“Father,” pleaded Heimdal as his father turned his back to him and stormed out of the lodge. A gust of cold air swept into the room, leaving the large skald empty and conflicted. He sank onto a chair that was draped in the fur of a northern bear he had slain several years ago. The fur was comforting to him, which only drove him to drape the skin around his chest. The comfort took his mind to the time when he slew the bear and took the fur as his trophy. His mind then drifted back to the spring of that year and the night of the valkyries.
Heimdal had finished telling the story of his hunt and battle with the bear to the younger warriors of the tribe. They looked at him in wanderlust as images of themselves hunting bears danced in their minds. Heimdal gave a smirk and sent the young warriors on their way. He had told many such stories and the young were always the most excited of stories of adventure. As he gathered himself to leave, he noticed that one person had stayed behind. A woman dressed in simple garb. She was beautiful in the eyes of many of the tribe with pale perfect skin, long red hair and crystal blue eyes. Her body was toned and she moved with the grace of an elk. She had never taken a man, however, much to the disappointment of the young men of the tribe, Heimdal included.
She looked at the skald with a warm but reserved expression. After a moment of looking at one another, she stood slowly, letting the white dress fall into place. She then spoke, her voice confident yet soft spoken, “The night of valkyries is upon us Skald of Wolf. You will meet the Olrun and your life will be seen.” She then gave a bow from the hip and left the hulking man to ponder what she had just said.
Heimdal sat back down on his log and stared at where the woman was sitting. He had not expected this day to come so soon. It was true, nearly all of the tribe leaders and family eventually saw the Olrun to determine their future. It was how the leaders of the tribe where chosen, how wars were decided, and even when the Hunt should begin and end. Heimdal still thought of himself as a young man at 17 passings of the winter season. His father would be pleased however. He had been waiting for the night of valkyries in order to teach the secrets of the Skald.
His father, how he had been disappointed that Heimdal was not his first born. Algernon proved to be an adept Skald and warrior but was proven to fits of rage and delirium that trouble many of the tribe. Still, he had proven himself and was ready to take the tribe in his hands for better or worse because the Olrun was never wrong. His father wanted Heimdal to lead the tribe, but he could not choose.
Heimdal then remembered his father’s tears when the visions of the wolf began to visit his dreams. The Rite of the Winter Wolf was coming soon. Everyone in the tribe knew it. The time would come soon when his father would be gone to the Great Wolf and the future of the tribe would be in doubt. The feeling of hopelessness was apparent, but no one knew what could be done and no one dared speak of it for fear of Algernon.
Heimdal gave a quiet sigh and looked to the stars and prayed to the Great Wolf for guidance.
“Heimdal!” called out a voice which broke the Skald from his dream. He looked to the sound of the voice and saw Asta standing before him with her hands on her hips. He face carried a worried and sour expression. “What did you do to father?” she demanded.
Heimdal blinked and opened his mouth to speak but said nothing. As he searched for the words, he eventually stammered, “I’m leaving.”
The young woman’s expression turned from sour to surprised in the space of a heartbeat and then to concern and worry. “No! You can’t leave! I won’t allow it!” she ordered though she knew it was a losing argument.
Heimdal couldn’t help but smile at his younger sister. “Asta,” he said as he stood up. “It has to be done. Algernon’s death put that in clear focus for me. My path was already set. I must now walk it.” He embraced Asta with his arms, “The future is what might be. That is why you must walk the path. There is still time for change.”
“Why must you go?” she spoke quietly, trying to keep from crying fully.
Heimdal patted her head to try and soothe her, “The Great Wolf has proved the path. We are but one pack that faces a horde. We must gather all the packs, even those not of our home. The strange wolves to the south are cunning and dangerous. They are familiar with the ways of war that we are not. They can help us drive off the invaders.”
Asta put her head to his chest and sighed as tears fell. “I can’t lose you too,” she sniffed.
“I know Asta, I can’t lose you either.”