I didn’t get much sleep, but I did come back in a better mood, even though I probably needed to go to Confession now. I wondered how I'd manage that; I could only imagine what would happen if I walked into a Confessional here in Florida.
Actually, they’d probably think I was an animatronic practical joke.
As I descended, I listened for Grace and found her asking a question in one of the presentations. Then from the lobby, I heard was something that sounded something like “ghkkkrrkhk!” along with yelling. Norwegian yelling.
Somebody’d finally pushed Siegfried over the edge. No rest for the sitters. I angled toward the entrance.
Siegfried was in civilian clothes for a change, his muscles bulging under his t-shirt from the effort of holding a bellhop six inches off the ground by his throat. Completely ignoring the security guard and the manager, Siegfried kept his victim pinned to the wall while he shouted in Norwegian, “Why do you care what’s in my wallet? What does this Roy want with me? What is a tiger?”
I recognized the bellhop’s flushed face as the same that was snorting and laughing while saying, “the horror.” Now I realized what he was really saying: “Hvor er rog og tigeren?” Where are Roy and the tiger?
Bet there was a “Hva har du in lommebok” before that. What’s in your wallet, indeed. Just what we needed, barely bilingual practical jokers who like credit card commercials.
By the struggling and wheezing, I could tell the guy was breathing, but the security guard didn’t seem so sure. She’d given up tugging on Siegfried’s arm and yelling for him to let go and was pulling out her gun when I barreled in.
I stuck my nose between Siegfried and his victim. Victim screamed and even Siegfried jumped back, letting Joker free. Joker tried to dash away, but I pinned him in place with my tail. Then I turned to Siegfried and said, “Do you have a good reason for beating up a Mundane?”
Siegfried looked down a moment, the brought his chin up defiantly. “For days, he and friend follow me. They say things I don’t understand. They laugh. I ignore them. I think, ‘They not mean me.’ I think, ‘They are wrong in the head,’ yah?”
“Oh, yeah,” I said, with a glare at the One Formerly Known as Laughing Boy.
“I see them with Brunhilde. This, too, I ignore. She is better than they deserve, but I ignore! Today, in my language they question me. I cannot ignore. I do not know Roy! Why am I under this scrutiny?” He turned again to the Bilingual Bozo and shouted in Norwegian: “Why do you care what’s in my wallet? My possessions are my business!”
In the crowd, I noticed a tall blond woman’s expression of horror.
I’d worry about her later. I replied to Siegfried in Norwegian. “Relax. Nobody’s keeping watch on you. You’re the victim of a juvenile practical joke--and not a very clever one. Now observe a Master.”
I turned to Jokers Mild. “This is what happens when you harass other people for fun. Worth it?” He shook his head violently. “Learned your lesson?” He nodded with equal enthusiasm. “Good. Since you’re so eager to learn a new language, let’s work on apologies. Repeat after me--and don’t mess it up.” I began in Siegfried’s native dialect. “O Great Siegfried the Benevolent.”
“O-o-o Great Siegfried the B-B-Benevolent.”
I chided him against stuttering and began again. “Please forgive me. I am an idiot. I am very sorry. I am a puny girly-man. You are smarter, stronger, and better looking than I can ever hope to be. Thank you for not killing me. If I ever saw a real tiger, I would wet my pants--”
By now Siegfried was trying hard not to chortle. “Yah. You’re forgiven.”
“Now,” I said to my much chagrined but no-longer-a-target-for-Viking-stomping charge, “You apologize to your manager and the officer for causing so much trouble. Professor Siegfried---”
“Professor?” This from the manager.
“Yes, one of the leading Faerie scholars on Scandinavian history, here at the invitation of your universe. This could have been an Interdimensional Incident, you know.”
“But he almost killed me!” Apparently, now that Siegfried the Viking was Professor Siegfried, Girly-Man was getting brave.
“And you’ve been harassing him since he got here, haven’t you?”
He looked ready to protest, but I bared my teeth and he crumpled. “Yes,” he mumbled.
“You got lucky. Done that with Magical, and you might have found yourself with a slow debilitating curse. Remember that the next time you’re tempted to take a joke too far.”
Then I turned to Siegfried. “Apologize.”
He heaved a sigh. “I lost my temper. I am sorry.” He held out his hand and they shook. Girly Man grimaced as his hand was enveloped and crushed.
The crowd dispersed, and Sigfried gave me a nod and headed off. The blonde I’d seen earlier touched his shoulder and apologized in Mundane Norwegian. She’d taught the bellhops those phrases, apparently, but hadn’t known what they’d wanted them for. I caught a whiff of pheromones and grinned. Maybe I wouldn’t need to worry about Sig and Bruni anymore.
Which didn’t mean my worries were over. The guard came to me with a nattering Gozon in tow. He was going on about the rush of the crowd out of the restaurant to witness the altercation.
“I’m not sure,” the officer said, “but I think someone did something to him?”
I gave her a nod and took Gozon aside. Half an hour later--fast for Gozon; he must be learning--I got the whole story:
In the confusion caused by Sigfried’s outburst, someone had stolen something out of his briefcase. He claimed it was Galendor.
And he was ready to declare war on Galendor’s tribe and the Kingdom of Tavendor for the insult.
If you like the story, the book is even better!
More antics, more mystery, new ending. Order from Amazon.
(c) Karina Fabian. World Gathering first appeared in serial in The Prairie Dawg