The troll’s enormous brown eyes swiveled to look at the Vizier. “This…this…ah…”
From behind one leg a furry, skittering creature appeared, hopping anxiously from one foot to the next. Its notched bat like ears bobbed as it bent low. The noise that came from its jagged little mouth was practically a whistle. “Klonk is brunged you a princess, my effervescent prince.”
The Vizier looked down at the nervous gremlin as it adjusted its loincloth. His brow furrowed. “Again? I don’t need any princesses.”
The gremlin’s beady green eyes flicked sideways. Its nostrils flared. “Really? Can we eat it? Oh, please my pungent master? ”
The trolls eyes flicked open, and a large drop of something wet and slobbery made a splatting noise on the marble. “That…that…that…”
“Would you please?” A crimson figure stepped out of the shadows, its face swathed in red silk. This was Bladesinger. Sometime before serving as the obligatory mid-tier practice dummy for The White Knight, Prince Charming, Goodman Thief, Wandering Jack, and half a dozen other standard heroes, they said Bladesinger had been a dashing mercenary cum bard. At this point however, his general lack of lips and nose, along with more scars than a cocker spaniels favorite rawhide, had resulted in a less than pleasing appearance. Still, he wore his mauled arms bare, his three and four fingered hands often resting on the hilts of the matching swords which curved away at both sides. If Carlisle was the Viziers standard ugly sidekick, then Bladesinger was the mandatory sneering lieutenant. “I lost my ear with the last time. I liked that one too. Only one I had left. You ever try to wear a respectable mercenary ear-ring with no ears? Downright embarrassing.”
The Vizier looked at the dangling girl. Like most princesses that passed through his Hall of Midnight she was fantastically beautiful. Long golden hair framed a heart shape face with cornflower blue eyes, full lips, and a celestial nose. Also like most princesses, she had unbelievably managed to survive being dragged up the side of a volcano by an eight foot monster without so much as fraying the hem of her sweeping pink gown. She was glaring at him indignantly. “Aren’t you supposed to be stroking my hair and making creepy comments about my undying beauty?”
The Vizier looked at Bladesinger, who shrugged. “I dunno. Seems normal enough to me. Law of averages. Last one had red hair. One before that was a brunette. You had that one fairy princess awhile back with the blue hair. I guess you were gonna get a blond eventually.”
Carlisle cleared his throat and took a slow shuffle forward. “Shatishtically shpeaking, mosht prinsheshes are in fact fair haired. I believe thish one is fairly average, my lord. Pink ish alsho a poor color choish. Washes out the shkin dreadfully.”
Bladesinger sniggered as the Vizier stroked his goatee. He looked down at the gremlin again. “Where did you find it?”
“It was wandering in the woods, my aromatic lord. Near the evil cannibal hermit’s house. The one across from the Evil Temple of Grahalaloo.”
“What were you doing in my evil forest?” The vizier glared at the princess. He flexed his fingers for effect. “Where are your friends?”
“I won the contest!” The princess looked confused.
“Is that the one where everyone else gets eaten by the giant spiders? One of those process of elimination sort of things?” Bladesinger crossed his gruesome arms. Beneath the scar tissue they bulged. “I never did like those. So subjective. I mean really, anyone could win.
The girl glanced sideways. “You have giant spiders?”
Bladesinger continued. “A spider has at least four eyes. You’d think what with being able to see twice as well, he’d have left us with something useful. Like a cow. You can eat a cow. ”
The gremlin threw up a furry hand and hopped on one foot. “Maybe it was a variety act sort of thing. A little singing, a little dancing, a little bit of pie eating. The ones with the biscuit crusts? Yes? Yes?”
Carlisle shuffled his feet. “If I am not mishtaken my lord, I believe thish unfortunate creature may have won the Bi-Annual Many Lands Prinshess Pageant. Fairesht in all the land ish to be reshcued by Prinsh Charming. It ish an ancient tradishon, my lord.”
The Vizier sighed. “Of this I am aware. I thought they were going for more of the abused second sister thing these days though. We always let Evil Stepmother handle this. When did princesses come back?”
“Yeah.” Bladesinger managed to look indignant behind his mask. “Last year it was the sheltered female alchemist and librarians. There was a whole category on letting your hair down from a bun.”
The homunculus folded his mismatched hands. “Maidensh and Dragonsh predicted it would be prinsheshes thish year, my lord. It wash in the winter edition.”
Bladesinger snorted. “It also said warg fur boots would be in, and that was a total bust. Last time I let that poof tell me how to dress, let me tell you.”
The vizier looked at them both blankly.
The girl sighed. “Look, do you have a turret room? “