Valkyrie III: Song of Darkness, The Novel Edition

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Chapter Three

Malice sat on a large boulder filing her nails as she watched the Goblin and the Night flyer argue with each other. Bloody fools. Both of them, the Dark Valkyrie thought as she listened intently to their bickering. One of these days, Zander was going to push Skar too far and was likely to get himself eaten. Malice couldn’t help but chuckle. That bastard had been a thorn in her side since day one.
It was during this amusement that she felt the presence. Out of the blue, really, a vision of a feline with the most magnificently colored coat she’d ever seen. Not a large feline, like a Shadowcat, but a Cat nonetheless. A normal, everyday feline you’d find scouring the streets of some backwater town. Her memories told her she’d seen one before, but she couldn’t for the life of her remember where.
Malice stopped filing her nails, startled by the visions. She had been hosted for centuries and had learned to block out the many voices that plagued her mind; most of which were completely insane and beyond reason. Others, she listened to. Their counsel had, at times, brought comfort in the ravages of war, but in all those years she had never had a vison like this.
’Why a cat?’ Came the confused thought, circling through her mind like a whirlwind.
Malice’s fair head tilted to the side in analysis, finally attributing her hallucinations to fatigue. That had to be it. She couldn’t be losing her mind. Not now. She was so close to claiming her prize. Her long, blonde hair whipped back and forth in the wind and tickled her nose, drawing her attention back to the here and now; and the continuous bickering from the half-Goblin reject.
Left with an eerie feeling coursing through her veins, she put her file back up her sleeve and rose from the rock, making to mount her steed. He was a gorgeous animal with scales and attitude as dark as they claimed her soul was. The perfect match, in her opinion, and she howled as she called out for the horde to follow the massive winged beast.
“To war, Nari.” She caressed the beast’s neck, then looked to the horde once more. “To war, you bastards!” She ordered, tearing across the rubble to the front of the line. “We will find the traitor and bring Misthaven’s new prince to his knees.”
She’d been given orders to eliminate both the trickster name Loki and the male who had taken up ranks within the Valkyrie. Whether she followed them to the letter or not, remained unknown, even to her. A wild card. A heathen of war and bringer of death. A soul lost in the darkness and trapped in the evil clutches of a madman. There were so many names that they called her, and yet she wished only to here one voice, one set of lips dropping sweet words upon her cheek…
‘Forever you are ours, and we are yours!’ Such beautiful tones, the way her many voices melded together into a melody both captivating and sincere.
She was loved and that was all that mattered. That was why she was fighting. Not for Pathen. Not for the Eno’tai Queen who had betrayed her once again and banished her most loyal companions to… and for what? To teach her a lesson? No, she fought, not for them but for the one who held her heart in her hands, and when this was over, Malice was going to see Marena whether her dark lord and his benevolent bitch approved or not. The time for punishment was over. Nothing in this Verse, or any other, was going to keep Malice from seeing her, feeling her touch once more. It had been too long and she could no more stand the sound of Zander’s hideous voice as she could the stench that lingered about her. She’d had enough of Pathen’s secrets and lies, enough to last her a lifetime, but she couldn’t rebel, not just yet. Her want to see her female, her needs, would have to wait a little while longer.
“By the Gods…” Malice sighed, envisioning the waves of chocolate-brown hair that cascaded down about sun-touched shoulders and those emerald-green eyes that sparkled in the moonlight…
‘I do think of you, my beloved, my Marena…..’ She whispered to herself, wishing her words would carry on the winds and deliver her heartfelt messages to waiting ears.

***

It had been months since last they’d laid eyes upon one another. Horrid, anxiety filled months; but then, they had suffered through it before and she was determined to survive the dark lord’s latest round of torture. Still, the feeling that grew within her threatened to burst free, her emotions clouding her reason for being here. Entrusted to bestow her Master’s will upon this particular clan, she had hoped the sight of the warrior would leave the past as it was, a faded and withered memory; but standing in her tower now, alone and afraid, she was doubting her ability to withstand the darkness.
She had tried to forget her, to love him instead. It had taken nearly everything in her as she’d tried to do her best and console his anger, even more so when it came to his desires. Even in his hatred, he lusted for her, for the power he knew she would soon control. It was her throne. This, was her army, or would be one day if they Queen would only forgive her.
One day… If only that day were now. Her master grew weaker, but then, so did she without the warmth and comfort of a true lover. Trapped in the shadows, forced to kneel and pretend, and what had she gotten for it? Nothing, no longer the shining star in their eyes. A few secrets revealed here, faces unmasked there, and a whole lot of heartache. Her lord had used her, abused her, and now he tortured her; keeping her from the one who had made her life complete. Her Queen did nothing to stop his horrid ways, shaking her head at the mere sight of her. Still, she served them, a madman who’d stolen her throne, just as Malice had promised he would, and the female she’d always considered a mother, no longer so. She had unwillingly betrayed them, and in doing so, betrayed herself; or so they had claimed the day they sent Malice away. Marena would never forget that day.
Now, cloaked in darkness and hidden away in the shadows, she followed her warrior with her eyes until the Valkyrie disappeared into the fog atop her Flyer, taking with her a heart stolen in silence. Where they were sending Malice this time, she had no clue. Their paths had been separated for a reason. They were to live apart and learn that their love, what they had been allowed to cultivate, was a privilege; and could be revoked at any moment. Well, she didn’t see it that way at all, not when her whole reason for being had just disappeared on some secret mission once again. Would she return from this latest round of chaos?
“Marena?” His voice called from the doorway and she felt the dread wash over her.
Kybun was their latest Commander, her latest guard, a rough and ruthless brute who aimed to please his lord. He ruled over them all with an iron fist and bore within his chest a Host far older than her own. His was stronger, smarter and not in the least bit charming; but then, their lord had needed him to command with fear, not lounge about with lovers in his lap. The crew-cut, white hair and scars across his face did their job well and his hoarse voice was enough to send chills down her spine, but he was nothing compared to the Host within. Bound in a union broken only by death; she was a play thing, a toy to be used and discarded now. They all were. Her lord’s private harem of secrets and sin.
“They are ready!” He told her and ushered her towards the door, his eyes narrowing beneath a furrowed brow. “My lady? The council awaits.”
He’d been watching her and now she had a job to do, one which she supposed would be easier to address, now that the warrior had taken her leave. But, being here again, in this place, the memories were overwhelming her. This had been their keep. Their solace. This was where they’d been torn from one another, and this was where she’d been told she’d spend the next few weeks, if not months. Trapped in this horrid tower, surrounded by those who knew what had happened and snickered behind her back. Once a place of pleasure and sin, now a torture house and everyone but her had a key to freedom.
“Very well!” She sighed, bowed her head and brushed past the male, so tall and ominous, she could see naught but the whites of his eyes and his teeth when he spoke to her from within his hooded cloak.
She’d been summoned to report on the latest battle, inquire about losses and make recommendations towards improvements; or at least, that’s what they’d told her. She knew the real reason she was here, the test they wanted her to complete. How would she fair around the warrior? Could they be trusted again, together? Marena would stay here, surrounded by the memories, and the Masters would watch as she followed their orders and slowly went insane.
“My Lords!” She bowed her head and entered a room lit by dozens of candles, and one by one they bowed their heads in kind.
“Lady Marena!” The Commander ushered for her to sit. “May we begin?”
It, had already begun. The hot flashes. The naughty thoughts. She had to focus. She had to prove to them that she and the Dark Valkyrie could work side by side. She couldn’t let them see that the mere scent of her was enough to drive Marena mad with longing.
And so she pressed on. “The battle is underway, but I must urge caution. The Shadows have suffered great losses these past months and we cannot afford to have their bickering upset our plans.” She started. “May I direct your attention to the scrolls before you...” She paused, giving them a chance to catch up.
“Should we be looking for new allies?” One of them let out, an older male with snow white hair growing in patches behind his ears. “If the Shadows can suffer such loss, are they really worth the goods we trade them? How will they protect our secrets if they cannot protect their own?”
“You can ask them, when they arrive!” Marena bowed her head. “Lady Ohnassa will be here in less than an hour!”
“Excellent. I would like to hear more on the subject. I am told she put the whole coven to the sword, males, females, even the young.” One of the hooded males laughed. “Savage, that one is.”
Marena tried not to let the words get to her. She didn’t want to believe the rumors. The whole coven, butchered over one, innocent tryst…
“And how is our lord, lady Marena?” Another inquired, drawing her back to the here and now.
“He rests.” She smiled back. “There will be time enough for social gatherings when he awakens.” She lied.
Marena had no idea where her lord was, but he sure as hell wasn’t resting. The fool hadn’t rested in centuries and the madness was taking its toll on him. Perhaps, if she would ever be so lucky, it would consume him to the point of no return and his powers would diminish? If only it could be that easy. Pathen, was far too mean to die.
“You must tell him that we look forward to another of his ceremonies. The Shadowlands have been, quite dull, as of late.”
“I will.” Marena nodded and clasped her hands before her. “Now, Lord Merran, how goes your quarrel with the Angels in the borderlands?” She continued with a hopeful mind.
The Angels were proving to be incredible opponents, and Marena could still dream of Pathen’s defeat. If only one of those Angels could slip through the line and…

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