Once again, thanks for the reviews and messages! I'm glad you like this story. :) Here's the third (and final) part. Very short but then, there wasn't much left to say ... ;)
"This is what saved my life."
With a little flourish, Loki pulled a shiny, sharp-pointed object seemingly out of thin air and handed it to Odin, giving him a small bow.
"The head of a spear", Thor pointed out with a big grin.
"Yes, Thor, father can see that."
Loki shook his head. His brother had a knack for pointing out the obvious.
Odin lifted the spear-head into the light to give it a closer look. Loki found it impossible to figure out what he was thinking but then, he always did.
"Where did you find this?" Odin asked.
"It was stuck in the troll's throat", Loki said. "There also was a piece of the shaft but that snapped off when I caught myself on it."
His father said nothing but the look on his face prompted Loki to continue.
"Not with my hands, of course, but using magic. It changed the course of my fall and slowed me down enough so that I managed to find some cracks I could cling to." He frowned. "Why isn't it mentioned in any of the books that the flesh of a troll's gullet is actually much more like rock than like flesh? That knowledge could be useful …"
At this, Odin smiled.
"Maybe because, so far, no one has ever returned from there to tell the tale. Please, do continue."
"Not much left to tell. I climbed back up, using my throwing knives to help me, and on the way, took the spear-head with me. Since it had saved my life, I wanted to take a closer look at it later. When I had climbed high enough, the troll started to swallow and finally, coughed me out."
It had been tricky to avoid being flushed down again by the beast's saliva. And to cushion his fall so he wouldn't be killed.
"And then," Thor boomed, flinging his arm around Loki's shoulders, "he saved my life, too, by casting a light as big and bright as the sun that chased the troll away."
Odin raised his eyebrows.
"You can do that?" he asked.
Loki hesitated for a moment. Of course, he could claim that it was so. Maybe he would garner one of those rare looks of approval - not pride, that seemed to be reserved for Thor exclusively – from his father. But what if father asked him to demonstrate it?
He shook his head.
"Only when I'm angry enough, obviously."
Odin nodded. He held the spear-head out to Loki to take it back.
"Do you recognize the symbol on it?" he asked.
Loki gave a hesitant nod. He had discovered it when he had been cleaning the spear-head.
"I think it might be Bran's symbol but of course, I might be mistaken."
There it was – that look of approval.
"No, you are correct. It is the symbol of Bran Trollslayer."
"What?" Thor stared at Loki, then at the spear-head in his hands, then back at Loki. "You – you found Bran's spear? But it went missing centuries ago, along with Bran!"
"I guess we finally know what happened to him, then", Loki said.
He didn't know if he managed to conceal how it excited him to find his suspicions confirmed. Both him and Thor had grown up hearing tales of the great hero Bran, a fierce warrior and famous trollslayer – thus his name. His heartbeat quickened when he finally managed to wrap his mind around what it meant. He was holding Bran's spear. Well, what remained of it. Bran's spear! He had found it. Not Thor, not Sif or any of the other three. He.
Odin rose. He held his hand over the spear-head and murmured a few words Loki didn't quite understand. He didn't really pay attention, either. His mind was still preoccupied with the thought that it was him and no one else who had found the spear. His attention shifted, though, when suddenly, a jet of light shot out of that end of the spear-head that had once held the shaft. The light solidified into a new shaft – tinted the same golden colour as the head and shining just like it.
"Beautiful", Loki murmured.
He had to force himself to tear his gaze away from the weapon and he found it even more difficult to hold it out to his father to take it. Usually, he didn't care for weapons – not in the way Thor and the others did. They were useful tools, nothing more. But this one here was different. Maybe because it had once belonged to Bran. It was a thing out of the ancient tales – not quite real and yet, all too real in his hands. Maybe it was because he, Loki, had found it. Maybe because it had saved his life.
"It should be put up in a place of honour", he said.
"Well, that is up to you", Odin replied, "but I'd rather see you use it in battle."
"It is yours. You found it – you keep it. Any relations Bran might have had and who might lay a claim to it are long gone."
It didn't happen often that Loki found himself speechless. This was one of those rare moments.
Odin smiled at him.
"This weapon wants to be used. Now, you know that I don't expect as much from you as I expect from Thor when it comes to fighting. Your talents clearly lie elsewhere. But I expect you to learn how to use this weapon – properly."
As if anyone could stop him. He didn't like swords or axes. Too heavy. And too short. But a spear – this spear – was something else entirely.
"Of course I will."
"Maybe right away?" Thor suggested with a twinkle in his eyes.
"Why not? The sooner, the better."
Thor laughed and slapped him on the shoulder.
"That's the spirit! Come on, then, little brother."
That evening, Loki left the feast earlier than usual.
"He wants to spend some time alone with his new sweetheart", Fandral said, nudging Volstagg in the side.
Volstagg laughed and Thor grinned, too.
For once, Loki didn't mind being laughed or grinned at. He just grinned back.
"You better hold your tongue, Fandral", Thor said. "If my brother keeps practicing with his new 'sweetheart' as enthusiastically as he did this afternoon, he'll make you pay for such words – and not by pranking you."
Loki didn't hear Fandral's reply. But what his brother had said was true enough. He wondered why it had never occurred to him before to use a spear in battle. It gave him a wider range than a sword, which was great for someone who didn't like to get in too close contact with his opponents. In fact, this afternoon, he had heard their weapons master murmur something about someone finally having found his weapon of choice. He knew he still had much to learn to master this weapon. And that he still would never be good enough to beat Thor without resorting to magic. But Thor had looked very pleased by his first attempts with a spear.
"A weapon knows when you like it", he had said, putting his arm around Loki's shoulders with a smile. "When you do, it will like you back."
Loki entered his chambers. His gaze fell upon Bran's spear – his spear, he reminded himself – that he had put down on his bed before he had left for the feast. He certainly liked this weapon. It already had saved his life once and, without any doubt, would do so again in the future.