The people of Vanilla are truly abominable perverts. Everyone knows that.

Every child in the Scarlet Kingdom has at some time been terrified of threats that they would be sent away to Vanilla if they didn’t finish their homework. Every teenager has enjoyed furtive jokes about the Vanillians’ sickening tastes while their teacher’s back was turned. Every Goddess-fearing minion is horrified at their lack of respect for proper religious practices.

Strangely, the people of Vanilla appear to have similar opinions about us and the situation along the frontier is far from friendly .

Although the Scarlet Kingdom usually maintains a tense peace with Vanilla, there are occasional wars and so the border city of Rufus is defended by immense walls and a strong garrison to keep the heathen Vanillians at bay. Although we don’t often see eye-to-eye with the Knights, one thing that always unites the two sides is our shared contempt for the outrageous barbarians who live beyond the border.

And so it was that when he Knights had reported a Vanillian raiding party moving down the main highway towards Vermillion having bypassed Rufus, the town council had gladly agreed to a temporary alliance in order to punish the filthy devils and drive them back to their depraved and uncultured home. Defending the honour of the Scarlet Kingdom from these heathens was far more important than squabbles about the nature of the Queen.

As a show of unity, the combined force of knights and minions marched under the former flag of the kingdom which had prevailed before the ascent of Queen Risqué to absolute power. I was proud to take my place in that force to defend my homeland and my Queen. I was just a new recruit in those days, but I was determined to do my duty for Her Majesty.

Along with my minion comrades we set up a defensive line while the knights continued into the forest. When the vile Vanillians arrived along the Rufus highway and started to assault our position, all we needed was hold our ground until the knights arrived on the scene to spring the trap. When they came thundering out of the forest and charged the Vanillians, the rancid invaders scattered in panic. They hadn’t expected the minions and knights to cooperate but now found themselves caught between our pikes and the knights’ lances, with no chance of victory. The forces of Vanilla were crushed.

After the short battle, we split into small groups to hunt down the survivors of the Vanillian raiding party. I found myself in a party along with three of my minion comrades and two knights. Although I was suspicious of our allies at first, we had a shared purpose and worked well as a unit together, searching methodically for any signs of Vanilla filth. Then, as we entered a small clearing, there he was right in front of us, stumbling about lost.

We pounced. Pinning the Vanillian to the ground along with two of my comrades, I was overwhelmed by hatred and rage.

“Thought you can come into our glorious Queen Risqué’s territory and get away with it, did you? Thought you were going to steal our precious idols and take them back to your disgusting cesspit of a country? Filthy bastards, well we’re going to teach you a thing or two now. Just consider yourself lucky that Her Majesty isn’t here right now, or things would be a lot more painful for you.” Seeing the fear in his face, a wicked grin flashed across mine: “of course, we’ll try our best to deal with you in a way that She would approve…”

“Stop that at once!” shouted one of the knights, urgently. I paused and looked up at his earnest face – “You should know better. He’s our prisoner now. Only the priestesses may judge the accused and sentence the guilty.”

Of course, I knew he was right. Although there was nothing I would have loved more than to see the rancid barbarian’s head rolling on the ground, we had to do things properly and only the priestesses had the authority to decide his fate.

“You’re right,” I said quietly, breathing deeply and trying to calm myself “… let’s take him back to Vermillion.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

Priestess Amalasuntha looked bemused as we dragged the chained captive before her. A dignified but lively woman in her 50s with her brown hair tied back, Amalasuntha was the senior Priestess of Vermillion and was wearing the scarlet robes that symbolised her authority.

“How unusual, boys! A real, live specimen from Vanilla. This will be interesting… I suppose you’d better summon Zenobia and Matilda.”

As well as leading the townspeople in the worship of the Goddess Risque, the three priestesses are also responsible for justice in the towns of the Scarlet Kingdom. This time it was Zenobia’s turn to prosecute the accused and call for the harshest possible punishment, while Matilda would be making the case for mercy.

A couple of days later, we convened in the Chamber of Justice at the side of the Scarlet Temple. The prisoner hadn’t been able or willing to say much in his defence; we didn’t have much sympathy and although we could understand the Vanilla language, their customs and values were so different from ours that it was hard to see things from his point of view.

I don’t remember the fine details of the case. I was too busy admiring Zenobia in her splendid black robes, and anyway we all knew that the man was guilty. Matilda, wearing the white robes for the day, had a tough task arguing for leniency, but she was arguing that as a prisoner of war he wasn’t individually responsible for the outrages but just a pawn in the schemes of his rulers.

“Well the facts of the case are quite clear” pronounced Amalasuntha after hearing her junior colleagues’ cases. The Vanillian creature was caught in the territory of Queen Risque, clearly with hostile intentions. However, it would be a waste of the opportunity if we were simply to execute him now. So instead, we shall try some experiments.”

A hush fell over the gathered townspeople as they waited to hear what kind of experiment the scarlet-clad priestess had in mind.

“Let him experience the Ecstasy; he shall feel the pain and know the pleasure. Let us observe the effect on the Vanilla creature’s mind and then review the case.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

No two people experience the Ecstasy in exactly the same way, and it’s a little different every time. But from my own experience I can tell you, it is an intense and highly addictive experience for a minion. At least once every week I go to the Scarlet Temple in Vermillion to kneel before the magnificent statue of the Goddess Risque and receive visions and messages from Her.

What would it do to the mind of a Vanillian? To experience the Ecstasy once and then be sent back to the desolate plains of Vanilla away from Queen Risque’s wise and benevolent rule and with no chance to feel the pain-pleasure again – that would be true torment. I’d almost feel sorry for the wretch if that was what Amalasuntha had planned for him.

We led the prisoner down into the temple vault. We were going to leave him alone with the idols; they would work their magic, one way or another. As we closed and barred the door behind him, a sadistic smirk was on priestess Zenobia’s lips and a glint of excitement was in her eyes. I always thought Zenobia was great. But even so, I couldn’t stop wondering what was going to happen to the man from Vanilla…

Minion Alex