Chapter 2: Viral Magic

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Cover Art By Justin Young

"Fenrir, I'm home," Em called excitedly as we made our way into the house. The heavy sound of paws padding against the floor made their way down the hall as Fenrir trotted into the room. Running directly up to Ember he looked on expectantly for a nice rub behind the ears. She knelt in front of him, doing just that as she spoke to him like an infant, "Who's a good boy, Fenrir? You are. Aren't you?"

Smiling, she patted his head once more before heading toward her bedroom to change out of her school clothes and undoubtedly leave her things everywhere for me to pick up later. Raising an eyebrow I grinned at Fenrir, mocking the voice she had used, "Who's the best little doggo in the whole wide world? Is it you?"

Fire sparked in his eyes as he glared back at me, snarling quietly, "Let's get one thing clear... You ever talk to me like that again I will tear out your insides and make you watch as I eat you alive."

"Such a scary, wittle pupper," I laughed, setting my bag on the counter. Reaching toward the ceiling I attempted to stretch out the series of knots I had developed throughout the day; finding my arms would only extend halfway.

"Looks like you took quite the beating," Fenrir remarked, trotting into the kitchen after me.

"Four demons tracked down her school today. The closer it gets to her birthday..."

Ember entered the kitchen, the fluorescent kitchen light seemingly bending about her as she moved. Her hair was pulled up into a messy bun, and she was wearing her favorite shirt, a Childish Gambino 'Camp' tee.

"I can only feel her power growing," Fenrir said to me, Ember oblivious to his words. "With every day it threatens to break free, refusing to be contained. When her birthday comes..."

"I know," I whispered solemnly, staring at the floor.

"You say something, Dad," Ember asked. Concern flickered in her smile as she watched me closely.

"Just talking to myself," I did my best to flash her a reassuring smile that she wasn't buying.

"You don't look so good. Is something wrong?"

"I..."

"Well if it isn't my favorite people," Baldur's voice boomed as he entered the kitchen, taking in the lot of us.

"Hey Uncle B," Em replied with her signature smile. Her golden eyes however still glanced over toward me like she knew I was hiding something from her.

"How was school today, little star," Baldur asked, hoisting her in a massive hug.

"It was fine," She choked through the breath being smothered from her body. "That was when certain, overprotective parents weren't harassing any boy that so much as dared to talk to me."

Setting her down, Baldur turned to me, his face aghast with mock surprise, "No? Don't tell me your father would be caught lurking about your school?"

"Yes, what a shocker," Fenrir chimed in for me and Baldur to hear. Em of course was unable to hear him thanks to whatever plot device prohibited my having to explain why a dog could speak. Something about having to know he was actually an ancient Norse god to be able to hear him.

"You know, one of these days you're gonna have to let me fly free of the nest, Dad?" Em, crossed her arms as Baldur stood near her nodding like he wasn't aware of why I was so protective.

"Yes, and when the day comes you sprout wings and start flying I will find a way to accept it. Until them, I'm pretty sure you have at least some homework you're supposed to be doing."

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