The Fall of Gods and Men

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Writers Rift

Chapter 2 (v.1) - Triena

Submitted: June 26, 2016

Reads: 333

Comments: 8

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Submitted: June 26, 2016

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Kiruna, Sweden

If there was one thing that Triena loved most besides being a cop, it's Sweden. The boundless plains of green, the grandiose snow-capped mountains of unimaginable altitudes—but most of all—the food. She craved the taste of a finely cooked traditional dish, unlike the greasy hotdogs she'd stuff herself with back home in California.

"Goodness, take a chill pill, Triena," her father, Royce, said. "It's not going to turn alive, you know."

Triena realized she was bouncing on the balls of her feet. But no matter how much she tried, her eyes were glued to the authentic souvenir. The Dala Horse was woodworking at its best. Its red paint glistened in the light, adorned with swirls of blue and green.

Triena released another squeal.

The cashier, a burly guy in a Santa costume, simply shook his head and slapped open a magazine, as if he had had enough of overenthusiastic, twenty-nine year old American tourists.

"Ooh, is that a nutcracker?"

"Triena," her mother chided, "we'll miss the tour bus."

She was right. Triena relented, sighing as her mother hauled her into the overstuffed coach. They zipped past lush grasslands and taigas, looking like molten gold in the summer sun. So far, the word fun was the only thing etched into Triena's mind, but now she was starting to doubt it. Being cramped between two dozing backpackers in the back of a bumpy bus was definitely something she would not call fun.

As soon as the bus came to a screeching halt, Triena shot to her feet. When she finally wrestled her way out of the vehicle, her emerald green eyes were twinkling with anticipation. The Lappland Paradise Hotel was a gargantuan brown block, reaching up so high, its peak blotted out the sun. Triena could only stare, her eyes wide as saucers, the crisp Swedish air tickling her open mouth.

"After all your hard work hunting criminals," her mother came up behind her. "You deserve this time off. Oh, my baby, don't cry now."

But silent tears were already making their way down Triena's pale cheeks. She rubbed her face against her mother's sleeveless dress and sniffled, but deep within, she was overjoyed beyond words.

"What is this?" Royce said. "Sirena, did the Police Department cut her wage or something?"

"No, dad," Triena lifted her face. She shared Sirena's mild curls and Royce's blond hue. Her deep emerald eyes were the perfect combination of Sirena's amber ones and Royce's navy ones, their passion merged into a being of their love. Triena beamed a smile and threw her arms around them.

"I couldn't ask for better parents."

"In that case," Royce grinned. "Let's take a look inside."

Chandeliers hung from the mosaic ceiling like supernovas of diamonds, reflecting the dim golden light in a thousand colors. The walls were embossed with hexagonal motives, seemingly shrinking in and out like a kaleidoscope. They came up to the check-in counter. A girl around Triena's age was eyeing her fingernails, her black blazer gleaming like liquid onyx.

"Excuse me," Sirena began, "do you have a room for three?"

"We only have a room with four single beds left," she said with a heavy Swedish accent.

"We'll take it for three nights."

The receptionist handed her a keycard. "Thank you for choosing Lappland Paradise. Enjoy your stay."

"This is awesome!" Triena collapsed on the couch, exhausted. The room was spacious and airy, with four single beds lined in a row and a broad window that emphasized the Swedish landscape.

Triena beamed at the ceiling. Today had been a wonderful cuisine experience. After a bite of nearly every restaurant within a mile radius, her stomach bulged with joy. She sighed and rubbed it contentedly.

Still smiling, Triena hopped to her feet. "I think I'm gonna go take a walk around."

"It's late, are you going to be alright?" Sirena asked, her voice laced with concern.

"I'm going to be fine, mom. Don't worry."

"Don't go too far!"

"Yeah, I got it," Triena walked out the door. "See ya!"

She shut the door and giddily skipped down the vacant, carpeted hallways into the open air. Even in the silence of midnight, she felt no speck of fear. Her black Galantis T-shirt flapped in the cool breeze, her shorts slapping against her thighs. Her sling bag smacked against her swaying hip as she jogged farther away from the hotel.

Triena finally came to a playground. Although she was twenty-nine and an official cop, she plopped herself down on a swing and rocked herself back and forth, her head lifted up to the clear Northern sky.

Triena was tracing the constellations when a sharp crack drew her attention. Her head snapped to the sound, her emerald eyes scrutinizing the shadows with animated motion. She waited, but no sound was to be heard.

Triena shrugged in conclusion. Probably just some random cat.

She was about to continue stargazing when another creak sounded. A shapeless black figure descended the slide across from her, then vanished right before it made contact with the ground.

Frightened by the phantom, Triena stumbled back from the slide. Her phoenix snapped awake within her, alert at the sudden threat.

The shadowy figure glided to the swingset, materializing into the shape of a girl. She was clothed in a white sundress, her petite feet adorned in black ballerina flats. Her hair was a long, black braid that reached her thighs. She would've been cute, if not for her lack of eyes and impossibly pale skin. Blood trickled down her empty sockets.

Triena struggled to get up, but she only seemed to grow heavier as the girl glided closer. Triena's throat was clenched tight. She tried to concentrate to summon her abilities, but her thoughts were scattered and unfocused in her panic.

"I was murdered," the girl rasped in heavy English. "Murdered in my youth. Cursed to haunt these grounds forever!"

Blood was now pouring out violently from her eyeless sockets, staining her sundress. Triena fought to stand, but was unable to move, as if the sand itself was clinging onto her body.

"It hurts," the girl sobbed. "I want my mommy."

"That's enough," a stern female voice said. "You're scaring the daylights out of the kid."

A figure stepped out from the gloom. She was fully dressed in ancient Scandinavian armor, her posture straight and proud. Her curls were like flames, as if she was ablaze from waist-up. Her eyes were a shade brighter than Triena's, shaded by an eagle helmet that concealed her forehead. A scarlet cape swayed soundlessly on her back, rippling in the moonlight like blood.

The ghost girl turned around towards the newcomer. A smug grin crept its way onto her face, and she chuckled silently.

"Why have you come here, chooser of the slain?" Her voice was huskier than ever. "Do you wish to involve yourself in mundane affairs knowing you had become one yourself?"

The redhead made no response. Instead, she remained rooted in her place, her arms crossed, her green eyes glazed with boredom.

"Nobody understands my misery," the ghost girl wailed. "I am alone, with a burden too heavy for me to carry."

She began to float towards the redhead. "I was murdered! Murdered for a sin that was not mine. Murd—"

"And that's why you need to learn how to shut up."

Faster than Triena's eyes could follow, the redhead flicked out a spear as if from thin air. In a split second, the ghost girl was gasping, the weapon ran clean through her abdomen.

"Murderer..." she whispered before disintegrating into a swirl of smoke with a shrill scream.

Released by unseen chains, Triena took huge gulps of breath in relief. The redhead stood, eyeing the vanishing black vapor with a look of disdain. The dying scream of the ghost girl echoed in Triena's head, seemingly magnified twice in the muteness of the night. Triena's lips parted but no words exited them.

"Uh...thanks," she finally said awkwardly. "For, um, saving me."

Striking green eyes snapped to hers. Instantly, Triena regretted opening her mouth. The Viking warrior stared at her in silence, the bronze eagle perched beneath her spear tip seemingly to glower at her with its wings outstretched. The redhead's eyes linger on her for a moment longer, then she sheathed the spear on her back and spun on her heels.

"Wait!" Triena scrambled to her feet as the redhead began to stride away. "Please, wait! My name is Triena and, um, what's yours?"

The redhead froze.

"Why should I tell you mine?" Her voice was calm yet intimidating, spiced with a slight Swedish accent.

Triena gulped. "Because...uh, you're...cool. Yeah, cool! You're awesome and cool. Wait, did I say cool? I mean..." Triena took a deep breath. "You just saved my life and I'm wondering if you're the red version of Wonder Woman or something...?"

The redhead wore a complicated expression, as if she was debating whether to be amused or offended by Triena's remarks. She took a step closer and crossed her arms. "Triena, huh?"

"Yeah, it's Triena. I love my name. My mom—" Triena bit her tongue before she could rant in her anxiety. "So...what's yours?"

The redhead bit her lip hesitantly. "It's Asta."

"Oh. I mean, awesome! I would love to have that name."

For a while, Asta's stern gaze seemed to soften. She stared up to the heavenly hosts. Awkward silence reigned between the two for a good long minute before Triena gathered her guts to speak up.

"So...was that a ghost?"

"What?"

"The girl who attacked me before," Triena said. "Was she a ghost?"

"You can say that," Asta's jaw was tight. "She was a rogue spirit, out to cause mayhem."

Asta's eyes traveled back to hers. The inhumanly bright shade of her eyes was unnerving, her sharp gaze scrutinizing deep into the windows of her soul—pulling out all her secret celebrity crushes and disapproving every single one of them.

Asta peeled her eyes off her as a tiny smile caressed her face. "I knew it."

"Uh oh," Triena gulped. "Okay, I'll say it. I love Dustin Sackrider, alright? Please don't kill me."

"No, it's not that. I knew you aren't human from the start," Asta's sharp glare was back. "Just...what are you?"

"I'm a—" Triena stopped herself. Should she trust this revelation to Asta? Should she disclose this ancestral secret to someone she had only met for a couple of minutes?

Yet...she thought. She saved her life. Judging by her ability to kill a specter, Asta must have been more than a mere mundane as well. And she had known Triena wasn't one with a single glance.

"Okay, I'll tell you, but don't tell anybody," Triena whispered loudly, thrusting her little finger to Asta. "Pinky swear?"

"Pink what?"

"Pinky swear. It's when you—"

"Alright, fine. I'll take whatever this pink swear is. I swear on my blood."

Triena took a deep breath. "I'm a Spiritual Witch."

"And what's that?"

"I'm basically a witch without powers. I came from a family of regular witches and warlocks, but my family's powers skip every two generations, that's why I lack magic. Because of that, I have a Guardian to protect me. In my case, my Guardian's a phoenix."

Asta nodded. "I see."

 "Um…so, what are you? I heard the ghost girl said you’re a chooser of the slain?"

To Triena’s surprise, Asta flashed her a gentle smile. "Choosers of the slain mean Valkyries. We choose the bravest out of those who died in battle to be trained for Ragnarök. I…" Asta briskly turned away, but the sorrow in her voice was unmistakable.

Triena shifted her feet on the sand awkwardly. "I’m sorry."

"Don’t be," Asta’s fingers crept to a cylindrical tube—no, a scroll, Triena realized—that hung at her belt.

"What’s that?"

"None of your business."

"Oh."

Another moment of silence fell between the two. Triena glanced up from her white sneakers to find Asta’s calculating eyes on her. Triena let her golden locks veil her reddening face. "So when can I meet you again?"

"Why would you want to see me again?"

"Because…uh, you’re a Valkyrie, girl! That’s awesome. So next time I would like to interrogate—er, I mean, know you more so we can learn stuff about each other…?"

Triena forced herself to meet Asta’s unwavering stare. She had her chin propped up by her fist, slightly nodding as if Triena was an intriguing specimen. Finally she let her arms drop to her sides. "Fine then. Tomorrow, same time same place."

"But can’t you tell me more about yourself for now? I mean, what else do Valkyries do?"

"Save the questions for later. And besides…" A bemused smile graced Asta’s lips. "I’d go back if I were you."

Triena followed Asta’s gaze over her shoulder and turned around. A man in a beige trench coat was yelling out something, though he was too far for Triena to fathom what it was. As Triena squinted, she realized he was Royce, cupping his hands around his mouth to intensify his shout.

The cool summer breeze carried traces of his voice into Triena’s audible range. "Triena!"

Triena turned back to Asta, but the Valkyrie had gone.

Tomorrow, same time same place.

Triena smiled at the thought and raced towards the forty-year-old warlock.

"What were you thinking?!" Royce snapped but his face was slack with relief. "We thought you lost your way!"

"Am I in trouble?"

"Oh, you most definitely are, young lady," Royce said as they strolled towards the hotel. "Very, very big trouble."

Oh boy, Triena thought. Here we go.

 

 

 

 


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