There’s a tiny mansion at your feet. Although you'd never actually believed The Naughty Sorceress was your mother, now that you’ve killed her and freed King Ralph, a gnawing insecurity had driven you to ask around. And Scuttlebutt, the pirate you’d consulted at Barrtleby’s Barrrgain Bookstore, pointed you here. According to him, Baron von Ratsworth would have the answers you seek. He'd assured you that the Baron would talk to you even though a) you’re a lowly commoner and b) you killed him and took his top hat, monocle and money clip as trophies just a few weeks ago.
You knock on the door, and after a few moments a sophisticated-looking rat in a top hat and monocle answers it; you’re relieved that you won’t have to offer to return the ones you took. Apparently you’ve caught him relaxing in his salon, as he’s also wearing a tiny ascot and a smart-looking satin smoking jacket.
"You,” he says disdainfully.
“I had a few questions.”
The Baron fishes out a heavy gold pocketwatch and consults it pointedly.
“I’m sorry, but I have a previous—”
“About The Naughty Sorceress,” you add hastily.
His eyes widen enough that his monocle pops out and dangles on its fine gold chain.
“My greatest achievement,” he whispers.
“Yeah, she kind of told me she was my mom?”
The rat replaces his monocle with a sneer. “Piffle! I’ll tell you about the Sorceress.”
Since you’re far too huge to invite into his parlor, he disappears inside and returns with a tea tray. He stiffly offers you some tea, which you decline, and he settles in a fancy porch chair with a steaming cup.
“She came to me only days after her arrival on this planet—”
“The Sorceress is an alien?” you squeal incredulously. The Baron looks down his nose at you.
“You’ve already seen that her true form is that of a floating, slightly overcooked pork sausage. And yet the idea that she’s from outer space is the part that’s giving you trouble?”
You can’t really argue that, and the Baron continues expansively.
“Let’s focus on her true beauty, her real power: her steely will. When I first met her, she was still in sausage form, her preferred method of traversing time and space. Very little energy is needed to propel a sausage through the cosmos.”
Again, you have to agree. That’s just science.
“She didn’t speak English, of course, but we were able to communicate with the Brain Strainer.”
When you just blink at him, he sighs and produces a silver spaghetti strainer. “It sizes to fit any cranial mass and sorts your memories out into long strands so that others may experience them. In fact, it was in this way that I experienced her first goal in this world: to marry Lord—”
“Voldemort,” you gasp. “Of course, it all makes—”
“Spookyraven,” the Baron finishes blandly.
“You know what, here, I’m done with you. You’re a savage and a philistine with no sense and precious little style. She was every magnificent thing, and you are quite common. Good day.”
“I said good day!”
He slams the door behind him, but you see that he’s left a china plate full of silvery noodles on the tray. It looks like the ghost of a nice spaghetti breakfast. Your stomach rumbles, and you decide it’s time for a snack. You slurp up a nice mouthful of– The Naughty Sorceress. Ewwww.
Specifically, it’s a plateful of her memories, which unspool around you in a heady, handy montage: you can feel the burn of planetary re-entry (which explains why she smells a little blackened) and fall to earth in the middle of the Distant Woods. Nearby, you see Bart Ender supervising a group of Little Canadian lumberjacks as they put the finishing touches on the Typical Tavern. He’s chatting with a man who you recognize as Lord Spookyraven, although he looks much younger – well, significantly less dead than when you met him. Not yet un-dead, anyway.
“My dear Mr. Ender,” Lord Spookyraven says. “I still don’t understand why you would want to build your new establishment all the way out here. It’s not exactly a bustling hub, bub.”
“Are you kidding me?” Bart says. “This place is a gold mine! Seventy percent of my business comes from novice adventurers looking to kill basement rats for experience points. Once the rats figured that out, though, they skipped town. So I bought a map off that suspicious-looking guy over there, and found an extremely convenient rat faucet! And check it, Spooky: there was a beer faucet as well.” He holds up a glass of pale liquid. “At least I think it’s beer. It’s yellow, anyway. Trust me, you’ll see a handsome return on your investment in no time.”
You’re viewing all of this through the Naughty Sausage/Sorceress’s eyes, and notice that she seems transfixed by Spookyraven’s classiness: his long coat, his regal bearing, the way the sunlight glints off his spooky spectacles. In that moment, the Sorceress resolves to be his bride. Reverting into her terrestrial form – a multi-eyed, multi-fanged, multi-tentacled mass – she sneaks into the new tavern’s basement where she can observe the natives of this strange, new world through the floorboards. To win the hand of Lord Spookyraven she’ll need something a bit more subtle than her own species’ traditional mating ritual (which begins with candlelight and smooth jazz, and ends with devouring said mate in its entirety).
The basement, of course, is already home to the most gentlemanly creature in the entire kingdom: Baron von Ratsworth.
At first, he plainly hopes that this new intruder will grow tired of staring up at the basement ceiling and leave, but after a few days it becomes clear that an intervention is required. He confronts the Sorceress, expressing himself with genteel restaint, through the medium of the Brain Strainer.
"The courtship ritual on this planet does not appear difficult,” the sorceress communicates. “See that female in the bar upstairs? She appears to be the only one in this entire village, but she simply thrusts out her flesh-lumps and repeats back whatever the male says to her. Using this technique she has mated with three different entities on three consecutive nights. Her execution is flawless.”
You hear a young woman’s voice tittering from the bar. “So you’re a lumberjack? What a coincidence, I’m a lumberjill!” You can almost hear the flesh-lumps thrusting. “Tee hee. Ohmigosh, I’m so drunk…”
Baron von Ratsworth, however, is appalled. “Who, Smurfette Bicycle? Her boorish charms may be enough to enchant the riffraff you see upstairs, but Lord Spookyraven is a gentleman. To catch his eye you’ll need impeccable manners and grace beyond compare. And I’m afraid these are things you’ll never learn by watching the commoners that frequent this establishment.”
The Sorceress begs him to take her as his pupil. At first he dismisses her, but her sincerity of purpose (and also possibly the tantalizing roast-pork scent left over from her interstellar voyage) seems to move him. There are weeks of pitiless drilling in all the refinements and courtly arts: lessons in elocution, the proper use of silverware (no small tasks for an extra-terrestrial without lips and fingers), and deportment. Finally, she is ready.
The Baron arranges for the Sorceress to be introduced to Lord Spookyraven by an acquaintance of his, the owner of Studio 86, a trendy nightclub on The Wrong Side of the Tracks. She orders an extra-fruity girl drink to calm her nerves, but as Lord Spookyraven enters, her confidence swells. She has perfect poise. Her etiquette is flawless. She even has witty repartee prepared for any possible turn of subject manner. Each of her tentacles has been tweezed to fashionable smoothness. She has planned for everything.
Everything, that is, but for Smurfette Bicycle. The very instant the club owner begins his introductions, she appears from nowhere, injecting herself into the conversation. “Your name is Lord Spookyraven? What a coincidence! I’m Lady Spookyraven!” She seems to have spilled something on herself, because the tight garment she is wearing has somehow become wet, which only serves to emphasize her thrusting. Lord Spokyraven doesn’t give the Sorceress so much as a glance, immediately sweeping Smurfette on to the dance floor. Within minutes they’re headed out the door together, Smurfette tossing her hair with a tipsy giggle.
Stung and raging, the Sorceress takes stock. She will bend this world to her will. She will rule with an iron fist! But first, she’ll need a manicure.
She scorns the Baron's attempts to console her. She has seen the kind of power this planet truly responds to, and casts him off. After six months at The Rivers of Joan Spa and a multitude of plastic surgeries (requiring several metric tons of plastic), she possesses a form quite similar to that of Smurfette Bicycle. Her soul, however, is as black as her hair dye, fingernail polish and leather bustier. When she returns to Studio 86, it isn’t with romance on her mind.
“Hey pretty lady,” a very drunk man slurs as she sits down at the bar. “What’sh your name? I’m Ralph. I probably shouldn’t be telling you thish, but I’m a king, you know…”
King? This calls for reconnaissance. She tips the bartender and nods the King's way. The bartender leans over conspiratorially and whispers, “He's a two-mai-tai-hentai, lady.”
The Sorceress gives the bartender a predatory smile. “Two extra extra-fruity girl drinks, if you please.”
You shake your head as the last of her memories leave you. Whoa. The Sorceress was really something else.
The good news, though? Definitely not your mom.