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13 November 2015 @ 02:12 pm
The Ice Demon and the Spider, Part 2  

Chapter Two

Loki watched with a deep sense of satisfaction as Odin completely lost his temper with Thor. Thor was shouting about how Odin was a coward and weak, and in return, Loki was hearing Odin echo all of Loki's thoughts about how Thor was a reckless child and had nearly dumped Asgard into a war with Jotunheim. They were all the right condemning words, that said finally finally Odin saw the truth. The plan had worked.

But the words didn't stop where he expected. Astonished, he watched as Odin stripped his rank from him and took Mjolnir away from him - which until that moment Loki hadn't even known that was possible- and then, ignoring all of Thor and Loki's protests, banished him to Midgard.

Staring in horror and shock and dismay, Loki watched as Thor was sent away.

This was not what was supposed to happen. That was all he could think, the words kept twirling in his mind never settling, as he watched this happen with a strange numbness of shock. It started being amusing, in an ironic way; Odin had finally seen Thor's flaws and gone way past what Loki had ever expected him to do.

"AND YOU--" Odin turned on him, and Loki took a step backward away in reflex.

"I tried to tell him not to go," Loki protested, "He didn't listen to me, he never does, you know that."

"You set this whole plan in motion," Odin said, glaring at him.

"NO!" Loki said. "No, not at--"

He didn't even see it coming, as Odin's hand smacked him hard across the cheek. "Silence!" he bellowed. "Do you take me for a fool, Loki? How else did those Frost Giants get into the treasury, but you?"

Loki opened his mouth to disclaim any responsibility, but nothing came out under the baleful stare of that one eye. Odin growled at him, "That guard is dead. Because of you."

"Not because of me!" Loki protested. "I didn't touch him! He wasn't supposed to be there!"

He grimaced as soon as the words flew out unchecked.

Now that Loki had admitted his guilt, Odin calmed himself. "Why?" Odin demanded. "Why did you do such a reckless thing?"

It burst out of Loki then, "Because he was never fit to be king! He almost got us into a war, because he doesn't think. He's a foolish dolt who runs at trouble, and you never ever saw that! But you yourself had said that the Einherjar were supposed to attend the ceremony, so there wasn't going to be anyone at the Treasury, only the Destroyer inside. The Jotnar were trying to steal the Casket, the Destroyer would stop them, and that was all!"

"And for your brother to go haring off to Jotunheim for revenge," Odin corrected. Loki might have argued that he hadn't planned that part; the whole point had been to show that Thor would do that of his own recklessness if sufficiently provoked. But Loki certainly had expected Thor to do it. "Did you intend for me to exile him?"

"No! That was a surprise," Loki muttered. "I just wanted you to see him for who he is."

"Then what did you expect to result?"

"That you would stop believing he'd be anything but a terrible king," Loki answered. "He is not ready." He knew what that sounded like and his lips twisted into a bitter smile. "Not to be king myself. Don't worry, I have no designs on what will never be mine."

"How is it you see Thor's lack of wisdom so clearly and yet are so blind to your own?" Odin challenged. "Those jotnar were not toys to be wound and set to your amusement; you used them, knowing they would die, for some vague and terrible reckless end. You owe blood price to that guard's family, but before that, you will remember the value of life." He shook his head. "Once not long ago, you begged me to go to Midgard to save the mortals, now you spend immortal lives without thought. Where did that go, Loki?"

"I was trying to prevent war!"

"By planning to start one? Against Jotunheim?"

It went unspoken, but Loki heard it anyway – "against your own kind?" - and he let his lips twist. "Of course against them. Who else? Thor protested once, the others not at all. They were eager to fight the beasts."

Odin ground Gungnir against the floor. "You set them a test they could only fail. Your plan might have gotten our best warriors or countless Jotnar killed to prove nothing, Loki."

"To prove nothing's changed!" Loki exclaimed, fists clenched. "You all pretend it doesn't matter, but if that had been Alfar in the treasury, none of this would've happened!"

"To prove nothing!" Odin bellowed back. "To prove that if we are attacked, our warriors will defend. To prove that your petty fears will get innocents killed!" Loki opened his mouth to shout back at that, but Odin slammed Gungnir down and he couldn't speak. "You have lost your grip on what is important, and you are no prince of the Realm before you find it again. You will go from this place, bound from your magic, to live among the mortals as one of them. Until you learn their value again."

Loki stared, aghast. He'd never thought Thor would be exiled, and he'd considered that fate for himself even less.

"This is a gift, Loki," Odin warned. "Remember who you were. One cannot rule without strength, or compassion to temper that strength."

Loki listened to that, and his lip curled. "If I were going to rule anything that would matter to me," Loki retorted. "But we both know that's a lie."

"You may yet rule, the future is not written and there are many years ahead," Odin declared. "But you will never rule if you spend lives as if they are leaves on fire. GO, now."

Gungnir flared, as the All-father turned the entirety of his might on Loki, and then all slipped away.

Awareness dribbled back, arriving first as an acknowledgment that he was here, wherever here was. Something smelled scorched. Besides the burnt smell, there was dirt under his hands, as his fingers twitched.

He was lying on his front, and when he pushed upward, his body ached everywhere, from skin to bone inside. His head thumped most unpleasantly. He groaned and flopped back down to rest. What had happened?

Right. The Bifrost. Probably that was the source of the scorched smell. Why did he feel so weak, though?

So where had Odin sent him?

Pushing upright he looked around. It was green, some sort of meadow perhaps, with grass and a thin rivulet of a small marsh to his left, and trees past that. It could be anywhere temperate.

Standing was less fun than sitting up, muscles complaining and dizziness causing him to stumble. But once he was on his feet, he felt a bit better. The pain and weakness were fading as he moved, so he stretched, realizing that his clothes were different, too: a fuzzy long-sleeved tunic in brown, simple black trousers, and short useless boots. He frowned at them, and reached for seidr to call his combat leathers.

There was nothing. Nothing happened. He couldn't feel the seidr at all.

He tried again, closing his eyes to concentrate. But for nothing. His magic was gone.

His heart lurched with a sudden panic, and he held out his hand. His skin was normal Aesir. At least that hadn't been taken from him, to drop him here in that other guise.

He glowered up at the sky. "Ah, so that's what you did."

Odin had stripped his magic away. Not all of it, clearly, or he'd have blue skin, but locked away Loki's access to it. No seidr meant no illusions, no fire, no conjuring... no defenses. He patted his clothes, finding no daggers hidden away.

His punishment, then. That's what this was.

He was suddenly infuriated and tipped his head back to yell, "He'd be king right now if it weren't for me!"

There was no reply, not that he expected one. He blew out a deep breath, then grew still at the sound of voices not far away. Gesturing to veil himself in invisibility, nothing happened. He groaned, irritated, and glanced around for somewhere to hide, except the Bifrost had made sure he was in the middle of bare dirt, very obviously stamped with something that had burnt.

He'd scooted to the edge of the circle when the two people came into view. They were... mortals, it appeared, two women with bare legs and boots.

One of them, the one with the blonde ponytail waved to him, with a smile. Uncertain what to do he waved back hoping his smile looked less fake than it felt. They were human, most likely, and that meant this was Midgard, and given their skin was fair and the weather and foliage were familiar, it was probably northern Europe. But it wasn't until one of them shouted good morning and said something about the strange weather, that he recognized that she was speaking in an accent and language he remembered.

He turned around and looked up. It was summer, so the flora was grown and full, but he recognized the higher mountain peak to the east. Once it had been his, and all the forest beneath it.

He was back in Arendelle.

Casting his eyes upward again, he nodded in appreciation for the old man's canniness, putting him back here.

"That was a strange storm," the taller one said, shaking her head. "It came so quickly and then... it was gone."

They seemed to be awaiting a response, and he forced a weak chuckle. "Yes, sudden mountain storms... very abrupt, right?"

"Are you well?" the other asked, frowning in concern that doubled seeing the charred ground. "Dear God, were you struck by lightning?"

"No," he answered hastily. "But some struck near me, I think."

"I can call for help?" The other woman pulled out a small object from her pocket and his eyebrows lifted in surprise at how much smaller radios had become since he'd been here last.

But he knew better than to ask what the year was. Nor did he want to attract well-meaning but foolish help. "No, no, that is not necessary. Thank you." He gave them a nod and started toward the town.

(part 3)