Continuing Tales


A Marvel Movieverse Story
by startrekfanwriter

Part 16 of 26

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Loki screams. In anger, in fear, in sheer frustration and at everyone. He calls Sif much worse things than he'd called Natasha on the helicarrier, relishing the ways it makes her lip curl, and her knuckles turn white as she fists the pommel of her sword. He calls Odin all sorts of things, horrid things, and gets no response. And then right before the guards get the mask on, Loki smirks. "Can't bear I might be in the right, eh, brother?"

The slight is based off something Darcy told him, an ancient human myth long forgotten in Asgard. Loki didn't think anything of it until now. Odin's eyes are burning in loathing...and fear?

The flat side of the spear Gungnir comes round to Loki's head and everything goes black.

When Loki comes to his face is pressed to cold stone. His hands are locked behind his back, the muzzle still on his face. He tries to call his magic. There is no response.

"He's awake," someone says.

As he is hauled to his knees, the room comes into focus. He hadn't thought that his spirits could sink any lower...he'd been wrong.

The great hall is dimly lit. He is at the center of half circle formed by the throne of Odin and the dais of the twelve Diar, the judges who helped Odin manage the affairs of Asgard and the nine realms. Loki has been here before many times. When he was accused of killing the servant Fimafeng - which was really a proxy trial for his failure to grieve over the death of Baldur. When the dwarf Eitri demanded Loki's head. When Thor's hammer was stolen - he hadn't done it. And when he stood trial for the crimes he'd committed under the sway of the Chitauri.

The judges don't frighten him as much as the silence. He casts a gaze backwards. The hall is empty. Just the guards, Sif, Odin, and the judges. There will be no Thor to speak for him this time. He can feel the sheen of sweat on his lower back and forehead.

They're reading his sentence.

"...for the rest of eternity," intones the judge furthest on the right.

Loki wants to cry. Wants to laugh. Wants to fall over in despair. But he only scowls. He won't break in front of them.

"Is there anyone here who would dispute this sentence?"

Loki closes his eyes. There is no one. No one...

"I do!" says Sif.

Loki's eyes open. Striding past him, Sif places herself right in front of Odin himself. She does not kneel. "This trial is a farce! This is not justice! Let the people of Asgard see who has wronged them. What has wronged them. Let him know their scorn-isn't that what he most despises?"

Loki feels his stomach flutter. He hates and loathes that she knows him that well. As much as he believes in what he has done, as much as he can see it even being for the good of even Asgard in the very, very, very long run...he spent millennia trying to win the approval of these people. And he does still want it.

Raising her head higher, Sif lifts an arm. "And let the people have the execution you know they'll demand! So we may be rid of this monster once and for all!"

Loki blinks. An execution. The word hangs in the air and is beautiful. An end. He is so weary, so tired - and Sif...Sif, Thor's one time wife, faithless whore, and mighty trying to deliver him. If his jaw wasn't locked in place by the muzzle, it would be agape.

Rising from his throne, Odin pounds Gungnir on the ground. "You question the wisdom of the Diar?"

"It was the Diar who allowed a frost giant to be raised in the halls of Asgard!" Sif says.

Loki tilts his head and feels his lips twist in a smirk beneath the mask. She's a xenophobe, but if deliverance comes for all the wrong reasons, he'll still take it.

Pacing before the dais, Sif shouts up at Odin and the Diar. "This is just a way to hide your mistake!"

"Silence!" says Odin. "Your king, and the Diar have spoken. Our word is law."

Sif stops. Even though her back is to him, Loki can feel her glare.

"You will give your oath that you will tell no one of these proceedings," says Odin.

Sif trembles, not with fear, Loki knows. With rage. She may be all the nasty things he's said about her, but Sif is not a coward. Nor does she renege on an oath.

She turns slowly, head bowed.

"Sif!" says one of the judges.

Her eyes meet Loki's. And he knows what she is thinking. They may be enemies, but they are close enemies. The guards' arms are heavy on his shoulders. He cannot stand. But he tilts his head as far to the side as he can, exposing his neck.

Sif's hand goes to her sword. It is out and slicing through the air in an instant. The flash of the blade is the brightest, most beautiful light in the dim hall. For a moment, Loki's heart beats fast with hope.

And then there is another searing blast of light and Sif crumples to the floor, her sword falling just inches from Loki's knees with a clang.

"Put her in the dungeon!" says Odin, lowering the still flaming tip of Gungnir.

Loki slumps as they drag her limp form away.

"And you know where to take him," says Odin. Loki can feel the weight of the All Father's glare on him.

Loki starts to laugh. It comes out a strange huffing noise through the mask. He thinks he hears someone mutter the word depraved, and it is, but he can't help himself.

When it comes to suicide attempts, he's 0 for 3.

x x x x

Darcy half walks, half jogs down the halls of King Vili's palace fortress, her backpack jostling uncomfortably against her back. Eisa is scampering just behind her. In front of them are Uxi and Bera, two enormous frost giants - and Darcy's personal body guards. They don't mean to make her run; they are actually very respectful of Darcy.

Frost giant society is, in most senses, extremely patriarchal. It is a warrior-mage society, and since males tend to be larger, stronger, and unburdened by childbearing, they wield considerably more general. It would follow that Darcy, being female, human, non-magical, and very small by anyone's standards, wouldn't command a lot of respect.

However, in Jotun society widows of warrior-mages are very respected. Loki-Lopt apparently told King Vili about David's death and talked up David's role in bringing the Earth ships to Jotunheim. Small Darcy may be, but Uxi and Bera look to her as a fount of wisdom and confidant of all warriors. They just can't walk much more slowly than they already are, and the ceiling isn't quite high enough here to put Eisa and Darcy on their shoulders.

Darcy's panting when they round a bend, pass a great hall and someone calls out, "Darcy! Darcy!"

Uxi and Bera stop and turn, their great fanged maws half open, their yellow-orange eyes turning to her in puzzlement.

From down the hall come two young reporters. She sighs. Here she goes again.

"Darcy," says Laura Osborne, of the Times. "Have you spoken to King Vili about getting us out of here?"

Except for Darcy, all other reporters and photographers have been confined to the palace grounds.

Laura and a few others made the mistake the first night of thinking that because King Vili's fortress looks like it belongs in 13th century Earth, that 13th century Earth technology was all the king had access to. The press corps had griped about their host in what they thought was privacy. Everything they said was heard through a magic mirror on their wall. All talk of any reporters leaving the compound was halted.

But Darcy, friend of Lopt, widow of David, is given free reign.

Keeping her expression carefully neutral, Darcy says, "Yes."

Laura scowls. "I just..."

Darcy sees Laura's fist clench at her side. "There is just a story here that I don't think is being told...and we haven't been able to leave the palace in 2 months."

It's insulting, but Darcy does her best not to get angry. Darcy has been taking pictures and writing about her travels through King Vili's lands. She's been sending her dispatches out regularly with the shuttles ferrying between Earth and Jotunheim. She is trying to tell the story of this place, but these young reporters probably find her too sympathetic to King Vili. His mines are destroying the environment. Workers toil in grueling ten hour shifts. Child labor is the norm here. Traditional ways of life are breaking down.

Darcy doesn't see herself as overly sympathetic to Vili. She sees herself as sympathetic to the people of Jotunheim. They want the mines. They want 12 hour shifts so they can be richer. It is King VIli who has made more than 10 hours illegal - labor is scarce and he doesn't like losing laborers to accidents. As for child labor, the conditions that Darcy has seen in the mines are better than on the tuber farms, or among the children she's seen herding giant oxen like creatures between the glaciers, as picturesque as those occupations may be. It would be better if the children were in school, but sometimes a child working means the difference between life and death for the children and their families.

Darcy bites the inside of her lip. "I'll do what I can," she says. She actually thinks that many of the reporters will be balanced, and that letting Laura and those like her spin the Jotun tale negatively won't matter. But trying to convince Vili that the negative publicity won't matter is...difficult.

Laura's scowl deepens. Uxi barks something. Darcy has no idea what it means, but she smiles as apologetically as she can and says, "I have to go."

A few moments later, she is stepping gratefully out into the brisk cool air of a Jotunheim spring. It is just above freezing, and it feels balmy. The light of Jotunheim's white dwarf sun dances on the icy turrets of the palace and the white peaks of the mountains surrounding it. About a mile down from where Darcy is standing is a valley where geysers waft steam. Around the natural chimneys are large circular patches of brown grasses where blue figures herd giant beasts. She isn't going that way today.

Uxi bends down and gestures for Darcy to climb aboard one shoulder. After 2 months, Darcy is way past being embarrassed. She hops on and rubs his head affectionately.

Nearby, Bera does the same thing for Eisa. They are travelling through the mountains today, and it really is easier and faster for the giants just to carry them.

Soon they are making their way along high, treacherous staircases cut in ice and snow. Uxi and Bera's bare feet don't slip or slide. It was strange at first to Darcy, but frost giants in the higher echelons of society wear less clothing, and seldom wear shoes. They keep their bodies warm with magic, but that magic comes at the cost of increased calories. Proving that they can afford those calories is a sign of their high rank.

Darcy slips out her camera and starts taking pictures of landscape. It is beautiful and harsh. The mountains and ice cut stark geometric patterns against the sky. She won't need to retouch the pictures to make them appear abstract.

When she left SHIELD all those years ago and started travelling through foreign countries, she didn't have to work hard to keep her focus from straying. Everything was so different, she found it impossible not to be in the moment. Being in Jotunheim is like that...times 10.

Is that why she hasn't gone home? To not think beyond now? To skip over all the stages of grief? To not be in her apartment, and not have to look at her bed or a chair Loki once sat in and want to set it on fire rather than have it remind her that she will never see Loki - or David, again?

Closing her eyes, she takes a deep breath. Eisa says something that makes Bera chortle, and Darcy asks the not-so-little girl to translate. She lets Eisa, Uxi and Bera distract her with their jokes and tales, and pushes Earth and Loki from her mind.

Soon they reach their destination, a frost giant village of igloos along an icy peak. On the peak itself are frost giants of every age, men and women. They are cutting apart great blocks of ice and preparing them to be taken to Earth. A Chinese agricultural conglomerate bought large swathes of land in Sudan and is importing a glacier's worth of ice to turn the desert into rice paddies. Talk about environmental havoc on both sides - and more food for poor people on both ends of the transaction.

Someone on the icy peak waves to them and a frost giant man, ostentatiously nearly unclothed, comes down to meet them. Unlike Uxi and Bera, the man's face, like Eisa's, isn't fearsome. All frost giants are shapeshifters. Most can't pop into other forms like Loki can - could, but all frost giants can alter their appearances, and their stature. Warriors and royalty are very tall, with frightening features, by magic and effort. It is another sign of status.

This man, who Eisa says is the village leader, has black hair and only a few sparse lines on his face. His height is average for ordinary frost giant males - about 7 and a half feet. The women tend to be closer to 6 and a half feet tall.

The village leader starts talking about what he and his village are trying to accomplish here and takes them on a tour. He's heard that Darcy can "magically" reproduce pictures, and he asks that she take photographs and reproduce them so that he can use them to convince other giants how much opportunity there is here and get them to relocate. It's the typical request. Everyone is short handed. Darcy complies with a smile. It isn't her primary interest, but she knows if she does as he asks, later she'll be able to take photographs closer to her heart.

After the tour, an afternoon feast is prepared, and Darcy, Uxi, Bera and Eisa are honored guests. As preparations are underway, Darcy asks if she may visit with "the other women" and "meet the children." The request is not seen at all odd. She is a woman, a widow, a mother - of course the men in the group expect her to want to be "closer to her own." And unlike some of the male reporters who have made the mistake of asking for similar privileges, Darcy is completely and utterly non-threatening. It isn't always a weakness.

She is outside the igloos, standing around an open fire pit taking candid photos, trying not to be carted about like a doll by one of the bigger girls, when a lookout gives a shout. Eisa, who had been playing tag, is suddenly by her side. "A," says Eisa. "Come to bring food. Take ice. They are early."

Just as Eisa finishes that explanation, over the ridge comes a giant polar bear. On his back is a saddle so enormous it makes the hooded figure astride it look small in comparison.

The village leader comes out of an igloo, along with Uxi and Bera and many of the village men. More frost giants and their polar bear mounts begin to come over the crest. A frost giant child swings from a bear and runs to the leader of the village. He says some words very quickly and a murmur goes up from the crowd.

"What is it?" says Darcy.

Grinning, Eisa bounces on her feet. "Oh. Gossip! There is news from Asgard. Heimdall the watcher and Prince Loki the Destroyer killed each other...maybe two months ago? Maybe more! Oh, everyone is soooo happy!"

Darcy's jaw falls. For a moment her mind is completely empty. And she shakes her head. Of course they would eventually hear of what happened between Loki and Heimdall...and they don't know Loki is Lopt, the one responsible for all the recent changes on their world. Changes they want...They only know how he nearly destroyed their world.

Darcy swallows. That was before the Chitauri had gotten their tentacles in Loki's mind.

Barking laughter sounds around her and the muffled growl of bears rise into the darkening evening air. More and more villagers are running down the slopes and coming out of their igloos to meet the caravan merchants. The street is crowded...everyone is happy...Suddenly Darcy can't breathe and the sound of her heart beating in her ears is louder than the commotion around her. She has to get away.

Eisa has darted off. Darcy doesn't even try to find her. She stumbles out of the crowd and then breaks into a run, ice crunching beneath her feet. She doesn't stop until she is at a little icy lean-to at the edge of the village. Leaning against the outside wall of a crumbling structure, she slides to the ground and puts her head in her hands.

The sound of laughter is echoing in the distance. She swallows. Another sound catches her attention. Directly overhead she hears a 'rawk, rawk.' Looking up she sees two ravens circle above the village. They cry a few more times and then dart off into the distance. Dropping her head, her attention is caught by two hooded figures standing about 50 yards away in the overhang of an igloo door.

She squints at them. They seem a little small; maybe they are children. One drops his hood and Darcy's stomach falls.

It's Loki. He beckons her towards him with his hand and then turns quickly and vanishes into the igloo with his companion.

Darcy is on her feet running towards the igloo a second later, barely registering the dark shadows in the sky. She slides into the dwelling, nearly falling over, but two strong hands catch her before she hits the snow floor.

For a moment, she sees two Loki's before her in the dim light, and she almost smiles. So like him to tease her with a double. But then her smiles drops. They both look like Loki, so much like him...but they're wrong...not quite right. Their shoulders too wide, their jaws too square, their faces too stereotypically handsome.

Struggling in her 'rescuer's' arm she tries to shout, but a hand shoots quickly over her mouth.

Shaking her head, she tries to snag a finger in her teeth, but before she does one of the almost-Loki's leans in her ear and whispers. "Shhhhhhh...we need your help - we have to rescue our father."


A Marvel Movieverse Story
by startrekfanwriter

Part 16 of 26

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