PTG: Alright, people, it's the last chapter. (choked up) Yes, I am regretful that it is so. I really enjoyed writing this, and equally so the rereading and rewriting that came with it. I'm putting talkies up here, because I don't want to ruin any effect the end might have. I would like to do a prequel, sequel, or some kind of -quel (quetzal?) to this, because Loki's just too fun a narrative voice not to use. Look, possibly, for a tale by the moniker of "Loptursson."
Rachel M.T: The next chapter? You mean the last? Okay, okay, I'm over it. But thank you for your liking of me story! (stage bow) I'll work on the slight grammar things. I agree. Thank you. Hooray blatant self-advertising! (okay, I'll read yrs, you read Olig…Rift. Deal?)
Loki Mischief-Maker: Thank you. I hope the tone worked out. Yeah, Heimdall, truth be told, is a bit of a prick. ('scuse the language). Thenk you v. much, (nodding), and- sorry bout that- "the thought" should be "I thought:" an unintentional mistake (love how pooters do that, hey?) And thanks again!
Amy Keeley: Thanks, glad you liked it. Gah? Gah! Gah… Okay, I'll stop.
Rhea De'Aqua: Tx. (stage bow)
It was more memory than dream, at first. Skadi had brought the snake, though how she got it there I had no idea. I was already bound, by then, on the three rocks by the guts of my ice-cold son, as Skadi had said before. Knees to one rock, hips to a second, and shoulders to a third. And, as an extra precaution, the gods had used what was left to secure my wrists to the floor of the cavern.
"Would you do the honors?" Heimdall asked, and Skadi looked at me and nodded.
The Snow Goddess came forward with her snake. I had been stripped of my belongings, but Skadi had taken my sword Laevatein from the top of the pile, and advanced with it in one hand, the snake in the other. Forcing the snake's mouth open with her foot, she stabbed the point of Laevatein into its palate, and jammed the pommel into its lower jaw. Blood and venom ran down the sword, but Skadi held the snake by its neck, and didn't touch the dripping substance. She stood; giantess that she was, she could reach the ceiling of the cave, and she began securing the snake to the roof. Odin handed her the auger Rati, and she drilled holes, and tied the snake to the stalactites. It stretched out, and she was using every available one. And, at that moment, I saw that there was one, hanging, directly above my face.
The voice came from a great distance. It was Sigyn's. I pushed myself awake, my eyelids flickered open, and I looked up at her. "Loki, it's time again."
What? Oh, no. I knew what she was referring to, and my heart plunged. "Can't it wait? Please, just wait a little longer..."
Sigyn shook her head, holding the bowl steady. "I can't. If I wait any longer it'll spill." I grimaced. That had happened before, and it was, if possible, worse than when it didn't. Either way I knew what I was in for, and either way I hated and dreaded it. I looked up at Sigyn, at the hair falling over her shoulders, at the sleeves hanging from her arms, at the bottom of the bowl, the only thing shielding me from— I jerked away from the thought. -Not to be thought about til it happens, Loki.-
I let out my breath, took in another one, and unsuccessfully tried to untense. "Hurry back." -Please.-
Sigyn nodded, and moved away.
The cave as small, and the place I was chained was at the lowest point. In order for the venom not to pool, Sigyn had to leave the cave and pour the venom over the cliff. And I was chained, here.
I clenched my fists and screwed up my eyes. -Please hurry back.-
The snake did not wait. The red of its blood and light clear venom gathered into red-gold drops that looked, for all the world, like Andvari's hoard. I did not open my eyes to watch them fall.
It was worse than pain. It was burning. I was a being of fire, and this was burning in a way I never could, and never would, want to, it was searing through the skin, and into whatever flesh was beneath, and then down into bone from there. My back arched, and I felt my shoulder crack and dislocate, but still I pulled as hard as I could to get away, until the ropes cut into me, and they, too, drew blood, my son's final legacy he'd never be free of...
The first ones landed on my forehead and just stayed there, burning their way through skin and into bone. But, as a fresh well of blood came to the wound in the serpent's mouth, the drops poured down, and my blood added to them, and they began running down my face, across my temples, down into the eye-cavities. I could feel the mixture working its way, like water, beneath the eyelids, and then it didn't matter whether or not my eyelids were shut, because I no longer had eyelids, and no longer had eyes to see with, and the poison slid around the backs of the eyes and entered the head from there, dripping and searing, down through the layers of tissue and running down the back of the throat--
I was screaming, I could hear, and pulling at my bonds, but they were iron, and the earth was shaking with me. When was Sigyn coming back? this was longer, this was forever, and I couldn't wait, this had to stop--
A quick tap of feet, I could now hear it, but couldn't stop screaming, and the next moment the feet were closer. I became aware that there was no more venom dripping, and that what was left destroying the inside of me was residual, and it would run out. I felt Sigyn's cool hand by my face, and eventually my cries deteriorated into hoarse sobs wet by the blood in my throat. I choked on it, and retched, and turned my head again from Sigyn, and coughed the blood from my throat. I felt a drop on undamaged skin and flinched, then realized it was not venom, but salt-hard water; Sigyn's tears.
I have never seen Sigyn cry.
-Sigyn never cries,- I thought. The Aesir thought her weak, but she never cried. The only time I'd seen her do so was when Vali--earlier, at my capture, but that was natural, and other than that--
I was still blind. I rotated my right wrist, found the hem of Sigyn's dress. In a convulsive motion I grabbed at it, and held the fistful of material tightly. I took a breath. "I'm sorry, Sigyn."
There was slack, then a tug, at the material in my hand: Sigyn nodded. The hand left my face momentarily as she wiped her eyes. She took in a breath, then let it out, not trusting her voice. I listened to the silence, and Sigyn's and my breath, and the dripping of venom into the bowl. Three hours for the injuries to heal: the first, as the muscle and tissue reknit and reformed, the second, as the eyes became whole again, third, as the skin repaired itself, scabbing over, the scabs giving way to scars, and the scars diminishing to leave the surface as unblemished as it had been before. Three hours, and then a wait, until the bowl was full again. -Odin's kin are hard to kill,- I thought. -He made sure of that.-
Sigyn's breathing was still ragged. "It's not going to end, Loki. It's going to go on, until--"
"...until Ragnarok," I supplied.
"Until Ragnarok," agreed Sigyn. "The shadow of the gods, the twilight of the gods."
I gave a ragged laugh, then gasped. The laugh, because she sounded like Bragi, and, coming from her, it wasn't exactly outright mocking so much as a joke between those who knew her and what she was laughing about. The gasp, because laughing hurt. I exhaled carefully. "Ragnarok," I rasped. "There aren't many that can say that they're looking forward to the end of the worlds."
"Not the end," Sigyn corrected.
"No? Then what?"
"The second beginning."
I nodded slightly, as much as I could, and unclenched my hand. "The end for us, though."
The second beginning. Someone was optimistic. But she was right; there would be life after the end. It would not remember us, and the worlds today would be a shadowed book, shunted to the corner of Gimle for those who cared enough to read it. But first, there would be Ragnarok, and I would repay the gods one final time. I would get the revenge I'd wished for, as would my sons, as would my daughter, as would all of my kin. The sons of Muspelheim would lay the gods low in the end. And I would lead them.
I lay back in my fetters and waited for the end of the worlds.