PYRAMID POWER – snippet 48:



            Jerry approached the end of the journey with a mixture of terror and relief. On the relief side, the journey in the cart had ended. On the terror side, the food had given some clarity to his mind, even if he was woozy at times.


            If memory served him correctly, they were heading toward Mirmir’s well, where Mirmir had made Odin pluck out one of his own eyes to gain a draft of the well of wisdom. Jerry was no fool. He could only see one reason for Odin taking him along, and it wasn’t for his company.


            The walk down the steep slope was playing havoc with his eyes. He would have thought that they’d put up a better effort while he still had two! He wasn’t even seeing double. He was seeing treble. Three little black-clad hooded figures, standing next to the water. And he’d have sworn that the smaller two were playing scissors-stone-paper.


            “Why have you brought warriors to Mirmir’s well?” said a high girlish voice. “You know that it is not allowed.”


            Odin turned to the Einherjar accompanying them. “Go back to the chariot. I thought Loki might be here but he isn’t.” He jerked Jerry’s collar. “I can deal with this one on my own.”


            As they advanced, Jerry saw that the hoods masked the Norn’s faces in deep shadow, except for the tip of one nose. “Stop that,” said the tallest Norn to the other two.


            “I would have thought Urd had put away such child-like pastimes,” said Odin, sounding suspicious.


            “It’s my second childhood,” said the smallest Norn in a quavering treble. “I had a terrible first childhood, and I’m going to enjoy this one. And it keeps Skuld happy.”


            “That is wisdom,” said Odin. “Great Norns, I would give my right eye for a horn of water from Mirmir’s well.”


            “The price has gone up,” said the tallest Norn. “The price is now a human sacrifice.”


            “Push him over the edge into the water,” said the second childhood Norn.


            “Throw him into the well,” said the third.


            “To drown and enrich the pool with his blood,” clarified the tallest.


            “Do you want me to cut his throat first?” Odin pushed Jerry to the lip of the pool.


            “No!” said the Norns in hasty chorus.


            “He’s got to struggle.”


            “Otherwise it doesn’t work.”


            “Push him in!”


            So Odin did.


            It couldn’t have been more than ten feet down to the water, but it felt like fifty.




            Jerry’s screaming was the sweetest sound Liz had heard in long time. He hit the water with a terrific splash, and Liz went after him. The water they were hiding in was deliciously warm, and tinglingly effervescent. Unfortunately, the green color was due to the dense mats of water-weed.


            Liz battled through the muck, and reached the threshing figure. She tried to grab Jerry and pull him to the edge, under the lip, but got a kick that nearly drowned her instead. It knocked all the air out of her, and she had to thrash for the surface.


            Then a strong hand grabbed her.




            Jerry had two shocks when Odin casually pushed him over the edge into Mirmir’s well. The first was not that unpleasant. He was going to drown in warm water.


            The second—that someone was pulling him down—was terrifying. He swallowed a fair amount of water trying to scream, and kicked with all his might. He was rewarded with a meaty impact. Then something grabbed him and flung him in against the lip. Moments later he was joined by a gasping Liz, who was weakly trying to push something into his hand. It was a sort of pipe, and she put a similar thing in her mouth. Then the same strong hand pulled him under. He had the intelligence left to put the pipe in his mouth and try to breath through it.


            He felt a hand find his and squeeze gently. And a layer of something was pulled over him.




            “What happened there?” Odin demanded.


            Ella couldn’t think quite what to say. She’d seen Liz burst out of the water herself. And then a black form—probably, she hoped, her daddy. And a fair amount of splashing.


            A sudden horrible thought occurred to her. Maybe there really was some kind of monster down in this water. Maybe it had eaten all of them. She leaned over the edge, not caring about anything else except finding out if he was all right. She saw the bamboos in the misty water.


            “It’s the water demons,” said Ty. “It’s like… this drowned woman that lives in a cave near the bottom of the well, and she pulls them down and sucks their brains out through their noses.”


            “Oh,” said Odin. “But I thought I also saw some dark shape attack.”


            “That’s the water-wolf,” Ty explained. “It lives at the very bottom of the well in between all the dead men’s bones and treasure and it tries to get them first. It uses the blood to wash the bones and it likes to gnaw the flesh off their toes. And it eats their guts like spaghetti, and…”


            “Stop giving away our secrets,” said Tolly.


            “Yes. Go and fetch Odin a horn full of water,” said Ella, hastily. Once Ty got going he was nearly impossible to stop, especially with anything ghoulish.


            Odin drank the horn of water. “I thank you, wise Norns. Now I will escort you back to Urd’s well.”


            “No,” said Ella firmly, trying to remember exactly how the Norns had spoken. “Now go. Great danger threatens you if you stay.”


            “Tell me more,” said Odin.


            “Only if you give us your other eye,” said Tolly.


            Odin put his hand over it, protectively.


            “Samurai Jack is coming,” warned Ty sepulchrally. “And he is a giant giant and he’s dead already, so you can’t kill him and… and he’s got snakes for hair. And even if you cut his head off he just grows another two.”


            Odin backed off.


            “Samurai Jack?” said the man with him. Ella placed him. The one that had been there when Thor’s wife had come home. He was the creep who’d stolen Thor’s gloves and belt of strength and then made the whiskey-smelling stuff that had got Thor so drunk!


            “Thjalfi,” she hissed, “you are a lowlife asshole.” Ma wasn’t around to hear it.