenty-three now. Past her prime child-bearing years, but her beauty was still so enchanting the Maak was mad to claim her. So much so that in his latest offer, he’d even vowed to dispossess his other forty wives, to set Autumn Coruscate above them as his Maakina, his first wife and empress of his many lands.
As insulting as the reference to this being the tenth refusal was, however, that was not the reason Princess Spring’s remark made blood rush to Galil’s head until he thought his skull might explode.
No, it was much worse than that.
For ten years, Vermese ambassadors had made the annual voyage to the Æsir Isles—first to Summerlea and now to Wintercraig—to present their Maak’s generous marriage contract to the king who ruled Autumn Coruscate. For ten years, those ambassadors had been turned away.
But this was the first time, in all those years, that anyone had ever dared suggest that the person refusing Maak Korin’s proposals was Autumn Coruscate herself.
“She has refused?” The Vermese envoy hissed, his hair all but standing on end. “She?” He bared his teeth at the two princesses with such fury and outrage that the guards leapt forward again, this time shoving themselves between Galil and the Seasons.
Surely, Galil thought, I cannot have heard right.
He spoke Eru, the common tongue, as did all inhabitants of Mystral, but his Vermese accent was much different than that of a Summerlander or one of the Winterfolk. It was possible he had misunderstood Princess Spring’s meaning. Surely, that was the case….
“You are not suggesting…” His voice trailed off. “You cannot mean…“ The insult was too grievous. He could barely bring himself to even think such an abomination, let alone give it voice.
He sucked down a deep breath, mustered his will, and forced himself to ask the unthinkable.
“Are you saying a woman has refused the Maak? Your sister?” His voice rose. His whole body flushed hot with rage. “Wintercraig’s king has allowed the Maak to be scorned by a female?”
“Step back, please, sir,” one of the guards instructed. His words were polite. His tone was a granite brick, hard and unyielding.
“Step. Back. Now,” the other guard bit out. And where his partner’s tone had been granite, this guard’s command was a sharp, unsheathed blade. There was no missing the threat.
“This insult will not be borne!” Galil shouted. “His Supreme Greatness, the Maak Korin beda Kahn has treated with you with all honor and generosity. And you repay him with indignity? You grant power over his proposal to a woman?”
“Your Excellence, please, calm yourself, I beg you.” Princess Summer spoke soothingly from behind the protective shield of her guards.
At the sound of her voice, the terrible rage boiling inside Galil’s skin began to cool. Now here was a proper woman, gentle, soft, yielding in all the right ways. Summer Coruscate, the second of the late King Verdan of Summerlea’s three daughters known as the Seasons, would never think to set herself above a man. She would never try to rule the gender born to be her rulers.
“Gunter, Lod, step aside, please.” The princess laid gentle hands on the arms of the two White Guards. Though their flinty eyes remained fixed on the Vermese envoy, the two guards parted and allowed Summer to step between them.
She was a beauty, Galil noted. Not as breathtakingly stunning as her more exotic younger sister, the auburn-haired, purple-eyed Autumn—who for years had been celebrated as the most beautiful woman in all of Mystral—but still quite lovely. Soft, black curls, gentle eyes as blue as a summer sky, a pleasing feminine way about her, modest and reserved. Yes, she wandered Konumarr Palace freely and spoke without permission, but that unmannerly boldness could easily be trained out of her. Just looking at her, at her soft, dark beauty, the lovely, deep calm of her eyes, just hearing the fragile timbre of her voice, Galil could tell that Summer Coruscate possessed a pleasing, natural subservience that would appeal to even the most demanding of Vermese men.
“Ambassador Galil, please, forgive my sister. Spring would not have spoken had she known her words would give you such offense. And there is no cause for it. Regardless of Autumn’s desires, the ultimate decision about whom a princess will wed lies with our king, as it does in most monarchies. Even though the ways of Wintercraig as so much different than those of Verma and Cho, you cannot believe that King Wynter would cede his authority on so important a matter?”
She sounded so sincere and distressed. Perhaps he had misunderstood after all. “I would not wish to think so, no,” he conceded with a scowl. “Even so, the Great Maak’s offer—a gift of such unsurpassed generosity its like has never been seen before nor ever will again—has been refused. Refused!” His outrage began to ramp up again, quickly gaining steam.
Princess Summer reached out a slender hand as if to lay it upon his arm, then caught herself just before her fingers touched him. She snatched her hand back. Her cheeks flushed a charming rosy color, and her thick lashes swept down to veil her sky blue eyes in a show of feminine modesty that leeched his anger even further. It pleased him that she had reached for him in clear appeal. It pleased him more that she had remembered her place and had a strong enough natural sense of feminine propriety despite her upbringing to be embarrassed by her untoward boldness.
“Forgive me, Your Excellency, but I’m sure you know of the events of this past winter?”
Stiffly, he replied, “I do.” After Wintercraig’s king had conquered his southern neighbor, Summerlea, Falcon, the former prince of Summerlea, had raised an army and hired fleets of Calbernan mercenaries to mount an invasion of the Æsir Isles with the goal of retaking Summerlea and conquering Wintercraig. They might have succeeded had not the Calbernans switched sides in mid-invasion to fight an army of Frost Giants and ferocious wolf-like monsters called garm. The particulars of the final battle were still unclear, with each whispered claim more fantastical than the last. Some claimed the Ice God, Rorjak, had returned only to be defeated by the combined armies of Wintercraig, Summerlea, and Calberna. Others claimed that a traitor in Wintercraig had tried to defeat Wynter and claim his crown for themselves. While still others claimed that Queen Khamsin had personally led an army into battle to aid her husband. Which, of course, was ridiculous.
Though, granted, it was conceivable that the Calbernans would have followed a woman into battle. The blue-tattooed islanders lived in an upside down society where their warriors actually submitted to the rule of their women—their land a queendom rather than a kingdom, their family Houses traced through the maternal line, with daughters the heirs instead of sons. Galil and His Supreme Greatness Maak Korin would like nothing more than to see Calberna swallowed by the sea, their blasphemous culture eradicated for all eternity, but the Calbernan’s command of the oceans and the ferociousness of their island defenses made that an improbability. So, Galil and the Maak had watched the combined Summerlander-Calbernan attack of Wintercraig with hopeful eyes. Had Wynter of the Craig succeeded in taking out Myerial Alysaldria’s only son and the largest Calbernan fleet with him, Calberna would have been greatly weakened. That the hoped-for weakening had not occurred remained a sore point with the great Maak.
“Well,” Summer continued, “in payment for Calberna’s aid in his time of need, the king agreed that Calberna’s prince, Sealord Dilys Merimydion, should be allowed to visit Konumarr Palace this summer to court Spring, Autumn and me. He made the agreement before he knew of Maak Korin’s intent to offer for Autumn. Surely you can see that King Wynter must honor his agreement with Calberna?” She glanced down modestly and blushed again, and the last of Galil’s fury faded away.
She wasn’t as small in stature as Vermese females, this mocha-skinned Summerlea princess, but she was so slender, her bones so delicate, that she seemed tiny and fragile beside him. Galil wasn’t a particularly muscular man, and most Wintermen stood head and shoulders above him, but next to Summer Coruscate’s delicate femininity, Galil felt very large and strong and powerful, and intensely masculine.
“I suppose so,” Galil replied grudgingly. Summer Coruscate’s voice was too pure, too honest, her soft blue eyes too deep and guileless. It was difficult to stay righteously offended in the face of her gentleness.
Of course, Wintercraig’s agreement with Dilys Merimydion had come to the Maak’s attention months ago. That was precisely what had prompted the hurried compilation of the Maak’s current, extravagant offer for Autumn Coruscate, and the very favorable terms of the alliance that would came with it. He’d sent Galil to pluck the choicest plum from the tree before the Calbernan did.
“The Maak, however, will not be pleased when the Calbernan claims the princess the Maak wants for his own.”
The Calbernan would, of course, consider the invitation to court the three sisters as a guarantee that he would wed whichever Season he desired. Unlike Vermese men, who decided upon the woman they wanted, then negotiated with the man who governed her for marriage rights, the Calbernans took extraordinary pride in claiming their chosen females through charm and seduction. They were so smugly sure of themselves. So confident in their ability to win any woman who caught their eye.
Unfortunately, their confidence was well-founded, which was why Vermese men kept their women under tight lock and key when Calbernans were near.
“I regret the king’s answer wasn’t to your liking,” Summer said, “but please, Your Excellency, don’t leave with anger in your heart. May I offer you some refreshment? My sister and I were just heading out to the terrace for tea.”
She gestured to the wide open wooden doors behind her that led to a terrace overlooking the castle gardens and Llaskroner Fjord.
For one enticing moment, he almost acquiesced. To sit on that open, sun-drenched terrace enjoying refreshing comforts in the company of a beautiful, well-mannered woman…such a temptation. Such a very, very strong temptation.
Only the thought of Maak Korin’s fury kept him from it.
Korin beda Kahn had already warned Galil of the fate that awaited him should he fail, as his predecessors had, to bring home the auburn-haired prize his Maak coveted so dearly. And Galil had no intention of becoming the next in a long string of unfortunate men served up as a live meal to the Maak’s favorite fighting dogs.
“Thank you, Princheska, but no. As your king has refused the Great Maak, there is no further reason for me to remain here. I must ready my departure.” Remembering the manners of this foreign court, he bent his spine in a quick bow and took his leave.
He had plans to put in motion. Quickly, before his time ran out.