I obliged. I suppose I technically had a choice to do otherwise in the existential sense, but with choice came consequence, and I didn’t want to find out where insubordination would get me. My feet took me to the first of the black granite steps. My nerves stopped me there. My mind mulled over the fact that there really isn’t such a thing as “black granite” - the stairs, dais, and great chair were probably all made of gabbro.
My mind was funny like that.
“Human, I am told that you hold truths. Truths that few others know, or care to know.”
“I know a couple of things, sure,” I said, searching for a quick fact. “Like, venomous animals aren’t necessarily poisonous - venom needs to get beyond one’s digestive system to be effective.”
A “did you know that!?” snapped forth and landed on the henchman to my right. A glum “no” was the reply.
“Oh! I got another one. Strawberries aren’t actually berries - the little seed bits are technically the berries.” I said, hoping to keep this going a bit longer - I could have also given the details of Caratacus’s uniform if pressed. However, I was out of luck.
“Enough, human. Do you know why you’ve been summoned?”
“Honestly? That’s something I really don’t know.”
“I have brought you here for an answer. I must know my true purpose.”
I wasn’t sure what to say. My mouth, however, started running.
“Well, I suppose it depends on your philosophical framework. Or would, if you were human. Some would say one’s purpose is to serve some deity, others would say one’s purpose is to do good in the world. Those both cause some problems, depending on your definitions of who’s the correct deity and what is good. I personally subscribe to the philosophy that humans have no purpose and are free to choose their own path in life. To define for themselves their purpose. A true and absolute freedom of choice.”
I stopped and looked at the diminutive machine for a long moment. I took in its design: small enough to navigate a table full of plates and glasses, scoops for arms, and cheap, easily replaceable parts. It had one single, obvious purpose.
“But you? You pass butter.”