Valkyrie III: Song of Darkness, The Novel Edition

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Chapter Forty-Two

It was hard to believe that this mangled piece of metal was supposed to contain the most powerful female he’d ever known; none the less, he was determined to weave the sacred runes deep into its core. They would help to weaken the Host’s hold on the Dark Valkyrie…
Why did he keep calling her that? Why had he allowed himself to fall in line with their way of thinking? Malice was not dark, simply corrupted by it. She is, not was, Valkyrie. She is, his Malice; or she would be again once he’d worked this hunk of whatever it was into Mist’s idea of a control collar. The thought of Malice wearing it not only excited him, but it scared him as well.
Malice was not an animal to be chained, even if he planned on making this the most elegant piece of jewelry she’d ever worn. He’d made others, but nothing quite like this. The base materials alone were of the highest quality, rescued from the vaults of the Celestial Temple before it vanished without a trace.
The real deal, tempered in the Forge of Stars and enchanted by the Gods themselves. It was said to harbor the strength and wisdom of many warriors; Loki just hoped it would be enough.
Picking up the long, charred clamps, he took hold of the hunk of shimmering silver, thrusting it deep within his kiln. The embers flickered and sizzled, glowing like Demon’s eyes before him and he laughed, He’d often imagined a crew of sordid workers, huffing and puffing away beneath the red-hot stones. Anything to keep his mind off the unknown.
A wandering mind was a bad thing, especially for Loki. It got him into trouble. The road to his cell, paved with intentions of an innocent sort. Malice had been the only one to quash his need for excitement, often providing enough of her own to keep him sated for days on end.
Oh, those had been the days. Malice and Loki. Loki and Malice. Some had teased that they’d be mated one day. Two halves of one soul, bonded in the blessings of the ancients. It had been everything he’d ever wanted, and for a time, his spree of nefarious incidents had all but come to a halt. She’d always said that he’d saved her from the chaos of a broken heart. He’d saved her from herself, but in reality, it was the other way around. She’d saved him.
With her, life was just, right.
“Bloody hell!” He growled, dropping the clamps before racing to a nearby trough of water, his arm burning as if flames had replaced the blood in his veins.
“You keep thinking of that female, and you’ll see a lot more of that!” Came a chuckle as the old Dwarf shuffled across the stone floor towards him, tying the strings of his apron about his waist.
“I’ve no time for lectures, Albrecht!” He grumbled, the pain still searing up his arm and into his chest.
Playing with fire was painful enough, but the embers of a campfire were nothing compared to the deafening void of spasms that erupted when molten metal splashes against one’s flesh. It burned away more than a few layers of skin, right down to the nerves and muscle beneath. Every moment was formulated to cause such suffering, as a reminder, in case you were ever foolish enough to make that mistake again.
That was only the first five minutes, as if the pain alone wasn’t enough to have you falling to your knees, the smell of charred flesh begins to seep into your nose, seeing you avoid every morsel from now until the end of time. The stench literally crept into your taste buds and poisoned them.
“Come now, let me see it before your mind does away with you!” The male sighed, tugging at Loki’s sleeve.
“I’m fine!” Loki choked out as the sudden warmth returned the moment he withdrew his arm from the water.
“Your fine, and my fine, are not the same thing.” Albrecht frowned. “You can bloody well show me, or you can show the Medicus.”
Now, that was uncalled for. The male knew fine well that that, that, harlot, was nothing more than just that. Sure, she knew how to tend to the wounded, but...
“Take it as a compliment, Loki! The female likes you is all!”
“Twice now, you’ve convinced me to see her, and twice, she’s tried to undress me for, medical purposes.” Loki frowned, returning his arm to the water a moment longer, before glancing at the kiln. “Dammit!”
“I’ll get it!” Albrecht laughed, again shuffling across the floor. “But a bit of advice?”
“As if asking my thoughts beforehand would stop you?” Loki grumbled.
“The Dark Valkyrie...”
“She is not, dark!” He hissed, attempting to peal a dead string of skin from the wound.
“She is at the moment, Loki. So, you can either come to terms with the fact that our enemy has stolen your female, and you hold the key to getting her back; or you can continue daydreaming and lose an eye next time!” Albrecht scolded him.
The male had balls, saying the things he did, but Loki knew he meant well; for the most part. The old bugger had a bit of Loki’s fire in him, there was no telling what the Dwarf would be up to next.
“Aye, there you go!” He mumbled to himself, clearly proud of his patch job. “Nicely done, I must say! But you’d better go see that Medicus and get looked at nonetheless. Don’t want it getting infected.”
“Uh, how about not? I have stuff to do!”
“ No worries, no worries. I’ll watch over your prize until you return!” He ushered the male across the room. “Go on, get a salve to help it heal!”
“Why must you always test my patience?” Loki growled.

***

“She’s here!” Marena gasped, clenching her hand to her chest and those who stood about her as she dressed, kept silent.
They were, after all, mutes. Every last one of them, tongues removed and lips sewn shut so as not to provoke the Masters they served. They were forever patient and forever loyal. The same could be said for most of the slaves, save being mute. Only those who served in the bed chambers were required to sacrifice, in hopes the secrets they witnessed would stay as such.
Her secret, was safe. This she knew, hovering in a corner before her mirror as her silent companions wove the last of her silks through her corset. Long, bony fingers protruded from massive sleeves while hoods covered their faces. They would dress her and then tend to her room. This was life and it was what it was; but now, it was something more.
She, was here. Marena could feel her presence as if the storm sat atop them, lightning and thunder crashing down with a powerful vengeance. She was here, in the keep; but how? And why?
What had possessed her to return to this place? One so forbidden and riddled with memories...
The fear flashed through her, but it was not her own. Her Host could hear his heart beating so fast.
‘He calls for us!’ Marena heard To’llan’s voice in her mind. ‘Our darkness has returned!’
That should have brought peace to Marena’s heart, but now it beat just as fast as Pathen’s. What was Malice doing? Why had she come back? They’d surely kill her for this.
‘She delivers a gift, young one.’ To’llan giggled, ‘A gift well received, indeed. We must go to her, quickly now, and remember that, which was returned to you!’

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