Read all the books but need another "Verdantia fix"? Never fear! I've got ya covered. Below are deleted scenes from published books, free unpublished short stories, chapters from unreleased forthcoming books, snippets of Verdantian history (hey, what's up with House DeHelios?) and all sort of goodies. Feel free to send me an email with suggestions of things you'd like to see on this page! So far I have a request for "Doral off his chain with Ari and Fleur." Yum. Keep watching this page. It'll appear.
Extras: Hers To Command,
Verdantian Series Book 1
Some terms from this scene that are not in the published version of Hers To Command:
Ari and His Horses
Not a whole lot is revealed about Aristos DeTano and his love for horses and just exactly how much he gave up to marry Fleur. House DeTano was famous throughout the known 'verses for its equine bloodstock. Here are two deleted scenes that will give the reader some additional insight into Verdantia’s High Lord:
Fidelas Mintoth – The estates of Ari’s family. They border Sylvan Mintoth to the west and are within the protection of the sigil tower of Sylvan Mintoth.
Pronto – Doral’s horse
Yannis – the High Enclave courier who brought Ari news of the sigil failing
Jox – Yannis’ beloved horse that he rode almost to death to bring the news from Sylvan Mintoth and the only reminder of happier times left to the old rider.
Arabella – A young mare that Ari bred and loves well. She is of immense value – both as a mount and as a broodmare.
"Jezzy" - Jezzabella – A famous racehorse that Ari owns.
Deleted Scene #1: This description occurs immediately after Yannis enters Ari's tent. Ari is watching the sturdy old rider shed tears over what he did to his horse, Jox.
It was terribly hard for Ari to watch Yannis' grief. He understood it completely. Ari was a horseman down to his soul. His family, House DeTano, had raised the finest of pureblood horses for generations. The animals bearing the stylized dG were coveted throughout the universes. From his earliest days, Ari's dreams and passions had focused solely on continuing his family's heritage. It would never be. Elder Mage Patricio had seen to that long before the Haarb arrived.
Deleted Scene #2: This scene takes place immediately before Ari leaves Sylvan Mintoth for Raegil II.
Before leaving for his Joint Forces summit, there was a matter Ari wanted resolved. Calling Doral into his office on a bright sunny morning, he set it in motion.
"I would like you to ride to Fidelas Mintoth and speak with my father, Doral. Give him this letter. He will give you some instructions I would like you to follow. Report to me as soon as you get back."
"Yes, sir." Doral looked at him quizzically. "May I know what this is about, High Lord?"
Ari grinned. "Yes. You remember that conversation we had several days ago regarding a certain female? A certain four-legged female?"
"Ahhhh? Oh! Yes. I remember it very well. I will leave immediately." Doral walked out of Ari's office, his eyes sparkling.
Some days later, a knock sounded on Ari's door.
"High Lord, you wished to know as soon as I was back."
"Ah, Visconte DeLorion. It is good to see you." Ari gestured to a leather chair before his desk. "Take a seat, take a seat. So,” Ari asked eagerly, “did she travel well?"
Sitting down and crossing one booted leg over the other, Doral responded with a small, crooked smile. "Yes, sir, but she is a feisty bit of baggage. She certainly gave Pronto fits."
"I'm sorry Doral. I should have thought to warn you. She is quite full of herself. Jezzy was the same way. I hope your gelding isn't sporting too many bald spots."
Doral shook his head, amused. "No, a few bite marks, some lost hair, but nothing that won't grow back."
"Thank you, Doral. How are my mother and father?
"They are deliriously happy." Doral smiled, enjoyment lighting his blue eyes. "But on the subject of this errand I performed, your father's reaction was . . . umm . . . let me see if I remember this correctly . . .
"No. No! No, he didn't say Arabella! Arabella? By the Seven Hells! Has he lost his mind?"
Ari laughed. "That was very good, Doral! You sounded just like him. Complete with the squeak at the end."
Acknowledging Ari's comment with a brief nod of his head, Doral reached into his tunic. He pulled out a thick packet of papers and handed them to Ari. “I think you will find all is as you ordered, sir, although your father moaned pitifully the entire time.”
Ari smiled in amusement then sobered. "All Verdantia owes this man a huge debt, Doral. This is the least we can do."
"Yes, my lord.” Yet, only you recognized his sacrifice. Only you remembered him. And to part with your beloved Arabella . . . ah, by all the Gods, you make it so difficult not to love you. Doral’s face gave no indication of his thoughts, as usual.
Several days later Ari entered the High Enclave stables and sought out the Master of the Horse. "Do you know where he is Jugo?"
"Aye, High Lord. His usual place, eastern pastures with the broodmares and babies."
"Thank you, Jugo. Please saddle Grey and put a halter and lead on our newest arrival. I'll be back in a few minutes."
The sedate walk that took Grey and Ari toward the eastern pastures was entirely inadequate for the high-strung young mare cavorting at the end of the lead line. Grey stoically endured her nips and body slams while Ari laughed at her high spirits.
Spotting the man he wanted to see leaning over a fence railing, Ari pulled Grey off the lane and rode toward him. "Yannis, Yannis," Ari hailed. "A pleasant morning to you."
Seeing Ari, Yannis abandoned the railing and walked toward him. "High Lord. Good morning to you. My . . . what do you have there? She's a fine looking young lady." Yannis walked toward the young mare. Speaking softly to her, Yannis held her halter and patted her neck, running an experienced eye over her tall, elegant lines and gleaming black coat.
"Yes, she's the latest project. She is beginning her training and in desperate need of a steady hand. But, I think if brought along properly she will make a splendid mount."
"Yes, sir. These highbred young ones need special handling if you don't want them ruined. They take a deft touch."
"Yannis, the Master of the Horse tells me you retired?"
Yannis sighed and continued to stroke the young mare’s neck. "Yes, your lordship. My heart's not in it anymore. Not without my Jox. I am feeling my age. It is time to hand it over to a younger man."
"I am very sorry about Jox."
"Thank you, sir. They said to put him down, sir.” Yannis shook his head slowly. “I couldn’t do it.” His eyes begged Ari to understand. “I couldn’t take everything he had to give then kill him ‘cause he weren’t no use anymore. I couldn’t.”
“No, Yannis. You could not do that.” Ari responded softly. “It was wrong to ask you to.”
Consoled, a little, by Ari’s agreement, Yannis calmed. “I think he is happy enough. He don't walk very good, but that lady still loves him."
Yannis and Ari looked across the pasture at the black gelding standing hip-shot, nose to tail, beside a chestnut mare heavy in foal. Their tails moved in lazy swishes keeping the ever-present insects from the ears and face of each other. It was a peaceful scene. Unfortunately, even to a casual eye, the black horse was seriously crippled. His days as a courier’s mount were finished. Yannis returned to stroking the filly.
"What's the breeding on this beauty, sir?"
"She is a full sister to my Jezzabella."
"Ahhh. Very nice and she looks to have her sister’s build for speed." His horseman’s eye full of appreciation for the lovely young mare, Yannis looked up at Ari. “You'll definitely want to take your time with her, your lordship."
"Yes, she is very special,” he said softly. Ari cleared his throat and continued in a normal tone. “We lost her dam, Look Twice, this spring and her sire, Rapid Fire, is twenty-five. This young lady is probably the last of his line. I was hoping you would take her, Yannis." Ari smiled in conspiracy. "I don't seem to the time I used to have."
The old rider looked up at Ari, his solemn face brightening. "Well. Out of old Rapid Fire, you say? It’d be a rare treat to ride one of his get.” Yannis contemplated the young mare for a moment, his lips slowly curving into a smile. “I suppose I could bring her along for you." His smile broadened into a grin. "I'll more time for it than you . . . that's for certain."
"Thank you, Yannis. It is a huge relief knowing you will take her. I have her papers here." Ari reached into his tunic and pulled out a thick packet. Leaning over his saddle, Ari handed it to Yannis. "Knowing how you study bloodlines, I thought you would enjoy seeing her breeding. She is listed in the pure blood registry as Fire Twice, but at home we call her Arabella."
Yannis smiled and took the packet from Ari, eagerly opening the flap and pulling out its contents. Ari watched his face closely as he read the documents.
The grizzled old rider's face became intent. He stopped reading. In confusion, he looked up at Ari. "I don't understand, High Lord. This is not a pedigree. This paper is a transfer of ownership. It is made out in my name." Yannis looked down at the papers in his hand again then back up to Ari. "Is this a joke, sir?"
"No, Yannis. No joke," Ari replied gently. "When I said I wanted you to take her, I meant it quite literally." Ari looked across the pasture again, focusing on a crippled black gelding. "You sacrificed the one thing you loved most in the world in service to Verdantia. I know the agony it caused you. But, if you hadn't ridden that hard…well…who knows." Ari's voice became husky and he cleared his throat. "A horse is an inadequate thank you for saving an entire planet."
Handing the dumbfounded old rider the filly's lead, Ari leaned over Grey's neck and placed a hand on Yannis’ shoulder. "Arabella is yours, Yannis. I know she can never replace Jox, but perhaps you can make room in your heart for her, too."
Ari turned Grey and began the ride back to the High Enclave. Reaching the lane, Ari pulled Grey to a halt and turned in the saddle. He needed one last look at his cherished Arabella to silence the ache in his heart. The sight of a stunned Yannis still standing rooted to the spot, papers in one hand and Arabella's lead in the other brought a chuckle to Ari. Taking a deep breath, he called out. "I'll expect progress reports, Yannis. And you may want to rethink your retirement."
Still laughing to himself, Ari settled back into the saddle and touching Grey with a spur, he set off at an easy canter towards the High Enclave.
In the courtyard of the High Enclave, Doral and Pronto, with all Ari's necessities for the next several weeks, patiently awaited their High Lord's return. They would depart immediately for Raegil II.
Deleted Scene #3: This is the scene where Ari gives orders to the different commanders to go out and survey the remaining sigil towers to determine which ones are active and which ones aren’t. Ari encounters a surprise and we learn a little more about the Verdantian High Lord:
Dust hung in the air, stirred by the chaotic mass of over eighty horses and Verdantian riders filling the inner courtyard to the High Enclave the next morning. In spite of the quantity of animals and men, it was amazingly quiet. Only the sounds of the horses snorting and the jangling and creaking of harness could be heard. Each group of eleven, eight cavalry riders, their commander, a High Enclave courier and a mage, massed under an identifying banner awaiting orders from their Primo and High Lord, Conte DeTano.
Ari made the circuit of the courtyard handing written orders to each ride commander and discussing his assigned area for inspection and evaluation. Ari knew each of them by name and many of their men. He stopped, speaking briefly with each High Enclave courier rider, impressing them with the need for all haste in their return and handing them a leather dispatch pouch. He spoke in turn with each Magister about possible locations for gates through any newly existing energy walls. Members of each ride would remain to operate and provide defense for the newly constructed gates until the High Enclave could staff them. Acknowledging his instructions with a crisp salute, each ride commander barked the orders to "form up." Under their identifying banner, each unit trotted smartly out the archways.
Ari broke out in a broad smile when he approached the final High Enclave courier to repeat the instructions he had given to the previous seven.
"High Lord." Yannis nodded his head and smiled diffidently.
"I am very glad to see you changed your mind."
"She looks very well cared for, Yannis. Does she suit you?"
"Ah, sir, she is lovely. Can’t say as I’ve ever ridden an animal finer." Yannis lovingly stroked the head and neck of the elegant black mare standing quietly ready. His eyes shown with feeling. "As fleet as a doe and as brave as a lioness, your lordship. I've not found a thing she won't go through or over.” He chuckled softly, radiating pride. “I need to be careful where I point her. She thinks she is invincible. She’d jump off Falling Rock Precipice if I asked it of her.” Yannis’ voice turned wry and he gave her a final pat, turning back to face Ari. “But to survive that she’d need wings.”
Yannis’ knowing eyes held Ari's steadily. "High Lord, she came to me like this …weren’t none of my doing. There's not many a horse master as could give a sensitive, high bred young'un like her such unshakeable confidence and trust in her rider."
Ari smiled slightly in response, nodding his head in polite interest.
"Sir, she's a far sight more advanced in her training than what you let on." Yannis' voice was gently chiding. "There's been many a careful hour and wet saddle blanket put on this young lady before I ever climbed on top."
Again, Ari's response was merely a faint smile.
Foiled by Ari's non-responsiveness, Yannis tried one last time to solve the small mystery of who had given his beloved lady such a wonderful beginning. Having devoted his life to horses and their mastery, Yannis had immediately recognized the results of another hand of consummate skill. Masters of the Horse on his level were a very small, distinguished brotherhood. He very much wanted to meet another member of this exclusive group. He had his suspicions, but he would no more come right out and ask than he would rudely jam a metal bit into a tender mouth without first, politely, requesting his horse to open it.
"His lordship, Visconte DeLorion, said my lady had been your personal mount.” Again, Yannis looked at Ari keenly. “If it was you what did her early work, sir, you've a rare way with horseflesh.”
Ari shrugged dismissively. "I may have worked with her a time or two.”
Yannis grunted softly, scoffing at the depth of that understatement. He slouched casually, lightly slapping his boot with the ends of his reins. "Best I quit maundering on. I can see you want none of it." Yannis' sharp eyes met and held Ari's. "Shameful waste of an immense talent if you ask me but I won’t pester you, sir. Gossip is you never had a choice.” Yannis straightened. “I know I've got a treasure what’s uncommon rare. My Bella and I…we’ll do you proud."
"You call her Bella?" Ari finally produced a real smile.
"Yes, sir, I thought it fitting. She is such a pretty thing."
Ari nodded, still smiling. "That she is. For once, the inside matches the outside." He handed Yannis a dispatch pouch. "Your first official assignment for me, Yannis. Return this with as much speed as you can make safely. Don't risk yourself or the mare. Deliver it to me or Segundo DeLorion, no one else."
Yannis nodded respectfully. Putting his head through the shoulder strap, slinging the dispatch pouch diagonally across his back, Yannis swung lightly up onto his elegant black mare. "Sir." The old rider paused for one moment. “Thank you,” he said gruffly. "There was room in myheart for her, too." Responding immediately to some invisible command by Yannis, Bella effortlessly lifted up into a 180 degree pirouette and lightly trotted off.
Ari watched the ride commander wheel the final cavalry formation out of the courtyard at a brisk trot. Following the ride through the archway, the exquisite black mare danced over the ground, her gait floating and effortless. Yannis rode lightly, so at one with his Bella he might as well be weightless and invisible.
Ari swallowed the rising ache in his throat. He remembered the feeling of being borne by her responsive, fluid power. He had always ridden exquisite horses, one benefit of his heritage, but this glorious young mare and her sister held a place in his heart separate from the others. She and Jezzabella should have been the foundation of his continuation of House DeTano’s equine dynasty. As it stood, when his parents died, a dynastic tradition of hundreds of years would end. His place was in Sylvan Mintoth at the side of his queen.
A small hand took Ari's arm. Fleur had come up quietly to join him. "Is that Yannis and Arabella?"
"Mmmmm." Ari nodded.
"Doral told me his story." Fleur looked up, watching his face. Ari's eyes still followed the old rider as he traveled down the road behind the cavalry unit. Fleur knew Ari had no idea his eyes revealed such poignant sorrow. She did not know if it was for the horse or the way of life she represented or even for the old rider who had suffered the loss of so much dear to him. Her heart ached for Ari. "You are a good man, Conte deGaetano." Ari looked at her in surprise, smiling, the heartache fading from his eyes. Fleur smiled back.