The smell of sulfur surrounded her as she stared off into the distance. Fire and brimstone, terror and fear. These were the things the Null had been built upon. This was what made this place the hell it truly was, as Euphamia laughed into the dark sky.
“Father, I have returned!” She called out as lightning flashed across the sky.
The universe was her playground, her reign had just begun.
Then Malice appeared before her in her full Valkyrie regalia before looking at Mia.
“About damn time you’ve returned wife. Your father gets rather cranky when you’re not here. Nyx and I’ve missed you too.”
Mal hugged then kissed her wife hard before she turned walking beside her.
“So are you here to fight with them?” The Queen asked.
Mia’s relationship with her parents was more than rocky. In the last months, the Valkyries had to play referee more than once.
She hadn’t meant to disappear. She’d been doing her duty. One that had sent her across the passages of space and time. Mia had been lost in the chaos of it all.
It was Malice who had found her, bringing her back home, but Mia had needed time. She needed to sort out her thoughts to rid her mind of the plague that haunted her. If it was war she was returning to, then let the skies open and rain down their pleas, for she was ready.
“Where is he?”
“Nyx? He’s always lurking somewhere.” Mal replied before less than a heartbeat later he was there embracing his mates.
“Take all the time that you need a wife both you and Nyx are welcome to stay with the rest of the family in the temple,” Mal told her as she wrapped her arms around Mia waist.
They had become mates which still amazed the Queen of the Valkyrie.
“Mia I’m pregnant and I’m pretty sure Nyx is the Father. The baby under construction is a female.”
“He knows!” Mia replied with a grin, “He’s been dreaming again!”
It was hard for Euphamia to say it, knowing now that it was she, who was sterile not Nyx. Just another lie that her mother had concocted ‘to keep her safe and sane’. Nyx had known all along, as had T’ryx, they’d remained by her side nonetheless. It made it easier to face the truth now, with the Demon’s first child in the womb of another.
“I’ve missed you Mia.” He said fiercely as his scent the Valkyrie and Mia bathed in was uniquely him.
Malice placed his hand on her abdomen before she deadpanned.
It took a moment for him to realize what she meant.
“A father Mal really, this isn’t one of your jokes?”
“No joke husband,” Mal said formally.
Nyx growled before pressing his ear to her abdomen. He kissed it lovingly then Mia joined him which made the Queen of the Valkyrie writhe enticingly.
“That’s how I got into this condition in the first place. I wonder how Pop’s is going to take this?”
“He’s having audiences. Probably he’s hearing some peasants excuses about not paying his taxes.” Malice chuckled. “He’s been at it awhile and needs rescuing.”
“I’ve even thought of a name for her, Tisiphone.” Malice suggested rubbing her abdomen lovingly. That peaked her mate’s interest, Malice was obviously drawing on her love of Earth along with its mythology.
“Tisiphone was the leader of the Furies in Greek mythology. The Avenger of Murder. In one source I read her parents was Nyx, the Father of Darkness. How about that for a coincidence? A fitting name for the next Crown Princess of the Valkyrie.”
Malice leads the way to Eroch’s throne room. When they entered, as usual, her foster father was listening to two men argue over a sheep. Both of the males stopped arguing when the Queen of the Valkyrie approached them. She looked at her stepfather who looked bored. Malice winked at him before speaking.
“Excuse the interruption father, may I be of aid?” Mal asked formally, as Mia and Nyx came to stand beside him.
The smell of fear that permeated the air from the men grew stronger as she spoke. Eroch these men knew, Malice was spoken of only in a whisper.
“Allow me to assist father,” Mal said simply, before turning her baleful gaze on them.
“Before I begin no doubt you know of my ability to sense the truth. Before you answer, lie to me and I’ll hang you.” Malice said as she walked around the two men. The smaller of the two backed up as she approached.
“Now who’s sheep is it?”
Mia and Nyx teased her about dealing with the riff-raff but this is what she did.
Mal waited impatiently pulling out her nail file, there was a long pause as neither man answered.
“Very well,” The Valkyrie said quietly before she put away her nail file. Then she summoned Queen Sword.
“I guess I’ll just have to give each of you half. Which way should I cut the sheep lengthwise or just in half?”
Mia rolled her eyes, this was Mal being the crazy loon she loved. Nyx was shaking his head before he called out with a chuckle.
Mal stood for a moment with both hands on the pommel of the Queen Sword. Her power setting the diamond carved into a rose into a blazing violet orb of power.
Eroch chuckled at Mal. The Valkyrie was putting on the show for the morons again. He looked down at the floor under the Valkyries feet as she raised the blade to strike. The Lord of the Dark cleared his throat to get his foster daughter’s attention.
“Daughter, If you are going to make a mess, please don’t mar the floor. We just had it fixed after you vaporized that Insidian warlord.”
Malice paused as if considering. Letting the word vaporized sink into the men’s minds. Then a noise was heard, a mental cry almost like steel tearing.
“Ahh, another country heard from! Fluffy’s hungry! Mama hasn’t given you a treat in a very long time. Peasants are so tough and stringy. How about a whole sheep? Mama’s coming!” The Valkyrie exclaimed.
Mia, Nyx, and Eroch were having a hard time keeping a straight face as Mal performed her magic on these fools.
Her apparent insanity was an act. Perfected from a time that she was unstable, but with anything, it was in the Valkyries hands a deadly weapon.
She had been watching both men closely as she spoke. The shorter of the two men patted the lamb on the head as if to say goodbye, the other looked impatient.
In that second Malice had the rope lead in the rightful owner’s hand as she seized the other man by the neck.
“Is there anything you’d like to tell me before I feed you to Fluffy?” Malice asked as she pulled the thief to her as she hissed in his face.
Eroch applauded as the peasant who owned the sheep was led away.
“Well done Mal! Where did you learn that?”
“Believe it or not my lord from Reh’s father Solomon.”
“The King from the Human Bible?”
“That would be the one.” Malice replied before she shook her prisoner again, then another cry came from Fluffy’s direction.
Without another word, Mal started dragging the hapless sheep thief behind her.
“Mal? You just said that peasants are too tough and stringy.” Mia called out, causing her wife to stop, looking at her in confusion.
“I did? What was I doing? How about playing peasant handball with him Nyx, just to tenderize him bit? As hard as you hit even I could eat him.”
Mal clapped her hands twice before speaking like a Headmistress at the Academy. As Kember, Navina, and Marena entered the throne room.
“Oh good, you’re just in time. Class, we are going on a field trip. Care and feeding of your Night-flyer.” Mal intoned before she started dragging their prisoner along again.
Instead of walking the man fell to his knees, begging her for clemency.
“Please, L-lady have m-mercy.” He stammered with his face as white as a sheet.
Malice immediately fell to her knees beside him.
“What did you say?”
“Have mercy, Lady.” He pleaded again.
Apparently, this man knew enough about the Valkyrie to know that if you pleaded for mercy and she granted it that you had just promised her you would change. The problem was you only got one chance at it. Fail to keep the promise, the ax would fall. Mal considered for a moment then spoke.
“I’ll grant your plea for clemency, don’t you dare to disappoint me. Get out of here.”
Mal watched as he ran, she wished him good luck. She turned back around to see El and Ashlyn laughing at her. Malice bowed before speaking again.
“Now where was I? Oh yeah it’s official, I’m pregnant.”
Ellaria stood smiling at her she had already known about it along with the other Elders. She had just returned from Earoth and her people, the news bringing tears that fell from her eyes once again.
“El, your eyes are leaking again!” Malice let out with a giggle. Only to feel the great female’s arm around her.
Eroch on the other hand looked at Nyx, then at Mia, his face twisted into a scowl.
“It’s alright, Father!” Euphamia smiled at the Dark Lord and nodded her head.
It was no secret that Mia was his favorite. After all, she’d endured throughout the years, he was more than a little overprotective. She was his baby. His progeny, he would have gutted the Demon where he stood, had she not approved of this. How could she not approve? Mia loved both of them.
She’d known about the love between Nyx and Malice. When word hit her ears that the Valkyrie was with child, she knew there were only a few people that Malice would have ever opened herself fully for, and Nyx was one of them.
“It would seem there is to be a celebration then?” Her father said as he gazed at her. Eyeing her up and down to be sure.
“The biggest fucking party you can manage!” Mia laughed.
“This indeed calls for celebration, Father. For Malice carries a daughter inside her belly, even though her life has not yet begun in our world, I already have a gift for her!” She called out, for the whole throne room to hear, as they watched as a shadow flickered behind her.
“Your return is gift enough!” Malice smiled back. Constantly keeping an eye on that which seemed to hover in a haze of darkness.
“But my curiosity has peaked. I must know what gift you speak of!” She finished cradling her small bump.
“My return was imminent, there is no ignoring the call of home.” Mia sighed, then her face gave way to the most wicked of grins her purple eyes lighting up like an Amethyst set in flames. “The gift, on the other hand, was most surprising!”
“You sound like Folix!” Her Father grumbled as he crossed his arms over his chest.
“Easy now, great Father!” The voice shot through the air, into the minds of all in the throne room.
A voice so eerie, the Lord of Darkness felt the shudders run through him, Ellaria gasped. “It would be wise if I left, for my light will only hinder her!”
“What?” Eroch blurted out, turning to his beloved mate. “What did you say?”
“I would like to thank you, Great Lady, it has been so long since last the light shone upon me. I fear it will burn!” The voice replied again, even Malice shuddered as Ellaria ordered her kind from the room.
“What the bloody hell is going on?” Nyx growled, standing between Euphamia and the young in Malice’s belly, his young.
“My name is Lithia, I am the last of the Dark’ir!” The female replied, as the lights dimmed for but a second, and the purple essence of her aura shone through.
“And you are the gift?” Malice questioned. The alarm registering in her voice as she felt familiar darkness creep over her. Darkness she’d hoped to have long forgotten.
“No, but she helped to reclaim it!” Mia grinned. Then when she snapped her fingers, a good sized orb appeared. Malice gasped as she saw the figure inside.
“Well well, you have been learning!” Malice’s scowl turned to a grin, as she laid eyes on the face of the male who occupied the sphere. “Is that, Nidal?”
“He is their King!” Lithia’s voice rose. “And he is now yours to do with as you please!”
Now, that was a gift, but not for a child. There was another who would relish the bastard’s return far more than her unborn ever could. “Summon the twins.” Malice shouted out. The sound of feet could be heard exiting the room amidst the eerie violet glow. “Now, why don’t you come out of the Shadows. So we can talk more about this King along with how you came to claim him!”
“She can’t!” Euphamia blurted out, rolling her eyes. “He’s locked her away, you’ll never guess where!”
Malice looked at the male in the sphere, suspicious of this Lithia. As she approached she fully armored, with the Queen Sword in her hand she feared no one. When she looked at them Mia and Nyx rolled their eyes.
“Where?” She asked sweetly.
“Southern Vash as near as I can tell,” Mia answered.
Mal’s memory went into overdrive as she remembered that Southern Vash was a dense jungle with a few scattered towns and villages, but you could lose an army in that vegetation.
“Lithia is an ally of the Valkyr, she gave us the Eno. She helped blend the Eno with the Valkyrie to create the Skyfolk during Janice’s time.”
Malice could feel the Dar’kir’s attention on her. Her own darkness answered as she allowed her armor to change color to the ominous deadly black. When then the brothers from Illios arrived Mal ran an appreciative hand over there behinds before she spoke looking at Marena.
“Let him out. It looks like Fluffy might get her treat yet.”
The sphere dissipated instantly, then Mal had him by the throat.
“Surprise!” Mal whispered in her cold deadly voice. “Well, well, Master Nidal, It seems that your fate has finally come home to roost at your door. Your mate no doubt has words for you, my pet.”
Mal waited until Marena and Navina walked up beside her. When Marena looked at Nidal his eyes went wide. If he wasn’t afraid of the Queen of the Valkyrie, he was definitely afraid of her. None of the others saw the lightning-fast right hand, that laid the would be king on his ass. Mal took her wife’s hand then kissed it taking away the pain also healing the damage to her hand.
(Nicely done wife.) Malice told her before she hauled the would be king off the floor by his hair as she hissed in his face.
“You are condemned by your own treacherous deeds.” Mal snarled as she pulled him to her until he was face to face with her.
“Now you have a choice to make. You can tell me where to find and release Lithia then tell me where Syra is hiding. If you do so, I will grant you a swift death or you can be stubborn and I’ll feed to my pet a piece at a time.”
Mal looked up at the Brothers her eyes blazing a molten silver-blue.
“Take him to level fifteen and put him in with Ripkin. He could use someone to talk to, ask him what happens to those who betray me. If he’s sane, of course. You have forty-eight hours, two earth days to decide or spend the rest of eternity screaming. Get this filth out of my sight!”
Mal threw him at the brothers who promptly put the irons on him and carried him off. She walked up to Nyx and Mia with Marena and Kember following her as she addressed her family in their private mode.
(By the infinite I almost lost control.)
Then Mal looked at the spot where she thought Lithia was.
(My thanks Great Lady for your gift. Thus is the alliance of old renewed.)
With a sudden breeze, the shadows receded and Mia felt the chill go with it. “Do you approve?” Mia inquired, turning back to face Malice.
“Approve of what?” Nyx replied. Still standing between her and Malice.
“Her rescue!” Mia eyed him up and down, in a way that called to him.
He was her mate. He may have sired the child inside Malice’s belly, but he was bonded to her. That child was just as much Mia’s as if she were to carry it herself. Just like her nieces, and nephew. Espiria and Ellandra were getting bigger, beginning their lessons with tutors from all over, though to Mia, they were still babies who needed protection. E’rynna and Therison were just starting to walk, and yet she felt as if she’d just come from their nursery with Zahara, after checking on them one last time. Newborn babies swaddled in silver and gold, so precious.
They were all inside her heart, where a mother would keep their young, and there was a spot for Tisiphone too, but Lithia had told her stories, shown her wondrous things, and Mia couldn’t deny what she’d seen. If the children were to survive, Lithia had to be freed. There was darkness rising, one like never before and it threatened them all in a way the Eno’tai never could.
“The rescue certainly. The debt that the Valkyrie owe Lithia is great enough that if she needed the entire legion I’d send them.”
Mal looked back to where Lithia had been as Ashlyn, Marena, and Kember gathered around them.
“We need to be careful of our tempers, Lithia is the source of the Valkyries rage. The darkness with our light.” Ashlyn told them.
“There are scrolls in the temple about her before you start hacking through the jungle I suggest you read them.”
“I kind of like her!” Mia laughed, as she winked at Nyx. Who in turn stood down as he relaxed. “Fear not, my love. For no harm would ever befall Malice from my hand!”
“It was...” He started, unable to form the words needed.
“A father’s instinct!” She smiled back at him. “Now, I must have words with my mother, and see to the scrolls that were mentioned.”
There was no need for explanations. He had sought the Valkyrie out in his time of need, and from that union, had produced a life. Something which he was said to not have been able to do. It would seem they had been wrong. Mia had been the broken one after all.
“I will see that they are brought to you, but...” Malice hesitated.
“You need not concern yourself with my Mother, nor my actions towards her.”
“Can I just point out, that you’re acting fucking weird!” Kember blurted out as she stood there examining Mia. “Are you okay?”
“It’s been a long trip, and I have much to discuss before I sleep tonight!” Mia sighed before she turned away. “Perhaps in the morning, I will be refreshed.” With that Mia was gone, but not without leaving a bad taste in Malice’s mouth.
“Bring me the scrolls about Lithia and the time of Dark Nights.” Malice growled. “And find me Navina!”
“What is it?” Kember inquired, Nyx stood his ground.
“She had been taken by the Dark,” Marena answered for her. “It is the only way to carry a soul like Lithia’s!”
When Malice heard Nyx growl she held up her hand. She followed Mia to El where Mal threw a sphere over her.
El, Ashlyn, and Eroch were discussing the upcoming baby when the sphere suddenly formed around Mia. From its slightly golden tint, it was one of the spheres with the magically reflective inner surface.
“Mal what on earth!?” From El. Ashlyn just looked at Mia floating off the floor. Sigrun turned, then growled which made Malice stop but she didn’t look away from Mia.
(Lithia, by the Light. What are you doing? Let that child be. Get out of her before my granddaughter does something rash.) Sigrun sent in a chilling mind-voice.
(Janice trusted me.) Lithia retorted.
(I am not Janice, forgive me, Elder. I submit myself to be your vessel.) Malice said then closed her eyes when the yelling started. Jack was there first, grabbing her arm leading her away.
“Have you completely lost your mind? You know what it took to get you loose the last time.” Jack hissed with Nyx right beside him.
“You forget I’m used to carrying another soul around. Your ancestors Kember trusted Lithia enough to help her create the Valkyrie. If not, I have defenses built up over time.” Malice gently lowered the sphere to the floor before addressing the Queen of Shadows.
(Do you agree with Lithia?) Mal asked, just as Marena and Navina arrived.
“Malice? What are you doing?” Mia’s voice shot through the shield. “Let me out of here!”
“Not until she replies!”
“She’s gone, Mal! She’s just a Ghost!” Mia relied instead, but she could see the Valkyrie would hear none of it, as her bubble was led away and down the stairs to the prison.
“Shit, seriously, Mal?”
“She is not gone, and I don’t know if it’s really you!” Malice shook her head as she waved her hand.
“Take her below!”
“Malice, for fuck’s sake, get me out of here or I will gut you!”
“It sure sounds like Mia!” Nyx cut in, but he too stood behind Malice.
“Lithia may have once reigned from a respectable leading family, but centuries of turmoil have left her hidden and jaded. I know not of her exact dealings with Janice, but far too many a time has she refused the call. It has been too long to know of her true intentions!” Sigrun shook her head.
“You’ve got to be kidding me? She’s trapped for fuck’s sake.” Mia shot out, as the doors closed and she threw her hands in the air. “Great! This is just fucking great!”
It wasn’t long before Mia was in the cells she had once filled with vermin, riff-raff and the shadows closed in about her.
“Hello Darkness my old friend!” She sighed, as Mia slumped against the shield wall.
She couldn’t even lay down and get comfy.
“Well, now you’ve done it!” She grumbled. “Had it all planned out then you just had to go all crazy in front of them!”
Bloody hell, this was not what she expected at all.
“I am sorry!” The voice crept up inside her mind.
“You fucking should be. I warned you! I told you she’d never buy it!” Mia groaned, letting her head fall back.
“Fuck!” She sighed. “Now what?”
“Now, we wait for your mother to come down here!” Lithia giggled. “She’ll help us!”
“Ha, my mother never helps anyone!” Mia laughed, then one of the other prisoners snorted.
“What’s so bloody funny?” Mia shot out.
“You!” He replied. “Off your rocker and talking to the walls!”
“If he only knew!” Lithia chuckled, and Mia grinned until she felt the presence leave her, and the male across the way screamed.
“Leave him alone, Lithia! That’s not why we came here!”
“He smells like them!” She hissed, as the male thrashed about. “I can smell the Eno’tai stench all about him!”
“Fuck, you!” The male managed to get out.
“Not in a million years, you useless piece of offal.”
“Lithia!” Mia shouted. “If you want to be rescued, killing my father’s prisoners is not the way!”
“But he’s been with them!” The voice whined. “He’s played with my toys, corrupting them!”
“Enough, Lithia! We will see you freed, just.... Ugh, I can’t believe I’m saying this...”
“Say it!” Lithia whispered, urging Mia on as her essence returned.
“Just come back to me, we’ll work it out!”
Malice was of two minds about the Lithia/Mia gestalt. El had finally convinced her to relent, the look from her stepfather said it all.
“Okay, I’ll go talk to her to see if Lithia is willing to accept me.” She told them both as she transported to the prison proper. When she arrived, she felt anger from the entity and Mia. She felt fear from the captured Eno’tai.
“Well, well, If it isn’t the Queen Bitch.” A male voice sneered.
Mia looked up at the sound of the male’s voice to see Mal was standing there. Her wife fully armored at the male’s remark, then went back around the corner.
“Noo Mistr--!” The male voice pleaded before there was a violet flash of power then a deadly silence.
Malice felt surprised by Lithia as she walked back around the corner then approached the cell. She snapped her fingers and the bubble dissipated, allowing Mia to stand.
“If you are going to kill Lord Eroch prisoners, clean up after yourself. You must convince me I can trust you before I’ll let you take my mate anywhere. I too can smell the host’s taint because I used to be one.”
Mal grabbed one of the jailers stools before she sat down, locking her own violet eyes with Mia’s.
“Just don’t hurt her, please.” She pleaded.