Valkyrie III: Song of Darkness, The Novel Edition

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Chapter Two

Somewhere in the folds of time, a Cat, that didn’t act much like a Cat at all, changed its coloring from the dark and dreary, black and gray stripes, to an array of colors that swept across its coat like a rainbow would the sky. Facing two paths that crossed before her, as if someone had littered the land with design, and listening as the sounds around her changed in pitch, it was a wonder anyone could navigate such nonsense. Ears twitching, whiskers rustling as the breeze past by…
The feline jumped at the sudden feel of the leaves brushing against her tail, vanishing from sight as the fear rippled through her. Reappearing seconds later, in a different place and time, she took a second to dispel the static from her fur. Traveling in such a manner was both invigorating and dangerous. One never truly knew the conditions of where they were heading, until they got there. There were those who could control the jumps, those who could maneuver the sands of space and time, and then there were those who closed their eyes and hoped for the best. One mistake could land you in the middle of an ocean; and what would a pretty Kitty like her, do then?
Listening once again to the chaos about her, she searched for the mind of the one she was protecting; her job was to guide them back to the light and she was more than up for the task.

***

The days had been long, the nights longer still, but the target had been acquired and they were finally on their way home. A month at sea, plundering, pillaging, what more could a man have asked for? How about a warm bed and a female between its sheets? Perhaps some ale for the crew? They’d worked hard to claim their latest victory and from what he could tell, the crew had settled for the taste of a few hand-rolled luxuries. It wasn’t rum, but it kept them entertained for the time being.
The last raid had found their hold filled to the brim and their coffers shimmering in silver and gold. Not bad, when taking into consideration the near miss they’d endured. Someone, had been foolish. Someone, had let their mouth get the better of them, and it had nearly cost the crew their target.
“Here he is, Commander!” A short, stubby looking male called out and the crew parted down the center as the lightning crackled through the skies above.
It had most definitely been a hectic day and tonight didn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon with the storm brewing overhead. He’d been gone a few hours, just long enough to answer the call, and what had he returned to? Chaos. Sheer and utter chaos, and he was about to find out what the fuck had started it all.
“And what does he have to say for himself?” He called back, his crew cheering as the bastard was brought forth.
“Nothing, Sir!” The stubby male chuckled, running a free hand through the matted mess of brown, sea-swept hair.
“Ah, lost his tongue, I see!” Another bellowed, jarring everyone into another round of laughter as the rain began to wash down on them.
It was getting darker, colder, and all he wanted to do was get back into that bed and between those sheets with his female; and he would, just as soon as he dealt with the treason before him. Shoved down to his knees, the young male with shaggy, ginger-colored hair, looked as if he’d seen better days. It wasn’t easy serving under his command and he knew all too well the sacrifices made, but he sure as hell wasn’t letting this little outburst slide.
“Speak and let those you betrayed hear your reasons!” He growled, his voice echoing through the winds. “Tell them, what you valued more than their lives!”
The male remained without voice of his own, his ginger locks whipping about his face as their ship crashed through the waves. “Come on now, I’m told your lips were flapping full steam in that tavern back there. Loud enough for all to hear!” His fist drew back and flew against the male’s face.
As he waited with baited breath, the crew grew restless. Stomping their feet and howling into the night sky; like wild animals, they wanted blood. They could smell his fear, they could smell his betrayal, and they wanted revenge for the lives lost at his hand.
“Speak!” The stubby one let out, the butt of his pistol across the male’s back.
“I’ll only speak to the Captain!” He muttered with blood dribbling down his chin. “I speak, to no one, but the Captain!”
Well, if that hadn’t put a kink in his plans, and as he walked across the deck, he gave a nod, his hand on the door as the first of the screams filled the winds behind him. They wouldn’t kill him, but he owed each and every one of them a tithe. He’d put them at risk, his own brothers and sisters, and now he wanted to plead with the Captain? Did this shit ever end? They had bigger problems to worry about; and her name was Malice. Darkness was on the move.
The large cabin smelled like a tavern. The Captain liked the finer things in life and therefor kept every shelf stocked with the good stuff. He was going to need a drink if he was going to explain himself. They were supposed to be celebrating. Their hold was full and their target secure. Drinks and smoke for every member of the crew; double, if you’d returned draped in a veil of blood.
“It was supposed to be an easy grab!” The voice called to him from across the cabin, hidden behind a veil of its sheets that descended from ceiling to floor.
Shrouded in smoke and the dim light of the candles, he knew what awaited him. He knew, who, awaited him, and he could barely reign in his hunger.
“Supposed to be.” He sighed in reply and lifting the stopper from the glass decanter, he filled two cups. “But then, what we do, what we really do, is never easy.” He grinned and held out her drink.
To that they raised their cups and a moment of silence was shared. It was the least they could do to honor their fallen. From a crew of eighty, only sixty-three would be returning to friendly shores; and to them both, that was totally unacceptable.
“Did we find him?”
No matter what was said, or the way it was said, her voice was like a melody to his ears. For a thousand years he’d served beneath her, and as she came into the light before him, she was more beautiful than ever.
“Of course!” He replied and bowed his head, daring not to defy the diamond shimmer in her eyes.
Long locks of luscious white and sapphire blue, coiling down about her face from the mass pinned atop her head. Legs up and crossed atop her desk, draped in dark leather and bound tight in boots that accented her calves so well...
“Your mind is drifting!” She grinned, cocking a brow, though he dared not look up for to do so would surely signal his defeat.
She may have been his Captain, but she was dangerous; dressed to kill with daggers hidden in places he could only imagine; “They’re in the chest, you’re safe!” She laughed, nodding to the corner as she raised her cup to her plump, red-stained lips.
“I hate it when you do that!” He grumbled and downed his drink before making to the cabinet for another. “I don’t pry into your thoughts.”
“Perhaps you should? No one is stopping you!” She reminded him, sliding her feet down to the floor and then rose from her chair. “My mighty, Ahlexander, Commander of the Seas, why do you not partake in that which is given freely? Have you forgotten so quickly, the pleasures we have shared?” She grinned as she came closer, her hips swaying, her bottom lip in a sinful grip between her teeth.
“This is serious!” He reminded her, though it was more a reminder to himself.
“Our cargo?” She inquired, ignoring his pleas as she took his cup from his hand and placed it down on the desk before him.
“Is in the hold!” He growled into the kiss she lay on his cheek, her fingers brushing his shoulder-length, blonde locks from his royal-blue eyes.
“And the traitor?” She whispered into his ear, then ran her tongue along the edge of jaw.
“The crew is, holding him.”
“Then they can hold him a little longer!” She purred against his lips once more, teasing his entire body with her feminine wiles.
He wanted to give in so badly, but there was more to it than that. “Belvaya, we’ve received word.”
“From the Guild?”
“From Misthaven.” He sighed, hanging his head. “The beacon is lit, they await our arrival.”
He wasn’t sure if it was the tone he had used or the words he had spoken, but her mood changed in a violent torrent and she pounded her fist into her desk. “Fuck!” Belvaya hissed and grabbed the decanter from his hands and he waited for it too to become the next target to alleviate her frustration. “Where is the meeting?” She added, taking a long, hard swig straight from the bottle. “And when?”
“They will meet us on the docks of Samo’ana, and from there, Misthaven, I presume.”
“On the docks, of course. They will want to parade me about like some lost….” The rest of her words were lost as the decanter smashed against the wall.
It had been four thousand years, and Ahlexander knew fine well the emotions that ran rampant in Belvaya’s chest. She both hated and loved Misthaven, and the people within the fair city. She had meant never to return, but she’d been summoned; they all had, and this was one call she could not ignore.
“Damn.” Ahlexander hissed as he left her cabin, closing the door quietly behind him.
“What says the captain?” The elderly male who’d served as quartermaster for the last fifty years, let out, nearly sending Ahlexander over the edge with fright.
“She is not yet ready to hear his lies.” Ahlexander frowned, composing himself before he spoke anything further. “She bids us to make for the isles, and then, Misthaven…”
“Misthaven? Really?”
“There will be laughter, or there will be war, my friend.” He chuckled, slapping the quartermaster on the shoulder.
“If Misthaven is our final destination, my money is on war.” His friend shook his head. “I will ready the men.”

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