The massive main hall of Screaming Girl Mountain echoed with the melancholy sighs of its chief resident. Falcrion, the Great Enemy of Goodness, sat on his obsidian throne or rather slumped on it.
"Oh, Moldy," the infamous villain said. "What ever is the matter with me? It's as if I am bereft of motivation and inspiration as of late."
The immense nightmare creature, who stood by the throne inspecting the latest accounts of horrific misdeeds and crimes against all the races, raised his head.
"Can’t say, sir."
Falcrion rolled his eyes. "Indeed. With my second-in-command away on another one of her supposed holidays, it would appear I have no one valid to talk to. I am beginning to believe that Terrin is now fabricating sacred festivities just so she can have time off from her duties. And you, my good Moldy, are a poor substitute for her."
Moldy arched a bushy eyebrow. "I apologise for not being endowed with the same attributes as the Lady Terrin. Though, if it helped, I could dress up in a revealing armoured bikini."
"Good gods, no!" Falcrion jolted upright in his seat. "Even my stomach has its limits of tolerance. What is needed to alleviate my sublime case of ennui, rather than ill coordinated cases of cross dressing, is some brilliantly fiendish act of evil."
"If I recall, you’ve already committed every possible act of wickedness."
"Have I kicked any puppies or kittens lately?"
"Last month, when you burned down Saint Fluffy’s Home for Orphaned Animal Babies," Moldy said.
"What about sacrilege?"
"One and a half weeks ago you used raw sewage to draw obscene slogans on the altar of Haande. I believe that inspired some of the priests of the Supreme Goddess to commit ritual suicide."
"Oh, yes." Falcrion rubbed his chin. "There was an article about that in Hypnosian Period. The pictures were quite good."
As Falcrion revelled in the memory of the shockingly detailed article, the doors to his self-described throne room were kicked open. This was followed by what appeared to be the mangled remains of a guard, based on the armour and one partially preserved leg, being tossed in. A slim figure stepped over the corpse, not caring about the bodily fluids splashing on his boots, and stood before Falcrion.
The person was dressed in a long, dark grey coat with a hood covering his head. What looked like a mask, though Falcrion was not dismissing the possibility of a cloaking spell, could be seen within the hood, obscuring everything but a pair of eyes that were currently staring up at him.
Not about to be intimidated by the loss of a single guard, Falcrion crossed his legs. "So, another hero looking to bring an end to my notorious deeds of villainy? My boy, you will have to do better than dispose of one of my nightmare creatures to impress me."
"Not a hero," said a harsh voice from within the hood.
At this Falcrion paused. He had, during his numerous decades as Hypnosia’s highest ranked evildoer, been faced by many heroes, but never had someone barged into his Base of Evil and not claim to be the Chosen One or some other divinely sanctioned champion of justice.
"Very well then, you are not a hero," Falcrion said, still feigning indifference. "Perhaps you are a rival villain, intending to make yourself known to the villainous scene."
The eyes narrowed.
Falcrion chuckled, how he loved the feeling of utter superiority. "Well, my young acolyte of darkness, while your killing technique shows promise, you are far from being in the same league as I."
"Hierarchy overrated," the voice seemed to be bored at the situation.
Falcrion frowned. "Then, pray tell, what has motivated you to infiltrate my lair, eviscerate my guard, and traipse around my throne room while leaving bile-stains on my floor?"
The figure shrugged. "Was walking around. Ran into interesting mountain and decided to investigate."
"Walking around?" Falcrion‘s eyes widened. "No one walks around the Desert of Desolation!"
The figure tilted his hooded head. "Can go walking. No one’s business."
"So, all of this is some cosmic coincidence?"
The figure grunted.
Well, Falcrion thought, going for a casual stroll in the most inhospitable wasteland in all of Imaginaarium took some fortitude. If nothing else, further discourse with the stranger before him could prove a fine way of passing his time.
"You do know who I am, I presume." Falcrion smirked.
Another grunt, this time with less weight to it. "Old, black robes, high collar, reek of death... Falcrion."
"Indeed. Then you must also be aware that I am not one to be meddled with and that I am due some amount of deference, even among the most insane of creatures."
The figure seemed to have lost his interest again. He walked back to the dead nightmare creature and pulled something out of the remains. For a moment, he examined the thing in his gloved hand, before tossing it aside.
"Knife ruined. All sticky and smelly now."
"Could you perhaps concentrate?" Falcrion called out.
The hidden face turned back towards him.
"Thank you. Now I would expect a minuscule amount of courtesy on your part, seeing as I have been more than lenient with your presence so far."
Falcrion sighed. "You could, in the least, introduce yourself."
"Bleak," came a terse reply.
Falcrion nodded. He was making some progress, though conversing with the laconic man was about as fruitful as trying to housetrain his demon dragon.
"You are evidently a man befitting your name. Now enlighten me as to what services you would offer me."
"Offer services?" Bleak spat, then suddenly bent forward and began to swat at his face.
"Is something amiss?"
Bleak made a disgusted sound. "Spat inside mask."
So, it was a mask and not a cloaking spell, Falcrion thought, now knowing that Bleak was not a demon.
"You could always take off the mask and clean it. That would be a far more effective way to dispose of the spittle than what you are currently doing."
Bleak shook his head. "No! Will not take off mask! Mask is face, face is non-face. Will not lose face and show non-face."
"Very well then."
Falcrion glanced at Moldy. The nightmare creature squared his shoulders and braced himself for a possibly violent outburst on the part of the masked man. Who could say whether there were more knives hidden in the folds of that coat?
Meanwhile, Bleak had given up the effort of drying his mask from the wrong side of the fabric. With a discontented mumble, he stuck his hands into his pockets.
"Bleak, if I may enquire, just what is it that you do? Apart from the avoidance of losing your purported face."
"Have to cut open the puss filled bubo that taints the world with frilly horrors," Bleak said with an odd air of importance about him.
Despite his unwavering confidence in his own mental capacities, Falcrion had to admit that he had not grasped the crux of Bleak’s explanation.
"Could you be more precise?"
"World all bright and cheery. Doesn’t realise cuteness just waiting for the right moment. Will make the world bathe in pastels."
"So…" Falcrion gave Moldy a questioning look, getting a similar look in reply. "You are endeavouring to rid the world of all things bright and cheery."
"Stupid goal. Can only burn so many stuffed toys." Bleak scoffed. "Will make people see the horror, with violence and gore. Make world wake up, before everyone drowns in kittens and laughter."
Falcrion drummed his fingers against each other pensively. He was not aware of any plans on the part of cute things to overtake the world. As far as he knew, he was the only one with any plausible plans of world domination, though most of them involved ropes and hooks and good deal of cackling. However, despite the obvious delusions of adorable conspiracies, Falcrion could perceive potential in Bleak.
Bleak, having once again grown uninterested with his surroundings, was examining his boots. Wiping them against the floor, trying to clean off some of the bile and blood, he appeared almost thoughtful.
Briefly, Falcrion wondered if all of today’s youth possessed the concentration of a sugar high nymph.
"Is there something bothering you, Bleak?" Falcrion said, having had enough of the silence which he observed as being very awkward.
"Going to raid pantry. Take canned goods."
"Who is going to raid the pantry?" Falcrion said.
Bleak regarded him with a bored frown.
"Are you going to raid my pantry and pilfer my canned food supplies?"
"Said that would do so," Bleak replied matter-of-factly.
Falcrion slumped in his seat. "Well, how am I going to decipher who or what you are referring to, if you are planning on talking in that ridiculous manner? Talk properly and use some personal pronouns!"
"Pronouns are for the weak. Would rather die than be weak."
"You would rather be slain than converse in conventional fashion?" Falcrion raised his eyebrow.
"Yes. Talk with fists and knives. Easy language, no conjugation."
Falcrion snorted, prompting an incredulous look from Moldy. He was beginning to enjoy this Bleak, such delightful mental instability was difficult to come by. Though, he still did not appreciate the lack of cohesive language.
"Bleak, you intrigue me," Falcrion said, once his tittering had died down.
Bleak gave him a suspicious look.
"Not in an indecent manner, obviously." Falcrion held up his hands. "Rather, professionally. I can see much potential in you. Granted you are clearly paranoid, violent and generally insane, but those are features greatly admired in this field."
"Not mad. Others are."
"It is my belief that with the correct tutelage you could become a formidable fighter for the forces of evil."
Moldy bent towards Falcrion. "Sir, I’d advise against this."
Falcrion waved him off. The gods only knew, his children, biological and non-biological alike, would not take up the black mantle should his attempts at immortality fail. He had to do all in his power to secure a successor, and even one as eccentric as Bleak would do.
Another suspicious look was directed at him, Bleak was clearly not convinced.
"And, naturally, you would be better equipped to continue your battle against the dreadful surge of adorable things."
Bleak raised his head slightly, considering the proposal. "Will stay on one condition."
"And that would be?"
"Won’t bathe," Bleak said. "Won’t smell of lavender and vanilla."
Falcrion could foresee some difficulties ahead. Then again, some of the nightmare creatures were not known for their good personal hygiene either. He would just have to grimace and bear it, not to mention inform the cleaning wenches.
The things Falcrion did to ensure the future quality of his profession…
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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