Chapter 27: Coronation day
A few days after the ball, Loki was still shaken up by the meeting with Saga. He became very anxious and distracted, something that didn’t happen often with Loki. He was more withdrawn, taking space. Which was why I was wishing my father a safe trip on my own. Only yesterday my father found me, letting me know he was leaving again. We stood near the Bifrost site, hugging.
“Where are you going? And when will you be back?” I asked, hoping he wouldn’t be gone long. I loved having my father in my life, and I didn’t want him to have to leave again.
“I am needed in Alfheim. The Light Elves have been discussing politics, and would like Asgard to be present to give its insight. As for when I am to return…” He trailed off, frowning.
I sighed. “You don’t know, do you?” I pouted slightly. I couldn’t help but think he was leaving me again. I knew I was an adult, and had lived without my dad for thirteen years. Now that he was back, I had hoped he would stay with me. I felt disappointment seep into me.
“Now, do not be sad.” My father held me at arm’s length, observing my face. “Do not think I do not love you because I cannot stay here. It was a blessing to see you my dear, I had missed you. And I will miss your smiling face when I depart. But I will always return for my daughter.”
I smiled, blinking back tears. “Take care of yourself dad.” He nodded.
“Take care of yourself, my dear. And your charming prince. He loves you, and though you will face hardships together, love will prevail.” His tone of voice had a sense of foreboding to it, and I tried to shake it off, think of it as fatherly advice, and not a warning.
I fingered Loki’s necklace, rubbing my thumb over the crystals, loving the texture. I had worn it every day since the ball. “I will father.”
He reached over and took the pendant from my fingers, observing it. “Quite beautiful. He did a fine job of selecting it.” I suddenly felt a spark, heat warming me. It seemed to be coming from my necklace, but as soon as I noticed it, it was gone. “I must be going now.” He bowed, kissing my hand, before turning and walking into the dome of the Bifrost. I watched as the mechanism moved and clanked, aiming. Then he was gone.
I mounted Frost, who neighed and tapped her hooves. I had taken her to give my dad a ride to the Bifrost, and she had become restless with waiting. I gently pushed my heels into her sides, getting her to start, and began working her up to a run. In a few minutes we were racing through the city, dodging busy salespeople and shoppers, children in the streets chasing after us.
We ran all the way to the palace, passing the waiting stable hands, heading for the forest trails. Frost didn’t let up, and I couldn’t blame her; she had been cooped up for days, since all the time I usually spent with her went to my father.
I was racing down the trails, taking an unfamiliar trail when I felt Loki getting closer to me. I smiled, wondering how he could sneak up on me, even while we were connected. ‘Magic.’, was the simple reply I received.
‘Where are you?’ I continued at the pace I was at, not stopping. He could catch up.
‘Behind you.’ The next thing I knew, I felt someone quickly place their lips on my cheek for a brief second, and wind whipping my hair as a dark horse raced past, with Loki turned and grinning cheekily at me. I laughed, urging Frost forward to catch up with the mischievous man.
We raced through the trails, exchanging grins and laughing. The wind whipped our hair as we continued until we reached a beautiful green clearing. I got down from Frost, my legs slightly sore. Loki jumped off of Tempest, grabbing my hands and pulling me close to him, and placed a light kiss on my lips.
“Where have you been?” I asked, letting go of his hands and snaking my arms around his neck. ‘I missed you these past few days.’
“I have been reflecting.” Loki smiled secretively. ‘But I missed you as well.’ He was hiding something. I could feel his thoughts staying strictly on the current topic, which was odd. Loki’s thoughts usually multitasked, paying attention to the major subject, and flitting off to minor ones. And then I could feel it: a darker thought, something I had never felt in Loki’s mind before, creeping around. It was when I went to reach for it, to see what he was hiding, that I felt myself stop short. Partially because I felt like I was being intrusive, and partially because I couldn’t go any further. It was like trying to push through a locked door. Not only was this thought hidden from me, it was almost protected from me.
“Why do you pry so much?” Loki asked me, trying to sound calm.
“What are you hiding from me, Loki? You can tell me what it is.” I was curious why this dark, impenetrable thought was lurking in his mind, and why I couldn’t see it.
“It is nothing. Do not worry yourself with it.” He shrugged. I pulled away a bit, to look at him.
“Why are you hiding this from me? Why can’t I know?” Loki pulled me back to him. I struggled a bit, before giving up.
“Because I do not know what you are talking about.” Loki said firmly. I raised an eyebrow, wondering if he was completely serious. I pulled away from him, frustrated. “Why are you so irritated?”
I huffed. “Because you’re hiding things from me?” I didn’t want to sound like the nagging girlfriend, but I was curious, and I was worried. I had never been blocked from Loki’s thoughts like that before.
“Why will you not believe it is nothing?” He asked, moving closer.
“Why won’t you tell me if it’s nothing?” I shot back.
It was Loki’s turn to huff this time, crossing his arms. “Can we please not argue?”
“We aren’t arguing. We’re having a discussion.”
“It is a very loud and angry discussion.” He raised an eyebrow, giving me a smug look.
“I’m just not used to you hiding things from me. I’m open for you to look at and inspect, while I am barred from you.” I leaned against a tree, suddenly tired.
Loki looked uneasy. “It is just…there are some thoughts I deem private…”
I raised an eyebrow. “Loki. What I was unable to see…it was locked from me. Even if you do not want me to see things, I would still be able to. I would feel your resistance. But this…you do not even know what I am talking about do you?” He looked very confused. He opened his mouth to speak, closing it.
“No.” He said finally. “I have not the slightest idea of what you are talking about.” I was worried. Was I imagining things? Was I overreacting?
“So…you haven’t noticed the dark lurking thing that’s been going around your mind?” I found that hard to believe.
“I would have if it was there.” He retorted. “Noelle, I have no idea what you are rambling about. Have you been sleeping well? Are you sure you aren’t imagining things?” He pulled me to him. “There is no dark thing lurking through my mind. I am perfectly fine.”
“Okay…” I didn’t believe him. I know what I saw. But there was no convincing him. Besides, if Loki could not see it, it couldn’t be that dangerous?
“What is it now?” I demanded from my servant, kneeling before me.
“The girl has noticed.” He said simply, his head bowed.
“What are you rambling about?” I had no patience for lack of detail.
“The girl. The daughter of Tyr Fetson-”
“What about her? Can she give us the location of the relics?” I needed those three relics. They had been lost for ages, but they were what I needed to succeed.
“I do not know, master-”
“Then what of her? Out with it!”
“She has noticed…my presence in the boy’s mind.” The servant faltered under my harsh gaze.
“Then continue with the plan. Infiltrate her mind. She must know where one of the relics may be. Her father is a seer. Whether her blood is diluted or not, she should have some ability.” I began to pace. She could be the key to finding the relics. If she could locate even one...
“I am unable to, master. When she spotted my presence, I attempted to break her barrier…but it was incredibly strong! She was unable to reach unto the grasp of my thought, and I could not pull her to me! I had no idea she was so strong…” The servant was curious. No one could escape his control, or avoid it. But she had.
I growled. Another obstacle. “Either she is stronger in will, or cunning, or her father has found a way to protect her.” I stopped pacing, facing the servant. “We must continue with prophecy. It has not changed, meaning we must have the boy. We must push him to betray his family. I expect him to be within our grasp soon. The girl can wait.”
The servant nodded, standing and hurrying away. I turned to the sky I had been watching, admiring its beauty. Soon it would be mine. Centuries of waiting would pay off. My patience would be paid in kind. “Prepare the torture chamber!” I barked to another servant, waiting for my commands. “We will have a visitor soon, and we must be sure his will is broken and his mind compliant.” I smiled, the excitement building.
The day of the coronation…
I could hear Sif banging on my door, yelling at me to get out of bed. I ignored her, rolling over instead. I had a massive headache, and wanted nothing more to be left alone. Thor’s coronation could go on without me.
The next thing I knew, my duvet was being tugged off. “You are getting up and going to the coronation. It’s the most important day of his life Noelle! And here you are lying abed all day!” Sif chastised me. I groaned.
“How did you even get in here without me hearing you?” I buried my face into the pillows.
“You left your door unlocked.” She said. I felt her sit on my bed. “Now up with you. Thor expects you there.”
“It’s his fault I don’t want to get out of bed.” Last night, Thor had insisted we all go to the city to drink and celebrate. Loki had been held up, doing last minute things for the Allfather, and I had no excuse not to go. Thor kept ordering round after round, and my protests went on deaf ears. “Never again shall I go drinking with Thor.” I vowed, still not moving.
“Do you want me to send a maid in to help you?” Sif offered. I peered out from my pillow. She seemed fine, well rested, not a trace of all the ale she consumed last night. It was situations like this where I wished I were completely Asgardian.
“Yes.” I croaked. I usually didn’t have a maid help me get ready, but today I didn’t feel like running my own bath, setting out my own outfit and getting myself ready. It was incredibly lazy of me. “And I want Thor to pay for it.” Not that I couldn’t afford it, but it was his fault I felt this way.
“If it means you shall get out of bed and be present at the ceremony, I’m sure he will.” Sif patted my head. “I’ll leave you now.”
“Thanks Sif.” I mumbled. When she left, I slowly dragged myself into sitting position. Glancing at the sundial, I saw that it was around two thirty in the afternoon. No wonder she came to get me. The ceremony started at four. I sat up in bed just as a light knocking was heard on my door. “Enter.”
A tall, slender girl scurried in, shutting the door. She had a tray of food with her. “I am Embla, my Lady. I was sent to tend to you.” She curtsied, but I waved my hand.
“You don’t have to do that. I’m not a royal person.”
“The Lady Sif assumed you would like some herbal tea and some breakfast.” She set the tray down on my desk. “How can I be of service?”
I smiled, happy that Sif thought about that. “I would like a nice bath drawn.” Embla nodded, before scurrying to the bathing room to heat up water. I got up slowly, shuffling over to my desk to eat. I nibbled on bread, fruit and cheese, sipping my herbal tea. I smiled as I drank the warm, golden brown liquid. There must have been some special herbs in here, since I could feel my hangover disappear a little more each sip. Asgard had a remedy for everything.
After I finished my breakfast, Embla ushered me into the bathing chamber, closing the thick tapestry so I could have some privacy. She had put lavender bath oil into the water, and I let myself relax. I washed my hair, wondering how Loki was doing. Since I pointed out that darkness locked from me, he became a little distant. I couldn’t find the dark thought anymore, and I wondered what had happened to it.
‘Will you be alright today?’ I worried over his own feeling towards Thor’s coronation as well. Loki had always been told he was born to be a king. And yet he would not get the chance.
‘I shall.’ I smiled, happy that he sounded so confident. I had worried about him and getting through this day. I sat in the bath until it got cold, then got out and toweled off. Embla had pulled out a gold coloured dress and a short bronze breastplate to cover my upper chest when I entered the main room.
She handed me the dress and I put it on, Embla doing up the little ties. The breastplate was strapped on to me, and I slipped on some gladiator sandals. I sat down at my vanity and had my hair brushed and plaited into a side braid. “Is the Lady pleased with this?” Embla asked when she finished, wringing her hands nervously.
“It is beautiful Embla. Thank you, I could not have done a better job.” I smiled. I wondered why she was so nervous around me. “You are free to go. Thank you again for your help.” She curtsied, and left, shutting the door quietly. I stood up, touching the sparkling necklace, before tucking it under my breastplate. I wanted to see Loki before the ceremony. I missed him suddenly.
I let our connection guide me to Loki. I found him walking briskly down the hallway his room was located, deep within the palace. He was dressed in his full royal garb, wearing his elaborate breastplate, cape and helmet. It was the first time I had seen him wear it. I didn’t have to call out to get his attention. He turned around, smiling. As if he knew I missed him, he stood still, holding his arms open. I started walking to him. “We are going to be here all day, love. Run.” He dared me. Seeing no one else was watching, I picked up my skirts, and ran as fast as I could without slipping on the polished floors. It didn’t help my shoes didn’t have tread on the bottom. I reached him, my arms out to catch around his neck, when I slipped a little.
Loki caught me before I could finish my stumble, chuckling in my ear. He lifted me into the air, spinning me before setting me down. It was something he did sometimes, and it made me feel like a child compared to him. “Technically, you are a child compared to me.” He said smugly, answering my question.
I kissed his jaw. “But I am still the wiser one.”
He laughed. “I suppose so.”
I gently flicked his helmet. “So…what animal are you?” I knew helmets represented the wearer’s animal form.
“Something with horns.” He said gently flicking my nose. “I am going to speak with Thor before the ceremony begins. Ease his nerves.”
I nodded, happy he was coping so well. “I shall see you at the feast?”
“I will find you there. Stay out of trouble.” He disappeared, going to wherever Thor was. As he left, I hurried along to the throne room to wait for the ceremony to start. And even though this was supposed to be a happy day, I had a strange foreboding feeling. Something was going to wrong. I could feel it in my bones.
A little later…
The crowds cheered loudly as Thor entered the throne room, tossing Mjolnir in the air and catching it. It reminded me of my graduation, throwing my cap in the air. I cheered loudly, glancing at Loki as I did. I was in the cheering crowds, and partially glad that I was. Even though I wanted to be next to Loki, who was standing on the staircase with the queen, Sif and the warriors three, I didn’t want to be in front of all the Asgardians in the crowd. I was still uneasy with how people treated me since I started seeing Loki.
Thor cheered, his smile infectious. I laughed as Sif and the queen rolled their eyes. I was happy for Thor. He was like a brother to me, and I wanted to see him happy. I always knew Thor would make a good king, even though he was a little reckless. He would learn. I had faith in him. I knew Loki didn’t think Thor was ready, but I believed in him.
The sound of Odin’s staff echoed in the hall, everyone falling silent. Thor had knelt in front of the stairs, looking up, and waiting. “Thor Odinson.” The Allfather started. The hall was silent, on baited breath, waiting for the moment Thor would become king. “My heir. My firstborn.” I heard his voice hitch a bit, and I smiled, hearing a little emotion from the king, who seemed so gruff and tough. “So long intrusted with the mighty hammer Mjolnir, forged in the heart of a dying star, its power has no equal. It is a weapon to destroy…or a tool to build. It is a fit companion for a king. I have defended Asgard and the lives of the innocent across the nine realms since the time of the great beginning. But the day has come for another to take on this great responsibility. Do you swear to guard the nine realms?”
“I swear.” Thor’s voice was strong and level.
“And do you swear to preserve the peace?”
“I swear.” His voice was a little more powerful this time, more confident.
“Do you swear to cast aside all selfish ambition, and to pledge yourself only to the good of the realm?”
“Then on this day, I, Odin Allfather, proclaim you-” The Allfather stopped. I thought it was for dramatic effect at first, but soon realized that wasn’t the case. His eye strayed elsewhere, and the sense of foreboding going through me again. I glanced at Loki, who met my gaze with concerned eyes. “Frost Giants.” I heard Odin silently say. He motioned for Thor and Loki to follow him through the secret way behind the throne.
Murmurs rolled through the crowd, wondering what was going on. I made my way to where Sif and the Warriors three were standing. I brushed my right thigh, checking to make sure my blade was there. I did the same with my left side. They were a little long to be kept on my thighs, and were more proper to be kept as boot knives. But I didn’t have time to have a shorter dagger made.
“What’s happening?” I asked Sif.
“Frost Giants have breached the weapons vault.” Fandral said, adjusting the gauntlets he wore.
“The Destroyer will take care of it.” Hogun said wisely, though his face was concerned.
“I hope so. How could they have gotten past our defences? Past Heimdall?” I didn’t understand how that could be missed.
“It must have been a small group.” Sif said. People were being escorted from the throne room, and she was watching the crowd, looking for danger. I was doing the same, though a Frost Giant would stand out in a crowd.
“Come on. Let us see if the feast is still going to happen.” Volstag said, leading the way to the private hall. The royal family had a private dining chamber close by. Just before entering, a loud crash was heard coming from it. We quickened the pace, walking in to find Thor and Loki sitting together on the stairway leading to a balcony, and the golden table overturned. Food littered the floor, goblets and plates everywhere.
I crossed my arms. “Who do you expect will have to clean this up?” I lightly chastised Thor.
Volstag picked up some cheese and bread that hadn’t hit the floor and found a small knife and cutting board. He began cutting some up, and I snuck my hand in a few times to grab a few slices.
“Thor, its madness.” Loki’s voice interrupted my mooching. We all looked up to see him pleading with Thor.
“Madness? What sort of madness?” Volstag asked.
Thor smiled. “We’re going to Jotunheim.” Loki covered his face with a hand, exasperation on his features. I couldn’t blame him. It was madness. We all protested a bit, and Thor began naming all the things he and the others had done together.
“My friends, we are going to Jotunheim.” I sighed. We all began leaving the hall, when I felt a tug on my arm. I turned to see Loki holding my arm.
“Where are you going?” He asked me.
“To grab my armor?”
He shook his head. “I would much rather you stay here.”
I pulled my arm from his grasp. “Loki. I’m going with you.”
He sighed, trying to pull me to him. I backed up. I didn’t want him to convince me to stay. I wanted to go too. “Please do as I say. For once. It is dangerous.”
“So why do you get to go?” I hated this double standard. I didn’t care if it came out of good nature or love.
“Because I will have to be the voice of reason to keep Thor out of trouble. It wasn’t the position I chose.” He argued.
I crossed my arms over my chest. “I am going. You can’t stop me.”
He sighed. “Noelle. Just be our alibi here. Make sure no one discovers our absence.” I shook my head. He let out a frustrated growl. “You are so stubborn. Just stay here, keep out of trouble, and cover our absence.” Then I saw the image of Loki fading away. Realization dawned on me, and he smiled sadly, seeing it on my face. “I love you.” The whisper of his voice faded, leaving me alone in the hall.
I growled, wanting to throw something myself. “Loki!” I yelled, hoping he could hear me. “When you get back, I am going to kill you!” I stomped off, taking a short cut to the front of the staircase. I was going to sit there and wait for them to come back. I contemplated on leaving for the Bifrost, but Loki probably left orders for Heimdall not to let me leave the realm.
I was fuming. I was supposed to be Loki’s equal. I was a first rank warrior. I had experience. I could fight my own battles. And besides, they were only going to negotiate, right? Thor wouldn’t be reckless enough to attack; it would shake the uneasy peace we had with the Frost Giants. He wouldn’t risk that. I huffed once more, and began forming the lecture I planned on delivering to Loki when he got back. Maybe I’d disappear on him halfway through.