Author's Note: The ancient Nordic year is in use for time here; two seasons would be equal to a year of time on earth.
Prologue: The Fall
The prisons of Asgard were legendary. Those who did not perish within those walls, and most did die, emerged changed; some became mere shadows of who they had once were, while others returned maddened, warped of mind, body, or both, beyond repair.
When Loki was to be brought up from the lowest levels of the dungeons, where he had served six seasons for his crimes against Asgard, Jotunheim, and Midgard, there were whispers and secret wagers made among the Æsir of which category the fallen prince would be a party to. Would he return broken in body, broken in spirit, or both?
It was clear to everyone on the day that Loki was escorted by the palace guard to hold audience with Odin, that none of their wagers were entirely right, or entirely wrong.
The God of Mischief walked with a halting gait across the great hall, his ankles still shackled together and his wrists bound behind his back. His black hair was in long, matted tangles, his skin riddled with bruises, and his clothing was ragged, torn and filthy. His mouth was a horrific thing to behold; blood dried and crusted where the seams of his sewn lips pulled against the scarred flesh; but he held his head high, his gaze defiant as he went forward to the raised dais where the All-Father sat on his throne.
When he took his place at the bottom of the steps, he fixed Odin with a look that was unmistakable; a look of pure scorn, of unconcealed hated. The guard escort that had brought him in tried to force the god to his knees before the All-Father and it was then that Loki struggled, jerking himself out of the grasp of his captors. A hiss of contempt rippled through the hall, the Æsir nobility and courtiers in attendance outraged and scandalized by the action. When the guards took hold of Loki again and this time forced him to his knees with success, a cheer broke out among the more vocal members in attendance until Odin lifted a hand, signaling for silence.
Loki spared only a glance around himself, looking for Frigga and Thor, and when he saw neither, his attention returned to Odin once more.
Rising to his feet the All-Father looked down on his adopted son, the old man impassive as he spoke.
"Loki, fallen Prince of Asgard. You have served the entirety of your sentence. Let the court be reminded of the terms. Six seasons was the sentence. Two seasons for high treason and attempted fratricide and patricide, a season for your attempt to destroy Jotunheim, and another three seasons for your terrible crimes against Midgard."
Odin raised his hand again and with a gesture, the threads from the trickster's mouth came loose, whipping through the wounds of his mouth like a snake and falling to the ground when it was free. Loki did not even wince, the stinging of his mouth nothing compared to the agony he had already endured.
Odin spoke again, his voice low and grave. "You have served these sentences. What have you learned from your time spent in the prisons of Asgard? Have you embraced the understanding of consequences for foul and evil deeds, or does your heart remain dark?"
Loki remained silent, his eyes still locked on the All-Father. Several minutes passed before the court began to grow restless, another hiss of discontented and ill-tempered murmurs beginning to pass through the crowd as the prince continued to stay mute.
At long last Loki turned his head, looking at the court, taking in the sea of bodies and the mixed expressions of displeasure and anger; when he looked back to Odin, a silence fell as he parted his lips, all expectant of his first words.
Instead, Loki spit on the floor before the throne.
Outrage passed through the court at lightning speed, and some of the more daring nobles surged forward as if to seize the prince, but the crash of Odin's staff striking against the daïs brought all to a standstill. The All-Father turned his eye upon the Æsir, everyone shrinking back under his angry gaze.
"Let it be known by all that what befalls him will not come at the hands of the court. I, Odin, command you all to be still and speak no more! Those who do not obey shall regret their foolishness." He struck the staff on the floor a second time, and the court members bowed their heads in ascent, though a few were slower to do so than others.
"Loki." Odin looked down at him, shaking his head. "You leave me no choice. If you have learned nothing, if you will speak nothing, your sentence in the prisons has been fulfilled in body but it has been spent in vain for your heart and mind. Thus, you will now begin a sentence of new making. As Thor once was, you are unworthy of this realm, of all title and your powers. I strip you of immortality and godhood. You are henceforth banished from this realm until the day comes when you have cast out the blackness of evil from your soul and learned from your mistakes. Until a time when you know goodness, to abandon lies for truth, and to act with unselfishness, I cast you out!"
With a final strike of his staff to the ground, the palace itself shook with Odin's words, and a strong wind whipped through the great hall. Chaos broke out as the court fled, everyone making as much distance between themselves and the former God of Mischief as Loki stumbled, falling forward onto his face as the world tilted.
Then everything went black.
The storm came with sudden and unexpected forced over New York City, meteorologists that had predicted sun and high temperatures for the summer day were thrown into consternation as clouds rolled in from the ocean and the sky turned dark.
Rain came, a torrential downpour, and wind swept down the streets, forcing people to take cover indoors or under umbrellas and newspapers as they tried to go from one place to the next.
Amid the storm, a figure fell from the sky, streaking toward the harbor and crashing down into the water.
The shock of the impact and the cold brought Loki back to his senses; his eyes snapping open and water spilling into his mouth and nose as he gasped. It took all of his feeble, mortal strength to propel himself up toward the faint light above him, and he sputtered when he reached the surface, sucking air into his lungs in great, gasping breaths; all his pathetic, mortal ability to swim with terrible, ungraceful and heavy motions until he reached the shore, to drag himself up the rocky beach where he once again passed out.