Born Immortal Chapter 18

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Sunday evening found Astyr getting dressed in a new gown that Gerda had taken her shopping for the day before. It was a floor-length white silk organza dress with off the shoulder cap sleeves and cut in a simple A-line. The simplicity of the style let the intricacy of the fabric show to its best advantage; the soft transparent fabric had a pattern of vines and leaves and flowers woven into it with an iridescent white silk thread that could only be seen against the white silk lining when Astyr moved. With her pale blonde hair left loose around her shoulders she almost resembled a marble statue come to life.

She came down the wide stairs in the domed rotunda and made her way out to the patio around the swimming pool in the back yard. There were a great number of people there that Astyr had been told were Gunnar's ten Aunts and their families. Everyone was dressed in formal attire and the gowns were in many different colors that shimmered in the light of the paper lanterns that had been hung all around the patio.

The back yard had been transformed in the last two days by an army of workers who had been brought by the special event planner that Gerda told Astyr specialized in parties for their kind all over the world. The humans were under strict confidentiality contracts and were well compensated for their discretion. There were several large round tables spaced around the pool and each table was surrounded by ten chairs covered in white linen with elaborate centerpieces on each table surrounded by votive candles. At the far end of the pool a space had been left clear in front of a platform that had been erected and covered dark red velvet.

Grima saw Astyr coming out to the patio and came over to lead her around and introduce her to the rest of the large extended Falkor family. Grima was careful to introduce Astyr by her first name only and mentioned only briefly that Astyr was staying with Frey and his family due to the fire that had burned Grima's house down. Some of Gunnar's older cousins seemed to give her odd looks, like they should have known her but couldn't quite figure out from where but no one wanted to be rude and press the issue. Grima and Astyr were guests of Frey's and nobody wanted to risk insulting their uncle by questioning them further.

A couple of the younger girls took one look at the bracelet on her arm and seemed to find their own explanation for Astyr's presence. This theory seemed to involve Hakon because the girls gave knowing looks and started whispering to their cousins when Hakon came over with a glass of champagne for Astyr and took over as her guide. He was wearing a classic white tie evening dress complete with tails and standing next to Astyr in her white dress, they looked like the top of a wedding cake.

Gunnar came out with his parents and he was wearing a white Eastern-style jacket that was embroidered with gold thread in a pattern that Astyr could see contained runes over a pair of loose white linen trousers. He was grinning widely and seemed to almost be vibrating as he greeted his family. When Astyr came to say hi, Hakon grabbed her arm before she could reach up to touch his arm.

"You don't want to do that right now." He said to her softly. "You aren't sixteen yet and if you touch him, the power in his body waiting to start the regeneration process might spark into you. It would feel a lot like sticking your finger in a light socket." Astyr thanked him for the warning, in fact, just standing close to Gunnar she could feel her hair lifting like it was full of static electricity. Hakon led her away and Astyr took the opportunity to ask him something she felt sure everyone else would laugh at if she asked where they could hear.

"Hakon, if we can absorb energy, how come you don't just stick your finger in a light socket? Wouldn't that give you a big boost?"

Hakon chuckled a bit but it wasn't in a mean way. "It's actually a good question, Astyr, but I really don't recommend that you try it. Aesir can absorb energy from natural things like sunlight and heat and plants and animals but it has to be in a steady way; only drinking blood can give you a boost. If you stick your finger in a socket, your body will be overloaded and you would be electrocuted just like any human would. Only an Alfar would be able to absorb that kind of energy without being hurt."

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