In the endless search for elegance some paragraphs, pages, and even chapters, are cut from a draft. Never was this more true than my current draft of The Keep Within. Here’s a bit that, tearfully, got the chop. I present it here instead. It gives a flavour of the TKW.
“Larksdale reached his chamber and turned the iron ring of the door. Inside, a single candle flickered upon the nightstand. The small circular bedroom was one of King Parewick’s infamous follies and only someone like Harry Larksdale could sleep in it.
Parewick had been one of those monarchs with a reign as impressively odd as it was predictably short, sprinkling coin not upon arms and armies but on craftsmen of unique vision.
A life-sized portrait hung of him in the tennis hall for instance, where his countenance and limbs were entirely represented with cheeses, carrots and pigs: the bounty of the Brintland. He had wasted a year’s taxes on bejewelling his wolfhound’s hide (it died thereafter) and the less said about his attempt to wrap the great keep in taffeta the better.
This bed chamber, comparatively modest in size, had been King Parewick’s attempt to illustrate the entire universe in woodwork. The bed’s four posters were the pillars of the world, with the peoples of the earth—well, the people of the Main—carved upon them. The posters blended into the ceiling and floor seamlessly and one could follow the souls of humanity’s dead as they rose up to God and the Holy Pilgrim’s realm on the domed ceiling, where they could look forward to rubbing ethereal shoulders with Saints and the like. Other souls, of course, descended.
Larksdale stood upon those souls now. Hundreds of carved screaming faces peered up from the varnished floor, tormented by winged sprites painted in gold lacquer and for a moment Larksdale pictured himself sinking feet first into the damned vignette.“