Ascend / Page 28

Page 28


“But when she married Oren, your dad thought they might have a child?” I asked.

“Right,” he nodded. “My father wanted nothing more than for me to be King. It didn’t matter that I had no urge to be King, or that Oren might live forever and I would never be King anyway.”

“Why did he want you to be King so badly?” I asked.

“He wanted power, more power,” Loki said. “He thought if I became King, we could rule the world or something. He never got specific about his plans, but he just wanted more.”

“So what happened?” I asked. “I heard he tried to defect back to Förening.”

“Yes, that was after everything went to hell,” Loki said. “My father came up with some plan to kill Sara. I don’t know exactly what it was, but I think he wanted to poison her. My mother found out about it, and she was…” He stopped and shook his head.

“My mother was kind,” Loki went on. “I’d been betrothed to Sara, so she’d become like a member of our family. My mother invited her for supper and treated her as a daughter. Even after Sara married Oren, my mother remained close to her.”

“And your father was going to kill her?” I asked.

“Yes, but my mother wouldn’t let him.” He chewed the inside of his cheek and stared straight ahead at the snow coming down. “So he killed her.”

“What?” I asked, thinking I’d misunderstood. “Sara’s alive.”

“No, my father killed my mother,” Loki said flatly. “He hit her in the head with a metal vase, over and over. I was hiding in the closet, and I saw the whole thing.”

“Oh my god,” I gasped. “I’m so sorry.”

“The King found out, and he didn’t really care that my father had murdered someone,” he said. “But then I told the King why my father killed her, about his plan to assassinate Sara.

“My father tried to make it back to the Trylle,” Loki continued. “He offered Elora trade secrets, anything she’d want to know. I’ve been told that she accepted, but he never made it there. Oren found him and executed him.”

“I’m sorry,” I said, unsure of what else to say.

“I’m not,” Loki said. “But I am lucky that the King didn’t kill me too. Sara took pity on me, and I moved into the palace with them.”

“The King and Queen raised you,” I said.

“They did,” he nodded. “Sara more so. The King’s never been that fond of me, although I don’t think he’s ever been that fond of anyone.”

Silence settled over us, and Loki seemed morose. Bringing up the death of his mother would have that effect.

What happened to him was horrible, not that I had a great childhood myself. I thought back to when he’d arrived in Förening, and I put my hand on the scar on his chest. I’d felt like he was a kindred spirit, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized how alike we really were.

We both had a parent who hated us, and we were left orphaned at a young age. His father wanted him to be King, even though he didn’t want it, and my mother wanted me to be Queen, even though I didn’t want it. And we both shared a mixed bloodline of Trylle and Vittra.

“Why aren’t you like me?”  I asked when I thought of it.


“Why aren’t you as powerful as me?” I asked. “We’re both Trylle and Vittra.”

“Well, for one thing, you’re the product of the most powerful Trylle and the most powerful Vittra,” Loki said. “I’m the product of a very powerful Vittra and a fairly weak Trylle. My father was a low-ranking Markis. He had hardly anything. I did get his ability to render people unconscious, though, but mine is much stronger than his ever was.”

“But you have more physical strength than I do,” I pointed out.

“Your father isn’t physically that strong,” Loki said. “Don’t get me wrong, he is very strong, especially by Trylle standards. But mostly he’s just… immortal.”

“Just immortal,” I said. “That’s good. That’ll making killing him so much easier.”

“We can turn back,” Loki offered again.

“No, we can’t.” I shook my head.

The car hit a patch of ice and jerked to the side. Loki reached out, putting his hand on my arm to make sure I was safe, before straightening out the car.

“Sorry about that,” he said, keeping his hand on my arm.

“It’s okay.”

His hand felt warm on my bare skin, and I moved my arm so I could take his hand in mine. I don’t know why I did it exactly, but I felt better. It helped quiet my nerves and ease the tightening of my stomach.

I stared out the window, almost embarrassed to look over at him, but he said nothing about it. He just held my hand, and eventually, he started singing along with the radio again.

The snow had lessened by the time we reached the Vittra palace. It looked more like an old castle. I hadn’t really had a chance to look at it the last time I was here. The brick towers and spirals loomed against the overcast sky. Tall trees without any leaves filled the surrounding forest, and I almost expected there to be a moat to cross.

Loki pulled up in front of the massive wooden doors and turned off the car. I gaped at it and tried not to let my nerves get the best of me. I could do this.

“How do I find him?” I asked. “Where’s the King?”

“I’ll show you.” Loki opened his car door.

“What are you doing?” I asked as he got out.

“Taking you inside,” he said and slammed the door shut.

“You can’t go in there,” I said once I’d climbed out of the car. “The King could do something to you.”

“What kind of tour guide would I be if I didn’t show you all the sights myself?” he grinned at me, but it was weak.

“Loki, be serious.” I wouldn’t walk with him up the path so he turned back to face me. “The King will throw you in the dungeon again.”

“Maybe,” Loki agreed. “But I don’t think he will if you succeed in making a deal with him, and we’re both counting on you to make a deal.”

“I don’t like the idea of you going in there,” I said.

“Yeah, well, I don’t like you going in there either,” he shrugged. “So we’re even.”

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