Session in Progress
"How is the Ambien working out for you?" I ask Svendal Krieg, formerly Svendal the Bloody Axed of the Tribes of the North.
"My dreams are really vivid, but I have been able to get to sleep," he shrugs. "Sleep is the least of my problems. You know that."
"Sleep plays a very important part in your ability to cope with stress."
"I guess," Svendal toys absently with a geegaw on my desk.
"What's bothering you?"
"My father," Svendal sighs and leans back in the chair. "You know how he died in the throes of the red rage during the battle with the bog men. When he was dying from a thousand mortal wounds he made me promise to be the best berserker the tribe has ever known."
"You don't feel you can be that berserker?"
"Well, it's a lot of pressure. I was reading the Great Hides of Times Half-Forgot and there were some really amazing berserkers."
"I'm sure your father knows you're trying to berserk as best you can."
"That's just it, Doc," his face contorts with pain as if he is about to cry again. "I don't want to be a berserker. I don't want to be the best berserker and I don't want to be the worst berserker. It's not in my blood."
"What do you want to be?"
"I...," his eyes glisten with tears and his lips pull back from teeth that he has filed into points. "I feel the call of something else. From across the frozen heath."
He is wracked with sobbing.
"Take your time," I say and slide the box of tissues to him.
"I hear it on my furs at night. I hear it in the trackless waste of Gormaak. I hear it calling to me even in my dreams."
"This call, what is it saying to you?"
"It tells me go, leave the tribe on a quest. Find a decent community college. Get my CPA and find a job."
"And you think by pursuing this instead of becoming a berserker you'll be letting your father down?"
"Yes," he manages through another bout of crying.
"Have you ever heard of Morton's Everlasting Joy?"
He wipes snot from his nose.
I take out my prescription pad.
"It's a potion made from hag skin and kitten ashes. I think it will really help you equalize and give you the room you need to make it through this and find yourself."
"No more berserking?"
"Steer clear of berserking," I say gently and hand him the prescription. "Let's focus on your goals and move forward on those."
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