There’s nothing quite like a revision for removing scenes from the first draft of a book. Sometimes you lose part of a story because it just doesn’t fit or work, but along the way there is also inevitably collateral damage, removing innocent parts of the text that fall under the harsh guillotine of the edit!
I feel it's a good idea to retrieve some of those “deleted scenes” to share on the blog. If you’ve read The Blood of the Bear, it will give you a little more background. If you haven’t, then it will give you a bit more of a taste of the story that lies within the cover.
For the first one of these I’ve chosen the “Meteor Story” which is often referred to in the book but never fully explained until now ...
“It’s good to be in the company of young warriors again. I am a merlin, a battle mage. I have drunk mead with kings and fought with dragons. I wasn’t always a mad old fool running with the beasts of Caledon.”
“We had heard tales about you, from when we were young,” says Artos, “Wren said she knew you, but nobody believed her. Something about a battle that went wrong?”
“Yes, you could say that. Always check the weather on the day of a battle, that’s my advice,” he takes another draw from his pipe, “there were almost five thousand on the field that day, but three to two in our favour under the banners of a king of the Alclud known as Morgant. We had selected the site of the battle. Our forces were experienced and skilled with spear, sword and axe. The horses were trained and courageous, always ready to plough headlong into the fight. Our archers stood prepared on the rise of a hill, with flames burning beside them to light their hail of fiery arrows. It was dawn and opposing us were forces that had been thrown together out of desperation. Disorganised and half drunk, sensing it was their last day alive, they prayed to their gods for a quick death and a heroic tribute from the bards in the halls of their kin.”
“So what went wrong? How did you come to be defeated?”
“It was late summer. The timing was just right for an ambitious and spectacular piece of magic. I was younger, and reputation was important. My name was mentioned in many courts and here was the chance to make my mark in history. To be the most famed merlin of all time.”
Myrrdin draws back within his own thoughts. The fire crackles and spews forth clouds of smoke as Artos and Alan sip from cups of wine.
"Do you know anything about the stars Artos?"
“Not much. Wren was always talking about the Moon, but I never paid a lot of attention to be honest.”
Myrrdin appears unsurprised by the revelation that Artos has learned little of Wren’s wisdom. Why didn’t kings learn magic? It seems to be a complete oversight to him, but still he continues with the tale.
“At that time of year, in the place of the stars called Mirfak and Algol, a storm of fiery rock descends from the heavens. Thousands in number, they fall for days. On cloudless nights, you can see their fire streak across the sky, but you never see them fall to earth. What if one could be made to descend? To fall amongst your enemy, to scatter them to the four directions with one mighty blow. If I could make such a thing happen, it would be recounted in the many halls of the Blessed Isle.”
“Well it is. That’s why people says you’re insane!” says Alan, forgetting to offer sympathy.
Myrrdin talks on while ignoring the slight. Each wrinkle and crease in his face re-living the day.
“There are problems when working such magic. Lots of calculations, triangles, equations, numbers and letters. It’s difficult to get right, especially in the heat of battle, but sometimes detail impedes ambition. I just knew I could make it work. We stood assembled. The King, his lords and vassals. They watched me shake the very earth as I drove my staff into the ground. Our enemies groaned in terror as thunder rolled in the skies above them. A terrible clamour that sent fear through the bravest of foes. Then, it came out from the clouds. A brilliant and fiery mass of burning rock, a star falling to earth. The air rumbled and vibrated around it. Its power could be felt for miles around as it travelled from beyond the rear of our lines towards the two thousand souls of our enemy. Blazing, resplendent and bright as a sun, but there was a headwind I hadn’t calculated for, and it crashed to the ground, half a mile too short.”
“And?” asks Artos.
“It wiped out most of the army of Morgant in a single blast. Bodies rendered into fragments and burnt to a cinder in seconds. A great hole carved into the ground, throwing stone and mud high into the air. The debris descended to the same spot, burying all the fallen. Within seconds, it was as if they had never existed. The enemy couldn’t believe their eyes or indeed their luck and charged on the stricken and wounded survivors. Only I left that place alive.
“They felt they owed me my life after all I had done to save theirs. For a year and a day I stayed at the battlefield, tending to the graves and haunted by the ghosts. I would have still been there had Wren Morcant nought sought me out.”
“So she was telling the truth!” Artos is shocked.
“We have history together,” says Myrrdin, as Alan sniggers, “not that kind of history,” he continues. “Wren is also involved in the great prophecy Artos. She has played her part over the years, as we all are bound to, as you will be too.
“She persuaded me to move on, to return to my studies and observations, to work with nature, to see a less ambitious side to myself and finally to wait. To wait until my predicted end. My certain death by the hand of a maiden. It should happen only when the prophecy is fulfilled.”
“You’ll be killed by a girl?” asks Alan.
“Well, not killed exactly, but trapped in a crystal cave for thousands of years, until I am once again summoned to the court of a future king. A descendant of Morgant who will forgive me for my crimes.”
“So that’s the meteor story?” says Artos.
“That is the truthful version of events. Time and the embellishment of gossip-mongers over years of drunken chattering has seen the tale transformed,” sighs Myrrdin, “mainly to my further ridicule.”