AR 1192, 1196, and 1197 Sven and Kara's Epilogue
The canvas of the sky was deepening to a dark blue, though before them the sun was still fighting to paint its lasts hews of red and orange. Silently, the Dawn Seeker flew across the tops of trees and hills, unabashedly betraying its name, heading straight on into the fading light of evening. The setting sun seemed to understand its time was done, but it was not about to go gentle into that good night. Sven didn’t care; he knew as well as the sun did that it was time for the old day to end, and in the morning a new day would dawn: the first day of the rest of his divinely-lengthened life. And, Kara would be there with him for that day, and all the other days to come. Serenely, he turned from the bow of the ship and went below deck to the room he shared with his wife, letting the sun finish its last futile struggles against the night by itself.
Sven undressed for bed and crawled under the sheets with Kara. His wife immediately folded herself into his arms, and held his face in her hands. Two hands, Sven thought privately. Two hands of flesh. Sometimes – not often! – but sometimes the gods were good to the mortals they used as their tools.
“How do you feel, love?” she asked him, concern momentarily cast over her face. He was still wearing his eye-patch.
Sven scrunched his nose to the side, like he always did when thinking, but almost immediately responded, “I feel alright.” Kara let it go at that, and the two soon fell into the most restful sleeps they had had since the day they were first hired by Scratch the rat-catcher.
Several hours later, Kara happily stretched herself awake and found Sven already dressed, waiting for her. “I was just about to wake you,” he said. “C’mon, we gotta hurry!” Confused, she nevertheless acquiesced her husband and threw on her clothes.
Back on deck, the sky was a dark blanket, dotted with tiny white specks shimmering in the crisp air. Behind them, the horizon held the faintest tease of grey, heralding the imminent arrival of the new sun that was promised to come. Some of the dwarves were milling about, keeping the Dawn Seeker on course, but as Sven led his indulgent wife towards the ship’s aft, they were invisible – fleeting ghosts, harmless and ignorable. All that the man’s one eye was focused on was that growing light, that new dawn.
It was weird at first: he told her, finally coming to a stop and wrapping his arm around her waist, not being able to hear everyone’s voices. It took me so long to get used to it when they started, but I guess I did, because I noticed the silence right away. It was kind of deafening!
Kara smiled and leaned her head against his shoulder. At least we still have each other’s voices, she offered.
See, that’s the thing! he responded immediately. I realized you’re the only voice I want in my head! Odin’s a prick, but he knows what he’s doing, I guess.
Heh! Maybe we’re more alike than I care to admit…
Anyway, we’ve fought for so long. Most of our lives! And, it’s over now. It’s finally over. Look there! That sun coming up is a brand new sun. It’s the first sun this new world has ever known. It’s a new day, a new sun, a new world, a new life! And…
His breath caught, and he inhaled sharply. Tears were streaming down his face as he looked out over the horizon at the rising sun – tears from both eyes, soaking through the patch he had worn for so long, and collecting in the blonde stubble at his chin. Kara guessed earlier Odin had restored his eye to him, but he had been so adamant about not addressing it that she never asked.
You’re the only person who could ever possibly understand. To the rest, even Scraps, it was just a thing, he went on. Anyone else may have been confused by his vagueness; however, Kara knew her husband as intimately as she knew herself. Sven’s life had changed forever the day he lost his eye, the day she lost her hand. Gone was the loving, kindhearted boy who used to sit on a barrel behind his parents’ brewery and play his flute into the evening. In his place was a man driven by rage and pain. He had sought numbness once; but, she had led him back from his darkness enough that he was able to love again, though only enough to love her. With the release from Odin’s service, Kara sensed a new change in him. The anger was gone, and she could almost convince herself the old Sven – the one filled with love, spilling out to everyone around him – was back again.
It was just a thing to them, he repeated, swallowing hard, but not to me. Not to you!
Kara, this isn’t just a new world; we’re new people. Whole people!
I wanted the first thing this new man sees with both his own eyes to be you, bringing in the new day with your smile.
What happened next was just a thing to the dwarves manning the Dawn Seeker, a fleeting ghost of a moment, lost in time, harmless and ignorable; but, it was an eternity to Sven and Kara. He took off his eye-patch and tossed it over the side of the flying ship. The new sun finally came over the horizon. Kara smiled.
The words seemed to hang in the air to her. She stood, studying his face for what seemed like hours, but it remained unreadable. He’s getting better at hiding things from me, she thought. I’m not sure I like that!
The perceived hours were nothing more than a moment, and Kara was in fact worrying unduly about how her husband would take the news. Sven, for all his growth recently, was still a bit of a prick – just like the god he was once forced to serve – and he held the moment for as long he could. He stared back at her, stone-faced and silent.
The first time they had slept together, they were so young! Not innocent by any definition, but perhaps slightly naïve. Sven, surely, was willfully naïve! She could still remember his words to her, expressing scorn over her concern about getting pregnant back then: “Really, Kara? Don’t worry; it’s not like we’re married, or anything!”
The fool actually thought babies only happen to willing, married couples! What the Hel did his parents teach him!
Funny thing about thoughts: they happen almost instantaneously – quicker than even light. Before the light reflected off Kara’s face, carrying the image of her concern and frustration to Sven’s two eyes, he had already picked up on his wife’s thoughts, and was reacting.
I hope she’s a girl, he told her immediately, dropping the charade. We’ll have to name her Arissa.
The artificial memories Kara had once constructed, of Sven escorting his daughter down her wedding aisle, came rushing back into her own head, and then she knew. She knew Sven was as happy, and excited, and scared as she was; he was just still a bit of a prick.
Eh! she thought to herself. I knew that already, and I married him anyway.
I love you, Kara Odinson, he told her. I cannot wait to raise our first child together!
Two words and three seconds, and Sven and his wife were on the exact same page, having actually spoken novels to each other. One of the appendices included a lament that their future children would not be able to share the intensely deep connection they shared.
“No, I am not ‘shitting’ you,” the elven woman said, clearly offended.
Once again, Sven had screwed up. Time was, he could just project his intensions to others and come out okay, but these past years had seen him reduced to the abilities of a mere mortal. Granted, he was a mortal who had been touched by the divine, and most people recognized and respected the fact; however, the elves never seemed to care about any of that. And, in any event this particular elf was Onion’s mother.
I thought he said his mother was dead! Sven thought grumpily.
No, came Kara’s soothing voice. You’re forgetting that for his father.
Right, well, he… the man let his thoughts trail off for a beat, knowing he should concede all fighting, but not knowing how to let himself yet.
The fact was that this ‘he’, Enyinaya, had been as close a friend as Bran and Kara to Sven at one point. The first year at Copper Valley was the hardest thing Sven had ever gone through – including stopping Ragnarök! – and he only made it through with the help of his closest allies. After graduation, Drew, Happy, and Enyin-… Onion… went about their respective lives, but the impact they made upon Sven was remembered forever. Just like Bran, when he finally left…
Onion was also the only one to show back up. He and his sister offered a helping hand once, maybe twice, during Sven and Kara’s adult life; and, their influence over the full-blooded sidhe had proven invaluable during the ‘God War’, or whatever the rest of the world was calling the forestalled-Ragnarök.
Even now, after the fighting was over, Onion was still proving to be an ally, asking his mother to assist his friends when Kara needed the aide of the best healer in the land. Of course, he couldn’t be bothered to come himself, but at least he sent his mom. Right? That was more than Bran had done!
… well, he’s not the concern right now, right? Sven thought to his wife. She had ‘heard’ his mental anguish, and felt the same pain herself. It was likely Sven would never feel closure for the loss of his dearest friend, Gulbrandr; but that was a Thing. Sven and Kara knew about each other’s Things, and this was not news to her.
What was news to her, and Sven, was what Onion’s mother had just said. Sven took a deep breath and tried addressing the sidhe woman again, as calmly as he could manage, “So, we’re having twins?”
“Yes,” came the response.
Years later, Sven would be able to describe the preceding moments in great detail; however, everything after that confirmation was lost in the memory of panic and excitement.
The successful entry of Arissa, and her younger twin brother Jarl, into this world was the most momentous occasion of Sven’s life. In the proceeding twelve years, he witnessed the birth of three more such awesome children, but none quite as special to him as his first.
Rissa and Yari! Conceived the day Sven’s world was reborn, and brought squalling into this new land, naked and covered their mother’s blood, but destined to grow strong and rebuild the world into its former greatness!
The house of Svadilfarsven was a quiet one. Rissa was always the quickest physically, but it was Yari who first figured out the reason for the silence: Their parents communicated in a way more intense than verbal words, that didn’t require any noise. Once Yari explained this to his sister, she understood. Clearly, their parents’ love for each other was transcendental, moving beyond mere physical limits. It was a knowledge that brought with it an amount of comfort, because with parents who loved them that deeply, they had the confidence to do anything. And, maybe one day they could have the same level of intimacy with their own partners.
Their dad was never the happiest person, despite his humorous protestations to the contrary, but he was very doting, and they were never wont for affection. He spoke rarely, but in his approving smiles, and in how his lap always seemed to have room for them, and in the comforting way he would firmly grasp their shoulders, and in so many other ways, they knew unquestioningly that their father loved them. Even if he was a bit of a prick sometimes.