Monday, March 31, 2008


Jeannine and Bill now stood before the palace of Hades, dozens of times larger than the Blizzard’s ice castle and John’s in Denmark put together. Extending higher than either of them could see, it was made entirely of granite. Statues were carved into it at various points, statues depicting the other gods talking about how great Hades was.

“So he’s arrogant,” noted Jeannine. “Maybe that’s what we’re supposed to take advantage of.”

Skulls and bones bordered a path that led to the entrance, ominous gates crafted from silver and adamantine (the metal from Paradise Lost, not the one from X-Men). They were quite impenetrable. Above them a message was inscribed in Latin, which neither Jeannine nor Bill could read, thereby ensuring that it had no bearing on the plot whatsoever.

Slowly Bill and Jeannine walked down the path, their trepidation growing with each step. Unbeknownst to them, Hades was watching them the whole time, thanks to his newly installed closed-circuit security camera system (crystal balls were just passe, and he was deathly allergic to arrases).

“Who are these fools that approach my palace with such trepidation?” he asked himself. “Don’t they know I’m in a bad mood today?”

Bill and Jeannine reached the gates. They rang the doorbell, but it was no ordinary ring: a cacophonous shriek pierced through the dense, dank air, striking cold terror into their very souls. The gates opened.

“You go in first Bill. You’re expendable,” said Jeannine.

“Right!” agreed Bill, merrily skipping inside.

Shortly after they both entered, the gates slammed shut behind them: there was no way out. But this didn’t faze Jeannine at all – nothing would have stopped her from going forward.

They wandered through the palace, ridiculously lost. That they saw no one was even more unnerving than the sporadic ghosts they’d run across before. After about an hour though, it wasn’t so much terrifying as it was annoying.

“I swear we’ve been through this corridor before,” said Jeannine, frustrated. “Oh, this is stupid. HADES! We come here as supplicants; we are in need of your help. Show yourself!”

Nothing happened. Jeannine sighed and they continued onward. After another half hour, they reached a door they hadn’t yet seen. This one was different from the others in that it didn’t open when Bill tried it.

“In this room is either Hades or something Hades doesn’t want us to see,” concluded Jeannine. “We’ll need to find a way in. Bill, I have to use you as a battering ram.”

Jeannine gently set down John’s corpse and picked up Bill, backing up and preparing to charge into the locked room. As she started running, however, the door opened, and she merely ran right through.

The door shut as soon as they were in, and John’s body was left outside. Furiously, Jeannine dropped Bill and tried to open the door again, to no avail.

The lights went on. Jeannine looked over at Bill, who was stupefied with fear. She slowly turned to see what he was looking at – it was Hades, sitting on his magnificent throne. Her first thought was indeed that he was in a very bad mood.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


Jeannine and Bill were carrying John’s body together now, as it seemed to them as though the closer they came to Cerberus, the heavier John became. The road wasn’t long, but it took them quite a long time to walk it; and when they neared the end, they found that they could hear the monster before they could see it.

A foreboding growl and discouraging howl nearly sent Bill running in the opposite direction; indeed, he would have run if it hadn’t been for the leash Jeannine had put on him.

Then they saw him – or them, rather. Well, I don’t know, really. Would a three-headed dog be considered one animal or three? I mean, probably not two, that wouldn’t make sense at all…I suppose that since it has three heads and thus three brains, it would be considered three separate entities; but the fact that they have to share the one body lends a lot of strength to the other side of the argument. It could really go either way. Anyway,

Bill saw Cerberus and immediately rushed forward to pet him, evidently unaware that this dog looked far more likely to kill than to cuddle. Surprisingly enough though, Cerberus loved being petted, and as soon as Bill began, the dog’s tail started wagging fervently.

“I have no idea why, but it’s working, Bill! You’re stopping the monster!” called Jeannine. “I knew you’d start pulling your weight sometime!”

“Monster? Where?” asked Bill.

He looked at the creature he was petting and for the first time realized that it was, in fact, a gigantic, three-headed dog. He panicked, stopping his petting and backing away fearfully. Bad move.

Cerberus started growling again (all three of him/them), this time moving menacingly forward. It was clear that he intended to eat Bill, or at the very least maul him.

“Bill! You need to pet him again. He likes it for some reason!” said Jeannine quickly.

“But my mom says I’m not supposed to pet any dog with more than two heads!” cried Bill. “I’ll get grounded! Last time I was grounded I wasn’t allowed outside for a month, so then when I was playing hopscotch, I broke a lamp, and mom got real mad, and then I wasn’t allowed inside for a month, so I had to go to purgatory. It was real boring.”

“Well if you don’t pet the dog, you’ll get eaten!” argued Jeannine. “Just do it, you idiot! Do it for John!”

Hearing the name of his best and only friend, Bill was filled with a new confidence; he strode forward, arm outstretched, and began petting Cerberus once more. It worked; the beast was placated.

“Now just keep petting him, Bill,” instructed Jeannine, slowly moving forward, “while I sneak stealthily past with John’s body. Once I give the signal, stop petting him and run to me; we’ll go on and find Hades together.”

“What?” asked Bill, who hadn’t understood.

“Pet the dog till I get back,” said Jeannine, increasing her speed significantly.

She walked past Bill and Cerberus and, once clear, broke into a run, which was rather difficult as she was carrying John’s body and she wasn’t very strong.

Bill stopped petting Cerberus. The dog growled, preparing to strike, but then its target disappeared. Bill had become invisible, sneaking past Cerberus and going to join Jeannine – they were almost there.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Josiah sat in the back of his Escalade, bitterly sipping brandy. He was upset about Cyprus’s rejecting him, but he knew he couldn’t let such an insignificant triviality interfere with his evil plan. He was an evil genius, after all; he was above such menial setbacks as rejection.

“So what, Josiah? You’ve been rejected before. And how did you deal with it then? You exacted sweet revenge upon the women who rejected you! Yes, that’s what I’ll do. Nothing cheers me up like vengeance,” he said to himself. “Except berating Mischa. That and vengeance are tied.”

Josiah now greatly desired a cigarette, but he had spilled brandy everywhere and wasn’t exactly eager to set the car on fire, so he restrained himself.

Before long, the car arrived at the airport, where Josiah’s private jet was waiting. He gave the order for departure back to Washington and waited in the cabin, pouring himself another glass of brandy. The plane took off, picking up speed on the runway and launching itself into the air. It was a smooth ride.

“I’ll get my vengeance on Cyprus,” he said, “after I complete my evil plan. The evil plan must come first; I’ve put it off more than long enough already. I just wish this infernal plane could go faster.”

He poured yet another glass of brandy and downed it in one gulp. Shortly afterward, the plane landed in Washington, and Josiah got out, opting to walk to his secret lair in the Pentagon rather than call for a limo. The fresh air would do him good.

Arriving in his Pentagon office, Josiah set to work immediately, making all of the calls and double-checking all of the crucial documents. It was finally happening; his evil plan was beginning.

But then, quite suddenly, Josiah realized that he was in no mood to work that day. He threw the documents to the floor and told his secretary to cancel the orders he’d given, figuring he could just give them again tomorrow.

“Damn that Cyprus!” he cursed. “No woman’s ever had this effect on me before. I’ll need to get my retribution now. Then that pitiful excuse for an ecumenically psychic woman will learn that nobody turns down Josiah Malum. Nobody!”

And with that, Josiah set to work again, this time with a different goal in mind: to get back at Cyprus for rejecting him. Of course, he soon realized that he didn’t have any idea how to do so.
At length, Josiah concluded that the best way to get back at Cyprus would be to call her and beg for a date, so he did.

“Hello Josiah,” said Cyprus on the other line.

“How did you know it was me? This is a secure line!” shouted Josiah, irate.

“Forgetting I’m psychic was cute the first few times, but now it’s just a redundant gag without any real humor value,” replied Cyprus. “I’d ask why you’re calling, but I already know. Because I’m a psychic.”

“Well?” demanded Josiah. “Will you go on a date with me or not?”

“Of course not. The fact that you’re asking over the phone instead of in person doesn’t change a thing. If anything, it makes me less likely to agree. Is that all? I have to sacrifice a virgin to the god of bloodshed.”

“But can’t you see we’re made for each other? I love the god of bloodshed! We’re going bowling together tomorrow! He house sits for me sometimes!” pleaded Josiah.

“Sorry, Josiah. Wait. No I’m not.”

She hung up, and Josiah hung his head.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Bill, Jeannine and Mischa waited patiently at the edge of the ghostly river with John’s body. A dense fog hovered over the water, and they could see nothing more than a foot in front of them. Jeannine checked her watch. The ferry was late.

“You’d think the Underworld would have punctual transportation,” she complained. “This is just as bad as the bus service!”

“Oh, I wouldn’t go quite that far, milady,” said a creepy, skeletal voice from somewhere on the river. “I’m runnin’ a little late today, oh yes, but I’m normally very reliable. Don’t go makin’ assumptions now.”

They could now make out the distinct sound of water being paddled, and shortly afterward an old looking boat came into sight. A grinning skeleton was steering it: it was Charon, ferryman of the River Styx, though of course none of them knew that. Bill gave a yelp of fright. Mischa gave a shriek of fright. Jeannine reached into her purse and pulled out some money.

“We’d like to cross the river,” she said. “How much would that cost us?”

“This is the Underworld. I don’t take American money, milady,” said Charon. “We switched to the Euro a few years ago; it’s just easier. You’ll have to pay some other way.”

“Perhaps one of us could sacrifice himself,” suggested Jeannine. “Like Mischa! Oh, don’t look so offended; you know you deserve it. It’s the least you can do after defeating John like that. Who do you think you are anyway?”

“But Comrade, I cannot be offered as a sacrifice!” protested Mischa. “I am allergic!”

“Quiet down, the lot of ya. I don’t take sacrifices neither,” interrupted Charon. “But I have an idea, that I do. One of you can work off the debt. I need a vacation.”

“That’s fine. Mischa, you’ll take Charon’s place until we return from our meeting with Hades,” said Jeannine. “Don’t drink that water, Bill. It can’t be good for you.”

“But I do not like manual labor, Comrade!” protested Mischa again. “It offends me.”

“Whoa, you folks are goin’ to Hades? Why’d you wanna do a stupid thing like that?” asked Charon. “He’s in a bad mood today, you know.”

“We’ve heard,” said Jeannine flatly. “Anyway, now will you let us cross? We’re in a hurry.”

“Sure thing, sure thing, settle down,” said Charon, beckoning for them to board the boat. “Keep your arms, legs and tails inside the vehicle at all times; no eating, drinking, smoking or fire-breathing is permitted onboard - and I bloody well mean that. All ready? Off we go!”

The boat zoomed away from the stygian shore, accelerating at an alarming pace – it was much faster than they were expecting, given Charon’s comically slow paddling speed.

“So why are you folks off to see the boss?” he asked again. “You never answered my question. That’s pretty rude, that is. Maximilian would have a fit. Have you met him? Polite chap, that one.”

“Yes, we know. And we’re going to ask Hades to resurrect my lo – our friend, John,” said Jeannine. “He fell off a horse and died.”

“That’s tragic, that is. Tragic,” said Charon, nodding. “But Hades doesn’t grant requests like that often, you know, even when he’s in a good mood. You’ll have quite a challenge convincin’ him, that’s for sure.”

“Do you have any suggestions?” asked Jeannine.

“Take advantage of the situation. That’s all I’ll say,” answered Charon. “You’ll know what to do when the time comes.”

“That’s pretty vague,” began Jeannine. “Do you –”

“Here we are: the other side of the River Styx! Right, now you,” he said, pointing at Mischa, “you’re staying here. Just paddle it back and forth, and make sure you don’t let anyone on who doesn’t pay. I’m off to my friend’s ghoul party! See, it sounds kind of like pool, get it? Oh, you Americans never get anything. I’ll be back in an hour.”

Charon stepped off the boat and started heading right, muttering bitterly all the while. Jeannine and Bill followed suit, going left. Mischa shot Jeannine a desperate look as she exited the boat, but she pretended not to notice.

“All right Bill, we need to take this path for approximately three miles. Then we should reach that three-headed dog Maximilian told us about. Hmm, I wonder how we’ll get past him,” said Jeannine. “If John were alive, he’d suggest feeding you to the dog, but…”

“Don’t worry Jeannine. I have a plan!” said Bill confidently.

“Really?” asked Jeannine, surprised.

“No. But I wish I did!”

Monday, March 24, 2008


John’s corpse, Bill, Jeannine and Mischa walked closely together through the Underworld, all of them incurably terrified. Well, not so much John’s corpse, since he was dead and therefore incapable of experiencing emotions such as fear, but the others were terrified.

“Where is Hades, Bill? We seem to be walking around in circles,” said Jeannine, ducking quickly to avoid a passing ghost.

“Over there,” said Bill, pointing at Mischa.

“No Comrade, I am Mischa Petrovitch!” said Mischa. “I do not know why you would think I am Hades. I am not nearly intimidating enough!”

“Oh. I don’t know where he is, then,” said Bill. “Unless that’s him!”

“No Comrade, that is me again.”

Distraught, Jeannine took over as leader, a change which made very little difference. Not only were they in the most evil place in all existence; now they didn’t even know where they were going.

After another hour of aimless wandering, a figure approached them, and unlike the various ghosts and ghouls, this one knew what he was doing. Mischa shrank back, Bill didn’t see it, and Jeannine moved forward bravely to confront it.

“Who are you?” she asked shakily as the creature became more visible.

“My name is Maximilian Vandevris,” he said. “I am the greeter here, and the politest being in the universe. Welcome to the Underworld, Bill Williams, Mischa Petrovitch, Jeannine Morgan and John – oh dear me, he seems to be a bit dead, doesn’t he? A pity…a pity.”

“Yes, John is dead,” said Jeannine. “If you’ll let me explain the – well wait a minute, first of all, how do you know our names?”

“Pardon me for noticing, but you’re wearing nametags,” replied Maximilian. “Though I must compliment you on your extraordinary penmanship, Ms. Morgan.”

“Um. Thanks?”

“Yes, in that situation, ‘thank you’ is the appropriate response. Thank you for asking me to confirm it!” said Maximilian. “I am most grateful.”

“You’re welcome,” replied Jeannine confidently.

“Welcome accepted,” added Maximilian.

“Oh, um, acceptance…acknowledged?” tried Jeannine.

“Acknowledgment recognized!” responded the greeter.


“The word you are searching for is noted. ‘Recognition noted’ is the proper response. But you did very well for a surface dweller! Now, how may I be of service?” Maximilian asked.

“Well, my companion John has been killed, and we wish to ask Hades to resurrect him,” explained Jeannine. “If you could tell us where he is, we’d really appreciate it.”

“I suppose I could,” said Maximilian, “but I must warn you, Hades isn’t in a very good mood today. He’ll probably refuse your request.”

“We’re willing to take that chance,” said Jeannine firmly. “Where is Hades?”

“You have to cross this river, the River Styx. Thence, you must find a way past Cerberus – oh, he’s an adorable little puppy! He has the cutest tail, and three heads, and he loves playing fetch,” added Maximilian after seeing the puzzled expression on Jeannine’s face. “Just yesterday he learned to roll over; it was so precious! Anyway, after him you’re more or less home free, but again, Hades is rather contentious today. I wish you all the best of luck!”

He bowed obsequiously and shot Jeannine a dirty look until she reciprocated. Satisfied, Maximilian walked away, pompous as could be.

“All right Bill, Mischa. Let’s cross this river!”

“How?” asked Mischa. “It doesn’t seem very navigable.”

“We’ll take the ferry,” answered Jeannine. “This welcome pamphlet has the schedule on it…let’s see…ah, it should be here in six minutes. We’ll wait quietly until then.”

“But what about –”

“Quietly, Bill.”

Friday, March 21, 2008


Josiah stood opposite Shamus, still in the Coliseum. Cyprus was off to the side, anxiously waiting for the fight that she knew could resume at any moment. The two men stared each other down, both prepared to strike at the slightest provocation.

“Well laddie, are you gonna come at me, or would you rather I come over there and show you what pain feels like?” taunted Shamus.

“I’ll attack you when I’m good and ready. Or maybe I’ll just kill you, because I have an evil plan to initiate!” retorted Josiah, taking out a gun.

Before Shamus could react, Josiah fired. The bullet moved so quickly that even Shamus couldn’t dodge it, and it hit him square in the chest. Under normal circumstances, of course, a bullet would do nothing to Shamus Flanagan – but this was no ordinary bullet.

It was laced with Xenonite, an element only found deep beneath the grounds of Ireland; it was Shamus’s one weakness. Before long, the leader and sole surviving member of the NBA was on the ground, writhing in agony.

“Amusing,” noted Josiah. “You remind me of Mischa, with all the writhing. So, Flanagan, how does it feel to be defeated by me, Josiah Malum, Secretary of Evil? Actually, don’t answer that. I’d rather answer it myself. It probably feels BAD. Right? Of course I’m right. I’m always right.”

Josiah burst into evil laughter, and Cyprus joined in, followed by the entire stadium. Evil laughter is contagious like that. They laughed together for a while, but the novelty wore off after about a minute. Josiah and Cyprus looked at each other and, without a word, exited the Coliseum.

Getting into Josiah’s Escalade, they drove to the apartment where Cyprus had been staying. Josiah was elated.

“Well, Josiah, that certainly went well. Shamus and John are both dead, Mischa’s partner has been eliminated, and Mischa himself would never oppose you, what with his lacking willpower. Everything is perfect. So when will you start that evil plan of yours?” asked Cyprus.

“As soon as the clock strikes 4:00,” replied Josiah.

“It’s 6:30.”

“Oh, well, tomorrow then. I can wait – after all, there’s nobody in this world who could possibly stop me now!” boasted Josiah.

He started to laugh again but shortly realized he had burned himself out for the day, so he quietly settled down and lit a cigarette. Then another.

“You should really stop smoking, you know,” warned Cyprus, who had begun to prepare dinner. “It leads to lung cancer. Wouldn’t that be ironic, if after eliminating all of your enemies, you were defeated by lung cancer?”

“I suppose so, but I’m immune to irony, so I needn’t worry,” responded Josiah.

“Immune to irony?” asked Cyprus, chopping carrots.

“Yes, it’s a very interesting story. I’ll tell it to you sometime, but not now. No, tonight is a night for celebration, not reminiscence. What’s for dinner?” asked Josiah.

“Beef,” said Cyprus. “I’m butchering the cow as we speak.”

Indeed she was, very brutally. Josiah knew then that he had make this woman his wife, or at the very least his concubine.

Of course, she had been reading his mind for hours, and combining precognition with telepathy she was already aware that Josiah would eventually think that; thus, she was prepared.

“I’m not at all attracted to you,” she said, catching Josiah off guard.

“Oh. You’re fired,” said Josiah, recovering surprisingly quickly.

“All right then.”

Josiah walked away.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Jeannine and Bill walked quickly from the Coliseum, trying not to attract too much attention, which was rather difficult, what with the two billion people all staring right at them. They had to try though, because they knew that if Josiah were distracted from his fight with Shamus, they’d probably be stopped; and if they were stopped, they wouldn’t be able to bring John’s body to the Underworld.

“Hey Bill, where are we going, exactly? Is the entrance to the Underworld easy to find, or what? Or do you even know?” asked Jeannine, once they’d reached a safe distance.

“No, I thought you did!” said Bill. “Oh wait, yes I do. Follow me!”

He started running, and Jeannine (who had taken it upon herself to bear the body as her burden) had trouble keeping up with him; nevertheless, she did it, John’s welfare being all that mattered. Bill soon slowed down though, lacking any sort of endurance, and they continued.

Before long, the two reached the mouth of a dank cave. Jeannine was hesitant to move closer, what with the dankness, but Bill went right on in, clearly unafraid – he had glowsticks.

Holding one in front of him like a torch, he led the way down the dark, narrow passage.
This continued for a while, before the two hit a dead end. Bill tapped on it with his glowstick, but nothing happened

“I think we’re stuck,” he said to Jeannine.

“Maybe there’s a password or something,” she suggested. “If you were the Lord of the Underworld, what would your password be?”

“Flapjack!” cried Bill.

Defying Jeannine’s wildest expectations, the back wall of the cave started shaking in response to Bill’s word, and sure enough, it opened wide, leaving more than enough room for the two companions to walk through.

“How did you know that?” asked Jeannine, astounded.

“Know what?” asked Bill.

“The password!”

“Password? No, I just saw Flapjack over there so I said hi. You should talk to him sometime! You’d like him, he used to be a –”

“Well, that’s not important. Come on; let’s go. I don’t know whether corpses can expire, so we should get John to Hades as quickly as possible,” urged Jeannine.

And with that, the two set off through the archway. Immediately the ground dropped sharply; they had reached a staircase. Slowly they crept down the slippery stone steps, taking especial care not to fall. They couldn’t see any of their surroundings; they were engulfed by utter darkness. Bill’s glowstick had long since died.

They walked down the stairs for an indeterminate amount of time before finally reaching the bottom. This area was lit, though dimly; hence, everything they saw had an eerie, sepulchral feel. They continued, even more wary than before of what lay ahead.

Before long they encountered their first spirits. Skeletons and zombies wandered hither and thither, no clear goal in mind; ghosts hovered around them and swooped down whenever convenient. Jeannine grew frightened, but Bill strode confidently onward, glowstick in hand. He was apparently unaware that it was no longer glowing, something Jeannine just didn’t have the heart to tell him.

But then he noticed and started shaking uncontrollably, forcing them to stop. It reminded Jeannine of Mischa (who, incidentally, was following them, on Josiah’s orders – I’ll bet you forgot about that).

“C-Comrades!” he cried. “Why have we stopped walking forward? Is everything okay?”

Bill and Jeannine turned swiftly around and could faintly distinguish Mischa, who was writhing in terror. Although he was indirectly responsible for John’s death and was almost certainly working for Josiah again, neither considered him even a remote threat, so they replied without suspicion.

“Mischa! What are you doing here?” asked Jeannine, friendly as could be. “Are you going to help us bring John to Hades?”

“No, I have actually come to stop you, because Mr. Malum asked me to,” replied Mischa. “I mean, yes, I am here to help you. Forget that first thing I said.”

They moved on.

Monday, March 17, 2008


It wasn’t. Upon seeing the death of the man she so dearly loved, Jeannine sprang forward, out of her seat and into the stadium. She had little difficulty sneaking past the security guards, just as she’d had little difficulty sneaking past the guards the night she first met John. If his life were in danger then, it was in much more now. She reached his body and picked it up, cradling the lifeless corpse in her arms.

“I don’t care what I have to do. I will help you regain your life, John!” she said, tears streaming down her face. “Well, there are a few things I won’t do, obviously. But I’ll do most things!”

Shortly thereafter, Bill managed to extricate himself from the hot dog cart and, ignoring his pain, went down to join Jeannine. He stood beside her, for once at a loss for words. But then he found some.

“I have an idea!” he said. “Why don’t we go ask Hades to bring John back from the dead? My mom told me I could do that when my pet lemming Tissues died, but I was too scared, and I didn’t like Tissues much because he always used to bite me when I took his food away when I was hungry. But I’ll do it for John! He’s my friend, I think.”

“That’s a good idea, Bill. But will it work?” asked Jeannine, choking back tears.

“Almost certainly not,” said Josiah, strutting toward them arrogantly. “No, nothing is going to bring this one back from the dead – not on my watch. I’ll see to it that his corpse is summarily incinerated. Now give it here!”

“No!” protested Jeannine, desperately trying to fight off the much stronger, much smarter man. “Bill, do something!”

“Umm…umm, hey, we can use that whistle Shamus gave us!” remembered Bill, taking the whistle from John’s pocket and blowing it.

A shrill note pierced the air, causing visible pain to everybody in the stadium, including Josiah. In the time it took him to recover, Shamus had already arrived, flying in through the Coliseum’s open roof and landing between Josiah and Jeannine, ready for action.

“Hello there again, laddie!” he called to Josiah. “I’m sure as shamrocks you remember me. I was your driver for a while! Oh, and I also put you into a coma that one time, didn’t I? Yes, it’s me: Shamus Flanagan!

“Yes, I remember you well, Flanagan. You’re the guy who put me into that co – right. But it won’t happen again; this time, I am prepared.”

He wasn’t. Shamus threw a punch that sent Josiah flying no fewer than 90 feet backward, crashing spectacularly through a wall, which crumbled as easily as though it were made of sand.

“I’ll hold him off! You two be gettin' John’s body to the Underworld!”

“Right!” they said in unison.

Jeannine and Bill picked up John’s lifeless body and ran out of the Coliseum. All the while, Mischa looked on, too nervous to choose a side in the conflict. He would rather have been getting to know his new wife, who he noticed had come down from the observation box with Josiah.

“Hello there, Comrade! I mean, Cyprus. Comrade Cyprus. My name is Mischa Petrovitch. I am your new husband!” he said.

“I know. I’m psychic,” said Cyprus.

“Oh. Well, I guess we should be getting to know each other, maybe?”

“No, I don’t think so.”


Meanwhile, the battle raged on between Josiah and Shamus. Neither one seemed to be able to gain an advantage over the other. Mysteriously, Josiah had become many times stronger while in the coma – though the fact that he had undergone an operation to replace his bones with a new, super-dense titanium alloy might have had something to do with it.

They fought to a standstill. The stadium was still packed; everyone assumed this battle was just part of the show. Josiah smirked, lit a cigarette (his first since regaining consciousness!) and walked over to Cyprus and Mischa, leaving Shamus looking on, perplexed as to why Josiah had stopped fighting.

“Sorry Flanagan, but I have more important things to do than fight you. Mischa! You won Cyprus fair and square. John is dead, so by the rules of the contest, you get to marry her,” he said.

“Really? I never thought you would actually follow through with your word! I mean, there is always some sort of a catch with you, Mr. Malum. I am so grateful!”

“Oh, there’s a catch all right. As your superior, I order you to forfeit Cyprus to me.”

“Yes sir, Mr. Malum,” said Mischa bitterly.

“And go find Jeannine and the stupid one; make sure they don’t make it to the Underworld successfully,” ordered Josiah.

“Yes sir, Mr. Malum,” said Mischa again.

“And start trembling when you answer me again. It makes me feel better about myself.”

“Y-yes sir, Mr. M-malum, sir!” said Mischa.

“Ah, yes, that’s it.”

Saturday, March 15, 2008


Rupert was frantically parrying John’s sword with his bowie knife; he feared that he wouldn’t be able to keep it up much longer, as John’s sword was magical and his knife, well, wasn’t. It was also much smaller.

“Give it up, Mischa’s friend. You can’t beat me!” demanded John.

“I killed your zombies, and now I’ll kill you!” retorted Rupert.

Dodging a particularly powerful thrust, Rupert dived to the ground and desperately tried to sweep John’s feet out from under him before realizing John was on a horse. The horse, annoyed, kicked Rupert in the face, knocking him unconscious. Mischa was in trouble.

“I am in trouble, Comrade. Because I have no more Comrades!” he said. “Wait a minute, who am I even talking to?”

“That’s whom, you foolish fool!” yelled John, his horse galloping toward Mischa once more. All of the zombies were now dead, the last one having eaten his own brain (with some difficulty). It was now vis-a-vis, one-on-one, man-to-man – Mischa versus John. The final showdown.

John prepared a mighty strike, one that would sever Mischa’s head from his body if it connected. Mischa raised a white flag in defeat (he always carried a white flag with him, just in case) and fell to the ground in fear, arms over his head. John had won!

Smirking, he raised his sword victoriously and started to take a victory lap around the stadium. He had overcome his rival in combat, proving that he was the superior man; Cyprus would be his!

The crowd cheered, as all of them had been rooting for John. People just didn’t like Mischa. But there was one person in the audience who wasn’t very happy: Jeannine. Although she feigned happiness at John’s win, she was secretly terribly upset at having lost more or less any chance with John.

Bill didn’t realize what was happening, having eaten far too many hot dogs. He was now suffering from acute gastrointestinal pain, which he thought he’d cure by eating more of them.

John was just finishing up his lap when all of a sudden, his horse tripped over the corpse of one of the zombies, unseating John and flinging him sharply forward. He fell violently onto his head, cracking his skull and twisting his neck. He was dead.

An even more thunderous roar now erupted from the crowd. John had won the battle but lost his own life in the process! What a Pyrrhic victory! The winner was now…Mischa.

Mischa, of course, was stunned. On the one hand, he was happy to have won – now he could marry Cyprus. On the other, he was a little upset that his friend had been killed. But on the third, he realized that he had nothing to feel guilty about, as he hadn’t actually been responsible.

Jeannine burst into tears, and so did Bill (because his stomachache was getting even worse). So did Josiah, actually – tears of laughter.

“Oh, that’s rich. That’s great! John is dead, so Mischa wins; but because Mischa actually lost, I don’t have to give him anything,” he chuckled. “This is the best outcome possible!”

“The only thing better than this would be an outcome that also puts your evil plan into action, wouldn’t it, Josiah?” asked Cyprus. “I mean, a better outcome was technically possible.”

“Well, I guess so. But who really cares? I’ll be able to carry out that plan unhindered now! John was the only one who could stop me, and now he’s dead. This is the end!”

Or…was it?

Thursday, March 13, 2008


John, atop a humongous black horse that he had, charged directly toward Mischa, his countenance eloquent with fury. He held his trusty sword, the same one he’d brought into the Den of Errour – but it wasn’t glowing. Mischa wasn’t a threat.

Mischa cowered, his confidence having been completely annihilated by Josiah’s insults; he was prepared to die. But loyal Rupert managed to push him out of the way at the last minute, and John rode harmlessly past.

His army, however, took this as their hint to charge as well, so 50 Danes rushed forward, unsure whether they should be marching with the zombies or independently. The zombies, on the other hand, were more interested in eating those delicious Dane brains – so they did, and half of John’s army was wiped out.

“God dammit,” he said, turning his horse around to go after Mischa once more. “I knew I should have made some sort of battle plan.”

As for Mischa’s side, Rupert was doing all of the fighting. He’d already managed to decapitate ten zombies with his bowie knife, zombie decapitation being one of his many specialties. The odds were still far from being in Mischa’s favor, but they weren’t quite so slanted anymore. This galvanized Mischa, who actually killed a zombie of his own, before being knocked to the ground by another – but then a third zombie ate the second, inadvertently rescuing Mischa from a horrible fate.

Moments later, Mischa narrowly dodged a fatal blow from John’s magical sword. He could feel its edge graze his cheek and was left with a painful scratch.

Rolling across the ground, Mischa called out, “Comrade! You try to defeat John! I will handle these zombies!”

“Are you sure about that, Mischa? You seem pretty incapable of winning against anybody. I mean, you’re just pathetic,” said Rupert. “Besides, I should be able to finish these zombies off quickly enough to have plenty of time left for John.”

“Oh, all right,” said Mischa. “I will just try not to die until then.”

A daunting task.

Meanwhile, Josiah was watching everything, looking down at the battle with great amusement. Cyprus was beside him, also amused.

“Look at those fools, fighting each other with such reckless abandon. And they used to be friends, Cyprus! Friends, until I turned them against each other! Oh, this is so evil. So very, very evil – I love it!” yelled Josiah.

“It is certainly entertaining, Mr. Malum,” agreed Cyprus. “But the Russian is doing much better than I thought he would. Well, his army is, anyway.”

“His arm – oh, you mean that one guy he has with him?” asked Josiah.

“Right, him.”

“Yes, I never would have expected Mischa to find such a competent ally. I’ll have to dispose of him if Mischa actually wins this thing – he could be a threat to my maleficent omnipotence,” said Josiah.

“Really?” asked Cyprus.

“No, of course not – nothing can threaten that. Except my one weakness,” said Josiah.

“And what might that be?” asked Cyprus.

“Can’t you just read my mind and find out?” questioned Josiah. “You do it all the time. It annoys the hell out of me.”

“I could,” replied Cyprus.

“Then why don’t you?”

“Maybe I just don’t feel like it,” said Cyprus. “It gets boring after a while, you know, just reading people’s minds all the time.”

“Oh, okay,” said Josiah. “Well I’m not telling you my weakness. Because that wouldn’t be very evil. And I am-”

"Yeah, yeah, I know..."

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


The Coliseum was filled to capacity; not a person alive wanted to miss this fantastic battle. Many would, of course, have to miss it, as the recently-restored (at Josiah’s bidding) stadium couldn’t hold six billion people. A mere two billion could attend.

Josiah arrived a few hours before it was to begin and immediately sought out Cyprus, whom he found wandering around the stadium floor, unsure of where to go.

“Excellent, you’re here,” said Josiah. “Accompany me to the observation box. I’ll be administering the instructions.”

“I know you will. I’m a mind reader, remember?” asked Cyprus.

“Of course I don’t. Hurry up.”

The two walked up many flights of stairs until they reached the observation box, whence they would view the furious fray. A security guard informed Josiah that both John and Mischa had just arrived, along with their companions.

“Good. Tell them to enter the stadium so I can insult them in front of everyone and make them feel bad. I love doing that,” instructed Josiah. “Oh, and bring me a Pepsi. I love Pepsi.”

Less than ten minutes later, Josiah saw John enter the stadium, followed by an army comprising Danes and zombies. It was most impressive.

On the other side of the stadium he saw Mischa enter, followed by…some dude. This battle looked as though it would be a little one-sided.

“The handsome one will win,” whispered Cyprus. “My psychic powers are telling me so.”

“That’s impossible!” said Josiah. “Telepathy doesn’t give you the power to predict the future. Precognition is an entirely different psychic phenomenon. The third area of extra sensory perception is known as clairvoyance, the ability to be aware of objects or events typically unable to be perceived by human senses.”

“Yes, well, I have all three,” said Cyprus.

“Oh. Well, you don’t even need psychic powers to know that John will win. His army is a hundred men strong, and Mischa’s is only one. Also, Mischa sucks. I always knew Mischa was a loser. That’s why I fired him, you know,” said Josiah.

“I thought he betrayed you,” replied Cyprus. “Isn’t that why you fired him?”

“Yes,” answered Josiah, “but I fired him before he betrayed me.”

“How could he have betrayed you if he wasn’t working for you anymore?” asked Cyprus.

“This conversation is boring me. Get out of my way; I’m going to start the battle!” commanded Josiah, striding forward to the microphone.

Upon seeing the visage of his former boss towering so high above him, Mischa grew frightened, now much less confident in his and Rupert’s ability to overcome the insurmountable challenge of defeating John’s army.

John, however, didn’t notice Josiah at all. He was focused intently on Mischa, the man he would have to defeat in order to gain Cyprus’s hand in marriage. Nothing could stop him now.

Jeannine and Bill were watching from the audience. They hadn’t been able to afford tickets, so they had ambushed a hotdog vender and stolen his uniform. Jeannine donned it; she had Bill hide in the hotdog cart.

He spotted Josiah and pointed him out to Jeannine. She looked up at the Secretary of Evil – and then saw Cyprus beside him. Bitter envy welled up inside of her. She was secretly hoping that John would lose, so that he wouldn’t marry Cyprus; but her sense of loyalty prevented her from voicing her opinions.

Josiah spoke, his voice amplified by some sort of voice amplifier.

Attention all participants. The following battle is to be fought to the death. The man whose army overcomes the other shall receive the hand of the lovely Cyprus Papandrou in marriage. The loser shall be condemned to eternal torment in the fiery pits of Hell. And Mischa, you are a stupid, stupid man and I hope you lose because I hate you. FIGHT!”

Monday, March 10, 2008


The day of the battle finally came. The participants had whittled away the weeks before it in various ways, occupying themselves however they could.

Mischa was at first a little upset because the clones he’d worked so hard to acquire had all died, but he got over it, sublimating his disappointment into determination. He began regularly practicing his proposal to Cyprus, whom he still thought he’d be able to marry. Of course, the odds of his winning were now ridiculously low, what with his no longer having an army.

Rupert, ever the good warrior, had been poring over strategy books, trying to find some masterful tactic that would allow him and Mischa to overcome John, 50 Danish soldiers and 50 zombies. After not finding anything at all, he just gave up, preparing to fight a losing battle, something he really hated the prospect of doing. But he would do it; he was going to stick things out till the end.

Bill, for the entire duration of their stay in Rome, waited outside the hotel. John was hoping he’d just wander off after a few days, but Bill remained glued firmly to the ground. And no, that’s not a metaphor; he was really glued to the ground. Someone had come up to him one night and put glue on his shoes. He struggled for a while but then, much as Rupert had, acquiesced to defeat, realizing it was futile to keep struggling.

Jeannine had been tagging along with John, following him wherever he went. Being very antisocial, however, John didn’t go many places, so it was rather boring for her. They ate dinner together once. Jeannine tried to seduce him; John tried to seduce their waitress. It later transpired that this waitress was actually male, so the resulting situation was very awkward for all of them.

Cyprus was working hard at Office Max. She hadn’t visited Josiah once in the year after Shamus put him into his coma; after all, she reasoned, he couldn’t very well pay her if he couldn’t move or talk. Regardless, she still kept her cell phone with her at all times – she knew that Josiah would awaken in a year, and she wanted to be there when he did. Or else she’d be fired.

Josiah was in a coma. He didn’t wake up until the day of the battle, which brings us right back to the beginning of this chapter.

“Where am I? Who are you?” demanded Josiah Malum, sitting up abruptly. “I’m too important to be in a hospital bed! What day is it?”

He was talking to a clock.

“A stubborn one, eh? Well, I’ll see to it that you spend the rest of your days in horrible agony, for I am Josiah Malum, Secretary of Evil!”

He then realized that the clock wasn’t being stubborn at all; in fact, it had the date on it – and yes, it was indeed the day of the battle.

Josiah stood up, dressed himself and walked to the nearest phone, where he dialed up Cyprus, whose number he still had memorized. He was a very intelligent man.

“Cyprus!” he shouted. “Get to the Coliseum. It’s time to watch some fools fight for you! Mwahahaha! Ah good, I’ve still got my evil laugh down. I was afraid it would atrophy, like my legs. Oh, we’re still talking, aren’t we? Well hang up, you idiot.”

Josiah got into his Escalade (which had been waiting outside the hospital the entire time; the driver had very nearly died from boredom) and drove to the airport, and thence, he took his private jet to Rome.

“It begins…”

It felt good to evil laugh again.

Friday, March 7, 2008


John, Bill, Jeannine entered the castle together. John had his zombies wait outside; he didn’t want to cause a panic. Immediately upon going inside, John gathered the 50 soldiers Pompetus had promised him and set off, refusing the feast that had been prepared.

“No, I do not want another feast. What’s wrong with you people? Don’t you ever just eat normal meals?” he said. “Oh, and Pompetus, you’re fired.”

“What?! But why, my Lord?” demanded the vassal.

“I don’t like you,” said John. “Now let’s go!”

And they were gone. With his army now prepared and that fateful date drawing ever nearer, John decided to go to Rome, where he’d wait out the remaining few weeks before the battle, preparing himself mentally for the ordeal to come.

Meanwhile, Mischa and Rupert had already returned from the nameless island, all 99 of their Dr. Awesome clones at hand. They too decided to wait for the battle in Rome, so thither they flew.

“Well Comrade, I certainly believe that we will win this battle without any problems at all! These clones are awesome!” said Mischa confidently.

“Yes, Mischa, they are awesome,” replied Rupert, “Dr. Awesome, in fact.”

“That was a good one, Comrade.”

“Of course it was. I’ve been working on it all day.”

John and Jeannine rented a hotel room, but being short on cash (he’d forgotten to bring any money from Denmark), they could only afford a room with two beds. John’s army had set up a camp on the outskirts of the city. Bill slept outside, in the dark, empty streets.

“But why can’t I come in?” asked Bill.

“You need to stay out here and…stand guard,” said John. “Make sure nobody…ah, forget it.”

John walked inside, reveling in the sound the door made as it slammed shut behind him. He filled a bucket with ice, walked into his room, double checked the locks and fell fast asleep, not at all concerned about the imminent battle.

Mischa and Rupert, by an astonishing coincidence, soon rented another room in the same hotel. They passed Bill on their way in, and Mischa greeted him, not considering him much of a threat.

“Hello there, Comrade! How have you been? Still traveling with John?” he inquired. “I sure hope he doesn’t think he will win the battle. Because I will win the battle!”

“Do I know you?” asked Bill.

“Of course you do! I am Mischa Petrovitch! This is my Comrade, Rupert. And these are 99 clones of Dr. Awesome. Do you not remember me?” responded Mischa.

“Oh. No, I don’t remember anything. John’s been giving me shots that keep me from remembering things. He says it’s for my own good.”

“That sounds like John, all right!”

“Who’s John?” asked Bill.

Mischa and Rupert went inside, instructing the Dr. Awesome clones to stay put. They naturally assumed the clones didn’t need sleep, or shelter. They were wrong, of course, and all of the clones died.

But they didn’t know it – no, that night they slept peacefully in their comfy hotel room; as did John and Jeannine, in their comfy hotel room; as did Josiah, in his comfy coma.

The battle was coming ever closer. Josiah would be out of his coma any day, ready to resume his malevolent machinations. And Cyprus? Well…she’d been rather busy herself.

She’d taken a part-time job at Office Max. It was very demanding.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


John, using the light from his magical sword – and the terribly out of place yet amazingly convenient light-bulb – searched the cave for what seemed like hours. It was really only about a minute, but time has a way of slowing itself down when you’re bored.

“Oh, screw this,” he spat. “I’m going to take a break.”

John sat down on the damp cave floor and sighed, then noticed that diamond shield again. He stood up, walked over to it and bent down, examining it more closely now. It glistened beautifully in the light given off by his sword, and he knew that he had to have it. So he took it.

Then, miraculously, the room grew ten times as bright. Everything was lit as clearly as though it were daytime; there was nothing John couldn’t see. He then saw, under the shield, an unmistakable trap door, which he opened. He tried peering down into it, but even the radiance emitted by the diamond shield couldn’t penetrate that darkness.

Throwing caution to the winds, John jumped in. Thankfully, the drop was only about five feet, so he didn’t sustain any injuries; and perhaps even more thankfully, he now found himself in a secret chamber which held – you guessed it! – all of Errour’s captives.

Arms and legs bound in iron chains, they were all gaunt and pale, as though they’d been there for many years…which they had. None of them even bothered to look at John; they all just assumed he was a new prisoner, not worth regarding.

“Hey!” called John. “I’m here to rescue you all so you can fight in a battle for me. Come on now, let’s go.”

Nobody moved.

“I killed that monster,” continued John, undaunted, “by using my superior intellect. I’m a genius, you see. What the hell is wrong with you people? You’re free!”

He approached one and smacked him hard across the face.

“Are you even listening to me?” he demanded, now very annoyed. “I went through all this trouble finding the cave and killing the monster and this is how you ingrates repay me? I should – oh, wait a minute. You’re all dead.”

Slightly disappointed, John prepared to leave, when he remembered something. If the diamond shield had the power to illuminate a cave, surely it had other powers as well; perhaps it could revive these captive warriors!

Grasping the shield firmly and holding it aloft, John recalled the time he’d seen Evil Dead, and he proceeded to chant some nonsensical words which, sure enough, resurrected all fifty prisoners. As zombies, no less.

“Great, now you’re all my loyal slaves,” said John, looking upon his handiwork with satisfaction. “Follow me!”

The zombies all obeyed John’s command and, with some difficulty, followed him up the ladder and back out of the cave. Together they marched back toward John’s castle, news which a watchman delivered to Pompetus, causing him to cry.

A short while later, Bill and Jeannine returned, having not found anything on their respective paths. When they saw John approaching the castle, surrounded by a hoard of zombies, they grew worried, assuming they were the monsters residing in the den. They hurried forward.

“Don’t worry John, I know how to deal with zombies!” cried Jeannine. “You just need to decapitate them. Use your sword!”

“No, you idiot,” castigated John. “These zombies are the warriors I freed! They’d all died, so I brought them back to life. Now I have a hundred men under my command: this battle is going to be a piece of cake.”

“Why?” asked Bill.

“Do you want these zombies to eat your brain? They will if I tell them to.”

“Haha, that’s funny, John. I don’t have a brain!”

“Of course, how silly of me…fine, they’ll eat your X-Box.”

“I’ll be good,” said Bill meekly.

Monday, March 3, 2008


John, Bill, and Jeannine finished eating and set off in search of Errour’s den immediately thereafter. Their goal was simple: to free her captives from slavery, and force them to fight in the battle, willing or not. It was a very hypocritical plan. No one minded.

“Now Pompetus said it was ten miles from here but didn’t tell us in which direction, so I say we all split up and take different directions, to cover more ground,” suggested John.

“But then whoever finds the den will have to confront Errour alone, John,” said Jeannine. “I doubt any of us can manage that.”

“I can. And I’m the only one that matters,” said John. “If one of you finds it and dies and doesn’t show up back at the castle by nightfall, I’ll know where to find her. It’s a perfect plan. Everyone ready? Let’s go!”

At the behest of John, they all split up, and each started off in a different direction. Bill went left, the only direction he knew, his mother having given up on teaching him the distinction between left and right halfway through.

Jeannine went right, mistakenly assuming that the direction right was synonymous with the adjective indicating correctness.

John, however, went straight ahead. He would, of course, be the one to find the den of Errour; after all, he is the protagonist. Protagonists are always the ones who find hidden dens.

Look at that, a hidden den, thought John as he gazed upon the Den of Errour. I’ll bet it’s the den of Errour. In fact, I know it’s the den of Errour, because I know everything.

Strutting inside boldly, John drew his sword that he suddenly had and called out, “Errour! I’ve come to free your captives. Unless you want to die, please show me where they are. I’ll give you 30 seconds.”

John took out a stopwatch and started timing. The cave was completely dark. John couldn’t see anything but his watch, thanks to its nifty incandescent little glow.

The air in the den was cold and damp. Drops of water fell regularly from stalactites on the cave’s roof, echoing ominously, emphasizing the isolated solitude of caves.

Then, 24 seconds in, John heard something. It sounded like a snake, but one larger than any could possibly be. He heard a clicking sound, and suddenly the cave was completely illuminated – someone had turned on the lights, revealing the hideous creature: she had the head and torso of a woman, but her lower half was that of a gargantuan snake, slithering and writhing all about. It was Errour.

Why have you come?” she hissed, italicizing every syllable.

“I already told you why I’ve come. If you weren’t listening, that’s your own problem; I refuse to repeat myself to the likes of you,” said John. “You’ll just have to improve your listening skills, monster. Then maybe next time you’ll hear me the first time around.”

My missstake,” she replied. “I jussst remembered that I DO know what you sssaid. And I’m sssorry, but I can’t free the captives. I enjoy watching them sssuffer.”

“Then I’m afraid I’ll have to take them from you,” said John plainly, holding up his sword. “By force!”

It was a fine sword, made by the elves; it glowed blue whenever danger was near. It was glowing now. John had taken it from his throne room before leaving – clearly, it was something Claudius had stolen from his father when he’d stolen the throne.

Out of the corner of his eye, John then noticed something shining on the ground. It appeared to be a shield, but it was made entirely of diamond! He bent to pick it up, then realized that if he were to use it in the battle, it might decrease in value; so he left it alone and charged at Errour.

She was not unaccustomed to fighting humans, however, and before John even knew what was happening, she had him locked in her deadly coils. Within a few minutes, John would be completely suffocated.

But then he reached out and grabbed her throat, choking her to death. Very ironic.

“Now to free those captives!”

Saturday, March 1, 2008


“I can’t wait for this feast, Jeannine. All this heroism has made me hungry.”

John sat at the head of his grand table, preparing for the umpteenth feast that week. Jeannine had actually obeyed John’s orders to help with the cooking, but now she too sat at the table, ready to eat. Bill was nowhere to be seen; John assumed that he was still fixing the hole in the ceiling left by Shamus. He was wrong.

Regardless, the feast soon commenced. Everyone was laughing with joy at the good food and good company, except Pompetus, who was still bitter about John’s failure to die.

“I’d like to propose a toast,” said John, tapping on his crystal goblet with his spoon. “To me! The greatest, smartest king ever!”

“To John!” the call resounded.

“That wasn’t nearly enthusiastic enough,” said John, expressionless. “Again.”

“TO JOHN!” everyone cried.

“Better. Not perfect, but better. Carry on.”

They all resumed eating, and Jeannine took this opportunity to ask John what he and Shamus had spoken about. John was very cryptic, not thinking Jeannine capable of understanding much, but he told her enough for her to be worried.

“But what if you don’t win the battle, John, and Mischa does? Then he’ll get Cyprus, Josiah will make her betray him and all will be lost!” protested Jeannine.

“Mischa won’t win the battle, you fool,” claimed John. “How could he? I’m infinitely better than he is. I doubt he could even win a battle against Bill!”

“What?” asked Bill, who was suddenly present.

“Finish that roof yet?”

“What roof?” asked Bill.

“The one I told you to fix before the feast,” replied John. “You did fix it, didn’t you? If you didn’t fix it, I’m going to be very angry.”

“Fix?” asked Bill.

“You don’t know what fix means? Are you really that stupid?” questioned John.

“Yes,” answered Bill.

“Oh. Anyway,” said John, turning back to Jeannine and grabbing a chicken wing, “as I was saying, Mischa has no chance against me. He’s just…bad. At everything. I’ll win for sure, and then I’ll get Cyprus. After that, I’ll thwart Josiah and we’ll all live happily ever after.”

“But what about me?” asked Jeannine, again upset.

“You? What about you? Well, you can be our maid or something, I guess,” offered John. “You can do laundry, right? I hate doing laundry. It’s just not me.”

Jeannine sighed as John bit into a giant leg of lamb. A few minutes passed, and then Pompetus rose, evidently preparing to make some sort of speech. He waited (unsuccessfully) for the room to quiet down simply because of his standing, then cleared his throat loudly, which worked slightly better.

“King John, it has come to my attention that you desire another 50 warriors. Sadly, as was true before, we do not have the resources to meet your request. There is, however, another alternative. Roughly ten miles hence there is an enchanted den. If you defeat Errour, the monster therein, you shall find all the soldiers you need,” he said.

“Killing all these monsters is getting stale and repetitive,” said John. “First Wendel, then his mother…are you sure there isn’t a quicker way? Something a little less tedious?”

“I’m afraid not, my lord. Destroying Errour is the only way to obtain the men you seek,” said Pompetus. “Of course, Errour can’t be defeated by the likes of you! And when you die trying to kill her, I will be come king! Oh, crap…I really shouldn’t have said that part so loud.”

“To the den of Errour!” shouted John, standing up.

“John,” said Jeannine suddenly, “Do me.”

“What’s that?”

“A big favor, and pass the salt.”

“No. Woman.”