As part of that though I've tinkered with the narrative voice and viewpoint and made some tough decisions as to which parts of the existing work to keep and which to (probably) excise.
What follows are some brief scenes which I'd introduced to set up one particular character and situation. The character will still be in the final story (probably) and so will the situation (probably) but these scenes no longer fit.
Rather than have them vanish into the ether I'm posting them here - hopefully they'll make enjoyable reading and I'd appreciate any feedback on these scenes that never were...
Some distance away a young man was facing a trial of a different sort. He was stripped to the waist, with a strong athletic frame and short hair as dark as his eyes which were focused and grim. He did not notice the chill October evening air, or the breeze that blew through the courtyard in which he stood. Tall walls surrounded him on three sides and a grand house loomed over the courtyard behind him. His expression was intently and unnaturally calm, calmness floating lightly on top of depths of anger he did not yet realise he was feeling.
“Attend. Attend!” the old man said in a sharp voice. The old man was pacing around the youth, whose name was Jeremy Riker, slowly and watching him carefully for the slightest hint of any lapse in concentration. “Do not think about anything but the task before you. Do not think about the cold. Do not think about the targets. Think only of the vita and building it, gathering it, shaping it into the symbol of power.”
“I said ‘Attend!’” the old man barked and he struck Riker across the back with the wooden walking stick he carried. The blow was not a hard one, but even so the young man flinched from the sudden shock of it and that earned him another sharp cry. “Attend!”
There was an endless moment of readiness and then the old man said sharply “Now.”
Jeremy Riker took a step forward, his right arm drawn back to his left hip and then snapping out and forward, pointing fingers like a pistol and he spoke a single word of power as he let the shining symbol burst into nothingness. The first cobblestone, many feet distant, shattered to dust atop its post but by then his arm was already moving again, pointing at the second cobblestone which split into a half dozen fragments. The third rocked from its position and fell but did not break. Riker tried to move his arm again, to aim at the fourth, at the fifth, but he was weak now and his muscles screamed with the effort of just keeping his arm aloft. He staggered a little. The power he had gathered was gone. The old man’s silence was a rebuke in itself.
“I know,” the young man said, his voice hoarse with the effort of controlling his breathing. He did not want to show his mentor how exhausted he had become.
“To know is not enough. You must overcome yourself. Set up the targets once more.”
Grunting with the effort of lifting each new cobblestone the young man set up the targets on their posts as he had been bidden. The old man watched with impatience. He knew his duty. He would work the boy half to death if need be, if that was what it took.
Jeremy Riker’s bedroom was large and grandly furnised, and he was sitting at a desk with a wide top and elaborate fittings. A small book stand was built into the rear of the desk on which stood a half dozen identically bound books of magical theory, with black leather covers and silver worked designs on the spine. He was not reading though, nor was he writing. He was sitting motionless at the desk, his hands flat and unmoving on the surface, and he was glaring straight ahead of him almost rigid with anger and frustration. The words of his teacher still seethed in his memory and he found it impossible to think around them
To know is not enough
You must overcome yourself
But it is power.
Mortimer Lake’s eyes opened suddenly. His bedroom was cold, spartan and purely functional. He was a man who saw little point in impractical comfort. Comfort made people soft and Mortimer Lake had no room for softness in his life.
Another noise! A sharp crack like a pistol shot from nearby and Mortimer Lake froze for a second; not in fear for he was not a man that easily felt fear, but he froze so that he could judge direction and distance. Moving with more haste he descended a short stair to a corner landing. There was a window there that overlooked the walled yard to the rear of his house. In the darkness of the yard there was a light shining, a lamp that had been hung from a hook in the wall. Though the light was dim it was enough for Lake to see clearly, for one of his preparatory enchantments had given him the vision of a night-hunting cat, monochrome but clear in the dimness. A thin smile split Lake’s face like a wound. The boy Riker was there in the yard practising.
Good, good, thought Lake, he drives himself hard. As he should.
Down in the yard Jeremy Riker was breathing heavily, his shoulders rising and falling as he recovered from the exertion of what he had just done. Then a dozen heartbeats later Lake saw Riker look to his left across the yard and gesture with one hand sweeping it through the air. With a grating noise more large cobbles left the heap where they had been piled, working themselves free, and drifting through the air to the five target stakes. With barely a wobble each stone set itself in place.
And then he remembered. The noise that had awoken him… and the noise that had followed a few minutes later.