*Unforgiving Fate*

The light of a full moon peered through clear windows of the heavenly palace within the world at the top of the godlike trees branches. Waterfalls cascaded down the steep cliffs at the foot of the mountain, and a wall carved out of heavy stone circled the divine palace of the gods yet still left unfinished. The spectacular sights where unrivaled by any other world, for no judging mortal man has ever laid eyes on the glory of Asgard.

The marvelous view did well to hide the chaos, and panic that dwelled within the white walls. News of the misfortunes that had befallen the World Tree came on swift wings to the palace of the gods, and already signs of the ill tree began to show. The Apples of Immortality in the center of the garden of deities; once it flourished with large, ripe, golden fruit that granted the people of Asgard immortality, now withered, its beloved fruit dried an ugly green and filled with the ends of worms.

The lone figure that stood at the large balcony gazed down at the scene below him. He was tall and seemingly built for war; his hair a stained gray with a neatly trimmed beard, and his voice rumbled like a majestic lion; Strength was in his hands, and on his brow sat a fearlessness that was left unmatched; His clear eyes shown the wisdom of countless ages.

Anguish filled those eyes as he looked on at the withering tree at the center if the garden. Odin sighed with anxiety, a small pleading voice once again echoed within his mind like the whisper of a songbird in the far off meadow. The celestial tree's desperate cry for help pleaded and cried its despair, but it was not the All-Father's help the tree wanted. Odin had known what must be done to answer the tree, yet he feared the consequence that such an act could (and most likely would) bring.

A soft knock tapped at his door, and Odin turned too encouraged the guards to come in. They swiftly opened the large double doors, and ushered their prisoner inside the large room. The captive slowly sank to his knees before the All-Father, still too weak to stand after his endless torture.

Odin gazed at the criminal on the floor. Lean, and incredibly tall, a handsome face glared heatedly back at the god through short raven hair. The pale skin seemed luminescent, no doubt partly because of his abuse. The King of Gods also knew that if this wounded captive where to speak, it would be smooth like honey, young and sweet, able to charm even the most fearsome of creatures to do his bidding or to tell a lie so innocently even the highest heavenly beings would believe him.

However, it was the eyes that stared back at the All-Father that held him; mysterious and alien, the strangeness of the mismatched blue and hazel eyes told Odin of the hidden power that rippled through the weak convict's body, and that this prisoner was all too aware of it.

For Loki was one of the most powerful, and dangerous sorcerer's in all nine realms, a fact that the Lie-Smith flaunted openly. But for all the lies and tricks Loki played, it did not save him in the end. Thinking back on what brought Loki before him in such a state sent a ripple of anger through the All-Father. The death of Balder was a heavy blow to Odin's heart, and knowing that it was Loki that caused it only made the betrayal hurt all the worse.

Odin could not stand the sight of his beloved son's broken body in the arms of his mother, and retaliated against the one that was to blame. Finally having had enough of Loki's cruel tricks, in his blind rage, he punished Loki in the cruelest fashion he could think of for the death of his youngest son.

The All-Father called for Loki, his wife Sigyn, and their only twin sons Vali and Nari. Odin ordered Loki to kneel before him and face his judgment that was to be split into two parts. The first part was for all the pain and heartbreak Loki had caused, Odin transformed Loki's son Vali into a wolf, and that wolf bared his fangs while turning on his brother. Nari was unable to fend off the wolf that was once his brother, and in what seemed like a never-ending battle, the wolf soon took the life of his only sibling.

The wolf that had un-wittedly killed his twin was in turn killed as well.

Loki howled his rage as Sigyn wept bitterly beside him. But, Odin was not finished with Loki's punishment; taking the dead bodies of both Nari and Vali, Odin turned the twins once more into heavy iron chains and bound the Lie-Smith to a stone as a serpent hovered above his head; dripping unforgiving venom on Loki's face and chest.

Sigyn, weary with grief, chose to stand beside her husband and ease his suffering in any way she could. The goddess could not bear the thought of having the only remaining one she loved torn away from her, she held the bowl as tenderly as she could to catch the deadly drops from the snake. But the bowl was small in size, and she would have to leave Loki to empty it, and while she did the venom would burn into Loki's face and chest destroying all it touched and he screamed in agony, only to fully heal while the merciful bowl was placed over him, until she had to empty it again.

This cycle has continued for many years, and Odin had hoped that he would never again set eyes on the trickster until the coming of Ragnarok. But that hope was crushed when a small pleading voice called to him in his dreams, asking for the aid of Loki.

Why the tree asked for Loki's help he did not know, and he was not going to pretend that he did. Now, looking at the Sky-Walker kneeling before him with wounds and injures far deeper than the flesh, tugged at his heart. Feelings of guilt were foreign to the All-Father and he pushed it back with a growl while turning his attention back to look at the trickster.

"Do you know why you are here, Loki?" Odin said emotionlessly. Loki remained frozen from his place on the cold marble floor, glaring at the man above him. His breathing heavy and labored, the trickster refused to answer; but when he finally did, gone was his smooth voice and cunning words, and instead the shapeshifter's voice was harsh and rough from his endless screams of torment.

"Do not belittle me, All-Father, I cannot read your cruel thoughts; nor do I have any wish too," Loki sneered as his eyes filled with hate, and a dark bitter promise. Odin sighed with frustration his tender patience quickly weaning after so few words. Loki knew how to test him, and with the tricksters past deeds it made Odin wish to deal with him all the less.

Loki, sensing his small achievement grinned wickedly. Getting under Odin's skin was all he could do now with his hands tied and his body weak. Odin once more looked Loki in the eyes; he knew the younger one was playing with him.

But, he had to know if Loki to has heard the silent pleas for mercy.

"Do not test me Loki; I have no patience for you. Now, tell me, do you know why you are here?"

Loki growled. He was tiered and weak; perhaps Odin would let him sleep if he answered.

"The Tree," was all that was said in a whisper. Odin looked hard into Loki's face, trying to see if the Silver-Tongue was indeed lying. The shapesifter on the floor looked pale and weary, a very uncharacteristic feature on an otherwise proud face.

Loki was not lying.

"Then you know of what has conspired?" The ruler questioned. Loki now looked impatient and gave Odin a tired glare.

"Aye," Came the simple answer.

The All-Father's hesitation was clearly on his face, but soon he nodded towards his guards and they slowly released the heavy shackles. They slid off the trickster's shoulders and arms; falling with an echoing clang.

Loki flinched as the chains hit the floor and shivered, but otherwise said nothing. He grit his teeth as the guards roughly pulled him to his feet, he shoved off their offending grip and growled.

"Then you know what must be done. You will leave at sunrise, and do what you must." Odin waved his hand and the guards renewed their strong grip on the trickster, dragged him away before he could protest.

The guards pulled him harshly through the halls; carless of the countless wounds Loki was struggling to heal. They pulled and pushed; uttering cruel, sharp words as they moved him through the quiet palace. They at last came to a door decorated in silver and carved with vines. It was like an entrance to a member of the royal house, but it was dull with time, and scared with cracks. The soldiers pulled the door open and threw their captive inside. Loki stumbled and if it weren't for the arms that wrapped him in a warm embrace, he would have hit the cold floor.

"Odin is a man of little patience, is he not, love." A smooth voice spoke to him and he relaxed into the arms, returning the embrace. He sighed while straining and looked into the eyes of his beloved wife. Her hair was the color of sun dried grass and her eyes the blue of a cold winter stream, her voice, like the whisper of a gentle spring breeze.

"He has never changed, and he never will." Loki said with bitterness. He stared at Sigyn. A hint of worry flashed in his eyes. With the death of their sons and the torture of her husband, she looked to be on the verge of collapse, her skin pale and her eyes clouded with grief.

He felt as if h_e should apologize to her. Though, he didn't know what for or why. Loki shook his head to clear his unruly thoughts. His mind wandered to what all has happened and he could only frown and curse Odin; the all mighty god would not understand why Balder had died in the first place, and Loki was not about to explain it either.

"You are leaving." Sigyn said as she pulled him from his dark thoughts. He looked at her and frowned.

"What makes you say this?"

"The Tree, Loki. Are you not going to aid the Tree?" she asked hesitantly. She knew Loki's personality, and it worried her that he was going to just ignore the cries for help and look the other way.

"Why should I help the Tree at Odin's request?" Loki snarled in replay, his hatred of the All-Father clearly on his face.

"It was not the All-Father that requested your help, Loki. It was the tree," She placed her hand on his face and smoothed his brow. He frowned harder, obviously thinking of the Tree's silent pleas. Loki has told no one of what the tree had said. But, for Loki to hesitate in his decision of revenge against Odin (which he was also clearly thinking of) and the decision to aid the Tree it must have sparked something with in the cold heart of the trickster.

"So be it. I will aid Yggdrasil." Loki spoke softly, stepping away from her; he looked out the open window and up to the stars above. Even they seemed to have dimmed in the darkness that surrounded them.

However Loki still seemed uncertain.