Wombarth the Halfth Watcheth Thee, declared the ubiquitous poster bearing the face of the Dark Lord of Evil and all Thyngs Profane and Harmfulle, plastered onto the gable end of the Hive of Scum and Villainy Tavern. Griffonder paused long enough to whip out a quill and draw a moustache onto the leering visage of the Emperor. For good luck he drew an arrow through his head too. There, that should do it. Griffonder ducked his remarkably attractive head and passed through the low doorway into the tavern beyond. The tavern was typical, it had a counter, some scattered low tables and a Place of Doleful Disposition for the annual public torture-fest. The barkeep and some few patrons were just finishing up the obligatory hourly prayer for the Emperor.
"... and keep safe always the Evil One who masters us, and keep Him Evil and Insane. Amen"
"He's not evil and insane, he's merely misguided and misunderstood" challenged Griffonder as he tossed a coin of the realm onto the greasy counter.
The barkeep gasped and paled visibly. "We don't want any trouble here, stranger. We are a loyal tavern. Ye'd be wanting the Vomiting Nun on the corner. We won't have any sedition spoken here, I'll call the City Guard!"
"Fret not womanly one, you may finish your knitting in peace. I'm only here to meet someone."
The barkeep relaxed somewhat, though anxiety was still written all over his face.
For a thousand years the Empire of Teoti had been ruled by evil and insane despots. Purposely, the people chose those who seemed least able to rule in order to prevent those who wanted to rule from having any power. Amazingly, this worked quite well (all things considered). The empire next door for example, the Realm of the Shining Light of Holiness was always filled with the moans of the tortured, and the sullen silence of the oppressed, and the cheerful crackle of burning heretics. Tens of thousands were roasted alive each year for various offences such as not genuflecting when passing a Pious Brother, not attending service, attending service but falling asleep, not paying tithe, complaining about paying tithe, masturbating, masturbating someone else, having someone else masturbate you... and on and on. That empire seemed to have an endless list of offences, each of them meriting immolation at the stake. On the other side dwelt the Serene Empire of Democracy. It too killed tens of thousands each year, but for different reasons depending upon which faction had gained power in the last elections, which were held every four years. In order to prevent usurpation of power, parties were limited to two consecutive terms. In reality, it made whichever party currently held power mortally aware of how brief their time in office would be, and ensured that they would do everything they could in the short time allotted to them. The present ruling party the Fascist Scum, which had last held power some thirty years before, had at that time destroyed many of their enemies by showtrials and public executions, and had in turn been almost wiped out by the next party which had been elected, the Liberal Twits Party, who had plenty of scores to settle against the Fascist Scum. The intervening years had seen the Fascist Scum keep a low profile as slowly their numbers were built back up, until at last they could once again challenge for supreme power. Now in power once again, their enemy du jour was not the Liberals (almost made extinct by a Commie Bastards backlash) but rather the Intellectual Elitist Swine, who were currently neck and neck with the Fascists in the polls. The number of PhDs in the Serene Empire was now dropping precipitously as the Fascists exercised their power as they saw fit.
In contrast to their two neighbours, the teeming citizens of the Empire only had to sacrifice a few hundred lives a year to the insanity of the Emperor. Of course there were occasional aberrations like Barmy Ben the Bloodthirsty who had ended up killing some twenty thousand virgins to sate his insane lust for fresh blood to drink, and the odd bizarre fetish to deal with such as Horny Henry The Bestial who demanded an annual goat fucking festival in his honour (this had the unintended consequence of allowing every goat fucker out of the closet, and indeed the festival is still eagerly held annually in the far off province of Massachusetts). But by and large the Empire prospered, as long as the Emperor was truly bonkers. And the more bonkers he was, the more the Empire liked it. There was widespread discontent with the current emperor, Wombarth the Halfth. Now one could accuse him of being right up their with the very Essences of Evil such as Xixx the Contumelious, Dastardly Drick the Despondent, or Realitie the Fair Wise and Homicidal. Many commentators believed that the emperor Wombarth was hardly mad at all, and had achieved power with the aid of some nobles, such as Count DJ of Skitz ruler of the land of Skegneth rather than through the disgust and opprobrium of the population, as is right and proper.
Power in the Empire was gained either through the disgust and fear of the population at large, or else through a challenge of single combat. No one in their right mind would challenge someone truly mad (i.e. the emperor of Teoti) and there was also the consideration that only the truly mad could beat an emperor, because really the emperors were fucking bonkers and unpredictable to the nth degree. Most emperors were eventually challenged, though Marksyzm the Meek and Disorderly (widely loved for his habit of giving alms to the poor and sucking out the eyeball fluid of his enemies) had been dead for fourteen years before anyone had dared to challenge him (emperors have to be insane, not stupid).
Griffonder settled his shapely and desirable behind onto a barstool and sipped his lemon beer. Wombarth had decreed that all ale served on Tuesdays (now renamed back, from 'The Third of the Days of Golfhacke' a much loved and esteemed emperor) must be lemon flavoured. It was exactly this sort of lightweight madness that was causing so much dissent in the realm. Griffonder the Bold had had enough of this sort of shit. He gripped his tankard until his knuckles turned white, and then called for marshmallows. As the barkeep slid a bowl of pink and white marshmallow goodness in front of Griddonder, the door opened and in stepped Wombarth the Halfth. "Who here seeketh his death" he boomed, loosening his sword in his sheath.
Challenges for power were always single combat in nature, and the emperor was bound to answer each one in person. After all, it would be mad to do so, and the people therefore wholeheartedly approved of such a notion. Any emperor who failed to answer such a challenge would invite the disapproval of the people, and let's be honest here, any population who could genuinely love and admire a homicidal maniac is not be trifled with.
Griffonder turned his beautifully stunning face to the door, and leaned against the bar. He uttered the traditional words of defiance and challenge.
"You sane bastard, I'll have your guts for garters!"
And then they fell to bloody mortal combat.
The emperor swept out his gleaming blade, and bravely pierced an unsuspecting and innocent bystander in the heart, and then relentlessly swung at the corpse, chopping it into little bits. Meanwhile with total abandon, Griffonder commenced eating all the candles he could get his hands on. Grimly and mutely, the barkeep and his surviving customers witnessed the struggle for ultimate power. Abruptly Wombarth switched tactics, leaving the mess of mincemeat the corpse had become, and instead he commenced smashing walnuts against the counter with his forehead, shouting out 'You bastard!' at each one. Soon his frenzied attack had left him dazed, confused and covered in blood. Griffonder meanwhile had eaten all the available candles, and now in the red glare of the tavern's fireplace, he started stuffing marshmallows up his nose, naming each in alphabetical order one before it was ensconced within his proboscis with a wild thrust of his elegantly shaped finger. 'Albert!' *squish*. 'Bernard!' *squish*. 'Charlie!' *squish*.
The barkeep nodded in approval at the quality of the political discourse he was witnessing. He realised that this was the real deal with neither of the interlocutors ready to give an inch to the other. Gripping point and counterpoint was exactly what the realm needed at a time like this. Wombarth was ranting about betrayal to a footstool and his opponent had reached W (William! *squish*) when suddenly Griffonder collapsed and fell prostrate by the fireplace. His stomach, full of candle wax, marshmallows, and lemon beer, gurgled ominously. The barkeep was no fool and seeing the shapely posterior of the enormously handsome Griffonder so close to a naked flame caused him to evacuate his bowels in fear, and his tavern in haste.
The gurgling within the fair and semi-conscious Griffonder reached a climax, and he farted most inopportunely, flammably, and mortally. The fireplace exploded with great force and vehemence, shooting Wombarth and his footstool out the door and into the gutter beyond, and filling the tavern with lovely cleansing flame. Within the blazing fire could be heard a small voice cry 'Xavier'. And then there was silence, as the inferno engulfed the tavern completely.
On the way back to the Palace of Depravity, Wombarth the Halfth decreed that Griffonder be put on this year's honour's list, and be posthumously given the award of 'Grossest Insanitie' the greatest award a civilian was eligible for.
The emperor shed a silent tear as he signed the decree, and whispered, "Did I not foretell that I would put thee on 'The List'".