Jotunheim: The Distant Past
Quietly she appeared, pulled by the soft cries of the infant hidden next to the altar on which sat the Casket of Ancient Winters. “This one’s special.” She said, looking at the three figures that stood behind the altar looking at him. Their figures were indistinct enough to be indistinguishable from one another were it not for the flames that sparked in the center of their torsos.
“Yes, this one is of Ymir’s blood, born of the blessing of Yggdrsil.” The red spark flared as Urðr’s words reached her ears.
“I can feel the seidr, and astonishing as it is, I sense more to him than even that.”, she said.
Blue flames flared as Verðandi spoke, “That would be the Chaos and Fire that seem to have found home in him, son of Ice though he is.”
It was more than that, hard to notice but she could feel the shadow of something ancient, as old as her, perhaps older. She didn’t comment, thinking to herself that she would have to keep her eye over this one.
She looked around at the corpses of his guards and caretakers, their souls now hers to keep. “Do you guard him? Or are you here to mete out punishment to the Æsir for shedding blood in your Temple?” Green flames pulsed as Skuld’s voice echoed in the broken down halls, “We keep guard until his journey begins and when he fulfills his destiny, we will have our retribution.”
Lady Death looked into the veil behind her eyes and saw the paths this little one's thread was laid out to follow in the tapestry. All leading towards an inferno. And even as her anger stirred she noticed how, every now and then the thread swayed off the paths, its colour faded as if swallowed by shadows. A tiny smile flitted on her lips as she inclined her head towards the three and disappeared.
“What have you seen?” Hel asked as she appeared on the hill overlooking her domain. “illr er dómr norna.” (the Norns' doom is evil) she said, “But the endless exercise of creating cycles of birth, growth and death for the Nine Realms has bound them to stagnancy and they can no longer see.”
Eyes widening Hel asked, “What is it that not even Skuld can see my Lady?” She smiled slowly, cruelly, even as her eyes glimmered with amusement. “Chaos, they have forgotten its power and its unwillingness to be tamed.”
Svartalfheim: Present Day
For one blissful moment everything was dark, every sensation gone and in the next he felt as if he were being submerged in an endless pool of icy water. He felt himself being pushed deeper and deeper, felt his body fight for air, struggling to keep his mouth closed even as his mind screamed. And as he failed, opening his mouth he felt not water but icy winds on his tongue and opened his eyes with a gasp.
Mind muddled but whirring, looking into the orange sky above him, multiple events rushed through his mind. Letting go at the Bifrost, being tortured by the Other, the farce on Midgard, Odin’s second betrayal, Mothers death, Svartalfheim; the blade in his chest. And as if summoned by the thought pain flared in his chest even as the sand in the air made it harder to breathe.
Norns! Did Thor not even have it in his heart to leave his corpse away from the elements? Well after a lifetime of being used and cast aside, after being denied respect at every turn. After being told clearly that no kinship remained, he should have expected this. This here was the result of sentiment and misplaced loyalty. At least he had managed to avenge her by taking that foul beast’s life in return. By all rights he should be dead and yet even now the pain was ebbing.
Brows furrowed, slowly lifting himself off the ground LokI looked down at his chest. A thick band of blue seidr clung to a rapidly healing wound. Heart beating faster, looking up sharply, he ran his eyes over his surroundings trying to find the caster. No, no, no, no! Not again his mind screamed as he recalled the last time he had been “saved”. Breathing as deeply as he could, he tried to collect his seidr in preparation to defend himself. The pain in his chest flared and he heard a voice whisper, “I’d rather you didn’t do that.” Eyes searching for the source, he cleared his throat and said, “Show yourself, I would know who you are.”
Slowly before his eyes the dust in the air started coalescing into a figure cloaked in black, her face sharp boned with skin that looked like mists and as Loki looked into her eyes that seemed to hold an endless dark, for once in his life he was almost speechless. Lips curling into a smile Lady Death asked, “I wondered if you would recognize me.”
His eyebrows folding together, but head lowering in deference he replied, “I do my lady, but I don’t understand, why you haven’t taken me.”
She tilted her head down, her eyes burning into his soul as she studied him. She could see Yggdrsil’s pulse in the magic flowing through him joined by powers both ancient and eternal, Laufey’s lost son, Odin’s stolen son. Raised in a shadow, cast aside for his bright brother. A tool the blinded Norn’s seek to use even as the Titan failed. A heart as warm and fierce as the fire that claimed him as its own. But both love and loyalty bestowed with caution to only a few, or perhaps to just one. “You wished to follow your mother but there is another who was perhaps always meant to be yours, and now that she has met you, she won’t let me take you.”
Eyes narrowing, mentally scrambling to make sense of her words but failing he asked, “What is that supposed to mean? Who claims me as their own? Who can hold a claim greater than death?”
Her lips curled into a smirk. “There are but few, think Loki, you have met her, you claimed her and you saved her. You alone after eons echoed her essence.”
Loki frowned to himself, “Essence?”
Lifting her eyes towards the sky, she said. “Yes, you above all understand longing, loneliness, loss, the potential for change trapped in stagnancy and limitlessness as much as the she who embodies the void. She tethered herself to you then and claimed you in return. She waits for you. Can you not hear her call even now as she works to bring you away for my reach?” She looked down then at his wound.
Eyes widening at first with realization, then closing as the barely noticeable hum in his ears intensified into a melody, feeling a gentle buzz from where his wound was quickly closing “The Tesseract” he said looking up to her once more.
She tilted her head in affirmation. His heartbeat picked up as his mind flooded with images; of the Mad Titans eyes gleaming with desire for the stones, his acts of cruelty and ruthlessness to let nothing stop him from acquiring what he coveted. Bile rose in his throat as he recalled the vicious tugs in his brain once he had acquired the Tesseract.
Then suddenly Loki’s heartbeat slowed, mind filling with softer memories of half remembered melodies cutting into the haze of the mind stone, a feeling of having come home, though he was still in Midgard, tunes that would play in his mind urging him to follow their paths as he undid the damage in his cell in Asgard. He’d thought they were his mother’s magic. Though now he could recall a gentle tune in the aftermath of his grief on hearing of her death and the wild pull that overwhelmed his senses urging him to leave Thor’s side and head to the vault instead of Svartalfheim. Yes the stone had clearly been his companion from the minute he first held her. But if he answered her call now; chuckling softly he said, “A poor choice then for even if I take her away from Odin, the one that hunts her will bring me to you.”
She conjures a chair to sit on bringing herself closer to him and looks into his eyes, into him, her own eyes as unfathomable as the cosmos, and sees in him so much power, untapped but with strong foundations in place- oh yes. The potential here is staggering. But first he needs to rest and heal. Though his past madness has fully passed; his grief hasn’t. There are heavy bruises to his soul from wounds of both loss and betrayal. Both Odin and Thor have always been blind and misguided, with a taste for cruelty that creates an ease for the Norns to lead them towards their own destruction. Odin you utter fool, she thinks. You never did understand self fulfilling prophecies.
Raising an eyebrow she asked, “Tell me then what you would do now? Go back and get into Odin’s cage until he has use for you again, or will you walk away and hide. Or will you perhaps finally unravel lies, accept truths and fight for who you really are and were always meant to be when magic chose you, blessed you with the power to bend Yggdrsil to your will?”
Brows furrowed Loki looked around him, this place where he was left to rot dead and forgotten, he doubted the thunderer would return to collect him for a proper burning and yet he didn’t feel the rage he had felt since the day he had learned of his true origins. He felt an acceptance, for deep within he knew that this was expected. Even in his rage he had run from this truth, wanting to believe in the illusion of love. Going back to that would leave him hollow, burning away even more of who he was, now that he no longer felt any of his previous pathetic sentiment. It was time to move on. This he knew. And for once, now that they all thought him dead, perhaps he could.
Looking at her again, he felt a bone deep weariness for he knew that beyond all the questions she’d spoken out loud there was one that she hadn’t voiced. Would he be the Tessaracts champion? The soft melody in his mind intensified once more, warmth filling his heart, gently tugging. Like calling to like.
He knew that in all probability if he took her, he would die. He would die because even a God of Chaos and Fire would never stand for the horror the Mad Titan was determined to commit. He would never stand for her to be claimed by another.
His lips tightened for just a moment before relaxing. “I think I’m quite done with going back.”
She looked into his eyes then. Those deep secretive eyes and saw behind her own the birth of a new yarn, gleaming, eager to change the tapestry and felt her own force strengthen.
“And will you take her with you?” Loki nodded slowly, mind already working on a way to sneak in and away from Asgard unnoticed. But it stopped abruptly when she laughed. It was a sound both soothing and terrifying embodying the reactions the living often had to her. “You need not go back Loki, I will bring her to you. Where will you go?”
Blinking in surprise he considered her question, now that he could move on, where should he go? Should he go beyond the nine realms or find a place somewhere within them? There were too many options, perhaps he should find a place to fortify himself first, he did need to heal and think. He would have to update himself on all that had happened during his incarceration, only then would he be able to decide. Rolling through all the options in his mind, only one place immediately stood out as an option for sanctuary. “Alfheim, I think I’ll go there first.”
Lady Death nodded affirmatively. “Go then, I will bring her to you at your sanctuary.” Loki’s green eyes widened in surprise even as she faded away; of course she could see his thoughts, chuckling softly Loki lowered himself back onto the ground. Closing his eyes once more he reached for his seidr extending it outwards to find a path. Ever eager to do his bidding, it danced back to him quickly flashing the location behind closed eyes. Time to go then I suppose. Shoving himself roughly from the ground, swaying for a moment, the trickster looked down at his blood and dust covered armor and grimaced. Snapping his fingers as new armor appeared on his body, he turned towards the direction in which he needed to go.
Walking towards the dune that held the path his seidr had found, he thought of Alfheim. It was a realm he had always loved, steeped in magic; its inhabitants held an appreciation for knowledge, skill and change. It was one of the very few where he had been admired, respected and welcomed to in the past. There were even a few there who had once called him friend. He would see what had changed and how much favor he retained before he made an advance in any direction. For now he would head to the small dwelling he had built for himself to go to when he wanted a break from Asgard, it was deep in the forested mountains hidden away from all eyes by shields he had placed centuries ago, strengthened through the years. Yes it would do nicely for now. Humming along to the melody in his head, he approached the shimmering air where the paths connected.
And as Loki stepped on to the path a faded thread in the tapestry the Norns weaved changed its colour and brightened, Threads woven together for millennia unravelled. It was a moment they hadn’t foreseen. One that made Lady Death laugh out loud for the first time in eons. It was the moment when tales of Ragnarok disappeared from the tapestry.