Valkyrja: using music

As I mentioned in my previous post, I use music to tap into my creativity. I’ve always felt an affinity with colder seasons, which is why I love doing this in the autumn and winter. (I got the awesome hat I’m wearing by my grandmother, who knitted it recently :> She’s also the one who gave me the painting.)

IMG_4404.JPG

But what music do I actually listen to? A number of instrumental tracks generally, but for Valkyrja I often opt for Trevor Morris and Wardruna because they capture a lot of the tension and themes I’m aiming for.


Posted in WiP: Valkyrja | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Valkyrja: Meta update

I got around to my finishing the backbone of my timeline, yay. Got the major scenes down, now I’m going to get into the details and fill the gaps.

IMG_4399.JPG

My process is relatively simple, open window, I like my room cold (10’C), inspirational music in the background, and mapping the shite out of the story.

Posted in WiP: Valkyrja | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Valkyrja: Aftermath

Hreidar was holding up the cracked bear skull before his face, staring at it with a calm gaze that showed no indication whatsoever of having been bereft of control. Eadlin wasn’t sure whether she should feel relief or be terrified. She had never seen a bear skull before, but she was fairly certain this particular skull wasn’t of the common variety. There was no mistaking the ominous aura it emitted. There was also the markings to consider. They reminded her of the runes covering portions of Hreidar’s body.

“I am sure you have realised by now, brother,” Hreidar was saying without taking his eyes off of the skull. “That I was never lost in the red haze. My rage is of the frosty variety.”

“What are you saying?” Gunnar rumbled in response, forcing his voice to carry over the crowing of countless ravens.

“I know that we have been apart for most of our lives but the brother I remember was smarter than that. You know full well what I am saying.”

“So what would you have me do?” Gunnar demanded. “Kill you? Is that what you want? Death?”

“What I want is no longer of any consequence. Eadlin,” Hreidar addressed her and tore his eyes away from the cranium. “Your nobles should fall in line with your neighbours thoroughly crushed. They won’t be invading your territories again anytime soon.”

She didn’t care for Hreidar’s tone one bit. The finality in his voice sounded too much like a bid farewell. A panicked thought rushed to the forefront of her consciousness, he’s leaving!

“What is eating away at your heart, brother?”

One of Eadlin’s eyebrows arched upward in surprise, hearing tender concern in Gunnar’s voice was not something she had expected.

“That is a story better suited for the warm fires of our family’s great hall, a mead-filled horn in your hand and the raging razor-winds of winter outside,” Hreidar replied. “It is high time I came home.”

She had known, she realised, for a long time that this day would come eventually. However, having it sprung on her like this made her blood boil. She deserved better.

“So that’s it?” She all but yelled. “Not even a word of warning? Not a single farewell? You are just going to take up and leave?”

“You know I cannot return home empty handed,” Gunnar joined in.

“That’s a non-issue,” Hreidar responded to his brother.

Eadlin could feel her blood churning in her veins. She would have hurled some carefully chosen abuse his way if only her jaw hadn’t been strained shut by her own muscles. His habit of ignoring her had really gone too far.

She was about to pry her jaws open and speak when Hreidar suddenly continued, “and why would I bid you farewell, Eadlin? That would imply that I’m leaving you. Brother, you were promised land, you’ll have it. Eadlin is a woman of her word, which is why she is coming with us.”

Both she and Gunnar simply stared at Hreidar for a good long moment. The anger she had felt calmed down to a mere simmer. A myriad of questions formed in her mind but it was Gunnar who broke the daze first.

“I understand, and I suppose it will have to do. However,” he said and raised a finger at his brother. “We are not going anywhere until you and I have a good, long talk. Before that though, you will have to destroy that skull.”

“As you wish,” Hreidar said and tossed the thing over to Gunnar, who immediately dropped it to the ground and crushed it under his heel. Sparks flew as the magic inherit within it dispersed.

“Now then,” Gunnar began after brushing off the palms of his hands against one another. “Queen Eadlin, would you please join my brother and I so that we may speak of the future over something to drink?”

There was a subtle shift in manner that did not slip past her unnoticed. She wondered at the sudden change and cursed the cryptic way in which the two Norsemen so often spoke. At any rate, this would be an opportunity to finally get some answers and she meant to get them. If they finally wanted to talk, well, she would indulge them. Both of them had more than an earful of carefully chosen words coming their way.

Posted in WiP: Valkyrja | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Valkyrja: When Ravens Sing

Out of all the things Eadlin had witnessed in her life, there had been nothing that could have prepared her for this. She had always known that there was magic in the world, but to think it might take such monstrous form was anathema. Magic was something of the Goddess, not this profane abomination Hreidar had turned into. Hreidar would never have tried to kill her, she had to believe that. This thing that attacked them was not him. It couldn’t be.

“Listen to me, brother!” Gunnar roared as he fended off the skull-clad creature best he could. “You have to snap out of it!”

Gunnar was pressed hard to keep up with Hreidar’s onslaught. The larger man was steadily giving his smaller brother ground. Eadlin had no other choice than taking¬†several steps back and almost stumbled over a corpse because of it.

“You have gained much honour,” she called out to her battle-crazed champion. “There is no need to fight, the battle is won!”

Hreidar suddenly took a few dancing steps to the side, breaking away from Gunnar. The latter seized the moment to secure his footing and assumed a defensive stance.

“Honour,” Hreidar laughed in a voice that was not his own. “How appropriately human, hollow currency for those dealing in death.”

Red eyes aglow with the same taint as the runes on his body stared at her through the bear skull’s empty eye sockets. A prayer resonated in Eadlin’s mind, she instinctively sought the Goddess’s protection against the cold pull in the pit of her stomach. Fear was a panicked doe caught in the hunter’s noose that was her throat.

“Tell me,” Hreidar continued. “Will honour keep you from drowning in the river of blood flowing through your lands? Will honour silence the screams when you try to sleep at night?”

“The darkness in your heart is clouding your thoughts, brother,” Gunnar growled. “This is not you.”

Hreidar simply laughed and began to pace as if probing for an opening to attack.

“Eadlin,” Gunnar said with his voice lowered. “There is only one creature that laughs that way. Pull your troops back.”

“What kind of creature? What do you mean?”

“They are not equipped for dealing with a Troll,” Gunnar hissed. “Pull them back.”

“It seems we have been found out again,” Hreidar called out to them. “What will they do I wonder? Attack? Kill? It would be the Human thing to do.”

Again rumbling laugher like stone grinding against stone reverberated around them. Eadlin shuddered.

“No,” Gunnar proclaimed. “I will not kill the only brother I have left. But make no mistake, if you pursue as we retreat I will crush you.”

“Spoil sport,” Hrediar grumbled when suddenly a tremor coursed through the man.

He dropped his sword and grabbed the bear skull with both hands and thrashed about as if trying to pull it off. Stunned, Eadlin watched in bewilderment. Hreidar growled, roared, and howled. The glow of the runes intensified and she heard a loud crack as Hreidar tore the bear skull off.

The glow of the runes dissipated, and slowly his eyes returned to their normal mossy green. Silence fell between them, and the song of two hundred ravens rose to a crescendo as they descend to feast upon the dead and the dying. The Valkyries would soon come.

IMG_4397.JPG

Posted in WiP: Valkyrja | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Valkyrja: Everything comes at a price

Eadlin had a difficult time processing what she was seeing. She found no answers in what little Hreidar had shared with her about his people. And since her own resources had failed her she had turned to the Norseman’s brother, Gunnar, who for the time being acted as her bodyguard but also as commander of her forces. Well, technically they were his forces but they had come to a mutual understanding that would benefit both parties.

“It frightens me, Gunnar,” she admitted as the two of them stood atop a hill surveying the battlefield below. If it could at all be called a battlefield. “I find it difficult to trust my eyes. Just what is that?” she continued and pointed.

Gunnar’s expression darkened. “That, friend Eadlin, is my brother and when I find whoever gave him that bear skull I am going to kill them.”

“That’s Hreidar?” she exclaimed.

“No, not right now. The red haze has him and until it is lifted that beast isn’t even human. See how even my own warriors give him a wide berth? They know all too well that Hreidar cannot tell the difference between friend and foe while the beast has him.”

“The beast?”

A pained expression flashed beneath the anger permeating Gunnar’s visage. “Old magic courses through the veins of my people, the runes are in the blood. It is one of our greatest sources of strength.”

Gunnar shouted and order at one of his men in his own tongue, and judging by the tone he wasn’t all too happy with how things proceeded.

“Everything has a price, friend Eadlin. The runes covering my brother’s body are red, you can even make out their glow from here. They are not supposed to be. There is a darkness living inside my brother’s heart. Eventually, it will devour him.”

“You mean to say that there is something tainting his soul?” she asked but couldn’t quite keep her voice from trembling.

Gunnar gave her a puzzled look. “I cannot say that I know what a soul is,” the large man admitted. “But,” he began but was interrupted by a loud cracking thud.

Eadlin flinched, and as she recovered she saw what had made the sound. An arrow protruded from Gunnar’s shield. If it had been allowed to fly its course it would have been protruding from her eye socket instead. She attempted to swallow the lump blocking her throat but with little success.

“But you southerners are a strange lot,” the bear-like man resumed and cut of the shaft sticking out of his shield with his sword. “It seems the tide of battle is about to reach its final, crushing wave. Come, let us see if we can bring back the human in my brother.”

Posted in WiP: Valkyrja | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Woman I Love

About:¬†A little something I’d like to dedicate to the woman in my life.

There had been so many thoughts tormenting him for such a long time that he no longer could tell what the pain felt like. It had become familiar, in the same sense breathing was familiar and only felt when he became aware of the fact that he was breathing. Everyone carried something with them, everyone had their own muted aches. Right now his chest was heaving and minuscule beads of sweat decorated his body like ornamental pearls that infused his body with a wet glisten in the calm lamps illuminating their home in the evening darkness. It came over him unexpectedly, a surge of emotion welling up from within him, making his face hurt from a smile he had no control over. His eyes watered and his heart reverberated in his ribcage, rattling the bones in his chest.

At the root of everything was her. He had never really believed in the power love held over people, he had always thought them false pretenders and vain hypocrites. Yet there he stood wearing only a pair of boxers madly in love with a woman he could only describe as the epitome of beauty and intelligence, and the incarnation of everything he had thought impossible. No matter how he searched he could never find words that adequately described her. Whenever he tried he couldn’t shake the feeling that he himself was false. That he wasn’t enough. It was a source of great frustration, frustration that in turn fuelled his need to move. He couldn’t be still, so he exercised. Thus the sweat.

Just as he was in the process of regaining his breath she entered the living room. Her eyes locked onto the towel under him, slowly travelling upwards. It fascinated him, how she always seemed to tremble when she saw him naked or near enough. Seeing her reaction, seeing her smiling eyes banished any and all doubts he might carry when he was alone. The familiar shudder triggered something in him, a need of sorts. If she had asked him to kill someone in that very moment, he would have.

She half ran half stumbled over to him. Steadying the beautiful creature tumbling into his arms with all the strength he possessed, they embraced. The strength he employed was not solely the strength of his arms, but also the strength of his heart. That he was sweaty and reeking did not seem to bother her. Oddly enough, the contrary seemed to be true. Another thing he could never quite understand. He was not going to complain though, the touch of her hands was one of the most intoxicating sensations he knew of.

“Hello my sweet,” he cooed as he panted. “I’m all sweaty and gross, let me clean up first.”

“Nyoo,” she responded playfully. “No escape!”

“No escape,” he laughed. “Have I told you?” he suddenly asked.

“What?”

“That I love you,” he finished.

“Yes,” she replied beaming up him. “I feel like the most loved person on the planet thanks to you.”

It made him wonder what he had ever done to deserve such praise. In his mind he was just a simple man. On the other hand, he wasn’t stupid enough to question something that clearly made her happy. That’s all he really wanted, seeing her happy. If it was his fate to forever suffer from smile-pained cheeks he would consider himself a very fortunate man.

“I will say it again anyway,” he said and blew air against her skin making fart noises. She laughed and tried to break free until he stopped.

“I love you.”

Posted in Short Stories | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Valkyrja: Freedom and Retribution

It had never really sunk in, the reality of Sir Alden’s betrayal. Eadlin was royalty, after all, descended from the Goddess herself. To find herself standing on the edge of that very precipice right now was much more than disheartening, it was soul-crushing. She had been putting off dealing with him until now because she struggled with the tempest of emotion that threatened to overwhelm her whenever she thought back on how close she had been to taking the man as her lover. His fate was sealed, high treason, there could be no compromise. The law laid down by the Goddess was clear. Death awaited Sir Alden.

It wasn’t that the traitor was going to die that had her heart throwing an unexpected and therefore also quite infuriating temper tantrum, but rather the fact that she would be denied the satisfaction of killing the man herself. The Norseman had been of little help, when she had asked for his advice he had simply handed her his sword and said, why wait? If he is to die, what does it matter who cuts off his head? You are the one he wronged, you should be the one to uphold the law. She hadn’t even known where to start explaining to him the intricate nature of court politics, so she hadn’t sought his counsel any further on that particular topic. Which was why she wondered at his bringing it up now, it wasn’t like him to dwell.

“It is not my brother Torald’s betrayal that gave me this particular scar,” he said as if he had read her thoughts.

Brought out of her reverie she averted her gaze, not because she didn’t want to meet his eyes, mind, but because she thought she seemed more regal that way. More in control and wise.

“I was once a lot like you, Eadlin.” That he wouldn’t call her by her title irritated her to no end but the Norseman seemed unaware of this since he continued unaffected by her displeased disposition. “When I was still human.”

Her face turned so fast that even the Norseman reacted. He studied her for a moment before he went on, “People I saw as family tried to kill me. I had become too dangerous, too unpredictable, but worst of all I had become independent.”

When she didn’t respond the Norseman grabbed ahold of her hand. Another thing he wasn’t supposed to do, thankfully no one was there to see it.

“Your will is strong but if you don’t have the swords to enforce it the people you call Nobles will descend on you and your lands like a flock of ravens onto a battlefield littered with corpses. You should be the one to execute the traitor, of what use is tradition and law to you if you’re dead?”

“My rule, as you so astutely pointed out, is not unquestioned. I’m in a precarious situation. I have no military to speak of, whereas the nobles do. I am forced to adhere to the laws, because if I do not then what is keeping them from not also doing the same?”

The Norseman shook his head and let go of her hand. “You have me, and I have my brother. Gunnar will honour his word. He will fight for you if you give him some of your land.”

“And you?” she asked slowly. “What am I to give you for fighting for me?”

“Nothing you haven’t already given. You helped me gain my freedom. Now it is my turn to do the same for you.”

Posted in WiP: Valkyrja | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments