The Henchmen are the face of the true villain of The Good Adventurers. Today I will be interviewing all three, so grab your cup of tea or coffee and settle in, cause it’s a longish one.
First, Helmut Sachs.
He changed his surname recently. It’s definitely less outlandish than the old one, so it is an improvement. Personally, I think he sounds a little like a fashion designer now. But don’t let that deceive you. 😉
Peter was closing the window when he heard hurried footsteps below him. They pounded up the stairs and the trap flew open. Sachs was upon him before he could rise, roaring all manner of things in German. Peter was not afraid of his face any longer; scars could not hurt him. But muscle could, and Sachs had plenty of it, which he dished out in frequent, painful servings. He pinned Peter to the floor, and next thing he knew he had tossed him on the straw before the window, bound hand and foot.
“Das gör,” he spit, and as he was descending Peter heard him say in German: “I hope we get paid well when we’re finished with him.”
-From The Good Adventurers, by Lydia Carns
Where are you from and what is your background? Education?
I was born to an upper middle class family and grew up on the outskirts of Berlin. I had an older sister and an older brother. My brother and I attended a private academy in the city. He took on the family business; I went to college at Leipzig. It was there at the University that I discovered my love for Mensur, academic fencing.
From there, how did you fall into the lifestyle that would lead to you being a wanted man?
With the academics, I rose to fame at Leipzig and surrounding schools for my bold approach to Mensur. I became known as ‘Der Mann, der niemals einen Rückzieher‘ ‘The man who never backed down’. I was very proud of it, and that is where I earned my first scars. In my homeland, Mensur scars were considered a mark of honor and bravery, and I was considered very handsome.
Have you ever loved anyone?
Elena, the sister of one of my schoolmates. We fell in love, but her family was more honorable than mine and they did not want us to marry. That was the cause for which her brother challenged me to a duel. I accepted in due course. He had a devious plan, however, and took the fighting further than I would have put to him. I was determined that I would stand my ground unflinchingly, refusing to put my record on the line. It cost me the left side of my face. When I recovered, I was still recognizable, but he had transformed me into a shocking spectacle. I was truly horrified.
I arranged a secret meeting with Elena. Though pitying, she refused flat out to marry me. I was furious, and from that moment forward I began to watch for my chance. When it came, I murdered her brother and made it clear that it was I that had done it. Elena had the misfortune of stumbling in on the work while it was still unfinished. I was a crazy man by that point, and before I had time to think what I was doing, she was dead.
So I loved, but I hated, too, and the hate was stronger than the love.
What is your connection to Heinrich von Werden?
We went to Leipzig University together. After the murder, I knew I had to leave Germany immediately. I also knew Heinrich had money, so I went straight to him. I only told him that I was in trouble, but he pressed me into a full confession. I thought he would turn me in to the police, but instead he told me that he would give me money if I went to Berlin and killed his brother. I was taken aback, but he would not help me any other way. I did my best to carry out his commands, but I failed to shoot Bertram fatally. Heinrich still gave me the money afterward because my capture would mean that his role in the assassination attempt would be revealed as well. (I would not keep that from the police if he turned me over to them.) I stretched a little under a thousand marks [about £50] far enough to get myself to South West Africa. Heinrich went to jail, while I spent the next twelve years roaming the veld, learning the ways of the natives. I would have hung had I not been there, but I’m sure that at times I was out of my mind.
So you might say we had common ground.
Why did you come back to Europe if it would put you in danger?
I returned after twelve years in Africa because I was homesick. I tried keeping an alias, but I was far to recognizable. I could not even believe myself that I was another person.
Do you believe that your mission was justified?
I was completing the job I began in Berlin. I freely admit that wasn’t right, but I was terrified of hanging and as long as I did what Werden wanted he would not tell on me.
After so long, it became my way of life. It was crippling to me at first, to know that I would never take a job, start a family, and that I probably would not die peacefully in my old age. Eventually, I cast those things aside as nominal and at length a criminal life became my ‘normal’.
However, I take responsibility for the notes. As far as I know, Werden knew nothing of them. To send them was my choice. I was still a gentleman at my roots, and I had to play at least somewhat fair.
What is something interesting about you?
More interesting than my history? Not much. I’m ambidextrous. I suppose some might find that interesting. I’m more inclined to use my left, but I use my right when trying to disguise my handwriting. For example, when I wrote the notes to Werden’s brother. Or when I think I’m under surveillance. It comes in handy sometimes.
Sorry, Herr Sachs. The pun is staying.
Next, Friedrich Muth
(He also had a surname switcharoo recently.)
“Who cut the ropes on the bridge?”
Their prisoner’s eyes narrowed with defiance. Max repeated himself.
“I say, what strange names these fellows have! Who is he?” demanded Max.
“He’s Muth. A nobody.”
-From The Good Adventurers, by Lydia Carns
What is your history?
I parted ways with my widowed mother to fend for myself as a boy. I did not want to make the sacrifice to provide for her and my siblings. I wanted to be rich. I learned to do anything for money. It started with pickpocketing–but then I made my way across the border to Switzerland. Gambling was illegal in the German States, but not in Switzerland, and I started a long journey of highs and lows. I would be very rich one day, penniless the next. That is the life of a gambler.
Who have you loved?
I loved my teacher, Maria, more than anyone in the world. When I had to give up going to school I was heartbroken. She was the one who gave me a glimpse of what I could be. After that, wealth was the only way to rise out of poverty.
Who have you hated?
The men whose team I was to be a part of. Helmut was Werden’s crony. I was taken on to begin with as an accomplice to Sachs because he wanted a right hand man. I accepted because I had gaming debts. Werden payed them off in exchange for my services. I regretted that from the start. I would have a thousand times rather been free and hunted and a pawn in someone’s hand. Franzi (Blumenstein) and I both were outsiders in the operation. I was deeper in the criminal activity, but not necessarily closer to Werden. My class background was the lowest of the three of us who were working for him, and they did not view me very highly. I was bitter over that and pushed myself to further bounds of violence to gain their respect.
But I hated Werden most of all. We all did, for how he trapped us into killing his relatives. To spite him, Sachs and I eventually formed an agreement between ourselves that we would not outright kill anyone, but I think if matters had gone on any longer we might have had to. And our victim would have been him.
What is your spiritual state?
By nature I am very superstitious. My mother was a religious woman, (Roman Catholic) and her piety made me uncomfortable, even after years had passed since we parted ways. I hated that because it alone made me feel weak and helpless, the last trait I wanted others to see in me. I don’t believe in God or the afterlife. It’s easier to believe in nothing.
And, last, but definitely not least, Franz Blumenstein.
He was quick, but he could still hear footsteps pursuing him. They caught up at the next corner. Peter pressed onward. He was not going to be butchered if he could help it. His pursuer groped for Peter and missed, but Peter’s feet were growing numb. He stumbled and the man managed to grab his ankle as he fell. Peter recognized the silent, sullen young man who had championed him earlier as he hit the ground. Then for the second time the dumb spoke, and what he said was most surprising.
“Run—I will divert them!”
-From The Good Adventurers, by Lydia Carns
Of the threesome, you seem like the least likely villain of the Henchmen. How did you get caught up in this?
Despite having no family, I was blessed to receive a good education in the orphanage where I was brought up. I went to work in a watch shop when I finished and there I met Werden, when he brought his watch for cleaning and repair. Many tourists came to the village where I grew up and I learned to speak good English from them. I also gained from that experience a strong desire to travel. Werden struck up a casual friendship with me. I was only a boy, and very naive, and I didn’t stop to take as second thought when he suggested that he had a job for me which promised travel and good money in exchange for my loyalty and skills as an interpreter. He could be very suave when he wanted.
I dove right in, and though I was taken back by the characters I was to interpret for, I told myself many strange things happen.
The rest, as they always say, is history.
When did you begin to have a change of heart?
While Sachs and I were looking on as Muth was playing saboteur. It took all my willpower not to stop him and I have never forgiven myself for what I allowed to happen. I acted sullen on account of it, but I would not tell the others what my problem was. After witnessing their heartlessness I worried they would do away with me.
But I decided to have nothing more to do with them.
Under cover of darkness and a God-sent storm I made my escape. I started to give away the plans the next morning after being caught trespassing, but I realized they would not vouch for me and because of the nature of the crimes I was accomplicing I would be incarcerated, or maybe even hanged. That frightened me enough to break out, but I don’t know what led me to return to Werden. At the time I wanted my pay, but I think God led me back as he had put the life of Werden’s nephew on my conscience.
Who is your dearest friend?
Clara von Werden was my mentor throughout the few months we knew each other, almost like a mother or a sister to me. We were really two tormented souls with the same problem–a problem we were almost powerless to make right. She truly was, as she was defenseless if it ever came to the point of answering to her husband for her actions. It makes me cringe to think of how paralyzing it must have felt. I was more able to aid the cause for good than she was. I should have done more.
What is your favorite color?
I would say white, or diamond, because it is the color of snow, which reminds me of my boyhood in the Alps, and purity. But some would argue that white is not a color, so I will say green. It is the color of life, and peace, and Clara von Werden’s eyes.