The single light source, magical in nature, illuminates the bound textbooks open on the desk before Dion. On the corner of the desk, a black folder sits, ink drying from the latest entry: a grateful merchant’s daughter, recipient of her lost earring.
Pausing from reading a passage, he reaches over to another book, opening it to a section little used. The volume fights him initially, the spine well worn to open to sections covering emotional magic (subsection, love enchantments), which forces him to prop the book open with another of the volumes on his desk in order to allow him to review his current topic of interest.
His deep concentration causes him to miss a disturbance outside his pocket universe, his home in the Guardia annex residing in the kitchen behind the bar. The flicker of the door portal overlaying the pantry breaks Dion’s attention in time to see the barrier open and an enormous and easily recognized individual pass through, leaving the door ajar.
“You are officially in a rut, my good friend. Still using her name as your pass-phrase. Somewhat ironic don’t you think, to invite young pretties into your parlors of amore only to use the name of the one you never got to enter?” The intruder crosses the room on all four huge paws and casually climbs onto the roomy bed, draping his body across it as if claiming it for himself. Under the heavy weight of his leonine form, the wooden frame creaks ominously as if about to break. Folding his wings to his sides, he scans the room, his sharp eagle eyes discerning every detail.
“What a lovely place!” the intruder adds, and then focuses on the god seated at the desk. “So, when are you ever going to get over her?”
Dion takes a settling breath, exhaling slowly as his initial surprise is again replaced by his façade. “Hello, Geryon,” he says to the gryphon, ignoring the question. “I had a suspicion you might show up. Sending Sergeant Alma to the Academy was a risk, but my need was greater.” Standing from his chair and stretching mildly, Dion leans against the desk. “So, what brings you here?”
Geryon tosses his beaked head back, his front paw thrown over an eye in mock pain. “Oh, how pathetic I have become in this abhorant form and all the more so for trusting my dear friend to change me back. And then again,” he adds with a faint growl, glaring at Dion over his razorsharp beak, “who would have thought that my dearest of friends would abandon his promise once he grew bored of his lavish hunting grounds?”
Shaking his head in mild irritation, Dion responds, “If only that were the case, Geryon. I would relish the opportunity to return to my uncle’s estate. Sadly, it seems he is a little upset with me at present.”
Jumping off the bed, moving with amazing lightness for his massive size, the gryphon prowls towards Dion as he continues his lament. “Oh, yes. My uncle is not pleased with you at the moment either, besting his magic with your ill-conceived spell. And how I long to be normal, able to once again console those lovely little throwaways of yours. Instead, I am left with this misshapen carcass, begging for the little comfort of having some poor lass pet the bird-kitty. All too literally your wing man.”
Circling to the other side of his desk, irked that Dion doesn’t laugh at his quip, Geryon continues. “But I interrupt your studies, my dear friend, which I am sure revolve around reversing this terrible injustice you have bestowed on me.” He recognizes the familiar binding of Dion's book. His eyes narrow. “Alas, I see it is just to bolster your love enchantments, to add to your little black folder the most lovely sergeant of the Death Clan whose visit eliminated any chance of meaningful work from the lads. All I heard after her exit was ‘Do you think she’ll come back? Will Dion come back soon with the ladies?’ I finally had to promise to go find you, and I knew exactly who to follow.”
Now focusing his eagle-sharp vision on the texts, Geryon momentarily pauses. His eyes widen as recognition dawns, his shocked realization evaporating his pompous demeanor. “Demons, Gwydion! Lee’s Magical Defense Techniques? Barstow’s Compendium of Offensive Enchantments? Tuk’s Tactical Strategy of Personal Battle?! Are you going mercenary?”
Dion pauses for a moment, then responds quietly in his baritone voice. “I’ve run into a few difficulties since I departed the First Ring.”
“Difficulties? It looks like you are preparing for war! There were rumors that one of your conquests was angry at you, but I have never seen you run, and especially not go all battle-ready. What happened?”
Again Dion pauses and considers. Finally he responds, “One of my...partners came across another.”
Geryon thinks for a moment, then jerks his aquiline head in a gesture Dion recognizes as a shrug. “That’s happened before. You have handled it.”
“This one was a daughter of an Archon, and she started asking around her circle of friends. Sadly, she discovered that I may not have been true to her...or many others. They ran to their fathers.”
Another pause, and Geryon screeches in laughter. “I knew it! I knew that someday, all your carousing around would get you in trouble!”
Dion very stiffly asks, “Do you know what a demon dog is?”
Geryon halts and suddenly looks seriously at Dion. “I am aware of them.”
“I had to battle two, released by an assassin, on my way here.”
Geryon looks around quickly, fear in his eyes. “Is it safe here?”
Dion chuckles in baritone. “We are safe. But since that incident, I’ve been in a bar fight with thugs, attacked by a flaming divine, and almost had my life sucked from me by the Oracle. I decided it prudent to get better with my magic.”
A knock on the doorframe makes Dion turn to see Sgt Machado standing at the door, staring in disbelief at Geryon.
“What is the matter, Mister Pop? Never seen a gryphon before?” Geryon challenges.
The Guardia Popula breaks from his stare and stammers, “Uh...I...I am sorry...Sir? The Inspector would like to see you in his office.”
Dion bows slightly to the mortal. “Thank you, Sergeant. I shall be right there.”
Turning to the gryphon, Dion instructs. “Geryon, I would prefer you remain here until I return.”
“Sure...sure…” Geryon accepts, quickly phasing into his smaller, cuter, more slender form, resembling a small mountain cat, massing roughly as much as a man. “Your pet will just make himself at home here. Run along and see what your master wants.”
Dion, shaking his head, exits the pocket universe to the kitchen. Raising a hand towards the door, he chants a spell under his breath. A flickering at the door indicates a renewal of the protective shield, and once again, the kitchen has a pantry.