Clash of the Titans
Chapter 10: A Plague of Lemurs
"Trained to fight gods?" Loki said with the same horror and revulsion that Percy had just yesterday. "What kind of sick people are you?"
I didn't mention that my usual methods of fighting gods probably wouldn't work on Loki. The Aesir were closer to the Greco-Roman gods than the Egyptian gods. Less powerful, but more realized. This also meant that they could affect the mortal plane a lot more easily than the Egyptian gods could, and they didn't need hosts.
My usual fighting methods simply wouldn't work on Loki, just like they wouldn't work on a Greek god such as Ares or Poseidon. Loki smirked as soon as these thoughts crossed my mind. He raised his right hand and stepped forward as a fireball appeared in his palm. Somehow he was sensing my weaknesses, he wasn't reading my thoughts—at least I don't think he was—but he was sensing my shortcomings and bluffs. This would make it harder to beat him. It also meant he probably knew my bluff about locking Fenrir in the Duat forever if I died was a lie. Which meant my life was at stake.
I drew a Wadjet in the air with my wand. I then threw my wand at the god, hoping it would help make a good distraction. Egyptian Magician's wands are based on the ancient Egyptian Throwing sticks that the Pharaohs used to hunt waterfowl. They worked a lot like Australian boomerangs. But a magician's wand could be mentally controlled by the magician using it, which meant that in the air, I could do a lot more with the wand than I could with it in my hand.
I gripped my khopesh with both hands. I considered summoning my combat avatar but decided against it. It would just use up energy that the celestial mead and my pancake breakfast had given me. Energy I could ill afford to lose.
Loki hurled his fireball at me. The Wadjet symbol created a defensive barrier around me, preventing any attack from getting through, but the fireball didn't even make it to the Wadjet. My wand intercepted the sphere, and spinning around the ball at a rapid speed created a vacuum, that sucked out the air and extinguished the orb.
"Interesting," Loki said frowning. He raised both arms, fireballs appearing in both. He started to hurl them both when my lion-staff pounced on him, knocking him to the ground.
I knew that a lion made of wood was no match for the god of fire, but I had a backup plan. I made several gestures with my left hand, while still gripping my sword with my right. The Wand began rapidly drawing symbols in the air as I cast a semi-complicated spell known affectionately among younger Magicians as the "Mickey Mouse Broom Spell."
Loki roared in rage and hurled my lion across the field and into the cliff. He transformed back into a staff just before striking the wall and shattering apart. I grinned; Loki had done almost exactly what I'd wanted him to do. In fact he'd done me one better. I'd expected him to burn the staff in half, not shatter it.
Now, to explain the "Mickey Mouse Broom Spell." A lot of people have seen the Fantasia sequence where Mickey Mouse animates the brooms and looses control of the cleaning supplies. It's a very popular sequence. Malik even says that they're making a new movie based on that sequence. I wouldn't know. I haven't watched a movie made after 2003. (When I was assigned to Madagascar)
What most people don't realize, is that it was based on an Egyptian "fairy tale". A fairy tale that was about an Egyptian Mage and his apprentice. In fact, Walt Disney may have known just a little bit more about Egyptian magic than he let the average Joe know. If you catch my drift.
Animating an inanimate object such as a coat or broomstick requires a wax shabti, but that is not the spell to which the "Mickey" is referring. Remember when Mickey chops the broomstick up into a thousand pieces and the pieces all transform into a new broomstick? That is exactly what was happening to the shards of my staff. Each shard was expanding and transforming into a new lion.
Within seconds a dozen lions bounded to my side and began circling Loki, with more forming every second.
"Well," Loki said. "I must admit your parlor tricks are amusing. What's next? Rabbits from your hat?'
"Don't tempt me," I said grabbing the tail of the lion nearest me. It morphed and warped into a new staff.
"I have a few tricks too," Loki said. "Care to see mine?"
The god began to grow, expanding in size within seconds. In moments he had doubled in size, and was still growing.
"Attack!" I yelled. The lions pounced and covered the chaos god. Each lion latched on to any part of Loki that they could. Suddenly Loki lit up, his body became covered in flame. Each lion fell off, transforming back into an individual staff that began burning. The flames ignited the dry grass around us and I became boxed in a circle of flames. The flames flowed off the giant god and fueled the fire encircling me.
Crap, I thought. This was not turning out the way I had planned.
"Time to die little mortal wizard," Loki sneered. "Die knowing that you made no difference, and that Ragnarok still occurred."
He closed his fist, and the circle began closing around me. The flames hit my Wadjet symbol and went no further, my magical barrier shielding me. I could still feel the intense heat though, the shield couldn't stop that. And it wouldn't need to either, the flames were so tightly packed around the barrier that it was sucking the oxygen out.
I noticed that Loki was beginning to shrink again as the flames intensified. The god wasn't all-powerful, and he was using up energy just as I was. I had plenty in reserve, as I was drawing from my staff, my breakfast, the Duat, and the Celestial mead. I could use this to my advantage, but I needed a major distraction.
A plague. That was my solution. It was one of the most powerful spells that an animal charmer could do. To summon an intense plague of animals to swarm a target or land. It's how the Black Death got as bad as it did. Moses did it with frogs, flies, and gnats, as well as a plague of serpents when he left Egypt. These were the traditional animals. Rats and fleas were used in the Bubonic Plague, and Desjardins was fond of using a plague of fruit bats.
Each animal charmer finds it easier to summon a plague of animals that they have an affiliation or connection with. Like Desjardins and his fruit bats. My closest affiliations were white lions, and peregrine falcons. Neither were really plague animals, but I wasn't really thinking about this when I started the spell.
I was losing air, and didn't really have much time to think. I concentrated on summoning from the Duat. My wand etched the Egyptian word for plague in hieroglyphic in the air. I didn't give much thought as to what kind of animal to summon, so I was kind of surprised when over a thousand ring-tailed lemurs came charging out of the forest (or so it appeared, I was really calling them from the Ma'at, the creative energy of the universe.)
I had summoned a plague of lemurs. In retrospect, this wasn't completely out of the blue; I am stationed in Madagascar, which is the only place on the planet these animals are found. There is an affiliation there, but at the time I was dumbfounded.
Still, the animals swarmed Loki, which broke his concentration and killed the flames around me. I took several deep breaths. Even then I was still thinking lemurs? I had heard of a magician who'd summoned a plague of lemmings once, which is where that myth about lemming jumping off cliffs came from. Still, this was pretty bizarre.
The lemurs began covering him. He turned on the flames again, but they wouldn't work as well this time. My staff is made from wood; it's inherently wood, even in animal form. These were flesh and blood lemurs; just as Moses frogs were flesh and blood frogs. And like Moses' frogs these creatures could not be gotten rid of easily.
For every lemur Loki incinerated, a dozen more took its place. The scent of burnt Prosimians filled the air. He was shrinking, and he looked angry. He let out a tremendous "AARGH!"
Flames shot out in every direction, incinerating everything in its path. My Wadjet shield held once more, but when the fire died out there were hundreds of charcoaled lemur skeletons as far back as the forest. Loki stood in the center of the blast, still twice the size of a normal human, his hair completely on fire, and his eyes glowing white-hot. He looked at me with pure rage.
There were still lemurs on the way, but the lemurs were being summoned from the Ma'at, and Loki's blast had temporarily disrupted that.
"That…" he snarled. "Was…annoying."
"I summon the Seven Ribbons of Hathor," I said, reaching into the Duat. This was a bit of a gamble. A magician could only summon the Ribbons once a year. The Ribbons were meant to separate an Egyptian god from its host. I had no idea what effect this would have on a Norse god, or even a Greco-Roman god. But based on the way that they worked, and the way I noticed Loki was using power, I was betting that the ribbons would drain even more power from the god.
I prayed I was right, as I wouldn't be able to summon the Ribbons until after the demon days passed again, and such potent objects from the Duat could be very useful especially with all of the Egyptian gods loose in the mortal world. Still, it was my best option.
The ribbons danced through the air moving toward Loki. He hurled a fireball at the ribbons, but they nimbly danced out of the way. They began to entwine themselves around Loki. He screamed as the flames on his body went out. Only the fires in his eyes still smoldered. He began to shrink.
"Yes," I said, realizing the Ribbons were working…at least partially. Loki was resisting a lot better than a Netjer would. The ribbons were encasing him in a cocoon. I watched with morbid fascination as the ribbons wrapped around Loki. I heard muffled screams of agony, and then silence. The ribbons fluttered to the ground, as the cocoon was empty. The ribbons then dissolved as they returned to the Duat.
"Help," Percy called. I spun around and saw that Annabeth had been knocked unconscious by Grendeldam. Percy was moving fast and furiously, nimbly avoiding her attacks. She was swinging a large wooden club almost as big as Percy, and was trying to circle around behind him.
Now Percy could have taken this monster easily, but he didn't want to kill Annika, who was fighting the dragon in the air above us. I prayed that she was doing well. As long as Grendeldam was alive Wolfslayer couldn't kill Annika. At least…according to Loki. Yeah, there's a reliable source.
My lemurs suddenly began emerging from the forest once more. No Loki, no fire-magic to disrupt the plague magic. I considered ending the plague, but I thought better of it. As soon as the thought crossed my mind, the lemurs screeched and swarmed Grendeldam. The weight of the sheer number of primates soon bogged the monster down and pinned her to the ground.
"Nice," Percy said. "Weird, but nice." He pulled out a thermos from his backpack and poured a small amount of a gold colored liquid down Annabeth's throat. She gasped and leapt to her feet. This had to be nectar, the divine drink of the Greek gods. Deadly to mortals, and dangerous to half-bloods, if they had too much. But a small amount would heal them.
"The fence," she said right away. Leave it to a child of Athena to be logical. We turned towards the massive tear in the fence. It wasn't that big by the fence's standards, but it was huge to us. The Chrysler Building could have walked through. And it was, more or less. Two more of those Frost Giants were emerging. One of them was female, which was a vast difference from the males. She was just as big as they were, but had this ethereal, otherworldly beauty. Her skin was frosty white, with ice blue eyes and long white hair.
"Hi-Nehm," I said. The glowing blue hieroglyphs appeared in the air in front of the fence. There was a twanging sound as the cables of the fence began to reattach themselves. They shoved the two giants back and heaved them into Jotenheim. Annabeth bolted to the tree with the circuit breaker and flipped the switch back on. The low electrical hum buzzed through the air as the gate came back online.
I shuddered. That had taken quite a bit out of me.
"How many got through?" Annabeth asked. I shook my head. I didn't know.
We glanced southward, intending to count the giants that had meandered through the fence. That's when the Ma'at symbol suddenly appeared in mid-air in above the field. A giant glowing purple circle appeared encompassing most of the field.
"What's this?" Annabeth asked.
"The Ma'at spell," I said suddenly. "The same spell I killed Medusa with. Ziva must be casting it."
"But…it doesn't work on Norse monsters," Annabeth said frowning.
"We don't know that," I said. "I tried to cast it on Fenrir, he's kind of a god. It has no effect on gods, Egyptian, Greek or otherwise."
There was a shudder, and all the giants crumbled to dust. I saw that one of the giants was partially beyond the range of Ziva's spell, but not all the way. His left side crumbled, but the right side took slightly longer. The lemurs shrieked and leapt away from the mound that was Grendeldam. There was a large pile of dust, her club and her t-shirt, but the spell had dissolved Grendel's mom.
Percy and I swore at the same time. We glanced up at Wolfslayer. His right wing was within the circle of Ziva's spell, so it crumbled apart. The dragon tumbled out of the sky and landed in the nearby woods with a loud crash. The three of us exchanged a glance and rushed in the direction of the crash.
It took us almost fifteen minutes to find where the dragon had crashed. When we got there Annika was cooking some of the dragon's flesh. Her sword was sticking out of the dragon's neck.
"You're okay!" I said stupidly.
She nodded. "I found the dragon's weak spot. The first Geatson since Beowulf. Whoever did that thing to Wolfslayer's wing, I owe them my life."
"That would be Ziva," I said.
Annika made a sour face as she pulled the stick of dragon meat out of the fire. She sniffed it and then set the stick down.
"Percy, Xander, if you would be so kind as to leave," She said. "I'm taking off my clothes."
"Spoils of victory," she explained. "Dragon flesh is supposed to give the eater invulnerability, but whatever they wear while eating becomes invulnerable too, and any skin under those clothes won't be. Annabeth can stay if she wants, but I'd prefer if she leaves too."
"Ah," I said. "We'll go catch up with Ziva and the hunters."
We met the girls along the way back. Thalia and Amaya had apparently rejoined the group at some point.
"Nice timing on that Ma'at spell," I said to Ziva. "You saved our bacon."
She nodded somberly.
"It was all I could think of," she said. "Nothing else I was throwing at the giants seemed to work."
"Yeah," I said. "Well the spell took out Grendeldam, and gave Annika the chance to gain the upper hand against her dragon."
There was a sudden shudder, like the start of an earthquake. The ground began to rumble and a massive, familiar-looking snake began to emerge from the ground.
"Isfet!" I cursed. "Jormungand!"
"I'll try the Ma'at spell again," Ziva said.
"Won't work," I replied. "It didn't affect Fenrir, it won't affect his brother either."
"What did you do to my FATHER?" Jormungand's voice in our heads nearly caused our brains to explode. The giant snake twisted his head towards us, looking directly down at us. His monstrous green eyes each as big as small lakes narrowed and focused on us.
"What did you do with Loki?" Ziva whispered.
"Seven Ribbons of Hathor," I replied. "Surprisingly effective."
"I'm surprised," Ziva said. "They wouldn't work on a Greco-Roman god. Maybe it's because Loki is the Norse god of Chaos."
"Yeah," I said. "Maybe."
"Anyone have any bright ideas?" I asked turning towards Percy and Annabeth. "Cuz, I'm pretty much tapped out."
They shook their heads.
"I was afraid of that."
We each drew our weapons, preparing to go down fighting. Who knows, maybe Odin would consider this a noble death and we'd all wind up in Valhalla. Probably not Percy and Annabeth though…they'd earned their spots in Elysium a while back, and Hades might take offense if Odin attempted to claim their souls. Inter-pantheon wars were something to avoid. I vaguely wondered if I would go to Valhalla, Heaven, Elysium, or Aaru—the Ancient Egyptian paradise. I also wondered if life could get any more complicated.
The serpent hissed at us again. And then lunged. He would have crushed us in a single blow, but a gigantic hammer, almost as big as the serpent's head, came flying out of the air and slammed into Jormungand's face.
The snake bellowed in rage as the hammer began pounding on him of it's own accord.
"Take that Loki spawn," Thor bellowed as he charged across the field. "You wanted Ragnarok? Well you've got it. And everything that comes with!"
Behind Thor was a massive (and I mean that literally, they were all around fifty feet tall) army of Norse gods. I saw Hermiod and Heimdall, as well as dozens of gods (and a few goddesses) that I didn't know. There was a guy with one arm, and another with an iron foot. I saw Sleipnir as well, and he had grown in size just as Thor and Heimdall had. I didn't see Odin, but I did see three gods that certainly didn't belong with the Norse gods.
"Mom?" Annabeth exclaimed incredulously.
"Dad?" Percy yelped with equal skepticism.
"Artemis?" Thalia said, but less dubiously than Percy and Annabeth had.
The gods all raised their weapons in a battle cry and charged at the snake.
I guess Jormungand realized that the odds were no longer in his favor, because the panicked snaked let out a screeching hiss and dove back beneath the ground. The army of gods let out a tremendous cry of victory.
"Hey guys," Nico said running up to us. "Did I miss much?"
"I'm to take that you're responsible for that?" Ziva asked.
"Sort of," Nico said. "The Norse army was already on its way. I went to Olympus to try and convince Zeus to help stop the whole Ragnarok thing. He was pretty stubborn, but finally allowed Poseidon, Athena, and Artemis go, because you guys were here."
"Something like you can go rescue your idiot kids from then Norse Apocalypse?" Percy said.
"Pretty much," Nico replied. "After that I shadow traveled on my own to Banff Springs where the Norse gods were preparing for battle. This guy Tyr gave me lift, and we showed up just in time to chase off that snaky-guy."
"Excellent timing on that, by the way," Thalia said.
"Well done heroes," A voice behind us declared. We turned around to see Odin standing behind us. He was dressed in the simple cloak of stars. Annika was next to him, and she was positively beaming.
"How was the dragon?" I asked as she joined us.
"Could have used some ketchup," she said. "But not bad. A stupid bug landed on my back while I was eating though, so it became invulnerable, and I've got a weak spot."
"For the services you have rendered Asgard," Odin continued. "I have rewards for you."
We glanced at each other nervously. Gifts from the gods were often double edged and we knew it.
"For the Hunters of Artemis," Odin said. "As you know, our doors are always open to you, so there is little we can give you that you don't already have or need. Still, you have earned a favor from Odin. Use it when you need it."
"A favor from a Norse god," Annika whispered. "Those are hard to earn. Especially from Odin."
"For Annika Geatson," Odin said. "From this day forward, you may use the Bifrost Bridge anytime you wish. This whole mess could have been summarily avoided if you could have just come directly to Asgard. However, I must restrict you to one use of the Bridge per day."
She nodded. "Thank you, Lord Odin."
"For the half-god children of the Roman gods," He said. He handed Percy a large bag. Percy reached into the bag and pulled out a strange looking rune stone, roughly the size of a baseball.
"These nine rune stones will prevent Norse monsters, and beasts like Fenrir, from crossing any border that they are placed along."
"Cool," Percy said. "We can put them along Camp Half-Blood."
"Or," Annabeth said. "If we place them strategically along the Canadian-American border, we can effectively keep the Norse monsters confined to a much smaller area."
"Yeah," Percy said abashedly. "We could do that too…"
"Southern Mages," Odin said turning towards Ziva and myself.
"With all due respect, Odin," I said. "All I'd like for a reward is to get rid of Fenrir. As long as I've got the wolf locked in the Duat, I'm kind of a target, and I've got enough problems dealing with Egyptian demons and gods."
Odin smiled. "A wise decision, as you wish."
He nodded to Heimdall, and then waved his hand over Percy, Annabeth, Ziva, Nico, Annika and me. Our clothes suddenly change into Polar bear skins, leather boots and thick warm coats. A Bifrost Bridge appeared in the air behind him. He gestured that we follow and then stepped into the rainbow and dissolved away.
I stepped in after him.
The stinking bridge burned just as badly it did the first time, but at least this time I was kind of prepared for it.
When I emerged, we were standing on a massive plain of ice. It was dark, nighttime wherever we were. There was a broken set of iron chains on the ground in front of us. And it was COLD! Odin had bundled us up, but it was still way below freezing wherever he had taken us.
"Antarctica," Ziva said as she stumbled out of the rainbow behind us. "The 360th Nome."
"Indeed," Odin said. "Specifically East Antarctica, Queen Maud Land, the Kong Haakon IV Vidde. Part of the Norwegian claim. This where Fenrir was originally bound."
"We're only a few miles from the Nome Headquarters," Ziva said looking at me in surprise.
"Why didn't they mention that there was a giant wolf bound a couple of miles from the Nome HQ?" I asked curiously.
"Um…maybe they did…" Ziva replied. "Have you have read any of the reports that come out of Nome 360?"
"Can we get this over with," Percy said. "It's kind of cold here."
"Right," I said. I concentrated on my freezer in the Duat. I mentally moved Fenrir, and the seawater from Long Island Sound, and pulled them out of the freezer. I imagined placing them on the ground right where the chains were. My bin shrank back to its original shape in the Duat, while a massive block of ice containing a frozen wolf appeared over the chains.
Odin chuckled and waved his hands over the chains. They shot up and wrapped around the block of ice.
"Hi-Nehm," Ziva said casting the joining spell on the chains. The broken chains resealed back together.
"Know this," Odin said. "You have done what the gods could not. You delayed Ragnarok, but you have not stopped it. Ragnarok shall still come to pass, and Loki shall return to seek vengeance."
On that cryptic note, Odin vanished in front of us, quickly becoming a cold wind and blowing away.
"Did he just forget to give us a lift out of here?" Percy said.
"Maybe I could summon my daily Bifrost Bridge," Annika said brightly.
"I think that was only meant for you," Annabeth said. "I kind of doubt Heimdall would carry us. Especially after we hijacked his rainbow twice."
"Come on then," I said. "We need to find a magic penguin, who can direct us toward the local Per Ankh Headquarters."
Percy's eye twitched. "Magic…penguin?"
"Yeah," I said.
"Just when I think that my life couldn't get any weirder," he said.
It didn't take us long to find the Per Ankh HQ. (Or a magic penguin. But we won't get into that.)
There were 5 magicians currently stationed in the Nome, and one was water elemental master. She used water from deep under the ice to make ice sculptures of pyramids and obelisks to use as portals. We only had to wait till sunrise to make a portal out of there. I created a portal back to camp Half-Blood, where I found Ardeth Bay was waiting for me. I have no idea how he had gotten from western Canada to Long Island New York in less than 24 hours, and the bird certainly didn't feel like telling me. I guess some things will forever remain a mystery.
Nico destroyed the Obelisk so no more magicians would be able to get into the camp. We said our goodbyes, and then Annika took her Bifrost Bridge home. Argus the camp security guard gave Ziva and me a ride to Manhattan.
In Central Park I used Cleopatra's Needle to open a portal to my home in Madagascar. Ziva planned to use the temple of Isis in the nearby museum to head home. We said our goodbyes and I returned through the portal to my home.
It was late afternoon in Madagascar when I arrived through the obelisk I had set up for my comings and goings. I had opened the portal in New York at noon, so it was almost seven when I arrived. I was tired and hungry. I ate a little food from my cupboard, and then collapsed on my hammock, ready to sleep for the next week.
My Ba on the other hand felt like taking a little trip. I'm not certain where I was but I was floating by a cliff face, and I could see Loki was clearly looking out over the cliff into the valley below. It must have been in Canada, because I could see the Banff Springs Lodge from our vantage point.
Loki wasn't alone either there was a woman with him. She was one of the most disturbing sights I've ever seen since I became a magician, and that's saying something.
On the one hand, she looked like a gorgeous supermodel. With long brown hair and clear blue eyes. She was wearing what looked like an expensive blouse and trendy jeans and high-heeled shoes. On the other hand, she looked like a rotting corpse, maggot eaten and decomposing. These two images were superimposed on top of each other, like a computer image…except I was fairly certain this was real.
"What now, Father?" the woman asked.
"I'm not certain, my dear," Loki replied. "The southern mage injured me. And the Roman gods have gained much power and influence in the world since I was bound. It's not the world that I remember."
"Will you still pursue Ragnarok?" she inquired.
"No," he said. "At least not yet. There are new factors to consider, my wounds are not yet healed and there is much about this new world that I need to learn. Let's just say that the Roman half-gods and the Egyptian sorcerers have given me much needed perspective."
Loki faded from sight as I jerked awake. A giraffe beetle was crawling across my face. I brushed the beetle away from me and sat upright. Then I groaned.
I had completely forgotten about Kherpi.
The End…For Now.
Author's Notes: ReviewGirl I wished to comment directly on your thoughts about Xander. He's an Egyptian Magician, so…yeah he IS pretty arrogant. I thought that Riordan had made it pretty clear in Red Pyramid that they were an arrogant bunch. Sadie and Carter were the exceptions because they were new. (And they're kind of arrogant too.) Even Julius, I mean really think about what he did and what he put his kids through. THAT'S arrogance. I DID want Xander to come off as kind of arrogant. Part of this story was to teach him some humility…did he learn…maybe, maybe not. You have to remember that this story was also told from Xander's perspective. He kind of has a biased way of looking at things. Percy and Annabeth may not have been as impressed as Xander thought they were. In fact, in my head they thought he was kind of preachy, but could see he was still a decent guy so decided to help him out anyway.