Samantha entered the courtyard with Priscilla at her right shoulder. The Valkyrie turned to her, their expressions resolute as they awaited her command. Behind each of them stood a beautiful Pegasus, powerfully muscled and understandably proud, as if they knew they were the most beautiful creatures in the universe.
Samantha mounted her very own Pegasus, a gorgeous mare she named Destiny. She then turned to her fellow Valkyrie who was mounting their own horses. Their eagerness for the mission was apparent in their expressions, in the tightness they held the manes of the Pegasi, but there was an undeniable air of fear that lingered over them. They had all fought beside Hela in great battles against formidable foes. They had watched in awe as the Goddess of Death mowed through enemies like a scythe in a wheat field. And they all knew that none of them could defeat her. They could only hope that together they would be enough.
Priscilla looked at Samantha.
Samantha looked at Priscilla.
Priscilla gave her a curt nod. Speak to them, she seemed to say with her eyes.
Samantha took a deep breath, turning to the Valkyrie.
“I’m not one for big speeches so I’ll make this brief,” she began. “Every single one of you knows what we’re up against. Hela was once an ally. Now she is our enemy. You know how powerful she is.” A few of the Valkyries’ gazes shifted away from hers as if they were afraid their sense of cowardice would be noticed. Samantha raised her chin. “I’m just as afraid as all of you.”
Every Valkyrie’s gaze focused on her exclusively, their eyes widened in subtle shock.
“I know that there’s a good chance this mission will end in failure,” she continued. “And I understand every notion of fear that you must be feeling right now. But let me tell you this.” She moved her horse to face them head-on. “We swore an oath to the King that we would protect Asgard by any means necessary. And we will do just that. If the King has tasked us with keeping Hela at bay then he must believe we can stop her. So…I ask you this, do you believe we can stop her?”
Priscilla didn’t hesitate. “Yes.”
Samantha looked at her and smiled. The rest of the Valkyrie, noting Priscilla’s brevity, gained an air of determination as they straightened their postures on their horses.
“Yes!” the rest of them answered in unison.
A strong gust of wind ruffled the grass across the cliff that Valkyrie was still sitting on. A thunderstorm was rolling in, the lights in New Asgard were flickering to life, and the excited chatter from the Asgardian townsfolk was riding the air, reaching her ears. It mirrored the Asgardians’ joy when she and the Valkyrie rode away from Asgard to face their fate.
The Valkyrie were riding their Pegasi over the breadth of Asgard, the Asgardians’ cheers bubbling upwards from below, imbuing them with the strength and determination they needed. King Odin, standing on the balcony apart from his throne room, rose Mjolnir skyward, summoning a brew of storm clouds and lightning in their wake.
“Go, my Valkyrie!” his voice bellowed along with the wind. “Take the blessings of Asgard with you.”
A rift in the deep opened and Samantha led her Valkyrie toward it, unsheathing her sword. Her heart hammered in her chest, her palms were sweaty, but her jaw was clenched. She, just like the rest of her Valkyrie, was ready.