Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Preface: Thoki has tricked his brother, Jormungandr the world Serpent into taking him and Lor to Egypt. They are now searching Heliopolis (Now part of Cairo) for evidence of ISFAT, the ancient chaos that existed before order. Thoki hopes to use this chaos to rule the world.
Lor is a Frost Giant. He wants to know if Paddington Bear is related to Rupert Bear.
When the menfolk came to Loki’s house, they were ready. Frey and Tyr were first in the door as Sigun quietly let them in. Thoki and his brothers jumped to their feet, each one stepping protectively in front of Hel. There was hushed conversation at the entry between Sigunn and the men, while the boys shook and sweat in anxiety. Fenrir was stronger than a fully grown Aesir, but he couldn’t best an entire hoarde of them. He was only sixteen at that, and while full of adolescent fire, he hadn’t quite quelled his fear of his elders. Jormungandr looked even less certain and his slight frame shivered at the sight of the warriors in full battle-garb. Hel remained seated, her expression resigned. What was to happen would happen. Despite her composure, however, her eyes looked large and scared, and Thoki grasped her hand and squeezed it.
Loki sat in his chair by the fire, smoking his pipe as calmly as if nothing was wrong. Only the slightest twitch of a smile in the corner of his mouth betrayed him. The fire-god’s eyes burned brightly in the dim room and he regarded his brood thoughtfully.
“Loki,” said Frey from the doorway.
“You forgot to say ‘bless all here,’ when you entered, Frey,” said Loki airily. “I’m shocked.”
“You know why we’re here,” said Frey.
“I know. I also know that you had to wait until Thor was away to do it. Didn’t want the lummox to queer the deal, huh?”
Frey didn’t answer. “Your spawn are to come with us.”
Loki caught Fenrir’s worried expression and gave him the slightest smile. Fenrir was his father’s golden boy (or golden retriever anyway).
“If it is Odin’s will, I have no choice,” said Loki, rising. He sighed theatrically, “… but you have to fetch them yourselves. I’m not the sort of father to just give his children away.”
Frey nodded. “I would have thought less of you if you were.”
Loki’s charming smile flickered and his voice became harsh. “Your opinion of me can’t get any lower, Frey. Let’s skip the pretense …from one outsider to another.”
Frey nodded. “As you wish.”
“Yeah, whatever,” grumbled Loki before turning to his sons. “Boys, we have some guests who have waived the rights of hospitality. Go greet them, won’t you?”
“You Jotun are coming with us,” snarled Heimdall.
“Fat chance!” cried Thoki, raising his fists in (what he hoped) was a threatening stance.
Unexpectedly, the room went silent as everyone — Aesir, Vanyr and Jotun alike stared at Thoki.
“Whattaya think you’re doin?” demanded Fenrir.
“I’m… not going with them either,” said Thoki uncertainly. “I’ll stand and fight with you rather than go quietly.”
“Go away, wiener,” hissed Jormungandr. “You’ll only get in the way.”
“Yeah, beat it, ass!” snarled Fenrir. “We’re busy protecting our sister.” The emphasis on “our” made Thoki shrink. He risked a glance back at Hel who shook her head sadly.
“What you just want me to give up?” Thoki asked.
“Boy,” came a kind voice over his shoulder. Thoki spun around to find himself staring up at the dashing Frey. The Vanyr was sporting a bemused expression. “Go back to your mother, young man. We do not want you.”
“You heard them,” said Loki, and Thoki turned to look at his father. “No one wants you. Go back to your whimpering dishrag of a mother and try on her apron. These men are after my sons and daughter, not a pale little mistake like you.”
“But…” said Thoki, his fists finally falling at his side as hot tears ran down his face.
“Go,” said Hel quietly.
The city of Heliopolis is one of the oldest cities in recorded history. It pre-dated the Pharoahs, and probably pre-dated pre-dating, for that matter. It was built upon, time and time again as it became part of the Old Kingdom, and then the New Kingdom of Egypt. It had sheltered Joseph, Moses, and (according to legend) the infant Jesus Christ and his Virgin Mother. The Egyptians, Jews and Greeks had given in many names that all meant “City of the Sun,” but its newest name, Al-Matariyyah “The Mother”, reflected this last legend.
“It all comes back to the stinkin’ Bible,” snorted Thoki as he rubbed his sunburned nose in annoyance.
Thoki and Lor. were wending their way through the dense shopping district in what was now just another district of Cairo. Here vendors tried to sell him freshly-cooked lamb, knock-off Prada bags and Bootleg DVDs of the newest Harry Potter movie.
Like Lor, Thoki’s passing from immortality to death to the mortal plane had unlocked a few secrets of The Universe, and one was the understanding that all languages were basically the same (on a primordial level.) This gave him the ability to say “No thanks,” to all the vendors and brush them aside, with an occasional, “For the LAST TIME, NO! GET BENT!”
“What’re we looking for?” asked Lor.
“We’ll know it when we see it,” said Thoki. He didn’t want to admit that he had no idea what they were looking for. Everything had changed so much since his last visit to Cairo which had been pitifully limited.
He’d once taken a school trip to Egypt in his childhood with the other young Aesir. They were in Cairo for all of 4 hours and one of those hours he had spent LOST, having wandered off from the tour.
Of course, it was all different now, even if he could remember what it had been like. For one thing there was glass in the windows instead of people. Cars crawled at a sluggish pace through the congested streets instead of chariots. There were tall minarets where once there had been animal headed statuary. There were ATMs where there once were flatulent cattle staring madly at you. Such drastic change was unnerving. It was a bit like when he visited Scandinavia again for the first time in over a millennium and discovered that it was now 3 countries.
“Is that what we’re looking for?” asked Lor.
“No, Lor. That’s a kebab stand,” said Thoki.
“Is that it?” asked Lor.
“No, that’s a parking metre.”
“That’s a crate of oranges.”
“This is hard,” said Lor with a grimace.
“Yeah-huh,” said Thoki absently while trying to shade his face with his forearm.
He looked a wreck these days. His hoodie was torn and stained, what was left of his tee-shirt was a mess of punctured cotton that was too thin for dust rags. His jeans were now so dirty and coated with grime that they wouldn’t absorb water — it just beaded and rolled off. The cuffs had worn off a few hundred miles ago and long strings of frayed denim trailed over his cheap canvas trainers that were practically sandals they had so many holes. Lor looked like he always did: politely confused. Still even his meticulous plodding couldn’t save his larger supply of clothes from wrinkles and moth-holes. In his dockers and extra-wide-neck polo, he looked like a telemarketer on holiday. The sun also didn’t seem to bother Lor. While Thoki’s pale Nordic skin (currently a bright crimson) was suffering under the intense North African sun, Lor didn’t seemed too bothered. He looked like a boiled ham on a bed of orange hair, but was none the worse for it. Thoki grumbled curses under his breath.
“Is that it?” asked Lor for the thrity-sixth time.
“That’s a public toilet.”
“That’s a…” Thoki trailed off as he took in what Lor was looking at. “…An obelisk,” he said finally.
His pale eyes lit up. They looked almost clear in his sunburned face as he brushed his white-blond hair out of the way. A phallic monument of red granite was towering over an expanse of manicured grass and trees. Running towards it as fast as they could, Thoki and Lor pushed through the crowds and dodged cars as they made their way to the Obelisk.
“This is it! I remember this being here last time I came! Braggi told me it was older than the Pharoahs, perhaps older than Egypt. If the goddess Maat confined Chaos to an earthly prison, this might give us a clue!”
“So it’s older than that beef we had at that café?”
“Possibly,” said Thoki grimacing as his stomach made distressing noises. “…Actually, could you point out that public toilet again? “