Chapter 1: Lunch at Alinea's
The phone rang and was answered on the 2nd ring, “Hello,” said a young girls voice?
After a pause the caller asked, “Is this the Carpenter’s home?”
The young girl replied, “Yes it is, my name in Hope. What is your name?”
The caller replied, “My name is Ms. Gard. Is your mother home?”
“Yes she is, would you like to talk to her,” asked Hope?
“Yes, please,” said Ms. Gard.
“Ok, let me go get her. Hold on,” she said and then there was a quick thud sound as Hope set the phone on the counter and went to get her mother.
After about 2 minutes, Charity Carpenter picked up the phone and said, “Hello, this is Charity Carpenter, who is this please?”
“Hello, this is Ms. Gard, Mrs. Carpenter. I don’t know if you remember me as it has been some time,” she replied.
There was a silent pause before Charity replied, “Yes, Ms. Gard, I do remember you. I seem to remember that you work for Mr. Marcone.”
Ms. Gard said, “Actually, I do not work for Mr. Marcone. I am contracted by my company to provide security services for Mr. Marcone, but yes I could see how you may have gotten that impression.”
After a second or two, Charity replied, “Oh my mistake, I do apologize for getting that wrong. What is it that you called for? Is there a problem?”
“No, no problems. I have recently come across some information and I thought that maybe we could grab lunch and talk for a while. If it would not be an inconvenience to you,” she answered.
This was very puzzling to Charity because she had no earthly idea what information she could have that would mean anything to her, so she said, “I am not quite sure why you would think that you could have information that would be of any interest to me, Ms. Gard? May I ask to the nature of this information?”
There was a slight pause before she spoke, “I have recently received information directly from my employer that pertains to you and your family. It is not bad or negative information, on its own but I do believe that you will find it very interesting, to say the least. I would very much prefer not to go into any details over the phone. That is why the lunch invite, Mrs. Carpenter.”
This was making her somewhat nervous because she couldn’t understand what information this woman had that could possibly be of any interest to her. She replied, “I am a little hesitant Ms. Gard. I just can not think of anything that you or your boss could have that would matter to me at all.”
Ms. Gard replied, “I completely understand your apprehension, Mrs. Carpenter but I can assure you that what I have to discuss with you could be life changing for you and possibly others.”
Quickly Charity said, “Is that some kind of threat? Are you threatening my family, Ms. Gard because I will have you know ….”
Before Charity could finish her statement, Ms. Gard interrupted with, “Please wait, Mrs. Carpenter, please. I am afraid that you have misunderstood, or I have said something wrong. No, this is not a threat of any kind and I promise that no harm or ill intentions will come your way because of this information. It is just information that is very personal and important to you and those you want to share it with. Please understand that there is nothing here that will hurt you or anyone you know, please.”
Charity was quiet for a few seconds as she thought all of this through and then said, “Where did you want to have lunch?”
“I have made reservations at Alinea’s at 1:30 this afternoon, if that is alright with you. Of course, it would me my treat,” she said.
Charity was not sure what to say because Alinea’s was extremely expensive. She replied, “Yes, that would be fine. For as much as this will cost I hope that the information is that important.”
“I feel that the meal will not be any comparison to the information. I will send a car to pick you up at 1 o’clock, see you then.” She said and then she hung up.
Charity stood there for a few seconds just looking at the phone before stating, “Well, I better get all dressed up if I’m going to Alinea’s for lunch.” She then headed up stairs to her bedroom wondering if she had anything fancy enough for Alinea’s.
The black limo stopped in front of Alinea’s and the door was opened by the front doorman. Charity took the hand that was offered and stepped from the car. She was wearing a white pant suit with thin black pin stripes and large wide lapels. She had on a light blue blouse, that matched her eyes and matching blue sandals with 2-inch heels. She had a fair-sized black clutch bag in her left hand. She looked all business and beautiful.
The hostess escorted her immediately to one of the kitchen suites which provide complete privacy for the dinners. As she stepped to the table, Ms. Gard stood and greeted her with a polite handshake, unlike men, the ladies offered a softer more feminine handshake. Charity noticed that Ms. Gard was also wearing a pantsuit but hers was styled more like a suit and it was black with thin white pinstripes and white blouse with front ruffles and black boots with 3-inch heels.
“I took the liberty of ordering lunch, I do hope you are not allergic to shellfish,” she asked?
Charity smiled and said, “No, there is no problems and thank you.”
Just then the waiter arrived and poured 2 glasses of wine and then quickly left them alone. “I also ordered the wine, though it was a recommendation as I am not the good with wine choices. It is a Mascarello 1998, I do hope you like it,” she said. They each took a sip and Charity thought it was wonderful.
She then asked, “will Mr. Marcone be joining us?”
Without any change, Ms. Gard replied, “Mr. Marcone has nothing at all to do with this luncheon or with the information I have for you. Though I believe that my employer may stop in to speak with you but other than that, we are just here for a nice lunch and some talk.”
As Ms. Gard took another drink of her wine, Charity asked, “If this is some kind of job offer or recruitment effort, you are wasting your time. I have no intentions of going to work for you.”
Again, Charity saw no reaction to her statement. Ms. Gard set her glass down and said, “I am quite sure that you would be a great asset to our company and my employer, but you have no idea who I work for. My employer is Mr. Donar Vadderung and he is the CEO of Monoc Securities, which is an international company specialized in providing security services. The headquarters is located in Oslo. We are not in the same line or type of business as Mr. Marcone. But we have hundreds of clients that may have questionable business practices, but we only get involved in their security needs and concerns. But sadly, this is not a business meeting regarding employment.”
Just then 2 waitresses carrying several plates of food arrived and set down wonderful smelling food that Charity didn’t recognize. As they finished the waiter appeared and refilled their glasses and then he left them to their meal.
Ms. Gard sipped her wine and said, “I do hope that we can enjoy the meal before getting to the business at hand. The food here is absolutely delightful. Please help yourself.” With that said, Ms. Gard started moving food to a plate which she set in front of her when it was filled. Charity paused, and Ms. Gard asked, “Have you had Scallops in citrus before? The chef claims that they have 14 different textures. The Waygu parsnips are quite astounding and the Lobster Thermidor is fantastic. Would you care for something different?”
Charity blushed a little and replied, “No, this is fine. Actually, it is perfect. It’s that I haven’t eaten like this in a very long time.”
Ms. Gard smiled and said, “Well, maybe we can fix that for you. This is truly wonderful food, but I do have to confess that I don’t eat like this very often because of the cost but also because it is quite fattening and a girl has got to watch her figure.” She almost whispered that last part.
Charity smiled and started to help herself. They didn’t speak much while they ate, each enjoying the food and atmosphere but mostly there seemed to be a little nervous tension in the air.
The finished their meal along with 3 glasses of wine, each. The waitresses returned and removed the dishes and then the waiter returned with a tray with desert and coffee. He placed one of each in front of each woman, then left allowing them the privacy they would need. Again, Ms. Gard was the first to taste the food and exclaimed, “Oh my, this is heavenly. I do hope you enjoy chocolate as much as I for this is wonderful.”
Charity tasted the desert and was completely overwhelmed by the soft and delicate chocolate with a light taste of something very familiar. She looked at Ms. Gard with delight and questions on her face.
“It is a Milk Chocolate Pate Surree with toasted Hazelnuts. Delicate but delicious, isn’t it,” asked Ms. Gard?
“Hazelnuts, that’s what it is. Yes, it is delightful, oh my. I think I will have to work up a few extra hours to pay for this,” she said.
They finished their deserts and sipped their coffee until the waiter had removed all of the dishes leaving a fresh carafe of coffee for them. Once they were alone, Ms. Gard started speaking, “Mrs. Carpenter, if I may ask you a question, how much do you know about the Norse lore?”
Charity looked slightly surprised at the question and replied, “If you are asking if I’m aware of things like Odin, Thor and the Vikings, I am a little behind my older children as far as familiar, but I have heard of them.”
She smiled and replied, “That is exactly what I am asking and the basis of why I am here today.” She paused to sip her coffee before continuing, “I would ask if you believe in the old folktales about them?”
Charity had no idea where this was going but she had enjoyed her meal, so she thought it only correct that she listen and play along if need be. She said, “Well, as you are well aware of the world that we all live in and the world that Harry Dresden lives in, it makes it difficult to say that even though I have always believed that they were mere myth, that may not be true. I have seen too much to disregard something like mythology.”
Again, Ms. Gard smiled saying, “That is true. The world that most mortals know and live in truly is not real. The problem is that most are not willing to accept the truth and continue to live in denial. It is truly a shame because there are some very wonderful things in the world.”
They both sat for a few seconds quietly sipping their coffee waiting and watching. Finally, Ms. Gard asked, “Do you know anything about your family? Like, where did they come from or what part of the world is your ancestral home?”
Charity was confused and had no idea what she was getting to so she said, “Ms. Gard, I am grateful for this wonderful meal and up until now the pleasant company but I would appreciate you coming to the point, please.”
Ms. Gard smiled a gentle understanding smile and asked, “What would you say if I were to tell you that all the tales, poems and stories about the old Norse gods and people were true? Additionally, what would you say if I told you that I was a Valkyrie?”
Charity sat back saying, “Well, with my husband having been the Fist of God, using one of the swords of the cross and then the magical world that Harry had brought into our lives, I would be lying if I said I was shocked. As for you claiming to be a Valkyrie, that I would have to see to believe.”
Ms. Gard stepped back from the table and hold out her arms. A bright light seeming to emanate from her lit up the small dining room and then a huge set of beautiful white with a little mix of gray wings unfolded and spread out behind her. She was clad in a full set of female armor with a shield on her left arm and a huge shining sword in her other. She stood with her head slightly tilted up as if she were looking at something on the ceiling. She looked at Charity and said, “I am the Valkyrie Sigrun, I am the Chooser of the Slain. I am charged to fly over the battlefield and select those that fought with honor and glory. I then take their soul to Valhalla where they reside.”
Charity sat there with her mouth hanging open not knowing what, if anything, she should say or do. She kept staring at her looking at every inch of her completely fascinated by what see was seeing. After a few minutes, the light started to dim, Ms. Gard quickly transformed back to her original self and sat back down to drink her coffee.
Charity just sat there looking at her, watching her act as if everything was perfectly normal. She was in total shock and awe at what she had just witnessed. She then said, “Wow, that was … Wow!”
Chapter 2: May I join you?
“I still don’t seem to understand. What do you mean I have a long and proud family history? What do you know about my family."
“Wow, indeed,” replied Ms. Gard. “so, I take it that you now believe what I have claimed?”
Charity sat there just staring for a few more seconds before saying, “I would have to say that you have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that you have told me the truth. Wow, you really are a Valkyrie. That is amazing and so very impressive which is really saying something after having seen my husband slay a dragon to protect me.”
Ms. Gard smiled saying, “Thank you but I am sure that watching your husband slay that dragon was and will probably be the most impressive thing that a person can see. I have a feeling that after today you may be re-evaluating what is truly amazing in your life.”
She paused before continuing to see if she had Charity’s attention, which she did, and said, “I did not bring you here just to feed you and show you that I am a Valkyrie. I asked if you knew anything about your family origin because I do.”
Charity sat there for a moment staring at her trying to make sense of what she was saying. She then said, “I am not sure what you are talking about.”
Ms. Gard replied, “I not only am a Valkyrie, which means that I am one of the chosen by Odin himself to serve him, but I am also related to Beowulf, from the tales. I have a long and proud family history as do you, but I am aware of mine where you are not.”
“I still don’t seem to understand. What do you mean I have a long and proud family history? What do you know about my family, Ms. Gard,” asked Charity?
“Well, first I would feel a lot more comfortable if you would call me Kara. It is one of the names I have been called that I actually like,” She said with a smile. “Second, I would ask if you are aware of Odin, the All Father and his sons?”
Charity sat there a little shocked but shook her head indicating she did not.
Ms. Gard continued, “Odin is claimed to have many sons, which he really does but through history he has been named the father of sons that are not really his, many of them. Some are only partially true like Bragi who was actually his nephew but after his mother died during child birth, Odin claimed him as one of his sons. He became know as the God of Poetry.”
Charity didn’t want to interrupt her but needed to ask, “I didn’t know that Odin had any sister. I was aware that he had 2 brothers who helped him kill the giant, Ymir but I never heard of a sister.”
Ms. Gard stated, “You are correct about his brothers, Vili and Ve’, but he also had one sister, actually half-sister named Asgardia.”
“Asgardia, is that how Asgard got its name,” asked Charity?
“Yes, it is. She was a very beautiful young woman and always slightly on the sick side, she was never very healthy. When she died, Odin was terribly upset, and he named 1 of the 12 Realms for her. She died in childbirth with Bragi, who Odin took in as his son, basically adopting him,” said Ms. Gard.
“Bradi was famous for his skill and knowledge of words and song, which made him very popular especially among the ladies. He did finally marry Idun, the Goddess whose fruits guaranteed the continued immortality of the gods. It was widely known that he had fathered many children to maiden and married alike, and several others with his wife, but none have ever been listed. One which I am very aware of was Eir. She was the Goddess of Peace, Help and Mercy; she also watched over women during Childbirth. She was also a Valkyrie known as the Chooser of life and death. She would accompany her battle-sisters across the battlefield and while the other Valkyries chose the slain that were to be escorted to Valhalla, Eir would choose who would live and recover, and return to health.”
Charity sat in complete rapture as Ms. Gard spoke. She had never heard of anything like this and as she was a bit of a history buff, she was completely in awe at hearing these tales. She almost as how Ms. Gard knew all of this but as she had shown that she was a real Valkyrie and said she knew this Eir, she decided that maybe she was telling the truth. She did ask, “I thought that I had read somewhere that Valkyries had to take a vow of celibacy when they took the job, so to speak?”
Ms. Gard smiled and said, “Yes, that is true. When we take up the role as a Valkyrie we are asked to take that vow along with a few others but that one is mostly voluntary.”
“Charity looked at her for a second, then asked, “This is all very interesting because I am a huge fan of history and most of what you have told me is not in the history books, anywhere. I have never heard of most of this. But, what does any of this have to do with me?”
Ms. Gard looked at Charity firmly and said, “Charity, if I may call you that, you are the great, great several greats in fact, granddaughter of Eir the Valkyrie and thusly Odin, the All Father himself.”
Charity had a slight smile on her face, but it was mostly from complete shock and disbelief of what she thought she had just heard Ms. Gard say. She did not move or even blink for almost 2 minutes. She just sat there looking across the table completely at a loss for words. She thought and then she asked, “If Eir was a Valkyrie and had taken the vow of celibacy, how could I be her great granddaughter. She would have had to have children to do that.”
“That would be true because she did make the vow upon becoming a Valkyrie, as most did but many years later she and a few others, one being Thrud the daughter of Thor, were requested by Freya, the wife of Odin and the Goddess of love, sex, lust, beauty, sorcery, fertility, gold, war and death. Every few centuries she would require a few of the Valkyrie to bare children to help refresh and strengthen the human gene pool, especially in the times of great wars and disaster,” she said.
“So, you are telling me that Freya, the wife of Odin, the king of the gods, asked Eir to break her vow and have children to help the mortals to grow stringer, Why,” Charity asked?
“Yes, that is correct, but she was not breaking her vow but having her vow temporarily lifted for the good of creation. After having the child, her vow was re-instated, and she would continue on with her life,” explained Ms. Gard. “The child was a girl named Astridr which means “Divine Beauty” which she was.”
Charity completely engulfed in the story asked, “Was she raised by the Valkyrie?”
“No, that was not allowed,” said Ms. Gard, “Freya took the child and bestowed her upon a mortal member of Eir’s family and she grew up with them. She later married and had children of her own and they did the same. This continued down through history until you were born.”
Charity sat with her mouth open for a few seconds before saying, “I never knew where my family came from. All my father would say was that we had been in the U.S. for several generations. My mother said that she really didn’t know.”
“This is all from your mother’s side and they were Norseman, originally from Norway until they moved south to the southern Scandinavia and northern Germany area. Today they are referred to a Vikings. Later your family moved across the ocean to this continent where they have been since around the late 1300’s. they were a hardy bunch and some of the first explorers,” Ms. Gard told her.
“I never knew any of this. My family were Vikings, oh my god,” Charity said. “This is quite a surprise.”
Just then the door opened in stepped a man not all that imposing, though in good shape looking like he may be in his early fifties. He was lean like a long-distance runner, but his shoulders and arms were large and heavy looking like someone who works out regularly. His hair was long, a bit shaggy, and the color of a "thundercloud". His one eye was ice blue with a patch over the other eye that bears a vertical scar running from above the eyebrow, through the space where the eye would be, ending at mid-cheek.
He stepped to the edge of the table looking at Charity with great interest. He didn’t speak but Ms. Gard said, “Good day sir. Please let me introduce you to Mrs. Charity Carpenter. You already know of her husband, he was one of the Knights of the Cross before he was almost killed.”
He turned to Charity and stuck out his enormous hand taking hers so very gentle and said, “Mrs. Carpenter, I am Donar Vadderung and it is my greatest honor to finally meet you. I hope my associate, Ms. Gard has been a helpful and informative host. I wanted to wait before introducing myself until after you had a chance to hear what she had to tell you.”
He then turned to Ms. Gard and asked, “Did you get a chance to explain everything to her?”
She answered, “Yes sir, I did. Everything except you sir. Which you said you wanted to handle.”
He smiled big and said, “Yes, thank you. I do want to take care of that myself. If you would give us a moment of privacy, please.”
Ms. Gard stood saying, “Of course sir. I will be just outside, should you need me.” She then stepped out the door and closed it leaving the two of them to talk.
“So, what do you think of everything Ms. Gard has told you? I would imagine that it is almost hard to believe. Do you have any questions,” he asked?
Charity was still a bit in shock and not sure what to say exactly, but she did ask, “I have heard a great deal of myth and folktales today from an honest to goodness Valkyrie. Which after she showed her true self made believing her tales a lot easier, but I do have two questions of you?”
“Only 2 questions, that is a bit surprising. Okay, go ahead and ask them,” he said smiling.
“Ok, first I am wondering why your company and Ms. Gard have gone to what must be a great deal of time and money to provide me with this information regarding my family history. And second, who are you in all of this,” she asked?
He looked at her and sat up a little straighter in his chair, which appeared to be just too small for him in the first place. He smiled really big and said, “Those are both very good and solid questions which are well suited to you, as I know you, but I am amazed that you of all people should need to ask them.”
She looked at him rather strangely and replied, “You act as if you know me, but we just met and I must have missed something, what do you mean you am amazed that I of all people should need to ask? Did I miss something?”
He leaned back and let out a wonderful full belly laugh reminding her somewhat of Santa Clause. He looked back at her and said, “Not to scare you or anything but I know you very well. I have watched over you family for many years. I have helped some and straighten out a few also. I am not who or what I appear to be.”
Charity looked at him and felt a little uncomfortable hearing that he had been following her family. “Are you saying that you have been investigating my family or that you are a stalker?”
Again, he laughed heartily, “No, nothing like that. I have been simply keeping track much as yu would of your own family.”
“Ok, that is a little disturbing, but you haven’t answered my questions of why did you spend so much time and money and just who are you,” she asked?
He sat back and smiled saying, I see the reason Ms. Gard had to show you her true self. Well, to answer your first question, I really haven’t spent much money or time regarding your family history because it is my history as well. I have lived it and know it firsthand. And for your second question, I guess showing you would probably work best.”
He then stood up and stepped back from the table just like Ms. Gard did before she changed. He said, “Please do not be alarmed at what you see. You are in no danger and no harm will befall you.”
With that said, he stood tall and opened his arms as his entire body started glowing. The light grew brighter and brighter until it was almost blinding. He stood in the middle of the light, but he had changed. He was a little bigger, taller and wider both. His long hair and bread were long and neatly styled. He wore a flowing white robe with gold trim and in his right hand he held a lightning bolt that sizzled and crackled. He looked down at her and when he spoke the felt like the entire world vibrated at his words. His words sounded like they were actually coming from inside her. Her chest and entire body vibrated with every word he said.
He said as softly as he could, “I am the All Father known by all as Odin, the king of Asgard and as the father of Thor. You are my great grandniece as your family are direct descendants of my sister, Asgardia.” The light then started to lessen, and he returned to his original self before sitting back down across the table from her.
Charity was completely in shock and could not speak if she wanted too. He sat looking at her for a few minutes not knowing what she was thinking before she finally said, “So, you are the God Odin, King of all of Asgard and the father of Thor, the God of Thunder and my great grand-uncle? We are family, distant but still blood family, right?”
He smiled and said, “Yes, that is exactly correct. We are family.”
She just sat there with a dull look about her when she asked, “That would mean that I am also related to Thor, right?
Again, he smiled and said, “Yes, that also is correct. To answer your next question, yes Thor is still alive, and you will get the chance to meet him.”
Charity was stunned. This was beyond her wildest dreams. She would never had imagined being related to Thor and Odin but then to actually meet them and talk to them. It was almost unreal. She then said, “I would like for you to meet my family, or your family, or you know what I mean. I will need a little time to explain a few things to them though.”
He smiled at her and said, “That would be very nice. I would love to get to know your entire family. I am aware of the wizard Dresden’s daughter being your adopted daughter. As for her, I am delighted but as for him, I will reserve judgement.”
Charity rolled her eyes saying, “I know what you mean but he has become a s close to be a member of my family as it is possible. You know what they say, you just can’t pick your family.”
They both laughed at that and he said, “That appears to be true. I looked forward to meeting the entire family.”
Charity smile and said, “Wow, what a day. I guess tis is really going to change Thanksgiving and Christmas a lot.”
He quietly added, “In more ways than you could know.”
Charity not quite hearing what he said asked but he told her it wasn’t anything important at this time. They hugged and chatted for a little while before he instructed Ms. Gard to make sure she got home safely.