Temple of Kraden News:
Chapter One: Join Together
Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.
A van was driving across the American countryside toward rural Kentucky. The driver was Martin Novida, and he was singing along with the radio. The problem was, Martin Novida was singing along with the radio. “Fly by night away from here!” he “sang”, although to call it singing would be to glorify the screeches coming from his mouth. “Change my life again!” Most of the rest of the van’s occupants had their fingers in their ears. “Fly by night, good bye my dear! My ship isn’t coming and I just can’t pretend! My ship isn’t coming and I just can’t pretend! My ship isn’t coming and I just can’t prete-e-yeh-end!”
Everyone in the car let out a sigh of relief as the song ended. “New rule!” proposed Jen Hatfield, who sat behind the man who had afflicted their ears with such torture. “Martin isn’t allowed to sing along with the radio!” Everyone except Martin nodded their heads fervently and stated their agreement.
“Come on, I’m not that bad, am I?” Martin turned down the volume of the radio. “I mean, I’m in tune, aren’t I?”
“Martin,” said Takeru Shima, who was sitting next to him (and had therefore had the worst time of it), “you’re a good friend and a great guy and I’m glad I’m your friend, but your singing sounds like someone took an out-of-tune trumpet and handed it to a hippopotamus. Frankly? I think I could sing better than you, and that’s saying something. I sound like a three-year-old girl with a cold!”
“Seriously?” asked Aaron Lawrence. He was sitting in the back left, and his necklace was on display for the moment. “That kinda sounds hilarious, actually.”
“It sounds hilarious in description. It sounds painful in practice.” Aaron nodded at the response.
Meanwhile, Ewan MacMathan, seated next to Jen, had begun singing with the song that was currently playing over the radio. “Finished with my woman ‘cuz she couldn’t help me with my mind! People think I’m insane because I am frowning all the time!”
“See, that’s what a good singer sounds like,” said Iris Hale, who was next to Aaron. Ewan continued to sing along as Martin grumbled, slowly turning up the radio. “Martin, I like you, but you can’t sing.” Martin grumbled more.
“So why are we headed out here, anyway?” he asked. The question was clearly directed at Aaron, who was currently looking out the window.
“Dad said there was a Frost Giant here,” replied Aaron. “We’re going to check it out.”
“Why would your dad know? I mean, I can understand if Thor knew, but… Baldur?” asked Jen.
“Still one of the Aesir,” replied Ewan. “They’ve got so much giant blood running through their veins, I wouldn’t be surprised if half the reason that Baldur’s so invulnerable is because of giant heritage.”
“But it’s a frost giant,” Martin pointed out. “What’s it doing in Kentucky?”
“I remember hearing about a friend of a friend who fought a Fire Giant in the arctic,” replied Jen. “Cousin of mine, Scion of Zeus Don’t really know the guy that well, I think his mum was Chinese, upset the Celestial Bureaucracy like no other that Zeus was having affairs in their territory.”
“Ah, but that’s how he always is,” said Ewan. “I’d not be surprised if Zeus has had children all over the globe and even had some in Japan before the West came.”
“Why would he do that?” asked Takeru.
“Because he’s a philandering lug,” said Jen. “Seriously, Zeus has had more affairs than the world has people, it seems like.”
“If we’re done ragging on your uncle?” asked Aaron. Iris giggled. “Anyway, Dad says he thinks this giant might already have a few thralls and maybe even a buddy or two.”
“In a podunk nowhere town in Kentucky,” replied Martin.
“Yup,” said Aaron. “Build the army in the nowhere town, draw big legend from marching a giant army into downtown Frankfort.”
“Frankfort?” asked Jen. “The hell is Frankfort?”
“It’s the capital city,” said Iris. “You know, like if we were in Wisconsin, they’d march on downtown Madison.”
“Probably be a shock to Doyle,” said Aaron, smirking. “Frost giants show up in Madison, wreck downtown. Doyle urges Legislature to pass Giant Prison Bill.”
“Yeah, well, Doyle can get stuffed, only reason I’d help him out of that one is because the giants are a threat to everyone,” said Jen. “Can we please move on to a different subject from Jim?”
“How about Iris’s singing?” asked Ewan. “I mean, we haven’t heard her sing yet.”
“You don’t want to hear me sing,” mumbled Iris.
“C’mon. It can’t be any worse than slapping your mum across the face,” ribbed Takeru.
“That was deserved and you know it,” said Iris. Still, she took a deep breath. “They told him don’t you ever come around here, don’t want to see your face, you’d better disappear… The fire’s in their eyes and their words are really clear so beat it. Just beat it.” Her voice was incredibly quiet and shy, and Martin turned off the radio so they could all hear. It was actually probably the best voice of any of them, though. Her voice slowly grew louder as she continued singing, and by the end Ewan, Aaron, and Jen had joined in — Takeru had done one verse as well, with a horribly stereotypical Japanese accent that probably only he could get away with, and Martin had even joined in at the end — though Iris still tried to be louder than him and drown out the man’s warbling.
“You seriously want to play Thriller as we fight them?” asked Jen as they pulled into parking lot of the Kenneth, KY Wal-Mart. “Why?”
“I just think it’d be a fun song to fight to,” said Iris, grinning. Slowly, everyone got out of the car. Takeru walked over to the trunk, opened it, and took out their gear.
Handing a bulletproof vest to Aaron, he said, “Maybe if we were fighting zombies. Giants, though… seems a bit off.”
“Hey, they could be out of a horror movie,” said Aaron, buckling on the vest over his dress shirt and accepting his sword, sheathing it at his side.
“What, Wolf-Man versus Zombie Giants?” asked Martin. Taking his spear from Takeru, he said, “Man, that movie would kick ass. I’d probably go see it five times.”
“Just what we’d need,” muttered Jen, accepting her bulletproof vest, the only other one in the car. “A giant who was immune to bullets.” She strapped her own sword to her side.
“So it’s me and Iris against the thugs, right?” asked Takeru as he handed Martin his spear.
“That’s the plan,” said Aaron. “You guys take on the bikers, us four will take on any giants. That sound good to everyone?” There were several murmurs of assent as the odd-looking group began walking toward the city proper. “Now remember, we’re on the lookout for at least one frost giant, possibly two or three, and at least ten thralls.”
Jen looked down a broad, empty street, and tapped Aaron on the shoulder. “Hey, Aaron… I think there’s more than three frost giants.” She pointed to a park; standing there were no less than five giants, as well as at least fifteen thralls. “Do we still fight?”
“It’s only frost giants,” muttered Takeru hopefully. “We can take frost giants.”
“I dunno,” said Iris, taking a look. “At least one of ‘em looks like a fire giant, and I think I see an oni there.”
“So… it’s a great cross-pantheonic coalition of giants,” said Martin.
“Dumb giants,” said Ewan. “Still… Five’s a fairly hefty number, and that Oni’s gonna be a tough opponent.”
“Well,” said Aaron, “only one way to fight ‘em, and that’s to do it straight up.”
“Me and Iris can do some stuff to lessen the threat,” offered Takeru. “We’ll just stand back here and do that while you take them on head-to-head.”
“Sounds good to me,” said Aaron. “On three?”
“On three,” agreed Jen. The others nodded.
“All right then. One… Two… Three!” The group rushed the giants, eager to get combat underway.
The giants seemed to have been discussing something as the six Scions ran up to them. Ewan was the first on the scene, and he leapt toward one of the giants, a frost giant. Although he managed to scratch the giant, it was a glancing blow for the most part, only drawing a few drops of blood. The giant roared with rage at being struck by such a puny being.
Takeru was fairly quick to react after that, targeting the Oni with his ability to cause chaos in opponents’ minds. The giant’s mind, however, was a bit dull, and so the chaotician’s intended effect didn’t quite take hold. Ewan, meanwhile, had begun leading his giant away from the others. Martin then stabbed a giant in the gut, another one of the frost giants — and this time, the giant’s blood did more than coat the spear’s obsidian head. Martin had to shake a little bit of intestine off his spear’s head. Aaron, Iris, and Jen had already taken positions near the other giants, and even though the Oni was frozen in confusion, the other giants struck. While the giant on Ewan missed, the giant that Martin had just hit aimed a heaving kick at the Mexican, kicking him back three yards — which he tumbled gracefully into a standing position. And the fire giant swung at Aaron, and though his hit connected, it was rather light, and it didn’t hurt as much as Aaron had been expecting it would.
It was then that Aaron struck, stabbing the Fire Giant with his sword. The giant’s wound closed almost supernaturally as the blade exited his arm. Jen swung at the giant on her, but unfortunately it stepped aside quickly. Ewan attacked again, stabbing this time, and managed to actually do some damage, piercing the ribcage right near the giant’s heart. Iris, meanwhile, was stepping back and beginning to chant. “Ul Aicheiy, ul Akkaris, naz Doroq!” The Oni could feel the curse settling around it, the dark fires seeping into its bones. You didn’t need to be smart to recognize the effects of a curse. And the Oni could tell that this one was potent.
Jen’s blade, the swift sword, was quick as lightning, and before the frost giant she was attacking could register that she had tried to hit him, she had struck him, though her attack still drew no blood. Martin rushed his attacker, leaping into the air before coming down with a slash of the spear. The cut was deep, hitting bone, and as he landed, the giant staggered back a few feet. Takeru, meanwhile, had been surrounded by thugs, along with Iris. His response was simple: Elbow one in the nose and then kick another in the stomach. Unfortunately, these weren’t garden-variety mooks, and Takeru’s powers weren’t suited to mass combat. He had a feeling that he could be in serious danger if he allowed them to keep surrounding him. Meanwhile, the fire giant swatted Aaron away. The poor Scion of Baldur lived up to his ancestral hardiness as he slammed into a lamppost with enough force to snap it in half and got up with barely a scratch.
“I guess they don’t have guys like me where you’re from, huh?” The giant didn’t respond. “Well then, I guess that means it’s up to me to show you just how much ass I can kick!” And he ran forward, sword held high. As the sun glinted off the blade, he plunged it deep into the giant’s stomach. As he withdrew it, he could see that the giant had forced it to act more like a club than a sword on his body, as the sword came out of rippling flesh that looked more like a bruise than a stab-wound. The Oni, angry at Takeru for trying to confuse his tiny brain, took a swing at the poor half-Japanese man. But Iris’s curse was doing its work, and the giant aimed to the left, knocking one of the thugs away from the Scion.
Each of the frost giants tried to swing at their enemies, but Jen, Martin, and Ewan ducked. Ewan responded to his frost giant’s attack by raising his spear and screaming bloody murder, stabbing it deep into the giant’s leg. As the thralls attempted to hit Takeru and Iris, missing despite their multitude of attacks, Jen cried out, “For the Glory of Hades!” and stabbed the giant on her. It coughed up a small amount of blood. Martin jabbed his spear into the giant again, the sheer force of the blow causing it to stagger back a few more yards.
Iris, meanwhile, turned to one of the thralls on Takeru and gave him a wink and a wave, pouring her focus into having him come after her. It worked, and the thrall began shoving other thralls aside to see her. Takeru, meanwhile, got a brilliant idea. “I’m going for a swim,” he said, diving into a nearby pond. Several of the thralls waded in after him, with others surrounding the pond. The fire giant, by now quite angry, swung at Aaron again. Aaron rolled out of the way as the massive flaming fists struck the road, cracking the asphalt.
Aaron grinned as he shifted the grip on his sword slightly. “VALHALLA!” he shouted, and his ichor swelled within him as he swung at the fire giant, slicing a thick gash in the giant’s chin. Takeru, meanwhile, activated one of his myriad powers and began breathing in the water as though it were air. Ewan, meanwhile, had gotten an idea. Kicking off from the ground, he speared the giant in an impaling upward motion. As he withdrew the spear, scoring a circle in the asphalt with the spear’s head, still hot with giant’s blood, he could see the frost giant roaring with rage. It attempted to swing at him, but he rolled between its legs, his spear ducking through in time to avoid being snapped in half. The giant on Jen swung clumsily, and she didn’t even have to try to dodge as its fist carried it into a spinning circle. Martin’s giant was a little bit smarter, and it bellowed before charging him in a bull rush — but Martin managed to step out of the way.
The Oni, meanwhile, had raised a single fist and brought it down right where Aaron was standing — except that its fist was slowed by the curse, allowing Aaron to move without the giant hitting anything. The Japanese giant screamed its rage to the heavens. It would kill the one who put the curse on it after it killed Bright Baldur’s son, the dancing monkey! Jen leapt at her giant and slashed thrice with the sword, each swing only making a superficial wound as he raised his arm to block. Martin stabbed again, even though his giant was barely wounded from his last few attempts. Although the blow was more glancing than anything due to the odd angle the spear had been held at, it still managed to drive the giant into a streetlamp.
By now, people were gathering, watching from the windows of nearby businesses and houses. Takeru, meanwhile, swam further into the pond, eventually resting in a drainage pipe. While it wouldn’t be hard to spot, it would offer him an advantage if any thralls tried to reach him. Namely: He could breathe water. They could not. He made a mental note that the next time they fought multiple giants with thralls, he would at least bring a staff or a katana or something with which to defend himself. Iris, of course, didn’t have that problem. She was busy asking the thrall she’d seduced where the nearest wasp-hive was. He was more than eager to lead her to it, which she was privately thankful for.
Jen, meanwhile, was swinging her sword back and forth, getting it to a speed fast enough that she she finally swung at the giant, it hummed like a hummingbird, slicing through the giant’s thick stomach. The force of the blow knocked him backwards, into the wall of a bank. Fortunately, the building was still very secure even with a giant colliding with the wall (and knocking several bricks into the building). Aaron, meanwhile, stabbed the fire giant in the stomach, twisting his sword before pulling it back out with some of the giant’s entrails rupturing as the sword was pulled out. The giant staggered back, placing a hand on its stomach and glowering at Aaron. “You,” it said, growling. “YOU!” Apparently that word was the only word it knew.
Ewan, meanwhile, was still going at his frost giant; this time he had begun spinning his spear around and stabbed it in the giant’s heart. The crowd was growing anxious; here were the five strangers who’d twisted their neighbors and friends into violent brutes, getting some rather violent comeuppance from some kids from out of town! The excitement was palpable. The crowd let out a collective gasp as the giant swung at Ewan. But the young Scots-Irish lad was smart, and ducked at precisely the right moment to draw the adulation of the crowd. Jen did a fancy acrobatic jump over the fist of the giant that swung at her. Martin, meanwhile, wasn’t quite fast enough to dodge the giant on him. The blow to the chest hurt like hell, and onlookers could actually hear it strain his ribs to take the blow. But he got back up and steadied himself on his spear. He then charged, spear forward, and leapt into the stomach of the frost giant that had thrown him back so far. It looked at him for a moment with hate in its eyes as the spear pierced it through before collapsing backwards, bleeding out on the street. The wounds on its head and in its stomach were particularly serious, and the crowd was torn. On the one hand, this man had threatened their town. But on the other, if he didn’t get medical attention, he would die. The confusion paralyzed them.
Jen, meanwhile, built up momentum and did a stunning somersaulting leap that ended with her sword stabbing into the giant’s throat. As she jerked out the sword and kicked the giant away, it stepped back a few steps, its eyes clouding over in a blood rage. The crowds had begun to go back to their lives, thinking that perhaps if they didn’t make a scene, these bloody butchers wouldn’t come after them. Three thralls remained underwater, waiting for Takeru to come out — they were particularly stubborn. They were also servants of the Oni, who seemed to be the leader — Takeru made note of that as he watched them sit underwater looking at him.
Aaron tried to slash open the fire giant’s hamstring, but although the sword connected, it did little more than scratch the skin. Ewan stabbed at the frost giant he was fighting, stabbing out its eye and ripping the offending organ from its head. The giant roared in pain.
At the hive, watched only by a few curious people who had decided that the battle was too bloody for them, Iris approached the wasp hive. Iris began speaking to the wasps, modifying her voice so that they could understand her. “I wish to speak with your queen and your warriors,” she said.
The hive buzzed with excitement, and several wasps approached her. “You understand us? You speak our language?” they asked. Iris nodded. “What is it you wish, tall smasher of houses?”
“I wish your aid,” said Iris. “The great ones who smash all have taken up residence here.”
“We have noticed,” said the wasps. “We are no idiots.”
“My friends and I wish to drive them away.” The wasps buzed excitedly among themselves. “My friends can be distinguished because they fight against the great ones.”
“Hmm… Perhaps we shall, and perhaps we shall not. It is the Queen’s decision.”
The fire giant swung at Aaron. Through some twist of fate, Aaron managed to avoid the fist, almost dropping his sword. Jen then began spinning, leaping into the air in a pirouette of death before stabbing her giant in the eye. The frost giant screamed. At the scream, most of the remaining viewers closed their windows, drew down blinds, or ran off in search of other places. Better not to mess with someone so skilled with a sword. In retaliation, it swung a heavy kick at the girl who had put out its eye. It missed horribly, spinning on the leg that remained on the ground. As one of its comrades bled, the other swung at Ewan. Its attempt at an uppercut was strong but pathetic, and it almost staggered back a couple steps. The Oni, meanwhile, took the fire giant’s miss as an opportunity to kick Aaron square in the small of the back with all its might. Although it managed to hit head-on, it only managed to slightly wind him. Still, he staggered forward a few yards, turning to look at the two giants that were attacking him.
Martin began spinning his spear, trying to give it a bit more kick and give him a little more height as he leapt, spear eventually finding its home in the Oni’s back. As he jerked out the spear, he could feel the red blood spurt slowly from the quickly-scabbing wound. The Oni staggered forward, amazed that someone could penetrate its thick hide. It roared in outrage. Meanwhile, Aaron rolled between the fire giant’s legs and swiped with a severe intent to kill at his achilles tendon. Although that area was unusually well-protected, he still managed to cause a significant flesh wound to the surrounding area. Ewan swung at the frost giant that had tried to hit him, stabbing deep into the hamstring before pulling his spear out. Icy blood flowed from the veins.
Jen twirled her wrist for show before leaping toward and stabbing the frost giant she had been fighting. Her blade struck home in its left shoulder, and as she pulled it out she could hear it grunt with pain.
Iris continued to speak with the wasps. “Please allow me to speak to the Queen.”
A large wasp moved to the forefront, obviously the queen. “I am she,” she said. “What is your desire, tall smasher?”
“My desire, o Queen,” said Iris, respect heavy in her voice, “is that you and your Hive aid my Hive in our attack against the great ones.” The Queen buzzed incredulously.
“You have a hive? What know you of hives?”
“That a human can form a hive-bond with other humans,” said Iris. “And that humans can understand the hive relationships. Please. Aid us. We wish only to distract the servants of the great ones. Is this acceptable?” The queen buzzed, moving back and forth.
“So long as you extract an oath from the tall smashers not to harm my hive.”
“After this battle has finished, o Queen, your oath shall be gained.”
“Then alongside you we shall fight, Friend of the Hive of Azanta. What is your name, tall smasher who is a Friend?”
“Iniz,” said the Queen, mimicking the name to the best of her ability. “Very well! Warriors! Aid Iniz! Distract the smasher enemies she indicates!”
“Follow me!” shouted Iris, and a large cloud of wasps (most of the warriors, although some remained behind to protect the hive) flew out behind her. The cloud caused several of curious bystanders to follow her.
At the battle, as Iris was convincing the Wasp Queen to have her hive help the Scions, Martin was doing something incredibly different. He had allowed the Oni to move slightly from him, but there were no fewer than two streetlights in the way. So Martin hefted his spear in one hand and shouted, “Blood for the Smoking Mirror!” He charged, his charge taking him up a streetlight. His boot kicked out the light as he leapt at the Oni, his spear piercing its ugly blue-green skull right behind its massive horn. The oni, unable to cope with the twin forces, collapsed onto the ground. While not out, it was certainly down as martin yanked his spear from the hole it had made and leapt off the oni’s prone body. The fire giant, tired with Aaron’s dodging and blow-withstanding ability, charged him with a ramming shoulder. Unfortunately for the fire giant, Aaron sidestepped the blow, dodging easily.
The oni, not content to remain an easy target on the ground, slammed a hand on the ground and pushed himself up, leaving himself quite vulnerable to attack. The frost giant that had been attacking Ewan aimed another punch, a colossal haymaker, at his target, but almost wound up punching itself instead thanks to momentum. Ewan took the opportunity the giant had given him to stab it and puncture a lung. Meanwhile, the frost giant who Jen had half-blinded was still seeking revenge for being made half-blind by the sword-wielding girl, and still swinging at her with all his might, despite the fact that his eye was hardly trustworthy. As it swung, Jen ducked in with her sword and sliced open an artery in its arm, causing it to collapse and begin to bleed out. It let out a cry of pain as it fell to the ground.
Martin wheeled around to the oni’s front, stabbing the massive beast in the stomach. While its thick fat absorbed most of the blow, a little fluid still leaked out. Jen took the opportunity of the giant’s distraction to leap at it and slice open its hamstring. The oni roared as Jen cut open its leg and began bleeding it as though she were a leech. Aaron swung his sword again at the fire giant, the sun glinting off the steel moments before he buried the blade in the fire giant’s stomach. The giant roared as it saw Aaron withdraw the bloody sword. It swung a massive haymaker to hit him, but instead it overcompensated for his dodge, spun around once, and landed flat on its face. It grumbled a few insults in Old Norse as being attacked in such a manner. Ewan, meanwhile, was looking for an opportunity to strike at his giant. Finding none, he held back.
The oni, incensed that Martin had actually pierced his fat, swung blindly at the youth. Martin, in a mood to show off, actually leapt onto the Oni’s fist as it sailed on a trajectory through where he had been before dropping down. The frost giant that Ewan had been harrassing lifted a foot and attempted to bring it down onto Ewan’s head, but missed, instead cracking the pavement with its massive stomp.
Jen swung again at the Oni, but this time its tough hide proved too difficult a nut to crack, and her sword bounced off the rhino-like skin. The giant brute laughed, turning around to grin at her. Martin felt that this battle had gone on long enough. His belief in his own supremacy had kept him going, his conviction that he was a great warrior who would be able to fight off a giant like this no problem. Channeling that conviction, he moved, spinning so that his spear would draw up hot asphalt from the pavement before flinging it straight into the Oni’s chin. He then ran up and grabbed the spear, pulling it out with unnecessary force. The oni, already staggered from the blow, stumbled back slightly before falling onto its back, its chin bleeding profusely. This angered the giant greatly.
It was about then that Iris arrived back on the scene, leading a crowd of wasps and a crowd of people. The wasps immediately began harrassing (but not stinging) the thralls, except those underwater; the people began running the other way. No girl who could talk to bees was worth getting caught up in this. Better to just call the cops after it was all done and let them sort it out.
Aaron moved before the fire giant could act, stabbing it in the ack of the neck. As he withdrew the blade, the giant went limp. Although it wasn’t dead yet, it was dying. Jen, seeing Martin’s display of conviction, raised her sword high in the air. “In the name of Lord Hades, I sentence you to your doom, foul beast, for corrupting this town!” She ran at the oni, kicking off her charge by pushing a manhole cover out of the manhole, flipping it like a giant quarter that landed face-up on the street. She leapt into the air, bringing her blade down in the Oni’s chest, and withdrew the blade as she rolled off. Iris, however, had a different idea. “Ul AIcheiy, ul Akkaris, naz Doroq!” Her chanting struck the oni again, but it recognized the curse this time, and fought to ward off most of its effects.
Again, the Oni stood, focusing only on the act of standing. Its hide had only been pierced by mortal luck; why should it fear these mortals? While it was thinking that and rubbing its chin, the frost giant Ewan had attacked swung at him with a massive fist, but in trying to avoid overshooting it instead plowed its fist into the ground near him, which caused a dust cloud to rise up. Ewan used the distracting cloud to move around to the giant’s back unseen. Meanwhile, those few thralls who had remained underwater were now resurfaced and swatting at the wasp swarm that had descended upon them.
Martin stabbed at the oni’s throat, almost the only unbloodied part of the giant, discounting its arms. The throat shot drew a great deal of blood, and as the spear came out smoothly the oni staggered back a fair distance (about six yards). Aaron quickly ran to where the Oni was and stabbed it, but the blade bounced harmlessly off the oni’s ugly clawed hand. Jen’s blade, meanwhile, moved so quickly through the air that it let out an audible whine as it cut into the giant’s kneecap. Ewan, however, was still fighting the one standing frost giant. He stabbed his spear into its ribcage, wrenching a few ribs loose as he tried to cajole the spear out. Takeru, sensing that he would be able to move unmolested (the buzzing of wasps, combined with the shouts of thralls, convinced him that Iris had been working her bee charm) and so he began the process of switching back to breathing air, moving to leave his cozy haven as he did so.
As Takeru resurfaced, he saw that most of the giants, with the exception of the oni and one frost giant, were dead or dying. The frost giant on Ewan swung, his fist missing Ewan in the rage of the wounded giant and instead smashing in the hood of a car. The Oni, still as dumb as ever, turned to Aaron and swung, but the young man ducked. This gave Martin the opening he needed, and he laughed a little as his spear missed its intended target, the giant’s heart, and instead hit the giant’s ass. The oni, for its part, grabbed the slightly-bleeding protrusion with both hands and howled. Aaron laughed. This was a battle he would survive, and that gave him courage. Courage which he channeled into a massive attack. “Valhalla!” he shouted, jumping high into the air and stabbing deeep into the oni’s chest. It collapsed just as the police sirens became audible. It looked at Aaron, and made a sneering face.
“Ka…ra…su…” It coughed up a small amount of blood. Ewan stabbed again at the remaining frost giant, and his spear pierced its heart. As the giant fell over, the cops fanned out from the car, guns raised.
“Put the weapons down and put your hands in the air,” came a voice from a megaphone. Aaron found himself on the receiving end of a glare sent by Martin, who dropped his spear and raised his hands.
“Whose idea was it to attack the giants in broad daylight?” The young Mexican’s tone was dripping with sarcasm.
“At least their threat is over,” replied Aaron. “…Ewan? Some help?” Ewan nodded.
“Excuse me,” he said. “This wasn’t really our fault…” He shrugged innocently, allowing some of his divine power to flow forth. “We’d just heard rumors about these villains plaguing your town, and decided to do something about it!”
The officers immediately began muffled discussion, all while several of their comrades kept arms pointed at the six. Finally, the one with the bullhorn turned it back on. “Very well. However, we have to make it known that vigilante justice is not appreciated in Kenneth, Kentucky. It’s that kind of lawlessness that leads to New Jersey-style crime rates.” Ewan nodded. “I think we can negotiate a fair fine for this first offense, so long as we get your agreement to stay out of the vigilante business from here on out.”
“That sounds good to me, sir.” Ewan nodded. “My Japanese friend here can tell you what happened.” The officer with the megaphone nodded. “May we place our weapons in our van?”
The officers conversed with one another. “I’m sorry,” said the one with the bullhorn, “but they’ll have to be confiscated for now. If you could please come quietly with us, we’ll sort out this whole mess at the station.” The six followed calmly, and as soon as they had reached the squad cars, two officers went and gathered their weapons. The officer who had had the megaphone looked at them. “I’m gonna need your keys, son,” he said, addressing Ewan. “I’m afraid your van will have to be impounded until we’re done. Matter of procedure, you can go to the impound lot after we’re done and pick it up there.”
“I understand,” said Martin, pulling the van’s keys from his pocket and handing them to the man. “Here you are, officer. The keys to the van.”
“Thank you, son.” As the six were put in two different squad cars (Takeru with the girls, and the other three men together), the officer took the keys and handed them to one of his subordinates.
The drive to the station was a short one, and the officer hustled the six into a back room. “All right,” he said, pointing to Takeru. “Start talking.”
“Well,” said Takeru, “to be perfectly honest, we weren’t trying to be vigilantes.”
“You willing to swear that?” asked the officer.
“Bring me the bible and I’ll swear to it.” The officer, still skeptical, had his subordinate bring a bible in. Takeru put his hand on it and said, “I swear to the Almighty, this is the true story.” As he said those words, some of his own divine power flowed into the room, altering the officer’s mind so that he would accept the outlandish-but-true story for what it actually was: the truth of the matter. “We were hired by my friend Aaron’s father to investigate these men who were making a mess of your town. We were told to permanently get rid of them, using any force necessary. And we were told, in no uncertain terms, that we would have to do this alone.” The officer nodded.
“And just who is your friend’s father?”
“That,” said Takeru, “would be Baldur, Norse god of the Sun. I know it’s hard to believe, and you probably wouldn’t be able to include that in your report, but believe me. Those five men weren’t just large men, but giants. And Baldur sent us to find them and kill them before they caused any more trouble.”
“Well I’ll be damned,” said the officer. He straightened his glasses. “I do believe you’re right. I can’t put that in my report, the judge would think I was crazy. I’ll tell you what, though. I’ll put it in that they were members of an international drug ring, and you’re with the DEA. That sound good to you, sir?”
“Sounds wonderful, officer. So… Will there be any charges?”
“No, no charges. No fine either. I’m sure we’ll find some sort of criminal record on these men.” Takeru nodded.
“You might want to ask the men they’d victimized if they were fed anything,” added Aaron. “Might help build the case that they were drugged by this drug ring.”
“That’s not a bad idea,” said the officer. “Now then, your van is at the impound lot. I trust you’ll know where to go?”
“Of course,” said Aaron. “And… our weapons?”
“They’re in the evidence locker for now. Stop by after you’ve gotten your van. You’ll be able to get your equipment then.” The six nodded. “Again, thank you for your time, son of Baldur and companions. I mean, Officers Lawrence and company. You have a safe trip now.” They left the building quietly, and they could hear the chief explaining things to his subordinates. “Yeah, Drug Enforcement, apparently those big guys were members of a drug ring. We’re going to want to interrogate the people involved in this, starting with Ryan Hanes, but they said it was…”
After getting their van, the six drove by the police station. The chief and his lieutenant were waiting outside. “Chief’s told me everything,” he said. “Undercover DEA agents tracking down a meth ring, I just have to ask why you didn’t reveal yourselves as DEA.”
“If we had,” said Martin, “would you have believed us? An Arab, a Latino, and a Jap along with three white middle-class Americans?”
“Two middle-class Americans and an Irishman,” corrected Ewan. The lieutenant nodded.
“All right, I can see why it’d be tough to believe. We’ll be conducting those interviews now. I’d ask you to stay for a while, but the Chief says you’re needed elsewhere?”
“Have to go back and file our report,” said Martin. “But thank you, officer, and if we’re ever in town again we’ll be sure to let you know.”
“Drive safely, Mr. Novida.” And with the Lieutenant’s last words, they loaded the weapons in the trunk and then drove off.
Martin rolled the window back up. “So… five giants, and one of them says Karasu. What’s it mean, Takeru?”
“Karasu? It means crow.”
“I meant metaphorically.” Martin turned on the radio. “Obviously he’s not reporting to an actual crow, that would just be stupid.”
“I don’t know,” said Aaron. “Giants aren’t exactly bright.”
“They’re not that dumb, either,” retorted Martin. “Karasu has got to mean something.”
“And their organization, too,” said Iris. “I mean, they don’t spontaneously organize like that. They don’t really organize at all, actually.” Aaron raised an eyebrow. “I think something’s organizing this, causing little chaos bubbles in preparation for something big.”
“You mean like a ritual?” asked Jen. “I can actually kinda see it. Some chaotic demon-summoning ritual conducted by a Scion who calls himself ‘Karasu’ and is trying to find the secret to ultimate real arcane power. Through… um… chaos.”
“If this Karasu has a ritual, we’d better be ready for it,” replied Ewan. “Wouldn’t want to be caught with our metaphorical pants down. I’ll begin by looking through the library of the next town we stop in.”
“And I’ll listen for rumors,” said Jen.
“I’ve got dibs on the tabloids,” said Martin.
“You just want to keep up with the amazing Bat-Boy, don’t you?” asked Aaron, laughing a little.
Martin laughed too. “Yes, yes, it’s all coming together now! Clearly the bat-boy is the one mustering the giants in a small Kentucky town!” At this, Iris couldn’t help herself, and she burst out laughing, complete with a very unexpected snort. The snort caught Jen off guard, and she began laughing as well.
“Iris the pig!” she shouted, and Takeru began howling. Even Ewan got in the act when Takeru muttered something in Japanese that Ewan was fairly certain he wasn’t supposed to hear. Not that he understood it; he just found it funny that Takeru had muttered in Japanese.
Speeding off into the sunset, nobody noticed the strange hitchhiker by the side of the road with a sign that read “New Orleans or Bust.” But he saw them, and he frowned. “My giants… killed by those six. I can smell their revolting human-corrupted blood from here. I will have to be more wary.” And the old man took flight, flying southward to New Orleans. “But perhaps my distraction in rural Illinois will work… mmhmmm… hahaha… yesss…” The karasu-tengu flew south even as the van continued to roll on down the highway.
- Add new comment: