QSFer Eric Alan Westfall has a new eclectic MM collection out: 3 Gods, 2 Bets, 1 Texan.
A pair of competitive trickster gods strut into a Texas bar…and the Dragon King gives his seventh son an unknown Caravaggio for his hundredth hatchday. What could go wrong?
Find out, in…
3 Gods, 2 Bets, 1 Texan: a 2139-word tale about Loki and Coyote competing for a Greek-named ranch hand in Jake’s Bar, located in Godsawful-Lonesome, Texas.
A Caravaggio Hatchday: a 6238-word tale of a more-than-life-sized painting of Alexander and Hephaestion, ah, doing the deed (guess who’s on top) in glorious color and equally glorious and visible detail. But instead of dear-old-King-Dad keeping it safe for his son’s hoard during the three and a half day hundredth-hatchday party, it gets put on display in the Kansas City story where Colin, in human form, sells fine books and fine art. And like the old song says, “that old devil consequence” gets involved.
Have some fantasy fun, and then enjoy sample chapters from some of my other books:
- The Cooking Mage & The Parchment Prankster Part One
- The Rake, The Rogue, and The Roué
- 3 Boars & A Wolf Walk Into A Bar…
- Mr. Felcher’s Grand Emporium, or, The Adventures of a Pair of Spares in the Fine Art of Gentlemanly Portraiture
- Tattooed Wolf, Painted Dragon
- Prince Ivan, A. Wolfe & A Firebird
- no way out
- Of Princes False and True
- The Warlord and the Bard
- The Raven Prince
From 3 Gods, 2 Bets, 1 Texan
Okay, so his last prank was over-Asgard, even for him, but when he walked through the gates of Valhalla, answering the summons to judgment, it was a casual stroll—not a shoulders-back march to doom—as he walked the walk of no shame at all down the vast length of the room to Odin’s throne. He ignored the horde of glaring relatives and non-friends lining the sides.
He couldn’t ignore the wrath on Odin’s face. Nor his size. The more angry he was when passing judgment, the larger he and his throne were. Loki didn’t recall either being this big before.
Ah, well. Like that Cabin in the Sky song about “that old devil consequence,” there was going to be hell to pay, as the humans also said, with the hell certain to be immediate, almost-eternal, and painful. Starting as soon as he straightened from the bow the condemned were required to make, and Odin pronounced his guilt. He didn’t waste time with trials or justifications, and pleading only made the consequence worse.
Except…no pronouncement, no punishment start.
Instead, Odin was…smiling. It wasn’t a pleasant smile, but better than wrath.
“Care to make a bet, Loki?”
Prankster, yes. Stupid, of the leaping-before-looking variety? No.
He wondered whether Odin was losing it, but kept the wondering off his face. A bet instead of judgment?
“I bet you can’t fuck the mortal of my choice, within two hours of meeting him, without using godly persuasions.”
Lost it. Completely. That was the kind of bet Loki could win in a deific minute.
The smile broadened and even reached Odin’s eye. “Double or nothing.”
Loki might be a trickster god, but Odin was sly, devious, and all the rest of the synonyms. Best to be sure. “When I win, all this goes away. No punishment, ever.”
Odin agreed. “When you lose, besides the humiliation, punishment doubled.”
Best to nail down the rest of the terms, too. “No delay in telling me who he is and where I can find him. No godly powers, or anything else, like drinks or drugs, to make him immune to my non-godly persuasions.”
“Agreed, if the two hours start…ten minutes after I tell you.”
“Even gods have to primp to look their best. An hour. Also, just in case there are any…difficulties in getting to where he is.”
“A trickster doesn’t need that much time to decide what form you’ll use. And I can’t imagine you having any difficulty in finding him. Fifteen minutes. Final offer.”
Fifteen minutes to find the place, get there, change his form to “most likely to succeed in fucking the mortal.” There’d still be catches, Odin being Odin, but…doable. Not that he had any real choice, not when Odin used that Godfather tone with all the weight of…Odin behind it. “Deal.”
From A Caravaggio Hatchday
Father was dithering. There was no other logical reason for his taking so long, since he didn’t play games of the “make them wait to build up anticipation” type. He wasn’t much for any kind of games, other than those used when needed by a ruler, and the somewhat separate ones for keeping a large family in line. Neither of which were applicable here.
Because of me, he’d say if asked why, if he admitted the dithering, which no one would dare ask anyway.
It isn’t my fault I’m the seventh son.
A somewhat historical digression while waiting out Father’s dither:
Family lore says—quietly, quietly—that after my hatching, Father expressed a desire for one more. Only one. Perhaps to outdo his own father, as Father is the oldest of seven sons, even going so far—it is even more quietly said—as saying he wouldn’t be averse to having a delightful daughter who took after her mother.
More family lore says Mother told him he could do whatever he wanted with his Long Wang—a smirk accompanying the translated-to-English phrase—as long as it didn’t involve those parts of her, or anyone else, which might lead to another egg. Despite being well-known in our thunder, and elsewhere, for her plain speaking, Mother has never admitted nor denied the story.
Digression over, but the dithering wasn’t. He was still inside the elsewhere-cavern housing his personal hoard, the wards still keeping the access portal a solid, impenetrable gold. Well, as both the Dragon King, and Prince of the Gold Thunder, what else?
We went on waiting—Mother, two grandfathers, two grandmothers, six uncles, six brothers, assorted bond-mates, adult cousins, plus the fated mates of three uncles. Given Father and Mother, and both sets of grandparents were also fated mates, I confidently decided that was a sign I’d have one soon. I was smart enough to keep my singing of the confidence song along with Julie inside my head.
Have I mentioned I’m good at not considering things I don’t want to consider? Like the fact that every fated-mate pair I’ve ever heard of, didn’t meet until well after their two-hundredth hatchday?
And this was only my hundredth?
I diverted my attention from the Fates and what they could do for me, to considering three more not-my-faults.
It’s not my fault there’s a millennia-old, all-thunders tradition that when a hatchling becomes an adult on his or her hundredth hatchday, he or she gets a gift from their father’s personal hoard, as the formal start of their adult hoard.
Hatchlings are naturally expected to start their own hoards as soon as they are old enough to understand need, and greed, for hoarding what humans might call bling. So I already had a ninety-four-year old “hatchling hoard” I was quite proud of. I also…acquired the first item for my hoard earlier than any of my brothers, but it would be bragging to say that, so I won’t.
It’s not my fault we have a family tradition that whatever hoard-gift is given to the first-born, must be matched in value, but never exceeded, for any later hatchlings.
Eric is an American Midwesterner, and as Lady Glenhaven might say, “He’s old enough to have sailed with Noah.” In the real world he writes for a living, with those who would claim what he writes is fiction. His partner of thirty years—who died unexpectedly in 1995—enthusiastically encouraged him to try to get his writing published (mostly poetry back then, plus some short stories), but he didn’t have the guts to do so until 2013. At this point he’s not sure which was officially first, The Song, or Like a Mountain, Waiting.
Up to now, he’s published 17 novels and novellas, 1 poetry collection, 2 short story collections, and 3 short stories. God willin’ and the crick don’t rise, 2023 will also see The Tinderbox out and about. But since real life is, as we all know, a pain in the (anatomical site of your choice)…no guarantees.