#WIPjoy Day 17: Fear & Heroism

Einherjar are served by Valkyries in Valhöll w...

Einherjar are served by Valkyries in Valhöll while Odin sits upon his throne, flanked by one of his wolves. (Photo credit: Wikipedia

Today’s #WIPjoy suggestion is to share a line about fear.

I often have problems with word count, so here’s not a line, but a conversation.

“That is the promise of Valhalla. A warrior who dies bravely and honorably in battle will be taken by the Valkyries to the Hall of the Slain, to feast until Ragnarok.”

“And what is Ragnarok?”

“It is the end of all things, when chaos finally overwhelms order, and all the gods and humankind will be destroyed.”

She blinked. “And the warriors will stop it?”

“No, it cannot be stopped.”

“Then — what can be done? Why will Odin call them to fight?”

He tipped his head to regard her, perplexed by her confusion. “To fight, as I said. It is not to stop Fate; that cannot be done. It is to fight bravely and die courageously.”

She could not quite decide whether this was admirable self-possession or futile madness.

He sensed her hesitation. “The great end of a warrior’s life is to be a hero. And no one can be a hero if his cause is easy and prevails without obstruction. Any man can pretend to be a hero while the fight is easy, or can even fight the difficult fight for a while in the hope that respite will come. But real heroism can only be proved by a lost cause. A man who fights to the death is a different man than the one who fights for a time and then surrenders or flees because he cannot see victory.”

“But the tales of—”

“None of your Greek heroes are true heroes. Your Apollo, your Heracles, they are invincible. The wonder of their tale is in their unusual fiber, not in their valor. When was Heracles ever unsure of his victory? When did Bellerophon face the chimera without the miraculous aid of a flying horse to keep him well out of flame and danger? Did Perseus attack the two immortal Gorgons, or only the mortal Medusa — and did he not attack even her as she slept? No, the heroes of your tales are not heroes, they are bullies who use their strength against opponents who cannot hope to resist, cowards who attack only those they are certain to defeat without risk to themselves.”

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