PYRAMID POWER – snippet 29:



            “Then we’d all better get out of here,” said another voice, nearly startling Liz out of ten years growth.


            “Uncle Fox!” said Thrúd incredulously.


            A flame flared in the darkness. Liz found herself looking at an impish grin that dominated an otherwise handsome but scarred face. “Liz, I presume?” he said coolly. “And my little Thrúd.” There was considerably more warmth in that.


            Thrúd hugged him.


            “Easy on my ribs, girl. You don’t know your own strength.”


            “Where is Sigyn?” demanded Thrúd. “If you’ve left her behind…”


            “Behind these boxes,” said a female voice.


            Loki looked at Heimdall’s horn. “Payment for services rendered? We were watching your little carouse from the gallery.”


            Liz swallowed. “It wasn’t what it looked like,” she said. “And now if you’ll excuse me I must go and see if I can get Jerry free.”


            Loki shook his head, and put himself between her and the door. “Explain what it was then,” he said, standing there with his arms crossed. “Before you go out and call One-eye and his henchmen down on us.”


            Liz shrugged, feeling herself coloring. “I got dressed up in this Valkyrie outfit and came across from Thor’s home to look for Marie and Jerry. I didn’t… quite realize what I might be in for. Heimdall pulled me onto his lap when I tried to walk past. So… I played the part. And tried to get him fall-down drunk. We were having down-downs competitions out of this stupid horn. Only I kept pulling the plug out, while, uh, distracting him,” she coughed, “and letting the drink run out, before I pretended to drink it. See. The side of my dress is soaked.” 


            “And then,” said Sigyn, coming out from behind the boxes.


            “Then I saw Jerry, and that ass decided to rape me. Jerry came to rescue me, I got knocked under the table. And the lights went out.”


            “My work,” said Loki. “When Helblindi thinks about it, he’ll realize that. And then?”


            “Then the guy with one eye was there. I was under a table with the horn, and I saw them take Jerry away. More to stop gold-teeth from finding this horn of his than anything else—One-eye told him to—I hid it under a meat platter and tried to follow them. But I took the wrong door and collided with Thrúd. She brought me in here.”


            Loki looked at Sigyn. “Well, I don’t know. I suppose it is possible. Look, we’ll take you with us. And the horn. That’s a prize and a half.”


            “Leave me behind,” said Liz.


            Loki shook his head. “When Odin finds I am gone there will be a manhunt such as Asgard has never seen. Jerry, to whom we have sworn an oath, will be guarded by enough of the Einherjar to stop Thor, let alone you. But that horn might do for the ransom.”


            Thrúd looked a little doubtfully at it. “Maybe,” she said, “but Ragnarok comes. And the Ás will need the horn, Uncle Fox. “


            Loki’s eyes danced in the flame-light. “Ah. But I reached a compromise with Jerry, Thrúd. A compromise that will hopefully avoid the need for Ragnarok entirely. It does rather depend on getting this Jerry free to fulfill his side of the bargain. If I swap the horn for Jerry, I won’t mind, because gold-teeth won’t need to use it. It’ll do him no good.”


            Thrúd still looked doubtful. “I suppose we can take it along,” she said, reluctantly. “But I don’t trust you, Uncle Fox. I like you, yes, but I don’t trust you. Not that you always cause ill on purpose,” she condescended, “But it does follow you around.”


            “But you can trust me, Thrúd,” said Sigyn, practically. “And this Midgarder did convince me. I agreed. I will settle for vengeance on those who killed Narfi, and who bespelled Vali. If I can have that without Ragnarok, so be it.”


            Thrúd raised her eyebrows. “That makes this ‘Jerry’ the most valuable hostage in the nine worlds. “


            “That’s the way it should be,” said Liz.


            “The way it should be is that we get out of here,” said Loki. “With Gjallarhorn, or he’s doomed and not worth anything.”


            Thrúd nodded. “Through the kitchens. I wish we had horses, but we’ll just have to steal some from the Einherjar.”


            “Lodin gave me your little mare to ride over here,” said Liz, guiltily. “She’s lovely.”


            Thrúd blinked. “Old stumpy let you ride Snowy?”


            “Yes. I’m sorry. He did make special arrangements for her to be looked after.”


            Thrúd shook her head. “It’s all right. I’m just surprised.”


            “Well, can you be surprised later,” said Loki impatiently. “I hear shouting.”


            Liz did too.


            “Put the horn in that little kettle,” Thrúd said decisively.


            The “kettle” was what Liz would have called a pot. And yes, it was black, and so were the contents. Loki picked it up, frowned, and said : “You’d better take it. I might need to organize a distraction.”


            “No wholesale destruction,” said Thrúd.


            “I had thought of setting the kitchen ablaze.”


            Sigyn and Thrúd raised their eyes to heaven.


            “No,” said Liz firmly, pushing him ahead of her. “Jerry is somewhere in the building. And if part catches fire, it will all burn.”


            “The fires under the pork,” said Sigyn. “And make everything else go out.”


            Loki smiles nastily. “It’ll be a pleasure to ruin their dinners anyway. Let’s go.”


            Liz found herself hustled down the passage. There was definitely something going on in the main hall. It sounded like a enormous disturbed beehive.


            At the door to the acre of kitchen—a well-orchestrated bedlam of fires and enormous pots, spits and other mysterious implements of torture—Loki paused. Then, fixed his gaze on a huge black pot in the corner. It reminded Liz more than anything else of one of those cartoon pots that had four missionaries boiling in it.


            The pot erupted into a fountain of flames. Loki shrugged apologetically to the others. “Spontaneous pork combustion. Walk. Don’t run.”


            With the kitchen staff trying to put out the fire in the pot, and smoke as thick as tar pouring from it, and the torches and fires in the place somehow burning less well than they had been, they edged their way to a small door at the back, and out into a passage that led to the stables. They paused in the doorway.


            By the sounds of it, the stable-hands had already adjourned to the hayloft with some beer for the night. The Einherjar obviously did not go night-riding.


            Loki transformed into an owl, fluttered up to a trapdoor and obviously took a look around. He transformed again on the ladder as Liz tried to persuade her brain not to disbelieve her eyes. The mythworlds were hell on a hardened empirical scientist. Still, it was useful to have someone quietly close the trapdoor, and take the ladder down.


            They walked the horses out as quietly as possible, and two minutes later were on the grassy slope leading back to Bilskríner.