Loki’s Gambit: The Raid on Utgard

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.’


Sleep… or lack thereof

These past few days have been kind of a struggle as far as writing goes. I’ve gotten some exciting news involving a potential work opportunity (temporary thing, but still exciting) that’s actually in my field. I’m going to be editing a documentary project and it’s a paying gig so I’m pretty pumped for that right now. The unfortunate thing for me is when I get excited my mind runs a mile a minute and I have trouble falling asleep. The same thing happens when I get stressed out. If I have something to think about I will spend hours on end lying in bed doing exactly that. Since I’ve had a lot on my mind these past few days I’ve been pretty exhausted and not gotten as much writing done as I would like. I know it sounds like I’m making excuses but I’m not! I am doing the writing. It’s just been slow going. Hopefully tonight I will get a good sleep and I am laying out a schedule for tomorrow so I can get some real work done.

My goal this week is to have chapter 6 of Loki’s Gambit done by the end of the week. I’m also hoping to post a few more short blog posts as well. I had a couple planned out about specific subjects so maybe I can flesh those out and get them posted. That’s all I have to say for now. Thanks for those of you who have been reading! I really appreciate it!

The Middle of Nowhere Part 1

Leaving Home Instax 210 Wide

     She left so long ago with every intention of comin’ back to visit. Somehow almost 50 years passed while she was gone but she didn’t age a day. She lost all memory of what happened after she had left. Seems like only a few minutes have gone since then. She says there was a great white flash and a loud bang. She woke up with the truck broken down in the ditch a few miles down the road. She walked back and so much had changed. She was lucky I still lived on the farm. I’m the only one left now. We used to be real close friends but I barely recognized her, to be honest. We were both twenty then. I’m seventy now. I can’t wrap my head around how it could have happened. There’s gonna be fella’s in suits and lab coats poking and prodding around soon but until then she’s staying with me. I bet she’s even more confused than I am.

     It sounds like something straight out of a science fiction story. The first gal I talked to on the phone had a lot of things to say about quantum physics that neither of us really understood. The gist of it was that it was somehow possible despite how completely insane we both thought we sounded. Fifty years went by normally for me and in the blink of an eye for her. To this day I don’t understand what happened but there’s no reason to deny it. It was the beginning of a truly strange time. The whole world changed, starting with a young lady from the middle of no where.

Let People Feel

Valentine’s day is always a really strange experience on social media. Years ago it was a mix of people posting about their partners/relationships and people grumbling about being single. Then, when a whole lot of people posted about their singleness, people got fed up. They started complaining about and shaming people for their complaints. They labelled it “Single’s Awareness Day.” Since then single people have only really been able to post sarcastic jokes about how they don’t like Valentine’s Day but are shitty for not liking it so you shouldn’t be like them. People who DO like the day also currently really seem to love shaming people who don’t like it despite the fact that I haven’t seen an anti-Valentine’s post in quite a while. There are also a lot of people who shame the idea of being anti corporate holiday. Again, I haven’t seen a “Valentine’s Day is a corporate BS holiday” post in years, so I’m really starting to wonder why people are still complaining about this. I think it is all coming down to one thing that has really bee frustrating me this time around.

Valentine’s day on social media seems to be (for a lot of people I have seen) about telling other people how they should feel.

“Don’t mope about being single, it’s annoying.”

“Don’t dislike Valentine’s day, some people like it.”

“Don’t criticize the holiday for being branded and sold, some people don’t mind that.”

I for one am not currently a fan of Valentine’s day. I dislike it because I’m single and not a fan of being single. I’m not going to get into a lot of details about it but I’ve got some self esteem problems and today is always a tough day for me. And this year I’ve been steaming a bit because the whole world seems more preoccupied with telling everyone what their feelings about today should be. I’m kinda fed up with it. Holidays are a weird time for some people, myself included. And what I’d really like for this Valentine’s day is for everyone to just back off and let everyone else feel what they need to feel.

If you’re honestly fed up with the idea of our culture branding and selling romance, fucking complain about it. It’s a shitty thing to do. There’s a whole day dedicated to buying love themed gifts so giant companies can make an extra buck, and that pisses you off. If you have sincerely strong feelings about it, express them! You’re passionate about something, and that’s really beautiful. Don’t let a bunch of self righteous wankers tell you you aren’t allowed to feel this way.

If you’re single and you hate it, you have every right to grumble. Being single sucks sometimes. If they don’t want to see your twitter posts about how sad you are they can unfollow you. It’s a day about romance and you’re missing out. That can really suck, and having a place to complain about that can really help. It’s okay to feel sad, lonely, and whatever else you feel. It’s also okay to express that in whatever medium helps YOU work through it.

If you love Valentine’s day and are celebrating it with your partner, fucking awesome. You guys are happy and you should celebrate! Enjoy the hell out of today. Post pictures about it and show off how happy you are. That’s what social media is for. Express your love and share it with the world. Life is short and you folks are living the hell out of it together. That’s amazing.

If you feel any of these things I’ve mentioned, or feel any other way about today that hasn’t been covered, that’s great. Our culture puts a lot of weight on sex and relationships. It can be a really confusing experience being a human in this world. Feel however you need to about today and any other day. Express those emotions wherever you need to. Just make sure that in doing so you’re giving everyone else the space to do the same.

Loki’sGambit: The Lies Begin

Loki’s heart pounded hard in his chest as he put his hands on Hod’s shoulders. The music, dancing, and revelry around them was drowned out by a maddening ringing in Loki’s ears. They stood in the shadows beneath a tree so they could avoid being seen. This was it. The Norn’s prophecy was finally being fulfilled. Balder would be shot by his blind brother Hod, tricked by Loki into thinking he was taking part in a bet. Could a blind man hit a broad tree with a bow and arrow? It did not matter. For Loki’s hand was prophesied to guide Hod’s arrow into Balder’s heart. With his death Fimbulwinter would begin and soon be followed by Ragnarok. Loki would lead the forces of chaos to war against the gods. Then Surtur, Lord of the Fire Giants, would burn the nine realms.

“Well,” Hod asked, “Am I ready?”

Loki looked toward Balder who was wearing his shimmering robes and looking back in return. The tall, muscular, blond god of beauty looked more scared than he ever had. He nodded to Loki. He knew his fate. He closed his eyes and waited for his death.

“Yes, Hod,” Loki said as he guided Hod’s aim and let go of the blind god, “Fire away.”

Loki backed away as Hod exhaled and let his arrow fly. It whistled through the air as Balder braced himself, tears streaming silently down his cheeks. The crowd gasped loudly as Balder fell to his knees, weeping. The gods of Asgard, filled with rage, began to search for Loki, but he was nowhere to be seen.

Loki leaned against a great stone pillar and drew shapes with his fingers on the stone. He stared into the distance and ran through it all in his mind for the nine hundredth time.

‘It can work,’ he thought to himself ‘I know it can work. There’s no reason to think it can’t. I just have to be careful. No different than usual.’

He ran his hands through his messy black hair and sighed to himself.

‘It’s all just lies on top of lies,’ he thought, ‘You’ve done it thousands of times before.’

He took a step away from the pillar and looked into Valhalla. Past the massive wooden doors, with walls of gold, the great hall of fallen warriors was bursting with cheers and songs. Loki peered inside, hoping to see Thor making his way outside.

‘Of course not,’ Loki thought, ‘there’s mead and women in there. Why would he ever be on time?’

Loki and Thor had been best friends for hundreds of years. At least that’s how Thor felt. Despite Loki’s frequent pranks and tricks Thor seemed to love the idea of Loki being his adventuring partner and drinking buddy. His love for the trickster never stopped him from being perpetually late however. Loki leaned back against the pillar and slid down until he was sitting. He placed his head on his knees and hugged them. He sighed deeply and closed his eyes tightly. He tuned out the cheering from the hall and concentrated on his thoughts.

‘It’s going to work,’ Loki chanted in his mind, trying desperately to build his confidence. ‘You’d think the god of trickery would feel more comfortable tricking people by now. They’re going to believe me. They have to believe me. Just keep your lies straight and it will all be fine. You know it will. You have to pull this off!’

Loki’s thoughts were interrupted by the sudden smell of sweat and smoke. Loki’s head shot up and he stood very suddenly. He looked toward Valhalla and saw Thor walking toward him. He walked very quickly with his arms swinging at his side, his  frizzy beard bouncing with his wide, heavy steps. His somewhat short, stocky stature, bright red hair and beard made him look rather clownish. At least that was Loki’s opinion but he would never say that out loud and risk enraging Thor. Loki had been smashed by Thor’s hammer a few too many times to chance that.

‘Finally, you odious ginger brute,’ Loki thought. ‘Let’s get things started.’

“Thor!” Loki called out, walking toward the thunder god, “My greatest friend, how are you?”

“I am well,” bellowed Thor as he approached his short, wiry friend. “And yourself?”

“I wish I could say the same but I come bearing grave news,” Loki said as Thor reached him.

“Let us walk,” Thor said, slapping Loki on the back with his massive hand, nearly winding him. “We should enjoy this beautiful Asgardian day out in the sun.”

“Of course,” Loki said, wincing slightly from Thor’s slap. Loki’s small, thin frame was not made for the bear hugs and back slaps Thor was so fond of. “A splendid idea!”

‘Stinking brute nearly broke my back,’ Loki thought as they started walking. Thor crossed his arms as they walked and looked around them, taking in sunlight. Loki walked with his hands behind him with a straight back. He always tried to maintain an appearance of gracefulness when around others. Loki looked around the streets of Asgard and was careful about how loud he would speak. The polished, stone streets of the city were not busy but there were people around. There were citizens going about their daily business who loved to swoon and whisper when one of the gods walked by. Thor seemed to appreciate this constant attention despite the fact that it made serious discussions rather awkward.

‘I had best keep my voice down,’ Loki thought, ‘I don’t want to send the people into a panic. The last thing we need is rumours spreading before they are ready to do so.’

“I took a trip a few nights ago,” Loki said, swallowing nervously.

‘And so the lies begin,’ he thought.

“To Jotunheim.”

“I see,” Thor said, too loudly for Loki’s taste, “And what brought you to the land of Giants?”

‘You blustering oaf,’ Loki thought.

“Suspicion, mostly,” Loki said, quietly, “I have been seeing signs of spying outside of the city walls. Great footprints left on the forest floor. Unmistakably Jotun in origin.”

“Hmm,” Thor said, scratching his bushy, unkempt beard. Loki looked up at him, his heart pounding nervously.

‘He’s already suspicious,’ Loki thought.

“And so you snuck to their land to do some spying of your own?” Thor asked.

“Of course,” Loki said, “Sneaking and sleuthing is what I do best.”

“Lying and tricking are what you do best, Loki,” Thor said,”but do continue.”

Loki bit his lip and clenched his fists for a moment in frustration. He faked a laugh and sighed.

“I climbed the walls of lord Utgard-Loki’s hall and listened to his council,” Loki said, “It did not take long to hear them discussing plans to assassinate Frigg.”

“An assassination?” Thor asked, “Are they really as bold as that? To murder our queen in her sleep?”

“Apparently so,” Loki said, “And they’ve come a long ways in the plan. They spoke in great detail of how they hope to commit the act.”

Thor furrowed his brow for a moment. Loki looked up at him expectantly. This was one of the most important moments of this plan. The Thunderer didn’t even need to believe this first lie. He just needed to take the bait.

“Well then,” Thor said as he stopped walking and turned to face Loki, “I think it’s quite clear what must be done.”

“Is it?” Loki asked.

“Yes,” Thor said, smiling widely and slapping Loki on the shoulder, “We must do battle with the Giants! Immediately! We will show them we are not to be trifled with. Strike fear into their hearts!”

‘This is it,’ Loki thought, ‘It begins.’

“Of course,” Loki said, nodding, “We should strike first. No time to waste, after all.”

“It’s too bad you never join us for these raids, Loki. I think you would enjoy them!” Thor declared

“Actually,” Loki said, “I was thinking about that. I thought I might come along. Just this once! I, after all, have somewhat of an edge. I know more of the Giants’ dealings than anyone at the moment.”

“This is true,” Thor said, “You are welcome to join us if you wish! It will be fun to bring you along. Bashing Giant skulls with my oldest friend!”

“It will be a wonderful experience, I’m sure,” Loki said, smiling widely.

“I will gather the war council immediately,” Thor said, his smile growing wider by the second, “Meet me in my hall’s foyer at sunset. We will leave in the morning.”

Thor marched off laughing loudly to himself. Loki looked around and saw two citizens looking at him. They turned away and started whispering.

‘Of course,’ Loki thought, ‘that boisterous brute couldn’t whisper to save his life.’

Loki walked until he found an alley, and snuck off into the shadows. He checked to make sure no one could see him, let out a great sigh and laughed to himself. He punched the air and did a joyful little dance before stopping and gathering himself.

‘I should go prepare,’ he thought to himself, ‘there is no room for mistakes with this. I have to be ready.’

The sun set over the golden walls of the city of Asgard and created a beautiful pattern of light over the nearby forests. Loki stood on the walkway of the city walls and stared toward the sunset but payed no attention as he ran through the next stages of his plan over and over again.

‘Thor gave such an enthusiastic response,’ Loki thought, ‘I knew he would revel at the thought of battle, but one day isn’t much time.’

He sighed and looked down toward Thor’s hall Bilskirnir. He could see the gods of war making their way inside the massive stone entryway. Loki could hear two city guards standing down the wall from him, speaking quietly to each other as they watched Bilskirnir.

‘I guess it won’t be long before all nine realms hear of this battle,’ Loki said, ‘At least Thor is impatient enough to make this war catch up with the spreading rumours.’

Loki stared off into the distance for a few moments and sighed.

‘Time to get started,’ Loki thought. He slowly walked down to the hall hoping the discussions would go quickly. This wouldn’t be the first time Asgard went to war against the Giants. It should all be second nature by now.

Loki walked slowly and quietly through the massive doorway into Thor’s hall, listening intently to the war council’s discussion. Odin slouched in a large chair at the head of a long table, scratching the ear of one of his pet wolves, Freki, as he listened to Thor discuss his plans.  He seemed to struggle to keep his one eye open. The next seat down from Odin was occupied by Tyr, a long, black haired god of war and arguably Asgard’s greatest general. He had only one hand but still managed to be a great swordsman.

‘Two great Asgardian leaders, half of their bits are missing’ thought Loki, ‘The Giants sure have their work cut out for them.’

Across from Tyr sat Brunhilde. A stern looking woman with short blonde hair and a well worn suit of armour. She was a fascinating person. A human warrior who managed to impress Odin to such a degree that she became the general of the Valkyries. She was fiercely loyal to Odin and a great strategist. One seat down from her was Thor, followed by an array of warriors. There was one guest, however, who’s presence was a surprise to Loki. Standing back from the rest and across the room from Loki was Fulla, handmaiden to Frigg who was Odin’s wife and queen of the gods. Fulla was short with short black hair and wearing a long black hooded cloak. She almost never spoke unless it was to Frigg.

‘Frigg must have heard about the plans for her murder,’ Loki thought, peering over at Fulla, ‘If only Thor would keep his mouth shut. Too many minds worrying about this plan already.’

Loki kept an eye on Fulla but stayed back and listened. He crossed his arms and leaned against the wall, observing from a distance. There were plates of food and barrels of mead set out for the council to enjoy while they held their discussion. Loki had no appetite. His nerves were preventing him from feeling much of anything.

“I think it’s a simple enough plan,” Thor bellowed, letting out a belch and taking swig of mead, “we’ve done this plenty of times before. I don’t see why this time will be any different.”

“It’s too simple,” Brunhilde said while staring intently forward and speaking through tented fingers.

“Too simple,” Thor said, laughing loudly, “Too simple for Giants? They’re idiots! Brutes! How complex does our battle plan have to be?”

“They are smarter than you have ever given them credit for,” said Brunhilde. She placed her hands on the table and looked toward Thor. “Utgard-Loki is a well learned mage and illusionist as you have encountered first hand.”

“Yes, but the rest of them are fools,” Thor said. He swigged more mead and slammed his mug on the table, slopping drink all over. “One Giant who’s read books and nine thousand who can’t tell their ass from a hole in the ground.”

“You do not know that,” Brunhilde said, shaking her head and looking down.

“What was that?” Thor asked with an offended tone, turning to Brunhilde and leaning on the table. He gave her a stare with a patronizing grin. “What do I not know?”

Brunhilde paused looking frustrated. She tented her fingers again and sighed. Debating with Thor was much like having a screaming match against thunder.

‘Glad to see someone else has to deal with him as well,’ Loki thought, smirking to himself.

“You assume the Giants are stupid,” Brunhilde said, maintaining her intense forward stare, refusing to make eye contact with Thor. “But have you ever spoken to them? How do you know?”

“I’m usually too busy smashing their big, bumpy skulls in with my hammer,” Thor proclaimed. “I don’t have much time to ask them if they’ve gone to school!”

“If we are to believe Loki,” Brunhilde said, breaking her concentration for a moment to give Loki a menacing stare, “the Giants are smart enough to spy on us. They are keeping secrets. Your plan is to break down the door and start fighting. What if they have thought of that? What if they are ready for us?”

“I somehow doubt it,” Thor laughed.

Odin cleared his throat, and the whole room turned to him. Brunhilde put her hands down and looked at Odin intently. His face was somewhat wrinkled and old looking but his body was still muscular and toned. His skin was worn with battle scars and his hair was an ashy grey. He coughed to dislodge the last of the phlegm from his throat.

“Hmmmm,” Odin let out a long, thoughtful grunt, “Thor, my boy, I’m afraid I have to agree with Brunhilde. The Jotuns may not be the brightest flames in the nine realms but they have taken the time to think something through, whatever that may be. We should at least catch them by surprise.”

“Thank you, my lord,” Brunhilde said with a wide grin.

Odin grunted and waved his hand at her dismissively. She turned her gaze back to the table and rolled her eyes.

‘A brown noser and an arrogant old man,’ Loki thought. ’I guess I should count myself lucky at the sorry state of this council.’

“All right then,” Thor said in a defeated tone, “How should we approach this?”

The room was quiet for a moment as everyone thought.

“Loki,” Thor said, catching Loki off guard, “What about you? Sneaking and sleuthing are what you do best, after all.”

Thor’s comment was followed by laughter from all in the room.

‘Good to know I will be taken seriously,’ Loki thought. He pushed himself off of the wall, stepped forward and leaned on the table with his hands. His gaze didn’t meet anyone’s eyes. He stared into the distance and smiled as he made his suggestion.

“I think the most clear and obvious solution is magic,” Loki said.

This comment was met with more laughter.

“Is that all, old friend?” Thor said between chuckles.

“I don’t think much more needs to be added,” Loki said, “We are, after all, Gods of the nine realms. Odin is the master of the 18 runes. Thor wields a magical hammer. You all seem to forget that I am not only the god of trickery and lies, but also of magic and fire. I can create illusions better than any mage.”

“Better than Utgard-Loki?” Brunhilde asked. Loki scoffed.

“As you suggested he may be brighter than we give him credit for,” Loki said stepping back from the table and looking Brunhilde in the eye, “But no Jotun brute is a match for my magic.”

Loki waved his hand in front of him and created a streak of dancing blue flames that  floated for a few moments before disappearing. Odin straightened his back and gave Loki a long stare.

“I somehow feel we need a bit more to go off of than that,” Odin said, sternly, “Please, elaborate.”

“Of course, your highness,” Loki said, giving a small bow. “You’ve never taken me along with you on one of these raids. You’ve never had my magic on your side before. If the Giants are becoming smarter they may be able to gain an advantage. Let’s crush that advantage with an unexpected guest. Even if Utgard-Loki is a better illusionist than I we will still catch them off guard.”

Odin sat for a moment and thought. “It should still be simple enough,” Odin said, stroking his beard. “If your magic can keep us well hidden then we should be able take them well enough by surprise. Thor, we will use the plans you made earlier along with the aid of Loki’s illusions.”

“Fair enough,” Thor said, followed by a booming laugh, “This should be fun! I look forward to smashing Giants with a magical twist.”

“Yes, my dearest friend,” Loki said, smiling widely, “It will be a wonderful time.”

The discussion went on for a little while longer as Thor worked out the details with the others. It was more of a chance for Thor to get himself excited than it was of any actual strategic value. Loki looked around, growing bored, and noticed that Fulla had disappeared at some point during the discussion. He wondered why she had left so suddenly but soon went back to pondering the battle.

‘Even if the Giants were spying on us they still wouldn’t stand a chance,’ Loki thought. ‘They’ve never really been able to handle Thor’s firepower. Or Brunhilde’s warriors. I guess all that really matters is keeping the Giants distracted while I sneak off to Utgard-Loki’s tower. I’ll have to pass that off as an attempt to distract him and keep him from the battle.’

As the discussion came to a close Brunhilde turned to Loki and glared. He pretended not to notice and started to make his way out of the hall with the rest of the council.

“Loki!” Brunhilde called out, chasing after him. Loki paused and turned back. Brunhilde reached Loki and stared down at him with a scowl. She waited for the rest of the council to leave. It was just the two of them.

“Explain yourself,” She said, as she clenched her fists and caused her knuckles to crack loudly.

‘Of course,’ Loki thought, ‘It could never be this easy.’

“Whatever do you mean, my dear?” Loki asked.

“Do not act naive,” Bruhnilde said through gritted teeth, leaning in very close to Loki’s face. “I am not stupid. I know how you are. What tricks do you have up your sleeve, God of Lies?”

“No tricks you need to worry about,” Loki said, turning to leave. Brunhilde grabbed his shoulder but he didn’t turn back to her.

“But there are tricks,” Bruhilde said. “There always are. At who’s expense are they this time?”

Loki paused and stared into the distance once again.

‘I wish I could say,’ Loki thought.

“Tricks at the expense of Giants,” he said, “that’s all you need worry about. The opportunity to trick a kingdom full of Giants appeals to me far more than a kingdom of gods these days.”

Brunhilde let Loki’s shoulder go. He looked back at her for a moment. She glared and then sighed, relaxing her stance.

“You had better be telling the truth, Loki,” Brunhilde said. “Or I will find a way to punish you.”

Loki bit his lip and paused. He looked Brunhilde in the eye and opened his mouth slightly, as though to speak. He closed his lips and looked down. He turned and made his way out of the hall. He had nothing more to say.

‘I had better get some rest,’ Loki thought. ‘I have plenty more lies to tell tomorrow.’

Loki’s Gambit Starts Friday

I’ve officially set a date! I’ve been wanting to get this project started for a long time and it’s finally ready to go. A friend of mine is proofreading the first chapter. Each chapter will be 1-3 thousand words so I won’t be posting every week. The plan will be to post every second Friday starting on February 12th. The main idea behind this project is to start posting my work for the world to see. For this reason I won’t be getting much in the way of critique before sending the work out into the world. I don’t have too many friends who have the time to give crits right now so I would likely wind up waiting quite a while and not being able to post on time. Keeping that in mind I think it’s turning out pretty well and, while quite nervous, I am excited to start sharing more of my work!

I also have been thinking about other ways to get my creative work out there. I write things that aren’t prose and I am also a filmmaker. I have been talking to some friends about taking some stage plays I have written and turning them into radio plays. If that winds up happening I will definitely be posting them here for you all as well so that’s something you can look forward to! Depending how busy I get with those I was also thinking about starting a youtube channel where I post short documentaries. Documentary film is one of my main interests and I’d love to start working on it more and I’ve noticed that docs aren’t super common on Youtube at the moment. So if I can find some interesting subjects I may try making some very short (very interview heavy) documentaries on youtube. I know this is a lot of stuff going on all at once, but I want to try a few things out and see where they go. So we’ll see what happens with all that!