Nobody appreciates the effort involved with raining down balls of fire on a village. It’s skill, it’s training, it’s a blood sacrifice, and by that I mean my blood, not somebody else’s blood. That’s cheating. It takes dedication to create this kind of chaos, so yes, I want one of the survivors to come to my castle seeking vengeance, stand in my throne room, and point the tip of their measly sword to my breast.
The problem with causing mass chaos and having no witnesses is that you don’t know if the mass chaos had its intended educational effect, since nobody is alive to tell you. It’s quite complicated, especially after the blood sacrifice and all, so once I’ve applied the bandage to my arm I think, Well, maybe that was all for shit. Thus, when someone who fancies themselves a hero appears to announce they’re going to chop off my head, it’s quite gratifying.
She has a crutch and a limp, but she’s walked like that for some time. I see that much in her eyes. This has been an arduous journey—physical, emotional, spiritual, etc.—so I offer a seat I know she will not take, then explain exactly how the village cows, pigs, horses, and chickens had defiled my river for centuries by defecating in it. I appeared to the villagers several times in dreams, and then in the guise of an old woman and told them to stop. That didn’t do the trick even after a decade of warnings. I even had my elves dig a canal for the waste in the middle of the night, which the farmers and herdsmen completely ignored, and so after that, well, the shit gets real. Fireballs, chaos, etc.
Complicating the story always confuses the hell out of would-be heroes, but nobody thinks earth protectors will get pissy and wipe stuff out. I warn them, I warn them, I warn them again, because I have elves and fairies under my protection drinking water with cow shit in it, which is really quite unsanitary. But this would-be hero. I know she was a teased kid, a survivor, and she might not exactly miss the bullies who were burned to a crisp, but it was her village and she has to stand up for it.
No one can say I’m not sympathetic.
By this point she’s lowered her sword, and I ask if she’d like some tea.
“Maybe,” she says. “Are you going to poison it?”
I roll my eyes. “Not after you’ve walked all the way here. That would be rude.”
Given the fireball rain on her village, I owe her something despite the cow shit. I am not the villain she imagines me to be, though no one believes it when you say that outright. She has potential, but I won’t ask right away about her future plans, thoughts on immortality, and feelings on personal blood sacrifice; we can save that for tomorrow. After more tea.
About the author:
Teresa Milbrodt is the author of three short story collections: Instances of Head-Switching, Bearded Women: Stories, and Work Opportunities. She has also published a novel, The Patron Saint of Unattractive People, and a flash fiction collection, Larissa Takes Flight: Stories. Her fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry have appeared in numerous literary magazines. She believes in coffee, long walks with her MP3 player, and writing the occasional haiku.