|Loki, Son of Laufey
Author: Amy Keeley PM
A re-telling of some Norse myths with a generous helping of literary license.Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Tragedy - Chapters: 72 - Words: 108,536 - Reviews: 95 - Favs: 91 - Follows: 5 - Updated: 06-25-12 - Published: 11-10-03 - Status: Complete - id: 1443595
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The cold had come and taken away the proud among mortal men for three years. So many had been sent to Niflheim it made the gods afraid. Their only solace were the wars that broke out, sending an amount almost as great to Valhalla.
Then, when all of Midgard had been exhausted, and the sun and moon ceased to give their light, while the stars of heaven themselves hurled down from the sky Loki and his children came, riding over the sea to make war on Asgard. Surt followed in their wake, the fire giants burning a path to the halls of the gods, killing all who stood in their way. The Jotuns sent their emissaries to Loki, as well as the storm giants and all creatures who wished the gods dead. Soon, all had lined up, ready to take part in the great destruction.
The fighting was fierce, and each god fell one by one. Finally, only four were left alive of those who had once graced the land of Asgard. One collapsed on the battlefied, too exhausted from his battle with the Great Wolf to move. One found herself alone, and so she quietly went back to her boats to find her father, though she knew he wouldn't be there.
And two, each by a different route, stole away to an island not far from what had once been called Bifrost.
Balder walked carefully among the bodies, trying to spot any faces he recognized from either side. Hel had been merciful and let him stay in Niflheim during the fighting, so he could honestly say he never had any part in it. That didn't make the pain any less.
He'd been a great warrior once. Not as great as Thor or Heimdall or Frey, but he could hold his own in a battle. And soon, he would be able to battle once again, though he couldn't think of any reason why he should. All those years in Niflheim had ruined him. He'd heard too much from the dead. No war would ever look the same.
Balder paused. He carefully crouched down to get a better look at the bloody face on the ground. He took in a shuddering breath and squeezed his eyes shut against the tears. Even his mother had joined the battle.
"Lord Balder," one of the shades behind him spoke. "It is almost time." He nodded absently. All the dead had to return to Niflheim so the burning wouldn't touch them. Then, he would return triumphant to the surface to rule over the new life the fire would bring.
But he couldn't leave his family like this.
"Where is Lady Hel?" he asked without turning around.
"She's gone back to the boats," said one rather tall shade. Another added, "She's waiting for you."
Balder shook his head in answer. He couldn't leave his family like this, their bodies exposed to the fire that was coming. And he could feel it beginning already.
The Gatekeeper kept watch better in that moment than he had his whole existence. He would not be taken by surprise this time.
The sound of waves crashing against the shore brought back another time when he'd faced this same enemy on this same island. The Gatekeeper's eyes narrowed, seeing the flaming red hair, the arrogant grin, and high in the air, sparkling like Sol herself, the item he'd been asked to retrieve.
"I thought of all the gods, you would understand why I'm doing this."
And with the words came an image of the girl herself, small and timid, but with laughing brown eyes and a kind smile. After all this time, he had to admit the Trickster had been right. Freya shouldn't have been the one to wear that necklace. The Gatekeeper kept the image of his only love clear in his mind as another memory came, tied once again to the words of his enemy.
"If you want Freya to wear it that badly, Heimdall, come and get it."
Far off in the distance, The Gatekeeper heard the sound of footsteps splashing into an opposite shore and pausing. He frowned and his eyes narrowed, trying to see the Trickster from his vantage point on the top of the cliff. Maybe it wasn't him. The Trickster had never given him the advantage before, except for that single challenge. Why announce his approach now?
It must be an illusion, The Gatekeeper decided. He was probably already on the island and his form on the shore was just a trick to keep his enemy focused elsewhere.
Yet, the magic that came from the Trickster he saw seemed real enough as the giant changed into a seal and began to swim toward the island, sword between his teeth. And when the seal had crossed the distance and changed back into his giant form, the amber eyes he'd sworn to close forever blazed with a near tangible hatred as they looked on the Gatekeeper.
Neither spoke; both kept their positions of the moment when their eyes had locked. The Trickster, fresh from the water, had his sword drawn and ready. The Gatekeeper had his sword next to him, casually gripped in his hand and dangling off to the side.
Unable to stand the silence any longer, the Gatekeeper spoke. "I told you we weren't finished." A faint, cruel smile touched the Trickster's lips. In a second, they were at each other, swords shimmering in the darkened sky.
Far off in the distance Balder thought he heard a shout. He stood up and looked around, thinking Hel might be calling him, but she was nowhere in sight.
But now, he was standing. It was easier to walk on.
A groan whispered to his ear from the blood-soaked ground and Balder looked down in time to see his brother Vidar opening his eyes. He suddenly felt like laughing and did, surprising his brother with its vitality.
He would be alive soon. Balder could feel it starting already.
"I thought," Vidar whispered, trying to pull himself up from the ground, "I thought Nanna would be with you."
"So did I. Can you walk?"
"I think so." Vidar carefully got up, waiting for a moment with bloodstained hands on his knees before finally becoming erect. His eyes closed in a near swoon, then opened with surprising clarity before filling with betrayal. "Did you fight with them?" he demanded.
"I didn't fight for either side. I stayed in Niflheim." Balder waited while the import of those words sunk into his brother.
"Is that where I'm going?" he finally asked.
"If you want. Or you can stay here and watch the world burn clean."
"Would I be burned as well?" Vidar asked with narrowed eyes. The only answer he got from Balder was a shrug. "You've been around Loki's daughter too much," Vidar muttered, starting to walk to the other side of the field where the boats waited for them.
I haven't been around her enough, the dead god couldn't help thinking. A soft smile graced his features for just an instant. Then, with one final longing glance toward his fallen family, he made his way toward Niflheim as well.
"What about Heimdall?" he heard Vidar ask from up ahead. "He was one of the last gods I saw standing."
"Heimdall has already chosen his fate."
"But I didn't see him when the battle was ending."
"That's because his battle is elsewhere," Balder murmured, his eyes automatically searching the landscape toward Singasteen.
The silence was brief before Vidar solemnly asked, "What's happened to them?"
"The gods. The one's who've fallen."
Balder took a deep breath before replying. "I don't know. Lady Hel knows, but she won't tell me. She says the Norns made her swear an oath that she would keep the place secret."
"'Lady Hel'," Vidar repeated, shaking his head. "Hermod told us you called her that, but it seemed unbelievable, even to Father."
"She deserves the title," was Balder's only reply, though his smile revealed more than his words would ever utter to a son of Odin. The two walked on in companionable silence, feeling the coming heat clearly enough that neither felt the need to mention it.
Loki panted heavily against the rocky outcropping, still reeling from the effect of Heimdall's kick to his face. It was the least of his injuries. One of his arms was broken and an eye had been torn out when Heimdall had smashed his face against a sharp rock on the other side of the island. The Shining God himself was spitting out blood and clutching his now unarmored side, trying to plug the hole Loki had made between his ribs.
Both would soon be unconscious from loss of blood.
"You know," he heard Heimdall saying, "I thought…I thought I…would be the… the one…who'd say the least."
Loki only shook his head. Words weren't made for wasting. He turned and stared at the Gatekeeper, still saying nothing. The Trickster felt the rock he was leaning against slide along his body until he felt the cool rock against his head. Heimdall was on his side as well, the blood pouring out like a small stream, making Loki's hair a deeper shade of red.
"She didn't deserve you," Heimdall wheezed. Loki closed his eyes. Of course she didn't.
But closing his eyes brought a vague terror, so he quickly opened them. That was odd. Heimdall wasn't as clear anymore. Maybe he'd been wounded in the other eye as well.
The face that appeared before him made him quickly toss out that assumption.
"He's waking up," he heard Fenrir state calmly. Another face pushed that one out of the way. Jorgie was grinning at him now. Loki felt a sharp pain suddenly stab him through the chest. It was getting harder to breathe. He felt, rather than saw, the hand that tried to take his own.
"No," he whispered, instinctively pulling back. His sons had died like warriors and that was no place for him.
He heard both his sons take in a deep breath and frown. Jorgie turned his head. "I don't know," he heard the snake shrug. "I don't know what he's waiting for."
Another face appeared this time and he sucked in a breath at the sight of those lovely green eyes.
"Have you had enough yet?" Angrboda laughed gently.
"Boda?" he whispered. She only smiled in response. "I tried…I wanted—"
"Shh." He could almost feel her finger on his lips. "Enough of that. It's time to come home." Her face began to disappear. Loki almost followed it, but he suddenly stopped. Boda's face began to come back. It almost looked like she was crying. Yet, she didn't look sad. Her face disappeared entirely, her voice fading as she talked to someone else far away.
"No," Loki tried to cry out, but it came out as a whisper and only Heimdall answered.
"You were such a fool." Heimdall suddenly burst into a fit of coughing and spat out a mouthful of blood. "I could have had her. I would have treated…her better. I…was just…just as…intel…intelligent."
Loki's chuckle made the pain worse. "Except in one thing," he finally whispered when the pain had faded to a more manageable level. "If you hadn't been so concerned about rules and rights, she would have married you eventually and she would have forgotten me." A frown crossed the Trickster's face. "She might have even come to hate me."
"I could never hate you." For the first time since she'd left him, Loki began to cry, the sobs making the pain in his chest excruciating. He didn't see her face, yet he could feel her presence as clearly as if he could see every inch of her. It felt as though his heart were breaking when the Trickster felt a small hand slip into his own. "You wouldn't believe what Boda's done for all of us, Loki," he could hear her laughing. "Why didn't you come before?"
"I didn't want to be without you." He had meant to whisper, but his voice was stronger now. His Little Mouse practically jumped into his waiting arms. He pulled back just enough to see her shining, gentle brown eyes before crushing her against him, kissing her hair, her cheeks, her lips in a frantic ecstasy. Far off, as if from a great distance, he could hear Heimdall's grating snarl and felt the vague touch of a roaring fire. It didn't matter. He was beyond that now and his Little Mouse was leading him home.
"I beat you, Trickster. I…finally…beat you."