I love a good wicked villain! In that respect, “The Legend of Allyn-a-Dale” is a treat-and-a-half for me, because it’s got not just one bad guy, but three. Since you’ve had a chance to meet most of the heroes in Books 1 and 2, how ‘bout we now take a sneak peek at the antagonists of Book 3?
Villain #1 – Lord Swanton, Sheriff of Nottinghamshire
Swanton in a single quote: “Something one learns in the position of Sheriff, Locksley: Somehow, the amount a person is able to give always totals less than what can be taken by force.”
Swanton in a scene:
Swanton swept through the door, his brow deeply furrowed and mouth set in a snarl. “Whiners!” he growled, slamming the door shut behind him. “Whiners, every one of them. Nothing but complaints, all day in and out!”
He stalked around the room like a wolf denied an opening to pounce, his voluminous dark robes swirling with every turn. “I am too hard on them, they say, these hedge-born curs. Hard! It is not I that is hard. I am not the law, only its enforcer — and if those under the law like it not, how am I to blame? Yet do they blame me. And I would care not a whit, if they would only do it silently!”
He threw himself down, grumbling, onto the cushion of his high-backed armchair. “Hard… I suppose snubbing the law would be less hard, would it not? Keeping their coppers for themselves instead of paying their taxes, feasting on ill-gotten meat, oh yes, that would be very easy. Nothing easier than utter anarchy! But we do not all have the luxury of turning our back on the law.”
“Is it a luxury, My Lord?” Allyn asked […]
“Indeed,” Swanton seethed quietly, gray eyes glinting. “A priest is bound by God’s law, a king by his own laws, those below by those given from above. We are not to break the rules, but work within them. …Creatively, if need be.
“To live outside of the law is a privilege that none have been granted, and yet will the lowest of men grasp for it. They scorn the governors placed over them, live by no code of conduct but that which they see fit to devise, and laugh behind the backs now bent beneath the double weight of having to deal with such vermin in addition to our own troubles! Time, funds, and effort which might have gone toward easing the burdens of the common folk, allotted instead to hunting down delinquents and meting out their due punishment. And then the whiners complain to me … only to speak praises of Robin Hood on their next breath!”
An ill-placed goblet flew from its perch on an end table to crash into the wall opposite Swanton’s chair. … Swanton sat rigid, the nails of his clenched hands digging into his seat’s armrests, sweat beading on the brow over his wildly glittering eyes. “Play for me, Allyn,” he said hoarsely. “Sing.”
Why I love to hate him: Let’s just say… I can relate.
Villain #2: Sir Guy of Gisborne
Gisborne in a single quote: “The Sheriff cannot do the half of what I can. […] His tied hands cannot reach out and deal with outlaws as they must be dealt with if they are to be beaten: On their own, lawless terms. And so did he turn to me.”
Gisborne in a scene:
It was like looking at a demon. Tall and wiry, clad in black and darkest brown, with a horse head skin — long face and ears, mane and all — draped over him like an unholy masked helmet. His eyes were in shadow. His teeth, bared in grimace or grin, gleamed white […]
“You thought yourself safe, did you not? You thought I would not play your game. But you are not the only one willing to defy the law’s limits in the name of justice. And this is justice most complete.” The voice dripped with gloating malice. “The great Robin Hood, shot down with his own arrow. And though you will not live to feel it, yet will you hang.”
Straightening, he said, “Take him,” and two of his followers nearest at hand moved forward to obey. Then both startled back with a dual shout […] Robin’s body was gone from the tree […]
Alone of those left alive in the open, the horse-hooded man stood statue still. “Did anyone see that?” he asked.
A man at his side exclaimed, “Of course we saw—”
He got no further than that, the sword in his leader’s hand lashing out to cut him off at the neck.
“I ask again,” he said, voice sharp as bloody steel. “Did anyone see that?”
Why I love to hate him: This creeper gives my spirit chills!
Villain #3: …Well, that would be telling.
Gotta keep some surprises for the book, right? But here, we’ll throw in a scene with this reprobate thug:
“A fine day to you, Goodman Clank-and-Clang,” the man in the road said with a distracting smile. How very much like Will Scarlet his cousin could look, when his expression had mischief in store. “Making rather a lot of to-do about your passing, are you not?”
“’Tis to keep the outlaws away,” the driver said snappishly. “Stand aside, will you?”
Rather than comply, Robin tipped his head quizzically to one side. “Are outlaws truly as easily affrighted as all that? I should rather think they would come running from a mile away at what sounds enticingly like a king’s ransom in coins, clinking together.”
The driver grunted. “Only if a king’s captors are like to take payment in pots and kettles in need of a tinker’s repair. Not much worth robbing there, now is it?”
“Rob?” Robin repeated, as if such a thought had never entered his head. “Why, my good fellow, who’s come to rob you? I stand here only to collect the road’s toll.”
“Toll, is it? And how much is the toll?”
“That depends,” said Robin. “How much have you got?”
All this depravity and more, coming to you in 3 weeks! ^_^