A Familiar's Duty
Grim watched from his perch in the aged and splintering rafteras. The wizard’s apprentice was not allowed to bring others into the tower without the master’s permission, but the hooded man made himself quite at home. Something about him caused Grim’s hair to stand on end, he did not know if he wanted to flee from him, or claw at his flesh.
“You promise that everything else will be mine, if I remove him from your competition?” Elisyn the Apprentice asked the mysterious man.
The hooded one let out a croaking laugh and shook his head. “There is nothing that the tottering old fool has that I desire for myself,” he said, “Take what you will - his very tower - but learning his ways will still be your own responsibility.”
It was all that Grim could do, not to hiss and leap down. As the wizard’s familiar, his duties to protect him were just as paramount as his role in a number of his spells and arcane rituals.
“Consider it done,” spoke Elisyn as he gave a gracious bow to his wicked guest. Oh, how truly Grim wished the Master would enter and strike them down, but he knew that he was away in the markets, seeking reagents and herbs. He watched the apprentice make his way up the stairs into the tower proper, and Grim stalked behind along the wooden beams and whatever stones jutted enough to provide a place for his agile feet.
His master’s quarters were easily accessed through a narrow gap in the masonry, and Grim wasted no time in leaping up at the door and sliding the lock into place. It was crafted from fairy-tin and none but those whose blood was placed upon it could open it once closed.
Footsteps and rattling of the handle were soon heard, followed Elisyn’s angry tirade of profanity. Grim turned away and leaped up to the windowsill and stretched himself out to enjoy the warmth of the sun. It pleased him to watch the birds and insect in the gardens below, and as much as he desired to hunt among them, he knew he had to guard his master’s belongings. But that did not mean that he could not dream about the wilds.
“My lazy old friend,” spoke the wizard Caphilan as he entered his study, “wake from your slumber and join me as I prepare my ingredients.”
Grim stretched and flexed his claws against the sill before yawning, and leapt onto the floor to search out his master’s legs to rub against - His robes were covered in dust from the roads, which smelled decidedly different than the dust of the tower which usually coated him.
Caphilan’s bushy beard concealed much of his face, but his eyes which were magnified by round glasses lit up as they always did when he saw Grimoire. “Do not worry your whiskers that I did not think of you,” He rasped, “There is a fine trout in the larders waiting for you tonight!”
Grim jumped upon the workbench and began purring loudly, and even louder still as Caphilan ran gnarled fingers through his pitch-black fur.
“I have the most delightful experiments planned,” he said, “with essence of Aldermere, we may yet bring about the cure for many ailments… and as always I value your company.”
Grim let out a chirping meow and curled himself upon the desk and watched him toil away with cutting herbs and grinding roots. If only he could properly explain to Caphilan that his apprentice was up to no good. As it is, he would make sure that nothing would harm his kind master.
He lurked in the dust and shadows, his slitted eyes were the only thing that betrayed his presence as they caught the candlelight. Grim kept his prey in close watch while Caphilan slumbered, watching Elisyn lurking about the store room.
Elisyn let out a small shout of joy as he raised a small phial, no doubt it was the object of which some nefarious plan encircled. In his blind elation, he left the room and the door open behind himself and grim lurked in his trailing shadow. He began climbing the stairs to the laboratory, but Grim knew a quicker path.
Grim darted along the dusty passages that were hidden behind the walls and leapt up the ancient beams. Cobwebs clung to his glossy midnight furs, but it was the least of his concerns. A rat took notice of his swift ascent and let out a loud squeak. Grim took the rat’s body into his mouth and leapt onwards until he found the gap in the stones that lead into the laboratory. The rat squealed and struggled against Grim’s gentle hold until he place his paw over it’s head.
The door rattled for a moment before swinging open and revealing Elisyn with fine metal tools which he quickly thrust into his pockets. He smiled and raised the dark vial as he approached the vat that held Caphilan’s elixer that he hoped would cure the fever. With a swift motion, Elisyn uncorked the vial and began tapping drops into the swirling cauldron which began to bubble and froth.
Grim held back his desire to growl and rushed forward, rat swinging in his mouth - which he dropped from the rafters.
Elisyn screamed and thrashed as the large rat dropped onto his head and slipped into his robes. The vial fell into the cauldron - and the essences turned from soothing blues to a nefarious red which pulsed brighter and brighter. Grim turned and quickly pounced through the gap in the stone.
The resulting explosion caused a cascade of dust, turning Grim’s coat to ashen grey. He returned to the rafters and spied Elisyn lying prostrate on the ground. His chest still moved, and his flesh was blackened with soot. A sudden squeak caught Grim’s attention, and the rat burst from Elisyn’s robes and darted out the door. It was fortunate for that rodent that Grim’s master saw that his hunger was sated. Besides, something so lowly as vermin did not suit his refined palate. Although, it did give him an idea.
The wizard Caphilan entered the room with the presence of a thunder storm, despite the fact that he was clothed in a nightcap and sleeping gown. “What has happened here, Elisyn?” he cried.
“I heard a sound and came to investigate,” said Elisyn the liar, "I know not what has happened, save I saw flame and then darkness."
Caphilan took Elisyn’s head into his hands and wove his healing magics through him. “Go you to bed and rest, child,” he said, “and as I have told you since your first day - you must never enter my laboratory.” Even Grim could sense the subtle nuances of his disappointment - human speech as enigmatic as it is. Elisyn nodded vigorously and stood up, catching sight of Grim who lurked in the high beams. He frowned and staggered his way out the door.
Grim leaped from beam to beam and plodded silently before Caphilan.
“You are as a frightful ghost, my dear friend!” Caliphan wheezed as he knelt and wiped away the grime from Grim, “I am glad you survived, though my heart is broken. My cure most treasured will be further delayed.
Grim wove between the wizard’s legs, giving him a brief nuzzle before leading the way out of the laboratory and towards the bed chambers.
While his kind master returned to his slumber, Grim watched in the shadows, alert and ready.
It was not common for Grim to hold a grudge. Plenty of ignorant human kittens have tugged at his whiskers and stepped on his tail, and he forgave them in their ignorance. But this human had no excuse. He knew the weight of his wicked deeds, and he would pay for it, and become his prey.
And Grim took no small measure of amusement from his prey.
The delicate silver knife rocked against the wooden board, finely slicing the unusual bulb. It was nearly hypnotic to Grim, but he did not let himself truly rest. He knew he couldn't so long as the plotting apprentice held residence in his master's tower.
Elisyn the sneak muttered to himself as he fiddled with the key ring, unaware of Grim lurking just outside the window, cloaked in the darkness of night.