Read Fimbulwinter (Daniel Black) Online

Authors: E. William Brown

Fimbulwinter (Daniel Black)

BOOK: Fimbulwinter (Daniel Black)
9.09Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Fimbulwinter

A Daniel Black Novel

By E. William Brown

Copyright 2014 E. William Brown

Amazon Kindle Edition

2

Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Epilogue

3

Chapter 1

I probably would have said no, if I hadn’t just had the most epically bad

week of my life.

It started out well enough. My team had been working round the clock on

our current software project, and on Monday we finally delivered the first

release candidate to QA. Granted it was just a project management app for the

company’s oilfield operations, but it was still a good feeling to know we were

closing in on the finish line.

Like a lot of software projects the original estimates had been wildly

overoptimistic, and what was originally supposed to be a ten-month project

was now in its fifteenth month. But another few weeks of bug fixing would see

it finally finished, and we all agreed it was going to be nice not to have our

managers riding us to work sixty-hour weeks anymore.

On Tuesday management announced that they were pulling the plug on the

project. It was too far over budget, and apparently the executives didn’t

believe us about being almost done. So the last year and a half of my work got

flushed down the drain because some pointy-headed boss wanted to cover his

ass. Needless to say, I was not a happy camper.

On Wednesday they announced that the whole team was being laid off.

The company had decided to outsource future development to some outfit in

India that was already happily making impossible promises about future costs

and delivery dates. Most likely they’d just bill lots of hours and deliver crappy

code for as long as the company was dumb enough to keep paying. But

whatever happened, it wasn’t my problem anymore.

I had a month of severance pay coming, which was one nice thing about

being a senior developer instead of one of the junior guys. But the layoff was

effective immediately, and security was on hand to oversee the whole team as

we packed up our cubicles and turned over our company laptops before being

escorted out of the building. Wouldn’t want some disgruntled employee doing

something nasty to the network, after all. It was barely afternoon when I found

myself unexpectedly on the road home, wondering what I was going to tell

Amanda.

4

I needn’t have bothered. I opened the door of my little suburban home to

find my wife of three years bent over the couch being enthusiastically serviced

by some guy I didn’t know. Needless to say, there ensued a great deal of

shouting.

You might think that a woman would be ashamed to be caught cheating

like that, but Amanda’s rationalization skills proved equal to the occasion.

While stud-boy made his retreat she loudly proclaimed that her actions were

all my fault because I worked too much, didn’t spend enough money on her and

generally failed to deliver happiness to her on a silver platter.

I actually had to leave the room so I wouldn’t punch the bitch. But that

turned out to be a bad idea, since it gave her a minute to call the police and

give them some sob story about a domestic disturbance. In our enlightened

state the police take such calls very seriously - the current policy is that the

male on the scene is automatically arrested regardless of circumstances, just in

case he turns out to be a spouse abuser or something. So the last I saw of

Amanda was her smug expression as they hauled me off for a night in jail.

Yeah, that was a lot of fun. Who ends up in an overnight holding cell these

days? Violent drunks, vandals who were probably gang members, some pimp

who was beating a hooker in public, a random assortment of drugged up kids

and insane street people. Great company. It’s a good thing the cops take your

valuables before they lock you up, or I’d have been mugged for sure. As it was

I managed to emerge the next day with nothing but a couple of bruises and an

expanded vocabulary.

But I couldn’t go home, because the restraining order was served before I

even got out of the building.

Surprised? I certainly was. I always thought you needed some sort of

finding of imminent danger to get one of those things. But no, apparently my

being arrested on a domestic disturbance call is enough to get the judge to

rubber-stamp the application. Good thing I’d had my wallet on me when I was

arrested, or I’d have really been in trouble.

I managed to find a lawyer and get an appointment for the following day,

since things were obviously going to get messy at this point. But the news

wasn’t getting any better. He told me Amanda would almost certainly get the

house, which I’d almost finished paying for, along with half our assets and five

or six years of spousal support. Oh, and add in another twenty or thirty grand

5

for legal expenses. Good thing we didn’t have kids.

I was halfway back to the motel from that meeting when some asshole in a

pickup truck blew through a red light and broadsided me.

So Friday night found me lying in a hospital bed with a broken arm, two

broken ribs, a concussion and more bruises than a professional boxer after a

tough match. They were probably going to let me go in the morning, but my car

was totaled and so was my phone. I was desperately trying to think of someone

whose phone number I could remember, and who might not actually believe the

stories Amanda was apparently spreading about what a violent douchebag I

was, when things suddenly got even more surreal.

“Well, you certainly don’t look like much. I suppose I’ll have to throw in

some instant healing if we can make a deal. Will you bargain with me, Daniel

Black?”

The voice was female, cool and controlled with an undercurrent of

sarcastic black humor. I looked up, and felt my jaw drop.

You know how the actresses they cast to play badass babes in action

movies never quite pull it off? How no matter how hard they try, most of them

tend to look like pretty girls playing at being tough?

My visitor could’ve showed them how it’s done.

She was a tall, statuesque woman of Mediterranean complexion and

unearthly beauty, with dark hair and eyes like pools of living shadow. She

carried herself with the casual confidence of someone who knows they’re the

most dangerous thing in the building, an impression that was further enhanced

by the fact that her outfit seemed to consist entirely of black leather and

knives.

I would’ve wondered how she got them past hospital security if not for

the fact that she was translucent, about 6 inches tall, and floating in the air

above my bed.

For a split second I wondered if I was losing it. But no, people crazy

enough to have detailed hallucinations aren’t normally lucid enough to wonder

about their own sanity. Besides, assuming things are real is generally a lot

safer than assuming they aren’t.

I closed my mouth, and took a deep breath.

6

“That would be nice. What are we bargaining about?”

She sighed. “Those idiot Aesir have finally started Ragnarok on a world a

few octaves down from this one, and my last living worshipper is in trouble. I

need someone to rescue the silly girl so she can grow up and make some

converts, and my divinations tell me you’re the best option I can reach in time.

Will you bargain with me? I need a yes or no on that one, please. Rules of

magic.”

“Um, sure. Yes. But why me? I’m not exactly a mighty-thewed warrior

here.”

“I despise warriors,” she sniffed. “Give me a wizard or a clever rogue

any day of the week. That’s why I’m looking here. There’s a quirk of the

relationship between worlds that will allow me to grant you sorcerous powers

during the journey if you agree, without any great cost to myself. So that’s my

first offer to you. Healing for your injuries, and as much magical power as you

can seize for yourself, in return for protecting my worshipper Cerise for as

long as she remains my only worshipper.”

This was so unreal. But as far as I could tell it was actually happening. I

tried to think. What do you ask for when a mysterious woman offers to pay you

for a mission to a fantasy world?

“What kind of magic are we talking about?” I asked cautiously. “And who

are you, anyway?”

“I am Hecate. But don’t be too quick to judge me by my reputation. The

victors write the histories, and what do you think the people of Afghanistan or

Ukraine will say about America in a hundred years? I’m a nightmare to my

enemies, but my own people have no cause to fear me.”

“As for the magic… damn, you have no magic at all on this world? But a

million speculations, so at least there’s something to work with. Right? A

‘sorcery’ is an instinctive command of any one thing that you can conceptualize

as an element. When I drag you through the interspace the energies there will

fill you and be channeled by your thoughts, giving you whatever sorcery you

focus on. Depending on how quick your wits are you should have time to grab

three or four elements at a much higher level than human sorcerers normally

get.”

“Now quickly, I need an answer. Cerise and her coven-mate are under

7

attack, and we’re running out of time.”

I hesitated. “Maybe. You said Ragnarok. How do we survive the end of

the world?”

“Hah! It’s the end of the Aesir, not the world. Flee the northlands and find

a hiding place in the south, retreat to the faerie realms, leave the world, hell

you could join Loki’s army if you want. A world in chaos is full of opportunity

for a man with power. But if you need another carrot, we can shorten the term

of your agreement. Protect Cerise for a year and a day, and we will bargain

again if she still needs your help. Do we have an agreement?”

I looked around at the hospital room, and thought about what I had to look

forward to in the life I was living now. Then I thought about a world full of

people in danger, and two witches I didn’t know who were probably about to

be eaten by orcs or something.

“What the hell. I’ll do it.”

She let out a sigh of relief. “Excellent! Thank you, Daniel. Do your work

well, and I may have other offers for you in the future. Now, let’s get this show

on the road before it’s too late. Just focus on the elements you want, one at a

time. No one has ever done this for someone from a world like yours, so I’m

counting on you to munchkin the hell out of it. But you’re dropping right into

combat, so don’t forget to take something you can fight with!”

I opened my mouth to ask for more details on that, but the room dissolved

around me before I could speak. Then I was tumbling through a roaring

technicolor maelstrom, and a shock like lightning jolted through me.

“Focus!” Hecate’s voice sounded urgently in my ear. “Now! You have to

give the power an outlet, or it’ll tear you apart.”

Fear is a great motivator. I gathered my wits and tried to concentrate. An

element. I needed an element. An easy one to start with. Earth.

Cold, solid stone and warm, fertile earth. The essence of endurance, but it

could be shaped in so many ways. Understanding blossomed from nowhere,

along with a power unlike anything I’d felt before. It was instinctive, as easy

BOOK: Fimbulwinter (Daniel Black)
9.09Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

The Cresperian Alliance by Stephanie Osborn
The Only Poet by Rebecca West
Faith by Viola Rivard
The Road to Oxiana by Robert Byron
Hot Money by Sherryl Woods
Silence Over Dunkerque by John R. Tunis
Southern Haunts by Stuart Jaffe
I Don't Want to Be Crazy by Samantha Schutz