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Harsh World Unyielding

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Loki stood stoically before the Allfather. He wanted to appear completely indifferent, as though no punishment imposed could have any effect on him.

You’ve spent my entire life neglecting me, old man, he thought. I will not give you the satisfaction of witnessing my discomfort now that I finally have your attention. Had Loki been in command of his voice at that moment, he would have spat these words out like a venom. But given his current vocal limitations, he instead chose to glare at Odin with all the contempt he could muster.

Odin stared back, his single eye devoid of any compassion, then nodded to Loki’s captors, who pushed him to his knees. The sudden force caught Loki by surprise - he had not expected his fa - Odin! to impose such a shameful position on him in front of all of Asgard! - but when he tried to resist, the weight of Sif and Fandrals’ hands kept him down.

It greatly embarrassed him that a woman could compel him to kneel, but he couldn’t seem to fight back against their strength. He was still weakened from his encounter with the great green beast.

The upside of his situation was that at least the muzzle was removed, allowing him to stretch his raw, aching jaw. Plus, he would now be able to use his words against the man before him, the father he so hated.

“Loki Laufeyson!” Odin’s voice boomed, and Loki felt a wave of relief that at least the Allfather had gotten his parentage right.

“You appear before this court to face judgment for countless crimes of the most heinous nature. You have not only maliciously invaded a benevolent realm, destroying hundreds of innocent lives, but you have betrayed the realm in which you were raised, obliterating the trust we have placed in you these past two millennia. Such disreputable behavior merits a severe sentence. I have already decided what that sentence will be, but before I pronounce judgment, what say you regarding your actions? Can you offer any explanation for what you have done?”

“Is it so hard to comprehend?” Loki allowed a wide grin to spread across his features, knowing that his answer would enrage Odin and horrify Thor. “I wanted to rule, as is my birthright. I would have presided over Midgard like a benevolent god! Any injuries its people sustained were the fault of their own resistance. I have no desire to harm dutiful, obedient subjects. The disloyal and ungrateful, on the other hand…”

“Silence!” spat Odin. “Your birthright was to die! Laufey rejected you as a runt, as unworthy to inherit his throne! Ergo you have no claim whatsoever to subjects [of any kind]! Had you contented yourself with your position within my family, you may have one day ruled. But that is no longer a possibility. So be silent!”

In any other situation, Loki would have come back with a clever retort, but, though he’d never admit it, Odin’s words had hurt him.

He was ashamed of his Jotun heritage. The Asgardians hated the blue-skinned Frost Giants; viewed them as monstrous, and it sickened Loki to think that he was one of those monsters. And that he hadn’t been welcome in their realm either. Despair welled up inside of him and he found himself unable to respond.

“Ah, you listen.” Odin smiled, and Loki’s shame deepened.

“Now that you’ve said your piece, deplorable as it may have been,” continued the Asgardian king, “we shall proceed on to the sentencing.”

Loki’s heart began to pound in his chest. He was still determined not to react - they would never take his pride! - but he did fear the words that Odin would soon speak. He truly had no idea what to expect.

But there was nothing he could do to prevent what was to come, so he took a deep breath and waited.

“Loki Laufeyson,” Odin began. “Your crimes against both Asgard and Midgard are great. As such, I have selected a punishment under which you will adequately atone for your offenses in both realms.”

He stepped forward, staring at Loki with his one good eye. The dark-haired prisoner involuntarily stepped back, a chill running down his spine.

“Firstly,” the Allfather declared firmly, “your status as prince of Asgard is from this day null and void. You no longer will hold a place in the line of succession, nor will you claim the respect and privileges that a prince of this realm enjoys.

Obviously, thought Loki. He’d never expected to keep his title.

“Consequently,” Odin went on, “Asgard can no longer claim a stronger right to punish you than other realms.”

Loki saw Thor raise his eyebrows in surprise.

Odin straightened up. “Therefore, you will be stripped of your magic and immortality and sent to Midgard, where your actions caused the greatest damage and suffering. Our mortal allies have agreed to oversee your punishment for crimes against their realm. You will serve whatever sentence they see fit and will be allowed re-entrance to Asgard only if the reigning king ever deems it appropriate and only after the mortals decide you have paid proper penance. This is my decree.”

The hall erupted.

The noise was, if possible, even louder than before Odin had commenced the hearing. Most of the Aesir seemed to be jeering in approval, but a noticeable few appeared incensed that the sentence was anything other than execution.

But Loki hardly noticed the reactions of those surrounding him. Indignation and disbelief burned inside of him.

He couldn’t keep the shock off his face. He never would have guessed this. Banishment, yes, but to be forced to serve a sentence on Midgard, powerless and human? It was unthinkable!

Somewhere in the midst of all the surrealism, Loki found his voice.

“You cannot!” he exclaimed, fighting to conceal the nerves beneath a mask of anger. “You have no right to transform me into a mere mortal, nor to lower me to the level of human criminals - ”

“Don’t I? interrupted Odin in a piercing tone. “You brought yourself to that level, Loki Laufeyson. And nothing will stop me from ensuring that you get what you deserve.”

“You bastard!” spat Loki. “I will KILL you! DO YOU HEAR ME?” he screamed, bucking against the grip of his guards and attempting without success to hurl himself at the Allfather.

“Oh, I hear you well, Laufeyson,” said Odin. “But your threats are empty. You cannot harm me, nor will you ever harm any Asgardian ever again. You can rest assured of that.”

“Just wait,” Loki snarled. “I will escape my captivity, destroy your precious realm, and then slit your throat!”

Odin simply waved a hand dismissively. “I tire of this,” he said. “Sif, Fandral.”

Then the former prince of Asgard felt himself yanked to his feet and pulled towards the door, the despicable muzzle placed once again on his mouth as they walked. He refused to look back, but he could hear Frigga and Thor pleading with the Allfather, imploring that he might reconsider the banishment.

Fools, thought Loki. They’d probably release him if given the option. Which, of course he wouldn’t object to, but still… it would be rather stupid on their part.

But Odin would never alter his original sentence. Loki knew this. He was going to be forced to return to the realm whose inhabitants despised him possibly even more than the Aesir, and he would be left at their mercy. At the mercy of puny, weak, mortal beings, hardly worthy to lick the dust from his shoes!

He would not go quietly.

The Allfather would know his wrath even if physically there was nothing he could do to harm him.

And so, with these thoughts, Loki was led away to the dungeons, irate and fuming, but with absolutely no power to change his situation.