Chapter Seventeen: Ashe
Who the Hell is Tibo Glent?
Ashe and Jaxx had landed at Zurich Airport and used some of their coin to pay for a taxi to take them into town.
Professor Dressler had given them the name of the institute where they could find Dr. Maeva Zoss—he hoped she might be able to shed some light on the flash drive his mother had left for him. She was at a place called The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and Magic, somewhere near the Old Town part of the city. It was a fairy tale town, full of cobblestone streets, clock towers, and brightly colored row houses.
He wished he were here under better circumstances.
As it was, he was tired. He’d slept on the dragon, but it was still something like one in the morning in DC. He’d never experienced drag lag like this before, and he decided it was something he was not overly fond of.
Which is why having found himself held hostage by a scrawny green goblin attacker, he was not in particularly good control of his emotions.
“What the fuck do you want with Dr. Zoss?” the imp had asked him.
Ashe felt the goosebumps starting on his arms, which wasn’t good for either of them. Toasting a goblin in a state university had to be at least a misdemeanor under Swiss law.
“Hey, what are you doing to Ashe?” Jaxx said, popping his head around the corner. Then he looked up at the goblin’s six foot-plus tall, banshee companion and his skin turned almost white.
“Ti, this isn’t the place for brawling.” The goblin’s companion indicated a couple of students who had just come around the corner and were staring at the four of them.
“We have to find out what the fuck they’re doing here,” the goblin hissed.
Ashe tried to calm himself down. “We’re here to see Dr. Zoss,” he managed through Tibo’s chokehold. “My mother sent me to find her.”
“Let him go, Glent. They’re not after hurting us,” the goblin’s companion said.
“Tibo? Tibo Fucking Glent?” Jaxx said, blushing three shades of red.
“In the fucking flesh.” Tibo finally let him go, slowly, and Ashe brushed his feathers back into place.
“Who’s Tibo Glent?” he asked.
Jaxx’s mouth dropped open. “You can’t be serious. Have you been living under a rock for the last ten years?”
Ashe stared at him.
“Point taken. Tibo’s only the most famous goblin rock star who ever lived. I saw you perform once at the Red Dragon and it about ripped my soul in half.”
“Glad you enjoyed it. Gods fucking damn. Fans,” muttered the goblin rock star.
Who knew there was even such a thing?
“I’m Rolly McFarland,” the taller man said, extending his hand. “I’m Tibo’s… the band’s bass player.”
“Ashe Heyoka. Your band mate there needs to learn some manners.”
“We can’t trust them,” Tibo insisted. “They might be assassins.”
“They don’t look all that dangerous. A bit on the clueless side, actually,” Rolly observed.
Ashe bristled. “I can be dangerous, if I want to be.”
“He’s a banshee. He could yell the fire right out of you, if he wanted,” Jaxx said.
Ashe looked at the tall man with renewed respect.
“So let’s try this again,” Rolly said gently. “Why are you here to see Dr. Zoss?”
Ashe wasn’t sure how much he trusted these two. “My mother left me some… information I was hoping she could help me decipher. And you?”
“We also have some information Dr. Zoss might be able to help us with. Her colleague, who we came all this way to find, expired suddenly last night.”
“Don’t tell them everything,” Tibo hissed.
Rolly shushed him. Ashe wondered what their real relationship was.
Jaxx stepped between them. “So why don’t we take all of our… informations… and go see what the Good Doctor has to say?”
There was dead silence for a minute as everyone looked at one another.
“Suits me,” Ashe said.
“Why the fuck not?” Tibo added.
Ashe wondered if his mother had ever cleaned his mouth out with soap.
They climbed the stairs and looked for room number HAD G 4. It took about fifteen minutes--they were apparently on the wrong floor, but the Swiss room numbers made no sense to any of them--but eventually they found an English speaking student who led them to Dr. Zoss’s office.
Fortunately the door was open.
The woman behind the desk was wearing a smart gray jacket over a white blouse, but the snakes on her head were twitching. A gorgon. Ashe cursed his luck. At least she had her glasses on.
She was concentrating on a set of papers on her desk, a red marking pen poised like a sword over the top one. “What can I do for jou?” she said without looking up.
They looked at each other.
Tibo stepped forward, but Rolly pulled him back. “We’ve come to speak with Dr. Voss…”
“Are you students?” Her tone was curt.
“Not exactly,” Ashe began.
“Office hours are for students only,” she said. “For ewerything else, jou can make an appointment with the front office. Good day.” Her red pen pointed the way out of the door.
“Dr. Voss, we’ve come a very long way…”
Her hair started to move.
Ashe tugged at Jaxx’s shirt sleeve. “We should go.”
Tibo scowled. Ashe hadn’t known him long, but he knew that angry goblin and pissed off gorgon was a bad combination. “Um, Mister Glent…”
Fortunately Rolly saw it too, and grabbed the goblin before he could physically charge Dr. Voss’s desk. “We’re very sorry. We’ll make an appointment.” He pushed Tibo out of the office.
“What the fuck, Rolls?”
“Ti, I know you’re a proper little scrapper, but no baiting the gorgon,” Rolly said once they were out of earshot.
Ashe nodded. “She was going all snakes on us. I mean, she probably would have kept her temper, but—”
“Hell of a way to get a hard-on,” Jaxx said.
Ashe couldn’t have agreed more.
* * * * *
They retreated to the house Tibo and Rolly were borrowing. Ashe looked around at the beautiful furnishings and all the space. So this was how the other half lived. It felt like a palace after the cramped, dirty living space he’d shared with his father.
It didn’t make him like the little goblin star any more. The goblin probably didn’t even realize how lucky he was to live like this.
He sat down on the plush velvet couch and stared out the window at the city arrayed before him.
Tibo plopped down in a chair across from him, glowering, while Rolly handed out Swiss beer, something called a Feldschlösschen. He took a sip. It was a little sweeter than he was used to, but it wasn’t bad.
“So if you’re not assassins, why are you really here?” Tibo asked. Rolly came up to stand behind him, hand on his shoulder.
Jaxx came to sit next to Ashe, putting a hand on his knee in support. “My father was killed. He died four days ago from a beating he took at our home in Arizona last week.”
Tibo shifted, apparently discomforted. “Damn, that’s rough. Sorry.”
“Thank you. He left me a key, and the key led me to a safe deposit box my mother had left for me a decade ago. And that led me here.” That was as much as he felt comfortable telling them at the moment. “So why are you here?”
“I don’t have to answer—”
“Fair is fair, Ti,” Rolly said, and Tibo subsided.
“I told you mine,” Ashe reminded the goblin.
“All right, already. I’ll tell you.” His eyes welled with unshed tears, the first real emotion other than anger that Ashe had seen out of him. “See, they killed a little girl…”