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To Save The Sire

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Angrboda was raised up from the Járnviðr of Midgard, she crosses the great Ifing and takes the throne of Laufey at the heart of Utgard when all of Jötunheim feels that death, the death of a king of Jötunheim is enough to shake her race in the ordinary way of things.

 

Worse, oh far worse, was that the light of Bifröst that burns away the last sire's line. There is only one line that breeds, that survived the dying of the first sire Ymir-King Aurgelmir, his blood which washed away all the rest of their ancient race in his death; but one sire survived, and it had been enough.

 

His name had been Bergelmir the Blessed, son of Thruthgelmir grandson of the great Ymir-King Aurgelmir. Fornjotr Miskorblindi had been his son, and bred three sons of his own who carried true sire lines; these sons were Logi, Aegir and Kari - sons to match Bor's own - and they had gone to make allies, Logi had gone into Muspellheim and chosen for his lady Glod, his daughters Eisa and Eimyrja bringing to end his line yet a ally none of Jötunheim would turn aside. Aegir had found a home among the Vanir to lay with Ran his sister-wife and sire daughters called Waves, nine in number. 

 

Kari alone had sired sons to carry on the sire line, in Jökull all Jötunheim knew his name - and then Snaer with his sisters three Drifa, Fönn and Mjöl saw the dawning of the war between Vanir and Aesir.

 

He was kept from the war for the safety of the siring. Snaer had had sons and daughters, but it was his son Alvaldi who sired the boys Thjalzi, Ithi and Gang, and the name of Thjalzi is still a curse among Jötunheim, for he brought the joined fury of Vanir and Aesir upon himself.

 

 

Heimdall looked for Ullr still, but the halls of Thrymheim blinded him, for there Thjalzi had once taken Idunna of the golden apples. None could find the son of Sif, he was ever feared among the Aesir to be dead. Sif refused to take any to her bed, and taught herself to face loss with battle. Angrboda, who was saw her in dreams, knew the lady Sif dreamed of finding her lost son, and saving him.

 

One day she would tell Sif that Skadi had saved him in the only way she knew how, for if the sires do not sire children, they wither and die. Ullr had near died in bringing forth with his own body his first and only child; against Skadi's wishes, oh, the lady's tears were yet bitter. She had held her child, a Nal, a girl born small as the needle, and thought all lost for the child was born in the shape of a girl, and all sires before her had been born boys.

 

Skadi had done what any would, raising Nal in Thrymheim, until one day a storm had come and Farbauti had struck at the courts with lightning. It had wakened a sire - Nal grew quirk and sure, as strong a sire as any could desire, and named ever after Laufey.

 

His sons were yet living, bold Byleipt and Helblindi who had wit and wisdom to match Bor's sons, Odin, Ve and Vili of old. None were sires, for they matched Angrboda in size. One son had born small, had lain in the temple as if a offering, for all to see. He would have had a hall, a home, and wives and husbands - if not for being stolen away. A treasure more precious than the Casket of Ancient Winters, by which all sires were made sure of - for only a sire could touch the Casket containing Ymir-King Aurgelmir's Fimbulwinter.

 

A Casket which Odin holds now in his hands, he sets it on the floor. It galls Angrboda that he was one who could sire children upon her people, the proof was in Gunnlöd's boy, Bragi - as will as Grid mother of Vidar, and Rind mother of Vali - and by Jörd he was father of Thor, bane of all her people, the jötun thurs. Who stood now with his father, eyeing her in her own home as if she invited them here...

 

No, one does not invite the Aesir. One is burdened by them, one endures them as the glacier Elivagar was sprayed by burning Muspellheim. Jötunheim was hers, and she was not inclined to let Odin All Father of Asgard shape her people.

 

Yet here stood Odin in the house Gastropnir, where Aesir and Jötun thurs met, face to face, three to three. She glances but once to Byleipt and Helblindi, who stand now at either side of her.

 

"What do you want?" Angrboda narrows her ruby eyes upon him. She wants nothing to do with playing at politics. If Odin has come to gloat, she will see him slain and skinned, and he must know it.

 

“I return what I took, king Angrboda.” It twists his mouth to say it, but Odin does not understand how kings of Jötunheim are found, so he says it but does not believes it. He means, of course, the Casket of Ancient Winters, which Laufey could have used to end the war. A Casket that Angrboda, king or not, can not use – for she is no sire.

 

“It does us no good.” Byleipt says from her side, not looking down at it. It is a painful reminder of loss.

 

"I seek to mend the peace pact that was broken." Odin glances between the three, but none look him in the eye.

 

“Why?” Helblindi asks, bloody eyes looking to Odin, to Thor, to Heimdall and then favoring the ice beyond the open window.

 

“We could help you rebuild…” Thor begins, and Angrboda growls him into silence.

 

“Please, from the beginning this was my doing – do not take it out on others when I stand before you and beg.” Thor’s head bows, and Helblindi who had brought the news to Laufey of Loki, second son of Odin, leading in jötun strays to be slain; that had seen Loki tell Laufey of ways into Asgard, if only he would kill All Father Odin. Sweet and seductive lies and why should Laufey’s sons not let loose a hunt for Loki lie-smith, so insane and suicidal? To slay him would serve a little right against a larger wrong. A little vengeance before Elivagar’s waters swallowed them could do no wrong. That it was not enough of a price to be paid was not worth saying.   

     

    Angrboda stands, towering over the All Father, for he is not her father.

     

    "The damage has been done. We will die. You've only to wait and your long war with us will be done. We will do what we can to be sure the weight of blood debt between us, of born and unborn, is fairly made." Helblindi crouches to meet Odin eye to eye.

     

    "Leave." He hisses.  

     

    "No, I...my sons," Helblindi snarls in his face a warning Odin does not heed, "Loki. You do not know, but you should hear. I raised him as my son, but he was not born of my seed." Angrboda stills.

     

    "Loki. I found him; a runt, abandoned near here at a temple. I know him for the son of Laufey." A sire – the only sire, Odin is saying, and Angrboda's blood sings.

     

    "Where…?" She asks, so softly it might well be only a whisper of the wind.

     

    "I do not know. He is lost to me." Odin's one eye does not meet hers. Angrboda knew well when it would be, that the second son of Odin was lost, when the Bifröst was broken. 

     

     

    "We will find him." Byleipt promises Helblindi, who flinches when his brother reaches to sooth him. It was Helblindi who had thought to keep his brother safe upon Lyfjaberg, under the gaze of the cock Vithofnir.

     

    "You won't." Heimdall admits then, soft and sure.

     

    "Oh, you’re so sure are you?" Byleipt murmurs, smiling and sly.

     

    “He had ways of keeping himself from being seen.” It is roughly admitted, but Angrboda smiles as if proud. Only a sire would be able to do that, and he must be strong.

     

    "Ullr sends his regards." Heimdall's eyes widen upon a jötun thurs smirk. 

     

    "He lives?" Angrboda laughs softly in the hush of the Aesir.

     

    "He thrives, grandson of Aegir." At the reminder of his jötun blood, Heimdall flinches. 

     

    “How will you find him?” Odin demands, and Angrboda turns to face the gate Thrymgjol near where Thrymheim stands still; the sanctuary of Skadi and Ullr. The promise of it brings a smile to her face, and she lets hope take hold in her blood and bones.

     

    “The line of sires can be traced from father to son, to Ymir-King Aurgelmir, and as with him, the birth of a new sire would often result in sire father killing sire son, or sire son killing sire father, or sire brothers killing one another – it is was their way, to keep one generation from inbreeding with another. They are very territorial, our sires – but then, so too are we kings. A king is the chief wife of a sire, you see – even after the sire’s death she rules his generation as mother. On all of Jötunheim, there are but two of us. I am Loki’s chief wife, his king – chosen before we both were born, and Skadi is my sister-king, her husband Ullr yet lives, but it is too great a risk to have him sire anymore sires. Laufey was his first and last.” Angrboda enjoys the looks on Aesir faces, the realization that she is their sister-in-law, their daughter-in-law, and they never knew it. Helblindi snorts in the face of Odin, but Byleipt turns his back on them – his blue fingers stretch out to touch the icy mirror that hangs within Angrboda’s reach. He is not a sire himself, but his blood is of the line of sires and it sings to his sire.

     

    It is not his face that looks back upon Angrboda’s court, but that of Skadi.

     

    “Let me see Ullr.” Heimdall demands, abruptly – as if he has the right. Skadi raises her brow and glances away from the mirror.

     

    “Beloved, your uncle - I presume?” It is then that they realize that Ullr sits in Skadi’s lap, for she moves the mirror so Ullr can see through it.

     

    “So it is.” Ullr does not seem in the least surprised. They see in the mirror that he is whole and healthy, he had his mother’s black hair at birth; his skin shines like ice, and his eyes are green. He is not the boy Skadi stole away after breaking her marriage with Njörd in Noatun.

     

    “What do you want on Jötunheim?” Ullr asks, softly as Skadi runs her clawed nails against his skin. He looks frail and small, but holds no fear of her, and when he shivers it is with pleasure.

     

    “They give up the Casket of Ancient Winters, for a peace pact, so I would not send Byleipt and Helblindi on a hunt for the second son of Odin – who is not the second son of Odin, but the third born of Laufey.” Ullr’s green eyes bled red, and he still and silent.

     

    “He must be mad….” Ullr closes his eyes, pained. It is a curse of the sire line, the madness that springs from not siring offspring. Ullr has Skadi to carry his children, when once in ancient days; it was the sire who was both father and mother to his offspring.

     

    “He will not be for long. Find him, and we will bring him home.” It is a promise Angrboda can vow the keeping of. It is what it means to be king.

     

    “He sits in Gunnungagap and knows the face of the enemy.” Angrboda smiles then, for that was a very grave mistake on the part of one who would face a sire. What a sire sees, all Jötunheim sees.

     

    “Go.” Angrboda orders, Byleipt and Helblindi wordlessly obey.

     

    “We should not be here.” Heimdall warns, for he is the first to see - jötun thurs gather with wolves on the ice outside the house named Gastropnir. The cock Vithofnir crows upon the high bough of Mimameith, as he does only for war - Gif and Geri shake free of ice and howl eagerly to the sky. Thor sees them and shudders, for he remembers waking them before. The weather of Jötunheim depends on the moods of its people, so it is no surprise that there is a storm brewing.

     

    From the mirror of ice, Ullr comes forth to greet Angrboda, and Skadi strides behind him protectively hovering over her smaller lover. Her belly is swollen with child, yet she glares openly at Thor and Odin and Heimdall, unwelcoming. Angrboda greets her, and the unborn girl babe she carries. It will be a girl, they know, a warrior to follow Skadi – it can not be otherwise in the offspring of Skadi - who in stealing Ullr from Sif inspired even a Vanir lady to become a warrior in turn.

     

    Skadi looked forward to meeting with Sif, though Angrboda did not know if it would be done in battle or in peace time. The daughters of Skadi had met with Sif and her boys many times, and often gone easy upon them for the sake of their grand-dam learning the art of war late in her life, the battles had been but the stuff of warnings and play-fights. It was not until Thor had struck at Laufey at the heart of Jötunheim that they took up arms in earnest with their blood singing for battle and death.

     

    “He is the son of Sif?” Thor speaks softly to Heimdall, though both kings hear. Skadi turns to look down upon him, crouching forward so they are face to face.

     

    “Do you doubt it?” Skadi asks softly, her clawed fingers touching her belly with a tenderness that underlines any threat to her words.

     

    “No, King Skadi – I do not.” Thor could not answer otherwise, with Odin’s eye upon him in warning.

     

    “That pleases me, I am proud of my many daughters who have learnt to fight with the Lady Sif. She has learnt the art late, but she blooms in battle, and her granddaughters are always so willing and eager to show her their skills. It is good of her warriors –and you, Prince Thor - to indulge them.” Skadi’s eyes are gold as any eagle, proud and fierce.

     

    Thor looks wide eyed to Heimdall, who stands beside him. Barely noticeable is the twitch of smiling lips upon Heimdall’s features.

     

    Ullr looks to Thor, and smirks. It had been done, a deal between Ullr and Odin, that his daughters would only ever face Sif – and thus Thor and the Warriors Three. Skadi and his wives had thought it right and proper, that their daughters meet in battle their grand-dam, for if they fell before her and her fellows, too weak – they were not worthy to succeed upon Jötunheim.

     

    Now Thor knows it.

     

    “Will you be coming along?” Ullr asks of Odin, who nods wordlessly. It would be good for Thor to see the huge thurs of Jötunheim go to battle and mean it – this would not be a mere warning play-fight, this would be war. A war the likes of which, Odin had seen but once. A war which had only been ended when Odin had stolen a sire, for with his taking he was thought slain, all of Jötunheim had lost heart and mourned.

     

    Ullr opens the Casket of Ancient Winters, and they are not upon Jötunheim anymore.

     

    Gunnungagap is mist and darkness which none know the end of. Yet here, at its heart - they are not alone.

     

    “What is this place?” Thor asks his grip on Mjöllnir tight.

     

    “The dwelling of the Chitauri.” Angrboda answers, for it has ever been that her people of Jötunheim keep the Chitauri in check so they do not make a nest out of the rest of the realms. They are dangerous and deadly, but they are a hive-mind, and if they kill the queen, the rest die with her.

     

    Byleipt and Helblindi let loose Gif and Geri, riding upon the wolfing ones; the hounds know how to keep the whale-like ones at bay and busy. They delight in the chase, being clever and quick.

     

    The daughters of Skadi run to meet the Chitauri who would flee, if not for being surrounded by the horde of thurs. There is only one place where there is no fighting, where Ullr sits by the Casket of Ancient Winters, with Skadi who hovers over him, hawk-like and protective. Ullr’s lesser wives keep a ring around king and sire, their backs to Odin, Thor, and Heimdall.

     

    Angrboda strides out from among the ring of Ullr’s wives, to meet Thanos who stands also untouched – for no daughter of Skadi would dare take what is rightfully a kings kill; at the feet of Thanos is her husband, who weeps.

     

    “What is the meaning of this?” Thanos demands of her, and Angrboda shows her teeth.

     

    “You took what was not yours. He is mine.” It is as simple as that.

     

    “This? You bring Jötunheim here - to war with me – for him?” Thanos sneers down at the sire, and would kick him aside to stand and meet Angrboda, if not for Angrboda quickly snatching him from the floor. She cradles him in her arms, snarling at Thanos.

     

    Mengloth, who has ever been at Angrboda’s side, offers her arms to carry the sire to safety. Angrboda licks Loki’s tears away, soothing her and him, and with final caress to promise of what is to come, lets Mengloth take him unto her arms, knowing him safe from harm with her. It is a king’s duty to deal with Thanos, who has threatened the whole of Jötunheim – and knows it not. Who by taking Loki challenged Angrboda her right of kingship.

     

    It is past time he learnt his place.

     

    Angrboda hisses, and becomes a serpent – rearing up her head to strike, Thanos moves swiftly away and when she dives she takes up the shape of a giant wolf and gives chase. She tackles him and they wrestle in mud made by blood, both Chitauri and Jötun – though the bodies are mostly of Chitauri. She growls low in her throat, for the skin of Thanos’s neck is between her teeth.

     

    “Submit, son of the Endless Gunnungagap, or be slain by a king’s teeth.” Skadi speaks when Angrboda can not - her smile is sharp and a hand upon Angrboda’s shoulder makes a show of their shared unity.

     

    “Never!” Thanos hisses, and Angrboda bites down, her teeth as sharp as the wolf-shape, but with the venom of a snake within them; the skin does not bleed away – it rots, until Thanos is half a husk of rot and half whole – only then does Angrboda let him go.

     

    He may survive yet, but the Chitauri queen keens her death. There is sudden silence upon the battlefield – for it isn’t anymore – it is a graveyard.

     

    “Brother…I…” Thor whispers, reaching to touch Loki who is gathered against Mengloth’s chest. He weeps and flinches and Angrboda does not blame Mengloth for the snarl that escapes between her teeth. To see a sire so, it is a heavy blow, but the sorrow of his being thought slain passes with this battle and its bloodlust. There is only sadness left, and it can be soothed. 

     

    Ullr opens the Casket of Ancient Winters, and Ymir-King Aurgelmir's Fimbulwinter blows them home to Jötunheim.

     

    “Is there a cure for him, for his madness?” Odin asks of Ullr, who eyes his grandson, and nods.

     

    “He is long past siring age, so his blood sings to breed – but he was never told such, and knew not the meaning of his desire to slay his father, his brothers. He only needs to sire children upon his wives and husbands; you may stay or go, Odin. Know that this is the only way bring back his mind.” Ullr takes Skadi’s hand, and he and his daughters, his wives and husbands and sons, depart as quickly as it had seemed the storm had started and the Jötun thurs had gathered to go to war. They travel through the ice and the snow, as if it were only air.

     

    Only a scattering of thurs have not gone, and Angrboda looks over them with a pleased air. They are all of size with her, equals – and willing to be wives. Mengloth holds Loki in her lap, and his face nuzzles into her breasts, and she sighs and touches him soothingly in cupped hands.

     

    “You are safe sire, here in the house Gastropnir will be your home, and we will ever be beside you.” Mengloth licks his lips and the tears, and Loki whines and writhes against her body, begging to be bare.

     

    Angrboda gestures the wives and husbands to gather near her, and when she looks – Odin has taken Thor and Heimdall away. It is just as well, for what is seen can not be unseen – and this, she thinks, they would not will to see.