if you’re hangin around i’m holdin the noose

Posted: April 28, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

I hate to make all these “I haven’t been a very good blogger lately” posts off, but here we go:

Sing it with me:

I haven’t been a very good blogger lately. 

A lot of this has to do with internet problems I’ve been having (the Coyote Crossing cohousing web server was haxx0red recently, as the damn kids say, and because of that my internet connection has been… spotty, at best). But much of it has to do with where my creative energy has been going. I’ve got all these ideas for blog posts that I want to write, but about 60% of my creative energy is going into Lotus, and the other 40% is going into Daughter of Flame. Which means that I don’t write the blog posts that I want to write, when I have the time to write. And then there’s classes, and homework, and San Francisco Giants games, and sleep. Beautiful sleep.

I’m sorry about this. Here: as a token of reconciliation, here’s the first draft of the prologue to Daughter of Flame. It might be very different in the end. But it is here anyway.

~ Ian

(Queens of the Stone Age, “Song for the Dead”)

 

Daughter of Flame: Loki 1

He walked across the desert, naked in the burning sun.

It didn’t burn his skin. He was a being of fire, after all, and a little heat wouldn’t be enough to burn him. In ages long past, he had danced in the hydrogen-fusion flames of the sun, done the backstroke in magma chambers at the earth’s heart, raised his mouth to the sky and laughed as lightning burned vast northern forests to the ground.

It wasn’t the heat that bothered him. It was the light.

His eyes were accustomed to the darkness of Niflheim. Twelve hundred years in the freezing cold beneath the earth (with only a meager break of a month, nearly eighteen years ago, and what a break that had been), and his eyes were light-sensitive. Even moreso, because of the snake’s venom, constantly dripping into his eyes.

Step after step, over the hard-baked, griddle-hot ground, he walked.

The man was tall. Eight feet tall, and thin. When he’d been young, he’d reminded those who saw him of a bundle of sticks hastily cobbled together into the shape of a man. He walked hunched over, but even that couldn’t conceal the fact of his height. (Even so, he was considered a runt among his kind…) The skin on his arms and chest and back was ghost-pale and freckled, with pale tan patches the size of thumbprints dappling his body, and covered in fine blonde hairs almost too light to be seen.

His hair was the bright red-orange color of a wildfire.

His eyes were the dark yellow of topazes.

Around his mouth, like a ring of mushrooms or standing stones, were a series of tiny piercings, as regular and evenly spaced as if they’d been sewn there.

He had many names, and gathered them like a dragon gathers jewels. In days of old, men called him the Skywalker, the Smith of Lies, the Mother of Serpents, Baldur’s Bane, the Betrayer.

He was Loki, god of chaos and flame.

And he was free.

***

Eventually, as Loki walked, the sun began to die in the west. Just before it sank below the horizon, he came to a road that cut arrow-straight across the desert, from east to west. Not much of a road, just a two-lane highway, lined by a barbed-wire fence and a row of telephone poles, wire strung between them like a clothesline.

There were two ravens sitting on the barbed-wire fence, watching him. They were as big as dogs, and as black as the void of space.

Loki smiled when he saw them.

“I see you there,” he said. “Don’t think you two can hide.”

The ravens just watched him impassively, as only ravens can.

“Now, I’m going to give a warning to you,” he said. “You’re gonna go back to old Glad-of-War and tell him. I’m off to Jotunheim. I mean to end it now. I’m just passing through at the moment, but when I do return, you better believe it’s gonna be at the helm of a ship built of dead men’s nails.

“And, just to be clear that I mean business…”

He reached out, as quick as an eyeblink, and grabbed one of the ravens by the neck. It kawed in protest, almost more annoyed than afraid.

Loki brought the raven to his mouth, and opened it wide. His jaw distended as if it were made of rubber. His mouth was full of sharp, sharp teeth.

He casually tossed the raven in. There was the sickening crunch of gristle and bone as he chewed, and then swallowed in one gulp.

“That’s what the All-father will get, when I’m done with him,” said Loki. “Just to make things more interesting, tell you what: I’ll be in the land of ice and fire. Gathering my power. Tell Odin that he’ll find me there, if he can’t resist a challenge. If I know him at all, and I do, he’ll come galloping into battle.”

And Loki turned away from the raven. “Well, what are you waiting for? Fly away, little bird.”

There was the sound of wings behind him. Loki didn’t turn around to watch the raven leave.

Far off on the highway, there was the roar of an engine, and a cloud of dust. Loki stuck out his thumb.

A white sports car with the top down came roaring up at ninety miles an hour, and pulled to a stop in front of Loki. The driver was a man in a black leather jacket, with mirrored sunglasses.

“Damn,” he said, whistling. “How’d you lose your clothes?”

“Long story,” Loki said. “Nice car.”

The man grinned. Not particularly bright, thought Loki. Good. “Yeah. Good eye.”

“Fuel-injected V10 engine, molded aluminum chassis, seven hundred brake horsepower, can go from zero to sixty in just four-point-six seconds.”

“Yeah. She’s a beautiful machine.”

“She is indeed,” Loki murmured. “Give her to me.”

“Wh-what?”

“Your car. And your clothes.”

The man threw up his hands. “Hey, man, if you think I’m gonna give you my car, you must be out of your mind.”

“Yes,” said Loki. “I am.”

And he snapped his fingers.

The man burst into flame.

Loki watched as the man slowly burned, screaming, fat and muscle going up in flames, bones cracking with heat, hair sending clouds of noxious black smoke into the evening desert sky. Strangely enough, his clothing didn’t burn.

Loki waited until the man was nothing but a pile of gray ash, and then opened the car door, took out the man’s clothes, and put them on.

The man had been tall, but he’d still been a couple feet shorter than Loki. No matter. Loki took hold of the force of Chaos, and stretched the clothes until they fit him perfectly.

Loki put on the sunglasses, and sat behind the wheel of the convertible. It was now matte-black, with red-orange flames curling along the sides.

“It’s been a while,” said Loki.

He put his foot down on the exhaust. The car’s tires squealed, and the exhaust blasted gouts of blue fire.

He was free now. The world had been without him for too long.

Time for a little chaos.

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