"Even as boys, our father- hmf", Loki started, then corrected himself. "Thor's father, the Allfather, Odin, always told us that a good king does not seek out war but he must always be ready for it. I never understood the subtexts there until I was much older. In many ways, I think I learned the layers of my thought and my speech from him. How Thor managed to evade that, I do not know."
Settling down into a large sturdy chair that looked beyond ancient, Loki picked up the goblet of wine hed been poured. It was one of the lighter, sweeter Vanir wines that he and Frigga had both preferred over ales or mead. He had usually kept some in his quarters, though he'd rarely entertained guests there. Loki's quarters had been his sanctuary, his museum, his laboratory. They were not a feast hall or a brothel. Now, they were gone.
Draping one long, slim leg over the other, calves still clad in black leather, he continued. "The first layer was fairly obvious at first to me: Odin thought himself a good king. Then I ruminated upon that and realized that was merely an illusion, such as my own. Odin wanted to appear as a good king. And in truth, he may have been a good king for quite awhile, depending on your point of view. I suspect Jotunheim never considered him thus, not that anyone cares about the opinions of frost giants."
He gave a soft laugh at his own self-deprecating joke.
"But he wasn't always a good king. Which leads us to the next layer of subtext." Loki's unexpected smile was almost wistful. "I had such a fascination for his words for so long. Every time he spoke, it was like a puzzle to be worked out. I felt he was testing me, teaching me how to be cunning like he was. Teaching me how to rule. Whether or not that was ever true, I will never know now." He shrugged and sipped the wine. "Nor does it particularly matter. Whether Odin intended for me to learn his teachings or not, I did."
With lazy bobs of his foot, Loki's gaze wandered around the room taking in the details again, as if illustrating the process his mind took with Odin's words.
"I went to every Council meeting I could sneak into when I was young. Later, when I was allowed to attend, I rarely missed one unless something more pressing demanded my attention. I was not apathetic in my studies. I wanted to be a good king. Better than Thor, who rarely attended anything that didnt involve fighting or drinking." A trace of bitterness seeped into Loki's tone, though those days were long ago.
"Odin's wisdom on what made a good king remained with me always. I remember so clearly the moment when the true message was revealed to me. I felt like it physically hit me, it was so powerful. The truth of Odin's statement wasn't about avoidance or peace or readiness, it was about inevitability."
"He was saying that war is inevitable." Loki sat forward, knees spread wide and his elbows planted on his thighs, eyes intent.
"Once I understood that basic tenet, it all made sense. War was a culture. It was an economy. It permeated everything we were. It was not only inevitable, it was inescapable. Just like Odin and his lies, it twined so deeply into the heart of Asgard that it was impossible to remove without destroying the very fabric of what we were. Odin knew the same truth as any master of any craft: when what you have is something others covet, conflict, in some form, is inevitable. Someone will always try to take it from you sooner or later."
Loki sat back once more, fingers tapping at the wide dark wood arm of the chair. "That which is built on blood shall always bleed," he proclaimed, swirling his goblet before taking another sip. "That one's mine, not Odin's."
A shrug. "Sometimes the cost is worth it. Sometimes you can hide the blood. But I knew in my heart from that point on that war was inevitable. It was what he'd been trying to tell me all along. I doubt Thor has figured it out, even to this day. He who used to enjoy war as sport." Loki shook his head. "It is so much more than that."
Closing his eyes, Loki leaned his head back and let out a sigh. "Odin and I were so alike in some ways, I have to wonder if I reminded him of parts of himself he preferred not to be reminded of. Of Hela. Of his conquering and treachery. Of his secrets and lies. I emulated so much of him perfectly without even realizing it.
"I must have been a difficult, black mirror to face day after day. Perhaps he did love me, but he shoved that mirror away all the same. I mistook his shame as my own. Maybe that was inevitable, too.
"I cannot say that if our places were reversed, I would have done any differently." It was the closest Loki had come to forgiveness so far. But understanding a thing was a step towards it.
☙ MSL RP Tracker ❧