Monday, May 20, 2013
The Grand Vizier: Part VI
Carlisle closed one eye and squinted down at the silver tray with the eye of a practiced butler. (The other eye had belonged to a surgeon and tended to exhibit a rather more than healthy obsession with straight lines and clamps.) The Vizier very rarely held the sumptuous banquets of his predecessor and the lumpy grey homunculus occasionally found it necessary to add a little something to his master’s lunch tray. Black bread sandwiches were all well and good, but pickles and mustard and corned beef did little to invoke the desired flights of decadence one expected from an evil ruler. Carlisle tended to attribute this to a lack of dancing girls and fat men in turbans.
There was a creak as he hopped down from the wooden stool that allowed him access to the human sized counter tops. Pulling down the flickering black candle after him, he ambled along the shadowy kitchen wall. Pausing at a low cabinet, he pulled it open. Somewhere in the darkened recesses near the back, was just the thing. A dusty moment of grunting, stretching, and coughing later he was back at the table, carefully spiking the sandwich with a silver toothpick topped with a skull and covering the whole with a black silk napkin. Rubbing his hands with pleasure he lifted the tray and padded out of the kitchen across the black marble.
Carlisle found the Vizier brooding in an enormous wing chair next to a colossal stone hearth. Smokeless and without visible fuel, dark blue flames were licking at the iron grate.The effect was like the sun through deep water as the light flickered across the analytic wreckage of the adequately named Dark Arcanum.
“I have brought you shome lunch, my lord.” Carlisle shifted an enormous tome deftly with one hand and placed the tray at his master’s elbow. The homunculus took a step back and clasped his misshapen hands behind his back. He glanced at the fire. “If the Thinking Fire ish any tell, my lord would like to be left alone?”
The Vizier looked up and the fired seemed to blink into a livid sea green. “You know there isn’t a single book in here about princesses?”
“Ish that sho, my lord?”
“It is.” The Vizier shook his head. “You’d think someone would have bothered to write down what you are supposed to feed them or something.”
“I believe they eat chocolate, my lord.”
“Hmm.” The Vizier rubbed his goatee. “I spent all morning in the secret passage next to her room staring through that hideous portrait of the Evil Stepmother. Did you know the Spire rats can line dance? The can sing a quite tolerable aria as well. And they made a dress out of the curtains. It was terrifying.”
Carlisle nodded sagely. “That ish prinschess magnetishm, my lord. Shmall minded creaturesh no matter how hideoush are hopelesh againsht it. “
“I see. That explains the big hearted farm boys who now want me dead, I suppose.”
“Yesh, my lord.”
The Vizier pressed his hands together in front of him and slid deeper into the chair as the fire resumed its azure tones. There was a long silence. Finally the Vizier spoke, his voice coming as if from the bottom of a deep well. “Do you suppose she wants to be a princess, Carlisle?”
“Every little girl wantsh to be a prinschess, my lord.”
“And what do little boys want to do when they grow up?”
“Moshtly shavage your landsh and kill your orksh, my lord. Hero thingsh.”
“Shometimesh alsho ashtronautsh.”
The dark haired man raised an eyebrow. “What?”
“I don’t know, my lord, it jusht sheemed appropriate.”
There was another long silence and the fire went from a thoughtful indigo to a morose plum. Carlisle shuffled his feet. “If I may preshume, my lord, what did you want to become when you were a young boy?”
“I can’t remember.”