Hidden Within


They received a welcome party. Of sorts.

Once they'd approached the strange structure further, the red beings of Drengrheim had crawled out of their hiding places, gazing intricately at the strangers plaguing their land, swaying in on their odd contraption. They climbed the sharp rocks of the barren wasteland, eyes glowing red in the foggy dust billowing out amongst their hunched positions. Their tails swung to and fro, large and threatening, but also weary and excited at the same time. As the group of newcomers stared, they stared back, heads in the air, perked upward in intrigue. Though clothed in bronze armor, they made no sound. They were instead like the night: silent and deadly all the same. Some were tinged a deep, blood red, others like crimson, a few slightly more brown. It was as though they were prepared, as though they predicted this – perhaps a team of fewer, but the strangers no less. They glowered knowingly, and just faintly fearful – aware that the newcomers came to layer their precious land in corpses.

The brothers aboard the skiff turned to one another, expressions void of emotion, merely registering one simple sentence with their intense gaze: defeat those who threaten Asgard and their family – take back anything they had already tarnished. Their actions could not be forgiven nor forgotten. They would fall because of their choices.

The ten of them stood guarded, atop their gently roving ship, approaching the Tiefling castle with hard expressions, their features twisted so that they couldn't be broken. The skiff flowed across the air with poise and grace; so different from the surroundings they skittered by; dark, sharp, dreary, and deathly. The foul creatures they had passed now stalked behind them, crawling along the floor of Drengrheim, silent in their stares. They weren't an over abundance of them – from what they could see, they would be able to defeat them. The battle would be intense, and dangerous, of course, but they would, in turn, be glorious.

The Asgardian ship made its way to, what appeared to be, the entrance of the gloomy structure before them, swaying to a halt as Fandral removed his hand from the lever. They all stood still for a moment, taking in the setting, the threatening glow of the building before them, the thought of what hid inside.

Before they made any movement to enter, however, the large grey slab, connected by chains to the walls of the cement architecture opening with a deafening crash. With two of his fellow race by his side, Rollnick made his way to the strangers aboard their Asgardian contraption. He sneered repulsively, as his horns, exiting through the oval shape of his scalp, shimmered in the red light of Drengrheim. His tail flickered to the right and left, eagerly awaiting some sort of action, a revolting appearance of want for flesh and blood. He wore an armor much like the rest of them, however slightly more gold rather than bronze, and polished to a certain extent. Loki leered his way, scowl present upon his features, as he took several steps forward, striding off the skiff gracefully. Thor quickly followed behind, suspicious and weary of his brother's movements.

"Well, now." Rollnick began with a smirk, "How nice of you to join us."

Loki scoffed in resent, "You have something that belongs to me."

The Tiefling's grin was toxic, noxious and lethal, "So it would seem."

Silence passed in a wave; suddenly everyone was mute, watching, observing, and awaiting some sort of forceful calamity. But the red creature before them merely shrugged and extended a civil palm, gesturing to the open doors of the Tiefling races' ominous structure. "Come and take it back. Won't you?"

Loki scoffed poisonously and nodded his head, as though he were thanking the being for allowing him to kill his entire clan, inside the castle they called home. He swayed forward, long green, black, and yellow cloak fluttering behind him in anxiousness, each step worthwhile as he thought of the woman awaiting him within the tomblike architecture. Thor followed as well, eyes remaining on the back of his sibling's head, watching like a hawk, vigilant to both what he would do, and what the enemy surrounding them would do. The rest pursued silently, lingering close to one another, alert to every movement the rival made. Only Rollnick, and the two Tieflings beside him, led them inside the interior of the castle; those who had stalked the skiff all the way to the structure's entrance, remained outside, scowling, fierce and ready for any spontaneous attacks set upon them.

Loki gazed up at the ceiling above him. It was deep-set, high, and strangely unpleasant. Within each corner, there was a spider-like design; a web of intricately weaved pattern sprawling out and cascading upon each wall and barrier. Everything was sharp, pointy like that of a sickening silver blade – each crevice made Loki's stomach turn, each column disguising nausea. He despised this construction with every fiber of his being, every inch within every beating organ, every breakable bone. He wanted Adeline, now. He needed Adeline, now. Rollnick led them down the dark path of an interior hallway, bearing torches for light source, which crackled and popped, and seemed to glare loathingly at Loki's every move; he could feel himself burning inside, with both desire and hatred. Soon they exited the narrow alley and found themselves inside another high-ceilinged area, the floor below them a rich red tiled marble.

No one said a word as they marched on towards the creature sat in a large throne twice the size of Asgard's. No one noticed the Tiefling's clinging to the ceiling above, inspecting them with curiosity and revulsion. No one noticed Rollnick's ever-present sneer, nor the repugnant grin of the king. All eyes had fallen upon the blonde-haired woman, chained roughly to the bridge of two columns, each side restraining a sore, skinless wrist. Loki's heart dropped to his chest, his vision blurred red, his fingers trembled, his feet ached as though they could no longer hold his weight, and his tongue bled from the force of his clenched teeth. Thor was already behind him, ready for his rebellious action, as he continued to gaze at the Fire Elf just next to the king's sharp, edged throne. Her head was hunched, hiding her features. Her hair fell down around her, its full length now revealed in a saddening manner. Her knees were attempting to bend, attempting to sacrifice themselves to gravity, as her entire being slumped downward, unable to fulfill its wish as the chains held it up impossibly well. Her Asgardian clothing was still upon her, however withered and faded, and torn to shreds along the ridge of her spine. The brothers and their allies had gone silent, not a word spoken, upon clearly acknowledged just who the pitiful lump of a woman was.

And then Loki couldn't take it anymore. The silence. The judging stares at the being he loved, chained against her will, suffering from more than sore wrists, but also a beaten, whipped back. "Adeline." It was nothing but a croaky whisper, and he loathed himself for it. Rage was darkening all his senses, and he flew forwards, shrieking at the top of his lungs this time. "Adeline!"

Her head whirled up, expression revealed. She was still as beautiful as the day he first set eyes upon her; her eyes were glistening in their blue shine, red-rimmed, and cheerless. Her flawless, pale skin was chiseled with a few random specks of blood, and dirt, and her lips appeared dry and in loss of color. "Loki." The voice was hoarse, raspy, and showed clear signs of not having been used, but it was enough to send Loki into a fit of outrage, worse than he'd ever experienced – all senses had fallen cloudy, foggy, and out of sorts. He lunged to the side, hands rising to tackle the Tiefling who had led them here, who had done this, who had taken part in this, who had threatened him. But he only found himself flying backwards, as rough hands enclosed on his arms, tugging him away from his target. He rebelled, flinging himself away, attempting to get free, but it was know use. Thor was now in front of him, hammer to his chest, glaring empathetically his way, "Loki, remember what I said to you." It was a command, not a question. The dark prince was still scowling at the red creature of whom was currently leering his way, horns flickering in the light, tail swishing in content.

"Loki." His brother repeated his name in nothing but a whisper, inaudible to everyone but him, as he stared down at his sibling with an apologetic expression. Loki yanked his eyes away from Rollnick and angled himself slightly, looking up at his brother, features twisted into devastation. "What."

Thor breathed out in relief, glanced over his shoulder and then fixed his gaze on Loki once more, "Do not choose now as the time to be spontaneous." In those words, Loki understood. He could not loose himself. Not if he wished to take out the Tieflings one at a time. He would tear out their hearts – one by one, they would die by his hands. He'd make sure of it.

So he stopped fighting his brother, and in turn his brother revoked his firm grasp. And then he waited.

"Thor, Loki. I don't believe we've met." Gallien's voice emanated from the throne, appearing wholly gleeful after having just watched their minor scuffle. Thor turned toward him, and indicating for Loki to follow his lead, as he slowly, and respectfully, swayed in the direction of the Tiefling king. The rest of their humble team pursued them, however remained well back in caution. Loki did as his brother wished, but kept his eyes fixed firmly on Adeline, who stared back with an equal amount of adoration. He wanted to go to her, to be by her side, to caress her, to kiss her. But he kept his composure. He would wait till the time was right.

"King Gallien. We've heard so much about you." Thor smirked mockingly, eyes narrowed in disgust.

The king chuckled deeply, adjusting his position in the large sharply edged chair, "All good, I assume?"

Thor nodded in spite of himself, his expression stifling a scowl.

"And Loki, it is you whom I have really desired to meet."

The darker prince turned to meet Gallien's gaze. He appeared smug, upon his throne, one brow arched, and the corner of his mouth upturned in a smirk.

Loki loathed him.

"Is that so?" He responded, taking a few steps forward, which, in turn, caused Rollnick to stiffen in preparation.

"Undoubtedly." The king replied with a dark grin, "As you can quite surely tell, I've went to great lengths to get your attention."

Loki loathed him.

"I had, in fact, noticed."

The dark prince's eyes once again darted over to Adeline, who was staring helplessly his way, before they returned to the king, fixing him with another scowl. Gallien glanced over at the woman chained to the columns and then back at Loki. He shrugged, rather effortlessly, "Oh, go on. Free her. It was merely to draw you here anyway."

Loki froze first, in disbelief, and then, in one smooth action, sprinted over to the Fire Elf's side, cringing in concern as he approached her trembling figure. "Adeline." He called out to her solemnly, and kneeled before her, his palms flying to caress her cheeks. One of his hands smoothed back her blonde hair from her face, as the other grazed her jaw in utter adulation. She smiled a weak smile his way, both relieved and concerned for his presence before her. He quickly fixed his sights on her wrists, and spun harshly in his knelt position. "Unlock these!" He demanded, pointing accusingly at the metal chains. Gallien glanced at Rollnick, nodded, and gestured to the locks restraining Loki's greatest possession. Rollnick sauntered toward him, removing a large key from a ring of several, and leaned forward to insert it into the keyhole. The restraints snapped open with a jingle of metal, and Adeline immediately fell to the floor, landing a pitiful heap.

She hurt; everywhere, she hurt. Her arms ached unbearably, and her legs felt like weights drawn to the ground below. Next thing she knew, an arm was embracing her, dragging her forward and into the warmth of another – but a different warmth; a frigid warmth. Loki.

Her arms struggled to find something to grasp onto and, eventually, with his aid, she discovered the whereabouts of his neck. She embraced him desperately, squeezing as tightly as possible in her weak state, her limbs flinging themselves around him in the desire for security and shelter. And he held her back, wrapping his own arms around her shredded back, carefully watching the contusions present there, and the blood that had long since dried.

"I'm so sorry." She heard him whisper, tugging her heart below its rightful place amongst her ribcage.

"No," She managed, "This isn't your fault."

He hugged her tighter, "I left you. I put you in danger."

"No," She struggled to shake her head, "No."

The sharp clearing of a throat knocked them both from their cloudy haze of adoration and brought them slowly back into reality. Loki sighed and stood up carefully, still clutching onto Adeline as though she would disappear at any given moment. He helped her to her feet, and allowed her to lean against him, supporting all her weight along his side. She held on for dear life, and shook on her limp legs, but altogether managed to stay on her feet. Loki then turned, taking in the sight of everyone present, all eyes fixed onto his position. He whirled to glare at the king, whose interruption had enraged him further.

"Now that that is sorted," He smirked and gestured to himself, "I still do wish for you to be my ally."

Thor snorted at his comment before Loki could, "Please. He will do no such thing, you miserable, foul creature."

Gallien sighed dramatically and shrugged his shoulders, "I figured as much. And what have you all come here to do then? Declare war?"

Loki went to respond, but yet again, Thor blocked his words, "We've come to destroy you, yes. And we've come to reclaim, Miss Crow, but –"

Before he could continue, the king was on his feet, striding down the steps of his throne and toward Loki's hunched position as he kept the Fire Elf on her feet. "Lady Crow; now that is a story." He sneered and stopped just in front of the two of them, eyes sparkling in dark admiration. "She's so very pure, isn't she Loki?"

Loki was silent; he merely glared at the king in hatred.

"It was rather easy for Rollnick to break her," He narrowed his eyes thoughtfully, "As she is a Fire Elf, I expected a bit more," He cocked his head with a shrug, as though determining the right word, "fire."

Loki stiffened in fury, struggling to keep the anger inside, his expression remaining utterly blank and emotionless. Adeline had dropped her eyes in shame. "I may have delivered the 'I killed your father' line a bit too quickly. But I couldn't help myself."

Loki froze, nothing moving but the quiver of his heartbeat and the shaking Adeline Crow beside him.

"Anyways," The Tiefling king scrunched up his nose wistfully, "back to the main subject." He whirled around, tail flinging suggestively, horns flaring dangerously, and faced Thor once more, "So, destroy me you say?"

Thor swallowed and nodded, "Unless, you wish to surrender now."

Loki grimaced in revulsion; no, he would not allow mercy.

Gallien let out a sharp laugh, "Surrender is not in my vocabulary, Thor Odinson."

Loki felt Adeline regaining her strength beside him, preparing herself for what was to come. He did the same.

Thor bobbed his head in confirmation, "Well, then. I owe you my sincerest apologies, Lord Gallien."

The Tiefling king smirked and narrowed his eyes in suspicion, "Oh? And why's that?"

Adeline Crow stood as straight as she could on shaking legs, arms still aching but growing quickly fervent. Loki stepped forward, his grasp moving from the Fire Elf's arm to her nimble, pale hand. "Because you are going to die, King Gallien. And your race is going to fall, along with Drengrheim."

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