Exclusive Deleted Scene from A Broken Winter
by Kale Night
I’m sharing an exclusive deleted scene from A Broken Winter. There’s certain scenes that are painful to cut and this was one of them. It occurs right after a character is bitten by a snake. The snake’s powerful venom triggers a memory from a past life. I cut this in favour of the memory that appears in the novel, because the other scene ties things together a little better. But I wish I’d been able to include more of Kai and Nika together, but I’ll be making up for it in book two.
“You shouldn’t eat that in bed. You’re going to make everything sticky,” scolded Kai.
“Everything’s already sticky.” Dark eyes regarded him with playful defiance. Nika sank his teeth into a pulpy yellow thornfruit and juice trickled down his chin. He laid languidly on the bed, blessedly naked. The man’s toned muscles formed exquisite lines in his bare skin—smooth, flawless taupe. Nika chewed slowly, squeezing more juice from the pulpy flesh, and trickled fragrant nectar over Kai’s bare chest.
“Aah … Nika …” The liquid tingled on contact. Kai’s fingers caught in the strands of Nika’s long, black hair, tugging gently as the younger male licked and sucked.
An urgent rapping at the door wrenched his mind into high-alert and he was on his feet, scrambling into an indigo colored tunic left discarded at the foot of the bed. “Kai’den! Kaaai!”
“I’m coming, I’m coming.”
“These aren’t the circumstances under which I wanted to hear you say that,” grumbled Nika, crawling beneath the covers.
Kai tugged the door open. Prince Anowki stood in the hall, panting heavily, pale and distraught. “You have to get Nika out of here. The plague is spreading. My father has ordered the execution of every slave, even the ones in the palace.”
Nika rolled out of bed, tugging a red skirt-like garment around his waist. “What about my parents?”
Anowki’s hazel eyes filled with tears. He shook his head and knelt on the cold stone floor, bowing his head, pressing his palms flat to the ground. “Nika. I couldn’t—” He choked back a sob. “I’m sorry.”
Nika walked over to the prince and yanked him to his feet, “Get up, you idiot. There’ll be plenty of time for us to cry about this later.” He tugged Anowki towards him and hugged him tightly. “It’s not your fault.”
Kai cinched a leather belt around his waist, cramming the attached coin purse full with as many valuable gems as it could carry, and retrieved a folded steel sword from his bedside, the handle wrapped in thick, ruddy sand shark hide, covered in tiny hard scales. He extinguished an olive oil lamp burning smokelessly in a corner of the room and closed the stone door.
They glided through dim tunnels, tongues dry and frozen in their mouths. The stale air was nauseatingly thick with the scent of fragrant oils, runewood and cloves. Closer and closer. Nearly there. A murky figure halted in the distance, appraising them from afar, then closed in.
Yvette. One of the palace guards. Like him, she was orphaned at an early age, her village burned to the ground by dragon fire. They’d both been recruited by the Balphagor—an elite group of dragon hunters. After hunting the beasts to the point of near extinction and working themselves out of a job, members of the Balphagor were recruited by the royal family, serving as their protectors.
Her hand moved to her sword and hovered over the hilt. Her gaze shifted from him to Nika, staring hard. He’d once spent three weeks with her in a tiny scrubdeer tent after a 1,000-kilogram dragon rolled on her, cracking six of her ribs. They’d subsided primarily on lizards and scorpion cactus fruit. He still had tiny circular scars all over his fingertips from harvesting the succulent berries. Evie was quick with a blade. If she drew on him, he’d have no choice but to reciprocate. Her black eyes flickered in the torchlight, returning their focus to him. “I didn’t join the Crystal Guard to fight my brothers.” She punched his shoulder affectionately and stepped aside. “Good luck.”
Kai caught Evie’s hand as he walked past and squeezed it.
Prince Anowki bowed. “Thank you, Miss Evie.”
He proceeded down the narrow corridor. The Hall of Eidolon was brightly lit, with no discernable source of illumination. Colorful figures glowed in the eerie light, painted onto a thin layer of plaster covering limestone concrete walls. Var’het, the Goddess of rain, trampling an army of invading Stig warriors, spattering their blood across the sand, giving it the distinct ruddy hue which persisted to this day. The demon Lamashtu, cornered by Pious Parnicus following the abduction of his daughter, chewed the child’s fingers off, mocking her horrified father. Her flesh was jellyfish-like, translucent. Her hair a tangle of dark adders.
The High Priestess sat on her knees, lovingly scrubbing a statue of the Creator. The statue was neither male nor female, androgynous, a mixture of pigment and animal glue staining smooth skin a patchwork blend of blues, greens, and reds. The Priestess gazed at them, eyes like purple desert crocuses which sprouted in the rain.