Can a man defeat the Gods? Does the choice to turn to someone else damn a man even in the heat of battle? The daughter of Zeus, Calliope, has come to me to tell the tale of a man who betrayed the gods, cursed the name of his Viking ancestry, and who was denied access to the warrior hall of Asgard, Valhalla.
The blades of two mighty swords clash. In the heat of the battle, bodies fall. Our hero Asalrek stands tall, with the strength of one hundred men, this power was not given by any Norse god. No, his strength was a gift from the god of war, Ares. This act has forever given up his right to join the einherjar in the hall of Valhalla. Defiant of his father gods, Asalrek kills men and horses alike, before finally falling to many mortal wounds.
He has faced death before. It was many years earlier, he had left his clan, on a quest to become the greatest warrior in the land. He carried only what he needed: his father sword carved with the hammer of Thor, a wooden shield on his back, light chainmail, food for a few days, a bottle of mead, and his desire for greatness. And so it was, by the hand of Odin, Asalrek would face several quests to become the immortal warrior.
Several days into the journey Asalrek ran into an old blind traveler. As Asalrek approached the beggar, the old man began to talk. “The betrayal of the gods shall not be unnoticed. Odin, the chief of our gods and the god of war, shows the followers of Zeus no mercy in their death. They shall not be chosen to dine in the halls of Valhalla. One man, will challenge both gods, one man.” As Asalrek passed he thought to himself, “What man would be foolish enough to turn their back on the residents of Asgard? Odin is the true King of Gods.”
Months passed as Asalrek continued his quest. Fighting along the way, every battle he becomes stronger and faster, and every battle he cheats the odds and escapes death. He hears the tales of an army, the most powerful army in the world. The armies’ strength was only matched by their cruelty. The call of a challenge filled his heart with excitement. Many months passed until he reached the land of the Greeks. He reached a city known as Athens. Never before had Asalrek seen such a city! The streets paved with stone, buildings grander than the temples of Thor, people buying goods with gold coins, poets with masses of people around them, perhaps the stories of a grand army were false? Asalrek was familiar with the language of the land, at least familiar enough to request audience with the king, and acquire an interpreter. He was led into a palace, a building more grand than anything he had ever seen. The king of Athens was a noble looking man indeed, sickening to Asalrek; men are to fight, not sit and get fat. The king tells him the tale of their woes.
“I hear you are a warrior, a warrior from the land of the north, a land of barbarians. Yes, a great fighter you must be to have lived as long as this. Afraid I am however, you are not strong enough to defeat this adversary. A renegade commander of Sparta by the name of Ecoltes has betrayed his king, as well as his people. He has amassed an army so strong it is said even the gods would be powerless to defeat them. His army they say, have acquired the strength of titans, they march along the land killing any who oppose them. A fool it would be, to challenge them.”
With this Asalrek replied, “I laugh at your gods as I laugh at your words. I have been in battle since I can remember. I have fought countless times, and I refuse to fall by the hands of a Greek. When this army comes through Athens, you would let them kill your men, kill your children, and ravage your wives and daughters, just as I thought, the Greeks are cowards and pigs, living lavishly without a chance of survival, I could destroy this city myself it seems. You must have warriors, you must have allies. Give them to me; I will deliver the head of Ecoltes for all to see. A true man is in Greece now.” “You insult the king in his own land,” the King of Athens replied. “It is true the North men have no manners, however you speak true words, we have been at peace for too long, we have grown comfortable. I will do as you wish, command the armies of Greece, defeat Ecoltes, and you will be a hero among our people.” Aselrek laughed. “I care nothing for you or your people, I only wish to fight, to become the strongest of the strong, next time you see me, I shall be just that.”
Look for Part 2!
Tune into my radio show Wednesday’s at 11 am at kssu.com Sacramento State’s Student Run Radio