Episode Nineteen: Infernal: Scene 21

Trust Kanesha? Trust her to handle her own life and existence? I thought of the angel feather again and realized he was right.

I did need to trust her. And life was looking like it was about to return to normal. If it hadn’t been for Anansi and the dwarven artifact I would have relaxed completely. And even on that I had to trust Kanesha.

Thruor invited us to join her after school. We went to a club that let over 16s in. Thruor drank a random guy under the table while me and Kanesha danced, ignoring anyone who had a problem with it.

A few people there did indeed seem to have a problem with it. But we were used to that. I was tempted to hit one guy who used the d word rather too loudly, but restrained myself and just enjoyed the music, enjoyed forgetting for a while that I was anything other than up and coming model Jane Rudi. Enjoying a night out with her girlfriend.

Part of me, suddenly, wanted to make things more than that, but the moment passed. I wasn’t quite prepared to ask her.

I was worried it…no. I was worried about what it might mean, in the long term. She’s yours echoed in my mind.

She’d said she didn’t mind sharing.

I pulled her towards me, held her.

“Maybe I can watch later.”

She spun away from me, shifting her stance almost automatically. The man had come up very close on us.

He smelled of drink and tobacco, badly of both, and his teeth were yellowed.

“I know you said you wouldn’t mind sharing, love, but I don’t think this one’s our type.” I said it acidly – hoping it would clue him in that he couldn’t convert us to heterosexuality.

Kanesha just smiled. “I dunno. I think we could give him something to watch.”

It was tempting, but I glanced over at Thruor. She was on her fifth vodka on top of who knew what else, but still looked stone cold sober. She shook her head a little.

“Nah. Thea wants to be able to come back to this club,” I pointed out. “Heck, so do I. The DJ’s good.”

The guy tried to grab Kanesha. She reacted automatically, spinning into him to stomp on his foot and bring her elbow back into his private parts.

He dropped her, yelping.

“Tell her sorry. You started it.”

I was expecting an open brawl to break out. Instead?

Instead, we got applause.

Episode Nineteen: Infernal: Scene 20

Monica worked magic and I looked human…well, Asgardian…again by the time we got out there. The shoot went well.

Why did she look so good? I decided not to either worry too much or hope too much. Maybe Odin wasn’t going to let her die.

It would be like him to scare her. Or to test her.

Definitely a test. But he might let her die as a test if he…if he wanted her soul for something else. I shuddered. I hoped I’d never become quite that ruthless. Could I let Kanesha die?

Probably not. Maybe that meant I wasn’t ready to be a goddess or had forgotten how to be one. But even knowing that she would be okay, I still couldn’t let that happen. I couldn’t let her be hurt like that.

The fall from the dragon flickered into my memory. I could see myself becoming used to that kind of thing happening to me. To somebody I cared about?

No. Definitely not. I didn’t want Monica to die. I left the shoot with a lot to think about, walked alone along the sidewalk. Autumn chill was starting to set in for real.

Hunin landed on my shoulder. “Siglaugr.”

The name felt right, but I was not going to stop letting people call me Jane. Especially people who couldn’t pronounce it properly. “Hello…Hunin.”

“You’ve learned to tell us apart, I see.”

“Or remembered how.” More likely remembered.
“You pulled my tail feathers once.”

I laughed. “Was I a toddler?”

“Of course. Hatchlings do things like that.”
“So. I’m worried about Monica.”

“You don’t want to watch her die.”

“No, I don’t. Maybe I’ve gone soft, but I can’t quite get with the idea that death isn’t a big deal.”

“It’s a big deal. But sometimes it’s a necessary part of the journey.”

“She’s getting dreams.”

Hunin nodded his beak. “Yes.”

“I take it that’s supposed to happen, then.” I didn’t ask why her. I was afraid I wouldn’t like the answer. That the answer would have something to do with me attracting his attention to her. That if…

She was going to die, and she was going to… “Can we at least go something easy on her?”
“No. Trust me, if you don’t trust my master. We can’t go easy on her…”

“Or on Kanesha,” I whispered.

“On that part, trust her.”

Episode Nineteen: Infernal: Scene 19

Monica looked, oddly, great at the shoot. I, on the other hand.

“Tell me about it.”

I frowned. “Uh, let’s see. War in Hell.”

“So, that’s what the dream meant.”

I’d have to look up prophetic dreams. Or maybe. “Odin’s got his hand on you for sure.”

She nodded. “But I think it’s all his fault. You look awful. Let me lend you this heavy duty concealer for those bags.”

I shook my head, but accepted the makeup. “Anansi has some kind of dwarven artifact that drains power from gods. Loki wants it, of course.”

“Of course. Probably so he can knock Odin out and dye his beard rainbow colors.”

I laughed. “Oh dear. Don’t let him hear that. He’d have ideas.”

We kept our voices low, of course, but the laughter caused a couple of other heads to turn. One of them was an exceptionally thin blonde girl that I suspected starved herself to “keep her figure.”

She came over. “What, or rather who, is so funny?”

“A friend of ours with a penchant for pranks.”

“Oh. Are they nasty?”

I thought about it, then shook my head. “Not most of the time. But I wouldn’t catch his attention anyway. He’s the kind of guy to sneak hair dye into your shampoo.”

She was inordinately proud of her hair, which was almost white. I preferred my own golden hues. When I said that she clutched at it. “Oh no.”

Then she paused. “My college roommate pulled that one on me once. I had purple hair for two weeks.”

Oh dear. I hadn’t realized she was a past victim. “Well, when you start at a color that could go any direction…”

“Purple, though? If I was going to do that I’d go green.”

I liked her better. Green hair. Now that would be an idea. And I could probably do it without dye, too. “You’re more fun than I thought.”
She shrugged. “All work, no play, etc.” Then she paused. “Okay. What’s your secret?”

“What secret?”

“You almost always look perfect. Not today, though.”

“I didn’t sleep well.” I glanced at Monica’s industrial strength concealer. “Nothing to worry about.”

“But you never put on weight or anything…”

“You need to put on a little. I know you want to do runway.” Monica’s voice, cutting in. “But half starved is, thankfully, going out.”

“If I do that I’ll balloon, though.”

“The secret is…” I glanced at Monica. “Lots of exercise. Not trying to do it all with food. Take up running or something.”

She seemed to consider that. “If I…”

“Oh, don’t overdo it,” Monica suggested. “Just enough to burn off the fat. You don’t want to look like an Olympic marathoner either, but right now you look like a starved child with implants.”

Holly…I’d remembered her name…blushed and then fled.

“That was harsh.”

“Somebody had to say it, and you know the designers won’t. Now, let me help you with those bags…”

Episode Nineteen: Infernal: Scene 18

“I don’t like what your dad said,” Kanesha admitted, over the chocolate I’d decided we’d both more than earned.

“Neither do I. I thought I had him at least part of the way convinced to not blow the planet up, but I guess I was wrong.”

I picked up another piece of candy and unwrapped it without really looking at it.

“Maybe I should make nice with him.”

I shook my head. “If he does it, it’s because he’s convinced humanity’s better off ending it all now than continuing. Liking you won’t help.”

And I was pretty sure he did like her, actually.

On our terms, not theirs. That could mean a lot of things, though. Maybe it wasn’t as ominous as it sounded.

Maybe he was just still mad with himself for falling for a rather obvious trick.

Me? I was worried about that. “But, I think our more immediate concern is Anansi having that artifact.”

“The spider.” Kanesha frowned. “Maybe I should talk to him. I have the right skin color.”

I grinned at her. “But he might want things we’re not willing to give.”

She grinned back. “Still. He’s more likely to listen to me.”

What would the spider god do with an artifact designed to drain power from a god? I assumed that was what it was, anyway. Loki hadn’t been all that precise.

He might have planned on hiding it somewhere very safe. I wasn’t going to count on it, though. “And maybe he’ll tell a mortal something he wouldn’t tell a god, but it’s not you I’m going to ask.”


“We need somebody with no detectable ties to a god. That puts you out. And Monica.”

“Clara and Seb are both white.”

“Clara would be the better out of those two. I have a feeling he’d talk to a witch, and she’s had experience doing this sort of thing.”

“Or…I have an idea. Leave it with me?”

I trusted her, angel feather incident or no angel feather incident. And she was more likely to know somebody up for dealing with an African god than I was. “Alright.”

“He might just be keeping it safe, but more likely he’s planning a prank.”

I nodded. “And who knows who his target might be.”

“Exactly. I would hope somebody in his own pantheon, but…”

I hoped so too. If it was, we could stay out of it. It really wasn’t any of our business.

I thought, though, it might be more likely he and Coyote were about to get into it. In which case I was staying very far out of the way indeed.

Episode Nineteen: Infernal: Scene 17

In any case, we were home, but I had a feeling it wasn’t over.

Tyz’vel had had his butt kicked by half of Heaven and I knew I wasn’t going to see him again any time soon.
That didn’t mean it was over. “So…the feather?”

“I had to carry it. See…the brightest thing to a demon is a mortal soul. Immortals kind of have souls, but he said…he said that didn’t count.”

I nodded. “In other words, if either me or Hans had taken it, they’d have seen it right away.”

“Right. Well, Hans might have got away with it, because he used to be mortal.”

I nodded again. “I’m not mad with you. I know why you didn’t tell me. I just…” Was I a little jealous? No, not quite.

“You feel as if I shouldn’t need anyone else’s protection.”

“That’s exactly it!” I managed a weak grin. “That if somebody else is helping I’ve failed somehow and somewhere. And maybe I’m a little upset about having to be rescued by rivals.”

“Allies, at least for now.”

“It’s not over.” We were on the edge of the Mall. “I think they dealt with Tyz’vel, but we don’t know what else is going on in Hell.”

And, after all, I wasn’t going to need the Seal of Solomon to deal with him. I hoped.

“We don’t know…”

And Loki was leaning against a wall. “What happened to Lucifer? Don’t worry about it.”

“Are you alright?” I moved over towards him.
“Mostly.” He looked distinctly rumpled and I could tell he wasn’t doing anything to change his appearance.

Probably he thought that would worry me more. “Mostly? What happened?”

“I decided to see if I could convince him to leave you alone. He ambushed me.”

“War demons?”

“Oh no. Worse.”

I started to laugh. “Succubi.”

“And incubi. He had me very thoroughly distracted.”

I was still laughing. “Oh dear. So, basically, he let you play with his harem and locked the door while you were busy.”

No blush, but he did look…sheepish. “Pretty much. Then he somehow had a dwarven artifact that he was able to use…”

“What happened to it?”

“Anansi took it before I could stop him.”

Oh dear. It really wasn’t over. I was also pretty sure who had been pretending to be Lucifer. “And then he used your power to beat up Lucifer.”
“And put him in the dungeons. Coyote let him out, though. Things should be back to normal in Hell soon enough.”

“I was worried that…that you might be happy to have them win.”

He shook his head. “No. If the world ends it’s going to be on our terms, not theirs.”

That…wasn’t very comforting.

Episode Nineteen: Infernal: Scene 16

It didn’t just become one angel.

Well, first it became one angel, and then the sky split, revealing more and more.

The heavenly host was here. I looked at Kanesha again. She owed me an explanation, but boy was I glad to see them.

Rivals, yes, but I was still glad to see them.

Tyz’vel leapt into the air to face them. But they parted in front of him.

Then I saw him. Somebody who’s aura easily matched that of any god.

Michael. He descended on wings of golden fire. “This stops now.”

Kanesha murmured. “They needed a mortal.”

I murmured back. “They’re supposed to ask before borrowing you.” I couldn’t stay mad, though.

Tyz’vel was fleeing…rather than face the angel who had first defeated Lucifer.

He left black feathers behind him. Hans caught one, and offered it to me with an unpleasant look on his face.

I tucked it into a pocket. Maybe it would be useful. Gold fire flared in the air as Michael pursued his prey.

“He won’t catch him,” Hans murmured. “Not on his own turf, but he’ll keep him busy.”

The angel, the one I knew, the one that needed no name ,descended and offered me and Kanesha his hands. “Let me take you out of here.”

“I’d appreciate that, but…”

“Don’t worry about him.”

Hans grinned. “Yeah. I can get home fine.”

I decided to trust him and took the angel’s hand, and in a swirl of feathers…

…we were really home. Really and truly this time.

“I would have said something, but…but they said it was really important nobody knew.”

“…in case our minds got read.”
She nodded. “I didn’t even remember I had it myself.”

I closed my eyes, but she was the way she had always been, and she was still mine. They could not take her from me.

But they could borrow her…with her consent. “It’s fine.”

I turned to the angel. “I think it’s fine anyway.”

“We would never harm her. Her destiny is too important. But we also won’t let harm come to her.”

“That’s my job.”

He smiled, and then vanished in a flurry of feathers. He did not, of course, explain more of what he meant, but he left me with the cold feeling that maybe, just maybe, they thought I was the threat to her.


Episode Nineteen: Infernal: Scene 15

I was spoiling for a fight at this point, my sword slashing through one of them.

…to absolutely no effect. “Illusions!” I called.

“I noticed!” came Kanesha’s ascerbic tones.

Hans broke into a run, and I followed him, trying not to slash at what I knew wasn’t real. It was hard to do, though, but their own blows didn’t actually do anything.

All a distraction. Proof we were in fact heading the right way, I thought. But all illusions. “Anansi, this isn’t funny.”

No response, and I was probably blaming the wrong trickster anyway. Or maybe it was Lucifer after all.

We got past the illusory demons, and onto…the edge of a cliff above a pit of fire. “Apparently they gave up.”

Kanesha grabbed me to use as a brake. “Apparently.”

Hans had gone over the edge, but he’d managed to catch himself by twisting on the cliffside. He’d lost his axe, though.

I dropped to the ground to offer him a hand, which he took.

“Nice one,” he grumbled. “But at least they gave up on the fake stuff.”

“Next it’ll be a dragon, and I’m not slaying this one,” I quipped.

“Maybe you can…I mean, fool a dragon.”

Maybe I could, but I doubted it, now they were on alert.

“You should have stayed right where you were.”
Tyz’vel’s voice.
“Let my dad go.”

“Oh, the dog got him out. But it’s too late. I’m the one in charge now. Join me or…well…after I’ve dealt with Heaven I’ll move on to Asgard.”

“You might not find that that easy.”

I tapped the bracelet again. A third time. Lucky, perhaps.

“I already destroyed your angel friend. And now I’ll destroy your mortal one.”

“You have?” Kanesha had backed off.

Tyz’vel had appeared…in his full fallen angel form. Black feathered wings, from which blood dripped. “I have.”

“I don’t think so,” she said, abruptly. “I really don’t think so.”

I looked at her. Our eyes met, and then she reached into her pocket.

And pulled out a single feather. “Sorry. He asked me not to tell anyone.”

I stared, not sure whether to be angry or impressed, but unable to take my eyes off of her. “As long as he remembers who you belong to.” How had she? When had she? I felt just a little bit cheated on, but so proud to know this magnificent woman.

And she tossed the feather into the air.

Episode Nineteen: Infernal: Scene 14

I was heading right for the church. Of course, part of this was about testing just how far the illusion went.

So far, it was holding. Maybe it had been taken out of our memories.

“Are you sure we’re in Hell, not the spirit world?”

Hans set his lips. “We’re in Hell. Either Lucifer put us here to try and trick us or one of the tricksters did.”

I didn’t have the sense of my father’s presence any more. That, though, I was sure they couldn’t fake.

Unless, of course, he was in on it. Unless he was in on getting me out of the way while everything was resolved. “I think my dad’s out of whatever prison he was in.”

Hans nodded. “But that doesn’t mean he can help us.”

He might also have got out of there while he could, not realizing I was still in danger. I tapped the bracelet again, but if Zaid had us tracked he couldn’t get to us.

Or he thought we were still looking for Loki. I glanced up.

Kanesha gasped. “The sky.”

“I see it.” A flaw in the illusion. It looked almost like just a few pixels in the corner of the screen were damaged, but that part of the sky was red. “I was hoping if we disbelieved firmly enough then the illusion would go away.”

Kanesha nodded. “Maybe…maybe we are. But I just…I want out. Or something to fight. Or both.”

I knew how she felt. I slipped an arm around her for a moment, kissed her lightly on the ear. “Then let’s find something to fight.”

But that meant breaking the illusion. Maybe… I drew my sword and tapped the ground with it. Nothing happened. “Sadly…Hans?”

I glanced at him. He’d stopped and was looking at the gap in the sky. “Hold on,” he murmured.

I had to remind myself he might be a few hundred years old. Probably not a few thousand with such an ordinary name. But…

I held on. Waiting while he sniffed the air, almost like a dog himself.

“Okay. This way.”

He abruptly turned to the northwest. I glanced at Kanesha and then followed him. He was…he might know something, feel something, sense something.

Or someone.

We turned into an alleyway and were jumped by half a dozen war demons.

Episode Nineteen: Infernal: Scene 13

When my vision cleared I realized we were standing…right in the middle of the Mall. I quickly focused on nobody noticing us, because well…we rather stood out.

“I suppose that’s his sense of humor,” Kanesha said weakly. “Sorry. He scared me.”

“He can’t touch you.”

“Oh, I know that. That doesn’t mean…” She shook her head. “Let’s never do that again.”

Something still didn’t feel quite right. “Let’s not, but I’m not sure…I think something else is going on.”

“What? We’re…”

“There were three tricksters involved. Which is why I called Zaid and had him not come with us.”


“Anansi.” I glanced around again. “I don’t trust tricksters.”


“I think I trust him least of all of them.” I glanced around. “We aren’t back on Midgard.”

I knew it in every bit of my being. This was some kind of trick… “And I’m pretty sure that wasn’t Lucifer.”

Kanesha shuddered again. “If it wasn’t, then we aren’t rid of Tyz’vel.”

“No. No we aren’t.”

I didn’t even know what Coyote had asked Anansi to do. I did know what I’d asked Zaid to do.

I tapped the bracelet on my wrist.

“What’s that?”

“Magical tracker. Zaid’s particularly good at them. He knows where we are. Doesn’t mean he’ll be able to get to us, but he knows where we are.”

I looked around. It was a pretty good impression of the Mall, full of people moving around on business of their own. A very well designed illusion. And unlike in fiction, acknowledging that it was an illusion didn’t make it go away.

I glanced at Hans.

He shook his head. “You’re right. We aren’t on the Mall. We’re still in Hell, I’m pretty sure.”

I decided that as a spirit his judgment was probably better than mine. “So, we’ve been put out of the way. Any ideas on how to break out?”

“Working out where we are was a good start.” He frowned and swung his axe, then glanced at Kanesha. “You look tired.”

“I am tired. I still get tired, unlike some people,” she snapped slightly, then sighed.

“It’s…okay. If this is Hell, then…”
The church hadn’t felt right.

Had I ever actually come back from the spirit world? No. I had to have to have collected them, but I abruptly started to turn and walk north.

I didn’t look to see if they were following.

Episode Nineteen: Infernal: Scene 12

I did the first thing that came to mind in the situation. I kneed him in the groin. I wasn’t expecting it to actually work.

It did, at least well enough to get him to hiss and step back. “What does it take to get through…”

Behind him, I could see that Kanesha and Hans were back to back, surrounded by war demons.

Then a massive clap of thunder, rumbling with energy, flowed through the place.

Everyone stopped. Including me.

“Now that I have your attention ladies, gentlemen and others.”

I turned towards the owner of the voice. He, she or it was as gender uncertain as Zaid. Small. Slender.

He, I decided after a moment. He reminded me of the angel.

“Tyz’vel.” The unadorned name. “Release the goddess.”

“He already did,” I couldn’t help but say, but I stepped away from him nonetheless, towards Kanesha. The war demons got out of my way. “It’s my father he needs to let go.”

It did occur to me this could be Coyote. Would even he be this brazen?

“He’s already gone,” Tyz’vel grumbled. “I’m going to skin that dog and hang it on my wall.”

I laughed. Then I looked at the figure that might or might not be the First Fallen.

He walked towards me, though, and I found myself unable to move. He put his hand under my chin. “I can see what you see in her.”

I could see out of the corner of my eye that Kanesha was shaking. I wanted to go to her, but I couldn’t.

I did sense a touch of my father’s mind, though. He was definitely out. Coyote must have stolen the keys or something. I could feel him. He was actually…apologetic. No words, just the thought and emotion of an apology.

I’d take it. It wasn’t even really necessary.

Lucifer, if that was who it was, released me, then stepped over to Tyz’vel. Then he turned to me. “What should I do with this?”

I answered honestly. “I don’t care as long as he stops stalking me.”

The demon smiled. “Oh, I don’t think…I think a few hundred years in an oubliette will make him think twice next time.”

He snapped his fingers and Tyz’vel vanished.

Then he looked at the three of us. “You are, of course, nothing but trouble. I can definitely see what he saw in you, but I think I prefer my lovers a little more…biddable.”

“We’ll…uh…we’ll be leaving now?” I tried, bravely. I had a feeling…no. He couldn’t really touch us. But he could immobilize us. Which meant he could just leave us to the war demons.

“Yes. I think you will.”

He snapped his fingers again, and the world went dark around us.