Shadows of the Past

Retreat

"No sir," Heimdall replied in a monotone voice. "There has been no sign of either of them. Loki must still have enough energy to ghost past me."

The image of Odin looked away, frustrated. Odin was communicated with Heimdall by using Gungnir in process was similar to the Link. That Link allowed the heads of the Realms to communicate to each other without leaving their realm. Now though, it was just Odin speaking to Heimdall. "That is why I tried to make the cell so strong, to prevent him from doing this should he escape. He is liable to run back to the Chitauri and he'll take Angborn with him."

"I cannot say about the Chitauri Allfather," Heimdall admitted, "but it is likely Angborn let Loki siphon off his seidr. It would not be the first time that has happened."

Odin had to agree. "Alert me the instant either of them are located. We have to kill them soon, before more Raven Blades desert."

Heimdall half-bowed and the image of Odin faded away into golden light. As a Clairvoyant, very little got past Heimdall's orange eyes. Loki however, was notorious for it. It always infuriated him. That Jötunn was smarter than a mortal had a right to be.

Worse, Loki had his own spy network on Asgard. He called them his 'birds.' Never once had Heimdall managed to identify or intercept a member or message. Heimdall was certain that Loki had birds on more than Asgard, likely all the Realms and possibly even among the races outside the Realms.

Heimdall knew how slim the chance was that Loki would slip up now, but he had his orders. He had the power to cast all five of his sense out from his body but doing so left his body vulnerable. To counter that, he only used his sight and called his hearing out only when he found something interesting. Another counter was the simple knowledge that no one would walk all the way out here to bother him. If anyone did the Bifrost would light up with their footsteps and alert him he had a visitor.

It was fortunate that Thor had brought the Tesseract back with Laufeyson for Heimdall had been able to use the Infinity Gem to quicken the rebuilding of the Bifrost. The Marauders of Vanaheim had believed that with the Bifrost destroyed, Asgard could not travel to Vanaheim to bring them under control and had gone wild. Thor had been kept very busy these past few weeks hunting them with his friends and several squads of Star Guard. Now the cells in the dungeon were full. It was only after Odin had sentenced Laufeyson to death that Thor decided to sulk to Midgard like a child.

Heimdall's sight shifted around Asgard. He didn't believe he would find anyone. Loki had been good at dodging Heimdall before Hel had taught him how to ghost. Hel liking Tilaria was no surprise, the Goddess of Death had become a foster mother of sorts to her. As to why Hel had become so fond of Loki, he would never understand.

He has to hear my heartbeat, Angborn thought. I mean, Heimdall doesn't take his hearing usually so he has to hear me sneaking up on him. The Bifrost did not light up with his steps. Loki had surprised him again by revealing he knew how to shimmer – how to make someone incorporeal. It was not true shimmering, he could still walk into walls, but it was enough that the Bifrost didn't notice him.

It's like Loki turned me into a Wraith almost, Angborn mused. Wraiths were creatures from a parallel dimension that had no concept of earth or sky or solid. They were bad things that fed off of fear and their shimmering was lethal. If they passed a hand through you, your nerves would go to sleep. A single swipe to the chest and an Æsir was done. Even gods needed a heartbeat to live.

For Angborn, being able to see through his hand was freaky. Loki says he did this to Tilaria once when they were children and not to worry. It must have been during their little prank war between the two of them. I just wish it wasn't Transfiguration magic; that stuff was forbidden for a reason.

Loki had shimmered Angborn and teleported him several meters above the Bifrost's surface. The height meant that the bridge wouldn't detect the teleport. Angborn had reluctantly left Loki sitting down against the tree in a trance like state, barely conscious. He had to move fast before Loki ran out of energy completely. For whatever reason, Loki was terrified of going to sleep. Killing Heimdall wasn't something he wanted to do but he had to get him out of the way so he could bring Loki here without tripping an alarm.

In his current state he wasn't incorporeal enough to pass his hand through Heimdall to where it would do any damage. In order to do damage he had to say the counter spell and use his dagger. Heimdall would hear him say that. The Gatekeeper had his sword between his hands.

He raised the dagger to Heimdall's throat. His hand was trembling so badly the dagger was. Realms! Angborn wasn't used to killing someone that couldn't fight back and Heimdall was an ally.

Was, he told himself, was! You're a traitor now an outlaw and you have to stay alive and help keep Loki alive. Outlaws don't play by the rules. Grow a back bone!

He half-lowered the blade. Oh come on. Loki's counting on you to be able to get him inside so he can siphon off the Bifrost. He's completely vulnerable right now and this move will burn the last of his energy. If it doesn't work he'll likely die. Loki needs you! He needs an ally and you're the only one he's got right now.

Angborn took a breath to steady himself and raised the blade to Heimdall again. "Eincla na."

Heimdall heard the words of a counter spell spoken beside his body and realized he was under attack. He raised his sword before his sight even returned. Angborn struck first.

Odin waved away a Healer and picked up Gungnir, intending to speak to Heimdall again. It was early for a report but Odin was edgy and his shoulder hurt. He sent his mind out and banged it into a mental shield. The shield was strong and most certainly not Heimdall's. This shield was like a wall of ice. Snow seemed to swirl around the barrier. Ice…

He changed tactics and backed up to look at the Bifrost. It was frozen over. Icicles shot through the Bifrost across its entire length. Odin knew the feel of deathly cold Jötunn magic.

He opened his eye and almost summoned the Blood Wolves. There were however, none conscious. Fandral, Hogun, and Volstagg were here however. "Warriors Three," Odin addressed them.

They jumped to attention, surprised.

"Laufey's son has taken control of the Bifrost."

Loki… Thor thought. So brother, you are still alive. He grimaced in pain as Fey tried to fix the cuts left from Gungnir. They bled no longer but she could not make the cuts go away.

"Angborn will be with them," Odin continued, "you three shall kill them."

Fandral was caught off guard. Kill them? That was a little sudden. He wasn't an assassin.

"I want Loki back alive if possible but not Angborn," Odin glared at them. He did not need Angborn running around. As it was, all the Ravens might still be traitors. That was why they were all confined to quarters. "Can you teleport them Amora?"

Amora was surprised as well. "M-My magic is drained."

"I asked if you could not if you wanted to," Odin snapped.

Amora stepped back, bumping into Frigga. She had never heard Odin sound like that before. He almost seemed to be daring her to disobey so he could do something. "Yes."

"Do so."

"Odin," Frigga cautioned.

"Do not start," Odin warned his queen. "Amora, teleport them."

Amora bowed slightly, still surprised, and walked the few steps over to the Warriors Three. She didn't say anything but focused her blue-white magic – the same color as her eyes – to her hands and let sparkles of it encircle the boys. After a moment, they vanished.

It was cold; Fandral realized when they rematerialized on the bridge. Isn't it supposed to be summer? He looked around in shock and saw that the entire surface of the bridge was iced over.

"Someone is siphoning off its energy," Hogun warned.

Now Fandral looked down. The bridge's rainbow colors were being pulled towards the Bifrost even as they darkened, their energy fading. He could take one guess who was doing that. "Loki."

"He'll be stronger now," Hogun warned.

"This is insane," Fandral muttered. Sending the Ravens would be better in his opinion. Loki had already proven that he didn't want to kill them. He sighed, "Come on."

The three closed the distance and entered the Bifrost. They were met with a shocking sight. Loki was standing behind the control console, facing them. His eyes were closed and his skin was blue, black lines like stripes on his face. Snowflakes decorated his very short black hair, forming a crown just like the snow always did. His black clothes were trimmed with ice and the shoulders of his duster were white from snowflakes.

Ice crystallized everything. The lightning of the Bifrost was frozen into the shape of the Yggdrasil tree just as it had been last time. Snowflakes hung in the hair as if there was string. They were unusually clear and Fandral could see every detail, every one of its glittering edges. It was weird.

Standing in front of Loki was Angborn. Angborn jumped when he saw them and raised Heimdall's sword.

Heimdall's sword. Volstagg saw the body first. "You…"

Angborn looked at them levelly. There was still blood on his cheek. He stepped forward, unflinching to their shock and disgust. "I was protecting my prince."

What won't he do to protect his prince? Hogun thought to himself. Angborn could ration out any solution to any problem in order to keep Loki safe. Allowing himself to be branded a traitor so Loki could escape the arena was just one example. That made him dangerous to, maybe more so then Loki.

Loki opened his eyes, revealing that their normal emerald color was now a bright crimson. They was so bright they seemed to glow in the dim light. The white of his eyes had a slight blue tint to them. "Leave," he ordered the Warriors Three as he lowered his hands from the counsel and walked up next to Angborn.

"You're giving us orders," Fandral shook his head. He started to draw one of his rapiers with his right hand.

Loki narrowed his eyes and flicked his fingers slightly, hand by his side.

One of the many snowflakes in the air glimmered emerald green and struck Fandral, going straight through his hand. The rapier clicked back into its sheathe. Fandral jumped back, grabbing his hand with a hiss. His blood froze and a drop of it fell to the ground, shattering.

The other two glanced his way, shock clear. What the? Already, they could see frost edging Fandral's wound, poisoning the blood.

"That was a warning," Loki clarified, "leave." If you do not leave then I will have to, and if I leave Asgard… No, I can't. I have to stay. "I've killed enough. I do not wish to add you to my tally."

They hesitated.

"That snowflake did not simply go through Fandral's hand, it went through his bone," Loki promised.

Fandral cradled his sore hand, looking at all the snowflakes. One was now red. We're surrounded by them. He barely has to move his fingers and we're dead. The thought jumped out at Fandral. Being an Asgardian and as such partially immortal, death was normally not on the forefront of his mind, but now he felt as mortal as a human.

Suddenly, Heimdall's sword ripped itself from Angborn's grasp and spun away. Everyone jumped. Heimdall's hand closed around the sword's hilt as he shakily stood, the skin on his neck raw from Angborn's attack.

Loki sighed, "This is why I kill who I fight, so they don't get back up."

Angborn turned a little red and drew his dagger. He thought about giving the blade to Loki. Loki was the best fighter with a dagger, but discarded the idea. Though his prince was acting otherwise, Loki was exhausted so Angborn kept the blade.

Heimdall raised his sword in front of him, turning it so he edge faced him. Gold light traveled up from the hilt to the tip of the blade.

He's going to! Loki grabbed Angborn's collar and dragged him down just as Heimdall sliced diagonally downward with the sword. A shockwave of pure power erupted from the blade and a crescent of white energy sliced through the air. The shockwave's sonic element destroyed Loki's snowflakes and the wind created blew the Warriors Three back a pace.

It was lucky Loki had made Angborn duck. Loki cursed. He had no idea how to make more snowflakes. Even worse, Heimdall knew how to tap into the sword's power. I should have destroyed that sword rather than give it to Odin.

Loki quickly stood and stepped back from Angborn when he realized some of his ice was staining the former Captain's armor. Jötunns burn non-Jötunns when they touch them. He used some of his re-energized magic to shift back to an Æsir form so his skin was tan and his eyes green like they should be.

Fandral winced. The wind generated alongside that energy wave had cut his clothes as if it were solid. He had never heard of a sword doing that before.

Loki stood, fangs bared. "You have no right to that blade Æsir," he growled at Heimdall. "That is meant to be wielded by a human."

"You were a fool to give such an unstable race so powerful a weapon as Excalibur. That is why Odin reclaimed it." Heimdall countered in his usual voice.

Magic crackled around Loki's form momentarily. He was charged. "Using the Tesseract to rebuild the Bifrost was just as idiotic as stealing Excalibur from Arthur. Thanks to you, the entire bridge is unstable now."

Angborn shook the aftereffects off and stood, still holding his dagger.

The ice around the Bifrost and on Loki's own clothes faded. With him in his Æsir form, he found he could not keep the ice solid. He fixed a glare on the Warrior's Three. "Go away," Loki growled. "I have no wish to deal with you, I don't need any more blood on my hands."

Fandral hesitated with his rapier – his left rapier – half drawn. Did he sound… sorry? Did he regret killing so many? Loki's dark eyes were unreadable. Mages had gold sparkles in their eyes but Loki's gold had turned to the disconcerting blue of the Tesseract.

Hogun stepped forward, mace raised, not believing or not caring what Loki said. Fandral brushed away his thoughts and stood to back his friend, rapiers fully drawn now. Loki was the God of Lies, he'd say anything. Still, he made a note to try and take Loki alive.

The power Loki had taken from the Bifrost had re-energized his life force, but it had not yet synchronized with his own magic. Until the charge did so, he was unable to use any magic or even move with his equilibrium so far off. Kill him or capture him, whatever they were going to do, they had to do it now.

"Stay behind me," Angborn whispered to Loki.

Loki can't even move until his charge settles so no one gets by me. Angborn adjusted his stance. He looked to the Warriors Three and Heimdall. Four on one odds, is it? Once when he was a child, he had fought Jaro and three of his boys on his own. I was alone until Loki appeared and threw Jaro into the bookcase and scared off the other boys. Jaro had managed to give Loki a black eye. This time Loki, I'll fight without you being in danger.

"Angborn," Loki warned. He had managed to back up to the control panel and rested his hands on it. Normally, he wouldn't be worried about Angborn but so long as Heimdall had Excalibur Angborn stood little chance. "That's Excalibur."

Angborn nodded and fell into a defensive stance, "Understood." He ignored Loki's glare to back down.

Clearly, Angborn had no intention of moving so Volstagg simply attacked him. Angborn darted forward to keep Volstagg away from Loki and dodged the ax, kicking him across the face. Hogun missed as well. Fandral tried to go to the source of the problem, but Loki saw him coming. Loki blacked out for a second as he tried to defend himself and had to grab the counsel to keep from falling completely.

I got him! Fandral though victoriously as his rapier shot thorough the air towards Loki.

Angborn was suddenly between them and he deflected the rapier aside with the back of a hand by using a technique called a feathertouch. The move surprised Fandral and left him exposed. Quick to take advantage, Angborn cracked him hard across the face. Fandral stumbled back and his foot slipped out from under him as he fell on a patch of non-melted ice.

Angborn plucked Fandral's rapier out of the air as its owner crashed and he crossed the two blades in an 'x' shape with the dagger on the bottom as a brace to catch Heimdall's longsword. The strength behind it made Angborn's teeth rattle. Realms, is Heimdall even Æsir?

They disengaged and Heimdall angled an upstroke with Excalibur. Angborn crossed the blades again, intending to block the stroke as it arched towards his face. Excalibur glowed gold.

"Not an upstroke!" Loki shouted a warning as he pulled himself back into a standing position.

Angborn didn't understand, but trusted Loki's knowledge. Loki had made Excalibur, if anyone knew its powers it was Loki. He stepped to one side, shifting the 'x' pattern so the sword was no longer going towards him, switching the leverage to the rapier. Excalibur collided with the rapier and shattered it. It didn't just break the blade, it shattered a good two feet of the blade and metal shrapnel flew through the air.

Angborn felt faint. If he hadn't stepped aside that would have caught him full in the face. Thank you Loki. So Excalibur is just like a sword-shatterer. This just got closer to impossible.

Heimdall knows how to use Excalibur's powers, Loki realized. Angborn doesn't stand a chance. Thor might with Mjolnir or maybe with Gungnir, artifacts of equal power, but with a dagger…

"Don't make me leave… The Chitauri aren't that happy with me." Loki whispered.

Lightning crackled again and this time spread out in the skeleton of Yggdrasil tree as Loki tapped into the Bifrost's energy. Right now, the Bridge's energy was just like the Tesseract and Loki could use the Tesseract.

"If I leave the Barriers I'll be vulnerable…"

Angborn wielded the broken rapier like a second dagger and it slipped past Hogun's guard and his ribs. Hogun stumbled back as the rapier went clean through him and Angborn was forced to abandon the weapon when Volstagg swung at him.

"Don't!"

Excalibur glowed gold and Angborn managed to sidestep it, deflecting Fandral's rapier into it. Heimdall raised his blade over Fandral. Angborn wasn't expecting such reflexes. He gasped as Excalibur, as cold as ice, cut through his armor like it was air. Swiftly, he disengaged and jumped back over to Loki. He put a hand on his side and it came away bloody.

If Loki left Asgard he'd be vulnerable. If he didn't Angborn… A favor for a favor. The Bifrost lit up, beginning to glow as it usually did as it started to activate. Somewhere safe, somewhere where they won't instantly try to kill me, Loki thought. He had no idea where that was or if there even was a place like that now.

The wind picked up, a chilly winter nip, and Angborn backed all the way up to Loki's side. Fandral helped Hogun to his feet, and tugged both the Vanir and Volstagg back as lightning crackled from the roof to strike at the floor near them. It kept them at bay from the traitors.

Heimdall raised Excalibur, turning it so the edge faced him. Gold light began to travel up the blade once more. Lightning curled around Angborn and Loki, and Angborn stared at the it in surprise.

Somewhere safe!

Heimdall swung and the crescent of energy exploded from the blade. Loki and Angborn vanished. The crescent of power collided with the lightning of the Bifrost and it hovered in midair, writhing. There was a noise like a shriek and the energy exploded outward in form similar to a lightning storm.

Excalibur absorbed what was heading for Heimdall but the other three had no such protection. Fandral took a bolt to his second rapier and was knocked clear out of the Bifrost and off the Bridge. He was able to save himself by grabbing onto the edge but his other rapier slipped from his fingers and tumbled over the Edge into the Void.

"Hey! A little aid!" Fandral called as he tried vainly to pull himself up.

Volstagg heard and quickly helped pull his friend back to solid ground. Fandral sat on the bridge for a moment before warily standing. Hogun materialized in the doorway and checked to make sure Fandral was alright before ducking back in. It seemed his wound wasn't too severe.

Heimdall was frowning at the Bifrost when Volstagg and Fandralre-entered. There were scorch marks all over the place and cracks in the Bifrost itself. "Foolish of me to launch that crescent while the Bifrost was teleporting them. The energies mixed unstably and I fear the Bifrost will not be operational until that damage can be repaired."

Fandral tensed. "How long until we can chase after those two? Better, do you know where they went?"

"I do not know," Heimdall frowned, "I can either look for them or repair the Bifrost. I cannot do both at once. The Bifrost must be repaired before I can look."

"Right," Fandral muttered. He picked up what was left of his one rapier. "Come on, we better report back to Odin. He is not going to be happy about this."

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