Chapter 1: Wrong Place, Wrong Time
Mandy slowly walks home from Westminster High. She is the drama teacher there. She hums "Once Upon a December" from Anastasia, one of her favorite musicals. She loves the musical so much that she named her mousy brown cat Anya, the name Anastasia took on when she fell victim to amnesia. The theater kids at Westminster High would perform Anastasia in a month. It is quite exciting for Mandy.
Mandy is ten walking minutes away from her small home. Ten minutes away from holding Anya. Mandy turns down a street and hears a loud bang. She abruptly turns her head to find where they sound came from. A small section of this block is normally out of repair. The owner of the land doesn't seem to care, despite the city constantly coming after him for it. Normally, the land was empty. Despite the owner, Mr Kent, not using the property for anything, he is not afraid of prosecuting trespassers. Hardly anyone ever went on his land. But today seemed to be an exception.
Mandy sighs. Usually, the trespassers were new around there and didn't know any better. There have been multiple people Mandy has saved from the anger of Mr Kent by quickly getting them off of the property. Mandy assumes it is a similar situation she can handle. She quietly walks into the old building, noting how much it needed fixing. It did no use to Mr Kent. He couldn't rent it out, not when there are laws about what owners must have fixed for their renters. He really ought to either fix it up or sell it to someone who will.
Mandy listens for any sign of life. She hears some people talking downstairs, in the basement. Mandy starts to walk down the stairs, mentally preparing herself for the confrontation. She hopes they will listen to her and let her help them; it would be a nasty law suit if they were to be caught. Mandy hears faint footsteps near her.
"Don't move," a masculine voice says behind her. Mandy raises her arms in surrender and turns to the man behind her. She didn't know what she expected, probably just some kid fresh out of high school, trying to sound intimidating. Unfortunately for him, Mandy's father was a police officer. She could protect herself in a fist fight. But the man behind her is not who she expected.
She turns to find an arrow pointed at her chest. Her eyes widen in shock and fear. The man is in all black. He has short blonde hair and insanely bright blue eyes. Something about his eyes appears...off. It doesn't look natural. "What are you doing here?" the man asks. He sounds American.
"The owner, Mr Kent, he hates it when people trespass, I just wanted to warn you!" Mandy hurriedly says. "If he catches you, you'll be in for a nasty law suit you won't win!"
"This Kent person won't be a problem..., but you will."
Mandy begins to hyperventilate. She begins to grow slightly dizzy because of the inefficiency of her breathing. She thinks back to what her father taught her to do in a situation like this. While Mandy can hold her own in a fist fight, she doesn't know the first thing about fighting a man with a bow. She does what she deems the only logical thing, despite worrying what consequences it will have: she screams, her whole body shaking, backed against the wall.
Before she knew it, the archer was closer, with the arrow now poking Mandy's chest. Mandy stares at the arrow in fear. Well, that didn't help, she thinks.
"Bad move," the man says. Mandy closes her eyes and braces for impact from the arrow. Impact that never comes.
"Now, now, what do we have here?" a man that sounds English says. Mandy opens her eyes to see a man with long, black hair, in black and green leather standing nearby. He quickly makes note of every detail there is to Mandy's appearance.
"She almost walked right in on us," the American says.
"Did she now? Well, that's no reason to kill such a pretty little thing, Agent Barton." Immediately, the American pointed his bow away from Mandy. Her lip quivers as the English man comes closer to her. The man notices and smirks. "And what would you be doing here?"
"I, I came to, to warn you. Mr, Mr Kent hates tres, trespassers, and he, he prosecutes every, everyone that, that trespasses. I, I figured you did, didn't know so I, I came to tell you," Mandy stutters. This seems to amuse the man.
"Oh, your mortal laws do not bother me, but thank you for the gesture." Mortal laws? Mandy thinks. What is that supposed to mean? The two men simultaneously back up from Mandy, giving her some space. Enough space to run past them.
Too panicked to think straight, Mandy tries to run away from the two men and call the police on the nearest phone she could find. These two deserve to be prosecuted. They know the law and disregard it. Plus, they threatened her life. But before Mandy could go so much as a meter, she falls roughly to the ground. She moves her right hand to brush hair out of her face, but her left hand joins. Mandy looks at her hand in confusion to find it wrapped tightly in leather. Hurriedly trying to stand, Mandy discovers leather wrapped around her ankles as well. How on Earth did those get there? Before she can say anything, her mouth suddenly is full of a rough fabric. Mandy hurriedly flips from her stomach to her back, panicking. The Englishman looks down at her smugly as he walks toward her.
"I'd imagine you want to know how I did that. I may look like a mortal, but I sure as hel am not one." Mandy breathes unevenly as she tries to wrap her head around what the man just said. The man chuckles at her confusion. "Agent Barton, do we not have an empty room?"
"Yes, we do, sir," Agent Barton confirms. Mandy's chest is pounding in fear.
"Good. Our guest needs a room to herself, I daresay."
"Sir, what good is there in keeping her?"
"What good is there in killing her? We'll never know if she is useful if she is dead. And we certainly can't let you leave now, can we?" Mandy shakes violently as the man comes closer and bends down next to her. "Welcome to our little operation, my pretty." The man picks her up bridal style. Despite her kicking and muffled screaming, the man continues to carry her further into the building, Agent Barton following closely behind.
Mandy doesn't pay much attention to her surroundings, something her father would be very disappointed about. She is too busy trying to force herself away from her captor. Anyone they run into steps out of her captor's way or opens doors for him. None of them question her presence. The man walks into a dark room with creaking floorboards. The state of the room is disastrous. The walls are falling apart, and the door is barely on its hinges. Cobwebs cover the corners and water drips down from the ceiling in some places. Broken glass from a light bulb dusted certain areas of the floor and made the cobwebs glitter. Mandy's captor looks around the room in disgust.
"This room is more ghastly than I recalled. I'll have to find somewhere else for you. For now, though, you'll be staying here." He sets Mandy down gently on a dry, glass free area of the floor. He quickly turns and leaves her alone in the cold room. Mandy curls up for warmth. Her trembling body desperately tries to conserve heat. Warm, uncontrollable tears slip down her face silently. Oh, I never should have come down here! I've been kidnapped by maniacs just because I was dumb enough to try and help them. She continues to ruminate, which makes her feel worse.
The door opens and light creeps into the cold room. Her captor sits next to Mandy's trembling body. "Cold, is it? I've never been a good judge of temperature. I apologise for the discomfort." He pulls the cloth out of Mandy's mouth and tosses it aside. Mandy opens her mouth to speak, but her captor cuts her off. "No, you must eat before I'll consider allowing you to speak." He sets a plate down next to her. It's nothing elaborate, but more than the nothing Mandy had expected. "Go on, then. Eat. It's not poisoned." Mandy slowly eats as her captor continues to watch her. Tears continue to flow down Mandy's face. Her breathing is rapid and short. She figures her captor couldn't care less if she cried or not.
Her captor eyes her with deep concern. "Oh gods. I couldn't see with the poor lighting. I'm dreadfully sorry." Her captor scoops her into his arms, which causes Mandy to struggle against his hold. Unfortunately though, the man's hold is strong, yet gentle. He places her head on his chest and deftly wipes her tears away from her face. "Sh, breathe with my breathing. I wouldn't harm a single hair on your head." Mandy tries to hold her emotions in, but instead she loses control over them. Her body violently shakes and more tears fall. She desperately tries to break away from her captor. He holds her tightly against his chest and gently strokes her shoulder length hair in a calming way. He gently whispers to her, telling her to breathe. Slowly, Mandy begins to listen to him. She takes deep breaths with him and slowly calms down. She still trembles slightly, but her breathing evens and the tears come to a stop. He once again wipes tears from her face. Despite Mandy resisting him holding her, he continues to hold her against his chest.
"What do you want from me?" Mandy asks quietly in a shaky voice.
"Please just relax. I wouldn't dare hurt you. You need not be scared of me," he says. "At least try to relax and stay calm."
"Don't have too much hope for me then. I have a hard time relaxing normally."
Her captor uses his fingers to brush thick brown hair out of her face. "Hush, now, I won't hurt you." He continues to brush Mandy's silky hair. "What is your name? Now, I'll find out who you are one way or another. So you may as well tell me now, my dear."
Too tired to resist, Mandy yawns. "Mandy Rae Angelle."
"What a beautiful name, Mandy. What do you do for a living?"
"I'm a high school drama teacher."
"What is a high school?"
"A school for teenagers."
"And you teach the art of the theater?"
"Yes. Why do you want to know?"
"Curiosity. Now, I have one more thing I need from you." He makes sure Mandy's head is resting against his chest. "This appears to be very stressful to you, and it has drained you of your energy. Please, get some rest. You desperately need it." Mandy yawns again and her captor magically closes the door and makes a blanket appear around her. He gently hums a soft melody. The tune is unfamiliar, but is still beautiful. Mandy quickly falls into a deep slumber. Her captor was right in saying she had been drained of her energy. She had not felt this tired in a few months.
She shivers in her sleep, but hardly stirs when her captor carries her out of the room. She flinches slightly when she is exposed to more light. As she stirs, a few involuntary tears slip away as she shudders in a cold draft. Her captor smiles worriedly at her as he takes her to another area of Mr Kent's dilapidating building. While he had gently lulled his prize to sleep, Agent Barton had prepared another room for her, a room that is better suited for a guest. When he walks in, Agent Barton pulls blankets partially off the bed so Mandy can be placed on the soft mattress. Her captor sets her down and gently unwraps the leather from her wrists and ankles. He and Agent Barton cover her with the spare blankets Agent Barton had found. He leans over and gently wipes her tears away. The two men silently leave Mandy in the darkened room, careful to not wake her. Her captor asks one of his associates to stand guard over his prize, ordering him to not damage her in any way and to be respectful of her. When the man agrees, Mandy's captor leaves the building with Agent Barton. It is dark outside now. Her captor tells Agent Barton what they will do, and the two walk along the cool summer's road.
Mandy Angelle | Daisy Ridley
Agent Barton | Jeremy Renner
Mandy's Captor | Tom Hiddleston
Chapter 2: God of Mischief
Ok, with the anxiety stuff, her forms of showing it are basically how I think my anxiety would react if I were in a much more stress-inducing environment like Mandy's. I don't have a disorder, but I'm more anxious than the average person
Mandy wakes up, covered by warm blankets. She curls up in fear, remembering the nightmare she had had that night. Getting kidnapped by a mad man clad in leather, almost being killed by an archer. Thank goodness it isn't real. Besides, it was fantastic and insane. How could it possibly happen?
Mandy throws blankets off of her so she can get up and get ready to teach. She looks around the room in confusion. This isn't my house. She examines the blank walls, only occupied by the occasional spider web. The floor is uncarpeted. Other than the bed, a small nightstand, and a chest at the foot of the bed, the room is empty. Mandy's own room has walls covered in quotes, pictures, posters, and other decorations. Her floor is carpeted with fine thread. There are multiple pieces of furniture.
Mandy looks over herself. She's wearing what she wore the day before. The same clothes as her nightmare.
If I'm not at home, that can't mean... Mandy hurriedly tries to remember what happened. Her captor had held her, telling her she needed to rest. She was so tired, she fell asleep quickly in his arms. Earlier he had mentioned finding somewhere other than the cold, damp room for her to stay. Gosh, it wasn't a dream!
Mandy anxiously runs her hand through her hair, trying to absorb what's happening. Her hands shake as she turns the door handle of the door on her left. It leads to a bathroom. She traverses across the room to the door on her right. She turns the door handle, hands shaking. She opens the door slowly, heart racing.
A man Mandy doesn't recognize is outside the room. "Let's make this easy. You stay in there, and I don't have to make this unpleasant."
Mandy backs up, shaking. She closes the door. I'm stuck in here. There's no way I can get out. Mandy crawls back onto her bed, curling her body under the blankets. She trembles, heart threatening to pound out of her chest. She feels tears coming and doesn't try to stop them, knowing she can't. She just lets them run as she panics, having no idea what is happening.
She hears voices outside her door, but they're muffled by the wooden door. Mandy curls up tighter, her hands white. She tries to ignore the footsteps she hears and the door creaking open, hiding under the blankets. She peeks through her almost shut eye lids to see legs clad in leather approaching her. Her breathing is rapid and uneven.
Her captor places a hand on her shoulder gently. Mandy flinches at his touch. His hand lightly trails up to her head. He combs hair out of her face with the tips of his fingers. He uses his thumbs to dry her tears. "Mandy, my dear, I haven't come to bring harm. If I intended to hurt you, you would've known by now," he says in a hushed voice. He sits on the bed, moving his hand to lightly rub Mandy's back. "Though, I suppose that isn't entirely comforting, is it? Yes, you still have plenty reason to have fear, after yesterday's events. I can only reassure you so much."
There's something about his voice that's almost calming, which makes this whole mess worse for Mandy. How can the voice of my captor be soothing? How can I have fallen asleep in his arms? Cried in his arms? He is my captor, not my saviour. Even as she contemplates this, her breathing evens, her heart rate slows. Her body relaxes.
"There you are, Mandy. Calm, relaxed, loose," her captor comments. Mandy slowly comes to a sitting position, leaning on the bed post. Her captor leans over to dry her tears and brush hair out of her eyes. He gently smiles. Mandy keeps her distance, wary of what he'll do. He doesn't seem to mind. She flinches at any sudden movements of his. "I'm sorry about all of this, but I'd rather not kill you. Nor can I let you tell anyone about me. So that leaves one option."
"Why don't you want to kill me?" Mandy's voice is quiet and shaky.
"Oh, I'd rather only kill those I have to at the moment. While some are actively trying to stop me, you aren't guilty of trying to do so. You were in an unfortunate circumstance you had little to no control of."
Mandy presses her nails into her arms, as is normal for her on a particularly stressful day. "Who are you?"
"Loki of Asgard, God of Mischief," he introduces himself with a dramatic flair.
Loki? God of Mischief? Mandy knows the basics of Norse mythology, her younger brother enjoying the stories. Odin is the king of the gods. Thor, his son, is God of Thunder. Frigga is Odin's wife and Thor's mother. Odin and Frigga adopted Loki, a frost giant. Practically any problem in the myths can be traced back to Loki.
"Loki is from old myths. Is that an alias?"
The self proclaimed Loki smirks. "Oh, humanity has forgotten oh so much. I'm no myth, and Loki is no alias. Though, I do admit that the Norse greatly exaggerated myself and the other gods." Mandy looks at him with a mixture of confusion and worry for his mental health. "It must be a difficult thing to process. Allow me to give you proof. In case you are unaware, your myths described me as a sorcerer. That portion is indeed correct." He begins to swirl his hands in front of him. From the space near his hands, gold and green light shines.
Mandy jumps back in shock. Loki smiles. "It's nothing much, just some simple lights. But I can do much more." Loki pushes the light forward, toward Mandy. The light flickered around her body for a moment until Loki stops. "Have I convinced you?"
Mandy nods, eyes wide. She's about to say something when a soft noise is heard. Mandy's eyebrows scrunch in confusion. "That sounds familiar."
"Because it is. When you fell asleep, Agent Barton and I found your living space—cozy home you've built for yourself—and took anything we thought might be important to bring to you. She must've woken just barely." Loki stands and walks to the door, where a box and bag lay. The box is open, and Loki bends to deliver the contents. He walks to you, kitten in his arms, petting the cute thing's head.
"Oh my gosh, you brought Anya!"
"Anya? What an adorable name." Loki sits on the bed again and hands Mandy Anya. Mandy pours her love onto the cat. Anya purs with delight.
"I thought she'd cheer you up. There's more things over there for you." Loki suddenly turns very solemn. "We found a paper that Agent Barton told me signifies that you have a psychological disorder. I know little of this in humans. Is there anything you need for it?"
Mandy sighs. "Um, okay, I have generalized anxiety disorder. It means I get overly anxious, and feel anxious almost always."
"Agent Barton explained the theory behind this. But do you require anything for it?"
"Anya is a big help. I could be on medications, but I think I might be allergic to one of the ingredients."
"Do you need anything? I promised I wouldn't harm you. I don't want to accidentally hurt you emotionally by neglecting to give you something you need."
"I should be fine."
Loki smiles to her. "I'm going to have to ask that you remain in here for the duration of your time here. Once I reign over this planet, I'll give you a place to stay out of kindness, but you'll be free to do as you please, unless I ask of you."
"Reign over this planet?" Mandy asks in shock.
"Oh, yes. Why else would I come? Humanity craves unconsciously subjugation. Freedom is the biggest lie of your people. You just need a ruler now."
"We don't crave subjugation! We've fought war after war to stop power hungry tyrants who claimed they had the people in their interest. But they really only wanted to rule, and they didn't care who they hurt."
"Oh, I will be a benevolent ruler, unlike those you described. So long as humanity does their part, I'll do mine."
"I still don't like it," Mandy says anxiously. I just told a god I don't like his idea. That can't be good for me.
"Perhaps your thoughts will change. As I said, please remain in this room. I can bring books for your entertainment. I'll speak to you when occasion allows it. There will be a guard at your door. If he hurts you, he will answer to me."
Loki stands up and leaves you alone in the room, silence only being broken by Anya's meows.
Mandy Angelle | Daisy Ridley
Loki Laufeyson | Tom Hiddleston
Chapter 3: Bound Together
Sorry, it's kinda short, whatever. Sue me.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Once the door is shut and Mandy is left alone, she hurries to the doorway and grabs the box of her belongings. Inside are books, her wallet, toiletries, toys for Anya, family pictures, and some other belongings. Inside a bag that was next to the box are some clothes. Mandy grabs the book she had been reading and runs back to the bed.
Under the covers and snuggled with Anya, she begins reading. She’s reading a fantasy series her brother loves, called The Elenium. The second book, The Ruby Knight, is nearing its end. Thankfully, the final book was also in the box. On Chapter Twenty Five, page three hundred ninety four, Mandy is hoping it will only take thirteen pages for the main character, Sparhawk, and his companion and squire, Kurik, to kill a troll and take its powerful relic. The Bhelliom is needed to save Queen Ehlana and stop Annias and Azash, after all.
Is the fight exciting? Yes. But it takes it takes so long for Mandy to read these meager pages. She just can’t focus on Sparhawk, Kurik, Sephrenia, Flute, and Ghwerig. Why? She has been taken captive by a Norse god that wants to take over the world. A god that can do magic. And has an underling that almost killed her for walking into the building. She had been tied up and gagged magically by Loki. She’s had anxiety attack after anxiety attack. Plus, for some reason, Loki feels the need to talk to her and promise safety, and somehow he can calm down Mandy, which is insane! He is the reason behind her fear, how can he calm her down? With all of this, it can be quite easy to lose focus on The Ruby Knight.
Mandy is burrowed under the mass of fleece, curled up like a snail, Anya purring on her chest. A small amount of light can come through to light up the pages of the book, which, at this point, she isn’t really reading. Just blankly staring at page four hundred and two, worrying over what has happened, what is happening, and what will happen.
She doesn’t notice when tears are falling down her cheeks, or that she is hyperventilating, or that she is weakly murmuring to herself. Hearing becomes difficult; the whole world sounds like it’s a thousand miles underwater. She doesn’t feel the blankets or Anya purring frantically. At this point, Mandy is far gone from the world.
She doesn’t register it for a moment when she is being picked up and set in someone’s lap. When she realizes what is happening, Mandy desperately struggles, not hearing the voice telling her that she is safe. Mandy eventually stops struggling, due to exhaustion, not calming down. Her limbs feel like jelly. She can barely lift her head up. She cries helplessly in the mystery man’s arms for who knows how long?
Eventually, just as exhaustion stamped out her resistance, it ends her tears. It took too much energy to cry. Her hearing and feeling come back to her slowly, and she could hear his voice.
“Mandy? Gods, please say you’re calmed down now.” The voice was Loki. Loki had been holding her while she had a panic attack. Again. Mandy wants to push herself off of him, but her arms are just so heavy. “Thank gods, you’re back now. You gave me quite a scare, crying like there was no tomorrow, not responding to anything, fighting like the devil. Gods, you scared me!”
If she could, Mandy would huddle up in some hidden corner. “S-sorry.”
“No, don’t apologize. It was most likely my fault.” Loki repositions Mandy to better rest her head against his chest for support. He drops something on her chest. “She’s worried sick about you.” Anya meows and rubs against Mandy, loudly purring.
“She’s purring, she’s fine.”
“A feline purrs against her young when they are hurt. Cats do the same for their owners when they think they’re hurt because they want to help them. Anya may be youthful, but she is clever. Clever enough to see that you were most definitely not okay.”
Mandy hasn’t heard that before, and she wasn’t going to argue against a god over it. Mandy shudders, thinking what Loki could do to her. She could in no way defend herself, especially now. She is completely helpless.
“Hmm, shall we see where you left off? Page four hundred and two? Yes? I’ll read to you.” Loki let Mandy lean entirely against his chest as he carefully opened The Ruby Knight to page four hundred and two. “‘Ghwerig’s laughter was hideous. “Ghwerig die? Ghwerig immortal, Sparhawk-from-Elenia. Man-thing cannot kill.”’ Well, this Ghwerig is pleasant, isn’t he? And his speech is horrific.” Mandy smiles in agreeance. She has only known Ghwerig for a few pages, but she knows he’s not the brightest, nor the kindest. Loki continues reading. Sparhawk and Kurik struggle fighting Ghwerig. Flute helps distract him and Ghwerig is extremely furious at her. In the end, Ghwerig is defeated, Sparhawk takes Bhelliom, and there’s a major plot twist.
“I don’t know the importance of Aphrael, but she is a goddess and seems vital,” Loki says offhandedly as he closes the book.
“Yeah, she’s a big deal,” Mandy quietly agrees. She shifts uncomfortably in Loki’s arms. She shouldn’t be there! She shouldn’t be held by him, he shouldn’t be reading to her. He kidnapped her, for goodness’ sake! Isn't he supposed to be cruel and horrifying? Mandy couldn't say what would be worse: cruel and horrifying or kind and horrifying. Nothing felt right!
"You have the next book, yes? Would you like me to begin reading it?"
"Very well. I brought you some food, but I highly doubt you'd be able to eat yourself." Loki gathers her in his and arms and gently sets Mandy down on the bed, sitting up, leaning against the headboard. "Panic seems to exhaust you. But I don't mind helping."
Mandy quirks her eyebrow in confusion. She looks around to see an energy bar. She doesn't recognize the brand, and wonders if it's American, since Loki appears to be working with at least one American. She looks back down at her arms, still too weary to move them. She feels shameful for being brought this low, unable to feed herself, being manhandled to and fro. She looks back at Loki, who is removing the wrapper on the energy bar.
Once Loki brings the bar to her lips, Mandy determines to eat it as fast as possible, to end this awful experience faster. Loki keeps up with her pace and doesn't question it. He doesn't use this moment as an opportunity to mock or gloat, just to get Mandy some calories. It would be the perfect opportunity to demean her if he wanted; he had brought her this low effortlessly, to the point that Mandy relies on him to eat and to move. But it doesn't seem to be that dehumanization is Loki's goal with her.
"Now that we have that taken care of, there's something we need to talk about, Mandy."
The chapter title is high-key a book pun. The Ruby Knight is entirely real, I just finished the book (really good, 10/10, first book is The Diamond Throne). I give David Eddings credit for it. Anyway, hope you enjoyed, please comment!