Baldur side stepped, trying to correct his position, but he was too slow. Sif knocked him off balance, sending him sprawling across the stone floor.
And then Tyler was there. He struck Sif squarely in a flying tackle and they both tumbled to the ground, Sif clawing and Tyler struggling to catch a solid hold of her body to keep her restrained. But the dog pile had already begun, the rest of Mia’s zombies throwing themselves on top of Sif, too.
“Well done!” Mia called out. “Excellent form! Oh! Watch her right leg!”
Baldur and Thor both straightened, staring at the mass of bodies. One of the zombies was trying to eat Sif’s golden hair. Solid gold, incidentally, which probably made it all that much more interesting.
“So, uhm.” I cleared my throat. “Can we peg her for treason yet? With Bragi’s confession and that bit about attacking me the minute I leave Asgardian soil?”
Baldur shook his head. “A threat is just a threat, common enough among Aesir, and giving Asgardian gold to Bragi does not prove she meant to break the treaty. Admiral Hayson is right. Your best protection is to obtain citizenship.”
“Well, obvs!” Mia said. “And then you can accuse her of harassment or insult or whathaveyou! All right and tight and neat as you please. Why don’t you skip the exams and just get married?” She flushed and glanced at me. “I mean, assuming that’s what you wanted, of course. Or else, you know, not. It is not as though we have ever thought of Thor as your Boyf. Erhm. Tyler! She is going for my shoes! Oh dear. I don’t think she can actually strangle him, what with his being already dead but – there must be some rule against attacking a zombie that’s under Asgardian protection, right?”
Thor was staring at me so hard I could feel static skating across my skin, but I couldn’t meet his eyes. Whether he loved me or not, there were still plenty of reasons not to marry a thunder god. Electrocution via too-close-attention being one of the top three. But as a business arrangement – a green card marriage – well. Marrying Thor made the most sense, really. Once I was his wife, Sif wouldn’t be able to touch me without giving insult and offense to Thor, which of course would be punishable in a variety of ways under Asgardian Law. And she couldn’t keep us apart, then, either, short of murder…
“Of course,” Baldur was saying, in answer to Mia. “I wonder that I did not think of it before now – assaulting a guest of the embassy, breaking the promise of our protection, both serious and dishonorable crimes to be sure.”
Thor’s shining brother clapped his hands twice, and silver chains sprang from the stonework, binding Sif’s ankles and wrists, and restraining her movements. She spat and hissed like a coiled snake, thrashing against the chains. Tyler was suddenly free, and fell to the side, gasping, while Adam collected the rest of the zombies, urging them back toward Mia and me.
“Confinement to your hall in Asgard, under the guard of Valkyries!” Baldur pronounced. “For Sif and Bragi, both, until such time as the Allfather may hear their defense and dispense his own justice.”
Mia beamed. “Fabsies!”
“It will do for the moment, at least,” Baldur said. Another clap of his hands brought Valkyries through the doors Sif had left open wide. They collected their charges, tossing Sif bodily back into the chariot, and manhandling Bragi with just as little consideration, and guided the boar back toward Bifrost.
“But there is no guarantee Odin will find them guilty, in spite of Baldur’s judgment today,” Thor said. “And once Amalia has citizenship, Sif will surely come for you, Mia. And your Zombies. And Sif’s curses are not so easily disposed of as Bragi’s.”
“Ah. Quite.” Baldur gave us all a nod and stepped away to consult with the Valkyrie frog-marching Bragi from the hall.
“If Amaliaz does not think she can pass the tests for citizenship, I do not see how the zombies and I ever will,” Mia said, frowning slightly at her glitterati.
“No,” I said, my heart sinking. “You can’t. They can’t. They never would. Unless – ” but I didn’t want to think it, never mind say it.
If I buckled down tomorrow, I could pass an oral exam, especially if Baldur tutored me. I didn’t need to marry Thor for citizenship, even if it would offer another layer of protection. But Mia – Mia and her zombies wouldn’t have any protection at all.
“You have to marry Thor, Mia.”
His face paled as his gaze slid over the zombies, drooling and pasting and chasing spots of sunlight and rainbows across the floor. Mia shook her head violently, her hands raised, palm out as she backed toward Tyler and Adam. “No, no, no. There must be some other way. One that will not involve lightning strikes and eyebrows being singed. Absolutely not. No.”
“She’s right,” a new voice said, and we all turned to look.
The god shone with golden light, the way his father did silver, and when Forseti smiled at Mia, even I felt blinded. The zombies all froze, mouths dropping open and strings of drool dangling from their faces. Baldur was beautiful and shining, but there was something even more striking about his son. I took a furtive step back, placing Thor squarely between us. Bragi thought himself charming and silver-tongued. Forseti actually was. His divine aura compelled compromise, and I’d learned the hard way not to stand too close.
“It would be the most base of betrayals if she accepted. But you need not fear, Admiral Hayson.” Forseti took Mia’s hand before she could stumble out of reach and bowed over it. “You can marry me, instead.”
“Ah,” Mia said, her voice very small, and her eyes very, very wide. “Well, all right then. If um, you insist.”
Compromise compelled. I pressed my lips together and said nothing. There were worse gods than Forseti when it came to a green card marriage. And at least his presence would go a long way toward keeping the zombies out of trouble. Thor actually looked rather pleased.
“Excellent,” Forseti said, beaming. He gestured toward the hallway, and all the zombies began shuffling in that direction. Mia blinked. “I can only imagine you must be desperate for a shower, Admiral – may I call you Mia?”
We watched them go, even Baldur rather speechless at Forseti’s expert wrangling of the glitterati. When they disappeared, Thor sighed, then chuckled softly, then laughed. I looked up, frowning, and he sobered at once, his blue eyes bright and clear.
“Now that Admiral Hayson’s future is settled and Sif and Bragi both are in custody, I would like very much to have a drink,” Thor said, his hand closing around mine. “With you.”
“Just a friendly drink,” I promised myself. But Baldur smiled and so did Thor, and somehow, I didn’t think I’d fooled them. That’s the problem with gods, thunder or otherwise. They make it completely impossible to lie.
The Queen and her Brook Horse, An Orc Saga Novella, Book 2.5, is here to tide you over until Orc3!
Facets of Fate, a Fate of the Gods novella and short story collection, is now in print and ebook!
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Friday, June 01, 2012
AESIR LEGAL (XIV): The Final Installment!
Oh dear. It looks as though Mia was about to be smote by Sif in that last episode, for suggesting an all too reasonable solution to Amaliaz and Thor's problems. WHOOPS! And now, THE EPIC CONCLUSION OF AESIR LEGAL!!!