A Small Favor

It’s a sunny and clear morning when Archdeacon Latimer requests to see Valcon, asking him to come to his office in the Castle.

Valcon smiles at the page that delivered the summons with a quiet, “Thank you.” The page bows and dashes off. Valcon gives a nod to the other men in the training area, and walks off the floor. He pauses only long enough for a quick wipe down, and then pulls his shirt and over tunic on, reties his short tail of curls back with another clean hair tie. He had thought about cutting his hair again but the ladies so liked his tight golden curls.

The walk through the castle is uneventful, and he quickly finds himself at his destination. He pauses in front of the door to the Archdeacon’s office, tucking his over tunic in place, and then opens the door, glancing around the room with surprising gold eyes. The secretary behind the desk inside looks up when the door opens, then stands with a scraping of chair legs against the floor. Opening the door to the inner office, he speaks quietly for a few seconds before turning back to Valcon. “The Archdeacon will see you now.”

Valcon gives the barest of smiles in reply and silently thanks the One that he wasn’t a secretary! He walks past the secretary into the office, and the door closes quietly behind him. “You summoned me Archdeacon Latimer?” Valcon inquires in his soft and pleasant voice.

Latimer is sitting at his desk, which has several piles of papers and books stacked neatly about it. He smiles at Valcon as the other enters, putting down his pen and pushing the dark tail of long hair back over his shoulder. He’s wearing his typical priestly robe - dark green trimmed with gold with a white collar. “Good morning, Valcon. Please, come in and have a seat.” He gestures to one of the comfy-looking chairs sitting nearby.

“Thank you, Archdeacon Latimer,” Valcon replies as he settles his slender but tall white and gold clad frame into a chair. He glances at the paperwork on the desk, and then looks up at Latimer. “Paperwork. Not one of my favorite tasks. And you must have more then the average clerk.” He pauses, smiles, then continues, “What can I do for you today?”

Latimer quirks an eyebrow at Valcon’s remark, leaning back in his chair. “I actually haven’t asked you here in an official capacity, Valcon. I’m afraid that if I didn’t do it now, though, the time would have gotten away from me, as it always seems to.” He chuckles, twisting his ring around his finger. “I understand that you often do… special tasks for Father and others around the castle. I would like to ask you… a personal favor.”

It was Valcon’s turn to quirk one of his platinum blond eyebrows up. When he replies, his pleasant voice shows his curiosity. “I do… such things as King Oberon or the others need. What kind of personal favor?”

Latimer grins at Valcon. “Nothing all that difficult, I would hope. It’s very simple, really. As you may know, my sister’s birthday is coming up soon. I would like to get something special for her, but I am not able to travel to the place where it is right now, as I don’t have time. Are you available to travel in the next few days?”

This comment lifts Valcon’s other eyebrow for a moment as he thinks. Then he replies, “I would be happy to get it for you. Besides where it is and what it is, is there any danger associated with getting it? I ask because — I would think that a standard courier could do this? The couriers are can be sworn to secrecy if necessary. And asking for me is like asking to use a broadsword when a butter knife will do.”

“Perhaps I have heard good things about you,” Latimer answers, still smiling. “And the standard courier would bring what I need back in several days, whereas you, I believe, have a trump of me and are able to use it?” He gives Valcon an inquiring look. “So travel there and then trump back here. It’s not dangerous,” he adds.

“Yes, I have a trump and yes I would be back faster. Thank you for your compliment. Which of your sister’s birthdays is it? Just curious,” Valcon replies with the softest of chuckles.

Latimer’s smile takes on an affectionate quality that hadn’t been there before. “Lyonene,” he answers simply, as though that explains everything. “I was recalling to her recently some of the things I had seen in my travels, and it would seem she’s never been to Delphi. The flowers there are some of the most beautiful I have seen, but as with all flowers, are best when just cut.”

“Delphi! That is 40 days travel? Unless you want me to hellride. Which I can — I have done it before,” Valcon replies surprised.

Latimer is unfazed. “Don’t you need a vacation?” he asks somewhat jokingly.

Valcon laughs. “I always like an afternoon hellride. Which flowers did you want? And where in Delphi?”

Latimer explains where Delphi is, what flowers he wants - exactly - and how to get them. It’s not difficult. Delphi is one big mountain island in a sea. “However, I have heard that it is not always in the same place. The Shadow, that is.” He shrugs a little. “I don’t know, as I’ve only been there once. Ni’s birthday isn’t for a couple weeks, so you have a little time.”

Valcon listens and nods to the description of what was needed and where it was then says, “Ok, that gives me enough time to plan the trip. Ni?”

“Lyonene?” Latimer answers.

Valcon smiles. “Ah a pet name…” He chuckles softly. “She usually doesn’t let me get away with anything but Lyonene. Though sometimes I mumble under my breath about being a Lyoness. The dressing down she gave me a couple of years ago on the state of my quarters…” He shakes his head and then continues. “She didn’t like the excuse that I gave which was I had just gotten back from a war in a shadow and decided a bath was more important than picking up the trail of blood and gore stained clothing I left as I undressed while heading for the bathroom. I paid for that one.”

Latimer laughs at his answer, and then shakes his head. “She is… most ferocious in her ire, I will admit. But one of the benefits of being her older brother is that I can get away with some things others cannot. Did she work you over while you were undressed and in the bath? Or were you able to face her dressed and with your dignity?” His eyes sparkle with amusement.

Valcon cheeks blush a bit. “In the bath and undressed. Needless to say, at least I had the wherewithal to not stand up and bow to her. Castle Chamberlin she maybe be, but she is Princess and a maiden. I think Oberon would have had my head if I had done something considered inappropriate like standing up and bowing nude and dripping to her.”

Latimer laughs even more appreciatively at the mental image that evokes. “I don’t know, Valcon. That might have been more amusing yet. If she walks into your bath and proceeds to act according to her habits, I think she should reap the rewards. Remember,” he says with mock severity, “as a princess, she must always be treated with due respect.”

Valcon manages to stifle most of his laughter at Latimer’s tone and replies with more then a little bit of humor in his voice. “Alas, had I done so, then I would certainly be answering to Oberon. For I fear — one glance at me and she would of been in the bath with me. At least that is what most of the ladies both high and low born say when they see me nude.”

Latimer’s eyebrows go up, surprised at the other man’s boldness. “Pride goeth before the fall, Valcon,” he replies, a little more seriously, though not severely. That he was displeased by the remark is apparent, however, in the darkening of his grey eyes. “You seem very certain of your prowess and attraction,” he adds mildly. “However, I believe you give yourself too much credit.”

Valcon cocks his eyebrow up and replies, his voice soft and composed. “Pride — No, it is not pride that speaks, but experience. More than one hundred years of it. But no matter, I will get your flowers for Princess Lyonene. Anything else I can do for you?”

“You have much more than just experience,” Latimer notes. “No, that is all I need. If you are unable to get away for this, please let me know. Also, as I said, this is a personal favor. We will need to work out the method of compensation at some point. Thank you.” That’s a dismissal if ever Valcon heard one.

Valcon stands and bows. “Compensation is not necessary Archdeacon Latimer. It’s part of my duties — since I have no official duties to attend to in Amber.” With that said, Valcon rises and quietly leaves, and the requested flowers are delivered on time for the Princess’s birthday.

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