- Death-Minor Character
Instead of taking a horse or some other expedient method, Frigga walked down the road to the Bridge. It gave her time to think, which was good and bad.
Odin was still unchanged. Thor was basically on his own on Midgard. Loki… was a sticking point. Depending on what they learned from the Gauntlet, Frigga narrowed her options concerning Loki down to two. One option would only be used if Loki committed treason with nothing but malice. It was her hope that wouldn’t be the case.
Her thoughts centered around Jotunheim for the latter part of her walk. Their fragile truce had broken under Thor’s heavy hand. Was it possible to mend it without fear and bloodshed? She could try. There was only one trump card she could wield. Though it may not be enough to temper Laufey.
“Good evening, Allmother,” Heimdall greeted when she walked into the dome.
Was it really so late? With her mind so busy, she’d forgotten to take in anything else on her walk. “Good evening, Heimdall. Halfin.”
“Allmother,” Halfin greeted.
“Please tell me you have some good news.” Frigga let go of Gungnir. The spear stood proudly beside Frigga. She folded her hands in front of her.
“Most of the realms are at peace. Jotunheim is restless, but they have not engineered a way to travel without the Casket.”
“Are they hunting for other pathways?”
Frigga sighed. “I have something I need both of your perspectives on.”
Heimdall turned from the vastness of space. Halfin and Heimdall moved closer and gave Frigga their attention.
“What troubles you?” Halfin asked.
“I want to offer Laufey another truce and a token of goodwill.”
Heimdall said nothing.
Halfin narrowed her eyes. “What token of goodwill?”
“If they agree to keep the truce from the last thousand years, I wish to use the power of the Casket to rebuild their decaying cities.”
“No,” Halfin said, shaking her head. “You would have to take the Casket to Jotunheim to accomplish such a feat. It isn’t worth the risk.”
“Not necessarily,” Frigga started. “There is another relic that could let me accomplish this from the safety of Asgard.”
“The Tesseract,” Heimdall said.
Frigga nodded. “Precisely.”
Halfin seemed to be thinking it over. Her face was grim when she looked Frigga in the eyes again. “Who would wield the Tesseract?”
“Baldur or Heimdall would be ideal. But Loki is always an option.”
“Volla and Lofin found nothing?”
Frigga shook her head. “They did.”
Halfin frowned. “Why is he an option?”
“He is currently going through the Gauntlet. If he’s open to help, giving him an opportunity to earn back trust could be a great step in the process. Odin disciplined Thor the way he thought was best. I will be doing the same with Loki.”
“Hmm.” Halfin nodded. “And if he can’t be helped?”
“Then Loki will be punished. Either Heimdall or Baldur can wield the Tesseract.”
“That’s only if Laufey agrees to a truce,” Heimdall cut in.
Frigga sighed. “Yes. And I realize that is a whole different beast.”
“I have no protests, but I would strongly suggest that Baldur wields the Tesseract,” Heimdall said. “I feel it prudent to keep a close eye on the realms.”
“I also have no protests at this time, but I must be with you when you speak with Laufey. Even if it’s an illusion, I want Laufey to witness my support and see how he reacts to your offer.”
“Very well,” Frigga agreed. She reached out and grabbed Gungnir again. “I will make the offer tomorrow at a more reasonable time. Thank you for your help and be sure to get some rest.”
Heimdall nodded and turned back to his post. Halfin grinned. “You as well, Allmother.”
Frigga smiled and turned, walking back up the road. As she walked, Frigga made sure she took in her surroundings. Odds are she wouldn’t get any rest tonight. But, if nothing else, she could enjoy the stars in the sky and a gentle breeze on her face as she walked.
– – – –
Being stuck in a room with Odin and the Aesir was not unlike being stuck at another celebration for Thor. The three Aesir drifted through conversation easy. Loki sat back and said very little. If he could get away with it, he’d use an illusion to escape. But he knew Lofin and Baldur would see right through it. He was less certain of the third Aesir. His memories of her from past Odinsleep were vague.
Loki’s mind had nothing to chew on. Conversation was boring, the food was gone, and he didn’t even have a book to keep himself occupied.
Automatically, Loki caught the small box Volla had lobbed in his direction. Luckily. She had aimed right for his head.
“What’s this?” It was a plain wooden box. No carvings or paint. It had a simple gold latch without a lock. Loki could feel waves of magic from whatever was inside the box.
“A gift for you.” Volla smiled. “Go ahead. Open it.”
Feeling a little wary, Loki slowly opened the box. Inside was piece of… crystal? A diamond? He couldn’t tell what it was composed of, but it was clear and shaped like a teardrop. The magic inside the crystal glowed a bright white, but it gave off a cold, dark aura.
“What is it?”
Loki looked up and frowned. “Truth?”
“Yes. Though I must warn you – the truth always has a terrible price. It changes people. Most believe they can withstand raw truth. Ver few can.”
In the back of his mind, Loki registered Lofin’s magic thicken in the air. He looked between the two goddesses, eyes narrowed. “You’re trying to manipulate me into something. It won’t work.”
Volla shook her head. “No, Loki. Manipulation is not my area of expertise.”
“Then what is your expertise?”
Loki’s brows drew together. “Listening to what?”
“Everything. Everything I touch tells me its memories.” Volla closed her eyes. The crystal in the box grew brighter. Whispering voices filled the air.
He was to be sacrificed…
You couldn’t have a Frost Giant sitting on the throne of Asgard…
Tell me! …
Train well, brother! I will see you afterward…
Loki has always been jealous of Thor…
Why am I different, mother? …
That stupid oaf should never be king…
Do the Frost Giants still live?…
How can you say that? …
A blood-curdling scream overpowered the voices. It echoed in the large bedchamber. They sat in fragile silence that came after.
Loki shuddered out a breath he had realized he’d been holding. His white knuckles gained back some color after loosening his grip on the box. The idea of closing the box and never opening again had appeal. Though… he was almost certain that the screaming voice he’d heard was Frigga’s. Loki’s chest tightened and he lifted his hand. As soon as he opened his fingers, the crystal floated out of the box – shooting right to Loki’s palm and disappearing under his skin.
Pain shot up his arm to his head. The box clattered to the floor. Loki bowed forward, clutching his head in his hands.
Then he was falling.
Loki landed on Jotunheim, but it wasn’t the one he’d visited just days ago. It was ravaged by battle. Blood and bodies were everywhere. It was hard to tell how many because it was dark. The brightest thing Loki saw was the helmet on Odin’s head. The King of Asgard had the King of Jotunheim on his back, Gungnir pointed at his throat. Laufey had his hands up in surrender. Both kings breathed heavily.
“Do you yield?” Odin growled.
Laufey glared at Odin. Loki held his breath. Slowly, Laufey laid his head on the ground – giving Odin his throat.
For a second, Loki thought he saw a look in Odin’s one remaining eye. It was a dark look. Dark enough that Loki thought Odin would run his spear through Laufey. But he didn’t. As soon as it passed, Odin was lifting Gungnir away.
Without a word, Odin walked away.
The world dimmed around Loki. Everything outside the light from Odin’s helmet was a haze before becoming completely dark. He wasn’t sure what would happen if he stayed in the dark. It spurred Loki into following the brightness of Odin’s helmet. When Loki finally caught up, Odin was slowing down. Tilting his head with a puzzled expression. Odin changed direction and Loki continued to follow. Finally, Loki heard what Odin had.
Echoes of a baby crying.
Odin walked into what looked like a temple. The Casket of Ancient Winters stood on a pedestal at the far end of the room – it shone as brightly, but not as bright as Odin’s helmet.
Standing before the Casket’s pedestal was an altar. A woman lay akimbo on the altar with a tiny Jotun baby squirming and crying on her stomach. Blood dripped down the altar sides. Odin stopped before the pair. The woman’s eyes were cloudy with death. Loki felt his stomach clench.
This was the woman that bore him.
She may have been beautiful once, but it was hard to tell under the bruising and blood. Lifeless fingers black with frostbite. Her clothes – a lavish and summer dress common among the Vanir – were dirty and torn. The baby cried and fussed, trying to grab the woman’s dirty clothes.
Odin reached out and picked the baby up. He supported the baby’s head and handled him gently. It was hard to think that Loki was looking at himself. Especially when Odin gave the babe in his arms a soft smile. Loki watched the blue-skinned, red-eyed baby transform into a pale-skinned, brown-eyed baby. Well, one eye turned brown. The other eye remained red – mirroring Odin’s bloody socket.
Odin grinned at the baby. The baby giggled and waved his hands in excitement.
Loki was stunned. He watched in shock as Odin held the baby closer to his body – giving out orders to take the Casket. Odin reached out and closed his birth mother’s eyes before leaving the temple. The light from Odin’s helmet faded as he walked away.
Before it crossed Loki’s mind to follow, the coldness of Jotunheim faded to black. The light emanating from Odin’s helmet hovered in the inky air for a moment. Then it grew brighter, drawing closer. When it came close enough, Loki could see that they were no longer on Jotunheim. Odin was walking through the palace of Asgard with baby Loki in his arms. Loki followed.
Soon they entered into the library. Frigga left the stacks of tomes at a run. She slow to a stop in front of Odin. Frigga’s gentle hands reached out – one stroking Odin’s cheek and the other stroking the baby’s head.
“What happened?” Frigga breathed.
“Laufey surrendered.” Odin took a deep breath. “This is his son. He was to be sacrificed to the Casket like his mother.”
Tears sprung to Frigga’s eyes. She enveloped both Odin and the baby in a quick embrace.
Odin turned the baby so Frigga could see him better.
Frigga tickled the baby’s cheeks, laughing when the baby did. “Such a handsome boy.” She took the baby from Odin and took him to a nearby table. “We should take him to the healers. See if he’s alright.” Waving her fingers, Frigga transformed her scarf into a soft blanket. She wrapped the baby in the blanket then picked him up, tucking him snugly in here arms. The baby looked up at Frigga. Smiling, she kissed both the baby’s cheeks.
Loki watched in amazement. Both the baby’s eyes changed to blue – matching Frigga’s eye color perfectly.
Frigga laughed in delight, tapping the baby’s nose. “Oh, sweet boy. I think I’ll name you Loki.” She grinned when the baby clapped and then looked to Odin.
Odin had that soft smile on his face again. “Loki is a wonderful name.”
She smiled. “First to the healers,” Frigga told baby Loki. “Then food and a nap. Later I can take you to meet your brother.”
They walked out of the library. The light from Odin’s helmet faded to nothing. But Loki could still see. He turned, looking for the source. It came from a book laying on a table. Loki walked closer to look. Before Loki could get close enough to touch it, the book lifted and floated in the air. Light emanated from the book, growing brighter. Soon Loki could see fingers holding it up.
They were Frigga’s. And she was holding a book she had gifted Loki in his childhood.
“We must tell him the truth,” Frigga was saying. “He’s old enough now to know he’s different.”
“No,” Odin replied. “I forbid you from telling him of his parentage.”
Slowly, Frigga held the book close to her chest and crossed her arms over it. Her expression was a close to defiance as Loki had ever seen on her. “Is that so?”
Odin sighed. “Frigga. Do you wish to cause him pain?”
“Of course not. It may be painful to tell him now but imagine how painful it will be when he finds out later in life.”
“There is the possibility that he will never know.”
“A very slim possibility.” Frigga gave Odin a look. “You know this. So why do you withhold the truth from him?”
Odin paused, looking down before looking Frigga in the eye again. “Thor has great qualities of a king, but so does Loki. I hoped that they could challenge each other for the better. I do not believe this could happen now if Loki knew the truth. His pain would influence Thor. Not for the better, I’m afraid.”
Frigga uncrossed her arms, lowering the book. “I can see your reasoning, but I must say that I cannot approve. I will do as my King commands. And I await the day you change your mind – for all our sakes.”
Odin nodded before leaving the library.
Frigga left in the other direction. Loki followed her and the light from the book.
When the light stilled, Loki did too. The book laid on a stone bench. A path crossed in front of the bench. Loki could vaguely see his mother’s roses behind the bench.
A young Thor – around 400 years old – burst through the trees, his friends not far behind. Thor ground to a halt when he saw the book.
“Is that Loki’s?” one of Thor’s friends’ asked.
“It is,” Thor confirmed. “Why did he leave it out here?” He looked around, frowning.
“Perhaps he hid when he heard us coming, Perhaps not. Come, Thor! We have an army to defeat!”
Thor picked up the book when Fandral clapped Thor on the back. “I will join you shortly. First, I must return this to my brother.”
“Have it your way.”
“We’ll meet up with you at the training ground.”
Thor’s friends ran off in one direction. Thor stayed behind with the book. His brother looked around, then opened the book.
Loki frowned. Mother had given that book to Loki when he was first learning magic. Thor never had an interest in such things. It was odd to see him flipping through the pages.
Both Loki and Thor started at the sound of Frigga’s voice. Thor snapped the book shut, hiding it behind his back.
Frigga gave a Thor a sly smile. “What brings you to my garden?”
“Oh, you know. Enjoying the… flowers.” Thor grinned, shrugging.
“You’ve always been a terrible liar,” Frigga said with a hint of amusement, holding out her hand.
Thor huffed and gave her the book.
“Hmm, you brother would not be happy that you took his things.”
“I didn’t take it!” Thor pouted. “It was here on the bench. I was… merely returning it.”
Frigga studied Thor. She sat down, leaving the book in her lap. “What’s troubling you, son?”
Thor fidgeted and kicked the stone pathway with his boot. “Why do I not have magic, mother?”
“Oh, Thor. Every person is different. Loki and I can use magic, but your affinity lies with the power of lightning and thunder. That is a very special power.”
Thor shrugged, shaking his head. “Only if you wish me to water the roses.”
“You’re still young. Your power grows with you.” Frigga leaned forward and took Thor’s hands. “But this isn’t about power, is it?”
Thor shrugged again.
“Are you jealous of Loki?”
“No!” Thor protested hotly.
Frigga raised an eyebrow.
“Maybe.” Thor kept his eyes on his hands in Frigga’s. “You both look like you have so much fun during his lessons. I wish…” Thor trailed off, shaking his head.
“Hmm. Did you know that Loki asked me something similar?”
Thor looked up, frowning. “He did?”
“Yes. He asked ‘why am I different, mother?’ in one of his lessons. Though, in his mind, his magic was a bad thing – something that made him different from you and your father.”
“There is nothing in the realms that could make me love my sons less. Not even each other. I hold you and Loki in the deepest parts of my heart. I hope you remember that, but I would delight in reminding you of it again.”
Thor released Frigga’s hands so he could wrap his arms around her neck. “I love you, too, mother.”
Frigga kissed Thor’s cheek and they separated. “Go on. Have fun with your friends. I’ll return this to Loki.”
Thor grinned and took off at a run.
|Left to right: Richard Armitage, Constance Wu, Jennifer Hudson, Aishwarya Rai, Charlize Theron|