The sound of an Asgardian Cockerel crowing heralded the dawn of a new day and Erika woke up to find herself in her mother’s kitchen, just where she had nodded off the day before. Stretching out, she yawned and looked over to the window where bright sunshine was pouring in. Yet it was not the golden sunshine of a summer’s day; it was of a different hue. A bit fresher and somewhat bluish in tone. More like an autumnal day. She got up and went to fill the kettle in order to make a pot of tea, and the cockerel crowed again. Erika glanced at the timepiece on the hearth and saw that it was only half past five, yet she felt refreshed and well rested. It was amazing what an exciting day and an early night in a place she loved could do for some decent sleep!
Erika went about her toilet and then breakfasted lightly, making a list of all the things still left to do to close up the house. Once she had washed up her breakfast crockery she saw it was approaching half past six and she left for the Palace to get there in good time to begin her duties for the King of Asgard. Her King.
Now we take a bit of a different turn in this tale because it is often forgotten, in the heat of the moment during an involved fan-written fiction, just what kind of creature Loki is. For a moment, allow the author to speak to you directly and gently remind you that all of these (nearly 400K) words are obviously pure fiction. They are about “my” Loki and the various characters, both real and imagined, who I have allowed into his life. My weakness and indeed my desire to see it all turn out happily ever after for him are false hopes, as we all know what his final fate will be. It is simply up to me as your writer to weave something which is hopefully entertaining along the way as I take him there. Yet I yearn to try to involve the wonderful myths and legends from whence this wonderful character sprang and so I have researched for many hours to try to glean a little of what is supposed to have happened. As I am sure any of you who have started to read up on the Norse legends have found, the source material is ancient, incomplete and open to widely differing interpretation. There is a lot of “faction” out there which confuses the issue by stating things which are not verified as being the truth and there is of course all the fiction, which some also assume to be the truth.
In short, it is not easy to get your “facts” right about these legends, especially when your area of expertise is not in historical research and you have not a single clue how to read the Old Norse language anyway – like me! I hope I do the legends justice in how I bring them into my story, but please remember I have added quite a lot of artistic license – for example ALL the dialogue – in order to try to entertain you. This is “faction” and is not by any means how it is really supposed to have happened.
Now to get back to my original point: the kind of creature Loki is. Basically, he is anything you want him to be, because he is the Trickster, The Spirit of Chaos, of Fire. He is The Mischief. He wants you to like him. He wants you to love him, to root for him when he’s in trouble. Why? Because he is a narcissistic bringer of trouble who does not want to have to suffer any of the consequences of his actions. He is an outsider wanting to be the centre of attention. Add to that the fact that he is supposed to be an attractive creature no matter his disguise and we are suddenly presented with a dangerous mix. And that is the crux of the matter. Loki is dangerous. He is possibly one of the most dangerous Gods around because he is not obviously out to harm you. He will charm you, he will persuade you, con you, seduce you and only afterwards will you wonder what the hell happened. Add to that the fact that we, as mortals, have decided to allow a certain handsome and charming British actor by the name of Tom Hiddleston to play him in the film adaptations and it really is game over for a lot of people! You can find a clip of that adorable man in his #Loki dressing room here: He's Back
So, having broken the equivalent of the fourth wall in a film, I will now recede into the background once more to continue the narration of “my” Loki’s life and I’m about to ramp up the Nordic input. Enjoy.
It is not easy planning the downfall of the House of Odin. The reasons for wanting to do it were numerous; some of them lost in distant foggy memory, but some were still quite fresh and raw. Things did not seem to be leading necessarily on to the dreaded Ragnarok however and Loki was quite confident that he had managed to get his own way without killing nearly everyone off, including himself of course. As he lay in his bed staring up at the small gaps in the drapes where the faint light heralded the dawn however, there was one thing which was spoiling all of this: his nightmares. He needed to do something about them, that much was obvious, but why was he having them in the first place? They were a mixture of memories of the abyss and scenes which he could not fathom out and which he had to assume were either his own mind trying to make sense of various things in his life or… or which were potentially prophetic. Either way, he was not happy about them and wanted rid of them.
Sighing in frustration at his lack of sleep he turned onto his side and grabbed a pillow to curl up against, burying his handsome but tired face in it and hoping to manage to get a short undisturbed nap before having to get up to face the day.
The setting for all these interwoven strands of life in Loki’s tale was of course the Great Tree of Yggdrasil, where all the Nine realms resided, along with the many paths and in-between-worlds and all those creatures who were harboured within. The base of Yggdrasil, her anchor, her support, was made up of three giant roots, each of which was situated within a separate wellspring. These were Hvergelmir, Urðarbrunnr and Mímisbrunnr. Hvergelmir lies in the realm of Niflheimr, a place of immense cold to one side of where Ginnungagap once existed. This wellspring is fed by water which drips from the antlers of Eikþyrnir, the Great Stag who stands over Odin’s Hall, biting at the branches of Yggdrasil. Hvergelmir’s waters are seething with serpents which are accounted as being “too numerous to mention” and they are often accompanied by Níðhöggr there, who gnaws at the great root above, causing Yggdrasil great hardship. The venom they produce was one of the sources of the hardened rime which slowly filled Ginnungagap and created the body of Ymir, the first Giant. This same wellspring is the source of all waters and it flows from its origin point in Niflheimr, across Ginnungagap and into the known Nine Worlds of Existence, where it splits into many rivers including Gjöll, the river which flows closest to the gate of the underworld, Helheimr.
Gjöll is a strange river, flowing along and carrying the weaponry of the dead such as swords, crossbows and maces, and it is spanned by a huge bridge called Gjallarbrú, which is guarded by a Giantess called Móðguðr. The bridge is thatched with glittering gold and is indeed a sight to see. Just further along from there, where the river passes closest to Helheimr, is Náströnd or Dead Man’s Shore, where Níðhöggr also visits to chew and to suck at the corpses of those who were guilty of the crimes of rape, murder and oath-breaking, the most heinous of crimes in the Viking Age.
It is on this shore that the construction of the mighty ship Naglfar was now taking place at the request of Loki. He wanted a mighty ship in which to sail to Vígríðr, the setting for the final battle where Surtr was foretold to meet the Gods in a fight which was the centre of Ragnarök – should it ever come about. After the mighty Dragon, Níðhöggr, had done with each of the corpses of the criminals who were destined to be mauled by him, their trimmings – of their nails – were taken and added to the great hulk that would ferry Hel’s hordes to the battle field. It was a fearsome-looking vessel and was of such a size that there was no doubt that the army it would convey was going to be of a formidable number. Hrym stood on a platform looking out over the dry dock in which the ship was being constructed. Every death brought her nearer completion and he was pleased to see that there was not much more left to do. Loki should be very happy.
The walk back to the Palace of Asgard on that rather fresh morning had invigorated Erika; it was rather more pedestrian than the last time she had been on her way there and as she passed through the suburbs of the city, some of the worries she had were left behind and she began to look forward to seeing Loki again. Of course she had to talk with him of what he had done with the All Father and Thor, but surely he would be grown up enough to have a sensible conversation with her about it? He had been ruling Asgard in his own right for a while now and even though there were the problems with those who opposed him, he was settling in and people were getting used to the idea. Nothing really bad had ended up happening; Asgard was not suddenly overrun with Daemons or Giants, trade continued to be steady between the realms and the sons of The Great Wolf, Sköll and Hati Hróðvitnisson, had not yet swallowed the Sun and the Moon. No, Erika looked up and saw Sól on her way across the crisp blue sky; she was definitely still there on her quest to find and join with Máni. And as far as she knew, the stars were still in the sky during the night.
Taking a quick detour to the kitchens and then nodding politely at the Palace Guards who were stationed at the opening of the corridor which led to the Royal Suites, Erika wondered what the day would bring and whether she would be able to get away to finish off closing her mother’s house. She entered the huge golden doors which opened onto the antechamber off which the various private suites of the King’s living area lay and she crossed to the pedestals upon which Huginn and Muninn were perched. The two ravens were more than used to her now and were not as cantankerous as they had been when she first started to serve Loki privately. But Erika wanted to test something this morning. She had left Mjölnir back at her mother’s house, as there really was no need to be so protective of her; no one could lift her unless she wanted it and she was quite capable of getting to anyone she wanted under her own steam. Yet the ravens had spoken to Erika and had claimed it was because of Mjölnir; would she understand them without the hammer’s presence? She held her hand out to Muninn with a treat for him and the same for Huginn, smiling happily as the two birds delicately pecked at the morsels despite their rather vicious beaks. It was an even happier grin which graced her pretty features when Muninn cocked his head and fixed his beady black eyes on her and said “Many thanks, my lady.”
Looking round surreptitiously, the young maid leaned a little closer and whispered, “I have had another dream of Thor. I am going to talk to Loki about their imprisonment as soon as I can. If you have any way of communicating with them, please let them know.”
Hoping her message would somehow get through, Erika walked swiftly to the door of the King’s Rooms and quietly slipped inside so as not to wake him; she was quite early and he did not need to get up just yet. She busied herself about tidying up and placed a kettle of water over one of the fires in order to boil some water, then took out a beautiful set of tea ware from a side cupboard. She took the kettle off the fire and allowed it to cool for a couple of minutes while she prepared the teapot and a small jug of milk, placing them on a tray and taking them over to the dining table in order to make the fragrant brew. She allowed the tea to infuse the water for precisely three minutes – measured by the huge ornate timepiece over the main fireplace – and then poured some into his favourite cup, to which she added just a splash of milk. She approached the huge bed, which as usual was surrounded by its luxurious black drapes, and pulled one back so she could place the cup and saucer on Loki’s bedside table, and then she found herself standing quietly staring down at the King of Asgard where he lay fast asleep. The sheets were crumpled down to the end of the bed and the one he was lying on was rumpled up as if he had been wrestling with someone! He was holding tightly on to and curled around one of his pillows, his face buried in it as he snored gently from somewhere underneath his mane of black hair.
Erika looked at him lying there, obviously having had a bad night. Only now as he was supposed to be getting up was he managing to catch some proper rest and she almost felt guilty at being the one to disturb him. She sat next to him and gently pulled one of the black silk sheets up over his pale-skinned form, then smoothed his hair back from his face strand by strand. A barely imperceptible stiffening of his body indicated he had awoken, but was lying there enjoying her attention as his mind fully gained consciousness. Unable to resist teasing him in order to get him to reveal he was awake, Erika took a small lock of his hair and tickled the end of his nose with it lightly, whereupon the Trickster’s face wrinkled and his emerald green eyes cracked open as he chuckled,
“Good morning, Erika.”
Raistlin was true to his word; he definitely wanted to return to Krynn it seemed; he was up at the crack of dawn. Fortunately that was also Helga’s habit as the owner of the guesthouse. She was proud of her fresh bread at breakfast and it was not something which could be made in half an hour! The two of them sipped at warm drinks and chatted for a while, but then the Dark Robed Mage stood up and announced his departure.
“It has been a pleasure to have you here, Raistlin.” Said Helga, “I hope you have enjoyed your time here – and the travelling we have done as well.”
“I certainly have, Mistress Helga. It has been a most interesting visit to say the least and I am delighted with the herbs the Elves of Rivendell have supplied me with for my tisane. It has made all the difference.” He picked up his bag and his staff and Helga stood up with him.
“I have decided to resign my post.” She said, rather abruptly, and Raistlin turned to look at her quizzically.
“There, I have told someone.” She sighed, “It was not real until I just told you. Until then it was all just an idea. Now it is real.” She smiled a little sadly, “I understand what we want and what we are trying to achieve, but there have been too many casualties for my liking and I cannot stand the thought that someone else may die because of actions I have put into motion.”
It was a few moments before Raistlin replied to her and his stare unnerved her. It looked as if those strange hourglass pupils were boring right into her and she grew uncomfortable.
“Yes… yes, you are sure in this…” Mused the Mage, and he cocked his head slightly as he continued to examine her. She was aware of his special sight and she was about to say something when he spoke up.
“I do not normally do this,” He began, and he reached out to touch the blue skin of her cheek as his eyes examined her face, “yet you are a good friend and you are incredibly brave and generous-hearted. Helga, in revealing your decision to me, you have turned your fate to a new path. What I see when I look at you has changed. I will not reveal what I see, but I wish to tell you that you have made the right decision. Now, many thanks for your hospitality once again.” He lowered his hand and hoisted his bag over his shoulder as he walked to the front door.
Opening it to reveal the fresh morning outside, Helga touched Raistlin’s hand briefly, causing him to pause and look to see what she was doing. She leaned forwards quickly and kissed him lightly on his golden-skinned cheek.
“Fare well, Mage Majere. I hope our paths will cross in the future.”
“Fare well, Mistress Helga. I hold that hope, too.”
The Jotúnn guesthouse owner watched the Dark-Robed figure recede down the street in the direction of the Bi Frost Observatory and sighed; he was a strange one that Mage, but he was a friend and in these uncertain times friends were a valuable commodity.
“Good morning, Your Highness.” Erika let go of the lock of black hair and smoothed it back over Loki’s brow as he watched her. He shifted his head on his pillow so he could see her better and then glanced out through the drapes of the bed to see that it was time for him to be getting up. Screwing his eyes shut and frowning, he groaned loudly.
“Do I really have to? I slept very little last night and I am tired…”
“I apologise, but yes you do. I have made you a cup of tea, but the kitchen staff said you were due to meet Sigyn and your sons for breakfast in the Summer Salon, so I have not prepared any food.” Erika ran the back of her fingers lightly along Loki’s angular jaw, feeling the slight stubble scratching at her skin and he smiled and turned his face back in to the pillow a little. She was smiling too, until she caught sight of a mark where his neck met his shoulders. A small purplish mark which was raised, like a bruise. It was definitely fading, especially as Loki had superior healing qualities, but it was very much there and as her blue eyes travelled over his shoulder and to the top of his pale-skinned yet fairly muscular back, she saw just the very faintest of pink lines on his shoulder blades. Parallel lines. Four of them.
“I had better get your bath run, or you will be late.” She rose quickly from the bed and started to walk to the bathroom, unsure of what she had seen now, if anything.
“Oh, that will not be necessary thank you, Erika. I will just have a shower to wake me up. I had a bath and a shower last night. I, er… I…” Was that hesitation in his voice? “I needed to get the grime of the day off me!” he finished, but it was too late for his feeble excuse. Erika had heard the lie as clear as day. With her face growing hot and an awful feeling growing in her belly she continued to the bathroom, “Yes, Your Highness.” she managed to whisper out just before her voice cracked and she turned the water jets on full blast as her eyes filled with unwanted tears. She swallowed hard and tried to pull herself together. Come on Erika! You were not here last night and he suffers with his dreams. He must have gone to a courtesan to try to while away some time and bring on tiredness… But her own mind could not eradicate the feeling in her gut.
That he had sought out Aida.
Insistent knocking on the door to her room was what roused Aida from her deep sleep and she spent a few seconds blinking and wondering why she was being woken up so early.
“Aida? Are you in there?” Freyja’s voice was quite brusque and Aida sat up slowly as sleep receded and she realised that perhaps the hour was later than she had initially thought.
“Can you open this door? I am worried about her. She was supposed to meet me for breakfast.” Freyja was now obviously talking to one of the Palace guards and she heard a male voice answering, although she could not tell what he had said. As she got herself upright, she began to feel the after effects of Loki’s visit the night before and not completely without a frisson of excitement, she recalled their rather lengthy session of lovemaking. Although the Trickster had been eager to have her and was quite vigorous at first, he had not been completely without consideration and had made the encounter pleasurable for her too. Yet he had been cold towards her afterwards, going straight back to his suite. There had been no loving cuddling or sleeping together once he had sated his desires. It was as if the nature of a Frost Giant was to carry out the act of procreation but not to offer any affection afterwards. Yet maybe that was not entirely fair. Perhaps it was because they were not partners in life. Aida had to face it; Loki had never joined with her in his Asgardian form yet and so she was unable to make any comparison between the natures of each form, and on top of that, she was basically his secret lover, not his girlfriend or his consort.
“Aida?” The clicking of the lock to her room captured her attention and she called out.
“Hello! I am here… just give me a moment!” She reached for her robe and pulled it around her just as the Goddess of Beauty slipped in through the door.
“Oh! I apologise! I did not realise that you were still in bed…” Freyja looked her up and down, noting her particularly dishevelled appearance, and then looked at her bed, which was showing the same level of disarray. It was very obvious that Aida had not spent a quiet night in here.
“It matters not. It is I who should apologise for sleeping in! Can you give me half an hour to get ready, please? I should still like to take breakfast with you.” The young designer smiled sheepishly as she crossed to her bathroom, “I will not be long.” Not waiting to hear Freyja’s response, she turned on the shower and stepped out of her bathrobe; she needed to get the scent of last night’s encounter off her before she could go anywhere with anyone.
Loki looked down at the young woman who was fussing around his clothing, making sure he looked perfect. Something was not right with her. She was definitely bottling a lot of things up and he was incredibly tempted to look into her mind to see if he could work out what was wrong before she eventually either came clean or broke down.
“Look if you want, Loki, but you might not like what you find.”
Her words startled him and he could not speak for a moment. How had she known…?
“It is the way you look at me when you are about to do it, or when you are wondering if you should.” Erika stopped fastening the strap on his pauldron – the pauldron she had dropped the first time she had ever tried to put it on for him – and looked up at him, her pretty blue eyes searching his. “Why do you want to look this time? What have I done?”
“You have done nothing…” Loki’s voice was distracted, as if he could not believe that she could read him so well. “Yet you are troubled and I would know why.” He placed his hand on hers and his expression became concerned, “I care for you…”
It was too much. Erika could not separate the feeling of emotional love from the need to express it through the physical act of love. And it was this which was tearing her apart; how could Loki go to another and make love to them if he was not in love with them? And how could he do it when he professed to love her? She slipped her hand from his and finished fastening the strap.
“You are ready. Have a nice breakfast with your family. When you have a moment, I need to talk to you of various things. Serious things. Until then, enjoy your day.” Not giving him a chance to reply, she picked up the hamper of laundry she had collected while Loki had been showering and left the room.
The Summer Salon of the Palace of Asgard was a very pleasant and airy room with large windows looking out over the orchard where Iðunn’s Apples were grown. It made full use of its position in the grounds, being in a sun trap of a kind, and it was rarely anything but cheerfully bright and warm in there. The gardeners had designed the greenery of the room in a way which obscured the view of the stone pillars between the huge windows and one would almost believe that they were sitting outside.
Sigyn ushered in her two sons and they sat down at a beautifully decorated table. It had a plain white linen cloth, but the place settings were in pale cream and green, with simple but highly polished silverware and the whole feel was of cleanliness and freshness. As they sat down, pitchers of juice, plates of sweet rolls and pots of freshly churned butter and locally made fruit spreads were brought out for them. Sigyn ordered strong coffee for herself and a pot of the Midgardian tea called Earl Grey in anticipation of Loki’s arrival. She had not rested particularly well the previous night as she had been nervously anticipating this meeting with the man who was still essentially her husband, even if it was very rare for him to behave that way anymore.
They had arrived a little early and she was a worried that Loki would either be late or perhaps not even arrive at all, so it was with a pleasant feeling that she watched him arrive at the station of the Maître De to be escorted to their table.
“Stand up to greet your father.” Sigyn motioned to her sons as she rose and they followed suit. She lowered her eyes deferentially, as she had done all their married life and only looked up when she saw his pale and elegant fingered hand reach out to take hers, whereupon he kissed it in greeting. Even after all these centuries, seeing his handsome face, feeling his lips on her skin and being the one he was looking at from those infamous eyes all conspired to turn her insides upside down. A hot blush rose to her cheeks and she smiled shyly as she bade him good morning.
“Good morning to you, too.” He replied and then looked at Narvi and Vali. “How do you all fare this fine morning?” Sitting down at the table, Loki waited while a servant placed a napkin in his lap and looked appreciatively at the cup of tea waiting for him.
“I hope you still take it with just a small dash of milk?” Asked Sigyn as she watched him pick it up.
“I do. Thank you, Sigyn.” Loki smiled at her and then took a sip of the fresh brew, “Mmm, perfect. Now! Shall we have something to eat? I am ravenous!”
For the next half an hour or so, the four of them breakfasted on the delicious foods which were brought to them and Sigyn could almost believe they were a proper family again. Foolishly allowing hope to enter her heart, she hoped this was the first of many such breakfasts here at the Palace.