Why should everyone assume the old gods have gone, just because we don't believe in them any more? I mean, no-one believed Donald Trump would get to be President.... I rest my case.
“...tho am I...” drifted through the air, the falsetto cutting through the sound of conversation. I looked around, already sure what I'd see.
Sure enough, there was Loki leaning on the bar just as I'd expected, holding court with a crowd of his cronies as usual.
“... but wathn't it wonderful!” he concluded, explosive lisp spraying those closest to him once again.
The cronies all laughed uproariously of course, and so did everyone else in earshot. I rolled my eyes, and briefly wondered if I'd be better off heading down to Ragnarok Cafe instead. No, all the drinks there tasted mass produced, which they were, and more like fizzy piss than anything a warrior ought to pour down his neck. The Jolly Valkyrie was still the only CRAM approved mead hall within easy walking distance of my lodgings, and I didn't dare ask Mjolnir to drive again so soon after the previous night; he'd have been fractious at best, and quite likely would have refuse point blank, and then where would I be?
With a sigh I stepped into the place, letting the door swing closed to shut out the night behind me.
I headed for the shadowy corner at the far end of the bar, but unfortunately Loki caught a glimpse of me out of the corner of one eye and beckoned me over. Not wishing to appear churlish... No, let's be honest, specifically because Dad had ordered me in no uncertain terms not to appear churlish, I sighed and bent my course towards my dear brother.
“So what's new bro?” Loki asked, a huge grin rising over his late.
“Not a lot since Vinland.” I replied.
That drew a reasonable laugh, though not as loud as the previous one, then a shuffle at the rear of the crowd drew my gaze, and I quietly cursed my carelessness. At least half the heads had turned towards Lief, who mumbled something incoherent and hung his head in shame. I was sorry to have embarrassed him; he might have been the youngest there (of the old-guard anyway) but he's one of the last proper heroes and deserved better. Besides, in this limp, lame, politically correct era he's one of the few people left who seems even to remember how to have a good time, and I really didn't want to piss him off.
“So what brings you here?” I asked, less out of any desire to know than as a way to plug the awkward silence, “Don't you usually head straight down to the Cafe after work?”
“Yes I do,” Loki replied, “but for some reason they seem to be closed for redecorating.” Loki stared at me pointedly, “You wouldn't know why, would you?”
“No idea.” I replied, “Maybe they've decided its time to install a bit of character.”
Despite my smart-ass response I did realize it was unusual, as Ragnarok Cafe had only redecorated six months before and, while I'd personally hated the new hip-hop theme, it certainly seemed to be popular when I'd passed it the night before.
I contemplated the situation for a few moments. I vaguely remembered hefting Mjolnir and wondering exactly what would happen if I threw him at one of the fatuous phrases picked out in neon that adorned what passed for a bar area in the Ragnarok Cafe. Would there be an explosion of pink sparks that would turn all the self-satisfied staff even pinker than usual, or would the hammer simply plonk down on an unattended stool, order a mocha, and strike up a conversation with one of the barristas?
I remembered thinking to myself,
“If he did that, it would serve him right if he got invited home at the end of the night.”
Mjolnir, sensitive as always to the tenor of my thoughts, had grown heavy for a moment in the way I had long since learned to associate with the rebuke,