Something akin to a chain clanged idly against the cell floor.
Clack. Clack. Clack.
It kept a steady rhythm, the only sound permeating the semi-darkness that shrouded the inner confines of the dungeon. Clack. "Cease that clatter, you have been at it for two hours now!" Came an agitated roar as a burly guard stepped into view, just past the enchanted bars forming the foremost wall of his confinement. He glared menacingly at the prisoner sitting within, his knuckles white from clenching his battle spear so hard. Masked by shadows, the agitator scarcely moved, and had he not been muzzled like some stupid beast, he would've quickly given the guard a retort. However, as his speech had been taken from him along with his freedom, he merely offered what could be called a cheeky smirk, though he wasn't sure his guard could see. Letting his hands settle in his lap, he folded his long fingers together, waiting for the imbecile to stop drilling holes into his skull with his poisonous leer. After what seemed like a millennia, the man retreated back to his post a few feet away, leaving the former prince to his own devices once more. Loki Laufeyson let his head fall back half an inch until it touched the cool stone walls and directed his fierce green eyes to the ceiling. Despite being shackled and unable to speak, he was still quite capable of causing a bit of mischief here and there, and certainly lived up to his godly name sake. Inhaling through the metal device spanning across his face, he let a minute slip by… And then two. When approximately five had passed, he lifted up his wrist, from which a heavy silver chain dangled, and let it drop to the floor again with yet another satisfying clank.
Time: it was the one thing that eluded him. How long had passed since his failed assault on the realm of mankind? How long had he been sitting – rotting – in his cell, with only his wounded pride to keep him company? Oh, sure, occasionally dearest Thor would stop by and grace him with his presence, but that only served to ignite his fiery hatred of the man.
Now was such a time.
He could hear footsteps approaching from somewhere down the corridor and easily recognized them as the bulky ones made by the boots of the to-be king. As they swept ever-closer, he didn't bother to open his eyes until the familiar barking of his guard rang through his ears. "You have a visitor." Letting his eyelids open slowly, he watched as the thing preventing his speech disappeared in a flurry of grey particles that faded in with the air around him. How crafty they were to devise a restraint that didn't need a guard to enter his cell and put himself at risk in order to take it off! His captors knew him far too well. Rubbing his mouth with one palm, he let a callous smirk tug at the corners of his mouth as he beheld the form of Thor standing directly before him.
However, something in the blonde's demeanor put Loki on guard even more than usual. He said nothing, which perhaps unsettled Loki more than anything he could have uttered. Instead, the lightning god simply gazed at his 'brother', and Loki easily discerned such a potent mixture of sympathy and stubborn affection in those hopeful blue eyes that it made him want to rip them from their sockets. To be pitied was disgusting. You did not pity kings and tyrants! You pitied the weak and the wretched; those without power and influence. He was not some lost soul in need of rescuing - he was a monster, and he deserved, DEMANDED, hatred and fear. Though above all else, he wanted respect – the very thing that had eluded him in the days of old when he had been housed in lies and ulterior motives. But, searching Thor's intense stare, he could discern NOTHING BUT THAT GODFORSAKEN PITY. And Loki would not rest until he saw it distorted into loathing, for Thor would regret every thought in his head that even possessed an ounce of the notion that he could be "saved".
"Blood stains my hands and yet you still dare to hope that I might be capable of redemption," He mused quietly, his voice barely a tepid murmur, though holding enough toxin to poison even the most thick-skinned soul. "I have met Redemption, 'o brother of mine. She merely laughed and spat in my face. Now only Contempt and Cruelty remain, but fret naught, for they are most kind mistresses." Loki shifted his weight, making to rise to his feet slowly, though his eyes never left the figure in front of him. A wolf-like grin spread across his face, only serving to illuminate his pale, hungry visage – and hungry he was indeed. He craved the words that would make Thor's spirit break and would not rest until he found them and drove them right into the man's heart. "Did it just slip your mind that it was I who brought ruin and discord to the realm you hold so dear…? How I killed your little Midgardians, as easily and thoughtlessly as a cat would a mouse?" He paused here, quickly filling the silence with a peal of cruel laughter as if he were telling a tale he found great humor in.
He stepped forwards as far as his prison would allow, until he was close enough to Thor that only a foot or so separated the two if one removed the bars. "If only I had thought to send my greetings to that woman you had been consorting with. Oh, yes, perhaps then you would not dare look at me with such hope. Perhaps if I relieved her shoulders of that disgusting head of hers, you might think differently. Is that what it will take? Hmm? Is it her blood that must be spilled to shake you out of your blaring stupidity?" His voice rose to a nasty snarl, as his frustration began to build. The blonde's face had remained strangely unmoved, as if no matter how much insanity Loki dredged up from the recesses of the darkest corners of his mind, it was still hurting him to bear witness to his cruelty. There was still none of the loathing that he so desperately sought.
Regaining his composure slightly, the lines on his face that had formed with his scowl vanished. A grin of such vicious brutality that it might make the more weak hearted cower came to reveal his teeth as his eyes glittered in the dull yellow light. "There is a storm coming Thor," He began, reaching forwards to grip the bars so quickly that it startled the other man in reeling back half an inch. "And it will rain fire and chaos on everything as you know i-"
The voice that dared bade him such a command did not belong to Thor, and as quickly as it came, Loki's smirk faded as he registered the stern soprano trill that came from neither his false brother nor his guards. No, it was distinctly female. It was light as a spring rain, and yet as commanding as a general leading his men to war…certainly a voice fit for a queen. Fit for a mother as well.
Stepping into view, her footsteps light, Frigga emerged by Thor's side, having been hovering just beyond Loki's line of sight the entire time. Her hand lingered on Thor's forearm a moment, so very frail-looking in comparison, before she gave him a nod. He cupped her hand a moment with his own before turning and striding out of sight, no lingering glance backwards. Silence now reigned.
Loki's eyes had grown wide, and for the first time in ten minutes, the words died in his mouth. He knew not what to say to the woman who had raised him and who had actually believed in him during his temporary ascension to the throne all those months ago. She had not visited him since his imprisonment, and he had pushed all thoughts of her to the back of his mind, dreading this very moment. But, truthfully, it was seldom he thought of her for it was so easy to forget that which was good when there was nothing but darkness surrounding him. But more than his shock was the immense feeling of guilt that ensued. She had surely heard every bitter word he'd spat at Thor, and the very thought was enough to bring a twinge of color to his face as embarrassment settled over him in a suffocating fashion.
If ever there was a judgment day, it was when the woman slowly turned towards him, affixing his lanky stature with such a stare that he could do nothing more than quickly avert his eyes to the floor. It did not stop there, however – he inadvertently lowered his head, completely unable to raise it to meet the woman's eyes. He had defiantly peered into the gazes of men as he ended their lives, and of terrible beasts that spat fire and oozed black sludge, and yet now he could not even meet a simple woman's.
Suddenly, something brushed against his cheeks, and he gave a terrible start, but found he could not jerk back as a pair of surprisingly warm hands gently gripped the sides of his face, holding him in place. He had not noticed the bars of his confinement dissipate just long enough to allow his 'mother' to step inside, before quickly re-appearing behind her, but as she slowly lifted his head, he now found himself nearly looking into the eyes he'd fought so desperately to avoid. Even then he looked sideways, up, down – anywhere but Frigga's face.
"Do you remember how when you were a child you would often awake in the middle of the night, plagued with night terrors, crying out in fear?" He could not tell what sort of emotions she wore on her face, but never had a voice both soothed and drove daggers into him at the same time as hers did now. She was dragging him, willingly or not, down a path of nostalgia, where he had dared not tread with Thor so many times before. "And I would sing to you, and sometimes even pretend to slay the beasts you thought were lurking just outside your window!" Though he still wouldn't let his stare stray near her face, he could tell she was smiling a bit at the memory, but her voice was growing progressively strained as tears began to mist her sight. "And now, do you know what the people of Asgard whisper? They say you have become a beast… That the thought of you is now what keeps children awake at night. And you know, with that filth you were uttering before, I nearly thought it to be true… LOOK AT ME LOKI, IF YOUR SHAME DOES NOT DISALLOW IT." Immediately he obeyed, again flinching from shock at the sudden forcefulness of her demand. She was as beautiful and goddess-like as he always remembered her, but there was an unmistakable air of misery that hung about her tear-stained eyes that betrayed her tumultuous sea of emotions.
She brushed a strand of his dirty black hair from his face with a caress so tender he found it ten times as painful as if she had struck him. Where he expected hostility, he found only a mother's compassion, which was so very different than the hatred he had been met with on earth. It was frightening and infuriating all at the same time, and damned be his tongue, he still could not successfully articulate a sentence worth a hog's spit. "I can see it in your face that you expect such cruelty from me. You crave it. Unkindness is easy to handle - love, however, is not…why do you stoop so? Stand up."Straightening himself slowly, he felt her hands never leave him. Still she insisted on touching him! For a moment he thought such a seemingly breakable woman would surely burst into flames if she continued to make contact with a being as dirty as he. She searched his eyes for a long moment, struggling for control over what she was feeling. How was one supposed to feel when their son had fallen from grace into an abyss of ruin and death? "I have thought long and hard for many nights, trying to find the words that could be uttered to take the venom from your ambitions. Do you know what that is like…? Clinging to the hope that I might say something that could restore your once gentle heart? Or, worse yet, that it was something I had done or uttered to help lead you to this despicable fate?"
"Do you hate me, mother?"
It was scarcely more than a soft whisper, but Loki had managed to say it. It possessed none of the darkness that had prevailed in his words at Thor, only a certain longing that she might say yes. It would make it so much easier to cast out the remaining fragments of his wretched humanity which were burdensome to him now as his heart threatened to tear itself to pieces in his chest.
Suddenly he felt himself being drawn forwards and down to the shorter woman's level, and all at once her lips were pressed to his forehead, in the way she would often kiss him when he had just began to doze across her lap as she read to him as a child. Only this time, he could feel the slightest bit of moisture against his clammy flesh, as the tears she'd cried for him a thousand times over since he had been arrested began to surface and made small marks in the dirt on his skin. A man had long replaced a boy, and a room filled with shadows took the place of the beautiful Asgardian orchards his mother once played with him in, but she was every bit as kind as he remembered her to be.
"I hate only the circumstances that have led to a mother gazing upon her son in chains, and nothing more." She replied, voice nearly cracking as she placed her forehead to his, wanting so desperately to remember a time before such evilness gripped her son.
It was in that moment that he almost succumbed. Suddenly, there was no darkness, or hatred. Thor was a mere distant memory, not even a thought in his mind. Suddenly, he wanted desperately to hide away in her beautiful red gown, to embrace her despite the chains around his wrists, to beg her forgiveness for his sins. He was sure she would give it, which is what scared him most of all.
But, grimacing heavily, he suddenly backed away as if cut by an invisible knife, wrenching himself from her embrace and nearly stumbling as he stepped away from her. He loved her more than anything…and that was his last remaining weakness. A certain blackness stole across his face, clouding his eyes as he straightened himself up, not wanting to give the appearance of cowering dog.
He loved her, and that was why he was going to free her from the burden of loving him.
"Then I will teach you to hate me, you miserable wretch." He forced the words out, and the expression of unbridled misery he found on his mother's face both ripped out his heart and brought him the grimmest sort of satisfaction he had ever known. "I do not see a mother looking at her son. I see a pathetic queen, scarcely worthy of her title, staring into the face of a monster. And you have yet to see my teeth, my dear." He took a quick step forwards, startling the woman into stepping back. "But you will - I promise you that. Send Odin my love, won't you? And tell him how you have looked on at the man who will rule you all soon. Very soon." A wicked smile again claimed him, and with some relief he allowed his madness to wash over his mind, to snuff out the pain he was causing himself by shutting down one of the only remaining people who would still shed tears for him.
Frigga made no movement, but Loki could see the tears now streaming down her face. He could bear the sight no longer. "LEAVE DAMN YOU! AND DON'T RETURN UNTIL RAGNORAK IS SNARLING AT YOUR DOORSTEP!" He roared with such intensity that it seemed to reverberate through the entire dungeon. In a flash Thor was in sight again, begging his mother to emerge from Loki's cage. But instead of fleeing, as Loki had so ardently banked on, she strode towards him, and before he could do anything, had wrapped her arms around him. "D-do you not understand me? When I am ruler of this pitiful realm, the first thing I will do is tear your throat out, and not think twice about it! I will paint the walls with your blood, I will – GET OFF OF ME!" He cried out in desperation, resorting to physically shoving her from her as her grip only tightened on him. Despite himself, he could feel his face growing hot, as he felt tears begin to collect in his eyes. This was surely the meaning of torture.
The bars of his cage immediately vanished again, just long enough for Thor to step inside and gently steady Frigga, before calmly leading her out again (though she was clearly reluctant to go). Before they vanished from sight, she turned to him, now a great deal more collected, but with rivulets of tears still marking her face. "Your words are wasted on this apparently daft queen. I pray you come swiftly to steal my life, then, because I will carry my hope with me to the grave. You are my son, and I will always love you, even if you were to drive a sword through my back." She said simply, and was led away down the hall.
Immediately Loki felt the familiar sting of steel as the muzzle re-materialized over his lips, but for once he was glad of it. It muffled his anguished snarls as he collapsed onto the floor, beating at the stone with his fists until his knuckles turned crimson. Running his hands viciously through his hair, he wanted to tear everything around him to pieces. Anger consumed him, but worse than that, was the sensation of defeat that accompanied it. What would it take for these people to realize he was beyond salvation? He would just have to kill them all then, and draw satisfaction from watching their gaze turn to hatred in their very last moments. Only more death would show them what he truly was.
Slinking back into the farthest most corner of his dank abode, Loki propped himself up against the wall, reaching up with one bloodied hand to wipe away the clear liquid that had, unbeknownst to him, began to stream down his face. His greatest enemy would always bear a name that tasted foul on his tongue…