“MUAHAHAHAHAHAHA!” Count Du Schna’Zel’s booming – and well practised – evil laugh echoed out from his chamber. He stared into his crystal ball as his clairvoyant gaze swept over his creation, an enormous dungeon, filled with the deadliest traps, the worst monsters and the most mind-bending puzzles his cruel and devious mind could devise.
“Vomit!” He called, sweeping one great sleeve back towards the archway that gave access to his chamber.
Vomit, the goblin, lurched in – which isn’t easy when you’re only three feet tall. “Yes your wapacious woyalness?”
“Wrong speech impediment Vomit.”
“Thorry. Yeth mathter?”
“That’s better. Now, take a message.” The Count swept his robes around dramatically and sat down upon his granite throne.
Vomit scrambled for parchment and paper. He couldn’t actually read or write, but the Master didn’t need to know that, so long as he could remember.
“Let the word go forth, Vomit. The Deadly Dungeon of Du Schna’Zel is open for business. Heroes are invited from the four corners of the far realms to test their mettle, their bravery and their ability. Should they survive the dungeon they will be rewarded with riches beyond their wildest dreams.”
“not. so. fast”
The Count turned his head, frowning. A voice that – if written down – would defy conventional rules of punctuation and capitalisation generally indicated a supernatural being, a presence, an incarnation.
He was not wrong. Even here in his inner sanctum, beings from the other realms could intrude should they wish. Nowhere was safe. Still, it was an affront to his dignity. “To what do I owe the pleasure?” He asked, with what amounted to an LD50 dose of sarcasm to most creatures.
The being that stood there was grey, thin, its arms were like tentacles, seeming to be able to reach everywhere at once. It was covered in eyes, unblinking and staring and an aura of judgemental certitude hung about it like a cheap perfume.
“there has been a change in the rules,” the thing spoke without a mouth, quiet but with a sense of absolute authority.
“There has?” The Count narrowed his eyes and preened his long, thin, moustache and beard. This did not bode well, the creature must be a thing of law, adjusting the rules of the universe. “How does this affect me? Why do you care? Why should I care about the hidden probabilities and secrets of the universe?”
“oh no. it goes beyond that this time.”
“What in the thousand hells do you mean?” The Count leapt up angrily from his seat and kicked Vomit out of the archway in frustration, sending the unfortunate goblin sailing some distance and out of sight.
“well, that, for example. you should not mistreat your minions in such a way.”
“Why not?” The Count leant over his crystal ball and glared at the creature, agent of the universe or not, it was getting on his tits.
“it creates a bad impression and encourages violence.”
The being ignored him and carried on speaking. “your minions, are they all goblins?”
“My family has a proud tradition of employing goblins. My minions are, indeed, all goblins, save the monsters in the dungeon.” The Count folded his arms challengingly and arched one eyebrow sceptically, a look that had caused his previous page, Scabies, to literally shit himself to death. It had no effect on this being.
“unacceptable. from now on you must employ a range of creatures, goblinoid and otherwise at all levels of your organisation.”
“to do otherwise would be racist.”
The Count almost choked to death on his own beard, chewing on it in an attempt to control his rage. “Is that all?” He somehow managed to choke out, spitting beard hairs.
“no. are any of your employees disabled?”
“You mean cripples?” The Count asked, incredulously. The creature reacted to that, recoiling slightly as though the very word hurt it.
“that term is not… politic, but yes.”
“What bloody use is a crippled goblin?” The Count stared at the creature, wondering if he was in the right universe any more, “If the wound is too severe I feed the poor creature to the Pit Beast, otherwise a Priest of Fognarr heals it.”
The Count was curious now, his eyes boggling out of his head with rage and incomprehension, but he needed to know how far this stupidity was going to go. “What else?”
“how many of your employees are female?”
“Outside of the whore-dome? None. The goblins have ‘family’ in the breeding pens of course…”
“unacceptable. you must allow these females to work for you as well.”
“But the attrition rate! If they’re not busy making more goblins they’ll die out. You know how adventurers are…”
“we do not care. you will make these changes or else.”
“Or else what…” The Count narrowed his eyes, fingers twitched a dance in front of him.
“or else you will be edited.”
“ZORNIT’S GALVANIC BOLT!” Cried the count, his patience at an end, unleashing the raw power of magic against this strange fiend.
“AURA OF SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS!” The bolt ricocheted off the creature and blasted a fist sized hole in the ceiling. “if you’re quite done, the whore dome is another matter. it must be shut. it’s sexist and is creating unrealistic expectations amongst the local village girls.”
The Count was now practically vibrating with rage, but it was useless, nothing could touch this creature, it was part of the universe itself. “They’re succubi… shaped by the infernal powers themselves to tempt men beyond reason. Why by Glocknarr’s hairy balls would a village peasant girl think she could, or would measure up to the erotic imaginings of the Hell Prince of Erotica?”
“as part of the change he will become the hell prince of hugs and kittens.”
“Give me strength,” the Count hissed to himself, leaning heavily on his table. “I suppose you want me to replace all the winding stairways with ramps and make sure all the riddles are in goblinoid as well as common, maybe braille as well? Should I flood the whole dungeon so that acquatic beings can swim through it as well?”
“that would be wonderful.”
“You do understand that I am evil. Yes? I have constructed this dungeon specifically to kill people. The whore-dome is for my amusement. I enjoy torturing and dominating goblins and the only reason I care about the villagers is that they pay taxes?”
“your actions reflect on your creator. see that you fix things.” With that, it was gone.
The Count slumped back into his chair and slapped his hands against his face, shoulders heaving in a deep, deep sigh. After a moment he straightened his back and yelled out. “VOMIT!”
The goblin scurried back in, rubbing its bruised arse with one bony green hand. “Y-y-y-yes m-m-master?”
“Wrong speech impediment Vomit…”
“Scratch the previous note. We’re going to need another one. Make a list. I need to call the builders, get burkas for the whore-dome, oh, no, the ‘sex worker half-spheroid’, fatten some of them up, oh and send the lamia from inhuman resources up…”
It was going to be a long, long day.
With thanks to Kris Hansen for the inspiration.
The Deadly Dungeon of Du Schna’Zel is intended as a future ‘choose your own adventure’ charity project.