Skip to main content

BB Villain: The Cloak of War

     Newel, Duke of Northumber, stood by the window, staring over the lawn of his estate.  The great stone mansion had been his home for two years.  He had moved into the Northumber estate soon after the death of his mother.  It was not far from the castle that had been his home hitherto -- perhaps an hour's ride on a good horse.
     A servant appeared in the doorway. "They are assembled, your Grace," announced he.
     Newel surveyed his servant with a dissatisfied air.  Pomplin was his name.  He seemed faithful enough, but the man was an absolute bore with no warmth about him.  Newel wanted a plain servant with no fuss about him, but he hadn't counted on such a morose dimwit.  Serving was all the man was good for.  He had no imagination and a complete inability to think outside of Newel's orders (or so it seemed to Newel).
     "No matter," Newel thought to himself, curling his lip into a scornful grin.  "That's all I need him for."  Newel pushed himself away from the window with sudden alacrity and strode through the halls of his very own mansion.
      In the midst of the mansion, Newel uncovered a secret door.  Disappearing into its recesses, he lit a light and followed a set of stone steps deep into the heart of the mansion.
     At last he emerged in a small meeting room, well-lit with candles.  Several men were gathered there.  Newel's eyes went from face to face.  They were an ugly set of faces, hardened with the lives they lived.  Burly men who had developed the habit of lurking in shadows and checking over their shoulders; brainy men who had traded the look of lofty intelligence for one of cunning treachery; these were the sort that gathered in the secret room. 
     Newel's eyes stopped on the one unfamiliar face in the room.  "Who is this?" he demanded, his eyes narrowing suspiciously.
     "Webb, your Grace," the stranger answered quickly.  "Tracker, swordsman, and so forth."
     Newel's eyes issued a challenge and were met calmly by those of the stranger.  Slowly Newel weighed the stranger in his mind.  It bothered Newel that the stranger returned his gaze so coolly, and he had an uncomfortable feeling that he was being appraised at the same time.  A man like that could be dangerous to Newel some day.
     Newel averted his eyes from the stranger and shrugged.  Were not all of his men potentially dangerous if not handled correctly?  Did he not value a Rat with a calculating and quick mind?  This Webb would be like the rest of his Rats, completely under his thumb.  Newel shot a sideways glance at the stranger, only to see the stranger was still watching him.  Curse him for his boldness, but he would doubtless be able to make Newel's enemies quake with fear.  Newel gave a quick nod, granting his permission for the stranger to join them.
     "W'at's the plan," asked an impatient Rat, dragging a blade along his teeth in a pretense of dental hygiene.
     "I am going to own Darenheim," Newel answered, lifting an eyebrow haughtily.
      Exclamations spun around the room.
      "It will be easy enough if we take our time," Newel went on.  "As you know, my brother is on his way out of the country as we speak, taking an army with him to fight some fool war.  With the army gone, the estate, town, and surrounding country of Darenheim will be unprotected."
     The Rats shifted eagerly, their eyes lighting up as they began to understand the plan.
      "Bandits will plague the city," Newel said with a smile and a suggestive nod at his men.  "Soon, the city will suffer from loss of goods and the reluctance of any tradesman to do business with them.  And who can blame the poor traveling tradesmen -- they get robbed coming and going from the city!"
     The Rats winked at each other.
     "Such bandits, you understand, would be permitted to keep their plunder with no complaint from me.  Make yourselves rich, men," Newel added.
     The Rats were positively gleaming with pleasure.
     "With all the losses they have sustained, city leaders will jump at the chance to put themselves under my protection.  I will buy from them the estate, the city, and all the surrounding lands.  Whichever of you distinguishes yourself in my service will have the honor of ruling Darenheim for me," Newel announced.
      "We can make this plan work," promised one of the Rats.
       "Good," Newel said, shortly.  He turned to a flickering candle, toying with the flame in his fingers.  "This is a good war my brother has rushed into.  Like a dark cloak, it provides the perfect covering for our plans."  He pinched the wick in his fingers and the flame was extinguished.
      "Here's to the cloak of war, then," murmured a Rat as each of the men turned to the candles nearest them and pinched their flames.
     And the room was suddenly pitch black with only the sound of breathing to reveal its inhabitants.

     Extinguished Candle


Popular posts from this blog

Guest Post by Emily!

Character Creation by Emily Ann Putzke
My character in Ain’t We Got Fun is Georgiana (Gi) Rowland, the older sister of Bess. Their family is struggling during the Great Depression, so Gi takes off for NYC to make a fortune and help them out. The sisters recount their adventures, joys and heartaches to each other. My co-author, Emily Chapman, and I wrote this story in letter form in January. Our characters are very different people! Here are a 5 things that helped me bring Gi to life, and give her a personality that’s all her own.
1.  Give Your Characters Flaws None of us are perfect, so our characters shouldn't be either. Gi is a fun, loyal, light hearted girl with big dreams. But she has a flaw that she struggles with throughout the entire story. Pride. She’s very stubborn, independent, and doesn’t want anything from anybody.
2. Use That Flaw to Stretch and Change Your Character Pride gets Gi in quite a few scrapes. Throughout AWGF, she’s constantly battling with it. Everytime she thi…

The Evil Seven Dwarves

Don't count the dwarves in the picture.  There's thirteen of them instead of seven like I was trying to find.  Pinterest isn't perfect, and I'm not a master in digital photo editing.
       But here is part of my twist on Snow White, and I am having more fun with it than you can imagine. 
     I have a queen...drop-dead gorgeous...cold...reserved...tormented...but not evil.
     I have a princess...sheltered...trusting...a little naïve...generally believes the best of people...but not stupid.
     I have a huntsman...big...terrifying to behold...but well-meaning.
     I have a maid...tender-hearted...driven to reveal the truth and set things right...but completely mistaken on so many points.
     I have an herbalist...talented...bound to serve the dark side but resenting it.
     I have 7 dwarves...blood-thirsty...twisted...scheming...evil.

Is that a catastrophe happening, way over yonder?

The next scene in my story is meant to be an important one.  Readers get to meet the dwarves in their own evil lair.  My heroine is tormented for their selfish purposes.  Big scene.

     But when I started writing it, it looked incredibly detached and boring.  "Yeah, look over there.  See those dwarves by the table?  They are tormenting our heroine.  Very sad.  The cottage is cute, though."  The scene just wasn't working.  And my story has been sitting in stasis awaiting inspiration.

     Last night, I flopped on the floor to daydream and snuggle my dog.  For a while, I let my mind wander here and there.  But gradually I came to my senses and realized that the first thing I felt on "awaking" was the hard floor.

     Suddenly, I was Moriah, regaining consciousness.  Hard floor.  Noises.  Light.  Hands on my hair.  And the scene came alive for me.  I could hardly wait to get up and start writing again.

     So, if your scene is too detached, try lying on the…