A Tale of an Evil Overlord Failure Mode, In One Act

The Spymaster strode through the dank corridors of the Evil Duchess’s dungeon. His face, as always, was the perfect picture of stillness.

The Evil Duchess met him in a concealed nook of her extensive gardens, as usual.

“Ah! Spymaster!” she greeted him cordially. “I do hope you have good news for me, regarding the imminent death of the Heroine. It would be just so inconvenient to have to get a fourth Spymaster.”

“Yes, your grace.”

“Because I executed the first two Spymasters for incompetence, you see?”

“I do, your grace.”

“But I am sure that you have results for me!” said the Evil Duchess.

“I do indeed, your grace.” said the Spymaster. “I am, shall we say, most excellently motivated by the fates of my predecessors. If you simply read this letter, written by the Hero herself, all will become clear.”

The Spymaster approached, bowed low, and produced an envelope, sealed and re-opened with the emblem of the Hero’s Ring. The Evil Duchess snatched the letter from the Spymaster’s outstretched hand, half-turned, and opened it.

The Spymaster had spent a great deal of self-discipline not including in the pilfered envelope a letter of resignation. However, the Evil Duchess was cunning, a brilliant swordswoman, and a very fast reader. It would have been very gratifying to wait for her to look up, confusion in her eyes, to perhaps demand “Is this a joke-” before the truth dawned.

However, the Spymaster was a professional. So instead, the Evil Duchess started to read an actual intercepted correspondence, looked up only when she saw movement out of the corner of her eye-

The Evil Duchess’s was one of the deadliest swordswomen in the Fantasy Kingdom, with skills to rival even the Heroine. But she couldn’t dodge or parry what she couldn’t see coming, and the Spymaster’s heavy curved dagger cleaved into her neck.

Reflexively, the Spymaster stepped back from the spray of blood as the Evil Duchess collapsed.

“You…” the Evil Duchess managed, in a gurgled whisper. “Heroine…betrayed me…why?”

The Spymaster looked down on the Evil Duchess, and found that his professionalism had reached its limit.

“Why? Why? By the spirits, my lady!” he shouted. “You have threatened my life at least once a week since I entered your employ! You have informed me continually that should I fail to serve you as you desired, you would have me killed! That you would enjoy giving the order! I do not aspire to dance in the Rondeau of Crowns, my lady, but I do enjoy living.”

The Spymaster sighed. Shouting accusations and justifications at a fallen foe was satisfying, but what he said was true. He did enjoy living. Gloating over a fallen foe was amazingly satisfying, but he had taken advantage of the arrogance of too many foolish marks himself over the years.

He hefted his dagger once more. He still needed to handle two tiny details, and make his escape. Thankfully, he had almost finished the first detail already.

“O Heroine, Chosen of the Forces of Goodness! A, uh, package has arrived for you! We opened it, since we feared it was another trick of the perfidious Evil Duchess! But…well, if it’s a trick, it’s a really, really good one. There was a note with the box, from the Spymaster of the Evil Duchess. He says he’s going off to retire on some tropical island with loads of gold that he’s embezzled from the Evil Duchess over the years, that he’s very sorry for all of the assassination attempts, and that he hopes that you’ll choose to let him live out his last few decades in peace.”

“Ah! Can it be? Has my crusade for Truth, Justice, and Mercy inspired him to lay down the knife and adopt a life of peace and cooperation? How brave of him, to draw the wrath of the Evil Duchess upon himself by refusing to fight me further!”

“Ah…Oh Heroine, perhaps it would be best if you looked at what else he sent us, that necessitated the box.”

“…Ah. Um. Well, then. Erm. OK, let’s put this up to Evil Consuming Itself, and never speak of this again.”


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