btailweaver: DC is my big fandom (Default)
[personal profile] btailweaver
Yup, still raining.

Had a rather freakish morning, waking up late and scrambling off to work. How am I so laid back now? No clue, really, but suspect my attachment to rainy days might have something to do with it. *purrrrs because the endless rains of Autumn may have just begun*

Either that, or it's because I wrote something all angsty and sniffly and terrible and it's gonna end on such a waffy note, too. But I can't think of a better way to spend a rainy afternoon.

Whew. Good solid chunk of typing, that. Much accomplished. Story's almost done.

Remind me to beat Brain-chan to death when I have a spare moment. I don't want to be sleepless like this any more for a good long time to come.

Did I get angsty? Yes. Did I get weird? Indeed. Did I get strangely metaphysical? Hell yeah. Is it only gonna get worse? -_- Uh-huh.

And here's the results of my long and difficult labors:

* * * *

Ragnarok Rewritten: A Trickster's Tears -- Part 2

* * * * *

Ragnarok had fallen into silent ashes.

Like confused schoolchildren, the thin ranks of remaining warriors on both sides milled aimlessly, friend and enemy alike. Even those minor soldiers who had little idea of higher events somehow knew that everything had changed. The din of battle had been replaced by the sharp rushing of the cold winds on the edge of Niflheim; giant and Einheriar alike shivered in the chill.

The war had not been won or lost; it had vanished like a mirage out from under them, leaving friend and foe, lost and confused, to lick their wounds and wonder.

Amid the bloodied throng, two who had been enemies walked side by side, the aimless warriors of both armies moving aside to give them clear passage.

The Thunder-god Thor strode unabashedly alongside the immense World Serpent, Jormungand. Not a few minutes ago the two had been in deathly combat; Thor's bruises were testament to the strenth of MidgardSormr's coils, and the many wounds along the serpent's glistening hide showed the ferocity with which Thor had fought. But once again they stood as allies--as they had been before Ragnarok began to tear the Worlds apart.

They made their way through the milling crowd toward a massive dark shape that loomed above the soldiers like a mountain. A huge black wolf crouched there on the battlefield beneath Yggdrasil, his thick shaggy pelt marred by too many crimson wounds to count. Beneath his heavy forepaw a smaller, armored figure lay still, alive but not struggling, pinned by the great beast's strength.

Jormungand coiled up alongside the wolf, Fenrir, running a concerned eye along his wounds. "Niisan..." the great snake hissed softly, inquiringly.

Fenrir only rumbled, watching closely as Thor stopped before them, looking down at the wolf's prey.

"Odin," spoke the Thunder-god, his voice flat and without emotion.

"Thor," replied the one trapped by the wolf's paw, equally emotionless. The leader of the Aesir, Odin the All-Father, stirred slightly to look up at the younger god standing over him.

"Something's happened," Thor said, breaking the stillness again. "Ragnarok has stopped."

There was something about the old leader's face, something harsh and twisting into satisfaction. "There has been a death," Odin replied, as smoothly as if he were still seated on his throne and not facedown in the frost beneath a giant wolf's claws. "A death which was not Written in the Ragnarok."

Thor's breath caught. A death? So many had already died. Who could have...?

Women's voices jerked him around; Freya and Frigg were already rushing to the epicenter, this small clearing in the midst of corpses and soldiers. They and many others had come to watch the End, but now that it was stopped they hurried down--Frigg to her husband's side, Freya to inquire after her brother.

"I don't know where Freyr is," Thor told her, hushing her demands. "Something's gone wrong. Odin says someone died who wasn't supposed to--"

"Died?" Freya gasped softly. "But...who?"

They would have their answer soon enough. From beyond their little group, the milling soldiers lifted cries of surprise or horror, bringing Thor once more around on guard for the intruder. The crowd encircling them at a good distance parted once more to admit the one who approached--the one who forced his way through them by the power of the vengeful death in his cold green eyes.

"Loki--!" Thor choked, almost shocked to see the Trickster god still alive. Loki was battered but whole, largely uninjured, but his face was hard and his eyes were dark and empty. And the pale, limp form in his arms--

Freya gasped again, a hand flying to her mouth in an attempt to cover her shock. Jormungand's coils stiffened in realization, and Fenrir's rumbling growl of warning changed to a low whine of sudden sadness.

Thor's face had gone bleak. "Daidouji Mayura...!" he breathed. " did she...?"

Loki ignored them all. He strode to Thor's side, stepping ahead of him, to face Odin. His expression was a wooden mask and his eyes hollow as he stared down at the All-Father, the Evil Doer, the leader of the Aesir.

With an effort, Odin heaved himself up enough to rest on his elbows, meeting Loki's stare without flinching. "So, troublemaker, you're still alive."

The older god's gaze shifted to something behind Loki; though the Trickster did not move, the Thunder-god beside him did, looking to the rear once more to see a limping Freyr assisting a badly injured Heimdall into the midst of the circle. For once, Freyr's cheerful visage was drawn and frowning, tinged with gray. Freya saw her brother and gave a cry, rushing to help the two.

"And you're alive too, my faithful Watcher." Odin chuckled darkly. "This day has seen no end of troubles."

Heimdall just looked blank, his one remaining eye fixed on what he could see of Mayura, one lifeless arm and her long, distinctive hair. He was alive, when he had expected to die without a choice; her untimely arrival had thrown off the Trickster's aim, and her sacrifice had saved his life as well as Loki's.

Heimdall was bitter, but he was not a fool.

The silence carried on until even Odin's gaze darkened at the weight of the eyes upon him. His illusion of invincibility and authority was difficult to maintain from beneath the paw of a giant wolf. Even the chill wind itself seemed to hush; not a soul spoke a word, for too much hung in balance. There was only Light and Dark, and Chaos stood on the cusp between the two.

"Bring her back."

The hissing, biting whisper did not sound like Loki at all. But his were the lips that moved, his was the voice that spoke.

Odin cocked an eyebrow, the one over his good eye. "That dead human? Whatever for? Huh, doesn't she look familiar..."

"You know why," Loki bit out, his voice never rising above the horrid rasp it had become, as venomous as a snake's rattle. "I want her back."

"You of all idiots should know the truth here."

"I don't care!" The Trickster's voice snapped out so sharply that most of those present jumped. "You're the god of War and Death! This is your cursed war, and you saw her death. Bring her back!"

"Only now you think so highly of my power? Now that I am at your mercy and you wish something of me." Odin's eyes narrowed. "Do you presume to command me, Loki of no house?"

The unveiled insult was ignored. His eyes glittering feverishly like broken emeralds, Loki set the young woman's body down on the cold ground before Odin. He held the All-Father's gaze as he spoke. "Fenrir--release him."

The giant wolf gave a snort of surprise. After seeing that Loki did not relent, the great beast hesitated a moment more before withdrawing his claws and allowing the dark god to rise.

Loki stayed where he was, kneeling at Mayura's side. Odin allowed Frigg to help him climb to his feet, and dusted himself off distastefully, straightening his helm and tossing his cloak back over his shoulder. When he was apparently pleased with his appearance, he glared scornfully down at the kneeling Trickster.

"This is how I'm more used to seeing you, Loki," the All-Father sneered. "On your knees before me."

Loki's jaw tightened as he glared up at Odin. "Bring her back."

"I owe you nothing." Odin's lip curled in disgust. "Her death was to my gain. With Ragnarok stopped, I no longer have to be devoured by"

Fenrir snarled.

"As things stand, without the Fate of Ragnarok, victory in this war could well be mine," Odin went on, his smile twisting his face. "I can reclaim what is mine and rewrite the future for myself. A future without you or your little whore in it." The Death-god spat at Mayura's still body; the lump of spittle splatted on the hem of her dress.

Thor's grip tightened on his hammer, and Loki's hands fisted so tightly his palms bled. But the Trickster god did not retaliate, did not break his gaze away from Odin's. He held steady somehow though his whole body shook with rage--and the strange glittering in his eyes still did not fade.

"I have never, never in my life begged you for anything, Odin Grimnir," Loki said, so low and so strained he was almost unrecognizable. "Never once. Not for any riches or hall, not for any inheritence, or a seat among the gods. Not even for my own life." He was so tense he seemed moments from snapping--certainly such abasement before Odin must have hurt. "But I...I beg you now...bring her back. Please. I...beseech thee, Odin All-Father, Lord of Aesir, hear my plea ..." His voice cracked as he spoke the words of formal entreaty--words he had never before stooped to speaking before the dark god; his pride was already in tatters but even this was not enough to sway him from his goal.

"Loki..." Heimdall stared at the Trickster in surprise and downright awe. The lengths he was willing to go to...

Caught for but a moment in disbelief, Odin stared at Loki in open astonishment. As if he had never in his life seen anything more startling, more unusual and unheard-of than this.

But that was only moments before he began to laugh.

The dark god of Death and War laughed aloud, cruelly amused, the rolling echoes of it spilling out over the gathering of immortals like a sickening vomit. Even Frigg, pale and sharp-faced, drew away from her husband in surprise and disgust. Loki's teeth gritted at the derisive sounds.

After long minutes of guffawing, Odin finally wiped tears of dark humor from his eye and fixed Loki with a balefully amused stare. "Your plea has been heard, Loki of no house. As you have spoken the Words, I must answer you."

Loki caught his breath suddenly, held still and silent on the edge of waiting.

"My answer is no, Loki of no house," Odin spoke again, his words harsh and mocking. "Even if it were within my power alone to unmake a death, especially a death at Ragnarok, what reason have I to grant such a boon to you?" And with that, the ruler of the gods went back to his laughter.

The Trickster knelt there stock-still, staring in utter disbelief. Then his head dropped, his expression hidden from those around him by the thick fall of his honey-colored hair.

He should have expected this. He should have expected Odin to be so cruel. The dark god was always like this, always taking from him, hurting him in any way possible...

"Why...?" His hissing whisper preceeded once more the tight-fisted hands. Then Loki was on his feet and stepping past Mayura's still form in a heartbeat, nearly face to face with Odin. "Why, damn you?" he all but screamed in the older god's face, composure forgotten, decorum abandoned. "Why do you hate me so much? Why won't you let me have just this one thing--just this one thing? Why?"

"Oi, Loki--" Thor was there as well, trying to pull Loki back, trying to spare him Odin's retribution. Even with Loki's many talents, Thor was the stronger of the two, and despite his rage Loki was dragged inexorably away.

"I want her back!" the frenzied Trickster railed from the restraint of Thor's grip. "Damn you--damn you to Hell's worst, you bastard! Give her back to me!"

"Cry, you miserable excuse for Aesir." Odin's face twisted with a look so venomous even his own wife recoiled in fear. "Who gives a damn what you want? Beg, grovel, snivel all you like! It takes all the tears of the living to restore one who is dead--remember, Loki son-of-nothing? You can't even shed one tear, much less enough to make up for all of life!" The dark god's voice filled with cruel laughter. "And a death at Ragnarok cannot be unmade! All the tears and pleas in any Worlds would never be enough! Now you know true suffering and despair. Mourn her forever, Loki--cry your dry tears for nothing!"

The sound tha burst from Loki's throat could have been a snarl from Fenrir himself. He twisted out of Thor's grasp in a burst of strength and snatched at the nearest weapon--

--Mjollnir, the hammer in the very hand of Thor.

Out of the Thunder-god's precise control, fed by the wild raging will of the god of Fire, the hammer's power flared to life. Lightning burst forth, blasting frost from the ground, heating the air, sending soldiers on both sides scattering in terror. Instead of crackling and jolting in impending discharge, the lightning thrummed thick and hot around the hammer's wielder like a corona of jagged blue flame--as if the lightning had responded to the Fire-god to burn like a silvery inferno.

Fire and Lightning were not the same--yet neither were they opposites. It was only just familiar, just barely controlled--but that was enough.

In a split second, just as Thor realized his weapon had been snatched from his hand, Loki was leaping forward like an engulfing explosion. Nearly a dozen beings reacted at once, some advancing, some reatreating, some merely to stand in shock and awe.

Alight with rage, wreathed in flaming lightning, the Trickster god fell upon Odin like an avenging warrior. A single blow from Mjollnir was enough; one strike, like a thunderclap, to knock the laughter from the dark god's face and break him to the bone.

* * * * *

A limp body clothed in shattered armor fell many yards away; the hammer, Mjollnir, fell silent in its wielder's grip and was dropped carelessly to the ground. The thunder once again returned to silence.

Despite Thor's strength, Loki was much quicker; at last, the Thunder-god caught up with the thief of his hammer, wide-eyed and pale. He did not know if Odin lived or not--and he didn't know if he cared. But as he bent to retrieve his briefly-borrowed weapon, he kept his eyes on the Trickster who now stood like a desolate statue.

There was a heaviness to Loki's shoulders he had never seen before. A glance at the Trickster's slim, deft hands showed them to be raw and burned, his clothing singed and blackened in places from his careless use of a weapon he could only barely control--use of a weapon which might have cost him his life.

Somehow it frightened Thor to think that Loki might not care any more.

Fenrir and Jormungand stopped ducking; Freyr and Freya released each other as Frigg, having collapsed on the ground, cried silently and without protest. Heimdall watched with unreadable gaze, his one crimson eye locked on his ages-old nemesis.

For Loki was moving once again.

He returned to Mayura's still, pale body, silent, to gaze down at her, his expression once more hidden by his bright hair. There was a slackness, a lifelessness to him that almost matched hers, as if something inside him had broken and he could no longer stand up straight, could no longer bear himself with the catlike confidence of the Trickster god they all knew.

Loki did not even feel their eyes on him. Everything had ceased to exist--everything but the empty shell of the young woman before him. That same tightness was in his throat, binding his chest--clawing into his heart, burning in his eyes...

No, it was different now. It was...colder. Deeper. Darker. It was grief and hopelessness like he had never felt in all of his existence.

All the gates of the afterlife were closed. Those who were to die at Ragnarok were meant to stay dead, vanished forever into a death not even the Aesir-gods could escape.

He knelt to gather her into his arms one last time, before her fading warmth and softness gave way to cold pallor and stiffness. She was still beautiful, and her hair still smelled like strawberries as he pulled her close; it was as if she was merely asleep, bonelessly relaxed in some soft armchair as she had so often done back home...

Back home...that simple human dwelling in Midgard...that place that had so easily come to feel like home to him...because she was there...

But she was gone. Her sweet voice and her cute eager smile, her bubbling laughter and her boundless energy, her matchless enthusiasm and her innocent, unwavering devotion...all of it was gone. She would never again pat him on the head, or laugh with him, or come to see him just to babble and to be together. He would never again hear her call his name, never feel her soft embrace, never be able to look into her bright gentle eyes...

She was lost to him forever. There was so much of himself he had never shared, so much of her he had taken for many things left unsaid, undone, and now it was far too late...

The loneliness and the emptiness hurt so much that whatever was tight bound inside his chest cracked open; something in his thoat broke loose and a low thick gasping noise came forth. The burning in his eyes released as tiny drops of moisture trickled hotly down his cheeks--and he realized what was happening, what he had never experienced before.

Tears. The Trickster who had never cried--never once, for the sake of life or for anyone--now shed tears of grief for death and loss.

And the sound of his quiet sobs brought the whole of the gods gathered here once again to a state of shocked silence. They could only stare at the kneeling form in their midst, the Trickster god of Fire hunched over the body of the young human woman clutched in his arms, weeping at her death.

Freya, her eyes brimming, buried her face in the tunic of her pale, solemn brother. Freyr shed tears as well, remaining still as his sister wept silently. Frigg had watched all in silence and covered her face in her hands, lost to everyone.

Thor swallowed hard, daring to step close, daring to crouch at Loki's side to place a comforting hand on one shaking shoulder. A brief squeeze was all he could offer, but it couldn't be enough. No words or deeds could ever be enough.

Heimdall was the Watcher, and as such he watched. An eye for an eye had been his goal for ages; vengeance in equal measure. All the suffering he had ever wished on Loki was being played out before him...yet all of it was as empty of satisfaction as the chasms of Niflheim.

This was not the worth of an eye. This was not his vengeance. This was grief for someone precious who is lost, a hollow hurting thing without reason or retribution.

Loki did not know how to cry, had never cried before--but still he did, wishing with words he could no longer speak that it had been him instead, that Ragnarok had not collapsed and she would still be alive and living, vivid and vibrant.

Somehow he drew back, to look at her pale face quiet in deathly sleep. As if she could wake up any moment, draw breath and open her eyes and smile up at him to say "Loki-kun...!" in her cheerful sleepy way...

But she would not. Never again.

His tears fell upon her face like the faintest of summer raindrops, splashing to her smooth cheeks, her pale forehead. The tiny droplets glittered like jewels, like diamonds on her skin.

The Trickster's tears were shed for the first time on behalf of the one loved most and lost to death, and at that same moment the heart that shed those tears wished for the first time nothing for himself, only for her sake.

And for her sake, and for the sake of those newly-born tears, the hand of something mighty reached out.

A great force moved deep beyond the voids. The Norns felt it, and they feared to the bottom of their triune hearts. Even the Aesir sensed what had come, though they did not understand.

Yggdrasil thrummed, something pulling at the Tree from its deepest roots to its highest leaves, drawing what lay for centuries within out into the world. Light sparkled like sun through dewdrops and when the throngs below looked up--when all the folk of the Nine Worlds looked up--not one did not gasp in surprise. Even Loki, the light glittering on the trails of many tears on his cheeks, turned his face up to what appeared at first as stars, though it was not night.

For the first time since its ages began, the World Tree was blooming with flowers of brilliant light.

Yggdrasil's leaves began to wither, and its ancient gnarled bark began to crack, as if whatever was drawing the light from the Tree drew forth its life as well. Leaves fell, huge and brown and dead like forgotten cloaks; the Tree itself began to crumble, shards of wood the size of skyscrapers splintering off to fall into...nothing.

The roots of the tree were already crumbling to dust, as the very foundations of Asgard shook and shattered. Cries of fear and confusion echoed across the battlefield as the flowers' light grew so intense it seemed to swallow everything up. Giants and gods were lost within the sea of brilliance, as the crumpling World Tree and the very ground beneath their feet seemed to give way before the light which was like a physical force.

Loki held on tight to the girl in his arms, numbly calm in the midst of panic and chaos. As if the tears in his eyes gave him Sight to see, he watched Yggdrasil fall away, watched the Nine Worlds upheld by the Tree begin to disintegrate; he saw the very sky of Asgard torn asunder like a veil, parting to reveal--

His eyes were a god's eyes, and still he could not stand to see what lay beyond. There was a great expanse there, further than he could see, something so indescribable that even the still-flooding light from Yggdrasil's now-vanished flowers seemed utter darkness by comparison. All the beauty and wonder of Asgard paled before this, as if indeed the gods' world he knew had been but a playwright's stage, and only now was the curtain drawn aside.

He could barely glance beyond for a moment, before his eyes ached at the perfection of what he could not even see and he looked down again, his arms locked around Mayura's still form as even the frosted ground beneath him washed away and the sky fluttered down like a torn cloak and the brilliance of the soft white flower-light covered everything over in a gentle, quiet wave.

It was an emptiness and a fullness, a noise and a silence, the sensation of floating in nothing and the feeling of being cradled in a father's arms.

A life for a life.

It was a voice, and not a voice, and more than a voice. A voice like a god, but nothing like Odin. Greater than Odin. More than Odin could ever be. It held Authority, it exuded Power, it echoed Wisdom.

A life for a life. You would give this willingly.

It was not a question; it was something which was already Known. Everything in him was exposed before that voice--everything that he knew, everything he felt, everything he was. All of his joys and fears, his secrets, his hidden darkness, the sins of his past, his cruelty and selfishness; he was stripped of all his illusions, until there was nothing left but the core--his heart, his soul, open like a raw fresh wound.

The voice already knew his answer, yet still he was compelled to speak--and speak the Truth. Even he, the ages-old Trickster of Asgard, the wiliest of the Aesir who bowed to no one, was as a mere child before the Command of this voice.

"Yes." And his own voice seemed like a child's, a broken whisper as soft as a breath.

That voice which could see everything in him had already weighed him; it had already seen everything he was--a demon, not a god, more a monster and less a man. It had known from the beginning who he was, what he wanted, and how unworthy he was to even ask it.

Then it shall be done.

Shock and relief flooded him like a physical wave, wrenching a gasp from him that was almost like a sob. Just as he had known somehow he could hide nothing from this voice, this one...he also knew somehow that it had the Power to do this--and more--even without a sacrifice. Without tears or promises. Simply because it willed it to be done.

But there had to be a sacrifice. Because he had spoken the truth, he had given his word, and the sacrifice...was part of the test. He didn't know how he knew that, either; it was like an instinct, something barely understood but still seen and known and felt.

Something Touched him. There was something warm inside him like a swirl of heated water, like the faintest, gentlest tug. He did not protest, did not resist--he was ready to die for her life.

But it did not take his life from him, as he had expected. It took something else--something from deep within him, a part of him, was removed as painlessly as by a master surgeon's hand. He did not know what it was, but whatever had been taken, he gave it gladly.

Something Touched Mayura as well. And as surely as he'd felt her die, he felt Mayura's life return. Like a slow wave to the shore, like a dawning sunrise, the light of her life swelled back to warmth and brilliance as if it had never gone out.

When he looked at her again, the pallor was gone; he sensed the pulse of her heart like it was his own, felt her take one breath, then another, and another...and the relief and joy was so strong that his tears returned though he could not understand why such elation caused them. But he did not stop to ponder--he did not care.

Wordless, he looked down at her sleeping face, his tears once again falling upon her--this time, tears of gladness. Her eyelids barely fluttered, barely opened; he could see her eyes for a brief moment, as brilliant as they always were, before she lapsed into sleep again. She was still limp, but her heart beat and her soul glowed, and that was all that mattered to him.

She was alive.

There were no words for his gratitude. But there was no need; that voice already Knew.

It is finished.

He held on tight to Mayura as the white brilliance became as thick as a blanket, never wanting to let her go. There were questions in his mind--where would they go now, with the Nine Worlds gone; what would happen to them, where were they, what was this place?

Your Realm has passed away. Your Age has ended. Return, and live the new life you have been given.

A new life--a life with Mayura. A miracle, a second chance.

But return to where, with Asgard passed away and Midgard gone with Yggdrasil? The whiteness was so thick, so warm, and there was a haziness encroaching on his mind.

Every tree must plant its deepest root somewhere. There was a faint gentle amusement to the voice, like a father explaining a puzzle to a child. Return to the Garden, the Foundation, the place you now call Home. Return, and Live.

He felt himself and Mayura bourne outwards...downwards...carried somewhere as if in a parent's arms. The white light filled everything, and a great sleepiness stole over him through the haze. He fought it, a last desperate question burning in his mind.

"Wait...wait...who are you...?"

The brilliance was becoming gray, and the voice spoke as if from a great distance.

I Am That I Am.

Then Loki knew no more as unconsciousnes claimed him and everything slipped away--everything but Mayura, whom he still held close in his arms, nearest to his heart.

* * * * *

* * * *

Only one more bit to go. Then I can get back to the business of being funny. -_- Though I can't seem to keep the waff out of that either. Smunk me, I'm a Waff Machine. It's compulsive waffyness, I just can't help it. Waff waff waff waff...

Now I sound like a duck with a lisp. -_-

Anyway, got work to do. Hopefully to finish the Loki funny story and get it out of my system before Brain-chan cooks up anything else. Or it may already be too late. *Brain-chan makes note to have RS look up Old Norse Wedding Traditions and find a Map Of Asgard* @_@

Aaarrrrrgh....I think I found my spare moment. C'mere, Brain-chan...
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btailweaver: DC is my big fandom (Default)
Becky Tailweaver

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