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The Burning Skull

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The Grandmaster smiled lazily, his red mouth slurping as it suckled on a sweet. His fine head of dark hair glistened in the low light, as did his bright yellow robe. The members of his court were copulating around him. Heimdall smiled grimly. Loki, for all his depravity, had better taste than this vulgarian.

“You’ve come to me with a very tall tale, and I’d like you to tell me why I should help you out.” The Grandmaster drawled.
Heimdall had arrived on the planet of Sakaar after a week’s journey in outer space. His head was heavy, weighed down by an exhaustion that buzzed like bees in his ears.

“You should provide us aid for your own sake and that of your planet.” Heimdall said patiently. “Loki will come for anyone who has ever had sex with Thor. Do not think he won’t.”

The Grandmaster’s smile didn’t falter. “Ah, Loki.” He mused. “The god after my own heart. He savors the pleasure of power, and does what he wants. I have no objections to the delightfully deviant deal he made with his brother, so why should I feel he’s a threat to me?”

“Oh, I can tell you why...” The rich voice of a woman oozed like molasses in the room. Heimdall turned and gave her a low bow, which she returned with a smile. Her form was large and voluptuous, with skin the shade of the winter sky. She had thick tresses like waves of the ocean that fell on her breasts, which were as round as blue mangoes. Only her eyes were the color of blood. The woman seated herself on the lowest step to the Grandmaster’s throne, and Heimdall surmised that she must be his consort.

“Well, my Lady Jarnsaxa,” said the Grandmaster genially, “I’m sure that our esteemed guest will be as glad as I am for your input.”

Jarnsaxa smiled serenely. “Your Majesty, the people of our realm find Loki’s jealousy over Thor perplexing: has Loki himself not had children with other people? But Loki does not see it that way. The late Angrboda once told me that Loki requested her to make love to him in the form of his brother, and I heard the same from poor Sigyn. The Liesmith has half-convinced himself that he has never lain with anyone but Thor at all. He recalls the conception of Sleipnir as a rape and does not believe he willingly lay with the horse.”

Heimdall felt a pang of sympathy for Loki. What was it like to endure such trauma? What was it like to fester with such a forbidden, destructive love?

The Grandmaster smirked and shrugged. “I’m actually glad that Sigyn got tired of him in the end. She lives on Sakaar now, though she stays as far away from me as possible. The Norse goddess of Fidelity took a vow of chastity and became part of a Christian monastery. Ironic, isn’t it? She’s lucky I permit the Freedom of Religion on my planet. But the goddess seems to have found a quirky sort of peace in her religion. She’s been heavily influenced by Midgard, and calls herself a Christian pacifist anarcha-feminist in the tradition of Leo Tolstoy.”

Jarnsaxa sighed heavily. “She could endure the pain of divorcing Loki, but something snapped in her after she was estranged from her children. She lives like an ascetic, and doesn’t accept the legitimacy of this state or any other.”

The Grandmaster rolled his eyes. “Her politics are a joke. She’s hardly a threat to my planet. However, Ragnarok is going to be a bit different this time around. Sigyn the Faithful is faithful only to her faith and no longer to Loki. She isn’t going to get back together with him, and she certainly won’t help him if you attempt to oust him from the throne. Though I don’t know what she sees in celibacy.” He licked his lips, and his bright brown eyes appraised Heimdall through long, flowerlike lashes. Jarnsaxa smiled dreamily.

“Thor was a very satisfying lover,” she reminisced. “Though nothing like Your Majesty or the other members of our court. Loki’s obsession hypes him a bit, but I have no doubt that Loki will come for me when he’s done with Sif and Jane.”

The Grandmaster paused and turned to Heimdall. There was a glint in his eyes that Heimdall didn’t like. “I’ll tell you what. I am decades older than the realm of Asgard. I’m not afraid of Loki. But it’s been years since an Asgardian found their way to my realm, and you’re entertaining. If you can defeat my Champion in a fair fight, I will support your quest. Otherwise, you must stay here forever.”

Heimdall glanced back at Jarnsaxa. To his surprise, she nodded. “I think that’s a fair deal. We have use for man like you.” She smirked a little, exchanging a wink with the Grandmaster.


Heimdall weighed his options. “As you wish.” He finally said.


 

The sound of cheers erupted through the arena. The air was chilly and Heimdall shivered; he had been stripped to his leggings and his dark body gleamed in the afternoon light. Jarnsaxa and the Grandmaster watched him impassively in the front row of the stadium. The Champion of Sakaar loomed like a statue at the opposite end of the stadium. The woman drew near and Heimdall did a double-take.

Brunnhilde, the last Valkyrie, had been missing from Asgard for many years. The Valkyries were a host of shield-maidens who’d fought for Odin. Hela had killed almost all of them, long ago. But Brunnhilde was the stuff of legend. Despite his enhanced hearing and sight, Heimdall had never been able to glean her whereabouts. He gave her a respectful nod. Valkyrie removed her shirt and tossed it aside.

The warriors slowly circled the arena and lunged for each other. They tumbled to the ground with a crash. Heimdall quickly realized that they were evenly matched. The two warriors rolled in the sand, kicking up dust. Their sweat mingled. Neither managed to pin the other. Heimdall and Valkyrie ducked one another’s blows. When they landed, they sounded like thunderclaps. Hours passed without pause. The crowd soon fell silent.

Valkyrie’s body was hard, toned, tough, and muscular. Heimdall bit his tongue. The stoic warrior had not been stirred by a woman for several years. Valkyrie smirked: it seemed that she could read some of his thoughts. The two warriors writhed around the arena and flipped each other over several times.

“Enough!” The Grandmaster cried, and leapt to his feet. His smile was strained over gritted teeth. “Well done, both of you! In honor of your impressive performance, I declare you both to be the winners!”

The crowd burst into applause. Some people stood up, but Heimdall’s spirits sank. A draw was hardly a victory, and he fully expected the Grandmaster to treat it as a loss. Curse Valkyrie for being such a brilliant fighter. When she extended her hand, however, he shook it graciously. Her touch lingered, and left a tingle that crackled up his arm.


 

Jarnsaxa and the Grandmaster approached Heimdall that night. The Grandmaster’s face was like a thunderstorm. “My original plan was to trap you here and make you one of my concubines.” He said, sneering slightly. “But your prowess in battle is too much, and I can’t have it on my planet. Warriors older than you have died trying to take Valkyrie down. I will send her with you if you promise never to return.”

“If that is what you want,” Heimdall shrugged. He was unfazed by this revelation. “In any case, I thank you for your support.”

“Well done, oh King of Asgard,” Jarnsaxa said warmly. “I knew you wouldn’t disappoint us. It seems that even Valkyrie was won over by your charm.” Her eyes twinkled.

Two hours later, there was a knock on Heimdall’s door, and Valkyrie stood before him. Her skin was the color of sandalwood; her hair was a dense, fragrant black forest. Her lips were lush and red as wine. She swaggered in like she owned the room, a bottle of whisky at her belt.

“I am glad to finally meet you. You may not remember me, but I was friends with your sister Sif a long time ago, and have a deep grudge against Loki myself.” Her speech was slightly slurred and there was a faraway look in her eyes. “His daughter Hela murdered the my lover, the Goddess Freya. She and I fell for each other two thousand years ago, after surviving the first cycle of Ragnarok, only to have her die at Hela’s hand in the second. That’s why I left and took to drink, but I suppose your past finds you when you hide from it long enough.” Valkyrie took a long swig from her bottle and slumped against the wall.

You forsook your duty to Asgard, Heimdall thought. Love was a luxury for people free of the burdens they shared. Still, Heimdall had never known the joy of loving anyone the way Loki, Thor, Sif, and Jane Foster had. Aloud he said: “I am honored to have you as an ally, and wish for us to forge a friendship on this journey.”

Valkyrie’s gaze swept Heimdall’s biceps and chest. “I think I would like that very much. I know we have only just met, but something tells me Freya would approve of you.” Her husky voice dropped an octave.“You fought magnificently tonight.”

“Are you drunk?” He asked. Heimdall was many things, but never a rapist.

Valkyrie looked at him seriously, her eyes shining like twin suns. “Not enough not to know what I’m doing,” she insisted. “If you don’t want this, then now’s the time to tell me.”
When Heimdall nodded his assent, Valkyrie pushed him on the bed and climbed on top of him. She began softly biting his neck. Her hands reached for his hardening member, and Heimdall slowly lost himself in the sensations.

“We have a long journey tomorrow.” He warned.

Brunnhilde rocked against him and began fumbling with her shirt. “Then it’s just as well we do something that’ll help us sleep tonight.”