Chapter 10- Last of the Valkyrie

Hildr wandered through the streets of New Eden, relishing in the silence as the sun slowly crept over the tall towers within. It was fascinating to see just how much Bethrael had transformed the city in one year's time. The useless gold and platinum metals that once plated the roads and buildings were efficiently stripped to be used for an initiative to modernize the lands. "Elec-trissity" they called it. Somehow the precious metals were "Conduct-Tars" as one overly eager mortal explained to her. Hildr had witnessed the strange magic when peering into the mortal realm of Midgard, or Earth as they called it in the modern tongue. The ancient minds always wrote off the ever advancing magics of the mortals as an impossibility in this realm. Why bother with such needless advancements when the ancient magics were at their disposal?

Perhaps the ancients were simply afraid of the progress mortals could make in such little time. Perhaps it was their short lives on Midgard which inspired such creativity. Knowing the end was nigh seemed to drive their ambition. The best of the mortals on Midgard strove to build a legacy upon which they would be remembered. Perhaps that was what Hildr's people were missing when the Archangels waged war upon them. Sure, they fought valiantly, but they never took the necessary risks required to win. It always felt like they were fighting for a stalemate rather than absolute victory. By the time Odin and the Valkyrie's realized they had to be willing to risk everything for victory, it was far too late. The Archangels had succeeded in wiping out Valhalla and decimating their people.

The leader of the Asgardian remnant, Tyr, still subscribed to the old mind-set of survival above all else. Though Hildr disagreed with his philosophies, she was still honor-bound to serve the leader of Asgard as the last remaining Valkyrie. Disregarding his direct order and marching to fight with Zeus and Bethrael had put quite a strain on her relationship with the conservative leadership of Asgard. Though Tyr had no choice but to accept Hildr back into the ranks after the victory, she could tell her leader was more distant, even paranoid since the public sentiment began shifting against him. There were even mutterings of ousting Tyr for Zeus. It was a thought that had crossed Hildr's mind on more than one occasion as well, though she would not dare suggest this out loud. Ultimately, Hildr pushed such frivolous thoughts to the side. Though Zeus made for an excellent warrior and field general, his hotheadedness and desire for battle were not ideal for this time of healing and rebuilding. Zeus's leadership was also not holding up to scrutiny in the Valhalla rebuild project. He was quick to anger, lashing out at subordinates over minor failings. It was clear to all in Zeus's circle that mounting losses in his long, storied life were weighing him down. The Olympian had now witnessed two massacres of his people with the recent slaughter at Olympus.

Hildr was weighed down by her own regrets from that event. With the death of Eir on that fateful night, she became the last remaining Valkyrie from the era of Odin. How many years went by since her and Eir last spoke? It had to be decades at this point. The two of them never saw eye to eye, even before their falling out. Hildr cursed Eir for abandoning the Valkyrie to heal the victims of the Great War, including the Kingdom's soldiers. She naively looked down upon Eir as a weakling and even called her a traitor to Odin in their last meeting. Perhaps Hildr was simply misplacing her rage from that night. Upon hearing the news of Eir's death, the rage had nowhere to go. Thoughts of Eir only conjured feelings of regret and sadness. Hildr foolishly believed that by defeating the Archangels, she would free herself from the chains of the past. For a fleeting moment she thought the death of the Archangel's had indeed resolved her problems. The jubilation of victory mixed with the freedom from their vile deformation curse allowed Hildr to feel at peace. Alas, it was only momentary. Several mornings later, Hildr still found herself waking up with anger in her heart, only this time, there was nowhere to direct that rage. For the first time in her long life, she felt empty and without purpose.

Her long lived kin never focused much on sicknesses of the mind. Hildr and the other warriors long held the belief that those who could not process the horrors of war did not belong in warfare. Eir believed in something else, though. She believed that all warriors were susceptible to illnesses of the mind brought about by the traumas of warfare. It was a theory that Hildr had no choice but to believe now. This purposeless rage was wearing on Hildr. She had finally achieved victory over the Archangels yet she felt more empty than ever before. She often wondered if she would ever feel at peace, losing herself in thought as the rising sun warmed her skin.

A distant scream violently pulled her focus back to her surroundings. The clash of weapons could be heard around her. Panicked citizens of New Eden scrambled to flee whatever was happening.

Only one thought came to Hildr's mind...Loyalists.

The Loyalists that had plagued New Eden were finally launching an attack, a possibility Hildr had ensured her Amazon warriors were prepared for. She drew her sword and shield, and began moving towards Tyr's chambers. The logical play for the Loyalists was to strike at the Council leadership to create a power vacuum. This was not going to happen on her watch.

Tyr and the other leaders' chambers were located in the same building that once housed the Archangels. Hildr made sure not to wander too far. She emerged from the alley and witnessed four robed figures surrounding a defenseless mortal duo. Without a moment's hesitation, Hildr thrust her blade forward and impaled the closest robed figure from behind. The attacker let out a screech and slumped over from the fatal wound. Small amounts of smoke billowed from the opening in the attacker's chest, causing the remaining three attackers to give pause. The angels knew what Hell-forged steel was capable of, but many mortals had never witnessed such powerful weaponry.

"Drop your weapons, and no harm will come to you. This is your only warning." Hildr calmly threatened.

The robed attackers looked back at one another. One by one they raised small daggers and looked back to Hildr, ready to attack.

"Pity." Hildr said as the first attacker charged towards her. She gripped the handle of her circular bronze shield and batted down the dagger of the first attacker, sending him off-balance. Spinning off him, Hildr used her momentum to slice the Hell-forged blade across the body of the second robed attacker, cleaving the unfortunate mortal in half. In one smooth motion, Hildr threw her shield at the last attacker, landing a killing blow by striking the poorly trained mortal's head directly. She then thrusted her sword backwards, into the abdomen of the first attacker before the robed loyalist even had a chance to recover.

"T-t-thank you." one of the fortunate mortal targets of the robed attackers stammered.

"Find a place to shelter yourselves. Do not come out until it is safe." Hildr ordered.

The two mortals stumbled into the doorway of nearest building, heeding the Valkyrie's advice. Hildr continued advancing towards the palace, hopeful there were no more foolish attackers between her and Tyr.

"Why would these mortals agree to help the Loyalist?" she mumbled to herself. It made no sense. The Archangels used the mortals as pawns and a source of power. Why in the world would these fools work against their own interests like this?

The answer to that question was irrelevant now. Hildr entered the courtyard to the palace and saw the chaos unfolding. Robed attackers were slaughtering innocent citizens of New Eden, only appearing to focus their brutality on the mortals. The Amazon guards made short work of the attackers whenever they came across one. It was clear to Hildr that this was only a distraction. Her theory of the true purpose of the attack must have been correct. She sprinted towards Tyr's chambers, slicing down any robed attacker that attempted to stand in her way. She had to get to Tyr. The skilled soldiers were most likely advancing on Council leadership.

Hildr lowered her shoulder and burst through the main entrance of the palace chambers into the Grand Hall. Further inside the building, to the left of the hall, within the new infirmary was a familiar sound. A weapon Hildr had not seen in use since the Kingdom fell one year ago. It brought the Valkyrie satisfaction to know that Bethrael was alive and well, fighting off the attackers. As much as she wanted to fight side-by-side with the young warrior again, she had an honor-bound mission to protect the leader of the Asgardians above all else. She turned to the right and proceeded out of the Grand Hall, down towards a hallway, sprinting past the massive rooms that housed the Celestial bridge and the now defunct Soul Forge.

Hildr pondered upon the horrors that had taken place in these rooms as she sped by. So many mortal slaves were forced to work on the Soul Forge until they simply withered away from the extreme conditions. An ancient tool, meant to grant life, was twisted to fulfill the whims and desires of the Archangels. Hildr wondered if the fates sought to punish all of life for allowing such a perverse abuse of a pure gift. Perhaps the fires of the forge going dark was a message of sorts.

Despite her brief musings, she continued on her journey towards Tyr's chambers uninterrupted. His room was beyond the double doors at the other end of the hall. She slowed her approach and quietly slid through the doors, careful not to alert potential enemies to her presence. She held her loose weaponry close to her armor, trying to muffle any noises. It was oddly quiet, almost eerily so. Hildr began to fear the worst as she carefully moved towards Tyr's quarters. Every door in this section was closed off, as expected at this hour. She turned a quick corner and noted two of her Amazon guards stations outside of his room as they were assigned. Areto and Iphito were two of the finest warriors Hildr had the pleasure of training, rising above most of their sisters almost immediately. They earned the honor of protecting the highest ranking members of Asgardian leadership.

"Valkyrie Hildr?" Areto remarked as they both slightly bowed their heads. It was a subtle salute the Valkyries once practiced to show respect to ranking members without drawing attention to their rank on the battlefield.

"Why are you still here? " Hildr questioned.

"Ma'am, we are following your direct orders." Iphito responded, confused by the line of questioning.

"TYR! Is he alive! Has their been any signs of attack!" Hildr said, raising her voice.

"N-no." Iphito answered, "It has been silent here, as expected."

"Move aside." Hildr said as she pushed Tyr's door open. The Amazon guards slid out of the Valkyrie's path and flanked her from behind, eager to guard her back as they were trained to do.

A groggy and dazed Tyr arose from his bed, confused by the sudden intrusion. "Hildr....What is the meaning of this?"

"You are ok?" Hildr questioned.

"Clearly..." Tyr responded, annoyed by the strange questions."

"There has been an attack. We suspect Loyalists. My first thought was they would come for Council leadership." Hildr stated to the shock of everyone in the room.

"An attack..." Tyr rose from the bed, and grabbed a nearby red robe, throwing it over himself. The tall, lanky Asgardian gained his footing and rubbed his long, grey beard in thought. "Why attack without purpose?" he wondered aloud.

"I overheard Bethrael in battle before coming here. Perhaps they were targeting her." Hildr responded.

"If the target was Bethrael, why bother waiting for the Council to be here? All the added does not make sense." Tyr said.

"My only concern is ensuring your safety." Hildr lied. She too was concerned about the true intent of the attack.

She feared the worst may be yet to come.