Men of Power – constructing the antagonist by GJ Scherzinger
It is a simplistic viewpoint to suggest that those who work in darkness work for themselves, while those that work in light work for others, but it is the metaphorical balance. In writing the antagonist, the villain, the wayward soul, one only has to look at their opposition: the hero that represents the inner self, the resolute, the reformed sinner.
As a writer, one has to put themselves in many characters as well as understand the desires and fears that drive them. The poles become the focal points: freedom or security, light opposed to darkness, innocence confronting cynicism. Like anyone, from the simplest aspiration to the most complex scheme, if a person in power covets something, they also dread its loss even more once they have it. The cycle becomes so pronounced that they’ll even strive to hoard future assets at the expense of the resources that provide them.
It isn’t hard to provide motivation to the antagonists in a story. All one has to do is look at current affairs and motivations of the rich and powerful are laid out bare a thousandfold. Ethics and morals are easily cast aside for the expediency of profit. Uncomfortable bedfellows are sometimes necessary and to be overlooked for as long as there is something to be gained by the effort. When the resource has been milked for all it is worth, it is discarded without thought. I’m sure the conversations behind closed doors are always the same, a cold appraisal of net profit, what looks best and sells most, riding on the backs of those who contribute the labor.
And so, in writing The Henna Witch, I found myself eavesdropping on the conversation of two men determined to milk the status quo in spite of their own misgivings about the methods.
Excerpt from “the Henna Witch”
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Jowls trembling, Mich Acano paced the floor. It was not a purposeful stride but his disposition gave him more than his usual energy. Softened by rich foods and drink, he shuffled in a small circle, the territory defined by the distance to a comfortable chair. The Chancellor’s tunic was a richly woven, though colorless silk, loosely cut to disguise the slack and impotent frame beneath.
Beyond the patios, he could hear the fierce sounds of chanting crowds, gathered around the temple. He turned and shook his finger at Ritt Mornay, seated with a bored expression behind his Tikana desk.
“Make no mistake, Mornay, we will all pay if we let this sorcerous lunatic continue to have free rein. Listen to them. He gathers the natives … should that even be allowed? … gathers them to himself like he was some kind of almighty saviour. It galls me … galls me, to have to publicly support his … what is it? … oh, yes … his ‘vision’ among the rest of the Borloni. But I do. As long as we get what we want, I am going to shout his defenses, even as the kiffers clamor about the temple hoping for salvation.”
“You do a splendid job.”
Ritt was tired of this interview but had nothing better to occupy him at the moment, so he let his Chancellor stew and vent. Acano was far more agreeable when he thought someone was listening to him.
“I am wary of his power. What if he should abuse it?” Michen showed sudden alarm in his face, another fear added to his litany. A dragon had appeared in the night, just these days past, a stunning apparition as he was not given to dreams. It had frightened him to the point of … he glared at the Governor. “If, in the event you do not know, those sorceries of his are not just infecting the kiffers …”
“Natives, please … everyone knows your feelings towards them, so spare me.”
“Excuse me, I meant nothing. Such a common word, it …”
“It is a common word – my point. We are not commoners. Now what is your point?”
Acano ruffled with the barb.
“My point is that these sorceries are infecting good people too, not just the k … not just the natives. Good, honest Borloni. … having their peace, ah disturbed.” Michen drew himself up, defending the personal affronts that he wouldn’t dare confide. “It isn’t right. ‘Rein him in’ is what my point is.”
“My dear Acano, I’ll speak to the man. And what have you to fear? The natives are compliant and arduously employed so as to not find other reasons to assemble.”
“They’re assembling now … listen.”
“They are not mustered under your balcony, what is your concern? Our Tikana shipments are going splendidly. You have the accounts, look at them if it makes you feel better. By the way, thanks to your bold suggestion, our surveying expedition has reported a large forest that we can easily exploit by river.” Mornay knew Acano had fought the notion from the beginning, though the Chancellor had a short memory if it looked like profit. “Somewhere out there … up the Marinalo and over one, I don’t remember its name. And below the falls too, your biggest concern, was it not? So, we have every reason to leave things as they are. At least for the time being.”
Ritt Mornay stood and went to reassure the nervous Chancellor. The Governor privately held the same fears. He usually held no stock in dreams as his limited imagination rarely permitted them. The odd intrusions and lusts to his slumber were strangely gratifying. His three concubines were less fortunate. He had taken to the convenience of sleeping alone once his pleasures were done. He would not have that luxury with his wife and he was pleased she had elected to stay in Luminaria.
“It is the shareholder’s intention to harvest as much of that beautiful Tikana as we can. As Governor, that is my intention as well. See here, Acano, in just a few more years we shall both be only a little older … and much richer … and we can have done with the rabid forests here. Think of the retreat back to civilization … the resorts of Marlaga, perhaps, where there are civilized entertainments and we can spend our proceeds in comfort. We can let the sorcerer have it all then … and this overgrown relic of a city as a bonus.” Mornay gave Acano a companionable embrace. “I understand your fears completely, mind you. A resting period will be my suggestion. I shall speak to him this very day.”
Ritt grimaced. Kapornic was not one to be talked to. His vacant madness only responded to flattery, far more than the slack Acano needed.
“See that you do. As you say, the rabble is not running riot, thank all the gods. That is a little comfort.” Acano turned himself with a shuffle, looking for the door. Ritt could tell the Chancellor had exhausted his tirade. “I’ll show myself out.”
Author Bio ~ GJ Scherzinger
Gregory Scherzinger spent the bulk of his formative career skiing as much as possible while finding gainful work as a TV Producer and Director. He left the broadcast business to spend the next 13 years living on a 41′ yawl in NW Washington. In various adventures he sailed the Inside Passage, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Bahamas. His first novel was penned while residing in the San Juan Islands. He lived for a while in Todos Santos on the Baja, Mexico, where he continued writing and was adopted by a stray dog who is still with him. He currently lives on a small farm in the coastal hills of his native Oregon and just completed the first draft of his fifth novel, the Deck of the Numinon..
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