My kingdom was destroyed. Muspelheim had fallen in the Great War of the Realms and I was the only surviving member of the royal family. The chains around my wrists and ankles clanged as I was led by the slavers of Jotunheim. The bronze collar at my throat burned with cold as I feebly tried to channel my magic again. Tears welled as the hopelessness of my situation finally seeped into my skin. “Keep moving, princess!” The chains were jerked roughly and I was sent sprawling in the snow. “Bastards… You'll burn for this when I'm free again. I swear it on the ashes of my ancestors!” Laughter echoed from my captors at my words. “We shall enjoy breaking you, little omega princess.” The largest of the group stood in front of me and lifted my chains to bring me to eye level, my sandals swinging uselessly in the air as he breathed in deeply. “Your people train omegas to properly serve their alpha, don't they?” I growled. My people trained alphas and omegas side by side to fight, build, cook, sew, mend flesh and care for your hearth equally. It had once made us a force to be feared. Now? I glared at the alpha in front of me before spitting in his red eye. He cried out and tossed me aside. I rolled and quickly regained my feet as he charged blindly. Releasing my war cry, I lept at his ankles and quickly wrapped the excess of my chains around his legs to send him toppling. Releasing his legs, I moved and wrapped my chains tightly around his throat as I spoke. “Your ways are barbaric. Your lands too cold to sustain a proper civilization. Omegas like me are worth a hundred of piss poor alphas like you.” I untangled myself with a snarl and stood to walk to the wavering campfire the other slaves had built. “She will not do as a pleasure slave. We must speak to Angrboda of this. She will know what to do.” They didn't try to hide their discussion as they spoke over the flames. “She might. Some clients like a whore with spirit.” All but the alpha I had embarrassed chuckled at the words. Baring my teeth, I hissed at the group of alphas and betas across the way. They laughed. A gentle tug on my wrist had me turning to face a beautiful child from the Capitol. “Your highness? Why didn't you escape? You could've beaten them all.” I smiled sadly and pulled her close to my side. “A princess protects her people. Our people have scattered, but I won't leave you. You have my word.” She huddled against me as I looked across the flames to the half dozen Muspelheim civilians gathered there. “I will not leave without any of you.” We slept in shifts, none trusting or captors to leave us in peace during the cold night. In the morning we were awakened to snow being dumped on the still slumbering. Shrieks filled the cold air as we all startled away. The girl, her name was Asha, stood to the side as a mountainous male held her arm to force her to watch. Growling, I stood and shook the cold slush out of my auburn braids. The Jotuns laughed as we all stood. The male holding Asha's arm had changed his grip and slowly stroked the inside of her bicep with his thumb. The girl whimpered and attempted to pull away only to be yanked against his side. The skin under my collar burned as rage and a need to protect caused my magic to crackle uncommanded. “You had your fun. Let the child go.” The Jotun who's eye I'd blinded yesterday spoke up. The man chuckled darkly and released the girl, who ran to me and began crying as I enveloped her in my arms. His eyes followed her with burning interest. Hissing at him, I turned and kept my people with me. We walked all that day in the mind numbing cold. Asha bounced at my side. “Y- your highness? I really need to p-pee.” I grinned and nodded at a small rock formation nearby. “Go. Be quick and watch for the Jotuns. I'll set up your pallet.” The girl nodded and darted away. Laughing softly, I set to the task of building our fire and setting out the threadbare blankets we'd been allotted. Cold shivers traced the length of my spine as I finished setting our camp. Jerking my head up, I looked to the Jotuns and counted before cursing and sprinting for the rock. The pervert was absent. Skidding as I rounded the formation on ice and loose stones, I felt rage building again. Burning like an inferno, I took in the scene before me. His hand was clasped tightly over her mouth and nose as his free hand pawed at her undeveloped chest. Her pants had been torn loose and her rear was exposed to the wind. Terror filled her smokey eyes and tears streaked her face. “Bastard!” I seethed. “For this, you die!” He turned to glare at me and quickly dropped her to face me. I turned my eyes to Asha. “Run.” His eyes widened and lips turned to a snarl as I jogged to him. “Omega bitch! You need to learn your place!” He growled and rushed towards me. His hand wrapped around my throat and slammed me against the rock. My shackles clanged at the impact as I twisted in his grip until my sandal connected with his groin. Crying out, he dropped me. I grabbed a larger rock nearby and began to angrily smash his head into the pebbles and ice underneath us. The sound of approaching feet had me leaving the decimated body twitching slowly on the ground and preparing to defend myself. “Get her!” Voices called out. Throwing my head back, I let out a shriek of warning before blindly charging my captors. Fists flew in a fury. I grunted as their spells stung my flesh. The golden lines on my skin grew visible as they absorbed parts of the Jotun Seidr and pushed me forward. I heard my people cheering before I turned glowing eyes upon them. “RUN!” Asha was being carried by a swift footed woman towards the nearest bifrost streak over the mountains. Three others followed them. I growled as I was flanked by two Muspelheim alphas. “We stay with our princess until Surt's forge grows cold and Ragnarok is upon us!” Tears filled my eyes at their earnest declarations. With that, we jumped towards our captors as one. Elbows and knees struck hard flesh as we fought to keep our captors occupied and give the others time to escape. I flinched as my knee collided with the sharp jaw of the one-eyed Jotun from before. He flew back on the ground and I took the chance to look up for Asha and the others in time to see them swept up in the raw wave of bifrost light. They made it. A hopeful smile spread over my face before a sharp pain struck the back of my skull. My steps faltered and vision darkened at the edges as a gravelly voice filled what was left of my conscious mind. “I hope Angrboda lets me kill you. Slowly.” Black silence met me as I slid into the blissful blankness of the unconscious.
Pain thrummed through my battered body as I was tossed angrily onto an icy marble floor. “Mi'lady Angrboda. This slave has slaughtered one of her betters and aided the escape of four others. We demand satisfaction!” A weary sigh followed by a low chuckle came from somewhere in front of me. “Even you can agree that losing the likes of Jurken was hardly a crime. He was a predator and a disgrace to my court. I won't take the life of a valuable pawn when there is still so much to gain from keeping such a pet.” Blinking in the bright, wintery light, I rose to my hands and knees. A scathing growl came from behind me. “She killed my brother and took my eye. I demand she be punished!” The frozen hall went deathly silent as footsteps echoed towards me. “Are you challenging me, Lensik?” A cool voice intoned as slow, measured footsteps approached. “N-no challenge, Angrboda. I speak in anger and grief and wish only for the justice our people can expect from you.” Lensik stuttered and shook as he replied. “Khione.” Angrboda called out after nodding. “Mother?” A soft, clear voice rang out across the room. Blinking, I looked up and met crystal clear amethyst eyes in the pale cerulean face of a Jotun omega. “How would you punish this slave and appease your people if the decision were your own?” The omega blinked and looked from Lensik to her mother before turning her eyes to me. “Perhaps your newest acquisition could take a strapping administered by the wounded family?” Angrboda’s eyebrows lifted in surprise before a smile creeped across her features. “My daughter continues to grow wise. However, I don't think that's quite far enough. Fifty lashes will be administered by the family of Jurken and then she will be taken to the arena.” Gasps filled the room and I felt my own eyes widen in disbelief. Angrboda’s arena had garnered much attention the past decade it had been in public use. The Usurper used her arena to punish and entertain her people. No one survived long enough to earn their freedom. Truly a barbaric practice if I had ever seen one. “Thank you, my lady!” Hands wrapped around my biceps and yanked me towards an icy pillar near the center of the room. My struggles began in earnest when I felt someone grip and tear my tunic away from my body until I was left bare and humiliated before the assembly of Jotuns gathered. My hands were locked in their shackles over my head and I shivered before seeking the Usurper's daughter and locked eyes. She shivered as the crack of the strap laying a stripe low on my back filled the room. I clenched my teeth and focused on the righteous rage welling within me. Another streak of pain as the leather lanced over my flesh raced through me. I would not give them the satisfaction of my cries. I continued to glare at the other young woman as she winced with every new stripe on my back. You did this.
I did this. The princess of Muspelheim’s eyes would flash between pain, rage and pride. Shifting, golden orbs so unlike the black and grey that was typical of the fire dancers we'd seen before stayed focused on mine. A shudder coursed through me. This wasn't right. The two alphas we had questioned and currently had sitting in cells under the arena had seethed with burning hatred when they relayed what they had found Jurken doing with the young female. She hadn't even presented yet. My own anger pooled low in my belly. The fire dancers had taken their retribution in the brutal way they were known for. Brutal, but fair. I will right this wrong. I hoped she could sense my emotions as we maintained our link. Red drops began to drop and smolder against the icy floor of the room as Lensik reached 37 lashes. She had bitten through her lip in determination to not cry out and the crimson smeared over her chin only accented the barbaric picture she made. Lightly bronzed skin and fierce auburn braids jerking with each touch of the lash. She held herself high and proud, even nude as she was. “Your mother was right to utilize her in the arena. Her spirit is too high for an omega.” Aadolus whispered softly in my ear as his fingers grasped my hips and pulled as though to turn me to face him. The smile flickered across my lips even as I swatted at his hands. “Omegas don't belong in the arena. Mother will face much backlash for this ruling.” He pulled my hips back against him and leaned to murmur in my ear. “That's true, my winter jasmine. Come. You shouldn't be watching this. The Muspelheim whore will live to see the arena. Your mother will be sure of that.” I stifled a shudder and softly stroked the hands at my waist. “You go. I will meet you at the usual spot in an hour. I need to see this through.” With a huff and a kiss placed behind my ear, he left as the final strokes were administered. Lensik panted and threw down the strap before storming away. She groaned softly as her arms were released from the hook above her head and she was pulled away from the room. I followed silently as she stumbled into the room designed to hold prisoners sent to the arena. “You can leave us.” The guards eyed me dubiously. “I said leave. Now. Or my mother will hear of your disobedience.” With those words spoken, they scampered away. “If you're here to gloat, spare me.” She picked up her blanket and turned it a few times before holding it to her chest and swiping her braids over her shoulder. “I'm not here to gloat. I have a salve that aids healing. I despise my mother's punishments and assist prisoners when I can.” She jerked and looked at me warily. “If you want to help me, then bring me water. I don't trust your Jotun medicine.” She spat the last at me and I smiled before leaving to retrieve water, soap and clean rags. “That's fine. This medicine is an Asgardian formula, so you should be just fine.” She grumbled and turned to lay on her stomach. “Fine. There's nothing you could do to make it worse.” I chuckled. “You would be surprised.” “The worst thing you could do at this point is kill me. I don't think your dear mother would appreciate the loss of her newest toy.” I lathered a rag before gently brushing it over the cuts and bruises crossing her back. “You lack imagination.” She clenched as I wiped at a particularly garish gash. “I could very easily introduce concoctions that would cause you great pain and make your wounds go putrid. Or paralyze you in such a way that you would be fully present mentally, yet physically incapable of protecting yourself from the advances of others.” She turned and glared at me. “Your kind call my people brutal. Barbarians. Yet you sit here and tell me how you abuse prisoners. Your kind give prisoners to an arena to fight and murder for nothing. The enjoyment of the crowd shouldn't demand blood and death. So kill me, ice princess. Paralyze me. Putrify my wounds. There's nothing more that you could take from me that hasn't been stolen already.” Her passionate words were delivered in the iciest tone I'd ever heard taken before she laid back down and faced away from me. Silently, I continued my ministrations on her back and hips. She hissed and clenched as the salve seeped in and began to mend her flesh. “My people are not barbaric. We have been pushed to barbaric lengths. You of all people, spawn of Surt, should understand that.” I felt her muscles go rigid under my hand once more before I stood and walked to her cell door. A quiet voice reached me from the other side of her room. “Thank you.” I smiled and nodded graciously before locking the door and leaving.
He's late. I had rushed to our garden alcove and made it just in time only to have been here for 15 minutes awaiting his arrival. With a huff, I turned to leave only to run into the broad expanse of his vested chest. “Did you miss me, your highness?” A rumble of amusement filtered through his chest. I smiled and wrapped my arms around his waist. Something was off as his hands found my shoulders and pulled me into a rough kiss. Groaning at his unusual ardour, I pressed into him and inhaled his basalm scent and froze. Vanilla? He stiffened against me. “What is it?” The strange scent felt very familiar as I sniffed again to place it. “Your scent…. It's tainted…” Strong arms pushed me to a distance. “As is yours. You smell smokey and coppery… you aided the Muspelheim bitch, didn't you?” My lips pressed firmly together. “Is that a problem?” His scent turned bitter before a smile spread across his features. “I only worry what your mother might do should she discover your weakness for her prisoners.” Before I could respond, his lips covered mine in a demanding kiss. Closing my eyes, I tried to melt into it. Something isn't right. He froze, growled and redoubled his efforts. I allowed his attentions and tried again to force a response, but my nose kept picking up vanilla. I could taste it. “I cannot.” He froze before leaning back ever so slightly and growling. “Cannot? Or are you punishing me for worrying about your dalliance with the damn prisoner?!” He pushed me away angrily and paced as I kept myself from falling. “Aadolus… Please…” I reached out to try to calm him only to have my hands swatted away for the effort. “I hope the whore dies screaming in the arena and you are there to watch your efforts ebb in vain, princess.” He spat. Anger rose like the tide within me. “You will remember your place.” Glowing red eyes burned in my direction. “Are you speaking down to me, my winter jasmine?” His voice was colder than the blackest winter night. “It's you that should remember your place. Remember that.” His finger traced my cheek, sending shivers down my spine. “Aadolus!” The tense spell was broken at the gruff voice splitting the silence. “Father.” Aadolus turned and bowed his head to the old Jotun. The man strode into the clearing and looked between the two of us. “Lovers quarrel?” Aadolus moved to stand behind me, his hands fell on my shoulders and painfully gripped my upper arms. “No quarrel, father. Her highness and I were just stealing a moment away from the court. Weren't we, winter jasmine?” A smile automatically plastered itself over my lips. “Of course. Forgive me. I feel a bit unwell. Excuse me.” Lightly squeezing the hand on my right bicep, I began pulling away. The hands tightened before I was pulled back and felt lips press just above my ear. “I will visit you when my business is done. This conversation is far from over.” The imperceptible whisper turned into a statement meant to be overheard by people nearby. “Feel well soon, your highness. I look forward to seeing you as the sun rises.” The hands finally released me. I felt my spine stiffen before nodding and walking hastily to my room. That was odd and did not bode well for our future.