Wlvn, his family, and Laurel rode straight to the dome and dismounted just beyond the Titan’s reach. They looked in the distance. There were a couple of Elenar fighters in the air, zipping about, trying to get a clear shot on the Gott-Druk below. It looked hard, because Wlkn and company had gathered a hundred or more men who were trying to catch and kill any stray Gott-Druk they could find. Wlvn felt sorry there would be a human toll, but he prayed that this might be the end of the Children of Layette.
In another corner, Thor and Tyr had a protesting Loki by the arms, and Vry stood behind the group, just in case the god should wriggle free. Wlvn remembered the last time Loki wriggled free, they had to chase him down over half the earth. Of course, that would be about 2700 years in the future. Wlvn sighed. Sometimes he wished his memory would run in chronological order, but he imagined there was nothing he could do about that.
Baldur and Nana were by Eir’s cage and setting the girl free. She still looked to be about thirteen or fourteen years old, but Wlvn knew the gods aged slowly. She might be seventy, and she might have spent most of her life in a cage. Wlvn got angry and looked up at the Titan. Curiously, he had little room in his heart to feel afraid. When he went away and let Nameless take his place, the anger that filled him became a fire, and the earth itself trembled briefly beneath his feet.
Ymir stared at everything going on, but it looked clear that he did not understand what was happening. Laurel held the horses back, not that they needed the encouragement. Gndr looked petrified. He had his mouth open and drooled, slightly. Strn had his hands over his eyes. Brmr shot pure hatred at the Titan and looked like she wanted to prove the expression “if looks could kill,” but at the same time, she kept back where she could be surrounded by Shana’s protective arms. For one moment, Nameless saw the Swan Princess protecting her little gosling under her wing. That helped him settle his rage and brought the task into sharp focus.
He looked up and shouted. “Hey Moron! Ymir! Yeah you.”
Ymir looked away from all the confusing activity in the distance and looked down at something he could better comprehend. His mouth immediately began to drool and Gndr closed his mouth with a snap in response.
“Have you brought me treats little god? They look young and very sweet.”
“No, I have come to kill you,” Nameless said, and drew his sword.
Ymir paused and then laughed a great, rumbling laugh. “You cannot kill me. I have Odin’s promise.”
“So, you don’t mind if I take three chances. I tell you what, give me three tries, and if I fail, then you can eat the three children.” He mumbled, “If you can catch them,” but no one except maybe Laurel, heard.
“Wlvn. No. No!” Brmr and the boys yelled and called Nameless by the name they knew. But Shana wisely pulled Strn close and that made Gndr also move near, and she spoke.
“Trust your brother.”
“Maybe I eat them now,” Ymir said.
“Why? Are you afraid? I ask for three chances. Or do I need to tell everyone in heaven and on earth that Ymir is a coward?”
Ymir paused his hand. “I am not afraid.”
“Of course. You have Odin’s promise. So, I get three chances to try and kill you.”
Ymir paused to think. It looked painful on that face. “What is three?”
Nameless took Wlvn’s brothers and sisters and compelled them to stand apart and keep quiet while he touched each on the head. “One, two, three,” he said.
“Little god, you cannot kill me. I have Odin’s promise.” Apparently, that much got ingrained in the Titan’s head.
“Good. Are you ready for try number one?”
Ymir took a moment before he stood up straight and smiled. “I am ready, little god.”
Nameless leapt until he was above the Titan’s head. At the last moment, he traded places with Wlvn and brought the sword down on the Titan’s soft spot in his skull. The sword bounced off, and Wlvn barely held on to it as he got thrown back. He traded back to Nameless as he landed on his two feet beside the children. He did not expect Wlvn to be able to do the deed. He had been graced by too many of the gods.
Ymir laughed. “Haw. Haw.”
“That is the first try,” Nameless said.
“So, I eat one?” Ymir did not seem sure how this game would be played
“Not yet. I have two more chances.” He compelled Gndr to go with him to a spot just outside the Titan’s peripheral vision. “But we will put this one here, out of the way, so we don’t lose count.”
“I want to eat one.”
“Two more chances first. You don’t want to be called a cheater.”
Again, Ymir thought, and it looked like a headache coming on. “I will not cheat.”
“Ready?” Nameless said, and hardly waited. He leapt again, but this time he traded places with the Storyteller, the most human, unempowered, unmagical lifetime he presently remembered. The Storyteller thought of himself, “that’s me. Mister Dull.” Then the sword came crashing down, but again it bounced off and the Storyteller could not fly like Wlvn. He lost his grip on the sword, but Nameless returned to grab it and land once again on his feet. He thought, if mister dull could not make a dent, that explained at least something of what it meant to be counted among the gods.
Nameless brought Strn to stand with Gndr and effectively kept their mouths closed and their feet glued to the spot just outside the Titan’s vision. To be sure, he could not be exactly certain what the Titan saw. Ymir did not appear to have noticed the change in people pounding on his head. He checked his sword as he walked back to where Brmr and Shana stood. Brmr was in tears.
“Hurry up,” Ymir roared. “You are making me hungry.”
“But I have one more try. Isn’t this a fun game?”
“Fun when I feast.” The Titan grinned. Not a recommended sight. Fortunately, the grin did not last long. “But, hey! You said one more turn but there are more than one left.”
One and more than one, Nameless thought. Good counting system. He spoke. “Shana is a Swan Princess. She is not part of this contest. And Laurel is an elf. You only get the humans.”
“I could still eat them,” Ymir insisted.
“Maybe another time.” Nameless shook his head. “First we deal with the humans,” he said, and he hoped the boys were ready. He said it out loud, “Ready?” Ymir stood up straight and too tall.
“One more try,” the Titan said, and Nameless leapt, but as the sword came down he disappeared and Strn an Gndr found their hands on the hilt of the elf blade. With their utterly human guidance, the elf-forged blade easily sliced through the Titan’s soft spot at the forehead and continued through the brains until it disappeared inside all that jelly-like substance and the boys lost their grip.
Ymir put his hands up to his head, but the boys were already back on their feet beside Brmr and Shana. “Ungh” Ymir tried to speak before his eyes rolled up and he fell to the ground, stone dead. Loki voice became the only sound that could be heard above the crash and rumbling of the earth.
Nameless briefly thought the god needed to deepen his voice for that real Darth Vader sound when Eir flew into his arms. She wrapped her legs around his waist, her arms around his neck, and planted her lips on his and did not let go. The only thing Nameless thought after that was this was no thirteen or fourteen-year-old kiss. They stayed that way while her parents, Baldur and Nana walked up to join them.
“He asked for her hand in marriage,” Baldur said.
“But she is just a child,” Nana protested.
Baldur nodded. “But she won’t always be so,” he added.
Then Brmr tugged on the skirt of Nameless’ armor. “Wlvn,” she called him. “You already have a wife.”
“Oh.” Nameless and Eir let go and slowly stepped away. They looked into each other’s eyes and all the promise in the world was there. Then Nameless spoke.
“You are right.” He went away and let Wlvn come home. Wlvn immediately turned to Shana. “Sorry.”
Shana came in as close as she could around the baby, having just had an example of how it was done. With a glimpse at Eir she said, “Nothing to apologize for. I didn’t marry Nameless. Only you.” And they practice their own version of a lip lock. In fact, they were still working on it when Wlkn and Elleya, Boritz and Andrea, Badl and Moriah rode up and thought to join them. All was quiet, until Gndr and Strn began to argue about whose hand mostly killed the Titan.
Brmr turned to Mother Vrya, who arrived and was the last god present, the others having gone their way. Mother Vrya put her arm around Brmr’s shoulder and smiled. “As my son has been known to say, I love it when a plan comes together.”
The other half of the story. Flern and her friends have their own quest ahead of them if Flern can find the courage to be herself. Until then, Enjoy, and Happy Reading.