Captain Jaro Grímarrson apprised the newest member of his Blood Wolves. She had only gotten this promotion a week ago after helping stop the son of Laufey from escaping. He had to admit, she looked nice in her white tunic with its slashes of red. The blood red wolf head howling at a crescent moon on white – the Blood Wolves symbol – was on her right breast and would be on her shield as well once it was finished being retouched.
She twirled her double bladed staff, testing the fit of her new clothes. Even her staff had gotten a makeover, it was now white with red designs by the silver blades on either end. The clothes were a little snugger then she'd like but she didn't complain, instead she nodded.
"I'm glad you like them," Jaro smiled. "You'll have your shield back tomorrow and your armor the day after. I have no doubt you'll make a lethal addition to my pack Lieutenant Sif."
Sif lowered her blade, "yes sir," she said.
"I hope you don't mind if we go Raven hunting every now and then," Jaro told her as he walked around, apprising her.
Sif smiled. "That would be a pleasure."
The feud between the Wolves and the Ravens was well known. You never got Wolf colors if you liked Loki, Jaro had made sure of that. The opposite was true for the Ravens.
Someone opened the door and ran in. "Lo-Loki and Thor, they were…" The Wolf was too out of breath to make sense. He tried saluting.
"At ease," Jaro ordered.
The Wolf took a breath and tried again. "Thor is back. He went into Loki's cell armed. They fought. Angborn broke them up before Loki could kill Thor. Angborn went behind Odin's back to bring Thor to Loki."
Jaro leaned back in surprise. "Angborn disobeyed a direct order." A wolf like smile spread across his features. "Angborn disobeys a direct order from Odin and now this happens. What is the current status?"
"Loki's contained and Thor is with Fey. His injuries will be gone in the morning. Loki was not hurt," the Wolf seemed irritated by the last part.
"Excellent," Jaro clapped his hands together. "What is your name, uh, private?" He saw the Wolves rank stripes.
The Wolf saluted, "Svanr Uffison sir."
"Svanr you come with me," Jaro ordered. "Sif I believe you shall find this interesting as well. Let's see if we can use this event to clip some Raven wings."
Angborn stood before Odin with neither armor nor blade. His Vice Commander stood to the left of him, and Syn, one of the Ravens three generals, stood on the right. Jaro, Svanr, and Sif were across from them. Odin was between the two groups, back to the Wolves. "Explain yourself Angborn."
Angborn didn't flinch from Odin's glare. "If I may speak freely?"
Odin had a feeling he was going to regret saying "proceed" as soon as he said it.
"You believe there is no way to redeem Loki, to bring him back. You are wrong. You've been foolish enough to not even try." Angborn barely blinked.
Most everyone gave a little start at that. Even if permission is given you are not supposed to speak to the Allfather like that. Jeren bit his cheek to keep his face emotionless and his smile hidden. Syn was busy having a glare off with Sif.
"Meaning what?" Odin demanded. He was used to people flinching from him, falling in line when he raised his voice, but the Ravens were most certainly Loki's. It had been a long time since Loki had flinched from him.
"Loki had a blade to Thor's throat," Angborn continued, not perturbed in the least. "I did shout at him not to but with the forcefield up I could not physically stop him. He choose himself not to kill his sibling." He knew calling Thor and Loki siblings would irritate Odin. "That is still Loki. He needs help not an execution."
"How dare you Raven!" Jaro spat, "The Allfather's word is law."
Angborn didn't respond to the kiss up. He was tempted to say exactly what he thought about Odin but decided he was in enough trouble already.
"This is not about the son of Laufey," Odin dismissed. "You disobeyed a direct order that there was to be no contact between my son and the prisoner. Due to that, Thor was nearly killed."
Thro was never in any true danger, Angborn thought back.
"As for the arrangements of Laufeyson's execution…"
Angborn tensed slightly. He was even more set to help Loki escape now. If the Ravens weren't walking alongside Loki then they had no chance to "cause a little distraction" or an "accident" that might result in him getting away.
"The execution shall proceed on schedule," Odin promised. "The Ravens shall have no more contact with Laufey's son. They will not be present at the arena. At the execution the Blood Wolves shall act as escort."
Amazingly enough, it was Jaro who saved them. "Sir, if I may be so bold…"
Odin glanced at him, nodding slightly. Jaro would not be so insolent.
"Allow them to be present. My Wolves can handle any trouble," Jaro promised. Even if it means breaking a few Raven's necks. "Laufey's son created the Ravens. It would be fitting, symbolically, if the Ravens died with him. Let their presence be their last act."
Odin thought about it. "Very well," he said finally. "I shall wait the two days before disbanding them."
What an honor, Jeren growled to himself.
"As for the Raven Blades," Odin continued. "Many of your numbers are form the lower classes." He spoke the words with disdain, directing them at Angborn as if scolding him for letting commoners join his ranks. Angborn was Commander Vir and General Tyr's nephew, a noble but Syn and Jeren were far from noble.
Syn's glare found a new target. She and Jeren had been orphans. Jeren had kept both Syn and Myrit, a boy that turned out to be a hawk Animagus, safe. The feathers in Myrit's hair assured him a place in the palace. The only reason a couple of street rats like Jeren and Syn had stayed was because they were the closest thing Myrit had to family and he promised to use his Wild Magic on the hunting dogs, war horses, and stray cats of Asgard to raise Fel if they tried to break the three of them up. They were not the only orphans in the Ravens.
"They have remained this long but shall be examined to see if they are it to stay in the Guard. All those of your squad that did not attend the Academy will have to." Odin's gaze flickered to Jeren and Syn. "As for yourself Angborn, I do not need a Captain that disobeys a direct order because a traitor tells him differently. I will not have people like that in the Guard. Once your squad has been disbanded you shall not be."
At first, Angborn didn't understand. I shall not be… I'm being discharged from the Star Guard?
Jaro felt another grin growing.
"Yes sir," Jaro snapped to attention, hiding his smile with effort.
"Your squad shall take the Ravens place. Choose three of your people to escort Laufey's son." Odin ordered.
"Report your choices to me tomorrow. Dismissed everyone."
The Wolves and the Ravens had their sections on the opposite sides the barracks. Everyone knew by now that the less contact there was between the Ravens, the less patients Fey had to tend to.
Most of the Raven's Blades were gathered in their wing, eating. They to, knew of Loki's and Thor's fight and the mood was low. No one spoke much; mostly they just asked each other to pass the salt or the potatoes or something like that. When Jeren and Syn came in with Angborn they quieted even more.
Angborn couldn't meet their eyes, any of them. He walked away from Jeren and Syn to the front of the hall. Normally, Angborn sat at a different table every week. This meant he knew all their names, their ranks, their family – those who had family, and some of their misadventures.
"Odin has," Angborn tried to announce. His voice wavered off and he took a breath to try again. "Who here has been through the Star Guard's Academy?"
That caught everyone off guard. Hodr frowned at his plate, wishing right now that he could see Angborn, but his eyes had not worked for a very long time. Harwin, the other General besides Hodr and Syn slowly set down his mug.
Refr and Reinn, twin brothers that always fought with other, looked at each other. They had been through the Academy but what was Angborn going on about? "We have," Refr said, or was it Reinn?
Slowly, a teenager with bright orange hair raised a hand. "I have as well Captain."
Angborn winced at the title Captain. "You're Aron aren't you? One of the jeren's new cadets?"
Cadet Aron nodded, amazed Angborn remembered his name. All one had to do was look at the longbow and quiver he had to guess he was one of Jeren's archers.
"Three," Angborn whispered. Three plus me. Of the whole squad we alone went through the Academy and are immune to Odin's demand of examinations. Knowing Odin, not a single other member of my squad will stay in the Guard. Only the twins and Aron will keep their rank. He'll throw everyone else back onto the streets.
Angborn knew he wouldn't keep the title Captain after the Ravens were dissolved but he knew he'd keep a high rank. He had been planning on using the power that came with his rank to pull a few strings to help his people. "Odin is going to make everyone else take examination in three days' time to determine if they stay in the Guard."
Instantly, everyone started shouting. They knew as well that if that was the case, they wouldn't stay. Angborn raised a hand and everyone quieted. Part of it was their respect for him and part of it was the fact that his hand was badly trembling.
"We will be present at Loki's execution however the Blood Wolves will have escort so we will not be near him." Angborn took a breath. "In two days time when the Ravens are dissolved I will be discharged from the Star Guard."
Now everyone really started shouting. They knew Odin would be mad at them but they ought to leave their Captain out of it. Vir was planning on making Angborn the next Commander of the entire Star Guard army! That was foul play.
Unable to keep his emotions under control, Angborn turned and left, relying on Jeren and Syn to explain things. His squad's loyalty to him was touching. He didn't stop walking until he got to his office and slammed the door shut.
The Ravens were left looking helplessly. One of the open windows let a breeze in and a hawk flew in. It was a mature red-tailed hawk, its feathers wet with a light mist that had appeared. He flew over and landed on a perch already put there.
"Myrit," Hodr whispered, having heard the signature flap of wings and scratch of claws as he landed.
The hawk chirped a greeting and looked at the sad appearance of everyone. What had happened? Myrit flew up into the air and transformed. His feathers retracted and his wings returned to his arms. His clothes rematerialized as he touched down to the ground. Small, creamy down feathers puffed from his tannish hair and one long red tail feather hung by the right side of his face. As he did every time he returned to human form he tucked the tail feather behind his right ear.
"All right," Myrit sighed, looking around at the shocked, crestfallen, and saddened faces. "Someone tell me what happened."
In the Wolves wing of the Barracks, often called the Wolf Den, it was very noisy.
The mood of the squad was high. Ale was passed about and there were smiles and laughter and wild shouting as they celebrated. Those who had white clothes instead of red had taken off their jackets to keep the white clean. At last, the Ravens wings were clipped for good and soon they'd be gone with their founder. They wouldn't have to put up with Angborn ever again.
Cadet Askr grinned as he gulped down some of the sweet ale, glad he had asked Angborn to reassign him away from the Raven Blades. Both he and his twin Aron had originally joined the Ravens but only Askr had the good sense for a transfer. Why that fool Aron was staying with the Ravens was beyond him. Clearly, the Blood Wolves were the squad to be with, they were about to be on top in terms of power and fame.
"A toast!" One of the Wolves slurred. "TO the death of the Ravens and their Jötunn prince!"
The other Wolves echoed the toast and drank. Askr to, took another gulp. Angborn wasn't a bad Commander, just a weak one. He was like how Aron had stayed with the Ravens out of loyalty. Ha, power should come first.
Aron couldn't even be called a real warrior; he fought with a bow instead of a blade.
"I hope the Celestials come back!" A Blood Wolf shouted, slamming his mug on the table and sloshing his drink everywhere. "We'd dust 'em!"
Things quieted around the hall and Aron paused as he took a sip and lowered his own mug. He was too young to remember the war against the Celestials too well. Like most of the Asgardian children, he had been evacuated to Alfheim when the Celestials had taken control of Asgard's palace. You don't joke about the Celestials. We lost control of the palace to them during our war with them for a few days. No one's ever breached Asgard before and they took over the palace!
The volume began to rise again and Askr looked back at his drink. Jaro had already told him Askr that Aron's obvious loyalty to Loki meant his twin could never join the Wolves. That didn't bother him.
Angborn stood in front of his desk, hands on the edge, head lowered, eyes closed. Everything was falling apart.
It was infuriating! I can't keep my squad safe without a rank. Keep my squad safe, ha; I can't even keep my Prince safe! He grabbed something off his desk and threw it at the wall. There was a sound of glass breaking.
Angborn looked up. Of all the things to throw… It was a picture of his parents, a sketch that Tilaria had done for him using one of his memories for a templet. He bent down and fished the white parchment from the broken frame.
Everyone close to me gets killed. His mother, Genza, had been killed a group of Jötunn raiders that had snuck onto Asgard.
After that, he had watched the Celestials kill his father during their war with them. I helped Loki defeat the Celestials then, even if Odin had stopped us from permanently finishing them off. Loki said it was a huge mistake of Odin's to do that.
It wasn't Celestials that brought the war this time, but a race Angborn had never heard of before – the Chitauri. I can't even help Loki. Angborn traced the sketch of his father. "What do you think of me now father? You always taught me growing up that protecting the Royal family was more important than my own safety. Now he's going to be executed and I can't do anything but watch. What a failure I am…"
Tilaria had charmed the paper with protection spells when she had finished drawing and so he folded the sketch into quarters, knowing it wouldn't be damaged. He tucked it in his pocket and stood, looking at the mess of glass. There has to be something I can do to help Loki.
There has to be. I won't fail anyone else, especially Loki.
In case it wasn't clear, Jaro wanted some eye candy so he purposely made Sif's uniform a size smaller. He's a douche.