Believe or not, here if comes.

After breakfast, Hans and Jinsoku joined in to help clean up, much to the frustration of the kitchen staff. Dave disappeared insisting that he was actually going to check on the condition of his patients, Number 13 close on his heels, even though she was using a crutch.

Once chores were seen to, Hans and Seidr walked along the ramparts, hand-in-hand.

Hans sighed. “I’m glad you came.”

Seidr whirled about, stopping in front of Hans and took his hands in each of hers. She looked him in the eye with a wicked grin. “I seem to recall coming several times. We never got to try ‘pawing animal’ though.”

≪If you two start going at it again, I’m going to go find a new roommate right now.≫

Hans laughed loudly. “You’re always making jokes.”

Seidr let loose his hands and shrugged. “Yes. At least no one wants to kill me for them here. I sometimes think they’re half the reason I was exiled.”

Hans arched a brow. “There’s a story there.”

Seidr grinned sheepishly. “Er, yes. And a long one. Basically I tried to convince my people that the only way we could be free of Thiassi was to stop striving for domination over one another and work together.”

Hans nodded. “And Thiassi didn’t like that.”

Seidr shook her head. “Thiassi never even took notice. Seems he knows my kind better that I did. They decided I was trying to grab power for myself or mad, or both. Fortunately killing an insane necromancer is generally considered a bad idea. So I was allowed to leave.”

“Doesn’t sound like a place I’d want to return to.”

Seidr made a false smile. “Its home, and they are my people. They weren’t always the class conscious, power grabbing, greedy, back stabbing lot they are now. That’s all Thiassi’s doing. If he could be deposed, our society might return to something a little less perverse. That’s why I wanted my own little hero, or at least that’s what I told myself.”

She practically slammed herself against Hans as she hugged him tightly. “The real truth, now that I can face it, is that I was lonely. And these last couple of days I’ve discovered that it wasn’t for a child. It’s almost like I’ve been waiting in that cave all this time for you.”

Hans wrapped his arms around her. “Gná said you would never leave your cave. Something about you being powerless outside it.”

Seidr humphed. “I let her think that. What I said is that I can’t use my powers. Not freely anyway. I’m a necromancer. Hel is, or was, Queen of the Underworld. Most of the spells I could use would get her notice and I don’t want that.”

They broke their embrace and continued their walk. “So why come to Aelfheim? Why not Earth?” Hans asked.

Seidr gave a delicate shudder. “Earth is far too dangerous. It used to be superstitious locals, now I worry about ending up in some lab.”

“Now?” Hans stopped.

“Well, you can’t get decent bacon here,” she said with a wicked grin.

≪Don’t forget canned cat food.≫

Hans chucked. “Which brings me back to why Aelfheim?”

With a shrug, Seidr commented, “The aelfs are closest to my own kind of all I’ve found in any realm.” Seidr frowned. “No, more like I’m closest to their kind. They’re good people, even Gná, when she isn’t scheming. I really shouldn’t tease her so. Then there’s the cave. I felt safe there and Urd’s Well gave me a purpose. Now if I could only get cable, it would be perfect.”

“Are you going back? To your cave?”

≪Of course she is.≫

“Of course she is,” echoed in the back of Hans’ mind.

Seidr squeezed his hand lightly. “Only when you do. I think it will keep its secret a while without me. For now, I intend to be the one to do your back in the bath and maybe your front if Gná’s watching.”

≪Excuse me? I don’t mind dry food for a couple of days, but if you aren’t back day after tomorrow, your bed becomes my sandbox.≫

“What about Bast?” he asked. “I don’t think she’ll take to being left alone for more than a couple of days.”

≪Yes, ‘what about Bast?’ I just threatened to make mess in your bed. Can’t you hear me?≫

“She’ll be fine.”

A hand reached up to scratch the stubble on his chin. “We’ll have to do something about getting you shaved though. I’m no good with a straight razor and I don’t imagine you’ve used them much either.”

≪Kiss him if you can hear me!≫

Hans came to another stop. “OK, I just had a weird thought. One of the elves shaved me the other day. How is it that they would know how to use a razor? They don’t need to shave their legs, um, that’s assuming your silky smooth legs are an example.”

That got him another poke in the chest. “Nice recovery. You’ve been in their bathhouse when it was full. Didn’t you notice that most of them remove all of their body hair?”

Hans shrugged apologetically. “Um, no, I tried not to look.”

That got him a hug. “I’ll get you some twin blade razors next time I go shopping.”

≪Ma’at’s Feather! I’ve been talking to myself all day.≫

“If you can go between realms, could you help me get word to my father?”

Seidr stepped back. “We’ll have to wait until the next full moon in Midgard. There’s a three-day period when it’s possible to go back and forth.”

“When will that be?”

“Twenty-five days of course, why.”

Hans shrugged. “I thought time was different here.”

Seidr frowned. “Whatever gave you that impression?”

“My friends say I’ve been gone for a month, but I’ve only been here a few days. I’ve been meaning to ask Gná about it, but the chance never came up.”

Seidr teased, “You didn’t even think to ask that when you were soaping up her back? I wonder what you were thinking of.”

Hans briefly felt the tips of fingernails in his back.

Seidr stepped back pursing her lip. “I’ve heard that Faerie Gates are funny about time.”

She waved a finger at him. “Incidentally, if you ever find yourself in Oberon’s realm, be very precise about where and when you want one to take you.” She wondered aloud, “I suppose Gná’s portals may be similar. We know she’s pulled people out of the past before.”

“That would explain much.” Memnir landed and perched nearby. “Greetings My Lord, Lady Seidr.”

≪Him again?!≫

Hans grinned. “I believe the two of you have met.”

Memnir changed into the thin black figure and inclined his head to Seidr. “I have been in My Lady’s company many times, though she has not, until now, known me for what I am. It pleases me that you each have found the other.”

Seidr turned petulant. “He’s spied on me sunning myself, naked.”

Memnir stood there, his jaw moving, but nothing coming out. With effort he finally croaked, “I assure you My Lady, my aspect as raven dominates. I barely took notice.”

“Oh? Now I’m offended.” Seidr crossed her arms and turned her back to him, nose tilted up in the air.

Memnir sighed. “Can I win this game, My Lady?”

Seidr chirped, “No.” She looked back his way.

“Then I beg forgiveness for spying and say that you are the most comely of women in all of my memory.” With that he bowed.

Turning back around, Seidr took Hans’ arm and leaned against it. “Coming from one with such a long memory that is a high compliment indeed. So, you are forgiven, kind sir.”

≪Hey, don’t be so nice to the bird man!≫

Seidr looked at Memnir through her lashes. “So, are you going to tell us that you know where Mjolnir is?”

Memnir again stood there, jaw moving but nothing coming out. It took several moments before he finally croaked out, “Of all beings I should not be surprised that you would guess my intent so quickly. But I must ask how.”

One arm wrapped about Hans’, she flipped the wrist of the other. “Madison has Thor’s belt. I’m pretty sure the iron gloves were mythical. The only thing for you to be eager about is Thor’s hammer.”

Memnir was speechless, yet again.

Hans shrugged at Memnir. “She does it to me all the time.”

“You want us to mount an expedition to retrieve it.”

His speechless state continued.

“And you don’t want Gná to know of your existence, much less that you’re involved.”

He started having trouble breathing.

“But you aren’t sure how to go about that.”

Memnir turned to Hans. “She’s good.”

Hans shook his head. “No, she’s great.”

≪I’m nauseous.≫

Seidr waved them to follow, saying, “You can tell me how wonderful I am later. We’ve got a mission to plan.”

* * *

Hel did not like what she had just seen.

She had her own scrying mirror, but had it set into what looked like a large TV. It had been that way for some time. She tried to keep up to date with current trends, and even had a number of fashion and decor magazines, in various Midgard languages, scattered on her coffee table with that in mind.

She’d actually been working on her image of late. Up until poor Fenrir had gotten himself killed. Keeping an eye on this Hans Madison was taking all her time.

She took her white, patent leather, high heeled boots off the coffee table and stood up. In “turning off” the “TV” it reverted to an ordinary mirror.

She looked at herself in it. Her face was no longer half black and blue, but instead very tan with contrastingly light makeup. She wore a matching mini skirt and sleeveless vest, also white patent leather, revealing plenty of tanned, maybe over-tanned skin. She’d done her blond hair up into a ponytail, just like Hans’. Maybe she could win him over to their side and put an end to this obscene war.

Striking a practiced “S” pose, she commented aloud, “You would be a little too dangerous with Mjolnir in hand, Hans Madison. I can’t let that happen.”

* * *

Za responded to her queen’s summons promptly, but only entered the castle’s grand hall in time to catch the end of a conversation.

“You want to leave?” Gná did not seem happy.

Gná was seated on a wide, backless, couch. She would be in an ill mood tonight. That seat always gave her a backache.

Madison explained, “An expedition, Queen Gná. With Seidr’s help, I believe I can find Mjolnir.”

Gná brightened. “That is good news. Captain Za, prepare a detachment to go with Lord Madison.”

“That won’t be practical, My Lady. We need to travel in as small a group as possible. Seidr can open portals as needed, but she fears that opening one large enough to let several pass may draw unnecessary attention. We will take my friend, Hasaki. Gordon will stay behind to take care of his patients.”

He was definitely up to something. Za wondered what.

“Captain Za will go as well,” pronounced Gná.

Madison hesitated. “Don’t you need her here, My Lady? To protect the castle?”

“If you are lost, Lord Madison, I may well as march myself and all my people into Jormungand’s maw. For all hope goes with you.” Za thought the look of sincerity on her face was almost good enough to even fool her.

Madison looked to Seidr, who nodded back to him. Za knew at that moment they were keeping something secret. Just what, remained to be seen.

“As you wish, My Lady,” he said.

Gná smiled. “Make your preparations. Take whatever you need. I pray your return is a swift as your leaving.”

“Thank you, My Lady.” Madison bowed, took Seidr by the arm and they strode out the hall entrance.

Za went to her sister’s side and commented, “They keep bowing.”

Gná made her little dismissal wave. “It is how they show respect. They do it to one another, so I see no harm to it.

“I do not trust that they wanted to go alone. Have a care that you are not left behind.”

Za didn’t mind that command at all.

“As you wish, My Lady.”

Gná fixed her eye on Za’s.

“I am aware that you will want to stay close to Friend Hasaki. Please remember my injunction against pregnancy.”

Za decided it wouldn’t do to have her relationship with Hasaki under Gná’s scrutiny. It might lead to questions she didn’t want to answer. Best to bring a different subject to the forefront of her sister’s mind.

“I think the ‘doctor’ is our biggest concern in that matter.”

Gná frowned, “Oh?”

Za leaned close. “It seems that he has addressed the needs of several last night. I have two warriors that yet walk with the odd gate that follows the use of long unworked muscles. If he were any shorter I would think we had a dwarf in our midst. I am told that he certainly wields a hammer worthy of one.”

This got a greater frown out of Gná. “And he has a charm to his manner. I see your point. Let us hope the knowledge that some aelfmen yet live will dissuade thoughts of crossbreeding.”

She stood and took Za’s hand. “You had best get packing, Sister. And do take care of yourself. I shall enjoin Tiek to remind everyone that now is not yet the time to start begetting children.”

* * *

Tiek looked about to ensure that no one’s eyes were on them. She elbowed her sister and held up a fist. The other hand ringing her arm about a third of the way down. Kiet’s eyes bugged.

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.