It dawned fair and clear, the day they sewed Loki's lips shut. Curiosity and ill-will made it into a spectacle: a prince of Odin, a traitor and genocidal megalomaniac, humbled before Hliðskjálf. It was the event not to be missed.

So it was the throne room was full to bursting as the Þing met to declare the prince's fate. The crowd of onlookers overflowed the aisles, pouring out between the columns into the plaza beyond—a veritable sea of greedy eyes eager for a show. The prince came quietly enough, by all reports, and it was true: there was no mewling or cowering. He strode to meet his father with his head held high and no sign of fear upon his face.

Had he been better-liked this might have endeared him to his people. Had he the boisterous, effulgent disposition of his brother—but Loki had been distant before his crimes and subsequent disappearance, and now he was as untouchable as Ragnarök, and just as sinister. The look of the wild man hung about him, in the untamed length of his hair, in the wear showed upon his armor, in the fey gleam in his eye.

The people stared at him, then looked to Thor, Asgard's Golden Son, and it was as looking from night to day.

He was brought before the dais, and the Allfather declared in solemn tones his younger son's fate. "Loki Odinson, who is our second-born and no less loved for it, you have betrayed the expectations placed on you as our regent. In your short-sightedness you conspired with our ancient enemies the Jötunns and led them into the very heart of Asgard. You betrayed our trust, and worse, you betrayed that of your allies, fomenting war between our peoples. You have committed regicide, patricide—" there was a ripple of confusion in the crowd at this, for Odin was plainly alive and hale, "—and have attempted genocide and suicide. In your fall you conspired with the dregs of the universe to subjugate all the realms of Yggdrasil, starting with Midgard. We will not relay the crimes you committed on Midgardian soil, save to say they are numerous.

"Our son, we are displeased and disappointed. You are called Silvertongue, for your gift with words is well known; as punishment for your acts, we therefore decree your lips shall be sewn shut for a period of no less than three months, in hopes that you will no longer spread lies and deceit. All artifacts of power in your possession will be confiscated; your magic will be bound until such time as we deem you fit to bear it once more. You will be confined to your chambers unless escorted by armed guard. If you endure this punishment with the dignity befitting our line we will consider your honor restored; until then, you are bound." He struck the butt of Gungnir three times against the flags, the sound echoing through the hall like the Norns themselves had knocked for entry. The men of the guard stepped up to obey.

They stripped Loki of his armor. The helmet first, then the vambraces, pauldron and breastplates. His surcoat followed, and Loki was left standing in his tunic before the censure of his nation. What bulk his regalia had afforded him was whittled away, and all that remained was a pale shadow, slender and sharp as a blade.

The guards stepped forward again, and this time they offered Loki a flask. It was the Draught of Strength, brewed from Idunn's apples, and it would tide the prince over the long months of fasting. Loki drank deeply, and returned the flask. His cheeks flushed with vigor.

Then the guards fell back, and the executioner took their place. He was called Brokkr, and he was a small man, kind of temperament and face for all that he dispensed with Odin's will. He set aside a table with the instruments of his duty spread upon it. They gleamed in the golden light of Glaðsheimr. His hands were gentle as he bid Loki kneel and bend back over his knee.

Loki made no noise as the awl pierced his flesh. He neither shied from the pain nor wept; even when the holes were drawn tight with thread he was silent. He stared at the open ceiling to the sky beyond, face in a blank mask, and the only sign he gave of discomfort was the clench of his fists in his his trousers, his grip so tight the knuckles went white.

Soon Brokkr's work was done, and he eased the Son of Odin upright. He stood and gathered his instruments, and he withdrew from the floor.

Loki knelt before his father's throne. His eyes were glassy and his expression stony. Trickles of blood glistened like Fire Giant warpaint on his skin, sketching the lines of a skull's teeth around his ruined mouth. He swallowed heavily, and his eyes flickered up to his family. Odin had aged in the execution, his face creased deeply in his sorrow, and his mother had averted her eyes. Thor cried openly, tears slipping down uncharacteristically pale cheeks to hide in his beard. Loki made to sneer, but the stitches held and he ducked his head to hide his flash of pain.

Odin spoke. "Loki Odinson, who stands condemned of dishonoring his family and betraying our trust, we bind your magic." He raised his hand, palm out, to his son. "You shall not practice seiðr-craft until we deem you worthy of its responsibility, and can be trusted with its use." He clenched his hand into a fist. Loki lurched as though struck, and his eyes grew wide in shock. Later, it would be whispered in taverns over stout Asgardian ale that, of the Traitor-Prince's punishment, perhaps this part was the most cruel.

The Allfather struck the flags once more. "This Diar-Þing is concluded." He turned and strode out, the saturated maroon of his cape stealing sunlight as it billowed in his wake. The murmur of conversation rose with his leave-taking, and it echoed off the ceiling until it was a muted roar. There had been enough grist today to feed the gossip mill for weeks; already speculation flew.

In the press of staring eyes and exiting bodies, a guard helped Loki to his feet. The prince stumbled, but shook the guard's hand from his arm. It was he who led the way to his chambers, shoulders set and eyes dark, and those onlookers in his path shivered at what they saw.