Three days had passed since I had confronted Thor about the clue I had found. Now my days were spent either in the library or in Odin’s room. I was still searching for more clues, in vain. There was nothing else to be found, but I still checked. In the library I pretended to be looking up more techniques and spells to find clues. What I was really looking for was spells to bring back the dead, which were nonexistent.
The more I thought about this clue, the more I started to believe some trickery was afoot here. There was technically no proof that Loki had died. We had no body. No one had done an autopsy. Thor had been in a hurry when he declared Loki dead. He hadn’t checked for pulse, he hadn’t checked for brain activity.
I agree that Loki was close to death. He had been impaled, for goodness sake! But that doesn’t mean he died.
I had begun to lose hope, until this morning I had finally found the gem I was looking for. The book was old, falling apart and had been pushed to the back of a shelf, and covered with more books. I had opened it and nearly had a heart attack when the cover basically fell off and the cover page crumbled a bit. Once I recovered, I gently turned each page, wincing when it buckled, hoping that the ancient book survived being read again.
It was the title that drew me to the book: Evading death.
It was so obvious a title that I had to check it out. The first few chapters didn’t really hold anything important. They mostly went on about death, the state of the mind and body during death and the most practical ways to heal someone mortally wounded. All things found in healing books.
It was while reading the last chapters that things got relevant.
A person, though close to death, may not always enter such a stage. If the body is mortally wounded beyond the aid or herbs or medicines, one can avoid death by living through another. The wounded would not become a shadow or a spirit, but a living, breathing being once more, living on the life of another.
This was the first interesting thing I had found in days. I continued to read throughout the day. It seemed that once I found something useful, more information popped up.
One can be raised from near death by the giving of life by another. This would require giving blood, bone, flesh and hair, mixed with one’s essence of life. The giver would essentially give up their life for the dying.
Closing the book, my mind began to think again.
Both passages were plausible. Loki was close to death, and had someone help him, whether living through them or having them give him life. Thor had left him to stop Malekith. Someone could have followed them to Svartalfheim and as soon as the coast was clear, run out and helped Loki.
This was the proof I needed. It made sense. It explained why I found his signature on the sheets. There was just one question now: motive.
I tucked the book under my arm, careful that the cover didn’t disintegrate any more, and left to find Thor. He had been with Loki during his final hours. He could tell me what state of mind Loki had been in.
I was nearly to the throne room when I was stopped by three people I didn’t feel like seeing. “Lady Noelle.” I was greeted by Volstagg, who seemed a little nervous. He, Fandral and Sif were standing in the middle of the hall, shoulder to shoulder, blocking my path.
“Volstagg, Fandral, Sif.” I greeted them quickly. “Good to see you.” I tried to duck around Sif, and was nearly hit in the face by her arm blocking me. I looked up at her. “Look, I don’t have time for this. I have to go.”
“You’ve spent months on Earth and you already speak like them again.” She said.
“I happen to be part human. Can we talk about my heritage later?” I gave them a look, to which the men looked away, embarrassed. Good. Sif was unfazed though.
“We want to know what is going on with the investigation. Thor will tell us nothing.” She crossed her arms.
“Then I can’t tell you anything. Thor is the King. I have to obey his wishes, just as you do.” I didn’t have time for high school games. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to see the King, before he starts looking for me.” I pushed past her arm, ignoring her.
I opened the tall golden door, and with one last hard look to the three, I went in. Thor was just dismissing his advisors. Good, I didn’t feel like waiting again. “My king.” I said formally, since his advisors were there.
“Lady Noelle, what can I do for you?” He asked, waiting for the last man to walk out of the room and the door to close.
“I found something.” I showed him the book. “This book is about bringing people back from near death without the use of herbs or healers. Thor, this could prove Loki is alive!” I watched his face.
“So you think he is still alive?” He asked me carefully.
“I don’t know. But there is no other way his signature could have gotten into Odin’s room.” Thor gestured for me to sit on the steps to the throne, before sitting down next to me.
“How do you feel about this?” I was a little taken aback. I had expected Thor to launch into a discussion of theories and maybe even help me figure out what to do next. Instead he was asking about my feelings.
I scratched the back of my neck. I didn’t know how to answer him. I hadn’t thought about my feelings since coming here. It was dangerous. It was easier to ignore my feelings, work through this case and go home. But now that someone brought up my feelings, I was forced to think on them.
“I…don’t know.” I confessed. “I haven’t thought about them. I have grieved Loki for a long time. And before you visited me I was getting ready to put this all behind me. To finally live with his death. And now there is doubt. He may not be dead, we don’t know. I accepted his death, and now…”
“Now you have to accept the possibility that he’s alive, and bring up old feelings again.” Thor finished for me.
“I don’t know how I feel about him being alive, Thor. When Loki was alive he was…fighting back something. He wasn’t always the Loki I knew and loved. I don’t know who he would be if he returned.” There was also another little nagging thought I was trying to squash. The fact that Loki had come back and neglected to inform us. If he was alive, he was living somewhere else, without me. The fact that he hadn’t come back hurt. “Anyways.” I continued on. “We have something now. Something proving he could be alive.”
“Now what do we do? We still do not know where he is, if he is alive.” Thor got up to pace. He did this a lot now. “Why would he kill Odin?”
“He tried to kill him before.” I whispered. I hated speaking ill of Loki, but it was the truth. “Loki wasn’t himself then, and he had tried getting rid of Odin. Perhaps he lapsed back.” I suggested.
“What do you mean he wasn’t himself?” Thor turned to me.
I sighed. “I believe Loki was possessed. When I met with him for the first time after he returned…when our minds connected he was not alone. There was someone else in his mind. Whispering things to him, cutting him off from me.”
“So you believe that he was possessed and it was someone else’s doing when he attacked myself and Earth?” I nodded.
“Loki’s mind was laid bare to me when we connected. It was part of having our souls forged together.”
“So if Loki was merely the puppet, who pulled the strings?” Thor slumped next to me. “Why is it,” He started. “That every time we answer one question, we receive more unanswerable ones?”
“Because the universe is more complicated than any of us will ever comprehend. Or at least, that is what I have discovered.” We looked up to see a figure leaning against the pillar nearest to us. I nearly jumped out of my skin. The figure was tall, cloaked entirely from head to foot. The voice was whispered, and sounded funny. Like the way people’s voiced sounded on tv when they were altered for protection. This person was obviously using magic to disguise their identity.
Thor stood up, summoning his hammer to him, which had been resting nearby. “Who are you? How did you get in here?” Thor moved slightly in front of me. I wasn’t carrying any real weapons, besides a small dagger strapped to my leg under my dress. I felt it was necessary, since most people who played detective usually got attacked in movies.
I recognized something about this person. There was something in me that stirred, telling me that I knew this person. I stood up next to Thor, narrowing my eyes. Suddenly, another cloaked figure appeared from behind the first. This one was slimmer, more graceful. Its voice was also masked.
“There is just one problem with all your questions. You are looking in the wrong direction for the culprit.” The second figure said, moving closer to us.
“And what is that?” Thor shifted slightly, glancing around the room for more surprise guests.
“I didn’t kill Odin.” My jaw dropped as the speaker lifted its hood from its head, revealing pale skin, a thin mouth and raven black hair just past his shoulders. My eyes met with bright green ones, so bright that no one could mistake him.
The room was so quiet, and yet so loud with emotion. My vision became cloudy and blurred, and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Thor didn’t lower his hammer, and gently pushed my shoulder to get me to sit. I complied, nearly falling down. Thor had a dazed look on his face.
And then I laughed. It sounded funny, kind of strangled and crazy. I watched as all three people turned to stare at me. “Wow.” I hiccupped when I had finished. “You sure know how to make an entrance.” My voice went dead. “This is a really sick joke. Where the hell have you been?”
“Noelle, are you alright?” Thor asked me, lowering his hammer to sit next to me.
“Why wouldn’t I be? Loki has been playing dead up until three days ago, and now he decides to come out. Why wouldn’t I be alright? I should be happy. Most women don’t have this chance, to see their lovers come back!” I was so confused. My mouth was running away with me, the world was going way too fast for me to process.
“Everyone take a deep breath.” The other cloaked figure said, taking off his cloak too.
“Father.” I said. This only made things worse, as my mind was now working in overdrive. “Wow, two constantly disappearing men visit me in one day!”
“Noelle, please. Calm down love.” Loki started to approach me, but stopped when Thor stood menacingly.
“Not another step. We do not know if you are the real Loki or not.” Thor put a hand on my shoulder, gently squeezing. “I think it would be best if you left, Noelle.”
“No, she must stay. We have much to tell her. Both of you.” Tyr said, not moving.
“Later. Once you have proven your identities. For now, she leaves to rest. Can you not see that she needs some time, I need some time, to process all this?” I nodded, agreeing. My head hurt, my chest hurt. I was dazed, confused and was not thinking straight. I needed some air, and maybe a pinch on the arm or two to jolt me to my senses. “The two of you will remain in the king’s study. I will have food and drink brought to you. We will discuss this as soon as Noelle is escorted to her rooms.”
Loki and my father nodded, leaving the room to the small chamber off the side of it. Loki stared at me the whole way, never taking his eyes off me. I stared back, feeling numb. Thor pulled me up gently, and walked me to the hallway. He had a guard escort me to my rooms, and ordered him to stay outside my room.
I entered my room, falling to the floor and curling up in a ball. I breathed in and out, trying to be calm. I fidgeted, unable to be still.
“My Lady, are you well?” A women in healer’s robes stood peeking into my room. “Why are you on the floor? Do you need assistance?”
“I don’t want to move.” I said. I really didn’t. I just wanted to lie still, maybe curl up and stay like this until the world made sense again.
“The king asked me to bring you a tonic, for your nerves.” She entered the room and shut the door. “He said you have had a shock.”
I nodded. She tried to sit me up, uncorking a potion and handing it to me. “What is this?” I asked.
“It will calm your nerves.” She said simply.
“Will it make me sleep?” I didn’t want a sleeping potion. I hated medicine that made me sleepy.
“No. It will calm you.” I took it from her, and drank the tasteless potion.
“Is there anything else you require?” I shook my head. Then she left and I was alone again.
I laid down on the floor again. The potion was already taking effect. I could feel everything slow a bit, returning to normal.
So I was right. Loki was alive. He had been alive this whole time. He and my father had been hiding out somewhere for months. What kind of soap opera was this?
He’s alive. He’s well. I felt tears well up, and I let them fall. I felt happiness, and some comfort, knowing he had never really left the world. He was alive.
Had he missed me? Had he thought about me? Did he still love me? Did I still love him? So much had been left unsaid since I last saw him. Where did we stand?
As soon as my mind began asking questions, I began to feel drowsy. The healer had lied.
I fell asleep a few minutes later, cursing the healer.