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Chest of Hope Ch.23

The Thunderer pointed toward the lake, with his mighty hammer, and its soft greenish glow piercing the darkness. The giant stepped from the battle ground. “Follow, if you don’t mind. Your wounds will be cleansed as your pains are washed away,” Thorran said, as the group of people stood quietly, than began to walk behind him. On the banks of Taylor lake, the group spotted a figure standing between the pair of rams. “All is prepared, My lord.” The woman’s soft voice spoke, as they arrived. “First the children, they have glimpsed the face of hate, too closely. Warriors next, to strengthen their hearts for the future,” Thorran directed, as the hammer’s light, transformed the lake into a shimmering pool.

The light, reminded Matt of the phosphorescence he had witnessed far out to sea. Lady Sif guided the young ones into the water. Charlotte hesitated when the woman told her to disrobe and looked to her father. “Do as she says, girl. We are all family now,” Willie told her, from the bank. “Almost like a baptism,” Doc Holiday, coined. “A baptism by fire!” Matt corrected, and the doctor nodded grimly. Next entered Cissy and Lotty to the sparkling waters. “I’ve skinny-dipped some as a girl, but I had some clothes to get into, if’n the boys showed up,” Lotty said, as she tossed the rags she wore to the grass. A smile came to her as the waters encased her with their healing powers. Cissy too, found that they took away the pain and swelling from her bruised body. “Seems I’ll be out of a job, once word gets out about this,” Doc Holiday commented, as he watched the people in the lake. “Fear not. By mornings light, this will become as the others, in this land,” Lady Sif assured him. Luke was helped, for the first couple of steps, by the Judge and Charles. He felt his legs tingle and decided to dive the rest of the way in. Judge Hart laughed as he followed in Luke’s wake. At the surface the Judge, watched the woman lead the children out and give them white tunics, from the sacks of the rams. As Lotty and Cissy came away, they too were given their own to wear. ‘All family now’, the words of Willie Price, played in his mind as he stripped away the clothing he wore and enjoyed the complete freedom of his swim.

As Paul and Tamry entered, the blood soaked garments were bleached of any evidence of their ordeal, except the bullet holes. The same, held true for Matt and Maureen, as they came next. Maureen giggled from the tingles and wasted no time to become free of her wrapping. Matt held an emotional freeze to his face as he spread the water over Maureen’s back. He watched the blood come away from where he knew the bullets had entered her. His mood changed little as they donned their tunics and began listening to the words of Thorran, as he spoke to all sitting on the soft grass.

“I had returned to Asgard where my father commanded this task of me. At first, his orders were to lay waste, to all that didn’t find my favor. After a brief council, he approved for me to deal with this problem, in a way that would benefit both mankind and the gods,” Thor stopped, and had Adam sit on his lap. “When Adam made the calling, he held the figure that his great-grandfather had carved, from Norwegian fur. His grandfather, had visited Scandia and learned of their beliefs. Found them to be true, not just for some, but for all. He practiced our rites and gave thanks in private.” “Adam asked, upon the image of Odin, for help. This calling is always Judged by counsel, but Odin himself overruled, and declared that our attendance was needed. For a thousand years, the gods have helped none, that was not of Scandia,” Thor rubbed Adam’s head in fondness. “This is my consort, The Lady Sif,” Thor announced to the crowd, as a tall blond woman entered the clearing, and brought the rams to his side. “That’s the prettiest white woman I ever laid eyes on!” Cissy whispered, to Jim. The goats held steady, as Thor unstraped their cargo, and began handing out bread and cheese to the crowd. Jugs of clear fresh water were passed around also. “May I ask of you, and receive straightforward answers?” Judge Hart asked. Thor nodded as he swallowed water to refresh himself. “What really happened to Taylor?” He asked. “As I was told, he came to burn down the old farm house, thinking that I was inside and defenseless. He was dispatched quickly by my guards, Longing Horn and Swiften Hoofs,” Thor nodded to where, the goats now stood guarding the perimeters. “What of Cooper and Jones?” “Footsongsunar, was keeping an eye and ear on that nest of snakes. Luke’s choice of taverns was a poor one that day, but death was too high a price to be paid. Footsongsunar, took what he thought, was the proper action. Besides, he kills rats without any thought or malice,” Thor stopped, as the Judge waved his hand. “You say. The china man is named, Footsongsunar?” Paul Sr. asked. Matt Stone’s laugh turned the Judge’s head. “Footsongsunar, is a cat’s name. It comes from the purring and prancing they do, when they are petted,” Matt said, as he mimicked the action. The Judge failed to understand as he probed the giant’s eyes. “That ole, Calico Cat!” Willy shouted, startling the group. “I always thought that cat was just a bit more that any alley cat. Remember, those chickens, Jim. By the way, what happened to them?” Willie asked. “I gave them to the Reynold’s farm, so they could increase their stock. Times, are hard all over. Remember, Willie?” “Everywhere but in your, ah, our account!” Tamry mused, from Paul’s side. “Where did all that gold come from anyway?” The Judge asked. “It’s been around, from the time man started forming it, to control other men’s lives and dreams. It covers the bottom of the seas around the globe. All I did was pick some up, and take it back to Iceland, for safe keeping. “They don’t have interests beyond their borders or banks with secrets to hide. They have no military or international designs. After the gold was placed in their treasury, it was easy, to have Barclays of London, start an account. That way, the world banks don’t go crazier, then they already are,” Thor stated, smiling. “So you really did find it?” Doc Holiday asked. “Yes, but I do have the greatest edge. Being a God, does have its moments,” Thor laughed, as the group saw his point, and joined in. “Still, why does a god need a farm?” Lotty asked. “He needs, what he needs. That’s all there is to it,” Jim said, with a half laugh.

“You know not of what you speak. James Jediah Price,” Maureen spoke, in her readers’ voice. Jim turned so quickly with surprise that he almost fell over Cissy. “No one knows my middle name. How’s, it so that you do?” Jim whispered. “Because I see your birth certificated,” Maureen answered calmly. “That can’t be so! Me and Jim, doan has no certificates. All those papers, burned up long time ago. When Grandpa Price moved here back, when me and Jim were babies,” Willie stated, and Jim nodded in agreement. “Don’t you mean Grandpa Green?” Thor asked. “No sir, Mista Odie. Grandpa Green, was our mother’s father. Grandpa Price, was our daddy’s father. But, we still doan has them papers Mrs. Stone is talkin’ bout,” Jim answered. “Don’t be silly you two. I see both of them. With the contracts, between Arnold Johnson and Joshua Green,” Maureen stated, firmly. “Where do you see these things, Maureen?” Matt asked, as he passed his hand in front of her eyes. Without blinking, Maureen raised her right hand and pointed. “Right over there. Next to that box of papers. Don’t you see it?” Maureen asked. “No honey, go on. Tell me what else is there,” Matt answered softly. He made a sign to the group that Maureen was having another vision, then he put his finger to his lips requesting silence. “I swear Matt, if it had teeth, it would bite you. The box is labeled, closed accounts, its as plain as day. They’re behind that old typewriter and filing cabinet,” Maureen said, and pointed again. “She’s talking about the bank’s vault. I put that type writer back there myself, right after the Holmes finished those announcements,” Tamry said. “Can you read the contract Maureen?” Matt probed softly. “Oh yea, you don’t have your glasses with you. Let’s see. It’s something about money loaned to Johnson to start a hardware store and restaurant. It goes on and says they are partners. Green holds 49 percent of the properties. “I see a lot of lawyer language and stuff like that. You usually take care of that, so I don’t understand most of it. The birth certificates are right underneath. The other one has, William Beauregard Price, printed on it,” Maureen stopped, and blinked her eyes at Matt. “What are you looking at?” She asked, as Matt pulled her closer and rubbed her cheek. “Just a first class seer honey, that’s all,” Matt said with a smile, as he started gently rubbing her back. “I’d say, Holdar’s gift was more than just pleasure,” Tamry said, as she cuddled closer to Paul. Matt looked to her and nodded his head. “Oops, I’m sorry about that. It was supposed to be a joke. However, it got out of hand,” Tamry said, with a wince to Maureen. “Maureen told me what happened. You’re forgiven. So was I,” Matt said, and patted Tamry’s leg with his free hand. Instantly, Matt received a mild shock that warmed him completely. “What was that?” Matt asked, and pulled his arm back. “She has become a princess of the Aesir, once again. She has that affect on all males. Paul, being a prince, produces that mild responce to all females. It promotes love and caring among the peoples they are to encounter,” Lady Sif explained. “That’s for sure, any more of that, Maureen and me, will have to scare the fish,” Matt said, as he rearranged his sitting position. “Really?” Maureen asked, surprised. The group laughed together as Matt grew red faced. Judge Hart stood and walked over to Paul. “If what Mrs. Stone says is true, the Price family is very wealthy indeed. They are the surviving owners of the store and the bar. Johnson had no heirs and his wife died years ago. I think that’s why he turned so mean and started the Knights,” the Judge said, and sat to his son. “I doan care nothin bouts that bar or the store right now,” Jim said, as he stood up and walked around. “Willie, Paul, could you two, help me for a minute?” Matt asked, as he stood. “Mind gathering some of these branches for a fire?”

The three men started picking loose wood around the lake side. Willie stopped, as Paul came up with a large limb over his shoulder. The piece was as tall as Paul, and six inches across, as near as Willie could see in the dim light. Paul started breaking off sections with the side of his hand, and Matt came over to observe. As the last piece hit the ground, there was silence for a moment. “Yeah, that will do. Ah, watch many kung-fu movies as a kid?” Matt responded. Paul smiled and gathered the pieces. Returning to the group, Matt began placing the wood around in a circle, to make a campfire. He stood and checked his pockets. “Damn, where’s that lighter?” “I think I can help you with that,” Thor said, and raised the hammer. “MJOLINIR, could we have a small fire to see better with . . . if you don’t mind?” “Who’s that big guy talking to?” Doc Holiday asked the Judged, in a puzzled voice. “He’s talking to his hammer,” the Judge answered and smiled. The doctor was about to ask the Judge to repeat that, when the glow of the hammer, lit the gathering with pale luminescent light. “Remember, a small fire!” Thor recounted, sternly. A bolt of lightening shot from the mighty mallet and struck the wood. The timber, glowed green then turned red, as the fire sprung forth. Shortly the fire made the area easier for everyone to see around them. Matt overheard the conversation between, Jim and Thor. ‘Close Jim, but no Cigar.’ Matt settled next to his wife, as Maureen whispered, “He’s harder to de-program, then that computer at the shop.”

“Just one of many, Jim,” Thor said, as Jim’s hands were clenched. “But, there is only one God!” Jim said, with disbelief. “Jim, when you see a rainbow, how many do you see?” Thor asked, as he laid his hammer across his legs. “Ah’ see one rainbow at a time. Why?” Jim answered, and sat also. “Are you sure? Think of all the bands of colors. Don’t you see the seven bows, that form the one?” “Well yes, ah guesses I’s see that, but it’s still one rainbow.” “That is the whole point. It has been lost for many centuries, Jim. There is only one truth, but there are many messengers, for that truth.” “Lotty, would you believe a white man, if he said he would give you ten dollars for nothing?” “No way, a white man going to give me money, for nothin!” Lotty answered, with conviction. “What if he were black, and he saw that you were really in need?” “Then I would thank him kindly, and get his address, to pay it back when I could.” “Why? The amount of money did not change. Just the color of the giver.” “Because a brother, will do for his own!” Willie answered, and Lotty and Cissy nodded. “That is why, there is more than one god. People accept their own idea, of whom it is, telling them the truth. An eastern Indian, will accept the truth from his god, before he would see the truth in a desert dweller, who has no idea of the weather in the Indian’s country. The same way, an Arab would not believe anyone, talking about mountains of ice and snow. They must relate to their gods in their way.” “For a long time, men who could not receive what they needed from the people by force, thought of a way to do it free. They said, ‘Its god’s way’. The people needed to believe in something that would carry them through their hardships.” “These men found the power needed to control the people, their property, and finally their lives. Not one soldier was needed to guard these prisoners of their own free choice. No jails were built or rations given to them.” “It was the perfect weapon to conquer them. Some who refused to believe the ways of these men were hunted down and killed. Countries have gone to war because men told the people their ways were the right and all others were wrong. Then in the middle of all of this, even those ways changed, within a certain group of the same belief.” “Jim, how many different churches of the Christ do you know of?” Thor questioned, and drank more water. “Five or six, ah think?” “How many of those receive money from the people?” “All of them!” Cissy spoke up. “That’s what they call tithing or something like that. You supposed to give 10 percent of all your money to the church, it’s in the bible,” Jim said, strongly. “Jim, something they do not tell. The Bible of the Christ, has been translated seven times or more. The Christ himself, spoke to the people saying, ‘Give onto Caesar that which is Caesar’s. Give onto God that which is God’s.’ Jim, the gods don’t spend gold, they play with it, after they make it. Men are the only creatures who hold any favor with something that has none. You cannot make a good blade for cutting from it.” “The only thing it is good for, is to pound it very thin, and wrap things in it. The best, are men’s hearts and dreams.” Several people in the group were nodding in agreement. “If only the one god, why so many different ways to worship him? The answers, most men use today is, that he moves in mysterious ways. That is their pat answer for the truth as they see it. The true answer is that some people will go here and spend money but not there. It is all a matter of supply and demand, plain and simple.” “Men want money, but not the labor that comes from their hands or backs. The gods like men, women, and children, as they grow strong and tall, standing on their own. They do not want them on their knees or with their hands bound before them. Have you ever worked a mule in that position? If you did, not much plowing would get done, or much food would get on the table.” “Only men, who conquer other men, wish to see them in this position of servitude. Warriors have more respect of their enemies than that. So when you hear that there is only one god in heaven, just change the word back to ‘Truth’, and go about your work. Just for the record, Tithing, is a word used for Time. Give ten percent of your time to your fellow man. Don’t buy your way to Paradise, walk the road. It’s easier than you think,” Thor finished, and Jim slowly nodded. “Did you bring me back to life?” Jim asked, after a moment. “No, Jim. I have the power to destroy things with my friend and trusted ally Mjolinir. The power to return life, lays with the higher gods. My father, Odin, gave the fallen back their time. With that, he produced the chosen couple here, Paul and Tamry.” “The seer Maureen, whose visions will increase, as she continues her search for knowledge. You, because you protected a friend that was a god. Matthew Stone, because he has a warrior’s heart that has been true to his belief. He is a Vitke.” Thor answered, with a nod to Matt. “You’re a Viking?” Adam asked in awe. “Viking, is something you do. Vitke, is the person doing it, and what I am,” Matt answered, and rubbed the small silver replica, of the hammer that rested in Thor’s lap. “Now, I have one question for you, Matt Stone. How did you know who, and I believe what, I was from our first meeting?” Thor asked, as he pointed a large finger. “Maureen did a reading for me a month ago. In it, she told me I was about to meet a tall, dark, and gruesome man, that was very close to my heart. You fit the profile perfectly. I gambled with the talisman, and you revealed yourself to me that first day.” “I was just worried, that you would go on a rampage and cause another hurricane, to drive us, further west. I really would hate to live in California. The earthquakes, play hell with the fishing,” Matt answered, and laughed. Thor’s laughter, joined his and the group had to cover their ears. “We should be getting back home. It’s going to be hard to tell Susan that I got beat up again. The good thing was, that she was at her sister’s with our son. I hope I can convince her that it’s all over and we don’t have to move again,” Luke said, as he stood with no assistance. “Might be enough vehicles to go around for all? I think their owners, will not be back, to collect them. This is lawful, is it not Paul?” “For those who had families, the cars and trucks will be returned. For those who did not, I proclaim them abandoned, here in Iceland. I will have the clerk of titles, certify that,” Judge Hart announced, as he stood. “Arnold Johnson’s pickup, will look really good, with Jim at the wheel. Thomas’ also, with Willie driving,” Maureen stated, with a grin. “I am saddened, Jim. However, you and Willie, are not owners of the Duck ‘N’ Buck Bar,” Thor said, as he rose. “But Mrs. Stone, said she saw them papers,” Willie said hastily. “Oh, that is true, you do own the property. It is just that, the bar is no longer there,” Thor said, and caressed the hammer. “Where is it?” Tamry asked. “Remember the Taylor mansion? Maybe you can find someone who need’s land fill,” Thor answered, meekly. “So that’s, how that happened,” Luke said smiling. “Judge. The town’s people will have to begin a fund, to raise money for another church. It also has departed. Matthew was right, I do have a temper,” Thor said, as he shrugged his massive shoulders. “That’s all right. We can raise a Unitarian church this time. Give everyone something to believe in together,” Judge Hart said, as he and the doctor smiled, at the thought.

The Price families, piled into the two trucks left on the edge of the field. The Judge drove the car, containing the doctor and his wife with Charles by his side. Luke decided, a new jeep would suit him, and waved to Paul, as they drove away. It seemed natural, that the keys had been left by those, who expected that no one would ever take them around this town. The smell of ozone, was quite clearly present, in all the vehicles brought here for evil. Paul and Tamry, Thor and Lady Sif, Matt and Maureen waved good byes as they passed. “You may have the weapons in the field, if you wish,” Thor said to Matt, as they walked to the water. “No thanks. A good warrior knows to bring only what is needed. Anymore, and he’s apt to fall on his own sword,” Matt answered, and Thor nodded in agreement. “She fought well tonight, she is a good ally to you,” Thor said, as he gazed at Maureen. “Yes she is very good for me, in every way,” Matt answered, as his voice broke. “I think it is time, for all the warriors to drop their armor, and enjoy this victory,” Paul said, as he came up to them. The smell of battle and blood still filled Matt’s nose and he had to agree. “Another good soak, would do these bones a world of good,” Matt said, as he pulled off his tunic. Soon, they were all in the water, and Paul came back with a piece of soap plant, to refresh the one Maureen was using, in her hair. As Tamry backed away, Paul began to massage the lather into the woman’s long curly blond tresses. The touch of Paul’s hand on her flesh had an immediate response from Maureen. “Oh Lady Sif that feels so good,” Maureen purred. “Maureen, I am in front of you,” Sif said, with a smile. Maureen opened her eyes, and saw both Sif and Tamry, standing away in the soapy water. She turned and Paul’s hand rubbed her breast with the lather. Waves of heat came over her body, as she accepted his attention. “Now don’t miss a spot Paul. We have to help Matt become as comfortable as possible, both need to relax, after their trying day,” Tamry said, as she and Sif went up behind Matt. Matt felt as if he had been shot again, when the four hands pressed against his back and chest. He found himself unable to move, as the hand lathered his back and chest, in the knee high water. “How do you feel?” “Kind of like, Japan. However, much better.”