The story so far:
My dearest nephew,
Forgive me, dear boy, when I say that your imprisonment was not entirely unexpected. This only furthers the evidence that you have spent more time reading comic books than studying my primer! In those fanciful stories presented in those brightly colored pages, villains emerge with a brilliant, dastardly plan. Their first attempts are always successful, and they can only be brought down by great effort and strain on the part of the hero.
This is not how things are in the real world.
Oh, the stories I could tell! I cannot even count the number of times I have been imprisoned and sentenced to death by hanging, electrocution, injection, stoning, or (my personal favorite, from the time I nearly succeeded in taking over a small European country) narwhal. Every villain has his rough patches. The art of villainy is a process to be refined over years through studying your mistakes and correcting them the next time.
In fact, I have never seen or heard of a villain successfully carrying out a plan on his first attempt. No, actually, there was one, but he had studied extensively under the tutelage of The Terrible Great One for at least five years before he attempted a plan on his own. This is yet another reason I will continue haranguing the council until they concede that we need an apprenticeship system. The heroes so often apprentice their own – have you seen how many so-called ‘sidekicks’ go on to become heroes themselves? – and our current standards for training villains are woefully lacking. Why, any idiot who can put together a scary-looking hideout and costumed minions is allowed to call himself a villain!
Oh, er, beg pardon, nephew. I’m sure I didn’t mean that the way it sounded.
As to where you went wrong, I cannot say for sure because I was not there. I have, however, studied every news report I can on the matter and I believe I have narrowed it down to three possibilities.
First, it may have been your setting, as you already so aptly noted. It is rare for a villain’s hideout to be so obvious and yet remain secure. In fact, I can only think of one villain who pulled it off. You recall Great-Grandpappy Overlord Vile? His ‘hideout’ was a great castle on a hill, and everyone across the country knew exactly where to find him. The key was that his castle was so well defended, and he committed his deeds so slickly, that he simply was never caught. And if I remember correctly, he didn’t move into that castle until he’d been in the business for well over a decade. Even the family doesn’t know where his first hideout was.
Second, it may have been your target. You targeted a princess. No, I know, it was a ‘country’s leader’s daughter’ – but at times in villainy, it is beneficial to think in terms of archetypes. She is the daughter of a leader of a country, and thus she is a princess. And if she is the sort of princess that would be worth a ransom, rather than the type that causes the country to heave a sigh of relief that she is gone, then she truly is the archetypal princess.
The problem with targeting a princess is that the princess tends to draw out the hero in any man. I will leave the details to philosophers, but in general, every man has some inclinations to be a hero and some inclinations to be a villain. True villains have learned to embrace the latter inclinations, while true heroes embrace the former. Minions tend to fall somewhere in between, especially if all they are after is a paycheck. As such, one of your minions may have possessed some inklings of heroic inclinations, which were drawn out and amplified by this princess. All the money in the world cannot stop such forces from acting, my boy. This is why I prefer to work alone.
Third, it may have been your answering machine. Again, forgive me for speaking plainly, but throwing a celebratory party for your first successful crime before the ransom had been delivered was a bit premature. And announcing the time, date, and place of said party on your answering machine was, in essence, the equivalent of tying yourself up and placing yourself on the hero’s doorstep.
Now, all is not lost. As I said, many villains have gone through exactly what you’re going through now. It’s simply a matter of picking yourself up again and learning from your mistakes.
Vengeance is a lofty aspiration, my boy, don’t mistake that. I fear that you, however, are viewing it from the hero’s point of view (another sign of too much time spent reading comic books!). From a hero’s perspective, vengeance is a low, base motive, reserved for childish, vindictive villains. This viewpoint, I might note, is gradually changing as more heroes appear to be justified in their vengeance-based actions – a very good move for the world of villains, to be sure. The more we can confuse the general public about which motives are ‘pure’ and which are not, the better.
At any rate, do not think that being detached means that you cannot seek your vengeance. Vengeance is a noble thing. You see, the world of heroes looks upon vengeance as a petty wreaking of evil in exchange for a minor slight. But their view is wrong. Vengeance is a noble act of justice, bringing those to justice who deserve it. Consider, as you are in that cell with plenty of time to plot, what exact wrong did the hero commit against you? What consequences would be just for that crime? Then go out and enact it.
As to your other concern, I’m afraid that this letter must pass through the security of your prison before reaching you. As such, I cannot give you any directions on how to break out.
Your mother sends her regards. Do you recall the treatment she taught you as a child? Please apply it now.
***My dear boy, if you have recalled the special paper treatment your mother taught you, and have applied it, then you will be able to see this message. The rest of the letter appears to be some rambling about your mother’s health (she is well, in case you wanted to know). It’s a bit crude, I know, but this was the only way I knew to provide you with the following instructions. Perhaps you have noticed that the paper of this letter feels a bit heavier than normal paper. This is due to a special metal woven into the paper. You will have to find a way to ignite this paper to extract the metal. Divide the molten metal into two pools and allow to harden solid. Now, do you have that ring I gave you when you were twelve? (I pray it has gotten more use than the copy of my primer I gave you when you turned eighteen!) The elements in that ring will react with the elements in the metal, causing the metal to explode and the ring to remain unharmed. Place the metal, then set the ring on top of the metal. You will have ten seconds to get clear. You will use one chunk of the metal to break out of your cell. The other will be used to break through the perimeter wall. I trust your creativity to determine the rest of the plan – the timing, how to deal with guards, etc. Best of luck to you.
I trust that you will learn your lessons from this, shall we call it, ‘adventure’ of yours.
Unkie Dark Virtue