I had about decided the raven had only been a bird laughing at the silly human. I’d gone to an all ages club, using a bit of the money from one of the photo shoots. Ginger ale. I wasn’t going to be caught drinking under age.
I didn’t think many of the people there were over 21, either. Maybe a couple. Older siblings. Chaperones. Some parents worried an inordinate amount.
So, the man entering should have stood out like a sore thumb, but everyone’s eyes seemed to slide off him. And it wasn’t Loki. I had been sitting at a table. I pushed out another chair for him.
He didn’t look like I’d envisioned, or maybe he wasn’t looking like that in case somebody saw through the trick. I’d sort of imagined one-eyed Gandalf, all wild and long hair and beard.
His hair and beard were neatly trimmed and he wore a black patch over the missing eye. But it was him, and I knew it…and I abruptly wanted the floor to open up and swallow me.
“Relax. If you were in trouble, I would not have come here.”
“No, I’d be in the principal’s office, wouldn’t I,” I quipped. And if anyone overheard that, they’d peg the guy as my teacher. “I…okay. I want to know what’s really going on. That’s all.”
“Surtur found you.”
I nodded. “He hasn’t hurt me. He hasn’t done anything other than try and convince me you’re the real bad guy.” I brushed back my hair. He didn’t look like it, but I could sense…and I could sense that the power rolling off him was utterly controlled and only a fraction of the reality.
This was the Allfather. This was a being as far above me as I was above somebody’s dog.
“And what do you think?”
“I don’t know that I like what’s happening. Giving me amnesia and dumping me on the street?” I kept my tone quiet. Very quiet. I was sure that anyone who overheard…would be hearing something quite different.
“And what have you learned from it?”
Not the answer I expected. “That…there are still decent people, and then there are a few that deserve a sword in the chest.”
He laughed. “You have learned to appreciate mortals.”
“Some of them.” I still wanted to disappear, but I couldn’t. I’d asked for this meeting; I couldn’t run from it. “Loki still wants the world to burn.”
“He thinks it may be beyond saving. Do you think so?”
“Nah. Messed up, sure. In need of a few things being fixed…some of the rich guys need taking down pegs. But not beyond saving.” I saw a bit of clarity there. If I’d come here knowing who I was I’d have been like Thea, moving among them, not being one of them. And as much as I liked her, she had that arrogance to her.
“And who’s side would you be on if it did happen?”
“I don’t know.” That was the big question. This…being…I couldn’t even think of him as a man. I almost couldn’t see the physical form, now, for the aura.
“An honest answer.”
“I’d rather it didn’t happen…although I suppose…”
“Everything has its limits in time. Even we do, in the end.” And then he stood. “Make your choices carefully, Jane.”
I wanted to demand my real name out of him. I couldn’t. All I could do was watch him leave.