Before Balder is born, Svartalfheim makes war on Asgard. It is a fight championed by but a few and ultimately doomed to fail, but before Asgard’s victory is complete a Dark Elf assassin penetrates the defences and strikes a blow against the Queen.
It is a wicked little thing - a dart fashioned from mistletoe and spelled with dark magic. Loki works with Eir and her healers to end the sickness assaulting Frigga in such a way as to save her pregnancy, but while Loki knows much of magic he knows little of a healing and although Eir is a skilled midwife her knowledge of more obscure magic is limited. It takes several days for them to find success.
Loki is sitting with his brother when Odin comes to tell them the news: the Queen lives but Balder has perished.
“May we see her?” Thor asks immediately, standing as if ready to fight.
“She is very ill and it will be some time before she is strong enough for visitors,” Odin says heavily. “For now it is best if you both try to continue as you have before this - this tragedy.”
“Is there something you would have me do? Some task you would have me accomplish?” Thor begs.
“No, my son,” Odin says. “Just go - go and find something to bring you happiness. These are dark days and I would not have you trapped here in them. I will send word if I have need of you.”
His voice cracks. Loki rises, concerned, and reaches for his normally implacable father, but Odin pulls away before he can come close.
“I must see to the affairs of the realm,” he says in a strangled voice before he leaves.
Thor shouts with rage and strikes a wall. “I cannot bear this!” he rages. “I cannot sit here and do nothing!”
“Take your friends and go,” Loki suggests. “Find glory and treasures untold - you know how it cheers Father to hear of your adventures. You can bring back something nice for Mother.”
Thor considers this. “Yes,” he says, relieved. “Yes, you are right, brother. I will do as you say. Will you come with us?”
Loki shakes his head. “I have other paths to travel. Be strong, brother.”
Thor leaves, glancing back at Loki in concern as he does so. Loki smiles at him reassuringly.
As soon as his brother has left, Loki retreats to his chambers. Like his brother he desires action; his knowledge fell horrifyingly short and he must rectify his short-sightedness. The healing arts are to be practiced by women, especially when it comes to the issues particular to them, but it is clear that Loki cannot allow this gap in his knowledge to stand.
Research is called for. He must understand what his mother has gone through in order to understand how to prevent this from ever happening again.
A male healer will surely cause an uproar but Loki does not care. He takes a deep breath and prepares to leave.