2020-01-18 - What a Tangled Skein You Weave


Loki and Sigyn help Steve further clear up the mystery that is being an unexpected Einherjar.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Sat Jan 18 23:53:05 2020
Location: Cover Story - Living Area

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Theme Song



Steve would never be one to complain aloud (outside of his apartment and in the presence of Barnes) about the snow, but he does give the moisture-laden clouds above a gimlet glare. The wind cuts past him and brings a flurried burst of snow against his face as if to make some point. He mutters something rude in Gaelic before he reaches for the door to Cover Story.

The bell rings to announce him and he pauses inside the cozy warmth to stomp snow from his combat boots. Now his hands emerge from his winter coat, a number in leather with shearling lapels and lining (it could evince WWII's bomber jackets). A swipe of his palm removes any lingering flakes from his blond hair and then he wanders further into the book store. It smells not only of the usual pristine bindings and paper, well-treated wood and close air, but of cooking as well from upstairs. Steve does glance up in mild wonderment — whatever's in the works has his stomach doing a quiet and appreciative grumble.

"Loki?" His voice travels well but not too loudly in the quiet of the store as he pauses by the front desk, sporting a small frown.

The Liesmith, the Lord of Mischief, the God of Fire…so many titles, regardless, Loki Laufeyson emerges from the back room. Dressed today in an evergreen hued suit and an amber shirt, he offers Steve a welcoming nod and half-smile. "Well, hello, Captain Rogers." He moves towards the former leader of the Howling Commandoes, now SHIELD agent and Avenger. "Be welcome in my home." He looks past the First Avenger, then all around, and sighs with drama. "I see you once again have come calling without your delectable husband in tow, a pity."

Loki's mostly teasing, at least the dramatic searching was, who knows about the rest?

"So, Captain, is this a social call or is there something I can help you with?" A smirk. "I have a copy of the Kama Sutra in /excellent/ condition…"

Brat much? Why yes, yes he does!

Glancing up from wondering whyfor the collection of fountain pens beneath the glass of the front desk, Steve offers the Mage of Asgard a polite, reserved smile.

"Hello, Prince Loki." He takes a few steps towards the gentleman in his svelte suit to meet him, stopping a respectful if still mildly chary distance. A nod in reply to the formal welcoming to the abode is followed by a mirrored glancing behind him and quiet confusion — at least until Loki continues on in his usual mercurial vein.

Irish skin betrays Steve at the tips of his ears firstly if barely upon his cheeks. His aplomb remains for the moment as he explains why he's present: "I'll be sure to mention that copy to Barnes. He's got business to attend to today, same with me." A short sigh. "I'll be straight to the point. That Valkyrie, Lady Astryd — when I was in here to retrieve Agent May, something happened. Dunno what, but you saw it at the feast with the rest of the Asgardians. Somehow, all she's gotta do is summon me 'nd I show up. 'm not a fan of it."

Steve's voice has gone steely now. "You know magic very well. Anything you can tell me about this? What happened? I want to be able to take a shower without wondering if 'm gonna show up on some battlefield God only knows where with soap in my eyes."

"Come, Captain Rogers, let us repair upstairs to discuss this with food, with drink, and in more comfortable surroundings." Loki gestures and the shop basically closes itself - lights dim, the door closes and locks, the shades all draw themselves and the sign in the front turns over to 'Closed', the 'Open' now visible to the inside of the shop.

Hands clasping in the small of his back, Loki is thoughtful as he leads the way intot the back, and then up the wrought iron stairs to the second floor where the living quarters are. A cheery. "Honey, I'm home, and I bring a guest." Of course he was home before too, but really, a Jack Nicholson impression is always fun!

Once upstairs, Loki himself offers to take Steve's jacket and hang it up on the coat tree just past the threshold. "Please, won't you sit and join us for food and drink as we discuss this?"

Yup, Loki can be a congenial host. He's actually fairly fond of the Captain, not /just/ for his taste in men, either.

Sigyn is busy in the kitchen, which despite all the cooking is still somehow neat as a pin. She enjoys cooking by hand, cleaning… that she uses magic on. Sigyn smiles warmly over at Loki and his guest. "Steven, so good to see you again! Or is this official Captain Rogers business?" Her eyes twinkle impishly. "I should warn you, Captain Rogers gets coffee and two day old cookies. Steven gets oxtail stew, brown bread, and a piece of the apple cake I baked this morning."

Looking about as the shop responds to its master's inclinations, the Captain then shoves his hands in his pockets. "Sure," he agrees curtly, still polite by tone. One last look at the sign settling to stillness against the glass pane of the door and then he follows Loki up the decorative stairs to the living quarters above the books in their safe nooks and shelvings.

After entering the abode, the broad-shouldered man does shrug out of his jacket after a moment's pause — "Oh, thanks." Loki is welcome to take it. Beneath it, Steve is in a fitted thermal long-sleeve shirt in a marine-blue with black accents at the shoulders and along the seam running his sides.

Sigyn's particular streak of mischief does earn her a dimpled smirk from the stoic Captain. "Guess 'm Steven today if that's how things'll play out." Finding his way to the table, he seats himself and then sits back in his chair, hands settled above his belt buckle. "'ppreciate your hospitality 'nd your assistance," the Captain is sure to stress with a nod to Loki and Sigyn both. "Wasn't sure where to go. As I was telling Loki downstairs, it's a thing of this…Einherjar business." His pronunciation is accurate enough. True-blues again flick from Loki to Sigyn and back. "Thought they were supposed to come from Valhalla…? Or be chosen by Odin. Last time I checked, heart's still ticking."

Cap's jacket is hung up, and Loki bestows a kiss to Sigyn's cheek as she teases the good Captain. "Steven then." Loki agrees. "Believe me, Steven, my wife's cooking is /always/ worth sampling." A firm nod. "Always." Heck, Loki even removes his own jacket and rolls up his long sleeves as they sit. "Have we any Midgardian mead for our guest, beloved wife?" He asks, certain that if they didn't they soon would. His own drinking horn is no doubt already full.

Once seated he listens to the man's explanation of his question to Sigyn, and then Loki nods. "Well, you were present at the breaking of a very powerful curse. That could have had some effect on you, I could sense also some powerful necromantic-spirit magic on you, indeed, it is still there. There is also lingering traces of the curse of lycanthropy and spirit scarring."

He smiles. "Traditionally the Einherjar are dead, yes, chosen by the Valkyr - literally the 'choosers of the slain' to fight in Valhalla if they died in battle, especially if their death was noble."

Sigyn grins at Loki, "Flattery will get you everywhere, dear." She sets a large pot of stew in the table, adding a third place setting for Steven. Two loaves of homemade brown bread and a pot of thick yellow butter that has never been pressed into a plastic tub or forced into a stick joins it. "Midgardian mead, coffee, or hot apple cider, Steven? Or I can have a pot of tea ready in a bit." She's having hot apple cider herself, but will serve Steven whatever he prefers.

"Magic can be more tricky than any lawyer. For example, the definition of death varies from tradition to tradition… the one we were raised in defines death as no breath and no heart beat for long enough that the body grows cold." Sigyn gives Steven a sympathetic look. "By -that- definition, you were dead for decades after crashing that plane. And you died a hero, sacrificing yourself in battle to save countless innocents. So by that stricture… you are qualified."

Steve's brows meet eloquent of uncertainty. His attention shifts from Loki's calm explanation to Sigyn and lingers.

"Oh, um…coffee, thanks. Need to be sober for this." — given Asgardian mead is one of the very few spirits on Midgard with the ability to have the Captain buzzed and even drunk after a mug of it.

He listens to the thoughts of the magess and very quietly tries not to let his curled fingers on his belt get too tight. Broken belt buckles are not only annoying, but embarrassing to boot.

"Someone's gonna have to explain that necromantic-spirit magic because 've never dealt with anything like that to my knowledge," the man shares solemnly. "Figures…figures the lycanthropy lingered. That got bone-deep, not surprised to hear it touched my soul." Ah, that esoteric collective of energy so malleable and yet unbreakable in the super-soldier; how it bears the scars yet from the moon-bourne curse. His next sigh is from the depths of his being, it seems. "'nd…suppose by that definition, 'm qualified. Spent long enough as an ice cube." Thoughtful, the echo, and yet his brows remain furrowed.

"Why else bother?" Loki quips back to Sigyn's flattery comment with a wink. Settled in his seat, he lets Sigyn serve the meal, that's her thing, she rather enjoys the domestic arts - truly - a LITERAL domestic goddess. "The cider is very good too." Loki suggests, but his guest gets to drink and eat whatever he likes.

"Ah, good points, my wife." Loki looks thoughtful, and then smiles. "Well, if I have you leave to examine more closely, Steven, I'll see what I can see. Truth be told we might never know the whole of this, there's so many things going on that it is probably far more complex a weave than anyone would ever by purpose craft."

Loki nods. "I sense it thickest on your back, and recall a dragon, /that/ is what was the necromantic-spirit magic. Were you not aware?"

Sigyn fixes Steven a cup of coffee, and after handing him the mug and making sure he has cream and sugar to hand sits. She sips her own hot cider, "There's also the fact that the word Einherjar literally means 'he who fights alone'… the modern translation would be more 'one man army'. You qualify by -that- standard as well." She fixes everyone large bowls of stew and thick slices of bread, passing the butter around. Asgardian appetites are on par with super soldier appetites, so at least Steven doesn't have to be shy or suffer through tiny portions!

"Oh, necromantic? I was told it was from Limbo." As if to check that the living tattoo still resides between his shoulderblades, Steve cranes his neck even as he reaches back to rub at his spine through the fabric of his shirt. He can feel the ink stir by thought alone, like blowing air on embers, and wills the dragon quiet yet. "She's Glydril. 'm babysitting her for a time. Dunno how long, but we've reached a consensus."

And doesn't Bucky have some stories about fantastic battles of will around the apartment before this peace was reached.

Sigyn gets a smile almost boyish now. "Thank you, m'am." It's heartfelt from the super-soldier and especially in light of the portions put before him. He slathers two thick pieces liberally with butter before setting the crock on the table beyond his steaming mug of coffee; this is taken black, no cream or sugar.

Steve's spoon stirs the stew once before he lifts a shoulder in a humble shrug. "Never thought I'd qualify for it by any standard…" He gives both mages another lingering glance. "I know it's an honor. 'm not Asgardian. Guess you should gimme that once-over, Loki, see if it's all as tangled as you think."

Loki accepts his bowl of stew and tears the end off one loaf, slathering it thickly with butter as he eats with gusto, and clear appreciation. Eyes bright, he's rather a bit of a brat about that since Sigyn had already cut slices, but, oh well, it will all get eaten in due time, right?

"By anyone's standards you're worthy, Steven." A nod. "And truly, did you think only Asgardians were granted Einherjar status? There have been Midgardians, and others from the Nine Realms who have been so honored in the past. Your situation, though splendidly rare, is not unique in that sense."

He grins then as Cap grants him leave to check things out. "Oh, I'm sure they're far more tangled than I anticipate, likely dangerous, but that's half the fun." A pause. "Actually, I erred, more like three-quarters."

"It's also possible that you might have more than a bit of Norse blood. How do you think that an island originally populated by small, dark people ended up with blondes and redheads?" Sigyn smiles fondly, her eyes a bit distant. "Loki and I have spent several happy decades in Eiru, down through the centuries. We still own land there, though the old house is in ruins… Just as well, it would be a historical trust these days, and we'd have tourists traipsing through every two hours." She sniffs at the image, then gives Steve a smile, "In the middle ages, Ireland was one of the few places I didn't have to worry about aging myself with illusion. If anyone dared mention the fact that the strange nobles whose house no one could find unless they wished it hadn't seemed to age, their neighbors would hush up that talk right quick."

"Didn't consider that I'd be related enough for that to matter," Steve admits with a flicker of a chagrined smile as he dips part of his bread deeply into the stew. Now that he considers it, it is entirely possible that the Rogers bloodline could contain a goodly portion of Norse blood. "Can't imagine going back if the property's got people walking through it all of the time. Bet it was lovely back then, before the cities got bigger 'nd roads took over it all."

Loki still gets a look that, maybe surprisingly enough, contains a good measure of challenging curiosity. The odds sound…eh, maybe not in his favor, but he's apparently sturdy enough to have cheated death per Asgardian standards. By the brief thinning of his lips, Steve finds this thought both consoling and discomfiting all at once.

"Well…sounds like being qualified as an Einherjar isn't something I can set aside easily." Steve sips at his coffee. "Nothing new there. Figure what, get the once-over after we're finished eating, Loki?" That's right: skip dessert in lieu of something magically dangerous — clear Rogers priorities on display.

"Hell, who knows, you might be a descendant." Of Loki's. It COULD have happened - especially if Loki shifted forms before the act - when he shapes he /becomes/ the form he takes. Not like he's been celibate…well…pretty much ever. "I like the Gaelic people, yes. They have good sense, big hearts, and lusty sons and daughters."

A shudder at the thought of people tramping about his HOME. "Fuck that." Loki says with simple sincerity.

He smiles at Steve's fond remembrances. And then a nod. "Right. After dinner, we try to divine the nature of your nature, and how it all is a tangled skein." He actually seems thrilled by the order. "Though…perhaps dessert first, Sigyn /did/ bake a cake." No lie!

Sigyn laughs softly, "Just not dessert during. I'd rather not have the cake ruined when things get interesting." She smiles at Steven. "And I'll be sure to box up some for you to take home to your husband. Save you from any cries of 'And you didn't bring me /anything/?!?'"

Loki might be amused at the quick squint he gets from the super-soldier at possibly being related.

The worst part? Barnes might agree just to tweak Steve's nose, especially in light of the subtle and terrible pranks that Steve can be prone to if he deems it appropriate. The Soldier might also disagree with 'good sense' and claim that Steve doesn't even have the good grace of sense God gave a goose — otherwise, the other parameters would be appropriate.

"Thank you, Miss Sigyn, Buck'll appreciate your generosity. He'd make a fuss if I didn't come home with something to share, 'specially because you all understand correct portion sizes," he jokes lightly, again showcasing a quick boyish grin. His bowl is empty as it stands, his bread finished, and his coffee mug cupped comfortably in his hands. "Wouldn't say no to a slice of cake."

"Stew and bread as well, I think. The Lieutenant needs to keep his furnace stoked too, just like his husband." Loki says with a grin and a gleam to green eyes. Loki too has finished his food, he'll definitely make room for some cake though. Always room for cake. Especially Sigyn's cakes. Doubly so in that case.

And yes, the squint DOES amuse the Trickster, which is good, a bored Loki is a very very bad thing.

Maybe worse.

Once they've had time to savor the cake, Loki will settle back into his seat a few, and then rises. "So…shall we see what a tangled web fate weaved?"

Again, pinking of the ears betrays Steve's response to that gleam. He squints back again at Loki and it's unspoken but clear enough: troublemaker. A plate of apple cake is accepted with great delight and it disappears quickly if politely enough, forkful at a time.

Steve's ready to have this Einherjar nonsense figured out as soon as possible and when his host rises, he does as well. "Sure, let's get this ironed out. It'd be nice if nothing gets more tangled," he opines as he steps away from the table and into a more open space. No use hitting his head on something on the way down if he passes out or something.

Sigyn pours herself a fresh mug of apple cider, and moves to sit where she has a good view of the proceedings. She is content to let Loki take the lead, though she is one of the better sorceresses on Asgard. Most people don't associate her with magic outside the domestic home maker image she's known for, and she is content with that. "My husband and I may have to talk to each other in Asgardian during this, Steven. It's not to keep secrets, it's simply that no Midgardian language has the… technical vocabulary for magic that Asgardian does."

And that gleam? It grows as Steve's unspoken 'Troublemaker' is hurled forth. CLEARLY Loki enjoys having his talent recognized! Considers it much same as a talented performer would applause really.

Loki is more than a bit curious about the threads of fate, hopefully the Norns are not personally interested in Steve, that's not a good thing.

"Mmm, though I tend to spellcast in Jotun when I do." Sheer perversity that, one might argue that it is LESS suited for casting spells even than English would be. Either way, he smiles to his wife, extends a magical 'hand' to her, anchors to this realm via that hand and then extends his sight into another via incantation and strongly focused will. The rites he invokes are ancient, and they take a full hour for him to weave.

"Fascinating…alas, Steven Rogers, I cannot prevent Astryd's summoning of you, or truly any Valkyr who wished to could potentially do so. Astryd's 'touch' is more potent since you know her better, and she was present with you for several magical events of significance. Your blood, your heart, your past, all conspire in a 'perfect storm' to make you Worthy of Einherjar status, the various magics all adding to the mix. The curse of lycanthropy via the dead spirit that lingers on sommat in your psychic scarring, the wash from the curse on Agent May, your…guest, it all contributed."

He looks to Sigyn then. "We /might/ be able to craft a wardstone, but I honestly don't know if our magic combined can compensate."

Sigyn rattles off something in Asgardian to Loki, then looks at Steven. "Stop the summoning, no. But we might be able to make something to give you warning and with effort give you a brief delay… enough to grab a pair of pants at least. But that is a -might-. It hasn't been done before, it's a new magic, and balancing the…" She pauses again for a brief discourse in Asgardian with Loki. "… The more one tries to interfere with what allows you to be summoned as a Einherjar, the more one risks altering what… makes you -you-. Or if the energies balance another direction, the more visible it makes you to magic and the fates. Pull too much in one direction, and it tightens things in other directions."

Sigyn smiles wryly, "And it won't be a quick item to make either. This isn't attaching a light spell to a pebble. This is… crafting something new, more complex than a jet engine and we have to make a… physical anchor that is shaped and prepared to hold the spell. Like an aircraft must be built to work with and contain the engine that powers it. -IF- it can be done, it will take multiple attempts to fine tune."

Sigyn gets a respectful nod. "I understand, m'am. I trust you both to make sure I come out of this alive." The Captain then looks around and after musing over options, he simply sits down on the ground cross-legged. Now that off-chance of passing out and knocking his thick skull on something is greatly negated.

Barnes would be proud.

Patience appears to be Steve's strong suit as he sits there, hands rested in the divot of his lap, and waits silently. He doesn't recognize the language at all with it being nothing of Midgard itself.

There comes a point where he realizes that there's a feeling of…tugs? — at his attention. It seems easy to let his lids fall shut for just…just a second.

They snap open blind to this reality. His heart sounds steadily in his ears, full of life and a symphony of it in contrast to what he fell asleep to at night nearly a century ago. Time goes fluid for him — he sees his own face looking back at him now, his gaze intense and penetrating — it makes his pulse skip a beat. The features then begin to melt and morph. It's…his father, Joseph, lost to war — Steve knows he has his mother's eyes. Then his grandfather, youthful yet, strong of jaw — and then his great-grandfather, red of hair, dark of eye, stern and unknown…and then another man yet whose face fractals in mesomorphic iterations into a shadowed distance. Steve breathes in…and out…and in and the mirrored bloodline fractures to flash shards of his life in bright twinklings.

Erskine's machine — war — explosions — blinding light — cold darkness — modern New York overlaid by memory — Bucky then and Bucky now, carefree youth blending to jaded strength — the gleam of a spangled shield — tasting blood between fanged teeth — smelling dragonfire — falling into an impossible number of stars —

Steve jerks in his sit as if abruptly awoken when Loki speaks again and puts a hand against his chest. His heart's still beating hard against his ribcage, but he's here, present, in the now. He stares wide-eyed at Loki and then Sigyn before he finds his ability of speech. "Oh, n-no, it's…I arrive just fine each time. Magic's got it that I'm in my suit, thank god." He combs fingers back through his hair and blows a hard sigh. "If it's really that…all tangled up, lemme…lemme talk with Barnes first — maybe Lady Astryd too, see what she has to say about it."

"There is /one/ way I can think of, one impossible, simple way for you to end the possibility for such summoning." Loki looks Steve in the eyes. "Run away from a fight, abandon your allies. Just once is all it would take, and you'd be free of this…burden." He's really not sure if Captain America even COULD do such a thing, and that conundrum has engaged the Trickster's full attention. Steve would feel the weight of Loki's gaze, could sense the eons he's lived, the sheer power of a God - focused wholly on him. Can't be comfortable. "Of course…when you do eventually pass on, you'd be denied Valhalla. One cannot undo such an act."

He is silent then, listening to Sigyn's explanation, working out some of the nuances with her, and then he nods. "Easy, or…hard and risky." A broad smile. "Eternal, or ephemeral. The ball is in your court, Steven Rogers, born on the fourth of July."

Sigyn says softly, sadly, "And an ill made attempt at freeing you from this burden would risk turning you into such a person. Someone who would put his own convenience in front of the lives of his comrades in arms. That is why if you want us to try to modify or delay the summoning, we will not rush. We will take months, or even years if needed to be certain that any aid we gave you was truly an aid, not a curse in disguise."

"You do not need to decide tonight." Sigyn glances at Loki, "Decisions made in haste can have life long or longer consequences. And you know where to find us."

Prickled, Steve stares right back into that jade-green abyss. He gets to his feet and brushes off his pants and pert hindquarters as if there were any dust or grit to be found on the carpeting of this place. Of course there isn't — and, all the while, he's still staring Loki down as if he might consider saying something smart.

And by smart, we mean sassy. Somewhere, Barnes is suddenly holding his breath.

Sigyn makes him break the staring contest with her reminder that nothing need be decided now. "Right," he echoes agreements. "No big hurry about it. Thinks things have been cleared up enough for now, 'ppreciate it." A beat and he adds tartly, "'nd 'm not turning my back on my friends or anyone who needs my help. Risk is nothing new. Life's full of it."

Loki is a noodge, arguably one of the first and best noodges. Of COURSE he'll prick the Captain's pride! That's his JOB, he's a Trickster deity. They push, they prod, they make poor life decisions and encourage others to do the same. They are brats, they are mischief given flesh. Loki could not be more true to himself than he was just then with that serious question.

That /irritating/ question.

And Steve's response? His unflinching stare into the eyes of a being that could conceivably obliterate him, that rallying of Steve's inner self, that core of /heroism/ that is his very essence…in that moment Loki takes the man's measure and does not find him wanting. Even before Steve adds his tart comment, Loki is nodding. "Of course you could not, that's what makes you you, Steven." A grin then, the God eclipsed once more by the man. "And that risk is what makes it fun." He slips an arm about his wife's shoulders. "My wife is far wiser than I in many things, we would both do well to heed her advice." A grin. "Well, sometimes."

Sigyn laughs softly, grinning up at Loki. "You have just as much fun getting out of trouble as into it, and you know it." Is there innuendo there? Ahem. She kisses Loki's cheek, then smiles at Steve, "Let me pack up up something to bring home to your husband. You can return the containers later." Containers. Plural. Yes, she gets out a good size basket, tucks a large sealed bowl with the leftover stew, two more loaves of that brown bread, half the apple cake, and a box that Loki knows has a dozen home made cinnamon rolls. Loki also knows she baked at least four dozen rolls earlier, so she's not giving away his breakfast.

"Agreed." At least one thing the Captain and Trickster can agree on: their other halves have wisdom to be attended upon. Steve finishes pulling down and straightening his shirt. He gives Sigyn a smaller, grateful smile.

"Buck'll appreciate it, Miss Sigyn, thank you. We'll get those containers back to you clean as a whistle." And won't they, especially with the Soldier's propensity to keep the kitchen spic and span. While Sigyn is gathering foodstuffs, the blond super-soldier walks to retrieve his coat and slide it onto his broad shoulders.

"Thank you, Loki, for that once-over. Answered a lot of questions for me. Granted, there're more to answer now, but I think time'll get everything all laid out crystal-clear." He seems to think about it for a moment, but then there's a hand offered out for Loki to shake. "Honored to have been your guest."

Loki smiles - is is NOT a smirk - and shakes Steve's hand. "Our pleasure, Steven. MY pleasure." His grip is firm, but it is respect, not a challenge that is offered. How many people in history have won the Trickster's respect? Hint: Not many. "You are welcome here any time, Captain. You, and your Bucky."

Sigyn hands the basket over to Steve. "Please feel free to visit when there's not a crisis. I enjoy playing hostess, and you and your husband are good company."

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