Its the unusual creak of leather that wakes him and Mimir's eyes roll back in his head, opening a fraction, looking down. The boy is sitting a few feet away from him like he's been here for quite a while, a shadow among shadows, anxious and weary.
"I see you have returned," he states with a raps that echos out into the emptiness of his permanent home to where he has been secreted away after the whole fiasco with Hœnir. It's a lonely, quiet sanctuary Odin created for him in the dark and deep of Asgard, where the scions of Yggdrasil's mighty roots breach the fabric of realms. They hold him trapped, nourishing him lovingly, their white trichomes moving in the still air. It's a perpetual state of half-life they keep him in - he feels nothing, no pain, no hunger, no thirst, no fatigue. Only boredom that weights his mind down. No one ever came down here for a chat. Not even old One-Eye.
Well, things have changed. Not exactly for the better, but it has been an interesting few encounters, to say the least, and it has given him a sort of hope. Nothing more refreshing than the easily impressed mind of the young.
"Yes," the boy murmurs and stretches his legs as inconspicuously as possible, careful not to rouse Mimir's temper. Being locked here for centuries has given him funny ideas, of course, and if there's one thing he misses most it's the ability to move, to feel his own breath, the wriggle of toes, the slight of hand. Such displays of mobility just remind him of what he has lost and it has made him furious the first time the boy had stumbled down his grave.
"You're very stubborn," he says after a long pause, staring down at his young visitor, who has taken to call himself Loptr. Mimir might have been down here for longer than he cares, but he likes to think he has lost little of his wit. If there's one thing Mimir prides himself in, it's not to let himself be deceived by his own assumptions and less by the words of others. Loptr is quite the smooth talker, all supple and complying. Yet the shadows he cloaks himself in are long and deep. Mimir cannot penetrate them even with his sight and he's only ever caught the barest of glimpses of his shape. He's unusually lanky and gangly, not tall at all - nothing of Ravenfriend's stature. Unimpressive. Treacherous. Not-Áss. There is only one person in all of Asgard like him.
Well, well. Odin has put the cuckoo into his own nest and it has come to him to learn more about its nature.
"I told you, I have time," Loptr says unfazed.
"So do I."
"I can wait." A shrug, the curious move of a dark head and Mimir wants to despise this creature sitting in front of his prison so calmly and collected. He's goading him with Mimir's own desperation, a very clever move and he cannot do anything at all. Because he's been hanging here, in this gnarly, snaggy altar-like wall of Yggdrasil's icy scions ever since Odin doomed him to his fate as his personal oracle.
"Yes, I believe you can." Mimir closes his eyes again, waits, counts the minutes as the endless, cold silence stretches in his stony chambers and with it Loptr's patience.
"I've been thinking about our last meeting," Loptr finally says, unprompted. There are flecks of light spilling from the far end at the staircase, that unattainable staircase, highlighting a cheekbone, the tip of a nose as the boy leans forward. "About what you said."
"And what would that be?"
Loptr suddenly jumps up with a jerk, comes closer, as close as he dares because Mimir is still hrímþurs and his breath like the frost of thousand winters. He leans in to whisper conspiratorially. "Not enough for one. Just right for two, too much for three."
Mimir considers this for a moment, feels the boy's gaze heavy on him, weighting him. "You have nothing," he eventually says, because despite all his cunning, the one thing Mimir truely wants, Loptr cannot give him.
"No?" Loptr whispers mockingly, hardly surpressing his excitement. "I have found the way, despite your ludicrous fears."
"You know to where."
"Oh yes," Loptr stretches the sibilant until it sounds like the hiss of a snake, sure and triumphant.
"You survived," Mimir says after a pause. This changes everything.
"I always do. No thanks to you." He can hear the smile in his smooth voice and Loptr moves back, sits down again to look at Mimir suspended among the branches as he is, reeling with this information.
"And how did that make you feel?"
"Glad you ask. The riff nearly tore me apart and I was stranded in the interstice for longer than I care. But I'm good. Real good." There's the flash of sharp, white teeth.
"Pity," Mimir grounds out. It would have been better for all had the universe torn Lotpr asunder for his trespassing but that is not to be his fate, apparently. "You are young and foolish to attempt such an unsteady jump between worlds."
Lotpr's laugh is biting and mirthless, at Mimir's expense no doubt. "And you are trapped. Odin will not let you go. You need me."
"I cannot give you that what you most desire," and it is true. The secrets he still keeps are the rarest gems, powerful and dangerous, and not even Odin Grimbeard could hold them. Loptr's mind would wither with them, and those secrets Mimir has already spilled are lost with the Aesir King's greed. There is no hope for the race of frost giants, Mimir learned -- had to learn when Fimbulvetr had called to him for the first time. It pained him to hear its song so far from home, trapped in the realm of eternal spring just like him. He'd been furious at Odin then, roaring loudly but unheard in his timeless chamber. Yggdrasil's branches had merely wrapped themselves around him tighter, their sharp bark cutting into his mouth to mute him for centuries until his rage had faded away like snowflakes in the sun.
But he's tempted. Tempted by this creature with its false promises. It's been so long and he's revealed more secrets than he should have already. Spilled the truth about the pathways between the realms, because he had been arrogant and unguarded in his boasting. Worse, even, that Loptr figured out the location of the first port all on his own. Mimir does not dare to imagine what else he must have discovered there.
"Maybe we want the same," Loptr says too eagerly.
"If you've hung here for a millennium like me, we'll talk about desires."
"Mimir the Wise, you may know a man's heart, but you do not know me."
"Don't I? It's in your every step, your every word. You seek a power only the weak wish to possess and you offer little in exchange but insults, eaten up by contempt and envy," Mimir mocks. "There is not much else to you."
"To Hel with you!", Loptr curses and springs to his feet suddenly - the lean, brisk form paces back and forth, all semblance of control lost to his rage of not getting what he came for. Mimir has hit his heart where it is most vulnerable. "You ghost of a... giant! Letting Odin enfeeble and subdue you! Rot here for all I care."
Mimir laughs as he feels the air shift with Loptr's sudden departure, but he knows Loptr will be back. Very soon, in fact, no doubt with a new scheme, a new trick to milk the knowledge out of him and it's just a question of time until Mimir gives in. The possibility of freedom is too close to not reach for it. But he's got a trick or two up his sleeve, too. He's learned from his mistakes and he will not reveal his secrets to one who thinks he sees all but understands little. Because even if Mimir has not seen his form, he's seen his mind - a cold, empty creature among the gold-warm Æsir, so different and despised, his bitterness radiating of off him like icy steams.
Yes, perhaps when Loptr brings proof of his skills next time, he might tell him how to enter Jǫtunheimr without fear of death and how to conceal a few unwanted guests. If he's lucky and Loptr is all the snake he seems to be, they can bring down the Allfather, for his treachery and breach of friendship. For letting the Vanir have his way with him, for banning him to the nether caverns of Asgard.
Loptr will bring him one of the hrímþurs or two and he'll walk again, talk again, act again. Fimbulvetr's call has gone unheard for too long. The thought pleases him and smoothes out the wrinkles in his face as he relaxes. To wait, to think and maybe, just maybe, he'll tell Laufey's lost child of its true nature and enjoy the look on his face when Odin's greatest deceit crushes him.
It will all add up in the end.