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13 November 2015 @ 02:15 pm
Ice Demon and the Spider, part 3  


Loki stood on the ridge, pushing aside some of the summer growth, and looked down at Arendelle. His eyes widened.

It had grown. So much. The town had been much bigger during the war against the Nazis than in Elsa's day, of course, but nothing like what he saw now. It was a city now, grown far beyond its original buildings built around the bay.

Now the buildings crept high upon the slopes of the hills and mountains, and along the shore out to the mouth of the fjord and up the narrow valley that had once been farms. There was a broad highway and a train station, and tall buildings of at least ten levels.

Very little except the shape of the bay itself seemed familiar.

The causeway that had once traversed an arm of the bay to reach the castle had been filled in with road and buildings, and where the castle had been looked to be mostly park now: empty land, with few structures. Only some of the wall and a turret remained standing of the original castle.

The pang of loss hit inside his ribs. So Margaret had been right; they had rebuilt the city. But he was also right, that they had not rebuilt the castle and the rest of the city had been built into something unrecognizable. It was not his home now. Elsa was at least two centuries dead, and this place was strange.

But as he had nowhere else to go, he walked down anyway. He ran across a paved hiking trail, and found from the signage that the area he had arrived was now preserved as a park. Instead of going cross-country he used the trail to get off the mountain again. It was better than some roads for automobiles he had been on. Other walkers passed him going up and down. Some were running, and one woman was running with a baby in a carriage. He nearly asked her if she needed help, but since she did not seem alarmed or pursued, he decided it must also be a form of exercise. No one paid him much attention except to greet him as they passed.

The trail came down into inhabited areas, which he remembered as wild. The road and houses restricted the path that he could go and twisted up his sense of direction, frustrating him. He could see the city center still below, but it seemed difficult to get there.

But as the roads narrowed and the building design seemed more familiar, there were staircases to allow a more direct descent to the bay.

It was a long walk, longer than it had seemed when it was mostly open land, and his leg muscles were complaining a bit. And his throat seemed dry.

He frowned and drank some water from a public fountain, and felt better. But he knew what it meant. Not just seidr was taken from him, but his immortality as well. The Gift of Idunn was weak. He was going to need food and drink and rest. He'd become mortal.

So taking seidr was not enough for you, you had to punish me by making me one of them, too. Weak as a mortal. But I am not one of them, and I never will be.

There was no reply to the irritable and soundless declaration, of course, and he continued into an area with shops on the lower floors of the buildings.

He found a newsstand and a few newspapers, though fewer than he thought it should have, and discovered the date was 2011. His eyebrows went up in surprise. Sixty-seven years since he was last on Midgard, it seemed. He had avoided thinking about Midgard so thoroughly he had ignored mortal time, and more had passed than he would have expected.

The world had moved on from the war years. Certainly he saw less armament, and he saw proper flags, not the Nazi swastikas that had covered the buildings when he had last been here. It was good to know that despite the destruction in the war, Arendelle had been rebuilt and seemed prosperous.

Though some things had changed, much still seemed the same. The automobiles still drove on the ground. Howard's flying car that Margaret had told him about, had apparently not proven practical or safe, though the autos themselves did seem quieter and more colorful. He was disappointed that there were no flying cars, or at least cars that drove themselves. Such a waste of time to have to operate the machines oneself. He would have to do something about that if he were trapped here for an extended length of time.

In the old waterfront, where the buildings were preserved along one side in comforting familiarity, Loki walked along slowly, observing his surroundings with care.

People seemed to be wearing fewer clothes, men and women both, though especially the women who wore a mind-boggling array just within his view of skirts and trousers of different lengths, and boots and skinny high heels. And so many colors.

Everyone seemed to have a portable telephone. He would have to acquire one and see what everyone was doing, looking at it so intently; it must be used for more than mere telephoning.

He reached a good vantage of the waterfront, and looked across to the castle. There was still a turret and part of the east wall standing, but the rest was low walls and pavement, a new building that looked to house a small museum. The rubble was gone, and it all looked well preserved, but not rebuilt.

He thought about walking across, then wondered if he could bear to see the ruin too closely. So he turned away, to think about it, to stroll the old market square instead. It had been closed off from automobiles, and so he could walk across the stone paving to examine the new statue in the center.

It was a grand thing, with steps on four sides up to a platform. On the platform was a round stone base and a tall bronze statue of a man wearing a formal military uniform. A howling wolf sat at his feet.

Narrowing his eyes at the plaque on the base, he started to laugh and laugh, because he suddenly knew what it was.

Did you know, All-father? Did you see this was built and never told me? Because this surely is the grandest jest in the Nine Realms.

The carving in the base said: "Lukas Onsdag the Ice Demon, Hero of Arendelle".

Hero. He snorted and shook his head, wishing he could pull this stupid thing down or burn it.

The clothing was something he'd never worn, but the likeness in the face was good, perhaps someone had used photographs. He combed his fingers through his hair, fluffing it loose in front of his ears to make the resemblance less noticeable, thinking sourly that an illusion would make this easier. If he could make himself blond at least... but no. At least Odin hadn't thrown him here in his Jotunn form to truly punish him. The humans would be chasing him in no time with a hideous blue creature roaming around.

He sat down on the shallow steps in the shadow of his own statue, and that drew attention of some passers-by. "Are you all right?"

"Oh, yes, I am very--" He stopped as a flying machine approached. Helicopter, he realized. They had not been common in Europe, but Barnes had told him about them. The Germans had only a few to worry about and none he'd seen in operation.

But this one seemed well-built and modern, painted white with a black eagle design on the side, and flying low from west to east. He frowned at it, wondering why it would fly at such a low altitude. "What is that?" he asked.

The man frowned at them as if he wasn't sure either, then shrugged. "There are many helicopters that go to the offshore platforms, though I didn't think they could fly so low over the city like that."

"Perhaps they have injured going to the hospital," the woman suggested, and since she didn't seem alarmed by the helicopter, Loki relaxed. Nothing to concern himself with, even if the helicopter had seemed vaguely military.

He lurked around the central square the rest of the afternoon, floating in and out of the shops which mostly seemed to carry trinkets or foodstuffs. He grew less certain what to do. Without powers he couldn't use illusion to pretend to have money, and he would need money to acquire a place to stay or food. Perhaps he could go to Birgitte, or whoever ruled now.

Bored, he eventually returned to a newsstand/snack shop near the square because at least it had magazines to read. There was an interesting wide selection in various languages, some featuring people of no interest to him, but some were useful in letting him piece together the history he had missed and what the current political situation was.

He was reading an issue of Der Spiegel, when the woman who had been sitting behind the counter came up to him. "This isn't a lending library, you know."

He closed the magazine and put it back. "No, of course not. Sorry."

She frowned at him. "You were in here before. But you didn't buy anything."

"No, I didn't," he agreed. "I'm… waiting."

"Waiting for what?" she asked.

Absolution, was true, but hardly something she'd understand. He shrugged.

"Are you a student at the university?"

"No," he answered. "I'm... traveling."

She frowned, glancing at the chocolate display he'd been hovering over before he went to the magazines. "Do you not have any money?"

He was a prince of Asgard, he didn't need money. Hell, he might still have his old Swiss accounts and two hundred years of interest, so he could have Earth money. But the true answer was, however shameful it might be, "No." He needed a good story and added, "My bag was stolen. My money and my papers were in my bag. I have nothing but what I'm wearing." He gestured to his clothes, and tried to look young and pathetic. It was something that had worked for him in the past, with the seeming youthfulness of his face.

"Did you go to the police?" she asked.

He shook his head negative, trying to look fearful. "They would contact my family. Send me back."

"Is that so bad?" she asked, looking at him both warily and yet in concern.

He shook his head and swallowed hard. It was unexpectedly painful to speak the truth. "My father… threw me from my home. He wants nothing to do with me."

"I think they would understand if you explained it to them. There's nothing to fear," she told him gently.

He wanted to protest that he wasn't afraid, which he wasn't, but then again, he was reluctant to contact to contact the authorities, having become weak enough he had to be careful. He cleared his throat and asked, "Do you know of a place that will give supper to stranded students with no money?" The vague queasy feeling in his abdomen he associated with hunger, though hunger was not a feeling he was accustomed to.

She didn't fall for his change of topic. "What's your name?" she asked.

He opened his mouth to say Lukas, remembered the statue, and instead answered, "Luke. Luke Rendell."

"Luke. I am Sophie, my daughter Helga is over there," she waved to the window, where there were two nearly-adult girls talking on the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street. "Where are you from? Not from here, though your accent is very good."

He wanted to say Arendelle, considered Norway, but then, recalled Elsa's husband's homeland and answered, "Genovia. My mother's family was from here." Before they could get into why he hadn't contacted any of those relatives or why he'd been stupid enough to have all his valuables in a pack, he forced a smile at her. "Thank you for letting me while away some time in here." He nodded to her and pushed the door open. She made a soft sound as if she might call him back and then stopped.

Back into the market square, he wondered what to do now. He was the Ice Demon, that ought to be good for something, but he wasn't sure how to utilize it. Or if anyone would believe him; he couldn't demonstrate ice powers or any other magic, and shooting him with a bullet might do actual damage. He was not eager to find out.

He glanced at the statue and it seemed to be mocking him, now. There was Lukas Onsdag, the Ice Demon, defender of Arendelle, admired figure of legend. And over here was...

Luke Rendell, nobody of Midgard.

Well, if that had been Odin's plan, it was succeeding brilliantly.

He heaved a sigh and wandered the path along the water, admiring the boats and keeping an eye on the castle ruin, remembering how things had been when he had been there, killing Nazi invaders. He'd had no fear that they could hurt him, though Schmidt had shown him otherwise, and he still remembered that first entry to Elsa's castle fondly.

He wasn't left alone in the end, as two police officers approached him. They were polite, but someone had noticed him lurking about with nothing to do and they asked his name and business.

Figuring he might as well keep on with the story he'd told Sophie, he told it again about his things being stolen and that he had nothing and no where to go. They took down his information, which he made up on the spot hoping he'd delayed enough any Genovia officials were gone for the day so no one could confirm his story.

"Why not come to us?"

"I didn't want to be in trouble," he answered. "I thought you'd arrest me or send me back, and I don't want to go back. My father hates me, doesn't want me around," which was true enough, "and I thought I could find my mother's family here but now I don't have any of their names. And I... I don't know what to do," he finished in a softer voice.

"You have no money?"

"No money, no phone, no passport, no bag. Nothing. Just this." He spread his arms out to show that was all there was.

"No place to stay? Where were you staying tonight?"

"I was going to the... hostel? But, no money, how can I stay there?" he countered.

The police officers shared a look – which put Loki's back up as it seemed to be more of a 'this idiot' look that Loki usually tossed at Thor, not received himself, but he was, admittedly, playing the moron here, so whatever he needed to do he would do.

He remembered laughing at the Nazi's commander's question about his papers and scornfully replying he needed no papers, but times had changed. He needed papers and he needed money, and he would rather get them somewhat legitimately than stealing, if he could. If they put him in jail for lacking papers, at least they would have to give him the necessities to live.

But instead of arresting him, they seemed sympathetic and offered to bring him back to the station where he could fill out some paperwork and request a new passport from Genovia.

He smiled. "Would it-- would it be possible to change citizenship to Arendelle? I would rather not go back to Genovia if I could stay and make a life here?"

"You can talk to the social services ministry tomorrow about requesting asylum," the policeman said. "That's a bit out of our jurisdiction, but we can get your paperwork started at least."

They escorted him more northward this time, enough to catch sight of two black painted vehicles on the main road, heading east. They had painted bird symbols on the sides, which were the same as the symbols on the helicopters he'd seen a few hours before.

"What are those?" he asked the police. But when they didn't know, he frowned, not liking it. They looked military, but not of Arendelle if the police weren't familiar with it.

"One of the oil companies, maybe?" one of them said, not sounding very convinced.

"We'll ask," the other said, "when we get to the station."

They meant ask their boss or other police, but it turned out they could ask the people themselves, because they were there, pulled up in front of the central police station like they had some sort of authority.

The vehicles were empty, as the people within them had gone into the building, and Loki wished he had magic as he passed. One small gesture and a silent word of command and he could break both vehicles.

But he had to tamely follow the police and pretend to be a stranded student into the station.

The officers took him into the station, away from the ordinary daily process area where people claimed belongings or reported minor crimes, going back to offices. The door's plaque read Lieutenant Heyerdahl, but the door was shut, so they had to wait.

Loki could hear some voices through the window drifting in from the office next door and stood at the window to listen. Two male voices, both speaking in English-- one claiming some authority of something called 'shield' by the World Council and the lieutenant denying this authority, unless the king or a minister could confirm that this shield had any business in Arendelle.

Loki was briefly saddened by the mention of a king in Arendelle, which meant Birgitte had passed. Mortal lives were all too fleeting. But more words from within caught his attention.

"... on a scientific survey. There were strange weather reports of a type and sudden nature, we think there might be some kind of device, and that is very much our specialty, lieutenant. That sort of dangerous technology is not a toy, and can place many innocent people in danger. We need to track it down. And everyone who has been in the area all day."

Listening, Loki felt cold at the words. They'd noticed the Bifrost and they knew enough to know it was mysterious. The last time anyone had known enough about the Bifrost in Arendelle had been Schmidt and Zola. They were both dead, but that didn't mean their knowledge or organization had died with them. Or perhaps this Shield organization was similar to Hydra, and was pursuing this knowledge.

Though... he frowned, a bit puzzled. He hadn't used the Bifrost to arrive in 1942, so they were likely not connecting it with him.

In any case, Loki's arrival had drawn them to Arendelle, so he would push them out. No foreigners would invade Arendelle while he was around, especially if he could start when the presence was small.

Having less power meant he would have to be careful, but even an ant could irritate a dragon if it stung in the right place, and he was far more than an ant.

As the two foreigners stalked out, angry that the police were not being very helpful, they utterly ignored Loki and the two police who were waiting. But Loki looked at them, memorizing their features. One had little hair, glasses, and not as fair skinned as his partner, who was taller and moved like a fighter, but followed in the more junior position. They both wore plain dark suits, and thankfully did not have octopus pins in the lapels.

The head one barked into his phone, "Tell Commander Fury we need some higher level intervention. They're not letting us investigate."

Loki smiled, pleased, as the two passed outside.

The lieutenant was not very interested in dealing with Loki's problem, asking only some perfunctory questions about Loki's history and intentions in the country.

But in the end he approved them not treating Loki as a criminal but as a victim of theft, and once Loki had made his report they could start the process of getting him official help.

Loki stood up and smiled. "Thank you, lieutenant. In return, I'll tell you I recognize that eagle those men had on their cars. They run over and intimidate people all over the world, and steal technology on a pretext that they're protecting people. But also to take it for themselves, and they have little oversight."

The lieutenant frowned at him. "And you know this how?"

Loki grinned and gestured to the viewing screen on the desk. "The internet."

The lieutenant's frown deepened and though he seemed reluctant to take that word exactly to heart, it fit what he expected and Loki suspected he would be searching out the darker side of that organization shortly. There would be something to find, of that Loki was certain. As little as he had read in the magazines told him that humans remained humans, and when there was power to be had, secrets bred corruption.

Soon he was taken to another police officer, who heard his story again, now including an elaboration on how he'd evaded notice on the ferry to explain how he had arrived and was not in their arrivals database. She took down his report of everything stolen. He based most of it on advertisements in the magazines he'd read, he told her about his phone, wallet, two credit cards, passport, and a change of clothes. He made up an address in Genovia and a father named Stefan, and asked her not to contact him, implying it hadn't been a mere dispute but something more violent. Her face softened and she nodded. She reassured him that they would do their best to try to find his things, and he smiled, feeling a bit regretful that there was nothing for them to find.

She took his fingerprints and a picture for a temporary identification in the name of Luke Rendell, and left Loki in the waiting room to read all the brochures and forms, while she finished his paperwork. Finally she came back and handed him a shiny temporary identification card and then a leather wallet. "It's been sitting in the lost-and-found for a year. I think it needs a better home," she said as she handed it to him. "Keep it safe this time."

He looked inside and saw money. He lifted his brows at her curiously.

"It was in the wallet," she said with a kind smile and though Loki knew it wasn't true, he wasn't going to deny he needed it or refuse it out of pride. "There is also an address for a place to stay. It's between terms at the university so I arranged for you to have a room for a few days until you're set up with social services."

"This is most generous," Loki said. "It is good to know that some--" he nearly said 'mortals' and had to correct himself, "people still have kindness."

"Of course," she answered. "You are a son of Arendelle, and we welcome our own back."

His head lifted sharply at the words wondering how she knew, but she meant because of the story he'd told about his mother. Sensing his reaction had made her suspicious, he made his lips tremble and blinked rapidly and looked away, clutching the wallet tightly in his hand. "That... is the most hopeful thing I've heard in a long time."

She patted his shoulder, suspicions allayed. "Welcome home."

For moment it felt as if something was caught in his chest and the pretended tears threatened to become real, until he pushed the feeling down to take a deep breath and remind himself such sentiment was liable to get him caught again.




Outside the police station he decided to see if he could mix finding something to eat with his mission to do something about these invaders.

A bit of subtle questioning led him in the right direction until he saw one of the cars parked near a restaurant. It appeared to be untended, and when he checked the agents were within the restaurant, eating together.

Loki picked a pastry in the shop across the street and sat in the window to wait. When one of the agents passed the window, Loki got up and left the cafe, following after.

The foreigner was not unaware that someone was behind him, but Loki was quicker. As soon as they went into a narrow part of the street and no one was around, Loki made his move, throwing an arm around the foreigner's neck. He struggled, trying to use a defensive move to throw Loki off, but Loki found his strength more than equal to the task of subduing him.

He tightened his grip on the human's throat, putting pressure on his artery. "Hear me," he said in English, into the foreigner's ear. "Arendelle is under my protection. Leave this kingdom and do not return. This is your only warning."

Message delivered, he waited until finally the agent's struggles eased and he fell unconscious. Then Loki took his sidearm, a utility knife at his calf, phone, and his wallet, efficiently stripping him of everything useful, and Loki left him on the sidewalk.

He didn't run, but he did walk briskly, glad he had wandered this part of town earlier so he could make some quick turns and be away from the assault. Curious about the phone, he examined as he walked. There was a primitive decryption code required to access, but he sensed the device was emitting a signal. It was with some regret that he slipped it into the handbag of a passing pedestrian, so the enemy would track her instead.

He doubted they would listen to his warning, not until they started to die, but he was satisfied that at least he had warned them. They would make their choice and they would suffer the consequences.

And he would do what he had failed to do the last time and protect his daughter's kingdom.

(part four)