Chapter 24: Cacophony
The two women stared at the closed door before them for several moments. Katirya broke the silence first. "Were you thinking what I was thinking about?"
"My wedding night?" Frigga replied with a grin.
"Exactly," Katirya smiled and sighed contentedly. "Although we have had several rough spots, I would not change my life for anything."
Frigga placed her hands on the other woman's shoulders. "You have been good for my son. Loki has become the man I always thought he could become."
"Thank you," Katirya spoke softly. She hugged Frigga.
"No need to thank me, I am just happy things have turned out for Loki as well as they have. I wish Thor…" Frigga's voice trailed off.
"He will find someone eventually," Katirya said quickly, before Frigga could speak of her hopes that Thor would have married Sif. "Listen to us, talking about our weddings and wedding nights! I do wonder what Mica has selected for Sif's bride gift."
"You mean he did not tell you?" Frigga looked surprised.
"No! Do not tell me he told you?" Katirya looked aghast.
"Oh, no. I just figured he would have consulted you on that," Frigga said. She glanced back at the door with a smile. "I guess we will all be surprised tomorrow then. Shall we return to the hall? That was a good wine tonight."
Katirya grinned. "I wonder how much trouble the twins have caused? And yes, that was an excellent wine. Mica selected that one, it is one of Cartherion's best and I am certain there is plenty left. He had quite a bit sent here."
They had reached the end of the long corridor and were turning towards the Great Hall when Sverre came bounding up.
"MOM!" he shouted at the top of his lungs. "You have to see the fireworks!" He raced up and grabbed Katirya's hand. "They are better than even the ones before dinner!"
"Where is your sister? And did you tell your father where you were going?"
Sverre looked sheepish. "Ah, no, and I don't know. I think she was going to dance with someone."
"Well, I think it is about time for both of you to head off to bed." As she noticed the look on his face, she added. "There will be plenty of fireworks all week."
"I suppose," Sverre replied, slightly depressed at the thought of having to go to bed. Then he realized she had said there would be more fireworks. "Does that mean we get to go tomorrow night too?"
"Only if you behave like you did tonight."
"Ah, there you are," Loki came around a corner to find them talking. He scooped up his son. "I take it Mica made it to his chambers?"
"He did, and that one needs to go to his," Katirya replied. "Aud…"
"Is already in her room," Loki answered. "I figured he would be looking for you. I told Kai he could stay as long as he wished."
Katirya nodded in reply. Before she could say anything, Micarian was heard bellowing down the corridors.
"WHERE IS MY WIFE?" Her brother exploded around the corner, his eyes blazing in anger. Seeing Loki, he ran up to him. "Where is your brother? He has taken my wife!"
"Mica? What are you talking about? Calm down," Katirya attempted to placate him. "Sif was in the bedroom when we left."
"Well, she's not there now. But I found this!" He held aloft one of the mugs that had graced the head tables for the feast. They were distinctive, and had been handmade for each person, with their name engraved upon it. The one he was holding clearly had Thor's name upon it.
"Well, that does not necessarily mean Thor left it. He was hardly at the feast tonight," Loki stated.
"He was there drinking when I left!" Micarian snapped back.
"Well, there you have it. If he was there drinking he could hardly have been here spiriting Sif away," Loki countered.
"I did not come straight here," Micarian retorted. "I stopped to pick up some things to surprise Sif with. So, he could easily have left right after me."
"Are you sure she did not just go for a walk in the garden or something?" Frigga asked. "Although she was sitting in the bedroom when we left, which was when you arrived."
"I did not go directly to the bedroom. I saw the food and decided to create a surprise tray for us. After I put everything together, along with my little gift, I entered the bedroom and she wasn't there. Why would she go for a walk? Thor was there. I found this on the bed in there and no sign of my wife," Micarian replied. "And why are you grilling me? I'm the one whose wife is missing?"
"I just find it hard to believe Thor had anything to do with this," Frigga explained. "He is just not one to…"
"Stop! He still loved her. You all know that! He got sidetracked by that silly human. Once she died, he decided he wanted Sif, but I had her already!" Micarian glared at the group surrounding him. "We are wasting time here. My wife is missing. If you are not going to help me, then I'll find her myself and kill whoever took her!" He turned and stomped down the hall.
"Mica! Wait! It's not that we don't believe you, it's just seems odd," Katirya shouted after her brother.
Micarian whirled around. "You find it odd? Odd that someone else lusted after my wife?"
"No, odd that she would leave. Sif realized Thor still loved her, but she had made a choice. We were discussing it earlier," Katirya replied.
"Wait? You were discussing this? Seriously? Kiri, I cannot believe you of all people were talking about her love for Thor, and that Thor loves her. On my wedding day, no less?" Micarian snarled.
"Mica, it needed to be talked about. It was bothering Sif, but she knew she had made her choice and was content with it."
"Content? That is all? She was just content with marrying me? So, she did want Thor. There! That proves it. Now, if you all will excuse me, I am going to find them and kill him."
Loki called out to the guards as Micarian turned and walked away. Ordering three to follow Micarian, he sent the others out to locate his brother. Once done, he followed Micarian. "Kiri, go check the rooms. You were the last to see Sif. See if you can discover anything there."
Frigga followed Katirya as they raced back to the rooms. Entering the bedchambers where they had last seen Sif, they discovered it empty and signs of a struggle were evident.
"Something has happened, and it appears Sif did not go willingly with whomever was here," Frigga commented.
"Guards!" Katirya called out. "Do not allow anyone into this room. I want at least two of you to stay in here to ensure nothing is touched until we can return, and the rest outside to keep others away."
"Two?" Frigga asked as they exited and headed in the direction Loki and Micarian had gone.
"Yes, so that there is at least one witness. It is harder to kill off two."
"You think whoever did this is violent?"
"Yes. Now to figure out where they would have taken her," Katirya picked up the pace.
"You do not believe Thor is behind this, do you?"
Katirya paused and turned to look at the older woman. She shook her head. "No. He would never do anything like this. I fear this is the work of our enemy, trying to get us confused and divided. And it appears it is working. Mica is ready to kill Thor.
"I wonder how that mug got into the room then? If we know Thor did not do it, then who?" Frigga asked.
Katirya looked up and down the hallway. Assured there was no one nearby, she confided. "We fear there is a spy in Asgard. Someone who is manipulating others. Like they did with Fury, although what he did was on his own in a manner of speaking."
"You mean trying to kidnap the twins?"
Katirya nodded. "That was his own scheme, trying to find a way to get the Infinity Stones, but whoever is behind all this convinced Fury he needed his help. Like a Midgardian would be much help…"
Frigga nodded. "Well, they are resourceful. We have seen that."
"But you are correct, how did Thor's mug get in there?" Katirya mused. "Maybe…" she paused, lost in thought. "Rather than following Loki, let's go back to the Great Hall. There might be a clue there!"
Loki caught up with Micarian. "Stop! Do you even know where you are going?"
Micarian snorted derisively. "Of course! Sif talked about her favorite place in Asgard. Some waterfalls. She even took me there once. Then I found out that Thor was the one who showed them to her first. That has to be where he's taken her!"
"But have you considered what if it was not my brother?"
"It has to be. Why else was the mug there? He wanted me to know he had her."
They reached the falls shortly to find no sign of Sif or anyone else.
"See, I told you my brother was not involved," Loki stated.
Micarian had been scrutinizing the area closest to the waterfall. "Really?" He reached down and triumphantly held up a garland of golden yellow and white flowers. "Sif was wearing these in her hair today."
Loki stared at the garland of flowers. "That still does not prove it was Thor. Perhaps someone is baiting you to believe it is Thor."
"Why would anyone bother to do that?" Micarian snorted.
Loki shrugged, unable to really respond to that. The evidence was pointing towards his brother more and more. He could only hope that the palace guards could locate him so he could prove Thor had not been behind this, though even he was beginning to doubt that. He knew this waterfall had always been one of Thor's favorite places to go to relax and escape.
Micarian had begun pacing the clearing. "Now, where did they go to after this? I'll bet he brought her here so he could leave this behind… knowing I would come here."
"Back to Asgard?" Loki suggested.
"Doubt it. He took her somewhere so he could…"
The sound of crashing brush interrupted him.
"That way. They've seen us. They know we are here. THOR! When I catch, you I am going to kill you!" Micarian ran off in the direction of the sounds.
Loki watched him leave, realizing that even if it was his brother, Thor could take care of himself. He turned and headed back towards the city. He entered and headed for the Great Hall where he saw Katirya and Loki speaking to several of the servants near the head table. Many of the guests were still carousing, enjoying the flow of wine and food that still poured out from the kitchens, clearly unaware of the missing bride.
"Any luck?" he asked as he approached the women.
"Not yet. No one has seen Thor, but the guards are still looking. Where is Mica?"
"Still hunting the errant couple down," Loki replied wryly.
"You don't believe Thor did this, do you?" Frigga asked.
"Mica found more proof… out by the waterfall. A strand of the flower garland Sif was wearing tonight was lying by the pool."
"That still doesn't mean Thor took her."
"I know that, but until we find him, it is starting to look like he might have done this after all."
Katirya sighed. "None of the servants recall if Thor took his mug with him or not. I mean, I left mine here," she pointed to the table where hers sat. "The servants would know to bring them to our rooms. I would have expected Thor to do the same, so that means anyone could have picked it up."
"But do not forget, there were signs of a struggle in the bedroom," Frigga reminded her.
Loki perked up at that revelation.
"That doesn't tell us much as to who did this though, just that Sif was reluctant to leave," Katirya said. "It could have been Thor or anyone."