Besides, I had more important concerns. It didn’t take Bruce long to find the ice wine. I wasn’t even entirely sure what ice wine was, but it looked like white wine and was chilled.
Now to find a safe place to get her attention, one where her showing up wouldn’t be noticed and wouldn’t cause any trouble. I elected to go all the way to Rock Creek Park, and found the clearing where we’d confronted the cultists not that long and a lifetime ago.
At least they’d left me alone lately, I thought as I opened the bottle and poured two glasses. I sniffed the wine and then took a sip.
Anyone would like this! It tasted like…a lot like Idunn’s apples, except in grape form.
I paused to consider how I remembered the taste.
Then? Frost formed on the trees, a shadow crossed the sun, and she was there. Fair and foul, gentle and terrible.
I offered her the glass. Our hands touched as she took it and there was no warmth to hers, as if she was no living being at all.
“Siglaugr. I have a feeling this is urgent.” She took a sip of the wine and nodded. “Not bad at all. I have better. Next time…”
“It’s urgent.” How did she seem so nice? Oh, the grass froze when she sat down, and I could feel the dark energy rolling off her, but I also felt safer in her presence than in anyone’s except maybe Kanesha’s or my mother’s.
I absolutely felt that I had nothing to fear from her.
Hel nodded, then asked. “What troubles you?”
“Anansi got hold of an artifact our father stole. One that drains power from gods. I think Loki planned on using it in a prank. But Anansi’s enemy is Brother Death.”
Hel nodded. “And you fear he might weaken death. Death is…death transcends pantheons. Those of us who rule it are connected.”
My instinct was right then. “Is that sometimes the case with other things?”
She nodded. “Yes. There is a connection between Freya and Aphrodite, a link between Sekhmet and Smoking Mirror. But…you are right to be concerned. Touching love might weaken connections, it might start fights.”
“Tyz’vel did something to Loki and all the other tricksters…”
“Noticed. That’s exactly it. But weakening death…”
“Zaid’s concerned about zombie hordes.”
“So has he tried anything yet.”
She frowned. “Not yet, but I had…let’s just say I was aware, but needed to hear it from you. Take this.”
She handed me a silver disc. “If he attacks Brother Death, this will turn cold.
I nodded. “Thank you.” A pause. I wanted to ask her about the fire. I wanted to ask her about Kanesha. About Monica.
I didn’t. Looking at her I became very aware that I was in the presence of a queen of the Underworld and all the questions I had to ask fled my mind like bats when the sun starts to rise.
I could say nothing more.