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Thunder whirls around the gold prince, an Aesir young and terrible in his power. He is of his father's blood, Laufey sees, and more. It is not merely the hammer, great though it is, that lets this young Aesir fight so many of his warriors. This one will be a great hero.

If he lives.

Too many Aesir heroes are giant-slayers.

The Aesir maiden and the two Aesir warriors fight valiantly. The one who is not an Aesir fights equally valiantly. Blue stains their weapons, but unlike the gold prince, they bleed.

Their blood will fuel a new war. Laufey knows this just as he knows the feel of thin ice, and the spill of warm blood still smells heady and delightful. Aesir blood, Aesir pain. They stole the heart of his world; perhaps he can stop the heart of their king.

The dark princess glides among his warriors, magic on her fingertips and knives in her hands. He thought this one was a prince before; he learned during the war to recognize the physical differences between Aesir genders, as minimal as they are. This one has the look of a prince, but she has magic - only Aesir women work magic.

She is not so pretty as a Jotun maiden, but her parentage makes up for any lack of beauty.

First, he will kill the warriors, then the gold prince. Then when the Gallows-Reaper comes to claim his son's body, he will show the dark princess in her wedding jewelry, bound by vows and blood to King Laufey of Jotunheim.

"Don't let them touch you!" one of the Aesir yells, blackened skin showing in the blood-warmed air. Aesir. So easily frozen.

One of his warriors siezes the dark princess by her arm, and-

Asgardian paleness melts away to reveal Jotun blue, and the princess stares at her hand as if an isalf replaced it with snow onyx. Then her long knife flashes forward, and his warrior dies with his steaming guts spilling into the air.

The princess stares as paleness flows back over blue, and Laufey stares at him.

The Casket of Ancient Winters was not the only thing Odin One-Eye took from Jotunheim that day. It could not be the only thing taken, for the dark prince is-

Laufey refuses to think his name. Farbauti was dead, dead long before they had gone to raid Midgard, long before Asgard had come in their golden ranks. Becoming her again to tempt Odin Asagrim from battle had been foolishness. Lying with the Aesir king had been the height of idiocy. Only the delight of taking his eye was of any worth.

And the child.

The child she had meant to raise as her own shaman, his mixed blood giving Farbauti's son a power nearly unmatched. Win or lose, she would have one great victory from that war.

Then the Asgardians invaded Jotunheim itself, and Laufey King could not be Farbauti Queen. That was the time for battle and death, for giving every step of ground only when gallons of blood had melted snow and ice. There was no time for the child, no time to send him anywhere safe - what Jotun could imagine anywhere safer than the heart of Jotunheim, the very court of their ruler?

He hid his son in the temple, consigning his Odinsson to the protection of his ancestors.

But Jotun are not the only ancestors his son has, he is reminded now. The father found the son, and when Laufey stumbled back into the temple, it was empty. His son was gone, the Casket was gone, and Laufey King froze as only a Jotun could freeze.

His blood barely moves even now - he cannot even dodge if the gold prince throws his great hammer. But the sight of the dark prince, his prince, warms him, and he knows he will stride the world again soon.

The dark prince shouts at the gold prince, pleads they must retreat as if the Aesir is his brother. The gold prince laughs, too caught up in battle-rage to heed any wisdom.

Laufey will tear his heart out personally, he decides. Let the Allfather lose what Laufey himself lost and never regain it.

The dark prince flees with his warriors, and blood boils beneath his skin. No! No! He will not lose his son again!

Never again.

The command to wake the great beast tears at his throat, and the smell of blood and ozone cracks the ice that had formed over him. The Aesir will all die, and he will melt that paleness from his son's body. Jotunheim will have its prince, Asgard will lose its own, and Odin Thief will take never steal from them again.

(He doesn't know Loki is already lost.)