As I lurked atop the cabinet, Aravon gave Hermin a very serious look and wrinkled his nose slightly. (Probably due to either Hermin's fould body odour or his disgust at the state of his lodgings. I prefer to think it was the first of the two.) Hermin looked up at him like a dog looks at it's master when hoping for a reward. Aravon however did not oblige and took half a step away from the greasy-haired wizard before speaking:
"I am not here for pleasantries Hermin." he said assertively, "I am here on business only. Very serious business that could have very serious consequences if not handled correctly. Listen to me and do not interrupt."
"Of course my lord," said Hermin, his voice almost a whine, "Whatever you say my lord."
"Good. Now listen to me. You have heard of the envoys that were due to arrive from Galacia within the next few days? You will no doubt have been told they were travelling here to discuss with me the affairs of one of my other fiefs to the south. Am I correct?"
"Most certainly my lord. I know your lordship holds much land in the south and presumed this was just another of your loyal vassals reporting to you." whined Hermin in a voice that was supposed to be flattering.
Pity he had the word "bootlicker" written all over his fat face.
Aravon however, ignoring Hermin's efforts to suck up to him, continued, "Well, that was not exactly the business they were here on. The Galacians were here to see me about matters concerning the King's Court in Serubia. The King had sent them with a message he said must reach me immediately. I had no idea what the business was about until a messenger arrived this morning. The envoys passed through a town south of here two days ago. They have not been seen since. It is feared they may have been attacked by bandits in the forest, but with an armed guard I feel that is unlikely. I fear something more sinister may be afoot in these lands."
Hermin's pasty face went even paler, "Whatever do you mean my lord? Surely you don't think..."
"Yes, I do think that Hermin." replied Aravon, looking at Hermin with a grim expression like a carved rockface. "And I fear our time may already be running out. That is why I am here. I have need of your services."
"Anything my lord!" Hermin (the sicophant) declared, puffing up his chest and trying to look patriotic, "If there is anyway I can serve you, I will not hesitate to do it! All my assets are at your disposal, if you need it I will have it done without question!"
I had to shove my hand in my mouth to keep from laughing. Hermin? Serve someone other than himself? Pull the other one. The man's about as selfless as a crocodile (and a good deal less sociable), what use would he be?
Even Aravon seemed amused by this, a ghost of a smile tugging at his lips, "No need to worry yoursel Hermin, I only need one thing from you. You have a djinn in your service do you not? It is his services I require, you need not strain yourself with anything else."
Hermin, looking as if he'd just had bile poured down his throat, spluttered and gaped at Aravon, "Fallyn? Whatever do you want with him? I'm sure there are far more useful djinn in the castle, and a good deal who would be far more co-operative. Never in all my years have I known a more stubborn, insolent, sarcastic little monster than him. Really my lord, whatever you want Fallyn for, I'm sure there is someone else who will fill the task far more effectively."
Ouch! Look who's talking! I bridled at the insult, baring my teeth angrily at Hermin. Who was he to call me useless? He himself was about as much use as a wet towel in every way save as a torturer! Who was he to degrade me like this!
Oh how I longed to have a sharp stick in my hand at that moment. The damage I could have wrought with it...
"No." Aravon snapped, glaring hard at Hermin, "It must be Fallyn. I have my own reasons for choosing him and I feel no reason to share them with you. I dare say any task I set will be a good deal less than the ordeals he's put through with you for a master. I dread to think what sort of misery you inflict on him." he looked around the room, looking disgusted and infuriated. "The state of this room only confirms my fears." Aravon looked at me, gesturing for me to come over. Ignoring the glares from Hog Face, I scampered off the cabinet and sat down on the table before Aravon.
"Will you accept this Fallyn?" he asked me, looking me up and down. I was presently in my normal form, a small (only about half a foot in height) dark green-furred imp with long ears and a long tail with a black tuft at the end of it. There were also black tufts on the ends of my ears and I had a small black forelock hanging down between my eyes. All in all, I looked rather cute and innocent.
Just goes to show how deceptive appearances can be.
"Of course my lord," I replied amicably, "I will do anything you have of me. Provided of course, my master agrees."
I shot a sharp toothed smile at Hermin, rejoicing inwardly at the look of shock and horror on his face. He clearly wanted nothing more than to murder me right this second.
Oh I was enjoying this.
"What your master thinks is of no account." said Aravon, glaring at Hermin, who cowered and backed away, "Now come, we must make haste if we are to complete this task."
With that he turned and strode out of the room, his boots ringing on the stone floor. I followed, moving fast to keep up with his long strides. I was euphoric at having escaped Slimebag, and at watching him humiliated in the process.
This was turning out to be a very good day indeed...