I stood by the door, my knuckle hovering inches away.
“Yeah, just wait. Just wait until he comes up third staircase, though, that’s when it gets good. I spent weeks planning that part out.”
“Sounds amazing, Boss. I can’t wait.”
“I literally just told you to wait.” There was a loud thump, as if something had been hit incredibly hard. “It’s going to be amazing.”
“Sorry, I meant that I can wait. I’m very excited.”
“Damn right you are.”
My closed fist continued hovering just in front of the door, my stomach feeling as though I’d just plummeted out a window. Maybe he’d be glad I took care of it for him. Yeah, I’m sure that was it. He’d probably even thank me for saving him the trouble. I smiled and softly knocked against the heavy, metal door.
“What is it?”
I shoved my shoulder into the massive door and pushed as hard as I could, bare feet sleeping against the ground as it slowly opened. Shitstain was standing inside, partially naked and clearly afraid as per usual. His head and hands were stuck within a stockade, blood dripping down from his hairline.
“Hey Boss, Assdick is here,” he said, smiling. I didn’t like the name Boss had given me, but I didn’t really have much say in the situation.
“Assdick?” Boss said from behind the door, “What the fuck are you doing here?” He slowly walked into view, his left hoof entering my vision first. I hated the way he walked, it was so damn terrifying. He knew that just one of his over-sized hooves could crush any of us if he accidentally stepped too wide, yet he still walked with unnecessarily large strides everywhere he went. His crush-count grew by the day.
Boss’ incredibly well developed torso came into sight next, the red of his skin glowing slightly under the candle chandelier above his dungeon-themed War Room. If I wanted to, I was sure I could spend a day or two scaling his body and climbing up to his shoulders, making a temporary base camp somewhere between his upper abdominals and nipples. I knew he probably wouldn’t let me though, not because I’d likely die from oxygen deprivation during the ascent, but because it would be weird for me to do so. Plus, as a meager minion of his, he didn’t much care for me. I was hopeful that would change with my great news.
His face was just about as terrifying as the rest of him, two massive white tusks jutting out from between rows of jagged, always-visible, teeth. I’d been told that he’d once had lips, but chewed through them before his first birthday. His eyes always glowed with a slight orange, which was quite useful in knowing when he was coming to murder you in the night. It gave ample time to run away and hope he forgot that you were tonight’s torture toy.
“I have good news,” I said, body trembling beyond my control. I had grown used to the feeling over the dozens of years I’d been enslaved by Boss, though.
“I don’t give a shit,” Boss said. “Why aren’t you at your post? The People’s Champion will be there any second.” I was now sure he’d not heard yet.
“He already came by,” I said, smiling.
“Why aren’t you dead?” Boss said. I had been asking myself that same question for years. “That was part of the plan. You die.”
“I, well,” I said, tilting my head to the side, “I guess I improvised.”
“What do you mean you improvised?” Boss said, the glow of his orange eyes becoming stronger. “What the fuck are you talking about?”
I glanced over at Shitstain, his eyes darting back and forth from within the stockade as if trying to pretend not to be listening.
“I didn’t mean to,” I said. That was kind of the point of improvisation: you do something without really planning it out. I didn’t feel comfortable explaining that to Boss, though, on account of the fact that he’d decapitate me. “It just kind of happened.”
“What the fuck happened?” Boss said, leaning in toward me, his rancid breath almost singing the eyebrows off my face.
“Well, you know how The People’s Champion was supposed to meet me down on the first floor, and then stab me through the heart?”
“Yeah, we rehearsed that pretty heavily. He’d stab you right in the heart, you’d drop some gold on the floor, and then he’d be on his way toward me.”
“Right, well, it didn’t really go that way. See, The Champion showed up, and I ran at him—just as rehearsed—but I tripped.”
Boss leaned back and let out a massive laugh, the chandelier above the large, wooden table reverberating in response.
“That’s it? You tripped? Fine, whatever. We can kill you later, I thought something worse happened,” Boss said, smiling. His teeth were stunningly yellow, as if he went to a dentist specifically to color them that terrible shade. I knew that wasn’t the case, of course, since he never left the castle. He was too busy planning ways to kill The People’s Champion and torturing us minions.
“Not really,” I said, immediately realizing this might not go as well as I’d hoped. “When I tripped, my robe opened up and, well, my sword fell out.”
“And?” Boss said, still laughing slightly.
“Well, when it fell out, it kind of spiraled toward The Champion and lodged itself in his throat.”
Boss leaned back in and placed his pointer finger and thumb around my head, then picked me up. I really didn’t like when he carried me like this, it was degrading and incredibly painful.
“What are you saying?” Boss said, holding me up to his massive eyeball.
“It, well, kind of, you know—it killed him, or whatever.”
Boss’ visible eye grew wide, the orange glow becoming almost blindingly bright as he held me inches from it. He softly placed me back down on the ground and took a step back.
“You killed The Champion?” he said, sitting down in the massive, bone-hewn throne behind him. Some of my best friends helped create that chair, in that their skulls and bodily remains made up its parts.
“By mistake,” I said, backing toward the door. Boss slouched lower into his throne.
“Yeah,” I said.
“Do you know how long I planned for this?” he said softly, lowering his face into his palms. “Do you realize the amount of time I put into this dungeon?”
I shrugged my shoulders. Of course I did, I’d been there every day, every year he’d spent working on the incredibly elaborate series of traps and events.
“I spent the last six years planning this fucking place out. It took me almost half a year to perfect that swinging guillotine on the second floor. Do you realize how many of your friends had to die in order for me to call that thing ready?”
“No,” I said. Although he had made me watch each and every one, I had no idea what the final body count was. Probably somewhere in the lower five hundreds if I had to guess.
“And the lava pit on the first floor—I had to make you retards carry each bucket of molten lava by hand. That took over four months to fill. Four months which have now amounted to absolutely nothing. And don’t even get me started on the disintegrating floors above the spike pits.”
“Well,” I said, “at least we don’t really need to worry about The People’s Champion now, right?”
“Worry about him? It was never about just killing the guy. I could’ve just made it impossible to get over the lava pit if that was the point.”
“I’m not sure I understand,” I said.
“I didn’t want to just kill The Champion, I wanted to humiliate him. To show the world they couldn’t just walk into my castle and take my gold like some sort of game.”
I tried to reach for the doorknob as Boss spoke, but stopped. There wasn’t really much point in trying to stealthily escape the room. It would take all of my strength just to open the door wide enough to squeeze through, and he’d probably notice me struggling as it slammed shut on half of my body.
“I think it’s still pretty humiliating for The Champion to have died at the hands of a minion, though,” I said. I knew I’d be terribly embarrassed if I were to have killed me.
“No, I was supposed to be the one to kill him. It was my name they were supposed speak of when they mentioned how embarrassingly he died.” Boss paused. “It would have happened right outside the door, at the top of the staircase there. It was my Pièce de résistance, I fucking told you guys how cool it was going to be. He’d think he was all tough and mighty after killing all of my expendable minions and stealing all ‘their’ gold. He’d have survived the first and second staircase, narrowly avoiding the swinging axes and walls of spikes that I’d ‘accidentally’ made just a bit too obvious. He’d think himself invincible. Then, just as he climbed that last step, there it would be. No glamour, no elaborate schemes.”
“What would?” I said, genuinely curious. To be honest, I had been pretty excited to hear about what his grand finale would be. I had a feeling that that me accidentally stabbing The People’s Champion in the throat was not exactly it.
“No point keeping it a secret now, thanks to you. Fucking idiot. Imagine this: The Champion is climbing those steps, his shining steel armor covered in your stupid-ass blood, a daft smile on his face. He’s thinking he’s king of the world, about to finally steal all my gold and take down “the terrible, evil Boss” that I am. He’s thinking of all his fans back in town that are going to be worshiping him. Then, as soon as his foot scales that last step, there I am, a god damn crossbow in hand. Who’d expect that?”
“That’s it?” I said.
“What do you mean, ‘that’s it?’ He’d have been training for years to survive terrible traps, to climb perilously over molten lava, to scale spiked walls with almost no protection, only to die to an arrow. Imagine what his followers would think of him, killed by me with a god damn crossbow. Now that’s embarrassing.”
“That seems so anticlimactic,” I said. I had been hoping he’d done something like trained a bear to fight with a sword, or created an exact replica of the dungeon at the top of the stairs so that he’d have to do it all again. I figured I probably would have seen the second one, though.
“Exactly!” Boss said. “It would be hilarious, the look on his face as the arrow plunged into his skull. So many years of training for nothing.”
“I don’t understand how that took a long time to plan,” I said. I knew it was a dangerous question to ask, but curiosity had officially gotten the better of me.
“Do you know how hard it is to make a crossbow when all you have is a castle filled with gold, stone, and dead bodies? Each arrow cost at least three of your buddies’ scalps.”
“That makes sense,” I said. I had been wondering why so many of my fellow minions had been waking up with the top of their skulls showing.
“Thanks to you, though, I’ll never get to see that hilarious reaction. The damn idiots in that town won’t get to hear about how their hero died to a normal, everyday arrow. They won’t know that I killed him,” Boss said, pushing himself to his feet and walking toward me. I glanced over at Shitstain, who was still trying his best to seem preoccupied with the pleasure of being trapped in a stockade. Boss knelt down and punched the top of my head between his thumb and pointer finger, then lifted me up again. “Now we have to wait for the next idiot to come in here and try to kill me so I can get my name out there. Who knows how long that could be.”
“Can’t you just claim you killed him?” I said, doing the best that I could to avoid having my head crushed between his fingers as he carried me across the War Room.
“Are you kidding me? I’m sure you idiots have already told half the world about what happened.” He wasn’t wrong, we did have an incredibly elaborate gossip-train that spanned most of the country.
“Well, anyway, I thought you told us we would be free after The People’s Champion was killed,” I said, body dangling limply as he held me in the air.
“Yeah, no, that was a lie” Boss said, opening up the window behind the massive, wooden table. “I was never going to free you idiots.”
“I see,” I said. I felt a little naïve for not realizing his murderous determination had been fueled by personal glory.
“Strong wind today, might break my old distance record. Try to make yourself aerodynamic,” he said as he flicked me through the open window. It was particularly cold out that evening, especially at over fifty stories up in the air. For what it was worth, I was pretty sure he would break his record. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel that boded quite well for my survival as I plummeted toward the ground below.
Writing Prompt: You are a cannon fodder minion on the first floor of a dungeon, and have just killed the hero. You now have to explain to the boss that you just ruined his pla