As the last giant body fell to the ice, the frozen lake cracked with the weight o’ a hundred fallen titans. In a wake of cold blood, the worst scum of the Ice Giant horde piled up like slaughtered dogs. Yet, as the snow fell hard and the wind churned to a proper storm, the form of a legend was left standing in the squall.
He was an armored man, splattered with red blood and ichor splotched stains of battle. With the flash of lightening, he looked toward his kinsmen with the unyielding gaze of tireless vigor and the boiled over determination of the storm. Splintered arrow and spear were nothing here. Bloodied, but unbroken, if ever there was a warrior, he was one.
To the Norsemen who raged this day, this man was both legend and brother. Truthfully, this Norseman was a god in the midst of men. More truthfully, he was the thunder god, sent from Valhalla by his one eyed father who watches all, to fight by the side of simple men who should fear death and dying. Yet, in the bone, muscle and sinew of his godly arm and hand, he who was still their brother held a mighty hammer, Mjolnir, and this one who held it was known as Thor.
His hammer forged of sacred Uri, Mjolnir knew no bounds. Over the sound of the wind and falling snow, his voice needed no echo to be heard.
“Who would follow me down ‘ere, to dark stretches further, across the lake, o’ the hold of the demon Laughey, to smite a frozen devil worth a thousand deaths? Untold riches lay therein, and any man who would cross er’ crystal moats would know such favor,”
The twelve warriors who remained all stood silent, their spears howled in the wind with a sound of a dying ghost. Still, they looked at the thunder god with the hungry eyes of craven wolves. Behind them, a score of fallen thanes sat frozen in death’s grip, already sent to Valhalla in rage n’ blood. Yet, the twelve stood with eyes still longing for the fray.
Ahead, th’ere god again, raised a hammered arm.
“Who would follow me, the god Thor? Who would follow me to death most certain, not for glory or honor, but to do what must be done? To right wrongs, to die with meaning and moral! ”
Again, the crowd of warriors sat still and the snow fell. Thor, with blood and hammer stood alone, confused.
“Come ‘ere then! Who would follow me for a seat with my father? To sit in Valhalla with a full cup of mead and to lust for endless war n’ women, to hold a seat in his revered hall till time or Ragnarok do part our bless’ed Bifrost?”
Again, no one spoke and the wind cried between the rings on their mail and the frozen hair in their beards. The great thunder god lowered his hammer and looked to the foul keep of the ice giant Laughy.
With silence, the Norse spearmen and holders of deadly axes said not a word as they stood like eagles in the snow.
“What then, Norse men? What call or cree’d would make you go with Thor? What call to rage against ‘ere devils who would undo this ‘ere Midgard?”
From the crowd of Norsemen, one of the warriors stepped forward, a bearded thane with a bloody axe an’ red eyes o’ murder.
“I would go with thee, great Thor, but for none of the reasons you said,” He spoke into the wind.
“As would I,” a voice beyond said.
“..and I ” another said.
“Mighty Thor, I would fight with you down there,” the rest all growled into the wind and snow.
“But why?” The thunder god asked. “I have asked thee, to fight for all reasons I know, why would you take arms now when not before?
“Master Thor, god of that which thunders in the rain, we would fight because we are your kin. We would fight because you would go through hel itself, and yet no cold force of demon’s ice would let us see you go alone. Just as Mjolnir would never leave your side, ne’er would we, and that is all, and all enough. Ne’r glory, nor riches, no promise of fav’r ‘er the beyond. Know that we would run with you, spear high, even to death itself and fight proud side by side, if for no other reason than so you would not have to fight alone.”
With the crack of lightening and the sound of booming thunder, Thor gave a smile and raised Mjolnir high above the crowd. In turn, the thanes raised spear and axe to meet his call. With those boons, the ice stopped falling, and the sound of screaming men broke the calm of a petty storm.
‘”Then worthy my spears and men-at-arms, I say we charge as one, an’ when the blood is spilled in ere’ icy hall, let us all bleed as worthy together,”
As he looked down from his icy castle, the dread Frost Giant Laughy saw the crowd and laughed with Loki, the foolish meddler by his side. Yet, tru’ be told, even that iced over heart of a frost giant king er’ felt the bite o’ fear when those Norsemen call’d.
Beyond the cold, above all, through the eyes of greatest Heimdall, the all father Odin watched as the Norsemen flung themselves ‘en to the wild fray.
“Ne’er had I seen this, my love.” He spoke to dearest Freya. “On this day, with these twelve warriors, the worthy are born,”
From his throne, he raised a’ mighty form and uttered the deadly word;
“Let no honor be greater in Valhalla,” old one eye shout’d, from Bifrost with his sword.
He turned to dearest, Freya, who stood loyal by his side;
“Ready twelve spots er’ in my great hall, ready for them an’ no one else. To die for this creed, let there be no higher honor than to rage alongside a countrymen, to die together and not alone, to face doom not divided, but back to back as brothers, if for no other reason than to not leave thy brother behind,”
Freya made it so, and readied those places as ‘e say. Twelve cups were pour’ed of finest mead and plates of sweetest meats were set. As the fates nodded in agreement, the stars and seas wrote the words. On icy mountains and green plains, the worthy were borne on that day; Twelve warriors who would run to death, if only to fight and die by each other’s side.