As a warrior of Valhalla, we are raised to enjoy pain. We welcome it, not fear it. As a child my brother and I often fought on the grassy knoll outside the village. Thrusting wooden swords at each other, hacking and slashing wildly, we rarely quit until exhaustion kicked in. We would come home to mother, covered in bruises with bloodied noses. The only time she became upset, was if the blood stained our fur lining that she had recently traded for. As we grew older, wood changed to Damascus blades and forged steel. We carried stifling shields that off set our stance. We swung wildly – channeling our inner berserker.
Although I showed no visual signs of distress to my tormentor, inside I was wondering how much more of this I could take. My once ox-like body dangled frivolously from the ceiling. Men who were once smaller and weaker than I, now seemed to tower over me. Punishing my torso day in, day out with whatever they could get their hands on – I was almost defeated. Unable to understand the language, they kept uttering something about a “Christ God” and referred to me as a “Pagan”. I know not what these words mean, but they seem to refer to me as an animal. Perhaps “Pagan” is animal.
When my chains gave slack, I am hoisted tight again. The men seem obsessed about my body being shaped in the form of a cross. They laugh as my arms pop from their sockets. My wrists bleed as much as my face and body from the constant adjusting of this “Christ” position.
The worst part about dying from torture is not the torture itself, it’s the fear of not being able to enter Valhalla. Without a sword in hand or dying gallantly in battle, Odin will not open his great hall to me. I will spent eternity in darkness.
The light in the room begins to fade, another night is upon me. Although I admit, was the room darker from night fall, blood in my eyes, or the loss of consciousness. I couldn’t tell anymore. If my time comes, I will let out one final ferocious battle cry, and show these heathens I fear them not.
As suddenly as I sank my head, I heard a commotion outside. I could see sparks in the distance. Swords met metal to metal. The tiny crack in the wall was my only window to the outside world – fighting, lots of fighting. They came flooding into the streets, dozens at a time. The sound was all too familiar, I couldn’t believe my eyes and ears.
With a second wind, a fury began to rage inside me. Shouting at the top of my lungs, letting out my battle cry for all in Valhalla to hear, I pulled heavily on my chains. One side crumbled, and then the other. Freedom. I have passed Odin’s test, he thought me to be weak, but now I am strong.
The door flung open, and there stood Ragnar. My second in my command, my brother.
“We finally found you Lord, we had been looking for days. Most ships were lost, but the men,” he paused “the men survived!”
“My sword, brother!” I beckon as Ragnar tosses me the blade. The cool steel feels fresh against my skin; how I missed thee.
“Come, Ragnar. We have much work to do! It is time for the Christians to meet their end!”