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Freedom is a State of Mind

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Loki stretched comfortably.  Dressing him like a peasant had been merely one of countless petty humiliations piled upon the grand one of parading him in chains to the palace.  Though at least then, he had still worn armor as befitted a prince.  Now, his plain linen tunic and trousers had no decorations save a simple pattern woven into the inkle band that bound the neckline.  But he had worn similar clothing before, when he chose to learn things that a prince cannot.  No, this humiliation, at least, had failed in its aim.

 

He wondered if anyone realized that they had created the perfect monument to the monster amongst them.  The perfection of his crystal prison oddly pleased him.  It meant they had, for once, not underestimated him, had seen him for the threat he was.  Odin himself had sealed the walls against magic, placing strong runes just out of his reach.  Thor had tested each wall, each turning, for strength.  It was flattering.

 

Of course, at first, all Asgard had come to see the tiger in his cage, the monstrous Jotun who would dare pretend to princeliness.  But traffic had quickly fallen off as he refused to entertain the rabble.  Instead, he had shown them a face of perfect serenity until they had gone.  Frigga had come to say something to him, but the mask had not twitched in the slightest.  Asgard dared name him liar while she and Odin sat the thrones?  Again and again, she had come, hoping for his attention, his redemption in her eyes.  As though he were not the kidnapped monster she, of all Asgard, knew him to be.  Let her weep.  

 

Now, the only faces he saw at all regularly were his jailers, and these he ignored, save for everyday pleasantries and courtesies.  Odin had, of course, chosen them from among those who despised him, that his famous silvertongue should have no chance to do mischief.  And that they might give him yet more petty humiliation to remember Asgard by.  These humiliations he simply tallied for eventual repayment, but bided his time for now.  Let them remember the courtesy of a prince to his servants until the time to claim his weregeld.

 

The imprisonment wouldn’t last long in any case, probably not even by mortal standards.  Thor’s pets wouldn’t even have time to sport grey hair or new wrinkles before he was free.  Asgard’s many enemies would note the instability of the current situation.  One of Odin’s plans had failed, and he himself was tired and ready for his long overdue rest.  Thor, his heir, had still not learned any form of craftiness nor subtlety.  The opportunity such a moment presented should prove impossible to ignore.

 

Loki rolled his shoulders fluidly against the solid wall.He regretted having no opportunity to spar at all in his solitude, but had come up with exercises to maintain his flexibility and strength despite the perpetual watch of both his petty guards and of Heimdall.  As he kept the subtle movements dancing through his muscles beneath the soft linen, he reflected on who would be the opponent to drive the House of Odin to desperation.

 

He himself had ensured that the Jotnar would prove no threat for some time to come.  The Chitauri were likewise no true threat.  Thor’s military might would be more than enough for such straightforward opponents.  Internally, he snorted.  Barren moon, indeed.  They dare not set their aspirations upon Asgard.  Even he in his prison had now gathered strength enough to destroy any who thought him weak within these walls.

 

The Dokkaelfar had shown signs of greater ambition under Malekith, and his magics were formidible.  Thor’s reliance on brute strength would be little match, particularly since Malekith would have no compunctions about targeting his allies to take advantage of Thor’s sentimentality.  Should he win, Loki would do his best to escape, since Malekith would have little use for him.

 

Or possibly the enemy would prove to be the storm giants under Surtr.  It was likely that if they were the enemy and Thor didn’t free him in time, Surtr himself might, in the hopes of using him as a tool for the greater destruction of Asgard.  He was a wily old bastard like Odin, and a longtime opponent.  Loki might even consider the offer.

 

It was unlikely the two would ally with each other, but if they did, Thor would have no chance to free him before his enemies won.  And then Loki would sow discord between the victors and achieve his freedom in that manner.

 

The even footsteps were nearly as familiar as his own.  At last, destruction was on them, then.  Smiling a little to himself, he welcomed the one he had so long named brother.  “You must be truly desperate to come to me for help.” The low hum of satisfaction was in his voice.  After all, had he not just predicted this very thing?

 

“You should know that when you betray me, I will kill you.”  After all Thor’s betrayals, Loki wondered how many times over his self-proclaimed brother’s life should have been his to take.  And how very Thor to simply proclaim that he would betray them.  As though they were innocents who had never deceived, never betrayed, never harmed him at all.  As though he was the only liar on Asgard.  But he voiced none of this of course.  Let Thor believe as he wished.  The game was now prepared to receive him again.  And Loki was always good at games.  

 

“When do we start?”