Valkyrie Chapter 7
Updated: Apr 23, 2019
Everything was ready. Eadra couldn’t help but let herself be overcome by pride as she checked Frey’s pack. Her little girl had done so well for one so young. The trip ahead would be long and the Sokoran wilds were unforgiving to the ill prepared. Ideally they could reach the trade town of Bherst in a few days.
Wolf packs, goblin hunting parties and territorial orc tribes were just some of the dangers. Hungering Ones were another. Many believe that they are the trapped spirits. That only those who died horrifically in the Sokoran snows came back as one. Thankfully, they never came close to the towns and villages, but they were why so many villages burned their dead.
Eadra stood and opened the trapdoor leading to lower floor. She made her way down the ladder and pulled the shelving blocking the tunnel aside. She stepped through the tunnel and into the greenhouse.
Eadra gazed at the tea plants. “So many years spent growing you.” She looked toward a simple lockbox resting on the shelving by the wall, walking up to it and opening it. She took the pouch inside it out. “We can’t eat shards, but that doesn’t make them any less useful.”
She turned toward the crate bound in chains. So sad. That’s what her old self would have said. Can you even wield them? Do you even remember how?
“Shut up!” she told herself. “That’s not me anymore.” She could almost hear her old self laughing.
Instinct screamed that going into the wilds defenseless was madness. No sane person would be so reckless. As she became lost in thought, Eadra blinked, not realizing how close she had stepped toward the crate.
She touched the lid, then the chains tightly binding it, and finally the lock. Breaking it would be easy. Easy for her at least. She felt her stomach turn. No, there’s a better way.
Eadra turned around. Frey was standing in the doorway, her shortbow in hand. She smiled. “Yes little one?”
“There’s a man here to see you,” she replied. “He has other people with him.”
Eadra could feel her heart in her throat. “Little sprite, I want you to stay here and lock the door. Can you do that for me?”
She nodded, though Eadra saw fear in Frey’s soft eyes. She took a breath, shoving her fear aside and stepping close to her daughter, knelt in front of her. “Dear One, it will be okay.”
“Your eyes say differently,” Frey replied. “I remembered what you said about people’s eyes. They say a lot about them.”
“What did the eyes of the man and his friends say?”
Frey hugged her tight. “That they are bad people.”
“Oh, my clever sprite,” Eadra replied. “You know bad people in the stories always lose, right?” She felt her daughter nod her head against her shoulder. “Then, since we aren’t bad people, we will be okay.”
“Promise?” Frey asked, her voice slightly muffled.
“Yes, little sprite, I promise.” She had never lied to Frey before and even now her old nature was creeping in. Plans and tactics on how to defeat Bodvar were coming to mind. His rules were clear and she knew them better than anyone. She turned back toward the crate, the irony of her oath resonating in her mind.
“Frey, hide and keep your eyes and ears covered. No matter what do not leave the greenhouse.”
Frey looked up at her. She was shaking. Eadra thought her heart might break, the look in her daughter’s eyes said everything. Frey was afraid of her. Bodvar, for that I will make you suffer.
Frey ran to the corner of the greenhouse and grabbing one of the blankets from the stack, covering herself with it. Eadra headed back through the tunnel and grabbed the axe laying by the woodpile in the lower chamber.
She then headed back to the greenhouse and stepped toward the crate. Her hands shook as she lifted the axe. Eadra found herself imagining how her old self would be laughing hysterically. Such a fraud, this illusionary life you lived with your little doll. That was what she would have said.
She swung the axe, bringing it bear against the lock. The vibrations resonated through the handle, forcing her to let go of the axe and she bit her lip to keep from screaming. The lock sat unbroken.
Through the pain, she gripped the axe tighter, carefully placing the edge of the axe head, over the arm of the lock. Eadra swung again and again, tears streaming down her cheeks from the pain. Eventually the lock gave, though her hands and arms were numb.
Fumbling with the lock and chains Eadra managed to pull them free and opened the crate. She looked at her twin blades and chain armor. Grimmear, was a scramasax, but was closer to a short blade than a dagger. Walen was an Ulfur; Eadra remember the day she had first held the sword. Its balance was more than perfect. Both blades had their names carved into them and inlaid with steel.
Grabbing them by thier scabbards she strapped them on. As she stepped toward the tunnel, Eadra happened to catch Frey peeking from underneath the fur blanket. Her chest tightened. I’m sorry, little one. I hoped you’d never have to see this.
She reached the ladder in the lower chamber and climbed up, closing the trap door. Eadra looked toward the front door. The thought of seeing Bodvar made the sickening feeling in her stomach even worse. “I just need to beat you, then all of this can end.”
When the door opened, Bodvar was surprised that his heart beat a little faster. Eadra was still just a beautiful as he remembered. Her hair was still the same platinum color with hints of red highlights. She wasn’t fat either, which was a bit disappointing. It would make killing her all the more unpleasant.
Overall she looked well, but in her eyes, the fire he had grown so fond of was gone. She seemed tired. Worse, she seemed weak.
What a waste. What has happened to you?
Bodvar turned to the village Elder. His name was Sasa, not that it was terribly important. Most of the man’s hair was gone and even with the layers of furs he wore, it wasn’t hard to tell the man was as thin as a shrub. His beard was full and white as the snow.
With Sasa stood some of the villagers he’s managed to round up. There were eight in all, none of them seemed happy to be here. Bodvar sighed. Country rabble. It would be a few hours yet before Arald returned with the other of the Blades traveling with them.
“Elin,” Sasa said eyeing her weapons. “We don’t want any trouble, but this man has some serious accusations against you.”
“What kind of accusations, Sasa?”
“Desertion from Viktor, to start with,” he replied. “We have worked so hard to keep his eyes off us, Elin. This man, says he works for Viktor and promises to leave in peace if you go with him.”
“What happens after, Sasa?” she asked. “Do you think he won’t tell Viktor about what we have built?”
“He promises not to, in exchange for you.”
“Come now Eadra, lets end this game!” Bodvar chimed in. “We both know you could care less about these people. You’ve never cared for anything in your life.”
Bodvar glanced at Eijar, then to Ylva. Eijar was hard to read, his eyes focused on Eadra. Ylva was the same, but her hands were on her swords. The villagers wore mixed expressions, but each was afraid. They should be, Viktor would be furious about their little enterprise.
“Do you think you know me Bodvar?” Eadra asked.
Bodvar laughed. “Know you? Come now, Eadra; we both that answer.” It was only for a moment, and even then it was more like a flicker. The fire returned. It shone in her eyes clearly. “Perhaps the little waif of yours might prove just as useful as her mother to the Blades. With training she could make an excellent addition.”
Her eyes went cold. Whatever weakness had been there was gone. Bodvar smiled. There she is, that’s the killer I know.
“Sir, we never agreed that you would take the child,” Elder Sasa said. “We are her family too.”
Bodvar turned his head and narrowed his eyes at the man. “I think you misunderstand, old man. I set the terms and you follow them. You are in no position to barter with me.”
The old man tightened his jaw, then nodded.
“Good, now, Eadra, will you come quietly? Or do we do this the old fashioned way?”
She stepped forward and drew her swords. Bodvar smiled. “Eijar, go find the welp. That is unless you want Ylva to?” He turned to Ylva. There was a good chance she would kill the kid if it meant getting a fight out of it.
“You are not getting past me. My daughter isn’t going anywhere.”
“Daughter?” Unbelievable. “Eadra, you can’t be serious. You have a child?” When Eijar had said there was a little girl, it was hard enough to believe, but to hear Eadra say it, was beyond hysterical.
“Enough, Bodvar!” Ylva snapped. “This nonsense has gone on long enough.”
Bodvar pulled his skeggox from the hook where it hung on his hip. “Mind your tone, Ylva.” He placed its edge against her throat.
“Sir, please there is no need for violence,” Sasa chimed in.
Bodvar sighed, turned and threw his skeggox. The axe sailed toward the old man burying itself in his forhead.
“Sasa!!” The scream came from behind Eadra, just as the other villagers drew their knives, a couple of them brandishing simple woodcutter’s axes. Eadra dropped her weapons and turned to stop the little girl running through the doorway behind her. “Sasa!” she cried. “You killed him!”
Bodvar felt his stomach turn. It was sickening to watch Eadra coddle such a pathetic thing.
“Enough!” he said, pulling his shield around from his back. “Let me make this simple. In a few hours the rest of my warriors will be coming to this town, Eadra. Now, you know what will happen if I don’t get what I want.”
“Ylva here is also Blooded, anyone with eyes can see that. These men here, she can kill them fairly quickly.” He smiled, eyeing each of the bumpkins. They aren’t warriors. It would be like slaughtering chickens. “Now, what is your answer?”
Eadra cradled Frey in her arms. Why did you have to disobey? Frey was shaking, tears in her eyes. Eadra couldn’t think. Her fear for Frey’s safety was making it hard to concentrate. Bodvar was ever the monster she remembered. No matter what, he would do whatever it took to get what he wanted.
“Come one Eadra?” he said. “What will it be? Their lives for yours, or maybe we should just kill your daughter while you watch?”
His wide smile was more fiendish than she remembered. “You would kill your own daughter?” she asked.
The way his smile faded along with the disbelief on his face was priceless. “My what?”
“You heard me, we knew each other well, didn’t we Bodvar?”
“What of the herbs you took to prevent that?” he replied.
“No remedy is perfect, Bodvar, you of all people should know that.
“You’re lying, you’d say anything to protect her.”
Eadra smiled. “Look at her eyes and tell me that, they are the same yours.” Silently, she felt hope springing up inside her. She looked at Frey, surprise written on her daughter’s face. I’m sorry, little sprite, but I have to protect you somehow. Even if it is another lie.
“Bodvar, I can’t do this,” Eijar chimed in. “I can’t be part of you killing your own.”
“For once, I agree with the Absionian,” Ylva added. “Killing your own family is unforgiveable.”
The rage on Bodvar’s face was gratifying. Eadra held Frey tighter. “My life for our daughter’s Bodvar, that’s the deal. These two will bear witness.”
He tightened his jaw. “Agreed,” he replied, then turned to one of the villagers. The man’s name was Sivuld if she remembered correctly. “You, does this village have a place to keep prisoners?”
“It does,” Sivuld replied.
“Good, then we will keep them there,” Bodvar replied. “And just so I am clear. If anyone thinks of coming at us for the old man’s death, this town will burn. No of you will live to see the next day.”
Sivuld nodded. Then turned to Eadra. She could see it on his face. He partly blamed her for this. In truth, she was in part responsible for it.
Eadra looked down. “Yes, little sprite?”
“Is that bad man really my father?” she asked.
Eadra felt like a knife were slashing open her heart. One day I hope you will understand. She smiled as warmly as she knew how. “Yes, Dear One, he is.”