With every great novel (or movie for that matter), not all content finds its way into the final draft. Here are a few deleted sections for Seed of Scorn. Enjoy!
(Ahvixx and Sahma)
“I am not certain if I can still ride,” he protested, looking around at the large steeds.
“Well, if you do not try, how will you know?”
Ahvixx sighed at the obvious question. “Mayhaps we could take a cart instead. That would better suit me.”
“No,” Sahma objected, wrapping her arms around his waist.
“What no?” he said, not turning from her stare.
“Olam says that you are to travel to Bandari soon.”
“Yes, but what does that have to do with this?”
“Everything. You cannot command a cart on such a journey. The fastest way will be around the Raphar and partially through the wood. You will need to ride.”
He sighed, resting his brow on the top of her head.
“So, we will ride?” she asked with the smile resonating clearly in her tone.
“Yes, we will ride.”
She squeezed his waist tighter and squealed. After placing a quick peck on his lips, she skipped over to retrieve the horse she had prepared for them.
His head snapped up, raising his hand to his mouth. Thoughts of his conversation with his sister repeated in his mind. However, he dismissed it when Sahma approached with the widest, most innocent smile, guiding a huge horse.
“I am to ride that?”
She giggled as usual, taking his hand. “No, we are to ride him, together.
“Yes, we. If you are uncertain on how to control him, I will be there close behind.”
“You will ride behind me?”
“If you prefer, I can ride in front, and you hold on to me. Would that be more pleasing to you?”
Ahvixx pondered the question for only a moment before shaking his head. “No—no, I will take the front position.”
“Good. Then I will hold tight to your waist and near the reins. It will be fun, I promise.”
She released him then, and started loading their supplies. When she held up a pair of trousers, his brow knitted.
“These are for you,” she said.
Before he could protest, she lifted up the bottom of his robe, exposing his bare legs. He gasped, lowering his robe and moving away.
She extended the trousers again, laughing.
“I have been told that many priests wear little or nothing beneath their robes. If this is true, will you not need these?”
His face reddened. He was indeed bare beneath, yet never knew she realized that fact. Instantly, he recalled the many times they laid beneath the sky together or just leaned in each other’s arms. His embarrassment was apparent when her laugh became louder. He accepted the trousers and pulled them on after she turned.
“Where would you learn of what priests do or do not wear beneath their robes?” Ahvixx asked, resting his hands on his slender waist.
“You are not the only one to which I speak,” she said. “But you are the one that I enjoy speaking with the most.” She winked, pulling him down to kiss his cheek.
Before he could think to respond, she tugged him over to the side of the horse. After he struggled to mount the massive steed, she scrambled up behind him, noticing Saifu’s approach.
“We were just about to leave, Father,” Sahma said, with a broad smile. Ahvixx, on the other hand, felt nervous under the scrutinizing eye of her father.
“Then it is good that I have caught you before you took leave. I will not have you miss your studies. They will commence after noon meal. Do not be late,” he said sternly. “And no more sleeping beneath the skies. If you grow weary, return to your chamber and your bed.” Ahvixx noticed his glare and he nodded in assent.
“We will not, I promise, Father,” she said, laying her head on Ahvixx’s back while kicking her heels into their mount. He lurched forward and then clumsily managed to straighten. “Come Odahg,” she called out to the jaenitu before snuggling in close behind Ahvixx, offering a passing wave to her father.
Saifu continued his stare, observing their closeness and how comfortable Sahma appeared to be with him. Perhaps too comfortable. It worried him, to say the least. Sahma was growing up, and such a display was not proper for a young maid. He let out a frustrated sigh, turning back toward the citadel. He needed to find Olam. It was by his word that Saifu and Yeshe had allowed the two to continue their friendship.
His steps quickened the more that departing image assaulted his mind. He found Olam in his usual location, examining a pile of scrolls. Without bothering to knock, he entered, taking a seat opposite him.
“You look troubled, my friend,” Olam said, pushing the parchment aside. “Is there something wrong?”
“That is a question reserved for you. Tell me of Ahvixx.”
“Yes, Ahvixx,” Saifu said, standing and pointing toward the corridor. “The peculiar young man who has ridden away with my daughter attached too closely to his back.”
Olam chuckled, motioning for him to sit. “You worry they have grown too close?”
“Have you seen them lately? Always they are together. If Ahvixx is not with you, he is with Sahma. Surely, a man of his age and vocation would know better than engaging in such a display. It is not proper to show such attention to a young maid.”
“Saifu, if you reasoned through your words, you would realize that it is Sahma who is persistently approaching Ahvixx.” Before he could respond, Olam raised a hand to him. “That is not to belittle your concerns, of course. But as you know, Ahvixx is a helding and yet studies to become a priest. That is the main reason that I felt it was safe for them to spend time with each other.”
“Even for a priest, spending such time with a young girl would not be proper. He was lying with her in the gardens, Olam. Lying with my daughter.”
“I know. I spoke with him at length about the incident. Again, it was Sahma who initiated the contact. They were searching the skies as they often do. No, he should not have allowed such intimacy, but it was innocent. Had it not been so, I am certain that the gardens would not have been their location of choice.”
“Ahvixx is three years her senior; a man grown. Sahma is but five and ten now. She might be naïve, but certainly he knows better than what he does.”
“I would not speak so positively,” Olam said. “In many ways, she is more mature than him. Ahvixx has been sheltered for much of his life. You recall the way that he was when he came to us and for long after. It was Sahma who inveigled him from his protective shell. She has been good for him and him for her, I believe. She is full of life and has a wonderful spirit. I have noticed Ahvixx beginning to open up more and interact with those around him. You should be proud of your daughter. She has always been beautiful, inside and out.”
Saifu nodded. “Still, their familiarity is troubling. Soon, we will seek a promise for Sahma. We cannot have her seen lying with men in the gardens. If it were Kassa, would you speak the same?”
Olam chuckled again at the mention of his daughter. “It will be long before Kassa is ready for such a commitment. However, I understand well your point. Truly, I cannot answer your query. In the case of Ahvixx, I would have no concern other than him giving into the whims of my daughter. Would you have him refuse Sahma’s affections and rebuke her offered friendship?”
“No. That is not what I desire at all. Sahma is pleased with their friendship. She speaks of Ahvixx constantly and with the greatest affection. I know that she loves him and has been quite lonely. She misses the closeness that we shared in Bandari. Ahvixx allows her to encompass him with all she has. I worry that her lack of reticence will soon cause him to consider her as more than a mere friend. She is maturing, Olam, and at an alarming rate. Ahvixx will realize soon enough that Sahma is a young woman and no longer a child.”
“Agreed. I will remind my young protégé once more of the proper etiquette. In the beginning, he came to me with concerns regarding Sahma’s affections. Ahvixx was not used to anyone being so close and offering that closeness freely. Even when he resisted, Sahma continued. Now, he accepts that same closeness as part of being her friend. It is who she has always been, Saifu. You just see it differently now due to her age and the very handsome young man with whom she spends her time.”
Olam smiled slyly, and Saifu could not hold back his own. “Yes. Hibret has wed Wosen, while Sahma, in less than a year’s time, will be the proper age for a bond as well. She is our last, and I would see her remain that little girl a while longer.”
“Are you to tell me where we are headed?” Ahvixx asked, gaining some control over the horse.
“Through the west gate and then south. It will not be far.”
He followed her vague instructions, shaking his head nearly all the way. When he neared a copse of trees, he pulled back on the reins.
“Is this the grove?”
“It is. Just beyond the trees and you will see.”
He continued, though he questioned why he so easily did. Many aspects were the same with their friendship. She appeared to take the lead and he willingly followed.
Numerous times, he asked himself why that was. Why he so readily followed wherever she might lead. In the end, the answer was the same. Sahma challenged him to experience life instead of watching others live theirs around him. She would not allow him the role of spectator, which he accepted for most of his years. She lived life and did not shy away from new experiences, and he was pleased to be sharing them with her.
When they entered the copse of trees, he was awestruck. Beautiful flowering bushes of all colors and scents surrounded them.
After scanning the area, he focused on one. It was the butterfly bush that he had mentioned to her before. She barely waited for the horse to stop before she slipped from the side.
He watched as she skipped over to that very bush, leaning in to smell the richly scented blossoms. When she turned to regard him, her smile took in her entire face.
“It still appeared more like a sword,” she said with hands on her hips. “But these smell better.”
Ahvixx laughed, and then nearly fell as he dismounted the horse. They both shared in the mirth and explored the beautiful grove. It pleased him that she not only remembered what he spoke, but found the very bush that he mentioned.
Ahvixx identified the flora he knew that surrounded them. It took some time before they walked the complete flowered circle and returned near the horse.
She searched through the bags as he sat, closing his eyes, and leaning against a large tree. She continued rummaging until Odahg released a low howl. Sahma smiled, holding out the meat that she had brought for him.
After Odahg disappeared behind the bushes, she plopped down between Ahvixx’s legs, and leaned comfortably against his chest. At that moment, he was thankful for the trousers, as his legs were forced wide to accommodate her.
He shook his head, reminding himself that she would find no fault with her actions. He thought to tell her why some might find such a position inappropriate. However, when she nuzzled into him and pulled his arm around her, he felt a comfort in that. He kissed the top of her head, wrapping his arms around her.
Sahma let out a contented sigh. “Here we can be alone.”
“Alone? From what do we hide?”
“Yes. Alone, you and me. This is a place just for us. Your flowers are here, and no one will bother us. Do you not enjoy it?”
“Of course, I do, it is beautiful, and the scent in the air is fitting for our purpose,” he said, not certain of what she might think their purpose actually was.
She only nodded, shifting sideways and laying her head on his chest. They sat for many long moments before she looked up at him curiously.
“Do you find me pretty, Ahvixx?”
That question knocked him back a bit. Never had she been concerned about such things. He looked at her, trying to keep the shock from his face.
“I—I find you very pretty. Why do you ask?”
“Do not all girls wish to be thought of as pretty?”
“I guess they would, I suppose. For that, you have no worries,” he said, sliding a pecan-colored ringlet from her face. “Indeed, you are more than pretty, you are quite beautiful.” He was noticing the depth of that beauty for the first time.
Sahma smiled, reaching up to kiss him.
His visage was perplexed. “Why do you kiss me?”
“I like the feel of it, of you. Is it not pleasant?”
“It is more than pleasant, but inappropriate. If you wish to kiss my cheek or brow, I will allow it. But a kiss on the lips has a different meaning.”
Her expression turned more serious than he had ever witnessed. She looked into his eyes, gently cupping the back of his neck. He did not resist as she drew him down to her and kissed him again. He allowed the touch, even drawing her nearer, until his body responded in a surprising way.
His eyes widened as he withdrew, sliding from beneath her. Panic surged through every part of him as he walked awkwardly to the bushes. He stood, pleading with his body for what seemed an eternity before he felt the throb lessen. He picked one of the purple blossoms, praying that his body would calm. When Sahma approached, he handed the flower to her.
“A—a beautiful blossom for my most beautiful young friend,” he said. She smiled and returned to the tree, taking food from her satchel.
Ahvixx watched her lay out the provisions and then gazed down. He was relieved that the earlier rise was gone. No, not so young anymore, he thought, taking a seat next to her.
As they ate their meal and talked, he considered the kiss and the way she offered it. Innocent or no, such affections could not continue. Sahma was getting older, and her body showed it more every passing day. Even with the trousers and large tunics she sometimes wore, the growth of her breasts and shape of her hips was obvious. No longer could he treat her as a child. She was becoming a woman. A beautiful woman, who no matter how much he fought against it, truly attracted him.
He broke the silence as they loaded the supplies. “May I ask you a serious question?”
“Always you may ask me anything.”
“Why do you kiss me so?”
Without so much as a giggle, Sahma said, “because you are my dearest friend and I love you. I have seen many others do the same. Does such a kiss not express love?”
“I love you as well; this I have told you many times. Nevertheless, such a kiss can mean various things. Your father would not see it as friendship the way that we do. Furthermore, Nohek Asmaa would not think kindly of one of his heldings kissing beautiful girls no matter how innocent it may appear.”
“Do you not desire my touch?” she asked.
“That is not what I mean. Always your touch is pleasing to me. Mayhaps, more pleasing than it should be. I am to join the Nohek, and must behave as such. You have truly been the only person who I have wanted to share such a closeness. However, I do not wish to anger or offend your parents. You are my dearest friend, and I do not wish for this to change.”
Sahma smiled and pulled him down to her. Instead of kissing his lips, she found his cheek instead. Ahvixx nodded and mounted the horse, reaching down to pull her up. “Shall we return for your studies?”
“Either that or my father will come for the both of us,” she responded with her usual giggle.
Meeting in Spero
The men pushed up from the table when the knock came to the door. They followed behind Liam as Hosdaq made his way to his solar. His mind was on the many events in the lands. It appeared that all was happening at once. He only shook his head, running his fingers through his silvery-white hair. It was thought with the end of Draizeyn’s rule that the lands would again be free. He remembered his days long ago as a Chosen in Nazil. He was there for the destruction of Hyorin as well. That night was as yesterday to him. The night the great human city burned, and he fled with Esme. How things had changed, and yet stayed much the same.
He had spent nearly a score of years in Bandari though it seemed like but a few. Most of the Nazilians appeared to have remained the same. Many felt themselves above the humans. The thought perplexed him. He ran his hands over his face, approaching the solar door. He did his best to push the thoughts from his mind, for a little while at least. When he opened the door, Osmara turned, struggling to rise as he hurried to assist.
“Where is Gali?” he asked.
“She grew tired, and Liam showed her to their chamber. I had thoughts on the same, but I wanted to await your return.”
“Did Gali tell you all that has happened?”
“She did. Do you believe the danger will find Spero as well?”
He shrugged, drawing her closer. “I pray not. Yet, it is doubtful that Spero will be untouched by such hate. Here, the temple stands, and many come to worship the Four. There is no edict stating it cannot be so. However, that is what this Molag is preaching to anyone who will listen. He tries to convince the populace that Pentanimir is their enemy. Some will listen, too many already have.”
“What can we do?”
“We continue to do what the Guardians have spoken. This is all that is truly within our power. When the Protectors arrive, we will take with them to the streets as we have done. The people here know that they are no threat. We can only hope what those of Spero truly know in their heart outweighs the treachery that Molag and those who follow him will surely utter.”
He paused, pushing the door open to their chamber. “Take rest now,” he said, lowering her gently to the bed. “Malkia is making rounds with Amare, and I need to speak with him upon his return.”
“Truly, she enjoys the duty. Mayhaps you will have your first female guard.”
“If anyone could accomplish such a feat, it would be Malkia. She has grown since our leave of the village. I miss Bandari, but would not change what we now have for all the riches in these lands.”
“Nor would I,” she said, pulling him down to her. He understood her cue, and was more than pleased to accommodate. He kissed her tenderly, and then began to disrobe.
A Plan for Spero
“Have you ever seen three women more pleased?” Pentanimir asked, looking down into the lavish gardens.
“They are not alone in their joy, my friend. I am overwhelmed when considering such blessings.”
“As am I, Hosdaq. Although Ayrmeis is not of my seed, he is no less my son. Brahanu grows anxious to have another as well.”
“Osmara feels the same. Amwryn is her first and already she wants many more.”
“Did the Guardians not mention multiple sons?” Pentanimir said.
“Indeed. However, I am not as young as you, Zaxson. Some things take great effort.”
“Is that not a comforting thought?”
Hosdaq nodded, joining in Pentanimir’s mirth as Julaybeim entered the solar. “Lord Ravenot. We thought you would never leave the babes in the garden.”
“Pardons for keeping you waiting. Dawntaylesha would not quiet. My arms are more soothing than those of my wife, it seems.”
“Gali has told of your mothering,” Hosdaq chuckled. “Your affection for your daughter is understandable. It was much the same when Wosen was born.”
“Agreed,” Pentanimir said. “I tend Tardison whenever my duties allow. Dawntaylesha is your first, and will always be special.”
Julaybeim flushed. “You speak true, but our meeting is of great importance. Forgive my tardiness, Zaxson, Caretaker,” he said with a respectful bow. “Let us turn our thoughts to the business of the lands. Will Kuhani not join us?”
“That we should,” Hosdaq said. “Kuhani is researching the scrolls and meditating. His insight is needed to guide us in a time as this. After our meetings here are concluded, I will pay a visit to Kaleo as well.”
“What of Yarah and Noraa?” Julaybeim asked.
“On our return to Nazil, Brahanu and I will visit Noraa. Danimore is traveling to Yarah upon my return. It appears that Molag has found some intriguing new associates.”
“Even with the proposed pledge of Jarin Swayne?” Hosdaq asked.
“Unfortunately so. The pledge has not been officially announced. Urdan feels as we: that the announcement of the bond will bring more Nazilians to his side. However, that number is not as great as we hoped.”
“What drives them, Zaxson?” Julaybeim asked. “Surely, the people recognize the good that you have done. Yarah is more prosperous now than ever before. Even the trade caravans have returned.”
“The people care little for this. Certainly, if they were not making a profit, they would have a complaint here as well. They allow their prejudices to blind them.”
Hosdaq nodded. “Your message read with urgency, Pentanimir. What have you not spoken?”
“Indeed. There is much and more to speak of the wood. However, I would have the priests complete their task before speaking of it,” he said as a shiver moved through him with the memory. “I fear that there are more conspiring with Molag that we had not considered. Many Nazilian guards are among them. He might use their allegiance against us if ever he plans to attack the white city.”
“That is madness,” Julaybeim said. “The guards sworn to protect the city would turn against you and those serving alongside?”
“Is that not what we did when liberating Nazil?” Pentanimir asked. “There are many guarding the gates and the citadel who would ally against us. One guard in particular was seen meeting with a known supporter of Molag. He recently attempted to acquire a position within the citadel.”
Hosdaq’s brow furrowed, considering the implications of such an alliance. “Do you think that he attempted to gain a position strategically to aid Molag?”
“This is our belief. We had thoughts of allowing such a placement if he can meet the public challenge. It may serve to have Molag believe he has the advantage.”
“But this could be dangerous,” Julaybeim said. “This guard could not be watched every moment, even if you appoint one loyal as his partner. Could you take such a risk?”
Pentanimir shrugged. “It was a thought. There have been no definite decisions made. With the number of children now present in the citadel, it is difficult to find proper coverage from those we trust. There are guards serving that were loyal to Draizeyn. They merely tolerate the humans and former slaves. If the citadel was attacked, it is uncertain where their loyalties would lie.”
“Is it possible to train sentries from Noraa and Kaleo?” Hosdaq asked. “In Spero, we have numerous humans who have become a part of my Chosen Guard. Amare and the former sentries of Kaleo have proven themselves formidable. I trust in them fully, and welcome more to join the guard. Surely, there are more who would appreciate such an opportunity.”
“Mayhaps,” Pentanimir said. “I will ask Yonas and Vot when I visit. If there are but ten, that would shore up the protection around the babes and the main level. Sir Yego is the finest warrior in the lands. Under his tutelage, the sentries will flourish.”
“Speaking of, Zaxson, how fares Wosen? It has been long since word has reached Spero.” Hosdaq said.
“You would be most proud of your son. Wosen exceeds all expectations. If not on duty, he trains. He has grown thick with muscle and deadly with his twin blades.”
“He fights with two swords?”
“Indeed, like my sister. It was her style that he desired to learn. After becoming nearly proficient, he studies many weapons. Symeon says that he is the finest student he has ever trained. He pushes him and forces Wosen to strive for perfection.”
“Perfection? Will such an impossible goal not frustrate him?” Julaybeim asked.
“No. The opposite is true. Symeon knows reaching a level of perfection is impossible. However, the pursuit of such a goal is inspiring. He teaches not to settle for what you have become, yet reach for what you desire to be, and after that is achieved, reach higher.”
“It amazes me that Wosen has accomplished so much in so little time,” Hosdaq said. “It pleases me, Pentanimir, that you have allowed his training. Always it was his wish to be a Chosen of Nazil.”
“Agreed. But not so much anymore,” Pentanimir hinted with a sly smile. Hosdaq’s visage was bemused, glancing at Julaybeim and then back to the Zaxson.
“He no longer desires a position as Chosen?”
“I doubt that Wosen would wish anything else. However, he has asked to join you here in Spero upon the completion of his duties.”
Hosdaq nearly gasped. “He would return to us? You would allow the transfer?”
“Of course.” Pentanimir chuckled. “Wosen needs to remain for merely eight seasons before he can be reassigned. He will learn much and be a great asset to Spero.”
“We would welcome such a placement. To have my son at my side is a pleasing thought. I wanted him to come after Nazil’s liberation, but I knew that his desire was the Chosen of Nazil.”
“Of this, we were all aware,” Pentanimir smiled. “It was my thought to have Amare come and train with Symeon as well. Mayhaps when Wosen accepts his assignment for Spero, Amare could spend a season or more in practice with my First Chosen. It would do well to have such training of all the First. I will pose the same to Vot and Huname.”
“Would the sentries of Cazaal also take part in such training?” Julaybeim asked. “If there is movement in Yarah, soon such unrest could reach Cazaal as well. My father trained the sentries and there are none now who possess such advanced skill.”
Pentanimir nodded, considering the possibilities. “Truly, it would serve all those in the lands to prepare for the battles to come. Angelaris has already warned of such turmoil. I would have those in position able to defend the cities and villages. All those able to wield a sword will be trained. A bird will be sent to Cazaal, Kaleo, and Noraa to inform them of the arrangements. Sir Yego’s skill will be known throughout the lands, and those who come to the call of Molag will feel the finality of such training.”