The Cycle of Axer Carrick
Part III -- Frostmelt
by Henry Wyckoff

Chapter 14

Sharpe sat in the back seat of the plane, letting the gentle rocking put him to sleep. He conveniently forgot why the plane was shaking to begin with. Something had been clawing at the end of his mind, demanding attention ever since that night in the Odinssons temple, but now that he thought about it, it had done so in the far past as well...


...Paris was breathtaking. That couldn't be denied. No
matter how much the war still raged in the back of his soul.
He didn't care about the folks who stared at him because of
his gawking.

"Is he insane, mama?" asked a young boy who walked past Sharpe.

"No, Pierre. He must be from the country -- they don't have
cities there..."

Sharpe looked at the river, the bridges, the cathedrals, and
the breathtaking monuments. It was indescribable to a man
who had believed that the French were nothing but savage barbarians.

Then he felt it... A sensation pulling on all his nerves at
once. When he sorted out all the sensations, he saw a
Catholic monk, standing a few feet away from him -- a
stillness in the moving crowd. He approached with an open
smile, but Sharpe kept a hand on his sword.

"You have no need of swords," smiled the monk. "You look
world-weary. Come with me, and I can give you sanctuary."

"Who are you?"


"Richard Sharpe, once of Wellington's army."

The monk nodded. "You have come to rid yourself of your
demons. I understand. Perhaps I can help you."

Sharpe was still hesitant. "No offense, Brother, but I
don't trust you. You're an immortal -- and in the end there
can be only one."

"How long have you been alive?"

"My first year was in a skirmish during the war."

"A young one..." the monk muttered in French. "As you grow
older, you will remember how wise that statement is, but
also how damaging it can be." His voice softened. "How
long can you go through life, alone -- perhaps keeping
company with mortals who will only last for an eyeblink?
Like attracts like, and sometimes you need the presence of
your own company."

Sharpe cautiously accepted Darius' offer, and found himself
relaxing with a cup of some unknown beverage. It tasted
almost too sweet, and made him involuntarily shiver, but
also soothed his nerves.

"This beverage is curious. What is it?"

"It is Kenyan coffee with a small amount of this." He
brought out a dark bottle with a single word: BENEDICTINE.
"There's a story to this, you know." His expression became
odd. "But I don't believe that is what you wish to discuss."

Sharpe didn't know either way what he wanted to do.

"What is troubling you?"

"I don't know. There's something at the edge of my mind,
demanding attention, but I don't know what it is."

Darius nodded. "I have had that experience many times.
Would you like a suggestion?"


"Let it go. If it's important, it will let itself be known..."


...Many decades had passed, and the thought was still elusive.

Sharpe finally decided he'd see if he was going insane or not. "LaCroix?" The vampire turned around with upraised eyelids. "In your long life, have you ever gone through Kashmir or the Himalayas?"

"Never. Why do you ask?"

"In my own travels, I met a wise hermit. I stayed with him for thirty years, and during the whole time, he never aged. He was neither vampire nor my kind of immortal. He was something altogether different -- a human being *made* immortal by what he called invisible gods. He claimed that he saw lights in the sky, woke up in a white room, and returned to earth some time later. I was curious if you ever heard tales like that yourself, talked to anyone similar."

"No... I have never heard any such tales outside of what gets printed in the tabloids."

Mulder snapped to attention. "How long ago was this?"

"After Waterloo. I didn't keep track of time that much. Must have been after 1820 when I got there."

"I have whole file cabinets at my office *filled* with alien abduction cases. You should have mentioned it sooner!" He forced himself to calm down. "What else did he tell you?"

"That when he returned, he described having luck -- good luck and bad luck. He escaped to the mountains because he claimed that chaos surrounded him. Wars would start for the most idiotic reasons, gamblers would have the most unusual luck -- good or bad, a child would fall several stories onto the pavement and walk away unhurt. Lots of things that I attributed to sheer coincidence -- but he said that was exactly the point."

"That doesn't make sense..." Mulder looked disturbed. "Most of my cases have to do with abductions where the individuals were experimented on for medical reasons."

"Well, I've always taken it with a grain of salt. I don't even know if it was real."

Mulder shook his head, "We don't know, but I've seen too much to doubt just because it *seems* unreasonable."

Axer looked up from his book. "Speak of the Devil! You have no idea what it is I've been reading. It's called 'Schroedinger's Cat' -- I think both of you should read it."

"What's it about?" asked Sharpe.

"It starts off with an overview of quantum physics, and goes into theories about how the universe works -- mainly extrapolations, but the theories are pretty incredible, and I think it may have a clue about Lenny."

Mulder shrugged, "We still have a few hours, anyway." He took the book and skimmed through it, "This is a really good overview..."

Although Kate was asleep, she somehow sensed that Axer had stopped reading, and leaned over into his lap. He shook his head, "Worse than a kitten. At least she doesn't knead her nails into my leg."

It was then that he noticed some pricking in his leg. He looked down and saw that her fangs had protruded and were poking into his thigh. He repositioned her so that she was leaning into him, but not poking at anything important. Axer didn't notice the slow smile that crept on her face.


* * *

Nick entered the Raven with Odin in tow. It was completely empty, and a sign said, "Temporarily closed for two weeks. Sorry for the inconvenience."

He chained Odin down to a pillar, and searched around, "LaCroix? LaCroix!" He searched throughout the whole place, finding nothing. It was perhaps half an hour later when he saw a century-old wine bottle sealed with fresh wax.

Curious, he opened it, and found a note written in French.


I am writing this in case you feel guilty about
not visiting for such a long time, and decide to
show up. Axer, Kate, Sharpe, Mulder, and myself
have gone northwards to fight a crucial battle.

Don't bother leaving behind your precious
police work -- we wouldn't want to inconvenience
you in any way, would we?


Nick threw the bottle against the wall, where it bounced off unharmed with a dull clunking sound. Turning away from it in disgust, he went back to the main room where Odin was singing, "If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands." Only, he was making no attempt to clap and his face looked glum.

Odin turned around to face Nick once he came back. "Hey -- how come we're in a club and you didn't give me anything to drink?"

"You're bad enough as it is. I'm afraid to see what you're like drunk." He paced through the now empty dance floor.

"Hey, what are you thinkin' in that noggin', eh? Wondering what to do without your precious 'father'? You pushed him away, and now that he's away, you can't make any decisions on your own?"

Nick twirled around, staring at Odin's eye in blind hatred.
"Shut up!"

"What's the matter, Nightie? Can't look at yourself in the mirror? Just wait until you look into infinite mirrors!" He burst into song once more, "Infinite dreams... I can't deny them. Infinity is hard to comprehend... I can hear those screams, even in my wildest dreams..."

Nick grabbed Odin by the jaw, and began to crush. "Enough of the songs and hints -- I want you to spell things out right now!"

"I have no problem with that, but you might." His grin was impudent, but his eyes were fearful. "You're only delaying the inevitable, you know. In a week, both of us will be at the ruins, and you'll gain the starry wisdom."

"What makes you think that?" snarled Nick.

"You don't like an unsolved mystery. You also wonder what is actually going on up north, and why Lucius Rufio Longinus would take up the sword of General once more. You wonder what would bring Mulder and Sharpe here, and what has them running like scared mice."

"How do you know this?" The grip tightened.

"I am Odin. I drank the Skaldic Mead and hung from the tree for nine nights. I offered myself to myself so that I would gain all wisdom. Can you comprehend infinity? Infinity is not a number or a concept -- it's a very real quantity. Can you imagine possessing *infinite* knowledge?"

Nick let Odin go, and paced back and forth some more. When he turned around to face Odin once more, it was with a vampiric face, "We're going north, but first, you're going to tell me one thing -- call it a test, to see if you *do* have infinite knowledge."


Nick grinned viciously, having remembered a conversation he'd had with Axer a few years before. "If you have a shrink-swell clay such as montmorillonite, how do you define bulk density?"

Odin glared at him.

* * *

Frey sat in the living room, having a feast of fish, walrus, and seal. Around him sat about twenty men who were members of the Trickster clan, and had come to see the one whose coming were prophesied many generations ago. Only a few were older than forty years of age.

The oldest one, who Frey called Grandfather (that was the only thing the younger one called him, and the man offered no name of his own), spoke to the crowd, "Because we had to live with the warmlanders, we had to hide much of our lore from you. We could not take the chance that you would tell any of our secrets to the outsiders, so we told you nothing. But now the time has come. I must tell you the old stories.

"In a time that passed many generations ago, we lived here. The people saw a boat come in the summer, when the ice coating the waters breaks away for a time. They were only thirty men who wore the fur of the bear and two horns on their head.

"They brought wood with them and built a great fort, using the stones from around them as well. They stayed within their walls for seven years, caring for the objects that they brought with them. For a month, every hundred years or so, they would return. What they do during that month is unknown, but whenever the time comes, we watch. The last time was a hundred years ago, and the next time comes next week."

There were some sounds of disbelief from some of the younger ones -- those who had been brought up with the newer ways, but Grandfather shouted them out, "I have seen omens that this visit will be different. A war will erupt, and we must fight in it. I do not know what will occur, but if we fail, the world will not live to see another day."

"This is crazy!" yelled a young kid. He wore modern clothes and glasses. "You've been drinking!"

"Do you smell whiskey on my breath? If you choose not to believe, then you can walk out this door and never come back. But let me warn you that once you walk out this door, to return is death."

That stopped the kid cold. "But it's impossible!" he muttered under his breath.

Frey looked at Grandfather, who nodded. "This man here was responsible for an omen -- he tricked the two wolves into jumping down to their deaths."

That seemed to be significant for the Inuit, because they began whispering among themselves.

"His name is Frey, and he comes here as an ally. He is an enemy of the horned men and their god, Odin. He is a friend of the Trickster."

"But why are the horned men our enemies?" asked another young one. "If they did nothing, as you say, and continue to do no harm, then why should we care?"

"We care because the Trickster told us to care. He told us many generations ago to watch the horned men, because there would come a day when we would need to act against them should they act against the world."

"But I don't understand any of this!" complained another young one.

"Perhaps I might be able to explain..." suggested Frey. The room grew silent.

* * *

Nick and Odin approached the hangar. It was locked, but Odin didn't care. He ripped open the aluminum sheeting as if it were Japanese wall paper.

Odin ran over to the nearest plane he could find and inspected it. "This'll work."

Nick didn't feel right about this, breaking into a hangar and stealing a plane, but he somehow felt compelled to go along with all this. He climbed into the plane while Odin fueled it up, and then Odin climbed in as well.

"Are you *sure* you know how to fly this thing?" Nick asked hesitantly.

Odin just looked at him, and Nick cringed. Every fiber of his being screamed in protest, telling him to arrest Odin and get it done with, but he found that the inner voice was screaming less and less. They took off for the north.

* * * *

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