Mother: Skeg, good girl. Stay right here with the other children. I’ll come back soon to pick you up.
When night fell, it was time for the Demons to rampage. A rural village had the misfortune to be selected as a playing field and coliseum by a Demon troop. Countless villagers were beheaded in their sleep. Even when people woke up just in time, they were no match for the Demons and soon “fell asleep” again in a bath of blood. The hiding women and children, who were holding their breath and waiting for the Demons to leave, were the only survivors.
However, the Demon troop soon spotted their figures, including Skeggjald’s mother. After placing their children in a mill, the group of moms went to check on the situation outside, thinking that the Demons were leaving. Contrary to their expectations, the Demons were still searching through the village. They killed every Human in sight with their sharp blades. Through the door crack, Skeggjald witnessed the decapitation of her only relative under the moon.
Skeggjald could not help trembling. She turned to look at the children behind her. As the eldest child amongst the group, Skeggjald found thatshe was under the help-seeking gaze of the other children. With no other options, she frowned and tried her best to suppress her fear and grief while trying to clear her mind…
Young Skeggjald: ‘We can’t stay here anymore… We must find a chance to flee…’
Young Skeggjald: ‘Luckily this mill is near the forest. Since we’re short and small, I think they won’t discover us…’
Young Skeggjald: Be quiet. Let’s go out through the backdoor and flee to the forest…
Young Skeggjald: Run! They saw us!
Skeggjald and the children swiftly ran to the forest as they planned. However, noise was inevitable as they stepped on branches and leaves. The Demons soon noticed their presence and chased after them. The children ran with all their energy while Skeggjald closely followed behind them to make sure no one falled behind. At the end of the forest, they saw light and heard voices…
Young Skeggjald: It’s… a pub? Let’s go inside! Quick!
Rolling and tumbling, the children ran into the pub. When they looked up, what they saw was armor — all the drinkers were wearing armor and animal skins; it seemed like they were soldiers and mercenaries. With everyone holding their own glass of wine, they stared at the children in puzzlement.
Pubkeeper: Where the heck did these kids come from? You’re making my pub dirty!
Young Skeggjald: Please help us… De, Demons are chasing us!
Upon hearing the word “Demons”, the people drinking immediately put on an alert face, picked up their swords, and prepared to fight. The Demon troop soon arrived at the pub. When they saw the large amount of people there, they excitedly yelled at each other: “I must kill more Humans than you this time!”, “The competition hasn’t ended yet!”
Pubkeeper: Darned Demons! Heroes, please do me a favor — wipe them out!
Drinker: No problem! Let’s drink later! Bro, charge!
The pubkeeper brought Skeggjald and the other children to hide in a safer place. Sounds of weapons clashing and horses neighing rang outside the pub. It was already after midnight, but it was only until dawn did the commotion end…
Drinker: Hey dude, we’ve done it!
Pubkeeper: You heroes sure live up to your titles! I’ve already prepared wine and drinks. Come in and take a rest!
Young Skeggjald: Boss! The man over there ordered three glasses of barley wine and that young man wants one glass.
After the pubkeeper gave her a wave as acknowledgement, Skeggjald walked to another table and took their order. Skeggjald and the other children had lost their families. They were alone, desolate, and helpless. It was not until they ran into the pub did the compassionate pubkeeper took them under one condition: they needed to help in the pub.
One day, the pub was crowded with customers as usual. A couple had a nice chat with one of the boys helping in the pub. After chatting for some time, the husband walked up to the pubkeeper and asked, “We don’t have any children. Can we adopt this boy?”
Upon hearing the request, the boy looked at the pubkeeper. His eyes were so sincere that the pubkeeper immediately understood that he wanted to be loved by parents. Therefore, the pubkeeper nodded in agreement. Since this incident, the pubkeeper welcomed customers to adopt the orphans as an act of benevolence.
Young Skeggjald: What’s the matter… Huh? Your dress…
Girl: I’m leaving soon. The couple sitting at the corner promised to take me home. Thank you for taking care of me.
Young Skeggjald: That’s great! I wish you a happy life in your new home!
The orphans found foster parents one after another; Skeggjald was the only one left in the pub. Right after the girl’s departure, Skeggjald started to cry. She kept questioning herself: “Did I do something wrong? Nobody wants to adopt me… why?” She was beautiful like a flower. Whenever she worked, she was capable of handling all the tasks given to her. She was even as strong as the boys. She was good in all aspects, no matter appearance, capability, or strength.…
Negative thoughts piled up in Skeggjald’s mind. She dropped the wineglass in her hand and ran to the forest, trying to escape the noise and crowd in the pub to have some alone time.
Occupied by work, the pubkeeper did not realize that Skeggjald had gone missing until the pub closed. He searched the pub and checked every corner, almost turning over all the barrels, but his attempt to find her were to no avail. Extremely worried, he searched through the forest until he heard someone crying under a tree…
Young Skeggjald: Why doesn’t anybody want me? If this goes on, what should I do?
Young Skeggjald: Mom, dad… How can I carry on? Boohoo…
Pubkeeper: Skeg, what if I become your family?
Young Skeggjald: B, Boss?
Pubkeeper: I’m sorry, Skeg… I should have told you this earlier.
Pubkeeper: Actually, many couples have approached me about adopting you throughout the year, but…
Young Skeggjald: But what?
Pubkeeper: But I just couldn’t let you go! Every time I think of you going far away and the fact that we can’t meet again, I’ll…
Young Skeggjald: Boss…
Pubkeeper: Skeg, I’ve always regarded you as my own daughter. Be a part of my family and stay, won’t you?
Time flew by and Skeggjald grew into a young woman while her strength and drinking capacity increased every day. She developed friendly relationship with the regular customers and they chatted about different kinds of topics together whenever they came.
Recently, war in the North was becoming more intense. Every time she heard stories of refugees or soldiers suffering from losing family members, her heart filled with sorrow which made her lose her appetite. This sorrowful feeling gradually became the driving force of her desire to protect the residents in the North.
She became even more determined after a young soldier told her about the “selection of valkyries”. A chosen valkyrie would obtain Odin’s power and fight against Demons. On one hand, she felt like her blood was boiling for righteousness as she thought about leading an army to defeat the Demons. On the other hand, she was worried about leaving the old pubkeeper to manage the pub alone.
Pubkeeper: Skeg! Skeg! Can you hear me? Hey Skeg!
Skeggjald: ... Ah, boss! What is it?
Pubkeeper: You’re always distracted these days'. Are you tired of working?
Skeggjald: No! I’m so strong and energetic right now that I could butcher a bull!
Pubkeeper: Great. Or… you’re thinking about the valkyrie selection?
Skeggjald: Valkyrie? There’s no way I’m capable enough for that. I can only hold barrels, not a sword!
On the surface, Skeggjald was denying her desire to be a valkyrie. However, she could not get rid of the idea in her mind, which always distracted her and caused her to make mistakes during work. The pubkeeper noticed her internal struggle, so he came up with an idea...
Pubkeeper: We haven’t played this game in a long time. I suddenly thought of it and wanted to play. Let’s battle!
Skeggjald: The barrel-lifting game? I miss that game too! Alright, show me what you’ve got!
Pubkeeper: Skeg, you’re tired just after lifting fifty barrels? I’ve lifted more than seventy!
Skeggjald: Whew… You’re so powerful. I admit defeat…
The “barrel-lifting” game was one of the many games skeggjald played during her childhood. Rule of the game was simple: lift the barrels into the cellar, the person who lifts the most wins.
She was actually full of energy tonight but decided to save her strength to give the pubkeeper an advantage at first. However, despite his age, the pubkeeper was still strong and he quickly took the lead. In the middle of the competition, Skeggjald changed her mind and played with all her might. However, she was unable to turn the tides and was defeated by the pubkeeper.
Pubkeeper: Skeg, see? I’m still very healthy. I'll be fine running the pub alone.
Pubkeeper: You don’t need to worry about me. Follow your heart and go join the selection!
Skeggjald: Boss… If I am selected as a valkyrie, no matter how far from home I have to travel, I’ll always remember and think about you…
Upon the old soldier’s nomination, Skeggjald entered the bootcamp of the Northern Alliance army. Her performance was soon appreciated by Tyr and was later granted the divine wine. Upon drinking the divine wine, power flowed through her body and she became a valkyrie.
Since then, Skeggjald had been following Thor and Tyr on an expedition through the North to fight the intruding Demons. One day, their troops arrived at a vast grassland. It was a gloomy scene composed of uneven terrain, bare trees and dusky view. Skeggjald walked to the front line and scanned their surroundings. She saw a bunch of shadows approaching them from far away through the thicket. Immediately she announced a state of alert.
Skeggjald: It’s a Demon troop! But they’re all injured with severed limbs. It looks like they were just defeated.…
Tyr: We can’t let our guards down. Everyone be cautious!
It was just a remnant troop; the Northern Alliance army completely annihilated them in a moment. When Skeggjald was about announce their victory, she noticed another wave of shadows approaching from all sides…
Skeggjald: This is…!
Tyr: We’ve fallen into their trap. They sent a remnant troop to sap our energy first and then a strong contingent to defeat us.
Thor: We don’t have any other choice. Let’s confront them!
Skeggjald: ‘We’ve overcome various adversities. This can’t be our end!’
Skeggjald: ‘I must come up with a plan to protect Lord Tyr and Lord Thor. Fight out of the Demons’ encirclement!’
Skeggjald: ‘Make use of the trees over there to block the Demons’ path… I think this plan might just work…’
Since Skeggjald was granted the divine wine, she became stronger and her walking speed became faster. Before the Demons reached to them, she dashed to a dense small forest of tall trees. With a wave of her axe, a tree was instantly chopped down.
Chopping the trees one after another, Skeggjald soon gathered a pile of large tree trunks. She aimed at the Demons and gave the trunks a powerful push. The tree trunks immediately started rolling toward the Demons, stopping them from advancing.
Skeggjald: We must leave as soon as possible. Lord Tyr and Lord Thor, please lead our troops and retreat first!
Tyr: Skeggjald, come with us!
Skeggjald: I’ll catch up with you later! I must stay here for a while to buy you some time!
Skeggjald's courage and determination filled Tyr and Thor with admiration. They listened to her plan and set out for the north to leave the grassland, while Skeggjald lifted her axe again and chopped down another pile of tree trunks while contemplating what she should do next...