So, first up is this deleted opening – which was once going to kick off of Book 1, City of Masks. It’s a scene which tries to establish the city a little, and shows a little of a Storm Singer in action too.
(In the end I felt it was a little too far removed from the main story-line, namely Notch and Sofia, and so it ended up hitting the cutting room floor 🙂 )
Anaskar clung to the bluestone mountains that protected it, bathed in a heavy sea-mist which dampened the enormous walls and diffused any possible glow. The city shouldered its way into the air, a half-circle of spires with dark windows for eyes that had long ago been turned to the ocean. The passage of feet on stone was lost to the wind and beneath its rising howl, the crack of waves breaking against stone echoed across the bay, before it too was swallowed in the failing light of dusk.
A figure in a thick cloak walked Anaskar’s sea wall, moving out amongst choppy water, which sloshed over the sides. The paved spar stretched across the waves and its end was difficult to see in the mist, but the woman walked on, footing certain even as icy wind whipped the sea higher. The mosaic beneath her feet did not turn its course, catching the last of light from the sun and holding a faint, bluish glow.
She paused as a wave crashed over the side, water rising to her ankles and soaking the hem of her cloak. As soon as she was able, she kept on, increasing her pace, her heels smacking on the wet stone. A tall chair of stone waited at the end of the spar, and she hastened to it, pausing twice more as the waves became increasingly violent. Neither swept her from her feet, she had been here before.
The Storm Throne was drenched but she sat, gripping the arm rests and closing her eyes to the churning of the ocean; to the dark swirl of grey before her, where beyond waited ships in the harbour with its ancient Sea Gate. A wave crashed over her but she held tight, having felt it coming – it was not so large anyway. Salty water covered her skin, bitter on her lips, and she remained still, expectant.
As the rhythm of the sea soaked into her, along with the chill that soaked through her cloak and the robes beneath, she found its pulse. The patient anger, a forceful pummelling, an anger whose voice was ageless and unforgettable. Something stirred beneath the waters and she opened her mouth and sang.
A clear note cut through the wind.
The Song of Soothing rang out as Kalerin wove her voice with the wind and water, letting it slip between the nuances of the splash on stone and the waves pummelling the spar and the city walls behind her. As she sang the rise and fall of the old words, words she understood in a general way only, Kalerin began to sweat. Soothing the young storm was like dancing with an untrained partner who made unexpected moves that pulled you off balance but it was worse with the bigger storms, the ones only her father could calm.
She sang on, lashed with wind and water, eyes clenched her voice soared, spluttering occasionally, until finally, when the song was finished and a hush had fallen over the night, she opened her eyes to a smooth ocean stretching beyond the bay. It ran in an endless expanse of black that barely caught the reflection of hesitant stars overhead.