So, I was set a drabble challange by Ceema to write a Sif/Loki story where Sif meets a dragon who looks and acts like Loki. I'm not very good at sticking to drabble length, so here's the first chapter in what will probably end up being a longish story. It's more like a prolouge than a chapter, but I hope you enjoy reading it and more is definitely on its way!
There was a strange chill in the air, which Loki did not like in the least. It stank of foul magic and left his skin crawling. How the great oafs of his brother and the idiots three managed to sleep in this foul forest, Loki had no idea. But then they had always scoffed at the power of magic, even when it defeated them time and time again, and had not bothered to train in the perception of evil magic and the danger it could unleash. Their great snoring was testament to this and even if Loki’s senses were not on high alert in this foreboding forest, he still would have found little rest thanks to them.
The sudden movement on the far side of the camp caught his eye and he saw Sif crawl out of her sleeping bag gingerly, quietly, afraid to wake anyone, though why she bothered Loki did not know, for it would take a thousand trolls crashing into their camp to wake the sleeping fools. She glanced around once she had stood and Loki quickly stilled his movements, closing his eyes and measuring his breath. He felt her eyes on him for a moment too long and Loki worried she could hear his suddenly pounding heart in the still of the night. She must have seemed satisfied all were asleep, for Loki felt her gaze draw back and heard her gentle footsteps start in the direction of the thick trees.
A breath he had not realised he held spilled from his lips as he heard her footsteps fade away and once more only the tuneless music of the idiots asleep filled the clearing. Even though he knew it was futile until Sif returned safely, he was about to close his eyes and try again to sleep, when he felt a strange trembling, a twisting in the magic all around him. The sickening, malevolent feel of it seemed to distort, to coalesce and condense and, with his heart suddenly pounding once more, he realised it travelled in the direction Sif had taken.
He bolted upright, too alarmed for a moment to care if he drew attention to himself. Whatever was wielding the magic had its eye on Sif and Loki looked towards the tall trees in alarm. He could not see far within the thick, dense forest, but there was an odd distortion in the blackness all around, a strange shadow that pulled and twisted in the dark, at odds with the still, quiet of the darkness cast by nightfall. It took him about two heartbeats to think and he was on his feet in one. Muttering a quick spell to enclose himself in shadow, and another to create a bright green flame in his palm only he could see, he followed the stinking, evil blackness ahead, which seemed to suck the very life and energy out of the air as it moved deeper within the trees. Loki could sense the magic of the darkness twisting and turning maliciously, cruelly and he did his best to remain at a distance, his hands clutching at his sides to help resist the urge to barge ahead, to shout out and warn Sif of the imminent danger she was in. Instead, he stayed silent, pulling his own shadows around him to hide as he followed the darkness, knowing it would lead him to Sif.
Sif felt herself stumble as she clambered through the thick undergrowth of leaves, twisted roots and fallen branches, heading in what she hoped was the direction of the camp. She had only planned on stepping a short distance into the forest, just far enough to take care of business without risk of being seen. She had been careful to keep the distant light of the dying fire within sight, to guide her back to camp. Yet when she had turned around, all she could see was darkness, a thick, dense darkness that even the moonlight was unable to penetrate. Sif had never been one for superstitions and speculation, never one to let small fears and forebodings hamper her confidence. But there was something in the air tonight, something that made her skin crawl, and something that had been growing progressively worse since she had first begun her short trip into the woods. She quickened her pace, anxious to return to camp.
A hidden tree root caught her off guard and Sif felt herself thrown forwards. In her surprise and the almost complete blackness, she was unable to regain her balance or prepare for the fall, and she hit the ground hard. Her arms took most of the impact as they collided with the firm earth buried beneath the leaves and her leg banged into another twisted root. It was a few moments before Sif’s awareness caught up with her and she was just about to push herself upwards on painful arms, when she heard a very familiar voice above her.
“My Lady Sif. I hope you are not hurt.”
Sif glared up at Loki’s concerned face; she was not fooled and she felt a combination of annoyance and embarrassment wash over her. Trust it to be the trickster around when she fell. “I am quite alright, Loki,” Sif retorted, her wounded pride leaking into her voice as she looked down again, away from the feigned sympathy in the trickster’s eyes.
A hand appeared before her vision and Sif glared at it a moment, before she swallowed her pride and took it, allowing Loki to pull her to her feet. It was only when she was standing, facing Loki, that she had the first inkling that something was not quite right. Despite the blackness around them, Sif could see him perfectly, though he held no light. She wondered for a moment what new magic this was, but then the smirk on his face pulled her attention and she glared at him further. He still held her hand and she quickly pulled it away, ignoring the warmth of his fingertips.
Thankfully, he made no comment about her fall and instead cocked his head to one side, considering her. His scrutinising gaze was unnerving and she fought hard to resist the urge to fidget. There was something odd about his gaze, the confident lilt in his expression as he watched her and the arrogant turn of his posture. It was the Loki she saw at court, when he was mocking the sheep who would fawn at his father’s thrown, or planning his latest trick to create calamity within the palace halls. It was many a century now that Loki had learnt better than to toy with her like this, many a broken jaw and a bruised rib, so what on earth was he playing at now?
She felt her hands start to clench in her effort to remain still and she quickly turned on her heel before he could notice and began walking away from him. She was in no mood to engage in whatever game Loki had planned.
“Am I not to be thanked for my assistance, my Lady?” Loki called after her, his words mocking but his tone held something else, something Sif could not quite put her finger on. Something that made the blood within her veins start to simmer, her heartbeat to quicken and every muscle within her body tensed, poised to run.
“Thank you, my Prince,” she called mockingly back, ignoring the effect of his words and refusing to turn to look at him. She needed to concentrate on the twisted roots beneath her and did not want to see the smirk that she knew would be pulling at his lips.
As she stepped further away from him, the light fell quickly, until the blackness was all consuming again and she had to carefully feel the way with her feet. She could feel Loki’s gaze following her, watching her, and she did her best to ignore the way it made her heart pound and her skin prickle. There was something strange in the air now, some unnatural magic she could not identify and it was creeping along her skin, making her battle senses rage and putting her teeth on edge.
She had longed since learnt to identify Loki’s magic, long since recognised the sound, the shape, the sight, the feel of it when it rose in the air around him. It took on many different forms, sometimes comforting or protective, sometimes teasing or playful, sometimes frightening or dangerous, but it was always distinctly Loki’s. Always it would seep into her skin and pulse like music, a perfect harmony within her very soul. This was different, unfamiliar, unnerving and Sif had to fight hard to push her apprehensions away.
She had not gone too many steps when she heard Loki call after her, his voice filled with an unsettling merriment and mischief. “You are going the wrong way, my Lady.”
Sif stilled, but that was all the acknowledgement she would give to Loki’s words. They grated on her patience, mixed with the suspicions and anxieties plaguing her thoughts, the tension filling her body. Already she was sick and tired of Loki’s games and she was determined to not give him any more satisfaction.
When she did turn around to face him, after a few moments of stubbornness and pride, she was taken aback to find him leaning confidently against a tree, his arms folded arrogantly and his smirk dancing with a mischief that was reflected in his eyes. His cocky disposition annoyed Sif further, especially as she knew full well it was at her expense, and without a word she marched towards him, about to brush past and head towards the camp. Just as she reached his side though, he suddenly shot out his hand and grabbed hold of her arm. His grip was strong, but surprisingly gentle, and she stopped instantly in her tracks. She could feel the coolness of his fingertips through her sleeves and she felt a shiver run through her.
“Where are you going in such a hurry, my Lady?” Loki asked. His voice was deep, heavy, tempting, and Sif felt another shiver run through her. She refused to meet his gaze though, staring resolutely ahead, more in fear of what he may see in her eyes than anything else. The air was growing heavy around them, intense, charged, reminding Sif of the stillness in the air before a thunderstorm struck. Her heart was not helping either, it was racing now and her skin was burning where his cool fingertips lay.
She tried to laugh, to relieve some of the tension. “I am going back to camp, Loki. It is freezing cold out here.”
Sif tired to move again, but his grip tightened on her arm and though his words were teasing, his voice was heavy when he replied, “There are many things one can do to keep warm, my Lady.”
Her senses were screaming at her now, her mind telling her to run, warning of danger. It was in the very air around them, in the heat of Loki’s body so close and in the intensity of his gaze upon her. It took all her effort to remain still, to stand strong and force herself to turn towards him, to meet the challenge she knew she would see in his eyes. When she caught his gaze though, she felt her breath catch in her throat. There was no challenge in them, instead they were dark, intense, hungry and Sif suddenly felt very small, vulnerable, like the prey caught in the predators glare. There could be no doubt of his intentions and she felt herself shiver, half in anticipation and half in fear. Her voice was sticking in her throat, but she managed to choke out a few words, tried to lace it with pride and dignity, “What do you want from me, Loki?”
Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed it and more chapters are definitely on their way soon!
The dense blackness had gone. Loki had lost its trace when a hidden branch had caught his foot and he had been thrown forwards. The first thought that came to him as he righted himself was that it was too late. The evil magic had found Sif and she had been taken, or killed. Loki did not know which was worst. So blind was his panic and pain at the thought, it was a few moments before reason returned. No, if the foul creature had hurt Sif, or even taken her, the traces of the magic would still remain. This sudden disappearance was more nefarious than that. It was a deliberate concealment, which meant it was gaining on its prey.
Loki quickly whispered a few words in an ancient tongue and pushed the magic as far as he dare risk it. Nothing. He could increase the power, cast it out across the whole forest, but then whatever the creature was, and many creatures beside, would be alerted to his presence. That could put Sif in even more danger. Instead, he moved hastily forwards, pushing through the thick trees and trying to find his bearings in the same, dense blackness. His own green light unable to penetrate deeply into the night.
It was only when he tripped once more on a hidden branch that the thought occurred to him. As he pushed himself up from the sodden, dirty leaves, he noticed the impression of another. Loki stood up quickly, glanced around, but he could not be sure. The trees all looked so similar in the inky blackness. He placed his hand on the nearest tree trunk and whispered a few words in an ancient tongue. A green handprint glowed momentarily, before it was engulfed by the blackness. Loki smiled grimly; no one but he would be able to sense his mark, and it would fade by daybreak.
Continuing on, Loki did his best to stay straight, heading deeper into the forest, searching for the source of the magic and any recent, tell tale signs that another had passed this way. When he reached the hidden branch a third time, his careful footsteps halting a third fall, Loki immediately reached towards the nearest tree. When the same, ancient words brought forward a green light, swirling around and taking the form of a handprint, Loki cursed. He was going around in circles and it was no accident. There was a far more powerful force at work here than just the blackness of the night and the similarity of the trees. He was being deliberately disorientated, waylaid. And he had not even been able to sense this powerful spell, spread out across the forest and designed to confuse any unwelcome footsteps. This creature was even more powerful than Loki had ever imagined. Not only would it be next to impossible to find Sif, but she was in grave danger. He could not delay any longer; he had to find her before this evil, powerful creature did.
Loki took a deep, steadying breath and reached out his arms wide. The words of the powerful spell that would cast his magical eye across the whole forest had just begun to slip off his tongue when he heard it. Voices. They were faint, but one was as distinct to him as his own breathing and it momentarily stopped his heart. He hastily closed his lips, cutting off the remaining spell before it could wrought any damage. Quickly, Loki headed in the direction of the voices, eager to find her.
He suddenly stopped in his tracks. Voices… There were two voices, one distinctly Sif’s, the other muffled, but sounding deeper, male. That could mean only one thing. Sif was talking to this person, Sif knew this person.
As the full implication took weight, Loki felt as if Sif had plunged her sword deep into his heart and twisted it down into his gut and up into his lungs. He couldn’t breathe for many moments and pain blinded his thoughts. She was not out in these woods to take a breath of air or to see to any business. She was here to meet him, whoever he might be. Thor? Fandral? Maybe even Hogun? Loki did not know and he could have sworn he had heard his oath of a brother and the fools three still snoring away when he had left. But then, he had not looked too closely at their sleeping forms, one could have slipped past him or maybe even followed on behind for this pre-arranged meeting. For that it must have been for them to find each other. And there could be only one reason for them to meet in the dark woods, at night, and away from the safety of the camp…
Loki took a few steps forward, then stopped, turned around, walked a few more back, then stopped again. His fingers were continually clenching into fists as the pain turned into anger, snaking through him like venom. The green light he had wielded for vision was blazing around him, roaring up into the thick canopy as if the very forest was on fire with his anger and pain. Part of him wanted to know, had to know, who Sif was meeting. Yet he did not know if he would be able to face it, seeing them, together. Especially if it was him; his fool of a brother Thor. Loki knew full well all of Asgard had been planning the wedding of the Crown Prince and the Lady Warrior for centuries, even if no agreement had ever been in place between them. At least, Loki thought, none he was aware of. Well, if they chose to keep it a secret, so be it, what did he care anyway! He forced his rage and magic under control and started walking back towards camp, his angry footsteps muffled by the thick leaves on the forest floor.
Loki had just reached the marked tree and was about to step over the branch when he stopped, suddenly remembering. No. He could not leave them. No matter what they were doing out here, they were still in danger. The powerful magician was still stalking them and neither possessed enough magic to protect themselves. He could not leave Sif and him out here, alone and with no idea of what was approaching. Loki would just have to face his own demons and besides, Loki thought, had he not always known it would come to this, one day?
He swallowed hard, gritted his teeth and turned around once more. His palms were pulsing now with magic, crackling all around him as he forced all his senses onto full alert. This new task, this focus of finding them, was helping to drive out the pain that still seemed lodged in his heart.
He could only hope he reached them in time.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed it. Sorry for the delay - more is defiinitely on its way soon!
Loki’s smirk widened as he considered her, taking his time to answer her question. It was a smirk which would usually pull forth a glare from Sif, or a sharp fist to the stomach. But not this time. Not when Loki’s eyes burned into her, the intensity within holding her completely still, unable to even breathe. Not when his eyes were filled with a desire she had rarely even let herself dream she would see reflected in them one day as he looked upon her.
He leaned closer to her as he spoke, almost whispering against her ear. “I want to show you something, Sif.” His voice was so soft, so tantalisingly soft and warm that Sif felt herself lean ever so slightly closer to him. She felt her head tilt upwards, seeking, pulled by the desire in his voice and the warmth of his breath on her neck. She wondered what would happen if she leant that bit closer, tilted her head that bit higher…
When Loki then pulled gently on her arm, stepping forwards, Sif felt herself automatically move with him, turning around towards him, pulled like the waves on the beach at the mercy of the tide. He grinned back at her, a delicious combination of a triumphant smirk and seductive smile. His hand slipped from the firm grip on her arm, tracing along her wrist to entwine with her fingers as he turned around and started to gently pull her with him, heading deeper into the forest.
It was only after they had walked for several minutes that Sif felt her earlier anxieties start to creep back in. The forest was unsettling her again, the air seemed to almost part around them, the unnatural disconnected light following and the strange, unfamiliar magic allowing them passage. It slipped over her skin and started to percolate into her veins. It played on her nerves and felt out of tune, discordant somehow, not beautiful and harmonious like Loki’s magic usually felt as it seeped into her soul. Yet as she tried to chase the feeling, tried to grasp hold of what was peculiar about the situation, her thoughts would dance away from her, like she was trying to catch hold of a dream. Her mind did not quite feel like her own, as if the deep magic within the forest was somehow distorting her thoughts and clouding her reason. And that was never a good thing when she was around the second son of Odin.
“Where are we going?” Sif asked, annoyed at the way her voice cracked, the nervous fear creeping in. The sense of danger was still hanging in the air, stirring her battle instincts once again, telling her to run, to flee and not fight this unknown foe.
“It would not be a surprise if I told you, would it now, Sif?” Loki turned around and smirked at her, his voice sounding slightly exasperated.
It was the wrong move, for it broke through some of the haze that seemed to have weakened Sif’s mind and instincts and she suddenly stopped. They should not be going this way; they should head back to camp, back to safety. Even with Loki, Sif did not think it was a good idea they continue, wherever it was he was taking her. She considered asking him about it, for surely Loki, as gifted as he was in the art of sorcery, would understand what it was. But something made her hold her tongue, a deep seated survival instinct she could not identify. And she did not understand what was going on, what Loki was up to anyway. That in itself was not unusual, for she did walk with the God of Mischief and Lies and she was used to him playing tricks and games. But it was never like this, never so unnerving and intimidating. This was not like Loki, dragging her into such an ominous forest in the middle of the night. Never had their relationship ever strayed this far off the path. Usually he avoided her as much as she avoided him, and Sif was glad of it, glad of the distance usually between them, the icy glares and the frosty words. It made it easier to hide, to forget and pretend that her feelings for Loki were innocent, that she cared little for the second Prince of Asgard. She was always so careful, always made sure no one, not even the second prince himself, suspected she cared for him. Sif tried to think then, to remember what had happened between them recently, if anything in her actions had given her away, but she could think of nothing. And until this moment, Loki had never shown the slightest inclination towards her, nothing save for resentment, hostility, and occasionally the past memories of a shared childhood. So where in all of the nine realms was he taking her in the middle of the night?
Loki pulled on her hand, but she remained still. He turned towards her fully as he continued, “You are not afraid, are you, mighty shield maiden?”
The teasing accusation was met with a scowl and she snapped, her nerves fraying together with her slighted pride, “No, of course I am not afraid.”
When Loki’s smirk twisted higher across his face, Sif clenched her fists, but she forced her voice to remain calm as she continued, “But I am impatient to return to camp and seek rest, you know we have a long journey to continue tomorrow.”
“But it is not far now, Sif. Come with me,” Loki urged, pulling again on her hand. His eyes were challenging her again, taunting her to continue following him into this strange, dark, magical forest.
Sif took two steps towards him, before she forced herself to stop again, trying to fight the strange haze that was still pushing at her mind. “You can show me in the morning, Loki.” She looked meaningfully down at his hand in hers and when Loki let go, Sif quickly pulled her arm back, tucking it safely behind her back and ignoring the heat that was still lingering from where he had touched her.
“We will not have time in the morning,” Loki answered, stepping towards her.
Instinctively, Sif took a step back, seeking a little safe distance from the trickster. She cursed her reaction immediately, cursed her weakness and inability to remain steadfast. It almost felt like an admission, an affirmation of her own wants and desires. So when Loki took another step towards her, Sif did not step back this time. She kept her feet firmly in place, clenching her fists and fighting every instinct within her to run.
Sif knew she should just turn around, head back towards the safety of the camp and get away from whatever game Loki was playing and these hideous woods. But then Loki took another step forwards and his gaze started boring into her again, burning her. It was heavy, intense, determined and it held her in place, caught her in his trap. The strange magic vibrating on the air was starting to thrum through her veins again, pushing into her mind and becoming a weight on her muscles, preventing her from moving, thinking, fleeing.
She had waited, wanted, longed for this for so long and the temptation was becoming too overpowering. She had been so careful and tried so hard to resist for so many years, her defences were now all but exhausted. She never thought it would happen, never dreamed Loki may return her affections, even for a moment. Yet, there was no mistaking the look in Loki’s eyes now, the way they burned into her and made her entire being shiver with heat. He took the final step towards her and seemed to tower over her, his deep emerald eyes dancing with a magic she had never seen within their depths before. It was pulling her forwards, bringing her face, her body closer to his.
“I am not playing any of your games, Loki.” Her voice cracked, her futile words a final act of defiance against the inevitable.
“Who said this was a game, my Lady Sif?” Loki whispered in her ear. Yet even as Loki gently reached out and traced her cheek bone, even as his eyes fell to her lips and he tilted her head towards his, she knew it must be. Something was still not quite right, the danger was still there, emanating from him and from the thick forest air all around them. But it was dulled now, a faint ringing in her mind, a weak stirring in her battle trained survival instincts. It was overpowered by the heat simmering in her blood and by the pounding of her heart. And as she felt his breath tickle her lips, Sif decided she did not care anyway. Whatever the consequences would be come the morrow, whatever price she would have to pay, it would be worth it, for just one kiss...
And so, when his lips finally met hers in a gentle kiss, Sif simply wrapped her arms around him, pulled him closer and tentatively kissed him back.
I hope you enjoyed this chapter, more are definitely on their way soon.
The voices were not easy for Loki to follow. They ebbed and flowed, twisted and distorted by the powerful magic that strummed through the air and aimed to cause confusion and disorientation to any unwelcome travellers. One minute they sounded close enough to touch, the next as if they came from a distant dream, another world entirely. The trees seemed to echo back the voices, the leaves whispering the words, taunting Loki, tricking him. Countless times he stopped as the voices suddenly changed direction, altering his course and retracing his footsteps. He carefully marked his way with magic and he cursed whenever he stumbled upon another of his markings again, Still, he had to reach them, and soon. Sif’s life was in danger and perhaps that of his brother.
So Loki pushed forwards, deeper into the forest, forcing the thick branches and leaves away as he strayed further and further off the path. He did not question why they had strayed so far themselves, for if the magic was strong enough to counter and confuse even Loki, Sif and her friend would have no chance of resisting the pull. As he crashed through the forest, quickening his pace, it was only through the strength of his magic that he remained concealed. He could not risk alerting this strange sorcerer to his presence. Even Loki could admit this magic was stronger than his own and surprise could well be his only hope of saving Sif and whoever it was she had come here to meet. So he held his magic carefully in his hand, allowing it to build in intensity, ready to either defend or fight this unknown foe.
Suddenly the voices stopped. Loki froze in place. His worst fears suddenly overtook him; all was lost, the sorcerer had taken them, killed them… His fears fed his own magic and it escaped his grasp, started crackling in the air all around him, casting the surrounding forest in an emerald green light. He started running now, heading in what he hoped was the right direction. The tree roots and thick branches tried to block his way and trip his feet, but still Loki ploughed onwards. He had to reach them. Soon.
The voices started again as suddenly as they had stopped. They were louder this time and Loki once again heard Sif’s unmistakeable voice, though he could still not identify the second. They sounded calm, unafraid and Loki realised they were close by and safe, for now. He slowed his pace again, anxious now that not only did the sorcerer not hear him, but also Sif and whoever she was with. He would only make his presence known to them if it was necessary, see if he could fight this unknown foe without their knowledge. He moved forwards a little more, slipped around the thick trunk of a tree, stepped carefully over a fallen branch and pushed a dense leafy branch aside. Suddenly he saw her, standing a short distance away in a small clearing. Loki’s heart jumped into his throat, the relief flooding through him so powerful the very ground beneath his feet seemed to vibrate with it.
She was safe, unhurt, talking, though he could not understand her words. As his eyes peered further into the darkness, he started to make out the shape of the figure standing facing her. The dimness of the forest seemed to shroud the figure in shadows and Loki could not place him. His face was turned away from Loki, but something about him seemed unnervingly familiar. He did not seem to have the bulk of his brother though, or the right height for Fandral and the hair remained seeped in darkness.
Reining in his jealousy as best he could, Loki stepped sideways slowly, cautiously, circling them so he could look upon the face of the unknown figure. He used the trees to hide himself and wrapped his concealing magic tighter around him. He could not risk exposure, not now. Instead he would wait, keep guard for when this evil presence showed itself, for surely it would, now its prey was caught so tightly in the web of this dark, inescapable forest.
A sharp pain sped through his hands as the figure moved closer to Sif and Loki realised he was clenching his fists so tightly, the nails were nearly piercing his skin. He did not release his grip though, for the pain helped ground him, helped prevent him from losing his control. It was already at breaking point, his magic hissing and scorching the air around him. He felt it pulse through his veins, growing stronger, building in intensity, seeking a way out. It almost burst from him as Loki watched the figure reach for Sif, saw her arms wrap around his neck, her head bend upwards. It was only the agonising pain that swept through him as Sif reached up and kissed the figure that helped Loki rein in his power.
Even though Loki had expected to witness this, to actually see it with his own eyes, to actually witness Sif, kissing another, a kiss growing quickly in passion, shattered Loki’s heart to pieces. He never would have thought it possible, that he, the great Loki, son of Odin, could be reduced to this, this pitiful excuse for an Æsir, rendered so helpless by mere jealousy and affection. But it was happening; even the great God of Lies could not deny the way his heart broke as he watched the lovers entwining in a secret kiss.
It was this thought that made Loki want to turn around, to leave this horrible, sickening forest and never know who the figure was. He was not sure he could face it and maybe, somehow, it might make the pain easier to bear, that not having to look the figure in the eyes in the future would make the memory fade. But he could not stop staring at Sif kissing the figure, her arms wrapping tighter around him as the kiss deepened. He could not stop himself from stepping closer, from circling around another tree, from needing to know who the mysterious man was who had captured the great shield maiden’s heart. He took a deep, steadying breath, swallowed nervously. He forced his magic back under control and took the last step around the final tree blocking his view. And froze in astonishment.
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed it. Sorry for a bit of a cliff hanger, but what can I say, I need to make sure you all come back and read more! ;-)
Anyway, more is definitely on it's way soon and I'd love to know what you think. Thanks for taking the time to read my story.
It took Loki several moments to even focus on what his eyes were seeing, to actually believe they were not playing tricks. For Sif was kissing him, Loki. But that was impossible. She could not be kissing him. He was here, not tangled in Sif’s arms. And why would Sif be kissing him anyway?
Yet from this angle, it was becoming impossible to deny what his eyes revealed to him. It was the same face he saw when he looked in the mirror, the same hair he spent far too long trying to enchant into straight locks, the same long fingers, now twisting in Sif’s thick, dark hair that he used to wield his magic.
For far too long a moment, Loki stood transfixed, watching Sif kiss him. Watching the way she pressed herself so close to him, the way she tightened her arms and tipped her head and gently whispered his name in a soft moan. Loki…
It was like watching a fantastical dream play out before him, one he had so carefully tried to suppress over the years. And for a moment Loki let himself live in this dream, this world where the beautiful warrior maiden Sif would kiss him, would actually care for him and return his affections. Let himself imagine what it would feel like to have her lips pressed so tightly against his, to have her fingers wrapped around his neck and her body flush against his…
But it was not a dream. It was reality and what was happening was impossible. Suddenly the sickening truth hit him. The dark sorcerer had already reached Sif. It was him she was kissing so fervently. A powerful shapeshifter, a dragon maybe, trying to seduce and lure its prey away. She was clearly enthralled by the dragon’s spell and must not know what she was doing. And Loki could feel the strength of the magic now, how it thickened and condensed around the two entwined figures, how it steeped them in a black, dense aura of power. It was strong enough to bring even Loki under its spell; to have disorientated him in the forest and to make it hard for him to concentrate. He could not even begin to imagine the effects it must be having on Sif, without her own magic to protect her.
He did not have time to question why this shapeshifter had taken his form, before fear started to rush through him. It was not an emotion he was accustomed to, but this sorcerer was even more powerful than Loki could have ever imagined. He did not know how his own magic, so feeble in comparison, would be able to overcome it. His only power now lay in surprise, for he was certain his magic still concealed him and neither were aware of his presence.
The magic that had been simmering within him ever since he had first entered this evil forest finally began breaking free. It mixed with the jealousy that had consumed him before and remained within his heart. A jealousy and rage that now roared back into his consciousness, even stronger this time. For whoever this shapeshifter was, he had no right to kiss Sif like that, no right to pull Sif under his spell and trick her mind and body against her. Focusing all his might and power together, mixing it with all his fear and jealousy and longing, Loki cast the strongest magic he knew how to summon. With a sharp flick of his wrist, the magic that had been crackling and building in his palms shot forwards, a dazzlingly bright emerald beam that rushed past Sif and hit the sorcerer square in his face.
There was a sharp flash of light, so bright Sif could see it beneath her closed eyelids. It was followed by a tremendous crashing, hissing noise, the sudden stench of burnt flesh and the very ground seemed to quake beneath her feet. The force of the impact knocked Sif backwards, away from Loki and as she struggled to regain her balance, she opened her eyes wide. In the space of a pounding heartbeat, Sif saw the trees shaking around her, the very air flashing a deep emerald which seemed to engulf the entire forest in fierce green flames. Then, it was gone and Sif blinked, whipped her head around quickly, taking in her surroundings and instinctively falling into her battle stance.
It was like being awoken suddenly from a deep and pleasant dream. She was disorientated; her heart pounded, her breath came fast and shallow and her mind spun. But Sif knew she had not been dreaming, that she was still in this dark forest and she forced her eyes to turn towards Loki, feeling strangely embarrassed to face him now, after what they had just done. But as her eyes sought out the figure in front of her, she caught sight of a flash of green further away, deeper within the trees. Sif found herself looking into deep, emerald eyes, full of an intensity that seemed to pierce into her very soul. His gaze held hers for a moment that seemed to last a lifetime and Sif knew she was looking into the eyes of Loki himself. But that was impossible…
The realisation hit her immediately, but she was slow to turn to the figure in front of her, afraid to see his face and confirm the truth she knew she would find there. The face was still clearly Loki’s, but the eyes were different, their depths not reflecting back all the years of their strange friendship, all the intense emotions that consumed the bright emerald gaze of the one within the trees. Sif’s eyes glanced quickly between the two Loki’s, her heart thundering in her ears as the pieces of the puzzle slowly fell into place.
As if sensing the game was over, the features on the nearest face started to twist and distort. The brilliant green of his eyes discoloured into a pale, sickly yellow, feverishly bright with a magic that made Sif’s blood curdle. The smirk started to twist into a hideously large mouth, filled with sharp fangs the size of Sif’s fingers. Lips that had pressed so tenderly against hers were now a thick, putrid red, cracked and coarse. The pale, soft skin she had so gently caressed now turned a fetid yellow, blistered and blackened slightly where the green light had collided with it. The fingers that had tangled in her hair now grew into thick, sharp claws; the arms that had held her so tightly now stretched and deformed into large, scaly wings. The body, once so slender and warm, started to contort and grow, stretching up above her; the clothes disappearing and replaced with thick, jagged scales the colour of dried blood, rough and calloused like old leather.
Sif craned her neck upwards, motionless and frozen as the dragon reared above her, growing larger and taller by the second until it seemed to fill the whole clearing with its foul red mass. The bile began to rise up within Sif’s throat and she had just enough time to worry that not only had she been kissing a dragon impersonating Loki, but that Loki had actually caught her doing so. Then a mighty, thunderous roar shook the entire forest and vibrated through every bone in her body. The dragon opened its mouth wide in what appeared to be a twisted smirk and, with its sickly yellow eyes focused ferociously upon her, its giant, horned head and monstrous fangs suddenly swung down towards her.
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As the dragon lunged towards her, Sif instinctively reached for her sword, but her hands found no comforting metal to wield, her fingers no sword hilt to grasp. It was not there. The fool she was had left it back at camp, certain it would not be needed for her short visit to the forest. She did not have time to curse her mistake too deeply, for the sharp fangs, dripping with slime and saliva, were almost upon her, its sickly yellow eyes burning into hers. She had already lost precious time trying to reach for her sword and she could feel the dragon’s hot breath upon her skin, its stench of carrion and acrid flesh filling her senses. The smell was enough to turn her stomach and propel her into movement. She suddenly dropped down, into a crouch and immediately rolled sideways, just about managing to find a space beneath the giant beast’s wings. Her hands reached into her boot and pulled forth her hidden dagger. The cool metal was a welcome touch in her hands, the enchanted emeralds decorating the hilt a reassuring comfort as the magic seeped through into her veins.
She launched herself to her feet, spinning around to face the dragon, dagger held ready in attack. But she had underestimated the speed of this great beast, for already it had turned towards her and even now was charging across the clearing. She lunged forwards on her powerful, warrior legs and brought the dagger up ready. The large, muscular arm of the dragon swung towards her, its sharp claws seeking flesh, but Sif had already anticipated the attack. She used her momentum to twist her body around, leaning backwards and tipping her head as she jumped out of its path. She landed deftly on her feet closer to the beast and fixed her gaze on one of the hideous yellow eyes turned towards her. It was unprotected, a weak point and Sif narrowed her eyes, preparing to throw the dagger at her target.
Twisting her arm, and clutching the dagger tightly, Sif prepared to throw. She glared defiantly at the fierce dragon rearing above her, once more so close all she could breathe in was its foul stench. Out of the corner of her eye she saw the sudden blur of movement, but it was too late. The dragon’s long, spiked tail, hidden before from Sif’s sight, now swung round towards her. She tried to dodge its path, tried to jump nimbly out of harms way, but the great muscular tail was too large. It struck the side of her stomach and the force propelled her backwards. She just had time to bring her dagger down, but it merely glanced across the thick, impenetrable scales of its thick tail.
As Sif was flung across the clearing, the air whistling around her and stealing her breath, she tried to right her body, tried to find her footing and prepare herself to land. But the rough wood of a tree trunk halted her flight and Sif’s arms and legs were thrown backwards at painful angles. As her hand smashed into a low branch, her fingers tried to clutch desperately at the dagger, but it slipped from her grasp, landing with a crash several feet away. The force of the impact knocked all the breath out of her body and her ears rang with the blow. Her vision was momentarily cloudy and she had to blink several times to clear it. When she did, the first thing she saw was the hideous yellow eyes, piercing through the haze. Then, her eyes focused on the sharp fangs curved upwards and finally the great bulk of its head, surging towards her. Sif quickly brought her hand around but realised too late that she no longer held the dagger. Quickly, burying her face in her hands for protection, Sif tried to figure out her next move.
There was none. The heaving, scaly bulk of the dragon blocked her path forwards and sideways and at her back the tree still dug painfully into her spine. Without a weapon, she knew there was little she could do to defend herself. There was the option of gauging its eyes out with her fingernails, but the dragon’s mouth was already turned towards her, the eyes out of reach and the sharp fangs ready to pierce through skin. Sif was far from one to give up, but in that moment, her thoughts automatically began to chant the age old warrior's prayer for safe passage to Valhalla. She screwed her eyes shut and hoped that storytellers and musicians would see her final demise at the hands of such a great dragon worthy of a warrior’s death…
Loki had watched as Sif fought the dragon, remaining as still as possible as he called up all the ancient magic within this dark forest he could wield. Already he had exhausted much of his power in the initial blow and he needed time to recharge as much as he could. Time he did not have, not if he planned to save Sif and himself this night. If that was even possible. Already, he had seen the dragon recovering from the first attack, watched as it had contorted into its natural shape, its yellow eyes flashing as it lunged towards her. The spell had already been on his lips, his arms held out ready to cast at the final moment. But it had not been needed. Sif was no easy opponent to overcome and he had felt his breath rush out in a loud sigh of relief as she escaped the dragon’s teeth.
Loki trusted Sif, knew her might well on the battlefield and so he only watched her movements from the corner of his eye. Instead, he focused his attention on chanting the ancient spells of power, building the magic once more until it crackled in its intensity. He watched, calling more and more of the dark magic to him, waiting for the right moment to strike; when the dragon was at its weakest or Sif in the most danger. As he saw the dragon’s tail smash into her, he fought hard to contain his cry, to prevent the magic from raging forth. It was not enough. Not yet. So he could only watch in horror as her slender frame was smashed into the tree, the dagger thrown from her grip, leaving her defenceless.
He watched her try to crawl away, try to wield her empty hand. He watched her hands cover her face, her body shrink backwards in protection and fear. Every heartbeat was a fresh wave of pain, but still he held on. Still he let the magic build, feeding it with his agony at watching Sif be defeated, at the memory of how this cruel creature had already taunted her so this night. The magic built and built, the green flames flickering within his vision and crackling in his ears. He watched. He waited. He longed for the perfect moment to strike.
Suddenly a bright green flash appeared beneath Sif’s closed eyelids and the dragon's roar was so loud she had to cover her ears with her hands. Her eyes flickered open in shock and she felt a powerful gust of air as the dragon was thrown backwards against a nearby tree, the shock of impact so powerful Sif felt it vibrate through the very ground itself, the tree behind her back trembling with the blow and causing fresh waves of pain to sear through her nerves.
She ignored the pain and without a moments hesitation, Sif quickly acted; her battle instincts raging and her muscles growing taut, preparing for the fight. With a firm push from her hands she launched herself upwards, her footing sure and her stance strong. She quickly took in the sight around her, the small clearing lit by the ethereal light of magic, lined with trees and the thick blackness of the forest beyond. The dragon smashed into the tree, its trunk splintered and the canopy above toppling precariously. The smoke still billowing from the charred scales lining the dragon's belly and his great limbs lying twisted and tangled. Its head thrown backwards and its eyes looking upwards, mouth open wide so its teeth flashed in the magical light. And finally at Loki, his arms outstretched and still crackling and blazing with green flames. His eyes bright, feverish, distant, his lips moving silently, forming ancient spells as he drew to him all the magic he could command, already preparing for more.
The dragon was quick to recover and it pulled its head upwards, the sickly yellow eyes now turning towards Loki, its mouth twisting into a snarl as it sensed this new threat. Sif was all but forgotten as the dragon staggered to its feet, its muscular wings dropping to the floor with a crash as it lurched towards Loki. She saw his eyes widen, saw his wrists flick outwards, but before he could utter the enchantment to bring forth the magic building and simmering within him, the dragon opened his jaw wide, drew in a deep breath that seemed to steal the air from Sif's own lungs and released it in a blinding cascade of fire. The intense heat scorched the air around them, filling it with the charred stench of burnt wood and singed flesh. Sif threw her own arms across her face, protecting it from the burning heat and the dazzling flames. The force of it pushed her backwards and she lost her footing on a gnarled tree root. She stumbled, her arms now flailing wide, seeking balance as the heat scorched her skin. She managed to prevent her fall and forced her eyes open, blinking back the tears that the acidic, bitter smoke and heat drew forth.
A sudden, terrifying cry of agony filled the clearing, so fierce it seemed to have been wrenched up from Hel itself. The twisted, recognisable voice within called Sif's attention and she finally found the strength to turn towards him. Loki never had chance to wield his green magical flames again, for instead he had been granted no choice but to utter a spell for protection. Sif saw a field of green energy emanating from his hands, forming a shield around him and keeping the dragon’s fierce yellow flames at bay.
As Sif watched, she saw Loki’s arms begin to tremble, his back droop under the weight. His footsteps were forced backwards under the onslaught of the dragon’s fire and Sif could clearly see the lines of exhaustion distort his features. His mouth twisted into another cry of agony, before his jaw hardened and his teeth flashed into a snarl. He raised his arms higher, pushed back against the dragon’s assault and forced all the magic he could wield into the shield.
It was not enough. Still the dragon’s fire roared and the panic began flickering across his eyes. Sif quickly looked around her, twisting her head and seeking out the flash of flame glinting off metal. There was none. The dagger was lost to the thick undergrowth of the forest floor. She had no weapon, no way to fight this dragon. If she tried to attack now, those burning flames would turn upon her and, with no magic at her command, she knew she would never survive the onslaught. And so, as Sif watched, despite all her years of training and all the battles she had fought, there was nothing she could do to help.
In that moment, Sif was powerless.
Sif looked helplessly into Loki's eyes, a thousand and one regrets spilling forth and consuming her, all the words she had longed to say for so long now choking her throat and making it hard to breathe. She tried to focus on what was happening, tried to force her mind through countless strategies, but each one proved more futile than the last. It was hopeless and she cursed herself for never telling Loki how she felt about him. Now, she never would have the chance…
Suddenly though, Sif saw Loki's eyes flicker momentarily towards her, his eyes narrowing in acknowledgement before glancing quickly out across the clearing. Instinctively, Sif followed his gaze and saw a flicker of green light, a flash of emeralds calling to her. It was gone in an instant, the attention of the caster drawn elsewhere, but it was enough. Without further thought, Sif lunged forwards, dropping down into a roll and ignoring the sharp pain the actions unleashed upon her burnt and battered flesh. Her hand now found the cool metal of the dagger and the enchanted emeralds were still warm to the touch. She clutched it tightly and an exuberant battle cry spilled from her lips. It called the dragon’s attention, but before the heat of its flames could fall upon her, she finished her roll so she was now under the enormous bulk of the great dragon. She lifted her head, the dagger held tightly within her fingers. With every muscle tense within her body, she thrust her arm upwards, under the great belly of the beast and into the charred flesh Loki had wounded earlier.
The dragon shrieked in agony, a piercing sound that echoed around the great forest and chilled Sif to her very soul. Immediately the roaring, blistering heat of flames ceased and only the stench of burnt wood and flesh remained. The legs of the great beast collapsed and the giant mass of the dragon crashed to the floor, aiming to crush its attacker. But Sif was too quick; already she had rolled out from under the giant beast, clutching the precious dagger tightly within her fingers. As she jumped up onto her feet, she risked a fleeting glance at Loki. He was doubled over in exhaustion and pain, his head bent and his hands clutching his stomach, as if about to be sick. The sight of him in so much agony was like a knife in her heart and Sif wanted to cry out, to run to him and cradle him in her arms. Her need to go to him, to comfort and protect him was almost enough to override even the warrior’s instinct forever simmering within her veins. As if sensing her intention, Loki lifted his head and caught her eye. The pain was clear within their emerald depths, but he had forced his lips into a small smirk, a faint echo of his usual mischievous grin. He nodded his head and Sif understood his intention perfectly. She nodded her own in acknowledgement and then forced her eyes back towards the great dragon in front of her.
Sif had its full attention now and as it pushed itself to its feet, the sickly yellow eyes were fixed on hers. They were ferocious, filled with pain and fury at being denied its prize. She reached up her arm, holding the dagger high, and tensed her muscles, preparing to strike. She expected the dragon to run towards her and attack, but it remained strangely motionless, as if watching her, weighing up its enemy. Then, it began to turn towards Loki, as if it knew Sif’s greatest weakness. And perhaps it did, for dragons were no lumbering trolls or brainless bilchsteims. They were shapeshifters, sorcerers, intelligent beasts almost as old as time itself. And this one had already found Sif’s weakness earlier, had used it to lead her into its trap, and only Loki had stopped it from succeeding.
And now it wanted revenge.
But this dragon had underestimated its prey, for Sif felt a hot, fierce fury fill her veins. This great beast had tricked her enough tonight and now it seemed determined to hurt what was most dear to her. And Sif was not about to let it. So as the great dragon started to lunge towards Loki, Sif let the fury take over and direct her battle trained instincts. She ran towards the dragon, hollering the battle cry of the Æsir in her rage. The dragon realised its mistake too late, for Sif did not run to protect Loki and instead brought her sharp dagger down in between the thick scales of the dragon’s legs, causing it to cry in pain and stumble forwards. She quickly aimed at its wings, ripping the thinner, muscular flesh between the tendons. Its giant head swung round towards her, but before it had time to release any more flames, Sif brought her dagger up into its throat, using the dragon’s own momentum to push it deep. In the corner of her eye she saw the flicker of movement as the dragon swung its arms towards her, the claws flashing in the eerie light. The dagger was lodged in too deep, Sif could not pull it free and had to release her hold as she threw her body backwards, avoiding the sharp claws which grazed against her neck, drawing blood. She righted herself quickly, reached up both arms to the hilt of the dagger and pulled. She could see the dragon’s giant tail now swinging towards her, its thick scales sweeping along the ground and the large spike at the tip aimed at her head. She had less than seconds to move, but she could not afford to lose the dagger again. She pulled, harder this time, felt the dagger begin to move, saw the spike loom closer…
The dagger finally slipped free and Sif dropped down, the spike whistling past her ear a scant inch away. Once more she fell into a roll, moving underneath the belly of the great beast. The moment she was clear of its bulk, she jumped upwards, wielding the dagger in her hands as she spun towards the dragon, ready to strike once more.
But Loki beat her too it. The sound of his throwing knives whistled through the air and struck deep where they met yielding flesh. He watched as one found its target, disappearing into the exposed neck of the dragon and sliding between the scales with perfect precision. It sunk in deep and lodged itself in the dragon’s throat, preventing it from breathing fire. The second fell short; a few inches from its target, glancing off the dragon's thick eyelids and only sinking shallowly into the flesh there. He cursed his foolish mistake and what it would cost them. He had only one knife left, which he shifted in his hands as he tried to deduce the next place to strike. His aim was not what it should be, his arms tired from the magic he had wielded this night. Usually it flowed within him, the magic sending the knife perfectly to its target. But he had no magic left now; it had all been used in fighting the dragon and then healing himself enough so he could fight on. And though his aim was excellent even without the use of magic, he could not afford to miss again. So he trained his eye on the fierce yellow ones of the dragon, which had turned towards him now. He pulled back his arm, quickly calculated the speed he could achieve with his weakened muscles, shifted his aim to compensate and threw the dagger. All three pairs of eyes watched as it raced towards its target, shining like a green torch as it reflected the strange, ethereal light still illuminating the clearing. It found its target and sunk in deep, blinding one eye of the dragon.
It threw its head backwards in agony and screamed loud and long, a shriek from the very depths of Hel itself. It pierced through Sif’s ears and momentarily distracted her. But then Sif saw her opening, calculated her next move and acted automatically. Before the dragon had chance to retaliate against Loki, Sif ran towards it. As she approached, she pushed down with all her strength, building the power in her legs before launching herself upwards, towards the dragon's face. It swept out a clawed hand towards her, its aim sloppy in its pain, but Sif had already calculated the movement and swung her hand towards it, the sharp dagger slashing through the thin scales lining his wrists. She continued on in her jump, kicking out with her foot and aiming for the knife near its eyebrow. Her strike proved true and the knife was pushed downwards, digging into the sickly yellow flesh of its eye. As the dragon’s shriek increased in agony and filled her ears, she completed her move with a somersault backwards and landed with a jarring thud on the forest ground. The force of the impact jolted her already injured body and the pain momentarily distracted her, causing her foot to slip on a pile of leaves and she stumbled backwards. She was quick to find her footing though and this time she did not lose the precious dagger. She held it high, flung her hair back from around her face and faced the dragon with a scowl. But the dragon was not rearing above her now, poised to strike. It was clutching the two knives embedded deep within its eyes. Its head tossed backwards and forwards in agony and confusion, its large spiked tail thrashing around the clearing as the giant beast spun around, trying to seek out its attackers in its blindness.
Sif watched for several moments, keeping her distance as the great beast withered in agony and its shrieks of pain turned Sif's stomach. She had fought many dangerous beasts in her adventures with the two princes and the Warriors Three, many a time had felt her sword sink into the flesh of her enemies. And this beast especially had earned her wrath, tricking her, luring her to her death disguised as Loki and now attacking them both. Yet a strange sense of pity for this helpless creature filled her thoughts then. Try as she might, she could not help but remember when it had held a different form, one so dear to her. The fleeting memory of its whispered words, its warm closeness and its gentle kisses echoed through her mind. And now, though in its hideous true form, the memories haunted her and its shrieks of agony pierced her heart, confusing her. A killing blow would be the kindest, but Sif did not know where to strike to end the beast’s suffering.
Her concerns were short lived though, for a moment later the great beast caught hold of the small knives in its clumsy claws and wrenched them out. There was a flash of sickly yellow light and once more the dragon’s eyes focused upon them, its sight now magically restored. It released a booming roar full of bloodthirsty rage, so powerful the earth began to quake beneath her feet, catching Sif off her guard. A moment later it threw the knives back at its attackers. It happened so quickly, was so unexpected, that it was only Sif’s natural instincts and carefully honed reflexes that saved her life. As she jumped out of the way, the knife grazed her arm and the sharp pain from the wound made her cry out. She had little time to examine the damage, for a moment later the dragon’s tail once more swung towards her and she had to quickly throw herself backwards to avoid impact. As she moved, she flung our her arm wielding the dagger, but it merely glanced off the thick scales of the dragon’s great tail and continued to swing around the forest, seeking its next target.
“Loki!” Sif cried out, but even as he turned towards her and heeded her warning, they both knew it was too late.
Thanks for reading and I hope you're still enjoying the story. More chapters are on their way.
Oh and in case you're wondering what a bilchsteim is, it's what Thor talks to Agent Coulson about in the Avengers, and I couldn't resist mentioning it here!
Loki had been distracted. He had easily dodged the knife the dragon had thrown back at him, jumping aside as it whistled past him and became embedded within a tree. Seeing the dragon's attention turned once again towards Sif, and knowing they were powerless with no weapons, he had rushed backwards to wrench it from the thick trunk. At Sif's cry, he had quickly turned back towards the dragon, holding the knife ready to throw once more. It was only then that he had caught sight of the movement, and it had been too late.
He managed to drop his head in time, the sharp spike at the tail's end just brushing through his hair and grazing his scalp. But the thick, scaly bulk of the tail was not far behind. There was nowhere for Loki to move and it rammed into him and propelled him backwards across the clearing. He had just enough time and just enough magic to utter a protective spell before his back crashed into a tree and all the breath was knocked out of him. His neck was jarred backwards and his head smashed into the trunk, his limbs twisting at painful angles.
He blinked several times, clearing away the haze from his vision and the pain in his head. The magic had managed to cushion the worst of the impact though and the throwing knife still remained clutched tightly in his hand. He stood up slowly, struggling to find his footing and balance. His eyes sought out the dragon and he threw the knife. His aim was poor from his most recent injuries, but it served its purpose. As it glanced off the thick scales on its hind, the dragon's attention once more focused on him. It quickly lunged towards him and Loki desperately tried to calculate his next move.
He was out of options and weapons and even as his lips fervently whispered as many defensive spells as he could, there was not enough magic left within him to cast. His only chance now was Sif, but he hoped she would make a run for it, maybe even go to find Thor and the Warriors Three. Perhaps they, together, could succeed where he had failed. Maybe they would even flee this sinister forest, return to Asgard whilst they had the chance. His buffoon of a brother would no doubt aim to conquer the great beast, but perhaps Hogun or Volstagg could instil some sense into him. If they were all safe, if he knew she was safe, then perhaps his death would not have been in vain. Perhaps he could go to Hel in peace.
Loki glanced towards her; saw her hesitating as she looked between him and the dragon rapidly approaching. “Sif! Run!” He managed to cry out, his voice croaky though he knew she heard him clearly enough. She glanced towards him, shook her head firmly then turned away. Loki cursed loudly, shouted at her again to run, though he was not surprised when she still did not comply. The great Shieldmaiden Lady Sif would never abandon a fight and leave a fallen comrade, no matter what it may cost her. But he could spare her no more attention, for the dragon was looming above him now, its claws digging out the knife Loki had impaled in its throat earlier. It threw the knife towards him and, with his body still weak from its impact with the tree, he knew he would not be able to move out of the way in time. This close, the dragon's aim would be perfect.
It all happened within the space of a heartbeat and Sif found her feet moving even before her mind could comprehend what was happening. She would call it battle instinct, only it went against everything she had ever been taught, everything she had ever been trained to do. Rather than watch for her own safety, rather than focus on her enemy and deduce its next move, she rushed towards Loki. Her eyes quickly took in the knife's trajectory, saw the target become Loki's heart, watched Loki move and knew it would not be quick enough.
“Loki!” She cried out, half in warning, half in panic, before she threw her body against his and sent them both crashing to the ground. The knife flew past them, brushing against her leg, but thankfully the only damage it did was rip the fabric of her trousers. She sat up quickly, her body half still on Loki's, and quickly aimed her own dagger at the dragon looming above them. She threw it hard and, despite her poor aim, it found purchase square between its eyes, the magic in the enchanted emeralds glowing brightly as Loki tracked its movements. It was no deadly blow, but it would slow the dragon down momentarily and buy them time. And at the moment, that was all they could ask for.
“Sif, you idiot,” Loki muttered as he pushed her off him, sitting up slowly, his body tired from all the injuries he had sustained this night. “You should have run whilst you had the chance!”
“And have your brother forever lamenting over your death and everyone thinking me a coward? I would sooner go to my own death!” The excuse flowed quickly off her tongue and Sif was glad of it, for the many other things she longed to say were heavy on her mind. She quickly turned away from Loki before he could read the truth in her eyes and stood up, once more focused on the dragon in front of her.
Already it was recovering from its recent wound and its claws were grappling at the knife embedded in its face. Sif watched as the great beast pulled it free and threw it backwards, far away from its enemies. A flash of yellow light and the foul stench of magic and carrion filled air and suddenly the thick green slime dripping between its eyes vanished, the wound magically healed. Sif cursed under her breath, for how could they defeat a beast so quick to heal, so hard to injure?
The dragon started moving towards them again, but its movements were slow, deliberate now. A predator toying with its prey, its victory secured.
“I think you may get your wish, Sif,” Loki muttered, standing up beside her.
Sif glanced at him, her expression defensive and somewhat angry, effortlessly slipping into the usual animosity that existed between them. It was far easier to pretend than risk the truth spilling forth. For even now, after all that had happened this night, Sif found herself unable to tell Loki how she felt about him. If it was not for the dire situation they found themselves in, Sif would have laughed. She was unafraid to face and fight this ferocious dragon, yet telling her childhood friend she cared about him scared her witless. “Well, now would be a great time for one of your clever tricks to get us out of this mess,” Sif threw back at him instead.
Despite the hostility between them, they instinctively drew closer together, forming a defensive wall as they faced their enemy. They had no weapons left and the dragon was circling them now, slowly moving nearer as it continued playing with its prey.
“You are the great warrior maiden, Sif. Why do you not think of something!”
“There are not a lot of dragons around in Asgard for us to practice slaying, Loki,” Sif called back at him indignantly. “And are you not the famous silvertongued trickster, the one the bards say is able to escape any trap.”
“What do you want me to do? Try and talk it into not killing us?” Loki retorted, shaking his head. When Sif continued to glare at him in scorn and reprobation, Loki continued resentfully, “And was it not you who got us into this mess, Sif?”
It took Sif a moment to answer, remembering all to well how she had found herself in this predicament. How the shapeshifter had taken Loki's form, tricked her and led her astray, deep into the forest. How she had so willingly followed him, even kissed him in its disguise. But she quickly swallowed those memories down, not allowing Loki to see anything other than annoyance in her eyes. Her hands may have been clenching nervously at her sides, but her voice was steady and angry as she replied, “If I were you, Loki, I would never speak of that. Not unless you want me to fight both you and the dragon.”
“I think not even your great battle prowess could fight me and the dragon at the same time Sif. Certainly not when you have no weapon.”
“As you have no weapon either, Loki, I would not try and test that theory.”
Before Loki had chance to retort, the dragon suddenly roared, the sound echoing around the clearing and chilling Sif to the core. The very earth beneath her feet quaked with its might and the ethereal light illuminating the clearing flickered in its power, disorientating Sif's vision. She clenched her fingers tightly together, longing for the feel of steel in her hand.
“Would now be a good time to ask what dragons like to do with their prey?" Sif asked, eager for some sort of distraction as it continued to circle in towards them. She was used to her enemies attacking quickly, the clash of metal and the whirl of speed as she dodged their attacks. This foe seemed determined to taunt them now and she was growing increasingly anxious of just what this dragon had planned.
“Well, usually they try and lure the prey to their lair, then eat them. But this dragon seems to be rather annoyed right now.” Loki flashed her a menacing grin, but Sif just rolled her eyes at Loki's theatricals. “So it may just choose to eat us here.”
“Sounds delightful,” Sif muttered back, determined to not let Loki hear the fear creep into her voice.
“I am sure it will be, for the dragon anyway.”
Sif did not bother to respond, for the dragon was almost upon them now, its eyes flashing with triumph and its hideous mouth twisted into what vaguely resembled a smirk. As its great fangs and yellow eyes reared above them, they instinctively raised their arms to shield themselves and each other, expecting it to strike. But the dragon had another trick up its sleeve and opened its mouth wide, stealing all the air around them as it prepared to attack. With Loki's knife no longer embedded within its throat, Sif realised too late it was able to breathe fire once more. Without thinking, she felt herself reach out and grasp Loki's hand, entwining his fingers around her own. It was only a small gesture, but when Loki did not recoil and when what little magic he had left flowed into her, it gave Sif the strength to turn towards the dragon and face her imminent death with a Warriors pride.
Thanks for reading and I hope your still enjoying the story. More chapters are on their way soon!
Thanks for still reading and massive apologies for the wait – real life has been so hectic for me I haven’t had much chance to write. Hopefully I’ll find the time to catch up with all my Loki/Sif stories very soon.
Even with her fierce, warrior’s pride running through her veins, Sif was unable to prevent her eyes from instinctively squeezing shut as the dragon’s flames erupted around her. Bright flashes of red and yellow, orange and white danced beneath her eyelids and her ears were filled with a deafening roar. The blazing air crackled and snapped, stealing the breath from her lungs, the thick, acidic smoke choking her. The intense heat was suffocating, prickling her skin and stealing her strength. Yet her skin did not burn and she opened her eyes cautiously, blinking back the blinding smoke and stinging tears. Surrounding her, she saw the weak, emerald light pushing back the flames; a thin shield protecting them both from the full onslaught of the dragon’s wrath. It flickered, weakened and a quick glance at the strain etched upon Loki’s features told her it would not last long. Already the heat was growing in intensity, pushing at the barrier and starting to scorch her skin. She crushed Loki’s hand in her fingers, clutching tightly. The emerald shield flickered brighter then, the blistering heat dissipating slightly. Sif strengthened her grip and forced whatever strength and will power she still had into that hold. She had no idea if it would help, but she would do anything to give them just a few more precious seconds in this life.
In these last few moments remaining, Sif knew she should say something to Loki. That here, at the end of all things, she should finally admit the truth. But the words still failed her, as they had for countless centuries. And even if she could find the words, her mouth was too scorched from the bitter smoke and intense heat, her lungs starved of air as the flames consumed all they could. Instead she just grasped Loki’s hand tighter, trying to put into the hold what she could not put into words. Maybe, together with all he had witnessed this night, Loki would finally understand what he meant to her.
Sif knew they would not have long; Loki’s weight was already sagging into hers and her own strength was ebbing away fast. The faint green shield was barely discernable now and the flames pouring all around them were not lessening in their own intensity. She squeezed her eyes shut as their potency grew, still seeing the vivid colours of the flames, beautiful in their own lethal way as they danced around her, growing brighter and brighter before her.
Loki felt the intense heat start to burn his skin, his shield growing weaker as his magic was quickly exhausted. Yet even now, his mind was fervently sifting through the possibilities, following every potential course and searching in vein for any chance to save them. He wondered if there was some way he could at least protect Sif, for her safety was all that really mattered now. But even as he quickly filtered through every plan his mind could conceive, he knew it was impossible. If he forced the focus of the magic onto Sif, made the shield stronger around her, it would only weaken himself sooner, and then what hope was there for Sif? The dragon would not leave her alone, not now. And he could not deny how much he was relying on her strength, her back supporting his weakened body and her hand holding his, giving him a reason to keep fighting.
But it was too late now. His shield was flickering ever weaker by the second and the dragon’s eyes were growing in ferocity. Loki shut his own eyes against its cruel, strangely taunting gaze and the blinding flames. The magic still flowed out of him, the spell spilling from his lips and his hand clutching tighter to Sif's. Part of him wondered what she would make of all this, if she might understand what it meant to him. If she knew the effect what he had witnessed earlier still had upon him. But it did not matter. In a scant few moments his shield would give out completely and then what hope was there for them? Not much, Loki thought, but was that not the same as it had ever been? And perhaps there were worst ways to leave this realm. In this moment he could at least pretend Sif’s hand entwined with his was more than desperation and fear. And at least it would be quick, Loki mused as he poured the very last ounce of his weak magic into the shield as it flickered out of existence.
A sudden whistling sound filled the clearing, a shrill vibrating loud enough to be heard even above the cacophonous sound of the dragon’s flames. It was a noise vividly familiar to Loki and Sif and both opened their eyes wide in surprise. It took several moments for them to clear the acrid smoke and salty tears from their eyes, before they could even make out the scene enfolding before them. The first thing they were aware of was that the flames had stopped. Only the vivid after image of the bright red and yellow flames danced before their eyes. Their skin still prickled, burning with the heat though its intensity had gone. Then, there was a deafening crash, painfully loud to their abused ears. Their eyes followed the sound and saw the damage before they realised the cause. Five trees had been ripped from the ground and lay inverted, their roots forming macabre silhouettes against the sickly yellow light still illuminating the clearing. Several surrounding trees were snapped in half, yet more shaking unsteadily, their heavy boughs swaying precariously as the trees fought to remain upright.
The dragon lay amongst the wreckage, his long tail crashing through more trees as it slowly stilled. Its scaly back was embedded in the thick trunk of another, its form bent double from the impact and the branches hanging down like a cage over the dragon’s now motionless form. Its head lolled downwards, its sickly yellow eyes empty and its mouth twisted in a grimace of surprise. Its huge head was dented on one side and a moment later Mjölnir once more came spinning through the air. Their eyes tracked it through the slowly dissipating smoke and saw it land in the outstretched hand of its wielder. Thor.
Many a time had the first prince come to her aid in battle, but Sif had never known such sudden, overwhelming relief. It rushed through her veins and stole what little strength she had left. Her muscles collapsed and she fell against the supporting weight of Loki. His own strength gave in at the same moment and they both fell to the floor in a tangle of twisted, intertwined limbs.
“How fare you, brother? Sif?” Thor’s concerned voiced filled the clearing as he started to move towards them, ready to help. He reached a hand towards Loki, offering his assistance. The Warriors Three followed behind, their own eyes anxiously surveying the damage to the clearing, the great beast immobile against the trees and their two friends, lying in a heap on the floor, surrounded by a faint, flickering green light.
“We fare well, Thor! No thanks to you!” Loki retorted, waving Thor’s outstretched arm away and fighting back a cough as his throat stung in the thick, acrid smoke. He quickly pushed Sif off him and stood up to his face his brother. Every muscle within his aching body protested the movement, but pride overran the pain and he was determined to maintain his dignity before his older brother and his friends. His irritation helped to overcome the tiredness in his bones and he managed to stand without shaking or support. He was grateful to his brother, he had just saved their lives after all and Loki could not fault that. Yet he resented the fact that once again Thor had saved the day with his superior weapon Mjölnir and that Loki had even needed the help. He hated to think how much Thor would talk about saving his weaker younger brother from a fierce dragon, and how the story would become ever more embellished with every retelling.
Sif immediately followed, her own pride overcoming her injuries as she stood up tall, facing her friends. She was careful to ensure there was a good distant between her and Loki, already anxious that they might suspect something amiss. Even though her skin was still prickling from the intense heat of the flames, her fingertips felt cold now, empty. She clenched them tightly at her sides, trying to ignore the lingering touch of Loki’s fingertips and forced the foolish thoughts away.
After he had ascertained that his brother and friend were relatively safe, Thor's boisterous laughter suddenly echoed around the clearing, the overwhelming cheer belying the undercurrent of worry he had been harbouring not moments before. “Of that I am not sure, brother, for it looks like we arrived just in time!” He jovially slapped Loki around the back and Loki did his best to hide the sudden wince of pain.
“Rather late in the day I would say. You have missed most of the fight, brother. The hard work had already been done.” Loki tried to keep his voice light, teasing, but the words came out harsher than he intended.
“How did you find us?” Sif asked, stepping towards the crown prince and trying to turn the conversation away from the tension simmering within Loki. She knew well enough Loki’s gratitude towards his brother, but Sif also recognised the bitter tone edging his voice and she knew its potential to feed the resentment sometimes festering within him against his older brother. Sif’s own forbearance was much too strained by all they had been through this night and she had not the patience to see Loki’s sullenness grow further.
“We followed the sound of all the noise!” Fandral answered, his voice merry and seemingly unaware of any mounting tension between the brothers. “The dragon was making the most ferocious racket that I am sure all of Svartalfheim could hear it!”
“It must surely have been loud to have woken you four from your beds!” Sif smiled at them, her voice too cheerful but she did not care. The relief was still flooding through her veins and she would have hugged each one of them had her fierce pride not condoned it.
“We are always ready to fight!” Volstagg answered, feigning offence.
“Aye! Except when you have too much good food and too much good ale!” Sif replied teasingly.
“What were you two doing out in the forest?” Hogun suddenly asked, his rarity with speaking and voice graver than usual drawing all of their attention.
Sif looked quickly at Loki, suddenly feeling immensely embarrassed and ashamed at what had happened. A suitable explanation caught in her throat and she was unable to speak.
“I do not know what Sif was doing out here, but I sensed the dragon’s magic and followed, hoping to seek a mighty prize for our return to Asgard.”
Sif’s relief at Loki’s swift response was quickly turned into annoyance and she answered back defensively, “I was merely taking care business when the dragon came and attacked me!” Sif’s hand clenched tightly at her sides, protesting the lies she told and her guilt made her quickly add, “Luckily, Loki found me before the dragon had caused any harm.”
“But why are you so deep within the forest?” Hogun probed, his voice surprisingly suspicious and Sif looked at him in alarm, wondering what he was insinuating and what he might suspect.
“The dragon’s magic was strong; it must have led Sif astray, as it did myself.” Loki added, his voice so perfectly calm and his words so credible that had Sif not known better, she would have believed them to be true. “The dragon’s attention must have been too divided in the fight and his magic weakened, allowing you to find us.”
“And thank goodness we did, for you were both nearly burnt to a crisp!” Volstagg added, his voice light hearted though he was less adept at clouding his earlier concern than his friends.
“Indeed, and for that we are grateful,” Sif added, throwing Loki a reproaching look lest he decide to contradict the claim. “We fought the dragon bravely, but its might was too powerful for us to conquer.” Her voice was strong as she spoke. Sif had her fierce warriors pride, no one here would ever refute it, but her friends had saved her life, saved her from her own foolish folly, and Sif found no shame in admitting her gratitude for that. Her own shame lay only in her weakness of the heart and mind, not in her strength and battle prowess.
“Well brother, I hope you have learnt your lesson and you do not try seeking out such a prize on your own again.” Thor reprimanded Loki. His words and voice may have been curt, patronising, but all here knew the concern and affection Thor held for his brother and the reason for the command.
Sif was well aware that Loki knew it too and it helped still his own tongue. Though the quick look he threw in her direction made her realise the deeper reason behind his actions. He was covering for her and Sif felt yet more weight on the burden she owed Loki for his help this night. Especially considering how much further it went than just her own ability as a warrior to protect herself.
Instead Loki just rolled his eyes and looked out across the clearing towards the wreckage. In their chatter, the giant dragon had gone unnoticed and as Loki looked closer, he instinctively stepped backwards, away from the beast. “I think you may have to hold your own words, Thor. It seems the dragon is too strong even for the might of the great Thor and Mjölnir.” Loki’s voice may have been mocking, somewhat pleased with himself, but he deeply wished there was no occasion for it. As resentful as he may be, he would have gladly traded several millennia of mocking from Thor to the sight he saw before them now.
The dragon had not been still for long. With its enemy distracted, it had surreptitiously wielded its magic, healing its wounds until it was now able to stand once again. The six Asgardians turned towards it slowly, their faces growing pale as they stepped backwards and closer together, away from the great beast that was slowly starting to move towards them.
“You might be needing this,” Fandral shouted, before throwing Sif her sword. She caught it deftly, the cool metal of the hilt feeling like a second skin in her grasp. Clutching it tightly, she turned around with her friends as they prepared to fight the great dragon looming over them once more.
I hope you enjoyed the chapter and that you come back to read more. As ever I would love to know what you think.
As for the mild cliffhanger – well, you didn’t think it would be that easy for them to kill the dragon, did you?;-)
As the fierce dragon approached them, Thor was the first to act. He threw Mjölnir at the great beast and his aim was near perfect. It charged through the air and the ancient carvings etched within its surface shimmered in the eerie light illuminating the clearing. It struck the dragon on its brow, knocking it backwards several feet, but the dragon had seen the attack coming and had braced itself against the full power of the hammer. Its sharp claws sunk deep into the earth and its wings widened, keeping itself balanced and away from the dangerous wreckage of trees behind it. The magical hammer returned swiftly towards its wielder and Thor already held his arm back, ready for another attack. The moment the hammer reached his hand, he threw it once again at the beast. But the dragon was a fast learner. Its sickly yellow eyes tracked the movement of the hammer and as it came closer towards its head, it quickly brought its strong, thick tail around to intercept the weapon. There was a deafening crash as the hammer collided with the spiked tip of the dragon’s tail and was knocked off course. It went through the trunks of five thick trees before Thor could summon the hammer back, each toppling over and adding to the macabre destruction of broken tree limbs littering the clearing.
Immediately, Thor tried again, throwing his prize weapon with all his strength at the dragon in front of them. It brought down at least twice as many trees before it returned to Thor, the dragon knocking it aside now as if it were a mere training weapon. Thor’s roar was almost as loud as that of the dragons as he tried once more to throw Mjölnir at their enemy. His anger and frustration were poured into the strike and it flew towards the dragon so fast not even Loki could follow its movements. But the dragon again was ready. This time, it knocked Mjölnir back towards them, sending the powerful hammer spinning out of control and the Asgardians barely had chance to jump out of its path. It had already decimated several more trees behind them before Thor was able to bring it under control and once again within his grasp.
The other Asgardians had watched, their own weapons held out ready and waiting for their chance to join the fight. Seeing his brother about to throw the weapon once more at the dragon though, Loki quickly intervened, “I do not think it is working, brother!”
Thor glared briefly at Loki, bringing his arm further back and preparing for an even mightier throw. It was incredibly rare that his weapon failed him and he had grown too dependent upon it to give up so easily.
“Thor!” Sif shouted, “Loki is right!”
“You are only making it worse, brother!” Loki hissed.
Thor looked between his brother and friend, at the dragon snarling at them and at the pile of broken trunks and twisted roots lying all around before he nodded and dropped his hand. “Then we shall do this the old fashioned way!” He glanced back towards his friends, “Are you with me?”
“We never actually left you, Thor,” Loki replied sarcastically, rolling his eyes at his brother’s theatricals. Thor ignored him and raised his hand high, Mjölnir flashing in the eerie light and calling his friends to arms.
“We have faced worst foes.” Fandral replied lightly, smiling at them all before turning his attention back towards the great beast.
“Indeed, it is not anywhere near as big as that troll we brought down in Nidavellir.” Volstagg agreed, his voice as carefree.
“I do not think we should underestimate this foe.” Hogun warned, his voice graver than usual.
“You worry so, Hogun. This beast looks easy enough to kill.” Fandral smiled at them all again, holding his sword loosely in his hands.
“But its strength outmatched Mjölnir,” Thor muttered, uncharacteristically sullen and quiet. Though his face was brave, fierce and every inch a warrior of Asgard, he sounded unsure and that was a rare thing for Thor in any fight. Sif glanced at him anxiously; saw the way he clutched tightly to his weapon and shifted slightly on his feet. His unease contradicted his outward confidence and the fact that even the great God of Thunder was troubled made Sif nervous. And there was little she could do or say to placate her friend’s worry. Too many times had the great beast tricked and defeated her this night, too close had she come to dying at its hands.
“Aye!” Sif agreed, her tone serious as she tried to warn her friends. “It is no ordinary beast, Fandral. Do you not think myself and Loki could defeat it if it was?” She glared at the blond Æsir, challenging him to try and contradict her and her battle prowess. Fandral knew better than to rise to the bait and Sif continued, glancing again at the dragon, “See how it watches us, Fandral, waiting for the right moment to attack.”
At her words, the Asgardians all focused their attention again on the great beast. It had been studying them silently, recovering from Mjölnir’s blows and maintaining its distance, measuring up these new threats. Already it looked confident, arrogant and, seeing it once more held their focus, it began to slowly stalk towards them.
“It has magic. It will not be easily defeated.” Loki glared at his friends in caution, backing away as they all did as the great beast approached. He had been distracted from much of their conversation, anxiously searching the undergrowth for his throwing knives. He knew well enough what the dragon was planning, saw its deep, measured breathing and smug expression; it was preparing to breath fire once more and they would not have much time. “Has anyone seen my knives?”
“Loki! I do not think now is the time for any silly….” Thor began, but Loki quickly cut him off.
“Where are my knives?”
Sif caught the urgency in Loki’s voice and quickly began scanning the clearing.
“Is it really necessary…” Fandral began.
“Shut up and look for them,” Sif snapped back. She remembered all too well the painful, searing heat of the dragon’s flames and knew Loki’s knives would be their only chance. And she did not have time to explain. “The dagger, Loki, can you use that.”
Loki nodded and she saw his lips move in a quick spell. Almost immediately, a bright flash of emerald light glimmered briefly in the undergrowth. The dragon saw it too, its eyes quickly turning towards this new threat. It was on the other side of the beast, lying in the middle of a fallen tree, the roots forming a prison around the weapon.
“Cover me!” Sif shouted at her friends, before she began to walk carefully towards the dragon, skirting around the edge of the clearing.
“Sif, wait!” Loki shouted after her, starting to follow.
Sif glared at him and shook her head. She was far closer to the fallen dagger and far better armed to defend herself. She continued forwards, sparing the second prince no more attention. She had to find the dagger.
“But why do we…” Volstagg started to ask.
“The dragon breathes fire!” Loki shouted back, annoyance pouring into his voice. Loki knew there was little time to explain, but he had to make them understand if he wanted their assistance. “Only a short blade lodged deep in its throat will stop it!”
“Ah,” Fandral, Thor and Volstagg replied in unison, their confused, slightly irritated expressions softening into understanding. Hogun just nodded, his mace already held ready in his hands, the spikes extended and glistening in the unnatural light.
“So, unless you would like to be burnt to a cinder, I suggest we try and help Sif.” Loki’s voice was somewhat dripping in scorn, but it was still enough of a rallying call to his comrades. They glanced quickly at Sif before focusing again on the enemy before them. She was heading slowly around the clearing, the dragon watching her every move as she approached cautiously. The beast was wary and Loki could see it begin to move towards her, its mouth opening, ready to release an eruption of scorching yellow flames.
The other Asgardians saw it too and they suddenly all charged as one towards the great beast, century’s worth of battles fought and won flooding through their veins and commanding their instincts. Long had they fought together in a group and now each took their place in attacking the great beast and distracting its attention away from Sif.
“Aim for the weak points!” Loki shouted as they lunged towards it, “The legs and wings and between the scales.”
The dragon’s attention quickly turned towards them, but it was too late for it to attack. Thor brought his hammer up towards the dragon’s face, catching it squarely across its neck and knocking its great head upwards so the flames were released high above them. The heat still scorched their skin, but they were unperturbed and continued their attack. The spikes on Hogun’s mace sunk deep into the front leg of the dragon, causing it to tilt off balance and still its movements. Hogun wasted no time and brought his mace down upon its other front leg, weakening it further. Fandral’s sword aimed for the dragon’s wings, the blade stripping through the thinner skin between its muscle and sinew. As the dragon brought its claws around towards his attacker, Fandral was quick to retreat and easily slipped away, aiming for its second set of wings. The sharp blade of Volstagg’s axe hacked into the thick skin around the dragon’s chest, sliding it skilfully between the scales so it pierced the flesh and further weakened the great beast. It whirled around the clearing, its body withering in agony as the Asgardians attacked. Its roars of pain echoed around the clearing and reverberated through the veins of each of them. The noise was horrific, but still they fought on, weakening the beast and distracting it as best they could.
Without his own weapon, there was little Loki himself could do, but he carefully dodged the swings of the dragon’s arms and used what little magic he had strength left to wield to rain a serious of blasts at the dragon. They caused little pain, but they helped to keep the dragon distracted. His main focus was on that of his comrades and he issued instructions as they fought. “Aim for its head, Thor!” Loki shouted at his brother as the dragon lurched forwards. “Hogun, try and take out his back legs.” His friend nodded and slipped around the great beast, aiming his mace at the hind legs. “Fandral, Volstagg!” Loki shouted, “The gaps between the scales on its arms, aim for those.”
His friends followed his instructions and Loki was glad they had finally chosen to listen to him. He had already fought this beast and knew its weak points well by now. He also knew its strengths and knew that though their blows were fierce and vicious, it would not be enough. They had only been attacking it a few minutes and already it was learning their tricks and techniques, deflecting Hogun’s mace and Volstagg’s axe, catching hold of Fandral’s sword and trying to wrestle it from his grasp. Even Mjölnir was unable to keep the dragon at bay, each blow from Thor only stopping it momentarily.
Loki knew he had to find his knives or Sif’s dagger if they ever wanted to defeat this great dragon. He risked a brief glance at the shield maiden; saw her still trying to find her way past the great bulk of the dragon so she could reach the dagger. Her eyes were searching anxiously across the wreckage of trees, looking once more for a sight of the precious weapon. The words of the spell whispered once more from his lips and he saw the enchanted emeralds within the dagger’s hilt glowing briefly again, saw Sif once more focusing on it and memorising its correct position. He wanted to help her, to run to her aid and find the dagger, or at least keep it glowing brightly. But he had too little strength and magic left, no weapons left to attack or defend with. His only hope now lay in keeping the dragon distracted so he quickly turned his attention back to his comrades.
It was a moment too late. He saw the great tail come hurtling towards them and his cry of warning was lost in the cacophonous noise of the fight. They had been too absorbed in the attack; they did not hear his cry or see the great mass of thick muscles and scales swinging closer. It struck each of them in turn, its great bulk circling around the length of its body. First it hit Hogun, knocking his mace across the clearing and stopping his blow from reaching the hind legs of the beast. Then Fandral and Volstagg were knocked by the huge tail, the sword and axe left buried deep within the dragon’s flesh. Only Thor, with his magical connection to Mjölnir could keep hold of his weapon as he was struck last, before he ever had chance to realise the fate of his friends.
The blow sent them all careering backwards across the empty space of the clearing, only stopping when they collided with the torn trunks and broken branches of the trees. Their boughs gave up the fight and crashed down towards the Asgardians, trapping them within their fallen branches and inflicting yet more injuries on their prisoners, as if in retaliation for the destruction they had brought this night.
Only Loki was spared; his own experience in fighting this dragon and his natural fighting strategies of deflection and evasion meaning his reflexes were quicker than those of his friends. Even so, he had only just managed to escape the path of the dragon’s tail and now he looked at his friends and brother in shock. They were moving slowly, clumsily, their gazes unfocused and unaware of the danger now facing them. For the dragon wasted little time. No longer distracted, it once more focused its energy on its chest, drawing in the air around the clearing in a deep breath, before opening its mouth wide, fangs dripping in saliva and blood as it prepared to release its deadly flames once more.
And all Loki could do was watch in increasing horror, for he did not have enough magic left to protect them from the dragon’s onslaught for long. And scattered about as they were, he would have to choose but one… He raised his arms and with a silent apology to his friends, he focused what little magic he had left upon his brother.
Thanks for still reading and sorry for yet another long wait. I definitely will try to update all my Sif/Loki stories more often now.
Hope you’re still enjoying the story and the action is still exciting! It’s definitely not an easy dragon to defeat is it? But then, where would the fun be in that! ;-)
Thanks for still reading. I am sorry for the delay, but I definitely plan to update the story much quicker next time!
I hope you enjoy this (hopefully) action packed chapter!
The battle continued to rage behind her, but Sif could spare it little attention. She had to find that dagger. The emerald glow had faded now, but she could still place its location and she did her best to reach it. But the giant beast was between her and the prize and try as she might, she could not find her way through. Whenever she stepped towards it, her sword raised high for protection, the thrashing tail of the dragon barred her way. Its sharp spike would rear towards her, lashing out as the beast fought her comrades. Sif would be forced to jump back, out of its way and retreat again. She tried a larger circle around the dragon, coming almost to the wall of trees at the edge of the clearing, but it was no good. Her friends were fighting the dragon with honour and valour, but their attacks merely drove the great beast backwards and forwards, its tail spinning around in defence and preventing Sif’s passage.
The woods were her next bet and she widened her circle, slipping between the thick trunks. If she could find her way around the beast, under the protection of branches, she may just have a chance. But the moment she stepped fully under their camouflage, all light was lost to her. She could not see even the sword in her hand. It was as if all light had been leached from the forest and not even the brightness of the clearing could penetrate through. Even the sound was disorientating here, echoing around her so she could not be sure from where it came. She could hear Loki’s shouts of instruction, Thor’s grunts as he threw Mjölnir and the clash and clatter of steel as the Warriors Three aided them. But it was if she was submerged under water, the noises distorted and distance, reverberating around the unyielding might of the trees.
The blackness all around was unnatural and Sif could only suppose it another trick of the sorcerer dragon. And a devious one at that, for Sif could not see her way forward. She tried a few steps, but a gnarled tree root grabbed her ankle and she was sent sprawling to the ground. She landed hard, unexpectedly and only a few centuries of battle training enabled her to keep hold of her weapon. She stood up warily and was faced with yet another problem. She was disorientated by her fall. She could not fathom which way to travel. Was the dagger to her left or to her right? Maybe if she continued forwards… She managed to prevent herself from tripping over another tree root, but the near fall stilled her movements. She had been lost in this dark forest before and had let herself be led right into the Dragon’s trap. And she would not do so again. How her friends had found them in the clearing, Sif did not know, but she would find no easy pathway through here. The dragon’s magic was too strong.
Her sword swung in an arc of frustration, disturbing the leaves on the lower branches. The sound, so close by, drew her attention and with it, her focus. She swung her weapon again, harder this time as she slashed through the foliage. Their strange symphony helped drive away the distortion in her ears and helped clarify the noises around her. The distant, echoing shouts of her friends and the roar of the great beast seemed louder to her left. Warily she stepped in that direction and the sound grew in volume. A few more cautious steps and she could make out the words of Loki as he issued his instructions and differentiate between the sound of hammer, sword, axe and mace.
Two more steps and light once more flooded her vision, the sound crashing into her ears as she reached the clearing. Her friends were still fighting the great beast and she spared them a quick glance. Already she could see that time was of the essence. The dragon was already learning and anticipating her friends’ attacks. It easily parried their blows and Sif knew well enough it would not stay in defeat for long. There was a rush of triumph in its eyes as it began to gain the upper ground against her friends. She had to get to that dagger. Soon.
But where did the dagger lie? Was it trapped within that wreckage of trees, or the one beside it? Sif’s eyes searched fervently for the precious weapon, but it remained hidden from view. Suddenly, she saw a flash of green in the second carnage of fallen branches. Sif could not resist a quick glance at her helper, but already Loki had turned away, once more aiding their friends. She pushed down the sudden tightness in her chest and forced herself to focus on her mission. She had to find a new way past the great bulk of the dragon. She stepped forwards once more and saw the giant tail swing around the clearing towards her. Sif managed to leap out of its path, but her friends were not so lucky. Sif watched helplessly as the dragon scattered them across the clearing.
It was in that moment that Sif saw her chance. She pushed down her instinct to help her friends and the brief, guilty relief that Loki himself had been spared, and wasted not a moment. She ran the short distance to the dagger, stopping only momentarily as the thick tail swung towards her, unexpectedly close as the dragon moved across the clearing towards her friends. Sif quickly dropped into a roll, her sword held carefully out of the way. The dragon’s tail still loomed over her, but she was close enough to the ground to miss it and she quickly reached the small prison of branches where the dagger was held captive.
She could see the blade now, its metal glistening in the eerie light of the clearing, but it was too far within the barricade of branches for Sif to reach. She cursed under her breath as her shoulder blade became momentarily trapped within the fallen canopy. Carefully, Sif brought her sword up and slipped it through the tightly woven branches. Her first attempt knocked the dagger further away and Sif cursed again in frustration. She was quickly running out of time. She forced her hand still, forced her sword slow and managed this time to push the dagger forwards with the tip of the blade. The moment it was in reach, Sif grabbed hold of its hilt and jumped to her feet. “Loki!”
He turned towards her immediately, the green flames of his magic building between his palms. It disappeared in an instant when he saw the light gleaming off the small blade in her hand. He nodded quickly and Sif threw the dagger across the clearing. The emeralds in the hilt blazed and Loki’s catch was perfect. The moment it reached his hand, he threw it at the dragon and whispered a quick spell that the blade would find its mark. It was not necessary. The great beast had swung its head towards him at Sif’s shout. But it had remembered its nemesis too late and the dagger flew towards it; the trajectory perfect and the dragon’s throat laid bare. The sharp blade sank in deep between the scales, piercing its throat and preventing it from breathing fire.
Its roar of pain and anguish was deafening as it lunged towards Loki, but he was already prepared for the dragon’s blow. He had spied Hogun’s mace in the undergrowth just moments ago and as he jumped away from the dragon’s claws, he reached for it in the grass. A mace had never been his weapon of choice, but he could handle it well enough and now he used its heavy weight in his favour. He swung the great weapon around and it collided with the dragon’s head that was rearing down towards him. It knocked the great beast backwards and forced the dagger in deeper, hiding the enchanted emeralds from view. He saw a flash of metal as Sif came up behind him and sank her sword deep into the dragon’s chest, slipping it deftly between the scales. The dragon growled and tried to reach towards the blade, but its clumsy claws could not find any purchase on the buried hilt.
“So that is why Loki needed the dagger.”
Sif spun around to see Fandral coming up behind her, his movements a little unsteady after his recent collision with the trees. He reached down and pulled his sword from the undergrowth and juggled it between its hands, appraising it for any sign of damage. “I wondered why my long sword would not be enough.”
“Nothing will be enough if we do not act soon,” Hogun remarked grimly, appearing from behind Fandral. He seemed to fair better than his comrade and quickly tossed Loki the throwing knives he had found buried amongst the undergrowth. Loki repaid in kind, handing the warrior his heavy mace. Sif looked anxiously towards the most recent wreckage of trees to see Volstagg still trapped within their prison. Already though, Thor was using Mjölnir to break the barricade of fallen branches and release his friend. The Crown Prince held his hand out to Volstagg, helping the warrior to his feet.
Sif’s relief at seeing her friends safe was short lived, for the dragon wasted no time now. It roared before it rushed towards her and Loki, ignoring her injured friends as it focused on its older and most bothersome of foes. But her friends did not ignore it. Volstagg was quick to find his axe and Mjölnir once more circled around Thor, gaining speed. They all attacked the dragon as one, an unbreakable tide of movement as the war cry of the Ǽsir spilled from their lips.
Loki was the first to strike, his throwing knives finding their target perfectly, each sinking deeply into the eyes of the beast. It roared in pain, but was unable to use its magic to recover, for already the Ǽsir were attacking, their weapons cutting deep. Its cries of anger and pain no longer filled Sif’s heart with sympathy, no longer could she see the face of the Loki it had pretended to be within. Too many times it had tried to kill her this night and now it had turned its rage and hunger onto her friends. That she could not forgive. The only mercy she could spare this beast now was a quick death, but none was forthcoming. The dragon still fought on; trying to attack and parry blows it could not see. It was only when Mjölnir struck a particularly hard blow across the dragon’s chest and Loki’s magic struck the wound a moment later that the dragon seemed to finally acknowledge its defeat. The sound it unleashed was unlike anything Sif had ever heard. It seemed as if the very earth was being torn asunder and the cacophony of noise ripped from the very depths of Hel itself. The ground shook with its ferocity and Sif had no choice but to cover her ears lest she be deafened.
The horrific roar stopped as unexpectedly as it began, but it had been enough to distract her, to distract them all. She saw it the moment Loki did, and that was a moment too late.
It foes were scattered all around, but that did not perturb the dragon, for its greatest enemy was clear. In one final act of defiance, it swung its giant tail around towards the second prince.
“Loki!” Sif screamed as she saw the great mass of the tail collide with Loki’s chest.
Once again, Loki found himself careening backwards across the clearing. He struck the tree with a hard, painful blow and it knocked his head back with an audible snap. It was one blow too many for himself and the tree he had collided with. Its battered trunk finally snapped in half with a deafening crack and its canopy raced down towards him. He did not have chance to utter any spell of protection before a thick branch struck his head. He was vaguely aware of a female voice calling his name and he whispered a quick prayer to Yggdrasil that Sif would be safe. Then, the blackness swam across his eyes and he drifted into unconsciousness.
“Loki!” Sif screamed again as the great bough of the tree crashed down upon him. Her first instinct was to race towards him, but the great dragon barred her way. Anxiously, she searched for another way to reach him, but before she had chance, a sudden dazzling light flooded the clearing. It centred on the dragon and quickly grew brighter and brighter. Sif had to close her eyes and cover them to try and force its blinding light away. For a moment, there was nothing but the brightest and most vivid of yellows filling her closed eyes. Then, suddenly, it had gone. She blinked her eyes a few times, clearing away the afterglow for she could not believe what she saw.
The clearing was now dimly lit by moonlight, but it was enough for Sif to see that it was empty. The great bulk of the dragon had gone.
“Where is it?” Thor’s loud, angry voice rang around the clearing.
Sif jumped around to see him standing behind her, spinning Mjölnir around in his hands in agitation. Her friends were next to him and they too were looking around for the dragon, some anxiously, some in irritation. Yet even as their eyes peered keenly between the thick trees that still remained standing and the wreckage of those lying in devastation, they remained perplexed. It was difficult to see what lay concealed between their twisted limbs and the threat of the dragon hiding loomed over them still.
The strange eerie light that had lit the clearing was gone though, replaced by a silvery moonlight which made the carnage all around look strangely beautiful. The natural light looked almost foreign to Sif, so accustomed had she become to the strange yellow magic of the dragon filling her vision. It occurred to her briefly that this may be an illusion, another trick of the dragon as it fought for a new way to survive. But where could the dragon be hiding? And why did it not attack now, when they were all distracted?
“It is gone,” Hogun answered the crown prince’s question with conviction, though his voice was even grimmer than usual. If this was their victory, it was a hollow one, for where was their fallen nemesis? The dragon was still free and neither Loki’s magic nor their weapons had been able to fully defeat it.
It was Hogun’s words that were the final conformation to Sif that the dragon had indeed vanished and her eyes did not play tricks. Yet the adrenaline still flooded through her veins and she gripped tighter to her sword. She could not rest and a gnawing anxiety spiralled around her mind as her thoughts turned unwittingly to the second prince. The first blow he had taken had been severe, the second Sif feared had knocked him unconscious. Or worse…
Her eyes searched apprehensively around the clearing, but there was no sign of him. In the silvery moonlight the wreckage of branches appeared the same and Sif could not be sure where he had fallen. She was about to begin a more thorough search, her feet already about to move, when Fandral’s irritated voice filled the clearing. “Well it cannot have gone far!” His sword shifted from hand to hand, as did the weapons of her friends, none of them able to rest with so shallow a conquest.
“It will be long gone by now.”
All five Asgardians spun around at the sound of Loki’s voice, Sif’s eyes the quickest. Loki was slowly standing up, his movements shaky and he had to reach out towards a branch to steady himself. There was a thin trail of red running down his forehead and he whipped it away quickly. His voice was hoarse, but steady and he began to climb over the remains of the fallen tree towards them.
Sif’s relief was difficult to hide, but she dug her heels in and clenched her fists. She knew Loki would skirt any aid now, his careful and slow movements showed her that. And with her relief came the growing awareness of just how she had acted towards him this night. Sif knew she must be careful, for she could not afford any more revelations about her feelings for the second prince.
Thor had no reason to hide his relief, or any qualms or knowledge of ruining his brother’s pride. “Brother, are you alright?” He stepped towards Loki and was about to embrace him, but stopped himself in time. Instead he quickly appraised his brother for any severe injuries.
“I am fine, Thor!” Loki swatted another trickle of blood from his forehead and stepped more purposefully into the clearing. Sif could not miss the flicker of pain in his eyes though, and she stepped towards him instinctively, needing to assess his injuries herself. He looked to be in an appalling shape; his clothes were torn and tattered, muddy and speckled with green and red stains. Underneath the soot and mud, cuts from the branches covered his face, running into blistering, burnt skin and Sif could already see bruises spreading around his eyes, his forehead swelling. He was safe though, breathing and talking and Sif knew any injuries he would heal soon enough, when his magic returned. The dragon’s final blow must not have been as fierce as it intended.
Sif wondered then how her own appearance faired. She could feel her own bruises forming, her muscles and bones aching from the fighting, weary now the adrenaline was beginning to drain from her veins. Her own clothes were ruined and blood stained, her skin still bristling from the dragon’s scorching flames. Yet there were no broken bones or deep gashes and Sif was grateful they were all relatively unscathed. But the relief at defeating the dragon did not sit as easily in her bones as did her relief at seeing Loki and her friends safe. There was a strange disquiet in the air. A faint whispering as the wind shared its indecipherable secrets with the trees, rustling between their decimated boughs and enduring leaves. It was a strange, eerie sound, one that could only be heard from a distance, once focused upon it shifted and changed, dancing away like the memories of a dream. There seemed to be a shadow here too, a strange presence as fleeting as the whispers, only visible from the corner of her eye. She thought she heard a cackle of laughter, so familiar yet foreign to her. Yet when she whipped her head around towards the sound, it was gone. Instead, she found herself looking straight into Loki’s eyes. They were watching her, almost shrewdly. She looked away quickly, hoping the mud and soot on her face would hide the sudden rush of blood to her cheeks.
Sif gripped her sword tighter, the strangeness in the air unsettling her. Unsettling them all, for they all held their weapons out, prepared, their bodies tense and alert as they fell automatically into battle formation. Only Loki looked relaxed, and Sif wondered anxiously how much he was trying to hide away the pain from his injuries.
“Now that you are safe with us, brother, we must track down this beast and slay it!”
“Aye, the sooner the better, before it attacks again!” Volstagg agreed quickly, his sharp reply belying his own nervousness.
“We will not find it, brother.” The atmosphere in the clearing seemed to shift again, the unsettling feeling dimmed, as if it were being reined in. The moonlight grew brighter, like a cloud withdrawing from the moon. The weapons stilled in their hands, the whispering growing fainter. “It will be gone by now, Thor.”
Loki turned towards them all, addressing them as he continued, “It will have fled to its lair, far away from here.”
“But we cannot just leave it to attack other unsuspecting travellers!” Thor argued.
“We have no choice!” Loki countered, his voice taking on a shrill note, sounding almost panicked. He paused and Sif watched him carefully in concern. He looked slightly uncomfortable, awkward, as if he was hiding something. Sif felt her anxiety for him grow, worried his injuries were worse than he had acknowledged. Yet she knew better than to comment and Loki continued, his voice calmer now, though edged with weariness and vexation. “The dragon is gone, Thor, and we do not know where. This is the dragon’s forest and it will have laid many a trap to thwart us even as it fled.”
“And so we are to return to Asgard empty handed?” Thor asked, “Whilst there is still so dangerous a beast alive?”
“We have no chance of finding it tonight.” Loki sighed as Thor continued to glare at him, his expression hard and resolute. “If you are so determined to find this dragon, brother, we will fair better on the morrow, when we can search in daylight.”
“And when the dragon has had chance to recover!” Thor argued.
“And when we have had chance to recover ourselves!” Loki’s voice had risen again, the tone harsher. It softened as he continued, once more addressing them all, as if to garner their favour. “All of us have suffered injuries tonight and we all need a good nights rest to recover.”
“But we must attack now, when the dragon is weak!” Thor countered angrily, Mjölnir starting to spin agitatedly in his hands once more.
“And get lost? It will do us no good traipsing around this haunted forest, following a non-existent trail!” His voice had grown shrill again, frustrated and almost fierce, panicked. Loki stopped, took a deep breath and weighed his next words more carefully. Sif watched him considering his brother, saw his fingers clench and release repeatedly in frustration. She felt the atmosphere in the clearing shift again, felt an eerie calmness descend. Eventually Loki replied, his voice forced calmer, “You must understand Thor. If we are to find this beast, we have to wait until dawn. To continue on now would be foolhardy.”
“Then fools we should be! How can we rest when such a dangerous creature stalks our camp and threatens our safety and that of our people?”
“But I cannot find any trace of the dragon, Thor. There is no magical path we can follow through this dense forest. We would truly be travelling blind!”
His voice had taken on a firmer tone again and Sif was surprised by Loki’s response. It was not unusual for the brothers to fight, but it was unusual for Loki to reveal such barely concealed frustration and anger. And it was not like him to admit any failing, especially not where his magic was concerned. A thread of suspicion kindled with anxiety began to thread through her mind. After herself, Loki had the most ground for revenge against their nemesis, yet he seemed determined to convince them to leave the dragon be. She turned her attention towards him, watching him carefully, her muscles tensing instinctively in alert. Something was not quite right.
Loki saw her watching him, and once more his eyes fell on her. She held them this time in challenge, defying him to reveal the truth in his uncertainty. She refused to look away even as she saw a strange flicker of mischief in his eyes, a smirk tainted with something akin to malice flashing across his lips.
“The dragon has played many a trick on us tonight, Thor. Do you want to walk right into yet another one?” Whilst his words were aimed at his brother, Loki’s gaze remained fixed on her and she looked away then, the memory of the cruel trick the dragon had played on her, and Loki’s witness of it, coming unbidden to her mind. She could feel his gaze on her a few moment more, felt the triumph in his eyes and knew his smirk to be there, barely concealed. Sif busied herself with examining her sword, still unable to meet his eyes and trying not to think of what was to come. She would have to face Loki and what he had seen soon enough, but she had hoped to find him in a more charitable mood. His eyes now seemed alight with mischief at her expense. It unsettled her, a strange coldness creeping along her skin, under her bones.
“We cannot just give up, Loki!” Thor replied, seemingly unaware of any tension between his brother and his friend.
Loki’s gaze shifted from her then and almost immediately the strange, unsettling feeling vanished. Sif could only suppose it was fear filling her veins with worry. Was she not a warrior of Asgard? Such fears were for weaklings and Sif tried to shake the last of her anxieties away. She would face Loki soon enough and should he treat her unkindly, perhaps it would only increase her own feelings diminishing. Right now there was a more important dilemma to face, one Loki seemed determined to win.
“We will not give up, Thor.” Loki replied, his voice sounding hard and determined once more. “We will fair better in the light of day and after a night of rest.” He paused a moment, watching his brother carefully. He continued when he saw Thor’s face still gripped with determination. “It hunts at night, it will be weaker in the daytime and we will be able to catch it unawares. The dragon will expect us to follow him now.”
This time, Thor had no answering response and Loki’s gaze remained fixed resolutely on his brother. Sif felt the atmosphere in the clearing start to shift again, the eerie whispers of the wind growing momentarily louder and Thor’s hammer start to slow in its agitated movements. Sif herself remained silent, as did the Warriors Three. Centuries of conflicts had taught them well enough to leave the princes to fight their own battles of will. And Sif did not know what guidance to give. She agreed with Thor that the dragon should be stopped for good, for she knew full well how dangerous it could be. She would have died at its hands were it not for her friends aid and she did not wish to see the same fate befall someone less blessed. Yet it was unusual for Loki to back down from an adventure so readily, for him to admit even the hint of a failure. She could only ascertain Loki knew they truly had no hope of ever finding the beast.
Thor seemed to be approaching the same conclusion, for he stopped Mjölnir spinning entirely and took it determinedly in both hands. “Then we wake at dawn and hunt down this beast.” It was a command from the first prince of Asgard and no one, not even Loki, dared to contradict it. He turned on his heel and started to walk towards the thick trees, knowing his companions would follow. And indeed they did, sheathing their weapons and falling into step behind their prince.
Only Loki paused and Sif heard a loud sigh and a curse escape his lips, before he begrudgingly followed them. She quickened her pace, seeking as much distance from the second prince of Asgard as she could acquire. Now there was some respite from the danger, the full implications of her actions and what Loki had witnessed filled her mind with irrepressible dread. She cursed her own weakness, the feelings she preferred to keep buried deep in her heart. Yet it did no good. She was far too aware of Loki behind her, his large strides bridging the distance between them quickly. Centuries of fearlessly standing down her enemies on the battlefields could not silence the terror running through her veins then. Yet as Loki fell into step beside her, she had a feeling her greatest irrational, yet irrepressible fear was about to be exposed.
Hope you enjoyed reading the chapter. I am sorry yet again for the long delay. I really have got the rest of the story planned and will finish writing it as soon as I can – and as soon as the muse allows!
Thanks for still reading – it is very much appreciated.
The moment Loki came up beside her, Sif felt her heart start to beat erratically. She clenched her fingers tightly into fists and felt the sweat begin to pool within them. The adrenaline was starting to race around her body and for a moment, Sif wished they had chosen to seek out the dragon this night. Facing its scorching fire would be preferable to this.
Once again, Sif cursed herself and her own weakness, but it did no good. She was a great warrior of Asgard, she had fearlessly defeated countless enemies on the battlefields, yet she found herself unable to suppress the panic building within. Her heart was racing now and she could not settle. She wanted her blade and an enemy to fight, not Loki beside her and the uncertainty of what he would do or say. She herself said nothing, kept her eyes fixed straight ahead on her friends. A polite nod was all she had granted Loki when he had first fallen into step beside her. If he saw her discomfort, he made no comment and Sif did her best to keep her stride sure and purposeful, her expression hard and defiant.
Their way ahead was clearer now, a narrow trail winding through the trees. Its floor was thick with undergrowth and fallen branches, roots twisting upwards to catch unwary travellers off guard, but a distinct path nonetheless. From the confident way her friends marched ahead, Sif realised this was how they had found her and Loki before, that the magic of the dragon had hidden it from her view. Sif found herself wishing the path was less easy to navigate, for at least then it would grant her some distraction from the ordeal awaiting her.
Loki remained silent, but Sif was sure he was watching her, scrutinising her. Repeatedly she felt his gaze fall upon her face, but she did not dare look at him to check. It unsettled her further, increased the pounding in her head from her heart. She wished she knew what he was thinking, wished she could predict what was to come.
Facing an enemy was easy compared to this; then you could hold the steel more tightly in your fist, know there was only one of two outcomes acceptable; to win. There was no space for emotion, no time to be afraid. Only adrenaline and instincts and the need to fight and survive. This was something Sif had never been trained for. The embarrassment and dread she felt could not be so easily slain with a sword. Nor the shame that mingled with it. Shame that she had fallen so easily under the dragon’s spell, that she had let her own desires override her senses. And there was guilt too. Guilt that she had dragged Loki into her own downfall, had placed him in perilous danger. And that she had unwittingly relieved her true feelings for him. Sif was not accustomed to such emotions, and they unsettled her, simmering through her veins and replacing the adrenaline usually as familiar to her as a weapon. Her fingers clenched more tightly around her sword, every muscle within her wanting to fight, to run. Yet she kept her stride strong, her gaze fixed ahead. She would wait for Loki to make the first attack.
The distance from their friends was growing, their determined strides marching quickly ahead back towards camp. Yet Loki’s pace was slowing, separating them further from their friends. Her own stride had been falling to match, for she did not want to appear too eager to escape him. But the mounting distance between them and their friends unnerved her and it was not long before she lost her resolve and broke the restless silence, “We should hurry back to camp, Loki, if we are to find enough rest before dawn.”
She glanced his way as she spoke and her eyes caught his watching her. They were curious now, contemplative and any sign of the mischief and malice she had seen in them before was gone. She was not sure if this should worry her more, for she knew Loki well enough and the games he liked to play. She quickly looked away from him and focused once more on the path, quickening her pace subtly.
Loki paused before he responded, watching her for a few moments. Eventually he replied, “You are right, Sif. We should rest as soon as we can.” His pace became marginally quicker, but still the distance behind their friends was growing.
The silence once more consumed them until it became unbearable, yet Sif could not find any words to say. Staring ahead and avoiding his eyes was maddening and it took all of Sif’s warrior pride to keep pace with Loki and not rush ahead. She tried to busy herself with her sword, unsheathing it and examining it in the moonlight, hoping her actions did not betray her nervousness. As she occupied herself with cleaning the blade on her tunic, a thought suddenly struck her. She should have another blade, the dagger. In the chaos of the dragon’s disappearance she had quite forgotten about her precious weapon.
Sif paused in her footsteps and Loki mimicked her instantly. He turned towards her curiously and she quickly explained, “The dagger. I left it in the clearing.” She started to turn around, eager to retrieve her lost weapon and, she was not too proud to deny it, eager to delay any conversation with Loki.
As she started to head in the direction of the clearing though, Loki suddenly reached out and grabbed her wrist. His touched stopped her instantly in her tracks and she spun back around to face him.
“No!” His voice was high, panicked and it surprised her as much as his touch. He looked first anxiously at the hand wrapped around her wrist, then up into her eyes. They seemed to flicker strangely for a moment and Loki dropped her wrist as abruptly as he had grabbed it.
Sif lowered her eyes, followed the movement of his hand as it shifted awkwardly to his side, but she resisted the urge to step away. She could still feel the cool touch of his fingers on her wrist, a strange, unsettling shiver running up her arm. Her fists clenched, but she would not touch her wrist and try and rub it away.
Her expression must have shown her confusion and shock, for Loki explained hurriedly, “You cannot go back to the clearing. It will be too dangerous, Sif.”
The panic within his reaction surprised her. She could think of no reason to suppose danger still remained there. They were nearby and she only wanted to find her dagger. With the enchanted emeralds etched into its hilt, Loki’s magic would surely find where it lay.
She started to turn around again, when Loki exclaimed quickly, “The dragon may still be there!”
His words made her pause and she turned back towards him in confusion. “The dragon?” She asked in surprise. “You said it would be long gone by now.”
“I know,” Loki paused, looking uncomfortable for a moment, flustered and uncertain. He continued edgily, “I mean, I am sure it is gone, but…” He ruffled his hands though his hair, the long black strands falling unruly around his face, their ends beginning to curl. She watched them with a strange fascination, watched Loki, always so cool and collected and distant, begin to unravel before her. Sif’s earlier worries resurfaced, anxiety creeping into her mind. What pain and injuries was Loki trying to hide? He noticed her curious expression and stilled his hand. His face fell again into calmness, but it did not manage to reach his eyes. They flickered uncertainly, almost anxiously. “I may be wrong, Sif. The dragon may have concealed itself there whilst it recovers.”
Her eyes narrowed, “And yet you told Thor we should leave and wait until dawn?”
“And so we should,” Loki quickly argued, then sighed. It was not unlike the many he aimed in his brother’s direction and Sif felt her pride bristle. “We will fair better in the morning sun and I am sure it has long gone, returned to its lair to lick its wounds. But I cannot be certain.”
Sif still eyed him uncertainly, not believing in the danger as Loki did. She wanted the dagger in her hand, the cool metal against her fingertips. Yet how could she explain to Loki how precious it had become, when it had been he who had gifted it to her so long ago?
Loki must have sensed her uncertainly, for he continued, “It is too dangerous to venture back to the clearing, Sif. I may have been wrong and we already know we cannot fight it alone.” He glanced ahead at their friends, so far ahead of them now.
“We can search for it in the morning Sif.” He finally added when she still hesitated. His voice was low, soft and entreating and Sif felt a whisper of wind rush past her skin, a shift in the air around them. Yet the leaves remained still, not announcing the gentle breeze rising.
The wisdom in his words seemed clearer and Sif finally nodded. The dagger could wait until tomorrow; the risk was too great and unnecessary. She had her sword and though it did not fit in her boot or under her pillow, it was a comforting weight in her hands all the same. She knew she had little chance of finding the dagger without Loki’s magic, and could she really ask him to follow her into potential danger?
Loki nodded in kind, his relief obvious and it piqued Sif’s anxieties once more. She could only hope his injuries were not too severe, that it was fatigue and the draining of his magic that made him so cautious, made his behaviour so uncharacteristic.
Turning quickly from him, she sheathed her sword and began to stride ahead once more, keeping her eyes on the path in front of them. She was anxious to return to camp, for Loki to seek the rest he must so surely need and for the inevitable unveiling of the truth between them to be delayed.
Loki once more fell into step beside her and with no more distractions to consume her thoughts, once more they grew sombre and apprehensive. The air between them was growing heavy again, intense with all the unspoken truths and words. Yet Sif could not find any to break the silence. She tried to hurry their footsteps, eager to reach their friends.
They had not gone much further when Loki finally interrupted the disquiet between them, “I am anxious to reach camp, Sif, but…” He paused and halted his footsteps suddenly. Sif went a few more steps before she realised and was forced to stop and turn back towards him. “I was hoping I could speak to you.” He glanced at their friends, almost out of sight now, “Alone.”
A/N Thanks for still reading and I hope you're still enjoying the story. And I am sorry for the wait between the chapters. I know I always say this, but this time I really am going to try harder to update more often!
The last word Loki had spoken rustled across the path, echoing around her thoughts. The directness startled her and she felt her heart jump fitfully as a shiver of apprehension scurried along her veins. She glanced quickly at their friends, following his eyes as much in surprise as in distraction. They were so far away now, too distant to offer her any diversion. She clenched her fists before turning back towards him, ignored the sudden pounding in her blood and fixed her mouth in a hard, tight line.
He was watching her again, his eyes seeking hers in earnest. There was no doubt of what he wanted to discuss. Loki had seen the truth of her regard for him firsthand and there was no excuse Sif could give. Maybe Loki discovering her true feelings was inevitable, but she wished it had not proved to be so soon.
Yet there was nothing Sif could do or say then. She did not want to talk to him, not now, so soon after their ordeal. She wanted to leave him be and hurry to meet their friends. She wanted the safety of their company and the comfort of their camp. But she was a shield maiden of Asgard, trained to face her fears and stand tall against her enemies. She would not walk away and surrender to her weakness now. She would not back down from this challenge. Yet there was no challenge in Loki’s eyes, just wonder and curiosity, beseeching her to stay. And it had a far greater effect on her determination. Loki was asking her now as a friend, seeking to understand and placate the tension between them. And Sif could not deny him that. So she nodded at him to continue, but did not speak. She would let Loki lead this discussion; see what words he would utter and games he would play before she revealed any more truths to him.
It took Loki a while before he began, several times he seemed about to speak, but he uttered no words. When he did finally talk, his voice was weak, stuttered, “I wanted to…speak to you…because…I…I saw…” His voice trailed off timidly, his eyes flittering nervously between hers and the ground. His fingers twisted together, fumbling repeatedly and his feet were shuffling. His behaviour was uncharacteristic; flustered and edgy and it unnerved her. What truth was he so afraid to speak of?
Sif was under no illusions that he may reciprocate her regard for him, but she feared how he may treat her now. Would he scoff at her feelings, use them for his own mischief? She would not have believed it possible, but his malicious smirk in the clearing before still unsettled her... At least now his eyes looked gentle, whatever games he had planned must have been abandoned. Perhaps now he would be kind to her in whatever rejection he had planned. Maybe he would be more delicate with her, worry he was hurting her… That she could not abide. She was no delicate lady of the court and she would curse any who treated her as one.
The uncertainty of it was gnawing at her thoughts, kindling the fear in her blood until it became almost insufferable. She did not want to face him, to be forced to acknowledge that things between them would never be the same. Yet now that the time had finally come, she found her impatience overriding her reason. She wanted to know, now. Wanted to hear Loki reveal his own feelings, wanted to know exactly what truths she had to face. But long had she trained to keep her impatience at bay, and now she did her best to remain still, to keep her tongue silent and her feet firm on the ground. Her hand on the hilt of her sword clenched and her fingers tapped irritably, but that was the only outward sign she would show.
Eventually Loki managed to find his words again, but his speech was still slow, uncertain; stopping and starting as his silver tongue failed him. “I cannot…deny what I saw…Sif. I…I saw… When the dragon had taken my form, Sif… I… You were… You were kissing…him… Kissing who…who you thought was…well…me...”
The lack of eloquence and the directness of his words startled her. Her heart thudded unsteadily in her chest and Sif had to bite back her words and force her body to remain motionless. Loki seemed almost as nervous and unsure as she and that at least was a welcome relief from his characteristic smirk and gilded, often mocking words. His stalling was frustrating though, grating on her impatient until it became almost impossible to remain silent. But Loki still had the upper ground. He knew what he saw and there was little room for confusion in the truth and reasons behind it. Yet Sif was entirely in the dark and could not fathom what thoughts lay behind his words. His hesitancy was a blessing, but it gave her no indication of what to expect. So she remained silent. She would let Loki continue this strange, surreal conversation.
He seemed to be waiting for her response, but her lips remained in a tight, cold line, her eyes remained on his, defiant and emotionless. Her warriors face. After a few moments he continued. “Forgive me Sif, but…I… I have to ask… I… I am curious, Sif. If…if you were…aware…it was…well, me…or…whether the dragon had completely bewitched you.” His last words were rushed and now he averted his eyes from her face, shifted his gaze to the dense wall of trees around them.
A blink was the only response Sif gave, her warrior’s mask remaining firm. Yet her thoughts were still in turmoil. Could Loki really believe that? Think that Sif would only kiss him through powerful bewitchment? Or was he offering her an excuse, a chance to escape from admitting the truth? He had turned towards her again and his face looked at her in earnest, uncertain and confused and Sif continued to remain silent. She was not as clever with her words as Loki and she could not bring herself to either admit the truth, or deny it.
Loki was waiting for her to speak, watching her intently for any hint of an answer. His eyes were searching hers and Sif felt a strange unsettling shiver run down her spine and push into her thoughts. She ignored it, as she ignored the pounding in her heart and instead focused all her attention on trying to keep her head high and eyes hard. Involuntary, her fingers clenched tighter around her sword and Sif saw Loki’s gaze momentarily flicker towards it.
“Sif, I…” Loki began when Sif continued to watch him silently and coldly. “The reason I am asking, Sif, is because…” He paused then, swallowed thickly. He glanced along the path, empty now, their friends long out of sight. He turned back towards her and seemed about to speak again when he suddenly stopped, frozen in place. His eyes looked anxiously over her shoulder, into the dense forest beyond. His head tilted to one side, listening. Sif was about to look behind her to see what had caught his attention, when his face changed again. His gaze once more fell on her, but his eyes were harder this time, more determined and certain. They seemed to pierce right into her heart and Sif wondered if her eyes betrayed her. Could Loki see in them the turmoil within her thoughts and emotions? He stepped towards her and Sif avoided the impulse to move away, digging her heels into the ground.
The air around her seemed to shift again, growing thicker and heavier. It pushed against her mind and made it harder to breathe. A faint breeze slithered across her skin, prickling her nerves. Her instincts were stirring, tensing her muscles and preparing her for battle. She cursed her nerves again, ashamed of her weakness and tried to push away the anxiety growing within her mind. She could not back down from facing Loki now.
“Because I wanted to know…” As Loki spoke, he slowly moved closer towards her. His movements were hesitant, but his eyes remained fixed on hers, watching for any sign of a reaction. She gave none, forcing her face perfectly blank and her body still, but it did not dissuade him. “If you felt the same…” He continued to close the distance until there was barely an inch between them. “As I do…for you.” He was looking down at her when he finished, his eyes blazing into hers. His voice had become deeper too, still tentative, but with a heaviness to it that made Sif shiver.
She refused to show it though. She did her best to hide her feelings entirely. But she was finding it near impossible to breathe now, his closeness intoxicating. And the words he had spoken spun around in her thoughts. Could it really be true? Was Loki actually telling her that he reciprocated her feelings? She searched his eyes for any hint of mischief, any sign that he was just playing with her affections. But there was none. They were dark, intense and they burnt into her.
There was no hint of uncertainty in his actions now, her lack of movement must have told him more than any words could. He reached out a hand and gently brushed her cheek, following her jaw line and slipping slowly beneath her chin. This time, Sif cold not suppress her shiver and she saw a flicker of a smirk cross his lips. But she did not have the ability to analyse it now, to listen to her instincts gnawing at her to be cautious. For Loki was tilting her chin up towards his, leaning down towards her. When he spoke, his voice was a whisper against her cheek. “Tell me, Sif.” His other arm had slipped around her back, his hand running along her spine. His fingers reached her neck, caressing it tenderly before twisting gently in her hair. “Do you feel the same?”
Sif could not answer, but not for fear of revealing the truth. She could not answer because her breath was caught in her throat, the ability to speak stolen from her as her entire being focused on Loki. Focused on his eyes, so dark and intense and almost yellow in the moonlight. Focused on his breath as it tickled against her lips as he leaned down towards her. Focused on his fingers tilting her head up closer and still twisting in her hair.
At that moment, despite all her centuries on the battle field and training grounds, remaining strong and in control and emotionless as she stared down her foes, Sif was lost. A puppet on Loki’s strings. And his eyes were so intense upon her that she did not even have the strength of mind to care, to even wonder at how far she had fallen into his spell…
The moment her eyes flickered shut, Sif heard movement in the trees behind her. The sound of a twig snapping, of the trees rustling too discordantly for the wind. It broke through into her hazy mind and reminded Sif of where she was, what she was doing and the danger they were suddenly in. The noise could only mean one thing. The dragon had returned.