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The Witch of the Iron Wood

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The old hag of the Iron wood was one name they called her. The Mother of Wolves another story had called her. A witch of unspeakable horror and unknown power yet another tale had spun. And the Trickster god ever the curious one could not keep his own growing curiosity at bay. There was many different types of magic within the nine realms and he sought to learn as many of them as he could. Even if that meant chasing down rumors and old wives’ tales. The one thing he knew for certain was that the mortals dared not to tread upon the soil of the dreaded Iron Wood. But he was no mortal. What did a son of Odin have to fear?

A notion he would rethink the moment he found himself surrounded by unnaturally large wolves. All menacing and growling as they had him trapped from escape. Instinctively his hands hovered over his daggers, the beginnings of a spell crackling in the air but suddenly they stopped. Slowly they backed away, until turning to retreat. Confused he looked around, trying to figure out what had happened. It was then that he saw her. A woman...a giantess perhaps...standing taller than him, holding a wooden staff, with the most impossibly grey eyes he had ever seen. Her clothes made out of animal hide, though certainly not wolf, and her long dark hair completely unruly but not entirely unkempt. Despite her unrefined appearance, he found her to be a bewitching creature.

“Are you the fabled Mother of Wolves then?” He asked, schooling his face into a neutral expression.

She was silent a long moment, her grey eyes seeming to bore into him, beginning to make him feel uncomfortable, until she finally spoke.

“I am. And what do I owe the honor of this visit, Odinson?” She spoke, the harshness of her voice sending a chill down his spine.

His back stiffened the moment his identity slipped from her lips. It was surprising that she knew him, considering her woods were located in Midgard, far removed from the mortals who worshiped him and the others as gods.

“You know of me then.” It was more a statement than a question.

A small smirk found her lips as she replied, “And who does not know the fabled God of Mischief, Loki Odinson?”

A slight frown crossed his face at the tone of her voice, certain that she was mocking him, though he was loathed to say anything out loud and confirm that her words held any sway with him. However she didn’t wait for him to respond before she turned away and started walking deeper into the forest, whilst talking over her shoulder to him.

“You’re a long way from your golden city. I trust you have a reason for being here.”

Instinctively he followed after her as her behavior piqued his curiosity further. Just how much did she know of him and the rest of the nine realms? Midgard being the most primitive in terms of knowledge of all worlds, he had to wonder how she managed to know the small amount that she did. Though if she were truly a giantess, that might partly explained things. He certainly could feel the presence of the magic all around them as well. Which also meant that his quest had not been in vain. Since she existed, that meant it was only a matter of time before he managed to figure out a way to get her to teach him.

“I do. I had to see for myself if there were any truth behind the mortals’ tales.”

At his words, she stopped walking and turned to look at him, an amused expression on her face.

“Ah, so the Trickster has come to trick me out of my secrets, has he?” She asked, with a lift of her eyebrow.

“Not at all, I only come in hopes that you might share your knowledge with this loyal son of Asgard.” He replied, his honeyed words slipping from his lips smoothly.

Again she smiled, her eyes seemingly searching his face again as if she were trying to read his soul. Admittedly that gaze of hers, was slightly unnerving to him as it vaguely reminded him of the looks that Heimdall would give him on the rare occasion that he saw the gatekeeper.

“You must think me simple. Will you flatter next?” She asked, moving back to stand directly in front of him.

He looked up at her, she was definitely a good head or so taller than he, but he had little intention of letting their height difference get in the way of his personal quest. She was toying with him that much was obvious, but the fact that she had not sent him away or set her wolves upon him all but said he had a chance to win her over.

“You mistake my intent, dear lady. Is it truly so wrong to seek to expand one’s knowledge?”

She smiled yet again, before turning to walk away from him, her voice carried over her shoulder as she did so.

“You seek to expand your knowledge? Then you must prove you are willing to get your hands dirty, son of Odin. Not all magic is meant to be clean and distant.” She spoke simply, though her words conveyed her price and challenge to him.

A slow smile crept across Loki’s face as he watched her continue to depart. Perhaps the Witch of the Ironwood would be a challenge after all. A challenge he fully intended to accept.