HARVEST MOON



    A full moon hung somewhere in the quiet night illumining the fog
    with its soft glow as it hovered over the forest path. Hidden among
    the shadowy trees at the edge of Nature's white veil, they waited
    by the narrow trail for the men they knew would soon come.

    "Why do you always get to do it?" Bahram complained.

    "Because I'm the most experienced," she informed them.

    "That's because you always get to do it!" Fank whined, giving her
    a good-natured nudge.

    "Let somebody else have some fun for a change," begged Bahram.
    Ignoring their badgering, she peered up the dirt footpath. "Sshhh!"
    she whispered, "I hear them!"

    Faint clanking and the subtle clinks of chainmail announced the
    distant approach of armored men. "I love this part," she smiled,
    slipping silently into place as Bahram and Fank mewled that it should
    be their turn.

    Emerging into the clearing, the men were startled by the figure that
    stood before them, blocking the way. Silhouetted by the moon's silvery
    backdrop, the dark shape announced, "I am here for the Jarl called Eric."

    From the small bondi, a large burly warrior stepped toward the figure,
    declaring, "I am Eric."

    "And I am his son, Leaf," spoke a second Viking with the same fierce
    likeness as the first. "What do  you want of us?"

    "Your lives," the mysterious figure calmly but confidently proclaimed.

    Eric slowly drew his sword letting the sound of its scraping metal
    permeate the night air. Leaf and the others followed suit, unslinging
    their weapons and shields, readying themselves for imminent battle.

    The lone silhouette stood motionless and spoke in all seriousness,
    "I will take those of you with the courage to follow them."

    Eric took yet another cautious step toward the lone challenger.
    Clawing through his thick red beard, he inquired of the female voice,
    "And just where are we going?"

    "To Valhal," was her swift reply.

    Leaf led his fellow clansmen in a roaring belly laugh, bellowing,
    "The only woman taking us to Valhal is Valkyrja!"

    A sharp crackle rumbled from her broadsword as red laser light lit
    up its blade, hissing away the moisture in the damp ground where
    its tip rested. Poised with folded gauntlets atop her sword hilt, Valkyrja
    softly spoke, "Then I come for you all."

    Her pearl grey armor illuminating with pale blue trim glimmering in
    the mist, left the warriors speechless by its Apostolic glow. Breathless
    and trembling, the Vikings knelt at once in her presence.

    Bowing their heads, a shaken Eric attempted to apologize. "Please
    forgive us my dear Lady! We meant no blaspheme. We didn't know."

    "Know this!" Valkyrja interrupted, satisfied long ago with their hearts
    and valor, "The way to Valhal is down this path, through me. You
    may turn back and live out your lives as mortal men, or you can die
    this hour and fight along side your bondi clansmen in war forever."

    In spite of the grim moment, Leaf could not help from mischievously
    asking, "Can we use such resplendent weapons as yours?"

    Valkyrja's smiling face told them they could.
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