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Words of Radiance Chapter Shallan 13


The following abandoned scene was replaced by the second half of chapter 31.


Shallan walked up to the rim of a rock formation, looking to the northeast, toward the Shattered Plains. She couldn’t see them yet, but the caravan leaders promised they were only a few days off.

She wasn’t certain which emotion she felt more strongly—the desire to run the rest of the way and get there as soon as possible, or the desire to run the opposite direction. Ahead lay a difficult weight. She could feel it settling onto her shoulders already.

Tyn waited for her at the edge of the ridge, as they’d agreed. The woman’s long, black hair flowed out behind her, and she wore a set of large-cuffed gloves, the side of her coat exposing a thin dueling sword. She looked like a soldier. That was probably the idea. Dress the part, act the part, and become the part.

“All right,” Tyn said, falling into step beside Shallan as they walked the ridge. “You want to learn how to run the big cons. How to stop being a little nobody and rub elbows with the important.”

“I’m very curious,” Shallan said. Distantly, ***—Tyn’s golden-haired second in command—kept watch and made certain they weren’t interrupted.

“Well, the first thing you’re going to have to do is stop worrying about the people you’ll hurt. You’re soft.”

“I—”

“Don’t try to claim otherwise,” Tyn said, walking with hand on her sword. “I see how you act, how you speak to the soldiers. You buddy up to them. That’s great—it’s a wonderful skill. You are able to make people trust you.”

“Thank you?”

“Unfortunately, you’re a child. You think you can play games like this without hurting someone. That’s stupid. What are you going to do with those soldiers of yours?”

“Aren’t you planning for us to abandon them when we get to the Shattered Plains?” Shallan asked.

“Thereby leaving a group of twenty men who know your face and will hunt you,” Tyn said, shaking her head. “If you’re going to learn to do this, you have to plan—and plan well. That means eliminating threats.”

“I did eliminate the threat. I brought them to my side.”

“A place they’ll only stay until they realize you’re lying about who you are.”

“And maybe I’m not lying,” Shallan said. “I mean…maybe so far as they’re concerned, I’m not. If we make it big at the Shattered Plains, I can pay them as I’ve promised.”

“And see that their debts are canceled, their desertion forgiven?”

“Sure.”

Tyn turned, seizing her by the shoulder. “Stupid,” she said. “Their leader is plotting against you and the others only follow you because they were starving out here by themselves. They’ll drag you down and destroy you.”

“Then what?” Shallan asked, blushing. She would keep her word to those men. “What would you do?”

“The solution is staring you in the face. Those are wanted men. There will be a reward for turning in deserters; there always is. You get rid of them and you get paid doing it. That’s a real con, kid.”

Shallan pulled out of Tyn’s grip, then continued to walk along the edge of the ridge, plants curling up and pulling back in front of her. “That’s horrible,” she whispered.

“What?” Tyn said, walking beside her. “You think they don’t deserve it? Here’s the thing, kid. If you look hard enough, everyone deserves what you’re going to do to them. People are awful.”

“Not everyone…”

Everyone. And even if they weren’t, they’re idiots. They’ll believe what they want to. So why are you to blame for giving them a little push along the way? You’re playing the game already. You’re not going to get out of it without people getting hurt. Either you’ll learn, or you’ll be the one who is hurt.”

 

You like my sword?

There’s always a cost.

 

Pattern: Do you believe that? Are we lying to the men?

Then what is the good of this woman?


|   Castellano