As long as he could give them any more hell. . . . Hel mentioned the comment to me, and I replied that I feared she would be right. Whether it was his Jotun kin or the family of his blood brother, Loki thrived only when he could speak his own controversial opinions to those who thought him wrong. He couldn't have disappeared long before leaving one such mark somewhere, whether my father would have caught it or not. Eventually, even he would have realized he was likely not able to stay from the Aesir too long, not likely able to avoid his need to open the wound he'd given them as far as he could.

He was likely to point out that he had taken his own wounds from the Aesir, and though they had been ignored, they could not heal.

The Mischief-Maker would have interfered with someone else, though, if Hel had perhaps not said it— assuredly he knew the risk of returning to the Aesir, and assuredly he was angry enough to do it anyway. The Norns had refused to soothe his greatest fear, and he'd been reminded within a day of two of the children bound by my family. Like his own fire, his anger might cool but was dangerous while it was hot.

He'd never unsheathed that anger to Father before, though. Always before, the Trickster had stopped short of losing his thinning protection as the Allfather's blood-brother. Always before he had not been willing to put his own neck in danger from Jotuns, Vanir, and Aesir who wished it severed, and so he had argued in private and pursed his lips when he might make Father look bad— as he would have said himself, all kings have their limits, and the Allfather's was tighter than most mortal king's.

He no longer cared overly much about the consequences. My death had stripped him of the small protection, and as he left, his anger burned the strongest for the protector. Anyone who stood in his way of speaking his mind this time would have to suffer exactly what Father would— and with Loki, a berating, particularly to a warrior, was nothing to be taken lightly, as he raked up the since-forgotten wrongdoings and exposed his companions as every bit as humanlike as he was.

Without the Allfather keeping Loki in line and, for the most part, keeping his enemies from becoming too persistent, Loki's fire broke from the hearth and hurled itself in all directions, turning a rarely truly malicious trickster into a wildfire, as unpredictable as he always was and even more dangerous.

Loki, son of Laufey and Farbauti. Thief of Idunn's Apples and Sif's hair, blood-brother to Odin and father to the Allfather's mount Sleipnir, the Fenris wolf, the Queen of the Dead and the Midgard Serpent, was finally truly at the end of his rope. Sigyn would not have tried to stop him, and I had no hope.

We could only wish he didn't go too far. . . .

Author's Note: Well, that chapter was at least out quickly, eh? These are HARD to write, but when they finally get written, theyget writtenfast. While I don't actually know if anyone read last chapter, I do know I may end up revising a couple of chapters, but the nexttime I add on, itwill be about the flyting. Otherwise, review— it makes me happy. Cheers! — Loki