Valhalla, Part 3: The First Night In Asgard

Need to catch up? Here’s Chapter One and Two!

CHAPTER THREE

 

THE FIRST NIGHT IN ASGARD

 

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The sight of the orgy made Ryan forget his footing.
He tripped over his feet.
To his surprise, Eira caught him lightning-fast by the elbow, looking at him with those same curious eyes that fell upon him when he refused her body.
The two regarded one another a moment, before a shriek coming from the distance tore Ryan back towards the bonfire.
The towering inferno lit up the clearing around it, painting the people celebrating – celebrating what, Ryan thought, around it.
People whooped and hollered, moaned and groaned, a mix of noises all contorting together around the fire.
Ryan had never seen anything like it in his entire life.
He’d never been to a strip club, wasn’t interested in a dance or watching, it felt impersonal.
And orgies wasn’t something he’d ever thought about joining in on, he was more a one-on-one interaction.
As if reading his mind, Eira piped up.
She was walking in front of him, raising her voice so he could hear from behind her.
“As I mentioned earlier, the Valkyries, every so often, like to hold a celebration for the new souls.”
Something to Ryan’s right caught his eye and he looked to see a raven-haired woman sitting on the ground nude, with her back against a plank of wood and her legs raised above her head, held in place by rope tied back to the plank itself.
Upon closer inspection, Ryan saw the raven haired beauty was wearing a necklace featuring what appeared to silver decorated in the shape of wings.

 

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Her body was decorated in tribal tattoos, black flames curled up her arms and across her stomach.
Between her legs was another woman, her legs stretched out on the ground beneath her, her head buried into the raven woman’s crotch.
Eira saw Ryan had stopped and walked back to see what he was looking at.
“Oh. Would you like to watch?” She asked him, matter-of-factly. Not a hint of a tone in her voice suggested she was excited or jealous the women had Ryan’s eye. To Eira, it was another day.
“Perhaps join?”
Ryan instinctively covered his crotch.
“No” came out of him, and the raven-haired woman looked over at him.
He felt his cheeks burning, his stomach sinking. What on earth is this place, he wondered.
“Very well.”
Eira continued onwards and Ryan followed, passing a man engaging a woman in doggy-style to his right, his groans echoing out amongst the crowd.
A woman passed by him to his right, naked and wearing an ornament on her head that appeared to be made out of wood. It was ablaze, trailing smoke into the night sky.
The woman, her body painted in tribal tattoos, danced around the fire, holding her arms high in the air.
How many people were here, wondered Ryan.
He began to count, dotting the people with a wave of his finger in the air.
He gave up when he counted fourteen.

“Eira?” He asked when they came to a stop at an empty spot by the bonfire.
“Mm?”
“What….what…”
“I told you. Valkyrie’s are slaves. We, according to the All-Father, live to serve as slaves.”
“Is that just sexually?”
Ryan could feel the heat of the bonfire on his face, could smell that smoky wood-burning smell that he could associate with his youth, hanging around the bonfire with his mates and drinking.
The thought hit him hard. Mates.
He had lost touch with his mates from high school, hadn’t really made closer ones in the jobs he had been in. But still…would they mourn him?
“It is sexually, it is anything the new soul desires.”
“And this is something you’ve done, as well?”
As soon as Ryan said it, he braced himself for ridicule. He knew it sounded stupid, had felt it sounded stupid, but just had to ask, was curious to ask.
Eira just regarded him with a blank face. “Of course”
“What if I wanted, just wanted I mean, a guide..?”
Something flickered in Eira’s eyes. A moment of doubt, Ryan thought he saw, but couldn’t tell, for it was gone a second later.
“Do you wish to request a different Valkyrie? I can suggest-“
“No no, not necessary”
Idiot.
“I just..I’m not a fan of the casual sex thing in general”
“Casual? Hm. Are you interested in…males?”
Ryan felt his cheeks burning. “No, I just…I mean, straight up sex is…I’m not really a fan, you know. I’d like to get to know a person first, I…”
Eira was watching him closely.
“It’s not that this isn’t…all attractive, and you..I mean…this isn’t not a turn on, it is..I just…don’t…right now…”
Eira’s face and eyes relaxed. She smiled, seemingly satisfied with his answer.
“Eira”
A voice, low and commanding, came from their right.
Ryan looked over to see a fellow Valkyrie, tall and dark-haired, walking over to them. She wore the same necklace as the raven-haired woman Ryan saw earlier, her arms were covered with the same tattooed black flames twisting up the length of her lightly tanned arms.
Eira bowed and the woman bowed back, and then regarded Ryan with a half-smirk, her deep blue eyes glistening in the light of the bonfire.
“Your new soul?”
Eira nodded, staying silent.
“Why aren’t you naked?”
“I…”
“Furthermore, why aren’t you wearing your collar? You know the All-Father’s rules.”
Ryan looked to Eira, whose eyes seemed suddenly hurt.
One hand was raised to her neck, feeling for the collar that wasn’t there. Ryan hadn’t even noticed.
“I…I must have left it at my station.”
The dark-haired woman tilted her head at the response, her eyes moving to Ryan, still with that half-smirk.
“We carry that collar everywhere. Everywhere. It represents the All-Father.”
The dark-haired woman bowed with her left hand balled into a fist resting on her chest, while her right hand came outstretched, palm open, and Eira returned the gesture.
Ryan watched on as the two women faced each other.
The dark-haired woman was taller than Eira, with Eira coming to rest at the dark-haired woman’s shoulders.
“Don’t forget next time you go beyond, alright?”
Eira nodded. “Yes, sister”
Sister?
The woman Eira named ‘sister’ nodded. “Oh, and a word away from your soul? I’m sure he won’t mind a look around.”
Eira nodded and turned to face Ryan.
“This shouldn’t take long” She said and offered a little gesture somewhere between a curtsy and a bow.
With that, Eira and the dark-haired woman stepped away from him and Ryan was left alone.

He was suddenly uneasy, unwilling to look up in case he made eye contact with any one in the midst of an intimate encounter.
From across the bonfire, there came the sound of a woman orgasming, her cries echoed across from the other side of the bonfire, sounding, to Ryan’s ears, oh so delightful.
“You’re new” Came a voice, gruff and low.
Ryan looked to his right and saw a dark-skinned creature approach him.
It had the appearance of a dwarf, short and big-bellied. Its curious black eyes regarded Ryan as it sat down beside him, tucking its navy kilt underneath its bottom as it sat.
Ryan could barely hold back his scream. It came out like a hiccup.
The dwarf-like creature seemed to smile, revealing a crooked line of yellow teeth.
Along with the smile, Ryan’s eyes were drawn to its thick light-brown ears twitching on the creature’s head.
“It’s obvious by the bewildered look on your face”
The dwarf-like creature chuckled, deep and throaty.
Ryan stammered – but couldn’t find the words.
Suddenly the world seemed smaller, more dream-like.
He almost wanted to reach out and touch the tuft of fur on the dwarf-like creature’s chin, just to make sure what he was seeing was real and not the sort of characters he had read about in fantasy novels.
The dwarf-like creature’s eyes sharpened. “Didn’t your mother ever tell you that it’s rude to stare?”
Ryan averted his eyes, looked back down at his feet.
The dwarf-like creature threw back his head and laughed uproariously.
It smacked Ryan fair and square on the back, knocking Ryan off balance.
“I’m just joshing with you, lad! I’d expect a human to stare. It’s only natural to be curious.”
Ryan tried to force a smile but he just felt stupid.
“I am Mort, son of Martin. I hail from Niðavellir, home of the Dwarves!”
“Ryan” Was all Ryan could say weakly.
Mort laughed. “Ryan eh? I have not met a ‘Ryan’ yet. I shall journal this on the ‘morrow”
All Ryan could do was nod and avert his eyes. He suddenly felt a bit dizzy.
Home of the Dwarves? Is this really happening?
“My first time was the same, I do admit! Looking around and seeing all…this….there are no words, eh?”
Mort moved closer to Ryan. He was now shoulder-to-shoulder with him.
Not knowing whether to make eye contact or not, Ryan forced another smile, keeping his eyes pinned to the ground.
“It is a big honor, yes? Being chosen for the battle?”
Ryan brushed the smoke out of his eyes, making eye contact with Mort for the first time.
“Battle?”
“Aye, the looming battle! Has your slave not told you about what’s to come? Why we’re here?”
All Ryan could do was shake his head.
Then the curious creature named Mort told him everything.

***

 

After Kára had finished going over the details for the passage to Valhalla, Eira made her way back to the bonfire.
Her mood was soured. Kára always had that effect on her, had always seemed to enjoy teasing her. Eira never understood why.
Kára was older than Eira and had arrived to Asgard well before Eira had.
She had been assigned to Eira to train her in combat, as well as slave training, and though the two became polite with one another, and Eira followed every training order and stayed out of trouble, Kára seemed to relish in being a strict teacher.
Other Valkyrie’s voiced their opinion about Kára to Eira. They had done so often as they bathed together in the spring outside the walls of Valhalla.
Everyone had decided that while Kára could be a bit of a strict leader, her heart was in the right place, especially when it came to her role as a slave.
As Eira drew closer to the bonfire, she recalled Kára’s ferocious dedication to being a slave, having walked in on her whipping her back while reciting the All-Father’s slave mantra with precise clarity.
Eira admired her.
When Eira arrived to the spot she was standing with Ryan when Kára first walked over, she saw he was nowhere to be seen.
The thought crossed her mind that maybe he chose a different Valkyrie after all, so she walked around the perimeter of the bonfire, side stepping between Valkyries pleasing their men and women.
Ryan was nowhere to be seen.
At least around the bonfire.
This isn’t good, Eira thought. Walking Asgard unsupervised at night isn’t particularly dangerous, but the forest was a labyrinth, one a new soul was surely to get lost in.
Eira walked around the bonfire again, scanning the area more carefully. And that’s when she spotted him, leaning against the tree at the edge of the clearing.
As she approached him, she saw that his face was darkened.

At the sheer sight of it, a chill swept over her bare arms.
“Ryan?”
Ryan looked up, his face never changing from its darkened state.
“Ragnarok?”
Eira’s stomach sank.
Ryan, as if reading her thoughts, spoke again.
“Oh a Dwarf told me by the bonfire.”
He laughed bitterly.
“I was chosen for that? Plucked from my family when I could’ve been saving them when it happens. W-when you could’ve saved them. What’s that about, I mean, life as you know it, as I know it – it’s all going to end right?”
The hurt Eira could see in Ryan’s eyes made her feel uneasy.
“So the All-Father’s dreams have said, yes.”
“And it’s actually happening? I mean, this isn’t some misdirection?”
“Yes, soon The Giants will attack, according to the All-Father’s dreams…”
Ryan scoffed and fell to the ground. Eira couldn’t read his expression from where she stood.
She knelt down beside him and spoke gently and carefully.
“I’m sorry…I was waiting to tell you after the bonfire, after your mind adjusted. It’s why we’re here. It’s why any of us besides the gods themselves are here. We are training for war.”
Ryan buried his face in his knees, which were pulled up to meet his face.
“I already knew. I just needed to remember it from my…previous life”
Ryan choked out the last two words; Eira could hear the strain on his voice.
Without really knowing if she could or should, she rested a hand on his knee.
“You were dying, Ryan. And I had a choice in that moment to let you die and go to Freyja or come to Asgard”
Ryan looked up from his knee, his eyes fierce. “To fight your fight”
The words stung but Eira couldn’t relent. It was important, even in his grief, that he understood. “To fight the fight of the cosmos…”

She went on.
“I saw your strength in that moment, a fighter choosing to stick up for something so little. The passion I felt from you, it was my duty then and there to decide – and I do not regret my choice..”
“Choice? I’m not a fighter. I know nothing of battle!”
Ryan rose to his feet. “And what is all this…this nonsense? People being happy, dancing around? Does no one care about the life they left behind”
Eira rose too. Now Ryan was raising his voice at her and she could feel something burning up within her as well. What was it? Rage? Hurt?
“People are here because they care about the nine realms, about your world. Yes, they grieve but that grief drives them for the moment ahead when everything, everything we know, faces its end. So I am sorry, Ryan Kennedy, that your life came to an end but you are not the only one here grieving. Each one of us lost our lives, just as each one of us has a duty now to save the lives of the nine realms”

Eira could see Ryan’s eyes drift down. She trailed their line of sight down to the thin white lines craved into her fleshed.
The mysterious scars on the insides of her arms, the mystery of her previous life still forgotten to her, suddenly made her put her arms behind her back.
“We need people like you, whether you believe that or not.”
His eyes met hers then and once again, she spoke gently and slowly.
“And I promise you, you will always be able to see your family”

To be continued June 19th…

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Valhalla, Part One

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CHAPTER ONE:

 

CHOSEN

 

 

 

Ryan let out a sigh of relief as he closed the door to work.
The time was 6:50pm on a Thursday evening and the February weather was the coldest it had been in Melbourne in five whole years.
Since Ryan’s boss asked nicely Ryan agreed to stay behind.
He didn’t mind that. He embraced the stillness of the empty space of the office.
As he locked the office doors and started to move up the pavement, an ache in his forehead started to make it known to him, almost as if it were waiting for him to leave before announcing its throbbing presence.
Ryan ran his thumb and his index finger along his eyes, squeezing gently as he walked along the path.
Home, the place he was currently renting by himself was a ten-minute walk from his choice of work, the local newspaper The West Weekly.
He was looking forward to sinking into a bath and soaking the increasingly annoying headache away. Maybe catch up on some reading.
Bachelor life, it seemed, had suited Ryan. He had lived a quiet life of minimal friends; quiet nights in with Netflix, for the past two years, ever since he had split with his girlfriend of three years amicably.
She wanted to move to London, he knew his place was in Melbourne, with his family, his minimal friends and the city he had lived in his whole life – Geelong.
The split was hard at first but time worked with him to heal, work too. And now that that was behind him, he had settled into something of a life writing for the town he grew up in.
Ryan turned the corner, passing by the local estate of houses, all carbon copies of each other in neat little rows.

That was when he heard it.
It was manic. Female. Coming from the park before him that separated the rows of house cloning.
Before he could process, he found himself running in the direction of the scream.
He hopped over the log fences that acted as some sort of park decoration – and the scream became louder.
Up ahead he could see two figures, one a lighter colour and one shrouded in the darkness.
“What did I say about making noise, hm?”
It was a male’s voice. Deep. Gruff. Angry.
There was a smacking noise, skin against skin, as Ryan arrived towards the source of the scream.
The woman, dressed in a light blue dress, the lighter colour Ryan saw, was sobbing hysterically, straining to keep her voice quiet so there was no more noise for the man to punish her for.
Ryan felt the man turn to him in the darkness of the evening.
“This doesn’t concern you, mate. Get out of here”
Ryan came to a stop before the man. He couldn’t tell if the man had a weapon in the poor light of the park.
“Easy now.”
“I said back off, are you fuckin’ deaf?”
It all happened in an instant.
Instincts, you see, are fickle instruments. As Ryan found himself stepping forward in an attempt to calm the man, the man found himself also stepping forward, his blade in his hand.
The effect here was that the reaction, the instinct of the man, was that he felt he was being attacked. His instinct was to attack back.
The knife slid into Ryan’s stomach with ease.
Ryan let out a drawn out wheeze as he felt his stomach was on fire.
Somewhere very far away he heard an agitated voice curse out loud repeatedly.
He felt his legs betray him as he fell to the ground.
There was sobbing in the distance as well, echoing back all around him.
It was deafening.
Something was running down his leg, it felt unpleasant and warm.
Ryan made a mental note to –

 

***

There was something comforting about floating through the darkness.

 

 

***

 

 

“Ryan?”
A voice was calling out to him through the darkness.
It was female, sweet and soothing.
“Ryan Kennedy?”
Ryan opened his eyes weakly, to the blinding light of his surroundings.
It took him a few seconds for his eyes to adjust. He found himself blinking repeatedly as the voice continued to call his name.
His ears were ringing. They were adjusting to the sound of his surroundings just as his eyes were adjusting to the light.
“You’re okay now. It’s alright but I need you…”
The ringing in his ears drowned out the voice.
Ryan sat up, still blinking. He could sense the light through his closed eyes.
“Easy now” The muffled voice said gently.
“There’s…”
Ryan begin to speak but he felt his mouth give way to the delicious idea of sleep.
“You’re disoriented.” The voice answered to him through the darkness. “Can you open your eyes?”
Ryan opened his eyes; feeling like it took all of his strength to do so.
Kneeling before him was a kind face, with soft features. The smile upon it was warm, curved into a half smile.
When Ryan blinked, he saw that the reason why the woman glistened was because she was in a magnificent suit of armour.
The armour covered the woman’s arms, chest and legs in a dazzling mix of the colours silver and gold, with not a scratch to be seen on any part of it.
The woman was bent over Ryan, looking down at him with a look that Ryan perceived to be curiosity.
Her eyes, which darted back and forth to meet Ryan’s gaze, were a faded grey.
She wasn’t wearing a helmet, Ryan noticed as he looked at her, for her light auburn hair was free flowing in the wind.
That was when he noticed the object towering behind her.
Her wings, pure white and stretched out beyond her, from the left side of her body to the right.
They seemed to expand further as he laid eyes upon them.
The woman saw his eyes go wide and went to speak, went to say that everything was okay, that she wasn’t going to hurt him.

Ryan screamed, loud and long.
The woman winced at the noise, a terrible feeling of guilt built up within her as she saw the panic behind Ryan’s eyes.
Ryan finished his scream, sucking in air in huge gasps. Then he fell back, fainting.
The woman sighed, a sigh that was borne out of sadness at frightening him.
“They always scream the first time,” She said to no one in particular.

 

The first thing that Ryan saw when he came to was the blade of grass scratching against his forehead.
Panic seized him and he jumped upwards, brushing the grass away from him.
He was lying in a field of it, stretching miles out before him.
Ryan’s mind was in a stutter, like a record skipping on the one note. It was trying to make sense of where he was, what happened to him.
He went to feel for his wound and that’s when he realised he was shirtless.
The realisation swept over him like warm water from a shower – he was completely naked. No work uniform, no socks with holes in it that he had to replace.
With a racing mind, he went to sit up but that was a mistake.
His legs wobbled uncontrollably and he fell back on the soft grass below him.
“Don’t move, you’re in shock” Came a voice from behind.
He flinched at the voice, scrambling backwards, his hands clawing at the dirt.
“It’s okay! It’s okay!”
“Get away from me” Ryan found himself saying, as his hands gave way to the ground. He fell backwards, craning his neck.
“I’m not going to hurt you…I’m not..”
The woman came to a kneel in front of him, her face was dirty and glistening with sweat, her eyes fixed on him.
Ryan couldn’t take his eyes off her wings, which to his wonder retracted back under her arms.
“Where…am…I?”
His voice, which was low, wavered as he spoke.

The woman’s armour glistened in the sunlight as she watched him for an expression, all the while thinking and hoping that he wouldn’t pass out again.
The thought made something within her stomach knot up.
To her surprise, Ryan laughed. It was strange and unstable to the both of them.
“I’m dreaming. This is…no, I’m dreaming…”
“There’s no easy way to tell you this, Ryan Kennedy, but you’re dead”
The woman, who spoke to Ryan with a voice as smooth as honey, spoke directly, matter-of-factly. And with a straight face.

She didn’t smile. Her face didn’t even threaten to smile, she just watched him closely, unblinking.
Ryan stared at her for a moment, his grin vanishing in light of what she said.
He mulled it over. He thought he must’ve dreamt everything – leaving the store, finding the woman being harassed. He’s probably still back in the backroom, on his break.
Someone’s bound to wake him up for his shift. Jeffery, probably.
He found himself repeating what she was saying to him.
“I’m dead?”
The woman nodded, still looking at him unblinking.

Behind her, her wings expanded outwards again, darkening the two of them in its shadow. They seemed to have a mind of their own, contracting and retracting as if alive.
“Yes.”
Chills travelled up Ryan’s arms leaving behind Goosebumps and in that moment, Ryan remembered.
He remembered the taste of blood, the warm uncomfortable feeling.
There was a sinking sensation, like falling into the depths of the Earth.
Like falling asleep.
He looked into the eyes of the woman kneeling before him, her wings blowing gently in the wind.
Her eyes told him everything.

The woman explained everything; answering all of his questions in the same matter-of-factly way she had used to say that he was dead.
His sudden death at the hands of the mugger drove him away from the young woman and into hiding.
The police found him the next day at sunrise, holed up in an abandoned farmhouse just out of town.
The young woman, who was just on a jog that evening, would require months of therapy, the woman had said, but in time she would come to feel normal again, though her jogs now took place during the day and not a night.

Ryan had listened to her tale of how she had witnessed the whole exchanged quietly, feeling as if he wasn’t really; as if none of this was real.
He had died, she had said. So where was he now?
The woman smiled and without saying another word, turned from him and moved through the tree line behind her, disappearing.
Ryan’s legs moved for him and he followed, as if there were a greater force pulling him with her.
He pushed through the trees, ducking under and weaving out of the way of the leaves that threatened to smack back into his face.
After a moment of pushing through the heavy trees, that’s when he saw it.
The woman was standing on the Cliffside, overlooking a vast forest that stretched on for as far as Ryan could see.
The woman explained the reason why she knew all about the events around his death was because she is a Valkyrie, watcher of the battlefield, and minder of the souls.
“You see, Ryan Kennedy, you are in…”
She moved beside him and raised her hand and pointed to the space before her.
“Asgard”
Ryan followed where her arm was pointing, coming to rest his upon something that made me stumble backwards in disbelief.
There it was, off in the distance, resting on a Cliffside and surrounded by shimmering bonfires: Valhalla.
Ryan had to squint to get a better look, but it wasn’t good enough. It was too far away.
His legs were shaking, his chest tightening.

Valhalla was surrounded on either side by a forest, richly green, that stretched out far from view.
Valhalla itself looked like something out of a dream – an ancient temple, grey, lit by brilliant fires, stretching against the length of the cliff on either side.
Standing tall before the ancient structure were what looked like from where Ryan stood, for it was hard for him to make out, two statues.
Ryan looked down past Valhalla, past the Cliffside, and into the pit between him and the Valkyrie and ancient structure. He saw the great darkness looking back into him. How far it went, he did not know.
He gazed back at Valhalla and for the longest time, his mind was skipping over the concept again and again, trying to process it.

“But…I don’t…”
“You have been chosen, Ryan Kennedy…”
Ryan turned to the woman beside him. “Chosen?”
The woman nodded, smiling.
Ryan found that the smile was enchanting. He hadn’t taken her appearance in too deeply, he suppose that had something to do with the idea that he was dead! But now as the two stood by the cliff side looking at each other, he seemed to see her first time.
She had short auburn hair, styled in the form of an undercut.
Her face, which was regarding Ryan, was twisted into the same crooked smile he woke up to, her light steely eyes searching his for a reaction.
As they stood there in that moment, Ryan noticed markings on her upper arms – little slits where she had been cut that had now scarred.

“Yes. You have been chosen for this place, like the others.”
“Others? You mean my friends and family? They’re here?”
The woman’s smile was gone in an instant.
“I only take those All-father selects himself, as I am his slave.”
She bowed her head and knelt down, extending one out and pointed to the ground with the other arm against her chest, her fist on her chest closed tightly.
“I am sorry.”
Ryan watched the gesture feeling lightheaded. His mind kept coming back to the idea that he was dead, that he could never see his family or friends again.

Not until they died themselves, a thought came out loud and clear.
The idea made him feel sick to the stomach. He fell back against the tree trunk behind him, feeling nauseous.
When the woman rose back to her feet, she smiled at him that same enchanting smile.
“Ryan Kennedy…”
“Please…uh..just Ryan..”
The woman bowed her head. “My name is Eira.”
The woman named Eira was still smiling as she extended her hand past him back the way they came.
“Come. There is a spring past the field we arrived in. A bath will do you good. I have some new clothes for you”
This caused Ryan to look down. He had been so caught up in the idea that he was here; in Valhalla – dead – that he completely forgot he was completely naked.

Eira couldn’t hide her smile as she began to walk past him, causing Ryan to duck out of the way of her wings.
Ryan had no choice but to follow her. He still had more questions about his death, about his family, about her.

To Be Continued…

Chapter Two (Or #2) is out April 19th. So if you enjoyed this, know there’s more coming!


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