Episode Thirteen: Hunted: Scene 30

“What was all that in aid of?” I asked as I picked up the damaged club. Hrm. It looked repairable. “Thruor, want this for the collection?”

“Sure. Why not?” She came over. “Looks well made and a bit of reinforcement should fix the damage.”

I let her take it and then went over to Kanesha. She’d dropped to one knee and looked about to throw up. “They weren’t human.”

“I know…”

“They aren’t actually dead. Just banished, like demons.”

She nodded. “But they bled all over the place.”

I looked around. The blood was evaporating rapidly, turning silver before disappearing. “Look at the blood.”

She followed my gaze. “Oh.”

“They’re a kind of fairy, like Thruor said. You can’t kill fairies unless you’re in Faerie, or something.”

Did that mean you could kill demons in Hell? No. I dismissed the thought. Demons were not alive at all, never had been, so they couldn’t be killed. In any way.

At the same time, I did sort of and rather wish I could kill Tyz’vel permanently. I wished I could feed him to Hel.

I couldn’t. She had no authority over him.

“Can you kill demons in hell?”

“I just thought that through, and I don’t think so, because they aren’t alive in the first place.”

Kanesha nodded. “I’ll be okay. Are you hurt?”

I shook my head. “They were a good workout, but not really a threat.”

I turned back to Seb. “So, you haven’t answered my question. What was with the Fomors?”

“Fomori,” he corrected. “Clara apparently found something fae that they want. We’re going to find its rightful owner and return it.”

“That seems to be the smartest thing to do with things that belong to fairies,” I mused.

“It’s definitely Sidhe. So, yes. Fomori are one thing. I’m not dealing with pissed off Sidhe.”

Of course, I had to say what I said next, “How can I help?”

Episode Thirteen: Hunted: Scene 29

One of them saw me and charged with a battle cry. He was wielding a spiked club. I let him get up to full speed and then stepped to the side and let him go stumbling past me, then spun to draw my sword and strike at his back with one smooth action. It was probably too showy – I hit but did little damage, and then he was whirling to try and bring the club down on my skull.

I was pretty sure the biker helmet I was wearing wouldn’t offer much protection, so I ducked away from the club. In my peripheral vision I could see Kanesha and Thruor flanking one that was swinging a chain at them.

I had to trust them to handle their own fights, though. I seemed to have drawn an opponent who knew what he was doing. He followed up by sweeping the club towards my legs. I jumped and then slashed at his hand as I came down. I missed his hand, and my blade cut deep into the club and…got stuck.

I yanked it away, and the club came with it, nearly hitting me in the face. I leapt back, surprised. Club Guy was already pulling out a secondary weapon, a barbed short sword.

I kept going back and shaking my sword until the club came off of it. The look on his face showed that he hadn’t, quite, expected me to do that.

Maybe my sword was better than most. It had, after all, been a gift from a valkyrie. Asgardian steel. Had to mean something.
And Kanesha was wielding the same – a privilege I suspected few mortals ever earned. It made me feel better for her safety. He came at me with the short sword, but now I had reach on him, despite the fact that he was practically a giant in size.

Now I had reach on him, and my next slash took off his head. Kanesha and Thruor were still double teaming chain guy, although he had lost most of his chain. I charged on the three who were still surrounding Seb.

Right as Clara’s spell went off. It was a light spell, dazzling in the night, and I blinked against it, then closed my eyes and continued my charge on hearing alone.

From the shrieks, though, it had affected the Fomors even worse. Maybe they were nocturnal or something. I followed the shrieks, felt my blade go into flesh, opened my eyes again to see the surprised gaze of another of them. The last two were trying to run.

I pushed the one I’d just killed off of my sword and ran after them. I had no clue why they were here, but I wasn’t about to let them get away. “Seb, want one alive?”

“Nah!” he called after me.

Realizing they weren’t going to escape, they turned, just as my vision started to clear. Now I had two of them on me, but Seb was right behind me. Unfortunately, he’d lost whatever weapon he was holding in the fight.

Then Kanesha came in on my flank, thrust her blade into the thigh of one of them. She looked almost startled that it had worked.

“Keep going. We’ve got them.”

And, indeed, we had them.

Episode Thirteen: Hunted: Scene 28

My phone went off a moment later. “Jane. We need you.”

I set off at a sprint back home. It was dark at this point, the ravens had faded into the night or gone back to Asgard. Getting there, I found Thruor and Kanesha gearing up.

“What’s going on?”

“Seb just called and said he has a real problem. He couldn’t give too many details.”

That didn’t sound good. I went for my sword and gun, tucking them both under my coat. I wasn’t sure what I’d do in summer when coats would cause even a goddess to overheat.

Not much I could do about it. “He at least gave a location, right?”
“He’s over by the Jefferson Memorial.”

I nodded. Outside, two of the valkyrie bikes waited. Thruor hopped on one. I took the other and Kanesha jumped up behind me. I did wish the steed would stick around.

Except, of course, I wasn’t a valkyrie and Thruor had implied I never would be – that Odin had other things in mind.

Probably because valkyries didn’t marry. It was not right that they were virgins, but they were expected to stay single and avoid kids.

Made sense to me. I had to…I knew I had to marry somebody, some day. I even had a short list in my head.

I leaned forward and gunned the bike after Thruor. Kanesha clung to the back. She had a sword – she knew just enough not to be a danger with it.

Whatever Seb had found, we were bringing all the firepower we could. Maybe. Thruor hadn’t called any other valkyries, so she thought we could handle it.
She probably had some idea what it was and thought this would be good training. Along the mall, past a surprised cop. I hoped he wouldn’t pull us over for speeding; of course he’d have to catch us to do so and he seemed more interested in making sure nobody drove right up to the base of the Washington Monument.

Around the Tidal Basin. We saw the fight before we heard it, surprisingly enough. Clara was working on a spell. Seb was outnumbered by four, five figures. They weren’t vampires. I would have smelled them.

I hopped off the bike without stopping it, trusting it to bring itself to a proper halt. Kanesha dropped and rolled and came up in almost as neat a stance as I did.

“Thruor, who are they?”

“Fomor,” she said, grimly. “Don’t be afraid to kill them. They’re a kind of fae. A nasty kind.”

Episode Thirteen: Hunted: Scene 27

Instead, Hunin switched to English, “She is not for you.”

“That’s up to her,” Tyz’vel noted.

I snorted. “If you believed that, you’d be leaving me alone. As you aren’t, I don’t believe you. I’m with the bird.”

“I’ll knock his feathers off.”

I thought I saw a silhouette, a winged one, overhead. Hopefully it was Munin. Both of them might make him think twice.

But while the ravens did indeed outrank both of us, fighting was not their purpose. Knowledge was.

Knowledge. “So. What would it actually take to make you back off? What do you really want?”

“A promotion. Obtaining a consort such as you…”

I considered. Interfering with the politics of Hell struck me as a stupid idea, but… “What else might get you one?”

Hunin mantled, but didn’t argue with me.

“Are you trying to buy me off?”

“I don’t find you attractive, I don’t want to rule in Hell, I don’t care who’s in charge down there.”

That time I sensed some approval.

“So, you’re trying to buy me off.”

“I’m trying to make sure you know how serious I am, how determined I am that I am not going to be taken in by you. And maybe there’s a way we can both have what we want. I’m not an angel. I can negotiate with you.”

He glanced at Hunin again.

“He’s not an angel either. And you know full well that Odin isn’t some sweetness and light deity.”

“So do you. He’s your blood enemy.”

“And my uncle. Things aren’t that simple, are they.” And they really weren’t. I knew that, knew it in my bones. Remembered…remembered something, remembered my mother and a house, a small one. Modest but well made.

“That is true. They aren’t. And we all go with our natures.”

“And choices. So, think about it. Think about what I could maybe do to solve this without ending up in some fancy four poster bed in Hell.”

Oddly, he simply turned away. And vanished. A moment later, Hunin took off to join his brother in the sky.

Episode Thirteen: Hunted: Scene 26

The raven was perched on a fencepost. “Hello, Hunin.”

The only response was a caw. I suspected everyone around thought he was a crow, but he was bigger than any crow, his feathers blue-black.

I instinctively knew which one he was. “Got any bright advice for my guy problems?” I inquired of the bird.

“Fair enough.” Like a raven would have a clue anyway, even one that was essentially an angel.

He spread his wings, then folded them neatly, looking at me.

“Oh, speak English. I don’t speak raven.”

He answered me.

In Old Norse. “You’re doing well not to give into him.”

I rolled my eyes. “I said English,” I noted, even though I understood him perfectly. “Silly bird.”

He huffed up his feathers. “I am a raven. Not a silly bird.”

“Ravens and crows are amongst the silliest of birds.” I envisioned Hunin and Munin playing in the snow and grinned. “So, don’t deny it. Did you come here to help or just because you’re bored between messages?” I offered him my arm.

He glanced around and then hopped onto it, his talons pricking a little through my sweater.

“He will give up eventually. Demons aren’t that patient.”

“Yes, but who’s idea of eventually?”

“Hatchling,” the raven informed me as I set off down the street.

He was heavy on my arm, but not as much as he looked he might be. Hollow bird bones, of course, helped. “Well, yes. But he’s got my girlfriend on the verge of wanting to kill him. I’m worried…”

“Proving her strength might get him to back down.”

“Meaning he won’t want to compete with her. Maybe, but…I trust her, and I trust her judgment, but she’s not that good with a blade yet.”

And then I sensed a presence. “Great. He’s here.”

“Nice bird,” Tyz’vel said as he stepped out from an alleyway.

“The bird outranks both of us,” I pointed out.

“True. But he also won’t try to peck my eyes out.”

I knew he was telling the truth. It simply wasn’t Hunin’s style.

Episode Thirteen: Hunted: Scene 25

“If you’re bored with him, I’m frustrated with him.” I shook my head. “No, more than that. I want to stick my sword in him.”

“Would slow him down,” Thruor opined.

“But he’d only be even more attracted to me,” I grumbled. “And I’m not going to turn into a fainting daisy.”

Kanesha cracked open a can of root beer. “Maybe I should be the one to do it.”

“You aren’t ready yet,” Thruor said, simply. “It’s not a bad idea, but right now he’d probably kill you.”

I wondered if Kanesha would ever be ready. Could she develop enough skill to overcome the weakness of being a mere human fighting supernaturals? I knew that was an unfair thing to even think.

But it was on the table, it had to be.

“I’m working on it,” she said with more confidence than I felt, and I swept the thought off of my mental table.

Kanesha could do it if anyone could, and if not, well…if he touched her, I had a feeling he’d get into real trouble.

“Maybe I should talk to Odin about him.”

Thruor pursed her lips. “Odin hasn’t stepped in yet. That almost certainly means he thinks you can handle the situation.”

A compliment, then. “I can handle it. I’m just kind of tired of handling it.” How could I not be, given the circumstances? I couldn’t see any end to it. I couldn’t see any way of getting rid of him.

I’d have to put up with him at the edge of my life for decades, at this rate. He wasn’t going to be convinced. “I’m going for a walk.”

Thruor rested a hand on my arm as I stood. “We’ll work something out.”

I shook her off, but gently. She was only trying to help, and it wasn’t her fault he had me feeling homicidal again.

Or at least like a good workout. I didn’t just go for a walk – as soon as I was out of the house I broke into a steady run, trying to burn off the anger that way. If I couldn’t solve the problem, then I had to work out how to live with it.

What if he promised safety for Kanesha? I knew better.

What if I could get him to fight Surtur? Play them off against each other? I had a feeling my father would be proud, but I couldn’t think of any way to do it that wasn’t offering myself to the winner.

Atalanta, I thought, had had things much easier with her foot race.

Episode Thirteen: Hunted: Scene 24

That was, of course, when Tyz’vel showed up. He stepped out from behind a building clapping. “Putting a collar on a werewolf. Smart allies you have, Lokisdottir.”

I tugged out the holy water. “Come closer, why don’t you?”

He blinked, but it did give him pause. “What, you think I’m a kitty cat?”

“I think you’re a tom who won’t stop catting around,” I quipped. Thruor was putting herself between Tyz’vel and Mike.

“Can you blame me from going after somebody as beautiful as you?”

“Don’t you have a harem of succubi to play with?”

“Succubi are boring after a while. They’re only capable of doing exactly what you want in bed.”

I considered that, and realized it was true. “And you’re only capable of being evil?”

He shrugged, lifted his hands. “Blame my ex boss. He turned me into this because I wanted something more interesting than playing music that never changes and saving pious souls.” He glanced at Thruor. “At least you get to collect interesting people.”

“You’re saying you got bored with being an angel?” I could see that. “Then why not be something else?”

The universe interacting with itself. I hadn’t understood what Thruor had been saying with my brain, but I’d got it at some level.

“Why not stop being a baby goddess?”

I shook my head. “I know. It’s not easy for us to change. But is it impossible?”

“It is when…”

“Think about it. And think about finding a candidate for consort who’s actually into you. You’d get bored pretty quickly with me, given I find you about as attractive as a dead tree stump. And don’t say you could fix that.” Appearance was important, but it wasn’t the only thing. “You still smell of brimstone.”

“Then maybe I’ll…”

“No matter what form you take, you still smell of brimstone,” I repeated. “Give it up. Maybe there’s a nymph somewhere who’ll take you up on it.”

“There aren’t any other daughters of chaos gods available.”

“And that’s exactly why you’ll never win me. Because you don’t see me. You see a daughter of a chaos god. Go find somebody who actually thinks you’re hot and likes the idea of being queen of hell, or whatever.”

“You wanted me to stop being evil? Maybe if I was in charge of hell, things could be different.”

Of course. He was a demon. Of course he’d twist my words against me. Instead of answering, I took the stopper off the spray of holy water.

He backed away…and Mike spritzed him in the back of the head. Howling, he ran.

“Good aim.”

“I was getting bored with him. Let’s go home.”

Episode Thirteen: Hunted: Scene 23

My cell phone rang. Mike’s tone, but when I answered it, I got nothing but the sounds of commotion. “Great. Mike’s in a fight.”

Thruor nodded. “Grab your sword and helmet, let’s go back him up.”

I could have sworn the bike wasn’t parked outside when I came in, and probably it wasn’t. It wasn’t like it was incapable of moving on its own, after all.

I hopped onto the bitch seat and Thruor, eyes narrowed, rode into the night.

“You can track him, right?”

“The amount of time we’ve spent together, it’s easy.”

I wondered. If Mike died in a fight, would Thruor take him to Valhalla? I suspected she would. And he would probably appreciate it, too. He liked the idea of being a warrior for justice. So did I, for that matter. “Good.”

He wasn’t that far away, and the trouble was, thankfully, neither Surtur nor Tyz’vel. It was…werewolves?

“Might have known. I don’t have any silver bullets.”

Thruor laughed. “Don’t worry about it. I forgot it was a full moon tonight, but we don’t need silver to chase them off.”

I drew my sword and ran towards the nearest of the wolves, who started to back off, snarling.

“That’s it, doggy, run home.”

Mike wasn’t shooting, probably because he was out of ammunition. Thruor had already moved to shield him. I tried to distract the wolves. One of them did run, but a second leapt at me.

I met it with the blade. I was fairly sure I was immune to lycanthropy, but I didn’t exactly know for sure. So, I wasn’t about to risk being bitten.

Werewolves. Thruor had implied that we didn’t need or even want to kill them, but I’d slashed that one’s throat open.

It was already healing. Silver. I needed silver, but I swung the blade around again, slicing into a paw. “I said go home.”

It ran, limping, away into the dark. Thruor was a whirl of sword and feet, and they were running. “How did that happen?” she asked Mike.

“I was dumb and failed to tell the difference between a wolf and a dog.”

She laughed. “You did not try to put a leash on a werewolf.”

Poor Mike looked utterly shamefaced.

“I take it…”

“Werewolves don’t hunt humans and consider biting anyone who isn’t willing to be worse than rape. But if he tried to put a collar on one…”

I was not going to laugh. I was absolutely not going to laugh. It was one of the hardest things I’d ever done.

Episode Thirteen: Hunted: Scene 22

“It’s pretty hard to explain,” Thruor admitted. “But I’ll try. Every sentient being, from Odin and the other pantheon heads down to Father Will’s cat is some aspect of reality understanding itself.”

“I think I’ve heard philosophers say that.”

“Mortals…and I say that, not humans, because there are other beings like them in the expanses of reality…be they dwarves or beings on worlds orbiting other suns…are how reality observes itself.”

“Now we’re getting into quantum physics.” I wrinkled my nose. “I don’t get that stuff.”

“Okay. Let me try it more simply. Mortals watch the universe. Gods shape it, but we shape it in some way according to how they watch it. Is the Earth flat?”


“But maybe it was when they thought it was.” Thruor grins. “Actually, that’s not quite how it works, but the universe becomes more real the more they watch it, and we…stop it going off the rails.”

“What does that have to do with demons and free will?”

“Demons are in that layer between mortals and gods. So are angels. So are, say, most of my sisters.”


“I am Thor’s daughter and a goddess. I ride with the valkyries because right now that’s what my nature leads me to.”

I nodded. “I…”

She put a hand on mine. “You will not be one of my sisters.” She continued before my face could fall too far. “The Norns have not woven that into your destiny.”

“So I don’t have the choice.”

“No, Jane. You already made the choice when you came into existence. We choose our nature, we reach out to what we want to be, even though we don’t know it right away. That’s the difference between us and mortals. You are part of reality.”

“A part that can still get killed.”

“We…we of Asgard and Vanaheim…choose to live within the same cycles of nature we created. We choose to be, in a measure, mortal, and cyclical. What happens after Ragnarok?”

“Baldur takes over and…the cycle starts over.”

She nodded. “Exactly. So, whatever you become, you chose, as part of the universe, to be Loki’s daughter, chose your destiny and created yourself.”

“I have parents.”

“Who guided that creation, triggered that spark. That is how gods are birthed, Jane. As sparks of reality, nurtured. And you exist for a reason.”

“And demons?”

“They have chosen to be evil, and once they chose that path? It is very hard, Jane, for a god to change.”

And that, unlike what Father Will had said, I could get behind.

Episode Thirteen: Hunted: Scene 21

“So, I had a question.”

Father Will had convinced me to stay for cookies and hot chocolate. “Go on.”

“Demons are angels who rebelled because they wanted the same free will as mortals, right?”

He nodded.

“So, how come no demon chooses to be good?”

“…you know, most people never even ask that question.”

“It’s probably because I’m not Christian and not kind of indoctrinated into the way you people do things.” A pause. “Does that mean you don’t have an answer?”

“It means I’ve never thought of it that way. Mark Twain once asked who had the courage to pray for the one sinner who needs it the most.”

“Meaning Lucifer.”

“Meaning, yes. Lucifer. Satan.” Father Will sipped at his hot chocolate. “He had a point. Here’s the thing. If, no matter how good you are, you’re still condemned to eternal punishment, would you be good?”

I shook my head. “No. But doesn’t that make it God’s fault?”

“I suppose it does. But there’s a lot of evidence in the Bible that while God is good, He has a temper. Look at Jesus throwing the moneychangers out of the temple.”

“Odin has a temper too,” I couldn’t resist saying.

“I’ve read a couple of stories that do rather indicate that.”

Thruor had said we felt everything more. Maybe that went for the Christian God too. “I think gods are more…emotional. More passionate. More…”

“That sounds like the Greek philosophy of gods. Take human traits and exaggerate them. But…”

“But if God has a temper, then…maybe that’s a necessary part of Him being the good creator?”

I’d never resolved in my mind all of the conflicting creation stories. But then, none of them matched scientific reality. Maybe something didn’t have to be literal in order to be true.

“Maybe it is. You’re a strange young woman, Jane.”

If I told him who I was, he’d never let me in his church again. “You’re a strange priest.”

He laughed. “Or maybe one that understands that if God has to tell us not to put any other Gods before him, that rather implies He’s worried about other Gods.” A pause. “I know you don’t serve God. I know you never will.”

“I never can,” I admitted.

“Hence the asking about demons and free will. Here’s the real question: Are you being true to yourself?”

“I think so.”

“Then you are making the right choices, and using whatever free will you have in the right way. Now, if you need my help with…”

“I’ll let you know.”

But I was still thinking about the stuff about demons and free will even as I left.