Shadows of the Past

Ally

Angborn Eirillson strode down the hallway, boots clacking loudly, furious. There were several reasons for that. The biggest one was Odin sentencing Loki to death. Then Thor ran away to Midgard yesterday. And there was of course, Jeren's tendency to end up in the dungeon – which was where he was now, again.

The Star Guard by the dungeon let him pass unchallenged. They were used to Jeren being in here to. Angborn didn't pause his walk but he apprised Loki as he went by his cell. Just as he had been since yesterday when his sentence had been passed he was sitting up against the farthest corner, hands in his lap, sleeping. Of course, Angborn knew Loki well enough to tell he was only feigning sleep.

Jeren was the Vice Commander – 2nd in command essentially – of the Raven Blades and in a cell further down. Heimdall had used the Tesseract to rebuild the Bifrost and so Asgard had been busy capturing Marauders. The outlaw's yearlong freedom from Asgard's retaliation was over. Asgard had been busy and the cells Angborn passed were full of Marauders awaiting their sentence, sometimes as many as five per cell.

Jeren, like most Æsir/Light Elvin hybrids, looked and fought more like an elf. He was smart enough not to try Loki's tactic of feigning sleep. When Angborn neared, Jeren stood and walked over to the gold forcefield that covered one wall of his cell. "Angborn I-"

"Quiet," Angborn snapped. Jeren quieted. "What-were-you-thinking?" He slowly said each word, emphasizing every syllable.

Jeren locked his fingers together behind his back. "I was thinking I didn't like the way Jaro's nose looked." Both were used to Jeren being down here and Jeren tried a different excuse every time, if only to add some variance.

"So you broke it," Angborn glared.

Jeren looked at the floor, already feeling the blush rise. Why did you nod at me to attack those Wolves? Why did you want me to fight then and now you're acting like this? "Would you rather I have let him get away with what he said? Those wolves need to be muzzled."

"Agreed," Angborn consented. "However, I do expect my Vice Commander to be mature enough not to get into a five-on-one brawl over some stupid insults."

"I won it! One Raven is worth ten Wolves. What do you mean wasn't worth it?" Jeren feigned confusion now, beginning to understand Angborn's play. "Loki gave me an chance, me, some street rat, and took a huge risk doin it." He slipped back into his street slang. "Besides, it's not like we're gonna get attacked by the Celestials or something while I'm here!"

"It's not funny to mention the Celestials, even in a joke. Don't you remember how many warriors we lost in the war against them?"

"Yes I do," Jeren promised, "for every one we took down four of our guys died. At least we beat them."

"They left, there's a difference," Angborn pointed out. "And there's no promise that they won't come back." As for Loki, he had considered Loki a brother for a long time now despite being an only child – but had never told him. That's why Loki acted so stupid last week and was banned from all visitors. That's why I had to order Jeren to get into a fight and get thrown into the dungeon in order to even see Loki.

He looked up, eyes flickering to Jeren. "You getting yourself locked in the dungeons right now is not helping anyone, especially Loki. Now, I'm down one Raven and the best archer on Asgard."

Jeren noticed Angborn's wording: especially Loki… Did he? Of course Angborn had a plan, he wasn't going to let anyone kill Loki. Getting me into the dungeon was just to check in on our prince. He'll need the rest of us Ravens with him if he wants to stand a chance of helping Loki escape.

Angborn couldn't verbally say or coordinate anything with anyone. Odin likely suspected that the Raven Blades might try something, he'd have Heimdall watching them. Not even Sefæra, Jeren's twin sister, was a strong enough mage to be able to sense if they were being spied on. They had to assume then, that they always were. This wouldn't be the first time the Ravens had disobeyed Odin in favor of Loki.

"Ah," Jeren scuffed his foot. "I'll leave Jaro's nose alone next time I see it, whenever I get out of here that is." The words were hallow, he'd start fighting with Jaro again; it was the promise in them that made the difference. A promise to help save his prince.

"Good," Angborn turned on his heel. With Jeren's yes, that meant that he had all the Ravens on his side. He was unsure if he should contact Amora. She was a powerful mage that wasn't attached to any squad and a friend of the Ravens. Her loyalty to Loki was not as strong as a Ravens though, and he couldn't risk her tipping off Odin. As he was walking back up the hallway he started hearing shouts of "catch it!"

Frowning, he jogged around the corner of the hall.

On the stairway that led outside was a black ribbon not quite three feet long that was keeping four Guards too terrified to move. Angborn rolled his eyes and quickened his pace. Those idiots, a Raven would know better than to try and stop Slítas. As he went to break them up he paused by Loki's cell and banged on the gold forceshield. Loki's cell was a corner one and two walls were made of the gold energy. "Wake up before your cobra gets killed! I know you're faking. Slítas!" Angborn called as he ran over to the stairs and knelt down closer to the snake's eye level. "He's behind me!"

Slítas paused, cobra hood puffed, and turned to face Angborn, the crystals by his eyes a furious red. They turned a more curious gold as he looked past Angborn to Loki's cell. Sure enough, he could see his master. He retracted his hood slightly. One of the guards tried to step forward and quickly backed up when Slítas turned to hiss at him, reflaring his hood, prehensile whip-like tail waving.

"Slítas." Angborn repeated, sounding like he was scolding the cobra.

The snake glared at the guard a second more before slithering over to Angborn. He let the Captain pick him up, looping his body around the Æsir's arm once to make his perch more stable.

Angborn stood, snake on his arm. "Obviously you lot haven't had much contact with Slítas. Rule One: don't try and touch him. Rule Two: let him go where he wants, he knows which areas in the palace are forbidden to him. Rule Three: don't get between him and Loki. It's been a year since he last saw Loki, of course Slítas is going to track him down."

The guards looked sheepish.

Angborn turned and walked back down to Loki's cell, the guards warily following. Loki had dropped the sleeping act but hadn't shifted positions, watching the approaching group like a predator sizing up prey, the muzzle covering half his face made his emotions impossible to read. Slítas bobbed his head at Loki cheerfully.

Angborn knew better than to drop one of the forceshields that made up Loki's cell. Instead he made a gap in one. It was meant to slide a food tray through but Slítas was small enough that when he dropped to the floor he could fit. Once Slítas's tail was through Angborn removed his hand and the gap disappeared.

Loki adjusted his position, pulling his bare feet close to him, staring at Slítas as though it were an alien. Slítas's crystals were a happy blue but clouded to orange when Loki moved away from him. He bobbed his head, confused.

"Sir," one of the gathered guard addressed Angborn.

Angborn sighed. "I know, the Allfather isn't going to like this, but he never did like anything to do with Loki." There were only seven – six days now – until his prince was going to be killed and Angborn needed a miracle to save him. If I fail then at least he can say goodbye to Slítas. "If you wish to go in there and take Slítas from Loki then feel free."

The guard that had spoken hesitated.

"Of course," Angborn continued, "Loki created the Raven Blades and we Ravens know how to fight when cuffed. He certainly proved he could last week. If you're truly insistent then I shall't stop you but don't blame me for watching."

Glaring at the truth, the Guard shut up.

Angborn smiled slightly, amused. He saw Loki watching him. His prince's emotions were tight under control but Angborn could tell that Loki was baffled. "If no one is going to do anything then you're all dismissed," Angborn nodded. "Back to your posts."

They reluctantly dispersed.

Slítas inched closer to Loki and gently head butted his foster-fathers hand. Loki was confused by Angborn's actions but he looked down at Slítas. Unsure still, he moved his hands, the cuffs making the movement awkward, and stroked Slítas on the back of his head. The cobra relaxed, leaning into Loki's hand, crystals a dark, blissful violet. He spiraled up Loki's arm, coiling there, head resting by his master's neck. If the cobra could purr, he would be.

Angborn wasn't sure, the muzzle hid much of Loki's already inscrutable features, but it seemed his prince was smiling.

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