In The Beginning

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  • Dedicated to Tom Hiddleston - The First and Only Loki
                                                  

[The skies are empty on Jotunheim...]

Silence reigns here with an iron grip. It pervades the frosty land, the icy wastelands of the inimitable race so known as the Frost Giants. There is nothing here, they say, but ice and snow and eternal night. And silence.

[...so wrong...]

[...there is life even here...]

You can see life struggle onward under the hard light of the stars - and hear it in the voices of the wind. The wind has arrived on this side of the Realm, the most populated area, holding the cities of Utgard, Griotunagardar and Gastropnir. Flying unhindered from the Kaldrfjall Mountains in the far reaches of the east, it has travelled a long way to reach the Eybjarg, the Chasms of Forever, extending from the west. Griotunagardar, situated on the edge of the eternally frozen dark ice of the lake known as Gnottvatn, hunkers down under the wind's roar, stalwart against the initial blasts - and then, the gales of snow move onward to encroach on the westward city, Gastropnir, which huddles beneath the protection of the Grarfjall mountains. Here, snow falls aplenty, but softly, muffling the quiet activity of the small trading centre.

[...and beyond...]

And beyond - beyond lies Utgard in the utter west, close on the edges of the world, the Eybjarg. It is a dark citadel standing as a sentinel at the chasm's edge.

Here, too, is silence.

It is the deep calm before the storm.

A long time ago, it was said the skies had been filled with exotic flying things - creatures who had long since died or fled, their names lost to time itself. On the land, there had been wide forests of jarnvithr [1], fields of tungblom [2] and plains of the harsh blakkrgras [3] - now long depleted thanks to the vagaries of war. And there had been other creatures, great and small, now threatened extinction, endangered by what threatens the entire universe - war.

For the land is at war, and has been so, for too long of a time.

As fortune smiled on the Jotunn, their grip of ice expanded outward and spread to other realms. A powerful King in his own right, King Laufey, used the power of the Realm itself - the Casket of Ancient Winters indiscriminately. Carrying it with him, he stood tall and proud, a striking figure among his own people, at the front of his legions - feet spread apart as he gazed over the empty land of Midgard. It was cool here, but not cold enough. The Casket felt right between his hands - felt powerful - strong and untameable as a wild stallion left too long to its own devices. Its chaotic swirls of power burst from his hand and covered the greenery in darkness and ice.

That had been the height of the Jotunn Empire, such as it was, and could not remain so in the eyes of the other Realms whose duty it was to protect the old alliances. Thus, fortune turned its back on the tall, hard-bitten ice folk.

Asgard joined battle with Odin in the lead bearing Gungnir and stern expression. Within a day, the war was renewed between the Aesir and the Jotunn, and since then, it carried on with battle after battle.

It was an epic struggle and many mortals, Jotunn and Aesir joined the halls of Helheim, Niflheim and Valhalla. Laufey himself was fatigued, though not wounded - and Odin was more than equal to the task.

War raged on for years and decades and centuries... For what seemed like eons, the battle swelled, lingered, smouldered - only to renew again like a fire that could not be put out.

[...and the land of Jotunheim fell silent...]

Yet even then, life was not lost and hope was not entirely smothered, for the cycles and seasons of Time wait for no one and each Realm's heart beats deep and strong. During one summer campaign (for the Asgardians), Odin was forced to leave the front lines of battle in order to support his wife during the time of childbirth - the time of something for which he had waited so long - the birth of a son. Signs, portents of Dooms and prophecies had pointed to the coming of a male heir, the like of which Asgard had never seen - and would never see again. And Odin, who had long since learned to pay attention to the words of his far-seeing wife, took the joyful news to heart.

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