I sat in the front portico of the hotel and watched as Grace got everyone loaded. Like any conventioneer, the Faerie were tired but happy and a little wistful that the World Gathering had ended. I could see the bags looked heavier--probably full of plastic drek from Fantasyland. A few folks wore T-shirts; I didn't think they made them in pixie size. Theirs all bore Tinkerbell striking a most unchildish pose. I snorted. Figures.
I spied Siegfried by a pillar getting one last kiss from his Nordic lady. Meanwhile, Cambridge Ramada was giving Brunhilde a small leather case. I heard her exclaim, "My own pedicure set!" and she enveloped him in a hug, squashing his face in her ample bosom. I don't think he minded until he started suffocating. She released him with a hasty, "Oh, sorry, ja?"
Galinda and Galendor exited the hotel and came over to see me. Galinda gave me a hug. Galendor was more stand-offish. Neither he nor Gozon was pleased that we had not only confiscated the found bull, but convinced the brownies that its proper place was with the Faerie Vatican until the House Eternal Winds started playing nice. I figure another fifteen or twenty years of negotiations, and all will be well again. That's a flash in the pan to an Elf, but it doesn't mean they have to like it.
Fine by me; I wasn't especially interested in getting hugged by an Elf, anyway. I seldom got hugged before St. George's spell; even now, I don't especially appreciate being treated like a large plushy. Not my image, if you know what I mean. I'd make an exception for a Faerie Princess--but her Consort Elf? Even I get to have standards.
"It seems we again owe you a debt of gratitude; isn't that right, Galendor?"
Did I detect an archness in her voice? She'd come a long way since she was a damsel in distress needing my rescue.
Galendor nodded. "My beloved speaks truly, for verily, were it not for you, O Great and Wise Dragon who once flew the fields of Caraparavalenciana, striking awe and fear into the hearts of its mortal inhabitants..."
By the time he'd finished the Elvish equivalent of a grudging, "Yeah. Couldn't have done it without you" and they bid me goodbye and headed to their limo, the bus was loaded.
Grace exchanged a last hug with Shirley and walked over to me. "Ready?"
I nodded to her, then tossed my head in a "good-bye" to Shirley and the other conventioneers we'd be leaving behind. I frowned thoughtfully.
Her gaze grew suspicious. "About...?"
My frown turned into a grin worthy of any imp. "Just what other fine Mensa we're going to get into next."
I launched myself in the air and had taken my station on the roof of the bus before she could shriek.
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(c) Karina Fabian. World Gathering first appeared in serial in The Prairie Dawg