Loki had begun his holiday evening by warming his spirits at the Gangplank. Inside the pub, Loki enjoyed the familiar smell of brewing spirits and fresh bread which always appealed to him, especially during cold windy nights. Outside he could see the snow piling up along the edge and the sea had left frost lines where the waves licked the side walls. He smiled mischievously to himself as he tipped back the red whiskey and headed for the door. The visitors and port workers would be inside readying themselves for tomorrow, others would peruse the bars, and some few… well, anything could happen in this town.
It was brisk outside, no matter how many layers the wind still bit through to the core. Loki blew into his hands and then put his gloves on, quickly reaching the port and set to work on the unwatched crates. Dozens and dozens of crates, barrels, and cases ready to be loaded or unloaded. The port was mostly barren, but to little Loki this was his gold mine. He looked for special things, not necessarily valuable if they were useful or interesting.
Loki pulled his knife out and with the adrenaline rush of a thrilled rock climber set to working the crates open one by one. He rummaged past coins and jewelry when he discovered them, anyone could knick that stuff. The other children of New Babbage would find it and fence it for their own individual needs. Loki liberated a few items that he knew the locals needed, such as a set of flasks that the Doctor Jekyl might use. Some fine tobacco for Mr. Wright would be appreciated. There were some fine feathery hats, one in particular would look great on Miss Garnet.
Loki heard a loud clang behind him, he dropped the stack of books he was hoarding and the rest of his gathered treasures. A weather vane clattered to the ground from a nearby roof where it was still rolling. The metal appeared to be snapped by force.
Loki froze for a moment, feeling his hairs standing on his back and his tail bristle. He looked around but he couldn’t perceive any danger above or in the alleys. He backed up against his pile baring his tiny sharp teeth and flexing his claws. Loki hunched down onto all fours and went into a full run and jumped onto the pier wall. Loki had never met a better climber than himself, but tonight as fear gripped him he slipped and fell back to the pier with a surprised shout.
He twisted his body and landed on all fours into the snow, thankfully unharmed. Something moved above him, but he couldn’t tell from where. Frustrated, Loki screamed into the night, “WHERE ARE YOU!?”
No one responded. The pier was silent in the dead wake of this holiday evening. Loki quickly lunged for the wall again. This time he made it over the wall and was running as fast as his little limbs would carry him towards his cave, Haven. He finished his run into a dead halt as a shadow passed between him and the lamppost. He turned his blue and green eyes towards the light but he saw nothing. His lungs and arms felt like they could have produced steam into the frozen night air. Loki could almost sense something unnatural, like a dream, making Haven seem far away. He hesitated a moment wondering at the identity of the hidden threat. Loki began to fear that he had upset Steam Santa, or that the Krampus or Creaky Gloom was stalking him.
He shuddered and then lunged for the cave door slamming it shut before he tumbled down the stairs. Loki came to a solid, painful landing on his bum with his legs sprawled out in front of him. He was home now, and able to breathe the warm steamy air of his Haven. As soon as he was able to catch his breath and relax he stood up and made his way to his treasure pile for comfort. He paused as he looked at his trinkets and whispered to himself, “If this was an olympic sport Ida had gold.”
Loki opened his coat and emptied some of the smaller trinkets into the pile. He’d lost everything but a few screws, a fuse, and a small anatomy book for kids: Heads, shoulders, knees, and toes.
“Where are we, young one?” Something giggled behind Loki, making his hackles rise. The voice sounded hollow as it echoed against the cave walls. “A little thieves den?”
Loki looked up and plotted a hasty escape route. There was no light on the ceiling, the illumination came from outside the room, but he saw five red eyes piercing the darkness and staring at Loki. It edged closer, several legs moving along the ceiling slowly.
Loki shivered uneasily before crouching to the floor. He knew better than to think it would not notice him, nervously he drew out his knife and reached for one of his treasures. The creature giggled wickedly again, making his hackles rise. Loki began to shout whatever came to mind, “You lewks like a drowned rat, a bad Vangu painting and aint exageratin. And here is yer tea and enclair!” He threw his little knife into the darkness but he didn’t hear anything but metal hitting rock.
“They were right about you precious dears. You are such violent little thieves. I hope there will be more of you coming soon.” The voice spoke with an evil mirth that chilled Loki’s heart, but he hadn’t stayed to watch if his knife had done any good. He was already trying to escape behind a bookcase he had used to hide the back exit to the surface. He was barely a fourth of the way out of the passage when the bookcase was thrown aside, books and all, by the monster.
Loki turned back and fired the treasure he had grabbed in his haste, shooting a flare to cover his escape. The creature laughed wickedly as the flare struck and ignited on the wall, it had not even entered the passage yet. Loki retreated up the stairs as the creatures steps and laughter resounded after him, growing closer with every second until Loki was sure it was about to reach out and grab him.
Loki crashed into the trap door at the end and thrust it open, relieved that he had cleaned the snow off recently, and escaped into an outdoor pub under construction. Loki didn’t stop running through the snow, over ice-covered roads, ignoring his falls and skinned knees, until he reached the Imperial Theater and his friends.