“So it is done.” Odin sat heavily on the carved ice bench, his empty eye socket starting to ache again, throbbing and tired.
Laufey rumbled his agreement, adjusting the small bundle which was his youngest son in his arms.
“My people will require a show of good faith to accept the match,” A servant poured a mug of mulled wine beside Odin, who paused to take a swig, “The child will come to live on Asgard.”
Laufey’s eyes closed and he made no reply, tucking one tiny blue limb back into the swaddling cloth when it reached up.
“Come Laufey, you have two others. Do not let sentiment stand in the way of the peace.”
The Jotun remained silent, staring down at the babe, so small he could almost fit in the palm of his hand, so tiny and delicate and yet already so strong in magic. Laufey could feel the power coming off of his son even now. When the Ancients give they also take away, who would have thought such power would be found in such a tiny, precious runt?
They worked in mysterious ways as well. It had been the child’s gifts which had caught Odin’s one eye. The gift of seidr was rare enough even among the Jotun and non-existent among the Aesir, and had borne in the Allfather the idea of trading the child for peace rather than completely laying waste to Jotunheim, an idea which grew and flourished in his mind.
The youngest son of Laufey King and the mighty Farbauti, strongest of Jotunheim’s warriors, spear breaker, eye thief, Odin would have him for his own. The child for his right eye, it seemed a fair trade. The Allfather had almost laughed when he had seen the mewling creature which had been the undoing of Farbauti, the warrior who had come closest to felling him in battle.
He had witnessed Farbauti pull spears embedded in her back out with a laugh, had seen her rip the arms off Odin’s strongest men as if pulling a ripe apple from the end of a branch, and she had been felled birthing that? No wonder her stomach had not been swollen…
The idea of the trade, peace for the child, consumed the Allfather’s thoughts, started to invade his dreams. Soon he saw his own son, though little more than a babe himself, grown tall and mighty, ruler of the Nine Realms, and kneeling beside him a powerful Witch Queen, his seidr ways the perfect complement to Thor’s inevitable brute strength. So clear was the image in his mind that Odin declared it a vision from the Norns themselves.
And Odin Allfather was not one to question the wisdom of the Norns...
The Allfather leaned forward, putting out his arms to hold the child which Laufey gave up with a grunt. The babe whined at the movement but grew silent as he settled into place in the Allfather’s arms, staring up at him with those red in red eyes. Odin brushed a fingertip over a blue cheek, raising an eyebrow as the baby’s skin flushed with pink, spreading over the rest of the child’s face until he held a familiar, if quite pale, Aesir colouring.
“Well that will certainly make things easier for him…”
“He is too young to go now, he is still nursing. Let him come in his tenth year, when he is old enough to understand his purpose…” Laufey took his son back, relief flooding him as the blue settled back in the baby’s skin.
“He will come in his fifth, so he knows only one.”
Laufey growled, the impotency of his position feeling heavy over him, a thick blanket. He had lost the war, lost countless of his warriors, lost even his mate as she birthed the child alone with him on the battlefield, and now he was to lose his youngest son.
“And then we will receive the Casket?”
Odin took another sip of wine, “You will get it when a child is born, then the treaty will be complete.”
“You Aesir always were obsessed with progeny. That is the bride price, what of the dowry?”
“His gifts are dower enough. It is a fair trade.”
“My people will think that I value him little if I send him with nothing…”
“Then send him with whatever trinkets are fitting for one of his station,” Odin waved his hand, already tiring of this conversation. Trust a Jotnar to agree to a treaty to end a million year war and then get caught in the details of a babe’s dowry.
“He will need training in his gifts. He should return to his homeland during your summers to be trained and instructed by our sorcerers…six months of the year should be-”
“Four at most!”
“Fine! Four months of the year he will return to Jotunheim for instruction,” Laufey stole a look up at Odin. He was the loser of this war, and really should be grateful Odin had been so accommodating to this point, but he had one last thing he wanted:
“And I want Right of Annulment.”
Odin stared back at Laufey. He understood, and if their positions were reversed he would probably demand the same thing, the right to bring the child back if the marriage was unsuccessful; if one party was infertile or cruel were the usual standard terms. Odin could not recall if he had ever heard of the Right being invoked in his lifetime, but he knew why Laufey wanted it, a reminder to the child that he would not be completely alone on a foreign world, that there was someone watching over him, even from a distance.
The Allfather was not ungracious in victory...
“You shall have it. What is the child’s name again?”
“…I have named him Loki.”