Episode Nineteen: Infernal: Scene 11

That was what we were waiting for. Of course we couldn’t take Tyz’vel – although if we did, he’d be dead, this being his home dimension.

But one war demon? Kanesha’s sword was in her hand almost before I could see her draw it…she’d been practicing that move, to be that fast without my kind of enhancements.

Hans had his axe over his shoulder and was already swinging at the demon.

I trusted them.

I went right for Tyz’vel.

He back pedaled. He’d expected me to protect Kanesha. My blade went for his throat, but he parried it with one made of literal fire.

“I don’t burn easy,” I informed him.

“I don’t intend to burn you.”

He didn’t want to kill me. He wanted to…well. I knew what he wanted to do to me. “I know.”

He fought defensively, but I wasn’t near his equal with a blade. If he hadn’t wanted me alive I’d be dead, but Hans had cut the head off the war demon. It screamed.

More would come, I knew that, but I also hoped we only had to hold them until Coyote found my father. Or until something else happened.

The fire from his sword didn’t burn, but my own fire started to rise in response, and I knew I couldn’t let it out.

I couldn’t embrace it. Not until I knew for sure. Not until I had a straight answer. But it wanted out, it wanted to burn Tyz’vel.

Who was a demon and no more vulnerable to fire, even magical fire, than I seemed to be.

It was a stalemate. He didn’t want to hurt me. I wasn’t good enough to kill him. I struck low, trying to take his legs out from under him.

The flaming sword parried me again. I wasn’t out of breath yet, but I felt as if I had nothing to draw from.
And he had everything, I could feel him pulling in the energies of Hell. “Oh yes. I will have you. And I will rule. And I will knock…”

He was monologuing. I tried to stab him. It didn’t help, but it did at least stop the supervillain bragging. My sword, though, nearly fell from my hand, it taking all my strength to hold him.

He was pushing me back towards a wall and I couldn’t even spare a glance for Kanesha and Hans, all I could do was make it a fighting retreat until he twisted his blade to disarm me, pressed me against the wall.

And pressed his lips to mine.

Episode Nineteen: Infernal: Scene 10

That unpleasant thought didn’t go away as the dragon landed on what I honestly saw as a dragon landing pad.

Coyote dismounted. “Okay. For now, we brazen this out.”

I nodded and fell in next to him, Kanesha on the other side, Hans behind us. It didn’t feel like a bad position to be in.

Except we were in the depths of Hell. A prison. An unpleasant prison. The air seemed to carry the clang of closing gates and doors with it.

I shivered, having the sudden feeling that we might not escape.

Brazen it out. And Coyote was heading for the dungeons. Of course he was. That was where you looked for a prisoner. But it didn’t… “He’s not in the jail.”
Coyote turned, and I got the impression of an ear twitch.

“I just have a feeling.”

The ear twitched again. Coyote was listening, but he wasn’t sure. “Where, then?”

“I don’t know.” I closed my eyes, but all I could sense was the oppressive weight of Hell. A heaviness that beat down on us.

That heaviness was what kept the damned souls damned, and now I was feeling it. Everything I’d ever done wrong weighing down on me; even the things I couldn’t remember.

Hell was a prison of guilt. Guilt about rebelling. Guilt that bound mortals here. I knew how to resist Tyz’vel now.

Which was good, because he came stepping out onto the platform while we hesitated. “Coyote.”

Ear twitch. “You have me. But you can’t hold me.” He turned into fog, then, dissipating.

Kanesha blinked.

“Don’t worry,” I murmured. Despite all reason I did sort of trust Coyote.

“Find him,” Tyz’vel instructed the war demons that flanked him.

Then he stepped forward. “I prefer your normal appearance.”

I let the glamor fall. “I don’t prefer yours. I’m here for my father.”

“Oh no. I meant him as bait, but he’s…” A pause. “He has enough guilt, see, to power a world. Sure, you don’t see it, but it’s there.”

And it made a difference. For all that he claimed he did only what he needed to do, for all that there was a reason.

For all that there was a reason, he regretted it. And that guilt had freed him from his prison in Asgard, but was what held him here.

“So, what?”

“I take Hell, and then I take Heaven. And then there will be nobody to stop me taking you.” A pause. “Kill the mortal,” he instructed another of the war demons.

Episode Nineteen: Infernal: Scene 9

Needless to say it was a lot harder to fall off a dragon that was kitted out for riding. I’d done some research and knew that most dragons weren’t actually kinds of demons.

This one was, and it sniffed at us suspiciously, but seemed fooled as easily as the imps and the war demons were.

I was starting to get confident. No, I was starting to get cocky, a disease I was rather prone to. At least I was willing to admit it.

I wasn’t as bad as Thor, anyway. But the point is that I was sure we were going to get to our destination without getting caught.

And from the dragon’s back, Hell was oddly beautiful. I didn’t see people being tormented by being thrust into pits. But I did see damned souls. I saw them shuffling across the landscape as if held by invisible chains.

As if what really held them wasn’t pits of fire or demons with whips – although there were a couple of those.
As if what really held them here was within them, inside them. Maybe it was guilt. Maybe it was just knowing they were damned.

And I knew there was nothing I could do for them. Nothing except protect Kanesha, who seemed to be shining with an odd light in this place.

Hopefully the demons couldn’t see that. Hans had it too, in a slightly different way.

The dragon banked and we saw ahead of us a city in Hell. And it too was beautiful in a twisted, dark way. I could see that beauty and I could sense the seduction of power over those souls.

Even the power to free them. “Kanesha. Do not let me go with him.”

I couldn’t explain the temptation to her. I only knew I was supposed to have power, could feel the edges of it.

I knew that Tyz’vel might offer me something that would be hard to resist without help.

The city was huge, it was a sort of twisted New York, or no, it had bits of every city in it. Every city that was and had ever been. I saw an upside down Eiffel Tower, I saw a Big Ben with the numbers drawn in blood.

This was the capital of Hell. And then, when we reached it, there was fighting in the streets.

Demons and damned souls alike fighting. Civil war in Hell. “Was this what you expected to find?” I asked Coyote.

“Yes,” the trickster said shortly.

Well. At least it should be easy to sneak through the chaos. And I closed my eyes. I couldn’t affect anything here, but with my eyes closed all I could see was the light from those with me.

I was looking for more light; but then, had Loki not been damned in his own way?

Maybe I couldn’t find him that way.

Maybe that was how Tyz’vel had been able to take him.

Episode Nineteen: Infernal: Scene 8

There was a faint brimstone smell eventually. It wasn’t as strong as I’d expected, nor were things as hot.

Or maybe that was just me. I glanced at Kanesha, who was looking around with her lips set. “You can tell this place was made as a prison.”

She was right. So far we’d moved through tunnels that were stark and unwelcoming. Now we’d come out under open sky, but it was a sky in which roiling clouds, deep red and gold in color, flared with brilliant lightning.

The ground around us was baked hard as if by eternal drought, and smoke came up through the cracks. “More like a transportation colony.”

“Australia’s supposed to be nice,” she quipped.

Because, we’d been seen. It was time to act like we belonged here. Small imps scurried towards us, varied kinds. Not lust imps, thankfully. But all kinds of other kinds. Pain imps, I suspected, from the sharp claws. Fire imps that glowed with an aura of heat.

They scurried around us for a moment, then lost interest. That meant our disguise was holding…and with less concentration than I’d feared I’d need to maintain it.

Holding against imps, anyway. The real question was where Tyz’vel was. And I realized I didn’t know all of his titles.

Maybe Coyote did. He certainly was giving a good pretense of knowing exactly where we were going, setting out across the cracked ground with no concern for the heat.

I glanced at Kanesha again. “Hot?”

She nodded.

“I’ll see what I can do about it.” Heat didn’t bother me, but if I concentrated I could tell how hot it actually was. And while we both looked like scantily dressed succubi…we were both dressed for a fight. Leather jackets and the works. I focused on drawing heat out of the air.

And immediately regretted it. “Or maybe I can’t.”

It felt disgusting. It felt like slime. “Sorry. We don’t belong here.”

Coyote was leading towards a door into a fortress. Stepping through it, the temperature dropped.

Infernal air conditioning?

“This is the fortress of Bar’Gur. Stay close to me or somebody might mistake you two for camp followers.”

I laughed. “Got it.”

We walked through the fortress, and I felt eyes on me. War demons, watching me. Yeah. They wanted a piece of the action alright.

“How are we going to get where we need to?”

“We’re going to ride a dragon.”

I shuddered. My last experience with infernal dragons… “Not that kind of dragon.”

“That kind of dragon. Please don’t fall off this time.”

Episode Nineteen: Infernal: Scene 7

I’d armed myself for bear, even though I wasn’t sure weapons of any kind would do anything in Hell. Kanesha had sword and gun as well. Hans preferred an axe, slung over his back.

Not a weapon I was interested in, particularly, but I wanted to see how he used it. And maybe after this was over he’d be willing to spar.

Anansi wasn’t joining us, or at least not in any form I recognized. He was probably doing something else. I didn’t ask.

Coyote took us across into the spirit world, and I had the same sense of not quite right I’d had in the church.

I couldn’t put my finger on it, but Kanesha was shivering. “Something’s wrong.”

“I know.”

Could Loki getting kidnapped have really started all of this?

“Angels and demons. Any excuse to go at each other,” Coyote grumbled. “Unfortunately there’s a lot of them.”

I nodded. “And everything’s off balance.”

He nodded.

“I tried to find us an angel ally, but I think he’s too busy going at demons.” Which was unfortunate. I thought it might have helped.

“Well…we’re going to have to go through here.” He didn’t sound happy about it. “Jane…”

I almost corrected the name, but decided Jane was as good now as it had ever been. “I’m trying.”

Trying to make myself and Kanesha look like demons. Hans I oddly wasn’t worried about. He could handle himself.
And Coyote had already shapeshifted into one. He’d picked a particularly ugly, thuggish kind. I wasn’t going that route, simply because that was more effort.

Nope. I was going to be a pretty demon. I could manage that.

The portal opened and…the expected rush of brimstone and heat didn’t come. I gave Coyote a skeptical look.

He grinned several rows of teeth and headed through it.

Oh, no. No brimstone and heat. Just a sense of wrongness that increased as the door closed behind us.
Would this escalate the problem? We weren’t supposed to be here. But we were here to fix it. That had to count for something.

If there was any logic to it.

Episode Nineteen: Infernal: Scene 6

“So, what do we have here?” Coyote’s voice was a little bit sardonic. “A ghost warrior and your girlfriend?”

I grinned. “Things are getting heated. They’re all I could find. And more than enough.”

Kanesha gave me a mulish look.

“Besides, Freya’s talking to Thor.”

“Thinks he can use that hammer of his to beat some sense into the demon.”

“It’s worse than that,” I said, softly. “It’s…” I tailed off. “Heaven and Hell.”

Coyote shrugged. “I’ll stay out of their way. I’m only involved because people just don’t lock up people from other pantheons.”
I grinned. “Nah, you’re involved because…” I tailed off, not finishing the sentence and feeling a blush form.

Coyote just grinned and, for a moment, his tongue lolled out as if he was in coyote form.

“Dirty old trickster,” Kanesha said. “So, what’s the plan?”
“We…are going to infiltrate Hell,” Coyote said cheerfully.

I glanced at Kanesha. “You don’t have to come.”

“They can’t touch me, right?”

“They can’t touch your soul.” I wasn’t sure whether they could kill her or not. But I knew I could keep her soul safe.

Coyote nodded. “They can’t keep any of us without causing even more trouble. But Tyz’vel seems to have stopped caring.”

Unless Loki had set him up. But no, he might have…

…but then I still wasn’t sure I’d convinced him the end of the world soon wouldn’t be a good thing. What if this was his way of bringing it about without causing Ragnarok, hoping we’d all survive it?

I hoped not, but I couldn’t be sure. “Tyz’vel thinks he’s in love,” I said, finally.


“I mean, maybe he doesn’t just want my power. Maybe he actually likes me.” It fit a lot of his behavior.

“Then he won’t be able to resist an opportunity to think he can get you.”

What if that was what had already happened?

Episode Nineteen: Infernal: Scene 5

Nowhere supernatural, as it turned out. Instead, he took me to a small cafe.

But I knew who was there as soon as I stepped inside. He didn’t have to show me which table. Not that she currently looked like much…not much older than me, her blonde hair caught up with a couple of jeweled clips and wearing a short-sleeved dress.

“Please, sit down, Siglaugr.”

I managed not to stare for a moment. Of all the people to be the first to use what resonated in the depths of me as my real name. “Lady Freya.”

“Hans, please sit by the door.”

He nodded and moved to a different table. I glanced at her. “Not for…”

“No, I really want him guarding the door.” She smiled. “Besides, he’s horribly gallant and I don’t want him to start following you around thinking you need protection.”

I laughed. “I’d have to rescue him.”

“Most likely. But for right now…”

“What do you know?”

“I know that Loki tried something on Tyz’vel. Something that involved shapeshifting. Tyz’vel somehow managed to trap him.”

“I’ve been looking for somebody who knows the Seal of Solomon to deal with Tyz’vel.”

Freya nodded. “A good thought. I’d say keep it up, but I don’t know if we have time.”

“Hell is about to besiege Heaven and we may not have to worry about stopping Ragnarok.” I didn’t even know where those words came from.

“Exactly. Odin’s calling in the troops, just in case. If need be…if need be we may have to involve ourselves.”

“Only because…” I sighed. “Loki. He did this for me, you know.”

“I suspect he was trying to distract Tyz’vel while you found the Seal. Unfortunately, none of us can use it without making things worse.”

I studied her young-old face. Goddess of war and love. And somebody I cared for, or at least respected. I knew in that moment that we could be friends. Would be friends. “Alright. Do we have anything one of us can use?”

“Mjolnir might knock him far enough into the depths of Hell to slow him down. Thor’s with Odin, but I plan on talking to him.”

I nodded a little bit. “Alright. And Coyote is working on some kind of trick.”

“Don’t trust Coyote.”

I grinned. “I don’t. But he likes Loki. I think we can count on that, at least, to have some kind of impact.”

“Don’t trust him doesn’t mean don’t use him.” Her lips quirked. “But be careful. You aren’t close to the power you might have one day.”

I wanted to ask her about the fire. It didn’t, though, feel like the right time.

Episode Nineteen: Infernal: Scene 4

No sign of any angels. Or of Father William for that matter. The church was completely empty.

I frowned. Maybe the angel was already on the case. Maybe he was distracted by something else. Something, though, felt subtly wrong. I looked around for anything that might indicate that the church had been desecrated again.

I saw nothing. But there was still that subtly wrong feeling. “Hey?” I called, not expecting any kind of a response.

It felt…then I realized. It felt as if the place was under siege. Whatever it was hadn’t broken through – or come close to breaking through – the protections on the church, but they seemed to be weakening.

This wasn’t just Tyz’vel having Loki. This was more than that, and I understood why Coyote was worried.
And why he didn’t want me heading off on my own to do something about it, as much as I wanted to.

And why the angel wasn’t here. Okay. I closed my eyes, then shook my head and stepped outside the church. My presence there probably wasn’t remotely helping. It was probably weakening the defenses further.

Then I closed my eyes again, trying to see what I could feel or sense.

I heard distant laughter, but nothing more.

Okay. I wasn’t going to get any help from Heaven and I wasn’t about to seek it from Hell. Which meant. “Odin?” I whispered. “Munin?”

A raven showing up would have made me feel much better.

It wasn’t a raven that showed up. It was the warrior I’d seen earlier. “You okay?”

I shook my head. “No. You know what’s going on?”

“I know that Hell is breaking the rules.”

I shook my head. “He wasn’t breaking the rules when he tried to seduce me?”

“No, but if he’d tried to force you.”

“How the heck did he snag him?”

The warrior shook his head. “I don’t know. By the way, my name’s Hans.”

Hans. There was a common Germanic name if there ever was one. “Alright. Do you have any bright ideas? Does your boss?”

“Not that she’s shared with me. Come on.”

He offered me his hand I took it, not entirely sure where he was heading.

Episode Nineteen: Infernal: Scene 3

“Thruor. We have a problem.”


“Tyz’vel seems to have managed to kidnap Loki.”
She blinked then laughed. “I think Tyz’vel’s likely to come off the worst.”

“Coyote’s worried.”

She sobered a little. “Tyz’vel’s gunning for King of Hell. How would kidnapping Loki help?”

“Well, either as bait to attract me, or if he thinks Loki might take his side.”

“Loki knows better than to interfere with infernal politics. What about the angel?”

I shook my head. “I haven’t swung by the church yet.” Which if the angel was around would be where I’d find him. It almost seemed to be an agreement, that – that he’d be there if needed.

Thruor nodded. “See if you can find out what he knows. I’ll try talking to Odin.”

“Odin probably doesn’t want to interfere with infernal politics either.”

“Nobody does,” Thruor admitted. “But…”

“But Loki wanted Tyz’vel to go away and stop bothering me.” I knew that was the truth. And really, it was one of the more fatherly things he’d done. “And I want Tyz’vel to be…dealt with. Long term. Permanent.”

I did want him dead. Sort of. I wasn’t sure how to achieve it.

“Which might be what Loki is up to. Are you sure we should go charging in?”

“No,” I admitted. “I’ll go talk to the angel.” I really wished he’d admit to a name. “If you see Kanesha, have her look up Zaid.”

“The Egyptian?”

“He knows things we don’t. Or she.” I still wasn’t sure which to use.

“Alright. I’ll trust your instincts.”

I looked at the time. Father William wouldn’t have locked the church up yet. I wasn’t sure I wanted to involve him in this, but I might have no choice.

I had an angel to find. I smiled at Thruor and turned to walk down the street. I trusted her. I trusted…it was interesting to think of how many people I trusted.

Allies were good. Friends were better.
The angel would never be a friend. But he did seem to be more or less on my side. I kept a wary eye for anyone following me, but all I saw was one of Freya’s warriors, who gave me a salute from a street corner.

I returned it, contemplating that Freya probably didn’t want to involve herself in infernal politics either.

Episode Nineteen: Infernal: Scene 2

Which probably meant Coyote would start hitting on me. I convinced him, though, that I really shouldn’t just go off into the spirit world with them. Besides, I wanted to tell the valkyries what was going on.

The real question was just how Tyz’vel had snagged Loki. Or had he? It might be that my dad had the demon right where he wanted him. Or possibly she, right now. I couldn’t be sure.

I had no way to be sure and the fact that nobody seemed to be alarmed except Coyote…but then, Coyote was more likely to have realized when a fellow trickster was out of his depth.

I was pretty sure Coyote was older. Possibly more powerful, if there could really be a comparison.

Tyz’vel. Challenging Lucifer. The thought of talking to the first of demons came into my mind again.

I mean, it wasn’t like I was intentionally involving myself in the politics of Hell. I’d become involved against my wishes.

Back in the real world I headed for Mike’s place, hoping to find Thruor there.

I found Monica instead. “Looking for…”

“You.” She still didn’t look sick, not really. There were bags under her eyes.

“I have…I’m sorry, I have…”

“World shaking problems?” She looked at me. “I have weird dreams.”

Weird dreams. “Might be Odin’s trying to talk to you.”


“But I have to…I have to rescue Loki.”

She laughed. “I would think Loki would be…”

“Self-rescuing. But Coyote seems to think he’s out of his depth this time. And Tyz’vel’s involved.”

“Oh man. I did warn Loki not to seduce him.”

I laughed. “I thought of that, but if Coyote thinks he’s in trouble, then I’m sort of inclined to trust the judgment of another trickster.”

Monica nods. “I…”

I shook my head. “What did you dream?”

I knew she wanted to tell somebody, and I figured it would occupy time until Thruor showed up. I fiddled with my phone in my pocket. I should call Kanesha too. And I had a feeling I was in her dream.

“Somebody was offering you a gold coin and you turned away. And Tyz’vel was there, smiling. Just smiling.”

“And Tyz’vel’s involved in my dad’s disappearance.” And being offered payment for something.


“What did the coin look like?”

“I…it was just…” She frowned. “It was just a coin, but it glowed a little. I don’t think it was a physical thing.”

“A symbol for a payment or a bribe.”

“But it looked like the demon was happy you turned it down.”

“The demon wants me. So, maybe he wouldn’t want me accepting a payment from somebody else.”

I frowned. Somebody else like…one of his rivals. But before I could say anything else I heard an approaching bike.