Mythology Workshop 1 — Gods and Goddesses Visit the 21st Century: Loki is stuck in an elevator with a 80-year-old grandpa whose only words are a single Latin phrase (of my own choosing), “Haud ignota loquor.”
— prompt via The 13th Floor Paradigm
Things weren’t always what they seemed when Loki stepped foot onto Midgard. He detested the world of men and how simple their minds were. They feared things that should not be feared and embraced things that seemed so idiotic to embrace.
The Allfather had decreed that he would be chained to his stone prison until the end of time, but there was more than one way to deceive “he-who-could-not-be-deceived.” With only one eye, he could not keep his gaze upon Loki at all times. Indeed, his bindings were unbreakable, but so was the devotion of his lovely Sigyn. She did not care about Loki’s lies. She did not care about his indiscretions. She did care for her fidelity and the good graces that Odin bestowed upon her for her devotion to someone he quite nearly hated. It was Sigyn that freed him when the Allfather’s gaze was turned away. She soothed the serpent that was sent to torture him for eternity and loosened the chains so that he could slide free. Were it not for Sigyn, then he would not have the opportunity that he had right now.
But what was this opportunity anyway? What could be done to those Æsir that sat high upon their horses and spouted tales of the old ways? What could he, the lord of lies, do to make them as miserable as they had proven to make him for so long? At that moment, Loki had no real clue what he could do from the lowlands of Midgard so, rather than dwell on his unfortunate circumstances, he focused on what he could do to improve his situation here.
As it turned out, he seemed to have a rather large following in Midgard. In fact, there were whole professions dedicated to the fine art of lies. Loki took a liking to the ones that these creatures referred to as “lawyers.” The most successful of these creatures seemed to enjoy lying to anyone and everyone that would listen. It was then that he decided that this would be how he would start his new empire. He would become one of these lawyers as he gathered power and planned his return to Asgard. Once he had returned to full strength, even the great Thor would not be able to stop Ragnarök. They would not see the end until it rode hard over their bodies and broke them.
So far, his integration into Midgard had succeeded. He had established himself in a position to secure the power and resources of men and it was somewhat satisfying. Unlike men a millennium ago, these men were more apt to turn upon each other when just a sliver of power or money was available. They were also less likely to believe in something such as he and this made them more of a challenge. Oh, he did like a challenge.
Today, Loki was meant to meet with more of his loyal followers. “Loyal” and “followers” were relative terms really. “Paid employees” was the term that possibly described them better. Either way, these creatures would follow him for as long as his power deemed him their superior. He planned for that to continue for as long as possible. Indeed, he was beginning to feel rejuvenated by his time here on Midgard. It was an odd feeling, to be happy in the company of men, but he simply decided that it was only, because he was not slandered and forced to battle on this plane. Here, Loki was the lord and master. In Midgard, he was king.
The great god stepped from his office as he pulled on his suit jacket and straightened his tie. This wasn’t quite his battle armor, but it was something that he had gotten used to over time. Loki summoned the elevator and stretched his neck a bit as he waited for the door to open. He both loved and hated these meetings, but he had to attend in order to keep up the charade. The elevator doors slid open and he stepped inside. The boardroom was just a few floors above, but he refused to take the stairs to something like this. It was his castle, he’d do as he pleased.
It was somewhat odd that, when going such a short distance, the elevator paused on one of the floors in between to pick up another passenger. Loki eyed the man that stepped inside with disapproval. He was old, possibly nearing ancient, and shuffled himself into the elevator slowly. He steadied himself against a top-heavy cane as he waited for the doors to close. He had made no move toward the buttons and so Loki made no more notice of the man. He was just too feeble to handle the stairs and needed to use the elevator. There was nothing else to be said.
The machine slid quietly up another floor and then abruptly came to a halt with a large bang. It shook the carriage within the shaft and Loki had to grab for one of the safety rails inside to keep himself steady. The elevator was stuck and the lord of lies was displeased. The lights flickered for a moment before shutting down completely. The carriage was plunged into darkness for, but a moment before the emergency lights turned themselves on. A low spotlight light washed over him and his companion, who was still standing steady against his cane.
“Mr. Laufeison?” A nervous voice was heard from outside the elevator as someone banged on the doors.
“Yes, I’m in here,” Loki righted himself, straightened his jacket again, and readied himself to be pulled from this wretched place.
“It’s Jameson from security, sir.” The muffled voice continued and sounded rather unsure of himself. “Are you okay?”
The man was a good guard, but at times seemed rather thick-skulled, “I’m fine. Can you open the door and get me out of here?” He was afraid that it would get stuffy and Loki didn’t really do well in heat anyway.
“Sir,” he paused and then continued as if he had been consulting with someone outside, “Sir, I don’t know how long it will take to get you out. Maintenance has to locate the problem and, well…” He trailed off again.
“Well, what?” The god was growing impatient with this situation already.
The voice on the other side of the doors sounded a tad bit alarmed, “You’re stuck in between floors, sir. It will take some time before we can get them opened.”
Loki sighed and loosened his tie as he leaned against the wall and tried to wait out the predicament. It was an agonizing experience already. Here he was, stuck in an elevator with a horribly old man who could keel over at any time. He was a god! He could fix this with, but a snap of his fingers! The lord of lies raised his hand and snapped his fingers, willing the elevator to be fixed. He rarely wasted his power on such things, but this was one of those times that he simply had to make an exception, The elevator groaned and shook, but nothing changed. There was something else at work here.
The god’s attention was drawn to the ancient man who stood silently in the elevator with him. He seemed to be waiting patiently for the machine to come back to life and continue on its journey. Something inside of Loki was bothered by the patient old man. He looked relaxed and calm. Why would he be relaxed and calm when trapped in a box suspended over at least sixty floors? He looked away from the old man and resided himself to the fact that it would be a long stay inside the little metal box, but it seemed that the more he tried to avoid focusing on the man, the more he had to think about him. Who was he? Why was he here? Loki did not recognize this man or know any reason why he would even be in the building. So many thoughts and questions rattled about in his mind. So many things that he needed to know.
The old man, of course, just stood there. He began to rock a little back and forth as if he was patiently waiting for this whole thing to pass and it was just now that Loki noticed that he was humming to himself. It was low and he could barely make it out, but he was humming something that seemed almost familiar. What was that tune? Now he had another question on his mind that he could not find the answer.
“Do you have to hum like that?!” Loki snapped at the old man as he loosened his tie even more. He was feeling hot and claustrophobic. It was rather unbecoming of him.
The ancient little man paused his rocking as he turned his head toward his aggravated neighbor and smiled happily, but continued to hum his song. What kind of psychotic man was this?
Loki peeled himself from the wall and turned to address the old man again, “If you must hum, could you at least tell me what that song is?”
Again, the little man smiled, but this time he managed to say something. “Haud ignota loquor,” his voice was gravely and sounded as if his throat had been parched for centuries.
“Haud ignota loquor?” The great lord of lies had never heard a song by that name.
The ancient creature nodded as he again began to rock a little on his heels, “Haud ignota loquor.”
Being trapped for even this short amount of time was starting to wear on his nerves. It reminded Loki of being chained beneath the serpent and he was not about to go back to that fate. “What does that even mean?!”
“Haud ignota loquor.“
Loki did not like the look of this man. He spoke in a language that the god was not privy to and he continued to rock back and forth like some child’s toy. His suit was ragged and may have once been black, but was now so dull that it had grayed, so far as he could tell in the emergency light. His hair, what little bit that was left, was as white as snow. The lines on his face were deep, as if he had seen countless years and could see even more before it was said and done. The humming continued and Loki felt he would be driven mad before the doors to the elevator would ever be opened.
“Would you stop the incessant noise? I don’t want to hear your Haud ignota whatever it is anymore!” He was frustrated with the whole moment in time. Instead, he willed that his underlings would move faster and get him out of this situation before this insane little man drove him mad.
The man finally obliged the god, though he continued to rock on his heels. The hard rubber soles creaked with every slow rock and his cane wobbled back and forth to keep him steady on his feet. It was only then that Loki noticed that the cane itself had a rather large bird’s head as the handle. Most of it was hidden, but the feathers on the neck and the end of the beak were clearly present and easily noticeable in the soft light that bathed them.
The god was about to speak again, but the doors slowly began to slide open. A shaft of brightness lit up the elevator even brighter and Loki had to raise his hand until his eyes adjusted. Someone was finally able to find something to force the doors open. Thank goodness.
“Mr. Laufeison?” Jameson peered through the few inches that the doors had slid open and Loki took in a breath of fresh air. His face was dead center on the upper part of the floor. They really had gotten stuck between floors. “Maintenance is here. We should be able to get you out now. I’m sorry it took so long. We couldn’t find anything to open the doors.”
“Fine, fine. Just get me out of here.” The security men, as now several had gathered at the door, each grabbed a door and began to pull. Eventually, the doors slid open and the men offered their hands to Loki to pull him free of his prison. He was quick to grab them and allow the men to pull him from between the floors.
“Mr. Laufeison!” His assistant stepped forward and offered him a damp cloth to wipe his face with. She was a good woman. She knew exactly what he needed and when. Sometimes she reminded him of his darling Sigyn. “Are you all right? I’m so sorry this happened.”
“That’s quite all right,” he tried to play the patient boss, “These things do happen. I was more worried about the elderly gentleman inside the elevator with me.”
Jameson and two other security men were helping the old man out of the elevator. His bones seemed to creak as he stood up straight and received his cane back from the security officer. Loki got a better look at both him and the cane he held. The bird on the top of the cane was not some sort of eagle, as he had assumed at first. No, it looked more like a raven, something Loki could recognize anywhere. The old man nodded to the young men that had helped him and then slowly padded his way past Loki. He turned his head toward the god and smiled happily, “Haud ignota loquor.”
Loki’s assistant seemed puzzled as the man continued on his way toward the stairwell on the other side of the hall. Loki just shook his head as he handed back the cloth she had given him, “I have no clue what that even means.” He spoke mostly to her, but it was loud enough for the old man to hear as well.
“It’s been a while since I’ve had any Latin, but I think it means, ‘I speak not of unknown things.’ It’s from The Aeneid… I think.” His assistant seemed to be pondering what in the world they could have conversed about inside that elevator to make the old man want to repeat that to her boss.
It was then that Loki understood. Odin had not turned his watchful eye away from him. He had allowed him to come to Midgard unimpeded. He had allowed it all to happen. There was no way for Loki to escape Odin’s wrath and that meant there was no way for him to bring Ragnarök unannounced. He would build his power up here and then, when the time came, Odin and his warriors would be ready for the onslaught. “Sara, what day is it?”
“It’s Wednesday, of course, sir.”
Word Count: 2,475