The second time Andromeda’s eyes fluttered open, it was a bit easier. The dying words of her mother from her dream still echoed in her head as she pulled her consciousness into an entirely lucid state. With a groan, she shifted where she lay and stretched her aching shoulders. Lifting herself up slightly onto one elbow, she winced as a sharp pain jolted across her cheek. Probing her face cautiously, Andromeda flinched as her fingers touched a blood encrusted gash on her cheek.
Drawing back her hand and inspecting her fingers for fresh blood, she furrowed her brow in an attempt to recall how she had gotten the wound. But a voice distracted her.
“I believe you received that injury from one of the Jotuns,” a deep, throaty voice interjected from her left.
Jumping at the unfamiliar tone, Andromeda suddenly realized that she was the room with a complete stranger.
The man—contrary to her previous assumption—was not Loki, nor did he bear any resemblance to him. This man, while tall and commanding, possessed none of the lithe, thin, graceful airs that Loki did. Built as solidly as a mountain, this man had wide, broad shoulders like that of her father’s. His skin, though pale, had the grayish hue of spoiled milk and his hair, though fair, contained none of the warm, pale yellow shades that Caenr’s had borne. Instead, his long locks were a cold silver hue. He had an impressive demeanor, shrouded in ebony from wide shoulder to sturdy foot, and his gleaming steely eyes held a great deal of authority.
The young princess immediately gulped and glanced around her nervously, realizing that she was not in a place she could exactly classify as familiar.
“Wh-Who are you?” She asked fearfully.
“I am the man who saved your life, my dear,” he answered her, stepping forward with powerful strides. Crouching down before where she sat on the low bed, he was about at eye level. “Do you remember what happened?”
Gazing with caution at his firm, chiseled features, she swallowed before answering.
“I-I think so,” she answered carefully.
She flinched in fear as he lifted a moist cloth to her face, but relaxed as he began to dab at the gash on her cheek; a strangely gentle act for someone so intimidating.
“Do not fear me,” he commanded.
Turning her wide blue eyes back towards him a bit, she relaxed and decided that, if he had wanted her harm her, it would’ve been easier to do so while she was unconscious. Nevertheless, she regarded the man cautious curiosity.
“Who are you?” She asked again.
“Who are you?” He skillfully dodged her question a second time. Turning his flickering silver eyes back to her face, he—in turn—regarded her with curiosity. “A young girl in the middle of Jotunheim, injured, alone, surrounded by unconscious frost-giants… Admit that your story has by far the greater element of oddity than the man who saved you.”
She noticed that he gave her no choice; it had not been a question.
“I-I suppose it does,” she answered.
“Well then, what is you name?”
A soft, feeble half-truth dropped from her lips.
“My name is Ada,” she told him weakly.
“Ada?” He asked in a tone so absurdly gentle for someone of his persona that it seemed to mock her. “That’s a lovely name. Don’t you think it’s a bit short?”
Fear bubbled up into her throat like bile. She did her best to pass it off as confusion and slight indignation.
“What am I to do about altering its length?” She demanded, impersonating Loki’s unconcerned tone poorly.
“Including a last name would be a start,” he led, his eyes as sharp as steel.
She drew a shaky breath and became entirely honest with him.
“Sir, I do not know who you are,” she stated, laying bare her predicament before him. “How can I be expected to trust you?”
“You can’t,” he responded solidly, standing and taking the damp, slightly bloodied cloth in his hand to a place blocked from her view. As he returned to her, he remained standing before her, stoic and imposing. “But I still ask it of you. Your trust, your honesty, I ask for all that is necessary in answering me properly.”
His way of speaking made Andromeda squirm slightly. It was rigid, commanding, impolite, and made no room for a light-hearted temper. It only served to make her distrust him all the more. It seemed as though there was something else going on, something grave and impending. Unlike Loki however, this man did not seem to be making any effort to conceal it, he was merely refusing to tell her about it.
“Who are you, sir?” She demanded more firmly.
He gave a frustrated sigh and gazed into her eyes, his own heating like molten lava.
“I asked you first,” he growled, his patience obviously wearing thin.
“I believe courtesy states that you grant a lady her request,” she returned.
She jumped as his large, long-fingered hand grasped her right wrist roughly, his long fingernails curling into her skin. His tone had lost every soft quality it had originally assumed for her sake.
“I’ll ask you one more time,” he snarled harshly, causing her to wince in sudden fear. “Who. Are. You? Your name, first and last. Your parentage. Your birth and status. Don’t you dare lie!”
Her wide blue eyes stared directly into his furious visage with both fear and dread. She knew that this man would not be allied. What frightened her more, however, was his unshakable demeanor, which seemed to indicate that he held all the winning cards. If his attitude was to be believed, he held at least five aces.
Swallowing with difficulty, she opened her mouth and did what she did best: speak the truth.
“My name is A-Andromeda Thordottir,” she told him, trying her best to remain bold. “I am 160 years old and I am the Crown Princess of Asgard, the Realm Eternal.”
A wicked, highly pleased smile spread across the man’s milky lips as he released her arm, leaving the red mark of his hand and nails behind.
“I suspected as much,” he drawled darkly a precious few inches before her face. “I had no idea of what you looked like, but hearing you moan the God of Mischief’s name in your sleep did make me wonder.” He gave a short laugh as he turned and strode a few steps away from her. His laugh was harsh, grating, and throaty, nothing at all like Loki’s sly, teasing chuckle. “To think that you practically threw yourself at my feet on your own. Ah, sometimes I wonder whether the universe goes out of its way for me.”
Fear’s icy hands clenched around her throat, Andromeda found she could bear it no longer and she leapt to her feet.
“Who are you?!” She demanded once more with a cry.
Turning towards her slightly, the man with the silver eyes and hair gazed at her, a terrible smile playing upon his bloodless lips. After what seemed to be an eternity, he spoke.
“I am Ghead the Dark, Ada,” he stated with a feral growl of satisfaction, making the girl regret ever giving him her father’s term of endearment for her. “You will serve my purposes now. It would do you well to remove all other thoughts from your mind.”