Dear readers: Tonight, time-traveling musician Shelta Maclean sits down with Loki, Keeper of Lost Souls and Stories, for a candid conversation. Though Shelta doesn’t meet Loki until book two of the Roots and Stars series, he has watched her since the beginning.

Loki leans back in his chair, his dark suit threaded with silver, and offers to trade Shelta a few of his stories for a few of her songs. She agrees.

Shelta: How did you come by your title: The Keeper of Lost Souls and Stories?

Loki: How many names have you collected over the years?

Shelta: I only had Shelta when I started.

Loki: Now, you’re the Song Weaver. And you’re young. Imagine being immortal.

Shelta: What do you do with your lost souls and stories?

Loki: I give them a home. A family. A library. Sometimes, I give them my attention. Sometimes, I turn my attention elsewhere.

Shelta: Like watching me?

Loki: Like watching you, and your family.

Shelta: Do you remember being a child? Do immortals forget, after so many years?

Loki: I remember. Even then, I was always on the edge of things. My mother is Arianrod, Goddess of the Silver Wheel. Frigga tolerates my father’s adventures, but Odin’s lovers aren’t welcome in Asgard. I grew up going back and forth, sometimes here, sometimes staying with my mother. I helped her gather the spirits of the dead and ferry them to the Otherworld. My youth in Asgard mainly consisted of sparring with Thor and devising plots to upset the tedious routine of living in the palace.

Shelta: You started out as the God of Chaos, didn’t you?

Loki: I’ve displayed enormous talent for mischief, yes, but “God of Chaos” lacks scope, and most legends written about me miss the mark. They certainly don’t reflect who I’ve become.

Shelta: You’ve matured?

Loki: I like to think so.

Shelta: How long have you followed my adventures?

Loki: Since you were birthed into the World Tree.

Shelta: You mean abandoned and flung into the future to bounce through foster homes until I was old enough to live out of vans and lovers’ beds, playing music on the street? Yeah. You’d think I would’ve had an easier time of things with gods watching over me.

Loki: You would’ve had a considerably harder time if we hadn’t been. Your mother guided you to Killian. What perfection that was.

Shelta: Did you just say something nice about my mother?

Loki: Just because we don’t see eye-to-eye doesn’t mean I don’t admire some of her work. She helped unite you with your match, or matches, as the case may be. Still, you’ve done most of the weaving yourself.

Shelta: I had no idea what I was doing. I love three men who share the same soul. It’s madness.

Loki: It’s extraordinary. Did you know I named you the Song Weaver when you sang your soul together with your beloved’s?

Shelta: That was a long time before I became a weaver. Officially.

Loki: Perhaps, but that thread was clear to me from the start. I’m glad you’ve chosen to put your family first, before the obligations that have been placed upon you.

Shelta: After all the gods put us through, I had to set boundaries. I don’t know if I’ll ever forgive the council.

Loki: What was worse, not being able to control your time-traveling, or being able to navigate the multiverse but still being tricked by the World Tree?

Shelta: Both? I guess in some ways it was worse before, when I couldn’t control the time jumps at all. I never knew when they were coming, or where I’d end up, and I lost so many people I loved. At least now, if I travel the Tree, it’s on purpose. I get where I want to go, even if the timing isn’t always exactly right. And I get to see my family, even though they live in three different worlds.

Loki: I notice you spend roughly the same amount of time in each of your homes.

Shelta: Yes, I try to find a balance. I was just in Norway with Nikolas and his children for a few weeks. We watched the Northern Lights dance in the sky and took the dragon boat out for a voyage in the fjords. Before that, it was a month with Killian, sparring on the training field and flying over Scotland. And soon, I’ll be heading to see Troy. The silence of his sanctuary by the lake is so nourishing.

Loki: The best of all worlds.

Shelta: Indeed. What about you? Is Asgard home for you? Do you still visit your mother?

Loki: Asgard is one of my homes. I enjoy my lair, and my privacy. I do visit Mother on occasion, but I also go to the planet where I spent my exile. I have a chalet in the hills above a coastal city with colorful houses climbing up from the perfect surf break. It’s a delightful palate cleanser.

Shelta: Why were you exiled?

Loki: I interfered with mortals too many times. More than most other gods. We all break the rules, I just tend to break them in ways that get noticed.

Shelta: How was the exile lifted?

Loki: Father decided he’d punished me long enough and invited me back to Asgard. When I didn’t come, he built me my own wing, complete with a night club, and sent a very attractive messenger to convince me to return.

Shelta: And here you are.

Loki: Here I am. As are you. And your children, where are they?

Shelta: They have training with Thor this morning, and lessons with Merlin this afternoon. I can’t believe I let my mother talk me into bringing them back here.

Loki: She’s very persuasive. You know you can’t protect them forever. They were born world-weavers.

Shelta: I know. Sometimes my heart aches when I think of how fast the time will pass, and then they’ll go flying off on their dragons, with their own quests to conquer.

Loki: They will do wonderfully. You needn’t worry.

Shelta: I’m a mother. It’s programmed in.

Loki: Do you worry when you play music?

Shelta: No. Then there is only the song. And I promised you several.

Loki: That you did.

Shelta and Loki head into a room that holds a single instrument: the piano Shelta first played in Stirling Castle, at the start of her adventures. She sits on the bench, places her fingers over the keys, and closes her eyes. With a lazy wave, Loki dims the house lights, and a spotlight bathes Shelta in a golden-white glow.

When she starts to play, he places a hand on the wood of the piano, standing beside its open mouth. The strings translate Shelta’s movements into music, her subtle magic vibrating in waves that thicken as they bounce off the chamber’s walls and wood-plank floor. When she opens her voice and sings a bluesy number about betrayal and hope, Loki can’t help but sway. He is a connoisseur of musicians, and Shelta is one of the finest to grace the multiverse of the World Tree.

Leia Talon writes lyrical fantasy and speculative fiction with romantic elements. She lives in the mountains of British Columbia, Canada, where nature sparks her imagination to run wild. Subscribers to Leia’s author newsletter receive a complimentary copy of Shelta’s Songbook, a standalone collection of poetry, short stories, and stunning artwork set in the same world as the Roots and Stars series.

You can find Shelta on the pages of Falling Through the Weaving. Loki makes his entrance in the sequel, Dragons in the Weaving.

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