Chapter 30: "Ice Moon Serenade"

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"Old foes will become allies and family will become foes..."

- The Collected Prophecies of Tamara Walker

1

Loki's Palace

Jotunheim

"They are driving me mad!" Loki hissed, exploding onto the balcony. The icy winds of Jotunheim were a balm to his frustrations, and the anger boiling inside him cooled quickly.

"They've been arriving for days and they're bored," a new, softer, voice answered. "What else does a group of scared higher beings acting against the dictates of their Kings and Queens do when they gather?"

"They drink too much, they eat too much, and they talk too much," Loki said, smiling reluctantly at the newcomer. "When did you arrive to my realm, Athena?"

Instead of answering the question, the Greek Goddess stepped onto the balcony and inhaled deeply. Then she said, taking in the landscape, "Your lands are quite beautiful, if harsh, Loki. Sometimes on the mountain we forget we occupy a very small corner of the Megaverse."

"When I returned to the lands of my birth father, it was as an exile," Loki replied, turning to take in the vista before him. "Having been raised in Asgard and only ever encountering the Frost Giants as an enemy, I was not prepared for what I found here."

"Did they accept you?" the goddess asked, leaning against the icy railing and cocking an inquisitive eyebrow at the king.

"Not at first. The lands were still ruined after the final war between my fathers, and the Giants were broken into warring tribes," he said with a distant look in his eyes as he recalled the poverty and devastation. "It'd been a thousand years and they'd yet to recover; Odin wouldn't allow it."

"Well, they were the enemies of Asgard," Athena said, unsure how to respond further. "It only makes sense that Asgard would make sure they'd stay down."

"It's all a matter of perspective," Loki said, his voice colder than the night air. "Neither side was blameless in the war. There were atrocities on both sides. I cast no blame on the mistakes of the past... or at least not much," he whispered.

"If that is so, look at all you've accomplished," Athena countered, gesturing to the bustling city below the palace. "You should be proud."

"The old me, the angry me, he would have reveled in all that's been accomplished," Loki laughed darkly. "The man you knew in our youth would even now be digging in and waiting to take over after Ast-Murath emerges from his slumber and lays waste to the Megaverse."

"Who are you now?" Athena asked, placing a bare hand on his own. "Are you a Sorcerer Liar, a Tyrant, a King?"

The memories of time spent in each other's company, as their fathers conducted the affairs of the elder beings, passed wordlessly between them. She was one of the only goddesses to prefer his company to Thor's. Both allowed themselves to sink, for a moment, into cherished memories of stolen private moments over the centuries in clandestine locations, beneath the notice of their fathers.

"I'm a father," he replied softly.

A lock of her curly black hair came loose in the soft, yet chilly, wind and without thinking Loki reached forward and brushed it back. The brushing of his fingertips across her flesh made her inhale sharply.

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