Episode 26/Chapter 2: The land of fierce battles (2)
The place where the Bifrost extended to wasn’t Kataron or Radetza.
The rainbow stairs had linked to a beautiful island in the middle of a lake. The lake was huge, large enough to be mistaken for a sea.
“Warriors, I welcome you.”
The one awaiting their arrival the end of the staircase was none other than Valkyrie Rasgrid. Just like Ingrid, she was clad in proper, ceremonial robes. Behind her were the warriors of Valhalla alongside some people wearing clothes hewn from the fur of animals.
“Valkyrie Rasgrid, I thank you for coming to greet us.”
Ingrid hit her chest, and Rasgrid did the same.
“For Asgard, and for the Nine Realms.”
As the two Valkyries smiled, their eyes almost level, the warriors of Valhalla behind Rasgrid greeted Tae Ho’s group using their own formalities.
“This is the temple of Elidi Lake. I once visited here when I was alive. They came to ask if I was really the son of Thor.”
Bracky looked at his surroundings and spoke with a voice filled with grief and reminiscence. As Tae Ho nodded, unsure of what he meant, Siri whispered in a low voice from beside him.
“This is what you call Pantheon. It’s a temple that worships several Gods of Asgard simultaneously. It’s one of the famous places of Midgard.”
Tae Ho immediately understood. It seemed like the ones wearing fur clothes were devout worshipers.
Rasgrid finished her greeting with Ingrid and then approached Tae Ho and Siri with a strange smile.
“You came as well. Now we’re finally able to resume our lessons again.”
Tae Ho and Siri flinched at the same time. Her word were spoken in a voice that didn’t suit the nickname of ‘Ice Princess’.
“Half of that is a joke.”
It would have been far better as a complete joke.
While Tae Ho and Siri dodged her eyes, Rasgrid scanned the sky above the warriors and then spoke, her face turning serious.
“This place is currently gathering information regarding Garmr’s soul fragment. As the state of things go, Garmr’s soul fragment was found in another location. Humans from several regions of Midgard are providing us their assistance.”
Be it on land or water, Elidi Lake was a well-developed, highly trafficked area.
In addition, because of their Asgardian origins, both the warriors of Valhalla and the Valkyries couldn’t stay in the villages or towns of Midgard forever. Staying for short periods was acceptable, but a long-term stay necessitated changing location to the temple.
“You should rest for now.”
Rasgrid offered these words before leaving, and the worshipers wearing fur clothes approached and led them to their lodgings. As in Radetza, there was a room prepared for each warrior.
Although Tae Ho’s room wasn’t large, it was nice and comfortable. It was not what one might expect from a room in a temple.
Tae Ho took out his luggage and went outside. It appeared that their arrival had been at a later hour, for the sun had already begun to set. The warriors already emerged from their rooms were sitting around a bonfire and enjoying a steady supply of alcohol and food.
“What are you talking about?”
As he sat down next to Siri, one warrior raised his mug carved from a horn and replied.
“About why we are fighting-”
“Although the answer is already set.”
As the two warriors spoke out at almost the same time, they turned to look at one another in surprise. In unison, they hit their chests twice as if having promised beforehand and yelled.
“For Asgard and the Nine Realms!”
A clear laughter followed suit.
For Asgard and the Nine Realms. To safeguard Midgard and the rest from the giants.
The warriors were as fresh and bright as always. Tae Ho also laughed unconsciously and glanced at Siri beside him. Her white cheeks had grown rosy by the fire, and she was smiling brightly.
“You seem to be in a good mood.”
As he spoke in a soft voice, Siri nodded in response.
“Working alongside the warriors of Valhalla is always a joyous situation. I think I’ve told you this already…..but I’m a warrior of Valhalla and am really enjoying my current lifestyle. I fight to become stronger for the sake of everyone and to protect my comrades… There’s no envy or jealousy here. We all treasure one another. It’s a wonderful thing.”
He had heard before in the secluded place one could refer to as a trace of the Great War.
The voice of Siri that contained her true feelings was really quiet, but the warriors of Valhalla heard her nevertheless. They stopped their laughter and all opened their eyes widely.
“Huk! Siri! So you like us!”
“And we didn’t even know that!”
“We too- No, I too like you, Siri! Get in my arms! I’ve got a hug with your name on it!”
The one that opened his arms was Bracky. Siri donned the same cold eyes she wore on the battlefield and responded.
“I’m starting to dislike you more now.”
Bracky deflated like a balloon and the warriors of Valhalla burst out laughing again.
One of the warriors emptied his mug and spoke up.
“It’s right that we’re fighting for Asgard and the Nine Realms, but I also fight to become stronger. It’s quite an amazing thing that you can become stronger every time you fight, isn’t that right?”
The warriors agreed and then another, red-faced one stood up and said-
“You know, I’m planning to confess to the Valkyrie of my legion after this expedition.”
“Um, right… Okay. Cheer up! Don’t despair. Valkyries aren’t the only girls in the world. A good day will come soon enough.”
The warriors nodded half heartedly and cheered him up.
And how many more mugs did they drink?
After Tae Ho was drunk to the point of feeling content, he returned to his room and leaned against his bed.
“For Asgard and the Nine Realms…”
It was the motto of the warriors, the reason why they fought.
Tae Ho also felt the same, for the place in which Tae Ho was born was also included among the Nine Realms.
No, that wasn’t all.
Midgard. The warriors of Valhalla. Siri and Bracky. Everyone that’s staying at Idun’s residence.
Heda and Idun…
The notion of protecting the world was a really difficult one to grasp. Tae Ho hadn’t stood on the front lines of Asgard which Ragnar had spoken of. In in mind, it wasn’t easy to even comprehend that he was helping to protect Asgard and the Nine Realms.
Will that day come?
Will he stand at the epicenter of a battlefield to protect Asgard and the Nine Realms?
Tae Ho envisioned beautiful thoughts as he closed his eyes and fell into a deep sleep.
After an indeterminate amount of time….
“Tae Ho, wake up.”
There were hands shaking him. Tae Ho opened his eyes like a warrior on instinct, prepared to fight at a moment’s notice.
He saw Siri that was slightly red because of the alcohol, but her face was as serious as ever.
She expressed her words quickly and quietly.
“We’ve been summoned. Rasgrid has something to tell us.”
“At this time?”
“It’s not only us. She wanted all the warriors roused so hurry up. The others should already be gathered.”
The warriors of Valhalla had continued their feast after Tae Ho had retired. It was understandable for them to have already gathered.
Tae Ho hastily rose and followed Siri into the hallway. Strangely, the warriors had gathered in Rasgrid’s quarters instead of the hall.
Rasgrid’s room was twice as large as those of the other warriors, but it felt extremely cramped with three Valkyries and ten warriors amassed inside. As Tae Ho and Siri stood pressed against the door, Rasgrid nodded while facing the group.
“You’ve all gathered.”
Her way of speaking was akin to her attitude on the battlefield, and Ingrid’s face was stiffer than usual. Kaldea was the only one smiling brightly. Rasgrid opened her mouth again.
“Valkyrie Kaldea of Hermodr’s legion came after receiving a secret order.”
Rasgrid turned to look at Kaldea. There was a crow perched upon Kaldea’s shoulders.
She breathed in deeply before continuing.
“The objective for this expedition isn’t only to search for Garmr’s soul fragment. There’s another, more hidden objective.”
Normally, a single Valkyrie was enough to lead an expedition. There was obviously a reason regarding why Kaldea was included when Ingrid was already the commander.
“I will need to explain a bit. I presume you all know about the great barrier covering Midgard?”
The warriors all nodded or replied ‘yes’ to Rasgrid’s question. Tae Ho had also heard the story from Ragnar.
The magical barrier covering Midgard was created by Odin and Freya.
The reason the giants couldn’t attack Midgard and concentrated their forces on the front lines was due to the barrier.
“Right. As you know, the great barrier is meant to protect Midgard from our enemies; unfortunately enough, however, it’s not a perfect defense. The reason even people from Asgard can pass freely is thanks to one of primary the weaknesses of the barrier.”
As Midgard was too huge, there were undoubtedly openings in the great barrier. They couldn’t stop a small number from coming and going through that small hole.
Even so, it became harder to cross the barrier the stronger one was. Because of that, the defenders could protect effectively against the strong giants, but weaker monsters could still sneak by.
“During the last expedition, a great number of fomoires appeared even alongside a strong giant. Originally, this is something that shouldn’t be possible.”
Kaldea’s word were valid. Even with a flaw in the barrier, the events that transpired during the last expedition went beyond that.
“It’s not that a problem exists within the barrier. With this knowledge, the Gods all arrived to a single conclusion, and Heimdal found the cause.”
Shockingly, there were fomoires hidden in Midgard. Whether they had infiltrated before the barrier’s erection or slowly snuck in over the years, their actions couldn’t be forgiven.
“The objective for this expedition is as follows: to destroy the fomoire base and drive them out of Midgard.”
If the warriors displayed any large-scale movement, the fomoires would notice them. What they needed was a perfect surprise attack.
“We aren’t the only ones participating in this offensive. We can be said to be the corps d’elite.”
“When the battle starts, I will call in reinforcements from Asgard. The scope of this expedition isn’t at all minute. It will become a large-scale engagement.”
Kaldea said this after Rasgrid had finished. She was still smiling brightly, but her eyes gave a different impression. It sounded simple, but the reinforcements she’d spoken of wouldn’t end at just calling ten people.
“We will move tomorrow. They should already be aware of our movements, and because of that, we will approach them at various time intervals.”
There were three Valkyries. It was plenty to fool their eyes.
Kaldea finished speaking with a smirk. Bracky and the warriors seemed to have gotten excited at the notion of fighting, so much so that they clenched their fists and nodded greatly.
Cuchulainn was also excited, for the fomoires were old enemies of Erin. In addition, they had pressured Scathach and aimed for Tae Ho. They were enemies that needed defeating.
‘Asgard also acts when they have to. I suppose it’s time to cut ties with Bress.”
Cuchulainn smiled like a man and spoke. Tae Ho just nodded in reply.
Rasgrid let out a long sigh. She turned to look at Ingrid and Kaldea that were next to her and then hit her chest twice and said.
“For Asgard and the Nine Realms!”
“For Asgard and the Nine Realms!”
The warriors bellowed in unison.
The crow that stood upon the shoulder of Valkyrie Kaldea gazed at the warriors silently.
King Ivar of Kataron walked hurriedly towards the hall of the royal castle. His hair was disheveled as if he had just woken and his clothes were unkempt. Most unbefitting for a king, he was also barefooted.
Still, King Ivar sped on, unperturbed by his appearance. When he reached the hall, his face contorted to match that of a young child’s and yelled.
“Ivar. It’s been a long while.”
His tone was one usually heard when speaking to a child rather than a king. The nearby knights and servants frowned in surprise, but it was different for King Ivar. In response, he just beamed an elated smile.
They hadn’t met in twenty years, but Paul’s appearance was the same as in his memories. He was wearing the same dark robe, and his clear, bright eyes were etched brilliantly unto his wrinkled face.
King Ivar felt vaguely relieved by Paul’s image, one that seemed to have ignored the passage of time.
Paul was, after all, a mythical being, and Ivar would have been more surprised had he seemed any older and weaker.
Paul stood at the center of the hall in a place where the furnishings had disappeared and only the decorations remained.
“Ivar, there’s someone that pulled out Liberatus.”
So that was the reason for his return to Kataron. King Ivar felt slightly disappointed, but he quickly smiled once again. Helga, who had reached the hall even faster than King Ivar, spoke with a voice full of excitement.
“Idun’s warrior retrieved the sword.”
He was the famous among the ones that came down to Midgard.
Even the fame of Bracky, a former member of the Skald Knights who had returned from death, couldn’t match his.
The one that is loved by the beautiful and graceful Goddess of Life. The one recognized by Thor and handles lightning and thunder.
But that wasn’t all.
The warrior that rides upon Valkyries, the Giant Slayer, Destroyer of the Winter Tree Forest, etcetera. He had too many nicknames.
And Paul added one more name to the list.
The one destined to inherit Camelot’s will.
Paul, otherwise known as the Great Magician of Camelot, Merlin, forced himself to calm down. King Ivar and Helga spoke to him about the warriors of Valhalla and told him that they were gathered in the temple of Elidi Lake.
“But Idun’s warrior has returned to Valhalla.”
Helga, who had been spouting words non-stop like a chicken, put on a dark face as she concluded with that statement. After all, she had seen Idun’s warrior return to Valhalla with her own two eyes.
But Merlin simply shook his head. He knew.
Idun’s warrior was in Midgard. He didn’t only have Liberatus, either.
“I will have to hurry.”
There was quite a distance between Kataron and Elidi Lake.
He muttered under his breath and tapped the sword that was hanging from his waist. It was only half of a broken weapon, but it was an exceptionally precious item for him.
Caliburn, the Sword of Selection.
It was the only legacy of King Arthur he was able to retrieve.
Without even waiting for the sun to rise, Merlin turned around and rushed toward the direction of Elidi Lake.
< Episode 26 – The land of fierce battles (2) > End
TL note: Thanks for reading~