“Loki, reinforcements are coming!”
The mischief god knocked out a soldier who gave him particular trouble and turned to where Thor pointed. The next wave had indeed arrived. A much bigger wave. He made his way over to his brother. “Tiring yet?”
He blocked a sword with Mjolnir. Proceeded to rip it out of the soldier’s grasp. “Nay. However, I do believe this next batch will be far greater than even we can handle.”
Loki gave a nod. Dodged a strike, grabbed the soldier’s arm, and flipped him on his back. “I’ll let you do the honors.”
Thor thrust his hammer into the sky. “Now!”
As one, the magic users revealed themselves. Eagerly joined the disarming battle. For many, it was the first time they had been in any kind of fight, and they were anxious to use their abilities. Especially since no killing was allowed.
Odin remained at the back of his battalion with Heimdall. His eye widened when the magicians dismantled their shrouds. With an angered cry, he sent in a third wave. “I will not lose to sorcerers.”
Heimdall smiled to himself. “In the princes’ defense, my lord, they were handling themselves quite well. And Loki hasn’t even touched his magic yet.”
The Allfather glared. “Remember which side you are on. Lest I be forced to kill you, as well.”
He broadened his stance and continued watching the battle—if it could be called that—in silence.
Loki had noted yet another wave had been sent. He surveyed his troops. They proved themselves helpful for now. But the Asgardian soldiers progressively became more aggressive, out for blood. He wanted to hold off on his magic as long as possible. He wasn’t fully recovered from the venom, and it would take everything he had against Odin and the power of the staff.
However, it wasn’t an option anymore. There were thousands of soldiers and only two hundred magic users at max. He threw up a force field behind him to stop an attack as he went straight for the heart of the battalion. Odin remained somewhere behind the ranks. The king wouldn’t miss this battle.
“Going to the center of the fun without me?” Thor asked as he hurled Mjolnir through a crowd of soldiers, knocking down a line. It wasn’t enough force to kill, but it was enough to hurt.
Loki grinned, fighting alongside his brother. Maybe this was like older times. It was them against the world. Granted, they had help in this battle, but in this particular area, it was only them. And they fought together like a well-oiled machine. They knew each other’s patterns and adjusted accordingly.
“We need a way to get rid of these weapons permanently,” Thor called out over the sound of metal clashing against his hammer. “None of us possess armor.”
“The elders are already working on it.” Loki moved under Thor’s swing and swept the feet out from under the soldier they tag-teamed on, also turning the young man’s sword into a stick.
Across the battlefield, a handful of elder magicians had set up a perimeter. Four manned a reasonably sized force field while two used magnetic magic to draw in only the various kinds of weapons. Extra elders aided the unexperienced. Many soldiers were placed under sleep spells. Others saw nothing but dancing lights around them. The magic users created walls of earth and fire, corralling many soldiers. Strong wind magic sent many troops to the ground.
Odin turned to Heimdall once more. “Send in the slaves. I want them dying over my army. Then we can get rid of them without alarming the people.”
Heimdall never took his pale eyes off the scene. “No one is dying, my lord.”
“For all your Sight, you are blind! Look at how my soldiers fall. Those sorcerers are killing them. I want the slaves to die in their place.”
Now the Gatekeeper faced him. “The soldiers are not being killed. Only disarmed and rendered unconscious or asleep.”
Odin’s anger kindled. “Fool! They are being slaughtered. If you say otherwise, you side with the traitors.” He sent Sleipnir into battle. “Trample them all!”
“You are the one who is blind. Blinded by your ambitions enough that you refuse to see the truth while it is before you.”
“Then you side with them and must be put down like them.” Odin swung his weapon, only to have it blocked by Heimdall’s sword. “I expected more loyalty from you. You know you cannot break my staff.”
“I am loyal to my king. You are not the king I know or serve. Nor can you break my sword.” He parried another blow.
Sleipnir galloped into battle, caring little for who could fall under his hooves. Though everyone yelled and scattered from his path. He headed straight for the force field. Tail streaming like a proud war banner behind him. Ebony muscles rippling as he urged himself faster.
An unconscious soldier slowly came back to the present. Groaning, he put a hand to his head. Froze when he heard a familiar thunder behind him. He rolled to his back. The large war steed came straight for him. Without showing signs of slowing. He screamed for the horse to stop.
Loki suddenly appeared in front of the fallen soldier, arms held out. It didn’t take him long to see what dispersed a section of battle. “Sleipnir!”
The eight-legged horse slowed and reared before him. Enraged his charge had been challenged.
He remained undaunted. “Sleipnir, you listen to me. I gave you four extra legs. I can take them away.”
Wide-eyed, the soldier crawled backwards. “That horse is a mindless beast. It can’t understand you.”
Sleipnir’s ears flattened as he pawed the ground. An angry snort came from his nostrils.
Loki lowered one arm and moved the other in front of him. “Is this what you wanted? To be a blood-thirsty monster? That is not what I had in mind when I selected you from the stables those years ago. I enchanted you to help people, not kill them.”
He pranced from side to side but didn’t force his way around the obstruction. Another snort.
“There was a reason I chose you from the other foals. All you wanted to do was run. And you wanted to run with a purpose. I gave you that purpose. I gave you the extra set of legs. I’ve never wanted control over you, but I want you to remember your purpose.”
The black horse reared again. Clarion call bellowing and startling the soldier. He landed hard on his front four legs. Tossed his mane.
“Is this what you want?” Loki stepped forward, forcing Sleipnir back. “Do you want to be the mindless machine that does Odin’s bidding? The murderous beast who’s feared? Well? Is this what you want?”
Sleipnir halfway reared, tossing his head once more, but finally settling down. He continued backing up as Loki continued claiming this ground. Offered a quieter neigh.
He crossed his arms. “Are you done with your attitude now?”
Nickering ensued. The great beast nudged him with the front of his head.
Chuckling, he patted the well-muscled neck. “Yes, I forgive you. But I want you to go to the stables. I don’t want to see you out here again.” He watched Sleipnir trot off before turning to the soldier and holding out a hand.
The young man stared at him incredulously. “You just saved my life.”
“We are not here to kill you. We are only here to stop Odin.”
“I—” He was at a loss for words but let the god of mischief help him to his feet. Then quickly jogged away, dare Odin see what happened.
A flash of light caused Loki to pivot. He saw a tall, ashen-skinned being. One look at the blinkless red eyes told him who it was. Every fiber in his being tensed as his nostrils flared. Black magic formed around tightly balled fists. He would kill this being. Setting his jaw, he strode forward. Abruptly stopped.
Humanized Jormungandr lifted Aura off his shoulders and set her upon the ground. She smiled up at him. Spoke words Loki couldn’t hear. The Tormentor began picking up soldiers, plucking away their weapons and armor.
Odin, too, saw the light of teleportation. He briefly took his attention away from Heimdall. Everything in him froze. It wasn’t possible. The snake had been permanently made a snake. How could this be? Loki. It had to be. That was the last person to visit the Tormentor. Leave it to Loki to being in an unpredictable variable.
Heimdall’s battle cry returned Odin’s focus. The albino brought his sword straight down, using all the strength he possessed.
The Allfather blocked with the staff. Stood his ground without give.
The ancient weapons clashed. An ear-piercing ring drowned out all other noise. They only touched for a few seconds, but it was enough for the staff to build up a surge of power.
As soon as Heimdall felt the growing magic, he released the downward force of his sword. However, he wasn’t quick enough.
A shockwave spread over the battlefield.
Odin remained on his ground, pushing his staff further up even as the shockwave radiated. His added resistance caused strain on the weapon. It cracked down the length. Sending another blast of power.
Heimdall took the brunt of the blow as he was the only give. He flew backwards and tumbled a few times before remaining still and unconscious.
He smiled. With that threat out of the way, he could deal with the real problem. His good eye scanned the battle until he found Loki.
“Loki, reinforcements are coming!”