By TypingKira 9 Comments
ALL CHARACTERS BELONG TO MARVEL INC. AND THEIR RESPECTIVE AFFILIATES.
Time skip in this chapter! I'm kind of out of it today, so I'm not sure how well this chapter turned out. Hope you like it!
“The return of Karnilla can only mean war,” Thor pointed out. “Anthy, straighten your back,” he added to me. Grey trotted pleasantly on his broad, freshly shoed hooves, while I struggled to keep my balance on his back.
Volstagg grinned beside me as his fatter, broader horse kept pace. “Truly, your grace in everyday matters extends to your work in the saddle, milady!” he boomed affectionately.
“Thanks, Volstagg,” I said with a blush. I didn't feel very graceful.
Suddenly, Grey reared, and I screamed, then the air rushed out of me as I slid off of his back and hit the stone floor with a thud! The air whooshed out of my lungs and I panicked as I tried to get it back. “So, Volstagg, this is the pupil that you, Fandral and Hogun have been occupied with? She does not appear to possess any skill other than falling off horses!”
I rolled onto my side and glared up at the passing warriors. Thor had one foot forward, But Fandral and Hogun held his arms, as useless as the action was. Thor was the most physically powerful Asgardian warrior, and one move could have sent them flying.
“Thor!” I gasped. “Ignore them.”
This was just what Balder had warned me about.
Stomping over to me, Thor knelt down and pulled me up, careful not to hurt me with his strength. He cradled the back of my head and neck with his hand, and asked, “are you whole?”
I nodded, finally able to breathe. “Yeah,” I said. “Thor, beating people up because they do mean things like spook your horse doesn't make anything better. I don't want more trouble than I'm already gonna get.”
“I am aware, Anthy. But you should not be treated in such a--”
“Let it go,” I pleaded.
He sighed. “This time.”
“I see that even mortality cannot tame an Asgardian boy's foul jealously,” snarled Kelda angrily. Mortality. . . not her best subject. “They are only envious of what they cannot have. You have the best tutors and the sweetest of hearts, Anthy. Such things are envied.”
In her hand, she held a stack of books held together in a package by twine. Her eyes burned with rage and her fist trembled. The wind picked up, and I stood up and touched her hand. “Kelda, relax.”
Her anger faded, and then she only looked tired. “I brought you these,” she said, holding up the package.
“The books from my house,” I said, accepting it from her.
“I thought that you would like them back, considering that this is far from your true home,” she said flatly.
Who knew that Kelda would be so thoughtful? She was beautiful and playful, curious and open-hearted. But somehow I didn't pin her as the sort that would take such good care of someone. “They were beside your bed, I assumed that this meant they were your favorites.”
Looking at the spines, I smiled. “Thanks!” I said.
She looked tentative, and I tilted my head quizically. “What's wrong?”
“I had wondered if I might borrow this one,” she asked, kneeling down and untying the twine, then digging through the stack to find the book on Josephine Bonaparte. She held it up, and I nodded.
“Of course! I just need it back by monday. To take back to the library.”
“Thank you,” she said softly, before drifting away sadly. Her shoulders were slumped as she almost cradled the book.
“Poor Kelda,” I sighed.
“Aye,” agreed Thor. “'Tis a tragic thing, what happened to Bill of Bills. I never met him, but if I had, doubtless I would have liked him.”
“You met him through Don, didn't you?”
“Nay, I was. . . otherwise occupied and unable to listen.”
I looked at Thor and sighed. What to say? He had tried his hardest to act like nothing had changed, but the truth was, everything was changing. We knew it. We could feel it.
A week passed. Already I was stronger, faster, and thinner. Six long, hard hours a day spent training after school, in one way or another, sharpened my senses and while my waistline shrunk and my pants hung off, my appetite grew. Soon enough, even Volstagg was impressed with the sheer volume of food I was putting away, as I sat quietly in the corner with he, Fandral, and Hogun, blushing as they laughed at my training blunders.
I was even starting to get Asgardian jokes, which really weren't all that funny to begin with. I guess after sitting around for a few ages with a casket of mead, you'd think anything was funny.
By my seventh day in Asgard, I was quicker on my feet, faster on a horse, and had a reputation for toughness that had even earned me the monicker, 'Anthy the Stubborn', which I was told was a good nickname. But did it really sound like one?
Thor watched over me carefully, smiling even when I made mistakes. The Warriors Three encouraged me. Loudly. And Kelda woke me every day with a hot bath and more stuff for my hair, and I brought her books from the school library, which she loved and read in only moments, then went back and searched every detail in every picture.
Her appetite for the outside world was like mine, and we wanted to learn everything together. I taught her to use my cellphone and how to play Pac-Man, which I left with her when I went to school.
One thing I noticed was that, when I looked out my window late at night, Kelda would walk by, her white dress glowing in the moonlight, and then Balder would follow a little while after. So, also on the seventh day, I got sick of wondering what was going on and followed.
I pulled on my black coat, then lifted the hood over my loose bun and hid in the shadows until Balder passed. I counted to five as I watched his dark cloak get farther and farther away. The thought of his eyes as we'd watched the game together set my heart racing, and I forced myself to relax enough to start moving again.
They passed silently through the streets of Asgard, and occasionally I caught a glance of Kelda just before she turned a corner. It was cold, and I could see my breath in the air as a little puff of vapor.
If Balder cared to look, he would too. But he walked in such a way that I knew he had a mission, something he had to do, and nothing was going to stop him.
What were they doing?
Finally, they stopped at the entrance to a huge, grand hall, and They both stopped, meeting up at the entrace. “Anthy, you are truly terrible at being covert,” called Kelda lightly.
“I do not mind, though if you had merely asked us where we were going, I would have told you that you could accompany us.”
I sighed and walked out from the shadows, approaching with my cheeks burning. “Sorry,” I said.
“You were curious. It is a disinctly human trait,” said Balder. To Kelda, he said, “I will return in a moment.”
He turned and walked into the hall, and I stood next to Kelda, watching him enter the hall full of men, feasting at tables that groaned with the weight of the food on them. Shield maidens served them mead and ale, and every face had a smile.
“Is this. . . ?”
“Valhalla. Odin's hall. Look there,” she cut me off, then pointed to the left just slightly. A familiar red cap stood out, a white cloak draped over those same broad shoulders I'd always known. Poor Bill had always been big and a bit awkward, but here, he fit right in. In fact, he was a bit small compared to the others around him. Balder walked up to him, and he stood right up, leaving the table with an eager look on his kind face.
“I cannot see him,” explained Kelda as tears pooled in her eyes. Her hand rested on an invisible barrier that she pressed just to demonstrate. “I am forbidden, for I love him. The living and the dead can love, but. . . but they cannot be together.”
I held her shoulders as her tears fell, but her voice didn't shake. “I. . . Lord Balder, he is a good man and king. He has been carrying messages between us for a month now.”
I watched the gray-clad Balder clap Bill on the shoulder, then smile and take his leave. I pulled Kelda down and into my arms, and she rested against my shoulder, soaking my coat. I wished I knew what to say to her. I wished I knew how to soothe her.
“It's okay, I'm here.”
“Yes,” she nodded. “You are. You are most dear to me, Anthy. I would see you happy,” she said quickly, before Balder came back, holding my face gently, her fingers feather-light.
Balder's steps came closer, and finally he was touching Kelda's shoulder and she smiled to him. “My lord Balder, could you escort Anthy home? I. . . I would linger a while.”
Balder nodded tentatively, glancing between me and Kelda uncomfortably. “If. . . if you are certain, Lady Kelda.”
“You have left me here before,” she noted dryly, before turning to the hall and staring inside. Balder sighed, then left me go first, following. The silence was only broken by the occasional cry of laughter or a baby.
“I'm sorry I followed. . .” I apologized.
“Nay, I knew you had been watching us.”
“What, seriously?” I demanded.
He looked down at me with one eyebrow raised. “You really think that I would not have seen or heard you?”
Yeah, Anthy, did you think he would not have seen or heard you? He's no Heimdall, but still.
Big changes for such a little character next time around! What's Karnilla up to? What decision will Balder have to make? Why is Heimdall so super awesome!?