• Matt Brown

Valkyrie Chapter 26

“How’s the food?”

Eijar looked up, then nodded. “It’s likely the best thing I’ve eaten in some time.” It wasn’t far from the truth. The spices used to accent the roasted yak were expensive. The vegetables served with it were stewed so they melted in your mouth, yet retained their flavor.

The wine tasted strange, though. Eijar noted a wide smile crept its way onto Viktor’s face as he drank. He bit his tongue, opting not to say anything, but his senses were screaming.

Viktor’s up to something.

Just looking at the ambitious Thran was bad enough. He had murdered so many people. It made sense why Ylva would offer up Norn to be Purged. He was a sacrifice to make the meeting Viktor possible.

“I’m pleased that you like it,” he replied. “It’s a special brew that I have been working to perfect.”

“I take it you plan to serve it to the Thran to impress them?”

Viktor looked genuinely surprised. “Perceptive,” he replied.

Eijar tensed. He’s hiding something. The Thran’s tone was pleasant but veiled with caution.

I see unlike the rest of the Blades you actually seem to listen,” Viktor commented pouring himself a drink.

At first, Eijar hadn’t given it much thought to there being a bottle of wine for each of them, but Viktor didn’t strike him as the type that didn’t do anything without a purpose. “I was taught to pay attention to the details. Bovar rants when he’s angry and he talks in his sleep when drunk.”

Viktor laughed. “He is such a brute and as bright as a yak.”

“I wouldn’t cut him short,” Eijar replied. “It takes a unique individual to keep a band of thieves, murderers and worse in line.”

The Thran nodded. “Still, you’d Purge them all if you could, wouldn’t you, Eijar?”

He shifted his attention from Viktor to Ylva. She was trying to hide it, but for some reason, she seemed eager. “Happily.”

The ease with which the words left his lips left Eijar feeling cold and empty. It was as if the months of pent up resentment for the Blades had come to the surface all at once.

Viktor smirked. “In time, perhaps such an arrangement can be made,” he said. “Times are going to change soon enough.”

“This isn’t Absion, even if I have acted as judge and jury.”

“Absion or not, I think we both seek the same thing,” Viktor replied. “This country needs a single hand to guide it, not a broken collection of warlords and territories.

Eijar took another drink. “I doubt the path to bringing such order is the same for us,” he commented.

“Ah, Absonian values,” Viktor mused. “Order, discipline, structure…Justice. Tell me if these values what you hold so dear, then why are you here?” he added. “Or have they betrayed you?”

Eijar bit his lip. The Thran’s tone was every bit as condescending as the expression written across his face. He unclasped his cloak, letting it fall onto the stone floor behind his chair. It was getting hotter, his skin was already starting to tingle.

“When your people go to war, whose values do you follow?” The Thran asked. “Is it your precious Emperor? Who decides what is just then?”

Eijar noted Viktor shifted his attention to the brand on his arm. “It’s a matter of faith,” he replied. “A belief in absolutes.”

“Faith?” Viktor sneered. “Seems a little convenient,” he added. “So what determines who is right or is your belief that you know truth from lies so sturdy?”

Eijar smiled. “That’s all there really is. It’s either one or the other,” he replied. “Even now I can see that you are hiding things. I can also hear the cries of those you have murdered.”

Ylva suddenly shifted, her stoic features giving just enough to show that this wasn’t how she planned this meeting to go. Clearly, she thought that Viktor might use him, just as Bodvar had.

Sadly, Viktor was no better than the Blade’s leader. ‘Rule of Law’ was a laughable notion. There would be no release, only butchery. Eijar bit the inside of his cheek and steadied his breathing.

“If you intend to use me as Bodvar has, then I offer a warning,” he said. “I say this not to threaten you, but to urge caution. My curse, as with any other Inquisitor, hinges on absolutes. We spend our lives in devotion to a single principle, one of truth.”

Viktor rolled his eyes.“Truth?” he replied. "What truth?"

Eijar smiled. “What indeed.” He knew better than to use one of the techniques taught by the Inquisition. Bodvar had him use it on a few rebellious members of the Blades.

It would be simple to force the truth out of Viktor, but also suicide. The technique took a lot out of the user, especially if the recipient had a strong will. Ylva would likely cut him down for even trying.

“Eijar, I want to be clear on something,” Viktor said. “I will rule Sokoras and the time will come when the Blades are no longer needed.” He leaned forward, the intensity in his eyes growing. “Your abilities, can help me ensure that a level of order can be established once that happens.”

Despite the heat building up in his body, the determination written on Viktor’s face gave him chills. The Thran would do anything to accomplish his goal.

How many would you kill? How much blood would satisfy your ambitions? Eijar sighed. “One Inquisitor, won’t be enough, even if I were to agree.”

Viktor smiled. “Who says there will be only one?” He paused, finishing off the wine in his mug, then poured more for himself. “You could train others,” he added. “In fact I ask that you would.”

It was subtle, veiled in a request, but it almost seemed as if Viktor was ordering him to train others to be just like him.

How little he knows. It’s just not that simple. Eijar looked down at his plate and glanced up at Viktor. “What I can do is not something you can simply teach,” he replied. “This is not a mage academy or druid grove where you extert your will over what is or connect with something in nature.”

Viktor frowned, though Eijar could sense that he was displeased for another reason. Whatever plan or deception he was orchestrating had failed. “Then explain it to me Inquisitor,” he said.

“I already have,” Eijar replied. He reached for one of the small red potatoes on a nearby plate and placed it in front of him on the table. “Do you know why the inquisition only teaches children to be Guardians and Inquisitors?”

Viktor shook his head.

“Because, they are still innocent. The see the world with unjaded and unsoiled eyes. They retain the ability to believe in something as an absolute,” Eijar said. “Unlike this potato, which has been seasoned, baked and softened,” he added smooshing it against the table. “Even then, some struggle with the teachings and meditations.”

“I was raised by the Inquisition, I believed in what we did. The Law was absolute. It was my compass.” Eijar stared the potato’s remains. He would have smiled at the irony if not for the sound of Viktor bursting into laughter.

“You were betrayed after all!”

The words were like a knife sliding between Eijar’s ribs and into his heart. He didn’t answer, but simply looked up Viktor. It was getting unbearable to sit in the same room with him. The cries of those he had murdered were growing louder than a whisper.

“If you truly seek order and think you can get the other Thran to follow you, then I will help you. I have terms, most of which I’m sure Ylva can explain, but one is unconditional.”

Viktor sat back, regarding him curiously. “And that term would be?”

“That the child Bovar claims as his be protected, regardless of circumstance.”

Eijar suddenly regretted speaking the words. He had given Viktor the one thing he had never intended. Leverage. He felt his stomach turn over, feeling like a fish on a line that was being reeled in. The smile on the Thran’s face spoke volumes.

“Fine, I will give Ylva the responsibility of keeping her safe and leave some of my own to watch her.”

Eijar nodded and stood. “Then I’ll be leaving,” he said, moving around his chair and stooping to pick up his cloak.

“I haven’t dismissed you yet,” Viktor replied rising to his feet.

Eijar kept walking toward the door, stopping to open it, then looked back at him from over his shoulder. “If I stay, I’ll probably try to kill you,” he replied. “The cries of those you have murdered is growing too loud to bear.”

He closed the door behind him, then stopped and waited. He pressed himself against the wall, hoping the door was thin enough. Thankfully Viktor was raising his voice.

“I should kill him!” Viktor growled from the other side.

“Viktor no, we can use him,” Ylva replied.

“No, we can’t,” he replied. “The new mixture has no effect on him.”

“Maybe it was a bad batch again?” she replied.

“No I tested it,” he said. “The results were perfect.”

“Tested?” she asked. “You wouldn’t use it on me would you?”

“Ylva…” his harsh tone softened. “I would never, do such a thing to you,” he said. “I love you after all.”

Eijar shook his head. Lie all you like, but now everything makes sense. Ylva was a slave to his whims through some potion Viktor had cooked up. The things that she had done were because of him.

Eijar quietly crept away from door. Eadra, you had better be alive though i'm not sure how that will help.

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