This deleted scene features characters from the Wingborn series.
For more stories and info about the novels, please head here.
This deleted scene was taken out of what is now Chapter 12 of Wingborn, where Mhysra and Cumulo are flying over the Cloud Sea. In the book they spot a strange ship approaching Nimbys, which leads to meeting Captain Torven, who is something of a charmer, but originally they meet someone else first.
Hurricane – and not in a friendly way.
I removed this because a friend pointed out (quite rightly) that Cue was unlikely to risk Mhysra in such a way. Plus it didn’t really fit Hurricane either – and would have made things tricky between him and Cue going forward. So I removed it. But I still like the feral approach, which is why I’m sharing it now.
If you’d like to see a more canon version of Cue and Cane’s first meeting, Facing the Hurricane is a short story that deals with just that.
CUMULO TUCKED HIS wings in and dropped several feet, before catching them again – an airborne sigh. “You think too much,” he said, his voice a reassuring vibration against her.
“I was only asking,” she grumbled. “A fair question, after what you said.”
He clucked reproachfully. “I was joking. Since you started training you’ve lost all sense of humour. Not that you had much to begin with.”
She smiled into his feathers, loving the clean smell of him touched with a sweet hint of dust. “Did it ever occur to you that you’re just not funny?”
“Of course not. The fault has always been yours.”
“But even without a true appreciation for my genius, I’d rather have you than anyone. I can’t imagine a better flight partner. You’re my Wingborn. Even though I can’t live without you, I neither wish to, nor can imagine trying. I’m yours as you are mine. If I made disparaging remarks about the Choice it’s because I pity the arriving miryhls. They’ll never have what we do, nor comprehend what they’re missing. You are like flight to me.”
Stunned to hear such words from her proud and often irreverent Wingborn, Mhysra couldn’t speak. Instead she reached forward as far as she could and hugged him tightly. Tears stung her eyes, from the cold and the wind as well as emotion, and she buried her face in his feathers.
“Are you crying?” he rumbled. “You’d better not be crying. Your nose always runs when you cry and it ruins my feathers. I am not a handkerchief.”
Chuckling, she sat up and wiped her face. “I’m not crying.”
“Good. It would damage my reputation should anyone catch you being so unashamedly girlish. There is no room for maudlin sentiment in the Riders.”
“Yes, sir,” she chirped, saluting cheekily.
“Are you mocking me, student?” he growled, in an accurate impersonation of Sergeant Rees.
“Because if you were, student, I would have to take severe action.”
“I would never dare mock you, most gracious and brilliant sir.”
“Good. I should hate, for example, to have to do this!” His wings tucked in tight, clamping her legs against his sides as they plummeted into freefall. Had Mhysra been a little less familiar with her miryhl it would have been terrifying, especially when the world turned on its side and the clouds rushed up to meet them, but after years of flying together she knew him almost as well as she knew herself. Which was why when she felt his wings twitch, she gripped his neck feathers, tightened her thighs and held on.
She still screamed, though, when Cumulo began to spin. Her heart thundered, her lungs ceased to work and her eyes closed. The wind roared in her ears, slapping her face and pulling at her hair as it raced over them, and they tumbled down and around. With a final roll, Cumulo righted himself, swooping across the clouds and scattered rocks below.
Mhysra laughed breathlessly, her face buried against his neck. “You’ll kill me one day.”
He didn’t answer. A new tension tightened through him and he powered upwards with heavy beats of his wings, lifting them higher with each down draft.
Surprised, Mhysra opened her eyes and sat up. “Cumulo, what -?”
“Keep down,” he snapped, dropping sharply and rising again, jolting her firmly against him.
Winded and confused, she obeyed, while scanning the skies for the threat. She’d never known him act in such a way. It was completely out of character, not least because this way of flying usually took too much effort for his more indolent nature. She remembered the kaz-naghkt attack that had occurred just a few months ago, and her heart skipped a beat.
Then she saw it. A miryhl, unencumbered by rider or harness, heading towards Nimbys with easy flaps of its enormous wings. And Cumulo was headed straight for it.
“Stop!” she shouted. “Are you mad? What do you think you’re doing? Cumulo!”
Ignoring her protests, Cumulo shrieked a challenge at the unfamiliar bird, labouring to get higher and achieve superiority in the air.
“Cumulo, leave be!”
“You’re mine,” he growled. “I won’t let him take you.”
“He doesn’t want me,” she snapped, while the newcomer swooped around, circling to gain height. He showed no signs of attacking, but was clearly prepared to defend. Not that Mhysra felt comforted, especially when she took in his size. He was easily as big as Cumulo, and more. Older too, with fully developed flight and fight muscles.
Seeing this strange male in all his unrestrained glory reminded her how young her Wingborn was. By rights he shouldn’t have a Rider yet, and it was only through virtue of their bond that he had developed as quickly as he had. He wasn’t even fully grown.
“Cumulo,” she begged as the two males circled warily, both trying to gain height. “Cumulo, please.”
Ignoring her, Cumulo allowed the other male to go higher, then swept underneath, turning on his back, talons extended in a swipe.
“No!” Almost unseated by the unprecedented move, for the first time ever Mhysra hauled on the reins. Unlike a horsat or pyrefly bridle, the miryhl head collar had no bit and was designed for directional purposes rather than control. But if Cumulo’s attack had been unanticipated, Mhysra’s reaction was even more so. Jerked unexpectedly to the left, he missed his swipe and was forced to roll over or drop completely.
Enraged, he snapped at her over one shoulder, but when he tried to lunge at the other miryhl again, she pulled to the right.
“Stop it, Cumulo!” she yelled, desperate to be heard over his defiant screams. “Stop!”
Shaking his head, he swooped around for another go, but the male was gone. Mhysra spotted him first, flying like the wind away from Nimbys, and she was grateful for it. Such a large male would have been perfectly within his rights to fight back. It was rare for bonded miryhls to fight, taking their rank from their Rider or their own natural dominance, but an unbonded miryhl was still subject to the instincts of its wild cousins, and miryhls were a territorial breed. With the added restrictions of his harness and the weight of a Rider, Cumulo would have been at a disadvantage and could have gotten both himself and Mhysra killed.
“Maegla be thanked for smart birds,” she muttered, praying the other miryhl would keep flying at such a pace, since Cumulo was determined to follow. She considered trying to stop him again, but when she tightened her hands on the reins, he lowered his head and growled, the sound vibrating through his body.
“As you wish,” she grumbled, relaxing her fingers. He was tiring already, since the pace was not what he was used to, and he wouldn’t be able to keep it up much longer. Endurance was something that came with age, experience and regular exercise. At first they closed the distance to the stranger, but gradually as they flew on, Cumulo began to slow and drop back. Growling with frustration, he took long glides between each sequence of wing beats, while the other male continued to power away.
“That’s enough, Cue,” she advised in a low murmur. “You’ve driven him off.”
He shook his head, but was slower than ever and beginning to pant. Mhysra was concerned they wouldn’t make it back to Nimbys, and would have to find a place to rest. It was just typical that the stranger had been flying out over the Cloud Sea, where there wasn’t any civilisation for thousands of miles.
Cumulo sagged beneath her, the fight going out of him, and she gripped him in panic. “Cue?” she called frantically. “Are you well?”
Huffing, he tilted his wings and swooped in a wide circle until they were facing Nimbys again, far in the distance. He barely flapped as they drifted back home, though his heart still raced beneath her. “Sorry,” he muttered, clearly reluctant. “Thought he was feral.”
Mhysra bit her lip to keep from pointing out that of the two miryhls, he was the one who had behaved wildly, harnessed or not. “There are no feral miryhls now, Cue. You know that.”
“He took me by surprise. Couldn’t risk it.”
She growled. “You’re lucky he left. He was bigger than you, you idiot. You could have killed us both!”
Cumulo said nothing, just gave a surly flap of his wings and landed on a small outcrop, barely visible over the Cloud Sea. “But I didn’t.”
Knowing better than to argue, she kicked free of her stirrups and slid from her saddle, making her displeasure known by turning her back to him.
“Don’t be angry with me,” he crooned, lifting her braid and running it through his beak. “Chickling, don’t be cross.” He rubbed his head against her back and, when she started shivering, hooked his beak over her shoulder and drew her under his wing. “Sorry.”
Sighing, she snuggled against him, grateful that his feathers kept out the worst of the chill. The winds were strong down here, tricky and cunning, finding their way through clothes and feathers alike.
“Mhysra,” he purred, sticking his head under his wing. “Don’t be angry with me.”
“I should be furious,” she grumbled, and he huffed with amusement, sensing he’d won. She shoved him away. “Don’t do it again, Cue. I won’t have you fighting. Feral or no. Never provoke another miryhl like that. Especially not when Riders are involved. It’s too dangerous, to the Riders and yourselves. We’ll have more than enough fighting to do without you making things worse.”
“But you’re mine,” he rumbled. “I will fight to keep you.”
“You won’t,” she snapped. “You know I’d never leave you. I’m not some fickle mate, flitting off with a male who has glossier feathers. I’m your Wingborn. We’re tied together for life. No one can break that.”
Still rumbling, he preened her hair and repeated, “You’re mine.”
Defeated, Mhysra resigned herself to his possessiveness. He was still young, and barely approaching maturity. She hoped he grew some wisdom soon, or they would both be in trouble when they reached Aquila. If they reached Aquila. She still didn’t know what her parents would say when they found out what she’d been doing with her time in the city.
Pushing free of both her thoughts and Cumulo, she tucked her freshly preened hair behind her ears and looked around, wondering how far from Nimbys they were, and whether Cumulo was fit enough to take them back. She didn’t even want to consider what they would do should he prove unable.
Thanks for reading!