The Way of Kings Chapter 13 (D)
One of Brandon’s largest revisions in the early writing of the 2010 version of The Way of Kings was a restructuring of Dalinar’s first chapters. The reaction from Brandon’s writing group after they finished reading the chapters from Part Two in the first week of 2010 let him know about several issues: Dalinar came across as wishy-washy and contradictory, and the pacing of his chapters was boring. Brandon’s solution was to rewrite many of the scenes from Adolin’s point of view as well as reordering events here, trimming there, expanding here. We’ll now share a few of these original chapters, which you can compare to the published version.
This chapter corresponds to parts of chapter 12 and chapter 15 in the final book.
It was a clear day, storm-free, the white sun blazing unabashedly without clouds to veil its face. A warm day, an honest day. A day to slay a god.
Dalinar rode Gallant at a gallop across the plateau, hoofbeats pounding the stone, rock formations whipping past. His armor clinked as he leaned down, faceplate open, face to the wind. The enveloping Shardplate was inexplicably easy to move in, and was invigorating to wear. Men who hadn’t ever worn a suit of it—particularly those who were accustomed to its inferior cousin, simple plate and maile—could never understand. Shardplate wasn’t simply armor. It so much more.
Ahead, a steep rock formation rose from the plateau like a small tower of stone. When he got near, Dalinar threw himself from the saddle while Gallant was still moving. He hit hard, but the Shardplate absorbed the impact, stone crunching beneath his steel feet as he skidded to a stop. It was a reckless move, but wearing his Plate made him feel twenty or thirty years younger. Perhaps that was why he found excuses to don it so often.
He charged to the base of the rock formation as another horse galloped up behind. Dalinar jumped—Plate legs propelling him up some five feet—and grabbed a handhold in the stone. With a heave, he pulled himself up, the Plate lending him the strength of many men.
He smiled at the thrill of the chase—nearly as grand as the thrill of battle—and grabbed another ledge, climbing. Rock scraped below. Elhokar had begun to climb as well.
Dalinar didn’t look down. He kept his eyes fixed on his goal: the small, flat section of rock at the top of the twenty-foot high formation. He quested with steel-covered fingers, finding another handhold. The gauntlets covered his hands, but the ancient armor somehow transferred sensation to his fingers. It was as if he were wearing only thick leather gloves.
After a short time, scraping came from the side, accompanied by a voice cursing softly. Elhokar, the king, had taken a slightly different path, hoping to pass Dalinar. However, Elhokar had found himself at a section of rock without handholds above, and his progress was stalled.
The king’s golden Shardplate glittered as he glanced at Dalinar, meeting his eyes. Elhokar set his jaw and looked upward, then launched himself in a powerful leap toward an outcropping.
Fool boy, Dalinar thought, watching the armor-laden king hang in the air for a moment before snatching the handhold, dangling, cape flapping below. The king heaved himself up, continuing to climb.
Dalinar began climbing furiously, stone grinding beneath his metal fingertips, chips falling free and bouncing against the sides of the formation. Wind played at his blue cloak. He heaved, strained, pushed himself, and managed to get just ahead of the king.
The top was just feet away. He reached for it, determined to win. He couldn’t lose. He had to—
No, he told himself forcefully.
He made himself hesitate just briefly, letting his nephew get ahead and haul himself to his feet atop the rock formation. Elhokar laughed in triumph, turning toward Dalinar, holding out a hand to help him up. “Stormwinds, uncle, but you made a fine race of it! I thought for certain you had me at the end there.”
Dalinar smiled, then took the younger man’s hand, letting Elhokar pull him up onto the top of the formation. There was just enough room for them both. Breathing deeply, Dalinar slapped the king on the back, metal clanking. “Nicely played, your majesty.”
The king beamed. That was encouraging to see; Elhokar’s mood had been so dark lately. A success—even at something as simple as a this race—might do him some real good.
Dalinar took a deep, satisfied breath, turning to look eastward. From this height, he could scan a large swath of the Shattered Plains. He studied them, trying to pick out their destination. As he did so, however, he had an odd moment of recollection. He felt as if he’d been atop this platform before, looking down at a broken landscape.
He frowned to himself. He’d never been on this particular formation before, had he? The moment was gone in a heartbeat.
He shook his head, glancing at the king. Elhokar’s golden Shardplate gleamed in the noon-day sun; it had belonged to his father before him, though Elhokar had ordered the blacksmiths to weld a golden, crown-shaped set of steel horns to the top of his helm. Men often made such modifications to their Plate. Dalinar himself left his unornamented and unpainted; he preferred the simple, dark slate color.
Elhokar had his faceplate up, revealing a prominent nose and an almost too-pretty face, with full lips and delicate features. Gavilar had looked like that too, before he’d suffered a broken nose and that terrible scar across his face. The young king had proud eyes—perhaps a little too proud—and a clean-shaven face that seemed top-heavy, with that broad forehead and small chin.
Elhokar raised his hand and shaded his eyes. Behind, Dalinar’s soldiers and Elhokar’s attendants rode up to the base of the rock formation. Dalinar noted his outriders on the next plateau over, holding position and waiting for the bulk of the army to catch up.
“We must have seemed of the ten fools, charging across the ground like that,” the king said. “Maybe we shouldn’t have left our bodyguards.”
“You’re safe, Elhokar. I have men watching every nearby plateau. We’ll know if the Parshendi try to strike.
“I’m not worried about the Parshendi,” Elhokar said, expression becoming grim. “I just…I don’t like being exposed.”
Dalinar didn’t reply. This nervousness of the king’s was a new development, but could Elhokar really be blamed, considering what had happened to his father? True, it had been five years, and Dalinar doubted that the Assassin in White was going to return now. But, then, he hadn’t anticipated the assassination in the first place.
I’m sorry, brother, he thought. He did so every time when he thought of the night when Gavilar had died. Assassinated while Dalinar lay in a drunken stupor.
“Well,” the king said. “I’m glad you suggested the race. It felt…good to let myself go.”
Dalinar smiled. “For a moment there, I felt like a youth again, chasing after your father on some ridiculous challenge.”
Elhokar drew his lips to a thin line. Mentioning Gavilar soured him, as if he felt that others were comparing him to the old king.
Most of the time, he was right, unfortunately.
“There,” Elhokar said, pointing with a golden, gauntleted hand. “I can see our destination.”
Dalinar shaded his own eyes, finally picking out a canopy six plateaus away, flying the King’s flag. Wide, permanent bridges led there; they were relatively close to the Alethi side of the Shattered Plains, on plateaus Dalinar himself controlled.
His plateau. His chasmfiend. His hunt. The massive, greatshelled creatures were one of the main motivations behind the Vengeance Pact, at least for most of the highprinces. Elhokar and Dalinar fought for revenge; for the rest, it was about gemstones.
And, in truth, Dalinar himself couldn’t deny the allure of the wealth offered here.
“Your count was accurate,” Elhokar said, lowering his arm, frowning faintly. “You were correct again, uncle.”
“I try to make a habit of it.”
Elhokar snorted. “I can’t blame you for that, I suppose.”
The wind blew across him, and once again, Dalinar had a moment of recollection. Had he been atop this formation before? It seemed so familiar.
No, he thought. It wasn’t here. It was a different peak I stood upon. I saw it during….
During one of his episodes. The very first one. You must unite them. The strange, booming words had told him. The Final Desolation comes….
“Uncle?” Elhokar asked.
Dalinar shook out of his revelry, focusing back on the king. “Yes, your majesty?”
“Did you look into the item I asked you about?”
“I did. None of the guards saw anything.”
“There was someone watching me. In the darkness that night.”
“If so, they haven’t returned, your majesty.”
Elhokar seemed dissatisfied, but let the matter drop. The winds blew across Dalinar again, bringing with them that faint familiarity. Atop a peak, looking out at destruction. A sense of awful, terrible, amazing perspective.
Unite them…. Prepare them….
“Your majesty,” Dalinar found himself saying. “Have you given any thought to how long we will stay at this war?”
Elhokar started, looking surprised. “We’ll keep fighting until the Vengeance Pact is satisfied and my father avenged!”
“Noble words,” Dalinar said. “But you majesty, you’ve been away from Alethkar for five years now! Maintaining two distant centers of government like this…it stresses our means.”
“Kings often go to war for extended periods, Uncle.”
“Rarely do they do it for so long,” Dalinar said, “and rarely do they bring every Shardbearer and Highprince in the kingdom with them. Our resources are strained, and word from home is that the Reshi border encroachments grow increasingly bold.”
Elhokar sniffed, wind blowing at them atop the peaked rock. “Uncle, I can’t believe I’m hearing this! You aren’t seriously suggesting that I abandon the war, are you? You’d have me slink home, like a scolded axehound? Let those savages get away with killing your brother?”
Dalinar hesitated. What am I saying? he thought, suddenly mortified. Abandoning the war? What of the Rabaka, and the need to prepare the souls of men to fight after death? It was a very un-Alethi thing to say.
“Of course I’m not saying we should give up the war, your majesty,” Dalinar said quickly. “Don’t be foolish.”
Elhokar eyed him.
“All I’m saying,” Dalinar continued, “is that we should speed the course of the conflict. I’m tired of Gavilar’s murderers continuing to live free. Can we not encourage the highprinces to stop dallying? Elhokar, they see this war as a game!”
Elhokar appraised him for a moment, then sniffed to himself. “The situation keeps them competitive, and that keeps them focused. If their attention is on winning plateaus, then they don’t spend so much time plotting against one another.”
“I think you give them too little credit,” Dalinar said. “They can do both quite easily at the same time.”
“Bah,” Elhokar said, “you’re just being paranoid.”
Dalinar blinked. Paranoid? He’s calling me paranoid? He couldn’t find the words to respond.
“I must say, uncle,” Elhokar said, looking out over the plains, “I find your odd behavior lately to be disturbing. It has something to do with those…episodes of yours, doesn’t it?”
He gritted his teeth. “They are unimportant, Elhokar.” The words came out stiffly.
The king glanced at him, then nodded. “I’m sorry to bring it up then. Come, let’s get on with the hunt. It will do good for us both.” With that, the king leaped off the top of the rock formation.
Dalinar cursed, leaning over the side, watching the king plummet to the ground. Elhokar landed with an audible crack, throwing up chips of stone and a large puff of Stormlight. But he but managed to stay upright.
Fool boy, Dalinar thought, though the king—at twenty-five—was hardly a boy. He just acted like one at times. Elhokar worried about assassins in every shadow, yet took foolish risks like jumping too far or rushing into battle.
Dalinar took a safer path, climbing down to a lower ledge before jumping. His landing was still jarring, though the Plate softened the stress to his legs and knees.
Nearby, Elhokar climbed into his saddle. His brilliant white horse, Vengeance, was not a Ryshadium—and that was a source of some bitterness to the king. Many men thought that a Shardbearer was not complete until he had all three—Blade, Plate, and steed.
The third was a foolish requirement. Ryshadium could not be forced. They chose their riders, and one counted himself fortunate if picked. Dalinar made his way over to Gallant—who waited patiently where his reins had been dropped—and patted the midnight-colored stallion on the side of the neck. Gallant was a good two hands taller than any other warhorse in the army, a powerful stallion with the bulk and solidity of the finest draft horse yet the speed of a Shin gallhorian.
Was there was a playful look to Gallant’s eyes as he turned to regard Elhokar? It almost seemed as if the animal was amused by the interactions of men. Just my imagination, Dalinar thought, swinging himself into the saddle. Ryshadium were smarter than other breeds of horse, true, but they were still only animals.
He trotted Gallant toward the main body of troops and attendants. Highprince Sadeas—wearing red Shardplate—was with them. With a square of jaw and angular of face, he cut an imposing figure, his Plate ornamented nearly as much as that of the king. He looked much better in it than he did when wearing one of those ridiculous costumes of lace and silk that were popular these days.
Sadeas had the Plate only, no Blade, making him half of a true Shardbearer. One did not point out this deficiency to Sadeas, however—at least not if one wished to avoid a duel.
Sadeas caught Dalinar’s eyes, nodding slightly. My part is done, that nod said.
Dalinar turned to seek out Vamah. As he did, however, a different shardbearer up beside him: Adolin, Dalinar’s elder son. He, Elhokar, Dalinar, and Sadeas were the only Shardbearers on this particular hunt.
“Ho, father,” Adolin said. “Have a nice run?”
“Gallant did most of the work.”
Adolin smiled. He was shorter than Dalinar, and his hair—hidden by his helm—was blonde mixed with black, an inheritance from his mother. At least, so Dalinar had been told. Dalinar himself remembered nothing of the woman. She had been excised from his memory, leaving strange holes, fuzziness where he should be able to recall her face. In places, he could remember an exact scene, with everyone else crisp and clear. But she was a blur. He couldn’t even remember her name. When others spoke it to him, it slipped from his mind, like a pat of butter sliding off of a too-hot knife.
Best not to focus on that, he thought to himself, scanning the line of troops. Renarin—Dalinar’s other son—sat a distance off, solemn, as usual. He was unarmored; he wasn’t Shardbearer. What did his too-quiet, beskpeckled eyes see? He always seemed to be lost in thought.
“How are the troops?” Dalinar asked, turning back to Adolin.
“Father,” Adolin said flatly, “how do you think they are? You left five minutes ago.”
“I know. How are the troops?”
Adolin sighed. “Fit and excited to be on with killing a greatshell. Father, I don’t see why anyone needs to command of a simple march from plateau to plateau.”
“You need experience leading and they need to learn to see you as a commander. I won’t live forever.” The two thousand spearmen and archers on the hunt were from Dalinar’s army; Highprinces Sadeas and Vamah had had brought only a small honor guard each.
The line of troops, four men wide, wound like an eel back across the plateau. “You should be excited,” Dalinar said, turning Gallant. He began riding toward the bridge, Adolin falling in beside him. “When I was your age, I always got the jitters when hunting a greatshell. It was the highlight of a young man’s year.”
Adolin shrugged. “I just can’t see that how hunting an oversized chull could ever be as exciting as a good duel.”
“These ‘oversized chulls’ grow to fifty feet tall.”
“Yes,” Adolin said, “and we’ll sit, baiting it for hours, baking in the hot sun. If it decides to show up, we’ll pelt it with arrows from a distance, only closing in once it is so weak it can barely resist as we hack it to death with Shardblades. Very honorable.”
“It’s not a duel,” Dalinar said, “it’s a hunt. A grand tradition.”
Adolin raised an eyebrow at him.
“And yes,” Dalinar added with a sigh. “It can tedious at times.”
Adolin chuckled. He was a full Shardbearer, having won his own Shardblade in a duel and earned a Ryshadium on his first try. The Plate was a family suit, inherited from Dalinar’s wife’s side of the family.
There were fewer than two dozen full Shardbearers in the entirety of Alethkar, and Adolin was their youngest. He’d managed the feat at a younger age, even, than Dalinar had. The trouble with being parent to an accomplished child, he thought, smiling. We cheer for them when they succeed, but that doesn’t stop us from feeling obsolete.
He was proud of Adolin. Of course, the lad did like to complain. Too bad there aren’t any young women around. The scribes in attendance were older women, and Adolin was always more enthusiastic about duties when there was someone young and female to impress.
“Go and lead the crossing,” Dalinar said. The army was making its way across the permanent bridge to the next plateau.
“I’m hardly needed there, you know.”
“The king is in our attendance,” Dalinar said. “The codes say it is our duty to secure the area before he moves onto it.” It was a lesser part of the Codes, requiring one to go before the king. It just a formality here, as these plateaus were far from the front lines. But it was best to be careful.
Adolin sighed, but knew better than to argue when the Codes were involved. He rode off to lead a team onto the next plateau, where he would check personally to be certain it was safe for the king.
Dalinar had other business to be about. Nearby, the king’s attendants—resignedly accustomed to Dalinar’s strict care for such things—had gathered to wait for the all clear. There were servants to carry food and water, women to act as scribes, and lesser lighteyed men who had obtained enough favor to be invited. Most of the last group were unarmored, wearing dark, masculine colors. Maroon, navy, forest green, deep burnt orange.
Dalinar rode past Sadeas and his bubble of attendants, not looking at the man directly. Did he ornament his Plate so in order to draw attention from the fact that he had no Blade? Many men felt the Blade to be the more superior of the two Shards—though if Dalinar had to give one of the two up, he’d keep the Plate. Men respected the sword for its offensive power, but those types never did understand the strength of a good defensive stance.
Sadeas also didn’t ride a Ryshadium, which wasn’t expected. They were said to look into the hearts of men when choosing riders.
That was unfair of you, Dalinar thought at himself. Sadeas had been a friend, once. They were still allies, tied together in one, powerful emotion.
Dalinar rode on past Sadeas, approaching Highprince Vamah. He was dressed in a fashionable long brown coat that had slashes cut through it to expose the bright yellow silk underneath. The cuts had been put there intentionally; it was supposed to be a subdued kind of fashion, not as flagrant as wearing the silks on the outside. Dalinar just thought it looked stupid.
Vamah himself was a round-faced man who wore his hair cut close to hide his patches of baldness. The short hair that remained stuck straight up. He also had a habit of squinting—which he did as Dalinar rode up.
“Brightlord,” Dalinar said, nodding. “I have come to make certain your comfort has been seen to.”
“My comfort would be best seen to if we could move on with this hunt.” Vamah glared up at the sun overhead, as if blaming it for some misdeed. In likelihood, his foul mood was due to the meeting he’d had with Sadeas earlier on the ride. “Really, Dalinar, must you be so tiresome as to insist that we wait every time we reach a bridge?”
“I like to be careful,” Dalinar said. Vamah was a highprince; he, of all people, should have understood the importance of the Codes. Yet there he sat, out of uniform on a battlefield, complaining about precautions taken to protect the king.
Dalinar said nothing of Vamah’s lapses. The highprinces had complained about the Codes even when Gavilar had been king, and they weren’t about to follow them without direct enforcement. And, as Elhokar himself thought them overly strict, that wasn’t about to happen any time soon.
“It’s a good day for a hunt,” Dalinar said, nodding toward the clear sky.
“I hear you’ve had success catching several chasmfiends on your own plateaus. You are to be congratulated.”
Vamah shrugged. “They were small things, barely ten feet long. Not like reports of today’s beast.” His voice indicated skepticism regarding those reports.
“Well, a small gemheart is better than none,” Dalinar said politely. “I hear that you have plans to augment the walls of your warcamp.”
“Hum? Yes. Fill in a few of the gaps, turn it into a real fortification.”
“I’ll be certain to tell his majesty that you’ll need access to the soulcasters.”
Vamah turned to him, frowning. “Soulcasters?”
“For lumber,” Dalinar said, raising an eyebrow. “Surely you don’t intend to fill in the walls without using scaffolding? Out here, on these remote plains, it’s fortunate that we have Soulcasters to provide things like wood, wouldn’t you say?”
“Er…yes,” Vamah said, expression darkening further.
“I’d say the king is quite generous in allowing access to the Soulcasters. Wouldn’t you agree, Vamah?”
“I understand your point, Dalinar,” Vamah said dryly. “No need to keep slamming the rock into my face.”
“I’ve never been known as a subtle man, brightlord,” Dalinar said, nodding. “Just effective.” He turned Gallant, trotting away, leaving Vamah to stew. The man had been heard complaining vocally about the tariffs that Elhokar charged to use his Soulcasters. It was the primary form of taxation the king levied on the highprinces out here on the Shattered Plains. Elhokar himself didn’t fight for, or win, plateaus; he stood aloof from that aspect of the war, as was appropriate.
Soon, Adolin’s soldiers on the other plateau called the all clear. The lighteyes were finally allowed to cross over, and Elhokar lead his attendants first. Sadeas lingered, and Dalinar made his way over to the crimson-armored man. They turned their horses beside one another, riding slowly in the same direction.
“Dalinar,” Sadeas said, eyes forward.
“Sadeas.” Dalinar kept his voice controlled and curt.
“You spoke with Vamah?”
“Yes,” Dalinar said. “He saw through what I was doing.”
“Of course he did,” Sadeas said, a hint of amusement in his voice. “I wouldn’t have expected anything else from you, old friend.
To the side, Vamah watched the two of them ride past. Earlier, Sadeas had approached him, explaining that he was going to have to raise what he charged for lumber. As Sadeas controlled the only large forest in the region, the only other way to get wood was through the king’s Soulcasters.
Vamah’s expression was as thunderous as a highstorm. He likely though the only reason he’d been invited on the hunt was so that he could be maneuvered by Sadeas and Dalinar. He was right.
“Will it work?” Dalinar asked.
“If it doesn’t, we’ll think of something else. But I think it will serve as a strong enough reminder. Vamah is an agreeable enough fellow, when prodded. He just needed to remember how fragile his position is.”
All of the talk about wood was, of course, metaphoric. Vamah’s army—and all of the armies—were fed using Elhokar’s Soulcasters, which could turn rocks into grain. That grain was sold at a high price, but the highprinces had no choice but to buy it. Running a supply line all the way back to Alethkar would have been even more expensive.
“Perhaps we should tell Elhokar about these sorts of things,” Dalinar said, glancing at the king, who had joined Vamah and was chatting with him, oblivious to what Dalinar and Sadeas had done.
Sadeas sighed. “I’ve tried; he hasn’t a care for this sort of work. Leave the boy to his own preoccupations, Dalinar. His are the grand ideals of justice, holding the sword high as he rides against his father’s enemies. This kind of work would simply dishearten him.”
“Lately, he seems less preoccupied with the Parshendi,” Dalinar said. “And more worried about assassins in the night. The boy’s paranoia worries me. I don’t know how he’s come about it.”
Sadeas laughed, causing Dalinar to turn.
“You don’t know where he comes about it?” Sadeas asked, still laughing. “Dalinar, are you serious?”
“I’m always serious.”
“I know, I know. I needn’t even have asked. But surely you can see where the boy comes by it!”
“From the way his father was killed?”
“From the way his uncle treats him! Two thousand guards for a simple hunt well within the army’s defensive perimeter? Halts on each and every plateau to let soldiers ‘secure’ the next one over? Really, Dalinar?”
“I like to be careful.”
“Others call that being paranoid!”
“The codes are a bunch of idealized nonsense,” Sadeas said, “devised by poets to describe the way they think things should have been.”
“Gavilar believed in them.”
“And look where it got him.”
“And where were you, Sadeas, when he was fighting for his life?”
Sadeas rolled his eyes, ornamented crimson helm reflecting sunlight. “So we’re going to fight now? Like old lovers, crossing paths unexpectedly at a feast?”
Dalinar clenched his teeth, forcing down his anger. “It was not Gavilar’s fault,” he said, “nor the fault of the codes, that he ended where he did. It was our fault. Yours and mine. We both know this.”
Sadeas turned away from him, but—after a moment—nodded curtly. Gavilar was gone. Both blamed the other for that, but at the same time, they both blamed themselves as well. The only thing they had left of the king that had united them, the king that had inspired them, was a son.
“I’ll protect the boy my way,” Sadeas said. “You do it your way. But don’t complain to me about his paranoia when you insist on wearing your uniform to bed, just in case the Parshendi suddenly decide—against all reason and precedent—to attack the warcamps. ‘I don’t know where he gets it’ indeed!”
Dalinar gritted his teeth, turning away. “Let’s get on with this hunt.” He flipped his reins, urging his horse forward, leaving Sadeas behind.
“Dalinar,” the other highprince called from behind.
Dalinar hesitated, looking back
“Have you found it yet?” Sadeas asked. “Why he wrote what he did?”
Dalinar his head. Brother. You must find most important words a man can say.
They’d destroyed the sentence as soon as they’d found it. Had it been some kind of profane trick played by the assassin, or had Gavilar actually known how to write, defiling himself by practicing a feminine art?
And if it was a trick, then how had the assassin known to write out a quote from Gavilar’s favorite book? A book nearly everyone else in Alethkar scorned?
“You’re not going to find the answer,” Sadeas said. “It’s a foolish quest, Dalinar. One that’s tearing you apart. I know the what happens to you during storms. Your mind is unraveling because of all this stress you put upon yourself.”
Dalinar said nothing to that. He just turned and continued to ride across the bridge.