Flash Friday 30/01/2014: Damsel in Progress
The characters in this Flash Friday are a reoccuring pair — Overlord and Imp. You can read some of their previous escapades over at Rocks Fall, Staff Management, Premature Ending and Barmy Army, but don’t feel you need to read any of them to read this flash! Each story is its own little self-contained silliness, and any plot that was here has since packed up and left for saner pastures.
The imp believed that damsel auditions were the hardest parts of developing a villain’s career.
“I’m sorry,” the imp said, to the woman with long, black hair standing in front of the overlord’s throne. “We need you to surrender global marriage rights when you take this gig on, so that we can marry you to the prince that saves you in the story.”
The woman sneered as she turned and walked away. “I want to keep my rights, thank you very much.”
The imp tutted as the lady left. “Freelancers. Alright, next damsel, please.”
The next lady in front of the queue stood in front of the overlord and the imp. The first thing the imp noticed about her was that she was not of proper age to be a damsel. The second thing was that, on a leash behind her, she kept a small pug dog that looked perpetually scared of everything.
“I’m really sorry,” the imp said in a soft voice. “We can’t hire damsels that are under the age of eighteen. Them’s the rules.”
The girl nodded. “Oh, I know. I’m not here to audition for damsel.”
“Well, then, get outta the line, we got–”
The overlord held a hand up. “Let the girl speak.”
The imp huffed. “Alright then, what do you want?”
The girl bent down, picking up the pug dog. “My name is Jenny, and I am submitting my dog for the damsel position you advertised. My family is poor, and we’d really like the pay to help get us back on our feet, but I am too young to do work. So, please, won’t you adopt my dog instead?”
Jenny held out the dog. The dog panted happily.
The imp shook his head. “Sorry, pal, but poor background or not, we have a Fantasy story to run here, and a pug dog just won’t cut it as a decent motive for a main character. We’re looking for someone young, beautiful, and willing to marry on a moment’s notice. Isn’t that right, boss?”
The imp turned to the overlord, foolishly hoping for support. Instead, he saw his boss with his hands clasped together, his eyes sparkling as if he had just seen the love of his life. The overlord slowly looked down at his impish friend.
“Do you…” the overlord said. “Do you think we could put a little wig on it?”
The imp sighed. “We are not having a pug dog as our damsel in a tower.”
“Because you’re an evil overlord. Evil overlords go around capturing young ladies in dungeons, not pug dogs. If anything, a bad guy would go around and slaughter the little buggers.”
“Ah.” Overlord lifted a finger, as if he were speaking on a topic he knew more about than the imp. “But surely, if the villain killed a dog during a Fantasy novel, some readers would class it as tasteless and drop the book?”
“Er…” the imp rubbed the back of his head. “Well, yes, but regardless of that–”
“So I was right.”
“Yes, but despite that–”
The overlord wiggled in his throne, a smug look on his face. “So I was right.”
“Look, shut up. The point is, we can’t have a dog as the maiden. We need an actual female human maiden for our position.”
“Well, maybe if you kiss the pug dog, it’ll turn into a beautiful woman. You know, like those frogs and stuff in fairy tales. You always say that stuff does well in Fantasy. So go on, then.” The overlord nudged the imp. “Kiss it.”
The imp wasn’t so keen. “Jenny, was your pug dog once a princess that had been transformed by a witch, cursed by a tomb’s magic, or changed by a magical being keen to teach her a lesson?”
Jenny shrugged. “My friend was selling puppies for one silver.”
“There, see? So it can’t be something you kiss to save. It’s just a regular pug dog, boss, it’s worthless to us.”
The overlord folded his arms. “I still want it.”
“You can’t have it.”
The imp balled its fists. “Because it’s not suitable as a maiden, for the thousandth time!”
“Yeah, but…” the overlord rubbed the back of his head. “Why isn’t it?”
The imp rubbed his temples. “Okay, so picture this. There are two novels sitting on a shelf. The first has a lovely oil painting on canvas cover image of a lady in a tower, peeking out of the window, hoping for her hero, while dressed in the lightest of silks, the sunset illuminating her soft skin…or a pug dog dressed like it’s going for panto?”
The overlord scratched his head. “Second one.”
“It’s uh…It’s, what’s it called again…ah!” The overlord pointed to the air, as if recalling something he was told once. “The first example is a typical case of objectification of women in the Fantasy genre as a whole, which encourages viewing women as sex objects, and nothing more.”
The imps face fell. “Where the hell did that come from?”
“But this pug dog…” The overlord eyed his chosen maiden. She began to pant. “It could be a new change in the genre, you know? ‘A hero seeks companionship, but what he finds at the end is a best friend’. You know, because that’s what dogs are to men.”
“So,” the imp said with the enthusiasm of wet bread, “you want to be the pioneer of the Canine Fantasy genre, is that what you’re saying?”
The overlord said nothing. He simply stood and walked into a room beside the throne room, taking the dog with him. When he re-emerged, he was still holding the same pug dog — but now, it was wearing a long blonde wig, and a small pink dress.
The whole of the damsel queue awwed in unison.
“You see?” The overlord petted the dog with a smug look on his face. “My idea works out after all.”
The imp needed a holiday.