|Ben Sorenson (agoodman) wrote in doorslogs,|
@ 2013-05-29 02:16:00
|Entry tags:||door: marvel comics, loki, thor|
Who: Loki and Thor
What: Rebuilding the Bifrost
Where: Thor's chambers, Asgard
Thor did not pace as he waited for the notification that Loki was outside the door and ready to be ushered into his chambers. Instead, he remained at the long oaken table, used for private feasts with friends or family, though currently it was covered in books instead of trays of food. There was no barrel of ale behind him, but the low steps that opened up to the balcony, and from there, Asgard. Light hung low on the horizon, enough to cast the entire room in shades of orange and red, not entirely unlike a large fire place. Once the sky turned dark, he'd light the sconces on the walls and the columns, perhaps even the deep braziers that gave off heat if it was a cool night.
Most times he could tell the changing of the hours by the sound of boots across the balcony. Not tonight, as he had ordered those guards by the wide oak doors that led from the hallway to his quarters. There they would remain unless his brother made a move to leave through them. To the east of the table he was currently seated at were another pair of doors, alike in design to the ones that were currently being guarded, only these ran to his bedroom proper and it was those doors that he had first used to come through the hotel and back to Asgard. He'd use the same ones tonight to let Loki through. Once, when he had been a child at play, he had let his fingers wander over the knotwork engravings on their surface and made pretend that they would lead him to some other realm. The irony was not entirely lost on him.
His doors were to his right. The book that he had found, the one whose contents remained beyond his ken, was closed in front of him. The heavy leather binding had etching around the edges, gold leaf pressed into the furrows, but it had no title that he could see. At least it's contents were visible, even as the pages browned and turned softer between his fingertips, but the words were still as foreign to him as Midgardian behavior was. The other texts remained around the book, still open, still haphazard and laying open so that he could reference them easily enough, because even if Loki was coming, Thor could no longer rely on him to give all those things that he needed to know. How he wished the opposite were true, but as the days spanned between Loki's betrayal and now, so did the rift between them.
Yet, the rift did not mean that Thor would give up the comforts of his own home. His armor remained off and Mjolnir was quiet on the floor. The skies above Asgard did not stir and rumble with thunderstorms to come, but remained clear as window glass to show off the heavens which the realm topped.
As soon as the notification came, Thor crossed the glossy black floor, etched knotwork in gray beneath his boots to open the door. There was no flowing cape behind him, that was with his armor in his bedroom, but like his friends and those closest to him, he wore the leather that they were so fond of relaxing in. The lacing at his throat was undone, the thongs hanging in long threads down his chest and, like he had on Midgard, his hair was pulled back to his nape and tied off.
Loki knew, full well, the risks he was running in coming to Asgard. After everything he'd done and all the things he yet planned to do, no one in the house of Odin had any real reason to allow him to enter without trapping him there permanently. He had his own ways of exit and egress, but it would be best if he did not purposefully push himself into a situation where they need be used - lately, walking in the places between fragments of light and moments in time had become more difficult, more a shove than an easy glide. It was one of the many reasons he wanted a close look at the book that Thor had mentioned. Its runes might mean nothing to Thor, but if it were ancient enough, they might have every significance for him. The Bifrost was a conduit of immense power, it always had been. If he could harness that power for himself, there would be no city, no culture, no realm that could withstand him. He would cover their women and children in the ash of their best warriors, and he would need only destroy one world before the rest would fall into line.
And even if such power remained inaccessible, learning how to rebuild the Bifrost would be knowledge worth having in and of itself. There was an academic curiosity at stake. The Bifrost's inner workings had remained a mystery to him all his life, through all his studies. If he could put its technology to use elsewhere, he could learn how to recreate the essential something that sparked that power into being, transfer whole armies from world to world, build an invasion force like no living creature had ever seen.
Potential. That was what the Bifrost represented to Loki. Potential, and power. There was a lesser goal to his visit, though. Any time he did anything, there were usually five or six angles and reasons behind it. It was a chance to waltz into the golden city free and clear, and embarrass his one-time brother with his presence. If anyone found out (and he would, of course, ensure they did) it would be scandal. The dangerous, insane criminal, the black sheep, allowed to enter Asgard, read long-forgotten, rare, dangerous books from Odin's library, and then leave? There would be an uproar.
Loki knocked at the door and waited for Thor to open it. Though he had yet to cross over, there was no mistaking who was currently in control. Louis had never awaited anything with that sort of sharp stare, and when the door opened, he crossed through immediately. There was no change in expression, just a change in facade. Loki's dark hair was much longer than it had been in the days when he lived in this palace, still kept close to his head, elegantly winged out at the back. He eschewed his armor as well, instead dressed in a mixture of leather and a light shirt of sage green fabric, the collar laced close around his neck, the sleeves stretching almost to his fingertips and traced with nearly invisible embroidered snakes. It wasn't what he would have worn while at home and working with his books, with still enough leather to serve as interim armor if guards stormed the room. It also wasn't what he would have worn when he still lived in Asgard, where the air almost never grew cold enough for him to feel it.
He looked Thor up and down before brushing past him, as if he was counting and cataloguing his body parts, ensuring they were all still in place with a mechanical efficiency. "You look well," he said, taking in the books on the table and the lack of guards in the room. They must be close by, though - Thor wasn't a fool. Or, he was, but not in every single regard.
Loki slowed to a stop near the table, his attention drawn to the wide, open balcony, and to the city beyond. The light that poured through the windows gilded the room, warm and red-gold. And the city beyond -
Loki afforded himself all he could, all that the tiny, light-blind thing in his soul could be allowed, stretching desperately for illumination. He looked down past the balcony to the city. He saw the bright buildings, the distant movement of people, the wink of sun off glass and metal. He smelled the drift of sweet smoke and good ale, cooking oil, fires, and growing things. He blinked, and he thought he could even smell the apples in Idunn's orchard. It was too far away for that to be real - his imagination, or a mechanism of the witch to taunt him. The clear, colored sky had the cast of the edge of a golden wine-bowl. His expression went vague, impossible to read.
This brief exposure to those sights and smells filled him like a cup to the brim, and then he turned from it, abruptly, dashing that sensation to the ground again. It was no longer for him, this place. One day, it would be his again, but on his own terms. Not like this, a slave to idiot nostalgia for something that he had only ever really borrowed. He had no home, and the siren call of this world was just that, sweet and tempting and deathly.
Loki sat on the bench before the book. "I do so love it when something escapes your capability to smash and beat your problems into submission, and I must be called," Loki said, looking up at Thor. "Did you try consulting the scribes? What did they have to say?"
"Your hair is longer," Thor replied, the mechanical look resembling the one that the Jotun King Loki had given him once. This one was different, too perfunctory, too quick like the touch of healers compared to the lingering touch of someone that wanted to feel. It made the skin between his shoulder blades itch.
The last time that Loki had been here (or the last time that Thor knew of) his brother had gone to his personal chambers and destroyed them. The walls blackened by fire, but the entire place smelt of ice and death, and the cold barren emptiness that he had always associated with Jotunheim. He would not, and did not, begrudge Loki a glance out over their home. And it was theirs, no matter what sharply wrought denials he could make, not when Thor knew that his brother desired to return here most of all, but as its King.
That was another problem he had no answer for and the solution would be found in no book located on any realm. One of them would have to give and Thor would not willingly betray his home any more than Loki would give up his dream of ruling it. And no, he did not consider this a betrayal of Asgard. His personal guards knew who was in his room and those men that made up his council knew that he was bringing Loki here and for what purpose. If anything were to happen, he would not leave them unknowing and unprepared for whatever scheme Loki planned.
The Bifrost must be rebuilt. If it required whatever secrets Loki had winding around his cranium, then it would be done. He waited until Loki sat before he joined him on the bench, straddling it instead of sitting as one would for a meal. "Yes. It requires a seiðkona or a seiðmenn to remove the enchantment that renders it unreadable. They did not know who would be able to read it once it was broken." Had Freyja or Odinn been available, he would have curried their favor for reading the tome, but without them, the strongest seiðr worker he knew was sitting a few scant inches from his knee.
"There are some runes I can tell." Reaching over, he opened the book, his thick fingers not lingering on the pages. "That is Gungnir," he said, pointing. "And that is cube. Bridge. Bifrost appears later." Out of all the runes on the pages, he knew only what four of them were and the rest appeared only as sprawling nonsense to him. There was no blow he could deliver with Mjolnir to read what remained.
Once Loki had laid eyes on the tome, Thor's words continued on and then slowly faded into background noise. His slid his slim fingers across the page. Yes, this book hummed with the kind of power that only someone with real power could apply. Odin, if he guessed right. It had undoubtedly come from his library, after all, and he had never seen the book despite the countless hours he had spent there. Odin must have hidden it well, not wanting his inquisitive adoptive son to find it in the stacks. Loki had been forced to learn his own way to travel, to find alternatives that would allow him the sort of freedom he craved. This magic, this formula to run the bifrost, had always been a mystery. Loki loved illuminating the unknown almost as much as he loved to cast darkness, obfuscate, and confuse.
He flipped the book shut and threw up a cloud of dust. It was heavy, bound in leather, the pages well-scraped vellum, smooth and creamy yellow like old ivory. It could take any punishment he dished out, and then some. If his assumptions were correct, he could blast the thing with balefire hot enough to outburn a sun, and it wouldn't so much as smoke.
His thumb found a small divot in the surface of the leather, near one of the corners, and he narrowed his gaze. He pressed his thumb into it, and it threw up tiny gold sparks for just an instant. Loki yanked his hand back, sharply, and almost put his burned thumb to his mouth before he remembered where he was. Instead, he scowled at the book and iced his thumb with a light rub of the fingers of his other hand. Stupid. "I need steel," he said, looking up at Thor. For a moment, all the distance and the hatred disappeared, and Loki just looked at his brother as someone who could help him solve this problem, the person he had been to him, once upon a time. For the moment, cracking the book and scooping out the meat of the knowledge it contained took precedence over everything else. "A sheet, just about the size of this cover. As thin as you can find."
Loki was not the only one to flinch when gold sparks showered from the book, but Thor reached for his brother instead, arm sliding around his waist and ready to pull him back should it continue. When it did not, he released his brother, eyes narrowed at the tome that contained more than he thought. Magic books were not his realm, nor his interest and while he had no idea what Loki was doing, he knew that Loki knew what must be done. It was one of the few areas were Thor still trusted his brother without reservation. His gaze left the book to fall upon his brother, a moment's consideration given to what Loki needed before he nodded, little more than a sharp jerk of his head. It had been too long since he had been on the receiving end of that particular look and he fell into the rhythm of the exchange as if he had never missed a step. Loki required; he would provide.
The tome received one more tight-eyed look as he stood and went to the door. What Loki required was not something that The guards were there, but Thor did not call upon them, but instead to one of the passing pages. "Go to the smithy. I require a sheet of steel, this long and this high," he said, measuring out the size with his hands. "As thin as they can make it." It was possible that one was already made, but Thor could not be entirely sure. Most of their metal work went into weapons, some into jewelry, and some into the making of wares. "And in all haste," he told the boy, who gave him one of those tight nods before running down the hallway.
Sure that he would do his task, Thor closed the door and turned back to Loki. Even if the blacksmith had to hammer out a sheet, it would not take long. And even if it did, they had already waited over a year to have the Bifrost remade. They could wait longer. "Is there more that you have need of?"
Loki looked over the cover of the book, then turned toward Thor, linking his fingers and stretching out his arms. "Not just yet," he said, still thoughtful. "You were right, I cannot read the runes until I unbind the text, but a few did remain recognizable. I have a guess as to how it might be done, but there is no way to be sure yet. Someone did not want it to be read." The last was said with a little irony. They both knew who was responsible for the heavy seal on this book.
Loki pushed up and away from the bench. No sense in sitting there when he couldn't touch the book until the boy brought back a guard for his fingers. He walked around the edge of the table, looking toward the door Thor had called the page from. It felt so strange to be here now. Once, he had walked into this very room as if he belonged there. The burnished, golden walls, the heavy table, the view of the city and the fields beyond, all had felt to him as natural as the wine in their cups. Now he felt like an anachronism, a beating heart of darkness in this golden place. There was a wrongness to his presence, and now that he could see it for what it really was, an elaborate, glittering facade. He knew the truth of this place, now, and the people who lived in it. He knew its machiavellian realities. He knew its lies, and the ways it pretended to be the civilized center of the nine realms and yet was so much like all the rest. "The guards," he said, looking toward the door. "They know that I am here?" He turned back, looking at Thor, a brow raised. "And if I were to try to leave?"
Thor knew why it had been sealed the way it did, but no one had ever expected Loki to use the Bifrost as a weapon and for Thor to destroy it before the bridge stayed open long enough to destroy Jotunheim. However, he did not correct Loki, but simply watched him move around his quarters. Once he had belonged here. If Thor had his way, he would again, but he knew there were many steps between here and there and that number grew daily.
"Yes," he answered simply enough. "They will come only if bid. Or if you were to attempt to leave." That had been their arrangement. Thor might give him knowledge, plead for his help, but Loki would have to give more if he wanted free run of Asgard. He moved away from the door, his steps as heavy as ever as he returned to the table and the bench opposite the one that they had been sitting on previously. "If you were to try, they would detain and imprison you." Thor did not specify where or how, as it was not in his nature. "There you would remain until I came to release you or your þing." The sentencing that Loki had brought up, the imprisonment that he was so sure that Thor would deal him would be dealt. It was not an outcome that Thor wanted, but one that he was prepared for nonetheless.
"Of course," Loki said. That was no surprise at all. "Or they would try to," he said, head lowered, smiling only to himself. "And no one wants that." Loki, of course, would never allow such a thing. To be imprisoned would mean being thrown at the mercy of Asgardian judgement, a jury of wise men who had decided long ago that they knew what he was. It would be more a lynching than a trial, and whatever punishment he was sentenced to would be tempered only by Thor’s voice, seeking amnesty for promises of turning a new leaf. As if anyone would believe Loki were he to do such a thing.
Loki turned back toward his brother, green eyes that burned like low embers settling on him. "What use does the bifrost have for you?" he asked. Curiosity was creeping in, now. He hadn't bothered to ask when Thor had mentioned his project, but it seemed a relevant enough question. "The doors allow us egress and entry, back and forth." The curious curl of his mouth warped up into a smirk. "Is it for the armies of Asgard? Do you have some long-suppressed intention to rule your precious Midgard? ...no, that wouldn't be your way." Disappointingly. "For defense, then, I assume? In case you need to bring the full might of Asgard against some...threat on Midgard?" There, he felt, he'd hit on it, and he raised a brow.
Those eyes now were not lit by madness, but by curiosity and a greed for knowledge that Thor had never shared. While Loki was correct: the door allowed him to move across all Nine Realms, it allowed only him. "War will come. If not to Midgard, there are seven other realms which may call upon us to join them. I would not have them wait." He did not want to wait until that request came to attempt a rebuilding of the Bifrost. There was no way of knowing how long it would take, not until they opened the book that remained stubbornly shut on the table.
His eyes moved to it before they moved back to his brother, taking in the long hair, the green tunic that softened the color of his eyes. "Midgard is still under my protection. If they had need of the full might of Asgard, we would come to her defense." It hadn't been done in many long centuries, but Thor would not hesitate. Nor, as he had learned from his father, would he be so eager as to seek out war. But when it came, they would be ready.
Beyond the desire to move the armies easily through any of the realms though, was the desire to return something to the people of Asgard. He and the Warriors Three were not the only ones to use it and there did exist trade between Asgard and Vanaheim, even Nidavellir. "The people would see it remade. I will not see them suffer for our lack of care."
"Ah, yes," Loki said, and turned away, moving toward the open balcony doors, "It isn't much of an empire if you can't police your sovereign states, is it?" His fingers clung to the edge of the glass, as he watched the low sunlight glinting off rooftops and metal archways, leaping out from the side of the castle like arcs of light. They were high enough up that he would be nothing more than a shadow in the doorway to the people below. Much as things had been once upon a time, when he had thought he belonged in this place - just a hovering, indistinct dark shape, nothing more.
Now, no one would ever call it an 'empire', per se, but it was hardly a secret that Asgard's benevolence was one of the few things that prevented its armies from taking over all the rest of the nine realms. Rulership through deference, perhaps. Even those that hated them knew what had happened to the Frost Giants, and did not toy with Asgardian might. Not openly, anyway. "Or begin taking other realms for their own," Loki said, to Thor's insistence they ought not have to wait. He could see someone riding down the road beside the palace, within the walls, on horseback. They were little more than a speck from the balcony. He idly considered changing his eyes to a hawks’, to see who was riding in, but then they passed beneath the balcony and out of sight.
Loki lifted his head, still facing the view, and was silent for a long moment. Then, "Has Frigga come?" he asked, turning his head slightly. "To the door, I mean, to this place." His tone was measured. Why did he bother to ask? He had not seen her writing in the journals, had no reason to expect her. And still. Standing here in the castle again made him think of her, made him wonder.
There was a tilt and a bob of Thor's head, a nod to say that Loki was correct. All other realms save for Midgard knew what it meant when rainbow light cracked the sky like an egg and dropped Asgardians like yolks. And even Midgard was beginning to remember again.
Subterfuge had never been one of his skills. Once he would have declared his presence simply to do so, because he had been brash and arrogant, sure of his own superiority. Thor was no less sure now, but declaring oneself was the honest thing to do. It needled him when he could, or would not do so. But those times were long past and saved only in their memories.
"Nearly a year ago. I have not seen her since." Neither on the journals or here in Asgard, and Thor doubted that she would hide her presence if she had visited either place. It did not surprise him that Loki asked after her. Of their parents, Frigga had always been the warmer one, far more likely to accept any child into her care, even one born of her husband and another woman as Thor was or a Jotun child, abandoned to cold wastelands and brought back as a fosterling. As for the woman that gave birth to him, Thor had never met Gaea.
There was another moment of silence before he stood and followed Loki to the edge of his balcony and glanced out across the city and the mountains in the distance. Clouds hung on the horizon and it took little more than a thought to direct them north where their bounty was needed. That done, Thor leaned against one pillar to watch the lights flicker and waken in the city as day moved to night. "Nor anyone else save for Fandral." Not Heimdall, Odin, Baldr, Tyr, Hogun, Sif, or Volstagg. He would have welcomed seeing any of them, but he still hoped, especially since now was the first time he had seen Fandral, that he would see them all again.
Loki felt Thor's presence without needing to turn. Over the years, he had grown so used to Thor's presence beside him that it took no magic, no second thought to tell when he had sidled up next to him. Like a phantom limb, these things did not fade, even after he cut them off. He watched the clouds scud away across the horizon with vague interest. He had never had the talent for weather that Thor did, for all his skill in magic. The winds did not listen without him bending all his thoughts to them, and the clouds would not turn his way. Of the elements, only ice had ever come to him naturally, and fire. Fitting enough.
"I did speak with him, briefly," Loki said, eyes flickering across the darkening sky. "Shockingly, he seemed...disinterested in renewing our relationship." He smiled a little to himself, and watched a flock of birds burst from the side of the palace in a concerted stroke up into the sky, swerving almost as one body. It surprised him little that Frigga has not come back. No one, it seemed, came to this strange, halfway, alternate version of home willingly. Better for her to stay where she was, anyway. What must she and Odin be doing, now, with no sons underfoot, no heir apparent at their side?
Loki moved away from the balcony, then, out of its broad shaft of light and into the growing shadows near the end of the table. "If I help you do this, will you tell your people how it was done?" he asked, eyes glinting.
Some rhythms were as old as they were, their paths having been followed for centuries. Thor did not need to look to know when Loki moved away, but stayed where he was, framed by the setting sun. "What does he last remember of you?" Thor asked. He did not fault Fandral, as he would not fault any of the Warriors Three or Sif. As often as Thor had them all at his side, he knew now that he couldn't force them together. They would go no more than Loki would.
At the next question, Thor turned, still leaning against the same column, only this time he was facing inwards instead of out. "Yes." Did the answer require more than that? Thor had no intentions of hiding Loki's help in it – just the opposite in fact. One day Loki would be brought forth to face punishment for his crimes. If there was anything that Thor could use in Loki's defense, he would, including whatever assistance Loki provided in rebuilding the Bifrost. It may be enough of a reparation for that to no longer be a charge against him. It was not take back all he had done, but even a small something could help.
"They will know of your part in it." And regardless if it would help Loki in the eyes of their people, it was not in Thor's nature to take praise for something someone else had done, not even when that someone else was Loki. "I would not take that from you."
"I have no idea," said the trickster, looking down at the book. "I assumed he remembered everything. Does he not?" If Fandral did not, indeed, know of what he had done, the situation could prove interesting indeed. All would rely on what Thor was willing to say, and in what light he portrayed his brother's actions. But he got ahead of himself - there was no way to know, just yet.
When Thor protested that he would not take anything from Loki, Loki looked up, expression flashing with bitter amusement. "No?" His expression was all open hostility and incredulous amusement. No, he was Thor. He had no idea why what he said was a thousand miles from the truth, no real concept of how much he had taken from him already.
But Thor was saved any more words on the subject by the abrupt arrival of the page, carrying a freshly quenched piece of glittering steel, so beautiful in craftsmanship even as a utilitarian object that it could only have come from the royal forge. The boy stopped cold two steps inside the doorway, the moment he laid eyes on Loki. His mouth drifted open, and his eyes went to Thor for some indication of how he ought to respond. Then he tentatively approached the thunderer, and handed over the piece of plate with a bow, clearly trying to save face without meeting Loki's eyes or saying a word.
It had been a few months at least since Loki openly confused Thor, but the hostility in his brother's face at that simple question baffled him. "No," he answered, bewilderment in his voice, in the drawing together of his brows.
It smoothed slightly as the page entered the room. A mop of brown hair, arms and legs as ungainly as a newborn calf. "Thank you, Bjorn," Thor said as he took the sheet from the young man. "That is all," he added, dismissive and saving the boy from having to address Loki at all. When the young man stopped, seemingly frozen and staring at his brother, Thor repeated it again and handed the sheet over to Loki. That seemed to galvanize the boy into giving a rough bow before he hurried from the room. Of that interchange, Thor said nothing but settled once more onto the bench, straddling it as he had done before.
"I do not know what Fandral remembers." When they had spoken, it had been about other things, and that seemed less important than the other things they had discussed. "And no, I would not." There were many things that Thor was capable of, but he had never taken something from Loki that he believed rightfully belonged to his brother.