Chapter 3: Awake in Asgard
Her head was pounding. She felt like she had been on sedatives or laughing gas. She had no sense of her body, everything just felt weird. Noelle was barely aware of anything the past few days. She heard voices, people coming and going. But she couldn’t open her eyes. After long periods of this, things were clearer. Much clearer. She knew someone was taking care of her. That much was sure, because after a certain period, someone would gently apply a cold cream-like substance on her skin.
Time had no meaning while Noelle was asleep. She felt awake at some point, but she still couldn’t open her eyes. It was like the energy had been drained of her body.
It was on her fourth day in the healing room that she finally was able to open her eyes. She had been pushing them open, using all her force. It’s time to find out where the hell I am.
When she finally opened them, she noticed her right eye didn’t open as much as the left one. What the-oh right. The crowbar. As if triggered by memory, her forehead, eyebrow and cheek started stinging as well. And suddenly the whole night came back to her. The fight…
Noelle remembered everything. She had been walking home from Lana’s when she was attacked. Garrick. Garrick attacked me! Garrick has brutally beaten her. With a crowbar. I tried to save him. She began to hyperventilate. Focus. I need to find out where I am. She tried to push herself up into sitting position, but halfway there she hissed in pain.
Oh right. She thought. My ribs. They kicked me in the ribs. Her neck felt stiff, her hands felt sore. It took her a few moments to get through each wave of sore, stiff and painful parts of her body. Each time she inched forward to sit up, she catalogued the areas that hurt most: Her ribs, her neck and back. Her face…well she supposed it was bearable. Guess I won’t be going out in public anytime soon.
When she was finally able to sit up, she took a few deep breaths, and took in her surroundings. The room was white, with beds in rows. There was an adjoining room at the end of the white room, the doorway covered with a thick green tapestry. Well, she thought, I’m definitely not in a regular hospital.
Noelle moved a stiff leg, testing it. Her legs weren’t sore, just stiff. I must have been laying here a while. How long have I been out? She moved the other one, doing the same tests, before attempting to swing her legs over the side of the bed. She succeeded, but let out a strangled gasp. Her ribs felt like they were on fire! She had never broken a bone before. Is this what a broken bone feels like?
She took a few moments to rest again. She felt a little drained from just that simple movement. She was still catching her breath when a man walked into the room. Noelle didn’t see his face; she was too focused on the ground and catching her breath. She did see the black boots though.
“Oh…You’re awake.” The man had a deep, musical voice. She froze. Her father had that same accent. “I shall fetch the head healer. It seems she has grown tired of waiting on you to awaken.” Noelle slowly looked up at the man, and the first thing that caught her breath was his eyes. They were a luminescent green. No one has eyes like that. No one on earth. His hair was jet black, his face slim, and his skin pale. He was quite handsome. He smirked at her. “Do you see something you enjoy?”
She ignored his question. She was too focused on his clothes. They weren’t from earth. They were like her father’s clothes…the ones he wore the day he left for…
“Where am I?” Noelle said frantically. “Am I-I’m not on earth anymore?” The man shook his head.
“No. You are not.” He looked at her funny. Is he my care-giver? Is he examining me?
“Please tell me where I am. Please.” She said, much calmer this time. Maybe he’d finally tell her where she was.
“You, my dear, are on Asgard, the realm eternal.” He replied. “Are you alright? You’ve turned nearly white.”
“I-I can’t...”The truth was that she couldn’t breathe. She was on Asgard. She had made it. Her father had always told her she would make it to Asgard, she would see the golden palace, and the beautiful halls. She would see the night sky up close, and be able to truly spot each constellation. She would see him again. After 13 years. “I’m so incredibly glad to be here.”
He nodded. “Well, it seems you’re recovering. I guess I’ll give the All-father a report on your health then, the head healer can be as unhappy as she wants.” He walked towards her, his strides purposeful. When he was close enough, he gently put his hands on either side of her face, tilting it slightly.
“Wait, hold on a minute.” Noelle tried to shake free of his grasp, only to hiss again in pain. Her neck hurt. “You aren’t a-a healer?”
He shook his head. “No. I am a master of magic.” He continued to examine her, letting go of her face and picking up a hand. “How in the world did you manage to do all this?” She looked at her hands. They were covered in scrapes.
“I was-attacked. I think at some point I was picked up and thrown to a wall. I might have put my hands in front of me to stop my fall.” She said, before getting back on track. “If you aren’t a healer, you shouldn’t be examining me. You aren’t an expert in the field. Please stop.”
He sighed, but continued, lifting her bangs off her face to get a look at the bruises. “The head healer is not here. I must send a report to the All-father. You will sit still and let me do my job.”
Noelle sighed. If this man had no clue what he was doing, he might make everything worse. “If you don’t stop, I’ll leave.” Maybe I could walk out of here?
“You may try.” He said, still looking at her. When she moved her head away, he put his hands on the side of it, holding her there. “I will catch you. Then we will both be in trouble.”
“What-”She didn’t get a chance to finish. At that moment, a woman came sweeping into the room, wearing a flowing dress.
“Prince Loki! What are you doing here?” She asked indignantly.
He turned his head. “I’ve come to see how the girl fares. My father wishes for a report.” He let go of my face. “She has awoken.”
The healer rushed forward, taking her head in her hands. Was this going to be a habit? “She is awake. Child, how do you feel?”
She pulled my head back. “My neck is sore. My ribs hurt. My hands and face sting. But besides that, I feel fine.”
She nodded, looking at the man. “Prince Loki, you may tell the All-father she has awoken, and recovered from her most serious injuries.” Prince Loki? Did she mean…?
“You’re Loki? Second son to Odin?” She blurted out before she could stop. He paused and looked at her. He seemed a little ticked.
“Yes. I am Loki, second son to Odin. Is that all Midgard knows me for?” Then he turned and left. Noelle was stunned. She had just met Loki. The god, Loki!
“Did I say something wrong?” She asked the healer.
“I do not know, child. The prince is known to be fickle in mood.” She let go of Noelle’s face.
After an hour of poking around her ribs, the healer proclaimed it was time to get her ready.
“Ready for?” Were they kicking her out?
“For the All-father. He wishes to question you. You must be bathed and dressed before he does so.” The healer, Reka, had thought that had been obvious.
Noelle nodded. “Okay then.” She stood, only to catch the side of her bed. The dull aching in her ribs had become fire again. She caught her breath, before following the healer to the room blocked by the green tapestry. It was a bathing chamber. The healer had water heated in minutes, and she proceeded to help Noelle undress and get in to the circular silver tub. She really didn’t need any help undressing. She was wearing a nightgown, which she had to keep tugging on to keep both her shoulders concealed. There was a string at the neckline, which untied.
Getting into the tub was another matter. Her legs were still stiff and her painful ribs made it hard for her to swing her leg over the side. The healer then proceeded to wash her hair with a lavender smelling soap. She let Noelle wash her body, after giving her instructions on how to wash her ribs without doing any damage. When she was finished and the hot water went cold, the healer had and assistant come help her lift Noelle out of the tub. It seemed that getting up from sitting position on the ground would be a problem until her ribs healed completely.
She was then given a “shift”, a white smock that went under her clothes, and some underclothes. Then they dressed her in a bronze dress, with halter-like straps, hugging her waist and flowing around her. With some bronze gladiator-like sandals, the healers helped her to the throne room.
The journey felt like it took hours. Noelle could walk on her own, but painfully slow. Her healers had to wait for her! The biggest problem was the stairs. Luckily another assistant, a man this time, had come to carry her down. I should probably get used to being carried. She thought. There are probably tons of staircases here. She wasn’t wrong.
After what seemed like hours, they had arrived outside the throne room. “Child, how much do you know of Asgardian behaviour?” My healer asked.
“I know how to greet Odin as a warrior and as regular woman.” I said. She smiled.
“Good. Because you will need it. I take it you are very familiar with Asgard. If you have any concerns, any questions, you may ask me now, before we enter.”
She thought about it and shook her head. She only had one question on her mind. But only Odin could answer it. The healer nodded and gently pushed the doors open to reveal a gleaming, gold, spacious room. Noelle gazed around in wonder. It was beautiful. They walls were lined with pillars, white marble by the looks of it. She then looked directly ahead to see a golden throne, with a man who could’ve been a bit older than middle-aged on earth.
Odin. Her mind knew automatically. She stepped forward, a little faster than before, seeing tunnel vision. She didn’t want to keep him waiting. She could admire the hall later. When she reached the foot of the stairs leading to the throne, she did her best curtsy, which her father had taught her. To be honest, she practiced the curtsy quite often. She practiced everything her father had taught her often. She then got to her knees and kept her head down, waiting for him to address her. She needed to know if her father was here. She needed to know if she could stay on Asgard.
Looking down, she saw the same black boots from earlier.
Loki. She glanced at him from underneath her eyelashes. As if he knew she was looking at him, he glanced back and his green eyes met hers. He held her gaze for a moment, then moved on. She glanced around to see another man, wearing armour. His blond hair was to his shoulders, he had a beard, blue eyes and hammer in hand. That must be Thor. The god of thunder.
She then saw a woman, almost directly in front of her on the top step. She was tall, with golden hair like Thor’s, wearing shinning gold and worry on her face. Why is she worried? Did I do something wrong?
Was I in trouble?
Then she was addressed by a booming voice. “Who are you, young lady?” Odin was looking directly at her. He only had one eye, the other one was covered by a gold piece. He wore gold armour, and his boots matched.
This was the moment. The moment her father had prepared her for. The one she had hoped would happen since she first dreamt of Asgard all those years ago when her father left. It was her time.
“Noelle Halfling, of Midgard.”