The dust of battle had just settled over the land, and yet the young Valkyrie
Gwendolyn could not find peace. After the events of the previous day, she had become weary of combat. Having watched her sister's life leave her body while in the final moments of glory had left her more than a bit shaken. To stand up tall before her father was one of the only things that kept the young warrior moving forward. She often fantasized about hearing him tell her how much she had grown as a Valkyrie. To hear him say how honored he was to have her as his daughter.
Now was not only her chance to prove herself, but to be the best daughter the King could ever hope for.
'The best daughter,' Gwendolyn thought as she prepared her bag for the journey ahead. Food was an essential for any journey, though she rarely ate enough of it while traveling. Raging through battle after battle left one with little time to appreciate the smaller things in life, let alone a good meal.
"My my. You're already being sent off another errand, Princess? And I had just prepared a meal for you."
Gwendolyn packed one last loaf of bread, and closed her sack. The voice that had usually came through which such warmth now only proved to be an annoyance to her.
"I'm hunting a witch, Myris. There is very little time for meals."
Turning to the Pooka, the two couldn't look anymore different. Gwendolyn stood over the woman like an elegant beacon, while Myris couldn't help but look exactly like what she was. Myris had the appearance of a humanoid rabbit, ears and all. Her brown fur covered every inch of her body with exception to where it grew white around her face. Gwendolyn's white hair and pale human skin had often made Myris quite envious, though she would never lead on to it.
"Ahhhh…" Myris looked her up and down. "I may not be a high-ranked Valkyrie, Princess, but I can tell when a woman is trembling. Take a few moments to slow down and collect."
Gwendolyn noted how calm she always sounded. How collected. In comparison, she must have seemed like an ignorant little girl. She looked down to the floor, not quite sure what to say. If she were to let a single moment escape, it could mean the difference between catching the Witch she had sworn to hunt or disgracing herself before her father.
"Myris," Gwendolyn jumped off the floor and clipped the pack to her side. "I'm sorry. I'm sure it is delicious, but I simply don-"
Suddenly, Gwendolyn felt herself become tipsy. "I…" she shook her head. "The Witch is on the move. If I don't track her down she could be hiding anywhere. Somewhere where I will never be able to find her, and then…" She fell into silence. "I can't risk that. You know that I can't."
"In order to serve your Father, in many ways you must first serve yourself, Princess." Myris pulled up a chair and gazed at the meal she had prepared. Though she did not cook it herself, she knew that the Pooka chefs in the village were masters of their art. Every meal had magical qualities, specifically traced to keep the diner nourished and content in both body and spirit. "It will only take but a little while."
Gwendolyn finally heaved a sigh, and fell into her own chair, barely having the strength to pull it up to the table. She noted that by the time the foods effects would be allowed to take hold, the Witch may have already slipped well beyond her grasp. It was like a nightmare that she couldn't escape from. No matter where she was, all she could see was the Witch. Her blond hair and red robes taunting her.
Regardless of her reservations, the food was delicious. After a single bite, her stomach growled with delight.
"I suppose you don't realize just how hungry you are until you've had your first bite." Her trembling did not stop. "Perhaps you were right, Myris. You always seem to be right."
There meal continued in silence as Gwendolyn took an entire leg off the chicken and began biting into it eagerly. Myris wished she could stay for the entire night, leaving her Father to deal with whatever dangerous mission she swore herself to. Myris' ears flopped downwards as she studied Gwendolyn. The poor girl never knew when to give it a rest unless she was told.
"So," Myris broke the silence. "Is there anything you wish to tell about this Witch?"
Gwendolyn stopped in mid-bite, putting her chicken leg down slowly. "She is the enemy of this country." Gwendolyn closed her eyes and bit her bottom lip lightly. Myris knew that expression. She was hiding something from her. "I'm sorry, but that is all there is to tell. The rest is between the King and his soldiers."
Gwendolyn took her last bite, thus excusing herself from the table. "I believe that will be enough. I shall be taking my leave now, Myr-"
Stopping in her tracks, turning to the Pooka one last time. "I care for you like a daughter. So I shall say this much, if you will let me."
Gwendolyn nodded in response.
"Your service to the King is important, I understand. But do try to take care of yourself. You-" Myris stopped herself for but moment, until her ears stiffened with resolve. "I care for you more than you will ever know. To lose you wo-"
Gwendolyn's expression was suddenly filled with sympathy. To hear such words spoken from one of her servants was must uncustomary. There bond had gone much farther than their titles would have ever suggested. "Myris, I care for you as well. As much as a Princess could ever care for a servant. My heart goes out to you in your worry, but…" She shook her head. "You are not my mother, nor will you ever be."
Feeling as thought she had just let loose an arrow into Myris' chest, Gwendolyn left. The last thing she needed was to worry about whether she tromped over a servant's feelings. It would just be another weight upon her consciousness.
Mryis' ears flopped as she found herself alone in the Princess's chamber. Walking slowly to the dishes as if dragged down by heavy chains, she gathered the dishes and prepared the wash. The Princess hadn't finished her meal. She hadn't even let it rest.
"Gwendolyn." Her voice no longer shined with warmth. "Gwen-", her voice cracked as her emotions got the better of her. "Couldn't you stay for one more bite?"
It had been a long night without her company. After a mere hour, everything within Gwendolyn's chamber had been cleaned over nearly three times, and Myris just couldn't find the heart to go over it a fourth. The Princess hardly stayed still for longer than a moment these days, and her living quarters reflected this. Everything was always in order and exactly where it needed to be due to Myris' arrangement.
Gwendolyn had grown much differently than Myris could have ever expected. She did not harden in the way that she expected a Valkyrie would. In fact, she only seemed to become more fragile as time went on. She had always spoke of nothing else but her father and her duty to the throne, never managing to make a life for herself. Myris thought that she looked ragged, as though she had worn herself down to the very bone.
Yet, somehow, people spoke of her as if she were a great warrior. That wasn't the Gwendolyn she knew. The Gwendolyn she knew looked as though her flame flickered close to being snuffed out.
Deciding to take a risk and lay on the Princess's bed, Myris rested her head against the luxurious pillows. Looking about the chamber, she reminded herself that in many ways her work was easy. While the Princess went about her duties, all she had to do was be her support. Be her 'lady in waiting' as the title so bluntly put it. Unlike other servants who had to clean and scrub over every single tile that had managed to get muddied, she barely had to do any cleaning at all. On most days she was just able to go about doing nothing of any real circumstance. She had even managed to find time in the days to write stories. In fact, she had written so many that there were times when she wondered if she should ever consider letting anyone other than Gwen read them.
How Gwen loved her stories. Especially as a child.
Many hours had passed. The sun began to rise, yet Myris was incapable of capturing a wink of sleep. There had been some nights when she was able to sleep without a care for hours, even as Gwendolyn rode off into battle. Then there were the days where she was stricken with worry. On those days, sleep was a blessing.
Her ears jolted upright as she heard a figure enter the room.
Leaping from the bed with a tender ease, she returned back to the role that Gwen had known so well. The caring mother figure that would always be there for her no matter what happened. Myris' eyes softened as she gave herself a welcoming posture. After such a rigorous journey, Gwendolyn would no doubt be pleased to find her home as warm and inviting as ever.
However, the figure who strode forward was not Gwen.
Myris' eyes widened to find one of the castle guard stride into her chamber. The woman held an air of sorrow as she knelt forward.
The guard's words became lodged in her throat. Once they came forward, Myris did not hear any words. All she was capable of doing was feeling. As the guard left her, Myris fell to the floor with grief.
She was never one to cry. Though that morning, she let the tears flow. "Gwen-" she sobbed.
"Gwendolyn was the finest Princess that a kingdom could ever ask for. Having been there for her, and having tended to her every need, I can say that with complete honesty. Never had she shown even the slightest bit of temper with her peers, nor did she treat those servants around her with any disrespect. She was…" Myris had once again become lost for words. "She was perfect. Absolutely perfect. One of the most perfect individuals I had ever met."
After a days rest, Myris was finally able to find her voice again. Though her emotions pulsed inside her, she had managed to keep her tears in check. Speaking on the part of her Princess, before an audience which included much of Gwendolyn's colleagues and father, she had to be strong. She had to fill her voice with the warmth she no longer had.
Now was the time to share it.
"As I watched Gwendolyn flourish into the young woman she had become, I often found myself with more than a bit of free time." She attempted a smile, but stopped it halfway. Her voice grew solemn. "I wrote her stories, but there was always one in particular that she enjoyed. She would ask me to read it every night when she was a child. I had made Gwendolyn the main character in an attempt to keep her interest. I had…" She chuckled lightly, distracting herself from an oncoming tear avalanche. "… I had called her character Gwendolyn the Fierce. I had hoped that it would give her inspiration as she grew older and fulfilled her role as a Valkyrie under her Father, our King Odin. It is short, and if it would please your majesty, I would like to share it with you all today."
After a few moments of deadly silence, the King nodded his head slowly in agreement. Taking a deep breath in, Myris opened the book with such care that one would figure she feared it crumbling within her own hands.
As she read, her warmth came back. If only for those moments, she sounded exactly as she had while she looked after her Gwendolyn. Though the story was silly, by its conclusion, she wasn't the only one crying.
This is my attempt at what I would call a "one day/one shot". The story took me only a few hours to do, and considering how short it is, I'm quite pleased with the results.
Myris is such an interesting character that I just couldn't help but take a jab at doing a story that is all about her. I'm hoping that I did her some justice.
Odin Sphere is a super awesome game with super awesome graphics and super awesome writing, so I look forward to making more little fan-fics off of it in the near future. This is sort of a hellva way to start out, at least in my mind, so I'll have to come up with something really interesting for the next round.
Gimme some real honest feedback if you can. An author never grows if he is force fed nothing but the positive. If you've got any problems or suggestions for how this story could have been improved, feel free to voice them.