This opening just came bursting out yesterday. The question is whether I have a story or a rhutabega.
I’m thinking probably a short, maybe as long as a novelette or novella.
The sleek black horse descended to land softly on the immaculately mowed front lawn. Göll slid off the horse’s back to alight on the grass. A frown carved ugly lines in the perfection of her face as she adjusted the sword at her side.
Some missions brought her joy. But the ones like this, she hated down to her very core.
Three steps took her up onto the porch at the front of the sprawling ranch house. The door, though locked, swung open at her touch.
Overturned furniture, scattered books, and shattered glass greeted her sight, sharp contrast to the pristine exterior of this house. Göll’s frown deepened at the scent that assaulted her nose. Blood and urine, both fresh.
Before Göll could step through the door, a young woman emerged from the shadows. She said nothing but merely met Göll’s eyes.
With a sigh, Göll stepped aside. No sense berating that one for what had happened here. Even the lesser Norns, those who followed each person, dictating their fate, were far beyond her power to influence, far beyond even the Allfather’s.
The Norn emerged from the house, and in an instant was gone. Göll entered. She heard movement in the back of the house, then running water. A low, masculine voice was swearing. While Göll could speak all languages, the man’s words were of no interest to her. Her duty lay elsewhere.
The voice was coming from the right. Göll turned left. A short hallway led her to a bedroom. Overturned furniture and other wreckage filled this room, too. Göll carefully stepped over the debris, leaving it undisturbed until she came to the small body. A young boy, his head turned at an unnatural angle. Not even eight years old. Yet in his right hand he held a small craft knife, blade stained with blood.
A weapon in hand. A death in combat. That made the lad Göll’s business.
Slowly, Göll dropped to one knee. She bent and touched the boy’s still-warm cheek. His eyes opened, his head twisted as his neck straightened and bones popped back into place.
The boy scooted away from Göll, his eyes wide in terror. Göll remained still, schooling her face into a soothing smile. Even adults in this day, in this land, often greeted her appearance with fear.
“How are you called, boy?” Göll reached out with her power. Meant to calm those killed on the battlefield who wake still in a battle frenzy, it also served to soothe wild-eyed fear.
“Kamil,” the boy said. “My name is Kamil.”
“There is no need for fear. I am not here to harm you. You are beyond harm.”
Kamil looked at the floor that lay between the two of them. His eyes widened as he spotted the shell, his former shell, that remained twisted in death. Göll saw understanding pass across his face.
“Are you…are you an angel?”
Göll made her smile widen. “Not as you think of it. I am merely a…well, a Chooser of the Slain.”
She shook her head. The truth was, despite what the tales might say, she did not choose who died. Not even the Allfather chose. The Norns chose. She merely carried the fallen to their fate.
Kamil shuddered. After a moment, he stood and bowed his head. “I am ready, then, Chooser.”
A chuckle escaped Göll’s lips. She stood and held out her right hand. “Not so formal, young one. But come. We have far to go.”
The boy took her outstretched hand and she led him back through the house.