“Milord, there’s a messenger from Konigreich seeking an audience,” Retter said while saluting. He was wearing a purple steel chestplate with three horns engraved on it. Zollstock and Mina were talking to a few nobles in a ballroom. It was Tafel’s 6th birthday and her parents were hosting a party with all the influential noble families.
“Pardon me,” Zollstock said to the nobles he was conversing with. He turned to Retter. “Take me to him,” he said.
“I’ll accompany you,” Mina said and she curtsied to the nobles. The trio turned to leave the ballroom.
Tafel stood in the center of the ballroom wearing a purple dress. Her cheeks were sore from holding her smile up for the past few hours. A few boys were talking to her when she saw her parents leave.
“And that’s how I-“
“Sorry, but it seems like something came up,” Tafel said, interrupting the boy who was talking to her. She sprinted after her parents, ignoring the boys who called after her. Her parents rounded the corner and she slowed her pace, making sure to stay silent. She followed her parents until they arrived at the city gate, where an armored figure was waiting.
She snuck up right behind her parents and waved at Retter who noticed her. She put her finger to her lips and smiled. Retter tilted his head down a tiny fraction and turned his head back to the armored figure.
“Greetings, demon lord,” the armored figure said and removed its helmet, revealing a yellow skull. “I have a message to you from our mistress.”
Zollstock frowned. “Is your mistress the one you worship?” he asked.
“That’s right. She’s our lord and resurrector, Lindyss the corrupted one,” the skeleton said while smiling, “I take it you’ve heard of her?”
Zollstock coughed. “I, ah, know a bit about her,” he said while angling his body away from Mina, “just from the rumors though.”
“That’s excellent,” the skeleton said. “Would you like a pamphlet?”
“No,” Zollstock said while shaking his head. “I just want to hear the message.”
The skeleton nodded. “I understand. Can I ask why you don’t want a pamphlet, though? Do you already have a figure you worship?”
“Just get on with it,” Mina said as she glared at the skeleton. “Please.”
The skeleton cleared his non-existent throat and reached into his eye socket. He pulled out a piece of paper and handed it to Zollstock.
Zollstock held the paper in front of him and raised an eyebrow.
“Five ways to achieve immortality through daily prayers?” Zollstock asked as he read out the first line.
The skeleton snatched the paper away. “I’m sorry, that was the pamphlet,” the skeleton said. “We store them in our heads to spread the word just in case an adventurer bashes our heads open.” He reached into his pelvic girdle and pulled out a brown piece of paper. “Here’s the message.”
Zollstock took the paper and read it. His face cramped. He folded it and was about to put it in his pocket when Mina snatched it out of his hands. Zollstock tried to grab it, but Mina dodged and turned her back to him while reading it. It said:
I miss you. Pay me a visit to improve the relationship between our two kingdoms. We can stay up the whole night talking about politics and biology. I’m sure our kingdoms will get along just fine with an arranged marriage between the royal families. I’m sorry about the whole incident where your soldiers lost their clothing. Forgive me? I look forward to seeing you and your precious jewels again.
P.S. Sorry about Tafel.
“Oh?” Mina said as she turned to face Zollstock, “and just what precious jewels might she be talking about?”
The skeleton knight let out a cough and sidestepped away from the two.
“Well, I passed on the message to the demon lord and didn’t let his wife see it. The demon lord let his wife see it; it wasn’t me, nope,” it said while nodding. “I’ll be going now.”
“Wait!” Tafel said. Zollstock and Mina jumped and took a step back.
“Tafel!” Zollstock said as he stepped towards her. “What are you doing here? Come, I’ll take you back to your party. Let’s hurry along now.”
“Oh, no you don’t,” Mina said as she grabbed his shoulder. “Explain. Now.”
Zollstock started to sweat and turned around. “We should take Tafel back to the party first, okay honey?” he said, “I’ll explain everything once we’re back.”
Mina glared at him.
“Um, I don’t mean to interrupt,” Retter said, “but shouldn’t you stop her?” He said while pointing at Tafel who climbed onto a horse skeleton with the messenger.
The horse skeleton started to run forward.
“Wait!” Zollstock shouted as his horns started to glow red. “Bring Tafel back here!”
“What was that? You’ll have to speak up” the skeleton shouted back as it got further and further away. “I can’t hear you. I don’t have ears, you know?”
Lindyss walked into the cave, accompanied by a group of fifty undead. Vur was eating a chunk of bear meat in his hands and the five men were on the ground sobbing. They raised their heads and looked at Lindyss.
“We’ve done all we can,” the blue horned knight said through tears. “Please, just let us go or kill us now.”
Lindyss raised an eyebrow. “What happened while I was gone?” she asked.
“He’s hopeless. Absolutely hopeless,” the human musician said. “He’s more tone-deaf than the skeletons.”
“He breaks the cutlery when he tries to eat properly,” the red horned demon said.
“He refuses to dance with any of us because we’re men,” the demon who volunteered to teach him how to dance said.
“He has no morals. He feels no empathy for humans,” Gale said. “He’d make a terrible leader.”
One of the skeletons spoke up. “I’d follow him,” it said and grinned. A few skeletons cheered.
Lindyss frowned. “I guess that was to be expected,” she said and sighed. “I shouldn’t expect the mice to teach the dragon how to behave.” She turned to Vur. “And why aren’t you saying anything?” she asked.
A lump moved down Vur’s throat as he swallowed. “You said not to talk with my mouth full,” he said. The five men glanced at each other and their faces cramped.
“Ah, I guess that’ll have to do,” Lindyss said and sighed again. “Tafel’s probably going to arrive here soon. I set up a new playground for you guys to play in.”
She pointed at the five men and looked at the skeletons. “Take them away to the nearest demon city,” she said.
The skeletons stepped forward and stripped the men of their clothes before lifting them up and carrying them.
“Did you really have to take their clothes?” Lindyss asked.
“We get shy when we walk through the kingdom naked,” one skeleton said. The other skeletons nodded.