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Prose Equus 11: Ave, Imperator.

Mandroid May 11th, 2019 124 Never
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  1. -Prose Equus 11-
  2.  
  3. >You dangle your feet over the back of the flying chariot as it sails over hills greener than the deepest emeralds under a sky of radiant opal. Even here, so many miles from the city and under the perfect clear sky, the shadows of the branches of the world tree brush the landscape. Whenever you look up to try and catch it, the ephemeral world tree eludes your gaze.
  4. “I didn’t know Asgard had farmland.” You ask.
  5. >Baldur turns from the front of the carriage and smiles at you. “Of course it does, where else would the food we eat come from?”
  6. “Your mother once mentioned some “Hall of Eternal Hunt” or something.”
  7. >”That’s only our meat.”
  8. >The other passenger of the carriage lifts her head up and gives you a look.
  9. >”Honestly No-name. Have you ever known a city to have no farmland in it?” Loki asks.
  10. >You could explain hoe the Griffon kingdoms used a system of hydroponics for indoor farming, but that sounded like a headache with her, so you just turned back to the view.
  11. >In the two weeks since the mortals down in Equestria had learned of the existence of their gods, in that time Asgard has been a busy place. Legions were gathered, the realm below was constantly watched, and you’d been told that Queen Sleipnir has been even more busy than normal.
  12. >You say told because you’ve been confined to your quarters until yesterday when the Queen came through one of your walls while you were trying to take a bath and told you that you, Loki, and Baldur were to travel south of the city and call her son home.
  13. >You sensed it was easier said than done, but you came unarmed just the same.
  14. >When you turn to ask Baldur how much longer, you see a sight just beyond the clouds. A large farm in the shadow of a truly massive mountain covering many hills that would make AJ weak in the knees.
  15. “I don’t know which the odder sight is, that farm or the goat pulling our carriage.”
  16. >The animal brays a response while Baldur takes his place at the front again.
  17. >”He has a name! Onward Toothgnasher! Let’s go find Vidar!”
  18.  
  19. >Some minutes later, your carriage lands at the front of the farmhouse and you now see how big it is. Almost half the size of the royal palace in Canterlot, you could only assume that a prince of Asgard lived big.
  20. “Well, so much for humble living.” You remark.
  21. >Loki looks to you and cocks a quizzical eyebrow, you gesture to the massive home.
  22. >Loki simply chuckles at you.
  23. >Not concerning at all.
  24. >You follower her as she in turn follows Baldur as he walks over towards the fields.
  25. >“Vidar! Brother it is I, Baldur! Get your massive flank out here and speak to me!”
  26. >The three of you pass onto the fields and let you examine the crop more closely.
  27. “Turnips?”
  28. >Really?
  29. >”They do the body good.” Loki tells you.
  30. >The leaves atop the crop begin the shake as the earth rumbles.
  31. “What in-?!“
  32. >”Relax” Loki says “It’s only the children.”
  33. >A pair of ponies with peculiar, curved horns on either side of their heads gallop over the hill towards the two of you. They’re taller than any pony you’d ever seen save the Princesses, and twice as wide.
  34. >”Uncle Baldur!” they exclaim with glee.
  35. >Baldur’s smile grows into a giant, open-mouthed grin as the two run towards him and he bounds out to embrace them himself.
  36. >The braw of the ponies meets Baldur’s invulnerability and smacks the two of them to the ground where they roll around and laugh.
  37. >You and Loki watch the affectionate exchange.
  38. “Is that normal?”
  39. >”It is for ten year olds.”
  40. “Riiiight. Wait what?!”
  41. >You look at the two massive stallions rolling around with Baldur, himself of average size and dwarfed by the two.
  42. “Ten!?”
  43. >”They’re their father’s children.”
  44. >The earth rumbles again as a nearby hill approaches.
  45.  
  46. >He strides among the treetops and is taller than the trees and his hulking body shakes the ground as he walks.
  47. >”Ajax, Kastor. Off him now.” He thunders across the land.
  48. >The mountain of muscle approaches you, with positively scores of gathered turnips in satchels on his back, and stops before you all as his children obey his command.
  49. >He must tower over 50 feet tall by your estimate, with a coat of deep auburn and a mane as fiery as his glare. His face, hooves, and peculiar horns were all jet black. A low feeling of dread washes over you, like how the Queen makes you feel.
  50. >”Baldur” he rumbles.
  51. >”Brother!” the light god exclaims, running over and hugging his massive leg. “It is so fantastic to see you once more, Vidar! It has been years!”
  52. >”Yes, it has.” Vidar answers. “Many quiet, uneventful years away from the palace.”
  53. >The feeling of dread under the giant’s gaze crept back up, so you bow your head.
  54. “My honor to meet you Prince Vida-“
  55. >”I am no prince, Two-legs!” he roars, the mountains nearby sending snow down their summits as his voice echoes through the canyon.
  56.  
  57. >While you’re still holding your ears, Loki steps forward. “Vidar renounced his title and claim to the throne some decades ago, shortly after Baldur was born. He has not spoken to Mother in person since then, and only responded to a summons once.”
  58. “How’d that go for the deliveryman?”
  59. >”I threw a barn at her palace.” Vidar answers.
  60. >You stand up straight and look back behind you at the small speck of gold on the horizon marking where the palace was.
  61. “And you hit it? Color me impressed.”
  62. >”This is No-name.” Loki starts, introducing you. “A greater enigma than even I’ve ever seen. First he appears in Midgard some, oh, twenty-odd years ago-“
  63. “Flattering an old man like me gets you nowhere, Princess.”
  64. >Loki hisses at you to be quiet and continues. “He served with the mortals until he died, then Mother pulled him from Valhalla.”
  65. >Vidar snorts, it’s enough warm wind to blow your hair out of the way. “Did she now.”
  66. >”I will tell you later brother, Loki promises.”
  67. >Vidar nods. “Though we all know how much those are worth.” And Loki doesn’t even look offended.
  68. >”Come.” The giant god says as he heads for the massive barn house. “While you’re here, you can help prepare supper.”
  69.  
  70. >Supper consists of, as you anticipated, a fair number of turnips and dishes that involved them. However your hosts saw fit to break out the meats, cheeses, and other things that actually hold some sort of flavor in them thanks to having company over, so you presume Vidar must not be as icy as he initially came across.
  71. >The family themselves were pleasant enough, even if your mind was on the patriarch thanks to your mission. Vidar’s two sons, Ajax and Kastor, were almost always enthralled by their uncle’s tales, and their mother Ariadne was more than happy to let them focus the unbridled energy of youth on something else for a change.
  72. >Throughout the entire meal, not once did either of your companions mention the reason you were even here; bringing Vidar back to the palace for whatever Sleipnir wanted him for. After the glimpse of his temper at even calling him a prince, you didn’t even want to mention his mother’s name.
  73. >The dissonance of it gives you a headache, so you make an excuse while Baldur starts up another tale and step outside for some fresh air.
  74. >The mountain behind Vidar’s home creates a shadow even from the moon as its peak scrapes the very sky and beyond it you see the flashes of the unleashed cosmos connected via the world tree.
  75. >You hear someone approach behind you.
  76.  
  77. “Easy to get lost in all of it.”
  78. >”Mm.” she responds.
  79. >Loki walks up next to you and looks to you. “They say that nowhere in the nine realms minus Midgard has the same sky.”
  80. “Why is that?”
  81. >Loki rolls her head thinking over her answer. “The realms exist…close to one another, occupying similar spaces however on different planes, like different colored bits of cloth stretched over one another.” She looks up to the sky. “The sky is like…lenses of glass, unique to each realm. This high atop Yggdrasill, we see through each of them in unison.”
  82. “Huh. So that’s why I see the moon?”
  83. >”Midgard is a part of the world tree, just the same as all the others. I see constellations from Alfhiem, clouds from Muspelheim, and nebula from Svartalheim just here alone.”
  84. “Beautiful sight…it makes it easy to understand why your brother retired this far out, if he sees this every night.”
  85. >”Mm…Vidar was already gone by the time I was welcomed into the family.”
  86. >You turn to look at her.
  87. “I bet you still know why he’s out here.”
  88. >”I do.”
  89. “And does it relate to why no one’s said a word about our mission since we got here?”
  90. >”It does.”
  91. >An uncomfortable silence passes between the two of you and you get the feeling you’re not being told something.
  92. “Sharing is caring.”
  93. >”I don’t care.” She responds.
  94. “I’m hurt.”
  95.  
  96. >Little Loki sighs and closes her eyes. “I don’t care because our mission is a predestined failure. Vidar won’t set foot in Asgard, even if Ragnarok comes for him. His hatred for Mother runs far too deep for that.
  97. “Why though? What makes him that way?”
  98. >Loki looks up to you. “Are you daft? Can you not figure it out? Vidar is born of mother, but his father was a giant. The last king of them, to be exact.”
  99. >You stare back at her for a moment.
  100. “…And?!”
  101. >Did she think stating the obvious made her smart?
  102. “Clearly he’s some sort of giant, he IS giant! There aren’t any frost giants but what does that have to do with the Queen?”
  103. >Loki sighs explosively again and levitates a stone amulet from beneath her robes. “To Hel with it! It is easier to show you. Do you have your piece?”
  104. >You recognize that amulet from all the work you went through to get it. Your hand already going to secret pouch woven into your pocket where you keep your half of the Palantir.
  105. “I keep it on me, but what will looking into the past show?”
  106. >Loki levitates the jewel from between your fingers and plugs it into the talisman. “Just…watch the mountain.”
  107. >You blink as the mountain starts to disappear in a haze of fog.
  108.  
  109. Music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWzc9_BBnas
  110. “Loki! Where are-“
  111. >”Relax, No-name. It’s just a vision. It can’t hurt you.”
  112. >As she speaks, the fog around you begins to lift and reveal more of your surroundings. Loki stand next to you, as she was before and with the amulet in her grip. The field behind Vidar’s house now stretches out towards and past the horizon, unplowed and populated by peaceful trees and meadows. The mountain who’s shadow you were in is no longer there.
  113. “When is this?”
  114. >”Considering Vidar’s age? Oh…a few decades? Watch your back.”
  115. “Wha-“
  116. >You turn just in time to see the mountain thrown over you. With a clamoring crash and a mouthful of swears, it lands in its spot and flails around.
  117. >Through the dust and fog, you see horns and limbs that clue you in. It wasn’t a mountain; it was a massive horned creature.
  118. >You suddenly wish you were in possession of your sword, even if this was just a vision.
  119. “I take it that’s-“
  120. >”The former king of the giants.” Loki answers.
  121. “Former why?”
  122. >”Look up.” Loki answers glacially.
  123. >You look to the sky and see an eight-legged figure descend from the fog. She walks upon the air like its stone and orbits a dozen glimmering weapons around her body in her magical grip.
  124. >”We had a PACT, Asterius.” The Sleipnir of your vision calls. “Should I even expect a good answer?” she asks with a tilt of her head.
  125. >The Giant King attempts to push himself to his hooves, only for streaks of golden light to pierce through his legs at the knees, impaling him with a pair of golden spears.
  126. >Through gritted teeth, the king speaks. “Peace! A farce, and you know it. We’re both pulled upon strings that only we may see, One-eye! Why pretend any different!?”
  127.  
  128. >”Indeed, because it was not your command to have your giants descend from the hills and raid the elves.” Sleipnir says on her way down to the ground.
  129. >The crystalline growths on the Giant King shimmer with magical light, and rocks as big as houses fly towards the Queen. Without stopping one of her eight legs, the blades and weapons encircling her deftly cut, bash, and deflect the mounds of earth as if they come at her. You note that the chunks of earth being removed make the plains look like the farm you saw.
  130. >”I have seen it all, Sleipnir! The commands of a king mean nothing in the face of a god! And those of a god mean nothing to that which lays above them!”
  131. >A massive towering mace spins through the air and strikes the king upside the jaw, sending his teeth flying into the air and embedding into the ground.
  132. >Queen Sleipnir snorts and narrows her eyes in anger. “Oathbreaker! You do not deserve your son!”
  133. >The Queen unleashes a lance of white hot flame from the head of a scepter beside her that breaks upon the king’s body.
  134. >”All of them are BLIND, All-Mother! While you, you who sees all hides the truth from them!” The king rips the spears from his body and hurls himself at Sleipnir, only to be rebounded by a mighty blow from a massive axe.
  135.  
  136. >The king lands in a heap behind you and speaks from his bleeding mouth. “I declare you Oathbreaker, Sleipnir Borsdattir, All-mother of Nothing! You who saw all that there is to see and LIED TO US ALL! This ruin! All of it! Your doing!”
  137. >The All-mother’s good eye glows stark white and the ground beneath your feet rumbles, even in the vision.
  138. >A massive chunk of earth on the horizon rips itself from the ground and soars through the sky towards you.
  139. >”Fate or no, Asterius, knowledge or not. The choice to debase yourself was yours and yours alone!”
  140. >”WHAT CHOICE?!” the king spits back.
  141. >The mountain falls from the sky atop the crippled giant, shaking the very roots of the world tree itself.
  142. >When the smoke clears, you and Loki are standing next to the All-mother as the fog begins to creep back in. She stares at the rocky face of the newly positioned peak as if she were still speaking to the one beneath it. “That perfection does not exist…is no reason we should not reach for it, husband…” she says as the fog overtakes you both.
  143.  
  144. >The vision ceases, the Palantir goes dark, and your face to knees with another giant though this one is smaller than the last.
  145. Vidar looks down at the two of you. “You are both louder than a dying pig.”
  146. >He and his booming voice catch you off guard.
  147. “Sorry about that Milro-“
  148. >”Not another word!” he shouts, punctuating by stomping his hoof.
  149. >You look up to his simmering eye as he scrapes his hoof along the ground and snorts. “I am not your “lord”. I am no prince. I want nothing to do with Mother or whatever she sent you here for.”
  150. >Vidar stomps in anger again and sends a tree in his orchard falling to the ground, your weaponless brain tries to back away with your hands up in a vain attempt to deescalate.
  151. >Several tense seconds pass between you and the giant god as he glares down at you, contemplating whether to gore you on his horns or not.
  152. >Loki intervenes between you two. “Be at peace, brother. No-name is simply…out-of-sorts.” She floats the Palantir into Vidar’s view. “He wanted to know why you hated Mother so…I showed him with this.”
  153. >Vidar looks between the amulet, Loki, and you.
  154. >”No name.” he begins. “Why are you here. I would hear it from you.”
  155. >You swallow.
  156. “The Equestiran-the MIDGARDIANS know of the existence of their gods now.”
  157. >”Thanks to him.” Loki interjects, you ignore her.
  158. “Your mother wants you to return home…she didn’t specify why.”
  159. >”How like her.” Vidar retorts. The giant god takes a few steps, which carries him several dozen feet and lets him pass you as he walks towards the mountain.
  160. >”You wish to know why I hold such hatred for Mother within me…? Look before you.”
  161.  
  162. >Vidar gestures to the tip of the mountain with his horns. “My father entered into a pact with her and saw something that drove him to madness…something she may well have known of, and she killed him for it. Dropped a mountain on him as a grave marker.” He turns back to you and glares at you, but you sense his anger isn’t in your direction. “Every. Single. One of her children, everyone in her LIFE, is nothing but a pawn in a game that only she knows of. Not a year after she killed my father, she birthed Tyr, to “try again”. She will do that to you the moment you no longer serve her needs, No-name.”
  163. >You cross your arms and stare at your feet, thinking that over. You think back to the battle at the Tartarian Gates, hunting that Manticore, even retrieving Loki. You think all the way back to the first conversation you’d had with her after exiting Valhalla.
  164. “I don’t believe that.”
  165. >Both Loki and Vidar turn their heads to you.
  166.  
  167. “I was ready to die and have my long sleep…and she roused me back. She has a reason for that, I’m sure. However whatever that reason IS, it has never conflicted with what I’ve always been driven to do.”
  168. >You finally lift your head and meet their eyes.
  169. “So I’ll keep doing as I please with this second life of mine. If the Queen has a problem, she can stuff it in her eye socket.”
  170. >Another long silence passes between the three of you, until Vidar lets out a sharp snort. He looks down at Loki. “I like him.”
  171. >” Statistically, someone has to.”
  172. “Quiet, you.”
  173. >Vidar turns from his father’s grave and walks back to his home. “You may stay the night, but I want you gone come morning.”
  174. “What should we tell the Queen?”
  175. >Vidar stops, but doesn’t turn to you. “What she expects, I refuse her summons.”
  176. “As you wish Pr-Vidar.”
  177. >The giant continues back to his home.
  178. “I hope there’s no hard feelings!” you call out.
  179. >”Disturb my peace again like this and you’ll find out, No-name.”
  180. >Vidar shuts the doors to his home behind him and leaves Loki and you alone outside.
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