PYRAMID POWER – snippet 35:
Sigyn held out her hands. “I am not being drawn into this, Thor. But you know Loki. He is not an oathbreaker. A trickster, yes. But he does not lie to you. He had reasons.”
Thor sighed. “What you said about me was true, Loki. Hurtful but true. But I can’t let you loose to bring Ragnarok.”
“What I said about everyone was true. I left some of the best bits out though,” said Loki with a wicked grin. “I’m saving those. But I’ve had a little talk with a sorcerer. A little Midgard fellow who called himself Jerry.”
Thor shook his head. “I knew a Jelling once. At a place in Jutland.”
“Not quite the same, red-beard. This Jerry talked me into forgoing Ragnarok and settling for revenge.”
Thor shook his head. “Can’t be done. You know Odin as well as I do. He’d rather bring Ragnarok than lose. Loki, I must hold you. This time I’ll see to it that it’s at least comfortable. Otherwise… give it up. Give me your word and go into exile in Midgard. It’s not so bad. I spent a few years cadging drinks there. I’ll be going too. This mortal’s wife”—he pointed at Lamont—” was captured and taken from my house. I owe him a double debt: for the evil done to his wife and for help that she has given me. I honor my debts.”
Loki shook his head ruefully. “You never change, old friend. You remain honorable… and a bit dim. Has it occurred to you that you’re standing with my son and my daughter, and without Mjöllnir, or the Menginjörd, or the gauntlets of iron, or Grid’s rod?”
“He has me,” said Thrúd.
“And me,” said the boy black-elf.
Liz walked into the fray. “Excuse me,” she said, crossly. “Stop this, right now.”
She turned on Loki. “You owe Jerry. He got you out of your prison. You owe it to him to get him out. You won’t do that by starting a fight with my friends. Now just put a plug in it. You’ve been looking for a fight ever since you got here. And Thor, I know Jerry Lukacs. Trust me, just because you can’t think of how to do something, doesn’t mean he can’t. Jerry has out-thought two sets of gods already. So you just concentrate on hard stuff like staying sober, and then if Jerry can’t produce, then you worry about it. Got me?”
Whatever else Papa-Thor had got, he hadn’t quite gotten used to women like this. He gaped.
But Loki started to laugh. “You know, Öku-Thor, she’s right. I was looking for a fight, I suppose. And yes, this Jerry was clever enough to get me free. That means that he is technically cleverer than me, because I couldn’t.”
“And Papa-Thor,” said Thrúd, taking the bit between her teeth, “Uncle Fox was telling the truth about mama.”
“I know, little one,” said Thor gently. “I’m not all that clever, but I knew something was going on. He didn’t have to shame her in public though. Things… things haven’t been too good between your mama and me for some time now. But she’s still my wife.”
Thrúd took a deep breath. “And… maybe… I think I understand about Baldr. It… well, it was my fault, papa.”
“Oh, I had my own axe to grind too, Thrúd,” said Loki. “And don’t pester Thrúd about it, Thor. We all do things we regret later. I’m an expert at it.”
Thrúd found herself getting a squeeze from her father. “If I understand this right, and I’m not quick about these things, it’s a good thing Loki got to him first. And you can tell me about it if you want to, when you want to. It’s over now.”
“Even Mjöllnir wouldn’t have hurt Baldr, Thor,” said Loki.
“Umph,” grunted Thor irritably, knitting his brow. “True. You could have told me, though.”
“I don’t want to rub you up the wrong way, old friend, but I do things my way, and you do them in yours—which is charging in like a bull at a gate. That wouldn’t have worked.”
“This is very interesting,” said Liz, “and you can all talk about your misunderstandings, and kiss and make up… later. Jerry is still a captive over there. We’ve got that horn. We need to arrange a trade. And we need to rescue Marie.”
“That gold-toothed creep’s tootle-pipe,” said Liz.
Loki nodded cheerfully. “Heimdall must be swearing most beautifully by now. Take my advice, Thor. If that wench kisses you, don’t hold her, hold onto your pouch with one hand and your hammer with the other or she’ll steal both.”
Thor rubbed his head. “This is all too fast for me. Let’s take it slowly. The All-father has this Jerry prisoner. You have Heimdall’s horn. You want to exchange the two.”
“Yep,” said Liz. “For starters anyway.”
“Well, I’m not that clever,” said Thor, “but I think most of the Asinjur will just come here and take it from you, and imprison you or kill you.”
“Even here? Take someone from Bilskríner?” Thrúd said, incredulously.
Thor nodded gloomily. “Loki’s right about the state of things. My halls are empty of warriors. I don’t know what’s happened to the belt of strength. I can’t find my iron gauntlets. I’m afraid I, uh sold Mjöllnir for drink. And Odin can call to muster all the Ás, all the Vanir. I don’t have a lot of friends left. I know. It’s my own fault.”
“Well, it’s gonna change,” said Emmitt belligerently.
Loki nodded. “Well said, boy. But for now, we need to flee this place. There are places in Midgard and yes, in Jotunheim, where we can find shelter. Where even the Ás will not follow. And there is always Helheim.”
“There is just one awkward detail. We have to get there,” said Jörmungand. “And getting out of the gates of Asgard could be tricky. I can go by water, but you can’t.”
Thor shrugged. “We hitch my goats to the chariot, and charge.”
“And end up full of Ull’s arrows,” said Loki, “spitted on one-eye’s spear, and getting chopped into dog-gobbets by Heimdall and the rest of the Einherjar. Remember we have mortals here. And they can be killed very easily.”
Thor sighed. “All right, Loki. You always come up with some sort of plan. I am just not dressing up in women’s clothes and pretending to be Freyja again.”
Loki chuckled. “But you looked so good in a dress. You’ve got such pretty ankles.”
Thor took a swing at him.
“He’s just teasing you papa.”
“I know. But it’s like that damned punning. The only way to get him to stop is to hit him.”
“Punnish him,” said Lamont.
Loki smiled. “And you must be Lamont. Jerry said you were a man after my own heart, but hopefully not on a platter. He also said that you were a practical man. How would you get us out?”
Lamont shrugged. “Camouflage. The ladies dresses might even work, but I also swore that they’d never get me to do it again. A distraction would help. A few smoke grenades. I gather archery is problem. Something to keep the heads down for a bit. Are these gates closed?”
Thor nodded. “Between dawn and dusk, yes.”
“And when do you think they’ll get here?” asked Liz.
“Possibly before dawn. Not much, though. They will assume that Loki has taken one of his forms and flown. After first light someone may track the missing horses.”
“But it is pretty dark out there. We can go out and get ready to rock and roll on those gates at dawn,” said Lamont. “Now, we’re going need to get some things ready. Have you got a smithy and some tools?”
“And how do we stop them chasing straight after us?” asked Liz.
Loki shrugged. “Let them try.”
“I plan to discourage it,” said Lamont.
Thrúd had more faith in the black-elf. Loki tended to leave the ends of his plans to chance.