The entire realm was in an uproar.
Loki Laufeyson, the adopted younger son of Odin, had attempted to rule Midgard, slaughtering hundreds of Midgardians in the process. It was a topic that refused to die down, but no Asgardian dared speak of it within earshot of the royal family.
Down in the dungeons, Loki was heavily guarded, but anyone who bothered to look into his cell would have seen that the God of Mischief was not his usual self.
Defeated and sick with worry over his wife and child, Loki had not the time to pull any tricks or pranks, nor did he have the stomach for it. He spent his days in quiet solitude, and the guards soon wondered what was wrong with him.
Loki may have looked passive on the outside, but his mind was buzzing with thoughts. His powers were bound, which meant that he could not use his usual methods to escape. His guards were there all day and all night; replacements went directly outside his cell instead of waiting outside the dungeon, as was the normal practice, and it was said that Odin had ordered his ravens to keep a constant watch on Loki's cell.
They do not understand, Loki thought furiously, his eyes snapping to the backs of the guards. I need to find my wife!
But Loki was aware that if he showed any signs of aggression, his security would be tightened even more. While his current situation seemed hopeless, Loki was positive that he could find a way out of his predicament.
He had no other choice.
Nobody even bothered to give him news of Sigyn's whereabouts, not even Thor. Loki found Thor's silence on Sigyn's absence infuriating; it was as if his "brother" did not care for Sigyn's welfare.
Or perhaps he knows what happened to her, Loki thought with a jolt. He knows what happened to Sigyn in Midgard, and he refuses to tell me.
Loki shook the abhorrent thought from his mind. No, Sigyn was not dead. She couldn't be. Loki refused to even consider the possibility, but it soon begun to gnaw at his thoughts.
Two days after Loki and Thor's return to Asgard, Frigga visited her younger son.
"Loki," Frigga said softly, reaching out to him. "My son."
"Mother." The word was forced, but Frigga ignored it. "How good of you to come."
"I wanted to see you earlier, Loki," Frigga said, her maternal instincts kicking in. "But the All-Father told me to wait. Loki…Loki where is Sigyn? We have not seen her since before Thor left for Midgard."
Loki's hands shook, and he clasped these behind him so that Frigga wouldn't see. "I do not know, Mother. I haven't seen her since I fell from the Bifrost."
A tear slipped from Frigga's eye, and Loki felt a pang of guilt, which he pushed back. "Oh my poor son. Loki, Sigyn is pregnant."
Loki blinked, playing the part of a surprised husband to the hilt. "Pregnant?"
Frigga nodded. "She was going to tell you, but then you fell. Perhaps she has gone away, thinking that you would never return."
"And the All-Father has done nothing to locate her?" Loki asked, incensed. Was Odin's hatred of him extended to his family as well?
"Your father did all that he could," Frigga answered. "But even Freya and Iwaldi did not know where she was."
Loki saw his chance and seized it. "Mother, please. Help me get out of this cell. I must find her – her and my child."
Frigga hesitated. Before she could say anything else, Odin stepped into the dungeon. Loki pulled away from Frigga, trying hard not to let his hatred and distaste show in his expression.
"You will do nothing of the kind," Odin exclaimed, ignoring Frigga's pleading glance. "We will locate Sigyn soon enough, and I am certain the two of you will have a very happy reunion. But in the meantime, you will face your judgment."
Odin didn't bother to wait for Loki or Frigga to reply; instead, he swept out of the dungeon, accompanied by a raven, which settled on his shoulder.
Frigga wiped her tears and stood up. "Be brave, my son. I will do what I can." And she too, left Loki. The doors to the dungeon clanged shut, and Loki was alone.
Thor paced his chambers, his red cape sweeping the floor. Sif and Fandral were in the room with him, and they both looked pensive.
"Cease your pacing, my friend," Fandral finally said, stroking his chin. "Loki will face the full might of Asgardian justice in a few hours' time."
Sif nudged Fandral, who realized that he may have said the wrong thing.
"That is, of course, what you wanted, is it not?" Fandral added quickly.
"No," Thor growled, his feet thundering against the marble floor. "I just wanted my brother home. But his crimes…his actions…he asked for war!"
"And he has lost," Sif pointed out. "What is it that agitates you so?"
Thor remained silent. He hadn't told anyone of Sigyn's involvement in Loki's crimes, and he wondered if he should. Even now, Thor couldn't believe that someone as pure and innocent as Sigyn could help kill hundreds of people.
She loves him too much, Thor thought with sadness. Again, Thor remembered the brave young girl whom he and Loki had accompanied to the Bifrost all those years ago, when she was to be sent to Jotunheim to be Laufey's ward.
It was her unflinching devotion and loyalty as an Asgardian that had led her to become the Goddess of Fidelity, and the only person who could possibly control Loki.
Now she was gone, and Thor could see how much her absence affected his brother.
But Loki has to face the consequences of his actions, Thor decided. No matter how much it pains me.
Loki was shackled, bound, and led to the main hall. Most of Asgard had gathered in and around the palace, while a select few had been admitted inside the hall itself.
Loki was marched through the crowds and down the hall. All the while he maintained a passive expression, and most of the people who saw him said that he looked unconcerned, even bored.
Odin, Frigga, and Thor were standing on the dais, the former's eyes narrowing as he saw Loki being led into the hall. Frigga and Thor, on the other hand, looked from the All-Father to the lost prince of Asgard, obviously apprehensive of the judgment Odin would pass on his adopted son.
Once Loki was standing a few feet from the dais, Odin raised his staff and pounded it twice on the ground. All fell silent, their eyes trained on the front of the hall.
"Loki Laufeyson," Odin began, speaking Loki's true name for the first time. "You have been brought here to hear your judgment. You have been found guilty of committing crimes in the realm known as Midgard, for the sole aim of placing it under your rule. How do you plead?"
Loki raised his head and stared at Odin in the eyes. "Not guilty."
A sudden buzz of whispers erupted throughout the hall.
"Silence!" Odin returned Loki's defiant gaze. "The evidence speaks otherwise."
"That is my plea, and no other," Loki answered.
Odin stood, stepping down from his throne. "And you have nothing to say in your defense?"
Loki opened his mouth to reply, but was interrupted.
A woman's voice rang throughout the hall, encompassing even that of the All-Father's. The crowd, including Loki and the royal family, turned towards the main doors.
Freya stood there, as radiant and beautiful as ever. Her fair hair streamed behind her, and her dress rippled as she moved forward. But they could all see that she had dark circles under her eyes, and her cheekbones were more pronounced.
"All Father, I beg you, hear me!" Freya called, her voice tinged with desperation.
No, Loki thought, his eyes widening. Only one thing could cause Freya to lose all sense of propriety, to barge in the midst of an important hearing.
Odin looked shocked at Freya's sudden interruption and appearance, but he recovered quickly. "Speak, Freya."
"I have seen…I have seen my child!" Freya's words cut through Loki like a red hot knife. "Sigyn! She's…she's being tortured! Tortured! My Sigyn!"
Freya was hysterical now; Frigga rushed to Freya, who clutched the queen tightly.
"Who is torturing her?" Odin demanded, his eye narrowing. "Who?"
Freya shook her head and made several gestures. An orb erupted from her fingertips and expanded, so that the images in it could be seen by everyone in the hall.
Sigyn was lying on the ground, tears streaking her face. Her dress was torn in several places, her hair was in disarray, and wounds lined her exposed skin. Sigyn struggled to sit up, her eyes sliding this way and that, as if seeking an invisible attacker.
"No," Loki moaned, despair and grief in his tone. "Sigyn…"
A sudden force knocked Sigyn back, and she screamed in pain.
"NO!" Loki leapt to his feet and rushed at the image of his wife. The guards had difficulty restraining him; Loki's eyes were fixed on Sigyn, who was now gasping his name.
"Loki," she whimpered, just as another wave passed through her body, sending her screaming.
"NO! SIGYN!" Loki roared, straining to be free from the guards' grip. "Let me go, she needs me!"
The images changed focus, sliding lower to focus on Sigyn's belly.
It was flat.
The bulge of her pregnancy was gone, and there were no cries of a child, aside from Sigyn's screams.
"I cannot see the child!" Freya exclaimed, and the image of Sigyn vanished. "I cannot see my grandchild!"
It was then when Loki snapped. He dropped to his hands and knees, staring at the marble floor. Tears flowed unchecked down his cheeks, and all he felt was grief.
His child was dead. His wife was being tortured in an unknown realm. Loki threw his head back and screamed.
Screamed for Sigyn, his heart and soul. Screamed for his child, whom he had left to die.