Chapter 30: "Ice Moon Serenade"

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Reflexively, she reached out to touch his cheek.

"I won't hide us anymore, Loki," Athena said, fire dancing in her emerald eyes. "The time for stealth and deception is over. Promise me we stand side by side no matter what happens."

Loki nodded wordlessly. She always had the power to stop his speech.

"Your majesty," one of the castle's security officers said from inside the castle, "the furry leader of the mortals is demanding to see you."

"Tell him I'll see him in a moment. It'll be a joy, compared to wrangling these overgrown children," Loki said, indicating the guard could leave.

"Who is this furry leader?" Athena asked.

"He is the second in command of our mortal allies," Loki replied, straightening his cloak and heading back into the castle. "They were the ones who rescued Prometheus. Speaking of which, did you bring it?" He asked, pausing and turning to look at her.

"Of course I did," Athena laughed, sounding amused. "If I hadn't been able to, I wouldn't be here to tell the tale. I doubt my father will be particularly forgiving when he realizes it's gone."

"Good," Loki said, exhaling with relief.

"Why are you dealing with the second in command of the mortals and not the leader?" she pressed.

"He is still in the field," Loki answered, then added, "with Hasani."

2

Loki's Palace

The Main Hall

"Lord Gren," Loki said expansively, "what can the King of Jotunheim do for you?"

The leader of the Black Needles stood in the main hall. All around, the great beings and servants stared at the small furry creature that projected an aura of strength and courage. He didn't even seem to notice there was anyone other than himself and Loki in the hall.

"I want you to send me back to Hetra 3," Gren said, without preamble. "They've been gone too long; I need to go back and get them."

"They'll signal when they're ready," Loki said, nonplussed by Gren's demanding attitude.

"That's not good enough!" Gren growled.

Instead of raging, Loki, King of Jotunheim, went to a knee so he could look the little warrior in the eyes. The assembled higher beings were shocked by this, and a confused and borderline horrified murmur filled the hall.

"I am as worried as you, Gren Redclaw; my own child is there with your King also."

Anger drained visibly from the Kankoran's face.

"Why do you allow this creature to speak to you like thi,s Loki?" a gruff male voice asked from the observing crowd. "I was lead to believe you were a leader, not the lap dog of a mortal."

The murmurs stopped as the room went quiet as the grave.

"You were brought into all of this because no one else would have you, and I vouched for you, cousin," Athena said, entering the hall from behind the throne.

"Athena I..." the young god started, but was cut off.

"Shut up, Triton," the goddess of wisdom and war hissed. "We've all agreed we must act against the coming darkness, and thus we've gone rouge. But it's the mortals who've done the brunt of the work and shed the lion's share of the blood. When you've done one tenth as much as they have, then you might have the right to begin to question your betters!"

Silence filled the hall again.

"As I was saying, my small friend," Loki continued as if the interruption had never occurred, "they will signal when they are ready," he held up a hand, stalling Gren's renewed objections. "But if they do not, I will personally take you there. And if things have gone amiss, we'll shake the foundations of that world."

"That won't be necessary," the exhausted but relived voice of Walter, King of the Black Needles, said from the far end of the hall. All eyes turned to look at him, and the half dozen individuals grouped around him.

"And what of my daughter?" Loki asked.

"I am well, father," Hasani replied, lowering the hood of her cloak to reveal her face. "I have had better days, and could use a bath and a flagon of mead, but I am whole."

Relief crossed the King of Jotunheim's face.

"Yeah, it's all great everyone survived," Meg Carson said, stepping in front of the group. "But it's time we got down to it, don't you think?"

To Be Continued

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