Göll is a Valkyrie, a chooser of the slain. She takes those who die in battle first to Hel for judgement, then on to their final destination, whether it’s Valhöl or elsewhere. When her latest slain is an eight year old boy she finds herself facing a new challenge, one she had never before faced in all her centuries of serving the Lord of Battles.
A story of modern Valkyrie.
The black horse descended from the sky to land softly on the immaculate front lawn. Göll slid off the horse’s back to stand on the grass. She adjusted the sword at her side, a frown carving ugly lines into the perfection of her face.
Most of her missions brought her joy. But missions like this? These she hated down to her core.
Three steps took her up to the front porch of the sprawling ranch house. The door, though locked, swung open at her touch.
Overturned furniture, scattered books, and shattered glass greeted her; a 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 inside. She said nothing, merely looked at Göll, her expression haughty.
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 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 held no interest for her. Her duty lay elsewhere.
The man’s voice was coming from her right. Göll turned left. A short hallway led her to a bedroom. As in the front of the house, overturned furniture and other wreckage filled this room. 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, carefully, 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 to be soothing and calm. 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, warriors who would wake still in a battle-frenzy, her power 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, which remained twisted in death. Göll saw understanding pass across his face.
“Are you…are you an angel?”
The question brought a smile to Göll’s face. “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. Only the Norns chose who lived and who died. Göll 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 a 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.