“Goodness is, so to speak, itself: badness is only spoiled goodness. And there must be something good first before it can be spoiled. We called sadism a sexual perversion; but you must first have the idea of a normal sexuality before you can talk of its being perverted; and you can see which is the perversion, because you can explain the perverted from the normal, and cannot explain the normal from the perverted.” -C.S. Lewis, ‘Mere Christianity’
((A sample of Kione’s POV, to practice the details of my villain. We’ll call it free-writing, and I make no promises as to the quality of the prose.))
Kione had sat with his usual glass of firewine through breakfast, swirling the liquid and picking at his food though his stomach protested with every bite that he forced down his throat. He had imagined himself presenting a front of high spirits on this anticipated day, and though he had thought that he had better control over himself than this, had relied several times on his nerves, he found them failing him. The sensation worsened when young Prince Davyer Kanichende looked at him and asked, “You’re not sad, are you?”
“Sad, my prince?” Kione smiled and shook his head. “I can rarely eat before an event of importance. The coronation certainly counts, if nothing else in the world would. You must be very excited.”
“Don’t forget, we’re taking off the traitor’s head today.”
“I would never forget.” Kione raised his glass slightly, an informal, silent toast, and sipped at the liquid. Firewine was commonly heavily spiced, and it stung his throat when he took a small sip. The drink calmed his nerves, and distinguished himself from the others at the table who would not have been drinking that early in the day. The princeling was distracted by another at the table, and turned his attention from Kione gracelessly. He was young, twelve years, Kione had heard, but seemed smaller, clumsier. The table was filled with men, politicians who had served Davyer’s late father, all except the captain of the secret police. Supposedly. The minister of agriculture, who had seduced the royal treasurer’s wife fifteen years ago, made a point to snub his ‘rival’, though he had long ago lost interest in the lady. The Guardsmaster, who should have been working, gave unsubtle hints about an expected promotion. The Queen fussed over her son’s oversized robes.
When an answered knock revealed Sorche wishing a private word, Kione was only happy to leave, though he told the prince that he regretted the interruption and would return as soon as possible. The prince wasn’t listening, and Kione left the room with the royal crystal still in hand. “Shall I demand ‘this had better be good’?” he asked Sorche after the door had closed.
“You look like you’re the one in the prison,” Sorche replied, giving him a once-over and gesturing him to walk beside him. Kione followed. “Your nerves…”
“I have excellent nerves. It’s my gut that’s lurching.”
“You know what they say. That’s the sign of a guilty conscience. What are you drinking?” Sorche took the wine from Kione without permission, handling the delicate glass with little care and taking a swig. “Oh. Oh, no, no, no. This is not the right wine.”
“Insulting the royal wine, are we?”
“It’s very good wine. It’s just wrong for the occasion. I have very good tastes, excepting when I don’t.”
Sorche chose a marble stairway and began climbing. Kione recognized the route; he was leading them to their own private apartments. “Not this way. I should make certain the arrangements-”
“The arrangements are still in place, and if you became any more uptight your face might turn red and pop open like over-ripe fruit. You’re going to sit down. You are going to drink wine. You are going to let someone else run things for a change, because if you keep on like this, you are going to wrap yourself in micro-managing details and lose perspective. You listen to me once every few weeks; I say this is that time. You can ignore me for the next twenty five days afterward.” Sorche glared at him, which was surprisingly easy. His eyes were slanted and heavy lidded, easily narrowed down to mere slits on his face.
Kione allowed his brother the slightest of grins, and relented. “I will say this. I won’t miss the breakfast of fools.”
“… Unsuited for their tasks, rather. Is there a job where the self-righteous blather pretentiously on about themselves, whining for rewards? They would excel.”
“Children and politicians,” Sorche joked, then turned serious. “I did wonder, Kione… after this goes through… what am I going to be doing?”
Kione used the last set of stairs to delay his answer, climbing up with the help of the rail. “What ever you please. I’ll keep you in gold, or I’ll give you our old holding. If it’s within my power, it’s yours. You’ve been a good brother. You know I won’t forget it.”
“Father will never forgive you if his home is left with someone ‘in need of housebreaking’ when he’s gone.” They were nearing their apartments. Sorche held out his hand to Kione to stand back and entered the room first, then called the all-clear for Kione when he wasn’t set upon by assassins. Everything still looked good. Kione followed into the room, paused to lock the doors, then bar them. He found Sorche pouring him a new glass in the main room, turning on lanterns and letting Kione recline in the low-light. “There!” Sorche proclaimed, capping the bottle. “That is the right wine for the occasion.”
Kione took the glass and tasted it. The wine was bittersweet, with a dry aftertaste that prompted another drink. “This is your good Almantine. You still have this?”
Sorche was busying himself with a case beside one of the sofas, freeing a tall stringed instrument with the bow curved around the four long strings, inseparable from the instrument. “The right wine for the right occasion, I told you. A good day should start with a good wine.” As he began tuning the instrument, Kione heard a distant note, a scream muffled by the thick marble walls. Kione closed his eyes and focused on the wine. The discordant note was inevitable, and he would not have his brother’s fine wine disregarded. Sorche began running his bow across the strings, made the final corrections, and began to play. Sorche preferred the active, tense pieces, and his poised fingers wavered back and forth, pressing on some notes, then others, creating a complicated, deep-throated melody as what began as a single cry rose and built with the music until the entire castle rang with cries of fear and pain, shouts and rings of steel. The screaming lasted longer than the song, but at that point the wine had done its work; Kione was comfortable again, and with that comfort his gut lots its tension. Though the sound outside the room rivaled Sorche’s expert performance, Kione decided to savor them both equally. This was the sound of triumph, of change. This was the sound of the downfall of a corrupt house, the necessary tumble and red bath before something new and better could be implemented, a song of sorrow and hope, all in one.
Even so. As Kione finished the wine (and would not allow himself a second glass) he couldn’t help but regret that he didn’t direct the entire event himself. One never knew how certain details could go wrong.