After the Fall
-Thranduil, Legolas, Mirkwood
AN: I received this as a challenge. The requestee wanted me to write a crossover fic on Loki and Thranduil/Mirkwood elves (because those seem to be rare around here I guess. It does make sense though!). They wanted Fem!Loki after falling off the Bifrost into Middle-Earth where she ends up before the Elvenking and seeks his aid/asylum from danger. They are the type that would both clash horribly because they are so alike, or be brought together in the next minute because they are so alike they understand each other. I'm running with that and I'll hope it fits the requestee's desires.
Falling through torturous, cutting, icy air and the awful burn of it against her alabaster skin, a cold even she could feel; that was what she remembers at the forefront of her mind when her verdant eyes flicker open. The painfully bright sun forced her to close them again, fluttering her thick black lashes to shelter them from the shooting headache it caused. A weak groan rose from her lily throat as she brought a hand up to her throbbing temple. The motion was sluggish but so were the workings of her mind. She registered the burning pain just fine but the following logic of understanding the reason behind it was a far more complex problem.
The black leather on her arms and waist creaked with her movement; it was still cold compared to the heavy green fabric that had taken on the warmth of the ground and she shivered - It was rare that she felt the chill so this place was either very cold or she was on the edge of illness. Whatever beating she had taken was not one meant for her svelte, delicate body or her exquisite skin. Whatever she obviously battled did not know how to properly treat a fine lady of her standing. She was a princess after all! Not that she could not battle with the best of warriors, she could and did, but bruises were not becoming.
The air smells peculiar and foul as her parted lips took in a desperate gulp to her lungs. What she hopped would be soothing turned out to make it worse and she jolt upright, coughing from the thick stench and bitter taste. The gold coins and delicate chains woven into her hair jingled as she gagged. It smelled like a Bilgesnipe and her eyes opened to discover if that was indeed the problem. Her glassy eyes swept what they could of her surroundings without moving too much but she saw only open land, anomalous trees, and apparently a very stagnate pond beside her that must account for the stench. At least it was not a cluster of monsters.
Loki's eyes shot open fully, her raven curls spilling off her shoulders to frame her slender face like wrinkled dark curtains. Monsters, now she remembered. Monsters ... Jotunn for example, with sharp claws and red eyes. She was a monster, she was a Laufadottir. The air suddenly seemed even harder to pull in with her throat threatening to close. Her arms coiled around her stomach as it clenched violently, a thick wave of nausea washing over her and she wound her fingers tightly into her green cape for something tangible to clutch. Wherever she was now she had come after her fight with her-with Thor on the bridge after he returned to Asgard.
She slowly withered back onto the grassy spot, dry and dead grass though it was. Her head and body throbbed even more now but she could not find it in herself to conjure any magic to repair it. With her memory came the desolate, bitter feeling she had since speaking with Odin in the vault. She wished it could all have been a battle induced dream but she knew better. The despair threatened to swell within her and she could feel the sting of tears welling behind her eyes so she forced those away quickly. She had always been good at compartmentalizing and ignoring emotions she could not endure to shove them to the farthest regions on her mind.
As she lie still though, she wiggled her fingers, toes, and flexed muscles to assess the damage. She lifted her legs enough to see them without excessive movement and took note with disgust that her stockings were torn, her favorites, blood made the dark material glisten. Her decorative gold belt, her vambraces, and armor were scuffed when she looked at it, a few dents, but nothing too horrible. After a few minutes she decided nothing especially vital had taken damage, nothing broken, or if there had been, her magic had already fixed it unbidden. Some blood had spilled, maybe a fair amount of it if all the random scrapes and the deeper cuts peppering her body were any indication. Lots of bruises and gashes but she would live; fortunately or unfortunately, whatever the case might be. They would heal quickly.
Her chest heaved in a long sigh, arms draped around herself as she fingered the cloth of her once queenly cape. Queenly ... Anger sparked behind her eyes as she let memories swept through her. She had been queen since Odin slipped into slumber with her mother faithfully chained to his side and the prince was banished. It really was not fair! She had done everything, sold out her blood father and even herself to prove to Odin that she had chosen him as her father. Everything she was and could have been, she gave to that sleeping old man, but it had not mattered. Her family threw her away like an old and rusted sword they were tired of. So much for love and family! So much for loyalty!
Though she had not the time to do a great deal as queen and was not exactly the most loved, she was still the ruler. They had no right to challenge her, to overthrow her, to defy her, but they had. Thor's friends and the Gate keeper committed treason no matter how they attempted to deny it. They followed after Thor like treasonous dogs panting and lapping at his feet!
Thor, of course, was the adored prince of Asgard, perfect son, and next in succession but at least she had beaten him to the throne. She wielded Gungnir, she sat upon Hlidskjalf! At least she did have that on him; he could never again be the first of Odin's children, adopted or not, to sit upon that throne! Loki had taken that piece of history away from him. It was something she could claim if nothing else.
She deflated, the anger shifting to dread and defeat as quickly as the hate had sickened her. She had been queen, for Norn sake! Look at her now, in some field with scratches and scrapes like a beggar. There was not a great deal to cling to. At least life could not drop her much farther than this, she could be glad of that.
Oh! She half smiled when she saw glints of gold a little distance away and recognized the shape as her helm. At least she would have that here - a gift from Odin and Frigga - wherever this land happened to be. It could have been Vanaheimr but a remote part to be sure. She could endure that since she had a few allies there, it would not be a complete loss.
A rumbling sound caught her attention and she lifted herself into a sitting position to look to the woods. Perhaps it was an animal since it sounded suspiciously like a growl. She brushed the hair away from her face as she scanned the sorry looking trees for signs of life, glaring into them. She really was not in the mood for beast to crawl out of hiding. Maybe there were Snipes around after all, in which case, she should have thought better of how life could not take her much lower.
Dark, shining gray eyes looked back at her as the hairless animal; no, sickly human, slunk forward. Humans were getting much more ugly as the years went on; that gaunt body with gray skin draped carelessly over bone, jagged teeth, little to no hair, pointed ears, crude weapon in a gnarled hand. It was drooling like a dog as it snarled at her in a strangled snort. Loki's sculpted brow turned down in a contemplative scowl, crinkling her nose is utter repulsion as she looked it over. It was pungent like rotting flesh and walked with a graceless wobble. That did not look like the humans she had seen when she visited Thor, not even close. This creature looked dead or worse, like a mixture of human and Jotunn gone extremely wrong.
It growled loudly as it stepped closer, a blueish tongue licking out like a snake, and she rolled swiftly to her feet, summoning her longest dagger from subspace. It needed to be put down, that was all there was to it. Monsters had to die after all, it was a rule she had grown up knowing even if she was not sure where that left her in the grand scheme. A flick of her wrist sent the point deep into its eye socket and it dropped without further sound.
It clearly was a mutation of some kind, an unfortunate spec on life. She did not pity it this end, in fact, she felt nothing at all, not for putting down a bug. She summoned the blade back to her hand and glanced at it. Black blood, also not a human trait. Irritably, she swiped it over the ground to clean it as she walked toward her helmet.
The walking, even gingerly, let her notice all the unpleasant pains in her legs and hips but she stubbornly ignored it as she stomped through the grass. She was grateful for her high boots because the sharp, tall patches of grass wound rip her leggings even more. Her fingers locked around one of the horns of her helm and she lifted it up, delicately brushing dried grass from it before easing it onto her head. Wearing it always made her feel oddly right with the world, more powerful and intimidating. She looked much better than Lady Sif in one. Horns were better than feathers any day!
Now she simply must find civiliza-
A twig snapped behind her and she acted upon every lesson she had ever had in her life, swinging back with all her might with the dagger still between her fingers and lunging back at the foe she felt but had yet to look upon. The point drove deep into the huge, wolf-like beast's chest, and she dodged as it slumped in place, huge teeth bared as the light went out in the eyes. With a furious cry, pulling it from bone, Loki drew back the blade and swung behind her once again to drive her weapon into the shorter humanoid's neck. It gurgled grotesquely, clutching at her hips with slimy hands as it fell. She shivered it disgust, nose wrinkling, glancing at the grime on her clothing from its touch. There was not a great deal of time to morn filth touching her after she looked up to find more of the same beasts swarming from the cover of the trees.
Her eyes widened in dismay and she took a wary step back, fighting the equal balance of fear and disgust at the sight of so many hideous creatures. Not even one looked fully alive nor smelled it. It was like Jotunhiem all over again except Thor and the others were not with her, she was alone. Her head swiveled from side to side, crouching in a defensive stance as she backed away. The beasts were coming like ants leaving their hill, eyes fixed on her as they spread out to close her in.
She could not remember the last time she had been in a battle without the bunch of them being with her. It felt wrong and she felt a cloying fear that she seldom had cause to know; a fear that she might not win against the hoard coming at her and the thought of being touched again was awful but worse was the hungry looks on their hideous faces that told her they intended to rip her flesh from her bones if they gained the opportunity.
She wanted Thor! For once she desperately wanted to see her big brother, unkept face, irritating grin, and that hammer of his ... but he would not come. She had no one to call for help.
Loki forced the thought aside and worked on what she did best, strategizing. Her heart was pounding in her ears, breathing hard to steady, making it difficult to hear them but the snarling was more than loud enough to make it over her internal panic. The first thing she was forced to realize was that those were not humans and those were not regular wolves. These beasts were none she had ever seen, though similar to some others of different realms. She did not know their mental capacity, though she was sure it had to be low, nor did she know their weaknesses. The humanoid ones were slow enough but the dogs were very quick and very large. She noticed that some of them were riding the dogs as they prowled forward.
She needed to get away from them and confuse them, that she knew without any real trouble. Distance was one of the biggest things screaming in her head at the moment and she was inclined to give into the desire for it. Sending out a large group of doubles was the best way she had always found to confound and stall an enemy, so she swiftly cast the magic and swarmed them with as many duplicates of herself as she could without draining her energy.
With the clones blocking their view of her, she retreated. Pain shot up her right ankle but she ignored that as she had everything else. Running was the logical option against that many opponents. Thor would call her a coward and degrade her feminine ways, as he always did, but she knew she was in the right. Why die just to prove you were not only brave but clearly stupid? Not her, she would use her "tricks" and she would survive as she always had. She could not let them surround her so she needed to pick them off as they chased her.
Her black tresses flew behind her, cape draped over one arm to ensure she did not trip over it in her haste. Air cycled swiftly in and out of her lungs, her jaw slack with her deep breaths. Her magic was so low, so depleted that it would take massive amounts of rest to gain it back, but before that she would simply have to deal with the continual feeling of sluggishness. This was no time for respite.
A glance back told her they really were as stupid as she hoped, all following the various clones with all the gusto their hungry, clumsy bodies could. The dogs, as she thought, were the real problem. They were tearing away the duplicates, catching up to them and going right through them, thus finding them to be fakes not worth chasing. The continued illusion was enough to confuse them but two dogs were already galloping toward her, abandoning the illusions for what they could smell.
She could hear the heavy paws pounding the ground behind her as she fled toward the only cover she could find, more trees, tall and thick ones. It was her very best, or maybe only option considering there had to be a hundred monsters behind her by now. She was fast but she was also hurt and as much as she struggled to push past it, it was slowing her.
The trees were so close, but those beasts were too! She dared not allow herself to think of the potential that there were more on this side because if she did she might just give up. Loki summoned more of her throwing knives to her hand and hurled them, awkwardly turning her torso, desperately hoping nothing unseen was around to trip her, and aiming for the eyes of those dogs as she ran. A yip and thump told her she at least hit one but she could hear others joining.
Heat from a panting dog blew her hair into her face, mercifully alerting her to the danger and she felt as well as sensed how close it was. She tried not to scream as she ducked low, letting it sail harmlessly over her head. Prey missed, it snarled loudly in irritation, swerving back and kicking up dust as it skidded to right itself in its eagerness to go back for another charge.
She threw another knife but the quivering in her hands made it miss her mark, hitting it between the eyes. It reeled back, stunned, but not dead by any means. She cursed her weak nerves, furious but she had no time to correct it. The thought of living drove her on and she dared not look back as she passed the beast. The only way to live was to stay calm and think clearly about every move and not stop moving for a second. The wolf rared to life moments later, her knife sticking in its skull.
Another blade, her short sword this time, came to her hand and she dropped to her knees the moment she hear its paws leave the ground. As it sailed over her for the second time she sliced upward and ripped into its underbelly. Black moisture hit her it a spray of droplets but she pushed back her repulsion. It screamed and fell with a heavy crash, not getting up this time.
Loki scrambled to her feet and darted ahead once again, dirt and grass kicking up in her rush. Even now she could hear more coming, many more. They had seen her kill the dog and were learning from trial and error that the fakes could not be touched, which left the obvious option even for them.
She twirled and sliced as the dogs came at her on both sides, slicing the throats in one fluid motion with as much force and accuracy as attainable on the run. The riders of the beasts jumped from the backs and made to tackle her but she anticipated such a move, swaying away as they crashed to the ground. They eyed her with toothy snarls as they scrambled to charge, but she had no intention of letting them touch her.
A little voice in her head scolded her for her form, an old battle instructor's voice. Her movements might not have been like Sif's, too much akin to various sword dances of Vanaheimr than a battle, but as she smoothly cleaved the offending head of one and slit the throat of the other, she was quite sure her way was just as effective. As long as they were felled she did not care.
Fast kills were the only way she could stay alive because the minute one of them caught her or slowed her, the others would swarm. Her legs burned as she darted away, stretching them and pumping her muscles with every skid or dodge. She was breathing harder, her movements gradually becoming slower even as she slashed another particularly ugly humanoid head from its place and gutted another in a quick procession. The splatter of blood had already ceased to both her her, killing them falling into a normalcy.
Loki stumbled into the trees, desperately grabbing at them for stability and using them to push forward. They followed like tiny fish coming through a large net, slowed but not hindered in their chase. Still she ran, weaving through the foliage in varying patterns to try to slow the creature's progress; even then, quite a lot were getting near.
She sliced off a few hands that came too close, but still they came, drawing nearer with every second. Her breaths were nearly wheezes, too tired to stop the little screams every time one came terrifyingly close to stopping her. It would not be much longer before they would win by running her into the ground.
Sheer need was often the drive for invention and hers lead to a stray thought she acted upon before really considering it very far, latching onto the first low branch and swinging herself into a tree. She was agile, she always had been, so she could climb and still move through the thick branches. The leaves and branches clutched and clawed at her like hands as she moved but she would not be slowed. The trees were close enough together she had no trouble progressing, leaping from one to another. It was better than staying on ground level with them and it gave her a slight chance. So Loki slithered her way swiftly from tree branch to tree branch, working higher as she went. They still followed but remained on the ground as she prowled overhead.
It did not take much longer before she was forced to stop, body screaming for reprieve, crouching in a thick patch of leaves of its own will. She was panting, her head swimming and limbs trembling violently from the strain and overexertion. The structure of her ribs was taking a pounding from her heart even though she was still. Had she not been Aesir she knew she would have dropped some time ago.
Small miracles were still with her because she was still alive. They could not climb trees fast enough and she was thinning their ranks by running out of their reach. Many of them continued running along the ground, not having seen her duck down, others seemed to think she had stopped but could not tell exactly where she was and seemed unwilling or uneasy with staying in one place.
She watched silently from her perch, hand over her mouth to quiet her labored breathing as she leaned her full weight against the tree. The bark was rough against her face and arms but by now she hardly noticed and could not have cared less. It felt good to be still and she found her eyes shutting of their own accord, her will to stop them was running low. Rest was one thing she needed badly and she had no choice but to take it now, her body refused to move farther.
A surface, light sleep was upon her fast and it felt so blissful. The fall had taken quite a bit out of her but to have to battle after that was even worse. How long she stayed that way was beyond her with no way to tell time. The forest was largely cut off from the light and fresh air too, which did not help her stay awake either. Thin air meant lightheaded sensations for anyone not used to it, or as it was for her, exhausted individuals.
Several warning voices in her head kept her from falling deep into sleep but she was satisfied with what she could come by. It did not last long though, she was startled awake when the quiet the creatures left behind with their absence was blemished. Roaring, and animalistic screeches filled the air from seemingly every direction.
Fear spiked in her again, her body coiled tight with tension as she tried to pinpoint the sound unsuccessfully, hearing it as if the forest swirled it in all directions intentionally. Loki stayed perfectly still, hardly breathing, eyes wide, waiting for whatever battle was occurring to arrive back at her feet, but the sound stopped as suddenly as it began.
Fresh fear spurred her muscles to move again by sheer force of will, not caring to see what occurred. Her legs carried her as silently in a new direction, one she hoped was away from the carnage she supposed had been the cause of the noise. The bark of the trees scraping her soles was her only tell, and she hoped it was not heard. If nothing more, she was thankful her boots were less like Thor's, more suited for creeping than clunking.
Something caught her arm, jerking her to a sudden stop, her feet slipping from the branch to make her scramble wildly to catch another. The grip on her arm kept her from falling, dangling her precariously like a puppet until she kicked herself back onto a limb. Her heart was in her throat for the hundredth time of the day, teeth gritted to keep herself silent as she clawed with her free arm at the substance until she saw it with more clarity and a great degree of relief. Even so, her left eyes twitched in another round of disgust as she peeled away the thick bunch of sticky webbing, mentally cursing the wilds for all the things they kept that a palace intentionally rid itself of. Bugs were never her favorite pest and she was never interested in them the way Thor and Volstagg had been.
To her the world would be just fine without them. She must have run into a whole nest of them for how thick the web was and she shuddered and brushed at her hair and clothing. Her imagination had her skin crawling at the thought of how many might be on her. It was disturbing to even think of but she found no black moving dots on her person so she considered herself fortunate.
The scrambling did bring a different discovery though. Further damage to her garb, which drew a snarl from her lips as she brushed vengefully at the material. The Norns had it out for her garments! The once beautiful, though thankfully battle appropriate - split to the hips on both sides to ensure running was not hindered- skirt, another favorite of hers with gold scroll inlay to the green and black leather, was ripped.
Well, no use mourning what was ruined, she would have to admit. She consoled herself with the knowledge that she might be able to repair it later, after she was off the insufferable location.
There were bigger issues to worry over and she needed to keep moving, to get away, so she began again. On light feet she continued on over the branches but breathing continued to be a task with the stale, oppressive thickness of it. The realms air was not at all to her taste, each area holding its own unpleasant stench. When she returned to Asgard she would never visit this area again.
Her steps halted, breath hitching as she remembered the bridge, or lack of one and a new sickness swept over her, eyes clamped shut. The Bifrost was gone, which meant there was no way home. There was likely a rip in Yggdrasil here but it would take her ages to find in an unfamiliar world, if she could find it at all, if she did not die first. There was no way at all to know how large this realm was and she was quite sure now that it was not Vanaheimr as she first supposed. Heimdall was not in any condition to find her even if he did not refuse to do so ... or even if her family cared to search for her at all, and they indeed might not.
The trees began to close in on her and the world started to spin as black formed at the corners of her vision. It was not hard to know what was happening but she could not stop the stone cold panic from rushing in as her breaths came in gasps. She crouched down onto the trunk of a tree and curled in on herself.
There was a chance she would not be going anywhere any time soon. It was possible that going back home was no longer possible and from her experience of the realm so far, that thought terrified her enough to make her body tremble uncontrollably. There was no way she could last indefinitely on this wretched land. It would be the death of her eventually without any understanding of the area.
She did not want to be here, she wanted to go home! She would die here! She did not want to die; did not want to be eaten alive or starve to death! Loki needed Odin and Frigga. She needed Thor and the Warriors! She needed her home and her books and her room! This had all been like a nightmare since that Jotunn touched her; no, the nightmare started the moment Odin announced he was handing the throne over to Thor. The horrors began the moment her hand was forced in order to stop the ruination of Asgard. It had been one hellish event after the next ever since. None of this should have been happening to her! She should be in Asgard with a family that still loved her and would protect her!
Tears began to sting and burn the backs of her eyes but she struggled to hold back the sob hiding in the back of her throat. The rage and hate flared in her chest anew. She had nothing else to cling to, nothing else to hold to stop herself from plummeting and the dark emotion was as good as anything else. Loki growled the way Thor usually did when he was brimming with anger.
All of this was Thor's fault! She would not give him the satisfaction of reducing her to a weeping mess! Just because she was a woman did not mean she was weak! She was a Queen! Odin could not say differently! She was equal to any man, and warrior, any foolish prince! She was no damsel that needed a man to save her!
Leaves rustled over her head, which would be normal in a forest save for the simple fact that there was no breeze. Her breath caught and muscles coiled, dread tickling her senses instantly as she hesitantly turned her eyes upward.
A furry, rough set of legs was the first thing she saw, multiple black eyes and moving mandibles was second. Her mind screamed one word as she shrieked and scrambled down branches much faster than she normally would have thought herself able, even for an Aesir. The spider, huge spider was above her so the only solution her horrified consciousness could draw forth was to go down, away from it. Had she been thinking more clearly beyond, giant spider, she would have known getting on the ground would not help. But "giant, damn spider" was as far as she was getting.
Her previous thread of thought had suddenly changed. Now she wanted someone to save her! Someone could come save her any time at all! Thor could tease her for centuries to come as long as he killed that thing! She would hug him and tell him a thousand times how sorry she was for everything if he would just swing than hammer right into that hideous head!