So no Drabble Wednesday this week, as my writing brain decided to work on stories other than a Penguin Apocalypse. I will try to buckle down this week and work on multiple installments so the rest of the serial is not so sporadic.
However, to compensate for the lack of the drabbles, I’m posting an excerpt from one of the stories I did work on this week, Three Elves and a Chicken. It’s a sequel to my short story A Twist in the Season that was published in the Christmas Lites VIII anthology. If you haven’t read that story this excerpt may be slightly spoilerish.
Three Elves and a Chicken
I stood at the gates of Helheim, holding a chicken.
Why in the nine realms was I here and not in my London shop?
A growl attracted my attention. Garmr, the realm’s giant guardian hound, padded to my side, teeth bared, and eyed the bird. The fowl squawked nervously, and I sighed.
“No, Garmr, it’s not for you. I did bring you a treat, though.” I pulled a small ham hock for my magical satchel and tossed it to the hound. “Here, enjoy.” The creature jumped, snapped his jaws, and settled down to gnaw on the meat and bone.
I inhaled deeply and shouted in the voice of a true god, “Hel, it’s your father. I need entry to your realm!” Then I waited for an answer to my summons, dreading the family reunion.
She took her time, but Hel made an appearance in her usual dramatic fashion: dark mist and frosty wind, with a hint of blood in the air. Yet, what she asked surprised me.
“Are you here about Sigyn?”
For a moment I fumbled, rigidly controlling my emotions, before replying, “No. We haven’t been in touch since she went back to Ásgardr a few years ago. Has she been causing you trouble?”
“She left you?” Now it was Hel’s turn to be surprised.
I shrugged. “Things were never the same between us after Narfi and Vali were murdered.” I narrowed my eyes and tightened my grip on the chicken. “Why do you ask about her, of all people?”
“So you haven’t come about your wife?”
What was going on?
“No. I travelled here to rescue three ridiculously inept ghost elves who somehow got themselves abducted.”
“Those three?” Shock etched into Hel’s expression and tone. “Why bother?”
I ground my teeth. “I made a promise.”
“Ah, I see.” My daughter smiled. “Loki always keeps his promises. Well, whatever happened, it wasn’t me.”
“And yet, they’re here. As am I.” I smirked. “I suspect you have serious issues with your realm, Hel. Anyone can wander in and out these days.”
Her face darkened like the soot over London and the skies above our heads turned black as pitch. “If you’re referring to Baldr’s escape, that wasn’t my fault. I was betrayed, but be assured, that miscreant was dealt with. I will tell you the same thing I told her. My borders are secure!”
My jaw clenched. “Who? Someone else has been interested in Baldr?”
“Sigyn. She’s here.” Hel tilted her head. “You didn’t send her? She’s demanding to see Baldr. She thinks he’s escaped again.”
“Has he?” Hel stared, anger and surprise deepening into her expression, melding with her quick temper.
“What are you saying? Are you accusing me of something?”
“Come now, daughter, I know you were enamoured of him once upon a time. And as you say, someone helped him escape a few months ago. I find it hard to believe anything happens in this realm without you knowing about it.”
“Well it did! And don’t think I don’t know how bad that looks. But I can assure you Baldr is imprisoned where he’ll create no more trouble.”
“Are you sure? He may be behind my missing elves. I know he has already concocted some sort of revenge.”
“Ridiculous. How do you know that?”
“The chicken told me.”
I held up the feathered monstrosity I carried, and it squawked in her face.