The Case of the Misplaced Hero
by Camille LaGuire
Episode 16 - The Flash Mob
"IT NEVER RAINS except when you have a hole in the roof and no bucket," said Rozinshura to the cook. Pookiterin had gone back to his parlor, and they were alone for a moment, but the crowd in the entrance way was growing and pushing and getting louder.
It drew Rozinshura back to earth -- after his short flight of panic over spies and wars and coups and assassinations. That was how trouble was: A small problem is painful. A big problem makes you forget the small problems. But an unlimited number of overwhelming problems makes everything ordinary again.
"Kinchin Niko," he said, "we have three catastrophes, if not more. All of our forces are up at the trainwreck or chasing bandits or resources. We have Pookiterin in our parlor which is always a bad sign, and I have evidence it's worse than we know. And now we have a crowd of angry people in our vestibule who are too important to ignore."
"And too many to ignore, Kinchin Captain," said Niko.
"And I have a drunken spy in my office, whom I must hide until he is sober enough to make sense," said Rozinshura. "There are only three of us; you, me, and Kinchin Tralkulo. And you, I think, are the key to our salvation. Niko, we must feed all of them well. The crowd, Pookiterin, anybody who opens his mouth to make trouble, put food in it."
"Yes, Kinchin Captain," said Niko.
"Good food. The best we've got."
"Yes, Kinchin Captain."
"Also, I need you to take charge of our drunk." Rozinshura pulled out his storeroom keys and handed them to Niko. "Hide him. Let him sleep until he is sensible. And nobody speaks to him before I do."
Niko nodded his respect and went to fetch the professor. Rozinshura took a deep breath and headed off through the tavern to the main entry, where the crowd was gathered.
Tralkulo was a young soldier, and only a clerk, but she was also wide of girth and she managed to hold the stairs alone, brandishing her bayonet like a recuiting poster. The security men were trying, less successfully, to defend the parlor. Rozinshura had no confidence that they would have the sense not to shoot the Ambassador of Imperia -- who apparently hadn't the sense not to shake a finger in their faces.
So he left Tralkulo to defend the stairs and pushed his way through the crowded entry way to the parlor door. He pulled himself up on a bench.
"Please, everyone! You are most welcome, but let us not push or shoot, yes?"
The crowed turned their attention to him, which calmed the security men. Tralkulo raised her bayonet.
"We are sorry if we have neglected you. Please find a place in the tavern or the parlor, and we shall speak calmly, yes?"
"Not the parlor!" said Pookiterin.
The ambassador, an august man with a trimmed white beard and his arm in a sling, bristled.
"The ladies, sir, cannot be forced into a tavern!"
"Your ladies can sit on the ground!" said Pookiterin. He said it so rudely that Rozinshura felt a prickle up his spine.
Pookiterin must know who he was talking to. He must know there would be consequences when Vshtin arrived and heard the complaints of his allies. Unless... unless Pookiterin knew there would not be consequences.
The ambassador took a deep breath to reply, and Rozinshura wanted to step in between them, but he was up on the bench, and his leg would not bend. He could not get down without help.
He considered calling to Tralkulo, but then inspiration struck, and he put his hands heavily on the shoulders of both Pookiterin and the ambassador.
"My friends, we have no need to shout!" he shouted, boisterously. He vaulted himself down to land between them, nearly knocking them both over. They were so surprised that they stopped growling at each other. "We will find a suitable place for everyone. Kinchin Tralkulo, help the ladies!"
The ladies had already begun to help themselves by moving into the parlor anyway. Pookiterin raced back in to secure his papers and prisoner.
Stay Tuned for Episode Seventeen: "Alex Finds a Sock"
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