Dirk Slander: Man with a Mission

Dirk Slander: Man with a Mission

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Dirk Slander: Man with a Mission

"Move your slag Princess!" The henchmen shouted at Princess Bithics, pushing her roughly with the end of his gun. The princess stumbled up the step in front of her and banged her knee on the ground. Dirk Slander struggled in his bonds to move toward her, but his captor tightened the grip on Dirk's neck, and punched Dirk in the back to quite him down.

"None of that." A scratchy voice whispered in his ear. The man's hot breath floated over Dirk's shoulder and assaulted his nose; it smelled of old wine and rotten eggs. "You be a good boy Mr. Slander, or I tell Randolph there to give your Princess the once over." The man punched Dirk in the back again to make his point.

Dirk gritted his teeth and grunted, but didn't cry out. Relaxing a bit, he allowed himself to be pulled back from the princess. She staggered to her feet, tentatively tested the bruised knee, and continued up the stone steps, now walking with a small limp. Dirk had no doubts she was in pain. Sweat beaded around her temples, causing her fine black bangs to stick to her forehead. Dirt was smeared on her cheeks, and blood from her bottom lip trailed off the corner of her mouth down her small but determined chin. She looked nothing like the Princess of Casmir, in fact Dirk would have thought her a different girl entirely if her eyes still didn't hold that radiating icy glare. Dirk had to admire her spirit; most women would be a bubbling mass of emotion by now. The princess had moxy, no doubt about it.

"How much of the treasure did Gorgonzola promise you?" Dirk asked the man behind him, keeping one eye on the princess.

"He promised me enough, don't you worry about that." Bree answered, and jabbed Dirk with the end of his pistol. Dirk grunted again, but managed to keep his footing. "Watching you die is all the payment I need."

"You really think Gorgonzola is going to split with you? What's to stop him from double crossing you the way he double crossed us?" Dirk asked. While he talked, he tested his bonds. He hoped Bree couldn't see him struggling in the darkening twilight.

"Mr. Slander I never trust anyone." Bree said, his voice sounded bored and tired. "Which is why I'm the one with the gun and you're the one marching to your death.

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The difference between you and me, Mr. Slander, is I expect Gorgonzola to betray me, sooner or later. And when he does, I'll be ready."

"You think so?" Dirk asked with scorn. His fingers gently prodded at the knots behind his back, "Gorgonzola knows where the treasure is buried. What's to stop him from bumping you and taking the whole kit and caboodle himself?" up ahead a cold blast of wind came rushing down the mountain. Dirk saw the princess start to shiver.

The stars were beginning to shine and as the party made its way up the mountainside, a full moon slowly peeked over the summit. Large, threatening clouds could be seen hugging the horizon. The air smelled of rain and no crickets or animals could be heard. The wind picked up speed, and as the group progressed upward, they hugged the mountain's chiseled staircase closer. Behind him, Dirk heard Bree laugh maniacally. The laughter was caught by the wind and tumbled down the mountain like a boulder.

"You surprise me Mr. Slander." Bree said, "You think knowing the location is the only thing needed to claim the lost Treasure of Guadeloupe?"

"It isn't" Dick asked, testing his bonds some more, feeling out the pattern of the knot. Dirk almost had it figured out. A few more minutes and he'd be free. He just had to keep Bree talking. Off to their far left a bolt of lightning spilt the night sky. The rolling sound of thunder reached them a few seconds later. Clouds started to block out the star light.

"The location is only half the puzzle." Bree continued. Dirk could imagine the smug look on the rat's face. "Once you find the cave of Guadeloupe you still have to make your way to the treasure chamber. I'm the only one who knows about King Tutakimhia's traps. All I lacked was the starting location. Now, thanks to your princess, I have that also. Gorgonzola might have paid for this little venture, but he still needs me to make the pay off. Without my knowledge he'd never recover the treasure. He'd die trying."

The clouds were rushing up rapidly now, and the wind doubled its assault on the group. Above their heads another bolt of lightning forked its way across the sky, illuminating the party for an instant. A crashing boom of thunder followed the lightning almost immediately. Dirk could just barely see the Princess up in front of him, her silhouette highlighted by the spectral light of a cloud-covered moon. Behind his back he slowly began teasing the knot apart.

"You're certainly sure of yourself, aren't you professor?" Dirk shouted back to Bree. On the base of his neck he felt a raindrop. It rolled down his shoulders and was soon followed by another and another. Rain fell from the clouds in even rhythmic intervals. The drops made plinking sounds against the mountain's stone staircase.

"I can afford to be Mr. Slander." Bree answered, his voice raised in order to be heard over the rain and the wind. Off to Dirk's right the eerie howl of a wolf cut through the storm.

"You hear that Mr. Slander?" Bree shouted, "That's your doom calling."

"What the hell are you talking about?" Dirk asked. He started to unravel the rope a little faster. Another howl sounded, but this one was somewhere off to the left. A bolt of lightning lit up the night and Dirk saw the princess looking around frantically.

"The mad dogs of Juno point, my friend." Bree answered, "Gorgonzola's personal disposal system. Trained them himself. From day one he's fed them nothing but human flesh, and, surprise, that's all they eat. They're in for a treat tonight, a two-course meal: Princess ala' king and Slander ala' mode." Bree laughed again, but his evil chortling was cut short by a loud roar of thunder.

Dirk finished untying the knot, and shook his arms slightly to loosen the rope. He kept his hands clasped behind his back, and thought on how to make the next move. The princess was about five feet in front of him, and she had a guard right behind her. In front of the princess there was another henchman. Dirk figured he was maybe ten, or twelve feet up the staircase. Bree was right behind Dirk, and below Bree there was another guard. All the guards had rifles, and Bree held that little pistol, most likely aimed for the small of Dirk's back. It was dark, which was a good thing, and the rain helped with the visibility, but four guys with guns against one man seemed like a lot to handle. Dirk also had to think of the princess and how to keep her skin in one piece, not to mention the mad dogs of Juno Point once they escaped from Gorgonzola's hoods. It was a tight situation.
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