Part the First: The Recluse

I.

On the edge of Republic City, near the base of the mountains that separated this haven of one million souls from the rest of the Earth Kingdom, lived a Recluse. His home-well, it would be kind to call such a collection of sticks and twine a home-had been transformed into a 20-foot by 20-foot work station. Walls were covered in maps, astrological charts, weather forecasts and newspaper clippings.

The man, surely no older than his mid-30s, hunched over a book, trying to teach himself the one Language. It was familiar enough to him, he muttered that it was remarkably similar to Mandarin Chinese.

His clothes were strange, nothing like it existed in the world: thick, blue-cotton pants, faded slightly at the knees, with pieces of brass; leather shoes with a wide cut and square toe; and a black long-sleeved shirt that clung scandalously close to his body.

The strangest quality of the Recluse, other than his inability to speak the one Language, was the disk that glowed a pale blue from his chest, as if animated by the spirits themselves.

Sometimes, the neighborhood children heard wretched cries, of what sounded like a wounded animal, crying out to the heavens-"LOKI!"

But since neither they nor their parents knew what that meant, they shuffled the children back inside for dinner, eying the hut with equal parts curiosity and worry.


II.

The Recluse, as stated, was no older than his mid-thirties. If his cries into the night were frightening, than surely his looks were down right heart-stopping.

His skin was bizarre, paler than a firebender's. His eyes wide like almonds and colored dark like an earthbender's. His nose was long and straight and pinched into an ugly point. His face looked squished and his cheekbones were far too prominent.

He stood of average height and of decent stature, lithe like a probender. If he went out, which was a rare sight indeed, rarer than an Earth Kingdom bear, he made careful considerations to keep the glowing on his chest hidden from sight.

"By the Spirits," a woman said, clutching her charmed necklace.

The Recluse walked through the city with his shoulders hunched and eyes trained on the ground, as if he was carrying something heavy, had lost a parcel of it and was looking for it. He didn't even find probending to be an entertaining past time. In fact, the first time he saw a firebender, he said, "Holy fucking Christ" and dashed back into his hut to conduct more research.


III.

By the time the leaves began changing, the Recluse had been seen on ten different occasions. His expression drifted between two emotions: a loss so deep, many could not identify it as sadness, but instead as bitterness; and furrowed eyebrows in puzzlement.

It was on this day, the fifteenth of Koh's month, October if you're more familiar with it, that the Recluse's demeanor changed into something else entirely. He had tripped and stumbled into the very large window of Future Industries' automobile shop. There was a flier, which he read as clumsily as a newborn mooselion walks, and his dark eyes lit up. He folded it carefully in quarters, tucked it into his pocket and left for his hut.

It was a flier for Mr. Sato's The Future is Today Technology Expo, to be held in three months' time.


IV.

Hovering between here, Dìqiú, and a planet also called Earth was a place called Asgard. It was a realm, one of six remaining, of royal courts, lightening hammers and quarrelsome green-eyed brothers.

"What do you plan to gain from this, Brother?" the golden haired one asked, his arms crossed and glare almost lethal.

That same glint of trouble sparked in the other's eye and a smirk graced his lips. "Oh, Thor, 'tis only a spot of mischief. Let us see if this 'Iron Man' is truly as clever as his reputation states."


Notes: "Dìqiú" is...what Google Translate tells me, "Chinese (Traditional)" for Earth. Hopefully that will be the last time we have to look at any kind of Google translation.

This spot of madness takes place between "Iron Man" and "Thor." I hope you enjoyed it. Hopefully the next parts (4 at the most...I hope) will be about this length. My understanding of the Marvel Universe is exclusive to the movies and I am so, so sorry about that. Please let me know if the characterizations are botched beyond all recognition.