Seylah and Jasper’s Conversation
This deleted scene from Never To Live takes place near the end of Chapter Seventeen: Angel of Death.
The forest swirled around Seylah, and she hung onto Jasper’s arm tightly. They seemed to float through the sky and settle in a new place. When the air stopped spinning, Seylah looked around, not releasing Jasper’s arm. The first thing she noticed was that the nature spirits were gone, and she actually felt relieved.
“Let go of my arm,” Jasper said, stepping away from her. “Look around.”
Seylah licked her lips and did as he said. She was standing at the edge of a flat stone circle. She stepped onto it and kept looking about.
A few feet in there were three steps going up to another, smaller stone circle. In the center of that was a large bowl standing on three thin legs with black, foamy water shooting up at least five feet before cascading back down in the center.
Seylah walked to its edge and hooked her fingers over the rim, entranced. The water was black and thick, shining like oil, but parts in it remained clear and slightly blue. The black water did not erase the clear parts as it should. Seylah turned to face Jasper, her fingers still resting on the rim. “What is—”
“Finish looking,” Jasper said, slowly sitting on the top step.
Seylah nodded. Dotted around the lower, larger stone circle were many strange things. She looked to Jasper in question.
“Those are called birdbaths,” he said, “and the bowl next to you is a water fountain. They were built in this place long before the world burned.” He motioned her on.
Seylah went back down the steps, going to the closest bowl and pedestal. It was built elegantly, with swooping yet feral curves. It was beautiful, but harsh, cruel. The small basin was filled with water, the center a pure black, tendrils spreading out from it, as if it were roots of a plant growing into the clear water around it.
Seylah dragged her fingers through the water. It was cold, normal, swirling out behind her fingers, but the colors did not blend.
Seylah glanced at the other pedestals and basins. Each one was crafted differently. She walked to another. It was made in undefined swirls, but the basin was a pair of wings folded into a cup shape, like she could do with her hands. Seylah looked into the water and gasped. The inside of the basin looked like obsidian, and the water was almost translucent blue, small white lights bobbing and glimmering though it. There were dark spots in this one, too, but not many. She laughed, making her fingers chase the bobbing lights.
Each of the basins was not only made differently, but the water they held was also different. “Ready for me to explain?” Jasper said. Seylah nodded and trotted to his side, sitting next to him. “The Nature Spirits call this the place of water. It was created when the world was much different from how it is now. The fountain in the center represents Elderinth and its people. Each of the outer basins represents another race. Elves, dwarves, those with wings, the infected, darkbloods, the children of the moon, all of them, even the sorcerers and,” Jasper’s face grew dark, “the witches.”
“And the water?” Seylah said.
“I don’t know how they did it, but it represents the state each land or people is in,” Jasper said. “Each country or race had a place like this, of their own design. It was made so each could keep an eye on themselves and the others, as a precaution that none of them would become something they shouldn’t,” Jasper said, watching her. “It was a good idea, as ideas go, but it didn’t work right.”
Seylah gaped at him, her mouth parted. “Is that possible?”
“The world was different,” Jasper said. “There were things called peace treaties. All the races and people mingled, intermixed. But then they went too far and the world burned, taking both the physical and mental. All of these places were hidden.”
“Elderinth’s water is almost pure black,” Seylah said, “and that other one had sparkling lights in it. What does that mean?”
“Black water represents corruption or decay,” Jasper said. “Normal water means all is well and good. When the water shines it means the state of things are above average. The first basin you went to was the one for Airedanwa. If you look closely, you can see a shining light drifting among the black water, and that light is beginning to grow. There is a light in Elderinth’s fountain as well, along with something else I have never seen.”
“What are the bright lights?” Seylah asked, curious.
Jasper looked down at her. “A person or people making a change.”
One of the basins caught Seylah’s eye again. It was one of the more strangely shaped ones. She asked Jasper about it. “Who does the basin of wings belong to?”
“A race that lives separated from the others, like the sea people now do, which is probably why they are in a better state. They have wings.” Jasper sighed. “Seeing these basins is not the only thing you were sent here for. Seylah,” he said holding her by both shoulders, “you are dead.”
“Did you hear me?”
“Dead. Yes. You will re-enter time as soon as we release the seal. You have to decide what you want to do.”
“You are in shock,” Jasper said. “You need a clear mind when you decide this, or you will regret it.”
“What do you mean, ‘decide’?” Seylah said, shivering.
Jasper looked at her. “Keep calm.”
“I…can’t,” she said her voice rising on its own. “I’m dead? I won’t ever go back and see Finnion and Gwendor and Cestmir and Elwyn? And Master Crispin! Maiara? The villagers? Not ever? I’m dead?”
“Yes,” Jasper said, giving her a shake. “But listen to me before panicking.”
“As an izdihar, you have two choices. You can die as a human, not an izdihar, and your soul will be escorted away now,” he said slowly, as if he didn’t want to speak. “Or you can sign a contract with the nature spirits and live in the world. If you sign the contract, you will only have a certain amount of time before you ‘die’ again, this time…permanently. After that, you will be bound to the nature spirits as I am. You will be with them and work for them, no matter what they tell you to do, for the rest of time.”
Seylah swallowed. “Jasper, were you an izdihar? Did you die and sign the contract?” she whispered. “But how? Don’t only girls become izdihars?”
“No, not only girls. Not originally.” His face became stiff. “But yes,” he said, “I was a dwarven izdihar, and I signed the contract when I was killed.”
“Do you regret it?”
He shrugged. “I got to meet you.” His face became taut again. “Yes, I regretted it.”
“I don’t understand,” Seylah said, clinging to him. “What should I do?”
“I will explain and tell you my story, but you must decide on your own.”
Seylah sniffled, nodded her head against his chest. “Jasper, why do you call me princess? The elves said it was strange,” she said, wanting to avoid the topic as long as possible.
Jasper fell silent, and Seylah wondered if she’d upset him. “It is time you heard the tale of the first, and the only male, izdihar.”