Ashlyn turned away from the group before she and Brunhilde came to blows. How dare she think the Elder cared not about the male’s safety?
Ashlyn’s mind raced as she started pacing, reviewing the plan just in case. Was there something that she had missed? Was there a chance that both Gil and Jack could fall to Malice? Those questions gnawed at her, churning the waves in her belly. There had to be someone she could talk to.
The male she had managed to woo from the dance floor was a little more interesting once she’d downed her fourth shot of Shimmer Wine. Like the wine, he too was of an excellent vintage, all the way from the shores of Illios, where each berry had been nurtured by loving hands before being squished beneath the naked, sinful bodies of virgins. What Belvaya wouldn’t give to have been one of those berries... well, not so much when it came to the actual making of the wine, but the thought of basking in the sun and the gentle massages were making her drool. Could have been the fact that the male was incredibly yummy looking, with long white hair and... nope. Scratch that.
The bastard looked like an Angel she’d met once, and that memory was going to stay locked up right where it was. Last thing she needed was to lose herself in a fantasy over a fly-boy.
She needed more wine. The more she thought about her past, and all the fucked-up decisions she’d made, the more she wished her cup would never run dry. That, brought on another wash of memories, ones in which a tall, blonde Valkyrie showed her how to refill her cup with the flick of her wrist, and she sighed, mimicking the act.
“Is something wrong?” The male inquired, still nuzzling at her neck.
Perhaps he should just, not talk. He sounded way better when he was silent, at least then she could picture the tall, golden skin and thick locks of...
“Shit!” She hissed, closing her eyes and shaking her head as she pulled away from him.
“It’s nothing…” She lied, if only to escape the sudden feeling that the world was closing in on her. “...what say we take off from here?” Belvaya eyed him up and down, making her way back to the balcony door.
Why was she even thinking about him? This was a wedding. She was supposed to be celebrating.
“And do what?” She felt his chest against hers and the door against her back.
Fuck, maybe being this drunk, was not such a good thing after all. Her heart was racing out of fear, her mind spinning with thoughts of the past and the rivers were threatening to breach the dam between her thighs. What a fucking mess she was.
“My lady?” His words drew her back, his eyes so wrong and yet blurred, he looked just like Nissa...
“Fuck!” She spat out.
Second in command of Sanctuary’s Angel guard, Nissa was beyond magnificent, and so totally off limits it wasn’t even funny. He’d been promised to another, and yet every time she caught sight of him she felt her knees go weak. She wasn’t supposed to be thinking about him, or Ahlex for that matter; but who could resist such magnificent specimens of the male…
“If that’s what you want?” The male was grinning at her and for a moment she couldn’t figure out why, but it all came rushing back to her as the wine churned in her belly. She’d started this and now he wanted to finish it.
“Belvaya?” Her name was called out, but she couldn’t seem to pull herself from his gaze. “Belvaya?” She heard it again and felt a hand upon her shoulder. “Knock it off, will ya?”
“Ahlex?” She mumbled, feeling the spins take over and the darkness descended upon her.
“Who?” The male snapped as he was pushed out of the way.
“How much have you had to drink, Lass?” A familiar face appeared before her.
“Jack?” She muttered, seeing two, if not three of the old Einherjar.
“Aye, it’s me! Now, come on, Ashlyn’s looking for you!” He chuckled, hoisting her up and over his shoulder.
“Uh, that is my date?”
“Really? Does she know this?” Jack turned back to the male, shaking his head. “Laddie, she doesn’t know what she wants!” He chuckled and made for the doors.
She had to be very quiet, lurking about inside Malice’s mind. Quiet and careful, so as not to tweak any of the threads she had played with the night before. She had hoped to find them all intact, and though she could sense another lurking in the mists about her, there was no damage to her traps.
That presence though, not the Host, not even Malice herself, but another. Something strong, something powerful. The Feline wasn’t even sure if she knew what it was, but it frightened her. She would have to keep an eye on it. She would have to make sure to hide if it came too close…
‘Malice? Can you hear me?’ The Kitty called out, careful not to call too loud.
Nothing but silence, not even a whisper. What was it? Who, was it? And what did they want inside Malice’s mind?
Being summoned by the council was one thing, but to be called back across the Rift, to Enote? She could handle being hauled into the council chamber, or even the throne room of Sha’dai’ah, but here? No Malice. No Pathen...
“Marena?” She heard the voice and spun round so fast, she nearly lost her balance.
“Who else would have called you here?” The female smiled, draped in a long red robe that covered her from the neck down but Marena could still see that eerie blue skin and those eyes.
“I thought you were with the others on Vash?”
“The Council of Queens has been called to order!”
“I did not know…”
“Neither did we, until this morning!” Her Queen replied, standing at the edge of the portal.
“What? Why?” Marena blurted out, forgetting her place and quickly scolded herself for it before stepping in beside Anaxa. “I am sorry, I must...”
“You must always speak your mind, Marena!” Anaxa smiled. “You may be one of us, but you will always be one of them, also. It sets you apart from us, gives you a glimmer into what may come…”
Them, as in, the enemy. Though she’d managed to gather back the eyes of her Queen, there were others who believed her actions in the Ra’vyn incident were as traitorous as Malice’s. They wanted her Host removed and the Hosted sent to the mines. Some even called for a ceremony so heinous, it saw both Host and Hosted, left for dead.
“We would never allow it!” Anaxa turned to her with a thousand voices escaping her lips. “You are ours, now and forever!”
“For so long as you wish it!” Marena bowed her head in kind and followed her Queen as she walked.
“There are troubling times ahead of us, my love, and I must know what awaits me!” Her voice returned to normal and she stopped to take Marena’s hand. “Come, I want to show you something!”
“Of course!” She replied, allowing her Queen to lead the way.
It was no secret that her Host, To’llan, had had many lovers before being joined with Marena, and she still loved every last one of them; even Anaxa. Her heart fluttered with each step she took, down into the shadows and the fog; not once questioning where she was going.
“I need you, Marena! I need your guidance...” Her words stopped as she too stopped before a set of white doors. “...I cannot do this alone!”
“Your word, my hand, and it shall be done!”
“It is your word that will guide my hand, my sweet!” She smiled in reply and opened the door. “But first, we must open your mind!”
Before them lay a mass array of pools lit by torches and moon light creeping into the cavern. A green hue came from beneath the surface and a continuous stream of ripples emanated from the center. She had seen Eno pools before, but nothing quite like this. The caverns were massive, the stone statues mesmerizingly beautiful; and when Anaxa started into the water with hand held out, Marena followed.
“Let the waters wash over you and feel the others as they help to open your thoughts to the unknown!” Anaxa was grinning wildly as she pulled Marena deeper into the waters and the swarm began to swim towards them. “Greet them, my sweet, let them guide you!”
There was no way to stop them, too far from the shore, but soon fear turn to pleasure and their minds linked as one.
‘Welcome, To’llan!’ Their voices rang out in symphony. ‘Welcome home!’