literature

A Stolen Relic (One-Shot)

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The girl fought to keep her eyes open as the worst of the birthing pains ebbed away, replaced by an exhaustion she had never before known. Her eyelids drooped, opening fully again when she heard the cries of an infant—her infant. Having collapsed to her bed in the last painful moments, Luta struggled to sit up. She heard the midwife's voice, but could not make out the words over the baby's wails. The girl turned to her sister, who had not left her bedside for hours, and whose hand Luta still clutched tightly.

“What did she say?” Luta asked, her voice slightly hoarse from her own gasps and cries during hours of difficult labor.

“The child is male,” Ondott replied.

Had Luta been more alert, her mind less distracted, she might have better noticed the tension in Ondott's smile. As it was, Luta eyes filled with tears and, relieved, she sank back down against the cushions.

“Thank the gods,” she said, smiling widely. “I have done my duty, and brought honor to the king.” She looked at Ondott again, just in time to see her exchange worried glances with the midwife. “What is it?” she asked.

“He is…very small,” Ondott said. “I have not seen many of his size survive. He may live yet, but he is weak. You should prepare yourself, Luta, in case…”

“Let me see him,” she said, again trying to sit up.

The midwife was washing the baby, her back to the girl. When she turned around again, Luta's breath caught in her throat. The cloth-wrapped bundle was indeed undersized, almost ludicrously so in the midwife's strong arms. Luta reached out her hands, half in eagerness and half with dread.

When she saw her baby's little face, still whimpering in this new environment, every speck of anxiety fell away. Her surroundings, her entire world, seemed to fade into nothing upon seeing this being, after having been strangers in the same body. He was small, yes, but his cheeks were full, his breath strong. She could not think he might not live. Luta stroked his skin, the same deep blue as her own, with one finger. At his mother's touch, the baby's eyes opened, and she saw the same crimson gaze she knew in the mirror. The baby was hardly an impressive example of such a mighty race. But he was alive, and he was hers.

“He's beautiful,” she whispered.

Ondott chuckled. “A mother would say that.”

Luta looked up at her. “As will you, Ondott—if you would just look upon him. How could you not say he is the sweetest thing in the world?” She looked to the midwife for confirmation, but she had disappeared.

“She has gone to send a message to the king, to let him know of the birth,” Ondott said.

“Good,” Luta replied with a nod. “I cannot wait for him to see. He has not come to see me since first I learned I was with child. Surely he will now take the time.”

“He may not be pleased with what he finds. Such weakness is of little use, you know that. It may be that he wants nothing to do with the babe.”

“Perhaps he does not now,” Luta said, “but how could he not love his own son when he sees him?”


              . . . . . . . . .


In the hours that followed, Luta alternated between napping and watching her baby as she waited for word from the king. Whatever anyone said, there was little doubt in her mind that he would accept and praise the child, and commend her for bearing him.

Two years ago, when she had only just come of age, Luta had been given to Laufey, king of the Jotuns, as one of several peace offerings. Daughter of a rebel leader, Luta had been handed over by a faction that had fought—and lost—against Laufey's forces. Being the youngest and newest addition already made her an object of suspicion in the king's small harem, and her parentage only made it worse. Despite the fear she harbored toward the Jotun king, her father's sworn enemy, Luta believed that bearing his child was the most certain way to prove her loyalty and worth, to him and everyone else in his household.

As she waited, the young giantess heard whispers—among servants, the wives, and guards—that a long-awaited war with the Asgardians was drawing closer to reality. Surely this news, and the preparations, kept the king from visiting her and their newborn son. The next day, however, she could no longer be patient.

“Go before King Laufey,” she told a guard, “and tell him that Luta, lately mother of his child, begs his presence in her chambers and his gaze upon the babe.”

As Luta prepared herself to wait longer, Ondott came again to visit her. She made no pretense of joy or congratulations this time. Instead, her face—a rich blue like Luta's, but darkened and more creased with age—was tense with worry.

“I am afraid there is too much on the king's mind for him to bother with an infant,” she said, when Luta told her about sending the guard to him. “He will not like being summoned, particularly when our enemies approach. Do you not hear the chaos in the palace halls? The powers of Asgard will descend on us, tomorrow if not today. Anyone who cannot fight must hide or flee as they are able.”

Luta gasped and held her son close to her chest. “I will not let anything happen to him—not while there is a breath in my body!”

“Then I hope you can well conceal it—or that you have regained enough strength to run,” Ondott said.

The guard returned, grim-faced and alone.

“Is the king on his way?” Luta asked, panic in her voice at the thought of all that could happen to her child, all that she had to prevent.

“With respect, my lady, he refuses your invitation,” the broad-shouldered, deep-chested Frost Giant said. “He has already received word of the child's defects, and orders you to discard it immediately.”

“No!” Luta gasped. “That cannot be—he cannot mean it. You lie!

“It is the word of the king,” the guard said. “Excuse me.” With that, he made a move to leave.

“I must go to him,” she said, her voice thickening as tears came to her eyes. “I will show him the child, and he will change his mind.”

Ondott rushed forward and grabbed Luta by the shoulders before she could leave the chambers. The guard hesitated before he disappeared through the doorway. Ondott pushed Luta away from the door, nearly making her drop the child in her arms, and blocked her way.

“You foolish girl!” the elder giantess said. “Do you think you can change Laufey's mind when it is so preoccupied with more important matters? Heed his demands and be done with this nonsense. You will only bring death upon yourself and the child if you disobey.”

“I won't!” she said.

A scream in the corridor startled them both, and prompted a fresh bout of wailing from the baby. Luta tried to sooth him, rocking her arms and murmuring.

“Hush, little one, it is well,” she whispered. “Do not fear, my darling, all is well.”

The sound of drums outside the palace suggested otherwise. Luta and Ondott rushed to the narrow window to look out over the grounds. Below them, just visible in the waning daylight, Jotuns were gathering in preparation for battle. Luta saw the king moving among them, the tallest of the giants, his red eyes and his tattooed skin catching the glow of torches. Although she had sought Laufey's regard for her own safety, and harbored the occasional, irresistible romantic notion, Luta had never grown to love him. Now, with his order to dispose of her own baby hanging over her head, Luta could only look upon him with fierce contempt.

The hatred gave way to terror when she lifted her eyes to the horizon. They were miles away, but they were unmistakeable—an army of warriors. The most powerful soldiers in Asgard—in the Nine Realms—were approaching. Who knows what, if anything, would be left alive.

“They are coming,” Ondott said.

“What do we do?” Luta asked.

“Gather what you can, and flee where you may.”

“But I am still weak,” Luta said. “And to carry a baby…”

Heading toward the door, Ondott stopped to shake her head at the young mother. “You should obey the king while you still have the chance, and save yourself.” With those parting words, she left.

The Asgardians were upon them faster than anyone could have imagined. The two mighty armies clashed in a cacophony of weapons, horses' hooves, and battle cries. Jotuns and Asgardians fell. Asgardian survivors closed in on the palace, apparently with plunder on their minds.

Luta turned from the window, shielding her son even though he had seen none of it. There was no time now to go to the kitchens and gather food, and she wanted none of her personal possessions. Instead, she put on her cloak and added another layer to her son's wrappings. She would not get far in her fragile condition, but an attempted escape was better than to wait for their enemies to find her. Her father opposed the Jotun hostilities against Asgard and Midgard, but that made no difference now. She was one of Laufey's household, and in Asgardian eyes, would be as much a target for slaughter or capture as anyone else in the palace.

There had been panic inside the palace, but as that the swiftest had fled, the noise was significantly lessened. Luta hurried on shaky legs through corridors and down staircases. Other servants and palace officials still rushed about, readying their retreats, but none of them heeded the young concubine and her infant. Finally, on the ground floor, a rear door led her out of the palace and away from the battle.

In the bitter winds of Jotunheim, she paused to consider her route. The chill, which was not too harsh for her and would not have much bothered a stronger Jotun child, bit at her son's skin and brought him again to tears.

“None of that now, little one,” she whispered. “I know you're cold, darling, but please not now.”

The baby's cries lessened, but he would not be completely calm. When she looked up, she knew where she had to go. In the distance stood the old Jotun temple, fallen into disuse as had their faith in the gods of the past. Not sure what awaited her there, Luta set out in that direction, through the ice and the snow, the wind and the noise of war at her back.

The walk would have been an easy distance to a strong, rested giantess, but to Luta, it was far longer. Several times Luta paused to rest, but eventually she refused; if she stopped now, before arriving, she would never get up again. She had another life to think about.

At last she reached the steps of the temple. It remained abandoned, rather than serving as a stopping point for other refugees. Luta looked around in surprise. Where had the others gone? So many had fled the palace—what became of them? Her breathing grew ragged and her stomach sank as she wondered if they had all been killed already. And Laufey—was he still alive? Could their great king have possibly fallen to Odin and his warriors?

The child was an unbearable weight in her arms, and her legs could hardly carry her, but she forced herself to climb the temple steps. In the middle of the floor, amid broken pillars and beneath a roof so full of gaps that it was hardly worthy of the name, stood a stone altar. One side of it had been designed with a curve, perfect for hiding from the wind. Luta nearly collapsed behind it, her back to the frigid stone. She rested the baby, now a little more content, in her lap as she stretched her arms. Although they were safe for the moment, Luta's fear persisted. She had used up all her strength in walking here; she could not flee another threat.

“If the gods live,” she whispered, her words aimed at nothing in particular, “then let my baby live, as well. Whatever happens to me, let my son survive this.”

She smiled as the baby gurgled, almost as though he knew she was speaking about him. Watching his young eyes try to focus, she brushed her fingertips against his soft, plump cheeks.

“Grow strong, my little prince,” she said. “May you have a wise head, a just hand, and a loving heart.” Taking a shaking breath, she added, more to herself than the child, “If only you had known a better father.”



                  . . . . . . . . .



Luta had not dozed for long before she woke to the sounds of a fussing baby—and heavy footfalls. Slowly and quietly, she eased the bundle of blankets out of her lap and tucked him into the curve of the altar, half-hidden in shadow. Holding her breath, she leaned over to peek around the table. Soldiers approached—soldiers with armor of leather and silver, with long locks of hair.

Asgardians.

Heart beating wildly, Luta considered her options. She could wait, and meet certain ruination and death at their hands. She could take the child and try to run, and be pursued, when she was too weak to escape them. Would they harm an innocent infant? She wondered if she could bear to live if her child became, like his mother, the spoils of war. How brutal were these Asgardians? Luta saw a large stone on the ground, and picked it up.

“This place is abandoned,” one of the Asgardian warriors said. “Let us not waste our time. I say we return to the palace.”

“The palace is overrun with fortune-hunters,” the other said. “We may yet find treasure here. Besides, this was once a sacred place for the Jotuns, and the king wishes to pay his respects. We must ensure he is not set upon by deserters.”

“Did you hear that?” the first warrior said.

Luta did not know how long her heart could keep beating at its current pace. A cold sweat formed on her brow. She patted the baby, trying to quiet him, but his little infant noises persisted. She heard the footsteps coming closer, and threw the stone across the temple. It fell with a clatter some distance away.

“There! Get them!” the soldier said.

The two rushed toward the noise, away from Luta and her baby. When they sounded a safe distance away, she crept around the edge of the altar. She would make enough noise to get them away, and then sneak back to her child. With any luck, she could take him and hide elsewhere before others arrived.

Gathering up her strength, she pushed herself away from the altar and hurried down the temple steps, aiming for a wooded area a short distance away. She had underestimated the enemy's weaponry.

She did not hear the twang of the bow, or the hiss of the arrow in the air before its point entered her body, sending pain across her back and through her limbs. She had barely made it down the temple steps before she stumbled and fell.

Luta cringed in agony as one hand clawed at her back, unable to reach the arrow embedded within her. As she lay panting, the two Asgardians came to stand over her.

“This is no warrior,” one of them said. “You have killed one of their females.”

“It matters little, I suppose,” his companion replied. “It is still better off dead than alive. We are better for it, anyway.”

“We ought to inform the king. He should have a full guard if he still intends to visit the temple.”

Barely clinging to life and breath, Luta lay still until they strode away. Groaning and gasping with the pain, she pushed herself up enough to crawl back up the steps. Her strength, summoned up in a final attempt to save her child, was again departing. It abandoned her completely as she reached the side of the altar. Hearing the baby's cries of distress, Luta reached out a trembling hand to him.

“Hush, little one,” she whispered. “It is all right now.”

The baby responded with something like a chuckle before Luta sighed and closed her eyes.
After a friend of mine said she was getting Lokifeels from listening to the "Prince of Egypt" soundtrack, I started thinking about Loki's biological mother, whom we never hear about (at least in the Marvel films). The idea for this came to me yesterday and I typed it up last night. I don't usually write one-shots, and this is my first Loki-centric fic, so ... it's all new for me!
Comments8
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TheImpossibleWriter's avatar
Oh my gosh
This is really good
You have such an awesome imagination 
AnaxErik4ever's avatar
:sniff::cries: Baby Loki, and his mother, all before this madness with thrones, kings, and taking over the fangirl world of Midgard started.  :cries: This is so beautiful and sad.
AliciaParkersons's avatar
Oh my gosh, I'm crying tears of both sorrow and joy. The story had the right mix of love, sadness, feels, and smile-forcing tenderness to make me want more.

PLEASE MAKE MORE???? I know it's supposed to be a one-shot, but I love it so much!!!!!
emjwriter's avatar
Awww, I'm glad you like it!

If I come up with another idea, you can be sure I'll write and post it, but I made it a one-shot for a reason: Namely, I don't know how much further I could take this point of view!
Vahisa's avatar
This was so beautiful! You did an amazing job writing it, I forgot it was a oneshot and was looking forward to the next chapter until I got to the end and saw the oneshot again lol. I'm crazy like that. But this was so awesome!
emjwriter's avatar
Thank you! You're very kind. I appreciate it!
Vahisa's avatar
You're very welcome! I meant all of it!
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