1964-06-02 - Act IV: Loki Bound
Summary: In which Kai discovers the torments of the soul are nothing to the torments of the flesh, knowing your pet is /literally/ a pet.
Related: Loki Bound
Theme Song: None
rogue kai bucky 

Bucky arrives from Out <o>.

Bucky has arrived.

He awakens into a fool's world, a special kind of horror reserved for one. Terrors of the evening crash down in a blurry monochrome swirl, as the elf endures the indignity of being carried astride the horrific fae elk beast that crushed his body and snapped his bones. The point where a divot of metal pierced his skin radiates a sickly ichor that burns or alternately stings, a corrosive toxin killing him slowly. Even the slightest impression of contact on that beesting contact awakens an agony so fierce and concentrated in a laser beam that his nervous system lights up with a special brand of pain.

The pain a man cannot escape by sinking into the blissful grey unawareness of unconsciousness. The pain a man cannot bear by gritting his teeth.

Kai is but flesh and blood, but in the phantasmagorical horror, everything else may be called indistinct and incorporeal at best and implausible by laws of physics otherwise. He walks with the elk at its long-striding pace over a broken landscape witnessed in blue-black stained blurs where ink passes through silver nitrate. Shimmering glints stand out for broken rocks that brush his legs, and the beast deliberately stumbles — deliberately — to jar him back to acute, high alertness when he might seem to be knocked akilter into a stupor.

The masked riders blur past, indistinguishable cloaks and frames awash in raven-wing horrors but for their oval bone masks bisected by deep sockets and those relentlessly neutral mouths in flat sensual lines. Such are the riders of the Wild Hunt, myriad and same, unremarkable and monstrous. Flapping wings, padding paws, and lashing bone-struck tails mark the mounts as power courses through their bodies, branded in every scale and stretch of hide.

The ride is long, and short, direct and yet awful. The last reach seems to meet a cliff, and he'll have an excellent view of the dark roiling anger ahead. Sheer cliffs fall away into an empty oblivion and the elk trots on with its ungainly stride straight for that place. Maybe the euphoric end will be the moment his stomach lurches into his throat, kicking through his oesophagus to rest on the back of his throat with a bilious gush. The pain radiating up his legs is a constant companion, and no better when the rider pats his hip.

Someone shouts from behind in a ululating cry, "Tally-ho, bitches!"

And then he's lurching over the edge, down, down, down….

Kai has moaned til his voice breaks, then he gasps. Before he first lost consciousness, he fought so hard to stay alive. Now he just wants it to be over. He knows what lies in store for him. He's heard the stories. He doesn't even have the benefit of the drugs from before. Cold sobriety brings the gut-wrenching knowledge that he's not going to get to die just yet.

Keeping him awake as well is the nausea. Wave after wave. His stomach heaves, and he empties it violently, and that just makes everything hurt worse than ever. Some dim part of him takes pleasure in making a mess. Take that, bastards.

He wriggles. Once. Thinking he might pitch himself off the elk and onto the ground to be mercifully trampled beneath its feet. The moment he moves, he screams, then slumps.

There's an oddity in the pack of riders and their mounts, or some fae's sense of humor digs into Kai's subconscious and comes up with an ugly joke. For the rider next to Kai is on a mount that isn't a horse, but a wolf. Lean and swift and far too large for any mortal beast, though the rider is small. An elf diminutive enough to pass for a human jockey, all feral grin and gleaming eyes. The bridle cuts into the beast's mouth, and there's a foam of blood and froth on his muzzle. But one foreleg is a metal monstrosity, all gleaming alloy and arcing claws….and the eyes are husky blue, wild and pleading. He keeps slewing over towards Kai, only to be yanked brutally back by his rider.

What's one storey or sixty in freefall? There is no joy of the Bifrost, descending by the rainbow, or on the white wings of the pegasi used occasionally by the valkyrjur on their duties to Odin. In that instantaneous transfer, someone comes alive with the pure spectrum roaring around them and through them with the utter purpose — and wholeness of being — allowed to the Aesir and their chosen servants.

This is worse than a one-way trip to Hel on the back of a worm sucked through a black hole. The fall is not so much a straightaway anywhere but a flirtation and mind-fuck with vertigo, the senses thrown off-kilter by the first soul-sucking kiss of gravity. Then screw the inner ear, imagine it's doing a complex figure-eight on non-Euclidean planes of geometry. Feet go before legs bending like dough with the bones inside distended by distances stretching into the centimeters. He might feel wrung like a wet sheet, folded over on dozens of origami folds, and stamped flat by Heimdall's boot by the time it all ends.

The elk lands hard on the soil and sinks onto its haunches to absorb the blows. All around, other mounts of a quadripedal design spring down, landing in blurs of black, comet tails of flaming indigo and ultramarine inks painted high, higher than anyone can see. Foreign stars might be expected here, for the hour of night reigns supreme, but it's impossible to see through a thick, choking haze hung low.

A sickly, choleric brew, the ancients would have said, the proof of noxious fumes emanating from unwholesome places in the earth. Well, the garden briefly shaped from the pleasures of twisted and entangled stone or wood sculptures and arcing sprays of thorny canes does not invite one so much as repel to run for safety. The beguiling beauty found here is like that of the glacier, or the poison ring, its purpose terrible and yet haunting, compelling.

Riders guide their companions without words, those symbiotic relationships established in the oddest fashions. Some take to the paths deeper into the darkfire glades and mere-fen gardens. Others, the one bearing Kai included, turn towards a Gothic romance of a fortress, a palace, whatever one wants to call it. Pointed spires blossoming with an unholy flame show the inversion of all those lovely, graceful and bright spots in Alfheim that so draw Asgardian and Vanir ladies to spend far too much money. Toadstools? Perish the notion. It's all obsidian, here, black opal, volatile principles embodied in the very architecture. Which means, in blunt terms, everything mortal eyes see probably shifts around at sporadic moments. Trotting through a courtyard leaves the scent of syrupy sweet honey and something slightly more acrid beneath, assaulting the elf's senses. A pause beside a round pool warrants the rider pulling up the elf by his shoulders and unceremoniously dunking his head over the lattice-iron rim. The water is foetid, alive with tiny phosphorescent sparks.

"We can't have a dirty guest," gleefully calls one of the others. Masculine.

Kai cries out a gain, low and keening, when the elk lands hard, rattling his bones and jostling every ache and pain. He continues moaning, all the way through the courtyard, squeezing his eyes shut as his gorge threatens to rise again. There's nothing left to bring up, and the dry heaving is its own form of torment.

His body is limp, dead-weighted, but small compared to the weight of an Aesir, not even all that great for the weight of an elf, to be honest. He's a diminutive creature. He struggles when he's dunked, and he screams underwater. When he next gasps for air, he whimpers the first word he's spoken on the journey. "Please."

The wolf and his rider keep pace….and at the spectacle of Kai getting the worst possible sort of bath, the wolf's fighting the one holding his reins. There's a storm of snarling and whimpering, to the amusement of the others on their milling mounts, the beast struggling around the circle imposed by the tack he has on. He's not trying to devour his rider, but to throw him off….and to get closer to Kai. There are fits where he's reduced to panting, tongue lolling out, blue eyes bloodshot.

At least the water has a degree of coolness to it, rather than frost formed or a wretched lukewarm edge. The hand on his scruff assures a steady grip, pulling up the elf one-handed with a strength assured and poised. Dripping liquid forms a puddle under the bedraggled, bloody elf stripped of all pretenses and, more significantly, his shirt. Those pants are fit for rags and not much else.

His captive trots along, holding him in the air. "You're a guest," says the voice all but disembodied from the mask completely concealing the face. "Cleaned up, that wounded leg bound, and fed. We, after all, are not the savage ones."

Passing through the courtyard, the elk comes to a pause near a gaping entry traced in glass and glittering light. Wherever does Bucky roam, it will be herded along the same route, even by the other riders on their mounts or on foot. The snarling and hissing warrants laughter, amusement for a dark, dread place.

Kai peers at the wolf between dunkings. Something about it… Were he not undone and broken, he would be swifter on the uptake. It's its behavior that puzzles him most. He tries to catch its eye as he's held aloft, but his head keeps swimming, darkness washing over him but not taking him with it when it passes.

These are not the savage ones? Anger ripples over and grief. "Please," he whispers again. He doesn't expect mercy, but just speaking the word reaffirms his sentience. His humanity, were he human.

He's being herded along, still curvetting and thrashing, clawing at the air. The wolf looks almost rabid….but as Kai pleads, he echoes it with a whine. Keening, almost, past the blood on his whiskers. Isn't this exactly what his masters always wanted him to be? A mindless animal.

"Come on, boy. You don't want to end up in the kennels," snaps one of the others sliding past. The five foot tall mounted rider is not the same. Smaller, fiercer, vicious. Goading the wolf with a slap and a jab to the flank is far different from receiving a withering stare infused by the meltwater rush of magic that locks around the mind and slams what conscious thought the man under the fur possesses into iron shackles.

Obedience. Obey. It demands, shoving forth the terror and fear to a box confined by its harsh, unyielding cold.

And if it comes down to it, the rider and the other dismounted svartalf will haul Bucky's carcass inside through the doors if they must. Scrabbling claws and snapping teeth will avail him not.

Kai receives a jarring thud when the rider dismounts from the slavering elk, its breath hot and burning. It cannot be helped. He continues to hold the scruffed, soaked, shirtless antithesis of this realm high, a prize. Laughter echoes from the parapets and high terraces within, those windows bent and reflecting silhouettes of other revelers. "Please? Such charming words, meaningless though. Please what? Put you on your broken limbs and force you to crawl?" The man's voice is poured out, whiskey-dark, full of promise. "Please let me go into the wilds where you will be eaten alive by the wildborne? Please let you suck me off until I take favour on you, and elevate you above the cages?" Laughter should not be so beautiful nor so profane.

"You still crave your master. You shouldn't, not by the end of a night, but we shall see. Plead better. Pretty only goes so far. I doubt your sincerity." He tugs on Kai's chin and deeper they go through a delirious labyrinth of soaring high walks and balconies, turning, twisting back up the spine of the second floor. Bucky is not going to be out of reach for long, goaded along to follow.

His master. There as a time Kai would be infuriated at the very suggestion he had one. Of course Loki come to mind, though. The prince has him, body and soul. Tears burn hot in his eyes as he imagines that beguiling face, dark hair so soft to touch. Yes, he craves him. Craves him more than his life's breath.

The wolf's whining gets to him. Sure, he's broken and spent, too weak to lift his head on his own, but to hear another's suffering… "Please let them go," he rasps. He can't save himself, but maybe he could do one more good thing.

That's enough to finally subdue that lupine. He's reduced to a head-hanging shamble, the metal claws scraping on the floor, tail down, ears drooping. The foreleg isn't a muscle-contoured assemblage of shining plates, but something skeletal and almost delicate, worked with gears fine enough to puzzle a Swiss watchmaker. But his eyes keep going to Kai.

The turns and jaunts eventually lead into a chamber outfitted, oddly enough, as something between an exotic gothic chamber and a very peculiar salon. A hearth in the midst of it holds nothing but a fire that casts a pale white glow over the room, and nothing turns on the spit rammed through it end to end. Plush lounges linger about, and a definite tangle of thorns thick as a man's wrist girds the open, lofty ceiling to give a feeling of a pergola or trellis. One of those intersections of canes wrapped in a helix serves as a fine anchoring point for… a leash. In this case, a braided metal length of supple rope seized by a dark elf and the terminal end, a vicious, barbed hook of filigreed beauty, snapped open. Now where to stick it. In lieu of a collar, Bucky's skeletal leg is just fine.

At least it means his range of movement includes a spill of pillows. Kai has a slightly harder time of it, given the broken limbs and badly bruised flesh. He ends up lowered onto a slightly curved bench, brackets on a wall overhead casting similarly little light. "No," says the rider — Ember, if it matters. "Anything else to ask for? And he," he looks over his shoulder at the wolf, "will suffer any indignities for your poor behaviour. Now, let's see this leg. Your pants are hopeless, of course."

Ember is rewarded with sweet suffering in Kai's eyes, so vivid and glittering from those unshed tears. The elf hurts. He hurts. Not just in his body, but his mind, his soul. Then the threat to the wolf drives another stake in. "I'll be good," he whispers.

Then he looks away, taking all that anguish with him. The tears spill, sliding down his cheeks. "Whatever you want," he rasps. He can't exactly move to help the dark elf, but he doesn't struggle.

|ROLL| Bucky +rolls 1d20 for: 1

There's a low, exhausted growling from the wolf. He's too exhausted to do more than sprawl on his side on the floor, as much as that shackle permits. But….he remembers enough to know how this kind of thing goes. His various allies may've done their collective best to free him from the terrible imperatives the Soldier labors under, but he's still got the memories. Belly-crawling towards Kai, he's brought up short by his bonds, and he yelps in protest.

Has anyone ever experienced the joys of svartalf healing or medicine firsthand? Well, there are more barbaric surgeries out there, most of them performed by trolls or on Midgard in various nations. And Bucky the wolf gets to be firsthand to all of them.

For Ember, in his grace, wanders off to open an armoire full of indescribably pointy and detailed objects. A case in particular he carries back from the shelf, and a definite glint of metal appears when the catches are thrown. A full selection of most interesting pointed blades lay in splendour. The elf pulls one and assesses Kai.

"Oh, this simply won't do. Whatever I want?" He tsks and runs the point down along the line of Kai's unwounded leg. Less wounded. Might as well see how reactive he will be, the other one damaged sufficiently to bring little trouble. "You whole, at least enough to enjoy the hospitality. I will, however, have to see to this broken bit. Otherwise you are going to simply tempt the wrong kinds of people far too much. All the other hounds are likely hungry, and this choice morsel…"

Kai starts when the blade touches his skin. "I promise," he whispers, shuddering. "Whatever is required of me, just don't hurt him." His voice wavers, fear seasoning the pain and heartsickness. He closes his eyes, features pinched. He's never painted such a picture of abject misery.

For the moment, he just keeps breathing, one ragged, painful breath after another. His gaze strays to the wolf, and his lips twist into a smile. Hey there, doggie. See? It's going to be okay.

The wolf makes an absurd noise. Think every internet video with a loquacious husky delighting its human. The closest a canine jaw and tongue can come to words. But his gaze doesn't waver, and even as he warbles, growls, and grumbles, he thumps his tail. Then he looks at Ember…..and just for a moment, it's not an animal's undying affection, but entirely human. Calculating, storing, remembering. He won't be a beast forever…..and for once, James and Winter are in utter accord. What a bitter gift, that moment of reconcilation, two grating halves unified for a span of a few heartbeats.

It's going to be okay when the slimmer, smaller elf drifts into the scene and brings another of those wretched, thin cords that did a fine job of tripping Kai and bringing him down. Instead of a bola, they're silvery fine and stretch out into a darkened web once looped through the half-moon fixed to the wall. A word — «Askatle» — produces a shudder through the skein.

It moves. The ragged ends swivel and twist, and in a heartbeat, there come not dripping filaments but semi-sentient shapes swiveling down to capture Kai's arms. Every coil binds with restriction, except it's no tiny constrictor only. They have fangs. Petite ones, enough to sink right in to the flesh of his arms for a proper lock. Little jaws work firmly to nuzzle deep. That will, fight or not, remove the issue of mobility. The other side requires more work, but Ember holds still as he inserts one of the blades into the pant leg over the broken corner. A point jabs down and delivers a prickled pink kiss against the injured, swollen flesh. Sliding right up traces the femoral artery, soaked in the glorious white-fire glow of the frosty light. He knows precisely what he does. Then an upward slash parts the cloth. So close to places fatal. So terribly close.

Does Bucky want to keep whining? A slip of the finger and someone might be bleeding heavily on the ground. The bones are clearly snapped, shattered by an elk's hoof, and the dark elves assess the damage with their heads together like particularly wicked children.

Ember hums a soft sound, and he plucks something else out from the kit. It's a small bottle, and the contents are poured across his palms. They smell… thick, primeval, like the peat-thick water of a forest undisturbed in the fall, but not entirely unpleasant. Hands rub together as he distributes the oil of a sort. "Now, then, what is one of you doing on Midgard?"

Kai hisses a breath. Every time he thinks they've done it all, these dark elves discover new ways to make him shudder and moan. He tenses as the blade slashes so near his own demise, though there's a part of him that is desperate enough to murmur, 'Do it,' to his fevered mind. Thankfully, the words don't reach his lips.

It takes a moment for the words to sink in. What is he doing in Midgard? He licks his cracked lips, testing his voice with a rasping whimper. Then he manages, "My parents were fugitives. I was born there."

The wolf watches. Silent now, but his lip is lifted to expose those fangs. The eyes burn, the hot blue of gas flames….and he's bristling all over. He looks like something out of Red Riding Hood's worst PTSD flashbacks, the claws rasping softly against the floor, like a man clenching his fists and then releasing them.

Bucky hasn't been forgotten. Not by the liquid silver rope shackled to his leg, not by the thing that rode him. Conviction burning in his eyes arouses a twinkling laugh from on high, a warning. A silky rustle alerts ears sharper than some, a warrior not in leathers but a loose tunic and mask approaches thus. There is glee sparking in those deep-set eyes of burning purple, and a clap of gloved hands together sets off an electrified crackle and the faintest note of ozone. Approaching, this one, young and lithe and poised, dares to approach. They aren't fool enough to approach the bound wolf too closely. Instead, that thorny cage of struts and bars is perfectly suitable. Clap hands again, touch the metal, watch the shock surge through every thorny turn and down the silver chain…

Ember applies that flechette ever so cautiously, just enough pressure to serve as a guide. Drawing lines upon the light elf's skin and smoothing over the stinging redness with the oily balm is no doubt odd. Especially since those hands capable of holding him up by the scruff are just as capable of tenderly tracing along Kai's leg to find the broken bones and reset them. Without any sort of anaesthesia, at that, the massage rubbed in to loosen the muscles even as the broken pieces no doubt are a source of flaming despair. Or maybe it all causes pleasure to crack and shatter where one isn't distinguishable from the other.

The soft moan of contentment from the helper is, alas, as dark and hopeful as they come. "Must I get water?" is asked in Svartalfjar.

Kai arches his back and cries out when his leg is set, and his flesh tears against those claws holding him still. It's such a beautiful shriek, for those who collect such things, animal in its wildness, completely startled from one who should by now be past that.

His scream fades to a whimper. He bites his lower lip, and his shoulders shake with soundless sobbing as tears finally start to fall in numbers.

Extremity is what gives him his human voice back, though it sounds utterly bizarre. What greets the shock transmitted down the chain and up that metallic leg is first the high pitched yelp that's every pet dog with a door slammed on his tail. But what follows is a plea in words rendered gravelled and distorted by an alien throat, and a set of lungs so many times bigger than his human body's….and another tongue of Earth. James's native speech is Brooklynese, but Winter's is Vladivostokchani Russian…and so the wolf begs, "Nyet, pazhalsta. Stop."

A nudge and a very pointed look send the shorter warrior on their way, limber and loosely hurrying. The exchange, were Kai conscious enough to hear it, is for water. From a lovely pitcher a cup is poured, brought back, a vessel of thin metal filigreed for a riotously pretty shape. Water that will be set to the bound elf's mouth in proof that, even here, the guests get to drink something. It might be unwise if he's tempted to vomit the contents of his stomach up but at least Kai cannot say he was dehydrated.

Water in sips, not gushes. Water to slake the raging thirst left by the drugs, and oh, not to distort that tree painted on his back.

The bone is set, and thrashing about mustn't happen. Only one solution, and the twisting matrix expands again to a barked incantation, melting around the elf's limbs and anchoring to the skin more than the slab he's on. From there, stitching up a few open wounds isn't going to be so very hard, if they exist. Bruises are another thing, poked by a sharp flechette lightly to test their swollen state. Surgery a la Svartalfheim: effective, razor-sharp, and to the point. "Come now, you weren't going to stand if it were not fixed. The corruption in your blood is likely nothing. What else do you need, right now?" Cool fingers slide over Kai's hair, arranging it to not fall in his face.

The shout to stop in Russian won't hurt. They speak all tongues here, even if the elves of the darker shadows are not inclined to answer the same. Electricity dances on those fingers, a mercurial testament. "Why?"

Kai isn't proud of himself, but he takes those sips greedily, drinking them down as fast as he can. His throat feels like it's on fire from all the screaming, and he's dehydrated to the point of delirium. Small sips, and his tumultuous stomach settles somewhat. He takes every drop they offer, then whimpers when they take it away.

Shame washes over his features. He wants to spit in defiance. Everyone thinks that's what they'll do when they're pondering a situation from the safety of imagination. Chin held high, telling captors to go fuck themselves, too tough to let pain stop them.

It's what Kai would've thought of himself. Now he's fixing the dark elf with that blue-eyed stare, his lower lip trembling. "Water for my friend?" he asks so softly.

«Because he's mine. My friend.» In whatever language, it's hard to think in terms of human words, not impressions. Ironic that the implanted language is what bubbles up first….but then, it was inculcated with shock and pain, and lightning loosens tongues, even lupine ones. The English lessons in the New York Public School system were nothing so brutal. «I….» What can he offer? He's the master of bad deals of late, oathed to Odin, Askari to the Prince of the Powers of the Air, and now this. «You can take from either of us. But you can have me willing, if you won't hurt him.» As if he were in any condition to bargain. But he's standing again, slowly, heaving himself up to all four feet, and shaking that heavy coat into something like order.

"Yours? Oh no, wolf, he most definitely is not." The elf in question leans against the metal post, out of easy snapping range. A good thing; the speed with which those kinds are capable of moving is formidable. "But I will take you in return for not hurting him. The bargain is made and witnessed, sworn by the Winter King. Break it at your peril." A quick grin passes and that side of things is done.

Now, if only it would actually apply to everyone? But maybe Bucky will realize that later. Maybe.

Another gesture and that implies water poured into a dish, for there's no alternative for a snout in a cup. Yegods. At least let the lupine dignity stand.

Ember watches. The skein ripples and moves of its own accord, all those tiny fangs settled in, bites comfortably made.

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