The Tiefling race had expired.
The race was gone, forever unknown to the discoverers of the future, forever unknown to those born in a time different than the current century.
The species of being was all but gone, extinct, destroyed – except for one.
One Tiefling of which severely needed to be found, one Tiefling of whom, unless controlled, would surely lose control and initiate the cause for destruction.
Thor sighed, shaking his head to and fro, reveling in his own pitiful solitude as he sat, legs sprawled out before him, in the large throne of the palace's ancient library, book in his lap, untouched and forgotten, as his mind was in no calm state for reading.
Gallien's location still remained a mystery to the kingdom and all of Asgard. He had men searching everywhere, high and low, near and far. And it wasn't as though they weren't getting enough help. Loki's death had spurred a sudden madness amongst the people of the Thor's godly realm; a madness he hadn't known remained intact.
However, it wasn't that hey were plagued with avenging his brother's fatal demise. It was more so that they saw his fateful end as further threat towards the throne, and the king. The constant declaration, the simple sentence, the simple command of, 'Reward for Gallien, ruler of the Tiefling race; accused for the murder of a royal', sent people of Asgard scurrying in search of the red, feral monster. It was printed on crinkled posters, shouted out by the King's guards.
Thor had to have him; he had to bring his brother's killer down and to his own demise, with the addition of further punishment too gruesome to mention a mere detail of. Because Loki had died an inhumane death, a death he didn't deserve, and a harsher end than anyone ever saw coming. He had burned: burned as the crumbling rocks did, of which bathed in the fiery hell of unbearable lava. Like his execution was meant to have been originally, as declared by the king, before the fall of the Tieflings, Loki had been threatened by fire.
Thor scoffed, swallowing the knot forming in his narrow throat, as his eyes glistened over with impatient, unshed tears.Thinking over the situation, it was rather astounding, utterly coincidental, and achingly heartbreaking.
Because Loki, his brother, always put forth a ignorant persona. Because Loki was sociopathic, and unwilling to get involved with the feelings of another. Because Loki was fearful of love and emotion.
Because Loki, his brother, was killed, in the end, by the only thing he had been overtly determined to love.
He fell in love with the fire, he adored the fire – and the fire, of course, loved and adored him back. He had opened his heart to the one thing he desired to love – a girl made from fire.
And his heart had burned for her.
So consistent, so very consistent, so annoyingly consistent!
Every noise, exactly the same. Every flutter to the ground, exactly the same. Every appearance, every fold, every flip, exactly the same.Consistent. Why was everything so consistent?
No matter the book, no matter the color of the cover, or the font of the title, it was the same in its motion downwards. It smacked into the white, solid wall and then twirled to the ground gracefully, with pristine poise and detailed concept, each page turning just the same, each of the books landing just the alike, flat-faced, obscuring the name of the object of which Adeline had just thrown.
The only thing that wasn't consistent was the grief. Her old friend was back for a nice visit, stopping by for a mug of warm tea, grinning darkly, wickedly, cruelly, coldly, carelessly. She'd been through it before – the stages, the fields, the units. So daunting, so degrading, so asphyxiating.
Denial. Boom, crash.
Isolation. Boom, crash.
Anger. Boom, crash.
Bargaining. Boom, crash.
Acceptance. Boom, smack.
Never. Never. Laughable. Acceptance was a bold lie.
She gazed at the books blankly, staring at their exasperated disposition, the way they were scattered about devastatingly, pages ripped and torn in mute fury, spines bent in inaudible rage, folds and crinkled in voiceless outcry.
Words. So many words. So many words of which resulted in so many memories. So many memories best left forgotten, desired forgotten.
"Are you my new babysitter?"
Rising against her, seeking her out and taunting her entire being, pulling at her hair, pinching her arms and legs and torso. A pitiful puppet to relentless recollection.
"That really was extraordinary, Lady Crow."
And she was locked away, forced to feel the painful, antagonizing anguish in solitude, behind bars of invisible glass, in a place so familiar. But now, she was on the other side. No longer guarding the prisoner, no. Instead, she was the prisoner herself.
"I have a fear of being forgotten."
The words are there, and then they're gone. They vanish and then reveal themselves in a fit of unwarranted fury, rage, and outburst.
"You are indeed a puzzle, Lady Crow. Certainly one I am eager to solve."
They craved attention, craved the feeling of unrequited love, unrequited adoration, desire.
"I pick-pocket my brother when he's irritating."
They yearned to be recognized, recognized as the unbearable synonym for grief, heartache, misery, sorrow.
"If you say so, Adeline Crow."
Recognized as the action of mourning, of lament, bemoan, bewail.
"After being almost burnt alive, the frigid air warms me."
Nothing was warm any longer. Every organ, atom, cell, vein, muscle, bone, vessel; it was all cold, unfeeling, emotionless and utterly blank.
"You've done so much for me, and I have done nothing in return. Every time I look at you, I feel that I have failed you."
The fire had crackled, burned, thrived and flourished, until the dead hands of hell took it all for its own pleasure, pure greed and selfishness of a monster eager to fulfill its hunger.
"You have plenty of fire, Adeline Crow."
The reminder of the cold only proves to bring her more pain, as though it knows. The voice merely commands the torturer to wound her further, to plunge her into the darkness of long-lost memories. Make her cold to remind her. To remind her.
"Fire and Ice."
Remind her of the one being of whom feared love, but loved her anyway.
"I am the most arrogant, selfish, and irresponsible bastard anyone could every have the misfortunate to meet."
They called him heartless; but he had a heart and she loved him for being ashamed to show it.
"Thank you for understanding me, Adeline Crow."
The sophisticated baritone echoed throughout the entirety of the lonely library, and Thor, although he hadn't been reading, put down his book and turned slowly, effortlessly, in his cozy throne.
He took in the sight of one of his royal guards, golden armor shimmering gloriously in the glow of what sunlight managed to caress the dark, solemn room. The man seemed exhausted, panting and sweating, droplets lining his furrowed brow.
"What is it?" Thor commanded impatiently, unwilling to receive any further trivial news.
The guard nodded his head vigorously and in definite confirmation, and the blonde prince shot to his feet, eyes widening at the sight.
"What is it?" He pressed encouragingly, eager to hear the words from the guard's mouth, over simply reading his actions.
The armored man swallowed thickly and nodded once more, simply a firm, single bow of his helmet clad head. "We've found him, my prince."
Thor stormed into the throne room, glad for the vacancy his father provided, unwilling to deal with Odin at a time like this – he wouldn't understand. The doors lurched backward upon his arrival, and the guard, of whom had bore the successful news, had to dodge hurriedly out of the way, wincing as the entrance aimed for repercussion.
Thor froze in his tracks, the red cape, of which had been billowing out behind him, flying forward at his sudden motionless state.
There, beside the golden throne, surrounded by five guards and chained at the wrists and ankles, was Gallien, King of a dead race. He was clothed in a tattered tunic, bearing a cloak of dark black, allowing his eyes to shimmer in their dark indifference. His horns were sharp as ever, ridged and chiseled. His tail was swooping to and fro aggressively behind him, twitching at the slightest movement in his foreground.
Thor turned to the guard behind him instantly, grimacing in reluctance, "You are not to inform Adeline Crow of this yet, clear?"
The guard nodded genuinely. Thor inhaled, closed his eyes momentarily, and then spun around, glowering at the horrendous beast.
"Gallien." Thor snapped, continuing to stride toward the horrid, murderous creature – hammer on hand, at the ready.
"Ah, so you remember me." The monster hissed with a mocking smirk. Thor glared as he approached one of the palace guards, standing carefully near a pile of tinged and cluttered objects.
"How could I forget?" Thor scoffed, cocking his head to the side in sincere bemusement. He pointed to the heap of charred iron at his feet along with a questioning glance toward the guard.
"The creature's belongings, your majesty." The Asgardian informed him, and he nodded in comprehension. He reached forward, kneeling before the swell to rifle through the objects at his feet. He came upon the glinting red article of weaponry that had originally driven him toward the clumsy pile of junk. Grabbing hold of its intended grip, he lifted it for the Tiefling to see. The creature's wicked grin widened, lengthening broadly and spurring an inch of fear deep down within Thor's very core.
"I recognize this." The blonde prince sighed, narrowing his eyes. Because he did. It was the dagger that had killed his brother – a two-sided weapon, its stiletto bearing the ridged surface of a blood red crystal.
"I'm glad." The Tiefling sneered enthusiastically, "It truly does hold a rather endearing blade, doesn't it?" The chains clattered noisily as the monster took a step forward, throwing all the guard's into sudden action, resulting in Thor raising a dismissive hand to imply an, 'It's fine'.
"I have a question for you, Thor Odinson," The creature spat furiously, expression darkening into a cold twist of features resembling the pure, harsh outlook of utter hatred, "Was it not enough that my race suffered? Now I must suffer too?"
Thor glanced up, eyes burning like a blue flame, in utter detestation, "You killed my brother. You deserve to suffer."
The Tiefling King chuckled and shook his head amusingly, "Oh, how naïve."
The prince arched a brow, drawing nearer to the red creature born for destruction, "I'm sorry?"
"I never killed your brother."
Thor froze, swallowing thickly, "I watched him die."
The monster sniggered harshly, "Oh, he's still very much alive."
The remaining sibling narrowed his eyes and slowly began turning the red, crystal blade around again and again and again on the soft, pale skin of his palms. "If you mean to tell me he's in Helheim, that hardly counts as being alive."
The dark, wicked being rattled his head irritably and sighed, leering with a growl, "No Thor, don't be stupid."He began, grin back in place, "Your brother is in Drengrheim."
Thor shook his head firmly, "That's impossible."
"No, it is perfectly possible. You see, your brother never died in the first place."The creature smirked, teeth revealing themselves beneath the dark, pale burgundy of the beast's cruel lips.
Thor could merely splutter a weak, "What?"
The Tiefling raised a finger to point toward the small weapon in Thor's large hands, "My dagger does not burn its victims to death, Thor Odinson." He shrugged, "It brings them an unimaginable amount of pain, and then sends them to the given location."
"Hm, indeed," The creature snickered, "The birthplace of the given crystal."
Thor gulped, mind shattered with confusion, "Birthplace?"
The monster nodded, "Oh yes. And it just so happens that the crystal I used that very day was born in Drengrheim."
Thor fell absolutely silent, because if it was true, Loki was alive. His brother. Alive. Living, breathing. He could find him and bring him home; he could help Adeline, save her from the depths of the gallows, the prison, that she now spent her lifetime dwelling in. All would be well. All would be well.
"Thor Odinson, your brother is very much alive," The monster shared with him, sneering overtly, "And he's been right under the sweaty feet of your Asgardian warriors for a very long time."
The blonde prince glanced up from his gaze, of which had been fixated on the floor, "Under?"
Gallien cried out in utter amusement, "Indeed, you oaf. Your precious Loki is underneath Drengrheim."
Thor turned away from the red being and instead began striding towards the doors of the throne room's exit, determined now to fulfill the words of the Tiefling – to find out the truth, to find his brother.
He could hear Gallien behind him, yelling over the rattling chains, "Did you really think I'd kill him? A God like that deserves to be kept!" His shrieks for attention grew only louder as Thor continued to sway away, nearing the large, mahogany doors. "He's magnificent, your brother. Monstrous and powerful. Someone of such vicious potential should never be wasted to death."
Thor winced at the words, drawing closer and closer to his way out, but unable to stop listening to the foul words spoken from behind him in such a devastatingly evil voice.
"I'm selfish, Thor! Always have been!" He snapped, "If he wouldn't be my ally, no one else could claim him as theirs. I just had to have him all to my –"
Thor had made it back over to the monstrous creep, and had socked him square across the face, feeling the burning bruises of his aching knuckles already setting in and spotting the warm liquid sensation of blood dripping from the nose of his victim.
Thor's moment of utter relief was broken, however, by low chuckling emanating from below the creature's hand of which was wiping carelessly at his nose. The laughter was haunting and deranged, but Thor kept a straight face in strong indifference.
"See you in Helheim, Thor Odinson." Gallien sneered as the guards began to drag him away, gripping the chains and his bold, red shoulders.
Thor scoffed, turning back to the throne room's exit.
"Don't count on it."
He was alive.
Loki. Breathing. Living. Alive.
She would find him, save him, hold him, caress him, kiss him. She would cherish him; she would have him back in her arms, in her grip of which she would never loosen.
She'd find him, with Thor.
Together they would find him.
Because, come on.
When is a babysitting career ever really over anyway?
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