The Burning:
Deleted Scene 1

The Burning

London: March, 1822

Stephan Sincai steadied himself with that memory of control as he swayed in the dark alleyway off Cockspur Street behind the Admiralty. The blackness that whirled around him pooled at his feet and then evaporated. A moment before he had been in the bloodied rooms of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Now the bitter wind ran its fingers through his hair. There. That was better. He swallowed and then took a lungful of air. What had happened wasn't important, except as it brought him closer to his goal. The power he had been trained for hadn't even been necessary. Somewhere inside he knew that the fact that he had to steel himself to do what had to be done was an indication of weakness. He would not allow emotion. He couldn't.

The alley around him shivered into focus. The stones were slick with rain and the greasy residue of a city. Sounds of revelry, carriages clattering in the street, whispered words of love, all cascaded over him. He smelled the odor of rotting vegetables from a refuse bin behind a tavern, wet dog and the smoke of cigarillos, cheap perfume wafting down from the third story windows of what must be a brothel. They would have good trade this close to Whitehall Lane's government offices.

Too close. When they found the horror that had been the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Treasury building, this whole area would be crawling with watchmen and Bow Street Runners. And image of the elegant office spattered with blood slipped behind his eyes. Control. Remember why you do this. Forcibly he replaced the bloody room with an image of Mirso Monastery. Mirso. Refuge. Peace. Salvation.

He thought a gentle call to the partner in his blood. Companion! The life and power in his veins cycled up the scale until his body hummed with it. A vermillion film washed the dingy alley around him. Then it darkened with the whirling blackness he spun about himself. Pain engulfed him. The alley disappeared. If anyone had been watching they would have seen him disappear too. Time to put more distance between him and the result of his atonement.

Even as he thought that, memories more dangerous than his recent crime seeped into his brain.

Beatrix. The woman he had loved for what? Seven hundred years? But that love became all entwined with the guilt. His love for Beatrix had been a trap. He loved her more than Asharti, when he meant to treat them both the same. Asharti went mad because he had failed her. He knew she was dangerous, but he did nothing. Beatrix went away with Asharti because she felt betrayed that Stephan tried to love Asharti too. He had never stopped loving Beatrix. When she reappeared in his life, he allowed hope to surge-a fool, regardless of his age. Hope had been revived and dashed in a single evening by a man named John Staunton, Earl of Langley two years ago in Amsterdam….