Gallant Heart: Story of Odin Chapter 2
By The RPGenius
Simon's Notes: The next small segment of the story does not need a full translation, and I do not have the patience, or, indeed, the time that I once had, so I will give a brief overview of it rather than a thorough translation.
On the morning after the attack in which Odin slew Dorleeg, he traveled back to his majesty's castle, his work in the town being done. His soldiers came with him, and Sleipnir, unable to walk from his injury, was transported in a carriage pulled by other horses, much like our chocobo carriages.
Now, Odin has arrived at Vallana Castle
Odin leant on the Gungnir in the throne room of Vallana Castle as he stood before the king. Behind him, Lan, Thur, Cival, Wain, Lear, and Oth all leant on their respective lances in the same stance of respect. The king listened in rapt attention as Odin related the events of the night before.
"My report is complete, your majesty," Odin announced. "I have told you all I know. Many lives were ended at the hands of the beasts, Gannian and Vallana, military and civilian. These foes are without mercy and nigh without parallel."
The king was silent for a moment as Odin finished his narrative, then announced, "Warriors, you have done well and have made Vallana proud. I must speak with my advisors and the Ganne diplomat now. You are dismissed until further notice."
Odin and the knights behind him stood upright, lifted their weapons from the floor, and left the king to his business.
While the rest of the knights went their own ways, Oth followed Odin as the warrior made his way to the stables in which Sleipnir was recovering from his wounds. Oth was, in a sense, Odin's only friend, in that he was the only one that the mighty warrior deigned to speak to beyond military matters. The term 'friend' was not entirely accurate, though, for Odin was a silent and controlled man, and Oth sometimes thought that the powerful knight viewed him as little more than an annoying boy who occasionally felt the need to burden him with conversation.
This was fine with Oth, of course. He, like any other knight would be, was pleased to be able share time with Vallana's finest fighter regardless of the circumstances.
"We've got a real problem, don't we, sir?" Oth asked, walking faster than he was accustomed to in order to keep up the Odin's powerful stride.
Odin nodded curtly and continued to walk.
"I hope the king knows what he's doing, allying Vallana with Ganne," Oth continued, not in any way bothered by Odin's refusal to join the conversation. "I suppose we have to, though. I mean, those things last night were terrible beyond imagination. What do you suppose the king is planning to do next?"
Odin looked down at the knight following him, glaring. "It is not my place to second-guess my lord, nor is it to question his actions. Nor is it yours. A knight must only serve."
Oth seemed chastened by this reprimand for a few minutes. Then, his usual optimistic attitude returned, along with his unwanted chatter. "So, how long do you think it will be before the king summons us back?"
Exasperation was evident in Odin's voice. "I do not know."
By now, they had reached the door to the stables, and it was quite obvious that Odin wished to be alone when he went in to see his steed.
"Well, I'm going to go see Demona while I have some time off," Oth said. "Who knows when I'll be able to see her next?"
"Why do you persist in wasting your time with that woman?" Odin asked as Oth turned to leave.
Surprised that Odin actually wished to talk, Oth turned back to the warrior with a hint of confusion on his face. "Because I love her."
Odin's lip curled with contempt. "Love is nothing more than a distraction, Oth. A true knight does not allow such petty concerns to distract him. The best knight has only one love, and that is duty," he responded haughtily.
Oth was clearly a bit surprised at Odin's words. "Well, sir, I suppose you must be correct in your judgment, for you are as perfect a knight as ever was. Still, I always thought that compassion and love completed a knight, not detracted from his abilities," Oth replied.
Odin's expression of disdain did not change. "That is why you are not the champion of the king, Oth. A complete knight knows only his duty and his morals, and love is but a distraction that will bring about his end. Remember that, Oth," the seasoned warrior ended, a touch of masterly wisdom in his voice, as though he were not so much admonishing the knight as he was trying to educate him.
Oth shrugged and turned to leave. He stopped for a moment. "Even so, sir Odin, I would not give up my love for Demona for anything." Then he continued on his way.
Odin watched Oth's figure grow smaller as he walked away, then turned to the stable entrance and went in. Bah! Oth refused to accept the truth of the matter. Even if Odin found the younger knight a thorn in his side, he also held enough respect for the man as a warrior, and even perhaps a speck of friendship toward him, to want him to succeed as a great knight. But if the foolish soldier was going to insist on hampering his achievements with such foolhardy notions of love, then Odin would not get in the way.
Odin walked through the stables filled with mares groomed and trained for battle until he reached one particular stall. A stable boy was sitting by it, carefully watching its occupant.
Upon hearing the heavy sound of Odin's stride nearing, he looked up and hastily tried to stand at attention and change his pitchfork from one hand to another as was custom.
"Sir Odin," the young man greeted him, a quiver in his voice. After all, not many stable lads had the chance to meet with the famed fighter, and none save Odin had ever cared for Sleipnir in the past.
Odin nodded curtly. "Sleipnir is doing well?"
"Oh, yes, sir. He seems to be getting better. The wound was a clear cut, so there's nothing left to inflame it, and it seems to be starting to heal up, sir. I think that he's not in as much pain as before, either, Sir Odin, sir," the boy reported, nodding vigorously.
Odin nodded, a faint smile on his lips at the boy's eager attitude. If only Oth had this much devotion to his craft.
"I would like to be alone with him," Odin requested. The boy nodded vigorously once more, and then quickly left the stables.
Odin's amusement at the boy's antics quickly left him as he stepped forward to see the inside of the stable in which Sleipnir was being kept, regularly attended to by the finest horse experts and veterinarians of the Vallana Kingdom.
On a pile of soft hay sat Sleipnir, bandages covering the two areas where strong limbs were once. Both had stains of blood on them, but did not seem to be collecting any more at the moment. The steed's head was bowed, perhaps in sleep.
However, as Odin looked on, Sleipnir raised his head and, seeing his master, gave an affectionate whinny. It attempted to rise upon its remaining six legs, but the pain or the lack of balance was too great, and the beast slumped back down to sitting position after only half-way rising.
A rare feeling of pity, sorrow, and care overcame Odin as he looked at his faithful horse. Sleipnir was the only thing in the world that Odin allowed himself to care for beyond the king. Ever since first getting the loyal horse, it had been his only friend and companion in battle and out.
Odin recalled the day that he had received Sleipnir. He had achieved the rank of knighthood at the uncommonly young age of seventeen years
"You may rise, Odin," King Idno had told the young man that had come to his chamber. Until completing the training to become a knight, all who went before the king were required to kneel down and turn their heads to the side.
The young man rose, still looking away in ritual respect. Even at such an early age, Odin had the build and look of a warrior, much more impressive than the typically lean, thin body of the rest of the knight trainees.
"Odin of Vallana, boy of unknown parents, adopted son of King Idno," the king had continued as was ritual, "You have completed your training to serve and protect the land, ruler, and peoples of Vallana from all hostiles?"
Odin had answered ceremonially, "I have. Bestow upon me the right and means to defend Vallana's honor."
"You are given a choice, champion-to-be. Choose the sword or spear that lay at your feet, but know that the one that is not chosen must be forged and made by yourself."
Odin had slowly bent down to pick up the cruel curved sword that lay to his left.
The king had risen from his throne and bowed his head in customary respect and tradition. "You are now Sir Odin, knight of Vallana."
And the tradition was over. Odin had begun the most promising career in knighthood in the history of Vallana.
King Idno had stepped forward and given the young man a fatherly hug. "I speak as both your king and as your legal guardian when I say that you make me very proud, Odin. And that I have little doubt that you will continue to do so."
"Thank you, my liege," Odin had replied stiffly. He had never cared for hugging.
Idno let the boy free, then motioned to the window. "It's customary for a father to give his son a gift for completing the trials of knight training, and you have done excellently. You are as close to a son as ever I had, so "
Odin had looked down the window to the grassy courtyard two stories below. Tied to a post below was a beautiful, strong dark gray steed.
"His name is Sleipnir. He is yours, Odin. May he always serve you well on the battlefield and off," Idno had told the young warrior.
"Sleipnir, you have always served me better than any horse has ever before served his master," Odin mused as he watched the injured horse rest. "But now, you are wounded, and forever will you lack two of your legs. Will you ever be able to bring me to battle again, old friend?"
The law of Vallana said that any horse or warrior that had been wounded grievously in the war and handicapped would be forced into early retirement, for the warrior kingdom did not want liabilities on the heated field of battle.
Sleipnir's head rose again to look at his master. His eyes never wavering, he again tried to stand. This time, though unbalanced and in pain, he managed to bring himself upright and stay in that position. Sleipnir gave a loud whinny.
Odin's lips formed a proud smile. "You do not give up on me, even though you are handicapped. I shall not give up on you, faithful Sleipnir. You are a boon for knighthood, the symbol of all my struggles to achieve my rank. You are my faithful and steadfast steed who carries me to the thick of battle with no fear. You are my only true companion; the only being I need. When you have recovered, I shall ride you still. I could ride no other."
"Sir Odin!" came a voice from the entrance to the stables.
Odin turned and beheld the knight Lan. "Yes?"
Lan gestured to the outside and said, "King Idno requests your presence in the throne room."
Odin nodded and followed.
Odin, the men that had been with him during the previous night's battle, and some of the Vallana military's better officers had all assembled in the throne room. The king sat upon his throne, with military strategists to his left and the Ganne diplomat to his right.
"Warriors," the king began. "I have called you here to fight the greatest threat our kingdom has encountered so far. You all must play an important part in the defense of our home country. I have met with my advisors and with our new ally from Ganne, and have prepared a plan to defend against this new foe."
To the gathered warriors dismay, they began being briefed not by an officer from Vallana, but by the diplomat from Ganne.
Last night, the warrior Odin, long reviled by the Ganne people until now, managed to slay one of these monstrous beasts while defending one of our towns. However, another target was hit by another group of monsters in the borders of my country, as well. Two of these hideous monsters attempted to take the small town of Barrni. However, they, too were beaten back. For unluckily for them, that small town was where my country trained a secret force of sorcerers, the Ganne diplomat explained. They were being trained in hopes of being the winning edge in the next war against your kingdom. The many, many spells of destruction cast managed to force the monsters to retreat, though Odin remains the only man to have been able to take ones life.
Many of the soldiers assembled looked sorely tempted to attack the diplomat from the hated country of Ganne. Odin, however, being a warrior who did not allow emotions to cloud his judgment, was shocked for a different reason. He had no thought that this information meant that Ganne had been breaking its peace treaty (not that Vallana did not also break the same treaty in its own ways). His one thought was that this was far beyond serious. He had realized the situation was serious the previous night, when fighting the nigh-unbeatable foe of Dorleeg. But for a Ganne diplomat to freely admit such illegal actions taken by his country in Odin and King Idnos presence
The situation was desperate. Ganne was no longer letting any of the grudge it had held against Vallana for years beyond recollection cloud its judgment.
And Odin realized that he must also destroy the last traces of bitter resentment he felt toward this neighboring country disappear, as well, if they were to work together and successfully.
He motioned for his comrades to silence themselves and listened with rapt attention to what this diplomat, able to put aside generations of hatred for the common good, had to say.
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