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  • Writer's pictureLaurel Knight

Valkyrie Fallen - Chapter 3



Brenna

*

I stared at Odin’s cold blue eye, and he stared smugly back at me.


Abruptly, he switched from vengeful god to kindly father figure.


“Tsk tsk, Brenna, what are we going to do with you? You know, I scarcely recognize you—what have you done to yourself?” He gestured at me as if I were a naughty child covered in mud. “Come now, let’s see if we can’t do something about this…” Stepping off the dais, Odin reached for my face. I turned it away from him, and he snatched the cap from my head.


Pacing around me, the heavy plates of his armor clinked together. The hall was silent, everyone waiting to see what he would do.


There was no fighting it now; my power didn’t compare to his, even with my armor. Without it, I was little more than a human with extra battle skills—no match for Odin of Asgard.


So when he stroked my dyed-black hair I cringed, and my knuckles tightened on my sword, but I did nothing.


“This color really doesn’t suit you, Brenna. Let me see…” I felt both of his hands, palms and fingers rough, press along my hairline from behind, and he slowly dragged them down the length of my hair. A tingle on my scalp warned me he was using magic. I simply had no idea what he was doing. His hands pressed the bulk of my hair into a bunch and stroked slowly down as if he were squeezing water from my mane. When I no longer felt the tug, I risked shaking my head and sending a tendril over my shoulder.


With a swipe of his hands, Odin had restored my carefully colored black hair to its natural silvery blonde color. He strode around my side, pausing again to face me.


“There, that’s much better, isn’t it? Now you look like a valkyrie. An oddly dressed one, but we’ll take care of that soon enough. So-” he turned to climb the dais again and resumed his seat. “As I was saying, what are we going to do with you?”


A bubble of bravado rose in my chest. “Send me back to Midgard where you found me and leave me the hell alone?”


The room was deadly silent for one long moment, then Odin chuckled and the others on the dais laughed with him. I heard no laughter behind me, only sharp inhales of breath from the invisible valkyries in the gallery. 


“Ah Brenna, I missed your spirit. Even if it was sometimes a bit… irreverent… you were always entertaining. But no, I shall not be sending you back to where I found you. I feel as if I’ve missed out on so much of your life! You disappeared and left me worrying about you for over a millennium! That’s such a long time to miss someone.”


“Can’t say I feel the same, sorry.”


“Indeed. Well, the good news is that in your absence, my powers have grown. Time in Asgard is slower than on Midgard now, by a hundred-fold. It’s much easier for me to monitor the realms, given that I have so much more time to observe.


“I also have the power to go back and adjust the timeline on a particular realm, if I want to… and this is how we’re going to correct your little mistake.”


“I don’t understand. What do you mean ‘adjust the timeline'?’” Something about this sounded horrific in a way I didn’t yet grasp.


“I can speed up, slow down, or even reverse the timeline of a realm. Eventually we have to line back up, but this has allowed me to travel back, fix something, and then bring that realm back to heel.

“And that is exactly what I am going to do with Midgard. I’m going to rewind time—back to when I originally dropped you off—and this time I won’t make the mistake of losing you. I’ll have eyes on you at all times, and when I want you to do something for me, you will do it.”


My stomach dropped to my feet. Did I just hear that correctly?


“Did you say you’re going to rewind time?”


“Yes, you heard correctly. I’m returning you to the exact time I banished you to Midgard in the first place—although I think a different location, just for fun—so you have a chance to make the last thousand years up to me. The details of our agreement were that you got to live among the humans on Midgard in exchange for performing minor tasks when I asked them of you. You haven’t held up your end of the bargain, disappearing in the dark of the night when I was occupied elsewhere. So you owe me those years, and I intend to collect.”


Heart pounding in my chest, I considered the implication of his words. If he were really powerful enough to turn back time in a particular realm, I had no concept of how powerful he had truly become. Odin wasn’t one to make idle threats, so he meant what he said. Memories of late-800’s Norway flooded into my mind: the dark, smoky hovels, festering wounds with no medicine to treat them… so many things I’d become accustomed to in the modern world, about to be forgotten as if I’d never experienced them…


Desperately, I tried to bargain. “What if I go back to the time you found me and I agreed not to hide again? I would swear on it, on my sword.”


Odin’s eyes sparkled; he knew he had me and was enjoying watching me squirm. “Well, the problem is that I will get those years, anyway. You have no more time to offer me than you already promised—eternity is eternal, after all. So the way I see it, you’ve cheated me out of nearly a thousand years.”

“Then spin Midgard back to 1018. That’s when I gave you the slip in the first place. You could catch me in the act!” I offered, panicked.


Odin grinned evilly. “No, I think you need a completely fresh start. A new village, a new beginning, to do things right. If the thousand years is what you owed me, we’ll say the additional hundred fifty is your punishment for breaking our agreement.”


I knew it was futile, but I couldn’t help the physical response.


I turned and ran for the door. If I wasn’t on Midgard, he couldn’t rewind time and make me live it over again. The idea of being rewound, having my memory of so many things, so many people, wiped, and having to figure it out all over again, was absolutely terrifying.


It was only a few seconds before they caught me. Ghostly fingers I could feel, but not see, gripped my arms with irresistible force. I couldn’t move if I wanted to. With light currents of air as the only clue that actual beings were the power behind the movement, they turned my body and marched me back up to the dais.


I had mostly ignored the others on the dais while I spoke with Odin, but now I cast my desperate eyes in their direction. Thor met my gaze, then looked away in dismissal of my plight. Frigg stared at me sadly, knowingly, but did not offer help or sympathy. Heimdall sent one disappointed glance in my direction before redirecting his gaze to the realms beyond.


They would not help me; and the valkyries, my sisters, clearly would not be of help to me either.

The last trace of hope drained from my body, and I glared up at Odin with renewed fury. “If you had no interest in striking a deal, why did you bother bringing me to Asgard at all? You could have just played your little trick and I would never have been the wiser.”


“Well, I wanted to watch your face when you found out… to be honest, I was rather hoping for more of a reaction, but I still enjoyed it. Even so, I needed you here, on Asgard, while I spun Midgard back in time. I want you to know what I’ve taken from you.”


And that is when reality set in: He didn’t want to just rewind time and make me do it all over again with better supervision. He wanted to send me now, the me who had lived the last thousand years free of him through the ages of men all the way to the modern world, back to the barbaric time of the vikings. 


I was so stupidly, incredibly, painfully screwed.

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