Entry for the Daily Flash Fiction challenge.
| "I have a confession to make," I said to my characters. They were lined up on a couch in my imagination's library. Knight-errant, ranger, mage, thief, and barbarian prince. Slouched in the recliner was their opposite number, the evil overlord, twirling his flame-eyed helm on a finger.
"Oh yes?" the knight asked politely.
"Yeah..." I hesitated a minute, unsure how this news would be received. All these characters did their jobs very well, but...the truth is the truth. "Thing is, that last story I had you all in...it was terrible. I mean, it stank worse than the dark lord's breath..."
The flame-eyed helm fell to the floor with a clang. "Hey!"
"But what was wrong with it?" asked the ranger. She was absentmindedly un-stringing and re-stringing her longbow, a sure sign of agitation. "We'd just broken into the dark lord's throne room, blood and fire everywhere, and were going to whip his tail..."
"Oh, you couldn't whip a cream pie!" shouted the dark lord. He was holding a hand to his pasty face to see if his breath really was that bad.
"Dark lord, put your helm back on, you look like a surprised possum." I had to restore order or I'd never get this characters into a story that would work for them. "That was the problem, ranger. Even though it was intended as satire, it was too stereotypical, and you guys deserve better."
"So what will you have us do instead?" asked the mage with narrowed eyes.
I pointed to my latest draft. "Scene, executive boardroom. Dark lord is now the heartless CEO, and you all are his downtrodden staffers..."
The dark lord muttered, "That's...evil..."
Silence returned to the library of the imagination.