Hand of Tyr
Eddie D. Moore
The gathered crowd cheered as the guillotine’s blade fell with a quick rasp followed by a resounding thud. Tyr slid between onlookers and slowly weaved his way closer to the center of the chaos. As he thought, he recognized the priest that was walking beside the next condemned prisoner. The priest slowly led the man toward his doom and up the raised platform that lifted the guillotine for all to see. When the priest turned and looked over the crowed, Tyr lowered his face and did his best to melt into the crowd even though he knew he would not be recognized. Tyr spoke softly to himself, “How typical of you, Loki. If you can’t beat them, join them.”
The rise of Christianity left the many of the old gods nearly powerless as they lost followers by the masses. Not trusting one another, they scattered throughout the world searching to build a following and reclaim their lost power. The faith and trust of humans were hard won, but it was a source of power no god could ignore.
While the soldiers strapped the man down, Loki leaned in close to the condemned man’s ear and spoke softly. No mortal in the crowd could’ve heard him over the noise, but Tyr was no mortal, and he was not completely powerless.
“You have nothing to fear. Your sins have all been confessed and the sacraments were properly administered, but take care to control your thoughts as you hear the blade drop. I would not want your soul lingering in purgatory over venial sins.” Loki leaned even closer to the man. “You may remain conscience several seconds afterward, so try to think good thoughts.”
Loki stepped back as a soldier stepped forward, and placed a splatter shield around the man’s head. The blade fell with a solid thump as Loki searched the crowd for a presence that tickled the back of his mind. He squinted as he met the eyes of a young French Officer a moment before the man slipped from sight.
Loki turned as someone tapped his shoulder. “Mon Père’ would you like to continue?”
“Yes. Yes. Let’s get this over with. Who’s next?”
Tyr leaned back in the chair and propped his feet on the desk. He had no difficulty learning the name Loki was using or where he could find him. The walls of the Loki’s office were lined with books and Tyr smiled trying to picture Loki consulting books in preparation for a sermon. He shook his head in amusement and tapped the heel of his boot on the top of the desk to see how much dirt came off. Loki was clearly not surprised by his presence when entered and slowly closed the door.
“Are you enjoying my desk monsieur?”
“Very much so, Mon Père’ Lucien. Or should I just call you Loki?”
Loki’s eyes narrowed. “I can sense your presence and the magic you are using to disguise yourself, so you don’t completely have me a disadvantage.”
The officer pulled his arm out from under of his shirt to reveal a stump where his hand should have been. Loki released a long sigh. “Tyr? Well if it isn’t my favorite cuckold.”
Tyr removed a chain holding a pendant from around his neck as he stood, dropping his disguise and all pretense of friendliness. The short French Officer could’ve been easily dismissed as a threat, but only an insane blind man could mistake Tyr as harmless. Tyr’s eyes burned intensely, and he stared at Loki for several long seconds.
The anger in Tyr’s voice lessened as he mastered his emotions. “If you call me that again, I will break you in half and bury you deep under the Palais de Justice.” Loki broke eye contact, turned away and began pouring a drink. “Now what brings you to France and why are you working as a priest?” Tyr spat out the word priest as if the word tasted bad.
Loki took a seat and sprawled leisurely while sipping his drink. “These so called Christians took everything from us, but on the bright side, they tend to give their faith blindly to those in the proper position. Who knows, I may have the entire group following me in a couple decades. I’ve also found that I rather enjoy watching them kill each other.” Loki took a drink while he studied Tyr’s expression. “It turns out that the priesthood is a position of power and they entrust a measure of faith in their priests. It is better than nothing.” Loki swirled his drink, took a sip and glanced at the pocket where Tyr placed his necklace. “Now, quid pro quo. Why are you here?”
Tyr looked out the window and shrugged. “They entrust a measure of faith to their military leaders as well. They don’t even have to know it is me they are trusting.” Tyr gave Loki a measuring look. “But you already knew that. I’m guessing that you are in some way behind this Cult of the Supreme Being movement.”
“I could be, or I could be Pope in the near future. It’s good to keep your options open.”
Tyr walked to the door and returned to the appearance of a French Officer as he pulled the necklace over his head. He plunged his stump deep into a pocket then rested his other hand on the door handle. “I plan on conquering this land and the lands around it. You can continue to keep your options open, but stay out of my way. I would hate for this beautiful church to burn and crash down on top of your head.”
After the door closed behind Tyr, Loki tapped three quick times on the wall behind his desk. The book case slowly moved to the side revealing the space between the thick walls, and a dark haired man with shifty eyes slid silently into the room. “How may I serve?”
“Follow the man that just left, and learn all you can. He carries an item that I wish to acquire.”
The dark haired man nodded and slid back into the walls. Just before the bookshelf closed completely, Loki spoke firmly. “And Louvel, if you get caught, you don’t know me.”
The reply was a gravelly whisper. “Know who?”
Louvel grabbed a bag he kept packed just before he slipped out one of the church’s side doors and kept the officer in sight as he followed him through the busy streets. The man walked directly to his inn and never even checked to see if he was being followed. In Louvel’s experience only foolish people or people way to self confident never looked over their shoulder, and he wondered which category this officer fell into.
The common room was nearly full, but Louvel found a suitable table easy enough. From the corner of his eye he saw the officer enter a room on the second floor, and he listened to the conversations around him while he waited. He could just make out most a discussion two tables away between a man whose rear end drooped over both sides of his chair and a man with no teeth.
“I thought a General would be taller.” The fat man laughed and took another drink.
No Teeth smacked his gums in annoyance. “Keep your voice down, or you might look like me.” He smacked his gums indicating the missing teeth. “He is sharing a room with a man, who I tell you, is unnaturally tall and muscular. Makes for a strange pair, it does.”
Double chins jiggled while the man laughed loudly, but he lowered his voice when he spoke. “Well each to his own if you ask me. Their business is their own. Besides if you take too much notice of what others are doing that could quickly earn you an appointment with Madame Guillotine. There is a little more at risk these days than teeth my friend.”
Louvel searched for other conversations while the fat man laughed at his own wit. His attention turned to the waitress as she brought him a drink. Her smile was very attractive, and he wondered which earned her more in tips, her smile or the cut of her blouse that left little to the imagination. He nodded and accepted the drink while admiring her smile. It took effort to keep his eyes on her face until she turned away and continued her rounds.
He shook himself as he noticed the officer and tall man descending the staircase. He wondered how the tall man had lost a hand, but with all the fighting the last few years missing body parts was not an uncommon sight. He could not believe his luck when the two chose a table close to him, and he thought to himself, Mon Père’ Lucien must truly have the ear of the Almighty.
The fat man’s voice grew louder as the waitress slipped into the kitchen. “Ah, it is a good thing she has such a pretty smile because she lacks the endowments to earn a living as a waitress.” The fat man held his hands cupped before him to indicate the endowments to which he were referring while he laughed.
The man with no teeth cackled. “As my grand-papa used to say, anything more than a handful is a waste.”
The chair creaked as the fat man leaned closer to his friend, but he didn’t lower his voice. “Oh, believe me, I don’t let anything go to waste.”
Louvel felt a burning desire to kick the fat man’s chair out from under him, and he let out a small sigh of relief when Toothless and the fat man scooted back their chairs and left the common room. He sipped at his drink and listened closely to the conversation between the tall man and the officer while they ate their meal.
“Monsieur, I believe our agreement continues to be mutually beneficial. Surely, the presence of this other should make no difference.”
“He’s unpredictable and untrustworthy. I will take a small group of soldiers tomorrow and arrest him just to make sure he doesn’t interfere. One of the benefits of the country’s current turmoil is that the slightest doubt of innocence demands the use of the National Razor.”
“Is that necessary? Maybe he will take your threat to heart.”
“For a warrior you seem rather weak at heart at times my friend. I know him well; interference is in his nature. I’ll have to strike quickly, or he will move against us.”
The officer’s eyes shifted to the waitress making her rounds. “There’s more to life than fighting. I will trust your judgment, but I’m still not completely sure what you are getting out of our arrangement.”
“My profits are my own affair. You are being promoted quickly thanks to my skills and earning a distinguished career that will one day land you in the history books as you wanted. Besides, as I promised, everything I do in your name will be for the good of France.”
“I have no complaints my friend, but the…”
Louvel dared not risk listening to more of the conversation, and he left his table to speak with the innkeeper who was drying mugs behind the bar.
“Excuse me monsieur, but would room three be available for the night?”
Then innkeeper bobbed his head. “It is. It is, but the rooms upstairs are much quieter.”
Louvel pointed to a crucifix that he wore. “Ah, but the number three is holy and blessed by the triune God. It has always brought me luck.”
The innkeeper nodded and handed over the room key after they settled on a fair price. Once in the room, Louvel pushed the bed to the side and centered the night stand where the bed had been. He retrieved a bit the size of his thumb and hand drill from his bag and began drilling through the ceiling while he stood on the night stand.
The bit was sharp and cut through the wood easily. When he broke through the floor of the room above, he looked through the hole and breathed a sigh of relief. As he suspected, the rooms were all furnished exactly alike and the hole was under the bed and out of sight. Satisfied that the hole would not be discovered, Louvel took a tube from his bag, got out a large sheet of paper and made a funnel shape out of it. He jammed the small end into the hole and smiled as he heard the door above and footsteps enter the room.
“Place the pendants in the moonlight to let them gather strength and get some rest. I find myself looking forward to tomorrow and doubt I will get much sleep. I cannot wait,” The voice took on a mocking tone, “to see Mon Père’ Lucien’s face when I have him arrested.”
Louvel opened the window, eased outside, and disappeared into the night. He loved the air at night, and he felt at home walking dark alleyways. Moving from place to place and hearing things not meant for his ears was Louvel’s natural born talents. He was considering accepting a position gathering information for the Committee of Public Safety when he met Mon Père’ Lucien, and he jumped at the chance to work even indirectly for the Church. The opportunity to cleanse his stained soul and use his talents was too good of an opportunity to pass up. Mon Lucien was still sitting at his desk when Louvel pushed open the book case and he smiled as Louvel entered.
“What have you learned my son?”
“They are plotting against you Mon Lucien. They plan on using false accusations to arrest you tomorrow.” Louvel paused to allow his words the chance to sink it, but Loki raised an eyebrow indicating that Louvel should continue. “Forgive me for spying Mon Lucien, but I saw what happened when he took off the necklace in your office.”
“There is nothing to forgive, Louvel. I am paying you to watch and listen.”
Louvel nodded. “It appears there are two magic pendants. I heard them speak of placing the pendants in the moonlight to gather strength while they slept.”
A wide smile spread across Loki’s face. “Hmm… You rented the room below them and drilled a hole through the ceiling so that you could hear them. Correct?”
Louvel’s eye grew larger. “Yes. How did you know?”
Loki patted Louvel on the shoulder and brushed away wood chips. “It is my job to understand the great mysteries of life. Now let’s return to your room and see if we can put a stop to their lies before they tell them”
“I will help anyway I can. They are clearly false witnesses and using demonic power. May I ask how we are going to stop them?”
Loki shook his head at the Louvel’s superstitions and pocketed a bag and metal bowl from one of his desk drawers. “We are going to steal their pendants, thus stripping them of their power, and then I will see that they receive the fruits of their lies and evil plans against God’s servants.”
“I thought stealing was a sin?” Louvel asked half-heartedly as he led Loki through the hidden passages.
“Remember David stole and ate the temple bread. Yet, God did not lay charges of sin against him. It is by your intentions that you will be judged, my son.”
Louvel smiled as he led Loki to the hotel and he considered his own intentions. By the time they crawled through window, he had decided that Mon Lucien was right, and that no purpose could be more just than taking power away from those who wish to use it for evil.
Loki grinned as he inspected the paper cone in the ceiling and whispered to Louvel as he pulled the bag and metal bowl from his pocket. He poured the contents of the bag into the bowl, placed a hot coal in the center of it, and then held it under the paper cone. The smoke slowly filled the cone and rose into the room above.
Louvel stepped closer to Loki and whispered. “Won’t they smell the smoke?”
Loki shook his head. “No. It is odorless and after they breathe it a few minutes, you could ride a horse through their room and not wake them.”
“I get the feeling that you have done this before.”
“I was not born a priest.”
Louvel narrowed his eyes at Loki. “And you just happened to have this in your desk?”
Loki shrugged. “Sometimes I have a hard time sleeping. It is time. Is the common room empty?”
Louvel opened the door a crack and looked around the common room. He looked back and whispered with a nod. It’s clear.”
“Good. Now go pick the lock and get what we came for.”
Louvel looked surprised. “How did you know I knew how to pick a lock?”
“I would never have hired you without learning all I could about you.” Loki rummaged inside of Louvel’s bag a moment, and then tossed him the bag of lock picks. Louvel caught the bag, blinked twice, and left the room without further comment.
The lock gave a familiar click, and Louvel slowly pushed the door open. The man with one hand sprawled on the bed snoring loud enough to wake the innkeeper. The Frenchman slept on a cot with one foot still on the floor as if he was about to get out of bed. Louvel ignored the necklaces sparkling in the moonlight and pulled a wooden plug from his pocket. He got on his knees at the foot of the bed, wiped away the wood chips, and pushed the plug in the hole until it was flush. He slipped the necklaces into his pocket and cracked the window open before carefully backing out of the room. He relocked the door and made his way back to his room without so much as a single floor board creaking.
Loki grinned as Louvel closed the door behind him. “Do you have them?”
Lifting one of the pendants from his pocket, Louvel nodded. He then stepped onto the night stand, plugged the hole in the ceiling, and repacked his bag. “They’ll never know we were here. Shall we go?”
Loki raised an eyebrow and held out his hand. As Louvel placed the pendants in his hand, dreams of replacing the Pope flashed through his mind. Millions of followers, the ear of kings, and the power that came with it were now only weeks away, instead of decades.
Louvel hesitated when he saw the eager sparkle that danced in Loki’s eyes. “Are you okay, Mon Lucien?”
Before Loki could answer lightning flashed and a tall shadow appeared on the wall until the sky went dark again. Loki turned and found Tyr standing on the other side of the window. “Did you really believe that I wouldn’t be prepared for one of your tricks?”
Sneering, Loki snatched the pendants from Louvel’s hand. “You’re a fool Tyr. I can use these to tear apart Christendom from the inside – return things to the old ways.”
“You’ll never convince me that you plan on doing anything for others, Loki. No, you will return what is mine and leave France, or I’ll see your head separated from your shoulders.”
Loki spun and ran toward the door. Louvel placed a foot in Loki’s path, and a moment later, Loki’s face smashed into the floor. Louvel wrenched the pendants from Loki’s hand, as the door burst open. Two soldiers wrestled Loki to his feet and held him tight.
Tyr held his arm through the window, and Louvel stopped just short handing over the pendants. “I’ve often worried that,” he inclined his head toward Loki, “he might not be a true priest. If you are truly working to restore my country, you will promise me that the false priest will be delivered to Rome for judgment, so that the Almighty may once again lay his blessings on France.”
Tyr sighed. “I’d rather have his head, but I will do as you ask.” He nodded to the soldiers, and Loki was dragged from the inn while he screamed threats and flung insults at the men holding him.
Louvel dropped the pendants into Tyr’s hands. “I find myself in need of employment.”
Tyr pocketed the pendants. “Ah well, you nearly made it past me. Your skills speak for themselves. France always has need of another set of ears, Louvel, and I’m always short a hand so look no further.”
Eddie D. Moore travels extensively for work, and he spends much of that time listening to audio books. The rest of the time is spent dreaming of stories to write and he spends the weekends writing them. His stories have been published by Jouth Webzine, The Flash Fiction Press, Every Day Fiction, Theme of Absence, Devolution Z, and Fantasia Divinity Magazine. Find more on his blog: https://eddiedmoore.wordpress.com/