Episode Eighteen: Tricksters: Scene 10

Monica managed to tease the entire story out of me over lunch. As I’d rather known she would.

“Whewf. Coyote and Loki went for a night on the town? I wish I’d known where.”

“No you don’t,” I quipped. “I wasn’t entirely comfortable being in the same city.”

She tugged out her phone. “Actually…” She started to fiddle with it.

“I doubt very much anyone got them on Youtube,” I noted. “Although I was half expecting to find them in the police blotter.”

She grinned over the phone at me. “Oh, come on. They’ll be on Youtube. Just a matter of finding them. Or recognizing them. Hrm. Maybe this was them in Freddie’s.”

I laughed. “Oh man. Maybe they…” I tailed off. “Not my business!” It wasn’t impossible, of course. Certainly not with my father involved.

I’d actually almost got something resembling comfortable with the basic fact that my father was and is a slut. Almost. I mean, you aren’t supposed to think that way about your parents.

She showed me the phone.

“That does look rather like…” Like Loki in drag. Not shapeshifted drag. Actual old fashioned drag. He was good, too. “Could be a…nah.”

Monica grinned. “Told you I’d find them. It was probably a dare.”

“I’m staying out of it.” Prank wars and gay bars…yeah. I was definitely not getting in the middle of that.

“So, do you and Kanesha want to come to a party? It’s adult, but not that adult.”

I admit I perked at the words party. “I’ll have to ask her, but…”

“This Saturday, at a private club in Georgetown. There’s going to be some very cool people there.” She added. “People who can help your career. And who won’t be bothered that you show up with another girl on your arm.”

I let out a breath. “Alright. But I’ll still have to ask her.”

“It’s the middle of summer. She can’t be needing to study. And she starts college in the fall, right?”

She was a year ahead of me because of, well, memory issues. “She does, but locally…thankfully. She’s planning on transferring to New York when I can get out of high school.”
“Good plan. And New York always needs teachers.”

“Where doesn’t?” Yeah. We were back to normal people talk.

That couldn’t possibly last.

Episode Eighteen: Tricksters: Scene 9

From the lack of crazy police blotter reports I assumed…that the tricksters had erased the memories of anyone involved in whatever they did.

I felt perfectly fine, despite my adventure, and wandered out into the hot summer sun – which bothered me no more than the cold of winter had. Then I saw the fire giant.

He lifted a hand. I sighed and crossed the street. “The dragon was a bit much.”

“Surtur wanted to let you know it wasn’t, shall we say, authorized.”

I frowned. “It was meant to…”

“It was a rather ill thought out, given the location, assassination attempt by a giantess who…”

“Who wants to marry Surtur.” I rolled my eyes. “She can have him.”

He reached out his hand. “Have you…”

I pulled away. “No.”

“…thought about what you might be able to achieve?”

“If I join with him, all this burns.” I indicated the city with my hand. “I won’t let that happen. I turned down a chance to remember everything just to be sure it won’t.”

“Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe…”

I shook my head. “No.” The only reason I’d let him take me was so I could stab him…in a place where he could die and I couldn’t. Unless.

Unless marrying him made me a denizen of Muspelheim anyway. Crap. I hadn’t thought of that.

“Well. He’s sorry about the dragon.”

I nodded. “It didn’t make any sense.” But I wondered if it had been an assassination attempt so much as a warning. If she could get to me in Coyote’s spirit world, she could get to me anywhere?

Then again, why bother warning somebody off… “I appreciate that.” I turned to walk away, trying to put as much distance between myself and the giant as I could. I probably looked as if I was in high dudgeon.

“Jane! What’s wrong?”

Monica’s voice.

“Even you wouldn’t believe this one. Don’t worry. He was just telling me his boss wasn’t the one who tried to kill me the other day.”

She rolled her eyes. “Tried to kill you?”

“It’s not all that impossible.”

“Would your girlfriend be jealous if we did lunch?”

I considered then shook my head. “No. Let’s do lunch.” Let’s do something normal and ordinary, I thought.

Not that I would ever be either.

Episode Eighteen: Tricksters: Scene 8

Coyote and Loki showed up two hours later. Arm in arm. I rolled my eyes at both of them.

“What happened to revenge?”

Loki grinned. “He tricked me into thinking this horrible vegetable juice was mead!” He seemed pleased.

Coyote, though, frowned. “I’m sorry about what happened.”

“Not your fault. It wasn’t one of yours, as you said.” I mock-glared at Loki. “It’s yours.”

He lifted a hand.

“Okay, no. Surtur was responsible for that thing, I’m sure.”

“Probably.” Loki glanced at his fellow trickster. Then he did something unexpected. He hugged me.

“Did I scare you?” I asked, almost incredulously.

“No, but please don’t try dragon riding again.”

I grinned. “I don’t plan on it. It was a long way down. So…”

“So, do we have brownies?”

I located some from the last batch, without warning Coyote. Of course, we’d mentioned the brownies…but we hadn’t gone into details.

Loki handed him one and just grinned, which probably clued him in. To his credit, he ate it anyway. Then he laughed.

I grinned. “Tricksters and cayenne brownies. Always seem to go together.”

Probably because they were a trick themselves, to at least some point. I glanced between the two. “By the way, next time you try to get me on a boat, I’m pushing you in the harbor, Coyote.”

“You should have.” He grinned, twirled with the faint sense of a tail, and headed out.

“I am totally not getting involved in the next round of the war,” I informed Loki.

“Did he try to get you to drink from the memory spring?”

I nodded. “I felt it was the wrong thing to do. I mean, I don’t know what it would do to me and I don’t want to become somebody I’m not.”

Loki hugged me again. And whispered, “You make yourself. Remember that.” Then he went to follow Coyote.

To a bar, probably. Where there would probably be some kind of bizarre bar fight involving drag queens and a banjo or something. Something weird, anyway.

“And the weird zone leaves.”

I grinned at Kanesha. “Yeah. We should check the police blotter tomorrow.”

They didn’t publicize everything, all the time, but they did love to post the weird stuff.

I added, “And I am not paying his bail.”

Episode Eighteen: Tricksters: Scene 7

The next thing I knew I was sitting up in…bed? Had I dreamed the entire thing?

No. I remembered stabbing the dragon. I remembered falling. I remembered a swirl of rainbows…but now I was home.


“Thruor dropped you back off. I got your stuff back from Coyote. He thanked you for getting rid of the dragon.”

“What…what happened?”

“You stabbed the dragon. It vanished. You went into the lake. Coyote stopped me from swimming out there after you. He said you weren’t there any more.”

“Because you can only die in your own realm,” I said, finally. “Otherwise…you get sent back where you belong.”

I’d died. Sort of. I didn’t feel like it, though.
“Oh…oh dang. That makes sense. It makes the entire Baldur thing make so much more sense.”

“I’d forgotten it. I remember it now.” And I’d been brought back here by Thruor…but I did have a dim memory, now. “I was in Asgard. I was in Eir’s house.”

Kanesha nodded. “The goddess of healing. But you seem to be all patched up now.”

I swung my legs to the floor, stood up. “My sword?”

“Otter went and got it for us. I cleaned it.”

I let out a breath. “Thanks. I’m sorry I scared you like that.”

“I really thought…” She pulled me into a hug.

“Hey. I’m the goddess here, remember. Although you’re not bad yourself.” I wondered if it extended to her. If she had died there, would she just have ended up back on Earth?

It wasn’t an experiment I was willing to risk. You can only die in your own realm.

Which meant if I was going to… “Maybe I can take Surtur on after all.”

“Because in Muspelheim he can die and you can’t. But you’d bamf out. It wouldn’t…”

I nodded. “Wouldn’t help me win against somebody with centuries more experience than me. I suppose Coyote’s still thinking of pranks.”

“He had his tail between his legs and he went to try and find the hole it got in through to lock it out. He doesn’t like dragons in his home.”

“I don’t think I like dragons period.”

“You’re the one who had to do the bad movie thing.”

At least I didn’t remember anything hurting. Or more likely I was repressing the memory.

Fire and water. “Was I on fire when I hit?”

Kanesha nodded.
“It wasn’t the dragon’s.” I sighed. “I can’t control it, apparently, when I’m in a serious fight. Or maybe when there’s a dragon around.”

“Surtur sent that thing.”

“Yes.” But to what end? To stop me from…maybe he was afraid of me getting to the spring. And if he didn’t want me to remember, maybe I should have drank from it after all.

No. I still knew I had made the right decision.

Episode Eighteen: Tricksters: Scene 6

Instead, I tossed Kanesha the gun. “Shoot it, see if the bullets have any effect.”
Coyote was looking up at it. “It’s not one of ours. But you know that.”

I wasn’t sure what I knew, other than the strong sense of evil and darkness that told me it wasn’t, say, Thunderbird. “It’s a demon,” I said as I drew my sword. “What happens if we kill it here?”

“It’ll go back to wherever it came from.” Coyote was…hiding behind us.

It hit me. If he died here he would be dead. This was his home plane. If it could kill him…which was unlikely. But he was apparently going to let the people not from here fight it.

We were…or at least I was…taking less risk. “You start thinking about how it got here.”

It looked like a dragon bat thing…Kanesha got off a shot which didn’t seem to do anything.

I looked around. I couldn’t fly, and it probably had a ranged attack. No, definitely. It breathed fire, which caught in some of the trees.

Okay. I had to get up there with it somehow. I picked a tree further back from the lake and started to climb rapidly. I wasn’t cursing Coyote for his cowardice. He was a trickster, after all, and fighting monsters was what I did.

Especially as I suspected the monster’s presence had something to do with mine. Or maybe with how Loki had got here. It wasn’t one of theirs, but I wasn’t convinced…it wasn’t an actual dragon.

One of ours. It saw me on the tree and came in to flame. I had to trust my instincts. The tree below me caught fire, but I didn’t feel it.

I jumped. Twisted in the air and landed on the thing’s neck. Just like in a bad movie. I wasn’t even sure how I’d pulled it off. Maybe here I could do anything as long as I believed in it enough. My own fire, though, wanted to respond to the dragon’s. It veered out over the lake, but I felt the flames starting to form within me.

Oh no. I wouldn’t turn into that. Not here. And besides…we were over the lake. I ran up its neck, utterly unafraid of falling. I just had this feeling I didn’t have to worry about things here.

It tried to shake me off, and almost succeeded. I ended up clasping its neck with arms and legs, almost dropping the sword. The lake suddenly seemed to be a long way below, a fall greater than even somebody like me could survive.

I didn’t let it stop me. I thought I heard Kanesha’s voice, but I got to my feet again and thrust the sword into the base of the dragon’s skull.

It exploded into flame, everything did, the world did. I wasn’t aware that I was falling.

The only thought I had was that I had completely and utterly screwed this up.


Episode Eighteen: Tricksters: Scene 5

The boat roared back into existence, although it definitely sounded more organic. I heard Coyote’s voice. “See, I told you she’s okay.”

She actually jumped into the water and rushed onto the beach. “You are okay?”

“Yeah. He just tricked me into coming here instead of asking me. He wants to prank Loki.”

“He told me. Something about pink.”

“And I want you in on anything we do.” I grinned at her. “Maybe we should tell him…”

Kanesha considered. “Is it possible to defect?”

Coyote shook his head. “No.” He sat at the edge of the beach, his paws in the water. “Or I would have put you in a deerskin dress already.” He mock-leered.

Kanesha aimed a punch at him – emboldened, no doubt, by knowing several gods.

“You aren’t quite my type,” I told him with a grin. “Although Kanesha would definitely look good in a deerskin dress. A short one.”

She aimed a second punch at me, although it was clearly not meant to hit. “Sounds like you’ve forgiven him for kidnapping you.”

“Oh no. He still owes me.”

“We could tell Loki you’re eloping with Coyote.”

“Nah,” I said. “He’d probably approve.” I was joking, although Loki and Coyote probably liked each other underneath it all.

Kanesha hrmed. “And…no, that’s too mean.”

“We thought of changing his entire wardrobe to chainmail bikinis, but he’d just wear them anyway.”

She grinned. “He would. Could sneak something into the brownies.”

“Thought of that one too. No, I think we need to tell him a whopper.”

Something he’d believe. Something he’d laugh at once we broke down and told him the truth. “A whopper about why you kidnapped me, Coyote.”

“Well, you already dismissed me having my way with you. Although I think this young lady would cut off my balls if I tried.”

Kanesha just smiled sweetly.

Then something dark crossed the sky. “Uh, is that supposed to be here?”

“No!” Coyote called, ducking under the trees.

So, the trickster had enemies in the spirit world? Maybe I could get him to owe me another favor.

Episode Eighteen: Tricksters: Scene 4

I stood there staring at the spring for a long time. Then I shook my head. “No.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t know who I was before. How do I know the person I was wouldn’t happily stand there with Surtur and watch the world burn?”

“‘Cause you’re still you.”

I shook my head again. “No.” Maybe I’d have to say yes eventually, but I really did fear that…well, Odin had had his reasons and he presumably had his reasons for not restoring my memories.

Coyote tilted his head. Then he laughed. “Well, then. Let’s go prank your father.”

He didn’t say whether he thought I’d made the right decision or not, but there was something about it that felt right. Or rather, as if I was choosing to be who I was…memories or no memories.

I was not going to risk being the entity that started Ragnarok, even if that meant I never remembered my childhood. “So, what did you have in mind? And bear in mind, you did still kidnap me. Which means you owe me.”

“I offered you what I have.”

I shook my head. “You owe me a prank.”

He grinned again, showing all of his teeth. “Alright, then.”

“I wonder if there’s a way to…hrm. I could put something in the brownies, but he’d smell the difference, I think.”

“We could change all of his clothes to chainmail bikinis?” Coyote suggested, tongue lolling.

I grinned. “He’d probably like that.” I didn’t have any good ideas, though. And Coyote did owe me…so why should I come up with the prank?

“Maybe I could drag you somewhere kicking and screaming?”

“He wouldn’t believe you’d really hurt me,” I noted. “Or he would and then it would turn into an actual fight.” Which was a scary proposition. I certainly didn’t want to be in the middle of it.

It was hard to come up with a good prank at the best of times. It was extra hard when going up against a master. And the only ideas I had would upset Kanesha. “Any chance we could go pick up my girlfriend?”


“Because I have some ideas but she’d need to be in on them.”

Coyote grinned. “Alright then. How about you wait on the beach and I’ll get her?”

I considered demanding to go with him. Then I changed my mind. The boat was still bobbing out there, Coyote jumped onto it and it powered away. I realized he’d never tied it up. I sat on the beach and watched the lake. Maybe I should go to the real world version.

Maybe I should demand Coyote give me at least one trip back here. It was nice to be somewhere where there were no signs or sounds of humanity.

An image flickered into my mind of mountains. That, I thought, would be even nicer.

Mountains and quiet.

Episode Eighteen: Tricksters: Scene 3

The boat docked silently. I hadn’t seen any crew and I suspected it was as much a boat as Thruor’s steed was a motorbike. It was probably an orca spirit or something. Coyote jumped onto the beach. “Come on.”

“Not worried I’ll escape?” I followed him.

“You’d only get lost,” he pointed out. “I don’t think anything here would hurt you, but…”

I shrugged. “I probably would at that, but it’s tempting to try anyway.” It was. The forest almost touched the shore, but I heard the sound of a waterfall…and yes, there was the stream. “Where are we?”

“As you guessed, we’re in the spirit world, but where we’re across from is Gitchi Gummi.” A pause. “Lake Superior.”

“We got here fast…or did you cheat on time?”

He grinned. “I cheated.”

But if I found a way out of the spirit world, I’d be in Minnesota or something. Maybe even Canada. I thought about the trek back to DC from there, and decided that I was right – sticking with Coyote was the best plan. “So, you wanted to show me something?”

He nodded. “Yes. It doesn’t exist any more in the real world.”

He led me up through the forest. A good walk, but I didn’t find it unpleasant. I hadn’t ever been this far out of a city in my memory. Of course. “Are there any humans here?”

“Sometimes. Or rather, things that used to be human.”

I nodded. “Got it.” I thought of Kanesha. Would she become something like that because I loved her? Would it be a terrible fate if she did?

There was an otter in the stream. I eyed it suspiciously, even if I was pretty sure it wasn’t my father. He was, though, fond of otters. It waved a paw at us as we headed up the trail. The going was rough, but I was wearing decent shoes, and I certainly…actually, I felt as if I had endless stamina.

Probably something to do with being in the spirit world. The stream burbled, and then I saw the waterfall. Half of it vanished into a hole. “I know I don’t want to go down there.”

“It’s bottomless in the real world.” He grinned, then mischievously. “Actually, I put a net down there to catch all the stuff they throw into it, so they’ll never find out where it goes. With Otter’s help.”

I laughed again. “You…you…”

“Trickster? You should try it. It’s fun.”

“I dabble. But I’m not my dad and not trying to be.” I looked at the waterfall again. Then we kept going.

Finally, he stopped. By a spring. “This is where I intended to bring you.”

“Doesn’t exist in the real world?”

“Dried up centuries ago.” He looked at the spring, then at me. “If you drink this, you’ll get your memories back.”

I stared at him. “Odin did that.”

“I don’t answer to Odin.” Coyote grinned. “He can’t touch me. And he won’t touch you.”

I knew he was right. I looked at him, then at the spring. My memories. Who I had been before Odin had stripped my memories and exiled me to Earth.

Which he had implied he’d done to…help me make the right decision.

Episode Eighteen: Tricksters: Scene 2

Truth is, I thought I could escape easily. After all, he had given me back my weapons, he didn’t have me tied up or locked up or anything. But when I went out on deck, we weren’t on the Potomac any more.

I don’t know where we actually were. It seemed to be the shore of a lake, but I saw no sign of human habitation. Jumping off and swimming ashore would probably trap me somewhere in the spirit world…I was sure we weren’t, as it were, in Kansas any more.

No yellow brick road, either. I was more worried about Kanesha’s reaction than my dad’s. She’d worry and possibly do something stupid.

But rather than try and escape through an unfamiliar place belonging to a different pantheon, I decided it was better to try and trick my way out of the situation. Besides, that might get his respect.

“You were easy to catch.”

“I knew it was a trap. Figured I could spring it.” I looked out at the countryside. “Honestly, I thought it was some mundanes who’ve been causing trouble for me. They think I’m going to start Ragnarok.”

Coyote laughed. He wasn’t even pretending it was a human sound. “Oh dear me.”

“Well, I’m tied up in it somehow.”

“Of course you are. Loki’s only living child that isn’t a monster. Not that Hel’s really a monster except in appearance, but there you have it.”

I couldn’t help but grin. “Besides. She’s busy.”

“That she is.”

“Ragnarok, though. I mean…” I tailed off. “Does it affect you?”

That laugh again. “Not particularly. Well, I mean, if mortals are caught up in it, it might. There’s a few I like.”

“If Surtur has his way there won’t be many mortals left.”

Coyote dipped his snout…he really wasn’t pretending to be human any more. “Then why not kill him?”

“Honestly, I have seriously considered…” I paused. “…accepting his offer and then stabbing him in the wedding bed. But if it didn’t work…”

“If it didn’t work he’d find some way to control you forever.”

I nodded. “And in a fair fight, I can’t take him.”

“Then make it an unfair fight.” He put a furred hand on my wrist. “I don’t plan on keeping you long, and there’s more of a point than annoying your dad.”

“What did he do anyway? Pull your tail?”

“He tricked a shaman into opening a gate into the spirit world, found my lodge and…redecorated.”

I laughed hard enough to almost fall off the boat. “I…no, I do want to know. Well, unless it involved dick pics.”

“It didn’t. It did involve rather a lot of pink.”

“Thor in a dress,” I joke-swore. “Let me guess. And also lace. And also frilliness.”

Coyote shuddered slightly. “So…let’s deal with the other reason I brought you here and then maybe I can talk you into helping me get some revenge.”

I grinned. “Unfortunately, he likes pink.” I was still laughing inside, though. But mystified as to what Coyote wanted.

Episode Eighteen: Tricksters: Scene 1

Watching intently, of course, wasn’t achieving anything worthwhile. But before long I saw somebody on the boat. They lifted a hand to me.

Eyes narrowed, I headed for the dock. The entrance was locked, but that wasn’t about to stop somebody with my strength and reflexes. Not caring about the barb wire, I swung myself around it, and walked towards the boat.

“You came.” A male voice.

“You have something which belongs to me. I’m assuming this isn’t social.” I mean, if he’d just wanted to talk, he could have arranged that without pissing me off.

He’d practically gone out of his way to piss me off.

“You’ll get it back. Come aboard.”

I hesitated, then hopped onto the boat. It rocked only slightly – it wasn’t a small boat. “What do you want?”

“To annoy somebody close to you.”

I rolled my eyes. “What, did Loki prank you?” I studied the man. He wasn’t one of us, but Loki had never limited his pranks.

“Loki tried to out-prank me.”

Never limited his pranks, and now I was closer I realized the man was Native American. “Well, you succeeded in annoying me, and nope, not going to be involved in a war between you.”

He laughed. “You mean you don’t think it’s fun?”

“Not when you stole my stuff.”

He reached into the cabin and offered me my sword, hilt first. “Borrowed.”

“Stole.” I took it, nonetheless, and was tempted to draw it and stop the stroke just short of his neck. The only reason I didn’t was because I was pretty sure this wasn’t somebody who would be particularly inconvenienced by decapitation. “You could just have asked, you know. I might have been up for teasing him a bit.”

He offered me my gun, then headed into the cabin.

I followed. The boat looked like it belonged to somebody who routinely found a million dollars in his couch. My laptop was sitting on one of the tables, looking battered, next to the horn.

“I wasn’t sure how else to get your attention.”

“You’re lucky I haven’t pushed you in the harbor. What, you want him to think you’re messing with me?”

He grinned. “No. I want him to think I kidnapped you.”

“Hey! You know, I could shoot you. I know it would only be irritating, but I could.”

Presumably there was a crew on the boat, because it was already moving. I could swim to shore.

“But you won’t, because you’re way curious what he did.”

“My girlfriend will come after us.”

He laughed. “That would be entertaining.”

“If you hurt her I will find a way to send you back to the spirit world for a century or so, Coyote.” I hoped I hadn’t missed my guess. But that laugh definitely had fangs in it.

“And what if I show her a good time?”

If we’d been on the deck I would have pushed him in.