“Are you sure you want to go down there?” Nissa inquired, helping her tie the final strands of her floor length lime green dress. She was a vision of grace and beauty, with a huge belly sticking out beneath such large breasts.
Kember wasn’t sure if she was jealous or terrified. S0 any changes, and they had all happened so quickly. Everyone was all, ‘Oh look at you!’ or ‘Oh my, I can’t wait to hold them.’
Meanwhile, Kember was all, ‘How did this happen?’ along with ‘Holy shit, will it happen again?’
She couldn’t help but worry about her friend, and the incredible miracle, or omen, that had occurred. How did they grow again? Would Madrina give birth to toddlers? Would they continue to grow in insane leaps and bounds after they were born? What the fuck is going on?
I feel fine!” Madrina tried to assure her Angel, but even Kember had a feeling that the male wasn’t going to stop asking.
“You don’t have to go down, I can have the kitchen make you something to eat? You can put your feet up and read a book?” Nissa offered, but his female was having none of that.
“Nissa, she’s pregnant, not broken!” Kember let out, rolling her eyes as she adjusted her blouse then tucked it into her skirt.
“We don’t know what’s happened!” Nissa glared back at the Witch.
“She could very well be ‘broken ’ as you say.”
“But she’s not! You were there, just like I was! You saw them moving on the screen and heard their little heartbeats! They’re alright, Nissa, all of them!” She laughed, “The ultrasound proved it!”
Our daughters are fine, my love!” Madrina smiled up at him, taking his hand in her own, and placing it on her belly over the green gown she wore.
“I am fine, but I won’t be, if I don’t get out of this room and into the real world; with food!”
“Fair enough!” Nissa laughed, kissing her softly.
“You’re sure, though?”
“If you don’t get out and leave us be, I swear.” She started, and made for a nearby pillow to toss in his face.
“You don’t swear!” He grinned, but he had gotten the hint. “I will be waiting downstairs!”
And with that, he was gone; and Madrina let out the breath she had been holding in.
“He’s right you know? You don’t have to go down there!” Kember started in.
“Not you too?” She shook her head. “I’ve been sick and helpless enough, if the ultrasound and my Mother say that they are alright, then, they are alright.” She took in a deep breath, and tried to bend over and slip on her shoes.
Nope, wasn’t happening, and Kember had to catch her before she fell over.
“Here...” She offered to slip the high heels on Madrina’s feet. “You sure you don’t want different shoes?”
“I’m pregnant, not....” But she took a few steps and almost rolled her ankle.
“On second thought, I think I’ll put slippers on.” She giggled, and Kember took off for the closet.
It took them awhile to make it down those great steps, across the dining hall to another set. Eventually, Madrina and Kember were making their final descent, they could already hear the voices.
Concern and confusion ran rampant in the throne room, and when they finally arrived at the bottom step. They found not only Lord Eroch and Nissa, but also Lady Ellaria, and Folix as well.
As they came around the corner, even more people came into view and though Kember didn’t recognize all of them, she did know the Elemental, Erona. Oh Gods, was that...
“Ah, Madrina! Thank you for joining...” But the male’s words were cut off as his gaze fell upon her.
“Folix!” Madrina nodded her head with a smile. Watching as the old male’s face scrunched up in disbelief beneath his salt and peppered hair.
“It is good to see you!”
“It is so very good to see you, but I had no idea you were with child!” He smiled bashfully,
“It suits you!” He added, and took a bow.
“Thank you, Folix!” She laughed, as Nissa came to stand beside her.
“So, tell me, what brings you here?”
“Uh, well... It would seem...” He stuttered again, as if unable to collect his thoughts..
“It would seem that the two of you, and a handful of others, share the same issue, Madrina!” Her Father replied, and Nissa put his arm around her and squeezed tight.
“What do you mean, issue?” She inquired, grabbing on to Nissa’s arm. “
It would seem that Pathen has played with your genetic coding, as well!” Folix sighed, and ushered for a young male to step forward.
“His name is Opamir!” He ushered the young man to step forward. Tall, blonde hair and cream colored eyes, with that cute little fuzz on his chin, not bad on the eyes for a male of his size!
“Hello, my Lady!” The male let out, his voice so deep and enchanting; and he had manners, too?
“Hello!” Madrina replied, and Kember took note of the way the young male reacted, his eyes filled with lust as he took in her radiance.
“Opamir? Tell Madrina how old you are?” Folix told the young male.
“I am ten and two, my Lady!” The young male replied, still gazing at her as she gasped.
“I’m sorry, If I offended you!” He added quickly, shying away from her.
“There is no way!” Kember shot out, “He’s at least, twenty and two!”
No way, that five foot, maybe nine inches, and two hundred pounds with short blonde hair and a goatee, was ten and two. Ten and eight, maybe!
“I assure you, the child is ten and two, Kember!” Folix sighed, “But, he too was taken by the Hosts.” The old male shook his head.
They altered you both, like they did the others.”
“What others?” Nissa growled, his scent filling the room. “What did they do to me?” Madrina’s voice came out as she shuddered in her mate’s arms; her hands cradling the young inside her.
“There are one hundred and nineteen so far, but none as unique as yours!” He shook his head again. “They have all been accelerated! Their bodies and minds have.”
“And what makes me unique?” Madrina let out, her words mere whispers though all could hear them perfectly in the ominous silence that had fallen.
“A few things, actually!” It was Erona who answered this time, her long brown hair bobbing as she came forward and placed a hand on Folix’s shoulder.
The old male smiled, though it was clear to all that he had forced it; hell, they were all forcing themselves to remain calm. They had to, the Verse wasn’t ready for a tantrum of such magnitude.
“So you’re telling us, that what happened to Madrina, has happened to all these others, as well?” Kember inquired, crossing her arms over her chest.
“Some have gained months, others, years!” Erona cut in, the disgust written all over her face.
“And now it would seem that nowhere is safe; even the orphanage has been affected.”
Does Euphamia know?” Madrina looked so pale, and Nissa was hovering about her like a helicopter.
“Those are her...” “No, she doesn’t!” Folix replied.
“We came here to see if you all could help.” He paused, and looked at Ellaria.
“There are so many, my Lady...”
“And this all happened at the same time?” Kember inquired, and Folix nodded his head as his salt and peppered hair ruffled about.
“Everywhere? But how?”
“Most claim that they awoke to find themselves in such a manner, but there are a few who claim they felt a wave wash over them and then the tingling sensation set in.” Erona explained,
“They awoke on the floor, or in the fields; every last one of The Returned, changed.”
“Mother?” Madrina let out, “What does this mean?”
“It means that the Order is trying to reign in its followers!” She sighed. “We feared that something like this would happen.” She turned to Lord Eroch.
“Summon the soldiers, I will need them soon enough!"
Somewhere in the endless snows, there was a trail they were supposed to follow. Somewhere, in the trees ahead, there would come a break, and they would veer off through that break, and down the rocky embankment.
The further they went, the closer those ominous clouds came, bringing with them high winds and icy rain that pelted their armor. Somewhere up there, was the entrance to a mighty fortress, but Navina could not see it.
She couldn’t see anything past Lync’s hand that was clasped about her own. He pulled her forward when her legs wanted to give in, he kept her going as he always had; but this, this was insane.
They couldn’t stop, for the winds were driving them forward, and she felt the eeriest of sensations roll over her.
“Up ahead!” Someone shouted out, and she looked; though it was pointless. Was it Malice? Or Mia? Nothing but snow awaited her, and she shuddered against the cold blast.
She felt Lync pulling her forward once more, his free arm coming up behind her to push her on. She had to keep going, there was warmth beyond the walls she could not see; people that she could talk to.
They were Kor’Mhia, and she had heard that name enough to know that these people were bloody well important. The Order hunted them, Pathen, despised them, and that alone made them family in her books.
“We need to hurry!” Another voice called out, and the sounds of banging against a big steel gate rang through the snow covered sky. Again and again it rang out, but there was none who’d answer.
Where were they all? There had to be someone in there? Huddled together in front of the massive gates, the snow blinding them as the ice whipped at their armor even harder than before; and Mist called out a midst it all.
“We come for the Kor’Mhia! We seek their wisdoms, and their insights!” Again, nothing. What the hell?
“Please?” Zahara called out, almost frozen to the bone against her mate.
“Please open the doors, we mean you all no harm!”
“This one bears the blood of an El’Terran!” The voices cut through the wind, hundreds of them circling about the small group.
“There harbors a darkness in her!”
“We must open the gates!”
“Silence, all of you!”
“You are a daughter of our Lady of Light?” One single voice could be heard now, one tone to battle the storm that threatened to quash them.
“I am!” Zahara replied. “I was sent here, by her, to speak with you!” Navina couldn’t help but compare their voices, to the many thousands she had heard before.
They spoke all at once, just like the enemy; though their words were not the same.
“Why did she send you here?”
“Please? Let us in, and we will tell you all you wish to know!” Markus spoke up.
“This one has the blood of royalty in his veins and we do not speak with Kings!” The voice chuckled. “Never, met a King that we liked!”
“I am sorry you disapprove!” He mumbled, and stood back behind his mate.
“Please? There is a storm coming, and we seek only shelter; and a few answers.” Zahara tried again, but they just would not listen. This was getting them nowhere, and that storm was coming closer still.
“My name is Anastasia Malice Dormand, I am First Justicar of the Sisterhood of the Valkyrie, and there is one among us, that you dare not turn away!” Malice called out, and Zahara shook her head.
“They won’t, listen!” She shivered, and Markus put his arms around her.
“Oh, they don’t have a choice, it’s in their blood!” She chuckled back, loud enough for all to hear.
“Speak what you mean, First Justicar!” Many replies came. “Who among you, is worthy enough to enter the gates before them?”
Malice stepped back, her armor gleaming in the onslaught of chaos, raised her hand up, and pointed right at Navina.
“You all, have an obligation to protect this one!”
“What games do you play, Valkyrie?” The voices grew louder, meaner than before.
“You don’t have too, Vina!” Lync growled, clearly, not liking what he was seeing, but she put her hand on his arms and smiled.
“No, if we want answers, I have to do this!” She looked up at him, kissed the tips of her fingers, and pressed them to his lips.
“I will be alright! I can feel it!” She smiled again, and turned towards the gates.
Passing by Malice, she received a smile and a nod, like Malice and Mist knew exactly what she was planning to do; adding to her courage as she carried on.
“To whom, do I speak?” She shouted, her words echoing in the winds.
“Who, are you, that the Valkyrie would make such claims?” Came the reply.
“My name is Navina! I am the daughter of Foran; and I am, Kor’Mhia!”
She shouted into the winds, and awaited their answer. It came soon enough, as the winds settled, just like that, and the big steel gates began to swing open.
A single rider came forth, masked in a dark cloak and looming on the back of a horse; black as night. No armor save for the shield and helmet it wore, and the cloak is all else.
The sword though, now that pretty piece of steel was enormous; and Navina had to wonder how the rider could wield it so effortlessly.
“Come forward, daughter of Foran!” The voice called out, so feminine and sweet.
“I will not, until you have dismounted from your horse!” Navina replied, and watched as the female in the long black cloak did as she was asked.
The horse stood perfectly still as the cloaked female came forward, sheathing her sword and removing her gloves.
“Now, Navina, will you please come forward into the light?” Navina did as she was asked, out of respect for the female who had so willingly obliged her own request; and felt the snow give a little, with each step she took.
The voices continued to swirl around her, though they were but whispers on a gentle breeze now; they spoke not to her, but of her.
“She cannot be! The child was lost; she lied!”
“Be silent and let me make my own decision.” The cloaked female called out.
“She is too young!”
“But the hair, and the eyes...”
“Silence, I said! Let her come forward!” She shouted this time. “By the Gods, will you just hush?”
It was clear to Navina that there was some unrest among the Kor’Mhia here, but if she could hear them, could they hear her? Could they see her memories?
She had to try...‘Push!’ The female shouted, a female with long dark hair like her own; and a moment later, a soft cry shot through the room, growing louder with each new breath.
‘Very good, child! Very good!’ ‘Is it... Is it a female?’ The Mother asked, though Navina could not see her face. ‘
It is!’ Came the reply. ‘
May I see her?’ That was when the room grew silent, colder than it had been but a moment ago.
‘Please? May I see her?’
Again, a silence that Navina remembered well. It was the same little white room, and they were surrounded by pillars, layered with candles. There was the red birthing bed, right in the center of it all, as it had been the last time she’d visited this memory; and on it, lay a Mother. Her Mother, and she yearned for her child.
“What is this?” The voices grew louder. “What is this, that she shares with us now?”
“I remember well, the hour of my birth, for it has haunted my dreams for the last few months!” Navina replied, drawing them back to the scene before them.
“Watch, and you will see the truth I speak.”
‘I need to feed her! Please, bring her to me!’ The worrisome cry rang out.
‘She needs to feed!’ The child was screaming, as if it knew its Mother’s voice and felt the concern in her tone.
‘She is beautiful!’ The older female finally sighed, bringing the child closer.
‘You have done well, Salora!’
‘Thank you, Elonah! Thank you!’ ‘Hold on to that child tight, this night is not yet over; and Foran isn’t going to give up that easily!’ The older female warned her.
“She speaks of Foran, as if he were a monster!” The voices cut in, the disgust registering clearly.
“It is well known that the Order itself was led by a traitor.” Navina reminded them, not knowing where the extra large set of balls she had grown, had come from; but she was going to, Roll with it, as Malice liked to say.
‘He cannot enter here! The Order will protect us!’ Salora shouted out, and had seemed so sure of it. ‘You mated with him out of union, Salora.’
‘He took what was not his to take!’ The Mother whimpered, finally holding the child to her breast.
‘You traveled beyond the safe limits, you knew the risks of venturing too far.’
‘So they will just let him take her, even after he sent me out there in the first place?
You cannot be serious, Elonah? She is, my, daughter, the next in our line. They cannot turn her away!’ The mother shouted, before whimpering as she kissed the child’s forehead.
Not to them!’ The female hung her head, and made towards the door. ‘The sun will rise soon, and the child will be sent to the temple. She will be safe there until we can find her somewhere far away from Foran’
‘He will not take, my Marena! I will not let him! I would die first.'
The look in her eyes, so filled with hatred, “No one will take her from me!” She cried out, as and after shock or pain swept through her.
‘Then die, you shall!’ His voice echoed through the room, and Elonah drew her sword from her side.
‘You are not welcome here, Foran! Leave, before your blood is shed tonight!’ Elonah spoke, and yet the male, so large and so sinister looking, just laughed.
‘I will not leave Kem’pir, until I have seen my young!’ The male with a hundred voices snapped back at her. So eerie, and yet, so commanding.
‘She is not your young!’ Salora shouted, and his eyes drifted towards her. ‘
She will never be yours!’
‘Says the whore who lay on her back and let me crawl between her traitorous thighs. My seed, filled your womb and gave life to the young you hold at your breast.
She is mine, Salora, I can smell it!’ He grinned, ‘And I shall see, my daughter!’
‘You will do no such thing!’ Elonah bellowed, raising her sword high above her head, but it was far too late for that. He was before her in a heartbeat, his own sword piercing her armor plating, and slicing through her delicate flesh.
Salora watched as Elonah fell to her knees, her mouth open in shock, and her eyes wide and filled with fear.
‘No’ She screamed so loud, the young began to cry along with her.
‘Elonah? Elonah, I’m so sorry!’ She whimpered, as the female fell to the floor, the life leaving her eyes as she exhaled her last breath.
‘Do you see what you have done?’ Foran growled, ‘Really, Salora! If you had just given me, what was mine.’ He laughed and shook his head.
‘You loved me, once!’ She whimpered.‘You cared for me.’
‘You looked so sweet and innocent, just like my beloved.’ But then he stopped and sighed, inching his way towards her.
‘Had I known who you truly were, and what ran through your mind that night, the orders you were to carry out.’
‘You, tricked me! You all tricked me. You, and your Father, and all of your wicked females! Drugging my drinks and defiling my body on behalf of your Masters. ‘
Defiling? Oh no, Salora, I remember quite well, how you squirmed as I took you. your body accepting the sinful pleasures we shared. You enjoyed it! You loved the nasty things we did together! The way our bodies melted together.'
Lies! All of them! I never would have lain with you, not like that, ever!’
‘We were but pawns in my Father’s schemes, and if I don’t take my daughter now, I can assure you that he will use her for his own vile plans; and that, I cannot allow, Salora!’ ‘
He will not touch her!’ She shouted, ‘And neither will you!’ She whimpered as another wave washed over her.
‘Give her to me, Salora, or by the Gods and all that they deem sacred, I will end you!’ The male growled, his long dark hair hanging in front of his face.
‘Give me, my Marena!’
‘She is not yours, and you will never take her from me!’ Salora cringed, but the sudden pain in her belly had her keeling over to the side, the child wailing in her arms.
There was no one to help her, and though Navina’s heart ached, there was nothing even she could do; but watch again, as her Father approached her Mother.
Taking Marena from her arms and cradling her close, Navina could hear the cries of the child as it called out for her Mother; screeching as her little arms reached out for her.
‘Give her to me, Foran! Give me my daughter...’ But the pain was growing, her belly so round and swollen from the birth; and the blood dripping all about her. ‘She has my eyes, Salora, and my hair! She is my daughter.’ He chuckled, glaring at the female as she writhed in pain.
‘She is Kor’Mhia!’ He chuckled, raising Marena high above his head,
‘Blood of my blood, and she belongs with her own kind!’
‘Foran? Foran, you cannot take her! Please, Foran? She needs me! I am her Mother!’ ‘
You were a tool, Salora! A tool along the path my fore bearers had set out for me; though twisted as it is, she, my Marena, will lead our people, Salora!
She will lead them away from the Order, and she will never know the worthless shell that was her Mother!’
‘Foran!’ She shouted, and then recoiled in pain. ‘Foran, you cannot do this! She is of the Order, they will not let you keep her.’
‘Stupid, stupid female!’ Foran shook his head. ‘My Father may think he has won with his tricks and games, but Marena is my daughter and he can think again!’ His eyes were so dark now, and the mood in the room all but shouted for Navina to run.
‘Say goodbye to your Mother, Marena!’ And with that, he vanished from sight.
“We have seen the birth of Marena, through Foran’s own memories. We watched her birth, and how he brought her home to a joyous celebration! This is nothing new to us!′ They laughed at her.
“We remember her arrival, and the fateful day she was taken from us; and we too joined in to help as Foran searched the Verse for her.”
“You may have witnessed the joys and sorrows of Marena, but you have not seen what happened, after, Foran left that night!” She shouted back at them.
“For he was not there to witness them!” “Then how do we know that the memories are real?” “I cannot answer that for you, only you can be the judge of what you see!” She shook her head.
“Very well!” They replied, and the vision continued.
‘Noooooo!’ Salora let out, trying her best to crawl from the bed. ‘Marena?’ She shouted, ‘Foran, bring her back!’ It seemed like forever, as Navina waited for the small handful of females to rush in; as she knew they would.
Forever is what it would take to rid the memories of what was to come next. ‘Oh Gods, Elonah!’ One of them let out, and the Century Guards were summoned. ‘
Marena!’ Salora tried to get out, as the hands came down and lifted her back into the bed. ‘
Foran... Marena...’ ‘Hush now, you need your strength!’ She heard the voice say, though the face was blurred as the pain shot through her again. ‘
What is happening? Where is my daughter?’ She moaned, ‘I want my daughter!’
‘Hush now, Salora, we are here! Do not worry now, it will all be over soon!’ The female smiled at her.
‘What...? What will be...’ She could not finish as the pain exceeded her threshold, and the female told her to bear down and push. She was to what? But she had already.
‘Push!’ She told her again, and Navina stood back in awe of what was before her, as did the others; their voices beginning to chatter off in the distance. ‘
PUSH!’ The female ordered, and Salora had no choice but to comply. A cry from the Mother, weakened by the strain of a shattered heart; and then, the cry of a second child, one whose hair was a shade lighter, but still dark as night. ‘
It’s a female!’ They shouted, and a few even clapped their hands, rejoicing in recognition of yet another kin to the Order.
‘It’s a... what?’ Salora let out, her mind barely functioning with the light shimmering in her eyes, one last time.
‘She’s...’ ‘Salora? Salora, wake up!’ But there was no waking up for the female, not after what she had been through; and Navina felt her heart crumble once again. ‘
Salora? Salora, wake up! She needs you! Salora...’ A few minutes passed, and another put her hand on the female’s shoulder, and the tears began to fall.
‘Bloody hell!’ ‘It was only a matter of time! We knew he would come for her and the child, her life began to diminish the moment she lay down for first rights!’
‘His rage is fueled by his father; we cannot fault the male for trying to protect what is his!’
‘And what of Pathen? You know he had a hand in this! You cannot tell me that she would have gone beyond the borders without his say!’
’Pathen will be dealt with in time! His feud with his son has gone on for far too long. His quest for the perfect ‘Oracle’ as he has taken to calling them, has taken over the Order as a whole; and Salora will be the last daughter of the Rammal line, to fall to his hands, or any others.′
‘We cannot go against his wishes!’ One of them gasped, and Navina knew all too well what was coming next. ‘He will not stop until he controls everything!’ ‘
Then we must take away his control! We must muck up his plans, best we can!’ ‘
He will kill us all, you do realize that, right? We cannot defy his word, not now that he sways the council.’
‘Then let us hope to find someone who will defy him!’ Navina heard the sigh, and it tugged at her heart strings. Until she noticed what the female was looking at; or rather, who. Shit!
‘What shall we name her?’ One of them asked, as the white sheet was pulled up over Salora’s face.
’We shall call her Navina! After the morning flower that battles all the odds to bloom atop the mountain tops.
‘Navina, daughter of the Order!’ ‘Oh by the Gods, I surely hope not!’
‘We cannot keep her from him.’
‘No, but we can guide her towards what is right!’ They were talking about her.
She was the defiant one. Why had she not seen this before?
As the white walls turned to dust, and that dust turned to snow, Navina felt the cool chill against her cheeks. It was over, and she was back, facing the female at the gates of... she did not know.
“My name is Navina! My mother was murdered by the one you call Pathen, and we have come to see that he falls for his crimes!”
There was no reply, though she could hear them all, like a low hum, as they chatted among themselves. Navina looked back at Malice, only to see the female, and her dark haired sister smiling back at her.
“Go on!” The Valkyries grinned, “You’re doing, just fine!”
Yeah, sure she was! They were ignoring her.
“My Father may have saved Marena that night, but you can go and tell him, that the daughter he lost, has returned home!”
Again there was silence, and Navina felt her heart crumble. What the hell else did they want from her? But then, the doors opened wider, and another appeared beside the female and her black horse; another, wearing a cloak of white.
“You are, Navina?” Her voice echoed off the snow.
“I am!” Navina stood her ground as the cloaked female started towards her.
Then I am sorry, for I cannot deliver your message!” The female sighed, letting her hood fall back about her shoulders, and her long black hair shone in the falling snow.
“Why not?” Malice inquired, coming forward to stand behind Navina, and Mist as well, appearing by her side. “
You promised to meet with them!” Mist added. “And my Mother will meet with you, but no one but the Gods themselves, can speak with Foran now!”
The female seemed as if she were going to drop a few tears. “He has passed?” Malice asked, a hand reaching out for Navina’s shoulder.
“He has fallen, though where he has ended up, only Pathen would know!” She told them. “But come, for a daughter of the Kor’Mhia, and a blood kin to Foran and myself, will never be turned away! My name is Kellrenna. Please. follow me!”
Navina stood a little shocked. That wasn’t exactly how she had envisioned this to play out, but again, she was going to roll with it, and save her own tears for a certain shoulder later.
Malice walked into the fortress of the Kor’mhia alongside her sister Mist, Mia and Nyx, as Navina and Lync were taken off to meet the rest of her kin.
Dark Valkyrie looked thoughtful as she remembered her own experiences with such revelations. In the last year she had found a family and reunited with her mother and sister.
Then she had met Euphamia and her beloved Nyx, and what a wild ride they had been on. Kember had somehow walked in and stolen Malice’s affection, and the rest of Lord Eroch’s brood had all but doused her in their blood and called her their own.
She was one of them, and now, listening to the laughter and giggles within these frosty walls, she hoped that Navina could find a chance for peace.
“What are you doing?” A voice called out, and Mist and Malice laughed and replied that they were simply counting paces, trying to determine the thickness of the walls.
“You’d have to have a nuke to breach the gate; and I thought Valkyrie fortifications were impressive. As long as you had food and water you could button up and wait out the besiegers.”
Mist laughed Malice only nodded as she looked down from the main keep at the town that surrounded them; all of it surrounded by the mighty walls of ice and stone.
It reminded her of her sister’s fortress of Misthaven. So peaceful and serene, and yet any one of its citizens would pick up arms to fight should the need arise. They looked after one another, cared for each other, and protected their way of life to the fullest. The townspeople looked at them curiously.
It was apparent to the Malice that they hadn’t seen a Valkyrie for quite some time, their eyes popping out of their heads as they passed her by.
“Mist, how long have the Kor’mhia kept their fortress closed to outsiders?” Malice asked her dark haired sibling.
“Since Marena disappeared, but then some had turned away even before that. No one outside the Kor’mhia knows where each of the clans have gone, it is one of the best kept secrets, thats why they have survived as long as they have. They knew of the treachery long before the rest of us, stealing their females away into the night, to protect them from Pathen’s vile Order.”
Mist was tired, and Malice could feel the worry in her sister’s heart, though she hid it well.
“The Order was not always so, there was a time when they used words to maneuver their deals; but that was before he who is said to be insane!”
Another joined them in the common room outside the great hall. The female had short red hair and vibrant yellow eyes, and Malice was having a hard time determining what she was.
“My name is Illia, and I was born in Garanoa.” The voice replied with a smile. “I’m sorry, but I don’t like it when people play around in my head, so please.” Malice rolled her eyes as Illia. “What my sister means,” Mist cut in as the female cocked a brow at them, “is that you should keep your bloody gifts to yourself and stay the fuck out of her head!”
“What the hell?” Malice choked out, now glaring at her sister. “I see! Then perhaps she should find a shadow to crawl into, lest she find herself beneath the sole of my shoe!”
“Why should I ought to...”
“Go climb into a sewer and die!” The female hissed before turning about and making her way out of the room. “
WHAT THE FUCK, was that?” Malice refused to move an inch, until Mist did some explaining. Just who the hell did that bitch think she was?
She is Illia, of the Eastern Tribes of Garanoa...” Mist started, but Malice was almost raging. “Yeah, and?” Malice growled,
“She can be Nyx’s play thing for all I care, so long as I get to beat her senseless!”
“Her people thrive on negative comments!” Mist hunted, but Malice wasn’t following.
“Your pleases and thank yous, irritate them! Infuriate them, even. Being polite, is the most vile thing you can do in front of a Garanoan!”
“You’re fucking joking, right?” Malice cocked a brow at her sister,
“So if I called her a fat and juicy lollipop all triple dipped in chaos and psycho...”
“You could consider yourself mated, for life!” Mist laughed, taking Malice by the arm as she led her towards a set of stairs, and out along the lower balconies.
“And if I happened to slip and tell her I loved her?” “You would find yourself divorced and widowed before the night was through!”
“To be kind, shows weakness!”
“Holy hell, and I thought Mother’s Sea Folk were twisted.” Malice shook her head as she followed along the stone walkway. The town was alive with so many wonders, so warm and alive with the hustle and bustle of daily life.
It was not cold beyond the walls of ice. There were no storms here, no weather wreaking havoc as it did outside the main gates. So much was happening as they proceeded to climb another set of steps; but Malice was still stuck on the whole ‘I love you!’ followed by a quick jaunt of a nearby cliff.
Like, what the hell?
Note to self, Garanoa was a no go, as Malice wasn’t sure she could keep up with their backwards ways. She’d probably get into a fight and call some asshole an asshole, and next thing she’d be beating him to death on their wedding day. No thanks!
“Are you hungry?” Mist inquired as they came upon a cart on the second level bridge way. Malice nodded, and Mist pulled two small rolls from a cart and tossed the old male a few coins. As they walked through the small town, back towards the main keep; Malice gasped at how tall the spire of rock really was.
Reaching damn well a mile into the sky, she shuddered at the thought of running up and down all those steps. Turns out, these Kor’Mhia had a room for literally everything.
A young female walked up to them and handed each a bundle of flowers, smiled at Malice. The Valkyrie knelt down to thank the child, as an older female with long gray hair approached them; followed by another who wore a cloak.
“Lady Malice?” The female spoke, and Malice turned to regard the short, gray haired female, and her companion.
“May we speak, alone?” “Where?” Mist inquired. “There is no one on this bridge but us now!” She laughed.
“Alright then! Lady Malice, the Council requests your presence in the main hall!” Malice looked at her sister with a raised eyebrow before she answered.
“Keep your eyes open, while I see what they want. Signal me, at the first sign of trouble.” Malice grinned.
Along the far walls of the great hall, were statues of long dead heroes and heroines, and the Queens of the Kor’Mhia. Up ahead, Mia stood in front of a statue with the astonishment plain on her face.
“Hey, Malice? You need to come look at this!” Malice walked up beside her and looked up. All three of them were looking at a full sized statue of her staring down at them.
“Fuck me!” Nyx grumbled, as he emerged from the shadows. “
That’s not me.” Malice explained with a laugh.
“That’s my mother, Ashlyn.”
“And there’s a statue of her in here, why?” Nyx inquired.
“Cause there are statues of her everywhere!” Malice replied.
“Besides, I like it! Reminds me of home!” She grinned, and approached the doors to the main hall.
“She is expecting you!” The guard replied as he opened the door.
“She?” Malice let out, “But I thought I was to see the Council...” He ignored her, and waited for her to make her way into the room so he could close the door behind her. What an asshole!
“All, males are assholes!” The female laughed, drawing Malice’s attention to the throne. “He is supposed to be an asshole, though! It’s his job!”
“And you are?” Malice inquired, “Why do you sit in the shadows?”
“I am not supposed to come into the light, stupid rules!” She grumbled, and then disappeared from the throne, reappearing right behind Malice.
“It’s a good thing, that I never follow the rules! That’s probably why I get into so much trouble!” She giggled, and pulled away so Malice could see her face.
“My name is...”
“Orella!” Malice gasped, taking in the long dark hair and majestic eyes.
“You, know me?”
“I do, or at least, a version of you!” Malice whispered, so totally confused as Orella returned to her throne.
“It was you who visited me in the tower. You told me to search out the scorched grounds to find the dragons!”
“I have not left this room, Malice!” Orella sighed. “They won’t allow it! Nor am I allowed to explore as the others do. They watch me, they see everything I do while they lock me away in this horrid little wing! It’s completely unfair!”
“You, weren’t the one who came to help us?” Malice wanted to be sure she had heard that right.
“No, I was not! But I can’t speak for my future self!” Orella laughed, “I am told that I am to be a great leader when I...” But she stopped short.
“When you what?” Malice cocked a brow.
“When I complete my first rights!” Orella grumbled and plopped herself down on the dinky throne. “Because I need a male to truly make me female before the eyes of my people!” She rolled her eyes. “I need to be... bedded, before I can truly understand the power to be passed forth!”
“One’s first rights, is important!” “Sure, if you like that sort of thing!” Okay, Malice was lost. The last time she had seen Orella... well, she hadn’t been a young maiden with her flower intact. She had been a righteous and just warrior, a premonition of sorts; this young female before her, was a mere child.
So, what the hell was going on? Was there some sort of time loop going on? Had her future self come back to speak with Malice?
I mean, males are so...”
“Sorry, what was that?” Malice was thrown for a loop as reality came crashing back to her.
“Males, they’re so... Ugh! Hairy and sweaty, their skin is nothing like the soft, smooth...”
“So you like females?” Malice asked, crossing her arms over her chest. “
Is it that obvious?” Orella squirmed in her chair.
“When you go from hairy and sweaty to soft and smooth... Yeah, it kind of stands out!”
“Dammit!” Orella hissed. “Then they too can see it...” “Is that a bad thing?” “No, every Kor’Mhia is free to choose...” Orella explained. “Except me!”
“Because you’re a Princess?” '
“More like a High Priestess to be!” The female admitted, “If, I can ever stand to be with a male long enough to let him bed me!”
“They’re not all bad!” Malice laughed, and made her way towards the window. “I know of a few, who would be quite commendable if you would like, I could arrange...” “
Gods no! No males!” She shook her head. “Have you ever been with anyone before?”
“I am twenty and nine, of course I have been with another! I have felt the pleasures that the body can offer!” Orella grinned wildly.
“Then what is the issue?”
“None, has ever entered me!” Orella giggled. “All of my encounters have been with another female!”
"Excuse you?” “
Have you ever experienced the pleasure of a female?” Orella inquired, and Malice felt the flush in her cheeks.
“I have!” Malice smiled, remembering the shower with Kember, not that long ago.
“Then you know that there is no greater pleasure?”
“But how do you know, if you have never submitted to the will off a male?” This was a conversation that Malice never thought, in a million freaking years, that she would be having, especially with Orella.
Yet here she was, all hot and bothered as the young female described the touches and the tingles they elicited; the captivating allure or it all as the lips fell against the most coveted of places.
“You have never allowed a male to east between your thighs? The hunger alone, Orella; their need is what drives them.” Malice was shuddering over her own words.
“But they’re so big...”
“Some are even bigger!” Malice grinned, “But it’s all in how you play, it’s not the size, Orella, size shows nothing of the experience, or the will to provide the proper pleasure.”
“I don’t understand...”
“One female’s handsome brute, could be the world’s largest slug beneath the sheets; and yet the male who looked too weak, too pathetic... Well he could possess the knowledge to curl your toes and make you scream as the waves washed over you!”
“But I can feel that with my...”
“Lover!” Malice laughed,
“That is, what you would call her!” She pointed out. “She gives me whatever I need.” Orella sighed, her eyes sparkling as she thought about her lover.
“But she cannot give you what you need to complete your first rights.” Malice was beginning to understand now. “You love her?”
“I do, and I can’t imagine letting a male soil, that which such a beautiful and graceful creature covets!” Orella shuddered. “And to find he has left me with a child...”
Bingo! The horror was written all over her face. Whoever she was, she was important to Orella, and the thought of tainting her body with that of another; and a male.
“Your duties require your loyalty, just as much as your lover!” Malice sighed, unable to believe just how much she sounded like her Mother at that very moment.
“You cannot stand as High Priestess, without having completed your first rights! Well you could, but then you’d have to move and change your names. Your people would suffer without your divine guidance and you’ll both be labeled deserters and never allowed to return home... and that’s if, they don’t send someone to hunt you both down! I would just hop up on that bed and let the male have his way with me; you never know, it could be fun.” Malice chuckled, but Orella wasn’t having it.
“I want to be loyal to my people, but it’s so very hard with all the rules and traditions! I mean, have you seen the offerings they have presented to me?” She was clearly disgusted.
“Four of them, two of them hideously old, one that looks like he’s always ready for war with his crazy eyes... and a child. Not even ten and seven yet! How am I supposed to bed a child, with the council and both families watching?”
“The Valkyrie has a custom much the same, and I wouldn’t! As in, fuck the male child! Doesn’t seem right!” Malice shuddered.
“Or the old ones!” Orella joined in a moment of shudders. “I can’t do it, and yet I must!”
“And, how exactly are you going to plan this out?” Malice closed her eyes with a sigh, wanting nothing more than to return home, to Kember.
Lord Eroch had been gone for a good day now, or was it two? Either way, if it had been important enough to return to the Null, should he not have taken them all with him?
“I was hoping that you could help!”
“Wait, what now?” Malice shook her head.
“What?” She added, feeling the hand between her legs and her eyes flew open.
“I have heard the rumors...” Orella smiled at her, “I know what awaits should I continue! Your kind has been serving mine, for as long as the people can remember.” She continued stroking.
“My kind...” Malice mumbled, trying so hard to hold back. “You are bound to your oath to pleasure and protect...” Orella whispered as she drew closer.
“And I am in need of your unique abilities!” The female smiled. Well, this was not what Malice had expected when she entered the room.
Not at all; but hey... There was no denying it, as Malice felt the mass protrude from between her sweet lips, and she heard Orella moan; slipping her fingers down the front of her leathers.
It was too late to stop the lust from taking control, Orella had initiated something that Malice hoped to hell she was willing to see all the way through. This female was about to be deflowered, and her reign was about to begin.
The suns were high in the sky, by the time Malice and the others walked though the portal. It had been a long haul through the snow and ice.
She wanted nothing more than to get into her room, and have a long, hot shower; with Kember.
Gods, she hoped the female was alright, and she was itching to get under those sweet droplets of water.
“Uh, Malice?” Nyx called out to her, as the others took off in various directions.
“What?” She sighed, and hung her head, her fantasy momentarily ruined. “
You might want to put a cap on your thoughts!” He grinned, and hissed as if he’d witnessed something hot; which he had, and she fucking knew it.
“Fuck, you!” She shot back and shook her head as he let off his usual lines of, maybe later, and that’s what she said.
Nope, she was walking across that stone bridge, and walking through those front doors; and... Was that, laughter, she was hearing?
From children? There were children, in the Null? Where people stupid? Who in their right minds would bring a child to this hell hole? Charred stone and lava pools galore. Half burnt trees and various shards of sharp; death worthy chaos littering the ground. Someone had fucked up; and that was when the wave rushed over her.
“Malice?” She heard his voice, and spun round to see her husband of all people, walking up behind her, with Kember in tow.
“She had told me of that glow...” He smiled back at her, “But I just had to see it for myself!”
“Oh, Reh!” Malice let out, and rushed into his arms.
“It has been...” “Too long!” He hushed whispered in her hair, running his hands through it as she nuzzled into his neck.
“I have missed you!” She sighed, taking in his scent.
“But you have found love, yet again, as I knew you would! You, my Malice, are never truly alone!” He smiled, and kissed her hard.
“And she is quite the catch, I must say!” He was still smiling, but there was something hidden in his eyes.
“What is it?” Malice asked, looking from him to Kember, “What’s wrong?”
“Tell me of your visit to Vash, my love!” He put his arm around her, and led her away from the doors.
“We met with the Kor’Mhia!” She told him, a puzzled look upon her face as the sound of children laughing, carried on about them.
“And who did you speak with?” He asked. He was avoiding her questions, why?
“A female named Kellrenna, and...” She laughed for a moment, “Orella!”
“Really?” Kember inquired, and Malice looked her up and down. “The female from the tower?”
“Well, sort of...” Malice replied. What the hell was going on?
What the... It was then she heard a shout from inside, a shout that could only have come from Euphamia, and Malice took off before Rehoboam could stop her.
“Malice, wait...” There was no waiting, as she tore through the doors and landed at the base of the throne room steps; and that’s where her head began to pound, and her heart broke.
She found Lord Eroch, sitting in his throne, and Mia standing in disbelief as her sister Madrina stood before her; and holy hell was she pregnant. Like, super pregnant!
Oh Gods... that wasn’t what was confusing Malice the most, not that going from, oh, just pregnant, to holy shit, female... in three days, wasn’t chaotic enough...
“Malice?” Reh called out from behind her, and every set of eyes in the room turned to look at him, but Malice couldn’t pull her eyes away from the two young children, sitting in Lord Eroch’s lap.
“Is that....?” She started, just as one looked up at her. “Momma!” The young female, with flaming red hair and, her eyes, let out.
“Bathsheba?” Her words were so quiet, as the little children looked up at her, jumped down from Lord Eroch’s throne, and down the steps they came.
Malice found herself kneeling to meet them, though her thoughts were scattered, her mind confused. She kissed them both on their foreheads nonetheless, holding them close as she took in the feel of them back in her arms.
Looking up at her husband with tears in her eyes, she saw him smile and felt small hands upon her cheeks, as both of her children, seeing the fear and anger in her eyes, tried to soothe her.
“We’re okay, Mama.” Ben giggled, then cocked a brow at her.
Now, where had he... she paused for a minute, and looked up at Lord Eroch who descended the steps before her.
“This is hard, my Lord! My head...” She paused again, looking for the right words.
“My head is having a hard time getting the thoughts together...”
“You’ve done better than I expected!” He laughed, and carried on towards the liquor cart, as she turned back to Reh, with Bathsheba and Ben still locked in her arms.
“I’m sorry, Reh!” She shook her head, kissing her children once again.
“I let my own single-mindedness, my thirst for vengeance, endanger the lives of you and our children.”
He only smiled at her, as the room began to clear, and Malice sat down right where she was, remembering her captivity in the hands of darkness.
“Pathen has used children, Reh! Children! Shaping them for his diabolical plans.”
“I am afraid it is far worse than that!” Folix sighed, as Malice looked about, convinced the bastard was near.
“He’s been breeding them. Abducting the Mothers and using the children like personal assassins.” The male shook his head, as he paced back and forth.
“Many have fallen beneath his hand, and there is talk that he may have been taken as Host, himself!”
“Host or not...” Malice let go of her children, making sure they were in Reh’s grasp before she too, began pacing back and forth.
“He has tampered with my children...”
She let herself go, and hoped to the Gods that Reh had left the room, for she could hold it back no longer.
“He has given his final command, and his reign over the Order ends tonight!” She was seething with hatred, her armor deploying and her wings extending. If it weren’t for Kember.
“Malice?” Her voice was like an anchor, holding her down in the eye of the storm.
“Malice, listen to me! He didn’t take them, they’re still here; and they’re safe! They’re a little older, but Lady Ellaria is working to stop the growth enhancers in their blood!”
“So, she knows, what did this?” Malice glared at her, though Kember knew the rage was not directed at her.
“Then she must know where I can find him!”
“The last we heard of him, he attacked a caravan near Rehoboam’s place on Earth!” Mia shuddered, and Malice gazed up at her, and then Madrina.
Where had everyone gone? Had they all left? The room was all but deserted. “Where is Lord Eroch? And Folix and Erona? Where are my children?”
“They didn’t want to disturb them!” Nyx chuckled. He was here too?
“And you, were kind of having a moment.”
“It was justified!” Madrina smiled at her, “I too, would have a moment, and they haven’t been born yet.”
“He set down on Earth, and he attacked my family.”
The anger was rising again, her blood boiling with every thought that contained a hint of the bastard. He had been the root of all the evil to spread as of late.
His filthy hands were among every hardship that had befallen the people. They hadn’t planned for any of this, and yet he had dumped it all in their laps; as a good little servant would for its Masters.
“How does one plan ahead, after all of this?” Malice choked out, trying so very hard to control her temper. She was so lost and confused, gazing into each set of eyes as they gazed back at her.
“Well...” Reh let out, returning to the throne room to stand beside her and Kember. “One thing is for sure, he didn’t plan on Bathsheba, starting a lightning fight!” He chuckled, and Nyx hissed.
“Ouch! That shit hurts! Not that I’ve ever been hit by a bolt; but I’ve seen Nissa get hit, and that shit sucked, big time!”
“Momma?” The voice ran through her like a thousand butterflies fluttering all at once inside her.
“I’m sorry!” Zahara let out, “I couldn’t stop her!” She sighed, as the young one ran to her mother.
Bathsheba? I told you to stay with Zahara and Markus!” Reh looked down at his daughter, but Malice couldn’t help but kneel down and pick her up; her rage starting to melt away as Bathsheba giggled.
“I missed you!” She giggled again. “The bad man, he tried to take Ben away from Daddy!” Her daughter told her, her eyes so filled with life and her voice, echoing deep into her Mother’s mind.
“But Ben hit him with a lightning bolt, right in the butt.” She told her, and then pulled her hands up to her lips as if she spewed a whole list of profanities.
“I hurt him worse though!” Malice laughed, and Reh laughed, and soon enough, the whole room was laughing; but deep down, Malice knew that this was just the beginning.
She felt the guilt rise, knowing what was to come. Knowing that she would have to leave Reh and her children, yet again. She would have to leave them, in search of a Madman who had threatened not only the Verse itself, but that bastard, had tampered with her children; and she wouldn’t rest, until his blood stained her hands.
“Come, Bathsheba!” Zahara smiled at the young,
“Let your parents spend a moment, and we’ll go see if the Angel is winning yet!”
“Winning at what?” Malice cocked a brow at the female with the long red and black hair, but she knew.
“Oh, if he’s playing Hidachi without me...” Nyx puffed up all rough and tough like.
“I may need some backup, Shebes!” He grinned at the little female, and held out his hand.
“Come, help me show them how it’s done!” For a Demon who spent most of his time scaring folks, he sure knew how to make the little ones laugh; and Malice too, as she watched her daughter giggled at the Demon, and take his hand so she could lead him to victory!
“Shebes?” Reh inquired, and Mia laughed.
“We’ll work on it!” She replied and carried on, making her way after her mate.