Prologue: Angeline

A woman rode a wolf with a little bundle, wrapped in brown furs, held in her arms, and glided across the night sky. She was wrapped in a grey cloak and had the hood pulled low over her face casting it into shadow. She slowly pulled back the brown furs to reveal a baby’s face. Her ruby red lips were parted as she breathed noisily, her cherub cheeks were pink with the cold, and her eyes were closed, the lashes casting shadows onto her cheeks. She’s sleeping peacefully; thank Freya, the woman thought as she pulled the furs back over its face to keep the cold out.
Presently she arrived at a cave, cut into the side of the mountains. The mysterious woman left the wolf outside after whispered promises of breakfast, and then proceeded into the cave with the baby held close to her. The woman walked through the twisting passages of stone always following the Viking rune “Algiz”, the sign for Valkyrie. Eventually she came to a room with a fire burning against the back wall and a wooden bench, covered with various furs, in front of it. The flickering light from the fire made the long shadows dance against the solid stone floor. The woman could make out the shadow of a man sitting on the bench, the same flames casting him into distorted shadows. She took a careful step forward making no noise. Suddenly the baby let out a piercing cry. There was a moment when everything froze. The woman set down the baby and drew her sword at the same time the man picked up his sword and jumped over the back of the couch, wings spread. Their swords met with a clash and they jumped apart.
“Lance it’s me!” the woman said.
He raised his sword again as if he hadn’t quite heard her, blinked, shook his head and blinked again, eyes wide. “Göndul?”
“Yes, love,” she sheathed her sword and pushed down his arm. His sword fell to the ground with a clatter. His arms wrapped around her and pulled her close. He was shaking.
“You need to tell me when it’s you that I’m about to kill. I nearly killed you. Foolish woman,” he looked up, fear still lingering in his eyes but a smile on his lips. He kissed her lightly.
“Who could blame you love?”
“Well, obviously I could,” his fear had drained, a wry smile taking its place.
“Would you like to see your daughter or not?” she asked, half laughing.
She scooped up the bundle of furs, Lance at her back and following her as close as her own shadow. She pulled back the furs and walked over to the fireside where she revealed the baby. Its eyes were now wide open and showed off their brilliant blue, framed by long dark lashes. The cherry lips were now pulled into a grin and a mop of dark brown hair sat on top of her head. The little girl giggled and grabbed a lock of her mother’s blonde hair and twisted it around her little fingers.
Lance walked over and looked down at his daughter. The worry that had clouded his eternally tense and battle ready face faded. The harsh angles and guarded expression melted into a soft smile as he glanced at the woman. He smiled with pride as the baby released her mother’s hair and turned towards the new face. He then bent over and scooped up the little girl, bouncing her in his arms.
“You know, she’s kind of perfect. She’s got your eyes, Göndul. And what beautiful little gems they are,” he cooed to the baby.
“She’s got your hair and smile too,” Göndul laughed.
“What’s her name? Huh, angel? What’s your name?” Lance tickled the little girl, a desperate smile on his face, his voice strained as if he was holding back tears.
“I was going to let you decide.”
“Really? Well, then I pick Angeline,” he punctuated each word with a kiss on Angeline’s cheeks and on Göndul’s cheeks.
“Angeline it is,” she gave a soft smile to the two most important people in her life.
The smile froze on her lips as the sound of crashing footsteps echoed from the front of the cave. Angeline began whimpering at the loud noises and Lance pressed her closer to his chest, making hushing noises. The two warriors exchanged a frightened glance.
“Göndul give me that child!” a voice boomed from across the room. The speaker came into view, a strong Yngling, a prince slayed in battle and sent to Valhalla. He was one of the Odin’s right hand men and looked strong enough to deserve that title.
“Run!” Lance shouted handing the baby back to Göndul and pulling out his sword.
She glared at him, a steely glare that had made some of the toughest warriors in Valhalla quake within their boots. He met her with an equal stare. Angeline whimpered, drawing both of their glances and melting Göndul’s glare. Lance shoved her to a wooden door that led to a rocky overhang connecting this room with the cave entrance. She stumbled through it and he pulled the door closed. There was no door knob on the outside.
Alright then let’s see if you can kill a ghost, Lance thought to himself spinning his sword and smiling as it whooshed through the air.
The woman fled with Angeline, racing wildly through the passage way. As soon as she was outside and next to the wolf she wrapped the baby in a bundle of blankets and strapped her securely to the wolf’s back.
“Go! Keep her safe, and run as fast as you can,” she said setting them off, “Take care of my baby.”
She wiped a tear and drew her sword, charging back into the cave and to Lance, tears still streaming down her face. The steely glare on her face before he had shoved her out the door returned. Angeline’s cries filled the night as the wolf flew through the air.