Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"The Baron of Torture"

"Baron, may I have a word?"

"Oh, yes, please come in, Duke. I can always spare a moment for the King's top adviser. What would you like to discuss?"

"I am afraid you are not going to like what I'm about to say."

"Oh, please. I have heard it all."

"Your performance lately has, well, left a little to be desired. The King is not pleased."

"Not pleased? But I have been doing my job! I have been here day in and day out, fulfilling my royal duties as the Baron of Torture!"

"There is no question of the frequency of your work. It is the quality which must be examined."

"The quality? What on earth is the problem? Just last week I tortured six of the King's enemies! Six!"

"And how successful was the torture?"

"It went well. I was satisfied with my performance."

"Your methods, sire. Your methods concern the King."

"My methods? While unorthodox, my methods are a time-tested trademark of my tenacity for torture!"

"How did you torture your last subject? Did you strap him to the royal stretching device as requested by the King?"

"No. I prepared a feast for him."

“What sort of a feast?”

“It included pies and fruit. The meal was centered on a turkey.”

“Was it poisoned?”

“No, it was broiled.”

"Was he tortured?"

"The turkey? I suppose, but that depends on your views of animal cruelty and-- Oh, you mean the subject? Of course. Actually, now that I remember, he seemed to rather enjoy it. He licked his lips and even said thank you."

"And your next victim? How did you do him in?"

"Oh yes, his torture was a treat. I took him down deep below the castle, where the air seems locked in a permanent winter. I locked him up in a cell, the dirtiest, dingiest cell we've got."

"Excellent."

"Then, right when he wasn't expecting it, I threw money at him! Lots and lots of money! I hurled coins at him until I was all spent, then I ran upstairs, withdrew two handfuls from the royal depository, and returned to throw more money at him! I said, 'Take this, you miscreant! Take all of this valuable coinage! Keep it all! It's all yours!'"

"His reaction?"

"Confusion, mostly."

"And then?"

"Sheer joy, it seemed."

"Right."

"Well, look. Do not be so quick to discard my methods, Duke. I performed a torture just two days ago on the Count of Noyon that was absolutely devilish. My mind is delighted just entertaining the memory! Would you like to hear the tale?"

"Please."

"In the dead of night I mounted my steed and rode to the Count's estate. Disguised in my cloak, I abducted him from his bed, bound his extremities, covered his face with a hood, and sat him atop my horse. We rode twelve furlongs deep into Sperry's Woods! Deep enough for his cries to be rendered silent to the townspeople!"

"Excellent. And then you tortured him?"

"Oh, yes! Of course I tortured him! I am the Baron of Torture, after all. My methods that night were particularly extreme. I hope you are not easily shocked."

"Not at all. So now you tortured him?"

"I pulled the Count from my horse and stood him against a fine birch tree. With the moon glowing atop the night sky, the torture began!"

"Oh, superb. And how did you do it?"

"I assaulted him."

"Physical assault? Brutality? Excellent. You really had me worried for a moment. Perhaps the King will rethink his opinion of you."

"Allow me to finish, Duke. I assaulted him with compliments. I stared him right in the face and shouted, 'You have beautiful eyes! Your eyes are gorgeous and I could gaze upon them forever!' He said, 'What is going on?' but once I started that torrent of encouragements nothing could stop me. 'You are a very humorous individual!' I yelled. 'Many of the things you say are witty! I wish I were as clever as you!' I could tell it was hitting him hard. 'I don't understand,' he said. I took a deep breath and, in my most grizzly, horrific voice, screamed until my lungs were drained of air, 'I am jealous of your muscular legs! The reason you are so successful is because you are incredibly intelligent! You have impeccable fashion sense and your bed looks very comfortable!'"

"How did he take it?"

"Well, he asked me back to his estate afterwards and we stayed up for hours drinking ale and telling stories."

"Baron, I must be honest with you. I think the King is right in his decision to remove you from your position. It seems you do not understand the basic nature of torture."

"Duke, Duke, Duke. You are an impressionable man. I did not want to do this, but it seems the circumstances have arisen. The door behind you has been locked; the tables have turned and I am in charge. There is nothing you can do but submit to me, the Baron of Torture. The horrible torture that will occur in this very room will haunt your every waking hour for as long as you live, and your slumber will be plagued by constant, hellish nightmares. It will begin as soon as my positively torturous chocolate chip cookies finish baking."

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