The reason I wrote this chapter in the first place was to make us be completely revolted by one of the bad guys, Amsten. I’ve always said that I wanted to marry the innocence of Harry Potter with the darkness and violence of Game of Thrones. Amsten was introduced early (third chapter) and contrasted so starkly with the innocent protagonist, Sam. This first version of this chapter was just too yucky. I had three early readers advise I cut it. Instead I downplayed the yuckiness of the scene, and then when the book was too large I just cut it. The version of the chapter below is before I tamed it down.
Chapter – The old wizard
The wizard’s bedroom was dripping with gilded embellishments. The blue ceiling had gold foil stamped into its embossed runes. On the walls there hung tapestries of wizards throwing fire and dragons fleeing with fearful expressions. The bed was big enough for a dozen cavorting courtesans, but only three currently resided there.
They were young and nervous girls, unsure of their duties and fearful to displease. Currently the old wizard Amsten was sleeping naked, face down in the white silk.
The youngest and most nervous girl made a questioning look at the oldest. The oldest just shook her head.
“Don’t move,” the eldest whispered with an expression of fear.
Amsten groaned and turned over.
The youngest girl looked at the wizard with disgust. His body was wrinkled, and scarred. His manhood was pocked and scabbed. She grimaced and gagged.
“It wasn’t like that yesterday,” she whispered to the eldest.
The eldest put her finger to her mouth in an urgent hushing motion.
“Am I disturbing you girls?” asked Amsten. His eyes were still closed. His voice was cracked and bitter.
The three girls looked at each other in terror.
“I would hate to think I was disrupting your precious sleep,” he continued.
Amsten sat up and stroked his long white beard. He let out a long breath sullied with the odor of a rotting fish. He grabbed the hair of the youngest girl and pulled her towards him so their faces were an inch apart.
“Guards!” he suddenly shouted.
Three black leather clad guards entered.
“Take this one and flay her,” he said shoving the youngest off the bed. “The other two can get their coin, but I want fresh meat tonight, and I mean fresh. Not hand me downs from the barracks.”
The older guard made a gesture to the other two, who then dragged the girl away. He then paid the other naked girls and pointed for them to leave. He turned to Amsten and coughed politely. “Sire,” he said. “King Unmind has sent another message ordering that you depart today, after you have completed the renewal ceremony. It can be delayed no longer.”
Amsten’s expression flitted from fear to grim determination. “Very well, send Madera to me immediately.”
“Madera is waiting outside,” replied the guard.
The guard left, and an old lady entered. She looked momentarily disgusted at the site of the old naked wizard, but then she walked to his robe on the floor and picked it up.
“Amsten, my dear,” she said as she helped him put on the robe. “You don’t look well.”
“Srtiz!” exclaimed Amsten.
Madera winced. Sritz was a very harsh curse word.
“You’re treatments are not even lasting a night,” said Amsten.
Madera opened Amsten’s robe and examined his manhood. She lay her hand on it and muttered the two words of a healing spell. “Urah hash.”
She shook her head and chuckled.
“I remember the first time you came to me with that curse of yours. I told you ‘never rape a witch’s daughter’,” Madera said.
“Yes, and I asked you ‘how am I supposed to know if she’s a witch’s daughter?’” Amsten said.
Madera stroked the old man’s beard. “The Southerner’s have a saying ‘take heed where you plant your seed, for the devil’s must is the fool’s need’.”
“What?” responded Amsten with annoyance.
“Just be more careful where you put that … thing of yours,” she said.
Amsten walked to a cupboard, opened it and brought out a leather bag. He poured out some coin into his hand.
“The Southerner’s are just a bunch of lazy farmers,” Amsten replied.
“A lazy farmer is a very rare breed indeed,” Madera said. “Don’t bother pouring out some coin, you’ll need to give me the whole bag.”
Amsten hesitated, then returned the coins to the bag. “You have a solution for my other problem?”
Madera stepped back towards the door. “Come in Jemma!” she shouted.
A teen girl entered. She was black haired, skinny and wore a white silk frock, and a cowed expression.
Amsten looked lustfully at her for a moment and then his expression turned to disappointment. “I don’t think I have the energy. Even for such a beauty.”
He approached her and put his nose against her hair and sniffed deeply. “She’s virgin isn’t she,” he said.
Madera nodded. “She is the sacrifice,” she said touching the girl’s shoulder. “Jemma and I have come to an understanding. She has no less than five brothers and three sisters; all living.”
“So?” asked Amsten.
“So, she can be discreet,” replied Madera.
Amsten walked behind Jemma and ran his hand down her back. He felt something under her silk dress. Puzzled he lifted the dress. Jemma was wearing a thick wool sweater.
“I don’t think cold is going to be her problem,” he spoke with a laugh.
“Squeeze the wool,” said Madera.
Amsten grinned and grabbed the girl’s breast and recoiled in disgust, his hand was covered in oil.
“Srtiz!” exclaimed Amsten. “What in Frith’s name is this?”
“That is very expensive burchan oil. It burns hot and it burns bright, and is very easily lit,” she explained.
Amsten’s mouth dropped open.
“Oh wise and powerful wizard,” said Madera. “The bigger you make your fireball the less heat it has. Today in the ceremony, you will be able to throw a large fireball and yet it will completely engulf this beautiful little Jemma. The witnesses will report that you still have all your strength, and there is no need yet to pass on your power to the next generation. Little Jemma here knows she has to be discreet because she does not wish her brothers and sisters to be tortured and killed. Isn’t that right Jemma?”
Jemma closed her eyes and nodded.
Amsten dropped the bag of coins in Madera’s hand. He put his hands on Jemma’s cheeks and kissed her on the lips. “Good girl.”
An hour later, as the gentle winds of the Northern dales ran crisply through the morning dew and rustled the bushes of the ceremony grounds. A long line of witnesses applauded to the screams of the burning girl. The wizard Amsten had proven he still had the power to retain his title, and his life.
This chapter was just too yucky to keep