Iskalla looked out her bedroom window to the view of the icy landscape before her. The cold land seemed to mirror her inner turmoil, as if it could sense something dark and menacing looming in her future. She delicately wiped at the tears that stained her blue cheeks. How could her father do this to her? How could he be so cruel? It was well known how the Asgardians felt about Frost Giants.
Iskalla's handmaid, Isbiter, entered the room, attempting to lift Iskalla's spirits. "Do not be nervous, dear. I am sure that you will learn to love Asgard."
A second handmaid, Tulling, followed. "They say that Thor Odinson is very handsome and a mighty warrior, if not all that bright."
Iskalla turned her head towards Tulling. "But wasn't it Thor that wanted to destroy us in retribution for ruining his coronation?"
Tulling continued to make Iskalla's bed, staying silent. It did not give Iskalla much faith.
Isbiter broke the silence, saying, "Maybe Thor has seen the error of his ways. He must have, if he wishes to partake in this alliance."
"Iskalla should feel lucky that she is not betrothed to the younger brother," gossiped Tulling. "I have heard that he is the true heathen."
The words were of little comfort. Iskalla broke down, beginning to sob uncontrollably. Iskalla's father, Isvann, walked in and ushered out the handmaidens. "Enough of this useless nattering! I must speak with my daughter. Alone."
Isvann placed his hand on his daughter's shoulder. "Cease your blubbering – it will do you no good! You know as well as I do that this is what you were born to do. To bring peace to this realm. As the princess, your responsibility is to your people. Why should you live a luxurious life while your people suffer in war? Lest we forget, that you cannot provide me with a true Frost Giant heir due to your small size. No respectable Frost Giant will have you."
Deep down, Iskalla knew that her father spoke the truth. She was looked down upon by her people and was bound by duty to marry Thor. She knew that she would have to learn, at the very least, to tolerate him in order to save her people and make the most of her future. Iskalla bravely lifted her chin.
"I will do it, father. I will marry the Odinson, Thor. For this realm."
Iskalla stepped off the Bifrost, escorted by her father's most trusted guards. She straightened her spine and looked straight ahead to face what she had to do. A tall man dressed in gold, regal armor stood before her.
She lifted the embroidered veil that covered her beautiful face. "Are you my betrothed?" Iskalla asked nervously.
The man chuckled kindly. "No, my lady. I am Heimdall. It is regretful that my Lord could not meet you, he was summoned away for an important matter."
What could be more important than meeting his future wife? Iskalla thought curiously.
"It is nice to meet you, Heimdall. Will you escort me to my living quarters while my Lord attends to his urgent matter?" Iskalla asked politely.
"Unfortunately, I cannot, my Lady. I must remain here and protect the Bifrost," said Heimdall apologetically.
One of Iskalla's guards spoke up. "I will not leave you, Iskalla. It is my duty to protect you and deliver you to your new home safely. You must not be left unattended in a strange land in which you are regarded as an enemy still."
"I will show the lady around," a deep voice came from behind Heimdall. The darkly sensual voice of the stranger caused Iskalla's skin to tingle and sparked a strange heat inside her. Iskalla was immediately intrigued. She whipped her head around to get a look at the face that belonged to the perfect voice.
He was absolutely striking.
His silky black hair was slicked back, cascading over his broad shoulders. His eyes were a piercing, sharply calculating green, seeming to penetrate the depths of her very soul. His black and green armor was perfectly tailored to his slender yet athletic body.
His tempting lips were curved into a perfunctory smile, but there was something curious about it. Something almost nefarious.
"And who might you be?" Iskalla inquired curiously, fighting the flush of attraction that was rising to her pale blue cheeks.
The stranger extended his arm regally. "I am Loki, Prince of Asgard. I am told that you are to wed my brother, Thor. It would be my pleasure to show the Lady to her quarters." While Loki's words themselves were polite, his tone bordered on disingenuous.
"Very well," replied Iskalla's guard. "I shall take my leave."
Iskalla tentatively slid her hand into Loki's arm and they began to make their way from the Bifrost. Iskalla looked at the gleaming buildings and architecture in awe, taking in all the sights and sounds that Asgard had to offer. She did not notice that Loki had not spoken anther word since they left the Bifrost.
Finally, Loki and Iskalla reached her quarters. Everything was pleasant until Loki opened the door and ushered Iskalla inside. The look on his face turned cruel as he abruptly slammed the door behind them. Iskalla did not have time to process the change in him before he was upon her, pinning her against the wall. She gasped in shock. She was both frightened and aroused from the closeness. As a virgin, Iskalla had never had a man press his body against hers before.
Loki towered over Iskalla, staring into her eyes as he brought his face closer to hers. His body was taut with tension. "Listen here, Frost Princess, I do not care that my 'father' has this idiotic notion of an alliance in his head. I do not care that you are to wed my 'brother'. I do not trust that you will bring anything but ruin to Asgard."
Iskalla, stunned, began to struggle against Loki's hold. It did little but bring her into further contact with his body. She was loath to admit that part of her enjoyed it. "I do not wish to be here anymore than you want me here! You think I don't know that Thor does not wish to marry me and your people hate my kind? I am here because I want peace, no matter how slim the chance may be. My duty is to my people, whether you like it or not."
Loki looked down mockingly at her meager struggle against his superior strength. He chuckled darkly, "It is bold of you to speak to a Prince of Asgard as you have. I admire your spine, if not much else about you." His gaze dropped lower to her bosom, which was heaving after her impassioned rant. He licked his lips. "Be warned, frost witch. I will be watching you. Closely." He leaned down and breathed "Very closely" against her cheek.
Iskalla shuddered despite herself, unable to tell if it was fear...or something more.
All at once, Loki released her from his grasp. She was met with the broad lines of his back as he turned to leave. Iskalla's brave façade did not falter until she heard the door close soundly behind her. She slid to the floor and grabbed her knees. Only then did she allow the tears to flow. She could only hope that Thor would be more friend than foe since it seemed that she had just made an enemy out of his brother.
The door creaked again, startling her. Iskalla leapt to her feet, frantically attempting to brush away the evidence of her despair. But it was too late. Loki's head popped in from behind the door.
"By the way, if you are wondering why my dear brother was not available to greet you, the whore that just walked out of his chambers should have the answer." The door creaked shut again and Loki's cruel laughter could be heard echoing from down the hall.