The storm outside had died about the same time the zombies threw themselves in front of the glass shards, and Thor had jerked me out of the way so hard, I was definitely suffering from some kind of whiplash, but at least I wasn’t bleeding.
“Forgive me,” he murmured, brushing glass from both of us, though whether he was talking to me or to Baldur, I wasn’t sure. At least Baldur was invulnerable. Sand had sworn a promise to Frigg never to harm her son, and I was pretty sure that applied to sand-in-glass-form as well. But Baldur was staring over our heads, or at least over my head, because Thunder gods, generally speaking, are usually too tall to see over unless they’re crouching, hammer in hand, and ready to lay waste to some enemy – in which case, no one in their right mind is looking anywhere but at said thunder god, unless they’re running for their life in the opposite direction.
“By Odin’s lost eye,” Bragi mumbled, also staring in the general direction of the doors. Mia was looking at me with some kind of panicked desperate smile, and I turned slowly, tearing my eyes from hers with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, to see what fresh torment the zombies had wrought that might strike Bragi speechless for a second time.
I was not prepared. I could not ever have been prepared.
“Don’t look,” I said to Thor. “Save yourself.”
But I could already hear the creak of his knuckles as his fingers curled into fists, feel the sizzle of static in the air around us and the tingling of electricity, every hair on my body standing on end. Thor had clearly already seen the zombpire makeout session, witnessed the ill-disguised tongue action, and insult added to injury, the vampire part of this two-man liplock operation was the very vampiress I had been sent to meet this afternoon. For which foolhardy adventure, I had spent the last eight hours of my life handcuffed to a chair, with pending charges of assault and three distinct violations of the Supernatural Peace Treaty of Aught-Eight, plus assorted fines.
“At least tell me this means the vampires aren’t going to be pressing charges,” I said to no one in particular, my voice a little bit strained.
“Quite,” Baldur murmured, then cleared his throat rather loudly. “Excuse me. Miss…?”
“Adler,” Mia supplied, with another too bright smile. “They do make such a charming couple, don’t you think? I mean, if nothing else, at least they’re nice to look at! Even if it is, erhm, a bit odd.”
Thor made a sound very reminiscent of a strangled rhinoceros. Thunder gods are very good at rhinoceros impressions when they’re angry. Inadvertently, of course.
“Charming?” His tone was deceptively calm, but there was no mistaking the rumble of thunder beneath the word.
“Oh!” Mia said, her eyes widening with delight. “Do you have a menagerie at the embassy? I didn’t realize Asgard had rhinoceroses!”
Thor made the noise again, his eyes blazing bright white. A spark snapped between Tyler and Adler, causing them both to recoil with a yelp.
“We do not,” Thor said carefully, and it was NEVER a good sign when thunder gods took particular care with their enunciation, “have a menagerie.”
“Er,” Mia said, her gaze darting to Tyler where he was rubbing his chest absently. I hoped he hadn’t been scorched. Thunder gods were very good at burning things accidentally. And um, on purpose, really, too. At least you didn’t have to worry about the charcoal not lighting. “So, I don’t suppose you have a room or two where we might stay? Or at least somewhere to clean up a bit? I know how you all feel about glitter of course, and I wouldn’t want to be a bad guest, tracking it all around…”
“Guests?” Thor demanded. “You did not offer them drinks, Baldur, surely!”
Baldur cleared his throat again, looking rather less shining than usual. “You have, have you not, gone to Ms. Hayson’s assistance, and received assistance in turn from her… friends. The bonds of friendship and hospitality having already been forged, I saw no reason not to make them welcome.”
Thunder rumbled again, and when Tyler tried to take Adler’s hand, another spark lit between their fingers.
“Um,” I said as Adler hissed, fangs exposed, and Tyler sucked on his index finger with a sulking glare in our direction. “I don’t think there’s any reason to be shocking our potential friends and allies-who-might-yet-talk-reason-into-their-vampire-friends-and-drop-all-charges.”
I was a little short on funds from the last bunch of fines I had to pay for Thor’s treaty violations and whoever wrote the embassy reimbursement forms was clearly determined never to part with any Asgardian gold. My money was on Bragi, because they were absolutely the most nonsensical, overly elaborate works of skaldic poetry I’d ever seen.
“Let me put it this way,” I said, raising my voice to be heard over Thor’s glowering. Thunder gods do not glower silently in the best of circumstances, and this was definitely not even close to the best. “If you throw away my chance to escape having to go to court for this latest brawl you started, I’m never bringing you to the invitation-only Festival of Mead again. And I’ll make sure you’re blacklisted from coming with anyone else.”
Bragi gasped, Baldur mashed his mouth into a line so flat I was SURE he was trying not to laugh, and Thor’s eyes narrowed.
“You wouldn’t,” he said.
I raised my eyebrows and crossed my arms. The art of hanging out with a thunder god is knowing when to out-stubborn them. And let me tell you, I have mastered my form.
The Queen and her Brook Horse, An Orc Saga Novella, Book 2.5, is here to tide you over until Orc3!
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Friday, March 23, 2012
Aesir Legal (IV)
[When last we left our heroes, Mia really needed a shower, Zombies and Vampires were in LURVE, and Thor pretty much blew a gasket. Not necessarily in that order.]