My name is Duncan Lay and I'm the author of the Australian best-selling fantasy trilogies, The Dragon Sword Histories and the Empire Of Bones. I am now with Momentum Books (Pan Macmillan) and my new series, The Last Quarrel is out in eBook and print. Book 2, The Bloody Quarrel, is coming out in December 2015/Jan 2016 in eBook and will be in print later in 2016. Head over to my website, www.duncanlay.com for more!
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
DVD EXTRAS V
of my original series know that, often, there are scenes and/or characters that
are cut out of early drafts. Sometimes these are removed because they are not
working, sometimes because their sub-plot is slowing down the action and sometimes
because I need to get back under my 180,000 word limit!
when you buy a DVD, you get to see extra scenes that were left on the cutting
you get the DVD extras from Bridge Of Swords. These scenes may give you some
extra insight into characters, or you may well judge that it was a good thing I
cut them out!
HUW DISCOVERS HECTOR’S PLAN
`You are a lucky dog,’ William said.
`Are you talking to me, or to one of the pups?’ Huw
asked with a smile.
`You of course! The whole court watches Rhiannon dance
and lusts after those legs but you are the one who has been gently prying those
open these past few days …’
`You have a filthy mind,’ Huw told him. `I most
certainly have not been doing anything with Rhiannon - we are more friends than
anything, although I admit I would like it to be more ...’
`And yet I doubt her father would be impressed that
you are even talking to her!’ William interrupted.
Huw shrugged. The truth of that was indisputable. At
another time he would have been happy to chat with William but his guilt and
worry about delaying his departure to the north had been growing by the day and
even his feelings for Rhiannon could not outweigh it. He had to go. Even the
knowledge that such a delay would throw off any connection between his
departure and the attacks on the Vales was not enough to hold him any longer.
`Listen, I didn’t come to swap bawdy stories and lewd
suggestions with you. I need to leave Ward’s court and Crondon…’
William goggled at him. `Are you mad, man?’ he managed
to splutter. `You have it all in your hands - why would you throw that away?’
`There are things you do not know about me. The truth
of that is why I must leave …’
This time William was much quicker to stop him. `Don’t
tell me anything,’ he said gently, leaning forwards to grasp Huw by the
shoulder. `If you are about to do something to anger the King, it is better
that I know nothing. Because if he so much as suspects that I knew something
and did not stop it, or at least warn him … well, even my mother-in-law might
be horrified by what he will do to me. I am fond of my skin, and would like to
keep it attached to the rest of me.’
Huw nodded. `Good luck my friend. I have to go and
tell Rhiannon now. She does know …’
`Well, she is safe enough. And all she has to do is
flutter her legs at the King and he will forgive her anything else,’ William
grinned, then his smile faded. `Good luck. I hope to see you again. Any time
you are in Winterbourne, come in and see me. Unless, of course, you are a
hunted outlaw, in which case …’
Huw patted him on the shoulder and left then. He had
his bag packed - he planned to duck through the castle passages to see Rhiannon
for one last time and then purchase a couple of horses and head north. He was
sure he could make good time and, of course, the King would go looking for him
in Browns Brook, to the south. He had looked it up on the map once, and it was
more than a hundred miles to the south of Crondon, so he would easily beat any
pursuit to the Vales.
Keeping an eye out for guards, he slipped into the
servant passages and then hurried down the now-familiar route to Rhiannon’s
bedroom. He knocked softly but, when there was no reply, he eased the door open
and stepped inside. Instantly he felt a pang of disappointment - she was not
there. For a wild moment he thought about trying to find Thomas, or one of the
other officials, and discover where she was. Then he sighed. He could not take
the risk of running into a noble who wanted him to perform somewhere in the
castle. Disconsolately he wandered around her bedroom, brushing his fingers
over one of her dresses, laid over the back of a chair. He was about to turn
back to the passageways when the sound of voices made him freeze. His legs
refused to work for a moment, as he imagined what would happen should Hector
walk into the bedroom with Rhiannon, then his keen ears recognised the King’s
voice. Curious, he eased up to the door and pressed his ear up against the
wood. That seemed to do little but there was a small peephole at head height
and he carefully eased it open. Peering through, he could see Hector and King
Ward settling themselves down in the room outside, a pair of guards, facing the
other way, watching the door into their apartments.
But, better than being able to see, the removal of the
wood plug meant he could hear them, almost as if he were in the same room.
`Your majesty is too kind to honour us with a visit
such as this,’ Hector said quickly. `I am sorry that my daughter could not be
here - Rhiannon is performing for several Lords and their ladies in the west
wing. She will be back soon …’
`I know where she is,’ Ward interrupted. `That is why
I commanded you to meet me now.’
Hector inclined his head. `What can I do for your
`You can do what I believe you planned to, all along.
Your daughter is like a fire in my blood. From the first time I saw her dance,
I have desired her. Everything you have done, the dances she has performed, the
clothes she has worn, all has been designed to catch my attention.’
`That is but a happy coincidence, your majesty …’
`Save me the sugar coating on top of the cake. What is
it you want?’
`What is it you want, your majesty?’ Hector asked
Huw felt as if he were holding his breath.
`Your daughter,’ Ward replied simply.
Huw had to stuff his fist into his mouth to stop
himself from making any noise. The thought about Rhiannon in Ward’s bed made
him feel physically sick. On top of everything else, Ward was married and his
Queen was notorious for making sure unpleasant things often happened to those
who took her place in the marital bed. Surely Hector, with his
over-protectiveness and insistence that men were only interested in Rhiannon
for her body, would refuse!
`I thought your majesty might say that. It is, of
course, a delicate matter …’
`Get on with it. Your price?’ Ward demanded.
Huw shook with anger. How could they barter over her
like this? It was revolting and he was tempted to storm out there and tell them
so - except for the fact that it would almost certainly result in his
imprisonment, and probably his death.
`You see, your majesty, I have trained the girl well,
in more ways than one. You do not want a simple conquest, an unwilling girl
taken against her will. You are all-powerful, so that would of course be
possible, but why would you settle for just that? You have seen what she can do
with her legs - things no other woman can. Her flexibility, her suppleness -
this is something that no other can possibly offer you. You want her to bring
all those willingly to your bed chamber, do you not?’
Huw was torn between a desire to be sick and an even
stronger desire to punch Hector in the face. How could the bastard do this to
his daughter? She trusted him, she believed him, and all the time he was
planning this! It was no better than fattening a calf for slaughter at the
`You have planned well, Hector. Yes, I do want that,’
Ward said gratingly.
`Then my price is two-fold. Firstly, I want a
proclamation from yourself, to be sent out to every town and village under your
sway, to say that Rhiannon of Hove is the greatest singer and dancer you have
seen in all your years on the throne, and that Hector of Hove made her that
`Easily done,’ Ward agreed.
`She comes to your bed for a month - no more - and at
the end, sire, her contract is paid out in full and we shall return to Hove.’
`Interesting. Why so?’
`I know that … things … can happen to those women who
share your bed who are not the Queen, your majesty. I would not wish that on
Ward paused for a moment and Huw wished there was
something he could hit in anger, which would not give away his position.
`Your concern for your daughter is touching,’ he said
drily. `Your price is agreeable to me.’
`Excellent! Now, I took the liberty of having these
contracts drawn up, to that effect. We can both make our mark at the bottom and
then I can begin working on Rhiannon, getting her ready for your majesty.’
`You have planned this out well. I respect that in a
man,’ Ward chuckled. `Well, if you can deliver what I want, this will be a
Huw felt like he was burning inside. Even if he had
not been so attracted to Rhiannon, the thought of a friend being sold off to
that bastard Ward was more than he could stomach. He could not understand how
anyone could do that to their child. And the Forlish said everyone else were
He watched, furious, as Hector warmed a stick of red
wax over a candle, before dripping it onto the bottom of a long piece of
parchment. Ward leaned forwards and pressed his signet ring into the warm wax,
leaving his official seal, then Hector leaned in and pressed his own ring next
`That is a very fine signet ring,’ Ward said
`It should be - it was a gift from your majesty, near
on 20 years ago!’ Hector oiled. `It has been my treasured possession since then
and I have never been without it.’
`May I?’ Ward asked.
Hector obediently tugged at the ring, but it seemed
stuck on his finger. Smiling at the King, he hauled at it with all his strength
- and it flew off into the air, curving a perfect parabola towards Huw’s
terror-stricken eyes. He willed it to stop, to bounce away, but he heard it
ring on the flagstones, then begin rolling. He offered up a silent prayer but,
before he had finished, it rolled underneath the door and nudged against the
toe of his boot.
Horrified, he backed away, as footsteps rushed over to
the door. It was already too late to attempt to make the safety of the
servant’s passage and he was desperately thinking what he could do to explain
himself when the door’s handle rattled.
`Locked! Curse it! Rhiannon must have locked it when
she left for her performance!’ he heard a furious Hector shout.
`Leave it, my dear Hector. It is not going anywhere. I
was merely asking, because I was going to offer you a new one, with more gold
and jewels. Now, I need to meet with my Castellan, so I cannot tarry here.
Accompany me and we shall talk a little about the past and a great deal about
`Of course, your majesty,’ Hector let go of the door
handle and Huw heard him walking away.
Weak with relief, Huw sank into a nearby chair and
thanked Aroaril he had visited the privies before coming on this little
expedition. But what was he to do now? Instinctively he knew he could not just
walk away, knowing Rhiannon was to be auctioned off to Ward, groomed by her
scum of a father to be the willing bedfellow of a brutal King, then to be
discarded by them both when they had what they wanted from her. It made his
blood boil. Just telling her would not be enough, either. He was sure that
Hector would use every bit of trickery he had to persuade her to do this - even
a warning from Huw may not be enough to get her to turn away.
The signet ring caught his eye as it lay on the floor
and he picked it up, feeling the weight of the thing. It helped him think. The
only way was to get Rhiannon to go with him. It was the only way to protect
her. He told himself it was for her, not for him, although the thought of the
two of them alone together, her dependent on him, grateful for all he had done
to help her, sent a frisson of excitement through his lower belly. He was going
north, when they would think he was going south - they could escape easily.
The only trick was getting Rhiannon to believe him. It
was a strange tale - and she would be reluctant to accept that her father had
been lying to her all these years, and that all he wanted was to use her to
make his fortune. Huw was under no illusions as to how much such a proclamation
was worth to someone like Hector. The hopefuls who turned up every year to try
and win a place at Ward’s court would pay richly for the privilege of being
coached by Hector.
But would Rhiannon doubt his tale and refuse to go? He
feared the habit of obedience was too strong and, by the time she discovered he
was speaking the truth, it would be too late.
He gripped the signet ring, a rising tide of
excitement within him. Of course! The answer was to make up a story that she
would believe, that would get her out of there and travel north with him.
Thinking swiftly, he weighed up several ideas hoping
that she would return before Hector. And just in case it was going to be a
close thing, he hurriedly packed a bag for her, leaving the expensive powders
on a table and most of her impractical performance outfits, but choosing her
travel cloak, and other more sensible items.