"Your Majesty," he says, "the signs in the sky indicate the presence of a Thread on the Outside. The people of this Thread are watching the Inside through a form of Window known as a Comic."
"What of it?" says the Dark Lord. "We are always being watched -- by the Randall, and others on the Outside."
"The signs indicate great dedication on their part to watching," says the Head Astrologer. "They are present on this Thread more often, and in greater numbers, than other Threads. And among them are very powerful beings -- the signs indicate no less than two Dragons, and a Phoenix, among others. And..." The Astrologer's voice trails off.
"And what?" says the Dark Lord, his voice deeper than the Sea¹.
"And one of the Valar, Your Majesty," says the Astrologer. "And the signs indicate that this Vala carries Cup-cakes."
"Still, what of it?" says the Dark Lord. "We are always being watched from the Outside; how is this different?"
"It would not be good for us to be pelted with Cup-cakes from the Outside," says the Astrologer.
"I see," says the Dark Lord. "Dismissed."
The Astrologer turns and walks in a dignified manner from the throne room.
"What else have you to report?" the Dark Lord says to the General.
"This Molpy brings news from the Megball, Your Majesty," says the General.
"What news, Molpy?" says the Dark Lord.
This Molpy, unlike the other one, shows no fear at being in the presence of the Dark Lord, but saunters forward, makes a quick bow, and begins speaking.
"Your Majesty," she says, "The Megball have found the other River³. They followed it for a distance, then turned away and crossed the Dunes. When I left, they were resting under a Tree4."
"And has my Amoeba been successful at eating their brains?" says the Dark Lord.
"It has invaded one of their brains," says the Molpy, "but it's very slow. Personally, I think you should get some more efficient employees."
The General seems shocked that any would dare speak to the Dark Lord in that manner, but the Dark Lord is amused at the Molpy's sauciness.
"I will consider that," he says, his voice like the roar of the Sea¹. "Is there anything else, Molpy?"
"That's all," she says.
"Return to the Megball and the other Molpies, then," says the Dark Lord. "Dismissed."
The Molpy turns and exits the throne room.
"Is there anything else, General?" says the Dark Lord.
"We haven't been able to find out anything about LaPetite, Your Majesty," says the General.
"What have you done?" says the Dark Lord.
"We sent spies to the People in the Tents and the People in the Hills, Your Majesty," says the General.
"And?" says the Dark Lord.
"We have not been able to find if she came from either of those peoples, Your Majesty," says the General.
"I see," says the Dark Lord. He sits in silence for a while, thinking.
"LaPetite," he mutters, "She will be trouble. And with the reports of what she is doing at the Castle of the Megball... She will be trouble."
"What should we do about her, Your Majesty?" says the General. "Should we attack her at the Castle and slay her?"
"Nay," says the Dark Lord, "We cannot risk incurring the wrath of the Valar, especially one with Cup-cakes." He sits in contemplation for another while.
Then he sits up and speaks again.
"But," he says, "we must find out about her. General!"
"Yes, Your Majesty?" says the General.
"Attack the Castle of the Megball," says the Dark Lord, "with fifty Molpies and ten Sparrow-raptors. Do not harm LaPetite, but bring her to me for questioning."
The General grins. "Yes, Your Majesty!"
"I repeat: do not harm her," says the Dark Lord.
"Yes, Your Majesty, I understand," says the General. He fingers the hilt of his sword, eager to be off to battle.
The Dark Lord keeps the General waiting for a few moments. Then he waves his black-gloved hand. "Dismissed."
The General turns and marches out the door.
The Dark Lord sits back and returns to contemplating. He will find out what this LaPetite is planning.
³ neat, and bigger than the other River², but still smaller than the Sea¹