Chapter 10: Adjusting
I was exhausted. This morning’s training had actually been a grueling workout! Not that I didn’t love it. Working out was one of my favourite things to do. I loved knowing I was healthy and active. But this was still a whole new level of workout.
I was making my way up the stairs to my room to clean up a bit before meeting Loki in the library for my lesson. It seemed to take forever. Why are there so many stairs here? Asgard needed to invest in elevators. Or a magic lift or something. Maybe I could convince Loki to design one.
My morning training was overall…okay. I was in an all-girls class, and seemed to stand out a bit. The girls were obviously not interested in combat. But everyone had to learn basic combat. Most of the girls were daughters of nobles, all my age or younger. They stuck together. There were only a few girls who weren’t nobles, and they stuck together as well. They were just unsure about me. Even the instructors didn’t know what to make of me. I think they assumed I was weak or just incapable of learning Asgardian fighting styles.
At first, we started off with drills, doing some stretches and such. It felt like high school gym class. We ran for a bit, worked on cardio. And then we learned the first moves of self defense. We had to stand in lines and punch, kick or duck when the instructors told us to. Every time they would pick a student and evaluate their punch or kick. They picked me last.
I had done martial arts as a child and learned how to properly punch someone. I had to try not to roll my eyes when the instructors had to show someone how to properly punch. When they got to me, the instructor spent at least two minutes making sure my posture, hand position, anything that had to do with our drill, was correct. He then asked me to kick. I did so, and again, he had nothing to say.
We did that for the rest of the class. They said soon we would move onto partner exercises, when everyone caught up to the high standard now set in the class. While they said that, they glanced at me. Great. I thought. That won’t help me make friends.
It was kind of boring for me. I had already done all of this in martial arts. I just had to grin and bear it for another week and a half.
When I reached my room, I unlocked the door and tugged off my boots and armour. It was a good thing my father had thought to provide it. I would have had to go into the city to buy some. The armour was a perfect fit: a breastplate that covered my chest, stomach and back, some shin pieces, shoulders pieces and some wrist to elbow pieces. They were silver and dark green.
I was tempted to flop on my bed, but I didn’t want to get sweat all over the sheets. So, I went to the bathing chamber and filled up a small basin of water and grabbed a cloth. I would have a sponge bath now, to save time.
I then picked out a gold dress with one shoulder, and undid my hair from the bun I had put it in earlier and brushed it out with a silver brush that had been in one of the vanity drawers. I left it loose and put on a pair of gold flats. I looked at my bed, longing for a nap, or at least to lay on it. But then I would be late for my lesson with Loki. I could nap afterwards.
I made my way along the halls, watching servants as they bustled along, or nobles running around. I did spot the long line for the bathing chambers, which, if I remembered correctly, serviced eight people at once. I was sure glad I had my own bathing chamber. I saw some of the girls from my combat lessons in line and waved to them. One of them waved back, but the others she was with just stared at me. I guess they just weren’t that friendly.
The walk to the library was longer now that I was in the outer parts of the palace. I didn’t mind, but it gave people an opportunity to whisper about me. I could see them doing it when they thought I wasn’t looking. I would catch snippets of conversation, people staring at me. Right now, Asgard felt like high school, and I was the new girl.
I was different. Apparently, according to Fandral, people could tell. That’s what drew him to talk to me. He put it along the lines of “you appear to be Asgardian, and yet at the same time you appear not to.” It didn’t really clarify anything for me. But people were still getting used the idea of me, I guess. I wondered if these people were friends with my father. Maybe they were.
When I reached the library, I was a little fed up with people looking at me and whispering. You could only handle it for so long before it drove you a little mad. I stormed in, shutting the door. I was a little fed up with people for the moment.
“Well someone is in a foul mood.” Loki said, his voice echoing. I made my way to the center of the library, where he was sitting at his desk, as per usual.
“Do you have Asgardians staring and whispering about you behind their hands?” I was actually a little annoyed.
“Not at the moment, but if I stir the pot a bit I’m sure I will.” He looked up, pushing his books away from him. “Now, shall we begin?” He rose and stretched, before settling on the more comfortable furniture the library had to offer. I sat on the other side of the couch there, sitting back. “Tired?” He guessed.
I nodded, laying my head back. “Would you still like to start the lesson today?” He asked, his voice concerned. I nodded again.
“If you insist. Let us begin. I am going to teach you how to read thoughts.”
“I thought I was learning to stop you from reading my thoughts.” I stated, lifting my head up.
“To do that, you must learn to read thoughts. You need to learn the workings of the whole process.”
I nodded, keeping my head up. Loki looked at me for a few seconds, before speaking again. “This will not be easy. You will not accomplish much today. It may take a few days. Maybe longer. I make no promises.”
“Can we start then?” I was tired, and therefore a bit irritable.
“Fine.” He bristled a bit. I felt bad instantly for being in a bad mood. “I want you to look at me. Look into my eyes. The eyes are the doorway to the soul.” I did so. “Now, I am going to be thinking something. I need you to find out what it is.” I gave him a funny look. “Be patient and let me tell you. Here is how I do it. It’s the same way my mother does it. Imagine a fluid. Give it a colour.”
I did so. I imagined a purple tendril, flowing. It wasn’t a blob, or a puddle. Just a tendril. Like a line of water. Flowing gracefully. I imagined it flowing around Loki, around me. We sat for a while, and I just did that. I assumed Loki was doing it too. Eventually, I started to shift the shape of the fluid, but it wouldn’t budge.
“You cannot change its shape. Not yet.” Loki said, still focused.
“Why not?” I didn’t have the same practice or talent as he did, so I lost concentration. My imaginary fluid disappeared.
“Concentrate on the fluid again and I will tell you after.” I did and it reappeared, and I played around with it for a while. “Very good. Now, imagine it infiltrating my mind.” This is where I got stuck. I imagined the fluid going through Loki’s forehead. I must have sat there a long time. The fluid just wouldn’t go. It was being difficult. Finally, I grew a little impatient. I focused my whole thought on penetrating his forehead.
And then something miraculous happened. I actually did it. It only lasted a second, but I did it. I felt myself sort of dive into…well, I didn’t know what, but I know that for that second, I felt as if my mind was in two places.
I took a deep breath and put a hand to my forehead. I had a major headache. I closed my eyes and breathed. I had actually done it.
I opened my eyes, wincing. My head hurt that bad. I was sweating a bit, and I felt exhausted. Loki looked at me, slightly surprised. “Very good. You succeeded in the first two steps.”
“Two steps?” I thought we had only gone through one.
“Yes, two. The first was imagining the fluid. The fluid is your magic. Many have trouble accessing it and imagining like that. You have some talent.” He remarked. “The second step is penetrating my mind. You were able to get to what they call ‘the pool of thought’.”
“What is that?” I leaned my head back again.
“It is exactly that.” Loki sounded excited. “To us, it seems like a river of thoughts, where your mind thinks and discards them. You did well.”
“Thank you.” I was glad I did well. But I was too tired to show it.
“I think that is all we shall do today. Performing magic is very strenuous the first few times. It will take some getting used to. I recommend sleep.”
I tried to stand, then sat back down. The room was spinning a bit. I took a minute, and breathed, closing my eyes.
“Will you be alright?” Loki asked me. He hovered over me, as if I was going to pass out.
“I’m not sure.” I got up again and walked a few steps. I thought I was fine…until the room began spinning again. I lost my balance and almost fell when Loki put a hand on my shoulder, catching me.
“You cannot walk back to your chambers in this state. You will not make it there.”
I slumped against Loki. He was right. “But how am I supposed to get to my chambers then?” I desperately needed rest. I felt my eyelids getting heavier by the minute. It was all I could do to keep from curling up and sleeping against Loki.
“You may sleep in my chambers.” He said quietly, so quietly his voice didn’t echo in the library. My head snapped up to look at him. Was he serious? I didn’t think he would joke about something like this…maybe he was just being flirty again? He must have seen my hesitation to reply, because he reassured me. “I will not be in the room. I shall give you the key and you may lock it, so I cannot enter. I was going down to the feasting hall for supper anyways.”
“It’s supper time? How long has this lesson been?” I looked over to the sundial. It was definitely suppertime. My lesson had only felt like minutes, but it had really been hours. No wonder I was exhausted.
“It is. Now come. You will rest in my chambers until you are well enough to walk to yours.” Loki left no room for argument, and frankly, I didn’t have it in me to refuse. He let go of me and I walked a few feet, before falling. I was literally falling asleep on my feet. At this rate I wasn’t going to make it to Loki’s room.
“Just leave me here to sleep.” I pleaded, not wanting to move anymore. My limbs were getting heavy. I could curl up by the fire here. I would be alright with that. Loki was looking at me, thinking on our predicament.
“Hm.” He said after a while. “It seems I must carry you to my chambers.” He helped me up, and put one arm under my knees, and the other on my back, picking me up. Again, I just couldn’t say no. I rested my head on his shoulder subconsciously.
“Loki?” I whispered. I didn’t know why, but I didn’t want to make a whole lot of noise.
“Yes?” If he was struggling with my weight, it didn’t show. Being one hundred and twenty-five pounds, human men couldn’t really carry me for too long. Then again, Loki was Asgardian, and therefore much stronger than human men.
I closed my eyes, and yawned. “Thank you.” We didn’t even reach his room, and I was out.
A few hours later…
I woke up in a canopy bed with green silk sheets over me. This isn’t my room. I looked around, and tried to puzzle out where I was when I remembered: I had fallen asleep and Loki had brought me to his room. I stretched, and stayed in bed. Even though my bed was comfortable, his seemed to be even more heavenly. I took in as much as I could. I was in Loki’s room. Loki’s room. I had to look around.
I got up slowly. I found out I was bare foot. Loki must have removed my shoes. I found them a few feet away, and slipped them on. I turned slowly, looking around. Loki had a huge window, with an over flowing bookshelf next to it. He had a desk a few feet away, piled with books and papers and a comfy chair to sit in. He had a wardrobe, which I was tempted to peek into, but decided to respect his privacy. Aside from the bookshelf and desk, his room was pretty plain. I guessed he didn’t spend much time in here.
I remembered Loki telling me he would give me the key to his room. I looked around, before finding it on the bedside table. I curled my fingers around it. I would have to find him later to give it to him. Right now, I need to brush my hair and rinse my mouth out. I felt a little gross after napping.
I made it to my room, and felt hungry. Hopefully Loki is still in the feasting hall. I could return his room key to him. I opened the door, and hurried in, grabbing my brush and running it through my hair. I rinsed my mouth out, and looked into the vanity mirror. I didn’t look too bad.
I left my room and walked slowly to the feasting hall. My energy was definitely gone. I didn’t feel up to anything, even socialising. I didn’t even care when people were staring at me or whispering about me when I walked by. I just wanted to eat and go to bed!
I arrived to the feasting hall, and walked in, looking around for Loki. I saw him, his back turned to me. He must have been using magic or something, because just after I spotted him he turned, as if he knew I was there. He waved me over.
“Someone looks exhausted.” Sif remarked. I sat down next to her, across from Loki, and put my head on the table.
“I am.” I stated, not moving.
“Basic training too hard on you?” Thor sat down next to Loki, across from Sif. I didn’t miss Sif glance at Thor with affection, but I guessed that Thor did.
“No. I started basic training this morning and spent the afternoon learning magic.” I lifted my head up. The smell of roast chicken on the table was getting harder to ignore. I got up, took a plate from the middle of the table, and served myself a generous portion of chicken and potatoes.
“She did well. Much faster than you, brother.” Loki said to Thor when I sat back down. I dug right into my food.
“That explains her exhaustion. Did you sleep at all after?” Sif asked me.
I nodded, still eating. “She has been sleeping since supper time began.” Loki said. “She’s slept for hours.”
“It seems she needs more sleep. It has not done her much good.” Thor said. “She will fall asleep any second.”
I stopped eating. “I can sleep after I have eaten. It has been a long day.”
Loki grabbed my chin from across the table, pulling me closer to him. He sat there, looking at me. “You are indeed exhausted. You are having trouble focusing.” He let me go. “Strange. After performing magic, Asgardians do not need so much sleep.” He thought about it for a bit while Sif and Thor conversed and I stuffed my face. When I finished, I put my head back down on the table, feeling content. My stomach was full, now I could sleep. Maybe take a bath first.
“Ah ha!” Loki shouted, looking triumphant. Sif and Thor stopped talking and looked at him as if he had gone mad. I tilted my head to the side to see him better. “I understand now. Due to your human heritage, you are drained of energy quicker when performing magic for the first time. This is why you are so tired.”
“That is what you spent all this time thinking of?” I asked. I was getting more impatient by the minute. I wanted to go to my rooms, have a bath and go to sleep.
“Yes.” He shrugged.
I got up. “I am going to rest.” I wished them all a goodnight. Loki insisted on escorting me, since he claimed I could fall or something.
We walked out of the feasting hall and down the halls in silence. I wasn’t in the mood for conversation. When we reached the stairs, I groaned. I didn’t want to walk up all those stairs! I grabbed the rail and pulled myself up the first one. It was all I wanted to do, no matter how silly. I was pulling myself up the third stair when I was picked up and carried by Loki, like he did earlier.
“It will take us an eternity to climb those stairs if we continue at your pace.” Loki said before I protest. I just decided to stay put and let him carry me again. He was right. “Also, I will need my key to my chambers.”
“Oh yeah…” I remembered. My dresses all had pockets sewn on the outside and inside. I fished it out of the one on my waist, concealed by the cut of the dress. “Here it is.”
“Give it to me when we reach your chambers.” He instructed me. He carried me all the way there too, not one complaint.
When he set me down, I leaned against the door. “You really are quite tired Noelle.” He said concerned.
“I am. I just want to rest. Here is your key.” I gave it to him and he pocketed it.
“I will leave you to rest then.” He said, nodding to me. “Goodnight Noelle.”
“Goodnight Loki.” He watched me enter my room, and then began walking down the hall. I shut the door, kicked off my shoes and shimmied out of my dress. I would have a bath tomorrow.
I put on one of my nightgowns and crawled into bed. Hopefully, I would get used to all this, or else go into a sleep coma.