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Another Kind of Abyss

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Loki gives his enemies faces in his mind but he knows the greatest enemy is emptiness. Eternity is another name for the endless chasm beneath his feet. Nothingness all around, forever stretching in all directions. Formless darkness and cold everywhere. All different words to describe one: Alone.

No matter how many times he tells himself this is different, it's not. Not truly. It's bright, not dark, but it's still a void staring back at him. That nothingness will lure him to madness in the end.

But at least here, he has some power. It takes five days (ten? fifty? Does it matter how many? He tracks shift changes at first, but isn't it better not to know?) to find the thread of seidr, but once he has it, he keeps a hold of it, fearing if he lets go, he might not find it again. There is a tiny weakness in his prison, and he spends days (weeks, years) trying to pull more, but it remains a trickle. Not enough to break the cell, no, of course not.

It's not enough to kill himself either. He knows that immediately. The disappointment is a sickness within, like something chewing his insides, but he pushes it aside with the idea that there might be another way. He has time to figure it out, doesn't he?

So, if this sliver is all he has, he might as well entertain himself.

Illusions require little power and form as easily as thought for him. He's been creating illusions for a long time: of other people, of things, of himself. At first he creates vengeance, images to express the rage that burns inside: Odin, Thor, the green monstrosity... all come to bloody ends. But satisfaction is elusive, because it's not real. He's doing it himself, and he knows that.

The illusions get more complex, built over days of experimentation. It's not only a person or a thing he creates, but entire environments. They widen his cell, an illusion of freedom that churns inside until he shatters them, because the walls are still there.

Someday they won't be. He will get out. This is not forever. He has seen forever, he has lived forever (died forever), and this is not forever. He knows this. But 'someday' has never felt further away.

He casts illusions of animals for companionship, but they are nothing but puppets and do nothing he doesn't tell them to. Frustrated, he imagines them ripped apart, but there is no pleasure in the blood, only disgust at himself.

Monster in blood, monster in soul.

He casts nothing for a few days after that. He stares at the ceiling. He ponders writing spells on the floor in his own blood. If he makes a circle, powers it with what meager seidr he can conjure, and offers himself as a sacrifice, perhaps a demon will be interested enough to finish the spell from its side and come through to slaughter everyone in Asgard.

Well, it isn't as if he's going to Valhalla anyway, so why not? Afterlife vengeance is better than none. Except, with his cursed luck, no demon would be interested in his shriveled soul. There is no greatness in it, only an empty place where it ought to be.

He could have been more, once. He'd been king for a day, long enough to learn betrayal from false friends, but not long enough to truly rule. But he could have. Without betrayal, without hate, without Thor, it could have gone so much differently. Loki could have been a great king.

He stands and casts a vast new illusion. It's based on the only coronation he's ever seen, but this time it's himself as Asgard's rightful king.

It feels more and more right, as he adjusts his costume to add more detail, to make it seem more true. He adds more people watching, adds movement... It grows and grows until it's a full world. Asgard as it should have been.

He could live in this one, he thinks, as the cheers echo from the roof and he holds the hammer high. There's adulation and admiration. There's everything he was denied (abandoned like trash, forgotten, his true birthright); it's everything he ever wanted. It's his creation and it's perfect.

Except it's fake. It's a lie.

Yet that makes it more perfect. His life has been a lie from the very beginning, so why should that change now?

Reality is no benefit to him, not here. Reality is the abyss of nightmare and solitude. Reality is a small, too-bright cell filled with nothing but poisonous hatred and icy rage. Reality is the unceasing desire to claw his flesh from his bones, because he knows what lurks beneath the surface. Reality is living in the shadows, reaching out for a light that passes through his fingers.

In illusion, none of that exists. In illusion, his skin is pale but not blue. In illusion, he can see the sun. No, better than that: he is the sun, and there is no cold, not anywhere.