Adventuring through twisted time.
Devon's eyes shot open. He was laying in bed, but still had the sensation of not being able to move. It took him a few moments to finally shift his arms and he looked at his wrists and rubbed them gently, still feeling the phantom binding that had been there in his dream. Wiping the light sweat from his brow, he sat up in bed and slowly stood, taking a moment to look around the room almost expecting for them to be there. It was another reoccurring dream that he had been having for a couple of months. A woman named Clarice would visit him in his dreams and tell him extraordinary things about his destiny to which he would laugh off. At first Devon believed he was making up the woman claiming to be a sorceress in his head, but then she began to prove her power by telling him immediate, future events which turned out to be true when he woke the next day and began his normal routine. Everything she had predicted in his dreams had come true and he was more than a little wary of going to sleep now that she was visiting him every night.
He was not a man that believed in destiny. People had control of their own lives; their choices their own. Clarice was making it clear to him that he had a set road to walk on and a plan to his life that was more important than most. Devon was still skeptical to believe it and had threatened the sorceress that he would not follow her words as the two got into a heated arguement. The sorceress had bound him and did something he didn't expect by bringing in an ancestor who confirmed the words she was saying. A man named Tristan who fought side by side with the great king years ago. Clarice then showed him a vision of the world burning in ash if he didn't find the sword imbued with magic and keep it safe from the wrong hands. Of course he had asked the impatient woman why she couldn't find it herself with all her great powers and it was then Tristan explained that the sword could only be found by a member of the Pendragon bloodline. The only tip he was given was the rumor that the sword may have fallen into the hands of the visiting vikings who had been making a nice collection of armory in their travels over the seas as of late.
Now here he was, standing in his bedroom that he shared with his younger brother and staring out the window in deep thought at the very stupid thing he would have to do next. Devon placed his forehead against the cool window glass as the sun was just beginning to lighten the sky and knew this was going to be the only chance he would be able to get away without the questions. As quietly as he could, he packed a bag and turned back one more time to look at his younger brother before moving to his sister's room to say a silent goodbye. He placed his back against a wall in the hallway where he could hear his mother moving around the kitchen like she always did before most of the world was awake. He closed his eyes and let out a breath, wishing he could tell her and his step-father the truth, but knowing they wouldn't believe him.
Soon he was out the second story window and moving across the rooftops quietly. It didn't take much convincing to get his two most trusted friends to come along with him as they had known each other since they were children and trusted the leader of the Rogues for what he was telling them. "So, vikings?" Milo asked as the three stayed crouched behind some barrels at the dock. They were scouting out the ships and had easily found the crew of vikings who were visiting England in a chance of a peace treaty. The men were prepping to head back to their camp and Devon had come up with a plan to get aboard. A very stupid plan.
"Yes. Vikings." Devon replied with a sigh and lead them to their possible capture. The men dumped out the gunpowder of three barrels and hid themselves inside one each with the hopes of being taken onto the ship without being noticed. It seemed like an eternity as they waited with their breaths held until soon they were being set down below deck and the rocking of the ship indicated they had moved off shore. Devon pushed the lid off the barrel and climbed out, dusting the powder from his clothing. He walked over to the porthole and peered out as the coastline of England became smaller by the second.
It had only been a day and a half and the ship was coming to shore in the middle of the night. The three looked to each other with some confusion, never believing the vikings' base camp was so close, let alone still in England. Devon even knew the area somewhat as he had visited one of the towns to help with provisions when they were in dire need during the winter. However, that nearest town was miles away from where the rising tents of the vikings held their base now. His heart beat faster in his chest as the adrenaline was pumping through him. They were going to have to sneak into the camp which was no doubt swarming with at least forty or so vikings as well as hope that this internal compass to find the sword would start ringing when he was near. "Devon!"
Devon turned his head and hadn't realized Will was whispering to him frantically as they had just about made it to shore. They eased themselves through the cargo and made their way to the top deck, climbing over the stern and waiting till the time was right to jump into the darkened water. They quickly swam further down the shoreline and trudged through the woods, making sure they were far enough away from the base camp to start a fire and not alert the vikings. They quickly stripped themselves of their wet clothing and changed, appreciating the warmth of the fire and eating some of the rations they'd brought. Not that Devon had much of an appetite. His nerves were making him uneasy as he drifted deep into his thoughts while staring at the dancing flames. Everything in him was telling him this wouldn't work, but the itch of knowing if he really was some keeper of this lost sword was something he needed to scratch. "Let's go."
The trio had snuck through the darkened trees and remained in the shadows as they watched the dozens of vikings move throughout the camp. His eyes followed the men who were bringing in the various trunks, barrels, and crates into a large tent near the edge of the encampment. That was the most likely place the sword would be. He nodded towards his friends and they quickly moved towards the back of the tent. Pulling out his dagger, Devon cut a slit through the tent's fabric and stepped inside. His eyes adjusted to the dim lighting of the torches inside and there were endless amounts of containers to go through. "Please tell me you feel something..." Milo muttered. Devon gave him an exasperated look as his eyes scanned the stockpile. This could take a while and he wasn't sure how long they had before someone caught wind of their presence.
The sound of his raspy voice almost shook her for a moment, she was not expecting that he would gain consciousness for a little while longer; and in that moment she was caught off guard. She could hear her girls having a slight giggle at the story in which his men were sharing - it sounded like these men shared similar qualities to those in Kattegat and the rest of Norway; except with one difference, not many would scold the man for sleeping with a woman. Astrid had to admit, the story held some humour and the image they described was incredibly clear in her mind and she could only imagine the very slither of embarrassment the man felt running out the whole with all but a shred of dignity. Astrid felt her features tighten when she locked eyes with their leader; the look on her features was almost constant, and only a rare few saw the softer side of Astrid.
“There are only three of you?” She tilted her head in confusion and glanced at each man as they were being introduced. “How… do you have, some form of death wish?” Astrid mused, if they were as reckless with the Vikings, she could picture them being the same, if not worse with the Kings in the Country. Although there was a slight relief that they didn’t have more men, who would probably be encouraged to attack her people there was also discomfort. There were only seven people in this room and probably hundreds of beasts out there all wanting their grubby little paws on that sword. “Nice to meet you, Devon, Milo and Will” She nodded once and shook Devon’s hand before indicating to her own women. “This is Frida, Gunhild and Helga” The three warriors all smiled and dipped their heads. “And I’m Astrid”
It was nice of him to offer his condolences for those that have been lost, and Astrid closed her eyes. They had not taken their souls yet, nor had she ordered the other Valkyries who had survived to do so. “Our people, death on the battlefield is the most desired way to go. They soon be in the Halls of Valhalla, drinking with the Gods” Her lips twitched upwards in a smile, but out of all those souls, not all of them would make it; she wondered which would go to Helheim and Sessrumnir. “Speaking of that, when we leave here, we do need to go back to them to see them onto their journey”
Astrid assumed there would be questions from them, after all, they saw her wings and if they were Christian, who knows where their thoughts took them. She hummed at his description of the sword and the lack of information he actually had for the thing. Throughout her travels in this country, she had encountered many people and species, and in those, there were Mystics; and Astrid had hoped that one would fulfill the favour they owed. “I… Know of someone who will be able to distort the sword, they live in Cookham. It’s a few days' travel by foot, but have you ever flown before?” She quirked a brow, to see their responses.
Devon nodded to each of the women as they were introduced, thankful to have them on their side for the moment. He couldn't help but smirk at Astrid's remark in learning it was just he and his two friends that were off on this crazy adventure. "Most days, yes," he replied sarcastically in return to her remark on their path to death. "It comes with the territory when you find yourself among our lot. We've been doing well so far in avoiding it. Even escaped an execution from a Viking camp." Wouldn't he love telling the story of that narrow escape. The other Rogues would never believe it, but of course Devon couldn't exactly tell them either. He didn't like the idea of not being truthful with the rest of the outlaws, but it was better that they didn't know about Excalibur. It would keep as many people out of danger as possible. At least that's what he told himself.
The natural sarcasm he exuded faded then as Astrid spoke of the loss of her people from the attack they'd barely escaped. He knew Vikings reveled in the idea of going out in a glorious death, taking as many of the enemy as possible down with them. It was all very heroic and glorified, but Devon didn't exactly believe as they did. Not in the sense of their gods and the world they would find after taking their last and painful breaths, but that it was indeed the best way to leave this existence. At least it was better than growing old and doing nothing with one's life, but being born into a comfortable cushion of coin and other riches while others suffered. Surely there would be some judgement for those people no matter the god they believed in. He had to think so.
Hearing that she wanted to go back to the camp in which they'd just fled made his brow knit together. His dried lips parted slightly to oppose the idea, but then he let the words fade away. If he and his friends were going to get anywhere safely, they were going to need the help of these women. They knew the land and they had the means to help fight whatever those creatures were that opposed them. Devon wasn't sure what they exactly planned on doing once they returned to the fallen bodies of her people, but if it meant a quick prayer before setting out to find the person who could cloak the sword, then so be it.
He forced his limbs to move across the room and come to stop in front of the dusty table which the sword lay on. It seemed so unimportant. Nothing special. Slowly reaching his hand out, he could feel the vibration of the metal singing to meet him. His fingers wrapped around the hilt of the blade and he lifted it without much ceremony, swallowing the lump that had formed in his throat due to the unforeseen road awaiting them, along with the burden and relief of having it safely in his grasp again. Once Devon faced them all again, feeling their eyes on him, he took his gaze away from the sword and looked over to Astrid. "Now when you say flown... You mean..." he simply pointed upwards as finishing the sentence seemed completely ridiculous, but what else could she have meant after seeing what he and the other Rogues had witnessed on the battlefield.
Astrid concentrated on Devon as he pushed himself into a standing position, and she internally flinched when she saw the discomfort he was imposing on himself. Rightly so, it wasn’t safe for them to be here, particularly with the sword radiating whatever it was into the air; like a beacon to those unearthly monsters. He was a leader, and had to move forward for his men, who, loyal as they were, would not leave his side, even if ordered to do so. She knew this from experience, many of her warriors, Valkyrie or not, would not leave her despite her ordering, pleading and begging them to do so. She could tell his Men were not impressed by him standing just yet, but held their tongue although she supposed that they knew better to argue with him right now.
She was concerned, the sword held something over Devon and she couldn’t say it was for the best. It looked as if the power was addictive, especially after his reaction to simply holding it and so, she would feel completely better for the time being for the sword’s power to be masked and possibly to never see the light of day again. There were enough monsters in this dimension, they did not need more of them. A smile crept onto her lips as he couldn’t finish his sentence and she nodded. “It’s the quickest of all transport. I hope you boys do not get travel sick” Astrid looked to her Valkyrie who all grinned, and even though there was probably some fear in his Men’s eyes, they wouldn’t be complaining when they were up close to the female warriors.
“We will just have to hope that no monsters will follow us up there, because holding onto you and fighting. Not even the most skilled could do that” Astrid mused, it was certainly a rarity to carry other individuals in flight; in fact, it was completely unheard of. “I will lead the way. Frida, Gunhild and Helga, pick your passengers. Frida, I trust you with Devon” She nodded to her warriors before glancing back to the human leader. “Are you ready to leave? It won’t be long until that” She indicated to the weapon. “Calls upon it’s beastly friends”
Astrid met the newly founded gang outside and shuffled to allow her wings to escape; although the men had already seen these, it felt completely unnatural to have them exposed to other people that were not Valkyrie, the dying souls or the rare appearance of her Gods. As they ascended into the clouds, the sounds of the men’s uneasiness made the journey to the battlefield far more entertaining. Astrid caught sight of their disheveled appearance and shook her head, amused. “That was just a short flight, wait until we go to Cookham.” She glanced at the other Valkyrie and their sorrow at those who had passed. “Please, I would advise you to look away if you value your eyesight”
She hoped they would respect their eyesight as well as her request as it was a very meaningful and sacred moment when absorbing and transporting the deceased souls. Astrid motioned to begin the process, and soon enough, the area was blinded by four separate blinding lights as the Valkyrie began their journey to the other realms.
Devon's eyes moved between his friends at her confirmation that she indeed meant actually flying with her and her kind. He grinned slightly and shrugged, giving her a nod. "Sure, why not. Seems to be on pace with how today is going." Astrid was right though. It wasn't like they were exactly in the position to find themselves some horses out in the middle of nowhere and even trying to find a settlement to acquire some would take even more time that they probably didn't have. Finding a way to cloak the sword was the most important thing then. Even if he was still feeling like he'd been run over by a carriage. Twice. He wasn't sure how long they would be once getting back to her slain people, but he only hoped they would be able to continue onward without any more interruptions.
Frida nodded to Devon as she came beside him. Her long dark hair and pale blue eyes were striking in contrast. Her armor was bloodied and battle worn as the deep gashes of swords and other weapons had passed through the materials, so very close to meeting her flesh. She was nearly as tall as him and again, he had the strong feeling that she could absolutely put him on his ass if she so intended. The woman warriors didn't seem to ever say much and were continuously stoic and prepared to follow whatever Astrid said. He understood that kind of loyalty and trust when he saw it. His gaze moved out through the door as their leader went outside. Following, it was hard not to still be in awe when Astrid's wings released from their home. It was like seeing it for the first time again. Milo's mouth parted slightly and Will's eyes widened. It made him smirk before turning to Frida. "So.. do I climb on your back or do you carry me in your mouth like a mother protecting its youngin'?" The Viking matched his devious expression before quickly yanking him up into the air, clearly not appreciating his humor.
From behind him, he could hear his friends whooping and shouting as they too were lifted into the air, though he could not see them as Frida followed Astrid. His hands gripped the sword a little more tightly before he dared to look down. "Holy shite," he said breathlessly before looking upward towards Frida who still held the same smug look as before. She was clearly enjoying this. His stomach dropped to his feet as they continued climbing higher, making him laugh from the excitement of it all. How incredible it was to be able to soar with the birds. If it had been any other circumstance, Devon would've asked to take the journey even further, but the grounding reality came when they finally reached the battlefield in which they'd fled not long ago.
The bodies of the fallen still remained, frozen in their last horrific moments of life. All of them had died because of this singular weapon. He looked to the women and could see the pain in their expressions. It felt intrusive to be there as they mourned the loss of their people together, but he couldn't help but hope that maybe it would fuel their want to continue to help them in making sure their newest enemy didn't get their hands on the blade. His head turned to face Astrid as she warned them to look away. Devon's brow forwarded slightly, but he wasn't going to question it before giving a short nod to his fellow Rogues to do as she requested. Even with his eyes shut, the brightness of the intense light filled the darkness of his closed lids and then he felt a pulling as if being forced off his feet. Still, he gripped the sword and remained steadfast as the air around him shifted, waiting for Astrid's signal.
The times in which she took the souls to their chosen realm filled Astrid with so much pride; it was overwhelming. She never took her species for granted but sometimes she knew she could come across arrogant to the fact; the superior species for example. Although she barely came into contact with the Gods, Astrid could feel their presence - she knew they were nearby watching over them and the fallen Vikings. Time always seemed to move slower when they were in the process of transporting souls, and although she typically liked to keep a soul or two, the fallen today were not calling out to join her collection. It bemused her that The Gods had yet to challenge her collection but she would not go in and begin that conversation; she was more than happy for them to turn a blind eye to that wrong-doing. Besides, the souls she had collected seem to be doing just fine in their little confinement.
Soon enough, Astrid and the Valkyrie returned to the battleground and sighed in relief that the rogues had followed her wishes and remained blind to the transportation process. “You can turn around now.” She spoke gently. “We still have to bury or cremate their bodies but their souls are in what I hope is the better place for them” Which, if she trusted The God's process, they were in good hands. Nordic magic continued to run through her veins and there was an air around them that suggested the sword had continued it’s mischief in whatever it was. She frowned at the sword but would not think more of it unless it continued to put them in danger in this well rounded trip. She could see all of their apprehension on spending or wasting their time disposing of the bodies and she was struggling hard to not agree with them. “I know it’s going to take more time and put us in more danger should the sword work its magic…” She trailed off and couldn’t find reasons to carry on; nature would soon take a hold of them.
But then, a light bulb appeared. “Actually, come to think of it. Leaving our people here would do us Vikings some good. To allow them think we’re retreating or being killed. To give the Saxon’s reason to believe they’re winning” Astrid smirked, clearly enjoying the idea and the mental image. “Are we ready to go to Cookham?”
Moments later, they were in the air; leaving the unforgiving crime scene behind them on their way to Cookham. Throughout the journey, she could hear the humans wailing and possibly even being sick in the air due to the speed and altitude. They did, however, take regular breaks to prevent them from truly passing out and to keep their strengths up. It may have taken a couple of hours, if not more before Cookham appeared on the horizon; only getting bigger with each breath. Astrid lead them back down to the ground were they would walk the rest.
“I only know The Mystic here” She spoke to Devon directly. “So I cannot promise anyone any safety even with The Mystic owing me, so for the love of Odin… Keep that thing under control” She nodded to the sword.