Trewsday night, 00:35. A star-filled sky hangs above the far realm. The two moons are vibrant thanks in part to the sparse cloud coverage. Low winds keep it chilly and remind all winter is upon them. Temps: -3C/25F lows and 1C/33F highs.
resource block credit goes to miss texas. credit for mini profile goes to bee.
The Valkyrie known as Trish, appointed by the Goddess, Ende, oversees Nicolas's training here in Valhalla. For now she is the only one watching him, but not the only one present. Warriors and Valkyries alike are present in the large training area of the Military Quarters, though they're all too busy to care much for the new recruit. Considering that everyone else here is training for the Nordic Apocalypse, Nic is a bit of an outsider. He's here to prove his worth, and in a fashion true to himself, cares little for this eventual ultimate battle of good and evil.
Still the task at hand would be a lot harder if he had led a less physical lifestyle before he came here. Instead he's comfortable with most of the non-combative exercises, and held his own for a few minutes against his opponent earlier that day in hand to hand. He had no experience, though, compared to the centuries, or even millennia, that the residents of Valhalla had. Now Trish has ordered him to move on to weapon based combat. It took all of thirty minutes for them to decide against the swords, Nicolas lacked a certain finesse.
Before him lies a weapons rack with a mace, and hand axe, and a spear. Nic looks them over carefully, somewhat dragging the action of selecting his next weapon out. His hand gravitates towards the spear momentarily, and he mentally toys with the image of him wielding it in his head. After consideration he picks up the mace. The handle is made of oak, and the head of the mace seems to be some sort of heavy, very solid, metal. It's dotted with inch long spikes. Like any of the other weapons here, it is no toy or practice thing, it is the real deal.
With the mace in hand he turns back to Trish. "Let me get a feel for this sucker first," he says, trying to ward off an instantaneous attack from his trainer. She was aggressive in training, and merciless, but it was something he was noticing as a commonality amongst the Warrior-Women. Lydia, clearly, is the exception. Nicolas swings the mace around, trying to get a feel for the balance of the weapon as well as the physics behind its movements. He locks eye with the Valkyrie and nods his head. "Let's start."
He wastes no more time and charges Trish, He swings the mace high and attempts to bring it down upon her head in a very direct and obvious sort of attack. It's not hard to put his frustration behind the force of his attack. He's not directly displeased by Trish herself... he kind of likes her in a way, but the entire reason he's here is because the forces of the universe like to jack with his life, and he doesn't care for it. True, he chose to come here, but that was mostly him trying to reassert some amount of control over the events that happened.
Trish waits patiently for Nicholas to choose his weapon, silent and still amid the constant noise and movement around her. It’s familiar; it’s home.
Nicholas has yet to find that some sense of belonging here, but she’s aware that he must if he is to become Theone’s champion, and Trish has been put in the position to determine that worth. While she has never deemed to take a champion for herself, she is not so unfeeling as to not wish a small hope that he succeeds, if only for her sister’s sake.
She watches as he deliberates over his choice of the weapons, each of them formidable in their own right. Each with their own strengths and weaknesses. It pleases her to see that he doesn’t rush the decision. A weapon is an extension of its wielder and choosing the wrong weapon could mean certain death. While the sword had clearly been a poor choice for him earlier, he will learn to use it.
He will learn to use all of them by the time she was through with him.
Trish’s face remains neutral when Nicholas’ hand comes to rest on the mace. Her weapon of choice.
Her opinion of Nicholas rises a fraction…
Until he swings it around, and she has to refrain from raising her eyes skyward. He will learn, she reminds herself, like they all do.
Trish barely has time to nod her assent, before Nicholas is charging her, swinging the mace high in an attempt at an attack on her head. His frustration is palpable and his actions both current and future clear to see for anyone with skill in reading an opponent. Smoothly, she side-steps, raising her shield to deflect the blow and uses the momentum to push him past her, just enough that she could have knocked him down with one sharp blow to the back of his legs.
“You’re frustrated,” she critiques. “Don’t let it show in battle.”
Trish mimics his earlier attack to nothing but air. A demonstration. “Your attack was sloppy. You left yourself wide open to counter-attack. You have to be clear-headed. Channel your frustration, but don’t be ruled by it.”
Nicolas is not surprised that his attack is futile. He suspects that all his attacks will be futile against these women. They're a different breed of being, no matter how pretty or human they may look, they're not. In myth, Valkyries were creatures of the battleground. They gathered the dead and took them to Valhalla (case and point: him), but Nic thought they did much more than that. He sees now that they are warriors themselves, and ageless. They have all of time's great span to hone their skills. Even without a magical assist, Nicolas is outclassed and out-matched.
He stumbles forward a few steps, but quickly regains his composure. He spins himself around, locating Trish and facing her. He brings the mace up, instinctively, ready to use it again, but he holds back, waiting for her move. Instead she proceeds to admonish and correct him. Under other circumstances, maybe ones where Nic new all the rules of this realm, he might dismiss what she says. However, he gets a gut feeling that Trish is merely trying to help him reach his goals... or at least help her sister find happiness.
The thought brings up, once again, a lot of mixed feelings and memories pertaining to Lydia. He's trying to just shove it all down, to focus on the training and the present. It's still too new and confusing to tap into that part of him from another life. Still, he knows there's certain expectations of him from the Valkyries. They want him to be Theone's champion, or die trying. Nic, though, he's hoping that this ordeal will prove himself, and show him where his life is supposed to be headed.
"Okay... I'll try." he says after Trish finishes. He gives himself a moment to shake off his frustrations. It's not easy to let go of that particular set of baggage, but he does try. So he looks at the warrior-woman again and adjusts his stance. Rather than an all out attack like before. He plans to rain a series of light blows upon her in an attempt to break her balance. In theory it was similar to the fighting he had learned before back when he was alive.
He moves forward, and puts energy into his swing, but there's restraint as he aims directly for her shield. As soon as the mace hits, he pulls it back. He aims it low, at her knee, but keeps an eye out for her own shield and mace. He's ready to pull back if need be.
When Nicholas moves this time, his attacks are more measured, and Trish responds in kind. It’s not perfect, but it’s an improvement, and improvement demands reward and respect. He has a long way to go until he can defeat any Valkyrie in battle but he has promise.
He’s clearly had some experience; his movements now are far more sure. The moment his mace hits her shield, she’s already withdrawing. Reassessing, then moving as he aims low, shield dropping to protect her knee, then pushing back up and toward him, looking to knock him off balance.
“Better,” she remarks.
It was a smart move, to aim high then drop the attack lower, but one she was ready for. She steps forward, bringing her mace down on his shield.
Trish’s goal is not to embarrass the newest recruit, nor is it to even win. She needs to know who and what she’s dealing with. Theone, if she so wishes to have one, deserves a true champion by her side.
Nicholas has the makings of one, she suspects. He just has to want to fight for it.
At first, Nic gives into his ego, his confidence, as Trish seemingly recoils from his first blow. ('Maybe she's not as tough as she looks.') The thought flashes into his head, but quickly vanishes. Her shield drops down low, as if she has anticipated his combination attack, and absorbs the full force of his assault. She then counters, and shoves the shield upward, his mace and arm along with it. Nic finds himself stumbling backwards, instantly on the defensive again while his mind reals with a panicked ('WTF?')
He doesn't lose his footing as she compliments him on doing better, but he is unsteady as the Valkyrie smoothly transitions from using her shield, to use her mace. His eyes widen as he mace connects with his shield, which he managed only to raise a moment before. He grunts and grimaces as he tries to bear up against the force she has put behind her swing. Once again he has to admonish himself as he is forcibly reminded that Trish is not a human, or even a demon, she's a powerful creature from millennia ago. He needs to remember that. He especially needs to remember that even when he thinks he's winning.
His breathing is heavy as he looks her in the eye as he steps back, trying to withdraw from her a bit. He can still feel the vibrations of metal on metal ringing through his wrist where her mace met his shield. "Thanks," he says back to her as he brings his shield up, huddling behind it and pushes himself back towards her. He swings his mace at her side, aiming towards her ribs. He knows it's futile, but this is training, and he's not about to give up.
Besides, he wonders how much these Valkyries really know about him, about what he can do. He might still have a few tricks up his sleeve but only time will tell.
Trish deflects his next attack, then steps back, holding up a hand. “Enough,” she says, ending this round. He needs a moment to collect his breath, and she’s no fool to beat a man in training simply to prove a point.
This isn’t a battle.
“You have the makings of warrior,” Trish tells him. “With practice, you’ll improve quickly.”
She motions for him to rest. “The mace is not your weapon of choice. What weapon would you choose, if you could?” Trish asks him.
It’s a question of interest to her; one’s choice of weapon belies a lot of its wielder. In truth, there is much about Nicolas that the Valkyries want to learn, not least of which are his intentions. But truth comes from trust and he doesn’t trust them yet, nor they him. That comes from discourse and time, both of which are in short supply.
His choice in attacks suggest some training and she’s curious to know with what purpose.
The Valkyrie surprises Nic once more. He had expected her to pounce, to make an example of his weakness. Instead she allows him time to regroup and recover. Furthermore, she gives him praise. He's careful to not let it go to his head though, his ego could potentially be his biggest weakness here in Valhalla. His physical skills, just like Trish said, would improve over time, but the weaknesses of his heart and mind were not so easy to improve upon. As such he replies to her compliment with a curt nod of the head and a humble, "Thank you."
Trish wastes no time in continuing their lesson, although in a different way. It seems their initial sparring match is over, and instead she's sizing him up with questions. "Ummm, I've never really used a weapon before. I mean, aside from rich kids who fence or practice archery, the only call for weapons nowadays is guns... right?" He gives the question a little more thought, and after a moment he continues, "I've always really just used my fists, occasionally for self-defense, but mostly for working out.
He's seen the way that Trish uses her mace and shield, and some of the other people around him, how it's as elegant as it is brutal, and he won't deny he is intrigued. "Here, though, it looks like I'm going to have to learn how to use a weapon just to survive.."
Trish makes note of Nicolas’ response to praise, and files it away for later. It was simple and humble, all emotion held in check and she wonders if it’s simply he’s unused to it, or that he’s too used to it. Time will tell.
She listens intently as he details his lack of experience with weapons, face frowning at the mention of guns. Fundamentally she understands why humans created such weapons, however they’re the ones she respects the least. Killing anything should not be so easy, so simple.
Perhaps she was too entrenched in her ways.
"Here, though, it looks like I'm going to have to learn how to use a weapon just to survive..”
“Perhaps,” Trish acknowledges. “But a weapon is only an extension of yourself. Yes, you need to know the weapon that best suits your needs, and how to wield it, but if you do not have control over yourself, then it will be less effective.”
She looks around the room, taking in the movements of her sisters. There’s a beauty and grace in the way the Valkyrie move, and no matter how long she’s here, Trish knows it’s something she’ll always find a kind of peace in. The familiarity is home.
For Nicolas, it must surely be different.
“What is it you wish to learn here, Nicolas?”
He may not have had a choice in coming here, in training, if he wishes to serve as Theone’s champion, but he’ll need more than that to give him purpose here. A good teacher knows their student; the knowledge will help her refine his training.
Nicolas listens to Trish intently and finds that he can't help but agree with her. There is a certain amount of self-discipline, of mastery, that wielding any sort of weapon has in common. It's not enough to pick something up, even a gun, and say "I'm going to use this," you have to know how to use it, and more so, what using it means. However, if he's forced to be honest, Nicolas isn't too sure about what kind of self-control he really does have. Not anymore at least. He is normally the one to keep his feelings and his thoughts in check.
Nic likes to pride himself on the fact that he's very in control of his life. But the events of the past few days has shown him exactly how control he does have. It's a little irritating. He has put so much effort in remaining aloof from the war between good and evil, but in an instant it all changes. In the span of one night he finds out that he's the reincarnated love of some ancient goddess, and his past life starts exerting some sort of influence over him. Then while that's all mixed up, another Goddess shows up, declares him unworthy, and kills him in a manner of seconds.
All of that in mind, he feels that it's no small wonder that when he started to lose a grip on his life, he lost hold of his self too. Maybe this slightly defunct training session is more of a mental thing> Maybe not. "I'm not sure..." he pauses to think. Part of him is scared to be honest with Trish, to tell her that he doesn't really know who he is anymore, that Brennan and Nicolas are not the same person but somehow have been forced to mesh. He's not sure about any of his feelings anymore, especially the ones involving Lydia, and that frankly he's as scared of the idea of immortality as he is of the idea of death. And that it really has been bugging him that now it's two for two in his known lifetimes that magic has gotten him killed.
('Probably don't want to unload all of that on her, especially since her and Theone are "sisters"...') he thinks, but he does decide on a safer answer. "I guess I want to learn more about myself... maybe stuff I wouldn't learn as a mortal on earth?" it's a bit vague, but it's true. And he really does want to figure it out.
Nicholas is hesitant to speak and she understands.
Valhalla is not a place where he has friends yet, and the people here are testing him. Trish’s question is as well, but perhaps not the kind that has simply one answer and she knows patience like an old friend. Eventually he’ll find the right answers for him, but it probably will not be today.
"I guess I want to learn more about myself... maybe stuff I wouldn't learn as a mortal on earth?”
One eyebrow raised, Trish’s mouth turns up into an amused grin. “Stuff?”
She’s heard about the vagueness of humans, the imprecision with which they speak, but it’s entirely different to be hearing it first-hand.
“As a mortal, you live and die in relatively quick succession,” she cedes. “What you learn is a fraction of what is possible, and yet perhaps one could argue that such a short timeline increases the potency of what knowledge is gained because of the urgency. As an immortal, the perception of time, of gaining knowledge is different.”
Trish nods to the weapons they’ve both put to rest. “Are you ready to try again?"
The Valkyrie Queen had slipped into the training session not too long ago and observed its apparent conclusion. Though her words could be taken as a question, they are not intended to be. She is, in effect, ending Nicolas' training for the day.
Though not tall, Dyna possesses a gravitas that is commanding and often lends itself to being described as being a much larger stature than she truly has claim to. In truth, she's of middling height with the same toned physique as the other Valkyries, honed by an eternity of physical combat. The only notable difference in her attire is the jeweled headband that adorns her brow.
With a nod, she dismisses Trish and focuses her sole attention on Nicolas. Such a strange turn of events for Ende to bring this man, this potential Champion of Theone's, to Valhalla. Unorthodox. His presence was not earned such as it was by her own Champion, Beowulf. Instead, it's a test. A test of loyalty and love.
Those are virtues that she can get behind.
"Come hither," she commands despite her quiet tone. "Let us speak."
Nicolas is about to respond to Trish, verifying that he's as ready as he will ever be to continue their fight, when another voice stops him. He turns to see another woman striding towards him. She's dressed similar to the other Valkyries, but there's something different about her. It's in the way she moves, the way she holds herself. Though Nic has no knowledge of the inner-workings of the Valkyries as a group, he'd have to hazard a guess that this new woman out-ranks Trish.
His suspicions are pretty much confirmed when she "suggests" that Nic is done for today. Some of the tension held in his body melts away at that. She's giving him a reprieve. At the same time she seems to be dismissing Trish, allowing her to go her own way. Her voice is commanding, but laced with a fairness and kindness that Nicolas does not expect from the warrior women.
This new woman wastes no time, she beckons him forward, although not unkindly. She speaks with the air of one who expects others to listen. Not only to listen, but to obey. Nicolas takes a good hard look at her as he moves to closer to her. Like the other Valkyries he's seen here, she's beautiful. As with the other Nordic creatures, the beauty is not the superficial kind that one sees on earth. Valkyries are simple, natural, and somehow all the more radiant because of it. Somehow Nic finds himself unable to meet the Queen's eyes, and his own gaze flits around, never trying to look at her directly. Once he's within a respectful distance for conversation, he halts.
He's never been one for manners, and never taken an etiquette lesson in his life, but now he finds himself being rather deferential. He gives a slight bow of his head, "You wish to speak to me?" he asks, cursing himself for being so dumb. Yes, clearly Dyna wants to speak with him, no sense in parroting her own words right back at her. ('Way to go dumbass')
"That was the idea, yes." Her words aren't harsh in their delivery, but there is an undertone of 'didn't I just say that?' to them. "You are residing in my city, among my warriors, at Ende's... invitation. I thought that a conversation is overdue - do you disagree?"
It becomes apparent that the question is rhetorical as Dyna turns from Nicolas and exits the military quarters. The expectation that he should be followingis not given voice, but implied. She assumes that he's at least intelligent enough to figure that out.
Dyna's words mirror Nicolas's own thoughts. There's a flash of red that appears in the man's cheeks, but he quickly gets over it as Dyna doesn't seem to dwell on it. Instead she proceeds on to summarize his situation. He's about to answer her when he realizes that the question was meant to be rhetorical. She turns away from him, and proceeds to exit the area. Nicolas hesitates for a minute but ultimately he follows after her.