A Triad Outtake
From chapter 21, after Louarn’s first scene and a white-line space. The visants had decided, in the previous chapter, to seek help after they gleaned the intorsion. The implication here is that they’d decided to seek out Louarn first—but they got to Keiler’s farmstead just after Louarn had dreamed himself to Gir Doegre.
When Ioli, Rekke, and Mauzl came back into their bodies at the end of their transit from the Toes, they were in the sleeproom of a modest cottage. A rugged-looking Highlander bent over a chest at the foot of the bed, stuffing clothing into a battered pack. He did not look up at first. He did not sense their presence at all.
Ioli remembered him. Louarn’s pledge.
“He was here,” Rekke said. “I can smell him.”
The Highlander’s head rose, followed by his body. He was as tall as Rekke. He cocked his head.
“Where are we?” Ioli whispered.
“In the Haunch,” Rekke said. “Downland of where we were.”
“So you’re back, eh?” said the Highlander. “He was going to look for you.”
“Where is he?” Ioli asked.
“Does it matter? Can’t you find him wherever he is? You found your way here.” The Highlander bent to finish his packing.
Ioli opened his mouth to explain that it was difficult for him to move through unfamiliar places, but it seemed such a feeble thing to say.
Rekke pulled him toward the room’s doorway. “He can’t be far. We’ll find him ourselves.”
“He’s gone,” the Highlander said. In those two quiet words, Ioli gleaned far more than he wanted to. Then the Highlander was gone, out the door, not caring whether they stayed or left. He was following his pledge, the long overland way, the only way he could. That auburn-haired runner was going to meet them. Ioli couldn’t remember her name. Pelkin’s daughter. There was someone important, someone in . . . “The Strong Leg,” he said.
“The Strong Leg, the Scrawny Arm, the Backside,” Rekke grumbled. “We can’t just go haring after him every which way. He might have moved again by the time we get there, off on some other great mission.”
Not if people are taking long rides to where he is, Ioli thought. But they were riding to see the other person, not him. And one of them was a birdmaster. Birds found the people they loved. They could find her anywhere to message a change in destination. Rekke was right. They had no idea what Louarn was up to, or where he would go.
“It’s a risk every time we move,” Rekke finished, “and there’s no guarantee he can do anything about the burnhole. Or Jhoss. Or those sedgeworms upland in Sauglin. This is a fool’s chase.”
“Then we have to fix it ourselves, just like the last time,” Ioli said. They’d had this argument all through the morning meal. “What I did for minds,” he’d say, “you ought to be able to do for a twistedness in space. It’s a border between realms, and there’s something wrong with it. Realms are your gleaning.” Rekke would say, “I move us through them. Isn’t that enough?” He would reply, “For me. Not for the shield on the Fist.”
Rekke was sick of the debate, and tired enough to start giving in. “It isn’t none’s-land anymore, Ioli. You won’t be immune to the things that are attacking that place. Neither will I.” And I don’t think I’ll be able to thrash them, Ioli gleaned on him, before he shook himself to cover up the fear.
I took this out and had the visants find Louarn in the middle of his dreaming passage to Gir Doegre: they encounter him in the crystalline tunnel and arrive in Gir Doegre on his heels. That was faster, and less narratively flabby than this near miss, although what verges on an over-the-top hither-and-yon chase is also arguably more realistic, less contrived, and less convenient than the more direct route. But the benefit to the plot in this case outweighed the impulse to show a possibly more realistic set of attempts and failures. (Or to preserve Rekke’s grumbling, and Ioli’s perspective on Keiler, both of which I like.)