I groaned. My skull felt like it had split open, and then I groaned again, because I would never get all the glitter washed out of my brains if it had. Glitter of the brain. If I opened my eyes and the world glinted and sparkled, I was going to slit my own throat. And Mia. Oh boy was Mia going to regret this. See if I ever asked Thor to resuscitate her again. I sat up carefully, holding my head just in case it decided to roll off somewhere. And then I stared.Episode X point V can be found HERE, as per usual.
Zombies were chasing bits of gold across the room while Mia, with Adam and Tyler’s help, pinned Bragi to the floor. Sweat beaded on Mia’s forehead, because Bragi was cursing her with a surprising lack of poetic imagery. Not to say he wasn’t being creative, and I didn’t want to be Mia when the magic behind his words finally sank through whatever protection she’d rigged. So far, she’d be suffering from indelicate boils, an unwholesome interest in farm animals, and a plague of…
“Enough!” Thor shouted, thunder cracking so loud the room shook.
I moaned. My head was going to explode if he did that again. Thor knelt beside me, his hand finding the lump on the back of my head and his eyes flaring blue-white.
“Forgive me for not following sooner.” His gaze burned across the room to Mia, kneeling on Bragi’s chest, and then he stiffened.
Slowly, he reached out, picking a piece of gold from a mess of feathers on the carpet. A coin, stamped with Yggdrasil, the world-tree one on side, and One-eyed Odin on the other. Asgardian Gold.
“Baldur!” Thor bellowed.
The moment Baldur stepped into the room, the zombies gave up their chase for gold coins, stumbling toward his shining brilliance instead. There were dozens of them. Each one a never ending supply of wealth to the owner. Thor turned the coin between his fingers, then passed it to his brother.
The glow of Baldur’s face dimmed, then darkened, and I realized suddenly that I had never in my life seen Baldur truly angry. His eyes flashed silver, and his expression hardened, as if he had been chipped from stone.
“Admiral Hayson,” he said, his voice unnaturally calm. “If you would be so kind as to release my brother?”
Mia shot me a questioning glance, and I shrugged. There was no possible way that Bragi could escape, now. And the way Baldur was looking at his brother, I had a feeling Bragi knew better than to try. Mia clambered up off Bragi’s chest, brushing stray feathers from her pants. Tyler and Adam waited until she had danced back a few steps before releasing Bragi’s shoulders and legs. The god of poetry snarled at them as he rose, dripping glitter and stained with zombie drool. But he didn’t meet Baldur’s eyes, or Thor’s.
“These creatures attacked Thorskona and then me in an entirely unprovoked manner!”
I wasn’t sure if it was because he’d stopped shining quite so attractively, or because they realized his patience was running dangerously thin, but when Baldur stepped forward, the zombies parted like the Red Sea before Moses. He bent, collecting the battle axe I’d dropped after Mia had dropped me, and examining the blade.
“Thorskona was carrying this when she entered the room?” he asked.
Bragi frowned. “I suppose she must have been.”
Baldur nodded once, then passed the axe to Thor. “Admiral Hayson, you and your zombies are to be commended. Had Thorskona reached my brother first, I have no doubt he would be lying in pieces upon the floor. You have the gratitude of the Asgardian Embassy, and, I am certain, my brothers. Thor and Thorskona both are in your debt.”
“Er,” Mia said. “Of course! Absolutely my plan all along!” She beamed at me, and I glared back.
“I wasn’t really going to kill him,” I grumbled.
“With that axe, I fear the outcome would have been beyond your control.” But Baldur was still staring at Bragi, his expression cool, and his eyes unfeeling. “Though considering the nature of his crimes, had you presented yourself to me for judgment at once, I would not have outlawed you for the murder, only suspended your rights of visitation.”
“Generous of you,” Thor said, his grip on the axe so tight his knuckles had gone white. “Considering the fact that our brother appears to have been planning treason, the punishment for which, had he succeeded, could have easily been execution.”
“Forgive me brother,” Baldur said, “but while I respect and admire Amalia, as she is not Aesir, nor a resident of Asgard of some other breed, I must remind you that it is not her place to stand in judgment over any god, regardless of Bragi’s sins.”
“Bragi would have seen her killed!” Thor roared. “And you would punish her for challenging him? For facing him in honorable combat, when he slinks and slithers behind all our backs?”
Baldur held up a hand for silence. “That Bragi brought Asgardian Gold into this embassy is clear. Whether he did so at the behest of Sif, we cannot yet know.” And Baldur’s silver gaze shifted to Mia and Tyler, who were carrying on a hissed conversation, their heads together. “Admiral Hayson, Mr – Tyler. I must speak with you at once.”
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