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Marvel: What If...Loki Was Worthy? (A Loki & Valkyrie Story)

Read by Oliver Wyman
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On sale Apr 02, 2024 | 11 Hours and 34 Minutes | 978-0-593-86371-8
| Grades 9-12
Loki and Valkyrie seek redemption in the first adventure of an epic new multiversal series that reimagines the origins of iconic Marvel heroes.

So many worlds, so little time. Infinite possibilities, creating infinite realities. Long have I watched the trickster god sow chaos. But . . . what if Loki saved Asgard from Tony Stark’s revenge?

Thor—Son of Odin, God of Thunder, Wielder of Mjolnir—is dead. And Loki is responsible. 

It was meant to be only a joke—tampering with the Destroyer, changing Thor’s course to Midgard—a bit of mischief with a chance of maiming. But Loki’s harmless prank spiraled out of control, unleashing death and destruction on New York City and the heroes sworn to protect it. The city was saved, at the cost of Thor’s life. 

Furious and heartbroken, the All-Father banishes Loki to Earth for his crime. Loki finds himself in a realm of boxed wine, instant noodles, and some sort of regional performance troupe known as the “Buffalo Bills.” It’s a meager existence, far from Asgard’s grand courts, but he finds his new friend, Brian the Gecko, a much more engaging companion than the sycophants back home. It’s a true meeting of the minds. 

Loki is the God of Mischief—but he knows, deep down, that he never truly deserved to stand next to their father’s golden child, Thor, as two true sons of Odin. Yet he cannot endure his exile in peaceful isolation. A Valkyrie—Hel-bent on carrying out her oath to Thor—barges into Loki’s trailer home with his brother’s final words from the beyond: a plea to find a certain Dr. Jane Foster and pass the hammer Mjolnir on to its rightful heir.

While Loki struggles to fulfil his brother’s last request, the far-reaching consequences of his fatal prank return to haunt him. Blinded by grief over those he lost in the chaos wrought by Asgard, Iron Man vows revenge on those who consider themselves gods. Determined to protect Earth from the might of this unpredictable alien power, Stark forges Asgard’s own weaponry into a lethal suit of armor, set on eradicating any tether between their worlds—consequences be damned. When Asgard looks to Loki for salvation, he must answer the question: Am I truly worthy?
1

Asgard


Now Loki Laufeyson came close to the cruel deed itself, and his hands were shaking.

Deep within the spires of Valaskjalf, his father lay before him encased in a wide tube of pure gold. The room glittered from the shine of it, from the halo around the sleeping figure, the quality of the light ever shifting, one moment soothing and the next bouncing with mischievous flickers and winks. It was gold all around them, lending the room the sense that it was a place out of time. A place of dreams.

A place where anything, really, was possible.

Loki knelt, both elbows digging hard into the kneecap for purchase, hands clasped, though his fingers continued to tremble. He delighted in a moment of destiny, but never worried about the weightiness of consequence. What were consequences to a god? They were little more than inconveniences. And anyway, ruminating ruined the fun. Even this, his most dangerous gambit so far, ought not to be humorless. No, humorless was this god before him, Odin Borson, King of Asgard, his adoptive father. This graying slab of a god, pitted with scars from innumerable battles, adorned with a beard like frosted white lichen. Stony. Unmovable. Odin found Loki’s jokes and pranks tedious, because for all his power and longevity, his father was a mirthless boar-pig.

What a waste.

“What is the shape of your dream, Odin?” Loki asked. He stood, feeling the blood rush through his legs to his toes. “I can’t tell you the shape of mine, for where there should be color and riot and symbol, there is nothing. Once, I dreamed of a man’s silhouette as he stood over me, and I thought it to be you, but now I’m not so sure. My dreams are empty, Father, so I must create my life to be full.”

The door behind him opened and shut, and Loki hunched up.

He glanced over his shoulder, then regarded Odin again. He smiled, faintly, as if briefly distracted by an amusing and distant memory. Clumsy footfalls brought the dwarf to his side. She was of Nidavellir, a brilliant mind sorely overlooked, a surgical solution disguised as a blunt instrument. Loki had discovered her during a day of petitions before the royal court, an exercise his brother Thor detested and avoided whenever possible. As was so often the case, it was left to Queen Frigga to hear the complaints of the highborn citizens and the low and adjudicate them. Loki enjoyed sitting in on these court mundanities, finding value in the injustices brought before the queen—in such times, folk often let their masks slip, driven by sorrow or outrage to say more than was strictly required. Secrets. Crimes. Shames. Of course, Thor saw no worth in that currency. How could he? The golden child of golden gods never would wade into the darker currents running through the common streets and sewers of their society. Thor had no use for secrets or shame.

Loki knew better.

“Did you bring it?” he asked.

“I did.” Kvisa Röksdóttir, heaped in gray furs and leather and chains, produced a slowly pulsing crystal from inside the pouch hanging from her wide belt. The smell of the forges hung about her, a strangely sulfurous perfume. She held up the crystal to him, soot-stained lines of worry etched into her forehead. Before Loki could take the crystal, Kvisa hesitated, tugging it back. “My prince . . .”

“Is it him?” Loki nodded toward Odin. “Ah. His presence bothers you.”

She flinched. “It does feel strange to be doing this here. He was not the one who rejected my petition.”

“Queen Frigga speaks for him while he lies in the Odinsleep,” Loki said, impatient. He reached for the crystal again, but she denied him, closing the gem in her fist and clutching it to her chest. Ungrateful. Impudent. A serpent uncoiled in his stomach, and with it, the ugly but understandable urge to simply take the crystal from her. He could do it.

He should do it.

“We made a deal. To flinch now is cowardice.” His voice was a growl. His hands curled into fists. Ancient, angry magic gathered to him. He wasn’t going to have his lovingly crafted plan unravel, not now, not after he had just knelt by his father’s side and gloated.

“I don’t know,” Kvisa replied, shying away.

“You do know.” Loki sighed and let his better nature have a rare win. It might have been kinder just to rip the crystal out of her grasp, but there was more pleasure in gaining it correctly. Correctly, with manipulation. She had to give it freely. After all, a piece of Kvisa’s very soul was bound to it. “With your genius discovery,” he whispered, holding out his hand for what he was owed. His vivid green eyes flashed. “We will right many wrongs. Do not flinch, my friend.”

Kvisa didn’t look terribly convinced. Shifting from foot to foot, she gnawed her lower lip and glanced at the sleeping form of Odin. “Can he . . . Can he not hear us?”

With a flourish, Loki turned and banged on the glimmering barrier protecting his father. There was no commotion from within, though the noise echoed for a moment around the chamber.

“See?” Loki laughed to himself. “No one’s home.”

Gods, but she was a stubborn stone of a woman. Kvisa merely frowned, still clutching (petulantly, in his opinion) the crystal to her throat. And so Loki leapt onto the golden bed itself, landing on the barrier, the brightly dancing light bending around him, throwing irregular shapes against the walls and ceiling. Kvisa gazed up at him, already short, but now even smaller as he stood triumphantly on top of his father’s motionless body.

“Speak, petitioner, what is your complaint?”

Kvisa’s emerald eyes widened, and she pointed to herself.

“Yes, you. You, the petitioner.”

She smirked, blushing. Was she toying with him? That snake inside hissed, and venom burned through his veins.

“Svansi, the leader of my forge’s cohort, refuses to integrate my new design for the Destroyer . . .” As the dwarf spoke, she seemed to gain momentum and confidence, her words coming faster, tumbling over one another as she let the hand holding the gem fall to her side. Her knuckles turned white as she clutched it. “He is a fool, and so is the queen! My design is superior in every way, lending far greater control over the Destroyer. Perhaps . . . Perhaps there are minor issues of safety to consider, but such things are the enemy of innovation. To cling to the old way is stubbornness, and our cohort suffers for Svansi’s small-mindedness. He must be taught a lesson, for he will not listen, the queen will not listen . . .” Her eyes drifted to Loki, and a true smile appeared. No more smirking. “But Loki Laufeyson listens.”

“Yes. Yes. Let your words darken Odin’s dreams.” Loki laughed, elated. With his right boot, he stomped down hard on Odin’s head through the barrier. “Say it again! Louder!”

“Loki Laufeyson listens!” Kvisa cried, matching his joy. “He is a god of vision!”

He brought his foot down on his father’s face again and again, and together they laughed. “The only pity, my dear Kvisa, is that Odin will not be awake to see it.”

“He will know in time,” said the dwarf. Her eyes twinkled with the light blazing from the shielded bed. “Your better cleverness will be known, and so will mine. We will both have our revenge.”

At last. At last. She raised her callus-hardened hand and opened it, offering him the crystal. It pulsed with temptation. Loki did not flinch. He took the thing from her, a coil of whispers surging up from the gem, wrapping around his arm. It was Kvisa’s voice in the whispers, but ghostly, as if her soul was screaming.

“Thor departs on the morrow,” Loki murmured, fascinated by the cold power seething within the crystal. The plan would move forward now that he possessed the final piece of it. “My idiot brother thinks he is bound for Jotunheim, charged with no more than a simple patrol, yet he and the Destroyer will never reach their intended destination and the chaos will be breathtaking to behold.” Loki glanced down past his feet, staring at the face of his sleeping father. “Odin, old boy, your favored child will finally know shame, and there is nothing you can do to prevent it.

“Come!” he called, leaping down from the bed. “Come, there is much to prepare.” Loki could not wait to begin, taking gulping strides, luminous with the lure of imminent deviancy. “We must make certain that this new control system works properly and do all the fussing and so on now.”

Kvisa struggled to keep up, meeting him at the door. Glancing at his father one last time, Loki slid the crystal into his pocket. The ancient magic of before leapt to his grasp; he weaved and controlled with expert and eager hands.

“How will we reach the Destroyer?” she asked, brow furrowed. “It is never unguarded.”

“You know me better than that, Kvisa, I think of everything.”
© courtesy of the author
Madeleine Roux is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than twenty books for teens, adults, and children. Her bestselling Asylum series has sold over a million copies worldwide. She has also written for Star Wars, World of Warcraft, Dungeons & Dragons, and Critical Role. Roux lives in Seattle, Washington, with her partner and beloved pups.
View titles by Madeleine Roux

About

Loki and Valkyrie seek redemption in the first adventure of an epic new multiversal series that reimagines the origins of iconic Marvel heroes.

So many worlds, so little time. Infinite possibilities, creating infinite realities. Long have I watched the trickster god sow chaos. But . . . what if Loki saved Asgard from Tony Stark’s revenge?

Thor—Son of Odin, God of Thunder, Wielder of Mjolnir—is dead. And Loki is responsible. 

It was meant to be only a joke—tampering with the Destroyer, changing Thor’s course to Midgard—a bit of mischief with a chance of maiming. But Loki’s harmless prank spiraled out of control, unleashing death and destruction on New York City and the heroes sworn to protect it. The city was saved, at the cost of Thor’s life. 

Furious and heartbroken, the All-Father banishes Loki to Earth for his crime. Loki finds himself in a realm of boxed wine, instant noodles, and some sort of regional performance troupe known as the “Buffalo Bills.” It’s a meager existence, far from Asgard’s grand courts, but he finds his new friend, Brian the Gecko, a much more engaging companion than the sycophants back home. It’s a true meeting of the minds. 

Loki is the God of Mischief—but he knows, deep down, that he never truly deserved to stand next to their father’s golden child, Thor, as two true sons of Odin. Yet he cannot endure his exile in peaceful isolation. A Valkyrie—Hel-bent on carrying out her oath to Thor—barges into Loki’s trailer home with his brother’s final words from the beyond: a plea to find a certain Dr. Jane Foster and pass the hammer Mjolnir on to its rightful heir.

While Loki struggles to fulfil his brother’s last request, the far-reaching consequences of his fatal prank return to haunt him. Blinded by grief over those he lost in the chaos wrought by Asgard, Iron Man vows revenge on those who consider themselves gods. Determined to protect Earth from the might of this unpredictable alien power, Stark forges Asgard’s own weaponry into a lethal suit of armor, set on eradicating any tether between their worlds—consequences be damned. When Asgard looks to Loki for salvation, he must answer the question: Am I truly worthy?

Excerpt

1

Asgard


Now Loki Laufeyson came close to the cruel deed itself, and his hands were shaking.

Deep within the spires of Valaskjalf, his father lay before him encased in a wide tube of pure gold. The room glittered from the shine of it, from the halo around the sleeping figure, the quality of the light ever shifting, one moment soothing and the next bouncing with mischievous flickers and winks. It was gold all around them, lending the room the sense that it was a place out of time. A place of dreams.

A place where anything, really, was possible.

Loki knelt, both elbows digging hard into the kneecap for purchase, hands clasped, though his fingers continued to tremble. He delighted in a moment of destiny, but never worried about the weightiness of consequence. What were consequences to a god? They were little more than inconveniences. And anyway, ruminating ruined the fun. Even this, his most dangerous gambit so far, ought not to be humorless. No, humorless was this god before him, Odin Borson, King of Asgard, his adoptive father. This graying slab of a god, pitted with scars from innumerable battles, adorned with a beard like frosted white lichen. Stony. Unmovable. Odin found Loki’s jokes and pranks tedious, because for all his power and longevity, his father was a mirthless boar-pig.

What a waste.

“What is the shape of your dream, Odin?” Loki asked. He stood, feeling the blood rush through his legs to his toes. “I can’t tell you the shape of mine, for where there should be color and riot and symbol, there is nothing. Once, I dreamed of a man’s silhouette as he stood over me, and I thought it to be you, but now I’m not so sure. My dreams are empty, Father, so I must create my life to be full.”

The door behind him opened and shut, and Loki hunched up.

He glanced over his shoulder, then regarded Odin again. He smiled, faintly, as if briefly distracted by an amusing and distant memory. Clumsy footfalls brought the dwarf to his side. She was of Nidavellir, a brilliant mind sorely overlooked, a surgical solution disguised as a blunt instrument. Loki had discovered her during a day of petitions before the royal court, an exercise his brother Thor detested and avoided whenever possible. As was so often the case, it was left to Queen Frigga to hear the complaints of the highborn citizens and the low and adjudicate them. Loki enjoyed sitting in on these court mundanities, finding value in the injustices brought before the queen—in such times, folk often let their masks slip, driven by sorrow or outrage to say more than was strictly required. Secrets. Crimes. Shames. Of course, Thor saw no worth in that currency. How could he? The golden child of golden gods never would wade into the darker currents running through the common streets and sewers of their society. Thor had no use for secrets or shame.

Loki knew better.

“Did you bring it?” he asked.

“I did.” Kvisa Röksdóttir, heaped in gray furs and leather and chains, produced a slowly pulsing crystal from inside the pouch hanging from her wide belt. The smell of the forges hung about her, a strangely sulfurous perfume. She held up the crystal to him, soot-stained lines of worry etched into her forehead. Before Loki could take the crystal, Kvisa hesitated, tugging it back. “My prince . . .”

“Is it him?” Loki nodded toward Odin. “Ah. His presence bothers you.”

She flinched. “It does feel strange to be doing this here. He was not the one who rejected my petition.”

“Queen Frigga speaks for him while he lies in the Odinsleep,” Loki said, impatient. He reached for the crystal again, but she denied him, closing the gem in her fist and clutching it to her chest. Ungrateful. Impudent. A serpent uncoiled in his stomach, and with it, the ugly but understandable urge to simply take the crystal from her. He could do it.

He should do it.

“We made a deal. To flinch now is cowardice.” His voice was a growl. His hands curled into fists. Ancient, angry magic gathered to him. He wasn’t going to have his lovingly crafted plan unravel, not now, not after he had just knelt by his father’s side and gloated.

“I don’t know,” Kvisa replied, shying away.

“You do know.” Loki sighed and let his better nature have a rare win. It might have been kinder just to rip the crystal out of her grasp, but there was more pleasure in gaining it correctly. Correctly, with manipulation. She had to give it freely. After all, a piece of Kvisa’s very soul was bound to it. “With your genius discovery,” he whispered, holding out his hand for what he was owed. His vivid green eyes flashed. “We will right many wrongs. Do not flinch, my friend.”

Kvisa didn’t look terribly convinced. Shifting from foot to foot, she gnawed her lower lip and glanced at the sleeping form of Odin. “Can he . . . Can he not hear us?”

With a flourish, Loki turned and banged on the glimmering barrier protecting his father. There was no commotion from within, though the noise echoed for a moment around the chamber.

“See?” Loki laughed to himself. “No one’s home.”

Gods, but she was a stubborn stone of a woman. Kvisa merely frowned, still clutching (petulantly, in his opinion) the crystal to her throat. And so Loki leapt onto the golden bed itself, landing on the barrier, the brightly dancing light bending around him, throwing irregular shapes against the walls and ceiling. Kvisa gazed up at him, already short, but now even smaller as he stood triumphantly on top of his father’s motionless body.

“Speak, petitioner, what is your complaint?”

Kvisa’s emerald eyes widened, and she pointed to herself.

“Yes, you. You, the petitioner.”

She smirked, blushing. Was she toying with him? That snake inside hissed, and venom burned through his veins.

“Svansi, the leader of my forge’s cohort, refuses to integrate my new design for the Destroyer . . .” As the dwarf spoke, she seemed to gain momentum and confidence, her words coming faster, tumbling over one another as she let the hand holding the gem fall to her side. Her knuckles turned white as she clutched it. “He is a fool, and so is the queen! My design is superior in every way, lending far greater control over the Destroyer. Perhaps . . . Perhaps there are minor issues of safety to consider, but such things are the enemy of innovation. To cling to the old way is stubbornness, and our cohort suffers for Svansi’s small-mindedness. He must be taught a lesson, for he will not listen, the queen will not listen . . .” Her eyes drifted to Loki, and a true smile appeared. No more smirking. “But Loki Laufeyson listens.”

“Yes. Yes. Let your words darken Odin’s dreams.” Loki laughed, elated. With his right boot, he stomped down hard on Odin’s head through the barrier. “Say it again! Louder!”

“Loki Laufeyson listens!” Kvisa cried, matching his joy. “He is a god of vision!”

He brought his foot down on his father’s face again and again, and together they laughed. “The only pity, my dear Kvisa, is that Odin will not be awake to see it.”

“He will know in time,” said the dwarf. Her eyes twinkled with the light blazing from the shielded bed. “Your better cleverness will be known, and so will mine. We will both have our revenge.”

At last. At last. She raised her callus-hardened hand and opened it, offering him the crystal. It pulsed with temptation. Loki did not flinch. He took the thing from her, a coil of whispers surging up from the gem, wrapping around his arm. It was Kvisa’s voice in the whispers, but ghostly, as if her soul was screaming.

“Thor departs on the morrow,” Loki murmured, fascinated by the cold power seething within the crystal. The plan would move forward now that he possessed the final piece of it. “My idiot brother thinks he is bound for Jotunheim, charged with no more than a simple patrol, yet he and the Destroyer will never reach their intended destination and the chaos will be breathtaking to behold.” Loki glanced down past his feet, staring at the face of his sleeping father. “Odin, old boy, your favored child will finally know shame, and there is nothing you can do to prevent it.

“Come!” he called, leaping down from the bed. “Come, there is much to prepare.” Loki could not wait to begin, taking gulping strides, luminous with the lure of imminent deviancy. “We must make certain that this new control system works properly and do all the fussing and so on now.”

Kvisa struggled to keep up, meeting him at the door. Glancing at his father one last time, Loki slid the crystal into his pocket. The ancient magic of before leapt to his grasp; he weaved and controlled with expert and eager hands.

“How will we reach the Destroyer?” she asked, brow furrowed. “It is never unguarded.”

“You know me better than that, Kvisa, I think of everything.”

Author

© courtesy of the author
Madeleine Roux is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than twenty books for teens, adults, and children. Her bestselling Asylum series has sold over a million copies worldwide. She has also written for Star Wars, World of Warcraft, Dungeons & Dragons, and Critical Role. Roux lives in Seattle, Washington, with her partner and beloved pups.
View titles by Madeleine Roux