The Halls of Valhalla
Another month and another prompt. This prompt will be a link, because of spoilers. So if you don't want to spoil the story, don't click the link.
“Who is that man there?” bellowed the giant as he sat.
“Keep your voice down, you damned fool!” hissed his smaller counterpart.
Refusing to lower his voice, the giant continued “Why should I, the great Asger, lower my voice? This divinely crafted instrument has sent many men quivering before my axe parted them from the world.”
The man sitting across the table from the fur and iron-clad giant shifted nervously in his tactical gear. He hadn’t been here nearly as long, but he knew there were some men that you didn’t trifle with. Each time he was in the presence of this man, his stomach knotted and he knew to give him wide berth.
“Because, you daft fool, he’ll kill you just as soon as look at you.”
“Harrold, my friend.” boomed the bearded mountain “I know you have not been here long, but you can trust that I, Asger, am not so easily slain. Besides, all who dine in the hall of Valhalla are brothers in the coming war of Ragnarok.”
Harold hated the way Asger rolled his name. It sounded like he was chewing on a piece of gristle. “Brother or not, I do not like the feeling he gives off.”
A knight wearing an ornately decorated suit of silver armor sitting nearby took up interest in their conversation. With the subtlety of a blunderbuss, he clanked and clattered his way to the table where the two men sat.
“Good day, my brothers. You must forgive my interruption, but are you referring to…”
With the flash of a gloved fist, Harold slammed down the visor on the knight’s helmet. “Don’t say his name! He’ll hear you!”
While normally oblivious to others, Asger could tell his small friend was perturbed. “Harrold, my friend. What is it that troubles you so about this man? From my observations, he arrived shortly after yourself. I’ve not seen him fight or cause any trouble for our fellow brothers. In fact…”
Finally having dislodged the visor, the knight cut in “I don’t know why he’s here!”
Turning to glare at Harold, the knight continued “And that was most uncalled for! I see that manners were apparently lost in the centuries since my fall. If we were anywhere or any-when else, I would run you through for such an insult.”
Facing back towards Asger, he continued “My name is Frederick. Though I have not been here as long as yourself, Viking, I have been here long enough to know that man doesn’t belong here. His presence is most peculiar.
Every man I’ve seen walk through the doors in escort of the Valkyries is clearly a warrior. Though they bear different origins and wield unique weaponry, they all share the same spirit. I do not sense that from our brother in question.”
“Finally! A voice of reason! I had begun to think Loki himself was sharing my table!” Asger leaned back in the ornate chair and let out a loud guffaw. His large belly shook mightily beneath the furs.
Ignoring the large man, Frederick continued “But that’s not to say that I haven’t heard tales.” Leaning in, he glanced over at the man sitting across the hall. He was scribbling something on a folded piece of paper. This drew the interest of the other two men who leaned in as well.
“Ohh?” a guttural voice whispered.
“Indeed. Though he doesn’t bear the apparent soul of a warrior, he is a fearsome beast nonetheless. I’ve heard tell that a Valkyrie meant to take him from the mortal world, but to do so, she had to corrupt his mind. He flew into a rage and slaughtered countless innocents. It took the work of numerous trained men to finally subdue him. But even then, it was only temporary. His rage was too great to be contained. Only when his frail mortal form could no longer contain the volcanic anger within, did he expire and walk through our gates.”
“Ah…” said the giant as he thoughtfully stroked his beard “I’ve known those winged mistresses to fall for earthly men, but to go so far as to bring one back with them…” He let out a low whistle. “That man must have a terrifying power to not only have drawn a Valkyrie to him but to push her to the point of forcing him to pass on.”
After several long beats of silence, it was Harold who broke it. “No. Men like him aren’t warriors. They’re loose cannons. It only takes someone to light the fuse. And it doesn’t even have to be something big. The littlest thing can set them off. Because for years, they stockpile that anger and fury. It saturates every inch of their bodies. And when they go off, it’s as if the Devil himself has created a monster that even he can’t stop.
Men like him can’t be stopped. Simply because people never knew they could start. But once they start, you can’t trust them. They’re blinded by rage. They can’t tell friend from foe. It’s like setting off a bomb. The bomb doesn’t care who it hurts. It simply wants to hurt everyone.”
“Harrold, my friend…” the giant spoke softly. “What are you trying to tell us?”
With tears staining his trembling face, the tactical agent looked up. “I know that man. They used to call him Ted. He worked in accounting. Right up until he killed me and a few hundred others.”