This scene was cut from A Threat of Shadows.
It was the originally part of the group’s journey to Queenstown. It needed to be cut, but I couldn’t really throw it away. It was just too much fun.
Alaric found himself riding along in the rain next to Douglon and Brandson.
“It’s made of ironwood,” Douglon told Brandson, “and the king is the only one with anything nearly that large. His staff is five feet tall and as wide around as my wrist. Beyond that, though, the only ironwood we have is in small mallets and a quiver of ironwood arrows.”
Brandson nodded thoughtfully. “Wood that strong could be useful. Depending on how high of a burning point it has, it could be used as a core of a blade with a thin metal covering.”
Douglon and Brandson talked on excitedly about possibilities until Ayda rode by and said, “If you’re wondering about ironwood, why don’t you just ask the ironwood tree over there?”
The two looked at her blankly.
“There’s an ironwood tree nearby?” Douglon asked.
Ayda nodded. “Right over there. His leaves are silvery. You can just see the top of him there.”
Douglon looked at Brandson, then with a whoop spurred his horse into the trees. Brandson and Ayda raced after him.
Milly and Alaric sat on their horses and stared after the group.
“That didn’t sound like they’re going to come back soon,” Milly said.
Alaric sighed and shook his head. “We might as well go too.”
The rain lessoned as they passed into the trees. They reached the others in the midst of an argument.
“Just use the branches on the ground,” Ayda said.
“These twigs?” Douglon asked, “What do you think we’re making? Toothpicks?”
“You can’t chop down Ironwood,” the elf said firmly.
“Why not?” Douglon roared, “He’s-“ He stopped and took a deep breath. “It’s a tree. Brandson chops down trees every day for his forge.”
“We don’t want to chop him down,” Brandson broke in, “just take a branch. The whole tree would be too heavy to carry.”
“Well, you can’t just rudely chop pieces off him either,” Ayda said, fixing the men with a steely gaze. “Ironwood is a proud tree from a noble heritage.”
“I’ll be damned if I can’t cut a branch off a tree!” yelled Douglon.
“Could they do it politely?” Milly asked.
Alaric laughed. Douglon and Brandson looked at her as though she were crazy.
“I mean,” she continued, “you said they couldn’t chop off a branch rudely, but could they do it politely?”
Ayda looked at her calculatingly.
“Like with permission or something?” Milly said faintly.
“Well, of course,” Ayda answered. “That’s a completely different thing.”
Brandson raised his eyebrows. “The tree - Ironwood - would give us permission to chop off one of his branches?”
“I don’t know,” Ayda said. “You’d have to ask him.”
They all exchanged glances.
“Will it hurt him?” Milly asked.
Ayda let out a peal of laughter. “Of course not! He’s a tree!”
Douglon rolled his eyes and turned toward the tree.
“Tree - um, Ironwood - may I chop off a branch?” he asked gruffly.
Ayda raised one eyebrow.
Douglon scowled at her. “Please?”
“What my dwarf friend means,” Milly broke in meekly, stepping in between Douglon and the enormous trunk, “is that we were wondering if you would give us one of your strong branches.”
Ayda’s eyes softened and Milly straightened. “This dwarf is looking for the strongest, most durable wood to use to make fearsome weapons and we have heard that ironwood trees have the most superior wood for such things. This young man is a skilled blacksmith and the dwarf is a close cousin to the dwarven king. Your weapons would be admired by many.”
Douglon and Brandson were looking back and forth from Milly to the tree to Ayda.
Alaric grinned openly at the exchange.
Ayda looked thoughtfully at the tree. Then she nodded. “Ironwood says you may have that branch,” she pointed, “and to make him proud.”
Douglon’s eyes lit up and he approached the tree with his axe. He hesitated.
“Oh hurry up,” Ayda chided him. “He’s a tree. He’s used to losing branches. We have a wizard to catch.”
Douglon chopped the branch off with a few quick strokes.
“Um, thank you,” he said, looking at the tree.
“Milly,” Ayda said as the farm girl turned to leave, “Ironwood likes you. He has a special gift for you.”
The elf scampered up the tree and disappeared into the branches. She returned a moment later with a small, lumpy, silvery nut.
“You are highly favored, Milly. Ironwood has given you a seed.”
Milly glanced uncertainly at the seed.
“He only has one each year,” Ayda prompted her. “It’s a kingly gift.”
Milly took it with wide eyes. Then she turned to the tree and gave a little curtsy.
“Thank you, sir. I will honor this seed and the great tree it will become.”
Ayda patted her gently on the cheek and nodded pleased.
The rain continued, but the mood of the group was lighter and rest of the afternoon passed with Douglon and Brandson making plans for their ironwood. After getting Milly’s permission to use branches from her tree once it grew, their plans grew more and more expansive. At one point Alaric heard them discussing the benefits of an ironwood smithy.