A Plan for Asgard's Future

Recorded: February 17, 2014
Characters: Balder, Beta Ray Bill, Frigga, Loki, Thor
Location: Grand Throne Room of the All-Father
Summary: Thor voices his concern for his own dependence on Mjolnir.

Frigga is already seated on the throne when her sons arrive, with her chin resting delicately on the knuckles of one hand. The cask is nowhere to be seen and will not be found in the armory if searched for later. "Our realm owes you a great debt, my sons. Were Fafnir to succeed in opening his portal, he would have laid waste to all that we hold dear. I am pleased that you were able to work together to remove the well's waters from his reach."

Thor is the first to enter and immediately moves to his side, bowing politely in the face of showered praise. "This day has seen the end of an immediate threat but, I fear, that evil will linger. We did not slay Fafnir." Thor admits, rising to his feet and tugging Mjolnir from his belt. "This crisis has plagued me with troubling revelations."

"Thank you, mother." Loki says, bowing his head. He shifted into his mid-level armor on the way there, which could be considered cheating. "I do not know much about Fafnir's physical form, but I know we have taken a portion of his power away from him by destroying his well. Looking into it was…not wise, but I did not drink any of it. It attempted to make me feel tempted…very tempted. What is our next task?"

Frigga leans back in her seat and waves her hand casually. "The well already saw to what Fafnir is now. His power, though borne of that wicked source, is his until the day he is destroyed. I tasked you with the well's removal so that no other being may know its corruption." She glances from Loki to Thor. "And I agree that this is a mere cloth on a wound that requires much more for its healing to begin. But tell me, Thor. What troubles you so?"

Thor nods in agreement with Loki but still maintains a pensive scowl. At Frigga's urging he lifts Mjolnir up to inspect the instrument then tosses it forward. A dull thud echoes the vast chamber.

"Our people have been under siege for weeks. The enemy could not be grappled, struck, or felled by blade or bow. There was nothing we would suspect under an initial glance." Thor begins, snorting away his irritation before he continues. "All I could do was organize our defenses, maintain vigilance, and follow a trail of clues. When an adversary finally stepped forward, I was without the capability to harm it. When I consider every strike exchanged, I have only regret at what I have done. I reflect further back and see that, having become worthy of wielding Mjolnir, I have weakened myself." He says, turning a somber gaze towards Loki. "You thought the criticism of your performance; t'was of my own. This boon has grown a crutch. I will correct this; lest I weaken so drastically I find myself truly unworthy."

"Fafnir is an ancient and difficult being. We have not had the opportunity to study him prior to going to stop him. It was not that you were weak, it is that you were using the same techniques you use on other foes and expecting them to work on him. It will require strategy, but we will find his weaknesses. I was able to momentarily blind him with magic, you hit him on the nose. If we work together and combine our strengths, we can defeat him. But, it requires teamwork."

Frigga studies her elder son's face carefully. "What do you intend to do to reaffirm your worthiness to wield Mjolnir?"

"If I am not carrying what I am capable, a team would do nothing but carry me." Thor replies to Loki, collecting his thoughts while he returns gaze sharpened with stern resolve. "I will lose myself in the distant, dark areas of Midgard. I will know weakness so that I may learn strength." He says, chin raising proudly. "With the crisis resolved, now is the time. I have already formed a defensive strategy to reinforce and ensure our borders remain firmly secure. With your blessing, mother, I would reveal it."

Loki remains silent, furrowing his brow and occasionally looking toward Frigga to hear her response.

The All-Mother's brow lifts in thoughtful curiosity. "You would have me cast you to Midgard as I once did Loki? To know the struggles of the mortal realm as one of their own?"

"This and more." Thor replies, lowering his hard blue eyes to glare a hole through Mjolnir. "I would have Heimdall instructed not to allow my passage through the Bifrost. Should someone feel bold enough to force my retrieval, I would have their attempt fail. The only return I should find is through my own doing. Do I have your blessing?"

Loki frowns. "Midgard is not an easy place to live if you have not spent much time there, brother. It is even more difficult as a mortal. It is winter. You would be susceptible to their illnesses and their projectile weapons. I do not recommend this, Thor. Please reconsider and find another way. The trials of Skornheim are even easier than Midgard."

Frigga closes her eyes and lets off a long sigh. "When I sent Loki to his trial on Midgard, I worried for his fate every hour that he was gone." When her eyes open again, it is to level a hard stare in Thor's direction. "You would condemn your mother to that same fever in your absence?"

Thor gives his head a firm shake and approaches the stairs towards the throne. "I would sooner have you lamenting my safety than I would cowardice." He says, turning to regard Loki with a heavy sigh. "You jest, brother? I would not choose the easier of two paths. Not if it is to improve upon my character. Lend me your ears, though, and I would share the preparations that must be made."

"I do not jest one bit. You do not know what occurs on that world. It is..it…" He sighs. "Thor, please reconsider this decision. There must be another way for you to prove yourself not that I believe you never need to do so. There is no doubt of your worthiness, you simply need to learn to listen more."

Frigga settles deeply into her grandiose chair and once again rests her chin on her knuckles. "Loki voices both our concerns, but I will hear you, Thor." She motions for him to proceed. "Come. Speak your peace."

"I can be more. Much more. I know it in my heart." Thor replies, turning away from the stairs to make eye contact with one of the sentries. "Summon Balder Odinson and have a messenger request the presence of Beta Ray Bill. I would prefer they know as well; I will not involve others where they do not wish to be involved." He orders, removing his helm and carefully setting it on the ground at his side. "One way or another, I will sever my absolute reliance."

Loki looks between the two and frowns. This is sort of what he always wanted, for Thor to bugger off and leave Loki heir to the throne, but not like this. "Thor, use your head!"

Bill walks in, wearing what passes for Asgardian 'casual' wear, a dark red tunic and matching leggings, as he glances around, "You requested to see me, then?" He looks a little uncertain of coming into the throne room, such things being mostly beyond his ken as he bows towards Frigga in her throne, then turning his gaze towards Thor. And doing his best to studiously ignore Loki.

Balder entered the room and stuck close to the wall. He'd heard the news, or at least rumors of it, from loose talk. There wasn't much for him to do at this point, and he knew he wasn't going to convince anyone of anything, so he kept his distance from the whole thing.

Frigga holds up her hand in response to Loki's protest. "You have made your case. Let your brother make his." She lifts her chin to regard the newcomers to the room and pays particular attention to Bill, who she had yet to meet before today.

"The security and safety of our people are close to my heart; I grapple with my demons so I may better learn to serve them. Should any of our enemies learn of my absence I know what threat they would bring to bear upon our dominion." Thor explains, calmly striding forward to gather Mjolnir back from the floor. "Our city must be more vigilant; our champions prepared. Mjolnir has been a shield to the people since the dwarves relinquished the product of their toil. The purpose of the great hammer must remain." He states, turning to regard Bill. "Beta Ray Bill of the Korbinite. Champion of your people, wanderer across an endless sea of stars. Your people remain within Asgard while your ship undergoes preparations to resume your voyage. I ask, then, that you use strength of character and strength of arm to defend both of our charges. I know not what the Allfather has in store for thee; Mjolnir, though, is still mine to use as I see fit. "I request of you this and I pray you consider my words."

Thor returns his attention to Mjolnir, lingering upon the weapon before he finally tosses it to the cyborg. "Of my brothers, I have further tasks."

Loki rubs the bridge of his nose, remaining silent. He drops his hands to his sides and just waits until all of this mess is over so he can get back to his studies.

Bill easily catches the hammer, mystical power crackling around him as he assumes the garb and armor of Thor… or rather an approximation thereof. He then nods, "I shall defend your people as if they were my own, Thor. I shall not question your course, as a journey such as this is one all warriors must face." His grip on Mjolnir is as effortless as the Thunder God himself, lowering the hammer to be held at his side.

Balder walked slowly, but he eventually made his way to the group as they discussed plans and whatnot. Still, he said nothing. His face and body language also said nothing more than what they usually do. Silent and stern.

Frigga's brow makes a subtle movement upward to acknowledge the exchange between Bill and Thor, but beyond that, she waits for the Thunder God's presentation to continue.

"I have been one of the most frequent commanders of the guard to oversee the state; though Balder has oft bore that mantle as well. Though some would label this decision an act of paranoia, there is one not among us who is the finest military command among our kin." Thor explains, turning to carefully gauge Frigga's reaction. "Tyr Odinson still walks these ramparts. I have not broken bread with him since father had announced my appointment. I know his heart is blackened with resentment; but, his skill, honor, and dedication are never in question. Should the throne request his appointment of supreme commander until my return, I would sleep soundly knowing our walls were as adamantine." He lids his eyes as he reviews his rationale. "I cannot be the one to bear the request. Loki. Balder. It falls upon you."

Loki's tone is a little snippier than he would like when he replies, "The great task you place upon us is to have lunch with Tyr? Fine. As you wish, your highness."

Bill glances over at Balder and Loki, then just looks over at Thor with a 'see what you're leaving me with!' look. Or at least, it might be, it's hard to tell with his alien features, as he simply says, "As you wish, Thor. You are a worthy warrior, and I shall support your decision."

Balder cut his eyes at Loki, "If you'd like to cast some magic spells to feign eating, that would be okay. I know how demanding a task it can be."

At the mention of Tyr, Frigga draws in a breath that serves to illustrate the tightening of her chest. The true eldest son of Asgard seems but a wandering shadow these days, but his mother has never forgotten him or all he has been through. "You ask for much to be done in your absence, Thor. If you think yourself so great that so much is needed while you are away, then perhaps this trial on Midgard is for the best." She makes her statement with thoughtful calm, never lifting her chin from her hand.

"What is that supposed to mean, brother?" Loki asks Balder, narrowing his eyes. "Is that a threat? Fine. Shall we print out an invitation on special parchment and seal it with wax lips?" That might make no sense, but it's the kind of crazy that comes from Loki's mind trying to use references to Midgard that he doesn't fully understand.

"It is not only my growth I wish to cultivate." Thor returns to Frigga, sliding a sharp glare to silence the bickering between Loki and Balder. "Odin's sons squabble where they could stand as one. Were we to put our differences aside we would truly be an irresistible force. But only if all of us can act as one." He chides, sighing wearily past his broad chin. He approaches the throne at long last, removing his cloak to fold neatly and place beside the helm. "The final task is to inspire our ranks with boundless ferocity." His voice dips into a low and troubled rumble. "…though this may seem queer. Balder, Loki…I need you to travel to the highlands far north of the walled city after you find Tyr. Within a deep valley lies what the rangers have called the 'Beast of Vengeance.' I have never laid my eyes upon what you will discover, but my scouts have returned tales woven with unusual care. Find this beast and return it to the city. While Heimdall remains ever vigilant upon the bifrost I seek to protect the hallowed gates of our inner sanctum with this feral sentry."

Heavy scale and additional strips of leather are removed and neatly set aside when he musters the courage to look Frigga in the eye. He knows what task he has given and, without question, Thor is certain Frigga does as well. "My mother. My queen. Please give my request and these duties your blessing."

Loki just barely refrains from rolling his eyes. "I've been saying we need to work together all along and nobody ever listens to me! Why are you bothering with Tyr, anyway? He has been skipped in the line of succession which places Balder as the next person in line. If someone kills Balder, I'm sure Tyr would be happy to show up and take his place."

Bill looks over at Loki, "It's not unreasonable to have everything prepared, though I do not know of this Tyr. I have heard of Balder the Brave, though, and am honored to make your acquaintance." With that he lowers his head in a respectful nod towards Balder.

Balder crossed his arms over his chest. "If someone killed me, the throne of Asgard would be the last of anyone's worries." He tilted his head forward a bit, and the shadow from his helmet cast long over his eyes. He acknowledges Bill with words, "And you, Beta Ray Bill. I hear you are quite formidable."

Frigga closes her eyes and stands from her throne. "Thor Odinson, Lord of the Storms. As heir to Asgard's throne, your decree at times would have more weight than my own. After all, I am but the wife of a king, as you have reminded me with mention of your displaced brothers." Her eyes lift to cast their tired gaze on his face. "Were I to have final say on matters of the past, there would be a great deal different between all of my sons—those I acquired through labor, as well as other means… But the past is just that, and we may only move forward by forging new paths instead of treading heavily over the old."

The All-Mother approaches the son of Odin and places her hands on his shoulders, easing him gently to one knee in front of her. Despite the bitter sadness of her recent words, she smiles down at him and frames his jawline with her fingers. "It has been many ages since your height and strength were beneath my own. I will do you the kindness of leaving the fore. Should you make your way home, you will find all that belongs to you waiting, just as you left them." Her statement carries a mystic overtone that is emphasized by a yellow light filling her eyes. She bends forward to kiss the Thunder God on the forehead—As the kiss lingers, he would find his strength waning, and his body overcome with a desire to sleep.

A struggle is evident as Thor's face contorts with signs of irritation and drowsiness. When Frigga backs away he struggles to rise to his feet. It looks difficult for him because it is. The exceptionally minute strain his muscles performed before to move now yield no results and, for now, he is struggling to discover just how much strength is required for action in his weakness. One step is taken, then two. He turns back to address his gratitude and thanks to those gathered behind him but, when the spell finally defeats him, he loses consciousness and tumbles forward, smacking into the ground with a dull crack against the stone floor. He has fallen into a deep slumber, it seems.

"Well don't worry, it won't be me that kills you. Or rather me using Hodor to kill you. I read the books of mythology on Midgard." When Frigga casts her magic on Thor, he instinctively rushes forward to catch him so he doesn't hit the floor. He misses, but drops to his knees anyway. The look he gives Frigga could cut through steel, but he says nothing, just rises to his feet and shapeshifts into his leather armor (the kind he wore in Thor2 and Avengers), his long hair brushing over his chest and back. "I will prepare to find Tyr and the beast we are to retrieve by using the scrying pool. Have you any more need of me, my queen?"

Bill glances over at Frigga, and nods, "And my duty binds me here, as does my word to a warrior that I respect." He then looks at Balder, "I have honed my skills as a champion of my people, and I have had many chances to do so." Well, that and the fact that he carries Mjolnir as effortlessly as Thor himself, so he's got something going for him there.

Frigga wafts a hand in Thor's direction and his body begins to fade from all view. He will re-emerge on Earth, in a very unfamiliar place but with clothes that will help him blend in. A heavy sigh brings the All-Mother back to her regal stance and she levels a hard stare on those that remain. "You have your prince's orders. Carry them out at once." Her robe moves with a flourish as she turns and heads for the throne room's exit.

The God of Light watched the scene unfold before him. He seemed detached and disinterested… Or perhaps he didn't approve of his brother's choice. Either way, he gave a glance to Bill, then turned away from the group so he could walk out. Balder said nothing.

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