Valkyrie Chapter 33
“Mighty Thran, we have done it!”
Viktor rolled his eyes. The childlike expression on Gaius’ face was nauseating. He looked up from the ancient Aetharian tome and sighed. “What have you done Gaius?”
“We know how to make the Fern’s influence permanent.”
It was hard not to stare as excitement nearly overtook him. “How?” The posibilites began filling his mind. This could change everything!
“Dragon’s blood,” the Custodian replied.
Dragon’s blood? Viktor felt his hand brush against the head of his skeggox hanging from the hoop on his belt. “How is this useful, Gaius?”
“Because we just need to find a dragon and mix its blood with yours during the distillation process.”
The Fern must be dulling his mind. “Gaius, where will find a dragon? As far as I knew, the frost giants keep them penned like animals.”
The disappointment on the Custodian’s face was disgustingly childlike. “Maybe we could ask them for one?” he replied.
Viktor felt his chest tightening. “Get. Out. Of. My. Sight.” His axe was already in his hand and the Custodian ran to the furthest corner of the library.
His usefulness was rapidly waning.
It would seem that the batch of fern affecting the man was hindering his ability to think beyond his devotion. Thankfully, strides had been made to prevent that from happening with the newer batches.
The new metal alloy was proving resilient and several liters were already fermenting in the winery. Its tolerance to extreme heat was surprising. The Aetharian’s were an ingenious people. Viktor smiled as a sense of relief washed over him.
So close. Just a few more weeks and Sokoras will be mine. He shifted his attention to the other Custodians. Piles of scrolls and parchment lay scattered about their workstations.
So much knowledge and power.
Not all of it made much sense. One tome spoke of creatures smaller than the eye could see. It was ridiculous of course, but one of the Custodians had said that it explained how some diseases are spread so easily. If it was true, the mastering these creatures would change warfare.
Infecting whole populations to thin the opposition. That, would make conquering other lands so easy. There would need to be a cure, however. A safeguard.
“Dig deep my little bookworms,” he whispered. “We have a kingdom that needs building.”
“Is where I find you?” a familiar voice asked. “Brooding and whispering in the dark of your library?”
Viktor smiled. “Ylva,” he replied, looking toward the doorway. “Why do you sound irritated.”
Her scowl deepened. Judging by her stride she only had one thing on her mind. Viktor felt his heart quicken as she leaned over the table and kissed him.
“Irritated that I have been ignored for several days now.”
Even under the Fern’s influence, the look in her eyes said enough. She was her father’s daughter. Eirik’s temper was legendary and Ylva’s came in as a close second.
“Forgive me, I am growing more consumed by the day for the future that awaits us.”
“Us?” she asked.
Suspicion rang clearly in her voice. Viktor stood and pulled her close. He then slid his hands around her waist and looked up into her pale eyes. “No Thran can rule without a queen,” he replied.
“You act as if I care for such things,” she replied, her lip curled slightly. “You can keep your throne.”
Viktor frowned, though it was hard to maintain. The charade was becoming tedious. “Please reconsider, for us and our future.” Her hard expression melted. The desire to serve him showing in her eyes.
“I will think on it,” she replied.
Her expression changed suddenly, doubt appeared to be seeping in. Viktor reached for the bottle of wine surrounded by stacks of parchment on the table. “Drink, my love?”
She hesitated at first, but again the Fern’s influence still proved strong enough. Ylva took the bottle and drank. Her eyes softened and Viktor smiled.
Mine once again. “Have you learned anything new about our guests?”
She nodded. “According to the servants, he has begun teaching her.”
Viktor narrowed his eyes. “Has he now?”
Ylva nodded again. “Whenever Bodvar is finishes training her she visits Eijar.”
It was interesting but irritating. I wonder. “Bodvar came to me the other day, he was furious about my men’s ‘interference’ in ‘family matters’.”
“Eadra did claim he was his daughter,” Ylva replied.
Viktor tightened his jaw. “Don’t remind me of what he did.”
Ylva backed away. “I’m sorry,” she replied.
“Eadra’s loss hurts our efforts.”
“She wasn’t the woman I’ve heard everyone speak of,” Ylva commented. “Motherhood made her weak.”
“No, motherhood made her vulnerable.”
Ylva nodded. “As you say.”
Victor paused. Something was wrong. It was hard to notice at first because of her pale complexion and tribal paint adorning her skin. “Are you well?”
She simply nodded.
Viktor pressed himself against her, a sultry smile slowly crept its way onto her face in response. “Tonight, you will have my full attention, my love.”
She leaned in and kissed him. Viktor winced as she held him in her vice-like embrace. “Prepare yourself then, you will have much to answer for,” she replied as she pulled away.
“I look forward to it.”
She turned and started toward the door. It was hard not to stare as she walked away. If anything, Ylva was a pleasant distraction, even if she was nothing more than a tool.
Every Thran needs an heir. If you provide me with a son who is Blooded, Ylva, your purpose is fulfilled.
It would be only a slim chance. Females born of the Blood were rare. Rarer than Pure, like Eirik. It was believed though, that they were more likely to give birth to one of their own.
Once she closed the door behind her, Viktor turned to the corner of the library was Gaius was still hiding.
The custodian slowly poked his head out from behind the shelves. “Yes, Great Thran,” he nervously replied.
“Did you finish researching the side effects?”
The Custodian shrank timidly back behind the bookshelf. “I have not, Great Thran.”
Viktor furrowed his brow. “And why is that?”
“Difficulties with the translation,” he replied. “Though, I can guess.”
Viktor frowned. He has no clue. “Then tell me, what is your guess.”
Nervously, he stepped out from behind the bookshelf. “Overuse of the drug will eventually harm the mind. It is possible that the person can become sick and eventually die.”
“Is this why you were so busy researching ways to make it permanent?”
The custodian nodded. “Dragon’s blood is the solution. The Aethar never intended to keep dosing criminals indefinitely.”
Viktor sighed. Besides the Custodians and the slaves on the plantations, Ylva had been one of the initial test subjects. I’ll need a son from you soon, Ylva. I can’t have you dying yet.
Eadra stared up at the ceiling above. Everything still hurt, but the last few days had been a reprieve. It no longer felt as if something were trying to claw its way out from inside of her.
A knock came from the door and she looked up to see Mrina step into the bedroom.
“How are you feeling?”
Eadra winced as she sat up in the bed. Mrina still looked a bit unsettled. It was no surprise, and in her gut, Eadra felt as if Vala had been a harsh teacher. “Weak, but I will live.”
Mrina simply nodded. Though her expression showed her mind was elsewhere.
“How are you faring?”
Mrina shifted her gaze, focusing her attention on the floor. “I do not know. Reliving Vala’s death, her the battles and seeing her life…I suddenly feel centuries older and incredibly foolish at the same time.”
“Because of youthful pride,” Mrina replied. “Even if I have lived much longer than any of you, in some ways, I’m still very young.”
Eadra smiled. “Sit with me.”
Mrina nodded and pulled up a chair. “I can sense you and I can sense the others,” she said. “They are in so much pain.”
“The seal is stronger now, eventually we will need to find more,” Eadra replied.
“We will need to find a king,” Mrina responded
Eadra nodded. “We will, but we have to stop Viktor and save my daughter first.”
“I’ve never thought of myself as a warrior,” she replied. “I’ve always been a healer and a Tender.”
There was so much doubt. Mrina’s experience with her Vakari had been much different. Most druids never involved themselves in martial disputes. That didn’t mean they weren’t above defending themselves.
“Vala was the same, at least that’s what the memories I have of her tell me.”
“As do mine,” Mirna said. “Though, there is a duality to her that I find ironic.”
“Her ferocity on the battlefield as opposed to who she was away from it?”
Mrina nodded again. “Yes. It seems so Shaylin. We are known for our extremes.”
“In the end, you were the same people, even if your complexion and hair were different.”
“When the fighting starts, I do not know if I will be much help. Unlike Vala, I took a vow never to hold a blade.”
Eadra leaned forward and took her hand. “You are Vakari.”
“I will try to be,” she replied. “But I make no promises when it comes to the sword.”
I guess this is harder for you. The choice was easier for me. “Mrina, Vala picked you. She must have sensed something in you. We know she wouldn’t have done so lightly.”
The young elf’s hazel eyes softened and she smiled. “She said something similar in my vision.”
Eadra nodded. “It would surprise me if she hadn’t.”
Mrina placed her other hand on top of Eadra’s and gently squeezed. “You should rest.”
Eadra frowned. “I think I’ve slept enough these past few days. I need to see Kala.”
A slight smirk appeared on the Tender’s face. “She’s dealing with another matter right now,” she said. “Wulf showed up a few days ago.”
“I hope his mission was successful.” In the back of her mind, however, Eadra couldn’t help but wonder how he ranger might react to what Issfang had done.
“We aren’t sure,” Mrina replied. “Either the Elder has killed him for worrying her or…”
It was hard not to smile. “Oh…I see.”
The grin Mrina wore only made it more humorous and was a reminder of her age. “Indeed,” she snickered.
“Well if he does happen to be alive, would you send him my way?”
“I will,” she replied. “Now, get some rest.”