The story I am about to recount to you is a story that has been told by many generation of Bard, Minstrel, and now Storyteller. It is a story of the human heart and just how much our hearts can give and just what we can become when we see this.

            Long ago, there were people that believed that there was a god, goddess or spirit for everything. Whether it be a plant, or an animal, or even a thought or emotion, these people saw that these things were controlled by a higher force. Of course, this is not the story of those gods or goddess but one of the human heart and the choice that we make every day.

            This is the story of one of the greatest warriors to ever live. It was said he was so powerful that he stared down the gods without flinching. It was said that he fought whole armies without a moments thought, but what most people don't realize about this warrior is that he did not like to fight. He believed it was a waste of time that could be spent doing so much more. However, there were always those that would challenge him and like any good warrior he was not about to turn that person down. But the thing was, he would never kill. He believed that the death of another warrior was simply the waste of a life. So he fought battle after battle and won each of them as he was always meant to. For you see the gods themselves told him that he was to fight when he was a mere teenager. But never would he deliver, never did a life end by his hand. However, time has a way of changing ideas that we hold so dear. Even the most ingrained beliefs change with passage of time. The words of those who have come before us are sometimes clouded by the thoughts and feelings we have today. Soon this warrior would face such a thing. For you see around the same time as he was fighting another battle, the gods saw something that troubled them. Another warrior, of equal strength and prowess as their chosen was spreading terror and destruction across all the lands and people they had helped create. So of course, when the battle he had been fighting was done the gods called upon their warrior to stop this enemy of all. The warrior listened to call and saw the devastation and death that his chosen opponent had left behind and for the first time in his life felt rage. This evil had ravaged the land, leaving nothing but death in its path.

            "Why, why would someone do this?" He asked the gods. The gods did not respond.

            "Why does this dark soul plague the world so?" Again he asked, again no answer. He decided that he would find the answers himself and stop this evil creature from kill even more innocent people. Along his journey he buried so many innocent souls as his rage and yes even hatred continued to build. However, in those thoughts of rage and hatred came other thoughts, thoughts of when he was just a boy and met the girl of his dreams. She was a girl of hair so red it burn brighter then fire. Her name was Sestranna and every time he spoken her name it was like song to his heart as was her words to him.  Her eyes were as dark as the night sky while she shinned brighter then the stars themselves. Her beauty rivaled that of a thousand sunsets. He thought that he had been given a gift from the gods; for in him, she found someone she could be with. The best of friends they were when they were children and as time passed their relationship grew and blossomed as all spring flowers must. Soon the two children who had been the best of friends had blossomed into teenagers and with age came love. They did everything together, they were inseparable. Well… almost. It was once said that it would take an act of the gods to break them apart… and it took just that. For when the warrior was nineteen the gods came before him and gave him his purpose. Not liking long goodbyes, he left his home, his family and the girl he loved… never to return. These thoughts flowed like a river through his mind, as did the happy thoughts of the time they had spent together. He now longed for those days as he cross the land, from one burnt out and barren village to another. Each of these villages reduced to nothing more the graveyards for the innocent people this devil of a warrior had destroyed. He knew that his journey was soon to end when he came upon children at the entrance of a village… maybe the last one in the world. He looked over them, they were still alive but it would not be long. He picked a little girl up and tried to make her comfortable. She looked up at him with fear and pain in her young eyes as her light slowly faded away. He put her down and clinched his fist… this would end here. Then he was startled to realize just where he was… he had come full circle. He had come home and the devil himself was here as well. He thought that it was fitting that this was the battle to end all battle would take place. He ran as fast as he could to reach the center of the village where the devil was. To his surprise however this warrior was not the devil… but a demoness, before him stood a woman. She wore crimson red armor that looked like it was once black but had been stained by the blood of thousands of innocent souls. Over her face she wore a mask that hid everything but strangely familiar eyes. He could see her hair… it was the same color as her armor… crimson red, she had been doing much killing to create a hair color like that. He wondered how a woman could do all this. However, this changed nothing in his mind. Woman or not she had killed so many and destroyed so much. It was time to do the duty he had prepared himself for for so long.

            "Stop! By the gods I order you stop! Face me warrior and stop this path of destruction." He screamed at his newest opponent. He draw his sword… the sword given to him by the gods, the blade that the gods themselves had forged in starlight. He knew he was about to do something he swore he would never do… he was going to kill with this blade. For her part the warrior just stood frozen.

            "That voice… could it be?" He heard ask.

            "What do you mean? What of my voice?" He asked as the rage built in his heart. She looked at him and removed her mask and what he saw underneath almost made his heart scream. For there, underneath all the blood and the pain of battle stood the woman he had fallen in love with so long ago. Then he saw it… the gleam he had seen in her eyes back then… but why he thought, why her?

            "Finally, I have you back." She stated gleefully as she ran to him. But before she could reach him he side stepped and stared at her.

            "Why… why have you done this?" He asked her. She just looked at him and wondered why he questioned at all.

            "For you, for us. When those arrogant, pompous assholes that have the audacity to call themselves gods took you away from me I tried to accept it. But you complete me… you are a part of me, you are the other half of my soul. I felt empty without you… and I decided that the only thing I could do was take revenge. I felt that if I had destroyed everything and everyone the gods worked so hard to create then you would no longer be needed and we could be together again… and here you are." She said as the light in her eyes shined. But to him it meant nothing… vision of that girl as well as many like her were still fresh in his mind. His grip on his sword tightened and with all the rage and hatred he had he thrust his blade through her heart and ripped a gash through her body as he pulled the blade out from her side. He looked at her as she hobbled away from him. At that moment the rage and hatred he had been keeping in his heart had dissolved. He finally saw what he had done and managed to catch her before she fell. He looked into her eyes, hoping against hope for the light to still be there but it was already dimming. She looked up at him and with the last few beats of cleaved heart she said her final words.

            "Thank… you for freeing… me." With these words her flame went out and as she fell off the mortal coil tears started flowing from his eyes as he realized just what he had done.  For the first time, he saw her from what she truly was, not the evil demon warrior that he had been sent to kill, not even the woman he had fallen in love with, no; what she was was an innocent girl lead astray by a far greater force. He cried for the gods to take him instead… that he would gladly give his life for what he had done. For in that moment he realized it was not her that had killed all these innocent souls… it was himself and the transgression he made by leaving her side. He screamed at the clouds which had become gray and dark to take him instead of her, that he should be the one punished for these crimes not her. Because not only had he killed so many but he had killed his own soul as well. He held the woman he loved in his arms as she laid dead by his hand, but the gods were still silent. He decided that he himself would have to do it. He laid her down on the ground and took his sword into his hands.

            "If you will not heed my cries then I shall do this myself. I will pay for the crimes that I have committed this…" And with that he ran his blade through his own heart and fell to his knees.

            Now, this would seem to be the end of the story… but at that moment, something miraculous happen. For you see at that moment the gods saw that the warrior truly believed in his words. In that moment, the blood that flowed from his heart onto his sword and onto the ground began restoring what once was lost. Everywhere where there was once only death the blood gave vibrant life to once more. Even the girl he had so loved and the kill by his own hand, even her flame was re-lit. And the gods, for their part knew they had to finish what their warrior started. For they knew that all this was their doing. By taking the warrior from the woman he loved, they themselves had sealed both of their fates. So with a breath of wind the gods returned the soul of their warrior to him. The two lovers look at each and at that moment made a pact. The warrior ripped the sword from his chest and thrust it into the ground. The blood that was left on the blade seeped into the ground and where the sword lay a tree sprang forth. This tree was taller and larger then any other tree in the world. It was so tall that reach above the clouds… nay, it reached to the gods themselves. And from that tree sprang the fruit of life. This tree of life would come to be known as the world tree and at it center to server as a reminder of just what formed that tree was the sword of damnation. The incarnation of rage and hatred that brought the world to the brink of death… but also brought it back to life. At the world tree's center stood the blade of the gods… the Sword Ragnarok.

            From that point forward the warrior never picked up a sword again. Though he and Sestranna lived alone for the rest of their lives, they needed no one else and were happy. Finally, on the day that the warrior's flame was to go out, the gods came to him once more. On that day so long before he had shown the gods something they did not possess. They asked him to join them. So on that day, the last day of a warrior whose name history and mythology has long since forgotten; a new star in the sky was born. And on that day a new god was ordained. This god was Clarion Starlight… the god of compassion and virtue.

            For on that day, so long before, this new god had shown the others what these two words were. By sacrificing himself to save a person who had done so much evil, he had shown that he cared more for those around him and that he was willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good of all.

What you have just read is a work fiction. Though the World Tree and Ragnarok are two terms within Norse mythos, this is by no means meant to be a story of truth. However, there are simple truths in the words I have written this day. We are by nature a societal creature. Look around you… how do you feel about people you don't know… about people you do… or even about people you love? Now of course, what the hero in this story did was kind of extreme but how many of us would be willing to do so? Would we be willing to sacrifice ourselves to serve the greater good of all… or do we care enough about the people we love to place ourselves under the executioner's axe in their place. The simple truths of this story are this, while sacrificing oneself is extreme… how much do we care for those around us? What would we do for those we love? Perhaps it is time we all take a look at who we love and just how much their love means to us. Furthermore, maybe we should also take the time to see the people around us as a whole and what they mean to us as well. A person who thinks with their brain is intelligent, a person who thinks with their heart is wise… think about it…