Chapter 2: The Journey Begins
Icy tundra wastes spread out across the plains in front of him, rocky mountains framing the scene. In places, it was possible to see beneath the ice, where the soil was hard and cracked and only a few shoots of grass protruded from it, before it was ground up by Loki's black shoe as it hit the ground with a satisfying thud. Across the tundra, in a valley between two smaller mountains, sat a... mehr anzeigen
Chapter 2: The Journey Begins
Icy tundra wastes spread out across the plains in front of him, rocky mountains framing the scene. In places, it was possible to see beneath the ice, where the soil was hard and cracked and only a few shoots of grass protruded from it, before it was ground up by Loki's black shoe as it hit the ground with a satisfying thud. Across the tundra, in a valley between two smaller mountains, sat a building of epic proportions, with magnificent icy spires that looked as if they could pierce Asgard itself. And they will do, Loki thought spitefully, Metaphorically piercing the heavens.
The icy ground cracked beneath Loki's feet, and seemed to be less slippery than normal ice. This, of course, was not true, but Loki did not seem to have a problem striding across it, easily walking where a mortal would have slipped. Perhaps this was because of Loki being the son of Laufey and Farbauti, frost Johtuns both, he was only an Asgardian by adoption. He had found this out nearly three years ago, when Odin yelled at him in anger after Loki fought Thor for the title of “Prince Of Asgard”. Loki had then left Asgard, and rarely returned aside from festivals, where the other Gods acted as though nothing happened and all was well. He found out that his mother and father were killed in the hundred-year war between the Johtuns, giants compared to normal men, and the Gods. Odin had then abducted Loki from his dead mother's grip in the hope that he would bring peace between Asgard, realm of the Gods, and Jotunheimr, the land of the Johtuns.
As Loki dwelled upon these thoughts, he never once realised that his fists were clenched in anger and he was walking much faster than usual. He had never once suspected that he were a Johtun, as Odin had somehow given him shape-shifting qualities and forced him into the shape of a man, and a handsome one at that. Loki cursed that day, and his ignorance. He should have known that his birthright was not true: the other Gods had either blond or grey hair, depending on age, whereas Loki's was snow-white.
The building was drawing closer now, Loki still unconsciously walking at high speeds towards it. This, all around, was Jotunheimr, home of the Johtuns. Around here, in the icy tundra, lived the Frost Johtuns, whilst up in the mountains and caves lived the Rock Johtuns. The Fire Johtuns used to live here, but the conflict with the gods and the low temperatures drove them away to the fiery realms of Muspelheimr, led by their Titanic leader Surtr. Some of the Frost Johtuns had vacated the realm and travelled to Niflheimr, where the cold was so great no mortal could survive. Loki had never been to Niflheimr, but he assumed that he would fit right in, if he got rid of his human form.
The building was in front of him now, and he could see that it made solely of translucent ice, with icicles like none a mortal could ever see on Midgard since the great war. Loki kicked the ice, more out of frustration than curiosity, although he did delve mildly into curiosity when the ice failed to shatter and remained as solid as ever, not even denting. He frowned as curiosity tightened its hold: most metal and stone normally at least chipped when he kicked it, his Frost giant heritage gave him a lot of natural strength.
There was no door, Loki realised as he strolled through a courtyard of sorts, merely two Frost Johtuns standing with blades which towered over them. White in colour, the Frost Johtuns appeared to have a hide made entirely out of ice plates, which overlapped each other giving the Johtuns natural armour. They stood at least ten feet tall and were humanoid in structure: two arms, two legs and a head all attached onto a body held together by an interior skeleton, although in the case of the Johtuns, the icy plates also acted as an exoskeleton. Their eyes burned a bright blue through what seemed like hollow caves which may not have sounded like impressive, but it gave the light a dark look to it, and made them look all the more menacing.
Loki reached them, and they pointed their blades at him. Held double-handedly, these blades were more like javelins than swords, due to the large pole-like hilt, which built up to a blade on top. The blade was unlike that of a javelin's, but more like that of a scimitar: curved and serrated. As they were pointed at Loki, he could see that the serrated edges had dried blood on them, the bright sunlight giving the red a more happy-go-lucky tint to it, as opposed to the fear-mongering warning it was intended to be. Loki leant back slightly, just enough to avoid the blades, yet not enough to be too noticeable.
“Asgardian.” One Johtun rumbled.
“Long way from home?” the other Johtun concluded.
“Do you two always do this double act?” Loki spat.
“What?” The first asked.
Loki sighed. “Just let me see the King.”
“ Just let me see the King” he says!” Roared the second Johtun as if it was the most humorous thing he had ever heard. The first one joined in the laughter. They put the blades down, freeing one hand from the hilt and using it wave Loki aside like one might a fly.
Loki scowled. “Do you not know who I am?” he asked scathingly
“Not really, no!” said the second Johtun, which again was treated as though it was razor wit.
Fuck this Loki thought. “I am Loki,” Loki roared, “Son of Laufey and Farbauti! Rightful ruler of this realm!”
“You ain't no Frost Giant!” The first Johtun exclaimed.
“Looks like we got ourselves an imitator here!” The second said, “Or maybe he's just plain crazy.”
“At least I'm not dead.” Loki spat.
“What?” The first asked, before Loki's dagger was drawn and plunged into his throat, the ice at first resisting Loki's strength, but frustration and rage drove him this time, giving him the adrenaline and energy necessary to break through. The Johtun made a strange gargling sound as he drew breath, fog where oxygen met the cold air erupting from the dagger-wound.
“I've had it with you two!” Loki hissed, twisting the dagger in the Johtun's throat. “Now, are you gonna let me see the King.”
The second Johtun had a look in his eye as if he might do something to stop Loki, but then decided against it. “Yessir. Yes Loki, sir.”
“Good.” Loki said, pulling the dagger mercilessly out of the Johtuns throat. The Johtun fell to the floor, clutching at its throat and making a choked gargling sound as blood erupted from the wound. He'll live Loki thought viciously.
The Johtun lead Loki inside and Loki was less than surprised when the inside of the building was as cold as the exterior. No effort was made to mask the icy walls, which Loki thought was a bit of a disappointment: it blended too much with the outside, but then the Frost Johtuns liked the ice and the cold. Loki followed behind the Johtun, who kept looking back suspiciously to check on Loki, who smiled pointedly at him every time he did so, not exactly protesting innocence as opposed to arrogance.
“Hurry up.” droned the Johtun.
Loki smirked. “And why would I do that? I have all day,” he said, mock innocently, “Don't you?”
It seemed for a moment, just one fleeting moment, that the Johtun was going to hit him, but the moment passed quickly. “No,” it growled, trying to threaten Loki, who looked at it, eyebrows raised in an expression that simply asked “really?”. The Johtun must have noticed Loki's expression, as it began to glare at him.
“I'll have none of that, thank you,” Loki said snidely, an amused smile curling onto his lips, “Maybe I'll tell the King.”
The Johtun fell silent and beckoned half-heartedly at Loki to follow with a shake of the hand.
“Better.” Loki said, blatantly mocking the Johtun and obviously enjoying it.
The Johtun stopped, and held a hand out to tell Loki that he was free to enter the next room. Loki smiled as he walked past and said, slowly and deliberately, “Thank you.” before entering.
The room was larger than Loki expected. The floor stretched on for metres of dullness and bareness, as nothing garnished the icy floor. However, near the window of thinner, transparent ice was a throne made of coloured ice, an effect created from the freezing of various liquids with dyes or special chemicals inside of them. Behind the throne stood a Johtun, larger in height and width than the others. Although the crown rested on the seat of the throne, it was obvious that this Johtun was the king. His armour-like icy skin was decorated with ocean-blue armour, which would ensure that he can lead his Johtuns into battle if need be.
“Loki,” The King said, his voice deeper than those of the two guardian Johtuns, “It's...good to see you again.”
“Skip the pleasantries, Utgarda.” Loki said, “You feel threatened by my presence.” he raised a hand to stop words exiting Utgarda's mouth. “Don't bother denying it, I cane the uncertainty, the fear in your eyes.” A dark side crossed Loki's face. “I learnt to read people the hard way.”
“Did you have a purpose for this visit?” Utgarda snapped impatiently. Loki smiled: he was getting to Utgarda now.
“Of course,” Loki said, “I want what is mine.”
Utgarda's stance shifted into a closed one, to an open, offensive stance. “Your kingship?” he asked warily.
Loki barked out a harsh laugh. “Of course not!” he exclaimed, “Where'd you get that idea?”
Utgarda relaxed. Loki observed his shoulders go from hunched and tensed to relaxed and normal. “So, what do you want?” Utgarda asked, desperately trying to regain control of the situation, But I have him now! Loki thought.
“I want what is rightfully mine: my parents' army.” Loki confessed, keeping his eyes wide open so that he may seem innocently proposing an idea.
“And why,” Utgarda asked, “Would you want an army?”
Loki raised his eyebrows again. “Is that really a question?” When there was no response from Utgarda, Loki sighed heavily. “Seriously? My brother has been a thorn in my side for centuries now-”
“So you want an army to defeat Thor?” Utgarda asked warily.
“No.” Loki said, “It will start with one Johtun, which I will require to set events into motion. Your best assassin would be appreciated, and a small group of Johtun soldiers to accompany him.”
“The best assassin...” Utgarda considered whom it was, and rested on a decision, “Beli.”
“Ok...” Loki breathed, licking his lips in anticipation, “Soon after, I shall require an army. I am appealing to all of the Johtun tribes, but I'm counting on you, Utgarda.”
Utgarda looked flushed. “I...I don't know Loki.” he stammered, “I don't wanna start another war.”
“You won't be.” Loki said. “I will be.”
“Look, Loki,” Utgarda said, “I'm not sure...”
“There is no “not sure” option, my King,” Loki spat, putting emphasis on the words “my King”, “You're either with me, or against me. Pick a side.”
Utgarda shook his head. “This is madness, Loki-”
Loki darted towards him and grabbed him by the throat, slamming him into the cold wall. “This is not madness, Utgarda.” Loki stared into Utgarda's eyes and saw the light retract in fear. Bingo. “I was called mad by a mortal once, and now their skin is used as one of the finest rugs in all of Asgard. Of course, Odin doesn't know, but that can't hurt him, I guess.” He let Utgarda down. “Are you in?”
Utgarda took a moment to catch his breath. “Are the other tribes in?”
“Surtr and the Fire Johtuns are.” Loki said, “The Rock Johtuns, I shall visit later.”
“If Surtr is in, then I pledge my allegiance to you.” Utgarda grovelled.
“Good.” Loki said, turning around and walking out of the room, past the Johtun guard who was listening at the entranceway. Loki unsheathed his dagger and stabbed the guard in the stomach through the armour-like skin plates. Now he won't tell anyone he shouldn't Loki thought vindictively. “And sort Beli out for me within the hour!” Loki called back as he exited the building and strolled back out onto the icy tundra, the winds greeting him with open arms.
As Original told Xaos to open the portals, Xaos placed his hands together and closed his eyes. He knew roughly where the portals were opening: somewhere in the Egyptian Universe, Olympus Mons on Mars and Midgard in the Norse Universe. He concentrated on thoughts of the Egyptian Universe, imagining gold, pyramids and bland stretches of desert, the sand only disturbed by the winds that coursed across it, lifting them up and depositing them elsewhere in the plains. As Xaos imagined this, a black circle tore through the boundaries of space, creating a gateway.
“Just two more, Xaos.” Original stated.
“I know.” Xaos spat. “You're interrupting my concentration here.”
And Xaos imagined Midgard, where Viretta, Maria and Cody would be going. A run down little village, near the sea. It had just been rebuilt after floods and the month-long storms, which had washed away their wooden huts. From the one of the wooden huts came the sound of a mother disciplining her child, while the merchant at his stall yelled about his goods. The village seemed to be in a clearing , in the centre of a forest and a couple of guards were patrolling the area, or at least, Xaos assumed they were guards; they could have been mercenaries or assassins. In the centre of the village was a tramp, begging for food, until a villager who wore a golden ring ordered one of the guards to silence the tramp. They did so, dragging him into the forest and brutally killing him. Xaos opened his eyes.
Another portal appeared, the blackness inside the circle swirling in a clockwise direction with a vague whooshing sound.
“One more.” Tahkshi whispered in some sort of anticipation.
“Shuttit.” Xaos hissed.
He need not have imagined the final place for long, as all it consisted of was orange-red dust being flung around a dormant supervolcano, with a black night's sky displaying twin moons, Phobos and Deimos, up in space. The blue star that represented Earth was near as well, just a stone's throw away.
The final portal appeared.
“Go.” Xaos ordered.
Tahkshi beckoned at the final portal. “This is the Olympus Mons one, right?”
Xaos nodded. “The one going to Mars, yeah. Go for it.”
“I'll go last.” Tahkshi said, waiting aside the portal.
“Fine.” Foton said. “We'll go first.” Foton beckoned to Hurricane and Pandora. They came over.
Hurricane turned to the others and smiled awkwardly. “I guess this is goodbye for now.”
Maria nodded. “Good luck.”
“Thanks.” Hurricane said, stepping into the portal, followed by Pandora and Foton, before they were all whisked away through space, faster than the speed of light itself.
Viretta was joined by Maria and Cody. Maria and Cody held onto each other's hands and they stepped cautiously into the portal. Viretta gave a small wave, which Tahkshi returned as she stepped into the portal, disappearing to Midgard.
Tahkshi took a deep breath and placed a foot into the portal. Xaos watched attentively. “Go.” Xaos said. “Save your universe.”
Tahkshi dived into the portal, followed by Gold, Hades and Original, falling into a passage of darkness. The three portals closed behind them and Xaos turned away.
He smiled. “Save your universe,” he repeated, his tone mocking, making his words seem ironic, “If you can save yourself.” He cast his cape aside and it landed on the transparent floor of the Pillar. Beneath, Xaos could see Darkness's corpse. It had not yet decayed much, but it had definitely grown pale. Not as though he was dark of skin in the first place. Xaos smiled, his pale face splitting in two. Xaos was tall and his body was covered in black armour. His black hair was cut short and hung just above the ears. He felt his forehead: the blue crystalline object had disappeared. He thought it had.
“Xaos?” came a voice.
Xaos turned to see a figure in golden armour walk towards him. He had spoken to him and Loki earlier whilst the First Children were speaking of the end. “What?” he hissed.
“Will they do it?” the figure asked.
“Of course they will, my dear.” Xaos said.
“I admit, you don't look how you did before.” the figure said.
Xaos chuckled. “Before, all the name “Xaos” represented was a powerful god that looked like a deformed husk. Now, people will know to fear and respect my name.”
The goddess in the armour looked upon Xaos. “And they suspect nothing?”
Xaos chuckled. “And they won't. Until it's too late...”