Helenia stood silently looking over the cemetery. A tall, awkward, spiraling, leafless tree towered over the small, half-broken stonewalls surrounding the burial ground. It’s barely noticeable shadow covered almost the entire mass of graves. She held a long, wooden staff in her hand while wiping away her tears. “Helenia Holung,” the tombstone read.
Helenia was a strong woman who strived to show the world she was something special. Since her early childhood she knew she was going to change the world. As she got older her hair went from a white blonde to a dark brown. Just before her death it was streaked with both, naturally. No one would have guessed she was thirty-two years of age when she died. She appeared to be in her younger twenties and always had a sparkle in her luscious brown eyes.
After a period of time that could have been a minute, or a year, Helenia took a deep breath. It was then that she realized she did not need to breathe. She no longer needed the sweet essence of the wind, earth, and water in her lungs. She almost cried again, but there were no tears; only a simple dry spout of emotion that was soaked in sorrow.
A thought of a faded memory slowly seeped through her echoing mind. A glimpse of the past, of what happened to her; almost revealing the half-truth she once thought was a lie. The poisonous stench of a giant had filled her lungs right before her memory went to darkness, before she stood in front of her tombstone. What happened to me?
She stood on the hilltop where her body was for only a moment longer. The sun was starting to go down now, and she needed to move on. She did not know where to, but she could feel something tugging at her, almost pulling her south from where she stood. As she turned away from her grave her shadow shifted and disappeared.
Helenia walked slowly south to a place she could not remember, but could feel it as strongly as she knew she was alive, when she was alive, only days ago. The passion of life still boiled through her. She did not wish to leave the dying world as much as she did not want to leave that of the living. If she had passed on after life, she might yet have a chance to change things for those that die, and maybe even for those that still live. The world appears to be the same, only without the direct brightness of light…
Down the hill she went, calmly picking up pace. Her mind focused intently on the feeling in her stomach, a bundled up ball of energy churning in her stomach, telling her which way to go. As she reached the base of the hillside and began to walk through the meadows of golden flowers she realized that the plants simply went through her. A thought; a lonely wandering spirit searching for that in which she will be shown how to complete the task she so desperately is striving to finish, yet does not know what it is. She realized she was thinking of herself. Me…I am thinking of me…how did I die? As she walked, the feeling became even stronger, reassuring her that it was where she needed to go.
In the short distance was a forest. A familiar place in her loose memory, but she was uncertain as to why. She knew she would find her answer somewhere in the maze of trees. She glided her way to the forest without a second thought. The wind was silent. The trees did not move. How I wish I could smell the sweet essence of the forest… She was a shell; an empty socket of being that no longer lived. Her heart filled with sadness. I where I am and nothing can be changed.
As she entered the darkness of the forest she could hear the brisling of the leaves. The trees seemed to bend and move with the melody of the swaggering world. She saw a large tree in the middle of the path ahead of her and released a loud moan of agony from her lips in recognition. The village…my friends…
The world seemed spun and blurred with every step she took. She did not move, but the trees molded and morphed into new trees as she progressed. The world of the dead did not have the same rules of the living. A place with no life could not be bound by physical limitations. Only the heart would prevail through the darkness that lay ahead.
Another step and the world changed. There were still many trees surrounding Helenia, and the winds were still blowing. There was a village in front of her, deep within the forest, almost hidden among the tree tops. The feeling in her stomach swirled in adjacent patterns of hope, and fear. The lack of knowing frightened her, but her hope to know the truths of her life made her continue on.
As Helenia moved closer to the village she noticed a long, wooden spear sticking out of the ground. It poked at the chasm of her memory and she carefully examined it.

She was in an open area of a small village, holding the spear and spinning it in a criss-crossing pattern. She turned and thrust the spear forward as if stabbing it into something. Behind her, an enormous shadow grew until she was engulfed by darkness. She screamed and dropped her spear as she collapsed to the ground.

Walking into the village was surprising. There were about twenty dead bodies. All of which were women. Helenia’s mouth opened in shock. My village…my friends… She walked into the first house on her right. It was made of solid, dark, wood, and was built into the base of a gigantic tree. Red curtains wavered gently in the windows. Upon entering the house she saw someone she thought she recognized. She walked closer and examined the woman’s face.
“Mosia,” she said in a faint whisper. Her magnificent blue eyes stared aimlessly back at Helenia. She bent down to wipe some dust off of Mosia’s face, but she could not. Her touch could not be felt, nor could she touch that in the realm of the living. “This must be a mirror of the living world,” Helenia’s voice was quiet and shaky.

Helenia was a little girl again, trying to learn the spear. Shardanan, a taller girl with brunette hair, and Postian, an average girl with blonde hair were pushing Helenia down and laughing. Helenia became angry and started to attack Shardanan, throwing punches at her wildly. Postian knocked Helenia down again, and the two bigger girls kicked Helenia over and over as she lay on the ground. Helenia cringed when a larger girl appeared out of nowhere and knocked the two bullies down. Shardanan and Postian got up quickly and ran away. “Mosia,” Helenia said, barely able to breathe.

Helenia stood from her breathless friend and went back outside. She looked carefully around the village in attempt to discover what had caused the massacre. The forest began to whistle with the wind. She
She walked slowly toward the center of the village. There was a long spiraling staircase that made its way around an enormous tree, which almost dwarfed that of Mosia’s house. It was the tree she had seen when she first entered the forest. She did not know how she got to it, or why the village was not visible when she first entered, but she accepted it and stepped closer, one step at a time.
The world shifted, putting her right against the stairway. She turned and began to put her foot on the first step and as she did, the wind changed direction. Helenia tightened her grip on her faithful staff. An almost silent laughter brushed through the forest.
Helenia looked around, but saw nothing except for a tinted vision of reality in her mind. Another step…and another…and another.
Eventually, she made her way to the top of the tree. There was a large door half open. It was made of wood, and was engraved from the tree itself in a beautiful pattern of zigzagging leaves and vines, meaning life, or so her told tell her. The door hung open a little, and moved back and forth with the wind. She calmly made her way to the door and pushed it open further.
There appeared to be nothing inside the large oval room, except a large, thick, wooden table, and ten stumps that were positioned around it. She stepped into the room and it changed in a swirl of brilliant hues of reds, yellows, and oranges, and then it stopped. Helenia spun, trying to capture what had happened. It was a deep cavern with the stench of old rotting mold that even she could smell in her less than living senses. A gust of wind echoed off the cavern walls. Behind her was stone, and in front of her was a path that led only down.
Helenia hesitantly took her first step onto the stone path and clenched her hand around the wooden staff to calm her nerves.
“So, even in death, fear can consume me. I must be cautious, for perhaps some things are worse than death.” Helenia walked slowly downward until she saw a pool of water that had small ripples shimmering across it. A beam of light shinned through the ceiling that was far above her.
Her eyes shifted back to the pool and she squinted to examine the water closer. She could not tell how deep it was. She squatted next to it and put her hand into the cool liquid, scooping some up and letting it run through her fingers.
“How can I touch the physical here and move it, but not when it mattered,” her voice dropped to an almost sob, “Mosia, how I wish I could have saved you,” She mumbled to herself for a minute and then without hesitation, stood up and jumped into the bottomless pond.
The water did not splash as Helenia was submerged beneath the surface. It was narrow and she was barely able to move. She pushed her hands against the rock, and turned herself, looking for a path to swim through. There was no other way to go except for down. She tried to scream, but it was flooded by the mass of bubbles that would never reach the surface. She swam downward, deeper, and deeper until she fell out of the water and landed on the stone, knocking the breath out of her and sending her staff echoing across the cool floor. She was not wet when she landed, and the water some how held itself together in the stone above her.
“What wickedness binds this place together?” She scrambled to get back on her feet and quickly picked her staff up again. The room was made of stone, the same as the cavern she had just been in. The stench of mold grew stronger. On the opposite end of the room was another path that continued to go down.
Helenia walked down the rocky corridor for a few minutes, dragging a hand along the moist cave walls. The trail started to level out and at the end of it she could see light. She walked further into the hallway as slow as she could, still maintaining her courage. The closer to the light she got, the warmer the air around her became. She stepped cautiously until she was in a large room.
Helenia’s mouth opened in awe as she was dwarfed by the size of an immense creature residing in the room. She stood in silence as the beast moved and stood on two enormous feet that had elongated talons, which pierced the stone. Its skin was ashen gray, and smooth like well polished granite. Its hands were as big as Helenia, and its fingers stretched out with claws as sharp as those on its feet. A thick black aura swirled around the creature making it hard to see even in the bright light of its grand fire. Its head had three huge horns that protruded high into the air. One went off to each side, and the third went straight up the middle of its skull, covering its forehead. Even more frightening was what was behind the foul monster.
The women of her village were strapped to poles unconscious. From shock, Helenia was forced back to reality as it she knew it now.
“Welcome, Helenia,” The creature said in a deep rumbling voice that would have shaken fruit from trees. “I have been waiting for you.” Helenia looked up at the unknown being and looked it in the eyes. Its eyes were filled with hate, and as black as anything she had ever known. An overwhelming feeling of death and despair overcame her, making her once dry eyes start to water. How is it that I seem alive again, yet I know I am not?
“I have made you alive again,” the beast rumbled. “Though you were dead, I have the power to revive those that have been killed by me, so I have brought you here to serve me.” It looked intently down on Helenia as if dominating her very existence.
“You killed me?” She asked slowly, “You killed Mosia as well, and the others…” she said, no longer as a question, but a fact. She clenched her staff as her hands began to drip with sweat.
“Yes, I did. It was quite simple too. First, I took you so that you would have a burial, which made it possible for the path to here to be opened, to bring you here. It was not difficult. My shadow only had to touch you for it to happen. I simply turned you off with my omnipotent power. Much like now, I could crush you before you realized I even moved.”
“But, Why?” Anger began to seep into Helenia’s body. I shall seek justice upon this demon and avenge the death of my village. Her memory began to flow back into her mind. My friends…
“You have always been strong Helenia, and I needed a powerful heroin to lead my army against the Gods.” It laughed maniacally into the air, sending Helenia to her knees. The sound hurt her ears, and shook her from the inside, rattling her bones.
“And the others?” Her soul shook from sadness, and her hands started to shake. She clenched her staff in both hands and stood from the ground, refocusing her eyes back on those of the beasts. The fiend laughed again, but some how, Helenia managed to find the strength to stay standing.
“I did indeed,” its eyes squinted as to examine Helenia, now standing in a fighting position. “They will be the first to be under you. Who better than those you already know? The world is mine for the taking, and I offer you the power to be my most important servant. I can revive you in the real world as well, and you shall lead my armies to greatness.” Helenia’s lips curled from spite.
“I will not serve you.” As Helenia was finishing her sentence she leapt toward the dark being and swung her staff at it, striking its thick skin multiple times with no avail. The beast swooped its hand and smacked her with its palm, sending her flying across the room and crashing into the solid rock wall on the other side, knocking the breath out of her lungs.
“You do not wish to serve me then,” it said, rumbling the room as its aura spun in a fury. Suddenly, the being grew even taller. “Then the end is here for you, Helenia Holung.” It released a horrid moan from its thick, dry lips, sending a thousand voices screaming into Helenia’s mind. She cried out in pain, leaving an echo of a tortured soul.
The demonic figure held one hand out, facing its palm toward Helenia and a ray of blackness shot out of it toward her broken body. The darkness struck her and lifted her into the air cause her to shake wildly, flailing her arms and legs everywhere as the creature tried to suck her soul from her body. The faces of her lost friends began to swirl throughout the beings destructive aura, twisting and turning, and they started to shout in raspy voices.
The words bounced off the walls of the cavern, penetrating deeply into Helenia’s soul. Odin save you, Odin save you, Odin save you, they repeated, over and over until Helenia’s eyes opened. The cave started to shake. The ceiling cracked above her, and a bright glorious light pushed back the darkness that had engulfed her. The celestial light radiated across Helenia’s body and magnificently made her start to change. Pain shot through her, from her feet up through her torso, to her arms, and into her head. The thousand voices were pushed out of her mind, and bright white, brilliant wings tore through Helenia’s back. Blood trickled down her back like a thick ointment slowly oozing through a hole that was barely there. Her body rocked back and forth violently as if she were being pushed in all directions.
Seconds later she collapsed to the floor, her wings slightly tinted red with her innocent blood. The light continued to shine on her pushing back the darkness that was still trying to devour the essence of her life.
“What is this!” the demonic being shouted in anger as its attempts to crush Helenia failed. The spinning heads that twirled with the creature’s aura shouted louder. Odin save you, Odin save you, Odin save you, and continued until her staff mysteriously transformed into a sword and gently landed in Helenia’s hand. All the pain left her body at once, and she immediately stood on her feet. I shall avenge you…
“Justice,” Helenia said, forgetting what had just happened. She focused intently on the beast and ran toward the creature’s mammoth feet, holding the sword behind her with the point toward the ground. She leapt into the air and soared through the cavern as her wings started to flap.
The beast swung at her with its monstrous hands, but could not hit her. She flew around its head and cut it quickly across its scalp. It groaned in anger and continued to madly to try to crush Helenia. Black liquid began to spill from the ashen skin, and the stench of rotting mold was lost in the vile smell of the creature’s blood. She flew around to the beast’s chest and stabbed the blade deeply into it, recoiled her arm, dodged the beasts claws, and forced the blade back into its thick skin. It roared in pain as she withdrew the blade and flew upward, slashing across its face, and then she stuck the sword, up to the hilt, into the eye of the beast, blinding it.
The giant let out a deafening roar as it smashed its hand into its own face in pain, forcing the sword deeper into the back of its skull, piercing its brain. Helenia barely dodged death by flying downward toward the ground.
“This…cannot…be….” The immense body of the fiend smashed into the floor. Helenia flapped her wings rapidly, hovering above the monster’s body. The cave started to crumble around her as a black light shot out of the dead enemy, and emitted shining balls of light that launched at her lost friends motionless bodies on the poles. Within minutes they opened their eyes and started to move. The breath of life had rejuvenated their lost souls.
The ceiling started to crumble, smashing into the hard stone floor, and hastily Helenia grabbed each person by the arm, realizing they seemed weightless under her new strength, and flew through the crack in the ceiling. The night sky was lit by the moon and a few clouds moved past peacefully. Helenia flew them across an unfamiliar land until she was securely in the sky. She landed at the entrance of a great hall that was held open by gigantic marble columns. There was no roof, or walls, only thick cloud that filled the area around them.
She released her friends onto the misty ground and landed next to them. A grand white light appeared at the end of the hall and became brighter as if it were making its way toward them. They stood silently as the light caressed their battered bodies and healed their wounds. The light approached them and spoke in a soothing, melodic voice, that was barely noticeable to be that of a man’s.
“Welcome Valkyries, my Daughters, to Valhalla. Helenia, for your service in defeating the giant, and rescuing the others, you shall now be known as Friagabi from this day forth. All of you, over time, will help us fill our great hall with the world’s greatest warriors.”


Kevin Numerick

Traverse City, United States

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Artist's Description

A mysterious death creates an ancient hero to bring forth fallen warriors.

Artwork Comments

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