Valkyrie III: Song of Darkness, The Novel Edition

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Chapter Twenty-Six

With the connection broken, Malice could feel Marwolaeth and the emotions that stirred within her. Not just one, but a handful and at the top of the list were anger and joy. An odd combination, one that had Malice puzzled for a moment until she too realized what had just happened.
Pathen had given Marwolaeth plenty of reasons to kill him and Malice had no problem ending his miserable existence once and for all; if Marena didn’t beat her to it. She had sensed Marena’s hatred for her Masters, growing. Her Host was a creature of honor and To’llan, like Marwolaeth, had become increasingly irritated with the male’s tendency to toss them in to chaos. If only she could get both Marwolaeth and To’llan on her side, for removing Pathen’s head would be easy, getting past that Queen to reach him, was going to be the hard part. Things weren’t as calm as they’d once been and the Queen blamed Malice for To’llan’s descent.
Zander, however, was a fairly easy target. Accidents happened; especially for one as vile and crude as that bastard. The order to end him couldn’t have come at a better time, either. With Zander out of the way, Malice could move on towards Misthaven without concern. She would be in command, the troops would have no reason to doubt her orders.
‘He must not make it to the next encampment!’ Malice let her mind reach in, calling to her Host. ‘I will need you!’
‘With pleasure!’ Marwolaeth whispered in response, her voices sending shudders throughout Malice’s body.
It wasn’t very often that Malice, willingly, let Marwolaeth out to play. She was wretched and yet divine. Troubled and yet comforting.
‘You honor us with your words of praise!’
Marwolaeth chuckled. ‘Is there any particular way, you wish to do this?’
Ha, she was giving her a choice? No taking control? No, you must obey? Zander was hers to do with as she pleased?
‘His head. On a spike, in the center of the council chamber of Sha’dai’ah for all to see…’ Malice carried on, her eyes closing as she imagined a thousand and one ways to slay this foe.
‘Perfect, we shall send a message to them all. We, are no longer their playthings.’ Marwolaeth sent, along with another wave of shudders that nearly sent Malice back on her ass.
Steadying herself, she felt a warm presence lingering next to the hand of death. Uncertain if Marwolaeth was unaware the Cosmic critter’s intrusion, she had to ensure nothing said, could be heard. Her Host may have been in league to kill Zander, but she’d already kicked the kitty out of here once.
‘She cannot hear us!’ The intruder let out with a giggle. ‘I’ve disconnected the link that binds us to each other amidst your thoughts. She cannot find me this time!’
‘Huh! Then perhaps, you should start by telling me who are you? You must have a name?’
Malice sighed.
She suspected the feline, or whatever it was, was far more than it seemed. She needed to know more. She needed to know what is was that spoke to her, and why?
‘Which of the mighty deities has decided to fuck with me now? I have enough problems setting things straight, but I need to know what I’m up against! So, who are you?’ The Valkyrie rolled her eyes and growled with more heat than she intended.
‘Oh, no-no! No one wants to fight with you, Malice. In fact, we want to protect you.’ The feline’s voice replied. ‘There is a certain Host I wouldn’t mind shredding into teeny-tiny pieces, but I am just a lowly Cat, here to help you. I assure you, no one is out to get you!’
‘And your name?’
‘Well, if you must call me something, I prefer Cat, but you may also call me Kitty.’
‘Kitty?’
Malice choked out, was the thing serious?
‘Yes, is that a problem?’
‘No, it’s just, I thought you’d have a, different, name. Kitty, makes you sound all cute and cuddly, covered in soft fur with a meow so quiet…’
Malice couldn’t help but chuckle. ‘...and we have recently seen just how sharp your claws can get!’
‘If we survive this, perhaps one day we will meet, and you can see me for who I really am. For now, it is far too dangerous.’
‘Why are you doing this? Why, try and help me?’
‘It is my job. The worlds need you. That’s what my gut says, that’s what the others say, so that is why I am here. Life will not survive without the mighty to protect it.’
‘Ha-ha! The mighty. They usually fall, you know that, right?’
‘You have already fallen, now is the time to pick yourself up and fight back.’
The feline hissed, her voice echoing through Malice’s mind. ‘I am sure you are already looking for ulterior motives, it has become second nature for you to suspect the worst. You have been fed so many lies that you couldn’t find the truth, even if it shot you in the foot.’
‘Ouch!’
Malice hissed back at her. ‘I’ve been shot in the foot before. I know what it feels like and trust me, I am fully aware of the lies that circulate around me.’ Malice added with a snarl.
‘You prove my point, even now. I offer you help, a way out, and you still choose to believe I am a figment of your imagination.’ Kitty rubbed up against Malice’s leg.
It felt so real, so, there. Even the smell of the flower fields had returned; but the Valkyrie was more than a little dubious as the cat spoke. It may look like a Cat, but she was well aware that it was nothing more than a facade. An illusion so perfect, it wrapped around the feline like a blanket. For all she knew, the Kitty hid a Shadowcat beneath that fur covered wrap. Fifteen-hundred pounds of rippling muscles, jagged teeth and razor-sharp claws.
‘I am no Shadowcat!’ The feline shook her head.
It was certainly a wary creature, and with good cause.
Marwolaeth would kill it in a heartbeat, she’d tried once already; but perhaps, that in itself was a sign that she should trust the feline?
Malice looked up at the sky expectantly for a moment. As a child, she’d often wondered what Cats where looking at when they stared off into dead space. She had speculated that animals, especially felines, could see into realms that others could not. Like now, as Kitty stood in a trance, mumbling to herself.
When she rubbed against her legs again, Malice knelt down and gently picked the cat up. Much smaller than before, the feline began to purr louder with each stroke of the Valkyrie’s hand.
Soft fur, the shudders she could feel as the Cat snuggled in, and then the sudden shift as the field disappeared and her room appeared once more. A dreamscape was a tricky thing to control. One loose thought could send you spiraling into insanity. Those partaking, and controlling the illusion had to be very careful, or wind up losing their minds.
Having already lost hers, Malice shrugged her shoulders and made for her bed; looking around as the memories invaded her thoughts.
‘I, I remember…’ Malice let out suddenly, unable to keep the words contained. ‘I remember!’
Odd as it was, she remembered sitting on that very bed, holding a Kitty much like the one she held now. She wasn’t supposed to remember. Pathen was said to have cleansed her mind, removing all that was for what would come. No memory of the past, a blank slate for the Host to imprint on, but they’d lied. Not at all surprising, considering it was Pathen and lying was second nature to the bastard. He’d probably cheated and cut corners. It took months, years even, to fully cleanse one’s mind. That asshole claimed Malice was done and ready in three weeks.
Right, because he’d cheated, somehow, and now she was remembering things she shouldn’t; like Nasir. Oh, the things that had happened there…
‘Careful now! Do not dig too deep, for fear of losing yourself!’ The Kitty’s voice was crystal clear.
There was only one thing left to do. Only one way to ensure that she would indeed, accomplish her latest plan. She had to accept the feline’s help. Maybe the two of them could see this freedom the Kitty spoke of.
‘If we can manage to break free of the Host’s bonds…’ Her words floated off. ‘…I will help where I can.’
‘Then see it done!’
There she had said it, the dice had been cast.
There was no turning back now. She would remove Zander from the picture and take Misthaven as her own, but not before taking a little trip to visit an old, friend. There was a debt she had to repay and feeling more than a bit rebellious over her decision, Malice shifted her form to resemble an Egyptian Mau.
‘Why, that Cat?’ The feline inquired, staring at Malice now covered in dark gray fur and violet eyes.
‘I saw her, in my vision, prowling about in a temple of old...’ Malice replied, ‘…licking at each paw as she groomed herself. She was a pretty kitty!’
From one vision to another, Malice’s mind jumped around from place to place, showing her things she never could have imagined. So many scattered moments that she’d forgotten, playing before her eyes like a movie. It was now she witnessed the extent of what had been done to her. It was now, that she wanted to end Pathen’s life more than ever.
’So, what’s the plan? Malice sighed, rubbing at her eyes.
Well, I may have been trimming the Host’s attachments to your brain while you were asleep....’ Her voice snickered and trailed off as she tried to look innocent. ‘… that could be why your remembering things.’
‘Mere glimpses of what was, and none of it seems to have any order.’
Malice grumbled.
You say when and I will slice through the remaining threads. I don’t want you to get killed because you are in pain and can’t battle, so you will have to seek out a safe haven.’ The Kitten’s eyes teared up.
‘You cry?’
‘Yes, for I remember what you were and wish for nothing but things to be set right.’
The feline admitted, bowing her head with a sigh.
‘Tell me, what did you see? Where was I? Who, was I?’ Without the threat of her Host, Malice started to feel the tension lifting.
Fear had held her rage at bay. Fear controlled her actions and that fear had a name. Marwolaeth was the definition of a heathen, the memories that Malice had been allowed to retain were full of blood spilled by her hand, voices crying out in pain and sorrow as they set their eyes upon her. She had been the hand of death, if not death itself, and she had sent many an innocent to an early grave. She was evil and cunning, carrying out the orders of her masters, without fail. It was said the ground trembled beneath her feet and the skies opened up, raining down the blood of the innocent upon her face and chest, bestowing upon her great power to wield in the name of the enemy.
Indeed, this was what Pathen had allowed to remain, a reminder of what she truly was, but it was not the fear of one’s self that kept the mighty Valkyrie in line, but the fear of what would happen to Marena. To’llan was just as important to Marwolaeth as Marena was to Malice. They were all, as the cat had said, prisoners of darkness, the servants of madness; even the Hosts. If Pathen could play with their minds the way he’d played with Malice’s…
‘I saw you, long ago.’ The feline’s purring cut through the chaos and brought Malice’s mind back to the here and now; as if she could sense the struggle with the fair-haired beauty. ‘You were crossing a battlefield and I was hiding in the shrubbery, watching you. I was maybe, four years old? But you, a grown female and by the Gods, you were amazing. You cared for the fallen, collecting those worthy enough to join you in Valhalla…’ Her words trailed off once more as Malice tried to picture herself in the benevolent role the cat spoke of.
Perhaps before she had been abandoned, stripped of all titles and exiled; by her own people. She could have cared, she could have fought side by side with the others, but that made no sense. Why exile someone so pure of spirit? Why banish all knowledge of a person who’d been so noble? As the questions surrounded her, she felt the cold aura of her Host; the feline was gone.
‘You failed them.’ Marwolaeth laughed from deep within and Malice hoped like hell the cat had been right, that she’d not been able to hear what had been said.
‘As I am told.’ Malice sneered, shaking her head ‘But I will not fail in this.’
‘You best not.’
Her Host growled. ‘Once Zander is dead, there will be no one to stop us.’
‘Us?’
Malice laughed. ‘So, now we are friends?’
‘We are what we are, so long as those we love, remain safe. Do what you are told and he too, shall fall.’
‘What did he do to us?’
It was risky, but Malice had to know.
‘We are nothing more than pawns in his game.’ Came the reply, and with that, Marwolaeth too, was gone.
For fucks sake, what she wouldn’t give to be able to remember the last eight-thousand years. That would have been too bloody easy.

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