The Valor of Odyn
The Deeds of Odyn Throughout the Ages
Odyn once said that every vrykul warrior has a story to tell. Some are acts of valor and self-sacrifice. Others are tales of strength and conquest.
I have made it my quest to seek out these stories and collect them, for I am not a warrior. But when I asked myself where to begin, I knew it had to be with Odyn. Even the greatest tale of vrykul excellence is eclipsed by his deeds. Walk the land and you will hear brave warriors recount his legends with awe. If we vrykul are to reach our true potential, it is surely by following in Odyn's path.
Take heed, then, of what follows. Many of these tales are from Odyn's own tongue, faithfully transcribed by the vrykul story-weavers who have come before me.
Great Odyn and the Firelord
Why does Odyn, warrior of iron and bronze, bear the brand of the Firelord on his chin? Old Brynjar will tell you! Every vrykul with a head still on their shoulders knows the story of mighty Odyn and the Firelord. But there is no tale that greater shows the keeper's unfailing strength, his undying courage, and his incredible honor than that of mighty Odyn's beard.
In an age before Odyn raised the vrykul to eternal glory, he and his fellow keeper, the valiant Tyr, waged war on the elemental lord Ragnaros. Together they ventured to the behemoth's charred domain to destroy him, cutting down his molten army like wheat before the scythe, and the Firelord ran in fear from the formidable champions. He thought to hide from the keepers in his lair, but wherever he fled, Odyn and Tyr followed, laying waste to Ragnaros's realm.
Inside the lair of the Firelord, an inferno roiled and raged, bolstering the elemental's might. "I am empowered!" cried proud Ragnaros. "Approach me, insects, if you dare!"
How arrogant the Firelord was. How foolish to challenge the keepers of Azeroth!
Odyn was too full of courage, too pure of heart, to be shaken by such hollow threats. The keeper struck at the Firelord with the strength of a thousand vrykul, raining down upon Ragnaros with piercing spears of light while Tyr lashed out with his silver hammer, and soon the pitiful Firelord was on the verge of defeat.
"Clearly Ragnaros is no match for our strength, brother," said Tyr. "I hope you will not be dismayed when I land the final blow."
Odyn laughed. "Ha! I would sooner fall to the Firelord!"
And with that, the two great warriors set upon Ragnaros, each wishing to best the other. After hearing their wager, the pathetic Firelord called down smoke as black as night to surround his weakened form. Neither keeper could find their foe until Tyr, wielding his shining hammer like a torch, cut through the darkness and struck Ragnaros to the core. Yet before he could fell the Firelord, fresh gouts of flame erupted from Ragnaros's maw, driving Tyr back.
Our great Odyn was not so easily defeated. "Let the Firelord strike me!" Odyn said. "I am the chosen of Aman'Thul! None, not even this supposed lord, can best my might." Thus Odyn ran at Ragnaros, engulfing himself in the inferno and smiting the Firelord with a single blow.
Even as he fell, Ragnaros's flame washed over Odyn and set the keeper's face ablaze with the fury of the Firelord. Again mighty Odyn laughed, shaking the very heart of the world with his mirth. Where once his beard had been, there now raged a sea of molten rock and fire!
"Brother," Tyr cried, "forget our wager! You have been scarred by the Firelord! How shall we ever heal your wounds?"
"You only say such things because I have bested you, Tyr. Leave it be!" Odyn declared. "Now all will know that I have defeated the Firelord, for his might is no match for my own!"
-Recorded by Old Brynjar
The Wanderer and the Serpent
Long after the Shadow, long before the Breaking, Odyn sat as Prime Designate of all things. Keepers and titan-forged alike obeyed his fair and just rule, for there was none greater than he. Odyn often walked the world to watch over his servants. He did so disguised as one of them, wanting to see how they truly lived. "The respect a warrior shows a stranger reveals the true measure of his valor," Odyn once said.
Sometimes he took the form of an earthen. Sometimes, a giant or a vrykul. No matter what he appeared as, he always had a raven perched on each shoulder. He could peer through the birds' eyes and see the good in someone's heart. He could listen through their ears and hear when someone was spinning lies.
Many titan-forged he met on his sojourns, and just as many he judged to be noble. Yet above all others, he found himself drawn to the vrykul.
In the form of a vrykul, Odyn sparred with their warriors, sang with their story-weavers, and shaped metal with their smiths. "These vrykul are like me," he said. "Warriors, courageous and unyielding."
It was during this time when the ice-blue serpent Ysildar slithered up from the black pits of the earth and hunted the vrykul. So terrible was this beast that when it stretched to its full length, its tail disappeared over the horizon. It could devour a dozen vrykul at once, crushing their metal bodies with its obsidian fangs. Some say Ysildar was one of Keeper Freya's animal followers, gone mad with rage. Others say it was a thing far more ancient and unspeakable, a nightmare born in the era of Shadow.
Odyn feared for the vrykul. He was prepared to cast off his disguise and battle the beast himself, but he found he had no need to. The vrykul fought as one. They pried back Ysildar's iron-like scales and stabbed at its flesh. They took out its eyes and blunted its fangs.
"How mighty were the vrykul," Odyn said of that day. "How fearless were their hearts."
Yet Ysildar was no ordinary monster, and even the vrykul could not vanquish it for good. So Odyn hurried to the tip of the serpent's tail. No vrykul had traveled so far. Alone, Odyn took on his true form, seized Ysildar's tail, and with a mighty swing, hurled the beast skyward. The serpent flew so high that it passed across the sun and made day into night. It sailed over mountains and rivers, over forests and swamps. Some days later, it landed in the sea and sank into the cold depths.
Ysildar was never seen again.
-Recorded by Kormyr Sylfverhan
Halls of Gold and Glory
Two vrykul warriors once argued over how the Halls of Valor came to be. One of them believed the stronghold had been carved by the hands of the first vrykul who ever walked the world. The other claimed that the halls had existed before that, since the time Azeroth was born.
Their bickering went on and on until another vrykul descended on the wings of a storm drake to settle the dispute. Not with violence, but with words. His voice carried the weight of a mountain, and he calmed the angry vrykul and set them straight with this story:
"You are both mistaken about the Halls of Valor. Listen well, and I will tell you the right of it. The halls arose before the Breaking, when the titan-forged had grown weak and indifferent. They were tired from the war against the Shadow and from the rebuilding of this world. Who can blame them for wanting a bit of rest?
"The other keepers, all except Odyn, had lost faith in themselves. You see, they believed they could no longer protect the world on their own, and so they decided to anoint the proto-dragons as guardians instead. They would give those beasts godlike power and trust that they would use it wisely.
"Fools! How could they trust such things? The proto-dragons carried the blood of elementals, those mindless creatures that had served evil in the time of Shadow. No matter how noble the proto-dragons seemed, were their hearts not tainted with darkness? Odyn believed it to be so. 'Trust in these winged beasts,' he said to the other keepers, 'and a day will come when they will abandon their sacred duty! But empower the vrykul as protectors instead, and you will witness true valor and strength.'
"And what did the other keepers say to that? Not a word worth repeating. They ignored Odyn's wisdom, and they granted power to those blasted proto-dragons. The creatures grew in size and strength that day. They became the Dragon Aspects, and their children became known as dragons.
"Yes, Odyn was hurt, but he was not resentful. Pay no heed to stories that claim otherwise. He simply feared for the world's future and for the safety of its creatures.
"There was another who shared this fear, of course, the sorceress called Helya. She stood by Odyn's side when all others turned their backs on him. A true ally, that one. Odyn and Helya decided to empower the vrykul on their own and create an army to guard the world when the primitive dragons failed.
"The other keepers hissed and stamped their feet in protest. Ha! Surely they were jealous they had not thought of Odyn's plan first. Three times he extended the hand of peace and gave them a chance to help. Three times the other keepers turned him down, too proud to accept his gracious offer.
"Odyn and Helya soon began their work. They chose a wing of the great fortress of Ulduar, and they asked the earth giants to reshape its halls and cover it in gold. So was made the Halls of Valor, a place where the keeper and the sorceress could bring their vrykul warriors.
"When the giants finished their labors, Helya sang a spell to make the place as light as a cloud. The halls rose into the sky and drifted through the heavens, Odyn and the sorceress watching from the walls."
With the tale told, the strange vrykul took wing on his storm drake and flew into the skies. The feuding warriors ended their fight, for they could feel in their bones that the stranger had spoken truth.
-Recorded by Yrvar Isilmar
The Keeper's Eye
There are more stories about Odyn's lost eye than there are stars in the sky. Some say the great serpent Ysildar tore it out. Others say the treacherous Helya stole it. But this is the end of it, the truth of it, from the keeper himself.
The Halls of Valor stood glorious above the world, and great Odyn saw they were empty. "These halls shall be the final resting place of my finest warriors," he said. "I must see the world of death, for only then can I raise the spirits of the fiercest, bravest vrykul to their proper place in the heavens. They shall be called Valarjar, and they shall honor these halls for eons to come."
Helya the sorceress was doubtful of the keeper's plan. "Beings of death are ancient and powerful, great Odyn," she said. "To meddle in their realm is dangerous, even for one such as you." But Odyn would not be swayed, and so they began a ritual to see into the Shadowlands.
Deep within the Halls of Valor, Helya traced a magic circle around Odyn with the arcane threads of the universe. From the world's energies she pulled strands of light of the purest green, and strands of darkness deeper than the purest shadow. And the sorceress wove them together around Odyn until the veil over the Shadowlands began to lift.
A great spirit appeared to Odyn from this circle, billowing up from ethereal mists, shapeless, to surround the keeper in shadow. "What will you give," the spirit asked, "to peer beyond the veil of this world?"
Wise Odyn considered the wraith's question. "I have two eyes," he replied. "One to see in this world of mortals, and one to see into the realm of spirits." And with that, Odyn plucked his own eye from his head and presented it to the spirit. The spirit clasped his eye and swallowed it whole, and great Odyn saw.
Seeing through this given eye, great Odyn saw the Shadowlands. He saw life, saw it even in the land of death, and he was satisfied that his Valarjar would live beyond the mortal realm.
And yet still he saw death. He saw souls in torment, and souls in anguish, and the husks of the dead lay all around him. He saw ghostly wraiths with no face, and others with no form, and all were made of death itself. And as he saw, even the great Odyn, master of the Halls of Valor, chosen of Aman'Thul, was afraid.
Odyn looked back into his world with his other eye.
"What did you see, great Odyn?" Helya asked.
"I saw the answer," wise Odyn said. "For in life, there exists death, and in death, there can be life. But there are only beings of life and beings of death. My messengers must span both realms."
And so great Odyn conceived the Val'kyr, beings between life and death who would ferry the vrykul to the Halls of Valor. "They will be formed from the vrykul," Odyn proclaimed, "and their bravery shall preserve their brethren as Valarjar for all time. Like life, they shall be powerful. Like death, they shall be eternal."
-Recorded by Rysa Hjafmir
First of the Val'kyr
How did the first Val'kyr come to be? Take care not to ask this of Odyn unless you seek his wrath. Only once has the keeper answered this question, and the skies turned black and the seas churned and frothed under the weight of his words.
Not long after the sorceress Helya lifted the Halls of Valor into the heavens, Odyn decided how he would bring the souls of worthy vrykul warriors to his domain. He would call on living vrykul to help him. These servants would sacrifice their mortal lives to become something greater, creatures called Val'kyr, who would walk between life and death to guide the souls to the halls.
Well, Helya was not keen on this idea. The thought of transforming living vrykul into such beings was too much for her to bear. She demanded that Odyn reconsider his plans. If he did not, Helya threatened to bring the Halls of Valor crashing to the ground in fire and brimstone.
Where had such ire come from? Not even Odyn was sure, but he had his theories. Perhaps Helya was jealous he had not asked her to become the first Val'kyr. Or perhaps something truly dark and sinister had taken root in her heart. After all, Helya had studied the Shadowlands and their powers. Had an unknown force from that cursed realm reached out and poisoned her mind?
Odyn pleaded with Helya to change her mind, but she only slipped deeper into rage. She howled a song-spell to cast the halls from the sky, and the keeper had little choice but to take action against her.
Oh, what a terrible battle it was that followed. You might be wondering how any creature could stand against great Odyn. Well, Helya was a force of reckoning. It was not Odyn who defeated the sorceress, but her own arrogance. So desperate to win was Helya that she reached into the Shadowlands to grasp that domain's power for herself. And in return, she was sucked into that dread realm. She would have been lost forever had Odyn not put his own life at risk and pulled her to safety.
When he brought her back to the realm of the living, he was stunned by what he saw, by what had become of dear Helya. Her body had crumbled away, and all that remained was a twisted wraith. Odyn was heartbroken. He could not send her back to the Shadowlands to dwell in eternal torment, nor could he let her roam free on the physical world and terrorize mortal-kind.
The answer to this problem came from Helya herself. Her journey into the Shadowlands had humbled her. She apologized to Odyn for what she had done, and she pleaded with him to make her into a Val'kyr. It was through service to the Halls of Valor that she sought redemption.
Though his heart was heavy, Odyn granted Helya's wish. And so was born the first of the Val'kyr.
Now, there are many tales out there that claim Odyn forced Helya to become Val'kyr against her will. Only a fool would believe such things. This story comes from Odyn himself, and how could anyone hold another's word above his?
-Recorded by Kormyr Sylfverhan
The Sealing of the Halls of Valor
It is told, in the small hours of vrykul nights, how the mighty keeper Odyn came to be imprisoned within the Halls of Valor-the very halls he himself had shaped. Most claim that he was betrayed by the first Val'kyr, the sorceress Helya, and they are correct. (May she burn for her treachery!) But few are aware of the dark truth behind her foul misdeed. Let it be told now.
In penance for her earlier rebellion against Odyn, Helya became the first Val'kyr, and she spent millennia bringing the souls of heroic vrykul to the Halls of Valor, where the keeper trained them and turned them into Valarjar-warriors of the storm. His followers filled Odyn with pride, for they were the finest fighters Azeroth had ever known, and they protected the world ferociously.
Helya served Odyn well and faithfully, regaining his trust and confidence...
But the serpent-tongued manipulator Loken, hungering to ascend to primacy and rule over all other keepers-in fact, to rule over all the world-knew that to succeed, he would have to eliminate Odyn and his Valarjar. And so he came to Odyn's most trusted servant, Helya, and played on her mind, planting suspicion and discontent with her position, convincing her that Odyn had used her to perpetuate his own power and glory.
Then Loken the trickster played his master stroke, proposing a bargain: if Helya would do as he asked, he would restore her free will. ("For why else would you be Odyn's slave unless he had tricked you into believing that you obeyed him of your own accord?") Helya was stunned, for she had thought she was serving Odyn willingly. But Loken convinced her that in fact Odyn had secretly bound her to serve his will. Now the furnace of her rage was stoked, and Helya agreed to seal off the Halls of Valor from the rest of Azeroth forever in revenge.
And Loken smiled when he saw how readily Helya rose to his suggestion that once Odyn and his followers were trapped, she could assume the mighty keeper's position as the caretaker of all vrykul spirits!
Thusly Loken beguiled the sorceress to leave the protection of Odyn's wisdom-for what other possible reason could Helya have so callously betrayed Odyn? When her master least expected it, she called upon all her arcane might and bent the cataclysmic energies swirling around Azeroth to her will, sealing off the Halls of Valor and all who dwelt within!
Loken was now free to work his wiles on the rest of the keepers. And as for Helya, having escaped her servitude, she took command of the other Val'kyr. But unable to abide the sight of the golden halls, for they reminded her always of her treachery, she created a new home far below, bound to Azeroth's oceans, which became known as Helheim.
-Recorded by Halsvir Fjinnsonn