Perhaps he'd want me to conjure up an illusion. That might be fun: there was bound to be a way of misinterpreting his request and upsetting him†.
†One magician demanded I show him an image of the love of his life. I rustled up a mirror.
When I landed on the top of a lamppost in the London dusk it was peeing with rain.
No magical alarm sounded, though I did hit my head five times on a pebble†.
†Once each on five different pebbles. Not the same pebble five times. Just want to make that clear. Sometimes you human beings are so dense.
"Remember this." he said in a soft voice. "Demons are very wicked. They will hurt you if they can. Do you understand this?"
The old pain had started up again, throbbing in my chest, stomach, bones. It wasn't healthy to be encased in a body for so long. How humans can stand it without going completely mad, I'll never know.†
† Then again... maybe that explains a lot.
"I'm Martha. And you are...?"
A small snuffle, a smaller voice. "Nathaniel."
"I order you, Bartimaeus, to reveal whether you have diligently and wholly carried out your charge-"
"Of course I have - what do you think this is, costume jewelry?"
"Too much hate is bad for you," I ventured.
"H-he is a messenger for you. H-h-he brings a message."
"You stagger me, Simpkin! A messenger with a message! Extraordinary."
The darkness cloaking my mind lifted. Instantly, I was as alert as ever, crystal-sharp in all my perceptions, a coiled spring ready to explode into action. It was time to escape!
Except it wasn't.
"I know you," he said. "I know your scent. Long ago, yes, but I never forget. I know your name."
"A friend of a friend, perhaps?" I eyed his spear-tip nervously. Unlike Eagle-beak, he didn't wave it about at all.
"No... an enemy..."
"Terrible when you can't remember something that's right on the tip of your tongue," I observed. "Isn't it, though? And you try so hard to recall it, but often as not you can't because some fool's interrupting you, prattling away so you can't concentrate, and-"
Bull-head gave a bellow of rage. "Shut up! I almost had it then!"
"Woken up, have you?" the woman said. Her voice was like broken glass in an ice bucket.†
† Unexpectedly sharp. And cold. No one can say I don't work hard describing things for you.
In the middle of the lawn was a lake adorned with an ornamental fountain, depicting an amorous Greek god trying to kiss a dolphin.†
"Take that stupid grin off your face," he said. "You're putting me off."
"Sorry." I adopted a hideous expression of malady and woe.
"That's not much better."
So I departed, leaving behind a pungent smell of brimstone. Just something to remember me by.
I'm only introducing it because of a small sub-clause in an Official Charge that escaped my notice a year or two back. Unfortunately the author didn't forget. Like elephants, authors are – nothing contractual escapes them.
A better plan would be to head straight for Bart's Guide to London, since that's hugely entertaining and witty, i.e. written by me.
As part of my current charge I have been instructed to provide an occasional journal of my recent activities*.
*I avoid the term blog, since coincidentally this word is also the name of a repulsive sub-caste of foliots, characterised by ooze, fleshy folds and gills of blue-grey gristle. Think slugs, but with worse personalities.
In Other Place. Did nothing.
Yep, same again. Saw a few nice whirling colours and things. That's it. Easy, this journal lark, isn't it?
Today summoned painfully to earth by a short fat English magician with a dangerous stammer*.
*Dangerous because any verbal hiccup while giving me my orders would break my bonds and uncage my savage wrath. Ooh, gave myself a bit of a shiver writing that. That's literary talent.
No attack yet by Archmage. Wish he'd hurry up.
Spy three suspicious butterflies flitting over hedge. Check the planes. Yep, small foliots, arms flapping wildly. Wasp rises up behind them, shoots down out of sun, zaps them with Infernos, one, two, three. Burning butterflies crash-land in pond. Alert master to my triumph. She inspects charred fragments. Her scowl deepens; turns out they were her slaves, returning with valuable information.
[T]he magician emerges from bed and we recount our tale. Her response lacks gratitude: stammering furiously, she chides us for the damage to her lawns and flowerbed. The boy is smacked; I am Spasmed; we both spend the day with nail-clippers attending to the damage to the garden.
After Bartimaeus and 'the boy' defeat enemies entering the yard.
The boy did the preliminaries, sealing the circles, erecting the bonds. Now we were all subject to the rules of the summoning. But then he stopped. He did not progress. The woman looked at him furiously. "I've forgotten it," he said.
The boy shrugged. "I've forgotten it," was all he said. And then, "I guess I wasn't taught well enough."
Maybe I'd better call a halt to the journal for a bit. Until something crops up, that is, which it hopefully won't for a couple of decades. In the meantime: farewell, enjoy your futile lives, etc. This is Bartimaeus, care of The Other Place, signing off.