Valhalla, Ch. Five – ‘The Passage’

Previously on VALHALLA:

Heading home after work one night, Ryan Kennedy intervenes in a mugging-in-progress and is killed. He wakes up in Asgard, realm of the Norse Gods, and befriends a quiet Valkyrie by the name of Eira, who introduces him to rituals and customs of the Valkyries, the Gods and the souls on their way to Valhalla.

Together, they board a longship that will take them straight to the shores of Valhalla.

CHAPTER FIVE

 

THE PASSAGE

 

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Ryan could smell the ocean as the longship made its voyage to Valhalla. The salt that drifted up to him from below tickled his nostrils. He stood on the side of the longship, resting his hand on wood of the railing that was smooth and polished.
The dizzying aspect that screeched this was all a dream did not leave his mind; rather he looked upon the sunset of his second day in Asgard and felt a daze drift over him.
It came back to him then.
His first kiss as a sixteen year old with Susie Parker from Religion. They kissed in the bedroom she shared with her little sister, while they were alone. Nervousness slithered its way through his stomach.

“It never ends” Came a voice, knocking Ryan back into Asgard, all these years later.
He turned to see her approach, just as her silver wings faded out of view, tucking themselves back behind her.
“What does?”
“The ocean. There is no end to it.”
“How can that be?”
Eira’s matter-of-fact face, calm and serene, regarded him for a moment, before her eyes left him to look upon the water.
“It is not like that in Miðgarðr, is it?”
Ryan shook his head and turned to look at her. Suddenly that serene expression of hers gave way to something sad and unspoken.
“Do you remember anything about your life, Eira?” Ryan found him asking.
A frown formed across Eira’s face as she stood glancing at the ocean.
“I…remember….ice. Everywhere.”
“You mean snow?”
This time Eira glanced from the ocean up to Ryan, her eyes slipping back into that quizzical look.
“Snow.” Eira said flatly. “Snow….is that the word? We don’t get that here.”
“Is Ice all you remember?”
Eira frowned and looked out across the ocean again, only nodding silently.
Silence fell between them, giving way to the sound of the longship cruising against the water beneath it.

Ryan looked ahead of him and shielded the rays of sunset from his eyes as he gazed upon something in the distance.
When Eira saw him squinting ahead, she followed his line of sight to what loomed far beyond in the distance – Valhalla.
“What happens to me when we get there?” Ryan found himself asking.
“You train with the rest of the souls, as best you can.”
“And you? What happens to you and I? Does that mean our….courtship….ends?”
Eira opened her mouth to speak, but nothing came out.
Did Valkyries shrug? Ryan wondered. Did she even know the answer to his question?
“You should get some rest, Ryan Kennedy. There is a long effort waiting for you on the ‘morrow.”
The sadness that Ryan thought he saw earlier crept back over his face. He wanted to ask why and what was on her mind, but the sheer suggestion that he should sleep brought fatigue to the forefront of his mind.
Eira extended her arms across to the railing and stood silently watching Valhalla in the distance. As she did so, Ryan once again caught a glimpse of the pale scarring on her upper arms – thin white slits that seemed to stretch up to the palms of her hand.
He remembered he had seen these markings before, shortly before his arrival to this realm, but what had happened to her?
He stood for a moment, hoping she’d turn and say something, maybe even reveal she was telepathic and answer his question – but nothing happened. To her, it was almost like he was already gone.

Mulling over this behaviour, he said his goodnights to her and made his way to the cabin Eira had directed him to upon arriving on the ship.
Around him, creatures of all shapes and sizes he didn’t recognise sang in a song he couldn’t understand.
Mead splashed on his tunic as he passed, turning on the side to move between two Elves, skin as pale as the moon and eyes blood red, and pardoning himself as he went.
The wooden hallway ahead of him was empty, dimly lit by the lanterns on the wall above him, evenly spread apart from one another.
He moved quietly through the corridor, ignoring a creeping sense of sudden dread and ignoring the sudden urge to break the silence by clearing his throat.
From a few doors ahead of him came the sound of voices, low and hushed.
As Ryan crept closer, he could hear it was a woman. No – not one woman, a few. They were chanting, in time, again and again, as if in prayer.
Stopping just at the door from he room, he glanced inside.
The room within was low lit with the lanterns that sat above the doors in this corridor. Nine Valkyries, nude and head bowed, knelt in the centre of the room, gathered in lines of three in front of a shrine made of wood.
The shrine itself was surrounded by candles and bore a resemblance to three triangles, interlocking with one another.
“The Valknut” Came an equally hushed voice from behind Ryan.
Ryan turned around to see Kára leaning against the doorway, her dark eyes looking back and forth at him.

“It is the prayer given to us by The All-Father, meant to remind us that we are always with him and He with us.”
Ryan looked from Kára back to the room full of Valkyries chanting alongside one another.
“As we are His, we are to recite it in the nude morning, noon and evening. Though some, as you see, choose to do it together”
Ryan turned back to Kára and kept his voice. “You don’t?”
“I choose to keep to myself” Said Kára, a smirk forming across her lips.
“Say, walk me to my cabin?”

 

 

***

 

“How are you enjoying my baby sister?” Kára asked Ryan, as they walked along the corridors.
“I don’t…I mean, the whole sex thing is…”
“Not for you?”
“It is! I just…would rather…getting to know someone before, you know?”
Kára grinned. “I get it. You wouldn’t be the first man or woman in all these years to feel queer about it. But my sister is treating you well, right?”
“Yeah, of course.”
“Good. Valkyries – they can be reassigned should you desire. No fault of theirs or yours.”
Ryan shifted uncomfortably as they walked, hoping Kára wouldn’t notice. Her eyes were ahead.
Kára was dressed in grey silk dress, her silver wings tucked behind to avoid dragging on each side of the walls.
“I do have a question though.” Ryan asked, breaking the lull in conversation.
“Yes, Ryan Kennedy?”
Is she your sister?”
Kára giggled at the answer. She bowed her head and held her hand to her mouth to suppress the giggle.
When she was done, she flashed Ryan a charming smile.
Enchanting was the word that instantly came to his mind.
“Why, we’re all sisters, Ryan.” Kára replied. “I just call Eira my baby sister because she’s the newest to our ranks – Ah! Here we are!”

Kára stopped in front of the door that led to her chambers. She opened wide the door, revealing within a room covered in the light of the moon.
Against the wall to the right of the room, facing horizontally was a feather bed, wrapped in the finest fabrics. To the left was a wooden table and chairs.
“For reflection” Kára replied, catching Ryan’s glance. “Speaking of…”
Kára stood in the doorway and reached behind her, smirking as she did.
With a gentle tug from behind, her grey silk dress fell to the floor, revealing her nude body.
Her body was covered in ink that slinked up her arms and across her torso, while piercings covered each nipple, her belly button and her clitoris.
Kára’s eyes did not leave Ryan. Instead, they watched him carefully for any kind of reaction. Even the smirk from her lips was spreading to her eyes. They glistened with mischief.

“Are you sure I can’t be of service to you, Mister Ryan?” She said, her hands brushing the curves of her breasts on their way down to the thin strip of dark hair that covered her mound.
Ryan felt his face burn. “You don’t have a soul of your own to look after?”
“I do! She has found herself into a drunken stupor in her own quarters – typical of a Dwarf, if you’ll allow me to be outspoken..”
She bowed her head at this.
Ryan didn’t know what to say, so he nodded.
“So again I ask you – Are you sure I can’t be of service to you?”
When Ryan nodded, sensing discomfort pierce his stomach, Kara’s eyes seemed to lose her mischief in a heartbeat.
“As you wish. Good Evening.”
Kára closed the door gently, leaving Ryan standing in the corridor alone.

 

***

 

Despite feeling tired when he rested his head on his own feather quilt bed, he did not find sleep quickly. Rather, he tossed and turned, unable to adjust to the rhythm of the ship rocking.

He laid in bed, staring up at the wooden ceiling, and wondered how his family were, if time moved the same on Earth as it did in Asgard.

When he thought of his mother and his father despairing at his death, his stomach churned.

And he began to cry.

 

To be continued…

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