Thursday, 7 March 2013

The Return of the Dark Lady - Part Two

Part Two of The Return of the Dark Lady - Part One.

You'd have screamed, too, if you'd seen the inside of that room.

When the minion finally calmed down enough to properly comprehend where its was, and remembered who was looking at it with a worryingly irritable expression on her face, it exchanged his screaming for whimpering.

The overlord gave it a disdainful look - evidently she was picking up on those faults the Professor for Submissive Behaviour had pointed out all too frequently during the minion's time at the Academy.

"M-My Apologies, O Foul One," the minion whined, ringing its hands so hard that, had it not been wearing the regulation mailed gloves, its hands might have fallen off.

"Neh," said the overlord, giving the quaking underling one last disdainful glance before sweeping across the room.

Or, rather, what was left of it. The walls were empty, but the floor was all-too-literally waist deep in ruins. The ruins of the walls, that is.

And the ruins of the minion might soon have been added to it, had its training not kicked in just in time to remind it to duck. A shield the size of a small horse whizzed through the air, its sharpened edges neatly removing two inches of hair from the top of the minion's head as it dived behind a sizable piece of rubble. Deeply-ingrained protocol shot to the forefront of the minion's mind - Rule number Twenty-Two, sub-section C, chapter ninety-nine of the Manual of Minionhood; in case of likely lethal projectiles, see Fig. A for correct course of appeasement . . . or was it Fig. B?

A second horrible crunch made the minon's decision for it. Curling up into the smallest possible ball it could manage, it put its head between its knees and started, very slowly, to count to ten. It wondered if it could beat the current record of getting to seven before encountering the inevitable Horrifically Grisly Death.

"Sorry. Never was much good with DIY."

The minion stopped counting - two seconds short, just two seconds! - and uncurled itself.

"Horrific Lady, I . . . what are you doing?"

"Eeeeeep!" said the Day's Doom, grimacing with almost comic extravagance as she hoisted a ten-foot  length of spiked silver railing over her head. However, it seemed, the railing had more nerve than two thirds of known world, and gave the Blightbringer a good clonk alongside the head before falling heavily to the ground on her toes.

The minion waited for the recommended ten minutes for the storm of hopping, shrieking and defenestration of nearby objects to end, then scuttled out over the rubble to offer its employer a tube of arnica cream. After a moment's hesitation, it also held out a slightly fuzzy toffee that it had been keeping in its pocket to suppliment its afternoon cup of coffee.

"Ffffffs," said the Empress of the Night, rubbing her bare foot between her hands. Although it would never say it aloud, the minion thought its employer's feet looked incredibly peculiar sticking out below the ornate black steel of her armoured greaves. Although they were not half as grand as her battle-dress, even her casual daywear had a way of making her look a lot bigger from a distance than she was up close.

"Knew I should have burned the instruction manual," she muttered at her toes, "not that would have helped - it'd probably have confused the fire too much to burn."

The minion found the guilty manual, it spine halfway torn off and several pages showing signs of scorching (and drowning, and something that looked suspiciously like teeth marks). It flipped it open curiously, and glanced at a page.


The manual was the sort that proved a universal truth: never attempt to assemble furniture sent to you by an acquaintance that you have defeated in a game of Evil Scrabble within the past two millenia.

And so it was that, after a few more minutes of foot-rubbing and a quick trip down to the kitchens for a packet of chocolate biscuits, that the minion found itself sitting on a large chunk of rubble, nursing a cup of tea while its mistress explained the reason for her recent horrific mood.

Suffice to say the tale was long and engrossing, full of toil and struggle and ill-fated creative endeavour, but at the end of it all it simply boiled down to the Arch-Defiler's ineptitude at tasks involving anything more complicated than a screwdriver.

A peculiar parcel had arrived unexpectedly, early in the morning of the day before the first Day of Ugh had commenced. It was this parcel that contained the railing, as well as the curtain it was supposed to hold - the minion saw that it had since been relegated to a corner, underneath one patch of wall that was still standing. Within the first page of the assembly manual there had been a letter from Lord Snark -  a sour-faced Perpetrator of the Lesser Nasties who was still brave enough to inhabit the lands within a year's ride of the Dark Lady's fortress. He acceeded to her superiority at Evil Scrabble (a game she enjoyed inflicting on people whom she had to pretend to like an awful lot more than she did), but dared to offer her another challenge . . . assemble the curtain rail within the week, and send him a picture of proof. Surely, read heavily italicised closing paragraph, she could not fail to complete so easy a challenge as this? Especially, if she did, she had the option to send him a similar challenge in return.

The results of the challenge were obvious, and it did not take much creativity on the minion's part to work out how its mistress felt about the whole affair. Well, perhaps not the whole of it. She'd probably have set fire to something in that case.

"Well," said the minion cautiously, "I'm sure some of the catapult technicians might be able to help, and maybe if we bring up a couple of trolls to stand on . . ."

"Naaaaaah," the High Villainess flapped her hands dismissively at the desolation around her, "bored now."

And with that, she ordered the flabbergasted underling to take the railing down to the dungeons and have the rest repackaged and sent to somewhere where it could ellicit a suitably amusing reaction of panic from those who found it.

Then she declared she was going for a swim.

The minion finished its biscuit, waited until it could hear the shrieks of fear as the braver members of the domestic staff saw their employer emerging from her seclusion and stride off in the direction of the pools, and then made his way to the nearest telephone.

"Hello? Is this Lord Snark? Yes, she got the curtains - didn't break as much as we thought she would. Yeah, I know, it's really a bit disappointing. Ah well. Next time we'll definitely should go for the shelving units. You know what she's like about those."



  1. Well... This was rather confusing, frankly. It doesn't seem to follow your earlier piece in story. I thought it was a direct continuation, but I was wrong. Also, things felt a little... off. I didn't see what was going on until the very end. It might have been my inability to interpret the acronym DIY-- I had to Google it eventually. I didn't get the sense that Lord Snark had sent anything, nor that they were curtains, nor that the Dark Lady was trying to assemble anything in particular. In your first two stories, you added backstory wherever you wanted it, whereas in this one you only gave glimpses, and the ending plot twist was much less effective. Additionally, the Dark Lady just talked too much. In the first story, she utters a grand total of seven words (I counted). In the second, she utters one. In this, she is positively loquacious. You set her up as the silent type, and abruptly knocked it down. That isn't the sort of upset you use as a plot twist.

    All that aside, I did love this one, once I got to know it. I was positively shocked when I saw your regulations specification: "chapter twenty-two, section C..." I specified that same rule last night when I was noodling around with the short story I was telling you about. Amazing. I'll have to change mine.

    By the way, the sentence length was much better this time.

    1. Whoops. I guess I got a bit rushed towards the end - they were making me go for a RUN. In the RAIN. To EXERCISE.

      I think I shall avoid two-parters in future; I got distracted in the middle and forgot to give the relevant backstory and tried to cover it up with a plot twist in the end. Ugh. Come on Charley, you're supposed to be good at this writing thing!

      Will make some amendments - but I'm glad I got that sentence problem down this time! xP

      As for that regulation specification . . . what is this sorcery!?

    2. I was probably mistaken in putting the sections within the chapters-- chapters should be within sections, right?

  2. Well, when you can't critique the style, critique the spelling. "Appeasement" accidentally hid three P's, and an extra e snuck into "acceded". Have fun looking for them.

    But this was much better. Those extra paragraphs of backstory were definitely worth it. Though they slow the thing down a little, I think you took the same risk in the first and second stories as well. It's so much better, though. Good job!

    1. Oh blast it - this is why I almost regret turning off the spelling checker on Safari *sighs*

      Glad I managed to fix it up, though! I do hope there'll be less mess made in future installments. If I ever get around to those :P

    2. Future installments? Whoopie!

    3. Heh heh, oh yes. I have far too much fun with this to stop xD

    4. I feel the same way about reading it!