Valkyrie on my Shoulder
"I want up" You stop what you're doing to look at your little sister. The young Valkyrie looks, quite frankly, rather ridiculous. Unable to obtain actual armor and weapons, she has made do with cardboard and kitchen gear. You note that the pot she's using as a makeshift helmet comes down to her brilliant blue eyes. "I want up!"
"Why do you want up?" Her four small wings flap in agitation.
"You know I'm too small to fly on my own!" Her armor rustles slightly as she stomps her feet.
Dreading the answer you ask, "Why do you need to fly?"
She huffs and responds, "I need to smite the heretics and the infidels!"
"Can't you smite them without having to fly?"
"I have to fly! If I don't fly, I'll be a hero!" You fold your arms and give her a confused look. When she realizes you aren't going to respond, she continues. "I don't want to be just a stupid hero, I'm a Valkyrie! We're much cooler! So I need to fly!" Judging by her tone, you can't imagine her dropping this. With a sigh, you get down onto your knees.
"Well, are you getting on or what?" Her eyes light up and she squees for a little bit before regaining her composure. "What was that?"
"Wh-what was what?” she mutters as she climbs onto your shoulders. As you stand up, she thrusts her paper sword in forward. "CHARGE!"
"What do you mean charge? I thought you were flying, not riding."
"I am flying, see." You don't make an attempt to see, but you can feel her flap her wings. You can almost sense her smirking.
"Alright, alright. So where do you want to fly first?"
"We must go to the ancient land of the living room, to save Mr. Bear from the infidels!"
"Would it be ok if we stopped by the kitchen first? I think I need a snack."
"Mom said that we shouldn't eat snacks before dinner so that good crusaders of justice can eat everything on their plate!"
"Even if it's just a cookie?"
"... Ok, we can get provisions in the kitchen. Then we can save Mr. Bear!" As you head towards the kitchen, you can't help but smile while you listen to your sister announcing her plan to rescue her teddy bear from the clutches of her imaginary foes.
You lean back into your chair after finishing your summer homework. You curse your luck for having a mother who was not only a teacher, but was also a member of the heavenly host! She claimed that a mind that lacked stimulation could easily fall into debauchery and sin, and insisted on giving you some homework every week. She didn’t give a lot, but that didn’t stop it from being a pain. You rest your eyes for a moment and sit in silence until you hear the familiar rustling of cardboard armor. You open your eyes and turn to face Jeanne, your little Valkyrie sister, who is confidently walking into your room. As usual, she’s wearing her silly looking cardboard armor, which was too big for her and rustled whenever she moved. Underneath the cardboard, she wore a modest, white backless dress and a pair of dark blue shorts. A specially made hole in her armor kept her snow white wings free. She was too young to fly just yet, but every once in a while she’d flap her wings in an effort to cool herself off. You muse that she’d probably be cooler without her armor, but whatever. Her helmet was actually a large pot she had “borrowed” from the kitchen that came down to her brilliant blue eyes and hid her shoulder length, golden curls. She was also holding the Sword of Sanctity, a small plastic saber that replaced her old cardboard one when she forgot it outside the night you had a rain storm. She was inconsolable until your father came home with the new, more rain resistant blade.
“Are you done yet?” she asks.
“Just finished,” you reply as you stretch yourself out. “What about you?”
“I don’t have to do any homework.”
“And why not?”
“As a Valkyrie, I’m less likely to be led astray than a human,” she said with a puffed up chest and a smug smirk.
You watch her closely before saying, “So you didn’t do it then.”
“Nuh uh! I don’t have to do it!” Jeanne protests.
“So if I go and ask mom, she’ll tell me that she didn’t give you any homework?” Jeanne starts to fidget nervously at the mention of your mother.
“M-maybe I-I started, but got stuck and haven’t finished…” she finally admits.
“Now that sounds more likely. Do you want me to help you out later?”
“Y-yes! Thank you!” Jeanne says before she proceeds to stare at you in anticipation. She’s obviously waiting for you to get up and go play with her at the local park. Since she’s been bugging you all day about going, you decide it’s a good time to tease her in revenge. “Sooo, are we going?”
“Going where?” you ask.
“You know. The park.”
“The park?” You pretend to think for a moment before saying, “I don’t know… I’m feeling a little tired…”
“B-but you promised!”
“Did I?” you muse. “I don’t remember making a promise like that.”
“You did!” Jeanne whines. “You did promise we’d go!”
You grimace as you ask, “And you’re sure I said we’d go today?” Jeanne rapidly nods her head in response. “I see… Well… I’m sorry Jeanne, but…”
“Gotcha!” you say with a shit eating grin plastered across your face. Jeanne looks at you dumbfounded for a moment before her cheeks puff out and she starts to pout. You start to laugh as she storms out of your room. Still laughing, you quickly grab your wallet and cellphone, and chase after her. “So are you going to be like this the whole time?” you tease.
“You’re not funny!” she pouts.
“Not even a little bit?”
“Not even a teeny tiny, itsy bitsy bit!” You start to laugh again as you both reach the front porch. You both put on your shoes and leave your home to head to the park. Jeanne continues to act aloof after you leave, but she’s soon holding your hand and excited for the chance to play outside. It doesn’t take long for you to reach the park and you quickly look over its jungle gym, monkey bars, slides, swings merry-go-round and other paraphernalia of playground fun. That’s when you spot the other children. A young lizardman and what you think might be a dhampir are having a toy sword fight while a siren watches on. You note that they must be as old as Jeanne before you notice that she’s hiding behind you.
“You ok there Jeannie?” you ask slightly worried. “You’re not getting all shy on me now are ya?”
“No…” she mutters, still clinging to your leg.
“Then what’s wrong?”
She timidly points a finger at the playing trio and whispers, “Monsters are scary…” She grips your leg tighter and you swear that you can feel her tremble. You look back at the other kids and wonder if Jeanne’s like this because they’re monsters, or if she’s timid around other kids in general. Regardless, you decide it might be time for a little big brother assistance.
“They don’t look all that scary to me.”
“But you’re really big!” Jeanne protests.
“True,” you admit. “But I know you’re really brave. I bet you can walk right up to them and talk to them like you talk to me.” You wait for her to respond, but she doesn’t say anything. “I could go with you in case it gets ugly.” Jeanne looks at you, then she looks at the other kids before she comes out from behind you and grabs your hand. You give her hand a reassuring squeeze, and you both make your way towards the other kids. As you approach the trio, their fight ends with the lizardman pushing the dhampir into the sand. When you get close enough you call out to them saying, “Hey!” and you immediately feel the piercing, suspicious glare of the children’s parents/caretaker. A little unnerved, you continue, “What’re you kids up to?”
“What does it look like we’re doing?” the dhampir asks with a cocky smile as she picks herself up off the ground. “I’m trying to save Princess Zoe from the clutches of Royse, the lizard queen!”
“And you’re not doing a good job of it Emilia,” the lizardman jokes.
“Shut up Royse!” Emilia snaps.
“You shut up!” Royse argues.
“No, you shut up!”
“No you!” You watch in amazement as their argument quickly devolves into shouting “You!” at each other. Distracted by her two friends, you don’t notice Zoe the siren approach Jeanne. Zoe stares at your sister with a big, friendly smile spread across her face, while Jeanne is squeezing your hand like a vice and looks really worried.
“Hi~!” Zoe chirps. “My name’s Zoe~! What’s yours~?”
You give Jeanne a chance to reply, but then you say, “Her name’s Jeanne. She’s a Valkyrie.”
“A Valkyrie~? Wow~!” Zoe says, not sounding particularly surprised or shocked. Emilia and Royse on the other had immediately stop squabbling to rush over and get a closer look at Jeanne. “Your wings are so pretty~!”
“T-thank… you…” Jeanne mumbles as she tries to hide her growing blush.
“Are you sure you’re a Valkyrie?” Royse asks. “I thought Valkyrie were supposed to be strong and cool and stuff.”
“Your sword’s really cool! Can I see it?” Emilia excitedly asks.
“N-no!” Jeanne almost screams.
“No?” asks a confused looking Emilia. “Why not?”
“B-because…” Jeanne looks to you with worried eyes. You give her a reassuring smile and give her hand another light squeeze. “B-because the Sword of Sanctity is a holy blade that can’t be handled by mere mortals!”
“Really?” Emilia asks, sounding intrigued. “Then it’s a good thing I’m not a regular mortal! I’m the daughter of the great hero Bob and a shitty vampire!”
“I don’t think your mommy would like to hear you call her a shitty vampire~,” Zoe warns.
“Pfft! I’m not scared of her!” the dhampir bragged. “So can I see your sword?”
“I’m sorry, but you still can’t. Since you’re the daughter of a vampire, you’ll turn into salt if you touch it!” Jeanne replies.
“Aw poo…” Emilia sighs. “I bet I could have beat Royse with that sword… Thanks mom!”
“In your dreams maybe,” Royce sneers. “A cool sword doesn’t help when you’re an uncool wienie!”
“I’ll show you an uncool wienie!” Emilia shouts as she rushes towards Royse, starting a new “totally epic” sword fight.
“You can do it Emilia~!” Zoe sings. “I believe in you~!” You watch the surprisingly competent sword fight before turning your attention to Jeanne, who’s beginning to look excited. You go back to watching the battle with a smile and watch Emilia and Royse closely. They’re both rather skilled for being so young, but you can tell that Royse is the better fighter out of the two. To make up for the difference in skill, Emilia presses her attack with almost boundless energy. You conclude that Emilia’s fighting a losing battle, when Royse proves you right by tripping the dhampir with her tail. She raises her sword to strike down her helpless foe, but Jeanne rushes between them and deflects the blow with her own plastic blade.
“Y-you saved me!” Emilia gasps.
“Of course! Even though you’re the child of a vampire, you are still a hero. As a Valkyrie, it is my duty to aid any hero when they face their darkest hour!” Jeanne proclaims.
“So cool!” Emilia squeals as your sister begins to exchange blows with Royse. They both seem to be closely matched in terms of skill. You guess that lizardmen and Valkyrie must follow the same philosophy of teaching their children how to fight when they’re young. The thought brings back memories of when you were younger and your mother began to show you the way of the sword. After a particularly fierce exchange of blows, Royse and Jeanne both jump back to catch their breath.
“You’re pretty strong,” Jeanne admits. “Most servants of darkness wouldn’t last half this long against me.”
“Why thank you,” Royse says with a smirk. You’re not too bad yourself, but I think it’s time we finished this!”
“Don’t forget about me!” Emilia shouts as she gets up and charges at Royse. The lizardman easily dodges Emilia’s wild strikes, but almost fails to block Jeanne’s surprise attack. With their combined might, Jeanne and Emilia manage to eventually overpower Royse and throw her to the ground. “Yes! We did it!”
“The day is saved!” Jeanne shouts as she gives Emilia a high five. Zoe sneaks up behind them and hugs them both with her wings.
“Yay~! Thank you for saving me~!” the siren sings.
“No problem ma’am,” Emilia says with a bow.
“Saving the world is what we do,” Jeanne says while mimicking Emilia.
“You fools!” Royse spits. “By defeating me, you’ve doomed the world!”
“What?! How?” Emilia asks flabbergasted.
“There is a being, greater and eviler than anything we’ve seen before. We were going to sacrifice Princess Zoe to keep it away, but you interrupted us! You’ve doomed us all!”
“Oh no~! What do we do~?” Zoe asks.
“We’ll do whatever we can,” Jeanne answered.
“Don’t be stupid,” Royse scolds. “It’s one thing to say something, and another to actually do it. You’ll never be able to win with attitude alone.”
“Then why don’t you help us?” Jeanne asks.
“Jeanne’s right!” Emilia agrees. “You’re not a bad person, you’re a good person who does bad things to do good things. You should join us!”
“The might of the lizard queen would be a big help.” Jeanne says as she offers Royse her hand.
Royse looks at the Valkyrie’s hand before muttering, “I’m only doing this because I don’t want the world to end, and you two clearly don’t know what you’re doing.”
“That sounds like a yes to me!” Emilia says with a smile. Jeanne helps Royse to her feet while Emilia says, “Welcome to the party!”
“Can I join too~?” Zoe asks. “I can’t fight very well, but my songs are magic~!”
“That does sound useful,” Jeanne admits.
“That it does,” Emilia agrees. “Ok! You’re in!”
“Yay~!” Zoe sings as she glomps a very surprised Jeanne.
“I guess that’s settled then,” Royse says as she picks up her sword. She points her sword to the sky and declares, “Now onwards! To my airship and then adventure!”
“Hey! I’m supposed to say that!” Emilia protests.
“Because I’m the leader! And when did the Lizard Queen get an airship?”
“I’ve always had an airship! How do you think we managed to kidnap the siren princess?” Emilia and Royse continue to argue back and forth as the group heads toward the jungle gym, aka the airship, leaving you alone.
“Well that happened…” you say to yourself as you watch them climb the play structure. Feeling a little abandoned, but happy that your sister found some friends, you head towards the swing set. You sit down on one of the swings and look towards the mothers/kikimora caretaker of the other girls who are no longer glaring at you with suspicion. Happy that you’re no longer being watched by suspicious mamono, you turn your attention back to your sister and her new friends. You watch them as run about the playground, shouting and fighting off anything and everything their young minds can conjure up. Eventually you hear a vehicle stop near the mamono mothers, and the sound of car doors opening and closing. Curious, you look to see what’s going on and spot a salamander MILF and her three daughters approaching the playground. When they reach the other adults, the MILF stops to have a tense looking conversation with the others, while her kids keep walking to the playground. As they approach, you note that one of them is the same age as Jeanne while another was a couple years younger, but the eldest seems to be a couple years older than her. The younger two have plastic toy swords, but their older sister has a wooden training sword laying across her shoulders.
“Hey! Enid! Can you push me on the swings?” the youngest salamander asks.
“Shut up Lunete,” the second youngest scolds. “Enid already said she was going to play with me on the monkey bars!”
“But I don’t want to play on the monkey bars!” Lunete whines.
Enid sighs and says, “I’m sorry Lunete, but Branwen asked first. Maybe we can play on the swings later?”
“Don’t worry Lunete, we’ll have lots of fun!” Enid says to try to cheer up her little sister, but she stops when she sees Jeanne and the others playing in front of the merry-go-round. “Is that a Valkyrie?!”
“What?! Where?” Lunete asks excitedly.
“I see her,” Branwen says. “She’s over there, playing with the lizardman, siren and the weird kid.”
“I see her! I see her!” Lunete squeals.
“Hey Branwen, how about we skip the monkey bars so we can see how tough those kids are?” Enid asks.
“Sure!” Branwen agrees before the trio runs towards your sister and her new friends. You watch them carefully, since you didn’t like how excited they seemed when they saw Jeanne. After a brief chat, the salamanders join the group and take on the role of antagonists. Splitting into groups, the girls begin their epic battle between good and evil with Lunette fighting Emilia, Branwen facing off against Royse, and Enid taking on Jeanne. Since she wasn’t fighting, Zoe began to sing her magic songs to support her allies. You watch them jump, run, dodge, parry and strike all over the playground until you hear someone shouting. Looking towards the source of the commotion, you see that the salamander MILF and the lizardmom have begun to argue. About what, you can’t say for sure, but you can tell that they’re both very angry. You quickly grow bored with watching them argue, and turn your attention back to the little girls. You pause for a moment to think about how odd your thought sounded. You note that the salamanders seem to be evenly matched since Emilia and Royse seem evenly matched with their opponents. Jeanne also seems to be doing quite well against the older Enid. You feel proud of your sister and smile, but then you see something that worries you. Enid stabs at Jeanne, who somehow manages to parry the blow with her plastic sword. Despite being successfully parried, the wooden sword connects with Jeanne’s armor with enough force to dent it.
“That’s not good,” you mutter to yourself. You quickly come up with two theories. The first is that Enid simply doesn’t know her own strength. The second, and more worrisome, is that she isn’t actually play fighting. Regardless, you decide to get off the swing to go tell the young salamander to be careful. You get half-way there when Enid parries one of Jeanne’s strikes and bonks her on her pot covered head. You stare in horror as Jeanne falls on her butt and begins to cry.
“BWAAAHAAH!” Jeanne wails as everyone stops to see what happened. Shaken from your stupor, you rush to her side, almost bowling over the concerned looking Enid.
“Hey Jeannie! It’s ok! I’m here, it’s ok,” you say as you kneel beside the distressed Valkyrie. She tries to hug you, but you stop her since you need to check her head for injuries. “J-just a sec Jeannie. Just let me take a look at you first.” You gingerly remove her makeshift helmet, which causes her golden curls to tumble down to her shoulders. You carefully examine her head, looking for any welts or blood. You breathe a sigh of relief when your search turns up nothing, and pull your sister into a comforting hug. You thank any and every deity you can think of for the fact that the pot actually turned out to be a good helmet. “There, there. It’s ok, I’m here. It’s ok.”
“I’m sorry,” Enid says timidly. “I’ve always heard that Valkyrie are really strong, so I…”
“Decided to go all out against someone younger than you!” you finish, a little harsher than you needed to be. “You were being irresponsible and stupid!”
“I-I’m sorry!” Enid apologizes with tears forming in the corners of her eyes. It looks like you overdid it. Maybe you should try to calm down a bit… You take a deep breath and try to assess the situation. There are seven kids here. Most of them are ok, but they seem worried about Jeanne, who’s crying and seems unlikely to stop, and Enid, who isn’t crying but is probably upset from your scolding. The adults are still arguing and thus useless. What can you do to fix this? You try to think, but Jeanne’s crying makes it hard to concentrate. Then you hear it. The sound of your salvation! The jingle that excites all who are hot and sweaty! The ice cream truck! A little ice cream might be enough to help calm down your sister, but she doesn’t seem to be willing to let you go to get some. With no other options, you turn your attention to Enid.
“Your name’s Enid right?” you ask with a commanding tone.
“Do you want to help?”
“Yes!” You awkwardly pull your wallet out of your pocket and hand it to the young salamander.
“Alright Enid, I need you to go to the ice cream truck and buy a Sinful Heaven bar,” you order.
“Ok, I got it,” she replies sternly.
“What about us?” Emilia asks.
“Yeah! We want to help too!” Royse pleads.
You sigh and say, “Alright. Enid, buy a bar for everyone. The rest of you girls can help carry them back. Got it?”
“Yeah!” they all shout in unison.
“Then go!” you command and the girls run after the truck, leaving you alone with Jeanne. You hold her close and pet her head. You continue to calmly assure that she’ll be alright and that you’re there for her. She seems to start calming down when you spot the others running back with the ice cream bars.
“Here it is!” Enid says as she opens the wrapper for one of the bars of chocolate coated vanilla goodness and hands it to you.
“Thanks,” you say and you grab it. You then begin to wave it tantalizingly in front of Jeanne’s face. “Hey Jeannie, do you want some ice cream? It’s your favorite~.” Jeanne practically snatches the bar from your hand and begins to eat it, and her sobbing quickly stops as she enjoys her cold treat. With a sigh, you shift to a more comfortable sitting position and Jeanne props herself between your legs. Now that everything’s calmed down, you look around to see the other girls are enjoying their ice cream, except for Enid. She still looks miserable, and is trying to hand you another ice cream bar. “What’s this?”
“You didn’t have enough money to buy everyone ice cream. I-I don’t deserve one, so here’s yours…” Enid quietly states. You look her in the eye, and you think she seems to be genuinely sorry for what she’s done.
“It’s fine. You can have it,” you say non-chalantly.
“I… may have been a bit harsh with you, and you did help when I asked,” you admit. “But I do have a couple conditions before you can eat it.”
“Sure! I’ll do anything!”
“First, you need to apologize to Jeanne.”
“O-ok…” Enid then locked eyes and said, “I-I’m sorry. I-I s-shouldn’t have g-gone all out in our fight…” Everyone fell silent as Jeanne stared at Enid, trying to determine if the salamander deserved her forgiveness.
Finally she says, “Mm mmmm mm mmmm mm mmm mm, mm mmm mmmm mm mmmm mm mmm mmm mm.”
“Without the ice cream in your mouth please,” you sigh.
Jeanne removes her ice cream from her mouth and repeats, “If someone asks for forgiveness and truly wishes to repent, a good crusader of justice shall always forgive them. I’ll forgive you Enid as long as you mean it.”
Enid stands there shocked for a moment before saying, “Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou!” You smile and tussle Jeanne’s hair before she goes back to eating her ice cream.
“For my second condition,” you announce.
“Promise me you’ll be more careful from now on. Any hooligan or thug can fight, but a skilled warrior knows that there’s a time and place for everything. It’s ok to fight your hardest against someone as strong as you. Against someone weaker than you while you’re playing a game, not so much. If you can promise me that you’ll be careful, the ice cream’s all yours.”
“I-I promise!” Enid shouts. You smile at her exuberance, and nod your head to give her permission to eat. She devours her treat with gusto, and you wonder if salamanders can get brain freeze. “T-thank you!”
“Don’t sweat it. Accidents happen, right?
“R-right.” You give her a reassuring smile, and are surprised when you notice her cheeks begin to flush red. You wonder if you’re seeing things, but it seems like you’re not the only one to notice.
“Do you see that Lunete?” Branwen asks.
“Hehe, Enid’s got a boyfriend!” Lunete laughs.
Enid’s blush deepens and she retorts with, “I do not!” which causes more laughter to break out.
After everyone finishes their ice cream, Zoe approaches you and asks, “Who are you stranger~?”
“You’re definitely a strange one,” Royse adds. “To be able to use healing magic and convince enemies to become friends with words alone. You must be someone special.”
“Of course he’s special!” Jeanne declares. “He’s the son of a man and a Valkyrie! A saint sent to rid the land of evil, and my big brother!”
“A saint?” Emilia asks as she got uncomfortably close to you. “You mean the saint that beat up the Lady of Lies?”
“Uh… Sure?” you answer.
“The saint that saved Dragon’s Perch from devils?” Branwen asks excitedly.
“I don’t know…” Enid says doubtfully. “Isn’t the saint supposed to have a holy sword?”
“I’m sure he has his reasons,” Jeanne defends before looking up at you. “Right?” It then dawns on you that they’re trying to get you to play with them. So you’re a saint huh? Time to get into character.
“I did have a sword once, but I began to lose my faith during my adventures. I didn’t know if I was doing the right thing anymore! So I got rid of my sword and began my life as a hermit in an attempt to learn what is truly right and wrong.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you Mr. Saint~!” Zoe says with a bow.
“Brother, I know you said you wanted to learn the truth about right and wrong, but could you help us? We need to fight the mad god Ares, and we could use your help!”
You pretend to think on it for a moment before saying, “Very well. How can any man turn down a request from his cute little sister?” You watch Jeanne’s face turn dark red as you and her friends laugh at her embarrassment. You then spend the next few hours playing around. You have so much fun that you don’t even notice the epic cat fight between the salamander MILF and the lizardmom. When everyone finishes playing and says their goodbyes, you carry the tired Jeanne back home on your shoulders.