|Ben Sorenson (agoodman) wrote in doorslogs,|
@ 2013-05-29 02:18:00
|Entry tags:||door: marvel comics, loki, thor|
Who: Loki and Thor
What: Rebuilding the Bifrost pt 2
Loki moved over to the book again, and sat down in front of it, casting the exiting page a parting glance. Ah, if he had more time here...but no, there would be no chance to entertain himself with petty toying with the poor creature. The low burn of hate in his chest was so ever present that he hardly even noticed when it flared. The boy's reaction had hardly been shocking, anyway. He knew how he was seen, here. He knew what they thought of him, and he did not care.
Loki restrained an audible snort at the idea Thor would take nothing from him, and he instead busied himself with carefully aligning the sheet of metal over the book. That done, he began to trace across its surface again, starting with the spot where he had burned his finger before.
With the metal between his fingers and the book, the heat created a visible red glowing spot that Loki could ice over without burning himself or damaging the book in a way that would render the seal inoperable. He traced a glittering line of ice across the plate, smothering a trail of scarlet that raced just ahead of his fingers. As he followed the line with ice, quenching its path, an elaborate rune took shape.
Loki stood up from the bench, lifting his hand off the sheet of metal, his attention now completely absorbed by the book. His palm hovered over the metal's surface, and he seemed not to even notice that manipulating ice cold enough to combat the heat of the binding on the book had turned his hand blue, trickling down from his fingers in threads like ice water. He had never seen a binding quite like this one. It wasn't as difficult to break as he might have expected, however, which led him to believe that whatever the book's instructions were, they likely required enough work to make a secondary deterrent to anyone interested in a bifrost of their own.
There were a few long minutes of tension where Loki held utterly still, and the air around the book began to waver, and the edges of the metal began to smoke impossibly, curls of blue that met the throat and nose with a shock of ozone. His eyes were shut, his jaw set tight. He looked as if a hurricane might hit the room, and he wouldn't feel the slightest hint of a breeze. It was a focus complete enough to frighten, as it had when he was young and he'd been caught experimenting, once or twice, the same focus he applied to his reading, hearing nothing and sensing nothing around him. It was the intensity of one who could turn that same heightened focus on the smallest of things and work them into the grandest of insults.
Then Loki pulled his hand away, and said the basest word of unbinding that he knew. The metal snapped up almost instantaneously, away from the book, crunching and twisting and bending and screeching until it had taken on the shape of the rune that had been scrawled on its surface in heat and ice.
And then, with a small warp of lost energies, it dropped. Loki caught it one handed and tossed it to the side. It clattered across the ground, nothing more than a warped sheet of metal, and Loki flipped the book open as if nothing at all unusual had occurred - all in a day's work.
Over the years, Thor had seen Loki work his magic more times than he could count, but few were the times when he's seen his brother concentrate as he had now. He knew it was not beyond Loki, but it was still watching a master of craft at work and he knew better than to ever interrupt a Master at their work. For that reason alone, Thor was silent, neither word nor sound slipping out of him as Loki did his work. Not even the shift of his normally pale skin to Jotun blue earned the slightest bit of unease from Thor.
He had seen his brother stripped to the waist, eyes crimson, the whorls and designs of his heritage set deep into Loki's Jotun skin. Seeing his hand turn blue now was little compared to that, and as he had not shied from the former, the latter was no hardship to see.
It wasn't until the book was cracked open, runes splayed and visible that Thor leaned in closer, his nose nearly at Loki's shoulder as he attempted once more to read it. More words were visible to him now: Odin. Asgard. Midgard. Yggdrasil. But the harder he tried to make any sense of them, the more they seemed to flee his understanding until he leaned back entirely to study Loki instead. "Can you read it?"
Loki flipped through the pages until he found the passage he wanted. The first few sections related the history of the bifrost, and its use, and that the nature of the volume was to preserve the ancient process used to create it in case anything were to happen to it in the distant future. Well, here they were, with non-functional bifrost whose destruction had thrown him into the abyss of space.
He stiffened a little at that memory but kept paging through. Belatedly, he responded to Thor. "I can." As if that hadn't been evident from his obvious perusal of the tome. There. The page he wanted. He pressed the book flat and began to read the large runes. "We will need Gungnir," he said first, gesturing to a rune on the page. He continued to read, scanning for relevant information amongst the elaborate protocol that the book insisted should be observed, were the reconstruction of the bifrost to be made a public ceremony. As if Loki would be observing protocol.
Then his eyes stilled, hovering on a single rune. His face, however, did not twitch. "The cube of power, as well," he said, glancing to Thor. "From the vaults."
Both declarations were met with nods of Thor's head. He knew Gungnir would be required, as well as the cube that sat dormant within the vault, his own research had indicated that much. The same vault held Loki's staff, but Thor did not mention this -- though if he was asked, he would have said as much.
"What else?" Less of a demand, it was a query so that he could prepare whatever else might be needed for its reconstruction. For all the research that he had done, long hours spent within dusty tomes when he wanted nothing more than answers, very little was mentioned on what was needed for its creation and the exact details of such were in the same book Loki now read.
Loki turned the page. The runes there were occasionally inked in red to increase their potency and highlight the most important parts of the ritual, taking the form of blazing scarlet highlights on the page. "The ritual requires a seiðmaðr," he said, eyes still scanning the page. His face split into a sneer as he read. "And someone with the right to rule this world. And they cannot be the same person." Loki's lips pursed. "It makes one wonder who penned this helpful little tome."
Loki splayed a hand across the page, running his fingers over the runes. In an instant, a silvery flicker of light highlighted a few larger runes, embedded in the page, waiting to be activated by a spell worker. "Impressive security," he said. "The runes were embedded in the parchment itself. No easy feat." He tapped the page. "These are the words of the ritual itself. The words I must say. You will bring Gungnir with you, and your right to rule. I know the weight of it will be immense to walk with all that way, but I think you will manage, somehow."
Loki stepped away from the book. "I will collect the cube from the vaults, and my staff." No, he hadn't asked. But Thor had said in the past that he was in possession of Loki's most treasured belonging, and there was only one place in the palace where it might reasonably be kept, out of sight, hidden away and its power locked in, much as he had once been in this place.
There was no comment about the weight of it -- a weight that Thor had bore since he had come back to Asgard and found it devoid of Odin. Jests could be made about the weight of it and had he been asked several years ago, Thor would have agreed to their humor. Now he knew better.
"Nay," Thor said. There were too many things within the Vault that Loki could use, and more still which he could hide in places that Thor could not see. And that was if he made it inside -- the guards had standing orders not to allow Loki within. "I will bring the cube to the bridge." As for Loki's staff, Thor recognized it for what it was. It wasn't something that Thor wanted to return to his brother, but there were no other seiðmaðrs which could do this. Amongst the Vanir there might be those willing and capable, but Thor would not ask it of them.
And all too well, he knew what it was like to be separated from the weapon of his choosing. Even now, he could feel where Mjolnir lay dormant on the floor, some feet behind him and to his right. Was it right to deny Loki the same? Even when his father had cast him out of Asgard, he had allowed that one loophole that would return Mjolnir and his home to him. He could do no less for Loki. "We will discuss the terms of your staff's return to you once the Bifrost is mended."
Loki turned back and stared at Thor when he was refused. His eyes were stony, mouth set but not turned down. The rejection was hardly surprising, just another slap in the face. He had given Thor no reason to trust him, of course, but without the permission of Asgard's king, getting into the vault would be a tricky thing indeed. The ways he had led the Jotunn just years ago (and how it weighed like a thousand) into the vault were closed up now, sealed then by an angry and fearful Odin.
Then again, Loki had never been fond of asking permission for anything. It would be all the sweeter to retrieve his staff on his own power. "If it is mended," Loki said, "We will have much to discuss." That was a promise. He strode toward the exit, to go out to the Bifrost and await the materials he would need. "Perhaps, one day, I will tell you precisely what I paid for it."
Failure to mend the Bifrost with all that they had done, with the spell and the knowledge laid before them, never occurred to Thor. They would succeed. Failure was not worth thinking about, nor considering, but he stopped Loki with a hand on his arm before he opened the door to leave his chambers. Even with Thor sitting inside, had Loki left on his own, they would have stopped and detained him.
Opening the door for his brother, he addressed the guards first. "Loki is to be taken to the Bifrost. I will meet you there." After receiving their nods that they understood, he released his brother so that he could leave. As the guards went right down the hallway, he went to the left, but not before summoning Mjolnir back to his grasp. Not that he worried about an attack within in his own home, within these same halls where his footsteps had echoed since they were naught more than the pitter patter of bare feet.
Now they were the solid thud of grown, booted feet. He still said his greetings and nodded his head to those that he knew as he moved through the halls towards the vault. As always there were two gold cloaked Asgardians standing outside the closed doors. They both nodded to him before the doors opened. On either side, within the chamber itself, were two more guards, both cloaked in the same yellow gold as the two outside. Thor nodded to them as well before he descended the stairs.
Loki's staff rested where once Mjolnir did. The far end was no longer lit by the glowing Casket and the pedestal it rested on once was dark. Past the relics of the realms he strode, until he stopped before the cube. Held within a cylinder, Thor tucked the handle of Mjolnir into his belt to lift it up by the handles on both ends. It remained docile inside, slowly swirling blue and white. This had to be done.
Holding it tight by one handle, he went back up the stairs, nodding to both sets of guards before he left for Hliðskjálf where Gungnir rested. While it was Odin's staff and conferred kingship of Asgard, it was not Thor's weapon. It remained where the people would see it most -- the throne. More greets were left, more nods made, until it too was in his possession. Mjolnir thumped against his thigh as he strode from the Citadel and to the Bifrost. Once Heimdall's observatory marked the end, now it was only marked by jagged pieces that still chimed and flared with every step.
Thor's hand on his arm made Loki stop short and bristle, but listening to him instruct the guards on where to take him just made him smirk. He wasn't a prisoner, or so Thor said, but here he was, to be 'escorted' to the ruined Bifrost with an armed guard. Ah well. 'Not to be trusted' might as well have been his motto.
He walked with the guards down a dozen glittering staircases, past gaping palace servants and a few residents who looked away as quickly as they caught his eye. When they reached the streets, the guards parted crowds around their escort, crowds who, as soon as they caught sight of the man being walked through, gave their party a wide berth. There were a few short shouts, and one brief interlude with a man who tried to stick out his leg to trip the trickster as he walked past. Loki stepped nimbly over, moving past, muttering under his breath.
The man would be blind within the week. Not forever. Just long enough to teach him a lesson in respect.
The crowds whispered and murmured over what would bring the traitor into their city in any state other than in chains, and when he was seen moving toward the Bifrost there was true alarm in the populace. But the guards gave no answers to their questions, and soon they left the city behind, stepping out onto the Bifrost.
The guards left him there, at the edge of the world, and stood guard where the bridge met Asgardian soil. Loki stayed behind, alone at the ragged, sparkling, crystalline edge. He looked down at his feet, and noted that he was standing with the tips of his boots just over the edge. He hadn't even noticed. He looked down, into the void through which he had fallen all that time ago, and saw a thousand worlds, a thousand stars, reduced to pinpricks. He saw the longest fall, the wrenching drop without end.
He only turned from the view when he heard the faint pinging of the bridge under walking feet, and he turned, regarding Thor as he approached with Gungnir and the cube in hand. He felt the stirring of covetousness. The cube represented unimaginable power and resources. Gungnir represented the kingship he was denied, given to him when that spear had been pressed into his hands. Now both lay with Thor.
"You will be pleased to hear that there was much rejoicing as I passed through the streets," he said, wry as ever, and extended a hand. "The tesseract?"
In the days following Loki's fall, Thor had returned to this same spot, without Gungnir or the cube and sometimes even without Mjolnir in his hand or at his hip. Heimdall had stood here then and Thor always asked about the same two beings: Loki and Jane. Of Loki, Heimdall could provide no answer and of Jane, the answer was always the same. In his darkest hours, he had wanted the opposite to hold true, but it never did. Loki was lost and Thor was lost to the mortal woman who had captured his attention on Midgard. A slow blink freed him from those thoughts.
Thor made no comment about the people rejoicing as Loki moved through the streets. It was not worth what would follow after. Wordlessly, Thor held out the free end of the container to Loki. One twist would unlock the Tesseract's power and send them hurtling to whatever destination that Thor had bene think of when he activated it. A twist in the opposite direction would open the cylinder and allow for its removal.
There were no warnings, no threats of what would happen should Loki use this for his own purposes instead of why Thor brought him here. There was no promise of dashing his skull with Mjolnir as one might crack a young coconut. For even without Mjolnir, there was still Gungnir in his grasp -- a weapon just as deadly if one could wield it. "What do you need me to do?"
Loki turned the vessel for the Tesseract, and for the cube he was all eyes. Its soft glow illuminated his fingertips as he reached in to remove it.
He could leave, now, run with the cube. And he would likely escape, too. The odds were in his favor. He knew more ways on and off this bridge than perhaps anyone, and as a place that had once been a conduit in and out of worlds it would be an easy thing to fall through one of those well-worn pathways. But he didn't. The only way to be sure that the thing in his hands was not laced with some old magical trap placed by Odin was to use it, to attempt mending the bifrost with it. And wouldn't it be so much more fun if he could get Gugnir in the bargain, as well? Even Thor could hardly stand up to the spear's power forever.
Loki took the cube in his hands. It practically sang with power, and his mind raced away on the possibilities of the many ways it might be used. "Stand at the edge," he said, looking up sharply. "Plant the spear in the bridge. I will stand beside you, and engage the ritual with a few choice words. After that, it should be as simple as waiting and watching."
The rapt look on Loki's face was not lost on Thor. Many wanted it for what it could do and others would have used it, not knowing the full consequences of its use. It was safest within the grip of Asgard's vault, where it could neither tempt nor be used for anyone's will. It was not safest within Loki's grasp, but there was little choice to be had. It must be done.
No threats fell from Thor's lips however as he moved to do what Loki said. For all the times that the comparison between Loki and a dog had been made, Thor was as unflinchingly obedient as his brother never was. Hefting up the spear that had always seemed to be both too light and too heavy within his grasp, lacking the heft of Mjolnir while conveying a greater power upon the bearer, he drove the end down into the jagged ends of the broken Bifrost.
One hand remained on the shaft, the other stretched slowly out to Loki as Thor's gaze left the jagged ends to meet his brother's. "Together, Loki." A faint smile curved his lips at the proverbial peace offering. "And let it be done."
The Tesseract, it seemed, could make almost anything happen. Well - perhaps not anything. But it was an object of practically unlimited capabilities, an engine of creation and destruction, of opening doorways both light and dark. Fitting indeed that it should be able to mend the Bifrost. It made Loki wonder if the bridge had been built using the Cube in its earliest days.
Loki looked at his brother's hand for a moment, and there was a flicker of suspicion there, naked, flat, and hunted. He thought of when he had hung from this bridge, and wondered if his brother would take him by the hand and hurl him off, try to be done with him forever. But no. Thor was loyal, too loyal, so loyal that he would not even mend his own problems with the natural, easy solution of killing them at the root.
In the end, he took his brother's hand, lifted the Tesseract, and simply let it go. It hovered where he had left it, without dropping, spinning lightly, free of gravity. He knew the words to the ritual. He had read them in the book. He had not mentioned to Thor what else would be required, since such things seemed irrelevant.
Thor's blood was proven by holding the spear - he need not prove it further. But the blood of the magic worker needed to be proven, so Loki dug into the base of his palm with a jagged nail, drawing blood. For an axe or a sword, it would not be so easy. Jotun, like Asgardians, had thick skins and dense bodies. On himself, it was as easy as a sharp drag of nail over flesh, and he pressed the open wound to the shaft of the spear.
A few drops of blood ran down the metal, and the Tesseract reacted immediately, spinning on a tilted axis until it hovered above the spear itself. Loki smiled, briefly. In this one thing, at least, his blood was good enough.
The words he spoke then meant nothing in the common tongue. They were too old for that. The runes that were written for them were sounds only, meaning lost to time. They likely meant something about opening, about breaching, about the building of a great door to slide open and shut at the will of the king, like the portcullis of a castle. The spear began to glow with heat, and the thin trails of blood vaporized into black, sinuous threads, gravitating toward and then surrounding the Tesseract.
The light increased, and then dropped, dramatically. It seemed all light was being pulled toward the spear and the cube, as if their surroundings were fading away entirely. Loki spoke faster, the same words again, focus fierce. Beyond, there was ringing - the bridge was mending, strip by strip of light, layering over each other in a cacophony of sound and color, faster and faster. Loki's hand on Thor's sparked with power, and Thor was a part of it too, conduit for the cube into the staff, lightning rod for its energies. Rightful royal as he was, that flow passed through him, harmless except for the charge and the sing of energy.
It was almost done. The bridge stretched out behind the spear, and a platform was forming. No more spinning machinery, no more piston firing off passengers. There would just be the doorway, pure power, heightened by the Tesseract, by the blood of kings, by the blood of one who had walked many paths beyond the gate.
And it was the perfect moment for Loki to take the Tesseract. When Thor would be at his most distracted. When the end was so very much in sight. When hope sang in Thor's heart to mend the broken symbol of a broken family. Loki couldn’t possibly let it be so easy.
It was all too simple to take those threads of his own blood, just dust, now, spinning around the Tesseract as it spun too, and yank the cube off its axis, disturbing the integrity of the spell. For a moment, the rod continued to tremble and sing like crystal, and the cube gently drifted toward Loki from its tip, and he could almost feel the cube in his hands.
What he did not account for was the direction of the energy. Once the circuit was disturbed and Loki took hold of the Tesseract with the power of his blood, there was only that brief moment to triumph before the immense power firing from the cube flipped from Thor to Loki. The flip was so sharp and so powerful that Loki didn't even have time to express surprise, or dismay, before it had run through him and ripped his hand from his brother's grasp, blasting him halfway down what remained of the bridge. He hit the ground, rolled over and over, and came to a stop just at the edge, half his body hanging over darkness, an unconscious heap.
The staff warped sharply, and the cube screamed without sound, and then light was restored and both dropped harmlessly flat on the bridge's surface.
Once, on a snowy eve, Thor had made the choice of Asgard over his brother, ignoring the pinch of his voice, the breaking crack that signalled a pitfall into madness for Loki.
The same decision was not made now. The Bifrost recreated, no longer requiring Heimdall's sword to activate. For a moment, there was only the pure, sharp, sweet joy of nature sliding back into Thor's world the way it belonged. The bridge once more spanning Yggdrasil, connecting Asgard to the rest of the worlds -- and then his brother's hand ripped from him. A scream he did not hear with his ears, but made him wince all the same.
What had Loki done?
The answer was not immediately apparent, nor immediately important once Thor saw the heap of his brother's body strewn down the bridge. Spear and cube clattered behind him, forgotten, ignored as his feet carried him to Loki's side. "What have you done?" He asked, voice barely more than a whisper as he rolled his brother over, one hand splaying across his chest to make sure he could still feel the steady rise and fall of his inhaled breaths. It was there, but there was none of the usual tension in Loki's body as pushed his hair back from his face. A much different face from the one he'd seen not minutes before, but one that was still known to him from centuries ago. "Loki," he murmured, head shaking as Thor lifted him up, one arm around his back and the other underneath his knees.
Let his brother complain later about how he was carried. Thor had no seidr with which to make a bower or a litter to carry him on. Guards came rushing down the Bifrost and Thor directed them to the tesseract as he lifted his brother from the glittering, chiming surface. Gungnir could not be wielded by anyone else -- he had no worries about that -- but the cube had to be returned to the vault. "Return it," was the only order he gave before he rolled Loki up and over his shoulder like a sack of vegetables.
Mjolnir came out of his belt then and with a starting swing, Thor shot into the air, arm wrapped around the back of Loki's legs to keep him safe and still on the way to the healing chambers. Let the healers assure him that Loki would be fine, that no damage -- beyond what he could see -- had occurred when he had done something so ambitiously stupid. "You reach too far, brother."