Fear is ever-changing and evolving.
”Do you intend to sleep here, Your Highness?”
a deep voice, hoarse and rumbling came from Thor’s left. There had always been something so entirely otherworldly about that voice, as if it came from somewhere else than his chest, as if it somehow encompassed all the many realms Heimdall watched over.
He smiled in response, eyes still closed, starfished on his cape, spread on the Bifrost’s Watchtower floor like a picnic blanket. “Only if you tell me a bedtime story”
To his utter delight, he heard Heimdall snort.
When he were a small boy he used to come here for just that. Now he came here for different reasons entirely. It was the only place safe for him to pace and rage, like those giant cats that some realms kept in cages, until he tired himself out and saw colours other than red before his eyes, under the Watcher’s famously impassive -though the more he grew to know Heimdall, indeed trulyknow him the less impassive he appeared to him- gaze.
The older Thor got the more, it seemed, he fought with his father. Where Odin saw diplomacy, he saw casual cruelty. Alfheimr and Vanaheimr have both greatly suffered from raiders in the recent weeks, something that could have been put to a halt had the All-Father decided on any other gesture than inaction. They owed everything to the other realms, and yet the only freedom it seemed they could afford them was freedom to be massacred.
“He calls himself the Protector of the Nine Realms. I cannot sit idly and do nothing when people we have sworn to defend are dying” Thor spat to Sif earlier, anger and indignation raising in him anew, making his skin itch, his fingertips tingle with electricity. ”We cannot intervene merely when it is convenient for us, offer promises and break them whenever we find the cost too great”. Sif mhmmed at him complacently, not looking up from mending her armour.
“You and the Allfather will see eye to eye soon enough, I’m sure. It’s like you and Loki. You two always come to peace eventually.” she said, stabbing a needle through the thick leather. ”Blood’s thicker than water and all that”
“Shit’s thicker than wine, doesn’t mean I have to drink it”
When he and Loki were little, they often whispered to each other at night- under the blankets, childishly believing that this way Heimdall could not see them-of made-up adventures featuring their parents, and whenever Odin failed to save the damsel in distress or win a duel with a formidable adversary, Heimdall always filled the gap. Later, when he was a bit older and his legs were strong enough to run before anyone could catch him, he used to sneak out of the palace to visit Heimdall at his post, sometimes dragging Loki with him, groggy and complaining the whole way to the bridge, but oft alone; pestering the Guardian for tales of battles and adventures happening galaxies away. Back then, it seemed to Thor that Heimdall had the power to do anything. Perhaps, it was the boy in him that still believed that to be true.
“Can you see anything?” he asked, looking up at Heimdall with wonder.
“I am forbidden from telling you what is happening in Alfheimr” Heimdall replied, voice soft and placating. Thor grimaced. Of course.
“That may be so” he scrambled to his feet gracelessly, like a foal unsure of its feet. “But surely you must be able to tell me what goes on in other realms?” he added, trying - and failing- to keep the hope out of his voice.
There was a pause, no more than a heartbeat or two, but to Thor, with Heimdall’s molten-gold eyes fixed on him in careful consideration, it appeared an eternity, the silence stretching and making him itch under the clandestine scrutiny, too big for his skin. He had energy to burn.
”There are two nations on Midgard about to go to war” the Guardian finally spoke. Now that in itself was no surprise, Earth was still in its infancy, the youngest of all the Nine Realms and by far, the most oblivious to the remaining eight. Humans have warred amongst each other a great deal; for land, for resources and recently, also for their faith. At times for all three. They were mostly left to their own devices, their petty squabbles insignificant on a grander scale unless it threatened the balance to upset the balance of other worlds. Thor knew there must be a reason why Heimdall chose to share this knowledge. He nodded.
”There is one among them but not of them” Heimdall continued. ”One that engineered the whole conflict. Great many lives will be lost. They will be slaughtered”
he said, and had Thor not spent so much time in the Watcher’s presence his voice would have had the illusion of being entirely without inflection.
”Send me”Thor said, too quickly, strapping the long sword to his back, adjusting his vambraces hastily to hide his excited nerves.
”Father is not on Hlidskjalf, you know that” he stood before Heimdall now, bright with hope and anticipation. ”I will not take Mjolnir with me and I will be back before morn”
”Very well” Heimdall finally aquiesced, somehow sounding more a monarch than either Odin or Thor, for that matter, could ever hope to emulate.”You will have but several hours to turn the tide”
”It will be enough”Thor grinned, full of self-assurance. ”How will I know them?”
Urgh. Thor groaned, face first in the snow.
He really really needed to work on his landing. The Bifrost set him down at the outer reaches of the Swedish Highlands, close enough so that he could run through the dark pine forest and reach the armies advancing onto each-other but far enough so that he did not alert them too much of his presence. Not that they would have cared on second thought, distracted already as they were by fire falling from the sky. He assumed that it wasn’t commonplace, given the commotion it caused. Some tried to flee, though few were lucky enough to succeed, bodies turned to ash in moments. Rear lines suffered greatly, it was no accident that the fire had struck there, separating the Northern armies from their supplies. Some still tried to charge. Thor swore, walking through the smoke.
“Fall back! Fall back, you fools!” he bellowed, loud over cries and crackling of fire.
Looking ahead, he finally saw her, shielded from the cold Scandinavian winds by nothing else other than black silk. She looked small and fragile and human enough for Midgardians to be fooled.
He grabbed the hilt of his longsword, pulling it from its sheath on his back in one smooth motion, quicksilver flash of steel.
”It’s hardly fair, don’t you think?” he shouted to her, smirking. ”Should we not let the mortals battle it out for themselves?”