If you're reading this, drop me a quick "ooh!" or "meh" in the comments section. Lemme know you're out there!
“My Queen, if I may be so bold-”
“I fear, Lord Eoderyn, that you would be bold with or without my leave.” Queen Leikalani fixed her cold, dark eyes on the elven noble, her gaze threatening to freeze him in place. His hand had paused in mid gesture, and his face betrayed only a hint of fear. Eoderyn's poise broke; his words ran out. The Queen allowed him a moment to sweat. “Come to your request.”
Despite his opulent attire, and immaculate courtly manner, Eoderyn managed to look genuinely timid. It somewhat diminished the effect of his wardrobe, complete with ages-old platinum earcuffs, a sharp-edged gray vest and robe of the latest fashion, and the cravat, bursting with reds and yellows. He was almost too old to pull off the look properly, but his face remained smooth enough to trim a few years from his appearance. His head bowed, and his tightly-braided blond ponytail rolled to one side. Eoderyn cleared his throat, and spoke, although in a smaller voice than before. “In order to complete the task at hand in the time you request, more resources will be required. In particular-”
The Queen threw up her hand, cutting him off again. “Tell me nothing of the particulars.” She folded her hands in her lap. “You have at your disposal all that you need. You have only to use it. You may ask my headservant for access to any particulars. Return tomorrow with your demands.”
Eoderyn bowed low, with great flourish. “It is with honor that I serve, my Queen. Your generosity is magnificent.” He lifted his head. “Let it be known that am ready and willing to offer you any...” He stopped at the sound of flapping wings and the rustling of the great, thick drapes covering the fifteen-foot window to his left. Eoderyn suppressed a snarl.
The Queen, on the other hand, allowed herself a smirk and looked to the window. “Is that you, Crowflock?”
Telfeyan shoved aside the thick red curtain and stepped into view. Telfeyan Crowflock, the Queen's spy and trusted agent. Who was once a man, and now was not. His rough canvas hands rustled against the curtain fabric. A tuft of straw poked out from his left wrist, which he surreptitiously, and automatically, tucked back in. Telfeyan smiled, the jagged white patch of material shifting in size and shape, bright against the black-dyed canvas of his face. He removed his black felt hat and bowed.
He straightened, and bowed shallowly to Lord Eoderyn. Not shallow enough to slight, but only just. “M'lord.” Telfeyan replaced the hat on his head and leaned against the ancient polished stone wall.
Eoderyn, as was his custom, gave Telfeyan a hard look. “Whenever you present yourself, Crowflock, I wonder to myself what I have said in the presence of crows.”
“You flatter me, M'lord. Certainly I cannot be everywhere at once.” He winked one triangular white eye at the noble.
One of Eoderyn's sharply pointed ears twitched. He inclined his head once again to the Queen. “By your leave, Your Majesty, I will continue the work at hand.”
“Go with my blessing, Lord Eoderyn,” the Queen said, without the usual ice in her voice.
The noble smiled at the Queen, turned and exited the tower room. Queen Leikalani watched Eoderyn go, then turned to her spy. “You do make him uncomfortable.”
Telfeyan stood casually and meandered into the center of the room. “Perhaps I remind him of someone he doesn't like. And isn't it curious, Your Majesty,” he continued abruptly, “that he would insist on meeting you in the least convenient of your meeting rooms, at the hour normally reserved for your afternoon rites in the gardens?”
The Queen stood from the sculpted iron throne on which she sat, and walked past Telfeyan to the door. Her form-fitting red dress, a darker maroon than the curtains, rustled slightly. Though his face had no nose to speak of, Telfeyan caught her scent – it brought to mind an image of blue water running over snow. “It bothers you when I refuse to include you in my plans.” She brushed a thin, pale finger over the softly glowing runes on the door, deactivating the magical silence placed on the room.
“I have no desire to be personally involved in all your plans, my Queen,” Telfeyan replied. “If I had any complaint, it would be simply that I do not know about all your plans. Perhaps you can sympathize with a spy's plight.”
“Do you have anything to report, spy?” The Queen was using her business voice, but was shamelessly smiling to herself.
You do enjoy toying with me, don't you? “Nothing, my Queen, to report. Except that your kingdom is unusually quiet and peaceful.”
“Then I might have to cause a stir, mightn't I?”
[oh, that sneaky Queen. more to come.]