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Courteous Consort

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"You are mad if you don’t believe he will be furious over this." An Asgardian warrior fretfully glance across over the ruins of the tiny pillaged militant camp. Naked bodies of innocent Vanir soldiers being dragged and stacked one on top of the other. He noticed a single dead minstrel among them, At least not song shall be told of this deed. But next to the lyricist was a wounded woman, a healer who had been raped for the sake of the men’s amusement. Her neck had been slit by the end as she begged for her life and the crimson blood dyed into her white mane, she looked very young for her position; fourteen, no fifteen maybe. This young man had never seen such violence and guilt clenched his chest for not intervening with the attack. He had killed three soldiers but never has anticipated the spoils of war to be so violently taken.

He exhaled deeply, looking past his own group to the forest tree line, he looked for a place where he might empty his stomach in private.

“He is going to kill us I swear." He muttered.

"You're being melodramatic, boy." Bard, their commander, was far more at ease, as he worked a cloth over his sword - each wipe staining it redder. "Complications happen. Now get those costumes on."

The other half a dozen Asgardians crouched by and slipping into their new ‘uniforms’ posing as Vanir soldiers. The blood splattered could be excused as hunting stains and washed later.

"Yes Bard, complications that wouldn't have happened if we had only followed orders," Erik, an older solider who stood beside the young man muttered as he pulled on a pair of dead Vanir gauntlets.

This simple ambush turned into an unnecessary massacre. So close to the capital city, he feared that they might’ve been spotted however Bard deciphered since no one had noticed or would notice, all the troop would have to do is drive the royal carriage further and have the Asgardian’s use Vanir disguises and be escorts.

For now the troop waited for their King before marching forward. The great leader was not patient especially in his plans to take over Vanaheim, it took skill and a lot of cunning power to perform a trick like this; but to do this he would send in a carriage decoy, after all the people of Vanaheim were not deaf. They’d heard of the King’s monstrous invasions upon the other realms. An assassination attempt upon his life was almost definite.

"What does it truly matter old man? After all, these bastards knew what they were getting into and died with…some honour… if you’d like?” the commander snarked, “Our King couldn’t care less over a enemy body count, the larger the better."

"You’re foolish to believe…” Erik slipped on a Vanir helmet, “That our king is not particular with his plans." He shook his head frowning at the commander who scoffed at this sudden outspoken solider.

"I won't hear any more of it you old moose. The method will never be perfect, not even for him surely."

The distant thundering of hooves sounded in the hillside, and they all quieted, eyes turned in unison to the figures on the horizon drawing closer and closer. The ground rumbled and quaked beneath their feet, their hearts pounding but the dark steed bounding towards them silences out the sound.

The young soldier held his breath and took two steps back before falling to his knees and bowing his head.

Finally, a great eight legged warhorse cantered into view and sitting high astride it was the King Loki himself. His dark hair waved in the wind, his eyes narrowing sharply onto the mass corpse hill. His mouth formed into a displeased sneer. He clicked his tongue to his other riders behind him, guarding him should he require the aid. The men upon beasts spread out around the destroyed campsite.

The Erik made no move to bow to the man upon the beast. Bard stopped polishing his sword and slammed it back into its sheath, standing up to the warlord. Bard, the young man had noticed, looked visibly uncomfortable, his Adam’s apple bopping up and down. He blessed the king with an uneasy smile.

"Your grand Majesty, pray, not look upon this desolate. There was no other way in which we could have taken over peacefully." He exasperated.

“T’was not peace required Commander Bard, you were to hold them with force and intimidation.” Loki sighed disappointingly. He dismounted from his dear Sleipnir, taking of his gloves as he strode over to the body heap; flies like a plague surrounding the corpses already laying in their putrid eggs and maggot births.

Bard was hot on his kings tail, his voice heightened in pitch, "W-we attempted to target the camp and go forward with the uniforms, as you commanded, but - "

"But you grew tired of waiting, is that it?" Loki said lazily, as the toe of his boot nudged the carcass of the young female healer. Rolling her over, he inspected the large bloody gapping of her holes. She had been torn with something much more than a simple man’s cock, his nose wrinkled and he grimaced in disgust of his men.  

From behind him the military official quickly piped, “Nay, your majesty I had thought the better interest in lowering the risk of men that might follow us into Vanahall and warn fellow soldiers now, lest we lack the time due to the plans to-”

"The feast isn't for hours yet?" continued Loki. His jaw clenched as he followed the drag lines of blood to the bodies. “These Vanir soldiers have been dead for hours…you attack sooner than advised and still decided to conduct this mission?”

He grimly looked back to the commander.

"Yes my King," admitted Bard, though he hurriedly added after realising his mistake, "but your majesty, it was by no means an unethical move and-” His bravado had faltered a little as Loki stepped closer.

“You raped a child and slaughtered twenty men… that is not an unethical attack, of course not, yes.” Loki licked his lips and smiled indulgently, "I only see an entirely rational decision made by the great Commander Bard Slavson."

Bard looked up, the shocked of disbelief and flush joy spread across his features. "Th-thankyou your grace, I am honoured."

"I would never oppose intelligent efficiency, never," Loki tucked his gloves into his belt and smirked, "That would make me look like a failure in my vision and commander afterall,” Loki exhaled, “ it does seem the same… Doesn't it?"

The young Asgardian soldier watched as this conversation played out, it was terrifying and unbelievable, but he was confused by the way Erik was smiling like he was watching a comedic theatre play. Erik noticed the youth and winked, to him, “Keep watching boy.” He whispered.

Bard was gleaming with pride, nodding and agreeing, “Indeed My lord, just the same!”

Loki then started to laugh…and Bard too laughed for the sake of following his King’s amusement…

"Of course," continued Loki. He rested his hands onto the commander’s shoulders and shook him, holding his side like a close friend. The King wiped his eyes of tears that had formed from his long chuckling state. He sighed and smiled again….a colder smile, "the absence of these soldiers will be noticed, once they fail to report to their commanding officers.” Bards smile fell instantly, “And once you arrive, doubtless they will ask what happened to your guard. But I suppose you've thought of this too."

"That's - ah..." Bard stumbled a little, treading back to uncertainty.

Erik rolled his eyes and approached his king steadily with levelled confidence of a true soldier, "Perhaps we could say that bandits ambushed us, My King?" he suggested. Resting his hands on his hips he looked with his grey eyes straight into Loki’s green, no fear of disrespect.

"Splendid soldier." Loki's attention returned to Bard smile was just wide enough to show teeth. "You had claimed that there was not the remotest chance of anyone witnessing your little transgression, yes? I say that since you decided to fight them where they were and dragged their bodies later, instead of luring them off into the woods before your unnecessary bloodthirsty attack - again, as I had ordered. I'm sure you have a reasonable explanation for this as well." His voice stayed placid and yet his grin never waved into anything else, its stillness stressing the situation greater as his eyes started to enlarge and become threatening to even look at.

Erik stepped away and made it clear that he was in no way in defence of his military superior. Loki found it charming.

“Your Majesty, you must understand that the perimeter is completely safe from all enemy gaze and in addition-”

Loki’s hands on Bard’s shoulders moved to both wrap around the man’s neck without warning. The commander choked under the hands of his King, his fingers clawing at the strong cold hand. Still the smile was set on the royal lips. Bard resembled the same face of a caught fish, shocked and gasping for air as his pale face started melding into purple.

Loki closed his eyes, his grin shrinking into a small smile, he stressed through his teeth "I. Don't. Like. Unnecessary risks!" he said, when the wheezing Bard’s eyes started to roll, Loki released him and sighed, "It is by luck that you haven’t been, if not you will be dragged back to Asgard with only your ankles tied to Sleipnir."

As Bard coughed and gasped for his lost air, his king placed the heel of his boot over his out stretched hand, pinning him down like a helpless moth, “I give my orders for a reason Commander. Far be it for you to question them, much less think of an ambush and a slaughter as 'the same' and ‘ethical’ in my plans."

The young Asgardian finally lost his stomach when he heard the awful crunching snap of Loki slamming his foot onto Bard’s hand, fingers undoubtedly breaking under the force. The man shrieked in pain and cried as he cradled his mangled hand to his chest, blood running out and over the Vanir clothes. Like a kicked dog he whimpered and cowered away from the royal warlord.  

Loki stepped over the weeping man and marched back to his steed, climbing onto the saddle he put his gloves back on. A sickening grin of power fuelling was clear on his face. His eyes cast down to the boy and elder who provided him words of witty excuse. 

“You ser, what is your name?”

The old man got to one knee slowly and bowed his head, “I am Erik Erikson, your majesty.”

He did not quake and did not lick the posterior of the king like Bard had done, he was noble.

Loki merely watched him a few moments longer, and in fact he seemingly revived some strange and honest sense of pleasantness again.

Loki pointed down his finger to the age soldier his voice strong and filled with unwavering honest judgement, "Erik Erikson…I like your story about the bandits, it covers up that imbeciles lack of obedience to his king’s command. You will be named Captain Charge. Lead these men into the city and do not disappoint me. You may continue with the plan."

Erik rose and nodded without hesitation in is voice, “As you command sire.” He turned to the rest of the troops, “Do not burn the dead, the smoke will attract more Vanir Soldiers. Gather every weapon you can find and bury them should they hold anything but the Vanaheim Sigil. We move out to the highway in an hour!”

A cry of shock shot out from Bard, "But my…hand... "

Many soldiers started to hastily move and go through every tent, looting for the weapons to go with the part they played. Erik commanded that the boy write a letter on the peaceful nature of the horizon and send a raven back to the officers in the city. The king was pleased, he rode passed the weeping man who looked like a snot covered red frog.

He chuckled, "Dear Bard, how terrible for the bandits to have attacked you, you best find a bandage and a healer…oh wait, you let her die. Such a shame.” Loki on the other had no shame as he casually sighed while he steadied his excited horse still, "And nothing can truly be as sympathetically distracting from a suspicious incident as pity." 

Without so much as another word, kicking his feet into Sleipnir’s flank, Loki and his band of riders rode off ahead back to the royal carriage. His silhouette faded far into the distance of the tree line.

Captain Erik smiled with a prideful huff, he walked up to the crying puddle of Bard and ripped him up onto his feet by his arm. "Well Bard…it would seem you were indeed correct," he said dryly, as he helped his commander to his feet. "It was not at all the body count that bothered him."

The gods and goddess’ of Vanaheim all stood within the great hall. There were plants hanging from the roof tops, flowers all in bloom in the night. The spring solstice had hit in this realm and the people celebrated with hopeful hearts of peace and tranquillity. Great green vines circled the hall pillars, walls covered in moss and splendid perfumes filled the room all at once! The tables centrepieces were small trees with bird houses, little finches dipping in and out of their hidey holes. Animal illusions floated above the rafters, blue seiðr made rabbits hopping along the sky while fawns and does walked the floors and through the guests.

The theme was spring but out of the sake of the fun festival, everyone also wore animal masks. Alright, actually it was just a request made by Princess Freya. It was her holiday in a way.

She thought her mother’s ideas were logically lacking sometimes yet they were thought with good heart. The princess had decided to meld into the sideline, watching the other guests with her friend Lord Byggvir. She yawned as she used her Seiðr to make sure the flowers continued to stay alive. The roses beside her shoulders lifted and bloomed within seconds. She tired of all this. Socialising with people who didn’t even know her, playing the quiet, submissive and almost unintelligent creature. It was not who she was! Parties were not fun for her unlike the rest of her family who loved to dance and sing and make love. She wanted to go read a book on seiðr, figure out how to use it in defence of danger or even start a political debate on the possible outcomes of certain leaders’ choices. Instead she was stuck to be a unseen and ‘sacred’ piece that would be married off to make alliances.

In no fashion was she opposed to union of marriage, the idea of Midgardian marriage however interested her more. Those short lived creatures married to have a long bond, to be faithful and normally out of undying love for each other; here it’s a case of godly powers and you need not be so faithful as long as you knew who you were married to- it’s probably why her mother never married. She never knew her father but some speculated it might’ve been a brave warrior named Óttar, a Vanir who could transform himself into a boar. It was funny to think one might have an actual pig for a father. She would love to be married, however after Hogun…

Oh yes! Did I mention her name? Not the most beautiful name at all despite her mother being the goddess of beauty.

"A rather disappointing showing, don't you agree dear Snotra?" young Lord Byggvir commented as he returned with two chalices in hand, giving one to her with a graceful bow to his head, he smirked, "Here I was, expecting the War King of Asgard to be some ferrel, smelly and dark looming monster. Yet, we have...that instead."

He nodded over to where the Asgardian King, Loki, and his congregants were currently in conversation with his Vanir counterpart, the King Njord, and his grandson, the Prince Gersimi. King Loki had been, overall, extraordinarily pleasant and almost docile throughout the night, which went against every word of his reputation.

He had a kind smile and looked far older than she had truly anticipated. His grey eyes poked out from a goat mask, horns sticking up and curling up into the light like a magnificent crown. His wrinkle cheeks pulled up with every laugh and never resting smile. At least the Kings were getting along as her grandfather handed the Warlord another mug of ale. Princess Snotra accepted the golden cup from her companion with a demure dip of her golden head. She was contemplating drinking it and going to bed early but also reframed from the idea of risking danger from the Asgardian guards that come with the King.

"Gersimi called him a raisin," she giggled slightly, recounting the immature words of her twin brother. Her laughing was kept quiet however, she feared the wrath of her grandmother’s ear and smacking walking staff. She looked around the corner just to make sure she was safe from the old woman.

Her friend cackled, placing his drink on a stone bench, sitting next to it and clapping his hands softly. He rose his cup to Snorta and when they clinked he spoke into his drink, “I cannot disagree that the bastard looks like one, can we? Wrinkled and dried."

Snorta sat next to him and took a sip of the wine brewed last week, she grimaced at the taste, “It makes me wonder Byggvir, how did he wage all those wars and win every battle? I will not lie, I have been deceived and disappointed by all the stories.”

Byggvir leaned in and whispered into the princess’ ear, “Maybe that’s all they are…stories.”

The pair laughed together and clinked cups again, this time Snotra didn’t drink.

Stories might be right, this elder man may have been a brilliant warrior when he was younger a millennia ago but there was no way in Hel had this god been able to almost wipe out the giants species. This War Lord had supposedly rage nothing but havoc. And anyone who stood up to him were either killed or enslaved. Snotra was interested and would’ve been honoured to speak with him about his actions against the other realms. And the risk of another war between the Vanaheim and Asgard was possible should this night not go agreeably. Before her birth he had been a part of the war between the Vanir and Aesir Gods; something fierce and bloody, stuff of nightmares and horror bedtime stories told by her uncle Freyr. Thanks to their king Odin and her grandfather Njord, an agreement was settled that there would be peace under the conditions of honesty and allegiance in war…which had not been followed during the conquest of jotunheim.

The legendary brutality of King Loki was something Uncle Freyr refrained from completely revealing, or at least going into great detail. Snotra had the chance to sneak around the war council, serving her grandfather his wine as a docile piece of his kingdom; she had heard that the King Loki’s intelligence was beyond comprehension, his battlement skills superb and always unfailing! He was as cunning as he was smart and ruthless. Maybe this old king was aged by his knowledge?

“My Lady!” came the familiar call of her good friend and loyal handmaiden, Beyla. The young woman came skipping over to Snotra’s side.

Byggvir was speechless, a slight blush formed over the young lords cheeks. He glanced away and flustered with his fidgeting hands as he stood up to her, “Y-your dress milady Beyla, it’s gorgeous…you are a stunning dove.” His hand shakily took grasp of hers and kissed her fingers quickly. He gulped and released her swiftly.

Beyla tugged her bird bea mask a little down as she too reddened in the face.

Snotra had seen this small crush form over the years, her heart sighing at the sweet innocence of Byggvir and the blunt blinking of Beyla. Beyla, could not resist his attentive gaze. It is why she wore the lord’s favourite colour, sea blue.

After the two continued to converse and ask each other trivial questions such as how they were feeling at the moment and if they were planning to do anything later. Gentle flirting. Eventually Snotra stood to leave and Byggvir’s attention turned to her.

"Your highness, his majesty, your grandfather should know that, should it ever come to it, Vanahall will always have the aid of my people in the north," he said, with the same noble kind of his late father. 

"Lord Byggvir, I will always remember the promise and your people’s kindness," said Snotra, with a smile which knew how to stretch up into her eyes. 

Her handmaiden looked over to the sight of the two Kings and scoffed, "I somehow just cannot believe it My Lady. King Njord inviting a criminal here into our home and throwing this celebration; we b ith know it is not for the spring like Lady Freya says. Gods higher than thee!” she sighed, “To throw this ball in his honour? It’s barbaric and an insult. Do you not think of General Hogun? May he rest in peace."

Snotra felt a drip fall onto her face, wiping her hand up beneath her cat mask she realised that it was a tear. Beyla had not meant to upset Snotra, they were friends and almost sisters after all. But the mention of her beloved Hogun hit too hard and too early for her. Everyone knew what Loki had done to her fiancé, he had killed him when he represented Vanaheim and refused to bend his knee in submission to Loki. Loki had threatened to kill everyone on Vanaheim if they sent another disrespectful and treasonous fool to him. All that was left of the General was his hand clutching his sword, sent back in a wooden chest.

Snotra trembled, "He doesn't have the look of a conqueror at all about him, I truly cannot imagine how he managed to steal the General from us." Her eyes followed back to the old man drinking his ale with a large grin. She hated him more than she wanted to breathe and she didn’t even have to know his name in that moment. Something did tell her thought, that in his eyes was no violence, but it couldn’t be right as he was a war king that everyone feared so greatly!

Beyla saw her mistakes and comforted her lady, “Forgive me, I had not mean to summon his memory so," she said. "I had merely mean-”

“I know what you were meaning Beyla, why invite the very Asgardian scum that murdered the man I cared deeply for.”

Byggvir piped up “Look at the snake, it is like inviting serpents into your garden and expecting them to remain humble and unthreatening. They are not to be trusted, after what they did, what they’ve done. He is a mad king who almost killed all the Jotun." He paused, whispering, "Forgive me dear Snotra, your grandfather is a fool."

Even with all this political discussion that was nearly obnoxious to the supposedly delicate temperaments of a princess. Her Grandfather she agreed might’ve been foolish in the sense of fear. Hogun was his general and his grandchild’s fiancé- Hogun was his greatest warrior and Loki destroyed him. King Njord was horrified by the chest.

Snotra looked at her grandfather and sighed, he must’ve hoped he could make peace with the warmonger called King Loki over a fun dinner party filled with pretty women and great food…she shook her head, it was her business no matter what anyone told her. She was a royal princess and goddess of Vanaheim, she made a vow to love and protect her people and home; if this king thought to tear it down, it was her business!! If King Njord actually believed that the war king, with all his ‘calm’ airs, could be trusted to not rage a war against this realm and pull a rug from beneath their feet; that was considered to only be “his business”. Snotra tried not to care too much, because she did not want to be punished for speaking out of turn. Her grandmother made sure of it that the girl not become too invested in the men’s way of plans.

She rolled her eyes and sighed. The princess handed her wine over to Beyla and shook her head, “My friend Byggvir, King Loki is a globalist, expanding his reign and power over the nine realms…snakes do not spread, they hide in holes and sometimes even eat their young. King Loki and the Asgardians are…wolves, spreading out his pack across the universe and hunting down the weak until they either submit or are eaten alive….Excuse me my lord Byggvir.” Snotra nudged Beyla's side as she passed her with her elbow. When her servant started to followed the princess raised her hand slightly, “I wish to reside in solitude this evening.”

“As you wish My Lady.”

Both women and man bowed to one another as Snorta fled outside through the crowd.