Chapter One: A Mother's Unintentional Mistake
My heart pounded violently against the delicate walls of my chest as I stood just a few small steps away from the breathtakingly beautiful Queen of Asgard, and attempted to make sense of the words that she had just so recently spoken. My head immediately began to spin after her seemingly simple request had left her perfectly painted crimson lips, and even though I could easily comprehend each single word that still hung heavy in the air around me, for some reason I could not seem to put them all together inside of my mind. The question that I had obviously just imagined being asked sounded as if it had to have been directed toward someone other than myself, and even though I knew that I was the only other person standing in the room alongside of her, I still could not believe that she was actually speaking to me. It had only been just under a year since I had first entered my service to the Royal Family of Asgard, and even less time than that since I had been solely dedicated to the most elegant queen. There was no logical explanation for exactly as to why I would have been entrusted with such a delicate matter so early on in my employ, and the fact that I didn't know how exactly to phrase my concern to the queen made me feel idiotic, and completely unworthy of my station. Finally, after many silent moments of personal contemplation and self-flagellation, I finally lifted my eyes back up toward the soft blue stare of Queen Frigga as I slowly gained the courage to eventually part my now incredibly dry feeling lips.
"I apologize, My Queen, but I believe that I must have misheard what it is that you have asked of me. Could you please repeat the task that you wish for me to complete?" I stuttered out without the slightest semblance of grace as I swallowed thickly inside of my painfully dry throat, and then narrowed my gaze toward the angelic appearing woman standing before me. Queen Frigga smiled warmly as she took a small step in my direction, and then carefully licked her lips as she folded her hands just at the small of her long slim back.
"Seraphina, I believe that we both are very well aware that you heard me quite clearly, but that my request has so obviously put your nerves on edge. May I ask you what about the task that I have requested of you causes you to worry so?" Queen Frigga asked as her eyes stayed fixed intently on mine even though she continued to gracefully move about the expansive beautifully decorated room surrounding us. I swallowed thickly fearing that she was now angry with me due to my foolish hesitance, but I forced myself to answer her question just the same.
"I do not worry, My Queen. It is just that I fear…that possibly I am not the correct person for such an important task. I would be sick with myself if I were ever to let you down." I answered quickly as I dropped my eyes down to the floor just beneath my feet and reminded myself of my mother's advice that one should always take ownership of their faults when dealing with the aristocracy. I heard the queen sigh from just a few steps away from me as my embarrassment immediately flooded my face, and a thin sheen of sweat quickly began to bead up onto the palms of my hands as I desperately feared what it was that she was about to say next.
"Seraphina, your mother has been in service to me since before you were born. Signy has been one of my greatest assets when it has come to keeping order in my husband's kingdom, and ever since you have come into my employ, you have followed in her footsteps quite pleasingly as well." The Queen began as I slowly lifted my eyes at the mention of my mother, and also the generous compliment that Queen Frigga had just given to us both.
"You are very diligent, thorough, and careful as you attend to your duties within Asgard's Kingdom, and your loyalty to my family has not gone unnoticed. With all of that being said and all of your other talents that you have shown so far, I also believe that you are a young woman quite capable of keeping secrets when it is most necessary. Would I be correct in that assumption, my dear?" She asked in a soft, but still slightly authoritative voice as she tilted her head toward me, and immediately appeared to search my face for any deception lying hidden beneath my expression.
"Oh of course, My Queen. I have dedicated myself completely to your service, and most importantly to you. I would never breathe a word regarding any of my work here at the palace to anyone, I swear to it." I answered quickly as I reminded myself that being one of the personal attendants to the queen was a most coveted position within my realm, and the fact that I had gained such a title at such a young age had been a blessing from the gods to say the least.
"Your dedication is more appreciated than you truly know, Seraphina, and it is also why I have called you here today. The task that I have requested of you would be a personal favor to me, and if anyone other than those that I myself have already involved were to find out about it…well that would be quite damaging to say the very least." Queen Frigga continued as she began slowly moving across the floor in front of me in a beautiful glide that caused her to appear as if she was walking on air like the very goddess that she appeared to be. I swallowed thickly once again sensing the importance of her request lingering in her suddenly urgent tone, and then I narrowed my eyes in slight suspicion.
"My Queen, if I may be so bold, does King Odin know what it is that you have asked of me?" I stuttered nervously as I quickly realized before my words had even completely left my lips that I had greatly overstepped my bounds. The queen smiled to herself as she slowly shook her head.
"My husband thinks with the mind of a king and the heart of a warrior, Seraphina. He does not concern himself with such foolish matters that require more than a simple nod of his head or a flash of his sword." She said as she lifted one of her hands up to the golden blonde curls that were beginning to fall from the elaborate design of her up drawn hair, and then appeared to magically put them all back into their rightful places with barely any movement at all.
"How will he not learn of my visits every day? The king's royal guard protect the walls of the prison and if I am seen…" I started as I felt fear quickly wash over me at the thought of meeting the wrath of King Odin so early on in my young life, but I quickly halted in my question just as Queen Frigga quickly lifted one of her hands up into the air between us, immediately silencing my fears. You truly must learn to hold your tongue, Seraphina.
"My dear child, I would never let any harm come to you when you are doing such a favor for me. The guardsmen that patrol the prison are all well aware of my request, and they have agreed to also exercise complete discretion in this matter. All that I need from you is to report to the prison every morning before you attend to your duties to me, and to make sure that my son is alright." She said quickly as I noticed that with her last few words her breath hitched ever so slightly inside of her throat, and her eyes filled with an emotion appearing too strong for her to bear. I nodded obediently as I felt a sadness move through me that I knew was not truly my own.
"I have heard rumors that the prince will not let anyone in to see him, My Queen, and that the last man that tried…." I started as I tried to mask the fear that suddenly edged in my voice, but I knew that my attempt was completely futile in its result. The queen took a small step forward as soon as I had finished, and then she slowly met my nervous emerald eyes with her soft aquamarine orbs just before she finally spoke once again.
"My son has made some very poor decisions and because of those decisions and his incredibly impulsive actions, he will be forced to sit in the dungeons beneath the kingdom that he believes that he was born to rule for the rest of his days. Relinquishing power is not something that Loki will ever do of his own free will, and therefore he refuses to let go of the small amount of control that he has left. The prince no longer allows soldiers into his cell because he believes that they are beneath him, and no matter how much he has lost over the years, he still so desperately clings to the remains of his pride." She carefully explained as I could tell that she could not completely bring herself to acknowledge what had happened the last time that a guard had attempted to gain access to Prince Loki's cell without his permission. I took in a deep breath as I let the queen's words continue to replay slowly inside of my mind, and then I forced a polite smile onto my face.
"I would never deny a request from you, My Queen. I am completely in your service, and therefore I am in service to the entire Royal Family of Asgard. I will begin my visits to the prince first thing tomorrow morning, and I will report back to you post haste so that you are ensured of his wellbeing." I said with mock enthusiasm as I remembered that I was in no place to even attempt to argue with the Queen of Asgard, and that any hesitation on my part would only land me in far more trouble than I was truly prepared to endure.
"Oh Seraphina, thank you. You have no idea what this means to me. Loki hasn't been accepting food for the past few days and I worry so that he will soon become ill. Everything will be prepared for you to retrieve before you go to him tomorrow morning, and your kind service will most certainly not go unrewarded. I knew that I could entrust this task with you, My Dear, I just knew it." The Queen gushed as she surprisingly threw her arms around me, and then hugged me tightly to her thin swan like frame as emotion appeared to completely overwhelm her. My breath escaped me in a rush as I felt shock flood over me from the queen's sudden unexpected embrace, and then I carefully hugged her in return just before she finally released me from her incredibly affectionate hold.
"I do not mean to be difficult, My Queen, but I do have one last question if that is alright?" I asked timidly realizing immediately that I should have just left well enough alone, but knowing full well that was just simply not in my nature. Queen Frigga nodded absentmindedly as she once again began moving around the expansive room that we stood in, suddenly appearing as if she had much more important things to do than discuss anything further with me.
"Of course, what is it, My Dear?" She asked as she began plucking books from one of the many tall bookshelves lining her library walls, and then gently setting them down onto the perfectly polished writing desk that sat just beside her. I sucked in a deep breath as I pondered how exactly to word my last query, and then finally I forced myself to speak regardless if I was truly ready or not.
"If Prince Loki will not allow the royal guard to enter his cell because he believes that they are beneath him, well then why in all of the nine realms would he allow in a simple attendant of his mother's? As far as social status dictates, I fall far beneath them. Why would he accept my aide and not theirs?" I asked as I narrowed my gaze toward the queen, and then took a small step forward in completely forged confidence. Queen Frigga released a deep breath as she slowly turned back away from her bookshelf, and then she carefully lowered her gaze to mine. She smiled sweetly as she folded her hands delicately in front of her body, and then she slowly parted her lips once again.
"Over the years, my son has been accused of many things, Seraphina. He has been named a trickster, a master of deception, and even most recently a murderous monster that takes the lives of those that have been completely innocent of any crime. However, no matter what is said about my son there is one thing that he is that not even his foolish pride can seem to rival as of yet." She started as she took a step closer toward me, and appeared to be attempting to mask a smile that desperately fought to take over her thin still perfectly painted lips. I tilted my head toward her carefully in anticipation as I anxiously awaited for her to finish.
"And, what is that, My Queen?" I asked waiting for a poetic answer regarding the high moral standards that she was certain were still instilled inside of the boy that she had raised and still loved so deeply with all of her heart, but ironically that was not at all the response that I was so quickly given.
"A man." She said carefully with a slightly hesitant smile, and with those two words, I felt my heart sink quickly into the pit of my stomach just as a chill moved up from the very base of my spine. Deep in my heart I knew that the queen had absolutely no intention of putting me in harm's way, but her indication that I was going to be allowed into the most feared criminal in all of Asgard's cell based primarily on my feminine form, well that made me quite nervous no matter if he was her son or not. Unfortunately, allowing my fear to consume me in a situation where I truly had no control I knew would do nothing more than to hurt my chances of successfully completing my assigned task, and I knew better than anyone that I could not afford to disappoint the queen. Instead, I needed to swallow the anxiety that was quickly bubbling up from deep inside of me, and confidently follow my instructions just as they had been given. The next morning I would visit the queen's youngest son in the darkened dungeons of Asgard's prison, and I would be nothing but delightful when it came to attending to his needs. I would do all of this, and I would pray that I would then make it out in one piece.
Later that evening, I found myself lying wide awake in the tangled mess of my own once perfectly arranged bed sheets, and staring up at the ceiling of my chamber's as I forcefully attempted to push the fear of the day ahead of me far from my worry some young mind. I reminded myself that I had no reason at all to even slightly question the queen's request of me as she had always been incredibly kind, and that my best course of action for the night ahead of me would be to get some much needed rest. Slowly, as I began to finally drift off into a slightly fitful night's sleep, I allowed my mind to wander back to a day many months before when Prince Thor had first returned to Asgard after capturing his younger brother who had nearly destroyed a fair portion of his most beloved Midgardian realm. I remembered the oldest prince leading the younger one shackled in chains through the main square of our city like a warrior's trophy on display, and I also remembered the thick plate of metal that had sealed Prince Loki's mouth shut, causing my stomach to churn just from the barbaric sight of it. My heart had ached as I saw the shame looming behind the darkened stare of the prince that I had never even personally met before that day, and the tears that I had witnessed falling from his mother's eyes that had nearly caused a few of my own to slide down my face as well. At the time, I had been certain that there was much more to the story than what I had been told regarding Prince Loki's decent into madness which had eventually led to his imprisoned return, and I still believed that to be true even as I lay in my bed that early autumn night. There just simply was no logical explanation for as to why the prince would have resorted to such self-destructive behavior unless he had a very good reason, and the fact that our kingdom had cast him out before even attempting to understand him had left a very unpleasant taste inside of my mouth. I knew that there had to be more to the prince's fall than just the sickening rumors that flooded the inside of the kingdom's walls, and lucky for me, I just so happened to be on the verge of possibly finding out.
When morning finally came after what felt like an eternity of laying in my bed chambers pretending to be asleep, I quickly jumped from the discomfort of my modest sized bed, and immediately sped into motion. I dressed myself in my favorite cobalt blue floor length casual gown, and then I carefully twisted my long golden brown hair up into an intricate design behind my head praying that for once it would actually remain at least somewhat in its place. I splashed a bit of rose water at the base of my neck just before slipping on my most visually pleasing pair of work shoes, and then I rushed into the main portion of my house to join the rest of my family for our day's first meal. I socialized absentmindedly with my mother as I pretended that I wasn't terribly anxious about the day ahead of me that to her knowledge was just like any other, and then I quickly kissed my father goodbye just before he set off for his usual daily work at the kingdom's training halls. As soon as he was gone and my mother was otherwise occupied with my older brother, I slipped silently out of the confines of my narrow front door, and then moved hastily into the nearby forest which would eventually lead me to the palace's golden walls. I hummed softly to myself as I moved as fast as I could down the same path that I took every single morning, and then finally after what seemed like a nearly endless journey, I eventually reached my morning's first destination.
"Good morning, Kelda." I called happily with a bright smile as I moved quickly into the palace kitchen, and then back toward one of the many iceboxes lining the far wall in order to search for the package that I had been assured would be waiting there for me to retrieve.
"Good morning, Seraphina. It's awfully early for you to be in today. What brings you to us at such an unexpected hour?" The palace's head cook, and one of my dearest friends asked as she wiped a slight sheen of sweat from her pale forehead just before turning around toward where I stood, wearing her usual beautifully bright shining smile.
"Oh, I just have to pick up some food for Prince…Thor… for his training today. He will not be able to make it back to the palace in order to dine with the queen, so I was asked to pack up some nourishment in order to keep him agile." I lied shakily as I finally pulled a large basket of food from the far corner of the tallest ice box, and then began moving quickly back in the direction of the kitchen's entrance and toward my true destination.
"Oh how lucky you are, Seraphina. Nearly every maiden in the kingdom would kill to be able to visit the prince while he is training. The queen must be very pleased with you as of late to give you such a coveted task." Kelda said with a smile as she nodded her head toward me in admiration, and then brushed some of her fiery red hair away from the side of her sweat soaked face. I rolled my eyes at the once again unneeded comment regarding the oldest prince that I honestly did not find even mildly attractive, and then forced an amused smile onto my quite tensely held face.
"Ah, yes. I am sure that many of the fine young maidens in Asgard would kill to work as a servant to the royal family instead of living lives of their own outside of these shimmering golden walls." I answered sarcastically as I finally once again reached the kitchen's main entrance, and then desperately attempted to mask the intense anxiety that was quickly taking over my entire form.
"To be able to gaze upon Prince Thor while he is sparring with the other soldiers and covered in a glorious sheen of his own glistening sweat? Yes, Seraphina, they most definitely would." Kelda said as she winked playfully in my direction just before turning back to the large pot that she had previously been so diligently watching over. I rolled my eyes as I smiled just before bidding my friend a silent goodbye, and then I moved as quickly as I could out of the palace kitchen and toward the servant's back door.
My journey to the Asgard Prison was incredibly short, but more nerve wrecking than a trip through the northern mountains which as of late had been deemed nearly impossible to pass. The food basket that I carried tightly in my grasp had nearly met the earth beneath my feet more than just once due to my own nervously shaking hands, and by the time that I had finally reached the tall prison walls, I was having a hard time steadying my own uneven breath. Anxiety, fear, and the thrill of the unknown swirled around inside of me as I moved somewhat hesitantly into the large stone entrance that opened up into the main hall of the massive penitentiary, and even though I knew that I should be completely terrified of entering such a place, I couldn't help but feel a small amount of excitement coursing through my practically throbbing veins. The guards that watched me pass as I made my way quickly down toward the dimly lit dungeon carved into the earth just beneath the prison floors all nodded at me in an unspoken understanding as I moved, but no one spoke a word to me as I continued toward my quite dangerous destination. By the time that I reached the lowest level of the holding area I feared that I would not hear a single word from anyone during my entire trip through the darkness, but then just before I rounded my last corner that I was told would lead to Prince Loki's cell, I felt a strong grip suddenly catch one of my slightly shaking slender arms.
"And, what exactly do you think that you are doing, young one?" A deep and authoritative voice asked from behind me just before I quickly spun around on my heels in sudden alarm.
"I was sent here at the request of the queen. What exactly do you think that are you doing, old one? I asked with my last words coming out quite sarcastically as I turned around to meet the soft eyes, and flaming crimson beard of the actually incredibly kindhearted warrior known as Volstagg.
"Seraphina? You are the one that the queen has sent to attend to Prince Loki? Does your brother know that you are here? Your father?" Volstagg asked with concern immediately flooding his previously stern voice as he pulled me slightly closer toward him, and then finally dropped his grip on my now slightly tender left arm. I shook my head quickly as I raised a finger up to my lips, and then hushed his abrupt outburst before everyone in the entire realm heard his exaltation.
"Hush, please! You know that my being here cannot reach the ears of the king. No one in my family or otherwise knows that I am here, and as you know, we must keep it that way." I warned as I narrowed my eyes at one of the strongest warriors in all of the kingdom as he stared down at me as if I was his own daughter whom he had just caught committing the most devious of crimes.
"I suspected that she would send a maiden, but I had hoped that I would be wrong. How could the queen be so careless with someone so fair? How could she put you in so much danger?" Volstagg asked more to himself than to me as I stood anxiously before him awaiting him to finish so that I could actually get on with my assigned dangerous task. I sighed as I took a step forward and then carefully placed one of my hands onto his thickly muscled scar covered forearm.
"The queen has her reasons, and we should never question her will. She has assured me that I am in no danger, and I have no reason to distrust her promise. Now, please escort me to Prince Loki's cell before dawn fully breaks. I have heard that the prince does not even allow anyone to get past his cell door anyhow, so please do not continue to worry yourself for what appears to be nothing." I said with a smile of reassurance as I began moving back in the direction that I had originally been travelling, and tightened my grip on the basket that I absentmindedly still held. Volstagg laughed low within his belly as he turned and began to slowly walk beside me just before knowingly nodding his head in my direction.
"Oh, he will let you in, Seraphina. The question is, will he let you out?" He asked playfully as he continued to laugh happily to himself. That was when my nerves once again came to life painfully beneath my skin, and quickly reminded me of the possibly dangerous situation that I had most recently put myself in at the request of the queen. Had I been foolish to accept a task that even one of the fiercest warriors in the land believed to be unsafe? Did the queen truly still know her son well enough to ensure my safety even after everything that he had most recently done? And lastly, why in the name of all of the nine realms was I questioning all of this now knowing full well that there was absolutely no way out of this nerve wrecking situation now that I had actually fully committed to my agreement?
After a few moments of mentally questioning the decision that I had made to adhere to the queen's will and also moving as slowly as possible toward Prince Loki's cell in order to buy even just a small amount of extra time, Volstagg finally led me to the end of the darkened hallway in which we had been travelling, and then stopped abruptly just before the last remaining cell. He released a heavy sigh as he nodded toward the glass encased imprisonment just to my right hand side, and then he crossed his thick arms over the massive expanse of his chest just before he finally spoke.
"Here we are, My Lady." Volstagg announced formally as he turned toward me slightly, and then once again nodded his head slowly. I narrowed my eyes as I looked into the clear glass cell that was embossed with thousands of golden spell bound symbols, and then I turned back toward the friend at my side in slight confusion.
"There is no one inside." I said as I once again scanned the seemingly empty cell before me for any signs of the prince just before realizing that the warrior at my side was most likely having a bit of unnecessary fun at my expense. Volstagg laughed once again as he nodded his head, and then smiled sardonically in my direction.
"Oh, he is in there, Seraphina. Prince Loki is a master of illusions, and quite skilled at deception. He will let no one see him in this way, and hasn't ever since he first arrived." He said as he stepped forward toward a small door carved into the glistening glass just to his left side, and then motioned for me to follow him.
"So, I am just to walk in unannounced? That doesn't seem proper at all. Shouldn't I ask for permission before I just enter so rudely?" I asked as I watched Volstagg begin to unlock the cell in front of him rather than take my advice and somehow at least attempt to announce my most likely unexpected arrival.
"Oh, he knows that you are here, Seraphina. We might not be able to see him, but you can be certain that the prince can see us. If he didn't want you to come in, well then he simply wouldn't allow you to come in." He said as I watched the last bolt slide out of place carefully beneath Volstagg's thick fingertips. I swallowed thickly as I turned my eyes back toward the warrior in confusion, and then uneasily cleared my throat.
"How can he just not let someone in? He is the prisoner." I said trying to reassure myself that I was in fact still quite safe, and also stress the insanity of this strange situation to anyone that would listen. Volstagg laughed at my obvious naivety.
"Seraphina, this cell is locked with the strongest of steel, spelled by one of the most powerful witches in all of our realm, and wherever the prince hides inside, he is bound so that he may not even attempt to escape. Unfortunately, what even the strongest of warriors and wisest of minds have yet to figure out is how exactly to restrain Prince Loki's mind. The last guard that attempted to enter without the permission that the prince believed that he needed to have was electrocuted the second that his hand touched the door and was lifted up to Valhalla just a few days after. The fact that I am not screaming in pain before you or lying dead at your feet now that I have touched this door, well that means that he is in fact allowing you to come inside." He explained as he reached out for my hand with a kind smile, and then reassuringly nodded his head. I swallowed thickly as I carefully took Volstagg's hand and then allowed him to pull me slightly closer toward the thankfully un-electrified door before us. I took another hesitant step toward the cell before me, preparing myself to finally walk in, but then was suddenly halted by my warrior friend's hand.
"Before you enter, I would like to give you one last word of advice if I may, Seraphina. Do not believe the things that you see or hear when you are enclosed in that cell with the prince no matter how real they might seem. The queen loves her son with a mother's heart, and therefore she is blinded to the true damage that he can and has already created. She might have insured your safety when she assigned you to this task, but in the end, it is only you who can decide your fate. Be safe, child. Trust nothing." Volstagg said in an unusually serious tone as he nodded carefully toward me, and held his intense gaze tightly in on mine. I nodded in understanding as I felt my stomach tighten quickly into knots, but I could not seem to find the words to reply no matter how hard that I tried. Instead, I simply stepped past Volstagg carefully after giving him a thankful smile, and then I hesitantly walked into Prince Loki's cell.
Bright beautifully glistening lights shone down from the ceiling above my head, and immediately illuminated one of the most finely furnished cells that I had ever in my life before seen just as I heard the cell door lock tightly shut behind me. Antique appearing furniture was strewn in a calculated madness around the space that I silently stood in, and stacks of leather bound books sat on small oak table tops in perfect neatness. The clear glass case surrounding me shimmered with the beautiful magic writing that I had first witnessed on its other side just a few moments before, and the angry faces of monsters that seemed far more terrifying than even those in my darkest of dreams stared back at me from the cell's lining the opposing dungeon wall. My heartbeat began to speed up more rapidly inside of my chest as I searched the small space around me for the prisoner that I had been assured was indeed actually inside, but before I could make out the figure of the prince that I was so desperately attempting to find, a thick velvet lined voice spoke softly from the cell's other side.
"Who are you?" A slightly heavy raspy voice of a man that I still could not see asked as I quickly turned around suddenly consumed with the fear that I had sworn to myself that I would not show.
"I…My name is Seraphina, Your Highness. I was sent here by the queen." I stuttered as my voice wavered slightly from deep inside of my throat, and my eyes continued to uselessly search for the man that I still could not see no matter how hard that I tried. The soft rumble of dark laughter echoed throughout the walls surrounding me, and quickly began to push at my skin causing goose bumps to suddenly erupt over the entire expanse of my now trembling form.
"Of course you were. You appear nervous, Seraphina. I hope that I have not caused you distress so early in your visit." The Prince taunted sarcastically as his voice dropped an octave and seemed to finally snake beneath my skin seeping immediately inside of my veins. I shook my head as I gripped the basket that I had nearly forgotten that I still held tightly in my hands, and attempted to ignore the voice inside of me that suddenly begged me to leave the prince's cell immediately before things became drastically worse.
"No, My Lord, of course not. I…it is just that I cannot see you. It puts me slightly on edge." I whispered as I nearly choked on my words, and then carefully cleared my throat just before immediately straightening my stance. There was a silence, and then suddenly the glistening light above my head faded, and the prince's carefully placed illusion dropped quickly from around my anxious form.
The cell surrounding me immediately felt as cold as a late winter's day as I finally saw the space around me for what it truly was, and not the grand illusion that the prince had originally forced me to see. The furniture that I had so deeply admired only a few moments before was now broken into hundreds of small pieces and scattered across the hard floor beneath me, and was stained with a red substance that I couldn't quite clearly identify. The books that had been stacked neatly on the table tops when I had first walked in were now torn completely to shreds, and their remaining pieces were littering the cell floor as if they were disregarded garbage. Blackened marks that appeared to be from some sort of fire made jagged patterns on the cell's four walls that now felt as if they were closing in on me, and then as I turned to the opposite corner of the room, I finally took in Prince Loki himself staring back at me in complete silence.
Until that moment standing in his suddenly freezing cold cell at the request of Queen Frigga herself, I had never before been close enough to the youngest Prince of Asgard to ever actually fully admire his truly breathtaking masculine beauty. With skin as fair as the finest porcelain ever sculpted and hair darker than the latest hour of night, Prince Loki sat leaned against the wall just a few feet away from where I stood, and watched me carefully studying him with hauntingly bright ocean colored eyes. His long legs were outstretched in front of him revealing his large slightly dirtied bare feet, and the muscles just beneath his nearly perfect alabaster colored skin tightly began to flex as he appeared to hold his lean frame just slightly more tensed as my eyes continued to absentmindedly run over him. The angles of the prince's features were sharp and looked as if they had been carved from stone leaving his unreadable expression frozen onto his face, and I quickly noticed that the slightly reddened flesh of his lips was beginning to crack just as his mouth opened in order to finally address me properly.
"Do you see me now, my sweet Seraphina?" Prince Loki asked as his voice quickly brought me back to reality, and caused my skin to blush with pure embarrassment.
"Yes, My Lord, thank you." I stuttered as I swallowed thickly against the sudden dryness of my throat, and also attempted to ignore the way that the prince's eyes were roaming over my flesh causing heat to rise in my cheeks even more intensely than before.
"Why is it that you are here, My Sweet? Ensuring that I am not planning an elaborate escape?" The Prince asked as his lips curled up into a humorless smile that did not quite touch the hauntingly beautiful bluish green pools that caused my own eyes to pale immensely in comparison. I swallowed as I shook my head quickly, and then forced myself to take a step forward in a confidence that I honestly did not truly have.
"No, I am here at the request of your mother, Queen Frigga. She is very worried about you, and she has asked that I attend to you since…well since…you do not prefer the royal guard." I stuttered attempting to keep my answer as polite as possible considering the fact that I was still addressing a prince.
"You are to attend to me? How exactly do you plan on accomplishing that?" Prince Loki asked as his eyes moved over me once again causing a light uneasy feeling to settle low in my stomach, and his words to penetrate my skin immediately making me feel incredibly uncomfortable.
"Um…Queen Frigga heard that you have not been eating. She fears that you are ill, and so I have brought you some food from the palace." I choked out attempting to cool my cheeks as I explained my intentions the best that I could. The prince watched me carefully, and then he pushed himself slightly away from the wall that he sat leaned against, causing me to take a quick step back nearly tripping over my own feet. Prince Loki's laughter rang loudly throughout the cell around me before I was even able to completely right myself once again. My embarrassment caused by my foolish actions was monumental.
"Relax, My Sweet. As you can see, I have been rendered harmless." He said as he slowly lifted his hands from his lap where they had rested, and displayed brightly shining handcuffs that appeared to tightly bind his hands together. I narrowed my eyes as I took a strangely brave step forward.
"Are those quite necessary, My Lord? You are in here alone, what harm could you cause?" I asked as I suddenly felt worry for the man sitting before me for some unknown reason, even though I had been nearly terrified of him only a moment before. The prince tilted his head toward me in confusion as he took in my concerned expression, and then he slowly ran his tongue over his slightly dried bottom lip.
"I'm not alone anymore, am I, Seraphina?" He asked as my name seemed to nearly drip from his tongue like a forbidden word on the lips of an innocent as he so slowly spoke it. I shuddered as I took another step forward and immediately attempted to right myself before I lost my cool once again.
"I suppose that you are correct, My Lord. May I…approach you?" I asked wanting to make sure that I did not cause any unnecessary issue with the strange man sitting before me. Prince Loki nodded carefully in response.
"Please." He said with an amused smile as he motioned with his bound hands for me to move closer. I nodded as I carefully stepped over a few pieces of broken furniture, and then stopped just as I reached the prince's side. Nervously, I lowered myself down onto the floor beside him and then smoothed out my dress onto the floor around me. The prince watched every move that I made as if committing it to his memory.
"Are you quite hungry?" I asked as I set the basket that I held down beside me feeling the intense aqua colored eyes before me beginning to burn deeply into my skin.
"Starved." The prince's velvet voice whispered as I carefully reached for the basket's lid, and as his simple word left his lips, I felt a chill move up my spine. He is trying to intimidate you, Seraphina. Remain calm.
"Wonderful, well I have brought…" I started, but before I could finish I felt the basket in front of me gently slide away from my grasp and then move back against the wall beside Prince Loki, without so much as the touch of his hands. I swallowed as I lifted my gaze back to the prince and noticed that he was smiling to himself as he continued to so diligently watch me.
"Your…thoroughness is endearing, My Sweet, but I will eat later. Tell me, who are you to my mother?" He asked as he leaned back against the wall behind him, and then dropped his hands back down to his lap. I released a deep breath as I attempted to relax the best that I could before I gave him my answer.
"I am merely an attendant, My Lord. My mother has been in the queen's service for many years now, and I have entered her servitude as of late as well." I answered quickly as I folded my hands together properly in my lap. The prince nodded.
"Do you enjoy…serving the kingdom?" He asked carefully as his voice lowered slightly once again. I swallowed thickly as I felt my heart immediately begin to pick up speed for some unknown reason as I slowly nodded my head.
"Of course, My Lord. It is an incredible honor to be able to assist in fulfilling the needs of the queen." I answered as I caught a stray strand of material from my dress between my fingers and began twirling it nervously against my suddenly overheated skin. The prince swallowed thickly as his eyes remained on my face.
"It is rare to find a young maiden as fair as yourself that actually enjoys being at the mercy of the aristocracy. Most women your age prefer a life of frivolous social activities, and diligent searching for a husband to take care of them." He retorted as I noticed one of his hands twitch just slightly beneath his cuffs. I shrugged as I heard a muffled cry of pain coming from somewhere in the distance behind me, but I was far too nervous to even turn around to attempt to locate its origin.
"Frivolity has never interested me, My Lord. I do not wish to search for anyone to care for me either. I am quite capable of caring for myself." I answered as I dropped my eyes down to my dress, and continued toying with the fabric between my now slightly shaking fingers.
"Is my mother good to you?" The Prince asked as I could feel his eyes still heating my skin. I nodded as I kept my stare down toward my hands.
"Oh yes, My Lord. The queen is most kind." I answered quickly as I ran my tongue carefully over the swell of my bottom lip that had suddenly become painfully dry.
"Please look at me when I speak to you, Seraphina." The Prince said sternly just after I spoke, quickly reminding me who it was that I was with, and also sending a jolt of pure electricity up from deep inside of me which I truly did not understand.
"I apologize, My…" I started as I obediently lifted my head, but then just as I did, I suddenly caught the sight of deep crimson stained blood covering the bottoms of the prince's long outstretched feet. My reaction was the same as if I would have seen the queen herself bleeding before me, even though I realized much later, that it probably shouldn't have been.
"My Lord, you are bleeding. Are you hurt?" I asked as I quickly moved myself closer toward Prince Loki's casually crossed legs that were now just a few inches away from my grasp.
"I am well, I assure you." The Prince answered, his tone suddenly carrying much less humor than it had before. Unfortunately, I didn't truly listen to his answer as I quickly reached for the basket that the prince had taken from me just a few moments before, and as soon as it was within my grasp, I quickly removed one of the decanter's of water that I had packed inside.
"It appears otherwise." I said absentmindedly as I moved my body down toward the prince's feet, and then just as I reached out toward him, I quickly stopped myself just before I touched his bloodied skin. Hesitantly, I lifted my gaze and met the stormy breathtaking eyes staring back at me that seemed to hold an unknown emotion just behind their pale fire.
"I apologize, My Lord, but may I please…." I started, but I didn't know how exactly to phrase the rest of my question without it sounding completely improper. The prince stared at me for a moment, and then leaned his head back against the wall behind him as he apparently awaited the rest of my question.
"May you what, Seraphina?" He asked as his eyes remained tightly locked on mine, and his tone darkened once again. I swallowed, and for some reason my words came out without my permission or prior approval.
"May I touch you…My Lord?" I asked in a hushed voice as I stared back at the man before me whose eyes had darkened immediately at my words just as his voice had. Prince Loki swallowed thickly as I noticed his jaw tighten slightly, and all of the muscles just beneath the pale skin of his neck seemed to contract immediately after I spoke to him. I stared at the prince awaiting his answer, and then after a moment he finally silently nodded his head in my direction. I released a nervous breath, and then dropped my eyes back down to my intended work.
Carefully, I knelt before the prince's feet, and opened the decanter of water that I had earlier retrieved from his breakfast basket. I looked around for some sort of cloth to use, but unfortunately I hadn't remembered to pack one. Instead, I pulled up the bottom of my long dress without revealing any of my legs since they were tucked safely beneath me, and then I carefully wet the silk fabric with my hands. After I returned the decanter back down to the floor beside me, I gently began to wipe the dried blood from the prince's feet, and eventually revealed a multitude of nearly healed cuts from what I assumed to be the splintered wood that was strewn all over the floor around me. I delicately wiped any residual stains away from his skin, and then without thinking, I touched one of the fresher gashes with my bare hand. The blood inside of my veins immediately rushed at the contact with his seemingly electrically charged flesh, and my skin flushed from my head to my toes as my heart began to throb deep inside of my chest.
"My Lord…" I whispered as my fingers begged me to allow them to touch him just once more to test if I had just imagined the powerful charge that I had believed that I had felt, but before I could give them permission, I felt the prince quickly pull away from my touch.
"I believe that you are finished, Seraphina." He said sternly as he straightened himself where he sat, and then masked his face with a most unreadable expression. I swallowed as I nodded and then lifted my head praying that my embarrassment wasn't incredibly obvious, but deep down I was most certain that it was. The prince watched me with eyes filled with a darkness that I did not recognize, and remained completely silent as I attempted to once again pull myself together.
"Yes, of course, I apologize. Is there anything else that I can do for you?" I asked slowly as I felt myself becoming incredibly flustered as my head quickly began to spin in complete confusion. Prince Loki stared at me for a moment, and then released a heavy sigh.
"Seraphina, you just finished cleaning the bloodstained feet of the most hated criminal in all of Asgard with your bare hands and the fabric of your dress. I would say that my mother would be quite proud of you for the day, Sweet Girl." He said in a voice void of emotion and eyes filled with things that I did not understand. I nodded slowly as I pushed myself up to my knees, and then lifted my eyes back to the prince's once again.
"You are not hated, My Lord. At least not by me." I reassured as I forced a smile onto my lips, and then returned the unused water in the decanter beside me to the prince's left hand side. He watched me carefully as I finally pushed myself up to once again stand on my feet before him.
"Foolish girl, you just met me only a few moments ago, and you are here simply serving out an order to your queen. You do not know me more than you know the murderer that has been watching you with lust filled eyes ever since you first arrived, and you have absolutely no idea whether or not I am deserving of the hate that others so deeply have for me. Do not trust so quickly, Seraphina. Harm comes the quickest to those with naïve minds." The Prince said in a slightly sharp tone as he nodded slowly, and then after he grinned slightly at me one more time, he once again disappeared in front of me, and pushed the room back to its original form. I swallowed thickly as I searched for the man that I had just been speaking too, but then finally turned back around toward the shimmering glass behind me. As I moved back toward the door that I had originally entered in through, I looked up to find the murderer that the prince had spoken of staring back at me with black menacing eyes and a sickening stare. My stomach lurched as I felt fear quickly wash over me, and then before I allowed myself to worry any longer, I quickly stepped out of the cell that I had been encaged in, and back into the reality that I prayed still awaited me.