Cli-thump tack, cli-thump tack, cli-thump ta-tack, cli-thump tack, cli-thump ta-tack, cli-thump ta-tack, cli-thump tack, cli-thump tack, cli-thump tack, cli-thump ta-tack, cli-thump ta--
Footsteps down the hall preceded his arrival--the steps themselves were not very loud, but every other step was interrupted by something heavy and blunt striking the ground. Eventually there was a pause, and then the door opened.
That was the first time Talim Vassar actually saw Matalik Varlot.
"I'm here to do business."
Varlot popped a white mint, small and round, into his beak, sharp tip snapping shut before he turned, single red eye rolling to fix on the Crutsu in front of him.
The pupil, previously a black pinhole, was now dilated and large.
Varlot himself was a reasonably tall creature, over seven feet tall when standing erect, with plumage of variegated reds and stark black. He had only the one eye, on the left side--his right eye was covered by a black patch, which blended into the black feathers around it. He wasn't exactly young-looking--somewhere between sixty and seventy, at best estimate--but he seemed fairly healthy, eyepatch aside. His feathers were sleek and well-groomed. Of course, he also used a short, round-topped cane--the source of the loud thumping earlier--to stand upright. One of the fingers on that right hand was missing.
"Just Varlot, please." Varlot waved for him to sit back down; when he didn't, Varlot cocked his head slightly, as though sizing him up. "Mr. Vassar."
Vassar stood his ground, however, the tension not in his face but in his back and shoulders. Extending his hand, he waited while Varlot moved in kind--and the bird extended his left hand to meet Vassar's right. The Crutsu stared at it for a moment before realising, belatedly, that Varlot leaned on his cane on his right side: if he let go to shake hands, he would most likely fall over. Wordlessly, Vassar swapped hands and they shook on it; they retracted mutually, and Varlot made no comment on the gaffe, if it even affected him--given the lack of reaction, Vassar would have had to guess it didn't.
"So what happened to your eye?"
Still standing, Varlot leaned on his cane at the other end of the table, his long hook-tipped tail moving mere centimetres over the floor. Despite his distant, distracted, businesslike demeanour, Varlot had turned out to be remarkably cordial--brisk, yes, firm, yes, but with a benign, knowing sort of smile that suggested he was not, perhaps, the demon that his business acumen had made him out to be. On the other hand, he still declined a seat--repeatedly, in fact, explaining that he preferred to stand, and adding that with his leg what it was, it would most likely take longer for him to get back up than the time spent sitting down to begin with was worth. The second half was said in a way that suggested it was meant to be taken as humour, but Vassar had the feeling that the response might not have been so genial on an undercurrent, and thus chose to leave the issue at what it was.
They had more pressing interests to pursue.
Somehow, however, the conversation had taken a couple of strange turns, and now they were here.