Times Are Hard For Villains These Days


Here begin the 'Tales of Verestan', the Dread Lord of Canandor (well, ex- Dread Lord of Canandor, if you want to be exact!). In this first tale of his return he meets Farrell and bargains for a horse.

Lord Verestan of Narayan looked at the man with as much disdain as he could muster, which he had to admit wasn't really that much these days, as he quite simply could not be arsed.

There was a time the merest hint of a rise of his well - coiffeured eye brows, which had been plucked to within an inch of their lives and then shaped to give perfect arches, would have a hundred guards and a pet dragon running to dice the individual into tiny morsels and then obliterate the said individual to dust with a gush of superheated charcoal breath. However, these days, he had found that no one gave two shits, even if he rabidly doused them in a good dose of spittle as the result of a frantic frenzy of righteous anger.

It was all that Azagoth’s fault, walking into his throne room when he was engaged in a perfectly good bout of evil deeds. To this day he did not know how the excessively muscled oaf had got past the multitude of guards and other safeguards that he had set up, but he had managed to get past even his most ardent of defences. And worst of all, the bastard had tamed Verestan's pet Manticore  which had been bred  and trained specifically to rend people limb from limb the moment they got past the last of his defences. Looking back at it, he realised that his mistake had been making the Manticore particularly susceptible to the taste of honeycakes. This was the method that he had used to reward the Manticore during its training regime, and he found that it worked exceptionally well. Whenever it did a trick like sit, fetch, inject people with poison and subsequently gnaw on their bones, the Manticore would be given its favourite sugary sweet treat. That was a method that he would definitely not use again!

“Hey, fella? Are you buying this horse or not? I haven’t got all day you know,” said a brash voice, cutting off his thoughts of Azagoth and his pet manticore.

“My good man! I do apologise. I was just using this period of time to mull over the offer that you had proposed” he lied. He couldn’t remember the exact price that he had said, but he knew that without a shadow of a doubt he was being robbed blind with the price that the scruffy looking scrote was asking.

“Listen” he calmly let the words come out, when in actual fact, all he wanted to do was push his stolen dagger through the man’s eyeball. “ I will give you a quarter of what you ask. We both know that you consider me a pompous fool and you think that you can get at least twice what you paid for it, and then you double the price further to give a good foundation for our subsequent bout of bartering. So for that very reason I will offer you quarter of what you are suggesting, and then we can work from there"

He gave him his most menacing smile, "it wouldn't hurt to try to intimidate the man a little in order to get my point across," he thought to himself.

“Are you trying to scare me, you little prick?” the scrote said laughing. “ I’ve put down blokes, and women for that matter, who are twice the size of you and have beaten the Baron’s champion without taking a single scratch, so you can fuck right off if you think you can give me the dead eye and make me go all weak at the knees.”

The scrote looked at him, cracking his knuckles in order to give Verestan the impression that he was hard and that he shouldn’t be messed with.

Verestan couldn’t help himself. Yes, the scrote was bigger than him and was obviously a little fuller in the figure too, with hands that when bunched into fists were probably about the same size as his head, but Verestan had a thousand and one tricks up his sleeve. He didn’t become a top of the class bad bastard without them.

Before the scrote blinked, Verestan crossed the gap between them,  and quickly punched him in the throat. The scrote stumbled backwards, falling into the stable door where the nag that was the subject of this little disagreement was being housed.

The scrote slid down to the floor, clutching at his throat and gasping for breath. Verestan slowly put his dagger under the scrote’s chin, and smiled wickedly as he watched the scruffy man's eyes widen.

“Now I grant you, that your age may affect your recall of exactly who I am, you would have been what....?”, Verestan paused, looked at the ceiling of the stables, and quickly calculated how long he had been dethroned as the most evil man in the land of Canandor at the hands of the bastard Azagoth. “About twelve years of age?,” he said after quickly evaluating the scrote’s age as being roughly in his early thirties. It wasn’t exact, but he was sure he wasn’t far off the mark.

He couldn’t exactly nod to confirm Verestan’s estimation of his age. If he did, he would have driven the knife that Verestan was holding under his chin into his brain.

Verestan realised the scrote's predicament.

“Oh, I do apologise, you can’t exactly say anything at the moment can you? Well let me save you the bother. I am Octavio Verestan, Overlord of Canandor, well the ex - overlord of Canandor,” he snorted to himself quietly. “Anyways, I was the scourge of the West, the tyrant of the ages.”

The scrote had regained his breath, but he kept still. Statue still!

Verestan looked at the man sitting on the floor, “look, all I ask is that you treat me fairly and give me the respect that anyone deserves, well not everyone, there are people that it is not a good idea to show the utmost respect to. Brigands and the like, you know?”

Verestan raised himself from the floor, hissing to himself.

“Let me tell you young man, there is nothing to get old for,” Verestan uttered as he realised that his knees had taken on a life of their own and were screaming at him in protest.

The scrote raised himself from his prone position, one hand still on his throat, and the other bearing his weight, saving him from looking foolish in front of this strange old man by immediately falling back down again.

“Farrell” the man gasped at Verestan.

“Farrell, the name is Farrell,” his breath coming a little easier. “Where the fuck did you learn to punch like that?”

“Oh, the fighting pits of Meand’all. I wasn’t always an evil overlord you know. Had to work my way up. Get noticed by the evil gods so that they gave me enough power to fulfill my destiny,” he chimed whilst straightening his gloves.

Farrell managed to get himself up off the floor.

“There aren’t any fighting pits in Meand’all. It is one of the most peaceful places in the country. Everything runs like clockwork and the people all seem happy.”

“Of course there aren’t,” Verestan snorted. “The first thing I did as an evil overlord was to shut that place down, execute all the masters and organise the place so that everything ran like clockwork and make sure everyone was in paid employment.”

Farrell looked at Verestan, his brow furrowed. “My father told me this story. I remember now. He told me that Verestan, I mean you, got all the Masters of the pit and made them fight between themselves. I am sure he said that the winners were then tied to stakes, poisoned by his Manticore, and just when they were on the point of death, he incinerated them with his pet dragon.”

Verestan laughed. “ I was especially pleased with that one. Do you know hard it is to stop someone form dying immediately after they have been stung by a Manticore? In fact, I was incredibly restrained when I did that. I did play with the idea of obtaining the services of the Necromancers of Verkall, and bringing them back after they had died so I could get Bertie to incinerate them.”

“Bertie?” Farrell asked.

“My dragon,” Verestan answered matter of factly.

Farrell snorted. “You called your bloody dragon Bertie? I mean nobody calls a fifty ton killing machine Bertie!”

“It seemed to fit, “ Verestan shrugged, and looked towards the stable door.

“Anyway, let’s get back to the matter at hand. The horse! As I recall you were swindling me for that worn out nag.”

Farrell waved his hand, “oh yeah, that! Aaah, take it. Free of charge. I nicked it anyway. Someone had left it tied up outside a tavern and it must have been there for hours.”

Verestan put a saddle on the horse and started to lead it out of the stables. When he was at the door he heard footsteps behind him.

“Lord Verestan? Before you go, I just remembered something. Didn’t you conscript the city of Meand’all to your army and make the elders vow that the generations of children from the city of Meand’all would burn if they reneged on their agreement?”

Verestan turned back to Farrell, smiling with a wicked glint in his eyes.

“That is exactly the reason I am going to find Bertie,” 

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