Then the Sun shone upon a field, which yielded a harvest in a mere night. Spears and arrows stuck in the ground as if they were freshly reaped wheat. Swords, axes, and halberds with entrails wrapped around them seemed like vineyard supports. The similarity to grapes was reinforced by the scarlet liquid, feeding the earth here and there. Only it wasn’t ripe berries that the ravens and vultures pecked on. The field of battle was littered with corpses, and not just birds circled above.
Winged, armed maidens in full armor descended from the sky. They slowly flew above the deceased warriors, took them in their arms, and carried them away, up into the clouds. Valkyries, messengers of Odin. They say that souls taken by them spend eternity feasting in the palaces of the gods, but no one could prove or disprove this.
One of the valkyries came down to a bloodied bearded man in a horned helmet… A spear fragment stuck out from his stomach, his face slashed up and oozing with terrible wounds. The girl touched the warrior and was about to lift him up into the sky when a deep voice bellowed from behind:
– Leave him, child, he is still alive.
The young valkyrie turned and respectfully bowed her head.
The Mother of all Valkyries looked formidable. Lavish curves, enormous horns on her helmet, a hand-carved and decorated runic shield in one hand, and a battle-axe in the other. She looked at her daughter strictly, her look a mixture of motherly scolding and wholehearted understanding. The younger valkyrie bowed even deeper.
– Rise, child. Continue with your task. But remember, that mistakes are for mortals. We, on the other hand, are Odin’s messengers, we cannot allow ourselves the luxury of a mistake.
– Yes, mother. – The winged warrior spread her wings and flew to another, apparently dead, warrior.
Borghild, which was the Mother’s name, pensively watched her go. She remembered that she was just like her once – an inexperienced girl, recently dead, and being granted wings; she looked different back then and seemed more like a young lady, rather than an honorable matron. Odin’s new messenger gathered the souls of the deceased with all the vigor she could muster, found a good word to say to every fallen northerner, appeared in the sky above every battle…and in time began to change. Borghild did not know whether this was due to the one-eyed god’s will or the warriors’ understanding of an ideal woman. The changes happened slowly, over the course of decades and centuries. And now she is no longer a woman with wings, but a woman, the sight of which made any man lose his breath in awe and trepidation
It is unsurprising that human legends began calling Borghild the Queen or Mother of Valkyries. What was unexpected, however, was that she really did begin to feel as if she were a mother to these recently feathered girls. She began to tutor them, console those who grieved for their past mortal lives…
Borghild shook her head, throwing the fog of memories aside. New souls awaited her, souls who needed a guide into Odin’s halls.