I am so sorry it's taken so long to update this! Especially since I left it at a cliffhanger last time...
My only excuse is school and that I'm not as good at managing my time as I would like to be.
Now however I am on Winter Break, which means I have lots more time on my hands ;)
That is what Loki feels when his magic emanates outwards from his body, creating a break in the natural defenses he'd been keeping up since entering Jotunheim, and the chaos energy takes the opportunity to creep through his veins, burning like fire.
The chaos energy rages through his system, straight to his core.
There's a wall, long and high and white, holding back an ocean, a cyclone of energy.
Now under assault from both sides, it begins to shake slightly, to vibrate, to crack.
And all it takes is a crack.
Magic floods through Loki's body—so much magic there's no breath to fuel his screams, and they die in the back of his throat.
Behind his eyelids all Loki can see is green.
Green like flames lapping over dirty copper.
(Sometimes Loki remember a hazy face above him, a cool touch, a colder rush of energy, and the feeling of suddenly being inexplicably alone.)
Oh Odin, Loki thinks through the chaotic haze, the novas of black and red and blue and green and white and gold. What did you do to me?
With his body in green-hot agony, Loki doesn't even realize he's falling.
Helblindi finds him beneath a pile of icy rubble.
It was the spark of green she sees first, fizzling along his long and slender blue fingers from where they're visible sticking out of a pile of ice, and she rushes over and throws the rubble aside, pulling him out.
"Loki," she says again, over and over. "Loki Loki Loki Loki Loki." Please be alive.
Her fingers to his neck, and the pulse is there—strong. Frantic.
She thinks she hears wingbeats returning overhead, and so she hefts Loki over her shoulder and runs till she finds a small but sheltered abandoned building, probably a shed.
Lying Loki down gently, Helblindi bites her lip, uncertain. She shakes him.
"Loki?" she says.
A groan as Loki shakes his head slightly, red eyes dragging open. "What, I haven't earned the title of 'Brother' yet?"
Helblindi just stares at him for a moment, but when a smirk dances weakly over his cobalt lips, she throws her arms around him.
Or at least tries to, seeing as that he's still lying down.
"Hey, it's okay," he says, managing to sit up and pat her back as she sobs in relief. "I'm okay."
"I thought you were dying!"
"You have such little faith in me."
She sits up, glaring at him. "The tower exploded and you fell hundreds of meters, and got buried under a pile of rubble!"
Loki blinks at her. "Did I really?"
"Yes," she says, poking him in the ribs. "And these green tendrils of electricity keep skittering across your skin. What the Hel happened?"
There was a moment of hesitation, and Loki is suddenly aware that as his magic pulses through him every scratch and scape and bruise is healing at a visibly fast pace. Magic hums in his ears, the air of Jotunheim shivering around him, and lifting a blue hand he examines the rampant magic that dances over his skin and it feels like his body is thrumming with adrenaline.
"I think something broke," Loki says finally.
"Broke?!" Helblindi practically shrieks, beginning a careful examination of him, looking for any signs of injuries. "You mean you're injured?!"
Loki shakes his head, lips quirking. "No, not like that! I wasn't lying when I told you I was okay—in fact, I feel better than ever." As he said this Loki got to his feet, only slightly shaky. His red eyes were shimmering with green; though over the red it just appeared a vacillating black. "I meant that something broke as in... a wall, or a cage, if you will."
Reaching out, Loki tugs experimentally at a tendril of magic, and promptly his dark eyes roll back into his head and he collapses.
"Brother!" Helblindi exclaims, rushing forward as he crumples into the snow, sitting again on her knees beside him. She slaps him. "You liar! You said you felt okay!"
Groaning, Loki opens his eyes, and slowly they seem to be fading into their natural bright red color.
"It's minutely overwhelming," he concedes, grinning weakly.
"Minutely," Helblindi intones dubiously. She then glances up at the ice above their heads, the out at the small entrance, saying, "Is that eagle gone? We should get you back to the castle."
"He's gone," Loki says assuredly, even as he closes his eyes, murmuring, "But why don't we just stay here for a bit. It's warm."
Helblindi snorts, brushing dark hair out of her face as she points out, "You mean 'it's cold', I believe. When we say, 'it's warm', we generally are panting from overheating."
"Mm, fine. It's comfortable, then."
"No sleeping!" Helblindi says, poking him in the ribs. "What if you don't wake up?! And how do you know that the eagle is gone? And how do you know it was a 'he', anyway?"
"That was no normal eagle," Loki says, stretching out his arms and legs and arching his back off the ground, before crossing one ankle over the other and crossing his hands behind his head in the very image of someone pensively watching clouds above them. "You saw his eyes, did you not?"
"Was it possessed?" Helblindi asks curiously.
"No, the eagle wasn't possessed—it wasn't even an eagle: it was somebody shapeshifted into the form of an eagle."
Helblindi's eyes widen, before immediately narrowing, and she accuses, "How do you even know this?"
"I know because I can feel it," Loki tries to explain, not sure that he can elucidate further on the insinuations of magic—though honed by practice and intellect, being able to sense and recognize magics was something visceral: trying to explain how he could tell that the eagle was somebody shapeshifted would be like trying to explain how one can tell that the sky is blue, or whether it's raining—because you one can see the sky and feel the rain, and in the same way Loki could feel that the eagle was somebody shapshifted into that form.
"But who would do that?" Helblindi inquired, dark eyebrows drawing together. "Who could do that?"
"Probably Thiassi," Loki says thoughtfully, remembering the conversation he'd heard earlier. As he runs through it again in his head it takes him a moment to realize his half-sister is giving him an odd look.
He raises his eyebrows questioningly, and she says, "I thought Thiassi was dead! And how do you know about him anyway?"
She sure does like to question things, Loki thinks amusedly, blue lips twitching into a smirk.
"I have a habit of hearing and seeing things I'm not necessarily supposed to see or hear," he admits, smirk stretching to expose teeth. "And Laufey said that Thiassi was merely banished and that he's the most powerful sorcerer in Jotunheim."
Loki's grin grows till it reaches his red eyes and coruscates there. Though I'd love to give Thiassi a run for his money, Loki thinks.
Yet at the moment he doesn't feel like he could give much of a run of anything, as there's a pounding in his skull behind his eyes like an erratic drumbeat, and every time he moves the world not just spins but rolls around him so that he can't tell which direction is which three-dimensionally, and his stomach churns with nausea and his head feels faint with vertigo as he can't tell whether the sky is above or below him and whether or not he's about to fall into it.
When he tries to dissect where the pain is coming from he realizes that his mind is trying to deal with all the vast new amounts of sensory input of the magic within him and the awareness of all the magic around him.
How embarrassing though, to be weak with so much power, and with Helblindi there, saying that they need to get back to the castle and tell Laufey.
His smile becomes more forced, and as it turns into a grimace without his consents he justifies it with: "Yeah, this turn of events doesn't bode well, especially from all the trouble I've heard they've been having with revolts."
Ignoring Helblindi's offered hand Loki pushes himself to his feet, resting his hand on the wall to steady himself as he tries to blink the world back into focus, breathing slightly harsh.
"Are you sure you're alright?" Helblindi asks in concern as she scrutinizes him.
Loki manages a breathy laugh. "Quite sure," he says with a smile, mustering all the self-assurance he can till he practically radiates with it. He allows his gaze to go distant again as he tries to concentrate through the chaotic clamoring of energy within and without him. "I'm just thinking."
"A dangerous occupation," says Helblindi with a 'wise' tone that made it clear she was quoting words told to her by somebody else.
"Indeed," Loki laughs again, because laughing at anything is easy as it's just one of the body's reactions to strong emotion, whether it be happiness, surprise, sadness, anger, or anything and everything in between: it's so easy to substitute, say, sobbing for laughing. And as his hand fluttered to his belt out of habit, panic floods through him as he realizes he no longer has the dagger that Thor had given him. Forcing himself to take deep breaths, Loki recognized that this gave him a perfect excuse to stay behind for a bit; so he allowed his panic to show on his face, looking down at his belt and pawing at it, checking under his cloak as he cursed.
"What?" Helblindi asks, tugging nervously at the hem of her dress. "What is it?"
"I just realized that I dropped my dagger when I fell," Loki says truthfully, looking up at her with an expression of distress that let her see that this wasn't just any dagger that he had lost. "My bro—Thor gave it to me."
Loki looks down, teeth worrying at his lower lip, before he continues, "If you don't mind, I'd like to stay and see if I can recover it..."
"I'll help you," Helblindi says immediately, but Loki just shakes his head, smiling sheepishly.
"I appreciate the offer, but the sooner Laufey hears about the eagle the better, and it could take a while for me to find my dagger in all the debris. I wish not to hinder such an important message getting to the King," Loki says fluidly, adding the faintest hitch to his voice to account for the severity of the situation, a note of desperation.
Helblindi blinks. "That makes sense," she says, and Loki's eyes twinkle, Of course it does.
For a moment Helblindi looks ready to excuse herself, but then her brow furrows. "But I don't think it's wise to leave you alone after what happened," she says, looking at him earnestly with large red eyes as she continues, "And you're wellbeing is more important than Laufey hearing about the sorcerer. The message can wait; it's not safe to be alone out here at the edge of the city, what with that eagle and all the revolts that you mentioned."
Loki has to fight the urge to groan with exasperation, even as his eyebrows twitch upwards, impressed (and perhaps even slightly pleased) at her level of insistence.
Changing strategies, Loki decides that if he can't convince her to leave so that he can recuperate, then he'll just have to buy himself time enough that he'll hopefully be able to at least walk straight at a decent speed without keeling over.
That she'd already had to carry him in here mortifying enough—he didn't think he could stand it if he collapsed again (after all, the Jotuns, like the Aesir, were a warrior race, and no doubt scorned any signs of weakness as well. Not to mention he's already a runt).
So Loki smiles at her, saying, "Thank you, sis," and nudging her in the shoulder before he gestures for her to lead the way out of the cave. "Ladies first," he insists.
(That way Helblindi won't see if he stumbles and has to catch himself on the wall.)
Outside, clouds are beginning to gather in the sky, and casting a glance at them Loki asks, "Does it storm much here?"
"Blizzards are common," Helbldini acknowledges, following his gaze. "I think we'd better hurry finding that knife. Not that blizzards are all that bad—really the most annoying thing about them is the reduced visibility. The snow and wind aren't bothersome," she says, grinning as she adds, "At least not to us Jotuns. Still though, it would make finding your dagger a bit trickier."
Loki nods, and as the two of them reach the icy rubble of the watchtower they spread out around the area Helblindi said she found him buried, and they begin shifting away snow and ice with feet, sometimes bending down to use their heads.
It's slow, careful work, which is exactly what Loki needs right now: a chance to try to get his mind and body back into working order, as the former still roils and the latter still trembles enough that his legs and feet tend to get tangled amongst each other and he falls several times, though he simply acts as if that was intention, sifting through on his hands and knees for a while.
And by the time he culls his dagger from the snow, he has regained enough motor control that he figures he can jog back to the castle without making showing any fragilities of his condition.
Though he gets the feeling that if anybody startled him or tried to touch him they would get blown backwards—though perhaps that feeling that he might not be able to control all the power flooding his veins is a significant part of what terrifies him.
The only problem Thor can see with the plan is that Odin will be expecting him to try to go to Jotunheim.
Therefore he needs a legit reason why he would go to Vanaheim.
Try to think like Loki, Thor thinks to himself. What would Loki do?
And Thor remembers asking Loki: "Why do you always lie?"
And Loki had said: "Because it's what they want to believe."
Loki had lied so often, and Thor had listened, had been lied to himself and fallen for it near every time, and he was trying to understand why.
He'd finally begun to grow suspicious whenever Loki told him something simple that actually made sense, and that was easy to understand and believe; he'd learned that Loki's truths were always complicated and frustratingly complex.
So then, what did Odin expect him to do?
Odin expected him to go after Loki, though no doubt Odin had ordered Heimdall not to let him or anyone else visit Jotunheim—and well, quite conveniently there were rumors that there was a secret pathway between Vanaheim and Jotunheim.
And truth be told, Thor would probably look for it, had he Loki with him, seeing as Loki was the only one who could ever find such pathways.
He still remembers when they'd been on a hunting expedition, and Loki had 'accidentally' stumbled upon a cave that had landed them in Nidavellir. That hadn't been the best experience—the dwarfs were nasty creatures.
Making up his mind about his course of action, Thor throws off his covers, swinging his legs over the edge of the bed to pull on his boots, as he is still dressed from the previous day.
During breakfast he's all nerves, fidgeting and barely able to eat anything; he can tell his friends obviously notice, and he can feel Odin's gaze on him, but at this point he can't care less.
This just has to work. Yes, it's hasty; yes, it's rash—but he'd never been much good at a any other kind of plan anyways.
Luckily being King makes Odin a busy man, and there always seem to be people lining up to talk with him over some matter, so when the Allfather is thoroughly engaged in important discourse Thor figures they have enough time to make it to the bifrost, walking quickly to the stables and riding their horses across the rainbow bridge, and all the while Thor feels disconnected, almost like he's watching himself from a distance.
"Are you sure about this?" Sif asks, as they dismount their steeds at the Observatory.
"Yes," Thor answers. Because he is sure that he has to do something, and frankly any plan, no matter how risky, is better than staying in Asgard and doing nothing.
Even as he speaks to Heimdall and urges his friends forward towards the swirling rainbow beam, saying that they go first because he just needs one last word with the gatekeeper, and after glancing back at him uncertainly they take his word, Thor feels strangely encumbered by all his thoughts.
This course of action is absolutely necessary. Yes, it was always known that he would become King of Asgard rather than Loki—but he'd never considered that he would be living, much less ruling, without Loki at his side.
He needs Loki. And if Loki has come to harm because of him...
Heimdall repositions the beam, saying, "Good luck," and effectively bringing Thor back to the present and out of the past and possible futures, and Thor nods in thanks before stepping into the swirling rainbow colors of bifrost.
Since Heimdall is under orders that restrict him from setting Thor down in Jotunheim, Thor had asked the gatekeeper to set him down on Midgard, as close as he could.
And well, Thor is expecting at least some snow.
But no—apparently the closest Heimdall can land him is in a desert, an expanse of sand and sun and cactus. The heat hits him like a punch to the face, making him stagger, boots sinking into the sand.
Thor swears colorfully, wondering if maybe it would have been better to just go to Vanaheim and look for that rumored secret passageway.
Then he notices mountains in the distance, and with his heart leaping hopefully removes the traveling bag that he has slung around his chest over his shoulder, and unclasping it pulls out the hammer Mjolnir.
Sliding the bag back over his head he then whirls the hammer around and takes off into the arid air; and despite the circumstances, he can't help the small smile the graces his lips.
Somehow he'd thought the first day he would be worthy enough to wield Mjolnir would be a happier, more triumphant day.
That morning before he'd left, Thor had crept his way down into the weapons vault, and stood there before Mjolnir, as he'd stood there countless times before.
"I know I've kept trying to be worthy of you," Thor started, gaze resting on the large hammer where it rested on its stone the way it had been resting for centuries. "And now I'm here again, and I... I know I've done nothing to be worthy of you. In fact, I've been such an unworthy brother, I doubt how I cold ever be worthy of you. But please," and there was certainly a strong note of beseeching in his voice, "Grant me the time and ability to save my little brother. I don't mind in the least if afterwards I can no longer wield you... just please, I love Loki so, and I've never shown it like I should have. Just please let me get my little brother back. Let me bring my little brother home."
And then, hesitantly, Thor's large hands closed around Mjolnir's grip, and closing his eyes he tugged, almost fearfully.
The hammer budged, grating against the stone, and snapping his eyes Thor looked down at it with an expression between awe and disbelief as he used more force and lifted the hammer right off the stone and held it there for a moment, just staring at it.
In reverence he murmured, "Thank you, Mjolnir," and carefully set the hammer in the traveling bag he'd brought for the purpose.
Feeling braver, Thor crept back out of the weapons vault and up to where his friends were waiting.
There was a secretive smile on his lips—but they knew better than to ask and he knew better than to tell.
Sif and the Warriors Three land somewhere lush and green, the scents of decaying leaves and woodsmoke washing over them.
Glancing up they wait for Thor, only to see the bifrost close above them without having deposited the thunder god.
"Where's Thor?" Fandral asks, furrowing his brow in confusion, as he begins to look around them as if Thor might be hiding behind on of the ancient trees that surround the clearing they stand in.
Sif hisses air through her teeth, realizing, "He must have sent us here to keep Odin off his tail, while he went somewhere else."
"That's more of a Loki thing to do, isn't it?" Volstagg points out as he bent down to pick up a walnut, inspecting the black shell.
None of them know quite what to say to that.
After a moment, Hogun, ever grim and to-the-point, says, "Where are we?"
This causes the four of them to turn, inspecting their surroundings, noticing the pleasantly warm air against their skin, the towering trees with their broad leaves and puddles of shade, the sounds of a bustling town in the distance.
"Definitely not Jotunheim, Musphelheim, Nidavellir, Svartalfheim, Nornheim, Niffelheim, or Helheim" Fandral remarks. "Which just leaves Alfheim, Vanaheim, and Midgard."
They begin walking towards the sounds of the town, and as they emerge from the trees and look down the hill at the village below, with its round and domed architecture, Hogun says, "Vanaheim, then." If possible, he's looking slightly less grim than usual, possibly on account of the fact that this was the realm he was born in and technically his homeland.
"Vanaheim? Isn't that where we're supposed to be?" Fandral asks in bafflement.
"I guess Thor didn't believe those rumors," Sif shrugs, beginning to follow Hogun down the hill. "Or else he didn't believe we would ever be able to find such a pathway."
"Well, as long as they have a tavern where we can get lunch, it should be okay," Volstagg offers with a grin, trying to be upbeat, though he just receives glares for his efforts.
"So then Thor probably went, where, to Midgard?" Fandral says, snorting.
"Probably," Sif acknowledges, sighing heavily. "If you find the right spot, you can walk from Midgard to Jotunheim, after all."
With the realization that they were stuck here and there wasn't much they could do about it, they let themselves be led by Hogun and Volstagg's nose to a tavern that sold food and beverages that weren't limited to some matter of alcohol.
"I hope Thor succeeds," Fandral says, over a mug of hot apple cider, as they sit at a table in the corner of the dim establishment.
The others nod in agreement.
"I just wish we could help somehow," Volstagg says. Though since he says it through a mouthful of food it sounds more like: "Yi jush wysh we coo hel 'im humhow."
"We can't do anything yet," Sif says, as she glances up through the ceiling. "But when Odin sends people to retrieve us, we can certainly buy Thor more time."
Look, it's not a cliffhanger this time! ;P
Okay, I honestly wasn't going to have Thor able to wield Mjolnir in this - but he got sent down to Midgard in the middle of a desert, and I couldn't think of any other way to get him to Jotunheim in the amount of time before Odin sent people after him - like seriously, the only other possibility I could come up with meant that Thor would have had to run at car-speed across a desert and climb a mountain range in the course of like a day... XD Since it's not like he can borrow a car or anything, seeing as that on Midgard at when Thor and Loki are this age cars haven't been invented yet...
Anyways, I'd love to know what you think! (And if you notice any typos I need to fix - I wrote nearly the entire chapter today and was too lazy to look over it before posting...)