Adjustments, Part II
“I like to come here when I have the time.”
Eira and Ryan stood in a patch of tall grass that overlooked a waterfall.
The noise was thunderous – so much so that Eira had to raise her normally quiet voice.
Ryan could not see Valhalla anymore. In each direction, grandfather trees shot up into the sky, their pale aged bark obstructing the view to the world outside.
Eira had taken him beyond Valhalla, deep into the Fensalir forest.
It wasn’t far; Ryan noted to himself, the walk only lasted five minutes.
It was where they currently stood that they had their breakfast – a plate of fruit, the likes of Ryan had never tried before. As he bit into it, sweet and sour sensations flooded his mind and tingled his tongue. Eira watched amused, of course.
Now they stood in silence, listening to nothing but the crash of water into the lake below.
Just watching the water flow and fall, flow and fall, made him sleepy.
Movement caught his eye and he looked to see Eira wriggling out of her pale grey dress. It fell to the ground in a clump, revealing her bare body.
The light was caught behind her, setting her form alight as if she were a performer on the stage.
He noticed Goosebumps on her arms, goose bumps that travelled across her breasts, stiffening her nipple as they went.
The word beautiful hit Ryan’s mind and left just as instantly, a fleeting thought.
Her ass bore the mark where he had struck her the day before. A reminder of the darkness that possessed him.
And how it felt to indulge such darkness.
Looking back at him, a crooked appeared across Eira’s face, before she turned to face the waterfall below – and leapt off.
Ryan jumped into action, his heart suddenly kicking into overdrive. Something warm and hot slithered across his back and down his legs – adrenaline working overtime.
When he peered over the edge, she was already into the lake below, the splash spraying upwards.
How far down was that drop? Ryan wondered, but mathematics was never his strong suit. A long way down came the answer in his head.
A moment later, Eira resurfaced. Her giggle echoed up the Cliffside.
“What were you thinking? Are you okay?”
“I am fine Ryan K-…I am fine.”
It was as if Ryan had no control over his words. Out of his mouth they stumbled, ignoring proper pronunciation.
He couldn’t tell what Eira was thinking, let alone what her expression was like as he stood on the edge of the Cliffside. He could only guess she was smiling though, judging from the slight giggle he could hear.
Is this some sort of ritual..?
“Come join me!”
“What?! Oh no – no no no.”
Ryan wasn’t one for heights.
The plane seemed to scream as it leapt into the sky. Below, the city disappeared, as if fading out of existence.
Ryan wanted to scream.
“No I think I’ll stay up here. Or, you know, watch from up here.”
“I can guarantee your safety.”
“What if I die? Again?!”
“Then you’ll become one with the cosmos.”
Ryan began to tremble; he looked down at the sight of Eira, who was just a blur.
“Wait a minute, are you serious? I don’t come back or anything?”
Ryan let out a shaky sigh and looked down at the lake below. At his feet, a small pebble, scuffed by his shoe, rolled off and fell from view.
“New beginnings, right?”
“Might as well try something new…”
Ryan took a deep breath.
Wind. Drumming on his ears. All around him. A vortex. Ryan was falling. Endlessly.
Crashing into the artic. Freezing. Screaming. The world spinning by.
He emerges, his hair everywhere, over his eyes. He needs a cut.
Eira is looking back at him. Her eyes don’t look grey anymore, they look golden.
Ryan was drying his hair with a soft towel Eira provided.
The two were sitting on the banks of the lake, looking out at the area where they just swam.
“Do you still have your appetite?” Eira asked, reaching into her satchel. Ryan couldn’t help but notice that her breasts swayed along with her movement.
“I don’t know, do you have time to have that breakfast with me? Or will someone summon you?”
“The only person who has requested me has been you.”
She pulled out a golden apple and handed it to Ryan. “Here. Eat.”
“Are we training again?”
“When we get back. For now, eat.”
Somewhere beyond the trees, a bird cried out shrilly.
The morning forest stirred with life Ryan could not see.
He took the apple and rubbed it on his chest. Eira, catching the movement, looked at him with a bemused expression across her face.
From the satchel, she pulled forth her own apple and bit into it.
What if I die? Again?!
Then you’ll become one with the cosmos.
She looked to Ryan, mid bite.
“What do you mean by ‘You’ll become one with the cosmos’.”
Eira thought the question over, turning the apple over and over in her hands.
“Your energy, all that you are here, fades.”
Ryan felt his face crease.
All that I am…just vanishes. What of my memory?
The emptiness, the finality of it, terrified him. He couldn’t process it.
“But…I’m already dead.”
“As are the Valkyries, yet we have died before. And will die in the battle to come.”
Her face grew solemn as she spoke. She put the apple down on the grass on which they sat.
“Valkyries have lived before?”
Eira, who had been sitting cross-legged, her wings out behind her, shifted her position so that she faced Ryan.
“Oh indeed. Each Valkyrie has lived before – a mortal life! In death, we are brought before Freya, lady of Folkvangr, or the All-Father.”
“So…you were like me?”
He instantly felt stupid for asking that, but Eira did not seem to mind, she nodded and smiled.
“Some retain a memory of their former selves, others struggle to. I cannot.”
Eira shook her head, extending her arms to look at the scarring on her wrist. “The only thing I recall is waking up on the shores of Asgard, naked as the tide washed over me.”
Ryan looked down at her scar and flinched at the memory that came to mind –
Eira winced beneath his touch.
His palms stung but he couldn’t stop. He was addicted.
He was addicted.
“I’m sorry I hurt you…”
Eira looked up from her outstretched arm and into his eyes.
“That is not hurt. You do not have anything to apologise for.”
Something strange occurred then, in that little space away from the riotous celebrations of Valhalla. Eira lent in and kissed Ryan softly on the cheek.
Her lips were soft and cool on his skin.
While Ryan’s body tensed at the pleasant feeling, Eira began to feel something else deep within her, a pang of guilt.
When the two arrived back in the great hall of Valhalla, they were met with the stench of mead and sweat and loud joyous music.
Some men cheered, linking their arms to a Valkyrie as they danced around happily. Other men took their slaves over the table from behind aggressively, tweaking their slaves’ nipples.
Ryan was still getting used to the sight of the party that never seemed to end. But between the dancing nude men and women and the sound of a flute striking a melody alongside the rhythmic beating of the drum, his mind wandered to the idea of a dance.
He turned beside him to where Eira was standing, watching the people dance with that sweet smile, and extended his arm.
“I don’t know how to dance but I figure we’ll just go with it?”
Eira didn’t know what he meant by ‘just go with it’ but she linked her arm with his all the same.
With their arms interlocked, the two began to dance.
To be Continued…