Episode Thirty-Two: Discoveries: Scene 30

Then he and I both looked towards the window at once.


“Okay,” he said. “That’s rude.”


I wasn’t sure what he meant. I sensed something. Some disturbance. “I can’t identify that.”


“Demon trouble.”


“Not Tyz’vel.”


“Nah. But somebody high ranking.” He considered that. “I’m tempted to go say hi.”


“And see if you can deflect them?”


A grin. “Well, depends on what they’re up to. They could just be after a night on the tile.” He snapped his fingers and vanished.


I glared at the space where he had been, grabbed my sword and started to head towards the disturbance by rather more mundane means.


They might be after Derek again, although I doubted it. This was somebody high ranking.


This was somebody up to something big, and I didn’t need it. I didn’t need this level of distraction.


Probably, I should have left it to my dad. He could handle demons, one way or another.


But I couldn’t, as usual, stand to sit aside unless there really was nothing I could do. Besides, I wanted to know who it was.


I got about a block before Sarael fell in next to me.


“Who is it?”


“One of the high princes. Not Lucifer, but not far below him.”


“My dad went to try and distract him.”


“Or her, hard to tell from here.” Sarael arched an eyebrow. “Distract. Right.”


“Hey, it might work.”


“Crazy god,” he grumbled.


“I know.” I wasn’t going to deny that there was madness in my father, albeit madness that at least sometimes had a trace, just a trace, of method to it.


Okay, maybe more than a trace.


“You must get your sanity from your mother.”


“I do,” I admitted. “So, any thoughts?”


“I think we should mop up the lessers who came through and let crazy gods do their things.”


I smiled. “Well, I have my sword.”


“As do I,” the angel said, smiling back.


Sending demons back to hell the hard way suddenly struck me as quite a fun way to spend the night.


But the prince, likely that was something big.


Something political.


Something I hoped I could avoid being involved in.

Episode Thirty-Two: Discoveries: Scene 29

“You’re right,” Loki said. “Surtur would never rebalance things in a way which weakens his military might. He also fancies himself as the Allfather.”


“That doesn’t gel with sacrificing himself to fix…”


He lifted a hand before I could finish my sentence. “Actually, it does. How did Odin get wisdom?”


I shuddered. “Oh, so he thinks…”


“And while it probably wouldn’t work per se, it’s entirely possible he could die and then come back worse, and Hel wouldn’t have anything to say about it because he’s leveraging stuff older than she is. Older than we are.”


I shuddered again. “Which is why it’s not my task to kill him. Because I’d probably end up…”


“Triggering something. Or there’s…” Loki considers that. “I think I know what that means but yes, try and refrain from putting a sword in his heart unless it’s genuine self-defense.”


“Don’t murder him.” I let my breath out. “I didn’t plan on it. Considered it, yes. Planned on it, no.”


“Good.” A pause. “I’d rather get things back to the status quo, myself. Anyone who replaces him is going to be an unknown quantity.”


“Says the chaos god.”


“Ah, but I’m actually a reasonably predictable chaos god.”


I laughed. “You are at that. I know you’re going to hit on everything that moves.”


“Not everything!”


“Oh, come on, you were hitting on Sarael.”


“Waste of time.”


“You were still doing it.” The banter cheered me up. Surtur would not rebalance things, but… “What if the efreet is wrong and somebody other than Surtur could force the rebalancing?”


“Hrm. Would have to be….” He tailed off. “I couldn’t do it. It would have to be somebody bound to Muspelheim. So, that eliminates both of us.”


“What about an entire bunch of well born fire giants forming a circle?”


“Might work, if you can get enough of them. And get it past under his nose.”


“Yngva did manage to rob his armory.”
“She must work there,” Loki mused. “Are you…”


“I’m returning the dagger. I think that as difficult as this is, it’s more feasible than destroying a whole bunch of weapons.”


“Well, then…”


“And I’m not calling her until you leave.”


He looked puppy dog hurt.


Episode Thirty-Two: Discoveries: Scene 28

Books turned out to be the bribe. Not even horribly rare books.


He liked trashy romance novels. Of course he did. He also liked having somebody else buy them so he did not have to admit to this fact. So, I sneaked him a nice new to be read pile and then went back to contemplating the issue.


So, the armory could be destroyed. Or the fire could be rebalanced, which would weaken the weapons.


And thus Muspelheim’s position in the event of a war. Which I knew Surtur would never do.


He wanted a stronger position not a weaker one, and although progress had been made, nobody was going to talk him into weakening his position for vague promises.


Not even me.


Besides, at this point he had to know I hated him. He had to know he would only end up bringing a viper into his bed.


He had to intend to do just that. So, how did I strengthen his position? Aesir blood.


I knew then.


He intended to use me to steal the apples.


He also intended to make sure there was a child before he did something stupid. I, of course, was not going to allow any such thing. I would never let him touch me.


So, I spent a bit more quality time staring at the dagger.


Strengthen Muspelheim’s position. Or work towards actual peace. Actual peace was not really going to happen. I knew that in my heart.


Whatever happened, we would still live under the sword. Because that was part of our nature.


Because life happened in the intersection of fire and ice and chaos and order, and any one side winning meant life could not exist.


“You’re learning.”


Loki. On my balcony. I opened the door and let him in. “No brownies.”


“I heard your thoughts. You understand the conflict is needed.”
“And that it can only end one way.”


“Only to start again,” he added, thoughtfully. “We know that. The prophecy makes that clear.”


“A cycle.” I let out a breath. Stop Ragnarok or cause it. Something inside me shuddered.


“We can’t break that cycle. Well, one day the actual universe will end, and we don’t know at that point. Except that it’s likely to be just another much bigger cycle. Mortals have become fond of endings and beginnings. Neither exist.”


“I know.” I had been born, though. Or had I existed before in some form that I would not be able to recall even if I got my memories back?
Was I, too, a cycle?


Episode Thirty-Two: Discoveries: Scene 27

“So…you’ve got two angles of approach,” the efreet said. “And there’d better be something in this for me.”


Did efreet drink alcohol. Or were they too Muslim? There was always chocolate. “I think I can come up with something.”


“The first is that destroying them would, yes, return the fire where it belongs.”


“But there’s an entire armory of this stuff, plus whatever’s out.”


“Right. So, I don’t think you want to do that. The second thing you can do is…alter how the fire is bound.”


“Wouldn’t I still have to do that to every single weapon?”


“You can’t do it at all.” The efreet’s tones were grim. “Whoever has authority over the source of the fire can, and even then, it’s tricky.”


“Surtur has to do it.” I understood that. “Maybe I can convince him.”


“Maybe. From what I know of him he doesn’t listen easy.”
Zaid cut in, “And it would require some extended magic, probably a ritual. Probably one he’d have to design, or get one of his witches to design.”


“And he doesn’t know how. Or he would have thought of it.”


The efreet laughed. “He’s a giant. No offense, but they don’t tend to think in intricate terms.”


“None taken. I don’t think that way well myself. That’s why I hang out with witches.”


More laughter. “Always good to know your limitations.”


While he was behaving, I almost liked him. “But Surtur might be…he certainly could do it, with sorcerous help.”


Zaid nodded. “The question is whether he will.”


Or whether he’d have to be replaced by somebody who would. “Would this…rebalancing?”


“It would remove some of their virtue, but still leave good blades.”


“Then he’d do it. If we can convince him it would work.”


“And if he doesn’t get some stupid idea of sacrificing himself or somebody else,” Zaid grumbled.


“He couldn’t get much more stupid than his current idea.”


I had to come up with an appropriate bribe for the efreet. Perhaps more than one. I might end up needing his help.


Hopefully not.


Hopefully I could do it without having to consult a guy who always made me want to shower after talking to him. But I wasn’t confident. He seemed to know what he was doing.


I hoped he wasn’t lying to me.


Episode Thirty-Two: Discoveries: Scene 26

It stayed with me through the next day. Yngva had brought a dagger. I wanted to keep it for myself.


It was beautiful. The hilt was well bound and it was equally balanced for throwing and stabbing. The steel had red in it.


Oh, I wanted to keep it. I certainly did not want to destroy it, and that might give me some idea what I was up against. Beauty.


Stolen beauty, of course. It was not mine and if I did not destroy it I should probably return it. But that didn’t stop me from spending time admiring it.
Then I tried to work out how it was made. Was the red in the steel fire or blood? I feared it might be the latter, but I sensed no hint of such sacrifice.


Fire, then, bound into the steel to temper it, to make it stronger.


To make it, I suspected, particularly good against frost giants.


Balgefa was jealous.


No, I would not keep this thing, as gorgeous as it was. I would not claim it for my own.


Would destroying it release the fire? I probably did need to talk to somebody else with fire nature.


An efreet, Zaid had suggested, but I knew only one and had no desire to ever be alone with him. Of course, maybe I wouldn’t have to be alone.


I called Zaid. “I have a dagger.”


“Want me to…”


“Call him. Just don’t leave me alone with him or I’ll end up slapping him.”
There was laughter from the other end. “That’s a motivation to do exactly that.”


It probably was, if Zaid was as annoyed with the guy as I was, but he was here, he was already aware of who I was.


He was the best prospect. While I waited, I stared at the dagger as if it would release its secrets to my gaze alone. It took them about thirty minutes to get here.


“So, letting me in your place?” the efreet asked.


“To help. Don’t get ideas.”


“Will you put in a good word for me with Derek?”


“That’s up to him. This is about stopping Ragnarok. And besides, I’m sure I can find something you want. Other than a kiss.”


Zaid was laughing silently. I gave them a dirty look, and then indicated the dagger on the table.


“Oh, now that…” He frowned. “That is gorgeous.


“You aren’t getting it.”


A laugh. “I don’t want it. But it is a fire blade…what does this have to do with stopping Ragnarok?”


I told him.


I didn’t want to tell him everything. But I did.


Episode Thirty-Two: Discoveries: Scene 25

We made it to my place without incident. “I don’t feel comfortable or safe.”


Clara nodded. “Neither do I. Danger sense is triggering.”


“Spidey sense?” Kanesha quipped.


“I don’t think we should all be together. Or maybe we should.”


Kanesha nodded. “Surtur’s going to show up, isn’t he?”


I frowned. “Or send more firepower. And they’re only ordered to keep me alive.”


“Then I vote,” Kanesha said, “For staying together.”


My frown faded. “Trusting me to protect you.”


“Right on.”


I glanced at Clara. “See what you can scry? Please?”


She moved to my table and started to set out a map and her tools. I kept my distance so my aura would not cause her any problems. Turning back to Kanesha. “Now is one of those times when I feel bad for dragging you into all of this.”


“I trust you.”


“That only makes me feel worse.”


“No. I really do trust you. I know that even if they…” She tailed off.


“I am not letting you get hurt.”


“Aha!” Clara interrupted. “I have a thought. Jane, get over here.”


I did so.


“Put your hand on the map. I’m going to steal some of your magic to find every fire giant in town.”


“I can almost do that on my own.” I did so.


“Uh oh.”


“The one right outside or the one apparently in the White House.”


“Yes.” Clara shrugged. “The one in the White House is probably a lobbyist.”


I laughed. “Probably.” But unless the one right outside was Yngva we had a potential problem.


I reached out with my power, ready to stop them from setting fire to the building.


The knock on the door followed. Kanesha peered through the peekhole. “It’s a woman.”


“Yngva! Is that you?”


“Yes!” she called in. “Whatever you’re doing, mind not doing it?”


I stopped. “Come on in.”


Kanesha let her in.


“Sorry. I thought you were hostile.”


“Dang. You’ve got a knack for that.”


I grinned. “Thank you.”


But the feeling of dread had not faded.


Episode Thirty-Two: Discoveries: Scene 24

“Did you do that?”


“I was only trying to short out the equipment on stage so he couldn’t use it to start a fire!”


“I think you tripped the main breaker.”


Of course, people were starting to pour out of the club. The fire giant was looking around.


He spotted us and stalked over, dodging around a taxi to do so. I stood, facing him.


“What did you do?” he demanded.


“Stopped you from burning those people out.” I kept my tone even. “Tell Surtur that I will oppose him at every turn.”


“That was original.” He glanced at Kanesha then Clara, but seemed to dismiss both of them. “If I wasn’t under strict orders.”


I half-grinned. “You’d fight me. It might be fun. Another time.”


He scowled at me. “You think it would be fun.”


“I enjoy a good spar. When and if we aren’t enemies any more.” It was a declaration that I didn’t plan on hurting him.


“Maybe I’ll…”


I smiled and lifted a hand and pulled as much fire towards me as I could.




I kept smiling. “You’ll do what again?”


“You’re stronger than he is.”


“Why do you think he wants me on his side?” A pause. “Of course, he’s going the exact wrong way about it. But…you have to understand the general principle.”


“I do.” A pause. “Screw this.” And he stalked away.


Clara grinned at me.


“Sorry for letting him think that was all me.”


“Nah, he’d probably try to kill me if you’d let on.”


She was right. He didn’t have any instructions about not hurting Clara.


“Still, let’s get out of here.”


We did, moving away from the club, which still didn’t have power back. Definitely blown the main fuse.


Probably done them a favor by helping them find a short or whatever the real problem was. A problem that might have led to a fire without any giant assistance.


But I felt a growing sense of threat as we moved away from the site. A feeling that even for tonight this wasn’t over yet.


I kept moving, but I was tempted to split from the other two.


Very tempted.


Episode Thirty-Two: Discoveries: Scene 23

Now all I could do was wait while Yngva did her thing. And work out how to repay Angrboda.


Oh, who was I kidding, I had to find a way to repay her with alcohol. Really good mead would probably do it. But it might have to wait…then again, Angrboda would probably wait a few years for repayment.
She didn’t see it as that long, likely. I did, but that was only because I still couldn’t remember things.


So, for me, waiting a few days for Yngva was still…waiting a few days for Yngva. I did manage to set enough lasagna aside for Kanesha, and then I tried to be normal for a while.


Until Clara called me. “Hey.”




“I got a good scry on what they’re going to attack next.”


“Good. What is it?”


“A club in northeast. On Friday night.”


It was Thursday. “Okay. So…which club?”




I nodded. “One of Thruor’s favorites. He’s probably pissed…she beat one of them up.”


“Ack. Okay. Let’s…”


“Let’s meet…is there a good place to get dinner down the road from there?” An innocent meeting of friends. Of course, if they noticed me, they might change targets.


I would if I was in their place. “And we should be stealthy.”


“There’s a pizza place down the road. Hole in the wall, but good.”


“That’s where the best pizza comes from.”


I decided that it was best if it was only me, Clara and Kanesha. I could do my best to shield the three of us, and Clara had witch magic to help. We didn’t know exactly when they would hit.
So, we waited, munching on pizza, and keeping one eye on the club. At first it seemed as if they really had sensed me and decided to move on.


Then I saw the fire giant across the street. A different one. No doubt they were hoping I would not immediately recognize him.


But the other side of that was that he wasn’t immediately recognizing me. I could feel him sort of reaching into the building.


Looking for something he could spark. And I had an idea. “Clara, can you set off the evac alarm?”


“Before he…I see what you mean.” A pause. “It would cause panic, I think.”


“Okay. Scratch that.”


I reached inside me for my own fire, felt it waiting and ready. It wanted to be unleashed, but that wasn’t my plan.


My plan was to divert his, to steal it. And he was starting to reach out…and I could feel the risk, the danger.


“The band’s equipment.”


Clara nodded. “I have an idea.” And she started to weave a spell.


I, meanwhile, tried to subtly draw off the energy he was building. I wasn’t sure what Clara was doing. Kanesha was watching the street for us. I hoped she didn’t feel too much like a third wheel.


And then the power to the club went out.


Episode Thirty-Two: Discoveries: Scene 22

Kanesha had class the next day. I had a shoot which took most of the day, but I came away with not just a good paycheck but a dress I wouldn’t really be able to enjoy until next year.


That was one of the perks. Random gifts of clothing. As Kanesha was working late I was cooking myself lasagna in the apartment, with extra for her when she got in. And, fortunately, more extra for leftovers later.


The knock on the door sounded particularly urgent and slightly threatening. Enough that I used the peephole.




It was Angrboda.


And a fire giant.
“Well, this isn’t exactly a normal combination,” I said on opening the door.


“She’s trying her best not to melt me,” Angrboda quipped.


“Good, I don’t want you melted. Or her frozen. What’s up?”


“You said you wanted somebody who could sneak into Surtur’s armory.”


I grinned. “I did. Thanks. You probably saved me a ton of time.”


“I can sneak in and steal something for you, sure. Or borrow?”


“Steal. I can’t promise I’ll return it.”


“Alright. I’ll make sure to grab something that won’t be missed. You plan on doing some experiments.”


I nodded. “I do.”


“Anything to stop Surtur from being crazier. If that’s possible.” She sighed and flopped into a chair. “There’s quite a few of us who are only not taking him out because…”


“Because none of you want the job and anyone who does would be worse.”




I glanced at the oven. “Lasagna will be ready in five minutes. Good thing I made plenty.”


Angrboda laughed. “I don’t want to take…”


“You’ll only be taking the extra I’m making for lunch later. Don’t worry about it.” Hospitality was important, after all. “I don’t have beer, though.”


“I’d have brought some, but…stupid Midgardian laws.” A pause. “Of course, you’re older than…”


“Don’t worry about it. I have root beer.”


And I tugged out three bottles of it. Surreptitiously warming one of them up for the fire giantess, of course.


Angrboda chilled hers more than the fridge before opening it. I grinned at her. “Good root beer,” I added.


“I wouldn’t expect anything less. So…”


“Give me a few days,” she said. “Oh, I’m Yngva.”


Yngva. Somehow I thought that name was important to remember. “Please don’t get caught.”


“I won’t,” she promised. “I have perfectly legitimate access and well, I might get into trouble for losing something, but it won’t be that much trouble.”


She seemed confident that she had enough…well…that she wouldn’t be arrested or fired. I’d have to take her word for it.


So, instead of saying anything more, I opened my bottle of root beer and took a swig.


It was, of course, decent root beer.


Episode Thirty-Two: Discoveries: Scene 21

They did.


“Thanks,” Zaid said. “I know you’re probably busy…”


“Honestly, it was nice to have something we could solve. How about we finish breakfast?”


We went back inside before our breakfast got cold. The waitress came over. “What was that about?”


“Oh, somebody took exception to Zaid’s…” I tailed off.

“Somebody doesn’t like people like me,” he explained.


“Thanks for taking it outside.”


“I wanted to come back here,” I said. “It’s good French toast.”
She grinned. “If they come back, we’ll ask them to leave.”


“Thanks. I don’t think they will, though. Kanesha practiced her black belt on them.”


The grin became a laugh and then she slapped Kanesha on the shoulder. “Those are always handy.”
And, somehow, our bill wasn’t quite as high as expected. I didn’t ask or question it. Instead, I filled Zaid in on everything that was going on.


“Hrm. Efreet make weapons using fire like that.”


“The only efreet I know hits on everything female in sight, especially underage.”


They made a face. “I’ll see if I can find a nicer one.”


“Thanks.” I let out a breath. “Any other ideas?”


“Surtur’s crazy.”


“I knew that.”


Kanesha rolled her eyes. “Maybe it is time to take him out.”


“Right. But I’ve had it pointed out that he could be replaced by somebody worse if we’re not careful.” Or by me. Or…well…I didn’t want to go anywhere else with it.


“Good point.” She glanced at Zaid.


“Well. Magic drain is usually a reversible problem. It’s not like fossil fuel depletion.” They drummed on the table.


“I’m going to try and get my hand on one of the weapons.”


“Call me when you do. I’ll bring somebody who can look at it.”


I nodded. “Thanks.”


“Hey. I owe you.”


I thought about that. “Like I said, it was nice to have a problem I could immediately solve. As opposed to all the ones I can’t.”


They laughed at that. “Welcome to adulthood.”


I decided they had a point there.


But it was still frustrating.