There was a corner of darkness in the Inn where all gladness and joy seemed absent. A booth where light recoiled and refused to play. In that stygian sector of the Red Sun- hobs had delivered flesh and mead and then quickly scurried away.
It was not just the stench- though the Gods know, unwashed body, two day old residual gore, dental impropriety and the stink of disappointment in the form of copious amounts of mead made for a heady cocktail.
It was not just the grunts and growls from the now soused shield maiden- despite the pool the hobgoblins had on how long it would take for her to pass out. That time had come and gone long ago.
It was the over-riding miasma of lack of hope or purpose in this world. The shieldmaiden’s geas was complete. Tolerith was gone. And what was left was a homicidal psychopath, devoid of love, or softness or spirit.
And very, very drunk- not the most optimistic of presentations- if anything- incredibly dangerous.
A simple manifestation.
No grand entrance, no marching, rolling of the drums or thundering of the boots, but silence. A place such as this deserves no disturbance from her anymore. Where it began for her, where it REALLY began.
Where realisation cleared the clouds of doubt from her once weak mind. Allowing her to bring calm, peace, and restore her people.
Bringing about a new order.
A new reich.
So there she was. Kaiserin Alysha Schonherr of Dawn. Bringer of light, messenger of God. Yet. Silence persists. As this… Child-this creature of Hellifyno roots herself upon a stool. Chin high, a simple white cotton dress. Red hair flowing. A tiny frown carved onto plump, cracked lips. As eyes of blue, similar in colour to warm equatorial waters wash over the inn, a cleansing sight, opposed to her stench. By the Lord, she stunk of the middle ages.
Awareness of her surroundings were fleeting at best. There was a distant background insistence of babbling voices, that bored like a weevil into her consciousness and perhaps provided what little grounding SIGRÍÐR had to the world around her. Although if she was thankful she did not show it.
A growl at this innanity, the incomprehensible slur of words as she demands more mead.
Even hobgoblins- those masterful creatures afeared of nothing- refuse to approach her any longer.
SIGRÍÐR’S frustration at this results in a sweep of those collected cups and vessels upon the table before her, and a clatter as they brace and fall- scattering the detritus of her misery about the floor before her.
“I said MORE MEAD!” SIGRÍÐR roars out her demand with a tone that was heavily accented both with nationality and with the effects of strong drink.
With the tremendous clatter of various cups and the like, The child’s enhanced hearing catches each impact of every surface. But. What happened next surprised her most. A surprise she had not expected. And she hadn’t been truly surprised in months now.
So it was indeed a shock. That voice of the northern maiden. The one from the forest and the walls of a grand city, though not as grand as hers. She rises. Usually. Such a thing she would have not comprehend. Rising for another of such a lesser standing than herself.
But this woman? This brave maiden had aided her. Showed her brutality of this world.
She stands. Her left leg now visible. Monstrous, with tight purple flesh. Laced with golden glowing veins, that pulse with coursing blood, as her bare feet tap against the wood, as she draws near to the drunken nordic woman’s table. Standing as a tall as a nine year old possibly could, back strait, chin high. Eyes narrowed somewhat.
An insult if thrown at the shield maiden from one that would have neither sense nor intelligence, for who would antagonize such a creature and in such a state.
The skittering of hobgoblins that were busily retrieving those cups, hear the demands of the wolf, and after a brief exchange of worried glances- forget the cups and tankards and withdraw very quickly. A low growl comes from the darkness.
Who had demanded such of her? And how did that creature wish to die? These were the overriding thoughts that occupied the mind of the skjaldmær as from that darkness, she drags herself, using the table before her as an anchor. The light finally reveals…
A maiden small of stature with a delicacy of feature that seemed incongruent with the creature that made such noise- such grunts and howls and incomprehensible drunken gibbering as she cursed not only her Gods and the man who had taken them from her- but also the Red Sun, Persistence and the planet as a whole.
It was with eyes, narrowed with malice and white knuckles fixed about the haft of a wicked looking ax that SIGRÍÐR seeks out the owner of that voice.
But instead, finds before her a blurred image of a child, with hair that was touched by fire and in the Godly white of an angel. If there was recognition then none was given to Alysha, merely the growl of a maiden lost to humanity.
“Away child- before you are harmed. For I would seek out the one who insulted me and crush its skull like I would a walnut beneath my heel.”
“Believe me, I wouldnt insult you.” the child stated, a cold sneer of command to her German accented voice. Hands being placed onto the table. “we had met before?” an inquisitive tone to blessed voice of kaiserin.
Though not as much as a question as a statement. But she was stronger now. She had to be. Her eyes remain narrowed towards the nord. Ignoring threats, despite knowing how this fighter could easily harm her, if she caught her off guard.
The skjaldmær can barely see and certainly would not be able to stand- so drunken is she and it is with another growl of annoyance at the child’s continuing presence, distracting her from the belligerent purpose of a half decent bar brawl that she swings her rheumy eyed gaze to the creature with the hair of flame.
“What do you want Child? Why place yourself in danger? Where are your parents?”
There was concern there, perhaps just a little. Buried beneath the stench of a thousand years and mead consumed that would have just as easily felled a unit from any modern army.
“They are of no concern” she stated, with a harsh disregard to any such figure. Not after the last one. She was the Head of her dynasty now. That repugnant stench still seeping from her, a smell from a year and a thousand ago, stinking up the room.
“Why drown yourself with this?” she asked.
An actual question now. A scabbed, marked, scarred, bruised arm gestures to the various containers that hobs had gathered for the woman previously. The kaiserin stood firm. Almost like a statue. Apart from the faint twitching of her left hand which betrayed this stoic, still depiction of solidity.
The skjaldmær wears an inscrutable expression on a visage ruddy from the vagaries of the wind and the snow and with the copious amounts of mead consumed. She blinks twice- attempting to refocus upon the diminutive creature before her, that speaks with an authority that makes this forlorn warrior take note.
“Water!” SIGRÍÐR roars. “A bowl of water that I may…” but all other words are silenced as a wily hobgoblin that carries such a vessel across the room, skids upon an errant tankard, trips and does release it’s bounty into the face of the drunken Norse woman.
There are a few seconds of silence but for the insistent drip, drip, drip of liquid from the point of her chin as she is motionless with eyes shut tight.
It would seem as though the whole of hellifyno holds its breath and waits for the explosion…that surprisingly does not come as the skjaldmær reaches up and sweeps the excess from her face and finally opens her eyes.
And it is to Alysha that her gaze now alights. With a clarity now that the splash has gifted and sees before her, with a proud tilt of chin and a head held high- a child- not even in double figures of years and yet with an aura of authority about her that inexplicably has SIGRÍÐR feeling that she is in the presence of greatness and should for some reason- be perched upon one knee and bowing her head.
For a moment she is mystified- before some innane voice cuts through this pivotal moment and with that, her arm whips out and points the ax at the child Axelius, giving a definite demand to “FUCK OFF!” before her attention is drawn back to the flame haired child.
“Who are you?” the skjaldmær asks with a tone of reverence that she once reserved only for her Gods.
The tiniest flicker of a smirk curl at the edges of the child’s plump red lips. She pitied the poor hob, for she too expected an explosion of rage from the maiden. But, Is given a second suprise of the day when it doesn’t occur.
The child, barely scraping a 10th year of life, holds up two fingers to the younger child. Either requesting a few moments. Or requesting that the child leave, in a less tha way polite fashion. Who knew. But her smirk turns to a smile as she hears the words from the nord. Such fire. Such fury. Such power.
“I, am alysha. Kaiserin of dawn.” she presented her title.
Her smile still very much alive. Her accent thick.
And with such an announcement- it was as though the lambent light of the Gods beam down upon the hopeless skjaldmær, infusing her with an energy and a verve that was not previously present, or if it was, had been held in check by the mead consumed.
A feeling that she was yes, in the presence of greatness, in the presence of a leader that she could follow into battle- kill for- die for. But that in her state of paralytic drunk, she was shaming not only herself, but her former horde and her ancestors.
The shield maiden looks away, cheeks burning with that shame before sliding from the bench, and prostrating herself before the Kaiserin.
Sagging backwards upon her knees, attempting to place the haft of her ax on the floor before her, not just as a manner to lean upon, but also to signify that this sell sword was for sale- and required not just coin but a righteous and just cause.
“This is not first encounter with each other. Warrior” the Kaiserin claims, as she placed a small hand upon her shoulder while the shield maiden kneels before her.
Her smirk returning. Such devotion. She can use this. She could lead her hordes in reclamation of glory.
In expansion of lebensraum, in slaying of blasphemers and the like. Then a simple command.
“Stand. Warrior” one of respect, she truly did respect the maiden, her courage. Her honour.
Unashamed now, tears roll down the cheeks of this formerly proud skjaldmær, with eyes that are wide and unblinking and once more bright with intelligence as the mead quickly recedes and is replaced by awe at this child’s casually worn majesty.
It is at this one pivotal moment that their fates collide and the two of them, forge an alliance that would be characterized by the indiscriminate letting of blood and a period of medieval violence upon the shores of Hellifyno that will be spoken of in hushed tones for generations to come.
It was with some difficulty that the skjaldmær gets to her feet, towering over the child and swaying as though buffeted by a strong breeze.
“I am SIGRÍÐR- daughter of Yngvild- who was daughter of Turid” naming the female line of proud shield maidens that had spawned her thus. “And you have my ax.”
“And you, have my blessing, and the blessing of God.” Alysha responds, proudly. Religion was important to the child. And to her empire. Even if they reside in a cavern below a wasteland…for now. Smiling up the fierce warrior that was the shield maiden.
The turmoil that had been a constant for the past few days, that had holed this shield maiden in the Red Sun and on a monumental bender of epic proportions all seemed to just drop away from her- a burden rid by the word of a child and the oath of a warrior whose ax fair leaped from her hand in search of blood.
This was indeed a pivotal moment. Those present may not see the significance now, but as the scourge of the untainted would sweep across the lands in times to come- they would draw close their kin and kith and whisper wide eyed as the fear paralyses them…
“I was there. I saw it with my own eyes.”
A query though from the still drunken though now completely competent shield maiden.
“Yo do look familiar. I see a wood and a chase and a burial but cannot for the life of me marry this with a child of such few years.”
It was hard for her to think, let alone remember.
“We can recall another time. Warrior ” The Kaiserin addressed her new ally.
” But. Yes. I was there.” she muttered. Given the woman’s intoxication. She decides not to recall such events now. But to wait. Perhaps when they return to the capital, and currently, only city under her rightious domain.
A brief nod from the swaying shield maiden who was suddenly buoyed by the infusion of hope, of a destiny and of the promise of glory or a glorious death. For in this child lay the answer that SIGRÍÐR had been seeking since her rebirth.
Devoid of hope and laid desolate by the knowledge of her God’s inactivity- driven by a geas that had long since been fulfilled. It was the lack of purpose that had driven this blonde maiden to the drink and now…with the shining of a new hope and a new dawn- SIGRÍÐR had returned and would prove herself to be the bane of all heretics.
It was with a gaze of shining adoration and the glaze of the newly converted, that she would now regard Kaiserin Alysha as her new God.
And so. The short stature of the child looked upwards.
“We will leave soon.” she stated. Crossing her arms. Rolling her shoulders, and cracking her knuckles with a satisfying crunch. Good. This was good. Better than good in fact, reuniting with a… Friend?
Who knew what they were. But either way. Alysha respected the warrior. And could find her services useful in upcoming… Projects, so to speak.
And so in this moment, the shieldmaiden, SIGRÍÐR experiences a redemption from her shame of both past lives and this one. The shame of her death in the defence of a mead halle that was ultimately razed to the ground.
An inability to be blessed by the Gods of her ancestors.
A completed quest that left naught but emptiness and more shame.
Neither of which would be graced by the songs of the skáld nor spoken of about a merry hearth.
But this…this child..this Empress, this God- would be the vector of such redemption- and as such, be the author of atrocities in the scourge that was to come.