“Spread out! I want every corner of this place searched, and someone bring me the Caliph!” Belvaya ordered, taking control of the situation.
Malice had offered one hell of an ultimatum, and then poof, Mist had disappeared. Whether it was the dark Valkyrie who’d made it so, or there were other forces at work, Bel didn’t know, but she was damn well going to find out.
“Get those bodies on the carts, they smell bad enough when they’re alive, we don’t need the stench of death clouding our lungs!” She heard Loki call out as he too joined in attempt to clear the courtyards.
There were Goblin carcasses everywhere, most of them dead and those who weren’t, would be soon. Today was just not their day for an invasion. Malice still waited beyond those walls, or so she’d been told, and she had a mind to march out there and see for herself whether she kept Mist locked up in chains; but she didn’t. She would wait and tidy this mess with the others until Ashlyn and Khia told her to do otherwise.
“Get your asses moving faster!” Loki growled at a few slackers.
At least her wait would be entertaining.
The hand of the death sat on her throne in the construct she had created watching through Malice’s eyes in fascination. The Valkyrie was more astute than she realized. Instead of taking Misthaven by force, Malice was playing the victim. They would listen to her, if only to give meaning to the hope they’d harbored over her triumphant return.
Suckers, all of them. It would be a shame to leave the Valkyrie, when it finally happened. No one was as cunning as she.
‘A masterpiece of deception. Why conquer a city when you can simply take it over from within?’ Marwolaeth chuckled, deep inside Malice’s mind.
She knew Malice would wait until they trusted her, they’d take her in, try to heal her. Once those doors were closed, she’d have them right where she wanted them and the line of Valkyrie in this Verse would be ended.
Smiling in her little coven of darkness, Marwolaeth remembered something that Malice had told her once. It was one of her favorite sayings when faced with getting the job done.
‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend, until one or both parties try to knife each other.’ Marwolaeth said softly before her lips curled in a sinister grin. ‘Bravo Malice. Well done.’
Deeper inside Malice’s mental inventory, a being of great worth hid in the shadows, watching and growling as the Host writhed in her joy. She would remain hidden until Malice’s plans played out. Watching and waiting for the chance to finally free her. She could feel the Host’s presence like a dark, malingering cloud. While Marwolaeth was awake, Malice would have to work twice as fast though she dared not speak out in warning, lest she incite any unwanted attention.
Whoa, now Belvaya had to stop for just a second and take a good look at what the hell was going on. Did Malice just, switch sides? Or was Belvaya going mad?
Having watched as the Dark Valkyrie moved freely among the others, and the smiles... were they all fucking mad? What sort of jiggery-fuckery was this? She’d not seen such immature behavior since, well, since they planned their latest scheme at the academy.
Malice and Mist had let off hundreds of practical jokes, working together to confuse and manipulate their targets. Bad twin, good twin. Hunter and hunted. Good verses evil. It had all been a game to them, but here and now, none of this made sense.
‘You are wrong!’ She heard the chuckle in her mind and closed her eyes, searching for the presence across the battlefield. ‘It makes, perfect sense!’
She’d not heard that voice in a long, long time, unsure even, if what she heard was real or some ploy to confuse and manipulate her. Malice was cunning and Belvaya sure as hell wouldn’t put it past her.
Mist would never put her people in harm’s way for a joke, but Malice? Belvaya could see it in the Valkyrie’s eyes. She was not herself. This was not, her game.
‘Again, you are wrong!’ The voice chuckled and Belvaya growled.
‘I would ask that you refrain from surfing my thoughts!’ She sent back, scouring the crumbling rocks and scattered remnants of war; she had to be here.
‘There is order to this madness, my friend, you only need to open your eyes and see it!’
Of course, with wisdom came riddles, and this particular female was full of them. Well, Belvaya didn’t have time to uncover her true meaning and she knew that Ellaria would never out right tell her. It went against everything the Lady of Light believed in. There had to be balance, there had to be both light and dark in the Verse and she wouldn’t lend hand to tip the scales in any direction; so, what the hell was her most benevolent self, doing here?
‘Because matters require my attention. Malice was never meant to suffer such fates and I am bound by the council’s vote to see that she is freed!’ Her voice swept through Belvaya’s mind.
‘So, you’ve been ordered to undo what was done?’
Oh, there were times when Belvaya wanted to strangle Ellaria, like right now; problem was, you couldn’t always see the female. Hear her, yes; and sometimes, you couldn’t get her to shut up and leave you alone. The Lady of Light had a pretty fucked up way of looking at things and it was always a read between the lines, kind of deal. There were two sides to every coin and no one could ever predict which side Ellaria would land on…
Belvaya was well aware of what had happened only a few months ago. The whole fucking Verse had heard about Euphamia, and how Ellaria had turned her back on her own daughter. Wouldn’t lift a finger in a time of great need. Euphamia hated her for it now.
‘I did not turn my back on her!’ Ellaria’s voice grew cold and a moment later Belvaya felt the presence beside her.
Draped in a dark cloak with nothing but the blood red tips of her hair showing, Ellaria stood upon the wall next to her with a growl.
“She is my blood, Belvaya!” Her voice sounded sweeter when in person, but Belvaya knew just how benevolent she could be.
“You let her mate die. You could have stopped it, but you didn’t!”
“That is not why I am here.”
“No, you’re here to save someone else, and drive your daughter deeper into madness; but go, by all means, meddle away! Things can’t get any more fucked up!”
Ellaria turned to her, “Malice is meant for great things. There is a darkness coming, Belvaya. It has already awoken and works against us. If Malice were to remain in the clutches of the enemy, we would lose this fight and all hope of containing them once and for all.”
“So, you put a spell on them and now they’re all happy-happy, joy-joy?” Belvaya hissed.
“I do not tinker with spells!” Ellaria growled.
“No, but your little Witch does.”
“Kember is a child, a child who saved your Einherjar’s life, I might add!” The Lady of Light shot back at her.
Belvaya couldn’t think about that right now, not with Malice so close to Loki. Talk about mixed feelings. Was that why Ellaria had come here? To stir the pot? Add salt to the wounds?
“Look at Malice...” Ellaria nodded to the Dark Valkyrie. “... see how confident she is? She believes her sister fooled.”
“Mist is fooled. She’s called for all to fall back to Misthaven, with Malice! That was not the plan!”
“Ah, but plans do change.” Ellaria smiled at her as she watched them fall out and begin preparations for travel. “Would it not be safer to welcome your enemy into your home, knowing they are your enemy? Or suffer the losses of war? The causalities, the horrors and pain as one by one her people fell, to her sister?”
“Could you talk like a normal person, just once?”
“Malice has opened the door, her arrogance providing Mist with an easier option. No longer does she have to fight on the plains of Nasir, with Malice so willing to follow her, regardless of her intentions, Mist will be better prepared inside Misthaven. She now holds the higher card!”
“The what?” Belvaya cocked a brow at her. “Who have you been talking too? The higher card, this is not a casino, you know?”
“And?” Ellaria grinned.
“Well, we wouldn’t want to tarnish that pretty ego you got going on!” She sighed and shook her head. “Dammit, Ellaria! How am I supposed to support this mess?”
“What do you mean?”
“Any normal person would look at what just happened and go, stop the world I want to get off. Malice switches sides in a cocky attempt to confuse just about everyone, and Mist invites her in cause she’s soft like that? You sound just as bat-shit-crazy as them, you know that, right?”
“Language, Belvaya!” Ellaria hissed.
“Oh, I’m sorry. You’re planning to help change the tides of war, but I can’t drop an f-bomb cause it hurts your sacred ears?” Belvaya crossed her arms over her chest with a huff. “How silly of me to forget!”
“These hostilities...” Ellaria came back but Belvaya cut her off.
“...will continue, until I figure out what the fuck is going on. I can’t be the only one who smells the foul game afoot!”
“Then I will leave you to what you do best.” With that, she was gone and Belvaya could finally breathe.
That female had, at times, been like a mother to her; but holy fuck was she down-right.... ugh!
“You done, talking to yourself?” Loki appeared beside her and Belvaya shook her head.
Of course, Ellaria wouldn’t let anyone else see her, but it was okay to let them all think Belvaya was crazy. “Yeah!” She replied with a sigh.
Perhaps she was bat-shit-crazy, and this was what life was really like?