Episode Twenty: Ghosts: Scene 30

Mike left not long after Thruor, looking worried. I looked at Kanesha. “I need to fight something.”

She considered that. “Maybe one of Thruor’s sisters is around and wants to spar.”

I shook my head. “I need a real fight. I’m feeling like all I can do, all I’m needed for, is to get other people to do things for me. And while I think that’s kind of how it’s supposed to work…”

“It’s not enough for you.”

“And I know I need it to be enough.” Because when I was a goddess in truth…unless… And Thruor had said I would never be one of her sisters. I wouldn’t be a warrior out here fighting.

“Do you?”

I nodded. “Thruor said I won’t be a valkyrie. Whatever Odin has in mind for me it’s probably going to involve a lot of sitting around in Asgard.”

Kanesha put her hand on mine, dark against pale. “Siglaugr.” She didn’t quite pronounce it right.


“You are who you are. Odin can’t change that, right?”

“But he’s still the king.”

“Doesn’t Frigg, even, ride with them sometimes?”

“…I think so. I know Freya does.” I added, softly, “And I know my own frustrations are much less important than preventing Ragnarok.”

“All you have to do for that, I think, is stay away from Surtur. And he’d…”

“…try to turn me into a queen. Then I’d be sitting around in Muspelheim.” I laughed a bit. “Or…who knows.”

“Fire giants probably spar all the time.”

“Fire giants consider assassination a reasonable way to get power,” I pointed out. “Heh. Maybe it would be more fun, but I’m not…I want the world to live out its full lifespan without us messing it up.”

Kanesha grinned. “I dunno how I’d like Muspelheim either, and…”

“Surtur wouldn’t tolerate you around, I don’t think.” I considered that. “Unless I sneaked you in as a lady in waiting.”

“I wonder what fashionable fire giantesses wear.”

We were both laughing and I did feel quite a lot better. Then there came yet another knock at the door.

“Who could that be?” she asked. “It’s after midnight.”

This time, I went to answer it.

It was Sebastian, and he was carrying a bloodied Clara in his arms.

Episode Twenty: Ghosts: Scene 29

Ten minutes later, Mike showed up. Kanesha added more spaghetti to the pasta she was making. Quite a bit more.

“I think I have a lead,” he said once we were all at the table. My small table struggled to seat four, but we managed.

“Good, because Anansi attacked Persephone today. He’s going to start a war. Or just get his butt kicked.”

“Unfortunately, the lead is in Sierra Leone.”

“Oh man.” Not only was it west Africa, but they’d only just dealt with an ebola epidemic. Or not. It wasn’t a safe place to go.

Well, maybe for me, but who knew what would happen when I tried to get back.

“We can’t go there and she might not be able to come here.”

“That’s what the internet’s for,” Kanesha said, simply.

“Right. I can really do something like this over email.” Mike ran his hand through his hair.

“I’ll go,” Thruor offered. “Jane might be better, with her skill at glamor, but…”

I scowled. “You’re about to say I shouldn’t take the time off school.” She was right, though. I could hardly claim a family emergency when everyone knew I didn’t have family. “I suppose I could call in sick, but who knows how long this might take. How do you plan on getting her out?”

“They aren’t quarantining as heavily. I think I know a good route.”

“Alright.” I knew I’d just have to trust her. I knew that I would have to, well, wait again.

“I know you’d rather do it yourself, but people are already wondering about how odd you are.”

“I’ll graduate soon enough.” Then what. New York?

The vague feeling I might not have to worry about it disturbed me.

“For now, trust me, Jane. Besides, I think you’ll have plenty to do.”

I wasn’t sure I liked the sound of that. I glanced at Kanesha. “Alright,” I repeated.

I wasn’t happy, though. I suppose she was treating me a little bit more like a child than normal and that was what was bothering me.

Or maybe it was an extension of what seemed like a constant frustration now. True, I’d helped Persephone get free, but I’d been less use in Hell than Kanesha.

Thruor studied me for a moment. “Siglaugr.” The name indicated how serious she was.


“Please just trust me.” With that, she stood up. “I’d better find myself a flight.” And then she was gone.

For some reason I was abruptly worried about her. Even though I knew no mortal disease…or violence…could harm her.

Even though I knew I had no reason to be.

Episode Twenty: Ghosts: Scene 28

“Persephone maced Anansi?” Kanesha exclaimed.

I grinned. “Yup, and he scuttled off like he was afraid she’d step on him next.”

“That’s so funny. It is. And you saw the artifact.”

“Gold disk. He was somehow holding it in the palm of his hand. Might have been strapped in place.”

She nodded. “Alright. And he’s likely to…”

“I don’t know who he’ll go after next. Everyone’s warned. He might try Persephone again, hoping that she’ll think he won’t want to. But I told him. I told him she’s not in the land of the dead.”

“Do you think?”
“He thinks I’m lying. But maybe he’ll think about it. Maybe he’ll start thinking about where she might be.”

Kanesha let out a breath. “You…”

“I thought of killing him in the hope he’d leave it behind and I could grab it, but I wasn’t sure he wouldn’t take it with him, and I wasn’t sure I could anyway.”

She nodded. “And he might have grabbed you if he’d won.”

“He wouldn’t get much from me, but yeah. And then Loki would come try and rescue me.”

“Loki isn’t going to…”

“Loki’s answer to all of this would probably be to seduce Anansi so he forgot about his wife for a bit and then steal it. I’m not doing that. He’s not my type.”

Kanesha giggled. “Good, because if I thought he was I’d have to have words with you!”

“Not for seducing somebody?”

“No, for liking that.”

I shrugged. “I don’t like spiders very much.”

I was about to say something else when somebody knocked on the door and Kanesha sprung up to answer it.

She let Thruor into the apartment without a word beyond “Hey there.”

The valkyrie moved in and made herself at home on my futon. “So, Persephone beat Anansi.”

“I helped,” I noted. “Distracted him for her. But he still has the artifact.”

“At this rate he’s going to get himself killed. Multiple times,” she grumbled.

“I can’t say I’d have any sympathy.”

Episode Twenty: Ghosts: Scene 27

“Mace?” I asked as we sat…Persephone now looking much more ordinary in a simple dress under a cardigan.

“Mace. He was absorbing magic, so I did something mundane.” She grinned at me. “And it worked.”

“Until next time. Unless something I said sank in.” I sighed. “I have to retrieve the artifact.”

She nodded. “Is it Odin’s?”

“It’s Asgardian, but we were planning on destroying it, then Loki managed to lose it.”

Persephone rolled her eyes. “I wouldn’t trust…”

“Neither would I and he’s my father.”

She studied me. “Interesting. I didn’t know he had a second daughter. And not a monster.”

I shrugged. “Hel’s no more a monster than you are.”

She laughed again.

I could sense the coldness of a death queen, but she was more approachable, somehow, than Hel. “You both have white hair.”

“Only during the winter. In the summer it is gold.”

In the summer, when she was Kore. But she was not Kore now. She was the symbol of summer and winter alike, the queen of death, but I rather thought I liked her. Rival or no. “Well…”

She studied me. “Don’t let your parents or your consort define you.”

“I don’t plan on it.” I thought of Kanesha. But she was…

“Or whatever plans Odin might have for you. Right now, you still have some choice.”

“I’d rather do whatever he plans than end up married to a fire giant!”

Again, that ringing laughter, echoes in it of fall and spring. “Wouldn’t that depend on the fire giant.”

“I suppose.” My lips quirked. “And I suppose talking about it to somebody who married a death god…”

“Not entirely against my will.” Her voice was quiet. “But he made me something other than what I would have been.”

“Did you really want to stay Kore forever, though?”

She smiled. “Of course not.”

Of course not. “Well. I have to work out how to get that artifact.”

“You gave him something to think about at least.” She stood up and walked out, but as I watched her go, she vanished in a flurry of snow and the sense of winter’s chill come early.

Episode Twenty: Ghosts: Scene 26

They were still going at it when I got there, as if evenly matched. Persephone appeared as a young woman with white hair and Grecian features. Anansi was clearly recognizable. He had the artifact in one hand, and I had a brief hope we could knock it away from him.

And right now, he was winning. Persephone was throwing a bolt of energy at him, but he was pulling it into the artifact.

Okay. So, no magic. Easy enough. He couldn’t absorb my sword.

As long as I didn’t touch him. Or…dang it. If I got too close. Maybe I wasn’t the one to do this. Maybe we needed a mortal to sneak up behind him and hit him over the head.

“Stay out of this,” he snarled.

“Sorry, I’m acting under orders.”

I swung the blade, but I was using the flat, for now. I wasn’t sure what “killing” him would do. Would he leave the artifact behind or take it with him?

I didn’t want to risk it. He ducked away, but his attention was off of Persephone. “Who’s orders?” he demanded.

“Give it a guess.”

I wasn’t sure what Persephone was doing. Rummaging in a belt pouch for something, apparently.

“Odin really should…”

“Stay out of it? Maybe you’d rather deal with Zeus? You’ve crossed the line. You’ve attacked Persephone and we both know you wanted to use me to lure Hel.”

“I have to have them all.”

“Well, you won’t get Brother Death back. Give it up. Give it up and let us help find her.”

He stopped. He looked at me.

“She’s not in the realm of the dead. She’s somewhere in this world, hiding where you can find her, you idiot.”

Persephone had pulled a vial out of her pouch. It was probably some kind of mystical grenade.

“You’re lying.” Beat. “How did…”

“How do you think? Now, leave Persephone alone and let’s talk about this like civilized people before you piss off every pantheon head on the planet.”

She had the vial up and was looking at me.

He swung the artifact around. For a moment, I felt utter cold, frozen in place. Then Persephone threw the vial.

Into Anansi’s face. He lifted both hands to protect it, then fled.

“What was that?”

She laughed brightly. “Mace.”

Episode Twenty: Ghosts: Scene 25

I got it out of her. She’d managed to pick up Lyme disease, which was horrible. It wasn’t anything I could fix, though. It wasn’t…at some levels, it wasn’t any of my business, but I could at least express sympathy before I left.

Gods didn’t always help their closest chosen with things like this, which made me feel better about Monica’s situation.

Part of the cycle of life. Part of reality, and we were only supposed to tweak it so much.

But I was rather sober as I left, hoping she’d recover soon. At least she would, unlike Monica. At least what she had was sort of treatable. Sort of.

She wasn’t going to die, and I pulled my jacket around myself against a cold I didn’t really feel.

It wasn’t fair, and I couldn’t make it fair. I could only trust that there was some reason for it.

Then I sensed a ripple of energy, something that I couldn’t identify but knew was bad.

And I knew it was our spider friend again. We had to stop him.

We had to find her, or we had to steal it.

But now two gods were fighting. I could feel it, and from the glances around, so could some of the people on the street. The ones who could sense such things, but I doubted many of them knew.

Anansi was one of them, but who was the other? Had my warning got in too late?

Something landed on my shoulder. It was Hunin.

“Who is it?” I asked, quietly.

“Anansi and Persephone. He’d have got the jump on her, but…”

But my warning had got in just in time, it seemed. Just in time to give her enough warning to defend herself. “I hope she wins. Maybe she can solve the problem for us.”

“Maybe,” the raven said. “You have the right idea looking for the wife.”

“But we might never be able to find her. I mean, maybe Mike’s on the right lines, but…”

“She hid where he could find her. She tested him. But…”

“But he failed.”

I kept walking. Nobody was looking at me. We weren’t important to them in that moment, we were insignificant.

“He failed, yes.”

“Did he really love her enough?” I asked, softly. Maybe Hunin would know. Maybe whatever instinctive wisdom the raven carried would…

“You have something more important to do right now. Go.”

I blinked. “Go…” But the raven was gone. I knew he was right, though. I drew my sword and ran to the epicenter of the trouble.

Episode Twenty: Ghosts: Scene 24

At least Anansi didn’t seem to have managed to capture another death god. I kept my eyes open for any kind of weirdness, though.

Mike was talking to spider collectors. Once more I felt helpless, waiting until there was something I could punch.

Sometimes I thought I wasn’t the important one at all. Everyone else around me was achieving more. Doing more. Kanesha was the smart one, Mike knew everyone, Monica…

I shook my head. I was just being stupid. Or maybe that was how it was supposed to work. Maybe gods were supposed to…bring out the best in mortals rather than doing things themselves.

That felt right. But it didn’t mean it wasn’t frustrating to feel like I had so little real agency.

So? I went out looking for something I actually could do. Mostly, I was keeping my eyes open. Then an idea hit me.

I changed course and hopped on a bus, heading for a certain brothel run by a priestess of Aphrodite. Zaid had warned the Egyptian gods, but none of us were in particularly close contact with the Greek ones.

They needed to know what Anansi was running around with, and she was the only person I knew with a direct line. It being daytime, the building was pretty quiet, but not closed.

I wondered how many people wandered in at this time of day looking for stuff other than sex. Probably quite a few.

“You’re…oh, wait, I remember you,” the receptionist said.

“I need to talk to the priestess.”

“Lost any more friends?” she quipped.

“No. I…need her to get a message to her boss for me.”

She frowned, and then opened the door. “She’s in her office.”

I knew the way. But when I stepped in, she looked…tired. “You look exhausted.”

“I am.”

As she didn’t volunteer anything, I elected to assume it was just business and its normal stresses. Probably made double by the illegal nature of what she was doing. “I need to warn you.”
“Warn me?”

“The spider Anansi is wandering around with an artifact that allows him to steal other people’s power.”

She frowned. “Alright.”

“He was responsible for the ghost plague. We rescued his prisoner, but he still has the artifact.”

“Great. I’ll warn my mistress.”

“Thanks. I mean, they probably already noticed, but just to be sure…” A pause. “Are you alright?”

She’d got up, and she was moving like a much older woman. It was a stupid question, really.


Episode Twenty: Ghosts: Scene 23

Kanesha caught up with me after school. “Okay. I couldn’t…”

“We had an idea. If she doesn’t remember who she is, she might still remember the spider connection.”


“Mike’s ex was big into collecting spiders. He’s talking to her. Live spiders, that is.”

“Is that why she’s his ex?” Kanesha quipped.

“Yup.” I grinned. “He didn’t like sharing her with eight legged critters.”

“They don’t bother me.”

I shuddered slightly, not sure why spiders bothered me. Or maybe it was just the legs. “Too many legs.”

“Same number as Sleipnir. But that’s better than trying to track Akan genealogy.”

“Keep with it. I also found out she can’t be sworn to another god.”


“Yeah. That would have caused complications all over the place.”

“It would.”

“I’m working on the theory that she didn’t come out of the woodwork when her husband started making all of this noise because she doesn’t know who she is.”

Kanesha elbowed me. “You already sort of said that.”

She was right. I fell silent for a moment. “Spiders.”

“Get used to it. At least they aren’t going to be bigger than you.”

“Anansi might be if he shapeshifted.” But he hadn’t. I mused on that for a long moment.

It’s the female spider that weaves the web. Not the male. But Anansi wasn’t entirely male, I was sure of that.

I was rather glad to be entirely female myself without any of that confusion. Maybe it was something I could talk to Zaid about.

Or Loki, who didn’t always seem to be entirely male either. Was I even sure…no. I was sure and certain.

Just attracted to both men and women. I could live with that. “The female spider spins the web.”

“Aso is also Mistress Anansi.”

“What if she’s like some of the Egyptian god couples? Not a separate individual, but essentially a part of him? That would explain why there’s so little about her.”

Kanesha blinked. “And why he needs her back. Loki said what he did, but…”

“Loki meant it. Love can make you crazy.”

She mock punched me. “Hey!”

“Well, it’s true. I’d go back to Hell for you. Even knowing what it’s like.”

“I won’t put you in a position where you have to. I…”

I put my finger across her lips before she could promise. “Don’t. Don’t make promises. Not unless you’re sure you can keep them. No. It’s my job to keep that from happening.”

And I would.

But she was not another part of me, only a mortal I cared for. Would that be enough?

Episode Twenty: Ghosts: Scene 22

It was Mike who had the idea. “Okay, so spiders.”

“It’ll only work if she’s in the US, and who says it’ll be that easy?” My initial hope had drained away.

“Not that many people keep them. And even fewer are serious about it. My ex collected them. She said they’re harder to keep than you think. Tarantulas die if they fall any distance… Also, not necessarily the US.”

I shuddered. “Okay, so spiders are more fragile than we thought. I guess its cockroaches that are tough.”

He laughed. “But she said that the serious spider collectors talk to each other and know each other. Not as much as snake people, mind, with all the weird colors they breed.”

“Weird colors?”

“Yeah. Go online and look up ball python morphs some time. Snakes are basically decorative, so they’re always looking for ways to make them extra pretty. Spiders are creepy. People want the creep factor.”

I considered that, and then nodded a little. “Okay. So…”

“So…she might be my ex but we’re still on speaking terms.”

“Is it wise to tell her?”

“We tell her we’re looking for somebody else’s ex girlfriend who collects spiders,” Mike said, firmly. “African, right?”

I nodded. “Or African-American, but I’m pretty sure she won’t be white.”

“That should narrow it down. Even if she’s in Europe or, heck, the richer parts of Africa, Juvie might be able to find her on the internet.”

“Thanks, Mike. I love you.” I meant it in a platonic way, a friendship way, but I definitely meant it.

“The other approach would be to advertise something rare and African. Getting her to find us does seem more likely.”

I frowned. “That’s of doubtful legality.”

“Then I’ll find somebody who has something rare and African.”

I grinned. “Alright. Are there African tarantulas?”

“She had one. A king baboon tarantula. She was huge. And I was cautioned never to touch her; they have a nasty bite, apparently.”

I hrmed. “Okay. I think that’s enough about spiders.”

He grinned at me. “Why do you think she’s my ex?”

I managed a laugh at that, but I still didn’t want to think too much about huge spiders.

Episode Twenty: Ghosts: Scene 21

I and Clara left Zaid and Bobbi to talk about things that had little to do with the supernatural.

“She’s right, but how do we do that?”

Clara considered. “Well, if her husband summoning ghosts didn’t do it?”

“She may not remember who she is.”

“Which makes that impossible.”

“No. It doesn’t. It wasn’t impossible for Loki to find me. Which reminds me that I should grab the horn. I think it can tell people the truth they haven’t admitted.”

“Bobbi should take a swig, then.”

“Nah I think h…she’s admitting it now.”

“Ah, so you brought her to talk to Zaid about that.”

I nodded. “She said she wanted to be a princess. Then tried to backpedal, and I was like, maybe something’s going on here. And if she’s busy talking to Zaid she’s not trying to beat me up.”
Clara laughed. “How far did she get?”

“She did manage to get me on the ground briefly, but only because I had my mind elsewhere and wasn’t expecting to be jumped.”

“She’s bigger than you, too, so heavier.”

I wasn’t sure of that. I didn’t weigh myself. But that was comic books, so… “Yeah. Hopefully Zaid can talk some sense into her. For right now…how do we get the attention of somebody who might not remember?”

“Mrs Spider.”

“Spiders.” I paused. “Some people collect spiders.”

“Zaid has a tarantula. In the bedroom.”

“I’d laugh if it was Zaid.”

“So would I, but it’s not. Wherever she is, she can’t be sworn to another deity.”

Which meant it couldn’t be Kanesha. “So, he has a tarantula. I wonder.”

“I don’t know anything about keeping spiders, other than a couple of things he said about humidity. But…”

“…but there’s a community of people who keep spiders. And if we combine that with what Bobbi said.”

I suddenly had hope that we could find her. Maybe.