Torvi Gets a Warning From the Lands Beyond

    Bert Godding

    Torvi, the Targ warrior, sighed as she stretched out on the hard wooden floor of her rented room.  The bed was far too small for the Targ, and it had creaked and moaned threateningly when she sat down on it initially.  She did not want to have to pay for yet another piece of broken furniture.  So, as she had many times before in this land of small people, Torvi made a pallet of blankets on the floor. 


    She felt out of place and alone in these lands.  Even though her frozen homeland of Norlund was harsh and inhospitable, there were times that she longed to go back.  That was where her husband and child were buried.  And even though she had been exiled, the rest of her clan was there as well. 


    She shrugged. There was nothing to be done for it but to endure it.  She reached up to the nightstand and pinched out the flame of the candle lighting the room, laid back down, and tried to sleep.




    Fresh snow fell lightly through the air, drifting down between the spindly, white-barked birch trees.  A thin layer of snow covered the forest floor.  Grey mists filled the air.  Squinting through the enshrouding mists, Torvi could make out enormous mountain ranges in the distance, impossibly high and far away.  She thought she heard faint sounds of battle in the distance, but she felt no fear.


    She didn’t know how long she walked through the ancient forest.  It could have been an hour or a year.  The mists seemed to swallow up time as well as sound and sight.  Finally, she tired of walking without purpose, and sat down upon a fallen tree along her path.


    Time seemed to slow again as she sat.  Snowflakes seemed to hang in the air, unmoving.  Torvi moved her hands between them, pushing the snowflakes this way and that.  It was then that she noticed the figure standing silently in the mists.


    The Targ warrior jumped to her feet and balled her fists, ready to defend herself.  “Who is there?” she challenged.


    “Has it been so long?” a woman’s voice replied.  “Can this be my Torvi, grown so tall and strong?”


    The figure stepped out of the mists -  a Targ woman carrying a large shield and wielding a warhammer. She was short for a Targ woman, barely over six feet tall.  But she had a powerful frame, wide at shoulder and hip. Her long blonde hair was braided and wrapped around her head.  A swath of black paint spread over her eyes like a mask. 


    Torvi recognized her instantly.  She had worshipped this woman as a child.  Wanted to be like her in every way.  This was the famous shield maiden, Giesla.  Her mother. 


    Looking closer, Giesla seemed tired, haggard, almost put upon.  There was little of the fire behind her eyes that Torvi remembered.  She shook her head.  But that was so long ago.  Torvi was but a child when Giesla died.  Perhaps she had misremembered.


    Torvi lowered her fists quickly, suddenly embarrassed to have raised her hands against her tribe’s most famous warrior.


    Torvi stepped closer but stopped at Giesla’s raised hand and shake of her head.  “Mother?  Can it really be you?”  Torvi looked around the forest.  “Are we in the Lands Beyond?”


    Giesla nodded.  “I am, child.  I am,” she said tiredly.  “It is not what – never mind.”  She shook her head as if to clear it.  “You are but passing through.  Do not seek to stay overlong.”


    “It has been 12 years since you were killed, and I miss your counsel every day,” Torvi said.  “Are Brodhi and Brunhilde with you?  How do they fare?  Can I - ” but Giesla cut her off with another wave of her hand.


    “It has cost me greatly to reach out to you this way, and I cannot stay long, or my absence will be noted,” she said.  “I come with a warning.  Beware the world beyond worlds. Beware the land of the never-setting stars. Shades of the past dwell there...shades of a world long forgotten.  But not our shades.  Not our dead.  Whatever you may see or hear, do not be deceived or swayed.  You must make your heart as ice.”


    Torvi nodded, taking in her mother’s words.  “If they are not with the Fey, are my husband and child with you?”


    The sounds of battle grew closer and the shield maiden Giesla turned away.  “I must go now, my child.  It warms my heart to see what you have become.”


    Torvi followed after her quickly.  “Wait!  Where is my child?  Is she not here?  Where is Brunhilde?” she implored.  But Giesla walked on and was swallowed up by the mists.



    Torvi woke up on the hard floor of her rented room - tired, angry, frustrated and shaken.


    Tears fell freely as she lay there, wondering if her daughter’s spirit was at rest or lost somewhere in the worlds beyond.  The young Targ warrior cried for a time, but then wiped her eyes.  Enough, she said to herself.  Wherever Brunhilde’s spirit may be, it was not with the Fey.  Heeding Giesla’s words, she resolved to make her heart as ice when she and the others entered the lands of the Fey.