Chapter Nine: Trials Of Mischief
Halls of Valhalla, Asgard- Year of Skammdegí
The Allfather Odin sat upon Hliðskjálf in the great hall full of anguish and turmoil. His presence, while fierce, lacked in confidence. The great god’s beard was matted. His hair gray and unkempt. He reeked of sorrow and mourn, but despite his looks, his Asgardian armor resting upon his body radiated with such power and intensity. The aura he emitted no matter his appearance was made known to those he ruled, but even a king of gods could be vulnerable to the grief he felt churning within.
Hugin and Munin, loyal to the god alone, flew above his head. Their charcoaled feathered wings flapped in the wind circling Odin like a shield. Echoes of their cawing spread throughout, sensing his distress. The prophecy he feared has now fallen upon Asgard quicker than he could ever imagine. Ragnarök was soon to come, and in his eyes, there was but one person to blame for the commencement of the realm’s ill-fated demise. Odin’s wife Frigg, distraught and frail to the touch, joined her husband’s side sharing the pain he felt. Placing her hand on his shoulder, he reached for hers, desperately needing the comfort she was willing to provide. Breathing out deeply, the doors of Valhalla opened up to begin the trial.
Residents of Asgard came flooding inside in a single file line. They all sat upon chairs made from melted shields and swords that honorable warriors used in the name of the Allfather himself. The ceiling above them molded from golden armor, and the floors beneath their feet were laid with stunning marble that only the most skilled craftsmen of the nine realms could cut and produce. In the eyes of the people, it was a privilege to be sat in such a place. They genuinely believed it connected them with Odin and the wisdom he provides to the council and the realms he protects. Despite this fantastic structure they were in, today of all days was not to have one’s mind led astray. They were here on an urgent matter that none wish was real.
Soldiers of Odin came in last with weapons at the ready. Making a clear path from the door to the throne, they separated the people from the fellow inmate who was about to be condemned for his crimes. Odin himself wanted to ensure there was no room for error. To him and Frigg, this was the most crucial trial ever to come into fruition.
As everyone waited patiently for the prisoner to arrive, Odin and Frigg became antsy. Both knew the outcome of this trial before it was started. No mercy or begging would dare budge Odin’s final verdict because deep down in his heart, their fate was already sealed. He wanted to punish the god, who murdered his most beloved son. Hands shackled behind his back and mouth sowed with a metallic thread, the guards dragged the god through the doors and down the hall towards Odin. His long, straggly, black hair masked his malnourished face. All you could hear was the heavy breathing of a murderer coming to meet his sentence. Dropping the inmate to his knees, the guards bowed at Odin before stepping a few feet back, keeping a close eye on the convict.
The inmate slowly lifted his head up. Odin saw bruises across his face and chest. Whoever kept guard made sure he had a warm welcome. In normal circumstances, Odin would be furious. Treating someone with such disrespect before proving their innocence was a crime in itself on Asgard. But in this case, Odin felt the actions justified the means. Waving away the thread that held his lips shut, the god moved his jaw around, relieved of the burden cast on him.
Looking up at Odin in a smug manner, he spoke. “Allfather, no amount of words I could conjure would express my gratitude as I’m forced to kneel before you. One could not ask for such a grander audience. Will Hodr join as well?”
With disgust in his eyes, Odin wanted to strike him. He felt his blood boil beneath his skin. How could someone commit a vile act and then utter such a disdained comment? Hatred filled Odin’s words while replying back. “Silence your tongue, Loki.”
Both remained silent for a brief moment before Loki antagonized the situation further. “Honestly, the slightest fathom escapes me as to such an audience?”
“Do not play coy boy,” Odin responded in a robust malevolent tone. “You are here upon the great hall being charged with murdering our son and heir, Baldur.” He looked up at Frigg, who had tears streaming down her face. As fierce of a warrior she is, even a strong woman weeps for their own child that was taken before their time.
“Foresight must be hazed, Allfather,” Loki stated. “I did not kill Baldur.”
“You dare deny?” Odin countered. “Did you not give and persuade Hodr to use the weapon to commit the act?”
Thinking on his feet, he knew he couldn’t lie to Odin. He was bound to him. No false words could dare be utilized. Instead, Loki manipulated the answer as he did best. “Giving a weapon to a blind god is one of such doings I’ve done. One act I did not commit was to force the hand to throw such a weapon.”
Odin laughed unamused. “Loki, you truly do have ways with twisting words. A silver-tongued serpent living among the people waiting for chaos. Forcing one’s hand you may not have done, but persuading Hodr to strike Baldur down knowing the knowledge of his outcome is murder nonetheless.”
“Define persuasion, Allfather? There are, any different variations of Persuasion that we know of, I’m assuming that--”
Slamming his rod down on the ground, a high-pitched piercing sound rushed throughout the hall. Loki fell silent as Odin slowly rose from his throne. Walking sternly toward Loki, he grabbed him by his tattered shirt and lifted him in the air. Staring him in the eye, Odin spoke with animosity. “You dare make such mockeries Of this trial? After the wretched acts, you have committed in this realm?”
“I do mock this trial,” Loki admitted wholeheartedly. “Faces in this room tell their stories. Judgment has been cast on me since I was a mere boy. An outcast from the people I was forced to take refuge in, a home you destroyed.”
Tears of resentment started to fill Loki’s eyes. “I Loki, the forgotten orphan of Jötunheim, have never been a part of Asgard or its people. Not one Asgardian has ever made me feel so. I did NOT kill Baldur! I did NOT force Hodr’s hand in the killing. Your family scorned him, neglected him, all while praising another unconditionally. All I’m guilty of is trying to make him apart of something that you all refused.”
Leaning closer to Odin, Loki whispered to him. “I so wish to be the monster you see before your eyes, but I am not that. The true monster in this room is the one having me by the throat. It is why it does not matter the words I speak. True to heart or not, my sentence has already been bound to me long before this trail. Dare say otherwise, Allfather?”
Shaking his head, Odin pressed his staff against Loki’s chest. “Foolish and arrogant boy. Your pompous ways have sealed the fate of this realm. You do not know what it is you have started.”
Loki laughed dementedly between gasps. “Ragnarök,” Loki muttered. Odin’s eyes filled with fear. “Those are the whispers that fly in the winds of night. Are you frightened, Allfather? Are you frightened of your own fate? Of what’s to befall on you?”
Dropping Loki to the floor, Odin turned his back on him and sat back down. He could not believe how callous Loki was. If anything, he relished in it. Feeling defeated inside emotionally, Odin decided not to drag the trial out any further.
“How shall I be punished by the king? A painful Death? Just as you did, poor Hodr? Just as you did to MY people?” Loki blurted with venomous rage.
“Death would welcome you gladly, Loki.” Leaning back, he tapped his finger against the temple of his skull and spoke further. “Alas, my punishment for you is far beyond my mind to muster, but I know of one who can.” Standing back up on his feet, he recited the final verdict to the court. “For such a heinous crime that has been stained on our realm, Loki, son of Fárbauti and Laufey, child of Jötunhiem, and murderer of our son Baldur, shall only answer to the one god who sought your punishment.”
Thunder erupted outside the great hall explosively. Hints of flickering blue light crackled in the air so potently that every Asgardian could feel the hairs on their bodies stand up. People whispered to one another in concern while Loki remained kneeled. Odin stared intently at him, knowing the fear that soon plagued within. Out of all gods, there was one Loki feared more than Odin’s wrath, and he was about to make his presence known.
A gust of violent wind swung the doors open as a bearded man walked in with haste. His long, fair, blonde hair rested on his bronze Asgardian armor with Mjolnir securely strapped to his waist. Built like a chiseled statue, his blue eyes were occupied with thought while he came down the aisle carrying two bound and gagged captives over his shoulders. Dropping them next to Loki, the vengeful god grabbed the trickster’s head and kneed him in the face. Groaning and cursing from the pain, Loki felt blood dripping from his nose down to his chin.
Loathingly looking downward, the god said, “For my brother, you filth.”
Loki slowly started to chuckle. “Ah yes, Thor. The mindless soldier. You entrusted such priorities to a brute? I must say, the years of indolence must have rattled one’s mind. You have thought him poorly.”
“My son may not be as clever witted as you, Loki. He may not be as manipulative and or conniving, but he is sufficient in protecting his family. For example,” he waved his hand, commanding Thor to reveal the identities of the other two prisoners.
Loki stared at them in horror. His heart sunk to his stomach and his lip quivered with sorrow. How could he not have known it was them? He gazed upon Narfi and Vali, his two children he thought would never dare be here, kneeled by their father’s side, unfairly convicted of his transgressions. Lowering his head, all he could do was conjure the vilest scenarios that were going to embark on them.
“Your treachery has consequences. You have only yourself to blame. Your children’s downfall weighs upon you now.” Thor commanded two guards to grab his sons as he personally handled the mischievous god. Picking him up off the ground, Thor threw Loki over his shoulder and began walking away.
Loki then lifted his head and locked eyes with Odin. His sadness dwindled, and his anger soon resurfaced. Smiling vindictively at him, he uttered something that would haunt the realm of Asgard until its coming days. “I shall see you all upon Ragnarök.”Ending upon those ominous words, Thor and the other two guards left the hall with the prisoners by their side.