Mal sat at her desk in the Null going over the scrolls of the day that Ellaria had sent over. Every day without fail El and Ashlyn would pick through the scrolls that would help fill the still enormous gaps in her memory. The one person she wanted to forget she never could. When Mia brought in another handful of scrolls Mal groaned.
“What do I look like, the Encyclopedia Galactica?” The Queen of the Valkyrie asked. Mia looked at Mal who still looked the same as the day they had first seen each other. There had been some mellowing but she’d never dare tell the Valkyrie that. No living creature wanted to fight her.
“Your the one that was all fired up about being Queen and finding the temple. Well, here we are sitting on the spoils of our victory.” Mia started to trail off and Mal finished.
“And with every other army, I’ve ever served in no victory until the paperwork is finished. I wonder if Sigrun has that printed on her wall?”
“She is not a bad ol’ gal for being a couple of billion years old,” Jack added knowing that the elder was in the other room.
Both he and Gil were very respectful and more than a little in awe of Sigrun which amused her Great Grandmother. Both of them were there since the finding of the temple every Valkyrie within reach had seen it including her nieces, all four of them.
Mal was amazed by how young they were. As shiny as a newly minted copper penny. Mist just looked lovingly at them as they stood in what could only be an awed huddle while Malice walked around them, then hugged and kissed each one to many tears.
“Thank you, Jack.” Sigrun began then she saw her granddaughter’s face.
“What is it my heart?”
“I was thinking of Mist’s daughters, It was the same thing I said when Bathsheba and Ben were born I could scarcely believe how young they were. I have no memories of my childhood Amme. I know all of these faces but none of the names. There isn’t a hell cold enough for what Pathen did to me.”
“Well, this might cheer you up,” Sigrun said as she handed Mal an actual book along with a box with a bunch of archive crystals in it. They were small multi-colored square cubes about a quarter inch in size. Mal looked wonderingly at the elder then at the objects themselves.
Sigrun picked up one of the cubes placing it in the middle of Mal’s palm. Mia and the rest gathered around as the Valkyrie held it up to the light.
Okay, it’s a weird ass colored sugar cube. At least that is what Mia thought before Malice dropped the cube in her sister’s wife’s hand.
As soon as it contacted Mia’s skin a voice was heard in her mind, it was Malice’s own. It was higher, younger but it was distinctly her.
(Dear Diary,) it began before Mia handed it back with her right eyebrow lifting into her hairline.
Mist heard the voice in her head and came running into the room looking at the book and the box Mal was looking through.
When her sister laid her hand on her shoulder the Queen looked up.
“It’s your journal from when?” Mist said excitedly as her sister looked at the date encoded on the cube.
“It’s from our graduation day from the Academy, the day we met Belvaya.”
Mia perked up and grinned.
"This sounds like fun!” Mia said as she joined hands with Mist and Mal.
Jack just shook his head as he walked off with Sigrun. Mal concentrated on the cube.
The Academy, Indari---
Malice opened her eyes to a place that she had dreamed about so many times she couldn’t count. For a very long time, it had been the only place she had felt safe.
The first thing she saw was Mist coming up naked as she was born drying her hair coming out of the shower. She walked up, kissed her on the lips and walked away winking at her.
“Your turn sleepy head.”
Mal could feel the warm rush she always felt when Mist was near. She was saving herself for tonight’s graduation party.
“Put some clothes on before I lose control will you.” Mal joked before she jumped in the shower.
As she bathed in the nearly scalding water Mal thought about her life to this point. This was the final time she thought she would have to have fun.
“A Valkyrie has duties that she must perform and that duty is her life.” Ashlyn had ground that into the young woman’s very bones from the time they both were little.
That wasn’t enough for Mal fighting and choosing where expected. Where was the fun? All of Ashlyn’s explanations seemed positively boring. So before they got dragged back to the Null and her watchful foster father and mothers she decided she wanted to have fun as normal people did.
(We aren’t normal people Mal. Besides, do you really want to get drunk and puke like “The boy” does.)
The boy was a handsome very talented Kohrmhian peasant or at least that is what they had been able to find out. He had started out with them at the academy and sort of wormed his way into Mals affections.
“Well the boy and I have a date, I’ll keep him out of trouble.”
Mist looked at her sister, her dark right eyebrow raised.
“And who’s going to keep you out of trouble?”
“Isn’t that what I keep you around for Mist?”
Malice's sibling just put her face in her palm shaking her head.
“Okay, I have to stop for a minute.” Mia cut in as the memory played out. “You’re telling me that we’re watching her past?”
Could the others hear her? Was this a read-only vision? No tampering with the timeline?”
“It’s her journal!” Kember smiled, very much aware of Mia’s inquiry.
“You can hear me?”
“We can all hear you!” Malice mumbled, but her younger self continued to comb her long blonde hair. “Just watch!”
Mia wasn’t too sure how she felt about this. Watching the Valkyrie’s life unfold before her was a little unnerving, but then so was her life with Mal now.
Malice Junior had finished combing her hair, tied it back in a bun atop her head, and was now rummaging through her closet for something to wear. It was indeed Graduation day, she wanted to look her best for the boy.
“Welcome to the other side of the looking glass Alice. Don’t worry Sigrun’s got a little set of cubes for you too sister-wife.” Malice said as she watched her younger self get dressed.
“Does that mean I have to start a diary?” Mia complained as she looked at her sister wives. Kember chuckled as the Valkyrie rolled her eyes.
“No the recordings are automatic once you put that bracelet on,” Mal explained as her younger self dressed in her formal court ceremonial blacks. From a box on the shelf, she pulled her silver circlet with the wings.
“And no these scenes can’t be influenced. There’s no difference from what’s been going on your entire life anyway. If I know Nana and Pops they’ve documented everything since your first scowl.”
Malice fell silent as she watched herself put on a black Kohrmhia gown, the strapped throwing knives to her outer thighs, she put on her shoes then called her sibling.
“Mist, could you help me please?”
When she entered her sibling kissed Malice on the back of her neck as she took her sister’s circlet placing it on the top of her head pinning it in place.
Mal then did the same for Mist. Then the two of them touched foreheads in the ancient Valkyrie gesture of intimacy.
“Let go face the rest of our lives together.” Mist said in a whisper, then she kissed Malice.
“Together always.” Came Mals reply before there was a discreet knock at the door. In walked Ashlyn who hugged and kissed both of them.
“Congratulations to you both Sisters.” Their mother said.
That one small phrase made the last few years worthwhile. Ashlyn finally addressed them as equals.
Mia continued to watch as the two Valkyries laughed together, as she did she remembered her own childhood. She, Madrina and Zahara had spent the first hundred years of their lives together. They’d gone to that very same Academy, studied and partied, well Zahara had partied. It was around that time that Madrina had started swooning over her Angel. Everything she did was to impress him, or their Mother.
“Did you see him yesterday?” The Malice of the past giggled, following Mist and Ashlyn into the small sitting room that adjoined their bedrooms.
“Who?” Ashlyn inquired, and Mist shook her head.
“It seems Malice has taken a fancy to one of the boys in her Ancient Runes class!” Mist sighed, pretending that her heart was swooning. Complete with clasped hands and fluttering lashes.
“You’re just mad because you don’t have a date for the after party!” Malice shot back, tucking a strand of her hair away with a pin.
“Hold up!” Mia cut in, breaking the mood in the room. “That can’t be Malice!” She laughed, and Kember shook her head.
“Come on!” Mia teased, “I’ve never seen her get all dolled up for a date!”
“Because you met her the day you crashed her wedding!” Kember rolled her eyes. “And I kind of like this Malice!”
“Who is this boy?” Ashlyn’s voice drew them back to the memory at hand.
“She doesn’t even know his name!” Mist chuckled, and Malice launched a pillow at her.
“It’s more mysterious that way!” Malice grinned at their mother and went back to pinning back her hair. “And his eyes.”
“Oh Gods, here we go!” Mist shook her head and turned from the sitting room.
“I like this Mist!” Mia laughed again. Watching the Valkyrie drop her towel as she sailed through the door into her room to get ready herself.
Mist looked at her sister’s wife before she crossed her eyes and stuck her tongue out at Mia.
“I haven’t changed that much.” The dark-haired Valkyrie said as she kissed Mia on the cheek.
“We all have changed, that’s what happens with time Mist,” Kember told her as she squeezed Mal.
Back in the recording Malice was explaining to her mother about “The Boy.”
“Hes Kormhian and devilishly handsome.” Malice explained. “Hes studying to be a mage.”
Ashlyn raised her eyebrow at Malice’s description. Anyone that was devilishly handsome in her daughter’s opinion was worth taking a look at as a potential son in law.
“Is he graduating with you two?” The elder asked.
“He is ranked third in our class behind Mist and I. He knows more about ancient runes than anyone.” The younger Valkyrie explained.
When Ashlyn had heard of Malice’s interest in the boy before now. As a precaution, she had started an investigation of her own.
“Well, I don’t have to remind you two to be careful. Our enemies have many spies.” The Elder Valkyrie reminded them.
“Let’s get a move on girls. El and Eroch are downstairs awaiting our arrival.”
No doubt, these were the award-winning year-end projects. Their creators were about to embark on some incredible journey in the worlds of art and engineering. Some Sovereign somewhere would be in need of their skills, their lives would be set. Malice had to laugh because it almost sounded too easy. To be handed something, just like that.
“Oh Gods!” Mist gasped, as she and her sister looked up towards the stage, or rather, to the left of it. “Is that, Kalvashian Shimmer Wine?”
Her sister was almost drooling. Malice had no taste for the stuff, it was like a magical explosion of summer berries and fizzy bubbles. No, she liked her drink to burn. She wanted to feel the scorch to know that she was still alive.
“I believe it is!” Ashlyn replied as both she and Malice watched as Mist took off for a glass.
“And just think, after tonight, she can leave the Academy and visit Kalvash for her own supply!” Malice laughed, but her mother raised her brow with a smirk.
“Malice, if you believe for one second that I am unaware as to your nightly jaunts, you are sadly mistaken, my child!” Ashlyn broke out into tears, unable to control the giggles. “And not as smart as I thought you were!”
It was true, the Academy locked down after a certain time, for safety reasons. They didn’t want their students to get caught up in what some called the ′ real world’ yet.
Malice and Mist had visited it often; exactly how, was the big secret. Located on Indari, it was run by the Elementals, the Academy was said to be impenetrable. No one in, no one out. Many different races had come to study within its walls, though considered neutral ground, it was guarded like a bloody fortress.
Thankfully, Malice not only knew where to escape but also who to bribe with her wiles to get there. You had to know where to look. Which circles to hang around in order to obtain good secrets. Malice loved gathering secrets.
“I know all about the portal beneath the library, so does Fera.” Ashlyn shook her head. “If she for one second, knew that two of her students were using it to dilly dally through the galaxies.”
Her mother was not impressed. However in honor of Malice’s night, she kept her voice down and her tone sweet, a graceful smile upon her face.
“We were safe, I assure you!” Malice replied as Lord Eroch made his way towards her.
Mal turned to see her foster father with Mist on his arm and El on the other side she ran up and embraced the Lord of the Dark and then Ellaria.
“Congratulations, Valkyrie, well done,” Eroch said after kissing her.
“Thank you Pop’s for everything,” Mal said softly before turning her attention to El.
Thank you, Nana, for my life.” The young Valkyrie whispered as she embraced her foster mother. Tears were falling as El conjured a handkerchief.
As Ellaria repaired the damage caused by the tears drying Mal’s eyes. Just then the boy showed up. He just appeared from thin air about five feet away letting Mal and her family have a private moment.
Malice walked toward the young male and kissed him before leading him by the hand towards her family.
Ashlyn left Ellaria’s side as she walked toward the boy. He, on the other hand, swallowed hard as he looked at the Elder Valkyrie and the rest. The Elder stalked around the young man turning toward Malice with a wink.
(That’s quite the graduation present you have there. You lucky girl.)
Ashlyn looked the young man over speculatively as did El. Eroch frowned.
“Do you know who I am?”
“Y-yes ma’am, er Great Lady.” The swarthy young man replied.
“Do you have a name? “The Boy” just seems rude.” The Elder continued.
“Ptah Tennen ma’am. Mal calls me Pat.”
(So he does have a name, who knew?) Mist added her two cents.
Ashlyn ignored the remark then looked “Pat” directly in the eyes looking deep into his eyes before she spoke in a deadly whisper.
“Break my daughter’s heart and I’ll break your back.”
Ptah swallowed hard again as he nodded affirmatively. He knew from the Elder Valkyrie’s tone that she meant every word.
“I’ll protect her feelings as if they were my own G-great Lady,” Ptah replied.
“See that you do young man,” Eroch told him. “It’s a bad idea to anger Ashlyn.”
“Stop trying to scare him off.” Malice told her mother and foster father.
Ellaria just looked at Ptah for a moment as the young Valkyrie wrapped her arm around the boys waist.
(Keep an eye on him Mal.) Her foster mother warned her. The younger woman nodded before replying.
(Have you seen something Nana?) Malice asked.
She knew her foster mother sometimes had prophetic visions. Brief but important glimpses of the future.
(I haven’t seen anything that could be a threat, it’s just a feeling of dread. Don’t worry about it now Malice. Go enjoy your evening with your young man.)
And enjoy the night she did. How could she not? With a drink and good company, not to mention the food. It was all to die for, such a magnificent display for this year’s graduates. She laughed. She danced. The night was full of life, and so too, was Malice. From the dinner table to the dance floor, and then a few quick farewells then she and Mist were on their way to their classes graduation party. No parents, no more supervision, just she and her sister, and that scrumptious little morsel, Ptah.
“What’ll it be?” The female waitress asked her, the moment they walked through the gates of the inns garden where the festivities were being held.
The woman was tall and lanky looking, with short brown mop of hair along with bright red lips. She was wearing an apron and carrying a tray. Her smile was forced and her eyes vacant as she took their order, promising to return with their drinks in a moment.
“This is incredible!” Mist squealed, the Shimmer wine from earlier having taken away her edge.
Malice had yet to reach the state but had in mind a plan to get totally hammered. What did she have to lose? Nothing!! She’d graduated, and her grades could no longer be held over her head. Nope, the only thing she had to do tonight was party her face off, perhaps have a little fun with Ptah, forgetting about the Verse until morning.
“Here is your shimmer wine, and your Scotch!” The waitress with the bob had returned, her tray filled with drinks with her eyes still vacant.
Obviously, someone wasn’t enjoying themselves.
“Thanks!” Malice replied, gazing out over the event.
It was indeed an incredible sight. Males and females of all different races, celebrating their achievements in fancy attire with grin covered faces. Glorious was an understatement. The Academy had gone all out. With everyone dancing beneath the stars, surrounded by hedges along with the floral decor.
Once again, the Artists had come together in whimsical fashion. The lawn was covered in intricate pieces in different variations of the Academy colors, but what really rocked the night, was the giant globe that hovered above them all. Like a beacon in the night, it flashed and glimmered as it spun in the air.
“I want one!” Malice grinned, sipping her Scotch.
“Want one what?” She heard a voice from behind her and turned to see Ptah smiling back at her.
“One of those globes!” Malice giggled, staring into eyes that reflected that mesmerizing glow.
Oh he was handsome. With shoulder length brown hair and eyes like diamonds, Ptah was most definitely her favorite toy.
“Allow me!” He smiled and produced an orb in his hand as beautiful as the above.
Malice gasped, as she watched it shrink down to the size of a small stone, along with a chain magically appeared.
“May I?” He asked, holding it up for her to see.
“Oh Gods, it’s beautiful!” She giggled like a schoolgirl, as Malice turned so he could fasten the clasp.
Dressed in a gold-colored gown with a black lace corset and trim, the pendant matched perfectly. “So are you!” He grinned sheepishly. That’s when Mia burst out laughing, drawing their attention away again.
“Oh Gods, Mal! You look so innocent. What happened?” She kept laughing as Kember scolded her.
“I’d love to see your journal!” The Witch huffed and shook her head.
“I’ll tell you. Today, I went hunting. I caught my target. The end.” Mia howled until she felt the pillow smack her in the face.
“Are you done?” Malice inquired, waiting for Mia to settle down.
“Do you see why you can’t take her to the movies?” Madrina laughed.
“I know, right!” Malice cut in.
“You guys are no fun!” Mia huffed, “Just get back to your little romance then!”
Mal chuckled at her wives as they watched the scene unfold. Mist had wandered off talking to one of her classmates.
Then a movement caught her eye. When she looked toward the entrance she saw one of the most strikingly attractive young females with white hair like Ashlyn’s with blue highlights.
Slightly shorter than the two Valkyries she looked around cautiously.
Ptah followed Mal’s intent gaze to the female. He understood the Valkyrie well. She was attracted to anyone beautiful and exotic.
(Find a new potential conquest Mal?) Ptah asked. She nodded.
(She definitely looks like fun.)
Mal followed the other young woman with her eyes before she saw the dark-haired man moving behind her, that’s when she saw the glitter of a finely made steel dagger.
“Weapon, ware right!” Mal called out as without thinking summoned one of her spheres to throw at the young woman’s assailant. As soon as the transparent violet tinted sphere formed it rocketed away.
The ball impacted his feet. When it contacted the floor it wrapped him up inside the sphere that floated toward the ceiling.
The young woman spun kicking the second man toward the doors. Mist had another one bent over the bar, proceeding to pound the crap out of him.
Mal in the meantime had made her way towards the white-haired woman. When she got there she stood back to back with the other female.
Suddenly another assassin appeared with a javelin. When he threw it the Valkyrie caught the incoming projectile, then threw it back burying its razor-sharp point deep in his chest.
“Anyone else want to try their luck?” Mal said in a cold whispering voice. The other woman looked at the young Valkyrie. Those intense grey eyes were smiling.
“Thank you for your help Valkyrie. I’m Belvaya but anyone who saves my life can call me Bel.”
Malice shook the other woman’s hand as she introduced herself. She could feel the electricity between them.
“Now, if you will excuse me, I have a business to tend to!” The female grinned, staring past Malice and Ptah, across the dance floor to where another scuffle had broken out.
“It seems you have your own business to tend to before the Angels arrive to cart everyone away!”
“Well, I had thought about it, but Angels are a lot of fun to tease!” Malice chuckled, following the female’s gaze.
Three, maybe four young males, all of them clearly drunk, were attempting to outdo one another with their skills. Plumes of blue smoke billowed from one set of hands while sparks flew from another. There were shouting and cursing, a few scorched eyebrows along with smoldering clothes. Quite the sight, until someone unleashed an orb. Half the students on the dance floor had disappeared fleeing in an attempt not to be part of the melee.
“I think you’re right!” Malice turned back to the female with long white and blue hair, only to find her gone without a trace. “Where’d she go?”
“Whoa!” Ptah shuddered, taking in the excitement. “You, uh, want to get out of here?” He asked as the scuffle turned into an all-out brawl, it was on the verge of becoming a riot.
Did she want to get out of there? Yeah, she did, but the sudden glimpse of long dark hair along with the shimmer of steel. Malice had changed her mind, dashing into the crowd that had formed.
“Malice?” Ptah called after her, but there was no time, as a moment later she plucked a dagger from the air a mere heartbeat from her sister’s back.
And where were those Angels now? Malice thought before pocketing the blade for later in the flap of her corset. There’d be time for analysis when she wasn’t dodging fists in her formal wear.
“Thanks!” Mist gasped when the realization of Malice’s act had set in, followed by the sight of her eyes lighting up. Then the shimmer Mist caught off the orb that was forming behind her.
No sooner had Mist spoken her name, Malice felt the heat against her back. In a heartbeat, raised her hand to catch the small but lethal magenta colored ball of light. She had no idea who’d lost such a weapon against her. Did they also own the dagger she’d hidden in her corset?
Blood boiling as her mind rolled with the questions, Malice held that tiny orb in her palm. Glaring at all who circled her the Valkyrie looked for her foe.
“Mal put it down!” She heard her sister’s voice, but someone had dared to try hurting her.
“Malice?” Another voice echoed through the night, as those who stood watching now began to disappear.
“Put it away, Malice!” Ptah insisted.
“It was lost against me.” She replied, though she could not refuse him.
“We will learn the truth soon enough!” Ptah replied with a smile on his face. “Just put the orb away!”
It was true, an orb was a mass of power and light and would blind all who were hit by it. In the hands of a Valkyrie such as Malice, it was a weapon of mass destruction.
Malice looked at Ptah a moment with her face underlit by the red sphere of power. She looked positively demonic. Some of these people had taken pleasure in harassing her.
She was no longer a student nor was she bound by the Academy’s rules. Mal concentrated ramping up the sphere to deep violet. An angry buzzing orb black at the center, she made it rise to the level of her eyes.
“Mal put it away you’ve proven your point,” Ptah told her. Both he and Mist could feel Malice gathering the heightened emotional energy. It gave the young Valkyrie an almost unlimited source of power.
“As you wish,” Mal said as she dismissed it, popping the sphere like a soap bubble. Mist, Mal, and Ptah, then made a beeline for the doors they had better things to do then spend a night in jail.
As Mal left the party the woman that the Valkyrie had saved watched from above. The Valkyrie Malice was far more skilled and powerful than even she had been told. They were three excellent candidates if she included the boy.
Mal and the rest had watched for any other foes as they made their way back to their rooms. By the time they got there, the other students had a huge bonfire set up in the courtyard. When they spotted the trio one of the other students handed Mal a burning torch.
“Let there be light!” Mal exclaimed as she plunged the burning brand deep into the bonfire as it blazed to life.
The rest of the gathered students cheered as one student handed each of them a tankard of mead. Malice burned the scene in her memory. The Valkyrie knew that this would be the last time that their class would be together. She looked at her sister and Ptah.
“Savor this moment.” Mal told them, “It will never come again.”
Mist looked at her sister, she had moments like this. Mal would talk sometimes like someone incredibly wise and ancient dwelled inside of her twin.
“There are always new memories Mal. We have our whole lives ahead of us.”
(That’s what worries me.) Mal replied mind to mind on their “private” mode.
(Have you seen anything Mal?) Her twin asked.
(No but Nana has felt something, dread.)
Mist knew her sister’s intuition was seldom wrong. The attack combined with their mothers feeling meant like always they needed to keep a wary eye out for trouble.
(We’ll talk to Nana tomorrow. It might just have been the excitement caused by our graduation.)
(I hope so, Mist.) Malice replied. (I certainly hope so.)