6 Days! And a favourite scene
One of my favourite scenes was one actually added in later after advice from the amazing Angela. Anyone who read the earliest draft of The Emperor's Arrow won't have gotten to see this, so I thought I'd share part of it.
“Both myself and Kalendae have been well trained in case of attacks. And you should take care while alone as well.” Galen stared down at her for a moment, then shifted so he could swing a leg over his saddle, dismounting in one swift movement.
Evony watched him, noting he still wore his usual blank face. With what Balint had told her, she found it less bothersome than she typically did, but she still wanted to break through it. “I’m fine. You should really have guards with you here. The trees are a great place to set up an ambush.”
“I do not think most are as comfortable as you appear in the trees and I doubt many would think to attempt an attack while perched so precariously.”
She propped a hand on her hip. “It’s easy enough to brace yourself in a tree and there are more than a few that are solid enough with low branches that would make good spots for that kind of thing. Don’t you remember climbing trees as a child and how easy some of them were to get into?”
A faint wrinkled appeared between Galen’s brows. “I have never had that experience.”
Evony stared at him for a moment. “You’ve never climbed a tree? Even as a child?”
He shook his head then glanced up at the one that she’d come out of. “I presume it is not difficult?”
That decided her. “Tie Kalendae over there,” she said, gesturing towards one of trees with low, thick branches. “And you can see for yourself.”
Galen looked at her then back at his horse. “I am not so certain that this is dignified.”
Evony grinned. “It’s not. But it’s something you should do at least once. You’re not afraid, are you?”
He held her gaze for a moment, glanced over at the tree, then back at her. “If you think it is a necessary experience…”
When she only continued to smile at him, he exhaled slowly, walking Kalendae a short distance away. It took him no time at all to tie his mount securely and return to Evony. She didn’t give him the option of getting out of it and grabbed his hand, pulling him along behind her.
Evony chose the tree two away from the chestnut she’d been in before. The oak had more thick branches lower and they were closer together than the ones in the chestnut. Just the thing for a novice climber. The thought made her grin again, tickled to have found a weakness of Galen’s. There were chinks in his stone armour and she was going to break through it and find the real him if she could.
She stopped in front of the oak and dropped his hand then, flashing him a smile over her shoulder. “Just follow me and do what I do. It’s not hard, I promise.”
Galen nodded but his lips had a distinct downward pull. Evony swallowed a chuckle at his obvious reluctance. Still, she wasn’t about to risk his safety and made sure she moved slowly as she pulled herself up onto the first branch. Normally she’d have swarmed up like a squirrel, and it required a lot of thought to keep to a reasonable speed. She paused with an arm hooked around a branch several passus up, and looked back at Galen.
He was close behind her, a few bits of bark clinging to his hair, his face set as he moved gingerly, a hand always wrapped tight around a branch. Glad he was keeping up, Evony continued until she reached a wide branch that curved on an upward slant, creating a natural seat. Once she was level with it, she shimmied herself along, leaving the part closer to the trunk for Galen.
With her arm around a thinner branch that went almost straight up from where she sat, Evony watched Galen close the remaining distance between them. He eyed the space she’d obviously left for him before he actually shifted into it. The branch swayed as he settled himself, his hands pressed into the wood beneath him, leaning into the trunk slightly.
“See?” Evony grinned. “It’s not so bad. And you wouldn’t get a view like this from below.” She swept her arm out to indicate the way you could see spots of blue sky through the ever-shifting tapestry of green and brown, while the ground beneath them was a mix of bushes, moss, grass, and the odd wildflower.