Since Monday's post was a shorter one, I decided to post another one of my deleted scenes from my current work in progress, a royal fantasy/romance novel titled The Song of The Sword. A fair warning, a lot of these deleted scenes are going to be primarily about Avalon. When I started writing TSOTS, I had set it up for Avalon to slowly become Colin's love interest. Now that my plans have changed a little bit (a lot), there are a lot of scenes where Avalon and Colin are forming some sort of relationship that just didn't make the cut for this novel.
I have a really hard time "killing my darlings"- that is to say that I hate deleting scenes forever, so I keep my cut scenes in a separate document that I read when I need inspiration. I like to think of these scenes as practice, instead of a waste of my time. Practicing dialogue and everyday scenarios is something all authors should be doing to hone their craft. And now I get to cryogenically freeze them instead of killing them for the purposes of my blog! :)
In the leadup to this scene, I had written that Avalon didn't know how to ride a horse, and Colin decided to teach her- as you can imagine, chaos quickly ensues.
I deleted the scene mostly because it isn't really realistic for a princess to never have ridden a horse. I also took it out because it's far more character driven than plot driven and I'm trying to have a better balance.
But damn, this scene was so much fun to write and so funny that I couldn't let myself be the only person who sees it. Big thank you to Jessica Burkhart for being the reason I know so much about horses - check out my interview with her under the "Author Interviews" tab on the home page of the blog!
Without further ado, enjoy this chaotic neutral scene of Colin teaching Avalon how to ride a horse! Warning- there's a lot of profanity in this one, haha!
I walk down the slope to the stable with Avalon. “We found you a horse,” I say, “So you’re going to have some time with her while I groom Blossom, and then I’ll help you tack up Wyvern.”
Princess Avalon braids her hair back as we walk. “And she won’t kick me?”
“She won’t kick you,” I promise as we walk into the stable. Avalon heads down the aisle to Wyvern’s stall while I hang a left, walking down to Blossom. He’s looking out the back window at the paddock but turns when he hears me. “Hey, dude-“
Then I see a ball of orange fluff perched on the divider between Blossom and Stormfire’s stalls, his tail swishing with mischief.
“Pumpkin," I say, exasperated, “What are you doing?”
Blossom approaches the cat tentatively, sniffing at him as I reach for a body brush and start grooming him.
Pumpkin meows loudly and Blossom pins his ears, shuffling his feet anxiously. The cat swishes his tail, raising his paw like he's going to smack Blossom on the nose and I turn to the orange feline. “Get out of my horse’s stall, you overweight man-baby.” Pumpkin hisses at me, hackles raised, and I roll my eyes. “I'm not afraid of you, you know. If you hurt Blossom, I’ll hang you from the rafters by your tail,” I threaten cooly as he swishes his tail, meowing again angrily.
“Are you talking to my cat?”
I jump as Avalon peers over the stall door at the scene- Pumpkin, fluffy with rage, glaring at my horse, who has a hoof cocked, showing mild discontent, and me, my hand reaching for the dagger at my belt.
“Colinet Ezekiel Tanner,” she snaps, reaching for Pumpkin, who naturally curls in her arms with an anxious mew, the portrait of despair. “If I ever hear you talking that way about a member of my family again-“
I bark out a laugh. “A member of your family? He just tried to eat my horse!”
Behind me, Blossom snorts, as if to agree with me. Avalon makes a vulgar gesture at me and I laugh. “Oh, very polite, princess.”
I run a brush over Blossom’s poll, the threat eliminated enough for me to continue my grooming.
Pumpkin yowls pitifully again, and I roll my eyes.
“You’re breaking my freakin’ heart, man.”
“Leave him alone,” Avalon says, turning on her heel and heading back towards Wyvern, her cat still bundled in her arms like an infant. I turn to Blossom, who just looks at me, wide-eyed.
“I’ve gotta go help her. But I’ll hang out with you later, okay?”
Blossom turns to his hay net, unbothered, and I leave his stall, walking down the aisle. Avalon has Wyvern clipped in cross-ties and is grooming her at arms length as Pumpkin watches from a tack trunk. I grin at the sight. “You are going to get close to her at some point, right? You can’t just float above her back.”
Avalon glares at me. “I know, I know. I’m just…”
“You’re nervous. But you don’t have to be. Proportionally, you’re going to be fine, you're practically as tall as she is- oh, for god’s sake, give me that.”
I take the brush from her and run it vigorously over her back and sides- Avalon sneezes as dust flies from Wyvern’s coat. “She’s not made of glass, and she’s not going to shatter. You’ll never get her clean if you brush her like that.” Avalon mumbles something that sounds suspiciously like she's mocking my words.
I pick Wyvern's hooves and then set a saddle pad on her back. “I’m gonna lunge her for a bit first. You need to get a feel for how she moves before you do anything too tricky.”
She frowns. “I am not going to trot around the arena on a line like a goddamn carousel horse-“
“It’s that or I pony you on Blossom.”
She raises her eyebrows and I fold my arms.
“I’ll trot next to you on my horse, holding the line while you follow like a toddler on a leash-”
She glares. “Fine. I’ll get the lunge line.”
I smile widely. “Excellent.”
There’s no malice in our words. I think I actually hear her laughing to herself as she walks into the tack room.
Blossom pokes his head over his stall door, snorting anxiously. I look over my shoulder. “I’m not replacing you, bud, I swear.”
He huffs out a breath as Wyvern noses at my pockets for treats. I scratch her under her whiskery chin. “You’re just as spoiled as the rest of them, aren’t you?”
She snorts, blinking innocently at me from under delicate eyelashes. I take a carrot out of my pocket and offer it to her, my palm flat. She snatches it, munching happily on it as Avalon returns, lugging a saddle, the lunge line under her arm. I take the saddle from her and lift it onto Wyvern’s back. The little mare snorts, cocking her hoof as Avalon looks at her suspiciously. I nudge the princess lightly as I reach for the girth. “She’s doing that because she’s comfortable, you know. Pet your horse.”
She reaches out, running her hand down Wyvern’s neck. “Good girl,” I say, running my hand over Wyvern’s backside as I circle around to her left side to finish cinching her girth.
“Are you talking to me or the horse,” Avalon asks, and I grin.
“Very funny, princess.”
I toss a helmet to Avalon and slip a bridle over Wyvern’s head, buckling it into place. “Let me help you mount her here and I’ll walk you into the arena.”
I kick a bucket over and offer Avalon my hand as she steps up onto it. “Put your right foot in the stirrup and pull yourself up onto her back.”
Avalon frowns. “She won’t walk away, will she?”
I try not to laugh. “She’s clipped in, so, no. Don’t worry.”
Avalon mounts as I say and I grip her calf, giving her a boost. “Feet in the stirrups.”
I unclip Wyvern from the crossties
“Come on, little girl,” I say to the horse, clicking my tongue. I sling the lunge line over my shoulder and lead Wyvern into the outdoor arena. Dallon is on his mare, Cricket, sitting to her trot as they move around the arena. “Tighten your core,” I call, and he laughs, immediately correcting his posture. He does another two circuits around the arena before he tugs her to a halt.
“Do you need the arena?”
“I don’t want to cut your session short,” Avalon says quickly. I roll my eyes. “You’re not getting out of this lesson on a technicality.”
She whacks my shoulder with her left rein and I wince.
“I’ll leave you two to your bickering,” Dallon says cheerfully, dismounting Cricket and loosening her girth. The tall bay mare snorts at Wyvern, who flicks her ears in the direction of her friend. The two horses bump muzzles gently and I pretend not to notice Avalon’s fingers turning white as they clench around the reins. “It’s going to be fine,” I whisper, and her cheeks flush.
“Sit up,” I call, walking in slow circles around the arena. Avalon sits up in the saddle as Wyvern trots in circles on the thirty-foot lunge line in my hand.
“Lower your hands. You look like you're trying to fly away from her.”
She whirls to glare at me so quickly that she nearly topples out of the saddle. I grin.
“Easy. I’m kidding. You’re touchy this morning.”
She’s touchy every day. She flips me off.
“Both hands on the reins,” I scold, making her hiss an angry curse before picking up the left rein.
“Drop your heels. Toes up. Good.”
“What are you doing?”
I turn to see Aleyon, standing on the arena fence, his arms folded. I roll my eyes, releasing pressure on the lunge line and letting Wyvern walk. “Swimming. What does it look like I’m doing?”
“It looks like you’re doing something we pay other people to do instead of your job, General,” he says, hackles raised. “I’m sure Dalier would love to hear that you’re shirking your duties.”
“If you must know, her highness scared off every riding instructor in a ten mile radius,” I respond coolly, earning another glare from said princess. “And go ahead, tell Dalier. I’m sure he’ll be proud of me for using my day off to do something productive, unlike you. What did you do on your last day off? Gamble away your last coin? Goodbye.”
He snarls, but can’t come up with a comeback, so leaves the arena. I turn back to Avalon, trying not to laugh when I see that Wyvern is nosing at a flower growing in the grass at the edge of the arena while Avalon tugs lightly on her reins, trying to refocus her. “Maybe we should rename her. Blossom II.”
This gets a rare laugh. “Maybe. But I don’t blame her- you totally abandoned our lesson to tell off the rat.”
I grin, delighted. “I wish Dallon had heard you say that. He’d kiss you.”
Wyvern snorts, stomping her hoof, and I tug on the lead a little, guiding her back to the center of the arena. “Are you ready to try trotting?”
“Are you ready to be nice to me when I look like shit while trotting?”
I laugh. “Maybe.”
“If you let me fall off, you’re fired as my riding instructor,” she threatens, though I can tell there’s little malice in her words. What lies behind it is fear.
“If you fall off, it’ll be because Wyvern’s had enough. But I don’t think she will. As long as you don’t let go of the reins, she won’t freak out. I’ve got the lunge line, so you should be fine.”
She sits up straight in the saddle, adjusting the helmet I’d told her she needed. “Start at a walk,” I say.
(this is potentially another lesson, I didn't feel like writing in the time change and it's too funny to leave out of this post)
I swing the end of the lead line in slow circles, encouraging Wyvern forward. “Do you want to take her over some jumps?”
Avalon whirls to look at me. “You think I’m ready for that?”
“If you can trot around the arena twice in the two-point position, you’re ready.”
“Pull her up and I’ll show you.”
Avalon tugs on the reins, encouraging Wyvern to halt, and dismounts. I grin as she winces, walking a few steps. “Yeah…that never goes away.”
She glares at me, practically throwing Wyvern’s reins into my hands. I laugh, putting my boot in the stirrup and swinging up onto the mare’s back. Wyvern immediately tenses, snorting, staring at Avalon with wide eyes. I grin, reaching down to pat her neck. “Hey, kiddo. I know I’m not your mama.”
Avalon’s face is soft as she looks at her horse. “You look positively massive on her.”
I chuckle. “I know, she’s at least four hands shorter than Blossom. But I’m not so big that I’ll hurt her. Come on, little lady.”
I click my tongue, urging Wyvern forward gently with my hands and legs. She walks hesitantly, fully turning her head to look at Avalon. I grin as we walk around the arena. “She trusts you fully if she keeps looking at you like that.”
“Is that two-point?”
I try not to laugh. “No. This is just walking.”
I crouch in the stirrups, running my hands up Wyvern’s neck gently and urging her into a trot. “This is two-point,” I say, holding the jumping position as we trot around the arena. Avalon watches me. “That looks painful.”
It is- I wobble a little in the stirrups and Wyvern snorts, tossing her head and rushing forwards so quickly that I have to plop back into the saddle and tug on the reins, pulling her to a halt. “Shit.”
Avalon walks over, taking her horse’s reins. “Should I be scared that you couldn’t do it?”
I hop out of the saddle, ignoring Wyvern’s visible sigh of relief. “No. You’re a hundred pounds lighter and a foot shorter than me and I’m used to doing it on a very differently shaped horse. Here. Hop on and I’ll show you how to get into position.”
She climbs back up onto Wyvern. “Colin…are you going to touch my ass?”
I chew on the inside of my cheek to keep from giggling like a schoolgirl. “Briefly, yes.”
“Just promise me one thing.”
“I won’t squeeze it unless you really want me to.”
“No, not that,” she says, exasperated.
“You have to promise to enjoy yourself, I’m having a bad ass day.”
I bark out a laugh. “Aww, Avalon. Your ass looks great.”
She lifts herself out of the saddle, clutching Wyvern’s mane for balance. “Oh, God. What the fuck?”
I grin, putting my hand on her lower back lightly, helping her position herself. “Put your hips forward a bit- fantastic ass, by the way-”
“I hate you.”
“I don’t think you do,” I sing. “Alright, it looks good. Wyvern, trot.”
The little bay mare leaps forward, trotting around the arena as Avalon releases a string of expletives, struggling to stay upright.
“Oh, fuck my hell, I’m gonna go over her shoulder-“
“Chest up, head up,” I call, cracking up as Avalon corrects her posture, her face wavering between terror and joy.
“Hold onto her mane if you need to,” I coach.
“What the Jesus Christ is happening-“
I laugh harder, tears squeezing out of my eyes as Avalon does another shaky lap around the arena. “Shit, fuck- Colin, stop laughing at me!”
I put my hands on my knees, shaking with laughter. “Oh, God, it’s-“ I wheeze. “It’s too much.”
“I’m going to KILL YOU- WYVERN!”
Her horse has stopped abruptly, lowering her head to sniff at a wildflower growing at the edge of the arena. That’s it for me- I have to sit down, laughing so hard I can barely breathe, clutching my stomach.
Avalon loses her balance shrieking as she pitches forward, landing on her butt in the dirt. “Oh, fuck,” I croak, stumbling to my feet. “Are you okay?”
She lurches to her feet, swearing. “I’m fine- I hate you!”
I wipe my eyes, still struggling to get my laughter under control. “I’m sorry, I’m legitimately so sorry, but it couldn’t be helped, you- you screamed the entire time.”
“I thought I was going to fall off and I did- it’s not funny!” But even she’s laughing as she turns to look at her horse, who is lipping happily at weeds. “You stupid thing. ”
Wyvern raises her head from the grass, stems and blossoms poking from between her lips, and I roar with laughter again, clutching my stomach. “God, it-it hurts.”
“You’re the worst.”
“Same time tomorrow?”
Sooooo...what do you think? I love this scene so much and I'm so happy to get to add more to my "My Work" tab on this blog :) Do you guys want more posts like this? Let me know in the comments!