The Bifrost lights up in all its colors and -
- this might be Midgard, but it is not a part of Midgard she ever saw and not the place she was expecting to be dropped, and there is no Sigyn with her.
She holds Lævateinn ready as a glaive. Maybe her mother feared her sorcery and thought she'd best be sent somewhere deadly under the impression she was meant to survive the trip -
They're on a narrow, snow-filled pass between two sheer cliffs and he's numb with grief and cold and hunger and then, not three miles out, there's a woman.
The visibility is pretty poor here, and a gust of wind somewhere clouds the air between them before he catches more than a glimpse, but he's still certain what he saw. There was no one there, and then there was a woman.
"Have we lost anyone?" he says, bounding to his father's side, and he must sound worried because his father immediately turns around and orders a count.
It'll take half an hour. They've suffered heavy losses but they still number nearly a hundred thousand. They do this every day but there's a limit on how efficient you can make it, checking a host of that size.
"Why?" Nolofinwë says, once they've started, and Findekáno describes what he saw.
"You think it's the Enemy?"
"No. Maybe. No. If he can take on any form he pleases, he'd be incomparably stupid to waste a strategic secret like that on pretending to be an Elf lost in the north."
"You think it's something else?"
A minor Power, maybe, defecting from Valinor to their side. That would be interesting. Or -
- but if any among Fëanor's host did feel any remorse, they wouldn't come alone searching, that was suicide.
"Can I go out ahead?" he asks. He regrets it almost immediately. Nolofinwë's eyes immediately light up with the special anguish he only feels when being a King and being a father come into conflict. "Not far," he promises, and his father wearily nods.
It's cold here. It's not cold enough to bother her, but she's always liked winter and she is wearing her full armor - she is not ostensibly properly banished, she was not stripped of her more portable possessions, she is armed and armored and does not have a thermometer to determine that it's anything more than rather nippy. The bird form might have trouble. No nearby sign of animal life, so she's liable to get hungry, which she can patch with healing spells if she has to but not well. If the swift form is too cold to operate here and fly somewhere more habitable - she should check; she will if she can't find anything else to do or investigate in the area in an hour - then she will have something of a problem with getting any very great distance. Maybe there's at least a cave so she can sleep without being snowed on.
He goes out alone. His father likes saddling him with additional people, knowing he'll take chances with his own life that he'd never take with theirs, but this was his vision and his responsibility, and if it is a trick or a trap the fewer people ensnared in it, the better.
The vaunted Elven ability to walk on snow does not aid you in crossing a continent of ice as much as you might expect. The wagons, for one thing, don't walk on snow. Neither does anything you might eat. You end up fighting your way through snowdrifts several times a day anyway, uncomfortably aware that you're burning calories you can't replace, that every extra exertion means that much more knowing hunger.
And - yep, she's real. Another quick glimpse amidst blowing snow. Short, armored, apparently alone. If the Enemy can pull off a trap like this, he reminds himself, this is the best possible situation to discover it. He moves forward.
...Did she see something out of the corner of her eye? She turns, glaive level and ready.
Not that short after all, but sinking with every step into the snow. So not an Elf. She looks like one, though. He's getting more uneasy the closer he gets. And the constantly-distracting thought of how they'll cope if he doesn't come back is getting louder.
Well, if it came to a fight, he has a significant advantage in mobility. Perhaps he should arrange for their paths to cross in the middle of a snowdrift.
She sees him, at this point, and lifts a weapon. He slips out his sword. All right.
"I am Loki Odinsdottir" (eugh) "of Asgard. And you?"
Well, it doesn't seem likely that the folk of the Outer Lands call their homeland "the Outer Lands".
"Findekáno Astaldo," he says, "Of Nolofinwë of the Noldor," Then he lowers the sword slightly in a way that imposes no combat disadvantage at all but suggests a little bit of friendliness.
In reality, hope is already soaring in his chest. If the people of the Outer Lands are alive and well and armored, they won't be too late and perhaps won't lose any more along the way.
She lowers her glaive a bit likewise. "I have become rather exceedingly lost. Where are we? Is there any sort of civilization nearby?"
"Oh. Is Asgard not nearby?" He lowers the weapon entirely. "The place we left from is several months' travel away, and we're not welcome there in any event."
The blade of her weapon disappears and the thing might as well be a walking stick. "It is not anywhere nearby and the travel cannot be described in terms of months. Where are you headed?"
The weapon vanishes. Well. For a friendly gesture, that's certainly terrifying. And Asgard isn't in the Outer Lands after all. That implies - lots of things, none of them particularly reassuring, but he's not going to leave a friendly stranger to die in this weather. He honestly probably wouldn't leave an enemy to die in this weather. He's seen enough of that. "We're emigrating to the Outer Lands. My grandfather was born there but few among our host have ever been. It was abandoned when we left, but probably isn't now - I thought you were from one of the peoples there."
Headshake. "I'm afraid I know nothing of this realm."
"It doesn't have much to recommend it. Cold, hungry, and if you step in the wrong place you'll die. We lost thirteen people, recently, in an avalanche."
"I had noticed the first two features and the third has even less to recommend it. No one survived the collapse?"
"I'm not yet debilitating amounts of either. I arrived here only very recently. But the sympathy is appreciated."
"Well, I can't do it on my own, either, or I would likely be elsewhere by now. What is a Vala?"
"Is it often that they want to interact with you?" wonders Loki lightly.
He tries to keep the regret out of his voice.
"We grew up with them," he says. "My cousins rode with Oromë, the Vala of the hunt, and his followers - lesser powers. My uncle studied metalworking under Aulë, the Vala of ores and stone and earthworks. My youngest brother spent a decade with Vána, she's Springtime, and recently there was a family dispute that was, uh, mediated by Manwë. He's in charge."
"Ah. Well, they have not visited Asgard to my recollection, but as I have not previously heard of this realm nor heard anyone else take credit for its invention I may as well presume it was they who made it. Complete, I take it, with inhospitable frozen wilderness."
"It is certainly that. And yet here I am and here you are, stuck in it."