Valkyrie II: Darkness Rising

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Chapter Thirty-Four

‘And to think, we used to believe your mother was the one with the voracious appetite.’ The Host laughed, as if trying to hide something in her voice.
Tisiphone wasn’t exactly in the best of shape, her body overheating and the sweat covering her like a veil of shimmering stars. Even inside the bubble, she was subject to the effects of her need, the growing intensity of the hunger damn near driving her mad. It didn’t help that she has resorted to the story to ease those needs and focus on something other than the craving she so desperately wanted to satiate; but as of late it would seem, even her Uncle, was in the mood to play.
‘How many partners can one Valkyrie have?’ Tisiphone groaned, closing her eyes to the story for a time.
‘Your mother had many, and she loved each and every one of them.’ Marwolaeth sighed, her mind wandering back to a time when she too was lost in the erotic embrace of another.
‘And how many lovers have you had?’
‘Enough to last a life time, but it was nothing, compared to the moments we shared with your mother. Our only wish is to remember more.’
Tisiphone had to stop and think. This was the female who was said to have controlled Malice. Marwolaeth, the darkness within. Well, right about now she seemed just as confusing and off her rocker as Nan. Was this some sort of requirement to getting old?
‘Was that a question you needed answering?’
‘Are you, always going to be there now? Like, in my head? Talking to me?’
Tisiphone cocked her head to one side, though it did nothing to sway the fog in her mind. ‘What do you even look like?’
‘At one time, we looked very much like you do now, but my hair was honeyed-brown. We were a warrior, as your mother was, which is why we bonded so well…’
Tisiphone inquired, sensing a disturbance nearby.
‘Someone is looking for you. A male.’
‘How do you know this?’
‘We can hear him calling your name, among others.’
Marwolaeth groaned, relishing in this sound only she could hear. ‘Do you have a lover? Could this be him searching for you now?’
‘I have no lovers.’
It was the bitter truth, she’d had no time for such things.
Sure, she had watched others in the guild, practiced a few of their techniques on unsuspecting fools, but a lover? Someone who would return again and again, only for her? No, she didn’t have one of those; and it sucked.
‘His scent is strong.’
‘Hopefully it’s not the only thing strong about him. We may finally get out of this place.’
Tisiphone let out with high hopes.
She had no idea when, or where, this little ride in a bubble was going to end, but she knew it had to be soon. If they didn’t let her out and offer her a male, she was going to burst; and an image of her time in the holo-pod passed through her mind.
‘Oh, now you see, that was a lov…’
She stopped short, as Tisiphone remembered just how that had ended. ‘Alright, we will admit that there are some males out there who have the most, agreeable, skills. You would never know it with the experience you endured, but most take a liking to the slow and provocative art of sensuality. They would never admit it, but we have known a few who…’
‘Can we not go there?’
Tisiphone whimpered, the ache between her legs almost unbearable.
‘We have been bonded to a virgin.’
‘I, am not a virgin.’
Tisiphone shot back.
‘Oh, but you are, according to our standards. You have yet to go out and explore what is out there.’
‘I can’t.’
‘Yes, yes, your mother may be missing.’
‘I thought you would be more helpful in the matter, being that she was your Hosted.’
‘She is our Hosted, though our link is not as strong as it once was, we can feel her heart beating. We know she is alive.’
Marwolaeth sighed and the fog in Tisiphone’s mind swirled about.
‘Where is she? Can you lead me to her?’
‘That, we cannot do. It is more of a feeling, like we can feel ourselves, inside her. Please, do not ask us to explain it, we are not a master of these things.’
Marwolaeth shuddered. ‘We just, feel them.’
‘I won’t pretend to know what you’re talking about, but if you know anything about my mother, or her whereabouts, I need you to remember.’
Tisiphone pleaded with the Host, a being that never should have been in her head, in the first place.
But wait, what if she wasn’t even here? What if Tisiphone had hit her head and was lying on some dungeon floor, bleeding to…
‘You are absolutely her daughter.’ Marwolaeth laughed.
‘What does that mean?’
‘Malice had a habit of seeing the worst in people, it took a lot to gain her approval; but once you did, she regarded closer than kin.’
‘Is that how it was between you all and the Shak’Morikai?’
Tisiphone let out, wanting more than ever to find them.
She needed their help.
‘Now, where did you hear that name from?’
‘They were your warriors, were they not?’
Tisiphone pressed on. ‘They fought, for you.’
‘Yes, they did; but that was a very long time ago. I cannot even recall where they all are now.’
Marwolaeth laughed. ‘It has been so long since the change, there are days when we forget who we are.’
‘She never forgot you.’
Tisiphone smiled. ‘My mother loved you.’
‘And we loved her, but when there are things more important than love, one must make sacrifices. we, chose to give up that bond, so that she could return to her own people.’
‘But you never truly left…’
Came her voice again and Marwolaeth shuddered once more, sending those tingles rippling through Tisiphone’s body.
‘No, we did not, and now we find ourselves inside the young of our Hosted. How can that be, our beloved?’
‘Our kind are a mystery to all, save the one we travel with. We think…’
To’llan stopped, her voice but a whisper. ‘We think she may have been one of the first.’
‘What is a first?’
Tisiphone couldn’t help herself.
‘The first of all Eno’tai, she may even be the last of the guardians.’ To’llan tried to explain, but it was way over Tisiphone’s head and her mind was all sorts of fucked up.
‘Lithia, is Eno’tai?’ Tisiphone gasped, unable to comprehend the words she’d just heard.
That was impossible. Khor’s Lithia, kin to the enemy? A guardian, even?
‘Enough of the guardians, what about you? How fairs your new Hosted?’ Marwolaeth changed the subject and Tisiphone had a feeling she wasn’t about to tell her why.
‘She struggles to maintain control over her emotions. She is strong, but we fear she may lose herself if we are not careful. She wishes to know the truth as badly as we do, but there are things that not even we can remember.’ To’llan replied. ‘It will take time to sort it all out, and for now Lithia watches over her, as do we.’
‘That, is what we are afraid of.’
Marwolaeth hissed. ‘If she is, who we think she is…’
‘Lithia is not like that, and if you have been inside my head for as long as I think you have, you would know that.’
Tisiphone cut in again. ‘She is not the enemy.’
‘No, her kin are.’
Marwolaeth replied and the fog disappeared, giving way to a throne room masked in shadows and covered in dry blood. ‘She was to watch over them, guide them, and she failed. She has spent most of her life hiding from those who hunted her.’ Marwolaeth’s voice was shaky and full of sorrow. ‘She may not be in league with the enemy, but instead of fighting back when they rose up, she fled, leaving the rest of us to deal with the chaos that ensued.’
‘How do you know this?’
‘We do not know, the information is just, there.’
Marwolaeth grumbled and the vision of the throne room disappeared. ‘Our mental inventory is a whirlwind of information; the key is locating said information when the time is needed. Some times, that can be rather difficult.’
‘Our dark lord was always…’
To’llan started, but the hiss from Marwolaeth had set the mood inside the bubble from naturally confused and yet rather mellow, to full-blown madness, in a matter of seconds.
‘He is not, our dark lord. Not anymore, and we would beg you to remember that.’
‘Then what shall we call him? Destroyer of Worlds? Keeper of Secrets? Master of Games?’
To’llan growled back. ‘He was, our dark lord, Marwolaeth.’
‘Was, being the key word, and he stopped being our lord the day he killed all, on Malaness….’
She stopped short and the silence filled the room.
‘We are not alone.’ To’llan whispered and Tisiphone’s heart dropped as Marwolaeth’s sensing lit up off the charts.
‘It is her need. They are drawn to it.’ Marwolaeth growled. ‘Even from within this bubble, her scent escapes. You must do what you can to waken Navina, they must keep moving.’
‘Why? What is going on?’
Tisiphone shot out.
‘We are being hunted, and we fear it is not the male we spoke of before.’ To’llan tried to explain though her words sounded distant, scattered.
‘You must go, rouse the female and get them moving.’ Marwolaeth barked her orders and To’llan disappeared from Tisiphone’s mind.
‘What do we do?’
‘There is nothing we can do, not from inside the orb. To’llan must convince Lithia to let us out.’
Marwolaeth growled.
‘Can she do it?’
’Only is she can wake her Hosted. Without Navina, there is no chance. We are only as strong as our Hosted allows us to be, Tisiphone…
’Again, she stopped short, but it was heartache mixed with confusion that consumed her now.
‘What is it?’
‘That name. Every time we hear it, we are drawn back to a time before time itself began, and it is from there, that we draw the knowledge of Lithia. We wish to remember more, but the thoughts are scattered, the images and voices obscured. It is a challenge, determining which is which, but we have managed, so far.’
‘I can’t image what it would be like to live a life so full, and not be able to remember any of it.’
Tisiphone let out with a sigh. ‘All those years of love and adventure, lost.’
‘Not lost, hidden, by he used to control us. He played with our minds, tried to set us against one another, and why, we have no clue. That was how he wanted it, how they wanted it.’
‘He too, carried a Host inside him, one that was supposed to guide and nurture the heir to the throne, instead, he tortured them, betrayed them, used and abused them in every way he could. They are broken now, as are we. He took from us all, that which would keep us warm on cold winters nights and see us to safety in a storm. He wanted us to forget all we had ever known, and ever would know about his vile and nasty deeds, so he could benefit from our servitude, forever.’
‘And he is now dead, right? My mother killed him, right?’
‘Now that, we do remember.’
Marwolaeth laughed. ‘And we are ever grateful for that memory.’
‘All this talk of losing memories, and here I am, just trying to figure it all out for the first time. It seems rather impossible now.’
Tisiphone sighed and lay back against the wall of her bright bubble, with no one to talk to but the Host inside her.
‘And why is that?’
‘There was a time, that I thought my mother had kept things from me on purpose, that there was a chance she would one day show up in my room and explain it all. But now, as I listen to you and To’llan talk, I realize, she couldn’t tell me all those things, because she herself, did not know. That day I waited for, it won’t come.’
‘And that is why you turned to the mirror?’
‘I had to know the truth, and I figured, the mirror was my best bet. I had watched Nan look into that thing for hours, trying to decipher what she’d seen in the hours that followed. It seemed logical that the mirror would also show me the things I wanted to see….’
‘It showed me nothing of my mother, or any of her kin. I am stuck watching the side stories of my Uncle Gil…’
‘The Son of the Valkyries!’
Marwolaeth chuckled. ‘Your mother hated him something fierce. He made such a mess of our plans.’
‘What happened back then? What happened to my mother?’
‘We, do not know.’
‘You’re lying.’
‘No, we simply, cannot remember. Those memories, like many others, are hidden from us.’
‘Selective memory loss, that’s convenient.’
Tisiphone snapped back.
‘Listen here, daughter of Malice, if we could remember all that had happened, believe us when we say, the Verse would be a whole lot different than what it is now. Pathen never would have lived long enough to try and separate us from our beloved, nor would he have had the chance to corrupt so many in his wake.’ Marwolaeth growled and the unrest set over Tisiphone. ‘To’llan has asked that we help you uncover the rest of the truth, and we cannot do that if we are to keeping arguing with one another. The fade is not a place you would wish to lose yourself.’
‘Navina spoke of the fade…’
‘It is a place in which the past, present and future, are all one. Navigating such an expanse can be difficult. Many have gotten lost in the tales of old.’
‘The fog within the mirror?’
‘And the fog within your mind, they are one in the same. Someone, has already begun to teach you the fundamentals of creating the link needed for such things, but they have yet to explain in great detail, all of that which could come from such an endeavor. The fade must only ever be viewed, never tampered with. To do so, could cause devastating effects throughout the timeline.’
‘The Order?’
‘Was but one faction entrusted to guard the realms of time.’
‘You see, you can remember all of this, but not what happened inside Ghost Mountain before the attack on Misthaven?’
Tisiphone let out with a chuckle. ‘I find that funny, and very, selective.’
‘We find it frustrating, and at times, unbearable.’
Marwolaeth growled, but something else had gotten her attention.
‘She will not wake.’ To’llan returned, her voice filled with fear. ‘Not even Lithia can get her to stir.’
‘Keep trying.’
Marwolaeth told her. ‘We need out of this thing…’
‘No, you must focus on helping her remember.’
To’llan replied. ‘Watch the story with her…’
‘We will not leave you again.’
Marwolaeth shouted, but To’llan had already vanished from Tisiphone’s mind. ‘Bloody hell!’ She snarled. ‘Show us this story, so that we may unlock the secrets within.’ She added with a growl and settled down in the darkened corners of Tisiphone’s thoughts.
It was clear the Host was not impressed, but there was nothing else for them to do, but sit inside that little orb and wait. Lithia would have to release them at some point, and the sooner, the better. Tisiphone was dying to piece it all together.

A Look Ahead…

“What do you mean, you found them?” The voice was filled with skepticism and Loki stood by quietly as Hippolyte approached the dais of the grand council.
“I have found them, my lady.”
“Found, who?” The female rose from her seat behind the massive table, passing by all those who had joined this rather, intrusive meeting. “You have been gone from here for days, no word, no nothing…”
“I am sorry, my lady, but I had to be sure.” Hippolyte bowed her head and turned towards the door, nodding to the guards to open the door.
“The mystery surrounding you in unnerving, Hippolyte. Where, did you go and who are these people you have brought back with you?”
“My name, dear lady, is…”
“Oh, I know exactly who you are.” She held up her hand.
“Then you know, I helped Malice escape the darkness?’
“And in doing so, condemned her Host to eternal suffering. Yes, I am aware that it was you, Loki, who murdered our commander.” Her eyes began to glow as she drew closer, the long white hair floating about her as if it disobeyed gravity itself.
“I didn’t murder anyone!”
“Gee, Loki, seems you have enemies, everywhere.” Khor growled, taking his female by the hand and giving it a squeeze to assure her that everything was alright.
“And you are?”
“My name is Khor, my lady, and before you lies my sister.” He managed to choke out, giving Lithia’s hand another squeeze.
“Your female, what is her name?”
“I am Lithia, my lady.” She replied.
’And what means do you have for being here?” The female asked as she examined Lithia close.
“I wish to help my friends.” Lithia hung her head and looked to Tisiphone and Navina. “This is all my fault.”
“How so?”
“I tried to get her here as fast as I could, but I…” Lithia stopped, shaking her head as the tears fell down her cheeks. “She remained in the orb for far too long and now, neither will awaken.”
“Why, did you bring them here?” The female turned in disgust, eyeing Hippolyte hard. “Do you know what you have done?”
“Pi’lara, please?” Hippolyte shot back. “Do you not know who this is?”
“I see two females, one of which, who reminds me of an old friend, but I seen no reason to let that be the only element deciding on whether to let you go free, or lock you all away.”
“That, is Marena’s sister, Navina, and within her, lies the broken Host, To’llan.” Loki stood forward. “She took her on after Marena lost her senses.”
“She, hold To’llan?” The female eyed him up and down.
“And that one, is the daughter of Malice.”
Now if that wasn’t enough to make the bitch’s eyes pop, Loki didn’t know what would; and what do you know, Miss. You Can’t Be Here, returned to the table and began to converse with the others. “What, you don’t recognize her?”
“It has been two thousand years since last we saw Malice, and you walk in here, expecting us to bow to this female because she bears her blood?” Another entered the hall, looking identical to Pi’lara, save for the scar across her right cheek.
She was dressed in black leather and held a mighty fine sword at her side, snarling at Loki as she circled the new comers. It was enough to silence them all, her demeanor shouting her rank for all to see; nonetheless, he knew who she was.
“Wa’linh, it had been many years.” Loki bowed his head, showing her the respect she deserved.
In turn, the female did not kill him and he figured that was a sign they could talk. “I bring you, Tisiphone, daughter of Malice.”
“Tisiphone?” Another gasped, and the whispers began again.
“T’syphony? Could it be?” Came another.
“Her name is Tisiphone, a name given to her by her mother, and my father.” Khor called out, getting their attention. “And right now, she needs some help.”
Another female emerged from the shadows, and then another. Before Loki knew it, he was surrounded by females, all with hair of white, and all examining the small stretchers that carried both Navina and Tisiphone. Their hands danced over their bodies, their whispers melding into one loud jumble of garbled nonsense as they took to their own tongue.
It took a while before the first of them lifted their heads and turned towards Loki, and as she moved towards him, the gown brushed across such silken thighs…
“You like what you see?” She grinned at him, her eyes like diamonds, glimmering in the light before him.
“You must be Lo’rel? I have heard much about you!” He smiled back, taking her hand in his and he laid a kiss upon her dainty fingers. “The most lethal and intoxicating of them all.”
“Oh, you do know me!” She laughed, bowing her head, but when he looked up, he could see the others, her sisters, gathering around Tisiphone.
“Everyone knows you!” Pi’lara grumbled.
“Can you help my sister?” Khor inquired, rolling his eyes at Loki.
“We will do all that we can, but I must warn you, she is deep in the fade. It will be difficult to coax her out of her slumber.” Lo’rel replied, though she did not take her eyes off of Loki.
“Did you really help Marena switch the keystone from around Malice’s neck?” She asked him, her eyes sparkling like the stars in the skies.
“Is it true, you helped Marena free the Gods, sending them all, even Malice, back to their people?” He returned with a question of his own.
“Pathen was rather upset about that one!” Wa’linh chuckled, coming to stand next to her sister.
It was now, that Markhon had conjured the courage to speak, but what fell from his mouth made absolutely no sense at all. “Hey, buddy, what language was that?” Loki teased.
“What I mean to say is, I didn’t think a day would come when I would finally meet you.” He mumbled through his speech, as he had done with each great legend of history he’d met.
“Thank you.” Lo’rel smiled, but Markhon shook his head.
“Not you, though you are lovely, your beauty is nothing compared to the knowledge inside her graceful head.” Markhon sighed, almost enchanted in his gaze.
“Wait, what?” Loki blurted out, following Markhon’s line of sight to the last of the sisters, who still loomed over Tisiphone’s slumbering body.
“Of course, En’vala would interest you.” Khor grinned, having read about her constant need to read, in the scrolls of old.
“Look, En’vala, you have an admirer.” Lo’rel teased her sister, but En’vala kept her eyes on Tisiphone. “Oh, come now, I said you have a visior…”
Again, En’vala ignored her, and at first, Lo’rel shook her head and rubbed at her eyes. “You will have to excuse her, she…” She stopped short as Markhon brushed past her and took up a position across from En’vala, watching her hands work across Tisiphone’s belly.
“That, would be my cousin, and he too is well on his way to owning an entire library.” Khor laughed. “Don’t worry, he won’t hurt her.”
“It is not him I am worried about.” Wa’linh turned to her sister, as did they all. “What is it, En’vala?”
“She sleeps, like they say, but there is something else. It is like, she dreams, but the story is not her own.” En’vala called back.
“She was lost in her need when I encased her in the orb, I thought it best to keep her concealed as we made for Ghost Mountain.” Lithia hung her head again, “I had no idea she would lose herself to the visions.”
“What visions?” Pi’lara inquired, crossing her arms over her chest.
“She has been learning all she can about her mother’s past, even using a mirror to watch it unfold…”
“She has visited the fade?” Lo’rel asked and suddenly turned to Wa’linh. “If she is trapped in there as Marena was…”
“Then she is lost. It took all Marwolaeth had to bring them back from the brink of forever, and we do not have Marwolaeth to help us this time.”
“I would not be so sure about that…” En’vala piped in. “Lo’rel, come here.”
Lo’rel moved quickly, placing her hand on Tisiphone’s head and she closed her eyes. It took a few moments, but Lo’rel withdrew her hand with a gasp and turned to her sisters. “She is weak, but she is there.”
“What?” Khor shouted. “My sister has never been taken by a Host, least of all that Host.”
“No one knows what happened to Marwolaeth, she just, vanished.” Markhon pointed out. “Some say she became one with Malice, and if that were true, it is possible for Malice to have passed down the genes to her daughter…”
“Are you telling me that she’s not only trapped in that story, but she’s also got a Host living inside her?” Khor growled and made for Tisiphone’s side.
“They both are.” Wa’linh smiled. “She did it.” She laughed.
“She did what?” Lo’rel inquired.
“She swore she would reunite them, and she has. To’llan resides with this female, and Marwolaeth, the other. Side by side once again, searching for the answers to their past.”
“Well, how do we get them out?” Khor growled.
“We don’t.” Loki replied with a sigh. “They will have to figure it out themselves, and Navina and Tisiphone are along for the ride.”
“We came here looking for help, not to allow these Hosts to take control.”
“You came here looking for the Shak’Morikai, and you have found them.” The light shone through the room, blinding all as the voice continued to speak. “We have waited so long for this day to come and once they awaken, we will know the truth.”
“Oh, this day just keeps getting better and better!” Khor grumbled, and hung his head.
“It is pleasing to see you, son of my blood.” The voice replied, but the figure remained obscured in the light. “Your mother would be proud.”
“You, are a son of Sanctuary?” Lo’rel turned back to Khor.
“He is my grandson, born to my daughter, Euphamia, though he does not like to admit it. He is her son, through and through, and I would bid you to show him the respect he deserves.”
“I don’t need any help.” Khor growled.
“You, my sweet child, need all the help you can get.” The figure replied, before disappearing once more.
“The Shak’Morikai will do all we can to see that they are cared for. It may take hours or days before they waken, but when they do, we will discuss this further. Until then, please, make yourselves at home on Malaness.” Pi’lara stood before them, her head down and a smile upon her face.

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