Monday, October 15, 2012


Readers 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!

Now, when you buy a DVD, you get to see extra scenes that were left on the cutting room floor.

Here, 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!



He turned with a grin to hug his friend.

`Gaibun! We’re going to learn the bow! I can’t believe we are finally going to learn how to shoot arrows!’ Sendatsu laughed.

`I couldn’t sleep last night for thinking of it,’ Gaibun confessed.

A slim elven girl slapped him on the back of the head.

`Really? You were so excited about having your fingers scraped raw, your back aching and your arms so sore you can barely lift a spoon?’

`Yes, Asami, I am!’ Sendatsu told her.

`Proves you must have been dropped on your head as a child. Well, come on then!’

Sendatsu led the way, the three of them racing through the streets, laughing and dodging the adults they saw there - most of whom merely smiled indulgently, to the city‘s archery range, on the outskirts of the forest.

There were a score of other youths, boys and girls, all about the same age, between seven and eight years old, waiting patiently with an older elf, with a shaved head and huge shoulders and arms.

`Glad you three decided to join us. We were thinking of sending out our best trackers to find you,’ he told them, with a slight smile. `But don‘t be late again.’

`Yes sensei,’ they chorused, as they took their places in the line.

`Good. Now take your bows. We shall begin at the same time every day - archery is all about practise. You will find these bows hard to draw at first but, as soon as they grow easier, you must choose a bigger, stronger bow. Until you have a bow with full draw weight, I don’t want you ever using these easily.’

He showed them the bows made of yew, how it was made of both the heartwood and outer wood of the tree, so it would withstand the tension of the spring and snap back with the pace and speed to send a long arrow 200 paces.

`I never want to see you draw back only to the eye. Aiming is easy enough then, but you have no power. Draw to the ear and learn to think the arrow to your target. For the first year, the safest place for me will be standing right in front of the target but you shall learn!’

He showed them how to draw back, how the tension was spread through the arms, chest, shoulders and back, how to release the string between breaths so the bow did not move and throw the arrow off target.

`We are the only race in the world to use the longbow! The humans are not clever enough to use the bow, nor do they live long enough to be able to spend the 10 years necessary to become an archer!’

`Why do we learn the bow?’ Asami asked grimacing with the effort of drawing the bow. `We do not hunt animals for their flesh, and we are protected from the humans by a magical barrier.’

`That we are. But magic can be breached, or can fail. A strong arm and a strong bow will never fail. These are the best defences we could ever have, should we need them.’

Sendatsu had enjoyed the lesson, although his arrows had gone nowhere near the target, even though the tips of his first two fingers on the right hand were sore and red at the end of the lesson and his shoulders and back were aching. Gaibun was even more excited.

`Did you see me hit the target? Did you see? I was the only one who did it!’ he laughed all the way home, while Sendatsu and Asami teased his claims that he was a natural, an archer born.

`Shall we get something to eat and then go down to the park? I want to swim in the lake,’ Sendatsu suggested.

`We’ll meet down there,’ Asami agreed.

Sendatsu raced inside his house, intending to grab something from the kitchen before finding a towel. Perhaps his mother had been baking cakes. His stomach rumbled at the thought. But he skidded to a halt as he came through the door to find his father sitting at the kitchen table.

`Benneth! Back from archery already?’

`Yes, father,’ Sendatsu nodded, unconsciously trying to stand straighter.

`And how did it go?’

Sendatsu grinned and began a hurried recount of the lesson, how they had worked until they ached, and their teacher had called a halt.

`And Gaibun hit the target!’ he finished. `We’re going down to the lake for a swim…’

`Did you hit the target?’ his father asked sharply.

`No father, although I got close …’

`And you thought that was good enough? You thought it was acceptable to go out and enjoy yourself afterwards? Reward yourself for failure?’

Sendatsu gaped at his father.

`Answer me, boy!’

`But the teacher said…’

`I don’t care what your teacher said! Do you think failure is good enough?’

`No, father.’

`Come with me.’

Miserably, Sendatsu followed his father into the garden, where an old archery target hung on a tree. His father, a tall muscular man, took out an old bow, smaller than the massive one he used but still bigger than the ones Sendatsu and his friends had tried at the archery lesson.

`Here, take this. This is the bow I used at your age. It is bigger and stronger than the ones they give you at the start, but that is good. It is not acceptable to be the same as everyone else. You must be bigger, stronger, faster. If you are to take my place on the Elven Council, you have to prove yourself worthy. Are you going to let Gaibun become the best archer of your age? Do you want to be a lesser elf? He is your competition, and you must beat him!’

`But father, he is my friend …’

`Friends make you weak. You must be strong. Take up the bow.’

`But father, my hands are sore and my back aches…’

His father brought the bow stave whistling around in a vicious arc and Sendatsu jumped in pain as it whiplashed across his backside.

`Talk back to me again and you shall regret it! Now take the bow and string it!’

Sendatsu took the bow with a shaking hand and, exerting every ounce of strength, just managed to bend it enough to slip the string into the nocked horn tips. His father watched grimly, then dropped a sheaf of arrows at his feet.

`Every day, you will come back here after your lesson, string the bow and put 10 arrows into that target. Each day I shall remove the arrows - and woe betide you if I come home and find anything less than 10 in that target.’

`But father, what if I miss?’

His father’s face tightened and Sendatsu reflexively took a step away. `Did you not listen to me boy? I want 10 arrows in that target and I don’t care how long it takes you! Begin!’

Sendatsu bent and picked up an arrow. Shorter than the yard-long shafts the adults used, it was still a good six inches longer than the ones he had first tried. He fitted the nocked end to the string, then drew a deep breath and drew back. His already sore muscles protested, while his fingers felt like fire.

`Pull back! What are you, a little girl? Pull, boy! Put some effort into it!’ his father snapped.

Grunting with the effort, Sendatsu pulled it back and released, barely aiming. Luckily the target was only 10 paces away but, even so, the arrow only just stuck in the very edge of it.

`Aroaril, boy! If that was your best effort, I can see we are going to be here until dark. Come on, make me proud of you for once!’

Sendatsu leaned down and selected another arrow. This one was even harder to draw back. His arms were trembling with the effort now and while the release was sweet relief for his muscles, it was pure agony for his fingers. He looked down in horror to see the rough hide string had taken the skin off the pads of his fingers and they were red raw.

`You missed, boy,’ his father said coldly, dropping the arrow at his feet again. `Come on, I haven’t got all day but I will stay here if that is what it takes.’

Sendatsu laid another arrow into the string and pulled back. He could feel the dampness of blood from his fingers on the string, while silent tears rolled down his cheeks.

`It is not good enough to be second best. You must be the best! Now pull!’ his father roared at him.

Lost in a world of pain, Sendatsu tried to do what his father told him. At that moment, the only thing he hated more than the bow, which was tearing his muscles and cutting his flesh, was his father.


Sendatsu lifted his tunic to let Asami rub a soothing salve on his welts and bruises.

`Mother says this will take down the swelling much faster,’ Asami said softly, her fingers light across his wounds.

`Thank you,’ he smiled gently at her.

`This is terrible,’ Asami sighed, her fingers tracing a long welt from his upper back down to his ribs.

`It’s getting better. I’m getting faster. He doesn’t hit me so much now,’ Sendatsu told her, trying to say something to keep his mind off her hands on his skin.

`I still think you should have told someone,’ she finished with the salve but he caught her hands before she could take them away.

`But then I wouldn’t have you do this for me. And that makes it worth it,’ he said softly, leaning closer to her.

Her hands went to his back again and drew him forwards into a long kiss that seemed to last a moment and for ever.

`I thought we were all going to pick strawberries?’ Gaibun’s voice snapped them apart and Asami jumped to her feet.

Sendatsu was slower to get up, partly because he was sore, partly because he needed to pull his tunic down to disguise the bulge at the front of his trews. He met Gaibun’s gaze and was shocked at the anger in his friend’s eyes.

`If I did not know better, I would say that you were doing this for sympathy,’ Gaibun said coldly.

`How could you say that?’ Asami demanded. `Haven’t you seen his bruises?’

`Aye. But not the way you have, obviously,’ Gaibun snapped.

`I’m going now, before I say something I shouldn’t,‘ Asami warned, and stalked away.

`But what about the strawberries? They’re your favourites!’ Gaibun protested.

`Pick them yourself!’

They watched her walk away, but all Sendatsu could think of was the way her hands had felt on his skin, the way her lips had felt against his.

`Come on. Those strawberries need picking, whether there’s two or three of us doing it,’ Gaibun said gloomily.

Sendatsu followed him, but his eyes lingered on the departing figure of Asami.

`You are lucky,’ Gaibun said softly.

`What? You still think I got these bruises deliberately…?’

`No. That she likes you. She knows how much I like her but won’t let me near her. But you …’

Sendatsu looked at his friend and could see only sadness in his eyes now.

`We will still be friends, no matter what,’ he said defiantly. `Asami is not something to be fought over. She will make her own decisions.’

`I know,’ Gaibun agreed. `I promise it won’t come between us!’

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