‘Do you know why I’ve brought you here?’ Comes the menacing whisper, crawling out from beneath the red brimmed hood. The figure’s rough white beard gently twitches as he speaks, the sharp point swaying hypnotically. Revealed on the wall, the concealed man’s silhouette looks less wizened, almost as though the spined angles concealed a reptilian quality.

‘Yeah boss, I do. You needed an assistant or something, right?’ Jeremy Thatcher, local tavern-nuisance, replies.

‘Your assessment is somewhat accurate, but you lack the judicious critical edge to fathom the glory of the position you have been granted.’ His shrivelled fingers click together gently, schemingly, below his wide sleeves.

‘Sorry, what? What do you actually need, you just whisper in the king’s ear, right? What am I meant to be doing here, getting coffee?’

‘No, young Jeremy,’ Comes the response, an edge of malice and the promise of violence thick in the air, ‘Your role in the coming affairs is grander than that of a coffee-carrying serf.’

‘Right, so whatcha need?’ Jeremy chuckles.

‘Is it not quite transparent? I am led to believe it is quite,’ a pause, dramatic and foreboding, ‘severe.’

‘Not picking up what you’re putting down, bud. Speak plainly.’

The royal advisor’s response does not come in the quiet whisper of the old man in dark robes, but as a furious bellow flecked with spittle and rage ‘I am speaking plainly!’

‘Right, sure.’ Comes the reply, disaffected and bored ‘But it’s not exactly safe for me to say it plainly, is it?’

‘Why, Jeremy, surely you know your life is always atop my priorities while you are in my presence; you’re perfectly safe. Put even plainer, it would appear some of the simple folk of the realm feel I am somewhat sinister, and a bad influence on our wise king.’

‘Well, aintcha?’

‘Nothing of the sort, dear boy. I provide elegantly considered suggestions to his eminence, that is all.’ The advisor mutters, the sickening grimace widening under his hood.

‘Right, but, like evil suggestions, right?’

‘Recent deeds that I might claim some credit for include the orphanage in the Wind District, several new crop fields in the King’s private gardens to feed the hungry, and significant progress made on a peace treaty with Havelton to the East. You tell me, are these deeds evil?’

‘Er, nah. They seem pretty decent to be honest.’

‘This is the problem. Somehow, I do only good, honest work and yet am branded a villain in the dirty little eyes of the people.’

‘So you’re saying you’ve got a PR problem, seriously? I’m here to do your marketing?’

‘Nothing so base. You are here to grant me tuition to not sound, as the street-rats playing outside the castle walls describe me, “so damn creepy”.’

‘Ah, right, ok we can work on that. First off you might wanna call them kids or children, not “street-rats”.’

‘Huzzah! This is exactly the kind of delicious information I needed from you. Open up your brain for me, that I might feast on your understanding and sup upon your vocabulary!’

‘Hoo boy, we have some work to do.’

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