By the end of the relationship, they called him evil. Half-Jotun he was, but my father made him kin by choice rather than fate. I suspect that he was just hard and bitter— he'd suffered more than he'd gained at our hands. He lost a lover, a good name, and three children— a fourth at the last moment— before it was all over. He cost us one of our number and a great deal of frustration, but that was in effect all. It ended bitter, though it began with hope.

I won't deny he wasn't difficult— but he didn't try to be easy. He tried to be nothing. What he took to, he was. He was himself— a thief and a hell raiser though that was. And he did always raise hell. . . .

He didn't have to be bitter. He was a Jotun, a cynic, a spirit of fire, yes, but he was also a man. And the fate of man is fluid. If it hadn't been for my brothers, my nephews, my son, sometimes even my father, he could, perhaps, have only been mischievous, as his nickname suggested. But he had a brooding side, and he took to it under rejection often enough. In time, the general opinion was to be tired of him— for without his tricks he was someone entirely different.

He was often threatened with exile— twice he chose it himself. Twice he came back, it being self-imposed, with a dignity no member of my family would allow him to keep. As if rejection alone by those he chose as family wasn't enough, he was humiliated as well, and they wondered why he humiliated them so often.

If it hadn't been for his Jotun-born children, too, and what was done to them. His sons were bound, his daughter exiled, their mother murdered. He never quite lost his rage— it burned like his fire, and one could see it flickering in the back of his dark eyes when he so much as looked at some of my brothers.

He took a wife among us, and he cooperated from time to time, but he was not one of us; he sometimes appeared to make sure it was so. He was too cunning, too devious to be part of our inner circle. He earned grudging respect for his actions, and at the same time contempt.

He didn't have to go down like he did. He created the corner, but they backed him into it, and without that he wouldn't have chosen the wrong path. Without pressure, it never would have crossed his mind. He is not the only one at fault, and yet the only one truly blamed.

Odd, though, isn't it? I'm the only one to defend the Mischief-Maker, and yet it remains I defend my own murderer.

(Author's Note: Balder's point of view. Kinda ironic, isn't it? Most of the rest will be from Loki's POV, but he didn't make a very good POV for the prologue, epilogue, and interlude(s). This is sort of a sequil to my other story, "Bound By Silk, and if you're here from that, thanks!)