Scenes from the Novel III

It was nearly five o’clock in the afternoon when Drog finally arrived. Needless to say, Clarissa was not pleased. “Sir, I have been positively drowning myself in Jasmine tea. While this is indeed a delightful concoction, a tonic for both body and soul, particularly when taken with lemon, one must acknowledge that after a certain point in the afternoon it tends to lose its charm.”

Drog grunted in a way that she chose to interpret as an apology, and gradually lowered his massive bulk to sit facing her, his deep-set eyes flickering over the afternoon crowd. Clarissa peered curiously at his deshevelled appearance. “You look as though you have been having quite the day of it, my friend. Have you anything new to report?”

Drog swung his heavy head slowly around to return her gaze, and for a long moment he simply looked back at her impassively, his coal black eyes flashing with dark fire. When at last he began to speak, his expression as unmoving as stone, the sepulchral voice that emerged seemed to belong to another place entirely, a place of savage and howling winds. “Yes … I have seen the night flyers,” he began. “Their hunger grows. The dripping flesh of their approaching minions crawls with scarabs and rejoices. The scuttering claws grasp, they tear, they burn. The Dark One’s terrible caravans of war are filled with the long-dead eaters of souls, and the mere things of Earth are broken and destroyed beneath their chain’d wheels of hideous fire. The enemy draws nearer. Ever nearer.”

Clarissa nodded curtly. “All as I had suspected, my friend. Thank you Drog, you are such a dear. I don’t suppose you would care for a scone? I believe that they are freshly baked, with just the merest hint of coconut.”

Her companion barely shook his massive head in response. His hooded eyes were gazing into the distance. A few moments later the waitress approached their table. “Can I get you…” she began. When she laid eyes on Drog she stopped dead in her tracks, and her face went ashen, the words dying in her throat. He glared back at her, his sharply protruding lower incisors gradually stretching out his glistening lips into a shape that distantly resembled a grin.

“Oh, dear me, I am so awfully sorry!” Clarissa exclaimed, “my fault entirely. One does tend to take things for granted.” Delicately she put down her teacup, and made an almost imperceptable gesture with the slender fingers of her left hand. For an instant the room seemed to swim, and a few moments later the waitress approached their table.

“Can I get you anything else?” she asked amiably, barely glancing at Clarissa’s new companion. Ugly as sin, she thought absently, but then again, you get all kinds in a place like this. Whatever. As long as they can pay, they can stay.

“My dear lady, thank you ever so much,” Clarissa replied politely, “But I fear we had best be going rather soon. We shall just be needing the bill, at your earliest convenience. I am afraid that my companion is on a somewhat restricted diet, and there is really nothing here for him to eat.”

Clarissa smiled with fond amusement as her large companion’s gaze wandered around the crowded restaurant. “That is to say,” she added cheerfully, “nothing on the menu.”

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