Jack had been watching the crowd and his grandson with his wives. He’d never, for one second, believed that when he’d met Malice on the battlefield, what seemed like ages ago, that he would find himself here, now. The things he had seen, the people he’d met, an incredible journey for both him and Gil; but what would it cost them in the end?
To the others, it was Malice who had given him the world, and oh how easy would it be for her to take it all away, just like that. The old soldier had been shunned like the plague, or at least, that was how it felt at times. His Valkyrie had been taken as Hosted. Some blamed him, others pitied him. It were as if he too had fallen, and yet, Malice had not been his Valkyrie.
Oh yes, they had seen the long, blonde hair, braided back with beads and chains. Those stormy eyes and that ferocious will to fight, but it was not Malice who had turned him in the end. They may have looked the same, held the same blood in their veins, but Jack’s Valkyrie was much older and he’d made a promise to watch over Malice. Some job he’d done.
Auch, why was he thinking like this? He was supposed to be celebrating, not looming over the inevitable. All in all, the evening had been entertaining. He couldn’t deny the smiles and chuckles that had escaped upon discovering the drunken debauchery and half-naked Elves, mid-dance and lost in a sinful passion.
Everywhere he looked, people were enjoying themselves. Even Gil, who had his eye on his grandfather.
“You, need to come with me!” Gil laughed, tugging at Jack’s arm.
“Oh?” He mumbled, confused, and yet glad the lad had pulled him from his stupor, and right into a round of throwing knives.
A little contest between Gil, Mist, and Brunhilde. The rules were simple, when you missed you took a drink, and by the looks of it the misses where piling up. How could he turn away from showing them all how it was done?
“Your turn, Father! ” Mist teased as she sent him forward.
Jack just shook his head as he stepped up to the line. The Valkyrie were a very, touchy-feely kinda people. It was just who they were. Hell, the only pleasure that was off-limits, was the kind where one partner said no. For everything else, it was anything goes. It was something he’d have to get used to, especially with Mist as his daughter-by-law…
“Less thinking, more throwing!” Gil called out to him.
“Aye, aye!” Jack waved him off, but there was something strange about the air.
It smelled funny. Like Cinnamon…
“You okay, Jack?” Brunhilde inquired, setting her drink down.
“Aye!” He chuckled, shrugging his shoulders, but just as he was going to throw the knife, it dropped from his hand and clattered to the floor. “Malice…”
Mist and the others were immediately by his side.
“Jack, what is it?” Gil asked, one hand on his grandfather’s chest and the other on his shoulder to steady him.
“Malice…” Jack choked out again, “…I felt her, for just a moment, but I felt it.”
“By the Gods!” Brunhilde held her hand over her mouth, “You don’t mean to say…”
“She’s not dead!” Mist shook her head. “I would have felt it too!”
“No!” Jack muttered, rubbing at his eyes. “She’s chosen someone.” He managed to blurt out before another wave of emotion hit him.
“What?” Gil was thoroughly confused. “Who?”
“I,,,” Jack paused a moment. “I think it’s a Kitten.”
Mist and Brunhilde glared at one another, as if expecting the other to explain. Neither could.
“Why in the name of the infinite would she choose a Kitten?” Gil finally asked the question aloud.
“Has she truly gone mad?” Sif inquired quietly.
The red-headed sorceresses writhed beneath her lover’s tongue, unable to pull away from such sinful clutches. Grasping the sheets and stuffing part of them into her mouth to keep from crying out, she waited for what must have been the hundredth wave to crash over her.
“Goddess, Morgan, right there!” Vanessa moaned.
What Morgan lacked in experience she made up for with enthusiasm. She followed the Elven maiden’s instructions, showing herself to be a very apt pupil.
Vanessa’s hands fisted in her friend’s dark hair, before rolling slipping round to taste the sweet treats she’d released. Finally sated, they broke apart for a moment gently stroking each other as Van whispered in Morgan’s ear.
“I told you being with a woman was fun.”
“Yes, you did, and I’ll remember that for the next time.” Morgan answered, still trying to come down from the bliss.
The feeling was beyond divine.
“Oh, there will be a next time?”
“With you, anything is possible.” Morgan grinned, nipping at Vanessa’s neck.
The elder Valkyrie walked the gardens for a while, Brunhilde’s words still looming in the back of her mind. It was a in this stupor that she found Belvaya. Ashlyn could feel that she too was upset about the plan, but what had been done, was done. There was no going back. Nonetheless, she felt the guilt well in her chest.
“I am sorry, Belvaya. There is so much at stake, I did not give feelings about Maisura much thought and I should have.” Ashlyn lowered her head, letting her long, dark hair fall down in front of her face.
“Is there anything I’ve missed?” Belvaya replied with a scowl. “Anything you can think of?”
Was this some sort of test? Ashlyn couldn’t help but think Belvaya was a little angrier than previously thought. Or did she know something that Ashlyn did not?
“There has been an, occurrence.” Ashlyn looked up, eyeing Belvaya. “Jack has shared a vision with Malice.”
“What?” The female blurted out, her face, not as cocky as it had once been.
Any news about Malice, was first and foremost at the top of the assassins need to know list. One of Malice’s only friends, she knew that Belvaya would understand her concerns.
“Malice has chosen someone, and he claims it’s a Kitten.”
Belvaya’s scowl told Ashlyn that she knew how unlikely the scenario was, and she knew what it would mean if it proved true. Choosing someone was no easy task and called for a certain honor and loyalty. Who, on the dark side of the war held any sort of honor? Who would care enough for Malice to show her any sort of loyalty? She was a hard female to please at the best of times, let alone when bat-shit crazy and working for the enemy.
“Can you confirm it?”
“I was hoping you could!” Ashlyn hung her head. “Besides Jack, you are the only other person I can think of who would be that close to Malice…”
“There is one.” Belvaya admitted, the male’s face crossing through her mind. “She trusts him.”
“If you refer to my sister’s fallen Einherjar, may I remind you of his current position among the ranks of our enemy?”
“Peiper has done a lot to try and steer Malice in the right direction.” Belvaya cut in. “And he…”
“And, he what?” Ashlyn was convinced that Belvaya knew something now.
“You asked me never to speak of him, for it would bring dishonor to your sister. My actions were my own and you wanted not to hear about them…”
“I was wrong.” Ashlyn sighed. “I was wrong, Belvaya. I was wrong to ignore this, I was wrong to follow Ellaria’s word. I was wrong, for driving you away. Please, tell me what Peiper did?”
“The night I crept into the Shadowkeep and poisoned the Shak’ Morikai with Fae blood, I didn’t not slip in and out as easily as I claimed.”
“I gathered you were lying, but anger filled your heart and you also, would not listen.”
“Peiper saved me. He saved a lot of people in Primera and word has it, he stands by her side in everything she does. He is trying to save her.”
“Perhaps your sister has something to do with it? Since she is not here to answer the questions…”
“And you think Peiper will help us?”
“I do!” Belvaya replied.