A Forest Ride

March 07, 2014:

Sif and Thor go for a ride in the forest.

Asgard

A forest in Asgard.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

The sun is warm on the lands of Asgard, on its fields and palaces and on its cottages and towns and forests. Tracking down the Warriors Three is proving troublesome. Fandral is somewhere traveling, or so they said, and so Sif is out hunting him down. It's not the first time she's done this.
What it means for the precise /moment/ is that she's mounted on a lovely grey mare walking through an ever-darkening forest. There's a village hidden here said to have the best ale in this part of the world, and Fandral has talked about finding it before. There's some suggestion that he's hunting the place now, not to mention a suggestion that the place is only actually /there/ once a month.

"Sif! Hail!" Thor comes galloping up from behind Sif, riding his horse Fjordjian. He slows to a lope, then a walk, bringing his horse up to speed next to Sif's. He flashes her a wide, boyish grin, his horse prancing a trot around Sif's before coming abreast.
"Where are you going, my friend?" he asks, tilting his head curiously at his closest friend. "I thought we would take in a game tonight. You took off without a word to anyone," he says, sounding a bit confused and concerned.

"Thor!" Sif turns around in surprise — she shouldn't be too shocked, considering that she had expected him to go after his friends as well. It isn't an unfriendly greeting, but it is a little more surprised than pleased. Turning toward him, she pauses until he draws abreast.
"This is the first you've said of the game," she replies, "though I have spoken to Loki about it. He quite graciously asked me to join his team. I considered that I would have an easier time finding other players and convincing them to join than he would, so off I went to search. I would have been back well before we started."

"Oh. You are playing on Loki's team?" Thor looks crestfallen for a moment, then forces a smile, riding on. "I suppose it is my fault for not approaching you sooner. Loki has always been a step ahead of me in looking for allies," he says with a wry smile.
"I… was actually hoping I could ask your opinion of something," Thor says. He actually hedges a bit. "I… do not wish to hurt the bonds of friendship you have with my brother," he assures Sif. "But he has said things of late- to myself and others- and you know, above all, that I can trust your word. May I ask you of some of his behaviour, of late?" he says, sounding uncomfortable at even the prospect of obliquely questioning his brother's character.

Tilting her head slightly, Sif speaks slowly: "He said the two of you had spoken and that he had mentioned the possibility of asking me to join. Truly, Thor, it shouldn't trouble you. We are friends now. We will be friends after. Loki has few friends and would not, I think, be able to muster an equal defense against yours. In a battle, I would say that was all well and good; in a game like this, I would say that a more equal match makes for a better game."
She frowns as Thor goes on, though, and shakes her head: "I would not call us friends. In all honesty… he's your brother, Thor. We rarely get along. I distrust spellweavers as well you know, all except your lady mother. He's too clever by half and always out for his own benefit. He is also your brother," she adds, reaching out to clasp Thor's arm. "And you love him. Well and good. But it's foolish to forget the sort of man he is. But ask and I shall answer."

Thor squeezes Sif's arm in gratitude for her understanding. "Aye. He is my brother. And… betimes I worry that he takes advantage of my fraternal nature." He sighs, heavily, riding knee to knee with Sif.
"I have been speaking with the Lady Amora of late," he explains to Sif. "We have been you, me, and the Warriors Three for millennia. Lady Amora is finally of a temperament where she might be inclined to contribute to our efforts. I… know there is little love lost between you two," he confesses to Sif. "I would enjoy you two being friends, but I would not invite her formally without your consent."
"My larger concern, though, is Loki. He has been sowing seeds of discontent, of late- between myself and Amora, between myself and Fandral, and Volstagg… and I suspect, even with you," he says, a despondent look crossing his face. "You are my dearest and closest friend. I should hate to do the least to harm you," he assures Sif. "And I worry Loki's bitter envy for our companionship is beginning to poison us against one another."

His simplicity sometimes is a match for hers. Sometimes more than a match. His gentleness and his honesty are the best tools for cutting through deceit and trickery. They are, in the end, and ever since the beginning, what melts Sif's heart when it comes to Thor.
She reaches out to take his hand then, halting her own horse and drawing his large rough hand close. "I admit it was in my mind that I could show you, if we won, that Amora could not replace me. Neither as a comrade nor as… as a companion. I do not trust her. I do not overly trust him."
Sif takes a deep breath, speaking slowly as she goes on: "Why do you think he does this? Is it just for the sake of mischief? Perhaps he focuses on your companions because he wishes he could be one. There was a time when we were all very young that you two were inseparable. Perhaps he yearns for that again. But know this, Thor: whatever else may happen, even if you try to push me away, I will always be your friend."
She turns his hand over as she speaks, leaning down to drop a kiss in the center of his palm. "Will you promise me the same?"

Thor /does not blush/. But his neck does get a bit red. "I… uh." He swallows. Battle and the bloody fields of warefare hold no fear for him, but where women are concerned… well, he lacks Loki's seductive silver tongue.
"I never intended for her to replace you, my dear friend," Thor assures Sif, capturing her kiss in his palm. Almost hesitantly, as if holding a delicate bird in his palm, he turns her hands over and kisses the back of her knuckles, as alone with her in the forest as if they were in private chambers in the forest.
"Merely to become one more friend in our group, one more blade in our company. She is an accomplished enchanter, and a skilled sorceror."
"But who else could be my shield-maiden but you? Who has stood by me in a thousand battles? Covered my shield-side in combat, born my broken body back to the healers and fighting off the Valkyriad themselves?"
His fingers don't quite interlace with Sif's, but her holds her slender fingers in his, tightly. "I don't know why Loki plays these bilgesnipe games. Perhaps he desires you for himself," Thor says. "Or Amora. Or he wishes it was just us brothers fighting side by side," he says, shrugging. "But…"
He squeezes her hands and gives her his best, more reassuring smile- honest and broad. "But I swear 'pon Mjolnir, you will never, /ever/ be replaced," he assures Sif.

There are, perhaps, faint roses in Sif's own cheeks. But the shade of the forest and the light of the dying sun may well have caused all that. Not the heat in her cheeks at all, not even when he kisses her hand in return.
"If he — if any man were to win me, it would not be through games and trickery. It would be through gentleness and bravery. If one sought to win my heart, it would be through making my heart /wish/ to be won. For some," she adds softly, "that would not be so hard as others."
She straightens then, gazing down at her hands before straightening. "I /am/ the one who stands always at your shield-hand," she says, clearing her throat. "And well that you do not forget it. We will still be friends after this game. Shall we try to recruit Fandral? He may be well into his cups now. Or well into the hands of whichever barmaid takes his fancy."

Thor laughs merrily. "I cannot imagine you being 'won' by any man," he chuckles assuringly at Sif, not quite squeezing her fingers, but not releasing them, either. "You will pick yours and pursue him to the gates of Hel itself, if that is your heart's desire," he says with a whimsical, crooked grin. "And woe and blessings to that man," he adds, "for he will be a most lucky fellow, trying to hold on to a hurricane. Any man worth the name should relish that chance, and you deserve only the fellow willing to hold on."
Suddenly aware of his words and his grasps, Thor coughs slightly and makes a show of adjusting his reins. "Aye, Fandral would make a good recruit," he states aloud. "And Hogun as well, and Volstagg, if we can find him not cowering somewhere," Thor mutters.
He turns to look at Sif, again, emotions washing over his face. "I am glad we can speak thus, my dear friend," he says, his countenance grateful. "I know Loki is my brother but there are times I feel… I feel as if you are closer to my heart than even he. Speak not to him of this," he quickly adds. "He is insecure and jealous as it is. But it seems you are a step closer to my thoughts than even I am. How is it you think so far ahead of me?"

She's grinning at that, even if it is a bit sadly. The man she chooses may be dimmer than a penny candle. "He will also need the wit to know — "
Sif pauses then, her head snapping to one side. "That path. Did you see it? I would swear to you it was not there before; the town surely lies at the end of that. Come! We may catch up to Fandral yet and give him the choice of who to join with. He shall stand before the both of us and we shall allow him fair choice."
She urges her mare a step forward. "Catch the hurricane, my friend. Come along!" Spurring her mare, they canter down the shadowy forest path.

Thor blinks. Catch the… He shakes his head. No, surely she can't mean him. "Aye, m'Lady!" he shouts, spurring his horse to try and catch up to Sif, grinning broadly at the simple pleasure of the chase. "If ever there was a hurricane I'd chase, 'twould be you!" he shouts, passing her on their chase towards the village.

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