Who: Valki What: The hunting and drinking expedition no one wants to be on. Where/When: Vanaheim, during the dusting. Rating/Warning: Green
The afternoon's hunt on Vanaheim went well and was swift. Between himself and Valkyrie, using his magic to track their quarry, they needed only an hour to gather enough game to have a fine feast at home on Midgard. Elk, rabbit,and a few pheasants, all of which were tucked away in Loki's magical pocket space between things. And within that space was the Tesseract. Bound to him by Stephen Strange, unable to free it or use it without Thor's word, and the weight of a universe felt as though it was going to crush him from every angle until his bones were ground to dust.
He wasn't sure why that was happening. It worsened over the past week, greater and greater each day. By Sunday morning, his movements were taking greater effort, it felt like he was slogging through a marsh during a rainy season. And while he kept up with Valkyrie as much as he could, he still lagged just slightly behind.
"Lack of rest," he claimed. And he claimed it again as they sat in the tavern house of an idyllic village situated at the edge of a deep green forest. His elbow was on the table, his chin in hand, and he was dressed in his leather armor, cape draped down off the side of the chair he was sitting upon. He looked every bit the bored prince, but inside he was tired and somehow strangely happy. Valkyrie forgave him for lying about his death, about not telling her. Hunting was always a great way to make up for it, even if it was what he considered an idle and dirty pursuit.
Their drinks finished, he had ordered another round and the tavernkeep approached with the mugs in hand.
"Here you are, your highness and milady," the bearded man said in a jovial voice, putting the drinks down on the table just as his fingers began to crumble around the handles. "What in the Helheim....?!"
Loki's mouth was open to offer their gratitude. He never made a noise. Instead, he sat up straight as the man's hands began to disintegrate, his horrified stare meeting the man's eyes as the body broke apart into ashen pieces. It landed with an almost silent fwoomp by the table, dusting their boots and the edge of the table with his remains.
All around them, one by one and with the occasional noise of shocked surprise or shieking terror, half of the occupants of the tavern crumbled. The room was thick with the rising dust of people that once were and Loki was left staring, utterly speechless. His silver tongue was frozen like cold steel in his mouth.
The remaining living people were deathly quiet. It was so quiet at that moment, it could be easily heard when Loki's tongue finally loosened. He whispered to Val with great solemnity, "He's on my boots."
Because priorities. Or horrified shock. Actually? It was equal parts of both. And Loki was suddenly numbed by it all and what this might mean.
“He’s in my beer.” Was all she could muster. Naturally.
Her eyes scanned the tavern, breath quickening in her chest as she slid out of their booth and stood. “Loke, we gotta go.” Reaching for his arm, her other fingers slid around the handle of her sword, preparing at any moment for chaos to override the shock everyone was feeling.
Val could not afford another moment of hesitation, slipping Loki out the tavern door and into the outside air. “What the fuck just happened in there?” She said, looking at him. “Is this, Loki is this what Thor-...” She paused, her entire body freezing in the chilly forest air. The fog starting to envelope them as other patrons from the tavern began to filter out, some wailing and crying, or simply too shocked to make a noise.
“Thor…” Her voice was soft before she turned to face Loki, whipping him to face her. “Thor.” She repeated, knowing he would understand her alarm. “Send me to him, now. You must go find Darcy.” Her heart was racing and her breathing was heavy, panic starting to set in.
It took time for his magically boosted cellphone to get any sort of signal from Midgard. Vanaheim was several tiers higher on Ygdrassil, and so he heard what Valkyrie was saying - distantly, as from afar - and checked his Starkphone when it buzzed a network alert.
He read the words and saw Darcy's post, and his heart skipped a beat, and sank as fast as it had taken the tavern-keep to drop into a pile of dust.
Everything changed. The ominous pressure was no longer heavy upon him, he felt lighter all of a sudden, in a way that made him feel different, almost as though he could swoon. Valkyrie was telling him what to do, and he knew he should act, but he could not.
If half of those in the universe were now gone, that might make it easier for Thanos to find him now, even with additional Eldritch shielding from Stephen Strange. Strange's network post was truncated. Loki still had a stone. It was stuck on him, with no way to retrieve it on his own. Not even to save anyone.
Thor. His mother. Darcy.
He must act. The fear was all but clotting the blood in his veins to a standstill, and further inaction was not going to avail anyone. He quickly popped off a message to all three and nodded, grabbing hold of her arm by the elbow to lead them into the forest to open a path.
"I must leave you where Jane Foster is," Loki said, and he was certain he could get her close by the Lady Jane's apartment. Close enough that Valkyrie could find it. "I know you will protect him and his lady love. I will see to Darcy and my mother. We should meet where...their captain has ordered us all to Stark's. Thor would know the way, but I will answer to my brother first on what should be done."
He used his magic to open that path, a stable one that he used many times before, which branched off once to Asgard. That branch was now a dead end.
"Ready?" he asked. "I am throwing you out near Thor, or as close as I can sense him with a spell."
And he meant that in the most literal sense too.
She could see the wheels in his head spinning and for a moment she wanted to shake him awake. He needed to magic, now, but she waited. Loki was too smart to panic. And just like she knew he would, he recovered as quick as he had gone from her momentarily.
“I’ll find them. Just do it, Loke.” Bracing herself, she nodded at her friend, reaching out to touch his shoulder momentarily. “I will see you at the Stark.” She crouched, preparing herself already for a hard landing, one hand gripping her sword still while the other clasped her Valkyrie cape around her. Please let him be okay. Please let them all be okay.
"I shall hold you to that, Brunn."
Loki opened the path and lured them through it, along the trunk and branches of Yggdrasil, the same paths he learned to tread with great practice so he might move unseen and unheard from Asgard and Jotunheim. The space was thick with heavy grey fog, impossible to see through for those untrained. It felt thick and damp on the skin in that space behind the scene of things. It smelled of old forest, of decomposing leaves, resin, and wet moss.
It was over as fast as they entered, even though it was a great trek between the two places. True to his word, Loki reached an opening and threw Valkyrie out through it, out onto the street of a city in panic. Cars were crashed, people screaming, and alarms blaring. And she, with no direction, was all alone.
It was often that way with tricksters. You love to hate them and hate to love them.