Chapter Ten – Into the Lion’s Den
Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Smallville, or any of the Norse Mythology that I am about to mangle to suit my own twisted purposes. Frankly, if you recognize, I don’t own it. This work may not be sold or used for profit in any way shape or form for that very reason. Please don’t sue me because I don’t have anything worth taking…
-== Chapter Ten – Into the Lion’s Den ==-
Xander stood across the street from the Sunnydale city hall, staring at it intently. Despite the fact that it was a physically unimpressive structure, it seemed to radiate an almost palpable sense of menace. A sort of malevolent power that was far more intimidating than any mere effort of architecture could have been. Clearly the building was tainted with an evil far deeper than just politics.
“Are you certain that bearding the lion in its own den is entirely wise, Alexander?” Eve asked quietly as she stepped out of nowhere to stand beside the young man.
“Absolutely not,” he replied with conviction. “It’s probably one of the dumbest things I’ve ever done, but I can’t just wait around on him to come after me either.”
“He is no ordinary adversary,” the Valkyrie admitted with a sigh. “In truth, he is none other than Jormungandr, the son of Loki who was also called the Midgard Serpent. Since his father’s death he has been trapped in human form here on Midgard, deprived of most of his powers thanks to a curse placed on him by the All-father.”
“The Midgard Serpent? The giant sea monster that was so large it circled the entire world and held its own tail in its mouth?” Xander was clearly taken aback by that revelation. “And he’s not actually just a sorcerer?”
“He is an extremely accomplished magician, a master of many forms of magic. And like his father, he is one of the immortal giants,” she said sternly. “Only one who was born immortal or gifted with the power to slay Gods has the ability to kill him. This is a battle that you cannot win, Alexander. Jormungandr despises all of the Aesir, especially the Thunderer, and desires naught but the complete and total destruction of Asgard.”
“So I can’t kill him, but with his magick he could kill me?” Xander asked. When Eve nodded, he looked thoughtful for a long moment. “Does he know that I can’t kill him?”
The Valkyrie was taken aback by his question. “No. None but the All-father knew whether or not you possessed that power before today.”
“If I really did possess the power to kill immortals, could I take him? Am I powerful enough?” He asked, pressing toward a point.
“Most assuredly, though whether you would survive the encounter has been a matter of great debate in the mead-halls of Asgard for centuries,” she said with a grin, having a sudden inkling of where he was going with this line of thought. “More than one prophecy has predicted that Jormungandr and Thor would be each other’s death. If you had the power to slay an immortal you could well be the Thor of which they spoke.”
“So would he really take that chance?” Xander asked, arriving at his point. “Do you think he would risk a confrontation with me while weakened by Odin’s curse and trapped in a human form? Especially if he doesn’t know that I can’t kill him?”
“It is highly unlikely, Alexander,” she conceded, “but this is a very dangerous game you play.”
“So is waiting for him to decide to try and kill me,” he countered. “Is there anything else I should know about snake-boy?”
“He has used the darkest of magicks to bind himself to this Hellmouth, hoping to use its power to overcome the curse of Odin and resume his true form,” the Valkyrie replied without hesitation. “He cannot leave the city of Sunnydale and his magick cannot reach beyond it as a result. He is trapped here unless he gives up his only chance to break Odin’s curse.”
“That’s good to know,” he said with a nod. “Is his plan going to work though? Will he be able to use the Hellmouth to break the curse?”
“Yes, eventually he will accumulate sufficient power to free himself of the curse though such a thing is at least years, if not decades, away yet,” she looked grim. “By then you will be much more powerful than you are now, you could slay him in the hours following his transformation, before his immortality returns.”
“Then I need to buy some time. At least until he breaks the curse,” Xander’s voice was grim. A thought crossed his mind, something from the books he’d read on magick while researching in the library. “If he can use magick, than he can be bound by magick, right?”
Eve nodded, looking puzzled by the question. Xander merely smiled in response. “Then it’s time to go bluff my way out of a battle that I can’t win.”
Xander strode purposefully across the streets, his stride determined and unfaltering. He was gambling with his life by doing this and he knew it, but no fear, no hesitation showed in his actions. For once in his entire life, he knew that he had an advantage, however slight it might be, and that he stood a chance of success. ‘Confidence is the key,’ he told himself mentally. ‘If I show any weakness, any doubt, he’ll see it and I’m screwed.’
The foyer of the city hall was surprisingly empty as Xander stepped inside. It was dominated by a single security desk manned by a lone member of Sunnydale’s finest. The police officer looked young and quite bored with his assignment, despite the fact that it was probably the safest job a Sunnydale police officer could possible draw.
“Can I help you?” the officer asked after a moment, looking up at Xander.
“Uh, yeah, I need to see Mayor Wilkins,” the teen responded simply.
“Down the hall, last door,” he said jerking a thumb toward the hallway in question.
“Thanks,” Xander said with a genuine smile. Now he just needed to figure out a way past the mayor’s secretary. A short distance later, he stepped cautiously through the door into the antechamber of the office. A rather cute young woman sat behind a desk where a smallish placard identified her as the receptionist.
“Can I help you?” she asked cheerfully.
“I’m Xander Harris, I need to speak with Mayor Wilkins,” he said with a smile, hoping that he wasn’t going to have to explain the reason for his visit.
“He’s expecting you, go right in,” she replied with a smile of her own.
“Thanks,” somehow he managed to keep his shock from showing. ‘Okay,’ he thought, ‘show time.’
He opened the door and stepped into a rather ordinary looking office where Richard Wilkins sat behind his desk signing some papers.
“Ah, Mr. Harris,” the human shaped snake said, looking up with his fake smile firmly in place. “I was beginning to wonder if you were going to show up today. Please, have a seat.” He gestured toward one of the chairs opposite his desk.
“I’m surprised you were willing to see me actually.” Xander said honestly. “All things considered it was a rather bold move, Mr. Mayor…or perhaps you’d rather I call you by your name, Jormungandr.”
Genuine surprise flitted briefly across his face, “Well, well, well… someone’s done his homework. It’s been a long time since I was called that by a mortal. Of course, I ripped out that mortal’s tongue… right before I killed him.”
“Yeah, but we both know that there are no mortals in this room, now are there,” the younger man said with a tight grin.
The mayor leaned back in his chair, eyeing the teen closely. “So that’s how you did it. You’re one of Thor’s whelps and you managed to find the hammer and claim his powers.” The mayor’s smile slipped, his eyes going cold and almost reptilian. “I should rip your heart out with my bare hands for your part in my father’s death, Thunder God,” he hissed, leaning forward suddenly.
Instantly, a full-size Mjolnir appeared in Xander’s hand, crackling with power. “And I ought to be beating you to death for your father’s deception… Of course, I’m stronger than this pathetic human form of yours, so killing you shouldn’t be too hard.”
“I’m harder to kill than you might think, Thunderer,” Jormungandr shot back.
“From what I hear, we throw down and one or both of us doesn’t walk away from it,” Xander said, his face set in a grim mask as he played out the heart of his bluff, “But if you really wanna have a go, bring it.” Inside, he prayed desperately that this ploy wasn’t about to cost him his life.
“What is it that you want, Mr. Harris,” the mayor asked, leaning back in his seat once more, a carefully neutral expression settled like a mask over his features.
With a nod, the hammer vanished from his hand and Xander seemed to relax a bit. “I want a truce,” he declared honestly.
“A truce?” the older man repeated, surprised. “Why?”
“Because I never asked to be shoved into this conflict,” Xander said, hoping his reasons would be convincing enough. “Up until a couple weeks ago, I was just a normal fifteen year old boy and I just don’t see any real reason why we have to kill each other right now.”
The man that called himself Richard Wilkins drummed his fingers absently, considering Xander’s words. “I want you out of Sunnydale, Mr. Harris.”
“And I want you to stop trying to break Odin’s curse,” the younger man countered. “So shall we skip to points we might actually be able to agree on?”
“I like you,” the mayor said with a smirk. “You’ve got spunk. I’m going to enjoy killing you someday. Alright, so what did you have in mind then?”
“A binding, magical agreement,” the teenager said simply. “A contract that will keep me from attacking you and you from attacking me so long as your curse is still in effect.”
“Acceptable,” the older man said with a smile. He stood up and walked to an armoire in the corner of his office. “You want it in writing or will a verbal agreement suffice?”
“Verbal is fine,” Xander said. “That way no one can ‘accidentally’ undo the spell by destroying the written contract.”
“You’re smarter than your school records give you credit for, Alexander,” the mayor said with a grin as he opened the armoire and withdrew a ritual dagger and chalice. He carried both items back to his desk. “The ritual is simple. We each recite exactly what we agree to and then spill a small amount of our blood into the chalice. Then we each drink from the chalice to seal the spell, which will then enforce the agreement.”
The mayor held the dagger and spoke, “I, Jormungandr Lokison, master of Sunnydale, swear that I will not attack Alexander Harris, scion of the line of Thor Odinson, so long as the curse of Odin the All-father remains unbroken on me.” With a swift motion he opened the palm of his hand with the blade, allowing some of his blood to fall into the chalice. Then he carefully cleaned off the blade and handed it to Xander.
“I, Alexander Harris, scion of the line of Thor Odinson, swear that I will not attack Jormungandr Lokison, master of Sunnydale, so long as the curse of Odin the All-father remains unbroken on him,” he said mimicking the other man’s words. He slashed open his hand and allowed a measure of his blood to mix with Jormungandr’s in the chalice.
Within moments the deep slash knit itself closed, a testament to the healing powers of the Aesir. With a broad smile, Wilkins scooped up the chalice and intoned, “As we have sworn, so mote it be.” Then he took a sip from the cup and handed it to Xander.
“As we have sworn, so mote it be,” he repeated and sipped from the cup as well. The moment the blood touched his tongue, light surged up around them and a strange power rose on the air. After a few moments, the power faded into the two of them.
“The truce is sealed,” the mayor declared. “Neither of us may attack the other.” His smile abruptly vanished. “Now get out of my sight and heed my warning: leave Sunnydale or you will come to regret it.”
“You just said you can’t hurt me, Jormungandr,” Xander replied evenly, “you might want to lay off the empty threats.”
“I never make empty threats, Alexander. Have a nice day.” The man sat back down behind his desk and resumed working on the paper work he’d been doing when Xander arrived, completely ignoring him.