The gilded, vaulted halls of Asgard were silent; the usually boisterous revelry subdued. No songs of war and glory were sung, for the mead taps were dry. No boasts were thrown to the air, and no voice answered them in challenge, to all other's merriment. No, Asgard was silent, her vaunted glory lessened. Odin All-Father dreamed in the darkness of the Odinsleep, weary from grief. For Balder Odinsson, Balder the Shining, Lord of Summer and Light, was dead, and winter held Asgard in his cold grasp.

Idunn Fryggasdatter, Lady of the Spring and bearer of the golden apples of immortality, sat in cold fear. For with Balder Bright-Mane slain, and old Winter holding the Apples in his sway, there could be no youth, no life in the home of the gods. Idunn knew that Asgard, indeed the whole of the Nine Realms, could be in danger if the Aesir could not defend their hall. She fell to her knees, weeping in sorrow. "Balder," she said, "My love! Why didst thou leave us to this fate? Where shall we turn in these dark days?" She dried her tears, and rising to her feet, strode purposefully into the throne room.

The great golden throne of Asgard, seat of power for all the realms, dominated the hall. Odin's thrall-seat out of time immemorial. Thor's throne now, thought Idunn, And he looks not a bit comfortable in his father's seat. The mightiest warrior in all the Nine Realms sat weary in a seat that he knew was not made for him, head bowed, chin resting sorrowfully upon the haft of his mighty hammer, the massive, powerful, and deadly Mjolnir. With but a flick of his wrist, Thor could easily strike a blow that could humble the proudest mountain, and make jest of the most devastating earthquake. However, that strength was nowhere to be seen this day. The Mighty Thor Odinsson, wielder of Mjolnir and Prince Regent of Asgard, Lord of the Dane, the Saxon, the Angle and the Hun, was weeping as unto a child.

"O Balder Sun-Bright!" howled Thor, "Thy wholesome countenance doth lay in a ruin! Thine arms are waste, thy voice silent, and thy harp lays still, never again sounded by skillful fingers. O Balder, thou wert mine brother, but thou wert most of all mine greatest friend! To be slain in so foul a manner, pierced by foul dart of mistletoe!"

Suddenly the Thunder Lord's face set into grim lines, making his brave visage look fell and stone hard. Thor Storm-Lord was in great rage, his eyes flashing with the furies of summer lightning, and his voice rang through the hall like the thunder over which held dominion.

"LOKI! Thou fey and loathsome serpent!For a millennium have I tolerated thy mischiefs and wicked tricks! For centuries have I indulged thy excesses, defended thee from the reparations and vengeances of thy victims! For an eon have I protected thee as mine brother, mine kin and mine own blood! But I have seen thine evil ways, and thus I turn from thee! I name thee outcast! I NAME THEE TRAITOR! I NAME THEE FRATRICIDE! I NAME THEE ENEMY, TURNABOUT, AND UNWORTHY OF THE NAME ODINSSON! From this day forth, I proclaim thee anathema, and any Asgardian who finds thee is free to slay thee without fear of reprimand!"

Thor was now standing, Mjolnir in hand. His eyes shone with bolts of blue flame. The air of the throne room crackled with electricity, and thunder rumbled in the roof of the hall. Lady Idunn cringed, fearful that Lord Thor might harm her in his unseeing rage.