On the northern slope of Mount Olympus, lightning struck out of the cloudless blue sky and an oak tree burst into flame.
Glowing brighter than should any normally burning wood, the trunk split. It revealed a perfectly unharmed human baby.
As tree billowed into black ash, the baby rolled onto the ground. Crawled. Toddled. Walked. In moments, it was an adult man, tall and pale with dark hair and eyes the color of rotten snow. The eyes darted left, right, glanced at the sky, down, widening, at the earth.
A grin spread across Loki’s face.
“Excellent!” he said to his invisible audience. “I’m in.”
They used to talk about the mortal realm as a chess game for the gods, but that’s inaccurate. Our world is actually the gods’ MMORPG. They’ve been playing us for the last thousand years of game-time (the stuff before that is just backstory), and some of them take the game more seriously than others. For some gods, there’s real money to be made here. Or, as the case may be, stolen.