Interview with the Dungeon Master
by M. L. Humphrey
Table of Contents|
parts: 1, 2, 3
Chapter One: My Worst Day Ever
My day wasn’t going very well, needless to say, and then it got worse.
“Morley,” the editor called, “get your useless carcass in here!”
Actually my name isn’t just Morley, it’s Parker Morley, but Morley’s what everyone calls me. I absently pushed my curly brown hair back. I needed a haircut as well.
“Coming, Mr. Gabble!” I cried. Things are never good when you get called before the editor. I jumped from my chair and scurried down the hall to his office.
“Close the door,” Mr. Gabble commanded.
I couldn’t help but notice the older man looked sad standing by the window peering out at the morning rain. Now I knew I was really in for it. Bad things happen when it rains and the door is closed.
“Yes, sir,” I stammered. “It wasn’t my fault, honest.”
Mr. Gabble swung around to face me. “What did you say?” he asked myopically.
“Uh, nothing, sir; you wanted to see me?”
“Yes. Sit down son,. Read page 8 in the Herald.” He indicated the offending paper on his desk.
“I don’t read the Herald, sir, it’s against policy.”
“I KNOW THAT!” Mr. Gabble boomed. Mr. Gabble never yelled, he only boomed in a loud voice.
If I could have oozed through the slats in the back of the chair I would have been a puddle on the floor beneath it. He pointed at the paper again and I shyly picked it up.
“Interview with the Chief of Guards” was a simple question-and-answer type of interview. We learned these in our first journalism class at university.
“Well,” he sniffed loudly, “what do you think of it?”
I told him about learning all about these types of interviews at university and was about to recite all of Professor Beanbirm’s lecture.
“I know all about that stuff,” he spouted back at me. “Who do you think taught him?”
Boy, was I glad I thought before answering that one. If someone had taught Beanbirm, that somebody would be very old, or dead, by now; probably both.
“Never mind about that,” Mr. Gabble continued. “What I want to know is” — he beat his fist on the desktop — “what do you think about the article? What does it tell you? Is it interesting? Is it relevant? And is it well-written?”
I stared back at Mr. Gabble. “Well, I do find it interesting but not very relevant. We already know what Major Porger does.” I just never thought of it being wrapped up in so many flowery words.
“And how about the writing?”
“Not that great that I can see,” I crowed back. “I can do better without even trying.” Somewhere in the background I heard the spring on the trap being sprung. Sproing!
“Good.” Mr. Gabble’s eyes glowed in anticipation. “I have an assignment for you.”
“You do?” I replied with mixed emotions.
“Yes. And you can start tonight.” He handed me a folder with my name at the top. I opened the folder and read the title: “Interview with the Dungeon Master.”
The particulars followed. Name: Lieutenant Graven Follop. Wait, there were some specks of something on the page. I brushed them away. Oh, it’s spelled Craven Foulup. It listed his occupation as Master of the King’s Dungeons. I had never heard of him and wasn’t sure if I should ask.
“Ah, Mr. Gabble, how do I find him?”
“You do know where the King’s Dungeons are, do you not?” he eyed me suspiciously.
“Yes Mr. Gabble, that makes sense. I’ll get right on it, sir.” I got up to leave.
“Yes, sir?” not wanting to pause too long. Always keep visits to the editor as short as possible; life would get very complicated otherwise.
“I’ll want that on my desk in the morning.”
Gulp. “Ah, yes, sir, in the morning.”
Chapter Two: Watch out for what you ask for.
I didn’t bother to go back to my desk. Instead, I took the stairs down to the street level. I had no idea where the dungeons were. I decided to see my old buddy Corporal Smedly Geez. Yes, it’s pronounced just the way it’s spelled.
I found the corporal at his favorite haunt at the Prancing Deer Pub, half under a table in the back corner and hiding from his wife.
“Hey there, Smedly,” I called to him sliding into the booth beside him. I plopped a fresh brew down on the table in front of him. I could see he’d already had more than I could count. The empties covered the tabletop and too many more covered the floor underneath. That’s a lot of brews.
“Heeey, Morley,” as his head swung around as if he was in a boat on rough seas. “What briiiings yooou in here?”
I better watch myself; I could get sea sick just watching him bob around like that.
“Hey, buddy, I need some information.”
“It will coooo-st yoooou,” as his head bobbed around again.
I could almost swear, not that I do, that it swiveled all the way around once or twice. Maybe I was getting a little woozy watching him bob around like that. I took another sip of my own brew and fought the urge of my eyeballs to roll backwards. What’s in this stuff anyway?
“I need to know where the dungeons are,” I cautiously whispered.
“Yooou waant toooo gooo tooo the dungeon?” He replied with a grin. “OK!”
Then Smedley’s eyes crossed, or did they spin around like tops? I couldn’t tell for sure. I waited for my own to swim back into focus. I sat and waited for his head to fall off, but I wasn’t watching for what he did next. Something hit me on the back of the head and even the dim light of the pub went dark.
Chapter Three: The Dungeon Master. Inquire within.
It felt like a hammer pounding on an anvil when I could feel my head again. I let out a groan and rolled over on the hay-covered stone floor. The movement stirred up a cloud of dust, and I sneezed. Sneezing made my head throb even worse.
As I was trying to sit up, a gruff voice rang through my head like a clapper on a bell.
“Your head hurts, does it?”
I looked up, and up more. Whoever he was he looked twelve feet tall. “Give me a hand up, would you?”
He stared back down at me. “Hadn’t heard that one before.” He chuckled. “What you doing on the floor?”
“Must have slipped on the stairs,” I replied without thinking. At this point it didn’t matter, he didn’t make a move to help me up.
“I’m here to interview Lieutenant Foulup, the Master of the Dungeon.” I checked the guard’s insignia. Nope, he’s only a sergeant. “He’s expecting me,” I added.
“And I’m Sergeant Klugg,” he spoke from up in the rafters above me. Then he bent down and looked me in the eye. “And how do I know this is true? Maybe you’re just a fast-talking deadbeat tossed in for not paying his bills?”
“Just call my editor,” I quickly replied. “Mr. Gabble, he set the whole thing up. I’ve got to have this piece written and on his desk by morning.”
I looked around at the cold stone walls, cold stone floor and small windows up high with thick steel bars. “Hey,” I cried, “this looks like the dungeon. Whoa! I’ll have to buy Smedly another round. He got me to the dungeons.”
“Is that Corporal Smedly Geez?” the guard asked.
“Yeah, you know him?” I asked, bewildered at first. But wait, they were both in the guards, and there aren’t that many; they must all know each other.
“Yeah, I do,” the guard responded. “He married my older sister and good riddance to him.” I noticed the disgusted look on his face.
Only then did the guard reach down and help me up. “You should also check your wallet. What he doesn’t get to drink from his pay he steals from his friends.”
I resisted the urge to check my wallet. “OK, I’m here to interview the Master of the Dungeons, may I speak with him now?”
“Ummm, I guess that would be me,” Sergeant Klugg responded.
I looked the guardsman over. Let’s see, other than standing at least a foot taller, the guardsmen wore the same uniform right down to the heavy leather boots. But the sergeant wore a steel helmet with a spike on top and a hefty wooden truncheon strapped to his waist. That made sense: small rooms, short stick. I scribbled a few more notes in my little blue notebook.
“How come your notebook is blue?” the guard asked.
“Because a black notebook is too hard to find when I lose it.” I scribbled a few more notes. “And you are who, might I ask?”
The guard stiffened and held his trusty, rusty, iron-bound wooden truncheon at the ready. “I am Master Sergeant Tern Klugg. Therefore, I’m in charge of the King’s Dungeons.”
“I was told Lieutenant Foulup was in charge of the dungeons?”
“He holds the title, but I’m in charge down here.” There was no mistaking the pride in Sergeant Klugg’s statement.
“I can see that.”
Chapter Four: Master of the Dungeon
“Ah, Sergeant Klugg,” I asked as the big, heavy oaken door swung shut behind me, “just what does the night watch do down here in the dungeon?” He was giving me the grand tour.
Somehow we had gotten by the introductions and my purpose for being there. If nothing else, Sergeant Klugg seemed pleased to show me around, and I was now in for the night watch and wouldn’t be getting out until the next watch relieved him at six bells in the morning.
The first thing I learned was that the dungeon consisted of six levels, all below ground level, which housed the guard barracks, and the foundation of the royal palace. No wonder I didn’t know where it was.
“The first four levels are where the political prisoners are kept,” Sergeant Klugg informed me as he opened the heavily barred door to the first level. He closed and locked the door behind us and put the key in his pocket. He motioned to me to be quiet as we walked down between the rows of barred doorways.
“How many prisoners are being held in here?” I asked, quietly.
“King Fontare placed several of his rivals in here before he was crowned.”
“Are they still in here?” I asked, shocked that the king had imprisoned his rivals.
“Far as I know,” Sergeant Klugg mused. “Haven’t looked in years.” And he said it with a straight face.
“So we whisper as we go through because...?”
“Well” — the sergeant shrugged — “let’s just say we let things lie where they are. No unpleasantness that way,” as he winked at me. Three hours later, we were down on the fourth level.
Copyright © 2014 by M. L. Humphrey