Creating a proper villain is an integral part of any fantasy story. Villains like this can be complicated, conflicted, and disturbed with a sordid past that can explain their tragic upbringing. Most of the time, though, they are just pure evil.
That is the story of Abdel Ben Faust, a new character and antagonist in The Outlander War: Book 3 of the Forever Avalon Series. Faust was based on a character I once played in Dungeons and Dragons. This character was my one and only perfectly rolled 18/00 strength. For those of you who don’t know what that is, that is the highest natural strength attribute for a D&D character. I never rolled one before, and this was a perfect roll. So I created a lawful evil, half-orc fighter who loved swords. He was proficient with every type of sword, and kept the swords of enemies he killed. He always claimed the most powerful swords for himself and kept them locked away in a vault as trophies.
I used this character as the basis for Abdel Ben Faust. Now, I don’t have Orcs in Avalon, so I made him a half-demon. I also gave him a cursed broad sword, Deathsong, which only he can wield. This weapon burned with an unnatural flame that only he could stand. It was the perfect weapon for a mercenary swordsman. Here is an excerpt from The Outlander War where we are introduced to Abdel Ben Faust.
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On Avalon, South Essex was known as a city of artisans. The finest craftsman could be found in South Essex of all mediums—wood, metalwork or canvas—as well as exceptional tailors, tinkers and tradesmen. It was a town full of the finest shops you could ever find, outside of New Camelot
In South Essex, the Black Swan was one of the most reputable taverns, with the best food, wine and spirits in the city. But even the best places can attract unsavoury characters.
Inside, the tavern was brightly lit with the glow of candlelight and roaring fires. The rooms were decorated in the finest silk drapes and tapestries of red and black. The décor lived up to the name, with as swans could be seen represented in various shapes and sizes from statues to wall sconces.
While the rest of the tavern was crowded, as usual, the back of the room was empty, save for one guest. The owner arranged this at the request of the guest, but also, so the other patrons wouldn’t be subjected to his company.
He sat alone with his back to the wall, gorging himself on rare roasted beef and bottles of 500-year-old Aldinian Whiskey. He appreciated spirits, especially rare ones, and he always came to the Black Swan whenever he was in town because they carried the best.
His name was Abdel Ben Faust, a mercenary by trade and considered by most as the finest swordsman on Avalon. His skin was reddish-brown. His long, black hair was pulled back tightly in a ponytail, exposing his pointed ears and long face. A scar ran from his left temple, across his nose and down his right cheek—a reminder of being cut from his mother’s womb. His moustache was long and thin, hanging down below his chin, which was where his true heritage showed through.
From there grew horns that resembled a goatee, twisted like braided hair. Abdel Ben Faust was a half-demon, the son of a witch and an Incubus, conceived during a blood moon in a magical ritual. His mother died while giving birth to him. He had to be cut from her womb by the same clerics that killed his demon father.
Faust was raised a slave, tormented regularly for his demonic form, but in his torment, grew strength and resolve. He moulded himself from slave to mercenary warrior, becoming a master swordsman available to the highest bidder.
He had avoided conflict with the Gil-Gamesh since his return to Avalon thanks to an innate ability from his demonic lineage. Faust could conjure ‘demon holes’ to move from place-to-place, unseen. Demon holes were doorways of black smoke, fire and brimstone. Only binding him in iron prevented him from using his power.
Faust came to South Essex to indulge his tastes while the Gil-Gamesh and the rest of the Knights of the Round Table moved to the coast to protect Avalon from the Outlanders. He knew there would be no trouble, coming to the Black Swan and drinking his fill, before moving on to his next job.
The curtain to the back room was pulled aside as young Finnick Devereaux, son of the Earl of South Essex, stepped in. The young man was nearly 50, young for a noble of Avalon. His dirty, blonde hair, dashing good looks and fine clothes endeared his upright lineage. He pulled a handkerchief from his inside pocket and waved it in front of his face, as he tried to dispel the stench coming from Faust.
“He is here, milord, just as I said,” Finnick said to someone behind the curtain. A robed, hooded figure stepped through, walking right past the young noble.
“Good. Leave us, Finnick, and make sure we are not disturbed,” the hooded figure said.
“Are you sure you want to do this, milord?” Finnick asked. “The last man who interrupted Abdel Ben Faust while he was eating had his head chopped off and tossed into a stew pot.”
“Not worry, I’ve come bearing gifts,” said the stranger, as he pulled a bottle from out of robe pocket. Finnick bowed and left the room, closing the drapes behind him.
The stranger walked up to Abdel’s table but stopped when the half-demon drew his sword and chugged down the last of the whiskey, resting his blade across the table. It was a broadsword, nearly four feet long, with a jagged edge etched along the top edge of the blade. Wisps of smoke curled from the sword, as if it were burning, and the runes etched deep into the blade glowed softly. This was Deathsong, a cursed blade that only Abdel Ben Faust could wield, and he did so very well.
“I’d think twice before sitting down,” Faust warned, as he finished his drink. The stranger just placed the bottle down in front of him. Faust dropped his own bottle to examine the gift.
“Can it be?” he exclaimed. “Panaque, distilled from the vines of the dryads of Meliai, over 4,000 years old!” He popped the cork and smelled the delicate bouquet of the fine spirit. He looked up at the stranger and nodded his head to the chair in front of him. The hooded figure sat down as Faust sheathed his sword and poured himself a drink.
“So, to what do I owe this honour and whom do I have to kill to keep this bottle?” he asked, as he took a sip of the delicious liquid.
“The bottle is yours, Abdel Ben Faust, a gift for listening to what I have to say,” he began. “But first, I have a question for you. Last year, when Morgana le Fay was resurrected, why were you not part of her forces at the Battle of Idlehorn Mountain? Surely a swordsman of your calibre could have turned the tide in her favour.”
Faust was insulted by the stranger’s accusation but let it pass. “Her cause was lost from the moment she began,” he scoffed, as he took another sip. The hooded man seemed irritated by his answer but just sat back and listened.
“She let the Gil-Gamesh live,” he said. “You don’t give someone like the Gil-Gamesh any glimmer of hope. She should have killed him when she had the chance. That’s always been the problem with despots like Kraven Darkholm and Morgana le Fay. They want that power, but they want to gloat about it in the process. That’s what got them killed.
“I don’t side with losing causes,” he concluded, as he downed the last of his drink. “I’ve answered your question, now you answer mine. What do you want?”
“I want you to lead an army to take Avalon out of the grips of the Pendragons and the Gil-Gamesh,” the stranger said without skipping a beat.
Faust just laughed under his breath. “Well, if you wait long enough, the damn Outlanders with all their technological weapons will do it for you.”
“Oh, I doubt that,” the stranger impugned. “If the Gil-Gamesh is as resourceful as you say, then all I should do is wait until he restores Avalon as it was before, hidden from the outside world. Then, we tear Avalon apart, taking the throne and killing him in the process.”
Faust was not convinced by the hooded stranger’s plan. He laughed again, as he poured himself another drink. “Well, in the first place, you’d need an army at least 10,000 strong,” Faust calculated. “Hell, the goblins don’t even have half that number anymore, and the trolls are all whipped lackeys for that shield maiden now. So where is this army you speak of?”
The stranger reached into his robe and pulled out a ruby amulet, still glowing from the strong magic he had imbued within it. Faust barely glanced at it, “What’s that supposed to be?” he asked.
“The key to controlling the most powerful army in creation, the Wraith Legion of Purgatory!” Abdel Ben Faust was stunned, aghast at the stranger’s claim. The Wraith Legion was an army of fallen knights, trapped in purgatory because of some dishonour or shame that fell upon them in life. They served a penance, keeping the demons of the underworld in check until they earned their place in Heaven.
Faust rolled his eyes. “No one can control the Wraith Legion. It’s impossible.”
“You can with this,” the stranger said, dangling the amulet. “With this amulet, they will follow your every command. You will be their General, Abdel Ben Faust, and you will conquer Avalon for me. In return, I will give you the Twin Swords of the Dragon Knight as payment, for your collection.”
It was well known that Abdel Ben Faust had, over time, collected the weapon of every knight, warrior and monster he bested in battle. He kept his collection hidden from prying eyes. He liked to savour every victory by looking at the weapons of his fallen enemies hanging on the walls of his vault. The swords of the Gil-Gamesh would be the centrepiece of his collection.
The stranger had intrigued Faust with his offerings but wasn’t convinced completely just yet. He needed to know something more. “Who are you?” the half-demon asked.
The hooded figure stood up and peeled back his hood. Faust recognised the face almost immediately. “You? You’ve been dead for centuries, millennia even! It can’t be!”
The stranger pulled the hood over his head and sat back down. “I assure you, it is me, Abdel Ben Faust. I have many machinations at work, but I need a general to lead my army. You are the one man I can entrust with this task because I know that you will only accept my offer if you believe it can succeed.
“So, will you join me?” he asked. Faust sat there, stroking his chin in contemplation. After a few moments, he raised his glass.
“When do we get started?”
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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse Publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available from Austin Macauley Publishing.