Excerpt - the painting
Art by me.
There was so much red. It could be found all over the artwork, from the curtains in the background to the contours of his face. Even his armour contained thin streaks of crimson paint, mimicking a reflection so lifelike that the painting became more than just a mass of carefully placed pigments on canvas. He stretched out his hand towards the image, expecting to feel the cold, smooth metal of his chestplate. The red that covered it didn't look like paint anymore, but blood.
'Sir, please do not touch; it's not completely dry.'
Doran blinked, then lowered his hand and turned to the voice. Mister Vandermeer stood next to the painting, wobbling up and down on the balls of his feet while his fingers played with a loose thread of his sleeve. The shirt would have had a cut and quality fit for a nobleman, if it hadn't been for that minor flaw - and the washed out stains of paint that could be found from the wrist up to the elbow, of course.
Doran couldn't permit such blemishes. He had donned the same armour as the one depicted in the artwork for this final fitting, and like the painted version, it was perfect. All new marshals of the Holy Army were portrayed as if they were invincible in battle and they did so in style. Doran’s suit had such intricate swirls in its metal that Mister Vandermeer had to take a piece with him to study its shine and colour in his atelier.
He wished the artist had taken and kept every piece of the armour. He didn’t need the suit anyway; it merely proofed who he was, the monstrous being he had to become to earn his status. The artist seemed to know that, based on his fitting choice of colour.
‘The red,’ Doran said with a low voice, ‘why did you use so much of it?’
Mister Vandermeer scratched his balding head. ‘Eh, well, it’s to give the painting some warmth, sir. The metal of your armour reflects the light in a rather direct way, and I wanted to compensate for the icy feeling the painting otherwise would have.’
Doran snorted softly. Cleverly formulated. We both know the armour is not to blame.
His gaze went to the portrait’s eyes. Irises like a winter storm looked back, cold and menace lurking in their stare. No wonder people preferred not to make eye contact with him.
Perhaps if I smiled more…
He wasn't good at that, though. It wouldn't be fitting either, at least not for this day; he had plans. Plans that could obliterate a smile on someone's face in less than a heartbeat.
This is from the prologue of the second book, a snippet I never planned. I just wanted to paint one of my characters in the style of Rembrandt (as far as I can do that). That painting became such a source of inspiration it ended up in my story twice. And it made so much sense, because I needed a reason for Doran to wear armour on this day. Funny how ideas work like that.