Written by: Jasmine Groves

The din of hundreds of guests gossiping and dancing seeped through the wall even this far into the house, but nothing could distract the men.

The ball had been billed the crush of the season, but for five men deep inside Hilden Mansion, sitting around an immense mahogany table, under the flickering light of a chandelier there was more afoot than fans and dancing.

Each lord had a reason to be there, motivated to attend for their own purpose – the tension in the room could be cut by a knife.

Slouched back in a leather chair, feet on table, contemplating the others, Lord Castleroy reached up and fingered his moustache, then leaned forward to pick up his snifter of brandy. The others watched in silence, each sitting there in immaculate dinner dress in deep colours and rich fabrics which highlighted their stations.

Castleroy was in no hurry to speak as he contemplated the others, turning his piercing blue eyes to each at the table. Lord Stewart was to his right, a little rotund in stature and thoroughly wealthy from mineral investments. Lord Stanley sat across from him, old money and handsome as the devil himself.

These two didn’t bring any immediate concern to Castleroy, he had been to school with both and would trust them with his life. The other two, however, were an unknown quantity.

Gazing stiffly back, with eyes black like coals Lord Drury sat rigid in his seat. He lifted his glass as if in a toast to Castleroy. His lips turned at the corners almost in a smile, but it did not reach his intense gaze.

A rustle to his left and Castleroy turned to his last guest. Handsome, in a boyish way, a rake and a rogue, a card player, investor and entrepreneur, the richest of the lot… Lord Meredith.

Lord Meredith had considered not answering the summons to be at Hilden Mansion that night. He had other plans at his men’s club, but given the crush in the ballroom all his prey were frolicking on the dance floor, so he wouldn’t have made much coin for those left at the club.

A chair scraped back and Lord Castleroy stood, the tails of his great coat falling down his thighs, his shoulders broader than what was strictly thought of as elegant for a gentlemen, the cut of his leather boots the height of fashion.

“My compatriots.” He paused for effect, once again looking at each in turn. “While others enjoy the gathering, we are here for a much greater cause. It is on us to protect the safety of the nation so our peers can dance, laugh and love without a care in the world.”

“This task, this thing we have been asked to do, will take us on a journey and will take us to the edge of our endurance and will lay bare our weaknesses.

“Are you brave enough to stay and hear what has been laid upon us?”


Writing Order: Ray Stone (Cyprus), Abhimanyu Jamwal (India), Hemali Ajmera (India), Jasmine Groves (NZ), Suraya Dewing (NZ), Suraya Dewing (NZ), Joe Labrum (USA), Hemali Ajmera (India), Ant GavinSmits (Samos), Jasmine Groves (NZ)


I love a challenge like this. We have no idea what the writer has in mind but has left us with an era and characters. Now what are they up to? A new way to start a serial? It has certainly given me an idea. A great idea, Jasmine, and so well written as a taster. Loved it.
Thanks Ray, I wanted to build some characters and set a scene, but not to develop the story line and let the next writers take it from here, so great that you like it, looking forward to reading your first chapter
What a wonderful style of starting a story Jasmine - no fixed story idea to start with. This will make the other authors work harder, especially Ray who has to set the tone for a tangible story. I loved your characterization of Lord Castleroy and the description of the ambiance in which the story is unfolding. Great read.
I agree, what fun to start with a blank slate. I have an idea where I would like to take it. Let's see where Ray goes. It will be interesting to see if we have similar ideas or totally different. I love it.