“It’s all right, Sergeant. I can vouch for this youngster. He was probably out collecting the Lesser Spotted Hawkwing Orchid that only appears at night time, for his herbmaster. Is that not correct, young Nomis?” The tall Elfin arched his eyebrow as if to defy Nomis to contradict him.
“Er … yes … Master Clogfryn, sir. My master detailed me to go out to look for the … er … Lesser Spotted Hawkwing Orchid alone because … he wasn’t feeling too well earlier this evening. However, … er … if it hadn’t been collected this evening at the full moon, it would’ve lost some of its potency.” Nomis lied rather well, he thought.
The guard, however, still seemed unconvinced. “Hmm … Well I suppose that’s all right, then.”
Nevertheless, as he turned to go, he suddenly wheeled round, to face Nomis squarely. Nomis jumped with fright, as he was caught by surprise at the guard’s determined, booming question.
“Did you see a stranger? … Fairly tall, about four inches high? He was wearing a full-length black cloak with a cowled hood drawn up to hide his face. We had reports that he had been making his way in this direction,” he finished belligerently.
Nomis began nodding, before he had realised his mistake.
“Yes, Sergeant. There was a stranger, and he did pass along this corridor, but I … er … didn’t have a chance to see him. I was … er … hiding behind those firebrands … because his footfalls sounded so menacing. …”
Nomis felt rather embarrassed to admit that he had been frightened enough to hide, in front of these tough guardsmen wielding their battle halberds. They all simply grinned openly at him, as his face became redder, except of course for the Sergeant, who continued to view him with a degree of suspicion.
“All right! All right, you lot! Get moving! We have an intruder to catch. We can’t stand around all night listening to some wet-behind-the-ears apprentice … Move it!”
The twenty or so guards hastily continued down towards the eastern entrance, as commanded.
“And you, young Nomis, had better be about your business. Don’t let me catch you here again, without permission at night, on my watch!”