Elora stopped in front of him. Loki remained on his knees, looking up at her, and I wished he’d get rid of that stupid grin on his face. It only antagonized her.
“You are a small, insignificant creature,” Elora said, staring down at him. “I can and will destroy you the moment I see fit.”
“I know.” Loki nodded.
Her dark eyes were locked on his, and she stared at him for some time before I realized she was doing something to him. Saying something or controlling him somehow. He wasn’t writhing in pain, but his grin had fallen away.
With a heavy sigh, she looked away from him and motioned to the guards.
“Take him away,” Elora said.
Two of the larger guards came up behind Loki and grabbed him by his arms, pulling him to his feet. Loki was out of it after whatever Elora had done to him, and he couldn’t seem to stand.
“Where are they taking him?” I asked Elora as the guards dragged him away. Loki’s head lolled back and forth, but he was still awake and alive.
“It’s none of your concern where they take him or what happens to him,” Elora hissed at me.
She cast a glance around the room, and the other guards dispersed to do their job. Duncan lingered, waiting for me, and Tove stood a few feet back. Tove would never be intimidated by my mother, and I appreciated that about him.
“Someday, I will be Queen, and I should know what is done with prisoners,” I said, reaching for the sanest argument I had. She looked away from me and didn’t say anything for a moment. “Elora. Where did they take him?”
“Servants’ quarters, for now,” Elora told me.
She glanced over at Tove, and I had a feeling if he wasn’t here, this whole conversation would go much differently. Tove’s mother Aurora wanted to overthrow my mother, and Elora didn’t want Tove or Aurora to see any sign of weakness or unrest. And as much as I disagreed with her methods, I saw the need to respect her wishes here.
“Why? Won’t he just leave?” I asked.
“No, he can’t. I saw to it that if he tries to leave, he’ll collapse in agony,” Elora said. “We need to build a proper prison, but the Chancellor always vetoes it. So I’m left holding him myself.” She sighed and rubbed her temple again. “We’ll have a meeting to see what should be done with him.”
“What will be done with him?” I asked.
“You will attend the meeting to see what being a Queen entails, but you will not speak up in his defense.” Her eyes met mine, hard and glowing, and in my mind, she said, You cannot defend him. It will be an act of treason, and your minor defense of him now could get you exiled if Tove reports this to his mother.
She appeared even wearier than she had before. Her skin was normally porcelain-smooth, but a few wrinkles had sprouted up around her eyes. She held one hand to her stomach for a moment, as if to catch her breath.
“I need to lie down,” Elora said, and she held out her arm. “Duncan, please escort me to my chambers.”
“Yes, Your Majesty.” Duncan hurried over to help her, but as he dashed past me, he shot me an apologetic smile.
I just shook my head. I don’t know what else he could’ve done. The Vittra had tried to kill me, Finn, Tove, my brother, pretty much every person I cared about, and Loki was one of them. I shouldn’t be defending the Vittra at all, but Loki was different.
While I agreed that him turning up here did seem suspicious, he’d done nothing to justify torture. I wasn’t for letting him run wild, but I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. I wanted to find out what he was doing here before I locked him up and threw away the key.
When Elora left, I took a deep breath and shook my head. I knew I’d gotten myself a top spot on her shitlist, and that couldn’t help matters at all.
“That was good,” Tove said, and I’d almost forgotten he was there. I turned to see him grinning at me with an odd look of pride.
“What are you talking about?” I asked. “I made everything worse. Elora’s mad at me, so she’ll take it out on Loki. And I don’t even know why he’s here or why he came alone. I’m trying to rescue him, and I’m not even sure what his motives are.”
“No, that went really bad,” Tove agreed. “But I was talking about the door and the chandelier.”
“What?” I asked.
“When Elora was tormenting him, you made the door slam and the chandelier shake.” Tove gestured to both of them as if that would mean something to me.
“That was the wind or something.”
“No, you did that,” Tove assured me. “It was involuntary, but you did it. And that’s progress.”
“So anytime I want to shut a door, I just have to get Elora to torture somebody,” I said. “Sounds easy enough.”
“Knowing your mother, it would be easy.” He grinned.
We went back to train more, but I was distracted and couldn’t make anything move for the remainder of the day. After Tove had gone, I headed up to my room. I thought I’d check on Matt first, since the alarm going off had to have freaked him out, and Rhys was at school. I knocked on Matt’s door, and when he didn’t answer, I ventured inside, but he wasn’t there.
With the Vittra breaking in, I felt a little freaked about not knowing where Matt was. Before I decided on an all-out search of the premises, I went to my room to grab a sweater, and I found a note from Matt pinned to the door.
Gone over to Willa’s. Be back later.
Great. I ripped the note down and went into my room. But I’d told him I’d be training all day, so he didn’t need to wait around for me. I could have really used some time to talk to him, since everything felt like absolute chaos, and he was hanging out with Willa, which didn’t even make sense. I couldn’t imagine what the two of them would be doing, spending all that time together. They should be hating each other.
I flopped on my bed and fell asleep pretty quickly. I didn’t realize I’d been that tired, but I guess using my abilities took a lot out of me.
I’d gotten used to the defense meetings after the big Vittra break-in during my christening ceremony.
We met in the War Room in the south wing. The walls were plastered with maps. Red and green patches speckled them, indicating other tribes of trolls.
A huge mahogany table stood at one end, a drawing board behind it. Elora and Aurora, Tove’s mother, stood at the far side of the table. For some reason, they always led the defense meetings together. Aurora didn’t trust Elora to run the kingdom, but I still didn’t know why Elora tolerated Aurora taking any amount of control.