Chosen Chapter Eight

Trouble comes to the heart of evil

Deep within the Citadel of Darkness, Hubert engraved hellish sigils onto a crystal disk as beads of sweat capered down his brow. He was about to delicately inscribe the final glyph when he heard, “Pardon, my Infernal Master.”
He jumped and nearly scratched the disk and let out a very un-Master of Evil-like squeak. He was relieved that his father’s ghost was haunting elsewhere. In front of him stood two Goblin guards, Muk and Duk.
“I specifically left orders not to be disturbed! What I’m doing is very precise work! I can’t just send out for another dead god brain crystal at the local marketplace. Or nip up to one of the Seven Heavens, tell an angel a sad story and hope he sheds enough tears to polish it up!”
Both Goblins bowed and groveled in front of Hubert.
“We’re so sorry, my Master, but it’s the prisoner,” said Muk.
Master of Evil or not, he grew faint. Pulling himself together, he said, “Excuse me?”
“She’s being difficult, my Master,” said Duk.
Hubert sat on his workshop throne, less elaborate than the Bone Throne but still pretty intimidating, and breathed out loudly. “Thank Darkness! I thought you were going to tell me she was dead!”
“The thing is,” said Muk, “she killed one of the guards.”
“I’m sorry? Did you just say she killed a Goblin guard?” asked Hubert.
“I’m afraid so,” replied Duk, hastily adding, “my Master.”
He wondered if this was some sort of test devised by his father. No, this seemed almost funny, and Balor-Nar’s sense of humor tended to be of the “kick to the family jewels then some sort of disemboweling” variety.
“She’s a twelve-year-old girl.”
“Yes, my Master,” said Muk.
“And you are vicious Goblin warriors, are you not?”
“Yes, my Master,” said Duk.
“Then just scare her! How hard could that be? You’re both monsters! Little girls are scared stiff of monsters!”
“Not this one my Master.” And some boys, he thought.
“She’s a right terror, that one.”
Sighing, he rested his head in his hands for a moment. Not looking up quite yet, he asked, “How did she kill a Goblin?”
Muk and Duk looked at each other.
“Well this, I’m afraid, is a bit embarrassing, my Master.”
“Really? More embarrassing than your failure to keep a child in line?”
“Buk was bringing her dinner in and she threw a doily in his face, grabbed his dagger and carved him right up.”
“Like a pro, she was.”
Hubert looked up. “Where is she now?”
Muk put his hands up. “Still in her chambers, my Master. Not a scratch on her, as per your very specific orders. The lads took a bit a of beating though.”
“See that she stays that way.”
Duk looked at Muk. “The thing is, we was wondering if we, you know, could rough her up, just a bit.”
“No! Not a mark!”
“It’s just that, if you cut off something, nothing big, let’s say a little toe…” Duk said.
“Who really uses the little toe?” Muk interjected.
“Right!” Duk agreed. “That sort of thing settles most prisoners down right quick.”
“What part ‘not a scratch’ is unclear to you?” asked Hubert.
“Sorry my Master, we was just wondering how flexible you were about the not-a-scratch order.”
“And it seems not at all flexible, so we’ll keep doing things as originally ordered.” Muk muttered.
The Master of Evil and the Goblins stared at each other for a moment.
“Was there anything else?” asked Hubert.
Duk opened his mouth but a swift elbow jab from Muk shut it.
“No, my Master,” said Muk.
“Shouldn’t you get back to your post?”
“Yes, of course, we’ll be right off then, my Master.” Muk bowed.
Duk scowled at Muk, saying, “Why do you always call him ‘my Master’? He’s both our Master, innit he?”
“Just go!”
Muk and Duk rushed out of the workroom. Hubert turned back to complete the disk, but the moment was gone. He’d have to finish it later.
Maybe creating on some culinary evil would calm him; working in the kitchen always did. There was a new recipe for a light salad that was actually more fattening than deep-fried boar. If he could get it out by next spring, a lot of summers would be ruined. Now that he thought, was insidious.

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