It rose in the north. A god called “Manchester.” No one knew whence it came. Some said that whoever had founded it had trapped the Red Lord deep in its metal guts. But the king who brought only chaos was not missed. In fact, among the Celtic gods and Pendragon’s Court, his absence was toasted. It was their great mistake. A familiar foe is better than a new one.
In the days that followed, they all would wish that they had crushed it when they were able. Instead they let it grow. Otherworld is the subconscious of the British Isles, the home of all magical. Even among the creatures of fantasy, this unfamiliar thing stunk of the strange.
Eventually, the warped sky-blackening curiosity marched. A suburb strode south. Where it walked, the soil turned black. Its destination was the great rift of the underfolk. The trolls did not take its coming kindly but the city’s many-winged Engels filled the sky and the underfolk could not oppose them.
The gods now squat over the rift. The trolls are now more brutal Engels. It is a god called Birmingham. The first child of Manchester.
Manchester sired more spawn. And the wise men felt sure, if left to their own devices, they would consume its magic and leave only dead soil. They must be stopped.
And so a parley was attended. The gods and lords of Otherworld, among them Captain Britain, met with the messenger of the Manchester Gods, a silver-metal-like gentleman who informs them that gods should rule them no more. They rule their gods. They live in them. The old gods’ time of power is over. The time of the Manchester Gods has begun.
So war it was. Fear grew that the Pendragon throne would be engulfed in fire and iron. They called for aid. Caber, the singer of the bards set forth and travelled to Asgardia where he told the story.
But at the end, the All-Mother of Asgardia refuses. Otherworld must stand alone. Thor protests angrily and is told to hold his tongue. Freyja explains they understand the pain of the Tuatha, but the Council of Godheads’ rules remain. They must honor the pact of non-interference in internal matters. All pantheons stand alone. Idun recalls that when the Serpent returned that’s exactly the reason why Otherworld didn’t help Asgard.
Caber protests this is different. The Manchester Gods threaten divinity itself. The All-Mother retorts this does not change the pact. Gaea recalls the time before the pact. Constant war between the pantheons, broken only by the dance of alliances. No matter how much they wish to help them, they cannot. Caber leaves and Thro storms out in fury.
The All-Mother asks Loki to join them in the ruin garden. Freyja suggests he take a trip to Otherworld. What about the pact of non-interference? he asks nervously. He’s interferey. Famously so. Exactly, the three women agree. He is a private citizen of legendary unruly character. The idea that he is acting with their mandate is ludicrous. Who would believe it? Despite some periods of strife the Celtic powers are closely aligned with Asgard. It would be in Asgardia’s interest for Otherworld to be at peace. He is to do what he can.
Loki storms into Leah’s cave happily. He informs his dog, Thori, that he will stay with uncle Volstagg. Isn’t that good news? Rip his fat belly open! the surly pup snarls. He knew he’d be excited, Loki agrees cheerfully.
Leah asks what is going on. He tells her to prepare bags of travel swiftly. She has nothing to pack, Leah replies sternly. She only owns one dress. Then their good news is doubled, he decides. Firstly, they are off to Britain. Secondly, they don’t need to check any luggage!
Soon they have arrived at Heathrow airport with diplomatic passports, Asgardia apparently being a recognized state. Loki scans the crowd looking for a representative. Easily found, as it is a half naked man with an antlered helmet who introduces himself as Herne the Hunter. He comes to fight the great war? Probably less fight, Loki remarks, but he’ll try and make himself useful. As Herne tries to usher them to the cab, Loki needs to find something first, namely an “I Heart London” shirt. Now he is prepared, he decides.
Does he know the Queen? Loki asks Herne in the car. Leah asks him to excuse Loki. He is a genius of little brain. Where are they going? Herne explains that Otherworld is the reflection of the British Isles. In places of power, one can cross over. Surely there would be places of symbolic power in London? Leah asks. Why not there? Loki agrees. He wants to get his image immortalized alongside the beefeating men!
Herne explains that to cross over there would not be wise. They would appear in the southeast of Otherwolrd with the great rift between them and Avalon’s might. They better travel to the west and they can skirt around. A safer route, Leah summarizes. Loki agrees and again asks if he knows the Queen.
They stop at Stonehenge, where Herne tries to explain to the cabby why there is no fare. Loki runs up to the stone circle in excitement. Herne mutters merchants drive a harder bargain than in his time.
Leah asks how they cross over. Herne explains in places such as this, they are close to the subconscious. They can flow freely between the two. It is but one step if you know which step to make.
One step later, they are in Otherworld, where Caber and a sour Captain Britain wait, not exactly happy to see all the help they are getting is Loki. Extending his hand, Loki cheerfully admits his brother told him all about Captain Britain. Alas, his brother didn’t need to tell him about Loki, Cap retorts and warns him he is watching him. Follow him! he orders.
They ride. So, does he know the Queen? Loki asks Cap. Yes, several. Loki wants to ask more then asks why everything is so quiet. Cap explains that much of the land has been depopulated. The people have been lured from their homes to those city gods. They have to win for the common people’s sakes, Herne agrees.
Several hundred miles of questions about acquaintance with royalty later, they see a castle. “Behold Camelot!” Captain Britain booms and asks them to refrain from the obvious jokes. There are obvious jokes to make? Loki asks interested. Are they related to old people media? When Cap agrees, Loki explains that explains it. He is very cool, you see. Leah facepalms.
They are brought to guest quarters which Loki immediately examines. Leah announces she has a message from her lady. Energy tendrils come from her mouth and Hela informs Loki that his account with Hel still lingers in the red. He is in Otherworld. There is an opportunity to repay Hela. She explains that the Disir wound still will not close.
Loki reminds her that the Disir now work for her. Why can’t they fix it? Hela reminds him of something he should know: it’s easier to destroy than fix. So what should he do? This is a land of magic. Among its greatest treasures is the Holy Grail. One sip from the healing cup is all she needs. Arrange it! she orders and disappears. Her mistress is scary, Loki informs Leah whose throat itches.
Loki joins the heroes in the throne room where King Arthur is holding a rousing speech. Loki whispers to the Lady of the Lake, keeper of the Grail, asking if she could arrange-- She doesn’t even let him finish before she says no. Loki admits to himself they know him too well. He’ll worry about Hela’s ill-timed whims later. He’s never seen a battle before. This will be fun!
One battle of the valleys later, Loki admits that was horrible. Leah informs him only the living think there is glory on battle. The dead know better. Ikol notices Loki is thinking. Loki figures there is a smarter way to win this war than just having everybody take turns hitting each other in the face with hammers. He needs to find it. That’s his boy, Ikol encourages him. “Not comforting, evil me,” Loki replies. “Not comforting at all…”