Chapter 1: Loki
Loki watched her from his seat across the table. Beside him, Thor bellowed on about some misbegotten battle he’d waged against the Jotuns just a few days prior. This feast was being held in his dear brother’s honor, as most of them were. Loki didn’t mind. He’d been living in the darkness of Thor’s shadow for so long that it scarcely affected him anymore.
“And then one of the monsters appeared out of nowhere!” Thor boomed, thrusting a mug of mead in the air as though it were that stupid hammer of his.
“Yes, and then? Do go on, m’lord!” A young woman Loki didn’t recognize leaned forward in her chair, eyes wide. Thor was more than happy to oblige.
How Thor’s story ended, Loki would never know. The very moment his brother started speaking again , Lady Sif got up from the table and exited the hall in a flash of cream colored silk. Loki’s eyes remained on her empty chair. No one seemed to notice her absence.
Except for him.
“Excuse me,” Loki murmured. Thor’s story was reaching its climax. Loki knew full well that his presence would not be missed. After all, who would pay attention to a lowly snake while there was a lion in the room?
Cape fluttering at his heels, Loki left the way Sif did. Unnoticed.
The rest of the palace was silent. Anyone who was anyone in Asgard was attending Thor’s feast, which meant that Loki could spend the evening doing whatever he pleased. The possibilities were endless. Why, he could have planted a nest of rats in the wine cellar or change the locks on Thor’s door. Mischief, however, could not soothe the burning ache in his heart. Only she could do that.
Finding her was easy enough. Sif was very much like his brother in that she was rather predictable. When they were children, Thor would do something to upset her and Sif would always flee to the same room. She claimed that watching the flames dance back and forth as they consumed the wood was soothing. Loki didn’t understand how such a thing was soothing, but he dared not question it.
Not when he was so close to capturing her at last.
“What are you doing here?” Sif muttered crossly as he entered the room. She lounged upon one of the sitting room’s many couches, plucking a grape from a bowl she’d no doubt stolen from the feast.
Loki offered her the smallest of smiles. “I was merely worried about you, dear lady. You left so quickly that I—“
“Save your silver tongue the work, Loki. I do not want to hear it.”
Loki’s eyes dropped to the delicately pattered floor. He did not wish to test her. Not when she was in such a delicate emotional state. He’d felt the wrath of Lady Sif before, more times than he wished to admit. He went to the couch instead, sitting as near as his desires would allow.
Sif did not speak to him and he did not speak to her. Occasionally, she would cast him a sideways glance before going right back to her food. They remained this way for what seemed like an eternity, and then, Sif spoke.
“Thor is an idiot.”
“Perhaps,” Loki mused. “He is reckless, yes, but he does have quite the gift for storytelling. And here I thought I was talented one.”
“Your talents are different than his. That is all.” Sif replied after a considerable pause.
Loki felt himself sinking in the cushions of the couch. Fire crackled loudly in the center pit, the soft orange glow illuminating Sif’s features. He took in a deep breath. She smelled fresh and clean, not overdone like some of the ladies back in the dining hall. There was an honesty in Sif that he admired, strangely enough. Tricks and illusions were good fun, but, at the end of the day, they were just that. Illusions. Fake and intangible. Sif, however, was real. So wonderfully, deliciously real.
He was unsure when the attraction started. As with most things in life, it sprang up unbidden. And he, with all his godly charms, was powerless to stop it. It drove him absolutely mad. Loki liked having things exactly as he wanted them, but Lady Sif was no piece of furniture he could move whenever he desired. She was not Thor, whom he could simply manipulate. She was so vastly different from anything he’d ever encountered before, and that, perhaps, was what he enjoyed most of all.
“Loki?” Sif asked.
Loki looked up to see that she was looking at him, but not with the careless glance so many others fixed him with. No, Lady Sif was really looking.
“Why did you come?”
My, what a loaded question. Loki considered it for a moment. Finally, he came up with an answer that seemed appropriate. A truthful answer.
He draped an arm over the top of the couch and leaned forward. “Because I was worried about you.”
Sif shook her head. “Do not lie to me, Loki.” There was a tremor in her voice he had not heard before.
“Why would I lie to you?”
“Because it’s what you do!” She burst out in a sudden flare of emotion.
He frowned, voice dropping to a severe whisper. “Is that all you think I am? Lies?”
She did not answer. Loki took her silence as a resounding “yes.” It hurt him more—coming from her—than he thought it would. Years ago, when they were children, Sif was his staunchest ally. He did not call her a friend, for Loki never let anyone get so close, but she was always there when Thor, his own brother, was not.
How had they drifted so far?
“Just because I do not show it like my oaf of a brother does not mean that I do not feel.” Loki found that, with each word he spoke, he was slowly moving toward her. She was not moving at all. “I feel just as deeply as he does, just as deeply as you do. And what I feel for you is no lie, Sif.”
By the time he had finished, Loki was practically hovering over her, fingers digging into the cushions of the couch. Sif stared up at him, wide eyed and breathless. Her lips were parted in words she could no longer find.
Trembling, Loki backed away. He began to rise from the couch, but Sif grabbed him by the wrist, effectively impeding any progress he might have made.
“You’re just going to leave, then?” She asked, rising to meet him.
He reached down and brushed a strand of hair from her smoothness of her cheek. “Why should I stay?”
Sif did not hesitate. “Because I want you to.”
Loki didn’t need to be told twice. He sat back down on the couch, drawing her to him. “Do you still think me a liar?”
“It doesn’t matter. Not right now.” With that, Sif pressed her mouth to his.
Her lips were soft and warm, just as he thought they would be. She tasted of wine and sweetbread. The thought occurred to him that she might have been a little drunk. That her kisses were lies, that her skin against his was nothing more than a lusty trick. Fortunately, Loki could not bring himself to care, for they were all liars in the end.
Sif, Thor, his father. Liars, each and every one.
Chapter 2: Sif
In which Sif wakes up the next morning and finds that all is not what it seems...
In this chapter, we get Sif's point of view. I'm not sure why I decided to switch POVs. Seemed like the right thing to do at the time. Loki will be back in Chapter Three!
Sif awoke the next morning with a splitting headache and a bad taste in her mouth. What memories she had of the night before were fuzzy at best. A flash of green here, a flush of heat there. Nothing significant. This lack of recollection bothered her. Anything could have happened.
“I am never drinking again,” she muttered into the couch cushions.
The fire had long been extinguished and, outside the sitting room, she could hear footsteps. One of Queen Frigga’s ladies-in-waiting appeared in the doorway.
“Lady Sif?” The girl asked nervously.
Fighting a wave of nausea, Sif sat up. She ran her tongue along her lower lip, tasting wine and something else. Something she couldn’t quite identify. “Yes?”
“I-I was sent to check on you.”
Sif arched an eyebrow. “Does the Queen need me for something?”
She hoped not. It was shameful enough letting a lady-in-waiting see her in such a disheveled state, but the Queen? Sif would not allow it.
Thankfully, the girl shook her head. Sif let out the breath she hadn’t known she’d been holding. What a relief. She wouldn’t have to—
“No, m’lady. It wasn’t the Queen who sent me. It…it was Loki.”
Sif froze. Loki? Why in the Nine Realms would he want to check on her?
“Did he say why?”
“No, m’lady. I’m sorry. I could go ask him, if you’d like?”
Sif got up from the couch, swaying a little before she regained her balance. The poor girl looked terrified enough. It would be cruel to send her back to Loki alone. The other Odinson brother wasn’t nearly as inviting as Thor. Where Thor was light, Loki was dark. Where Thor was loud, Loki was quiet. Where Thor was rough, Loki was smooth. They were different in every way imaginable, and since most Asgardians preferred the sun to the moon, Loki often got the short end of the stick.
It wasn’t fair, but it was how things were.
“I’ll go to him myself. You are dismissed.”
The girl smiled feebly. “Thank you, m’lady.”
The journey to Loki’s chamber was a long one. Sif could feel the others watching her, judging her. Some were subtle. Others, like Volstagg, were not. He threw a massive arm around her shoulders and asked where she’d been all morning. She didn’t want to tell him that she’d woken up on a couch with matted hair and her dress half torn, so she lied. It was a beautiful lie, really. One worthy of the god of mischief himself.
“I’ve been busy,” was all she said.
Volstagg, having gotten distracted by some wandering servant’s platter of food, did not ask any more questions.
When at last she reached Loki’s door, she stared at it for a moment, unsure of what to do. The last time she’d been in his rooms was when they were children. The memory of that evening was still fresh in her mind. Loki and Thor had gotten into a particularly bad argument and Loki stormed away in a huff. Worried, Sif followed him.
He was sitting on his bed, tears streaming down his face. There was an egg-shaped bruise forming underneath his left eye. Sif took a reluctant step forward.
“Loki?” She asked. “Are you okay?”
“Go away!” Loki cried, hands clenching into fists.
Sif didn’t much like being told what to do. She ignored his command and sat down next to him. He remained silent.
Her eyes studied his swollen face. “You’re not okay, are you?”
Though his tears had dried, Loki still looked sad. So very sad. Sif doubted there was anyone in the Nine Realms as sorrowful as Loki Odinson. It was not uncommon for him to get this way. Sometimes, he would lock himself up in his room for hours at a time doing whatever it was Loki did when he was alone. Sif suspected he practiced his magic. He was very good at it.
“I don’t want you here,” Loki said at last.
Sif was unperturbed. She liked to think that she knew him well enough to know when he was lying, and this was one of those times. He needed her there. He could insist all he wanted, but Sif refused to leave. Because that, in her twelve year old mind, was what friends did. They stayed. No matter what.
“You’re a liar.”
Loki didn’t like that. “I am not!”
“Yes you are.” Sif replied coolly. “You want to know why?”
Sif reached across the bed and took his hand, squeezing it tight. “Because I know you want me here. You’re just saying you don’t. It’s okay, Loki. I don’t mind.”
His eyes dropped to their intertwined hands. He was very quiet for a moment. Sif was sure that her speech had worked. He would let her stay now, wouldn’t he? In truth, she did not want to go back to Thor. He was being more obnoxious than usual that day, made evident by the bruise under Loki’s eye. She didn’t want to return to her parents, either. They would just make her practice her curtsy.
Loki didn’t make her do anything. He was not obnoxious. He was simply…Loki. Quiet, unassuming Loki. With him, Sif felt as though she did not have to hide behind a ladylike veneer. He let her be her and she let him be him. That was it.
“Sif?” Loki lifted his eyes to meet hers.
“Why did you come?”
Sif smiled. “Because I was worried about you.”
When Sif left later that night, it would be fourteen years until she returned again.
Fourteen years. Sif stared at the door. Fourteen years was a long time. Too long. Part of her didn’t want to knock, that way she could just go back to the way things were and never come back here again. Another part insisted that she had to knock, that walking away was cowardly. Lady Sif was many things, but a coward was not one of them.
The door opened a mere moment later.
“Hello, Sif. You look well.” Loki stood in the doorway, tall and thin. He was wearing his usual armored garb. Sif couldn’t recall a time when she’d seen him in anything else. His appearance was a little jarring for some reason. This Loki was not the boy from her memories, but a man. A dark man, an austere man, a…a handsome man, she had to admit. While Thor commanded much of the attention in Asgard, Loki was not without his admirers. What with his razor sharp wit and shadowy good looks, Loki provided something vastly different than his loud, golden brother.
Sif cleared her throat. “You called for me, Loki?”
“I did. I wanted to make sure you were all right. You had quite the wild night. Or so I’ve heard.” There was laughter in Loki’s voice, a lilting chuckle she could not help but find suspicious.
“And so you send one of your mother’s handmaidens after me?”
“I was concerned.”
“Why not check on me yourself?”
Loki’s lips twitched in a smirk. “Ah, that is a very good question. I was busy, you see.”
“With what?” Sif scoffed.
“Things,” he replied cryptically.
“More of your tricks, then?”
“But of course! I have a reputation to uphold, dear lady.”
“Then what do you want?”
“I’ve already told you.”
Sif sighed. This conversation was going absolutely nowhere. She began to walk away, but Loki said something that stopped her dead in her tracks.
“You remember nothing of last night?”
She turned around. Perhaps he was the reason why she could not remember. It certainly sounded like one of his tricks. “What did you do?”
“Nothing.” He replied slowly, clasping his hands behind his back.
Anger set her blood to a boil. Why did he always have to do this? Why did he lie to her all the time? Why could he not be honest with her?
“Loki, if you did something, I swear I will—“ Loki lifted a silencing hand. “Peace, Sif. I did not tamper with that pretty little head of yours. I promise. I was only wondering is all.”
His words did very little to calm her. If anything, they only made her angrier. She swallowed her rage, however. Loki would not get a rise out of her. Not this time.
“Stay away from me,” she said coldly.
“That will be very difficult.” Loki admitted quietly.
Sif’s stomach dropped. She didn’t want to ask what he meant, she really didn’t, but…
“What do you mean?”
“Nothing,” he replied, ever the quick one.
Sif pressed her lips together, still tasting wine. “I’m leaving,” she said, and walked away.
Chapter 3: Loki
Good Gods, I am so sorry I've been gone! I'm really sorry it's taken me so long to update this thing. Anyway, here's the third part from Loki's point of view. Sif's up next! Thanks so much for reading and kudos and all that. I really appreciate it!
Pretending was not hard for a man like Loki. He had a lot of practice, you see. For example, he pretended to care about Thor’s inane war stories. He pretended to like that ridiculous horned monstrosity of a helmet. He pretended to enjoy the company of the Warriors Three. Each day, without fail, Loki molded himself into something he was not, all for the sake of others. He considered his dishonesty a gift. The truth was often hard to hear and even harder to accept. By lying, he avoided conflict.
As skilled as he was, there was one thing Loki could not bring himself to lie about.
And that one thing was Sif.
In the weeks succeeding the night they shared together, Loki realized that he loved her. He loved her more than he’d ever loved anything.
Which was why he erased her memory. That night on the couch was nothing but a drunken mistake. That was obvious to him now. Sif had too much wine. She did not feel for him what he felt for her. It would be easier for the both of them if she never remembered at all. He didn’t like tampering with her mind, but Loki decided long ago that he would do what he had do to spare himself from further emotional torment.
Besides, everyone knew that it was Thor she fancied.
To keep his feelings at bay, Loki immersed himself in his studies. He read every book could find. Twice, if it was good enough. When he was not reading, he was experimenting.
Magic required constant attention. Neglected, its extraordinary power would no doubt consume him. Just as Sif did.
Loki sat upon the steps of the feasting hall. It was empty, save for a lone servant girl. She scrubbed the floor, wiped the table. She didn’t look at him. He did not look at her. When she was finished, she gathered up her supplies and hurried out of the room.
The moment she exited, another entered.
“Loki! There you are!” Thor’s loud tenor echoed throughout the hall.
Loki cringed. Even on good days, Thor was one of the last people Loki wished to see. And this was most certainly not a good day. The urge to rip the golden boy’s throat out threatened to overwhelm him. How nice it would be never have to hear that voice again!
Unfortunately, most Asgardians disapproved of random acts of violence. Even if they were justified.
Thor settled on the step above him. “Loki, brother. This is the first time I’ve seen you in weeks! I didn’t know if you’d ever come out of that room of yours!”
“How touching,” said Loki.
It seemed that the would-be King of Asgard didn’t quite comprehend sarcasm. What a surprise. Thor simply smiled his huge smile, pleased at how well he’d done in looking out for his dear brother.
“I’m sure you’ve missed me just as much as I’ve missed you.” Thor said.
“I’m sure,” Loki replied bitterly.
Thor laughed, ignoring Loki’s sour tone. “What have you been doing, anyway?”
“What kind of things?”
“Things that don’t concern you.”
Thor nodded and let the conversation die for once. Silence befell them, then. Blessed, lovely silence. Loki took this as an opportunity to leave.
“Sif has been wondering about you, you know.” Thor called.
The skin on the back of Loki’s neck prickled at the mention of her name. He did not turn away from the door. He would not allow Thor to see him like this, for Loki knew if he
looked at his reflection in a mirror, he would not see himself—but a man whose heart had been fractured beyond repair. Thor did not know love. He did not know loss. Therefore, there was no way he could possibly understand what Loki felt each and every time someone said Sif’s name.
“I think she’s worried about you. Just as I am.” Thor continued. “Maybe you should speak with her?”
“I don’t think that would be wise.”
Dreading his brother’s response, Loki fled.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Days turned into weeks and those weeks piled on top of one another until an entire month had passed. One month. Loki could scarcely believe it. Sif was little more than a passing spectre to him now. Or so he’d fooled himself into believing. No longer was she something attainable. Something he could have. Something he could hold. She was simply a myth. A terrible ghost. She cropped up on the periphery of his vision, the outskirts of his dreams. Her smile taunted him from a distance. But that was all. Distance. Far reaching
I am so well practiced that I can even trick myself, he thought on several occasions. Never had he been so grateful for it than when he ran into Sif at yet another one of Thor’s pompous victory feasts.
It was crowded. These things usually were. Everyone wanted to watch Asgard’s finest warrior make an ass out of himself, Loki supposed. He had to admit that it was somewhat amusing—when it wasn’t annoying, that is. Loki had gone to the kitchens for more mead and returned to find the Lady Sif watching him, as a hawk watched its prey.
Loki, in the name of self-preservation, ignored her. He kept his eyes to the gold encrusted floor, though he knew resistance was pointless. Sif got what she wanted when she wanted it. And now it appeared she wanted him. Her fierce gaze cut through the crowd of sycophants and lanced him clean through. His fingers trembled with long repressed desire.
Coward, a voice that sounded suspiciously like his father’s whispered. Look at her. Look at her!
He did. Loki looked. When their eyes met, time did not cease to exist. The others still chattered and Thor still bellowed. Life did not stop just because Loki did.
Sif looked away first, carrying the rest of his sanity with her. Loki felt something inside him snap. It was a sudden twist, a nearly imperceptible twinge, but it was enough. Enough to make him shoot up from his chair like an arrow from a bow. The others paid him no mind. He was the lesser Odinson. The dark horse. The trickster.
He was not the hero. In some circles, he was the villain.
And villains did bad things, yes? Of course they did. Without their unholy ways, they were nothing more than ambivalent souls floating in the grey depths of purgatory. Loki hated the uncertainty of it all, so he made a choice.
Wading his way through dozens of drunken revelers, Loki arrived at Sif’s side. His bones buzzed with the promise of her touch. It had been so long. So damn long.
“Loki?” Sif nearly choked on her mead.
“I need you.” Loki breathed. His hand gripped the back of her chair, his knuckles blanching white. “I need you.”
Across the table, Thor slammed his fist down. Everyone around him roared with laughter. Loki drew in a sharp breath. He hoped Sif had heard him. He didn’t want to repeat himself.
She stared at him. “What?”
Frustrated to the point of implosion, Loki seized Sif by the wrist and wrenched her out of her seat. She stumbled into him, eyes wide with shock.
“I need you,” he whispered in her ear. His voice had grown hoarse, strained. “I need you. Please. I can’t—“
“Loki, we mustn’t talk about this here.” Sif, too, was trembling.
More laughs erupted from Thor’s end. This was his chance.
“Come with me.” Loki said, though he really didn’t give her a choice. With her hand firmly clasped in his, they exited the party as they did that first time those many days ago.
Chapter 4: Sif
For those of you who are uncomfortable reading sexual situations, I should warn you that it gets a teensy bit graphic near the middle. It isn't too bad, but I just wanted to let you guys know. Thanks!
Sif stumbled after Loki on unusually clumsy feet. They rushed down the main hall and made a sharp turn into a smaller corridor that, under normal circumstances, would have served as an escape route. The palace was filled with these hidden pathways. Sif had wandered many of them in childhood and the ones she didn’t find were included on the maps she’d studied in her training. They were only to be used in emergency situations, so Sif could not help but panic when Loki guided her to one.
“I need you.” He’d had been repeating this phrase since they left the feast. And now he repeated it again.
“I need you.”
Sif tried not to think about what the meaning behind those three words was. She’d gone so long without him, so long that she managed to convince herself that she didn’t wanted him anymore. But wants and needs were two totally different beasts. Wanting something implied that it was not vital to one’s survival, that it was simply a desired amenity. Need was more intense than that. Needing something implied that it was absolutely essential to one’s existence. Fish needed water. Birds needed wings. And Loki needed her. He didn’t want her. He needed her. He needed her in the most primal sense of the word. He needed her, because without her, he could no longer exist. The realization threatened to bring Sif to her knees. She had to muster every bit of her warrior’s strength in order to keep from falling apart.
He needs me, she thought dizzily. He needs me.
“Sif.” Loki pressed her up against the wall, his hands cupping her face. His eyes, like twin chips of ice, studied the contours of her lips. His breaths came in heavy, wine scented gasps. “I need you.”
Sif made a noise, a sound that was not quite a laugh, not quite a scoff, but a product of her overwhelmed psyche. “So I’ve heard.” Loki frowned and Sif knew she’d gone and messed everything up. Dread coiled in the pit of her stomach like a loaded spring. She wanted nothing more in that moment than to disappear. She’d seen Loki do it a few times. Why couldn’t she?
And then, without warning, he kissed her. He kissed her only as a desperate man could, with all the hunger of a starving wolf, with all the tenderness of a newfound lover. Heat blossomed beneath the skin Loki touched. He didn’t seem to know what to do with his hands and that was fine by Sif. It was an oddly endearing experience. Loki Odinson, prince of Asgard and God of Mischief, had no idea how to touch a woman. Perhaps his nerves were getting the best of him.
“Loki!” Sif gasped as his lips grazed her jawbone. “What—“
“Don’t,” he growled, hands clutching her hips.
The time for words had passed, for there was nothing that could express what she felt when his mouth found hers again.
For the first time in her entire life, Sif let go. She set free her apprehension, threw caution to the wind.
This was not the time for words.
This was a time for action.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
“You need me?” Sif asked when it was over. A shiver danced up her spine when she spoke those pivotal words. They’d changed everything. She went from barely even looking at Loki to lying stark naked in his bed. Funny how these things worked.
Loki’s arms tightened around her waist. “More than I can possibly say.”
“Loki Odinson, Asgard’s very own silver tongue, is at a loss for words?” Sif sat up, straddling his pelvis, hands spreading the length of his pectorals. “I won’t believe it.”
He laughed and reached up to brush a strand of hair from her face. Sif smiled. She loved hearing him laugh. “You’ve rendered me speechless, darling. I hope you’re happy.”
“Under these circumstances? Yes, I am very happy.” Loki responded with a kiss, the kind of kiss that made Sif forget everything that wasn’t him. She’d been doing that a lot lately. Forgetting. It was troubling, yes, but not troubling enough to stop. He was on top of her now and ready to go again. She could see it in his eyes, the sharp glint of desire. Her back arched in anticipation. Her hands slid up the length of his sculpted torso and came to rest on his shoulders.
By this time tomorrow night, I will know every angle of his body. The thought was enough to steal her breath away.
“Again?” Loki panted, pressing a line of frantic kisses to her neck. Sif grinned. How powerful she felt! The thrill of battle had nothing on the thrill of lust. She did not need a sword to bring Loki down. She needed only her body. The tumble of her hair, the subtle curves of her torso, and the swell of her breasts were weapons in and of themselves, deadlier than any blade.
With great power came great responsibility. By that logic, Sif figured that giving Loki what he wanted whenever he wanted it would be an abuse of her authority. He had to learn some discipline.
“Sif,” Loki groaned. Poor man. He sounded very distressed. “Say something.”
“Hm?” That was a something, was it not?
“You’re enjoying this, aren’t you? Torturing me?”
“Perhaps a little.”
“Cruel, cruel woman.”
Crueler still, Sif’s fingers skimmed along the upper part of his thigh and he shuddered against her, muscles stiffening with the ecstasy he was obviously trying so hard to reign in. “Is this what you want, my Prince?”
“Sif!” He gasped. His patience was wearing thin. “Please!”
“Well, since you said please—“
In a positively delightful display of dominance, Loki pressed her down into the bed and kissed her with everything he had. A great pressure mounted inside of her, a pressure that was doing everything in its power to destroy her. She needed release. And she needed it now.
When nothing happened, it took all Sif had not to scream. One moment he’d been begging her for another go and now he was…Wait, where was he?
Sif sat up, crossing her arms over her chest. She found Loki standing at the door pulling on his trousers. “Loki, what in the Nine Realms are you doing?”
“Something’s happened.” His tone was grim.
Her blood ran cold. A million different scenarios began playing out in her head. Perhaps the party had gotten out of hand? “What…what do you mean? What happened?”
“I have to go,” was all he said.
“Loki, where are you—“
“Don’t wait for me.”
He was gone. And she was alone. Again. Something about this seemed terribly familiar. Like it had happened before. Though when she tried to recall the memory, all she received was static. Her brain felt fuzzy. She breathed in deeply and tried again. Nothing.
A third attempt sent a sharp arrow of pain lancing through her skull.
“Oh!” She doubled over, tears dribbling from the corners of her eyes. The pain grew to encompass her entire body. She knew nothing but its agonizing throb. It hurt worse than any shattered limb, any contusion. It hurt worse than any ill she’d suffered since starting her training.
“Stop,” she whimpered feebly as the pain reached its crippling crescendo. “Stop!”
Whatever was controlling the pain must have heard her pleas, because the sharpness edged away and gentle waves of black began rippling on the periphery of her vision. Calm spread through her like a sickness, infecting every muscle so that she no longer possessed the strength to hold herself up. She collapsed to the pillows.
Sleep, a voice that was not her own said. Sleep.
And sleep she did.