“Malcom is here.”
Gregor, assistant to Archmage Saeri, as well as her most trusted advisor, looked up from the papers on his desk with a tired expression. His own assistant, Samuel, stood before him betraying nothing on his face.
“What does he want?” Gregor asked finally.
“He asked for an audience with the Archmage. He did not say why.”
“I assume he is dressed in expensive finery?”
“I will speak to him. Show him in.”
Samuel nodded and left, returning almost immediately with another man. Samuel motioned him inside and then departed once more, this time closing the door.
Malcolm was tall and slender. His cloak was a mix of blues and greens, with silver running throughout, creating an iridescent appearance. His elegant but simple shirt and breeches brought even more brilliance out of the cloak by contrast. He smiled politely as he stood in front of the desk and waited for an invitation to sit.
Gregor was content to let him stand, however. The man was insufferable and always looked like a peacock. Gregor would have ignored him, but he sat on the lower council. This meeting was unavoidable, even though Malcolm had to know the outcome was predetermined.
“Councilor Malcolm, a pleasure to see you again so soon. What has brought you to our tower on such a fine day?”
“It is raining.” The man managed to both smile and sneer at the same time.
“Is it? I had been led to believe the sun was shining.”
“Enough of the pleasantries, Gregor. I am here to see your master.”
Gregor was certain that Malcolm dropped his act of vapid charming socialite only around him. Perhaps that was why so many tolerated – even enjoyed! – his presence. He assumed it was because Malcolm thought himself Gregor’s superior. But Gregor had one thing Malcolm did not, one thing he dearly wanted: Saeri’s ear and attention.
“The Archmage is extremely busy today. I fear she has no time in her schedule for visitors. If you have a request, I would be happy…”
“Do not lie to me,” Malcolm interrupted. “She has time for this. She will make time. Just tell her I am here.”
“Councilor, do not forget yourself!” Gregor cowed him without standing up. “Remember where you are and whom I represent. I have told you the Archmage is quite busy. You will not question my honesty within this tower.”
Malcolm fumed, but he took a moment, and when he spoke again, his tone was conciliatory. “My apologies. You are correct that I forgot myself for a moment. It is simply that this matter is urgent, and I need to speak with her.”
Gregor stared at him for a moment, giving him reason to wonder whether he would be heard after his outburst. “Perhaps if you would tell me what this is about, I might intercede on your behalf.”
As expected, Malcolm flushed slightly and huffed. “Never mind. I will come again another day. Perhaps then your master might remind you not to interfere with business. Good day.” He stormed out of Gregor’s office before another word could be said.
Gregor chuckled to himself as the door behind him opened.
“As always, Archmage, you have impeccable timing.”
She took one step into the room before she spoke. Her bearing was regal and imposing, all the things Malcolm tried to seem, but with none of the tricks. The seriousness of her movements and the fire in her eyes told the tale better than any tailor could. She was not to be taken lightly.
“What do you mean, dear Gregor?”
He knew she knew, but he played along. “You just missed a visitor come to call on you.”
“And who might that be?” She had taken one of the chairs near his desk and looked out the one window.
“Councilor Malcolm. He said the matter was urgent.”
“And was it?”
“He would not say what it was.”
“And yet, I suspect you know.”
“Of course. He came to propose marriage.”
Saeri laughed. It was not cruel, but it was not kind, either. “How many times does this make?”
“I have lost count.”
“Hmmm. As entertaining as this is, I suppose I should put an end to it.”
Gregor sighed. “Finally. I will make the arrangements. Why did you let him believe for so long?”
Standing, a smile crossed her face. “Having a Councilor voluntarily enter the tower is… useful.” She exited by the same door she entered.
Gregor shook his head and called for Samuel.