As promised, Chapter 2 of the upcoming title in the Ragnarok on Ice series is here. Before we get to that though, a real quick update. Blood and Arrows will be free this Tuesday through Saturday on the Amazon Kindle. You can head over to http://www.amazon.com/author/jeremycroston to grab it. Well without further interruption, Chapter 2:
The scene Chief Thompson was laying out for us was terrible. We had already known dad’s house was trashed from his fight with Freyja, but to hear about a body found in the front yard with a stab wound in the chest and a slash across the leg sent shivers down all of us.
“Have you identified the body Chief?”
“Yes Fred, we have. Boys, this might be especially tough for you.” He looked at both Stan and me. “The body is that of your teammate, Pavel Federov.”
“No…” What in the hell was Pavel doing over at dad’s house?
“I am afraid so Jack. He is in critical condition over at Manchester General. And before you ask, one the deputies already reached out to Kacey Jones. She is already on her way to the hospital.”
“What do you need from me Chief?”
“Fred, if you can tell me everything that happened, I need a place to start on all of this.”
Obviously dad couldn’t really tell him the whole truth, but he gave him a watered down version. He said he had been attacked by someone breaking into the house. The attacker had gotten the jump on him, but he was able to escape.
“I came over here to Jack’s house so I could report the call. When I left, I didn’t see Pavel or anyone else for that matter. Granted, I was running as fast as I could to get away.”
“I hate to do this Fred, but can I see your injuries? I need to rule you out of the investigation.”
Dad complied and took his shirt off. Bruises and two nice cuts adorned his body. He also had that bad gash on his forearm and Thompson took pictures. The rest of us said nothing. My thoughts were with Pavel and I am sure for Stan, this night had been already too full of surprises.
“Thank you for your cooperation Fred. If I need anything else, I will be in contact.” Thompson got up and left.
“I think a few of us at least should go to the hospital and be there with Kacey. The least we can do is be there for her right now, and our teammate.”
“I agree Jack. The two of us should go for now. I am sure everyone else here needs some time.”
Rumil was right of course. I didn’t realize how bad of shape dad was in until he showed Chief Thompson. I looked over at Stan and he was pale and looking downright ghostly.
“Alright, we will keep everyone posted okay? Valkyrie, would you mind telling Thor what’s going on? He needs to know Freyja is here and also about Pavel. He is his teammate too.”
“Yes, I can certainly do that. Stan, would you mind driving me over? It could give us more time to talk about things, if you would like.”
Stan pulled the keys out of his pocket. “It would be my pleasure.” He walked over to me, “Thank you for telling me the truth. I’m sure you probably thought I was going to turn you into the insane asylum.”
“You have no idea. Now get going, I’ll shoot you a text when I get to the hospital with an update on Pavel.”
With Valkyrie and Stan out the door, there was just one last person to make sure was okay. “It’s been a rough night for you, hasn’t it old man?”
“It has been a rough night for all of us Jack. I know you are concerned about me, but I will be okay. Now go and be there for your friend. I will be good here for the time being. I don’t think Freyja would be bold enough to try and attack again with all of us on high alert.”
“Alright, but if you need us, call.”
Rumil and I grabbed our coats and headed out. Manchester General wasn’t that far away, maybe ten minutes, but it gave us time to let everything sink in.
“I can understand Freyja attacking dad, especially after everything we did in Asgard, but what in the world happened to Pavel?”
“I do not know. Maybe he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. If he saw something he should not have, I do not think Freyja would hesitate in taking a life.”
The poor guy, cut down for no reason. It just gave me more reasons to hate Freyja and everything she was trying to do. Though another question was lingering in my mind, just what exactly was Pavel doing at my dad’s place? As far as I knew, he had never been there before or had reason to go there. Maybe it was just an awful coincidence like Rumil thought.
We pulled into the hospital parking garage and made our way to the intensive care unit where Pavel had been moved. All we had been told at the desk is that the injuries were severe. When we got to the ICU waiting room, Kacey was already there, crying.
“Kacey, are you alright?” Rumil ran over to her and pulled her into a hug. In no time, both girls were crying and in between sobs, I tried my best to hear what exactly happened and where things stood now.
“Rumil, it’s awful! He was stabbed by some sort of weapon right above the heart! They don’t know if he will survive the night…”
My heart sank, Pavel might die? “Does anyone know what happened or why he was over at dad’s place?”
“No one can say. Your Chief Thompson just said the body was discovered by a jogger. They got the EMT’s there as quickly as possible and did what they could on scene. The surgeon should be out any minute with an update on the surgery.”
All three of us took seats in the waiting room. There was nothing more that could be done for now. I closed my eyes and put my head down, lost in thought. Weren’t we supposed to be safer here?
“Look at the three of you, so glum. Come now, mourning will not help your friend heal.”
I jerked my head up and looked directly into the ice blue eyes of madness. Sitting across from us was my grandfather, the Trickster of Asgard Loki (don’t ask, seriously just don’t do it).
“Master Loki, what do we owe this visit for?”
He put his finger up to his lips to quiet Rumil. “Do not use that name here. For the sake of normalcy, the humans know me as Agent Lowkey, with the FBI.” He started laughing for apparently no reason. He did that quite a bit.
Kacey was sitting beside us! I had forgotten and so had Rumil. This was going to get even stickier I thought; that is until I looked at her and realized this was not the first time she had met my grandfather.
“My grandson and his beautiful chosen, it is always a pleasure to see the two of you. I do need to speak to you two, but I also require Miss Jones. Please, all of you follow me; we will have more privacy elsewhere.” He stood up and motioned for us to follow. A lot more questions were running through my mind. Was his appearance a coincidence?
We followed Loki until he turned into an empty conference room. No one seemed to even notice that the four of us were walking around freely. When all of us were in, the door closed and locked itself.
“Now this is better, free from the pesky ears of those around us.”
My Gramps was definitely an odd duck, so his behavior here was on par with every other time I have dealt with him. “You said you needed to see Kacey? How do you two know each other?”
“Questions, questions, always with the questions Jack! I will answer them, but hear what I have to say before you interrupt with any more.”
I didn’t like it, but I took a seat at the table. Rumil and Kacey followed suit, all eyes on Loki.
“This realm is in grave danger. The three of you have been chosen by the Allfather to be defenders of Midgard during this crisis. What I am about to tell you is for no one else but the three of you.”
I know he said not to interrupt, but I couldn’t help it. “What do you mean chosen defenders? Seriously, we need information Gramps and a straight story for once!”
He sighed. His eyes no longer held the maniacal twitch I was accustomed to. He just looked tired. “Very well, let me begin with the fact that Kacey knows all about Asgard and our crisis. She was part of a team that went to Washington, D.C. and retrieved the Allfather’s spear while you were in Asgard.”
I looked over at her and she was nodding. The sadness in her eyes told me that story was probably a painful one.
“The person she was assisting, both of you are already familiar with is Pavel Federov. His real name is Freyr, brother of Freyja.”
I rubbed my ear. I don’t think I heard him right.
“Your hearing is not an issue Jack. Freyr had long before abandoned his sister and the light elf Azmodeous to come to Midgard and hide out amongst the humans, like my brother Thor did. Once told how bad events had unfolded in Asgard, he agreed to help. Granted, I did not find out who he was until much later in the game.”
I tried to comprehend what he said. Rumil looked just as shocked as I did.
“After assisting me in getting Gungnir back to Odin, Freyr was tasked with one last assignment. He was to intercept and kill Freyja. Unfortunately, it would look like he failed in that assignment.”
This was just bad news all around. “Then who was the guy that was with Freyja in the Battle of Valhalla?”
“No one is certain who was playing his role, only that it appears Freyja has since replaced her brother. The Siblings are Vanir, offspring of Aesir and light elves. It could be possible, however unlikely, that there is another one out there.”
“Master Loki, what are we supposed to do?”
His smile returned. “Ahh, a very good question my dear! The three of you are going to locate Jack’s uncle, Jormungandr! His safety and well being are directly connected to the ensured survival of this realm.”
Rumil quickly threw her hand over her mouth. Kacey and I kind of looked at each other, like okay? I had heard of Jormungandr before, as dad mentioned him a few times, but I can’t say I really knew that much about him.
“Okay, I think Kacey and I are missing something here?”
Kacey, who had been pretty quiet this entire time, also spoke up. “I will not leave until I know Freyr is okay. He means more to me than any of this bullshit.”
“My dear, you cannot do anything for him here. His ultimate fate is currently resting with The Norns, not you or the highly skilled doctors this place of healing has.” His eyes were now full of fire. Mood swings were also apparently a trademark.
The way he said it made it quite clear, I don’t think any of us had a choice in this. “Gramps, you gotta understand, we are all scared out of our minds and have no idea what’s going on. Dad was attacked by Freyja, a kobold found us at my house, and the cherry on top is that Freyr is here.”
His look softened, “The situation is more dire than any of us know. Freyja is trying to open the gates to Muspelheim and release the fire giants. If released they will burn all the realms, including this one. The only thing left will be ash. So, I am asking, will the three of you help me?”
We each looked at each other and silently came to a census.