This is a deleted scene from really early drafts of Through Dragon Eyes where Zoe was named Alexandra. The name didn’t suit the character and I’m glad it was later changed to Zoe. I do regret not being able to use this scene in the book because I love the bonding between Nyman and Caden. Alas, it didn’t fit within the larger story. I hope you can be entertained by this little rough gem.

Caden had been waiting for hours when an Elf approached the area he was watching. He came out of the bushes.

“Hello. I’m Caden, Egan’s apprentice.” He held out his hand.

“Yes. I know.” The Elf didn’t take his hand so he lowered it.

“I was wondering if you might direct me to the location of the Elven Realm. I’ve been trying to find it so I can make a delivery.”

“Odd Egan isn’t delivering it.” The Elf raised an eyebrow. 

“He’s backed up with work and wants to finish a few orders, so he asked me if I would come here and deliver it for him. But I can’t seem to find my way.” Caden lied.

The Elf nodded and raised a hand. The air shimmered and revealed a moonlit street. She waved her hand, indicating he should pass through. Caden took a tentative step through the magical doorway, then passed all the way through. The Elf followed, closing the door to Acoria behind him. 

“I trust you can find your way?” She asked. 

Caden nodded and she left him on his own. He looked around. The streets were practically disserted. Two moons shone high above. Ahead, towering above all the other structures, was a crystalline mansion. It was both beautiful and terrible. It sent a shiver down his spine. A loud noise drew Caden’s attention to a merchant closing his shop. He jogged over.

“Excuse me.”

The Elf merchant started. “I am closed until tomorrow. Sorry.” He stated.

“Oh that’s okay. I was wondering if you could point me to the nearest inn?” Caden would need a place to stay if he was going to find Egan.

The merchant pointed in the direction of the mansion. “Two blocks to the right there’s the inn, Flacon Argenté.”

“Thank you.” Caden took off in the direction. 

He heard it before he saw it. Laughter and the neighing of horses. Caden turned towards the noise. The sign above the door creaked in the evening breeze. He pushed and stepped inside. It was relatively empty. A group of young men in the corner stood up. They wobbled over to him, clearly intoxicated. Their ears were pointed. Elves. Perhaps they could help him find Egan. 

Caden opened his mouth to speak then closed it. What could he say that wouldn’t get both him and Egan into trouble?

“The Human is muted by our presence.” One of the young Elves laughed.

This was not good. They were one of those kinds of Elves. Human haters. Caden raised his hands.

“I don’t want any trouble. Just looking for a drink.” Caden stated.

“Go elsewhere you pig.” The young man in question spit on the floor at his feet. He was wraith-thin, they all were, and dressed well. Not that that meant anything. All Elves dressed well, and all were thin. Caden wasn’t fooled. He knew Elves were at least twice as strong as Humans. He didn’t want a fight. Caden stepped back. His shoulders pressed against the door. 

“I’d be happy to go anywhere else, please suggest a place I might rest, other than here.” Caden asked.

“Go back home.” The leader of the group swung at him in a wide arc. Caden ducked out of the way and the young man cursed in what Caden only guessed was Elvish. The wood splintered from the impact of the drunken fist. Caden side-stepped away, putting more distance between them, his hands still raised defensively.

Two of the other men charged him and he blocked another punch with his left. The force pushed him back and pressed him painfully into the corner of a chair. Caden winced. The second man moved in. Caden could barely handle this one. There was no way he could handle both Elves. A figure stepped in and saved him the trouble. The new arrival blocked the Elven assailant’s swing and knocked him back across the tavern floor. 

Enraged the leader shouted orders to the Elf Caden was defending against. The punches landed hard and Caden, having enough, punched back. The force of the strike stunned the Elf. Thank Egan for the strength of a blacksmith. The Elf recovered too quickly and landed a strike in his stomach, Caden flew back and rolled over a table.

“What’s going on here?” The innkeeper stepped out from the back.

Caden’s mysterious ally drove back the second drunk Elf. Both he and the innkeeper kicked the young men out. Caden blinked and struggled to stand. His insides hurt worse than his first year as a blacksmith. And all because he wanted a place to stay. Egan, you better appreciate what I’m doing for you.

Caden heard the innkeeper thank the mysterious ally.

“Sorry about that Nymen, normally those boys know better. Tell your friend his stay is on the house.”

Nymen? Why was that name familiar? An outstretched hand appeared before him. Caden grasped it and Nymen pulled him to his feet. They just stared at each other. 

“Thanks.” Caden ventured as he checked the bag to make sure the bracelet was still there. It was.

Nymen nodded. His skin was deep blue, odd. He wasn’t an Elf. Caden wasn’t sure where he was from. Nymen headed towards a table with a stein of beer and a meal. 

Caden sighed and mumbled, “If Alexandra was here, I bet that would have never happened.”

Nymen stopped and turned. “You know Alexandra?”

You know Alexandra?” Caden asked. It hit him. Nymen – the name Alexandra had whispered over the ocean when he had approached. Nymen the Merman Soran offered to arrange to meet her here in the Elven Realm. 

“You’re Nymen!”

“You’re Caden.” They both said at the same time. “Come,” Nymen directed Caden to his table and indicated he should sit. He raised a hand and the innkeeper brought out a meal and drink.

“Thanks,” Caden called after the innkeeper. 

So Alexandra had told Nymen about him. It was nice to know she didn’t forget her family when she was under the ocean. They ate in silence. This was the famous Nymen. He didn’t talk much did he. Caden grinned at the idea of talkative Alexandra and silent Nymen. Nymen looked at him, puzzled, then forked some food into his mouth. 

“I was just thinking about how you and Alexandra make quite the pair. Her talkative. You the silent type. I can’t imagine it.”

“We are not a pair.” Nymen sounded annoyed.

“I only meant—”

Caden shifted uncomfortably. He’s already offended the first Merperson he met and a group of Elves just by walking in here. Maybe he should just go home and wait for Egan’s return. Caden sighed.

“So what brings you to the Elven Realm?” Caden took a swig of beer and relaxed as it warmed him. He took another gulp.

“I was summoned by the Duke Soran.”

Caden choked and sputtered. “Soran. A Duke.” He coughed. “I knew his father was close to the King of the Elves, but I didn’t realize that was why. Alexandra’s in more trouble than she bargained for.”

“Alexandra is in trouble?” Nymen’s gaze sent chills down his spine. This was not a man he wanted to get on the wrong side of. He could see he cared for Alexandra. Caden decided then that Nymen was a man he liked.

“Soran brought her here to teach her about Elven magic. She doesn’t know he’s a Duke. I don’t trust him.”

Nymen sat silently considering Caden’s words.

“Hey, maybe you can help me find someone and then we can go pay a visit and check in with Alexandra. See if she’s okay.”

Nymen nodded. 

Well at least Caden had someone on his side now. So far, the search for Egan wasn’t going too badly. “Do you know your way around here? This is my first time in the Elven Realm.” Caden asked.

Nymen nodded.

“Uh, great. We’ll start tomorrow.” 

Nymen nodded. 

Caden held back laughter. I guess opposites do attract. Alexandra was not going to live this down.