Broken sobs break through the night. They are irregular and seemingly muffled. Sprawled on the ground is a woman, broken and bleeding. Only the wings from her back tell of her somewhat unnatural origins. One might think that she was the victim of some horrid crime and had been left to die.
However, it is much worse than that for she has been left to live. For how long she has no idea. There are other blanks there as well. She once had a mortal name but that was stripped from her and erased when she was lifted to Olympus and given the honour of working for the Gods. The years slipped by as she helped take the souls of the fallen soldiers to Valhalla. Wolves, ravens, and her fellow Valkyries had been her only company for over a millennia.
In all that time her tasks were the same. Go to the realm of Midguard, watch over the battles, and transport the most valiant of the slain to the halls of Valhalla. Once there those souls would take part in great feasts and battles. Resurrected at the end of each day of battle these souls honed their skills, slowly becoming the backbone of what would be the army of the final battle. Sometimes she would be tasked with serving the feasts and pouring the ale. Although some may look down on those who carried out such tasks, they were welcome as they broke up the years and gave respite from the constant death that surrounds the average Valkyrie.
One day it all changed. On that day the All-Father called her to his throne room. Perched to either side of Odin were Huginn and Muninn, his two ravens that would travel and collect intelligence for him. He reminded her that from all of the Valkyrie she alone was not a daughter of his. This she knew quite well as while she had been a part of the select group, she lacked the family bond that was so evident among the others. He did this in order to remind her of her place.
He did not go into any long speeches, which revealed the seriousness of what was to be said. She listened closely but not could believe her ears. She had been tasked to do something no other Valkyrie has ever done. His ravens had reported that the Belgemir had obtained news that there would soon be born a human that could tip the balance between order and chaos. If such a person could be tipped in favour of chaos, then Loki could very well lead that chaos to victory over order. In other words, this one soul could possibly hand the final battle, Ragnarok, to one side or the other. Odin was not about to leave the final outcome to chance and wanted that soul collected. Now. Well before it was time for it to go. Rather than risk drawing attention by sending one of the others, it was decided that she could go and take this soul and destroy it.
Swiftly she rode upon a pack of wolves as far as she dare and then carefully made her way into Midguard. Alone. Odin had impressed upon her the ability to feel this soul and it was that feeling she now followed. Day became night and then became day again. She hurried on, not wanting to risk losing such an important soul to the other side. Finally one night she felt she was very close to this soul.
It was raining hard and she had pulled her oilskin close to her. Across a large field there stood a few homesteads and only one had a light burning brightly within it. Quickly and silently she made her way across the field. No mortal eye would ever be able to follow her movements. Anyone who may be around would only imagine seeing a few ravens making their away across the area. Once at the homestead she slipped in and quietly followed the feeling that was now calling out to her. Finally she stopped outside a small wooden door, knowing that what she sought lay on the other side.
She opened the door and made her way to the sleeping bundle that lay upon the bed. It was small, perhaps just a child. She withdrew her weapon and prepared to take this soul to Odin so that it may be destroyed. Before she could deal the fatal blow, the bundle rolled over in it’s sleep. It was just a baby, perhaps only a handful of months old.
She found that she could not take this soul and fled the home. Of course Odin knew of her disobedience immediately and dispatched his agents to punish her. She was quickly caught and bound by her pursuers.
They carefully explained that Odin was quite displeased with her actions and was worried that what she knew would become common knowledge. To ensure such and event would not occur they cut away her tongue. Of course she struggled and fought back the best she could. Her reward for the futile effort was more beatings and the ravaging of her wings. No one would dare rape a shieldmaiden, whether she was in the favour of Odin or not.
Her rage built up within her, slowly changing her appearance. Her name was forgotten or perhaps stripped from existence by Odin. It did not matter. She was rage and hatred. Her clothing became dark, a stark contrast to the shimmering chainmail that lay beneath it. Red streaks appeared in her hair and upon her skin. The most dramatic of these changes lay with her wings. The once large and angelic white wings were now smaller and as dark as night. They rapidly beat as she howled, and her voice carried out along on the winds. Eventually her rage gave way to grief and anger.
As she lay and sobbed she heard upon the wind a sound she had thought never to hear. She looked up and realized that she now sat in total darkness. There were no stars and no moon. In the back of her mind the great Giallar horn echoed time and time again. The final battle would be starting soon and nothing in all the realms would be the same again.
She looked up and took to the skies. The cold air from the never-ending winter beat upon her as she hurried to Vigrid, the plain that will be the site of Ragnarok.