It hadn’t taken the Squire long to find Prince Thomas’s empty throne room, and even less to settle into Thomas’ throne with the perfect reclining slouch for conveying a mix of bored indifference and regal disdain. His pose, along with the fact he was flanked by dozens of the most hideous of all the creatures the Dunsany Institute ever produced, should have earned him a lifetime of respect; unfortunately he ran with the wrong crowd.
“Pinhead, how is it that you know your way around here so well?” asked Petra. “And how did you know you could do that with your voice?”
The Squire regarded Petra and gave a half sneer. “I don’t have to explain myself to a kid.”
“We are wasting time,” said Count Bologna.“Why surround yourself with such lovely minions if you aren’t willing to have them do your bidding? At least have them round up that Prince character and his gang of ghouls.”
“Tobias could be with them,” Malus looked about. “What if there is a fight? He could be hurt.”
“Squire,” Emerson sighed. “A wise man once said, and I quote: ‘the needs of us outweigh the needs of them.’ Tobias counts as a ‘them’—even if he did make a better cup of coffee than you did. Wouldn’t you agree Blueblood Avenger?
“Most definitely,” the Count replied with a nod. “And such an appropriate quote. John Stuart Mill, I believe.”
“A THEM?” said the Squire. Several of the sisters hissed when he emphasized the word, ‘them.’ “Tobias poured drinks at the Gangplank just like me! Am I a THEM TOO?” Three of the sisters began to wail in sympathy.
“Calm down!” said the Cog Blocker. “The last thing we want is for your stress to manifest in those creatures. Let’s be level headed about this.”
“What if Thomas is laying a trap, Pinhead?” said Petra. “And don’t you think it’s more than a little suspicious we ain’t seen nothing of the others.”
“What are you talking about?” said Malus, yet despite the sneer, he leaned forward, indicating some interest.
“If it was me in place of Thomas, I’d be hiding,” said Petra. “Waiting for you to send the sisters off.” She gave her bat a half swing. “Best time to attack is when you’re least defended.
“Gah!” The Squire slapped the arm of the throne with his hand. “What is Thomas up to?” In response to the Squire’s outburst, six of the sisters began to sob, while another six cackled with a chilling and manic intensity.
“Squire, I’m with the Cog Blocker on this one,” Emerson held up his hands as though to placate. “Try to tone it down a tad. These new friends of yours seem temperamental. Besides, I’m sure Thomas will wait until after the Martians attack before trying to retake his throne… probably.”
The Squire jumped to his feet.
“Well I must say, this has been one Hell of a night!” Cleetus cursed. “First, the crew goes down there and disappears, then, the capper; when I run off to relieve myself—in the dead of night, mind you, there weren’t no one else about—some ignorant buggers stole my dynamite. The nerve!”
“It’s probably not such a good idea to keep your explosives out in the open… unattended,” said Cyan.
“Eh? What was that—wait…“ Cleetus narrowed his eyes as a movement in the sky caught his notice. “Bugger it! Already? What time you got?” But his question went unanswered as anyone within earshot was distracted by the approaching warship.