Steve Adderson sat at looked at the result of months of hard work nestling in his hands. It looked like a conker case, the green, spiky shell that enclosed the polished brown nuts inside. It had taken him months of hard work, arcane research and difficult spell casting but inside was the answer to a question. He just had to choose the question.
"What are you going to ask?" Armani said, taking a lungful of foul smoke from his miniature rollup. The imp settled on Steve's hand and spat on the table next to where it rested. "There's no rush, boss, maybe just go for a walk, get some fresh air. It won't hurt to sleep on it."
Steve said nothing, continuing to stare at the cases.
Armani took another drag of his rollup and pinched it out. "Listen, boss, you could ask for the way to get Elaine back, to make her stay. You know she loved you really. She just couldn't hack the weird stuff." Armani grasped at straws. "I tell you what, I wouldn't smoke in the house either."
Steve said nothing. The cases felt cool and slightly damp against his palm, as if they had been freshly picked on a damp autumn day instead of being conjured in a converted garage.
"What would you really achieve if you found your father. He could be dead." Amarni tried to read Steve's face." I mean, he never knew you, so he could be living with a family. He could have grandkids. He may not want to see you."
Steve slowly moved his fingers over the cases. They felt rough and organic.
"You've missed Elaine a lot." Armani persisted. "I know she's just dumped her last boyfriend. Why don't you just send her a text?"
Steve surfaced and looked at the scruffy imp on his hand. "It's good to know when something is finished." He said quietly.
"Then look for a new girlfriend." Armani urged. "Ask who would make you the best wife and find her."
"You know who my father is, don't you?" Steve said quietly to Armani.
"I don't know who." Armani said. "I don't have a name. But I've got some ideas and you've been a good boss and as a decent imp I'm telling you to step away from this because you had enough pain from Elaine." Armani pulled out the dog end of the rollup and lit it again with a spark from his fingers. "And there's no rush. We've got that shipload of dog chews for Lord Thibault to sort out. You can think it over."
"I need to know who my father is." Steve said firmly. "And I need to know now."
This is the last Steve Adderson story until after I publish 'The Prince and the Paladin' when all will be revealed. Publication date - I'm working on it.