Loki swallowed hard, contemplating the inevitable. Malice was dangerous enough on her own, let alone surrounded by her new lover and those he could feel but not see. Something told him that if he stepped one inch out of line with the dark-haired lover, she’d rip his face clean off. There was an aura about her, ancient, like Mal’s.
“I just wanted to talk. I’ve even brought you a peace offering, as the humans say. I am, trying to bury the hatchet, as it were.” He mumbled. “Some would say I betrayed you, but in truth, I only wished to secure secrets for you, the best way I knew how.”
“I see.” Mal replied, deeply suspicious of Loki’s motives. “And this, is the hatchet?” She eyed the gift he held in his hands, a mere trinket compared to the beauty who basked naked in the pool with them.
Loki’s gifts were not something to take lightly, often bearing hidden obligations, or just plain trickery. They did not call him the God of Mischief for nothing.
“What’s does it do?” She asked with a raised brow. “I sense a magical presence. An Earthly, presence. What scheme have you and Albrecht dreamed up now?” Malice was snarling, causing Marena to take a stand behind the newest arrival.
First the Cat and now this?
“There is no scheme, Mal. This whole, being the epitome of all evil, has totally twisted your mind.”
Malice’s expression softened, feeling the spark of compassion within him. Maybe he did care? But then, Loki was like her, powerful and feared. She expected nothing less than a bag of chaos from the male. Knowing this, the Valkyrie walked over to a table and poured Loki a goblet of mead before introducing her lover. She would tread carefully for the time being.
“Marena, my love, this is Loki of the Aesir.” She smiled and held out her hand for the female to take. “Loki, this is Marena, Mistress of Shadow Tower.”
Malice grinned as he kissed Marena’s hand like a courtier, then shoved him forward until he was face first between her naked breasts. Marena giggled, embracing the male’s warmth as Malice pulled one of his arms up behind his back. She winked at the dark-haired female, making sure Loki stayed put and got as close to his ear as she could.
“Now, tell me what your gift, really does!” She whimpered in his ear, letting her tongue flicker across the tip of his lobe.
Both Jack and Gil were readying their satchels when the fire-bell began to ring and with one blink, the both of them disappeared from the main hall and found themselves faced with a blaze. The people stood back as the mages set to work, quashing the inferno with bouts of icy-blue fire and off in the distance they could see Mist, surrounded by a troop of her guards.
Whatever had happened, it was going to set them back at least a day, and that was just to put out the blaze.
“Bloody hell!” Jack sighed, running his hands through his hair. “And I thought we were heading to war, not that it was coming here.”
Gil remained silent, concentrating as he walked, on the charred corpses at his wife’s feet. Two of them, burnt to a crisp and one without a head that seemed to still smolder. Mist remained unharmed, a relief that flooded through him like a raging torrent.
She was talking to Khia when he embraced her, comforting the shakes that had taken hold in anger. Gil looked down at the bodies, shaking his head, then turned back to his wife.
“You, okay?” He whispered against her forehead.
Mist was the most level headed of the two sisters and yet here was the proof that even she had her limits. He chuckled as he looked at the corpses, still rubbing his jaw.
“That’s a real close shave.” Jack huffed as he slid his index finger across his own throat, mimicking the scene before them.
Gil looked at him warningly. Mist was in no mood for jests, but before he could say anything, Morgan and Vanessa arrived at what was left of the tower, their faces adorned with scowls.
“Fighting fire, are we?” Vanessa grinned, then gestured, adding her own skills to the effort.
“Nice!” Morgan laughed, watching as Vanessa’s magic combined with the others and the flames began to subside.
From the wreckage called a voice, one that caused the copper-aired female to cringe and shudder. Mist took note of this, as did Khia, who reached into the burning embers and pulled forth the charred male clinging to his last breath. This disgrace had survived. One of them, who dared defile the innocence of another.
“Death must follow dishonor.” She growled, but a sword was not needed, for Lady Khia bore something even more deadly.
With a smile she passed beside Mist and nodded her head as she kissed her ring. Mist recognized the black rose that sat upon Khia’s middle finger, gleaming as if the Mistress had breathed life into its petals.
“With your permission, of course?” Khia raised her eyes to meet the dark-haired Valkyrie’s, a grin slipping across her face as her mighty sword was returned to its sheath.
“Always!” Mist bowed her head and stood with arms open as Khia sent the young female to Mist’s side, and turned to face the male who cowered in his diminishing state before her.
“Among my kind, to take of that which is not yours, is punishable by death...” She stopped short, running her fingers across her lips and then back to the ring. “...but you took something with greatest of value, leaving pain in its place.” She shook her head before whispering in his ear. “For that, there will be no death for the likes of you, only suffering!” She smiled as she pulled away.
The male tried to mutter, but Khia was far from done and raising that ring before her lips, she exhaled. He couldn’t see it at first, but as Khia walked back to stand beside Mist, he could feel the darkness creep into his veins. Long, thick vines covered his arms and legs, the thorns digging deep as they slid along his skin. He howled as the burn swept over him, writhing on his knees by the time the guards appeared behind him, linking their arms beneath his as they pulled him to his feet.
“Take him beneath the keep and see that he survives the first dose!” She eyed the males shrouded in thick black cloaks. “Inform Kordahn that he is not to feel relief until I return!”
“Of course, Mistress!” The males replied in unison, then lifted the whimpering bastard up and all three vanished from sight.
“That’s a bloody cruel joke to play on a man!” One comrade let out, shaking his head in disgust.
“A bloody joke, indeed!” Khia looked back at the copper-headed female, more so, to the small trickle of blood that ran down from her lip. “It is a pity, that you would shed light upon such a ghastly fact...” She grinned and before he knew it, he too received a kiss from her ring.
Again the vines spread across the skin and that agonizing cry let out. There was no stopping it this time, no inkling of remorse flickering inside her as he begged for his life. He may not have had a hand in what had happened, but to speak against the Mistress was a crime far worse in a time of war.
“I had no idea, Khia...” Mist started, but Khia brought her finger to her lips.
“Speak none of this, for there are rats in every garden and I am but a gardener tending the roses!”
“Of course, and what have you brought for us!” Mist inquired, taking her place as ruler of Misthaven once more. “What information has passed through your garden?”
“It would seem you already know!” Khia smiled at the troops as they readied themselves below. “Your sister moves against you with a legion of her own.”
Mist nodded her head and turned to her guard. “We ready to defend ourselves, but...” She stopped short, eyeing Khia up and down. “...come, let us discuss this in private!” She raised her hand for Khia to take. “You must need a drink, and some more powder for that ring of yours!” She grinned.
“It will return to its rightful owner soon enough!” Khia sighed, toying with the symbol that held the Guild together. “I miss her dearly.” She added. “The old, her. This new her has been a pain in my backside for far too long.”