Please note that deleted scenes may contain spoilers!

Character Notes – descriptions of the characters in the Ren Crown world – click to go to the page or see names below

Deleted Snippet: Excelsine Description #1Deleted Snippet: Excelsine Description #2Ren’s Original Class ScheduleDeleted Scenes: Librarian and AssistantshipDeleted Scene: Garnet NorrissingGuard Rock: Sock EaterDeleted Snippet Book 5: Shelle Fanning finds her limitDeleted Snippet Book 5: Heroes and VillainsAlternate Scene: Getting to the Second LayerDeleted Scene: Axer Arrives EarlierDeleted Scene: Dialogue with Third Layer Councilwoman

Nexus, Leys, and Tribes MapExcelsine Announcement Board NotesExcelsine Crest

Second Layer clock illustrationSecond Layer clock by ElizabethBookmarks-Printables

Character Notes

Ren CrownOlivia PriceAlexander DareConstantine LeandredWill TaskyNephthys BauChristian Crown

Mike GivensDelia PeoplesRaphael VerisettiPhillip MarsgroveLucille StevensGanix GreyskullDraeger

Helen PriceEnton StavrosArchelon Kaine

The entire list is accessible on this page — more to come.

Bookmarks – Printables

Click on each to get the pdf file, then print to cardstock! Color or leave B&W! Will be adding more here — having fun with them!

Nexus, Leys, and Tribes Map

The ley slices of the Five Kingdoms, where each of the referenced tribes live (and/or rule), surrounding the Nexus and Garden. This map is included in the Tender of the Garden novella, whose story takes place in the Fourth Layer during the events of The Protection of Ren Crown.

Excelsine Announcement Board Notes

Papers were attached to the board by little white dots of swirling magic.

– From The Awakening of Ren Crown

Excelsine Crest

This is the crest for Excelsine University. Graduates, use it with pride!

Second Layer Clock

An awesome reader asked me a question last week about the time keeping in the Second Layer, and I thought it would be nice to stick up an illustration.
Excelsine Clock

Second Layer Clock – Made!

Forget an illustration! Reader Elizabeth MADE an awesome Second Layer clock! Look at the details!

Elizabeth - Second Layer Clock

Deleted or Unused Scenes

Excelsine Description 1 – cut in draft stage

This is a section of text that was cut from the scene in The Awakening of Ren Crown where Will is showing Ren the hologram of campus. It became too long, and the beginning quarter of the book was dragging, so snip, snip it went! 🙂

The dragon curved around the mountain, as did the view in the enchanted glass. My smile grew. There were terraces built into the steeper sides and large fields took up space in carved out areas, with stands built into the hill.

Streets that went up, streets that went in, and streets that curved endlessly around. Markets, stalls, apartments, and little shops lined the sides, forming neighborhoods. There were skyscrapers and business districts, thatched houses and mud bricks.

People walked with books and bags, and were dressed in all sorts of ways. Every once in a while the hologram spell would freeze on a face or building and zip into a large still frame up in the corner, then list stats on the person or place. A proper brochure or recruitment video.

But even with the pop-ups, the dragon kept going, and with it, the view.

The campus was a giant city, a fortress, spiraling ever higher with layer upon layer of history, architecture, and the fantastic carved into its sides. My heart beat harder in my chest. It was something out of one of my dreams.

I swallowed. I couldn’t let my wants distract me. I had a concrete mission now.

I also realized that this elevated Academy was the backdrop for Mr. Verisetti’s prints. The notion made something in me itch.

Jets of light lit up a long, long field ahead, and as the dragon curved around and over it, I could see students fiercely battling. They were using staffs and rods, or throwing marbles and other odd objects. One boy was only using his hands, untouchable in the middle of the field, familiar ultramarine blue eyes barely sparing a cold glance at the next challenger in front of him, nor the one sneaking up at his back. Lights shot from his palms and fingertips as his arms performed a deadly dance.

A little frame appeared in the corner with his picture, a number of weapons, including a staff, and a lot of text. I couldn’t concentrate and read it, though, through the pumping of my heart in my ears. I stared at the hue of his eyes and watched him annihilate everyone around him.

I had no memory of his face, but I knew those eyes.

I knew him.

Excelsine Description 2 – cut in draft stage

Similar to the other description of campus, this scene was going on for too long (and had a different entry point from what made it to the final draft!). This section occurred once she arrived on campus.

Over my stack of now irreparably shuffled documents, I carefully examined the buildings around Top Quad as I walked. There were nine arrayed closely together in a myriad of styles. Cobblestone streets and paved streets alternately wove between them, along with one street which was made entirely of what looked like glass. Each of the buildings had a different architecture style. Modern, Art Deco, Classic, Gothic, New Age, Medieval. Spires in Gaudi-like style, castle turrets, square glass structures, a stone fortress.

I walked the street of glass, trying to peer down—and to the sides of my papers—to see if it was truly glass. Emerging from the glass alley, there was a section of land that contained nothing but a short wall. And the view beyond…. Oh, the view. The mountain was awe-inspiringly huge. Three thousand feet high, at least, with circle upon circle of buildings and development stretching down its sides. If the Tower of Babel existed, surely this strange enchanted fortress was it?

“Christian.” I closed my eyes. “Why am I here without you?”

I breathed in a deep gulp of air as I continued my path down the mountain. A fortress without altitude sickness. The air was fresh and clean. A large river circled the base of the mountain, and flat plains and towns stretched out for miles beyond. I could see clouds surrounding mountain tops in the distance, but none lingered here, making the view utterly unspoiled and fantastic.

Sans map, I didn’t know exactly where my dorm was located, but I could see Dormitory Circle, even from way up here. It stretched around the entire circumference of the fifth circle of the mountain. I just had to keep working my way down.

It was a long, long way. Each circle was a hugely wide and mostly flat plane, then steep steps would cut down to the next level. The whole way, I encountered only three other students using the stairs. Which meant there were easier methods of transportation available.

Ren’s Initial Class Schedule

Fun note — this schedule was in a very early draft that did not include her sneaking onto campus (some day I’ll have to post how that changed and about everything that got modified during the overhaul!). Bootcamp was taught by a flesh-and-blood Lieutenant Draeger in this early version of drafting. 🙂

An hour later, my fingers ached from all the things I’d had to sign in ink, blood, and magic. I was now loaded down with a giant eighteen inch high stack of informational packets, contracts and agreements, an orientation appointment two days hence, and a class schedule for the next four weeks.

* Adviser—Professor Stevens, Chemistry and Compounds, professorial housing, 33 West Owensby, Thirty-third Circle

* Bootcamp—Lieutenant Draeger, 2nd Compound, Ellery Square
* Individualized Project—Professor Stevens, 52 Neb Cross, Sixth Circle
* Layer History 101 (audit only)—Professor Ling
* Ordinary vs. Extraordinary (audit only)—Professor Suttikul

Librarian and Assistantship

Like the class schedule, in the initial writing of the first half of Book 1, things looked a bit different. Ren was on campus legally, hidden by Marsgrove (wait until I get those snippets up for some topsy-turvydom!), and helped by some of the adults. All of that obviously changed during the writing, but I thought you might enjoy reading a snippet from an alternate-Ren-reality, written long before the book was completed. I have pages upon pages of helpful Mrs. Huxford, the librarian, who offers Ren a job in the library — but who was lost in edits by the time I finished, and only makes unnamed appearances in the books now (but who still survives in my mind!). You can see how some things morphed but survived the process, though, like the five card disks and the notice board.

She withdrew the five card disks, which had helpful titles and a small cover picture printed on each. “Interesting choices.”

I blushed. “I just picked them at random. I was curious.”

She tapped them and considered me. “Would you like a library tour? There are four floors, but if you aren’t shown how to access the upper levels, it can be hard to figure out.”

I swallowed the sudden rush of love for another human being. “Yes, please. I would love that, thank you, Mrs. Huxford.” The words approached fervent.

And, the assistantship that almost was…

A piece of paper with the letters “libr” caught my eye. It had obviously been there for a while, since other notices had crept over the edges. I lifted it out to discover an ad for a fourth floor library assistant on a paper that had seen better days. The text was decently unexciting, indicating that the job paid peanuts, but someone had tried to spice it up by adding in glorious benefits such as “study as you earn” and “gain library secrets” and “know the secret stacks!”

I could use a few peanuts. I was going to need to purchase a number of magical substances. There was only so far I could go with my stash of babysitting cash.

I plucked the notice from the board and rubbed it between my fingers. Fourth floor assistant? Maybe the reason the position was still available was because no one could find a way up there to apply. I stuck the paper in my back pocket, copied down the text about the Art Expressionists’ meeting, and decided to try a search wall.


I needed book access when no one was watching, and I needed money.

I dug the library paper out of my stash box, then found Mrs. Huxford in the library. “Have you filled this position?”

Mrs. Huxford’s eyes lit up. “No. Are you interested? We could dearly use the help, and it is an excellent way to learn the fourth floor intimately.”

That was what I was counting on. “I am very interested.”

“Perfect!” She examined me warmly. “And perhaps you might help me update things around here. Make the library more new-user friendly? And there are plenty of old magic users who set foot in a library only once a year. It would benefit all.”


Spend time in the library? Gain library secrets? Talk to someone who was willing to tell me things? Absolutely.

“Great. Can you come by next Thursday at Capricorn Rising?”

I’d have to figure out what time Capricorn Rising actually was, but I nodded. I had about two dozen side projects, but a part time job…it would provide some money. And a job that would facilitate everything else?


Let’s just end it there and say there is a good chance you may see a magical library adventure from me some day. 😉

Garnet Norrissing – deleted scene

Garnet Norrissing was one of those characters that popped fully formed into my head — and I have a LOT of dialogue snippets about her from other characters (especially the delinquents). Ultimately, I couldn’t justify including her in Protection, which was already chock full of new characters, and it didn’t really work to introduce her after that. Still, I have a soft spot for Garnet and wish I could have told her tale.

Here is an eavesdropping scene where Ren is watching and listening to Bellacia trying to get information on Ren. I tried really hard to include the scene in The Protection of Ren Crown, because it had a number of hints to other things and it humanized Inessa (who is rather one note on the page, since she really hates Ren and the only time we see her is when Ren is around).

You might recognize what Garnet was trying to warn Will about. 😉

The girl was…odd. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why, but her eyes were too wide, making her pupils too small, and slightly unfocused.

“Garnet,” Bellacia said, pulling the girl’s unfocused attention to her.

“Brought in the midday’s night. An army of dragons. Tartarus alight.”

Bellacia’s lips tightened in a smile. “What do you see of the girl?”

“Connected by fire. By copper and gold. Death’s long bier.” The girl looked toward my bushes, her unfocused gaze not making contact with mine, but I felt as if she was looking at me all the same.

“The sickly green casts shade. It hurts me. And all those made.”

Inessa put an arm around her, hugging her close and touching the girl’s cuff. “Shhh…I’ll take you back to your room.”

Bellacia put a hand on Inessa’s arm. “We need her.”

Inessa shook her off. “No. You can try again later if she is feeling up to it.”

I didn’t make an everyday study of their table, but ever since my introduction to Bellacia, I occasionally watched their interactions in the cafeteria. It was the first time I had seen Inessa naysay Bellacia in any way. Inessa usually had a fawning, sycophantic expression to her face when she looked upon their group’s leader.

Escaping, I asked Olivia, Will, and Neph about the girl with the strange eyes when I finally made it to Okai.

“Garnet Norrissing,” Olivia said tightly. “Inessa Norrissing’s sister. Certifiably insane.”

Will poked the side of his head. “Did too much tampering with frequencies a couple years back. She was brilliant with them—she was a named user on the hack market at thirteen. Helped make hot swapping what it is today—swapping out one frequency app for another while keeping brain activity normal. Wish I had met her then. But she tried to hot swap too many.”

His head poke became a finger loop. “She’s not all there now. The incident caused a huge flurry of government restrictions to be put into place so it doesn’t happen again.”

“I know of whom you speak,” Neph said softly. “She has strange patterns in her magic. We sometimes have that happen in our community as well when someone breaks internal walls that should not be broken.”

“Rumor has it that she can see magic clearly and make predictions based on the connections she sees.” Will shrugged and his finger looped again. “And at other times, fruit loop city.”

“Will,” Neph chided.

“She stopped me last term and told me that I had to beware the stick man, Neph.” Will shook his head. “She was very earnest about it, and nice, so I thanked her and helped her back to her dorm.”

I swallowed. Stick man? My anxiety increased.

“They keep her cuffed up tighter than an Ori—than a Port Mage.”

“Cuffed? But she makes predictions?”

“Not real predictions, more like she issues warnings or gives overlooked information. One of the underground papers explained it as she sees a lot of information all at once. Like the red streaming room—-but coming down her feeds continuously. And sometimes she assimilates information together that wouldn’t make sense otherwise. But streaming isn’t like reading a book. It’s hard to put pushed information like that into words. It either assimilates in your mind to form a coalesced picture or it blasts by.”

I thought of the red streaming room. It was awesomely useful, but no way would I want to experience that every moment of my day. No wonder her eyes were so far from lucid.

“They cuff her frequencies, but it’s like…I don’t know, looking at a drug addict in withdrawal all the time.”

“Inessa is extremely protective,” I said.

Neph nodded. “It’s a good quality.”

“If you count being protective as a good quality, then it is her singular one,” Olivia said tightly.


I started seeing Garnet Norrissing everywhere. Baden-Meinhof style, now that I was aware of her, I saw her all over campus.

Guard Rock: Sock Eater

Guard Rock became a bit too dignified for this representation, but I always found the image amusing. 😉

Guard Rock was rifling through my sock drawer again. He had eaten six socks already—unfortunately, he didn’t like to eat pairs, so I now had six socks without matches.

Shelle Fanning finds her limit

Spoilers for Book Five!
Originally, in order to find out about Omega Genesis, the Basement, etc., there was going to be a huge search through Department facilities and homes. Shelle Fanning, the Department Press Secretary who Ren observed in Book 4 as seeming to be for the “good,” discovered more than she was comfortable with. I wanted to show that not everyone was evil in the Department. This is the start of that would-be scene.

I froze.
Shelle Fanning was sitting at her desk. Half the light shaded her face.
“I serve the Second Layer.” Her hand moved to a small stack of papers and she briefly closed her eyes. “I serve the Second Layer.”
She got up and walked stiffly to the door, then slipped through, not making eye contact.
What the ever-loving—?
I exchanged a loaded glance with Olivia. Then walked to the stack.
Watch for booby traps.
Booby traps.
There was a snicker.
Not now, Patrick! Ren, watch—
I know. What, we think she is just handing the Department over?

Heroes and Villains

Spoilers for Book Five!
This is a scene snippet that didn’t make the final text. You probably don’t need character labels to figure out who is speaking! The break between snippets would have been filled in had it made the text.

“I don’t want to be a hero. Or a villain. Heroes and villains are media titles. Labels that are affixed according to actions deemed as such by others.” I had seen Bellacia do it too many times to drive emotional sway. Because it worked. “I want to know what is right without someone telling me that it is. I want to make decisions that might not be popular now, but that will be looked upon in 20 or 30 years as good, as common sense. Maybe not popular, but right.”
I stared at the wall. “I can’t care if I’m the villain. Flavel Valeris was the villain. And that outlook hasn’t changed in 70 years—-he did not pass the test. But I can look on his actions and see the flaws. I can see where he…” I looked at the container. At the undeniable magic circling inside of it. “I know where he went wrong. And it’s easy. It’s easy to go wrong. It’s easier to go wrong than to go right. And it’s easy to do nothing. To be only concerned with oneself. It’s just as easy to do nothing as to do wrong. And what does that say? What does that say about the path I’m supposed to walk?”
“That it will be hard.”
“That it will be hard.” I firmed my fists and looked at him. “But it will be closer to what’s right. And eventually, it will make it easy for others in the future. Hard now, easy later. Insanity now, common sense later.”
“You don’t owe anyone anything, darling.”
“Maybe I owe it to myself. To do what’s hard. To do what’s right,” I said softly.

“I’m a villain, darling.”
“Maybe they just printed your label wrong.”
He snorted. “Hardly.” He pulled his feet from the desk. “Let’s go save the world.”
“You don’t owe anyone anything either, Constantine.”
He looked at me, free of the veil of hair he sometimes used as a shield, and I could feel everything flowing between us like it was written across his face. “Maybe I owe it to myself, then.”
I smiled and let it all flow back. “Let’s go.”

Alternate Scene: Getting to the Second Layer

This was how Ren got to the Second Layer in an old draft of Book One. It was slowing down an already slow section of the book, though, so it had to go. Plus, I needed a few nested written bits that couldn’t be included in this type of scene. Still, this type of inherent silliness was an integral part of the first drafts I wrote for Book One before things got more serious, so I thought I’d share one of those bits here. 🙂

Marsgrove handed me a piece of paper. “Do what I told you, quickly, and don’t speak to anyone.”
I needed to press down twenty-three times on the handle of the bathroom soap dispenser to obtain a magic traveling elixir. It left me wondering if people accidentally got transported to other dimensions all the time when soap dispensers had only that last wee bit of soap left that you had to frantically pump to get out.
I looked at the paper he had given me. Second Layer was crisply written on it. I tried to follow him into the bathroom.
“What the devil are you doing? Use yours,” he hissed.
I backed up, cheeks flaming, and pushed open the door adorned with a stick figure wearing a dress. I had been in the bathroom several times before, and despite the serial need for more toilet paper, the space was reasonably clean, and utilitarian with its three stalls and two sinks. No one was present, thank God. I should probably hurry up with this whole craziness, before someone came in and carted me off. I took the piece of paper and placed it on my palm, then observed my choices. There were two soap dispensers. Did it matter?
I chose the dispenser on the right. My hand hovered over it for a few long moments, then I started pumping.
It cannot be undersold that twenty-three pumps of anything is a lot. I was on pump twenty-two, when I grudgingly admitted that perhaps someone sane wouldn’t try for twenty-three. They must go through a terrible amount of soap in this place. No wonder they were always out. That didn’t explain the lack of toilet paper though…I cast a suspicious glance at the stalls.
I had no idea if I was supposed to hold my hand under the pump the entire time. The little piece of paper in my hand with the address was now drenched and soap was dripping from my cupped hand. What if the text blurred and sent me somewhere else? But it was too late to redo things. I didn’t know if the paper was part of the magic, and I had already made the decision to hold the soap as it fell — it had seemed a waste and awfully messy to let the first twenty pumps just fall onto the counter. And what if all that liquid soap was needed in order to coat the magic?
When the twenty-third pump fell, my hand was overflowing with liquid soap and my heart was beating far too quickly.
The dispenser turned purple, the magic soap fell into my hand, then promptly covered the whole thing and worked up my arm, covering my torso, then racing toward the floor. The coating hit my feet and the air shimmered.
I looked around. My hand was full of soap. Would washing it off plunge me into an abyss of doom? What the hell?
Christian would have had far more eloquent swear words. The thought of him pushed me forward. I was obviously in the same place. Three stalls, two sinks, subway tile. I exited to the hall. Maybe I really was crazy.
“Crown, what the devil are you hold—”
Marsgrove, hands free of soap, went pink with sudden realization. He removed a pen from his shirt and pointed it at my hand. The soap flew out of my hand and into the pen’s tip. He clicked the top, then stuck it back in his pocket. He closed his eyes and sighed.
I took that to mean I didn’t have to hold a handful of soap in the future. Maybe it all sucked back into the dispenser somehow? If so, I had just robbed the coffeehouse of twenty-two pumps.

Axer Arrives Earlier

For a little while in the writing process, Axer arrived before everything went crazy. This was a possibility for his entrance.

“What are you doing here? You need to leave.”
I was beginning to sound like a broken record.
He smiled faintly, poking the wards. “I’m in Medical right now. Or, at least, my body is.”
I frowned. “No way Stavros believes that.”
“It doesn’t matter what Stavros believes. It matters that he can’t do anything because my body is in Medical.”
“And where is Ramirez’s body?”
“Probably with Camille,” he said easily.
I frowned. “He can keep that up?”
“The illusion was only necessary for a few hours. Your trusted sidekick will make certain no one investigates too closely.”
“Did you just call Greyskull a sidekick? He will murder you in your sleep.”
“Healers are predictable. They always go for the heart,” he said with a smile.
I had a feeling Grey would go for a far different body part first, though. Stavros better hope they never met.

Dialogue with Third Layer Councilwoman

*SPOILERS for The Destiny of Ren Crown*
This was a scene that went with the other Third Layer elements that didn’t make it into the book (I had SO MUCH plot I didn’t use – entire threads of plot… I’ll see if it makes sense to try and string a few threads together for the site).

This scene was scheduled to go in, or after, Chapter Twenty-nine in Book Five. Things were moving too quickly in the book for it, though, by the time I got there, and I had skipped past the need for the dialogue (and Ren’s emotional barometer wasn’t right for it anymore), so it was cut. I still mourned for a few things that I wished could be included though, so this is a good scene for the site!

I was in a cell.
I laughed until I cried when I realized where I had sent myself.
Dragging myself from the floor of the cell, I shuffled over to the door and pulled open the last empty unit in the block.
I looked to my right.
Liam was whipping his hands around like a conductor of a grand symphony, music pouring from his fingertips. He looked over at me, startled, then waved a jolly wave.
My hand went to my mouth, tears on my face.
“His Awakening is over, his discovery nearly complete. He will be released soon.”
I turned to see the councilwoman from the Western Territories – the woman who had lived in the Golden City before the Breaking – standing near the console. She stepped toward me, looking far older in the face than the seventy-nine years she had claimed, but walking with the purpose of someone half as young.
“You doubt,” she said.
I curled my fingers together. “Yes.”
What good was my power when I kept losing all those around me. When I couldn’t protect those I held dear.
I laughed bitterly. “You asked me how I was going to save myself? Well, I seem quite able to save myself. Just no one else.”
She said nothing for a moment. “Is that how you took my words?” Sadness turned her mouth. “No, Child. It is not your life that I cautioned you to save.”
I turned to look at the Awakening mages, all happily using their talents, embracing their powers, controlling their elements. “Everyone keeps telling me I’m going to blow up. I heard you say it to Frost Viper, too.”
“Yes. Origin Mages do tend to that unfortunate end. And they sometimes take others with them when they go.”
Immense sadness tightened her features. I ached for her. How many people had she lost in the Breaking? Her whole world, except for whoever had traveled with her to the funeral that had caused her absence from the city.
“But my words to you, no, that is the least of the fear.”
I stared at her. “The least of the fear is that I blow a layer, kill millions—billions—of people?”
She sighed. “You think so big. Do you ever think small?”
I thought of Christian. Of saving just one person. “Yes.”
She eyed me. “And yet you still think big about it.”
“No, I just wanted to resurrect one person. Just bring one back from the dead.”
“Overturning death. Changing the fabric of magic’s rules. Such a small thing.”
I closed my eyes. “Okay. No, then. I don’t think small.”
Everything could always be more. Pencils turned into entire art packages. Protection wards turned into impenetrable cells.
I liked to take everything and dive into the deepest recesses of it that I could. To learn everything and make whatever I was doing ALL it could be.
She smiled sadly. “Origin Mages don’t desire power in the way that many humans desire power. They don’t want to rule or be worshiped. But they do want to build. To create. To explore. And this carries with it its own set of consequences. For a mind can be tricked into thinking that it’s doing the work of good, when it is doing the work of desire.”
“Don’t desire,” I said tiredly, watching Liam create a new symphony. “Got it.”
“No, child. Desire is not a bad thing. It’s always what you do with your talents that will label them positive or negative. A greedy person can make certain that everyone else also has access to abundance, allowing the person to collect all that they want without consequence. An egotistical person can set up a system whereby they do good works and are rewarded. You don’t need to change you. You only have to choose how you will affect the world.”
“So, create, but don’t blow up the world.”
She sighed. “Create, but understand why you are doing a particular project when it comes to a global scale. Understand what is behind it. Don’t do it just because it is interesting. Do it because it has merit and a good basis.”
I licked my lips. I did that. I gravitated toward interesting things without giving it too much thought. Everything was just so easy sometimes.
She nodded sadly, as if she’d read my mind. “And that is where an Origin Mage must struggle. You must continuously ask yourself why. You must be skeptical of every reason for doing a project. You must investigate.”
I thought about it. The future. A future where I had to do a ten-step plan before trying anything.
She stepped forward and wrapped her hands around mine. “Child, you do not have to hole yourself up in such decisions for everything. But you must recognize the difference between a fun project with your friends, and something that affects the lives and magic of millions of people. There is a difference, and you must treat it as such.”
Heaviness descended in my midsection, like poison in my gut. Shame.
“Okay,” I whispered.
“That you feel the consequences makes you human. That you live within consequences makes you more.”