Back in Larell's study Curly's goatee trembled as he spoke. “There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind the ice sprite is depressed
Larell. The stench of it filled the room. It’s a wonder the poor plants didn’t just keel over instantly.”
Depressed. That word again.
The first time Larell heard it he had to ask Curly to explain it to him. “It’s good to have someone on the inside Curly. Thanks for doing the job at such short notice.”
The goat shook his head from side to side. “I owed you Larell.”
“Did he exhibit any other signs we need to be aware of?” Larell paced back and forth behind his desk.
“Well, I think he’s going to do something to himself.” Curly sat back on his haunches.
Larell’s head whipped round. “Do something! You don’t mean…?”
“I do.” The goat nodded sagely.
“This is just too much Curly. It’s …”
Curly and Larell spoke together. “Unheard of.”
“I don’t have enough bodies as it is, now I’m going to have to find somebody to sprite-sit as well.” Larell took a deep breath. “So this is what it must be like, this constant anxiety.”
“Yes, they spend a great deal of time and money on therapy.”
Larell looked Curly squarely in the eye. “You say ‘they’ so easily. Do you feel completely a part of us now?”
“I do, and that is thanks largely to you.”
Shaking his head, Larell dismissed Curly’s words. “I didn’t do much.”
Curly made as though to speak but instead began munching at the corner of Larell’s desk. To ease Curly’s discomfort Larell brought the topic back to the present. “I don’t suppose you can give me a time frame. That would really help.”
Curly shook his head from side to side while adopting a tragic expression. “This was one my horns could just not hone in on. I’m sorry to have to bring you more bad news. Word is things are going pear shaped every time you turn round.”
“I’d say that’s a fairly accurate description of the situation Curly. Give my love to the family.”
Curly’s rump swayed as he exited. “Will do Larell.”
Larell turned his thoughts back to the new regime he’d implemented. He had no choice now but to bring Gamden in on the training of the recruits. Gamden’s methods were a bit questionable but he knew how to get recruits working together like a crack unit in no time at all. And that was exactly the situation he felt they were facing. No time at all.
Curly’s unscheduled arrival in Faetaera was perhaps an omen of what was to come. When Larell reviewed things, in hindsight he could see so many little things which had never quite added up. There was the time that pixie manifested right in the middle of his office. It stared at him blankly then slid to the floor in a heap. He'd been so surprised it had taken him a few moments before he summoned Presley.
The pixie lay very still. This in itself was an anomaly. Pixies were never still. This one was a horrible grey shade, his skin pruney and puckered. He was also wearing rather strange apparel. What in the name of the Pattern Keepers was going on?
Presley hovered over the pixie trying to ascertain whether it was alive or not. With a suddenness equal to its arrival it regained consciousness, turned back to a more conducive vibrant blue, beamed a glowing smile at Larell, said “She’s feeling much better now.” and de-materialised.
Presley, speechless for once, shrugged his confusion at Larell.
To others these things would seem so small and would go unnoticed unless they were looking for peculiarities, unless they had an inbuilt distrust of anything more out of the ordinary than usual. Why was he wired this way? He wasn’t sure. It certainly made for an interesting youth but now in his middle years he was less enthralled by this quirk.
Aurelia was only too aware of it. She told him it was the main reason she had appointed him as chief of security, a post never before held within the kingdom. That she felt the need for the position was disturbing in itself. Larell had been unable to decline her offer. Had she suspected something like the fissures could happen? Perhaps that shimmer he saw surrounding her was a glimmer of fear just at the edges where no-one else thought to look.
Because you always look at her through a glass darkly… Or perhaps you just want to believe you see something in your queen which others cannot. Do you really think your love is that powerful? You lack humility Larell Lac Taal. You lack humility.
To be near her. To know her hands touched the information sheaves he delivered in person to the palace. These things meant so much to him when his day seemed endless. If his personal efforts made her sleep better at night, then it was all worthwhile.