“Once upon a time, in a land of craggy cliffs and rolling hills, in a world where the clouds met the mountain tops and the Gods walked amongst men, there lived..?” began Olaf.
“Sven the Impossible Traveller!” cried out the excitable four year old girl, nestled into his gigantic arms.
“That’s right, my darling Morag! Sven the Impossible Traveller was a Jarl like no other. His people respected him, his wife loved him and his boats sailed wherever he wished them to go.”
Morag snuggled further into her father’s giant embrace as she started whispering the well-recited tale in unison with the rolling tone of his deep and comforting voice.
“If Sven wished to discover new worlds, not yet seen by Viking eyes, then his boats would find him lands abundant with fruits and trees. If Sven wished to visit places only spoken of in sagas older than time, then his boats would push through storms and reach them. And, if Sven wished to dine with Odin, Thor and Loki, then his boats would find a way through the clouds to reach the Gods.
But the one thing Sven hadn’t yet wished for, despite yearning for it, more than anything else, was to be taken to that place that all true Viking warriors hope one day to reach…”
“Valhalla!” roared Morag.
“Valhalla!” affirmed Olaf.
“For after all of his many travels and the wondrous beasts and men he’d encountered on his numerous journeys, nothing had ever made Sven forget the uniquely magical feeling of holding his family close and feeling their warmth and love surround him.
Having been the protector of such strong travelling magic for so long, Sven knew that if he were to wish to be taken to Valhalla, there would be no coming back.
Valhalla is the one place from which there is no return.”
“It is our final resting place.” murmured an increasingly sleepy Morag.
Olaf’s voice lowered in volume to allow Morag to drift off as he continued.
“So on a certain sunny Summer’s day, Sven the Impossible Traveller put his life into order. He nominated his brother, Karls, as the Jarl to succeed him, giving the secrets of the Wishing Boats to Karls and no-one else.
He said his farewells to his wife Sigrid and their living daughter, Helga.
He took one of the smallest boats and filled it with food, drink and warm furs and he made one final wish…
I wish to be with my parents, with my fallen friends and with my dear, beloved, lost children in the hallowed halls of Valhalla.”
Olaf paused his story to gently bundle a now snoring Morag into his arms as he carried her to bed, before finishing his story as he tucked her up.
“And Sven made one final impossible travel. Alone. But it was the most rewarding journey he’d ever taken.”
Olaf kissed Morag gently on the forehead. “Goodnight, my beautiful warrior. May you live many fruitful years before you reach Valhalla.”
Morag stirred a little, rolled onto her side and sunk back into a deep slumber, full of dreams of shields and battles.