‘Don’t lie to me,’ he said softly, staring into Loki’s eyes. ‘I know exactly who you are. A named thing is a tamed thing. I hereby name you child of Chaos. I name you Keeper of the Fire.’
Loki sneered. ‘That’s rather vague …’
The pale young man showed his teeth. ‘Oh, I haven’t finished yet. I name you Sky Traveller, Farbauti’s son, Begetter of Serpents, Father of Wolves—’
‘Father of Wolves?’ Loki frowned. The words were beginning to take effect – words or Word, he did not know – although what a trio of boys of the Folk would be doing with one of the secret texts from the Book of Invocations he could not at present begin to guess.
The three were not members of the Order. Of that he could be certain, he thought. But the words alone were powerful. A named thing is a tamed thing. Not that they stood a snowball’s chance of actually taming Wildfire. But in his present Aspect, subject to all the weaknesses and imperfections of his human form, they could perhaps come painfully close.
‘Look here,’ said Loki, playing for time. ‘This really won’t get you anywhere. But if you’ll just tell me what you want, then maybe we can do a deal. I can get you anything – gold, weapons, runes – women …’
The hairier brother – the one called Big H – looked up at this with some interest. Loki guessed that the three of them hadn’t had much luck with women – not entirely surprising, he thought. Their social skills were hardly impressive, and one – or maybe all – of them smelled.
‘Women,’ he went on silkily. ‘Oh yes. I know ways to make you irresistible to the sweeter sex. I can teach you cantrips you wouldn’t believe – runes to melt an ice maiden’s heart. I swear, by the time I’ve finished with you, they’ll be queuing up halfway to the Ridings to see you. Redheads, blondes, brunettes – or if you like exotics and you’re not too worried about the progeny, then I know some demons who’ll blow your mind and spoon it up like ice cream—’
‘He can talk, can’t he?’ said Big H.
‘He sure can,’ grinned his friend.
The pallid youth ignored them both. He simply went on with the canticle as his two friends watched with eager eyes, nudging each other in suppressed excitement, and Loki felt what was left of his strength ebb slowly away into the dark.
‘I name you Trickster, Father of Lies. I name you sire of Half-Born Hel. I name you Fire-Bringer, Architect and Destroyer of Worlds. I name you Archangel, Fallen One, Opener of Forbidden Doors, builder of the Citadel. I name you Dogstar, Lighter-than-Air …’
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