Breaking the Rules

I seem to have a habit of breaking the rules. Most of the guidance I’ve read about writing suggest that the cast of characters for a novel should be limited in number. I started with a limited cast, but as the story has come out, there just are more people involved that I initially thought.

I started with Edward, the middle-aged mapmaker. And I had a “villian,” though I’ve come to use the term loosely as I’ve developed him, a king called Cartok. I discovered that Edward has a guard assigned to him, Welter, who has become more well-rounded and versatile the more I learn. And there’s a brother and sister pair that are actually the central characters, though I didn’t originally think that would be the case. There’s Charlie and Coffen and George and Raisch and another King called Trenton.

As more characters have arrived on scene, I’ve struggled to keep track of who is where and doing what. There is so much going on, plans laid well before this story starts. I discover new angles and twists during each session I spend writing.

My “villian” so far has been present, yet absent. We’ve seen him in a couple of scenes, seen the effects of his actions, and had his shadow falling long over everything, but there’s only one scene I’ve written so far that he is central. That’s the one I’m sharing today.

He is a man that has broken rules, broken countries, and people. He’s done whatever he chose, despite the repercussions, and now years later, he’s haunted by those choices. I see him starring in the next few chapters I’m writing, and I’m excited to explore his character more. To see if the vile man he appears to be is superficial, or if the stench extends below the surface.

Enjoy the first peek at him!

Cartok had just placed his napkin in his lap and the cover of his breakfast tray just removed when the butler pushed open the door at the end of the dining hall and ushered in a dirty and tired rider. The man slouched over but hurried behind the butler. They stopped two places down the table on Cartok’s left, and the butler bowed before he pushed the man forward. 

“My Lord, this is Darrien.” 

Darrien fumbled forward, head bowed and nodded it even further forward in reverence. 

“He’s only now returned with the detachment you sent after the mapmaker.” 

Cartok didn’t move, save his eyes, which narrowed into tiny slits. He looked from the butler to the man, but didn’t speak. He waited. The butler followed his gaze to Darrien, and when he failed to answer, he gave him a solid push in the back and cleared his throat. Darrien jumped with the thump on the back, but was still too scared to look at Cartok. 

“You…Your Majesty. We’ve brought back some people from, from the camp. On the border where, where we caught up with the mapmaker. Sir.” 

Cartok digested the explanation, and still remained motionless. He looked the man over and blinked twice. 

“Have you brought me the mapmaker?” he asked with a hint of ice. 

Darrien hunched and shuffled and shook his head. 

Cartok dismissed him with a twitch of the fingers on his left hand resting on the tabletop. 

The butler grabbed Darrien by the back of his shirt and pushed him back toward the door they’d entered only moments before. He deposited the man in the hall and shut the door, then returned to where he’d been standing. He stationed himself there and focused across the room at a vacant spot on the opposite wall. He would remain there until Cartok issued his order, whatever it was. 

This man, by the name of Geran, had been a butler for nearly forty-six years and though the time had not been kind to his strength or stature or appearance, it had been beneficial to his patience. 

When Cartok had become King, and Geran made his butler, Geran had feared his silence. It had unnerved him and made him anxious. What was the stone-faced man thinking or planning? Geran had fought the urge to fidget and squirm and had trained himself to just wait. 

When he’d started with the king, it had been as a second to a middle-aged man that had served for Cartok’s father. Cartok’s silences had been unbearable for the man, and the man unbearable to the king. It’d only taken a few months before Geran had replaced the older man. 

Cartok had begun eating. He stopped after several more minutes to drink some coffee from his mug, and then addressed Geran. “I need to know details of who they brought back and why. I also want a full report of what took place on the mission. Clearly, the mapmaker has eluded us again. I want to know if they’ve gained any new information about him. I need to find him.” 

Geran nodded. “I’ll have it for you as soon as I can get it.” He left the king returning to his breakfast.

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