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The Way of Kings Chapter 26 (D)

This early draft chapter corresponds to chapter 26 in the final book.

“I stood in the darkened monastery chamber,” the woman read, standing at the lectern with the tome open before her, “its reaches painted with pools of black where light did not wander. I sat on the floor, thinking of that dark, that Unseen. I could not know, for certain, what was hidden in that night. Yes, previous rooms held walls, sturdy and thick, but could I know without seeing? When all was hidden, what could a man rely upon as True?”

Dalinar stood, listening to the woman read, as he regarded the maps on the wall of his sitting room. They were copies of maps from the Gallery.

“Candle flames,” the woman—Litima—continued reading. The selection was from The Way of Kings, read from the very copy that Gavilar had once owned. “A dozen candles burned themselves to death on the shelf before me. Each of my breaths made them tremble. To them, I was behemoth, to frightened and destroy. And yet, if I strayed too close, they could destroy me. My invisible air, the pulses of life that flowed in and out, could end them freely while my fingers could not do the same without being returned with pain.”

Renarin stood next to Dalinar, wearing a coat of blue and silver, star-shaped epaulets on the shoulders marking him as the son of a Highprince. The youth glanced at Dalinar, looking faintly confused, as if he didn’t know whether he was to be listening to the reading or studying the map.

“I understood in a moment of stillness,” Litima read. “Those flames were like the lives of men. So fragile. So deadly. Left alone, they lit and warmed. Let run rampant, they would destroy the very things they had been set to illuminate. I contemplated those miniature bonfires, each bearing a seed of destruction so potent it could tumble cities and cast kings their knees. In later years, my mind would return to that calm, silent evening, staring at rows of living lights. And I would understand. To be given loyalty is to be invested like a sphere. To be granted the frightful license to destroy not only one’s self, but all beneath one’s care.”

Litima fell still. It was the end of sequence, and she regarded Dalinar, hesitant. Was she to continue?

Dalinar nodded to her. “Thank you, Brightness Litima. That will do.”

The woman—wife to Bendon, one of his officers—nodded in respect. Tall and plump, she wore a gown of violet silk and yellow trim, not as form-fitting as some, accentuated with sashes around the arms and the waist. She gathered her ward from the side of the room and they withdrew. She left the book on the lectern; it belonged to Dalinar, and left Dalinar and Renarin alone in the lavish room.

Dalinar had spent the better part of his life in one warcamp or another; he’d slept in wagons, stone barracks, and tents pulled tight against leeward stone formations. Whatever it took to protect from Highstorms. Compared to that, his current home was virtually a palace. Soulcast into a dozen different chambers with hallways between, it held wood furnishings, fine woven rugs imported up from Maraki, and comfortable sitting chairs. Afternoon wine—orange, as to not be intoxicating—sat on a high-legged serving table in the corner and the walls were lit by clusters of diamond spheres hanging in chandeliers from the corners of the room.

Sometimes, this didn’t feel like a war at all, but a vacation.

Dalinar walked to the lectern and ran his fingers along the thick pages, stained with violet ink. He couldn’t read the words, but he felt he could almost feel them, emanating from the page like Stormlight from a sphere. His latest vision still troubled him. He kept trying to tell himself that it had been a figment of his imaginings, but how could he have fabricated such a vivid experience? There seemed to be too much to it.

Maybe he just wanted to believe the visions. To believe in a time when Alethkar had been a place that others looked toward for protection, a place that had nurtured the Knights Radiant. A place where war and battle had always meant something. Maybe he was desperate to believe that something, out there, was offering him guidance and help.

But to not move against Sadeas? To trust a man who had been his enemy for so long?

His fingers rested on the book, filled with its ridiculous ideals and lofty thoughts. The Radiants had used this text, and so it had been tarnished ever since the War of Loss. Jasnah claimed that the ways of the Radiants had eventually been adapted into the Alethi War Codes. That seemed a particular irony.

Sadeas was making an important ploy against him, their homeland was stressed nearly to breaking, the war was stalled, and suddenly he found himself captivated by the very ideals and stories that had led his brother to downfall. This was the time that the Alethi needed the Blackthorn, not an old, tired soldier who fancied himself a philosopher. Still, his touch was reverent as he closed the leather-bound tome, its pages shuffling, the spine crackling. He took it off the lectern, carrying it over to the bookshelf and placing it into the open place waiting for it.

“Father?” Renarin asked.

“I’m sorry, Renarin. I was lost in thought.”

“You are often troubled after readings from the book. Have you found why Uncle Gavilar quoted it?”
“No. I’ve found something else.”

Renarin cocked his head. “What?”

“I’m not sure I can explain it,” Dalinar said, tapping the spine of the book lightly. “Once this book was considered one of the great masterpieces of political literature. After Gavilar’s death, Jasnah spent years studying its history, seeking the reason he’d been so infatuated with it. She claims that once, kings around the world listened to its teachings daily.”

Renarin’s eyes flickered down to the tattoo hidden on the back of Dalinar’s hand. “Curious.”

Dalinar resisted the urge to pull his hand back. Renarin had a way of making him…well, of making anyone uncomfortable. At times, the lad spoke like a man several times his age.

“Here,” Dalinar said, walking back and pointing at the map. “Instead of wondering at your father’s oddities, help me with this. Rioin has refused my latest offer for an allegiance. Whom should I approach next?”
Renarin hesitated, then allowed his attention to be diverted to the map.

Dalinar continued, “I had hoped Rioin’s recent failures would make him most open to an allegiance. But he was too suspicious.”
Renarin shrugged. “Adolin says you should be far less worried about trying to unify the highprinces, and far more worried about Sadeas’s ploy to destroy us.”

The room fell silent. Renarin had a habit of doing that, felling conversations like an enemy archer on the battlefield hunting officers.

“Your brother is right to worry,” Dalinar said. “But moving against Sadeas would undermine the unity of Alethkar. Sadeas will decide the same thing; he loves this kingdom. He’ll see.”

I hope.

Adolin wanted to take an aggressive stance, refusing Sadeas’s investigators entrance to his camp, then the position of Highprince of Information would become meaningless. That would mean forbidding all of Sadeas’s men entrance, would have to expel any merchants with ties to him. It would be a distinct step away from unifying the camps, and would ruin any chance Dalinar had at being named Highprince of War. If he wouldn’t accept the king’s authority on this, who would?

The alternative, however, was to give Sadeas access. To maybe hand the man the very rope he needed to hang Dalinar.

Sadeas will see, Dalinar thought firmly, remembering the promises of his vision. If he says I tried to kill the king, it will mean war between us. He won’t do it.

Will he?

Bells sounded suddenly outside, echoing with a deep, resounding rings. Dalinar and Renarin froze, counting the bells. Parshendi spotted on the plains. Mid-central quarter of the front line. Soon, smaller, more-high pitched bells sounded—Dalinar’s scouts thought the contested plateau close enough for forces to reach first.

Dalinar dashed across the room, booted feet thumping on the thick Marakian rug. He threw open the door and entered a short hallway, which he charged down, exiting into a much larger hallway, set with Stormlight lamps. Unlike most of the other highprinces, Dalinar had not commissioned tile work for the floor of his complex.

Hand on the pommel of his arming sword, Dalinar hastened down the hallway toward the war room. Attendants and soldiers were already bustling in the hallway, and Dalinar’s door guards followed just behind Renarin.

The rock-walled hallway smelled of mold. That smell lingered, no matter what attempts Dalinar made at dispelling it. There were no windows, just those thick stone walls.

The war room door was open, and Teleb—highofficer on duty—saluted as Dalinar entered. Teleb was a straight-backed lighteyes with long hair he kept in a braid and a blue tattoo on his cheek, marking him as an Oldblood. His wife, Kalami, sat on a high stool on the side of the room with a writing platform. She wore her dark hair long with only two small braids up for propriety’s sake, while the rest it hung down the back of her violet dress, nearly reaching past the top of the stool. She was a historian of note, and had requested permission to record meetings like this one; she planned to scribe a history of the conquest of the Shattered Plains.

“Sir,” Teleb said. “Parshendi scouts spotted taking position on the thirty second plateau in koth sector.” He pointed to the battlemap, which had numbers and glyphs marking the plateaus. Dalinar stepped up to it, a group of other lighteyed officers gathering around him.

“How far away?” Dalinar asked, rubbing his chin.

“Perhaps two hours,” Teleb said, indicating a pathway one of his men had drawn onto the battlemap. “Highprince, sir, I think we have a good chance for this one. Brightlord Aladar will have to traverse these six unclaimed plateaus to reach the contested area, while we have nearly a direct line.”

Dalinar nodded slowly. The rules of the battlefield dictated that the other Highprinces could not cross plateaus that Dalinar controlled. He did, indeed, have the most direct line. That might just be enough to negate his disadvantage of not using mobile bridges.

“Very well,” Dalinar said. “We march. Someone send a runner for Adolin and tell him to don his Plate.”

The officers had too much Alethi decorum to whoop in excitement, but several did nod eagerly. He’d sensed hesitance from them lately; they’d probably heard the rumors spreading in the other warcamps. Well, he would show them that he still had fight in him. Taking a new plateau would do much for their morale.

As the officers scattered, Dalinar’s armor-bearers entered. It had only been a few minutes since the bells had rung, but after five years of fighting here, the machine of war ran smoothly when battle called.

The armor-bearers inspected his boots—checking to be certain the laces were tight—then brought a long padded vest to throw over his uniform. Next, they set the sabadons—the boot-like foot plates—on the ground before him. The insides glowed with the light of the sapphire gemstones—fixed into their setting inside each boot, padded as to not rub.

For a moment, Dalinar was reminded of his vision. The Radiant, his armor glowing with glyphs. Modern Shardplate didn’t glow like that. The gemstones inside were visible only before the armor was donned.

He stepped into sabadons, and the straps tightened of their own accord, fitting around his boots. The greaves came next, going over his legs and knees, locking onto the sabadons. Shardplate wasn’t like inferior plate and maile; there was no mesh of iron underneath and no leather at the seams. Shardplate seams were made of smaller plates, interlocking, overlapping, incredibly intricate. Looking closely, he could see miniscule weavings of wire holding it together. There were no open chinks and very little rubbing or chafing; each piece fit together perfectly, as if it had been crafted specifically for Dalinar.

One always put the armor on from the feet upward. Shardplate was extremely heavy; without the enhanced strength it lent, no man would be able to fight in it. Dalinar stood still as the armor-bearers affixed the Cuisses over his thighs and locked them to culet and fauds across his waist and lower back. A skirt made of small, interlocking plates came next, reach down to just above the knees.

“My lord,” Teleb said, stepping up to him. “Have you given thought to my suggestion with the bridges?”

“You know how I feel about carried bridges, Teleb,” Dalinar said as the armor-bearers locked his breastplate into place, then worked on the rebraces and vambraces for his arms. Already, he could feel the strength of the Plate surging through him.

“We would not have to use the smaller bridges for the assault,” Teleb said. “Just for getting to the contested plateau.”

“We’d still have to bring the chull-carried bridges to get across that last chasm,” Dalinar said. “I’m not convinced that bridge crews would move us any more quickly. Not when we have to wait for those animals.”

Teleb sighed.

Dalinar gritted his teeth. The mark of a good officer was one who accepted orders and fulfilled them, even when he disagreed. But the mark of a great officer was one who did that, but who also tried to innovate and offer suggestions when appropriate.

“You my recruit and train a single bridge crew,” Dalinar said. “We shall see. In these races, even a few minutes could be meaningful.”

Teleb smiled. “Thank you, sir.”

Dalinar waved with his left hand as the armor-bearers locked a gauntlet onto his right. He made a fist, tiny plates scraping. The left gauntlet followed. Then the gorget went on the neck, the paltrons on the shoulders, and finally the helm on his head. The armor bearers affixed the cape to the paltrons last.

Dalinar took a deep breath. Feeling the Thrill build for the approaching battle. He strode from the war room, footfalls firm and solid. Attendants and servants scattered before him, making way as he strode down the hallway. He was like a force—a mighty river washing all before its path. Shardplate was such a strange experience that he remarked on it still. The spring of the step, the momentum the armor seemed to lend him. He wanted to race down the hallway and….

And why not?

Chuckling, he broke into a sprint, dashing down the hallway. Teleb and the others cried out in shock, rushing to keep up. Dalinar outpaced them easily, reaching the front gates of the building complex and leaping through, throwing himself off the long steps leading up to his enclave. Air hissed against the chinks in his armor as he fell, and he exulted, smiling as he slammed against the stone ground. The force cracked the stone beneath him, and he crouched into the impact.

Before him, neat rows of barracks ran through his warcamp, formed in radials with a meeting ground and mess hall at the center of each battalion. Behind him, his officers reached the opening of the enclave, looking down with shock. Renarin was with them, wearing his uniform that had never seen battle, hand raised against the sunlight.

Dalinar felt a moment of foolishness. What was he, a youth just given his first taste of Shardplate? Back to work. Stop playing.

Perform, his infantrylord, saluted as Dalinar strode up. “Second and third battalions are on duty today, Brightlord,” the bald man said. “Gathering ranks to march.”

“First chull bridge division is gathered, Brightlord,” Havarah—the bridgelord—said, striding up. He was a short man, with some Herdazian blood in him as evidenced by the dark, crystalline fingernails, though he didn’t wear a sparkflicker. “I have word from Ashelem that the archery division is ready.”

“Cavalry?” Dalinar asked. “And where is my son?” “Here, father,” called a familiar voice. Adolin—Shardplate painted a deep Kholin blue—made his way through the gathering crowd. His faceplate was up, and he looked eager.

Dalinar nodded. “Excellent. How is…er…”

“Malasha, father,” Adolin said. “She’s well, though annoyed that I wouldn’t let her come with me.”

“She wanted to come into battle?”

Adolin shrugged. “Says she’s curious.”

Dalinar said nothing. Battle was a Masculine art. A woman wanting to come to the battlefield was like…well, like a man wanting to read. Unnatural.

And yet, the vision implied there were woman among the Knights Radiant, he thought as Teleb arrived and appraised Adolin of the situation. Ahead, in the staging area, the battalions were forming ranks, and a squat, uniformed lighteyes hurried up to Dalinar. He had patches of red hair on his otherwise dark Alethi head and a long, red mustache. Ilamar, the cavalrylord.

“Brightlord,” he said, “my apologies. Cavalry is mounted and ready.”

“We march, then,” Dalinar said. “Adolin, we—”

“Brightlord!” a voice said.

Dalinar turned as one of his messengers approached. The darkeyed man wore a brown uniform, marked with blue bands on the arms. He saluted, saying, “Highprince Sadeas has demanded admittance into the warcamp!”

Dalinar glanced at Adolin, who met his eyes.

“He claims the King’s Writ of Investigation grants him the right,” the messenger said hesitantly.

“Admit him,” Dalinar said, causing Adolin to sigh softly.

“Yes, Brightlord,” the messenger said, turning back. One of the lesser officers, Mortent, went with him so that Sadeas could be welcomed and couriered by a lighteyes as befitted his station. Mortent was least among those in attendance; nobody needed ask to know he was the one Dalinar would send.

Adolin joined Dalinar as they marched to the staging field, the various officers gathering behind them. Soldiers who were not currently on duty left their barracks and saluted as Dalinar passed.

“What do you think Sadeas wants?” Dalinar asked.

“Our blood,” Adolin replied, face dark. “Preferably warm, perhaps sweetened with a shot of tallew brandy. This is idiocy. We should lock down the camp!”

Dalinar shot a look at the youth, and Adolin blushed, glancing away. “I’m sorry, father. That was disrespectful.”

“Your opinions always have merit,” Dalinar said, “and you shouldn’t fear share them. But your tone could use some more care.”

“Why is it you’ll challenge and correct me,” Adolin said, “but not face down an eel like Sadeas?”

“He was a friend to my brother when he needed one,” Dalinar said. “And he knows what is best for Alethkar. We will show him respect, Adolin. Even if he does not show it to us. That is my will.”

“Very well,” Adolin said. “But father, you seem to want it both ways. You want to suspect Sadeas and believe in him at the same time. Don’t you see how problematic that is?”

Dalinar had no response for that. Perhaps because he couldn’t decide himself, at times, if the visions were real, or fabrications of his mind.

They soon passed into the staging field. The men had an air of anxious excitement as they formed ranks, spears held high, darkeyed citizen officers standing at the sides with axes on their shoulders. They saluted by rank as Dalinar marched past. At the front of the force, a group of chulls snorted and rummaged at the rocks by their feet; several enormous wagon-like wheeled bridges were connected to them by harnesses.

Gallant and Sureblood—Adolin’s white stallion—waited saddled, reins held loosely by grooms. Ryshadium hardly needed handlers. Once, Gallant had kicked open his stall and made his way to the staging grounds on his own when a groom was too slow in getting him ready. Dalinar patted the midnight stallion on the neck, then swung into the saddle.

He scanned the staging plain, then raised his arm to give the command to move. However, he noticed a group of mounted men riding up to the staging field, led by a figure in dark red Shardplate. Sadeas. Why had he come to the staging grounds?

Dalinar stifled a sigh and gave the command to move, though he remained waiting as Sadeas trotted in his direction. Adolin moved Sureblood over to, but gave Dalinar a glance that seemed to say “Don’t worry, I’ll behave myself.”

As always, Sadeas was a model of fashion, his armor painted, his helm ornamented with a completely different metallic pattern than he had worn last time. This one was shaped like a stylized sunburst. It looked almost like a crown. “Brightlord Sadeas,” Dalinar said. “This is an inconvenient time for your investigation.”

“On the contrary,” Sadeas said, reining in. “It is perfect. I have need to observe your men while marching and speak with some of them. What better time for this than an assault?”
“You want to come with us?”

“Why not? I won’t delay you.” He glanced at the chulls, who lurched into motion, pulling the bulky bridges. “I doubt that even should I decide to crawl to the contested plateau, I could slow you any further.”

Dalinar stiffened. To the side Teleb gave the command for the infantry to follow the chull bridges.

“Our soldiers need to be focused on the upcoming battle, Brightlord,” Adolin said. “They should not have to be bothered by inquiries.”

“The King’s will needs to be done,” Sadeas said, shrugging, not even bothering to look at Adolin. “Need I present the writ? Surely you don’t intend to forbid me.”

Dalinar studied his once friend, looking into those eyes, trying to see into the man’s soul. Sadeas lacked his characteristic smirk; he usually wore one of those when he was pleased with how a plot was going. Did he simply know that Dalinar was aware of how to read his expressions, and so masked his emotions?

What do you want with me? Dalinar thought. Are you plotting our downfall, as Adolin fears?

Unite them….

“No need to present anything, Sadeas,” Dalinar said. “My men are at your disposal. If you have need of anything, simply ask. Adolin, with me.”

Dalinar turned Gallant and charged him down the line toward the front of the marching army. Adolin followed, and Sadeas remained behind with his attendants.

The long ride began. The permanent bridges here were his, maintained and guarded by his soldiers and scouts, connecting plateaus that he controlled. All of the gems produced by gemhearts on those plateaus were his, and many of the early plateaus held harvesting operations. Gemhearts didn’t grow well if confined, and so herding them was really more a function of killing any predators nearby and dumping food onto the plateaus.

He spent most of the gems he harvested feeding his army, paying stipends to his officers and wages to his soldiers. Much of the rest went to paying the upkeep of his forces back in Kholinar, which protected his hereditary lands against encroachment.

Sadeas spent the trip riding near the middle of the column of eight thousand. He periodically sent an attendant to pull certain soldiers out of line.

Eight thousand men. A large chunk of his forces; at maximum, he could field around fourteen thousand. Again he wondered what would happen if the Highprinces could be persuaded to work together. How many men could they field? How many directions could they attack from at once?

Conventional wisdom insisted that the competition kept them all strong. When plants competed for space, they grew more able to weather the winds. When animals competed for food, they grew more wily. When men competed for glory, they grew more capable, better able to protect their homeland.

In a way, it was a twisted version of what the female knight had told him. Was it true? Had Alethkar once trained men in battlefield arts, remaining vigilant in case the Voidbringers struck? That was like what the Alethi did now—indeed, what the entire world seemed to do. Only the nobility of it had been stripped away, like the bones of an eel, pulled free so the flesh could be feasted upon.

He continued to ride, thoughtful. The War of Reckoning had stretched so long precisely because it offered a chance to fight against savage Parshendi in a seemingly-endless stream. The highprinces could kill and win glory without having to fight one another. The ardents liked it because it trained soldiers for battle—soldiers whose spirits could join the war for heaven, once they died.

And yet, it felt increasingly pointless to him. Certain plateau pathways forbidden to certain Highlords? Races to see who could attack the Parshendi first? They said they fought for vengeance, but in reality, they fought for gemstones, for prestige, and—ultimately—because they just wanted to be fighting. It was a foolish game with lives as the game pieces.

And it wasn’t just this war, either. What had the other battles of his life gained? The game of them hadn’t been quite so obvious, but the contrived rules had been there. Where and when one could strike. What targets one attacked and which ones were left alone. Had his victories really gained anything useful for his people? War, so they could live and fight more wars? Or die and fight more wars?

Suddenly, his life felt extremely hollow.

They eventually reached the end of the permanent bridges, and had to start waiting for the chull bridges to be lowered across the chasms. The large vehicles were built like siege towers, with enormous wheels and armored sections at the side where soldiers could push. Once the army reached the edge of the chasm, a crank at the back lowered the bridge down like an unbending hinge.

It was a slow process. Dalinar watched from horseback, tapping the side of his hogsleather saddle with an idle hand as his men finally got to cross. Perhaps Teleb was right. Could they use lighter, more portable bridges to get across these early chasms, then resort to the siege-bridges only for the final assault?

A clatter of hooves on rock announced someone riding up the side of the column. Adolin was on the other side of the chasm, leading the advance force. Dalinar frowned, turning. Who was…

Sadeas. The other highprince approached alone. He nodded to Dalinar as he arrived. Was that gesture flippant, or was Dalinar imagining it?

“Your soldiers are quite loyal to you,” Sadeas noted.

“Loyalty is the first lesson of a soldier’s life,” Dalinar said. “I would be worried if these men hadn’t yet mastered it.”

Sadeas sighed. “Really, Dalinar. Must you be so tedious all of the time?”

Dalinar didn’t reply.

“It’s odd, how a leader’s influence can affect his men,” Sadeas noted. “So many of these are just like smaller versions of yourself. Bundles of emotion, wrapped up and tied until they become stiff from the pressure. They’re so sure in some ways, yet so insecure in so many others.”

Dalinar kept his jaw clenched. Don’t trade barbs with him, he told himself. Act with honor, and expect to have honor returned to you.

Sadeas smiled, leaning in, speaking softly. “You want so badly to snap at me, don’t you? Even in the old days, you hated it when someone implied that you were insecure. Of course, back then, your displeasure often ended with a head or two rolling across the stones.”

“I killed many a man who did not deserve death,” Dalinar said. “A man should not fear losing his head because he took one too many sips of wine.”

“Perhaps,” Sadeas said lightly. “Don’t you ever just want to let it out, like you used to? Doesn’t it pound on you inside, like someone trapped inside a large drum? Beating, banging, trying to claw free?”

“Yes,” Dalinar said.

The admission seemed to surprise Sadeas.

“But I don’t,” Dalinar said, eyes forward. “A man’s emotions are what defines him, and control it is the hallmark of true strength. To lack feeling is to be dead, but to act on every feeling is to be a child.”

Sadeas signed again. “That has the stink of a quote about it, Dalinar. From Gavilar’s little book of virtues, I assume?”

Dalinar hesitated. When had he started quoting The Way of Kings without realizing it?

“Doesn’t bother you at all,” Sadeas said with a sneer, “that the Radiants betrayed us?”

“Legends,” Dalinar found himself saying. “The Recreance, the War of Loss, they are lost in time. What did the Radiants really do? Why did they do it? We don’t really know.”

“We know enough. They used elaborate tricks to imitate great powers and pretend holy calling, then when they were discovered in their falseness, they fled.”

“Their magics were not lies. They were real.”

“Oh?” Sadeas said, amused. “You know this? Didn’t you just call those events ‘lost in time?’ If the Radiants had such marvelous powers, why can nobody reproduce them? Where did those incredible feats go?”

“I don’t know,” Dalinar said softly. “Perhaps we’re just not worthy of them any longer.”

Sadeas snorted. “Listen to yourself. Do you even realize what you’re saying?”

Dalinar felt like looking away in shame. His only proof for what he said were his visions, visions that he doubted. And yet, if Sadeas belittled something, he suddenly wanted stand up for it.

“That book ruined Gavilar,” Sadeas said. “Now it’s doing the same to you. You’re the one playing games, Dalinar. You’ve listened to these stories so much they’ve got your head full of pretend ideals. Nobody ever really lived the way the codes claim.” Sadeas shook his head. “This kingdom grew poor the day Gavilar dug up that cursed book of lies.”

“He once told me that the book saved him,” Dalinar said quietly. “It was about a year before he was assassinated. I remember it vividly, standing beside the Impossible Falls of Kholinar, one evening after returning from the hunt where we met the Parshendi. He said that the book had rescued him. I didn’t understand. But I’m beginning to see.”

“Well, if that is what it means to be rescued, then I’d rather it not rescue you, old friend. Isn’t it better to burn a rug in a moment of glorious flames than let it fade away and wear to nothing?”

Dalinar gritted his teeth, then took a deep breath, calming his rage. “Sadeas,” he said. “We need to work harder to unify the warcamps. I want your help, now that you’re Highprince of Information.”

“To do what?” Sadeas asked, amused.

“To do what needs to be done. For the good of Alethkar.”

“That’s exactly what I’m doing, old friend,” Sadeas said, smiling wider. “Perhaps what would be best for Alethkar would be if you were to stop whining so often and start acting like a man again.”

Dalinar closed his eyes. “Do you enjoy my pain so much, Sadeas? Are the taunts that precious to you?”

Sadeas snorted. “Perhaps I taunt you simply because I long to see some of the old spark. Something to remind me of the man I once loved fighting alongside.”

Hoofbeats fell on stone as Sadeas road away, the sounds mingling with the cacophony of thousands of soldiers marching across stone and bridge.

I was not built for this, Dalinar thought. I live your will poorly, Gavilar. I’m sorry.

He sighed, opening his eyes and crossing the bridge, Gallant’s hooves thumping on the wood. Dalinar owned these plateaus as well, though they were close enough to the battle front that the Parshendi frequently raided and burned down permanent bridges.

The Parshendi were so strangely precise. Once a new plateau was taken, they would never return to contest that plateau again—they might raid bridges there, but would never set up a full battle. There was a strange, ritualized feel to it. How he wished he understood why they did what they did.

Of course, he considered, we have our own rituals of battle. I wonder if the Parshendi ever speculate on the oddity of why only one Alethi army ever fights them at a time.

He reached the other side of the bridge and pushed Gallant into a canter alongside the army in search of Adolin.

The next scene, the battle, is nearly identical to what appears in the published book. But the early draft did not include the scene after that, where Dalinar first sees Eshonai in the distance.

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