Valkyrie III: Song of Darkness, The Novel Edition

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Chapter Twenty-Eight

The young God sat up, shaking the dream from his mind. He stretched, knowing he would need to return to that world soon, but there were other things to tend to for now. None the less, the woman in his dream was in trouble and he’d have to go...
“Traveling again, Aesteri?” The tall and tawny woman with blood-colored hair sat beside him in the bower, hugged him and smiled, then offered him his morning drink. “Dreaming of the warrior again?”
He nodded, then took a sip. Letting the juices flow over his tongue and run down the back of his throat.
“I think she may need to come here soon, Mama Ari. The rose might work if the little cat trusts me. It’s special and I think she will understand.”
“Be careful what you wish for. The warrior may be an immortal, or perhaps she is on a whole different level, existing as energy that can take the shape of other things, I can’t say. What I can tell you is she won’t come alone. They never do. I’ve worked hard to make this a safe place for you, Aesteri.” She frowned at him.
“By hiding me?” The youth pouted.
“You can have any young man or woman you want. You will never be lonely, I’ve seen to it. You know that.” She sighed.
“Except I never get to see him, or her, or anyone for that matter. Do I get a family too, or will it be too dangerous?” The youth grumbled.
“It is!” She replied quickly, as if hiding something.
“Mama Ari, you act as if you’re scared? Ptah-tenen is my father, and not Marai? Did you lie to me?”
The woman hung her head, groaning. If anything, the youth excelled in drudging through the past. If only he’d put as much effort into his studies…
“I am not scared, I just don’t want to dredge that all up. Memories hurt sometimes, but their reappearance in inevitable.” She tried to explain. “Oh, If I could keep you so you’d be like that mythical Rapunzel, I would, but I won’t make you stay in a tower, or a bower...” She looked away, thinking about how their worlds might collide.
The dark-haired youth looked away and then stared as the palm of his hand grew another rose. “It would work…” He muttered, twirling it about his fingers.

***

“Are you okay, Jack?” Her voice was like heaven to his ears after the grim reminder of where he’d once been, but he had to remember that she was not his wife.
“It’s been years since I’ve had one of those!” He chuckled, sitting back in the chair as the room carried on with the celebrations.
“Sometimes, it is best to let the memories run their course. You never know what you will find when they play out after the fact.” Mist handed him a drink and smiled.
“Not during his wedding!” Jack shook his head, then looked towards the dancers, and Gil, who spun round and round with Sif in his arms. “Your wedding!” He corrected himself. “You should be out there with them!”
“Nonsense!” Mist grinned. “We are family, and family helps one another.”
“It’s nothing!”
“If it involves my sister, it was far from nothing, Jack!” She laughed, eyeing her mates. “Perhaps you would be willing to share those memories, with me?”
“Someday!” He chuckled and took a swig of his ale.
“No, this day!” Mist replied.
“But we’re, and they’re… I can’t, Lassie!”
“They, are fine!” Mist smiled and Jack watched as Sif looked up, a smile of her own crossing her face as she nodded her head. “See?” Mist laughed. “Come, we’ll go to the balcony. We will be alone!”
Right, because alone with Mist was what he wanted. Not! He’d like to brush this all off and…
“You can smoke on the balcony!” She assured him, plucking his thoughts from the air.
“Bloody hell, woman!”
He could grunt and grumble all he wanted, he knew damn well that she wasn’t about to let up until she got what she wanted. Just like Malice. Up he went, grumbling some more as he made to follow her.
“I like the hand-rolled beauties, from Sanctuary!” He called to her and she paused a moment.
“Now there, is a place I have not visited in a long while!” She laughed in reply and held the balcony door open for him.
With one last look towards Sif and Gil, he made his way out behind her, inhaling the rich, floral scents that filled the night air.
“Just relax!” She told him as he sat beside her on the bench. “I will be there with you, though you may not be able to hear me!”
“And why not?”
“Because this is your memory, my being there will only upset the images you see. Just know, I will be watching.”
“I don’t like this!” He complained as her hand came down over his face and he felt the pull…
Keep me advised, Gunny, and have the men clean up this mess.” The Captain shook his head.
“Aye, Sir!” Jack nodded and turned to the others. “Fall in for burial detail.” He called out and the troopers fell in as ordered.
They carried the bodies off one by one. A grim sight indeed, but he couldn’t help but think, good riddance. Still, the manner in which they had been killed left him a little concerned. The others said nothing. Seasoned veterans, they’d seen it all; but a kill like that, going for the throat, oh, you bet it caused concern.
Standing guard as the others dug deep into the earth, he kept his eyes peeled for the woman with the long blonde hair. He knew she was out there, somewhere, but was she done? Were these poor fools the end of her campaign in this realm? Or just the beginning?
There was a little grumbling and one of the lads looked down and swallowed hard. He didn’t expect them to like what they were doing, but he bloody well expected them to follow orders. He could understand how the lad felt, though. He too was on the edge of squeamish and full on nauseating. Burying these sods here, went against what they’d been taught and some of the men were wrought with worry.
“We don’t leave our own behind, son, alive or dead, we will all get home.” He tried to assure the soldier. “Now, go on, Jackson. Captain wants this done A.S.A.P!”
A short time had passed when the lads had given the all clear and hung their heads in a moment of silence, though to Jack it had seemed like forever. His eyes had barely left the shadows, his heart threatening to pound right out of his chest as he walked back to his own little bunker.
It was a bloody miracle how it had survived the artillery, but the fact that it was hunkered deep inside solid rock might have had something to do with it. His mind couldn’t work it out, though. He was lost in every whisper, tripping over footfalls he couldn’t place.
He knew that Valkyrie watched him. from a short distance away and invisible to the naked eye, of course. She had to test him, if he remembered his mother’s tales correctly. So far, Jack was under the impression he had passed. Trusted by many, but none more so than his commanding officer, he had never disobeyed, never spilled blood that wasn’t warranted.
Sitting down on his cot, he pulled the flask from his jacket pocket and was about to take a swig and wash it all away, when the blonde-haired woman appeared in his bunker.
Jack couldn’t help but jump, holding his hand over his chest as if hoping to keep his heart in place. “You can’t do that to a man! Do you want to get shot?” Jack exclaimed.
Malice smiled at his reaction before eyeing the small room. ‘Love what you’ve done with the place. It’s so, early, Spanish inquisition…’
If he’d been standing, he’d have passed right out.
“Bloody hell, woman.”

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