“Alright, no more stalling. Tell me how you did it.”
“Well, in order to do that, I would have to start at the beginning,” Loki answered as they began to stroll through the corridors. He looked around to make sure that no one else was in the halls and would overhear their conversation. “A little less than a fortnight ago, my friends and I were on Alfheim. I went off by myself, since I had no interest in battling trolls or whatever it was they were hunting, and I went exploring in a nearby cave. I came upon old ruins, and I found carvings on the walls that were in a language foreign to me.
“I am unclear on all of the details, but from what I have been told, some sort of magic grabbed onto me, and it began pulling me into the wall of the cave. When my friends arrived, Chris was able to rescue me from the magic’s hold, but I was not completely free. He told me there were strange wings protruding from my back, and then in a flash of light, they burst. Hundreds of feathers went in every direction, and I was left an empty shell.
“Each one of those feathers was one of my memories, and we have been searching for them. I am the only one who can feel the presence of a feather, and usually they cause an ill omen. When a feather is found and returned to my body, all returns to normal. So, it is not some kind of magic that allows me to do it. They are a part of me, that’s all.” The other Loki looked deep in thought, and then his expression changed to something Loki couldn’t put a name to.
“Even if I did tell the other gods who you were and why you were here, they would never believe me. Not with my track record.” His eyes met Loki’s green ones, and he half-smirked, half-smiled. “So, who is who in your group?”
“I am Loki, Chris is Thor. We had to hide Mjolnir before we came. And then there are Sif and the Warriors Three, Fandral, Volstagg, and Hogun.”
“Another Sif? As if two Þórrs weren’t bad enough. And it seems the three warriors didn’t have to change their names at all.”
“Well, we had no way of knowing that.” Red-haired Loki shrugged. “So, where exactly are we going?”
“I wanted you to meet Sigyn.” Something in his voice and expression changed. Pride?
“Who is Sigyn?”
“Yes. Why, are you not?”
“Well, no. At least... I do not believe so.” Loki actually had no idea if he had ever been married before all this happened, but nobody ever mentioned him having a wife, so he assumed he wasn’t. “But what will you tell her? About who I am?”
“I shall say you are Tom from Midgard, and you are the one who saved the gods from mortality.” Loki let out a sigh of relief. “Come, we are almost there.”
They turned around a corner and entered some sort of common area. Loki wondered if this was another gathering place for the gods. There were tables, futons, piles of furs and large pillows scattered throughout the room, but still organized. The only two occupants were two men. One of the men had long blond hair and a youthful face. His clothes were a bit more feminine than Loki would have expected in a place like this. The other man was more plain looking, with curly brown hair and a long face. The other Loki walked up to the homely man and stood a couple feet away. He leaned forward with his arms crossed behind his back.
“Good morrow to you!” He shouted, and the man jumped.
“Loki, you know I hate when you sneak up on me.”
The trickster waved a hand in front of the man’s face, and he appeared to not have noticed. The other Loki turned around and mouthed “he’s blind.”
“These are Þórr’s brothers, Höðr and Baldr. This is Tom of Midgard. He was the one who put an end to the curse on Iðunn’s golden apples of youthfulness.” Baldr rose from his seat and came to greet him.
“Is that so?” Loki nodded. “I hope Loki has been treating you kindly, Tom.”
In reality, Loki wasn’t paying much attention to what was being said to him. He was staring at Baldr, taking in his appearance. The hair almost looked like it was the right length, but he was clean shaven. Maybe he shaved his beard once in awhile. Loki stuck out his hand and Baldr shook it. Loki had to hold back the sigh of disappointment. Baldr’s hands were too smooth. The muscles in his arms were not large enough, and his voice was different. When the silence stretched a little too long, Loki pulled away from him.
“Yes, he has. He was just taking me to meet Sigyn.”
“Well, I would not wish to keep her waiting. Enjoy your stay,” Baldr said as he returned to his seat.
“Let’s go, Tom,” the other Loki said as he tugged on his arm. Once they were out of hearing range, Loki felt it was safe to speak.
“How many siblings does Þórr have?”
“I have lost count, to be honest with you. But not all of them are Frigg’s. Höðr and Baldr are, but Þórr is not.”
“What?” The other Loki shook his head.
“His mother’s name is Jörð. She’s a giantess.”
“I never realized Thor was part Jotun.”
“He is, but not just through his mother. Both of Óðinn’s parents are giants.”
Loki wondered if what the other was telling him was the same where he came from. Were Thor and Odin both part Jotun? And was Frigga Thor’s mother?
“Why is that so strange?”
“Well, the Asgard I come from is much different than yours. See, there was a war between Asgard and Jotunheim. The Frost Giants were defeated, and I was taken by Odin and raised as Thor’s brother. After that, Odin forbade anyone to go to Jotunheim.” The other Loki looked like he was going to vomit.
“I can see why that would be strange to you. Did you know you were not Asgardian?”
“I was never told. But a couple of the memories I retrieved took place on Jotunheim when I was a baby. I figured it out on my own from there. We were recently in Jotunheim, and I was reunited with my family. So, I am wondering if our families are different.”
“Well, I have two brothers, Helblindi and Byleistr.”
“That’s the same. And your parents?”
“Farbauti is my father and Laufey my mother.”
“Your father is still alive?”
“Mine was killed when the Asgardians invaded. He bought Laufey time to hide me in the temple for safety. But Laufey is king now.” The other Loki made a face.
“Wait, Laufey’s male? How does that work?” Loki shook his head.
“He explained it to me, but I don’t quite understand it. And he said when the Casket of Ancient Winters was taken, no female Frost Giants were born. So, over time, the males had to adapt somehow in order to procreate.”
“And you said Laufey was king of Jotunheim?” Loki nodded. “Not here. Þrymr is king of the Jotnar.”
“In the Jotunheim where I come from, Thrym is one of Laufey’s generals.”
“Here we are.” Loki followed the trickster inside the chamber, and he couldn’t help but smile when he and Sigyn embraced. They looked like they were truly in love. When the other Loki pulled away, Loki could see that Sigyn was pregnant. Wavy golden hair framed her fair face. “Tom, this is my wife, Sigyn. Tom is a guest of honor, and I was showing him around.”
“It is good to meet you, Tom,” Sigyn said in a quiet voice, a hand lightly pressed against her abdomen.
“You, as well. And congratulations.” They looked into each other’s eyes lovingly, almost as if Loki was not there.
“I have been told that I am going to have twins. Boys. I cannot wait to see them for the first time.”
“I am so happy for you both. You are going to be great parents.” Loki’s smile faded when Sigyn grimaced.
“My boys seem to be excited, too. It sometimes feels like they are quarreling.” Sigyn was helped to a chair, and her husband stroked her hands. “I will be alright, Loki. It will pass.”
“Are you certain?” Frown lines marred the red-head’s face. Sigyn nodded. “You make sure to ask for help if you need it, alright?”
“The same way you always do?” The other Loki made a face that said something along the lines of “and this is the reason why I can never have friends over.”
“What are you smirking at, Tom?” They were halfway out the door when the other Loki stopped suddenly. He turned around and stiffly walked back over to Sigyn. He bent down and pressed a kiss to her forehead, then he went out the door as if nothing happened. His behavior was similar to a little boy who was told to give his grandmother a kiss. “Sigyn truly completes me. She makes me a better person.”
“I can see that. Do you have other children?”
Something changed in the other Loki’s demeanor. It was as if he was reliving painful memories.
“I do,” he replied after awhile, and his voice cracked a little bit. “I have not seen them in a very long time. Not since Óðinn took them from me.” Loki wanted to learn more, but he decided against it because he could tell it was upsetting to the other man.
“Where to next?”
“I don’t know.” He sounded distracted. “What would you like to see?” Loki thought about it for a moment.
“I wouldn’t mind getting a little fresh air.”
“That sounds like a good plan to me.”
They went down a short staircase and through a slender wooden door. At first, all Loki could see was a green hillside and a couple trees. When they reached the top of the hill, there was a dirt path that led to a river below. Wildflowers of various shape, scent, and color were spread along the grass, and there was a circle of large stones near the bank of the river. In the middle of the circle of rocks was a pile of wood inside a smaller circle of pebbles. They each picked one of the large stones to sit on and gazed out at the river.
“It is so quiet here,” Loki said as he took in the scenery. All that could be heard was the quiet river and a few birds. “It’s peaceful.”
“It is a nice change, especially when the Æsir have their huge celebrations.” Loki closed his eyes and relaxed when the sun appeared from behind a cloud. He didn’t notice he was being watched. “Can you do magic?”
“I think so. I have been told that I can. I just don’t remember how.”
“Would you like me to teach you?” Loki shook his head.
“I have to leave tomorrow. And… I believe I will remember, someday. This is just something I need to do on my own. I hope you understand.” The other man shrugged.
“Well, if you change your mind, you know where to find me.” Loki’s smile fell, and that memory in the library came flooding back to him. “What’s the matter?”
“Nothing. The last memory I recovered was not a happy one, and someone said something similar to that to me.”
“I am sorry to hear that. I have a few memories like that.”
Loki was watching him, and then his eyes widened. How could he not have noticed before? Although his own were gone, he could see faint scars around the other Loki’s lips.
“You, too?” Loki touched his fingers to his lips, and the other nodded. “It was one of the first memories I retrieved, but I’m not sure why they did it. All I know is that it happened.”
“Perhaps it is best that you don’t know.”
“You are probably right.” They left the matter at that and returned their attention to the river. “What do you know about soul bonds?”
“I’ve never heard of them.” Loki was kind of disappointed. He had hoped he might learn more.
“Never mind, then.”
“What are soul bonds?”
“You must not have them here, so there is no reason to discuss something that doesn’t exist.” They both looked to the left towards the main gate when they heard the thundering of hooves.
“They’re back earlier than I expected. Shall we greet them?” Loki nodded, and they made their way up the hill. When they reached the gate, the hunting party began dismounting their horses. “Were the ogres not biting today—” His snarky comment was cut short when he saw the unconscious body on one of the horses. He turned and looked at Loki, who was pale as a ghost. When Loki finally found his voice, it was barely audible.