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04 October 2013 @ 12:16 pm
Hail of Shadows 18/20  

Thanos approached him, footsteps echoing in the chamber. "Your pathetic race knocks upon the gate, howling for you like the beasts they are."

"Good. I hope they butcher you like a goat," Loki snarled, letting fear transmute to fury. Because this was not good. Thanos needed to be somewhere else, not here. He could hear the battle through the opening to the sky, surely the giants were doing something useful to draw Thanos away.

Other footsteps rushed in. "My lord! They dropped frostfire down the north passage and the central ventilation shafts!"

Loki smiled at the news that the giants had brought frostfire to the battle. It wasn't precisely magical, but the best way to combat it was with magic which should draw Thanos off.

But Thanos answered, "How unfortunate."

"My lord, please! It's getting out of control, we need you!"

Thanos lifted his hand and the front two guards went flying across the chamber to slam into the wall with such force that the stone underneath Loki trembled and he heard bones snap. Thanos let his hand fall and the bodies fell with it, dropping to the floor and did not move. He looked at the entryway and the other guards there. "Take care of the Jotunn animals and do not bother me again."

No, no, you need to go, you need to leave here so Sigyn can bring me the Casket, damn you

But Loki saw those shining eyes that marked Malekith's possession by even greater evil and realized his mistake: Malekith would have gone to help his people, Thanos did not care.

The guards fled.

Malekith's lips curved upward in Thanos' cold smile and he stretched out a hand. "You see, pet? You are all mine."

"You will let the frostfire destroy your army? I need do nothing; you manage to ruin your plans very well on your own," Loki taunted.

"There is always another army. But you, I need." The heavy hand fell on Loki's forehead and though he tried to move away, the grip was too strong. "My pet beast."

No, no, I need to stop this, need to --

The tendrils of shadow smoke sank within, this time affixing to no true memory, only a nightmare that he'd had several times since discovering the truth.

He tried to push it away, shield himself, or hold it back, but it was a ghost. "No, stop, no, I will not allow -"

The hollow cavern of his prison faded away into no true memory, but into a horror drawn from nightmare of nothing that was, but what might have been…

He crouched in the shadows, a feral wraith of the ice. He had no name, no speech. All he knew was that sometimes the great beasts attacked him and sometimes he attacked them. Sometimes he had his pack of snow-wolves to hunt with him, sometimes he was alone. Sometimes he ate well, sometimes he ate nothing for weeks.

The flesh of the large red-eyed beasts was the only meat he could eat, but killing one was difficult. He learned to make ghosts of himself, and with time learned how to lure his prey with ghosts of other things.

They tried to hunt him, but he was never caught, slipping from their snares as if they didn't exist, and his howling laughter was something that made them shiver in dread.

Small beings more his size arrived. They were new, golden, shining so brightly it hurt his eyes. He lured one from its herd to get it alone and kill it. As they faced each other over the snow, it looked at him plainly confused by what it saw, but was no less confused than he was. Blue eyes were so strange. Was it a deer that would make him sick, or like the red-eyes? Could he eat it?

Blue-eyes pink-skin creature made sounds, but he knew no language except that of the snow-wolves. The strange beast was surprised by his appearance, but it was ready with its great shiny hammer, too dangerous for him to attack. It held out its free hand, as if to coax him nearer, but he melted into the shadows and went to find another, less wary prey. Soon the pale ones fought the big ones. They left red-eyed corpses in the snow before a flash of lightning pulled them away.

There was something nearby, watching him. He could feel it; it was like the red eyes, but not. Darker. Something that smiled like frost and smelled like death.

It was new, wrong. He tried to track it, but it was smoke. Yet there. Watching. He turned quickly and saw a shadow looming atop a hill, with gleaming white eyes and a grin that touched him in his memory. It was familiar.

From a distance, the name came to him: Thanos.

In the wake of the chill that crept over him, he blinked. This was wrong. He wasn't this creature that crept across the ice and did horrifying things.

But he didn't remember who he was.

He opened his eyes. The icy realm was gone, he was in a cavern, held to a block of stone beneath him. But he remembered only ice and snow; he was a feral creature chained down. He pulled against the chains, snarling at his tormentor.

Thanos grinned. "Ah, there you are. A beast like all the others… my pet."

He couldn't find words to respond - he knew he had some, but they ran from him like water from his hand. Grinding his teeth together, he shook his head, trying to clear his mind. There was more, he knew there was more…. He knew he was more.

Yelling in frustration and knocking his head against the stone beneath him helped unlock his memories and words again, and he shouted furiously, "I am Loki of Asgard! I will see you scattered beyond Jormungandr for all eternity!"

Thanos put his hand on Loki's forehead again, but before he could do anything more to Loki, Thanos shifted his gaze sharply toward the entry. A sharp grin spread across his face and he straightened.

"The traitor half-breed," he purred. "Step forth, child."

Loki turned his head to see. As he feared, Sigyn stepped into view. She was holding the Casket in her hands and lifted her chin boldly. "I - I want to ask you, brother, to use this. Stop the Frost Giant invasion before all our people...."

Thanos moved toward her, blocking Loki's view behind his bulk momentarily as she fell silent, words drying up in her throat at his approach. "You are not the liesmith my pet is, Sigyn. You know exactly who I am."

She didn't bother trying her tale again. "Get out of my Realm, you demonspawn!" Her power swirled through the room, strong and focused on Thanos. Loki recognized it as a spell to push him out of Malekith, which was a clever choice and the most likely to work.

But Thanos batted the spell aside like an errant ball, striding toward her untouched. He tore the Casket from her grasp and tossed it contemptuously to the floor before seizing her around the neck.

"Brother," she choked out. "Fight him--"

"No!" Loki yelled, as Thanos lifted her up, turning to display her to Loki's horrified gaze. "No, leave her alone! Your quarrel is with me…"

"My quarrel is with the Nine Realms," Thanos corrected him. "Including this one."

Sigyn's eyes met Loki's - desperate and despairing and regretful - and her lips parted but she could make no sound with that hand on her throat. Thanos hurled her into the wall and she smashed into it with a sickening thud, sliding down and out of sight.


Loki screamed the words to call the spell to peel Malekith's flesh from his bones - a terrible evil spell he was not supposed to know. The collar constricted his throat, but his fury needed an outlet, needing vengeance, needing Thanos and Malekith destroyed utterly.

Thanos staggered, but the collar bit tight, strangling Loki's breath and words to silence, so he couldn't pursue the moment's advantage. Thanos shook off the blow, but seemed a little weakened.

But it was not enough. Loki could do no more as Thanos bore down on him. He could neither breathe or speak, and his hands were manacled too tightly to gesture even the tiniest spell of defiance. The Casket was near but might well have been on Midgard for all the good it did him. Thanos was unharmed. Sigyn was dead.

The moment of resistance was ended. Thanos would continue to taint his memories, widen the cracks in Loki's mind, reshape his soul to darkness and hate. Loki watched him come, resigned to his fate.

So you were right all along, Allfather. I do not want it, but mine will be the hand that will open the door and let in the doom of the Nine Realms. Ragnarök has come. Light will die and shadows will fall, because of me.

He turned his head toward where Sigyn had fallen. Forgive me.

Then he turned his eyes to look upward, to await what was prophesied.

Crossposted from DW There are comment count unavailable comments over there. Feel free to comment wherever.