Valkyrie II: Darkness Rising

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Chapter Thirty-One

In the darkened confines of her little prison, she waited and listened to all that happened about her. The voices were still present, the loving and wise Navina, and her brother’s mate, Lithia. Surely, they would let nothing happen to her…
“She thinks it is this way.” Navina let out, her voice quivering as she led Lithia down a dark and murky tunnel.
She, as in the Host within her. To’llan, a name, that to this day could make Tisiphone tremble. Why, she had no clue, but she knew it had something to do with her mother; and the Host who had shared her body for a time. Marwolaeth, another name that sent her to shaking. Forbidden to speak, and yet quite often she’d found her mother enthralled in their stories. There was something about them, a thing that had left Malice on the verge of tears more than once, and Tisiphone was now more desperate than ever to figure out what it was; and whether those two names had helped or hindered her mother’s survival?
“Are you sure it is this way? I feel like we have been walking in circles for hours.” Lithia grumbled.
“Why not just snap your fingers and conjure us a map?” Navina shot back, a little worn for wear around the edges as she trampled about in the dark. “Or at least a torch!”
“My eyes are quite accustomed to the darkness, and it is your Host that is supposed to be leading the way.”
“She is, I think.” Navina sighed. “She is trying, okay. There are many memories to filter through, years of confusion and pain…” She stopped, leaning against a wall for support, then she began to sink to her knees. “Such pain…”
“Get up, Navina.” Lithia bellowed an order, and for a moment, it seemed as if it would see the female back on her feet; but she sank again.
“I must rest. Just a moment to clear my head.” Navina inhaled deep, trying to focus herself.
“Here, drink this.” Lithia sighed, handing her a small bottle. “It is only water, I assure you.” She added, rolling her eyes.
It was odd, being a part of their conversation, but unable to speak or be heard. Perhaps, this was what it was like for those who’d gone mute? She remembered a small male back home in the Null, they said the fear had stolen his voice…
“We must keep going. I dare not keep her in here too long.” Lithia’s voice arose again, and Tisiphone wondered what she meant by, in here. “We must find Malaness.”
“Malaness was destroyed.” To’llan spoke up, and Navina clutched at her head. “No one, not even he, could find it.” She whimpered and closed her eyes.
“Come on, Navina.” Lithia urged her to rise, slipping her hands under her arms to help.
The Host inside her was frightened, even Tisiphone could feel this; but how? Why did she know this? What was To’llan afraid of?

***

Both Mist and Sif chuckled as the drawbridge came down and the gates opened before them. It had been a pleasant evening with those who kept guard at the gates and Gil had learned much as he’d supped at their table. It was a great honor to guard the city of Misthaven, and it was out of respect that Mist and the others visited with them each time they passed through the village. ‘How can one expect so much from a people, and not show them the respect due in kind?’
Oh, Mist knew how to spin her words so that even the grimmest of stories could pass as fairytales; but he was already well aware of the respect due to those who served, in any position. They, who would lay down their lives to protect the innocent, and Gil couldn’t be prouder at what he’d found. Even now, as they passed through the massive steel doors of the city gates, he thought of them all, lurking in the trees as they’d done when he first laid eyes upon them, beyond the protection of these thick, stone walls. The first line of defense against an oncoming horde.
Duty and honor rang just as loud within the city, as it had in the veil; even the elegant architecture of the buildings stood as monuments to the finesse of the people they harbored. It was almost humbling to walk along the streets, faced with the sharp contrast of Dwarven-fortified walls and the graceful, Elven-design to the buildings within them. Superior, and yet serene, in compare to any other he’d seen; a city built to honor the warriors within, or perhaps the Gods themselves.
All of the habitable structures were made of a white, almost translucent, stone and he wondered if it perhaps, glowed under the moon’s light? Would be a sight to see, for sure. At the end of a long, winding, main street stood Caer Dahn, another spectacle he’d been told about during the endless nights he’d spent with his wives. Oh, if only he could spend more time here.
The main doors, made of bronze, shone brilliantly in the morning sunlight, and along the ways he found people bowing their heads as Mist passed them by. There were people waving out of windows and shouting her name along the second-floor balconies of many shops and homes; and she too waved back to all she could, never wavering from her pace.
His Valkyrie, his wife, a legend among her people and his heart soared to hear them welcome her home. From the main gates to a spritely little tavern a few blocks away, they greeted her with smiles and well wishes, not a soul with a frown to be found. The Misty Veil. An intriguing name, indeed.
“We will wait for the rest of them, here.” Mist announced as she led them all inside.
“What is this place?” Gil chuckled in amusement.
“You should ask your other wife, for this is where I found her.” Mist grinned as she took a seat at the table, ushering for the lot to follow.
“This, is not where we met…”
“I did not say meet, my love, I said found; and at least three nights a week.” Mist laughed, uncovering a plate of rolls before her. “I think she loves the attention.”
“Oh?” Gil teased. “What sort of attention?” He added, turning to Sif.
Sif, in turn, went crimson as she picked up a roll and threw it at him, hitting him in the forehead. He paused for a moment, wiping some form of whipped spread from his nose and glared back at her.
“I see.” He sighed, licking the spread from his finger, and the he broke out in laugher.
Sif narrowed her bright blue eyes, throwing another roll at him. “Oh, will you both stop it?” She tried not to smile, but they all knew Mist was right.
Sif was known to be a bit promiscuous, but then, weren’t all females? Even Gil knew this, and as he picked up a roll and took a small nibble, as he would have on her nipple, Sif simply shook her head and tried to hide the shudder. It was then Freya walked in with a band of others and the mood in the room took a bit of a turn, but that didn’t bother Gil as he launched the roll at Sif and lodged it in her cleavage, leaving the fluffy, whipped mixture of her chin.
She was crimson to the ears, and caused quite the chuckle in the background.
“Getting assaulted by dinner rolls again, I see.” Morant said to Gil as he was belted by a third roll; with Freya by his side.

“Uh-oh, mom’s here,” Gil told his wives, which caused even more laughter to break out, with a few of them wiping the tears from their eyes. Not one of them had expected Freya to grab the next roll. And she too, pelted Gil with it.
The crowd parted, and a young female approached. She was dressed in the old, Celtic style, right down to her toes. Fire-kissed hair and a sprinkling of golden freckles across the nose, with a small flute in her hands as carried on gracefully.
“Gil, this young lady is the first bardic student from Misthaven to be graduating tomorrow.” Mist smiled as she introduced the young female. “This is Morgan Sullivan. Soon to be a Court Bard. I would not be surprised if there are not five offers for her services already.” She paused, turning to Morgan. “Morgan, this is Gil and despite crumbs in his hair, he is a mighty fine warrior.”
“Your Servant, Milady.” Gil bowed his head and kissed her hand, his eyes narrowing to the tip of his nose, and the last remaining remnants of the whipped spread. “Sorry.” He chuckled, and backed away.
“You are the one of prophecy, you are the son of a Valkyrie?” She eyed him hard, as if at first, she could not believe her eyes and ears, but in the matter of a heartbeat her expression changed. “You must let me to go with you.”
Gil looked at his wives for their opinions as Morgan stood there, trembling like a leaf with that flute in her hand. He rose from his chair and offered it to Morgan, putting a glass of wine in front her. Mist looked concerned and Sif seemed as if she too were still assessing the situation. It would be dangerous, to say the least. They were about to snag Loki and go after Malice..
“Please, great lady! Please say I can help? I can fight, swing a sword, cast spells and decipher obscure languages.”
“These are trying times, dear Morgan, it would be very dangerous for you to follow us.” Sif piped in.
“Oh, but for a Bard to grasp an opportunity like this, one that comes only once in a lifetime? I want to be there when you find her. I want to write the true story of Malice and Mist, the firsthand account of your greatest quest yet.”
“You do know what you’re getting into?” Mist asked in the concerned voice.
Morgan lowered her head and thought that over for a short while, then looked back at Mist, nodding as she spoke. “Please, my lady, let me try.” She pleaded, and before Mist could speak Morgan’s own mother spoke up.
“We encourage our daughter to do what her heart desires. After tomorrow, she will be an adult, and we all knew when she started down this path that she would go far beyond the borders of Misthaven. We will worry a little, because that is what parents do, but Morgan is the eldest of my girls and she is more than ready.”
“If her own mother okay it, I say she can go.” Gil nodded, looking to his wives. “Mist, Sif, anyone else?”
“Aye!” Mist nodded her head, and looked to Sif.
“Aye!” She replied in kind.
“Be ready to leave in a few days, get your gear together, and wait for one of us to send for you.” Gil smiled at Morgan. “We have things to tend to in the main fortress, but we will not forget you.”
Tears of joy streamed down her face as she hugged everyone and sat back down. “Thank you!”
“Now, where did that Dwarf get to?” Gil chuckled as Morgan rose from her seat and made for the bar with her mother. “Let’s get inside of Caer Dahn I’ve been dying to see it.” Gil said as he got to his feet, and following Mistress Sullivan, he tried to pay her for breakfast.
She wouldn’t take his money. “Just bring my daughter back to me, Valkyrie. That, will be payment enough.”
Gil nodded as he put the pouch away and returned to Mist and Sif. “Any sign of him?”
Orin was by a cart of barrels, arguing with one of his helpers. “Orinald, can I speak with you a moment?” Gil called out as he exited the Misty Veil.
The Dwarf turned with a frown, only to see Gil, Mit and Sif, looking back at him with huge smiles. “Orin, you leaving without us?”
“I figured if you were meaning to take over the world, you would not need me to do it!” He chuckled back, but there was something else; and there it was. “Misthaven has its own forge, its own people to work it. If we are not making for Ghost Mountain right away, perhaps I should head that way and check on that back entrance of yours!”
“You think you’re not needed?” Gil let out.
“You have others for now, far-more skilled than I, and someone will have to ensure you have an escape route.” The Dwarf smiled.
“Then, you leave for Ghost Mountain, now?” Mist inquired.
“I do.” He smiled and bowed his head.
“Then let me offer you my thanks, for all you have done and all you will do.” Mist sighed and took his face in her hands, kissing him hard on the cheek. “Travel safe.” She smiled at the male and watched as he went back to arguing with his helpers.
Before Mist could summon for a horse, a young female approached, tugging on her cloak. When Mist looked down, a smile lit up on the child’s face and she handed her a single, white rose, before running off into the crowd. “Come, my love.” She said to Gil, taking him by the hand to the stables. “The tower awaits.”

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