Odin glared at the small blue recorder crystal the Guard gave him. Someone had patched it into Asgard's communication system, told it to broadcast the recorded battle, and then locked everyone out. It was only after the transmission ended that the doors had unlocked, and the crystal was able to be retrieved. This was the same crystal Freyja had shown him earlier.
He turned to where Freyja stood with feather cloak draped around her shoulders. Beside and a little behind her was Thor.
"I told you that this false battle between the Jötunn and Chthon meant nothing, so you broadcast it around Asgard!" Odin accused Freyja.
"Freyja did naught do it," Thor promised as he stepped forward. "She showed me the crystal and I arranged for it to broadcast."
"Why?" Odin demanded. "How could you be such a fool? This will rally support for Laufey's son."
"Because Loki cannot be blamed fully for his actions Odin," Thor snapped, matching furious tone for furious tone. "Part of everything was Loki's own darkness, but part of it was the Chitauri's manipulation of him. Some part of him is still my little brother – still good! – and now Asgard knows it."
"This changes nothing!" Odin shouted. "Do you know what this does?"
He turned to a nearby window, open because of how nice a day it was, and threw the recorder crystal out of it. Then he raised Gungnir as it charged to life.
Too late Freyja realized what he was doing. "NO!"
She shoved Thor behind her where he would be safe as Gungnir fired a shot of energy.
The shot connected with the crystal and for a moment it hovered there glowing, then it exploded. Freyja raised her hand and a bubble-like shield appeared around the shard, absorbing most of the explosion. It could not however stop the shockwave that shattered the glass inward. She was slightly tempted to not block the glass and leave Odin vulnerable, but he was still her king so she raised a ward in front of him and made sure Thor was still safe behind her.
The explosion faded and Freyja repaired the window with a flick of her fingers. Then she turned to Odin. "You idiot! You insane idiot! Recorder crystal are made of pure magic and you shoot it with a pure energy beam?!"
Odin spun Gungnir out of an attack position, but left it charged. "I-"
"You what?" Freyja demanded. "Didn't know? Any mage knows better, Hel, any non-mage knows better than to mix two such volatile forces. You're just as stupid as Heimdall, mixing an energy wave from Excalibur with Bifrost's lightning and then he feigns surprise of Bifrost's injury. Maybe you should-"
"Maybe I should what, Freyja?" Odin asked, voice low and dangerous. There were only a few scarce feet between them.
The feathers on Freyja's clock ruffled, detecting her anger. The mage made sure her magic was in reach before answering. "Maybe you should consider scheduling Thor's coronation."
"What are you suggesting?"
"I am suggesting that you are letting your vendetta against Laufey alter your judgment," Freyja hissed darkly. "Blowing up my recorder crystal is nice proof of that."
Thor watched warily as the two adults faced off. He could feel that both of their magic's were charged from the way it made his fingertips tingle. Were they honestly going to fight?
Fandral sighed as he walked to breakfast, a new set of rapiers by his side. His head was spinning from the recording he had just watched. Loki was… innocent? Beside him, Volstagg walked silently. Normally the friends would banter, but they were each lost in their own thoughts.
On Fandral's other side was his youngest sister Tanda. Tanda flexed her hand, turquoise eyes set. Her wand glittered by her side, picking up on her excitement. Only mages that could not channel their magic correctly had to fall back and rely on a wand, and Loki had made Tanda's for her long ago.
Fandral would bet that Tanda was excited. He couldn't imagine what the Raven Blades must be thinking. As long as they don't get anywhere near Blood Wolves everyone should be fine.
"Tanda," Fandral finally said.
The girl looked up at him curiously.
"Keep quiet about your opinion," he told her.
Tanda opened her mouth to say something, but Fandral shook his head. "I know exactly what you're thinking, and i know you're glad Loki's innocent. You want to be a Raven Blade. Most of Asgard is set against Loki though, and the last thing I want is for Asgard to take sides over Loki. That would only cause a rift between us."
"All right brother," Tanda sighed. "I'll be quiet."
I wonder, Tanda thought. If Loki's innocent then are the Raven Blades still disbanded? She had told Angborn before that she wanted to be a cadet of the Ravens. Could she still?
The doors to the dining hall were thrown open as a pair of Asgardians crashed into the hallway, brawling. One was a Raven Blade and the otehr was a Blood Wolf. Someone had let the two squadrons too close to each other.
Fandral looked up to the dining hall. In front of him, the Raven Blades, Blood Wolves, and quite a few other Star Guard were fighting. The group stopped the scene in front of them.
"So much for not taking sides," Fandral sighed. He rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Tanda, could you go and get help?"
Tanda nodded at her brother, and went back the way they had come.
Fandral and Volstagg glanced at each other. They had better break this up. Volstagg was frustrated, for now he would have to fight instead of eating breakfast. That was wonderful.
Loki sat in his cell as he sulked, and looked at his bare feet. This was infuriating. He was caught again. Angborn had died in vain. Nothing changed.
One of the guards outside his cell made a noise and there was the sound of something falling to the ground.
Loki ignored it. When I get free I am going to make Asgard suffer, not just for what it did to me but for Angborn. Surely Angborn would like to see Asgard burn to.
The noises repeated themselves, and Loki finally looked up to glare at the guards. They were gone. There was a line of red dots on one of the gold walls of his cell that slowly dripped down. Was that? Loki stood and stepped closer. It was – blood.
The body of a guard was lying on the steps of his cell. His blood continued to run down the gold wall. Another guard lay slain not far from the first. What was going on now?
Someone walked into his line of sight. They were had purple skin and two antennae. She was dressed in all black, with a hilt on her side and some sort of blaster on the other. Loki recognized her species as a Syvar. What was a Syvar doing on Asgard killing guards?
The Syvar turned away from him, and Loki tried to place the design on the back of her jacket. There were three rings of red cloth on either one of her forearms. Loki's breath froze and his eyes widened in recognition of the uniform. This Syvar was a servant of the Celestials!
Loki strained to hear an alarm, but all was silent. Asgard doesn't know she's here. Ha! I told you Odin! I told you the Celestials would return but did you believe me, no! I'll bet she didn't come alone either, he thought excitedly. This had just got interesting.
The Syvar touched a silver loop of metal around her wrist, and it glowed. She placed two fingers on her neck where her pulse was. Loki recognized the glimmer of the air around the bracelet as magic. Was she going to do a spell? Only those of the Realms have the inherit ability to use magic.
*Prisoners of Asgard!*
Loki jumped as the Syvar's voice shouted clearly in his mind. The bracelet must be enchanted to let her mindspeak. That meant that the Celestials have a mage of the Realms on their side.
*I am Virana of the Celestial Regime, and I bring you glad tidings*
Loki walked closer to the cell's barrier. His muzzle was still in place and his hands bound behind his back, but his eyes narrowed curiously. The Syvar – Virana – looked straight at him. There was something in her gaze that Loki didn't like.
Virana tapped the bracelet again and it glowed white-hot. *Your freedom.*
She raised her hand and an energy wave exploded outward from the bracelet. Loki jumped back, and turned away from the cell wall. The walls of golden magic that had been trapping him exploded inward. He fell to the ground, unable to catch himself.
He shook his head, and felt the burning sensation of the magical restrainer cuffs increase and then fade away. Loki's hands moved apart, free. He turned his head to where the metal cuffs lay lifeless on the ground.
There was a clicking noise from Loki's muzzle and it loosened perceptibly. Loki paused in surprise, and then quickly reached up and tore the damnable thing off of his face. He took a deep breath of the blood-scented air. Freedom. My, air had never tasted so sweet.
Amazingly, there was still no alarm.
*My general is about to lead an attack of Celestial ground troops to Asgard* Virana explained. *As long as you don't attack them, you'll be fine.*
Her magic bracelet was badly cracked, and when she teleported away Loki felt the magic of the bracelet break.
Loki stood slowly in surprise. At that moment the ground rumbled slightly, and Loki strained to hear the noise of chaos unfolding above the surface. After a few seconds, alarms finally began to ring. He had a feeling that the alarm was not alerting Asgard of a prisoner break.
A smile spread across his features. "Asgard is under attack!"
He stepped up to the cracked cell wall, and carefully set his foot on one of the marble steps. Then he hopped down the few feet to the dungeon hallway, and relieved both of the fallen guards of their daggers. Warily, the other prisoners crept out of their cells. They hovered on the steps, unsure if the freedom was true.
Loki waved them on. "Come, come, let's give Asgard a surprise."
Finally, one of the prisoners, a blonde Marauder, stepped outside.
"Kasir," one of the others whispered.
Kasir ignored him, and paused outside the cell. Then he smiled and waved his cellmates out. I'm free. Now I need to find Fandral and kill him.
The other prisoners stepped out into the hallways. When they were not thrown back into their cell or killed they ran at the dead Star Guard scattered across the hallway, and began to fight over their gear and weapons. Nearly all of the prisoners were Marauders as Asgard had been so busy catching them that they had filled the cells.
Loki walked a few steps up the stairs that led out the outside to watch the prisoners. So petty, just like humans, and I stand above them. That is how it should be for a king. His eyesight blurred and he braced himself as a dizzy spell muddled his senses. He put a hand over his eyes and brushed his short, ragged black hair out of his face. His magic was sapped from that cell, and he needed a dose.
One of the prisoners managed to get free of the crowd with a guard's sword in hand. He ran up to Loki and as he was brushing past the prince, Loki stuck out a foot to trip up the unsuspecting convict. The prisoner did a face plant onto the stairs. Loki kicked the stolen sword down the steps and knelt while the prisoner was stunned.
He had learned many 'tricks' from his time with Chthon, including how to steal lifeforce. As the prisoner tried to move, Loki's hand sank into his clothes and skin. Gold from the prisoner's soul traveled to Loki's hand and veins. The prince closed his eyes as he relished in the taste of another's lifeforce. When he was done, Loki withdrew his hand from the lifeless body. His magic sang from the dose.
"There," Loki whispered with another smile, "that's better."
Some of the prisoners were dead from the infighting and more had been standing too close to the forceshield of their cell when it exploded inward to survive, but those that were left had stopped their fighting and stared at him. Loki stepped down and kicked his victim's sword back at the other prisoners, hitting the hilt with the side of his foot. The prisoners stepped back and stared at it for a moment before fighting over it again.
Loki gave them an amused smile as he turned and continued walking back up the stairs. His bare feet were cold on the tiles and the chill of death that hung in the air of the cells penetrated his thin clothing. Enough of this, Loki thought at last. He sent out his magic and wisps of gold shimmered around his form.
He set his foot down on the next step only now it was in his boot. There was a sudden weight on his shoulders as his duster materialized, the bottom hem of the jacket nearly touching his knees. His armor appeared on his arms and shoulder but he ignored the majority of it. If there were Celestials then he needed speed more than anything.
Again, his magic whined as Loki used it a chunk of it to summon his clothes back to him just like he had done in Germany when he had been causing a distraction for Barton.
He intended to drop the stolen daggers in favor of his own weapons, but when he tried to reach out to his gear he hit a mental wall. Loki winced and glared telepathically at the block. His weapons were hidden from him. Until he found them and manually released whatever hex was keeping them, he supposed he was stuck with normal blades. Reluctantly, Loki tucked the stolen blades into his belt and kept walking up his stairs.
Ahead was the way outside of the dungeon. It was surprisingly quiet behind him. The prisoners must have finally stopped fighting over everything. There were footsteps behind him from the prisoners following him up the stairs. The last one that had tried to run past him had gotten killed, so these were wisely staying behind him.
There were the doors to the outside now. Loki appraised the last obstacle between himself and freedom, and traced a hand over it. The air glimmered and an irritated gold around his hand, crackling warningly. A forcefield was always present over the doors, but a much stronger one had awakened when the alarm went off.
Loki couldn't just brush this one away. This one he had to break. He turned to the Marauder named Kasir near him and took the sword from him. Wisely, the Kasir didn't complain. Fortunate for him.
Loki focused another piece of his magic to the blade and let it crackle over its surface. He took a step back and then swung. There was a flash of light when the enchanted blade hit the ward as the ward shattered into tiny fragments.
When the flash faded, the lock was broken and the shards of the barriers were lying on the floor or fluttering to the ground like a swarm of glittering feathers. Loki switched the sword to one hand, and summoned the remains of the shield to his hand. Energy coursed through him once again.
He smiled and offered the hilt back to Kasir. "Now you have a sword-shatterer."
Kasir looked at the power crackling over the metal as it sank into the blade, leaving it with a slight golden glow by the hilt. His eyes were full of awe. Then he took it as if he expected it to explode.
Loki ignored him, and stepped forward. After a hesitant moment he pushed the doors open with both of his hands. The early morning light poured into the doorway, and Loki turned his head away as he let the doors move away from him. His magic wove into his eyesight and dimmed it to an acceptable level for him.
He stared at the sight that lay before him. The prisoners slowly followed Loki outside, and they to stared. The sounds of battle, of shouts and blood and steel echoed across Asgard.
A Celestial fighter ship soared low overhead and its backflow from the engines ruffled their hair. It did not fire directly on them but instead blew an airship out of the sky, killing its Asgardian crew instantly.
"Asgard is under attack," Kasir whispered.
The prisoners hovered near the doorway, and Loki might imagine they were clinging to him. They need a push, and they would make a nice distraction for his escape.
"Go," Loki ordered, "play. Have fun." He waved a hand beyond where people were running every which way. "I doubt anyone will have time to be guarding anything."
Treasures abound, many treasures abound, unguarded and open. It was too tantalizing an image, and finally the prisoners starting moving. They streamed past Loki, but none came close enough to bump him out of respect of his power.
Loki's magic chimed a warning as someone bumped into his sense line, and he looked up. He could sense that Heimdall had just turned his orange eyes from the battle, and had seen what was happening with growing horror.
"Catch me if you can," Loki whispered, knowing Heimdall would be able to read his lips. He waved at Heimdall and made his magic sparkle around him.
The ghosting technique kicked in and Heimdall lost Loki in his clairvoyant sight. Heimdall hated Loki's ghosting. He worked quickly to alert Asgard of the new threat.
I finally get to watch Loki burn, Loki thought with a smile. His stomach grumbled. First though, I think I need something to eat.
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