Valkyrie III: Song of Darkness, The Novel Edition

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Chapter Forty-Six

He could see the light through the cracks of his eyes, but to open them any further would blind him. Wherever he was, he hurt bad, and the thought of moving kept him flat on his back. Last thing he remembered, he was facing off with some cloaked bastard, the next he was...
‘Your Valkyrie brought you to us...’
Her words were clear, as was her voice, but for the life of him he couldn’t remember what she looked like, much less where he’d been; or if he’d really been there at all. He remembered being at peace, and then anxiety had set in.
“Shit!” He hissed, his lips burning as he closed them again; an image of Mist rolling into his mind.
She was so young when they’d first met, mind you, he’d been younger still. A junior at the Academy and first in line for tryouts in the League. He’d wanted that placement so bad, a chance to show the world that he could do it. A nothing, a nobody from a backwater planet. He’d fought so hard to get there, only to find her…
She’d arrived with her sister, Malice, gracing the Guild with their presence. There had to have been a hundred assassins there that day, but they’d just walked in like they owned the place. That right there was the moment he’d taken a liking to her, and then to be paired off together to hunt...
It had been the best day of his life, and not just because of where it had landed him. That had come a few years later, returned to his home world to help fight in the war. He’d promised to return to her; a promise she’d helped him keep.
Ahlexander shuddered as that memory crept in. A horrid, vicious remnant of the moment he’d lost it all. His home. His world. His family. All of it gone. They’d come in the night, souring the water supply with a vile plague. Thousands had succumb within the first three days, and millions more as it spread across the lands. His farm ravaged by drought and his family riddled in the depths of disease; his own body crippled and covered in lesions as he lay with his sword in hand.
She’d come for him then, braving the wasteland of dead and dying, and tending to those who yet drew breath along her way. She’d tried to help his people, tried to help him, but his fight had already been lost by the time she found him. Nonetheless, she’d knelt down beside his body and recited the ancient words of her people. A Valkyrie’s gift to those worthy souls who’d given their all in the name of honor. A chance to once again fight with purpose...
“Mist?” He’d mumbled as death stole the life from his body.
“You will become my Einherjar and you will, now and for always, fight in my name for the worthiest of causes.”
“And what be this cause?”
“Honor, and justice. Let them both be your guides...”
“But why?” He’d asked her when he’d opened his eyes and found her staring up at him. “You’d sworn never to take a ward.”
“I never thought I’d have to take you!” She’d replied and lay a kiss upon his forehead.
His first love. His Valkyrie, and yet, even their love had faded in the light of his duty. An Einherjar first, a lover, second, and when the task at hand had led him into the arms of another...
“You will always be a part of my heart.”
She had said the day he’d left her side.
“Bloody hell!” He groaned, his heart aching in his chest as the memories played out.
It was all so long ago, and yet to him, it was as if it were happening right here and now…

***

Loki came out of the shop where he had been working on the final touches on what he called, Malice’s gift. The piece was perfect, sitting against the neck of the mannequin, shining in the candle light; and in the center of such magnificent art, was a stone pulled from the heavens above. He smiled as it glimmered, reminding him of her as he closed his eyes and called to her; a feat he’d not dared try until now.
‘Malice, it has been far too long!’
Albrecht appeared out of nowhere, looking down at the necklace as he spoke. “You missed the comely wench!” He muttered, captivated by the gleam and throwing Loki of guard.
“Who?”
“Blue and white hair, nice hips, but one mean-ass Vampire nonetheless.” The male shook his head and turned from the stone.
Loki turned his head to the side and chuckled. “It would seem the fates are gathering their forces to keep Malice from condemning herself.”
The halls above were filled with them, and now, so were his. He couldn’t wait to see who showed up next.
“That’s Malice for you!” Albrecht laughed in kind, though his held a sort of hesitation. “She always has the most intriguing friends.”
“Don’t we all!” Loki grumbled, making his way towards the door. “But none as intriguing as the one you just described.”

***

As if being stuck in the belly of that horrid boat hadn’t been bad enough, now she was trapped in this wretched little manor. What she wouldn’t give to just spread her wings and soar off into the sky; but that right there was bloody forbidden. None could know what she really was, save the two who cared for her. They were nice enough, bringing her food and drink and tending to all in between but still she was not allowed to leave. She’d asked for books, she wanted to read. Scroll upon scroll, she couldn’t get enough. It had been two weeks since last she’d been free, cooped up in a tiny cabin with no end to the chaos in sight.
Books and scrolls carried information, if, one knew where to look. Secret codes and hidden agendas, line upon line written for her eyes only. The last of her kind, or so she’d been told as she watched her brother fall to the ground, broken and beaten by those they once called Master. It was those Masters who’d lined the books with their notes, to be carried off to another in a Ra’vyns tight grasp, for another Ra’vyn to read aloud in the presence of the addressee.
They were messengers, carrying secrets across vast distances, delivering orders to those who waited on the battlefield or hidden within the depths of enemy lands. Chosen for their loyalty and brought forth from another place and time, her people were considered treasured pets; until their secret got out. Whatever had happened, regardless of the rumors, she was alone now. Jayce, was gone. He and the rest of her people had all been wiped out, a general order to kill on sight, hovering over her head like a big fat target. Jayce had had one too, and Remmi and Kairu, Nalan and Torai. One by one, they’d been hunted down and slaughtered; and she wanted to know why. What had happened to upset the balance? Who, had betrayed the coven? Where, was So’lara?
Book after book, scroll after scroll, somewhere in this pile of great texts was the answer. Somewhere, hidden between the lines of ink designed for her eyes to read, were notes, orders even, explaining what had gone wrong and she aimed to find them.
“Can I help you look for something?” His voice caught her off guard and a moment later his eyes captured her own. “You are looking for something, are you not?”
“I am reading!” She replied, returning her gaze to the scrolls before her.
“Reading is one thing, scouring through an entire library is another!” He chuckled. “Jayde’Nassa, right?”
“I do not like that name?” She inquired, but her eyes remained on the texts. “How do you know it?”
“Your picture is everywhere, the reward for your capture is significant!” He reminded her.
“And you wish to claim this reward?”
“Rather the opposite!” He laughed. “The reward I seek comes from friendship and loyalty, not by coin transferring hand!”
He confused her, though she had no time for his little chat, she couldn’t help but listen in. “I know not what you seek, nor do I wish for your friendship. I have had friends before, I have had family, it did not last!” She sighed, rolling up her scrolls before rising from the table, “I do not wish for these things, for they can be taken from me.”
“What do you wish for?”
“Vengeance!” She replied, making her way to the door. “And silence!”
If she could not find it here, she’d return to her room. Surely, they would not follow her in there; until evening meal at least. She did not need the help of one who would call her the name used by her former masters. His mere knowledge of it meant he knew more about her world than any wanted poster could ever offer. She didn’t trust him. She didn’t trust anyone.

***

Doing her best to distract herself from getting lost in Malice’s lustful encounters, the Cosmic Critter crossed their connection and took to stalking the new female in the meadow.
‘I asked who you were…’ She called back to the female, ‘You are not very steady on your feet, are you?’ She teased, though it did appear the new arrival was a bit, intoxicated.
Oh, the people who appeared in this realm. All of them lost, all of them, confused. It took great strength and knowledge to navigate these waters and this idiot had both, if only she’d allow her talents to prosper. Perhaps, she could be taught? No, what was she thinking? She had other things to do, other people to save…
‘Where are you, Cat?’ She heard the call of her latest ward. ‘Come out, come out, wherever you are?’

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