"What did you guys do with the lake that was here?" asked Lord Chamberlain Vivvle, with a fair amount of astonishment, alarm and anger in his voice as he looked down into the huge gaping chasm that had been a beautiful pristine lake just yesterday.
"You said we could use it for the moat," said the foreman, or rather, foreorc, pointing towards the construction site, where two frost giants had placed the lake, along with its foundation, off to the side to await completion of the moat. The giants had frozen the lake to prevent it from sloshing while they moved it, and now they watched lazily as two iron-jawed dragons excavated the moat with their mighty mouths.
Vivvle stomped his steel-toed boots and threw his hardhat on the ground. "I meant you could use some of the water to fill the moat, not rip the lake off its hinges and pour it all in! Put it back immediately!"
The foreorc, whose name Vivvle could never remember, said, "Well, alright, but it will have to wait till tomorrow now- Gront and Biphk are going home- they already put in a couple hours overtime moving the lake over there. Had some problems with the feeder creeks. Got it all sorted out now, but I guess that doesn't matter . . ."
Inwardly, Vivvle rolled his eyes. For the millionth time he wished he had heeded his predecessor's advice about always hiring the second cheapest bidder. Monster Construction worked cheap enough- preferring livestock and land concessions (as long as there were villages to plunder) to gold, but they needed close supervision. Stooping down, he picked up his hardhat, which he thought was stupid and made him look like one of the king's soldiers rather than the Lord Chamberlain, especially combined with all the other safety gear he had to wear to tour the construction site- steel-toed boots and safety gauntlets. Worst of all were the strips of phosphorescent moss he wore as a safety vest-the Occupational Safety demons brought them up from their subterranean lairs, but didn't have to wear the stupid things themselves since they already glowed in the dark supernaturally.
He moved on to the actual castle lot, ignoring the hundreds of small fire-lizards busily welding support girders for the interior. The first of the stone trolls were just arriving on shift now, since the sun had set. Obviously the troll masons could only work the nightshift since they would be turned to stone themselves if they were exposed to the sun- and Vivvle had no desire to have a bunch of troll statues littering the king's new castlegrounds. All statuary was already subcontracted out to the faeries anyways- Vivvle would have liked to hire them to do the whole thing but they can't wear any iron safety gear.
Suddenly there was a commotion- one of the trolls had tripped and knocked another one down, and the two had started fighting. One was sent sprawling into some scaffolding, knocking it down. Vivvle's stomach lurched as the huge latticework teetered and began to fall- "Please don't knock down the wall please don't knock down the wall" he prayed . . . to no avail. Ogres and harpies scattered as the whole thing crashed to the ground. Vivvle was apoplectic. But the foreorc was already cussing out the trolls, firing the clumsier one on the spot, and so there was no one to vent his wrath upon. Deciding he had seen enough for the day, he asked one of the workorcs to fetch his chariot.
Vivvle had more than professional interest in making sure the project went smoothly- if the king failed to return from his silly battles, Vivvle would get the castle, at least until the whiny brat prince came of age. Not that he was a treasonous fellow- just very pragmatic.
A workorc interrupted his musings to sheepishly inform him that one of the dragons had eaten his horses.
"Fine." Said Vivvle in a strained voice. "Just . . . get the castle done." And he turned and walked towards the village. He never got there, however, as Gront had realized he had forgotten his lunchbox and had come back to get it, and accidentally stepped on the Lord Chamberlain.
Some months later, when the king had returned from his campaigns abroad, he was absolutely delighted with the end product, which had been finished on time and under budget, and gave Monster Construction a healthy bonus. He did have one question, however, which he put to the foreorc.
"What did you guys do with the lake that was here?"
- Nathan Waddell