Valhalla, Ch. 11 – Past Lives

CHAPTER ELEVEN

 

PAST LIVES

 

 

 

Ryan came to.
His chest felt heavy and his vision was a blur.
He could make out the table across from his room; he could definitely make out the light that flooded in through the open window
Did you open that, mum?
And he could feel the breeze on his exposed feet that stuck out the side of the bed.
Had someone woke me? He wondered, rolling on his back to face his bedroom door, expecting to see Eira.
No one came.
As he sat up in bed, he felt a dull pain crisscross against his chest. As if someone had held the handle of a…knife…against his chest tightly.
That’s when his eyes fell upon the item resting on the bedside table. It was a piece of parchment, faded yellow.
Ryan swung his legs out of bed and scooped up the parchment, his eyes scanning the jet-black ink.
The writing seemed feminine, he noted, as he began the first line.

Ryan,
I have been summoned by my All-Father to
Seek out a new soul.

Please forgive my absence, I

Shall return shortly.

 

In the meantime, training

Resumes as normal. Do see

Battle Mistress Mist if you require

Any assistance.

 

Eira

 

 

Rubbing his chest where it still felt constricted, Ryan re-reads the letter.
A new soul.
Does that mean her loyalty now belongs to this newcomer? Or do we share? Or…
Ryan dismissed the thought. He had to get dressed.

 

***

 

Ryan found Mist standing to the sides of the large empty field. Around them, men and women sparred, their grunts echoing across the field.
Ryan looked to his left, then to his right.
The field he was standing on was as large, if not larger, than the Etihad Stadium in Melbourne.
In the distance he could see another group of gathered warriors, their cries echoing back down to him.
As he stood in the shadow of Valhalla, still stretching inward from the morning sun, he watched the woman and man spar. The woman, a fellow warrior Ryan noted, swerved to the right and out of the man’s swing, meeting the attack with a fierce jab of her elbow.
With a cry, the man fell back on his ass. The woman laughed and cracked her neck.
All Ryan could think of was that he could never fight like that, like her.
“You are the one Eira brought recently.” Came the stern voice beside him.
Ryan turned in the direction of the voice, only seeing Mist, her back straight, hands behind her back rigidly, as she regarded the field.
“I am. Uh, Ryan. Ryan K-“
“You look concerned.”
Mist’s head moved in his direction, her body staying perfectly still.
“Well, I’m not a fighter, I guess. The last fight I was in was when I was eight. I…”
“All this can be taught. What matters…is the spirit. Which is why you are here…”
Ryan wasn’t a fighter. He had avoided any of that. The only fights he had been in was any high school jock picking on him as a teen, in which they did most of the punching. Ryan always took it. He didn’t know how else to react.
Anything after high school were verbal confrontations, defused with words or separation.
The last fight, his fourth physical fight in his lifetime, ended his life.

“Remember the past. Acknowledge it, even. But move forward, strengthen yourself.”
“Do you re….”
Mist was watching him closely, her deep blue eyes intense and focused.
“I do.”
She remained stiff, never faltering, never relaxed.
“Not every fighter, not every Valkyrie recalls their life. Some have fragments, some grow consumed by it, and some choose to forget. I choose to remember what we are fighting for. What I am fighting for.”
Mist turned her gaze from him and bowed as warriors approached Mist and bowed themselves, before beginning their duel.
“In another life, I was took part in the Marines. My squad featured some of the fiercest warriors I have ever met, some of them were even chosen to serve the All-Father along with me.”
There was a ghost of her smile on her face.
“Líf was one of them. “
Líf stood thirty metres away on the field, fighting against another Valkyrie. From where Ryan stood, she was a blur.
“My life would come to end earlier than hers, however. Amidst liberating Kuwait, something searing hot-“
Mist’s face drew into a scowl as she spat out the word hot. Her eyes became fierce.
“Clipped my neck. I woke up her. Before the All-Father and Mother themselves.”
“And you remembered?”
Ryan asked, his mind racing with thoughts.
“Not at first. The All-Mother spent some time guiding me on what they were trying to achieve. After the first few months, the dreams came. And after a while, so did the memories. Now…”
Mist turned to face Ryan once more. “I choose to remember. I just do not let it control me…”
She turned back to face the field, raising her hand in the air.
Líf, who had beaten her opponent in the spar, saw the signal and headed towards the two of them.
“Ragnarök is coming, Ryan. We need all you can give to us.”
Ryan felt a lump lodge in his throat as Líf approached. She fell on one knee.
“Battle Mistress…”
“No need of formalities, Líf. Care to spar with this gentlemen here?”
Líf’s golden eyes fell upon Ryan and her face lit up in a smirk that was strangely charming.
“Gladly, old friend.”
As Líf cracked her neck, Ryan gulped.

 

***

 

Líf beat Ryan, to be sure. By the time they broke for lunch, his buttocks were sore from falling over and his legs were aching from practicing the stiff defensive stance.
Yet through all that, Líf never grew impatient. She encouraged him, helped him up where he fell. Gave him pointers on reacting to her blows.
Despite all this, she did not hold back her blows, landing several hits that Ryan could tell would welt by the morning.
By the evening, Líf left Ryan at the entrance to his bedroom with a formal bow. She had asked if she would be needed for the evening, but Ryan politely decline, causing her eyes to darken and her brow to frown. Regardless, she bowed again and continued on down the hall.
When Ryan collapsed on his bedroom, he could feel the familiar dull ache of his chest. It was still tight from the morning, hanging around with that familiar dull ache.
It didn’t take long for sleep to find him.

 

***

The following morning, Ryan sat by himself in the great hall, around a table that smelled of mead. It was too early in the morning for him for mead, however, so he settled on a coffee, hoping for a caffeinated boost to the system.
Eira was still absent. Kára too, he noticed. Both must’ve been given the task of accompanying a new soul (or souls) on their journey to Valhalla.
When the doors to Valhalla creaked open, silencing the music and the hall itself, Ryan joined everyone’s head in turning to see who was arriving.
A group of Valkyries stepped forward, their soul either standing beside them, or behind them. Ryan tried to count as they stepped forward and got as far as ten before he saw Eira emerge, walking beside another woman outfitted in a pale grey dress. The woman brushed the dirty blonde hair out of her eyes as she looked around the room, her eyes widening.
Eira searched the room, her face in a frown.
It was only a matter of time before her eyes found Ryan, sending chills up his spine for reasons unknown.
Was it that she found him amongst the crowd? Or that he was thinking that this new woman might be Eira’s new focus?
Ryan hoped the coffee had the answer and would provide him with it shortly after the caffeine boost.
Eira didn’t make her way over to him, Ryan noticed. Rather, she stood in a line amongst the Valkyries, bowing her head.
Ryan’s eyes moved to the front of the great hall, where Odin sat, his piercing grey eye looking out amongst the newly arrived warriors.
In stepped more warriors and Valkyries, and more still. Ryan stood watching, cradling his coffee, thinking on what Eira said about the size of Valhalla and how many warriors it can hold.
Amongst the crowd, Ryan spotted Kára step through the doors, walking with a posture as perfect as Mist.
Beside her was a man.
The man who had ended Ryan’s life.
Ryan’s chest began to ache.

 

The End of the Chosen arc.

 

 

And now, some notes:

For some reason, I have designed Valhalla like a comic book, divided up amongst several arcs – with one leading into the next and continuing little plot points that I had been building to.

This chapter acts as the end to the introductory saga (as a draft anyway!) with more to come in the near future.

I don’t know what to do with this series just yet. I have, as of March 2018, 25 chapters planned of this story, characters and their relationships and I am considering a novel, or just putting all this away in a box in my house because maybe it’s not good enough.

 I mean, maybe it isn’t? Maybe it just needed to be written. It is still a draft, one I will no doubt be rewriting to the end of time, but being the perfectionist anxious bugger I am, I don’t know how skilled or entertaining I am of a writer.

 

In any case, this is going on hiatus for now.

Valhalla, Ch. 6 – “Valhalla”

CHAPTER SIX

 

VALHALLA

 

Valhalla feast-booya.jpg

When Ryan stepped off the longship and onto the beach, he paid no attention to the sand beneath his feet or to the scorching hot sun that bore down upon him. His attention was drawn upwards to the majestic structure known as Valhalla that stood high above him.
The enormous hall towered over the longship and its band of new souls and guiding Valkyries, a beacon for those once lost.
Eira walked beside Ryan as they approached, a sullen expression upon her face.
She had been sullen since the morning, Ryan had noticed.
Though he wanted to ask why, he thought it best not to interfere. He didn’t know if he would step on the hierarchy of the Valkyries and cause strife.

A dirt path coiled ahead of them and disappeared behind a hill of luscious flowers, each one a different colour – Lavender, Crimson, Yellow, Deep Blue. Every one just as dazzling as the one before it.
As Ryan moved past the small patch of vibrant flowers, something bright stunned his eyes and forced him to look away, shielding his face.
A group of Valkyries, donned in their silver-gold armour, giggled at him as did so.
“The first time glancing upon Glasir is always hard” Eira said, her voice taking on the same flatness it had when Ryan first met her.
“Look again, Ryan Kennedy.”
“Please…just Ryan.”
Ryan lowered his hands from his face and relaxed his eyes, which were scrunched shut.
“Ryan Kennedy…open your eyes.”
Ignoring the fact that Eira had spoken his name in full again, Ryan opened his eyes.
The shimmering colour of the red-gold leaves of Glasir caught his eye first. In all his years, he had never seen anything quite as breath-taking. The trees he saw in the city back on Earth weren’t anything like this. Even the bark of Glasir took on a grey-white colour that suggested it’s age. How long had it been here?
“Come along, newcomers.” Came a voice from behind Ryan.
Mist, the tall African-American Valkyrie, strode past Ryan without even battering any eyelid in his direction.
Eira looked from Mist back to Ryan and a faint smile appeared on the corners of her mouth.
“Come. The All-Father awaits.”
Ryan’s heart skipped a beat. “Wait – All-Father. You mean, Odin?”

Ryan looked ahead. The Valkyrie known as Mist stood before two gigantic iron doors. The doors themselves were marked in the language of Old Norse and depicted some sort of beast slithering around the borders of the door, weaving in and out of the leaves that blossomed around it. In the middle of all of this….
“Ragnarök.” Eira whispered. “It is foretold there will be a great battle, and before it ends, the world will be submerged in water…”
Ryan looked from one door to the next, looking at the figures he didn’t recognise, their stone depictions set in anguish amidst a great storm.
Before he could process anything further, the great doors opened, letting loose the riotous laughter from its halls within.
As the crowd of new souls and Valkyries stepped in, Ryan felt another heartbeat slip from regulation.

Before him was an enormous hall, with giant tables spread from one side of the room to the other, each one surrounded by men, Dwarves, Elves and other creatures Ryan didn’t recognise.
Around the tables were Valkyries – nude, tattooed and pierced – walking around, serving tables, sitting on the laps of Men.
An Elf and a Valkyrie sat off to the corner of the great hall, the Valkyrie riding the Elf and barely able to contain her moans while a group of Elves cheered them on.
The scene was chaos to Ryan, something out of the weirdest porno you’d find on the dark corners of the Internet.
At the far end of the great hall was a stage and on that stage another table, running from one corner of the stage to the other.
In the centre of the table and stage sat Odin, the All-Father. He looked eagerly down the room at the new arrivals as he stroked his grey beard that ran down to the table itself. Ryan noted that over his right eye was a silver eye patch.
His left eye scanned the newcomers as a smile spread across his lips.
In the chair beside Odin sat a woman with sunset-kissed hair, dressed in a dazzling silver-white gown.
As Ryan’s eyes travelled over her, her eyes met his. Ryan didn’t know how that was possible that she could see him, out of the twenty other warriors beside him, but somehow, he just knew. He knew she was looking at him.
“The All-Mother.” Eira whispered from beside him. “She’s seen you now..”
“Wait, what does that mean?” Ryan asked, turning to Eira.
“Warriors! Welcome to Valhalla!” Odin boomed, rising from his seat.
The Valkyries behind Ryan, Eira among them, knelt down at the sound of his voice.
The talking in the hall that buzzed deafeningly as Ryan and the newcomers entered, died down, as did the sexual activity.

Odin spoke in a deep voice, low and smooth and commanding.
“You must be weary after such a travel, after such a change. I trust your assigned Valkyrie will see you to your chambers, should you choose rest. However, a feast has been prepared for your arrival should you starve!”
“Now…” Odin Began. “Each of you know why you are here. Ragnarök is coming. It is foretold. And I…I need each and every one of you to fight when the time comes.”
The great hall was eerily quiet.
Odin cleared his throat. “Do not fret though, you have been chosen. The best of the best in all of the nine realms! I have every bit of confidence in each and every one of you, fighters and my Valkyries.”
Odin scanned the room once more. “Mist! Rise!”
Ryan turned to look behind. The Valkyrie known as Mist rose to her feet. Kneeling beside her was Kára, her head bowed down.
“Warriors, I trust you’ve met Mist but if you have not, as the BattleMistress of the Valkyries, she will be the one to train you, should you feel….weak.”
Odin cleared his throat again, raised his hands and clapped loudly.
“Come! Let us feast!”

The great hall was met with cheers from all around.
Odin laughed then raised his hand to silence the room, which fell quiet instantly.
“Eira.”
Ryan frowned. Every Valkyrie knelt just at the entrance to the great hall turned and looked in her direction.
Kára looked at Eira, a frown forming across her face, her mind beginning to race.
Eira rose to her feet. “Yes, All-Father?”
Her voice was shaky.
“Come to me, child.”
Eira looked at her fellow Valkyries with an expression Ryan could tell was uneasiness.
Quietly, she made her way through the rows of dinner tables, followed by a quiet murmuring from the crowd.
Ryan watched as Eira made her to the stage and stood next to Odin. When she began to kneel again, Odin stopped her.
“There’s no need for that, child. Stand, and lose your armour.”
When Eira looked out across the crowd, the sea of faces, Odin spoke again.
“There is no reason to fear. I merely wish to show people your exquisite beauty.”
After a moment’s hesitation, Eira began to unclasp her armour.
Ryan’s stomach started to twist as her breast plate hit the stage floor with a clang that shot out across the room.
Now that the breastplate was off, Eira, standing in a padded white t-shirt, pulled the fabric up over her head, revealing her small breasts.
Some people in the crowd chuckled, others whistled. Odin silenced both with a raised hand.
“Why is she looking so sad?” Kára hissed through gritted teeth somewhere behind Ryan. “Meeting this request for the All-Father should be an honour!”
“And you were never shy your first time being bare in the great hall?” Shot back another Valkyrie with raven-black hair and violet eyes that was kneeling beside her.
Kára scoffed at this, but fell silent.

When Ryan looked from that exchange back to the stage at the end of the hall, Eira was taking off the clothing beneath her armour, revealing her long pale and slender legs.
This is normal? Thought Ryan. This is what the Valkyries sign up for? This is their destiny? Are they happy? Or is Eira just nervous?
“Now…” Odin began. “Climax.”

Eira looked out amongst the crowd, hesitant.
Ryan could hear Kára from behind scoffing, but movement from the stage caught his eye. Eira had begun to masturbate.
Acid rose up in Ryan’s throat as he watched, but there was something else lingering below the surface. Arousal.
At first, Eira’s hands danced along the shape of her cunt, tracing shapes along her slit. As she traced though, she started to moan.
It was softer at first, then it became louder, ringing out across the hall.
Her knees shook as one hand traced her slit slowly, down…then upwards again, slowly, hypnotically, while the other hand reached up across her stomach to squeeze her right breast.
Ryan watched, conflicted, confused, unable to process if this was alluring or appalling.
All of a sudden he felt a strange sensation in his gut. He felt someone looking at him, and looked across from Eira, where the red-haired woman sat.
This time there was no mistaking it. The woman was looking right at Ryan, all the way down the hall and into his eyes.
When he looked into her eyes, he felt something stir from within.
What is it you fear, Ryan? Came a voice, gentle and sweet.
Ryan could hear it in his head clear as day. It frightened him so much, he fell backwards against the wall of Valhalla, causing the souls and Valkyries to look in his direction, some sniggering at his clumsiness.
They probably thought this is over Eira but….Was that the lady’s voice in my head?
Ryan’s thoughts were interrupted by Eira’s moans. She stumbled from where she stood on stage, her whole body shaking.
As she looked across the great hall, a faint smile formed across her lips.

The great hall applauded thunderously, every creature and Valkyrie, bar two people, Kára and Ryan.
Kára knelt, her head bowed, anger clouding her thoughts, while Ryan stood with his back against the wall, his mind reeling.
As he looked up, his eyes caught Eira’s, and for the briefest of moments, Ryan saw her smile falter.

To be Continued…