I thought I’d offer my fans a sneak peek at the upcoming book, Yes, Ironspell, there is a Santa Claus. My blurb for the book is as follows:
The Krampus is kidnapping children. Santa makes an unscheduled stop to ask Ironspell and his Jotun partner, Vetr, for help. Together, they must visit Hel to gain entrance to the Krampus’ stronghold. But can they rescue the children and stop the Krampus from enacting his dastardly plan?
Check out the first chapter, and be sure to preorder it right here!
Everyone always thinks of Santa Claus as a kindly old man who brings presents to kids on Christmas, but I know better. He hired a PR firm a long time ago to whitewash his reputation, so the most people had to fear from him was a lump of coal. But I’ve met Claus, and he’s positively scary. And I’m beginning to suspect my mom told me he didn’t exist just to keep me safe.
But I’m getting ahead of myself, aren’t I?
My name is Bob “Ironspell” Ironspell-Cabas, and I’m sure you’ve probably heard about me in the news. No? Well, I’m a police officer with the DWTF—that’s the Denver Wizard Task Force—and yeah, I know the acronym sucks. The Denver Wizard Task Force is Denver, Colorado’s supernatural division that deals with magical creatures and magic when they break the law. Oh, and I’m a wizard—or so everyone considers me nowadays—and I’m immortal, thanks to a Fire Giant in Muspelheim. Long story, that.
On December 15th, I sat with my sixth official partner whom I hadn’t managed to get blown up, eaten, or flamed in the almost eight months since I got promoted to DWTF, and we were having a drink to celebrate in the werewolf bar, Trader Vic’s. We both figured it was some sort of record for me, but honestly, I seriously doubted anything could harm my partner, Vetr, much. See, he’s a Jotun of the Frost Giant variety. Complete with blue skin, white hair, and taller than anyone I know when he’s in his actual form. Thankfully Jotun are shapeshifters, which means he can appear as a Human, and even reduce his size to something far less scary.
Right now, Vetr was about six-foot-five, but kept his “normal” Frost Giant appearance. That meant pale blue skin and runes tattooed along the left side of his face. Of course, he made himself taller than me, because size does matter. I’m no runt at six-foot-flat, but I suspect he’s overcompensating.
At Vetr’s feet lay his wolf friend, Ulf, whose name wasn’t really Ulf, but Sköll. Sköll, as in the freaking wolf who is destined to swallow the sun during Ragnarok. Only there would be no Ragnarok, thanks to yours truly, but that is another story for another time. Sköll prefers the name Ulf, which Vetr had given him.
December in Colorado is a mixed bag. It can be sunny and warm one day, and a raging snowstorm the next. Today, snow was falling thick and fast, promising to snarl up traffic and make the entire roadways into one lovely sheet of ice. Not that we had to worry about getting home. We were both magic users, and both of us could cast reliable portal spells without using casting circles or any of that nonsense. Vetr, because he was Jotun, and me, because of my Dark Elven and Light Elven heritage. Despite all that, I am Human, more or less.
We had shut off our radios now that we were off duty because no one really wanted a drunk Jotun or inebriated wizard to help out in traffic accidents. Vetr was nursing a mead that Alaric, the Alpha wolf and owner of the establishment, got from Scotland. I had tried it, but decided on a local craft brew. We were discussing the latest addition to the mantle above a crackling fire—the Gnome in the Home. These things came into vogue when the Gnomes in an attempt to outdo the Elf on a Shelf, leased real, live miniature Gnomes as Santa’s spies to determine who was naughty and who was nice. Only, most people found it creepy to have a real, live spy in their living rooms who could travel at a whim throughout their house and into the bedrooms. So the Gnomes in the Home soon found themselves out of work. From what I hear, they’re working gigs on Fiverr.
Apparently the werewolves found a Gnome in the Home skulking about looking for work. So, they tied him up, gagged him, and bound him to the top of the mantle’s miniature Christmas tree for extra cheer. Vetr and I were arguing over whether to take the little guy down and free him before Yule, when the door flew open and a gust of wind and snowflakes swirled into the bar. A tall, old man looking like a Gandalf cosplayer strode in. Except he had only one eye. The other eye was just a dark socket, and wasn’t intimidating in the slightest. No, not at all. His gray robes flowed around him in the wind, and he wore a blue, pointed wizard’s hat with a broad brim. Two ravens perched on his shoulders, and two wolves walked beside him in heel position like a brace of trained hounds.
“Don’t look now, but it’s the old one-eyed bastard,” I grumbled in my best sotto voce. Vetr looked up from his mead, deep in his cups, and grunted. Ulf let loose a growl I could feel along the floorboards. The other patrons, mostly of the werewolf variety, stopped what they were doing and stared hard at the old man; their golden eyes gazed on the intruder like a pack sizing up a bear. All deadly predators; all cautious around the other’s turf.
The intruder’s eyes met mine, and right then, I knew I was in trouble for something or someone, though what I’d done, I hadn’t a clue. The old man cleared his throat. “I demand Guest Right.”
Tom Ulfhednar, the manager of Trader Vic’s, strode forward. At seven-feet tall with brass eyes, a blond and gray crew cut, and muscles that put Vetr to shame, most patrons shrank from him when he caught their gaze. Not the old man. Instead, the one-eyed bastard met his stare with his gray eye and that black pit of an eye socket. “What do you want, Ancient One?” Ulfhednar growled. “If you’re here to cause trouble, then we will not extend Guest Right.”
“I come in peace,” he spoke. I snorted in response, and the old man looked at me. “I just want to talk to a patron of yours.”
Tom looked at me and back at him. “You may talk, Ancient One, but if you sling magic or use any weapons, or if your creatures do anything to harm our guests or property, Guest Right is rescinded.”
“As I would expect.” The old man stared at me again.
I took a pull of my beer. I started thinking mead might be a good idea now. Or everclear, at this rate. The old man nodded to Tom and sure enough, made his way towards my table. Vetr looked up, his eyes smoldering, and Ulf’s growl turned into a snarl. “Easy, Ulf.” Vetr laid a hand on the massive wolf’s head. “We’re not here to fight.”
I took another swig of my beer, emptying it. Sure enough, the old man pulled up a chair and sat down across from us, his wolves growling at Ulf. “Easy, Geri, Freki, we aren’t here to start a fight.” He pointed to the floor beside his chair and I swear, the two wolves laid down better than I’ve seen trained dogs do in an obedience ring. The two ravens cawed and glared at me with their red eyes as though they might want to make a meal out of me. The old man looked up at Tom. “A mead, please.”
“Make that two,” I replied.
“Three,” Vetr growled. “I’ll need something to keep me from throttling the Aesir.”
One of the ravens cawed and turned its baleful gaze on my partner. The Ancient One raised an eyebrow. “I am not here to fight with you, Jotun.”
“Oh?” I raised an eyebrow at the old man. “And what are you here for?”
“To seek your help.”
I couldn’t help myself, really. The old man and I had a prickly relationship, at best. “You mean the All-Father can’t deal with something and needs a couple of cops to go arrest someone?”
The Ancient One looked miffed as Vetr and I laughed. The ravens ruffled their feathers and were probably thinking about plucking our eyes out. “I am not going by my usual name. You may call me Jölnir, if you must.”
“Jölnir?” Vetr sneered. “Why don’t you just call yourself Saint Nicolas, Kris Kringle, or Santa Claus? That would be more fitting.”
I facepalmed. “Jölnir? Seriously? Next you’ll be ticketed for double parking eight tiny reindeer and going down people’s chimneys to deliver toys to kids.”
“Hey! Don’t forget Rudolph! I like Rudolph!” Vetr took another swig of mead.
Jölnir glowered at us and slammed his fist on the table with a loud crack. The ravens squawked and spread their wings ominously. “Fuck you. I came here because we have a problem.”
“What problem could that possibly be?” I took the mead cup from the server as she walked by.
“Children are disappearing throughout Denver.”