Part 29

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PART TWENTY-NINE:

An Offer He Can't Refuse

CHARMIAN SWALLOWED.  "I came alone!" she managed to retort, unable to keep the irritation and fear out of her voice.

A shadow came toward her from the side cave and as it grew longer she could make it out, the by now familiar upright stance, the flaring wings and curving horns.  Finally the shape it belonged to appeared and Charmian held her breath, trying not to make a sound, as if she would disappear into the wall.  Ocryx stopped and leaned over her, glaring red and green eyes taking her in, and directed several blasting snorts at her again, trying to pick up her scent.  She had to blink her eyes repeatedly.  After he'd done that he rose towering over her again, muzzle wrinkled with disgust.

"Mainlander," he muttered, turning back and stalking away into his cave.

Charmian let out her breath.  So...that was it?  That was his greeting?  It seemed rather...anticlimactic.  She'd expected something more than that.

She followed him, albeit at a distance.  In the next room was a sort of lectern or stand with a large book upon it.  Before this was a rough seat, and Ocryx took his place upon it, ignoring her.  A small strange rubbery-looking creature with large eyes crouched upon the floor near him; on seeing Charmian, it popped up and scrambled her way, teeth showing, drooling and making a strange rasping sound.  She gasped and hopped back, away from it, trying to keep it at a distance as it followed her around like a crazy terrier.

"You have a purpose here, mainlander?" Ocryx snapped, nose still wrinkled as if she smelled bad.

Charmian tried to stop but the creature kept coming.  She grabbed onto it before it could jump on her, and she held it at arm's length, wriggling and drooling and hissing.  She was too afraid to let it go.  "I--I came here to ask for--"

"Spit it out, stupid idiot!  You think I have all day to speak with you?  Mitchi could very easily have torn you to shreds if I'd allowed him."

Allowed--?  That got to Charmian.  She'd wondered why the manitous hadn't attacked, when it was their duty.  She also remembered how Ocryx had promised some sort of punishment for the manitou for attacking X.  Had he told them to tone it down a little?  Or had he sent them up to...rescue her?

The demon bared his teeth, growling.  If you spend too long pondering over my actions I will make certain Mitchi gets the chance to play with his food.

Another swallow.  She had to keep in mind that he could read her thoughts if she wasn't careful.  "I came here to ask for a favor," she said, managing to keep her voice level.

"Favor?"  A snort.  "It had best be petty, because already I can hardly tolerate having you around.  Mainlanders.  You should keep to your own space."

Charmian tried not to let her temper overcome her.  "It's not little...it's important.  Wouldn't you like to do something important?"

That had evidently been the wrong thing to say.  A split second later he had jumped from the seat and was bellowing in her face, fangs just inches away.  The little slobbering creature yelped and bolted from her hands, disappearing into another cave.  Charmian herself stood her ground but had to shut her eyes and grit her teeth, fists clenching.  Her heart beat faster than she'd thought possible.

"YOU THINK I GRANT FAVORS BECAUSE I ENJOY IT?" Ocryx bellowed.  "YOU THINK I SHOULD BE HONORED TO HAVE A MAINLANDER ASK FOR A FAVOR?  GO BACK TO YOUR LITTLE ROCK IF THIS IS HOW YOU THINK OR HAVE MITCHI SEND YOU BACK IN PIECES!!"

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