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He fell into nothing. So he thought, at first. An endless nothing, into which receded all he had lost, all he had been. All he had known.

He fell, into nothing, and it had been … almost peaceful. Almost right. As his hand let go, as he surrendered. Beyond fighting. Beyond loss. A simple … emptiness. A void, a nothing into which he tumbled. No history. No identity. No monstrosity. No loss.

No Loki.

In the emptiness, he had seen death. In the emptiness, he had surrendered. In the emptiness, it had been … good.

But the void … was not empty. And space … was not a nothing.

For in the falling, there emerged stars. Tumbling between worlds, fallen from the bridge. They spread out around him. Embraced him, in a strange, breathless, vibrating silence. Fell into his open eyes, fell into his open hand. Light. Worlds. A field of them, endless, undaunted. Waiting.

Not empty. Not nothing. In the space between two worlds, a thousand more. A hundred thousand. On and on, without cease, without end, and in that fall, itself endless, Loki saw them. A great map of the heavens, stars without number, and in those falling moments, in that one, endless breath … they were with him. They were his. Worlds without end, who knew not his monstrousness. They were there. They belonged, in that moment, only to him.

When he landed, when there came that sudden end, it was to pain. It was to fear. It was to identity, and knowledge, and the agony of lost emptiness. When he landed, it was to pain.

But he remembered. Two things. The best, and most important of all things. He remembered emptiness, the calm peace of death.

And he remembered worlds, and the glimmering chance, to have something more.

“You have fallen far,” rasped the mouth of madness, a cold whisper in his ear. “The Master would know … what it is you have seen.”

Loki raised his head. Raised his eyes, which had seen wonders, and looked into the heart of madness, and the titan that waited there. He raised his head. And he smiled.

“I have seen conquest,” he murmured, low and savage. “I have seen death.”

And for reasons he did not understand, at that, the dark king upon his throne smiled, a rich and vicious smirk, and the mouth at Loki’s ear whispered, soft as poison: “Then, young king … we have much to talk about.”