The Little Woman
Loki and Aralia are presenting their newest child to the court. This is their 8th child. It has been 50 years since the omega revolution. Thor looks upon them with both love and jealousy. He is still alone. There have only been a handful of omegas that have come of age in the last few years and Thor was rejected by every single one. He has come to the conclusion that he needs to look for love with a beta. They will have a harder time conceiving. He will in all likelihood only get one heir from whomever he selects, but it will have to do. People are beginning to talk. More and more there are people in the kingdom that believe Loki’s first born son will be the heir. Loki has even been taking steps to prepare Fenrir for the throne, should Thor never find a mate.
Fenrir is a massive young man with long black hair with piercing blue green eyes and facial features that give him a predatory appearance. Some say his gaze is reminiscent of a wolf’s, hungry and focused. He is even taller than Thor by about 6 inches and just as brawny. He is skilled in both battle and magic. While there are many that think the young man worthy of someday taking the throne, there are others that hold prejudices against his Jotunn heritage. The fact that he also shares no blood with Odin is also a point of contention. Better to skip Thor and give the title of heir over to his younger brother Balder, who is close in age to Fenrir. There is still time, however. Thor is still a young man himself and has ample time to find a wife.
It doesn’t feel that way to Thor, however. Everyone he knows has been paired off. He is constantly surrounded by his brother’s children and his own younger brother Balder. Though Balder is Fenrir’s uncle, they act more like brothers towards each other as they have been raised together. Thor is lonely. He hates to admit as such. He’s the golden god, beloved by the entire kingdom. He suppresses a scowl as Loki kisses his wife and praises her for giving him so many beautiful children. Thor leaves the feast early to sulk alone in his chambers.
The Lady Sif stares down the line of new recruits for Army. She is displeased to find only one female among them. She will be assessing each of them today to see if have what it takes to be one of Odin’s warriors. The fact that the lone female applicant is incredibly short is disheartening to Sif. She can show her no mercy or favoritism.
“You there young miss, what is your name?” Sif asks the little woman. She has dark brown hair with red highlights. In the right light it looks like it is catching fire. She’s petite but she has a harden gaze.
“I am Audra Gundirthdottir.” She says firmly.
“Gundirth’s daughter? The Captain of the guard?”
“Yes my lady.” She answers. Sif sees it now. She is the spitting image of her father, with her mother’s height.
“You realize I must be just as tough on you as I would be on any of the others here.”
“I would expect nothing less.” She says.
“Good. Show me what you can do. What is your weapon of choice?”
“Double sided battle axe and daggers.” Audra says as she pulls it out of it covering on her back. It is small for a battle axe. Obviously commissioned and made specifically for her. This is good. She will need any advantage she can get today. Her body is lithe but her arms are well defined from repeatedly hoisting and swinging the thing in the air with much practice.
The women take their places in the sparring arena opposite each other as the men watch with eagerness. Sif charges the girl full speed with her sword drawn in a direct assault. Audra waits until the last moment and pirouettes out the way dragging one of her daggers along Sif’s bicep cutting her deep. Sif finds herself having to keep her sword up using the strength of her non-dominant arm. The women turn and face each other again. Sif charges her again. She swings aiming for Audra’s midsection. Audra, much to Sif’s surprise, runs towards the sword. Audra drops to her knees at the last moment and uses her momentum to slide under the sword, completely avoiding the blow. In that moment as she is sliding through the dirt, she flicks her dagger against the wrist of Sif’s other arm, hitting keys tendons and blood vessels. Sif’s sword is now too heavy for her to hold up. They turn and face each other again.
“Enough.” Sif announces. “You are surprising little one. You are quick, deceptive, and stealthy. Your fighting style is reminiscent of that of Prince Loki. You will be assigned to him for training. Report to him tomorrow morning. Healer!” Sif shouts for the sparring healer to come patch her up before she assesses the next contender. When he is done Sif picks out the next one and continues. Audra leaves the arena to tell her father the news. She runs into the palace and waits for him outside the meeting room where he is with King Odin and his sons and advisors. She stands there with a bright smile on her face waiting patiently.
Finally the doors swing open and the King and his advisors all depart in different directions.
“Father!” She yells.
“Audra my child, I take it your audition went well?” Gundirth beams at his daughter.
“Yes Father. I defeated the Lady Sif in battle with just two moves. She says I fight like Prince Loki and that I am to start my training with him tomorrow!” She exclaims with pride.
“Prince Loki? Interesting selection, though I had expected the Lady Sif would want to train you herself. He is a very cunning man, you could not hope for a better teacher.” He says.
Loki is not far away when he hears his name on lips of the Captain of the Guard. It peaks his interest and he walks over to the father and his daughter.
“Captain, I overheard my name. I trust you are speaking well of me?” Loki says with a smile.
“Yes my Prince. May I introduce you to my daughter Audra. She just defeated the Lady Sif in her audition. She is to report to you tomorrow morning to begin her training as a warrior.” He explains.
“I see. I remember you young Audra. You have grown into a very lovely strong woman. Pray tell me how you defeated the Lady Sif?” Audra describes the moves she made and the daggers she used to disarm Sif.
“Brilliant. You took away her strength and rendered her defenseless. No doubt if the fight had continued you would have vanquished her fully. Well done. I can see why Sif wants me to train you. You understand such tactics will only get you so far on the battlefield. There will be times when you will have to attack instead of waiting for the other to come to you.”
“Yes My Prince.” She smiles brightly.
“Until tomorrow morning then.” He nods to them both and takes his leave.
Thor, Sif, Loki, Fandral, Volstagg, and Hogun look upon their new crop of recruits. The recruits are divided up among according to fighting style and sent with their prospective masters. Thor and Volstagg get the biggest strongest fighters that prefer battle axes and clubs. Fandral and Sif get the warriors that prefer swords and fencing. Hogun gets the fighters that excel in hand to hand combat. There aren’t many of those. Last is Loki’s group. There are just three.
The three recruits in front of Loki do not have what would be called “the warrior look”. Like Loki they are either lithe or short or passive looking in some way. Were it not for Loki, these three would most likely have been rejected because of their fighting style. All the other fighters here are aggressive and ready to attack, but Loki’s recruits are patient and calculating.
“I know what the three of you are thinking. You are thinking that you are the rejects and the misfits, and you are right. None of you are suited to fighting on an open battlefield. Stealth and deception are your chosen weapons. But make no mistake, I will train you in the fighting styles of all the other groups here. You will learn to fight with swords, axes, clubs, daggers, and your bare hands. I will also train all of you about politics, methods of concealment, and about various poisons. You three will learn to fight the battles of Asgard in the shadows. I will teach the three of you to become skilled assassins.
Audra looks at the other two men in their group. The skinny blonde one had defeated Sif by grabbing a hand full of sand and throwing it in Sif’s eyes after she had disarmed him. He should have lost, but in her moment of blindness he disarmed her and made her concede the fight. His tactic was not considered to be an honorable one, but a win is a win. The other male, the one with broad shoulders, brown hair and a forgettable face, was actually rather skilled with a sword. He defeated Sif by cutting her belt, pants-ing her in front of everyone. She did not find it amusing.
Loki takes his turn with each recruit to assess their skills for himself. Overall he is pleased. These recruits were well placed. Loki is most pleased by the little woman and surprised Sif did not keep her to train herself. She is a small and unassuming little thing, perfect for espionage. Loki will train her to worm her way into the homes of their enemies, working as a servant girl. She will then be in a position to listen in on conversations, and even kill if necessary. Yes, Loki is quite certain he already has a favorite among this bunch.
Audra is disappointed. Assassins don’t get glory. Their whole lives are lived in the shadows. Their work is all premised on the fact that others never find out what they do or how they do it. This was not what she had in mind when she tried out for the King’s Army yesterday.
The first day of training ends and Audra slums back home with a heavy heart. She tells her mother and father of what their Prince intends for her. Gundirth tries to comfort his daughter and remind her of what a great honor it is be under his tutelage. Being an assassin may not garner all the glory and fame she was hoping to achieve, but there is no honor or pride in what she will do.
Audra disagrees. Many warriors do not like the assassins specifically because they are trained in deception, which is not considered an honorable practice. Gundirth reminds his daughter that the prince is right in that not all wars are fought on the battlefield. People like her are instrumental in keeping the peace and preventing wars before they start.
Audra goes to bed that night still feeling heavy in her heart. She is almost asleep when her eyes pop open in sudden realization. The tournament is coming up. If she cannot earn glory on the battlefield then she can earn it in the tournament. It will be coming up soon, and she will be able to demonstrate her skills in front of the entire kingdom. Audra closes her eyes again and falls asleep with a smile on her face.