The war had lasted centuries beyond its prophesied end. Decades had passed and thousands upon thousands had been sent to the after life by the time it was finished. The king victorious took a breath of relief as he caught the first glimpse of his palace gleaming in the glorious sunlight. The tall spires seemed to welcome him home. The long road stretched out before the king and his horse strode across the rough ground like smoke.
His army marched exhausted yet proud behind him. The men smiled and talked among themselves as they marched holding off their fatigue till the time was right and they were home. There were less than two thousand marching now. Most had returned to their family's as soon as they were able. The king himself wished only to see his family again, and begrudged no man that desire. Now that the war was over there was no need for brooding faces and the king himself smiled and spoke of lighthearted subjects with his generals as they moved. The conquering solders were in a strict conflict with the defeated soldiers marching with them. The prisoners hung their heads low and shuffled along creating a dull music with the chains they bore. The conquered king lead the small hoard of defeated solders with his head held high and fierce determination despite the dark blood that still leaked down his face. His young son following closely by his side, trying to mimic the proud stance of his father.The boy flinched every time one of the guards bumped into him or shouted to keep in line. There were story’s that the boy was a bastard, Mother by a powerful sorceress. Not that the king cared much, but he did find it interesting that the boy would be brought along to the final battle. Perhaps he had wanted to prove himself to his father, or the queen had insisted the boy be sent with the army. It would not be the first time war was used as an a weapon against unwanted children. It could be both, or something completely different. The king felt sorry for the boy, he was about the age as his own son. The young prince looked around at his smiling captors like he expected them to suddenly drop their cheerful manner and become cold and cruel. He knew what the boy was thinking about. During war there were always stories of the enemy’s barbaric ways and the undesirable consequences of being captured. Victory had been hard won and the men looked forward to the spoils of it. However it had been made perfectly clear that the king would kill any man that forced himself on any that did not wish it. The followers camp was well stocked with whores both male and female, and the king was pleased at the control him men showed in the midst of blood lust.
The war had taken many things from his people. The greatest city on their planet had been reduced to little more than rubble in the enemy’s attack. The greatest secret their planet held had been built up to protect the Innocent. The newly built palace sat at the top of the mountain like a diamond. The city spiraled down the slopes in elegant curved roads and strings of elegant house. The wall that enclosed the city was tall and strong. Before the war there had been no such need to create prisoners of citizens, but as with everything else that had change. There was great celebration as they marched through the gates. The women and children cheered and shouted for the conquering heroes. The procession winded its way to the great palace. The happy shout of family’s reuniting brought a smile to the face of the king. This war had killed many (far too many in his opinion.) good loyal men and women. They halted before the crown room to allow those that did not absolutely need to be there to go rejoin their family's. The only thing on the royal mind was getting inside to find his own family. He knew his wife would be waiting for him on the throne he had left in her safe keeping, and hopefully his youngest son who had been wounded would be able to come greet him. However he moved among his men talking and laughing with them as was his duty. One of his officers presents him with a new child. The king holds the energetic boy, smiling at him and his parents. They tell him how glad they are to be home and how proud they are to have served both their king and their world. They speak of light and sure topics as the army dispels, leaving the guards for the prisoners and the kings royal escort. The doors fly open and the kings heart almost breaks with happiness. The king marched into the hall followed by his entourage surrounded by the cheers and shouts of civilians that line the walls. There on the thrown sits his queen and wife, looking as beautiful as he remembered and made even more so for his absence from her side. Standing next to her at the right side of the thrown is his son, his arm was still in a sling but the smile that graced his face at the sight of his father was bright and happy.
“Laufey.” The queen called jumping out of the thrown and rushing to her husband with less grace than befitted a queen, but all the passion that befitted a wife. She threw her arms around him and pulled him close.
“Farbauti! I have missed you.” Abandoning his oath to keep his dignity he grabbed his wife around the waist and twirled her around in a circle lost for a moment in his joy. He returned her to the ground, turning to find his last and youngest son standing a few feet away smiling at the pair and shaking his head.
“Loki! I have missed you also.” Laufey clasped his son on the shoulder and bent down to press their foreheads together. His son may not be the son of his queen, but he still loved him with all his heart. He looked back at his army and was surprised to find the eyes of Odin and his son on Laufey’s small family. Odin had a calculating gaze that even with one eye made Laufey unconsciously shift in font of Farbauti. He had always disliked the way Odin looked at those around him. The Aesir king watch everyone as thought he was constantly estimating how much use he could get out of them, even his wife and children. It made Laufey uneasy and protective. His gaze fell next on the son of Odin whose blue eyes kept flickering from the floor to Loki. For all the wind and sky Laufey could not remember the boys name, but the flush that was faintly creeping up his pink face left little doubt about his estimation of the young jotun.
“Father? The people. You should address them.” His son smiled at him as he tilted his head to the doors where people had gathered. Even from where he was he could see the smiled of the people as they watched their king greet his family.
“The people can wait. You are healing well, you look almost fully recovered. Your eyes are a little cloudy.”
“Yes the horse had strong legs. There were points were we thought we might lose him. It is a good thing he had a head of rock. It is as hard for it to break as it is to compromise.” Farbauti touched both their shoulders and smiled down at them. Tightening her grip as Laufey shuddered. The image of his sons broken body was one that he would no doubt dread to see in his dreams. He had charged Loki to help his older brother Byleist take the Asgardian out post on the cracked plains. Byleist was a strong warrior, but was foolish and arrogant in strategy. The kings hope had been that the two would benefit from the partnership, and for a short time that seemed to be the case, with Loki’s brain and Byleist’s brawn they took the outpost and three others that were nearby. They were set upon a few nights later when they traveled back to give their reports. Laufey had found them the next day, Loki still clutching a spear trying to protect his brothers body. Laufey had not shed a single tear until he was sure that Loki was alive. His anger had blinded him in a way that he had not experienced before. Only a few short months ago he had lost his other true born son: Helbindi was a cruel child, selfish and determined to make the lives around him difficult. Laufey could not say he had loved all his children equally, but he did love all his children and the loss of both had angered him to the point of careless action. Seeing Loki bloody and broken left to gasp out his last breaths alone in unimaginable agony surrounded by the corpses of his kin. Laufey had ordered that the men responsible be found and killed. He offered a reward for the heads of those that had killed one son and almost killed another. It was the most barbaric thing he had ever done in war. Gold for flesh. He was ashamed. Yes, but every time he thought of Loki he knew that the message he sent would never be something he regrets: ‘Touch my family your life ends in pain and terror.’
“ I am less thickheaded than I was. However if you preferred it, I am sure I could accommodate you.”
“By the moons no. I remember the arguments you and your father would have when you were a child. I will not be responsible for that sort of return.” Laufey stiffly got to his feet leaning a bit heavily on Loki, just to watch the pride his son displayed at the chance to help his father. He took a step away from his family and turned to face the hall, now full with onlookers ready for the celebration to continue.
“People of Jotunheim. The armies of Asgard have been vanquished. Those that seek to destroy our world will think twice before they attempt it again. We have lost many fine and noble warriors. We honor them.” The crowd bowed their collective heads in memory of those fallen. The prisoners fell still and silent no doubt awaiting punishment for having killed those that were being honored.
“Let the celebrations begin!” Laufey drew his family close and quickly making their way into the the dinning hall. Loki pulled away from his father with a smile telling him to go enjoy the feast, his duty was to see to the prisoners and he would return when they had been seen to. The king and Queen both watched with pride at Loki leading the prisoners and guards out of the halls and up to the keep. Farbauti took his hand and lead him to his seat at the high table.
“He is mature for his age. So much more than me when I was his age.”
“He is so much of a man. I sometimes think he grew up to fast.”
“He got into plenty of trouble.”
“Very little of it was instigated by him and you know it.” Farbauti shook her head remembering the antics the three bothers got into.
“Yes. Though I believe you and Loki were responsible for many meals that went missing from the kitchen.” He smiled at his wife's mischievous guilt. “It gladdened my heart when you two became friends.” A shadow passed over the queens face as she remembered.
she had been angry. She had not expected Laufey to not avail himself of the pleasures of the followers camp while he was away, but when he brought back a small boy that he proclaimed as his son, it was not a insult she would bare lightly. The boy was young and small. He looked absolutely terrified of everything around him. His innocence and the way he clutched at Laufey’s hand only made her rage bun the hotter. For the first few months she would rant and rage at Laufey, calling him every deplorable name she could think of and making up a few for good measure. She could tell that Loki wanted to please her yet was terrified to come near. She was not proud of the pleasure she took in his fear. One day as they were eating dinner the two older boys, started teasing Loki. They spoke of how small and frail he was, he would never be much good as a warrior. He might do to work in the kitchens, but no, he had no endurance. Laufey had been dragged away on some matter or another, and it was Farbauti’s responsibility to tell them off however to her everlasting shame she encouraged them to continue. In the back of her mind he hoped Loki would ask Laufey to let him go back to his mother, wherever she was. They spoke of how his skin was pail and almost green, how his eyes were more pink than red. How his markings where thin and practically nonexistent. How in fact if Laufey had not declared it, they would not have been sure he was even a jotun. At this point Loki ran from the room with tears streaming down his face. Farbauti did not want to go after him, but she knew that Laufey would return soon and if Loki was not there they would all be in for a stern lecture. It took her longer than she thought it would to find him. He was just outside the palace siting on a small hill. The tears that still ran down his face mixed with the blood on his chest and arms. Farbauti clapped a hand to her mouth in horror and rushed to the small boys side. He gasped and pulled away in a panic, with the knife he had used to deepen his markings still clutched in his hand. Farbauti felt sick to her stomach as she brought him to the healers. She had tried to comfort him until he passed out from the pain of having his wounds cleaned. She sat by his bed as he slept and felt sick at what she had done. The boy had never asked for this. He had no doubt been devastated to leave his mother and only allowed it for the love of his father. He had come to this strange new world and been met with nothing but rage, contempt and hate. She looked at the small pail boy and remembered how she had felt when she was first married to Laufey. They loved one another from the moment they talked, but until that moment Farbauti was determined to climb out the window and run away she was so scared. Loki was her son, maybe not by blood, but she would make sure that he knew she would always be his mother. It had taken almost a year for Loki to feel comfortable in her company, and a year after that for him to look her in the eye when she told him she loved him, but eventually they managed it. When the word came that Loki’s birth mother had died. He curled up on his fathers lap and let Farbauti brush his hair and sing him songs till he fell asleep. After that the two had been inseparable. Their love of magic kept them in the great library for days on end. They walked the roots of Yggdrasil. Visiting many worlds and many people. Going to the realm of the dark dwarfs and having them make Loki a spear of his own that would return to him and cut thorough any armor, as well as a set of throwing knives that would never miss their target. Both king and queen remember the day, where Loki came charging into the room with his new weapons shouting happily about their beauty and balance. He sat himself on his fathers lap and made him examine each one offering praise for each. The King and queen had looked at one another and realized that this child was more like them that either of their biological borne ones.
Chapter 2: 2
The feast was full of laughter and song. Some old retelling that everyone knew and enjoyed, some newly written specially for the victory celebration that were applauded with enthusiasm. Loki reappeared soon enough and sat happily next to his father. The crowd ate and sang and laughed, finally turning to the king and toasting his leadership and bravery. They toasted the queen and her steady rule and guidance. The toasted those that had fallen in battle. Both Byleist and Helbindi.
“To Loki the last prince of Jotunheim. His sacrifice of blood and use of intelligence making us stronger even in his absence.” The voice that spoke was unfamiliar to the king, but when that man stood and raise his glass to Loki he recognized the man as one that had been in the royal search party. There was a moment of silence as all looked between Loki and the young soldier. Then as one the hall sprang to its feet raising its collective glasses and in a great roar intoned
“To Loki, the last prince of Jotunheim.” The small dark haired prince looked shocked to included in the toasts. He blushed a beautiful color when the king and queen rose from their own seats and turned towards him with glasses raised. Echoing the toast with somber tone and smiling faces. Loki in turn silently raised a glass and faced the standing assembly, he raised his drink high then brought it back to his lips. There was thunderous applause, and Loki blushed harder, shyly tucking a long lock of hair behind his ear. The hall seated themselves and the feast continued. Laufey sat back in his chair and smiled at his son. The young solder that had made the toast to Loki was trying very hard to catch the eye of the young prince. Farbauti took her husbands hand and smiled leaning close to his ear and whimpering.
“I believe he has an admirer.”
“yes. It would be his first.”
“The first one to feel that way for him yes. Thought no the first that he has had eyes for.”
Laufey dropped his smile in a moment and looked at his wife in true terror.
“He is not a boy. And neither are the ones he admires.”
“No of course not, but has he done more than admire them.”
“Laufey, are you worried for your sons ventures.”
“Seeing as he is the only one of my children to have any, I am understandably protective.”
“Father The only value virtues have is when they are given away.”
“Loki!” Laufey nearly screamed. He clapped a hand over his mouth in absolute horror. He pulled himself together and breathed heavenly into his wine glass while his son and wife smiled at one another over his shoulder.
“Calm yourself fey, your son is only trying to kill you. Do not give him the pleasure.”
“He is succeeding.”
“Father.” Loki took his fathers hand and nodded his head to the entrance arch where a guard was standing respectfully trying to find the right moment to speak with his king.
“Who is he Loki?”
“He is fostuby, one of the guards I had looking after the aesir prisoners.”
“Why is he here and not at his post?”
“He is a loyal man father. If he is here and attempting to speak to you it is not a trivial matter.” Loki spared a glance over to the tower entrance and then rose to his feet, moving quickly and gracefully around the servants and guests to speak with the guard. Farbauti gently tugged at her husbands arm and directed his attention to the young man that had made Loki his toast. He had risen to his feet as Loki had and was carefully making his way towards the young prince as he made his way back to his father. The young man continued his shadow approach as Loki stopped at his fathers side.
“Odin All Father summons you, to speak of terms.”
One look at the faces of the royal family and the hall of celebration fell silent as the grave. The great insult issued by the aiser king created a great well of anger in the jotun kings mind. He stood with fists clenched around thee base of his wine glass, turning to the congregated throng.
“Friends please continue the feast.” A smile seemed to have forced it way onto the kings face.
“I and my son have a few matters to take care of and shall rejoin you in one moment. I leave my lovely wife in your hands once again. Make sure she is properly entertained and her glass always full.” He places a kiss on the top of her head and a reassuring squeeze on her shoulder, he then turned away with Loki and made his way out of the hall and to the tower.
“king Laufey! Prince Loki!” Loki’s admirer had at last broken his distance. “Please allow me to accompany you.”
“Why would you wish such a thing even if i did allow it.” Laufey replied without a glance at the man not a halt in his steps.
“You are going to the tower to speak to the king of Asgard. I wish to protect you and prince Loki.” The young man stood strong with his head high and shoulders strong. Laufey stopped before the keeps entrance way. He finally turned to the young man and fixed him with a glare that had warlords looking guiltily at their toes.
“You do not wish to protect me. You wish to protect the prince. You wish to take my son into your bed and this is nothing more than a way to achieve such.”
“My King! NO! I would never!”
“So you do not find my son attractive? You would not have him in your bed?”
“NO! My Lord. Prince Loki is...! I would gladly! I simply meant.”
“Then what do you mean? Do not think of telling me lies.”
“I am not lying, I would never lie.”
“Then what do you intend, to despoil my son or spurn him?” Laufey had backed the young man into the wall and was towering over him, his rage and anger only fed by the mans confusion and defiance.
“Nether! I simply wish to protect him.”
“ENOUGH!” Loki’s voice echoed thorough the stone and ice like a avalanche. Laufey and the young man turned to look at him in astonishment. The old guard who had been standing and watching the mismatched showdown with Loki looked as thought he had just been hit over the head with a small mountain. Loki pulled his father away and pinned him where he was with a stare that could command planets.
“Father you are angry and I understand that. However it is not becoming of a king to take it out of his people. Calm yourself and then we will proceed.” Loki then turned to the stunned young man. His back still against the wall Loki moved to him with quick confidant steps.
“what is your name?”
“Erek.” Loki’s lips twitched as if he were trying to hide a smile.
“Erek, I do not need your protection. I am great-full to your loyalty and dedication to both myself and my father, but I can and will defend myself from any I deem foe. Is that understood.”
“Yes my prince.” Loki nodded apparently pleased and turned to his father without moving away from Erek.
“Father, if you are satisfied to his intentions we can address the true issue of if he should accompany us.” Laufey let out a shaky laugh and gave his son a small bow.
“I leave him in your hands Loki.” Loki smiled at his father and inclined his head to him again, then turned and took a step closer to Erek. There was less than half a foot between the two young men as loki spoke.
“You are the first person to toast me. I did not expect it and was surprised to be featured at all in the celebrations. I am grateful and so for that reason you may accompany us. Is that understood.”
“Yes my prince.” Erek’s eyes never left Loki’s. Loki nodded and then moved to the keeps entrance. The party started to climb the stairs with the king and older guard first while Loki was trailed at a respectful distance by Erek. Till Loki turned quickly on the second landing and whispered into his ear.
“I was flattered by your words, however if you truly want to bed me you will have to work harder than that.” The prince pulled away with a sly wink and then rushed up the stairs after his father soon followed by a smiling Erek.
The keep was nothing more than three or four large round rooms stacked on top of one another. With a dozen or so long thin vertical slits in the stone that let in the wind and chill and one large metal door at the east point. The same metal forged in frozen fire was used to build the floor to ceiling cells that contained the prisoners. Seven or eight to each. All the prisoners were huddled together on the weed pallets under whatever pelts and blankets they had with them. A few looked at the strange party walking past, but most simply tried to remain as invisible as possible. In the last cell surrounded by his most trusted men sat Odin all father, those that were old enough to remember still called him Odin evil worker. The chair of thin wood looked to be a thrown of gold under Odin. His advisers stood in a lose circle around him, draped in furs and cloaks the all father stopped their whisperer conversation when they caught sight of the party. The son of Odin sat at the back of the cell with a small blanket draped over his shoulders. He watched Loki with frightened curious eyes, ducking down when Loki caught his glance. Odin rose to his feet as though he were in a his palace, the men around him fell back a step, as he addressed his captor.”
“Laufey, you have won this war but you have neither the numbers nor the inclination to subjugate Asgard.” Odin was a proud man. Cruel, and hard by any estimation. Laufey had spoken of his pompous arrogance to Loki many times, the young prince was not disappointed.
“I have no need to rule Asgard. With you here the realm shall descend into civil war that will last for generations. If I wish to control your kingdom all I need do is wait.” The king’s smile was small and full of self satisfaction. Laufey could play just as well as any. And he had already won.
“You have only one son. I have three. They will unite to defeat you, even if I am dead.” everyone except Odin immediately knew that he had made a mistake. The Jotun king turned cold and hard in an instant. His sons had fought. They had died in battle. Odin had killed them. Odin was the reason only Loki lived.
“That is true I have only one son, and you have three. And what sort has your seed sprouted. Come here boy lets have a look at you.”
Loki took a step closer as if to examine the aesir boy. His father gestured for the two guards stationed by the door to come forward. Odin was a warrior, not a Politician. Laufey was both. The battle that raged silently between them was hideously mismatched. Everyone but the Asier king could see it. Loki never one for pointless posturing and addressed he young prince while the other busied themselves slinging barbs and insults past the bars.
“What is your name?” His voice was stern and royal, but he gave the boy a half smile pushed as much warmth and kindness into it as he thought he could.
“I am Thor.” Thor looked up at Loki not quite meeting his eyes. The blush that crept up his face had Loki laughing to himself.
“I am Loki.”
“Then you know more about me than I do about you.” Loki lowered himself to one knee so he was at eye level with Thor, who had not moved from his seat on the floor.
“I was told stories.” Thor finale returned the smile Loki had refused to drop. The blond asgardian was younger than the jotun by a few years, but he was larger and stronger that Loki’s slim build. He seemed more frightened and shy, and was just as terrified to bring Odin’s eye on him as Laufey’s.
“What stories. I know there are a few about my time over on Midgaurd, but I’m not sure how you would have heard of those.” Loki gave the blond a conspiratorial wink that promised several of those stories later, it had Thor blushing to his ears and dropping his gaze to his bare feet. Loki followed his gaze and threw a quick look at his father. Loki had caught onto Laufeys plan the moment Odin had taken his fatal misstep.
“You must be cold, what happened to your shoes.”
“They were lost.”
“So someone larger took them from you.” The boy ducked his head in shame. Loki gave Odin’s back a glare. “Why don’t you come with me, we can leave them to argue for a while.” only Erek was paying attention to the conversation and thought he may not have been a quick understand the king as loki he was quickly catching up. .
“What? Why?” Thor’s voice was shaking and confused.
“You need shoes and a better blanket that that old rag. You are the prince of Asgard we can not have you freezing to death.” The boy looked around him for council, but no one was forthcoming from the crowd of warriors intent on Odin and Laufeys duel.
“Come over to the door.” Loki smiled and started to move silent as a shadow. Thor did the same with much less grace than his counterpart. In three moves the door was opened, thor was out and the door was closed with a slam. The shouts and screams from the cell followed the three boys down the hall as loki and Erek took thor down the hall and out of the keep.