Legend's II: Chronicle's

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Chapter 11

The dungeons beneath The Null spread out like a maze. One had to know where they were going to navigate them; or use your senses to guide you.

That was ‘if’ you were lucky enough to possess the knowledge to do so, and only on levels one through six. You went any lower, and none of your ‘gifts’ would work.

A special little measure that had been taken to ensure that never again, would the Null fall to the enemy. Didn’t help keep the enemy out, when they were already inside your fucking prison, and wreaking havoc.

Gods, this day was just getting better and better, Not! Malice had been searching for hours. Ever since that bastard had felt the cool of her steel and fallen to his knees in the war room; leaving a big, thick, sticky black mess, that Lord Eroch was probably still pissed about.

His anger though, was nothing compared to the rage that coursed through the Valkyrie’s veins at that very moment. They had tampered with her children and abducted her husband, and that was something that was so far from being acceptable in Malice’s books.

Like, who the fuck, does that? An enemy, a Shadow. It had been a Shadow who’d stepped before her, and that Shadow had danced with her blade, and lost. She knew her husband, she could hear the tones in his voice and see the look on his face; even now, she pictured those deep hazel eyes and that shaggy brown hair and beard. Those chiseled muscles.

“Fuck!” She shouted, dragging her sword across the bars, letting them ring out as the cries grew louder. “Shut that fucking racket off! Bloody bastards! Have you no sense to let the dead rot in peace!” The voice was old, shaky and haunted.

“I will forever be sorry...” Malice approached the thing’s cell, taking in the grotesque nature of its deformities. A giant lump over one shoulder. His forehead burnt and mangled, his hair falling out in patches; and his eyes... Gods, those were what nightmares were made of. Causing thousands to tremble beneath their sheets, too afraid to close their eyes; but not Malice, not today.

“First the Null falls, and my slumber is ruined! Then again, with the noise you all made the last time, and now this? Where is your Lord of Darkness? I was promised solace for my confession.”

“And you are, who?” Malice growled in reply, ever curious as she drew even closer.

“My name matters not, for my time has passed. No one remembers my deeds, both good and bad. I sleep in this darkness, waiting for my sentence to pass; and what do I get? You, a bloody Bitch, with your sword and your noise...”

“Again, I will forever be sorry...” Malice replied, her claws lengthening as she approached the door, and then the lock.

“Allow me...” She went on, a grin creeping across her face as her eyes narrowed, “... to present compensation.” She laughed, her feet moving swiftly as her sword came down across the male’s chest.

“Bloody... hell!” The male let out, his words gurgling in his throat as his lungs filled with fluid; choking the life out of him. “It is pretty bloody down here, isn’t it?” Malice chuckled, using a sliver of his shirt to wipe away the mess on her blade.

He gurgled once more, and Malice had to listen close,

“Fuck, you!” “Oh, I’m sorry, you said you wanted to be left in peace, not pieces?” She sighed, shaking her head.

“Perhaps next time you’ll think twice, about calling me a Bitch?” The sigh escaped him and those deathly haunting eyes became nothing more than little beads of black.

“Huh, maybe there won’t be a next time?” She finished with a huff. She had no idea if the thing was going to come back at all, with the Courts being over run with dead souls and all of them waiting for Judgment.

It was a definite, five hundred years before he reared his ugly ass again; and good thing too, cause the stench he was letting off, was making Malice want to vomit.

“Dammit!” She let out, looking down at the mess she had left.

“He’s not, gonna be happy about this!” She shook her head again, and turned from the cell, locking the door behind her.

The room was dark, but Navina could feel the presence all around her. She knew she was not alone, and she hoped to the Gods that her sister could help her.

“Marena?” She called out, expecting the female to reply, but she didn’t. Marena wasn’t talking to anyone; or at all. Not with her whole’ induced coma’ thing she had going on.

Like, how long was someone supposed to just sleep? And for what? Navina’s mind was‘You know why!’

The voice sighed, and the room almost seemed to grow brighter. ‘Come, tell me why you left our Lord to come and see me!’Okay, so she could talk, but only to a handful of people; and an even smaller handful could actually reply.

Navina, was one of them, thank the Gods. Mia was the other; and Markus, Malice, even Lync at times. They could all hear the words she spoke, but speaking back to her... now that was a feat!

It drove Malice crazy, and Navina felt as if that was the problem. You put Malice and Marena in the same room, even mentioning Marena’s name in her presence.

Malice couldn’t control her anger when it came to Marena, her rage was just too great. She had loved her, and lost her; only to find her again, shattered, broken. They had ruined what she was.

'I am far from ruined, my sister!’ Now that sounded, strange. Her sister...

‘Well I am! We were sired by the same male, born under the same moon to the same, wretched female...’As if Navina needed to be reminded. She had watched that vision play out, over and over again; and it was getting old.

‘It is what happened, Navina. We cannot hide from it, only embrace it; for it makes us who we are!’‘Daughters of a whore? And trapped in a prison our so called protectors, have made for us?’

She snapped back with her mind, shouting at the top of her lungs, though no words escaped her lips.

‘Nonsense! We are Kor’Mhia, Navina! Foran, was our Father...’ ‘The son of Pathen, oh joy! Well our so-called grandfather is out for blood. Our blood, Marena!’

There is blood being shed even now, and yet instead of guiding them, you are here...Why?’

’I’ve told them all I know, but it’s not enough! That’s why I came to you, I’m tired of all the secrets.

‘The secrets are what keep you all safe, it is why I sleep; to conceal them from worlds that are not yet ready for the horrors they will bring!’

‘I need to know more, if I am ever to help them fully!’ Navina shot back at her, and then ran her hands through her own hair. ′Did you visit with Orella?′ Marena sighed, though when Navina looked down, she witnessed no movement.

Yes!’ ‘And?’ Marena was waiting for more, but Navina had no idea what she wanted to hear; she had no idea what she even wanted to hear.

‘And, what? I don’t know what was said, I met with the female, and then the Elders whisked me away to meet some others who claimed to be our kin. They wanted nothing but to sit and talk about all I had missed. When I returned to the others, I learned that Malice too, had been taken away; that she alone, had been brought before Orella.’

They had told her of a male so powerful, whose greed was so great; but that his greed had been his undoing. They told her how her Father had been a mighty warrior, and how he had banished the male to the mountains, but that the male had sworn he’d have his revenge on the whole clan.

She had drank their mead, listened to their tales and sampled their sweets; and when they were all called away, she was returned to the main keep and told all about how Malice was part of some ceremony.

No one knew what had gone on behind those closed doors, and when the Valkyrie had exited, none said a word as they made their way back through the snow.

‘Then it is done!’ Marena sighed, like, actually sighed; and it drew Navina back to reality right quick.

‘What is done? What ceremony did Malice partake in?’

‘That is for Malice to explain, as she sees fit! But now that she has helped to seal the pact between our two peoples, and the Kor’Mhia will never refuse them now!’

‘Our two peoples? I don’t even know who my people are! The Kor’Mhia are a mystery to me...’ Navina started, but the sound of footsteps and her sister’s words, cut her off.

‘And the El’Terrans? The Valkyrie...’ Just as Malice could not bare to say Marena’s name, the same was true in reverse. They had loved, and lost; loved again, and lost.

So many lovers, so many triangles, but the bond between them, was one that even Navina could feel.

‘They are my friends, not my people!’ She told Marena. ‘And, Lync?’ Her sister sighed or real again, and Navina shuddered.

“What does he have to do with any of this?” Navina shouted out loud.

‘Do I have to remind you, that I cannot hear you when you speak in tongue! You look ridiculous with your mouth flopping about!’

‘I said, what does he have to do with any of this?’ Navina tried to compose herself; but come on, she had a right to be pissed. No one would tell her anything.

‘Your vision, he was there!’ Marena laughed, and Navina waited for her lips to move; they didn’t.

‘Tell me, Navina! Tell me that you saw it! That you saw him, and perhaps even her?’

Wait, what? Who?′ ‘The male lay him at your feet, Navina....’ More footsteps in the hall outside Marena’s room, and for a second, she felt as if he were searching for her. She could almost feel his arms wrapping around her as she watched the vision unfold before her or but a second. The bundle, the one she had seen in the vision. He had placed it at her feet, before his life had slipped away.

‘Yes, Navina!’ Marena urged her on. ‘Lync?’ Navina mumbled. It couldn’t be, no...

‘Yes!’ Marena laughed. What was she saying? That was so long ago, how could... She had saved his life.

‘Lync is that child, Navina!’

'And what did I do with him? Where did I take him? What happened to us?’ She was losing it, kind of like Malice had earlier; but this, this was stupid nuts.

How could Marena have such answers? She wasn’t there...

‘I do not hold all the answers, Navina! No one knows what you did with the child, not even the Order. That is locked in your mind, and many have fought hard to make you forget.’

‘But why? I don’t understand, why did I have to forget? What did they want?’

‘All I know is that, that night, it was his race, that was supposed to vanish, not you! That child was supposed to die with his Father, but you intervened; and that drove Pathen quite mad!’

'I know that story, I want to know why it pissed him off so bad. What was so important, that Lync and his kind, whatever they are, had to die? What big plans, included the mass murder of an entire race?’

‘I do not know Navina, but there is a reason why Pathen did not want him to survive, and the two of you ranked higher on his list, than even the Valkyries.’ Marena sighed, one last time, before the knock on the door arose.

‘Malice’ Navina asked, ‘What did he have against Malice?’

‘Besides being a Valkyrie, and the niece of Janice? How about the fact that she was my...’

‘She was your what, Marena? Your lover? We already know all that.’The knock came again.

‘She was far more than that! Far more! And from what, I can remember, that alone would cause Pathen to head for war.’

‘Why? Why in all of this Verse, would he go to war, over Malice?’

‘It is hard, not to fight, for the one you love!’ Marena sounded as if she were weeping, and the shudders ran through Navina. What the hell was she saying? Pathen, loved, Malice? When? How? Where? Did Malice know this?

‘My mission was to recruit her, for him! He wanted a mate as formidable as her, but when I... I just couldn’t...’Again with the knocking, and then the banging.

“For the love of all that is sacred, would you just go away?” Navina shouted, and then turned back to Marena.

‘You knew what was coming, and you gave her the scrolls. You sent her away!’ Navina gasped, as she saw what Marena was seeing; heard, what she was hearing.

‘I had no choice, he was going to turn her, and I could not let that happen!’

‘Oh Gods, Marena! ’ Navina muttered, and yet another knocked on the door.

“Navina?” His voice was loud and commanding.

“Navina, are you in there?”‘Fuck! Tell me how do you know all of this?’ She was running out of time; and then it hit her, the fog surrounded her as the door crashed open.

‘I, was Pathen’s body slave, I did for him, whatever he wished; and I was present for most of his business meetings. He allowed me to hear some things, and hid others.’

Where were they? Was she in Marena’s memories?

‘Is that how you know about Lync? That was so long ago?’

‘Pathen was not just observing time, he was traveling through it, Navina! I may not have seen what happened that night, but when Malice told me of the incident.’

‘Excuse you? How the fuck did Malice know?’

‘She was there, because she was sent there, on his orders.’ ‘And she told you this in a fit of sexual pleasure, right?’ Navina rolled her eyes.

“She hasn’t said anything.′

‘No, she told me, for I was the one the assassin was to report to; I gave her Pathen’s orders.’ Marena tried to explain. ‘And she hasn’t said anything, because she doesn’t remember. I couldn’t let her remember.’

With thatMarena’s mind was closed to her. There were no more words, no more sighs, just a peaceful sleep, as it had been before.

“Don’t do this, Marena! I need to know!” Navina shouted at her, and felt the hands on her shoulders as she pulled herself from the floor.

“It’s alright!” His voice shot through her. “I’ve got you!” The one and only constant, the one and only thing that kept her grounded, was Lync. Gods, how was she supposed to explain this to him?

“You don’t have to!” He groaned, burying his face in her neck. “And no, I can’t explain it, but I can hear every whisper that comes from your mind.” He kissed her ear. “I know, that you will figure it out, and that’s all, I need, to know!” He groaned, kissing his way to her ear.

Oh Gods, he knew exactly what to say, exactly what to do... He was her everything, and she had... she had saved him from Malice.

“She will understand!” Lync growled in her ear, “Lord Eroch, not so much!”

“I don’t think she will!” Navina mumbled, ignoring that last part.

“There’s too much... too much happening, all at once!”

“She is Valkyrie, Vina! She is stronger than any female I have met, save one..” He growled again, leading her towards the door.

“Now come, we will find Malice, and we will set this right; or die, trying!” He added with a chuckle.

Navina couldn’t argue with him, she never could. Perhaps, that was why Pathen feared him.

And Malice? Pathen, loved, Malice? For real? That was not going to go over well, not one bit. Perhaps, she would save that little morsel, until after Reh was found, and on the mend; for the Valkyrie was going to find her husband, wherever the Shadow had hidden him.

“Who is that?” Kember choked out, trying so hard to cover the stench that crept into her nose.

“Answer me, you fool, who lays here beside you?” She knew she had to help find Reh, but the stank was making it very hard to concentrate; the need to vomit was rising in her gut.

He was down here, Navina had seen as much as to where the female had gotten off to though. All Kember had said was that Pathen would pay for all his treachery; and bam, she was gone down a side tunnel and Kember was all alone.

Had she pissed her off? Not exactly the right time to be abandoning the quest; seeing as how she probably knew more than the rest of them.

One vision, and she knew who had infiltrated the biggest, baddest prison there was. One vision was all it took to put them on the right track to finding Reh; and he was down here in the dungeons, out cold from whatever that Shadow had given him.

The only question that remained was where? They were all searching, even Lord Eroch who had ventured deep into thirteen; someone had to know, or have seen something.

You go down there to bury someone, not hide them!’ Nyx had shuddered, as they looked upon the hole and that winding metal staircase that led down into the black. It had not stopped the Lord of Darkness, and without a second thought, the male had vanished, only to return a short while later.

Didn’t take long, with only four cells to search, and with two of them empty...

Twelve, Kember was told, was much of the same; though there were fifteen cells, only half of them contained ‘guests’ as Lord Eroch liked to call them. Both levels, clear, and not one sign of Reh; or anyone out of the ordinary for that matter.

Eleven was far too creepy for her, but here she was on Ten, and that shit, was intense. Fifty two cells. Nothing compared to Nine with eight seven, but come on, Ten was definitely registering high on her ‘ick’ radar.

There were hundreds of souls locked away down each tunnel, the cells overflowing with rapists and murderers and those unfortunate enough to have chosen the wrong side. She had scoured what she could, and made back for a torch to light the way to the rest. The stench, the shadows, it would be easy for one to get lost down here.

Kember had to make sure she didn’t get lost; she had one last passageway to check.

“Hey?” She called out, but there was no answer from the hump covered in a blanket, in the corner of the cell.

“You gonna answer me?” She hissed at him, her patience running thin. This was the last cell down the corridor, and there were two occupants, though the charts only read one.

“Hello?” She rattled against the bars, and two Kalvashian Rangars let loose with their howls nearby. There was some bitching and complaining, a few hollers for her to bend over, and then a round of cackling laughter as they all applauded the bastard.

None of it frustrated her more, than the asshole sitting before her, with his back against the wall and the blanket pulled up around his throat.

“Fuck, me, man!” Kember growled, taking one of the pins from her hair, and using it to pick the lock. She didn’t have time to wait for Lord Eroch, or Markus, as they were down another hall, scouring their own cells.

“Wake the fuck up!” She shouted at the male, but he did not move as she opened the cell door.

“This shit, is getting old!” She rambled on, inspecting the chains that led out from beneath the blanket. Seemed to be good, and she reached for the blanket.

It all happened so fast, the way he rose from the ground and spun her around, throwing her into the wall.

“Fuck you, eh?” The voice vibrated through her and all she could think of was her bracelet. If she could just... As his lips dragged up her neck and his words filled her ears, she fought hard to bring her hands together, just long enough, to press that little red button.

“He said you would come.” The voice dug deep into her mind, but it was too late, and she could feel the armor expanding outwards, and then the blood curdling screams as the metal sliced through the male’s fingers, and clipped the tip of his nose when the metal closed in and secured itself around her.

There was no masking the sounds of his pain, and Kember grinned as she watched him writhe on the floor.

“Never, touch me!” She spat at him, and saw the chains that she thought were secure, lay rusted and broken on the floor. Someone had set him free...

“Malice?” His words filled the cell, and Kember drew the sword that had appeared at her side.

“Malice, is that you?” He called out again, his voice shrouded in confusion and concern.

“Reh?” Kember let out, “Oh Gods, Reh!” She dropped her sword, letting it fall beside the male who could no longer hold it, that he could a fork.

“What has he done to you?” She gasped, as she fell to her knees beside him.

“Where is Malice?” He croaked out, his throat dry and hoarse.

“She is safe, and searching for you! Come on, I’ve got you!” Kember tried to raise him off the ground, but Reh groaned in protest.

“No, no! I can’t. They...” He started, but he was so weak. “... my legs.” He threw his head back against the wall.

“I can’t move!” “I’ll get help! You’ll see, she’ll come for us, just watch!” Kember tried to assure him that he was safe, as she pressed against her bracelet once more, and waited for the Valkyrie to find them.

"She’ll come! She always does!”

“Hey, Mal?” Nyx called out to her, “I think this level is clear...”

“Fuck!” She hissed in reply, her blood seething with rage. “That’s seven levels so far, and nothing...”

“We’ll find him!” The Demon assured her, and Malice could still feel the beating of his heart, so he was alive; for now.

“I will kill him for this, even if it goes against every rule in the book!” Malice warned him.

“Have you seen, who I’m mated to?” Nyx rolled his eyes, “Mia despises rules, they fly left right and center, all the fucking time!”

“Just so we’re clear!” She added in a calm voice, her ears perking to a distant sound.

“On what? The fact that you’ve gone psycho? I think we’re clear on that!”

“On the fact that if the time comes, and you are ordered to stop me...” She paused, looking him straight in the eyes, “I will kill you, to get to Pathen!”

“Ouch, Malice! That hurts!” He scowled at her. “Not the actual killing, but the fact you’d think I’d actually let you kill him, before I did!”

“Won’t hurt as much as Sax’s blade will!” She grinned at him, and the fucker burst out laughing. She was completely, and utterly, dead serious. She would fillet the asshole and not think twice, just to feel that sweet taste of revenge.

“Come, let’s...” Nyx started with a sigh, but Malice raised her hand and cocked her head to the side. “Kember?” Malice whispered, having heard the call within the silence.

“What now?” The Demon growled. With one look, the Valkyrie grinned at Nyx, held out her hand, and the moment their fingers connected, they were gone. Malice had blinked them both to where she felt the pull, and as Nyx took in the sights around him, Malice went to searching.

“I’m here, Kember!” She whispered into the air, whipping past the open cell doors, down one corner and around another.

Malice?” She heard her name, but she had no time to stop for the Lord of Darkness, she had to find.

“Oh fuck...” She let out, racing as fast as she could into the very last cell on the right, and landing in a pile on the floor, elbows deep in the carcass of a dead..

“Shit!” She added, feeling the need to vomit.

Yo, Malice?” Nyx called out, but then, so did another. “Malice?” Her voice was shaky, and Malice could not believe the sight when she looked up.

“Kember?” Huddled in a corner, shaking like a leaf on the wind and covered in blood, was her female with the long black hair; and laying with his head in her lap, was Rehoboam.

“Malice? Is it really you?” Kember inquired, drawing her sword over Reh to protect him.

“Oh Gods, Kember, yes! It’s really me.” Kember let out a long sigh, and Malice heard the clink as the sword fell to the floor.

“He’s hurt, Malice, he can’t... walk.” “What?” Malice asked, searching her husband for... “Shit!” She hissed, pulling back his blanket and gazing at the wounds that had already begun to fester.

Swiftly, she moved closer and knelt beside Reh, laying her hands on him as a soft, blue-white light flowed over him. Like a security blanket, it would shield them from it all, bringing with it the life giving essence of the Valkyries themselves. She healed as much as she could, but the damage to his legs was extensive, and she feared he may have already lost too much blood.

“We need Markus!” Malice shouted back to Nyx, “Find him!” With a nod of his head, Nyx was gone out the cell door, running at full speed, leaving the three of them alone in that tiny cell. Malice hurried to check Reh over, his legs were mangled, his breathing labored, and his pulse was hovering a few millimeters above dead. “

Hang on, my love!” She whimpered, nudging in next to Kember and running her fingers through his hair. “You’ll be alright!”

“I’m sorry!” Kember sighed, watching as the wife took care of her husband, and all seemed so wrong in the world.

“No...” Malice let out, gazing over her blood stained armor, and then at the male on the floor.

“It is I, who must apologize, Kember, for ever doubting your skills.” Malice smiled through the tears.

“I should have known better. I should have...”Be silent, a Valkyrie never shows fear when death is near,” Malice hushed her, hearing the sound of footsteps, and the shouts of voices.

“Down here...” She heard the Demon say, and the footsteps quickened.

“There...” He pointed out, just as a tall, bright figure, appeared over top of her.

“Fuck, Homie! You said it was bad, but...” The Angel barked out, “Get Markus in here.” He ordered, and the Vampire appeared beside him.

"Shit!” He hissed, dropping to one knee and pulling up his sleeve. “What are you doing?” Malice lashed out at him, but one look at Kember, and the Witch had her arms around the Valkyrie so fast.

“They have to, Malice! It’s the only way...” She purred into her ear, holding her close as Nyx and Nissa lifted Reh out of Kember’s lap, and positioned him on a stretcher.

“Hold him still!” Markus ordered, dropping his fangs so they caught in the candle light, and scored his wrist.

“Steady...” “What the fuck?” Malice shouted again, the fear mixing with the anger inside her, making it hard to concentrate, hard to...

“It’s okay, Malice, I’ve got you!” She heard Kember purr again, and watched the first drops land on her husband’s lips, and then a few more, as Markus lowered his wrist.

“That’s it, Buddy! Drink!” Markus encouraged him, growling with each pull. “What the hell?” Mia announced as she appeared in the doorway, taking in the scene before her. Malice, huddled in Kember’s arms, watching Rehoboam on the stretcher, and Markus...

“Where is Zahara?” She inquired, “She should be here!” “With Madrina!” Markus growled back, stretching out his neck as Reh continued to feed.

“She should be here!” Mia grumbled back at him, crossing her arms over her chest as she stood in the doorway. “No, time...” Markus growled so loud, ripping his arm away from Reh’s lips, and sealing his wound.

“No, time...” He panted, and all could see the need drawing over him. “Had to, move, fast...” “Go to her now!” Mia ordered, and when he didn’t move she cocked a brow at him, and then fed him a shot to the left cheek. “I said, go!”

“I’m fucking...” “Going! That’s right, now get your ass out of here, before I have them bring another stretcher down here! The last thing anyone needs is a hyped up Vampire running about with blue balls!” She growled back at him, meeting him face to face.

“Markus, my brother, you do not want to piss the female off!” Nyx let out, shaking his head.

“We got this, go to your female!” “I’m...” Markus started again, but Mia rolled her eyes.

“Do not make me go and get her!”

“FUCK!” His roar was so loud, and just like that, he was gone. Poof, gone!

“Uh? I didn’t think he could...” Nyx started, and then stopped, and brought his palm to his face.

“He’s not supposed to be able to do that!” Mia huffed, and got down to business, checking on Reh.

“He needs to see Mother!” She finally told them all, after examining the partially healed wounds.

“He’s been poisoned!” She added, rising from her knees. “He won’t heal without her tonics!”

“He can’t travel through the portal like this, and your vanishing act is out of the question as well!” Kember told them.

“Then how do we get him to Sanctuary?” Malice inquired. “The Shadow...” Reh managed to mumble, and all eyes were back on him.

“Did you kill it?” Reh asked before Mia lay him back on the stretcher.

Yes, my love.” She smiled down at him, and took his hand in her own, walking beside him as the others took to either side of his stretcher; and ever so gently, lifted him off the ground.

“Yes, the bastard’s dead, and our children are safe.” She smiled again, before being forced to let go and watch helplessly, as they maneuvered the stretcher up ten flights of stone stairs to the throne room.

Malice, only made it up three, before the tears took over and she found herself with her back against the wall and her fists clenched into tight little balls. There went her husband, broken and beaten.

A husband she had sworn to protect, and what had she been doing? Meditating, waiting for a battle that was happening right below her the whole time. She had failed him. Just like she had failed Marena; and Kember too, at one point.

“Hey?” Kember called her, trying to lure her back to reality.

“He’s going to be alright, Malice!” She smiled when the Valkyrie looked up at her.

“Mother will treat his wounds and rid his body of the poisons.”

“But can she rid his mind of my failure?” Malice sighed, and rose from the steps, leaning her forehead against the wall.

“I failed him. I’ve been a lousy wife.”

Hey now, that is so far from the truth, and you know it! You’re an amazing wife; and mother!” Kember corrected her.

“Right! Because I protected them so well!” Malice shook her head, and then thumped it against the wall.

“It is one thing to lose me, I’ve always been a loose cannon.” She sighed, “But to lose their Father?”

“Ben and Bathsheba will not lose their father, or their mother, Malice! They will get Rehoboam to Sanctuary, and he’ll be good as new! You’ll see!” Malice was trying to hold on to that fact, trying to grasp at the thin strands of hope that dangled before her, but she was failing, and the darkness was setting in.

“And it is I, who should bear the guilt of this horrid...” But Kember couldn’t even begin to describe the chaos that had unfolded.

If I had not been so stupid... If I had just stayed away from Tanin, or whatever his name was.” She threw her hands up in the air.

“This is all my fault! I led him to you all, I led him here. A Shadow. I put your lives in danger, all of you.” Kember couldn’t see through her tears, but she felt the palm of Malice’s hand, the fingers running through her hair, and she tried to pull away.

“It was I who ruined everything, and now your husband is...” She couldn’t say what she feared, for she had just begged Malice not to say it.

“You should go and be with him, I will tend to the mess that is left behind!” She sighed, and turned away, heading for the next step; but Malice stopped her with one hand on the back of her neck, and the other, brushing a lock of long black and blue hair out of her face.

“We should go to him!” Malice corrected her, “For I know he will want to see the face of the female who found him for me!” She smiled at her, though at the moment, everything was a blur through the tears.

“The face of one who sacrificed it all to find him, and stayed with him in his darkest hour!”

“How can you say that, when all I have done is brought misery into your lives? That Shadow, my shit for brains spells and my mother... Gods, that alone is enough to turn even the most heinous and sinister creatures to the side of light!”

“You, saved my husband for me. In my eyes, and those of everyone I will meet, that is more than enough!” She grinned wildly at her, and her lips came down on Kember’s before she could protest.

“You will come with me, and you will see that all I speak, is the truth, Kember. None deserve more praise than you.” And with that, Malice took the Witch’s hand, and brought it to her lips.

“You will always be welcomed in our hearts, and our beds!” Kissing the back of her hand to seal the deal, before pulling Kember up the stairs.

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