Wednesday, May 29, 2013


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!


Huw packed, in a daze. Even though he had heard the words, he could scarcely believe them. How could Forland decide to crush the Vales? For as long as he could remember, his father, and others, had declared that the Vales were not worth the trouble of a full invasion. They were right, in a way. But this was worse. He could well imagine the havoc a few hundred Forlish warriors could create among the Vales. He had seen enough of them over the last few weeks to know that they thrived on battle and slaughter. Even the toughest Velshman, without weapons or training, would be unable to stop them. And to have their freedom taken away, to give up their pride and bend the knee to Forland … it was monstrous. As soon as he heard it, he knew he had to return, and warn everyone.

But then he paused in his packing and thought again. Realistically, what could they do? There was no army, little leadership and not even the semblance of unity. Villages traded with each other, to a degree, but were just as likely to feud with the villagers on the other side of the hill they both lived on. And even if, by some miracle, the Velsh could come together to drive out Ward’s bandits, what then? With Forlish pride on the line, Huw knew full well that Ward would not let the Velsh enjoy their victory. He would bring his armies north - the armies that had never been defeated.

No matter what, the Vales were going to come under Forlish rule. Huw knew what that would mean, and how he and his father would need money if they were to survive. Those who were rich flourished under Ward’s rule, while everyone else suffered.     

And the reality of packing also drove home the fact this was the end of his dream. He had money now, but hardly enough to buy a farm. What was he going to do in the new Forlish-ruled Vales? He doubted they would want to listen to a Velsh bard, especially one that had left the King. While he was living here, he was under the King’s protection, enjoying the King’s favour. But that would all stop the moment he left and headed north. The King’s men would make sure that nobody would hire a bard that had insulted Ward. If he stayed, if he spent the whole year here, he would be able to miss the worst of the takeover of the Vales, could arrive home with enough money to make sure his father was able to live in comfort and be able to take care of him.

Perhaps it would be better if he stayed. He could not stop what was coming, but he might well be able to do more to help by being here than by going home. After all, it was not as if he was any good with a sword, or knew how to organise a defence of the Vales.

He began to swiftly unpack, pulling clothes back out of his bag and laying them again on the bed. The more he thought about that, the more it made sense. Staying here might be the best course of action, although he should still send a message to his father, warning him. He toyed with the thought of asking Ward to ensure his parents were protected but dismissed that. With Ward’s eye already turning north to the Vales, he could imagine being asked to help the King’s soldiers choose their targets. He could not bear to think he had anything to do with the burnings, terror, rape and murder that would follow.

Imagining that caused his thoughts to turn again. What would his father say if he knew Huw had sat back and let that happen? He could not bear to see the look in his father’s eyes when he saw him again. He had to go back and do the right thing. Slowly, reluctantly, he began to pack again, putting back the clothes he had taken out. 

He almost did not notice the knock at the door.

`Hugh! What are you doing in there?’ William’s voice made Huw jump.

Guiltily, he bundled up his bag and clothes that he had been packing, and hurled them into the wardrobe, before racing over to the door.

`Sorry, I was miles away,’ he said with a shaky smile, opening the door just a crack.

`Aren’t you going to let me in? What, have you got a woman in there, you lucky dog?’ William winked.

`What? No, there’s nobody else in here,’ Huw insisted, opening the door further.

`Really? Oh, well then, I’ve got no interest in coming inside,’ William shrugged. `But that may change later.’

`Why?’ Huw was still on edge, his mind already halfway north.

`I have a note here from your friend. One Rhiannon of Hove. She slipped it to me while patting my dogs. And by that I mean the small fluffy ones in my act,’ he finished with a leer.

`That might be hilarious to the King’s court but I don’t find it funny,’ Huw told him, reaching out for the note that William was gently waving at him, held between two fingers.

`Ah, ah, ah!’ William whisked the note out of reach. `Details, man, details! How did you get a note from the King’s favourite? What went on in that meeting?’

`Nothing!’ Huw tried to look as though it was all innocent, and he cared nothing for what was in the note, when inside he was burning to get his hands on it. `Her father could not attend, so I looked after her.’

`Very well, from the looks of this. I shall have to keep my eye on you. It is always the quiet ones that surprise you!’

`May I have the note now - it might be something important, something from the King,’ Huw held out his hand.

`And I might be magically attractive to women,’ William sniffed, but he handed it over anyway.

Huw took it and broke the wax seal then read it quickly, holding it carefully so that a peering William could not see what was inside.

It was only a few words, but it warmed his heart and fired his imagination.

`My father thinks I am resting this afternoon. He shall be meeting with several of the King’s nobles between now and the dinner bell.’

`What is it? Show me!’ William demanded.

With a grin, Huw turned the paper around.

`Is that it?’ William snorted. `I expected something a bit more obvious, like: I shall be naked between now and dinner, so pull on your shagging boots and get down here fast!’

Huw shook his head. `You only have one thing on your mind! Is there no romance in you?’

`I have been married for near on eighteen years, and have six brats that lived to be children. I don’t have the energy for romance! Besides, I live with my mother-in-law. One look at her and all thoughts of romance wither and die. But, seriously, what sort of love note is this?’

`It’s one that can be read by anyone, and denied easily,’ Huw said absently, his mind racing. `But we spoke about this earlier. I can get her out of here and we can go and see the city. Now excuse me, I need to change.’

`Good idea. Have fun - and don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. On second thoughts, you shouldn’t do anything I would do. Seriously. A lot of women don’t like that. Believe me!’ William opened his eyes wide and then winked.

`You’re not on stage now! Get out and let me get dressed!’ Huw laughingly pushed his friend away and shut the door.

All thoughts of leaving were gone. A couple of days could not make any difference, he told himself. Ward’s men have to be summoned from far south and then march all the way to the Vales. He had more than enough time.


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