“Poisoned!” cried Lord Sauding, hurling the bowl away. It arced through the room before getting caught in the sagging badminton net and sloshing its contents in orange glops. The net relaxed and the crockery shattered into jagged bits as it hit the floor.
“Not poisoned, Lord, I assure you,” said Maybrick, sad eyes watching the circular bits of pasta slide in the pooling soup. The Lord’s aide towered over the strange throne, at least as tall as the Caretakers. “You must remember I taste all your food and drink beforehand. The soup was savory.”
“Do not patronize me, you faggotty fuck!” Lord Sauding pressed the thumbstick to spin the throne around to face Maybrick. The gears whirred like arguing metal cats and oily smoke coughed from somewhere inside the chassis. Maybrick looked down his slender nose at the furious creature embedded in the wheeled chair. Maybrick waited patiently as his master blinked and sputtered, his mind stooping to collect the scattered leaves of his thought. The Bell’s Palsy had taken residence in the left side of Lord Sauding’s jowly face, the corner of his mouth permanently relaxed. Whenever he spoke, the image of a toad caught on a hook resurfaced in Maybrick’s mind.
“Yes, my Lord?” Maybrick asked, an eyebrow arched.
“I…I want to see Feign,” Lord Sauding said, his bluster gone. His milky blue eyes brimmed with tears. “I want to play with more keys.”
“I shall send for him immediately,” said Maybrick with a gentle nod, causing a cascade of obsidian hair across his high forehead. He looked again at the pool of soup. Odorless, tasteless…a month’s wages wasted! Maybrick nodded to a spindly black figure hanging on the wall. Oubliette lifted herself off the coat hook and scuttled out of the room.
Lord Sauding rubbed his hands, satisfied. He turned a knob on the armrest and sent the throne trundling forward. He liked to orbit the badminton court as he made his kingly pronouncements.
“Now,” asked Lord Sauding, “what is the next order of business?”