Continuing the adventure that began here.
CHAPTER XIX: The Castle of Evil.
“How did you get here from South America?” Weyland asked.
“We had rather good luck with a hurricane,” said Miss Kun. “And how convenient that you should already have been introduced to my loyal if excessively operatic bandits. —Is that tiger always so…lightheaded?”
“He is currently under the influence of catnip, I believe,” Weyland replied.
“Oh! How…cute. Well, gentlemen, and your still-underdressed lady friend, I find myself in a position to continue with my original plan, which was to take you to my father—with a stop in my private playroom, of course. I have such a delightful collection of toys! Some of them belonged to dear old Torquemada himself. And now that I have three of you to play with…”
Instinctively I stepped in front of Tluxapeketl. “You’ll have to kill me before you touch her,” I said defiantly.
“Oh, Mr. Peevish!” said the Devil Princess. “How delightfully gallant! In honor of your chivalry, I might almost give you your wish, though it would be more entertaining to kill you after. My father has no interest in you, after all, so there is no limit to the fun we can have together.” She addressed her bandit friends. “My loyal subjects, you have done well to deliver these three, and their portable tiger, to my custody. There will be Bakelite for all—”
The bandits immediately began singing:
“With all our might
We strive and fight
For our delight—
From mountain height
The world is br—”
“Thank you,” said Miss Kun in a penetrating voice. “That will be sufficient. I will be taking these three, along with their tiger, to my father’s castle, and—”
Kitty began to float away. Weyland had let go of the rope.
“The tiger is no concern of yours,” Weyland said as Kitty floated off into the evergreen woods, rolling and purring.
“It makes no difference. I’ll take you to my father’s castle,” Miss Kun said, “and we shall dispose of you from there.”
We were marched between two rows of muscular bandits until we reached a kind of horseless sleigh almost the size of a streetcar. “My private snow yacht,” Miss Kun explained as a pair of bandits opened the door for us.
The interior was warm and luxuriously appointed, something like the interior of a Packard limousine, but on a larger scale. As soon as we were seated, with watchful bandits beside us, Miss Kun took the controls, and we began to glide across the snowy hills at a very fast clip.
We passed over a blackened patch of ground; looking out the window, I could see that more blackened patches continued into the distance across the mountains, forming a dashed line.
“Welcome to Andorra,” said Miss Kun.
“Are we near your father’s castle, then?” asked Weyland.
“Oh, no, my father’s castle is on the other side of the country. It will take us literally minutes to get there. But we’re about to enter Andorra la Vella, our splendid capital city. There—what did you think of it?”
“It was very…compact,” Weyland replied.
I leaned over to Weyland and asked him in a low voice, “Do you really think she’s taking us to Kun himself?”
“No question, old man,” he replied. “By my calculation, we have only eleven and a half chapters left. This is the proper time for us to meet the principal villain at last.”
We slid quickly along over bouncy hills and vales, and soon a castle loomed up before us. It was built on a commanding crag overlooking a mountain pass, and it appeared utterly inaccessible. Indeed, it seemed as much a natural part of the mountain as the rocks upon which it was built, probably owing to its having been built with the local stone. Turrets and projections jutted out at every angle, taking advantage of the natural features wherever they offered the smallest opportunity for more castle.
We seemed to be heading straight for the wall of rock below the castle, but shortly before we smashed on the rock it split open and revealed a hollowed-out chamber big enough for several vehicles the size of Miss Kun’s snow yacht. We entered and stopped in the middle of it.
Miss Kun turned around to face us. “Welcome to the capital of the world,” she said. “Welcome to Kun the Devil King’s Castle of World Domination.”
“You haven’t conquered the world yet,” Weyland reminded her.
“We have the archdiocese,” she said. “St.-Pierre and Miquelon will inevitably follow, and then—the world! With a few intermediate steps. Follow me, please.”
Our bandit escorts indicated their preference that we should obey her, so Weyland, Tluxapeketl, and I all left the snow yacht and found ourselves surrounded by guards wearing some sort of one-piece blue and red uniform with a yellow lightning bolt across the front. We were apparently transferred into their custody, since the bandits left us at that point. With a line of lightning-bolt guards on each side of us, we followed the Devil Princess through the vast space to a pair of bronze doors at the rear.
Tluxapeketl whispered to me, “Mr. Weyland has a plan to save the world, has he not?”
“He always has,” I replied. “Sometimes two or three.” It would have been more comforting, however, if I had had some idea of what the plan was.
The bronze doors were decorated with a moderne pattern of lightning bolts—my first indication that, at least at the lower levels, this castle was not quite as medieval as it appeared on the outside. The doors opened, and Miss Kun led us into a vast space filled with machinery and devices of every description. The largest was something like a large tube projecting from a great metal drum.
“You can see,” Miss Kun told us, “that we lead the world in technical progress. Whatever can aid us in world domination is being invented in this laboratory right now. Even the death ray,” she added, indicating the tube-and-drum construction.
“Death ray?” I asked in disbelief.
“We have already perfected the bad-cold ray, and we have made very promising tests of a moderate-nausea ray. We cannot be far from the true death ray. In fact, my father and I see a future of entirely ray-based technology. This entire castle, for example, is lighted by illumino rays.”
“How are those different from electric lights?” Weyland asked, looking up at a suspended light fixture.
“Well, they’re not. But we like the sound of ‘illumino rays.’”
“What’s this over here?” Weyland asked, pointing to an elaborate machine on a pedestal.
“That is a single-serving coffee maker. The coffee grounds are housed in an individual round container, which, when inserted in the machine, is penetrated by a pair of pins, upon which hot water is dribbled through the grounds into the cup below. The used grounds and container can then be disposed of neatly as a unit.”
“Extraordinary!” said Weyland. “This device must be seventy years ahead of its time!”
“We think it has great potential. It uses infrared rays for the heating, of course. Right now it is expensive to operate, because the individual containers must be hand-carved from balsa wood by skilled craftsmen; but that will present no problem when the remainder of the non-Andorran race is enslaved.”
Now we came to another pair of doors with the same lightning-bolt pattern; they slid open to reveal an elevator. We entered behind Miss Kun, and a large number of lightning-bolt guards entered with us, making an uncomfortable crowd. The doors closed, and we could feel the elevator rising quickly.
In a few moments, the elevator slowed again, and when the doors opened, we found ourselves in a very Gothic throne room. At the other end of the room, a man in royal purple robes rose from the throne. He had a black beard that fell in waves to his chest, and even at this distance his thick black eyebrows made a strong impression.
“Daddy!” cried Miss Kun, running toward the throne. “I brought you Norbert Weyland and two of his friends! Aren’t you proud of me?”
“Moderately,” said the man we now knew to be Kun, the Devil King. His daughter embraced him, but he paid very little attention to her. “Mr. Weyland,” he said as the guards brought us forward toward him, “I have wanted to lay eyes on you for some time.”
The guards brought us up to stand right in front of the mad, and he looked us over carefully, especially Weyland.
“And now I’ve seen you,” the Devil King said at last. “So there’s no more reason to keep you alive. Guards, take these men and their lady friend and throw them off the balcony.”
Don’t miss tomorrow’s thrilling episode: