The final bit of the Deleted first scene of Savage.
Anleeh stepped through the archway into the Zinah quarters. It felt wrong to be so completely clothed in these rooms and so Anleeh stripped down to his leather knee length leggings, adding his clothing to a pile near the door.
He made his way into the great room and then stopped to watch Sesah and Moregon sparring.
In a way it was like watching night and day fight. Moregon was strong and sturdy, thickly muscled, hard to hurt and even harder to fell. Sesah was light and small, with a deadly grace and precision.
Sesah raised his leg and kicked out, catching Moregon in the stomach. Moregon grunted, doubling slightly, but grabbed Sesah’s leg, wrapping his big hands around the other man’s ankle and swinging him, tossing him half way across the large room. Sesah hit the stone floor hands first and rolled, rising once more and raising his hands, positioned to fight again.
Rohaj, a man of few words, grunted. Clearly that was the signal to stop, as both Sesah and Moregon relaxed. Rohaj and Tamlohn stood shoulder to shoulder against the wall of punishment devices. Floggers, canes and paddles outlined their shadows. The dim light of the chamber glinted off Tamlohn’s red hair but left Rohaj as a great pool of shadow. The dark skinned man moved forward as the others did and Anleeh was stuck by their differences.
Rohaj, with his dark skin, shaven head, and ruby and gold piercings was like a dark night, while Moregon, pale with bright gold hair, was a bright afternoon.
Sesah was pale like Moregon but had long dark hair, folded into a knot at the top of his head, quiet, watchful black eyes and an elegant fighting style, unlike anything Anleeh had seen before coming to serve in the Temple.
Without another word they settled onto the floor, seated or lounging on the cushions and bedding which were scattered around the chamber. Tamlohn picked up a bottle from the floor beside him and uncorked it. One by one they passed it around, each taking a deep pull of the heavy distilled liquor. Stretching out one arm to take the bottle from Moregon, Anleeh took a sip, pressing his hand to his belly as the liquid hit his stomach like acid.
“That crap gets worse every time.”
“Drink more, it hurts less.” Sesah looked pained as he said it.
They went a few more rounds with the bottle, until Tamlohn raised his hand to stop the passing. Anleeh cocked his head and considered the former Prima Zinah. The enslavement to the Priestess had been hard, but none of them had been unhappy, or so he had thought.
Since his marriage, there was a lighter set to Tamlohn’s shoulders. Though the responsibilities of Kingship should have weighed him down, he seemed to be reveling in his new-found responsibility. Or perhaps it was just that he reveled in the freedom of marriage to the woman he loved.
Squashing his jealousy, Anleeh waited for Tamlohn to speak.
“It has been hard day.”
They all nodded their agreement.
“We are different now. Many things have changed, in a short amount of time. But what cannot, and must not, change, is our brotherhood.”
“Our strength is in our unity,” Sesah added.
Slowly each man nodded, Anleeh the last to do so.
“I am glad to see we are in accord, but that is not why we’re here tonight. Tonight we are here to support one of our own.”
Tamlohn looked at Anleeh, who stiffened.
“There is no need for us to have met on my account.”
“There is. Do you forget that we too know who you were before and what it means that we ask you to return?”
Anleeh looked away, dipping his head.
“Your rage is something I will never forget,” Rohaj’s voice rumbled from the dark.
“That rage is all I was.”
“No, you were always more,” Tamlohn protested.
Anleeh shook his head. “You don’t know what I was.”
“I, we, know who you are now. And who you are is stronger than who you were.”
Unable to sit, Anleeh rose to prowl through the room, wishing there were windows he could look out of. He finally stopped at the horizontal thick wood post of the presentation bar. Without conscious thought he moved to the center of the bar, his place by rank.
He placed his hands on the bar, bracing himself so that he would not bend over the bar as a matter of habit.
“If you are right, then this will be a test of who I am now. But some of what I was must return, if I am to do what is asked of me.”
“We know this, she knows this.”
“If I become what I was, I will not return.”
“You must return,” Sesah protested. “You are the Chief Justice.”
“If I become what I was, none of that will matter. I will use all I have learned among you and I will become more terrible than I ever was.”
“That will not happen.”
“We will not let that happen.”
“None of you can go in my place, and nothing save that can assure I will remain the man you know.”
“Cryessa will keep watch for you, keep watch over you.”
“And if the Queen finds you to be in trouble, we will come for you.”
Anleeh turned, surveying the men, his former brothers in slavery, now his brothers by choice. One by one he looked at them, reading resolve and promise in each face.
“Then I will trust that if I return to what I was, you will come for me, and end me.”