Returning to Asgard was every bit the pain he had imagined. The distaste in Heimdall's gaze as they arrived on the ruined Bifrost. The stares and whispers as Thor dragged him through the streets. The cold seeping dread at arriving at the gleaming castle gates and knowing this was no longer home. The hallways themselves seemed to echo disdain.
He had feared they would take him directly to the dungeons deep in the bedrock below. There were things down there better not mentioned in the light of day. Things that had been imprisoned long, long ago. Some would say it would be a fitting place for a traitorous prince.
But no. Thor was a silent and stony presence behind him, herding him along. Their way led upwards and inwards. The throne room. He steeled his resolve and held his head high as his brother led him across the endless expanse of floor. At least Thor allowed him some small dignity and removed the hand around his arm, letting him walk on his own.
He did not let his gaze shy away from the old man on the throne, didn't let his eyes betray the surge of bile and anger and desperation and longing that crashed through him for an instant before he ruthlessly suppressed it all.
Odin. The greatest liesmith of them all.
The one blue eye was as piercing as always, but Loki knew he could deceive it, had done so before. He dragged anger and bitterness from his heart, wrapped it around him like a cloak. It was not he that deserved to stand here, chained and muzzled like a dog. Not he that had started the endless wheel of lies and deceit and betrayal. He would not bend his backs nor his knees to that man.
Silence filled the great hall.
Finally, Odin spoke, his voice low and heavy and filling the empty space of the room. ”My son.”
Loki's eyes flashed in denial.
Odin paid him no heed. ”My son. You have committed treason against house and hearth. Brought death into your very father's chambers. Fanned the flames of war, and laid ruin to two of the nine realms. You have lost your honour, my son.”
Had Loki had his voice, he would have roared in rage. Screamed that such a honourless being as Odin was ill suited to judge others. Asked why the lives of frost giants and mortals mattered one whit to the aesir.
But he was silenced, and so he stood there, back straight and muscles tense, staring stonily back.
Odin rose from his throne, slowly walking down the dais. His strength came with him, crackling the air around him, gathering like storm clouds. It pressed against Loki's mind like a living thing, snaking and twisting its way through the room.
With a deep, sad sigh – such profound feelings for this Jotun war trophy – heavy hands came to rest on his shoulders. ”You must face justice for that you have done. For the lives you have taken, for the chaos you have wrought.”
The one eye sought his and he hoped the King could read the contempt in his gaze.
It appeared he could, because Odin sighed again, pained, and his eye flickered briefly away, down. When it returned, there was steel in it.
Despite himself, Loki swallowed behind the gag.
”I cast you out, Loki Odinsson.” Power surged into Odin's voice until it boomed though the hall, making the very walls tremble. ”I take from you all I have given! You are no longer a Prince of Asgard.”
One hand, impossibly strong, tore the armoring off his coat. It disintegrated into the vortex of power building up around them, whipping the air into a frenzied, boiling whirlwind. He stumbled, but the merciless grip on his shoulder held him upright as Odin ripped into leather and metal both. The chains were wrenched from his wrists and thrown to the wind. The hateful muzzle went the same way. Loki could only scream as Odin's hand seemed to reach though flesh and bone, into the very core of him, and rip something out.
It was over as soon as it had begun. Retching and gasping, he fell to his knees, vaguely aware of Thor's agitated voice shouting behind him. Strong, callused hands came to support his shoulders and he swatted them away, glaring daggers.
His body felt like lead. It was an almost insurmountable task to struggle back to his feet. ”What have you done to me?”
Odin turned his back, started to walk away. ”I have deemed you unworthy.”
Loki seethed. ”I am not your subject, king of the Aesir.”
”That is not for you to decide.” Odin had reached his throne, and stretched out a hand to retrieve the spear leaning against it. Gungnir. Loki felt his mouth turn to ash.
The king turned, and suddenly he seemed old, a grief in his eyes that Loki could neither deny nor comprehend.
”Father!” It was Thor, stepping forwards, eyes seeking Odin. ”Spare him, father. He is still my brother. I implore you.”
I don't need your pity. The words was forming on Loki's tongue, but Odin forestalled him. ”Thor. I will not seek his life.”
Thor frowned, not wholly convinced, but Loki's eyes were drawn to the spear in Odin's hand. It crackled with energy, flashes of it appearing along the blade. Flowing lines of pure light.
Yet Loki saw no magic gathering around it, felt nothing caress his mind.
Realization of his loss hit him like a red-hot spear to the guts even as Odin raised Gungnir over his head and the flashes of light exploded to fill the entire room. Stunned, he could only stare as his father took aim.
”I cast you out! May the fates have mercy on you, my son.”
Somewhere, Thor was shouting again. All Loki could see was the radiance in Odin's hand, growing to fill his entire world. It hit him in the chest with the weight of a mountain and he fell, tumbling over and over again in the blinding light.