Ek, Loki

Ek, Loki
I, Loki

Chapter One

It wasn’t as warm as it should be. Loki frowned slightly and pushed an eyelid open, his curiosity the only reason he was able to do so. His body felt like molasses. He had tried molasses on Midgard once. Did not care for it at all. Still did not. Wait, was not he trying to do something?

This time Loki managed to actually open his eye enough to see out of it. There was—white. A lot of it, in fact. With greys and blues blurred in. He must be more exhausted than he originally supposed. Hmmm… And wasn’t Asgard gold? Not even the healing ward possessed this much white. It was a bit of white with a lot of gold. So was Moðir’s, actually. Thor’s were a bit of crimson with a lot of gold, and his were green with a lot of gold.

Yes, he was not doing terribly well. If Loki’s sporadic thought process was not information enough to reach that conclusion, the pounding in his head as he attempted to sit was. Certainly, he had had headaches before. Only Æsir he had ever met to have such a mortal condition, but he had them from time to time. Had his headaches ever ached so much, though?

Loki collapsed back onto the fluffy… fluffy, while not being uncomfortably fluffy. What was this? He wanted one.

Anyhow, he collapsed back onto the bed he had woken upon and froze. No, none of the Æsir he had known had ever had a headache. But he wasn’t an Æsir.

In seconds Loki was standing beside his cot, the aching of his body pushed aside and his mind sharply activated. It was no bed he had been placed on, but a simple ice-work frame filled with packed snow. Loki tried to forget that it was the most comfortable bed he had ever laid on, but his mind decided it had followed enough of his orders for the time being and promptly slowed again, leaving him to count up every type of substance he had ever slept on.

As an infant, he likely slept on a cot of phoenix feathers inside a lavish cradle. His childhood bed had been stuffed with fleece from Asgard’s finest flocks. As a youth, he began to travel. A yarn-stuffed cot on Vanaheim (my, had that been an experience), an Elven bed made of wood, and a Dwarven bed of metal. Once in the army, rocks, dirt, moss, tunics, and once, water he had magicked to hold his weight.

“Why are you sitting on the floor?”

Loki jerked his head up, eyes wide, and saw a small, very blue boy standing in a doorway he had not noticed. He was feeling quite foolish for that lapse of awareness until his head began to pound again and he recalled why he had been unaware.

“Helgi! That is no way to address a stranger!”

Blinking dazedly, Loki observed that a woman had come up behind the boy. Huh.

“And see, look at his eyes. He is clearly injured. Do you not recall what your Aunt showed you?” the woman asked, sounding quite distressed. Loki wondered why. Maybe he could help?

“I do remember, Moðir! When somebody’s eyes are all sleety, it means their head hurts and you should give them some meðal. Can I go get some from Aunt?”

The woman sighed. “Yes, Helgi. Remember your manners!” she finished as the boy darted off. “I do not believe I have ever heard unfocused eyes referred to as “sleety.” He certainly is a creative young boy.” The woman’s murmuring softened as she turned and approached him. Or maybe his hearing was departing? Loki thought that possible, though he could not recall why.

“Sir, would you like me to help you back onto the bed?” The woman sounded kind. Perhaps he should accept her aid. And she was quite attractive as well. Odd, that, considering she was blue. The blue was even odder. And the tribal markings were the oddest. Vanir marked their bodies similarly, but only for festivals. Was Loki on this Realm to attend a festival? Well, he would not mind so much if all the women were similar to this one. He could see intelligence in her red eyes—red? Huh—and would bet she could carry on an interesting conversation. Perhaps she could even tell Loki why his head hurt so.

She sighed. Again. Did she sigh as often as Thor shattered mugs, or more? Or perhaps she was simply in the mood to sigh.

“Mmp!” Loki exclaimed in surprise. When had the woman bent down? Why was she trying to pull him up? He liked the floor just fine. And why was she so cool? Normally Loki found others to be quite warm, but her touch was almost cold.

“Sir, I am not strong enough to lift you entirely by myself. You must help me as much as you are able. Sir? Sir, are you well? Ah, Helgi, thank you. I believe I underestimated his injuries—sir! Sir, do not fall asleep. It will be dangerous in your condition—sir! Helgi, hurry, fetch the most knowledgeable healer you can find. This man needs assistance beyond my capabilities. Sir, stay awake a moment longer. You must drink this. It will help your head. Sir? Can you hear me? Sir?”

Her voice registered, but Loki could not understand what it was she said. He was delightfully cool, his head did not hurt as much now, though there was a substantial amount more molasses, and… Oh. Drink. His throat was quite dry, now that he thought about it. And the liquid was just warm enough to be pleasant, and so very sweet…

“Aid! Hurry! He is falling asleep! I need aid!”


This time, Loki was far more aware when he woke. He had seen himself cast from Asgard a thousand times as he slept, and realized where he was and who had cared for him the moment he awoke.

Fortunately, the room he was in was empty when he woke up. Swiftly, Loki sat up and assessed his situation. The Jotunn must not realize who he was, or they would never have aided him. He was in hostile territory still, but that was an advantage. They would likely have placed him in a regular healing room rather than a cell.

Loki had had nothing with him when he was cast to Jotunheim, so he would be able to leave unburdened. Once he had escaped… Well, he would manage. It would be better than inside this compound, at the least.

Quietly, Loki stalked out the door of the room he had been placed in and began to creep in the shadows along the walls of the twisting passage he found. Every so often Loki would come upon a doorway or another passageway, but he resolutely continued to follow the passage he had first entered.

After a quarter hour, Loki finally heard voices. A negative thing, really, but he may be able to follow them to an exit. He called upon his magic and murmured a spell of invisibility. Moments later, he entered a cavernous room, just as empty as the rest of the compound but for a long table in the room’s center. Loki was unimpressed, to say the least. The table appeared to be fashioned out of rotting wood hastily tied together with string. It was hardly a table at all.

Clearly it was used as one, though, for a dozen Jotunn lined its sides, talking to one other in hushed tones. Well, mostly hushed.

One Jotun raised his voice to be heard by all at the table.

“I care not if it would be a cruelty! That creature inhabiting our healing room is a son of Laufey! There is no mistaking his marks! Bekkhild declared his origins before all of you, and yet you still allow her to tend to him! He is the son of a monster who would have us all fed to his beasts! And you allow his son into our nest? The monstrosity will run right to his father and disclose our location, and I, for one, have no interest in allowing Laufey’s army to hunt us down like the snow birds!”

The room was silent for many moments after the Jotun’s declaration, which Loki supposed was a positive thing. His mind was roaring so loudly he would not have heard a word said if they had been speaking.

They knew he was a son of Laufey, the ridges were apparently patriarchal symbols, which he could use to his advantage if he learned how to decode them, they did not know Laufey was dead, they apparently hated Laufey, they did not revere their army as the Æsir did, and they had shown him kindness despite believing him to be a no-good rat who may cause their deaths.

…Loki was not certain which piece of that information was the most difficult to wrap his head around.

He did not have the time to decide, because a softer, but far firmer, more noble voice spoke up.

“Atli, you know well we all share your concerns. However, you also know that if we killed the man, son of Laufey or son of Bekkhild, we would be committing murder all the same. He was severely wounded, and unable to tell us of his intentions. If we were to kill based off of assumptions, we would be no better than the Æsir, or even than Laufey. We have no cause to live for if not the cause of those such as him. Left by Laufey in the snow to die. Whether he was left as a sickness, to destroy us from the inside, or because Laufey assumed we would kill him is undeterminable simply by looking at the situation. Simply looking at the situation, he is a victim of Laufey’s cruelty, not a perpetrator of it, and in your heart you know that. You are letting your fear cloud your judgment, Atli.”

Once more, the room was quiet, and once more, Loki’s mind was not.

Left by Laufey in the snow to die.
Left by Laufey in the snow to die.
Left by Laufey in the snow to die.
Left by Laufey in the snow to die.

Why did every barbed word have to hurt him like it did? Why could he not be Thor? Blissfully overconfident and immune to mere words?

Left by Laufey in the snow to die.
Left by Laufey in the snow to die.

“I apologize, Helblindi. The resemblance of this man’s situation to your brother’s had not occurred to me.” Atli sighed and fixed his gaze on the table. “I suppose Byleist is the only one who will ever match up to your father’s expectations.”

Helblindi smiled slightly. Had Loki ever seen a Jotun smile? He did not think so.

It did not look as strange on the man’s blue skin as Loki had expected it to.

“Atli, no son will ever live up to his father’s expectations. That is why so many fathers leave for Laufey’s army.” The table started laughing. Loki did not see the joke in Helblindi’s statement, but did not care that he missed it.

Left by Laufey in the snow to die.

Loki did not have one brother, but four. Or three. Well, three biological. One was dead, another was likely evil, and the third standing before him had not caused Loki to dislike him yet, but likely would sooner or later.

“Helblindi, Atli, you have shown that we should not kill him before he is well—but what should we do with him then?” another Jotun asked. Loki snapped his gaze back to the Jotunn around the table. This answer would control a great deal of his short term future.

“Well,” Helblindi replied, “I would say we should speak to him and see how he came to be where we found him. From there, we can either chain him somewhere, or… I feel as if I am being too optimistic to suppose he would willingly help us, but perhaps we can coexist with him if he means us no ill will.”

The Jotunn murmured their agreement, and Loki’s breath caught.

He could sneak back to the room they had put him in, weave a story about himself, and earn their trust, and through their trust, their supplies. However, he did not know enough about Jotun culture to guarantee that his story would hold up to scrutiny….

He could flee this place and take care of himself….

Or he could reveal who he actually was. So far he had not felt a single tingle of magick. If the Jotunn had no mages with them, his magick would give him an advantage, and he could hold far more power over his situation than he would any other way….

Loki straightened his back and made a decision.

“I would be interested in knowing what precisely I would be helping you with before agreeing to do so. Coexisting, however, sounds quite lovely. I was not looking forward to living off of Jotunheim’s ‘land.’”

All of the eyes in the room were on Loki as he unwove his cloaking spell and made himself visible.

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Ek, Loki

Ek, Loki
I, Loki

Prologue

I was entirely lacking fear as I was brought before my fóstri. The electric blue webbing that had been spun through my mind was gone: I was well aware of my situation, and my self-preservation should have been rising within me. Instead, I felt hollow. I was drained of my anger, though I clung to it as much as I could. I did not feel despair, nor panic, nor regret. I had felt those emotions so much in the past two years that I seemed to have none left to feel.

Holding my head up high, I pushed my shoulders back, and walked with as much faux confidence as I could force my battered body to walk with. I had been paraded through Asgard’s golden streets as a public spectacle. The faces of women and children appeared in windows as I passed. Men stopped their work and stared. Even the various birds and beasts halted their proceedings to watch me walk by. It was obvious from their not-so-quiet whispering that everyone now knew of my true heritage. “Monster,” was the most frequented name they called me. I almost winced at the unbidden thought, “That was always their favorite title as well.”

I had not looked at a single Æsir, nor had I looked at Thor, who was leading me like a horse. My gaze had remained fixed ahead on whatever was directly before me the entire way.

As two geyma opened the enormous double doors that separated us from the Throne Room, Thor spoke to me for the first time since I stabbed him on Stark’s Tower. If you could even consider that to have been me.

“Should you ever require assistance—I shall come to your aid,” he said quietly. Behind the muzzle, I smirked humourlessly. He wasn’t forgiving me. He wasn’t telling me he still considered me his brother. He wasn’t saying that he would fight the Court for me. [But really, why should he?] And yet he was not calling me a monster, or wishing that I had been left in that Jotunn temple to die [like I often have]. No, he was being his usual insufferably perfect self and being as kind to me as was possible, while still inwardly furious at me for my actions. How typical.

The All-Father was speaking to a small group of drengskapr when we entered. The conversation silenced the instant they turned and caught sight of us. “I bade all leave except my sons,” he commanded. Instantly the Courtiers rushed to do as he had told them, and I felt an unwanted pang of jealousy. Because no one would listen to me like that. [But why should anyone listen to a liar?]

Óðinn looked me in the eyes, and to my disgust, his eye was filled with emotion. Now I had two sentimental fools to put up with. “Minn niðr,” he murmured. I scowled, pulling on all of the anger, bitterness and hate I had. “For lying to me.” “For letting them take me.” “For your blindness.” “For all of the mistreatment I have had since childhood at you and your countrymen’s hands.” “Because I am an Óvættr.”

“Ykkarr fóstriniðr,” I hissed in my mind. My expression must have adequately displayed my sentiment, for Óðinn’s face hardened. I almost smirked at my victory. Clearly, I had not lost my touch.

“You have committed crimes against the entirety of the population of a second Realm,” he began. Oh, how wonderful. I get to hear that speech again. It is almost reminiscent of the speech Móðir—my fóstra used to tell me when I had turned the spoons into snakes.

“Before, you were unable to face judgement,” he continued. If not for the muzzle, I would have spat at him. I endured much worse torture while in Thanos’s land than any punishment anyone in Asgard could ever dream of concocting.

“But now, you shall face the cost of your crimes.” Was he joking? This was the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard him say. I was beginning to understand where Thor received it from.

“Loki; son of Laufey; who was slain by your own hand; I now and forever henceforth banish you to the Realm you tried to annihilate.” I froze. He couldn’t mean… A glance at Thor, and I saw his face was mimicking my own’s horror. He couldn’t. He wouldn’t.

He stood—with an amount of effort that showed how much he was truly aging—, and finished, “Be gone!” Gungnir was slammed into the floor, and I only had the time to glance up at Thor’s face, a sadness seeping into my bones that I could not understand, before I felt magick pulling me from the Throne Room—from the palace—from Asgard—and at last, into an endless abyss of nothing. The Void.

I was yanked from the Void and found myself on my knees in snow. I knew where I was, and the realization terrified me. My eyes widened and became wild as I screamed, unable to see anything but more, more, more ice in every direction I turned.

My mind blurred, and I was only half aware that the muzzle was gone, and my hands were no longer tied. Only half aware that I was screaming for Óðinn, for Móðir, and mostly for Thor. Less aware as I realized I would never see them again. Scarcely aware at all as I crumpled, collapsing onto the ground of Jotunnheim. As I sank deeper into the snow with a crunch. Not noticing that I did not feel the sting of cold that I should have.

The haze shut down my mind completely, and I let my eyes droop closed.

Glossary
Fóstri – foster-father
Geyma – guard
Drengskapr – noblemen
Minn – my
Niðr – son
Ykkarr – your
Óvættr – monster
Fóstriniðr – foster-son
Móðir – mother
Fóstra – foster-mother