Before you start reading, I feel I have to adress some of the things in my story. This fic will contain Wiccans (witches), and detail various tidbits of lore and magick. I myself am a Wiccan and felt including these sorts of characters in this story would make it interesting. However, as it's also in the Marvel universe a lot of what's in the story is fantastical and quite frankly, made up. When in Rome and all that. So really, I just want to say in advance, if there's anything in this story that offends anyone, I apologise very sincerely now. I've tried to treat things with respect but well, also write a half decent fic too. That said, I hope anyone who does read this enjoys it. And if anyone feels kid enough to review, it would be very much appreciated :) Thanks very much.
Puente Antiguo is not a place where you would expect oddities. At least, not until a couple of years ago. Until then it had been a dry dust ball of a place, simply pottering along in the New Mexican breeze, largely unremarkable and unnoticed. It's single town had a population of less than two thousand and was more a pitstop for truckers than anything else. The most exciting thing that generally happened was the annual chill cook-off.
That was until the terrorist attack. That's what the media had labelled it. Seemingly impossible for such an indescript place but none the less, in minutes half the town had been blown to smithereens.
The government had hushed things up as much as they could, but stories flew of metal suited giants and cannons of fire. For a while Stark took a lot of flack. People seemed to think he had gone rogue.
But eventually Puente Antiguo had rebuilt itself, rising like a small, industrial termite mound from the desert sand and life carried on in a remarkably similar fashion as it always had. Southern people are resilient. When disaster strikes people do what they always did, only more so.
And so the night of the storm never raised so much as an eyebrow amongst the town's population, even with the light show it brought with it. Only a handful of people, outsiders even by the desert's standards, gave it any credence. And only one chose to leave the shelter of her wind-bitten home and follow the alien looking aurora borealis that stained the sky violet.
"Father, I beg of you, reconsider!"
In golden halls of ancient beings, two broad pillars of men stood arguing, incandescent light shimmering off of skin and velvet robes, armour contouring muscles that spoke of physical prowess no mortal man possessed.
"You dare question my judgement? I am your King! My command is law!" The elder of the two roared in rage and something else, some hidden wound beneath the anger. His one eye glimmering intensely, he glared at Thor, his son, and the Thunder God swore he could feel the other empty socket glaring at him, burning into him.
"Father, if you do this, what love do you show him? You speak of him as your son still but you would condemn him to weakness and danger in a foreign realm? Better he remain with his people, with us, imprisoned yes, but secure. We should be helping him!"
As the two behemoths roared, a smaller, lither figure knelt between them, muzzled like a dog. His mind was far removed from the conversation, flesh prickling with scorn. These two, who played the pretence of family, would condemn him either way. He was no longer of use to anyone. He had no place, no purpose. He could not even summon the energy to be concerned for his life. What did it matter if it was taken from him? He could not see it as being any loss, even to himself…
"He cannot be allowed to remain in Asgard, his trickery knows no bounds. He will find some other way to bring danger to our people. On Midgard he will be contained, powerless."
"He will be abandoned!" Thor's voice was cavernous in the hall, causing the floor to vibrate.
"I have loved you both equally, but this has been rebuked. Loki will learn, as you did, perhaps become something better."
Well. Look at that. Even when being penalised it was in Thor's shadow…
Clambering up an outcrop of sandy rock, bare feet searching for footholds, she pressed her body flat to garner some shelter from the wind. Sand bit her cheeks and lips as it tore through the air. Bringing her forearm to her brow in an attempt to protect her eyes, she leant further forwards to gaze out across the desert plateau and into the heavens. The ground was being torn up by a twister, the sky low and broiling. She should move. She should move…
And then the clouds broke, revealing what could only be described as a view of the heavens. Forked lightning shot across the sky in webs of blue and violet, tearing the atmosphere and revealing swimming aurora, like nebulas almost within reach of outstretched fingertips. Fluid light of impossible colour scudded over, the air slick with it like an oil spill, making the world hum. There was no rain but the sonic booms of thunderclaps vibrated her bones and in that moment she was sure she could feel the whole of existence. Scrabbling to her feet she stood at the peak of the stones, throwing her hands skyward. She wanted to embrace this moment, when she could feel the Lord and Lady saturating the very air. Fingers of static plucked at the ebony tresses of her hair, the moment was culminating and she knew it would be over all too soon. She took a deep breath, wanting Their blessing before the storm died.
The air shifted suddenly, the smell of electricity and dust filling her nostrils. Without any warning the wind dropped and for a moment she panicked, thinking she was in they eye of the storm. But something had killed it. Taking a deep breath she peered up, the sudden quiet and stillness eerie. The lights were just… Gone. Just desert silence once more, endless vast quiet. It was as though there had been no storm at all.
Sitting heavily she pulled her old tan duffel coat around herself tightly, taking a slow, meaningful breath. Adrenaline coursed through her still, her heart dancing in her chest. If she had not seen it she'd never of believed there'd been such a violent, exquisite event of nature. She had felt something and seen skies she'd never seen, nor did she think she'd see them again. Something had happened. She was sat on this stone for a reason.
Picking grit from her eyelashes, she gave a silent prayer of thanks and after waiting a couple of minutes for her legs to steady, she stood back up, ready to return to the old, beaten up, powder blue pick up truck she'd driven over.
As she stretched out her muscles though, her eyes fell on something in the valley below and she uttered an involuntary,
The silence was oppressive as the guards removed Loki's armour and robes. As he stood before his once family, they tentatively undid the muzzle and drew back hurriedly, as though he might bite them. Thor skulked at the rear of the chamber like a sulking child as the All Father took a few steps forwards, his spear in hand. Regarding Loki in silence for a moment, he touched the golden tip to his chest, the metal cold through his thin shirt. Odin looked resigned, ancient and tired of this life.
"Loki, Prince of Asgard, for your crimes I have deemed it fit you be banished from this place. You shall have no power, no return, you will walk upon Midgard as a mortal where you can do no more damage." The King's voice was resolute but his face looked haggard as the spear began to glow, streams of blue light being drawn from Loki's chest and a portal twisted into being behind him. It was the first moment he felt something akin to fear and looking up at Thor he had one last glimpse of the Thunder God's torn expression before he was vaulted back into an abyss between realms.
Bare feet pounding on the dry lakebed of the desert floor, chest burning as lungs grappled with freezing night air, she closed the gap between herself and the crumpled shape, an island in a barren sea. As she reached the figure she dropped to her knees beside him, tearing off her coat. With a grunt of effort she rolled him onto his back and felt her breath stick in her throat. He was as pale as bleached linen and unconscious. Throwing the coat over him she lowered her head near to his. A feeble breath stroked her cheek. He was still alive, if only barely.
Panic rising in her chest, she prayed aloud for strength as she dragged him up, arm strewn over her shoulder, she staggered to her feet. There wasn't time to drive back and get help, he might die from the cold before she returned. And so she struggled back to the truck with him, each step a mile.
Finally she got him back to the old Chevy and laid him across the seat, whole body aching. From the small overhead light in the cab she saw his face was peppered with bruises and cuts, some of them fresh. Pulling out a woollen blanket from the back of the truck, she tucked it around him tightly before squeezing into the driver's seat. Resting what she hoped would register as a comforting hand on his forehead she revved the clunking engine into life, spinning up reams of dirt as she sped through the night.
Grayson Phillips was awoken by someone hammering on his door. Wiping away the dregs of sleep from his eyes, he glanced at the clock beside his bed. 2.49 am glared back at him in neon green.
"Son of a…" The man dragged himself out of the bed, coughing a couple of times. While old he was not generally cantankerous, but being dragged up in the middle of the night wasn't his idea of a good time.
The banging was growing louder, accompanied by a voice:
"Gray! Gray, help me!"
This got him moving. With surprising speed for a man in his seventies he sprang to the door of his R.V, throwing it open to see a young woman looking pale and frightened in the dull glow of his mosquito trap.
"Jesus Maeve," he said hoarsely, "what's going on?"
"I need your help," she replied breathlessly. "Quickly, over here."
She ran to her truck, pulling the passenger door open. The cab light flooded the Chevy, showing a crumpled form inside.
"Help me get him inside, quick, quick, he's hurt."
She was already running to her own mobile home, fumbling with her keys and tugging the door open. Grayson ducked to look in the truck, scowling as he said,
"Maeve, baby, this guy looks like he needs a hospital…"
"Nah uh, the nearest one isn't for forty miles," she called. "Come on, I think he's in shock, get him in!"
By now the commotion was attracting the attention of others in the caravan convoy that they were in. Doors of brightly painted vans were opening, wind chimes clinking as curious heads poked out of slim doorways. Frowning, Grayson heaved the stray over his shoulder and into Maeve's van. Inside she was pulling the covers back on her narrow bed, a kettle hissing on the gas hob.
"Lay him down there, that's it."
Obediently he did so, peering at the man scrutinizingly. He wasn't entirely sure he was actually alive. Behind him the girl was digging through cupboards, pulling out jars, first aid kit, a bowl. She decanted some hot water then gathered all the things together at the end of the bed, rolling up her shirt sleeves. Then she turned to usher Grayson out of the door, much to his protest.
"Baby girl, I don't think you should be doin' this. Somethin' don't sit right."
"It's fine," she replied, voice half a whisper, adrenaline making her eyes shine. "He needs help. You're just next door, if I need you, I'll yell."
"You better," the old man said with a frown. "I'll bring the bat."
"Don't you dare." She gave him a smile before shutting the door in his face. Swearing to himself, he headed back to bed amid curious whispers as the others stared at the girl's door.
Inside she was setting about her work with expert efficiency. Cutting her patient's shirt open with a mumbled apology, she saw deep purple bruising on his abdomen and cursed. Palpating carefully she found one cracked rib, then two. Silently wondering just how he'd got to this point, she flicked on a gas heater and opened up the first aid kit, digging about for some chemical icepacks which she snapped to get them going. Half clambering onto the bed she held them to his bruises until they were melted, then slowly bandaged his torso, not too tight, biting her lip as she realised he didn't even flinch. He really was gone deep…