CC.013–14.L.2 | Enter the Villain

CC.013

And here comes two! I didn’t actually write this section in November, but it looks like it was the first I tackled in December (the whole two months kind of flew by in a blur). This is not my first time writing Vilnius, however, it’s my first time getting inside his head. I may have mentioned during that first section (it was while the party raged on) that I was quite proud of my characterization of Vilnius when he tried to convert Charlotte. In this section, I smiled at a handful of Vilnius moments, but as James pointed out (either in a note, or perhaps over Skype) my first go round the bend was best so far. There’s a lot of work to be done still here, but I’m quite okay with it. I feel like, by testing Vilnius’ back and forths, I probably learned more than if I had just “got it”. And the guy managed to surprise me: he’s super clever, but he ain’t no Xanatos. He’s got plans, but he doesn’t see it all coming. What he does know, however, is how to roll with it…

[Note]1

Vilnius stepped from the ambassador’s tent with a smile, gently brushing ash from his coat. He stepped into the fine evening and took a deep breath, revelling in the crisp Cottonwood air. To his left,2 over the mess of tents, appropriated carts, and assortment of equipment he could just hear a scream in response to what he imagined was the wet gurgling of a dead soldier. He grinned wider. A beautiful evening.

Vilnius began to stroll through camp, his arms behind his back, and he fought down the inane urge to whistle. Joy was well in good, of course, and now was a moment to celebrate, but the act would have to wait until all deeds were done. There would be plenty of time to bask in the glory of his device once the camp was entirely his.

Still, despite the necessity of speed, as he walked he took a single moment to enjoy the complete and utter success of his device; it would be a travesty to not enjoy the first field test, especially when it worked with such astounding results. He shrugged his shoulders and felt the reaffirming weight of the device’s power source on his back settle with a comforting weight.3 Beneath his cloak, he could feel the small bits charged with magical energy hum, and a pleasant warmth spread into his body. Though it was his own design, not even he knew what exactly would happen when he turned it on Lucinda, and the results, to say the least, were very encouraging.

He looked down at the gilded amplifier on his hand and wrist, dangling off it like so much useless jewelry on the arms of the so called elite. But none of their wasted baubles could do what his could do. Theirs were empty attempts to be noticed, or conceal the withering uselessness of age. His was a demonstration of true merit, ingenuity, and dedication; a call of power and force, crafted by the subtle edge of cunning intelligence.

Why, I wouldn’t be surprised to see, within the year, all the young of court sporting matching baubles, in vain attempts to capture its essence.

Vilnius raised his hand so it gleamed in the moonlight, and for a moment held the glowing orb in his hand. He imagined plucking it from the sky, and wondered if such a move was beyond him. He thought not, and smiled.

A task for another day. For now, he had a camp to control.

As he strolled, he became aware of the rucus arising around him, and as he caught glimpses of soldiers running, Cottonwood denizens scurrying, and the essence of the camp’s spirit turning from joyous revery to confused panic, he felt the device begin to hum, or rather, noticed that it had not stopped humming since he left the camp.4

Interesting, he thought. He had only turned it on to do away with Lucinda, but it seemed to have latched onto the rising panic of the camp. A delightful bonus, he mused, raising his hand and focusing on the activation switch, watching it glow a sickly green. This should help nicely. One row over, he heard soldiers talking frantically, their voices rising higher and higher, until the sound of steel being drawn rang out and there was a momentary clash of pleasing violence, followed by several wet thuds. His grin widened. Absolutely perfect.

Vilnius continued his stroll to the central tent. As he made a turn into an open area, he spotted his lieutenant striding with a determined purpose, some poor victim already in Sandy’s sights. Loathe as he was to interrupt, there would be plenty of time later to allow for the sick machinations of torture Sandy was dreaming up. For now, there was important work to finish.5

“Lieutenant!”6 he called out. “Attend me.”7

Sandy stopped, and turned slowly. For a moment, the stoic grin intended for a victim was turned upon Vilnius, and he felt the machine on his back stir. The flickering shadows of nearby torches were suddenly sharper, casting uncomfortable shapes across Sandy’s face, making the emptiness all the more terrific by the intent it clearly contained. Vilnius clasped his open hand extinguishing the green glow inside.

“We’ve no time for frivolous hunts now,”8 he said. “I need you executing the next phase.9 Understood? Someone of your proclivity should have no difficulty finding enjoyment in that.” Sandy let loose a low growl, but nodded. “Stir up whatever trouble you can along the way, of course,” Vilnius continued, waving his deviced hand in the air, “but the goal is the meritocracy.”

Sandy nodded again, then took off down a gap between two tents.

Once again alone, Vilnius smiled and looked down at the device’s focus, glowing green once again. His back humming along to the panic. Strolling forward through the camp, he was astutely aware of the firm ground beneath his feet, the clear sky over his head, the panicked crush of the people he passed, and the rot of those already fallen beneath his unstoppable future.

Yes, a beautiful evening indeed.

As Vilnius strode up to the main tent he let his focus slip, watching as the green magic around his fist slowly dissipated. He imagined feeling a sigh escape across the camp, like the desperate breath being sucked into a throat after a gauntlet let go. People were still panicked, but he could see the subtle differences; the way the clerks opened their eyes as they huddled together, weeping; the way the soldiers started to form up in rows as they ran by. He was tempted to restart the device, to see the effect it had after this brief reprieve, but cautioned himself against it.

There will be plenty of time for play later.

Instead, he started to unclasp the focusing device on his hand, smiling to himself as he thought of Lucinda. Slipping the glove10 into his pocket he took a deep breath, stilled his beaming face, and tossed back his cloak as he burst into the tent.

If outside was a mystery wrapped in confusion, then inside the tent was a grain of pure chaos.11 People were screaming, running every which way, and spatters of blood streaked the ground. Bodies were crumbled in heaps here and there, and the meritocracy—those nobles of high birth and descent12—were a mass of pathetic, blubbering flesh. Vilnius’ eyes scanned the room. In the back, a long slit in the tent was fluttering. For the most part, the room was useless people. He spotted several humps of dead flesh and recognized a coat, or a chain of office. He mentally ticked off the list in his head. He could still see several names quivering with fear, rather than cooling in death, but that was easily enough managed.

One last ambush by the boogie men from the woods, Vilnius thought, even though he knew that the majority of the true Woodfolk13 would have bolted for the trees the second the trouble started. A few, however, loyal unto death to their great Augusto, would remain to lay validity to his claims.

In the middle of the tent, Vilnius could see the carcass of the great beast himself. The chest was still—a pity—for Vilnius would have liked to be there for those last words, to look into Augusto’s fading eyes and see him realize his dreams had been unwound with a single, quick tug.14

All over the tent Vilnius spotted his black armbands, dressed as both Woodfolk and several as Fort City guards; though the latter were far outnumbered by their true counterparts. Perfect. Vilnius had to fight down an urge to smile.15 There was, truly, nothing as satisfying as watching the moving parts of one’s plan fall into place, piece by intricate piece. He could see the next move coming, and the one after that; the meritocracy practically grovelling at his feet to make sense of this horrible tragedy.

As he stood in the entrance basking in his glory, a figure broke from a crowd ahead and barrelled at him. He was a Woodfolk—his garments were ruffled, even more so than usual, and it obscured which clan he belonged to. “YOU!” he screamed, throwing himself towards the Count. Vilnius stood frozen in place, eyes wide; saw the attacker’s arm raised high with a stolen Fort City sword, ready to come crashing down onto his forehead. From the corner of his eye, he could see members of the blubbering mess watching and felt the greatest of anger rise from his stomach, furious that they would be there to witness his end.

Before the blade could land another body was suddenly between them. The Woodfolk man collided with the new person like hitting a wall, and was impaled upwards on the soldier’s sword. Calmly, practiced, the body crumpled to the ground, its momentum and weight used to slowly slide off Sandy’s blade.16

Vilnius shoved Sandy aside,17 and grabbed the Woodfolk by his shirt. “Where is she!?” he screamed, turning so the surviving meritocracy could see him and nearly tripping over the corpse’s gangly legs. “Where is she, you treacherous bastard?” He struck its face with a backhand. “Where is the ambassador!” Without waiting a second longer, he let the body collapse. He clicked his fingers at Sandy and pointed to the remaining black armbands in Woodfolk gear. “Kill them.”18

Stepping between the meritocracy and Sandy’s inevitable grin, he said, “Lucinda is dead!19 It was all a ruse. The Cottonwood has turned on us! You!” He pointed to a Fort City guard standing over the huddled group. “Gather forces outside and rout the escaping Cottonfolk into the woods. Kill all you find. You.” He pointed to another nearby soldier looking over his shoulder. Behind the Count, Sandy and the remaining Fort City guards advanced on the Woodfolk in black armbands. Their eyes were wide, their mouths open in confusion and fear as the blades started to fall. Vilnius snapped his fingers to bring the guard’s attention back to him. “Quickly, you fool! Attend me!” The guard’s attention, along with almost all the dignitaries on the ground, turned to Vilnius. He noted the holdouts and compared it against his mental list, adding names as needed. “Go, find a runner and a sturdy horse and tell them to make for Fort City immediately.” Vilnius smiled inside, knowing there was only one runner this guard would find. “King Theodore must know what has transpired here.”20

Vilnius turned to calmly watch the last of the black armbands dispersed, and surveyed the destruction of the tent. He’d seen better, but this would do. There was something about watching people die that made even the noblest of individuals pliable. His truth would be the only one that walked out of this camp. For a brief moment he considered setting the whole camp ablaze as they left, but quickly reminded himself—again! I am too excited. I must focus—that he had tasks at hand. Unconsciously, he started scratching at his left hand.21

Sandy sauntered up to the Count’s side, slowly wiping the bloodied sword with one of the fallen’s black armbands, a subtle grin creeping across thin lips. “S’next?”22

“We break camp, prepare to move out with the dawn.23 I need to affirm in my control.” He turned back to the huddled mass of Fort City’s supposed finest, and gestured to a pair of soldiers standing uselessly nearby. “You two—take the dignitaries, and clear a path back to their tents. Make sure there are no Cottonwood surprises. Ladies, gentleman—you must pack lightly. We move at daybreak!” The last line he boomed to the entire tent.

There was a moment of stunned silence, scared faces worn like masks turning all attention on Vilnius. Sandy stepped forward. “You heard the count—break camp! Ready the horses! You, get me numbers; I want to know how many troops we have left. You, organize a watch. And you two,” Sandy said, stepping toward the useless duo, “Do as you’re told; get the dignitaries out of here! There’s work to do!”

The tent erupted in action.

As bodies ran back and forth, and the dignitaries rose from the crowd, a body detached itself from the group and stepped up to Vilnius.

“Is—is it true?” The noble asked, attempting to stand tall, but failing to keep shakes from his hands. “Is Lucinda dead?” Vilnius nodded. “Then we are doomed.” His eyes drifted over to the far end of the tent, where grotesque corpse of Augusto cooled. “We’ll never make it out of the Woods alive.”

A second noble, the Lady Hawksworn, stepped up and took the quivering man by the shoulder. “Come, Lord Drake24—pull yourself together. Leave the count to his work.” She nodded to Vilnius, and steered the smaller man away. “I would ask before we go, Count—what of the sword?”

“Desecrated, I fear.” He let his drop the appropriate distance to the ground. “We were too late to stop it. The accord is broken.”

Lady Hawksworn nodded slowly. “Indeed. Than we truly are doomed. Our lives are in your hands, Vilnius.”

“I will not fail them, Lady,” he replied.

She nodded, and steered Lord Drake away, who had begun to openly weep, great globs of snot dripping down his face. Watching the blubbering mess, Vilnius felt the urge to wipe his hands, and as he rubbed them together he realized the device was active again, the bits beneath his cloak humming away. When did I turn it back on? It didn’t matter. It would serve him well in the future to remind Drake what a quivering mess he became in the face of danger.

As the dignitaries followed the soldiers out of the camp, Vilnius locked eyes with Sandy for a fraction of a second and directed them to the remaining names on his list. Sandy didn’t acknowledge the look, but tapped two black arm bands on the head and together they followed the dignitaires out.

All the pieces, coming together. Still, Hawksworn reminded him he needed to prepare the most important piece yet. He gestured to a soldier running past. She stopped. “Yes, Your Excellency?”25

“Bring me the Accord sword.”

The soldier’s eyes went wide, and her face went wide. “I’m sorry, Your Excellence. We, uh—”

Vilnius turned on the soldier and towered over her. “You what?”

“We can’t find it, sir. It’s—gone.”

“A sword does not just get up and walk away! Find it! There’s no—” Vilnius stopped. He looked to the back of the tent where he’d spotted the long slit, person-height, cut in the canvas. He looked over to Augusto’s corpse. His hand began to shake, and he could feel the heat of the device triggering on his back.

“Where is Raul?”

“Sir?”

“Augusto’s pup! The boy dunce! Where is he?

A second soldier stepped up. “I saw him, Your Excellence. Shortly after the chaos started. He was with Lucinda’s pupil, Charlotte.”

Of course.

Vilnius held up his shaking hand. His fury was palpable; he could practically hold it in his hand. Slowly he closed a fist over the device’s activation gem, willing it off.26 The device slowed, but didn’t stop humming.

CC.014

“Find them,” he whispered, barely more than a breath.

Both soldiers leaned in. “Pardon, Your Excellence?”

“FIND THEM!!!” he screamed, turning every head still in the tent. “Augusto’s useless fool and Lucinda’s protege. Find them and kill—” Sudden inspiration struck Vilnius, and he saw the new pieces fall perfectly into his operation. “She worked with them.” It’s obvious. “She undermined her teacher, the Accord, and Fort City; she helped the Cottonwood attack. Charlotte Hargrave—is a traitor.”27

Yes, it was perfect. Perhaps not as perfect as having the sword in hand now, but that would come soon enough. She and the fool could run all they want, but Vilnius had the resources, and, ironically, the longer they were away the more time he had to sway people against her. Of course she worked with the treacherous Cottonwood. She was seen with their leader’s right hand man, was she not, just as the chaos broke out. Perhaps she even killed Lucinda…

Vilnius flexed his hand, feeling his rage still crackle in his fingers. This is where the sword should be. But sometimes, he told himself, unexpected conflicts made better bedfellows. So long as you used them right.

“Break the camp!” he yelled. “We leave now!28

[Larger concern]29


  1. Luke: General thoughts after finishing this section:

    – All V’s musings need to happen before he enters the tent, as he’s walking there. Thinking about the device and what it’s doing, suppressing a smile as he admires the chaos, that kind of thing.
    – Just before entering the tent, he thinks, “Showtime”. Because everything in the tent should be an act, except for…
    – When he learns the Accord sword has gone missing.
    – (Bonus: when asked about the sword by the Meritocrat, he says he’ll find it, but fears it will have already been desecrated. But this is still part of the act.)
    – Maybe he mumbles traitor to himself, but is overheard (by Meritocrat?) That’s what triggers the idea, and he leans into that as part of his plan.
    – James is (maybe) right: Sandy goes to into it…No. Scratch that. Definitely right, but in the wrong place. Sandy is getting all SWORD VIOLENTLY WITH THE BLOOD SPURT SPURT AHHH! when V comes across them OUTSIDE, and that’s when V tells Sandy to, “Tone it down. We still have a role to play here.” This doubles as: 1) Showing Sandy is one mean-ass fucking psycho, and 2) Showing V is in control (of Sandy, too! as far as one can “control” Sandy); V has a plan; that plan. Is. Happening.

    It may be doubly perfect that, while the plan is happening to, uh, plan, he stops Sandy from chasing Charlotte in that moment which ironically lets her derail V’s plan. Dramatic irony! (Or some kind of irony.)

  2. Luke: I kind of half drew a map of some of the camp. For round two rewrites, we should actually draw one (based on what we muse up in Round 1) and adjust things accordingly to that.

    James: I maintain the easiest way to deal with this (and the friendliest to our readers) is to keep left and right out of it. ‘Vilnius looked over the mess of tents… etc.’ works just as well. Let imagination do its work!

  3. James: rep.

  4. James: did you mean tent?

    Luke: yes.

  5. Luke: Oh snap! I’m going to go ahead and assume that Sandy totes would have GUTTED Charlotte if Vilnius hadn’t stopped Sandy here. Which means—Vilnius is to blame (in part) for his own downfall. Sheeeeet…

  6. James: I know we call sandy a lieutenant, but is that sandy’s actual rank? I feel like it wasn’t. It’ll tell us in the character sketch, but I’m too lazy to look it up right now

    James: http://adventuresinstorytelling.ca/2017/01/freedom-to-be-wrong/

  7. Luke: Oh, he would be that pompous, wouldn’t he?

  8. Luke: Oh, V., if you only knew…

  9. Luke: So this isn’t clear in what I wrote previously (Chaos at the Summit), but I’m thinking Sandy’s being sent to deal with the nobility that V. doesn’t want to make it back to Fort City (along with stirring up whatever trouble Sandy can along the way). Ooh, speaking of which…

    James: I get where you’re coming from, but we’ve got to be careful with this. Its all about credulity. Vilnius is smarter than having a Fort City soldier murder Fort City citizens. If just oneo witness gets out, he’s done. There are too many variables in play for such wanton slaughter. Its probably better that this scene be Vilnius reining Sandy in because sandy’s being a bit of an idiot in trying to kill Charlotte. That’s a bad plan, sandy! Same events, better vilainous motivation. Remember: the chaos isn’t mean to be that violent. In fact, if Lucinda were the only one to die, that would probably be fine by Vilnius. The goal here is stopping the talks and creating an excuse for a war of occupation, not starting the first battle of that war. I still think more confusion and less massacre is going to serve the story better.

  10. Luke: Need a better term.

  11. Luke: Chaos that looks like the way we talked about last time I wrote about inside this damn tent.

  12. Luke: Hmm, sounds like Vilnius disdains the meritocracy. Even though he is a product. Time to go back to the character description!

    James: Also, what the heck are you talking about? In a meritocracy, birth and descent have nothing to do with position. Of course, some families continue to have merit through generations, but birth into a ‘noble’ family is no guarantee of position as an adult. You’ve got to earn it.

    Luke: Which is why Fort City is struggling; it’s fallen too far from its roots of merit to privilege. Because the daughter of a previous merit…er, one that has achieved wealth, connections, and power through their merit, will then be able to transfer that to their child through opportunity (education, best toys, etc.). Someone can still rise as a meriter, but they’re facing off against a privileged advantage.

    Once upon a time, FC had all that in check. But its losing it…

  13. Luke: Cottonwooders?

    James: Cottonfolk!

  14. Luke: Oh, Vilnius, little do you know yet that it was quite the opposite.

    James: This is pretty vile, which is good, but I want to pose a question we should think about (and I don’t know the answer, so it really is just a question) – would Vilnius care this much about how Augusto feels for the cottonwood? Certainly, Augusto’s plans were blocking Vilnius’, but would Vilnius take such a personal view of them? Or would he be dispassionate? Cold and calculating when it comes to an opponent he has no regard for

    Luke: Fair point. Where does his villainous nature stem from? We shall consider.

    I was also experimenting with his own device messing with him, subtley. So it could be jacking his feelings. Of course, as an audience, do we know enough about Vilnius yet for that to come across? (Probably not.)

  15. James: He probably shouldn’t even be strutting around. He needs to take control of the situation and do a little acting if he wants to sell it to the people who aren’t in his circle… and those are the people that are really going to sell it to Fort City in the end, so he needs them on board.

    Luke: Oh, James, my friend—read on!

  16. Luke: This is what I WANT, but I don’t know if the flow of the sentence is there yet.

    This is showing that that Sandy is a practice killer and this is no. Big. Thing.

  17. Luke: So, the idea is that he’s trying to recover from the moment where he froze, and jump right into the next phase, i.e. “convincing” the meritocracy to let him take control.

    James: Well, technically he has rank and already is in control, though at this point nobody else knows that Lucinda is ‘missing,’ so what we’re seeing here Vilnius trying to sell his alternative facts, which is what I was talking about above, so, y’know, this comment is kinda pointless, so CARRY ON.

  18. James: I’m still not comfortable with so much killing. I know the reason Vilnius would give this order, but in front of people he’s trying to convince? Remember, these were people that mere minutes ago were celebrating the fact that there would be no more fighting. They would probably be all “now hey, wait just a second here, there’s already a lot of people hurt and killed, lets just stop with the swords for a second and talk about things”

    Luke: I disagree.

    Just because a country’s ambassadors make official peace, years and lifetimes of distrust and belief in stereotypes don’t just get up from the table and walk away. They hang around. There people were ready to try peace, some probably even wanted it, but when shit goes cray and then one of their own—a respected, intelligent expert (remember, V among few others knows the Cottonwood)—steps up and says, “It was all a ruse. We’re duped.” Then it’s easy to fall back onto one’s prejudices.

    Vilnius knows that, and is using it.

  19. James: Really? The last sentence he spoke suggested she was missing

    Luke: Good catch, Mr Professionally Trained Close Reader.

    Also, this:
    http://adventuresinstorytelling.ca/2017/01/freedom-to-be-wrong/

  20. Luke: S’okay, but I’d love to phrase it better so there’s double meaning. “King T needs to know what’s happened here” AND “Needs to know what I want him to think happened here”

  21. Luke: Flibbertigibbet! Which hand is the device on? He’s scratching at that hand.

    James: I imagined left, for what its worth! What with the actual origins of the word sinister and all that, it makes sense

  22. Luke: …no. This is probably already too much talking for Sandy.

  23. James: It’d be wiser to pick up and leave now. Cottonwood doesn’t know its not united anymore, and a lot of cottonfolk could turn up literally at any second. I still think we’re imagining the size of the Fort City retinue differently. I can’t get the idea of it being not-that-big out of my head. Like, why are there so many people there? I just don’t get it Luke! If it was such a big t-odo, why wasn’t Theodore there himself!? A smaller affair seems more likely

    Luke: – If there’s only 5 people hanging out at a “party”, everyone will know when 2 (L and V) get up and leave. Also, that party probably sucks.

    – The event is taking place IN the woods, so I don’t see why FC wouldn’t want to bring a whole entourage. Yeah, the King, that’s a hole. We could fill it with “tradition” (the King never leaves FC). It’s a Fort, after all, so having it’s commander always on hand…I kind of like that, actually.

    – Maybe V. helped orchestrate to make a big entourage happen, so he could cull the “elites”, so as to suit his future purposes. Of course, he was still trying to stop it right up until…well I don’t fucking know 😛

    I’m always open to discussing a different way for it to go down, but I think with less people, we have to do major changes to what we have. Which means finding a new way to have V and C’s moment at the sword, and Raul annoying C. Possible, but …

    FUCKING AUGUSTO LOVES TO PARTY.

    Boom, solved it.

  24. Luke: You know, perhaps we should have a brainstorm where we make up a bunch of silly names that can be for all the nobles in the meritocracy.

    (I don’t quite remember if I used names willy-nilly at the party, but it would probably help add a bit of dimension to it. Make it feel like it’s not just these 6 characters interacting in a world of NPCs.)

    James: Why are the nobles even here? (thought good silly names are still fun!)

    Luke: BECAUSE AUGUSTO LOVES A PARTY.

  25. Luke: I did a quick Google to see what you’re supposed to call a Count, but didn’t find a good resource. We don’t have to stick to our world’s use though, if we don’t want. We can make up something fitting.

    Luke: Actually, this is a meritocracy, right… Maybe we should? Honorifics in our world are often based on birth, are they not? You’re Excellent because you were born “excellent”. But in Fort City, you have to prove it. So something merit based…

    “Your Provedness”

    But, you know, better.

    James: You might be forgetting that I did that research already and left you a lengthy comment about it in another section! Essentially, it boils down to which nation the count belongs – it changes from place to place, which means we have some leeway in deciding. I like your idea of have a merit-based title, though!

    Luke: I had forgotten. ;-}

    But I much prefer a merit-title system. It’s growing on me.

  26. James: is the gem on the glove? ‘Cause he’s not wearing it anymore.

  27. James: you may need to expand the logic here. Remember – the soldier that finds them first is not in Vilnius’ inner circle – I’m not convinced by this explanation. “Kill them because I’m angry. Oh, and, by the way, I guess she’s probably a traitor”

    Also: not that it has to stay this way or that it would be in any way difficult to change, but the soldier C+R meet in Wrestling Match was dispatched by Lane, not Vilnius personally. Just a note for a making it all match up!

  28. James: There we go!

  29. James: Vilnius seems to be reacting rather than acting in this section. It doesn’t feel like he has a plan. It feels more like we’re told he has a plan, but he’s making it up as he goes along. Vilnius needs to construct a narrative of betrayal that convinces the people that are not in his inner circle so that they can support his story when they return to the city. I’m not convinced he’s done this yet. You’ve done a good job of making Vilnius seem pretty obviously evil – that’s good! But perhaps we should be seeing more of his keen mind here, too. Keep the evil locked behind the calculating gaze and shrew actions for now, let it come to the fore slowly through the story (which I think was the plan anyway?) We’re certainly seeing his brand of madness, but I believe the motives/scheme needs to be brought out more.

    Luke: Agreed. The plan, except for that one bit about the sword, is working. That should definitely be reflected in the first V scene, and it’s not. Very good catch. We see the plan working—I still want him to “slot in she’s a traitor” to keep his plan flowing smoothly—which means we need a chat (at rewrite time) about that plan. We don’t really have one for him.

    Of note: I like the idea of him still trying to…hmm. Well, maybe he’s not trying to talk Lucinda out of it. He’s more “I’ll be telling you so…” her because she didn’t listen to him. But he’s known from the time they all left FC that it’s going down this way.

    Yeah, much to clear up in rewrites.

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