The commotion could be heard on most of the levels inside Screaming Girl Mountain. However, it did not take Falcrion long to pinpoint the origin of the shouts, crashes, and bangs.
His long black cape billowing around him, the most terrifying villain of Hypnosia marched down a corridor. At the very end he could see a crowd of his nightmare creature guards milling around a door while dust and debris came flying out of the room.
The commanding silhouette of Moldy, the leader of the nightmare creatures, approached Falcrion halfway down the corridor.
"Sir!" Moldy called. "I must protest. My men and I are at our wits end with that… whatever you want to call him."
Falcrion raised a critical eyebrow. "Surely the guards can manage the presence of Bleak in the mountain."
"Not, if he keeps acting like that." Moldy shook his head. "He butchered five of the guards because they were staring at him! Next he tore off the arms of one the attendants who was bringing him breakfast. At this rate, he’ll have hacked his way through all of the staff by the end of the week. We‘ve already been forced to extend the blood gutters to this level." Moldy nodded his head at the grooves running along the floor. With all the bloodshed, both random and premeditated, that occurred within Screaming Girl, having a means to direct the flow of spilled blood out of the mountain had become a necessity. However, as much of the heavy-duty bleeding took place in the non-residential levels, the gutters had previously only extended to the first five floors.
"How is it, that I was not informed of this renovation?" Falcrion asked, sidestepping the fact that he himself had failed to notice it until now.
"You were occupied with the preparations for the Sinister Symposium."
"Ah, of course. Good of you to take the initiative, Moldy."
A chair was thrown out of the room, impaling one of the slower guards. An immense heap of fur and scales came pounding out of the room, claws scraping against the stone floors. On top of the heap sat Bleak, his shabby, grey coat flapping in the air.
"Is he riding Snuggles?" Falcrion asked as the masked man and the demon dragon ran past.
"Yes," Moldy sighed. "It appears that Bleak decided that Snuggles is an appropriately un-adorable mount for him."
Falcrion folded his hands. "But Snuggles is my mount. I am the one who summoned him—"
"—from the Void. It was I who housetrained that monstrosity and I who deemed him a worthy evil mount, especially after he ate the riding instructor."
"Well, sir, I guess you’ll have to take the matter up with Bleak." Moldy smirked.
Falcrion shook his head, there was very little sense in negotiating with someone as pathologically uncompromising as Bleak. "The staff and I will have to make due adjustments to accommodate Bleak."
"It’d be a better adjustment to have him down in the dungeons," Moldy muttered.
"This matter is not up for discussion, Moldy. Bleak is an evil savant and I must nurture his talents." Falcrion smiled in a manner he deemed as warm.
Moldy frowned. "With all due respect, Falcrion. I believe your fondness for the lad is merely because of your unresolved issues with your real children."
Falcrion scoffed at this assessment, though he could not completely deny its validity. He had two children already, but his biological son had vowed to put an end to his reign of terror and his adopted daughter was currently going out with the aforementioned son. As such, his attempts at securing a fitting and willing heir to his evil legacy had been unsuccessful. That is until a few days ago when Bleak had literally wandered inside Screaming Girl and agreed to stay.
Falcrion glance back at the wrecked door and the skewered remains of one of the guards. Indeed, the addition of the blood gutters were proving to be a good choice: a mixture of blood and stomach acid ran along the trench beside Falcrion. Briefly, he wondered just how much bodily fluids nightmare creatures had as there appeared to be gallons of it in the gutter.
"That is a purely personal matter. I trust, Moldy, that you in your position as the chaircreature of the Henchmen’s Union will keep any notions of industrial actions at bay. I do not need my staff walking out on me this close to the Symposium."
"I can’t make any promises," Moldy said.
Falcrion sighed, why had he ever consented to giving his henchmen rights? Next time around, he would create his own minions and make sure that they had no desires to go about organising strikes and demanding vacations and alchemic care.
"I shall go and locate Bleak. Contact the cleaning wenches and install a new door."
It took only a moderate amount of searching on Falcrion’s part, before he came across both Bleak and Snuggles in the main hall of Screaming Girl.
Bleak stood in front of one of the tall windows that lined the walls. His usual hood had fallen away, revealing a head entirely covered in a black mask. The only thing visible of his real face were a pair of brown eyes that were presently glaring out of the window with a great deal of resolve.
"What are doing, Bleak?" Falcrion strolled up to the sullen youth.
Bleak let out an unconcerned grunt.
"Come now," Falcrion said, trying to sound as genial as a known mass murderer and hater of all things good could sound. "Enlighten me to the inner workings of your mind. I do, after all, require more than a mere grunt in order to comprehend you."
Bleak scoffed at Falcrion‘s verbosity, but eventually replied, "Watching world below as it swims in an ocean of babies and ice cream cones."
Falcrion looked out the window at the barren lands of the Desert of Desolation. "I highly doubt that there are any babies or ice cream cones to be found out there."
"Cuteness always there. Always lurking in sunny meadows," there was a fervent edge to Bleak’s raspy voice. "One day all the ballerinas and cookie makers will be engulfed in a stream of smiles and glitter. Will watch the cuddly vermin drown in an abyss of their own making."
As Falcrion had discovered, upon first meeting the masked sociopath, Bleak believed that there was a conspiracy afoot on the part of all cute things in the world. Consequently he hated and feared all manner of adorable things and was determined to counteract their existence with horrific violence, a lack of personal hygiene, and the general avoidance of complete sentences.
"Well." Falcrion walked up to Snuggles and stroked the dragon’s head. "Until such an occasion arrives, I would like to have a word with you."
Bleak looked at him with an air of ennui.
"I would wish that you would cease the dismemberment of the staff."
Bleak growled, discontent at the request.
"I am aware that you feel as if the people who work for me have somehow affronted you, but there are other methods of expressing your disgruntlement. Methods which do not involve an extension of the blood gutters and the prospect of labour disputes."
Bleak rolled his eyes and returned to staring out of the window.
Falcrion frowned, the sass of some people these days. "Now, I do not know how you managed your affairs—"
"No affairs. Affairs involve hugging and fluffy feelings."
"—prior to your arrival here, but there are professional issues to be taken into consideration when dealing with confrontations with the staff. You cannot go around ripping off limbs and staring people to death indiscriminately. Perhaps you could express your displeasure in a more indirect manner."
"Kill their families instead?"
"What?" Falcrion raised his brow. "No! Most certainly not. I cannot afford to lose future staff members in that way. What I mean is, you should direct your wrath towards your true enemies. If the staff displeases you, go forth and slay a few heroes or set a village on fire. I have personally found this a very productive way to release my fury."
A pensive hum came out Bleak’s masked mouth.
Falcrion had found, during the few days that Bleak had spent in the mountain, that the youth was more than a little economical in his use of words. Instead he appeared to possess a full vocabulary of grunts, growls and moans. This was in stark contrast to Falcrion’s own loquacity, which he considered an essential feature of his villainous public image.
"So, we are agreed then? No more ill-directed acts of violence?"
"Didn’t agree. Will never compromise on violence."
Falcrion pinched the bridge of his prominent nose. "I do hope you are not needlessly provoking me. I would hate to think that I should have to reprimand you in some traumatising, yet creatively brilliant, fashion."
Bleak’s eyes, still more concerned with staring out the window than paying attention to Falcrion, narrowed and he grumbled apprehensively.
"Is something amiss?"
Leaning out of the window, Bleak said, "daisy."
Falcrion followed Bleak’s critical glare to a tall stone outside the entrance of Screaming Girl. A single daisy stuck out of a crack in the hard ground beside the stone.
Bleak’s shoulders hunched and he gripped the windowsill. A feral roar escaped his mouth and he pushed himself out of the window and plunged down the six stories to the ground. Landing on his feet, apparently unharmed by the tremendous fall, Bleak dashed to the flower and began to stomp on it with his boots.
Falcrion folded his arms over his chest. One could do nothing but admire the kind of blind determination that fuelled a man to jump out of a window to destroy a daisy.
By now, Bleak was done stomping on the flower and had proceeded to pummel the floral remains with his fists. Indeed, Falcrion thought, a great deal of determination went into such actions.
Once he had reduced the flower to the smallest particles attainable with boots and fists, he scaled the rocky walls of Screaming Girl and clambered through the window he had just used as an improvised exit.
"Cheery spy of cuteness," Bleak spat out as he brushed off his coat. "Had to be put down."
Falcrion cleared his throat. "Apparently so."
Bleak glared at Falcrion. Obviously he had picked up on the condescending tone and did not appreciate the implications of it.
"Do not give me that look, young man," Falcrion said. "Now, as I was saying previously, I can only condone so much reckless mayhem and petulant behaviour on your part. Such unprofessional, not to mention costly, conduct will not aid the cause of evil or your career."
Bleak stuffed his hands into his pockets, unconvinced by Falcrion’s reasoning.
The villain sighed. "I do not possess the patience or time to deal with your illogical violence."
"Not illogical, everyone else is."
"Yes, yes, truth is a very subjective concept." Falcrion rolled his eyes. "But I have a major gathering of the leading villains of Hypnosia scheduled for the coming week. I will be up to my undergarments in assassins, alchemists, warmongers, thieves, cultists and succubi. And I expect you to behave with at least a semblance of professional calm.
He was met with an apathetic grunt.
The conversation, if it could be called one in the first place, was heading nowhere. An irritable feeling was stirring within Falcrion’s mind. He hated stalemates of any sorts, and furthermore he thought it necessary to exert his dominance as the unchallenged Champion of Evil. The last thing he needed, on top of all the other worries he had, was an uppity sociopath tearing through Screaming Girl.
A thought tore through the irritable feeling, and Falcrion smirked. "One more thing, Bleak."
The youth eyed him suspiciously, undoubtedly having heard the cunning edge in the villain’s voice.
"Am I correct in assuming that you have procured Snuggles here to act as your personal mount?" Falcrion gestured to the demon dragon, who was currently licking himself in an indecent manner.
Bleak nodded, still giving off a dubious impression.
"Then I deduce that you have not been made privy to the fact that Snuggles is still a pup." Falcrion allowed himself to chuckle. "And, as you have often stated, babies of any description are cute and therefore despicable."
Bleak’s eyes widened and he turned to look at Snuggles. Eventually he gave out a particularly long and conflicted hum.
Falcrion spun around, with a lightness surprising to someone of his advanced age, and walked towards the door. He glanced over his shoulder to Bleak, who looked like he was in need of something to punch.
Satisfied that he had given his masked acolyte something to brood over, Falcrion called for Snuggles, "Come along, Snuggles! You need to be taken out for walkies. I do not want you to leave your little gifts on the carpets, we have enough stains to cleanse as it is."
Stories and artwork Copyright 2009-2011 by Mette Pesonen. Copying in whole or in part is prohibited. However, you may link to this page.
Return to Publications Page
Return to Scribblers and Ink Spillers Main Page