Hidden Within

Allegiance

Darcy clutched onto Adeline's arm, feeling vulnerable in the lack of light. "Maybe Jane forgot to pay the bill?"

Adeline shook her head. This didn't feel right. It was early morning, and the sky outside was dark and gloomy due to the chance of rain, causing the inside of the small cottage to fall completely, and utterly, pitch black, with only the faintest light from cracked windows. She stiffened, desperately holding onto the knowing feeling of Loki's presence beside her.

"Or someone wants to kill us." Adeline added, when Darcy squeezed tighter in anxiousness.

Her statement merely received a groan and Midgardian language, "Well, shit."

Loki finally made a noise, only to simply shush the two ladies standing partially behind him in the dark house.The three of them listened for any sort of movement. But there was nothing; a dog barked far off in the lonely neighborhood of cottages, and distant music could be heard echoing through the bustle of city life, along with horns and whistles. Adeline felt the tension emanating off of the man beside her, eager to protect those surrounding him from the caressing mystery of residing darkness.

And then, a voice.

"Loki Laufeyson?"It was deep and subtle and baritone, growing louder and louder in the emptiness of black lightened rooms.

Loki searched for Adeline, any part of her, just to know she was near him. He found her hand and gently pulled her farther behind his guarded stance."Who's asking?" He replied, his own voice threatening as it crept over the silence.

Finally Adeline heard a new noise, a sign that there was truly another being in the house, several other beings.It was the sound of crawling; the sound you would imagine a spider to make as it crawls along the side of the wall beside you, inching its way, clinging for life with each of its many thin legs; a sound almost as subtle as water dripping from a recently used tap, or fingernails clicking along a hard surface.Adeline bit her lip and waited.

"So sorry," The same voice erupted through the cottage, and the warrior found herself utterly frightened by the unknown.Suddenly, all the lights flickered on again and the being was revealed, facing them with a crude stare, and a scolding grin. "We do love to be dramatic."

Adeline blinked, adjusting her eyes to the sudden brightness. She stared down the stranger.

Tiefling. His crimson red skin glowed in the shimmering artificial light, and his horns looked utterly threatening, as their point glistened even brighter.His tail swished around behind him excitedly, as though it desperately craved action, with a mind of its own.

Adeline then glanced over at Loki. His face was drawn into a blank gaze and he seemed untouched by the presence before him.Darcy simply continued to suck the life out of Adeline's arm with her five, tightly folded, fingers.

"Who are you, what do you want?" Loki snapped, still holding his precious warrior behind him, and out of the Tiefling's clawed reach.

"One question at a time." The being smirked anxiously, his dark red eyes piercing Adeline's own gaze like a sharp, twisted spear.Loki scowled as the Tiefling cleared his throat, "The name is Rollnick, firsthand to Lord Gallien, king of the Tieflings and general of our steadily growing army."

Adeline continued to hear the same spidery noises surrounding her, and she knew they had to be surrounded. Slimy creatures. Sneaky and outright creepy.

"I presume you are Loki Laufeyson?" The being grinned, without much of a question in his tone of voice.

Loki nodded and raised his chin to stare down at the Tiefling with an enraged glare.

"And who is your lovely lady friend?" The Tiefling asked, smiling wickedly as he turned his gaze to Adeline.

Loki stiffened and reached out, placing a strong arm in front of the warrior and blocking off any connection the Tiefling might expect to approach her with.

Adeline sighed in relief at his action, and turned to the crimson tainted being. "Why is it any of your concern?"

The Tiefling grinned steadily and chuckled under his breath, simply shrugging off the rude outburst.

"I'm Darcy Lewis." A frail, yet still utterly confident, voice chirped from behind Adeline's stance; the same small mortal who gripped onto her now throbbing arm. Adeline winced but allowed it to happen."In case anyone cares." Darcy added and sunk back into the Asgardian warrior's shadow again.

Loki stepped in to break the oncoming silence and questioning, "Look, why are you here? Do you plan to wage war on Midgard as well, now?"

The Tiefling scoffed and shook his head, beaming darkly, "Course not. We are far smarter than you give us credit."

Loki narrowed his eyes, with a mocking smirk, "Oh, really?"

The Tiefling let his excited and anxious expression drop into a short scowl, and then went right on back to smirking.

Adeline pushed her way forward, inching slightly in front of Loki, much to his dismay. "What do you want with Loki?"

The Tiefling grinned and nodded, "Finally, someone's asking the right questions."So-called Rollnick extended his hand and began to speak, "Your dear prince here was once a powerful destroyer. Were you not, Loki?"

Loki was silent, glancing down at Adeline's firm scowl toward the creature, her nose scrunched in disgust and her eyebrows furrowed in aggravation.

"Loki Laufeyson, the frost giant," The Tiefling went on, "Second heir to the throne, discovers his heritage and turns rogue. Have I got it right?"

Adeline, still holding Loki's limp hand, squeezed it tighter as she saw his expression dim with guilt and saddened rage.

"He then almost kills his own brother, and eventually falls into the dark abyss, the wormhole if you will."

Loki's hand squeezed back.

"What was down there, Loki?" The being chuckled in a twisted manner, "Hm?"

Adeline scowled as the creature continued to prod.It was like approaching a Bilgesnipe and poking it with a stick, until its explosive reaction is finally pleasant enough for the prodding to stop.

"Darkness? The stench of death? Ruin? Destruction?" The Tiefling scoffed and snarled at the prince, "Loneliness?"

Loki's stance stayed completely still, eager for the verbal torment to end. Adeline swallowed and glared at the crimson monster.

"And then somehow, you escape. You return after allowing your family to mourn you. And then what do you do?" The Tiefling scoffed and took a step toward Loki's guarded position, his arms hanging limp, his weak hand still wrapped between Adeline's own, as his eyes fell closed in suffrage.

He knew what was coming next.

"You bombard Midgard with an army, attempt to take it under your rule, yell at the mortals of this wasted planet to kneel before you."The creature snapped with a hiss, the corners of his mouth turning up in joyous bliss.

Darcy's hand gripped harder to Adeline's arm.

"Only to fail; imprisoned by your own father and your own brother, those who betrayed you."

Loki leaned forward, eyes flying open to glare down the hideous being, his voice raised to an extent, his anger pouring off of him in waves, "If you have come trying to enrage me, you have surely and thoroughly succeeded!"

The Tiefling only chuckled and shook his head, "Oh no, Loki. I have come trying to persuade you of just how much we understand."

Loki raised an eyebrow in suspicion, suddenly falling back on his ferocity and gazing intently at the being.

"Yes, you see, we understand you Loki. Your hardships, your lies, your tricks, your hatred for pity."

Adeline winced, and squeezed Loki's hand even tighter, quite positive she was turning it a snowy white as a result.Loki simply observed the Tiefling in curiosity.

"So the answer to your question," The monstrous creature turned to Adeline, who only raised her eyebrows expectantly, "What do we want with Loki; we merely want him to join us."

Adeline stood up straighter, glancing over at Loki for reassurance, but only saw a mirroring image of her own face; confusion.

"What do you mean?" Loki stuttered and cleared his throat anxiously.

"I mean, we seek your help, as a powerful ally, to fulfill our goal." Rollnick responded in a hushed tone.

Loki swallowed, and peered over at the being, eyes focusing in on the offer. "What goal?"

The Tiefling grinned, darkly, widely, and wickedly, "We wish to take the realms for our own."

Loki nearly stumbled backwards in disbelief, "Excuse me?"He scoffed and shook his head, smirking in utter misunderstanding, "Let me get this clear,"Loki began, still somewhat laughing under his breath, "You mean to ask me, if I will help you in domination?"

The Tiefling seemed aggravated but answered, "Yes. You would be a strong and powerful ally. Why, with your abilities, we could-"

Loki immediately interrupted him, mid-sentence, his expression suddenly swirling into that of anger and outrage.He leaned into the Tiefling's steady stance, and scowled into his face, "I will help you to do no such thing! Tell me, did you really think killing the queen would help me make that decision! The moment you even thought, even thought, about declaring war on Asgard influenced my response, you good-for-nothing cowards! If I was to dominate the realms, I would at least choose a better army and a better ally!"

The Tiefling snarled as he flew forward, "I take it you are denying my proposal, majesty?"

Loki scoffed and shoved the creature backward.At this, two more dropped to the floor from the ceiling above.Loki paid them no value; he simply glared darkly at the monster before him.

"Tell your precious Gallien, that if he sets another foot anywhere near me or her, " Loki pointed to Adeline, who instantly stiffened, "I will personally remove his eyes from his head, and shove them down his throat so he can watch me tear his limp body to shreds!"

The Tiefling before him stood frozen still, eyes obviously effected by Loki's words.And in less than a second, the lights turned off, and once again instantly flashed on, revealing that the Tieflings were gone.

Loki was breathing heavily in fuming outrage. Adeline could only stare helplessly at him, rather shocked by his harsh and utterly violent threat.

"Well," The small voice broke the oncoming silence, "That was more than interesting, that was," Darcy gulped, blinked and then fell limply on the sofa, "bizarre."

Adeline swallowed, and nodded slightly at her words.Her eyes dropped down to where she held Loki's delicate, pale hand. She lessened her hold on him, and tried to illustrate a brave smile.He peered back at her then, eyes empty and distant.

And before she knew it, his arms flew around her and he buried his face in her shoulder. The action caught her off guard, and she simply stood still, arms dangling, limp at her sides, as he squeezed her tight. One of his hands placed itself through her hair, his fingers intertwining with each strand, and the other found its rightful place on her waist and around to her spine. His own hair, straight black, bewildering and soft, sat against her cheek. The embrace was gentle, and graceful, seemingly so very like Loki.

But this wasn't a hug to comfort Adeline. This was a hug to comfort himself. And so she hugged back.

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