“What’ll it be, Sam?” the bartender, a husky blond-haired Asgardian named Rusk, asked Valkyrie as she stormed into his establishment fuming.
She glared at him. “Don’t call me that,” she said sternly, referring to her true name, Samantha Parrington.
Not many people knew her birth-given title but during one particularly tipsy evening, she had felt chummy and told the friendliest Asgardian in town, Rusk, a bit about herself as a younger Asgardian. The name came with the sprawl of information. So…ever since he had started calling her Sam. But right now she had no time for the chumminess.
His eyebrows rose. “Oh, so it’s one of those days,” he replied as he cleaned a mug. “What did I miss?”
She leaned over the bar, grabbing a bottle of potent Scottish whiskey and downed it in four large gulps. Rusk watched her with a lackadaisical expression, for he had seen her down ten bottles of whiskey in an evening and still be able to perform a rowdy jig on the top of a table.
After slamming the bottle down she began to speak. “Thor made me the King of Asgard. Can you believe him? And now three Asgardians are challenging me for the throne. So we have to go to the Southern Cliffs tonight and participate in the Test of Valor.” Rusk finally betrayed some emotion as his eyes widened. “I really don’t have time for it.”
There was a long moment of silence that involved her staring at the wooden wall in front of her and Rusk standing silently contemplating everything that she had just said.
“Whoa,” he finally uttered.
As if in response the door to the bar swung open and in walked Grunt.
“So, here’s where you went?” He guffawed. “I figured you’d try to run and get drunk so you can chicken out of the pummeling you’re going to get tonight.”
Valkyrie whirled with the empty whiskey bottle in her hand. “You want to fight now because I’m ready?”
He grinned savagely. “I’d love nothing better than to end you here and now.”
Rusk slammed a brawny hand on the top of the bar, startling the both of them, for it sounded like a clap of thunder.
“First off, no one’s killing anybody in my bar.” He pointed an accusatory finger at Grunt. “You’ve already nearly done that before and I had to literally pay the price for it. Second, the Test of Valor is a very sacred ritual of our people. Neither of you will forsake our rules of battle just because you can’t wait a few hours to get your hands on one another.”
Grunt scoffed. “Fine. It’ll give this little wretch plenty of time to wonder what it’ll be like in Valhalla.”
Valkyrie surged forward as if to strike but Rusk managed to grab her left wrist, preventing her from doing so. Grunt laughed.
“Ah, now you need your boyfriend to save you.”
She growled through clenched teeth, “I can’t wait to get my hands on you tonight.”
He chuckled as he turned and left out of the bar. Valkyrie shrugged off Rusk’s grasp, throwing the bottle at the door just as he left the establishment. It expectedly shattered into a thousand pieces.
“And now I’ve got to clean that up,” Rusk said in a monotone voice.
“Save it, Rusk,” she said, turning around and grabbing another bottle.
As she began to down it like the previous one he said, “It’s on the house, by the way.”
“Is that supposed to make me happy?” she asked after she finished her last gulp.
He shrugged. “I hope so.”
His response actually made her smile. “Sorry, Rusk. I’m a bit uptight.”
“I’d be uptight too if I had to participate in the Test of Valor.” He shook his head. “I’ve only seen it happen once.” His expression seemed haunted. “It isn’t pretty.”
Her jaw clenched. “You’re not making things better, Rusk.”
He grabbed a bottle of his own and took a hearty swig. “I sure hope you win.”
She nodded. “Me too, Rusk.” She stared off into space, her thoughts on the cliffs the Test of Valor would take place upon. “Me too.”