Solo and Kuryakin had been recuperating from a strange and unusual mission in the Balkans when the mysterious message had arrived.
“Hmmm, someone wants us to come to dinner,” Napoleon informed his partner as he read the note.
“Anyone we know?” the Russian asked not really interested in the answer.
Napoleon checked the note then turned the envelope over. “Afraid not,” he said thoughtfully. “Aren’t you the least bit curious?”
“Curiosity killed the cat, Napoleon,” Illya warned.
Napoleon thought a few minutes more before ripping the note in half and throwing it away.
That evening as they were leaving their hotel on the way to a nearby restaurant, they were grabbed roughly from behind and tied up. From the back seat of the car where they’d been unceremoniously thrown, they did their best to keep track of the route they were taking.
“Ah ... see here, my good man,” Napoleon politely asked the driver. “Would you mind telling us where we are going?”
The driver spared them a glance in the rearview mirror but said nothing. When they reached their destination, which turned out to be a castle, they were urgently pushed up the stairs and thrown to a floor in a great hall. Their captors hauled them to their feet and expertly searched them and, after taking away any equipment that might be useful in escaping, untied them before leaving the great room.
The two agents got up off the floor and regarded each other as they rubbed their sore wrists.
“Come here,” commanded a voice that echoed eerily from the far end of the hall.
Napoleon cocked an eyebrow while Illya gave a shrug, then the two agents as one started toward the voice their eyes taking in the surroundings. The hallway was lined on one side with portraits of men from the early 13th & 14th century. The other side was lined with extremely erotic painting. Napoleon stopped to look at one and gave his partner a inquiring look.
“Been there done that.” Illya muttered with a sigh causing Napoleon to look more closely at the painting and smirk.
They continued down the hall to they came to very strange man sitting on a throne. He was long legged and extremely thin and had a strange glint in his eyes. A glint that was turned first on Illya than on Napoleon. “It was very rude of you to refuse my invitation.” The European accented voice had a sinister quality to it.
“My sincere apologies. I would have sent a note of refusal if there had been a return address,” Napoleon said politely after exchanging furtive glances with Illya.
“Excuse me if I appear rude, but may one ask why we are here?” Illya inquired in his softly-accented voice.
“It’s quite simple. I have heard a lot about the two of you and wanted to see for myself.”
“A lot of trouble for a dubious outcome,” Illya remarked.
“Don’t antagonize the man,” Napoleon muttered softly out the side of his mouth. The Master's accent reminded him of Boris Karloff, who played many a horror movie. That and something about the current setting, sent a unhealthy shiver through him.
“Dinner is served.” A butler appeared at the doorway and the two agents were escorted to an enormous dining room laden with the finest of food.
Illya had no trouble making himself at home at the table and immediately digging in. Napoleon, on the other hand, was more cautious. He watched carefully as the wine was poured, letting his host take the first sip. Even then he brought the glass to his nose, sniffing it before daring to drink.
By the end of the meal, Napoleon had no more idea as to why they were there then he did when they started. The meal was sumptuous by anyone's standards. The first course was a plate of oysters served in a variety of ways. This was followed by a consommé of rich chicken broth flavor met with Illya's approval. A Crab mango salad with avocado was next. Napoleon appreciated the flavors of crab lump meat gently folded with cilantro, lime, avocado and mango. The citrus mango sauce made for a wonderful salad. It was followed by salmon with asparagus on the side. It wasn't until the dessert of a rich and creamy chocolate mousse followed by figs that Napoleon realized that most of the courses consisted of foods that he considered aphrodisiac in nature.
Throughout the meal, Napoleon kept expecting to be interrogated, or at least garner some clue as to why they were there. The conversation during the meal was unremarkable. Their host spoke eloquently and used impeccable English on subjects such as art, theater, food, and quantum mechanics. Napoleon spared a glance for his partner. He was worried. Normally Illya was even more cautious then he was, but tonight Illya was eating and drinking as if he hadn't a care in the world. His eyes were blissfully shut as he licked the last of the sinfully delicious dessert off his spoon just as the clock struck midnight.
Their host wiped his lips and set his napkin aside. Pushing back his chair, he stood tall and smiled his sinister smile. "It is late, so I will bid you bonne nuit. Boris will show you to your room."
"Yes, Master." Boris, the one servant who did not stand tall because his shoulders stooped, bowed.
Napoleon shivered. If he didn't know better it felt as if someone had walked on his grave.
The two agents followed the slow moving servant down many halls. Illya, who had drank quite a bit that night, was moving slower than usual and Napoleon grabbed him by the arm to drag him along. Eventually they stopped and Boris opened one of the doors that lined the hall and stepped aside. Napoleon, not sure what to expect, reluctantly entered.
Surprisingly the room was large and nothing sinister like Napoleon expected. The furniture was massive as was the bed, with posts that seemed to be seven feet tall, that was the focal point of the room. The ceilings were at least twenty feet tall. Napoleon turned to thank Boris only to find that the man was already gone and the door shut. He walked over and wasn't really surprised to find that the door was locked from the outside. He turned around to find Illya pulling off his clothes and dropping them to the floor. Dressed in nothing but his BVD's he climbed into the large bed and pulled up the covers.
Napoleon frowned as he looked at his partner, who was out like a light. Something was wrong with Illya. In fact there was something wrong with this whole scenario. Heaving a sigh, Napoleon checked the room making sure it was clean of bugs and other surveillance devices. He knew there was probably something, but he wasn't able to locate anything. Slowly he stripped off his clothing and then picked up Illya's to neatly put them away in the huge dresser before slipping into the bed with his partner. He lay awake staring at the ceiling. Eventually he closed his eyes, never noticing the gas that flowed from the headboard.
Their host was watching everything on the camera hidden in the top of one of four posters on the bed. He was dissatisfied with how things were going and once both of the men were snoring, he flicked on the switch activating the gas. When that didn't result in the activity that he'd hoped for, he switched off the monitor angrily.
Napoleon woke up the next morning with the nastiest of hangovers and the stiffest hard-on he could remember ever having had. He made his way into the attached bath and did his best to relieve his stiff cock enough so he could piss. It wasn't easy but he managed.
As he washed his hands and applied cold water to his face, his eyes roamed around the old fashion bathroom. The toilet, while not exactly primitive, wasn't the most up-to-date and at least it was flushable. At eye level he discovered a cabinet attached to the wall. Carefully he opened it and found soap, toothpaste, and more importantly, aspirin. The tub was an antique claw-foot with running hot and cold water. While the tub was filling, Napoleon searched and found some bath oils along with towels and wash cloths. He shed his underwear and climbed into the tub, no easy task. He stretched out and relaxed, letting the warm water rise around him. Even as his body was relaxing, his mind was in overdrive as he sorted through the villains that he knew and didn't come up with a match. None of what was happening to them made any sense.
Illya stumbled in, his eyes half closed as he made his way to the toilet. Napoleon knew that something was wrong, especially since it appeared that Illya was having as much trouble getting his dick to cooperate as Napoleon had. Napoleon rinsed the soap suds off and climbed out of the deep tub. Drying himself off, Napoleon commented, "I recommend the tub highly. A nice soak will make you feel better."
A grunt from his partner was the only reply. Leaving him to his own devices, Napoleon pulled on his underwear and went into the other room. He sniffed with distaste as he dressed, wishing that their captor had had the foresight to get their suitcases.
Illya eventually emerged, his hair damp, and he, too, began pulling on his clothes. After he pulled his turtleneck shirt over his head, he shook it to get his hair to settle in its normal place. By silent consensus the two then did a more thorough search of the room and found the cameras that they'd been too tired to find the day before. Illya looked directly into the camera. "I don't suppose food would be on the agenda anytime soon?" he asked rather defiantly.
Almost before the words were out of his mouth, they heard the key turning in the lock and the door opened. Boris stood in the doorway glaring at them. "Breakfast is being served." he growled before turning and walking away.
Illya jumped down from the bed, a smug look on his face. The two men followed in silence. They went down narrow stairways, along several hallways, up spiral stairways, through doors covered by tapestries, until Napoleon was thoroughly lost. He wasn't too worried. Illya probably knew exactly where they were, not to mention that, surely someone from U.N.C.L.E. had to be searching for them.
Eventually they ended up in the large and cavernous room from the night before. The only illumination came from the lit candelabras set on the table. There between them were two side-by-side place settings.
"Kippers!" Illya cried delightedly and rushed to sit down, leaving Napoleon standing with his mouth open.
Napoleon sighed and moved at a more sedate pace and cautiously sat down. You did not get in Illya's way when food was nearby. He picked up his plate and inhaled the scent. Kippers were not his cup of tea. One of the servants poured coffee and he sniffed that as well.
"So, where's our charming host?" Napoleon asked the world at large.
Napoleon's shoulders stiffened. The voice had come from directly behind him. No one had been standing there when he sat down. With studied casualness, he turned around in his seat. Sure enough, their host was standing there, his silhouette thin in the shadows. He had not been there when he and Illya had sat down, of that Napoleon was certain. What puzzled Napoleon the most was that there were no doors in that area, none. So where had he come from?
One of his men pulled out the chair at the head of the table and the Master glided over and sat down, waving aside the minion that offered him food while accepting a crystal goblet that appeared to hold red wine. He leaned back in his chair and crossed his legs. His face looked even more skeletal then it had the night before and you could tell that his eyes were the lightest of blues. Taking a sip from his cup, he closed his eyes in ecstasy, which was frightening on its own.
"You do know that when we don't check in they'll come looking for us," Napoleon informed him.
Illya put down his fork and turned his back to their captor and leaned into his partner to whisper apologetically, "Napoleon, I.. .um... forgot to tell you. Mr. Waverly gave us three days off."
Napoleon's mouth went dry and a painful look crossed his face, quickly covered, he hoped. That was not information that he was wishing for.
"Ah, dear Alexander. I am sadly disappointed that he did not send you to see me," the grotesque man bemoaned.
Illya's eyes widened. "You know Mr. Waverly? How?"
A smirk appeared on the gaunt face, causing Napoleon to shudder. "Extremely well. Unfortunately he's resisted my attempts to tempt him to the dark side."
Napoleon and Illya exchanged puzzled glances. What did that mean? Was he in reality part of THRUSH, like Victor Marton? If he were, why were his minions not dressed in the standard uniform favored by most of THRUSH?
Illya peered at the man intently. "Exactly why were we kidnapped?"
Oddly enough, the Master actually looked hurt by the question. "I would prefer not to use that term. You are guests in my home. I've heard a lot about your partnership and I merely wanted to see for myself."
Napoleon looked at Illya, who looked back at him, and it was easy to see that Illya had no more idea as to what the man was talking about then he did.
"Really, Mr. Solo. Your naïveté is most unbecoming."
The Master's men snickered nastily. Napoleon closed his eyes. He hated being kept in the dark and he hated being laughed at.
The Master stood up menacing and slammed his goblet on the table shattering it. "Neither of you have been acting in the way I expected." He seemed to grow taller right in front of their eyes. "I am the last in a long line of libertines. I am recording our history for posterity and you two are research."
"Huh," was Napoleon's unintelligent reply. He looked at his partner, the master of trivial information. Perhaps he knew what their captor was talking about. Evidently he did because the look on Illya's face was not reassuring. He opened his mouth to ask Illya what he knew when Illya put a hand on his arm to forestall him.
"I am afraid that you are operating under a misapprehension. You see, Mr. Solo, here, is without a doubt, one hundred percent, a ladies' man," Illya informed the ghoulish man.
That might have worked if Napoleon hadn't been looking at Illya as if he were crazy. Illya returned with a look that plainly said to keep his mouth shut. Napoleon wasn't sure why, but he was smart enough to follow his partner's lead.
The Master sat back down in his chair and laughed aloud. It was not a pleasant sound to hear. "You may believe what you want, but I know better." Madness gleamed in his eyes and he spread his arms wide. "All I ask is that the two of you kiss."
Napoleon frowned. Just what kind of whack job were they dealing with? He shrugged. If that was all the man wanted, he thought. He leaned over and chastely kissed Illya on the cheek, much to his partner's surprise. With a pleased smile on his face, Napoleon turned to face The Master, somewhat shocked to find that the man looked ready to explode.
Napoleon watched as with a wave of the Master's hand, one of the minions grabbed Illya by his long yellow hair and pulled the Russian's head back and held a very sharp knife at his throat. Napoleon jumped up in alarm only to find himself pushed back into his seat. He set his hands on the table to push himself back up when two bands sprang shut around his wrists.
"Wait!" Napoleon yelled in desperation. Okay, so he'd been a little flippant about the kiss, but he hadn't thought this guy was serious. He shifted through what he knew about this man and came to the conclusion that he was a massive pervert of the first order. If for whatever reason he wanted him to kiss Illya, Napoleon would pull out all the stops. Seeing the knife so close to Illya's throat guaranteed that.
"It's too late. Prepare him," The Master ordered.
Two large goons grabbed Illya and started to drag him away. Illya put up a fight and received a chop to his neck for his efforts. His eyes rolled upward and he dropped to the floor unconscious. Napoleon squirmed trying to loosen the bands around his wrist and go to him. Struggling proved no use.
Maniacal laughter ringing in his ears sent shivers up Napoleon's spine. One thing Napoleon knew for certain was that Illya needed rescuing fast. Frantically he looked around for something, anything that would help him out. He looked around and discovered he was alone, the Master having disappeared. He stretched his fingers in an unsuccessful attempt to reach the silverware. He didn't even come close.
Frantically he clawed at the table cloth which brought the tableware closer. Maneuvering the knife proved difficult, but eventually he managed to slice through the band holding him in place.
With knife in hand Napoleon swiftly ran up the stairs and down the hall keeping close to the wall. Following the innate connection the two men shared, Napoleon, in a blink of the eye, was at the door to their room. He burst into the room, shocked and not quite sure what he was seeing. Two men were holding Illya face down. He had no time to think when one of the men came at him and Napoleon slammed the knife he was carrying into the man's belly. The second man appeared to be holding a rod of some sort and Napoleon sincerely hoped he wasn't doing what he appeared to be doing.
Napoleon immediately pounced on the man, twisting his head until he heard a resounding snap. Illya was beginning to move around. He didn't appear aware of his surroundings. Thank goodness, they hadn't completely undressed him. A quick slap to the face brought Illya around enough for Napoleon to drag him off the bed. Swiftly he helped Illya pull up his pants before grabbing one wrist and urging him out of the room.
They no sooner got to the door when Napoleon heard the clatter of footsteps heading their way. There is no time for words. There is only one way to go. Reversing course they reentered the room now cluttered with dead bodies. Slamming the door, Napoleon swiftly guided an unresponsive and groggy Illya into the bathroom. Climbing into the tub, he pushed open the double window. From the bathroom he could hear the sounds of their captors smashing in the door. With nothing left to lose, Napoleon wrapped himself around his partner and squeezed through, dropping three stories to the ground below.