Chapter 24

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"How is he?" Thor asked as the healers removed a set of bandages from Loki's ankle that had been badly sprained since he was brought here. It had been three days since Thor was told to leave loki in bed to heal, but he wanted to take Loki out around the palace grounds and start introducing him to people. everyone was curious about him and the only information Thor was willing to give was that he was Laufeys son, that he was badly abused, and that he'd now be living here, the rest they'd have to find out by talking to Loki themselves. He was going to take him out three days ago, but the healers got Loki to admit that walking was painful and so Thor had to wait.
"I think he'll be fine" a healer said as she helped Loki move his ankle a bit. Loki's whole body was a mess of burns, scars, cuts, bruises, and other various injures, all varying in severity, but the two main things that deemed Loki unable to walk was his ankle that had been badly sprained since coming to Asgard, and a large deep bash in his thigh that required many stitches. His ribs were also broken which added to the pain in walking, but the healers all agreed that once the ankle and gash healed he would be okay to walk for short periods of time. "You can probably have him stand and walk today if you want, just make sure he's careful" she said, still testing the range of motion he had with his ankle while a second healer checked the gash in his thigh to make sure it wasn't infected. "Just be sure to let him rest when he needs it" she said as she wrapped the ankle in new bandages. Thor nodded a bit, It would still be a long time before loki was completely recovered, but when they first brought him here he could barely move, and Now, a little over a week later, he was becoming able to walk. It was a small step but at least it was something.
"Thank you, I won't take him very far, just around the grounds. There's some people I want him to meet" Thor said, and he wasn't the only one who noticed Loki become tense and the color rush from his face. Thor decided not to comment on it until the healers left.
After about an hour and a half the healers finished examining Loki's various injures,
then they helped him get dressed again and left the room. Loki still looked uncomfortable and had apparently found great interest in the folds of the sheets because he wasn't taking his eyes off them.
"Hey, don't worry, I just want you to meet some friends of mine" Thor said. Somehow that wasn't a comfort and Loki didn't respond. Thor felt a little bit bad, but he can't very well just sit here in this room for the rest of his life. Thor waited a minute for Loki to say something, but he didn't.
"Alright, have you eaten anything this morning?" He asked as he helped Loki to his feet, Loki took a minute to get his footing, his legs were sore and his ankle ached when he put weight on it, but he didn't complain about it to Thor.
"No, not- I haven't had anything" he said, he was trying to speak normally but he wasn't able to focus on his words because his mind was darting around thinking about different things. Thor wanted to make him meet his friends, what were they like? He wasn't even very comfortable with Thor yet, and he wants to make him meet other people?
"Alright, I'll have someone bring your breakfast outside then" he said as they started walking out of the room. Thor kept a hand on Loki to help him walk, but he seemed to be able to hold himself up. He was limping and a few times he grabbed Thor's shoulder, but once he got his footing back he was able to support most of his own weight. Thor wanted to try for conversation, but he could see that Loki was still looking a little pale and nervous.
"Look I'm not going to call people over and make a bit deal out of it. It's just that some people are getting a little curious about you, so if they're out there I'll introduce you" he explained. Loki knew he should probably feel better, but he didn't. His mindset had always been that the more people who knew him the more danger of being hurt he was in. Thor was hoping he'd respond or at least look less sick but he didn't get either, loki stayed quiet and and had his eyes on the floor.
Thor was about to say something else to try and lift Loki's spirits but before he could he heard someone calling him.
"Your highness" Thor turned around and saw That a guard was trying to get his attention.
"Yes what is it?" He asked. Loki saw that this man was in armor and had a few weapons on him so he took a step back.
"The queen wants to see you" he said. Thor looked annoyed.
"Did she say why? I'm busy" he said back. The guard shook his head.
"She just said she wanted to talk to you right away" he told him. Thor sighed but nodded.
"Tell her I'll be right there" he said. the guard nodded and walked away. Thor then turned to Loki.
"Do you remember how to get to the courtyard?" He asked, sounding slightly irritated which didn't help Loki's stress level.
"I think- yes" he said, Thor had shown him where it was only once, but he didn't want to irritate him further by saying no, he'd be able to figure out how to get there.... hopefully.
"Good. Go there and I'll have the kitchen send some food for you. Hopefully I'll be there soon, but if not just go back to your room" Thor told him, his annoyance still clear in his voice. He had plans for he day and Frigga was messing them up nicely so he didn't realize that to Loki he was giving orders, he was only meaning to make suggestions and in his irritation he accidentally snapped some commands. It wouldn't normally be a big deal but Loki took that kind of thing so seriously.
"Y- yes sir" Loki mumbled as he turned and started walking away to get to the courtyard. When Loki said 'yes sir' Thor realized his mistake, this is exactly what he wanted to avoid with Loki. But by the time he realized what he did wrong Loki had already started to walk away.
Loki headed outside but as soon as he was out of the palace he got all turned around. The palace grounds seemed to go on forever and now that he was out here he couldn't remember which way he was supposed to go to find the courtyard.
He took a guess and tried to find his way, but he ended up coming to the training grounds which he wasn't too crazy about. Everyone here had weapons and he didn't know anyone here, he could get seriously hurt if he made one of these people mad. He stood there for what felt like a long time, but he didn't know how long it had actually been. he watched the soldiers train and tried to understand their fighting style, he'd seen Laufeys men beat each other up (before realizing that it was more fun to beat up Loki) but they didn't fight like this, Laufeys men were aggressive and gave little thought to strategy, it was interesting to see the exact opposite here. These soldiers seemed to give their plans and strategies plenty of thought before going in for an attack.
"Hey, who are you?" Loki heard someone from behind him. He jerked around startled and was faced with a man a little bit taller than himself, he had blonde hair, and looked friendly enough, but Loki's main focus was that he, like everyone else here, had a sword attached to his belt.
"I- I'm-" Loki stuttered for a minute, he wasn't used to introducing himself to people "Loki" he finally blurted out.
"Oh, you're Loki? Thor told me about you. I'm Fandral" he said as he held out a hand for Loki to shake. Loki looked at his hand skeptically for a second, he didn't know this man so his guard went up, but he mentioned Thor so they're probably friends. After a minute Loki finally went to shake his hand, he was cautious like he wasn't sure if this is what he was supposed to be doing, but after a bit of hesitation he actually took his hand and Fandral shook it.
"So Loki, what are you going out here? I can't imagine you're going to do any fighting" he said with a slight chuckle.
"No" Loki said quickly, suddenly looking more afraid than he had before. "I don't- no fighting" he added. He did not want to get caught in one of these arenas. Fandral didn't know why he was so scared now, but Thor mentioned that he had a 'rough past' so he didn't press the matter.
"Anyway, what are you doing out here? you look like you should be in bed" Fandral said, Loki was holding his ribs which had started to ache and his face was still a bit bruised, and just his whole demeanor showed that he shouldn't be out socializing.
"I- I was- Thor told me to- to go to the- um.... the courtyard" he stammered. "To eat. He- um, the prince- he's going to- to have someone bring me some- some food. But- I'm lost" he said, trying to get the words out as quickly as possible, then once he got them out he released a breath he didn't know he'd been holding.
"I see" said Fandral as he stepped past Loki to a rack of weapons and picked up a weapon that Loki recognized, it was pretty much complicated version of a crossbow that could fire a variety of sharp objects and could also be modified to fire flames or other kinds of beams. A lot of the frost giants used them. "Well you're not totally lost, you just want to be on the other side of that wall" he said as he pointed across the training grounds where there was a tall vine covered wall with a round opening in the side of it. Loki looked where he was pointing and was pretty sure he saw how to get there, but he wasn't looking forward to walking around the training grounds, he hoped he didn't get any more attention.
"Thank- thank you" Loki said with a slight nod that Fandral was pretty sure turned into a bit of a bow. Fandral just nodded and went back to paying attention to his crossbow (that he'd loaded with an arrow). There were some targets set up not too far away and Loki was pretty sure he was going to practice, but he noticed something wrong with the bow...
"Uh- sir?" Loki asked timidly. Fandral raised an amused eyebrow.
"Did you just call me 'sir'?" He asked with another chuckle. Loki swallowed hard.
"Am- is that not right?" He asked, Fandral  was starting to get that something was up with Loki so he decided to leave him alone.
"No, I was- never mind. What did you need?" He asked. Loki looked a little less keen on speaking, but he tried to swallow his fear.
"Um.... does- does that bow work?" He asked. "I mean, uh- have- have you used it before and- and did it work?" He added. Fandral looked confused but not totally baffled.
"No actually, it shoots crooked. It's been giving me problems for a while. How did you know that?" He asked, thinking it was a little weird that the guy who can barely speak could somehow know he was having weapon trouble.
"It- there's- can I....?" He didn't finish the question, but he held his hand out a bit like he wanted to check the bow so Fandral handed it to him, ignoring Loki's very shaky hands. As soon as Loki had the bow he became fully focused on it. He found a surface to put it on and quickly started disassembling key parts of the mechanism. Fandral was confused but Loki seemed to know what he was doing. Somehow.
After a few minutes Loki started putting it back together, but he left out several pieces of the internal works. then he restrung it and handed landed it back to Fandral.
"What- I don't get it" Fandral said. Loki just seemed to make a mess and ruin a perfectly good weapon at the same time.
"See- it'll work better" Loki said. Fandral didn't look convinced but he held it up and aimed at a target, he shot and arrow and, to his great surprise, it shot perfectly straight and hit the center of the target. Fandral looked to Loki with pleased surprise.
"What did you do? How did you even know how to fix it?" He asked. Loki looked a little uncomfortable, he wasn't used to people being impressed with him.
"I just-" he picked up the two pieces he'd removed from the bow. "These are supposed to- to protect the string from snapping, but- but they don't really- do anything and they sometimes become loose and- and ruin the accuracy" he explained, hoping Fandral didn't get mad at him for 'trying to be smart' as laufey would say.
"That's impressive" Loki jumped when he heard Thor from behind him, he quickly turned around and saw Thor there watching. Loki hadn't noticed before, but he'd been there watching for a while and Thor, like Fandral, was very impressed. Loki isn't as helpless as one might think

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