Actually, this is a whole deleted subplot–or part of it. I’d written this for THE VOICE OF PROPHECY,
but had to cut it. The whole return trip to the Valley just didn’t make sense there. The urgency didn’t exist yet and it just wasn’t something Vatar would do at that point. It felt very out of character for him. I was sorry to lose it, because it set up a very nice short-term conflict between Vatar, Thekila, and Teran.
I’d hoped to fit the subplot into BEYOND THE PROPHECY,
This takes place as Vatar and his cohort are escorting Teran and Terania–two Valson completely unused to the plains–across the plains to Caere. Vatar’s twins are about four years old at this point. Vatar has earlier asked his former rival, Teran, to look after Thekila if it turns out Vatar is losing his mind.
They stopped at another waterhole that evening. Vatar, Arcas, and Quetza set about making camp, while Theklan took care of the horses and Thekila and Terania made preparations for an evening meal. The twins, free from their day-long confinement, ran around the campsite, releasing all their pent-up energy.
Vatar watched them for a moment. “Stay close. And don’t go near the water.”
He turned back to pitching one of the tents. Arcas and Vatar straightened at the same moment as the dogs began to bark. Vatar didn’t need to ask. Of course Arcas had sensed the lions coming down to drink at the far side of the water hole. Vatar immediately scanned the campsite. He spotted Savara pestering Thekila, but where was Zavar? He extended his Far Sight. The little boy had wandered near the water in spite of Vatar’s warnings. Much too close to the lions. Without meaning to, Vatar slipped into the viewpoint of the big male—watching Zavar as he drifted closer. He swallowed hard past the sudden lump in his throat. “Stop where you are, Zavar!”
Zavar stopped and looked back, wide-eyed at his father’s tone of voice.
Teran looked up, too. “What is it?”
Vatar strode forward and gathered up Zavar before he answered. “Look ahead of him, by the water’s edge. Behind the reeds.”
Teran squinted. “I don’t see anything.”
Arcas left the tents and went to scoop up Savara. “Look closer.”
Teran stiffened. “Lions!”
Vatar carried Zavar back to the center of the camp, shaking his head. “He’s going to be just like me. Always curious and always wandering off.”
Arcas bounced Savara in his arms. “Too bad Aunt Lucina isn’t here to tell us how she kept you out of trouble.”
Vatar set Zavar down next to Teran. “Lots of eyes, Arcas. There’s always someone told off to keep an eye on the children.” He took Savara and set her down next to her brother. “Teran, I’m afraid it’s going to be your job while we finish setting up camp. Keep them away from the water.”
Terania dropped the knife she’d been using to cut up the dried meat. “You mean we’re going to stay here? Aren’t we going to move camp somewhere safer?” Terania asked.
Arcas looked briefly toward the waterhole. “It’s safe enough. They’re already moving away. They just came down for a drink. Anyway, it’d take half the night to get to the next waterhole. That’d be more dangerous than staying here.”
“Do we set a watch tonight?” Quetza asked.Arcas snorted. “No need. The dogs will warn us of anything that approaches. That’s part of their job.”