Aziza had laughed at him the last time, when he’d brought home their warriors, living and dead, from the battle with Anubis’ army. “Perhaps you are cursed, Ya Habib Alby,” she had giggled that night while he struggled to pull his boots off. He had elected to only respond with a grunt. If he was cursed independently of his heritage, he wouldn’t be surprised.
For, of all things, he found himself once again in the middle of a…situation. And, of all people, with none other than the bumbling if actually intelligent Jonathan Carnahan. Usually it was O’Connell, or Evelyn. Jonathan caused trouble everywhere he went, and, begrudgingly, Ardeth always seemed to end up helping the Carnahan-O’Connell clan out of trouble.
“Now look here, you see, I haven’t got a problem with you! It’s your beefy friend over there who's been giving me looks and I can’t possibly abide that- I haven’t done anything wrong!” Jonathan spluttered, hands stuck furtively in his pockets as the enormous Belgian advanced on him.
Ardeth rolled his eyes, leaned over a bit and muttered in his companion's ear. “Perhaps if you were better able to keep your hands to yourself you would not be in such circumstances so often, friend.”
Jonathan spoke without removing his gaze from the hulking figure. “Well perhaps if you hadn’t shown up when you did, we wouldn’t be in this spot of bother.”
“Your use of ‘we’ implies that you expect me to assist you.”
“Oh, right, that’s rich,” he scoffed before turning his attention back to the Belgian. “Look, Janssen, I don’t know what you’re thinking, but I haven’t taken anything from you that I wasn’t owed.”
Janssen growled. Ardeth was starting to get nervous. Despite his off-hand comment about not helping Jonathan, he knew that he would if it became necessary. Even if he wasn’t bound in bond with O’Connell, and, as such, those who were members of O’Connell’s family, Ardeth wouldn’t leave Jonathan without some form of protection.
“You see, Janssen, you forget that your sister told me last night that she needed a guide! And I just so happen to be that guide. And she promised me that trinket of her own free will. So I don’t think you have very much room to argue there, my good fellow.”
“My sister?” A light was starting to gleam in the Belgian’s eyes.
“Yes! Louisa! Took it right off and gave it to me last night!”
“What were you doing with my sister?”
“Oh, you know, just, having a couple laughs, some champagne,” Jonathan blew out a low whistle and shook his head, lost in thought. “A lot of champagne actually. She’s a real looker, that sister...of...yours.” He gulped, suddenly remembering who it was he was talking to.
“I am not sure that was the wisest choice of words, my friend,” Ardeth was tensing now, watching a particularly purplish vein bulge in the Belgian’s forehead and his cheeks, already ruddy from drink, flush further. Instinctively he brought his hand to the hit of his sword.
“Now, look here, you-“
“Gentlemen, do we have a problem here?” A base officer walked up, his dress coat immaculate and his shoes polished. Jonathan practically preened.
“Ah, Officer, thank goodness. You see, the night before I was having dinner with this gentleman’s lovely sister and she gifted me this lovely token of her affection, you see, I’m also taking her to lunch tomorrow, and , I’ve been contracted to act as a guide for her, her brother here and his party,”. With a flourish, Jonathan procured the trinket from his inner coat pocket. It was a golden medallion, obviously worth some coin and likely a gift to the sister from Janssen. “If you like, we can speak with Louisa who can obviously attest to the facts. She’s got the contact all writ and signed. Notarized. The lot, you know.”
Ardeth was starting to grow skeptical, but the officer was obviously buying it. He looked Jonathan up and down. He was dressed in an evening coat with dark slacks, his own shoes shined, and his hair meticulously coiffed. A gentleman’s gentleman. The officer huffed and Jonathan smiled with his best aristocratic panache.
“No,no, sir, there’s no need for that.” The officer waved him off and faced Janssen. Jonathan’s demurring expression turned to one of self-satisfaction which earned him a dark look from the Belgian. “Sir, I suggest that you consider the matter concluded and if you have further issue, to take it up with your sister, as she was the one who did the giving.”
“Thank you!” Jonathan called, sweeping forward to throw an arm around the shoulder of the officer. “Let me buy you a drink as thanks for settling this nonsense and I’ll happily share with you all the news from our dear girl, Britannia .”
The Belgian turned away grumbling, his eyes following the pair as they headed to the bar, Jonathan saying something loud and impressive about “his estate in the country”, leaving Ardeth behind to shake his head in fond exacerbation and observe. It was clear to him that, while Jonathan’s bluff had been impressively effective, if they didn’t leave soon following his ‘chat’ with the officer, there was sure to be trouble.
An hour and several shots later (none of which Jonathan paid for, the officer insisting it was ‘no hardship’ for a fellow Englishman), Jonathan, still surprisingly sober was smiling broadly as he returned to the table where he and Ardeth had originally been seated.
“There my good man, and free drinks of it too! Not a bad way to spend a weekend in the desert!” He took out the medallion on it’s chain and swung it around in the air.
“You are being too cavalier in your manner, Carnahan. Our Belgian friends will not soon forget the slight you have done them. Especially when he speaks with his sister.” Ardeth warned.
“Ah, you’re being too dour! You’re always so somber! Look around you!” Jonathan, waved his arms about. “No Mummies, no police, and no Belgians!”
It was precisely at that moment that Ardeth stood, unsheathed his sword and sidestepped a barstool which had been flung at them from across the room.
Dumbly, Jonathan looked at the shattered table.
“Yes,” Ardeth concurred and swung his blade at another flying stool just as Jonathan miraculously dodged the hit.
“Let’s get out of here!” He shouted, ducking and dodging while Ardeth’s imposing blade caught the brunt of the action. Janssen came barreling at Jonathan, wielding a bottle of vodka he’d grabbed from the bar. Ardeth twirled his blade masterfully and it came arcing down over the bottle, shattering the glass instantly.
That didn’t stop Janssen who was still going at full force towards Jonathan. He took a glancing blow to the cheek, and the air exited Jonathan’s lungs in short order. Reflexively, he whirled the medallion on it’s chain, wrapping it around Janssen’s wrist and pulled, the force of it sending the hulking figure into the wreckage of the table, taking the trinket with him.
The Belgian moaned and Jonathan reached down to pluck the amulet back. “Thanks for that! Well, I’ll be off then!”
Ardeth sheathed his sword and watched bemused as Jonathan slipped out of the bar. With one last look surveying the scene, Ardeth sighed and then followed his companion. “Aziza will never believe me,” he mused to himself.
“What was that old chap?”
“Nothing of import. You have your trinket. Can we now go, before the Belgian’s friends come to find us and I must be forced once again to participate in unseemly and unnecessary displays?”
“Oh, you’re just sad that I got all the action,” Jonathan was using a corner of his vest to polish the trinket, holding it up under the light before pocketing it once more. “Now, I’ve to make that connection back to Cairo. I’m off for the bus!”
Ardeth chose not to reply, shuddering at the memory of his last bus ride. Inshallah , Allah Willing, this would be the end of his troubles for some time.