An apprentice Valkyrie and a college student find they must work together to save both their worlds.
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The Valkyrie's Tale
Lorelei never wanted to go off in search of adventure. She was quite happy as a Valkyrie apprentice, learning her trade as a mercenary, a course-choosing sister with charge of the slain. She wanted nothing more from life but to fight and die at the side of her sisters, perhaps winning some glory in the process.
But Lorelei could not stop her visions of a strange and different world, one with strange picture boxes and torchlight at the flip of a switch, visions through the eyes of a young woman named Lori, a woman who could be her twin, a woman who had visions of her own. Visions of a world of Valkyries and magic.
We cannot always choose our own adventures. Lorelei soon found herself traveling across the Five Kingdoms, searching for the truth about who she was and what she was supposed to do, with only a handful of friends to help her. She will have to fight a vicious enemy, confront her failures, and along with her companion in the other world, find out how to save not just her own land, but her twin's as well.
She ran down the hill with reckless abandon like the child she had so recently been, reveling in the feel of the summer sun beating down on her auburn hair, the solid ground beneath her feet. She knew this land. It was her home. She had run down this hill dozens of times. Gracefully, she spun at the end, and looked back up the knoll to her house.
She furrowed her brow. That wasn't right.
The building was altogether different from any she'd seen before, a strange shape, a strange color. It was like no house she'd ever seen. And yet, somehow, she knew it was hers.
She began to walk up the hill again, slowly this time. No, that wasn't quite right, she thought. It wasn't her will that animated her decision. Her left hand brushed against her side where her sword should have been, but was not there—only an odd, rough fabric altogether different than the leather and mail she was accustomed to.
She felt her step quicken.
This wasn't right—and yet, somehow she knew it was.
As she approached, she saw an unfamiliar woman tending to a garden. The woman's clothes were as oddly off as the rest of this place, but when the woman looked up, there was recognition in her eyes.
"There you are!" the woman said, warmly. "Go on inside, dear. Brian and your dad are getting dinner ready."
Lorelei looked at the door. This felt so much like home to her. But she knew it couldn't be.
She didn't have a family. She never had.
* * *
A violent thunderclap woke her back to reality. A late-summer storm was pounding down on the encampment, and rain was drip-dropping through a small hole in the yurt's seams. Lorelei sat up in her cot, and sighed. She rose, and slung her sword around her waist, and headed out into the storm.
Radulf whined as she reached the door. "I'm just going out for a moment, girl. I'll be right back," she told the wolf, as she slipped out into the deluge.
She walked through the center of the encampment. It was Ravenwood; this was her home. She had been brought here twelve years ago as an orphan. It was the closest thing to family she'd ever known.
Herja herself had rescued her from the temple orphanage. She had told the abbot that she would do great things, that she had the soul of a Valkyrie, and needed only the proper training to gain the skill of one. Herja had brought her into the fold, and had raised her to be one of the Daughters of Odin, the Choosers of the Slain. She had known battle since, and danger. But she had never again known the kind of aching want that she had felt as a child in the care of the church.
She let the rain pound down on her, let it wash over her. She hoped it would wash out of her the desperate desire for family—real famly—that she thought must be behind the dreams.
"Lorelei! What are you doing?"
Her reverie broken, she turned and saw a figure approaching. The woman was slight for a Valkyrie, with short black hair that was already slicked down from the rain.
"Nothing, Miia," said Lorelei, turning fully toward her friend.
"Don't 'nothing' me, Lorelei. I've known you too long. It's another dream, isn't it?"
Miia was as close to a sister as she had. She had been adopted a year after Lorelei, and they'd been friends from the first. "Yes, it was a dream."
Miia walked up to her friend and put an arm around her shoulder. "It's all right, Lorelei."
No, it isn't, Lorelei thought. It wasn't all right at all.
She wanted to break down, but a Valkyrie doesn't cry. Instead, she let out a deep sigh and walked with her friend back to the tent.
"Come on," said Miia, lying her friend down. "Get under the blankets. You'll catch your death of cold."
"It's just so real," said Lorelei. "It isn't like a dream. It's like I'm there. I can smell the grass, I can feel the wind. It's real."
"I know it must seem to be," said Miia, calmly, putting another blanket on Lorelei. "I dream about my parents too."
"It's not like that," said Lorelei, just softly enough so as not to wake the others. "It's not a dream about what it would be like to have parents. It's like I've stepped into the skin of someone who has a family.
"And I hate it. I already have a family here," said Lorelei, trying and failing to convince herself.
Miia merely smiled. "Yes, you do. Now get to sleep. Alexandra will be waking us up soon enough. Best to be ready."
Lorelei settled in, and tried to go back to sleep. After an interminable time, she even succeeded.