Stone Cold Deception
by Patrick Iversen
A scent of burning logs suddenly infiltrated his sensitive nose. He must be close, he thought, he could smell the same log fire that he’d smelt so many times over the years.
Into the small clearing he ran, taking a look behind him to make sure he was alone before one last sprint to his cabin. Sure enough, chimney smoke shot out the top of the house giving him a rush of hope.
Young Tomas opened the door screaming his mother’s name.
Standing by the fireplace with her back to him was his mother. She was out of bed!
“Mama!” Tomas yelled excitedly.
His mother turned around to see her little boy standing there, stained with blood head to toe, tracking in dirt and slush as he proceeded forward to hug her.
“Tomas, you are safe! I was so worried about you. Where is your father? I’ve missed you both so much,” Ingri said.
They collapsed in each other’s arms embracing only as a mother and son could do. She could feel him shaking as little tears ran down his face making a watery path through the dirt and blood covering his cheeks. He was so happy about how he found his mother; he didn’t even care to ask why she was out of bed.
Tomas sobbed, “The mean troll threw Papa and hurt him real bad. I don’t know where he is! We need to go back!”
“Oh my,” she smiled.
Tomas’ lips curled at the ends with as much of a smile as he could muster. “Mama, I brought this back for you to feel better,” he said giving her the flask.
Then Ingri stood up, releasing her son, examining the vial of troll blood before tucking it into her blouse.
Ingri smiled and patted him on the top of his head, “Good boy. Please, run to the cellar. Prepare my wagon for our journey while I collect fresh rations.”
“What should I load into your wagon?” he asked.
“Absolutely everything,” she responded.
Tomas wiped the tears from his eyes, perplexed with her request. But with the mother love he felt, he managed to squeeze out a full smile as he scurried down the staircase.
“Don’t forget child, the wagon is around back. Remember, load everything. We don’t know which of your father’s inventions can defeat this troll...”
Ingri glided over and sat in Arvid’s favorite armchair, thinking of all the treasures Tomas was now loading into the wagon outside.
The riches Arvid had attained over the years were no legend. They were real, and magnificent. It wasn’t so much the gold that was attractive, but the various instruments and weapons he and his family had created throughout the ages; they were powerful enough to slay gods and rival their powers.
“Quickly now, young man!” she smiled as Tomas gathered the last of the priceless dwarf creations.
The adolescent Tomas grinned as he knew they were about to embark on their journey to rescue father. “That’s all of it, mama.”
“Are you certain? Did you remember the one below your father’s bench?”
A befuddled look stretched across Tomas’ face, and he ran back down the stairs.
Ingri hastily followed him, gently closing the door, and turned the lock.
She walked away as Tomas banged the door with his little fist, wondering what happened. “Mama! I’m locked in here, open the door!”
“No...simple child, you are safer in there! Farewell, young Tomas.”
Ingri casually shrugged while Tomas continued to beat the door, pleading that it wasn’t safe for her.
She went back to the chair and sat down for a moment, inspecting a dwarfish weapon she had collected earlier.
“Hmm... this might very well be of use against somebody’s hammer,” she thought aloud.
Turning her head toward the window, she could now see the sun had started to rise. She stood up and yanked open the curtains. “Hmm...” said Ingri when she noticed the slight overcast shading out the emerging sun.
She attached the flask to her hip and pranced out the back door of the dwelling, smelling the fresh winter air, and taking it all in. She casually approached her wagon which was now chock full with the dwarfish treasures.
Walking around the side, she was utterly stunned to see the elder dwarf, atop the wagon seat glaring down at her.
Fear and confusion filled Ingri’s thoughts as she grinned and cowered back a few feet. “Arvid, hello!” she yelled, while narrowing her eyes at the dwarf’s battered arms. “My, what a tale you must have to tell!”
The fire in Arvid’s eyes made Ingri realize the plans were being jeopardized.
“Scoundrel! Have you no wit? You dare trespass upon the land of those whom the gods favor?!” Arvid boomingly asked.
“What do you speak of my love?” she questioned.
Arvid gazed deeply with hatred into the lush green eyes of his wife.
“Your games are up, shape-shifter. Reveal yourself!” the angry dwarf accused.
“Shape-shifter? Have you lost your wit? Come, come inside and I’ll have you fixed up, husband!”
“Silence! Show yourself trickster! You have not the gentle eyes of my loving Ingri!” Arvid accused.
Ingri stood in astonishment. He had underestimated the stout dwarf, slowly transforming into his true self.
Standing about three meters high, he had slick blond hair with a matching goatee. His dark green eyes matched the tunic he was known to wear around the land as he wreaked havoc.
The trickster stroked his neatly trimmed facial hair, as he glowered up at his nemesis. “You are not quite in the position to give orders, Arvid. I highly recommend we step inside, perhaps to, say, cut a deal?”
“Mmhmm. My arms are all but splintered, and I have no way to open the door.”
Displaying a pitiful look, Loki grinned. “But of course, it would be my pleasure.” The mischievous god suddenly noticed the mixing clouds overhead coming closer as thunder rolled not far away. He looked around rapidly, raising the dwarf’s eyebrow in concern. Yet, there was no other but the two of them.
Relief swept over Loki’s face as he escorted him toward the door. Glimpsing down toward Arvid, he could see the dwarf exchanging a menacing stare.
“Nervous?” Arvid asked the god.
Loki laughed aloud. “Nervous? Me? I think not,” he said. A bead of sweat trickled down his brow as he pushed open the door and allowed Arvid to limp in.
“Tomas!” he yelled. “Tomas! Ingri!?”
He heard the sound of small footsteps heading up the stairs toward the locked cellar door. A small muffled voice came out, “Papa? You’re alive! Please let me out of here!”
Arvid turned toward Loki who had his arms up in an aloof, yet innocent posture.
Shaking his head in despair and anger, Arvid reached for his weapon, but his lame arms were unable to grip even the most delicate of flowers.
Loki grinned as he reached into his tunic, sliding out the flask of blood the dwarves had so bravely collected from the vicious troll. He laughed in a mocking tone, “It’s a shame that troll proved to be so useless. How did you get away? You’re practically crippled!”
Arvid’s body was trembling. He knew he’d been duped several times over and didn’t want to speak about it.
“Very well. But may I ask a question, peck?” Loki pondered.
Arvid reluctantly flicked his head, signaling the god to continue.
Loki clicked his lips. “Rest assured, I have no quarrel with you. And nothing would make me happier than to relinquish this vessel into your possession. However, I am interested in how important this actually is to you, perhaps more than your treasures?”
“Hand it over now, and I’ll reconsider making your shoulders lonely for your head!” Arvid bellowed.
Loki pointed to Arvid’s broken limbs, shaking his finger back and forth.
Mustering all the strength he had, Arvid felt his bones popping and crackling as he reached around to his backside, unsheathing a blindingly shiny blade.
Loki’s face turned pale.
“Yes, I see you know what this is.” Arvid said.
“Umm, well yes, I mean, why do you have... You dare turn that on a god!?” Loki shouted.
“Dare? I do indeed. Now hand the vial to me right now, or there will be one less in the pantheon above!”
Stumbling for words, the god felt cornered. “Easy, easy, you move too soon, fellow. I have no problem giving you the contents of this flask, should you allow me to simply walk out the door without trouble. What say ye?” Loki maniacally asked.
“Deal,” grumbled Arvid.
“Shake on it?” Loki laughed, as he mocked the dwarf’s broken arms.
“Hand it over!” yelled the dwarf whilst sheathing his blade.
Arvid struggled as he extended his crippled arms to accept the flask.
Loki reached out, keeping eye contact with his adversary. As he did so, he unscrewed the top, pouring the troll blood into the shaking hands of the dwarf.
Immediately cupping his hands, Arvid lost his temper, “What are you doing!? Stop this!”
Blood began to slowly trickle in between the cracks and crevices of Arvid’s cupped fingers.
As Loki shook the last drops out; “Now that’s better. You may walk into that room over there and nourish the one you love or drop your world onto the floor below and prevent me from taking your life’s work.”
The dwarf began to tremble with anger, but he held his crippled hands firm and made his way to the bedside.
A menacing smile encased the trickster’s face. ”I promised you the blood, not the flask itself.”
“Now then, let me try this again.” Loki said confidently. Out the front door went the trickster, relishing in the thoughts of his new gains. Seating himself atop the wagon, he violently yanked the reins, steering the reluctant horses toward the path back toward town.
One, and then another: small raindrops fell onto the god’s head, trickling down his pointy nose. Muttering a curse, he pulled up on the reins. He let out a deep breath, and said “Nephew! How are you? You’ll never guess what I’ve brought for us!”
Blocking his path, a mountain of man stood, controlling the storms above. He unsheathed his massive war hammer dripping with troll blood, and cocked it back.
Back at the cottage, little Tomas watched as the trickster tried to make off with their wealth. “Papa, who’s that large man standing in front of Mama’s wagon?”
Arvid stood up from his wife’s bedside to make his way over to his boy. Letting out a hearty laugh, he said, “Son, we need to stand away from the window immediately.”
Copyright © 2009 by Patrick Iversen