1964-06-04 - Act V: Loki Bound
Summary: In which Loki discovers the surest way to rescue his lost love is by descending to the depths of Svartalfheim. Where else would you find Malekith?
Related: Loki Bound
Theme Song: None
rogue malekith loki 

Svartalfheim, the realm of the dark elves, lives by an entirely different code than Asgard. In some respects, it deserves a brutal, grudging respect from a nation-state of warriors. The svartalfjar live and thrive by their wits and cunning, approaching life with an exceptional pragmatism honing away all weakness. Any to gaze upon their wares, especially the architecture, can perceive plainly the extraordinary gifts imbued in their slant creative minds. Yet, a realm that favours heroism and dignity so well cannot truck with the overreaching ambitions and harsh methods so favoured here. Hardship breeds contempt, and no spider priestess caste imagined in a fever dream roleplaying game ever matches the cruel existence carved out in twilit splendours. The average svartalf would as soon sell his own mother, swallow the profits, and enact some even terrible profanity on the house of his birth if it stood to accelerate his climb up the greatest meritocracy of them all. It's just one step from Svartalf bloodthirstiness to ruling Muspelheim, and for good reason the Muspell giants under Surtur keep a very far distance from the myriad feuding, murderous, glorious houses of the dark elves.

Place this lifelong experience against crash-loanding through the realms where the Bifrost does not touch. Loki has to winnow his way through space and turn in old favours to gate through these doors, and the easiest way is reaching the market of Nithavallom. One of the few places regularly visited by outsiders, Nithavallom is one part free-port and one part hellhole. Literally. It sits in the basin of some ancient impact crater, shrouded by a forest on three sides and forbidding mountains rising sharp as needles into the air. Troll mercenaries as likely to turn for a coin as show dogged loyalty patrol a place of thin spires and glittering ramparts, narrow tents marking the ghettos below as, above, the higher status dark elves and their dwarven brethren keep private courts of coin and privilege.

The old joke all roads lead to Rome? Apply it freely here, for Loki's jumps on the wild, dangerous route to Malekith's keeping bring him thus. It's unavoidable. Jump a road, take a gate and a new turn? Nithavallom, the Dark Field, waits for him. It's almost intentionally baiting him.

The disguised Loki enters that great hub of activity, his eyes keen to illusions that might be playing about the place…he finds himself pulled here and there, distracted by items he'd love to own, before he remembers that he has no currency that he can barter with here. Not yet, anyway. He keeps his wits very much about him, so he looks like a pretty suspicious dark elf, looking this way and that.

Trolls, great burly ones in a patchwork of armour, carry vicious spears and patchwork bladed horrors probably of their own designs. Their answers to most infractions that parties do not immediate settle involve wading up and stabbing, bashing, and smashing with few questions. Patrons on the lower level of the Dark Field tend to be the refuse of society. Hardened eyes and foul tempers abound. Thin flyover spans reach higher above the kennels full of yelping, baying hounds bred for the nastiest temperament possible and alleys harbouring questionable behaviour. Just another dark elf in disguise going by is enough to earn Loki an appraisal from near everyone he meets. Bumped as he goes, he best watch his purse. Cutthroat ruffians are happy to relieve him of his boots just because they look well. Still, the abundance of taverns hawking brews of all sorts speaks to an entertainment district. The thin needle spires grow thickest to the heart of the crater rim facing the mountains at the north quarter, and one natural formation shaped into a wild, ebonheart pinnacle out of a Gothic fantasy stands apart to the east.

Or he can just try to plow his way through the place. He'll soon discover the confusing lack of a meaningful layout seems to stymie his progress. Nithavallom obeys rules of purpose, not sense.

Loki is trying to touch as few souls as he can, around here, to pass less noticed, like a ghost, rather than to make a big deal over his presence by asking a lot of questions. He tries to find any other dark elf, around.

|ROLL| Rogue +rolls 1d20 for: 4

There's many an elf to be had. The disreputable ones, at least to the Trickster, are all too happy to slink up and offer those soulless gazes through their masks of varied quality. Avoiding one of those means ascending one of the staircases. A figure of long ears and grey-washed hair trending to a pale, milky blue is ascending when the disguised Asgardian seeks it out. Him, for the sake of argument; it's not like they differentiate sexes much on the ground level. "The Eye watches. What do you want?"

"I am lost on a mission. I need to find my way back to Malekith." The disguised Loki rumbles out in the dark elf words. His silvertongue can form them well enough as long as he sticks to the base of the language and doesn't try to get too fancy.

The casual use of the name catches the dark elf by surprise. He doesn't stumble on the step, but his back straightens and he casts a much sharper look on the anonymous svartalf under illusion. It might be incredibly uncomfortable to endure that flat matte stare piercing the white oval mask bisected by a neutral set permanently impressed on those lips. "Who has dealings with the Winter King?" he rasps out, hackles up. Proverbially. A black cloak does wonders. "I don't consort with that breed of… person." The hesitation is telling. Must curb one's tongue after all.

"I do not care about you, or anyone else here. It is not your business to ask about the Winter King, so hold your tongue except to tell me wherehe can be found." Loki tries the threatening tactice, first…before the begging one has to be played.

|ROLL| Loki +rolls 1d20 for: 8

Malekith is not someone commonly spoken of, not by the light of the moon or the foetid darkness announcing a dull daylit hour. The random pedestrian assaulted by those questions clutches hold of a spiked rail leading up, and he grits his teeth behind the mask. "Why not just shout it from the walkways and paint it on the walls? You'll bring down the Queen's guard!" He retreats another step. "I have nothing to do with him. Not his business. You want the Accursed, ask a bloody sorcerer or a kennelmaster." The shudder runs through his shoulders. Malekith's reputation precedes him. He looks over his shoulder to the cluster of tight spires, rather than the singular one, and starts up the stairs.

Or care. Kennel master. Loki stays in place as he watches the other dark elf head for the spires. "Now what…?" he murmurs and then props his hands on his hips as he turns to look over the city, again, this time with a different mindset. Looking for the lowest of the low… The shittiest crappy pieces of garbage there are to be found.


What miserable creatures maintain their sorry existence in the fetid depths of Nithavallom? Those without any other place to turn but the stinking stews full of a dark, foul-smelling muck that drips down from the higher levels. The water table mixing in the crater probably has something to do with the sludge accrued in sucking drifts that sticks to the boots, the muck that clings to the throat and palate and soul. Shit happens and gathers and dies beneath the charmed notice of the svartalfjar above: the sorcerers and merchants and nobles and madmen and traitors and soldiers.
Down here, one's changing their life and their fate. The kennels contain animals prized more than their handlers, and a good many of the mare fed on living souls not worth the prize. Bloodthirsty beasts. Monsters. The only places clean on the bottom, as the dogs live in the middle over squalid hostels for the wretched. Signs painted in various symbols show different companies, different houses favouring this, that, or the other property. It's up to Loki to which interests him.

Loki draws in a deep breath. Malekith caused this problem, so, Malekith can deal with it. He heads towards one of the hostels and walks right in, ignoring guards or other guests, until he is standing in the middle of the wretched pile of beings. "People of Nithavallom, I demand your attention. I… Am Loki." Here he dramatically whisks his hand down his dark elf form and reveals himself in the illusion of full armor, horns and all, glinting and shining in this shit hole. "Of Asgard, Prince of the Nine Realms. Hero of the Hanor War. Sorcerer, taught by the All Mother's creation-giving hands. I need information… And he or she or it that can give it to me… Shall be rewarded with passage out of this land, and riches beyond desire."
Loki of Asgard in the middle of a dirt cheap hostel in the midst of the Dark Field gets a reaction of… mostly several dropped glasses of mushroom-derived ale, tankards and plates and sawing on some half-dead fiddle ceasing, and people turning about on their rickety stools or dark crèches full of spite and despair. An Asgardian royal showing up in the middle of their cratered dung heap is about as likely as Odin tupping the Queen of the dark elves and replacing Frigga with her.
A knife comes flying through the air at him and hits the wall. Wide, but not inaccurate. Grumbling follows.

"Who the Borson's teats is he pretending to be?"

"Loki Kinslayer."

"Loki Kinlayer?"

"Eh, he'd be taller if he were."

The wench slinking by doesn't care, pressing herself up as close as she dares. Life hasn't been kind to the elf; the grey hue of her skin doesn't hide the mottled bruises. "I'll be happy to meet your desires," she says, honeyed charm with vinegared bright-harsh eyes. "What's on offer, o Prince of Princes?"
Fine. If he's toting a dark elf lass with him, that's fine by him. "I seek the home of the Accursed… For I have business with him." He makes that sound threatening, rather than in cahoots. He doesn't let her get touchy, though.. "Do you know the way, beautiful?"


"You want Malekith the Accursed?" A lifetime hearing insane requests for drinks or things to do with herself, some impossible, freezes the smile on those features. Her blink doesn't even waver. Say whatever one will about the dark elven barmaid, she has gumption and a spine. "The Master of Hounds doesn't keep a place here. As if he'd bother with us. Too likely to snap our necks for our chores," she says, showing teeth in a smirks smile. "His agents — the Black Bile Clan — haven't been through in a moon. But if it's business, well, that means you want the Towers of Joy. The only place he'd be seen around here, for sure."
Loki makes a motion with his hand, a regal gesture, honouring her as she has likely never felt, excepting in mockery." Can you show me the way to the Towers of Joy? I can excuse you, your work here."

"You promised to take me out of this land and give riches beyond desire," the waitress points out. Wrenching in a hostel is not the height of glamour anywhere, and definitely not in Nithavallom. "Swear it by your name and whatever you hold sacred. Your magic, then, and I'll see it done and eliver you myself. As far as they let me anyways."

Her chin dips. There is suspicion in Rhialt's eyes, but then life has treated her hard. Is the gesture mocking her? Who cares if the gold is good.
"I will. I shall. I can send you away the moment we get there, if you like, but you will have to wait for the riches until I return to the realm," Loki bargains.. "I so swear."
"Blood and misery if you break your pact, and curse of darkness fall on you thrice if you lie." Loki the Trickster is trusted or not. Rhialt, the elf, drops her tray on a table littered in dirty glasses and walks for the door. It's honestly not hard to follow her from the stews on up, though the trolls are about to give her a hard time until they spot him. Horned golden helmet in likeness of Odin's, at least half? The winged helm of Thor, of course, makes up the other half of Odin's helm. All said and done, Loki moseying past gets one to actually drop his spear.

If Loki isn't going to challenge them, the others give him a wide berth. Rumour will be circulating faster than wildfire in a summer forest of his presence. Probably reaches the cluster of thin spires marking the Towers of Joy before Loki and Rhialt do, of course, which explains the revellers inside having the time of their lives and several courtiers on fanciful mystic mounts waiting for him. An honour guard. Or people leaving, and these few giving them cover? They're possibly there to make sure he has an invitation to enter.
It's as if Loki forgot, for a time, what it was like to be a Prince. He basks in the attention, the people parting before him. He offers no one any personal challenge, but there is a challenge over everything he does, and the more he walks in this guise, and drinks it, the more confident he becomes. That he could, with a sly word, simply wrench Kai away and leave Malekith weeping. He oozes it the closer he gets. And when there is a crowd, that's when he twists his hands and summons forth a spear from midair. He grasps it in one hand, ready to battle with it. The spear has a strange color, a pale rose hue of an unusual metal, and imbued with enchantments of durability, sharpness, and a special enchantment that makes his hair wave unnaturally, because it's Amora's spear, so.. Yeah. He'll just have to live with that. The armor that he actually wears makes him impervious to most charms, and is mixed leather and metal, made for a man, who knows why Amora has it. A suitable protection for the Prince. Of course, everyone else sees the image of a Loki in his typical armor, not the cat ears.
Attention burns after him and the threat by his very presence here, meaning nothing good, is enough to warrant attention. How fast they can pull together a concerted effort to defend themselves will possibly be moot. Unhappy svartalfjar are assured.

Loki's impressive spear does suffer for trying to cause roses to bloom in a dead soil, and mostly he stands in a fragrant puddle of questionably oily, slightly cream residue that ripples in the air and on the ground. The Trickster at least has the advantage of being tall, well-girded, and… Accompanied by the archetypical saucy wench for the darkest slums.

"Listen up, you stupid picks in your fucking stupid attire, the dread and bitter-dark Prince of Asgard wants to ram his prodigious, mighty spear into you and drink copious amounts of wine," Rhialt snaps in a voice that could slice a lesser maid of Vanaheim or Asgard to ribbons. "Go tell old Boney he's claimin' the Tower's of Joy. If he doesn't like that, he can stuff it where the sun shines and screw himself with Heimdall's horn."
The nobility in various stages of glistening undress merely stare.

A door opens to the left under a great oriel window. Clearly the sounds of party emanate from within.

Loki barely looks at his charge, as if he neither endorses or denies the wench's claims that he wants to own this place. He definitely does not. It's such a crappy neighbourhood. Location. Pressing onwards, he enters the party, chin up, but eyes constantly roving for the threats he knows have to be here somewhere. He's also looking about for the signs of anyone from Alfheim. Golden hair. Those curls. He will not let a disguised Kai get past him.
The party within the Tower's of Joy in the heights of Nithavallom is, as all things in Svartalfheim, a dichotomy: beauty and barbarity, passion and violence, all wrapped up in the most glorious of architecture. Shimmering gossamer and blunt marble offers many a fine retreat for the Prince, and all those guests who wish for more private niches to drink, flog their favourites, and dance. Every manner of excess is practically on display, and plenty beyond in the high, soaring chambers of the towers beckon. They are a complex more than a collection of stalagmites poking up from the crater floor, lit by feylights all around.

Revelers are assuredly taken by the man in gold and green and pink, nothing like their own. And for all his searching, Loki isn't going to see a single person with a skin tone fairer than Vanir copper. One of the host who isn't entirely cowed asks, "What are you bothering us with, you and your slut?"

"I seek the accursed, Malekith," Loki answers the man plainly and to the point. The longer he's in this party, the more and more he hopes Malekith is not here, not here with his Kai. That's his stuff! NO TOUCHY!
He must wish a great many things, Loki Odinson. Malekith is not here. Malekith is not here with his beloved beau, Kai. Malekith may be dead. None of these things become possible when the door yawns open and the courtier stiffens. "Take your invitation and get out." He nudges a finger in the direction of the open door to the tower, where a party bubbles away beyond those on the ground floor.

Other partiers are soon enough looking to their cups and their whips and their festive games, among which involves beautiful haunting arias sung by a mezzo-soprano mourning the loss of a beloved companion to the rot and waste of time. Listening to her overly long is a fine way to dissolve into melancholy, her voice aching in the Twilight for a time never to come again. When she and her companion were young and happy.

The wench rubs her hands over her shoulders and probably laments the lack of her fine dress, or being overly dressed compared to half the women in their nets and gems. "That's the way, then?" She scowls at the oriel window.
Loki nods to his makeshift guide and heads towards the door, not letting his staff touch this floor. He's honestly sorry that his boots have to touch this floor. He's well aware of what bringing the lady along means, though, and he waits until he has crossed that threshold and glimpsed what is beyond, stopping with her, getting a lay of the land, so to speak.
That threshold is a seventy-five step high staircase. Anywhere important around Nithavallom is up. Nothing for the pair of them in their boots and ill-fitting slippers to worry about! Rhialt could complain but she trudgs along, her legs burning, mood the fouled for every passing moment. Neither is the treacherously narrow stairwell empty, not at all. Courtiers go up and down, some leading untamed monsters on leashes - sabertoothed lions, forest haunts, ephemeral shades meant to suck out hope. They growl and hiss at Loki. Others are sprawled out, heads together, a series of laughs following whatever stories they share over their cups.

A series of doors at different floors open onto the same wild frivolity. Revelers celebrate in splendour. It is impressive since so many of the elves in their unearthly beauty are caught up in the dancing and mingling as they float thanks to enchantments. All are masked, and their clothing matches those masks, even if it's symbolic and hard to tell. Girls entangled in chains strung from the ceiling twirl and spin, though whether this is torture or art is up to the eye of the beholder. Drinks are poured in large quantities, and music of fine quality fills the air. It's all a bit madcap.

Then there's the two-toned Accursed himself, lounging on a chair, a cup of something in his hand. He tosses it over his shoulder. He looks patently bored, delighted, and irritated as Loki steps inside. "The man of the moment! The hour is late, and I was starting to think you'd not come. You did…" He narrows his eyes on the vestments and makes a sound. "Be thou not attired in your own staff and not that of the simpering green Pimpernel Incantara? Man, the scent will make the hounds sick. Put that spear away, none want to see it. Drinks, yon vicars of luxury!"

He calls to the servants. They stand to immediate attention, barely visible, ephemeral ghosts around the room. The entire place screams with enchantments, illusions, and magic for the displays of power and fun. "Ah, so true we're the statements. Loki Odinson is returned to us!"
Loki walks forwards a pace as Malekith mocks him, putting a few steps distance between himself and the raggedy servant that brought him here. Dark elf servant. A promise is a promise. Loki… He has been very good since his rebirth, but that doesn't mean he likes the dark elves any more than he'd love a Rat. The point of the spear moves towards the ground, spinning it in an effortless display. Then, stepping backwards once, he rams it also backwards, to skewer his 'help' through the chest, while his eyes never leave the Accursed. A promise is a promise, and Hela will welcome her. He yanks the bloodied spear back and straightens. "Apologies for the mess. You did say not to bring anyone."


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