This is a scrapped scene of the bandits attacking Shallan and Tvlakv’s wagons.
Clangs rose from behind, the sounds of metal and rocks. Shallan turned sharply and some of the slaves moaned. “What was that?” she demanded of Bluth.
“Tag left a trap,” he said. “Someone was poking around our fire.” So they’d been spotted after all.
Tvlakv’s wagon started moving faster, and Bluth took his long reed—used to steer the chulls—and rapped it on the shell of the one pulling their wagon. His beats became more and more frantic, and as Nomon—the second moon—began to rise, she could make out his face.
Chulls had only two speeds: slow shuffle and moderate shuffle. They picked up speed, but not by much, and their faster gait caused the wagons to rattle and shake.
On the hillside, lights broke off of the firepits and moved steadily through the dark on an intercepting path. The rising moon would soon give enough light to spot the wagons, even from the distance.
“We can’t outrun them, Bluth!”
“We have to try!” he shouted. “They catch us, and we’re dead. If word of where they are got back to their lords, they’d be worse than hanged! They have every reason to leave no witnesses of their passing. You religious?”
“Yes,” Shallan said, voice catching in her throat.
“Write up a prayer,” Bluth said, whacking the chull. “Even just in your head. Ask the Almighty.”
“To deliver us?”
“No.” Whack. “Ask him to see us dead quickly.” Whack.
Behind, Tag’s chull slowed. Shallan twisted, looking behind, and was shocked to see that his wagon—the one with the slaves in it—had no driver. “They got him?”
“No,” Bluth said. “He’s running.”
Of course. Chulls were slow and loud, but human feet in this case were neither. When had he jumped free, and how far gone was he now? In the darkness, he might be able to avoid the deserters.
“Why hasn’t Tvlakv run?” Shallan asked.
“And leave his wares?” Bluth grunted. “How many merchants do you know that would do such a thing?”
Smart ones, Shallan thought, glancing at her bandaged feet. She wouldn’t get far. “What of you?”
He didn’t speak. But he did keep hitting the chull’s shell, even as Tvlakv—ahead—obviously noticed that Tag had run. She could hear the Thaylen man’s shouts even over the ruckus of the wagons. “You thieving cremling, Tag! I pay you to guard me! Come back here, you bastard!”
The two remaining wagons jostled up along the crevasse that Bluth had mentioned. As they rounded its side, Shallan caught sight of a group of men on the other side. One raised a lantern, inspecting the chasm with a perturbed expression. They were dark-haired Alethi with softly tanned skin and lofty features. Even the darkeyed Alethi had a nobility to them.
She could see in them the things Bluth had said. Though they carried spears and wore nice leather and steel armor, their hair was long, their faces unwashed, their uniforms—what she could see of them—unkempt. They had the hollow looks of desperate men.
You wish there were any honor left for you, but know you’ve already given it away…
“Probably killed their lord in a mutiny,” Bluth said. “Stormfather! Move, you lump of rock!” The whipping didn’t seem to be doing any good. Chulls couldn’t feel much sensation from their shells.