Episode 18/Chapter 2: Anaheim (2)
“Why are you that excited?”
“I, I’m not! I’m not excited at all. I’m not even going to make a lunchbox!” Heda became serious and said.
Ragnar thought of her as a thief that got caught herself and laughed and then lowered his posture and looked upwards. And of course, the thing he was looking at was Heda’s face, which was trying to look calm while hiding her embarrassment.
In the end, she broke down when he called her. She covered her face with her hands and Ragnar laughed and waited for her.
How many minutes had passed? By the time the air outside the hut started to feel cold, Heda lowered her hands. Although the tips of her ears were slightly red, she was wearing her usual expression.
Ragnar, who still had the same posture, shook his head a few times and then touched her with his elbow.
“If you have calmed down, let’s speak seriously.”
Although he hadn’t brought it out in front of Siri and Tae Ho, Gae Bolg and Cu Chulainn weren’t the only important things.
Heda also knew that fact fully well. As Ragnar spoke in a low voice, the atmosphere around Heda turned stiff.
“I have already told you, but the giant of Strength, Harad, appeared.”
Just like Harad knew Ragnar, Ragnar also knew Harad.
The giant of Strength, Harad, one of the five fingers of the magician king Utgard Loki.
The giant kings that existed in Jotunheim weren’t only the magician King. But because of that, it wasn’t that Harad represented Jotunheim because he admired the magician King.
But still, it wasn’t that he was weak at all. To face the giant of Strength, Harad, a warrior that was above the superior rank and had a lot of experience and was also strong was needed.
“I don’t know if it was an independent movement or if he received orders but…whatever it is, it’s certain that the giants care about Garmr’s fragment too much.”
Last time, giants that had merely reached the inferior rank had appeared. If they were meant to search a wide space, that was the most adequate.
But Harad, who was said to be one of the strongest among the superior-ranked giants, had appeared.
It was enough to overturn the value Garmr’s soul fragment had in an instant.
“In addition, Odin has ordered for it to be destroyed immediately.”
If the enemy gathered something, then gathering something for themselves was the most normal thing. However Odin had ordered to destroy it. There was a high probability that he had done this taking into account that it may be seized back by them.
Heda let out a long sigh at Ragnar’s gaze and then dropped her shoulders and said, “This is also like you have said before. I’m wondering if it’s one of their plans to wake up Fenrir.”
The warriors of Valhalla had heard that they were gathering Garmr’s soul fragments to wake it up, but the Valkyries had heard more than that.
“Starting now, searching won’t be that easy.”
There were no intermediate-ranked warriors among the warriors of Thor’s legion that were searching. Most of them were lowest-ranked warriors and there were also some low-ranked warriors.
But they couldn’t do that anymore. Now that Harad had appeared, a giant at the same level might appear at any time. That side could only increase the quality of their forces.
It was a hard thing. It wasn’t because both sides had stepped back from the front lines since it had begun adhering. It was because their strongest forces were glaring at each other while no one was able to move rashly.
Taking out forces from the front lines to search wasn’t easy.
But even so, maintaining the same method they had used was also hard.
Heda forced a smile and said, “But Ragnar, they overdid it too much, right?”
“Right, that’s what’s fortunate. Even if it’s the giants, they wouldn’t be able to spend giants on the level of Harad that easily.”
Perhaps it was a timing game. And one that spent a lot of mental power, at that.
Ragnar also dropped his shoulders like Heda did. His mouth was biting a cigarette – who knew when he had taken it out?
Heda looked at Ragnar’s side look and then said something.
“What do you think about Cu Chulainn? You met him once, right?”
Erin’s destruction and the Great War were connected. Ragnar, who was a top-ranked warrior, had stood on the same battlefield as Cu Chulainn several times.
“He was an outstanding guy. When I met him he had a really malicious air about him because of the situation…but he wasn’t a bad guy. Even though he had an arrogant side, that was because he was Erin’s greatest warrior. I think that that much is obvious.”
The man that didn’t only lose his lover, his family and friends, but also his world.
Cu Chulainn in Ragnar’s memories, was a lonely predator filled with malice. But even so, he had a cool head and a leisure that was capable of thinking of his allies and to read the flow of the battle.
“Erin’s successor…” Heda said in a low voice. There was excitement she couldn’t hide in it.
Ragnar’s eyes met Heda’s.
“It’s still too early to get excited. I’m saying, until gathering more pieces of Gae Bolg and obtaining more information.”
Those were calm words. Heda looked at Ragnar’s hand that seemed to be covering hers and laughed lowly.
“It seems like those are empty words.”
Because there was also excitement in Ragnar’s eyes which he couldn’t hide. Ragnar laughed and fixed his cigarette.
“It’s a surprising thing.”
It was a really amazing thing.
He could vaguely grasp the reason why Cu Chulainn chose Tae Ho. He probably didn’t have an option.
But even so, it wasn’t that he chose anyone. Because there were no coincidences in the story of a warrior; Gae Bolg and Tae Ho would have been attracted to each other.
The geas wasn’t Erin’s only power. It didn’t mean that even its legacies disappeared, just because it got destroyed.
Erin’s weapons, treasures and the warriors of Erin that were still alive.
Ragnar closed his eyes. He pushed aside his thoughts about Erin for a moment and then thought about Tae Ho.
The talent was one thing, but his mentality was also strong.
“Ragnar?” Heda moved her fingers and asked. Ragnar grabbed Heda’s hand tightly, like a joke, and stood up.
“Well, let’s go sleep. You have to depart early in the morning.”
Ragnar turned off the cigarette – he hadn’t smoked much. Heda just looked at him and then asked carefully.
“Ragnar, are you really alright?”
The last day of the Great War, Ragnar’s body and soul was broken. He wasn’t a top-ranked warrior anymore.
But he had used a myth-grade saga. Although it was for a short time, he had fought with all his strength.
Ragnar laughed soundlessly at Heda’s question. He then turned back and patted her head with his big hand.
He left his last words that were more from a father, rather than a friend and then entered the hut.
The next morning, the group that had left the hut moved to Valhalla hurriedly. Although the group had gotten bigger thanks to the two female gryphons he had caught along with Rolo, there was no big difference in their travelling speed. Rather, if it wasn’t for Rolo’s injuries, they would have reached Valhalla faster.
It took two days to return, just like when they went to that place. They parted ways with Siri in the hall of Valhalla and when they returned to Idun’s residence it was late in the afternoon. After the group finished a quick dinner, they decided on a new nest for Rolo and the two gryphons and then had a quick sleep.
And the next morning: “Heda, did you sleep well?”
“Ye-yeah. And you?”
“I also slept well.”
It could clearly be seen that the both of them didn’t get any sleep. First, the black spot below their eyes was the same.
“That’s some bullshit you are saying.” Ragnar clicked his tongue in dissatisfaction and said. Then Tae Ho looked at him in surprise.
“Ragnar, are you also coming?”
Was he going to follow them?
Ragnar faced the strong rejecting eyes and put on an even more unsatisfied face.
“I will only go to the entrance with you. If you really want to enjoy Anaheim, you have to go alone.”
The real Anaheim.
However Tae Ho didn’t get extra ideas. He turned to look at Heda and said, “Then, let’s go.”
Heda rowed the wooden boat in a different direction than usual. It was because they were moving to a completely opposite side to the hall of Valhalla, which had the space doors installed in it.
Ragnar acted like a spoiled father that was following the date of his daughter but he disappeared as soon as they reached Anaheim. Thanks to that, Tae Ho could face the second group with a light heart.
Tae Ho discovered Siri at the entrance of Anaheim and laughed. It was because none other than she was putting on a skirt.
But of course, it wasn’t a dress like what the Valkyries wore on the banquets, it certainly was quite pretty.
‘Certainly, she’s pretty even if she decorates herself a little.’
She was a real beauty, only that she didn’t decorate herself.
As Tae Ho was looking at her with admiring eyes, someone said with a regretful voice next to her, “Um, I’m also here.”
Rolph, who seemed to have been picked on all night by the people that knew him, presented himself.
“It feels like it’s been a really long while.”
“I feel the same.”
While actually it had only been a week.
Siri, who was laughing at Rolph’s conversation with Tae Ho, greeted Heda, who was standing without knowing what to do.
She was always wearing armor and a head decoration that represented the Valkyries, but she was different today. Although she didn’t dress particularly well, it seemed like her atmosphere had completely changed by not wearing armor.
“The warrior that came to play with a warrior…!” Rolph mumbled in a low voice, as if he was surprised and then looked at Tae Ho with eyes filled with admiration.
“Anyways, let’s depart. Captain Siri and Heda have come to Anaheim already, right?”
“I only know the market.”
A rough voice broke the sweet voices of Heda and Siri that were filled with embarrassment.
As he turned to look he saw someone he was usually glad to see, but not today.
In addition, he wasn’t alone.
“The warrior that had a Valkyrie meet him!”
“The warrior that rode on a Valkyrie!”
“Pant! Is he the warrior that came to play with a Valkyrie?!”
The warriors of Ullr’s legion and Thor’s legion that he had seen the faces of several times were looking at them in shock.
Bjorn looked at Siri and Heda alternatingly and then looked at Rolph and Tae Ho with cold eyes.
“So you even broke the promise of last time…there was a reason to it. From now on I won’t be as tactless. Tae Ho, Rolph.”
His voice was so cold that others might have thought he was breaking off ties with them.
“Ah, no. I…” Rolph mumbled in a low voice. It seemed like he still had many regrets about the fun night with Bjorn.
However Bjorn turned back coldly and then crossed his arms over the shoulders of the other warriors and yelled, “Now, let’s go! To enjoy the real Anaheim!”
Bjorn and the other warriors ran towards the alleyway that seemed to be shining in red. Tae Ho looked at their back dumbfoundedly and said, “Bracky was also there.”
Did he come out as soon as he returned?
However Siri put on a disinterested and hard face, just like the one she put on the battlefield, and then hit Rolph’s shoulder.
“Rolph, if you want to go you can.”
“No, I’m fine. I like being here much more.”
As Rolph smirked, Siri also relaxed her expression. Tae Ho grabbed Heda’s hand instead of making fun of the two of them.
Half of Anaheim was an amusement centre and the other half was an arena. Because of that, the place Tae Ho’s group could go to was the market, which occupied a quarter of the entire place.
Ragnar sat in a long, wide chair and looked into the distance. The place his eyes reached was Heda, who was laughing at trivial matters.
It was nice to see a real smile, instead of the usual made-up one since that day.
“They are playing well. How good to see it.”
A voice was heard next to him. Ragnar stiffened unconsciously. It was because he hadn’t felt anyone approach him.
“Stay still. There’s no need to stand on ceremony.”
It was the voice of an old man. Ragnar breathed calmly and looked to his side. There was a one eyed old man wearing a big gray cape.
“Ragnar Lodbrok meets the Father of the Sky.”
He hit his chest while seated and expressed his manners. Then the old man, the King of Gods, Odin, frowned slightly.
“It’s been a while.”
The black crow, Munin, was sitting on Odin’s shoulder. Not only that, but there were several crows in the sky and the ground. There were dozens of them but the people that passed by didn’t seem to notice them.
Just like the one that had a thousand faces, he was now a benign old man. His voice and eyes were soft.
“Did you…come to see Tae Ho?” Ragnar asked carefully.
Odin smiled faintly and then looked at Tae Ho and Heda and said, “I came to visit as I also have other things to do at the same time. I was also curious as to what kind of person he was. There are times when I want to see the world with these old eyes of myself…and not by Hugin and Munin.”
How much did Odin know?
Ragnar just kept silent instead of opening his mouth. Odin smiled again. “Thor said that he seemed to be a warrior you treasured.”
“I’m expectant as to what he will become.”
“If you say so, that should be it.”
Odin didn’t look at Tae Ho anymore. He was looking at a distant place in the sky.
“A time where good warriors are needed…is coming. I can smell the battlefield approaching already. The giants moving could also be one of the signs.”
A hundred years had already passed since the Great War. It was already known, even without asking for the wisdom of Mimir’s head or the three sisters.
“But we can’t be in a rush. Everything has its order.” Odin spoke and then took a bite of a beef sandwich. It was a food sold frequently in Anaheim.
“This is really delicious. I will have to eat it again when I return.”
It seemed like he wasn’t joking, as he cleared the sandwich in two bites and then stood up. Ragnar followed and asked, “Are you leaving?”
“Having seen him from far away is enough. And didn’t I say that I have something else to do at the same time?”
Odin knew why Ragnar was uneasy. He would have already been asked by Heda.
Because of that Odin said a few more words to the retired warrior.
“There’s one thing I learned by watching Zeus…and his other friends of Olympus.”
The neighboring Gods with Asgard.
Odin thought of them for a moment and then smiled bitterly. “Nothing good happens when Gods interfere in the affairs of humans. It’s better to leave them alone.”
Whether their will was good or bad, getting tied up with a God meant the ruin of the human.
“I will leave him to you for now. Let’s meet another day.” Odin smiled pleasantly and then took out a hat from the air and put it on. Ragnar hit his chest first and expressed his manners.
“For Asgard and the nine planets.”
“For Asgard and the nine planets.”
Odin waved lightly and disappeared just as when he appeared.
Ragnar looked at his surroundings, as if looking for the crows that had appeared with them and then sat down in his place and looked at Tae Ho and Heda. They were enjoying themselves without knowing that Odin had appeared.
“Right, you should enjoy it when you can.” Ragnar spoke in a low voice and bit a cigarette. He was sorry for Tae Ho but it seemed like he would have to increase the level of his training.
The sun set and night came.
Ragnar, who had been waiting for the dusk, took Heda and Tae Ho as soon as the sun had set and brought them back to Idun’s residence.
However Heda had a bright face, as if having enjoyed her afternoon was enough, and looking at that Heda, Tae Ho could also smile back.
After two days Tae Ho resumed his training, and even started to go out on expeditions a week later.
Three months passed like that.
A short and long time passed quickly.
< Episode 18 – Anaheim (2) > End
TL note: Thanks for reading~