PYRAMID POWER — snippet 47

 

PYRAMID POWER – snippet 47:

 

 

            “So what are we going to do?” asked Lamont, after the Norns left.

 

            Liz shrugged. “A thousand of those types I met in that gin-palace-stag-party would be a bit much to handle, head on. So. Odin expects these chicks in hoods and drape-in-the-soup-sleeved outfits. We’re going to oblige him. He was expecting them to demand an eye, and was planning to give them one of Jerry’s. Let’s push the boat out. We’ll demand a sacrifice. These guys will drink mead made of someone’s blood from what you were telling me. It’s obviously lurking in their culture. So: we insist on Jerry being thrown into the well. It’s more like a cenote than a well—there is a nice big lip and the water is pretty dark. I’ll be waiting in the well, with one of those hollow reeds as a snorkel. We’ll claim Jerry, give Odin his water, and let him go.”

 

            “It could be a good plan, except for a couple of details,” said Lamont.

 

            “Oh? Like what?”

 

            “Like the outfits.”

 

            Liz started to swear, bit it off, suddenly realizing the age of her audience. “Sort out the reeds. We’ll need at least two. I’ll go after them.”

 

            She set off at a rapid pace after Loki and Sigyn and the three Norns. She found them a few hundred yards down the trail, with the Norns coming out from behind a large rock, dressed in more typical Norse-mythworld women’s clothing, each with their hooded garments in their hands. Now that you could see them, Urd was a tiny wrinkled crone, Verdani a woman with experience-lines around her fine eyes. And Skuld was jailbait. Pouting jailbait. They held out their hooded clothes.

 

            Liz was startled into pausing. “How did you know…?”

 

            “We know,” said Skuld loftily. Somehow she managed to look down her nose at Liz, which was quite a feat, because she was tiny.

 

            Liz took a deep breath. “All right. Different rules for different places. I don’t suppose you’d like tell me what is going to happen?”

 

            “No,” said Urd. She prodded Loki with her stick. “Let’s go, Son of Laufey.”

 

            Loki held up his hands and shrugged. “They never tell you anything unless it is to make your life a misery, anyway, Liz.”

 

            “Get on with you, Son of Laufey,” said Verdani. “The one-eyed wanderer comes into my provence.”

 

            “We’d better move then, Liz. Odin is nearly here. You’d better get back.”

 

            So Liz hastened back to the rest of the party, inspecting the hooded outfits as she jogged, and realizing that she had a problem.

 

            The Norns were small. There was no way that most adults would fit in those outfits. Thrúd, or her… or Lamont weren’t going to get into them with a shoehorn. Thor was not either, not even if they sewed all three outfits together. Besides the Norns had said something about Odin detecting another power—and Thor and Thrúd were powers, too. They’d better back off.

 

            She arrived back at the waiting group next to the well.

 

            “Where is Verdani’s provence?” she panted.

 

            “The present,” said Thrúd.

 

            “Ah,” said Liz, as the situation became clearer to her. “Look, Odin must nearly be here. And we have a problem. These outfits are way too small for any of the adults. Or even for Emmitt.”

 

            “I’ll do it,” said Ella. She pointed to Ty and Tolly, involved in one of their games that involved a lot of giggling and dodging. “You two! Dress! It’s time you did something useful.”

 

            “But…” said Lamont.

 

            “Somebody has to do it, Daddy,” said Ella. Now that she had communication real or imagined, with her twin, and some shred of hope for her mother, the girl was beginning to come out of the shell that she’d constructed for herself. She’d taken to following Thrúd around. It had had an effect, not, by the look on Lamont Jackson’s face, one he was altogether pleased with. Besides, Liz remembered, Marie had said that both girls flew at anything that vaguely smacked of acting.

 

            “We’ll be in the water, Lamont. Right next to them.”

 

            “Me too,” said Thor.

 

            Liz shook her head. “Kids, scramble into these.” She held out the clothes. “Thor, the Norns said that Odin would know if Loki was here. I think the same probably applies to you. And to Thrúd. So I’ll need you to back off, with Emmitt. Up there somewhere? If we have trouble… well, you could throw a thunderbolt or two. Give us a chance to try to get the kids out.”

 

            Thor folded his arms. “I do not flee from a fight.”

 

            “Thor, we don’t want this to be a fight! That’s the whole point. Please?”

 

            “It’s the right thing, Papa,” said Thrúd. “And I can hear the sound of hooves.”

 

            Reluctantly, Thor unbuckled his belt of strength and handed it to Lamont. “Take this. A mortal cannot long survive in a fight with the Ás, but it may give you the strength you need to flee Odin with the children.”

 

            Lamont put around his waist. “I’m honored, Thor.”

 

            “And I wish it was me,” said Emmitt, enviously.

 

            “One day,” said Thor, putting a hand on the boy’s shoulders.

 

            Liz handed Thrúd her bag. “In a pinch, hit someone with it. And we’ll need those reeds.”

 

            “Fortunately we all cut some,” said Thrúd, handing her a bunch of hollow reed stalks in exchange.

 

            “You’re stars.” Liz smiled, relaxing now that action was finally at hand. She knew you were supposed to get tense, but not doing something had been very hard. “We’d better get rid of some of these clothes,” she said to Lamont. “And I hope you can swim.”

 

            “I hope so too,” said Lamont with a smile, patting Thor’s belt. “Otherwise I’ll be a strong drowner.”

 

            Liz stepped out of her green skirt. “It’s close enough to the color of the water. I’ll take it with us. It’ll do to hide behind.”

 

            “Good thing that Thor has left,” said Lamont. “I hate to think what he’d say about a man hiding behind a woman’s skirts, especially when they were wearing his belt of strength.”

About Eric Flint

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