Author: Stand Alone Battle A.I PM
Join Hrist, as she continues her quest across midgard, to ensure that everyone gets their daily recommended dose of iron. With an iron swordRated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Humor - Hrist V. & Arngrim - Chapters: 6 - Words: 61,235 - Reviews: 23 - Favs: 13 - Follows: 11 - Updated: 08-08-11 - Published: 03-11-10 - id: 5808155
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I've been giving, but just ain't getting, I've been walking that there line. So I think I'll keep on walking, with my head held high - Kid Rock
"We're not doing this."
The simple statement was enough to have the desired effect. Leone stopped in her tracks and turned to face her companion. Like so many times before, he was mesmerized by the emotionless look she gave him. It was absolutely insane that this…thing…that stood before him was the same kind hearted woman he'd traveled with.
"I sincerely hope that I misheard you just now." She says. Her voice, her eyes, her posture, even the air around her, issues the unspoken challenge to try and defy her.
They stand just outside of Dipan, probably sometime before noon, judging by the position of the sun. Knights of Dipan's royal guard patrol the battlements that overlook the city. The weather is cool, a pleasant relief to the heat that had been pestering the citizens for the past month. Large, popcorn shaped clouds, hang lazily in the horizon. The dark shade and the direction of the wind have people sealing the wooden shutters on their houses, and bringing in their hanging laundry. Everyone prepares for the storm that is sure to come.
None of them realize that it was already here. And that it was going to be far worse than they could ever imagine.
"You heard me" Arngrim challenges right back "I may be just some hired blade, but you're out of your damned mind if you think I'm gonna take part in a massacre." He warns; making no effort to hide the accusatory undertone of his voice.
It seemed impossible, but Leone… no, Hrist Valkyrie remained completely stoic, yet entirely imposing at the same time. Arngrim was too angry to care though. Didn't she realize that these people were just doing their jobs. These weren't just soldiers. They were fathers, friends, and husbands, some of them probably grandfathers. The thought of Hrist just killing them because they were at the wrong place wrong time…
"They have been warned time, and time again. Those that ignore Odin's-"
"Screw Odin!" Arngrim cuts her off "At this point, I'd wanna leave too! All of this crap, cause these people wanna go someplace where they don't have to take his bullshit." The mercenary levels his own gaze to meet hers'.
"But you know what? He at least has a reason. What the hel is yours? You really gonna to do this because he tells you to? What the hel ever happened to all the 'honor' I always hear about, when they tell stories about you Valkyries? As far as I can tell, you're no better than half the monsters I deal with out here. If you think that there's any honor in doing what he tells you, then you're nuts lady."
That did it. Hrist's eyes are suddenly a luminescent Gold. She marches up to him, quickly closing the distance between her and the mercenary. Arngrim's sword stays on his back, but this was not to be mistaken for unpreparedness. If she attacks him, then he will respond in kind.
But to his surprise, she doesn't. He suddenly finds himself face to face with her. Almost a head shorter than him, she somehow manages to stare him down.
"Honor? Is that what you think this is about? They are on the cusp of unlocking the secrets to Creationism! Have you any idea how dangerous that kind of magic is, in the wrong hands?" she points an angry finger at the castle behind her. "Do you realize the implications of what they are about do? They are going to create another world!
Do you honestly believe that there will be no consequences to their actions? That everything will be fine, if there are suddenly 10 worlds, instead of 9? They risk throwing the entire tree off balance!" she screams in his face. And for the first time, the scale of what was going on finally hits him.
"I…" he opens his mouth, but nothing comes out. He wants to argue. He needs to say the right thing to prevent a tragedy from ever having to take place. Magic, to Arngrim, was just that; Magic. Something that he didn't really understand, nor did he really care to learn. Hel, half of whatever insane plot, which was going on, was still lost on the man. As far as he knew, everything was black and white. Dipan wants to escape the tyranny of the gods. The gods, being all tyrannical, didn't want them to escape.
It never really occurred to him that Dipan may ever actually be in the wrong…
Hrist continues, in the same vicious tone.
"So you know what? You win. I deem myself morally incapable of leading this mission. I hereby place you in command." She says in a manner that sounds frighteningly sincere. The mercenary finds that he still can't find his own voice.
"So what are your orders 'sir'? Keep in mind that Odin will see Midgard burn if this situation is not resolved by the end of the day. So the lives of 6 billion people rest on your next decision! Should they succeed, maybe nothing will happen. Maybe EVERYTHING will happen. If it turns out to be the worst case scenario, then the loss of life will be astronomical. The Vanir, the Elves, the Asier, are but a few of the races that may have their worlds collapse in on themselves, and never even know why." There's a slight thud as Arngrim backs into one of the walls of a local shops. He hadn't even realized that he'd been moving at all…
"So I would Love to hear your plan of action 'Commander', for I do not feel that they shall simply stop because we ask them to." What followed was a long moment of silence. Arngrim searched himself for an answer, something, anything, which could remotely even come close to being the right answer. But he had nothing. Hrist spoke again, quieter, but with no less anger in her voice.
"So, you have nothing. You, and so many others like you, presume to judge me when none of you are any better. All of you sit behind the veils of your blinded morals, when none of you have ever had to make a real decision in your lives." Arngrim couldn't look her in the eye. Was this what it was like to be Hrist Valkyrie? Forever stuck between the rock and the hard place? Being a mercenary, he knew better than anyone, the world was full of grey areas. Nothing important was ever black and white. He suddenly felt stupid, for thinking that this was. "So this ends now…" she declares.
Suddenly, a set of small, yet powerful set of hands grabbed Arngrim by the chest plate of his armor, and he is shoved back against the wall. He found himself pinned with a Valkyries Sword up to his neck. What shocked him though were not her actions, but her face. The anger, which had dripped from her voice, was nowhere to be seen on her features. Instead, she looked tired, maybe even a little trapped.
"They already know many of the Divine Sacraments. Some, like the Sovereigns Rite, can simply unmake me, while there are others that can force my loyalty. All of which, I am incapable of defending myself from." Hrist lowers her voice, just barely above a whisper "So you wish to believe that I want to earn the hatred of my own sister? Fine! You think I want to see a city burn, for some cheap praise from Odin? Good! But know this mortal; I have made my decision, and I intend to see it through. I know what I fight for, and there is too much at stake. So I have to know right now; can I trust you with my life?"
With that single question, there was an impossibly long moment when nothing was said. Hrist waited with the patience of an immortal as Arngrim leaned his head back and closed his eyes.
"…yea, I'll watch your back." He finally says quietly. The Goddess lowers her weapon and unsummons it. She is, once again, nothing more than little Leone, and begins to walk wordlessly down the path of a doomed city.
The end of Dipan's last good day.
"Leone… Hrist," unsure of which name to call her, he stumbles on his words "listen… I-"
"We are done with this. I care not, what you have to say." She walks a few more feet then she stops. She turns her head, just enough for him to see her eyes. They're golden, a small sign of the terrible destructive power, which roils beneath her innocent looking form. "At the end of the day, all that really matters are the results… That is what I am good at: Results."
It was like waking up with an epiphany. A base lower instinct that told him he needed to be somewhere, much like how birds knew that they needed to migrate south for the winter. The small fragment of the Valkyrie's soul, which Arngrim's soul used as an anchor point, suddenly just became active.
The Einherjar often referred to it as the Valkyrie's call, the sudden knowledge that their Valkyrie was now awake, and that they needed to report for duty.
So in short, it's kind of like being paged by a very complicated and very mystical beeper.
Pushing aside the odd feeling (of what it must feel like to be a hoe being paged by an all-powerful pimp), he decided to address urgent issue number two.
The unending, and excruciating pain that is his existence.
And no, this wasn't going all emo, this was the 'ouch my bones are broken' kind of pain. Seriously, was there anything that didn't feel broken?
The battered mercenary opened his eyes, and squinted at a bright source of light. It went away, and was soon replaced by a, unmistakable silhouette of a young female head. Unsure of anything at the moment, Arngrim decided that it was time to perform the prerequisite post severe-head-trauma checklist. The mercenary sat up and turned to the woman "Excuse me miss, but could you kindly tell me who you are? And if it's not too much trouble, I would also like to know where I'm at, how I got here, what the nature of my injuries is, and if the offending party that caused said injuries are still around."
At least that how it went in his head anyway. In reality, he rolled so that he was face down on the ground and said "muuuuughh"
Seconds later, he felt a cooling sensation course through his body, as well as a sudden sense of well being. The world became a little sharper and this time he was able to sit up for real. He looked up in time to see the young woman retract her hands, and sit back with an exhausted look on her face. Her face and the room was cast in an eerie reddish yellow hue. He looked down and saw that the light was coming from the tip of a stick.
No… a wand. He realized that the cooling sensation he felt had been a healing spell.
"thanks…" he said, and began to give his shoulders a quick roll, to test if they were working. "where are we?" He looked around. From what he could see, the floor, the walls, and even the low hanging ceiling was made of stone. He figured he was in some kind of… tomb?
"Because of your ill laid plans, we're in the sewers, where you dragged us you idiot."
Ah. Arngrim had been so wrapped up in his physical pain that he had forgotten that he could still have his feelings hurt.
"…Jelanda?" The mercenary said as everything was finally coming back to him. He remembered the catapults launching their massive firebombs, and everything burning. Then… everything started exploding, almost like when a mage used one of the really big spells like Meteor Swarm or something. He barely made it to the door when everything started going up. "Are you alright?" he asked, and looked at the irritated young woman in front of him. She was covered in dirt, but otherwise looked like she was in good health.
"NO! I scratched my knee, and I smell like that pile of stinky rags I landed on, when we were flying through the air!"
Arngrim winced, suddenly remembering how loud and shrill she could be when upset about something, and looked over to where she had pointed to. There was a large pile of dirty uniforms that was probably for whoever worked down here.
"huh, is that where we landed? I guess we got lucky." he said as he shambled to his feet. The Princess raised an eyebrow "We? You bounced off that wall, and landed on the ground. I'm the only one who smells like a pile of stinky rags."
Arngrim nodded. Bouncing off of an unforgiving stone wall, like a racquetball capable of feeling pain, did sound about right.
"I demand to know how you plan to get us out of here." She huffed. Her amazingly loud voice reverberated off the stone walls, so it was like she was complaining to him in surround sound.
Arngrim had learned years ago that most temples/caves/sewers, that were complicated enough to have running water, could easily lead you out if you followed the stream.
Of course there were always exceptions, but he felt that he could hold the rule true for this case.
"The water…" he grunted, as he steadied himself on his feet. "The water has to drain out somewhere, right? If we follow the water, then that'll lead us out." He said. Arngrim's body still felt a little stiff, but was feeling better by the second. The man was no authority on magic, but he knew good healing spells when he felt them.
When you fight monsters, gods, or take part in the sport of teasing Hrist (AKA poking the bear), then you tended to get hurt.
This caused the man to reevaluate her. He knew enough mages to know that learning magic was hard. Usually the most anyone learns is the art of destructive magic. Anybody could blow something up with magic. Hell, it's like the first thing you learn to do.
Learning to put something back together though, that took skill.
With Arngrim's opinion of the young woman raising a few notches, he took an experimental step into the water, and found it to be only about a food deep or so. They could easily wade through the shallow water. It didn't change the fact that it was sewer water, but dirty socks were the least of their problems.
"C'mon Princess" Arngrim extended a hand to her "I'll get you out of this." However, Jelanda looked horrified.
"Do you have any idea how much my shoes are worth?"
"Are they worth your life?" Arngrim asked coolly. Arngrim could still hear the roar of the fires burning away at the surface. At this point it would be a miracle if none of the sewers had collapsed in the explosions, but if it hadn't, and then they needed to hurry before it actually does.
"I refuse to go wallowing around in the filth, like some sort of poor person. I demand that you find another way!" she ordered. If the man was offended by her vaguely elitist remarks, then he didn't show it.
"I'll carry you then. So that way you don't have to get your shoes all dirty." He said reasonably "sound good to you?"
Jelanda was pleasantly surprised. "…Well it's about time" she said, and allowed her guardian to lift her. "I was wondering when you would finally come to your se- HEY!"
Arngrim walked a total of 4 feet before dropping her like a stone into the shallow water. In an instant her shoes, her hair, and her exuberant dress she was wearing, were soaked. This coupled with her small frame, gave her the look of an angry wet cat. She sputtered for a second before she pointed an accusatory finger at him.
"You did that on purpose!" the accused only shrugged, looking irritatingly aloof.
"Sorry, my grip must have slipped." He apologized though he didn't look, or sound, sorry at all. "But hey, since you're already wet, we can move faster if we're both on our feet. So what do you say, you wanna get out of here?"
Princess Jelanda seethed, and then finally accepted his hand. "Fine, but when we get out of here, I'm going to have you tried and hanged."
Arngrim felt a small pang of sympathy for her. Didn't she realize that Artolia was gone now? She was going to have to accept it sooner or later.
And it was going to hit her hard.
Hidden amongst the tall brush, and weeds, that littered The Great Plains of the east, a 17 year old girl watched the local wild life, making careful observations. As young as she looked, she had wisdom far beyond her years. In all technicality, she should look like a 58 year old woman, and in all reality was far older than that. When her lot in life had come to an end, she was to have moved to the next life and begin the cycle all over again. However, this was not to be as she was visited by another young woman.
This young woman, was the soul of an old god, known to many as Silmeria Valkyrie.
Though Phyress was a princess for the kingdom of Dipan, she had led a long, and lucrative Military career. At the tender age of 5, she picked up a bow one day and found that she had a talent to direct an arrow as though it was a mere extension of her own body.
She was a natural choice for her current mission of scout and recon. She was smart, patient, and had the experience of almost 5 centuries of field work under her belt. Being that she was a general at one point, she could not only observe, but also make educated guesses on what enemy forces were likely planning, based on their size, equipment and weather patterns of the land.
Like all good scouts, she did not operate alone. Scouting, on its own, was perhaps one of the most dangerous assignments that could be given in the military. There was no backup if things went to hel. Her job, her life, and possibly intelligence that affected the fate of thousands of lives depended on her, and her team's ability to remain undetected. It required absolute trust in the people who comprised such teams.
Which is why she had, in theory, the single worst team in existence.
The first on her team was Celes, another former general and heiress to the throne of Dipan, her sister was a natural choice to accompany her. Admittedly, there were moments between the women that were…intense… to say the least. Together they managed to effectively lead the Einherjar as a team. Phyress led most of the operations, while Celes was in charge of the overhead and logistics of the Einherjar. Though they respected each other's roles', they often found themselves butting head more often than not. Many dismissed this as harmless sibling rivalry.
However, some would argue that it could be due to the fact that Phyress had fatally wounded Celes in combat. A wound, that dragged out her death over the course of 2 years. This was of course, after Celes managed to lop off her sister's arm in the process. Throw a little alcohol into the mix, and these two will effectively put the 'fun' back into dysfunctional family unit. They could at least proudly say that they've had at least 2 consecutive Thanksgiving dinners that didn't end in a hostage situation.
Next up was Lawfer, a spear wielding light warrior, he belonged Lenneth, and was one of the last Einherjar to join the group before everything that went down at Valhalla. He was dubbed the 'greenest' of all of the Einherjar as he still had an optimistic view on life. To his dismay, many regarded him sympathetically, like he had some sort of illness or major handicap, and promised that his upbeat personality would soon be crushed into the endless duty and burden of being an Einherjar soon enough.
And finally there were the three that she trusted the least. They needed no introduction, as they were Rod, Mylan, and Cromm.
Normally, aside from Roderick, Mages and Vikings made terrible scouts. Not that she had any complaints about their performance; quite the opposite actually. They demonstrated skill in the wilds that was almost ….curious. She would however say that they were odd.
Very, very odd.
Phyress, crouched next to her sister as she peered through a looking glass, and took note of a pack of wolves that feasted upon a fresh kill. What it was, was impossible to tell as it was picked to the bones already. However, she didn't concern herself with that; the real issue was the predators' size. Each one of the wolves were the size of a pony, and were sporting a wicked set of teeth as they gnawed at the bones, or lounged about with full bellies.
"Wargs…" was all she said, and Celeste silently cursed. Wargs were the aftermath of corrupted wolves, and were a death sentence to unwary travelers. It was also a sign that the corruption was spreading to this area.
"How many?" the Warrior queen asked. She didn't have a looking glass, so was dependent of Phyress for information. She didn't mind though, like most archers of her caliber, her sister had perfect eyesight and was also one of the most capable scouts on the planet. "I count 8 of them… Two of them are probably alpha's. We're outnumbered, but we could definitely take them." She said, and her eternally 17 year old face looked over. Celes shook her head.
"Eight on six are not favorable odds… we risk losses. We'll come back with more men, and clear some of them out." Celes turned her head "We're retreating for now…"
"Are you kidding me?" she scoffed quietly "we've faced worse numbers before. If we leave them, they could start wandering into populated areas."
"Oh boy, here we go…" Lawfer mumbled.
"That was when we had a Valkyrie with us" Celes hissed, careful to let her voice get too loud "In case you haven't realized. The odds, are not in our favor."
"Neither are the odds of anybody unlucky enough to wander through here!" Phyress hissed back "you know, sooner or later, we're going to have to start taking risks."
"Ah. So that's what the 'cool kids' are calling 'being mauled to death by pony sized dogs' these days."
"Oh my gods, this again. You know, you could have come back at any age you wanted!"
"I know, and that's why I made sure I looked old enough to buy cigarettes!"
Lawfer cleared his throat and regretted it almost instantly. The two turned to him, and gave him a simultaneous "What!" The looks that they gave him, coupled with the way they identically put their hands on their hips, left no doubt that they were indeed sisters.
Lawfer swallowed the lump in his throat, and then proceeded bravely. "…C'mon you guys, you're family! If you work together, I know you can find a way to do this"
Phyress rolled her eyes; positive people were the trans-fats of society. All of them oversaturated with optimism, found everywhere, and impossible to get rid of.
"Look, we have a heavy class warrior, a mage, and another light warrior" Phyress gestured her head to Lawfer, then pointed to a section of road that went between two moderate sized hills. "If we lure them up the road a little, we can funnel them to keep from being surrounded. Not to mention that Roderick, the mage, and myself will have the high ground to rain down on them. They'll be dead before they even figure out what's going on."
"Well… I" Celes opened her mouth to protest, but had nothing. That actually is a pretty good plan. The massive corrupted dogs would be a serious threat, if allowed to surround them. However, one at a time, they wouldn't stand a chance against 2 light and 1 heavy warrior; especially with fire support.
"Tell me that's not a good plan." Phyress said smugly. Celes finally conceded.
"Fine… I'll go relay this to the others" she said, then paused she noticed that she only saw Lawfer behind her "Where are the others?"
The young spearman raised an eyebrow "what are you talking about? They're right next to…" He looked around and saw that they were indeed, nowhere to be seen. "The Hel?" he said as he whirled around "Did we leave them behind?"
Phyress looked genuinely worried. However, Celes pressed her fingers into her eyes, a vain attempt to stave off the headache that was now forming. "No… unfortunately we did not leave them behind" Out of the three, she was the only one to have worked with them before, and knew exactly what was going on.
"You idiots have till the count of three, to show yourselves… one…" She hissed out quietly, so as to not alert the nearby Wargs.
Pyress looked around curiously, waiting to see what was going to happen, when the bush right next to her opened its eyes and spoke. "Something you need, lass?" The female archer reeled in horror, as she barely brought a hand over her mouth in time to stifle her scream. She already had found the man's mustache creepy as Hel, but now the sight of him will probably haunt her dreams for the rest of her life.
Cromm's face was covered in crazy, though intricate, patterns of green, black, and brown paint. He had various twigs and leaves, sticking out of his armor and clothing; presumably to distort his profile, rendering him invisible to visual que's. Even his massive war axe was similarly camouflaged, sporting its own paint, tiny twigs and leaves.
He looked like he some sort of Viking, black ops, Special Forces Commando.
Meanwhile, as Phyress was receiving a healthy dose of emotional scarring, to which she may never be able to look at shrubbery the same way again, Lawfer was busy living Arnold Schwarzenegger's worst nightmare. The former Artolian Knight never noticed it, not until it started moving anyway, but there was something waiting just beyond the trees. Something that looked like heat rising off the sidewalk, or maybe a mirage in the desert. Whatever it was, it terrified the hell out of him. Lawfer started taking steps backwards, backpedalling until he tripped on an ill grown root. However, just as the shimmering distortion was upon him. It stopped and made some sort of odd, low pitched, snarling noise that almost sounded like clicking. The air crackled, a sound often associated with the use of magic, and the distortion began to fill in with color. Within seconds, He found himself staring dumbfounded at the mage, known as Mylan, as he de-cloaked like the freaking Predator. If they had some means of areal transportation, he would be screaming to get to it right about now.
"Oh, sorry about that. I keep forgetting that nobody can understand me, while I have my distortion spell active." The mage stopped when he saw the blank look of horror on the spearman's face. "What?"
Still clutching at her chest in terror, Phyress leveled a deadly glare at the Viking. "I swear to the gods, if you ever sneak up on me like that again, I will kick you." Cromm looked genuinely apologetic (not easy when you're a bush with eyes). Phyress was about to ask why the hel he was dressed like that, when she stop and smelled the air. "Why in the gods, does it smell like a cat box around here?"
"Aye, sorry about that lass. Cougar pee does tend to smell a little strong." He said. Suddenly his face lit up a little "But on the bright side, we did-"
"No, no, no, we're not going to act like this is normal" Celes interrupted "This is the part of the conversation, where we acknowledge you guys having cougar urine."
"Is he going to be okay?" Mylan asked, and jerked a thumb at Lawfer. Everyone turned to the young spearman.
"It uses the jungle…" He whimpered, staring longingly at the tip of his own spear.
"…Riiight… So what's the deal with you guys?" Phyress asked "Not that I'd put it past Hrist to pick the real 'winners' of the lot. But this…" he gestured to the pedo-stached Viking in camo "this isn't normal."
"They're the ones who were lost in the woods with Arngrim." Celes sighed, and continued to rub her temples "Please, do not ask about it." She warned. Phyress raised an eyebrow. "Are you kidding me? Now I have to ask. Arngrim won't even talk about it." She turned to them. "So did you guys really spend a whole year in the Forest of Woe?"
"9 months-" Mylan said "-24 days" Cromm finished. Phyress couldn't help but notice the slightly deadened look in their eyes. Usually she'd only see that look on battle hardened warriors, who were asked to recall the worst battle they'd ever been in. Now she was really had to know. "You all made it out together. So you didn't have to eat each other obviously. So… what, did you guys live off the plants or something?"
"Are you kidding? Everything growing in that place was poisonous. And what wasn't poisonous…" Mylan shivered. Cromm spoke up; when he noticed that Mylan obviously didn't want to go on. "Tha ones that weren't poisonous were tryin to hunt us."
"That's ridiculous. Plants don't hunt."
"R-Ridiculous!" Mylan cried "Ridiculous is watching a hippo get eaten by a Venus Fly Trap, the size of a stage coach! Ridiculous is seeing an elk get dragged up a tree, like-" he quieted when Cromm put a large hand on his shoulder, and gave him a reassuring pat. "It's okay lad. Just remember what we learned in group therapy."
"You're right, your're right…" Mylan took deep breath and continued. "To answer your question, we had a bit of a rough start. We didn't know how to hide from other larger animals, so whenever we tried to hunt for something… well… they'd hunt back. So, until we had finally figured out ways to hide ourselves" he gestured to Cromms Camo "We had to get a little creative…"
XxX Forest of Woe XxX
A fast moving stream cuts through the lush forests like a white jagged scar. The sounds of the wilds were drowned out by the steady roar of moving water, as creatures of all shapes and sizes came to drink from the only safe source of water that remained, ever available, to all who were brave enough.
No one could deny its beauty, the small 1 to 3 foot waterfalls that dotted the river kept an ever present spray of white mist in the air. Much like the rest of the forest, this too teemed with life as hundreds of fish swam against the current, on their yearly trek to where they may breed and start the entire cycle all over again.
Cromm, Mylan, and Roderick, huddle around Arngrim as the 4 sit near the edge of the water. The mercenary holds a make shift fishing pole, which is nothing more than a long stick and a bootlace, with the hopes of catching an easy meal. The 4 have obviously seen better days. Half-starved, their clothes are dirty, and reduced to rags that give them an almost feral look. Roderick is sporting a massive poison ivy rash on most of his skin, and Cromm is covered in bee stings. Mylan was faring the worst however, as he was showing the early signs of malaria.
Arngrim, possibly because he was the most experienced in the outdoors, was probably faring the best. He was only covered in dozens of tiny scratch marks (the result of a bad run-in with an angry badger), so thus, had been put in charge of holding the makeshift fishing pole.
"We need sumthin to go with tha fish. Maybeh we shoulda looked fer some potatoes to fry." Cromm said, as he licked his chops, and stared over the mercenaries shoulder. "or some coleslaw! Ohhh coleslaw would hit tha spot lads!"
"…cook it with some lemon… and, and some garlic! Definitely need some garlic…" Rod said, as he furiously scratched at various parts of his body.
Mylan seemed intent on making tartar sauce out of grass, and mud. His new spin on the original recipe was probably a result of the heavy fever he was running at the moment.
The poles jerked, and everyone snapped to. Arngrim carefully pulled the fish in with surgeon like skill. Everyone else was practically bouncing behind him.
"No lad, ya have to reel it in! Use the reel!" The fact that their fishing pole was nothing more than a stick and a string, thus having no reel, was not lost on the mage. Mylan shot Cromm a sideways glance. "so… stupid… must… insult…." The mage looked within himself to find the strength and determination to say what needed to be said.
"Oh gods, we should have made a reel! Why didn't we make a reel?" Rod cried as he slapped his forehead with one hand, and continued scratching himself with the other.
Heroically, Mylan tried to lift himself, but ultimately failed and slumped back to the ground. "too… tired… to be snide." He said in defeat.
"shhhhh" Arngrim shushed and continue to pull in his catch. He might have been defusing a medieval nuke, with the caution and focus he put into his work. And finally, after what felt like an eternity, he lifted his bootstring to reveal that he had indeed caught a fish.
They cheered. The fish was no bigger than an ordinary pet goldfish, and would by no means feed anyone of them, let alone all 4. But they didn't care. To them it was the bottle of water to a man dying of thirst, the cavalry charging over the hill to save them all. It was their salvation.
Suddenly, a much larger fish jumped out of the water and swallowed their Meal. The weight of their interloper proved too much for the poorly constructed stick-string fishing rod and snapped it in half. Pulling most of the rod, the fish, and the last shred of their hopes into the water.
"NOOOOOO!" The Viking cried, as he fell to the ground. Roderick was busy stomping a small daisy into the ground, pausing only to scratch himself, he vowed that if he has to die then he's gonna take as much nature with him as possible. Mylan, without the energy to do much else, was saving time by lying on the ground and getting himself acclimated to the 'being dead' position.
Arngrim stared at the small chunk of stick left in his hand, defeated. Having traveled worlds, defeated things that only lurked in nightmares, stood at the…
Something caught his attention.
A large grizzly bear sat lazily near the edge of one of the drops in the water. This made a tiny waterfall where trout would be forced to jump out and over the edge, to continue whatever journey they had. He watched as the bear focused on the water below with single minded intent, and waited. After a few seconds, a sizable trout made a blind leap, only to find itself flying right into the mouth of the bear.
"Guys…" he said as the bear happily devoured his meal "I think I got an idea…"
"Well that's not so bad." Phyress said "So you guys caught jumping fish with a… net, or something?" She looked at the Viking/bush "Probably caught them with your mouths." She concluded.
Mylan shook his head and almost laughed "Don't be silly, that would have…" He stopped and tilted his head as he gave it some thought. "that… would have been an excellent idea."
"Safer too." Cromm agreed.
Phyress gave the two an incredulous look. "You're kidding… What, are you going to tell me that you guys managed to steal fish from a Grizzly Bear?"
"No! …but that also would have been much easier." Mylan said, suddenly angry at himself for having not seen the much more obvious plans.
"Safer too" Cromm repeated
The large 900 pound Grizzly Bear, sat near the edge of one of the tiny waterfalls and licked its massive paws, savoring the last bits of savory trout and continued to wait. It had decided that it would call it a day with one more. The majestic creature's attention was brought back to the water in front of it as he saw something move, just beneath the surface. The bear waited.
What came out of the water was no fish though. Arngrim all but exploded right out of the water, like some sort of suicidal man-shark. The former mercenary wrapped his hands around the Bears neck, which was easily the width of his waist, and put all of his weight into pulling it down.
Being that the predator was a little over 4 times his size; it teetered over the edge but managed to stand its ground. The only thing saving Arngrims's life was the fact that it needed its two front paws to stabilize itself. As soon as it regained its balance, the huge creature was going to proceed with operation 'damn nature, you scary!' on him. Unfortunately for him, it was at that moment that a Viking slammed into its back at a full tilt sprint, sending all three, tumbling end over end, into the water below.
There was a few moments of nothing, when suddenly Arngrim and Cromm came tearing out of the water.
"Wait till the bubbles stop lad, WAIT TILL THE BUBBLES STOP!"
Using their arms to hold the bear under, they used the chaos of the moment to dodge its blind swipes. Right about that second, the air was filled with the sound of even more splashing as Rod and Mylan came screaming in from either sides of the river. The mage dragged the largest stick he could carry, while Roderick held a coconut sized rock over his head.
"Stop! Just stop right there. I don't want to hear anymore, I'm sorry I asked." Phyress said, unable to hide the horror in her voice. Something suddenly dawned on her "And where the heck is that Rod guy anyway?" she asked and started poking a nearby shrub with her bow, expecting it to say 'ow'. The Viking laughed.
"No lass, he's in tha tree over there." The young looking woman looked to the tree he pointed to. With perfect eyesight, she looked and… saw nothing. "Where? I don't see him." Though if the other two were any indication, there was probably a good reason. Mylan cleared his throat, "He's near the top."
Phyress looked where he said, carefully scoping every branch… "I still don't see him. Is he hiding behind that large bird…" she stopped, leveled a look at the two "He is bird, isn't he?"
Sure enough, the bird suddenly pulled back its beak and head to reveal a smiling, sandy haired young man. "Of course he is…" Phyress deadpanned. "Alright you guys, we've got work to do…" she stopped when Cromm cleared his throat. "What?" she groaned.
"We wer tryin to tell ya lass, we already took care of the Wargs!" Celes gave them a look that told her doubt, of the last part of his statement. "Did you now? Then tell me why I still see them out there." The Viking smiled brightly.
"Well you see, we…" he stopped. Suddenly he looked distracted as he gazed out over the fields like he'd just heard something. Oddly enough, Mylan and Roderick were doing the same (though they couldn't see Rod as he was up in a tree). Celes gave Cromm a suspicious look "What is it? Do you feel something?" she asked, trying to gage the man.
"err, uh…" the large man sputtered for a second, then looked to the mage as he shook his head, giving Cromm a subtle 'no'. "Err, nothing lass, nothing…" The large man dismissed. Celes didn't buy it for a second. "As we were sayin, we took care of the Wargs. I went out and poisoned their food!"
Phyress, whom like her sister, didn't miss the odd phenomena also gave them a dubious look. "You did?"
"Yup" Mylan said "And I went out and put the scent of cougars around the whole area. It's a little trick we learned in the forest. Wherever cougars marked their scent, animals tend to stay away." he said. Though it still sounded insane, it at least explained why he was carrying cougar urine. However, this also raised a whole lot of other questions such as; How does one milk a cougar of its urine? And, does he wash his hands before touching anything?
"Yup, and mah little buddy up there" Cromm pointed up at the tree "went around putting signs up, so everybody would be warned about the problem!" he said happily.
"you're kidding…" Phyress said, and looked through her magnifier. Sure enough, the corrupted wolves that were lounging about on full bellies were now just lying there, presumably dead. And a few of the late comers were now sniffing the air, the hair on their backs raised and suddenly they took off, heading back in the direction that they came. If she'd looked near the road, she would have seen the parchments that had been nailed to the tree of crude drawings of stick figure people being eaten by stick figure dogs.
Phyress gave a snort of approval, they were probably lunatics, but they worked well together at least. She handed the small telescope to Celes who also gave her own hum of approval. "Huh… Good job, I guess. But I know that you felt something just now, so we need to discuss…" she looked around. They were gone. Both sisters looked up at the tree, to see if they could see Roderick, but like the others he had simply vanished.
Like a fart in the wind…
"He can't possibly fly in that bird getup, can he?" Phyess asked as she looked around in the sky. It seemed impossible, but at this point she wouldn't doubt it.
"I honestly wouldn't know… But did you see what I saw?"
"Yah I saw it. They heard a Valkyrie's call… It can only mean one thing: Hrist is in Midgard again." Phyress turned to look at her sister "Do you want me to try to track them?" Celes looked thoughtful of the question.
"…No… If they survived the Forest of Woe, then they definitely know how to cover their own tracks. I daresay we are outmatched in the field of stealth." She continued to look for something, anything out of the ordinary, but she saw nothing. "We have to call a gathering. We have much to discuss." She said. But oddly enough, as serious as the moment was, Celes found herself smirking. "I think that the HappyCheese restaurant will still be open. We can set up a meeting ground there." Phyress bristled.
"I hate that place…" she muttered.
"Oh, come now." Her sister said in a soothingly evil voice "you get a little prize with every HappyCheese Meal! And they even have that little lemonade bar, so it's like everyone can have adult drinks." She said happily. Phyress shot her a withering glare. "I killed you once already… I'll do it again if I have to." She said menacingly, causing Celes to grin even more.
Phyress had finally died at the well weathered age of 58. So naturally, being able to come back as a younger version of herself was a definite perk of being an Einherjar. However, in retrospect, she realized that she probably should've picked an age a little older than 17. While others were dealing with problems like; corruption of the land, and trying to keep peace in the few remaining populations on Midgard, Phyress's biggest plight was trying to convince the bouncer let her into the bar with her fake ID. And it just so happened that Phyress led most of their more important missions as she was one of the most capable field agents in existence. She pretty much had to sit in on every meeting they had.
So the end result was that most of the Einherjar had grown accustomed to planning, the future survival of the human race, next to a ball pit full of 9 year olds.
Not far from where they stood a Viking sized anthill, an oversized Gofer, and a trick of the light moved away from them, answering a call that only they could hear.
Hrist Valkyrie regained consciousness, in a manner that was not unlike what most pot smokers' experience: Confused, a little dazed, and hungry. The last one was by far the most noticeable. But that shouldn't be; Valkyries don't eat. Did they? Without trying to move, she called upon the light of the Divine tree, only to find darkness. There was nothing there. Still feeling a little queasy, she opened her eyes and saw the setting sun behind the bars of a slavers cage.
She had hoped that the entire ordeal had been some bad hallucination. However, unlike Arngrim, Hrist never seemed to be that lucky. Well, at least she had dealt with the slavers. That's got to count for something, right? The voices of the captives that she rescued earlier, began to fill her ears.
"Oh! I think she's waking up."
"Is she ok?"
"Give her some water."
Hrist felt hands try to help her up, and she swatted them away. She wasn't going to let anyone help her like some kind of invalid. Without her connection to the tree she didn't have much, but she'd be damned if she was going to surrender her pride as well. The fallen Goddess soon found herself being the attention of about a dozen and half sets of curious eyes.
"You all would do well to keep your hands off of me." She warned darkly. Her statement left no misunderstanding that death was close at hand. All who knew her would immediately back off and give the volatile woman a wide berth. However, the problem was that nobody here actually did know her.
"Oh gods, thank you so much for saving us! We don't know what we would have done without you!" one of them said and threw her arms around her. Hrist instantly winced, as she found herself on the end of an all-out attack of affection. Kind of like Unholy Magic, she found that she had no defense against the absolute violation of every one of her personal boundaries.
"Get off of me!" she barked, but no one was listening.
One time, her journeys had taken her to the Far East, just below the equator. It was in the flat plains that she saw a powerful wildebeest get dragged down by an entire pride of lions. The quarter of a ton animal never stood a chance as its predators attacked it from every angle. Each one of them ensuring its demise as it was dragged under, in a sea of teeth and claws.
Hrist Valkyrie now sympathized for that creature, as more and more of the girls threw their arms around her, barraging her with endless questions and thank-yous. She would have tried to make a break for it, but as soon as she stood the youngest of the mortals, probably 5 or 6, had attached herself to her leg like a parasite.
And this was it… She had always imagined that things would come to an end in glorious combat. That the very whisper of her name would bring chills to the armed forces of entire nations. Never once, did she see herself being defeated by the power of… love, and appreciation.
The night had brought with it, the peaceful silence of slumber as the girls had finally fallen asleep. They pulled over, next to an abandoned farm house, and used its spacious barn as shelter for the night. In all honesty, she would have rather kept on pushing through the night, but their mule needed to rest.
It was unsurprising to see that the men of the Braxton fort neglected their animals. Hrist knew little of farm animals, but even she could recognize the signs of malnourishment. Needless to say, their beast was far happier under its new management as he was fed, and then found himself the star of a one mule petting zoo.
Hrist stood near the barn door, keeping an ever vigilant eye for anything that might pose a danger to them. The Valkyrie within her, her sense of duty, told her to leave them. She had to seek out the others and find out what had happened.
Think like a Valkyrie.
Her own words to Silmeria, echoed back at her. Every moment she spent watching over them, was a moment wasted. They were a burden, and she had a mission that she needed to complete. Her warriors might very well be dead for all she knew, the mission beyond salvaging.
Think like a Valkyrie.
Her jaw clenched
What the hell was that even supposed to mean? The last time she thought like a Valkyrie, she nearly killed their greatest hope for saving Midgard. She followed her orders so blindly that she nearly lost everything that ever meant anything to her. But what was she supposed to do then? Her duty was all she ever knew…
Hrist looked down, and saw that the youngest of the mortals was still attached to her leg. She looked at the little girl, like someone would probably look at a large tumor, and gave her leg a quick shake. She sighed when she held tight. Like an actual tumor, getting rid of her was proving to be difficult. All the little parasite did was stared up at her happily.
"Why do you stare at me so?"
"Because, she can sense that you're a good person."
Hrist's attention was brought a dark shape in the shadows. It was the farmer girl. Her name was… Amy if the goddess remembered correctly. She looked to be somewhere in her mid-teens, red hair. She had the look of a tomboy, as she wore a field hand's outfit. Her family had been killed, when their farm was overrun by the sea of dead. Like most of the other farms, they were situated outside of the walls, and were the first to be attacked.
They had no warning.
"Then I must question the young one's judgment." She said. Amy didn't say anything for a moment. She carefully walked to the edge of the barn door that Hrist stood at. The Valkyrie was soon aware, that Amy was giving her an assessing look, trying to gauge her.
"So, are you some kind of soldier, or something? I've never seen anybody fight like that before."
"I am… an agent, of sorts." Hrist paused for a moment, when a breeze rustled the trees outside. Without the ability to sense souls, or anything evil for that matter, she found herself dependent on sight and sound. Something that she was finding to be way harder in practice, than it sounded on paper. After another second, she decided that it was nothing.
"I have been sent on a mission… one that I fear has gone poorly." Poorly was the understatement of the year. Woke to find herself stranded, and powerless. Then to wake up to the undead roaming the earth, and hearing that Artolia had been destroyed, in a day, only made things worse. She needed to find some answers.
She needed to know that Arngrim and the others were safe.
"I must get back to it. Immediately." She said, and there was another long moment of silence, and Amy voiced her fear.
"You're not going to leave us… are you?" Hrist looked her in the eye. Amy was unsure of how to react, to the intensity of her gaze.
"It would be in my best interests. I have far more important things to do…" she said, then sighed.
"but… I know that it would be wrong to do so." The farmer found herself relieved.
"Thank you. It's good to see that there's still decent people left in the world. Pa used to tell me that people always forget to follow their gut, and do what's right."
The way she said it caused the Valkyrie to smirk. The instruction to follow the all-knowing, mysterious, and ever present 'gut' sounded like something that Arngrim would say. She resisted the urge to tell her, that her 'gut' was currently telling her to go eat another ration of salted pork, which the Braxton men had left behind.
"What?" Amy asked, as she examined the odd look on her face.
"Nothing. You merely reminded me of someone."
"Did I remind you of Arngrim?" she said scandalously. The mention of his name, made the Valkyrie glare suspiciously at her. "How do you know that name." she demanded.
"You kept saying it in your sleep." The young woman closed her eyes and clasped her hands together. She began to wistfully chant his name, in a tone that Hrist very much decided that she didn't like "Arngrim… oh, Arngrim… Arngrim" she kept repeating it, each time sounding a little more lustfully than the last.
She reserved glares like the one she was currently giving her for special occasions. She grinned cheekily.
"So spill. Who is he? Is he cute? Is he a good lover?" The last part she dragged out, causing the Hrist Valkyrie to turn red.
"We are partners" she said, then turned a darker shade of red "-as in we work together… as friends."
"Uh huh, partners right. And what about that whole 'Oh Arngrim, only you can seed my garden." admittedly, she had made up that last part and found it to be entirely worth it.
The dark maiden sputtered for a few seconds "I-I don't even know what that means!"
There was a soft thud that caused both women to look down. The little girl that had attached herself to Hrist's leg had dropped to the ground, sound asleep. Hrist sneered victoriously at the sleeping child.
"Ha! It was foolish, to think that you could outlast the likes of me." She said, imperiously. Her victory was cut short when she saw the look that Amy was giving her.
"What? I take my victories where I can get them."
About a mile and a half, from the still smoldering remains of Artolia, a sewer drain grate shook with a loud 'pang', which reverberated through the night. From the inside, Arngrim frowned at the metal bars, which only allowed water to seep through. He had been right about following the water, though now he had another obstacle in their way. The bars were way too thick to try and pry off, which caused the former mercenary to groan.
"Well? I wait, with baited breath, to see the next part of your daring rescue." Jelanda huffed from behind him. This caused the large man to peer his head through the bars, and look up to the sky for any storm clouds. If he was lucky, then he'd be able to use his sword as a lightning rod, and put himself out of his own misery.
Alas, the night was clear.
"Get your head back inside of here. I'm not in the mood for your foolishness, and I want to get out of this decrepit sewer!" Arngrim gave an automatic 'yes ma'am' and began to look around the edges, for any weak points, or if luck would permit it, some kind of release.
"I'm waiting." This caused the man to slump his shoulders, then finally turn to face her.
"You know, you're really not helping out our situation here. Just give me a minute here, and I'll think of something, alright?"
"Move!" she pushed out him out of the way and walked up to the inch thick bars of solid iron. "The thought dying from a god awful disease was bad enough, but waiting to die of old age while you think of something is too much." She huffed up to the bars and did her own examination of grating.
Arngrim found himself watching in fascination as she studied the iron for a second, then placed both hands, one on either side, of the grating and began to chant. The air began to crackle, as she spoke in a language he didn't even understand. "Dea frigoris, da mihi virtutem tuam…"
Her eyes began to glow an eerie luminescent blue, as she continued her spell "adhuc corda sua et in furore tuo unleashe…" Arngrim shivered as an arctic wind suddenly assailed him. Then finally she spoke the last word. "FREEZE!"
In a flash of bluish white light, the bars suddenly covered in a layer of frost that was almost a half inch thick. Jelanda staggered back a step, clearly exhausted, Arngrim managed to catch her by the shoulders before she might have fallen over.
"You okay?" He asked. She gave a nod then pointed at the bars. "I've weakened the bars. You should be able to break them." The mercenary nodded, he stepped up to the frosty grate and proceeded to live out every adult male's dream.
With a swift kick, Arngrim shattered an inch of solid iron like it ain't no thang.
"Heh" he grunted with a smirk, feeling particularly manly at the moment. "That was pretty cool." He said, and turned to the young princess. "Get it? I said it was cool because you free-"
"I get it, you moron!" she cut him off. Arngrim sighed then deflated a little. Sometimes, he felt like women just didn't understand the fine art of awesome punning.
Seriously, what would the world be like without awesome puns or one-liners?
Xx world without puns xX
The town's Constable steps into the aftermath of a chaotic scene. A once peaceful bakery is left in absolute shambles, as flour, and broken baking utensils are left strewn about a once clean kitchen. In the center of the room is a dead body, the scene of a terrible murder. A window is shattered and has glass everywhere, near the center lies a brick with a note attached it.
The Constable soon hears footsteps approaching; he looks up to see another investigator. The two greet each other and soon get down to business.
"Neighbors reported that baker here owed a substantial amount to the local crime syndicate." The news causes the constable to shake his head. He reaches into his pocket as he speaks to his fellow investigator.
"I guess you could say…" He pulls out a pair of sun shades and puts them on "that the baker didn't have the prerequisite amount of OTH to pay." (YEAAA-...oh wait)
Arngrim shivered. Quite frankly, that was a world that he didn't want to live in…
Together they stepped out of the sewer, and into the clean night air. Arngrim helped the princess down, and they took in their surroundings. They were about a mile south of Artolia and seemed to be alone, at least for the moment anyway.
Arngrim turns to her voice. Jelanda looks at the massive pillar of smoke that was once Artolia. Fires still raged, giving an orange ambient glow to the air. To Arngrim, it was like looking at the world through hel colored glasses. The now former Princess takes a numb and involuntary step towards the destruction.
"This can't be right…" The young woman turns to the Einherjar. Under the soft orange glow, her skin looks pale.
"Where are we? This can't be Artolia! You have to tell me where we are!"
Somebody once told Arngrim that people go through 5 stages of grief, whenever they die or lose something dear to them. To be honest, it was something that he was far more familiar with than he ever cared to admit. Being a mercenary meant giving a lot of good people, a lot of bad news. A quarter of his jobs that he was hired for were search and rescue. Some poor bastard would go out into the wood, or make a trip to go trade with another town and never return.
Arngrim didn't like those jobs. Sometimes you get lucky and find them in time. Fight off the monster, or bandits, or whatever, and return them home.
Unfortunately, more often than not, you'd only find their remains.
"Tell me where we're at!" Jelanda demanded. Arngrim lowered himself to meet her eye to eye. He spoke gently, though remaining resolute in his words.
"This is Artolia kid. The city' been destroyed, and your father died trying to buy people as much time as he could for them to escape… I'm sorry kid."
Denial was the hardest stage to get through. Arngrim hated himself at the moment, but he had be careful not to give the girl false hope. He had to be direct, leave no room for anything but the truth.
"NO! Artolia wouldn't just die like this! This isn't true, we have an army!" She tore away from him and looked back to the massive pillar or smoke. "We have an army…" she said sadly. Arngrim said nothing, allowing her to see it for herself. For a long moment, nothing was said as they stood there in the night. Arngrim could never know what was going through her head for that long moment of silence. He guessed he didn't want to know. Finally she turned to him, tears of pain and fury streamed down her face. Jelanda was angry.
"Why? Who would do something like this? What did we ever do to anybody to deserve this?"
"I don't know kid… Sometimes these things just happen."
Arngrim truly hated himself at the moment, but it was the only answer he had. The only conclusion he could offer, was the one that he himself had drawn from his travels. The world wasn't fair. Good people, honest good people, were often turned to victims for being in the wrong place and time. How the hell do you tell someone who hasn't ever seen it with their own eyes? What could honestly be said to someone who literally just watched their entire life get turned to ash?
"I have money." She said "I'll give you everything I have." She said as her voice cracked "There has to be something that you can do. Somebody that you know." She said, trying to bargain with him. Arngrim's heart broke, as he watched the last shreds of her composure began to break.
"Please do something…"
"I'm sorry kid. Even if I could do something, it's already too late. Everybody's dead."
Her eyes sparkled further in grief and sorrow; slowly she sank to her knees. The mercenary put his arms around the depressed young girl. Quietly, she sobbed into his shoulder and Arngrim honestly wished that there was something that he could do for her. People had to find their own way out of their depression. They needed some purpose, or maybe some goal to live for.
When life no longer has meaning, it could be almost considered a cancer. If left alone, it will eat destroy a person from the inside out.
"C'mon pr-…Jelanda." She didn't need any more reminders of what she had just lost "we have to keep moving. We won't last long if they find us here."
"What happens now?" she asks. "What am I supposed to do now? I don't know how to survive on my own." Arngrim was about to tell her that the only thing she could do was to keep moving forward. It was cheap advice, but it was the best that he had.
"…Come with me." Jelanda looked up to the man. Arngrim could see the question in her eyes. To be honest, it was the same question he was asking himself at the moment. Even if she no longer had a kingdom, to leave her alone was almost asking for someone to kidnap her, in the hopes of ransoming her. He honestly didn't think that leaving her alone with the other refugees would be a good idea. However, Hrist was back, he could feel it in his blood. Maybe she would know what to do. Jelanda already proved herself to be a capable healer, who knew what other spells she knew.
Sure she was a little too soft for the open road, but she could learn. He didn't think that she'd be dead weight, or become a burden on them.
"Come with me." He repeated "I'm about to go meet up with my boss. Maybe we can get back at whoever did this." She wiped the tears from her eyes, and looked up at him.
"What about my kingdom?
The promise of vengeance was a poor goal to live for, but it was better than resolving herself to waste away. None the less, it was reason to get up in the morning and face the new tomorrow.
"Alright" she said with saddened acceptance. "I'll go with you." She felt a large and callused hand on the side of her face.
"Don't worry kid. Things suck now, but it'll look better in the morning."
"…Do you mean that?"
To everyone who still reads this, i just wanna say thank you. You're so patient, and that's something that i truly appreciate. Trying to write a humorous story is hard to do, when you're finalizing a divorce.
But on the bright, S.A.B.I now comes with action-alimony-payments to supplement her meager income. :D So I'm sticking it to the man, almost literally!
And this has also lead me to make a major adjustment to the future of this wonderful little distraction, i so lovingly call a story. At first, i had only intended for this to be sort of friendship thing, with loads of sexual tension. (kind of like a large episode of the Xfiles) Now however, I've decided to make this a full blown romance fic. Worry not though, there is a LOT of fun, and laughs, to be had with something like this. Just because my love life sucks, doesn't mean that theirs has to as well.
Side note: I had intended to do a parody of the Shawshank Redemption for Arngrim's and Jelanda's escape from the sewers, but it didn't really pan out. so meh
Next Chapter: Reunion Tour
Suggestions are always welcome, so gimme a shout!