Deleted Scene: Fenn in the Outlands

Cover of The Hunted and the Hind

As you may have noticed, I’ve been round and about on the interweb with some deleted scenes from The Hunted and the Hind. I wrote a lot of extra words set in Fenn’s Outlands, before I found that I was going down a road I didn’t really want to tread and writing a fantasy novel rather than a whatever-it-actually-is.

It was really hard to take these bits out, but I felt that it made the story waaaaay too ‘bitty’. There was already a lot going on and lots of loose ends to tie up. To introduce a major new setting at this point, with all the world-building that would entail was too much, if I’m quite honest. Here’s one of the bits that didn’t make the final cut!

Fenn Arrives Home

Fenn, Hunter of the Frem. Not an elf.

Fenn felt the push-twist that was the shimmer opening and stepped forward. They shoved the carnas in front of them firmly through the gate with a sharp motion and stepped after it, feeling a huge weight lift from their shoulders as they did so. They had done as the Ternant’s asked and the council should now release Fenn from this duty and Keren along with them.
The jangling clatter of light and sound, kias manifest that they recollected from their outward trip to Delf gradually began to subside.
They stood inside the circle, surrounded by the Ternants. Guards were already ushering the carnas away down a side tunnel.
“Where are the eggs?” Malach asked, holding the necklace of gable-stones that had been taken from the carnas. Fenn sighed. Always, Malach.
“I told you, Malach, when we spoke through the shimmer. There was only one egg. And it was broken in a struggle with a human.”
Malach nodded and banged their staff, the staff of the leader of the Ternants, on the floor of chamber. “Very well. I am disappointed, Fenn of the Hunters. We set you a task and you have not completed it.”
Fenn raised their voice. “I completed it to the best of my ability, Malach. I brought you back the carnas. Now release my sibling.”
Malach shook their head. “No. You did not complete the task we set you. Under the terms of our agreement, Keren will not be returned to you. They will be executed. You knew this would happen if you did not carry out the task, Fenn.”
Fenn lunged for them across the sand, but two of the Ternant’s guards grabbed their arms and pulled them back. “No, Fenn of the Hunters,” one said, lowly, in to their ear. Do not do this. Do not.” Fenn subsided as Malach turned away. The guard was right. There were too many people. And what good would it do Keren? They stood down and the guards cautiously released them.
“I did what you asked, Malach,” Fenn called after their half-turned back, instead. “I brought back the carnas. The egg, I could not bring, through no fault of my own. You are not treating me, or my kindred justly in this!” They felt the guard who had spoken wince.
Malach stopped their turn away and moved to face Fenn again. “Do not question the Ternants, Fenn of the Hunters. Or worse things will befall you than the keeping of an agreement. Your sibling will be executed as I told you would happen if you did not bring back both the eggs and the carnas. The word of the Ternants is unbreakable.”
Over their shoulder, Fenn could see that some of the other faces of council members looked sickened. They appealed to them. “Can you not see how wrong this is?” they said. “Keren is a child. This is not the way the council should work, this is not the way the Outlands should police the shimmer. We are not cruel. We are just. This is not just!”
Malach simply shook their head and continued to turn. The crowd of Ternants and workers who had sung kias to open the shimmer for Fenn’s return parted to allow them exit and then turned as one, to follow.
Fenn dropped to their knees and watched them retreat. After a moment, when the last twitch of over-robe had disappeared in to the tunnel, the guard who had spoken before put a hand under their shoulder and pulled. “On your feet, young Fenn. You won’t do any good down there.”
Fenn turned to look at them. Neither they nor their companion were familiar. “What do you mean?” they said. “I need to help Keren. I need to either get Malach to release them, or I need to get them out. Can you help?”
The guard shook their head. “No. I am sworn to serve the Ternants in this. But you are not, and there are others. Seek your parent and your kindred, Fenn of the Hunters. Ana is waiting for you.” The other guard nodded at him in a not unfriendly fashion and the one speaking gave Fenn a gentle push toward the door. “Get moving, Fenn. There’s not a great deal of time.”
Fenn stared hard at both of them for a moment and then did as they were told.

Ana, Fenn's parent. Starting a revolution.

It wasn’t far to Ana’s quarters. They and Cora, Fenn’s other parent, had shared a set of family rooms quite high in the caves for their use when they were here in the Underhalls. Fenn and all three of their older siblings had grown up there until they had reached maturity and moved out in to the dormitories for the unattached. When Cora died two years ago, Ana had continued to live there with Keren, a constant stream of cheerful visitors sitting on comfortable couches or on the soft, deep rugs, discussing books and travel and kias and the ideas they had about everything under the sun.
Ana had clearly been pacing when Fenn chapped on the door and immediately entered.
“Fenn!” they wrapped their arms around them and they responded in kind. “I felt the working, but I couldn’t follow closely enough to know the result. Are you well?” They pushed Fenn back and looked at their face, framing it with their familiar, long-fingered hands. “You are tired? And…” they scowled, reading Fenn’s tumultuous thoughts. “And Malach refused to free Keren.” Their voice dripped vitriol. “The bastard. I knew they’d pull something like this.” Their hands dropped to Fenn’s shoulders, steadying. “Fenn, what of the one who came through behind you? There were two of you. Where is your companion?”
Fenn looked at them. “What?”
“Your companion. There were two come through. I felt them. Where is the person who accompanied you?”

Detective Sergean Will Grant. A magician.

Will Grant. It had to be Will Grant. They were closest to the shimmer when it opened and had been helping Fenn herd the carnas through. Fenn had been focused on keeping it under control and had trusted the team of humans to help open the shimmer and keep onlookers away.
“They were not with me when the gateway closed. We must have been split up in the shimmer itself.” Fenn looked up at Ana as they sank in to a chair and fought exhaustion, anger and the slight nausea left from coming through the shimmer. They shut their eyes briefly. They were so tired. “Where is Keren, Ana? Can we get them out? It will have to be quickly.”
Ana shook their head. “Perhaps. Things have happened whilst you were away.”
“How long was it?” Fenn asked. Time sometimes got twisted when you traveled through the shimmer. Some people could control it and use it to move back and forth in the when as well as between the worlds. Fenn couldn’t and had relied upon the council to pull them through in the right time. Now though…now they didn’t trust anything the Council of Ternants did.
“The third time of trying, that they arranged before you left. So three months.”
Fenn nodded. That was good. It had been their first trip through the shimmer and they had been frightened of all sorts of things. Not least Malach’s word.
“Where would Will Grant have gone? What happened, Ana?”
“I think the gate was shutting behind you as they entered. They could be anywhere. Anywhen, even.”
Fenn made a noise of distress. “They helped me find the carnas and looked after me when the Ternants would not let me through. I must search for them.”
Ana shook their head. “There is very little to be done without a circle to try to trace their kias from the closed gate. That is not a priority. I need to speak to Malach, to see if I can get them to release Keren.” They knelt down between Fenn’s feet and took their hands between their own. “Fenn, child. What did Malach say? What happened in Delft?”
Fenn told them. “The carnas was killing humans. The humans were searching for it. There are a few who use kias…Will Grant is one. We found the egg…the carnas only laid the one. I had it safe and tried to come through with it at the second meeting-time that the Ternants gave me. But Malach would not let me through without the carnas as well. They said one egg wasn’t enough.”
Fenn bent forward and put their forehead on Ana’s shoulder, allowing them to slip their arms around Fenn’s back. It was a relief to have someone else take some weight, just for a moment. Ana’s hands moved gently up and down Fenn’s back, soothing as if Fenn was still a child.
Fenn continued. “And then, Will Grant found me. They broke the egg. I had not told any of them about Keren. When I did…Will Grant was sorry. They took me to their family home and cared for me. I was…” they paused. “I was distraught.”
Ana made a comforting noise. They smelled of home.
“And then…we went back to the city and the other humans had managed to find the carnas. So…I went. And we found it and I managed to push it through.” They drew a breath. “Why do they want it so badly, Ana?”
Ana made a noise in their throat. “Not for anything good. Malach has been consolidating their power for years. The carnas…the carnas should never have been used like this. We should never have consented, when they first came up with the idea of using them to track kias and help police the border. It has been nothing but trouble. Malach uses them like a blunt weapon, aiming them and letting them go. The result is never good, for the hunted for the carnas themselves. It is cruel.”
They released Fenn from their embrace and pushed them a little apart, hands on Fenn’s shoulders, staring urgently in to Fenn’s face. “We can fix this, Fenn. Once and for all. And I need you to do as I ask, now. And not ask me questions. Can you do that? There’s very little time.”
Fenn nodded. “Will you get Keren out?” they asked. “Can you get them?”
Ana shook their head. “I don’t know. I am not even sure Malach has kept them alive this long. Keren is a threat to them. Yes, Malach can use them as leverage, to maneuverer you and I and your other siblings. But on the other hand…Malach must know that using children in these games of theirs is opening more and more eyes to their true nature. If Keren is already dead, then there is no risk of Malach’s own people freeing them.” Her hands tightened on Fenn’s shoulders. “You should think of Keren as already dead, Fenn.” Their eyes filled with tears. “Think of them as already gone and plan your actions accordingly.”
Fenn swallowed. “Namma…,” they said, slipping in to childish language. They had called both their parents by their given names since they left home. They put their hands on Ana’s shoulders, in turn. “Namma…I will find Keren.”
Ana shook their head. “No. Leave Keren to me. You search for the human. And wait. Wait. Trust no-one who is not recommended to you by me or your siblings. Do you understand?”
Fenn nodded. “Very well.” They dropped their hands from Ana’s shoulders and they both pushed to their feet. “Very well.” Fenn drew Ana in to their arms again. “Ana. I am so pleased to be home.”
Ana wrapped her arms back around him. “I am so pleased you are home, too, Fenn. Your other siblings are well. We will make this right, I promise. It may be too late for Keren and I ache for that. I am so angry. It’s time to move against Malach, and we are not alone in being poised to make that happen.” They pushed Fenn an arms length away again. “Now, go. Go back to your quarters. Assume Keren is gone. Grieve them. Rage against Malach. And wait.”

Fenn did as they were asked. Ana was no longer on the Council of Ternants, but the Hunters still had supporters there. Ana had stepped down when Cora died, saying they had both done their duty to the council. Malach had stepped up. And here they all were.

Who’s who in The Hunted and the Hind?

I’ve been putting these out over social media over the last few days…here they are gathered together for your reading pleasure!

Inadvertently tumbling through the border after Fenn, Sergeant Will Grant of the Metropolitan Police has spent three months in prison. When Fenn frees him, they step through the border to the Egyptian desert. It’s a two week trip back to England, with the possibility of pursuit. Will the journey give Fenn and Will time to resolve the feelings they have been dancing around since the day they met?

character sketch: Fenn of the Hunters

The Hunted and the Hind, Fenn of the Hunters. Coming 30th December.

Fenn of the Hunters is a reluctant traveler from their world to London. At the beginning of Shadows on the Border, they are sent by the Council of Ternants to recapture and bring home an escaped carnas, on of the creatures that feed on magic the Ternants use to police the border between the worlds.

Fenn is a magical worker. The Frem call the energy they use to manipulate time and space kias. Fenn and their family are all very strong natural users. One of their special skills is to track strong sources of kias–in people, things or animals. That’s why they’ve been sent after the carnas. Fenn’s not sure what the carnas is doing lost in London; but it’s their duty as hunter to bring it home.

Will Grant’s London is very different to the Underhalls of the Frem that Fenn is used to and they are grateful for the help that Will and his team provide. Their growing connection with Will Grant himself is something that they didn’t expect and are not quite sure what to do with.

Fenn is tired of being manipulated by the Ternants. They want to finish this job, in this busy, crowded, mechanical world and return to their family.

Previously in Lost in Time character sketches… Will Grant, Lew Tyler, Alec Carter, Ella Fortune.

Cover Reveal: The Hunted and the Hind

Today, I am very, very happy to bring you the cover of The Hunted and the Hind. It’s the third in my Lost in Time 1920s London trilogy, although as you may gather from the cover, at least some of it takes place elsewhere.

The Hunted and the Hind, #3 in the Lost in Time 1920s trilogy. Coming on 30th December.
The Hunted and the Hind, coming 30th December

At the end of book number two, Shadows on the Border, poor Sergeant Will Grant got sucked through the border after Fenn, who returned to their home in the Outlands with the murderous creature they’d finally captured with the help of Will’s police team. It took me ages to work out what I wanted to write in Hunted because I never actually set out to write a trilogy–this is one of the downsides of discovery writing, which I have now rather learned to my cost. There were so many loose ends I wanted to tie up to feel that I’d satisfactorily ended the series, for both readers and for myself. It took me three rewrites to get the story knocked into a shape that I feel happy with.

Without further ado…here’s the cover (and the blurb!) for…

The Hunted and the Hind

The Hunted and the Hind cover

Inadvertently tumbling through the border after Fenn and then thrown into the middle of the internecine political disputes of their people, Sergeant Will Grant of the Metropolitan Police has spent three months in prison in the Underhalls of the Frem. When Fenn comes to free him and return him home through the border, he has very little time to work out what’s going on before the sudden appearance of Fenn’s missing younger sibling Keren throws Fenn for a loop.

Instead of returning them to London as planned, the trio step through the border to the Egyptian desert. Once they work out where they are, it’s a two week trip back to England with the possibility of pursuit both onboard ship and when they reach home.

Will the journey give Fenn and Will time to resolve the feelings they have been dancing around since the day they met? How will they keep Keren from recapture by the faction who tried to persuade Fenn they were dead? And has Will’s friend Alec forgiven Fenn for lying about their motives when they first traveled to London four months ago?

Preorder from the publisher, JMS Books!

character sketch: Will Grant

Cecil Beaton and Gary Cooper, some time in the 1930s.
Cecil Beaton and Gary Cooper.

Detective Sergeant William Grant is in all three of the Lost in Time 1920s London books. He is Alec Carter’s second in command. He was invalided out of Military Intelligence (“Contradiction in terms, old chap!”) after he got caught out in a gas attack in 1915. Before that he was working in the Middle East–Palestine and Egypt. He’s in his early forties by the time The Hunted and the Hind begins.

He comes from a wealthy family who were bemused by his decision to go into the police when he came out of the army, but he really didn’t feel like he wanted to do the Foreign Office thing he’d been offered. Boots on the ground and not too much responsibility seemed like a good plan for a while.

He’s always known he wasn’t attracted to women and has reached his own internal peace with that. When he meets Fenn at the beginning of Shadows on the Border, he’s a bit confused because Fenn is so androgynous and that’s not the type of chap he’s previously been attracted to.

Oh. And he’s a worker, or in his boss, Alec’s, terms a bloody magician. It runs in the family. His grandfather was apparently a skilled worker who disappeared some time in the 1860s whilst involved with the Regent’s Park group. So his father never learned all that he should have. He passed on as much as he could to Will, so Will’s not entirely ignorant, just not as well prepared as he’d have liked to be when all these peculiar things start to happen in London.

The picture I’ve included is of Cecil Beaton and Gary Cooper, some time in the 1930s. In my mind’s eye, Will is Beaton, on the left. Cooper is pretty similar to Alec, although they never flirt like these two are.

Previously in Lost in Time character sketches… Lew Tyler, Alec Carter, Ella Fortune.