"You say you got these wounds from an eagle?" The doctor asked, skeptically, and Odd nodded, flinching as the Medic applied aloe vera gel to the deep slashes across his face. "That is peculiar. I'm not an expert on bird anatomy, but I would have imagined that an eagle's talons would have left finer marks. In my experience, these look more like slashes from a sword, or a sharp knife."
Odd clenched his fists under the table, annoyed, but he kept a straight face as best as he could. His body relaxed as Elsa placed her hand on his thigh gently, and she smiled at him as the doctor prepared a needle Before him.
"Now, this is going To hurt, but please, try not to flinch too much, if you can help it. I need you to keep your face relaxed, whilst I stitch the wound closed, or else it may come undone."
Odd nodded, and closed his eyes gently as the doctor pinched the two pieces of skin together, and Elsa squeezed his hand as she felt him tense up, the needle piercing his skin and making beads of blood form from the hole.
Minutes passed, as the doctor carefully sewed up the gaping flesh, holding it together to promote its healing, and Elsa stroked her finger gently across the back of Odd's hand, the soft physical contact reassuring him. He was not completely used to such tenderness, and it was nice, soothing, even.
Finally, the doctor finished the last stitches, and Odd sighed as the medic placed the sharp metal needle down upon the table. His head was stinging painfully, and he could feel the droplets of blood trickling down the contours of his face, before they were genot ly dabbed away by Elsa.
"Now, Odd." The doctor said, "I need you to put as little pressure on the stitches as possible, or they will break and your wounds will heal badly. I expect you may have scars later on, but if you are careful, you'll still have complete use of your face. Except, perhaps, your right eye... I'm not sure if you will be able to open it after this ordeal or not. We will have to wait and see."
Odd shrugged. "I'll live." He muttered, "And I'm not bothered by scars. I've already got scars anyway... What's a few more?" His finger gently touched the stitches, and his good eye widened. "I mean..."
The doctor quickly held up his hand. "Please, don't talk, unless you really must. It may tear out the stitches. I'm sorry - give it a week, and then we'll see how you are. It may be that you can talk a little then, but please try not to in the mean time. You understand, I'm sure, the importance of this."
Odd nodded, his good eye sad, and he looked down, grumpily. Elsa placed her hand on his shoulder.
"Thank you, Doctor." She said, "I'll make sure he is good."
The medic smiled knowingly at Elsa's motherly tone, as she shepherded her husband out of the room, taking him to the lounge to get comfortable. He chuckled as he began to tidy up the theatre, and he was glad she had found someone special, at last.
She deserves him, he thought to himself. But I think she'd be lost without him, too. He's a good man, but he's brave too - it may be bad that Elsa is so close to him, because bravery is arrogance, and arrogance hurts.
Turning around, the doctor stared at the door the pair had just left. Don't hurt her, Odd. She needs someone she can trust right now.
"Okay... We need to talk." Elsa said, as she sat down stiffly upon the soft mattress of her and Odd's king sized bed. The Prince nodded, and followed her lead, sitting down without a fuss, as he gently touched his new stitches, trying not to wince as he explored the strange, new texture of his face.
"What is it, Elsa?" He asked, through very finely opened lips, barely moving them at all; he was cautious not to break the stitches, but he needed to speak also.
Elsa sighed, as she ran her hand across her hair, smoothing back the loose locks of her plait. "Well, here's the thing.. Oh, how do I say this..?" She sighed, thinking, and Odd smiled gently at her, although Elsa could see that it was a forced gesture when she looked into his eyes. He must still be in pain, She thought silently to herself, Hopefully the news will take his mind off it.
She smiled to herself, as a thought occurred to her, and she looked at Odd with a new found confidence. "Give me your hand," She said, and Odd complied, placing his paw upturned in Elsa's own. "Now close your eyes." Once again, the Prince obeyed, and Elsa took a breath in.
Hovering her hand over Odd's, she closed her eyes also, and concentrated on using her powers, forming a small gift in her husband's palm.
"Now, open your eyes." She whispered, and Odd did as he was told, frowning at the objects in his palm.
"Two baby boots?" He said, questioningly. "What are these for?" Odd looked back at the little blue boots in his hand, turning the carefully crafted items over in his palm, studying them closely. "Are these for Mia? Has she been found?"
Elsa frowned slightly at Odd, puzzled by the tone of his voice - the man had always been close to the young princess, but he didn't seem all that excited at the prospect of Mia's retrieval. Still, that wasn't the point of giving Odd the boots.
"No, Odd. They haven't found Mia yet, but we have most of the army out searching for her. Still... Try again."
Odd looked down at the little, blue boots, and then they slipped from his palm, as his eyes widened and he looked at Elsa with a surprised expression.
"Are you... pregnant?" He said, quietly, and Elsa nodded slowly, the tone of his voice making her nervous again.
"What... what do you think?" She asked softly, and Odd looked at her unsurely, his eyes appearing almost to be annoyed, as if the news had interfered with some sort of plan of his. A few seconds passed, however, and then his face broke out into a smile, and he pulled Elsa into a strong hug.
"I'm going to be a father," He whispered into her ear, a little stiffly, and the words slurred together slightly as he could not open his mouth wide enough to speak properly. "We're going to be a proper family."
Elsa smiled, as she buried her head in Odd's shoulder happily, and he wrapped his muscular arms around her body. He closed his eyes, and the corners of his mouth curved up slightly.
He seems stronger than usual, Elsa thought to herself. He must have faced quite a lot during the day he was away. She sighed to herself, happily. He'll make a great father to our child...
She leaned in a little closer to Odd's chest for security, as negative thoughts began to plague her mind. But what about me? I'm scared I won't be a good mother...
Slowly, her hand trailed across to the slight bump of her stomach. I couldn't even protect my niece... I don't know if I can do this...
Slowly, Elsa's eyes closed shut, and Odd's hands clasped her shoulders, as he sighed slightly. Standing up, he lay his sleeping wife down upon the bed, and then walked over to the other side of the room, burying his head in his hands, groaning.
Oh, god. He thought to himself, Why does she have to be pregnant? No doubt that it will only work against us...
For the rest of the evening, neither person moved in the room, except for the tiny child within Elsa, which squirmed and kicked, distressed.
Mia squeezed her eyes shut tightly, as she crawled across the cold stone floor, towards the wooden door, which separated her from the rest of the world.
Though she could not count, she knew she'd been trapped here for quite a while, now, but she had no means of knowing the exact length of her punishment. In truth, she had been locked up for ten days now, but to her, it felt like an entire lifetime of pain.
She yelped quietly as her bruised knee came to rest upon a sharp rock, but she continued on as the tears leaked from her eyes, dribbling down her cheeks, a slim stream of sorrow.
Mia gasped as the door handle began to creak open, and she quickly scrambled back to her original position, placing her hands back in the chains, making it appear as if she'd never gotten away from the restraints.
A guard stepped into the room, two small dog bowls in his hands.
"Hello, Child." He spat out, as he set the metal down on the cold, hard floor, just a few metres ahead of her. Mia could feel her mouth watering at the prospect of a meal, and drink. "Food. Water. I bet you're getting desperate now, huh?" He chuckled, as he walked over and tied a dog collar around her neck, fittingly, so that she could not escape.
Unclipping her hand restraints, the gloves still tightly tied on, he grinned. "Go ahead." He said, nodding to the bowls, and Mia frowned at him, suspicious, before the need to feed and drink overtook her, and she began scrambling towards the precious dishes waiting, teasingly, before her.
A sharp boot connected with her side, and the small girl was sent hurtling to the floor. Though she had only been crawling before, too weak to do much else, she hit the ground with a loud thud, her increasingly brittle, calcium deprived bones shuddering from the impact, and she cried out in pain, her scream high pitched, capable of slicing through the hearts of any person capable of compassion.
Laying on the ground, Mia opened her tear filled blue eyes shakily, and watched the man before her, terrified, as he circled her like a hawk, waiting for her next move, ready to strike when she did.
The Princess was but two years old; she didn't know why the man had knocked her over. Had she done something wrong? Had she moved too quickly, had she been too eager for something so essential? Were her actions too primitive for a Princess?
Her body convulsed again, with tears that could not be brought forth, as she weakly began to inch towards the bowls again, her heart set on the food before her. The pangs from her stomach drove her forward, the dry, cracked skin of her lips forcing her to keep moving.
Another scream cut through the still, cold air inside her cave prison, as a whip slashed across the skin of her back, the red stain spreading quickly across her soft back like a swarm of angry ants, burning, not stopping.
The whip cracked just above her back, and Mia yelped in fear, as she rushed forward, and tripped, crashing her nose against the ground, causing her to cry out once again in pain. The man chuckled darkly, as he slapped the red-raw skin of her upper back, hard, leaving the young Princess gasping, as she fell to the ground, her energy completely spent.
She turned her head to look at the man, her blood-shot eyes pleading with him, but the Guard just snarled, and pushed her once again. The heel of his boot dug into her side, and the force made her roll at least a metre, coming to a rest in an exhausted heap, whimpering, unable to do anything else. She buried her head under her hands, trying to hide away from the world, as she waited for the next blow.
After a few moments of relief, Mia sneaked a glance at the man, who had packed away his whip, and a small sigh of relief escaped her cracked lips. She could feel the blood from her nose dribbling into her mouth, and she knew she looked terrible.
"Food. Water. I bet you're desperate now, huh?" The man repeated, before turning away and walking to the door, ten metres away. "Go ahead."
The words were a challenge, and Mia knew it; the man was daring her to try again, but the girl had no wish to be beaten again, and she just lay, murmuring and whimpering, in a heap, not responding. The man huffed, and left the room, slamming the door with such force that small pebbles fell from the damp, algae-covered ceiling of the cave.
Slowly, Mia's eyes trailed to the two bowls, and heaving herself the few metres to the nourishment, she greedily dipped her head right in the water, drinking massive gulps of the liquid, making herself choke as she did. The water was old, and still, and had a thin film covering the top, and the blood flowing from her nose stained it pink, but it was truly amazing, the sweetest thing she'd tasted in days.
Licking the bowl dry, Mia gasped for air as she coughed up water that had gone down the wrong way, and quickly turned to the other bowl. There was a lot less in the second dish, just a few spoonfuls of plain, boiled beans, completely tasteless of flavour, and as the princess shovelled them into her mouth, all moisture was lost by the dry food. Either way, the girl, usually used to having only the very best, due to her royal heritage and all, did not mutter a single complaint, as she hungrily ate every last bit of her almost pointless meal, and she sighed as she chewed, swallowing much too quickly, choking a few times, but she was not deterred, and she moaned when it was all gone.
Completely engulfed in her food, Mia did not hear the creaking door opening, and she screamed when she looked up to see another guard, standing menacingly in the doorway, a whip held in his hand.
"So, you're the little Princess," He said, his voice devilishly sharp, as he walked over, and slashed the poor girl, who cried out in pain, once again. "This will be fun."