Before I begin this far belated chapter, I would like the thank my wonderful reviewers, in particular "reader," for being an idiot and making me feel better about myself by comparing myself to you. Thank you. Also, Wolfee, thank you for the positive review, Lurena, anon, J. Jones, you guys are great. Tech 17, Fyre Fli, thanks for the advice, notice, IT'S IN PARAGRAPHS! Yay. And Magic Sparks, I appreciate the feedback. Rock on, my marshmallows, rock on!
I strolled down the halls, adjusting to the feel of Nathaniel's body. How people walk around in these bodies all day, I've no clue.
But, more to the point, as I continued walking around, acting important, a certain Jane Farrar approached me.
"Hello, ma'am." I greeted her as civilly as I could manage, attempting to stifle my laughter at her upcoming disgrace. I considered it fairly successful.
"Oh, Mandrake, is that your demon?" she asked, pointing at my shoulder. I glanced up at Queezle, who was taking the form of a flying monkey.
"Yes, that is my slave. Not too sophisticated, but it'll get the job done." On the seventh plane I was grinning cheekily at the indignant Queezle.
"Ah, yes, I've brought with me a Foliot, seventh level, nothing much at all."
I peered skeptically at the footstool hovering over her head. "Are you sure that's not an imp?" I asked.
"Quite positive, Mandrake. Now, to address my reason for contacting you, I would like to extend an invitation to come in my limousine."
She said it like it was all business.
"With pleasure, madam." I declared with much gusto. Strolling towards her ride, I hooked my arm in hers. The more trust built, the more trust to be betrayed.
As I settled into the velvet seat, I examined the selection of drinks.
I, of course, couldn't bear alcohol, no djinni could, but there was no reason I couldn't spill some on her expensive looking upholstery. "Fetch me some champagne." I ordered Queezle, relishing her glare. She brought it back, dropping it in my lap.
"So, Mandrake, what do you think the Minister's motive was? Why he would call all of us together at this time?" Farrar asked, a glint in her eye.
I shot her a blunt look. "I think he'd like an excuse for a sip of wine, personally." I began clumsily pouring a glass of champagne, though most of the beverage was slopping over the edge.
I watched her eyes widen with increasing amounts of hatred. "Do be careful, Mandrake. This is velvet." She spat (well, almost).
"Oh, forgive me." I said gallantly, replacing the bottle. The chauffeur stared blankly ahead. I examined him on all the different planes.
"Homunculi?" I guessed.
Farrar shrugged. "He was given to me by my master." She explained.
I nodded calmly. I glanced around through half-closed eyes.
The chauffeur cut the engine and moved around to open a door. I rose and jogged into the fresh air, breathing it in.
I restrained the urge to cough violently. Honestly, have you humans never smelled your cities? Perhaps its just your inability to register your own filth.
I grabbed a bag of clubs as the PM himself got out of a very fancy, very well guarded I'm sure, limousine. He was followed by his usual entourage of magicians, each with a djinni on his or her shoulder.
I recognized a few, such as Faquarl, who was studying me curiously. Naturally, wherever I go, this blasted fool follows me.
I found the Prime Minister, well, gray. Weakening, and not too powerful. But when he spoke, all of the ministers lingered on every word like starving puppies. Magicians are truly pathetic. Following power like flies to fruit. And if this was all they could follow… Britain wasn't doing too well.
But, of course, I had a badly phrased, inarticulate command to follow, didn't I?
I sat through the introductions, blandly smiling and greeting all the other ministers like a good little government lapdog.
Finally, we arrive at the first hole, and I tee up. Going through a few practice swings, I cleave the ball right off its stand.
And into Faquarl.
He glares at me, and motions whispering in his master's ear. Oh right. Damn.
I hold up my hands in apology (on the seventh plane of course, I wasn't just miming into thin air within the view of the ministers), and he smirks rather dastardly. Probably not a good sign.
As I continue to swing with perfect form, not being truly hindered by a human body, the ministers begin to look, well, suspicious.
Not of me, I'm not stupid enough to let my guise slip, but of a few commoners leaning against a building. "Slummies, always following the power." One of them mutters.
I was thinking the same thing of them.
Finally, one of the commoners hunches his shoulders and turns away. The odd thing that I'm noticing is that they're just following us. Hole after hole. Perhaps for a reason.
A few of the more powerful officials seem to following my string of thought. One of them gestures to one of the Night Police following us. "Take care of 'em." He mutters at the burly man. He shrugs and starts heading towards the group of commoners, but a certain Ms. Farrar intercepts him, and he turns away.
Uh-huh. This doesn't seem like a plot to me at all. And banish the thought of Farrar not being above hiring commoner mercenaries.
I flex my essence, asking Queezle what she thinks. She just shrugs. "Of course they're looking for trouble. What did you expect?" she asks disparagingly. Well, hooray for kindness between djinn.
But something about them seems familiar. And I really don't know a lot of good people. One of the girls turns her head and I curse. Well if it isn't the Market Gang themselves!
Recall back a while ago when I had to save Nathaniel's scrawny arse? Not specific enough for you? Me neither. Specifically, I was toting around the infamous Amulet of Samarkand for Natty Boy while a few commoners trailed me, manhandled me, tried to steal it, I almost ate their heads, that time, if you remember. Well, surprise, surprise, if it isn't the same girl. And her acne-ridden companions are glaring at me like they've seen a ghost.
Honestly, ghosts aren't half as scary as me. Apparently they remember me. Can't say I'm surprised. People tend to remember when their prisoner turns into a crocodile. And then of course, there is my sparkling personality, but I digress.
I imagine this is going to evolve into a cliché suicidal bomb-throwing session, and I'd really rather not go there, so I grin unnervingly. Instead of fleeing in fear, the commoners decide to follow the time honored, vulgar tradition of giving me a rude gesture.
Like a civilized person, I respond with a series of disgusting changes that come thick and fast until they're looking somewhat green. However, once again, instead of the desired result, they lash back at me. But this time, they pull out what looks like an elemental sphere.
I somehow can't find it within myself to reward them on their creativity. But, as one of my many dead masters said, "It's gonna explode, get out of the way!"
Well, baby I'm back! SOOO sorry about how long this was on hiatus. It's a sin, man, this is a sin. But, now I'm back, gonna finish this story, and then continue finishing my stories. SQUEEE!