Odyssey Online - Alexandra Anthony

Introduction

1070 AD

Face to face with my foe, the blade buried itself deep within my abdomen. It was not until the sword had been pulled from my stomach, feeling the hot warmth of my blood seep through my tunic that I realized everything had changed in the blink of an eye. As I staggered backwards in a stupor, my eyes connected with those of my adversary. I glimpsed the thrill of victory flash across his face. My quaking hand grabbed at the gaping wound, the sticky wetness spilling through my fingers and staining my skin crimson.

My life on this earth was over.

I never concerned myself with thoughts about my mortality until I lay dying on a pyre on that bitterly cold spring night. Angered at my inabilities and failures, I begged out to Freya or Hel; whichever would bring mercy and relieve me of my agony. Careless, now I would die a hero’s death; little consolation to my recklessness and arrogance. I thought myself invincible. Now in silent retrospect, on this pyre I was forced to bare my soul; expose my sins. I would die with the blood of others on my hands and soul.

With every labored breath that escaped from between my lips, I felt death approach like a dark shadow, taking my life away inch by inch. I knew the end was imminent; my fellow comrades had left to begin the journey home to give the news of my death to my sister and my brothers. Only a small group lingered until my final passing. Upon my death, I would be burned and buried in a thrall to insure I would join the afterlife and not linger to haunt those who remained. My family would likely mourn for me, however my death to protect their safety and the security of my village would be celebrated. Foolishly, I had thought myself to be safe. My ability to see the future had been worthless. One miscalculated move had put me here, my blood spilling into the earth beneath me.

At the age of 33, I had lived to be much older than others in my village. Life was difficult, the winters long and brutal. Even though my family was considered wealthy at the time, my father a Jarl in the settlement, life was never easy. Constant battles and power struggles by neighboring tribes kept us on constant alert.

Bitter tears of defeat fell from my eyes and streaked down my temples, dampening my filthy, bloody hair. I was losing more than my life tonight; I was leaving behind the love of my existence. She was more than human, that much I knew. She had been a part of my life as long as I could recall, my first memory of her as a young man of 16. As of late, I had grown restless. I no longer wanted to walk this earth without her at my side. She had invaded my every waking thought, bewitching me with her presence. Was this my penance for my impatience? For my insolence?

My warm exhale blew out into plumes, spreading into the dark night. The haze from my breath was testament to the bitter chill of the night. Slipping in and out of consciousness, I did not have much time left.

It was time for me to let go of this life and everything I cherished.

“Steafedn.”

Her voice pulled me from the abyss and surrounded me like a lover’s embrace. It took a moment for her face to come into focus, my vision clouded and blurry. Brilliant eyes like emeralds stared back at me. Even in my weakened state I could see the sadness and desolation that had taken residence there. She reached for my hand, her skin warm against my cold, dying flesh.

"I cannot lose you." My words sounded empty and weak. I refused to beg for my life; even it was possible for her to grant me a second chance at living. Attempting to reach for her, I found that I no longer had the strength to move. She stared down at my failing, mortal body and tears rimmed her vibrant irises.

"Steafedn," she sobbed desperately. Her free hand rose to stroke my dirty, blood soaked hair with trembling fingers. "There is nothing I can do, my love. Not now. It is too late. I failed you."

My breath rattled in my chest as I stared into her eyes. She was flawlessly beautiful, ethereal with her pale skin and long hair that framed her face in wild, copper waves. Her