“Traitor!” Her voice echoed off the walls. “Betrayer!”
“What is wrong with her?” Loki let out with panic in his eyes.
Tisiphone lay in a bed, surrounded by a soft blue light. It was supposed to be peaceful, but the way she thrashed about told him she was far from at peace. She was seething with hatred though her mind remained locked. There was no way of telling what was wrong, and therefore no way of helping to fix it.
“Traitor!” She shouted again, drawing Loki’s gaze back to the twisted remnants of her body. “Heathen!”
“Only the Goddess can helps her nows!” A voice came from behind him and Loki whipped around to see the beady little eyes of a fur-covered teddy bear. “This, teddy bears, has sharp teeths!” The thing added, clearly unimpressed with Loki’s assumptions.
“Where is the Goddess?” He inquired with a shiver running down his spine, he’d heard about the Shoohk and their slurred words, but he’d yet to actually meet one.
“No one knows, which is whys we puts hers in the lights. It mays be somes times before she returns!” The creature sighed. “Thoughs the Lady has gones to seeks helps.”
Shit! That lady, could ruin everything if she spoke to the wrong people. “Where did she go?”
“To the lands of Sanctuarys, but fears nots, she wills returns.” He bowed his head and made to turn away.
“You can’t leave. What if she wakes up?” Loki called out frantically, watching the little fur-beast walk away.
“We are nots, fur-beasties!” It growled, turning around so fast, Loki didn’t seem to notice the three-inch, razor sharp fangs and claws that had extended, until they were deep within his shoulders and the creature hissed in his face.
“Get off me!” Loki shouted, trying his best to detach the little heathen. “Get, the fuck off!” He roared, feeling the claws dig deeper as the fangs shone in his face like daggers.
“Traitor!” Tisiphone shouted out again, whimpering as she tossed and turned beneath the sheets.
“You, dids this to hers!” The beast eyed him. “We knows, we sees it in her mind.”
“I call bullshit.” Loki gasped. “I see nothing.”
“She has forbids it. She knows whats you dids!” The beastie’s grip grew tighter still and for a moment, Loki thought it would bite him. “She does nots likes you, and neither, does we!” It finished, and the shadows seemed to light up with a million eyes staring back at him.
“Deegle, that is enough!” The voice returned and Loki scanned the room for the female. “Leave us!”
“As yous wishes!” The little monster sighed, retracting its claws and dropping to the floor. “Comes, we has works to do!”
“Creepy little shit!” Loki grumbled as the Shoohk disappeared into the shadows and the eyes vanished with him.
“Deegle is loyal, which is more than I can say for you!” The voice returned, so familiar, yet his mind was racing and couldn’t put a name to a voice.
“I have done nothing but seek out help for her!” He growled back, rubbing at his wounds.
His fingers were covered in his own blood and his ability to heal himself was nullified inside the keep. Only the light could shine inside the walls, which left him rather puzzled at the moonpool below. The darkness within it, should not have been allowed to fester…
“It was done so, on purpose.” The voice replied, having plucked the thoughts from his head. “Only a fool would enter the lady’s keep without asking.”
“I’ve had enough of the name calling, thank you.”
“Yet here you are, using a pool that is not yours.”
“Do you know who this is?” Loki growled, wishing she’d just show herself and be done with all the games.
“I was there the day she was born.” The voice grew louder and finally, fucking finally, the figure emerged from the darkness. “In fact, it was outside my own keep, that her mother brought her into this world, kicking and screaming amidst the snow.”
“Okay, I got it. You know who she is, and now, I know who you are.” He chuckled; his wounds almost healed.
“My identity was never a secret.” She smiled at him with eyes like emeralds, hidden beneath long, chocolate brown locks. “Though, it is not my loyalty she questions, but yours.”
“Oh really?” Loki rolled his eyes, looking over the tears in his cloak and tunic. “And I guess you can look in to her mind too?”
“The fact that you cannot is what tells me her trust in you has come into question.” The female spoke softly, circling the bed in which Tisiphone lay. “Her thoughts are as clear as day, filled with hatred for a traitor.”
“And you say, I’m the traitor?” He shook his head in disbelief. “I’m trying to help her. We all are.”
“I know, I’ve been watching you!” She sighed, clasping her hands before her as she closed her eyes. “I witnessed the chaos in the Realm of Magic, and again, aboard their vessel as the Warlords tried to destroy it…”
“You’ve been spying on us?” He growled at her.
“I am the Oracle, watching, is what I do!”
“Get off your high horse, Navina, and instead of watching, maybe help us out.” He paused a moment. “Oh wait, I forgot, it’s forbidden!” He added, shaking his head as he mocked the Dark Lord.
“Even now, you commit treason.” She scowled at him.
“This, is not treason. Keeping secrets from the Dark Lord is treason, which, by being here and not reporting it, you are committing as well.”
“I am bound by the Order, as you pointed out, it is forbidden for me to interfere.”
“Didn’t stop you before, and look, here you are now. Are you going to tell me this was a social visit?” That, stopped her dead in her tracks and Loki felt his cheeks rise into a grin. “I know all about your travels through time, so don’t play games with me, Navina. Help me.”
“I have seen the birth of one civilization, only to blink and witness the fall of another. I have seen kings conquer worlds and slaves conquer kings, cowards turned heroes and those heroes…” She shook her head and sat down on the bed next to Tisiphone, reaching out to brush a lock of violet hair from her face. “I have seen much, Lord Loki, but never, did I ever think I’d see you ask for help!”
“Wonders never cease!” He grumbled, coming around to the other side of Tisiphone’s bed. “I just want her to wake up…”
“And not kill you?” Navina laughed and tied her long, chocolate locks back from her face. “I believe you may earn your way back into her good graces soon enough.”
Loki looked to her in confusion, but she’d already closed her eyes and her hands slid over Tisiphone’s body. There was no telling what the Oracle had witnessed over the countless years before the mirror, he just hoped one of those visions had given her the ability to correct whatever was wrong with Tisiphone, or his ass was going to fry in all sorts of fire and brimstone.
“Silence!” She scolded him, a pure white light emanating from her hands that seemed to light up the entire room. “I need, silence!”
Mist and Sif clutched Gil tight, as if they would never let him go. It was chilling to have listened to Gil run down the plotting and sinister scheming of the enemy. The more he told them, the more it made sense, and Mist for one, wasn’t too keen on the idea of Malice’s forces pulling a fast one on them. Using Loki to spy on them was one thing, but to plan his capture, the gaining of their trust only to turn around and betray them, that was quite another.
Then, there was Gil’s plan. He wanted to use Loki against Malice. He knew the fool was using him, and would offer only the wrong information in his presence. Mist again, was not sure of this. Not only was it dangerous, it would confuse the troops; many of which wanted to see the bastard hang.
“I’m glad we’re friends, because you would make a hard enemy to kill.” She shook her head in the end, nuzzling in close to him as they lay in the bed.
All Gil could do was laugh.
“What is so funny?” Sif asked, raising her head from his chest.
“That’s what Rob and I said about you, when you and the rest were readying to butcher the traitor in the courtyard.” He shuddered, remembering the mob itself.
“Well, since we can’t hang him, what do we do with him?” Mist inquired, laying back against the pillow with her wrist over her eyes to block out the light.
“He serves Malice, right?” Gil blurted out, a new thought forming in his mind.
“As far as we know.” Sif replied.
“And she’s sent him on some mission to spy on us, right?”
“Yes, but, where are you going with this?” Mist raised herself up on her elbows and narrowed her eyes at him.
“What if we make him think he’s succeeded?” Gil went on, sitting up between his two females. “Find Ashe, tell her I have a special mission for her.”
“Can we get some sleep first, please? You too, tired minds don’t think well.” Sif complained as she yawned.
Mist was more intrigued by Gil’s plan, and knowing how unpredictable he could be, she was well aware of how dangerous and devious the plan actually was. He wanted Ashe to impersonate Malice. She was sure of it.
“I guess so, it has been a long night.” Gil replied as he kissed Sif’s brow.
He too, let his eyes close, only to find Mist in his mind. ‘You’re going to have Ashe impersonate Malice, aren’t you?’
‘Am I that transparent?’
‘Only to me, but you’re taking a great risk, my love. If Loki sees through your plan, he will kill you; and worse.’
‘What could be worse than death?’
‘When he kills, there is no coming back. You’ll be beyond my abilities to heal, he’ll make sure of it.’
He wanted to argue with her, but she knew way more than he did when it came to the art of life. ‘You could always turn me?’
‘He knows about the Einherjar and would never risk you becoming one of them. A new commander in the plague trying to suffocate him.’
‘I know, Mist, but that’s a risk that I have to take.’ Had to, being the key words there.
‘One cannot trick, the trickster, Gil.’
‘That sounds like a challenge, my love?’ He grinned, only to feel her pinch him, hard. ‘Look, I’ve worked with professional assassins before, which is why I’ve asked for Ashe to help. She knows the layout of Ghost Mountain, and, she’s as assassin of the dark arts; they know more ways to kill than anyone imaginable.’
‘Both are good reasons, but they still do not convince me to allow this madness.’
‘How about one more?’ He inquired, sitting up in the bed carefully so as not to waken Sif, the last thing he needed was another Valkyrie reaming him out.
Mist glared at him as she too began to rise. ‘It better be good!’
‘She is female, and poison is said to be a female’s weapon of choice.’
‘You wish to poison him?’
‘I know of certain poisons that will make me appear dead. We’ll let Loki think he’s succeeded in murdering me...’
‘Absolutely not!’ Mist had never felt fear before, but she felt it now as she listened to Gil.
Loki was capable of anything, yet here Gil was, gambling his life away. ‘If we can convince him he’s won, he’ll take me back to her. She’ll see I’m dead and leave me in some spare room. I could then sneak out and catch them both of guard.’ He was trying hard, but she just kept shaking her head. ‘We could eliminate the two greatest threats to the realm, at the same time.’
‘No, I won’t let you do this! Sif won’t either.’ Mist rose from the bed. ‘There has to be another way.’
“There isn’t!” His voice was loud and he knew he’d wake Sif if he wasn’t quiet, he just, couldn’t keep quiet any longer.
“You are our only hope for victory. Let Loki campout in his cell for a week. He’ll change his tune.” Mist shot back, her eyes changing colors like a rainbow in the sun.
“And in that week, Malice will have laid a hundred traps and we’ll be right back where we started.” His voice rose and he could hear the startled gasp from the bed.
“I will not allow you to risk your life, on an if! Damn you, do you hear me?” Mist was growling, her hands on his shoulders as she shook him. “It’s madness!”
He couldn’t bare to look at her, he knew she was right but he had to do something, and he turned away from her; only to catch a glimpse of Sif, whose eyes blazed like blue coals.
“I forbid you to do anything of the sort, and if you try, I’ll put you in a cell next to Loki, until you both come to your senses.” Those glowing blue eyes barrowed at him. “We didn’t bring you here to die, so you can give us that week.”
Gil looked at both of them, their eyes baring down on him in a commanding and eerie way. He knew they couldn’t wait a week, but he didn’t seem to have much of a choice. A week in a cell would have given him ample time to muscle some info out of the bastard, but then he’d miss the touch of his females and he really didn’t like to see them like this. Fear, did not become them.
“Ok a week.” He agreed rather quickly. “And no sneaking around either.”
His females nodded as they began to calm down, those glowing eyes carrying no more than a few sparks. He could deal with their anger, but the fear we too much. It would take time for him to plan his little operation anyway. The poisons would need to be researched and obtained, the traitor needed a good interrogating and an escape plan would have to be laid out if he had any hope in convincing his Valkyries to follow him. He couldn’t do this without them, and clearly, he needed to approach this in a different manner or keep it a secret altogether.
“Come back to bed, let us rest before morning meal is served.” Sif yawned with her hand held out for him to take.
“Alright!” He smiled at her, letting Mist guide him back to her, though sleep was far from his mind.
“There is much to do after morning meal.” Mist let out with her own yawn. “The wheel is almost finished and soon, Rihmsjalier will be able to protect itself again.”
“That’s good!” Gil sighed, letting his eyes close and his mind wander back to his plan as his females lay beside him.