The Dragon and the Trickster
The servants were nervous.
Loki could sense their apprehension in the way that the dishes they were serving him from clinked together and in the erratic way their eyes would shift towards each other before darting away. They were absurdly quiet as well, a vast difference from their usual murmurs to each other and polite conversation towards him.
He frowned as he watched them, unsure of what to make of their anxiety. It was a lovely morning and he had chosen to sit on his terrace overlooking the ocean as he had broken his fast. The view here was spectacular and once more, he quietly congratulated himself on making this particular spot his home.
The scent of his vast gardens drifted faintly on the breeze behind him, the air rife with hyacinths and pomegranates. The reminder caused him to reach for the latter on his plate and palm it slowly as he looked back and forth between the people standing around.
"You all appear troubled," he said slowly. "May I inquire as to the source?"
The youngest serving girl, the one called Lysi shot him a look full of reproach. "There have been some….rumors speculating my lord."
Loki raised one dark brow. "Oh? And why should rumors be a cause for your concern?"
This caused the girl to glance at the young man who had just set another plate of fruit on the table. Loki turned to him with the same expression. "Speak Delfus, you know I would rather have your words than your silence. You have never had to fear reproach from me."
"No my lord," the servant said hastily. "It is not your reproach that I fear."
Loki's eyes narrowed and the green gaze swung back and forth between them as he assessed each individual expression for the source of their apprehension. The servants had never lied to him and he would have been able to sense their intentions anyway.
"And whose reproach do you fear?" he asked softly, but in a tone that brooked no argument.
Delfus blanched. "My lord, there have been rumors that….there will be another caravan of slaves brough in to Qarth this day."
The other eyebrow rose to join the first. The green eyes bored into those of his servant and the young man swallowed hard before twisting his hands together. "How true are your sources?"
"There are many things we hear in the marketplace my lord," Lysi broke in, casting a nervous look at Delfus. "A few days ago, myself and Ala were in the square picking up an order from a spice merchant and he told me that another group of slavers had used one of his ships to transport a large group from Astapor. He couldn't tell me how many."
Though his expression had been shuttered the whole time he was speaking with them, a small flame of irritation flared to life.
It was something he had had to come to terms with nearly the moment he had landed here. It was a far different experience from the one he had been exposed to and though his ability to adapt was second to none, Loki had found himself somewhat ill prepared for the sheer inhumanity of it all.
Slavery had been outlawed in the Nine for centuries and yet he had found a place where it was not merely legal but encouraged.
He had traveled widely in his time as second prince of Asgard and yet he had never been to a branch of Yggdrasil that supported such degradation of sentient life.
And all for the exchange of a few coins.
The city he was currently residing in, Qarth in name, was one such metropolis that benefited greatly from the sale of human flesh, but their trade also extended to spices, textiles, food, precious metals and jewels.
The mortals called it "the greatest city that ever was or will be," a moniker that Loki had scoffed at. Their arrogance had been astounding and yet when he spent some time looking at the place from behind the walls of his home, he had to admit that it was impressive at least by their standards.
However, he was certain that such heights had been achieved on the backs of slaves. And then his mood would darken.
"You are certain?" he asked.
Lysi and Delfus exchanged another look. "As certain as we can be my lord. Qarth is not a place that would cease to traffic humans. It makes the Pureborn too much money."
Loki felt his lower lip curl into a faint sneer.
Why he had allowed them to live for so long was beyond him. They were a minor annoyance when he got here and spent a few weeks working to ingratiate himself in their circles and now that he had begun amassing wealth for himself, they had become a wasp that simply wouldn't go away.
Most of them feared him and with good reason. He had demonstrated not long after his arrival here why exactly he was not to be crossed and gained their deference immediately.
And because he was amused at just how far they would go to please him, he allowed them to continue on with their lives, uninterrupted by him.
But even his patience had a limit.
Loki had made his distaste for slavery plain the moment he had amassed a position of some standing in Qarth. Not because he was particularly fond of the mortals, but because there was surely a better way to get ahead if wealth and power were the end goals.
But then he had gone to the slave market.
It was purely by chance that he had turned down a different street from his normal walk and ended up at the back end of an auction block where people draped in chains and collars were being brought out.
The looks in the eyes of the men, women and children were old, haunted and tired, those of hunted animals.
It was only then that he truly began to understand the true forms that depravity took on.
He still remembered the looks on the slavers' faces right before they died. Perhaps he should have felt something because they had been defenseless standing there, but then he remembered the whips in their hands, the cowering way that the chained humans had huddled as they passed and he felt not an ounce of remorse.
He had taken possession of them all that day, every last man woman and child in that caravan and he hadn't regretted it.
It had never really occurred to him that it had been his first selfless act.
Loki glanced up at his servants and noted the uncertain look on their faces. "Are you well?"
"Yes," he said calmly and resumed eating his breakfast. "Perfectly. Keep me apprised of the situation. That will be all. Thank you."
There was a muted pause before they both set their dishes down on the table, cleared away what had been emptied and then offered him a short bow before leaving.
Loki didn't pay them any more attention before turning his gaze back to the terrace and the brilliant blue ocean that lay just beyond it.
The house he lived in was beautiful, he had outdone himself in that regard. Three stories and made entirely of white marble to ensure controlled temperatures. The roof was slanted and beveled with clay shingling and the windows were wide and open. The first floor housed the kitchens, large dining hall and the servants quarters that were in the eastern wing. The second level housed an enormous library, every book that he had collected over the years from his many travels and had not placed in his personal collection existed there. There were books from Alfheim, Vanaheim, Nornheim and many other realms throughout Yggdrasil. It centered him somehow, seeing them all in one place as one more connection to a life that he knew was lost to him now.
On the third level, the bedrooms were housed. Many rooms had been placed into this house of his, he had wanted it to look as much like a palace as possible. But the only one who slept on the third floor in the largest room was him.
However, perhaps his favorite place in the entirety of the house were the gardens he was now sitting in. They spanned the entire length of the property and were filled with all manner of blooms and trees. He was rather proud of it for some of the blooms and fruit trees could be found in no other place in this realm.
Some of them contained medicinal properties and healing nectars. Others were deadly poisons and simply touching them could cause the victim to break out in painful skin boils.
Loki had cautioned all his servants to avoid touching anything in the gardens without his permission for their own safety.
Though his commands had never been disobeyed since he had freed them all, every single one of them kept a wide birth from all the shrubs in the gardens.
He took a sip from the goblet of wine and watched as the gulls flew overhead out into the bay, screeching their familiar cries. It was looking to be a beautiful day and off in the distance, he could just about make out a few ships coming towards the harbor.
Other than that….all was silent.
Loki released a slow breath and set his goblet down.
It was quiet here, sometimes he almost felt it was too quiet.
Tapping his fingers against the table, the god of mischief cast his mind back to the servants conversation and considered his options.
He had made his distaste for the slave trade plain to all, especially those among the Pureborn but he was certain stronger measures were needed for it to cease completely.
Plus it would be very fun to set the city's leaders into chaos.
Perhaps he should take a trip to the market today.
All of a sudden there was the sound of pounding footsteps behind him and he turned to see Delfus hurrying in his direction, clutching a piece of parchment in his hand.
Loki raised an eyebrow as the servant skidded to a halt in front of him and gave a hasty bow. "Is something amiss?"
"No my lord," Delfus said breathlessly. "But it would appear that a collection of individuals have gathered on the outskirts of Qarth."
"Slavers and their….merchandise?"
"No my lord. It appears to be a group seeking aid. Our contact couldn't see much but the group seems to be comprised mainly of Dothraki and they are being led by a woman who is clearly not."
Loki's other eyebrow joined the first. He had paid off a guard on the city walls to relay any and all information that might be interesting to him. He wanted to know the exact dealings of the Pureborn, who they saw, what they brought in and who they were speaking with.
Other times, he would simply transform himself into a raven and sit outside windows, listening for whatever knowledge he might glean. Some of it was interesting, others caused him to want to roll his eyes, but bits of gossip were still worth keeping in mind.
"You seem to find a great deal of value in this information Delfus," he drawled. "Speak quickly, what is it that you are not saying?"
The servant shifted from foot to foot. "My lord, the woman appears to be one Daenerys Targaryen in name. She was once wed to a Khal of the Dothraki, one of the most fearsome to ride the Red Wastes. And there is a rumor that she is in possession of…."
"Dragons my lord," Delfus whispered. "There is a claim that she has three of them."
Now he had Loki's attention. "Truly?"
Though Loki was no stranger to dragons, having seen a few during his long life, it was odd to think of the mortals having them. But then again, dragons were seen by many as being creatures of myth, descending from primitive stories and this land in which he lived was certainly primitive.
In an ironic way, it made sense that there would be dragons here.
"What else?" Loki asked, having not yet made up his mind.
"The Pureborn are assembling to greet her," Delfus continued. "But whether that's to allow her entrance or prevent her from coming in, I do not know."
Well, his day had certainly become more interesting.
"Tell the servants to ready the house," he said, an idea beginning to percolate in his mind. "We may be having guests soon."
Without waiting for Delfus to leave, he summoned his seidr and leapt into the air, his form immediately falling away to take on that of a raven.
He glanced down once in time to see the slightly awed look on Delfus' face as the distance between the ground grew.
His magic was largely a secret, though his servants knew of his abilities to some extent. He had used them to great effect in first amassing his fortune.
Though there were rumors that he was a sorcerer that he had helped to carefully foster. It was why so many of the Pureborn were wary of him.
Loki let the currents carry his wings up and above Qarth until he was flying towards the city gates where there did indeed appear to be a small crowd gathering just outside the large doors. He recognized the golden robes of the Pureborn and would have sneered if he were able. All thirteen of them looked to be in attendance.
Then he saw familiar blue robes and inwardly cursed as he neared the group. Daxos…of course he would be here. That man is the definition of upstart.
Loki then turned his attention to the group attempting to seek entry.
He had to admit that they were a motely bunch. They were dressed in what appeared to rags with only a few horses and riders among them. Most of them were women and children. Even from this distance they looked dirty and exhausted, their eyes haunted.
He felt a pang when a familiar memory assaulted him from his first few weeks in this land.
His eyes were then drawn to the woman standing at the head of the group. She was as different from the others as night from day. She had very pale skin and almost silvery blonde hair. His sharp eyes picked out her tattered blue garments and bedraggled locks. Somehow however, she was still standing tall, despite what looked to be a rough ordeal.
Loki's curiosity was piqued.
He was certain this was the Targaryen. Though he had only lived in this strange country for a year, he had read as much as he could of its history and the origins of the land across the sea calling itself Westeros.
The Targaryens had once been its rulers before curses, madness and a series of bad luck had driven the last remnants of them into exile.
Both as a means of curiosity, and an escape from the darkness of his own thoughts, Loki had read extensively on this family's curious history. They boasted of a proud lineage spanning a few thousand years and descended from farmers and shepherds who had the good fortune to discover dragons whilst going about their daily lives.
Loki's eyes had gleamed at the mention of the beasts. He had seen many dragons before, but none in the mortal realm and to discover even the possibility of them here was a treat he was not expecting.
His sharp eyes spied a thatched hutch sitting in a wheeled cart and being pulled by a member of the motely group and noted that that was where the creatures were likely to be kept.
He circled in the air listening intently to the conversation happening below. It seemed as if the Pureborn would only allow the Targaryen and her retinue entrance if she revealed her dragons to them.
The sharp eyes of his raven's form glimmered with amusement when he heard the girl's biting words back. She clearly had a spine that was not weakened from her time spent in the desert. But even from this distance, he could also see the desperation in her eyes. She was made of iron principles and wouldn't be bullied, but also anxious enough to not have a plan.
It was that juxtaposition that intrigued him.
This might be a conversation worth taking part in, he thought to himself and without wasting another second, dove towards the ground, right near Xaro Daxos.
Just as he neared it, Loki called on his seidr to return him to his preferred form and like a curtain of feathers falling, emerged from the enchantment.
There were several shouts of surprise and fear accompanied furious curses as those gathered leapt back in shock.
Loki rolled his shoulders back as he rose to his full height, once more enjoying that he stood nearly a head taller than any of them mortal gathered. He gave them an easy smile, revelling in the looks of surprise and wariness that he saw.
It was the one of the few overt displays of magic he had demonstrated since coming here, but he was confident he would not be seen.
"Gentlemen," he said softly. "There seems to be some sort of problem. Might I inquire as to the source?"
There was a moment of stunned silence where the Pureborn did nothing save exchange long, almost panicked looks amongst themselves.
Finally, one of the smaller ones ventured to speak up. "My…My lord there is a foreigner attempting to enter Qarth."
Even though he had asked the question, Loki was hard pressed not to roll his eyes at the overt mention of the obvious.
Instead, he gazed at the man for a long moment, one eyebrow raised until he shuddered and looked away. "Perhaps I should clarify. Why aren't you letting her in?"
"We do not know the nature or abilities of this…woman!" the Copper King blustered as he was known to do. "She could be dangerous!"
Still Loki refrained from rolling his eyes. He had pandered to enough fools throughout his very long life, and this group possessed fewer collective brain cells than any individual, mortal or Aesir, than he had ever met. "Tell me something then, does she look like she could do you harm? Does she appear to have an affinity for a weapons or an army hidden behind her khalasar that you are simply too blind to see?"
The man blustered, understanding the insult well enough. "You dare –"
"But I suppose this is about more than just your irrational and illogical fear of danger. You fear an unknown. That is good. You fools would all do well to fear more and bluster less."
And then without waiting for a response he turned his back to them and strode purposefully over the sand towards the motely group.
His eyes were fixed on the young woman who stood out from the rest of them. Her eyes never left his as he came toward her and he could sense that she was weighing the risk of his presence compared to those behind him.
Her eyes narrowed slightly and he suppressed the urge to smile. She already though of him as more dangerous than they.
He stopped about a foot away so as to not add to her intimidation and cocked his head to one side as he studied her.
Despite the dust and dirt and exhaustion of travel, she was still very beautiful. She had the sort of coloring that would make her stand out in any crowd no matter how large. And here, surrounded by desert sands and burning golds, she was a silvery star.
Her large violet eyes were narrowed slightly at him, taking in his clothing, his height, his demeanor.
In the end, though he could sense her desperation, there was little else that he could tell about her.
Impressive for a mortal.
Her ability to hide at least certain thoughts and emotions from her face was enough to cause Loki to speak courteously to her. "What is your name my lady?"
She was silent for a moment before answering the question, like she was attempting to see what other inquiries he might be making behind the first. To give someone your name was to submit to a measure of power.
Finally however, she seemed to weigh that it was worth the risk. "I am Daenerys my lord. Daenerys Targaryen."
Though he had been certain of her identity before, it was still nice to have a form of confirmation. "And your purpose in entering Qarth my lady."
"She is not a mere lady, she is a Khaleesi!" one of the girls behind her snapped and Loki's eyes shifted towards her.
She was dark haired and olive skinned and appeared to have just as much of a spine as the one called Daenerys.
"Doreah," the Targaryen said in a placating tone. "Now is not the time to quibble over titles. We seek shelter and we will not have it with arguments."
"Nay," Loki said softly, drawing the attention of both females back to himself. "But it is telling. Do you know of someone in Qarth that could host you?"
Daenerys blinked. "No my lord. No one."
She didn't stammer or offer excuses, merely stated her humble circumstances as fact and braced herself for his potential judgement.
Loki regarded her for a long moment, refraining from looking at the thatched hutch where the dragons were no doubt hiding. Any glance at them and he knew he would lose her curiosity.
He found he didn't want to.
Perhaps it was that desire that prompted his next words, perhaps it was his own curiosity about her, or perhaps it was because he was certain that if she stayed, life in Qarth would become more interesting.
Or maybe he was just bored.
Whatever the case, the words rang out across the sands, clearly enough that all gathered were able to hear.
"I am invoking the law of Sumai," he said smoothly and instantly a dagger materialized in his hand. He used it draw a neat slash across his palm that he knew would heal quickly. "The Khaleesi and her retinue will stay with me."
There was a grumbling sound from somewhere behind them but Loki's eyes were still locked on Daenerys, assessing every minute facial tick he could see.
Aside from the slight stress lines around her eyes lessening, he couldn't see much.
He was further curious.
"Would that be acceptable?" he asked in a soft voice, a tone only meant for her ears.
She raised her chin, no hesitation this time. "It would my lord. Thank you."
He nodded, amused by her bravery but at the same time, finding it endearing. "Come then. You look as if you've come a long way."
He stood aside and gestured with his hand towards the city gates, meaning for her to walk beside him.
The group behind her shuffled amongst themselves and muttered but made to follow her as the pair on to Qarth.
"May it be on your head then Prince!" one of the Pureborn called as they passed but Loki's only response was to offer the man a feral grin that he knew was terrifying.
He smirked when they cringed back.
"Prince?" Daenerys asked in a soft voice meant only for his ears. "You are royalty then?"
"Of a sort," Loki replied easily. "The Pureborn fear me because they cannot control me or understand me. Ironically, prince was a title that they came up with."
Her gaze on him was surprisingly steady. "Prince seems very formal a title. What should I call you then?"
He paused in his stride to regard her for a long moment. They were nearing the Pureborn now, but he cast an illusion to ensure that no one would see them talking. Seeing that he had stopped, she mirrored his stance so that the two of them were standing very close.
"To others I will remain Prince," the god of mischief said softly. "But to you, I will be Loki."
In the end, he did not die, though he had expected to.
The fall hadn't killed him, nor it seemed, robbed him of his senses. He was whole and hale, if a bit disoriented.
His first physical sensation however was one of searing heat. There was a blinding sun somewhere overhead and Loki blinked his eyes against the stark and uncomfortable feeling.
He wasn't sure where he was, but little could be gained by from lying on uneven ground and baking in the heat.
After a moment of silent contemplation, he forced himself to his feet and took his first look around at this new existence.
For miles, he could see sand in every direction, endless waves of it under a cloudless blue sky.
There was no wind, no breeze to cool the heat and Loki knew instantly that if he didn't find shelter soon, some means of cooling himself then he would be in trouble.
For he was stranded in the middle of a desert.
Yes, you guessed it. This is a Loki/Dany story. I just could not help myself. I've been daydreaming about this fic and its potential for days, planning out dialogue and storylines and not to brag or anything but I think its going to be pretty delicious ;) Loki and Dany are one of the greatest potential power couples I've ever thought of and I just adore connecting people from different fandoms and seeing how they fit into new worlds. I can't wait to share this fic with you guys. Let me know what you think of the first chapter!