TYRANT by Nate Stone

“Be gone ruffians! You should be bronzing my face in the town square not soiling my time with such insolence!”

Baron Barnicus ducked as a volley of sticks and bones and broken stones shot towards him from the mob of citizens gathered below his perch on the rampart wall. Hundreds had marched upon the castle gate armed with torches, farm tools and foul curses vexing the very recent and very self-appointed new ruler of their village.

“You were a mere gaggle of barbarians when I arrived!” He bellowed. “My new gardens must be exquisite for the autumn showing. Now cease berating my door and resume your leaf polishing duties!”

The simple clan of smiths and carpenters weren’t equipped to barge through the twelve foot high, outer double doors but with the hand tools they had, were methodically chipping off chunks of wood and prying out nails. Most of the protective outer metal had been wrenched off and the frame was splintered and bent.

Barnicus raised his brow. On top of all this he was training a new Baron named Samuel who had arrived this morning, a full day late and wearing the standard academy uniform about as well as a cat named Fido. With a little more grime on his face he could pass for one of the commoners easily but Barnicus had certainly seen worse and his superiors wouldn’t send anyone over anyone who didn’t need a little polishing anyway.

“Now I hope you are taking notes.” Barnicus said. “Because I am about to reveal the single most important secret to keeping heathen hands away from capital people like ourselves. Follow me.” He led Samuel over to a set of switches set into the wall.

“Levers dear boy.” Barnicus said. “So many wonderful uses for them, do you not agree?”

Samuel might’ve nodded a little.

“Now I realize this is an oldie but I have an unflinching appreciation for the classics. I call this one boiling oil and the humble Baron’.” He pulled the first lever down and scuttled over to leer over the wall.

A panel slid opened and loosed a torrent of scorching brown liquid but instead of striking the villagers, it gushed away from the main gate and directly onto the new garden. The swell deep-fried every flower and blade of green in its path and poured into the moat. Barnicus had to dart back before a massive cloud of steam that erupted from the hot oil and water mix cooked him alive.

A fantastic cheer went up from the crowd and they renewed their efforts on the door.

Barnicus cursed and raised his second brow. “Blasted engineers will have their heads lopped for their directional ineptitude.”

Samual might’ve blinked a little.

“No matter dear boy.” Barnicus grabbed another switch. “You will have the privilege of witnessing another of my levers in action. I call this one tarred and feathered and the glorious Baron.” He plunged it down and scurried over to the edge for a front row seat.

A hatch sprang open at the back of the platform and launched a volley of head sized globes right towards Barnicus.

Barnicus yelped and tried to dodge but his luxury body type wasn’t made for quick.

The orbs exploded in a shower of black goo and drenched him in a cocoon of sticky sap. The glop plastered his hair to his face and the burnt stench sandpapered its way down his throat.

“Samual!” He cried.

Samual reached him just as a second volley of globes sprang out of the hatch.

Barnicus grabbed Samual and yanked him right in the path of them. Some bounced off but Samual took the full brunt of the barrage. Feathers burst into the air and the downy hurricane stuck to everything soaked by the tar.

Everything of course except Barnicus who had human-shielded himself from the onslaught.

“Enough!” Barnicus shrieked. “I will not be rejected! I am your Lord and you will bow to me now!” He ran over to the panel. “Spike lined pit and the suave Baron! Poisoned arrows and the demure Baron! Flying nest of hornets and the grandest Baron of all Baro-”

A globe of feathers plastered Barnicus in the back of his head and he crumpled to the floor in a heap of fluff and goop.

Samual might’ve nailed him with another one just to be sure a little.

Barnicus managed to dig the tar out of his ears quick enough to hear the remains of his front door crash to the ground and scrape the feathers of his eyes quick enough to see Samual and the rest of the villagers drag him down to the dungeon. They deserted him locked in a cell next to a clad-only-in-a-loincloth looking fellow chained to the wall.

“Who are you and what are you doing in my dungeon?” Barnicus demanded.

“I’m your new Baron trainee from the Academy.” He said. “The townspeople captured me before I got to you, took my uniform and locked me in here.”

Barnicus let all the pieces tumble around in his brain until they all fit into place and after a moment of reflection, raised his third brow. “You do realize that my report will reflect your complete incompetence for this disgrace.”

“Mine?” The man’s face went red. “You’re supposed be the mastermind around here! All your corny inventions! All your stupid traps! They’ll roast us alive you pompous ape!”

Barnicus plucked a stray feather from his robe and made his way over to the back of the cell. “I will however, bestow upon you the best piece of advice known to man.” He grabbed a torch bracket set into the wall and pulled it down. A false panel in the wall slid open.

“Levers dear boy.” Barnicus said. “So many wonderful uses for them, do you not agree?” and slipped into the escape tunnel before the stone rolled back into place.

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