The throne room was quiet as Thor paced it. I was standing neat the back, waiting for a moment of his time, something I had never had to do before. Before all this Thor was so available. But he was the king of Asgard now. He had things to do. At the moment he was listening to petitions his advisors had collected. I could see by the way he paced that he really did not want to hear any petitions from the people at this moment. The man had just lost his father for goodness sake! But when you’re a king people tend to forget your needs as a person.
After waiting for half an hour I was a little fed up with waiting. I had some important developments to tell Thor, and they couldn’t wait. I cleared my throat, getting the attention of the advisors standing around him. “Thor, I have some important discoveries I’d like to inform you about, if you have the time.”
“Yes, please. We will continue with matters of the realm later.” He dismissed his advisors, looking relieved. “What have you found?”
“Nothing good.” I wasn’t sure how to break the news to Thor. I was still shaken about it myself.
He made a gesture for me to go on. “Well, the room was wiped clean. It was nearly impossible for me to find anything. But, I managed to find a small trace of a magical signature.”
“Do you recognise it?” Thor stepped closer to me. I nodded. “And? Who does it belong to?”
I sighed, feeling a little shaky. I had checked the signature multiple times, even though I didn’t need to. I knew that signature like the back of my hand. “Thor…it’s…it’s Loki’s signature.” I stammered, closing my eyes.
I opened them when I felt two large hands grasp my upper arms and pull me forward. Thor was holding me tightly, his eyes searching mine. “It can’t be. Noelle it can’t be Loki’s.” His grip tightened. “He’s dead! I watched him die, we buried him!”
“Thor, put me down.” I winced. He did, putting his hands in his hair. We were both quiet, Thor still processing this.
“Are you sure?” He said after a while. “It is his? It could be a fake.”
“Magical signatures can’t be faked. It’s his.” I felt my shoulder’s sag. I had just started to get better. I had just started to move on. Even in death, Loki still seemed to follow me around.
“How is this possible? He’s dead.”
“Is he though?” I asked, my voice shaky. “Thor, they never found a body.”
Thor shook his head. “When Jane and I left him, his body was cold. When we went back later to find him… we had thought his body had turned to ash, like Frost Giants usually do.”
“Did you find traces of ash? Anything to show that he had been there?”
Thor smiled grimly. “Svartalfheim is a realm of ash. We wouldn’t have found anything.”
“So he may not be dead.” I put a hand to my temple. I was starting to feel the draining effects of magic, and that of the Bifrost. “We have no proof that he is dead.”
“He couldn’t have gotten up and walked away. He had been impaled, Noelle.”
“Maybe he had assistance?” Could someone have helped Loki? “But then again, I felt Loki die. Even while I was unconscious I felt him die.” None of this made any sense. And I didn’t believe in ghosts, so that was out of the question.
“Noelle, Loki was a master magician. If anyone could cheat death, it would be him.” Thor shook his head. “I don’t know where to proceed with this information. Anyone we told would think you were crazy.” I rolled back my shoulders.
“It’s the only lead I have from you. Either we go from here, or we give all of this up.” I wasn’t about to go chasing down the magicians of the realm, asking if they killed Odin.
“We will follow this, for now. It’s all we have. But enough for today.” Thor dismissed me, probably hoping I’d go get some rest. I nodded and turned around, leaving the hall. I wanted to sleep, but before I did I needed to see something.
The tombs in Asgard are magnificent and creepy at the same time. I passed the rows of golden statues of Aesir until I found the one I had been looking for. Staring at me unblinking was a golden statue of Loki. Though there was no feeling in the cold metal, Loki still looked attractive. The smith who made the statue was talented, and had captured every beautiful curve, hollow and plane, right down to the cure of his eyebrows.
The statue was dusty though, it obviously hasn’t been visited or cleaned since we put it here. I wiped the dust gently off the forehead, as if it were real skin. I dusted off the cobwebs, scowling slightly that he was forgotten. He deserved better.
I finished cleaning off the statue, before sitting down at its feet, reading the inscription on the small plaque next to it.
Dead, but not forgotten.
So typical an inscription. Odin sure got creative there. I brushed the inscriptions, feeling the texture on my fingers. Loki deserved so much more than this, being buried like everyone else. I looked up to see Frigga’s statue polished, with small bouquets of flowers at her feet. Both Loki and Frigga deserved more for the lives they saved and the price they paid. Loki had righted his wrongs, put Asgard, Thor and Odin before him, yet they couldn’t even try to bring his body back!
And now, months later, I find his signature.
“Loki, what are you playing at?” I said aloud, my voice echoing slightly. “Where are you hiding? Did you even die that day?” When Thor had told me Loki’s last words, they seemed pretty final. Tell her I love her, tell her I’m sorry. I would’ve expected something more dramatic if he had been planning to return from the dead.
I sat there for a little while longer, before standing. I brushed my dress off, stretched and gave the statue one last look, before leaving for my room. I needed to sleep on this.
Thor paced his room, unable to sleep. Noelle had brought him something no one else had been able to provide: A clue.
What was he supposed to do with it? He couldn’t go searching the nine reams for Loki. He would never find him. If Loki was alive, he wouldn’t want to be found.
No. He thought ruefully. Loki was dead. I saw him die.
There had to be another answer, a more logical one.
“My King.” Thor looked up as a servant peeked into his room. “My lords Fandral, Vostagg and the Lady Sif request as audience with you.”
“Send them in.” He quickly put on a tunic and watched as his friends entered the room. Ever since he returned from Earth, his relationship with his friends had changed. He longer felt inclined to run around feasting and drinking wine, while retelling all the great deeds of battle like they did. He just wanted peace, and to be with Jane. He didn’t even want to be king. Had Loki been sane, he would have given the throne to him.
Thor watched as his friends lowered themselves on their knees, their arms clasped across their chests as a symbol of allegiance. He motioned for them to get up. “What can I do for you?”
“We were hoping we could talk to you about the investigation.” Sif spoke before Fandral or Volstagg could.
“There have been some new developments.” He said, not giving anything away. He didn’t need people to know what they had learned yet. Least of all his friends, who still hadn’t completely forgiven Loki. “Noelle has been able to find a clue, as I knew she would.”
“And?” Fandral pressed, wanting to know more.
“That is all I will tell you for now. I think it best to wait until revealing what was found.” His friends frowned slightly.
“We just want to help, my King.” Volstagg put it.
“Please, do not call me that. And I know you would like to help. But Noelle prefers to work on her own with this. She knows what she is doing.” He didn’t need them bothering her about her absence. Noelle wanted this case solved so she could leave, and Thor was not about to have people distract or upset her.
“How do we know we can trust her?” Sif’s voice rang out. Thor was surprised. He had thought Noelle and Sif to be close.
“I trust her.” He said gruffly. “She nearly died in the service of Asgard months ago, in case you have forgotten. She came at my request, and was the only one successful at finding anything. I trust her more than my advisors.”
“Do you not find it odd that she found something and no one else didn’t?” Sif asked.
“She is more accomplished at magic than anyone here.” Fandral gave Sif a hard look. He had assumed the girls were close too, and was wondering what had changed her mind. “Loki taught her himself.”
“Exactly. Loki taught her.” She gritted her teeth. “Loki was a master manipulator. I for one, do not find it impossible to assume that Loki meddled with her mind.”
“Loki is dead.” Volstagg whispered. “His influence on her would have been destroyed when he died.”
“Even so.” Sif pressed. “I don’t trust her anymore. I don’t trust anyone who associates with Loki the traitor.”
“He died honourably, Sif. He saved my life. He saved Jane’s life, and I will forever be indebted to him for that.” Thor glared at her. “The three of you may go.” He dismissed them, feeling tired. He didn’t feel like arguing about this with anyone. He sat down on his bed, rubbing his eyes.
“Thor.” He stopped to look at the door, where Sif still stood. “If Loki was dead, I wouldn’t speak ill of him. But in my opinion, he died far too easily. He died in style and grace, and gave in far too easily.” She looked away from him now. “I believe he fooled us all. Again.”
“You don’t believe he’s dead?”
“I never did.” She turned and left, her black hair swishing behind her.
He wondered how many people believed this. He had to admit that he was also having his own doubts now, with the clue and the opinions of others.
He had thought it had all been over. He had thought that when he had buried Loki, that was it. Until today, that was certain.
And now what was certain?