3.32 – That Loving Touch

Location: Nektar’s Cauldron
Timeline: Sixth Age, 47th Year, Spring

Supremely confident that Kaoz wouldn’t stray from the path, I turned my attention to other things.

It’s time I had a break, I sighed while looking out at the vistas from a hidden balcony high in the side of the volcano that was Nektar’s Cauldron. The sun was rising in the east, while mists from the clouds at my height still covered the world below in a gray haze; my keen eyes weren’t bothered by the obscurity – instead penetrating to sights on the ground better than any eagle’s eyes were ever capable of.

Had I cared to actually see what I was looking at, I’d have observed a beehive of slave activity below me – with Derkka continually bringing ore up from the mines, other goblins working the farmlands, and more of the same tending to the livestock – all of them under the command of my myz taskmasters. Yet none of this interested me. Instead my scientific mind was ever drawn back to my first love.

“I need a new experiment. But what?” I asked myself while staring into the rising sun – absorbing the ultraviolet rays. That’s when I remembered. “Captain Gol – why he’s the perfect man for the job!”

Within the hour I was scrubbed, gowned, and ready to get to work on Gol in Life Lab #9 (1). Approaching the metal table which the deformed man was strapped to, I leaned over and looked into my victim’s eyes, confirming he was intelligent enough to realize that the pain coming his way was hopelessly unavoidable.

“You know.” I smiled, giddy with anticipation.

For months Captain Gol had been locked in a cell in one of my most vile dungeons – punishment for his blunder that had cost me the life of Aspus. The fact that he’d survived the ordeal was a testament to the man’s grit – I was hoping this would be the case and pleased that my evaluation of the man had proven true – although whether Gol thought that the dungeons were going to be his final fate or if he had instead contemplated a worse one I’d never bothered to find out (2).

Either way, I knew that Gol must surely have known that when guards from his former platoon came to take him to The Cleansing Rooms – it meant his brief time in the dungeons was coming to an end… and that new evils awaited him.

If you saw Gol’s body, you’d likely have been disgusted by the sight of it — the bloated, dun-colored goblin was naked and the steel wool and sand soap used by the scrubbers in the Cleansing Rooms had left his skin full of red abrasions and raw patches. The blob of a man was also hairless – a requirement for all my Life Lab subjects – and I could tell by the way he twitched that the itchiness he felt was driving him crazy.

After carefully selecting a scalpel from my work station, I again looked into the man’s eyes, ready to make the first cut. Yet as the man stared back at me, I couldn’t help but pause – for the man was looking at me with love.

“Ah, Captain Gol, you’ve always enamored me too.”

Staying my hand from the cut, I instead took a moment to enter the man’s psyche, listening to his mind….

Shedu Mazai, I have failed you. Captain Gol averred to me, even though he couldn’t speak. Do what you will, I gladly accept it.

Well, this is new. I was surprised at the man’s take on his situation since the minds of most (read: all) of my former victims in the Life Labs literally screamed for mercy, begged for release, and eventually prayed for death – anything to escape the pain. And yet, Captain Gol seemed to be different. Had I not been so evil, perhaps I may have even considered letting him go. Unfortunately for Gol, that thought never crossed my mind, for Evil was my middle name. (3)

Flashing my most sinister grin, I leaned in for the first cut…

Two days later I was still in the lab with Captain Gol – we’d shared so many delights and more was yet to come.

So far I’d flayed off numerous sections of his skin, I had his body cavity opened from neck to groin, various internal organs had been removed, and even his skull cap had been sawed off. Everywhere, EVERYWHERE there was blood.

And yet, through the mastery that I possessed, Captain Gol was still very much alive!

Throughout the ordeal, I’d occasionally paused to listen in on Gol’s thoughts but the more I gave my loving touch to his body, the more addled his mind had become. And yet, it wasn’t completely gone. The goblin still knew that while I would eventually walk about of Life Lab #9, he most certainly would not. In addition, Captain Gol stubbornly held on to a singular thought – his mind screaming it like a mantra – Serve Master! Serve Master! I Serve Master!

“And you have, my dear.” I looked lovingly down at what was left of the man. “If I had a heart, you’d have a place in it forever.”

Looking up at me with the one eye that was still intact, I saw that the man understood and I watched as a salty tear of love ran slowly down the folds of his fat cheek.

Then it was that I realized that Captain Gol may well have been my most loyal servant ever – and I vowed to honor him when all this over.

Caressing his bloody hand, I cooed soothing words to my…friend (4).

And then I sliced him open again – for I still had work to do – it was now time to try out my Formula 409…

Two weeks later, I finally paused again.

“Brilliant!” I rejoiced. “Formula 409 is a success.”

Captain Gols’ body lay sprawled atop the work slab – every inch of his skin had been flayed, all his fat had been cut out, the veins in his muscles were clearly visible – and still blood flowed through them (albeit every so slowly).

I’d been studying the black marrow that oozed out from the bone in Gol’s upper left arm – the viscous liquid showing clear signs of the presence of Formula 409 and proving to me that I could use my secret prescription to extend the lives of my test subjects indefinitely.

“Well, it only took me 408 failures – but who’s counting?” I laughed. “I’m glad Formula 409 worked, because I’m not sure the world is ready for what I had in mind for Formula 410!”

Putting down the scapel, I let the good vibes flow through me. “Oh, what a glorious day!” I waltzed around the lab, the catchy tune still with with me.

Eventually I finished the experiment.

While washing up in the basin at the head of the table, the scientific wheels inside my head still churned – always searching for a way to improve on my designs. As I stood there, I took a last look at the now lifeless form upon the table.

It’s true – in the end, I let Captain Gol expire – it would have been too much effort to keep him alive and I had other things on my mind again.

“Could I have done more?” I sighed. “Perhaps.” But then I could feel my pride welling up inside as I let myself bask in the glow of yet another success. “Oh well, friend or not, Captain Gol was only a derk. Baal knows, I can always make more!”

For his part, Gol’s blank eye remained staring up at a small crack in the stone ceiling – it was likely last thing his feeble mind had noted before the pain had over-shadowed all, leaving instead the nebulous blackness that engulfed his unfortunate soul. 

A soul which I, as The Black Harvester, was now eager to engulf!

Nektar’s Notes

  1. As this was a just-for-fun kind of experiment, there was no need to use one of the state-of-the-art Life Labs like Room 101. Room 9 was more than sufficient for my dalliance with Captain Gol.
  2. At the time I was busy working on the Keldar & Kaoz projects.
  3. Actually that’s not true, my real middle name was Leonard, but NOBODY ever called me that… and lived to tell about it. Care to give it a try?
  4. The only mortal I ever named as such.
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