Due to the length of this chapter, I decided to break it up into two seperate posts so it is easier to track and read.
ADJUSTMENTS, Part I
Eira struck the match and lit the candle on the table before her.
With the match still burning, she moved the flame to the candle just opposite to the right of lit candle.
Four candles sat in the shape of a square on this wooden table, their small flame helping the light of dawn engulf the room.
In the centre of the square shape rested the Valknut, the symbol representing Odin and his bond to the Valkyries.
Eira, completely nude, save for the collar gifted to her after the completion of her training, knelt to her knees and begin to recite her morning mantra.
Outside of Valhalla, resting on the verge of the Fensalir forest was a natural spring formation.
This was a place sacred to the Valkyries, gifted to them by the All-Father.
The spring was primarily used for bathing but the site also allows for recreation for Valkyries – a place for rest and rebirth.
If one were to stand in the crystal blue water and look out, trying to spot the hall of Valhalla, all they would see would be the enormous lush-green trees, shielding all view of the outside world.
Running in a circle around the spring, built neatly into the rock formation, was a wooden walkway, made of the very trees that guarded the place and acting as grip to guard the Valkyrie that stepped out of the spring.
Eire emerged from the trees into the area hidden from view. Ahead of her, emerged at the other end of the spring, were three Valkyries talking softly.
At the sight of Eira, Herja raised a hand out of the water and waved at Eira, flashing her smile. On either side of her was Elisabet, a slender and tanned Valkyrie with long black hair and intense dark eyes, and Göll, golden eyes, blonde hair and perky breasts, who whistled at the sight of a nude Eira stepping into the spring.
Eira planted herself down on the smooth rock formation that acted as a bench. In a moment she would begin to wash her body, but for the moment she wanted to take her time to soak up the pleasing water.
The combination of cool water on her skin and the warm morning sun beating down upon her energised her.
She began to think of Ryan, interfering with that man who stabbed him. Eira had watched from the sidelines, invisible to all, ready to fulfil her assignment.
Now that she brought Ryan to Asgard, as his guide for the time being, she didn’t know what to do. With the others, she knew. She knew exactly how to behave, what was required of her. Ryan was different somehow, he was kind and polite and reserved.
It was his personality that took her aback. He wasn’t demanding for any kind of sexual release – he was gentle.
The word ‘gentle’ brought to mind the way he smacked her the other night. Fighting off a smile, she could, all of a sudden, feel the delightful sting on her skin.
Eira had been smacked before, by Mist, her teacher, by Kára for a fault in her training, by warriors she was assigned to. But there was something about the energy behind Ryan when he struck her. There was rage, there was anguish, there was something she couldn’t quite understand.
All this and yet he was reserved.
Reserved, thought Eira. I can recall feeling that somehow. How did I overcome it?
He needs time, a part of Eira began, voicing its way to the forefront of her mind.
When Eira heard the rustling of the trees next to her, she turned to see Kára emerge, herself completely nude and glistening in the sunlight.
Kára did not wave to anybody, nor did she greet Eira. Instead, she silently dived into the middle of the spring and dunked her head under.
Eira watched the area where she dived; the nude shape of Kára swam underneath, the image rippling along with the water.
The image of her stopped and began to swim up, breaking the water and emerging into the warm sun.
Eira glanced at Kára as she moved towards the side of the spring, a few metres away from her.
Kára lay back in the spring. Her dark entangled hair lay out across the shape of her breasts.
She was a beautiful woman, Eira thought, stormy, gruff – but beautiful.
Feeling Eira’s gaze, Kára opened her eyes and looked up at her.
“I can feel you looking at me, little sister. Is there something on your mind?”
Unwilling to incite Kára’s gruff attitude, Eira shook her head. “It’s nothing.”
She rested her head against the smooth rock and looked up at the sky.
The thought of Ryan came into her head then, and she wondered….
As Eira pondered, Ryan came to.
As his eyes adjusted to the light, he climbed out of bed.
There was no visit from his mother, he thought as he pulled on a fresh pair of clothes, so what was happening when he saw her that one time? Was he going mad?
He sat on the bed a few moments, his eyes and mind adjusting to the stillness of the room, with the light of dawn filtering in through the balcony, and then he got out of bed.
As he exited the door, he bumped right into someone, connecting his chest with his or her elbow.
“I am so sorry.” Ryan began. “I didn’t see you there..”
“It’s okay” came a soft voice.
The Valkyrie twisted her elbow back and forth with a laugh.
Ryan went to speak but stopped – he recognised her as the Valkyrie that told Kára to hush when she scoffed at Eira masturbating in the great hall.
The Valkyrie looked back at Ryan with her dark violet eyes and smiled.
“Have I seen you before?” she asked, brushing her raven black hair behind her ear.
“No, I don’t believe so. I’m Ryan.”
“Yeah. Is it that noticeable?”
“Some have a glow to them, it is known.” The Valkyrie replied. “My name is Ástríðr – but everyone calls me Astrid. I am something of a medic here in Valhalla. Speaking of, has someone established a psychological profile of you?”
Astrid spoke really fast and without a breath, barely hesitating to pause between words.
Ryan frowned. “Uh…No?”
Astrid grabbed him – rather roughly – by the hand and pulled him back into his chambers.
Ryan’s arm twisted, his neck craned – and he was back in his room again only moments after leaving.
“Forgive my actions, Sir.” Astrid said in another jumble of words. “Punish me later if you must, but I wanted to ask. How have you been sleeping?”
Ryan gave the question a thought.
“Fine, I guess?”
“No broken sleep?”
“I’ve been sleeping okay-ish.”
“Is Okay good?”
Astrid stood really close to him, her violet eyes scattering back and forth as she peered into his.
“Any hallucinations? Auditory? Visual? Tactile?”
We haven’t seen you in so long, son.
Ryan looked in the corner of the room. Astrid caught the glance and looked behind her briefly, then back to Ryan’s eyes.
“Is that a hint? Can you talk? Are you seeing something now?”
Ryan cleared his throat, covering his mouth. Astrid was really close to him. Nude and really close to him. Her hand was still on his.
“I’m sorry, what is this about?”
Astrid looked down at his hand, then looked back at him with an embarrassed laugh. It came out in a husky wheeze.
“Being the one assigned to such a role as the medical officer – “
“Aren’t you all Immortal magical beings?”
“We can be injured, Ryan. We can die.”
Astrid’s face took on a stern look.
“We like to eat too. But regardless, my job is to look for a schism in newcomers.”
“Some souls remember their deaths and accept, some have trouble accepting but eventually move on, some minds see this – a life beyond Midgard – and simply disconnect. Falter.”
Ryan looked at Astrid as she spoke breathlessly.
We haven’t seen you in so long, son.
“Usually it’s because the mind is in two different places and – overwhelmed, it…folds in on itself. Are you folding in on yourself, Ryan?”
Astrid kept her gaze on Ryan, looking at him intently.
“I….saw and heard my mother?”
He couldn’t believe he was mentioning this to a stranger, but it just tumbled out of his mouth.
“In the corner?” Astrid asked, tilting her head in the direction of the corner behind her while still looking at Ryan.
In turn, Ryan nodded.
“Hm. Have you seen or heard her – or anything – again?”
Astrid clicked her tongue as she thought, her eyes moving away from Ryan and focusing off to the wall beside him.
“That could be anything – a dream, your mind adjusting. That’s a typical side effect. It can take anywhere from a week to a month for a mind to adjust.”
Astrid sighed. “It’s when it happens on a frequent basis that it becomes a problem.”
“What happens to those that have this schism?”
“Hmm. If they can’t overcome it? Comatose. Beyond that, a second death.”
A second death? Is that even….where does one go when a second death occurs?
“In any case, keep me posted. I have to see to others now, excuse me.”
Astrid let go of Ryan, gently patted the spot where she gripped his wrists and moved to the door to exit.
As she did so, the door opened, revealing Eira standing in the doorway, her hair damp.
“Eira!” Astrid proclaimed, bowing.
“Astrid. I’ve been meaning to bring Ryan by for his psychological evaluation.”
“Hmm. We bumped into each other just now and we had a chat. His strength is good, he’s coherent but he’s keeping me posted on that, excuse me.”
Astrid squeezed past Eira and disappeared from view.
Eira closed the door behind her gently and turned to Ryan.
“Mm.” Replied Eira, walking over to Ryan. “Are you feeling okay?”
Ryan nodded. That was the truth of it. He was okay, all things considered. The sight of his mother, hearing her voice again, shook him deeply to the point that every time his mind brought it back up, it was like somebody had stabbed a knife in his gut and was leaving it there to twist later. But the sights and sounds around him distracted him. That was the best he could do for now, be distracted.
Eira extended a hand and placed it on his shoulder. “Come, let us have breakfast together.”
To be continued…