Disclaimer

I don't own Loki, Thor, Odin or any other Marvel character. I only own the original characters involved in the story, such as Alexandra (Alex) Moore and Richard (Dick) Norman.

Prologue

Motto:

"Outcasts, callused from being in exile for too long, learn to thrive on being the hated; the attention and infamy of our actions fuel us to become antiheroes. Too often do we forget: we risk self-destruction if we fail to follow what we know is right; our talents too often become misplaced, misdirected, misguided from what could have been something wonderful."

Mike Norton, Fighting For Redemption: Hangambiiki

I

It took the Aesirs a thousand years and a muzzle to understand what Loki always felt to be true. He is not their prince. He never was. He was no more than a stolen relic, a political weapon in the clever hands of the All Father. By bringing him back in chains, they made that very clear.

At least the streets are almost empty at this time of day and not many curious eyes are watching as Thor drags him along to the palace. The glances of the few passers-by pierce through him like darts. He ignores them and continues his humiliating march. Fists clenched, Thor walks next to him, his gaze fixed straight ahead. He sure doesn't look like he enjoys the kind of attention they're getting. It's hilarious, really. Thor has the hammer and could use it to fly them both to the palace, but he won't do it for fear of hurting him even further.

Oh, Thor! He has always been such a sentimental fool.

If the green monster didn't break him, with all his insane strength, the inconveniences of a short hammer-flight are not likely to do the trick. His broken ribs would probably scream in agony, but the pain is still a better alternative to public humiliation. If only he could tell that to Thor, but the damn muzzle presses hard against his lips, preventing him from voicing his thoughts.

On the stairs they meet Sif and, if she's surprised to see him in chains, her composure betrays nothing of the kind. She sets her fist on her chest in an Asgardian salute and bows before Thor, sparing only a quick glance at him. Her eyes are unreadable.

"My prince, your father is waiting for you in the throne hall," she says. "Your mother is there as well."

Frigga! His stomach drops to his toes. What did he expect? That she won't be there, among his inquisitors? The last time they met, Thor told her how he sent the Destroyer to kill him and his friends. The look she gave him back then told him more than he wanted to know. He was never again to feel the complete and unconditional love of the woman who raised him.

The door of the throne hall opens in front of him, creaking melodramatically on its hinges. Loki stops and turns to Thor, trying to catch his eyes. His brother – no, not his brother. Thor. – ignores him. He takes a deep breath and walks inside.

Frigga stands on the stairs in front of the throne, but he doesn't look her way. Her eyes might just look back at him with the same disdain he sees in those of the Warriors Three. Other than the royal family, they are the only witnesses at his trial.

Freeing himself from Thor's hand, he covers alone the distance that separates him from the stairs. From the height of his throne, the All Father's good eye follows him as he walks across the hall. There is no mercy in his sight, and no sympathy.

"Brother, kneel in front of the All Father," Thor whispers in his ear. The plea in his voice is revolting. Loki doesn't even spare him a look. He doesn't deserve any. "Defying father will gain you nothing. Please, brother..."

An insanely strong hand pushes him down to his knees. Loki falls hard and hisses in pain. Damn Thor and his stubbornness! He clenches his fists and fights against the crushing weight that forces him to stay down.

The sound of familiar steps approaching him makes his heart skip a beat. Frigga! What is she doing? Doesn't she know what he did? Doesn't she know who he is?

"Thor, that's enough," she says. "Leave your brother alone."

He looks up at his mother and there is no hate in her eyes, no anger and no accusation. An immense wave of gratitude washes over him as she helps him up and pulls him into in a warm, silent embrace. Swallowing hard, he wraps his arms around her and presses his face into her hair.

"Loki, my precious child," she murmurs. "How cruel of you to let me think you were dead!" She pulls back only enough for their eyes to meet, wipes the hair out of his face and kisses his forehead. Her lips, warm and soft against his skin, remind him of all the times she offered him comfort after his quarrels with Thor.

"My Lady, I think that's enough," Odin says and he's just in time to spare him the humiliation of crying in front of them all. She doesn't move, so he pulls her away and silently calls his brother for help. Frigga's beautiful, deep eyes are clouded with grief as Thor escorts her back to her place on the stairs.

There are so many unspoken words between them, and they all taste like goodbye.

It tears him apart.

The All Father clears his throat. Focus, damn it!

"Loki, my son," Odin says, abruptly. "I am not sure you understand how serious the accusations against you are. I shall remove your mask now, but you shall only speak when I give you permission. Do you understand?"

The temptation to ignore him is strong, but its' nothing compared to the wish of getting rid of the damned muzzle. Aside from bruising his lips, it emits some sort of energy that prevents him from touching the source of the True Power. The absence of magic burns his insides, as the All Father probably knows. Without magic, he's nothing but a shadow of his own self.

Clenching his fists, Loki nods in acceptance.

With a flick of the All Father's hand the muzzle is gone and Loki sucks on his swollen bleeding lips as gently as he can, without soothing the sting. He risks a quick glance at Frigga, and for a split second their eyes lock in silent understanding. She is still troubled - her face betrays her - but at least she has stopped crying and looks pleased with Odin's decision.

She will surely hate every minute of what is going to follow. His eyes turn to Odin, who has stood up from his throne. The All Father starts climbing down the stairs with his sceptre in hand.

"My son-"

"I am not your son!" Loki spits. "I never was."

The next second, the Warriors Three have their weapons in hands and Thor makes a step toward him. His eyes unwavering, the All Father continues to climb down the stairs. Would he even stand a chance in a fight against him?

"You are not my blood, Loki, but you are still my son. I will not allow you to cause your mother any more grief with your foolish words!"

"You leave mother out of this!" Marvelous. He's being manipulated and yet he's responding to it. "This was never about her. It was always about you being a thief and a liar and I will not-"

"Silence!"

And here it is. Odin's perfect answer to all accusations. He never listened to him, never had time to hear what his so-called son might have to say. Nothing has changed. Not really.

Right in front of him, the All Father talks about peace and crimes and duty. He'd better stay focused. If nothing else, such lectures have always amused him.

"You endangered a peaceful realm such as Midgard," Odin is just saying.

Really? Does he even hear himself? Who is the liar now?

"Oh, that's right. Peaceful. Humans are slaughtering each other for centuries now and you-"

"I did not allow you to speak, you foolish boy! They are by no means prepared for the kind of war you brought to their gates!" Odin cuts.

"They seemed pretty well prepared for me." His voice drips with sarcasm.

The look on Thor's face is just priceless. "Loki, please! Listen to father!" he shouts. There's so much pain, so much desperation in his voice.

Loki allows himself a half smile.

"I will do no such thing." His words seem to cause a stir among the Warriors Three. One step away from him, Thor looks like he has just swallowed a swarm of bees.

The All Father, however, doesn't beat an eyelash. As always, his utter indifference makes his insides boil.

"You have no right to judge the king of the Jotuns!" he snaps. The words leave a foul taste in his mouth, but that's the truth. With Laufey dead, he is the legitimate king of that dead, frozen realm. Loki Laufeyson, the king of the monsters.

It's true and it's sickening and it's too late to take his words back.

The pain in his ribs returns with a vengeance as he straightens his posture. He takes a few painful, slow breaths before he lifts his chin and looks the All Father dead in the eye. The silence is deafening.

"Kingdoms are ruled by men, son. I see only one man in this room, and that is not you," Odin says. "You are a cruel child, Loki, just like your brother was, and I carry the blame for spoiling you both. Despite what I taught you, you know nothing about ruling, let alone about the mercy and modesty a king must show to his people."

Oh, this is ridiculous! Loki opens his mouth to protest.

"That's enough!" Odin shouts. "Do you have anything to say in your defense, boy?"

"I am no boy, father," he says, spitting the last word. It burns his tongue like poison. "And I am a king, just like you are. I have no reason to justify my actions to you."

"Loki Odinson, is this your final word?" Odin asks.

"It is. I will listen to you no longer," he replies, forcing his face into an expressionless mask.

No regret on the All Father's face? Nothing? A long sigh escapes his lips. Were things otherwise, he might have even fallen at his feet, begging for his forgiveness.

"I see," Odin says, flatly. He raises his sceptre and points it directly at his chest.

"Loki Odinson! For your crimes against the people of Midgard and your own family, I take from you your magic!"

Loki's heart skips a beat.

He is to be cut off from the source of the True Power? He will no longer be able to channel the energy flow of the Universe? There is no worse punishment for a sorcerer. In all history, no one survived it for more than a year or so.

"No! Father, please-" Thor shouts.

The blast of light hits his chest and fangs of fire gnaw his insides. Instinctively, his eyes snap back to his mother, but she's not in the room anymore. When did she leave? Oh, it doesn't matter. It's good. It's good that she left. This way, she won't have to see him like this. She won't have to see her younger child being punished to death.

Loki falls back to his knees. He closes his eyes shut and tries to touch the energy of the nearest object. He fails. It's like a wall has been placed between him and the source. The feeling of loss digs deep into his soul.

He looks up at the All Father, treacherous tears burning his eyes. "Why don't you just kill me?" he pleads. "Why wait?"

No answer. Odin raises his sceptre once more.

"Son, you are to return to Midgard and redeem yourself in the eyes of those whom you've wronged," he says. "This is the right thing to do, and so shall be done! In the name of my father, and his father before, I, Odin, the All Father, cast you out!"

The throne hall disappears into a burst of white light. When his vision returns, Loki is crossing the Universe at millions of light-years per second.

He's falling.

\\\~+~/

Author's Notes:

I.

My readers are probably starting to get used with me changing the story and re-writing scenes or entire chapters every 2 weeks. I sincerely apologize for abusing your patience like this.

During the last few weeks, I grew up a lot as a writer. When I started to write this story, my English vocabulary was very limited. As a result, I tried to express my ideas in clear and simple terms, failing to present the psychological conflicts of the characters and their internal struggles. I am yet far from perfection, but I honestly believe I improved a lot.

For those who prefer the first version of the prologue, it can still be found on my profile page.

II.

Inspiration sources:

I must admit from the start that, in writing this prologue, I used several sources of inspiration, respectively:

1. Robert Jordan – "Wheel of Time",for Loki's magic (as explained below);

2. Epiphanyx7 – "Silvertongue", for Loki's relationship with his mother. Epiphanyx7 is one of the most talented fan fiction writers I've ever seen. I can only hope that one day I'll become half as good as she is.

3. Thor, the movie, for some parts of Odin's speech. I didn't even realize I used this source before Cosmopop mentioned that I practically quoted from the movie. Of course that I changed that particular phrase, but the similarity is still there.

III.

Loki's magic:

About Loki's magic, here is my explanation:

Every object and creature in the universe emits a different energy pattern. Some of these energy signatures (respectively, the energies of the living creatures) are more consistent than the others, but, in the end, they are all connected in an enormous energy network. Together, they form the True Power – the primordial energy of the Universe.

The sorcerers can feel the energy signatures of all the creatures and objects in creation and can make contact with them. When they do that, they feel the primordial energy flowing through their beings like electricity, connecting them to the very heart of the Universe, making them part of it.

Basically, all that the sorcerer has to do in order to perform magic is to connect his own energy to the energy of another object and make it obey his orders.

Also, when the sorcerer connects himself to the energy of a living being, he can feel its feelings and experience its emotions. Attention, he cannot "read thoughts".

Now - and here is Robert Jordan's contribution to my concept – if the sorcerer is cut off from the source of the True Power, he continues to feel the energy of the objects / creatures around, but he can never make contact with them again. It's like placing a wall between his energy and the others. The sorcerer will constantly feel a burning need to touch and channel the energy, and such need ends up by killing the sorcerer, who loses his will to live.

I hope my explanation was not too confusing. If it was, please tell me so I can clarify my idea.

IV.

Special Thanks:

To Cosmopop, for all her feed-back and support. Without her help, this chapter would not flow as well as it does now.

To The Disappeared - if it wasn't for her review, I would have never realized what I have to improve and how to do that.

Also, many thanks to Lauren Wright, KDHeart, Nyx and Amarantha.

Least, but not last, thank you all for helping me with your wonderful reviews. You gave me the strength and confidence I needed to work harder and to improve my vocabulary, my style and my story.

V.

Playlist:

For the readers who don't know what this is all about, I decided to post for every chapter a small list of songs which kind of fit with the story line. As you can notice, most of the songs from the current playlist refer to Loki's relationship with his mother.

1. Bon Jovi – Thank You for Loving Me

2. Celine Dion - Goodbye's the Saddest Word

3. Enigma – Gravity of Love

4. Jennifer Rush – Unwanted Child

5. Edvin Marton – Godfather

6. Indica – Children of Frost