This is the story of two brothers.
One brother was as golden and mighty as if he had been blessed by a sun, and the other was as fair and haunting as if he had been born of the starlight. Each was a prince of the most powerful people in the universe, and each had undeniable strengths and hidden vulnerabilities. The child of the sun was fearless and brash, while the child of the starlight was guarded but clever. The threads of their lives ran parallel for many years, intertwining only when a bond of great trust grew between them, never to be broken.
Or so it was thought.
A turning point was reached where one brother, rent by his own inner torments, faded into shadow, while the other brother grew more luminous, as the halves of an interwoven lifeline are wont to do. Thus, the younger brother was lost to rage and envy, and he fell into darkness.
The golden child mourned the absence of his sibling, but he managed to channel the light at his disposal to the benefit of those in his care, even in worlds beyond his own. Yet his mind always strayed to thoughts of the brother who had been lost to him. Without the other other’s balance, the thread of the bright one’s life began to unravel, the strands separating and leaving the weft of his life in disarray. As the younger brother began to try to turn from his misdeeds, he recalled that his purpose in the universe was ultimately bound by fate, and he would, therefore, have his final days written by the hand of destiny, for he was to set in motion an event that would define his existence.
The end of all things.
This tale will not end well.
I say this not because I am the primary narrator of this story (although that may well be enough to merit a sense of foreboding) but because all that I am about to relate to you has been foreseen, in one manner or another. I am of Asgard, or at least I was raised as such, and that allows me a certain perspective when it comes to events of epic proportions: they happen. They always have. Oh, we may go as many as four or five centuries without an occurrence that ends in devastation for one race or another or which shakes the foundations of Yggdrasil itself, but, eventually, the eyes of the Norns fall upon each one of us. It seems to me -- for Asgardians, anyway -- that this truth is more frequent than for inhabitants of other realms. Therefore, I am not typically one to embellish the magnitude of a situation, and so you can believe me when I say that what happens from here onward will be rather important.
There has been endless speculation about the manner of the ending of the world, practically since the beginning of it. Midgardian man (and woman, to be fair) in particular has always had a gleeful fascination with imagining the large-scale destruction of his world, whether it be in works sacred or profane. The measure of the appropriateness of some of these acts seems almost arbitrary. For example, if your chosen deity torches the entirety of your known world in a prophesied act of purification, then that is an event to be at the very least endured, if not celebrated. Oddly, however, if someone from a neighboring clan comes and levels your village, then that action is labelled ‘incendiary’. I should know -- you see, I have been ostracized for some rather ‘incendiary’ behavior recently. But we can return to that point at the appropriate time.
Personally, I have borne witness to the affairs of the Nine Realms for over a millennium. I have seen times of war, times of peace, and the uneasy reprieves that lie in between. I have personally fought, bled, and killed in the service of others; more recently, I have fought, bled, and killed for reasons that were mine alone. And during the quieter times . . . well, I did my share of harmless meddling and mischief-making. Well, perhaps not completely harmless, but it was always intended to be.
Alright, it was mostly intended to be.
Regardless of the path that has led to this moment, I find myself here, balanced upon the peak of a pivotal instance with no friends or allies to aid me. It is a scene that is quite familiar, I assure you -- and, thus, there is no more need to worry for me than there has ever been. What I do have now, however, is an overabundance of both parchment and privacy, and so I have chosen to spend the opportunity with which I have been afforded by purging myself of all my thoughts in written form simply because I have the resources to do it. It will pass the hours until I can conceive of what else to do -- to devise some method to impede the inevitable, to divert a narrative that has been oft foretold. It has always been my misfortune that my greatest solutions come to me only when my mind is occupied with other matters, and so I am obliged to scribble out these worthless missives until the moment of my epiphany arrives.
I should start at the beginning, then, and yet I find myself at another disadvantage in regards to the starting point. There are dozens of possible moments in time I could choose, each of which could be considered a catalyst for one of the events that have led the Aesir down this path, the course of which has been predetermined since before most of the primary players were even born. Thus, you see my dilemma. In order to remedy this polytomous narrative I have chosen to focus my account on those elements that are most profoundly known to myself, meaning the ones in which I was personally involved. I attest that I do this for no other reason than to streamline the number of plotlines that I must interweave to lead my chronicle from its beginning to its end and not for any personal advantage that I might attain from being the center of the tale.
I know, I know -- it is quite convenient for me, though, is it not?
If you knew my current situation, however, you would find that there is little else in my circumstances that could be characterized as favorable. I have been divested of both my advantage and my freedom, which I consider to be most uncharacteristic of myself even during the most trying happenstance. I can offer no excuse other than that it is the end of the world, and, therefore, I may be a little ‘off my game,’ as it were. Yet I must come to a solution with some immediacy or the sacrifices of others will be rendered meaningless, and I am a firm believer that, if you must give up something you cherish, its loss should have a definitive purpose. I am nothing if not sentimental -- or merely practical, depending on how you may have interpreted that statement.
And I am about to lose everything. Quite practically.
--From a letter by Loki Laufeyson, written within a locked chamber of Hel.