Chapter 86 - Epilogue 14 - Pretty Maids
Sigyn pinched the bridge of her nose as she looked at her husband and brother-in-law standing around the circular table in Thor’s quarters in the palace. She should have realised there was something going on when he invited them both here. It was much more normal for them to meet in the quarters she and Loki shared. Thor was looking at her sheepishly, while Loki was watching him with amusement.
‘You woke up and it was gone?’
‘Completely absent.’ Thor conceded.
‘How in the name of the nine realms did you lose Mjölnir?’ She hissed, not wanting to raise her voice in case they were overheard.
‘I have not lost it, it has been taken!’ Thor spat. ‘Each night I lay it in the same place and this morning it was no longer there.’
‘No one else can lift it other than you and the Allfather.’ She reminded him. ‘You have to ask him if he…’
‘And if he has not?’ Thor interrupted. ‘I will be a disappointment, unworthy of both the hammer and my position as future king. No, we must locate it ourselves.’
‘You lost the Hammer of the Gods.’ Sigyn groaned and walked away from the table, still not quite believing it.
‘Not lost!’ Thor repeated. ‘Stolen, and I am sure it must be the þursar. They have caused nothing but trouble of late and their magic would make it easy for them to enchant an object even such as Mjölnir and spirit it away under cover of darkness.’
‘I suppose it’s possible.’ Sigyn agreed reluctantly; the þursar were the giants, steeped in legend. Taller than their Jotun counterparts, more brawny, yet slightly less violent. ‘But we have to find it, and if you will not ask your father then what of Heimdall?’
‘No.’ Thor said firmly. ‘That is why I asked you both. After mother you are our most powerful sorcerers. If anyone can aid me, it is the two of you. No one else needs to know.’
‘If that is truly how you wish to play this…’
‘Then we first need to find where it is for certain, under whose hold.’
‘I have an idea of how it may be tracked.’ Loki spoke for the first time since Thor confessed.
‘Brother, I knew you had remained quiet for a reason.’ Thor smiled at him. ‘What has your sharp mind concocted?’
‘Freyja owes me a favour. As I know how to shift my form it would be easy for me to use one of her falcon feathers and survey the realms undetected. Mjölnir puts out a resonance easily discerned by those of us with sorcery. We shall have the whereabouts, and no doubt who the culprit is, in no time.’ Freyja was an adopted in Asgardian, originating in Vanaheim she was their Goddess of Lust. Beautiful yet vain she certainly lived up to her title.
‘Loki, is that wise?’ Sigyn asked, already knowing it was the best plan they had, but the thought of her husband flying so far into enemy territories worried her.
‘No one would suspect a noble eagle, petal. Do not worry so.’ He assured her as she came back to the table.
‘And what will you tell Freyja you need the feather for?’ Thor asked.
‘For some nefarious intelligence gathering, of course. She will think nothing of me wishing to poke my nose in where it does not belong. Sly is my middle name.’
‘I thought it was of.’ Sigyn smirked at him and he afforded her a genuine smile.
‘You would think there would be more imagination, after so many years, that we would not all hold the same middle name, Sigyn of Asgard.’
‘It’s easy to remember, I suppose.’
‘When you two are quite done with your verbal foreplay,’ Thor interrupted, ‘when can you do this?’
‘I will seek Freyja out now and leave at sundown. That way I have the cover of darkness on my side.’
‘Very well.’ Thor nodded. ‘Thank you both, for your aid in this matter, and your discretion.’
‘Were you not family I would already be laughing as I recalled the story to whomever would listen.’ Loki patted his shoulder. ‘However you are my brother and I love you, despite all your faults.’
‘Let’s just hope the matter is easily resolved.’ Sigyn added, hoping in her heart of hearts that would be the case, but already worrying things were never that easy.
Freyja provided Loki with the feathers, no questions asked, and he returned to his and Sigyn’s quarters. He found her seated on the edge of the balcony, her back to the wall, one knee bent with her foot on the bannister, her other dangling over the ground below.
‘Deep thoughts, darling girl?’ Loki asked as he approached, having left the feather in its ornate box in their chamber.
‘Concerned thoughts, my prince.’ She sighed as he bowed his head and kissed her softly before taking a seat by her foot.
‘Surely not for me on a simple reconnoitre?’ He gave her a small amused smile, trying to make light of what he thought was most likely bothering her.
‘Somewhat. I worry whenever you enter a fray, Lo. The concern for a loved one is not limited only to you, my mischief maker. But it also concerns me that if Thor is correct then we have been breached in our very home. That something or someone, or several someone’s, have simply walked in and out of Asgard without detection. Heimdall and the Einherjar should have seen something.’
‘It is a troubling thought.’ He took a gentle hold of her ankle and lifted it, shuffling closer to her until her knee and thigh rested in his lap, his hand caressing the soft skin on the back of her leg through her gown. ‘We know we are not the only ones who use the secret pathways between realms, however perhaps the time has come for the two of us to protect those to our home.’
‘Some sort of alarm system on the portals leading to Asgard?’ She frowned despite the sensations his finger wrought bringing very different emotions to mind.
‘Why not? We have the power to do so and it would not only ensure we know who is aware of their existence but protect the realm too.’
She smirked at him. ‘You would keep these portals for ourselves, if you could.’
‘Of course I would, sunbeam.’ He leant forward and wrapped his arm around her waist, pulling her into his lap. ‘But this will have to suffice.’
‘I suppose so.’ She murmured as he trailed kisses across her collarbone. They had some time before the sun would set, and she had no doubt how he intended to spend it.
Loki soared low over the rugged landscape where the þursar, the giants dwelled. All other avenues had been fruitless and this was his last hope. The giants had an accord with Asgard, an uneasy peace, simply because the giants were capricious, and should they choose to attack they could wreak absolute havoc, however they knew that they were outnumbered and outclassed by Asgard and its warriors, any direct attack being tantamount to suicide, but they were also wily and were not above taking what did not belong to them, be it objects or people. Having said that, Mjölnir was ambitious item to steal, for anyone.
Loki landed on a high window of the largest hut in the centre of the settlement and quirked his feathered head to the side, taking in what he could. There were few giants present, the leader, who was dressed more ornately than his kin, and some who could have been guards or advisors, but one thing was for certain, even with their guttural voices he understood the word Mjölnir being said at least twice. The giants were brawny creatures, twelve foot tall and shabbily dressed with furs and leather, their hair grown wild.
He could not see the hammer, and even if it was here he could not ask for it back as he could not lift it himself. Thor had tested him often enough; placing it on top of Loki’s favourite books, in front of his chamber door so he could not leave if they were arguing within and, Thor’s personal favourite, placing it on Loki’s cape as he passed a table. Loki had got his revenge, in various different ways; he wasn’t called the trickster for nothing, but walking in there and demanding it back when he couldn't take it was a moot point. He could however ask they return it.
Swooping down to the ground he changed to his own form, his full armour in place, however less his helm, not wanting to seem too intimidating. He walked confidently to the guards stood on the door, looking from one to the other as they crossed their spears to bar his path. He looked up at them and smiled encouragingly, his hands before him.
‘Come now, I am unarmed. I merely wish to speak with your chief, nothing more.’
One of them indicated the other should go inside while Loki stood patiently, continuing his pleasant smile, until the other came back. He was to be allowed entry, once they were certain he was unarmed, and he had ensured he wasn’t, knowing he could conjure a weapon if needs be, but again not wishing to antagonise. Finally the door was held open for him and he was allowed in. He strode toward where the chief sat on his wooden throne, decorated with the skulls of his enemies. It was supposed to be intimidating but Loki ignored it all, stopping before the throne and bowing his head.
‘Greetings, Chief Thrym, I am Loki of Asgard.’
‘And you are a long way from home.’ His gruff tone interrupted Loki. ‘What brings you to our wilds, young princeling?’
‘A small matter I wish to resolve without the need to involve the Allfather.’ He said nonchalantly with a wave of his hand. ‘I ask that you return Mjölnir to my brother and the matter need go no further.’
Thrym laughed. ‘You think asking nicely will get you what you want? You are naïve, little one.’
‘Not naïve, hopeful, that I do not have to bring the might of Asgard to your door due to…misunderstanding. And I will bring it.’ Loki said firmly, still not raising his voice.
‘But you offer nothing in return.’ Thrym stood, causing Loki to need to raise his chin further to accommodate the view. ‘And even if you did there is only one thing I want, and I doubt you have the power to grant it.’
‘Unless you tell me what that is I cannot say.’ Loki shrugged. ‘You have my terms, now offer yours or the peace between our civilisations will end violently.’
Thrym walked forward, circling Loki, and he fought to turn with him, on alert yet appearing relaxed, his hands now holding one another to prevent any twitching in a gesture he had picked up from his mother. ‘I admit, we have the legendary Hammer of the Gods. It is buried some way from here, eight feet deep and heavily guarded, and the one thing I would give for its return is a bride.’
‘A bride?’ Loki asked, turning just his head as the giant rounded his left side. ‘Have you not females to choose from here? A fine giant such as yourself must have his pick.’
‘Yet none have made me happy. I am lonely, princeling, and I wish one thing of beauty to lay my damaged eyes upon each day. A bride from Asgard would serve me well.’
Loki gave a slow blink before answering. ‘An Asgardian lady as your bride?’ He said hesitantly, knowing none would agree to such a thing. ‘Surely among your own kind…’
‘None rival the beauties found upon Asgard, as you yourself know, with your fair wife by your side in war and at peace. Word of those ladies whose beauty surpasses the imagination reaches me, including your wife and the Lady Sif, and in return for Mjölnir’s return, I ask for the hand of Freyja.’
‘Freyja?’ Loki bit back a laugh, knowing the free and passionate Vanir adopted into Asgard would never agree to a union, let alone one such as this. She valued her freedom to do what-, and who-, ever she pleased, whenever she pleased. She enjoyed her hedonistic lifestyle as much as Loki enjoyed his mischief.
‘She is beautiful and not truly of Asgard. She would be a fine choice.’ Thrym stopped before Loki and glared down at him. ‘Make it so, princeling, and you may have your precious hammer back.’
‘But, Freyja…’ Loki stepped forward as he returned to his throne but was stopped by two guards.
‘You have my terms, Asgardian.’
Loki was left with no choice but to either leave or be made to, and he refused to be reduced to the latter. He turned and left, changing back to an eagle and heading back to Asgard, Thrym’s offer echoing in his ears.
‘Freyja?’ Thor roared in disbelief. ‘He cannot honestly think she would give up Asgard to be his bride?’
‘Apparently if we wish the return of Mjölnir so much that is the only thing that shall convince him.’ Loki took a drink of the wine they had, seated as they were at the dining table in his and Sigyn’s quarters.
‘She will not agree to this.’ Sigyn shook her head. ‘And if we mention it to her, even under some pretence, she will scream so loudly the Allfather himself will hear it.’
‘Pretence?’ Thor frowned curiously at her.
‘Come, brother, you do not think that Loki has not already thought of some sort of plan to save the day through pretence and sly circumstance?’ She gave him a sideways smile. ‘Tell him what has your cogs whirring, my prince, before they set your brain alight.’
‘You are too perceptive, love. I am thinking of a simple ruse. We tell him the wedding will go ahead, but as per tradition the bride will be veiled until the right moment, hiding the true identity as decidedly not Freyja. We ask that Mjölnir be presented for the union to go ahead. The hammer is returned and we make our escape.’
Sigyn nodded. ‘If I am to play Freyja I will need illusion to cloak our height difference.’
‘You…you cannot play Freyja!’ Loki said in horror.
‘I am the only female of the three of us aware of the situation.’ She pointed out. ‘What are the other options? You or Thor don a dress and waltz into the wedding?’ She scoffed.
‘I…’ Loki looked to Thor for help but he just shrugged. They hadn’t thought this through.
‘We do not want you at risk, sister.’ Thor said seriously and Sigyn rolled her eyes.
‘This, again? I have been battling beside you both for decades now and yet you still find excuses to try and treat me like some delicate flower! Your mother would be disgusted with your constant misogynistic tendencies where I am concerned!’ She pushed to her feet. ‘If you cannot see sense in the idea that I, as a female, should play the female, then I refuse to aid you further!’
‘Sig…’ Loki started and she shot him a glare. ‘Your idea is a good one, darling one, but their chief, Thrym, mentioned your beauty. I do not doubt if this went wrong he would try to claim you as his own.’
‘I’d like to see him try.’ She spat. ‘You two eldhúsfífl need to come up with a plan you agree upon, and I see no other option but for me to play Freyja.’
Thor and Loki shared a look before turning back to her. ‘I will send word of our offer.’ Thor said quietly.
‘Good.’ Sigyn picked up her wine without taking her seat again. ‘See if you can have them agree to an escort, preferably you.’ She waved the glass at Thor. ‘I doubt I can lift Mjölnir any more than Loki can.’
‘A fair point.’ Thor nodded, but Loki caught his eye. He was thinking something else, Thor just couldn’t tell what.
Sigyn rolled over in bed. That was funny, she didn’t remember coming to bed. Her head hurt so much she could have easily consumed the entirety of Odin’s personal cellar, the faint light from the fire burning her eyes painfully.
‘Lo, what happened?’ She grumbled, reaching out for her husband, her limbs sluggish and heavy, but she found the bed empty. ‘Lo?’ She called, forcing her body upright as the room span. Her eyes darted around the room suspiciously. There was no light from washroom and she thought over the night before. Their great plan, their desire to keep her away from the giants…the fact they were both morons. ‘Oh, Loki, you didn’t.’ She groaned, throwing back the furs and sheets as she spun her legs from the bed, dizziness coursing through her and she screwed up her eyes as she realised why she felt as she did. Magic. Sorcery to be precise. ‘You fools.’ She shook her head and called her own sorcery, pushing away the last of the effects rapidly now she knew what she was suffering. In minutes she was clearheaded again and muttered to herself while she dressed. This could not end well.
‘Stop fidgeting.’ Loki hissed as he and Thor rode in the chariot towards the hut.
‘I am trying not to.’ He complained. ‘How do women wear these things? They are so…tight, and draughty.’
‘It’s not that bad.’ Loki glanced over his brother in the all covering white gown. It would be difficult to maintain an illusion over such a long period, and to hide such power from the giants, who themselves knew magic, would be a difficult thing. They could only hope they knew Freyja more by reputation than appearance and that the heavy veil and specific cut of the dress would be enough to fool them. He himself had had to disguise himself as a handmaiden due to the terms of the agreement with the giants, and he certainly was not complaining as much. He admitted to having a newfound respect for his wife when it came to ladies garments however.
‘I feel as though I have been tied into some primitive torture device.’
Loki chuckled. Thor would undoubtably complain all the way there until the time came for them to act. ‘Must I remind you this was your idea. Sigyn was more than willing to play the part.’
‘And you would have happily had her walk into this hut, knowing what Thrym has planned?’
‘She would have complained less.’ Loki muttered, knowing he would have been so much more worried were it Sigyn in this position.
Any further conversation were halted as they arrived at the hut, the area well lit with torches, and the guards on the door came forward to escort the “ladies” down from their chariot. Loki led the “bride” into the hut, which had been decorated with swags of flowers and leaves, candles standing on every conceivable surface, bringing the place alive.
‘The fair Freyja. Finally the Gods bring me the prize I am due.’ Thrym came forward, holding his hand out to Thor as though to take it in his own, but Loki was there, slapping it away, before replying in such a high voice Thor almost lost his composure.
‘You cannot touch your bride until after the ceremony, Chief Thrym.’ He said firmly and Thrym lowered his hand again. ‘It is Lady Freyja’s wish to be untouched until she is yours.’
‘Very well.’ He conceded. ‘Come, I have prepared a feast to celebrate this union, and then we shall be wed.’
‘No feast!’ Loki said rapidly.
Thor leant into his brother. ‘I am happy to eat, brother, to continue the façade.’ He whispered.
‘And how will you do that without removing your veil?’ Loki hissed back.
Thor sighed. ‘Fine.’
‘Lady Freyja wishes to be wed to you without delay. She is so lovesick she could not stomach anything until after the ceremony.’
‘Lovesick, you say?’ Thrym puffed out his chest, gaining a confident smile. ‘Very well, let the ceremony come first.’ He waved his hand and his people rushed to do his bidding, arranging themselves as Thrym himself took up position in one of the two seats before the throne where their equivalent of a priest stood.
‘Where is Mjölnir?’ Thor whispered. ‘I cannot see it anywhere! You told him our terms?’
‘Of course I told him our terms!’ Loki replied. ‘I have as much desire to have that as a brother-in-law as you do to marry it.’
‘Do not let this get too far.’ Thor growled before going to his seat, Loki taking up a position to one side and behind him.
Loki cleared his throat before speaking. ‘I believe there was a proviso, a gift?’
‘I would not go back on my word.’ Thrym replied. ‘Bring forth the gift.’
From a door at the back of the room came someone who was evidently one of their magic users, Mjölnir hovering before them in a pale blue sphere of power, no doubt the only thing that enabled them to carry the hammer. Loki could see Thor tense in readiness and his hand automatically fell on his brother’s shoulder, keeping him in place. They both knew this would only end one way, but until Mjölnir was safely back in Thor’s grasp the odds were against them.
Thrym took the handmaiden’s touch to mean his bride was nervous and he turned what they could only assume was meant to be a smile on them. ‘Do not be nervous, the forcefield takes the weight from the Hammer of the Gods.’
Thor turned his head towards Loki, knowing he needed to grasp Mjölnir, not have it protected from him.
‘Your bride to be would like the chance to feel the hammer’s weight for herself.’
Thrym turned alarmed eyes on the homely handmaiden. ‘That would be unwise.’
‘All the same it is her wish.’ Loki insisted.
Thrym sighed and waved the magic user towards his bride, lowering the hammer carefully from where he stood beside Loki, until it sat in “Freyja”’s lap. The forcefield shimmered, then vanished, and it was the cue the brothers needed. Thor grabbed the handle and leapt to his feet as Loki manifested a dagger, darting to the side and slitting the magic users throat as Thor ploughed into Thrym.
Sigyn had done the most sensible thing she could think of without going to either Odin or Frigga; she sought out their friends. She had already roused Sif, Hogun and Volstagg, asking them all to meet her in the small banquet room they frequented, somewhere they would not be disturbed, and she was now trying to waken Fandral. She banged on his door for a third time, knowing he was there as there was a light in his window and an inordinate amount of…noises coming from within. Eventually she heard the locks being thrown off and the door opened, revealing Fandral, completely naked. He looked her over in her armour with a small smile and shook his head as she firmly maintained eye contact with him.
‘Good Lady Sigyn, if you have come to join us you are thoroughly overdressed.’
‘And you are underdressed.’ She said firmly. ‘We have an emergency.’
He became serious immediately, realising how worried she was, and he reached out, touching her arm gently. ‘What has happened?’
‘Thor and Loki have been very stupid.’
‘That is hardly anything different.’
‘This is a whole new level of stupidity. Please, Fandral, our feast room, as soon as you can.’ And she turned, all but running down the hallway. That was unlike her, she would have teased him under normal circumstances, but nothing. This truly must be serious.
It was less than ten minutes later when Fandral finally entered the feast room to find Sigyn pacing by the windows; Sif, Hogun and Volstagg watching her worriedly.
‘Never fear, Fandral the Dashing has arrived. What concerns you, Lady Sigyn?’
She turns to face her friends and let out a deep sigh. ‘Yesterday Thor called Loki and I to his quarters. Someone has taken Mjölnir.’
Volstagg laughed but it was Sif who spoke. ‘That is not possible.’
‘You doubt me? You doubt Thor?’ Sigyn asked firmly. ‘He was certain and asked that we keep it between the three of us. Loki sought out Freyja, used one of her eagle feathers to search the realms, and found it has been taken by the giants.’
‘Giants have Mjölnir?’ Hogun asked incredulously.
‘Their chief, Thrym, has it. They used magic, we suspect, but they have it, make no mistake. Loki tried to bargain with them, to return it.’
‘And now they are captives?’ Volstagg jumped to the wrong conclusion.
‘Not that I am aware of, however their idiocy knows no bounds.’ She trotted down the few steps to join the group. ‘Thrym demanded a bride. Freyja to be precise.’
‘They have not delivered her?’ Fandral asked in horror.
Sigyn closed her eyes for a moment and swallowed. ‘I offered to pose as Freyja, but they were more than reluctant. Loki subdued me somehow. I awoke in our bed just half an hour ago. He and Thor were gone.’
‘Gone? They are facing the giants alone?’ Sif demanded.
‘I can only assume so.’ Sigyn shrugged. ‘As soon as I realised I woke you all. Please, will you come with me? In case they need us?’
‘You do not need to ask.’ Volstagg assured her. ‘Stupid boys. Going into battle without The Warriors Three and our most fierce Shield Sisters!’
‘Thank you all.’ Sigyn gave them all a worried smile as they set off towards the doors. ‘I asked a steward to prepare our horses. I knew you wouldn’t let me down.’
‘We never would.’ Sif assured her. ‘Those stupid princes however need to be shaken until some sense takes hold.’
‘I don’t think anyone is that patient.’ Fandral scoffed.
‘Perhaps we should take turns.’
They continued the rest of the way in silence, not wishing to draw attention to themselves, and it was as they approached the stables they became aware of a good deal of noise, what sounded like approaching hooves and much talking and laughter.
‘The idiots cometh.’ Sigyn muttered as she realised what it was she could hear, having born witness to the sound of Loki and Thor buoyed by victory many times before. She curved her hands and called up a ball of light throwing it into the air where it burst into several smaller orbs, spreading over the area to aid illumination as the golden chariot they had taken came into view on the road. They appeared none the worse for wear, perhaps a little tatty but not injured, and Sigyn warred with herself between being angry or relieved.
‘Friends!’ Thor called jovially as he saw them. ‘I see Sig has no faith in our abilities!’
‘You two deserve a beating for this madness!’ She growled as she approached the chariot, Loki pulling it to a stop before they stepped down. ‘The two of you are the most reckless, irresponsible…what in the realms are you wearing?’
Fandral burst out laughing behind her, closely followed by the rest of their friends as they took in the fact the two crown princes appeared to be wearing dresses. Battered and bloodied but dresses nonetheless. Thor wore a glorious gown of embroidered white organza, a veil decorated with flowers hanging down his back to the floor; Loki in a simpler, pale pink gown, his hair brushed out around his face.
Thor and Loki shifted awkwardly, having been caught in their crossdressed garments, as their friends laughed and Sigyn glared at them.
‘We’re back.’ Thor said sheepishly to Sigyn, her angry reaction perhaps more worrying than their friends’ laughter.
Sigyn stalked up to them and Thor flinched, but Loki offered her a small smile. ‘Come now, love, you cannot possibly be mad that we survived?’
She drew level with them and before he even realised her intention she had punched him in the stomach, doubling him, then turning and clipping Thor solidly up the back of his head. ‘You two are the most moronic, careless, asinine, half-witted fools the realms were ever cursed with! Are you honestly telling me the giants fell for you both dressed like…like…this?’
‘Wholeheartedly.’ Thor took a step back, out of arms reach of their little firebrand, and held Mjölnir for her to see for herself.
‘You are two of the luckiest bastards alive.’ Sif said through her laughter.
‘I am going to make them feel anything but.’ Sigyn snapped, both brothers having recovered from the blows she had dealt.
‘And we shall not let them forget what pretty damsels they made.’ Fandral assured her.
Thor and Loki shared a look. They had done what they set out to do, however the teasing would last a lot longer than their victory celebrations.
This was my take on the old norse myth of Thor's Wedding.
I've taken a little liberty when it comes to the enemy not being able to recognise the boys. You'll see what I mean, but it fit with the original story, and I've tinkered with a few elements I didn't think I could work around too!
Before I forget, I use the word eldhúsfífl in this chapter, which is an old norse insult meaning "hearth fire idiot", as in someone who can do nothing but sit by a fire and spin tales!
Coming soon! Healing the Hurt - The Avengers Redemption Series part 2.
Everything is going well at Avengers Tower, Bucky is integrating into the team slowly but surely; he longs for his confidence back but knows it's going to be a long road, never more than when he meets the new secretary at his doctor's office.
Amelia Richards is a career SHIELD agent, recruited straight out of college into the "company" but now she finds herself passed around from department to department, her latest position as a secretary at Avengers Tower proving monotonous compared to her former life, but when James "Bucky" Barnes walks into her office one Friday evening everything changes...
Join Bucky as he rediscovers parts of himself he had thought long lost with someone who considered herself broken for a long time, helping one another heal in more ways than one...