Stepping into Aravon's chambers for the first time, I nearly fell over backwards in shock. Never before had I seen so much stuff in one place. For such a simple-seeming man, Aravon was certainly had quite a horde. From fancy furniture to gilded instruments right through to white marble sculptures and enourmous brightly coloured tapestries, if you could name it, it was there. I whistled appreciatively as I stepped in, little clawed feet sinking into the thick rug that adorned the floor.
Aravon lead me through to a back chamber, a sort of walk-in study type affair cordoned off from his main reception room by a heavy wooden door. Ornately carved of course, nothing in this place was without some form of embroidery, carving or sculpture to it. The room we entered was fairly small compared to the rest of the place, with a few chairs dotted around and an array of comfy-looking cushions arranged in stylish piles. Aravon took a seat in one of the chairs, a tall blackwood affair with a straight back and arm rests carved in the shape of lion's heads. I myself took up residence on top of one of the cushion piles, nearly purring in delight at the softness. I could get used to this.
A small laugh came from the other side of the room. I pricked my ears and looked around.
Okay. That's odd. Very very odd indeed.
A woman sat in a nearby chair, long dark hair tied back from her face in a plait that hung down over her left shoulder. She wore fairly simple clothing, but even I could see it was well made. Hardy boots, soft doeskin leggings, a carefully embroidered white tunic with gold stiching at the neck and wrists and a dark maroon cloak lined with sheepskin was hung around her shoulders. I looked at her questioningly and she smiled, revealing rows of straight white teeth in her peachy-cream complexion. Her eyes were dark, with pale green patches around the pupil and her eyebrows arced elegantly above them. She cocked her head to one side questioningly, as if wondering why I was looking at her. I looked away again, blushing slightly beneath my fur. Aravon snickered,
"I see you've noticed our guest. Allow me to introduce Lady Assyra Delarigon one of the best enchantresses in the Vayle. She has generously agreed to aid us in our task."
Something growled beside Assyra and she rolled her eyes. Aravon laughed, "And Delilah too of course."
Delilah? Who the heck is Delilah? I peered around Assyra, looking for the source of the noise.
Delilah turned out to be the most enourmous cat I had ever seen in my entire life. As big as a large calf, she lay beside her mistress like a gigantic white-and-black striped statue, licking one enourmous paw with her tongue and displaying massive white teeth. My eyes widened and Delilah looked up at me with a pair of enourmous amber eyes.
~Greetings Brother~ she said, using the mutual mental connection that all forms of Spiritae share. ~I am glad to see one of my own among us. I hope we may hunt well together.~
I inclined my head in Delilah's direction. Well, I thought, at least she wasn't some sort of monstrous pet. Why exactly Aravon needed two djinn and a sorceress to complete a task, even if it was as he had said earlier extremely important, was beyond me. I thought it rather over the top if I was honest with myself.
If only I had ever guessed at the task that lay ahead of me. I would have eaten my words then and there.