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!



`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 majesty?’

`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 politely.

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 market!

`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 way.’

`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 Rhiannon.’

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 bargain.’

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 barbarians!

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 to it.

`That is a very fine signet ring,’ Ward said conversationally.

`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 the future.’

`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.


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