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Nor Iron Bars A Cage

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At the age of four hundred, Prince Loki attended the royal council meetings without fail. That was his place as the younger prince, when the elder was carrying out the more pressing duty of killing people on other planets. Accordingly, the day after their return from Nornheim Loki limped into the council chamber. Even healing stones had not eradicated his injuries, not yet.

“You are so fortunate that your brother was able to carry you to safety when you fell, Loki.” Egil, one of Odin’s most fawning advisors, made sure to be the first to express this sentiment, darting a quick glance to make certain his king heard it. “Thor’s warrior prowess shall be renowned throughout the realms!”

“No doubt.” That was all Loki trusted himself to say. He had not sustained his injuries in battle, but at the hands of Thor and the few survivors Loki had managed to get to safety.

It was Loki’s own fault. In the aftermath of their narrow escape, the terror still coursing through his veins, he had blurted out his intention of telling Odin precisely what Thor had done: charged into battle, despite Loki’s urging, against a vastly superior force. Nearly Asgard’s entire force had been slaughtered. By veiling them in smoke, Loki had made it possible for himself, Thor, and the four warriors who happened to be closest to escape.

All of the survivors - Fandral, Hogun, Volstagg and the Lady Sif - preferred to credit their survival to the crown prince’s valor rather than to the younger prince’s effeminate magic tricks. The five of them had beaten Loki within an inch of his life to ensure his silence on the matter.

Loki had begun to muster seiðr to defend himself, but he had depleted it too much making their escape. He had to be carried back to Asgard when they were done with him.

Loki had known since adolescence that his fate was to devote his life to serving Asgard by coaxing King Thor out of his more idiotic decisions. That was the day he saw clearly what the consequences of this fate would likely be.

Now in the council, Loki waited until more pressing matters had been discussed and resolved before making his proposal. “The healers say I will not be fit for battle again for weeks yet. In the meantime, I thought I might make myself useful to Asgard by questioning the prisoners in our dungeon. They may have knowledge of potential rebels against Odin’s rule, or the locations of powerful relics.”

Some members of the royal council considered this an excellent idea. Others did not much care. Odin indifferently allowed Loki to carry out his project, even made (yet another) implicit offer of affection if Loki learned anything of value.

Loki learned a great deal of value. The implied reward of Odin’s affection was not delivered. But Loki did achieve his primary objective: to leave a bit of seiðr in each cell.

Someday, when King Thor became angry at his brother and chief advisor, if only he threw him into the dungeon instead of killing him, Loki would have an escape.

After planting escapes for himself in every corner of Asgard’s dungeon, Loki set himself to the project of making himself as hard to kill as possible. Centuries later, when he tried to kill himself and instead endured the agony of passing through a wormhole alive and then was captured and tortured by a being almost as evil as Odin himself, Loki would reconsider the wisdom of this measure. But it was done.

Loki had expected that Thor would be the king who sent him to the dungeon. Instead, it was Odin.

But still Loki reaped the benefit of his foresight after being imprisoned after his not-brother dragged him back from Midgard, by opening a wormhole he had planted centuries before against the day of Asgard’s betrayal, and stepping through it to freedom.