Gil awoke the next morning, tangled in a mass of sheets, arms and legs. They’d stayed awake until dawn, celebrating his rise through the ranks of the Valkyrie with plenty of ale and bouts of naked wrestling. They were testing his stamina, or so they’d giggled as once again Mist had climbed into his lap while Sif answered the door. It hadn’t been long before another set of hands were sliding up his thighs and Gil hadn’t been able to resist Alara’s charms….
Tingling beneath them all, he fought to extract himself from the mass of blankets and limbs, dressed quietly in the garbs set out for him, and made his way to the courtyard down below. He had vowed to meet Tomoe every morning, a little practice before the impending battle swept him away. It helped to clear his mind and set him on the right path; one that wound through the chaos of preparing for battle. It was the little things that would keep him in check and focused, the little things, that he appreciated, oh so much.
As always, she sat in the lotus position, her legs crossed and her arms resting upon her knees in the middle of the courtyard. Her eyes were closed, her head hung low and her shoulder-length, dark hair, hung down to mask her face. Her mind seemed elsewhere as he approached, his hand on his sword at his side, lost deep in thought, or so he assumed.
‘Good morning, brother. Tell me, how does it feel to be a Valkyrie?’ She inquired, her mind reaching out to his own amidst her silence.
‘Decidedly odd.’ He chuckled. ‘After walking as many battlefields as I have, even before meeting Mist, there was talk of the Valkyries. I have to admit, I had often wondered what it would be like to be one; but to actually become one.? It’s completely beyond my wildest dreams.’ He paused for a moment. ‘Never, not in a million years would I even think that mother was a…’ He stopped again. ‘Completely stunned doesn’t begin to cover it.’ Gil added, shaking his head.
Tomoe nodded and her eyes opened. She looked at him with a smile on her face and a glint in her eye. “Joining the ranks is a massive feat. One which I must say, was rather adventurous in my case.” She spoke out loud and let a sly grin creep across her face. “You were born to this life; it was only a matter of time before your gifts manifested themselves. I, however, was somehow converted to the faith.”
Gil laughed, appreciating the way she formed her words in ways he could easily understand. Some of the talk around Rihmsjalier was so shaded in the old tongue, it was hard to make out the meaning of what was being said; but Tomoe had a way with words.
“How long did it take them to convince you to join them”
“Sif tried for months, but one day as I sat with my morning meal before me, she and Freya ambushed me. I was surrounded by Einherjar. All of them grinning like fools as I was carried off.”
“You didn’t want to be a Valkyrie?” Gil was confused.
“I was the first one to ever say nay, and in the history of a ceremony that is centuries old, I would say that shocked a few people. Becoming a Valkyrie is a great honor, but I already had honor and skill…”
“So, what happened?” He inquired, looing before her as she sat beneath the tree.
“Senna talked me into it, two days later. She was convinced that I could contribute more as a Valkyrie, and after my village was raided, I agreed with her. I thought I could protect them. I was wrong. Now, I can protect those I care for. I can train them to fight as I do, so that one day, the darkness will have no choice but to surrender.”
“I bet it felt as exciting, and mind boggling for you, as it did for me. My head is still spinning.”
“Or perhaps it was the cask of shimmer wine, the three pitchers of ale and the trio of naked ness that followed you to your room?”
“You have to back in the moment, once or twice” Gil laughed.
“Yes, you do. Mine moment happened over seven centuries ago and I still remember it like it was yesterday. The food, the laughter, the pleasure. It was all so worth it, just as she’d said; but nothing compared to the abilities to protect mine own.”
“Sounds like a life-long task, and I hear Valkyries could in fact, live forever?”
“And now that you are one of us, you can help me. Who knows, you might even get to sleep in every once and awhile.”
“I think not, Tomoe sensei. I’ve always been an early riser, and besides, I have a war to win.” He grinned at her and bowed his head.
“You mean, you would not stay in bed, not even for Mist and Sif?”
Gil groaned and planted his face in the palm of his hand, shaking his head. “Does everyone know?”
“There is no such thing as a secret amongst the Valkyrie…” She paused a moment. “Knowledge is supposed to be shared; the key is knowing who to share it with.”
“Including the intimate bits?”
“You are as good for them as they are for you. Look at you. You were once a timid child, afraid of sleeping in the dark; but here you stand, a Valkyrie.” She smiled at him. “You accomplished so quickly, what took me over a century. You are learning from our knowledge, and in turn, passing that knowledge on to young Robin. A true Valkyrie not only embraces the learning, but also teaches others to do the same.” She sighed. “Do you know I found him sitting beside me yesterday morning? When I asked him why, he said he wanted to be like you. That statement you made to him gave him a purpose beyond himself. You set the example; I expect Robin will find his way into a Ranger uniform sooner than his mother wishes.” She added, with a half-assed grin upon her face.
“I never knew that people could become Valkyries, let alone a man.” Gil mumbled, still in a bit of disbelief himself.
“No one did, and I tried to discourage him for that very reason. He wanted so badly to join us, and his mother did not approve of him wanting to be a warrior.”
“If he truly wants it in his heart, who are we to deny him? Robin will find his own way.”
“As did you.” She smiled at him.
“Yeah, but in my journey, there were things I’d rather have avoided. All of the pain, the blood… the abject misery.” Gil rolled his eyes, as if unwelcomed memories lingered in his thoughts.
“That is life, yet you did not give up, and in the end, you achieved things beyond your wildest dreams. It is not the journey that is important, it is the reward at the end; and it is not over yet. Just think, you have inspired people, Gil. Robin, his mother, the Elves. Do you know that little Robin has joined a group of that meets in the library, everyday? The lessons are led by Robin, and they are learning to read and write?”
“Yes! There are nobles who cannot write and children who have yet to read a book. Now, they want to learn and, you, set that in motion. They want to be like you, Gil, and more importantly they want to be, you. Standing where you did, fighting for their future. Remember that, when things get rough.” Tomoe was smiling as she held her sword at her side.
Gil smiled back, sheepishly, as Robin and a good, forty other children, both girls and boys, streamed out of the main fortress and across the courtyard. All of them between the ages of eight and thirteen, they stopped dead in their tracks when they saw him dressed in his Valkyrie regalia, wings and all. They too, wished to have wings as elegant and mesmerizing as the ones he was showing off, and soon, he hoped, they would. It was then, little Robin rushed over to Gil and his arms wrapped around the male’s waist in a giant hug.
“See? I told you, now that they know a boy can become a Valkyrie…” He paused, giggling away. “Ord does not know what he’s talking about.”
“Who’s Ord, Robin?” Gil was curious, scanning the group for any signs of the hooligan.
“Him.” Robin pointed to a taller, dark haired boy. “He said I was a liar.” He shook his head as Ord looked daggers at Robin for tattling on him.
Gil slowly made his way toward the boy in question, looked down at him and let his eyes change to a bright, sky blue. The boy was so quiet, you could have heard a pin drop as the newest of Valkyries walked around him, eyeing him up and down.
“He said you were not real.” Robin replied.
“Did he now?” Gil grinned. “Well, here I am, Ord, what do you have to say to Robin now?”
When the children realized what was happening, they scattered. Ord found himself alone, face to face with a Valkyrie who’d asked him a direct question. His mouth was working but nothing was coming out.
“How about, I’m sorry, Robin?” Tomoe suggested.
“I am sorry, Robin.” Ord said finally, clearly awed by Gil’s presence.
“Now, Robin? Do you remember what I told you to remember, last night?” Gil chuckled, resting a hand on the young boy’s shoulder.
“Be careful of what you say and do in life, you never know who is watching.” Robin replied with a grin.
“Exactly, if you want something bad enough, and you listen to your heart and those around you, you will get there.” Gil bowed to Tomoe, then with all the children looking at him he turned a precise about face and made for the Fortress.
He’d made it half way to the stone steps when he looked up and found Mist, Sif, Alara, Alura, Brunhilde, and two dozen Valkyries waiting at the top. They stood with smiles on their faces and were applauding his encouraging speech.
“Gil, you were magnificent.” Mist and Sif let out at the same time, kissing him softly on the cheek.
Giggles let out below as the children bowed their heads and Gil drew his sword, saluting in true Valkyrie fashion, his entire body emanating a violet sheen. They stood transfixed for a moment until Tomoe clapped her hands twice, reeling them all back to reality; even Gil.
“Troublemaker.” Brunhilde whispered in his ear as she hugged him.
“They will remember this day for the rest of their lives. You have given them a dream to aspire to, Gil.” Sif watched on as the young below started their morning exercises with Tomoe.
“Let’s just make sure they have that future. It’s time to search the halls and find whatever it is that Loki was looking for.” He turned his attention to the Elven beauties who had just come up beside them.
“Alara, Alura would you care to join the search?” He looked at the Queen of the Elves and her daughter.
“Of course, we will have the Rangers scour the lower levels of the fortress.” The Queen replied and bowed her head before signaling to her personal guards to make it so.
“And you two, care to share what you’ve learned from our, guest?” He let out, waiting as patiently as he could as another pair drew closer.
Vanessa and Morgan looked at each other, then turned to Mist with frowns on their faces. “He claims to, love her.” Vanessa blurted out.
“He claims, he only did as she bid, in hopes he could please her.” Morgan added, rolling her eyes. “She wanted something, something he could not find within the time allotted.”
“He seems pretty harmless.” Vanessa grinned. “A male on a quest to win the heart of the female he loves. It is the most romantic thing I have ever heard.”
“He is the enemy.” Mist reminded her.
“I know that, but it is still romantic, even if said female is completely insane and prone to bouts of chaos.” Vanessa sighed, a glow of lust emanating from her eyes.
“We should still search the halls. Who knows if the bastard was telling the truth or…”
“I can assure you, he was telling the truth.” Vanessa grinned. “There are other ways of finding out the secrets hidden deep.”
“You did not…” Sif’s face lit up in surprise.
“She did!” Morgan rolled her eyes once more. “Twice, just to be sure.”
“And?” Mist inquired.
“He did not lie.” Vanessa smiled.
“Now, wait just a minute. What, didn’t she do, that she did, that you can’t believe she did?” Gil muttered, scratching at his head.
“She lay with him, of course.” Brunhilde laughed, “As any Petal would.”
“She lay with him? Like, beside him?” Gil’s mind was racing, but he didn’t want to just assume things.
“Beside him, beneath him and on top of him.” Morgan sighed and made her way across the small balcony.
“So, she slept with him, without any actual sleeping, going on?”
“She fucked him, my love.” Mist laughed, taking hold of his arm. “She used her feminine wiles against him.”
Gil couldn’t believe what he’d just heard. Well, he could, but he hadn’t wanted to. He knew the Petals were an ancient guild of secret gatherers, but he’d never imagined sex being their main weapon of choice.
“Uh, well…” He stammered. “…and you’re sure… he uh… was, satisfied enough… to give you, um, uh…. I mean, do you really think, he was truthful?”
“No Petal has ever been left wanting.” Vanessa grinned as she too, made off after Morgan. “We will check the armory.” She laughed, picking up a glass of wine from a nearby tray.
“Okay, well, just remember not to touch anything.” He called after her, but she was far too quick and was out the door before he could say anything further.
“I will go with them!” Brunhilde chuckled.
“Thank you. Those weapons may be empty, but there could be explosive devices, and any of them could blow up in your face at any given moment. If you don’t recognize a thing, call for me, please.” He sighed, shaking his head. “And don’t move anything, there may be a booby trap. I don’t want anyone to get hurt, or worse, killed. I may be new, but I’m in no hurry to select an Einherjar just yet.”
“What, is a booby trap, Gil?” Alura inquired with a raised brow.
“It’s like a trap, only, they’re set to explode rather than just catch you. Just, don’t touch anything okay.” Gil explained as he led them through the doors, his anxiety rising over the impending what ifs in his mind.