Odin slumped sulking on his throne, listening to his disobedient son telling him of his successful completion of Bor’s genocide of the Dark Elves, and of the long overdue death of the Jotun cuckoo.
For the first time, it occurred to Odin that there was a drawback to Loki’s death: Odin could no longer blame things on him. His own failed schemes, Thor’s pathetic failures—Loki had been such a useful scapegoat.
Odin wearily pardoned Thor instead of banishing or executing him for committing treason. He would be out of pawns to play if he followed through on the laws he himself had made.
Then as Thor thanked him and turned to leave, inspiration struck. A way to continue blaming Loki.
Odin did not use his power of casting illusions as often as Loki had, but he could do it, of course. It was basic sorcery. Testing, he cast an illusion of his kidnapped Jotun prince over himself and looked down at the result.
Excellent. He then spoke aloud, experimentally, to see if he could also feign Loki’s voice.
“Oh, no,” he murmured. “Thank you.”
The sound was perfect. Excited plans ran through Odin’s mind. He would commence at once on evil and mayhem beyond even his usual deeds, and when—if—he was called to account for it, he would cast an illusion over himself so that he appeared to be Loki. Then Loki would take the blame and Thor would run amok through the Nine Realms seeking him, while Odin continued to reign in Asgard and escaped retribution yet again.