This is for the Bad Girl Blogfest, and is a brief thought on what those evil types are playing at with their dungeons and their Castles of Doom. I was going to go with another extract from one of the novels, but I think this is probably the best chance this one has of seeing the light of day:
From her Throne of Darkness, Livia the Witch Queen stared into her crystal ball. Her lips drew into a thin line at the scene it showed her. Tired, almost collapsing from the effort, a figure peered around the last corner of the labyrinth leading to her Castle of Doom. The toughened leather he wore was already singed from dragon fire, while his helmet was dented and scraped after an encounter with hammer wielding orcs. Still he clutched the box, with its so precious contents.
There wasn’t much time. The hourglass set beside the throne in the bony hands of her enemies showed Livia that soon, so soon, even the waiting figure’s efforts wouldn’t be enough. A few more minutes, and victory would be hers. And with it… she rubbed her hands at the thought, before returning her attention to the crystal ball.
So many had fallen at this final hurdle. The last stretch looked innocuous enough, after the trials of the labyrinth. That had tempted so many to come forward incautiously, only to die as the traps that lined the corridor took their toll. There were whirling blades, and shooting arrows, crushing blocks of stone and cunningly concealed pits.
Somehow, looking at the tiny figure in the maze, Livia knew that he’d guessed they were there. Maybe it was the way he looked like he wanted to run home, and never go out again. Livia hoped he wouldn’t. It would be such a waste. But no, even as she watched, he steeled himself, swapping his look of fear for the sort of expression barbarian heroes would probably have paid good money for.
With that, he was off. He charged at the corridor with almost reckless abandon, ducking and weaving at a full run. Livia watched him roll beneath the blades as they whirled above him, sidestep past arrows, and weave his way through the falling blocks of granite. The pits, she thought, the pits will get him.
Apparently not, because the running figure threw himself forward, over the suddenly gaping expanse where the floor had been. He almost dropped the box he held, but clung on grimly, dragging himself up inch by inch with his spare hand until at last he found level ground.
And that was it. He was through. Livia looked over at the hourglass, but she already knew the outcome. Sand still flowed from past into future, pinch by tiny pinch. For the briefest of moments she considered hiding, even fleeing. But no, she would be strong. She would go and meet him at the entrance, be there when the great oak and iron doors swung back.
They did, and he stepped forward, staggering, but still more than able to press the box into her hands.
‘You did it,’ Livia breathed, despite herself.
‘Yes ma’am. Um…’
Livia knew what the question would be, but she thought the brave soul had earned it.
‘I know we say “Your money back if not delivered in an hour” but isn’t this… well, a bit of an
elaborate way of trying to get free pizza?’
‘It suits me. That was ten pounds?’ Livia pressed the money into his hands. The delivery boy thanked her and settled his crash-helmet more firmly on his head.
‘Was there something else?’ Livia asked. The delivery boy looked uncomfortable.
‘I was just wondering if I could use your phone,’ he said. ‘Only, I need to ring the restaurant and get them to pick me up. I think your dragon ate my moped.’