Years ago, Scarlett made two friends: Elena and Kirin. They are realm leapers who take it upon themselves to test how realistic fictional settings, tropes, and cliches are.
Recently, one of them discovered fragments of a journal compiled by a villain (who will go unnamed). After one particular defeat, he spent the better part of the night ranting to himself about the perceptions of villains by the common public.
There are too many people claiming the title of villain nowadays. One has only to kidnap a princess or destroy a town and their names are suddenly spoken in hushed whispers. Ridiculous. There are some of us who actually had to WORK for our titles.
Not to mention the insultingly low public perception of villains. I remember when no one dared to speak the name of one who held their lives in their hands. Now people laugh behind our backs and underestimate us in the most astounding ways. Do they honestly think we got our positions with careless henchmen or soldiers who couldn’t shoot straight? They’re submitting for a reason and that reason is that their life is on the line. Let’s think about this for a moment!
And why must our name be blackened and twisted into some cruel merciless form? What do they think a villain is? Someone who slaughters for fun?
Actually, that’s a good question…who a villain is, not the slaughtering for fun part. Slaughtering, by the way, is not to be recommended unless in the direst cases. Nine times out of ten it only succeeds in raising up a rebellion among people who would have lived in grudging contentment under higher taxes and stricter laws. Plus, it gives us a bad name. As if we don’t have enough of that going around as it is. But I digress
A villain can be one of two things. The common definition nowadays is that he is a ‘cruelly malicious person who is involved in or devoted to wickedness or crime’. Basically, he’s a scoundrel or, as we call them, lower-class villains.
Sometimes though, they are just an ‘evil agency’ opposing the so-called hero. Don’t ask me why they’re called heroes when they are beaten, captured, and fail to protect everything they love. And people revere them and hate those of us who keep a better check on our venerabilities.
But back to the ‘evil agency’ or, as I like to call it, the higher class of the villain guild. Can we please bend the term ‘evil’ to mean something more than gloomy towers, black clothes (where has the fashion sense gone nowadays?), and a love of death, gold, and pain?
Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.
For starters, we villains can be in almost any position. Sometimes we prefer a powerful place in society…say a king or a general. But other times we’re spies. Or tavern keepers. Or teachers. Or housemaids.
For one just starting a career, a lesser position is a good place since there’s less scrutiny. Of course, even as a blacksmith or actor, it’s taken for granted that any villain worth their salt has a powerful following of people who they can raise up at a moment’s notice to accomplish whatever schemes they intend to accomplish.
As a side note, if you’re considering the title of villain and don’t meet the requirements, rethink your position. As a guild, we are increasingly aggravated at incompetents claiming our titles. We’re in the process of hiring assassins to deal with the matter.
On the other end of the scale are the dark lords. Soooo annoying. They might not do much, but their presentation is enough to make the bravest cower. Of course, presentation is half of what being a villain is about, but still. They needn’t flaunt themselves over the rest of us.
Oh, and family relations have nothing to do with a person’s success, though it may place some people in a better position to exercise authority than others. But a nephew is as likely to take the throne from an uncle, as an uncle is from a nephew. Flaming terrors, but what is it with the poor uncles? Almost everyone becomes an uncle eventually, provided he has siblings. And what about the Aunts? They can be just as deadly, sometimes even more so.
Back to our grievances.
Like people thinking we’re some sort of monsters. All right, I admit, there are some who enjoy causing pain or death. But most of us simply want a particular thing.
There may be a small group of people we hate and will inflict pain on if we can, but for the most part, life is just life. We may even show a touch of mercy here or there to keep the subjects in line. Ruling by fear is all very well, and we rarely rule by love. Too much work, the love part. But we can be nice if we wish. Besides, when those who fear us are also treated decently well, they tend to let us do as we please.
And honestly, there are far more entertaining hobbies than hiding away inside some dank torture chamber.
Dancing, for instance. Music. Feasts. Hunting. Counting treasure (for those with dragon blood in their veins, as well as a few mathematically minded souls.) Swimming. Climbing. Inventing. Racing. Chess. Writing. Reading. We can be very sophisticated if we please. And there are many of us who do please.
And on the subject of likes, can I touch on clothes? Put quite simply, we’re as varied as any other guild. Some of us like black. Some like scarlet. Some stay in fashion. Some start fashions at the point of a sword. And some of us don’t care how we look as long as we’ve several weapons nearby. But everyone looks good in black: hero, villain, or idiot. So stop pretending we’re the only ones who wear it.
And…oh yes. Minions. If anyone knows where to get simple, mindless, happy minions, please tell me. Because I’ve yet to find them. The options are to own slaves or to pay for labor.
Also, just because we control many people by fear, doesn’t mean we don’t have friends too. I can be very charming if I please. We don’t give power to anyone unless there’s a reason. And that reason is normally that we like the person. A friend. A brother. A son. Of course, if they betray us they’ll die. But that’s how life goes with heroes too, and no one complains about them.
We true villains didn’t get where we are by making mistakes, and we’re careful our subordinates are smart as well. They support us, we reward them. Everyone is happy. They know their success is bound up in ours.
Speaking of which, we rarely kill someone for failing. That’s a disastrous waste of talent. Those who do kill subordinates tend to be villains of lower quality.
After all, we generally hire people more skilled than us. Otherwise, why would we be handing them our hard-earned money? Villains are the same as any other person. Sure, we can fight well or are at least skilled at tactics, but that’s to be expected. We generally prefer to spend our time on other interests. Like reading, music, debate, riding, and sports. Even cooking and gardening.
Our security, on the other hand, is top-notch. Your hero can’t run across twenty paces of open garden while being shot at. Either he sneaks in, or he’ll die, because we only hire the best.
But really, other than the fortresses and death, we’re like any other person. As for our choice of career, there are many reasons. Sometimes it’s revenge. Other times it’s love of family or nation. Sometimes we want power or riches. Sometimes a villain is a bit unstable mentally (they also tend to be great masterminds. Why do the ones who don’t enjoy what they get always succeed?) But in the end, it’s because we want something, either physical or ideological, and so we set our mind to getting it. And we do get it, no matter the price.
Again, like the heroes. Again, no one complains about them. It’s not fair and it needs to change. And if I have to make it happen myself, I will.
Disclaimer: The views held in this report are in no way supported by either myself or by Kirin or Elena. It is a copy of a diary rant only, to give you a quick glimpse into the mind of a villain.