No bacon?!

Hans was awakened the next morning by a handmaiden he’d not seen before. Seidr was already gone. He dressed quickly in the yellow tunic and bright red kilt she presented him with, tossing Seidr’s tartan over his shoulders. It wasn’t til he was outside the door that he wondered at how he’d been dressing of late.

She said little as she collected Jinsoku and Dave as well. What he wouldn’t give for the clean shirt, jeans, and running shoes they had on.

She let them out to the courtyard. A number of tables had been set up in it. Food was being served even as they were led out. Hans and Jinsoku were both amazed at the number of coy smiles, wicked grins, and promising winks Dave got. There was no sign of Gná, Za, or Seidr.

They were seated at one end of a table, Hans across from Dave and Jinsoku. There seemed to be a brief tussle over which elf would sit next to Dave. Hans didn’t recognize the elf sitting next to him, but she seemed more interested in being across from Dave anyway. That was entirely typical really, not that he wanted anyone’s attention but Seidr’s.

Hans kept looking about. “Have either of you seen Seidr? She was gone when I woke up.”

Dave rubbed at the stubble on his chin. Hans conjectured he’d probably gotten a shave last night or it would have been longer. Hans didn’t know anyone else, especially not his age, that actually shaved twice a day. Someone had once joked to him that Dave was probably born needing a shave. To their consternation Hans stated that he knew for a fact that Dave didn’t start shaving until he was nearly 12.

Dave looked about, too. “I haven’t met her yet, but Hasaki says she’s a real hottie.”

Seidr, wearing a plain, tunic-like dress and skirt of undyed linen, appeared between Dave and Jinsoku. She set bowls of boiled grain before them. “I trust that’s a good thing, Friend Gordon?”

“Wow! You are. I mean it is. Hello.”

Seidr released a winning smile. “I’m pleased to meet you as well.”

Hans shook his head and said, in wonderment, “Every time I wake up, you’re cooking.”

Seidr winked at him. “After a night in your arms, I wake up hungry. The kitchen was understaffed, so I decided to make myself useful. There’s not so much as a strip of fat to be found, but I did score us some eggs and cheese.”

Seidr set down plates of cheese and vegetable omelettes. A passing elf put down bows of gruel. Other diners put pinches of some kind of spice, or dried fruits in thiers. Butter, cream, jam, honey and maple syrup were also at hand. Flatbread also seemed to be popular.

Fortunately it looked like omelettes were also being made for others, too. After yesterday, everyone would be hungry. Hans wondered how long reserves would hold out, though.

She kissed Hans and said, “Save me some. I’m going to go serve one of these to Gná personally.”

She all but skipped away.

Jinsoku said, offhand, “The Queen doesn’t like Seidr all that much, not that she’s helping her case much.”

Hans arched a brow. “You didn’t say ‘My Lady.'”

Jinsoku watched Seidr’s departure a moment more before turning back to his friends. “Mmm. No. She said some disturbing things in her chambers last night. She implied that Seidr may have betrayed the location of the hall. And she wants me to spy on her as well.”

He heaved a sigh. “Plain, old racism. I thought I’d escape it here. Funny that Mankind approaches enlightenment faster than Aelfkind.”

Hans nodded sadly. “I guess that would explain the animosity.”

Dave yawned.

Jinsoku turned on Dave. “We boring you, Dude?”

Dave shook his head, as if to shake any further yawns into submission. “Huh? No. I, uh, didn’t get much sleep last night.”

Hans grinned. “‘Take a number’ back fired, huh?”

Dave blushed. “Did it ever. I’m booked for the week no less.”

Jinsoku frowned from confusion. “‘Take a number?'”

Hans smirked. “It seems Friend Gordon made many new friends last night. The poor things are having to take turns.”

Jinsoku stared at Dave. “‘Take a number?'”

Dave held his hands up, palms out, as if surrendering. “I was only planning to massage sore muscles, honest.”

Hans did a thumbs-up at Dave and said, with a grin, “‘Donka’ rides again.”

Dave scowled. “Hey, you know darn well I’m really called ‘Donka’ because of that pack I haul around. We were just kidding you, Jinsoku.”

Hans laughed. “Um, Gordon, did you ever wonder why you, the shortest guy in school, never had trouble getting dates, or why the cheerleading squad beat the crap out of that jock that was picking on you?”

Jinsoku shook his head. “The whole cheerleading squad?”

Dave made a raspberry sound. “Only six of them, I think.”

Jinsoku choked out, “‘Only six?’ Where do you find the time?”

Hans grinned evilly. “They smuggled him onto an event bus. He was kept busy coming and going.”

Jinsoku scowled. “Now I know you guys are joshing me. They always have a chaperone on those busses.”

Dave had a far away look on his face. “Yeah . . .” He shook his head. “Um, yeah, Miss Carlisle.”

Jinsoku’s jaw hung open as he held his hands about five inches from his chest. “Just how far through this list did you get last night anyway?”

Dave shrugged. “Well Hans and Seidr woke us all up so . . .”

He tallied on his fingers.

The second elf down from Dave, the first one Dave had rescued as a matter of fact, waved a numbered slip of paper, with a big “13” written on it. “I’m next. Right after you check my bandages,” she said.

Dave wagged his finger at her. “After I check everyone’s bandages, tonight. And that’s only if I decide you’ve got the strength.”

She pouted.

Jinsoku took a few moments to recover before needling Dave. “I thought doctors didn’t fraternize with their patients.”

Dave managed glare and grin at the same time. “You try saying ‘fraternize’ with a tongue in each ear some time.”

Hans warned, “Be careful, Gordon. These elves are looking to start a whole new generation.”

Dave frowned and gave a short shake of his head. “I don’t know about you two, but I always use protection. Anyway, Gná’s forbidden pregnancies until Loki is defeated. Something about not wanting children to be at risk.”

Hans frowned as well. “Forbidden? But how?”

Dave suddenly seemed more alert. “Well, it’s actually true that elves don’t age. They’re effectively immortal. What’s really wild is that elf women only ovulate at will. I guess if all you have to worry about is death from illness or injury, then a regular fertility cycle, even if it were only annual, would result in overpopulation in just a few generations.”

He paused for a drink. “You know they actually thought humans had so many children in a lifetime because they loved kids. I explained that’s usually the case, but when I got to the part about the monthly cycle, I thought some of them were going to be sick. They really can’t handle the idea of a woman becoming pregnant without wanting to be.”

Dave looked about and said, in a conspiratorial tone, “So, um, how did you guys do?”

Jinsoku leaned back, “It’s not something a gentleman talks about. Let’s just say Za seems to be the only one that isn’t treating me like I’m off limits.”

A bowl of fruit was set before them. Jinsoku snagged the apple from the top.

Hans leaned toward Jinsoku. “The two of you didn’t even notice when Seidr opened the door on you.”

He leaned closer and asked, “What about your meeting with the queen?”

Jinsoku choked on a piece of apple momentarily. He held his hands up. “I swear, Dude, all we did was talk.”

Dave asked, “And you, Madison? I head a lot of noise coming from your room.”

Seidr joined them, making the elf next to Hans move down. “He was his usual wonderful self, of course. Mind you, his only other prospect about here is Gná. No other woman dares touch him lest she incur the queen’s wrath.”

She paused thoughtfully, finger to her chin. “Hmm. Maybe she’d stop ‘busting my chops’ if I let her have a go at you. At least my child would have a sibling and playmate.”

≪Oh that’s all I need in my life, two tail pullers sired by a god slayer.≫

Hans found himself speechless.

Jinsoku looked Hans in the eye, “A word of advice, Madison, from a guy that’s been married a few times. Always let your woman know who’s boss. The correct phrase is, ‘Yes Dear.'”

Dave asked, “Is there a plural form?”

Hans shook his head. “Wise guys.”

Next: in editing

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Copyright AndyOH! (Andrew F. Odendhal)
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This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to persons living or dead is coincidental.