Chapter One - The Halls of the Gods

Chapter One - The Halls of the Gods

A Chapter by Alex W

            Turi was dead. He knew that he was dead. He had felt himself die, his last breath escaping him and his heartbeat stopping. And yet he was thinking, so he could not be. Was this the afterlife? He could not open his eyes, and he felt as though he were floating. He was unable to move, but it did not feel uncomfortable. Infact, he felt the most comfortable that he had ever done before.

A warm heat hit his face, like the rays of the sun at midday. He felt his eyelids lift, and sat up. The hilly woodland was gone, replaced by a great hall thronged with banners and torches. As he looked up, the ceiling he was staring at was crafted with runes, both large in scale and crafted deep into the stone. The hall stretched to the distance, where he could see a large statue of Lugh, the God of artistry, harvest, talent and skill in battle. The statue depicted Lugh standing tall, in his greaves and an unbuttoned shirt, leaning on his war spear in front of him. It was an impressive sight, and a wonder at how anything such grand in detail and size could be sculpted out of stone.

Turi had listened to stories of Lugh many times. His favourite being the one in which Lugh had arrived at the halls of the high kings and asked to be let in. A guard at the door told Lugh that no-one was allowed in unless he was a master of a certain skill. Lugh answered that he was a master blacksmith, and created one of the finest swords ever seen. The guard replied “Sorry, we have someone who can do that.” Lugh then showed that he was a great bard, and performed a beautiful song about war and death. Once again the Guard said they already had a great bard. Lugh went on to recreate several skills that he had mastered, and still got the same answer. After finishing, the guard looked at him to leave, before Lugh said,

“You have a master bard, a master blacksmith, a master of every skill there is. But do you have someone who can is a master of all of them together?” The guard smiled at Lugh, and opened the door.

            A series of crafted torches lit up the room, placed across the walls at equal distances. Red banners were hanging down beside them, with the crests of several gods adorning them. A few fountains were dotted about, the likes of which Turi had only seen once before, upon a visit to Londinium. The water was constant; the sound of swirling was pleasant to Turis’ ears.

            Wandering to one of the fountains, Turi leaned over and cupped a few handfuls of water to his mouth and drank them, the water quickly escaping from between his fingers.

            “Look at this. Among the dead two minutes and he’s already stealing my water.”

            Turi spun round, dropping a handful of water down his front as he jumped at the voices sudden arrival. “Lugh?”, asked Turi.

            “Aye, that’s the one. The master of all trades and skills. And apparently, you and I need to have a little chat.” Lugh was stood in full battle gear, he held no weapon but there was sweat on his brow. His face was clean shaven, his brown hair cut to his neck, he had the look of a Roman gentry yet his presence felt incredibly overpowering.

            “So, you’re confused, yes?” Lugh asked, walking past Turi to a large wooden chair of runic design.

            “Allow me to explain. Come, sit and drink with me for a moment.” Lugh beckoned to the chair opposite him, and as Turi moved to the chair, picked up two tankards of ale.

            “Here” he said, handing the tankard across to the young Celt, “Drink up. It’s good stuff. Well, what else do you expect from the halls of the gods?” He smiled widely, spanning his arm out across the room.

            Turi was entirely bewildered. All his life he had never questioned what would happen when he died. But to be sat here drinking with Lugh himself? No, this wasn’t right. Perhaps he wasn’t dead, and that he was merely knocked out.

“Now, I can see that look on your face, you’re wondering if this is real, are you not?”. Turi nodded. “Well, believe me; this conversation is as real as the air that you used to breath. You are dead Turi, long since fallen upon the grassy knoll where you felled the Saxons. They were well exectured kills by the way, even if you do need to learn the fine art of blocking.” Lugh smiled at Turi, taking another drink.

Turi was still struggling to come to terms with what was happening, the fact that he would be sat here sharing a drink with Lugh, the very God that his clan and people worshipped. He raised the cup that was by his side to his lips, and tasted it. It was smooth to the taste, and a delicious flavour that he couldn’t quite describe. Nonetheless, it was possibly the best drink he’d ever tasted.

“Nothing but the best for a God eh,” he remarked, surprising himself with how calm his words flowed. “I….do not know what to make of this. I take it I am truly dead?”

“Alas, I am afraid so. You fell by the blow delivered by the last Saxon that you killed.” Lugh gestured to Turis’ forehead, “Your wounds do not follow you to this place though. It’s probably just as well; you’d have put me off my drink if not” Lugh joked, laughing a little.

Turi found himself laughing back, relaxing back into his chair. “Are my parents here, Lugh? I would like to see them, for I did not have the chance previously.”

“They are here, and you will see them. But not yet. No, your story has barely begun Turi.” Lughs’ voice was serious now, and he placed his drink on the floor, turning to meet Turis curious gaze. “Turi, I do not begin to understand what is going to happen from here on in. Your part in the world is not yet over.”

“I…………… not understand. What do you mean ‘not yet over’? I am dead, am I not? What possible part can I play now?”

“You are to be re-awoken, Turi. A long time after your passing, so long that the ways and world that you live in are naught but stories in books, something is happening beyond my or any Gods comprehension. Souls that have long been rested have left their resting places in these lands have gone back to where it all began. Something is happening Turi, and we do not understand it. No man can be resurrected, no man, and yet it is happening. Strands of the very life force of being have been broken, twisted, and used for mans gain.”

“And I am to return too?”, asked Turi, who was staring into his ale as it swished slowly from side to side as he gently shook his cup.

“Yes”, answered Lugh, “your part in this appears to be special. I cannot tell you why you are going back, although I do know some of it. You must find out yourself. Your soul never arrived here Turi, after your death you did not find your way here, as it should have. It balanced on the edges of this place, waiting. Whatever will happen when you go back, you will play a big part in it.”

Lugh rose from his chair, and beckoned Turi over to a wooden shelf that held a number of glinting items wrapped in a dull cloth. “You shall be found with these Turi, a God still has a few tricks to pull within the living realm. Prayers very rarely help anything, there is very little any of us can do, you know, unto the living. Good or otherwise. We can however, make little marks where it goes unnoticed”.

            Grabbing the cloth and the items inside it, Lugh unwrapped the linen and gestured towards the items inside. “These should serve you well, I hope.”

            Examining the shining items on view, Turi could only marvel at them. Three items were wrapped in the cloth. The first was a bow of strong wood and fine artistry, the markings of Lugh were carved into the side, while the string shone bright and made a sharp releasing noise as he pulled it back slightly. Such a weapon he had never seen before, it would have cost far more than he would ever have seen as a hunter over his lifetime.

            The second was a large plate of armour with a green tint, indeed there seemed to be an earthly texture to it. Turi ran his fingers over the material; it was tough to the touch. He couldn’t put his finger on the texture; it didn’t seem to be any type of iron or steel that he’d seen before, something entirely different. 
            “What is this made of?” he enquired.

            “Sucellus tells me that you took good care of one of his forests when you used to roam it, and that you never killed more beasts than you needed. He sends this, as a token of his appreciation. It’s sewn from earth deep below the ground, a type of stone that has been purposefully fitted and melted into useable piece of armour for yourself.”
            “Thank you…….i’m……..not sure what to say. But thank you.”
            Looking at the last piece, Turi picked it up and examined it. It was a small amulet, no bigger than the simple Clan trinket that all of his Clan used to wear. Yet this was a deep blue stone, carved into a circle around the same size as Turis palm. It was carved with the tree of life, a symbol known to all Pagans, which was outlined in what seemed like white stone, yet there were no signs of two stones being moulded together. It looked like it had been created in entirely this form.

            As Turis heartbeat became more apparent as he stared at the dazzlingly beautiful amulet, the amulet itself beat. A deep blue light pounded from inside the stone, though it did not move. The very stone itself seemed to be glowing in and out of focus with every beat of Turis heart.
            “What is this? It’s……It’s……..” Turi was struggling to find words for such an item. “It’s beautiful,” he finally managed to mumble.
            “It is, isn’t it?” Lugh smiled. “Turi, this is all for you. You fill be found with these items when you wake. History will ordain that you fell with them and so you will have them when you go back. We Gods cannot alter the fates of men, but we can give them a helping hand when we see an opening..........”, Lugh picked up the Amulets chain, a thin silvery material that bended effortlessly yet still took on the strength of steel, and placed it over Turis neck.
            “The bow and the armour are merely physical things of war that we can gift to you. This however, is much more than just a weapon of war. In this Turi, is a connection to us Gods and the afterlife itself. More so, inside it beats the essence of all nature and being, the very core of ‘life’. It will connect you to us and you to the earth, though the link is being torn thin. All of this tampering with the dead and the general disregard of the planet leaves the connection between humanity and nature stretched. The stone will beat with your heart and through you it will contain our last hope for nature, and therefore humanity. When we know what’s happening when you re-awaken, I will explain fully the task ahead.”
            “Why has this happened?” asked Turi, “Why have our ways been forgotten? Surely Pagans still do as they must?”
            “Alas Turi, the Pagan way is no longer followed by many. Indeed, of the few who follow it not all even know what it means to be Pagan. Nature is treated like a produce, the trees and land being ripped from the earth by Mans greed for wealth and power. Much of the land you once knew is gone, and few are doing anything to stop it.”
            Turi felt hurt at these words, as would all Pagans. Nature was at the very core of his living, and now he learned that it was being torn apart and destroyed? Not only that, but the Pagan beliefs that he followed, that he had always known, had been almost forgotten?
            “Why? I don’t understand…………what can I do?”
            “You will find out in time, we ourselves do not fully know what awaits you. Now, you must finish your drink. Then, when you’re ready, take the stone and hold it to your heart. Close your eyes, and let your mind wander. You will wake up alive once more, and we shall find out what is happening to the world.” Lugh turned away from Turi and wandered over to his chair. Sitting down, he placed his drink down and locked his hands together while resting them on his stomach. His head lolled back and he closed his eyes. “You will have to excuse me; even a God needs to sleep.” And with that, he began breathing in rhythm, and no longer moved.
            Turis head was revelling. What was happening in his world? Indeed, what world was this? Was he dead? This could all still be an illusion of his mind, though he didn’t really think that anymore. The Stone resting softly against his chest dazzled him so much that he could never imagine something so vivid and beautiful and it not be real. 
            He had just had a conversation with a God! He never thought such a thing were possible. He had never doubted his Pagan roots, but he didn’t believe that he’d ever be in a room talking to one. Especially not Lugh, perhaps the most famous of all the Gods that Turi knew of. Holding onto the stone in his right hand, he wandered over to the place where he had woken before. He now noticed that it was a veiled sheet of green velvet, something that even the richest Roman could barely afford.
            He lay down upon it, and stared at the ceiling. The swirling of the waters was calming, and the heat of the room was pleasant as he closed his eyes. Clutching the stone tight, he began to picture the stone glowing with each of his heart beats in his mind. Slowly he drifted off, and eventually he fell into a deep sleep. The peace however, wouldn’t last long….          

© 2013 Alex W

Author's Note

Alex W
The epilogue may be changed to make it the first chapter and this the second, i'm not sure. Also not sure whether to in that case include a new epilogue where you see the gladiator arena through the eyes of a small boy with his father, perhaps set up the future events slightly?

Any thoughts on that idea and feedback on this one are greatly appreciated. Thank you. (Grammatical errors will be fixed when I see them, the whole thing will be edited later on for more smooth-ness, it's mainly feedback to the story that i'm interested in currently)

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Added on April 9, 2011
Last Updated on May 3, 2013
Tags: Turi, God, Pagan, Lugh, Afterlife, Nature, Gladiator


Alex W
Alex W

Heanor, Derbyshire, United Kingdom

I like to write things, as you might expect from someone here. I abandoned this account years ago but I've come back to post a little. I write mostly comedic pieces but sometimes dark or slightly '.. more..