Many say that Jotunheim is a barren wasteland. That is because they have never seen the true beauty of our home. As I stood high on my favorite mountaintop I gazed down at the rebuilding going on below. Our home world had sustained heavy damage during the Asgardians attack. I swallowed thinking about it and I caught my eyes wandering over the spot where Alrik had died. My gaze lasted too long on that patch of snow. I knew he was under there still. I wasn’t strong enough to drag him back to the palace and ask for a decent burial. That was the snow’s job, to cover the bodies of man and beast. At least that is what I was told to somehow console me. Needless to say it didn’t help one bit. I sat down and felt how good the frozen snow felt against my bare legs.
Since Alrik’s death, mother had not smiled or laughed like she was always partial to when he was alive. Alrik was the funny one and he always had such a talent for getting my mother to laugh. Father said nothing and was very quiet about the whole thing, however once I was restless in the night and got up to look at the stars, and I saw him crying. It wasn’t just a drop here and a drop there. His sobs were soft and quiet, as he tried to hide the fact he was weeping over Alrik. Life seemed empty somehow and my only solace was to come onto my favorite mountaintop and breathe the frigid air around me. I leaned back further and felt the icy snow on my shoulders and sighed happily. I was content and that was something I had missed feeling. My calm and content moment was shattered as Helga, my loud nurse maid called my name. I sighed sitting up and looking for her. She was directly below the mountain waving her hands around wildly and yelling my name. I didn’t know what to expect giving that Helga had a habit of making something out of nothing.
My bare feet searched for a foothold as I descended the mountain. When they finally found one I reached downward to have something to hang onto as my feet cautiously stepped off the first foothold and probed for another. I continued this until my feet fell with a soft thump against the soft white snow beneath me. The mountain wasn’t very tall, only about 50 or 60 feet but it was a place of wonder and comfort for me. Helga saw me and immediately rushed over, a huge grin on her face. Still unsure of what she wanted to tell me I walked towards her and we met in the middle. Her smile quickly dissipated from her face when she saw lumps of ice and snow matted into my thick black hair. She simply sighed and rolled her eyes knowing I had been on the mountaintop.
“You know you can’t go up there,” Helga reminded me firmly.
“I know, I just…needed some time to think,” I said. My mother and father had tightened their grip on me ever since Alrik’s death. It was if they wanted eyes on me at all times so that I would not suffer a similar fate as my elder brother. Helga nodded and her smile quickly returned.
“Oh! I almost forgot to tell you, your mother wanted me to find you to tell you that you are going to sing at the palace,” Helga said cheerfully. I tilted my head perplexed. I would never get used to being a princess. Ever since Laufey had died and my father had taken over as King of Jotunheim, I felt trapped by social norms that were not relevant when I was just the daughter of the king’s advisor. As I princess I had to maintain dignity, not letting my feelings get the best of me, which they often did. I cannot tell how many times the phrase, diplomacy comes first had been whispered into my ear.
“Why do I have to sing in the palace? My father is king…I don’t understand,” I asked confused by this strange request. Laufey loved to hear me sing and would often ask me to sing at banquets or parties, but my father was oblivious to music and refrained from bringing singers to the palace since he loathed singing. So why would he want me to sing for him? The question both puzzled me and made me curious.
Helga hesitated a moment and frowned at whatever sour thought had just entered her mind.
“Well, see…that’s the bad news,” Helga said. Her short legs shifted uncomfortably in the snow and her red eyes glanced at her furry brown boots. “We are having some, um, guests and you’re, uh mother thought you could, uh, sing for them,” She finished her sentence with a nervous chuckle and I looked directly into her eyes and my stomach churned. I had feeling on who these ‘guests’ were and it made me sick to even think about it.
“Who are the guests?” I asked. Helga’s eyes immediately darted back down and my suspicions were confirmed at once. “Asgardians,” I whispered. My face twisted angrily and I growled furiously. “Tell my parents that I will not come to their sick diplomatic meeting,” I snarled and I noticed Helga’s crimson eyes fill with compassion.
“I am really sorry milady,” Helga said dejectedly. Looking behind her the silhouettes of the monstrously huge guards my father kept. I knew that mother and father suspected once I figured out that Asgardians were coming to Jotunheim I wouldn’t attend the event. So for protection they had sent their strongest men to bring me. Well, I would not just go down without putting up a fight. The largest one, a guard named Wilhelm reached for my arm and my fists began to flail in the air as he picked me up in one swift motion and threw me over his shoulder. I screamed as loudly as I could and kicked him in his chiseled gut. He kept apologizing and apologizing but I just kept struggling. Halfway to the palace I exhaled and relaxed.
“Wilhelm, you can put me down, I will come quietly,” I said begrudgingly.
“Very well, princess,” he said in his deep monotone voice. He put me down and as soon as my bare feet hit the silky snow beneath, I began to run. Wilhelm was quicker than I anticipated and he grabbed the back of the fur pelt I had wrapped around my body and he hoisted me back up over his shoulder.
“Darn,” I mumbled.
“Sorry, princess, but I was given strict orders to get you to the palace,” he replied. I understood that he had to follow the orders given to him but what I didn’t understand is why my parents who had lost Alrik the same as I had would invite his executioners to dine with us.
The trek back to the palace was quick with Wilhelm walking with huge strides through the snow. Helga struggled to keep up but she was fast and so she ran next to us. She didn’t say anything and I figured she probably wouldn’t say much until this whole thing was over. One of her many quirks was that she hated confrontation.
At the palace she could see her mother and father standing side by side talking to those pale monsters. There were four of them over dressed in their armor and head pieces. I sneered disgusted looking at them. They were repulsive and as I looked at them I didn’t see decent nobles who deserved to be in the magnificent might of Jotunheim. I saw savage murderers who had blood on their hands, waterfalls of it.
I was ushered over to my mother and she nervously smiled at me knowing I was one word away from having an outburst. Her hair was done for the event and it wrapped around her head in a thick braid of black hair. She was dressed in a pure white pelt that reached the ground, the contrast on her light blue skin etched into my mind as I looked at her. “So are you ready to sing for our guests?” asked my mother. Her voice was shaky and uncertain, something I had become accustomed to since Alrik’s death. Before mother was confident, looked up when she walked and would say everything in a strong powerful voice. She was but a shell of the woman I once knew and now she walked looking at her feet and she almost always said everything softly.
“I refuse to sing for criminals,” I stated flatly. My father heard this and excused himself from talking to the King of Asgard and he sauntered over to me. Grabbing my arm and pulling me into an adjoining room and I felt his large blue hand strike me across the face. I glared at him and he only returned my deathly gaze. “You will sing,” he commanded.
“I will not,” I replied with a vicious look on my face. His hand lifted again and I braced myself. His hand came down with enormous power and the impact left a red mark against my blue face. I snarled and looked away. “I don’t understand how you can bring these butchers here,” I said looking at them from where I stood. He walked next to me and looked in the same direction. He seemed to carry a heavy weight in his scarlet eyes. A subtle sadness hung over him like a dark cloud and I knew he was hurting more than he let on. He would never say but I always knew Alrik was his favorite child. That was understandable giving that Alrik was very popular and made friends easily.
“I bring them here to bring peace, we are in no position to argue with their diplomacy,” he said.
“We can fight them, we are the superior race,” I replied, my eyes desperately pleading he would tell them to leave and that war was upon them.
“Have you looked around?! Jotunheim is in shambles. We must accept their treaty as painful as it is,” he responded.
“But…” I began.
“Know your place, Seviwen,” he hissed, “Diplomacy comes first…for now,”
We stepped out of the adjoining room and joined mother who was talking the queen of Asgard. She had golden hair and hideous pale skin. The sight of her made me sick. The sight of all of them made me sick. The princes talked amongst themselves and that worked out well for me since I would hardly have been able to keep myself control in line. We walked into the dining room which was beautiful and took my breath away every time I stepped foot into it. The ceiling was high and frosted with ice, accents of icicles laced the walls and the table stood long, carvings all over it, with ice on the feet of it. I took a seat next to my mother and across from the prince with the light hair. I grimaced losing my appetite looking at him. I couldn’t believe I was being made to sing for this repulsive party of slaughterers. Small talk was made and all the while I said nothing. I was silently brooding. I just wanted to leave or better yet send them home away from us.
“The food is very cold,” the blonde one said. Something inside of me snapped. It was an innocent enough comment but I had been waiting to exact my revenge and now I couldn’t. Anger boiled inside of me and I felt the urge to say something back to him. Have control Sev, Control is key, Sev, Control, I thought thinking back to one of the famous lines my brother had always told me. That’s right your brother who isn’t here, my thoughts whispered to me. I stood up violently and fast, my father’s eyes widened and he cocked his head to the side, silently challenging me to make my move. My mother’s face met with her hand, knowing that my temper had got the better of me.
“You are Jotunheim, you arrogant fool! If you want warm food why don’t you just go back home to Asgard, where you belong,” I yelled. He looked a bit surprised and looked around at everyone at the table. He started to apologized but I wasn’t going to let him get off so easy. “You shouldn’t apologize to me; you should apologize to the half-eaten corpses of the men and women you slaughtered. Oh wait! You can’t!” I said angrily. Flames seemed to come out of my eyes and I angrily sat back down.
After my outburst the loudest sound to be heard was the silence. My father was looking at me with his eyes ablaze. I could tell that later I would regret my angry speech, but for now I sat there staring daggers at the two princes who ate in silence. My heartbeat returned to normal and I stood up once again. I swear my father started to get up as well but then I spoke. I knew I needed to apologize even though I wasn’t sorry at all. “I am sorry,” I mumbled and I sat back down. The queen of Asgard nervously chuckled and said something about how they understood. They didn’t understand. They had ruined my life. I would ruin theirs.
With dinner finished, mother and father ushered the visiting Asgardian nobles into the center of the palace where the fond memories of performing at Laufey’s banquets flooded back to me. I didn’t ever expect to have to perform for Asgardians. The room seemed so empty and hollow. The laughter and dancing had faded along with Laufey’s rule. I sighed remember such wonderful times, and then I stood on the elevated platform that I used while I sang. It helped me to look over at the audience, which right now was less than impressive. Consisting of two princes, one of which had not stopped staring at me since he got to Jotunheim and the other who looked like a scolded child, a king who looked like he could fall asleep and a nervous queen, it was a far cry from the dazzling display I used to sing for. I took a deep breath and the song sweetly came out of my lungs. I was known for my voice in Jotunheim, ever since I was a little girl. I decided to make the Asgardians feel guilty. There was a song about a baby prince of Jotunheim who had been taken from Laufey. It had been his son.
Little prince, the snows call for you
Jotunheim misses your red eyes
Taken when you were so sweet and so new
Listen to your father’s cries
Come back little prince to Jotunheim….
The song continued and I saw that the prince who had been staring looked confused, but I put it out of my mind. When the song ended applause thundered even though it had been a small audience. I stepped off the platform and the staring prince walked over to me. “You have a very nice voice,” he said.
“You have blood on your hands,” I said. He looked puzzled and shrugged the statement off.
“What is your name?” he asked.
“You are not worthy to know my name,” I hissed.
“Where did you learn that song?” he pressed further.
“Every child knows that song,” I said. His green eyes stared into mine and I felt the need to punch him if he came any closer. “Tell me,” he hissed. I turned my back and started to walk away. I had no idea how strange this was to become.