Being one, Loki didn't particularly believe in gods, but he did believe in the power of stories. He had been entranced by them at his moth-- at Frigga's knee. Later, while preparing to be king, he eagerly consumed the tales not just of Asgard, but of every known world: Legends, fables, and folk tales, epic poems and historical song cycles, love ballads, myths, and morality plays. From these he had learned the following truth: that if there was a boisterous, bull-headed older brother and a bookish and pale younger brother, the younger would turn out to be the true king. He had seen this truth again and again reflected in many mirrors and metaphors: the clever second sister who wins the best husband, the deceptive younger brother who steals the birthright, the bullied runt of the household who is imbued with powerful magic. On every world, the stories told of intelligent, dark-haired younger children who proved superior to their lunkish, rough and hairy elder brothers, and while Thor was an excellent fellow in many ways, mostly involving drink, sport, and the creative use of his hammer, Loki had never had occasion to doubt whether his many hours of preparation for the throne would prove necessary.
He had consequently been roiled by the discovery that he was a son neither of Odin nor of Asgard; true, such revelations of ancestry were a common feature of the tales, but the son was always found to be a member of a superior race or a more noble family, not a subjugated one such as the Jotunn. He considered that perhaps the sons of the tales had also despaired upon discovering that they were magicians, or fairies, or French, but that that part had simply been left out of the tales. Yet he could not convince himself that he had been mistaken about the nature of the Jötnar; they were, he had long observed, monstrous: chaotic of soul and spirit, their philosophy incoherent, their music, worse. Beyond this, it suggested that he had for a thousand years been preparing himself for the wrong part: not the patient king-in-waiting of bountiful Asgard, but the long-lost heir to a barren world.
He could not accept such a grotesque fate. He meditated and calculated, and soon came upon a happier interpretation: it was a test. The very depth of his despair was proof positive of it; it would be in the nature of a test not to reveal itself as a test. A lesser prince, Loki decided, would yield to perceived destiny; he himself would not. He would prove himself the master of fortune. He would formulate a plan so cunning, so audacious, so bold in design and virtuosic in execution that it would show the All-Father that one could be thunderstruck by genius as well as by force. He would annihilate the Jotunn, and thus prove himself the truest son of Asgard; he would give Jotunheim to Odin as a gift, make of that ice-rock, a diamond for his father's hand.
The present was not well received. Loki was baffled, stung: in no tale did the king and prince take the part of their adversaries. It stabbed at him; it struck with the violence of revelation. He had been wrong: he was the villain of the piece. He was the changeling, the curse, the viper coiling at the breast of the great and generous. He had misread all the portents and signs. He was the black dog, the scorpion, the morning star, a falling star. He let go and tumbled into the void.
He remembered little of his time in the camp of the Chitauri, after his long falling; he spoke little to his hosts and spent much time sitting alone and staring down at his hands. Blackness clouded his thoughts; he could not reason. Simple calculations led to violence: bloody moons in his palms. He had been cast out; miscast. And yet he could take no comfort from this self-pity, for was he not a monster, ugly, prone to rages, a terror to children? Were his thoughts not as chaotic and unformed as those of any damned Frost Giant?
Were he a monster, he would then be a monster, a most excellent monster—and so he let his rage fall where the Chitauri's master wished to direct it, upon Midgard, a provincial backwater of trivial significance except that Thor rather liked it. It was a test run for the destruction of all things; an out-of-town debut for his new role as adversary.
But he hadn't anticipated how boring it would be. Oh, the chaos and explosions were fun, and the goal of absolute power was a worthy one, but the humans were worms: made of dust where he was of fire. The Avengers were the only life in the place, and when they ended his trial apocalypse, he was mainly relieved. He had not, he realized, the true temperament of a villain: after some of his more lurid pronouncements, he often suffered fits of giggles. Ruling Midgard was rather like being king of the pigeons: worthy only of someone who had no sense of worth. He was perhaps a monster but not yet so delusional. He was happy when it was over. He needed a drink.
After Odin's chastisements and the public condemnations and the endless, endless ritual of censure, during which Loki knelt before the throne and counted the innumerable facets of the beautifully mosaicked floors, he found himself confined to his rooms. Despite all the rhetoric, he had been neither imprisoned nor exiled, nor had Odin even given him the compliment of disowning him. He was not granted the status of villain, but was condemned instead to that wasteland of purpose: the meandering life of a second son.
The gag had been removed from his mouth, but he had been otherwise silenced: his talents muffled, his spirit wrapped in bafflement, his magic dissipated. Not that the knowledge of magic had been taken from him, nor the desire to do it; rather, he had been struck by a kind of impotence. His labor had no product, his efforts were to no effect. He cast about for a role to play. Revenger? What was the point? Penitent? He couldn't bear the dullness of the company. He sat down heavily in his favorite chair, made from the richest elderwood and exquisitely carved with birds of all description: owls and magpies, hummingbirds and ravens, crows and wrens. Diplomat? Scholar? He had still some little influence at court. He had his books and papers. He…
He swept his traitorous books to the floor. Then he ordered that a cask of ale and two of Asgard's most notorious debauchs be brought to his chambers. He didn't bother to stand when they arrived.
"Come," he said, roughly, "and kiss me."
He had, foolishly, assumed that the pleasure to be had was in fucking them, but by the third day, Loki realized that this was shortsighted and was also giving himself to Vigarr and Jannic by turns. He had conjured them a banquet of restorative cocktails and aphrodisiacal comestibles, and then Jannic—an excellent fellow, sixteenth son of Lord Kollr and thrown out of four Lyceums before his beard came in—offered him the petals of a flower which, when placed on the tongue, heightened sensitivity immensely. The frenzy of sexual activity which this produced then led them to pursue greater heights of sensation, and together they drank rare elixirs, smoked obscure leaves, and snorted magical powders until Loki, feeling utterly challenged and truly alive for the first time in decades, conjured a spell that so incited them to passion that they did themselves injury during their rapturous heights, smashing Loki's ancient bedstand to pieces and yet still fucking through it, sweating and laughing.
Excellent company that Jannic was, he was done in by the exertion and soon had not the strength to do more than offer his body as a pillow. Loki lay with his head on Jannic's stomach and spread his legs invitingly for Vigarr, who was stronger and more practiced: he had, Loki knew, been the protege of the notoriously louche valkyrie Ulrika who had, it was said, used him brutally and well.
Vigarr tossed a shock of pale blond hair from his forehead and said to Jannic, mockingly: "You could at least hold our lord prince's head, svækling; you could at least kiss his mouth or lick his cock." Jannic groaned, and flailed upward with a pale hand. Loki caught it and sucked meditatively on his fingers.
"You could," he said finally, "at least send for reinforcements."
The reinforcements were a Smörgåsbord of delights: men tall and short, muscled and lithe, golden blonds and platinum blonds and strawberry blonds and honey blonds and a few copper-haired beauties. One of the redheads brought him a ceramic jug of wine as a present and, shyly, knelt and offered it to him. Loki poured them each a glass – it coated his throat and had a wonderfully dizzying, instantly intoxicating effect. It made the redhead's mouth taste of blackberries. Loki poured the rest of his glass down the man's hairless chest and chased the thick black fluid down with his tongue.
Eventually he himself tired, and he dozed for a while in a tangle of warm bodies. His despair seemed to have burned out, guttering into warm laziness. There seemed to be more people than he remembered, or perhaps someone had cast a spell to multiply themselves, or else word of the feast had spread. The thought made him smile. His mouth watered at the smell of roasted meat. Someone kissed him. but his eyes were closed and so he didn't know who. Later, some daring soul shoved and tugged and held him so he could be fucked while someone else sucked him. He gasped helplessly, canting his hips, and felt arms tightening around him. It wasn't happiness. But it was ecstasy, and it would have to be enough.
Much later, he was vomiting happily in a large bronze basin when he happened to look up. There were several new people in the room. A scholar in profile: high forehead and a clever, curving mouth. A slender tow-haired youth of no more than three centuries; Loki's mouth watered. And a body sculpted to perfection in marble, come to life before his eyes, with hair of golden fire and a mouth that was lush, voluptious, scowling—Loki blinked. Thor. He threw up a little more.
Thor crouched beside him, face creased with concern. Loki stared at his mouth a moment longer, then shook his head to clear it. "Loki," Thor said despairingly, "how can you dishonor yourself thus?"
Loki laughed and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. "Dishonor is not the sensation I feel most keenly at the moment," he said, sinking back among the velvet cushions. "This wine is excellent," he said, and sloppily poured Thor a glass; he felt inspired and cruel. "Come. Join the party."
Thor looked around the room dubiously, his eyes momentarily halting on—and then hastening away from—various acts of lewdness and gluttony. Loki himself tried not to be distracted by the staggeringly beautiful twin brothers giving each other simultanous oral pleasure in the corner.
"I would not--" Thor began, then dropped his voice. "I would not join such company."
The nerve. "Oh, oh, but these are splendid fellows," Loki insisted breezily, propping himself up on his elbows. "Holger, there—the one fucking the goat--is the disinherited heir of Aakusti. Ranier is one of the bastard sons of Cazper. That fellow there...well, I don't know who he is, but doesn't he have splendid buttocks? The flower of Asgard, every one. So kind of them to visit me in my confinement."
"But there is talk," Thor said in a low, strained voice; the goat seemed to be making him distinctly uncomfortable. "Already it is said that you are unmanned. This is unworthy of you, brother--"
"Ah, but you forget: I am not your brother," Loki chided. "These are my brothers. These and such as these," he explained, gesturing, "for I too am no king, and not even as much as a bastard son." Loki sat up and put an arm around Thor's shoulders. "You see, I defend nothing," he explained softly. "I prepare for nothing. I seek nothing and expect nothing." Thor looked confused; Loki smiled and patted his cheek. "If you will not join me, at least do not condemn me. We have not all your expectations. Have some of this wine. Put one of these kusymre blossoms on your tongue. Vigarr's cock will send you halfway to paradise, and Jannic's ass--" but Thor was already fled from the room. Loki laughed.
He experienced the most disorienting coitus interruptus when Thor suddenly appeared over the shoulder of the young fellow who was groaning upon his cock, pulled him off and flung him away. Loki blinked up at him, surprised, then sighed and tucked his hands behind his head, his abandoned cock jutting unhappily upwards.
"Get up," Thor said, roughly extending a hand. He seemed to be having a difficult time not looking somewhere significantly below Loki's face. "We are leaving this place."
Loki didn't move. "I am confined to my rooms."
"Not anymore; our father--"
"Not our father," Loki said.
Thor's eyes flashed dangerously. " Our father has lifted the sanction. He given you permission to accompany me on a hunt – together we shall seek the Golden Hind of Agnarr... "
Thor extended his hand. Loki tilted his head and looked at him skeptically.
"Through the Forest of Ravndal, " Thor continued, as if Ravndal, a snowy wasteland, could be an enticement. Loki left Thor's hand unclasped, and Thor growled and bent to seize him, gripping his biceps and tugging him upwards. His hands were warm, and Loki fought the urge to surge forward: an instinctive reaction, if a disquieting one, after such a long bacchanal. He jerked backwards, but Thor held him fast and looked into his eyes with sickening sincerity.
"Fresh air and honorable sport, my brother. It will do you a world of good," and Loki closed his eyes and groaned.