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Drustan begrudgingly traversed the labyrinth of tunnels beneath his Apothecary heading to Vito’s subterranean headquarters, annoyed at being summoned for a meeting.  He noticed a sign above the entrance to Vito’s offices and was sure it had not been there before.  Since he’d arrived before the others, he made a quick check of each entrance to the command post.  Sure enough, the same sign had been placed at all of them.

       “If this is his idea of a farce, it’s in poor taste,” Drustan grumbled to himself.

In the main conference room, a circular oak table had replaced the long rectangular mahogany conference which had been there previously.

       “Oh joy...  How very Camelot...”  Drustan thought to himself, finding his placard and taking his seat.  “I suppose he thinks he’s being quaint.”

The others filed in shortly: Galen, with Dr. Hisakawa floating beside him; Anezka, hand-in-hand with her husband, Ondrej; Donatella, then Jamar, and lastly, Seth strolled in.  They all seated themselves, and made small talk, no one mentioning the signs above the portals.  Vito failed to appear either in person or on the wall screen for more than fifteen minutes into the scheduled meeting time.

       “Well, fine, then, since obviously, no one else is going to ask...” Drustan began, leaning back in his chair and looking around the table at the gathered attendees. “...does anyone have any clue what this meeting is all about?”

No one answered.   Everyone just sort of sheepishly eyed one another across the table, desperately searching for some sign, and then quickly glanced away, no one being willing to openly admit they all had no clue why any of them were there.  Drustan sighed.  It was going to be one of those types of meetings.  Vittorio had a habit of toying with his pawns, making them all sit around twiddling their thumbs and then showing up after an indeterminable period of awkwardness, or even at times, not at all, with just a message delivered to the room instead by some hapless flunky.  Drustan rubbed his temples.  He really did not need this right now.

During Thomas’ absence, Drustan had been running both his own apothecary, as well as the Pawn Shop, ever since Thomas left to accompany Vito on his excursion to survey his enterprise in Ndakinna.  He’d been trying to maintain them both, while still performing his duties as an emissary for Gallia.  The assistants he’d hired from the private sector — those who were not spies — were hopelessly inefficient.  As for managing the spies, he was starting to feel like a damn bureau chief.  He had two undercovers from Ndakinna who’d been reporting to Thomas now reporting to him, and now Gallia had assigned three operatives under him as well.  The Aztec empire had placed a mole in the pawnshop, and he also had two agents from Atlantis to deal with.  He hoped Vito would show up soon.  There was way too much work to be done to sit around here wasting time.

       “In light of the situation, I’m guessing the new signs on all the entries are apropos,” Drustan said aloud to no one in particular, leaning to the left with his hand on his chin.

               “Signs?” Galen looked confused.  “What signs?”

Hisakawa floated out of the room and returned after a few minutes.

               “Very interesting... there are signs at all the entryways,” he announced as he floated back into the meeting room.

                     “What kind of signs?” Ondrej asked, fidgeting.  He didn’t dare leave his spot.  After all, Vito could show up at any moment.

                     “What do they say?” Donatella queried.  She hadn’t noticed any sign when she came in, but she hadn’t been looking for one either.

               “Go see for yourself,” Hisakawa laughed, his coffer bouncing with the motion.

No one moved.  Every one of them turned to Drustan.  They all knew no answers would be forthcoming from the crystal skull.  Drustan’s exasperated exhale was audibly pronounced to everyone in the room.

       “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here,” Drustan disclosed dryly in his cultured English voice.

Galen shook his head and dramatically planted a disheartened face palm.

               “Obviously a childish joke,” he groaned.  “Hisakawa, are you responsible for this?  Vittorio would never stoop so low.”

               “Oh please!  A joke of this type is beneath me,” Hisakawa balked, as he raised himself hotly near to the ceiling, then cackled all the way back down, coming to rest on the table next to Galen.

       “Well it wasn’t me,” Drustan offered, sitting up straight in his chair.

                     “Obviously it wasn’t you,” Ondrej guffawed.  “Your sense of humor died in the last world war!”

                     “And it’s clearly too highbrow for Ondrej to have done it,” Anezka retorted, jabbing her mate in the ribs.

                     “Seth, this seems like just the sort of thing you would do,” Donatella glared at Seth.

                     “Oh please darlin’,” he smirked back in a hefty layer of his occasional Celtic brogue.  “I’ve been busy runnin’ interference wit’ Alden an’ simply haven’t the time.”

Jamar spoke up timidly.

                     “Um, I don’t mean to be dense here...” he started, haltingly.  “...but, what... does it even mean?”

                     “Ugh!” Donatella shook her head in disgust at Jamar. “I cannot believe Father put you in charge of street operations!”

       “My dear boy,” Drustan answered, looking himself somewhat skeptically at the young man Vito had chosen to be his street boss.  “...it is the very self-same inscription found on the signs above the Gates of Hell in Dante’s Inferno, the introductory segment of his classic epic, the Divine Comedy.”


Jamar made an attempt to look as if he felt informed by this response.  He did not.

And with that, the rapid fires of heat exchanged on the new signage warning of impending doom had seemed to drain the energy from the room.  No one said anything for several minutes, as the meeting participants sat around, preoccupied with not looking one another in the eye.  Eventually, someone got up to get a drink from the bar, and someone else followed suit, and soon a low murmur of tentative small talk resumed, which Drustan found to be torturous and wearisome.

They all lingered there like that for nearly an hour.  Then suddenly, without warning, half the guests were nearly jolted from their seats, when there came abruptly a loud thunder clap, as a black cloud with lightning bolts emanating from it appeared in the meeting room threshold.  Thomas stepped out of the cloud, carrying several folders.

                            “Vittorio wanted to make sure no one sat at the head of the table in his absence, so he had this round one made and delivered,” Thomas explained as he handed out the folders.

                            “The signs were my idea, Ha!,” he crowed with a lighthearted wink, clearly more amused with his prank than his compatriots were.  “Hope you guys haven’t been waiting too long.”

And, as quickly as he had arrived, he sauntered back to the entrance and teleported away in another electrified puff of blackened smoke.

On the front of the folders was a post-it note that simply read:

                             Orders from Vito
                                       You  are  now Free  to  go.

Drustan rose from his seat with a flourish, as a gnarled ashwood staff appeared in his hand.

       “Enough of this nonsense!” he bellowed, casting an eye around the room, a menacing shadow overtaking his countenance.

       “I’m sure we all have better things to do...”

Unsure of his next move, one or two of them winced when he raised the staff above his head.

       “Lanuae Magicae!” he thundered, and in an instant, he was back in his apothecary, while everyone else had been whisked back to their respective places of business, or wherever else they’d come from.

He drew in a deep breath, leaned his staff against the wall in the corner of his office, and silently swore to himself, when next he saw Thomas, they were going to have a very long, very serious tête-á-tête.

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( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 29th, 2017 04:02 pm (UTC)
Haha! Why is this so FUNNY? Your dialogue is simply a thing of complicated beauty. And count me as the crystal skull's No. 1 fangirl.

I loved this.
Mar. 29th, 2017 07:09 pm (UTC)
With the topic I decided to go light hearted. I am glad you are a fan of Hisakawa. He is an interesting character.
Mar. 30th, 2017 04:57 am (UTC)
Great job!
Mar. 30th, 2017 07:13 pm (UTC)
Thank you
Mar. 30th, 2017 07:44 am (UTC)
Haha. This turned out to be "Much Ado about Nothing" and it still kept me engaged through the dialogues. Nice take!
Mar. 30th, 2017 07:14 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much, I am glad you enjoyed it.
Mar. 30th, 2017 04:56 pm (UTC)
I'm glad to see that Bad Management Techniques exist in this world, and even people who can arrive/leave in a flash have bad, pointless meetings. This was Meeting Hell, and a great response to the topic!
Mar. 30th, 2017 07:21 pm (UTC)
Thank you, I think my real life boiled over on this one as I was stuck in a meeting when I started writing this.
Apr. 1st, 2017 08:44 pm (UTC)
Clever and well written, good job!
Apr. 3rd, 2017 08:32 pm (UTC)
Thank you
Apr. 2nd, 2017 04:11 am (UTC)
Poor long-suffering Drustan. Nicely done. Hugs and peace~~~
Apr. 3rd, 2017 08:34 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Everyday is not like that for Drustan, lucky him.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )