This scene would have been Chapter 20 of The Daylight War, introducing the POV of Inquisitor Hayes, who played a MUCH stronger role in the original draft of The Painted Man, and who I wanted to introduce as another POV for the Hollow, to cover some areas that the main characters might not witness.
Why It Was Cut
When writing a sprawling series such as the Demon Cycle, one must be very careful about adding additional point of view characters, as they tend to come with their own needs, wants, and subplots that can derail a main story. Frankly, I already have more than I am comfortable keeping up with. When you’ve got to, you’ve got to, but in the end I decided Hayes’ perspective wasn’t essential to the story, and introduced subplots that became increasingly irrelevant as Arlen’s powers continued to grow. The scene in question, leading up to the big wedding, also works much better from Renna’s POV.
Alas poor Hayes. I knew him well. Another POV left on the roadside on the path to the Core.
Tender Hayes walked the Corelings’ Graveyard, watching as the Cutters prepared their patrols. Though fit to walk without support, he gripped his crooked staff tightly. The goldwood staff, carved with hundreds of lacquered wards, was more than a crutch, more than a symbol of office. It was a reminder of the protections the Creator had given mankind to help them through the Plague until the Deliverer came again.
Men and women bowed as he passed, some drawing wards in the air. He nodded in return, giving blessings to the warriors before they risked themselves, much as his predecessor had done. Tender Jona’s ultimate fate would rest in great part with Hayes’ report, but the Inquisitor had found little thus far to cast fault on the man. His faith had been good and true, and he was loved by the Hollowers, walking among them with humility, unafraid to stain his robes with blood and dirt, trusting in the Creator to protect him as he tended the sick with his own hands. Hayes doubted more than a handful of the hundreds of Tenders in Fort Angiers would do the same. There was only the question of his heresy in proclaiming the Warded Man the Deliverer.
And that was only heresy if it proved false.
The cobbles gave a soft glow as they gathered magic, making traditional lighting all but unecessary. It was beautiful and elegant, reminding all that while here, on the consecrated ground where the foundations of the new cathedral were being laid, they were under the protection of the Creator and safe from the Core’s Plague.
The protection of the Creator, or the Deliverer? The question ate at him, for while all ward magic came from the Creator, the greatwards of Hollow County had not been designed by the faithful.
Whoever he was, Arlen Bales knew his warding. Hayes had thought no one outside the Tenders of the Creator—most trained to ward before they could read—could draw sigils of such beauty and strength. For centuries the great cathedrals of the Free Cities had stood as the finest examples of divine power—though they stood behind great wardwalls and were seldom tested. The Inquisitor was forced to admit that Mr. Bales made their work seem like the shaky scrawls of novices, and his apprentice Mistress Paper was a close second.
Hayes had given up his position as leader of the Council of Tenders and once again taken on the warded chasuble of High Inquisitor to come with Prince Thamos to Hollow County because he had more experience than any man alive exposing the fraud of false Deliverers. Three men had burned for that crime under his watch, no longer to spread their lies and get good folk killed.
But Arlen Bales spread no lies, vehemently denying the title so many sought him to claim. He was not humble before the crown or crooked staff, but that alone was not enough to damn him. The Deliverer was destined to unite the faithful and lead them into war with demonkind. Such a man was by nature above the laws and fallible interpretations of scripture mortal men clung to. His flesh was marked as in the prophecy, and there cold be no denying that he had returned to mankind magics lost to the ages. Whether he had divined the wards himself or simply recovered them from ancient ruins through his own courage and strength seemed a minor difference.
But Hayes was no fool, and had known the man only a short time. After their failed dinner—his own fault for allowing the haughtiness of his other guests to offend the man—they had little contact, and Mr. Bales heart was still a mystery. What did he want? What were his plans and goals? Was his bearing all an act, meant to win trust before he made a grab at power? There was no denying he could. If the Warded Man demanded it, the Hollowers—and more than likely a few of the count’s men and Hayes’ own acolytes, would turn on the count and Inquisitor in an instant, putting their heads up on spears and sitting him on a throne as both Shepherd and King. Thamos tolerated the man because he had no choice, but would as soon be rid of him now that the combat wards were returned, and Hayes knew he was not above having the man killed if it proved necessary.
The newly elevated General Gared strutted the Graveyard with the Butchers at his back, giving instructions to the teams of Cutters to keep a steady presence through the seven townships of Hollow County. Each town was built on its own greatward, six of them circled around the central keyward of Cutter’s Hollow. When completed, the greatwards would interlink, banishing corelings for miles in every direction, but thus far only three were fully functioning: Cutter’s Hollow, New Rizon, and Journey’s End. Still, it was rare to see anything other than a wind demon in Hollow County. The land was hunted clean.
Hayes did not know General Gared, and had not approved of the count’s decision to elevate the man on the spot, regardless of political expedience. From what the Inquisitor has seen, Gared was not terribly bright, nor suited to such a position. Seeing him in action, though, it became clear that Thamos had chosen wisely. Gared trusted the Butchers to handle much of the administration of his troops, serving instead—as nobility should—as a source of inspiration and morale. Indeed, the new general was huge and imposing, his warded gauntlets said to have battered and crused the life from demons even when his great axe and machete were not to hand. His very presence and bearing lent a sense of safety and comfort to new recruits and seasoned demon hunters alike. When his armor was complete, it would only be more so.
The Inquisitor looked with more suspicion upon the heathen warriors giving spear lessons at the far side of the cobbled square. The Drillmaster, Kaval, had brought violence to the count’s throne room, and for that alone, Hayes would have liked to see him in irons, but Thamos had taken General Gared’s advice to let them train the men, and he could not deny that the Krasian techniques were effective. Kaval taught roughly, striking those who were slow to obey or learn, but he soon had a group of new recruits—’raw wood’ as the Cutters called them—thrusting their spears properly in unison. The techniques were virtually identical to those taught by the Warded Man, which further confirmed his claims of having trained with the desert warriors.
Men who hold to a different God.
Oh, they called Him Creator, but this Everam was not the God Hayes had spent his life in service to, the God who loved and forgave the good, protected the weak, and punished the wicked. He had heard tales of the unspeakable things the dama of Everam had done to Tenders of his order, and the harsh laws they imposed on all others. Did Mr. Bales’ disrespect for the Tenders of the Creator stem from his own divine compass, or because his loyalties lay with the southern Creator? Was his battle in the count’s throne room real, or an act for the benefit of count and Inquisitor?
So many unanswered questions.
Gared let out a shrill whistle, and the next patrol gathered in a tight square before the raised platform and soundshell at the far end of the Graveyard. Hayes climbed the steps to where Child Franq waited, holding a Canon he opened to a marked page and set on the pulpit.
Hayes nodded briefly to his acolyte, then turned to the gathered warriors, keeping his eyes just above their heads, seeming to look at all and none of them at once. He nodded, and the men and women all fell to one knee, bracing their axes, spears and bows against the cobbled stone as they bowed their heads in silent prayer.
The Inquisitor did not so much as glance at the book, knowing its words and blessings as well as his own name.
There is no man not your brother…
There was movement at the edge of his sight, and Hayes glanced up to see the Warded Man enter the Graveyard, Renna Tanner as always as his side. The Cutters, kneeling with heads bowed and eyes closed, had not yet noticed him, but everyone else in the stopped to watch as the two approached. They stopped just a few feet from the stage steps, and the Warded Man stood there, arms crossed, his eyes locked on those of the Tender.
Such was the intensity of that stare that Hayes nearly stumbled over his prayer and had to force himself to continue. He flicked a hand, and Franq left his side to speak with them while he continued to call down the blessings of the Creator on those about to risk themselves in the night.
What does he want? Mr. Bales had always given the Inquisitor a wide berth, focusing his attention on the warriors and their training, and of late he had spent most of his time in other townships entirely, helping them build their greatwards; healing the sick; recruiting and training warriors.
When the prayer was ended, the Cutters opened their eyes and stood, immediately noticing the pair. General Gared moved as if to speak with them, but the Warded Man gave a slight shake of his head, and he kept his place.
Franq motioned to him with some urgency, but the Inquisitor could not be seen scurrying about like an acolyte summoned by the Shepherd. He kept his head held high and moved with slow dignity, a contrast to the racing of his thoughts. What could the man want?