“If all your girls are coming, you might want to invite Alara and Alura as well. You simply can’t leave your new Elven relations out. They would love North Korea. Heavily forested and it snows seven months out of the year.” Rob suggested which brought a puzzled look from Jack.
“Elven Relations?” Jack eyed his Grandson up and down. “What is he on about?”
“Gil never mentioned being adopted by Alara and her clan?” Now it was Robert’s turn to look surprised.
“Adopted? Into an Elven clan?” They could hear Jack, muttering away in disbelief, but he looked as if he might just keel over. “How many are in this clan?”
“Rough estimate? Six or seven, thousand. Could be more though, I’ve never seen all of them at once and they are, just like Valkyries.”
“How so?” Jack inquired only to stop them a moment later. “No. Nevermind!” He sighed.
They had to be playing a trick on him. Tease the old fart on his grandson’s big day. Well, haha, he didn’t think it all that funny.
“Let me get this straight.” Jack started up again. “We three are going to invade North Korea, with a Goddess, three Valkyries and seven thousand Elves?”
“Yeah! Why, is it too much?” Gil was grinning from ear to ear.
“Nope, but it does sound like some wahoo-dictator is about to have a real bad day.” Jack chuckled and made for the liquor cabinet. “You all better keep drinking!”
If he was going to play along with this little charade, or whatever it was, he was going to need a mighty stiff drink, himself.
“The beauty of it, is you could stay in the one little area and just cut off the opposing forces. Fill them with holes, so long as you don’t run out of arrows, you could probably hold them off indefinitely.” Gil laughed.
“Sounds like a fair fight to me.” Morant chuckled, leaning back in his chair. “When do we leave?”
“You two, will be the death of me, you know that, right?” Jack shook his head and skipped the glass, bringing the bottle of whiskey straight to his lips instead. “Oh, now that’s the good stuff.”
“Pack it, we’ll bring it with us.” Robert laughed.
Ashlyn moved through the halls of the Chapterhouse thinking over Khia’s words. She was worried about the Ra’vyn, as well she should be. That female was at the top of the enemy’s most wanted list and having her here was insanity. Seldan, on the other hand, not too far from her own home on Vash, now that would be the perfect place for the young female to blend in and heal; but the last thing she needed was another damn secret.
In Ashlyn’s mind, there were simply too many of them. And she would have to pay for them all someday. ‘One day, my sister, you and I are going to have to discuss your obsession with secrets.’ Ashlyn let her mind go and slipped out of her clothes.
The air was chilly, but she knew the moon pools would be warm and inviting and she hurried from her room. To walk the halls naked was the norm in this end of the keep, the west wing was devoted to the moonpools and those who cared for them. Centered in the middle of a large hall, the moonpools basked in the light of both the moons and sun through their windowed ceiling. Such a breathtaking sight to look up and see the stars at night…
“Ashlyn?” She heard her name called out and slipping into the warm waters, she came up behind Mist, giving her a start.
“Guess Who?” Ashlyn had whispered in the assassin’s ear.
Mist spun around kissing Ashlyn on the cheek. “Is there something wrong, Amme?” She asked, sensing the sudden shift as she washed her mother’s back; she could feel the tension in her mother’s muscles. Something wasn’t right.
“No, my heart, you have nothing to worry about. Just enjoy your happy day!” Ashlyn told her and dipped beneath the waters to escape further questioning.
Above all else, Mist’s happiness had to come first. Any mention of Malice would put her in a state and more than likely ruin it for her. This would be twice now, that Malice would miss her ceremony and Ashlyn would have nothing else raining on Mist’s day.
The air was cool and smelled of salt. So close to the shore, he could feel the droplets of water as the winds collected them and carried them inland. This place was called Italy, and somewhere among the busy streets with their whimsical music and the colorful sashes that fluttered about, there lay a chapter house hidden in the commotion. One of many resting in the forbidden zone on a planet called Earth. It was in that chapterhouse that he would meet his contact and she would lead him to his target; if, she found him worthy.
She, had a name, though when he said it his mind was flooded with memories. Maisura, a female of Asian descent who’d been entrusted with Earth’s safety. Commander of Earth’s defense force and tasked with maintaining the borders of the forbidden zone, she alone had the say on who and when a paranormal could enter her domain. Of course, there were hundreds of rebels roaming wild on the surface, but she was a quick and skilled hunter, as were those who served under her command.
Maisura preferred the Italian shores to her keep, deep within the rocky ridges of Tengri Tagh. A Mistress of Illusion. A Madam of Seductive Measures. Ahlex shuddered to think of the last time he’d approached that very chapter house and hoping it would be a quick stop to gather intel, he hurried to the door. The brass plaque had just been polished and the elegant black rose freshly engraved. The door was antique and creaked when it opened before him to reveal an older female standing between him and a good stiff drink.
“What do you want?” The old crone let out, but when glancing at his arm and the intricate woven roses and thorns tattooed like a sleeve, she bowed her head and stepped aside. “It has been a while since anyone has come with news of our great Lady!” She mumbled, but he had no information to give her.
“I seek Maisura!” He informed her and the female nodded to the roof top across the way.
“Be careful, she is quite testy this night!” The female chuckled and closed the door as he turned down the alley way.
Testy, was but one of the Mistress’ moods, and there were hundreds. She was known for her quick decisions, and even quicker dismissals. Her chapter house was always in need of new Petals to staff it. No one was ever good enough for Maisura. She needed, perfection.
Again, Ahlex shuddered as he approached the stair case that led to the rooftop escape. Lined with ferns and a fountain to one side, a gazebo in the middle and the sound of something crashing to the ground; Gods, things had not changed. There had been Mist and there had been Belvaya, and between them, there had been Maisura. Things hadn’t really ended well between them and Ahlex wasn’t quite sure what was waiting for him.
“Get out and don’t dare come back here!” She shouted from within the gazebo, the long sheer drapes masking the silhouette of her body, and her sword.
Ahlex gasped as the wind blew those drapes aside, a mere glimmer of the beauty stealing the very breath from his lungs as he dared to move closer. “Who dares enter my room without my consent?” She shouted again as Ahlex moved forwards still, her naked, slender body glistening in the moon light.
“One who had your consent long ago, though is unsure if it still stands!” He replied, and she dropped her sword to one side, letting the shall she wore fall with it to reveal the tattoo on her back that he’d traced so many times.
“One who left me, to adhere to more pressing concerns?” He heard her say, her voice now quiet, almost a whisper. “A mistake, surely?”
“Not a mistake, Mai, a duty. One that brings me again to your door!”
“Oh?” She turned slightly.
“There is to be a sacrifice!”
“I see, and what is the purpose of this sacrifice, may I ask?” Her voice grew darker.
“She has been gone far too long, Mai, and her sister believes she can bring her back into the fold!” Ahlex sighed. “She has a plan, but in order for it to work, she needs a willing sacrifice...”
“And you came to me? Why?”
“You are the protector of this world, Mai, you above all would know where to find someone in need of bargaining.”
“And what would you offer them?” Maisura shook her head. “There has to be a prize worth dying for, my Lex!”
“A place among the Petals? Forever reborn to serve that which it saved!” He mumbled, reciting the words Mist had told him to say.
“If need be!”
“No, there are too many of you!” She shook her head with her eyes closed before turning to face him. “Far, too many of you!”
“And what do you suggest?”
“Come, sit with me and share a drink. We will discuss this further!” She smiled, taking him by the arm as the sword fell at her feet. “What you need, are more Succubus, and I know one that has yet to flower!”