"Thou shalt not tell me my job!" roared Gimbus the Tormentor, standing over his latest victim, who was stretched out on the rack.
"You've hit the spot! My vertebral soldiers have fallen in line for the first time in sixteen seasons! So please pull it tighter!" said Ross, latest victim of Gimbus the Tormentor.
Gimbus took his hand off of the wheel that adjusted the tension on the rack.
"No," Gimbus said, crossing his arms. "You just lay there and writhe in agony. In pain. In mild discomfort. Well, you can just lay there and think about how comfortable you might be if I cranked this wheel. But I won't!"
He tried to make the last part sound threatening, but it just came out as confused.
"Stay there," Gimbus said to Ross, who was manacled to the rack.
"Just one more turn, give me a break!" Ross pleaded to Gimbus' back.
Gimbus crossed the room, dodging around a contraption that looked like it could have been at home in a printer's workshop and the bubbling pits of lava that provided the light and heat to the dungeon. Standing before a mirror that was framed in bone, he touched his mangled fingers to the glass. He pulled it away and there were spots of soot against the silver pane. They disappeared as the reflection of Gimbus' dungeon waved and melted away, to reveal the view of another room.
The room in the looking glass was as luxurious and comfortable as Gimbus' was stark and utilitarian. Where Gimbus had a table covered in spikes, the other room had a sturdy table in rich mahogany covered in silver goblets. Where Gimbus had a shelf with screws, whips and thumbscrews, the other room contained a shelf of Dwarven figurines, so delicate that they looked like they should have collapsed under their own weight.
And, likewise, the face that Gimbus peered into had none of his own pox scars or healed knife wounds.
"What is it, Gimbus?" the man asked. "I thought that when I employed your services you'd take my problems off of my hands and into your dungeon."
"Hello, Lord Gracknok. Er, well, I did," Gimbus said. "The problem is that he likes it."
"Are you sure that you're doing it right?"
Gimbus' eyes narrowed.
"Don't tell me how to do my job. I'm doing it right, he's just not responding. Actually he is responding. But I didn't expect so much smiling. Is this guy right in the head?" Gimbus asked.
"Are you a jester, or a torturer? If you can't do the job correctly, I'll find a Tormentor who can!" Lord Gracknok said, waving his hand at the mirror. The image faded and Gimbus saw the mirror reflecting his dungeon once again.
This time, it also reflected the fury that darkened his face. He stomped over to the rack and gave it a twist.
"Delightful!" Ross said. "I was afraid that your scowl meant that you were going to take me off of this thing!"
"Shut up, or I'll unstrap you in an instant," Gimbus said, cranking on the wheel. "Why'd you get sent in here, anyway?"
"I used to work be Lord Gracknok's servant and, aahhhh, that feels good, then my back seized up during service and I spilled some wine," Ross replied.
"By the tentacles of Urgoth, you're on my rack because you spilled some wine?"
"I know, I'm surprised, too. Lord Gracknok didn't seem like the kind to care about my health. In fact, at the time he seemed more concerned about the wine than my back. I guess it goes to show that you can never judge a nut by its shell."
"I've tortured corrupt priests at the command of their vengeful gods, generals have wept like the families of all the men that they'd killed, and once I even put the thumbscrews to a particularly bloodthirsty vampire. Some men are leaders, others are killers and I know that my lot is to be an instrument, but, dammit, this time the hammer's going to say that the carpenter is an idiot!"
"As is your duty!" Ross said.
Gimbus stomped off towards the stairs leading out of the dungeon.
"Hang on," Ross said.
"What?" Gimbus growled.
Ross' eyes flicked to the wheel.
"Oh, fine," Gimbus said. He went and cranked it.
"Hooray!" Ross said, and drifted off to sleep while Gimbus left the dungeon. He emerged into the violent light of the volcanic plain that was his neighborhood.
"Time to get a little business done," he muttered, while he whistled for his steed. It emerged from its nest amid the broken black rocks above his dungeon. Long, leathery wings shone in the dying light of a weak sun before it fell from the cliff, picking up speed. It only flapped, in three mighty bursts, to slow itself as it landed next to Gimbus.
Lord Gracknok was hosting a dinner party, and was in the middle of a lie about his hunting prowess when Gimbus stormed into the room. All of the men in the room turned to look at the intruder.
Most of them had, at one point or another, hired Gimbus. But now they recoiled from him as if he was an unknown specter that had materialized from thin air.
"I am a professional tormentor," Gimbus said, "and I do lots of chains and screaming and evil cackling, not demerits."
"You wouldn't know it to look at you," Lord Gracknok replied, his voice cold. The dinner guests winced.
"Interesting, interesting," Gimbus said. He walked up to Lord Gracknok, who towered over the shorter, squatter man.
"Guards!" Lord Gracknok said, backing away. He knocked over a carafe of wine, which spilled across the table and onto the floor.
"Don't worry, I ain't gonna hurt you," Gimbus said, still pacing towards Lord Gracknok. "In fact, so many people want to tell me how to be a tormentor, I think I'm going to get out of the racket. The field's getting too crowded with all the amateurs. I'm going to start a new practice. Therapeutic torture. Maybe I'll call it Kinetic Therapy to bring in the skeptical. But there's one thing that I have to tell you."
The guards burst into the room, their swords drawn. When they saw who approached their boss, they silently quit and left the premises.
"Wretches!" Lord Gracknok yelled. Then his foot hit a patch of wine. He slipped and smashed into the floor.
"Oh, my back!" he cried.
"I'll never treat you!" Gimbus said. He left, nodding to several of the men in the room that pretended not to recognize him.
Gimbus went on to become a famous therapeutic torturer, leaving behind him a trail of patients wailing about how great they felt after his treatment. And he never treated Lord Dracknot even though he suffered minor back pain for the rest of his life.
The Moral: don't cry over spilt wine unless it's your last bottle