“Sit down,” Matt suggested.
“Why? I don’t wanna sit down.”
“Sit down anyway,” Matt said, more firmly this time. When Rhys didn’t respond, Matt repeated his command. “Rhys, sit down.”
“I don’t get why it’s so important to you that I sit down.” Rhys grew more agitated as Matt pressed him, which was strange, since I’d never really heard him sound irritated with anyone. “I’m fine standing up.”
“You can’t sit down.” Matt sighed, looking over at me. “You broke him a different way, Wendy.”
“Wendy did this?” Rhys furrowed his brow. “I don’t understand. What did you do? You told me not to sit?”
“No, I told you to sit, and you couldn’t stand. Then I told you to stand, and you can’t sit.” I sighed in frustration. “Now I don’t know what to say! I don’t really wanna say anything anymore. I might make it so you stop breathing or something.”
“Can you do that?” Matt asked.
“I don’t know!” I threw my hands up. “I have no idea what I’m capable of.”
“I can’t sit down for a while.” Rhys shrugged. “Big deal. I don’t even wanna sit down.”
“That’s probably a side effect of the persuasion,” I told him as I paced our cell.
“Whatever, I don’t care if it is,” Rhys said. “It doesn’t matter. I’m not in a situation that calls for sitting down, anyway. The important thing is that you know that you can do this. You can use this, we can get out of here, and somebody in Förening can fix me. Okay?”
I stopped pacing and looked uneasily at Matt and Rhys. Rhys was right. I needed to get us out of here. It wasn’t safe here, and Rhys’s inability to sit was a secondary concern. If anything, it just made me want to get us out of here quicker.
“Are you guys ready?”
“For what?” Matt asked.
“To run. I don’t know what’s on the other side of the door, or how long I can hold them off,” I said. “As soon as they open the door, you have to be ready to run as fast as you can, as far as you can.”
“Aren’t you just gonna Star Wars them?” Rhys asked, completely unfazed by the idea. “When Obi-Wan’s like, ‘These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.’”
“Yeah, but I don’t know how many guards there are, or how dangerous they might be.” My thoughts flashed back to Finn and how he hadn’t been at my house during the attack. I shivered involuntarily and shook my head.
“Let’s just get out of here, okay? There’s no way to know what we’re up against, so let’s deal with it as it comes. Anything’s better than sitting around waiting for them to figure out what they want to do with us. Because when they do decide, I have a feeling it won’t be good.”
Matt didn’t look convinced, but I doubted anything could’ve convinced him. This whole thing had turned into a giant horrible mess, all because I hadn’t wanted to stay in Förening and be a stupid Princess.
If I had, none of this would’ve happened. Matt and Rhys would be at their respective homes, safe and sound, and Finn would be … well, I didn’t know where he’d be, but it had to be better than where he was now.
With that thought burning in my mind, I pounded on the door, knocking as loudly as I could. My fist hurt from how hard I hit, but I didn’t care.
“What?” a deep, craggy voice asked, and a slot slid open in the middle of the door.
I bent over to peer through, and I saw the hobgoblin that had come in with Loki. His eyes were buried under bushy eyebrows, and I wasn’t sure if I had a good enough view to persuade him. Or if it even worked on actual trolls. They appeared to be an entirely different species.
“Ludlow, is it?” I asked, remembering the name Loki had shouted when sending for help.
“Don’t try to sweet-talk me, Princess.” The hobgoblin coughed, retching up phlegm and spitting it on the ground. He wiped his face on the back of his sleeve before turning back to me. “I’ve turned down far prettier girls than you before.”
“I need to go to the bathroom.” I dropped any pretense of being friendly. I had a feeling that honesty and cynicism would go further with him.
“So go. You don’t have to ask me for permission.” Ludlow laughed, but it wasn’t a pleasant sound.
“There’s no bathroom in here. I’m not gonna squat on the ground,” I said, genuinely disgusted by the idea.
“Then hold it.” Ludlow started to shut the slot, but I put my hand out, blocking it.
“Can’t you get a guard or something to take me to the bathroom?” I asked.
“I am the guard,” Ludlow snapped, sounding huffy.
“Oh, really?” I smirked at him, realizing this might be far easier than I thought.
“Don’t underestimate me, Princess,” Ludlow growled. “I eat girls like you for breakfast.”
“So you’re a cannibal?” I wrinkled my nose.
“Ludlow, are you harassing the poor girl?” came a voice from behind Ludlow. He moved to the side, and through the slot I saw Loki swaggering toward us.
“She’s harassing me,” Ludlow complained.
“Yes, talking to a beautiful Princess—what a rough lot you have in life,” Loki said dryly, and Matt snorted behind me.
Ludlow muttered something, but Loki held up his hand, silencing him. Then he was too close to the door for me to see his face. The slot was at Ludlow’s eye level, which came up to Loki’s waist.
“What seems to be the problem?” Loki asked.
“I need to go to the bathroom.” I leaned in closer to the slot, peering up at him. I wanted to catch his eyes, but they remained out of my vision.
“And I told her to go inside the cell,” Ludlow said with pride.
“Oh, come, now. She’s not a common mänks. We can’t leave her in squalor!” Loki chastised the troll. “Open the door. Let her out.”
“But sir, I’m not to let her out until the King calls for her.” Ludlow looked up at him nervously.
“You think the King would want her treated this way?” Loki asked, and the hobgoblin wrung his hands. “You can explain to the Majesty that this is all my fault, if it comes to it.”
Ludlow nodded reluctantly. He slid the slot shut, and I let him this time. I stood up and listened to the sounds of the bolts and locks clicking and turning.