Loki sat in the back of Thor’s chariot, and concentrated on the illusion he was casting over the raiding party. They were flying quickly over the long, magical rainbow bridge known as the ‘Bifrost’ that connected the Nine Realms to each other. The chariot was led by Thor’s magical goats: Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjostr. Brunhilde and her Valkyries rode – while heavily armored and holding spears on the back of flying horses – not far behind. Odin had stayed behind in Asgard with official business to attend to. The sun was just beginning to rise over the mountainous world of Jotunehim and Loki was once again running through his plan in his mind.
‘I can make the raiding party visible again once the giants start fighting back,’ Loki thought. ‘Everyone will be distracted enough. Then it’s just a matter of finding Utgard-Loki. As long as he’s in agreement to my plan – everything else should follow suit nicely.’
Thor’s Einherjar warriors followed in chariots below, chanting loudly to keep themselves as energetic as they could be for the battle yet to come. Loki’s magic prevented anyone nearby from being alerted to the army’s impending presence.
‘He’ll surely agree to help,’ Loki mused. ‘He has to! Why wouldn’t he?’
The gates of Utgard – a city of Giants – appeared on the horizon. Loki’s heart beat nervously in his chest. He studied what he could see of the city. He needed to be sure he could easily find Utgard-Loki as quickly as possible once the battle was underway. Utgard-Loki slept in a tower on the eastern side of the City Centre. It was by far the tallest building in Utgard, and could be seen from quite a distance. Loki saw plenty of windows on the side of the tower. Getting inside would be the easiest part.
‘Only a few minutes left,’ Loki thought anxiously. ‘I hope this goes well.’
Despite Loki’s cloaking magic the Einherjar fell silent as they drew closer to the city gates. The massive intimidating walls of ancient stone made even Thor’s heart race. As they reached the city the Einherjar took their place at the front gate, and waited silently. Thor, Loki, Brunhilde flew over the wall and landed on the other side. They each took their places and prepared. Loki stood by the doorway and waited. The Valkyries flew to the center of the city and formed a circle, while holding up their shields, and pointing their spears outward. Thor left his chariot to the side of the massive wooden doorway and lifted Mjolnir, his enchanted hammer, above his head. Concentrating for a few moments, he cried out a great primal bellow – calling down a massive bolt of lightning. With a monstrous crack the doorway exploded into countless tiny splinters. The strike nearly disintegrated it instantly. With this act – the attack commenced. The Einherjar started attacking the guard towers at the city’s entrance. The Valkyries held their ground, waiting for the fight to come to them. Thor smashed down defenses. Loki stood by the entrance keeping everyone unseen.
Before long the Giants of Utgard awoke from their slumber. The guards engaged with the unseen Asgardian warriors, and the citizens feebly attempting to defend their homes. The Giants of Jotunheim stood anywhere from 15 to 20 feet tall. Watching a battle between a 6-foot Asgardian and a war ready 20-foot Giant was a fascinating sight to behold. Overseeing a battle between an ill prepared Giant and an invisible Asgardian was more pitiful than anything, but Loki had more important things to keep his eye on. He eyed the tower where Utgard-Loki, Lord of the Giants, would sleep. The torches were lit. He was awake and likely preparing magic to defend his people.
‘Any second now he’ll cast it,’ Loki thought knowingly. ‘The Giant Master of Illusions can break my enchantment easily.’
Loki’s concentration was broken by the sound of a massive thud. He jumped, startled, before looking over. One of the Giant guards had fallen to the ground. His neck had been cleaved open by one of Thor’s warriors. Loki looked away and stared at the seeping bloodied ground.
‘No,’ Loki thought to himself, his heart racing, ‘this isn’t right! What was I thinking? They’re going to slaughter them. And it’s my fault. No, no, no -‘
A great beam of light shot out from Utgard-Loki’s home into the centre of the city creating a great flash. Loki looked up as the spell shot down upon him. His eyes strained to see through the blinding light, and the force threw him slightly off balance. The Asgardians were made visible instantly by the Giant Lord’s magic. The Giants now stood a fighting chance. Loki sighed with relief. Looking toward Utgard-Loki’s tower, he started to prepare himself mentally.
‘Now’s the time,’ Loki thought. He looked around himself to ensure no one was watching. He made a motion with his hands and became invisible. He snuck off to Utgard-Loki’s tower, weaving his way through grunting Einherjar and the Giants. He took a deep breath and with an intricate hand motion and whispered incantation he turned himself into a fly. He flew up the tower and found the window leading into the Giang Lord’s study. Here he transformed himself back into his true form. The study had wall-to-wall bookshelves stretching a hundred feet high. Enchanted lanterns floated throughout the room and provided sufficient magical light for Utgard-Loki to read by. Utgard-Loki was standing at a staggering height in front of a table, flipping through books frantically. He wore grey, threadbare robes and little else. He looked as though he were sleeping when the attack began.
‘No time to waste,’ Loki thought. ‘You’d better not screw this up, Trickster. You need this deal to be successful. This will be the trick to end all tricks. After this, you can retire.’
“Utgard-Loki,” Loki called out, “I must speak with you.”
The Giant Lord stopped flipping through his books instantly and looked down. He had a deep wrinkled face and a long white beard. His old, grey eyes squinted as he tried to make out what tiny creature was yelling at him. He pursed his thin lips and groaned with great force.
“Loki,” Utgard-Loki bellowed in his deep gigantesque voice, “What makes you think I won’t grind you into dust with my bare hands for this insolence?!”
“I have a deal to propose to you,” Loki explained. “I need a moment to explain myself. Grind me in to dust if that is what you wish, but trust me, this is worth your time.”
“Why should I lay trust in a giant slaying Asgardian?” Utgard-Loki boomed, “A ‘God of Trickery’ no less?”
“I’ve never killed a giant in my life,” Loki said indignantly, “And you know it. What I have to offer you will save the lives of more giants than can be told, and millions more. I beg of you, just hear me out.”
Utgard-Loki furrowed his overgrown brow, and glared at Loki. He sighed, causing a rather strong breeze to blow Loki’s hair back. Loki’s nostrils burned from the stench of the Giant’s breath. He let out a quiet cough, stifling himself so he would not offend his host.
“You have precious little time Asgardian,” Utgard said, turning to face Loki, while placing his arms around his chest. “Make good use of it.”
‘Here it goes,’ Loki thought, his heart pounding harder in his chest than ever. He emphasized his words with hand movements as he spoke.
“I require your assistance in one of my grandest tricks yet,” Loki said, “One that will change the face of the nine realms for all eternity.”
“Is it a trick that will be worth the lives lost in this attack?” Utgard-Loki asked.
“It’s a trick that will save the lives of millions,” Loki said, “Jotuns included.”
Utgard-Loki squinted thoughtfully. “Will it?” he asked.
‘At least I have his attention,’ Loki thought.
“I have no doubt that already you know the details of Ragnarok and the effect it will have on the nine realms?” Loki asked.
“Of course,” Utgard-Loki boomed, “You will murder Balder, most beloved of the Gods, and then lead the ‘Forces of Chaos’ to war against them.”
“Correct,” Loki interjected, “The fate that was laid out by the Norns centuries ago for us. All of it will end with Surtur- Lord of the Fire Giants – burning the nine realms to bitter ash, and slaughtering all but a precious few.”
“And what does your trick have to do with Ragnarok?” Utgard-Loki asked impatiently. “Your people have always been obsessed with it. It will be a glorious death for all. The greatest war of all time.”
“Will it be?” Loki asked, coyly.
“Be straight with me,” boomed Utgard-Loki, “and remember how little time you have left.”
‘He had better bite,’ Loki thought.
“I want your assistance,” Loki said, “in preventing Ragnarok.”
The Giant tilted his head and furrowed his brow in confusion.
“I don’t understand,” Utgard-Loki said perplexed.
“It’s a simple enough plan,” Loki explained casually, “and it will stop the nine realms from burning. It will save the lives of all of your people. It will save the untold lives of millions more. I know that’s something you and I both want.”
“This raises more questions than it answers Trickster,” the Giant said scratching his chin, “Why would you want to prevent the Twilight of the Gods? And how do you plan on doing it?”
“I don’t have time to explain why at this moment,” Loki said, “This battle needs to come to an end if we hope to prevent anymore bloodshed.”
“Fine then,” Utgard-Loki grumbled, “At least tell me how. Be quick about it.”
“The Norns are precise in their predictions,” Loki said, “They lay out the details of it all. I guide Hod’s hand in killing Balder. I am tied up under a mountain until the end of Fimbulwinter. I will break free and when Heimdall sees me leading the charge to Asgard, he lets a blast loose from Gjallahorn and the battle begins. All we need to do is remove one piece of that very precise puzzle, and then you and I can prove the Norns wrong. If the Norns are proven fallible, the whole prophecy could be wrong. I shatter the Gods’ trust in them and it all falls apart.”
“What would prevent me from crushing you now?” Utgard-Loki asked, “Remove you from the whole equation?”
‘Just like a giant,’ Loki thought.
“If Odin found out you killed a God, how do you think he would react towards the giants?” Loki asked, eyeing Utgard-Loki.
“Fair point,” the giant said, nodding, “So what factor will you be removing?”
“Gjallahorn,” Loki said, “the Norns name Heimdall’s horn in their prophecy. If a blast can’t be let out from Gjallahorn, the prophecy is untrue. I’m going to destroy it completely. Hurl it into the sun.”
“How do you expect to steal an artifact from the ever-watchful Heimdall?” Utgard-Loki asked.
“That’s where the Jotuns come in,” Loki said, “I need a distraction. A war fought between Giants and Gods.”
“So you steal it while Heimdall is engaged in battle?” Utgard Loki asked with a skeptical tone.
“No,” Loki said. “While Heimdall is distracted I sneak away to Nidavellir. I strike a deal with the dwarves to make me an artifact. Heimdall’s gaze is too powerful for my magic, but the dwarves could come up with something – something that could hide me even from him. I need the Giants to distract him, and the rest of Asgard while I slip away to make a deal with them.”
Utgard-Loki got down onto his haunches, creating a great breeze with his sudden movement. He stuck his massive head close to Loki’s and whispered.
“I’ll go along with your plan,” Utgard-Loki whispered, sending great globs of spittle onto Loki’s face, “However, if you’re lying to me, I will destroy you. I will crush one of your bones for every Giant that dies in this false war you’ve cooked up if Ragnarok still happens. Then I will boil you while you are still alive, and make you into soup. Then we’ll see what Asgard thinks of that change to their prophecy.”
‘Of course he would threaten me,’ Loki thought, ‘Just like a monarch to resort to death threats, but at least he’s agreeing.’
“Alright,” Loki said. “Understood. Now keep in mind, this attack is not Asgard’s declaration of war. This is just Thor trying to scare you. He believes you’ve been spying on us. I’m not sure he has any plans to take it any further than this. I need you to make an official declaration after this is over.”
Utgard-Loki nodded silently.
“Let us put an end to this battle,” Loki said.
Utgard-Loki grunted, grabbed Loki in his massive, calloused hand and stood upright. Loki quickly became dizzy and light headed.
‘What is this fool doing?’ Loki thought, fighting hard not to pass out from the rush.
“Fine,” Utgard-Loki said, smiling, “I’m going to throw you out the window. Just in case your fellow Gods noticed your absence. Just playing along, of course. All part of the trick.”
“Of course,” Loki said with a sarcastic smile.
‘Smart ass giant,’ he thought.
Utgard-Loki hurled the trickster god out of the window with an excessive amount of force. Wind whistled as it rushed past Loki’s ears, his stomach sank down as he flew through the air. The sound of the battle became louder as Loki drew closer to the ground. His back slapped painfully onto a dirt patch as he crashed down onto a thankfully softer patch of ground than expected. He slowly opened his eyes. He looked up and saw Brunhilde leaning down, looking at him. She had blood dripping from her face. Loki couldn’t tell if it belonged to her or a Giant. She put out her hand.
‘Just wait,’ he thought knowingly, ‘there’s going to be some rude comment about me. I somehow doubt she’s honestly being helpful.’
He put his hand out and grabbed hers. She pulled him up.
“Sneaking around instead of fighting,” Brunhilde yelled over the noise of the fighting, “Shouldn’t you be slinging spells?”
‘Knew it,’ Loki thought.
“I was trying to find the Giant Lord,” Loki yelled back, “He found me first. Not as good at spying as I thought.”
“Is he on his way out?” Brunhilde asked, eyeing the tower.
“It looked like it,” Loki said “He was preparing spells. Books I’ve never even seen before. I’m not sure what he has in store, but it may lead to some serious carnage.”
“Then we’d best retreat,” Brunhilde said. “We’ve sent enough of a message. If they’re crass enough to attack us back, we’ll bring the fight back to them.”
‘Oh, thank goodness,’ Loki thought.
Brunhilde ran up to Thor who was delivering a particularly rough beating to a young Giant. She yelled something that Loki couldn’t hear. Thor looked a bit disappointed, but nodded. He lifted his hammer and summoned an earsplitting crack of thunder. His goats ran up with his chariot, and the raiding party prepared quickly to leave. Just as Utgard-Loki made his way down from his tower – ready hands glowing with fiery magic – the gods made their escape.
“That’ll teach you massive brutes to spy on the gods of Asgard,” Thor hollered out, laughing heartily, “Let this be a lesson to you!”
Loki slumped back in the chariot, and sighed deeply. His back still ached from being hurled by the Giant. He closed his eyes, and rested his head on his knees.
‘Alright,’ Loki thought, ‘now for the hard part.’