Thor led me down the halls of Asgard, which were littered with people. They were all standing around, whispering among themselves, worry on their faces. The energy was heavy with sadness and fear. Fear for the future of Asgard, and what this might mean. As we began to enter a more crowded area, I watched as people parted for Thor, some of them kneeling as he went by.
I wondered why so many people were gathered around the old king’s room. I understood paying respects, but why linger around?
I was partially hidden behind Thor’s large frame, so people didn’t spot me into he went by. Most people didn’t pay me any mind. They probably didn’t realize I had been gone from Asgard. It was as we got to end of the hallway that three people seemed surprised to see me with their king.
Sif, Fandral and Volstag all kneeled to Thor, their right arms positioned diagonally across their chests. Thor nodded to them all, before turning to me. That was when my old friends spotted me. “I am about to lead you into Odin’s chambers. I will warn you, nothing has been touched since the discovery of the body. The body has been left in its original position by my request, but we must move it soon for the funeral.”
I nodded. “I’ll need quiet, to concentrate. I can’t make any promises, Thor. But I will try.” I nodded to my old friends, who stepped aside to reveal gold double doors. I took a deep breath before pushing open one of the doors and entering. Thor followed me in.
I gasped slightly at the sight in front of me. Odin was lying on his back in his huge bed, as if he was sleeping. The only suspicious looking thing about the scene in front of me was the fact that there was a trail of blood leaking from his mouth. His one good eye was wide open, staring emptily at the ceiling. I put my hand on my chest, calming myself down. Thor had warned me the body was still here. Why was I surprised?
Everything in the room looked untouched, as if Odin had simply died in his sleep. Nothing was out of the ordinary. Thor had probably already looked through the room for hair, fingerprints, or anything out of place. I was a last resort, plan z. The pressure on me started to become evident.
I closed my eyes, calming myself even further so I could concentrate. Doing magic came easy when I focused. I tried to make myself fluid, like magic, and to feel it around me. Each person had their own personal aura, or signature, when they performed magic. I just had to try and find the signature that didn’t match mine or Odin’s.
Or at least it should have been that simple. When Thor had told me the room had been wiped clean from magic, I just thought he meant it was clean enough that he couldn’t detect it, or anyone else. But this room was bleached of magic. How the hell was I supposed to find anything when it was as if no one had been here?
I rubbed my temples, feeling frustrated. “Thor, whoever did this…I can’t feel anything!”
“Nothing at all?” Thor sounded disappointed, and I opened my eyes to see his shoulder slumped slightly. “There must be something here, Noelle.”
“I doubt it. If it wasn’t for the blood and open eye, I would’ve thought Odin was having a nap.”
“Please, try again Noelle.” Thor begged me, making me give in. I nodded, closed my eyes, feeling the pressure grow. It didn’t help that I could feel Thor’s eyes on me, waiting. It frustrated me further.
“Thor, I need you to step out of the room. I can’t concentrate with you staring at me while I work.” He started to protest, but I held up my hand. “Do you want my help or not? I know you want answers for your father, but I can’t work under these conditions! And while you’re at it, can you clear the hall from all the mourners please?” Just the thought of all those people standing outside, waiting for news, grated on my nerves. People were so nosy.
Thor rubbed the back of his neck, thinking. “I will try to clear them as best I can. But the people are in shock Noelle.”
“We all are. That doesn’t mean they can loiter around here.” I knew I was being demanding, but hey, a girl’s got to have the right working conditions to work. “Just please give me a little space to do this.”
“I’ll give you until tomorrow morning. If you have not found anything by then, I would appreciate if you would help give me insight as to who could clean this room of all magic.” I agreed, checking the sundial to see it was about midday. He was giving me a good range of time.
With that, Thor left the room, shutting the door quietly and shushing the people outside who started chattering right away, asking for news and any new developments. I just huffed. “Why are Asgardians so nosy?” I said to myself.
It was creepy, being in a room by myself with a body. I was jumpy, afraid to put my back to the body in case something happened. I kept checking to make sure the door wasn’t locked. Horror movies seemed to do that to you, and there seemed to be plenty on tv lately. Eventually, I settled down, sitting myself in a chair in a corner.
I partly wished Odin would rise from the dead after a while, so he could simply tell me who did this to him. I wasn’t getting anything, and my legs started to cramp up from sitting too long. I paced, I ran my hands along surfaces, I tried to think of ways to reverse the wipe down. I was beginning to lose hope and was ready to call it quits after four hours when I found something.
I had been running my hands along the bed sheets, when I felt it. A spark. A spark of magic, seeped into the fabric. At first I thought I had imagined it, but when I went over it again, this time focusing on the feel of the magic and not the fabric, I found it again.
I smiled. Finally! Something to work with! I took a deep breath and readied my mind, before letting my magic loose. I got control of it first, before letting my magic go to work, trying to find the signature. It wouldn’t matter if I didn’t recognise it. I could just describe the signature to another master of magic and hopefully they could identify it.
I felt my magic pulse, working its way around the small spark I found, which was very faint. I was surprised it even survived the wipe down, but no one is perfect. When I finally was able to find the signature, I readied myself for a big unveiling.
And then felt the worst headache I’d ever felt. As quickly as my magic uncovered the signature, it shrunk away from it, repulsed and paralyzed. It felt like I had been stabbed in my temple, and I was gasping for breath, trying to keep myself from fainting. I felt my knees give out and I was on the floor.
The headache didn’t subside until I completely retracted my magic. Someone had placed a curse here. They must have known that you could never completely clean a room of magic, so they placed a curse here to paralyze any magic that got too close.
I smiled bitterly. This person was clever. They were covering their tracks. But they weren’t clever enough, because the split second before the headache I recognised the signature. The curse would’ve worked if a signature unknown to me had been there.
I had been exposed to this signature for years, and it was so familiar to me. But the problem was, none of this added up.
I turned to look at the spot one more time, before getting to my feet. I had a lot to tell Thor, and he wouldn’t be happy about anything I had to say.
Niflheim was peaceful in the evenings. The setting suns complemented each other, giving off a beautiful, inspiring scene. The trees were blowing gently in the wind, birds chirping in the forests. A wood fire burned in the distance, completing the scene. This scene was meant to inspire.
But it didn’t inspire me. Few things did anymore. I watched as the suns began to dip lower in the sky, casting a shadows about the beautiful land.
I was supposed to feel peace. This was supposed to give me peace and balance. But it wasn’t working. How was I supposed to feel peace, when everything was wrong?
There was no peace here. There never was, there never will be. I doubted I’d ever find peace again. My dark thoughts continued to cloud my mind, until I was disturbed by someone all too cheerful. “Child, if you continue to brood, nothing will improve.”
Everything I had ever known had been a lie. And not just a simple lie, but the ultimate lie, a ruse so clever, it was like a dream. It made you unsure if you were awake or asleep. What if you have never been yourself, simply a living puppet in a show? “It doesn’t matter.” I reply, my voice dull and devoid of emotion. “Nothing will improve. This will never get better.”
“Not with that mindset.” I turned to see the old woman, scolding me as usual. She seemed to think it was funny. I found no humour in it. This was a joke to her. It was a joke to him. I was the joke. “Now come on, child, or you’ll get nothing to eat. He is coming to see you tonight, and I have a feeling it’s important.”
I stood, walking into the little hut the old woman lived in and sat myself in the corner. I had my hood up, like always, but sitting in the corner made it easier to hide my face in case visitors came by to greet the old woman. I watched her spoon soup into a bowl and set it down in front of me, feeling nothing. I didn’t feel hunger much anymore either, eating more for survival than for enjoyment.
I watched the old woman as she set out another bowl and spoon, with some hard bread on the side. I was both grateful and angry with her. She had taken me in when I was brought here, fed me and clothed me. But she was also part of the reason I felt so much pain and longing. Yes, we could not forget the longing, could we? The constant ache, the yearning. Would I ever be able to live without it?
I was taken away from my thoughts when I felt the air ripple with magic, and watched Tyr come through the door. His blond hair was matted with dirt, but still shone brightly. So much like hers. It was amazing how much they looked alike, how much he reminded me of her. He looked exhausted as he nodded to Groa and dropped down into the chair across from me and dug into his soup, ignoring my presence. It was a habit of his, to eat before giving away any news.
I had to wait patiently for him to finish his meal as well, or be threatened with a wooden spoon from Groa. After an eternity of waiting, he finished his soup, a small satisfied grin on his face. I never understood how Tyr could find joy in the smallest of things, like soup. He was currently a wanted fugitive from a formidable force, and had been forced to leave the love of his life and his child because of some idiotic prophecy.
“So, how have you been?” Tyr was suddenly serious, fixing his gaze on me.
I couldn’t help but glare. “The same as always. Nothing is better.”
Tyr simply sighed. “I know you are unhappy here, but-”
“Do NOT tell me it will get better!” I pointed an accusing finger at him. Tyr always riled me up, just by his very presence. I suspected he did this on purpose. “You say this every time, but you know it will not get any better!”
“The problem is you don’t want to get better! What’s worse is that there is absolutely nothing wrong with you!” Tyr was tired this argument.
“Yes there is! How can you say that? You have known for your entire existence that there would be something wrong with me! You knew I’d been possessed since I was an infant! You knew each time we met that the possession became stronger and stronger, until I could not even recognise myself! My life, everything I am, everything I have ever done, was a lie! I have been a shade of what I could have been for centuries, and yet you say nothing is wrong with me?” I stood up, not being able to sit still for fear of breaking Groa’s table.
“Why do you think something is wrong with you? You are still alive, aren’t you? You aren’t sick, or disabled. You are a perfectly healthy being.” Tyr said calmly. “Yes, you were only a shade of yourself. But near the end of your possession, before it became worse, you were more alive than you’d ever been. You were yourself then as you are now, with the same like, dislikes and opinions. I will tell you for the last time, you are fine! You are not the only person in this history of this galaxy to have been possessed, nor will ou be the last.”
I just growled, knowing he was right. It was all in my head. But that didn’t stop the wondering of what I could have done, who I could have been instead. “It just angers me to wonder what could have been. To know I had no choice in the past, and will have no choice in the future. I am bound the prophecy.” I couldn’t simply ignore what the fates had set in my path. No one could. “To be a puppet, with no idea who he was or why he did things until the strings were cut.”
“I know. And I know it bothers you to simply sit here and wait.” I nodded, agreeing with him. It was terrible, sitting and waiting. Knowing what was going to happen, and being unable to stop it. “Which is why you will be glad to know it will be time to act soon.”
My head whipped around to meet Tyr’s eyes, which were grave. “What do you mean? Is he…?” I couldn’t finish the sentence.
“He is dead. They struck a few days ago. I just found out.” All three of us were quiet for a moment, processing the news. “Things are beginning to move quickly. The first part of the enemy’s plan has been set in motion. This won’t be the last death. Soon, Noelle will recognise the culprit, and she will be next on his list. But not before they find the Amaranth.”
“Why does Thanos need to Amaranth? Why not search for the infinity gauntlet?” Groa asked. She was a pawn in this world like we were, bound by fate to serve the greater good.
“Because the gauntlet is in pieces. It will take him too long to track down all the stones. The Amaranth is able to replicate the power of the gauntlet, and can even learn to overpower it. It adapts constantly which is why he hasn’t found it yet. But Thanos knows it’s in Asgard. I’ve hidden it as best I could, but I cannot move it now. I have no idea where she may have put it.” Running a hand over his face, Tyr stood.
I couldn’t help it. I had to ask. “How is she?”
“You will find out soon enough.” Tyr smiled at me.
“What do you mean?” I had been in hiding for months. Tyr had stressed to me the importance of staying hidden. Could I finally go out again?
“I think it’s time you came back from the dead, Loki.”