Saruman from Lord of the Rings. The Duke of Weaselton from Frozen. Messala from Ben-Hur. They all have one thing in common: villainy.
But what I’m wondering is: why? What made them be anything more than average person like you or me? When the choice between the path of heroism and the path of villainy snuck up on them, what made them choose evil and darkness? Was it because it was the easy way? Was it revenge? Was it deception or trickery in the beginning?
The arch-villains often have their stories explained, but their sidekicks and subordinates don’t. What happened to them?
Tell their stories. Their untold ones. What came before the dark chapters of their life that we’ve read? Of all those villainous characters out there, whose voice will you be? Whose story will you tell?
If you write something (from a few sentences to 1,500 words to 100,000 (for which I’d applaud you and build a statue in your immortal honor)), I’d love to hear it! Post it or a link to it in the comments if you want to share. 🙂 Either way, I hope you are inspired!
This is what I wrote, the story that came to my mind while reading The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe and burned to be told. It is the story of the Witch’s Wolf Captain, Maugrim, and what made him join the White Witch. This is the story that started it all:
“Mama, when will Daddy be back? I’m so hungry!” The wolf cub whimpered, pawing at his mother’s mouth. “Can’t I go out and try to hunt something small, like a squirrel?”
“No, Maugrim!” she barked. A quick look of something like fear flashed in her eyes. “You stay right here with me and your litter mates.”
“But I’m starving!” the pup whined.
The wolf’s eyes softened. “I know, honey.” She nuzzled him. “But with the White Witch’s winter, meat is scarce, especially trying to find a dumb creature. Can’t go eating talking ones, you know. And the Witch’s spies are everywhere. Ever since your Daddy refused to serve her…” Her voice faltered, and her sigh was white breath in the cave. “Hunting isn’t safe, Maugrim. There’s dwarves to fear as well. Your father has to be careful. He might not be back until tonight, maybe later than that. Just try to be patient, my boy.”
Maugrim grunted, unable to quiet his grumbling stomach.
“Come close, my children,” his mother said, raising her voice to reach the other rowdily playing cubs. “Lay close together against my sides, and we can be warm. I shall tell you stories.”
Maugrim almost forgot his hunger and he jostled to be close to his mother. He knew what was coming. He waited for it every day. These stories, the ones his mother always told, thrilled him with hope and wonder.
“Please, Mama, please tell us stories about Aslan!” he begged. His mother snuffled at him, feeling the eager tremor in his body.
“Yes, Maugrim. I’ll tell you of the Great Lion, and maybe we will not give up hope. Not if we remember.”
Dark was heavy in the cave. Outside, the world was bright with white light from the cloud-muffled moonlight reflecting off the snow. All the cubs were asleep, huddled against their mother, hungry and cold.
Maugrim sniffed the vagrant wind. His father had not returned. Worry gnawed at him as sharply as the hunger. Wriggling carefully free of his sleeping mother and sisters, he padded out into the moonlight.
The world was silent. Trotting around, his paws quickly chilled in the freezing snow, he scrambled to the rise over his cave. From his vantage, he put his nose to the wind, straining his young ears for any sound of his father coming back. The wind remained cold and empty.
“Aslan!” he whimpered, and his voice sounded loud to him in the nighttime stillness. “Aslan, wherever you are, help us! Please. If you care about us, about Narnia, then come and save us! Speak to me, do something, kill the White Witch and save Narnia. If you’re out there, if you have any love for the world, show us…” His voice trembled and faded to barely more than a whisper. “Come and save us. Come and save us…”
Tired, cold in his bones and his heart, Maugrim padded back to the cave and curled up in the warmth of his mother and siblings. It was a long time before he fell asleep.
“You’re going to starve if I don’t do something!” Maugrim barked. He’d had this argument with his mother at least four times in the last two days, ever since his father had left to hunt. Much bigger now, he and his three siblings were thin and gaunt, as was their mother. Their ribs showed through their limp, mangy fur, and their eyes were hollow. His father wasn’t in any better condition.
“Your father will be back. He always is.”
“But he might not have any game either. He never does!” Maugrim shot back.
“Maugrim, you know why we have to stay together. If dwarves come by, looking for fur to warm them in this winter, you know as well as I do that they won’t stop to ask if we’re talking animals. They won’t care. They’ll kill us and take our skins. As hungry as we are, we need you here to protect us. It’s not just because I’m afraid you’ll get killed out there or that I want to chain you. We need you here.”
There it was. Her usual tactic. Maugrim could never resist that argument. He almost gave in now. Almost.
“Just one night’s hunting, mother. I won’t be any good to you if we’re all dead.”
She hesitated. “My heart resists it… only one night, you understand? And you bring yourself back here alive.”
“Deal, mother. I’ll be swift as the sunrise. I’ll hunt, keep my nose to the ground for father, and be back before you know it. Don’t worry.”
She padded closer, and his sigh was white fog under his nose. She nuzzled him. “Aslan protect you.”
Maugrim shifted uncomfortably. “Uh, thanks, see you later.” He bounded out of the cave and raced to the south, towards the best hunting areas.
Aslan. If only he cared. He never did anything. He can’t care about me, or Narnia. Maybe he isn’t even real, or maybe he died. At any rate, it’s not like we can really expect him to protect me. Trust my own claws and teeth for that… If only he cared…
He had managed to kill a rabbit and was dragging it back to the cave when he caught a familiar smell. It was well past midnight and even as it was his mother would be worried with him towing the one-night line. But it was his father’s smell. Close.
He trailed it quickly, but it wasn’t long before he smelled new smells joining that of his father’s: dwarf. Fear clogged his throat, but he sped up. He might be in time to warn his father.
A clearing. Bloodstained snow. The desecrated body of a wolf. His father. Dead. Robbed of fur.
The howl that tore from Maugrim rent the winter air. He bounded to his father’s body, unable to accept the reality of it.
“Why?” he howled at the sky. “Why me?!” He tore at the ground, cursing the dwarves who had done this, cursing the day dwarf kind was created.
Grief blurred time. The ice crept through his fur and entered his bones, his heart. The sun rose.
How could Aslan let this happen? If he’s real, if he’s still alive, he wouldn’t! He couldn’t! Or maybe… a new thought entered his heart and deep burning anger began to smolder in him, maybe he did this. Maybe he isn’t the kindly lion we’ve been led to believe. He is a lion after all. Lions eat creatures like me. Why should he care? Why should he be any different with us than the dwarves were with my father?
When he was a young pup, Aslan had been his hero and great protector that he always believed in, though never saw. When he got older, he’d grown out of those silly stories, and his devotion faded to indifference. Now, though, a completely new feeling replaced all the others, drowning them out and washing them away into the forgotten wastes of the past.
Growling in hatred of the dwarves and newfound anger at the lion who had never helped him, he trailed slowly back to the cave. The image of his father burned in his mind, fueling his anger. The dead rabbit remained in the snow, forgotten.
The morning was wearing away to afternoon by the time Maugrim reached the cave where his mother and siblings waited. Lost in grief and anger, it wasn’t until he stopped in the entrance that his screaming nose reached his mind. A too familiar smell. He’d smelled it only just that morning.
His mother and three sisters, almost unrecognizable without their coats.
His heart became stone.
All feeling left him. Even the anger faded to dull betrayal. Aslan, if he even lived, was no one Maugrim was going to give another second of his life to. This blow was too horrible. And the worst insult of all was that he was still alive. Left to wallow in the misery and horror that life had thrust upon him. Left to have himself beaten down and left for dead. Turning, without a sound and scarce a thought about what he was doing, he slunk away.
He would go to the only one who had the power to give him the one thing he desired: revenge. To destroy the dwarves who had committed this crime, and beyond, to stand against the mythical force that had done this – Aslan.
“You are either the greatest fool to pass my gate, or the most daring wolf to come and swear allegiance,” the Queen said. Her snow white hand gripped her wand and her ruby red lips curled in a contemptuous expression. “If it is the first, your life is forfeit. If not… we shall see.”
Maugrim raised his haggard eyes and let his gaze burn into hers. “I am already destroyed. I have no fear of death. I have come to serve you.” He ducked his head, and then rolled onto his back, signifying her authority over his life. “I am your servant, my Queen. Do with me as you will, send me wherever you desire. Only grant me my wish.”
“You have great impertinence to make demands of me!” she roared, stayed only perhaps by his clear submission. “What is this wish of yours?”
“To face that cursed lion, the so-called Great Lion of Narnia, with teeth bared. To stand with you against him, to hold Narnia in your rightful power forever. And, if you choose to be so gracious, to allow me revenge upon the enemies who have destroyed my soul. That is my wish.”
The Queen sank back in her throne, a satisfied expression on her face. “Very well. You shall be my Wolf Captain. Rise, my faithful servant. We shall make war.”
“I hear and obey, O Queen,” Maugrim said with a bow. He took his place at the foot of her throne, setting his jaw. The Witch’s winter had entered his heart, and it was stone cold.