This scene comes from the 2nd draft of my epic fantasy book, Storge. This is a villain POV chapter from the middle of the book, when the anarchists are planning their next strike against the Atilan government. I thought it would be interesting to explore a dynamic in which an antagonist wasn’t just a lofty individual manipulating others, but truly believed in a twisted ideology with a group of trusted friends. As an introduction: Esil is one of two main villains and the ringleader of the group. Amika is their tank, Samoth is the logistics guy, and Divad is the spy. They’re best friends who commit arson and terrorism! If you aren’t familiar with the story, you should first check out the WIP page. I wanted to share a different fight this month, but realized I already posted it, so if you want to read The Arena, you can also find that here! I hope you enjoy the scene!
Two days after their greatest victory and greatest defeat, the new Master of the Anarchists fought for his life. At least, that’s how it always felt when he sparred with Amika. Esil ducked under a crescent kick, dodged the spinning backfist strike, and danced away from hook punch just before it collided with his temple. Shifting his footing, he countered with a strike to her ribs, and she flinched back as his palm made impact. He retreated to reassess. There was his opening.
“Master, I wish you would focus.” Samoth’s exasperated admonishment dripped with sarcasm. If Esil wasn’t so focused on making this shot, he’d have rolled his eyes. He cocked his leg up and-
Crashed to the ground as pain cracked through his shin. Across from him, Amika hopped on one leg, rubbing her own shin where it clashed against his.
“Good roundhouse,” she said through clenched teeth.
“Same to you.”
In an instant, he regained his footing. She moved into a fighting stance, ready to fire off another round of attacks, and grinning like a wild thing. He couldn’t see her teeth behind the mask, but he recognized the wicked glint in her eye and angle of her head. Inviting. Take another swing. I dare you.
“Carry on.” Esil called to Samoth, before diving at her with another combination.
That eye roll was audible.
Block. Counter. “We lost thirteen soldiers in the attack on the arena and of the ten others injured, all are making speedy recoveries,” Samoth droned.
“Very good!” Dodge a strike. Triple punch. Retreat.
“Divad led an intelligence mission today to collect data on the Atilan response. He’ll be arriving back with the news soon. I hope.”
Esil nodded, distracted by the report. Long enough for Amika to catch her breath. She responded with a rush of strikes and punches. He stumbled back, attempting to block, but blinding pain stung his nose as one elbow hit. Eyes blurred with automatic tears, blood dripped onto the drill floor, and Esil raised a hand for a cease.
Amika saluted to him, pulling off her mask to show the self-sure smile, and handed him a towel. Samoth glanced up for a second and raised an eyebrow, but didn’t pause for a breath as he continued, “It would be most advantageous to continue sowing dissent and fear amongst the people of the city to undermine what remains of the Council’s power. Already we’ve received news of a curfew, and funerary preparations for those we killed in the arena. It would be difficult to attack the temple itself, but undermining the religious efforts would be ideal. If the queen is a figurehead, striking to the heart of the Atilan bureaucracy would destabilize the whole construct.”
Esil gave Samoth a tired look past his watery eyes. “I can assure you; the queen is not a figurehead.”
“Regardless, my point stands,” Samoth said. He flipped a page, but before he could rattle off the next batch of notes, the door banged open and Divad appeared, beaming like a performer on the night of their opening show.
“Esil, tell me I’m your favorite!” he sang, before stopping dead in his tracks, “Oh sick Sotha, what happened to your face?!”
“I happened,” Amika said with a self-satisfied grin, “And Samoth, if you count his excellent decoy.”
“That was hardly intentional!” Sam protested from the sidelines.
Esil ignored both of them, “Divad, you’re my favorite if only because you haven’t caused me physical harm yet today. Please tell me the mission went well.”
“It. Was. Brilliant. I squirmed may way into the banquet hall itself,” Divad said with the smugness of a griffin stealing food. He sat next to Samoth and laid back against the bleachers to regale them with the story.
Why did you stay all night? Samoth asked. “I was worried they captured you, too. So soon after Mechat… they must be on high alert.”
“They had the most wonderful wines, I had to enjoy myself a little,” He protested. “But I appreciate your concern. If I left too quickly, they might have caught onto my ruse. I didn’t sneak in as a servant. They were all far too frightened to give me the pass. Instead, I gained entry to the banquet by impersonating a merchant—either high class Debilan or the insignificant cousin of a minor Atilan house. They’re crawling all over the palace like an infestation of roaches. It’s rather pathetic.”
“You got close to Lyss?” Esil asked. “I thought she knew everyone.”
“She was distracted,” Divad assured him. “I didn’t risk speaking with her, but I could overhear some plans, including- “ He leaned in and lowered his voice conspiratorially, always the actor. “-the time she will be most vulnerable to an attack.”
Amika lit up and gave him a friendly smack on the back. “You sneaky bastard, well done.”
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3 thoughts on “Sparring and Scheming”
I love this! Their friendship feels very organic. It almost feels like they could be the protagonists if I hadn’t read the context. And I loved the fluidity in the sparring match.
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Yes, that’s the dynamic I was going for! They’re misguided people who do bad things and hurt other people but that doesn’t mean evil can’t keep company. Thank you so much for the comment!