Alessandro Maggiormente frowned. There was something wrong with the formula but he could not locate where he had gone astray. He looked up at the array of beakers and frowned more.
"You've missed an important ingredient," Eduardo said, the languor of his voice conveying a sense of unutterable boredom.
"That is apparent," Maggiormente muttered without looking over his shoulder at his familiar. "If you could actually pinpoint the missing element, that would actually prove useful."
"I suppose," Eduardo said, raising his face to the warming rays of the sun, "but I have not been able to pay attention today. This is the first sun we've had since we came to this wretched land."
Maggiormente looked up. "Is that so? I had not noticed."
"You never do."
The alchemist ran his finger down the page, mentally ticking off each herb and tincture. Perhaps it was something in the order of elements—oh, if he had to start over again! How tiresome. He rubbed his eyes. Perhaps he had been at this for too long today.
"Yesterday," Eduardo said, stretching.
Maggiormente looked up at that. "What?"
"You've been at this particular round since yesterday. You're too tired to think straight. I bet you're hungry, too. I know I am." His big green eyes blinked. "Very."
"You're always hungry," Maggiormente said absently, but rubbing his eyes he realised he was famished. "Do we have something left to eat?"
"No, we need to go out." Eduardo became mobile instantly, shrugging off the sunlight-induced indolence with shocking ease. "Let's go out!"
Maggiormente looked down at him. "Remember what happened last time we went out."
"That was not my fault."
"You frightened that woman very badly."
"Some people frighten easily."
"She had every reason to be alarmed. You roared at her most inexcusably!"
Eduardo snorted. "You'd think the woman had never seen a lion before."
Maggiormente put his hands on his hips and glowered at the cat. "You are the last of your kind, Eduardo. No one has seen a Venetian lion if they have not seen you."
"I'm sure there must be some others around," Eduardo said, flexing his wings a little with a shake. "They just have better things to do."
The alchemist sighed. "I hope your presence does not overshadow my own experiments at the Exposition."
"I can't help it if I am beautiful," Eduardo said.
"Not to mention insufferable," Maggiormente muttered.
The cat pretended not to hear him. "I smell duck. Wouldn't duck be just the thing? And maybe some chicken afterward. And a cow."
"Maybe you should wait here while I go get some victuals."
"I promise to be on my best behaviour," Eduardo said, raising a paw as if to swear.
"Why don't I believe that?" the alchemist said with a snort.
"I will, you'll see. I shall be genteel and nod politely and say 'please'."
"Perhaps you ought not to speak at all."
Eduardo looked affronted by that. "Next you'll make me wear a hat."
"Not a bad idea."
"I am not a monkey."
Maggiormente sighed. "You would be easier to manage if you were."
"Monkeys are no help at all when it comes to alchemical workings. And they smell."
"True enough. But they look very smart in hats."
Eduardo narrowed his eyes at the alchemist. "If you absolutely insist, I will wear the fez. But I will not be pleased."