Lord Fear drummed his fingers on the table. His nails were nice and sharp and left little holes in the wood.
He was late.
He was always late.
Treguard of Dunshelm, guardian of truth and justice, but not punctuality, it seemed.
“Does his Lordship want anything else to drink?” the barmaid quavered.
Lord Fear waved her away impatiently. Some people became so subservient and clingy when you were holding their families hostage. It was quite embarrassing really.
He glanced at the sundial on the wall. How the thing worked in the dungeon, he didn’t care to ask, but it showed that Treguard the noble was also now Treguard the late, and not in the fun, dead way.
Lord Fear reached into his cloak, withdrawing his scrying glass, and peered into it. It was always trickier to get an eye on someone when they were on the move, but Binky was a good boy and had his collar on. They were on their way at least.
He drummed his fingers on the tabletop again.
The Dungeoneer’s Rest was quieter than usual. Treguard hadn’t unleashed yet another visually impaired child, so with no one to help or hinder, most of the peasants were elsewhere, doing whatever it was that peasants did.
It was boring.
There wasn’t even a game to launch sharp projectiles at a target - moving or otherwise.
Lord Fear peered into the scrying glass again, narrowing his eyes.
Binky was within visual distance, and he was wearing some kind of abomination on his head.
“Why, you cunning old fool,” Fear murmured. “Descending to bribery? And I thought you were meant to be the good one.” He rose from the chair and looked around for the cowering barmaid. Of course she’d scampered, so he had to drag his chair over to the fireplace himself. It would cast more dramatic shadows.
He arranged his cloak and sat down in the chair just as the doors swung open.
Treguard of Dunshelm strode into the room.
Of course he couldn’t just walk into a room, not the all-powerful Dungeonmaster. He had to let his crotch lead, didn’t he?
“Don’t even think about saying it,” Lord Fear snapped, when Treguard opened his mouth. “What time do you call this?”
Binky scampered in behind the stupid Dungeonmaster, then whimpered and ducked behind him.
“Easy, boy,” Treguard said. “Lord Fear isn’t angry.”
Lord Fear crossed his arms, then his legs. “Oh he isn’t, is he? You’re an hour late! I thought we made the arrangements for Binky very clear.”
Treguard puffed out his chest. “I do what I must for the well-being of the goblin.”
“What do you mean ‘ha’?” The puff was gone and Treguard suddenly looked and sounded like a petulant child. “So what if he gets to have a little more fun with me? I only get him on weekends!”
“Yes, and do we remember why?” Lord Fear demanded, rising, his hands on his hips. “Do we remember who made him sick by letting him feed on the contents of a Dungeoneer’s knapsack? Do we remember who had to clean up that mess?”
“Well, I’m assuming it was one of your minions…”
“Tch!” Lord Fear waved a hand. “That’s not the point! It was my floor and therefore, my problem!”
“Yes, because you take such good care of him otherwise,” Treguard snorted.
“At least I don’t put a helmet on him and send him to his death!”
Treguard drew himself up. “Is this about the Dungeoneers again?”
“It’s always about the Dungeoneers,” Lord Fear sneered. “What? You got the castle, but you can’t stand that I got all the contents? You can’t just leave all those crowns and swords where they are, can you? Noooooo. You have to send in your little ‘Dungeoneers’ to steal them back.”
Treguard looked around uncomfortably. “I don’t want to have this conversation here, Fear.”
“Ah!” Lord Fear held up his hand. “We’re not on intimate terms anymore, Treguard. It’s Lord Fear, and I’d thank you to remember that.”
“Fine!” Treguard snapped, throwing up his hands, his cloak billowing in that stupid, dramatic way that it always did. No decent cloak would billow like that, not if you wanted it to keep off the damp. “Lord Fear, then. I’m sorry we were late.”
“And that you took him to that wretched theme park?” Lord Fear demanded. He waved emphatically at the cap on Binky’s head. “Did you think I wouldn’t notice? Oh, Lord Fear is much to preoccupied being a working villain to actually see that his goblin has come home with a new hat? And just how much sugar did you let him have? You know what a hyperactive goblin can do to a nice, filthy dungeon!”
“What? It’s my fault he makes it worse?”
“Well, I don’t see anyone else around here.” Lord Fear prowled closer. His cloak flared. Not dramatically, but ominously, like a good evil cloak should. He jabbed Treguard in the middle of the chest. “You don’t know the first thing about taking care of anyone!”
Treguard never really seemed that tall, but when he was annoyed he seemed to grow a few inches of moral indignation. “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Oh, don’t I?” Lord Fear said, nose-to-nose with him, one hand twisting into the collar of Treguard’s shirt. “I know more than you think.”
“About being evil, I’m sure,” Treguard growled. “You’re a scoundrel and a fiend and know nothing of goodness.”
“Ooh, say it again,” Lord Fear simpered. “Tell me how bad I am.”
Treguard folded his arms across his chest and scowled. It made him look like a huffy wall demon, which only made Lord Fear grin even more. It was so easy to get under Mr-Goodie-Two-Shoes’ skin.
“We’re done here, Fear,” Treguard growled like a bear with a sore head. “Finished.” He turned and stormed towards the open door.
“Until you send one of your little spelunkers in,” Lord Fear called after him, grinning all the wider. “I do so look forward to their visits. The walls look so bland without a splatter of blood across them. Try and get me someone juicy this time. Someone who will spray.”
Treguard looked back from the doorway. “One is coming who will defeat you, Fear, mark my words!”
Lord Fear feigned error, throwing up his hands. “Oh no! I’m shaking in my boots! I do hope I’ll be able to see them over the pile of desiccated corpses of the young!”
Treguard huffed in outrage and turned and stalked out the door.
Lord Fear made a face at his back, and turned on Binky when the goblin sniggered.
“And just what do you think you’re laughing at, you little traitor?”
Binky put out his tongue, clapped his hands over his cap.
Lord Fear pinched the bridge of his nose. “I’m surrounded by idiots,” he muttered to himself. “Come on, Binky. Home.”