Many people knew how hard it was to be a servant to Prince Loki. Every couple week, someone would come from the castle and tell stories of how cruel and terrible Loki was to the servants. How he would beat them if they addressed him incorrectly, threaten them if they did not prepare his meal a certain way, and how he seemed to like watching them all suffer. Odin told everyone to dismiss these stories as false, saying they were over exaggerated. But people still whispered to one another about the wicked and heartless God of Mischief. Soon, however, less and less servants were kicked from the castle, and it was even harder to see truth from fiction when it came to the stories surrounding the prince.
Those who lived in the castle knew this to be attributed to a young servant by the name of Njal. Two weeks after Njal started working in the castle, he became the prince's personal servant. Only Njal could clean his things. Only Njal could serve his food. Only Njal could tend to his horse. Even if someone needed to send a message to Prince Loki, they had to give it to Njal first or he wouldn't read it. The prince trusted no servant or maid other than Njal. While many of the servants or maids speculated on why the prince seemed to trust Njal so much, or how he could handle the workload that he was given, they were happier that they were not to serve under the raven-haired prince.
Despite the curiosity surrounding Njal, not much was known about him. Not even Lyting, another servant, who shared a small room with Njal, knew much other than what he appeared. Njal mostly kept to himself and stayed outside of his room, even if he was given free time. He never ate with the other servants, prefering to go off where no one knew, until Prince Loki called for him. He only ever stayed in his room when night came, and Lyting noticed that Njal would come back with a book, the same book each time, and he would put it in his satchel before heading off to sleep. When Lyting asked Njal what the book was, he responded "It was a present."
Njal stood outside Prince Loki's room carrying a tray full of food. There were days when the prince wished to eat alone and away from his family. The prince, Njal learned from stories of past servants, disliked when the food was fresh from the kitchen and was too hot. Njal made that mistake once on his first week, which upset the prince. Luckily, it seemed he directed most of his anger towards the kitchen staff and not at Njal. He started to wait outside the prince's door, waiting until most of the steam went away, as to not upset the prince any further. Njal looked down at the tray. The food today was some sort of stew. He never bothered to ask what the meals were that he brought to the prince were, but none of them had ever not made his own stomach growl in hunger. Next to the stew and silverware was a letter. Njal often had to take letters to the prince whenever he ate alone. Normally they were about some visitors from other realms or some ball the family was invited to attend, so Njal didn't pay any attention to it. What he was looking at was the stew, which seemed like it had cooled off enough. Njal knocked on the door.
"Enter," Prince Loki's voice boomed through the door, "and be quick about it."
Njal obeyed, and opened the door to the prince's room. After two years of serving the prince, the extravagance of his room wore off. But he remembered on his first day of serving Prince Loki, how he had gawked in awe at the magnificence of it all. His bed was massive with so many pillows, he had wondered how the prince didn't drown in them all. The comforters were a dark green, and the silk sheets were smoother than water itself. The walls were also a dark green, but were more closer to the usual color of Prince Loki's robe than the bed was. The walls also had intrinsic designs where whether it was just the color of gold, or actual gold itself, you did not know. The prince had only two other things in his room. A dresser with a mirror hanging over it near the doorway, and a desk in the corner of his room, where the prince liked to sit and think. The lack of objects in the prince's room only made his enormous room look even bigger. But after having to come to this room day after day, its overwhelmingness wore off, and Njal focused more on getting the prince what he needed.
Prince Loki was, as usual, sitting at his desk, obviously growing bored and impatient, as he layed back on his chair in a relaxed position. Njal hurried and set the tray down in front of the prince before stepping aside. The prince sat up when he saw his food was there. "You were taking your time with my food boy, be quicker next time!" Prince Loki snapped at him.
Njal nodded. "Yes sir, I will do better next time your highness."
"Honestly, if I have to keep waiting for you just so that I can eat, I'd be better off eating with my family."
Njal nodded again. The prince always said things like this, but he knew that the prince never really meant them. The prince would eat with his occasionally, but Njal knew he much prefered eating a perfect meal in silence rather than with his father and brother, even if it meant waiting a few extra seconds. Picking up his fork, the prince started eating his food, before he noticed the letter on the tray. "What's this?" Prince Loki asked him, picking up the letter, and starting to open it.
"Your father has sent a letter to you that he says is of the utmost importance your highness."
"Hm." The prince took out the letter and read it. His eyes skimmed the page, before they went back to read it a second time in more detail. Njal wished to know what it was, but knew trying to read the letter would just anger the prince, and asking about it would be even worse. Prince Loki lowered the letter from his eyes, and his eyes were in deep thought. After a couple seconds, he turned towards Njal. "Do you have any fighting skills boy?"
This question took Njal by surprise. The prince never asked anything about Njal, even something as trivial as that. "Uh, not much your highness. I'm handy with a bow, and can ride a horse, but was never taught how to use a sword." Njal paused, then added, "I can learn though sir, if need be."
Prince Loki pondered this before saying, "I guess you're not entirely worthless. You will be joining the army. We are going to war soon, and I will not be bothered with any trivial tasks that could easily be done by someone of a less status when I should be doing more important work. Go to your room and pack a small bag of clothes and other important items. You are dismissed for the day, unless I need you again. I must go talk this over with father."
Njal bowed and exited the prince's chambers, before walking off to his own room. War. Was he really so ready for war? He had never fought anyone in his life. The best he had was practicing archery when he was younger to pass the time. He hoped one of the other warriors there could teach him, though if the prince kept Njal just as busy as ever, he might not have the time to learn. Njal sighed as he approached and entered his room. Lyting was not there, presumably he still had work to do. He relaxed a little bit. Lyting was fine and all, but Njal didn't like the feeling of Lyting watching him as if he were some exotic creature. Njal didn't talk much sure, but that didn't give others permission to watch him from afar.
Quickly, Njal packed some clothes and other essentials for when he left. He still couldn't wrap his head around being a part of a war. Njal wasn't that weak, but compared to what most warriors were like, he wasn't that strong either. The only thing they had in common was in height, but his arms weren't as big, and his shoulders not as broad. All but one thing had been packed, and Njal reached under his bed and pulled out his satchel. Before packing it, he took out and opened the book that was inside of it. Inside of it, were strange symbols and pictures on the pages. Njal flipped through the book until it opened to where a bookmark had been placed. But before he could even read it, the door to the room opened, and Njal slammed his book.
Lyting walked in. "Sorry." He mumbled when he realized he startled Njal. Lyting moved to his bed swiftly, his eyes stilling looking at Njal, before settling on the packed clothes. "Are you fighting too?" Lyting asked.
Njal nodded. "You?" He didn't actually care that much, but he knew he should be polite.
"Yeah. Prince Thor himself came to the servant's hall and asked for volunteers to fight in the war. My father had taught me a lot of fighting techniques when I was younger. I had to listen, participate, and perfect my moves, even though it didn't interest me. Which is probably why I'm a servant now. But when Prince Thor offered it, I thought it was my chance to prove I'm capable of being more than a servant, and volunteered."
Njal just nodded. Lyting talked too much for Njal liking. But this meant that for him, joining was a choice. It probably was a choice for you too, but if you choose "no", you were most likely going to be out of a job.
Lyting look at him curiously. "Why'd you join then? No offence, but you don't seem much like the fighting type."
"Prince Loki volunteered me."
Lyting's eyes widened. "Can he even do that? Is he so lazy that he needs a servant with him at all times?" Lyting's voice dropped down to a whisper incase Prince Loki happened to be walking by.
"The prince is very busy. He has more important things to do than say, grooming his horse or polishing his weapons." Njal realized he was basically spitting back what the prince told him, and was doing a bad job of even convincing himself.
"But can you even fight? What if the prince making you join is basically your death sentence?"
Njal narrowed his eyes. "I can use a bow. And learning how to use a sword can't be that hard." Sure, he wasn't sure how long he would last in a fight, but for some reason it irritated him when Lyting thought the same.
He sighed, but rolled his eyes. "Your funeral then. Oh, I guess I don't know how much Prince Loki told you, but we will have to leave pretty early tomorrow. So you might as well get sleep now."
Packing away his book, Njal nodded and crept into his small bed. When he was sure Lyting wasn't looking, he pulled out a small rag from his sock. The piece of cloth was a little bigger than the palm of his hand. An N stood on the side on the rag, near where it seemed like a bit of it had been torn off or were just worn down over the years. The cloth gave Njal comfort and he closed it into a fist before closing his eyes and drifting off to sleep.
So this is mostly just testing something out. I'm trying to see if people like this, or what improvements or suggestions you may have. I won't always have time to continue as I can be very busy, but if enough people like this, then I will hopefully continue with it. Please leave any comments or suggestions if you wish to see this story continued.