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I had a little free time yesterday, so I thought I'd try my hand at outlining a Romantic Realist drama, very loosely inspired by events from reality. So far, I've gotten through Act 1.

Criticism is welcomed, as are clever ideas and plot twists for Acts 2 and 3.


Act 1: Pageantry

Adventurous Erudito and his swashbuckling friends, Bruciata, Chienne, Gémissement and Oscillez, have been told by their good friends in the village that some of the villagers' loved ones have been brutally tortured while serving time for minor offenses in nearby Karandash prison. Erudito and his gallant pals discuss the matter, and they decide that Erudito, a very respected member of the community, should take the first step by investigating through official channels.

After much effort of wading through bureaucracy, venerable Erudito is allowed to visit Karandash, and he generally finds overly happy inmates who gush about how well they are treated. He suspects that they have been threatened to be on their best behavior during his visit, and to make no complaints. He thinks that his efforts have been wasted, but while he is being escorted through a darkened passageway, an inmate, whom Erudito recognizes as a former diplomat named Onschuldig, secretly passes a note to Erudito. Seeing fear in Onschuldig's eyes, Erudito hides the note in his robes and waits until after he has left the prison to read it.

The note claims that the abuse is much worse and more frequent than rumored, and that Prince Raserei, the Kings's only son and heir to the throne, often secretly visits Karandash for the thrill of watching his imprisoned political enemies being beaten. Erudito shares this disturbing news with his friends, and the youngest of them, Chienne, Gémissement and Oscillez, volunteer to seek employment at Karandash to gain more information.

During their interviews at Karandash, Gémissement comes across as displaying a level of arrogance which dramatically exceeds anything that his resumé would justify, and Oscillez comes across as a bit too distracted and withdrawn. Only Chienne is hired, and, being quite intelligent and able, she is quickly promoted from lowly guard to Guard Leader of the fourth floor of the prison's east wing. She tells Erudito, Bruciata, Gémissement and Oscillez that there may be occasional minor abuses, but, so far, the prison is a surprisingly pleasant place to work. Erudito and Bruciata begin to feel uneasy about the pride that Chienne seems to be taking in her new job.

Erudito secretly corresponds with Onschuldig and a few other inmates through their friends and families. The inmates share some information which supports Onschuldig's original claims, but they also express their hesitancy in revealing too many details for fear of being discovered and tortured. Erudito cautiously shares some of the inmates' information (while not revealing their names) with Bruciata, Chienne, Gémissement and Oscillez, hoping to get them to start thinking about what they might do about the abuse, and to inspire Chienne to be more diligent in watching for evidence of it.

Gémissement feuds with Bruciata because she has agreed with the publicly expressed opinion of one of her friends, Geifer, that Gémissement often makes a violent, drunken ass of himself (he no longer uses his swordsmanship to defend the innocent, but to threaten his fellow tavern patrons over their choices of which drinking songs to sing). Later, in a drunken rage, Gémissement's anger for Bruciata momentarily spills over onto Erudito for his refusal to choose a side in the matter (Erudito, focused on the more important issue of torture at Karandash and the prospect of a future malevolent monarch, wishes to remain friendly with both Gémissement and Bruciata -- he thinks that both will be needed to play important roles in exposing the abuse and possibly preventing a bleak future for the entire nation).

Chienne, now promoted to Assistant Overseer of the east wing at Karandash, also begins to feud with Bruciata because Bruciata has been very vocal in her suspicions about the Karandash staff -- people whom Chienne now considers her friends (not to mention her means to further advancement). Chienne declares that in her time at Karandash, she has never witnessed any abuses, and that even though she was unsure when she first sought employment at the prison, she is now certain that torture has never happened there. She scolds Bruciata for spreading vicious rumors about good people, and, even though Erudito has been much more careful than Bruciata in avoiding making accusations, it is clear that Chienne is becoming angry with him as well.

Chienne and Gémissement find common ground in their hatred for Bruciata and their irritation with Erudito. Spiteful Gémissement says that he finds Chienne's testimony about Karandash to be very convincing. Chienne and Gémissement's anger for Erudito increases since he is not swayed by Chienne's testimony or Gémissement's appraisal of it. They start to avoid Erudito and Bruciata, and become very friendly with the Karandash staff and their families.

Oscillez has occasionally joined Chienne and Gémissement in their social gatherings with the Karandash staff. He silently maintains some of his concerns about the rumors of torture, but is showing signs of being susceptible to Chienne and Gémissement's poses of righteousness. Erudito, while publicly trying to remain friendly, or at least civil, with angry Chienne and Gémissement, privately expresses his worries to Oscillez about the two. He fears that they may expose his communications with Onschuldig and the other inmates, placing them in great danger. Erudito cares deeply for naive Oscillez, and doesn't want to see him get hurt. He warns him to be careful around temperamental Chienne and Gémissement. Eventually Oscillez is no match for Chienne and Gémissement with their constant self-aggrandizement and their denunciations of others as cowardly and evil. In an effort to become a hero in their eyes, Oscillez informs them of Erudito's worries, and shows them some of the notes that Erudito had written about them.

Chienne and Gémissement make a flamboyant public display of claiming that Erudito has been lying to them about being their friend, and that, like Bruciata, he has been slandering Prince Raserei and the Karandash staff and inmates. Chienne proclaims that she has confirmed that Erudito is a liar. She says that she has spoken with the inmates, and all have denied that they had ever been tortured. She says that Onschuldig, the only inmate whom Erudito identified by name, admitted to having written to Erudito, but only to demand that Erudito stop irritating him with notes asking ridiculous questions about abuses that have never happened. Chienne says that she has written to Prince Raserei to inform him of the whispering campaign of lies that Erudito and Bruciata have waged against him, and of their desire to cast doubt on his worthiness to one day reign.

With much fanfare, Prince Raserei arrives at the village square, and, with Chienne, Gémissement and the Karandash staff in attendance, he places Erudito and Bruciata under arrest and publicly demands that they either produce proof of torture at Karandash, including evidence of Erudito's alleged correspondence with the unnamed inmates, or confess that they are liars. Raserei states that if they do neither, they will be found guilty of besmirching His Royal Character, as well as that of the Karandash staff and inmates, and will be sentenced to five years in Karandash prison. Then, in a gentler tone, Raserei says that since Erudito has been an outstanding member of the community, he will merely be censured if he immediately confesses to his lies, and that Bruciata will then be fully pardoned for having believed and spread them. Gémissement, echoing the prince's mock-benevolence, praises the prince's generosity, appeals to any shred of decency that might remain in his old friend Erudito, and begs him to redeem himself -- to rise from the evil depths to which he has fallen.

Act 2: Ravenous Karandash

Act 3: Heroes

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