Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Goodbye Blue Sky

"Did you ever wonder why we had to run for shelter
When the promise of a brave new world
Unfurled beneath the clear blue sky?"
Pink Floyd, Goodbye Blue Sky
Not too far from us, a dragon did a nosedive out of the sky, bringing with it a plane. It roared something I didn't understand because I don't fucking speak dragon, then it ripped into the plane like a can of sardines. Dead bodies poured out. It was going to be that kind of a day.

The dragon mostly talked to Harlan, who apparently understands everything.
I wasn’t really paying attention to that, I was hanging around in case it needed to be hit. It ended up not needing to be hit, which was both relieving and disappointing. It told Harlan what the deal was.
The deal was that the dragons were going to be coming back. Nine of them were already awake, and hungry and they all had weird names and were scattered all over the globe. One in Canada, one in Japan, one in Chile, one in Brazil (I think), one in England, one in New York, one in the Philippines, and (this is the best one) one in space.
Yeah. Space.

They were supposedly princes, and they were hungry, and they were insulted because apparently nobody was there with juice and cookies when the dragons woke up from their naps.
Also, the humans were supposed to have stayed out of the air. Oops.

So, the rest of the band needed to figure out who was going to go talk to which dragon and when, so that Harlan’s new friend (I’m going to call him Banana Splits) could fly around the earth three times at Mach 86 billion and take everyone to talk to their dragons.

Anyway, that was kind of not my problem. As the treaty had been arranged with humans previously, the dragons were not supposed to eat the humans and thus were not a threat to the people I have decided to protect.
The terms of the treaty also state pretty clearly that we divine types are supposed to keep our nose out of the humans’ business. I’m okay with hanging out in the background, and rushing in if they need us. But I’m not diplomatic, and I’m not patient, and I don’t like dragons. My hands are tied because of this stupid treaty, and those laws of the divine (which I might have to decide are more like guidelines). If the dragons turned on the humans and started eating people en masse, like I think they might but hope they don’t, then it will be my problem. But not until then. So I was going to deal with the shit that was my problem, and I set about doing what I told Gunnar I was going to do. I kept having to go back to him for advice and backup and just so I didn’t pull my hair out, though. I remember thinking, "Fuck, I don’t know how I’m going to handle navigating an underworld all on my own.
After Banana Splits showed up and spelled out the urgent need for diplomacy was when I’d asked Gunnar for advice and done my own awkward, rambling version of a long goodbye. Then I talked to Azzeza to make sure she actually wanted to go to Duat. She does. She’s the kind of kid that won’t back down once she’s said she’s going to do something. I like that about her. And she’s only kind of scared about the fact that the underworld might be plunged into darkness. So I told her to start getting ready to go, that I just needed to learn Ancient Egyptian so that I could actually talk to the people in the underworld and maybe be able to keep her safe a little bit.
Then I went and talked to Amanda to tell her to get ready, and to talk her into just letting me run off with her relic and convince her to stay where it was safe so that I only had to worry about protecting the soul of one child from damnation and destruction. I wasn’t really even completely sure I could keep me safe.
She seemed receptive to the idea of letting me borrow the scroll, but said she needed something that would let her cast spells. That’s how she keeps a lot of the kids safe.
I told her I would figure something out. I’m not going to be the reason she couldn’t protect the rest of the kids.

Then I went and talked to Kas, who wanted to go with me. But she also wanted to help with the dragons and couldn't do that and help me at the same time, and Kas was Azzeza's half-sister. I know if it was Susan... I would want to go, too. So I understood her feeling conflicted and I wouldn’t have been surprised if she were a little mad at me for putting her between an underworld and a dragon place.
Then Kas had the best idea ever and I felt like an idiot for not having thought of it myself. I didn’t have to take Azzeza now. I could just go to get Marie dealt with, and then I could come back to Midgar, planning on making another trip to Duat later. And when I went back to Duat I would know what to expect, and I would probably be stronger and maybe by then we’d have the darkness dealt with so I wouldn’t have to worry about leaving a baby in a world gone dark.
Kas is a genius, and she is my favorite cat lady.

So I talked to Gunnar again, letting him know that I wasn’t taking Azzeza after all and that I just needed to find something that would let Amanda cast spells and she’d be willing to trade relics with me.
Gunnar then mentioned that he just happened to have a dagger that would do just that. Marduk's dagger, the dagger the dead guy called “First Son” had given us, was a conduit to magic.
It was looking more and more like maybe I was actually supposed to go to Duat, things were starting to come together.

So then I told Amanda that I had a plan, and she didn’t have to come and us leaving wouldn't leave her without a relic, and we sat down and she started teaching me Ancient Egyptian. I started reading the scroll, hearing her translate it for me, describing how Isis gathered the pieces of her beloved Osiris and rejoined them and made her lover whole.
And that’s when I began singing. It was a song that began with equal measures hysterical laughter and prolonged expletive.
A little ditty that went something like: “Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck. Gods damn it.” When I stopped screaming I covered my face with my hands, then stood up straight and proper, looking around for Super Gunnar.
“Gunnar,” I called. “We need to talk.”
He was there with an unexpected amount of haste. “Good gods, you’ve scared the shit out of me. What is it?”
“Sorry, I’m really, really sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you. But Gunnar, Gunnar, Gunnar, Gunnar, Gunnar.” I told myself that saying his name helped me think and only made me sound a little crazy. Deep breath, Laurel. You are capable of having an intelligent conversation where you don’t ramble or swear at all. Well, much.
“Okay. So, I’m reading this scroll. And it’s the real-fucking-life account of how Osiris was brought back from the dead. All of the steps Isis took to put Humpty-Fucking-Dumpty back together. It’s a motherfucking how-to guide for bringing back dead people.” I was frustrated and terrified all at once. I knew that the answer was going to be in Duat. I knew I could figure out how to get Marie back. It just wasn't how I wanted it.
I wanted to do it myself, to finish cleaning up my own mess because I was the only one who'd pulled the trigger and Gunnar shouldn't have to keep putting himself in harm's way because I got trigger-happy one night.
I felt a little sick when I looked at him. I was trying so hard to just let him go, to do his own thing, and not have to follow me around. But that apparently wasn't going to happen. “And, um… of course, there’s a catch. All of Marie’s pieces have to go to Duat for it to be done this way.”
“What!?” He'd already grasped the inconvenience of the situation, and indicated as much with an eloquence which rivaled mine. “Gu- wu- fuck.”
I nodded solemnly. “Yeah. But this is it. This is the spell. This is how I do it. Except...” I had to point out the obvious, and the painful, and the true. “You’ve got her memories.”
He put his head in his hands for a second, then raised it back up and just said, “Fuck.” Then he just looked off at Banana Splits, and repeated himself. “Fuck.”
He looked back at me. He looked uncertain. “Do you think I could do it even if I tried? I’m not the sturdiest one around. And on top of that… how are you supposed to get her body and ghost there?” Yeah. He'd gotten it right. Fuck. I felt like I was going to burst into tears. I wanted Marie back, I wanted Erzulie happy, I wanted my sons in the clear, I wanted the intel on Kane. But not like this. Not if it meant getting Gunnar hurt, not if it meant hurting Gunnar.
I swallowed hard and thought even harder before I spoke. “If you don’t want to do it, or if you think the dragons are more pressing right now, then I won’t ask you to. I mean… fuck, you’ve already done so much to help me clean this whole mess up. I can find another way,” I stared hard at him, “if I have to.”
There had to be another way. It might be harder, and it would probably be more painful for me, but I looked at Gunnar and thought about how much had been taken from him because of me. In Guinnee we’d lost Sara. In Niflheim he’d lost… I don’t know what to call it. His bravado was gone; that place changed him. In Hades he’d lost parts of his memories. None of it would have happened if I had just kept my temper in check with Marie, and if I could keep Gunnar from getting any more messed up then any pain would be worth it.
“And no, you’re not the sturdiest,” I continued, because I’m not in the habit of fucking lying to my husband. It takes a bit more effort to keep him safe and well than it does to protect Nate, and Gunnar isn’t really any more reckless than Nate is. Not anymore. So the logical and obvious conclusion is that both spirits are willing but one's flesh is weaker.
“But neither is Amanda and somehow she thinks she’d be okay,” I pointed out. “If there’s no way around her going,” I added, mostly and hopefully referring to the hypothetical future in which I would be stronger and have something like a clue of what to expect when I get there, “I’ll protect her, just like I’d protect Kas and if you decide to come, I will protect you, too.” I made a serious face because it was a serious promise, and it was one I was sure I could keep. Then I fidgeted because I was nervous and a little scared. I was scared he would say he couldn’t go, and more scared that he would and that I’d be all wrong about being sure I could keep him safe. “And for getting Marie’s body there… I’ll fucking carry it. Hell, I’ll carry the whole godsdamned caravan if I have to. And for Marie’s ghost, I dunno. I figured I’d grab her by the hand or something. Find a ghost-leash or something. Or maybe I could summon her to me when I get to where I need to be.” I'd done that last bit before, which was why her soul was in Greece.
“Right, that might work. And really, now that I know that Amanda doesn’t have to come, I really don’t think we should let her. I think it’s well within our power to stop her from sneaking along with us, and I’d feel irresponsible not doing so. If it’s really as dangerous as we think, she wouldn’t stand a chance. I mean, if it comes down to it… we run an awful lot faster than she does.” I couldn't help but laugh at the mental image of demigods running away from a little thing like Amanda.
“True. You know, she may never forgive us… But I guess that’s good practice at being a mom, and probably means I’m doing it right.” I paused for a second. I wasn't sure either answer would make me happy, but I'd feel like a jerk for not making sure this choice had been his. “So, I’m giving you an out here. If you aren’t sure I can keep us all safe, and I mean absolutely sure, I’m not asking you to go. And if you feel like you’re needed somewhere else, not necessarily with the dragons but maybe investigating the darkness on this side, I’m not asking you to go. I’ll find another way if you are at all uncomfortable with this plan.” Just like he wasn't going to stand in the way when I felt like I had to go do something, I wouldn't stand in his way either. If he feels like there's something else that's more important, I can't hold it against him. “But I remember what it’s like to have Marie’s dreams and thoughts in my head from that week of nightmares courtesy of the Furies. I’m pretty sure I know why you came up barfing, and I figure the sooner I can get that bullshit out of your head, the better.”
Gunnar smiled and I felt my stomach unknot. I knew I'd been nervous and frustrated, but until I relaxed I didn't realize how tense I had been. Then Gunnar looked thoughtful for a minute. “You know, I’m an idiot. I’ll be going through those memories for the important stuff while we’re at it, so we don’t have to go through the trouble of interrogation or even just the waiting necessary for her to tell us what she knows once we put her back together. I mean, I remember it as perfectly as she will, and it’s been a while now since I’ve realized that I can pretty effectively think, talk, and chew bubble gum at the same time, so it shouldn’t be any problem.” I wasn't sure it would work that way, I mean... I couldn't go through his memories that way, but we could talk about that later. He had a moment where he just stood there, looking like he was going to say more any second, and I didn't want to interrupt... whatever it was. But then he just shook his head, apparently remembering that he was still talking to me. “Oh, but right. Look, I know you’re worried about being at fault for people getting hurt when they were depending upon your for protection, but if you were going to be able to protect Amanda, then I’m sure you’ll be able to protect me - at least from everything other than myself, and probably that too.”
I had to at least smirk at that. Hell, I've been protecting Gunnar from himself since he declared that encouraging a mythical serpent to eat him was a “tactical combat maneuver.” It's not, for the record. It's stupid.
“Besides,” he continued, “you talk about finding another way, but let's be honest, we both know there isn’t one.”
He was wrong on that. I was sure there was another one. Isis isn't the only person ever to have raised someone from the dead. This just seemed like the least painful way to get it done. Maybe I looked like I was going to argue, because he kept on, “And if there is, it’ll probably be months and months before we figure out what it is.” Okay, yeah. On that much he was absolutely right. And we didn't really have that kind of time. We never really had, I just made time because I got pregnant with our sons. “We’ll make it work,” He assured me. “We’re good together like that.” And like that, he had me smiling and relaxed again, because I could not argue with him. We were good together, and I was pretty sure we could handle damn near anything together.
It’s so fucking cheesy, but I know he makes me better and stronger. I hugged him and kissed him. “We are, aren’t we?”
Yeah. I had just let my husband talk me into putting his life, and maybe his soul since we were going to an underworld, on the line. And all he really had to do was smile at me. But he knew what he could handle, and seems to have a good grasp on what I can handle, and I trusted him to tell me if I was being stupid. I seem to remember that being part of the agreement before we got married, that I would let him talk me out of doing stupid shit and vice versa. So I wasn’t nervous anymore about going to Duat. I was relieved that he was coming with me, like this was the way it was supposed to be.
I didn't want to handle this solo, to do all of the thinking on my own. That should be his gig, the thinking. He can be the brains of this operation, and I will happily stand around and look distractingly good and occasionally chop things in half. This arrangement works for me.
“I guess this is one of those proddings from Fate about how we shouldn’t split up because we’re too awesome together,” I grinned. For a long time I’d been thinking about how different this all would have to have been if he weren’t with me. I mean, if he hadn’t lost his youth to Kairos we wouldn’t have gone to the Garden of the Hesperides and we wouldn’t have had the Golden Apples to give to Hades and Hades wouldn’t have let us near the Well, and Gunnar wouldn’t have gotten Marie’s memories and had to go with me to Duat and… And I’m not sure yet why he’s supposed to go but I’m sure in a decade or so it will come to me why it had to be him and it had to be now. It all happens for a reason, I just don't understand the reason right away.
“Plus,” I smiled gently, “this is a good way to make sure that we didn’t lose Sara for no good reason.”
And then my smile was gone. Fuck. Titans. “Sara. Daughter of Athena,” I said softly, hoping for some sign of recognition. For Gunnar's sake, I didn't want him to have forgotten this, too. “You watched her die, and you freaked when Hades sent her as one of the two souls we traded for Marie, and you freaked even more when the giganto-snake raided Bikini Bottoms and we lost her. You drank. A lot. More than a lot. I wanted to remove your liver so I could grant it asylum. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but still.” And the titans seem to have said, weeeeell, fuck what you want. He'd forgotten.
His expression sobered more than a little. All the playfulness was gone and he scrunched up his face trying very hard to remember. I don't think I've ever seen that expression on him before, him actually having to try to remember anything, and it looks fucking weird. “Sara… Sara… I… I remember being upset… and the drinking…” He made another face and shook his head. “We lost her though? That’s pretty uncool.”
Gunnar Esparza, also a master of the understatement.
“Yeah,” I nodded slowly. I was searching my own memory, having to put everything together from context and references. Things were… fuzzy. “I don’t remember exactly what happened… some dredging of souls, and we’d thought she would have been okay in the Baron’s care, that she’d be better off than if she stayed with Hades but there was a fight and… I don’t think it went well, I remember being fucking terrified,” but I couldn't remember anymore what I had been scared about. I can't remember anything about the fight except for fear, and sadness, and that heavy feeling in my chest that we had failed. “And before that I remember you telling me on Agwe’s boat about how a shinobi cut her in half and then back at the house you felt like a failure, which was stupid, but… yeah.”
He seemed to remember that conversation pretty well, so hopefully he didn't think I was telling him it was stupid to feel bad about Sara. It was the feeling responsible part that was stupid. It’s not Gunnar’s fault that Kane’s a giant phallus. It’s not Gunnar’s fault that Sara was bad at not getting cut in half by shinobi. And Gunnar didn’t stab her and it’s not like he was bound by blood, honor or oath to be her guardian or anything. So he shouldn’t feel responsible and he didn’t fail her. Of course, I didn’t say that, and I couldn't think of anything else to say and he'd said it pretty well already. “Really fucking uncool,” I repeated after him.
Having had my explanation, he seemed to agree with my assessment of the situation. “Well… yeah. I mean, just because I don’t remember doesn’t mean that my actions can’t vindicate the loss. So yeah, among other things, it will mean she wasn’t lost for nothing.” I’d have preferred if she hadn’t been lost at all, honestly. Not because I knew her – cuz I didn’t – but because I didn’t like the way her death had effected Gunnar. But maybe this could help make it right, as right as any death could be.
“Alright. So I guess if you’re coming that means you should come kick my ass at learning Ancient Egyptian.”
Gunnar grinned “Gladly.”

I actually kicked Gunnar's ass at learning the language. Well, okay, it wasn’t an actual ass-kicking. I learned it a whole hour faster. I’ll take it, because I still learned it a whole hour faster.
But anyway, it became kinda evident that I was picking it up more quickly and somewhere while everyone else was deciding which dragons to placate first, Gunnar with his perfect memory thought to mention the fact that we needed to take Marie’s body with us.
We were going to Egypt.
We were currently in New Parnassus, Germany.
Her body was in his apartment in Chicago. So we had a small problem, which left me cursing the tyranny of distance and thinking of Ted Leo.
Then, like Gunnar does, Gunnar came up with the plan. The plan was that Gunnar would ride Banana Splits with the rest of the group and get dropped off in Chicago so that he could grab Marie out of… You know, I don’t know where he’s been keeping her. I don’t really care, either. I haven’t seen his apartment since the first time I ever saw it, when I was busy doing surgery on Dorthen. I’d be lucky to tell you where the bathroom was. I have just kinda been trusting that her body is safe.
At the same time Gunnar was hitching a ride to Chicago, Nate was going to get dropped off in New York, Kas was getting dropped off in Saudi Arabia, Brendan was going to England and Harlan was going to space.
Yeah. I get to wander the desert for forty years, and Harlan gets to ride a dragon into space. Whatever, my legends are probably going to be about perseverance and persistence, restoring my honor and traversing the underworlds, and Harlan gets the one about seducing a nutjob. Anyway.
Before everybody saddled up on Banana Splits, I consulted Sibyl to see what the future would hold for them. I saw a merry-go-round, all my friends riding a different dragon, and the dragons moved up and down on poles that weren't poles but were strings and then I looked up and saw that Ixion was the one pulling the strings. Great. If they actually ran into Ixion and needed me there to give him an axe to the face, I was pretty sure I would know it and could come running. I knew I could do that now; I had done it for Gunnar when we were in Hades’ realm.
And speaking of, I almost took off when I thought Gunnar was in trouble. Turns out he was just falling off of a dragon capable of going faster than the speed of sound. Um, it sounds worse than it actually is because he was fine.
Well, he’d been a lot worse. It’s not like the dragon exploded on him at the same time he was falling, or that the ground was made of spikes and rusty nails. Anyway, this dragon planned on making three trips around the world in the span of a day, giving each member of the band 8 hours between dropoff and pickup. He posited that all of these trips should easily have allowed a meeting with each of the dragon princes.

And then another woman showed up, dressed in a mess of tulle and cogs. She called it “steampunk,” but I don’t think any of the pieces on her getup were even moveable, let alone actually steam powered. I guess, after dealing with Ixion and Tesla, I expected to be a bit more impressed. Um, but she was nice enough and she said she was here to help, that her dad sent her because I was worried about the others and that he said I’d been a good ride. Yeah. A good ride.
Then it clicked, before she said it, that her dad must be the Baron. I like the Baron, and she was here to help, so I could forgive that nonsense she called clothing. Her name was Kate and she volunteered to go to Chile.
I don’t know really know how any of that went, except Kas is pretty sure she’s got a new best friend in the dragon from Saudi Arabia. Kas has a lot of best friends, though, and I'm not sure that most of them know about it. Oh, and Brendan ran into Ixion, who was trying to convince the dragon to pitch for Team Titan. I think Brendan declaimed his intellect or something though, and was able to out-talk Ixion. So, gold star for him. Metaphorical of course. If I had any gold stars, they probably burned in my house.
Nate ran into Kane, which was fun. Turns out Nate helped vouch for Kane, who is Nate's uncle, and one of the dragons is on his side. Kane’s side, and consequently Mikaboshi’s side, too. Not Nate's. So, fuck dragons. And fuck Kane.
That was a bit of a clusterfuck. I missed out on that, mostly. Probably for the best. Gunnar may have forgotten, but I don't really have much love for the scaly fuckers. I did get called while the others were up in the air and trying to solve the food crisis, and asked to come up with some answers to that shit. So I asked what had happened to the normal dragon food sources, rocs and phoenixes and other huge birds that don’t exist anymore except on the tables of nerds. The answer was that the humans had been told by Kane’s dragon friend to hunt them to extinction while the dragons slept.
I don’t know why.
The Band wanted to know how to find proof of it, and I only had an inconvenient, cryptic answer for them: They could find the proof in the mind of the perpetrator. Or something like that.

The only other event of note happened while Amanda was teaching me, and it didn’t really have anything to do with the dragons. We pulled an all-nighter in New Parnassus, and as I’m tracing my fingertips over the hieroglyphs I smudged one. I can’t explain that, how I managed to smudge the text on a magical relic. I just have that kind of talent for messing things up. But as soon as I smudged it, something weirder happened. I felt a pull in my head, like when I sit down and consult Sibyl, except I hadn’t asked for this and it wasn’t from my point of view. I was seeing something through Gunnar’s eyes, through his memories.
Early memories. Things didn't look or smell as sharp as the memory from Jotunheim. I was watching him watch Athena hold the girl named Sara. Sara was bloody and she was still. She was dead, and I felt his sadness.
I saw Athena gather up the girl and her relics, and then I saw Athena grow great white feathery wings, like those of a great snowy owl, and she took flight.
And then I wasn’t seeing through Gunnar’s memories anymore, but I was still watching Athena bear her daughter away. She set herself down on the ground some distance away. She dropped Sara’s body on the ground and her face changed. She wasn’t Athena anymore. She was Malsum, the wolf-trickster-god who out-trickstered Loki and buried him in the ground in Mag Mell.
And once she was a he, he was standing in front of Kane Taoka and he was handing Kane Taoka an urn with the symbol of a humanoid figure, both hands stretched upward, either supporting or fending off a great darkness in the sky. I didn’t know what the urn was until I consulted those mystery stones, I didn’t realize just how fucked we were until I did.
I wanted to know what the urn was, and then… Kane had killed Sara, Malsum had taken her body and relics from Gunnar’s care, and then Malsum had given Pandora’s Box to Kane Taoka.
I was shaking when I came out of the trance, and it took a minute to convince Amanda I was okay. I went back to reading and where I had smudged the ink the hieroglyph had become something different – a symbol of a humanoid figure, both hands stretched upward, either supporting or fending off a great darkness in the sky.

The Darkness is coming, and I don’t know what we are supposed to do about it. I don’t know what good Pandora’s Box is supposed to do Kane. I mean, the story is that it was a container filled with all the evils of the world, and that the last thing left when Pandora got done with it was hope. She kept the hope bottled up and that’s why the world is still worth a damn. So… I don’t even know what the hell to do with that information. If the story is right, then Kane is going to be holding hope hostage. Or setting it free, or something. If the story is wrong… I don’t know.

Anyway. There was more running about, trying to deal with the dragons. That Kate chick went with Kas to Canada and they talked to an aurora borealis that ate a forest. Kate said that Ixion was already trying to screw with the president of Chile, and not to trust that guy. And she got weird when Nate was talking about Harlan’s armor that he ganked from Pan, the one that has turned out to actually be a piece of Tartarus with a dead god named Nergal in it.
Nergal is kind of a dick.

Nate went to Japan, and Harlan went to space. I think that’s how it happened. I may be getting the order messed up. I don’t know, I wasn’t there and I didn’t get all of the calls. And someone must have gone to Brazil, I just don’t remember who.
I think there were progress reports about who had spoken with which dragon and how the meetings had gone but none of those sitreps ended with, “And that’s why he needs an axe to the face,” so my attention was pretty firmly planted elsewhere.
I just know that it was on the last round before Harlan told Banana Splits to call the conference in the Himalayas when I boarded Dragon Air 1 to finish learning my language and get dropped off with Gunnar in Egypt, where we were going to make our grand entrance into Duat. Gunnar had already gotten picked up with the body, so he was able to help get Amanda on the dragon without her getting hurt. It’s not unlike boarding a plane, except that the plane swoops down and can break your spine if you don’t tuck and roll just right when it’s picking you up.
Harlan had gotten dropped off in the Philippines, and there had been some hullabaloo about Ixion maybe having corrupted the President of the U.S.
I am looking forward to tearing Ixion’s face off, for the record. Anyway, yeah, I'm sitting on the back of a dragon, chilling the most with Gunnar and Amanda and not actually feeling any desire to put an axe in this creature’s face when I get a feeling I know pretty well.
Someone's in trouble. Nothing special.
Harlan's in trouble. Okay, almost as surprising as Gunnar being in trouble – which is not very.
Harlan was about to take some magma to the face. …That one was new. I took off right away. I just looked at Gunnar and said, “I gotta go,” and I think, in a peculiar reversal of roles, I swear I heard him say “Godsdamnit,” as I disappeared.
I showed up in front of Harlan, threw my arms around him, threw up one of those shield thingies and yay, no fried Harlan.
I'm seriously proud of myself. Not only did I help Harlan stay pretty - again - I didn't even start swearing when I showed up. I didn't act butthurt because I couldn't understand a damn thing he was saying, and I didn't fly into a murderous rage because a dragon had just flung half a caldera at one of my friends.
I don’t care if he’s a son of Loki, I don’t care if he just bewitched Carmen to shut her up, I don’t care. He's saved my ass, kinda, and he's certainly saved Gunnar's.
And if I’m not going to kill him, no-fucking-body else is, either.

I kept my mouth shut, and stood there, like a good little bodyguard. Well, I kept quiet because as far as I could tell, Harlan had this.
And I didn’t speak scaly.
And I wouldn’t know what to say if I did. The only thing I said was, "Harlan... why the fuck are there bones everywhere?" It was because (surprise, only not) dragons eat people when dragons get hungry. I was really looking forward to getting out of Midgar, and away from the dragons, and more than a little afraid what I would find when I came back.

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