Release Date: August 6th 2019
Deleted scene from the Chapter 30 of BEASTS OF THE FROZEN SUN
Deleted Scene: Lira meets Zabelle in the cave
Notes: This scene is from when Lira goes into the cave in the Green Desert to try and save Sloane, her guard. Initially, there were nomad prisoners in the cave—including Zabelle. This was cut to keep the Green Desert storylines moving faster and to avoid redundancy.
A woman’s scream ripped open the quiet night.
Wraith snorted and kicked. I grabbed his reins, petting his muzzle to soothe him, searching the landscape. The sound had come from a cluster of knolls south of the camp.
These hills were different. Rockier. There was an opening in one of them, a dark fissure splitting the ground. The yawning mouth of a cave.
Gripping the broken spear in one hand and my knife in the other, I took a deep breath and stepped through the crevice, entering the cave.
I blinked, my eyes adjusting to the darkness.
The throat of the cave was narrow, but it expanded the deeper I went, until I stood inside a nook the size of my bedroom. A single candle burned, illuminating the earthen vault. Food and furs were piled along the walls. There was more light ahead, and muffled noises.
The passage tapered once more before swelling into a wide, lofty cavity, as spacious as a cottage. A small fire blazed in a pit. Glossy fingers of rock protruded from the floor and hung like amberous icicles from the ceiling high above.
Two dead men lay on the floor by my feet. Three women crouched at the rear of the cave, their wrists bound in front of them. Nomads, from the look of them.
A burly Westlander loomed over them with an axe. He prodded them with his boot, poked them with his weapon. Two of the women cried softly, huddling together. The third cursed and growled. The invader slapped her.
I inched closer. One of the women noticed me, her eyes widening. Giving me away.
The invader whirled, his axe following, threatening to split me open. I dropped to my knees. As the blade whisked above my head, I stabbed him in the gut with the spear.
Bellowing, he swung his weapon wildly. I ducked beneath the sloppy arc of his axe, retreating to the other side of the cave. He gripped the spear, wrenching it from his belly with a wet slurp and tossing it aside.
Bollocks. Why were so many Westlanders so hard to kill? I squeezed my knife, wishing it was a sword.
The invader lumbered toward me, and I watched him, assessing. He was strong, but slow. I moved without thinking, dodging his axe, diving at his legs. With a swift slice, I cut into the tendons behind the crook of his knee. He screeched like a dying bird, hobbling on one leg, but as I tried to scramble away, I slipped in the invader’s blood.
His axe flew at me. I cringed, waiting for it to crack my skull.
The spear burst through the invader’s neck. Blood streamed down his chest, the axe falling from his hand as his eyes rolled back in his head and he crashed to the floor. The woman he’d slapped stood behind him, her bound hands wrapped around the spear. She kicked the invader in the head, smiling when he didn’t move.
“Dead,” she said in a lilting accent. She had bronze skin and oval-shaped eyes, like the Sanddune natives sold as thralls in the Auk Isles. The woman spit on the fallen invader before introducing herself. “I am Zabelle.”
“Lira.” I took her hand when she offered it.
Zabelle repeated my name, an odd look crossing her face. I motioned to her bound wrists, and she held her hands out so I could saw through the rope. Once she was free, I gave her my knife so she could cut the bindings from the other two women. Weeping, they rushed to the men’s corpses in the corner.
“You fight like a man,” Zabelle said to me. “A tiny man, with tiny testikley.” She cupped her hands in front of her groin in case I had any doubts about what she meant.
“You dress like one.” I nodded at her outfit, trousers and a tunic cinched at the waist. “How did you come to be here?”
“This cave is a nomad sanctuary. The yeetozurris trapped us here. They invade the desert, seize our camps, kill and steal, but no clans help us. No one cares about nomads.” She jerked her head. “We must go. There are others, worse than that one.” She glared at the dead invader, touching a wound on her neck that looked like an animal bite. “They will return soon.”
I picked up the dead invader’s axe, following Zabelle and the other women out of the cave. We climbed to the top of the knoll.
There was nothing but moorlands and hills. And no Wraith. My stupid horse had run off, stranding me.
Zabelle stopped short, pulling me toward the ground. The four of us clung to the rocky base of a hill, hidden in the tall grass, as horses approached. When the Westlanders came into view, rage swelled within me. They rode two of my clan’s horses. Over the haunches of each horse was a body, tied up. Sons of Stone. One man was limp, but the other struggled—even from this distance, I recognized the gruff sound of Sloane’s voice as he cursed at the Westlanders. I couldn’t see the other man’s face, but based on his size, it could’ve been Torin.
The invaders leaped off the horses, hobbled them with rope, and dragged their captives into the cave. “Come,” Zabelle urged, yanking on my arm.
“Wait. They have my kinfolk.” It didn’t matter that they hated me. They were my people. I couldn’t abandon them to be slaughtered.
“You can’t save them. Not from that one.” I knew which invader she meant. He was nearly as big as the horses. “We all do what we must to survive. Come with us.”
“No.” I pried her fingers from my arm. She tried to grab me again, and I raised the axe. “I’m not leaving them.”
Her arm dropped to her side, the look in her eyes a mix of anger and approval. “Stay and die then,” she said coolly. “I will say a prayer for your foolish soul.”
Zabelle and the other two nomads hurried on without me.
From inside the cave came a seething howl.
The invaders had discovered the body of their dead comrade where their prisoners should have been. The horse-sized invader rushed outside, scouring the knolls. I ducked down so he couldn’t see me, thankful the nomads had already disappeared over the hill. The invader screamed and stomped and carried on before stalking back inside.
If I wanted to save Sloane, there was no choice but to follow.