"Where are you going at this hour, conjurer? Could it be that you've finally tired of shirking your duties?"
It had been some time since Nathaniel had heard such irritation in Marbas' voice.
"Your words are as kind as ever, I see." He pulled his greatcoat tight around him as the familiar chill of the creature's presence began to seep into the room. "In fact, I was just about to pay a visit to our dear Frayne. He has been a rather busy man as of late, you know."
"With what? The man does nothing but choke on his own blood and air his sorrows," Marbas replied, drawing the words out into a throaty growl. "He squanders his power, and you allow him to do it. We had a pact, you and I. You promised that you could use him to bring me others."
"And I shall, once I've had a little more time," Nathaniel said, and bent to gather his boots. "I fear that your little gift may have been...overwhelming. Frayne simply needs to adjust to it, and then--"
"He will use it, or he will perish."
Nathaniel started a bit at that; this time, not only had he heard the demon's voice, but felt it as well, somewhere at the base of his skull.
"He's well aware of that, Marbas! He just needs some convincing."
A low growl emanated from behind him. He knew what that sound meant, and what he would see if he did; having witnessed Marbas' fearful transformation once before, he had no desire to do so again.
"Then do it quickly, before I lose my patience with both of you." Marbas was moving away from him now; Nathaniel could hear the heavy thud of his footsteps, like the paws of a great beast padding across the floor. Something about that sound made the hairs on the back of his neck prickle with fear.
"As you say."