"People who lived around here used to have a fairly simple saying. The gods can be cruel. It was their way of interpreting all the ills of the world. Of course now we know that the gods don't tend to meddle in every little affair. They have better things to worry about, as do we. So that leaves it the duty of every man to pull himself up every time he falls, and keep going, no matter how often he fails. For some of us...Well for me, the ability to try and try again is the only thing we have. I don't feel like a hero, I never do, all I can do is keep going, because the alternative is turning back, somewhere I can't go. Not the best situation for someone so error prone as I am, I know. Who am I? Well I go by..."
"Siegfried! Quit yer daydreaming boy, focus!"
Siegfried nearly fell back, just barely managing to block his much stronger uncle's swing. The sticks they trained with clacking together with explosive force, as the shaking of his mock weapon sent a ripple of pain through Siegfried's stunned arm. Stumbling back to try and correct his balance, Siegfried dug his boot heels into the snow-covered ground, garbing the mock weapon with his other hand, trying not to drop it...But the second swing came, knocking the stick from his hand, and sending the young man tumbling over onto his back.
"Good defense boy, but first lesson is that a fight isn't won on blocks alone, that'll get ye thrown out of most fighting game tournaments. Ye can't be so timid all the time! Strike back when you see an opportunity!"
Siegfried lay on the ground for several moments, waiting for the world to stop spinning. Finally he managed himself to a sitting position and scratched the back of his head, looking down quite embarrassed. "Sorry, uncle. I just...never see the right opportunity to hit back."
His uncle, a superhero of the Scandinavian peninsula, going by the Berserker, sat next to the golden haired youth, patting him on he head. "What, do ya mean from a metaphysical standpoint, you never see right to hurt someone...or do you mean you're too afraid to take any chance you see?"
Siegfried kept looking down, letting his mop of blond hair cover his eyes. "Well...kind of both. I guess especially the second one. I don't...Ever feel like I am a real fighter. I would rather leave that to the stronger guys like you. But then I get to thinking, where does that leave me as a hero?"
Berserker messed up the boy's hair. "A hero with a heart, that's for sure. Fighting isn't all we're about. Well, I mean... I suppose my title would make you think that, but it's been a long time since the berserkers of old charged across the land screaming their unwashed heads off and smashing everything that weren't nailed to the ground, and a good number of things that were. Now, I'm one of the few with that power, and lookit me, a big ol' superhero, got a licensed comic of my own and a god awful videogame being made about me. And you, my young ward, you got all you need to be a hero, at least in the spirit of things, right there in your heart. You got compassion, determination... Heck, I bet if we could find you a princess to rescue, you would have conviction the likes that the knights of old only wish they fought with. We just gotta train your body and brain to be on the same level as that soft heart o' yours."
Siegfried managed to smile slightly, getting back to his feet and dusting the snow off his pants. "Thanks, Uncle. I don't know if I will ever be strong enough to make you proud, though."
Berserker just gave a hearty laugh. "You don't need strength for that boy. I know you will by that heart of yours alone."
A bit later in town, Berserker sat in a beer hall with his friends. Even in a technologically advanced world, some things never changed, like the local strong guys hanging out for drinks and telling tales of their likely unnecessary application of machismo to their lives.
Siegfried sat at the end of the bar table. Though barely old enough to drink, the boy was not hearty enough for the liver-destroying crap these outdoorsmen favored, and stuck to milk. Every now and again someone would mock him for it... but having a superhero as a legal guardian had a way of making the bullies think twice.
Of course Siegfried was not the kind of person to socialize like this. He came off as a wallflower, silent and away from the center of attention. He found himself questioning just why someone like him, someone so utterly devoid of the qualities that made a burly, rough and tough man among men, would dream of being a hero. It seemed paradoxical to simultaneously want to become a hero like his uncle, but being so unsure of himself and unwilling to fight...Of course it was not like he had many options, Berserker was the only family he had, the alien attack had left him hospitalized for an entire year, awakening with his memory fragmented and nowhere to go, only the man who saved his life and offered to take him under his wing...
"Dang... My life sounds like some sort of anime protagonist cliche." Siegfried sighed, as he left some money for his drink, trudging out into the cold streets. He would leave Berserker to his way of relaxing, Siegfried just wanted to be somewhere less populated.
"Well, here we are again, Xevian. Superheroes, and we still spend our weeknights playing online games."
Trick shot back across the internet chat. "Hey, nothing wrong with gaming. It's a chance to relax and use my brain for things other than playing Dexter's Lab. I mean yeah, I guess I am spending time doing this instead of talking with the many b-beautiful women around me... Dang, now I feel inadequate."
"You want to talk about inadequate, man? The only girl in my social circle is Skadi. She is nice enough but she treats me like a kid. I guess I kind of deserve it... I have tried my best but I don't have the guts to be a fighter or the strength to be a hero. All I have is my resolve to keep getting back up, and sometimes I think that is just going to get me knocked down until I am fused to the ground."
"Hey now, Siegfried. You have just as much as you need to be a hero. Heck, you have more support than Batman did starting out. You have your uncle, and Skadi to train you, and you have the whole global hero network for advice. Heck, right now you are playing videogames with someone who is apparently being regarded as a official super genius."
Siegfried lay back in his chair. "Thanks, Xevian. Still, kinda wish my training were going better. I try with all my might and well, one thing or another stops me. I never feel confident enough to attack, and the few times I do well, I'm just not strong enough even after months of training."
"Hey man, don't sweat it, I'm working on something that should be ready to see tomorrow night. Try and train again like you usually do, just...don't be afraid to hit a bit more. Imagine you are trying to save someone, maybe even someone you love. Just imagine your golden haired princess--or prince, we never really talked about that--trapped up in a tower, she is screaming for you to help her, her wings bound up making her look so small and vulnerable and the villain standing before you is what stands between..."
"Wait, golden hair, wings? Are you projecting, man?"
On the other end he could hear Trick fall out of his chair.
"Ohh! Dang... sorry, I'm working on 4 things at once here, my mind is a little frazzled and split up... Please d-don't tell the internet I was imagining a strong woman as a helpless d-damsel, I will never hear the end of it."
Siegfried smirked slightly. "So just who is this winged princess, that has your attention?"
He could hear Trick audibly fumbling with his head set. "N-no one, no one you would know...nobody important! Um-hey! So like I said, imagine you are fighting for a good cause, you know the only reason someone like you would even take up a sword. After all, it's not like you'll ever be fighting another hero, we aren't the Avengers."
Both laughed at Trick's little joke.
"Now while we got the lobby connected, let's go show these guys how superheroes game!"
Siegfried looked a little bemused. "Superheroes apparently play a team with no support classes and 4 ninjas."
Someone in the team chat buzzed "Pick Mercy? After you stop being a scrub, then we can talk about Mercy!"
The next day started like all too many. A cry at least one hour too early in the morning from Berserker. "Wake up boy! Can't seize the day if yer busy seizing your pillow!"
Siegfried nearly rolled out of bed, managing to catch himself on a stack of White Owl comic books, only for them to spill over, sending him face first to the floor, as he turned to look up, one hard cover collection with cover art of White Owl throwing a flying kick smacked him in the face. "Ow! Ugh. Good morning, Irony..."
Downstairs, Berserker was busy eating his three breakfast steaks while watching a superhuman soap opera (don't ask, its too painful)
From the screen the characters could be heard. "Oh Wendell, I can't marry you. I've been living a lie. All this time, I was a succubus... *transformation sound* "
As a male voice responded. "My dear, I am so relieved to hear that. You see, I too have a secret. I am a Karn... *second transformation sound* Our silicon based bodies are immune to your pheromones, so you see I really do love you."
Siegfried reached the bottom of the stairs just as the sounds of kissing erupted from the screen, he preemptively shielded his eyes as he headed into the kitchen.
Berserker laughed. "Hah! I called that twist three seasons ago! Oh, morning Siegfried, grab yourself some breakfast before we head out for some more training."
Siegfried opened the fridge door, finding the usual sight of living with Berserker as a legal guardian. Said fridge was a walk in larder filled literally to the brim with meat of all shapes, sizes and marbling. In the back were some ribs he swore came from an elephant...and in the door, a two liter of soda.
Siegfried sighed, taking a slab of steak to heat up, at least he was getting plenty of iron in his diet, living with a viking stereotype.
From the moment they left the base, it was training day again. Hiking through the snow, lifting logs, climbing a cliff wall, swimming through the icy waters, spending a solid ten minutes holding up a middle finger at the completely modern town Gym and its membership fee...
By noon, Siegfried was bushed. Ironically for living up in the snow, he was burning up from all the exercise, having to throw off his coat and shirt, revealing that while competence didn't grow on trees, the training had been beginning to improve his body.
"Hah, you see boy? A little viking style workout and plenty of beef does the body good. Give it a few years and we'll see some hair on yer chest yet."
Finally they were on to sword training. Once more, Siegfried was at a disadvantage, desperate to even hold onto his stick as he blocked his uncle's mighty strikes. Three times he saw what may pass as an opening, and three times he stepped back to block yet again...Then he remembered his friend's words...The relevant ones at least. Just imagine himself as a hero. Imagine himself with something to fight for...
"Come on boy, ye can't just be a wall, take a shot!"
Siegfried could have shouted something meaningful and inspiring, something to sum up a jolt of character development over a short period of time. Probably "I'm no warrior, but I'll fight to protect!" That sounds about right...But he didn't, he was too busy taking the swing his uncle just suggested he take...This is Seigfried, however, and even a burst of confidence does not magically create a burst of competence. He slipped due to poor footing, and a strike meant for Berserker's leg hit the 7/10 split.
For a moment or two there was silence. Berserkers eyes visibly bulged, before he flat out fell over, crashing into the snow. His huge, muscular body shaking the snow from several nearby trees as he landed.
After a few moments, Berserker managed to raise an arm and give a thumbs up, speaking in a considerably higher pitched voice, shaking with pain. "Ye do me proud boy...Which is good... cos it is now entirely up to you to carry on this family's name..."
Finally, evening once more. A worn out Siegfried dragged himself up the stairs. Despite everything, he was glad. Trick's little spot of advice had helped him take a step on the heroes journey.
As he fired up his not insignificant PC, he found Xevian was already on the chat app.
"Hey Siegfried! You are not going to believe what I have in store! Don't bother sitting down cos you'll just shit yourself when you see...THIS!"
"Um...Goblin we rehearsed this, when I say "THIS," Press the button man."
Suddenly there was a sound of energy surging all about, as an orb appeared behind Siegfried, floating in the air. Siegfried jumped out of his chair with surprise as the crackling energy orb expanded to touch the floor, before vanishing in an instant, leaving...Trick standing there.
"Ta freaking Da! I built a teleporter!"
Siegfried stood there, looking dumbfounded. "So something that should not logically work...and you just built one like that?"
Trick idly tapped some data into his wrist mounted computer. "Eh, I needed some high speed transportation without having to take one of Aegis' jets. I was already working on a hover board. Heck, this isn't even the best part, wait till you see my ideas for a flying base, mass produced robots... Heck, even building some modular sets to combine my armor with."
Siegfried looked even more incredulous. "If you ever go bald, please don't grow a mustache."
Outside, Trick excitedly jumped off the walk way into the snow. "I am so excited it worked. I just crossed into a different country, thousands of miles from home! Oh, this is so great!" Only to be interrupted as an ice cold wind passed by. "...I should have worn something heavier. This turtleneck isn't quite as insulated as I hoped..."
Siegfried, in only a T shirt, simply walked past his shivering friend. "Welcome to my world. You think this is something, Skadi lives up in the mountains, and you've seen what she passes off as clothes."
Trick clearly blushed under his mask, which he was still wearing for almost no discernible reason aside from character branding. "W-well, Now that we're here, what do we do? You said Skadi spends a lot of her time hunting, so we can't exactly drop in on her..."
Siegfried looked around the open, snowy space surrounding the base. All his usual training spots stretched out before them. He was getting sore just looking at them. "Well, if you wanted to test out any of that new equipment you have been churning out and get a good sense of my home while you're at it... Berserker told me of some old test where an elder would chuck an axe into a tree up the mountain, and the younger warriors would have to go find it."
Trick looked over at a wood cutting stump with a hatchet lodged in it. "Well...how's your throwing arm?"
Siegfried slumped, looking extremely depressed. "How do you think."
A hologram of a giant sweat drop was projected on the side of Tricks head. "Well, not a worry. These gauntlets were built for scientific field work, and throwing, like most things, has a science to it."
Lifting the axe with the gauntlets' tractor beam and tying a ribbon around the handle, making it easier to see from a distance. Trick took a wide stance, rearing back as his heads up display began forming out of holograms inside the mask. "Okay, judging precise angle, measuring distance, optimal potential energy measured...Compensating for wind resistance...still compensating...Dang, it is freaking windy up here..."
Siegfried face palmed. "Just throw it already before I change my mind on how much we should not be doing this."
A little startled, Trick took an immediate shot with the tractor beam assisted throw. "Torya!"
The axe flew along a projected course...then the wind picked up and it banked hard to the left, landing in the tree line about mid way up the mountain.
Trick stood, awkwardly. Another sweat drop hologram appeared. "You see why wind compensation calculations are so important?"
Less than an hour later, the two were half way up the mountain, searching about in the cold, windy twilight as the last vestiges of the sun disappeared over the mountains.
"According to my data--which, yes-thank-you-very-much, I bothered to record before tossing--It is right ahead of us. Hopefully, going down this mess will be easier than going up."
Siegfried easily lead the way, being considerably more accustomed to his harsh homeland.
Just moments later, the two saw the axe, conveniently lodged in a tree just as they had originally planned.
"Wow...I definitely did not calculate the exact odds of that happening. Then again there are enough trees up here, I guess there was a decent chance. Alright bro, let's Excalibur this thing, I'm freezing my genius off."
Both simultaneously grabbed the axe, proceeding to pull...only for it to dislodge just as the snow beneath them fell away, sending both tumbling into a cave! Trick picked himself up, shaking the snow off of his turtleneck. "Ah dang, who builds a cave with its entrance facing up hill? Was this a trap for hikers or something?"
Trick turned to see what Siegfried had found. Deeper inside the cave was a huge pair of stone doors, adorned with olden runes and the image of a dragon.
"Wow...don't touch it man, we better call this in, imagine the odds of finding something like this..."
Siegfried crossed his arms, a bit impatiently. "Of course I'm not going to touch it. Come on Xevian, I'm not that stupid."
However (oh, come on, you all saw this coming), despite the boys' adherence to common sense, the doors swung open all on their own, far too quickly and easily for huge, heavy stone. And a sudden, enormous gale of wind kicked up at an impossible angle, sucking both of the young heroes inside!
Trick landed face first, taking a few moments to dig himself out of the snow, and adjust his mask back to normal. "Gah! Damn rules of dramatic irony! We're dealing with magic, aren't we?"
Siegfried was still struggling to escape the deep snow, till Trick pulled him out with a tractor beam. Allowing him to see inside the cave, the walls lined with thick, crystalline ice, the entire area too well lit for being underground, and a strange sense of multicolored particles all about them. "Yep, definitely magic. Those runes were either a warning...or a ward."
No sooner had Siegfried spoken, than the ground began to rumble, as a wall of flames shot from beneath the snow (how does that even work?) walling off the back of the huge cavern. And a massive, clawed arm burst from the snow, soon followed by another, as an enormous, serpentine neck emerged, revealing what lived in the giant cave... a dragon!
"Adventurers come to the hall of Fafnir... It has been so long since fools threw themselves into death's embrace, seeking the maiden I guard. I had almost lost hope that the world remembered us..."
Trick and Siegfried stood, both wide eyed. "I cannot say for certain, but off-hand I would make the general assumption...they were a warning."
Fafnir emerged fully from the snow, shaking himself as if to wake up from an extremely long sleep, his sluggish movements becoming more fluid with each passing second. He moved to one side, as behind the wall of flame, the ice melted, revealing...A stone altar, upon which there lay a young woman, looking about her twenties, a few years older than Siegfried or Trick. She was unconscious, but unharmed. A giant tree root that emerged from the wall had long since grown to wrap around the altar, almost as if it was entrapping her there.
Siegfried raised the axe, assuming the best fighting position he could. "Trick, we have to save that girl!"
Fafnir just laughed, or more of gave a deep, mocking bellow that seemed to shake the entire cavern...or maybe that was the stone doors shutting tight behind them. "Many have tried. All have failed. Your lives are already forfeit. Two more heroes lost to the ages, never again for the world to see them. My supper!"
Fafnir lashed out with an enormous tail, which Trick easily dodged thanks to his gravity field. Siegfried however just barely managed to scramble out of the way. Immediately the dragon was upon them, moving far faster than something of its size should, it tried to grab Siegfried in one claw, but was blindsided in the side of its head by an energy blast from Trick's gauntlet!
It turned to attack Trick with its massive fanged maw, only for Trick to fish through his satchel and toss a random grenade down its throat. The dragon's jaws snapped closed, as its eyes widened, betraying an uncomfortable feeling...before it began belching and coughing a huge cloud of tear gas!
Taking advantage of the opportunity, Trick grabbed up six trap grenades between his fingers, and flung them all at the massive beast. The huge explosions coating its legs in riot foam and instant cement, and trapping it to the snowy floor with sticky traps.
"Yes! I got all of them right, for a change!"
The last grenade going off right over the dragons head...released a cloud of confetti.
"...If anyone asks, I meant to do that."
As Siegfried charged by the dragon's temporarily immobilized form, attempting to dodge under its still free tail, he did not move nearly fast enough, and was caught, flung hard to the side of the room. Luckily he missed the ice wall and skidded to a stop in the soft snow. With some difficulty, he got back up, charging once again, he dodged with more effort, but the tail still caught him, flinging him into the air. He landed with a crash, once again preserved by the soft snow, but this time within the tail's range. Somehow able to sense where he was despite not seeing him, Fafnir's tail swung down like the blade of a guillotine! Siegfried gave a shout of fear as he rolled to the side, dodging, but the tail raised up to smack down on him once more!
At the last moment, Siegfried managed to spring to his feet, just as the tail smashed down behind him, throwing him off his footing as he tried to run. He stumbled for several rapid steps, before managing to find pace and run straight towards the fire wall! On the other side of the cavern, Trick had grabbed the dragon's thrashing head with both his tractor beams, giving a tug of war to try and keep the monster from escaping.
Siegfried reached just at the edge of the fire, as the tail smacked down once more, nearly catching him this time, and forcing him into the air! Unable to stop, he held the axe in front of himself, shielding just barely against the flames, as he sailed through, singed but largely unharmed. The axe however was ruined by taking the brunt of the fire, and fell to pieces in mid-air.
Siegfried had been shielding his face as he was thrown, dropping his arms after passing the fire, he had just enough time to see he was falling right towards the altar! He again raised his arms, hoping to avoid a crash, but that helped very little, he crashed onto the bed of furs placed atop the alter, of which the woman was laying peacefully. Clearly they had been placed there to give her comfort, despite exactly where she was. The soft furs absorbed enough impact that Siegfried actually bounced slightly from the hit, landing with significantly less force...Right into the woman! The surprised young hero managing to shift his weight enough as to not hit her body, but still his face collided with hers, surprisingly causing their lips to meet.
Siegfried remained motionless for several moments, his skin turning beet red at the improbable result of several improbable circumstances. Or possibly just because this unfathomably awkward moment in a life or death situation...was also his first kiss.
Trick voiced disapproval at the sight, "Oh, come on! If we were going to have a buddy cop dynamic, why did he have to be the suave one?!"
Siegfried popped up in embarrassment, falling back into the bed of furs, before scrambling out, onto the soft snow beside the alter. By now his embarrassment-triggered body heat was enough to melt the snow as he fell into it. Springing back up, still jittery with embarrassment, Siegfried saw something surprising...The maiden's eyes opened.
Siegfried stood in awe, as the beautiful (if disheveled) woman rose to a sitting position, showing that she was quite tall. Her brown hair was askew from her sleep, and the furs revealing just slightly, that she wore nothing under them. She took a moment, taking a deep breath to draw in her surroundings, before turning to look with...Frankly, a rather disapproving gaze at Siegfried.
"The spell has been completed... if only I could contain my joy. So...Are you to be my master, then?"
Siegfried looked on in suspense for several seconds, before managing to close his slack jaw. Quickly, he averted his eyes from the near naked beauty. "I-I'm sorry, I didn't mean to. Please, it isn't safe here, we need to get you out of here."
She looked on, thoroughly unimpressed. "Adorable... a mortal who thinks a woman is helpless. I see however long I have slept, nothing has changed."
She began climbing out, not showing any care as the furs began to fall away...Only for Siegfried to spring into action, grabbing one of the blanket of furs with surprising speed and reflex, and holding it up to her. "P-please, it's cold, y-you should cover yourself."
She raised an eyebrow, not quite sure what to make of the cowering young man standing before her. "Such a small hero, and afraid to claim his prize. You are...different... than the men I have known. Or perhaps you just hide yourself better."
She wrapped herself in a few furs, forming an impromptu robe, as her bare feet touched the snow, something that did not at all seem to bother her. "Is this to your liking, master?"
Finally able to stop averting his gaze, Sigfried looked confused. "Wait, why do you keep calling me your master?"
She sighed, clearly not enthusiastic about what she had to say. "Let me explain. I am Gwendolyn Brunhilde..."
But before she could continue her answer, the Dragon broke free! Its bucking head swinging Trick around as he held on by his tractor beam. "AAAGH! Where is the glowing weak spot on this thing?!"
As Trick was swung around like a yoyo, the Dragon turned its attention on Siegfried. One final thrash managing to dislodge Trick's tractor beams, sending him hurdling into a wall! Fortunately, he bounced off with no harm done. "I am...so glad I invented this force field belt right now."
The dragon crossed the wall of flames, which instantly died down as the massive creature approached.
Gwendolyn looked unimpressed. "My captor was you all along, Fafnir? I would have thought Father wished this to be a challenge."
Her snark seemed to enrage the dragon, who roared violently. But before Gwendolyn could react, Siegfried grabbed a shield from the side of the altar (viking decor, what can I say) and charged in front of her! "R-run! I'll hold him off!"
Gwendolyn looked rather indignant. "Truly, things have not changed. You believe a woman to be helpless, master?"
But, with surprising conviction, Siegfried shouted back. "It doesn't matter who you are! You're in danger and I'm going to protect you! I promise I won't let any harm come to you!"
Gwendolyn was clearly not prepared for such an answer (really speaks to the personalities of heroes in her time) and actually...blushed slightly, at the young warriors declaration of protection...
For all the good it did him, as the Dragon smashed the shield in a single swipe, sending Siegfried flying behind the altar and smashing into the tree root. He slid down, stunned and rattled. Four images of the world spinning around before his eyes. As he looked up, trying desperately to re-establish his bearings... he noticed a sword stuck into the tree root.
The dragon seemed to pause as Gwendolyn stood undaunted before it. But that was the last thing on Siegfried's mind. Right now, to the best of his knowledge, the dragon was a danger to everyone, including the near naked woman he had just met. And he was going to do what heroes should do, and protect!
Siegfried staggered to his feet, grabbing onto the sword's hilt for leverage. The very second his hand touched it, the dragon reared back, as if in shock...or perhaps in pain.
Siegfried managed to get to his feet, grabbing the sword with both hands, and began pulling. "Come on! Need a weapon!" But it did not budge... if anything it seemed to be pulling back!
"Come on, damn it! That thing is going to kill us all!"
Despite Gwendolyn standing without fear, Fafnir was clearly agitated by Siegfried touching the sword. It reared back for a mighty lunge, bearing both claws. Gwendolyn reached out a hand to her side, as if reaching for a weapon...
"Come on, you stupid thing! I need to protect them!"
All at once as he spoke those words, the sword loosened, so quickly did it slide from the root, that Siegfried nearly stumbled over himself, managing to just regain his footing as he turned to see the dragon charging! Without a single thought of hesitation, he gripped the strange blade with both hands and shot forward, taking a swing just as he passed by Gwendolyn. Had he been thinking more deeply, he would have considered that even if he killed it in one strike, the dragon's body and its momentum would slam them with its bulk regardless. But right now, he was only hoping to stop the creature, to protect his friend, the woman, and possibly everyone in the town below from the rampaging beast!
His swing fell short...so short that Siegfried tripped over his own momentum and tumbled into the snow. At the last moment, the dragon's forward movement had ceased, and it was forced back violently. Siegfried shook the snow from his head, before looking first to the dragon, now pinned to a wall by an energy lance...Then back at Gwendolyn, who stood, holding a extremely ornate pole-arm with one hand.
She looked down at him, her face still not betraying much respect, but considerably softer from her earlier disapproval. "That was brave of you, master. But also quite foolish...But I thank you for considering my safety, as unneeded as such concerns may be."
Siegfried, in something that was becoming increasingly common that day...Just sat looking amazed. "J-just who...What...W-well, I guess that doesn't really matter at the moment...T-thank you."
For a second, Gwendolyn looked a bit shocked, but right after, a subtle but gentle smile crossed her lips.
Before things could get too emotionally developed, the dragon broke free and charged directly at the two! Siegfried stood once more, taking a fighting stance, as Gwendolyn raised her spear...Only for explosions to go off at the dragon's feet, trapping both of its hind legs in several coatings of riot foam.
"I know I don't have top billing here, but it was still kinda dumb to forget about me."
Trick had managed to crowbar himself free from the snowy floor and lay his grenades in the form of land mines while everyone was otherwise occupied.
"Well don't just stand there, lets finish this DNDbag and see if he drops some loot!"
With the dragon momentarily restrained, Siegfried charged once more. He had learned enough legends to know that a dragon has only one weak point...its heart. As he got into attacking range, the creature lashed out with its claws and fangs like a mad beast! But in a flash, one arm was pinned with an energy lance! The other claw was stopped in mid air by the straining power of both tractor beams!
Siegfried saw the beast's final attack, its fanged maw, coming. Every instinct from his training told him to fall back, to defend, but that would do him no good. Instead he threw himself forward into a dodge roll, evading the beast's fangs by mere inches! As he rolled back to his feet, he made a leap with all his might, making his swing just as he reached Fafnir's chest...
Siegfried had closed his eyes a split second before making the strike, but he could tell something had happened...His arms ached, the reverberation of the blade still hummed into his hands. He dared to open one eye to peek at his results...Seeing to his surprise, the blade buried into a deep, black stone!
Craning his neck to see, Siegfried realized it was in fact the dragon, its body having petrified after being pierced by the sword...Not just into stone, but black glass, obsidian.
Siegfried pulled at the blade, trying to dislodge it...Only managing to cause the petrified dragon to shake, crack, and finally fall to pieces, leaving a startled Siegfried to fall back, seeing just what the blade was stuck in...The dragon's still flesh, and still beating heart.
"Wow! That is nasty!"
Trick moved up close to inspect the cardiological conundrum. "Hmm...Would I get booed if I put this down as a... heart attack?"
Siegfried put a boot to the heart, and pulled with some good effort, managing to dislodge it, before getting creeped out that he touched it. Getting back to a stand, he kicked it away, sending it towards Trick.
Trick was actually quite enthusiastic about their decisive victory. "Oh yeah! We just slayed a dragon!" As the heart flew towards him, he made a spin kick, supported by his gravity drive, swatting it aside in mid air. "Don't fuck with THIS scientist!"
As Trick and Siegfried steadied themselves, dusted themselves off, let the strange series of events process...And finally gave a fist bump at agreeing they had just done something pretty awesome. Siegfried approached Gwendolyn, and asked her. "Y-you were amazing. But what was it you were saying about yourself? Who and what are you, and why were you here?"
Gwendolyn took a calm breath, and began to explain. "I am...Was, Princess of the Valkyrie. For a transgression, the lord of the Aesier placed me under a spell. That I should sleep away the centuries in a dreamless trance, wakening only for a warrior brave and strong enough to find my resting place, cross the dragon and the wall of fire, and plant upon my sleeping lips a kiss."
Once more at the thought, Siegfried turned beet red. Were this story written any further east of the Prime Meridian, his nose would likely be bleeding as well.
She paused at his clear embarrassment, but resumed a moment later. "And so upon breaking the spell, you have claimed me as your own. Under the magic's sway...I shall be forced to fall in love with you, remain by your side, bear your children...Every Valkyrie's greatest nightmare, living as a man's devoted wife."
Siegfried looked like he may pass out from the shock. "D-did I just get married!?"
Trick looked on in disbelief, seeing that in one day his friend, the only person he knew even more socially awkward than himself, had met such an amazing woman. "Oh, COME the hell ON!"
"And so it is...You are my master...My husband. Already, I feel the compulsion to obey. I hate it, but I cannot deny the spell, so whatever you order shall be my command."
Siegfried stood for several moments, he could see on her face that while curious about her unusual rescuer, Gwendolyn still had a fairly dim view of what she expected out of a man. He considered for several moments the right thing to say, finally just asking from his heart.
"Well...What do you want to do?"
Gwendolyn looked absolutely blindsided by this. By now her images of what her future husband/master may be seemed to be crumbling in the face of...Whatever she may think of Siegfried. "Y-you would let me choose? Let me speak my mind?...Is this a jest? Did Odin get bored and send someone to egg me on?"
Siegfried didn't respond, but gave his best smile to her.
Gwendolyn's eyes softened considerably, her expression one of confusion but also, a surprising amount of joy. "T-truly, you are an unusual warrior. Perhaps...Perhaps remaining by your side will not be as bad as I expected. You did, if nothing else, hold concern for my safety when you believed I could not defend myself...That is admirable. You have my thanks."
Once back outside the cave, Trick began shivering again. He looked over at Gwendolyn, who was still barefoot and wearing loose fitting furs. "Oh, for F sakes, now you're just trolling me with this!"
Gwendolyn looked a bit confused at him, but quickly disregarded the young genius. As light began emanating from her, forming around her body as the furs fell away, leaving her exposed but tastefully censored as an outline among the light. The light beams themselves seemed to curve and bend, forming together into plates of armor. In short order, an ornate set of armor that matched her spear had formed around her. The two young heroes looked on in awe, Trick thinking back to another divine creature he knew...As Gwendolyn completed the image, spreading two pair of beautiful white wings.
Trick turned to Siegfried. "Dood! You hit the jackpot. Wings and all."
Back at the base, Berserker was busily eating the last 5 of his dinner steaks, as he heard the door open.
"Ah, good evening boy. Nice to see yer enthusiasm, out training for so long, but it's gettin dark. I was just bout to go find ye. Oh, I saw ye had taken my wood axe, did you remember to put it back?"
Siegfried walked in and sat in the dining room, Trick following closely behind, both clearly bushed and battered a little worse for ware from the fight. Siegfried looked embarrassed as he spoke.
"No, sorry, I didn't...But... I did bring back something else."
Just as Gwendolyn stepped into the room.
"So um...remember when you mentioned I had to carry on the family legacy?"