Ozymandias: King of Kings


Jane hoisted herself to her feet and glanced around. The moons were high; it was late, and she was completely exhausted from the evening; the adrenaline that had pulsed through her body the past few hours had trickled away, leaving her drained physically and emotionally. Lightly stretching to wake up her heavy-feeling limbs, Jane turned away from the small clearing and began making her way back to the palace. For once, she was glad for the thickness of the gown; the air had become chilly with the clearing of the rainclouds, and Jane could barely see the palace in the distance as she walked through the garden. She sighed. She didn't want to return to Thor and Loki, not now, not tonight, but the long walk was bound to be lonely.

Suddenly, she remembered the gift Frigga had given her upon arrival; that was Asgardian custom, apparently. Host families gave their guests some present that would become useful in their stay. Frigga had taken her aside that evening and pressed a small, golden disk into her hand, about the size of a pocket watch, and engraved around the edge with ruins unreadable by Jane. She had looked questioningly at Frigga as the older woman smiled and explained the purpose of the seemingly nondescript gift from the royal family.

"It's a memory marker," Frigga had said. "Use it only when you're alone. Hold it like so," she demonstrated, clasping three fingers of her right hand along the outer edge of the golden disk, "and recall to mind everything you wish stored within. To retrieve your memories, use your left hand to hold the edges instead of your right."

Jane had thanked the older woman, but viewed the disk as a glorified diary; besides, she was never alone and never had the opportunity to use the memory marker.

But now, she figured, she might as well give it a try. Miles to the palace and a lack of anyone around would give her the perfect chance to record a few of her memories since her arrival in Asgard. Fishing into her pockets (which Jane had demanded be sewn into all her dresses and clothing) she wrapped her fingers around the smooth, golden surface and pulled the marker out. It caught the moonlight and shown brightly in Jane's hand. She smiled, tracing a finger over the incomprehensible ruins engraved along the edge, before grasping it firmly and calling to mind all that she could of the past week. Flashes of memory suddenly sprung to her mind, and Jane cried out as the onslaught of recollections flashed by like train cars hurtling past. She barely saw one memory as another took its place, and she collapsed to the ground as the ambush of things remembered continued.

She arrived on Asgard at the edge of a shattered bridge that blazed with the colors of a thousand rainbows and reflected the golden sky above and depths of purple sea below.

A massive man with a deep voice welcomed her, his eyes flashing but never looking directly at her, his massive sword held firmly between powerful hands.

The convoy met them at the edge of the bridge, hundreds of honor guards and servants, and three warriors whom Jane remembered from some distant time on Earth.

The massive palace loomed overhead. Thor lightly touched her shoulder and she turned to face him with anxious eyes. He smiled and laughed softly, bringing her closer to his side as they entered through the first set of golden gates.

She was being swept away from Thor as attendants greeted them in the massive atrium, the overhead ceiling a massive, swirling portrait of Asgardian history that reflected off marble tiles below. He shouted that he would meet up with her before greeting his parents.

A flash of green and silver darted past Jane as her attendants gossiped and chatted and asked her about fashion.

She was being quickly fitted into a gown of red and grey that wrapped loosely around her body and swept along the floor. Her attendants quickly informed her of proper etiquette when greeting the former king and queen as she nodded, wide-eyed and anxious.

Standing outside a massive wooden door, Jane turned to face Thor, who smiled and reminded her to pull the deep red hood over her hair. Apparently, it was a gesture of respect in Asgardian culture. She quickly obliged as the doors began to open.

The former king and queen rose from their seats and pulled herself and Thor from their kneeling position, the queen full of smiles and the king full of coldness.

Thor called to someone Jane could not see. Suddenly, a tall, pale man stood aside her, introducing himself and bowing shortly before retreating back into the shadows without a smile.

A soft, pillowed bed enveloped her in sleep.

Handmaidens woke her with the sun, demanding she rise and eat. A plate of meat and bread was set before her. She ate the bread and sent the rest back.

An older, larger woman entered her chambers. She handed Jane a large book and a thin, flattened silver sheet that resembled a small piece of paper. The silver page was pressed against her forehead, followed by the cover of the enormous book. Everything went black.

She woke up the next day, confused and speaking strangely, with an incredible headache.

Her chambermaid rushed from the room, returning with Thor and the tall, pale man whom Jane remembered to be Loki.

Thor was sitting next to her, explaining that the woman was the Knowledge Keeper of Asgard and she had imparted all understanding of Asgardian society to Jane.

She complained of a headache.

Thor summoned Loki to her bedside. He harshly pressed a hand to her forehead. The pain disappeared.

Her forehead burned where he touched. Loki jumped back and glared, then turned and stalked from the room.

She was being whisked away by her chambermaids.

Surrounded by gowns and fabric with colors like danced like the sky on a clear Asgardian night, Jane was asked to pick her favorites. Maids and seamstresses flocked around her, taking measurements and drawing out lengths of material.

Feasts. So many feasts and balls and dances.

A flash of green and silver, brushing past her in the grand hallway, snapping at her and insulting her mortal heritage.

Compliments on her receptiveness to the Knowledge Keeper's transfer of language and culture from Frigga.

A clear night on the balcony, green and silver confronting her.

Smells of honeysuckle and lavender.

Shapes in the water.

Green and silver.

Jane's fingers unclasped the memory marker, exhausted. Everything had been imparted to the golden disk through the onslaught. She had nothing left. Her strength had all been spent storing memories. On the soft green grass beneath her, Jane drifted off to sleep, pale silver trees forming a canopy overhead and faint scents of honeysuckle wandering skyward to the moons.

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