Deleted scene from The Mage book 2

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Finally finished the second draft of the Mage book 2! I’ve ironed out the big kinks, shifting things around and taken stuff out. This is one of the scenes that were taken out, elements of which may or may not appear in the final draft.

After three days of nothing, Sera was done.

The maidservants here could watch her, but they couldn’t stop her casting magick. She threw up a silencing spell and took out her scrying mirror, ignoring the prickling in her neck of eyes focusing on her.

“That was sooner than I expected.” Sera stared into the cold, lizard eyes of her partner, Jason Zuchang and felt an alarming sentimental tingle in her eyes.

“Never thought I’d be so happy to see your pale ugly face,” Sera said with a sigh. “How’s things in Eldrea?”

“Routine,” Jason said. “Durant tried to pair me with Hazel Squill, since Calloway went with you.”

“Already testing the waters, huh? I’m not gone two minutes and he’s trying to get you a new ‘elite’ partner. How’s that working out?”

“She’s still alive,” he said flatly.

Sera sniggered. “That’s something at least.”

They both fell silent.

“What happened?” Jason asked. “You did not scry me just to catch up.”

“What do you know about Taigai?”

“Dragons, humans, weak Wiccans.”

“I mean how they operate. Their customs and all that.”

Jason arched his brow. “If you mean the archaic social rule of keeping men and women separate, I’m aware of it.”

“How far do they try to implement them on foreigners?” Sera wondered.

“…Are they keeping you away?”

“I’m being watched like a hawk and I’ve been sitting in this room for two days. Haven’t heard anything from anyone.”

“Not even from the Priestess?”

“Nope. And I’m trying to figure out if this is actually the Taigai way or if it’s just a great excuse.”

“Does it matter?”

“Of course it does,” Sera snapped. “This isn’t Eldrea, we’re not the biggest fish in the pond anymore. If I go barging out and they try to nail me with ‘disrespecting’ their customs, they could have me booted out. Or worse, try to inflict some kind of punishment.”

“Our Coven would not stand for that. You represent the Eldrean Mages.”

“Durant hates me and he heads the Mages. He could sacrifice me in favor of maintaining a peaceful relationship with the Pantheon.” Sera groaned. “And that thought just occurred to me. It would be the perfect two birds, one stone plan.”

“How long have you been in that room?” Jason said.

“Too long. I’m getting paranoid.” Sera paused. “What would you do?”

“Whatever I want,” Jason said. “The Pantheon invited us to Taigai, not the other way around. Meaning they need us for something. And however much they look down on Wiccans, they cannot dismiss a Priestess so easily. Priestess Novak chose you specifically. She needs you for something.”

“What could she need me for?” Besides a Mage who would do what she said because she was dangling the tasty carrot of her family in her face… “Anything involving the Pantheon is a delicate operation. One that requires negotiation, diplomacy. I am not the candidate for that.”

After three days of nothing, Sera was done.

The maidservants here could watch her, but they couldn’t stop her casting magick. She threw up a silencing spell and took out her scrying mirror, ignoring the prickling in her neck of eyes focusing on her.

“That was sooner than I expected.” Sera stared into the cold, lizard eyes of her partner, Jason Zuchang and felt an alarming sentimental tingle in her nose.

“Never thought I’d be so happy to see your pale ugly face,” Sera said with a sigh. “How’s things in Eldrea?”

“Routine,” Jason said. “Durant tried to pair me with Hazel Squill, since Calloway went with you.”

“Already testing the waters, huh? I’m not gone two minutes and he’s trying to get you a new ‘elite’ partner. How’d that work out?”

“She’s still alive so about as well as could be expected,” he said flatly.

Sera sniggered. “That’s something at least.”

They both fell silent.

“What happened?” Jason asked. “You did not scry me just to catch up.”

“What do you know about Taigai?”

“Pantheon, humans, weak Wiccans.”

“I mean how they operate. Their customs and all that.”

Jason arched his brow. “If you mean the archaic social rule of keeping men and women separate, I’m aware of it.”

“How far do they try to implement them on foreigners?” Sera wondered.

“…Are they keeping you away?”

“I’m being watched like a hawk and I’ve been sitting in this room for two days. Haven’t heard anything from anyone.”

“Not even the Priestess?”

“Nope. And I’m trying to figure out if this is actually the Taigai way or if that’s just a great excuse.”

“Does it matter?”

“Of course it does,” Sera snapped. “This isn’t Eldrea, we’re not the biggest fish in the pond anymore. If I go barging out and they try to nail me with ‘disrespecting’ their customs, they could have me booted out. Or worse, try to inflict some kind of punishment.”

“Our Coven would not stand for that. You represent the Eldrea Mages.”

“Durant hates me and he heads the Mages. He could sacrifice me in favor of maintaining a peaceful relationship with the Pantheon.” Sera groaned. “And that thought just occurred to me. It would be the perfect one stone two birds plan.”

“How long have you been in that room?” Jason said.

“Too long. I’m getting paranoid.” Sera paused. “What would you do?”

“Whatever I want,” Jason said. “The Pantheon invited us to Taigai, not the other way around. Meaning they need us for something. And however much they look down on Wiccans, they cannot dismiss a Priestess so easily. Priestess Novak chose you specifically. She needs you for something.”

“What could she need me for?” Besides a Mage who would do what she said because she was dangling the tasty carrot of her family in her face…

“Anything involving the Pantheon is a delicate operation,” Jason said. “One that requires negotiation, diplomacy. I am not the candidate for that.”

“No shit.”

Jason shrugged easily. “And after that fiasco involving the goblins a while back…everyone knows we narrowly avoided another embarrassing incident with the Clowder because you kept insisting.”

“And I was so popular for that.” Sera groaned. “But you don’t get it, everything here is subtle and delicate and a pain in the ass. I want to tear my hair out and it’s only been three days. It was easier with the cats. We practically grew up with them. I know everything about their people, I know what makes them tick. I don’t know squat here.” Plus, she wasn’t even sure the men here were willing to deal with women in an official capacity.

“I see no real problem that you’re facing,” Jason said. “If anything, you’re being overly cautious. You were invited here by the Pantheon, being housed by the humans who are affiliated to the Pantheon.”

And it was the Pantheon who wanted them here.

Sera clicked her tongue. “I have to go. Got some people to threaten.”

“Try not to tire yourself out,” Jason said, and disappeared from the mirror.

The spell disappeared and Sera got up. Immediately, several of the maidservants perked up with her. She headed towards the door and just like before, Zhu-er quickly came to stand next to her.

“May I help you to fetch anything, Miss?” she asked, all sweet voice and subservient half-bow. Except she was oozing confidence, like Sera was a bug who just kept hitting the glass window and making a mess for her to clean up.

“No. I’m just going outside.”

“Begging your pardon, Miss, but we have orders to serve you. Anything you need, we will fetch for you,” Zhu-er said firmly.

“I don’t need anything. I’m going outside and I’m going to find someone who can tell me what’s going on.”

“I would gladly relay any message you require, Miss.”

“Would you actually bring back an answer?” Sera asked.

Zhu-er’s head remained low, a tearful quality coming to her voice just like that. “Please Miss, you put us in a most difficult position. We are sworn to the Wei house and we were told to serve you as their guest.”

“Exactly. And your guest wants to leave this room.”

They pulled out the big guns. Every single one of the servants fell in a wave of bows. It was actually kind of cool.

Sera looked at the sea of dark heads. After a few minutes, one or two of them started shifting around impatiently and she thought she could hear a scornful huff or two. Amateurs.

“Look ladies, I’m new to Taigai. And I’m sure you guys have all these rules and procedures, all these tricks to solving problems like servants who try to force themselves on people…”

Zhu-er’s head came up in shock. “Miss, we wouldn’t dare…”

“Buh-buh-buh, the guest is still talking,” Sera said with a sharp smile, aiming narrow eyes at her. For the first time, Zhu-er looked nervous. Good. “See, I’m from Eldrea and I don’t have the patience for this crap. Not when I’m dealing with the lackeys of the flunkies. So either get out of the way, or go out the window,” Sera said.

“Miss, we represent –”

“Look me in the eye and tell me your masters are going to come up against me over you.” Zhu-er stilled, sweating starting to form on her forehead.

One of the maidservants in the back lifted her head. “Lord Jin-rong will stand by us. He would not be happy that you were speaking to us this way! He is the heir to the house, the future duke!”

She was quite pretty, prettier than the others. She was wearing a little makeup and her clothes were nipped and tucked in subtle places to emphasize a figure. This heir might actually speak on her behalf, if he were young and stupid enough.

She was perfect to finish this whole charade.

Sera twisted her hand and her whip appeared in her hand, flashing out in a quick fling to wrap around the outspoken maidservant. Another quick twist and the woman flew out the window with crash and a thin scream.

There were gasps and muffled cries from the remaining maidservant. Zhu-er was trembling.

“The next one to try to stick her master down my throat goes the same way.” Sera’s whip dragged lazily on the floor, magick fizzing lightly. “Nod if you understand.”

Heads came up and down in quick jerks. Some of them started to cry.

Sera stood up and opened the door. This time, no one stopped her.

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