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Willow Herona: Meeting Loki
I took a slow, deep breath before I knocked on the door. The year was 1213 and I was just barely three hundred years old, hardly an adult in warlock terms. Lucian Blackrock, my current master and adopted father, taught me all that he knew, and wanted to send me off so that I could learn even more and make the most of my exceptional gift of magic. His choice for my new master was Loki, one of the most powerful Light warlocks of the time. Loki had been a friend of my father and apparently had no apprentice of his own at the moment, which meant he was the perfect choice in Lucian’s eyes.
In my eyes however, he was the worst possible choice. From what I knew, he was cruel, cold and a brutal task master. Many women at Lucian’s parties had told me how handsome Loki was, and what a good lover, but I wasn’t after that. I wanted to learn, and I wanted someone to be friends with. I had only my younger siblings Larissa and Magnus, Lucian, Jake the dragon, and a nymph named Poison as friends at this point, and three of them don’t even count because they’re family.
And yet here I stood, waiting for the door to be answered at Loki’s massive mansion in England, Red Oak Manor. I hadn’t brought any trunks, since I was only asking for the apprenticeship, and almost wished he would turn me down. I wore my very best dress, sky blue silk, with a darker blue and black corset over it with gold embroidery. My golden blond hair curled atop my head, little locks trailing down my neck, which shone with the pearls Lucian had given me for my last birthday. Might as well look my best for my death sentence.
The door opened, and to my surprise there stood not a servant, but Loki’s older brother and housemate, Thor. I had heard many tales of him as well, but he was described as kind and caring, though not always smart. He had blond curls as well, but they were more of a silver ashy color, and bright blue twinkly eyes. He wasn’t skinny, like most warlocks, but built a little wider and stouter. Thor wore a forest green tunic and hose a shade darker, with well-made brown boots.
“May I help you miss?” he asked, smiling.
“My name is Willow Herona,” I smiled back nervously, “my master, Lucian Blackrock, asked me to come here and see if I could continue my apprenticeship with Loki.”
“Oh, lovely,” Thor beamed, “It’ll be so nice to have someone to talk to in this house. Loki only keeps one servant and I’m sad to say she’s afraid of us. Never says a word, poor little mouse. But you’ll talk to me. Loki’s always too busy. Oh, where are my manners, come in, come in!” Thor stepped aside to allow me to enter.
“Thank you,” I all but whispered as I entered.
“Now, now,” Thor smiled again, “None of this whispering business. You’re an equal here, at least to me. My brother may very well be a different story, but then, he looks down on everyone.”
“Oh,” I rubbed my arms unhappily. More bad reviews of my future master.
“Really, Loki’s very kind,” Thor continued, trying to reassure me, “he only needs time to warm up to people. They just don’t seem to stick around long enough.”
“Why?” I cocked my head, frowning, “How does he comes across?” I was almost afraid to know.
“Well, em, he can be cold, and sarcastic, and cruel,” Thor seemed to deflate a little, “and condescending. He doesn’t generally like visitors and he’s rude to those who do come.” I felt my nervousness grow.
“Oh, but I’m sure he’ll be nice to you!” Thor patted my arm and offered his for me to take. “We’ll go see him right now. I’ll come in with you to begin with, to make sure he hasn’t been drinking, but after that he’ll likely send me out.”
“Is he a bad drunk?” I ask, still feeling a little meek as I took Thor’s arm.
“Let me put it this way,” Thor paused, turning to look at me. “If you think for any reason that he’s been drinking, come get me. Don’t think, just do it.” He continued walking and the color drained from my face. “Ah, I’m not helping your nervousness, am I? I’m bad about that, Loki says I’m missing the piece that keeps everything I think from coming out of my mouth.” He smiles weakly. I smile back anxiously.
“It’ll be fine,” he patted my arm again. “Oh, here we are.” He knocked on the door.
“Mary, I told you I’m not taking tea today,” an annoyed voice growled from within.
“It’s Thor, Loki, not Mary,” Thor called, “And you have a visitor.”
“Who?” the voice growled again, still not answering the door. I felt a little offended.
“A girl,” Thor rocked a little on his heels, “She’s here to see about an apprenticeship.”
“Send her off, I’m not taking apprentices,” Loki snapped through the door. Now I was really offended.
“It’s Thariel’s daughter,” Thor tried, glancing at me. Long pause.
“Come in,” Loki called.
Thor opened the door for me and I went in first. The study was lined with books on one wall and magical ingredients on the other. At the far end stood a big oak desk, covered other books and documents. Loki sat in a beautifully carved chair, one more elegant feature in the room among many. His jet black hair came just below his shoulders, brushed smooth and shining. He had a long, almost feminine face, and his ears stuck out slightly in an oddly endearing way. He pushed his hair out of his startlingly ice blue eyes with one elegant, long fingered hand. When he stood, I could tell that he followed the traditional warlock skinniness, but still managed to have the narrow waist and broad shoulders that were desirable in men. His midnight blue tunic and velvet doublet with silver embroidery made my expensive silk dress feel cheap. He walked from the desk to stand a few feet in front of me.
“My, my,” he said, looking me over unabashedly, “You’re Thariel’s daughter. Last time I saw you you were little more than a squawling newborn.”
“She looks like Thariel, doesn’t she?” Thor smiled at me encouragingly, “She has his eyes.” I had been told my whole life that my liquid gold eyes matched my father’s, but at this point I just wanted Loki to quit staring at me.
“Indeed,” Loki looked me over again. I was ready to smack him. “But that alone is not enough for me to take her on as my apprentice.” He whirled and began to walk back to his desk.
“Technically,” I spoke up, “I’m still Lucian’s apprentice, because he’s still my legal guardian. I’m just here to learn from you.”
“That is a lie,” Loki frowned, “I was supposed to be your legal guardian if anything happened to your mother. Why was I not informed of her death?”
“Because she’s not dead, sir,” I told him, “I got sick of her ignoring me and leaving me, and Gabriel starving and beating me. When she told me she wanted to marry me off to some old human man, I ran away to Lucian’s.” Loki narrowed his eyes.
“Again,” he sighed unhappily, “Why was I not informed?” Pompous, arrogant… I thought other unladylike words about him.
“You never showed any interest in me before,” I returned his cold façade.
“I suppose this is an argument for another day,” Loki waved his hand.
“Lucian asked me to give you this,” I handed Loki the letter Lucian had written for me. Loki turned back to his desk to read it. Thor, who still had my arm tucked into his, patted my hand reassuringly and smiled. I returned it with a sigh. Loki finished the letter and looked up at me from his chair, staring right at my face. That felt more invasive than his earlier roving eyes. I returned the stare, and could almost see the wheels turning in the man’s head.
“Miss Herona,” Loki stood slowly, “I will have Mary clean up a room for you. You will begin training in three days. Thor will also be training you in swordsmanship, in which Lucian has informed me you are sorely lacking in skill. Don’t worry, he’s one of the best swordsmen alive. I will put together your lesson plans and you will follow them to the letter. You will take notes on any lectures or demonstrations I give. I hope you enjoy your stay in Red Oak Manor. You are both dismissed.” Thor turned and walked me out. Back at the front hall he turned and gave me this huge smile.
“You got it,” he beamed at me. I slowly relaxed and returned his bright smile.
“I got it,” I laugh.