Chapter 1: The Witch of the Ironwood
The Járnviðr stretched as far as the eye could see, growing thick and lush in the deep valleys of the Utgard Mountains, reaching as far as the Amsvartnir, the largest lake on Jotunheim. In the Járnviðr lived those of a druidic and shamanistic inclination, along with those who had been banished from Utgard by King Laufey. Among those who had offended the King was Angrboða, a fiery red haired Frost Giantess who had a proficiency for witchcraft and shapeshifting.
Angrboða lived by herself in a hut set deep into the Ironwood, her only companionship coming from the two giant wolves Hati and Sköll. They would often go hunting together, Angrboða adopting the form of a wolf to accompany them on the hunt, pursuing elk and boar and the occasion muskox.
During one of their hunts, Hati peeled off from the pack, heading in the direction of a forest clearing. Angrboða and Sköll followed closely, the witch shifting back into her Jötunn form when she saw a sight she hadn’t been expecting.
Flowers. Beautiful blue flowers. Deep green leaves. Thorny vines. All wrapped around what looked like a closed pink flower bud which was larger than the surrounding flowers. These flowers weren’t native to Jotunheim. From what she could tell, the flowers were native to Vanaheim.
The flower bud began to shake. Intrigued, Angrboða crept forward and cautiously started cutting the vines away with her hunting knife, the two wolves circling the vicinity, clearly suspicious and on edge. As the pink flower bud continued to shake, Angrboða reached out with one blue hand and touched it.
Instantly, the shaking stopped.
And then the petals began to peel away, slowly exposing the rather sticky form of a tiny little baby. She looked like a Vanir, though even Vanir babies weren’t so delicate and small as she appeared to be. A dusting of golden curls covered her head, and a pair of golden eyes slowly opened to stare at Angrboða curiously.
Angrboða managed to grab the baby before they could fall to the ground, holding the tiny creature in her large hands, completely in shock. She had never heard of the Vanir birthing their children from the soil, she had never heard anything to suggest flowers were involved in their childbirth. This tiny fragile little creature, however, seemed to be unique and special.
“You are a curious one,” Angrboða murmured, the sound of her voice causing the baby to squeak. The Frost Giantess felt her heart begin to melt when the baby, despite being a newborn, managed to smile up at her. “Hati, Sköll, continue with your hunting. I intend on taking the child to the Mothers. Perhaps they will know more about this… precious flower.”
The Mothers all fell in love with the tiny creature the moment they saw her sleepily yawning in Angrboða’s hand. Irma, one of the younger Mothers, who was heavily pregnant and prone to crying, took the child from the witch and proceeded to feed her from her breast.
“She is so delicate…” Irma cooed, her copper-coloured hair falling over the baby’s face. The little baby reached up and tugged on Irma’s hair, greedily guzzling the Jötunn’s milk.
“You say you found her in the Járnviðr?” Fárbauti, the mate of Laufey, asked Angrboða. Unlike Laufey, Fárbauti was very close friends with the exiled witch, often visiting her alongside her own young child, the runt Loptr.
“Hati found her,” Angrboða said, glancing towards the wolf in question, who was being petted by Helblindi and Býleistr, Fárbauti’s older sons. The mongrel was relishing in being lavished in so much attention, her tongue lolling out, her back leg twitching. “It was as if she grew from the earth itself. She was encased in the bud of a flower, and when I touched it, the petals fell and revealed this little one.”
Eistla, one of the older Mothers, who had her own litter of children gathered around her as they took turns having their hair washed in the hot springs, seemed to remember something. “Are you certain she is not a fae being? It sounds similar to the stories I have heard, of certain faeries and nymphs being birthed from the earth.”
“There were flowers native to Vanaheim. She has the aura of one from Vanaheim.” Angrboða smiled faintly when the baby belched, Irma doing a wonderful job of bringing up her wind. “Perhaps the Norns have blessed me with a child…”
“Perhaps…” Eistla said, exchanging a look with Fárbauti. “She will never be fully accepted, Angrboða.”
“I am aware, Eistla.” Angrboða disliked the presumption that she was ignorant of the situation. She knew all too well the wrath of the Jötnar.
“Mama, can I hold the baby?” came the tiny voice of Loptr, who looked almost as cute as the little baby. He had wild black hair and crimson eyes and the same shade of blue bumpy skin as his mother, but he was significantly shorter than he should have been for one his age. Despite being a runt, Fárbauti loved him with all her heart, as did all the other Mothers.
There were many runts on Jotunheim, but most were persecuted or used for sordid purposes. Hopefully, with the King’s own son being a runt, the attitude towards more diminutive members of Jötnar society would start to alter. The Mothers could only hope, for Loptr’s sake, that attitudes would change.
“Be gentle with her,” Fárbauti reminded her son, keeping a keen eye on him as he accepted the baby from Irma and awkwardly cradled her, sitting down on the ground so he wouldn’t fall over with her.
The baby’s golden eyes stared at Loptr, tiny hands flailing in the air, soft rosy lips smacking together as she fought the urge to fall asleep, entranced with her new friend.
“What’s her name?” Loptr asked Angrboða.
“She doesn’t have one yet, young prince.”
“Can I name her then, Aggyboo?” Loptr’s wide eyed imploring look got to Angrboða, so much so that she found herself nodding despite her misgivings. Loptr grinned in delight. “I like the name Sága. Her eyes look like they see a lot, and I think she’ll be really clever like me!”
“It’s a beautiful name,” Fárbauti said softly, pleased when Angrboða seemed to agree.
“Little Sága…” Angrboða took the baby from Loptr and cradled her close to her bosom. “I will protect you with my life, little one. This I promise.”
Sága smiled up at her sleepily before nodding off, full of milk and warm in the soft blankets the Mothers had provided. Angrboða knew it was not going to be easy, raising a child by herself in the Járnviðr, but she swore to herself that she would do everything in her power to ensure her tiny little child was happy and safe.
She would not fail her as she had failed her own children. She would not see another child die before her eyes. Not while there was still breath in her body.
Loptr, when he was old enough for Fárbauti to feel comfortable enough leaving him alone with Angrboða, would often stay in the witch’s hut learning seiðr and coming to terms with his own powers. He excelled at shapeshifting, he delighted in creating illusions, he was fascinated by conjuration and the art of manipulating people with words alone. He was a remarkably clever and somewhat devious little boy, and Angrboða adored and despised him in equal measures.
Little Sága was always inconsolable whenever Loptr returned to Utgard. She adored the older child, and he in turn adored her, often playing with her in the woods or helping her get dressed or bathing her in the nearby pond. Once she got old enough to walk by herself and talk in sporadic sentences, she began practicing seiðr alongside Loptr.
Her proficiency wasn’t illusions or shapeshifting, but rather, it was using nature to her advantage. No doubt it was due to the peculiar circumstances surrounding her birth that she held such passion for nature, and nature in turn seemed to adore her. Animals would approach her, even the shy owls that would hunt at night. She showed hints of druidic abilities, and Angrboða was incredibly proud of her.
Angrboða knew, however, that she couldn’t keep her little one protected from the outside world for too much longer. Sooner or later, she would have to accept the truth: she couldn’t fully protect her daughter.
But until then, she reveled in watching her and Loptr growing up together, growing stronger and more determined with each passing day.
Angrboða smirked at the look of bemusement on the prince’s face. “Go on, Loppy,” she teased, “Sága wants to play with you.”
He set down his book with a huff, but Angrboða knew he was just causing a scene for the sake of causing a scene. He was as dramatic as his Kingly father, perhaps even more so at times.
Angrboða followed him out of the hut, smiling in wicked delight when she saw Sága had set up an area so Loptr could sit and eat the lunch she had graciously prepared.
“Loppy, I make you food!” Sága rubbed her belly and licked her lips. “So yummy!”
Loptr respectfully disagreed.
“Er…” He picked up an earthworm and grimaced. “It looks delicious, Flower, but… I’m afraid I have an upset stomach.”
“Oh no!” Sága’s face fell. She rushed over to him and pressed her tiny hands onto his belly. Angrboða watched in fascination as a pinkish light began wrapping around Sága’s tiny hands, seeping into Loptr’s belly. The boy grunted in surprise, looking at Angrboða in stunned amazement.
“Better?” Sága asked him.
“Better…” He stepped back and nearly tumbled into Angrboða. “Aggyboo… my tummy was a little bit sore but it feels all better. She’s so powerful…”
“She is indeed.” Angrboða’s eyes followed Sága as the little (currently pink-skinned) girl started making mud castles, smearing dirt all over herself when she had to scratch an itch on her nose. Angrboða couldn’t stop the feeling of dread from setting in. If Laufey ever found out how powerful Sága was… The memories of her own children threatened to overwhelm her, but the witch pushed them back down. Now was not the time to mourn. Now was the time to decide what was the correct thing to do with Sága.
It was on the sled ride back to the outskirts of Utgard when Angrboða finally came to a realisation. She didn’t know how to train one with the art of bending nature to her will. She was not a druid, she was a witch and a shapeshifter, she was not proficient in teaching Sága how to grow vines or how to nourish the soil. For all she knew, her Sága could turn out to be a Fertility God!
She knew a druid. A very powerful druid.
They made a detour, heading deep into the heart of the valley, scaling the mountain paths until they reached the small village of Klaustur. It was there where they would find Jörð.
Jörð was a powerful Giantess who was said to have mothered the Allfather’s own golden haired son Thor. She was a powerful figure, dominating any gathering she was in, with golden blonde hair and the skin of an Æsir. No wonder the Allfather had been infatuated with her.
“Angrboða, it has been many moons since your last visit to Klaustur.” Jörð’s voice was like the moving earth, like a waterfall, powerful and deep and melodic and oddly soothing. “You have brought me the little flower child, I see. I sensed her birth all those years ago. The earth welcomes her to Klaustur, as do I.”
“Thank you, Mother Jörð.” Angrboða bowed her head in reverence, with both Loptr and Sága imitating her.
“And you are the trickster…” Jörð turned her focus onto Loptr, who shied under the intensity of her brown-eyed gaze.
“Yes, Mother Jörð.” He cleared his throat before saying, “You are very beautiful, if I may be so bold.”
Jörð chuckled affectionately. “He is clever with his tongue, that one. I shall have to watch out for him in the future.” Her focus shifted to Sága, who was bobbing up and down brimming with anxious energy. As soon as Jörð crouched down and offered the child her hand, Sága visibly relaxed.
“You are a very special little girl, Sága,” she said softly, her voice like soothing birdsong. “Would you like to know why you were born on Jotunheim?”
Sága nodded before remembering to use her words. “Yes please Mother Jörð…”
Jörð sat down and motioned for the two children to join her, bringing them onto her lap and holding them affectionately, while Angrboða observed carefully, noting the care the Giantess took with the two delicate children.
“Many years ago, there was a terrible conflict in a realm called Niflheim. The Allfather had sent his most powerful warriors to execute his own child, Hela. The Valkyries were powerful and strong but in order to lock Hela up forevermore in her prison, their lives had to be sacrificed.
“One of the Valkyrie was a young Æsir called Hildegunn. She had fallen in love with the Vanir God Bragi, whose family was descended from exiled Jötnar who had fled to Vanaheim during the reign of the cruel king Ymir. She was with child when she perished, but the Norns saw fit to rescue her innocent unborn baby. The tiny life form was planted in the Járnviðr, protected by a precious healing flower native to Vanaheim. And then, of course, you know the rest.”
The children were silent, taking it all in. Angrboða was stunned by the revelation that she had been right all along: the Norns had indeed blessed her with a child. With tears in her eyes, she knew what was about to happen would devastate her for many years to come, but she was doing it to keep her little one safe.
“Sága, you are going to live with Jörð and her people here in Klaustur so you can learn all about your special powers.” Angrboða’s heart sank at the look of betrayal on her little one’s face. “I will visit as often as I can-”
“No!” Sága burst into hysterical tears. “No, Mama! No!”
It took quite a while for the child to calm down. She was still sniffling as Angrboða and Loptr were saying their farewells, her tiny hand encapsulated in Jörð’s larger hand. She looked even more fragile and delicate than usual, and Angrboða wanted to scoop her up and take her home to the Járnviðr, but she couldn’t. She couldn’t do that to her little one.
“Bye, Flower…” Loptr said sadly, embracing his friend for what would undoubtedly be the last time for many years.
“Bye Loppy… miss you…”
Angrboða crouched down before her baby and kissed her brow and smoothed down her erratic curls. “You are forever in my heart, my flower child.”
“Mama…” Sága handed Angrboða the soft blanket she often used as a source of comfort. It had been the one the Mothers had gifted her all those years ago. Angrboða took it, her hands trembling. “Miss you, Mama…”
Angrboða could only hold her in her arms for as long as possible. She held her composure until she could no longer see her little one waving at her as the sled traversed down the mountain path. She kept the tears at bay until she saw Jörð carrying Sága away into the warmth of her home. And then, with Loptr weeping next to her, she let her emotions get the better of her, weeping for the loss of another child.
War had come to Jotunheim.
The Æsir were after the Casket of Ancient Winters, determined to cripple the realm and Laufey along with it. Laufey, they claimed, was getting too big for his boots. He was threatening Midgard, a realm the Æsir had sworn to protect. And so, in retaliation, the Allfather had sent his armies down to cause havoc and bloodshed.
Jörð kept Sága safe and secure in the intricate tunnel system carved out in the mountains, where her clan would go to seek shelter from the ravages of Jotunheim’s winter months. It proved to be their salvation, for when they emerged, Jotunheim had changed.
The runt son of Laufey and Fárbauti was gone.
A mother’s sorrow could be felt in the breeze, in the roots of trees, in the snow that fell thick and heavy over the ruins of Utgard. Angrboða stepped through the carnage, Hati and Sköll both scarred and battered from the battle that had raged on for weeks, months, years maybe. Time was hard to tell in such calamitous situations.
At least her little one was safe.
Angrboða found Fárbauti gathered at the Temple along with the other Mothers and Helblindi, weeping over the bloodied cloth that had once belonged to her son. The Temple was untouched, the only pinnacle left unbroken by the Æsir.
“He should have been safe here!” Fárbauti wept. “Why did Laufey let him go?”
“For the Casket, Fárbauti…” Eistla whispered. “For the continued survival of our people. Loptr will prevail. The Allmother will be kind to him-”
“But he is my son!”
Silence descended upon the Temple.
“Angrboða…” Fárbauti looked at the witch, crimson eyes brimming with tears. “Your little one. Is she safe?”
“Good. Bring her here.”
Angrboða stared at Fárbauti. “I will not bring her to Utgard, Fárbauti, she would be killed-”
“We can use her. We can use her to get Loptr back. Trade them. One Æsir child for my son.”
“Your plan is flawed.” Eistla pointed out, with the other Mothers murmuring their concurrences. “Why would the Allfather want a strange little baby who was born from the earth? The only way to get your son back is to give Asgard the Casket. But doing so would kill us all. Loptr’s sacrifice should not be in vain.”
“HE IS MY SON!”
“I have lost my children,” Angrboða interrupted, her words a mere whisper, but loud enough to silence a hysterical Fárbauti. All eyes turned to her, including those of Hati and Sköll. It was not often Angrboða would speak of her lost children.
“I wanted my children to stay by my side always, even when I knew it wasn’t safe for them to do so. I was blinded by my own selfish need to have them with me, because I foolishly believed I alone could keep them safe. But I was wrong. When I took Sága to Jörð, I did so knowing it would break my heart. But in doing so, I knew she would be safer, I knew she was where she needed to be.
“Loptr is a remarkably clever boy, but being clever is not a skill desired by many Jötnar. He will forever be known as Laufey’s runt, but perhaps on Asgard… perhaps on Asgard, he will find a home for himself. Perhaps he will learn how to wield his seiðr better. Perhaps he will flourish and prosper. We cannot sacrifice every living being on Jotunheim for one child, no matter how much we miss him. The Allmother will keep him safe. She is a mother herself, we can trust her.”
Fárbauti was silent for a while, kneeling with her head bowed as though deep in prayer.
“The thought of another raising my son as their own… I love my boy with all my heart. But…” She looked around at them all, focusing on Helblindi in particular, who looked sorrowful and miserable. “Loptr does not share my blood.”
Helblindi’s eyes widened.
“I know the true reason Odin took Loptr and not one of my other children. Loptr is Odin’s grandson.”
The Mothers looked at one another, bewildered and shocked by these new revelations.
“During Hela’s crusade across the Nine Realms, she made an alliance with Laufey. He impregnated her. She gave birth to Loptr. She didn’t want him. But the moment I saw him, I knew he would always be my son. In my heart of hearts, he has and always shall be my son.”
“Hela is Loptr’s mother?” Irma whispered, horrified. “Oh, Fárbauti, you should have drowned him! He would have brought nothing but pain and misery-”
“He already has!” Eistla interrupted harshly, eyes blazing brightly. “That is the true reason why the Allfather came here, is it not? To control Hela’s spawn!”
“Enough!” Angrboða shouted. Fárbauti was weeping and tearing at her hair, a complete and utter wreck before their eyes. The Mothers fell silent, but their eyes still burned with venom. “Do not sully the memory of Fárbauti’s son. Return to your children. I shall stay here.”
The Mothers needed little persuading, with Helblindi choosing to follow them, sparing her mother a parting glance before taking Irma by the hand and walking away.
“He will be safe…” Angrboða assured the grieving mother, holding Fárbauti in her arms. “He will live, this I promise. He will live. And soon, he will return home to you, his rightful mother.”
And all those miles away from his home, trapped in a room with a burly blond boy and a beautiful blonde woman with the kindest smile he’d ever seen, Loptr began to dream of living life as an Æsir.
Chapter 2: The Congress of Worlds
Posting the second chapter now so ya'll get a feel for where I'm going with the story
Sága was inconsolable the first few days of being parted from her beloved Angrboða. It was all Jörð could do to quell her anguish, eventually resorting to gifting her with a tiny little kitten called Bygul. Bygul was a fae creature whose bloodline was of both Alfheim and Midgard. He was a black cat, with wide golden eyes the same shade as Sága’s own golden pair. They became fast friends, and Jörð could rest easy knowing that, for the time being, Sága was happy.
Jörð was a powerful druid, but she was also a Goddess. She was worshipped on Midgard as their Mother Nature, she was adored on Asgard for bequeathing them with their golden son Thor. She was rather unappreciated on Jotunheim, but she found that living and working in Klaustur was enough to give her a sense of belonging.
And now, she had a young apprentice to train.
At the centre of Klaustur was an imposing grey and black spiralling pillar that rippled with cracks of molten lava. It was the power source for all of Klaustur and the surrounding area, and something Jörð realised Little Sága was incredibly fascinated by.
“This is the Lavasøyle.” Jörð stated. “The pinnacle of Klaustur’s shamanistic abilities. It stands over fifty feet high, powered by the heart of a fire elemental.”
“A fire elly-mental?” Sága stammered, eyes going wide.
“Yes. A rogue band of Fire Demons slipped through a rift between the realms and invaded our homeland many years ago. I was the one to slay their cursed elemental.” Jörð couldn’t help but sound the faintest bit proud, especially when Sága cooed and gasped over her accomplishments.
“Was it scary?” Sága asked as they made their way towards the Great Hall of Klaustur, where dinner was being prepared for them and the other residents of the mountain village.
“A little,” Jörð admitted. “I had the support of my allies, however. It is good to have friends that will help you in dire situations. Remember that, little one.”
Jörð had to help Sága climb onto the bench so she could sit and have dinner at the large banquet table that stretched the entire length of the Great Hall. A few cushions had already been provided, allowing the young girl to sit comfortably and eat her dinner without obstruction.
“Mama Jörð?” she asked after a while. “Do you miss your baby?”
Jörð set her mug of tepid tea down, taking a moment to decide whether or not to be honest with the young girl. “In a manner of speaking… I suppose I do. But he was never really mine to miss in the first place.”
Sága frowned. “I don’t get it.”
Jörð gave her an indulgent smile. “Later, when you’re older, you’ll understand. For now, let us enjoy our dinner, shall we? We have a busy day tomorrow.”
Aspects of his childhood always remained a mystery to Loki. Sometimes, he would dream of a cold, savage land dominated by towering blue giants. Sometimes, he would dream of a father even crueller than Odin, with hatred and loathing in his crimson eyes. Sometimes, he would dream of a soft voice singing to him, a motherly love radiating from them. Sometimes, he would dream of having two older siblings, who would tease him mercilessly but protect him at all costs to spare him from their father’s wrath. Sometimes, he dreamt of a forest where a reclusive witch lived alongside two gigantic wolves, and he would often wake up in the form of a wolf as though the dream had inspired his shapeshifting tendencies.
And sometimes… sometimes Loki would dream of a little girl with golden hair and rosy cheeks, who was at home surrounded by nature, and whose voice would echo in his mind whenever he woke up, the same word each and every time.
He didn’t know what it meant, but he didn’t dare ask his parents. His father would simply dismiss it as being nonsense, but his mother would undoubtedly worry. She always worried about his dreams, and so he had stopped telling her about them once he realised how upset they made her. He didn’t know why it made her weep, but he didn’t like seeing his mother in such a state because of him.
Over time, as he had grown up, the dreams became less frequent. Soon, he had bigger things to worry about. He was a prince, he was the son of Odin, he would one day be king. He had training to do, he had to learn how to skillfully deal with politicians, he had to adapt and change with each and every situation. His greatest tool was his mind. And by the Norns, he was determined to use it to its full potential. No matter what anyone else said.
He was Loki of Asgard, and he was burdened with glorious purpose.
The Congress of Worlds was a once-in-a-blue-moon occasion hosted whenever great peril befell the Nine Realms. Svartalfheim had recently been plunged into civil war, and the Dark Elves, surprisingly, were reaching out for aid. It fell upon Loki to represent Asgard at the behest of his mother, who said it would do him good to show how responsible he could be. Odin had been reluctant at first, but Loki knew he had been swayed when Frigga had reminded him that Loki wouldn’t be there to meet Thor’s potential future queen. After the last time, both of them were unwilling to let Loki corrupt another poor unfortunate queen in the making.
The Congress was being held in Queen Aelsa Feathermoon’s Grand Palace, situated in the heart of Ljosalfgard, the capital of Alfheim. Representatives from across the Nine Realms were gathered, including, much to Loki’s dismay, representatives from Jotunheim.
He had heard many tales of the savage and brutish Jötnar from his father. They had waged war on Asgard years ago after committing atrocities on Midgard, their hunger for corruption and power fueling their desire to try to steal Asgard’s power. Odin had fought them back and weakened them, and his tales of triumph would always ring through the mead halls on the anniversary of Jotunheim’s defeat.
One of the advisors Frigga had sent along with her son was Týr, a battle-weary old soldier who was a close friend of Odin and one of the few people who could tolerate Loki. “We should introduce ourselves to the Frost Giants,” he stated.
“Because by making the first step, we look the better party.”
“Fair enough.” Loki followed alongside Týr to the gathering of Jötnar, who were huddled together whispering, or more than likely, conspiring on how best to disrupt proceedings. They stopped once they realised the Æsir were approaching.
Most of the Jötnar stood over six and a half feet tall, towering over both Loki and Týr. They eyed them mistrustfully, with one flame haired Jötunn striding forward, hand reaching for the crude dagger at his side.
“What business do you have with us, Æsir?” he spat out in a crude voice.
“We merely wish to offer our well wishes for the meeting to come,” Loki said in his most persuasive tone, a smirk lingering on his lips when the Jötunn glared at him. “We must set aside our differences for the betterment of the Nine Realms. Now is not the time for fighting. So, do we have an accord?”
Loki extended his hand.
“Býleistr, do not shake his hand.”
Loki’s head whipped around, eyes narrowing at the sight of a rather petite looking young woman approaching the two groups. She had long braided blonde hair and golden eyes, with skin as pale as his own. What surprised him most was the fact she seemed to know the Jötnar present, in fact, they accepted her into their fold as though they were well acquainted.
“Ah, you are Býleistr, one of the sons of Laufey.” Loki’s smirk grew. “I am Loki, son of Odin.”
“And I do not care,” Býleistr said bluntly. “Sága, why should I not shake his hand?”
“You do not want to catch an infection from the Æsir.” She laughed along with the rest of the Jötnar, and Loki, humiliated, angrily withdrew his hand before petulantly spinning on his heel and walking away.
“Who was that?” he demanded once he and Týr were out of earshot.
Týr shrugged. “How should I know?”
“You are supposed to be my advisor! Surely you must know something in that thick skull of yours! Why is there an Æsir girl with them?”
“She seems more like a Vanir to me…”
“Semantics!” Loki huffed irritably. He glanced over his shoulder and saw that the golden haired woman was watching him warily. There was something eerie about her, something he couldn’t quite put his finger on. “He called her Sága. Do we know any Vanir by that name?”
“Hmm… I would have to ask your mother… but the name does not ring a bell.”
Loki pinched the bridge of his nose. “You are less than useless, old man.”
Luckily he was spared being pummeled by a Light Elf announcing that the Congress would soon be starting. Hopefully once the situation in Svartalfheim was swiftly dealt with, Loki could find out more about the Jötnar’s pet Vanir girl.
The years spent training with Jörð had paid off. Sága became a skilled healer, with her fondness for nature serving her well whenever Rock Trolls threatened Klaustur. She was also able to form a bond with the wild cat Bygul, who stayed by her side and comforted her during the winter months when she dreamed of Angrboða and Loptr and wished for them both to return to her.
Fárbauti and the Mothers had somehow convinced Laufey to allow Sága to attend the Congress alongside Býleistr, no doubt with the intention of bringing the two of them closer together. It was no secret that Fárbauti still mourned Loptr, nor was it a secret that she longed for grandchildren. Býleistr was near enough Sága’s age for it not to be a potential uncomfortable union; although they were never fond of one another in that way, a camaraderie developed between them, which served them well when dealing with the Æsir in particular.
“He does not look like how I imagined,” Sága mused, turning away from the Æsir as a Light Elf announced that they would be gathering soon for Congress.
“What did you expect?” Býleistr asked, fiddling with one of the braids in his fiery red hair, more interested in eyeing a pretty dwarf from Niðavellir, who had a thick luscious beard and pouty lips.
“I expected him to look more… golden. He does not have the look of an Æsir.”
“And yet you do. What is your point?”
“I don’t know. There’s something off about him.” Sága was determined to find out every single secret the Trickster God possessed. Once the Congress had concluded, of course.
The first representatives to enter the meeting hall hailed from Vanaheim, Nidavellir, and Alfheim respectively. Representing the Vanir was the ever-wise Snuri, an acclaimed scholar who worked at the infamous Academy of Voldrune, the unofficial capital of Vanaheim. Representing the Dwarves was their Queen, Egvanda, whose daughter Moira had captured the attention of a rather lustful Býleistr. On behalf of the Light Elves was Ayelah of Ljosalfgard, daughter of Aelsa Feathermoon.
Travelling from Niflheim was the Ice Giant Mroht of Midhogg and his brother Master Thnat, a significant change to the usual representatives from Niflheim, which had in the past been 'Ghost Senators', said to have come at the behest of the Goddess of Death herself.
At the behest of the Fire Lord Surtur came the representative of Muspelheim, Skulveig, First of the Flames. He had been accompanied by a goblin, Lady Nott, one of the many goblins who served under Surtur.
The Dark Elves of Svartalfheim were represented by Terrana of the Shadows, who had come on behalf of Queen Alfyse, who had been the one to request aid from the Congress of Worlds due to the momentum Malekith the Accursed was gaining in his campaign to dispose of her and rule Svartalfheim for himself.
Snuri, the representative of Vanaheim, stood up to begin speaking about Dark Elves attacking remote villages and settlements in Vanaheim despite the fact that the Vanir had recently made an alliance with Svartalfheim, or to be more precise, Queen Alfyse. “Vanaheim is not inexperienced when it comes to dealing with invading forces, but this is not an invading force, rather they are scavengers doing all they can to survive. Despite what many have suggested I do not believe Malekith is to blame, I believe these Dark Elves are the ones he exiled."
The Dark Elf representative, Terrana, spoke up at that point, dark eyes narrowing as she stared at Snuri. "So what are you suggesting we do? Your Vanir elders informed us they would be better off in the forests than under Malekith's thumb."
"Which elders?" Snuri asked politely. "Because this matter was not discussed with myself."
Terrana seemed taken aback by that revelation. "Lord Freyr suggested the idea upon arranging our renewed alliance. I took it to be common knowledge."
A new voice spoke up, one belonging to Egvanda of Nidavellir. "Aye, no doubt he did, but that was during Balthar the Bastard's hold over him. No doubt Freyr forgot all about that particular arrangement once he came to his senses."
“The issue of Dökkálfar on Vanaheim is not what we are here to discuss,” Queen Aelsa interrupted, acting as the adjudicator of the meeting. “We are here to discuss the civil conflicts occuring in Svartalfheim, specifically in the region of the Eastern Spires. No offence is meant, Master Snuri, but Vanaheim is surely powerful enough to deal with a few errant Døkkálfr?”
Snuri gave a slight nod of his head, retaking his seat, hands folded in his lap.
“Now, I believe Lady Terrana has information pertaining to the involvement of this so-called Council of the Unhallowed.”
The meeting went on, but all Sága could think about was the Æsir Prince watching her and her Jötnar companions with a suspicious glint in his emerald eyes. He truly did not have the look of an Æsir, and yet he was the son of the Allfather and the Allmother. He was an oddity. And she was determined to work out what his true game was.
It was a few days later when Sága found herself being introduced to the Trickster’s supposed brother. Thor was a larger than life character, with golden hair and an ego the size of Nornheim. He was in the process of loudly regaling some fawning Light Elves with his many deeds in battle when his eye caught Sága strolling on by, his attention quickly diverting to the pretty young maiden.
“My lady!” he boomed, his voice threatening to deafen poor Sága. “Would you care to share a drink with me?”
Sága regarded him for a moment before noticing the dark haired man lurking in the background, standing next to the old soldier, a perpetual pout on his thin lips. She smiled pleasantly at the Thunder God when she saw the way the younger son of Asgard narrowed his eyes, almost as if he was envious of his brother conversing with her. “If you insist, then I suppose it would be rude of me to refuse.”
Thor’s face lit up. “Excellent!”
Sága joined him and the Light Elf maidens, all of them greeting her enthusiastically. One in particular caught Sága’s eye, a beautiful brunette with lilac eyes and the sweetest smile she’d ever seen.
“My name is Beyla,” she said shyly. “You must be Lady Sága. Is it true Jörð herself taught you?”
Sága smiled. “It is true, yes. My mother was unable to teach me herself, so I lived with Jörð for many years in Klaustur. She is a remarkable person.”
“Jörð?” Thor interrupted, interrupting his mead drinking to question her. His brows knit together. “You know my mother?”
“Quite possibly,” Sága said elusively, her gaze drifting towards Loki, who had approached the gathering and had decided to sit down between two of the Light Elf ladies, both of whom were far too interested in Thor to pay him any mind.
“Jörð is your mother?” Beyla asked breathlessly, turning her attention back to the God of Thunder. When Thor nodded proudly, all the Light Elves fawned and cooed over him, complimenting him for having such a powerful mother.
Sága, rolling her eyes, made to get up and leave, only for Loki to abruptly ask, “Who is your mother?”
The group fell silent.
Sága smiled pleasantly, a smile which didn’t reach her eyes. She knew what he was playing at. She wasn’t going to bite.
“My mother is who I say my mother is,” she answered airily. “Now if you don’t mind, Prince Býleistr will be looking for me. It was very nice meeting you all. Beyla.” She smiled at the beautiful Elf, whose cheeks flared with colour.
As she walked away, she smiled when she heard Thor say, “How does she know Prince Býleistr?”
Chapter 3: Hammer of the Gods
A revelation leads to conflict
Queen Aelsa Feathermoon was renowned for the banquets and balls she would throw. She would take any opportunity to host a banquet or a ball or a celebration, she was the life and soul of every social gathering, the heart of Ljosalfgard’s social calendar. The ball she had decided to host at the conclusion of the Congress would be one to go down in history.
It was beautiful. The vast botanical gardens had been transformed, outfitted with a thousand and one fairy lights, with wine and champagne flowing from the fountains, along the sweetest treats imaginable served on silver platters. There was dancing and merriment, melodies that were jaunty and cheery, people from across the Nine Realms intermingling and having fun together. The one rule of the Fairy Queen’s Ball: No Fighting.
Loki, wearing a deep emerald tunic with black leather trousers, the fanciest black boots he possessed, along with a coat of black edged with lines of gold, set out to find out more about the mysterious Sága. He hadn’t seen much of her since his impromptu conversation with her a week or so ago, when his brother had cajoled her into partaking in a drink with him. He had heard rumours that she had been spending most of her free time in the company of the Light Elf Beyla, who had gossiped with the other Light Elf maidens about how she and the peculiar Vanir from Jotunheim had shared kisses under the blanket of stars.
Týr, who was wearing a boring ensemble that made Loki feel disgusted being in his presence, was the first to spot the little lady. Loki found himself coming to a complete standstill, his breath snatched away from him.
Sága was wearing a light blue dress, one that showed off a healthy amount of cleavage, the skirt falling to just above her knees, the dress sleeveless and allowing her to dance freely along with the Light Elf Beyla. Her hair was long and golden and decorated with pink petals, the laughter on her beautiful face warming his heart. The ground beneath her feet seemed greener than its surroundings, the light of the full moon bouncing from her glowing visage. She was… a Goddess.
Sága, who had been sharing a dance with Beyla, caught a glimpse of someone watching her. She looked over and stopped dancing, the breath leaving her body. There was the younger prince of Asgard, watching her. He looked… captivating. The full moon shone down upon him, making his pale features almost sparkle with an ethereal aura. His black as pitch hair complimented his complexion wonderfully, and she started fantasising about running her fingers through his luscious, soft hair.
She quickly excused herself from Beyla, who went off to dance with some of her companions, while Sága’s feet took her closer and closer to the Trickster God, as though her body had a mind of its own.
“Týr…” Loki whispered, suddenly panicking. “She’s coming over.”
“I know.” Týr rolled his eyes. “Dance with her.”
“What? I can’t-!”
“Hello Prince Loki, Lord Týr,” Sága said politely, coming to a stop before them and offering them a dainty curtsy. “Would you like to share a dance with me, Prince Loki?”
“He would love to.” Týr spoke on his behalf, practically shoving Loki at Sága. “Have fun, you two!”
Loki’s heart was in his throat when her delicate hand took his hand and led him into the dancing fray. She was about a head shorter than him, and up so close he could smell the soft, intoxicated scent of the most delicate of flowers wafting from her.
She guided him into the correct dancing position, placing his hand on her waist, clasping his other hand, resting her palm on his bicep as his brain kicked into gear and he forced himself to start dancing.
“I believe we got off on the wrong foot,” Sága said gently. When Loki looked down in a panic, she tittered, amused by his expression. “I mean the other day. I didn’t mean what I said, but Býleistr can be rather enthusiastic with his handshakes and… well, I was sparing you from him.”
“Oh.” He didn’t know whether or not to believe her, but it was a pretty lie regardless. “Then I owe you my gratitude.”
“How have you been finding Alfheim?” she asked, changing the subject.
“It is a remarkable realm, but one I will be glad to leave.”
Sága laughed softly. Loki’s heart skipped a beat. Her laughter was like sweet honey.
“I share the sentiment. I find myself longing for home.”
“Where is it you live?” Loki decided to ask. “Forgive me, I am just naturally curious. You have the look of a Vanir, but you surround yourself with Jötnar.”
Sága smiled wider.
“I live on Jotunheim.” She giggled at the scowl he tried and failed to hide. “May I ask you a question?”
“If you must,” he groused.
“You do not look like your brother.”
“Are you adopted?”
Loki came to a halt. Sága nearly tripped up, but he kept her upright, even as he frowned at her in disbelief.
“I am not adopted.”
“If you say so…” Sága shrugged, before deciding to change the subject again, coaxing him into dancing once more. “Do you know anyone by the name Loptr?”
“Why do you ask?” he answered stiffly, panic flaring in his chest. Why did that name sound so familiar?
“My friend Loptr was taken by the Æsir when he was a child. I always wondered what happened to him. Do you think he is still alive?” She asked hopefully.
There were tears in her eyes. He wanted her to stop crying.
“He was the son of Laufey and Fárbauti. I heard a rumour that his real mother was Hela, but I don’t think that’s true. He was a runt, yes, but he was so powerful, he was my best friend and I never got to say goodbye to him…” She pulled away from him abruptly. “Forgive me, I came here hoping I would be able to find out if he still lived. I’m sorry, I should…”
“Flower!” Býleistr called all of a sudden, appearing from seemingly nowhere.
Sága removed herself from Loki’s arms and ran to Býleistr, the Frost Giant enveloping her in his sturdy arms. Crimson eyes met Loki’s gaze, full of anger and hatred.
“If you have hurt her-”
“He didn’t, Bee. I promise.” Sága assured him. “I was asking about Loptr, I got upset…”
Býleistr’s face immediately softened.
“We should retire for the evening,” he murmured softly, brushing a strand of golden hair behind her ear.
Sága nodded, glancing over her shoulder at Loki, who was watching them stoically. “Thank you for dancing with me, Prince Loki,” she said softly. “I’m sorry I got upset. You are a wonderful dancer, I wish we could…” she smiled wanly. “Good night.”
“Good night, Lady Sága…” He watched them walk away, his mind buzzing.
As soon as they were away from the fray, Býleistr grabbed onto Sága’s face possessively. “You should not allow yourself to be seduced by those barbaric Æsir,” he hissed. “Remember your place, Flower.”
“I know, I am.” She closed her eyes, letting a tear fall down her cheek. “It has been years, Bee. Do you truly think he is still alive?”
“I don’t know. We can only hope.” He pressed a faint kiss to her lips. “Come along, we are returning home in the morn, a good night’s sleep is in order.”
“Mother…” Loki asked days later, when he and the others had returned from Alfheim. His mother was in her study, reading a new book she had been dying to read, one which Loki knew was full of sordid little acts only mothers like her indulged in reading.
“Yes, darling?” Frigga closed her book, folding her hands on top of it as she smiled up at her youngest son. “Is something troubling you? Týr mentioned that there was a pretty girl you were dancing with.”
“Sága, yes. Do you know of her?”
“Vaguely. From what I have been able to deduce, she was found on Jotunheim by the witch Angrboða. But that is as far as my knowledge goes.” Frigga eyed him curiously. “Something else troubles you.”
Loki sat down on the settee, letting out a heavy sigh.
“Who is Loptr?”
Instantly, Frigga’s face fell. She tried to cover up her reaction, but it was too late.
“Mother, who is Loptr?” he repeated, sitting forward, hands on his knees.
“Oh darling…” Frigga looked at him pityingly. “You already know the answer.”
“No...” Loki closed his eyes, forcing himself not to cry. “No, I don’t believe you.”
“MY NAME’S NOT LOKI!”
Frigga fell silent, tears pouring from her eyes.
“Call me by my real name ‘Mother’!” Loki rose to his feet, shaking all over, so full of anger and horror and disgust and betrayal. He wanted to scream, so he screamed. “SAY MY NAME!”
“Your name is Loki.”
“NO IT ISN’T! SAY MY NAME!”
Frigga shook her head, sobbing quietly.
“SAY IT! SAY MY NAME!”
Loki let out a heart-wrenching sob. “So it’s true. It’s true. It’s true…”
He fell to his knees and wept.
“Why would you do this to me?” he cried. “How could you? How could you!”
“You have to understand, your father took you for your own safety!” Frigga reached out for him, but he moved away from her, standing up and pacing the room frantically. “Loki, sweetness…”
“Don’t baby me, mother. I need to know the truth. Why was I taken? What purpose do I serve? Tell me!”
“Fine. I will tell you everything. But only with your father present. You deserve to hear the truth from the pair of us.”
Seeking refuge in his chambers, Loki tried to wrap his head around everything he had learned. He had been born to Hela and Laufey, with his true mother being the Goddess of Death and, more significantly, the daughter of Odin. His father was his grandfather. His mother was exiled, locked away in the depths of Niflheim. His true father was a cruel Frost Giant, the leader of the race Loki had been taught to loathe and hate with all his might.
Traded away so the Casket of Ancient Winters would remain on Jotunheim. Part of him knew it would have been senseless to spare the wellbeing of one insignificant runt for the continued survival of the Jötnar, but a larger, much more selfish part of him was angry at the man who was his true father. Laufey had sold him to the Æsir. And now, Loki was going to get his revenge.
Sága was tending to the injuries of a mountain goat when she heard a commotion coming from somewhere outside the village.
“Jörð?” she asked the giantess, who had been fixing a building destroyed by invading Rock Trolls. “What is that noise?”
Jörð looked around curiously before smiling warmly.
“My son has returned to me.”
“Your son? Thor?”
Jörð’s smile grew when Thor appeared, though her smile faded away when she saw who he was with.
The Allfather regarded Jörð in disdain. Clearly, there was no love lost between the former lovers.
“Jörð. It has been… a while.”
Sága observed the Allfather, taking in his silver-grey hair, the bronze eyepatch covering his eye, the rather grizzled demeanour. He exuded power, of course he would. He seemed so tiny compared to Jörð, however, the sight almost comical to witness. She could tell, however, that much of Thor’s strength and prowess came from his father, whilst his godlike abilities most definitely came from his birth mother.
“What are you doing in Klaustur?” Jörð demanded, the giantess placing her hands on her hips, looking more angry than Sága had ever seen her. Above their heads, dark storm clouds began to form, a reminder of the power Jörð possessed.
“Loki has gone missing.” Odin said bluntly. “Is he here?”
“Loki? Why would Loki be here?” Sága questioned, looking between the two Æsir in confusion. Odin’s eye fixed on her, but Sága didn’t look away, unwilling to show the old man any weakness. She had stood up before Laufey and faced him, she would not wilt under the Allfather’s burning gaze.
“Because he found out the truth about who he really is.” Thor looked upset, grim but determined as he spoke. “He’s a Frost Giant. Father took him when he was a baby.”
“He was no baby,” Jörð said coldly. An icy breeze began to stir, sending shivers down their spines. Sága tugged her fur coat around her more securely, eyeing the sky warily. “He was a child, fully aware of himself and his surroundings until you poisoned his mind, just as you poisoned Thor’s to forget all about me. Does he even know that Loki is his nephew? Does he know of Hela? Does he know who wielded Mjölnir before him?”
Thor looked baffled.
“What is she talking about, Father? What does she mean…?”
The Allfather was moments away from answering when a sudden blast of icy energy struck him square in the chest. Thor yelled out, Jörð instantly swung around to look for the attacker, but Sága stayed still, watching as the Allfather froze all over, becoming a living ice statue. Only his one good eye remained mobile, darting about frantically, as though seeking out the source of his sudden imprisonment.
“LOKI!” Thor roared, louder than the thunder that bellowed above their heads. “What did you do!”
A dark haired, blue skinned runt of a Jötunn came forward out of the shadows of the nearest hut, clad in a black cloak and wielding the Casket of Ancient Winters. His eyes were crimson and full of hatred, aimed at the frozen Allfather.
Sága’s breath hitched. She recognised the markings on his skin. She had been so blind. Of course it was him. Who else could it have been?
“Loppy?” she whispered.
Loki looked at her in surprise. Realisation dawned on him slowly but surely, distracting him enough to allow Jörð to gently remove The Casket from his grasp. He took a step towards her, and then another, and then another, unable to stop himself from approaching her, his heart beating rapidly in his chest, tears forming in his crimson eyes.
Sága closed the distance between them, all but throwing herself into his arms, holding onto him for dear life. “I didn’t know it was you! I didn’t realise, I’m sorry! If I had known... I thought you were dead! I missed you so much, so much…”
“What is the meaning of this?” Thor shouted, lightning ripping across the darkening sky. “What have you done to Father?”
“Payback.” Loki snarled, still holding Sága in his arms. “He stole me from my home. He poisoned my mind. He lied to me!”
“He lied to all of us, Loki! That gives you no excuse to… to… kill him! He raised you as his own!”
“I was NEVER his to raise!”
“No. You were mine.”
All eyes turned to Laufey. He had his spear poised and ready, aimed at the frozen, defenceless Allfather, burning hatred in those blood red eyes of his. The stark contrast between Laufey and Odin was one that almost threatened to make Sága giggle. Laufey was clearly more powerful physically, but when he wasn’t encapsulated by ice, Odin would undoubtedly be able to quite easily hold his own, as he had done before in times long since passed.
“You have taken far too much from me, Allfather,” Laufey hissed, baring his yellowing teeth. His grip tightened on the spear, ice forming on the pole. “Now look at you, the mighty Allfather weak and defenceless in my realm. Maybe I should take your son from you first, as you took mine. Maybe I should take that wife of yours too, maybe I should take her to my bed and breed her like a common bitch.”
The ice encasing the Allfather began to rattle and shake.
“Laufey, this is madness!” Jörð shouted. “He is the Allfather, if you kill him here, today, the rest of the realms will only turn their ire onto you!”
“Would they?” Laufey laughed mockingly. “Or would they thank me for ridding the Nine of our most hated foe? Do you think the dwarves would mourn the loss of the man who took them hostage? Do you truly think Muspelheim will weep for him? Alfheim? Svartalfheim? Even Vanaheim would celebrate! We have been subjugated by that man, that criminal, for far too long! Asgard is no longer the hub of power in the cosmos. I will prove to you, to all of you, that Jotunheim is the greatest power in all the Nine Realms. I will take his spear, I will take his crown, I will claim his title as the new Allfather of the Nine Realms!”
Laufey adjusted his hold on his spear, focusing on the Allfather only. “A quick death, old man. It’s the last shred of kindness I shall ever show you.”
But Loki’s shout came too late. For Laufey had already broken the frozen body of the Allfather with his poison-tipped spear, piercing into Odin’s heart and killing him instantly. A pathetic death for the once conqueror of the Nine Realms. Betrayed by the one he had raised as his own, slain by his greatest foe.
Silence descended upon Klaustur, only interrupted by the bleating of the mountain goat Sága had been tending to.
And then there was the sound of ripping and tearing, the sky around them darkening, the stench of death permeating their senses. The mountain goat limped away in fright, as a few of the nearby villagers started screaming in horror, darting into their homes to hide from what was encroaching upon their land. A gateway opened mere feet away from the Allfather’s dead body, a gateway formed out of shadows and darkness, skeletal fingers breaking apart the open space to form a larger gap, leading into more darkness and blackness. Sága reached for Jörð, who still clasped the Casket. “Jörð…” she whimpered. “Jörð, what’s happening?”
“Death…” was all the giantess could say.
A woman stepped out of the dark gateway then, shadows melding around her to form a makeshift dress of sorts, along with a spiked crown that reminded them of a terrifying antlered monster. Tall and pale with hair as black as pitch. Black and emerald skin-tight armour accessorised with sharp, poisonous daggers attached to an onyx belt. Emerald eyes that looked at the Allfather in fond amusement before they rose to meet Laufey’s.
“It has been far too long, darling.” Her voice was smooth and suave, with an odd echo at the end that rattled their bones and chilled them to their cores.
Laufey dropped his spear, rendered completely stunned.
Chapter 4: Come Hel or High Water
With Hela in charge, Sága and Loki have to find a way of stopping her - and fast.
The cells beneath the imposing Utgard Keep were cold and devoid of any life save for the poor unfortunate souls imprisoned behind stone cold iron bars. At least Thor had been allowed to have a bundle of furs to wrap around himself to stave off the worst of the cold, though his fingertips and toes were already frozen numb. Thank the Norns he had his electric power tingling through him, keeping his vitals healthy and working.
It had been two days… no, two weeks? No… two months… days… weeks? He wasn’t sure how long it had been since his father had been killed by Laufey. How long had it been since the arrival of the sister he had no knowledge of previously? How long ago had it been since Loki had betrayed them all by sabotaging their father and assisting in his death? How long would it be until he was back home on Asgard, with his mother, his friends, his people? He somehow doubted he would ever return to the Realm Eternal.
As the hours went by, Thor found himself being visited by that peculiar Vanir girl, Sága, the one who Loki seemed to remember from his childhood on Jotunheim. She was dressed warm, wearing an ornate brooch on her fur-trimmed dark blue cloak, one that had a sigil engraved into the dark material: I See The Unseen.
It was a symbol of death.
“You are working for that bitch, I take it?” Thor spat out, his lips barely moving thanks to how numb they were. His beard was coated in layers of frost, which he had to frequently brush away to avoid becoming completely frozen like his father.
Sága smiled faintly at him as she unlocked the hatch that would allow her to give him his daily meal. “No, of course not. It was a gift from her, but I do not work for her. She may believe she has power over us, but Laufey is still the King. I am merely indulging her whims, in a manner of speaking.”
“Which to me sounds as if you are indulging her desire to conquer the Nine Realms with the bastard who slew my father!” Thor spat, hands trembling with both the cold and anger. Despite his rage, he was not foolish enough to decline his meal, taking the bowl of scorching hot broth along with the large loaf of bread she handed him. “This is… more than what I have been given previously…”
“I know.” Sága locked the hatch. “I arranged it with the kitchen to provide more hearty meals for you. There’s lots of meat and vegetables, and when I return for your bowl, I’ll bring you a gourd of alcohol. I think it’s called vodka? I think you’ll like it, regardless. It’s supposed to help keep you warm, though I doubt that has much validity to it.”
“You speak strangely…” Thor tore apart his bread and started dunking it into his bowl of broth. “I can see why my brother… why Loki likes you.”
She giggled, blushing a little.
“He is who I am visiting next, actually. Is there a message you would like for me to pass onto him?”
Thor frowned at her. “My brother is imprisoned?”
“Well, of course. He is the grandson of the Allfather, after all.”
“But… Laufey is his father, Hela is his mother…”
“His loyalties are not to them.” Sága smiled faintly. “Enjoy your dinner, Prince Thor.”
As soon as she was gone, Thor let out a weary sigh. Either his brother was up to no good, or he had truly been idiotic and gotten himself imprisoned by his own birth parents.
“Did he believe you?” Loki asked as soon as she was out of the dungeons and in the relatively warmer corridor outside the barred door.
Sága shrugged. “Probably. Though, I should have taken this stupid brooch off beforehand.” She removed it and slipped it into her pocket out of sight. “What is she going to do with him?”
“I don’t know.”
“I thought you were supposed to know everything?”
Loki scoffed. “If only.”
He linked his arm through hers and started leading her towards the chambers he had been assigned to. It had only been a few weeks since Hela’s glorious return, a few weeks since Odin had been killed by Laufey. Things were progressing at an increasingly daunting, rapid pace, and Loki for one was incredibly concerned about the wellbeing of his mother - of Frigga. Did she know that Odin was gone? Surely Heimdall must have told her everything. Did she blame him? Did she hate him? Did she ever want to see him again?
Over the past few weeks, he and Sága had been tasked with babysitting the prisoners, including the Warriors Three who had come to Jotunheim in pursuit of their friend Thor. Loki was the one who saw to their needs, disguising himself as an ugly brute, more than just a little bit satisfied at the miserable conditions they were suffering within.
Hela had rather boldly denounced Fárbauti and the other Mothers from having any say over the rulings of the realm. In doing so, she had inadvertently isolated a large percentage of the population, who were not best pleased about an Æsir masquerading as their Queen.
Sága knew there was one person who could help send Hela back to her prison. It couldn’t be Jörð, for the giantess had been locked away in the mountains far from Utgard, guarded by Ice Giants and warded with the strongest seiðr imaginable. It had to be Angrboða.
The trek to the Járnviðr took very little time, thanks in part to Loki’s capabilities for seeking out rifts in space, which allowed them to easily teleport over large distances. They arrived on the outskirts of the boundary that acted as Angrboða’s home, her ever-so-familiar hut a welcoming, nostalgic sight to see after so many years apart.
Sága had tears in her eyes when she rushed to the door and pounded on it with her fist, shouting out, “Mama! Mama, it’s me! It’s your little Flower! I’m home! I’m home, and I’ve got a friend with me!”
The door swung open, revealing the rather gaunt form of the Frost Giantess Angrboða. Her flame hair had streaks of white, there was an ugly scar across the side of her face, but the smile she emitted once she laid eyes on Sága was enough to make all those years of hardship melt away.
“My beautiful Flower…” Angrboða bent down and scooped her up into a tight embrace, planting wet kisses all over her face. “I had feared the worst… I heard what transpired in Klaustur… I thought you would be safe with Jörð…”
“Mama, I’m okay, I’m okay,” Sága assured her. “Look, I have a surprise for you!”
She stepped back and gestured towards Loki, who suddenly came over all shy when confronted with his former tutor. Angrboða’s eyes widened almost comically, the breath escaping her in one rapid puff.
“Is that… Loptr?”
“He goes by Loki nowadays, Mama.”
“Loki… yes, of course, it makes perfect sense…” Angrboða gently took his head in her hands and studied him carefully. At making skin contact with him, the young prince’s pigmentation shifted into its natural blue hue. Angrboða’s smile grew.
“You’ve made this old witch very proud,” she said softly, tears glistening in her warm red eyes. “Have you seen your mother since your return? Have you seen Fárbauti?”
“I never had the opportunity… Hela exiled her and the Mothers from Utgard as soon as she decided to claim the throne for herself.” Loki shifted uncomfortably. “That’s why we’re here. We need to find a way of restoring the status quo. We need a way of… deposing both Hela and Laufey. We need fresh blood ruling over Jotunheim.”
“And you think you are up to the task?”
“I…” Loki pressed his lips together before nodding. “I have been trained to be a king. It is in my blood.”
“Surely Helblindi or Býleistr would be more deserving of such a role?” Angrboða mused, releasing her hold on Loki so she could summon them inside her hut and start making them some tea to warm their bones.
“Helblindi went with the Mothers,” Sága mentioned, sitting down next to Hati, who rather sleepily nudged her with her wet nose before drifting off back to sleep. “And Býleistr has been assigned to the coast in case there are incursions from the sea.”
“Evidently, Hela’s doing.” Angrboða shook her head in dismay. “She is a powerful sorceress and goddess, there is no doubt about that. But she is paranoid, and paranoia is the downfall of many a monarch.”
“What do we do? Do we wait for the masses to uprise and tear her down?” Sága took her cup of tea from Angrboða with a small smile and a whispered thanks. “Mama, you’re a powerful witch, that’s why you were sentenced to the Járnviðr. I know… I know one of your own sons was imprisoned on Lyngvi… in chains, powerful chains… perhaps there is a way we could bind Hela with chains? Or is that just a foolish idea?”
“You had a son?” Loki asked, surprised.
Angrboða sighed, setting her cup down. “I did. I had two sons, as a matter of fact. The one my Flower speaks of is Fenrir. He was a shapeshifter, his preferred form being a wolf. There was… there was an ailment that befell him, and I in my naivety believed he would be safer with me. I was wrong.”
“What happened to him?”
“We were captured. I was forced to bear witness to my own flesh and blood being chained down like a feral mongrel… left to die of hunger, alone on that wretched island. The chains they used are known as Gleipnir. Forged by the dwarves of Niðavellir, said to be made of six impossible things.
“The sound of a cat's footfall, the beard of a woman, the roots of a mountain, the sinews of a bear, the breath of a fish, and the spittle of a bird.”
Sága and Loki exchanged confused looks.
“But those things… I mean… how can one harness sound as a resource to create chains?” Sága queried. “And women can grow beards- dwarven women can, at the very least. And those who identify as being women…”
“Why would they think bears didn’t have sinews?” Loki asked, much to Angrboða’s consternation. She hadn’t expected them to start dissecting what she was trying to tell them. “And fish breathe through their gills, right?”
“And birds do spittle.”
“What about roots of a mountain?”
Sága shrugged. “Presumably it’s just rock. That’s the root of a mountain. Without rocks, there’d be no mountain, surely?”
“Alright, you two!” Angrboða huffed. “Enough! It is a silly story, nothing more. And a story I would rather not fixate on for any longer than I have to.”
“Anyway…” Angrboða shot them both a disapproving look before resuming her story. “The Gleipnir are powerful chains that can bind even the hardiest of creatures. Though I doubt it would be easy wrapping them around that undead bitch.”
“I don’t think she’s undead, Mama…” Sága began, grinning when Angrboða shot her a dirty look. She turned serious again. “How was she imprisoned last time? The Valkyrie, yes?”
“Yes. But the Valkyrie and their power are dead. The Allfather is dead. We do not…” Angrboða sighed. “Of course, there is a way… a foolish way…” She sighed again, defeated and world-weary. “We need to infuse the Gleipnir with power from Hela’s prison. From the Maw of Souls. In doing so, we may be able to forever bind her to that realm… so she can never break free ever again. I cannot go, but… you two, you two are powerful enough to take on this quest… if you truly wish for this realm to prosper…”
“Mama…” Sága frowned. “Are you telling us to go to Hel?”
Angrboða gave a grim nod of determination. “That’s exactly what I’m telling you to do.”
The river Gjöll marked the boundary between the land of the living and the land of the dead. Niflheim was, for all intents and purposes, a dangerous realm that no-one who valued their life should ever dare step upon. However, Angrboða had assured the pair that they would be safe, if they kept Hati and Sköll by their side the entire time.
The Gjallarbrú was the bridge that spanned the river Gjöll. It was a peculiar beacon of gold amidst the grey surrounding it. It was also the only way of crossing into Hela’s realm.
A hooded figure approached the group, grey-skinned hands reaching outwards as though grasping thin air. The air around the strange figure buzzed with an eerie stillness which set even the steadfast Hati and Sköll on edge, their hackles raised.
The figure came to a halt a few feet in front of them, hovering a few inches from the grey lifeless earth. Sága, deciding to be brave, was the first to speak.
"We come here on behalf of Jotunheim and the Nine Realms to request passage into Nastrond so we may utilise the power of the Maw of Souls and bind the Goddess of Death to her realm forevermore."
Móðguðr lowered their taloned hands, a faint glimpse of red appearing from under the hood. “You meddle with powers beyond your comprehension, Little Valkyrie. I will grant you passage into the Realm of the Dead, but I cannot guarantee your safety.”
“Thank you,” Sága said, before nudging Loki in the arm so he too would thank the guardian of the bridge. Móðguðr stepped to one side, gesturing for them to pass, their eerie eyes locked on them the entire time they traversed the length of Gjallarbrú, crossing over into the land of the dead.
After crossing the bridge, the air became frigid, chilling them to the bone. Despite being used to the cold temperatures of Jotunheim, Nastrond was a stark contrast, an aura of unnaturalness thick and pungent lingering around them, clinging to the four living beings who dared traverse through their resting place.
Nastrond, a desolate unforgiving place crawling with giant serpents, eventually led them to a seemingly abandoned village of sorts, the stone cracked and scattered, the thatched roofs burnt to a crisp. An eerie stillness seemed to surround the ruins. Faint whispers in the wind alerted them to the presence of spirits, unseen and no doubt keeping a close eye on the four living souls.
They came to a stop at a circular intersection of the village, where the dirt paths converged around a hole where a well used to be. Sága knelt down on the ground and grabbed a handful of soil, bringing it to her lips to taste it. Nothing living would ever grow from such soil.
"Fafnir was said to hail from this village." Sága murmured, recalling the story one of the old shamans of Klaustur had told her during her childhood. "Odin destroyed his kingdom due to the taint of evil prevalent in Fafnir's people. It was said that the king managed to survive by drinking from a magical pool which transformed him into a dragon."
Loki shifted uncomfortably. "I hope the dragon isn't around here right now." Sága glanced at him but made no comment, making him even more uneasy. "Do you think the Valkyries will be here?"
“Why would they be here?” Sága queried. “They would surely be in Valhalla?”
“I suppose…” He grew even more uneasy when both Hati and Sköll caught the scent of something, their noses raised high in the air. “We should not linger. How far until we reach the Maw?”
“I don’t have a map, Loki, I don’t know.”
“So we’re walking blindly into a dangerous realm formerly ruled over by my mother, who is also the Goddess of Death and who may or may not want to kill us both? I’m filled with confidence.”
“Gods.” Sága rolled her eyes at him. “Are you always so dramatic?”
They stopped arguing when they heard both Hati and Sköll snarling. Turning around, they both swore simultaneously, drawing their weapons as they were confronted with a horrific sight.
“So… I presume this is Fafnir?” Loki whispered to Sága.
“I… I really hope so, otherwise it means there’s more than one dragon here… and I’m not particularly fond of facing one dragon, nevermind a dozen or so…”
The great beast had deep purple scales that shifted to a lighter shade around the underbelly and maw. Deadly, bloodied claws raked across the ruins as the beast lurched towards them, opening its gigantic mouth, revealing a row of deadly teeth. From the core of the beast burned a glowing light, which seemed to swell and rise up the gullet of the dragon.
Too late, Loki realised what was about to happen. He screamed, pushing Sága aside, but he didn’t have enough time to escape before the dragon unleashed a blast of deadly, poisonous, putrid purple fire.
The last thing Loki remembered before the darkness consumed him was the sound of Sága screaming his name.
Chapter 5: Day of the Dead
It had been days since Thor had last been visited by Sága. Days… weeks, maybe? It felt like an eternity since he’d seen his golden saviour. The food kept coming, of course, only it was brought to him by a mute servant who shied away from him whenever he approached the hatch to collect his dinner.
“Have you heard any news from my brother?” he would ask, but the mute servant never responded. He wondered if something had happened to him, or to Sága. He hoped not. Despite everything, he still loved his brother, he still wanted him to be alright. He didn’t want to lose another member of his family.
A few days later, when he had all but given up hope of seeing his golden goddess again, she came to him, gaunt and pale and shaking profusely.
He watched in bewilderment as she fumbled with the lock of the cell door, opening it up and allowing him the chance to escape.
“I need your help!” she said shrilly, on the verge of a nervous breakdown. “A dragon killed your brother, and I need him to come back! You need to help me save him from Hel! Please!”
“What- what are you- what do you mean? A dragon killed my brother? How!”
“Please, there’s no time!” She grabbed onto his large, meaty hand and pulled. “We have to hurry, Hela’s going to find out what we’ve been planning, we need to get Loki back, please!”
“Fine. But we’ll need help.”
“You’ve got it,” came the familiar voice of Fandral. Thor let out a gasp of surprise before grinning broadly at the sight of the Warriors Three.
“My friends!” He embraced them all in turn. “What are you doing here?”
“Thor, we don’t have time! Come on!” Sága held out a peculiar looking blue gem, one that sparkled with an unnatural aura that made them all feel uneasy. “This gem will take us back to Niflheim. We must act swiftly, the longer we linger, the less chance we have of saving your brother.”
The Warriors Three and Thor all placed their hands over hers. And then, in a flash of blue light, the five of them vanished from the dungeons of Utgard.
The five of them stood before the vast cave known as Gnipahellir, the home of Garmr who guarded the entrance into Hel. Thor, wielding Mjölnir, led the way, with the Warriors Three flanking around Sága, who was guiding the way using the blue gem as a compass of sorts.
“How does that gem of yours work?” Fandral asked, breaking the monotony of their journey.
“It’s a failsafe of sorts, Angrboða gave one to me and one to Loki. If one of us went missing, we could use the gems to locate each other.” Sága clenched her fist around the gem, looking incredibly uneasy. “We came here knowing it was suicidal. We should have been more careful. I should have been more careful… we came with the intention of enchanting the Gleipnir so we could permanently bind Hela to Hel. She is wreaking havoc upon the Nine Realms, she needs to be imprisoned again.”
“A rather foolhardy mission for two young idiots,” Volstagg commented. “No offence meant, of course, Lady Sága.”
“Full offence taken, Volstagg,” she replied heatedly. “Go back to stuffing your gob, you overbearing prick. I know all about your vindictive behaviour towards Loki, I know you’re only here because of Thor. You don’t care whether or not Loki lives or dies.”
“Sága…” Thor sighed wearily. “Please, save the arguments for later.”
They continued onwards, entering the darkened cavern. It was dimly lit with strange, bioluminescent lichen, which clung to the damp walls and floor, causing a rather slippery surface for them to traverse over. Numerous times they slipped and nearly fell, with Volstagg falling once, Hogun falling twice, and Fandral falling and taking Thor with him. Sága, however, remained sure-footed, although she was cheating by utilising some of her naturalistic magic to manipulate the lichen she was walking upon so she wouldn’t make a fool of herself.
The cavern continued onwards and onwards, the temperature dropping. Sága tugged her furs around her more securely, one hand lingering on the dagger she kept attached to her belt.
“How much further?” Thor whispered, grabbing her wrist to keep her by his side.
“I don’t know. This gem merely points us in the right direction, it doesn’t tell us how far away he is…” Sága stopped when she heard a deep, guttural growling. Her heart skipped a beat. “Thor… we need to be very quiet now.”
“Because…” She looked towards her right to see, curled up just off the main path leading through the cavern, the form of a giant sleeping wolf. “I don’t want to wake Garmr up.”
It had taken what felt like an eternity to quietly sneak past the slumbering form of Hela’s guard dog. Once they were safely passed him, however, it didn’t take long for them to finally enter Hel itself.
It was a bleak, rather colourless place. Shades of grey made up the unbroken, rocky landscape. The sky was dark, a hint of silver light peeking through the grey clouds. In the near distance they could hear the sound of waves crashing against a cliff. There was the sound of ravens cawing. The creaking of old bones.
And on the horizon, a towering, jagged monolith. Hela’s Palace.
A structure of obsidian, protruding high into the sky, circled by harbingers of death and destruction. It was there that they would hopefully find Loki. It was there that they would hopefully find the Maw of Souls and enchant the Gleipnir, so Hela could be imprisoned forevermore.
It wasn’t an enjoyable experience, dangling over the Maw of Souls locked in a flimsy cage manned by two of Hela’s Draugr. It wasn’t an enjoyable experience to have his own mother mocking him from afar. She had rather promptly returned to gloat about his untimely death, temporarily leaving Laufey behind to tend to Jotunheim.
“You truly believed your pathetically thought out plan would work?” Hela laughed humourlessly. “You must have inherited your father’s intelligence.”
Loki lunged at the cage bars, snarling furiously.
“And I suppose I inherited my good looks and wit from you, Mother?” he spat out.
“Even in death, you remained stupendously idiotic.” She snapped her fingers at the Draugr. “Lower the cage. I want my dearest son to have the full undead experience before his little friends come to save his sorry behind. I have duties to attend to.”
As Hela walked away, Loki’s cage lurched and shuddered, dropping down, down, down into the depths of the Maw of Souls…
The Mothers had converged in the throne room of Utgard Keep. Led by Fárbauti, all of them had their weapons drawn and raised, aimed directly at the struggling King, who had been chained to the throne with the Gleipnir by Angrboða.
“You have dishonoured your family and your name,” Fárbauti hissed, murder burning in her eyes. “You have given this realm to the Æsir. You should never have killed the Allfather.”
“Fortunately for you, we were able to free Jörð. We are all powerful enough to do what your precious Hela never could.” Irma adjusted her hold on her spear, an almost manic glint to her features.
“We’re going to bring the Allfather back. And then, we are going to ensure neither you nor that undead harpy see the light of day ever again.” And with a graceful thrust, Fárbauti impaled her spear into Laufey’s stomach, pinning him to his frozen throne.
“You took my children…” Angrboða snarled. Both Hati and Sköll were circling around the group, snarling viciously. “Because of you, my Sága will never see the light of day. Because of you, your precious Loptr is dead. Because of you, Hela has been freed. But not for much longer.”
As one, the Mothers and Angrboða joined hands, chanting and swaying to the song they started to sing, an ancient song which beckoned into the room the powerful, ferocious Jörð, who carried in her arms the cold, still-frozen form of the Allfather. Laying him on the dais of the throne, she joined the circle and started singing and chanting along with the rest of them, power radiating from them all, pinpointed onto the Allfather’s lifeless body.
“Arise, Allfather! Your time is not yet here! Arise, Allfather! Arise and be free!”
The frozen body began to shudder, quivering with an almighty power. Laufey watched, blood dripping down his chin, eyes bulging, fists clenched. “No…” he mumbled. “No, that’s not possible…!”
The ice shattered, flying in all directions. From out of the debris arose the renewed form of the Allfather, with murderous intent in his one good eye.
The Maw of Souls was expansive… vast… daunting…
A golden winged warrior wrenched apart the bars of the cage. Warm, strong arms enveloped him and pulled him out, flying upwards and upwards and upwards until they were free… free of the Maw of Souls…
And Loki’s lifeless form was brought out of Hel… out of Niflheim… all the way back to Asgard…
He was alive. Alive and well. But when he opened his eyes, when he opened his eyes and saw a golden pair of eyes full of sorrow and anguish gazing back at him, he could only say one thing and one thing only:
“Who are you?”
Chapter 6: The Little Valkyrie
What happened in Hel...
A few days earlier…
Hela’s Palace stood before them, guarded by giant Draugr, who walked alongside malformed, mutated wolves. It was as if the heart of Hel itself had been corrupted, perhaps because of Hela’s need to escape. What exactly had she done to try and free herself? Enough to cause the realm surrounding them to fall into disrepair and chaos.
“Where do you think he is?” Thor asked Sága, who was holding the blue gem up, trying to find the exact location of her quarry.
“This way…” She gestured towards the eastern spires of the Palace. “He’s somewhere over there.”
“I hope you’re right,” Fandral said, glancing around uneasily. He didn’t like the atmosphere of this place, none of them did. The living were not supposed to walk the same land as the dead. It was unnatural. “Are you sure we’re not breaking some ancient ruling by freeing Loki?”
“He was killed in Nastrond, in the land of the dead. Technically… he didn’t die, did he? If we were both masquerading as the dead in order to make our way to Hel…” Sága seemed unsure of herself despite her reassuring words. “At least, I hope my theory’s correct. It’s bad enough we’ve lost Hati and Sköll, I don’t know what else to do.”
“We’ve got your back.” Hogun clasped her shoulder briefly, an unusual display from the mostly silent warrior. Sága smiled gratefully at him, glad of the reassurance.
“Thank you. And I’m sorry for my harsh words earlier,” she said to Volstagg, who nodded his head in understanding. “This was a foolish quest, I blame myself for what transpired with that dragon. I shouldn’t have taken it out on you. You’re here to help, after all. I should be more grateful.”
“What happened to the dragon, anyway?” Fandral asked, as the group began slowly walking towards the eastern section of the palace.
Sága smiled faintly. “I found an old Valkyrie shield and used it to reflect his blast back into his face. He killed himself.” She paused, listening intently. “What was that?”
“What was what?” Thor asked, coming up beside her, placing his hand on the small of her back.
In the distance, they could all hear the sound of hooves. Faint at first, but gradually building in speed. It didn’t sound like any usual horse, however. Thor straightened up, looking around at the Warriors Three, hardly daring to believe his own theory.
“That is the sound of Sleipnir, Father’s steed. But it cannot be possible…”
Out of the gloom, out of the shadows, wielding Gungnir, wearing sparkling golden armour astride an eight-legged horse, came the Allfather himself. Odin was alive.
“How is this possible?” Volstagg asked in astonishment.
“The Fates have ordained that my life still has a purpose in the living world.” Odin’s voice boomed like thunder, exuding power that made the hairs on Sága’s arms stand on end. The Allfather’s one good eye focused on her, his lips set into a grim line. “Only you can bring him back from the Maw.”
“He’s… he’s in the Maw?” Sága whimpered when Odin nodded, his stoic exterior never faltering, not even when she began to weep. “How can I save him? He’s lost down there…”
“You have the heart of a Valkyrie, little one.” Odin dismounted from Sleipnir. He approached Sága, placing Gungnir on her shoulder, and then her other shoulder. “Use your heritage to your advantage. I must deal with my daughter. You must find Loki and free him before we are cast out of Hel. You must be quick, child.”
He placed the tip of Gungnir above her heart. Instantly, she felt a surge of energy rush through her, almost like adrenaline. She screamed out as burning, searing pain tore through her back, her clothes ripping as a pair of golden wings burst forth and extended, as a golden light radiated from her skin and eyes, infusing her with the full potential of the Valkyrie.
She took off into the air, becoming a golden beacon for them all. And then, Odin ordered the Warriors Three and his son Thor to accompany him to the heart of Hela’s palace, where the lady herself would be ready and waiting. He took out the Gleipnir, which was stained with fresh blood and particles of ice.
“I do not know if I will survive this, my son.” Odin said to Thor, who stopped, gripping Mjölnir tighter in his grasp, refusing to accept the inevitable. “Once she is imprisoned, the last vestiges of my power will be depleted. It falls to you to protect the Nine Realms. It falls to you to ensure the safety of our people. Forge new alliances. Bring peace and prosperity. Be a better man than I ever could be.”
“Father…” Thor allowed a tear to fall down his cheek. “Let me do this. You still have so much life to live… Mother mourns for you…”
“And she will continue to mourn for me, but she will live her life, she will find happiness again. My son, my boy…” Odin clasped his shoulder, a display of affection that startled Thor. Odin was not an openly affectionate father, he usually remained aloof and emotionally distant. “Look after your mother. Look after your brother. He will need your help remembering. His heart is in the right place, for the most part. He may be a chaotic trickster, but he loves his family, he loves his home. Don’t allow his jealousy to cloud his judgement. I made many mistakes with him, but I never once stopped loving him. He will need you now, more than ever. He died trying to save the Nine Realms from the wrath of his birth mother. Please… keep him close.”
“I promise, Father. I promise.”
A few days later…
“Who are you?”
Sága’s world crumbled around her. Her oldest friend, her Loppy, the one she adored… he didn’t know who she was. She had saved him from the abyss, she had utilised powers she never knew she possessed, but it wasn’t enough. He didn’t remember her.
She forced herself not to cry, smiling as wide as possible, hoping to convince him and herself that everything was perfectly well. “My name is Sága. What’s the last thing you remember?”
“Burning… no, wait, that’s not right…” He squinted up at the ceiling. “I remember speaking with my Mother. Where is she?”
Fortunately, Frigga entered the infirmary at that moment, closely followed by a frantic Thor and his bride-to-be Sif. Frigga rushed towards the bed Loki was in, throwing her arms around him and kissing all over his pale face.
“Oh, my sweet boy… I never believed I would see you ever again… I am sorry, I am so sorry…”
“Mother, why are you apologising? What happened to me?”
It was Thor who answered.
“You were killed by a dragon in Nastrond when traveling to Hel to enchant the chains known as Gleipnir. The intention was to bind Hela forever to Hel, however, your plan went wrong… so we had to rescue you.”
“Hela? Gleipnir? W-What? I don’t understand…” He glanced between his brother and mother, and then focused on Sága, who was trying not to cry. His expression softened. “Hello, little valkyrie. Were you the one to save my life?”
“She was,” Thor stated, smiling proudly at the young woman. Sága didn’t share his enthusiasm. Instead, she quietly excused herself, heading out of the infirmary and towards the room she had been given to stay in for the time being, at least until Loki recovered his memories, or at least until she deemed her time on Asgard over and done with.
As soon as she was gone, Loki felt much colder. He shivered involuntarily, and Frigga tucked the blanket around him more firmly, kissing his brow and ordering him to get some rest. “We will return in the morning, darling,” she assured him. “For now, rest. You deserve it.”
Loki wasn’t certain if he did deserve to rest. But, he was loathe to upset his mother by disobeying her. And so, as the three of them traipsed out of the room, he lay back down and closed his eyes, finding himself dreaming of darkness and a golden winged woman with lips he longed to kiss.
Asgard was a stark contrast to the savage beauty of Jotunheim. Golden and gleaming on the surface, rotten to the core on the inside, or so it seemed to her. Wandering through the ancient streets of the city, Sága realised that the Realm Eternal was not as mighty as it was claimed to be. In fact, at the centre of it all, it was the same as any other realm. It just chose to have a more golden mask.
Ever since her time in Hel, she had been plagued with horrified nightmares. Some she knew were her own. Some she knew were not. They were akin to visions, detailing battling maidens upon winged horses, fighting for their lives against the Queen of the Damned herself. She knew that these must have been the last memories of her mother Hildegunn.
Although she longed to return home to Angrboða and Jörð, Sága wasn’t about to give up the opportunity to unearth knowledge pertaining to her Æsir mother and her family. Her journey of discovery began in the palace library, where she perused the restricted sections in search of any mention of her Valkyrie mother.
After three days of searching, she came across an old ledger from Nornheim of all places. Hildegunn Heddindottir, born to Heddin, son of Hrothgar, who was once King of Nornheim until Odin’s father Bor had forced him into an alliance with the Asgardian Royal Family.
She had two brothers, twins, known as Froda and Ingeld. Froda had been an Einherjar, Ingeld had been a berserker warrior. There was no record of their deaths, so Sága could only presume they still lived.
What intrigued her the most was the fact that her grandmother, her mother’s mother Skulda, was part Storm-Giant. Descended from Yrsa, an Æsir healer, and the Storm Giant Paramount (the leader of the Storm Giant Ordning) was Hymir. If she wanted to learn more about her heritage, she knew exactly where to go.
But how could she leave knowing that Loki was still confined to the infirmary? How could she go in search of her ancestors when her best friend didn’t even remember who she was? She couldn’t abandon him, not in his time of need. No, she would be selfless. She would stay with him. Her past could wait.
She could wait.
“There is little point in you being here until Eir returns from Vanaheim.”
Sága sighed in dismay at the Allmother’s words. “I cannot leave him, Allmother. He wouldn’t leave me if our positions were reversed.”
“That is true, but he would want you to discover for yourself the truth about your heritage. Take this chance, little valkyrie. Take the chance to find out who you really are. I know you must have a thousand and one questions, so I suggest this: go to Nornheim. Seek out the Storm Giants of Bubesheim. Perhaps learning about your Storm Giant roots will help to explain your proficiency with nature spells.” Frigga smiled reassuringly at her. “I know you are scared, but you needn’t be. Loki will remember in time. And once he does… I doubt he will want you out of his sights.”
Sága nodded, lowering her head as she shed a few pitiful tears. “May I request one thing, my lady?”
“Of course, my dear.”
“Would you find someone to come with me? I do not wish to go to a place I am not familiar with without a companion.”
“Understandable. I believe I have the perfect person for the role.”
It turned out, the person she had in mind was Thor. And so, once they had all their supplies securely fastened to the saddles of their horses, once they had said their goodbyes, once they had said a tentative farewell to a still-dazed Loki, the pair set off down the road in the direction of Nornheim.
Chapter 7: Stormwatch
A trip to Midgard leads to an unexpected turn of events...
Bubesheim was the hub of Storm Giant society, located high in the stormy hills of the Trollheimen mountain range in the northern region of Nornheim. It was cold most of the year, with a permanent layer of frost covering the frozen earth. It was the closest one could get to Jotunheim temperatures without actually going to Jotunheim, so Sága felt right at home among the storm-ravaged peaks.
The Storm Giants were led by the paramount Nalim, a brooding eight foot tall purple-grey skinned goliath who had a grudge against the Rock Trolls who frequently raided the surrounding villages. His grudge was so significant that it had resulted in a temporary truce between the Storm Giant Ordning and the Asgardians. Which was ideal, because it meant Sága and Thor could enter Bubesheim on the pretense of being emissaries from the city.
They were greeted by Nalim’s mate Nan, who looked, if anything, even more dangerous than her partner. She, like most Storm Giants, was bald, with intricate tribal tattoos covering her scalp, representing her numerous victories in battle. She and a few other Storm Giants made them feel right at home, introducing them to the local mead hall run by Gymer, a rather portly goliath who was fond of wearing a horned helmet and belching out songs detailing many intimate acts between loving couples.
Nan didn’t allow them to linger long in the mead hall, just long enough for Thor to become heavily acquainted with Thiassi, an enthusiastic young Storm Giant who had a fondness for thunder and lightning, which meant he was Thor’s biggest fan. Nan managed to usher Thiassi away, continuing the guided tour around the capital of Storm Giant society.
The structures of Bubesheim consisted of stone that had been moulded from the ground itself by the tribal shamans, reminding Sága of Klaustur. Due to the strong winds that often afflicted the mountains of Nornheim, any other structure wouldn’t be able to withstand the elements.
At the centre of Bubesheim was a pillar, much like the one in Klaustur, except this one was not fueled by the heart of a fire elemental, but by the heart of an air elemental. Or at least it had been until recently. It was supposed to be the power source for all of Bubesheim and the surrounding villages, protected by the staunchest defenders and shamans, but recent Rock Troll incursions had damaged the Vindsøyle, shattering the elemental heart within.
“We are in need of a new heart,” Nan explained. “However, the last sighting of an air elemental on Nornheim was centuries ago. There is, however, word of an air elemental forming on Midgard. Perhaps you two would be interested in investigating? It would be a great boon to my people, and we would be willing to divulge all the information you require pertaining to Lord Hymir and his family.”
Sága looked to Thor. “Are you up for another adventure?”
He looked down at her and gave a grin of delight. “Always, my friend.”
October 15th 1987, In A Remote Lighthouse Off The Coast Of Cornwall
The tiny television set was blaring in the background, half buried beneath stacks of papers and books Sága hadn’t bothered clearing up. For the past few days she’d been tracking the path of the rogue elemental being Nan had sent her and Thor after, one which was set to cause havoc upon Midgard. She had no intention of preventing its chaotic nature, rather, she was here to study it before allowing Thor to slay it and remove its beating heart.
“Earlier on today, apparently, a woman rang the BBC and said she heard there was a hurricane on the way; well, if you're watching, don't worry, there isn't, but having said that, actually, the weather will become very windy, but most of the strong winds, incidentally, will be down over Spain and across into France.”
Sága scoffed. “You’ll regret saying that, Mr Fish.” She threw a scrunched up piece of paper at the tiny television, laughing when it bounced off and landed into the waste bin with precise accuracy.
She turned the television off after a while, settling for putting a record on. A song called ‘Here I Go Again’ by a band known as Whitesnake started playing, and as she started reorganising her papers, she swayed her hips to the beat of the music, singing the few lyrics she knew. She was spending the day waiting for Thor to return from the mainland while she continued researching how best to apprehend such an enormous beast. It was going to prove to be quite the challenge, from what she could gather from the texts she had borrowed from Luft, an old shaman in Bubesheim who was the Keeper of Lore for the Storm Giant Ordning.
She flicked the kettle on, making herself a cup of soup to warm herself up with. The lighthouse they had rented wasn’t very well insulated, but it was in the prime position to study the storm up close and personal. She found herself growing more excited the closer the elemental came, with the wind starting to pick up being an indicator of how far away it was from her current position. She just hoped Thor would make it back in time.
Tucking her papers away in her interdimensional pocket space for safekeeping, a trick she had learnt from Loki before his ‘accident’, Sága put on the puffer jacket she had purchased from an expensive shop in London, a purple number which made her look like a round blob. Still, it kept her nice and warm, which was what really mattered. She shoved an ushanka hat onto her head, the fur-lined flaps covering her ears, pairing it with a stylish tartan scarf and a pair of thin gloves.
The wind was building gradually, the sea becoming choppy, a few seabirds riding the wind currents in lazy circles. Sága took out the clumsy Midgardian camera she had purchased, taking a few photographs so she could show Loki what she had been up to during her time away. She took a picture of herself grinning like a loon, then focused on snapping shots of the lighthouse and the seagulls and the nearby coastline of Cornwall.
Thor soon returned with more supplies, using Mjölnir to quickly fly himself from the mainland to the lighthouse. He dumped the plastic bags on the floor and started pulling out food items, most of them being ‘Pop-Tarts’, an unusual delicacy Thor had apparently taken a fondness to on his last visit to Midgard.
“Are you supposed to cook them?” Sága asked trepidatiously, eyeing the strange colourful packaging suspiciously.
“You can eat them as they are, but I always prefer them to be cooked.” Thor took out the toaster he’d had the foresight to purchase, plugging the device in before removing the foil from his sugary treats. Sága grimaced, deciding she wouldn’t be partaking in such ‘delicacies’, instead making herself another cup of soup to sip on.
“Are you sure you’re going to be able to take the beast’s heart?” Sága asked him while they waited for his Pop-Tarts to cook.
Thor shrugged, sounding extremely merry as he said, “It is made of that which I am a God of. It will be easy, my lady.”
Somehow, Sága doubted that very much.
At around 11 at night, Sága had herself securely tied to the outer wall of the lighthouse as the wind threatened to knock her into the sea. She watched Thor take off into the sky, laughing in giddy delight when she saw the gigantic elemental with her own two eyes, its mighty form something she would never forget. The raw power of such a creature was awe-inspiring, bringing tears of joy to her already watering eyes.
The heart of the storm was soon to be passing them by. They had a limited window to work in. Sága, full to the brim with the knowledge she had gathered, started calling upon her powers, tapping into nature herself to start manipulating the storm, trying to quell it long enough to allow Thor safe passage to its core.
The air elemental was significantly larger than the one whose heart had been previously used to power Bubesheim. Sága was beginning to doubt their abilities, she started to struggle controlling the storm, trying and eventually failing to hold the monstrosity at bay.
“THOR!” She shouted into the wind. “YOU’RE ON YOUR OWN!”
Up high in the sky, battered by the wind, Thor was unable to hear Sága’s call. He focused on the most intense part of the storm, focusing all his power on swinging Mjölnir around at a lightning fast speed, building up enough charge to unleash a burst of electricity, which he hoped would temporarily stop the heart from beating.
It didn’t work.
“Shit!” Thor cursed, swinging himself above the elemental, sensing its growing anger and disapproval of their actions. “SÁGA! IT’S NOT WORKING!”
Sága, still tethered to the lighthouse, was unable to hear him. But, after munching on the cold Pop-Tart Thor had decided to leave her, one which she had put into her pocket earlier in the day, the sudden renewed burst of energy caused by the inhalation of sugar allowed Sága to draw upon her powers once more, focusing on the eye of the storm, using the last vestiges of her strength to slowly but surely weaken the bonds surrounding the pulsing heart.
Thor swung his hammer again, unleashing a devastating charge of electricity. The resulting blast knocked the heart out of the storm, not stopping the storm (for it would take more than losing its heart to stop an elemental), but it did weaken the storm significantly, and gave Thor the chance to dive towards the churning, crashing waves and catch the bulky mass before it could plunge into the depths of the sea.
Once the remainder of the storm had swept on by, Sága awkwardly made her way back into the lighthouse, unhitching herself before staggering inside. She waited impatiently for Thor to return with the heart, growing more and more anxious the longer he was gone. Finally, after what felt like a hundred years, Thor came staggering inside wielding the mighty heart. Sága cheered victoriously.
“Well done, Thor! You did it!”
He set the heart down and gathered Sága up in his arms. “I couldn’t have done any of this without you, my lady.” Before Sága knew what was happening, Thor’s lips were on hers. “This was a mighty victory for us both.”
“It… certainly was…” Sága licked her lips, glancing around before whispering, “You should not kiss me, Thor. You are going to be a married man soon.”
“But I am not yet a married man, we are doing nothing wrong.” He gently took her head in his calloused hands, bringing their lips closer and closer together, until finally, Sága closed the distance between them, kissing him with all her might.
“Sleep with me tonight, my lady…” Thor murmured. “Sleep with me, just for this one night.”
“There is a chance he will never recover. Do you wish to live the remainder of your days waiting for a man who might never remember you?” When she didn’t answer, he sighed, brushing away the tears they were falling down her cheeks. “Little Valkyrie, do not weep. Allow yourself this one pleasure, just for tonight. In the morning, we will return to Bubesheim with the heart, and then soon, you will return to your mother on Jotunheim. We need never speak of this night if you so wish. But for now…” He tenderly caressed her lips with his. “Let me worship you as a goddess should be worshipped.”
He guided her over to the small bed, and Sága allowed herself to succumb to the warmth, to the strength, to the kindness and devotion of the God of Thunder.
They were hailed as heroes by the Storm Giants of Bubesheim. Nan celebrated their accomplishments by hosting a lavish feast, one which lasted three days and nights.
During the third day, when Thor was in a heated tonsil battle with Thiassi, Sága wandered off to find Luft, the Keeper of Lore.
Luft was a hunchbacked old soul, his bald head covered in intricate tribal tattoos, a nose ring of silver adorning his blueish-purple features. He was wrinkled and blind in one eye from what she could tell, but he saw her approaching his little hidey-hole, a rather saccharine smile lingering on his chapped lips.
“You have the look of your mother about you.”
“Do I?” Sága sat next in front of him on the ground, crossing her legs and placing her hands on her knees. “I never knew my mother, so I don’t know whether or not your words are true.”
“They are incredibly true. Your mother was Hildegunn Heddindottir, the former leader of the Valkyrie. It is a pity she was taken to Valhalla before her time, but at least her legacy lives on in your soul.”
“What can you tell me of her family?” Sága asked.
“Now, let’s see…” Luft rooted around in the satchel he kept by his side, cursing under his breath before finally letting out a cry of triumph when he extracted a yellowed scroll fastened together with a red silk ribbon. “Here we have a brief history of the Family of Hymir.”
Sága accepted the scroll from him gratefully, opening it up and unraveling it, eagerly reading the words presented before her.
Yrsa, daughter of Halga, was promised to Eadgils, the King of Nornheim. Eadgils was a cruel and petty man, more interested in gold than in the welfare of his people. Yrsa, a kind soul by all accounts, was said to fear the King, going so far as to weep hysterically on the eve of her wedding.
The Storm Giant Ordning of the Trollheimen Mountains had been having difficulties with the expansion of the King’s territory. Conflicts had become a more common occurrence, led for the most part by the young, reportedly very ruggedly handsome young paramount, Hymir.
It was during one such conflict that Hymir, on the eve of the royal wedding, unintentionally took Yrsa as part of his bounty. The pair, though vastly different in many ways, soon fell madly in love. Yrsa fell pregnant and gave birth to the first Storm Giant hybrid, Skulda. However, news of Skulda’s birth reached the ears of the vengeful King Eadgils, who had sworn to slay Hymir for ‘stealing’ what he thought was rightfully his.
The two powerful warriors met in combat. Hymir was the victor, but ultimately, he perished, slain by the poison-tipped blade of Eadgils, who perished soon afterwards. In his stead, Eadgils was succeeded by his brother Hrothgar, who had a much more lenient and liberate attitude when it came to women, marriage, and Storm Giants.
Heddin, son of Hrothgar, fell in love with Skulda, the two of them marrying once they were both of age. Theirs was a beautiful romance, full of trust and laughter and love. They had a daughter, Hildegunn, and then twin boys, Froda and Ingeld.
Heddin passed away from an old war wound, survived by his wife Skulda, and his children. Skulda’s whereabouts are currently unknown, but it is believed she returned to her father’s ancestral home in the Trollheimen mountains, to spend the rest of her days in relative peace.
“Is she still alive? Skulda, that is.”
Luft took the scroll back from her, tying it up before placing it delicately into his satchel. “Perhaps,” he replied elusively. “But if she is, and if she wishes to be seen, she will find you in her own time. Stay for a few more days, at the very least. Give her time to find her own way to you.”
“Thank you, Luft. For everything.”
Luft smiled wryly. “You’re very welcome, Little Valkyrie.”
Chapter 8: Blood is Thicker than Water
After returning to Asgard, Sága has a decision to make.
trigger warning: mentions of abortion
In the dead of night, on their final day in Bubesheim, Sága ventured out into the cold night air, finding her room too stifling and claustrophobic. She was deep in thought, troubled over what had happened on Midgard. What she and Thor had done… she knew there was going to be repercussions. She could feel it already, a seed planted within her womb, an inevitability when one bedded a God of Fertility.
When she returned to Asgard, she was going to have to speak with the healers there.
But, that thought was pushed aside for the time being, for she found herself coming face to face with an old Storm Giant woman who wielded a staff, and who had light blonde hair that was interspersed with grey. Her eyes were a brilliant shade of blue, and they peered into Sága’s own, studying her carefully.
“You could be her twin.”
“I presume you are my grandmother,” Sága said quietly.
“You presume correctly.”
Skulda was rather softly spoken, a stark contrast to the image Sága had formed in her mind about her mother’s mother.
“I heard what you did on Midgard,” the old Storm Giant continued. “Are you and the God of Thunder close?”
“Um… in a manner of speaking?”
“Are you asking me or are you telling me?”
“Telling…?” Sága shook her head a little. “Regardless, I do not wish to spend this conversation discussing Thor. I have… I have questions, I suppose.”
“I suppose I shall have to answer them.” Skulda turned her back on Sága and started limping away, using the staff as an aid. “Come along, I don’t have all night!”
Sága hurried after her, not willing to upset her any further.
“Hildegunn was always a headstrong woman,” Skulda began, pouring hot milk into a cup for Sága. The old half-Storm Giant’s home was cosy and warm, built into the mountainside with a small opening to allow the smoke of the fire to escape. She lived by herself, but occasionally one of her sons would come and visit her when they weren’t busy in Ida Keep, the home of the former royal family of Nornheim, built on the planes of Ida overlooking the border between Nornheim and Asgard.
“She was determined to bend the rules, even when she became a fully-fledged Valkyrie.” Skulda picked up her knitting, making what Sága presumed was some sort of sweater. “During an assignment to Vanaheim, she met a reclusive young god named Bragi. They fell in love, or so I like to believe. She was pregnant with you when she went off to face Hela.”
“What do you know of Bragi?” Sága asked, before taking a deep drink from her mug of goat’s milk. She wiped the excess from her upper lip.
“I know he is the God of Poetry. His father is Buri, one of the more noble members of Vanir society. His mother is a half Vanir, half Jötnar called Kelda, who is the daughter of Skaði and Skold.”
“So… not only do I have Storm Giant blood… but I also have Frost Giant blood?”
“It seems so, yes.”
“Huh.” Sága didn’t quite know what to make of that new revelation, so she occupied herself with finishing her warm mug of goat’s milk.
“If you wish to find out more about your Vanir family, I suggest visiting Druskvar.”
“Yes. Druskvar. It is where your great-grandmother Skaði resides, in the House of Sökkvabekkr. Go there and she will be more than happy to tell you the tales of your father’s family. For now, you should get some rest.”
It seemed Skulda had reached the limit of her pleasantries. Perhaps seeing Sága was difficult for her because of how much she resembled Hildegunn. All Sága could do was thank her profusely for her time before taking the old lady by surprise with the biggest hug she could muster.
“Thank you for everything, grandmother,” she whispered into her blonde-and-grey hair. “Thank you.”
“You’re… you’re welcome, my dear.”
It was with a melancholic sense of self that Sága departed Bubesheim, one hand placed delicately on her belly, the other holding the reins of her horse. She was going to miss the Storm Giants. They had reminded her of simpler times, when she had lived in Klaustur with Jörð, before everything had happened, before the Allfather’s demise, before Hela, before all the complications with Loki. She was never going to lead an easy life, was she?
It took surprisingly very little time to return to Asgard City. It was as golden and gleaming as ever, with the stench of sewage lurking in the background. Sága and Thor reached the palace before nightfall, with Sága only lingering long enough to remove her bags and stable the horse before racing for the infirmary.
She burst inside, Thor hot on her heels, panting wildly as she swivelled around, trying to catch a glimpse of Loki.
He wasn’t there.
There was, however, an elegant woman who looked to be around Frigga’s age, with a sophisticated updo and a rather severe expression on her nicely-aged features. She eyed the two intruders in disapproval. “Must you storm into my infirmary like wild Bilgesnipe?”
“Forgive us, Lady Eir,” Thor said apologetically. “We were in a rush to see Loki. Where is he?”
“In his chambers.”
They turned and left without bidding her farewell, racing each other down the winding corridors until they crashed to a halt in front of Loki’s bedchamber doors. They could hear strange noises coming from within, which raised their suspicions.
Slowly, Thor opened the door and poked his head inside. “Loki? Brother, we have returned from Nornheim, we had quite the adventure-” He cut himself off, withdrawing quickly, his face bright red.
“What is it?” Sága asked, trying to push past him. “Is he alright?”
“More than alright…” Thor coughed awkwardly. “He… uh… he is entertaining…”
“I don’t understand…” Her voice trailed off when Loki appeared at the door, scowling at his brother, a bed sheet wrapped around his waist. Numerous bite marks littered his pale flesh, his dark hair disheveled, his lips swollen.
“Do you not know how to knock, you oaf?” Loki gritted out.
“What’s going… on…” Sága went wide eyed when Fandral appeared beside Loki, dressed in a similar manner. Her cheeks flared bright red, tears welling in her eyes.
Loki, who hadn’t realised she was there, stared at her as though he had just been electrocuted. “Sága…” He swallowed thickly. “Eir healed me, I remember everything now… I didn’t think you’d be back so soon… how have you been?”
Jörð always liked to say that Sága had a vindictive streak in her. During her childhood, one of the residents of Klaustur had injured her cat Bygul, and in return, Sága had burned down their garden shed. So it was her vindictive streak which drove her to say to Loki what she knew would devastate him;
“I’ve been well. Better than well. I’ve been great. Me and Thor had sex on Midgard and now I’m carrying his child. So you enjoy Fandral, I’ll enjoy my life back home on Jotunheim without you!” And with those words ringing in the ears of the three men, Sága turned and stalked away, hating herself the longer she walked away.
“Lady Eir?” Sága asked timidly the next morning, making a much more discreet entry into the infirmary. The lady in question was sorting through her medical supplies, glancing up at Sága distractedly to acknowledge her presence. “Do you know if there is a way of getting rid of… an unwanted problem?”
Lady Eir regarded her for a moment before gesturing for her to follow her into one of the private rooms. As soon as they were alone, Eir said, “I presume this is about Thor impregnating you.”
“How do you…?”
“It seems gossip travels fast, especially when it involves a jealous younger brother wishing to cause mischief for his soon-to-be married brother.” Eir’s eyes had a spark of amusement in them, as if she found the entire scenario ridiculous at best. “I have herbs which you can take to flush out the embryo. Is that what you would like?”
Sága nodded before saying, “I would, yes, Lady Eir. I wish to return to Jotunheim sooner rather than later, and I do not wish to bear the child of the God of Thunder. I have no desire to… meddle in royal affairs.”
“Although, you must be aware, you already have. Loki is quite besotted with you.”
“So besotted he slept with Fandral.”
“Well… you slept with Thor, so…”
Sága sighed. “I know… it’s just… I didn’t know what to expect when I came back. I didn’t know if he’d remember me or not. I suppose I had prepared myself for the worst case scenario, I allowed myself to be… swept up in the moment. It was my first time…”
Eir nodded in understanding.
“Was it uncomfortable?”
“A little. He’s… very big. But he was surprisingly gentle. He made me feel safe…” Sága found herself blushing. “He makes it easy for people to love him. Loki’s the complete opposite. If Thor is a pillow, Loki is a dagger. He is… difficult.”
“But with good reason.”
“Yes, I suppose…” Sága rubbed at her eyes. “I think I should take those special herbs now. Does it work straight away or…?”
“I would advise you get lots of bed rest for the rest of the day. There will be some bleeding, so I will give you these.” Eir handed her a bundle of special cloths which were designed to soak up blood. “And I will go and prepare your medicine. Wait here, I won’t be long.”
Sága sat down by the window and waited for Eir, passing the time by watching a couple of ravens playing together outside, spinning and twirling through the air to their hearts delight. She wondered what it would be like to fly like a raven. Her thoughts lingered on the wings that had sprouted from her shoulder blades in Hel. The power of the Valkyrie surging through her. As soon as they had left Hel, the power had fizzled out, but the memory of those wings still haunted her. She could almost feel the ghost of them brushing against her back.
Her musings were interrupted by a sharp knock on the door, which opened, a voice calling out, “Lady Eir, are you in here? Oh.” Loki stopped when he saw Sága sitting on the windowsill. His eyes narrowed. “Why are you here?”
“I’m here for medicine,” she said quietly, unwilling to meet his gaze.
“Medicine for what?”
Sága sighed impatiently. “What do you think? It’s for getting rid of…” She gestured to her stomach. “Now, if you don’t mind, I’d prefer to be left alone.”
Loki blinked at her, looking surprised.
“Why are you getting rid of it?”
“Why would I keep it? I don’t want Thor’s baby. I don’t want to be his… concubine or… whatever.” Sága started nervously braiding strands of her hair, feeling anxious about him staring at her so intensely. “Why are you here?”
“I wanted to speak to Eir…”
Sága resisted the urge to roll her eyes.
Thankfully, Eir returned at that point, glancing between Loki and Sága before handing Sága the vial of medicine. “Drink this all up, then get yourself to bed. I’ll have one of the servants bring you lunch and dinner, alright?”
“Thank you, Lady Eir.” Sága uncorked the bottle and downed it rapidly, trying to resist the awful taste coating her tongue. Once it was all gone, she stood up and thanked the healer once more before leaving the room, brushing by Loki on her way out.
Spending the day confined to her room was tedious to say the least. Sága, bored after the first half hour, was more than grateful when Loki quietly entered her room carrying a pile of books taller than himself. He dumped them on the floor by the bed next to her, joining her without invitation, the pair of them reading in silence for the next few hours, until a servant brought them both lunch.
“Do you have feelings for my brother?” Loki asked.
Sága, who had been about to bite into a piece of cheese, shook her head.
“Are you certain?” Loki asked, sounding sceptical. “You can be honest with me.”
“I like him. As a friend. But I don’t like him in a romantic sense.” She nibbled on her cheese, debating on whether or not to say anything more on the matter. In the end, she did. “We went to Midgard to acquire the heart of an air elemental. Once it was done, we… well, you know…”
“Yeah…” Loki blushed a little, picking at his food in disinterest. “Was he good?”
“I suppose… I don’t have a comparison.” When Loki looked up sharply, she quickly added, “I’ve never have sexual intercourse before.”
“So he was your first?”
“Yeah.” She shrugged. “I thought I’d feel different, people always make such a fuss about virginity and being a maiden, but… I still feel like myself.” She bit her bottom lip anxiously before daring to ask him a question. “Who was your first time with?”
“There was this… Enchantress. Amora.” Loki leaned back against the headboard and closed his eyes, abandoning his lunch. “I was infatuated with her.”
“Do you remember Beyla?”
Loki opened one eye, frowning a little.
“Ah. Yes. What about her?”
“She was the first person who’d kissed me in a… romantic way. I’d been kissed before, but it was either by one of the Mothers or Jörð or… Býleistr. Fárbauti wants us to get married, but… I don’t want to marry him.” She picked at a loose thread, blushing profusely as she whispered, “When I was a child, I always thought I’d get married to you.”
Loki smiled to himself. “I wouldn’t be opposed to that.”
“What, marrying yourself?”
“No, my little valkyrie. I mean, I wouldn’t be opposed to marrying you.”
“Oh.” She smiled shyly. “I’m glad.”
An idea sprang to mind.
“Before I return to Jotunheim… how about we go on a little quest?”
“To where? Because I do not think I could tolerate being killed by another dragon,” Loki jested.
Sága rolled her eyes, grinning in excitement. “I have family on Vanaheim I wish to learn about. We can go there together. How about it? One last trip together before we go our separate ways?”
Loki pretended to ponder the idea. He then gave a wide grin and held his arms out. “I would love nothing more.” He pulled her into a tight embrace. “When do we leave?”
“In the morning. Or is that too soon?”
“How about the day after tomorrow? It would give you enough time to recover from your… ailment.”
“Yeah, okay.” Feeling bold, she pressed a coy kiss to his cheek. “Thank you for being my best friend, Loppy.”
“Thank you for being mine, Flower.”
Chapter 9: Down Below
Sága and Loki's relationship takes a turn for the better
In the heart of the Storm Lands of Vanaheim, in the region known as Druskvar, was the village known as Vorgrul. It was perhaps the only village in Druskvar surrounded by forests, for the rest of the harsh land was too windswept to sustain even the hardiest of trees.
Vorgrul was a hub of shamanistic and druidic magic, and it was the village that Sága and Loki found themselves in. Here, like many other places connected with the elements, stood a pillar known as the Bladstøtte, which was powered by the heart of an earth elemental.
Strangely, the power of the earth elemental’s heart was fading. It seemed another quest was in order.
“Where is the location of the nearest earth elemental?” Loki asked the town’s chieftain, Isuldof. “We are more than happy to supply you a new one.”
“I have already battled with an air elemental,” Sága added, trying and failing not to sound too smug. “On Midgard. A great monstrosity it was, nearly killed both myself and my partner. But we brought it back, and now Bubesheim is flourishing once again.”
“Hm.” Isuldof didn’t sound too impressed. He was a tall half-Jötnar half-Vanir man with a grizzled outlook on life and a rather scraggly beard that had definitely seen better days. He seemed world-weary and resigned to his life as chieftain, when it was abundantly clear to even two newcomers that the man was ill-suited to such a role. “I have heard news from the west of an earth elemental causing havoc for Haustvald. I am sure they would be keen to rid themselves of the blighted fiend. If you can bring us back the heart of the earth elemental, I will see to it that you are granted an audience with Lady Skaði.”
“Thank you, Master Isuldof. We won’t disappoint you.”
The journey to Haustvald would take them a few days on foot, which was what they were forced to go on, since their horses had been claimed by the residents of Vorgrul as ‘insurance’, to ensure they returned with the promised heart. It seemed ridiculous, but apparently, the Druskvari people of Vanaheim were incredibly untrusting of strangers.
They spent most of the first day traversing along a forest path which steadily steepened the closer they came to the mountains that dominated the skyline. When they stopped for lunch, Sága decided to ask Loki a question.
“Are you still considering becoming King of Jotunheim?”
He set down the loaf of bread he had been gnawing on, looking rather dismayed with her. “I doubt I would be accepted as their King,” he stated, sounding rather sour about the whole thing. “The way they viewed Hela was proof enough that a runt could never become King.”
“You are nothing like Hela,” she pointed out. “Besides, you would seek the counsel of the Mothers, and the Mothers are renowned across Jotunheim. They have the true power of the throne, it was because Hela shunned them that she was so hated. You would not make that same mistake. Would you?”
“Of course not.” He paused, looking suddenly extremely nervous. “Do you think I would be a good king?”
“No. I think you’ll be the best king.” She smiled at him, patting the back of his hand to reassure him.
His expression softened.
“You always know what to say to make me feel better.”
“It’s part of being your friend, Loppy. I like making you feel better. It makes me feel happy when you’re happy.” She snuggled up to him, sighing in content when he draped his arm around her shoulders. “I was so scared when I thought you’d never remember me. I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have you. I lost you once… I don’t plan on losing you again.”
Haustvald was heavily influenced by dwarvish architecture. It was understandable: Haustvald was the forge of Vanaheim, so to speak. The home of the blacksmith Hreiðmarr, the God of the Forge. He had apparently honed his skills on Niðavellir, working alongside the legendary Eitri, who was renowned for making weapons such as Mjölnir and Gungnir.
Built into the mountainside, with the carved faces of ages old kings and queens of Vanaheim, Haustvald was one of the last bastions of uncorrupted power on the forested realm. Loki and Sága were permitted entry into the Citadel, finding themselves surrounded not only by Vanir, but by Dark Elves, Light Elves, the occasional Fire Demon, and an abundance of dwarves.
“I never knew Vanaheim was so diverse…” Loki whispered.
“Compared to Asgard, everywhere is diverse.” Sága linked her fingers through his and pulled him along. “We have to meet with Hreiðmarr to inform him of what we are planning on doing. We can request maps of Haustvald, I hear it’s a maze down below.”
“At least if we get lost, we will get lost together.” He brushed a soft kiss to her temple, that simple action causing her to blush. “This is going to be fun, you and I on an adventure together.”
“Much more fun than my trip to Midgard…” She knew Loki was still put-out by what had transpired on Midgard, and knew it would be for the best if she reassured him so he wouldn’t stay upset. He shot her a grateful look, which quelled any uneasiness she was experiencing. “I wish you could have been there in Bubesheim with me. I met my grandmother Skulda, she was a bit… distant, but she told me about my mother.”
“Speaking of mothers…” He guided her through the bustling crowd, heading in the direction of the large, imposing structure which was where they presumed Hreiðmarr would be. “You must be missing Angrboða.”
“Yes. But… I had not seen her for years… and she knows I will come to her once I have finished… this.” Sága clung onto Loki’s arm, anxious about being surrounded by so many people. “I am more concerned about Jörð, to be honest. I find it strange how the hearts of the pillars have been… weakening. I fear it is as a result of Jörð’s grief and trauma.”
“Perhaps we should return to her once we are done in Vanaheim?”
“Would you mind?”
“Of course not. We have to return to Jotunheim sooner or later, regardless.” He held her closer, sensing her nervous energy once they came to a halt at the bottom of the steps leading up to the grand building where they would find Hreiðmarr. “Flower, before we enter... I have a gift for you. Close your eyes.”
She closed her eyes, waiting expectantly for whatever it was he was going to present her with. As the seconds ticked on by, she grew more and more apprehensive. “Loki? What-” She had been about to open her eyes when she was thoroughly distracted by the sensation of his lips on hers, with his hands coming to rest on her hips, guiding her closer against him, while his silvertongue parted her lips and eagerly started exploring her mouth.
Her back hit the stone wall, but she paid it no mind, too busy reciprocating his kiss. She grabbed a handful of his shirt, wishing she could meld her body with his, wishing for the kiss to never, ever end. But, of course, air was vital for them, and so they were forced to separate to catch their breath, both of them red-faced and shyly smiling.
“I have been dying to do that,” he confessed.
“Don’t die. Not before you kiss me again, anyway.” She cupped his head in her hands and pulled him down into a follow-up kiss, moaning softly when his wandering hands began gliding up and down her sides. “Maybe we should rest for the evening before meeting Hreiðmarr…” she suggested. “I’m very tired from all that walking…”
“I think that sounds like a wonderful idea…” He rested his forehead against hers, smiling deviously. “Although I doubt either of us will get much rest.”
F ortunately, there had been one room available at the closest inn, which was called Hammer’s Wrath. Aside from the peculiar name, the interior of the inn was warm and cosy and comforting, and thankfully, there was hot water available along with a large bath tub, which Sága was very much looking forward to utilising.
Loki removed his boots and coat, hanging it up behind the door on the hook. He turned and saw Sága unfastening her own coat, pulling it free and revealing the simple tunic and breeches she was wearing underneath. "Here," he said, taking the coat from her and hanging it next to his own.
She sat down in the armchair which had been placed in the corner near the small fireplace and removed her leather boots, wiggling her toes a little once they were freed from the boots. Loki found himself moving on his own accord, kneeling before her and pushing her legs apart. He slowly lifted up her tunic and pulled it off over her head, inhaling sharply at the sight of her bare breasts.
"Oh..." He set the tunic down, his arousal growing. She was blushing again, but she wasn't trying to hide away from him, her hands resting on the arms of the chair. He leaned up, his lips hovering above hers, taunting her. He grinned when she shifted in her seat, only to realise what she was doing when her breeches landed next to him on the floor. "Norns..."
His lips came down to meet hers, pushing himself up until he was standing up and leaning over her, hands on the arms of the chair bracketing her in. She pulled off his shirt and let her arms wrap around him loosely, her hands brushing down his back, her touch setting his senses aflame.
He trailed his lips down her body, lingering on her neck and her breasts in particular, sucking languidly on her pink nipples, making them nicely distended. He flicked one as he sucked on the other, drawing out soft gasps from her. He removed his trousers hastily, sliding them down his legs and tossing them aside carelessly. Her breath hitched, her fingers grazing his manhood tentatively.
"Mmm , that's it..." he purred. When she made to guide him against her, he nudged her hand aside. "I need to thoroughly prepare you first."
He lowered himself down and licked a long line along her bare sex. Sága gasped, one hand grabbing a fistful of his hair, the other digging into the arm of the chair. He draped her legs over his shoulders, circling the tip of his tongue around her bundle of nerves. He suckled softly and then more firmly, drawing out hitched breaths and moans from her as her thighs pressed against the sides of his head.
He lifted himself up, lips finding hers once more, his middle finger pushing past her folds and into her velvet warmth. He trailed kisses down her neck and all the way to her chest, resting his head on her heaving bosom as he hoarsely whispered, "This is what you've been longing for, isn't it? Would you accept me fully, little valkyrie? Would you allow a god to claim you?"
He sucked the moisture from his fingers, maintaining eye contact with her as she sat up and silently got up and walked over to the bed. He followed her, watching as she got in beneath the sheets of the bed, gazing at him with a golden glint in her hooded eyes. Once he joined her beneath the sheets, he started kissing her breasts and along her collarbone, drawing out soft, tremulous whimpers and gasps as he slowly guided himself into her heated core.
"OH!" Sága’s nails dug into his shoulders, the sensation of being so full threatening to overwhelm her. It was nothing like it had been with Thor back on Midgard. She didn’t feel like she was about to break in two, she felt… as silly as it sounded, she felt as if they fit perfectly together, like the pieces of a puzzle.
"Yes, that's it, my sweet girl," Loki purred, caressing down her sides as he slowly rotated his hips in a tight circle. She shuddered, eyelids fluttering shut. "Look at me. Don't look away from me. I want you to look at me as I bring you to the brink of ecstasy."
Her eyes opened up, lips parted, tongue darting out to dampen them as Loki started thrusting steadily into her, groaning from how tightly she encompassed him. He squeezed and pinched her nipples, relishing in those soft gasping moans she was making just for him. He loosely wrapped his fingers around her throat, his thumb pressing against her bottom lip. She sucked on it, releasing it with a pop, eyes forever focused on him and him alone. She was perfect… so perfect… fitting around him so perfectly… finally, he had her… finally, she had him… and he would kill anyone foolish enough to take her away from him.
"This feels like Valhalla..." she whispered, one arm draped across her forehead, her hips undulating along to the rhythm they were making together.
"This is Valhalla, my darling sweet..." he sunk down into her, kissing her soundly, hips snapping harder and more frantically as they both cried out, nearing their joint releases. "Yes, that's it , that's it , can you feel it?" he growled, "I cannot hold back any longer. Let us come undone together, my sweet beautiful goddess. Join me in Valhalla."
He lowered his hand, stroking her, bringing her to her own end as he too reached his. They gasped and cried out shudderingly, her nails digging into his arms, her legs squeezing around him tightly, keeping him close.
" Yes.. ." he breathed out, voice muffled in the crook of her neck, "Yes, yes, that's it, that's it, ah... such a good girl, such a good girl..."
"Feel good..." she mumbled drunkenly, "Feel so good..."
He eased himself out of her, shakily inhaling and exhaling, brushing his hair out of his face with a trembling hand. He absentmindedly fondled her breast, squeezing and pinching her nipple before trailing the back of his fingers downwards, across her belly and down between her thighs. He touched the dampness there, feeling where his seed was sliding down her inner thighs, smiling at her as she pressed her lips together to suppress a moan. He wondered if his seed would take root in her womb, just as his brother had done. And then came a stab of fear. What if she didn’t want his children? What if she decided to get rid of it, as she had done with Thor’s?
He was distracted from mulling over such things when she sat up and winced, tears rushing to her eyes.
"What is the matter? Are you sore?" he asked, touching her face, wiping away her tears with his thumbs.
"A bit sore, yes. And sticky..." She pushed the sheets away and looked towards the bathing room door expectantly.
"Would you care to share a bath with me, my lady?" Loki asked, grinning when she readily agreed. She rose from the sheets, uncaring about being naked in front of him, and he took his time to admire her pert little bottom as she sauntered across the room and into the bathing room to start filling the large tub with hot water.
Once the tub was filled, Loki eased himself inside and smirked when Sága settled down facing him, straddling his thighs.
“I wish it could be like this forever…” she confided, her eyes half-closed. “I wish we could stay together like this and never have to worry about anyone else.”
He settled his hands on her waist, sighing wistfully. “As do I. But, at least for tonight, we have each other.”
“And tomorrow… we will fight an earth elemental.” Sága rested her head against his shoulder, sounding exhausted as she added, “I sincerely hope you don’t die again.”
“As do I… as do I…”
Hreiðmarr was a man of few words. He was, however, Sága’s uncle. Which came as quite the surprise to her, once she realised this man was a part of her convoluted family.
“We’re here to take care of the earth elemental plaguing your lower levels,” Loki informed him. “We would appreciate maps of the area, along with any assistance you can spare.”
Hreiðmarr nodded in understanding, gesturing towards his wife Gersemi, who was half-dwarf half-Vanir, and who had the faint beginnings of a beard growing on her olive skin. Gersemi retrieved from seemingly nowhere a map of the ‘Down Below’.
“It is a bit of a labyrinth down there,” she warned them. “I would advise proceeding with caution.”
“Thank you, Lady Gersemi.” Sága took the map from her and slipped it into her pocket.
“Good luck.” Hreiðmarr said, his voice gruff from disuse no doubt. “Return here once you are done. We will give you quick transport back to Vorgrul if you are successful in your quest.”
“Thank you kindly.” Loki gave a polite bow to both him and his lady wife before leading Sága out of the building and in the direction of the passageway which would take them to the Down Below.
Torches lit the way, fixed to the wall in sconces. It was dark and dingy once they stepped away from the main passageway, down steep steps thankfully designed with dwarves in mind, so it wasn’t too much of a struggle descending down into the maze.
“Do you know of a Midgardian myth, one about a bull man who lives in a maze?” Sága asked, panting a little from the effort of climbing down what felt like a thousand and one steps.
“I know of it, yes.”
“It was said the labyrinth on Crete was constructed by Daedalus for the King to contain the Minotaur.” Sága found that thinking of something other than their quarry helped calm her nerves down. Plus, she liked showing off her knowledge to Loki, she wanted to prove to him that she was more than clever enough to take him on.
“Daedalus? Isn’t his son the one who flew too close to the sun?”
“I believe so, yes. Anyway, the Minotaur was killed by Theseus, who was the son of Poseidon, the Sea God.” Sága paused when she felt a tremor underneath her feet. Gripping onto Loki’s arm, she glanced around edgily before resuming her tale. “He used string to find his way out of the labyrinth. Perhaps we should have done the same…”
Another tremor rumbled around them, causing them both to pause. “I think it knows we’re here…” Sága whispered.
“I doubt whispering will dissuade it, love.” Loki gripped onto the back of her coat and pushed her forward just as a large fist-shaped rock pummeled its way out of the ground, sending debris in all directions.
Sága, working fast, swung around, drawing upon the surrounding elements to try to draw the earth elemental further out, as she backed her way down the passageway hoping for a chamber or something bigger than the corridor they were currently in, unwilling to fight the brute in such confined quarters. Loki was also in the process of drawing it forth, using his magic to taunt it, prodding at its weak parts to provoke it into a rage.
A ripple tore across the ground in Sága’s direction, sending her flying backwards and then, to her horror, down into the earth itself. She screamed, thrashing wildly, but the earth had already consumed her.
Chapter 10: The Jewel of Jotunheim
A trip down memory lane...
She was gone.
Loki knelt there on the ground, panting heavily. “No…” He struck the ground hard. “SÁGA! Sága…”
Moments later… an eruption of stone and soil exploded a few feet behind him. The earth elemental emerged, standing up on two sturdy stone legs, tall enough to dent the ceiling of the passageway. Around its thick legs were green spiked vines, working on tearing through the joints.
“Sága! Sága, are you there?” Loki sent out a blast of energy, which struck the fiend in what would be its head. That caused it to stagger backwards, long enough to allow the dirty, disheveled form of Sága to emerge from the ground, bloodied and scratched, clothes torn up, hair a mess. “Flower!”
“‘M fine…” She grunted, pulling herself out of the hole she had found herself in. She scrunched her eyes shut and concentrated. More vines thrust their way out of the earth, enveloping the earth elemental until it was completely bound in place, squeezing at the weaker parts of its form. “Get the heart… now!”
Loki didn’t need to be told twice. Quick as a flash, he sprang into action, leaping into the air, unleashing a burst of magical energy which penetrated the thick shell of its chest cavity. Stone shattered, opening it up wide enough for him to see the heart within.
“Hurry! I can’t hold it for much longer!”
Working even quicker than before, Loki reached in and pulled, using all his strength to dislodge the incredibly heavy heart. He fell down, landing on his back with a thud, eyes going wide when the brute staggered and started falling down, heading straight towards him. At the last possible second, Sága dragged him out of harm’s way, the earth elemental crumbling to dust around them.
There was a moment or two of silence.
“Oh thank the Norns…” Sága whispered to herself. She stood up, assisting Loki in standing up, the pair of them heaving the heavy heart up the steep steps and all the way back to Hreiðmarr and his wife Gersemi.
They were shocked by how soon they had returned.
“How…?” Hreiðmarr stared at them in bewilderment. “We thought you would take at least a day or two… what happened?”
“I’ve dealt with elementals before. Manipulating nature is easy.” Sága shrugged.
“And I’m the most powerful sorcerer in all the Nine Realms. It was easy.” Loki bragged, smirking at the look on Hreiðmarr’s face. “So, about that transport you offered us.”
“Yes, yes. We will have a cart provided along with our two strongest horses. Congratulations…” Hreiðmarr seemed rather dismayed, which was surprising. “Now please, never return to Haustvald.”
“Oh… why not?” Sága asked.
“Two outsiders doing what I could not do? I have a reputation to uphold.”
“Ah. Masculine pride. Got it.” Sága flashed him a wink. “We’ll get out of your hair, then. Thank you for your hospitality.”
“Yes, yes. That’s very nice. Now go away, shoo!”
Sága and Loki left Haustvald laughing hysterically.
The journey back to Vorgrul took less than a day, the two horses Hreiðmarr had thoughtfully provided for them quick and strong enough to pull them and the cart at an incredibly rapid pace down the path and through the forest, until eventually, they reached the outside of Isuldof’s home in Vorgrul.
“We’ve got the heart!” Loki called out loudly.
Isuldof did not seem impressed, perhaps because they had woken him and half the village up, due to it being the middle of the night. They were, however, unapologetic about waking the chieftain up; after all, they had been on an epic quest to steal a heart from an earth elemental, not only saving Haustvald but Vorgrul too.
Isuldof enlisted the help of the shamans, working together to place the heart of the earth elemental into the Bladstøtte. The change in the air was immediate: power started radiating from the pillar, seeping into the surrounding homes, which caused many of the residents to peer outside to see what was going on.
“You’re welcome,” Sága said proudly.
Isuldof didn’t seem to know how to respond to that. So, instead, he said, “I will send word to Sökkvabekkr promptly. We will give you a map of the area so you find your way there. Good luck… er… and thank you.”
“No, thank you.” Loki said, which earned a giggle from Sága, which in turn made him look incredibly smug and proud of himself. “We’ll be off in the morning, yes? So we should have some accommodation provided.”
“There seems to be plenty of room in your home, Master Isuldof,” Sága added, grinning when the man’s expression turned sour. “You wouldn’t turn away the saviours of Vorgrul now, would you? What would your people think?”
“Fine.” Isuldof spat through gritted teeth. “But you are to leave the moment the sun rises.”
“Of course, we wouldn’t wish to overstay our welcome. Come along, Sága darling. We have a bed to break in.”
Once alone in one of Isuldof’s guest bedrooms, Sága worked swiftly to remove her clothes, hot water already pouring into the rather grandiose bath tub in the washroom connected to their room.
“Mmm, now this is a sight I could never tire of…” Loki purred, coming up behind her and wrapping his arms around her bare middle. Pressing a kiss to her shoulder, he started pressing his growing erection into her backside, his voice deepening as he murmured, “My beautiful little valkyrie. All mine for the taking.”
“My King…” she whispered, exposing her neck to him in a submissive gesture, the sight of which sparked a wave of arousal to shoot through him. Acting on animalistic instinct alone, Loki withdrew from her only so he could use his magic to remove all his clothes. Once he was as naked as she was, he spun her around and crashed his lips to hers, the kiss more teeth and tongue than anything else.
“Ohh… my King…” she whimpered, her fingernails dragging down his sides. She managed to pull herself away from him long enough to turn the taps off, eagerly stepping into the hot water of the bath and bringing him with her.
Straddling his lap, she started worshipping him with her mouth and hands, stroking and caressing all over his body while her lips trailed from his neck all the way down his chest, lingering on his nipples. Loki could only allow himself to be ravished by her, his head thrown back, eyes half-closed, hands idly brushing through her damp hair.
“I wish we could stay like this forever…” he found himself saying. “You and I, together… like this… naked and wet…”
Her dainty hands cupped his face, and he opened his eyes fully to gaze upon her elegant beauty. Her lips were begging to be kissed. Her nipples were hard and pink and just dying for his touch. Her golden hair was sticking to her skin in places. He could gaze upon her perfection for eons and never grow tired.
“I love you.”
His heart felt fit to burst.
“Oh, my sweet Flower…” He reached out to cradle her head between his larger hands. “I love you, too.”
“If…” she hesitated.
“If what, darling?”
“If it had been your baby growing inside of me, I would have kept it.”
His heart swelled.
“Oh… my sweet Flower… why don’t we spend tonight planting my seed in your little belly?”
Her breath hitched. “Please…” She started kissing him hungrily, her hips grinding down against his lap. “Please, my King… give me a baby… I want a baby with you… I want you so much…”
“I want you too.” He steadied her movements by grabbing onto her hips, smiling softly at the sight of tears in her golden eyes. “We have all night, my beloved Sága. We can afford to take our time.”
After thoroughly washing one another, and after drying themselves off, they retreated to bed, snuggling up together under the duvet. His hands stroked her thighs, spreading her legs apart as he positioned himself above her, guiding his manhood into her slick sex. They both groaned as one, her hands coming up to grip onto his arms, sinking her nails into his flesh deep enough to leave crescent grooves.
“I want you to be mine and only mine…” he whispered softly, leaving chaste kisses against her earlobe and down her neck. “Mine. All mine.”
“Yours…” she breathed, shuddering under his ministrations.
“Mine…” Loki lifted her up and turned them both over so she was straddling him, allowing him to lay back against the pillow, watching her breasts bouncing with each thrust of her hips. “My beautiful Sága…”
“My handsome Loki…” she giggled, before tossing her head back in bliss, her hands kneading his chest.
Afterwards, with Sága curled up fast asleep in his arms, Loki allowed himself to shed a few tears, hoping that she would never, ever leave him. He wouldn’t be able to survive without her. He knew then what he wished to do: he was going to ask for her hand in marriage. And then, once he had taken his place as King of Jotunheim, he would make his sweet Sága his Queen.
The two horses pulled the cart along, heading closer towards the coast. The land around them was exposed and windswept, with the road beneath them looking worse for wear. Sága, snuggled up with Loki in the cart, allowed herself to observe their surroundings curiously, wondering what sort of people had taken up residence in such harsh and unforgiving lands.
In the near distance stood an almighty statue, with two burning blue eyes that faced the Ægir Ocean beyond. The Storm Watcher of Druskvar. Beneath it she knew was Old Town, and on the cliffs close by to that was the House of Sökkvabekkr, the residence of Lady Skaði. Her great-grandmother.
“Are you cold?” Loki murmured when she started shivering. She gave a nod, and he in turn gave a wicked grin. “Allow me to warm you up, then.”
Keeping the furs and blankets around them both, he slipped one hand into her trousers and started palming at her through her underwear. With his other hand, he reached up and started groping her breasts, while his lips found purchase on her neck, sucking on the spot he knew made her always moan.
“Loppy…” she nuzzled into him, sighing softly. “Feels so good…”
The moment was ruined by the sudden arrival of a large sea-eagle, who landed in the cart beside them, furling a large set of wings while eyeing them with clear suspicion. Sága yelped in shock, hiding behind Loki, who turned and peered down at the bird curiously.
“Isuldof did mention Skaði is the Mistress of the Wild Hunt. Perhaps this is one of her birds?” he suggested.
“Maybe.” Sága clung onto Loki’s arm, whimpering in fright when the bird jumped onto the side of the cart before taking off, the tip of one wing hitting her in the face. “Ow.”
“She will know we are coming, she is undoubtedly curious about her lost great-granddaughter.” Loki pressed a kiss to her cheek. “Are you nervous?”
“A little,” she admitted. “I never expected to find so much about myself and my family in such a short space of time. Part of me… part of me feels as if I am betraying Mama…. Angrboða… that I am betraying her by finding my birth family.”
“She is still your mother, regardless of anything else,” Loki assured her. “Just as Frigga is still my Mother. She will always be my mother. Not Hela, never Hela. Angrboða will always be your Mama, just as you will always be her daughter. And I’m sure she wouldn’t mind you finding out who you are. She would welcome it.”
“Yeah…” Sága sighed tiredly. “Is it alright if I get some sleep? I didn’t sleep well last night.”
“Oh? Did I keep you up?” He snickered.
She giggled, glancing away shyly before planting a little kiss to his lips. He urged her onto his lap, wrapping his arms around her securely, resting his chin on top of her head as she slowly started drifting off to sleep.
Sága awoke to the sound of crashing waves and the taste of salt in the air. Sitting up, rubbing at her eyes, she peered over the edge of the cart and saw that they were fast approaching an imposing building, which she knew to be Sökkvabekkr.
One of the few forests in Druskvar was the Runewood, that stretched from the outer boundaries of Sökkvabekkr all the way to the mountains beyond. She could see a few blue flowers peeking out of fallen tree trunks, and smiled as she thought of the flower she had been born from.
Waiting for them outside the grandiose building was a small welcoming party. Sága straightened her clothes out and tried to flatten down her hair, looking to Loki for reassurance. He took her hand and brought it to his lips for a kiss, never letting go of her even when the two horses guiding the cart along came to a shuddering stop.
Sága and Loki exited the cart, her legs shaking from both being sat down too long and from her nerves. She made eye contact with a tall, six-foot something Frost Giantess, who had, unusually, pure white skin interspersed with swirling patterns of light blue. Her hair was also a stark white, long and straight with a few braids woven against the sides of her head. A pair of deep blue eyes reminded her of glaciers on Jotunheim. She was… beautiful.
A few tears trickled down her face. “You look just like your mother…” she said in a heavily-accented voice. The woman took a step forward, and then another, and then Sága found herself being let go by Loki, who urged her towards who she could only assume was her great-grandmother Skaði. “Come here, little light. Come here…”
Sága ran into her arms, swallowed up whole in her embrace. She clung onto her great-grandmother’s furs, breathing in the scent of the wild. “Skaði?” she whispered tentatively.
“Yes, little light. I am your great-grandmother Skaði. I never thought I would ever see you, oh… it is a miracle from the Norns…” She squeezed Sága’s hands in her significantly larger ones, smiling through her tears. “Come, come inside, I will introduce you to the others over a mug of hot tea.”
Sitting in the drawing room of Sökkvabekkr, warm and cosy nestled alongside Skaði’s pet fox Ullr, Sága gazed around at her newfound family.
There was Skaði’s twin brother Havi, who had the same skin as his sister, except he had a braided beard that was dyed with sections of light blue. He was quiet for the most part, but there was great wisdom to behold in his eyes, and the smile he gave Sága made her feel truly accepted and at ease.
There was Kelda, Skaði’s daughter, who had grey speckled among the red of her wild, curled hair. She had eyes as green as the leaves on the trees outside, with a demeanour that spoke of her being highly disciplined and respectable. Her husband, Buri, was apparently working in Voldrune, the capital of Vanaheim. From what she could tell, Sága was certain there were marital difficulties between her grandmother and grandfather.
There was also Magda, Ashildr, and Mordred, the three main household staff. Magda had been the wet nurse to both Hreiðmarr and Bragi, who were coincidentally twins. Ashildr was a shieldmaiden and had apparently trained Sif many years ago. Mordred was in charge of the animals, which included Skírnir, a majestic white reindeer who Skaði rode during her Hunts. Sága would definitely need to pay Skírnir a visit.
“My mother was known as the Jewel of Jotunheim,” Skaði began, a wistful look upon her face. “She was coveted by the mad King Ymir, partly because of her beauty, but also because she was one of the rare ‘runts’ on Jotunheim.” She looked to Loki, who seemed surprised by such news. “You may have Æsir blood, but you are not the first small statured Jötnar. There are more than you think. My mother’s clan, the Druskvari… they were renowned for their smaller stature.”
“They were fishing folk,” Havi added, his voice deep and rumbling and just as thickly accented as his sister’s. “Our smaller stature allowed us to navigate the ice covered lakes with ease.”
“We were born on Jotunheim,” Skaði continued, setting her cup of tepid tea down on the table before her. “We were still babes-in-arms when Ymir tried to steal our mother away. Járnsaxa, the Jewel of Jotunheim… would have been his broodmare, his pet… nothing more than that. So she left. The tribe left with her.”
“They found a partition between the realms,” Havi said, reaching for his own cup of tea, taking a deep drink before setting the cup back down. “We arrived here in Druskvar, under the shadow of the Storm Watcher. We were apprehended by the native Vanir, who took mercy on us. Subsequently, we began intermingling… and when we were old enough, Skaði married Skold, whose likeness is that you see used for the Storm Watcher.”
“He was significantly older than myself,” Skaði admitted with a wry smile. “Not long after I had given birth to Kelda, he passed away. An old war wound, from the conflict between the Æsir and the Vanir.”
“Our own father passed away not long after our arrival. As homage, Járnsaxa named the ocean in his honour.”
“But surely the Vanir would have already named the ocean…” Sága asked, frowning a little. “Or didn’t they mind having it renamed to Ægir?”
“They had a name for it, of course. But once we started making maps, once we established ourselves here, the name change stuck.” Skaði looked to Loki again, who was being unusually quiet. “I was sorry to hear about the death of your father.”
“Which one?” he replied. “The one who traded me for the Casket, or the one whose actually my grandfather?”
“Both.” Skaði chuckled to herself. “I can see why you two are besotted with each other. You remind me of Hildegunn and our Bragi.”
“Where… where is Bragi?” Sága asked tentatively.
Kelda was the one to answer.
“He has taken to travelling the realms, singing his songs, reciting his poems… he is a bit of a lost soul, to be quite honest with you. I am sure one day you two will meet.” She sighed heavily. “I have not seen him for many moons. I hope he finds happiness out there.”
“He is such a shy and reserved little boy,” Skaði said with a little grin. “A lanky boy who preferred books to people.”
Loki glanced at Sága as if to say ‘sounds just like you’. Sága didn’t deign to return his look.
“He fell hard and fast for Hildegunn when the Valkyrie came visiting Vanaheim. She was… a force to be reckoned with. Headstrong. Determined. So sure of herself. But she had a weakness, and that weakness was Bragi. She broke her sacred vows when she fell pregnant with you, but… I know she would not have traded you for all the gold in Asgard. She was excited about becoming a mother…” Skaði sighed sadly. “‘Tis a pity Hela slew her in cold blood.”
“She knew the risks…” Havi added gruffly. “She was determined to be there alongside her sisters for one last fight. They all knew the risks.”
“Aye…” Skaði picked her cold tea up and finished it off. “She’s in Valhalla now. I hope she has found peace with her decisions.”
Sága hoped so, too.
Chapter 11: A Pirate's Life For Me
Skaði and Sága spend some time together
It was about a week after their arrival that Skaði offered to take them on the ferry that would take them to Valgarde, the island to the north which housed Valgarde Keep and Valgarde Prison, where all the old pirates had been imprisoned.
Sága, excited about exploring more of Vanaheim, readily agreed. Loki, unfortunately, had been called away by Heimdall, forced to return to Asgard for reasons unknown, but he promised to return promptly. Which meant Sága was going to spend some quality time bonding with her great-grandmother Skaði.
She woke up early that morning, quickly washing and dressing herself before heading downstairs, bouncing with how excited she was. Ullr, who was to come with them, was already attached to his harness, and Skaði gave Sága the leash to hold, promising the fox that once they were across the channel, he would be let free to stretch his legs.
The walk down to the Old Town passed by relatively quickly, although Sága did struggle keeping up with Skaði’s long gait. Finally, they reached the dock, and boarded the ferry, which was captained by a young man called Asmund, whose father was the local Jarl of the town. Asmund had sandy blond hair and golden skin from working under the sun for hours at a time, with weathered hands and a perchance for cursing loudly whenever the ferry hit a particularly impressive wave. Sága decided she would love to be his friend.
The ferry ride would take a few hours, and so Sága found herself at the bow of the ship, watching the approaching cliffs of Valgarde nearing them, giddy at the sensation of the ocean beneath her. Asmund joined her after a while, telling her about the northern lands where the more bloodthirsty Vanir would live. It was apparently also the home to creatures who had fled from Jotunheim and Midgard at some point or the other, the species found in those arctic areas unique to Vanaheim.
“Maybe once you’ve finished inspecting the prison, your Skaði could take you to the ice flats.” Asmund suggested.
“I’m not sure whether or not she’d deem it safe enough for me… then again… I have been to Hel and back…” Sága grinned to herself. “If she says no, I’m sure Loki would come with me.”
“Prince Loki?” Asmund queried. “As in the Trickster? As in the Hot-as-Fuck Jötunn boy who I’d willingly bend over for?”
Sága blushed bright red.
Asmund cackled gleefully. “Is he your betrothed?”
“Um… well, not officially, but…”
“But you’ve done the dirty deed?”
Asmund grinned, clasping her shoulder with his calloused hand. “No need to be shy. And no need to be worried, I’m quite happy with my partner Frey. You might meet him, actually. He works in Valgarde.”
“What does he do?”
“He works on repairing the ships. He used to go out on them, but… let’s just say, his father was a former pirate lord, and let’s just say, Frey was implemented in one of his schemes. His punishment was to stay on Valgarde indefinitely.”
“How long ago was that?” Sága asked, gripping onto the railing when a particularly nasty wave rocked the boat and almost toppled her over.
“Hmm… let’s see…” Asmund counted on his fingers. “About thirty or so years ago? But we make it work, it helps that I work on the ferry.” He smiled at the look of disbelief on her face. “Sometimes, having a family is hard.”
“So, anyway, is it true you were born from a flower?”
“Um… well …”
Valgarde was all cliffs and steep inclines, barely a flat place to be seen. The mighty Keep was positioned at the very apex of the rocky island, towering above them all. Meanwhile, the prison had been carved into the cliff side, and Sága could actually see the barred windows which showed the diminutive faces of former pirates watching the ships come and go.
“Isn’t it dangerous for them, having windows facing the ocean?” Sága asked Asmund, who gave a shrug. “I mean, surely when there’s a storm…”
“Are you concerned about the lives of rapists and murderers, little light?” Skaði interrupted.
“I suppose… no.” Sága shivered, tugging her furs around her more tightly, grateful that Ullr was pressing his warm body against her to help keep the chill away. “There’s a savage beauty to this place… I couldn’t imagine living here, though.”
“It has its merits. There’s a wonderful tavern called The Bloated Cup, I think you’ll like the meals they serve.” Asmund patted Sága’s shoulder before heading off to resume his captain duties.
As they neared the dock, Sága turned to Skaði, who seemed to be enjoying the fresh sea air. Sága found herself shivering again, bemused at that because she, having been raised in Jotunheim, should have been accustomed to such temperatures.
“Amma?” Sága asked hesitantly.
“Yes, little light?”
“I think I might be ill. I keep feeling cold.” She rubbed at her belly absentmindedly. “I don’t usually feel this affected by the cold…”
“Hm…” Skaði bent down and gently took her head in her hands. “You don’t look unwell. Do you feel well enough to explore the island?”
“Just keep Ullr close, and keep yourself wrapped up warm. Once we return to Sökkvabekkr, I can have Magda check you over. She’s something of a healer.”
“Okay. Thank you, Amma.”
Ullr didn’t require a leash on Valgarde, but he kept close to their side regardless. Sága found herself holding onto him with trembling hands, marveling at the sights around her. The dock was perhaps the only part of Valgarde that was truly flat, with most of the town leading up towards the Keep staggered on a steep incline, with steep paths connecting each section.
“Only the toughest dare live here,” Skaði commented. “It’s not very forgiving for those of a weak constitution.”
Skaði took Sága by the hand and started leading her in the direction of The Bloated Cup for some warming soup.
The interior of the tavern was warm and cosy, surprisingly enough, with a fire burning in the hearth and a bard singing filthy songs for a few copper pieces. Skaði, upon entering, was greeted with a raucous cheer from the patrons, who seemed accustomed to her presence.
“Good morning, everyone.” Skaði approached the bar, Ullr and Sága standing just behind her. “Two bowls of your homemade soup, Vorrik, and some water for Ullr.”
“Aye aye, Skaði.” Vorrik, a charming Vanir with a gap between their front teeth, immediately went about getting a bowl of water for the fox. “What about you, Skaði dear? What are you gonna have to drink this fine morning?”
“I’ll have the… hmm… the honey mead, I believe. Sága, darling, would you like some warm milk perhaps?”
Sága nodded, feeling suddenly shy as Vorrik turned their attention onto her.
“O ho ho! Hello, pretty girl.”
“Vorrik. No flirting with my great-granddaughter. She’s betrothed to the Trickster.” Skaði’s tone, while sounding playful, had a clear intent: don’t mess with her or else.
“Oh? The Trickster? Lucky him!” Vorrik went about making their drinks before scurrying off into the kitchen, promising to bring their food over once it was ready. Skaði led Sága to a table by the window, so Sága could watch people walking by, whilst the rain lashed against the glass panes.
Ullr, once he had finished his water, climbed up onto the cushioned bench next to her and rested his warm head on her lap. Sága idly ran her fingers over his skull, feeling a little bit warmer but still feeling a slight chill deep in her bones.
“This may be a personal question,” Skaði began, setting her mug down on the wooden table. “Have you and the Prince been intimate?”
“Um…” Sága blushed profusely. “Maybe…”
“When was the first time?”
“In… in Haustvald… about… a few weeks ago.”
“And ever since then, you’ve been feeling a slight chill?”
Skaði didn’t say anything more then, for Vorrik had arrived with their soup, with came with some freshly made bread slathered in rich, creamy butter. Once they had gone back to the bar, Skaði resumed what she was saying.
“You might be with child.”
Sága shook her head a little. “I can’t be. It’s too soon after-” She cut herself off.
“I… I was… um…” Sága breathed in and out slowly, trying to calm herself down. Skaði, thankfully, was patient, not pressuring her to speak up sooner. “I had to go to Midgard a while ago, with Thor. You know, the uh…”
“I know of Thor, yes.”
“Yes, well, um… we went to Midgard to take the heart of an air elemental for the Storm Giants of Nornheim. Afterwards, we… spent the night together.”
“Ah.” Skaði’s eyes twinkled. “You spent the night with a Fertility God and ended up being impregnated, didn’t you?” When Sága nodded, Skaði gave a soft chuckle. “I suppose you returned to Asgard and had Eir give you those special herbs to prevent the pregnancy from continuing. I admire that, little light.”
“You know what is best for yourself. I like that. You are not afraid to commit to a decision.” Skaði smiled warmly at her. “I have done the same before, to be honest. Long after Kelda was grown up, I had a few little love affairs. One resulted in an unwanted pregnancy, which I swiftly got rid of. I am too old for changing dirty nappies and for leaking breasts. And you are too young, unless of course…” Her smile grew. “Do you want his children?”
Sága’s mind instantly went back to their night in Vorgrul, where she begged him to impregnate her. She could feel her cheeks practically burning, and focused on her soup and bread, choking a little when Skaði whispered, “Bedding both sons of the Allfather… I’m impressed.”
Skaði cackled. “Eat your soup, little light.”
Sága scowled but did as she asked, continuing to eat her soup, her ears burning.
After their breakfast-slash-lunch, Skaði and Sága made their way up the winding, ever-increasingly-steep path, heading towards the Keep. It was there that they would find the Lord of Valgarde, Ivan, who was said to have a rather tense relationship with the Lady of Druskvar. Why Skaði deemed it appropriate to introduce him to Sága was beyond her, but she wasn’t about to give up the opportunity of learning more about her great-grandmother’s world.
Entering the Keep, Sága found herself slightly disappointed at the absence of proper architecture and decor. It seemed rather… dull. Lifeless. She expected at least a few colourful banners, if nothing else.
What she did find, however, was a throne made entirely out of skulls. Upon which sat a dark, brooding man who glowered at Skaði in disdain as they started approaching him.
“How can you be comfortable sitting in a chair like that?” Sága asked Skaði quietly, earning a muffled laugh from her great-grandmother.
“He has an equally as hard ass.”
Sága forced herself not to giggle.
“Lord Ivan,” Skaði announced loudly, her voice echoing across the hall. “This is my great-granddaughter Sága.”
“Hmmph. So, she is real, then? I suppose I should apologise for being annoyed with you for delaying our meeting by a week!” Ivan stood up, pushing himself away from the skull throne. And then, much to Sága’s absolute surprise, he strode towards Skaði and pulled her down into an incredibly passionate kiss.
Sága looked down at Ullr, who seemed equally as embarrassed as she was.
“Uh…” Sága coughed awkwardly. “Amma?”
“Mm?” Skaði broke away from Ivan, looking down at Sága curiously. “Yes, little light?”
“I thought… uh… you two are…”
Ivan looked between Skaði and Sága, brow furrowed. “She’s not very articulate, is she?”
“Hey!” Sága rounded on him, irritated by his derision of her. “I’ve just witnessed you assault my Amma with your tongue, give a girl a chance to recover her sensibilities!”
Ivan looked to Skaði before bursting out into loud laughter, matched by Skaði’s own laughter. Sága bristled, bemused at being mocked.
“Oh, my sweet Spring child…” Skaði ruffled her hair affectionately. “Why don’t you and Ullr go visit the Prison? I believe Asmund will be waiting outside for you, he’ll be your guide. I have some important missives to discuss with Ivan.”
“Sure.” Sága made a quick escape, shuddering at the sound of them kissing, grimacing when she heard moaning. She and Ullr raced down the pathway, almost crashing into Asmund in the process.
“Escaping the lovers?” Asmund asked.
“Mm!” Sága steadied herself using Asmund as support. “Wait-” She doubled over, vomiting on the side of the path, bringing up the soup and bread she’d had for her dinner earlier in the day.
“Ouch… you alright?” Asmund rubbed her back, frowning when she started shivering profusely. “Hey… uh… look, my Frey knows a little bit of healing, come with me, he’ll make you something so you’ll feel better.”
Sága could only nod, clutching at her stomach in discomfort.
Frey was a spritely man who instantly made Sága feel at ease, ushering her into the nearest armchair by the fire, boiling hot water for some healing tea he had imported from the mainland. Once she had finished her tea, she felt right as rain, although she was dismayed at having missed out on the opportunity to explore the prison.
“We can still go,” Asmund suggested, sensing her disappointment. “Frey knows the wardens well.”
“And most of the prisoners,” Frey added teasingly.
“Mm, okay.” Sága stood up. “Thank you for the tea, by the way. I don’t know… I don’t know why I’m feeling this way.”
“Of course you don’t.” Frey leaned forward, a grin stretching across his lips. “You’re with child. I recognise the symptoms of those of a more Vanir inclination. You’ve bedded a Jötnar, it causes the mother to feel a chill deep inside them. We’re used to it, growing up in Druskvar.”
“Oh.” She blinked rapidly. And then, before she knew it, she’d burst into tears. “I’m having a baby…”
“Congratulations.” Frey rubbed her back soothingly. “Now, let’s go see some pirates!”
Loki paced the room frantically, hands behind his back, growing more and more frustrated the longer he was made to wait. Once the door swung open, he turned sharply, scowling when Thor entered followed by a rather upset looking Sif.
“Where’s Mother?” he demanded.
“Hello to you too, brother.” Thor sighed wearily. “She’s otherwise occupied. I would advise… leaving her be for the time being. She’s just received some troubling news.”
“What sort of news? Is it about Sága?”
Thor frowned a little. “No…? It’s about the Nine Realms.”
“There is a sickness in the elements,” Sif explained, tears in her eyes. “Although it is none of my concern, since I will no longer be Queen.”
“Thor ended the betrothal.” Sif glared at Thor, who didn’t look at her, looking rather shameful and guilty. “Excuse me.”
As soon as she ran off, Loki rounded on a sheepish Thor. “Why did you end the betrothal?”
“Because… I cannot in my right mind marry Sif when I…”
“When you what?”
“When I love another.”
Loki had a sneaking suspicion he knew exactly who his brother was in love with.
Frey introduced them to his father, a charming silver haired man with a swagger to his gait even when imprisoned in a small cell. He was grizzled and missing a few teeth, but Captain Bjarni Tusktooth, as he was known on the Ægir Ocean, was a very charismatic man. Sága was almost reminded of Loki when she looked at him, the thought making her smile despite her current ailment.
“Father, this is Asmund’s new friend Sága. She’s Skaði’s great-granddaughter.” Frey said.
“Ah! You have the look of your lady mother…” Bjarni eyed her hungrily, and suddenly Sága was reminded of the fact that he was a dangerous man, who had undoubtedly caused much distress to those innocent lives he had tormented. She decided that she didn’t want to compare him to Loki any longer. “She was a beauty…”
“So I’ve been told.” Sága gripped onto Ullr’s leash tight, having been made to leash him before entering the prison. The fox nudged against her leg reassuringly, putting her more at ease. “So, how does it feel being imprisoned?”
“Oh, a barrel of laughs!” Bjarni cackled, sounding slightly manic.
“Father…” Frey warned. “Be nice to her. She’s carrying the Trickster God’s child.”
Bjarni’s eyes lit up.
“Ah! I always did like ‘em pregnant!”
“Okay, I think we’ve seen enough.” Asmund quickly ushered Sága away from the outside of Bjarni’s cell, while Frey started scolding his lustful father.
Just as they were about to leave, Bjarni spoke up, “Once I get out, I’ll find you an’ we can have some fun, yeah lassie!”
“C’mon…” Asmund steered her away before she could do something she’d regret. As soon as they were out of the prison, she threw up, not just from her ailment but from the thought of him breaking out of his cell and finding her and taking her away. The thought made her shudder in revulsion.
Skaði was coming down the path at that exact moment, but her footsteps quickened when she saw the state Sága was in. “What’s happened?”
“She spoke with Bjarni.”
Skaði didn’t seem pleased to hear that. “Why would you introduce her to that madman? Sága, little light, are you well?”
“I think she’s pregnant,” Asmund whispered, while Sága continued throwing up the contents of her stomach.
“I thought as much. Come along, little light, we’ll get you back to Sökkvabekkr so Magda can have a proper look at you. Thank you for looking after her, Asmund.”
“It was my pleasure. Truly.”
Skaði carried Sága down the winding paths, waiting only half an hour for the next ferry to arrive.
“I miss Loki…” Sága whispered, her arms wrapped around Ullr’s furry neck.
“I know you do.”
They were minutes away from boarding the ferry when the sound of an alarm blared out from the prison. Sága looked around, frowning in confusion as the surrounding crowd started rushing about like headless chickens. “Amma?”
“Sága, stay by my side.” Skaði held her close, glancing around suspiciously.
“What does that sound mean?”
“It means that there’s trouble at the prison.” She looked down at a worried Sága and whispered, “I think Ivan has finally decided to betray me.”
“What? But I thought…”
“He wants to become my husband, so he can have power in Druskvar.” Skaði backed them towards the ferry, Ullr growling when the sound of raised voices reached them. “I refused him, of course. This is his way of punishing me. Releasing the prisoners. Bastard.”
Sága’s blood ran cold.
“Amma…” She whimpered when an arrow struck the side of the ferry right next to them. Sága cried out in shock when a barrage of arrows darkened the sky momentarily. “Amma!”
Sága was pushed unceremoniously into the icy cold sea, as Skaði’s body was littered with arrows. The last thing Sága saw before she was pulled away from the dock was the sight of her great-grandmother collapsing to her knees, blood pooling around her.
Chapter 12: Lost Light
Sága makes a decision.
Loki had returned to Sökkvabekkr, tired and annoyed at having to fix another one of his brother’s problems, expecting Sága to be waiting for him. Unfortunately, what he found instead was a distraught Kelda, who told him about a riot happening on Valgarde a few days ago.
Skaði had been mortally wounded. Sága was missing.
Loki seethed. If anything happened to his Sága… he’d destroy the Nine Realms…
He would find her. Of that he was certain.
The tide was too strong for her to fight against. She could hear Ullr’s distant barking. She could see Skaði slowly bleeding out. And then… she was dragged deep beneath the waves…
Choking on sea water, fighting against the tide uselessly, Sága knew she was going to die. Her baby was going to die. No… No!
She focused on reaching the surface. She used all her strength to battle her way there, until finally, her head broke the surface of the water. Her lungs were screaming. Her muscles were shaking and aching. She turned around, trying to find the dock, but it was too far away. She could barely make it out.
How long had she been underwater?
She closed her eyes and focused on her magic, managing to manipulate the water just enough to stop her from freezing to death in the rough sea. She didn’t know whether or not it would be safe for her to return to Valgarde, but her great-grandmother was there… and Asmund… and Frey… and Ullr. She couldn’t just abandon them. That wasn’t what she had been taught to do.
Thinking of Angrboða, thinking of Jörð, thinking of Loki, Sága concentrated on swimming back towards Valgarde. She knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but she had to do something. She couldn’t just leave them to die.
“I received… I received word from Valgarde…”
Loki stopped pacing, looking at a distraught Kelda impatiently. “Yes?”
“There’s… there’s… there’s no easy way of saying this.” Kelda let out a sob. “Sága has been captured by Captain Tusktooth. He’s going to marry her tomorrow evening. He’s… he’s going to make her his Pirate Queen.”
Loki’s blood boiled.
She should have stayed in the ocean.
She should have tried to swim her way back to Druskvar.
She was such a fool.
Here she was, sitting on the uncomfortable skull throne, ankles clasped in manacles so she wouldn’t run off. And tomorrow night, she was going to be made to marry Bjarni. Yeuch.
Nevermind the fact she was pregnant with Prince Loki’s child. Nevermind that small detail. It seemed Bjarni was intent on using her child as a bargaining tool, no doubt to win the support of the more fickle Vanir so his pirating empire could commence.
She really hated pirates.
She’d received no word on Skaði or Asmund and Frey. She hoped they were safe. She hoped her Amma was still alive. She could only hope and pray that she was.
It was the morning of the day of her supposed wedding. Sága, peeking out of the room she’d been left in, observed a few ships coming in to dock. She briefly wondered if Loki had received word of her predicament. She hoped so.
A shudder of revulsion traveled through her.
He gave a cackle of amusement as he stepped into the room and wrapped his arms around her, holding her uncomfortably close, so close in fact that she could feel his erection poking into her behind. She tried not to grimace.
“I cannot wait for you to be mine…” he said in a sing-song voice. “‘Tis a pity little Frey won’t be there… blasted boy hasn’t the heart for any of this.”
“You must be so proud,” Sága drawled.
Bjarni just laughed again.
“You’re quite the funny little lassie, aren’t you?” He pinched her cheek in what was undoubtedly meant to be a ‘teasing’ gesture, but ended up leaving a bruise instead. “I’ll see you later, at midnight.” He placed a scratchy kiss on her hand before leaving her alone.
Sága sighed, weary of him and his crazed antics already, and it wasn’t even nine in the morning yet! She sat down on the cot and rubbed her belly, hoping that her short jaunt in the ocean hadn’t caused any harm to the baby.
“I’ll get us out of here, little one. I just need to regain some of my strength first…”
Sága closed her eyes briefly, focusing on the elements surrounding her. She tried to tap into them, but found herself having difficulty. Frowning, she concentrated on one particular aspect, only for it to slip out of her grasp like sand.
Something was wrong with the elements. It hadn’t been like that during her adventure in the ocean. Something must have happened in the few days between her seaside jaunt and now. But what?
Her thoughts immediately turned to Jörð. What if…?
It was imperative she returned to Jotunheim as soon as possible. Forgetting about her ailment, Sága rose to her feet and opened the door to the room she was in. Glancing both ways, she frowned when she saw that there was nobody standing guard. Deciding to risk taking a chance, she slipped out of the door and down the spiralling corridor, finding herself becoming more and more nauseous the longer she travelled down the winding, spiralling staircase that would hopefully lead to her freedom.
She collided with a tall figure, almost falling onto her rear before being grabbed by them. She made to speak, only for the words to die on the tip of her tongue. “Loki!”
“Sága…” Loki placed his daggers back into their sheaths so he could envelop her in a suffocating embrace. “I was trying to find you…”
“You found me.” She wrapped her arms around him and started crying softly. “He wanted to marry me, he’s horrible! Is he still alive?”
“Not for much longer.”
“Wait-” She stopped him before he could resume climbing the stairs. “What about Skaði?”
“She’s being taken care of by… Frey?”
“She’s recovering well.” Loki grabbed her around the waist and pulled her into a kiss. “If anything had happened to you- nothing did happen to you? Did he touch you-”
“No.” She assured him, smiling when he breathed out in relief.
“If he had done anything to you… I would have torn the Nine Realms asunder…”
Was it supposed to be arousing when the man you loved spoke of wreaking havoc across the Nine Realms to save you? Probably not, but she didn’t care. She felt a surge of warmth rush over her, pulling him towards her as she started working on his trousers.
She started sloppily kissing him, moaning breathlessly when he gave in to her whims, pulling her leggings down and pushing her dress up a little too eagerly.
“You’d do anything for me?” she whispered, panting heavily when his wandering fingers started pushing inside of her, pumping steadily.
“I would do anything for you, yes…” he hissed, guiding her down onto one of the steps, spreading her legs wide apart so he could start lapping at her wetness.
Sága bit on her hand to muffle herself, her other hand gripping onto his dark hair roughly, as her hips started grinding into him. Perhaps it was because of her ailment, perhaps it was because she had missed him, perhaps it was the thought of being caught by dangerous people, or perhaps all three- but Sága found herself succumbing to him quicker than she ever had before, the intensity of her climax shaking her limbs and rendering her momentarily speechless.
Loki made quick work of freeing his hard manhood from the confines of his trousers, licking his wet lips like a lustful cat, eyeing her with dark, burning eyes that made her heart rate spike. He guided himself into her and pushed himself all the way to the hilt, grunting in satisfaction when she clenched around him.
“Loki…” she mumbled, weakly clawing at his arms, tears rushing to her beautiful golden eyes. “If you were a pirate, I’d happily be your Queen.”
He grinned wickedly, and then started thrusting hard and fast into her, holding onto the steps to support himself, as her legs wrapped securely around his waist, her head tilted back to expose her pretty neck, her mouth hanging open as she gasped and moaned out his name over and over again like the devoted follower she was.
“Loki…” She pulled herself up, using his arms to hoist herself into a better position so she could press sweet kisses down his neck and along his jawline. “Touch my belly…”
He obliged, pushing his hand under her dress and resting it on her belly. He could sense something… something that made him gasp in delight.
“Our baby…” he could feel their magical aura already, and knew that their child was going to be just as powerful as they were. He felt himself start to tear up, but he made no effort to stop himself from crying, capturing his beloved’s lips with his own as he gave a final thrust before spilling his seed deep within her. She joined him in their shared bliss moments later, quivering and moaning softly, kissing away his tears.
When they started hearing noises coming from above, they hastily got dressed and started running on up, holding onto each other’s hand. They would have liked to enjoy the moment a little bit longer, but there were still pirates on the loose, including the crazed Captain Tusktooth.
However, once they reached the entrance of the prison, they discovered that Lord Ivan had already dealt with the prisoners - which actually involved executing the whole lot of them mercilessly - and was on his knees begging for a heavily bandaged Skaði to believe him when he said he hadn’t had anything to do with the breakout.
Skaði spat on him.
“Amma!” Sága cried out, dragging Loki along with her as she rushed towards her great-grandmother. “You’re alive!”
“And well!” Skaði enveloped her in a hug, and then forced Loki into her arms much to his chagrin. “At least this will be an adventure to tell the little one.”
A passing seabird released its waste all over Loki’s head.
That night, safe and sound in their shared chambers in Sökkvabekkr, Loki rested his head on Sága’s little belly and closed his eyes, smiling to himself when he felt their aura reaching out to probe his own.
“They must have been conceived in Haustvald,” he murmured, with Sága murmuring her agreement. He shifted slightly, adjusting his position, keeping one hand intertwined with hers, the other stroking her soft skin, relishing in the feel of her, in her warmth, in her own powerful aura.
“Why were you summoned back to Asgard?” Sága asked after a while, sounding rather sleepy. She had long given up on reading one of the books she had borrowed from the library located in Sökkvabekkr, instead she had decided to simply pass the time brushing her fingers through Loki’s dark tresses.
“My mother had news pertaining to a disturbance of sorts happening across the Nine. Something involving the elements.” He let out a long breath. “Thor broke off the betrothal with Sif.”
Loki didn’t say anything.
“I think he’s in love with you.”
“Oh.” Sága paused before saying, “That’s nice, I suppose. But a fool’s errand on his behalf. I have no intention of leaving you for him.”
Loki smiled to himself. “Good.”
They fell into a comfortable silence, Loki’s head still cushioned on her belly, Sága’s fingers still brushing through his unruly locks. When she started shivering, Loki pulled the duvet around her and climbed up the bed so he could take her into his arms, kissing her tenderly in the process.
“You said something about the elements…”
“I sensed something amiss with them earlier, when I tried to draw on them. I’m worried about Jörð.”
“In the morning, I can call on Heimdall to send us to Jotunheim.” Loki suggested.
“Would you? I’m worried that her ordeal with Hela has wounded her…” Sága nuzzled into him, letting out a shaky breath. “Besides, I think it’s high time you claimed what is rightfully yours.”
“Mmm…” Loki smirked, delighting in the way she started stroking him, her lips caressing him, her breath hot against his flushed skin. “We will need to marry soon, also.”
“Mmm.” Sága started descending down his body, giggling at the noise he made when her lips wrapped around the head of his cock.
“Sága…” Loki bit down on his bottom lip, wrapping her hair around his fist to guide her along. She was ever so skilled with her mouth, and part of him briefly wondered if she had used her mouth on his brother. The thought forced him to sit up, startling Sága.
He pulled her towards him and kissed her possessively, groping her breasts with a feverish need to let her know that she was his and no-one else’s. All his.
He had no right being jealous of the thought of her being with his brother. He had, after all, bedded Fandral around the same time, he couldn’t exactly talk, could he? But the fact that it was Thor… the fact that his brother loved her… the fact that she had actually been pregnant with his child… it made him incredibly insecure.
“Mine…” he hissed. “Mine…”
“Yours…” she breathed. “Yours…”
Klaustur had changed little during their absence. Except for the Lavasøyle, which seemed much less powerful than it had done before their departure.
Bundled up in a dark blue fur cloak, Sága shivered as she approached Jörð’s home, fearing the worst. She felt Loki squeeze her hand and found herself grateful for him being there for her. “I’m scared,” she whispered.
“I’m here, there’s no need to be scared.”
She took a deep breath before knocking on the door.
There was no response.
Her anxiety began to grow.
She knocked again.
“Jörð? It’s me, Sága.”
She tried the door. It was unlocked.
Stepping inside, she let out a shocked gasp of horror at the sight she was confronted with. She had to abruptly turn and throw up outside, hands shaking violently as she tried and failed to get the image of what she had seen out of her head.
The decomposed body of Jörð. Covered in vines and roots and fungi. How long had she been gone? Had she been sick? Sága should have been here for her, instead of wasting her time on herself. Her selfishness had killed Jörð.
Jörð was dead. And it was all her fault.
“We knew she was struggling after the torment Hela put her through.” Irma was close to tears. “I never realised… we should have made sure she was fine.”
“This isn’t your fault, Flower,” Angrboða assured her. “Sometimes, a sickness can claim those we love so quickly we don’t have time to help them or say goodbye. But remember, she loved you just as much as you loved her.”
Sága shook her head, keeping her head lowered so they wouldn’t be able to look at her, so she wouldn’t have to see their wasted pity. They shouldn’t feel sorry for her. It was her fault. Her fault.
Utgard seemed colder than usual, or maybe it was because of her ailment. She just wanted to be alone, so she excused herself from the Mothers and made her way to the chambers she had slept in during Hela’s short stint as Queen of Jotunheim. In the interim period, the Mothers had acted as Council, ruling Jotunheim in the absence of a sovereign. No doubt the Council would remain even with the appointment of a new royal to the throne.
She never got to tell Jörð about her baby. She never got to say a proper farewell to her. She never got to thank her for everything. Sighing, she bent down to pick Bygul up, the wild cat nuzzling his soft, furry head against her cheek to offer her some comfort, of which she knew she didn’t deserve. She should have… she should have been there for her.
Býleistr accosted her on her way back to her chambers, leaning over her like an imposing block of ice. “I heard a little rumour about you, Flower,” he commented.
He didn’t seem to care about her despondent response. “I hear my half-brother impregnated you. I suppose you’ll be my Queen soon.” He leaned further down and pressed his lips against her ear. “It will be good to watch you grow large with child.”
She almost shuddered, but she felt too numb to properly react to his uncomfortable words. So, instead, she brushed past him, unaware that Loki had been watching the interaction from the shadows. As soon as she had turned the corner and left, Loki sidled up to his larger half-brother and proceeded to stab him in the gut with one of his daggers.
“Don’t speak to her like that if you value your organs,” he hissed, eyes flashing crimson.
Býleistr grunted in discomfort, nodding to say he understood.
“Good. I’m glad we have an understanding.” He removed his dagger and wiped it clean on Býleistr’s loincloth. “Enjoy the rest of your day, brother.”
Loki hurried to the chambers he shared with Sága, unnerved when he found the door wide open. “Sága?” He entered the room and searched around for her frantically. “Sága? Where are you?” His eyes caught sight of a note left on her pillow.
Gone to Muspelheim. Need heart of a fire elemental for the Lavasøyle. Don’t follow, not good for Jötnar.
Loki crumpled the note up.
Chapter 13: Into The Shadows
What happened on Muspelheim...
For the first time in what felt like forever, Sága finally felt warm.
She had never been to Muspelheim before, but she knew all too well that it was a dangerous, hostile place, somewhere where she should have come with backup. She was, however, suffering from two things: grief and guilt. And when those two came together, it was a lethal combination.
It had been fortunate she had managed to secure one of Jörð’s tokens when nobody was looking. Jörð had a stone - known as the Norn Stone - which could take the wielder to one of the other realms. It had to take time to charge up, but apart from that, it was a very useful tool.
And it would be even more useful for bringing the heart of a fire elemental back to Klaustur.
Wearing light clothes, wiping the sweat from her brow, Sága surveyed the landscape before her. It was harsh and rocky, with volcanoes in the distance spewing forth lava and thick, black clouds of smoke. The ground beneath her trembled every once and awhile, the seismic activity caused by the eruptions taking place nearby.
She had no idea where she was going, but she knew she had to find a fire elemental. If not, then Klaustur would suffer. And she wouldn’t let Jörð’s people down.
Scrambling down the cliff, Sága started tracking a few open vents, keeping an eye on them as she followed a seemingly natural path which led in the direction of a very far away obsidian tower. She wondered if that was where Surtur lived. She hoped not.
The natives of Muspelheim weren’t exactly welcoming. Although they had been cordial enough at the Congress, when on their home terrain, they would not hesitate to burn her to a crisp. So it would do her well to avoid the natives. The sooner she found a fire elemental, the better.
It felt like days had passed. She was dehydrated and exhausted and nauseous and dying of thirst, but she continued onwards, taking only meagre sips from the gourd she had brought with her, nibbling only on a few of the dry crackers she had stashed away, unwilling to use all her rations up at once. She didn’t know how long the search would go on for, after all. She could be here for a while.
She took a short rest behind a large boulder, sheltering herself from the worst of the strengthening winds. She closed her eyes, rubbing her hands over her sore legs, feeling utterly miserable and tired but knowing that she deserved to suffer. She should have been there for Jörð.
The ground began to quake violently all of a sudden, startling Sága so much she sprang to her feet, eyes going wide as something large and burning burst forth from the ground, showering her in a thick layer of dirt.
It wasn’t a fire elemental.
It was a giant magma worm.
She dreamed of her baby in her arms, dark haired and golden eyed, smiling at her with so much love and trust. She was so happy, so happy…
But then her baby turned to ashes in her arms.
“No!” she wailed. “No! No! NO!”
“This is your fault,” came the hate-filled voice of Loki, who was twisted and deformed by the darkness surrounding him. “If you hadn’t succumbed to your pathetic emotions, he would still be alive. You killed our baby!”
“No! I didn’t mean to! I didn’t -I have to - it’s my fault! She’s dead because of me! They need my help! I don’t know what else to do!” Sága collapsed to the ground, beating at it with her fists until they were bruised and bloodied. “I should have come home sooner, I should have been there for her!”
“You failed us all…” came the warped voice of her Mama. “You failed us… all…”
“No! Mama! Mama, please! Please! I want to go home! I want to go home, I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” She screamed as loud as she could, deafening herself. “Mama! Loppy! Please… Please… Help me!”
“Sága…” a soft, gentle voice whispered. A golden pair of wings blinded her momentarily, and then once she regained her vision, her breath was taken away by the glorious image of a powerful winged woman, with golden hair and brilliant golden eyes, with a smile that melted all the fears and anxieties brewing within her. “Oh, my sweet Sága… Jörð’s passing was inevitable. She would not wish to have you see her in her final days, she had succumbed to her illness, she was not a well woman.”
“I don’t understand… what did she get sick with?”
“She was old, my darling. She was old and tired, and sometimes… people know when they are ready for Valhalla.” The woman extended a golden glowing hand, which Sága accepted, finding herself being pulled up into her arms.
“Mother…” she whispered, hardly daring to believe her own words. “Is it really you?”
“It is,” said Hildegunn the Lightbringer.
“Were you there in Hel? Were you there when Odin made me a Valkyrie?”
“I was. And I was so proud of you. I still am. You have made me very proud.” Hildegunn smiled through the tears welling in her golden eyes. “You’re going to have a little baby boy. I’m so pleased for you. Look after him.”
“I will, I promise.”
Hildegunn took Sága’s head in her hands, brushing away her daughter’s tears with her thumbs. “Be brave, little light. Be brave for me, for you, but most of all, be brave for your little boy. I love you with all my heart.”
“I love you too, Mother…” Sága reached out and touched her face, her breath hitching. “You look so much like me…”
Hildegunn smiled wider, pressing a kiss to Sága’s hand. “You are an extraordinary woman, Sága. Never forget that. Never forget who you are. Always be kind, but never let people push you around. Be cruel when you have to be, ensure you earn the respect you deserve.” Hildegunn kissed her brow. “And most of all, be happy.”
Sága embraced her mother. “I promise, Mother. I promise.”
Moments before the magma worm could strike her down, a blast of light impacted the ground close by. Sága didn’t have time to look, too focused on rolling behind the boulder she had been behind earlier, curling herself up to protect herself as much as possible as the worm belched out a stream of hot lava-like substance that started melting the boulder.
Sága scurried away from the boulder, shrieking when the worm lunged towards her like a snake. She heard the sound of thunder, then noticed that the worm had become distracted by someone else. Thor.
She skidded to a halt, before finding herself being grabbed from behind, a hand covering her mouth to muffle the scream she gave.
She flung herself around, bursting into tears when she realised who it was.
“Loki…” she whimpered.
He shrugged her off impatiently.
“Get away. I need to clean up your mess.”
Sága watched, feeling hurt and upset when he ran towards the worm and started battling it alongside his brother. Sága sat down heavily, burying her head in her hands, completely unaware of the person creeping up behind her until it was too late.
Her scream distracted the brothers long enough for the magma worm to unleash a devastating belch upon them.
“SÁGA!” Thor bellowed. Loki, meanwhile, could only watch in silence as his beloved was dragged away in chains by a cloaked figure.
“Go after her!” Thor shouted at Loki. “I’ll deal with the beast!”
Loki didn’t hesitate. He shifted into the form of an eagle, taking to the skies as he furiously beat his wings to keep up with the surprisingly fast captor. He dived down and landed in front of them, shifting back to his regular form, daggers drawn, eyes burning crimson.
The cloaked figure stopped.
“Let her go.”
“No.” The cloaked figure removed their hood, revealing the scarred, rather deformed face of a Dark Elf. “I don’t think I will.”
Loki stepped forward, but at that exact moment, the Dark Elf clicked their fingers. Instantly, both the Elf and Sága vanished.
Loki stared at the space where they had been, not moving even when Thor came charging towards him.
“Where is she? I thought I told you to go after her! Loki!”
“She’s gone… a Dark Elf… took her.”
“A Dark Elf… why would a Dark Elf want her?”
“I don’t know!” Loki shouted all of a sudden. “But I swear to you, I am going to destroy the Nine Realms if they so much as touch the hairs on her head.”
“I’m going to Svartalfheim. Don’t try to stop me.”
“I wasn’t going to.” Thor said grimly. “I’m coming with you.”
She was washed and bathed in scented oils, her hair scrubbed clean until it glistened and gleamed. She was dressed in a loose-fitting silky white robe, which showed off the barely visible bump she now carried around with her. Rings from Niðavellir were placed on her fingers, flowers from Vanaheim were braided in her hair. Make-up from Midgard was delicately placed onto her features to enhance them, while her shoes came from Alfheim. She was dressed as the Queen she would soon become, and it suited her well.
If she didn’t look out the window, she could pretend she was somewhere other than Svartalfheim, with its swamps and forests and perpetual civil war. If she closed her eyes she could pretend she was about to marry Loki, and not Malekith the Accursed. Maybe this was all a terrible dream and she would wake up safe and sound in Loki’s arms.
A fool’s hope.
It had been a plot, from what she had been able to decipher. During the Congress, she had been scouted out by Terrana, who had secretly been working for Malekith all along. He wanted a Queen to rule Svartalfheim with, he wanted a Queen who would help build up his relations with other realms. He was the one who decided to poison Jörð and thus taint the elements themselves, forcing Sága, in her guilt-riddled state, to come to Muspelheim alone, where one of his agents would be ready and waiting.
It was more than simple enough for them to bind her to the realm, using a specially made collar from Asgard which had once been used to silence Lorelei, the sister of Amora the Enchantress. It rendered Sága mute, and meant she couldn’t access her magic, so she was useless in a fight. She was a prisoner. And soon, she would also be a Queen.
It didn’t make sense why they would poison Jörð, until she discovered that the Dark Elves had been sabotaging the pillars for months. Starting with Bubesheim, then Vorgrul, then Klaustur… they had been manipulating events from the beginning. But why go to all this effort just so Malekith to claim her as his Queen? Why did he want her in particular?
Because of her heritage.
Because she was of Vanaheim and Asgard and Jotunheim. Because she was of three realms, three realms, two of which were ruled by men who were in love with her. Malekith wanted to lure the brothers to his newly acquired palace home, so he could have them executed. And then…
He would become the Allfather of the Nine Realms.
Chapter 14: Break The Chain
How can Sága keep her and her unborn son safe from Malekith?
trigger: implied/referenced infanticide
News traveled fast across the Nine Realms. Malekith the Accursed had taken the crown from the recently assassinated Queen Alfyse. He now resided in the Eastern Spires, where he would soon be marrying Lady Sága, his recently acquired bounty.
He was to wait until after the birth of the bastard growing inside of her, however. For he wanted to start his wedding by drowning the runt of the Trickster God to remind his soon-to-be wife that she belonged to him and only him, and the only children she would raise would be the ones he planted in her womb himself.
Until then… she was little more than a glorified prisoner.
Her assigned wardens were two rather shy and unappealing servants, who Sága knew not to trust within an inch of her life. She acted polite enough around them, she allowed them to dress her and serve her dinner, but she never dared confide in them - not that she could vocally, at least, since she had been rendered mute by the collar.
She spent most of her time reading, while dreading the day her baby was born. If she could keep him safe within her womb forever and ever, she would do so in a heartbeat. But she couldn’t stop the inevitable. She had to be careful. She had to find a way of getting her and her baby to safety.
She had long since given up hope of being ‘rescued’. She had long ago accepted that it was just her and her baby from now on. Once she had somehow escaped from this nightmare, she would take them back to Jotunheim, maybe they could live with Angrboða in her hut in the Járnviðr? And then, at the end of the day, it would be the three of them and no-one else.
No-one else cared, anyway.
Months of being mute.
Months of her belly swelling rounder with child.
Months of nightmares.
Months of dreading the day her baby was born.
In all that time, however, she hadn’t been wallowing away in self-pity. She didn’t need her powers, she didn’t need her voice, not when she still had her mind. Not when she could read, not when she could learn, not when she could understand the layout of the Eastern Spires and find out all the secret paths that led to her freedom.
She had to be careful. She had to be patient. She had to choose her moment.
On the day her waters broke, she was offered a rare glimpse of the outside world. An army was converging on the Eastern Spires, banners from across the other realms flying high in the air. She thought nothing of it, of course, it didn’t concern her in the least. She had bigger things to worry about. Like the contractions she was experiencing, like the pain she was enduring, like the plan she had to set in motion.
Even in the throes of her labour pains, Sága managed to maintain her calm, grateful that the collar kept her screams of agony silent. She headed towards the library, pretending she wasn’t experiencing any discomfort, and then when she knew she was alone (for her two guards would always abandon her as soon as she entered the library) she slipped off down a dingy corridor and followed the memorised path down, down, down into the depths of the palace.
It was there that she came upon the treasury. It was there that she found the items that had been removed from her person all those months ago.
It was also the place where she would subsequently give birth to her son.
It had been months.
Months of planning.
Months of forcing himself to be patient.
But the King of Jotunheim was not a patient man, and it took the entire power of the Mothers to prevent him from destroying the Nine Realms in his wrathful state of mind.
Loki was not a patient man. Not when his beloved and his child were on Svartalfheim. Not when his son was to be killed as soon as he was born. Not when his beloved was to be made to marry that Dark Elf bastard.
They knew it was a trap, so they had to gather allies. Thor garnered support from Vanaheim, Loki from Alfheim and Niðavellir, the Mothers helped negotiate a truce with Muspelheim to say the Dark Elves had broken their own alliance with the fire realm when they kidnapped Sága.
And so here they were, about to bring Malekith the Accursed’s reign to an end.
Disguised as a Dark Elf servant he had slit the throat of, with Thor under his illusion as the second, the brothers ventured deep into the heart of the palace while the battle raged on, the duplicates Loki had set in place hopefully buying them enough time to find Sága and get her out before Malekith realised they weren’t there.
They found themselves exploring most of the palace frantically, unable to find any trace of her location. So they ventured deeper, going down into the depths, hoping and praying she was unharmed.
The sound of crying caught their attention.
“Sága…” Loki whispered. Thor couldn’t stop him in time, watching as his brother burst into the treasury, skidding to a halt when he saw Malekith the Accursed holding up a tiny blue baby. At his feet lay the still form of his beloved Sága.
He was too late.
When Sága had been a little girl, she had always dreamed of one day marrying Loptr. She used to play dress up with him, on those occasions when Angrboða, Hati, and Sköll would be out hunting, leaving them alone in the cosy hut. They would dress up in the fine clothes Angrboða had once worn, and clothes they had found in an old chest that she kept under her floorboards, ones more befitting children of their size.
“Loppy!” Sága would squeal, adjusting the knitted hat on her head. “We soh-mates!”
“Yeah!” Loptr laughed, eyes bright, cheeks full, his hands finding hers to pull her into an embrace. “Best friends forever, yeah?”
He pressed a quick kiss to her pouting lips, giggling giddily when she gasped in surprise. “Oops!” he teased, laughing when she started tackling him, squealing like a little pig. “I’m your first kiss!”
“I’m yours!” Sága cheered.
“All yours.” Loptr smiled softly. “My Flower…”
She wasn’t waking up.
Nothing would wake her up. Not even the full healing power of the Mothers, Frigga, Eir, and specialised healers from across the Nine Realms would break her from her slumber.
It had been weeks since they had rescued her from Malekith the Accursed.
Weeks since she had given birth to their baby.
Since Loki had thought his beloved to be truly lost to him.
But she was here, she was alive. She just needed to wake up! If not for him, then for the baby, for little Nari! He needed her, he needed his mother more than he needed his useless father. Loki needed her. He needed his Flower back…
It was the day of the wedding. The day she had been dreading. The hint of her baby bump remained, a reminder that her son was no longer safe. Here she was, dressed to the nines, tears pouring down her cheeks as she silently pleaded for a miracle.
“My my…” Malekith whispered, grasping her hands in his ice-cold hands. Unlike Loki’s, which were equally as cold, Malekith’s touch made her want to throw up. He was repulsive. A repulsive, manipulative, cruel son of a bitch. “You look like a true Queen.”
He idly fingered the collar still locked around her throat. She swallowed thickly, the sensation of his long fingernails grazing her skin unnerving her. “I cannot wait to break you in… tame you to be my obedient little pet…”
She wanted to scream. She wanted to shout. She wanted to tell him that she would never be his obedient little pet, not while there was breath still in her body. But she couldn’t. She couldn’t do anything. He had found her, alone and in agony in the treasury, he had been there when her baby had entered the world. She didn’t even get to hold him. She didn’t even get to see his little face. All she saw was her baby being taken away as she was dragged out in chains and left to languish in anguish until the wedding.
Terrana of the Shadows, the back-stabber’s formal title, approached the dais with a bundle in her arms. She cooed at the baby as though she wasn’t about to commit infanticide.
But, of course, Malekith wanted that particular honour.
Sága could only watch, bound in chains, rendered mute, screaming silently as Malekith placed the baby on the sacrificial altar and started speaking to the gathered crowd, telling them of how he intended to bring Svartalfheim out of the dark times, how he would ensure they forged a new legacy for themselves, how the Dark Elves would rule supreme. And any who opposed would be sent to the mines to slave away for the rest of their days.
Wielding a sharpened sacrificial dagger…
Malekith raised his arms up high into the air.
Sága screamed and thrashed and fought with all her might. A chain shattered. Another one splintered. Hot, searing pain burned at the back of her shoulders, a familiar sensation coursing through her. Golden light surged through her, melting away the collar, breaking the remainder of the chains. And all Malekith could do was cower before her as she took her baby and rose high into the air, her powerful golden wings keeping her aloft as she stared down at the Accursed being imperiously.
“You will know true pain, Malekith the Accursed,” she proclaimed, her voice quiet, but loud enough to carry across the gathered crowd.
She unleashed a devastating blast of light, and once her vision had returned, she found Malekith bound on molten gold chains, gagged and blinded and rendered completely useless.
“You would do well not to believe in his false words,” she said, turning to the gathered crowd, all of whom were shielding their eyes against her sheer brightness. “There can be no darkness without light, no light without darkness. Do not succumb to one over the other.”
Her wings disintegrated. She didn’t care. She never wanted to be a Valkyrie. She had a much more important role to take on. She had her people who needed her. She had her duties. She had to honour Jörð’s legacy. And she had a King to marry.
She opened her eyes and found herself gazing into the tiny blue face of a dark haired little baby boy. She gave a weak smile, feeling groggy and still out of sorts. “Little one…” she whispered hoarsely. “You’re safe.”
His head came down, his lips leaving a slobbery kiss on her cheek, narrowly missing her eye. She giggled, reaching out with weak, shaking arms so she could hold him closer, pressing soft kisses all over his face.
She heard a door opening, but she didn’t have the energy to look up.
And then she was subsequently joined on the bed by Loki, who looked gaunt and pale and grief-stricken, his eyes wild, his hair a mess, his hands scrambling to find purchase on her body, to ensure she was awake, that it was her, that she was alive…
He let out a choked laugh.
Chapter 15: Fit for a Queen
Frigga is bad at keeping secrets.
Her rehabilitation was slow.
According to Lady Eir, Malekith had injected her with a toxic substance that had done some very harmful things to her body, and in the process meddled with her mind. Even now, weeks after waking up, she struggled speaking properly, still believing herself to be under the influence of that accursed collar. She was weaker than before, but recovering slowly, and it helped that Asgard’s warmth soothed her bones and stopped her from shivering profusely.
Although she longed to return home to Jotunheim, she knew she couldn’t, not yet. Not while her body was still so weak. Not while little Nari was still too young to travel via the Bifrost. So she bided her time, longing for the days when Loki would return from his home realm, continuing his duties as King even while she recovered in the Realm Eternal.
It was a sunny Spring morning that found Sága sitting on a blanket in Frigga’s royal gardens, Nari crawling around her playing with both Bygul and a plastic ball Thor had brought back from Midgard as a gift for the baby.
He was the apple of her eye. Blue, cherub-faced, with golden eyes and dark hair, his face more reminiscent of her own than Loki’s… with a perchance for attention-seeking (much like his father) and with a curiosity for things that made Sága proud to be his mother. Without him, Sága knew she wouldn’t be alive right now. She would have been dead months ago without her little baby.
“Mama?” Nari climbed onto her lap and started whining rather petulantly. Sága smiled to herself, unfastening the front of her tunic to allow the baby access to her breasts, guiding him to her nipple so he could latch on and begin feeding.
“Now, that is a sight I love to come back to.”
Sága gave a start, squeaking a little in surprise when she heard his familiar voice. Nari, too busy with his milk, didn’t acknowledge Loki as he sat down on the blanket beside them and wrapped Sága up in his arms, pulling her onto his lap, kissing her tenderly, his hands holding her delicately.
“I thought you were returning in a few days…” she said, tears brimming in her eyes. “Did you miss us too much?”
“Yes…” Loki kissed away her tears, before laughing when Nari looked up, eyes slightly crossed, a droplet of milk dribbling down his chin. “Oh dear, what a mess you’ve made, little piggy!”
“Oink!” Nari giggled, reaching out for his father. “Dada! Dada Dada Dada!”
“I think he’s pleased to see you,” Sága said with a soft smile as she fastened her tunic up, watching fondly as Loki scooped Nari up and tossed him high into the air before catching him, repeating the process a few times, no doubt enjoying how loud he was making the baby laugh.
With Sága having retreated to her chambers for a rest, Loki was left with the baby. “So…” he began, carrying his son in the direction of his mother’s room. “Would you like to see the diadem I’ve had the dwarves of Nidaviller make for your mother?”
“You have to promise to keep it a secret, remember? We want this to be a surprise for her, don’t we?”
Nari nodded his head, looking very serious.
“Mummy’s been very poorly, hasn’t she? So we have to make sure she feels extra spoiled, don’t we? So once we’ve seen the diadem, we’re going to pick out an outfit for you to wear tomorrow. But you have to promise not to tell your mother, remember, it’s a surprise.”
Frigga was waiting for them both when they entered her room, smiling in delight when she saw them both. “My two favourite little frost giants!” she cooed, teasing them both much to Loki’s chagrin and Nari’s joy. She pinched Loki’s cheek before stealing Nari away, cuddling him close as she motioned for Loki to follow her.
“They’ve done a marvelous job, Loki darling. I think she’ll absolutely love it.” Frigga gestured to a discreet looking box that was on the table.
Loki, nervous all of a sudden, reached down and took the box. He took a deep, steadying breath before opening the box up.
It was… beautiful.
Woven into gentle patterns, expertly crafted, the golden diadem was embedded with an emerald green gem, which would sit upon her brow. He couldn’t wait to see her wear it, he couldn’t wait to show the Nine Realms who his beloved belonged to.
Nari reached out for it, making an impatient sound when Frigga refused his wishes. Instead, Loki approached then and delicately held the diadem up for the little boy to touch, his blue face lighting up in glee.
“Do you approve, Master Nari?” Loki quipped.
“Do you think your mother will like it?”
He nodded enthusiastically.
“I’m glad. Now, do I have your approval to marry her in the morn?”
Nari gazed up at him with wide golden eyes, his mouth hanging open as though shocked by his father’s sincere words. Frigga, still holding onto him, had tears in her eyes, smiling when Nari whispered, “Mama loves you, Dada.”
“And I love her.” Loki pressed a kiss to his brow. “And you, of course. I love you, my little sapphire.”
Nari gave a smile that gave Loki a sense of deja vu. Of a time before his childhood on Asgard. When he had lived on Jotunheim, when he had been training alongside Sága under the tutelage of Angrboða. When a little girl with golden eyes had smiled at him so softly, so sincerely, so beautifully…
After ensuring the diadem was safe and sound with his mother, Loki took Nari to the royal tailors, first to check on the dress he had commissioned for Sága, which was a beautiful emerald green gown with appliques of gold sewn into the corset. It was an off the shoulder dress which he knew would enhance her beautiful shoulders, and one he sincerely hoped she would love.
It was then time to start organising Nari’s own wedding outfit.
A black underpiece went with a green fur-trimmed vest that was almost identical to one of Loki’s own outfits. Paired with a pair of fancy leather boots, his little boy looked cute and, most important of all, comfortable.
“Do you like your outfit?” Loki asked his son.
“Say thank you to the tailor, Nari.”
The tailor, a portly older woman who went by the name Alva, chuckled heartily and ruffled the little prince’s dark hair affectionately. “It was my sincerest pleasure, little one.” And then to Loki she quipped, “He is a little darling, isn’t he? He must take after his mother. I remember when you were younger. Full of spirit and full of mischief.”
“I still am.” Loki winked at Alva, who rolled her eyes in fond exasperation. “Again, I must thank you for helping me with the arrangements.”
“Anything for Lady Sága. The poor dove’s been through enough, she deserves to be pampered.”
“That she does.”
Sága awoke to a brand new day, having slept through most of yesterday and last night, she found herself surprisingly refreshed and energetic. Pushing herself up into a sitting position, she admired the blue flowers she spotted on her bedside table, ones which made her smile brightly. Trust Loki to spoil her with beautiful flowers.
He was noticeably absent from the bed, but she knew he was either with Nari or speaking with his brother. She wasn’t concerned. She was, however, in need of relieving herself, so using all her strength, pushed herself out of bed and carefully made her way to the bathroom.
There was a knock on the chamber door.
“Come in!” she called out.
In stepped a few maids, along with Magda, who had come to Asgard from Sökkvabekkr a few weeks ago to assist in her rehabilitation. The four maids started stripping and changing the bed sheets, while Magda immediately bustled over to Sága and started fussing over her.
“What’s all the fuss about?” Sága asked, slightly bemused. “I need to see Nari-”
“He’s with his grandmother,” Magda dismissed. “We have an event today, it was all quite sudden. We’ll need to wash and dress you. There’s a dress already waiting for you, and I’m going to braid your hair in the traditional Vanir style, would that be alright with you?”
Sága hadn’t heard anything about any event, but she wasn’t exactly surprised; after all, she’d spent most of yesterday resting in bed. So she merely nodded and went along with Magda’s whims, deciding that she would go with the flow, hoping her good start to the day lasted long enough for her not to embarrass herself at the event.
First, Magda had the maids draw her a bath. Sága was stripped out of her nightgown and thoroughly scrubbed until her skin was red. Her hair was washed with scented lotions, and then while her hair dried, her armpits were shaved, along with her legs, and her pubic hair was neatened up. Sága, who didn’t usually bother about her body hair, touched her smooth, soft thigh and sighed in content. It felt so… silky.
Once her hair had dried, Magda combed it through with a fine-tooth brush that brought tears to Sága’s eyes, for brushing her hair hadn’t been her top priority during her rehabilitation. It looked glorious afterwards, however, so she supposed it had been worth the pain. Her hair was golden and silky and practically glowing, and then Magda started braiding her hair, with a quickness that spoke of years of practice.
Two braids, starting from either side of her head, were brought around to the middle, where they were fastened together with a delicately made golden brooch embedded with a shimmering, almost magical emerald green gem. It kept the rest of her hair free and loose, which Magda said was because her hair was far too beautiful to hide away in any sort of updo.
One of the maids presented Sága with the most beautiful gown she had ever laid eyes on. She felt tears rushing to her eyes and couldn’t stop them from falling, giving a watery giggle at the state of her emotions.
“It’s beautiful… far too beautiful for me…!” Sága reached out and touched the fabric. It was as soft as her hair, as soft as her skin. It was… beyond words.
It took surprisingly very little time for her to be put into the dress. There was a corset embroidered with aspects of gold, interweaving beautifully with the emerald green material of her gown. The skirt itself puffed out a little at the hips, giving it more of a structure and stature that reminded her of the Queen of Alfheim during the ball she had hosted so long ago, during the days when she hadn’t known that Loki was her Loptr, her Loppy. The thought made her wistful and solemn, but only until she saw Queen Frigga entering the room, the sight of the Allmother making Sága smile kindly.
“My lady,” she said politely. “You look wonderful.”
And she did. The Allmother was dressed in a dark yellow fitted gown paired with a cape of the same colour, one with an underlayer of shimmering purplish fabric that gave off an ethereal feel and made the Allmother’s presence even more noticeable.
“Thank you, Sága,” Frigga returned with an enthused smile. “You look absolutely gorgeous!”
Sága blushed, feeling shy from the compliment.
“I owe it all to Magda and these wonderful ladies.”
“Oh, I’m sure they only enhanced the beautiful canvas they had been gifted with. I actually came here to give you a little something.”
Frigga withdrew from thin air a discreet looking box. Sága gently took it from her and stared at it for a moment before tentatively opening the box. She gasped, eyes widening in amazement.
“This is… this is too much!” She tried and failed not to start crying again. “It’s beautiful!”
“And it’s all yours. Come, I’ll put it on.”
Frigga took the diadem and gently placed it upon Sága’s head, ensuring it stayed put before stepping back to admire her handiwork. She nodded in approval once she deemed it satisfactory. “It suits you well.”
Sága gazed at her reflection in the mirror, tentatively touching the emerald gem in the middle. “It’s… it’s so… wonderful…” She dissolved into more tears. “I never thought… I spent months…” She found herself starting to choke up.
Immediately, Frigga dismissed the worried-looking maids, and Magda decided to follow suit, smiling reassuringly at Sága before shutting the door to the chamber, giving the Queen and Sága some privacy. As soon as they were alone, Frigga placed her hand on the younger woman’s back and rubbed soothingly, filling her with some of her seiðr to make her feel more at ease.
“I spent months dreading the day of my son’s birth. I wanted to keep him safe and sound in my belly. I knew that once he was born… he would… he would…” Sága clasped her hands over her mouth to stifle a sob. “I never thought I’d be free. I tried so hard to find a way out, but I couldn’t, not by myself. Maybe that’s the lesson learned… knowing when you need help.”
“You are an incredibly brilliant young woman, Sága,” Frigga began, blinking away her own tears. “It is not a weakness to seek help. In fact, it can take the most amount of courage to face a situation and go ‘this terrifies me. I need help’. It doesn’t make you weak. It makes you the same as any other person. You did what you were able to do, you protected your little boy, that’s all that matters, really, isn’t it? And now you’re here, about to be married to my-”
Frigga opened and closed her mouth, unable to form any words to say otherwise.
Sága started crying again, but this time, they were tears of happiness.
“I should have known! That sneaky bastard!” She stood up and embraced a rather startled but amused Allmother. “I’m getting married!”
Chapter 16: It's Only Forever
Loki was more nervous than he had ever been in his entire life. He had faced off a plethora of creatures, he had been imprisoned, tortured, even killed. He had faced the Maw of Souls, he had succumbed to madness. He had been coronated as King of Jotunheim. He was the second son of the Allfather, who was actually his grandfather. His real mother was Hela, Goddess of Death. He was a Trickster, a Mischief Maker, a Bringer of Chaos. And yet standing here, before the Priestess of the Temple of Utgard, who had traveled to Asgard especially for this most important of days, standing here alongside his brother Thor, he had never felt more terrified.
He was about to marry the love of his life. His soulmate. His beloved. The mother of his child and hopefully his future children, too. His Flower. His little valkyrie. His light. His everything.
What if she didn’t want to marry him?
What if she hated the dress?
What if… she hated the diadem?
“You need to breathe, brother,” Thor said, chuckling when Loki shot him a filthy glare. It seemed, although his brother still cherished Sága dearly, he was fully prepared for the woman he loved to marry Loki. Loki wouldn’t admit it, but he was oddly proud of his brother for being so mature. The Thor of yesteryear would have torn him down to shreds.
The Great Hall of Asgard’s Palace was full of life, people from across the realms having gathered for this most auspicious of occasions. There were Light Elves from Alfheim, including Princess Ayelah Feathermoon, and the young maiden Beyla, who had once been infatuated with Sága. There were of course Vanir from Vanaheim, including Asmund, Frey, Kelda, Skaði, and even Hreiðmarr and his wife Gersemi, much to Loki’s surprise and delight. There were many from Jotunheim of course, including most of the Mothers, along with Hati and Sköll, and of course, Angrboða, who stood pride of place by the front entrance awaiting Sága’s arrival.
Frigga arrived shortly before the start of the ceremony, carrying little Nari in her arms. Nari squealed when he saw his father dressed in his most ceremonial armour, the emerald cape billowing, the horned helm sitting tall and proud, his posture impeccable. Loki took the baby from his mother, offering her a chaste kiss on the cheek, relieved when she said, “She’ll be here in a matter of moments. She can’t wait.”
He held his son in his arms, feeling all warm and fuzzy inside when the little boy rested his head on Loki’s armoured shoulder. His heart skipped a beat when he abruptly heard the large doors to the Grand Hall begin to swing open.
A hush fell upon the crowd.
Loki didn’t know whether or not to chance looking. When he heard Thor’s sharp inhale, he didn’t think twice about it, deciding at once to see his beloved for himself. And what he saw made him almost start weeping then and there.
The emerald gown fit her perfectly, accentuating her curves, enhancing her already wonderful, perfect features. The gold perfectly matched the golden diadem perched amongst her braided golden hair, the emerald gem winking in the light. Her attention was drawn to Angrboða, and Loki could already see that she was crying, squeezing onto Angrboða’s proffered arm as they started walking down the aisle, through the gathered crowd, towards the altar.
There was hardly a dry eye in the hall. Frigga was dabbing at her eyes, and even the Priestess seemed misty-eyed. Loki, however, managed to maintain his composure, watching as his beloved slowly but surely made her way towards them.
When she caught sight of Nari in Loki’s arms, she placed her hands over her heart, even more tears rushing to her eyes.
Nari, who had also been watching his mother approaching, squirmed out of his father’s arms and waddled towards her, giggling shrilly when Sága picked him up and held him to her hip, the little boy whispering his own compliments to her while the crowd awwed at his adorableness.
Angrboða released her arm once they were upon the dais, going to stand beside Frigga, the pair of them very proud mothers as they watched their babies gazing at one another, while their baby Nari wiggled his way between them, unwilling to not be a part of the big day, it seemed.
“Loki…” Sága whispered for his ears only. He knew what she wanted to say, and knew she couldn’t find the right words. He pressed his lips to her brow, wrapping his arm around her waist while he held Nari in the other. “Thank you.”
There had been the traditional Asgardian handfasting ritual which had been a bit awkward to accomplish with a squirming baby causing a stir. Once he was standing between them, however, it was much easier to proceed.
And then it came time for the vows, vows which Sága had no time to prepare, so she was more than relieved when Loki was told to go first.
“My Flower…” he began, bringing her hands to his lips to kiss. “My soulmate. My dearest friend.” He lowered her hands, placing them gently upon Nari’s little head. He glanced between his parents, somewhat confused, before tugging on his mother’s skirt, whimpering for her to give him a hug.
As the gathered crowd awwed and chuckled fondly, Sága picked her baby up and held him close, smiling warmly at Loki, who found himself unable to speak, his silver tongue rendered momentarily useless.
“I never believed I would have a family of my own,” he confessed. His finger glided across Nari’s chubby cheek, the little boy gazing at him with almost the spit of Sága’s own expression. “I never thought I would feel so much love in my cold heart. I have done much in my life, I have hurt people, I have been cruel, I have been a monster. No doubt, I will still continue to be those things. But when I am with you two… well, you melt this monster’s heart.”
“You’re not a monster,” Sága said firmly, patiently, eyes brimming. “I’ve met monsters, you’re not one of them. You are… everything to me.”
Loki didn’t wait for the Priestess’s permission. He just surged forward and planted a kiss onto his bride’s lips, kissing her even as the crowd cheered and celebrated, kissing her even when Nari tugged on his hair, kissing her until he had no air left in his lungs.
“Forever…” he whispered against her lips. “Forever mine.”
“Forever yours…” She cupped the back of his neck and pulled him into another kiss, laughing when he lifted her up off the ground and carried both her and the baby down the aisle, the three of them full of laughter and joy, tears flowing freely, flower petals scattering across the floor and over them, laughter and joy and warmth and love, so much love.
“I think I know what I want to say as my vows,” Sága said once they were seated next to one another at the high table. Nari had been claimed by Frigga, Angrboða, and Skaði for the time being, the three of them cooing and fussing over him, feeding him treats and no doubt already planning on spoiling him with gifts.
“Oh?” Loki murmured, pressing a soft kiss to her temple. “I never gave you the chance to say anything, did I?”
“I don’t want to say my vows in front of a large audience. They’re for your ears only.” She rested her head on his shoulder, exhausted from the excitement of the day. She had eaten her fill of the banquet, she had drank only a cup of wine and nothing more, and now she was about ready for some well-deserved rest and relaxation.
“Mother will be looking after the baby tonight. Why don’t we retire for the evening?” Loki suggested.
“That sounds wonderful.”
She allowed him to take her by the hand and help her up, most of the celebrating crowd oblivious to them. Thor noticed them, however, and gave a wave and a smile, which Sága happily returned. She wandered over to the gaggle of grandmothers and picked her baby up, hugging him before kissing him goodnight. She thanked them for everything, and then allowed Loki, who had just finished saying goodnight to Nari, to lead her out of the banquet hall, down the corridors, and all the way back to their chambers.
Once they were finally alone, Loki lit the fire in the hearth, drew the curtains, and then started running them a bath before assisting Sága in removing her dress.
He used his seiðr to quickly remove his armour, leaving him in his undergarments only, smirking as he pressed his bare chest against his wife’s bare back. Kissing down her shoulder, he unclasped the fastener in her hair and set it to one side, and then delicately removed the diadem.
“I had this specially commissioned. It was forged by Eitri’s own hands.”
“I didn’t know he made such fine work… I thought he was more proficient with weapons…”
“He is a dwarf of many talents.” Loki kissed her other shoulder and then led her into the washroom, where he proceeded to help her into the large tub, filled to the brim with soothing water that would help ease her body’s woes for at least a little while.
“I remember another time we bathed together,” Sága mused a while later, her head resting against his chest, his arms firmly wrapped around her.
“Mm. Haustvald.” Loki closed his eyes, breathing in the floral scent of her luscious golden hair. “The night we conceived our little sapphire.”
“Maybe we will conceive our next child tonight.”
His heart skipped a beat, and to his slight embarrassment, his manhood twitched enthusiastically.
Sága started giggling.
“Do you like the sound of that, by any chance?”
“Oh, very much so, darling wife.”
Now it was her turn for her breath to hitch and her heart to skip.
“Wife…” he whispered deviously in her ear. “My wife.”
“Your wife.” She tilted her head back so she could gaze at him upside down. “My husband.”
“Your husband,” he agreed, smirking a little at the way she was looking at him. “Shall we retire to bed, wife?”
“I believe we shall, husband.”
Chapter 17: Memories of the Mother
“Would you like to hear my vows now?”
Loki nodded from his position on the bed next to her, sprawled out like a languid cat. His hand was resting on his belly, the other tucked behind his head.
Sága, wrapped up in one of his black silk robes, curled her legs up beneath her, taking a shaky breath before beginning.
“I’ve known you my whole life. After I was born in the Járnviðr, my Mama brought me to the Mothers, and you held me… you even gave me my name. So much of our lives are woven together. I wouldn’t be here without you.”
“I wouldn’t be here without you, either.”
She smiled faintly, shifting closer towards him so he could wrap his arms around her and hold her closer. She took his head in between her soft hands and rested her forehead against his, gazing into his emerald eyes as she continued to say her vows.
“You have been so very patient with me these past few months. When I was…” She swallowed down the rising lump in her throat. Loki, sensing the shift in topic, held her even closer, not saying a word, not wishing to interrupt her now.
“When I was on Svartalfheim… when I had realised everything that had happened was because he… wanted me… it made me feel unclean and… and tainted. It’s not enough to just be wanted, I want to be needed, too.”
“I need you,” he whispered, tears forming in his eyes.
“I need you, too. It’s not a weakness… it’s not a weakness to need somebody.” She sighed. “When I look at Nari, I know he needs me and you. When I look at him, I remember how the thought of finding a way out for him was the one thing that kept me sane for all those months. I was… I was nothing more than a glorified prisoner. I was silenced. I was rendered powerless. I was… weak. But… but though I am weak now, I am still strong. In my mind. You were the first person to recognise that in me.”
“My Goddess of Wisdom,” he breathed out, eyelids fluttering shut when she kissed him softly. “Let me make love to you, my Flower… my wife… let me make you feel better…”
They hadn’t been this intimate in far too long. When he entered her for the first time, it hurt almost as if she was a virgin again, but he soothed her woes and calmed her down and guided himself slowly into her, stretching her around him, enveloping her in his love and support.
He began to re-explore her body, re-learning its little quirks, taking in how much she had changed. Her breasts were larger than before, of course, because she was still frequently breastfeeding the baby. Her stomach had a slight paunch from when she had carried their son. There were a few more scars. She was skinnier than before, her ribs exposed far too much than they should be. But, he knew that with time, she would regain her health.
“What if I’m too weak to carry a baby?” she whispered abruptly. “What if we can’t…”
“We will find a way,” he promised her.
He felt completely spoiled by the sheer amount of kisses she gave him, while her hands caressed him all over, her legs wrapped loosely around him, her breasts pressed against his heaving chest. Once she was stronger, once she had recovered a bit more, he would spend the whole night lavishing her in love. For now, he brought her to a single orgasm, unwilling to exhaust her too much, unwilling to overexert her tired little body too much just yet.
He filled her up with his seed, keeping them locked together even when she started drifting off to sleep, safe and sound in his arms. He kissed her face all over, he allowed himself to shed a tear, he allowed himself a moment to thank the fates for her being here with him.
“I love you,” he murmured.
“I love you too,” she whispered in return.
“Mama, where are we?” Nari asked, holding onto his mother’s hand tightly, his tiny little face glancing around curiously.
“This is Klaustur, darling,” Sága answered, rubbing her thumb over his hand to soothe any anxieties he might be having. It had been his first time travelling via the Bifrost and he was naturally a bit intimidated by being somewhere completely brand new. “This is where I learned about my powers.”
Walking along the path through the collection of buildings, they came to a halt before the Lavasøyle. It was thrumming with newfound power, the heart of a fire elemental given to them by the natives of Muspelheim as a good-will gesture. It was very kind of them, and also very kind of the Dark Elves who had been the ones to bring the heart to Jotunheim.
“Where’s Daddy?” Nari asked, sounding a little petulant.
“I wanna see him!”
Sága sighed. “Fine, we’ll return to Utgard.”
Nari, perhaps sensing her upset at having to leave so soon, whimpered and wrapped his arms around her leg. “Mama, we stay, okay? Daddy can wait.”
Sága laughed, blinking back tears. “You’re such a good little boy, aren’t you darling?” She bent down and picked him up, kissing his chubby cheek affectionately. “What did I ever do to deserve you?”
Nari just giggled.
Sága brought Nari to the memorial that the villagers had put in place so they could pay their respects to Jörð. There were flowers aplenty, along with an assortment of fruit in baskets, most of which were frozen solid and being picked at by a few crows.
“You never met her, but Jörð was my teacher,” Sága began. “You were still in my belly when she passed away.”
“What happened to her?” Nari asked curiously.
“Well…” She crouched down by the memorial and traced the runic engravings on the smooth stone with her fingertip. “It’s not exactly a suitable story for someone as little as you.”
“Is this about when you went to Svartyheim?”
He was far too clever for his own good.
“Yes,” Sága admitted.
“Oh.” Nari fidgetted a little, going onto his knees so he could place his blue palm on the stone next to his mother’s. “Was she nice?”
“Very nice. She was like everybody’s mother. She was so… present.”
“She was very powerful, is what I mean.”
Sága leaned down so she could kiss the top of his head. “Those who took me to Svartalfheim poisoned Jörd because they knew I would feel guilty for her death. They had been damaging the pillars found in villages across the Nine Realms, and we’d been doing our best to find elementals to power them again. I went to Muspelheim because I didn’t want Klaustur to fall into disrepair after Jörð’s passing. It was a ruse, however. A ruse to capture me.” She kissed his head again, brushing her fingers through his unruly dark locks. “I had been taking time to find out for myself who I was. I found members of my family in Nornheim and Druskvar. You know, before Jörð’s passing, I’d just been on an adventure with pirates.”
“Pirates!” Nari gasped in delight, eyes going wide. “Arrr!”
Sága giggled despite herself.
Nari, pleased that he’d made his mother laugh, crawled into her lap and wrapped his tiny arms around her neck, hugging her with all his might. She embraced him back, nuzzling into him, breathing him in, still not quite believing that this little boy was hers, that she had a son who loved her and needed her, that they were both alive and well. Although she still felt weak from her ordeal, she was improving, and she had certainly been strong enough to convince Loki that it was time they made a return to Jotunheim.
It didn’t take too long for them to return to Utgard. It had returned to most of its glory, ever since the war with the Æsir, construction had been slow going for the most part, until the Mothers and Loki had taken over, that was. Laufey, it seemed, had been a good war time King but a terrible King during peace times.
Walking through the bustling marketplace with Nari in her arms, Sága smiled when she saw Fárbauti lingering nearby with Helblindi’s child Kari. Fárbauti nodded her head in acknowledgement, beckoning them over as she struggled to juggle both Kari and the fish she was trying to put into her bag.
“So I take it trading has resumed with the coast?” Sága asked as soon as she was standing next to Fárbauti.
“Indeed. Your husband has been an excellent negotiator.”
“Well, he’s not called Silvertongue for nothing.” Sága admired the selection of fish, appreciating how fresh they were. When she glanced up, she noticed the knowing smile on Fárbauti’s face and realised how her words could have been construed. She blushed, coughing a little. “So, will you be joining us for dinner tonight?”
“Oh, no. I’m looking after Helblindi’s children tonight. Perhaps in a few days time, we could have a big get together to celebrate your return to Jotunheim?”
“I’m not sure…” Sága rubbed the back of her head awkwardly.
“Oh, don’t be so coy, Sága!” Fárbauti swatted her arm playfully. “I’ll have no protesting from you! I insist we celebrate your return!”
Sága wondered if she was going to regret Fárbauti’s meddling.
Returning to the Keep with a bundle of trinkets from the market, Sága retreated to her marital quarters first, relieving herself of the supplies she had gathered before helping Nari wash and change into his night clothes. Once he was comfortable, she carried him to the throne room, where Loki would undoubtedly still be holding court.
There were a few stragglers, but it seemed that court was winding down for the day. Sága lingered by one of the pillars, appreciating the changes Loki had put in place to make the interior of the Keep more welcoming and warming. It was still elegant and with a hint of savagery that perfectly represented his Jötnar side, but it was also a reminder that times were changing in the Nine Realms, that new alliances were being forged, and that Jotunheim would no longer be pushed around by the other realms.
Loki, donned in his Jötunn form, drummed his long fingers against the arm of his regal throne, growing more weary the longer he held court. It was always his least favourite part of the week; the day he spent listening to those who wanted to petition him for his favour or try to weedle their way into his good books. He was no fool, he knew who were opposed to him, he knew how to play his cards right. He knew who to trust.
The twins Greip and Gjálp, both of them young up-and-coming protegies of Angrboða, who had taken them under her wing after the unfortunate passing of their mother Gesta, entered the throne room and made to approach him, only for them both to become distracted by the sight of Sága and Nari lingering by the pillar.
“Nari!” the twins called out.
“Twinnies!” Nari screeched, flinging himself out of his startled mother’s arms, practically soaring across the room to reach the twins. Although they hadn’t known each other long, the twins and Nari had formed a close bond that always warmed Loki’s cold heart.
Speaking of which…
Loki turned his attention onto his beautiful beloved wife, crooking his finger to coax her over. She smiled shyly, walking towards him with a glint in her golden eyes, ignoring the petitioner who had been trying and failing to garner the King’s attention.
“Court dismissed!” Loki said abruptly, shooting a glare at the Jötunn who was trying to interrupt his good mood with his nonsensical prattle. The Jötunn glowered at him but obliged, bowing politely before turning and leaving the throne room.
“Loppy…” he heard his wife coo, and then he smirked wickedly when she sat down on his lap and proceeded to kiss him with a desperate need that made him hard and left him craving more. “I missed you…”
“I missed you more,” he purred. “How did your trip to Klaustur go?”
“Surprisingly well. Nari was such a good boy. He really made me feel better.” She smiled fondly when she turned her attention onto Nari, who was being tossed between the twins, all three of them laughing. “He wanted to come back and see you, but when he saw how upset I was, he agreed to stay and visit Jörð’s memorial. He’s such a good little boy, Loki.”
“He is indeed.”
There was a pause. And then.
“I want another baby.”
Loki felt his cock twitch enthusiastically. “Oh? Do you now? Well… how about tonight…” He started kissing down her neck, fondling her backside with his two large hands. “Nari can have a little sleepover with the twins…”
“And then… I am going to take you to bed…” He nibbled on her earlobe. “And I’m going to fill you up with my seed over and over again. How does that sound?”
“Good,” she whispered breathlessly. “So good.”
“Nari,” he straightened up, looking towards his son. “How would you like to spend tonight with the twins?”
Nari’s shriek of delight was answer enough. He bid them a quick good night before running off with the twins, who were both laughing loudly at the little boy’s actions, bidding the King and Queen their own quick farewell before leaving for their babysitting duties.
“Well, it seems we have a baby to make, doesn’t it?” Loki whispered wickedly once they were all alone in the throne room.
Sága could only answer him with a desperate, hungry kiss. “Take me to bed, Loki,” she whispered. “Take me… need you so much… give me another baby, please…”
“Maybe I should take you here, on the throne.” Loki’s voice had deepened, his excitement very apparent. “Maybe we should conceive our next child on this very throne.”
“Oh, Gods …”
He expertly slid his hand beneath her dress and pulled her undergarments aside. Feeling how ready and eager she already was for him caused him to lose a little bit of his self-control. “Oh, my beloved wife, you are soaking wet for me…” He pushed his fingers deep into her warmth, swallowing the gasp she let out with his lips, kissing her passionately as he worked her towards the brink of bliss.
The moment was shattered by the sound of the throne room door swinging open and slamming shut. Loki turned his focus away from his flustered wife, glaring at the intruder in disdain.
“What is it?” he spat out.
The messenger appeared very nervous and on edge, no doubt because he’d caught his King doing something rather sordid with his Queen. “Umm… my King, my Queen… there’s been a… uh… disturbance of sorts?”
“What sort of disturbance?” Sága asked, regaining her composure despite the fact Loki’s fingers were still lodged deep within her.
“It’s uh… it’s uh…”
“Spit it out, boy!” Loki snapped.
“There’s a stranger begging to see the Queen, my King. Says it’s of the utmost importance. When we refused to let him pass, he started shouting and… and lashing out, and he turned into an eagle and mutilated one of the guards, and-”
“Breathe, boy. Breathe.” Loki, although disgruntled by the interruption, didn’t want the messenger to faint from a lack of oxygen. “Did this person say what their name was?”
“Y-Yes. He said…” The messenger locked eyes with Sága, who felt dread fill her heart. “He said his name was Bragi Burison, and that he was here to see his daughter. He says it’s of the utmost importance that they speak. He says it’s… he says it’s about her mother, Hildegunn.”
“W-What?” Sága didn’t realise she was shaking until Loki, who had discreetly extracted his fingers from her, wrapped his arms around her and held her close. “What else did he say?”
“He said… he said that… that…” The messenger flinched when the throne room doors swung open again, a large brown-red speckled eagle-like bird soaring into the chamber, knocking into the messenger, who staggered forwards onto his knees.
Loki and Sága rose from the throne as one, Loki holding his spear, Sága summoning some of her magic. The bird landed before them and swiftly shifted into the form of a lanky red haired man who looked half-starved and gaunt.
“Sága!” he gasped, his voice thickly accented much like Skaði’s own voice. “You must come at once! Your mother is alive!”
He then proceeded to fall to the ground in a dead faint.
Chapter 18: Legacy of the Lightbringer
The truth about Hildegunn and Bragi is unearthed finally.
trigger warning: mentioned/referenced rape
“He will recover in time,” Eir informed them.
They had taken the seemingly comatose Bragi Burison to Asgard so they could employ the services of Lady Eir. Sága didn’t want to leave Jotunheim, but Loki knew she would have regretted it if she didn’t find out for herself whether or not the man who was supposedly her father was telling the truth.
“Do you know what happened?” Frigga asked, standing near the bed containing the unconscious Bragi, still in her nightgown, her arms wrapped around Thor’s muscular bicep.
Eir shook her head a little. “Exhaustion, perhaps? He looks gaunt, we won’t know the full extent of any mental issues until he wakes.” She activated a golden healing barrier that encompassed the bed. “I suggest getting some rest and returning in the morning. I doubt he will wake until then at the very least.”
Loki thanked Lady Eir before glancing back at his wife, who was sitting not far off on one of the beds in the infirmary, one of his robes drawn tight around her. She was facing the floor, hands shaking noticeably. He let out a small sigh. “Let’s get you to bed, Flower,” he murmured, reaching for her trembling hands to take them in his own.
“We will see you both in the morning,” Frigga said, nudging Thor when she caught him staring at Sága worriedly.
“Yes, yes we shall. Goodnight, you two.”
“Night,” Loki said mostly as an afterthought, more concerned with his wife than anything else at the moment. “Sága, darling… I know it’s a shock, but everything will be okay.”
She looked up at him, eyes brimming with tears, an almost angry expression flitting across her features. “I was finally getting better. Why did he have to ruin it? My mother’s dead. I won’t be manipulated again.” She closed her eyes for a moment. “I want to go home. I want my baby. I don’t want to be here with him. I don’t - I don’t even know him, he’s not my… he’s nothing to me.”
“No, Loki. No. I don’t want anything to do with him. I just want to go home and hug my baby and go to sleep in my own bed. I just want to go home.” She started crying plaintively. “Please.”
Loki battled with himself. On the one hand, he more than anything wanted to return to Jotunheim. On the other hand, he knew she needed to know why Bragi had said what he had said to them, and what his words meant, and maybe if there was something wrong with him… what if he was terminally ill and passed away while Sága was back home on Jotunheim? Surely she’d regret not taking the opportunity to learn about the man who sired her?
“Sága… why don’t we spend tonight here on Asgard, and if he doesn’t wake up by tomorrow evening, we’ll return home.”
Sága gazed at him in disbelief. “I’m not leaving Nari alone on Jotunheim just to sit by the bedside of a man I don’t know and I don’t want to know!” She stood up, pushing him away when he made to grab her and hold her in place. “I’m going home, Loki. I’m going home to my baby.”
The two of them froze.
Sága slowly turned around, squinting suspiciously at the bed surrounded by the golden barrier of healing light. Blinking blearily within the confines of the barrier was the red-haired half-starved man who claimed to be Bragi Burison. Who claimed her mother Hildegunn was still alive. Who had caused untold chaos in their lives.
“Is it really you?” he said hoarsely, weakly attempting to push himself up. As soon as he did that, Lady Eir came sprinting out from one of the back rooms, eyes wide in shock.
“You should not be awake right now!”
“Hello, Lady Eir,” Bragi croaked, giving her a weak smile. “It’s been quite some time.”
Loki sensed Sága begin to tense, and instinctively wrapped a reassuring arm around her waist, pulling her right up against his chest. “Breathe,” he whispered for her ears only. “Breathe in and out for me… I’m here, you’re safe, I promise.”
“I don’t want to be here…” she whispered, tears sliding down her flushed cheeks. “Please, I don’t want this, I don’t… I can’t… I won’t be manipulated again.”
“Nobody’s manipulating you.”
“He is!” she hissed, perhaps louder than she’d intended, for both Eir and Bragi looked in their direction. “He’s trying to make me think my mother is alive, when I know she’s not! She’s in Valhalla! She’s dead! Dead! I won’t allow myself to be manipulated by anyone, not again.”
“But she is alive,” Bragi said suddenly. He sat himself up, eyes sparkling with a mad gleam that put Loki on instant high-alert. Something was definitely not right with the man. “I’ve seen her with my own two eyes. She’s here now, don’t you see? She’s standing right over there.”
“He’s mad…” Sága whispered. “Loki, I want to go home now.”
“Okay. Okay, we’ll go home and see our baby.” Loki shot Lady Eir a look of concern, which she reciprocated, seemingly unnerved by the Vanir man babbling at ‘Hildegunn’. “Lady Eir, would you inform my Mother and brother that I’ve decided to take my wife home? Tell them to keep me updated on the… situation.”
“Of course, King Loki. Have a safe trip back.”
Her mother was dead. Her father was mad. What if she was also mad? What if she succumbed to the same ailment as Bragi? What if it was a ruse? What if the Dark Elves were after her again? What if this was all just another hoax? What if it was another trap to ensnare her and take her far away from her family?
The moment she had returned home, she ran to where the twins slept, barging in without knocking. Thankfully, they were still awake, playing with Nari, who instantly seemed to know that his mother was upset. He willingly ran up to her and hugged her, helping her forget her woes as she carried him back to her marital chambers and placed him on the king-sized bed, cuddling him until Loki entered the room.
“Sága, don’t you think we should put Nari to bed now?”
“No.” Sága held her baby closer, and Nari, because he loved being spoiled with attention, didn’t protest whatsoever. “He’s going to sleep with us tonight.”
Loki sighed, but knew there was little use in arguing. “Sooner or later, we’ll have to make sure he knows that he needs to sleep in his own bed at night.” Loki started undressing for bed, turning his back on them when he removed his trousers and changed his underwear. When he turned back around, he was dismayed to find Nari sprawled out over his side of the bed, chewing on his pillow and leaving drool everywhere.
“Leave him be, he’s just playing.”
Loki sighed impatiently. “Sága, he shouldn’t be chewing on pillows. Don’t be lenient on him, it sets a bad example.”
Sága narrowed her eyes at Loki. “What are you implying? That I don’t know how to raise my own son?”
Loki very nearly rolled his eyes.
“Of course not. I just meant… you don’t need to rely on Nari for emotional comfort.”
“I’m not! I’m… not…” She suddenly realised that perhaps her husband had a point. Her first instinct had been to find Nari and take him away and hold him close. “Just for tonight…” she implored, relieved when Loki nodded.
“Just for tonight.”
Loki found himself receiving very little sleep. Between Nari kicking him in his sleep and his wife crying in hers, he found himself unable to settle. He rose from the bed after being whacked far too many times by his son, pulling on his robe and leaving the chambers so he could take a walk to clear his head.
What had possessed Bragi into coming to Jotunheim? Was he truly mad? Or maybe Sága was right to be wary. Maybe it was an elaborate ruse. Or maybe he was truly mad. Perhaps the only way they would be able to work out the truth for themselves would be to speak to Kelda and Skaði.
Being a powerful sorcerer, Loki was able to travel between the realms with relative ease. And so, after dressing himself in much more appropriate clothing, Loki decided to take a little trip to Sökkvabekkr.
It was mid-afternoon in Sökkvabekkr, due to it being a different realm. He arrived in the front entranceway and immediately sensed the presence of Skaði nearby. “Lady Skaði?” he called out loudly.
There was the sound of shuffling, the sound of Ullr the fox yapping, and then Skaði appeared from out of the library, hair a tousled mess, eyes wide in surprise. “Loki! Why are you here? Where’s Sága? Is she well? Is it Nari?”
“They’re sleeping right now.” Loki glanced around, making sure they were alone. “I have news pertaining to your grandson Bragi. Is Kelda around?”
“No, she’s in Haustvald right now, but I’m sure any questions you have I’ll be able to answer. Come, sit and have some tea, tell me everything.”
Skaði was silent for a few minutes, pondering over what Loki had told her. Loki, for his part, had been blunt and to the point, emphasising how affected Sága was by the entire situation.
“Are you aware of any sort of madness running in the family? Maybe not from your side, but from Buri’s side?” Loki asked, unnerved by just how quiet the Jötunn woman was being. “Skaði, this is important. If it affects Sága in any way…”
Skaði exhaled shakily.
“It is no madness that has befallen Bragi. He was not travelling, as we said he was. He was…” She paused, reaching down to pet Ullr as though trying to ground herself. “He was here the entire time. Locked away in his room. That is why I sought to take Sága out that day we went to Valgarde, he was being moved to the capital, I didn’t want her to see her own flesh and blood in such a state.”
“If it is no madness, then what is it?”
“A curse?” Loki repeated sceptically.
“Yes. A curse. A curse of the mind. I’m afraid we haven’t been entirely honest with you. I’m afraid… our Bragi has always been a troubled soul. He was sick in the head long before this curse, not with any sort of madness, but… he couldn’t handle his emotions very well. We chose to rewrite history, to make pretend that Hildegunn and Bragi fell madly in love with one another. We all adored Hildegunn, we truly did. But… she did not become part of our family willingly.”
His blood ran cold.
“What are you insinuating?”
Skaði closed her eyes, shameful in the face of her confession. “Bragi overpowered Hildegunn because he wanted to be loved. He wanted to have what his brother had. He wanted a wife and a family. So he took it by force, he took Hildegunn against her will. And as his punishment, she cursed him to be forever haunted by her image. He has been growing more and more mad over the years.”
“How the Hel did he get to Jotunheim?” Loki shouted loudly, jumping to his feet. “How in all the Nine did your rapist grandson get himself to Jotunheim so he could torment my wife? Why wasn’t he under closer supervision?”
“He escaped, I don’t know when or how… I…”
“Is Kelda even in Haustvald?” Loki asked, his voice going low and dangerous, eyes flashing crimson. “Or is she in Voldrune cleaning up that rapist’s mess?”
Skaði’s silence was answer enough.
“I hope he suffers for the rest of his days.” Loki hissed through gritted teeth. “But, I’m actually grateful you lied. I don’t want Sága to know she was the product of rape. Let her have her fantasy. I’ll keep your secret, Skaði, but know this: if Bragi ever tries to hurt Sága or Nari, I will ensure he suffers a very painful death.”
“Thank you,” the old Jötunn woman whispered, fresh tears in her eyes.
“I’m not doing this for you,” Loki spat, shrugging on his coat and turning around, already marching towards the exit. “I’m doing this for my family.”
Druskvar was a savage land, but the sea breeze comforted Hildegunn in a way she hadn’t anticipated. It felt good to stretch her wings, so to speak. It felt good to be away from Asgard for a while, to enjoy some downtime on Vanaheim.
Sigrún, Ölrún, and Brunnhilde walked alongside the towering Valkyrie leader as they admired the ships moored to the dock of Old Town. Upon the cliff looming over them all was the impressive, imposing House of Sökkvabekkr, home to Járnsaxa’s descendents.
“I still cannot believe how integrated the Jötnar are with the Vanir here,” Sigrún commented. Sigrún, Hildegunn’s closest friend and ally, was not afraid to admit when her prejudices had been misplaced, and it seemed this was another of those moments.
“The Vanir are less biased than us Æsir,” Brunnhilde commented. The dark-skinned, dark-haired Valkyrie who also happened to be Hildegunn’s on-off lover was gruff and blunt with her words, but she had a good heart and a respect for other races that wasn’t often found in those that hailed from Asgard.
“We may be the Golden Realm, but we are certainly not the most progressive,” Ölrún, the healer of the group, who had shocking white hair that contrasted with her dark glowing skin, was the kindest of them all, but also knew more than anyone else how judgemental the Æsir could be. Her mother had been from Alfheim, hence the slightly pointed tips of her ears.
“I’ll drink to that!” Brunnhilde cheered, guiding the small group to the nearest drinking establishment, which just so happened to be The Golden Chalice.
Upon their entry, all eyes turned to them, four beautiful, powerful, dangerous Valkyrie warriors. Hildegunn felt a smirk curling her lips. “At ease, sailors,” she teased, sauntering towards the counter and rapping her knuckles on the bar to draw the attention of the half-Jötunn bartender. “Four of your finest ales, sir. And one for yourself, of course.”
The bartender, Hoggarth, chuckled at her attitude and proceeded to pour them four pints of ale. “On the house. I insist.”
“I’m not turning down a free drink.” Brunnhilde had already finished her own pint by the time Hildegunn had even touched hers. “Another, good sir, if you please!”
“I’ll pay,” Hildegunn assured the slightly frazzled bartender. “Just keep sending drinks to the table over there, if you will.”
The four Valkyries sat down at the table nearest the window, Ölrún right against the window sipping on her ale rather distrustfully, Brunnhilde already relishing her second pint, while Sigrún and Hildegunn were trying to make their own pints last.
“Hilde, looks like we’ve garnered some attention.” Sigrún nudged her friend and gestured with her head towards two men, two men who couldn’t look different even if they tried. One was stocky and muscular, with arms that reminded them all of a blacksmith. The other was lanky and scrawny, although both men sported matching red hair and the same skin pigment, which suggested that they may or may not be brothers.
“Aren’t those Kelda’s boys?” Ölrún questioned. “I’m sure I’ve seen their portraits in the capital..”
“Interesting,” Hildegunn murmured, evaluating them both with her golden eyes, frowning at the way the scrawnier one met her gaze with his own rather self-confident look. She quirked her brow, amused by his apparent confidence. “Maybe we should invite them to join us.”
“Must we?” Brunnhilde grumbled. “You know my opinion when it comes to men. They take what they want without regard for us women.”
“Brunny, I’m sure if they want something, they won’t be able to get it because if they did, I’d castrate them both,” Hildegunn replied sweetly, soothing the pout on Brunnhilde’s lips with a brief kiss. She then turned her attention to the red-headed men and called out, “Come and join us for a drink! We don’t bite, promise!”
“Oh, I don’t know,” the scrawny man said as he approached the table, his bulkier brother lurking in his shadow. “I wouldn’t mind having you bite me, darling.”
Hildegunn suppressed the urge to shiver in revulsion. Instead, she painted on a brilliant smile and said, “Sit, the pair of you. We’re in need of a tour guide, we plan on staying in Druskvar for a few days and we wanted to know where all the best places to visit are. Think you’re up to the task?”
“Oh, my sweet Valkyrie, I’m more than up to the task.” He extended his hand. “Bragi.”
She reached for it and clasped it, not realising he was casting an enchantment until it was far too late.
And then… she knew no more.
She had not been herself, Sigrún would later say. She had not been the Hildegunn they knew and loved. She had gone off alone with Bragi Burison, she had left the others with Hreiðmarr, she had left the safety of their group, unaware of herself, unaware of the danger she was in.
She was supposed to be stronger than this. She was a powerful Valkyrie warrior - she was their leader! How could she allow this to happen? She was supposed to be strong, how had she been so easily manipulated?
Without her three Sisters, without the support of her family, without them, she knew she would have ended her life then and there. She was ashamed of herself. She hated herself. She had allowed herself to be manipulated. How could she be so weak and pathetic?
“It wasn’t your fault!” a voice whispered in her ear one night. “He did this to you! It isn’t your fault! It’s his! Take revenge on him! Make him suffer!”
And so, guided by the words of a woman she would only know years later, years later when she was in Valhalla watching over her currently unborn child, Hildegunn the Lightbringer found Bragi Burison in the middle of the night and cursed him to a life of complete and utter madness.
This… This was to be the true Legacy of the Lightbringer.
And she would ensure no-one would ever hurt her or her family ever again.
Chapter 19: From Mother to Daughter
Revenge isn't always as satisfying as it should be.
mentions of rape
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Sága was wide awake when Loki returned from Vanaheim. She was sat up in bed, eyes red-rimmed, hair tousled, looking gaunt and pale and as though she had seen a ghost. Her appearance instantly set Loki on edge.
“Flower?” he asked quietly, being mindful not to wake up Nari, who was on his front with his bum in the air, snoring and drooling over Loki’s favourite pillow. “Did you have a bad dream?”
“I don’t think it was a dream.” Sága clenched and unclenched her hands, visibly disturbed. “I think it was a memory. A memory from my mother.”
Loki’s heart sank.
“You went to Sökkvabekkr.” She didn’t ask, she just seemed to know. Wordlessly, Loki sat down next to her on the bed, placing one hand on her thigh, keeping quiet as she continued to speak. “My mother cursed him, didn’t she?”
“According to Skaði… yes.” There was no point in lying now. “Sága-”
“I told her it wasn’t her fault.”
That took Loki by surprise.
“You told her…?”
“I told her to seek vengeance. I was the one who made her curse him. It’s my fault he’s the way he is.”
Her monotonous tone was unnerving him. Loki took her head in his hands, staring intently into her golden eyes, which were dimmer than usual. “You couldn’t have, darling. You couldn’t have…”
“Maybe it’s the Norns. Maybe it’s something else. Maybe… I don’t know.” Sága shed a single tear. “I told her it wasn’t her fault. And it wasn’t. It wasn’t her fault.” She looked into his eyes, shakily reaching out to touch him, as though to make sure he was real. “It wasn’t my fault, either. It wasn’t my fault.”
He pulled her into his arms and let her weep softly, finally glad that the burden that had been weighing her down for far too long was finally being lifted. He knew then that she would be better now. He knew now that she would be strong enough to face the prospect of dealing with her mad father. He kissed her then and there, shedding tears of his own.
“Tomorrow. Tomorrow, I want us to start trying for a baby. I want another child, Loki. And nobody, not Bragi, not Malekith, not anyone, is going to stop us from having another baby.”
Loki laughed. “Tomorrow,” he promised. “Tomorrow, we’ll spend the entire day in bed if we have to.”
They fell asleep with laughter in their mind and smiles on their lips, finally at peace with themselves, at least for the time being.
Sága found Bragi sitting in a wheelchair in the royal gardens, watched over by a few Einherjar who were lingering in the shadows just out of his peripheral. His wrists were shackled to the chair regardless, along with his ankles, but it would do them well to still be on guard.
Placing a hand over the slight protrusion of her belly, Sága approached the gaunt red-haired man and came to a stop a few feet away, standing in front of him so he was forced to look at her. When he realised who it was, a tentative smile broke out over his gaunt face.
“So you’ve returned…where have you been?”
Sága arched an eyebrow. “It’s really none of your concern where I’ve been, Bragi,” she answered curtly. If he seemed startled by her tone of voice, he didn’t show it. He just continued smiling that same tentative smile that started to grate on her nerves. “I want to know why you raped my mother.”
That broke him out of his delirious state of mind.
His eyes visibly darkened.
“What did you just say?” he muttered.
“You heard me, Bragi. Answer the question before I grow bored and toss you off the Bifrost.” She crossed her arms, standing straight, never daring to look away from him and his vindictive glower. “Why did you force my mother to serve your own whims?”
“She wanted every single moment of it!” he spat out.
“Do you honestly believe your own lies?” Sága shook her head in disbelief. “You are a Skald, you have the power to manipulate people. Most Skalds can only charm a crowd to improve their mood. But you, you, Bragi, you’re a master manipulator. A God of Poetry whose twisted little words are used to get what he wants, because how else would he get anything? You’re a weak, scrawny piece of nothing.”
“If I’m nothing, then what does that make you?” Bragi retorted.
“Better than you, that’s for sure.” Sága smirked at the glare he shot her. “Did you honestly believe you could manipulate me, Bragi? Running to my home screaming that my mother was still alive, when I know for certain that she is safe and sound in Valhalla. Do you want to know how I know that?”
He didn’t say anything, but she took that as a yes regardless.
“I went to Hel. And whilst I was in Hel, I was gifted with the power of the Lightbringer. I was given my dead mother’s abilities. I have been manipulated before. I have been taken by men who want to use me and abuse me. You hurt my mother. You hurt her so much she thought it was her fault. But it wasn’t. It was never her fault. It was all your fault. And I am going to ensure you never hurt anyone ever again.”
“Are you going to kill me?” Bragi hissed, trying to provoke her into anger. “Are you going to curse me like your whore of a mother did? Did you know she was sleeping with most of the other Valkyrie?”
Sága shrugged. “So long as it’s consensual, I don’t give a damn.”
He glared hatefully at her then. “You know, I know all the rumours about you. About your dalliances on Alfheim. About that Jötunn witch who raised you. About the fact you shun your true heritage. You’re a pathetic hybrid, you’re a disgusting unlovable bitch.”
Sága started laughing. “You’re losing your touch, Bragi. Do you think your empty words can hurt me? I know who I am. I am Sága, daughter of Hildegunn the Lightbringer, descended from the Vanir, the Jötnar, the Æsir, the Storm Giants. I am Sága, Goddess of Wisdom, Queen of Jotunheim. Mother of Nari. Wife of the Trickster God. Lightbringer.” She whispered the final word, a small smile landing on her features. “I am the Lightbringer now, Bragi. And I intend to continue our Legacy. I am going to curse you, Bragi. I am going to ensure you suffer until Ragnarök itself tears apart these realms. And I am going to live my life knowing that I am loved by my family, knowing that I am wanted and needed, knowing that I am better than men like you.”
And with one fluid motion, she used her powers to pull vines and roots from the earth. Bragi, unable to move an inch, became surrounded by vines, the roots piercing into him and crawling through his body, worming their way into his veins, soaking up his blood, even as tendrils reached into Bragi’s brain and completely overpowered him.
Sága leaned forward, staring into his darting eyes, the only part of him he had any control over. She gave a wide, vicious grin. “I’ll have you moved somewhere less out in the open. I don’t want my children to have nightmares about you.” She flicked his nose and laughed mercilessly. “I hope you enjoy eternity, Bragi. I certainly will.”
And she turned around and didn’t look back once, smiling to herself even as tears fell thick and fast down her cheeks. It was over. It was finally over, wasn’t it?
She didn’t want to know where he had been taken. She was just glad he was gone. Still, she felt haunted by the image of him, more plant than man. Was she turning into her own father? Was she becoming a monster like him?
No. No, because why else would she feel this guilty? A monster didn’t feel guilt, did they?
It was never going to be over, her mental turmoil. But she could at least learn to live every day knowing that her children were safe from that man, knowing that she would do anything to keep her family safe.
Back home in Utgard, she decided to take a trip to the hot springs with Nari and the other Mothers. It was a common meeting place for the Mothers and their endless supply of children, mostly because it was the easiest place to clean their children while also having a good old fashioned gossip with each other in the process.
She was brushing Nari’s unruly dark hair when she overheard Irma saying to Fárbauti, “Did you hear the old shaman say that the next royal child would be a female?”
“Don’t believe silly rumours, Irma!” Fárbauti scolded.
“Wait, is this about my baby?” Sága asked, interrupting their moment.
Irma nodded before Fárbauti could stop her. “Yes! There’s this old shaman, I can’t remember her name, but she’s had a vision of the next royal child being a daughter for the King.”
If what Irma said was true…
“I’m having a sister?” Nari said, his interest piqued.
“I… I suppose you are, yes…” Sága didn’t quite know how to process this new information. It could have been wrong anyway. But still… she hoped the old shaman was right.
She wanted the baby growing inside her womb to be a girl.
“So I hear we’re having a daughter,” Loki said as he sauntered into the dining room later that day. Sága, who was in the process of trying to coax Nari into eating his root vegetables, merely made a noncommittal hum to acknowledge her husband’s presence.
Loki bent down and pinched some food off of Nari’s plate. “Mmm!” He made an exaggerated show of rubbing his belly. “It’s delicious!”
Nari, convinced by his father’s antics, started eating his vegetables, smacking his lips together loudly as he crunched on his food. “Imma have a sister!” he said, spitting bits of food everywhere.
“No speaking while eating, please.” Sága wiped the table clean where he had spat out some of his food. “And there’s no guarantee the old shaman was right. It could be another boy.”
“No!” Nari wailed quite suddenly, almost deafening his parents. “I’m the boy! I’m your baby boy! Not the baby! Me!”
“I wonder where he gets that attitude from,” Sága whispered into Loki’s ear. He rolled his eyes, not deigning to answer his wife.
“I want to name the baby!” Nari continued, oblivious to his parents. “Imma name her… hmmm… get back to me on that!”
Loki chuckled, ruffling his son’s hair affectionately. “Take your time, son. We’ve got a few months to decide on an appropriate name.”
“Huh?” Loki and Nari looked to Sága, who had a faraway look in her eyes.
“Dagny. New day.”
Loki considered the name for a moment.
“I like it,” he murmured. “Dagny Lokadottir. It seems rather fitting. So, little Dagny…” He leaned down and placed his hand on the slight bump of Sága’s belly. “I cannot wait to meet you.”
Loki hadn’t been there during Sága’s final months being pregnant with Nari. If he had been there, he would never have allowed her to leave their bed.
He couldn’t get enough of her. He was intoxicated by how round and soft she was. How responsive she was, how sensitive she was. How he could drink the milk that would soon be feeding their newborn baby. She was dripping wet for him all the time, and he was utterly insatiable, lusting after her morning, noon, and night.
He had her on her hands and knees, thrusting into her with wild abandon, skin slapping hard against skin in such a satisfactory way it made him burn all over. “I’m going to keep your belly full, Flower…” he gasped. “I’m going to keep you full with my seed, we’re going to have a whole army of children, we’re going to have our own special family, just you, me, and our children. Together. Always.”
“Oh Gods…!” Sága threw her head back, sobbing out as her orgasm surged through her. “Come in me, Loki, make me yours… make me all yours… fill me up… fill me up, please! Please!”
“Always,” he grunted. “Always.”
Dagny was born during one of the worst winter storms in Jotunheim’s recorded history. They had retreated deep into the Keep to stay warm and safe, with the Mothers assisting in the birth of the new princess.
She was squalling and blue and dark haired, but when her eyes opened, they were as gold as Sága’s and Nari’s were. She was just as tiny as Nari had been when he had been born all that time ago in the treasury in the Eastern Spires. She was just as frail and delicate, but with a powerful set of lungs that would put the most bloodthirsty berserker to shame.
She was their daughter. And she was the start of a new day in their lives.
She hadn’t been able to experience this with Nari. She hadn’t been able to enjoy having her newborn baby resting against her bosom, drinking from her breast for the first time. Malekith had taken all that away from her. But now, now she got to experience it all for the first time. She wasn’t terrified of her baby being taken away. She was safe, she was safe with her family, with her baby daughter resting in her arms, belly full of milk.
“She’s so small…” Sága whispered in amazement to Loki, who smiled softly, kissing her brow. “She’s so perfect…”
“Just like you,” Loki whispered in return, smiling wider when the baby began to stir, giving an almighty yawn that made his heart melt. “I’m so proud of you, Sága. You did so well.”
“I couldn’t have done it without you.” Sága shed a few happy tears, sniffling as Loki pressed a loving kiss to her lips. “I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
“Neither do I.” He leaned down to kiss his daughter’s brow before standing up. “I’m going to check in with the twins, I need to ensure the storm hasn’t caused any substantial damage. I’ll be right back.”
“Take your time. We’re safe, just make sure everyone else is safe, too.”
Loki couldn’t resist stealing another kiss from her. “You are the Queen Jotunheim has always deserved.”
“I do my best.”
“Your best is more than enough.” Loki let his gaze linger on his family. On his beautiful wife. On his newborn daughter. On his son, who was sound asleep curled up next to his mother, drooling around his thumb. He never thought this would be possible. He felt like the luckiest man in the entire Nine Realms.
And in the end, that was what truly mattered. The love of a good woman, and most of all, a family of his own.
Life was good.
And he would do anything to ensure it stayed that way.
this was meant to be the original ending, but I decided I wasn't quite done with this beast just yet. Hope you're all enjoying it.
Chapter 20: Champion of the Mountain King
The trials and tribulations of two royal parents.
Having both Nari and Dagny causing mayhem in the halls of Utgard was something Loki wouldn’t trade for anything. However, having both Nari and his impressionable sister wander into one of the meeting halls during an intense argument with some of the giants from the coast proved to be the catalyst of Dagny’s decision to become her father’s personal champion.
Little Dagny, barely a year old, barely able to walk by herself, only able to utter a few syllables, believed herself powerful enough to protect her father from the wrath of the other Jötnar. Of course she was strong! Loki had assured her time and time again that she was the fiercest warrior in all the Nine Realms, and she was feared by the entirety of Jotunheim.
“Maybe we shouldn’t encourage violence in her just yet,” Sága commented one morning, when they had been witness to Dagny headbutting Nari in the stomach. Nari, despite being older and ‘tougher’, burst into tears and came running over to find some comfort in his mother’s arms.
“She’s a baby, Sága, she’s harmless.” Loki, however, didn’t quite believe his own words. Especially when he saw Dagny start chasing after one of the guards, who had dared to adjust the way he was holding his weapon, which apparently meant he was about to hurt her father. Loki sighed. “Perhaps you have a point.”
“There’s no perhaps about it, Loki.” Sága patted Nari’s back to soothe him as she shot her husband an impatient look. “You need to rein her in before this gets worse. She’s going to end up in serious trouble if we’re not careful.”
“Fine. Fine, I’ll… I’ll ensure she knows that she doesn’t need to protect me-”
“No, I didn’t mean-” Sága huffed, aggravated by her husband’s blatant stupidity. “I mean, tell her not to go around headbutting her brother or chasing after the guards! Tell her that once she’s old enough, she can start training to be your proper defender, if that’s what she desires. She clearly thinks your guards are inadequate, there’s no harm in giving her the correct training. What if she starts wielding knives? What if she stabs Nari?”
“Yes, fine, I understand.” Loki stood up, grumbling under his breath. He kissed the top of Nari’s head before kissing his wife’s lips. “Wish me luck.”
“Good luck.” Sága reached out to cup his cheek, pulling him down into another kiss. “I love you.”
“And I love you too.”
He found Dagny sitting on the floor in the middle of the corridor crying her eyes out. He quickened his pace, skidding to a halt when he fell to his knees and enveloped his baby into his arms.
“Oh, no no no…” He started kissing all over her little face. “Daggy, darling little girl, what’s the matter?”
“Dada!” She wailed, sniffling loudly into his tunic when she buried her head against him, sobbing profusely. It made Loki’s heart break.
“Oh… oh no… let’s get you back to Mama, yeah?”
She didn’t respond, but she didn’t need to. Loki stood up with his baby in his arms and hurried back the way he had come, racing towards the room where he had left his wife and son.
As soon as he burst into the room, he blurted out, “Baby’s crying!”
He all but tossed Dagny at Sága, who took one look at her before undoing her robes, bringing the baby to her breast. Dagny immediately latched on, suckling greedily, her grief apparently all but forgotten.
Loki squinted at the baby in disbelief.
“I don’t… she was in hysterics!”
“She probably got lost,” Sága murmured, pressing a kiss to her daughter’s head. “Did you get lost, Dagny?”
“See?” Sága glanced towards Nari, who was munching on a dry biscuit. “Why don’t you take Nari to the dining hall? We’ll be there once we’re finished.”
“Very well. Come along, Nari dear.” Loki took his son’s hand, laughing when the little boy insisted that he didn’t need to hold his hand. “It’s a condition of being my child, I’m afraid.”
“Fine!” Nari huffed. “I guess I’ll hold your stupid hand!”
Sága’s laughter could be heard as they left the room, the door swinging shut behind them.
“There’s been disturbances on the coast,” Eistla noted, reading from a long scroll.
“It helps if I know what these disturbances are,” Sága responded dryly, adjusting Dagny’s position on her lap. “Is it rival clans fighting? The weather? What?”
Eistla scowled at the Queen.
“If you’ll give me the chance to explain-”
“Eistla. I am tired, alright? You have been procrastinating for the past half hour, so get to the point or give me the scroll and get out.”
Eistla’s crimson eyes flashed dangerously, but she complied to her Queen’s wishes.
“There has been reported deaths in Gandvik Bay. Apparently, there is a sea serpent who has been destroying fishing vessels. Fish prices have gone up, the marketeers have been complaining. I suggest you have the King deploy some aid to the coast so they can deal with this accursed sea serpent.”
“Mhm.” Sága crooked her finger, gesturing for Eistla to pass her the scroll. “See how quick that explanation was, Eistla? It didn’t need all that fuss, did it? In the future, I suggest you show me the respect I deserve as your Queen. I know you don’t particularly care for me, but at least try to act civil.” She gave the seething Jötunn a pleasant smile that didn’t reach her eyes. “You are dismissed.”
Eistla spun on her heel and stormed out, cursing under her breath. The moment she was gone, Dagny raised her head from her mother’s bosom and glanced around curiously. “Mama?”
“Yes, darling?” Sága said tiredly.
“You so tuff!”
Sága smiled wanly. “One has to be when they’re Queen of Jotunheim, petal. Come, let’s go find your father, he’ll need to know all about this sea serpent.”
“You are not going to Gandvik, Loki!”
Loki scoffed. “And whyever not? Because I’m King and Kings shouldn’t get their hands dirty?”
“Come now, woman, don’t insult my intelligence. If you weren’t currently expecting a child, you’d be more than willing to go there and punch that sea serpent in its scaly face.”
Sága gave a noise of frustration.
“Why must you be so annoying?” she demanded. “I don’t particularly want some bloody sea serpent to devour my husband, forgive me for being selfish, but I’ve seen you die once before, I don’t intend to have you die for a second time!”
“You are overreacting. Your hormones are out of balance.” Loki knew he was toeing a very dangerous line right now, but the thought of being confined to Utgard for the rest of his days to alleviate his equally-as-reckless wife was something he didn’t want to stomach. “I am the most powerful sorcerer in living history.”
“So what? I doubt the sea serpent cares about that! All it cares about is making you its next meal!”
“You are overreacting…” he said in a sing-song tone, laughing quietly at the simmering fury burning in his wife’s brilliant golden eyes. “Stress is not good for the baby, Flower. You need to stop shouting.”
She angrily jabbed her finger into his chest. “I swear to the Norns, Loki, if you go ahead with this, I’ll never sleep with you ever again!”
“A risk I am willing to take.” He smirked. “You would be crawling into my bed within days, Flower. You truly are ridiculous, sometimes.”
“Loki! I mean it! Don’t go!” There were genuine tears in her eyes, but Loki merely shrugged it off as a result of the early stages of her pregnancy. “I have a bad feeling about this. Please don’t go. Please…”
“Oh, Flower…” he crooned, taking her hair in his hands and brushing it away from her face, smiling softly as she continued to shed a few tears. “You have a bad feeling about most things these days. Doing this small task will prove to the coastal Jötnar that their King is powerful. And you want me to be a powerful, well-respected King, don’t you?”
She nodded mutely, choking back a sob.
“Oh dear oh dear oh dear…” he tutted. “I will be gone barely a week, I promise you. Unless… hmmm…” A thought suddenly sprang to mind. “How would you feel about accompanying me on a little trip to the coast? As a show of goodwill? Ironwall Keep is said to be an impressive sight. And, it means I would be very close by… so I could sneak into your bed at night…” He bit his lip, suppressing a devious grin while his fingers tiptoed up her arm and came to rest against her chin. “Put my head between your luscious legs…” He leaned forward and nibbled her bottom lip, causing her to sigh. “And then fuck you senseless.”
She let out a strained whimper, eyelashes fluttering.
“You’re picking up Midgardian slang…” she murmured.
“Mmm…” He took her head in his hands and started kissing her slowly, tenderly, drawing her closer towards the bed. “And you never answered my question. Do you want to go on a little trip with me? We can bring the children, of course, and I’m sure Fárbauti wouldn’t mind babysitting the throne for a few weeks. Would you like that?”
“Mm...wait!” Sága stumbled a little as Loki pushed her onto the bed. “Mama’s coming tomorrow, I want to be here to greet her…”
“She can come with us.”
“Are you sure?”
“Oh, I’m quite sure.” He started working his hands under her robes, grinning salaciously when he started fondling her breasts greedily. “To think we’ll soon have another little one running around harassing the guards…”
Sága exhaled shakily, eyelids closing as her head fell back against the bed. “Mmm… keep doing that…”
“Doing what? Doing this?” He pinched her nipples, groping the soft flesh of her breasts until she started producing milk. Her breath stuttered, her knees riding up as she tried to pull him down onto her, her hands grasping blindly for him.
“Loki…” she whined. “ Please… ”
He unfastened the front of her robes, parting the silky material to expose her breasts in all their glory. He immediately latched his lips around one nipple, drinking greedily, lapping up the sweet milk that was used to strengthen his children, his babies. The thought made him impossibly hard, the thought that his wife, his beloved Flower, was pregnant with their third child… it made him giddy, insatiable.
Her chest was rising and falling rapidly, gasps catching in the back of her throat as she succumbed to the pleasure she was receiving from her husband. She pulled him away from her breast so she could start kissing him, grinding herself into his hard manhood, making a noise of impatience when she struggled to remove his trousers.
“Off!” she grunted. “Now!”
Chuckling deeply, Loki used his magic to relieve himself off his clothes. “Better?”
“Much.” She wasted very little time in bringing him into her, enveloping him in her wet, hot womanhood.
“Oh…” Loki shuddered, adjusting his position above her so he could sink even deeper into her. “Flower…”
He loved it when she had her robes on while he had his way with her. He loved being naked on top of her, dominating her, rutting into her with wild abandon. He loved her so much his heart soared with each and every gasp and moan that fell from her sweet, soft lips.
“Fill me up…” she babbled, nails dragging down the length of his back. “I want to feel you inside me for the rest of the day… please…”
“Oh… gods above! ” Loki gritted his teeth, smacking his hips down harder, grunting with each hard thrust. “Kiss me!” he demanded.
“Make me!” she retorted, eyes flashing brighter.
With a feral snarl, he flipped her onto her hands and knees and thrust into her without warning, bringing his palm down against her rear, grinning victoriously at the cry she let loose, at the way she clenched like a vice around him.
He pushed her head down into the pillow, forcing her backside higher into the air, pounding into her without mercy, without pause, his breath coming out in thick, harsh pants as he neared his end.
He leaned over her and bit down onto her shoulder as he came with a shudder, reaching underneath her to start rubbing her sensitive bundle of nerves. Sága cried out, bucking against his hand, her voice grower hoarser and more breathless as he drew her closer to her own end.
She writhed beneath him before collapsing with a final gasp, panting heavily to try and regain her breath. Loki, draping himself along her side, pressed chaste kisses against her shoulder before brushing her hair to one side, smirking at how flushed her features had become.
“Now then…” he said. “Have I convinced you to come to the coast with me?”
Sága shifted around and started kissing him, running her hands down his sides until she reached his backside and squeezed, causing him to let out a startled yelp. “Not quite yet,” she murmured against his lips, her nails sinking into the soft flesh of his rear. “I need a little bit more… persuading.”
“I’m sure that can be arranged.”
He was about to flip her onto her back when he abruptly found himself being flipped over instead, with his beautiful beloved wife straddling him in all her glory. His gaze drifted to her slight bump, which he leaned up to kiss, before trailing a long line of kisses up her torso and to her breasts, kissing each nipple in turn before ascending higher, until finally he reached her lips.
There had been a noticeable shift in his Queen since Dagny’s birth. She was more assertive, more sure of herself, and most of all, unafraid to speak her mind. This newfound confidence was intoxicating and alluring, and made Loki incredibly aroused whenever she decided she wanted to be in charge. Especially when those moments happened in the bedroom. It seemed Loki had discovered he had quite the submissive streak lurking within him.
But of course, being a King and Queen meant that moments such as these were few and far between, especially now that they had two children added to the fray. Two children which decided at that moment to barge into the room. Thankfully, Loki acted quickly, managing to redress both himself and his wife before the children could be traumatised.
“Mama!” Nari wailed, in floods of tears. “Daggy bit me!”
Loki let his head slump against the pillow with a defeated sigh.
“I told you not to bite your brother, Dagny!” Sága reprimanded, climbing off the bed so she could crouch down and face Dagny properly. The little girl merely giggled before catching her mother’s finger in her tiny hold, beaming at her with such a mischievous smile it instantly reminded Sága of Loki. Clearly, what Nari lacked in Loki’s influence, Dagny had in spades.
“Dagny, this is your last warning. If you bite your brother again, I won’t allow you to train with your father for the next two months.”
“Mama!” Dagny looked aghast by that. “No!”
“I’ll make it three,” Sága warned.
“No!” Dagny burst into tears. “No! Mama, NO!”
“Serves you right!” Nari chimed in, sticking his tongue out at his sister, who screamed incoherently in return.
“Nari, don’t provoke her.” Sága shot him a look, but the little boy ignored her, more interested in taunting his sister. “If you two don’t behave, I won’t let you go on our trip to the coast.”
That piqued their interest.
“Coast?” Nari asked, eyes wide with excitement. “What trip to the coast?”
“The one your father and I just arranged. We’re going to spend a few weeks at Ironwall Keep. Well, we are, your father’s going to be dealing with… a slippery situation in Gandvik.” Sága explained.
She was then practically deafened by the sound of her two children screaming at the top of their lungs, as they jumped onto the bed and started bouncing, both of them landing on Loki, who gave a grunt of discomfort when they both decided to crush his chest.
“I think they’re pleased,” Sága commented.
“Clearly.” Loki winced when Nari stepped on a rather intimate part of his body. “I can’t wait.”
Chapter 21: The Sea Lord's Keep
A trip to the coast takes a surprising turn...
Upon the back of a sled pulled by two fearsome albino muskox, leading the caravan that was heading through the mountain pass that would eventually bring them to the coast, Loki allowed himself a few moments to enjoy his surroundings.
Jotunheim was beautiful, in a savage, barbaric way. Dangerous and deadly, but with such beautiful peaks and valleys and forests and frozen lakes. If the Æsir could see this side of Jotunheim, would they have thought it to be so barren and lifeless? Perhaps they would still have been convinced that the Jötnar were savages, sometimes it was difficult to shrug off lifelong prejudices.
By his side was Nari, who was strapped to the sled so he wouldn’t fling himself out and over the edge of the cliff. His dark hair was blowing in the breeze, his golden eyes wide and alert, a smile curling his soft lips that reminded Loki always of Sága. Loki placed his hand on Nari’s back and started pointing out parts of the area, including a few birds flying high in the sky, who were circling their caravan no doubt curious to see if there was any food for them to scavenge and pinch.
In the sled behind theirs were Sága, Dagny, and Angrboða. Loki glanced in their direction, smiling when he saw both his wife and daughter marveling at the scenery in much the same manner as he and Nari were. Sága caught him looking at her, and instead of smiling, offered him a rude gesture which made him laugh. He responded by blowing a kiss, which caused her to smile and shake her head with fond amusement.
Around midday, Loki pulled out some meat and dried crackers for himself and Nari to sup on. As they ate, the snow began to fall, turning their dark hair more and more white. When it looked as though the snow wouldn’t be letting up any time soon, Loki pulled the tarp up, sheltering them from the elements.
Nari, who was tucked up by his side, let out a sigh before saying, “I don’t wanna be King.”
“Yeah. I wanna be like Mummy. Like… uh… I dunno…” Nari blushed, hiding his head from view.
“Nari, darling, what do you mean?” Loki gently coaxed Nari into looking at him, upset to discover the tears pouring down the little boy’s cheeks.
“I don’t wanna be a boy anymore…” he whimpered. “I don’t like it… I don’t wanna be King… wanna be me…”
He had not anticipated this revelation today.
“Well…” Loki began, taking his time to choose the right words to say. “Sometimes, I don’t feel like being a boy, either. Sometimes, I want to be a girl. Which I suppose is easier for me because I can shapeshift. I’m what people might call gender-fluid. Although I identify for the most part as a boy, sometimes I don’t want to put a name on what I am. Is that how you feel?”
“A little…” Nari sniffled, wiping his eyes with the back of his hand. “I don’t wanna be a girl, though. Girls are mean. Like Daggy.”
“Hm.” Nari let out a world weary sigh. “I don’t wanna be King, either. I don’t wanna rule when you die. So don’t die, Daddy. I know you’re gonna fight a big snake.”
“How do you know that?”
“I heard Mama telling Aggy about it this morning.”
“Ah.” Loki scratched the back of his head. “Nari-”
“You don’t need to prove you’re a capa- a cappy ball king, Daddy.” Nari assured him. “But you gotta do what you gotta do, right?”
“Right…” Loki blinked, surprised by his son’s words of wisdom. “So, does that mean I have your blessing?”
Loki chuckled. “I’m glad.”
Sága was quite frankly grateful that she’d had the foresight to bring Bygul along for the trip, because he kept Dagny distracted, and meant the little girl wasn’t causing a fuss. Although she utterly adored her daughter, she was a nightmare in situations where she was confined to one place for hours at a time.
“She takes after her father a lot,” Angrboða commented. “He was always fidgeting and squirming when he was her age. Of course, that was before you were born, so you wouldn’t recall how terrible he was as a baby.”
“I gathered as much.” Sága drawled. “She looks a lot like him. It’s funny, isn’t it? How Dagny looks like Loki and Nari looks like me.”
“I wonder who this little one will look like.” Angrboða placed her cerulean hand upon Sága’s belly, smiling fondly. “Are you thinking of keeping it to three children, or are you two too lustful to stop mating like rabbits in heat?”
“Mama!” Sága gasped, blushing profusely. “Don’t be so crass!”
Angrboða just gave a laugh in response.
When it came close to nightfall, the caravan came to a shuddering stop, the Jötnar that were accompanying the royal caravan already setting up a camp for the night in the shelter of a cavern. It was a regular stopping off spot for those traversing the mountain pass, and one well-suited to sheltering large groups of people.
Sága, glad to be able to stretch her legs, carried a drowsy Dagny over towards where Loki and Nari were lingering. Loki looked at them both, a strange expression on his face. When he bent to kiss her, he whispered, “I need to speak to you about something later.”
She gave a subtle nod, knowing that he meant it was a conversation they would be having once the children were sound asleep. She rubbed his arm, having missed touching him, smiling faintly when he kissed her brow before relieving her of Dagny.
After a simple meal, they all retired for the night, with Angrboða bringing the children to stay in her tent for the night.
Snuggled under a pile of furs, Loki held his wife close to him as he murmured, “Nari told me he doesn’t want to be King.”
“He told me he wants to be a farmer,” Sága murmured in return. “I wouldn’t dwell too much on it just yet.”
“That wasn’t all…” Loki sighed. “He says he doesn’t feel like being a boy sometimes.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, he said that sometimes he doesn’t want to be a boy.”
“So… a bit like you, then?”
Loki gave an almost imperceptible nod.
“I’m glad he could confide in you,” she whispered, sounding rather sleepy.
“Mm… me too…” He stifled a yawn. “He also told me I didn’t need to fight the sea serpent to prove I’m a ‘cappy ball’ king.”
“Maybe you should listen to your son,” Sága mumbled. “He’s clever, like his mother…”
“I’ll think about it…”
Ironwall Keep was situated upon towering rock stacks that protruded out of the stormy seas, balanced rather precariously although Loki assured her it was quite safe, due to those of a magical inclination who ensured the continued survival of the Keep.
It was a strange Keep in many ways, acting as a lighthouse, a shelter for those on the coast during storms, and as the main hub of the region. Crossing the bridge into the keep itself was something that made Sága’s stomach roil unpleasantly. She wasn’t fond of heights at the best of times, but being made to traverse over a bridge suspended high above the raging sea… it wasn’t something she’d like to get familiar with.
They were greeted by Niskus, the Lord of Ironwall, who was a surprisingly lean and lithe Frost Giant who was only a little bit taller than Loki was. He had stark white hair, which instantly reminded Sága of Skaði.
“Welcome to Ironwall Keep, your Majesties,” Niskus proclaimed, daring to kiss the Queen’s hand before greeting the King, who was more amused than anything. “I trust your journey was safe?”
“It was indeed. Thank you for allowing my family to visit your home. It has been quite some time since I have been to the coast, and I thought it prudent to bring the children along to introduce them to you and your own family.” Loki donned his most charming smile, which seemed to win Niskus over.
Niskus led them through the entryway and into the grey interior of the Keep. Nari, clinging to his father’s hand, caught sight of a little Jötunn girl who waved at him shyly. He blushed, waving back at her, before blinking in surprise when another three almost identical little girls appeared from behind her.
“Ah, these must be your quadruplets.” Sága smiled down at the four girls before glancing to Niskus, who nodded proudly. “What are their names?”
“Acionna, Henwen, Olwen, and Tava. Girls, this is Queen Sága and her husband King Loki, and these two are Prince Nari and Princess Dagny.”
“Hello Queen Sága!” the four chorused as one, and much to Loki’s bemusement, he watched as his wife was pulled away from him by the quads, who were apparently rather fond of her. When he looked to Niskus questioningly, he simply smiled knowingly.
Loki also happened to notice that both Nari and Dagny were put out by the quads apprehending their mother. He watched Dagny narrow her golden eyes, and then she barreled her way through them to get to her mother, shrieking incoherently at the top of her lungs.
“Dagny! Don’t be so rude!” Sága scolded. “We are guests in their home, be more respectful. I thought we taught you better than this!”
Dagny stomped her foot in frustration, a tantrum brewing.
“You my Mama!”
“I know, Dagny-”
“MAMA MINE!” Dagny rounded on the four girls, who recoiled, startled by the princess’s behaviour. “GO ‘WAY!”
“I’m sorry, Mister Niskus…” Nari whispered to the dumbfounded lord. “Daggy’s a little brat.”
One of the quads burst into tears then, and Loki realised he had to intervene before Dagny cost them an alliance with the coastal giants.
“Dagny.” He grabbed his thrashing daughter and carried her away from the group, struggling to hold her due to her kicking him repeatedly in the face. Once he set her down, he kept a firm grip on her, bending down so he was on her eye level. “Dagny, do you want to be known as a brat for the rest of your life?”
“Dagny, this is important. You cannot behave like that with other children.”
He was getting nowhere with her.
“Fine. If you don’t care, we’ll just send you back to Utgard with Angrboða, hm?”
Dagny glowered at him, too stubborn for her own good. He knew Sága believed Dagny took after him, but right here, right now, she was the spit of her mother. Stubborn to a fault.
He sighed wearily before standing up and calling for Angrboða, who had been standing nearby observing them all. “Angrboða, would you mind taking her royal brattiness back to Utgard? I’m sure you can find something useful for her to do while we’re away.”
Dagny had tears in her eyes, but she refused to back down it seemed. Loki was actually convinced she would end up returning to Utgard without them.
“Very well.” Angrboða made to pick Dagny up, but then the little girl burst into tears and spun around, fleeing all the way back to Nari, who was startled when his sister clung onto him and hugged him for dear life.
“NAAA! DON’T WANNA GO! DON’T WANNA GO BAAAAACK!”
“Daggy…” came the soft voice of Sága. Loki watched his wife sit on the floor, not caring about the dirt or the attention they were receiving. She gently coaxed the little girl away from Nari, who hurried over to his father, looking completely confused by what had just transpired. “Look at me, please.”
Dagny, sobbing profusely, shook her head.
“Please…” Sága cooed. “For me?”
Dagny raised her head, nose runny, eyes watering, cheeks soaking wet. “Mama…” she whimpered pathetically. “Mama mine…”
“I am, yes.” Sága cradled her little head in her hands. “I’m yours, always.”
“Mine… no them.” She gestured towards the quads, who were huddled around Niskus looking perplexed. “You mine.”
“I know, darling. They were just saying hello, nothing more. They have their own mother.” Sága took out a tissue and started wiping Dagny’s face clean. “You’ll always be my little girl.”
“Kay…” Dagny nuzzled into her neck, still letting out a few sobs. “Stay wiff you, Mama.”
“Of course, petal.”
After Dagny’s meltdown, the quads went off along with a rather relieved Nari and Angrboða, leaving Dagny with her parents and Niskus, who didn’t seem to mind about the incident. In fact, when Sága was busy showing Dagny the view over the ocean, Niskus turned to Loki and said, “She’s a possessive one, isn’t she?”
“Indeed.” He had a funny feeling he’d be given a reminder later that day who his daughter had picked that particular trait from. “I hope your daughters weren’t too upset.”
“Oh, no, they’re fine. Olwen’s always quick to tears, I’m sure they’ll be fast friends before we know it.”
“I can only hope.” Loki glanced at his daughter, who was smiling and laughing in his wife’s arms. “She’s a bit of a brute, to be honest. She torments Nari endlessly.”
“Aye, but she’ll grow out of it.”
“I’m not sure.” Loki chuckled. “She bullies the guards because they don’t ‘protect’ me enough.”
“Takes after her mother, then.” Niskus smirked when Loki shot him a puzzled look. “We all know the stories of how fierce your Queen is, Loki. It’s why the girls are so excited for her to be here. Their mother’s constantly telling them about the Mothers and the Queen ruling Jotunheim for the better. Of course, you’re mentioned, but… they’re more fond of hearing about your wife’s exploits.”
A small cough caught their attention then. One of the quads, who Loki found out from Niskus was Tava, smiled hesitantly up at her father. “Papa,” she began in a sweet lilting voice, “Can I say hello to the princess?”
“Of course, Tava.”
Tava skipped over to Sága and tugged on her dress. “Lady Sága,” she said, “May I say hello to the princess?”
Sága smiled and nodded, setting Dagny down on the floor. Dagny blinked owlishly, seeming a bit surprised to see one of the quads. She glanced uneasily from Tava to her mother, who gave her a nod of encouragement.
“Hi…” Dagny said uncertainly.
“Hi!” Tava answered much more enthusiastically. “I’m Tava!”
“Dagny,” Sága whispered to Tava, who nodded politely.
“Dagny, would you like to play with me? My sisters are with your boring brother, they’re so boring! I wanna show you my pet gull, he’s so cool! He’s always pooping on Papa!”
Dagny’s eyes lit up wide.
“I wanna see poopy bird! Mama, I’m gunna see poopy bird! Bye!” She grabbed Tava by the hand, the two of them running off giggling loudly. Sága was left staring after them, stunned.
“I didn’t expect that,” she admitted after a moment.
Loki linked his arm through hers, smirking at the look on her face. “Don’t worry, Flower, she’s still your little girl.”
Sága didn’t say anything.
“So, this Keep was built by Ægir?” Sága asked, surprised by the revelation.
Niskus nodded, chuckling heartily as he handed his wife Unn some fish stew. “Aye, Ægir was known as the Sea Lord in these parts. He was such an old soul when he went off to live on Vanaheim. Which means we’re distant cousins, in a manner of speaking.”
“Oh?” Sága reached for a mussel and broke open the shell. “Are you a relation to Ægir?”
“He was my grandfather’s cousin. And on Unn’s side, Ægir was her great-uncle. It seems you have more Jötunn blood in you than you realised,” Niskus jested, earning a smile from Sága.
“It appears so.”
“This is delicious,” Angrboða said, holding up a mug full of rich, creamy milk. “What exactly is it?”
“Seal’s milk,” Unn explained. Unn was a stunning Jötunn lady with dyed dark blue hair woven into intricate braids. She was taller than her husband, and was also the one in charge of the Keep, which no doubt explained the quad’s enthusiastic greeting towards Sága. “We allow our druids to harvest the milk during the breeding season, and we keep it stored in large vats during the winter months.”
“It’s delicious.” Angrboða took a deep gulp before setting the mug down. “It must be quite the commodity.”
“Oh, it is,” Unn agreed. “The quads were supplemented with seal milk when they were newborns, because I couldn’t produce enough by myself.” Unn then turned her attention onto Sága. “I hear you are with child again, Sága.”
“Indeed I am.” Sága smiled brightly. “Only a couple of months, however.”
“Well, congratulations!” Unn laughed when the quads imitated her. “They were rather excited to meet you, I hope they didn’t cause a scene.”
“Oh, no, they were good as gold.” Sága glanced towards Dagny, who was sitting next to Tava, the pair of them covered in muck and feathers. Before she could say anything else, Nari arrived alongside Loki, who had apparently thought it prudent to change out of his travel wear and into something more ‘battle-worthy’.
“I’m afraid I cannot linger long,” Loki announced. “Myself and Nari have a little quest in Gandvik to attend to.”
Sága’s smile faltered.
“Yes, dear?” he smiled innocently.
She couldn’t very well cause a scene in front of Niskus and Unn’s family, and she knew he had done this deliberately so she wouldn’t try to stop him from taking Nari. She merely painted on a smile and said, “Be safe.”
Loki quirked a brow. “We will be. Nari insisted on coming along, he says he wants to explore more of the coast.”
“Aye, be safe you two.” Niskus patted his belly, laughing as he added, “And don’t get eaten by Jörmungandr!”
“We won’t,” they intoned.
Sága somehow doubted that very much.
Ironwall Keep inspo:
Chapter 22: Fishing with Father
Loki and Nari go fishing.
“I’m going to kill him.”
Angrboða smiled patiently, letting Sága get it all out of her system. She, too, would have been just as angry as her daughter was. After all, there hadn’t been any discussion about Nari accompanying Loki on a ridiculous quest to prove himself by killing a sea serpent.
“Nari will be safe with his father,” she assured Sága, who didn’t seem convinced.
“Mama, this is serious! I can’t lose them both!” Sága slumped onto her bed, clasping a hand over her mouth to muffle herself. “How could he do this to me? Nari’s not old enough! He’s going to get hurt!”
“Sága…” Angrboða sighed. “Have faith in your husband. He would never let Nari be hurt. He loves that boy just as much as you do. Have some faith.”
Loki rolled his eyes.
“I find it rather therapeutic.”
Loki sighed. “Nevermind.”
It seemed like a great idea at the time, spending some quality bonding time with his son whilst also proving himself as the competent King that he was. Now, however, Loki wished more than ever that he’d left Nari back in Ironwall. Nari, however, had been very persuasive, because apparently he wanted to impress the quads by bringing back one of the sea serpent’s teeth to show off his prowess.
Perhaps he shouldn’t have spent quite so much time with his uncle Thor.
Besides, there was also the ramifications once they got back. Sága would kill him no doubt for pulling such a stunt on her. At least he could hope for a swift death at the hands of the sea serpent. He’d prefer it to suffering his wife’s wrath.
Gandvik Bay was utterly miserable and bleak and wet and rainy and Loki was just as miserable as Nari was, but he didn’t want to admit defeat. They hadn’t seen a hint of the infamous sea serpent, and he was starting to believe it was all a big hoax.
After five minutes, Nari huffed in frustration. “This is boring, Daddy! If I thought I’d be fishing with you, I’d have stayed with the brat!”
Loki was on the verge of giving up and calling it a day when all of a sudden, Nari’s fishing rod started to bend. His son’s eyes widened almost comically.
“Daddy! Daddy, I got a tug!”
“Hold steady, sapphire!” Loki set his own fishing rod down and was about to reach out to help Nari when quite suddenly, his son was yanked over the side of the boat, entering the water with barely a splash.
Loki stared at the spot where his son had been.
Sága was going to kill him.
Both Dagny and Tava had become fast friends, much to Sága’s surprise and delight. Watching them play together was a joyous sight, watching her little girl actually being nice to someone without threatening to headbutt them was just an added bonus.
Unn was there, braiding the hair of Acionna, the eldest of the quadruplets. Acionna smiled at Sága, who smiled back, pleased when the young girl asked, “Is it true you’ve fought elementals?”
“Yes, it is. The first one I fought was an air elemental on Midgard. I was accompanied by the King of Asgard, Thor. Together, we defeated the elemental and brought the heart to a place called Bubesheim in Nornheim.”
“Wow!” Acionna gasped in amazement, while the other girls, including Dagny, had their attention aroused by talk of elementals. “You’re so powerful, Lady Sága.”
“Well…” Sága, attempting to appear humble, could only smile sheepishly. “I have my moments.”
“Mama so tuff!” Dagny interrupted, golden eyes gleaming. “Mama fight bad guys!”
“As Queen, I’m constantly facing challenges on a daily basis.” Sága explained to the quads and Unn, who seemed grateful that Sága was humouring her children, not that she minded, because when four young girls idolised her, who was she to turn down the opportunity to impress them with some of the tales of her past deeds?
“Is it true you were taught by Jörð?” Henwen asked. “Papa says she was the Goddess of the Earth, she said the elements wept when she died.”
Sága smile faintly. “I think we all wept when she passed away,” she said softly. “I was born with a proficiency for naturalistic magic, not quite a druid because I could never shapeshift, but not quite a shaman either. A weird blend of the two, I suppose. My Mama… Angrboða, she realised that I would need to be taught by someone who understood the powers I possessed, so I was brought to Klaustur to be taught by Jörð. She was a very good teacher, she cared for me dearly, and I owe her so much.” Her smile faded a little. “It is all I can do now to uphold her legacy and ensure the continued safety of nature and the elements.”
When she looked up, she saw the four quadruplets gazing at her in awe, while Dagny was smiling warmly, pride glinting in her eyes. Sága was quite relieved when she came scurrying towards her, climbing into her lap and cuddling up to her. “Mama so brave…” she whispered, for Sága’s ears only.
She didn’t always feel brave. But when Dagny said it, Sága knew she had to at least pretend to be brave. If not for her sake, then for her daughter’s sake.
It felt like an eternity had passed him by, when actually, it had only been seconds. The surface of the water broke as the almighty head of a venomous sea serpent burst into the air, Nari clinging onto his fishing rod, the line lodged around one of the serpent’s teeth.
“Daddy!” he wailed hysterically. “DADDY!”
Loki acted immediately.
Shifting into the form of an eagle, he threw himself into the air and grasped onto his boy’s shoulders, pulling with all his might to free him from the grip of the sea serpent. He squawked in frustration, wishing the boy would let go of the line, until he realised something.
Nari’s ankle was wrapped around the fishing line. And if Loki kept pulling, his son could lose his foot.
Shifting back into his regular form, using his magic to keep himself levitated, Loki exclaimed, “How in the Hel did you get your ankle wrapped around the fishing line?!”
“I don’t know! Stop yelling at me!”
“I’m not yelling at you!”
“Yes you are! You’re yelling right now!”
“I’m not-” Loki was cut off by the sudden realisation that the sea serpent was right before them, not doing anything. “Nari, hold your breath.”
“Just do it!”
“But I don’t-” Nari cut himself off with a scream as the sea serpent dived down, bringing him with it. Loki shifted into the form of an orca, swimming after them both as the sea serpent dragged his flailing, bubble-spewing son deeper and deeper into the cold depths of the ocean.
He had been a fool to think it was wise to bring Nari along. He had been a complete and utter fool! He was no competent King, he wasn’t even a competent father! His son was going to drown, and here he was, wallowing away in his misery, being useless as ever! He was completely and utterly-
A strange burst of light interrupted his thoughts. As he swam closer, using all his strength because the sea serpent was a significantly faster swimmer than he was, he caught sight of his son Nari sending out bolts of strange greenish light that started whacking the sea serpent, focusing on the amber eyes, which narrowed dangerously.
One caught the serpent in the eye, and the sudden shock rippled throughout the creature’s long, scaled body. It opened its maw wide, as though preparing to devour his son, but Loki took his chance then. Shifting back into his regular form, he tugged on the line, pulling harder and harder to try and dislodge it from the serpent’s jaw, when quite suddenly, the tooth it was wrapped around broke free. Not taking the opportunity to be stunned by that, Loki grabbed his son and concentrated, the serpent snapping at the space they had filled mere seconds before as both father and son teleported directly back to the shoreline.
Collapsing together, Nari finally let go of the rod while Loki cut the line, freeing his bruised ankle. Both of them still panting and struggling to regain their breath, Loki picked up the large, sharp tooth of the serpent and showed it to Nari, who gave a weak smile before slumping down, exhausted.
They might not have dealt with the serpent just yet, but at least they had caught themselves a little trophy.
Chapter 23: Mother Knows Best
Dealing with the fallout following Loki and Nari's fishing trip.
Unn had decided to show Sága some of the sights of the coastline, leaving Niskus and Angrboða to look after the five girls for the day. It was quite liberating, two mothers finding time to spend together without their children, aside from the one growing inside Sága’s belly, of course.
“Ægir was something of a storm sorcerer,” Unn stated, helping Sága scale the small cliff side which led them in the direction of a pebbled beach which would be packed with seals during the breeding season. “He was the one who set about constructing the enchantments which keep Ironwall secure. Our role now is to simply ensure they are maintained and regulated. We’ve had one failure over the years, which resulted in the collapse of that section of the Keep.” She pointed to a broken section of the rock stacks that the Keep was balanced upon. “But since then, we have been extra vigilant.”
“I think it’s both impressive and mad,” Sága admitted. “Though mostly because I am not fond of heights.”
Unn chuckled. “I gathered as much from your expression when we crossed the bridge.”
They continued onwards, traversing over the craggy rocks and pebbles, coming to a halt to observe a small gathering of young Jötnar sitting in a circle near the lapping waves.
“Who are they?” Sága asked.
“Those are the Samkona, they frequently gather here to celebrate the elements and to protect the local wildlife.” Unn offered Sága her hand, assisting her down the path and in their direction. “They are also my children.”
“You have more children? Forgive me, I thought the quadruplets were your only children.”
Unn laughed good-naturedly. “Oh, no no! They are my only children with Niskus, but I was mated before him, to Alvaldi. He perished many years ago during a particularly troublesome Storm. He left me with five beautiful children, so at least his legacy lives on.”
The five young Jötnar all stood as one, and as they drew nearer, Sága could recognise traits they shared with their mother. All of them appeared to have dyed dark blue hair aside from the only male, who also seemed to be the smallest of the group.
“Samkona!” Unn called out as she and Sága neared them. The circle broke, allowing them to join them. “This is Sága. Sága, this is Urien-” she gestured to the only boy, who nodded politely. “Cigfa, Mongfind, Bec, and Damona.”
“How are you finding staying at Ironwall?” Damona asked politely.
“It is certainly an experience,” Sága admitted. “May I ask the purpose of this gathering?”
“We commune with the sea,” Cigfa explained. “We have a deep connection with the ocean because of our father. He was born of the sea.”
“Ah, like the Midgardian deity who was born from the ocean waves?” Sága asked.
“I suppose…” Cigfa shrugged. “All we know is, he wasn’t a Jötunn. Which is why we have such fondness for being close to the sea.”
“It’s what also gave us our abilities to take to the waters and change.” Mongfind added.
“Perhaps a demonstration is in order.” Urien stood up, his sisters following suit. As one, they stepped forth into the ocean and before Sága’s eyes, shifted into the forms of seals.
“Oh…” Sága’s eyes widened. “They are selkies.”
“Yes…” Unn seemed oddly nervous. “Please… I am trusting you to respect my wishes, Sága. Please do not tell anyone else of what you have seen together. I brought you here to meet them because I believe I can trust you. Was my faith misplaced?”
Sága frowned a little, drawing her focus from the five seals and back to Unn. “I will not tell another soul, Unn,” she promised. “But why hide it in the first place?”
“Niskus… comes from a family who once hunted the selkie. I do not know what his reaction would be if he found out that before we met, I had… been with a selkie.” Unn blinked back tears. “They were excited to meet you. You’re quite well known around these parts, Sága. We have so much respect for you.”
“Thank you.” Sága reached for her hand and squeezed it reassuringly. “I promise you, I will not tell Niskus about your children. From now on, consider them officially under the protection of the Queen of Jotunheim.”
Unn let out a shuddering gasp of relief.
“Thank you,” she whispered. “Oh, thank you…”
That night, snuggled up in the fur-covered bed in one of the guest bedchambers, Sága found her sleep being disturbed by someone shifting under the covers, pushing her legs apart to expose her naked core. She kept her eyes closed, stifling a moan when a hot, wet tongue started lapping at her enthusiastically, while strong hands stroked her inner thighs.
“Don’t think… this changes how angry I am at you…” she mumbled, heaving a sigh when he sat up, the sheet falling away from him to reveal him naked between her legs. She frowned. “I didn’t tell you to stop.”
Loki flashed her a wicked grin. “Yes, ma’am.” He made to dive back down but she stopped him with her foot.
“Uh…” She shook her head in disapproval. “Is that how you address the Queen of Jotunheim, Pet?”
Loki’s eyes darkened.
“You are treading a very fine line, Flower…”
“And you need to remember whose in charge around here. It certainly isn’t you.” She pushed him away from her and sat up, grappling him down onto his back. “I suppose I’ll have to teach you a lesson.”
“Oh, that sounds delightful-”
“Shush.” She pinched his nipple until he hissed in discomfort. “Did I tell you to speak, Pet? No. So don’t speak unless I command you to.”
“Mmm, I love it when you act all high and mighty…” he purred, licking his lips in anticipation.
Sága shot him an unimpressed look.
“I suppose I will have to find a way to silence you. Hm…” She hitched up her nightgown, a devious thought springing to mind. “I think I have the perfect solution…” She proceeded to straddle his head, lowering herself down until she felt his mouth on her, his hands coming up to support her, his tongue already delving deep into her warmth.
Afterwards, sitting together in bed, Sága whispered, “I suppose you haven’t vanquished the sea serpent yet.”
“How can you tell?”
Sága just gave him a look.
“Anyway, how did Nari fare?”
“He was… bored for the most part.” Loki admitted, rubbing the back of his head awkwardly. “We spent most of today fishing.”
“I never took you for being interested in fishing.” Sága nuzzled into his side. “You’re full of surprises, husband.”
“Indeed I am…” he purred, smiling to himself as his wife started kissing down his body. “So, how would you feel if I took Nari with me again tomorrow? For a bit more fishing?”
“Mmm, so long as nothing happens to him…” She swiped her tongue across his nipple. “Then feel free.”
Sága smirked. “So long as I come with you.”
“What? Do you have a problem with that?” She leaned up, gazing at him expectantly. “If you’re only going fishing, then I should be quite safe, shouldn’t I?”
“Yeah… yes, I mean, of course, of course! The more, the merrier!”
Sága barely suppressed the urge to roll her eyes.
“Anyway…” Loki decided to change the subject. “Where were we?”
“Well, before you so rudely interrupted me, I was sound asleep.” She smiled sweetly at him as she rolled onto her side. “Goodnight, Loki.”
“Sága…” He nudged her lightly. “Sága, I’m sorry.”
“Sorry about what?”
“You must know what happened. I didn’t intend for the sea serpent to drag Nari through the water… I didn’t mean for him to break his ankle, I am so sorry, darling, I-”
Sága sat bolt upright.
“Nari broke his ankle?”
“LOKI!” She smacked his chest. “Where is he now?”
“Sleeping.” He took her hands in his, tears in his eyes. “I’m so sorry…”
“He could have died, Loki,” she whispered hoarsely, blinking back her own tears. “You deliberately went against my wishes. You put our son in danger. I…” She closed her eyes and shook her head. “I need to see him. And in the morning… I’m going to take him back to Utgard.”
She got out of bed and pulled on a fur-trimmed coat. “You can stay here for all I care. You seem to care more about your own pride than the wellbeing of your own son.”
“That isn’t fair!”
“Tough.” Sága regarded him coolly. “I told you I had a bad feeling about this, and you just…” she sighed wearily. “I’m too tired to argue. Goodnight, Loki.”
Loki found himself all alone, crying himself to sleep knowing he had ruined everything.
Nari sported his broken ankle like a trophy, eagerly showing it off to the four quadruplets, who all started complimenting him on his bravery for facing the sea serpent and living to tell the tale. Sága couldn’t help but notice he was also wearing the tooth taken from the serpent around his neck, showing off his trophy to Olwen in particular, who seemed enamoured with the young prince.
Sága had spent the night sleeping alongside Nari, who seemed to know that she just needed to be reassured that he was safe and sound. He had done his best to convince her to let them stay a little while longer in Ironwall, and against her better judgement, she had decided to stay for the remainder of the week.
She observed Dagny sitting on Loki’s lap, babbling away to him about what she and Tava got up to yesterday while he was away. Sága averted her gaze when Loki glanced in her direction, frustrated and conflicted about the way she felt. She was annoyed he hadn’t listened to her, she was angry he had put their son in danger, but she knew it was good for Nari to spend time learning about the dangers of the world, she knew it would serve him well to face challenges.
But did it have to be a sea serpent?
She absentmindedly rubbed her belly, longing to be in her own chambers back home in Utgard. She was glad for Bygul’s company, the wild cat curled up by her side offering her some comfort. “Good boy, Bygul,” she murmured. The urge to cry came over her and she quietly excused herself, hurrying out of the hall and back to the guest bedchambers, where she proceeded to sit down on the bed and burst into tears.
“Mama…” Sága let out a strangled sob as she flung her arms around Angrboða’s middle, burying her face into her bosom. “Mama, what do I do? I don’t know what to do!”
“Shh, shh… I’m here, I’m here…” Angrboða kissed the top of her head. “Nari’s safe and sound, that’s all that matters. Loki made a mistake, but he had good intentions. And besides, when you were Nari’s age, you were climbing up trees and chasing after wild boar… and you survived.”
“But it’s different, Mama.”
“Why? I allowed you freedom, why can’t you offer Nari the same?”
“I…” Sága let out a frustrated wail. “I don’t want to lose him! I nearly lost him when he was a baby, I can’t… I can’t…”
“This isn’t about the serpent, is it? This is about your unresolved issues with what Malekith put you through.” When Sága didn’t respond, Angrboða sighed softly. “Flower, the past is the past, we cannot change that. But we cannot let our past fears affect our children. I had to forgo my own personal feelings when I sent you to live in Klaustur. You need to learn to do the same. I know it’s hard, but I know you can do it. You’re a brave, strong young woman.”
“Sometimes I don’t feel like I am.” Sága slumped back against the pillow, letting out a tired sigh. “I wish it wasn’t so hard, Mama. I just want to keep my babies safe.”
“I know, Flower, I know.”
Later that day, Sága and Unn were sitting in the lighthouse, watching some vessels approaching from far off shores, both of them brooding over their own problems.
Finally, Unn gave a sigh and said, “I miss Alvaldi.”
Sága glanced at her but didn’t say anything.
“He was the love of my life. And I do love Niskus, truly I do. But it is not the same. We do not have the connection that I shared with Alvaldi.”
“He was your soulmate.”
“Yes.” Unn was quiet for a moment. “Do not hold a grudge against your husband, Sága. He has many faults, but he loves you and he loves his children. Do not punish him for that.”
“I know.” Sága let out a tired sigh. “My emotions have been rather skewed during this pregnancy. It is… difficult.” She found herself blinking back a sudden surge of tears. “It was never this bad with the other two. I don’t know why…” She choked back a sob. “I’m sorry, I don’t… I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”
Unn reached for her hand and squeezed it comfortingly.
“I keep feeling this sense of dread… I keep feeling as if something is going to happen…” Her chest constricted, her lungs screaming for air as she started struggling to breathe. “What if something happens to the baby? What if… what if… what if something’s going to happen and I won’t be able to stop it? I don’t want… I don’t…”
“Sága, breathe!” Unn’s voice sounded distant, as though she was far away shouting at her from a cliff top. “Breathe, breathe…”
“Breathe!” Sigrún cried out. “You need to breathe! Please, breathe!”
Hildegunn lay prone on the ground, her stomach ripe with child, blood oozing out of her nose and ears and even her eyes.
“Hilde! Hilde, breathe! You need to breathe!” Sigrún sobbed, beating the ground with her fists.
“Hilde…” Brunnhilde whispered, uncharacteristically quiet. “Love, you need to wake up. Your baby needs you to be alive.” She crouched down and placed her hand over Hildegunn’s belly. “You need to keep your little one safe. You need to get up. We can’t let her do this to you, Hilde. Please…” Her voice broke. “Please!”
A calming aura overcame them all. In the middle of the battle-scarred land, a Giantess arose from the soil, smiling a maternal smile that soothed their woes and comforted them as they had never been comforted before.
“Jörð…” Sigrún breathed, amazed. “How…? Why…?”
Jörð placed her hands on Hildegunn’s unmoving stomach and closed her eyes. “Life finds a way, Sigrún. I will take care of Hildegunn’s little one. You must defeat Hela before it is too late. I will bring her body to rest, I promise you.”
And then, before their eyes, Hildegunn’s stomach deflated. A green light swirled around Jörð’s middle as it swelled suddenly. She gave a little gasp, wincing a little in discomfort, before turning to them all and smiling widely. “Good fortunes be with you, Valkyrie.”
And then she vanished into the earth, leaving them alone on Niflheim to fight against the Goddess of Death.
Sága shot to her feet, gasping and panting as if she had been sprinting for miles and miles. She recoiled away from Unn, collapsing to her knees as she started sobbing profusely, hands trembling violently, vines forming around her arms and legs, grounding her to the floor.
“Lady Sága?” Unn said uneasily. “Lady Sága, do you need me to send for your husband or Angrboða?”
Unn approached her cautiously, flinching when Sága stared up at her with wild, black pupiless eyes. The Queen’s golden hair began to grow, leaves and twigs tangling up within it, and as Unn tried to call for help, she found herself being dragged downwards, silenced by the burning vines, pain indescribable wracking through her until she knew only darkness…
Chapter 24: The Dread Queen
Unn was resting in her bed, the quadruplets sleeping beside her, the Samkona standing vigil. It had been three days since the incident in the lighthouse, three days since they’d seen the Queen of Jotunheim.
“We fear she has been cursed,” Cigfa had explained to a rather distraught Loki a day or so previous. “We fear something is corrupting her powers. We will do what we can, but for now, our focus must be on ensuring our mother recovers.”
Three days of wondering where his wife was. Three days of handling two distraught children. Three days not knowing if she was dead or alive.
“Why would someone curse her? Do you think it is Bragi?” Loki had asked Angrboða, who could only hazard a guess the same as him, just as in the dark as the rest of them.
That night, he had to read Dagny a story because she wouldn’t settle. Sucking on her thumb, she kept interrupting to ask where her mother was. And, after the tenth time, Loki lost his patience and snapped.
“I don’t know! I don’t know where she is Dagny, so stop asking!”
Dagny stared at him with wide, watery eyes before pushing away from him and running out of the room. Loki sighed, setting the book he’d been reading down before pursuing her, losing her halfway down the corridor.
“Dagny! Dagny, come back!”
He turned the corner and skidded to a halt. There, with her hands placed on Dagny’s shoulders, was his wife.
She looked different. Wild, tangled hair that came down to the small of her back. A tattered dress that had leaves woven into the fabric, a plethora of greens and browns and oranges. Her feet were bare and splattered in dried mud and blood. There were puncture marks in her arms and legs from where vines had pierced her skin. But the most unusual sight was her eyes. They were black as pitch and pupiless.
“Mama, miss you…” Dagny was whimpering. Loki could only look on as his daughter was picked up by his wife, who cradled the child close, cooing softly. He went wide eyed when he saw a flash of sharp canines, a feral smile lurking on her features as her black eyes met his. “Dada angery. Scare me.”
“Scary daddy, I agree.” Her voice sounded different, more… ominous. “I’ll keep you safe, little petal.”
“Mama…” Dagny nuzzled into her. “Smell funny.”
She did smell funny. Loki could smell her from here. She smelled like the forest and wet soil and… death. He was suddenly very much aware that this, whoever this was, wasn’t his wife.
“Put her down,” Loki hissed, drawing out his dagger as he took a step forward.
“Put her down now, Sága.”
“I said NO!”
Vines burst forth from the stonework, grasping at his ankles and wrists, twisting around his neck and chest and legs, suffocating him, rendering him immobile. He focused, managing to burn away the vines with his seiðr just in time to send a duplicate version of himself after his wife and daughter.
He surrounded her with clones, all of whom crowded her, fending off the vines. The real Loki used that opportunity to snatch Dagny back, relieved when he saw both Angrboða and Niskus at the other end of the hallway.
“Don’t let her get away!” he shouted. He tossed Dagny at Angrboða before spinning around and knocking his elbow into Sága’s side. “What are you?!” he demanded. “What have you done to my wife?”
Her hand smacked against his forehead, pulling him into darkness…
Jörð stepped back, admiring her handiwork with a proud smile. Soon, the baby would be ready to enter the world, and soon, Angrboða would become a Mother again. Pleased with herself, she didn’t notice the shadow lurking behind her until she turned and found herself confronted by a hooded figure.
She stepped back, holding her hands up. “Who are you?” she demanded, feeling concerned for the safety of the unborn child.
The figure chuckled. “I am simply a traveller playing the Hand of Fate.”
Strange, spider-like limbs erupted from the figure’s back. Jörð raised her hands, summoning all her might and strength. “What are you? What do you want?”
The figure removed their hood, revealing a grey face and white hair, with black pupiless eyes and sharp teeth which gleamed ominously in the faint light filtering into the forest clearing.
“I am Knull, Lord of the Abyss.”
And then, before Jörð knew it, she was sent flying backwards, bound by strange, putrid threads, as black shadows seeped into the soil, straight into the roots of the plants growing the unborn child.
“She will be my Dread Queen…” Knull crooned. “Once she has proven herself to me.”
And without another word, he released Jörð, who slumped to the ground, and who wouldn’t remember Knull until her dying moments. Knull smirked malevolently before vanishing into the darkness…
“Help me…” Sága whispered, gold burning through the black of her eyes. “It hurts so much… help…”
“Sága…!” Loki caught her before she could fall, cradling her close to him. “I don’t know what to do, I don’t know how to fix this!”
“We need to take her to Asgard,” Angrboða said, frantic with worry. “She needs Lady Eir’s healing. We need time to find a way of curing her.”
Loki stood up with his wife in his arms, determined that nobody else would take her away from him. Even if it meant destroying the rest of the known universe, he would see to it that nobody ever dared try to take his wife from him. Or they would live to regret it.
The sea serpent incident seemed a distant memory. Now all Loki could care about was the safety of his wife and unborn children. Twins, according to Eir’s Soul Forge. They were to have twins. What if they didn’t make it? What if this curse killed them in their mother’s womb? What if Sága died? What if he lost them all?
Nari’s ankle had healed well enough to allow him to play outside with his uncle Thor, but Dagny on the other hand refused to leave her mother’s bedside. She glared at Loki whenever he entered the healing ward, and at one point had told him off for touching her mother, but after a scolding from both Angrboða and Frigga, the little girl had relented. Although it seemed she was going to hold a grudge for quite some time.
“Why do they always want to take her away from me?” he whispered to his mother, tears flowing down his gaunt cheeks. “Is that why Malekith was drawn to her? Because of this… taint inside of her? This cursed being… this Knull, he did this to her. He wants her to become his Dread Queen. What does that even mean?”
“I’ve been doing research into the matter.” Frigga looked unwell as she spoke. “According to what I discovered, he is an ancient malevolent being who serves the Darkness. He is a dangerous foe, Loki. I don’t know if we can fix this.”
“Don’t say that.” Loki shot to his feet, fists clenched so tightly his nails dug into his palms and made them bleed. “He hasn’t met me yet. Once he does… he will live to regret it.”
Early one morning, Loki stumbled into the healing ward and found an unfamiliar old woman cradling a sleepy Dagny, humming softly as she swayed from side to side. Her hair was white-blonde, her skin wrinkled, her eyes a glistening gold shade that matched his daughter’s own eyes.
“Loki Laufeyson,” the woman spoke in a surprisingly strong voice.
“Who are you?” he demanded, uncaring about being rude.
“My name is Yrsa the Lightbringer.”
Sága’s maternal great-grandmother.
“You’re Yrsa?” he asked, stupefied. “I don’t understand… how are you still alive?”
“I have my ways.” Yrsa chuckled fondly. “You are in need of a solution to this problem, are you not?”
“Yes.” He eyed her up and down. “How can you help?”
“I can only offer my knowledge. What is the Darkness’s weakness?”
His brow furrowed.
“Why must we play these games?”
“Answer the question.” Yrsa’s voice became firm, more demanding.
Loki sighed wearily. “The Light.”
“Exactly. How else did you think your wife could speak to you? If not for her Light, she would have been consumed by the Darkness already.” Yrsa sat down on the end of the bed, patting Dagny’s back gently when she gave a little sleepy hiccup. “When I was a young girl, I was given a gift by a Celestial Being. A Celestial’s power is the only power that can defeat this Darkness within her and destroy Knull. There is only one other person who has this gift.”
Loki sat down heavily on one of the other beds, realisation dawning on him.
“Hildegunn.” He buried his head in his hands. “But she is dead!”
“The dead can come back to us. You are proof enough, Laufeyson.” Yrsa adjusted her hold on Dagny, pressing a kiss to her little head. “There is a way of bringing her back. But it would require two things: a mad man, and a drunkard.”
“You speak in riddles still, Yrsa…” Loki angrily ran his fingers through his hair. “I want a simple answer for once!”
“Seeking refuge from her woes is a fallen Valkyrie who hides away on Midgard. Her name is Brunnhilde. She is the only one who can grant you entry into Valhalla.” Yrsa stood up and placed Dagny into his arms, stroking the child’s head gently. “But you also need a guide. And only one person knows the true path. The only one who is still connected to Hildegunn.”
She grimaced. “You need Bragi.”
Chapter 25: Entanglement
Loki goes in search of Bragi
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Dagny was only a few months old, sleeping soundly in her brother’s arms. Sága smiled over at Loki, who gazed at her with lustful eyes.
“Insatiable,” she whispered, trailing her finger down his front.
“You make me feel like a beast in heat…” He licked his lips slowly, glancing at their two sleeping children before quietly leading his wife into their bedchambers.
Shutting the door gently, he turned and immediately started kissing her, his hands groping her rear, her hands unfastening his cumbersome armour. “I love you,” she mumbled in between heated kisses.
“I love you too.”
Wiping away his tears, Loki focused on the task at hand. He had already sent his brother off to Midgard to track down this elusive fallen Valkyrie, all that needed to be done now was find where Bragi had been put.
As he traveled on horseback through the wilderness of Asgard, his memories kept him company.
“She’s walking!” Nari shrieked in delight. “Daddy, she’s walking!”
Dagny tottered precariously, nearly falling flat on her face, but Nari was there to catch her.
“Silly petal!” he giggled, kissing the tip of her nose. “You nearly fell!”
“Bah!” Dagny smacked her palm against her brother’s chubby cheek. “Nah!”
Loki smiled proudly, puffing his chest out as he looked away from his children and to the gathered crowd beyond. It was of course another boring weekday holding court, but nothing would take him away from his daughter learning to walk. Not even his own people.
“Well done, petal,” Loki said to Dagny once she finally reached the foot of his throne. “Would you like the wear the crown today?”
He clasped the locket his wife had given him to celebrate their wedding anniversary last year. He opened it up and looked at the picture within, one side depicting their children, the other a picture of his wife. A teardrop fell onto the locket over the image of her face.
“You are forever cursed with bad luck, Flower.” He kissed her image before closing the locket and tucking it under his shirt. Kicking his horse into action, he quickened his pace along the path, knowing his destination was near.
“I have not been feeling myself since the start of this pregnancy…” Sága winced in discomfort as she rose from the bed. “My bones seem to ache.”
“You are tired, Flower. Chasing after two children along with being a Queen… it is no easy task.” Loki set down his book and observed his wife carefully. She was rubbing the small of her back, limping a little as she walked towards the washroom. “Perhaps we should prescribe you with some pain medication.”
“It won’t be good for the little ones.”
“Little ones? Are you still convinced we are having twins?” Loki said in amusement.
“Mm. Since twins seems to be a recurring theme in my family. My mother’s brothers were twins. My… father and uncle are twins. Skaði and Havi are twins. It is more than likely we are having twins. Besides, I can feel two separate auras.”
“Even this early on?”
She nodded, leaning against the doorframe as she caught her breath. “Sometimes, I have dreams of them. They have your eyes and my hair.”
“Are they boys or girls? Or one of each?”
“I don’t know. It doesn’t matter to me.” She placed a hand on her barely-visible bump, smiling wistfully. “I will love them regardless.”
“Will we have any more children after them?” Loki asked, suddenly finding himself feeling both excited and nervous.
“Maybe.” Sága entered the washroom, and Loki rose from bed and followed after her, running a bath for her as she gingerly lowered herself onto the toilet. “Maybe one more. Five seems plenty.”
“Five children…” Loki mused. “Five little you’s and me’s.”
“Five little shits.” Sága giggled at the delighted grin Loki flashed her. “Five little mischief makers.”
“Five impossible miracles.”
Sága smiled with tears in her eyes.
“Our babies,” he agreed.
He turned around so he could shut the water off, assisting her into the warm, soothing water once she had stripped herself down. Rubbing lotion into her skin, he placed gentle kisses to her shoulder, pondering on something.
“Maybe we should have nine children.”
“Why? So we could have one for each and every realm?”
At the look he gave her, Sága rolled her eyes in fond exasperation.
“Fine. But you can birth them.”
Bragi’s eyes met Loki’s, full of confusion and suspicion. Loki regarded him coolly, drawing his dagger and toying with it idly as he said, “You can still see Hildegunn, yes? Blink once for no, twice for yes.”
He blinked twice.
“We need you to lead us to Valhalla. There is a way of entering those sacred halls without perishing first. If you prove yourself useful, I will consider letting you go free. If you prove to be useless, I will not hesitate to return you to your…” He sniffed. “Imprisonment.”
Bragi blinked at him twice.
“I’m glad we are in agreement.”
And then Loki brought his dagger down and started hacking through the vines holding the man together.
Dagny and Nari were playing a board game their uncle Thor had brought them back from Midgard, something called ‘Snakes and Ladders’. They were sitting on one of the beds near to the one their mother was staying in, sneakily staying up because it was already pitch black outside and they had been told to go to bed hours ago. Nari started to think they should have gone to bed, then they wouldn’t have seen a strange figure of a man appear beside their mother’s bedside, grey skinned and white haired, with a putrid stench wafting from him that set Nari’s teeth on edge.
Dagny, because she was first and foremost a foolish little girl, did what she thought best: she sprang off the bed and flung herself at the man attempting to touch her mother.
“NO! MY MAMA! GO ‘WAY!”
“Daggy!” Nari screamed in horror when his little sister was tossed aside like a ragdoll. He heard a sickening crunch, followed by the sight of dark liquid spilling from the back of her head. “Daggy, no!”
The man leered over at Nari, intent on taking him out next. In his distraction, neither of them saw Sága move until a golden glowing hand wrapped itself around the man’s throat, tossing him aside as though he was also the same size and weight as Dagny.
Nari watched in astonishment as his mother arose, brimming with righteous fury, eyes burning gold. The far off door burst open, but that didn’t distract her from her target. She lashed out, releasing a bolt of golden energy that impacted the strange man’s chest and sent him stumbling to one knee.
“What…!” He stood up, darkness swarming around him. “You will pay for your little act of rebellion!”
“And you will pay for touching my child!” With a savage roar, Nari’s mother threw herself through the air, a golden sword forming in her grasp, which she plunged downwards, descending towards the dark shadowy man. At the last second, he vanished, and her sword struck the ground uselessly. She stumbled, the sword vanishing just as quickly as it had appeared. With the last remaining vestiges of her strength, she reached for Dagny and healed the wound on the back of her head. She was unconscious by the time the others reached her.
“Was that him?” Eir asked Loki, reaching down to cradle Dagny, who was beginning to stir.
“Yes.” Loki picked his wife up and carefully laid her out on the bed. “What happened, Nari?”
“We uh… we were pla- we were sleeping,” Nari didn’t dare glance at the board game sitting on the bed next to him. “And this man came in and he was leaning over Mama, and then Dagny went all mad and tried to stop him, but he threw her and she hit her head, and then Mama woke up and she was all golden, and… yeah.”
“A mother’s love.” Eir whispered. “Dagny is healed, thanks to Sága. If not… I doubt she would be alive right now.”
Loki swallowed the lump rising in his throat.
“I must leave at once. I cannot delay this any longer.” Turning to Nari, he took his son’s head in his hands and whispered urgently, “Protect your sister, keep a close eye on your mother, and keep safe. You have to be brave.”
“I will be.” Nari puffed his chest out.
“Good boy.” He kissed Nari’s brow. “I love you.”
“I love you too, Daddy. Be safe.”
Loki gave a faint smile.
“I’ll try my best.”
the next chapter will be longer
Chapter 26: Sowing the Seeds
The Valkyrie returns
Brunnhilde hadn’t walked the golden halls of Asgard in centuries. It felt surreal, entering the palace where her life had changed. The place where she had been made a Valkyrie. The place where she had met her sisters.
“Herja!” A voice called out across the training field. “Put that axe down or I swear I will smash your face in!”
Brunnhilde, young and nervous but still confident of her abilities, observed the warrior women curiously, focusing on a rather wild-looking woman who was swinging a battleaxe as though there was no tomorrow. Telling her off was the most beautiful person Brunnhilde had ever seen.
“Ah, Brunnhilde,” said Sigrún, who was the one inducting her into the Sisterhood. “Ignore Herja, she’s a brute. Hildegunn! Come over here! We have the new Valkyrie here!”
Hildegunn turned, golden hair whipping around, startling golden eyes locking onto Brunnhilde. A smile blossomed across her elegant features. “An honour to make your acquaintance, Brunnhilde.”
“An honour to make yours, Hildegunn.”
Stepping into the healing ward, she watched two young dark haired children sitting on either side of a slumbering young woman, the pair of them apparently having an argument. As she continued watching, the young woman stirred just enough to whisper, “Shhh,” before drifting off to sleep again.
“You woke her up!” the boy hissed quietly.
“No!” the girl retorted, making as if to slap him, but Brunnhilde’s arrival distracted her long enough for the boy to escape from his sister’s ire.
It was like taking a step back into the past. She was almost the spitting image of Hildegunn. Brunnhilde found herself becoming choked up, and forced herself to turn and walk away, ignoring the raised voices of the children asking her what she was doing.
“Brunn…” Hildegunn whispered tiredly, massaging her bump. “This doesn’t change how I feel about you.”
“I know, Hilde, I know…” Brunnhilde pecked her lips. “We’re in this together. You, me, and the baby.”
“Our perfect little family.”
Although she hadn’t appreciated the King of Asgard pulling her away from the life she had made for herself on Midgard, once she heard the reason behind this sudden interest in her, she knew she couldn’t stand idle. She owed it to Hildegunn.
So here she was, trekking through the wilderness, keeping one eye on Bragi, the other on her surroundings. She was aware there were all manner of creatures lurking in the shadows, and she was unwilling to let herself be taken advantage of. Especially since she had to ensure Bragi didn’t do anything ill-advised.
“I don’t appreciate having him here with us,” she had stated to Thor and Loki before they set off. “As soon as his usefulness is over and done with, I intend on making him suffer.”
“Agreed,” Loki had answered wearily. “Do what you wish with him. So long as he suffers.”
Brunnhilde breathed in the crisp Asgardian air, taking a moment to gather her thoughts before resuming onwards, one hand constantly kept place on the hilt of her blade. As Bragi continued to stumble onwards, bound by shackles with a chain being held by Thor, Brunnhilde turned to Loki, observing him carefully.
“How long have you known Sága?” she asked.
“Since she was a newborn and I a child.” Loki stooped down to retrieve a pretty rock, pocketing it. When he caught Brunnhilde’s strange look, he smirked and explained, “Nari collects pretty rocks. So long as he keeps them away from Dagny.”
“I heard the rumours about Dagny,” Brunnhilde commented, appreciating the conversation offering her a break from the monotony of the journey. “She is quite the firecracker, from what I’ve been told by Thor.”
Loki merely smiled, though he was still tense, understandably so given the circumstances. She could tell he was devoted to his family, she could tell he would do anything for his wife. The thought that Sága had him in her life made Brunnhilde inexplicably pleas ed and grateful.
The journey continued for quite some time, until the afternoon sun was beating down on them and they were panting, sweating messes. Finally, they came upon the entrance of a cavern, one which exuded an aura that sent shivers down Brunnhilde’s spine.
“This is it,” she murmured, mostly to herself. “This is the way.”
“Do we need to keep him around?” Thor asked gruffly, yanking on the chain to make Bragi fall to his knees.
“Very well. I will return with him to the City. You two… go on ahead.” Thor eyed his brother for a moment. “I will ensure your wife is safe, brother.”
“Thank you.” Loki hesitated before clasping his brother by the arm. “For everything.”
Blinking back his surprise, Thor merely offered him a smile before bidding Brunnhilde farewell. And then, with a swing of Mjölnir, the God of Thunder took Bragi high into the sky, flying all the way back to the City.
Brunnhilde turned her attention onto the cave entrance. Taking a steadying breath, she cracked her knuckles, worked the kinks out of her neck, and drew her blade, Dragonfang.
“In we go.”
“In we go,” Loki echoed.
Two green-eyed, golden haired tricksters giggled mischievously as they sat on the branch of the tree watching the scene unfolding beneath them. The marketeers were screaming in outrage at the rotten fish contaminating their supply of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Giggling wickedly, the girl turned to the boy and whispered, “Freki, should we release the bees?”
“Nah.” Freki shook his head. “I think we should unleash the bees, Frea!”
A swarm of bees converged on the stall keepers, and as their screams tore through the market, Freki and Frea made their escape, running down the secret path all the way back to their home, climbing into bed and acting as if they were just stirring from a good night’s slumber when their mother entered the room.
“Darlings,” their mother cooed. “It’s time to get up.”
“Mmmph… five more minutes!” Frea grumbled.
“Five more minutes. And then you need to get up, we have a big day ahead of us.” Their mother gently closed the door behind her, leaving the twins to their own devices.
Grinning deviously, the twins silently congratulated themselves on a prank gone well. They were still full of cheer when they entered the chamber for breakfast, the pair of them wearing matching tunics, holding hands as they traversed the massive corridors of the Keep.
Unfortunately, when they arrived, they were met with the sight of a group of very angry marketeers. Freki and Frea exchanged a nervous look.
“Need I remind you that, as well as being married to the Trickster God, I am the mother of four tricksters?” Their mother said from behind them. “So do you really believe I would be oblivious to your little schemes?”
She didn’t sound angry, she sounded more amused than anything. Still, the twins were naturally worried about upsetting her, turning around to throw their arms around her legs, begging for her forgiveness.
“Apologise to these people first,” their mother stated. “And then we will have you help them repair their stalls.”
“What? But that’s boring!” Frea protested. “Mama, it was a prank! A silly prank! They’re just so sensitive!”
“Yeah!” Freki agreed with an enthusiastic nod of the head.
Their mother raised an eyebrow.
“Are you questioning a direct order from your mother?” she asked them, using her Queen voice. Freki and Frea whimpered, shaking their heads in unison. “Then I advise you both apologise.”
Once they had apologised, and once they had agreed to help with the repairs their prank had caused, it was time for breakfast. Of course, their brother and sister were already eating with their father, who smirked at the twins when they stomped into the private dining room.
“In trouble, are we?” he said with a gleam in his eye.
“No,” Freki huffed. “You’re in trouble!”
“BIG trouble!” Frea crossed her arms. “Your fault we’re in trouble!”
“Yeah! If you weren’t such a trickster-”
“-We wouldn’t get into trouble!”
Their father barked out a laugh, drawing out two chairs on either side of him for them. “Sit. Eat. We have a big day today.”
As the twins sat down, their mother sat herself on the seat next to Dagny, who was picking through her food looking despondent.
“Daggy?” Frea asked. “You okay?”
“Yeah…” Dagny sighed forlornly. “Tava hasn’t replied to my letter yet.”
“How long has it been?” Their mother asked.
“Maybe she’s busy?” Freki suggested.
“Or maybe she doesn’t want to write to you anymore?” Frea added, having completely no tact whatsoever. “What did your last letter say?”
“Dunno…” Dagny rubbed her eyes. “Miss her, though.”
“Oooooh.” Freki and Frea exchanged a gleeful look. “You like her!”
“Dagny and Tava sitting in a tree…” Freki began to sing.
“Shut up!” Dagny smacked her hand down onto the table.
“I don’t like her like that! Shut up, Freki!”
Frea started making kissing noises, laughing loudly when Dagny smacked her arm.
“Ooooh, Dagny and Tava K-I-S-S-”
“That’s enough now.” Their mother said, sounding tired.
“You can’t have her babies, she’s a girl,” Freki said, ignoring his mother. “If you get married, you’ll have to adopt.”
“You could adopt me?” Frea asked hopefully.
“Who’d want to adopt you?” Nari chimed in, having been quiet as a mouse throughout most of breakfast, too busy reading to care about his siblings.
“It’s true, though,” Freki said to his twin sister.
“Nobody is getting adopted,” Their father interjected. “Eat your food up, we have important matters to attend to this morning.”
He smiled around at them all then. “Isn’t this nice?” he said. “The six of us spending quality time together?”
He was met with a sea of noncommittal sounds.
“I can feel the love,” he drawled, rolling his eyes before biting into his slice of fruit. “No wonder Odin imprisoned his own daughter. I’m tempted to imprison at least three of you.”
“Hey!” Freki frowned up at him. “Eat your food, no talking!”
That was him most certainly told.
Loki opened his eyes, breathing in and out slowly as he awoke from what felt like a deep, year long sleep. Stretching his arms out, he took his time to collect himself, glancing around curiously, not surprised to find himself in the cavern where they had decided to camp for the night.
It was a cave of wonders, from what he could gather. No doubt that was the reason for his dream… vision? Future memory? He smiled a little as he recalled the twins and their behaviour. Freki and Frea. Perfect little mischief makers.
Rising to his feet, he noticed that the fallen Valkyrie was awake, sitting with her back up against the cavern wall, sharpening her blade. She didn’t look up as he approached, all she did was say, “Ready to go?”
“Ready to go.”
The first sign of something peculiar happening came when the streets of Asgard filled with cheering and celebrating. The second sign of something peculiar happening was the arrival of what had caused the disturbance in the first place.
Winged steeds clip-clopped through the halls of Asgard’s palace, coming to a complete halt before the doors leading into the healing ward. Thor, who had been keeping vigil at Sága’s bedside, exited the room with Mjölnir drawn, two curious little children clinging to his legs.
He relaxed when he saw the fallen Valkyrie alongside his tense brother. “Does this mean your trip went well?” he asked.
Loki grimaced. “We’ll soon find out.” And then, turning to the group behind him, Loki said, “She’s in there.”
“Uh… no horses in the healing ward, if you don’t mind,” came Eir’s voice.
“Very well.” The golden haired leader of the group dismounted from her winged horse, the others following suit. She marched past the King of Asgard, pausing when she caught a glimpse of the two dark haired children. Her hard expression softened. “You must be Nari and Dagny.”
“Yeah…” Nari eyed her suspiciously. “Who are you?”
The woman crouched down, smiling fondly at them both.
“My name is Hildegunn the Lightbringer. I’m your grandmother.”
Chapter 27: In The Light
Fragments of memories kept her up late into the early hours of the morning. Her mind was entangled, unapproachable to even herself. She was in agony, internally and externally. Screaming into the void. The souls of her children slipping into the darkness.
She was mad. Wasn’t she? How else could anyone explain the way she was feeling? She felt mad, but did mad people know that they were mad, or was she simply projecting?
Maybe she was simply out of luck and out of time. Trapped in the shadows of her mind, facing that grey-faced bastard who had so long ago hurt her daughter. Who was he? A figment in the recesses of her mind, the fiend who had been haunting her nightmares since the moment she was born. Always present, always there, always watching.
Had this been the nature which drove Malekith into trying to ensnare her? Did he want this forbidden, tainted power within her? Should she be offended he hadn’t wanted her for her? No, that was a ludicrous thought. She hadn’t wanted him to want her at all. She was being ridiculous. No doubt her imprisonment was driving her to the brink of insanity, if not into insanity itself.
Having an existential crisis while in this comatose state was quite unsavoury. She was cold. Alone. Scared, very scared. Every once in a while, however, she could hear the sound of children. Their soft hands touching her face, their soft voices pleading with her to wake up. She couldn’t quite grasp onto it, the shadows too suffocating, too powerful.
During her madness, she had a vision of Valhalla.
Valhalla’s most noticeable feature was the grass that smelled like fresh green apples. Ponies grazed aimlessly, while in the background lurked a plethora of champions from across the Nine Realms, feasting in the Great Halls of Valhalla.
Occupying one table groaning under the weight of a thousand and one dishes, the Valkyrie warriors made themselves well known, boasting of their feats, impressing their fellow warriors, drinking until their vision split in half. It was at this table that one could find Hildegunn, who sat between Sigrún and Herja, drinking to her heart’s content, singing an old sea shanty along to the screeching strings of a nearby fiddle.
Her bare feet barely touched the ground as she approached her Sisters. Her eyes were brimming with tears, clouding her vision. When at last she was standing before their table, she could only do one thing and one thing only.
The Valkyrie warrior turned her golden gaze upon her. A mixture of emotions crossed her features, settling on sorrow and relief. “You’re here…” she whispered, as though hardly daring to believe what she was seeing. “I did not think it was your time, my love.”
Brunnhilde reached out with shaking hands to cradle Hildegunn’s head, gasping softly when they made skin contact. “I need your help,” she began. “Your daughter is in danger. A being known as Knull has tainted her with a Darkness, your Light is the only thing that can bring her back to us. I would not ask this of you if it wasn’t dire, Hildegunn. But we need you, now more than ever.”
“I cannot leave these halls… Brunnhilde…” Hildegunn pressed a kiss to her palm.
“You must, Hildegunn,” Sigrún stated firmly. “Your daughter needs you.”
“But I am not powerful enough to leave by myself.”
“We will go with you,” Ölrún said. “We will help you save your daughter.”
Hildegunn gave a nod, turning her focus onto Brunnhilde. “We will come back with you, but for how long, I do not know. I only hope we are not too late.”
If only the visions of Valhalla had remained with her. But alas, the Darkness was too strong. Corrupting her every thought, her every feeling. Twisting her insides until all she knew was the worst of her memories.
Heavily pregnant, struggling to stand due to the wounds on the back of her legs. Chained like a common prisoner in a gilded cage. Wondering how long it would be until Malekith would return.
“I will keep you safe,” she promised her unborn child. “I promise on my own life. You will live.”
She knew it was futile. She knew they would both die here. There was no escape for them. Her child would be killed. She would be bound to the Accursed one. And then… she would be nothing more than an empty husk.
Thrashing, struggling for breath, clawing at invisible ropes and chains, choking on her own vomit. She let out a harsh, hoarse scream which threatened to deafen her. She couldn’t breathe- she couldn’t see - she couldn’t hear - all she could do was scream into the darkness, scream until her throat was bleeding, scream until she had exhausted herself completely.
A hand erupted from the gloom, a golden hand attached to the body of a golden statue adorned with equally as golden wings. It was still, unmoving, fixed in place. Sága, lost for anything else to do, clung onto the hand like the lifeline she hoped it was. It kept her grounded, it kept her sane at least for a little while. For soon, the Darkness returned, crimson eyes burning out of the shadows, a wicked, deformed, cerulean blue form emerging, with broken horns and stained teeth, snarling and salivating like a feral wolf.
“You belong to me!” the creature growled, spitting blood over her face as she cowered in terror. “Mine! You are nothing without me! Nothing! You belong to me. Your body is mine. Your heart is mine. Your soul is mine. All of who you are is down to me.”
Teeth sank into the tender flesh of her neck, ripping her to shreds. Piece by piece, she was sewn back together, reformed into his image, broken and deformed and just as feral and savage as the broken creature before her.
The statue moved.
Light blinded her, forcing her to howl in agony. It burned away the shadows, it seeped into every pore, it extinguished the sounds erupting from her. Warm, strong arms lifted her, and when she dared to open her eyes, she found herself gazing into the face of a fallen Valkyrie.
“Mother…” she whispered. And then, she knew no more.
It had been three days since the Valkyrie had returned to Asgard. Ölrún, Sigrún, Herja, and Brunnhilde stood vigil as their leader Hildegunn meditated by the bedside of her daughter. Three days of nothing but anxious waiting. Three days of trying to console distraught children. Three more days without his beloved.
On the morning of the fourth day, Loki scratched the itchiness of the stubble that had begun to form from his neglect for his own personal hygiene, red-rimmed eyes drooping as he fought to stay awake. He heard the sound of a soft whimper, his eyes snapping wide open to focus on his wife. His heart skipped a beat.
He took her hand, squeezing it between his own, praying to the Norns, to anyone who would listen for his wife to wake up. On the other side of the bed, Hildegunn stirred from her meditative state, blinking owlishly as she readjusted herself to the waking world.
Loki exhaled heavily, a sob tearing out of him. “Sága…” he whispered, silently willing her to open her eyes, which she did. Her eyes were golden, unfocused, dazed. “Flower.”
“Sága,” Hildegunn said gently. “Sága, you’re safe now. You’re safe. The Darkness won’t take you again, I promise.”
“Mother…” she repeated. “Mother…”
“Shh, shh, I’m here, I’m here, my little-”
“I want my Mama.”
Hildegunn glanced at Loki in confusion. “I’m here, Sága. It’s me.”
“You’re not my Mother.”
“Where’s my Mama?” Sága was becoming distressed, attempting to sit up in bed. She looked towards Loki, tears in her eyes. “Loppy, where’s Mama? Where is she? Where…”
The door burst open. Heimdall was accompanying Angrboða into the room, with Nari and Dagny dogging their footsteps. When she saw her Mama, Sága let out a cry. “Mama! You’re here!”
“Sága!” Angrboða broke into a fast walk, shoving Loki aside so she could hold onto Sága and pull her into her arms. “Oh, my sweet child… you’re back, you’re back… I thought the worst!”
“Mama…” Sága wailed, clinging onto her for dear life. “I wanna go home.”
“What’s wrong with her?” Nari asked, standing nearby with a confused Dagny. “Why’s she sounding weird?”
“Get them out of here,” Loki heard Hildegunn say to Heimdall. “They shouldn’t see their mother like this.”
Just as Heimdall was about to escort them out of the room, Sága let out a piercing scream, backing away from something none of them could see. “He’s here! He’s here! Mama! Mama, stop him! Stop him! He’s going to hurt the babies!”
“You’re safe, darling. You’re safe.” Loki took her by the hand, but that seemed to have been a mistake, for as soon as she saw him, she started screaming louder.
“Monster! Monster - Mama, get him away from me! He’s a monster! Get away from me!”
“GET OUT!” Hildegunn roared. “Get him and the children out of here NOW!”
Heimdall had to drag Nari and Dagny out, with Loki stumbling after them. He collapsed outside the healing ward door, listening to the sound of his wife screaming hysterically. Numbly, he was aware that his daughter was screaming, aware that his son was trying to console her, aware that Heimdall had gone off to retrieve Frigga. Despondently, Loki brought his children into his arms and wept with them, rocking himself as the screams from inside the room slowly died down.
Chapter 28: Point Of No Return
Life goes on.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Knull’s curse had been eradicated from her soul. The scars would always remain.
She didn’t feel any better. She felt worse. She felt as if her entire being had been violated. She knew she owed Unn an apology, she could only hope it hadn’t soured relations between the coastal giants and the Utgard giants.
She hadn’t seen her children in days. Dagny didn’t want to see her, from what she had been able to deduce. Nari had wanted to see her, but then had subsequently changed his mind. She didn’t blame them. They were scared. It wasn’t their fault.
But it wasn’t her fault, either. It felt like her fault, but she knew it wasn’t. It wasn’t. It wasn’t?
She honestly didn’t know anymore.
She had been let out of the healing ward and was now in a chamber close to Frigga’s own chambers, overlooking her private garden with a view of the mountains in the distance. Stepping out onto the terrace, it allowed Sága to have some fresh air, watching the birds flying high in the sky, inhaling the scent of the flowers, relishing in the chill air against her burning skin.
A blanket was draped over her shoulders by Frigga, who had been one of the few people she could bear to be around right now. Angrboða had to return to Jotunheim, and she hadn’t seen the Valkyrie warriors since the day she had woken up. She didn’t want to see them, to be honest. She just wanted to forget about everything.
“How are the little ones?” Frigga asked, handing her a steaming mug of herbal tea.
“I felt one of them kicking earlier.” Sága rested her mug on her baby bump, sighing forlornly.
“Loki has been asking to see you.”
“I know.” She took a sip of her tea before grimacing at the taste. “I’m not ready.”
“He knows you didn’t mean it-”
“I did, though. He… he twisted the way I view my own husband.” Tears welled in her eyes. “I cannot even look at him without feeling… terrified. I miss him so much, Frigga, but I’m scared. And I wish I wasn’t, but I can’t help it.”
She gave a start when one of the babies gave a kick. Placing her mug down, she rubbed her belly, smiling softly when they continued causing a fuss. “Do you want to feel?” she asked Frigga, who nodded wordlessly, gasping when her hand pressed against the bump and felt a kick.
“Flower?” Sága stared at Frigga. “You’ve never called me that before…”
Realisation dawned on her. Fear seized her. Panic washed over her. She found herself unable to breathe, frozen in place, glimpses of her twisted, distorted memories fueling her terror.
Was anything real? Was it all an illusion? Why was he doing this to her? Was this his way of controlling her?
She was lashing out before she knew what she was doing. Hands wrapped around his throat. Choking him, screaming into his face, vision blurred, lost to the memories that had been tainted by Knull. Of that fiendish monster who had told her she belonged to him and only him.
“No!” she screamed. “Leave me alone! Monster!”
She found herself being shoved away by a strange force, landing on her side hard. Pain shot through her, and as she clutched her belly, she heard the sound of her own daughter shouting, “Leave him alone! Hate you!”
“Dagny…” Loki wheezed. “Don’t say that…”
“She hurt you!”
“She didn’t mean to.”
“SHE HURT YOU!” Dagny stomped her foot angrily, the sound causing her mother to flinch. “Hate her! HATE HER!”
Loki didn’t know what to do. All he could do was sit there on the floor, rubbing his bruised throat, staring at his hysterical wife and daughter. He felt a presence behind him then, and when he looked over his shoulder he saw Hildegunn stepping into the room, her face hard, her eyes burning.
“Dagny,” she said solemnly. “If I ever see you hurt your mother like that again, I will banish you to Hel. She is carrying your baby siblings, you cannot do that to her.” She knelt down in front of the child, who glared at her. “Your mother is not well. It was wrong of your father to come here without asking her permission first. Apologise to your mother.”
Hildegunn’s eyes flashed dangerously.
“I won’t repeat what I said, Dagny. Apologise, or I’ll send you to the stables to muck out the horses.”
“Very well.” Hildegunn picked Dagny up as though she weighed less than a bag of flour, holding onto her securely even as the little girl thrashed and writhed furiously. Hildegunn glowered disdainfully at Loki. “You should be ashamed of yourself. Take her to see Eir, I will discipline your child.”
Sága was sitting in the healing ward gazing out the window picking at her fingernails when a tentative voice said, “Mama, don’t hate you.”
She didn’t look at her daughter. She couldn’t. Instead, she kept picking at her nails until they started to bleed, silent tears trickling down her gaunt cheeks.
“Leave me alone.”
Her voice was cold, hollow.
Sága didn’t say anything else.
Dagny started crying plaintively, slowly creeping forward until she was able to reach her mother’s side, tugging uselessly on her dress. “Mama…?” She climbed onto her lap and rested her head on her mother’s belly. “Mama, sorry. Sorry… sorry…”
Sága loosely wrapped her arms around Dagny and held her, not saying anything. Unaware of Loki watching them both, tears in his eyes.
Everything was going wrong. He knew it had been too good to last. He had lost his wife. His daughter was traumatised. And his son was… a recluse. Everything was going wrong. And deep down, he knew the only solution was to remove himself from their lives completely.
It was for the best.
Fensalir was the summer home of Odin’s family, and now it was Sága’s new home. The home she shared with her newborn twins, Freki and Frea. The home she didn’t share with her husband, son, and daughter.
He had left her. He had wanted the children to remain with her, but both Nari and Dagny had refused to stay on Asgard with her. It hurt, of course, but there was nothing to be done about it. They were terrified of being around her. They were scared of what she was now. She was a volatile empty shell of a woman, she was no mother to them, not anymore.
At least she received infrequent visits from Thor and Frigga, who had been by her side when she had given birth. She had the ever lingering presence of the Valkyrie warriors in the background, but she had spent very little time with them. She didn’t want to get attached to them. She knew they wouldn’t be here forever.
But for the most part, it was just her and the twins, and a few servants Frigga had hired for her. They didn’t interact with her much, all they did was cook and clean, nothing more than that. It was lonely, she was lonely, but she was glad to be away from everyone else. She liked it being her and the twins.
She soon felt brave enough to venture to the city, more at ease with her fragile state of mind now than she had been in a very long time. She hadn’t realised they were expecting visitors from Jotunheim, she hadn’t realised her husband had been frequently paying visits to Asgard for the express purpose of ensuring she was well. She hadn’t realised she’d be meeting her husband and eldest children until it was too late.
She had been in Frigga’s private chambers breastfeeding the twins, their matching golden curls tickling her bare skin. She had her eyes closed, listening to the sound of them suckling, smiling faintly at the way their tiny hands pressed into her breasts. She heard the door open, but didn’t open her eyes, believing it to be Frigga and no-one else.
She only opened her eyes when she heard a breathless voice whisper, “Flower.”
“Loppy.” She noticed Nari and Dagny behind him, eyeing her cautiously. She made no effort to greet them, not wishing to put them on the spot. “How fares home?”
“Well. You are missed.” Loki hesitated, licking his lips nervously, his gaze drifting to the twins. “May I…?”
Sága nodded, granting him permission to approach.
He drew a chair up next to hers and gently took the baby who wasn’t currently feeding, the little girl. “Frea, yes?” he asked, smiling when Sága nodded. “Hello, pretty girl.”
“Daddy?” Nari asked hesitantly. “May I hold her?”
“And me?” Dagny added, looking hopeful.
“Yes, but be careful. Support her head.”
Once Nari was sitting on the settee with Dagny pressed against him staring down at their baby sister, Loki took Freki from his wife and cradled him close, offering the baby his finger to hold. He observed Sága’s wariness as she approached the settee and took the baby when she started crying, patting her back to bring up her wind, not making eye contact with either Nari or Dagny.
“Mama.” Dagny held her hand out to her. “Sit?”
Sága sat between them, looking nervous and unsure of herself. She let Dagny hold the baby, guiding her into how best to keep her head steady, while Loki approached Nari and offered him Freki to hold. Nari’s nose crinkled.
“He needs changing,” Sága mumbled.
“I’ll do it!” Dagny volunteered.
“You’ll regret saying that,” Loki murmured. And true enough, once confronted with a dirty nappy, Dagny did indeed regret her words.
She was never going to be the way she used to be. It took time to realise that, it took time to realise that she was forever cursed to be the way she was. She had to live with it. And at least she had her children, at least she had returned home, at least she was with her husband again.
It was a struggle, especially with two young babies, one petulant toddler, and one reclusive little boy who didn’t want to be King. It was a struggle, an everyday struggle which resulted in her crying more than anything else, but it was worth it, because at the end of the day, she had her family with her.
There wasn’t a happy ending. Life went on and on and on. The darkness still lingered in the recesses of her mind. But each and every day, her family would offer her the light to guide her back home to them.
She was not alone. Not anymore.
She was home.
It's not a happy-happy ending, I felt that would be disingenuous. There are still hardships for the family, they still have much to get through, but they'll do it together.
I hope ya'll enjoyed this little story.