Odin Borson, the All-Father and King of Asgard stood quietly over the crib of his sleeping son, Thor. A child birthed between the union of himself and Gaea. A union between Asgard and Midgard. He was to be the future of Asgard, the key to the breaking of the Ragnarok cycle that had plagued his people for thousands of years.
Yet, as he looked down at his son, all that filled him was worry and fear. Fear of the unknown and what it could mean for him, his family and his people.
"What troubles you, my King?" Odin did not look up as he heard the voice of his wife as she glided across the room to stand by his side. She too, looked down at her husbands eldest son and felt a frown cross her features. Yet it was not due to the boy himself, no in fact she loved the boy dearly despite the short time she had known him. He was a happy child and she held no ill will to her husband or the child's real mother. She understood that it was done for the betterment of Asgard.
"It is nothing." Odin responded, before turning away from Thor who slept peacefully in his crib. Frigga meanwhile leaned forward to stroke one of Thors cheek with one finger making the boy smile in his sleep, a sight that brought a smile to her own face before turning and joining her husband in bed.
"You need not worry about him, my love." She was well aware of what truly troubled Odin, the young prince upon being born had encountered another lost soul. A soul, that bonded and fused with Thor's very own. Of course, due to Thors divinity, the young princes soul would be the dominate figure, yet it would not be without its changes. "I have seen many futures."
Odin said nothing, well aware of his wife's greatest gift. A gift that allowed him to plan and prepare for his enemies, yet it came at a cost. His beautiful wife and Queen would be weakened each time she looked into the future and so, it was used sparingly.
"What have you seen?"
"Many things." Frigga replied. "I have seen the rise and fall of Asgard under many kings. But under the rule of Thor, I have seen Asgard flourish and prosper, yet I have also seen great wars waged."
Odin frowned in thought. "A worrying thought."
"Asgard will flourish, my love. Your son, Thor will be a great King." Frigga pressed.
"Asgard is not the place, but it's people."
"And they too, shall flourish and prosper." Frigga continued. "Do not worry for what the future holds as it is constantly changing and never certain." Odin released a sigh, recognising when his wife would not bow and nodded his head in agreement.
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The sound of metal clashing rang throughout the small courtyard as the two combatants traded blows. Swords sung as they cut through the air, sparks showered down upon the ground as the swords scrapped against one another. Shields moved blocking and knocking strikes to one side.
It was all mixed in with the sounds of the heavy breathing of the two fighters and the shuffling of feet as they moved around the courtyard with masterful footwork.
Despite these sounds, Odin watched the two with a scrutinising gaze. The tallest of the two combatants was Volstagg, a warrior of great renown and prowess among the Asgardian military despite his young age by Asgardian standards. There were very few that did not know of him, most knew him personally as a boisterous friend and ally. His love for ale and celebrations had made him a popular figure, easily recognisable from his peers.
And his love for ale, was matched only by his skill in combat.
This made him a perfect tutor for the second figure, a young child no older than seven years old. His blonde hair was short and slightly darker in colour due to the copious amounts of sweat and grime accumulated over the course of his hours of combat training. His face was scrunched up into one of extreme concentration as he desperately tried to block, parry and strike his opponent.
This child, was in fact the young prince of Asgard, Thor.
"Again." Volstagg ordered, his voice jovial with a large smile on his face as he looked down at the bruised figure of the prince. Unlike said prince, Volstagg was entirely unharmed, yet if one looked closely would see a small shine of sweat on his brow.
The young prince looked up at Volstagg and then his eyes turned to look at Odin, who's gaze and posture revealed nothing of what he thought of the performance. This it seems, resulted in filling Thor with great determination as he rose to his feet on shaky legs and held his sword and shield firm.
With a battle cry, he charged forwards once more with Volstagg prepared for the young prince with a smile upon his face.
Odin had always known that something was different about the boy who was his son, and it was not just the fact that his soul had bonded with another. He had no doubt that his masters that hide above knew of this development and he could feel their concern. It was a little niggling sensation at the back of his mind and he could feel it, they were scared of what this meant.
Thors powers were great, Odin and many others could see that. In fact, Odin knew that his son could surpass him entirely and from what he knew of his past incarnations, there were times in which Thor had very nearly done that.
Yet this was a different Thor, whatever soul he had bonded with had some measure of nostalgia about this place. It did not have a measure of divinity in it therefore it could not be Asgardian. It was in fact, all to similar to the likes of a Midgardian, but entirely different at the same time. Whatever it was however, recognised Asgard and had been a very smart and pragmatic individual.
Thor was already learning at a rate that while not astounding, was definitely above average. He was desperate to learn more with a curiosity that Frigga and many of his other tutors where more than willing to satisfy.
But the area in which he had shown most progression and promise in, was combat. Thor excelled in combat and despite being only seven years old, was already stronger than some Asgardian soldiers. Thors physical strength and his stamina were his greatest assets and it showed in his numerous spars with Volstagg that took place everyday in this very courtyard.
His stamina and determination allowed him to get up, even when Asgardian soldiers would have rested and his strength allowed him to match them blow for blow.
There was a loud clang as Thor raised his shield to block Volstagg's swing only for the blow to knock the Asgardian prince back a few metres where he eventually collapsed to the floor breathing heavily.
Though his strength was great for his age, against figures like Volstagg who were praised as being some of the most physically powerful, it was nothing special.
Having seen all he needed, Odin turned around and left.
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Breathing heavily, Thor slowly and shakily rose to his feet, every fibre of his body protesting at such movement so soon after the hours of beating he took at the hands of his combat instructor. Yet Thor ignored his body's protest and moved into a kneeling position.
"I believe that's enough for today, young prince." Volstagg spoke in his usual loud voice and Thor shook his head. "No?"
Thor took a few moments to steady his breathing and looked up to Volstagg with determination in his gaze. "I can still go." He had to get stronger, he did not know why, but all he knew was that he had to get stronger. There were things out there he knew could destroy Asgard and his family, he just did not know how he knew. It was like a gut instinct that told him he needed to get stronger or else.
"Are you sure?" Volstagg questioned, ignoring the glare sent his way by the young prince as he did so. "You can barely stand, my prince. You're determination is admirable, but pushing yourself too far will not help." That and Volstagg did not want to admit that even he was starting to feel a little winded.
It had being a surprise when Odin had summoned him to the palace and told him to train the young prince, Thor. After all, Volstagg did not have the best reputation as a responsible figure. A great fighter, yes. But that's all Volstagg was, a fighter. He fought, he trained and he partied. To expect anything more from him was a push and so he would have expected others to be given the honour of training the prince.
Still, when his King asked him to do so, he had accepted.
His second question – not expressed to the King of course, but in private – was as to why he was being asked to train the young prince when he had only recently turned seven. Sure, Asgardian's physical abilities far surpassed that of most individuals and suffered no detrimental affects to their growth as a result of training from a young age, but even so, seven years old was a young age to start training even by their standards.
Light training was common among Asgardian children. Learning to wield and swing a sword with some measure of skill and competency. But the heavy and brutal training the prince underwent was far from normal and from what he had heard, was a direct result of the young princes wishes and the King had accepted.
But once again, Volstagg did not refuse the Kings request, after all, Odin was the God of Wisdom and Volstag was not.
Then he met the young prince, he was comely lad. It was obvious he had held a blade before if a little unsurely, no doubt from sneaking into the palace armoury like he had heard the prince used to do. He also learned that the boy had numerous other tutors that taught him how to read and write, the history of Asgard, basic strategy, how to wield all manner of weapons and other skills that would be need for when becoming king.
Turns out, Volstagg's main purpose for teaching the young prince, was to simply be his sparring partner. To be the person to show the young prince that no matter how strong you are or how skilled, there was always someone better than you out there.
And with each day that passed, Volstagg found that harder and harder to do. Not entirely too difficult, but he certainly had to put some measure of effort into each spar, it would be embarrasing to lose to a child,meven if it was to the prince of Asgard. The boys aptitude for combat was impressive to say the least, he took beatings that would keep most men down for weeks and simply stood up for more. Not only that, but his skill with weapons was very high, though he was lacking somewhat when it came to wielding spears and other medium to long distance weapons. No, the young princes preferred area of combat was close quarters and it showed in his great skill with all manner of short ranged weaponry
Swords, axes, maces, clubs and other similar weaponry were the things he preferred to use and it showed. But even then, the boy had on more than one occasion looked at war hammers with interest, though due to his size, wielding one at his age with any measure of proficiency was all but impossible.
"Volstagg is right, my son." A melodic voice spoke, making those in the courtyard turn to see the Queen walking towards Thor, her adopted son, Loki walking behind her. While Thor was well liked amongst those in the palace due to his kindness and his never ending curiosity, not many were too keen on the adopted son of the King and Queen. Loki was a direct contrast to his brother, distant, arrogant and there had been early signs of cruelty in the boy with his love to play pranks on the many in the palace, some that were humiliating and could have potentially caused harm to others if he had not been stopped by Thor. They had started off harmless enough, but had progresively gotten worse and worse over the years.
The boy, unlike Thor was also a prodigy of the mystic arts and theoretical learning, something he never failed to taunt the young prince about, even when Thor consistently outperformed Loki in all of their sparring matches.
"Arrogant as always, dear brother." Loki scoffed and Volstagg once again wondered as to how strange it was that the young prince Loki acted like he was better than everyone, considering he was just a young child taken in by the King and Queen. If it had not been for their mercy, he may well have being just a peasant on the streets and nothing more.
"Mother!" Thor exclaimed wth a smile and despite his aching body, got to his feet and ran as best as he could to stand by Frigga's side, limping slightly and the ocassional stumble doing nothing but slow him down. "Is it time to learn magic?" He asked eagerly once again proving to Volstagg how different the two brothers were. Loki avoided doing anything he was bad at as to save further embarrassment, whereas Thor never once backed down no matter how struggling the task was.
"Yes, I have just come to collect you for that very reason." Frigga then turned to Volstagg and gave him a gentle smile. "Thank you, Volstagg." Bowing to the Queen, Volstagg spun on his heel and left, leaving the group of three in the courtyard. "Now, shall we go to library?"
"The library?" Thor moaned, his face twisting into one of dejectedness. "I wanted to continue practising magic, I've been trying really hard and I think I've nearly got it."
Loki looked at Thor and rolled his eyes. "You should just stop if you're not good at something, you're only slowing those that are good at it down." He said and Frigga gave Loki a disapproving frown that made the boy look down in bashfulness.
Thor on the other hand, shook his head at Loki. "Nope, you may be right that I'm not that good at magic, but I will continue to practise it. Like mother said, I may come across someone that I can't beat with my fists and may have to use my magic. If that's the case and I didn't know how to use magic then I'd be putting myself and all of Asgard at risk." He said determinedly and Frigga placed one hand on his head, making Thor look up at her to see the proud smile on her face. This made him preen while Loki looked at him jealousy.
"Whatever." Crossing his arms over his chest, Loki followed after Thor and Frigga all the while glaring daggers into Thors back. There had once being a time that he and Thor had been the greatest of friends, brothers that were all but inseparable.
But then their training began and Loki began to despise Thor. He was useless at magic and yet, insisted on learning it anyway. This resulted in Frigga telling Loki to wait for his brother to catch up meaning he had to put his own learning on hold till his brother learned a spell that only took him a few hours to learn weeks later. It was annoying, insulting and he hated it.
Not only that, but Thor had beaten and humiliated him in every spar. Always outshining him and outperforming him at every turn just because he was stronger. No, Thor may be loved by the people, but Loki did not love him as he once did.
He was beginning to despise Thor.