Before letting go of each other, the two brothers sustained a glance of rage, resembling two wolves ready to tear one another apart.
But finally, Odin's orders prevailed and without a choice they started to head towards the throne room.
Tyra came closer to Thor to make sure he wasn't injured and placed a hand on his shoulder, but the heir of the throne pulled away as if he was suddenly in contact with a snake :
'We're through! You took your side, Tyra, and for a long time now.'
He stared at his wife, dead in the eye, and concluded bitterly:
'Know that we're free of each other. No alliance is worth a marriage like ours.'
The Vanir pulled back at the unexpected and rash words, but when she answered there was unconcealed relief in her voice:
'Very well.' Turning on her heels, she left in the opposite direction.
Not far, Loki was able to catch every word. His heart was beating fast, the moment he so eagerly longed for was finally there.
He knew what such a statement meant by the laws of Asgard: Tyra and Thor were divorced!
Repressing a smile of wild joy, he promptly followed Thor. As they entered the throne room and took their places, he did his best to appear sober in the presence of the Allfather.
A small group of Giants was reunited at the steps under the throne. Their attitude was defeated, but proud nonetheless.
As Odin appeared, the Jotuns refused to lower their heads before him. Loki remarked that Odin wasn't affected by it, but Thor seemed insulted.
Though still drunk, the Trickster considered that Thor's anger would make his brother do the exact opposite of whatever he said to him. Leaning behind Thor's shoulder, the Prince whispered:
'Keep it to yourself brother.'
Charging at the Jotuns with Mjolnir, Thor split Laufey's skull.
Meanwhile, one of the giants took a suicidal leap towards the throne, trying to kill Odin with one of their ice daggers, but was pulverized by the might of Gungnir.
Loki dodged one giant, as another one viciously stabbed him on the shoulder. In response, he flashed his dagger, and their headless bodies rolled down on the throne steps.
Under the entire extent of the palace, lied the Catacombs. The final resting place of the first generations of Asgard was a dark pit made of stone.
A hooded figure materialized, quietly walking between the graves. It stopped in front of a statue: A tall skeleton, hideous and covered in warfare attire.
Stretching one hand forward, the concealed figure touched the skull carved in the stone.
At this the terrifying sculpture came to life, turning on itself and moved out of the way, revealing a narrow path of descending stones.
It wasn't without reason that the Catacombs were chosen by Loki and Tyra as a safe spot for their activities.
Whenever these two were up for something questionable, they'd sneak into the darkness of the undergrounds, now protected by spells that blocked Heimdall's indiscretions.
The Vanir seemed preoccupied as she hastily pulled her hood down and went down the stoned stairs.
The altercation between Thor and Loki, and the recurring nightmares made her increasingly fearful of the future.
She reached a small room with shelves full of pilled books and strange items on it. It also had a strange pyre at the center.
'Linked realities.' She read. 'If one reality is split by the occurrence of unusual events, these realities can and will influence each other, by the principle of convergence.
What was once deemed as coincidence, is nothing other than the driving force of such realities trying to reconnect.
' She closed the notes with a long sigh, and waved one hand in the direction of the pyre.
Immediately, it lit itself by magic, blazing runic characters started to condense, turning in reverse and disappearing into the fire.
Fantastically, a vision started to parade itself amid the flames:
--Asgard was under attack. Spaceships blazed their weapons over the city, making casualties everywhere.
Like a camera moving at extreme speed, the vision took her through the corridors of the destroyed palace, passing by the collapsed walls, the dead bodies and the debris lying there,
half covered by stones. It came to an abrupt stop at the throne room, where a man dragged himself on the floor. His wounds made one wonder how it was possible that he was still alive.
'Thor!' Tyra recognized the heir of the throne's face, under a layer of blood.
Another man appeared, his war helmet was decorated by two horns. He leapt forward, brandishing a dagger towards Thor.
Just as the weapon swung above his blond locks the vision retreated with vertiginous speed to the opposite side of the room. A small group of men came in, the only remaining soldiers of Odin.
They arrived just in time to see Loki moving away from his brother and leaping inside an approaching spaceship. --
Tyra covered her mouth in horror, and her gesture was seconded exactly by one of the soldiers. In the man with hazel eyes and dark skin, she recognized herself.
One of his companions tried to drag him outside, without success.
--'Commander Tyr! It's useless, Drengr. We must retreat!'
'This is all my fault...! How could I love a traitor, assassin of his own blood?' --
Tyra wanted to leave, but her eyes remained stuck in the flames as the vision moved around once more:
As the spaceship flew over the palace, Loki contemplated the view of his doomed homeland.
His expression was blank, impossible to read; but nothing in it seemed to suggest triumph or even mild satisfaction.
-- 'What of the castle?'
'Burn it.' He replied without hesitation, and with that, incandescent balls of fire started to rain over the palace.
In a blink of an eye flames engulfed the building. However, in bird view, something made The God of Mischief freeze, partially covered by smoke:
Tyr, the faithful commander of Odin's army, stood by the decapitated remains of Thor. He placed an axe in his king's hands, then desperately tried to make his way out through the fire.
As if struck by lightning, Loki took notice of him. His eyes, going back and forth from that scene to the flames that surrounded the castle, gave away a tremendous inner conflict.
Seconds later he took a risky jump from the back of the spaceship, sliding through a column and landing between all the chaos and smoke. --
'Enough!' Tyra faintly said and the flames ceased abruptly. The vision was gone, but the Vanir still breathed heavily, watching the ashes on the pyre.
She didn't have most of the answers, but something was off. Terribly off.
-- The next day --
After a night of heavy sleeping, Loki woke up to a hangover. His mind was amnesiac, thinking was hard. He pulled himself out of bed and washed his face in the jar and basin placed near it.
He pondered that now, more than anything, it was essential to be around his best friend, to console her and offer his support.
Ideally, Thor would fall from grace and if his father chose him for the throne... If he was finally recognized, then he definitely would feel worthy of asking her to be with him.
It was with surprise that he heard a knock on the door, and a guard entered.
His father wanted to see him, alone.
Rather worried, Loki followed the warrior, with a comic expression of anxiety painted on his face.
On his way to the throne room, the Prince mentally played out his most recent shenanigans, wondering exactly which one of his infamies could have come to light?
Odin seemed worried rather than angry, so Loki sighed with relief. To his further surprise, the Allfather asked for the Sorcerer to kneel before him.
For a moment Loki thought that the big moment was there, deluded.
Stunned by the idea of finally having his father's approval, he promptly kneeled down, moved.
'Father! My father!' The Trickster thought, unable to believe it. 'You're making me King of Asgard, instead of Thor! I knew it! Forgive me for ever doubting you love me.
Yes, I will bring honor to this realm. I will make you proud of me, father, I swear!
Odin waved Gungnir, and a crown made of blue crystals (resembling icicles) materialized in his hand. It was placed over Loki's head before he had the time to react.
The Alfather said loudly:
'The true heir of the Jotnar bloodline, Loki Odinson, by birthright you are now declared King of the realm of Jotunheim.'
The Trickster's heart dropped from a high place to a bottomless abyss of self loath and hopelessness.
To be given the throne of Jotunheim, was, in his eyes, the equivalent to be given the definitive proof of his inferiority; his unworthiness as a son and as a being.
Sick to his stomach, Loki just stood there, covered in sweat, unable to do anything else than breathe.
And never before, the woman he loved seemed so completely out of reach.
The rest of the day went by as if it was a bad dream.
Loki barely recalled gathering his servants, seeing his mother.
And Tyra, where was she? Did she know already? Was this the reason why she didn't come to see him?
Loki never needed her so much as in that hour of exile and humiliation, yet he was relieved that she wasn't there to witness his worst defeat.
He was to leave immediately, to secure the loyalty of the realm.
His depart from the castle was awkwardly underwhelming. It was a cruel joke, even if compared to Thor's measliest triumph.
No one followed the Sorcerer to the gates of the Bifrost. When he found himself in the presence of Heimdall only, Loki turned his head towards the palace one last time before.
It was like he was orphaned, that his homeland and everyone in it were chasing him away, and that in turn, he was to banish them from his heart as well.
Any feelings of love towards his adopted family and that kingdom seemed to fade under the weight of an enormous hatred, and the certitude that a debt had to be called.
'Oh, but this is not the end of it. Take heed, cursed realm. Mighty Asgard, you will one day lower your miserable head before me, be in respect, be in death.'