I dedicate this story to my brave friend Alexa is who is currently battling cancer and my fantastic readers.
Love you all.
When you're alone, there is no comfort that words can bring, nor songs that can soothe the ache and memories of a life long gone. Remembering the past and suffering in the present, can drive one to do normally unthinkable things. A feeling that few will ever fully understand. My name is Skye, and my parents died in the last war fighting for Asgard. They left me alone at the city's mercy. When I was younger I learned to fend for myself, deciding to turn to thievery instead of honest hard work. This is my story.
Jorh came running down the dark alley, his oversized shoes smacking against the dirty pavement. He stepped in filthy puddles, staining his old robe, but paid no attention. He panted, exhausted but determined to not stop running.
"Skye!" he managed to say, hardly any air left for talking. "They're rounding up people down the street!" he placed his hands to his knees. Jorh always did push himself too hard.
I looked out from under my black hood, my attention had been stuck on a particularly nasty splinter from the crate I sat upon. "You'd better hide, they're looking for you by name!" he said. I didn't saying anything, of what use is it? I am innocent, I did nothing to the Royals. "I know you didn't do anything..." he stood up straight, and kept looking down the alley from where he ran. "But even you can't deny you're one of the most suspicious of our lot."
Ah, Jorh. Always sweet as honey and goat's milk on a spring afternoon with his words. He reminds me of a rose. Beautiful to look at, but as soon as you pick it up, your fingers drip blood from the thorns you didn't notice.
"Indeed." Was all I could say. Even if I did hide, wouldn't that make me look more suspicious? "Thank you for your deep concern, Jorh, but I will remain where I am."
He looked at me, confused. "Well, yes, okay...but be careful with...them" he said, pointing his thumb towards the three guards that marched down this dank alley. Sun hasn't touched these bricks since the day they were built.
Many of the 'lower' people of Asgard live in this area. The homeless, the despised, the forgotten. Many of these people came from other areas on the continent from horrid conditions, living in shells of old buildings or camping in the forests. I had grown up here since the death of my parents, living off whatever pickpocketing goods I can manage.
"Remember, those Royals and rich people are quite different than us!" he said quickly, just as the guards stepped up behind Jorh.
"Skye Arteag, you are under arrest under the jurisdiction of the All Father Odin and the Throne of Asgard." one of the guards said. He has a mustache that could slay a dragon.
"On what charges?" I reply dully. I know that no matter what I say, I am getting arrested, and that's that.
"Suspicion of traitorism." the other one said, looking more like a man who should be serving ale at the nearest brewery then arresting people on the streets of Lower Asgard.
He pulled me off the crate of which I was so comfortably perched and bound my wrists behind me. They then took me back down the alley. I gave a look to Jorh and he looked more concerned then he ever has. It made me feel uneasy. One guard led in front of me and the other behind me. My black hood shrouded my face but I coul still see curious people looking towards me.
After the continuous rhythm of our footsteps had grown monotonous, finally we drained out of the dark alley into the sunlight, and I saw five horses and several guards standing around. Passerbys attempted to continue on their daily business, but they all sneaked looks through the corner of their eyes.
"Ah, here we are...the infamous Skye!" he said, placing his hands on his hips. I can't help but wonder what he means by 'infamous'. His armor stood out from the rest and I took him to be some sort of Captain. The cool fall air carried the tempting smell of fresh baked breads to my nose and I realize how hungry I am.
"Just as they all said. Black tunic, black gloves, black boots, and the ever-famous black hood covering her innocent little face!" he gave a deep laugh, and the other guards joined in. I had to bite my tongue to prevent myself from breaking his ugly face. The taste of rusty blood distracted me momentarily, thankfully.
The sun made his face sweat much like I've seen in a pig-pen. I wouldn't doubt it a bit if he sat around eating doughsweets all day. I never spoke a word, but I glared into his eyes and though he could not see half my face, he apparently became uncomfortable. "Right, well, let's take her in." he said.
He hoisted himself onto the horse and I felt a shred of pity for that creature. A guard put me onto a black horse and I couldn't help but think it was a way of taunting me, all black everything. Two guards rode on either side of me, both attached with ropes. I found it very difficult to sit, as I could not use my hands to steady myself from the horse's gallop, as they were tied behind me.
One horse and rider was in the very front, holding the Asgard flag high. Citizens practically jumped off of the street to make way. My despise for these guards as well as the Throne grew with each gallop. We began to ride closer and closer to the castle.
Finally we arrived to the Royal stables along a beautiful white bridge. I had only been here once when I attempted to steal a valuable hammer from the blacksmith.
Once again a guard led me and one was behind, only now there were three more around me. I couldn't help but be amused by the fact that they think I am such a dangerous criminal.
I was led into the actual Royal building protected with countless guards, a place that few citizens ever have the honor of entering. This is where the gods live. It is massive, bigger than it appears from afar. It is truly a city within a city. I have never held high respect for any god or royal since they have left parts of Asgard to rot and forget it's people, but there is no denying the awe of this place.
We entered into another room, one that I could not place at first. Then, like a building collapsing on top of me, I realize that no less than 30 yards from me is the Asgardian King's throne. I can't help but begin to feel nervous, an emotion I haven't felt in a very long time.
This is no longer a joke, I begin to understand. This isn't just a routine check or interrogation. They really, truly and honestly begin to suspect me as being the one who let the frostgiants into Asgard during Thor's crowning. The guards force me to kneel before the throne. When I look up, I see the All Father Odin walking in, and sitting down upon the throne.
There was quiet for quite some time, until Odin spoke, "Skye Arteag, you have conspired with frostgiants against Asgard and it's people by attempting to steal the frostcube."
I think you could almost hear the shock I felt. I had to clamp down on my tongue so hard that my mouth filled with blood to prevent me saying a word to the All Father. "You are hereby being imprisoned until execution that will take place one week from this day. Dismissed!"
In my stunned state I forgot the trip to the prison cell. I couldn't speak, I couldn't move, but no tears came, either. No trial, no display of evidence against me...just the word of the All Father to kill me for something I didn't do.
Anger, depression, confusion surrounded me. I was led here in a whirlwind and thrown into jail in less than a few minutes. Only 30 minutes ago I was free in the alley, now I am here?
I curled in a ball in the corner, thinking of my life, how pointless this has all been. I never had a chance to give Jorh my hidden money. Now I must die.
I don't remember the days passing, the hours seemed to melt and drip away, but there is no stopping it. No one came to see me, not even Jorh, nobody.
I begin to realize how truly alone I really am. How I have shut people off from me my entire life. I suppose I'm miserable anyway, who cares if I die? Who cares...yet this thought didn't ease the silent stream of tears flowing down my face. Tears for who, I wonder. Myself, always myself. My greedy little self. Is it possible to angry at yourself? Because I believe I am.
The night before my execution I sat by the gate, staring out into the darkness, unmoving. I heard quiet footsteps approaching from somewhere, but I cared not. My thoughts were lost in memories of my father and I going hunting in the forest for Oblok.
His big, happy smile making anyone feel as if nothing could go wrong. His reassuring words to me on the bridge, before he left to die, "You are strong, Skye. The strongest child here. If the dark attempts to hold you, remember..." he said as someone called his name. "It matters not what something appears to be, but what it's deep-lying intentions are." I never understood what he meant then, but I do now. He left then, to die only a few short days later.
I heard someone whisper my name. I looked outside the gate but saw no one. "Are you Skye?" I heard again from a melodic, smooth whisper. "Depends." I replied flatly. Like my mother used to say before she was murdered, I will have my snarky comments until the moment I die.
"Your execution is tomorrow, I hear." he said. I didn't reply. "I know you didn't let the frostgiants in." he said. I looked up, once again attempting to find the source of this voice. "You do?"
"Yes. And I have come to make an agreement with you." he said. I audibly scoffed. "Well seeing as I'll be dead in a few hours, I fail to see the point."
"I can stop that. I just need your word to assist me." he said. Turning down such an offer would be insanity in it's definition. "Assist in what?"
"Whatever I need, silly girl." he replied. I cock my head in confusion. That could mean a lot of things.
"You won't tell me what?" I say. "What if I say no?" I could hear a soft chuckle. "It matters little to me, you are the one dying tomorrow, not I." I took a deep breath.
"Fine. I will do it, just get me out of this infernal cell." I said. "Shh. I cannot tonight. Tomorrow, before you are to be taken to be executed, I will have you released." he said.
"You sure seem sound confident you can do it." I said. I heard no response. "So how will I know you tomorrow?"
He stuck his right hand through the gate and into my cell, his palm facing towards me. It was a circle with spikes shooting out from the center, making an almost star-shape. "It is called a Hodt symbol. I am the only one in Asgard with it." he pulled it back.
"Right, well, I don't really know the words to say..." I started. "No, you don't. Goodbye." and he left. I wasn't sure what to make of the entire exchange. Part of me wondered if it was just a hallucination, or a dream. Because when I woke up the next morning I had nearly completely forgotten about it, brushing it off as a hopeless fantasy.
They brought my last meal of stale bread and water. I nibbled at the edges but could not bring myself to eat anymore.
Finally they came to lead me to my death. Though I had never struggled, they still bound my hands. It was a long walk but it seemed only a few short steps. We went out into the grass. I could see rows of people, lining the path I walk. They all stared at me wordlessly, but you need not be a mind reader to know how much contempt they held for me.
I looked through the wall of people to see the block of which they were to behead me, and only now did I begin to resist the guards. I would not plead and cry for my life, I will die with dignity. But my body could not help pushing back against them. Finally we arrived just a few yards from the block.
The All Father and his two sons on either side of him stepped before me. "Before justice is to be given on this traitor, Asgard has it's mercy on even the vile and contemptable." he said. Thor looked at me with hatred in his eyes that nearly matched his fathers. He thinks I am the one who disrupted the ceremony of his crowning by letting the frostgiants in. How on earth could I even have access to them?
The other son Loki, who we citizens of Asgard rarely see, kept staring at me as well, but not with hatred. An evaluation, studying me. Questions, memories, doubts and fears flooded my mind as my imminent death drew closer.
"Do you have any final words, Skye Arteag on your final breaths?" he asked. I did not know what to say. Should I even say anything before a crowd that will laugh and dine tonight in celebration of my beheading? Thankfully my hood is up so no one can see the tears falling down my face.
"The traitor has no words to speak, All Father." one of the guards behind me said as I let my head hang, looking down on the lime green grass. As I passed the God of Mischief he turned his palm up and I gasped. The Hodt symbol.
"Witness now, citizens of Asgard, a traitor brought to justice for her heinous crimes against us." And so I was shoved to the block, my hood pulled back and my black hair spilled out. The God of Mischief! He is the one who came to my cell last night! But why will he not save me? Did he change his mind? The executioner walked over to me and laid my head on the block. I saw him raise the axe and I clamped my eyes shut and yelled, "May Asgard burn!" and all went black.