Just a Fire – A. Martine

Just a Fire – A. Martine

by Addison Black, JAN. 3rd, 3075

Over the past year, we at MAELSTROM have covered stories which have often bordered on the sensational, such as the famous rivalry between siblings Amaterasu and Susanoo, the Japanese gods of the Sun and the Storms respectively. We have also notably touched upon the scandalous account of the giant Paul Bunyan’s alleged affair with the Titan Selene. All of these have served a similar aim: to bring awareness of Lorendi, sanctuary of forgotten gods and goddesses, and bridge the gap keeping Humans and Lorendians separate.

In the midst of the cacophony of entities roaming Lorendi, it is often easy to forget some of the lesser-known, but no less interesting events. One such story is that of the Fall of Asgard, which many have attributed to the ongoing feud between former Valkyrie Brünnhilde and her father, the great Wotan.

It is common knowledge that all the inhabitants of Lorendi were forced to coexist after the collapse of their respective homes. It may be of interest for our readers to note that no one knows how Lorendi came to be. As more and more entities began to lose their homes, they found themselves inexplicably drawn to this vast and strange land, and found that they grew stronger within its borders. In this sense, Asgard is an anomaly; it appears to be the only place where the collapse was not instigated by humans, but the details of the episode remain unclear and contradictory.

Most of us have, at some point of our existences, idolized controversial figures, those insubordinate figureheads of change and defiance; for me, it has always been Brünnhilde, the powerful, enigmatic woman who lived and would have died for her ideals. The opportunity to decipher her story, essentially, is my childhood coming full circle.

According to the all but forgotten legend, after Brünnhilde’s lover and nephew Siegfried was killed by Hagen, son of the dwarf Alberich, the erstwhile Valkyrie threw herself into his funeral pyre, maddened with her grief. The same pyre became a full-blown wildfire which consumed Valhalla and all the gods present, marking the grim end of this mythology. But in reality, only Siegfried, who had already perished, was a casualty that day; the hall was destroyed in the fire and spread throughout the whole of Asgard, robbing the gods and goddesses of their dwelling place — but they did not die with it.

It was not long before the protagonists of the Norse mythology dispersed throughout Lorendi. In the diverse landscape of this city, most of the former residents of Valhalla are not as noteworthy as those of other tales; indeed, when one has to contend with the unrestrained antics of the Greek pantheon or the staggering number of parties thrown by the Yoruba gods and goddesses, it is easy to lose sight of the Norsemen and women of Asgard. Doubtless because of the calamitous end of their cycle, they have retreated into more tranquil existences and successfully blended in with the other Lorendians, to a fault.

Thus, shedding light on the series of events that led to the catastrophic and fiery confrontation (often referred to as the Pyre Incident or Brünnhilde’s Really Big Blunder) entails delving deeply into the relationship dynamics of some key characters of this episode.

Our investigation begins in the fields of Tarragon, a region in Southern Lorendi where those seeking respite from the sometimes hectic lifestyle of Aster or Amaryllis come to disengage. Eir, one of Brünnhilde’s sister Valkyries, has agreed to welcome me into her lavish country home. She has invited their sister Sigrün for the conversation. Here in Lorendi, it never snows nor rains (due to an agreement between the many gods and goddesses of the weather), so the afternoon is mild and pleasant when the three of us sit down around ginger pastries and warm tea.

I try not to let my wonderment show; I am in the presence of legends, after all, and these are women whose storied place in history would dwarf anyone’s confidence. Despite the fierce reputation they garnered when their exploits were recounted centuries ago, the Valkyries before me are even-tempered women who prefer walks in the sunny fields of Tarragon, these days, to bloody frays.

“Oh, believe me,” Sigrün quips with a devilish smile, “we still engage in the occasional skirmish, but when your primary function has been obsolete for quite some time, it leaves more opportunity to unwind, which was frankly overdue.”

I ask the sisters about their professional affiliation with their father Wotan, but the subject inevitably turns personal. Eir, who sees her sister Brünnhilde very often but has not spoken with their father in eons, tells me that while the Pyre Incident brought about the end of Asgard, it was a situation that had always been inevitable.

“I think,” she tells me with a hint of displeasure, “that the whole affair was handled quite poorly.”

Judging from Sigrün’s weary expression, this is a conversation the sisters have often had.

Eir shrugs, implacable. “I do. Be fair, Sigrün, you remember some of those occasions as well as I do.” She turns to me. “Brünnhilde was punished unfairly and often, although she was, on numerous occasions, absolutely powerless over the situation. Big things, small things, it mattered little. You see, she was always more resourceful — Wotan would say reliable — than the rest of us, so she was always called upon. She was even in charge of negotiations between the Vanir and the giants at one point, which had nothing to do with her Valkyrie duties. When things went well, Wotan would be proud: but that also meant that when they did not, everything would be her fault.” Whether Eir’s passion stems from sisterly partiality, or from her true belief, it is touching to behold.

“I will admit to that,” Sigrün concedes. “But I also remember warning Brünnhilde that she often involved herself in things she shouldn’t. She could never say no, and I told her to be careful. Besides, most of the Valkyries were starting to be jealous of the excess attention Wotan was giving her — except for us, of course.” The aside is for me.

“On some level, that is true,” Eir counters, “but ultimately, what doomed her was her involvement in stratagems on a grander scale which could at any given moment threaten the future of Asgard. Brünnhilde became a scapegoat because she was standing in the eye of the storm. It’s as simple as that.”

She is, of course, referring to the fabled ring that Loge persuaded Wotan to offer the Frost-Giants instead of Wotan’s wife’s sister Freia (which the giants had initially agreed upon).

“I don’t think a lot people are comfortable mentioning this,” Eir says with a bitter laugh, “but we all know that it’s Wotan’s incessant quest for the cursed ring that is the real source of Asgard’s downfall, not anything my sister may or may not have done.”

Watching them speak so casually about mythic events we humans have feasted upon for centuries dazes me temporarily. For the first time since I sat down with the sisters, I feel like I have pawed at something beneath the surface of my understanding. Whatever the rest of the world may have made out of it, this is just a family squabble for them, no different from the wine glasses and petty insults humans toss over Thanksgiving dinner with estranged relatives.

Sigrün has kinder words for her father than her sister does. This is surprising, considering that a long time ago, her lover Helgi was killed with the help of none other than Wotan. A suggestion of indulgence flitting across her lovely face, she says: “I agree wholeheartedly, but to say that they were at the source of everything that happened is unfair. In the long term, I believe that this was bound to turn out the way it did because everyone became different where the ring was concerned. Even the best of us could become monsters. And besides,” she adds with a chuckle, “when I see the other father figures of Lorendi, it puts our own situation in sharp perspective.”

The next stop to this journey leads me to the bustling streets of Aster, where one finds the most thriving and diverse community of Lorendians. Bars and shops manned by Pangu (the Chinese god of the Heavens and the Earth), Anubis (embalmer and protector of the graves), or even Bigfoot attract thousands of loyal customers on a daily basis. Further in the northern part of the neighborhood, an amusement park managed by the Loch Ness Monster and the Lady of the Lake is a popular fixture for the children of Aster. You will not find many of the more lofty characters of mythology here, but it is a welcoming and vivacious change of pace from Tarragon.

It is here, in a restaurant called Johnny’s Appleseed that Loge has agreed to meet with me. Sporting retro shades, his long braided silver hair slung over his shoulder, he strolls in an hour late, smoking an electronic cigarette despite the waiter’s protestations. After very short — and might I add, rather standoffish — introductions, Loge quickly broaches the subject.

“If you ask me,” he says, blowing smoke rings in my direction, “I think that everybody is exaggerating the whole affair. It was just a fire.”

I ask him about the ring, and his involvement in the story, an involvement some might consider the starting point of it all.

“That’s what I do. People come to me for help and I help them, by any means. Wotan and Fricka wanted a way out of the mess Freia was going to be in with the Frost-Giants, and I gave them that. If it all went haywire from that point on, find the right people to blame.”

“But surely,” I ask him, “your participation was more instrumental than that. Is it not true that you were the one Wotan came to every time a crisis needed an underhanded solution?”

What is more: Alberich’s ring was reportedly stolen by Wotan with Loge’s help, which — among the many ensuing collateral costs — resulted in Brünnhilde being stripped of her immortality by Wotan and confined behind a ring of fire on a mountaintop, of Loge’s own design.

“You say “underhanded”, I say “subtle”,” he answers, downing a cocktail in the blink of an eye, “and indeed, the fire was my idea. I’m rather proud of it: Wotan was leaning towards a cage made of fiery ice, but he has no taste for the aesthetics. Once again, it’s not personal. People ask for my help and I help them. I’m sorry that Brünnhilde is sore about the whole affair, but to say that I was at the heart of Asgard’s Fall is a bit of an overstatement.”

It suddenly becomes clear to me that the outcome of the strife involving Asgard may have been due to nothing more than likability. A popularity contest, one that the temperamental, unpredictable Brünnhilde was bound to lose, especially when facing off with an influential man like Loge. A question comes to me unplanned, then, but I don’t yet ask it. Loge has already changed the subject.

He seems generally unruffled about his life at Lorendi, and even admits that he prefers it to the one he led in Asgard; this place seems to have somewhat dulled his legendary mischievousness, replacing it instead with offhanded insouciance. Tipping backwards on his chair, he laughs throatily.

“It’s a riot. People here are carefree and they don’t dwell on the past. There is much less pressure to perform your duties here than there was before. Look around you: there are five different gods and goddesses of the sun, twenty personifications of love and fertility. Tricksters abound, and heroes and heroines meet their matches on a daily basis.”

Perhaps because I am slightly annoyed by him, or perhaps because my curiosity has been needled by his nonchalance, the question re-emerges, coming to my lips before I can make it tactful:

“Did you actually see Brünnhilde tip over the pyre that burned Asgard down? Did anyone?”

“Now… whatever do you mean by that?” he asks, almost teasingly, pulling on his cinnamon-spiced cigarette.

“Many people,” I elaborate, noticing how attentive he has suddenly become, “have accepted that the fire may have been an act of childish retaliation. But it seems to me that Brünnhilde would be the last person to benefit from such large-scale sabotage. Unlike people who, for example, would want their involvement in less-than-noble endeavors burned away in the debacle. People looking for a fresh start.”

“Do you mean to say,” he replies with laughter in his voice, “that you believe she either didn’t do it, or else was coaxed into it?”

It wouldn’t be the first time that emotionally vulnerable people had been taken advantage of, I proffer. Additionally, the entire event seems antithetical to the motivations people tack onto Brünnhilde. She has not continued a campaign of vindictiveness; in fact, she lives apart from everyone else, has done so for the past few centuries.

“Well,” he leans in close, almost serious, for the first time “you’re assuming that because you didn’t know her. “Black Sheep Ousted From Family For Daring To Defy Them”. Better yet: “Tortured Soul Manipulated Into Large-Scale Act Of Vandalism”.” He gestures across the air with an open palm. “It does sound good on paper, I’ll admit.”

We both laugh, although no joke has been uttered there. I am not done with the matter; but for the moment, I let the question lie on the table between us, knowing full well that I will find no admission or good-natured insight behind Loge’s determined indifference. He is happier to look to the future, and so I let him swerve the conversation back to Lorendi, and to his previous assurance that this is where redemption should be looked for.

He reaffirms the idea as we part ways.

“I think we’re better off here and I think that this,” he makes a general gesture to indicate the whole of Lorendi “would have happened anyway.”

In a rare moment of contemplation, he adds, mounting his motorcycle: “myths and mythologies, folklores and fairy tales. All of this could never last. It had to end, somehow. We at Asgard just happened to go out in a blaze of glory.” His sudden introspection seems to catch him off guard, and by the time he revs his engine, the mask of practiced casualness is back.

Amaryllis is less frenzied than Aster, but no less delightful. By day, it is not only an upper-class residential area, but also where some of the most luxurious boutiques and opportunities for recreational activities are located. It is, however, after dark that Amaryllis truly comes to life. Nightclubs and bars frequented by Lorendi’s elite entertain them until dawn, and it is not uncommon to witness weddings and other parties being celebrated with pomp and grandeur. Many of the warriors who were brought to Valhalla by the Valkyries can be found here, chatting up sprites and fairies, and cavorting with centaurs and leprechauns.

Hildr, one of Brünnhilde’s fellow Valkyries, meets with me in Saraswati’s Den, a trendy hotel bar owned by the goddess of the same name, and where the Valkyrie happens to reside. She is among those of her sisters who chose to adapt completely to her new life, which suits the grandiloquence (some say pretentiousness) she has often been associated with. She is often seen partying with Aphrodite and Metztli, the Aztec goddess of the Moon, when she is not hosting a popular biweekly talk show on socialite life in the 31st century.

I am on edge again, but in a way that differs from when I encountered Eir and Sigrün. Hildr barely looks corporeal. She is the incarnation of opulence, and as she enters the bar, almost every head turns in her direction: sheaths of white silk artfully wrapped around her tall frame complement her platinum blonde curtain of hair; she moves with the ease of one who knows she is in command. I can’t help but think that she must have been quite a sight on her horse in the battlefield, so many centuries ago.

She joins me and greets me charmingly, although her welcome lacks the warmth I felt with her sisters. Despite her imposing arrival, Hildr is anything but ardent; she is not interested in passionate arguments or zealous debates. The more I talk with her, the more it becomes clear that she has never been a strong proponent of the theory that Brünnhilde is a victim, that the fire was an accident, nor that Wotan had any responsibility in the downfall of Asgard. Still, in her debonaire attitude I sense a steeliness that could easily become callousness in a different light, a steeliness she makes only a halfhearted effort to conceal.

“Things are the way they are. Everyone thinks that just because we came here when our home became uninhabitable, and not because humans forgot about us, we need to find a reason, an explanation, someone to blame,” she drawls over the din of voices surrounding us.

The question I asked Loge emerges again, but I’ve had enough time to compose it more diplomatically.

“According to you, Brünnhilde is unequivocally responsible, then?”

“Oh, without a doubt. I was there. We were all there.” She says this without a hint of skepticism. The rapidity with which Brünnhilde’s alleged culpability was accepted as fact is shocking, considering how far-reaching its effects have been.

I frame my question differently: “Is this characteristic of the Brünnhilde you knew and liked?”

“It was just a fire,” she sighs, echoing Loge’s condescension almost to perfection. Then, leaning closer with a conspiratorial look, she whispers: “I think that Brünnhilde was bored, and decided that she wanted to be at the center of some sort of exciting melodrama. She’s always been that way. I think she was trying to distract us all from the fact that she had committed incest with her nephew Siegfried.”

“Could it be,” I advance, “less about anger or retaliation than an expression of her desperation? Or perhaps an attempt to force a new beginning at Asgard, by purging it of its convoluted mess? If she is to blame, that is.”

“And kill us all in the process?” Hildr titters. “You are kind, but that theory is nonsense.”

I know that I am toeing the line between journalistic integrity and the inexplicable inclination to defend a childhood hero, but I also recognize that there is no love lost between Hildr and Brünnhilde. She might be as biased as I am, no matter how much she feigns apathy in the matter. I begin to wonder whether a specific incident is to blame, but think better of asking her. I have a suspicion that Hildr’s graciousness is mostly skin deep.

When asked about her opinion on the Human-Lorendian relationship and whether the gods’ lives in Lorendi are a fitting substitute for their respective places of origin, Hildr is lost in thought for a long moment.

“At the risk of sounding complacent, I think that the lives we lead here are truly unparalleled. We’re all birds of a feather, to borrow your Earthly expression.”

“That might surprise our readers. It is widely assumed that most of you must be homesick.”

“Of course it’s assumed,” she smiles in patronizing amusement, leaning back in her chair, “but I don’t believe we ever needed humans worshipping us to survive; if that was the case, even Lorendi couldn’t save us. We would have faded into oblivion eons ago.”

“Why agree to tell your version of events to MAELSTROM’s readers, if you Lorendians are self-sufficient?”

“Because our stories matter,” Hildr replies, as if this were the most obvious answer in the world, “and they would have mattered whether there were people to tell them to or not. Together, we are stronger and more complex than we were separated. Ask anyone of any other mythology here, and they will tell you the same stories: betrayals, incest, illegitimate children, murder, jealousy… Brünnhilde, Wotan, Siegfried, and the ring? It was nothing special, by any standard, so I suggest we stop thinking it was.”

She waves her hand loftily as she says this, as if to brush a ridiculous notion away. Slicing through the roasted peach pie she ordered, Hildr continues: “combine these stories and make them interact, however, and you suddenly find yourself with a riveting spectacle. Lorendi is like a micro-universe that gathers all the tales and allegories of the world, as it was meant to be. We represent all of History, in its oddity and its diversity. We reflect the changing mentalities of humans and their cultures over the millennia, and if there is anything your readers should retain, it’s this: we are special.”

As we part, Hildr turns to me again, and I can see that indifference has crept back into her expression.

“I don’t go around saying this often, because some people still feel raw about the debacle, but I don’t regret any of it. I think the fire did us all a favor.” The elevator doors close on her as she looks down at her communication device, her attention already elsewhere.

Fricka has declined to speak to MAELSTROM for this story, but surprisingly, Wotan has agreed give us his perspective on the narrative. The man himself, former Supreme Ruler of Asgard. I try to contain my excitement, lest it render me unfocused. In order to meet him, I travel to Angrec, on the West Coast of Lorendi, where many financial and political institutions have settled themselves. The older, more established gods, goddesses, and beings often purchase grandiose estates here, and its seaside location makes it a perfect place to take short but sweet vacations.

Wotan co-owns many of these residences along with Zeus and Anansi, and has made his fortune leasing them to the entities who flock to their shores, looking for more upscale lifestyles. I arrive in his opulent home and I am seated on a beautiful sunbathed patio by one of his assistants and offered a drink. As I wait, I become rather nervous, expecting, from the many stories and accounts surrounding him, a boisterous and roguish man. He is anything but. The man I meet is courteous and pleasant, and there is no trace of arrogance in his stance. Waves of fiery red hair fall loosely over his shoulders; in fact, everything about him seems loose and deliberate. Unlike his brother Loge, he removes his sunglasses when he speaks to me, despite the fact that we are outdoors. It is hard to believe that this is the selfsame person who has committed adultery innumerable times and betrayed his closest relatives in his relentless pursuit for Alberich’s ring. Still, I keep my guard up. I have interviewed too many a charming entity not to know better.

I ask him about his role in the Fall of Asgard and, after a careful pause, the god launches into a leisurely diatribe. Watching him speak is simply enthralling; it doesn’t take long for me to understand why everyone is drawn to this articulate and persuasive man, in spite of the fact that half of what he says seems wholly calculated and insincere.

I notice, as he speaks, that he never once acknowledges his purported obsession with the ring, nor does he mention Brünnhilde. I decide to be blunt.

“Did you see her do it, and if so, do you think it was intentional?”

Wotan deflects my first question so masterfully that I almost don’t catch it; instead, he leans into the latter part.

“Ah, Brünnhilde.” He chuckles warmly, as if thinking fondly of a petulant, rebellious child. “That girl has always had a viselike hold on me. I hear that she’s been going around accusing me of having ruined her life. I think she needs a scapegoat because everyone seems to blame her for having spread the fire that destroyed Valhalla. But that’s all it was, just a fire.”

Unlike with the others, when Wotan says this, the Pyre Incident seems indeed reduced to a minor skirmish, something small, something not worth bothering about. Intentions and motivations barely seem to register for him.

He continues: “It was an accident, all those who were there know that, but if a little gossip and rumors are that bothersome to her, she can keep lambasting me if she wants. I think that she will find that whether they were initially angry about losing their home or not, most inhabitants of Asgard will agree that Lorendi has been very kind to them. She can get out of her self-imposed exile whenever she wants.”

“But what about the many incidents before that? What about the one involving Siegfried, for example? Surely Brünnhilde has reasons to be angry not only with you, but with all the men who have wronged her in her life.” I would be angry too, if I had a father like him, I almost say to illustrate my point; but I think better of it.

“Everyone thinks her punishment was unwarranted. The truth is, I was never ungrateful for the consideration she always showed me; but you see, I am a ruler. I must not appear fickle, volatile; I must appear to be a man of my word, one who does not condone trespass and defiance. When I decided to leave her on the mountain and strip her of her immortality, it was for her own protection. I was doing her a favor. The ring of fire was entirely my idea, I’m rather proud of it. Loge was partial to a cage made of burning ice, but I’ve always been more creative than him when it comes to this,” he adds with twinkle in his eye (it is now unclear whether the ring of fire should be credited to Loge or to Wotan).

Despite his placid facade, I can see that Wotan is tired of speaking about this chapter of his life, and especially about his daughter. Nevertheless, as much as I would rather avoid irritating him, this is the main reason this investigation was launched, and it is the key to understanding why Valhalla imploded in such a spectacular fashion. More so than Hildr or Loge, Wotan’s detachment pricks in a particularly painful way. He is, after all, Brünnhilde’s own father, but seemingly the one least concerned about her fate. So I push him further about his theories regarding the Really Big Blunder.

“In the confusion of the brawl, anyone could have been responsible. Anyone, in fact, could have done such a thing, for very different reasons. Asgard had many enemies, some of whom have been said to include Loge,” I tentatively proffer.

When he answers, he disregards the question underneath my question.

“I think that there are long-term causes and short-term causes. If we only focus on the short term, then it appears that I am the instigator and that Brünnhilde was a victim. If you want my opinion, I think that she should have made better choices about the men she chose to surround herself with. I always thought that falling in love with Siegfried was not a good idea and the fact that he died in such a fashion is truly regrettable. Do I regret my actions, however? Absolutely not. In each situation, one must weigh the outcomes, and I always pick the outcome that will produce the least damaging results. No one comes out of battles completely unscathed and I would think she’d know that, what with being a Valkyrie and all.”

He lets the words hang between us, then elaborates on the long-term reasons. I am amused to note that he shares an almost identical opinion with Hildr on this matter.

“I think that in this scope, Asgard is in no way different from any of the other Lorendi folks’ homes. We all collapsed, albeit in different ways. Many of us Lorendians have had to deal with a millennium of grudges and small grievances, and you make a compelling point. If it had not been Brünnhilde accidentally tipping over the funeral pyre, it would have been Alberich instigating a riot, the Jötnar storming Asgard, or Freia and Thor getting into a heated argument that destroyed the sacred halls of our home. I think we tend to try rationalizing the Pyre Incident to the point of obsessing over the details when one should be looking at the greater picture. I think our time was bound to come to an end, and this is something I’ve always accepted. It’s the only reason why I have found it so easy to forgive and forget, and I wish Brünnhilde would do the same.”

Brünnhilde has refused to sit down with us for an interview, thus depriving us of the most valuable point of view in this whole story. I suspect that she is handling too much grief over the death of her lover Siegfried, among other vitriol, and if Wotan is telling the truth, the guilt of having burned down Asgard by accident must surely weigh on her deeply. Perhaps with time, she will be able to bring herself to a point of closure, but for the time being, we are left with an almost — but alas, not wholly — complete story.

“Is there anything you would like to tell your daughter, in case she reads this article?”

Initially, Wotan dismisses the idea. Not for the first time during this investigation, I feel myself step out of my reporter’s shoes, and stand as a woman, asking for another woman’s sake. After a few moments where he seems to be deciding something, Wotan softens. He turns his stare to the distance where the sunsets are dyeing the clouds in gradient hues of scarlet. For a very long time, he squints into one of Lorendi’s many setting suns before finally turning to me again.

“I do, actually. At some point I realized, since I’ve been living here, that what I used to think was important really isn’t, you know? I thought, before in Asgard, that once you lost love it was over. I thought that once you were provoked, nothing mattered but getting justice for the offense. I thought that the unshakable pursuit of a goal outweighed everything else. Lorendi truly puts everything in perspective. Even the ring, which invaded my every thought, is lost, never to be found again. I heard they turned the whole thing into a popular book series a few centuries ago, The King of the Rings or something,” he nods wisely. “Even if we never see each other again, I suppose I want her to find it in herself to realize the same. Only then can one truly start over.”

Brünnhilde lives in Valeria, where most of the demigods, demigoddesses, and lesser folklore entities, as well as many of the smaller animals of the myths and folklores reside. It is rather separate from the rest of Lorendi, more so than Tarragon, but I am told that it is a pleasant place to live. Our readers might remember Valeria from a story covered by one of my fellow journalists, in the fourth issue of Mores and Icons, concerning the successful activewear business venture launched by Br’er Rabbit and his Senegalese cousin Leuk, the cunning hare.

Through the many collected instances surrounding the shunned Valkyrie, a patchwork has emerged. I simultaneously feel like I know Brünnhilde, and don’t know her at all: she is a sad, lonely, possibly confused woman, but she also remains a mystery.

I would have relished a chance to hear her own words. Brünnhilde may have refused our invitation because she thought that her character would be assassinated. But perhaps she would have appreciated knowing that among us mortals, she continues to be celebrated for her singularity, no matter her part in Asgard’s Fall. It is regrettable that her voice is glaringly absent in the panorama, and no amount of my personal of professional investment will be enough to change that fact.

However, while we may not have gathered her side of the tale, a bigger picture, is discernible. We may never know more than what was revealed in bygone and sometimes contrasting accounts of the entities who were involved in the incident, but it is clear that many, if not all of them (save Brünnhilde, perhaps) have moved on from it. The Lorendians have, for the most part, chosen to embrace their new homes and coexist peacefully, putting the rickety past behind them.

One must conclude that many of these characters, as Wotan and Hildr have so eloquently said, live similar lives and often meet similar ends, and the details don’t matter. The exchange between all of these tales and events has produced a world that continues to fascinate humans of the 31st century, a world which will hopefully encourage them to tap into the mythological histories just waiting to be happened upon. Simultaneously, however, the more stories we publish, the more I hope our readers come to realize that these entities are not so different from us after all: young women still hate their fathers sometimes, unrequited love abounds, and egos can govern many a relationship.

It’s a disappointment, and it’s a relief.

A disappointment for the little girl in me who saw Brünnhilde as the epitome of uncompromising strength: ultimately, she is as flawed, if not more, than I thought her to be.

A relief for the woman I am today, precisely for those same reasons: I can gently remove her from her pedestal, and with it, the unattainable expectations I had held myself to, as I tried to emulate her.

Short of doing away with our heroes altogether, we can at least try to forgive them, even if we are no closer to understanding them.

Next month, we delve into the legendary rivalry between Ra and Apollo, the respective Egyptian and Greek gods of the Sun, and the confrontation that nearly robbed Lorendi of sunlight for a century.

Your thoughts?

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