When early winter arrived, the army of the Northern Alliance was still trapped in a deadlock with their opponents. Roving bandits took the chance to rob the villages, and even defile women. By happenstance, Geironul found these bandits’ camp when she was hunting. Immediately, she asked her sister Skogul to take the villagers into hiding on the hill, while she faced the bandits alone.
In the house, she raised the flask to her mouth; yet, she had long finished it, leaving not even a single drop. Flinging the flask aside, she snatched out a small bottle off a dead bandit’s body. She took a whiff before gulping it down.
“Urgh! Bad wine mixed with water!”
In the past when she was still a princess, she had been fond of collecting all kinds of fine wine. Later, her father found out and hid it all, stating that she could only drink it when she grew up. Yet, she never thought that her blissful homeland would be invaded and destroyed by Demons; she had never seen her precious collection again.
Opening the door, Geironul swiftly ran through the snow to a house on the side. Inside, a bandit was rummaging through; even as he turned around, Geironul’s long spear had already been stabbed into his chest. At the same time, a piercing scream emanated from outside; other plundering bandits had began encountering traps she had set in advance.
Geironul dashed into another house. This time, the bandit inside was on guard already. He dodged her stab; but with a flick of her spear, he was instantly disemboweled. Howling in pain, the bandit pressed onto his gaping wound with one hand; with the other, he swung his short axe wildly. Geironul evaded the attacks with ease, before slashing open his throat with her long spear.
A barrel, which the villagers had no time to carry away, was chopped open. Geironul used a broken bowl to hold the wine and gulped it down. The sharp edge of the bowl cut the corner of her mouth. Licking the crimson blood, she felt lighter and more agile as if the alcohol had given her a boost.
“Now that’s more like it!”
Using the chair as a stepping stone, Geironul leapt onto a wardrobe set against the wall. When bandits entered and scouted, drawn by the commotion, she jumped down with her spear swinging. Geironul defeated the bandits one by one; yet, their pained groans gradually surrounded her, revealing her current location. Losing the ambush element, Geironul could only use the houses as cover in a fighting retreat. Although she managed to break out from the encirclement, she was wounded in the process. Despite her injuries, she still successfully drove the bandits into a tall old building serving as a booby trap. The villagers and her had already sawed off its supporting beam some time back. After she had trapped all the bandits in it, she cut through the building’s support. Yet, Geironul, having been injured, could not leap onto the second floor as she had planned. She could only manage to hide inside a shabby wardrobe; thus, she was buried alive together with the bandits by the rubble, and rendered unconscious from the grievous injury.
‘Sis, take a good rest. I’ll be right back.’
The footsteps of marching soldiers left her awakened in fright. She found that she was lying on a mat inside a tent. The tent was cluttered by weapons and armor on which marked the emblem of the Northern Alliance.
Geironul shook her heavy head. She vaguely remembered that she was badly wounded from defeating the bandits. Skogul had stayed by her side, caring for her, ensuring she was alright in her semi-conscious state.
In a daze, Geironul walked out of the tent into the balmy sunshine. Soldiers outside saluted to her; it was not until then that she noticed the letter in her inner chest pocket. Not only were the names of her and her sister on it, but also Odin’s signature. It stated that Odin had officially appointed the two princess of Baldr, Kingdom of Spring, as valkyries; he hoped that they could assist the alliance with their morality and wisdom, and lead the army to victory.
“Battles... Finally, here I stand on a real battlefield!”