Falcrion stood by a window, glancing down at the rider advancing on Screaming Girl Mountain. The rider halted his mount before the tall obsidian gates. Two gargantuan nightmare creatures walked up to the man, their halberds raised high.
A smirk played on the lips of Hypnosia's most infamous villain, as the screams of the mailman echoed off the mountain's face.
One would think that when their employees developed a habit of not returning from their assignments to Screaming Girl, or returned in several pieces, that the post office would stop sending them over; obviously an advanced level of bureaucracy was doing a fine job rotting some brains. Either that or the mail couriers were infected with a serious case of foolish bravery.
The sound of fabric being torn apart interrupted Falcrion's deliberation on the tenacity of the Hypnosian postal service. He turned to see a hairy dragon, the size of an extremely large dog, tearing away at a customised sofa.
"Snuggles, no! Bad demon spawn!" Falcrion hurried to shoo the infant dragon away from the now ruined sofa.
Snuggles the Destroyer, a demon dragon pup, had ended up in Screaming Girl as a result of a botched summoning. Unable to return the bestial creature to the Void from whence it came, Falcrion was forced to keep Snuggles around as something of a pet, albeit a pet who ate horses and small trolls and breathed fire.
Snuggles let out a disappointed purr and sulked away, chewing on an armrest he had managed to pull off before Falcrion had disturbed his play.
Falcrion sighed and looked at the sofa's remains: this was the third one this week. Snuggles was rapidly chewing a hole into his budget. Having to almost single-handedly run the Forces of Evil in a country filled with heroes bent on destroying him was hard enough without having to deal with the difficulties of housetraining a demon dragon. If it was not for the fact that Annyigrade, the Goddess and Source of Evil, had a liking for hairy dragons, Falcrion would have slain Snuggles the moment he crawled out of the Void and into Falcrion's life.
Personally, he saw no point in having a pet; they were, if anything, an emotional liability. The only pet a villain could get away with these days was a snake, and he for one was not going to get caught in the vogue of dressing a snake up and carrying it around in a small bag.
The door to the Base of Evil opened, and Moldy, the leader of the nightmare creatures, stepped in. "My lord, I have brought you your mail."
"There had better be no ads among them, or I shall disembowel one of the guards." Falcrion raised his brow dramatically.
"I assure you, sir, all of the ads have been removed and thrown to the Oven of Chasms. Oh, and the guards were wondering about what they should do with the remains of the mailman."
"I do not care as long as the corpse's fate is a gruesome one. Stick his head on a pike or something."
"My lord, I'm afraid that all the pikes are being used already."
"Well then..." Falcrion took the papers and envelopes Moldy was holding out and mused. "Put the head and severed limbs into the trebuchet and have them flung to the nearest village."
"Good choice, my lord." Moldy bowed and exited the base.
Falcrion leafed through the mail. It was the usual stack of death threats, bills for various morbid items, legal summons for crimes against all races, complaints, and the latest issue of Evil Quarterly. Tossing the rest of the mail aside, he settled into an armchair, which was luckily lacking in tears and chewmarks, and opened the magazine. Perusing through the index, his sharp eyes landed on his own name.
"Ah, about time. The Quarterly has not made mention of me for far too long."
Without paying further attention to the article's title, Falcrion turned to the right page. But when his gaze fell on the title, his face twisted into an expression of shock. There, printed in bold letters above the article itself, read "Where Falcrion's Grip Falters".
"What is this blasphemy?" Falcrion shouted, his face losing its usual pallor and turning red.
Seething, Falcrion read the article, his nails digging ever deeper into the paper as he went on. After each paragraph, he would pause to mutter foul words at the text, as if he could scare it to change then and there.
Once he had cursed and fumed his way through the article, he threw the magazine to the floor. "Flamma crematore!"
The offending publication burst into flames and quickly turned into a pile of ashes.
"How dare those thankless swine question me in such a way?"
Falcrion looked at Snuggles, who responded by hanging his tongue out of his mouth.
"Those traitors! After I went through all the trouble to kill their families and torch their homes, all to help steer them towards the path of unrighteousness. Is this how I am repaid for generations of death, devastation and horror? What possible grounds do they have to second-guess my evilness?"
Snuggles laid down on the remains of the sofa and yawned.
"They claim that I do all of my deeds merely for show… That I lack true motivation…" Falcrion rubbed his forehead. "I have more deaths to my name than all the wars and plagues in the history of the world! When did life lose its value?"
Falcrion leaned back in his chair. Well, his old mentor, who he subsequently murdered, had told him that being a villain was an unrewarding profession. The heroes, for all their repulsive virtues, knew how to stick together. Meanwhile, it was obvious that the villainous community was ripe with backstabbing, and Falcrion felt like there was a huge meat cleaver stuck to his spine.
Falcrion sighed and turned his face to the door. "Moldy!"
Soon the nightmare creature was standing at the entrance. "You shrieked, my lord?"
"Yes." Falcrion stood up and walked to stare out of the window overlooking the approach to Screaming Girl's gates. "It would appear that my colleagues have reservations about my legendary wickedness."
"Really? What would give them that idea?"
"Who knows? I cannot fathom the inner workings of these modern villains."
"If I could speak boldly, my lord. Perhaps you should demonstrate your capacity to them. A random malevolent act should help the situation."
Falcrion spread his hands, looking over his shoulder at Moldy. "But what deed could I do that I have not already enacted? I have tortured, raped, killed, destroyed, conquered, corrupted… I was even a judge in a kingdom wide talent show! I would have to devise something new and imaginative, two words which do not describe me well. Where is my majordomo? Terrin has always been talented in devious plans."
"Aah, yes." Moldy produced a small piece of paper and looked through it. "I believe she has taken another sabbatical."
Falcrion groaned. "Has she run off to the city to see that new paramour of hers?"
"That could well be the case, my lord."
Falcrion frowned. He did not approve of his second-in-command's sudden interest in pursuing a romantic relationship. He had never seen the significance of love affairs; the very thought of love sickened him. He had no time for sentimental confessions of undying love, flowers or candlelight dinners that did not include roasting someone on a spit.
Though there was one person that Falcrion did feel a smidgen of affection towards, even though it was a purely parental kind of affection.
"What about my daughter? One should think that the modern youth would be equipped with enough imagination."
"Lady Fri'Ishal informed me that she's gone clubbing for the weekend," Moldy said. "Which is strange, because she was not carrying any kind of bludgeoning device, unless you count her Purse of Holding."
"With all the things women put in their purses, they should weigh as much as any flail." Falcrion chuckled. "Still, this does nothing to assist me in my endeavour."
"Then, my lord, perhaps you should consider the help of a professional consultant."
Falcrion spun around, his eyes bulging from their sockets. "Never! All those self help experts and public relations consultants are the worst sort of charlatans. I will not waste my funds on their kith, not after they deceived me the last time. The ignominy! It took me great effort to hide knowledge of the occurrence from the media. Take it from me, Moldy, never become notorious like me."
"I don't have such aspirations, sir. I've found it safer, as a henchman, to lack ambition."
"Wise choice, you may just outlive your predecessor. Scabby was too uppity for his own good. I just had to educate him, by making him regurgitate his own intestines. " Falcrion felt a tug at the hem of his black robe and reached down to pat Snuggles absentmindedly.
"My lord," Moldy said, a sudden look of discernment on his face. "Have you ever killed something that was the last of its kind?"
Falcrion blinked, a spark making his mind burst into flames of inspiration. "No… I do not think that I have. But what could be more perfect?"
Overcome with malicious joy, Falcrion threw his head back and laughed. His strident voice ringing off the stone walls of the Base. Then a sharp pain struck him in the jaw and he bent down, clutching the lower half of his face.
"What's wrong, sir?" Moldy rushed to Falcrion's side.
"Oh, Mother of Pits… I almost dislocated my jawbone from sheer euphoria. Make a note, Moldy, I should not let myself be overcome with joy, it is not beneficial to my health."
"Will do, my lord. But what about my suggestion?"
"Yes, that thing! I will do the most vile kind of slaughter imaginable, the slaughter of an entire species. Not only will I deprive a creature of its life, but deprive the world of something truly unique. Oh, how glorious!" Falcrion had to contain the smile that was threatening to spread on his face. "You are a genius, Moldy."
"Thank you, sir. From what I've heard, there is only one specimen of the Great Southern Hypnosian Purple Horned Slug left in the world."
"A slug?" Falcrion frowned, his hand moving to scratch Snuggles behind his ear. "Well, I suppose extinction is extinction all the same."
"Don't worry, sir. The Great Southern Hypnosian Purple Horned Slug is an impressive creature. A gigantic slug that is prized for its mucus and enchanting mating call."
"You know much about molluscs, Moldy. Very well. I shall deal the moist kiss of death upon the Great Southern Hypnosian Purple Horned Slug!"
"My lord, you might recall that my kind derives from slugs. I used to be interested in genealogy and the Great Southern Hypnosian Purple Horned Slug is one of my direct ancestors."
As his elation slowly reach its denouement, Falcrion reflected on the upcoming splendour of committing extinction. In the duration of his long and relatively successful career, he had never heard of anyone causing the untimely demise of an entire species. Sure, he and others had conspired to bring the end of the world, but these days most villains recognised that as nothing more than a fanciful pipe dream, that would, if realised, ultimately be a hindrance to future wrongdoings.
Yes, Falcrion mused, destroying only a specific part of life as opposed to all life, was a new and inventive angle.
"Moldy, seeing as you have acquainted yourself with the Great Southern Hypnosian Purple Horned Slug, you can inform me as to where I may find the last of your forefathers."
"Yes, I can. The last Great Southern Hypnosian Purple Horned Slug lives in the south-western corner of the Plain of Mares, in the Marsh of Moisture."
"Then that is where I shall travel, to pour my metaphorical salt upon that most rare of slugs!" Falcrion raised his right hand up, his long sleeves flapping around. "I call on the Powers of Evil to take me onto the Marsh of Moisture! Oh Wicked Magic, heed my call!"
A whirling mist engulfed Falcrion's body. But just as it was about to pull the fiend through space, something large and fluffy rammed itself against him.
It was too late to eject the demon dragon and so Falcrion found himself laying on damp moss, with Snuggles on top of him.
"You are determined to ruin my life further, are you not?" Falcrion moaned beneath the mass of fur and scales.
Snuggles yapped excitedly and bounced off Falcrion, who pulled himself up from the soggy ground and surveyed their surroundings. While it had been some time since he last laid his cold gaze on a marsh, he knew one when he saw one. Or rather smelt one. There was no mistaking the penetrating stench of rotting plant life, swamp gasses and awful damp air. One time, Falcrion had even sought to replicate the repulsive smell in Screaming Girl, but after months of failed experiments and lethal gas-leaks he had given up that quest.
"Now, how does one call forth a mollusc?" Falcrion glanced at Snuggles, who was splashing around in a puddle of bog-water. "I do not desire to spend too long a time here. The longer I linger, the more my colleagues will begin to doubt me."
Falcrion strode on the patches of exposed moss, avoiding the puddles. The Marsh of Moisture, while impressive, could not hold a ghost light to the Corpse Bogs where Falcrion had spent many summers as a lad, poking at the titular corpses with sticks and drowning small creatures in the murky water.
Suddenly he heard an ethereal, soft howl ringing across the wetlands. The howl ebbed like some inexplicable, vocal whirlpool. Then it rose from the reeds and moss, its slimy skin gleaming in the sunlight; the Great Southern Hypnosian Purple Horned Slug. If Falcrion had been the sort of person to be awed by invertebrates, his breath would definitely have been taken away at the sight of this height of gastropod evolution.
The slug waved its head, its long optical tentacles spread out. Another howl emitted from its mouth and it lowered back onto the ground.
Falcrion advanced on the massive slug, a smirk of anticipated victory creeping to his face. "Now then, my exceptional prey, prepare for your demise…"
The slug slithered forward, ignoring Falcrion.
"Yes, try to flee! But all of your efforts to save your mucus-covered skin is for nought!" Falcrion laughed. "The bitter and clammy claws of death draw near, and as they close in around you, the last thing you will behold is my triumphant face!"
The slug's sensory tentacles brushed Falcrion's boots and it turned its head to evade him.
"Ah!" Falcrion drew back. "You have sullied my footwear! You are only quickening your own passing!"
For a moment Falcrion watched the Great Southern Hypnosian Purple Horned Slug glide along. Finally, he sighed; the creature obviously did not appreciate his villainous speech. So, without further posturing, Falcrion produced his well-concealed sword out of his cape and decapitated the slug. Intestinal goo flew out of the headless body as it twitched around in its death spasms, covering Falcrion in a layer of glue-like substance.
Falcrion examined the severely blemished sleeves of his robe and sheathed his sword. "I suppose my wardrobe must make this ultimate sacrifice for the sake of professional credibility. At least I have achieved my goal and I quite literally have the Great Southern Hypnosian Purple Horned Slug‘s blood all over myself. I shall have to have one of the nightmare creatures retrieve the carcass for an appropriate ad campaign."
Snuggles trotted next to the slain slug and sniffed at the carcass. He wrinkled his snout and moved to sit next to Falcrion.
"Yes, Snuggles, savour the stench of successful conquest. If the people at Evil Quarterly do not think me at the vanguard of villainy now, I shall just have to bombard their office and deface the grave of a virgin. Actually, I should do that anyway. How about it, Snuggles?" Falcrion gave the dragon an affectionate pat on the head. "Shall we sally forth and cause some further mayhem in the world?"
Snuggles wagged his tail as Falcrion prepared to return to Screaming Girl and plot the destruction of Evil Quarterly's editorial staff and random virginal gravesites. For once, fortune had smiled upon the twig-pile of evil.
Stories and artwork Copyright 2009-2010 by Mette Pesonen. Copying in whole or in part is prohibited. However, you may link to this page.
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