We have a new chapter of Rum Cove everyday until the conclusion 7th June

Lot presents Odin with a hoop

London – 1844

‘A priest?’ Odin said, wrinkling his nose at the sight of Father Brennan’s church.

I leaned against the gate with my hands in my pockets and looked up at the tower I’d fallen off not all that long ago. ‘If you want to convince me you want your descendants to be part of your family you have to include him.’

He snorted. ‘I heard you don’t even like him.’

‘You heard?’

‘Always research anyone you let close.’

It was my turn to snort. ‘You’ve not let me close and I don’t plan to be. You can’t dazzle me with promises of godly heritage, I have no interest in that power.’

He came close. ‘Everyone is interested in power, some are just better at denying it.’

Josef stepped out of the shadows of the churchyard trees.

Odin considered him then shifted back. ‘Where’s the other one?’

‘Bran’s always best with some distance from a problem,’ I said.

He shook his head. ‘You could’ve done better than tying yourself to a coward.’

‘Bran’s the bravest man I’ve ever known.’ And sadly too morally upright to take pot shots at a twatbasket from his rooftop perch. I sighed. ‘As far as I see the only power you offer is the power to throw your name around. That’s not power, it’s an illusion, power by poxy. I gain nothing from it.’

‘You’ve just said you do.’

‘It only lasts as long as the power of your name does.’ My gaze shifted, the light inside him was ebbing quickly. I blinked and he was just a man again. ‘Far as I can see that’s not what it was.’

‘Freyja said you were impertinent.’

‘It’s the high point of my personality.’

He frowned at me as if he was looking for a way to peel back my layers and reveal my secrets like an onion. Josef came up close behind me and put his cane beside my leg.

I rested my hand on the pommel. ‘Brennan reckons family is important, I’m sure he’d be very pleased to have a grandfather.’ Not that he’d ever been interested in Merry, and Mary for years, one of the many things I was holding against him.

‘That’s a look,’ Odin said.

‘A look?’

‘A look that says there’s a lot of dubious water under the bridge.’

‘More dubious than The Thames.’ I swung my hand. My mental hand reached out and pushed the gate, it was heavy against my palm as if I was really touching it.

The gate groaned opened, scraping the path.

Odin tilted his head to the side. ‘Not bad.’

‘After you.’

He smiled. ‘Ladies first.’

‘I have a policy of not walking in front of someone who might stab me in the back.’ Unless it benefitted me for them to have a crack at it, I wasn’t sure I wanted a former god to try.

His expression was placid, the same expression I got when I was calculating. I wrinkled my nose at the thought of blood relatives trying to claim my loyalty based on blood alone like they were trying to capture me in invisible chains of obligation. I had no more obligation to a stranger who shared blood than I did any other stranger.

‘This can’t take long,’ he said. ‘I have a prior engagement.’

‘You can’t survive for long on this side.’

His eyes went wide for the briefest moment. ‘And how do you know that?’

I smiled.

He smiled back. ‘Very well.’ He tossed his cane into the air and caught it then strode towards the church. He stopped so abruptly I almost banged into him. ‘Have you considered what it’s a sign of?’

My breath hissed through my teeth. ‘That you’re really old.’

‘The world is changing, if we don’t change with it we’ll die.’

‘If you keep up this mysterious façade to try and intrigue me I’ll smother you and you won’t have to worry about it.’

He tapped my chest with his cane. ‘Supernaturals like you are the future, Charlotte.’

I brushed his cane away. ‘Lot.’

He looked me up and down. ‘You and your children are something new. Hybrids, changelings, there are more and will be more. The Morag might be dying but magic… Magic never dies.’

‘That’s deeply unsettling.’

He laughed.

‘Are we going to stand here all day?’ Josef said near my ear. ‘Even I get bored.’

‘He is quite boring.’

Odin shook his head. ‘You have my arrogance but you haven’t earned it.’ He stepped through the gate without getting struck by lightning.

I shut the gate without following. ‘I’m just getting started.’

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Published by Jesse

I'm a writer and academic specialising in fantasy fiction and creative writing theory. I'm allergic to pretentiously talking about fiction and aim to be unashamedly ‘commercial’. Surely all fiction is commercial anyway, or what’s the point in publishing it?

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