Prologue: Of Darkness and Light
In the depths of Malaness…
They gathered round her, hopeful that their presence would break the spell of slumber, but it would seem that they had once again lost Tisiphone to story. She lay in a bed surrounded by candles, her long, dark hair falling down about her shoulders in waves of black and violet. She was the spitting image of her mother, save for those dark locks, and it was with a broken heart that Khor watched over her lifeless body.
She was not dead, but there was something amiss inside that mind of hers and he would be damned if he let her out of his sight again. He hated the fact that she wouldn’t wake up, the terror and agony rushing through his veins. What if she never woke up? What would he tell their father?
He wasn’t sure what was worse, the fact that his half-sister lay in a deep sleep before him, or whether or not his own female, the one he loved more than life itself, would not speak to him. The guilt inside her ran deep, and no amount of persuasion was going to free her from the blinding pain. Nonetheless, Khor stood at the foot of Tisiphone’s bed, blaming no one but himself. He should have been there to protect her, he should have seen the dangers ahead and prepared her for them…
“How is she?” The words rolled off her tongue so gently, but he knew better than to assume that the female was soft.
“I believe she is comfortable.” He replied and hung his head. “I just wish I could see what she sees.”
“If my sister is correct, she is not alone.”
That, was what he was afraid of, the thing inside her mind was said to be evil, violent, sinister. How was he supposed to be okay knowing it lingered within her very soul, corrupting her thoughts…
“Marwolaeth was dangerous, yes, but she was honorable.”
“You call murdering thousands, honorable?” Khor shook his head and laughed, but the female went on.
“She was a champion, glorious in nature, and her bonding with Malice made her ever more so. The child is lucky that such a noble essence resides within her.”
“Tisiphone was never meant to be hosted.” He shot back, rage burning in his veins.
“Neither was Malice, but what a pair they made.”
“Her body has been hijacked by the enemy.” Khor shouted. “No matter how you describe it, that thing is living inside her.”
“That thing, is helping her.” The female hissed at him, lowering the hood she wore so that her long, snow-white hair fell down about her chest. “Please, your sister is in good hands.”
“I will believe that, when she wakes up.” He snarled, his eyes still on Tisiphone.
“It will take time, but you will see that she will soon wake, and with her, the answers we all seek.”
The female was not very convincing, but what could Khor do? Tisiphone was already lost in the story, lost in the fade and not even Navina could help her; lost in her own realm of slumber.
“You should rest, as I said, it will take time for the child to uncover the secrets.”
“It would be easier if you just told us the answers.” He grumbled in reply, “But wait, I forgot, you can’t!”
Beneath the City of Misthaven…
Loki worked the bellows hard, watching the ancient Dwarven smith work with a pair of tongs to remove a crucible from the forge. Sweat rolled off his forehead and down to the tip of his nose, his shoulder-length, dark hair, clumping in thick, sopping strands across his cheeks. He was a mess, but it had been worth it, for their work was almost done.
When he’d arrived a week ago with intent to sneak into the forge and convince the Dwarf to help him, he’d met a special friend and she’d- well, she’d convinced him to work with the Dwarf, for those who ruled above. It was a matter of life and death, she’d explained, her eyes darting all over his body, and in the end, both Loki and the Dwarf, Albrecht, had been glad to help in the creation of what was said to tame the wild in any dark beast.
Loki had told the female of his plans, and surprisingly, she in turn promised that the Valkyrie would stand behind him. They wanted Malice back as much as he did, and it was going to take them all working together to do it.
They wanted to help him, or was it, he was helping them? He was shocked to even be given the chance, and yet, he had Gil to thank for that, didn’t he? The male was honest and sincere; imagine that. No matter what happened from now on, they all held an understanding; Loki did the dirty work, and Loki remained in the land of the living.
He’d accepted Mist’s terms and explained to the smith what he’d wanted. It wasn’t long before his oldest friend had set to work crafting the instrument of vengeance. It was sneaky, dangerous, but Loki knew that it was the only way to set Malice free and he was determined to see it done. As the Valkyries set forth to summon what was left of their legion, Loki concentrated on the task at hand. Soon enough, Misthaven would be swarming with their warriors, some of which, he’d crossed paths with before.
Alberecht worked hard, shaping the precious metals to hold the fake stone. He folded and hammered it over and over, ensuring the curves and edges formed just right. Loki was in awe of the care he put into his work and though he’d tried to pay the Dwarf a handful of times, bartering until he was blue in the face, Albrecht always refused his coin. The thought of ridding Malice of her darkness must have been enough for him, for he’d worked night and day in the forge bringing life to his creations.
Loki’s thoughts were interrupted by the gravelly reply of the ancient Dwarf. “Move swiftly, Asgardian, cast your spell into the crucible before the metal cools.” He urged Loki on, practically pushing his face towards the glowing embers that cradled the metal.
Concentration was key, and as he focused on the crucible, a stream of emerald light left his hand, bathing the mold in an enchanting green flame until the last bit of light was absorbed. The stone was ready and shone like the moon pools of the Shadowlands, an eerie aura to say the least. All that needed doing now, was to set the stone inside its casing, but something inside Loki’s chest took hold as Alberecht used the tongs to place the crucible in the forge one last time.
“When this is over, there will be no undoing it!” The Dwarf warned, pouring the metallic mixture into its final mold. “Once you place it about her neck…”
“I know, I know, she will be vulnerable to all, even him.” Loki replied, shrugging the feeling from his chest and thinking of the dark lord who controlled Malice’s every move.
“Very well!” Alberecht chuckled. “You are a good male, Loki, do not let anyone tell you otherwise.”
“You are the only one who gets me. You know that?” Loki grinned and waited for the Dwarf to set the crucible down.
They had several hours ahead of them before the Dwarf could do anything further, so with a shake of his head he ushered for Loki to follow, leading the male to an old table. “Sit. Drink!” He chuckled, pulling out a chair for himself. “You know, in all honesty, you confound me at times.”
“I am the God of Treachery!” Loki sighed, rubbing the exhaustion from his eyes. “It is in my nature.”
“Well, I thought you and the She-Wolves of Odin, hated each other. Since when did you decide to help the Valkyries? Do not get me wrong, but you are not known for your generosity. Have you finally lost your mind? Or is this just part of a larger scheme?”
“The less you know, the better, old friend.” Loki replied. “Let’s just say that my relationship with them has changed since the arrival of their new, son.”
The elderly Dwarf nodded and scratched at the shaggy, salt and peppered hair atop his head. He rarely left the forge these days, but he’d heard the rumors about the prophecy coming true. There had been a male born to the Valkyries and it was said that he would lead them all from the grasp of darkness.
“A bunch of superstitious drivel, if you ask me, or has that Sif, wrapped you around her finger, again?”
Loki’s eyes narrowed, his irises turning black with anger. “Choose your next words with care, Dwarf. No one, influences me.” He snarled, “Just do your work and keep silent, or your life is forfeit.” He hated showing his emotions and Alberecht knew how to push his buttons; Sif, was one of them.
“Well now, you don’t have to be so snippy!” Alberecht scoffed and took another drink. “I was only asking a bloody question!”
“Let us just say, that the Valkyries and I see our goals coinciding for once.” Loki laughed. “The longer Malice remains in darkness, the greater the risk to us all. She has had her eyes set on Misthaven for a long while and the end result will be devastating…”
“And without her, you are…”
“Broken!” Loki sighed and shook his head again.
Albrecht shied back at his words. Whatever Loki’s motives where, they did not bode well for the Asgard; of that, Alberecht was sure. “Very well!” The old Dwarf let out and poured himself another.
Loki, on the other hand, sipped his mead and tried to calm himself down. Just the mention of Sif’s name brought out feelings that he thought he’d suppressed. He’d loved the female once, from afar of course, for his half-brother, Thor, was the one she had lusted after. To find her in the arms of Gil, meant things had changed and the threat that Malice had held against them had diminished. Sif would fight alongside the others, but would she risk all, as she would have before she’d coupled with Gil and Mist?
Her crush on Thor was so long ago, and now, married to Gil if rumor served him correctly…
Malice would have no use for Thor or any of the others they held in the cells of Ghost Mountain. Gods, he didn’t want to harm Thor, but the promise of Malice and him ruling over all was too great, not even Sif could sway him from getting her back. He loved Malice now, he wanted, Malice; but he had to rid her off the darkness that controlled her, first.
He’d lost Sif, he wasn’t losing Malice too, and with a groan he turned towards the door as another vision of Sif in the arms of Gil, surfaced.
“Well, good luck keeping her.” He grumbled beneath his breath, knowing full well that Gil could not hear him.
The prized, first son, was probably locked away in a broom closet with his two wives- two of them? Loki couldn’t help but feel angry and betrayed. That should have been him.
“So, what is this son of the Valkyries, like?” Alberecht broke the silence after a time. “Do I have anything to be concerned about?” He added, having had his own run-ins with the Valkyries.
“He is a man of the world. Respectful. Intelligent and as driven as all Valkyries are. He will leave you alone as long as you do not provoke him.” Loki chuckled and downed the last of his drink.
The Dwarf had no intention of doing something that would attract his attention. Loki obviously had a grudging admiration for the male, and that in itself was a reason to keep an eye on him. The whole idea of a male Valkyrie was going to take some getting used to. There was no telling how he would react when faced with danger. Women were easy, Valkyrie women, that is. They saw a fight and they worked through the strategies before advancing. Would the male do the same? Or would it be a matter of hitting first and asking questions later?
Nope, it seemed as Alberecht was quite happy where he was, slaving away in his forge beneath the mighty fortress of Misthaven. If Loki needed him, he would have to fine him here, in the forge.
No sooner had Alberecht ducked down a darkened hallway, Loki felt the tingle as the scent wafted past his nose. “You have returned?”
“I said I would, did I not?” She smiled at him from the doorway. “Have you fulfilled your promise?” She inquired, slinking her way in with a wave of her hips.
“Tell me again what your name is.” He smiled back, accepting the eyes that swept across him.
“Ayesha.” She giggled, drawing closer still.
“It sounds perfect falling from your lips.” He grinned, pulling her in closer and delivering a kiss upon her lips like she had the night before.
He may not have had his Malice to help him suffer through the torments, but he had his way in finding other tempting morsels to fill the void. Guilty? Only if he allowed himself to care. They were mere forms of entertainment to satisfy his curiosities and Ayesha did not seem to mind.
“You think of her again?” She whimpered, laying a kiss upon his cheek.
“I do.” He replied, imagining it was Malice he held in his arm just now.
“Good. The more you remember about her, the easier this will be for all of us. That trinket needs to perfect, as does your lust for her.” Ayesha groaned, rubbing her body against him. “Show me how you will convince her to love you? Show me, how you will claim her attention long enough to replace that stone about her neck…”
Oh, Ayesha was the perfect tutor for matters such as this. Her dark, sun-kissed skin sparkled in the candlelight, her eyes like stars, stirring the beast between his legs.
She was not Malice, but she would do. Yes, she would do nicely until his lover returned to his side.
“I believe, I would start slow. Allow her to remember the feel of my touch against her body…” As he spoke the words she groaned against his chest, melting in much the same way he hoped Malice would when the time finally came.