**Chapter fifteen**


Cracked and aching, my lips were the first to open, gasping for air like a fish out of water. My eyes followed, but showed me nothing more than darkness. The pain was as a close third. It surged through my body with a determined force, angrily sending electric shocks to my brain. I was cold. Numb in some places. But hot and burned in others. I was stripped nearly nude, the only clothing on me were my undergarments and what was left of my plain white Target bra. I shakily tried to move.

"God," I mustered. It was my first reaction to the change of situation. Well, there was at least one good thing. I was alive. Granted, I was in pain, bleeding, almost nude, half frozen and half burned. But hey. I was alive. Wonderful.

Ignoring the sensations of wet, cold things beneath me, I struggled to push myself to my knees. It was the only thing I could do at the moment. There was a window to my right, but it was dark outside, providing little to no help whatsoever.

Looking around, I tried to adjust my eyes to the gloom. There were only a couple things I could make out. One, I seemed to be in some sort of a prison cell complete with metals bars and brick walls. Two, Loki wasn't here. I felt around, my hands shaking. The ground was cold and frozen in parts. Mostly it just felt like the bottom of our drain pipe whenever I was forced to clean it.
I released a sigh.

Then I froze. The clanging sound of a door opening some off in the distance interrupted my thoughts. Suddenly, there was light. It flooded in through the crack in the nearest door, making my eyes squint and my body flinch. Every muscle in my body screamed at the sudden movement.
"Greetings, mortal girl," the sound of a Giant spoke. He stepped forward, standing easily eight feet tall with a total of nine heads. I counted. Each one more grotesque than the last.

"Our King and master has requested your unholy presence. Strongly, I would suggest you stand and comply, lest we get impatient and be forced to drag you. The punishment for disobedience is the loss of your knee caps." His gravelly, throaty accent was immediately familiar. Frost Giant.

I cringed, feeling my knees twitch with imaginary pain. But it was nothing compared to the not-so imaginary pain. The one that was making my limbs shake and my tongue freeze. I couldn't move. Couldn't speak. Couldn't even try to do anything but cower on the floor.

The nine-headed Giant paused, as if seriously giving me a chance to move. When nothing happened, he flicked his hand in the air and two more Giants entered the room, stopping at the cell door. One smiled, his teeth much too large for his mouth, curling over his lips in a snarling grin. He leaned forward, pushing his face before mine from behind the bars.

"She smells pretty. Can I eat her?" he asked, struggling to lick his lips.

The nine-headed Giant rolled his eyes, whacking "Toothy" over the head with a club. "Be not stupid, Grubidojul. You know she belongs to our King. If she feels not the sense to move; fetch her. And make her squeal."

Grubidojul cackled and stuck a key in the door. The second Giant followed behind, scrawnier than the others. He had only one blood red eye.

As both Giants swung open the door, I tried to shakily push myself away from them, my stomach scraping over the ground. "P-please," I choked. Toothy grinned again, reaching toward me with dark, grubby hands. They clasped onto my arms and seared my skin. I shrieked.

The nine-headed Giant laughed, returning the club to his belt. "Good girl," he spat. "Laufey knew we would break you."

Between the pain, I stopped, feeling every sense of panic set fire beneath my skin. My head jerked up, the agony soon a distant throb. Laufey. The Frost King. Loki's father and ruler of Jotunheim. This was his doing.

I had to get out of here.

Mustering everything, I tried to concentrate. It had worked before. There was no reason to doubt it now. But for some reason, nothing happened. I tried again. Again. Again.

When my eyes opened, the fire returned, spreading and making me cry out. I was dragged across the stone floor, clawing and struggling in my captor's hold. Tears fell hot down my cheeks as frustration moved in. But without warning, I was thrown forward; landing hard on my knees in the snow. Prickles flew up my legs and they stung like tiny little needle pricks.

"My King. We have brought you great gifts. This is she. The mortal flame-haired girl the prophecy speaks of. For you," the nine-headed Giant cooed. He bowed low and the two others followed. I moved to cover myself and my wounds, which stung painfully. Straining my neck to see, I looked up from the ground to set eyes upon a throne made entirely of ice. It towered above everything else in the clearing. Of which, wasn't much. Only sheer ice walls and rocks. Off in the distance, I could see only rolling hills of snow, seeming to go on forever. My stomach sank.

A voice interrupted. "Do you think me unwise, Thrivaldi?" Laufey snapped, his voice thick, but more human than the others. "I know a mortal wretch when I lay eyes upon one. This . . . child is of no mere comparison to the power of the true Destroyer. Throw her into the pits."

"But, my Lord," Thrivaldi persisted. "We caught her in Northern territory seeing into the mind of the Lying Prince. I speak only the truth, my majesty."

"That very well remains to be seen. Bring her to me." Laufey crossed his legs and leaned back, a crown of ice sitting atop his head.

My eyes widened and I moved enough to get to my knees. It hurt, but I was beginning to feel desperate. "Wait—" I tried. Neither Giant stopped. They roughly grabbed me again and I bit my lip to hold back the scream coming on. The bitter taste of blood lingered on my tongue.

Finally, I was tossed back to the ground before the throne. I shook and sobbed, feeling very alone and scared. The ground moved beneath me and I was suddenly being raised up. Laufey watched me with cold eyes, leaking nothing other than the look of bitter contempt. I winced under the stare.
"You dare present yourself to me as such. Unclothed and in tears. Really, you must try to work on your skills of arrangement. I could kill you right now if I so wished. Think of that, little bird."

Nick-names. Per-usual. Even in Jotunheim there was no difference. I tried not to think of that, though, as the magically moving ice (?) stopped just slightly beneath Laufey's icy chair. He leaned forward with a smile, his breath smelling rancid.

"Moving on," he began. "Prove to me, mortal, that you are the girl I seek and I shall leave you unharmed. Fail me and I allow my guards to relish in the pleasure of skinning you alive. Did you know, that if you skin just enough in just the right places, we can successfully keep a human subject alive for nearly an hour of time? Quite the astonishing record, I dare say. Even more astonishing to watch."

Bile rose in the back of my throat, but I remained on my knees. I couldn't help it at that point. My powerlessness wasn't due to lack of trying. That was one thing for sure.

Absorbing my silence, he smiled. "You require physical contact for your abilities, no?" he asked, placing emphasis on the word 'physical.'

I managed to nod and he stepped off his throne to stand before me, unclothed except for the tatters that could possibly be considered pants. Chains of gold decorated his throat and they sparkled when he kneeled before me, in touching distance. My trembling hand reached towards his face and I touched his cheek, markings and raised scars littering his almost human skin. Aside from the gray color and bloody eyes, he was small enough to pass as one of us. It surprised me and for a moment, I saw Loki in his features. The sharp cheekbones, dark, menacing eyebrows and the angular jaw of his. My lips parted to say something, but before I could speak, the nauseating sense of drowning passed over me. Starting with my chest, swirls and runes etched gray into my skin, the color swirling and meeting each other in a wave of Frost Giant familiarity. The King's eyes briefly widened ever so slightly, but returned to the usual unaffected chill in no time. Finally, the pain seemed to ease altogether. The last thing to change was my vision. Like looking through a pair of red sunglasses, the colors molded into one final crimson hue.

"Unimpressed," the King muttered. "I have seen grander witchcraft."

"Enough," I snapped, my voice not my own. I stood up then, both hands moving towards Laufey's skull and squeezing tightly. The first image to appear was of battle. Under the darkness of clouds in the sky, warriors both men and Giant's fought around me. Smoke rose from patches of visible earth and flaming stones were catapulted into the air, smashing Giants and lighting them on fire as they screamed. Even the ground seemed to shake as the fighting commenced. I stood unharmed, watching the horrors unfurl around me as if watching birds fly lazily through the sky. Battle cries rose, swords crashed and screams echoed. This was all interesting, but I had other plans.

"Laufey," I addressed the King. "Show me my friend. The one I was traveling with. The Lying Prince as your ignorant "guards" so pleasantly put."

The King's mind wavered and the battle flickered in and out for just a moment. I could see a door from behind the seams. His voiced echoed through my mind.

"Bite me."

I stood still, my anger and patience running thin. It felt as if my chest would explode. The rage clawing from my stomach was enough to make me growl. "Strongly, I would suggest you comply," I mocked Thrivaldi. "Lest I get impatient and be forced to make you."

The Frost King shuddered. "Get out of me head, witch. You have proven yourself true and need not get hasty. All questions are dutifully answered in time."

"Once more will I ask. Show me what I want or embrace my wrath." Again, I watched the world around me sputter and change slightly. Going unfocused and blurry. A dark, wooden door appeared at the end of a hall and I took a step toward it. Soon, I was standing in the hall. The battlefield was long gone and only the door and I remained. I passed through it as a ghost, my eyes lying on both Loki and Thor. A gasp escaped my lips. They were chained and bloody, leaning against the walls of a cell barely even bigger than my room. They both stared intently at the ground, as if willing it to do something other than sit still. My anger doubled. I wanted to punch someone. I wanted to rip the guts out of King Laufey and toss them into the sky. I wanted to scream. None of which happened, but I did stop and pull away. A little bit of humanity was leaking into my Frost Giant veneer. I could feel it like light on a warm summer morning. The images faded and I returned to the present, my hands still clasping Laufey's head tightly. He was yelling at me now, his face screwed in pain. Words bounced through my brain, but none of them stuck. I was far away, too distant to understand his flavored language. The ground sank down again and I landed on the snow with a thud.

"Thrivaldi!" Laufey barked as I began to make sense of his words. "Send this witch away at once! I want her back in her cell immediately! Take her out of my sight!"

Thrivaldi hesitated, giving me a look of uncertainty. I could almost smell the fear on him. "But majesty," he argued.

"Enough! You take her to her damned cell before I change my mind about ripping your throat out, you whining child! Now move!"

I looked at the nine-headed Giant and almost laughed. He was afraid of me. Me. A little mortal with powers. How . . . utterly laughable.

Taking a hesitant step forward, he grabbed my arm and I remained still. Fine. They could send me back to the cell for all I cared. The moment I saw a chance to escape, I would. And I would never stop.

"Wait, Thrivaldi," a new person insisted. "I shall take the lovely Riley." The moment the words left his tongue, I covered myself, self-conscious once again. Even though my skin was still dark gray. But the moment didn't last long. Almost immediately, I felt my energy drain away, allowing me to collapse on the ground, powerless and human once again.

Author's Note: Okay, it's been forever since I've updated. I know. I'm sorry. I'm a terrible person. I'vebeen caught up with so many other things, that I've kind of neglected my baby. AKA, this story. Anyhow, I should be more consistentwith the posting of new chapters and I really hope you guys like. As always, I enjoy constructive criticism and I'd appreciate any and all reviews. Especially on this one, as I'm a little out of practice. *face palm* Thanks for reading!