Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ep 15: The Fourth Son

Recap: Thoki wants to get to the obelisk of Heliopolis to see if there are any clues to finding ISFAT, the primordial chaos. Hermes and Robin Goodfellow are trying to stop Thoki from realizing his plan ; they’re worried that ISFAT could undo the fabric of reality. Currently Hermes has Lor in his sway with the help of a plush piglet named Mr. Babbington.

Hermes waved the plush piglet tantalizingly in front of Lor. Lor’s tiny currant eyes were alight with child-like wonder.

“That’s right, Lor. Be a good giant and put Thoki down. Then you and Mr. Babbington can go play,” he said in his deep musical voice.

Lor seemed powerless to object as his large hammy hand reached onto his shoulder and lifted Thoki by the collar of his shirt.

“WOAH! HEY! PUT ME DOWN!” screamed Thoki fighting both Lor’s hand and his strangling collar. “Lor!” he pleaded, “Don’t listen to him! Snap out of it, buddy!” Lor’s arm continued in its slow deliberate arc towards the steps where Hermes and Goodfellow were waiting.

“That’s it, Lor. Mr. Babbington is very pleased,” said Hermes watching Thoki eagerly. A dark delight was stealing over his handsome features and his eyes flickered dangerously. Thoki glared at the Greek with unadulterated hatred.

Alright, you feather-footed freak, Thoki thought. Two can play this psychotic game.

“Lor! Don’t do it! It’s a trap!” cried Thoki.

Lor actually paused this time. “Trap?”

“Can’t you see that their forcing Mr. Babbington to say those things?” moaned Thoki in an overly theatrical voice.

“They are?” asked Lor, eyes wide.

“What are you doing?” hissed Hermes, frowning.

“Mr. Babbington is their prisoner, Lor!” Thoki wailed like a sibyl.

“No he’s not!” insisted Hermes in a childish whine.

A sudden thought struck Thoki and he manipulated his voice to sound high and squeaky. (It also had a British accent for some reason.) “It’s too late for me, Lor! Save yourself!”

“Mr. Babbington?” cried Lor aghast. His eyes began to tear as he surveyed the little fluffy pig in Hermes’ hands. The Greek was staring at the doll in shock.

“But I—”

“Be brave Lor! This is how I want to go!” said Thoki in Mr. Babbington’s voice.

This was more than Lor could stand and the giant burst into noisy tears. Large drops cascaded down his cheeks and pooled in his thick red beard.  Unbeknownst to Hermes, despite the fact that Lor was mourning the fate of an inanimate pink piglet, a fire was slowly being banked in his stegosaurus-sized brain.

“Tell my wife I love her!”  squeaked Thoki, pushing Lor further. This time Lor went over the edge.


Hermes didn’t have time to move out of the way before Lor swatted him 30 meters into an ornamental palm tree. The pig turned a few lazy circles in the air, before landing in the giant’s waiting hands.

“I’ve got you, friend!” cooed Lor, hugging the pig tightly.

“Well done, Lor,” laughed Thoki, grinning at Hermes trying to pick himself off the ground.

“Another crumpet, Mr. Crowley. I haven’t eaten since Rome Fell,” the God mumbled in Greek before giggling and falling over.

Thoki shook his head, before remembering that he had TWO tricksters to deal with.

“You want a taste, Puck?” Thoki snarled at the other.

“Not particularly. NOW!” shouted Goodfellow. A long white ribbon fell over Lor. Two shadowy figures darted out from behind the obelisk. Thoki recognized the American brothers, Raven and Coyote, as each grabbed a ribbon end and circled Lor like a maypole.

Lor was trapped in his embrace with Mr. Babbington as the cords bound his arms to his body. Thoki could only look on helplessly as Coyote and Raven pulled the ribbon taut. The brothers exchanged a high-five before joining Goodfellow. Oberon’s son took the ends with them and pulled until his muscular arms rippled like cooking bacon. In a few short moments, Lor had tumbled to the concrete.

Lor struggled and grunted against his bonds, but it was no use. Thoki was speechless. He had seen Lor break out of ropes before, even chains and those little plastic garbage-ties the police used (if he was given a few goes).  But this simple silk ribbon didn’t even stretch.

“What the hell did you tie him up with?” shouted Thoki.

“A special cord, Thoki,” said Hermes limping towards the other tricksters. “You might be familiar with it. It’s made from a cat’s footstep, a woman’s beard, the roots of a mountain, the sinew of a bear, the breath of a fish, and…”

“…The spittle of a bird,” finished Thoki feeling lightheaded. It was the cord that had bound his brother Fenrir all those years ago and kept him prisoner until Ragnarok. “Gleipnir,” he breathed.

“Yes,” said Hermes his face contorted with glee and pain. He was clutching his chest like a few ribs had been broken and his leg had taken a good deal of punishment as well.

“But how did you get Gleipnir?” asked Thoki.

“FROM ME,” came a raspy voice behind Thoki. Spinning around Thoki saw a large hulking shadow loping towards him. Thoki broke into a cold sweat as his eldest brother, Fenrir advanced on him. If Thoki thought Lor was huge, it was nothing compared to Fenrir. The wolf-man wasn’t much taller, but he seemed to take up so much space. His presence was like a black hole that sucked in all rational thought, leaving you petrified. You felt powerless to move or think — there was nothing to do but stare at him blankly until he ripped out your throat.

“Hello, runt,” said Fenrir through pointed canines.

“Hello Fe—” Thoki wasn’t given the chance to finish as Fenrir lunged for him. Thoki wasn’t ready, but some part of his brain was, for he leaped out of the way just in time to avoid his muscle-bound brother. Fenrir was strong, but slow, and it took him a moment to stop his momentum.  He managed to bank a wide turn before rounding on Thoki again but “the runt” was prepared this time.

Thoki leaped on top of one of the cement pylons around the obelisk and jumped over his brother. This time, Fenrir used the pylon to make a tight turn, ripping the post out of the ground as he did so. The four tricksters only just had time to jump out of the way as Thoki scrambled towards the Obelisk.  

He had intended to leap down again, before Fenrir could rally, but a glyph on the obelisk distracted him. There, in the ancient sandstone, nearly worn away from the wind and rain of the ages, was the word, ISFAT.

Thoki froze and tried to read the rest just as a large meaty hand slammed his face against the red rock. He felt a hot and cold sensation in his face along with a dull burning, and he knew his nose was broken. He felt something hard rolling around in his mouth and spit out a tooth. Thoki tried to make sense of what had just happened but everything was a swirling miasma in his head, muddled further by the wooshing sound in his ears.  Then he heard Fenrir’s laughter and remembered.

“Are you going to kill me?” asked Thoki.

“Probably,” said Fenrir. “You didn’t listen to my warning.”

“I’ve never listened to you,” said Thoki.

“True. I always had to do this, first,” said Fenrir, grabbing Thoki’s thin wrist and rotating the arm. There was a sickening snap of tendons and the scrape of bone against bone.

Thoki screamed. He’d tried to keep it in — he’d really tried —but the pain was more than he could bear and it burst out of his chest and went flying into the night sky.

Lor heard it and sobbed.

Hermes stopped laughing and succumbed to his own injuries.

Goodfellow covered his ears.

Raven and Coyote drew a little closer to each other — suddenly the night didn’t seem on their side anymore.

Even Fenrir blanched as the echoes of Thoki’s cry bounced off the huddled buildings and minarets. Slowly lights began to illuminate the windows. People were shouting into the darkness.

“Who’s out there?”

“Are you alright?”

“Do you need an ambulance?”

“No! Call the police!”

Only seconds later there was the wail of sirens and the flash of cruiser lights.

The humans were taking the night back.

Fenrir, felt the unfamiliar paroxysms of fear and relaxed his grip on Thoki. Thoki struggled out of his hairy hands and ran. He’d only gotten a few feet when he remembered Lor strung up like a honey-baked ham and ran back. Thoki thrust his dislocated arm inside his open shirt to keep it from moving around as he jumped over pylons and wrought irons chains to the dais where the obelisk sat. Fenrir and the tricksters were gone, but Lor was still in a rolled-up heap on the concrete, struggling against the unbreakable ribbon.

“Hang on, Buddy, I’ll get you out!” said Thoki in a choked voice as his free hand struggled uselessly against the bonds. He heard voices shouting and Arabic and approaching footfalls. The humans were coming. He began to panic and tugged fruitlessly. Hot tears rolled down Thoki’s face, mingling with the congealing blood from his broken nose. He couldn’t even slip a finger under the cords.

“Go, Thoki! Take Mr. Babbington,” said Lor mournfully as his bulk strained against the ribbon to shift the pink piggy. Thoki pulled with tremendous effort and managed to get the toy out of Lor’s grip. Hope buoyed at the possibility that Lor might have some wiggle room now, but it was dashed as he heard the clatter of shoes surround him and the clicking of hand guns.

“Police! Freeze!” shouted a policeman.

Thoki sighed, rose to his feet and put his good hand in the air still holding Mr. Babbington, while the other flopped limply at his side.

“You’re under arrest for disturbing the peace, destruction of government property, and trespassing on national park grounds.”

Thoki nodded and stepped forward.
That was when he felt a sharp tug on the sleeve of his elevated hand. To his utter surprise (and the surprise of the policemen) he was pulled into the air. He felt the fibres of his loose cotton shirt start to tear and that’s when the dropping sensation took over. He was plummeting towards the obelisk when he felt his backside land on something hard, but pliant… and moving.

Daring to open his eyes again, Thoki realized that he was on a horse …and the horse was flying. Anxiously he looked around for a rider, expecting to find a Valkyrie behind him, but he was alone. A sudden thought struck him and with utmost care (made all the more imperative by the lack of a saddle) looked down to count the horse’s legs.

“One, two, three, four… five… six… seven… eight —SLEPNIR!!”  he shouted, hugging the Horse’s neck warmly. Thoki’s little brother, Slepnir the eight-legged horse, whinnied in response.