When your writing a story, sometimes it can just get away from you. That’s what happened to me when I wrote my first draft of The Dark Tides. It really got away from me to the tune of 228,000 words. It was way too long and it took me months to edit it down to the still unimaginable 190,000 words.
As a writer, you sometimes state the obvious and sometimes you take really long stating the obvious. Here is a deleted excerpt from The Dark Tides to shed some light on how hard it is to edit what some writers consider their “baby” and don’t want to make another cut.
“Has any human ever been to see the Goblin King?” Bryan asked Eonis.
“No, never; not unless they were dinner,” Dinius quipped. “And I mean the meal, not as guests.”
Bryan gulped and wondered if he’d bitten off more than he can chew. He moved in close behind Ragnar as the other goblins closed ranks around him. They started their march through the dark, dank woods towards Idlehorn Mountain. They walked in silence, not a sound from the goblins or Bryan except for the rustling of the leaves beneath their feet.
After nearly an hour of forced march, they reached the base of Idlehorn Mountain. Bryan looked up at the jagged peak. It was an ominous and imposing sight. No trails or paths could be seen leading up the mountain anywhere. The only thing he could make out was the shape of a castle jutting out of the cliff … Lord Kraven Darkholm’s castle. Eonis said Lord Darkholm lived there to keep the goblins and other dark creatures under foot, or so he told King Gregor as to why he stayed in this God-awful place.
Ragnar walked up to the mountain face. He scratched across the rock with his claws in a strange pattern. Then he banged on the stone wall three times and stepped back. Bryan could feel the earth around him begin to rumble. Suddenly, an opening appeared at the base as the mountain seemed to literally fold in on itself, pulling the rock apart to reveal a cave descending downward.
“This is your last chance to back away … You sure you want to do this?” Ragnar joked.
Bryan nodded his head. “A friend of mine once said, ‘The Chief knows there is a time and place for everything; a time to act and a time to react; a time to speak and a time to be silent; and a time to unite or act alone.’ This is one of those times.”
Ragnar looked confused then decided to ignore it and press on. “As you wish Gil-Gamesh, follow me!”
As the frustrated goblin headed down into the mountain, Bryan’s cockiness faded quickly as he walked in the dark bowels of Idlehorn. Dimly lit by the embers of burnt torches, the cave continued to wind downward. Bryan felt the dank, musty air … The smell of death and decay permeated from the stone. The deeper they went, the worse the smell.
“I’ve smelled septic tanks better than this,” Bryan said, rubbing his gloved hand across his nose, hoping the oiled leather would help mask the awful stench.
The cave began to level off and widen. The stalactites became more prominent in the cave, decorated with the pierced skulls of their enemies. A bright light beckoned them ahead.
“Is it me or is it getting hotter?” Bryan asked himself as he wiped the sweat off his brow.
Bryan thought they must had an enormous fire burning up ahead. As the passage opened into an enormous cavern, the Gil-Gamesh realized that it wasn’t a fire burning … It was something else.
The cavern seemed to encompass the entire center of Idlehorn Mountain. A huge pocket, like a magma dome, underneath the mountain, as lava flowed like water from the walls. It fell and circulated in streams and pools throughout the cave interior. Not only did the lava provide light and warmth for the goblins, it made it easier for them to forge a constant supply of weapons for their massive army. Goblins had nowhere to call home except for the cave itself. They climbed along its walls like spiders in a web, able to move anywhere and everywhere in the cavern. They ate, slept and worked wherever they could find a rock to lean against or a piece of meat to gnaw on.
As Ragnar took them deeper into the voluminous cavern, Bryan got a sense of the social structure of the goblins. It was a society of “survival of the fittest.” The stronger, more powerful goblins bullied the smaller, weaker ones; an inbred form of slave labor. They were forced to carry heavy loads in the belief that it would make them stronger. The intense labor culled out the weaker goblins from the rest. Those that survived either continue their toll as slaves or they volunteered for experiments conducted by goblin warlocks and alchemists as they strived to make a goblin warrior that’s unbeatable. They were a collective, striving for the betterment of the goblins and the defeat of their enemies.
At the heart of the cavern sat a throne of iron and stone. It was a monument to the machine that was the goblin empire. The twisted metal frame and jagged rock reminded all who stood before it of the pain and suffering that is the life of a goblin.
In the throne sits a brute of a beast … The Goblin King P’tah Mnenok. His skin was black and scarred, ripped and torn by battle. His face was long and twisted, yellow eyes pierced out from dark slits. His fangs were so long that they pierced from beneath his lower lip, giving him a constant scowl, even with his mouth closed. On his head sat a crown of braided iron; a cold reminder of his black heart.
Ragnar approached King Mnenok as goblins came down from the around the cavern and surrounded the throne, trapping Bryan. For the first time since he arrived on Avalon, Bryan feared he may not live to see tomorrow.
Ragnar knelt before the King, bowing his head in submission before stepping up to the Goblin King, whispering in his ear. Bryan stepped up as goblins of all shapes and sizes moved in behind the Gil-Gamesh. King Mnenok looked at Bryan, growling under his breath.
“Does the courtesy of Avalon end at Idlehorn Mountain Gil-Gamesh?” he asked, his voice sharp and hollow.
Bryan realized his mistake and acted to rectify it by bowing slightly. “I apologize King Mnenok, but I am unfamiliar with goblin customs, as most humans are,” he explained. “I wager it is a rare sight for a human to be welcome inside Idlehorn Mountain that wasn’t a captive or a meal.”
“It is rare indeed. I must admit, what Ragnar told me of his encounter with you in Blackbriar Forest, I don’t see what all the fuss is about … About you that is, the new Gil-Gamesh.
“I must say, I’m not at all impressed but I do find it rather curious that you even asked to come to Idlehorn Mountain. This is quite a bold move on your part; courageous and yet stupid at the same time.”
The goblins all laughed at the insult the Goblin King levels at the Gil-Gamesh.
“With all due respect King Mnenock, I disagree. Is it stupid to understand your enemy? Knowledge is key to defeating any foe, something that goblins lack or so I’ve been told. Wouldn’t you agree? “
Mnenok snarled as the goblins were quieted. “Give me one good reason why I should not have you flayed alive right where you stand?”
“Gladly,” Bryan said as he reached into his shirt and pulled out the dragon stone Nihala gave him. The stone glowed bright in his hand. Mnenok and the other goblins, repulsed by its glow, cowered in fear.
“This is a dragon stone, given to me by Nihala, Queen of the Dragons. With a single word, I can cause it to explode, killing every goblin in here. A cavern of this size would contain the blast rather nicely. Your entire race would be wiped out in an instant.”
Now fear gripped Mnenok for the first time. He knew how powerful dragon stones were, but he also knew a bluff when he sees it.
“Are you impressed now?” Bryan joked, almost goading Mnenok to attack him.
Mnenok has had enough of his insults. “You would not sacrifice yourself? Avalon needs you to survive.” He raised his hand, ready to give the order to attack, as the goblins howled, raising their weapons to strike.
“You’re right they do need me,” Bryan interjected quickly. “But if I die, taking the entire goblin race with me, Avalon will be a whole lot safer. Surely that is a death worthy of the Gil-Gamesh of Avalon. They will write stories and sing songs of this day for years to come, knowing that the goblins have been wiped off the face of the Avalon forever. The only place people will ever see a goblin again is in story books. You will be remembered only as a thing of myth and legend that never really existed,” Bryan countered, stoic and determined. Mnenok slowly lowered his hand. He knew he wasn’t bluffing now.
Mnenok sat back in his throne and laughed a deep, throaty cackle. The goblins lowered their weapons and retreated away from the Gil-Gamesh. “As I said Gil-Gamesh, bold … Very bold!