PYRAMID POWER – snippet 46:
It was a good thing that Jerry had made day-counting marks on the bark, because by now he really couldn’t have told anyone, let alone himself, what day of the week it was. But on the appointed day, good and early, with the now severed noose around his neck like a neck-tie, Jerry swayed his way down the branch to the guard-house on the cliff edge. The last scraps of Idun’s apple had either lost their charm or had run out of material to work on. The world was a vague place from which Jerry was going to tolerate no back-chat. The guards saluted respectfully. They even helped him up onto a horse.
If only he’d learned to ride one of the damned things. It was a long way down the mountain and to the gates of Asgard. He better stay on the horse until he was out of sight of the guards.
It was very awkward that two of them had respectfully accompanied him.
The next thing Jerry knew was that he was looking up at Odin’s face. The one-eyed god looked down sardonically. “You have enhanced my reputation for magic, sorcerer. And I daresay I will live down your equestrian skills. You really are a bit too powerful, just as the Krim-device implied. Maybe I need to give Mirmir two eyes and not just one, for his wisdom.”
He motioned to a thrall-woman. “Feed him. Then get Thjalfi to load him into the cart. We’ve a long journey ahead of us.”
Jerry was tied up again. But the thrall-woman was very good and patient at spoon-feeding him. And the gruel probably was the right thing for him to eat after his diet of very few nuts, raw egg and a solitary half-apple.
Coming down the slope into the shadow of the great root you could see Mirmir’s well clearly. It wasn’t, as Liz had expected, a well in the conventional sense at all, complete with a little stone wall and a bucket. It was a natural “eye,” a spring etched into the limestone. The green-looking water seethed and stirred and a thin haze of steam rose off the surface. Reeds grew on one edge, and a small lip overhung the other. Three little black figures stood at the edge of the lip.
“What in Hel’s name are you Norns doing here?” demanded Loki of the three hooded women.
“We go where the fates dictate,” croaked the bent one.
“We go where we must for the deeds of now,” said the middle one, in the voice of a mature woman.
“Will dictate the future,” finished the third, in a teen voice.
“Oh, Niflheim,” said Loki. “You have your own well! This isn’t Urd’s well at the root of the world-tree in Asgard, where you three dictate the fates of mankind and the gods. Go home.”
“We can’t,” said the three in chorus. “Nidhögg has driven us out.”
“I’ll have words with him,” said Loki, crossly. “Now, where is Mirmir?”
“He didn’t like what the future held for him,” said the youngest Norn.
“So he left,” said the oldest.
“And we have been waiting for you, here,” added the middle Norn. “You’re late.”
“As usual,” said the youngest.
Loki ground his teeth. “I don’t suppose you can be persuaded to leave, and send Mirmir back?”
“It would be of no use,” said the oldest Norn. “Munin carried word to Odin. He knows we guard Mirmir’s well now.”
“But we will leave,” said the middle Norn. “We will even leave you with the horn to draw water from the holy well.”
“Is that a prophecy or an offer to negotiate?” asked Loki.
“Both,” announced the eldest Norn. “We have foreseen it.”
“Have you foreseen that if you’re not out of here by the time I count to ten,” Liz said, through gritted teeth, “that I am going to use this blunt instrument.” She swung her shoulder-bag.
Loki gaped at her. “They’re the Norns, Liz. The fates. Urd, Verdani, and Skuld. You can’t threaten them.”
Liz took a firm grip on the strap of her bag. “Watch me. I’m no believer in predestination, but if they are, they know what’s coming. One.”
“Which is why we have agreed to go,” said the youngest Norn. “Provided Loki takes us back.”
“Because our powers tell us that Nidhögg will listen to him, and him alone,” said the middle one.
Loki sighed. “Do you think you can manage without me? It won’t be quite so easy. Mirmir could have persuaded Odin to part with Jerry. Now it’ll have to be force.”
“Odin comes with a thousand Einherjar as an escort,” said the youngest fate, linking arms with Loki. “Besides, Odin would know another power was close.” She pointed a long forefinger at Liz. “We could have told you how they would have done it, but now these strangers must contrive on their own.”
Liz took a long, hard look at the youngest fate. “Sigyn, I think you’d better go along too. We’ll manage. And I can tell that one’s future without being a prophetess. She’s trouble.”