The sky was dark with shiny beads of light, racing towards the ground. With each collision, the little fat rain circlets went singing into the darkness until the air was still. Time was moving on and hearts were growing weary for a select few on the mount. In the middle of Mount Olympus, a conversation was taking place under the nose of Zeus.
“The people have forgotten us,” insisted Ares as he walked to the back of the garden and rested his hands on a small wet glistening pillar.
Phobos looked at his nails and frowned slightly. “No, that’s not it, at all. These people have no need for us. They haven’t forgotten us, they have shrines with our likeness centered in their gardens. Our people believe us to be dead and gone because they are defeated. We are caged like beast. We aren’t even permitted to walk amongst the humans anymore.”
“In other words, they have forgotten us. Do you hear any prayers? I hear Odin, Mighty Thor, and other names, but not a single Ares, or Zeus,” swore Ares.
“Oh, don’t be like Zeus, please! It isn’t that bad, yet. What did you think would happen? We hide on our sweet Olympus day and night. When was the last time you went down there? When was the last time you walked down the mountain? ” Phobos pointed downwards as he took a small circlet and flung it into the air. “Yet, there are still mortals who believe in Gods. Those mortals are panicking because they feel a great war is about to open up and pour chaos onto their grounds. They like it. Who prays for war? Some are worried about never being able to join their brothers in the great Valhalla,” snickered Phobos. “They are people wanting to die for the chance to be with their Gods. Of course, our people are silent. I have summoned you here because their panic and want gives life to me and it makes me wonder, father. We can be great again. We can silence the other Gods by taking their believers. We need only one follower who can perform magical works by way of us, and bring back the Greek Gods.”
“We can’t walk amongst them. If we go down there…we will be killed by your grandfather’s guards. We are dead to them, Phobos. Zeus wanted all of the Gods forgotten and buried after the last battle. He wanted us to stay out of the human’s problems.”
Phobos looked into the night and sighed. “Zeus is weak. He doesn’t know any other way. He is no longer the ruler he was when you were young. Some of the others think he’s losing it and father, I believe it too. I mean he did the unthinkable. He gave his power up to protect the mount. We could have protected Olympus without becoming weak. And why are we to waste away because he is no longer great? Ares, you still have the power over war. You can become the new leader over Mount Olympus. We are not dead, we are not weak, and we did not give up who we are, to be forgotten and stored away like these humans store away their winter meat. What if we can make new followers and bring people back to us, would it not be worth more? Just thinking about it makes me feel alive again, and I feel the need to thrive as we did ages ago. Are you with me, father? We can take these people and become great again.”
Ares looked down at his dark trousers and picked up a small bug. “Yes, I suppose we can.” Smiled Ares. “Give me time, and I will show you a new Olympus with a new breed of followers.”
Norway Eve of Mischief
The sky was almost fully eclipsed by a vast shade of darkness as Aase ran behind a tall swollen tree. She dipped down and lowered her head hoping to hear a familiar sound. After seconds faded by she felt a strange chill run up her back. There she stood, holding her father’s relics in her hands while rival Vikings circled her domain. She closed her eyes and prayed the Gods would bless the darkness to come with haste. With a complete blanket of darkness she would be allowed to hide without detection. After finishing up her prayer, she opened her eyes to cold blue orbs beaming up at her lips. “Get away from me, Hafling,” demanded Aase as she dropped the relics to the base of the tree while pulling her golden bracelet down her wrist, letting it fall to the grassy hole between her feet.
The blue orbs grew larger as the Viking came closer and pressed his hand against her breast. “I like them tall.”
“Do you?” Aase frowned deeply as she plunged her knee into his ribs. Finally, he had no choice but to hit the ground. “Do you like tall lasses now?” Before she was able to deliver another blow a large hand grabbed her by the hair and pushed her against the tree.
“You’ll regret that.”
Aase was forced around with her head merging into the tree. Before she could yell out for help, she felt her face being scraped against the tree’s bark. Another few minutes and she felt as if the sun was digging into her skin with an untouchable hint of madness. The trees and the ground were merging as one. She felt her feet being lifting into air and shadows around her bowing at her greatness. Soon a great thump was felt. She opened her eyes to the cold hard ground and the sky above her. The small man walked up to Aase and grabbed a handful of her golden hair. “Don’t you want to know, whose barn you carry?”
Aase tried to pull away, but he wouldn’t let her. He motioned for his servant to come into sight. “Meet my servant!”
Aase felt sick once again. She had been with a servant. She looked at the stranger and noticed his dark flowing hair. He frowned as she threw up near the Viking’s feet. “You vile creature, you allowed someone to ravish a Laird’s daughter. Odin will kill you for this,” whimpered Aase as she spit bark in the short man’s eyes.
“Worry about your womb,” grunted the Viking as he knocked her head into the tree.
A few hours later Aase woke up to a group of women standing around her. “Who did this to you?”
Aase looked at the mob hesitantly. “I don’t know. It all happened too fast for me to see the coward,” lied Aase as she tried to cover herself.
“We have to tell father. Surely he will make him marry you,” demanded her sister.
“Nei, there is no need. I killed him.”
“You said you didn’t see him. Aase, what if you’re pregnant?”
Aase rubbed her hands across her face. “I’ll think about that, when the time comes. Right now I need to take care of something.” Picking up a small pack of herbs and holding them tightly in one hand Aase rushed to the nearest isolated area. After she was safely out of sight she took the handful of herbs and stuffed them into her mouth. Her stomach started to ache immediately. Within a few minutes she was vomiting blood and then a stranger came from nowhere.
“What are you doing?”
“Get away from me.”
“You can’t do this,” demanded the stranger as he held his hand against her stomach. “You are carrying a marked child. This child will not die.”
Aase tried to push his hand away but his hand turned into a heated furnace pressing into her stomach. The touch was more painful than the herbs. “I’ll protect the barn. Just please don’t kill me.”
As the months advanced Aase’s stomach started to grow. She starting having dreams of wars between Gods of various regions. One night after she had fell asleep she saw the father of her baby standing at the end of her bed. He was looking over her smiling as he pointed up to the sky. Before he was able to speak, Thor’s hammer came crashing down. The dark haired visitor reached up and waved his hands towards his face. A giant army came racing down with bows and swords unlike anything Aase had ever seen.
“You’ll never have my child, Thor.”
Thor reached for Aries. “There is no place for you here, Aries.”
Aase woke up in a cold sweat. She looked around the room. It was empty. She grabbed her cloak and reached for the door. She knew telling her father the truth would challenge her place in the family, but it might protect her child. The dreams of the child’s father were telling of a much different story than the one she lived in the woods so many nights before. She was now sure she was carrying a child of the Gods, but it wasn’t a child of the Norse Gods. Aase pulled her hood over her head and took off in search for her father. He was standing alone near the fire drinking from a stein. Aase took her father by the hand. “Laird, I have something to tell you about my barn’s father.”
Aase’s father looked down with green caring eyes. “What is it, Aase? Who is he?”
Aase steadied her voice hoping her father would not see the shame in her eyes. “He is a slave and not from this place.”
Her father looked down at her stomach. “Have you told anyone?”
“Nei, I wanted to tell you first. I lied and told the women I killed him because I didn’t want to shame you.” Guilt was starting to choke her as she continued with her tale.
“Why didn’t you come to me sooner? You can’t have this barn. You know our clan will never let this go.”
Aase wiped a tear from her cheek. “I tried to kill the barn. I went head first down a cliff when I first found out I was with child. I broke my arm and leg, but this child was unharmed. It was as if the Gods had their hands on him. I have no choice I’m having the barn. I’ll leave if you want, I’ll go stay far away, but I know I have to keep this barn.” She remembered the hot hand that scorched a print into her stomach.
“Do you know what this means? If you have a sveinn, he will not be allowed here. You can’t bring it around here. He will never be able to take over these lands. ”
“I’ll trade my valuables for a little piece of land. He will have what I have.”
Her father looked away once more. “Don’t go yet. We will wait and see what the child is and how this child looks. Maybe the child will look like you and your story can stay hidden.”
Norway Present Day
“Wake up, my child. You are needed for the great Ragnarok, come now.” Hertha grabbed her torch and flung it around. “Who’s there? Come out!”
“Go back to sleep. The men will be needing that torch soon. You better figure out how you plan to replace it before they figure out it is missing. We have a few more hours before the sky brightens up,” snapped Erica as she pulled the thick elk’s skin, over her shoulders.
“Nei, someone called out to me. The voice said I was needed for the Ragnarok.”
“The Ragnarok, and a twig of a girl, like yourself.” snorted Erica.
“The Ragnarok is for warriors who are called by Odin and only he can decide whom he sees fit and he claims lads and lass. What can a skinny twig of a gurl like yourself do in the great battle? You are a bastard child of a removed Laird’s daughter.”
“We all have a place in saving our people’s future. My slenderness makes me quicker than most. What about our ma’s vision? She said we were destined to be special. Do you not recall it? Besides, I know what I heard. I heard it with my own ears. I could even feel his cold breath on my neck,” whispered Hertha as she ran her fingers across the side of neck.
“Aase, this is your doing,” insisted Erica as she frowned. “Our Aase said a lot of things and none of them made any sense. Our mum was crazy.”
Hertha shook her head and put on a long dress with a thick brown cloak. “I know what I heard, and I believe her. She was always right and she knew about the Gods,” insisted Hertha. “And I’m not sleepy anymore, I’m going for a walk.”
As the sun came up in the morning sky, Hertha was able to take in an unbridled look at the land. The snow was ankle deep and the branches were covered with a heavy sheet of icy snow. The white blanket was so heavy that it bent the branches of the trees, causing them to brush against the ground. While the branches were cracking loudly underneath the heavy snow, animals were trying to escape with their very lives.
“Go to the river,” whispered a voice from the wind.
Hertha turned around and looked for the owner of the voice. “Who’s there? Say it again.”
“Go to the river, and stick your hand in the icy waters until your fingers start to burn,” demanded the voice.
“Why should I? Why would I do such a stupid thing? You wish to mangle my hand,” snorted Hertha.
The wind blew violently forcing Hertha’s braid to unravel and fall below her shoulders like a river of red and gold. Hertha held her cloak tighter against her body and held her head down. “Who are you?”
“I am your protector, your leader,” whispered the wind. “I knew your mother.”
Hertha’s eyes grew large. “I knew it. I knew she wasn’t daft. Are you Thor? Are you sending me into battle, Mighty Thor?”
The voice was quiet for a few seconds. “Just go, Hertha. We are depending on you.”
Hertha moved faster through the thick snow until she came upon the river. “Nei, it’s frozen. I can’t do anything. It’s hard as a rock.”
A large boulder started to roll from the mountain above the river. Hertha ran behind a large tree as the rock hit the icy river just adjacent to her body. “Go now, swim to the bottom of the rock and there you will find it.”
Hertha placed her cloak on the ground and mumbled a silent prayer. “Gods save me now.” She rushed down into the icy river. As she was swimming downward the waters started to harden. “I’m going to die.” She pushed forward until she made it to the rock. By the time she made it, the water was quickly turning back to ice. Near the ground she saw something shiny shimmering. With her strength fading, she swam deeper until she was on top of the long shiny metal. “It’s a sword.” She grabbed the sword and began her journey to the top of the river. With each movement she could feel her life slipping away. The sword was cutting away at the ice until finally she was near the top. Her body floated to the bank and her eyes closed.
“Now that you have found my gift, we must talk.” The tall man bent down and brushed his long dark cloak against Hertha’s face.
“Hertha, hear me now. Listen not with your trained eyes, but with your heart. You are needed for a great cause. The Ragnarok will soon be upon us, and only the best of feigra manna, will make it to great Valhalla. I need a guardian like yourself. I will give you the gift of life and you will vow to serve us always.”
“Anything you say, Great Thor,” whispered Hertha weakly.
Ares held his cloak together and smiled. “You have been chosen to die a great death for your people, but you will be reborn. You will no longer be just Hertha. You are now be Hertha the Great Valkyrie and this sword will be your protector, it is called ULFBERHT.”
A wave of confusion washed across Hertha’s face as she slowly placed her hand around the sword's uniquely shaped hilt. The sword was longer than her arm with oddly shaped letters running down the fuller. With shaking arms, Hertha tried to hold the sword upwards in the air, but the blade was too heavy to maintain. I think I should make her use the sword here. Maybe he should teach her how to use it.
Ares took hold of the sword, and smiled. "Be patient, we are not finished yet.” Ares grabbed Hertha by the face and looked into her eyes. Before her head hit the ground, he was off once again.
The snow started falling once again, covering both Hertha and the sword. The coldest prompted Hertha to open her eyes once again. “Thor, give me strength,” demanded Hertha. She grabbed the sword and thrust it into the cold frozen ground. “Nei, I can do this.” She pulled herself up by pressing her weight on top of the hilt. After she made it to her feet she looked around. Her eyes were now focused. She no longer had problems with seeing objects far away from her. She grabbed the sword and flung it in the air. “By the Gods, I am great.”
Erica reached down for the wooden knob sticking out from the door as Hertha was nearing the entrance. “Are you mad, gurl? I was about to send the men for you. If you don’t want to be treated like a barn, you need to act your age.”
“I’m going to fight in the next battle,” insisted Hertha as she pulled her wet clothes off and placed them in a corner.
“Not this again—we have talked about this. You are not fighting. You are not a warrior. You might get lucky and marry one. Get to know our Laird. He has sons and knows many people. He has plenty and you can gain honor.”
Hertha looked at Erica sternly. “The Lord’s sveinn s are all sackless.”
“You can be beaten for that,” grunted an older man holding a stein in his hand.
Hertha laughed and stepped into a pair of trousers.
“What are you doing, gurl?” Erica grabbed a dress and pressed it against Hertha’s chest. “Are you looking for a fight?”
Hertha pushed the dress back in Erica’s arms. “You wear it. I will not wear another dress. Why must I feel a draft drifting up my arse every mument of the day? I can’t fight with a dress. They have on trousers and thick cloaks. They have warm boots. I want warm boots too.”
Erica was about to reply when a yell came from outdoors. “We’re under attack.”
“It’s happening now,” demanded Hertha as she grabbed her sword and ran out of the house. People were dropping like flies in every direction. The first thing she noticed was the blue glow that circled around the people on the ground. The dirt was speckled with shiny beads of light floating above the bodies. Hertha placed the sword on the ground and looked around.
Erica reached down and placed her hand on Hertha’s shoulder. “Hertha grab something, we have to fight. Fight!”
Hertha screamed as a force took over her body. “I can’t move. Erica, I feel like I’m on fire. Erica, get out of the way.”
Erica reached for her sister’s arm, but ended up grabbing a dark wing.
Hertha’s eyes turned ice blue. After she looked on the battlefield she saw a flash of light send a wave rolling across the ground, touching every soul in its path.
“What’s happening? You’re hurting my eyes. You’re shining like a sword blessed by Thor,” cried Erica as she covered her eyes.
Hertha couldn’t stop the light. It only got brighter until the sounds of fighting were no more.
Erica ran beneath her and grabbed her clothes from the ground. “Put these on. You’re nearly naked.”
After Hertha fell to the ground she slowly stood up and looked at the dead on the ground once more. She raised herself in the air and let out a scream. It was enough to wake the dead. She looked down at her feet and the others around her. They were bowing and the dead were raising from the ground.
“Look they’re going to Valhalla,” yelled a younger Viking as the bodies disappeared.
Hertha tried to land, but a force prevented her feet from touching the ground.
“Hertha it’s time for you to leave, “whispered Ares. “ They have seen you raise the dead. Mortals can never witness such things.”
“I didn’t ask for this. You never said I would have to give up my family,” cried Hertha.
Ares laughed into the wind. “I am your family.”
For two days Hertha wondered around in silence, eating on figs and other small things. Finally on the third day after the sun was drifting downward into the sky, she came to a small village positioned in the back of a large valley. Two thin blonde headed children were playing near their house. A tall lady stood near the door smiling as her children played with rocks and swords.
“Duga, he’s got his systir by the neck.”
Hertha looked at the children and smiled. “Aww, come on sveinn. Your mum wants you to be kind.”
The lady smiled and motioned for Hertha.“Thank you! He fights with his sister all the time.
“We were all that way once. I’m Hertha.”
“Nice to me you, Hertha. I’m known as vǫlva.”
“Yes because I see things.”
“What did people call your before they called you witch?”
“They called me Miskunn.”
Hertha smiled once more. “I like Miskunn. I’ll call you Miskunn.”
“Do you want to hear something different?”
“I guess, I’ve got plenty of time. What do you have to tell me?’
Miskunn looked towards the woods. “I knew you were on your way to me. I saw it in a vision many nights ago. You are here because of the Gods. Only you can’t stay here long because the Gods know of you now and they are looking for you, as we speak.”
Hertha looked around nervously. “What do you mean they are looking for me? They gave me the gift. I’m doing their will. Are they happy with me?”
Miskunn shook her head. “No, you’re the end of Thor and his lot. The Gods of another world have entered into your heart. I dreamt of this when I was a little lass. I told the elders that our Gods would be defeated by a woman and Gods from the South. ” insisted the woman.
“No, you misunderstand. I’m a Valkyrie. I honor Odin. I fight for our Gods. I’m here because of the great Thor. I’ve been given a great responsibility by the Gods.”
The vǫlva looked around and smiled. “By Thor, you say? Have you ever heard of Thor coming down to any of us? Does that sound like something he would do? What did your God look like? It does not matter anyway because they can change their shape and appearance.”
“I don’t understand.”
“You understand, but you do not want to understand. The only way you will live through this is if you move to another area completely. Your father is not Norse. The other gods know.”
Hertha placed her long pale fingers in her reddish blond hair and pulled tightly. “You’re wrong. This isn’t right. You aren’t a good witch. You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Miskunn started laughing. “Your mother was not protected by our Gods. She was raped by the Southern Gods. When she was in the woods one great day, your father came to her as a slave with his master. He willed the master to disgrace your mother by allowing him to have her. You are not like us and that is why you have always been an outcast.”
Hertha shook her head once more. “You’re wrong. I’m not the daughter of a God. I’m Thor’s…”
“Thor’s what? You are Thor’s mindless lot? Thor’s mindless lackey? Maybe his sackless slave, with but one reason to live and die?”
“You, are a demigod. How many of those are around here? You’re special, and the Gods are trying to erase you before the others know about it. They want the Ragnarok because when you all die they gain your spirits and become more powerful. They will descend and live as immortals on these very plains that we call home.
“They have their own home, Valhalla is their home.”
“Valhalla is destined to fade away.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“You do not need to believe me. Just think about it.”
“What am I going to do?”
“You need to get away from here and don’t resurrect anyone else. Your resurrection sent a beam to Odin and Thor. While our Gods are merciful, they are not going to allow a demigod the chance to uproot our ways.”
“Maybe I can talk to them and help them to understand.”
Miskunn frowned. “Nei, it will not help. There is a way for you to get away from here, but it is very dangerous. We are part of three sister lands connected to one giant mass of land. The land is to the east of us. Our Gods will not pursue you when you get to this new land, but I’m afraid getting there will be most difficult.”
“I can’t go away from my family. I don’t know any new lands.”
“You sackless girl, if you do not do this, you will die. Do you want to die?”
Hertha shook her head. “Nei, but I don’t have anything.”
Miskunn walked inside her house and pulled out a large light colored satchel wrapped in fur. “I made this for you many years ago when I saw the vision for the first time. The travels will be hard on you, but Gods are with you. When you are no longer in Viking land, whisper the name Perun. He might be in a good mood, if he is, then you might be able to ride a thunderbolt to a city of no Gods.”
“Who is Perun? He is a Thunder god of another land.”
“Why would he want to help me?”
“You are a demigod. Do not under estimate the friends and foes you will now encounter because of your birth father. Head east always east until you find a large mountain range that leads to the south.”
Hertha took the satchel and opened it slowly. A dark cloak with fur lining the hood was neatly folded underneath a small black whistle. “Why do I need this?”
“Just blow it.”
As soon as Hertha held the whistle to her lips a magical sound rang out. A few seconds later a sled with six big beast arrived. Hertha looked back, Miskunn and the children were nowhere to be seen. Hesitantly Hertha walked towards the sled, placing her cloak around her upper body. The wolf like creature pushed Hertha inside the sled and took off.
In the middle of a small village positioned by the sea lived a set of twins. The twins came from a long line of magic users and soothsayers. It was said they were under the direct protection of the Slavic Gods. The village was a haven for special creatures hunted by angry gods.
“Miloslava, come look at this,” insisted Miloslav as he held his stick above the water.
“I don’t have time. We have to get back before the sun goes down.”
Miloslav looked in the water once more. “I think you need to see this.”
“If it’ll make you come on,” moaned Miloslava. Within minutes she was standing on the bank looking into a small stream with eyes looking back at her. “Get her out of there. Hand me a stick.”
Miloslav ran to a nearby tree and grabbed hold to a stick. Before he could grab it, a firm grasp yanked him backwards.”
“There’s no need for that. She’s not dying.”
“It’s a gamayun,” whispered Miloslava.
The gamayun scooted all the way to the end of the branch and looked in the water. “Why didn’t anyone tell me my hair looked so horrible?”
Both Miloslav and Miloslava stepped back and shut their eyes. When they opened them again the bird creature stood before them with flowing hair and beautiful golden feathers.
“You can close your eyes over and over and I will still be here. At least I am direct unlike Kupala who hides in the bottom of them stream.”
Kupala rose to the top and jumped out of the water. “I needed to see your reactions.”
“Our reactions,” repeated Miloslav.
“Your reactions. We need you to help guide a demigod to safety. She is of our kind, but she is the offspring of Zeus by way of Ares. We can’t allow the Greeks to take over our world. They will and must remain silenced at all cost.”
“What can we do?” Miloslava asked.
“You will lead her away from the eyes of Ares.”
“Who is Ares?”
Kupala looked at Miloslava. “Area is the God of War. He is like Thor in many ways, at least I think he is. We’ve known about their plot for years. However, we didn’t know how they planned to go about it. They were seem walking our lands some years ago.”
Miloslav tied his long blonde hair in a neatly positioned ponytail. “I’m still not understanding how we are supposed to aide you in the adventure.”
“All you have to do is say yes, and I’ll take you to meet her,” insisted the gamayun.