Whaaaaaaaat?! Yeah, that's right. An update.
The air was stale and dry. Loki inhaled deeply through his nose and coughed roughly.
So roughly that it didn't even sound like his own voice. Loki creaked his eyes open and found he was in a tiny stone room, faintly illuminated in blue light.. His tan, muscular arms were chained at the wrists to each side of the cell.
"What is this- ah!" That was not Loki's voice. It was his accent, certainly, but mangled by the mortal's gruff voice.
Suddenly the wall cracked open and a teenage girl with bronze hair slicked back in a curly ponytail materialized through the hole. She smiled eerily at him. "There you are."
Loki's panting made puffs of mist in front of his face. "What do you want," he growled.
She threw back her head and laughed, then took a step towards him. One step in that tiny cell put her right in front of Loki's face, so close he could see the flecks of green in her hazel eyes. She cocked an eyebrow playfully. "What, don't you recognize me?"
He rolled his eyes. "I would have to moronic not to." It was the girl who broke her phone. Who was obviously more than she seemed. And now she was most likely going to reveal something that supposed to surprise him, unnerve him. He had either somehow wronged her or someone she knows, or she wanted to use him and/or his powers for something. Loki had been in this position far too many times to not know how this game was going to play out.
She grabbed his chin roughly and glared deep into his eyes. "I would urge you look again." The green flecks in her eyes seemed to shimmer in the dim cell. His own widened slightly and he couldn't help but allow a small grin to creep onto his face. Not because of her grip or her stare. He smiled because she was so focused on staring him down that she failed to notice the ice that was creeping up Loki's chains. His magic had flickered back once more.
"You know what?" he breathed. "If we ever met before you dropped your phone, I'm afraid I've no idea where." He had that fire right in his grasp. He clenched it hard, ready to release it at a moment's notice.
She stepped back and turned her back to him, clasping her hands behind her back. "Hmm. Disappointing, I'll admit. I was hoping we could skip this part."
Holding on to his magic was like trying to hold a rapidly melting ice cube. He attempted to unleash a torrent of fire, but only succeeded in melting the ice off his chains. The girl appeared not to notice. He sighed. Fine, he'd play her game. "What part?" he asked.
She heaved her own annoyed sigh. "The monologue, of course!" She rubbed her forehead, back still turned to him. "Come on, you've been in this position far too many times to not know how this game plays out."
Loki blinked in surprise. Oh, so things just got a little more interesting. Was he dealing with a mind reader...?
She turned back to face him. "What's wrong, nothing to say?"
"On the contrary," he began. "I was just thinking along the same lines." He had to show her that she couldn't rattle him.
She chuckled. "Oh, I bet you were. You and I think alike, you know."
"Do we, now."
She stared incredulously at him for a moment then shook her head and began pacing in the small space. "You played the part perfectly. You fooled them all. A bold choice, too, picking an Avenger. Although I suppose it's not that impressive considering you look and sound exactly like him, except for the accent, of course. But that isn't terribly hard to fake. In fact, I'm doing it right now. But still, that does take some skill." She stopped pacing. "And yet, you still can't figure out what's going on. It's not even very complicated!"
So she was that kind of villain. "Would you be so kind as to get this over with and tell me already?"
The girl leaned against the smooth wall and pouted slightly. "Where's the fun in that? At least try, first."
Loki's head was pounding and his shoulders ached from the angle his arms were shackled. "Fine. I assume you have something to do with the shadow that's been chasing me."
"The trolls that were out in the sunlight." She waved him onward.
This girl was beyond irritating. Why did all villains feel the need to play games? And yes, he realized the irony of that question, given he was considered to be a villain himself. But this girl had acted out a riddle and was eagerly waiting for him to solve it, so every detail was crucial, every piece of information she gave to him was deliberate. For example, she was faking an accent, but why? Why would she continue to do that even after he knew she was? What was the point of that?
She didn't tell him which accent she was covering, which means that it would be a dead giveaway. Where she was from was important. She also said that the accent 'wasn't terribly hard to fake', but as far as accents go, the difficulty of faking one is relative, depending on one's native accent. The fact that she knew it wasn't difficult, for both of them, means that for the two of them, that was one and the same.
"You're an Asgardian," Loki stated.
Her face brightened a bit. "Getting closer."
Loki let his head fall forward and he squinted at the floor. He needed his magic, which he had access to on two occasions, both of which the girl was present. The first time, the shadow was touching him. The second time, she was. So the two were obviously connected, but he already knew that.
An Asgardian, a shadow, and trolls in the daytime. He could briefly use magic when touching two of those. He stared at the girl. She intently met his gaze with a hungry gleam in her eye, a gleam he was certain he would have noticed if it was present the other time he saw the girl. Loki had been wrong about one thing, he was fairly certain, and that was the amount of clues he was dealing with. There was not an Asgardian, a shadow, and trolls. There was an Asgardian shadow who had access to trolls. Somehow, the shadow had taken over the girl, possibly in the same manner that he had latched onto Stark. She did say that they thought alike.
Speaking of the mortal, he was currently nowhere to be found. Loki had no idea what that meant, or even if he should be concerned. At the moment, he felt he had more important things to worry about. Such as his theory that he could use magic when the shadow touched him, and that shadow was standing in front of him.
She wanted to play a game? Fine, he'd play his own game. "Am I allowed to ask questions?" he asked.
She thought for a moment. "I suppose so, as long as they're about specific details."
There. Now they were playing on his terms. "First question: how does a shadow have claws?"
She raised an eyebrow. "Well, well. It seems you've arrived at some conclusions." Loki waited. "It took a lot of power, but I could briefly materialize. I take it you have more questions."
"Indeed. How were the trolls in the sun?"
She laughed again. "Oh, this one I'm quite proud of. It's simple, really. See, existing as a shadow, I found that I had the power to block light, and I extended that to the trolls. They're stone by now, I'm sure. I will allow you one more question, so think carefully."
Indeed he was. He needed to time this perfectly, and be extremely quick. He only had one chance, so the way he worded this was crucial. "Would you mind moving my hair out of my face?" he asked.
She narrowed her eyes for a moment, then she shrugged. "Annoying, isn't it? I understand that. Of course I wouldn't want you to be distracted." She reached her hand to brush away the stringy lock that hung in front of his left eye. Here is was. He waited with bated breath, ready to seize the spark as soon as it appeared.
He wasn't subtle with the ice this time. The chains froze so fast that they shattered with almost no force. He fell forward on top of her, once again pinning this girl to the ground. While she was stunned, he grabbed her wrist and felt for the source of his magic. There is was, plain as day. He wasn't sure how he did it, but he ripped a piece of it as he bolted out of the cell, freezing the stone shut behind him.
He ran down a corridor then stumbled clumsily up a staircase, where he ran into a rancid smell like a brick wall made of sewage.
The blue-green ugly monstrosity turned toward Loki and scratched its relatively-small-yet-still-massive head. "You... Prisoner?" It asked.
"No," Loki replied a bit too quickly.
"But small girl human say big man human bad prisoner. Big man human lie? Who say believe?" The floor under Loki's feet trembled slightly as a massive club slammed down on it.
Loki really did not have time for this dimwit. "Oh, yes. Of course. See, big man human is a prisoner, you are correct. But, I am not a big man human. I'm a short man human." The troll scratched its head again so Loki added, "And good for you, asking questions. You are doing a very good job keeping us safe."
"Man human... short?"
There was no getting around this pea-brained imbecile. "Yes," Loki sighed, exasperated. "See, just look at how big you are, and how small I am. You could overpower me, no problem. So there's nothing to worry about."
Apparently that troll had some kind of rash on its head, as it appeared to be very itchy. "Hmmm..."
It was a miracle that the ice on the cell door had lasted this long. "Do you have a name, troll?"
Loki rubbed his beard. "Alright, Ogg, you are here as a guard, yes?"
Evidently, an immensely difficult question. "Umm... Hmm... Uhhh... Yes!"
"Guards keep people safe, Ogg, and I need to pass or I will not be safe. Understand?" Loki heard a muffled yell from the lower level. She broke through the ice.
"Hmm... Small girl human say man human tricksey."
Running footsteps. Loki spoke quickly. "Guards keep people safe, and you are here to keep girl human safe. How can I be a danger to her if I'm not here? Really, it would be more dangerous to keep me here than it would to let me pass. Right now, because she's coming, and she might be very angry to arrive and find that the danger is still here."
Loki took off at a sprint. He burst through a door, froze that behind him, then scrambled up two more flights of stairs before encountering a locked door at the end of the corridor. He looked behind him, nowhere else to go. Loki slammed his shoulder against the door. Then he froze the lock and rammed it again. This time he sprawled out into a pile of snow. Wonderful. Snow meant footprints. He got to his feet and took off again in no particular direction, trying to stick to patches of ice that wouldn't leave footprints.
Loki trudged through the blinding snow for roughly an hour before he began to allow himself to hope that he wasn't being followed. There was a bitterly cold wind that may have swept the snow across his tracks. He walked with his arms wrapped around himself. Loki was certain that this was the most cold he had ever been. Bare-chested but for the increasingly tattered bandages, he wasn't suitably dressed even for a Jotun. If he hadn't managed to rip a bit of his magic from the girl, he would've been dead minutes after leaving the bunker. The only thing keeping him alive was the fire that licked his hands. This time he was careful not to burn himself.
Another hour passed, and still no sign of the mortal. Loki hadn't the faintest idea what had happened to him. He had to admit that it was boring, and maybe even a bit lonely, especially because he was constantly reminded that he was wearing borrowed skin every time he tripped due to the legs he was walking on being shorter than what he was used to.
At the three hour mark, Loki was freezing and exhausted. He found a tall snowdrift and carefully melted out the inside, leaving a small cavelike shelter. He let his fire go out and crawled inside. Finally, a reprieve from the wind. He also got a much-needed break from fueling his flames, which he hadn't even realized how taxing it was until he stopped.
What he really needed was a plan. He needed to get out of the tundra, wherever it was. He was fairly certain he was still on Midgard, so in order to get somewhere warmer, he most likely needed to move southward. How far, he knew not.
He kept an eye on the part of his mind where his magic was. Previously, it had been like a strong pilot light; always there and ready to be stoked at a moment's notice. Then, it had suddenly been extinguished, and was now comparable to a very small candle on the end of its wick. Even though he was exhausted, that made him terrified to fall asleep. If he stopped paying attention, even for a moment, the candle may go out, and then where would he be? Dead, that's where. Paying a visit to his daughter.
He sat huddled in his makeshift cave for he knew not how long. He couldn't decide if come nightfall, it would be more dangerous to stay or flee. On one hand, the further he was from that bunker, the safer. Yet his flames would be like a beacon in the dark, and going without was out of the question. He would freeze to death, he was certain. Well, mostly certain. There was a small chance that even in this midgardian body, his Jotun magic would keep him from freezing to death, as it already had. He would be cold, certainly, but perhaps his magic would keep him moving.
No matter what he did, Loki knew that he needed to cover as much ground as he could in the few hours before nightfall. He reluctantly crawled back out of his cave and back into the icy wind.
Loki kept the sun on his left shoulder as it sank ever closer to the horizon. He was running out of time, and hadn't walked far enough. He was doing the best he could, but the wind was against him and he moved clumsily. His shoulder was bleeding from a time he fell and didn't manage to catch himself on his burned hand. After that he attempted to heal the hand and partially succeeded thanks to thanks to the cold. His shoulder would just have to bleed for a while.
After a while Loki began to feel something strange. It almost seemed to be a sense of déjà vu, but as far as he could recall he had never escaped a kidnapper then fled injured through a frozen desert. He shrugged it off. It mattered not.
When the sun touched the horizon, Loki's decision was made for him when he collapsed against a small spruce. Huh, a tree. He hadn't even noticed that he walked into vegetation. He must not have been as far north as he thought. He leaned heavily against the narrow trunk and it bent a bit under his weight. His fire went out and he hadn't the energy to reignite it. He stood there shivering violently, so exhausted that he didn't even notice the approaching figure until it was too late.
"Oy, you there!" Loki didn't even look up. If that man was here to kill him, then so be it; he had no strength left to fight. "Need some help, stranger?"
Loki responded by passing out.
Yeah, I know. Not the greatest stopping point, but there's a good reason for that (sort of). See, I've had this written for a few weeks now and I've kept meaning to properly finish the chapter but you know how things are. So I figured that if I have something written, I might as well upload it. Maybe we'll call this an informal "part one". To Be Continued. Eventually.
P.S. If you got two update notifications is because when I pasted the chapter into the doc manager I forgot that formatting such as italics don't transfer over so I went back and added them in. Now go do something productive :)