Soon Valkyrie found her hand creeping out to touch then to boldly hold that of Thors'. They spent a moment gazing into each others eyes. At last it was Thor who broke the spell by saying
" The sun will be setting in about 2 hours let's have that broth and I'll get you home"
Valkyrie replied with a start " Oh do let's"
They headed off together along the passage and sitting on the edge of the bed drank steaming cups of delicious rabbit broth. Valkyrie brought out her wheat cakes and they were soon both dunking them happily. The broth was finished far too quickly and Thor gathered up the cups and put them in the sink.
" Let's get you home lass"
Valkyrie shouldered her pack and Thor restocked his quiver and strapped on his weapons. Valkyrie led the way out the door and Thor locked it behind them. The walk back was largely uneventful apart from a large morepork menacing them until Thor drew his sword and it flew away to look for easier game. The stars were out when they reached the edge of the bush and Thor insisted on seeing her to the door. Her parents were waiting of course and a little anxious, however when they saw who she was with, her mother said
" oh hello Thor I see you've been looking after our little kitten "
" Oh mother " said Valkyrie blushing furiously.
" Won't you come in and have supper "said Odin
" No thankyou sir, I better get home I have an early start in the morning Simba and I are going on a hunting trip. "
With a wave he turned and ampled off into the bush. Valkyrie gazed wistfully after him then went reluctantly inside. She was surprised to see the amused looks on her parents faces.
" Did you have a nice time dear " her mother said amiably.
" He's a good lad that " said her father " How did you meet him. "
Valkyrie was soon telling them of her rescue from the ferret with suitable embellishments of course.
" I'm so glad he was there to help " Odin said " we might never have got the gold for the crowns otherwise " he added with a laugh.
Valkyrie was quite surprised of how her parents regarded Thor and said so.
" You seem to have made a bit of a conquest there " said her mum " he usually keeps pretty much to himself "
" Oh Mother ! " blushed Valkyrie again.
" Off to bed girl " Odin said " It's way past your bedtime"
" Oh dad I am TWO years old you know ".
She went off to bed happily though, because she was rather tired from her days adventures. The next day Valkyrie rose rather early, happy to be alive. She tried to think up several excuses to visit the quarry again. She was soon helping her mother with breakfast and it was ready on the table when her father came out of the workshop carrying two superbly crafted bowie knives, one longer than the other. Handing them to his wife he said
" can you make a couple of sheaths for these dear ", " then Valkyrie can have one and take the other to Thor, that way she won't need to make up excuses to go there " he added with a smile.
Valkyrie became very eager and bolted down her breakfast and started clearing the table before her parents were even halfway through their meal.
" Don't rush dear, it'll take a day or two to make the sheaths you know"
" I'll help you mother " she exclaimed eagerly
" You can help me make the metal tips for them " Odin said
" When can we start "
" Soon dear, I need to find the right metal, soft so it won't blunt the tip but strong so it will hold and protect it. ", " I'm thinking of bronze or brass" he added.
" Which is quicker" was the inevitable reply.
" We'll go with brass I think, I have a good sized ingot already. "
They were soon in the workshop and Odin put the brass into the crucible and put it on the forge. He and Valkyrie took turns on the bellows and the fire was soon very hot. Valkyrie to singe her whiskers when she got too close to the fire but generally the work went well and they had a lot of fun together, both seeming to sense that they may not be doing this sort of thing for much longer. Next Odin took out two blank knives thicker than the two new ones and then poured the brass into the mould and stood the blanks in the molten metal and clamped them in place with a clothes line type arrangement.
" Now we wait " he said " go and see if you can help your mother "
Valkyrie set out to find her mother, she was in the sewing room having just finished cutting out the sheaths.
" They're deerskin from that poor stag that fell over the cliff and broke its neck last year"," We now have to wait for the metal tips"
" Can't we start the stitching"
" No we need your father to rivet the sheath to the metal tip."
" Then let's make some rabbit pie "
" Yes " said her mother " we'll use some of that fresh flour the King gave us yesterday "
Valkyrie told her mother she'd gather the eggs and set off for the weka colony taking a bag of wheat to feed them with. The wekas seemed to know which eggs were infertile and were happy for the family to use these. Valkyrie fed the wekas and then went to the fern bower where they left had left eggs for the families use. She put the half dozen that were there into the now empty bag. She stopped to watch the chicks playing for a while and then headed back to the house. It's funny she though to herself I'm already calling it a house rather than home as I've always done. She got back to her parents home at about midday , her mum greeted her at the door and took the eggs from her.
" You have a visitor in the sun-room " she said with a twinkle in her eye.
Valkyrie guessing who it was, tried to look demure but could not keep the eagerness form her step. Thor was looking out the window towards the hills when she came in.
" Look Lass " he said as she stood beside him " You can see Valhalla , there just above that big rimu, see the sparkle, I left a shiny piece of metal nailed to the door. "
He showed Valkyrie the paper he was holding, on it was a plan drawing
"It's a signalling lamp " he said " It uses the sunlight during the day and a lamp at night. "
At the back was a large mirror built to tip on the vertical and also to swivel on the horizontal, underneath was a lamp and small mirror pointed towards a large tube. On the front of the tube was a set of blinds that could be opened and closed with a lever mounted on the side.
" It's brilliant Thor , we'll be able to keep in touch with mum and dad",
then realising what she had said blushed furiously.
"Ai lass, I've known we were meant for each other from the first time we spoke "
" Me too" she sighed gazing up at him.
" This needs talking about girl, let's drop the plans to your father and go for a walk "
They walked off to the workshop and Valkyrie went to see her mother, not sure what to say she she stood gazing into space.
" You'll be leaving us then dear " her mother said.
" Oh mum how did you know " Valkyrie gasped.
" I saw it in your eyes when Thor was leaving last night, he's a lovely boy Valkyrie "
" Hardly a boy mum he's three and a half you know"
" Far too old for you then " her mother grinned.
" Oh I don't think so mum, he's just so mature "
" I couldn't be happier for you, really I couldn't "
" I'd better find Thor we are going for a walk "
" OK dear I'll finish the scabbards and you can bake that pie when you get back"
Valkyrie wandered off to find Thor. She spotted him coming from her fathers workshop. He reached for her and they left the house hand in hand. Thor led them west , they soon came to the bottom of a sheer cliff with no way to the top. Thor went to some bushes and pulled them aside there was a metal door in the cliff-face. He opened it revealing a tunnel made of the same metal and leading under the cliff.
" Come with Me" he said and led the way into the tunnel after first propping back the door with a stick.
Once inside he opened a cupboard in the wall , there were lamps and oil neatly laid out on the shelves. He lit one of the lamps and then removed the prop and locked the door from the inside with a well-oiled bolt.
" Stops anyone coming in behind us " he said.
He gave Valkyrie the lit lamp and got another for himself, then shutting the cupboard he led the way down the tunnel. The tunnel got bigger as they climbed and before long they could see daylight in the distance. They soon came to a large opening and out into what at first glance seemed like a quarry, then on further examination seemed to be a dry pond.
" The water used to come in over there " said Thor pointing to a stream mouth
" but the sides have collapsed further back and now it flows to the valley above your place".
They walked across the bottom and then climbed up a well beaten path to the rim. The view was breath-taking, to the west was the sea across some rocks that looked like stacks a flat wheat cakes, to the east they looked down into valley where Valkyrie's home was. Away to the north-east was The Mill that was the King and Queen's home. Looking out to sea Valkyrie and Thor saw a huge jet of water leap into the air, realising this was from the famous blow-holes didn't lessen the awesome sight.
" Sometimes fish get sucked up in those and you can gather them from the rocks" Thor said " Oh can we go and have a look " Valkyrie exclaimed
" Not today we better get you home or your parents will begin to worry."
It was then that Valkyrie realised that they had been away for hours and noted that the time just seemed to flywhen she was with Thor. Leading the way around the rim Thor took them to the creek bed, they climbed down and followed it for a while soon coming to the collapsed wall. There was a path down beside the stream and they turned down it. It soon became dark as the trees hid the sun but enough light filtered through for them to see where they were going. They were rounding a large boulder when a huge ferret lept from the the boulder and landed on Thor flattening him to his back and ending up sitting on his chest with it's teeth bared at his throat.
" You killed my brother , now you will feed both our families " it hissed.
Ignoring Valkyrie it prepared to tear out Thor's throat, however Valkyrie was no longer the sheltered girl that she was just two days ago, quick as a flash she drew Thor's sword and plunged it through the ferrets side with such force that it was knocked from Thor's chest and pinned to the ground as the sword emerged from its other side. The ferret died instantly the sword having split its heart.
" Oh Thor " she cried helping him to his feet and hugging him tightly.
" I'll never think of you as part of the weaker sex again " Laughed Thor looking at his sword buried to the hilt in ferret. He reached to pull it out but Valkyrie stopped him, Saying
" Take me away from here "
" I guess we're even now lass "
" Oh Thor, I don't know what I would have done without you "
They walked along the leafy path their arms around each others waists. They came to a small deep pool of crystal clear water and Valkyrie said
" Let's wash this blood and dirt off "
Ever the practical, Thor drew his knife and plunged it into the ground then loaded his crossbow and place it on the ground beside the knife before removing his belt and quiver. By the time he had done all this Valkyrie was already in the water and she playfully splashed him as he entered. Soon they were taking handfuls of sand and scrubbing the mess from each other, when at last they were clean they retreated to the bank to lie in the sun and dry off. Thor propped himself up on one elbow and gazed into Valkyrie's deep pink eyes. They both recognised the moment and stood together, Thor led the way to a bower in the trees and there on the leafy ground they made love. When the explosion came they were indeed one with the earth and with each other. They lay down for a while just enjoying the nearness of the other and then with the sun fast setting , they put on their belts and Thor unloaded his bow, resheathed his knife and with his empty scabbard bumping at his side they set off for home. They weren't far away and were soon strolling down the path to her parents house. When they got there they found both Odin and Starfire in the yard outside the workshop. Odin had completed the signalling devices , Thor soon recognised that he had improved on the original design: They were now mounted on runners rather than wheels and by the ingenious use of lockable hinges the whole thing folded down giving a flat surface on which packs and other gear could be carried.
" It's superb sir " Thor said.
It was then that Odin noticed the missing sword and asked what had happened to it.
Thor said " Valkyrie left it sticking in a ferret " and then went on to tell of their little adventure adding
" You have a hell of a daughter here " and causing Valkyrie to blush profusely again.
" Let's all get inside " Starfire said, "I've supper ready "
They trooped into the dining room and were soon sitting down to a delicious meal of meatloaf (rabbit), yams and a salad topped with goats' milk cottage cheese. Over the meal they all caught up with most of the days happenings.
Then Starfire said " You can help Thor take the heliograph up to Valhalla after the ceremony"
" Ceremony mother" Valkyrie enquired.
" Why your wedding dear, the King and the queen are coming down to get their crowns and to give you Thor."
Valkyrie had been to her three older sister's weddings and knew what this meant. After dinner Thor and Valkyrie did the dishes with much hilarity while Odin and Starfire retired to the lounge and had a couple of whiskeys. Odin distilled this spirit from the barley they grew. When they had finally finished they went in to join the older folks and Odin offered them both a drink to celebrate. When they had sipped their drinks for a while Odin said
" I have something for you " and he went to the sideboard and took down an ornate case, carrying it to the table. He opened it revealing two magnificent swords and the two knives that Odin had made earlier.
" They're samurai swords, I found a detailed book on how to make them in a cave near the quarry along with a few ingots of the steel needed." said Odin
Thor took the longest one from the case and withdrew it from the wooden scabbard. The blade was almost blue and when he made a few passes it felt like and extension of his arm rather than just a chunk of metal like his other one had been. The sound it made through the air was like nothing he had ever heard before, a swish that was almost a song, the song of the samurai.
" Here see if you can cut this lad " said Odin taking an apple from the basket on the sideboard.
" I'll toss it in the air"
When Odin tossed the apple, Thor made two cuts at it one vertical, one horizontal, the apple hardly deviated.
" Oh you missed Thor " cried Valkyrie.
However when it hit the ground it fell into four pieces. Odin looked on with satisfaction and Starfire and Valkyrie gasped in awe. Wiping the blade with the cloth from the case Thor returned the sword to it's scabbard.
" It's what I've always thought a sword should be sir, thankyou so much "
" You're welcome lad, I'm glad you like it. , you'd better stay the night, I'm sure Valkyrie can find somewhere for you to sleep " he added,
Causing Valkyrie to blush yet again. They all retired to their respective rooms anticipating a changing of all their lives the next day.