a novelist's dabblings

In the Shadows Flickering

“The Ides of March” Series … Prompt #23 – “A scene from your story.”

This is from my “one-day book” … the one I’m terrified to write, yet which burns within me like a secret dying to come spilling out. The characters have become my friends, the story-line my favorite, yet there is still so much of it that is out of my reach. But like every other part of writing, if I want to succeed, there’s only one way – I have to jump in with all my might and see where it takes me. In the meantime … you, my dear audience, get the honor of previewing just a little bit of it. If you think it’s terrible, please don’t tell me. It’s still very much a fragile child of mine, not quite ready for the critics. That will come much later.

But for now, I present to you the opening of: “The Shadow Society.”

“We have to act soon. We simply cannot wait any longer, no matter the risks.”

The speaker’s shaggy gray hair hung around a face that was lined and weathered with experience. Candlelight was the only illumination in this small, cave-like room, casting deep shadows on the twenty men gathered within.

Another man spoke up, but in hushed tones, his eyes filled with concern. “I agree that we cannot delay, but must we really speak before the Midwinter Celebration and end everyone’s joy?”

Yet another took up this train of thought. “Yes. I say we at least postpone until after the New Year. Nothing will happen during that time anyway.”

“We hope.” Spoke an ominous tone from the back. “But wouldn’t it be just like those treacherous royal dogs to move when everyone is least expecting it, in the midst of so much celebration and joy?”

This evoked responses from several men, who all began speaking at once. Above the noise, the leader thudded a fist upon the table.

“Gentlemen! Gentlemen, that’s quite enough.”

The men grew silent, a few still muttering, but all turned their attention again toward the front.

“We have heard nothing from our informants of possible action,” the leader said, his voice quiet but with firm authority. “I agree that it is best to wait until the festivities are over. Let them enjoy this final celebration in peace and happiness, for who knows how long it will be before it will happen again?”

Murmurs of agreement rippled around the room, and even the dissenter held his peace. However, it wasn’t long until someone else spoke up.

“Are you sure this would be the wisest move – putting our daughters into the face of such grave danger?”

A couple sighs were heard about the room, as if impatient that this question had to be asked again.

The leader, however, remained grave and stoic. “There is absolutely no other option at this point, gentlemen. We are the head of the Shadow Society, yes. But we can only go so far in our respective positions. Even our couriers and stable boys can only see one part of the picture. Our daughters will be the best informants that we have, for no one else is that close to the royal doings on a consistent basis but the handmaidens of the princesses and other castle staff. And as we move into these potentially dangerous times, we need to be as close and as informed as possible.”

The inquirer only nodded, but the fear never left his eyes.

An older man close to the leader’s side also spoke up. “And we are ensuring that their overseer and room caretaker is one of us. She will be constantly on the lookout for the girls’ safety.”

“And furthermore,” the leader continued, “you are aware that all ten of these young ladies will undergo the strictest training before being taken to Caviliery. They will understand the risks, and be given the necessary tools to counteract the evil that awaits them.”

The room fell silent. The leader looked around at each one of the men gathered. “I know we all wish there was another way. But – gentlemen, I thank you for your honor, your service, and your sacrifice. One day, I pray there will be a reward for all your hard work. But until then, we won’t give up.

“Now then, the plan is to move into action three days after the New Year. This is when the Piper’s Ten must be chosen, and we will ensure that they are all our young ladies. Shortly thereafter, they will begin their training and will be taken to Caviliery by June to begin their service. We can only pray from there …”

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