Valkyrie III: Song of Darkness, The Novel Edition

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Chapter Twenty-Three

Something was finally going right. Whatever beings were guiding his life right now, were giving him a much-needed break. It came to a crashing halt as the door opened and both Mist and Sif entered. He swallowed hard and tried to cover his eyes. It was bad luck to see the brides in their attire before the wedding. At least, on Earth it was.
Mist chuckled, watching him peek from between two fingers. “The calm before the storm, I’m afraid.” Mist sighed, her voice taking on a somber tone.
“What, the wedding?” Gil was not only speechless as they pranced about before him, he was now confused.
“No, my sister!” Mist shook her head. “The way she’s been treated infuriates me. They keep her caged, like an animal, only letting her out to do their bidding!”
“Well…” Gil started, rising from the bed and no longer worried if his eyes set upon her, she needed him. “From what I’ve been reading, I’m truly glad that you are on our side.” He chuckled, taking her by the hand. “A pagan goddess was it? In pre-Roman Britain?” He smiled, kissing the backs of her fingers.
That visit to the moonpools was supposed to have helped relax her, not fire her up. Gil couldn’t help but wonder what had been said, because clearly, she was pissed off about something.
“Yes.” She replied with a deep breath, her eyes changing as she dug the story from her mind. “That must have been what, a few thousand years ago? And you have to remember that these people, were just out of the stone age.”
“Really?” He urged her on, leading her to a nearby chair; if anything, with hopes of easing her concerns.
“In those days I was the Cerridwen.” She rolled her eyes at him but carried on nonetheless as he donned a look of surprise.
“The Goddess of the Hunt!” Gil praised her, only to feel her fist against his shoulder.
“You, mock me?” She teased with a grin. “I was feared all over Britain, my kingdom was a place were no Roman dared go. I rode with Boudicca when she burned Camelodunam to the ground…”
As Mist spoke her voice dropped to a whisper and a ghostly shadow of her silver and black armor appeared out of thin air. Without a doubt, it had to be one of the scariest transformations Gil had ever seen.
“I’m impressed, not afraid. Definitely impressed.” He said as he winked at her.
“You have no choice in the matter, I am yours, and you are mine!” Mist snarled and licked the lobe of his right ear. “I just wanted you to know what awaits you, should we ever get into a fight. I don’t want you to freak out or anything.”
“Or anything!” He chuckled. “I scared the hell out myself when I was talking to Ayesha.” Gil admitted. “And I have to ask, does Sif have any similar skills?”
“No, but I’ve been told I have a really scary, disapproving stare.” Sif purred from behind him and Gil jumped as she tickled him.
As she often did, his fair-haired female proposed a question of her own. “What’s always confounded me, is that your people claim that your God is a benevolent creature, yet you slaughter each other in his name; as if any God would condone slaughter in his name.”
“They do that to assuage their own guilt, to absolve themselves of all responsibility for their actions.” Gil sighed. “For some, it’s almost a surprise to them when they are forced to answer for what they’ve done. But, if they had given more thought to what they were doing, they wouldn’t be waiting for the axe to fall in the first place.”
“Perhaps if your God had a more, physical presence, humanity wouldn’t be so enthusiastic about slaughtering each other.” Sif cut in. “I mean, it is one thing to claim you know how your God feels, it’s another to have him tell you himself!”
As a matter of fact, Sif had a point. The more advanced humanity became, the less they cared, most thinking themselves cleaver to have escaped divine retribution; but had they really? Perhaps it was time they learned better? Oh, how the thoughts circled in his mind, only to be joined by Mist’s voice.
‘Now, what is this I hear about you and the males plotting to invade North Korea?’ He heard her voice in his mind and looked up to see her eyes shining bright before him.
“I uh, I mean we…” He muttered, caught off guard at the feel of her sliding into his lap.
“When were you going to invite us?” Mist asked indignantly.
“Oh, dear lord, what have I done?” Gil groaned as she leaned in and kissed the tip of his nose, pulling back slightly with a whispered tongue.
“By my mere presence, mortal, you are already guilty…” She recited the first line of the Valkyrie’s Litany of Choosing.

***

Ahlexander followed Maisura down the stairs and into a small tavern across the way. The smallest of The Guild’s chapter houses, it was here she took command of her Petals. The only Mistress to contract out to other establishments, Maisura made sure her females were well protected as they harvested secrets from various locations. Vampires, Demons, Nymphs, they all frequented her small abode, some working for her and others...
“Tell me, my Lex, what will the Valkyrie’s think of another Succubus in their midst?”
“They like you well enough!” He chuckled, following her through a door to the back and down a long set of stairs.
“They put up with me, for they know that I can do what needs to be done!”
That was the most honest statement he’d ever heard fall from her lips. A Succubus was hard to handle. They were set in their ways and their need, always, got in the way. They were insatiable, quick and very skilled in the art of deception; and Mai was one of the best there was.
“Why thank you, Lex!” Mai giggled as she continued her descent.
This one, could also read minds. They all had their own quirks, but one thing always remained the same; that need of theirs could drive them to the brink of insanity, and therefor made them most unpredictable. Maisura, was no different and his mind swirled with memories of their time together. His heart was divided into pieces. The first piece sat in the hands of his people.
Garanoa had been a hearty planet strapped with war, but they were good, loyal people and he would never forget where he’d come from; or the female who’d saved him from that hell. She, held the second piece of his heart and would forever remain his first love. Belvaya had captured a piece, as had Mai...
“You have loved us all, and yet the biggest piece will never belong to just one female!” She sighed, leading him to a balcony that overlooked a small arena below. “Come, sit and watch!” She smiled and offered him a seat next to her own.
It was true, he had loved them all, each equal and yet unique; save for that which he loved most. The one to trump them all. He was Einherjar, and when duty called, he answered. Duty had led him from Mist and into Mai’s arms, and then again, he’d departed on a quest which nurtured the spark that Belvaya had ignited inside him. So much love, and passion; but it never lasted. Even now, the bonds between him and Belvaya were slipping. She’d kept secrets from him, and that was so far from okay.
“Have you not kept secrets?” Mai eyed him, those deep blues trimmed with thick black lashes reaching out for him; an embrace of a different kind.
“Enough, Mai!” He shook his head, unwilling to get lost in her chaos. “I came here for your help, not your body!”
“Pity, perhaps the show will satisfy your needs then?” She laughed back, waiving her hand above the arena and the sound of mighty doors opening echoed through the place.
Not a cavern or a bunker, but a warehouse, and bloody hell she’d done a good job mimicking the fighting pits of old.
“One does what one can to keep traditions alive!” Mai replied without looking his way. “And I, value tradition over all!”
A Succubus with loyalties split between two Guilds. Two vows taken, and darkness beware if those two ever clashed. It hadn’t happened in what, two thousand years, but there had been a time when the Black Rose and the Red Hands were at odd with one another, and it was said to be a dark and horrifying time.
“I cannot be held accountable for the actions of my Elders!” Mai frowned at him. “Besides, not everyone can handle the pressures of managing such a feat. It takes time and effort that most of my kind cannot fathom!”
Which was why it had taken Maisura, to settle the rift that had formed when the Valkyrie called Malice, fell to the darkness. They had all been friends, bed mates even. Mist, Malice, Belvaya... but when the world fell apart and the Guilds began blaming each other, it had taken someone as talented as Mai to sort it all out.
“Oh, Lex. how you flatter me!” She grinned at him and blew him a kiss. “Now watch, the show is about to begin! Set aside your concerns for now, and let tradition take hold for old time’s sake!”
Tradition, was her way of keeping the fighting pit open. Many had rebelled, turning away from the training and honor that befell the Champions. Now crude and inhumane, according to those who governed the forbidden world, she had to keep her traditions hidden; not that any mere Human could stomach the fighting pits.
Mai rose from her seat as the sands filled with would be warriors, and her voice rang out for all to hear. “In the name of the Gods, let blood be spilled!”

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