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Elantris Deleted Scenes: The Mad Prince
(WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS!)
These scenes occur near the end of the book, and involve a character I cut completely from the novel. Eton was Raoden’s brother, and was introduced later in the book as a secondary villain. Telrii now fits the roles Eton once did. (For more explanations, see the annotations dealing with these chapters.)
Welcome to the ELANTRIS deleted scenes section. As you can imagine, a lot changes in a book during the drafting process. For some authors, the changes are much larger than for others. I, personally, happened to be what is sometimes called a ‘One Drafter.’ This means that I plan a lot before I write, then generally get the plot, setting, and characters on the page as I want them. Further drafts, then, add detail or fix problems I discover once I have the entire text completed.
Still, ELANTRIS went through ten drafts. This means that, even for a One Drafter like me, a lot of things got changed. Most of the alterations were minor tweaks. However, there was one major change made to the novel, the deletion of Raoden’s brother the “Mad Prince.” The reasons for this change were various. First off—and most importantly—the scenes with Eton threw off the pacing of the book. They appeared near the three-quarter mark of the book, and provided a major deviation from the plots the novel had already been dealing with. At this point in the narrative, it just didn’t work to introduce a new villain and force the characters to deal with him in a short period of time.
In addition, cutting Eton allowed me to increase Telrii’s part in the book. This allowed me to use an established character to do a lot of these things, rather than relying on one that the readers didn’t know. Overall, this allowed me to shorten and tighten the book by a fair amount.
Another reason to lose Eton altogether comes from the last scene—Raoden’s execution. I never really liked how this scene came off. It felt too cliché plotting-wise to me, and I couldn’t make it work. In the end, losing all of Eton and his plotting webs really helped me streamline this ending.
There are some things I miss, however, by not having the Eton scenes in. The first one is the fact that I really liked the scene where Eton first appears, below. His arrival allowed me to pay off on several things I’d been foreshadowing through the entire book, and I very much enjoy moments like this. My second reason for missing Eton was, well, because I think he’s a great character. He always amused me, especially in his interactions with Hrathen.
There are some things that you’ll need to know to understand these scenes. In the original drafts of the book, I spoke often of Raoden’s brother, a man of questionable sanity that King Iadon had sent off to a distant plantation so he wouldn’t embarrass the court. I foreshadow that Eton wasn’t just mad, he was irrational, and that he had a fondness for having mock battles with peasants. He was very cruel to Raoden, and this I foreshadowed quite a bit, using it to explain part of why Raoden became such a strong individual later in life. He had to deal with a sibling that tormented him, and he eventually learned to use that madman’s own delusions against him—the forerunner of the Raoden who became a man who was able to twist his father’s laws against him.
Leading up to the following scenes, Raoden and Galladon finally get up onto Elantris’ wall. From there, they see a strange army on the horizon. This is the first we hear of it, since Sarene has been locked in the city with them. (Though we have had foreshadowings that Hrathen is working with a mysterious third party, working to get him to come march to Kae.) Nobody knows where this army came from or what its intentions are.
Chapter 47 happens, and Sarene gets released from Elantris. She has her run-in with Hrathen, but before she lets Kiin take her back to his home, the following scene occurs. . . .
The look of pale shock on Lukel’s face was so wonderful that, despite everything, Sarene found herself laughing.
“Yes, it is me,” she informed, climbing out of the coach.
“But . . . ” he said, blinking in a rapid, twitching motion.
“I’ll explain later,” Sarene said. “Is Roial here?”
Lukel nodded. “I’ll get him,” he said with a stupefied tone, wandering away from the carriage in a daze.
Kiin chuckled behind her. “That’s a rare occurrence. I don’t think I’ve seen Lukel speechless more than a couple of times, and I’ve been his father for over a decade.”
“Why did he start blinking like that?” Sarene asked. “It was almost like he was having a fit of some kind.”
“Oh, he just gets that way when he’s surprised,” Kiin explained. “He used to do it a lot as a child—Daora says the constant blinking nearly drove her crazy.”
Eondel ordered the coachman to pull back. A crowd was gathering around the front of the palace, and Sarene could see that a large percentage of Kae’s aristocracy was in attendance. Ahan, dressed in royal blue, sat in his carriage like an over-ripe plum, his wife at his side. Telrii stood with a number of lesser nobles attending him—his face dark with displeasure.
As she searched through the familiar faces, she found Lukel leading Roial through the mass. The duke was shaking his head violently—and action that stopped as soon as he saw Sarene. She couldn’t hear him over the dozen conversations around her, but she could tell what he exclaimed by the movement of his lips.
“Merciful Domi!” The duke’s eyes were wide with shock.
Sarene gave him a reassuring smile, then turned her head sharply as a voice yelled that there were riders approaching. The group of a dozen men clopped down the road on massive war horses—the like of which Sarene had never seen in Arelon. Each man clanked as he approached, mail beating against plate armor. These were men well-aquatinted with war—something else Sarene had never seen in Arelon.
The lead rider was obviously in charge. Not only was his armor the most ornate, but it was painted black to match his ebony stallion. There was a bright red Aon blazoned across his breastplate. A triangle with wing-like protrusions from the side: Aon Eto. The leader swung his gaze across the crowd, his features oddly familiar.
Eondel gasped at her side. “Idos Domi! It’s Prince Raoden!”
Sarene felt numb.
“No,” Kiin corrected. “It’s not him, Eondel. Look—the face is too round, and he’s far too muscular. That isn’t Raoden; it must be his brother. Eton.”
“The madman?” Eondel asked incredulously.
“Apparently not so mad that he can’t raise an army under our noses,” Kiin replied.
“I have come to claim my throne!” the man, Eton, declared, his voice loud and firm. He didn’t cackle or laugh insanely as Sarene had always pictured a madman would. He pointed, and his men lit torches and rode their horses through the palace’s broad doors. A moment later they returned, galloping out through increasingly thick smoke.
“Good day to you all,” Eton informed with a nod. Then he turned and left, the house of his youth flaming up behind him.
As you can see, this was quite the strange occurrence. From here, Sarene goes back to Kiin’s place, where we have the scene of her pigging out on everything she can get. This is followed by the scene where Sarene talks to her father via Seon, confirming what Hrathen told her at the beginning of the chapter.
Following that, we have the following Hrathen Scene. (This was replaced in the final version by the scene meeting with Telrii, who tells Hrathen that he’s decided to send a letter to Wyrn and demand Gyorn status.)
The Spirit of Elantris
(Oh, and yes—the book still had this title back then.)
Hrathen frowned as he watched the Mad Prince eat. Eton sat at the broad oak table that stood in the center of his tent, adjuncts and servants standing around him. The prince’s food—a hunk of meat in gravy and several buttered gorndels—sat directly on the table, and he used no utensils. Eton claimed that silverware and plates were too easily poisoned by his enemies.
Eton chewed at his beef, oblivious to the gravy dripping into his lap. “Sit, priest. All men sit in my presence.”
Hrathen didn’t point out that the servants and soldiers behind Eton were all standing, he simply did as commanded.
“Let us be direct, priest,” Eton said, pointing at him with a gravy-stained finger. “You want me to convert. What can you offer me that I don’t already have?”
“The promise that you will keep what you have claimed,” Hrathen explained.
“Are you threatening me, priest?” Eton asked with calm eyes. The lack of anger didn’t mean anything—Hrathen had the feeling that Eton would be just as likely to cut a man’s head off for giving him a compliment as he would an insult.
“I speak of necessities, your majesty. This world is meant to be Derethi. Your father could not see that, and he fell.”
“My father. . . .” Eton said, leaning his elbows on top of his half-finished meal. “Yes, my father was a fool. In that we agree, priest.”
“In other things as well, your majesty,” Hrathen added. You, like the Derethi, appreciate a fine military. The rest of Arelon’s nobility are afraid of weapons and combat.”
“Very true.” Eton motioned for a servant to approach, and then leaned his head back, mouth open. The woman hefted her wine jug and poured dark liquid directly into the Mad Prince’s mouth.
Apparently cups are just as easy to poison as plates, Hrathen noted. Of course, that jug is completely different.
The prince finished drinking and accepted a white napkin from another servant, fastidiously blotting the wine from his lips even as gravy and butter dripped from his sleeves.
“Fjorden’s priests are well-versed in combat, your majesty,” Hrathen said. “We could send men to help train your troops.”
“Could they teach me how to make siege engines?” Eton asked.
Hrathen paused. “Of course, my lord. Catapults, siege towers—we can give you all of that.”
“And what does it take to convert to this religion of yours, priest?” the prince demanded.
“An oath, your majesty,” Hrathen explained.
“Fine,” Eton said with a nod. “I promise to be Derethi.”
Hrathen started, blinking. “The oath is a bit more specific than that, your majesty.”
“Then tell it to me, priest. Let us end this meeting—it’s almost time for dinner.” The most chilling part was the complete lucidity in Eton’s eyes when he spoke.
“I, King Eton of Arelon, profess my soul to Jaddeth, Lord of all creation,” Hrathen began, Eton repeating the words. “I pledge myself Odiv to the Gyorn Hrathen, vowing obedience. I will accept Wyrn Wulfden the fourth as my ultimate spiritual guide on this earth. I vow to serve in Jaddeth’s Empire until the day my soul descends to Him.”
When it was over, Hrathen could sparsely believe what he had done. He had converted the rulers of both Teod and Arelon in a single day.
“You may go, priest,” the prince ordered. “And next time, remember to remain standing in my presence. It is dishonorable to seat yourself before a king.”
“Yes, your majesty,” Hrathen said rising and bowing, the steel of his armor grinding as he moved. As he backed out of the tent, he realized just how meaningless Eton’s oath had been. Hrathen might as well have sworn a horse into Jaddeth’s Empire.
The result justified such actions, Hrathen told himself as he joined with the other priests and began to ride back toward Kae. One man’s ignorant vows would save an entire nation. Still, it hurt Hrathen to hear promises made to Jaddeth with such empty intentions. It hurt him more to know that he himself was the means by which such promises were made. It seemed so odd that faith should so be sacrificed in the name of religion.
So, from here we have the Raoden chapter where he blows up the biology section, ending with him saying he could make an illusion. Then, we have the Sarene chapter where Kaloo appears at her fencing practice. Then we go into another chapter with Hrathen and the Mad Prince. (This was replaced by the chapter where Hrathen confronts Dilaf in the perfumer’s tent. That a scene was in the original draft, but I moved it to accommodate the loss of the Mad Prince.)
“Kneel in my presence, priest.”
Hrathen knelt, his grieves clicking against the stone. He did so even though his every sense of propriety cried out against it. Eton was his Odiv. In the east, kings bowed to Gyorns, and they all but prostrated themselves before Wyrn’s holy presence. It went against all laws of conduct and dignity for Hrathen to been knee to one who had sworn him fealty.
Hrathen remained quiet on the subject. Eton’s mind was fragile, and it reacted harshly when frustrated. They stood atop a squat, flat-topped building that overlooked one Kae’s parks. It was mostly level grass, with few trees or hills. A place for the nobility of Kae to come and relax, as if they didn’t do enough of that anyway. The Mad Prince stood near the edge of the roof, looking over the park. Seeming to forget Hrathen for a moment, Eton reached over and selected a smooth round rock from a servant’s tray, then hurled it into the park. The stone plopped against the grass, bounced a few times, then rolled to a stop.
Eton grunted to himself. “Take a throw, priest,” he ordered.
Hrathen, still on his knees, reached up to select a stone.
“Stand, priest; you look like a fool. Pray when you are alone, not when you are visiting your monarch.”
Hrathen held himself back from making a comment about ‘his monarch.’ He stood, selecting a stone at random, the looked questioningly at the prince.
“Is there any particular target you want me to hit, your majesty?” he asked.
Eton’s eyes opened wide in surprise. “You’ve never played Stones before?”
“I am afraid not, your majesty,” Hrathen replied.
“That’s odd,” Eton explained. “The game is enormously popular in Fjorden—I think it originated there.”
“Priests have little time for leisure, your majesty,” Hrathen said with an inward sigh. He wasn’t sure what delusion had caused Eton to fabricate the game ‘Stones,’ but no such activity existed in Fjorden—doubtfully anywhere else either.
“That makes sense,” Eton said with a nod—as if he were anyone to judge what made sense or not. “Well, it’s forbidden to explain the rules of Stones. You will just have to do without.”
“Of course, your majesty,” Hrathen mumbled. Uncertainly, he tossed his rock in the same general direction Eton had.
The Mad Prince’s eyes grew narrow with suspicion. “I thought you said you don’t know how to play, priest.”
“I swear to you that I do not,” Hrathen replied.
“You just won,” Eton declared, his eyes growing menacing.
Hrathen lowered his eyes toward Jaddeth’s subterranean empire. Oh Lord, he thought to himself, if you intend to take me, please don’t let it be over something this inane.
Eton laughed suddenly. “Well, they say that your first game of Stones is often your best. Come, let us play again.”
“As you wish, your majesty,” Hrathen said.
Eton threw another stone, then gestured for Hrathen to do the same. This time Hrathen barely gave any strength to the throw, letting it fall only a few feet from the building.
“Tricky,” Eton mumbled. Then, studying the throws, he continued, “But not tricky enough. My point.”
Hrathen released a relieved breath as Eton chose and threw another stone. “Is this a social visit, priest?”
“Concern for the people’s souls rarely leaves me time for sociability, your majesty,” Hrathen informed, tossing his rock as hard as he could. His muscles, still strong after all these years, sent the stone sailing almost to the edge of the park.
“My point again, priest. You’re slipping,” Eton said with a smile. He paused, however, his eyes growing suspicious. “This isn’t about that cursed proclamation of yours again, is it? I already told you I would sign it on the day of my coronation.”
“No, your majesty, this is about something different,” Hrathen said, mentally removing the first item from his list of things to discuss with the prince. He was hoping that eventually Eton would forget and sign the bill into law early.
“Good,” the Mad Prince declared, throwing his stone. It rolled to a stop just like all of the others, but for some reason Eton stared at it with worried eyes. Then, after a moment, he sighed in relief and shot Hrathen a knowing look. “Moles.”
Hrathen nodded, trying to look as if he understood.
“What do you want then, priest?” the prince asked, accepting a cup of wine from one of his servants—apparently he had discarded his aversion to such containers.
“I was wondering, your majesty, if you ever intended to allow our merchants into the city.” From the top of the building it was easy to see the hoard of masts that clogged Kae’s bay. About three days ago, Eton had suddenly proclaimed that no ships from Fjorden would be allowed to dock. Since that time ten ships had arrived—the next week Kae was supposed to host the Arelene Market, one of the country’s largest market fairs.
Eton studied the latest round of stones. “Your point, priest,” the prince said. Then, in regards to the ships, he continued. “Of course I’ll let them dock. Just as soon as the Fjorden plague is over.”
“Ah,” Hrathen replied. There was, of course, no plague in Fjorden, but he knew better than to question Eton’s declarations. The merchants would simply have to wait.
“I’m surprised you would even ask me that,” the Prince said. “It was, after all, your son who warned me about the plague.”
“My . . . son?”
“Yes, the little fellow who follows you around,” Eton said.
Dilaf. The Arteth had been quiet recently, rarely even preaching sermons. What possible reason could Dilaf have for keeping the ships from docking? The answer was obvious—Dilaf hadn’t intended to keep the ships away. The Arteth’s plan, whatever it was, had failed. He had gone to Eton with stories of a plague, intending some scheme, but he hadn’t planned for the Mad Prince’s level of randomness. Eton was a complete unknown—like the Chay piece in the game ShinDa, which moved differently depending on what pieces were closest to it.
The attribute infuriated Hrathen. Before Eton, he had never met a man he couldn’t understand; even Dilaf had been predictable to an extent, especially in his lust for power and hatred of Elantris. Eton’s passions, however, changed from moment to moment. Hrathen had seen him spew wine from his mouth, complaining at its lack of taste, then drink from the same pitcher a short time later and find it completely agreeable.
The game continued as Hrathen pondered, Eton randomly assigning points to both players. Unlike the first game’s one-throw win, this one stretched on for hours, and Hrathen soon found himself very impatient to be free of Eton’s presence. Everything the man said, every action he took, bespoke chaos and frustrated logic. Eventually, after over two hours of rock-throwing, Eton declared himself the winner, and then asked Hrathen if he wanted to have a third match to break their tie. Hrathen pled another appointment, to which the king laughed, informing him that refusing a game of Stones was the same as forfeiting. As Hrathen scurried away—the first time in his life he could remember scurrying—he heard Eton behind, complimenting himself on another win.
After this, we had the chapter where Raoden (as Kaloo) convinces Roial to let him into the meetings. The Sarene chapter at the meeting goes pretty much as it is in the final draft. The difference is that it’s Eton who arrives and forces Raoden to reveal himself. After that, everything continues up to the point that the soldiers (members of Eton’s army instead of Telrii’s stolen Elantris City Guards) arrive at Kiin’s house. They demand that Raoden give himself up for trial for instigating the death of their monarch. Sarene insists on going along, and the following happens. . . .
Sarene rode, bouncing horribly in the massive war-horse’s saddle. The soldiers had reacted with surprise at her insistence that they take her as well. They had eventually given into her protests, one of the younger captains giving up his mount. They were obviously too anxious to finish Raoden’s trial to argue with an ornery woman.
Raoden rode near the front of the line, hands tied behind his back. He rode as a prince, his head high and his face determined. How different he looked from his now-deceased brother. Even though their faces were similar, their bearings were completely opposite. Raoden’s body was thin and lean, while Eton’s had been well-muscled, but somehow Raoden exhibited more strength than the Mad Prince ever had. Men could look into Raoden’s eyes and know where they stood with him. They could trust his treatment of them. Raoden made nobility not a thing of titles or wealth, but of honor and attitude.
The officers felt it. They had been shocked by Raoden’s surrender, but the had been more amazed by his civility. He spoke to them with respect, holding out his hands to be tied and allowing himself to be placed on a horse without complaint. In response to his dignity, the soldiers had immediately begun referring to him as ‘my lord.’ Instead of treating him roughly, they seemed concerned for his comfort.
The ‘trial’ was to be held before the burned remains of Eton’s pyre. Sarene didn’t look up as the passed the stake bearing Eondel’s decapitated head. Her one glance of the horrid sight had been enough—she would ever remember the look of grim satisfaction frozen on the poor general’s features.
All of Eton’s officers had collected for the trial and, assumedly, execution. They sat on hastily-constructed benches in a broad circle around the pyre. Ten men sat apart from the others—a jury composed of Eton’s highest-ranking generals, each clad in bright silvery armor. The soldiers placed Raoden before these men, leaving him to stand on the rough, sandy earth. As an afterthought, perhaps in response to Raoden’s nobility, one of them men moved to help Sarene off her horse, then brought her a short wooden stool. She was given a good vantage at the front of the crowd—the perfect place from which to watch the execution of the man she loved. The Gyorn, his face unreadable, took a seat similar to hers on the other side of the circle.
“We will make this simple,” one of the ten judges said, standing as he spoke. “You know what has happened here?”
“I do,” Raoden admitted.
“Do you deny responsibility for the death of your brother, Prince Raoden?”
“No, I do not,” Raoden informed, and Sarene felt herself grow sick. “I will not claim to have encouraged Eondel’s actions, but I know—as you all know—that a leader is accountable for the actions of his men. Eondel followed me; I take responsibility for his crime.”
The judges nodded to themselves. “Then,” the lead general continued, “have you anything to say in your defense before we make judgment?”
“I do not,” Raoden declared. “Though I do have something to say in your defense.”
“Our defense?” the man asked.
“Yes,” Raoden said in a loud voice. “I worry for you, men of Arelon. I worry at the many things you have been forced to endure. I am certain you remember the days before the Reod, days when we thought the gods lived amongst us. You will also remember the betrayal we felt when those gods proved to be as human as the rest of us.
“We survived through that horror, my friends. We suffered through the uncertainty, the mobs, the fires, the fall of Elantrian magic, and even the very upheavals of the earth. We survived all of these to see a new ruler arise, a man who claimed he would restore our country to peace. However this man betrayed us as well, did he not?
“Iadon brought order—but he did it by enslaving us. He made brute laborers of craftsmen and artists, he tore down our places of beauty and set mills and fields in their place. He took a few select individuals—chosen for their wealth—and gave them dominion over the rest. He made it a capital offense for a man to leave his assigned plot of land, forcing us into secluded lives of torment.
“Then you, poor men, were taken a step further. You were taken from your families and given to be the playthings of a madman. And, just when you thought you understood the world, that very lunatic turned out to be your savior. He trained you, made you his own. He gave you pride.
“Now even he has betrayed you.
“Eton is dead. He fell in battle—a place where you assumed his invincibility. He fell at night, when most of you slept, and now you feel that even you yourselves are traitors, for you were not there to protect your lord.”
Sarene watched the soldiers as Raoden spoke. She didn’t know how he did it—how he understood them so well. The men nodded at his words, watching him quietly. Sarene had experience swaying groups, but this was something different. Raoden was not fooling these men. He spoke simply of things that were.
“Arelon is in chaos once again, my friends,” Raoden continued. “The man who oppressed her is dead by his own hand, and the man who thought to take control dead by mine. I speak in your defense, soldiers of Arelon, because I know of your burden. This time, the country is in your hands. You will determine the next ruler who has a chance to oppress or bring peace.
“As I go, I make one request of you. I present a candidate for your consideration.” He turned his head, looking back at Sarene. “Behold, the Lady Sarene. My wife. I promise you that I know of no person more suited to lead than the princess. I have met no man more intelligent or more politically capable than Lady Sarene. You know she is the one who discovered Iadon’s heresies. She has earned the respect and admiration of every member of Arelon’s court. Ask, friends, and you will see. This is the person you must support. Let not my death be a deterrent, and let not Arelon suffer again. Choose Sarene as your queen.”
Raoden fell silent, and Sarene could feel the weight of a hundred stares studying her. The ten generals turned to one another and spoke quietly for a moment, then the lead man stood, his armor glinting as he moved. “Let it be so.”
The crowd was silent as Sarene realized what was going to happen. The lead general himself was accepting a sword from another soldier, and two men had approached, helping Raoden to his knees and holding his hands on either side.
“NO!” Sarene yelled, leaping to her feet. Hands reached for her, holding her back. She looked desperately at Raoden, whose head was turned toward her, his hands still bound behind him.
It has to be a trick, Sarene thought to herself. An illusion of some sort. He won’t let himself be killed. But, as she struggled against her captors, Sarene looked into Raoden’s eyes and knew the truth. He wouldn’t use AonDor to save himself if he could. The country meant too much to him to risk such an attempt. He would die, if only it would mean putting someone he trusted in charge of Arelon.
“No,” Sarene said again, this time weakly. There was nothing she could do.
Raoden smiled at her and whispered something, his eyes filled with compassion. Sarene didn’t need to read his lips to understand what he had said.
The general approached, intent on performing the execution himself. “Know this, Raoden,” he informed. “Your honorable death has earned the respect of this council. We will take your advice. As Domi is our witness, Lady Sarene will be Queen of Arelon.” With that, the burly general raised his sword, closed his eyes, and swung the weapon for Raoden’s neck.
This was followed, immediately, by a Hrathen chapter. I like this one for the way it shows of the chapter triad system, but the plotting here didn’t ever work for me.
The Spirit of Elantris
Hrathen watched as ‘Raoden’ tried to defend himself before the trial. Hrathen still didn’t believe this man was the actual Prince Raoden, though everyone else seemed to accept the impostor’s claim. It was of little matter—this Raoden would soon lose his head, becoming as dead the man he was supposed to be.
Hrathen hated the man, whomever he was. Not because of the opposition he represented, or because of his claim to the throne, but because of one thing: the way Sarene looked at him. Hrathen could see the love in her eyes—foolish adoration that couldn’t possibly be serious. Where had this man come from so suddenly? And how had he managed to fool Sarene, who was normally so clever?
Regardless, she had apparently given her heart to him, no matter how impetuously. Logically, Hrathen knew his jealousy was foolish. Hrathen’s own relationship with the girl had been one of antagonism, not of affection. Why should he be jealous of another man?
Still, Hrathen watched with satisfaction as the impostor declined to defend himself. What did he hope to gain? Pity? These were soldiers, men who thought the most efficient way to end a problem was to run a sword through it. Hrathen understood their minds—he himself was a solider, though he had spent so long in politics that he no longer worked with such directness. Pity would not motivate these men—except, maybe, to make them more determined to have an execution.
Then Raoden turned to offer what he called a defense of his captors, and Hrathen began to wonder if he would bring a spiritual element into his speech. Perhaps he would try to motivate the men with guilt—again, a method that didn’t work on soldiers. Warriors were well aquatinted with guilt, and they knew how to deal with it, otherwise they could never function on a battlefield. It was quite possible to make them feel guilty for their actions, but they were too well-trained to let that guilt stop them from performing what they saw as their duty.
But, it was not a guilt speech. Hrathen was at a loss to understand what this Raoden intended—the Gyorn was a master of rhetoric, but he couldn’t fathom the use of Raoden’s examples. Did he think he could motivate them by patriotism? But, they were more likely to consider his death a patriotic answer to their problems. Was he trying to build sympathy, perhaps? Showing that he understood the soldiers’ pain?
Then he made his final declaration, and Hrathen felt himself grow chilled, frozen to his seat. He had all but convinced the soldiers to back Telrii as the next king, but he was forced to watch his work wisp away like smoke before a strong wind. Now he understood Raoden’s plan—his cause was that of a martyr. The soldiers would respond more soundly to a dignified death than they ever would to begging or bribery. With one single sentence, Raoden had effectively chosen the next monarch of Arelon.
And it was Sarene.
Hrathen felt himself stand as General Gatrii prepared his sword. This could not be! He had almost begun looking at Eton’s death as a fortuitous event, for Telrii was much more manageable. However, if Sarene took the throne, he knew that his work in Arelon would never come to fruition—especially not within the month he had left before Wyrn’s deadline. The armies of united Derethi would wash over Arelon, slaughtering the people. Slaughtering Sarene.
“NO!” he yelled, but his scream was lost behind Sarene’s louder, and more passionate, denial.
There was nothing he could do. If he stopped the execution, the army would turn against him, and he might very well face his own execution. All he could do was watch as the headman raised his weapon. The general closed his eyes and swung the weapon.
And missed, swinging the sword so that it’s tip passed less than an inch from the false Raoden’s neck.
The impostor raised his head slightly as the soldiers released their ropes, letting him lose. He focused on the sword blade, blinking in confusion. General Gatrii was kneeling on the ground before Raoden, and the soldiers around the circle were following suit.
“What is this?” Hrathen demanded.
“It was the way Lord Eton commanded us to perform executions,” a soldier said, kneeling at his side. “You swing the sword with your eyes closed. If it hits, the man was guilty. If it misses, then he was innocent all along.”
Hrathen groaned. Even from the grave the Mad Prince’s chaotic hand reached out to slap him in the face.
He looked over at the kneeling general and the still-disoriented Raoden. He had seen that sword swing, and his mind remembered the precision of its placing. Gatrii had not given the blow up to fate—Hrathen was sure of that somehow. He had guided that blade to miss.
Gatrii raised the sword and presented it to the impostor with open hands. “Let it be known!” the general spoke. “Fate has declared this man clean. Our council will not go against its decision—we accept Prince Raoden as the rightful ruler of Arelon. What are your orders, my lord?”
Raoden didn’t hesitate as he reached down and accepted the proffered sword. “Send messengers, general, and gather the lords and ladies of Arelon. I intend to hold my coronation in one hour!”
So, there it is. The entire Mad Prince deviation. Some of my early readers were very sad to hear he was gone, but nobody objected too much. I guess they knew that he was out of place.
I’ll admit I’m sad to see Eton gone. As I’ve said, I’d like to find a way to recycle him into another story, though Joshua always tells me he thinks that would be a bad idea. I guess he’s just pleased that he managed to kill off a character in one of my books, and doesn’t want him making a recovery. . . .