PYRAMID POWER — snippet 16


PYRAMID POWER – snippet 16:



            Liz had to admit that the goats made good going across the snow, despite her impatience. At least they did not encounter any more giants. Instead they came to a vast causeway of light that led to the gates of Asgard, and the end of the snow. The goats just kept right on going, cloven hooves clattering across the solid rainbow, to the giant-built walls of Asgard.


            “Did you sell the wheels?” demanded the tall, slightly sneering man at the gate-arch. He cradled an enormous horn with a sliver mouth-piece and silver chasing around the rim in his arms. “And why are you bringing a bunch of your Midgarders to the home of the gods?”


            Thor shook his fist at him. “Shut up, Heimdall. I’ll take who ever I want to Bilskríner.” They bumped past, under the disapproving gaze of the watchman of the gods.


            “He needs a T-shirt that says ‘honk if you’re horny’,” said Marie disapprovingly. “He looks a bit like fat-ass, my old boss.”


            “He doesn’t like me much, but he’s still too scared to make something of it,” said Thor. “So he contents himself with sneering at me and kissing up to Odin. Smarmy bastard.”


            The sled continued to bump and slither its way down an earth track. Liz’s American companions seemed a bit startled by that, but she wasn’t. All over Africa people still used sleds towed by oxen, in a total absence of snow. And those two goats were nearly as big as oxen, and amazingly strong.


            They came over a slight rise and saw a huge thatched hall. “Bilskríner,” said Thor proudly. “It has five hundred and forty rooms.”


            “Any of them bathrooms?” asked Liz, noting that the thatch was in less good repair than it might be.


            “Water washes away your strength,” said Thor, earning himself instant popularity with Ty and Tolly. “But we have a steam room.”


            “That’ll have to do, although it wasn’t quite what I had in mind.” Liz was almost at the point of twisting her legs around each other, and wishing fervently that the sleigh didn’t bounce quite so much. There was no smoke rising from Bilskríner. Liz was willing to bet that most of those five hundred and forty rooms, including the sauna, were unoccupied.


            She was quite right about that. There was a stable-thrall, who by the looks of him had been asleep in the hay-loft a few moments back. But then all he had to care for was two goats. The huge place was conspicuously empty.


            “Where is everyone?” asked Ty eventually, as Thor led them in from the stables.


            “Probably over in Valhöll,” said Thor, gloomily. “But Sif, Roskva and Thjalfi should be here. As often as not, they’re not, though. Thrúd always pops in. Modi and Magni spend all their time over at Valhöll. So: as I said, welcome to my humble home. What can I offer you?”


            By the looks of it, thought Liz, nobody had better ask for much. But what she said was: “What I really want is information. I want to know if they brought…” she thought how best to put it, and settled for “my man, here. You said those warrior types…”


            “Einherjar,” said Thor, his expression bleak. “Odin’s chosen warriors. Once many of them cleaved to me. But he and his Valkyries have lured them hence to Valhöll with boar meat, mead from the goat Heidrún, fighting and their ever-renewed virginity.”


            The ever-renewed virginity sounded a pain, but Liz could see the attraction of the rest compared to this cold hall. Obviously Thor’s thoughts ran down the same direction. “I suppose I did let things slip a bit,” he admitted, kicking aside a pile of debris. “The drinking got out of hand. Well, lets start by asking Thjalfi.” He bellowed into the dusty emptiness of the hall. “Thjalfi!!”


            There was no reply. No sound of running feet. Thor scratched his beard. “Hmm. Sif!” He tried Roskva next. Still no reply. He shrugged and bellowed back toward the stable. “Lodin!”


            The man who had taken the goats came dog-trotting in and bowed. “Yes, Master?”


            “Where is everybody? Where is that man of mine? I’ve got some awkward questions to ask him.” Thor slammed a huge meaty fist into his palm.


            Lodin looked a little surprised. “He came in last night with the two prisoners.”


            Liz pounced on him like a cat. “Prisoners. Where are they?”


            Lodin shook his head. “Two of the Einherjar came and fetched the one.”


             “And the other?” demanded Liz.


            “He’s still back in the stable, I suppose,” said Lodin, jerking a thumb in that direction. “I thought the master must have taken them prisoner. I don’t mess with his deeds.”


            “Show me,” said Liz, taking a firm grip on his collar. “Now.”


            So Lodin led them back into the stable—to a pile of straw. “He was here, somewhere. Maybe the goats et him.”


            That was said with perfect seriousness. Considering the two goats, it might very well not be a joke at all.


            Looking around, one of the children found a brass grieve, with the leather strap gnawed.


            “Them goats have a taste for leather,” said Lodin. “The one the Einherjar left here was wearing those. I guess he must have got loose. Nasty looking coves, both of them.” He scratched his head. “Wonder where he could have got to?”


            Liz suddenly had a very good idea where the “Greek Hoplite” agent had got to. Probably a mortuary-shelf back in the USA. But that meant that these Einherjar must have taken Jerry. And at least at that time… he must have still been alive or he too would have disappeared.

About Eric Flint

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