13.0 Fire In Ice

Calypso was aghast when she saw Loki’s condition. She insisted on taking him back to her caverns, where she immediately assumed the most scientific attitude. She brought Thor, carrying Loki, down to a deep dungeon of the caverns where there was a small icy underground pool. Thor placed Loki into the pool at Calypso’s direction, and then she got to work. Her servants brought basins of water, salts, vials of oils, and cloths for her use. Thor and Sif stood nearby, arms crossed and watching intently as she worked.

“Thor,” Calypso ordered, “I need you to hold down his arms.”

Motioning to Sif, she said, “Sit on his legs.”

Then she wrapped a cloth tightly about her hand, knelt in the water beside Loki, and grasped the end of the crossbow bolt protruding from Loki’s chest. With a cry from both Calypso and Loki, using all her strength, she wrested the dart from his chest. The bolt went flying across the cavern, clattering and sizzling across the polished stone floor where it lay in a corner, the tip glowing and smoking.

The group stared at it in wonder for a moment, and then Calypso unwound the cloth from her hand. The cloth had scorch marks where it had touched the bolt.

“What sort of poison was used on this arrow?” Calypso asked in amazement.

“Dragon’s venom,” Thor replied.

“ ‘Dragon’s venom’ ?” Calypso repeated, confused.

“Yeah, dragons,” Thor replied. “You know – those huge, scaly lizards that breathe fire? Verily, you do still have those? ”

Calypso raised her eyebrows. “Dragons have long been extinct in this world.”

“Indeed!” said Thor in amazement. “They were here when we first arrived, when my father, Odin, the All-Father of Asgard, defeated the Jotens.”

Calypso looked at Thor in disgust, but decided to let it pass. Now was not the time to argue with a son about his father’s legacy.

Instead, she got to work pouring oil into the wound and then submerging Loki in the icy water to his neck, where he began to turn blue.

“The danger,” Calypso said, “is that this Joten’s fever will rise too high and kill him. As long as he is blue, he has a chance. We are fortunate that the archer was ignorant of Joten anatomy. A Joten’s heart is on the opposite side – if the arrow had pierced his heart, he would have died instantly.”

Even as she spoke, Loki’s twitching and moaning began to subside into labored breathing. Occasionally, when the pain became intense, he would cry out and his eyes would fly open. But he was delirious and incoherent, and his eyes saw things that the others did not.

“How is it that you are so knowledgeable about Jotens?” Thor asked. But Calypso made no reply. She just kept pouring water over Loki’s forehead from a seashell and humming softly.

As the three kept watch, all at once lovely music began to play. Thor startled and snatched his cell phone from inside his shirt.

“Jane! Yes, I am alright! Where are you?”

There was a pause.

“Very good. No. I am with Queen Calypso, tending to Loki.” There was another pause. “Yes! He is alive! I have a great many things tell you, Jane! But not now.” Another pause. “I wish I could, Darling. But at this very moment, Asgard has no ruler and I fear it shall fall from within to bickering and fighting among the clans over Gracholm’s treason. Asgard will implode, as will Earth in a more literal sense, if Gracholm is not stopped. Jane,” Thor’s voice became quieter, “I am afraid I have no choice. I must fight. I must lead our people – yours and mine – against this bloody pirate.”

There was another pause, and then Thor said, “I will, Jane. Stay with Fury. And tell them that a direct attack on the magma mines would cause catastrophic destruction.”

The signal broke at that moment, and Thor was left staring at the screen thoughtfully. He looked up at his brother where he lay in the water in his feverish state. For a long while he stood there, deep in thought, at the edge of the pool.

“Brother, you were always the one for strategy,” Thor said quietly to his brother’s unresponsive form. “Your brains – my brawn. I longed for this moment, thirsted to lead. And yet, now, I fear I am woefully inadequate! Was this part of your plan? I can’t do this without you!” The anguish in Thor’s face mirrored Loki’s.

After a few more minutes of thought, Thor raised his eyes and turned to Sif. “We must return to the others.” She nodded regretfully.

She bent over Loki and gently kissed his forehead. In a whisper, she said, “Loki, you mad fool. I love you. I am sorry that I ever doubted you. Please don’t leave me yet!” A tear fell and splashed on his forehead.

 

As soon as the echo of Thor and Sif’s footfalls died away in the empty chambers of the cavern, Loki opened his eyes and said in a weak, hoarse voice, “Water!”

Calypso obliged, putting a goblet to Loki’s lips. He lay panting for a moment before opening his eyes again. This time, when he looked at Calypso, his eyes were clear.

“I tried, my lady,” he croaked, gazing at her wearily. “But I failed. Father, forgive me!” he wailed, and the echo was chilling.

Loki’s thoughts strayed to his last encounter with Odin.

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