Valkyrie Rising: An Epic Fantasy Novel, page 1
An Epic Fantasy
Valkyrie sisters torn apart by a law of their king must deal with new lives as mortal and vampire as all the while the real truth behind the war, and Brahms and Odin's fued looms near, threathening to shatter apart everything they ever believed in.
Chapter 1: One
There was the sound of feet crunching down upon a gravel lined path, a multitude of rocky bits being crushed underfoot. The noise of that gravel being disturbed was one that should have barely registered amidst the roar of over a thousand voices that were currently raised up in battle. Those screams conveyed so much, that of challenge, that of victory, and even that of fear. Those voices, their yells, all blended together to the point that one could not pick out any distinct words being spoken amidst the shouts and the metallic clangs of weapons in the midst of battle.
The savagery of that battle did not deter her, if anything it made Lenneth eager to add her own voice to that chaos. Her fingers would actually clench tight on the hilt of her sword, as Lenneth actively imagined wielding the blade, and losing herself to the near mindless violence of the night's fighting. Something like a grim smile briefly stretched her lips, Lenneth continuing her purposeful way down the cliff side. There at it's bottom base was where the figures fought, and it was there that an an all too eager and ever ready Lenneth would go to join them, literally leaping into the midst of that fray. To make such a jump would be careless from her current and lofty height, Lenneth needing to get much lower before she could truly make the dive down.
She wouldn't allow her eagerness to give way to any type of carelessness. That would only lead to mistakes, and on the battlefield, such an error could lead to injury or even death. Neither was what she actually wanted, though to Lenneth, the woman felt that death would be preferable to the suffering that would come from the sustaining of a debilitating injury in battle. A shudder worked it's way through her, one that had nothing to do with the fighting, and everything to do with the thoughts that came unbidden to her. Such thoughts were unwelcome, Lenneth thinking of the reason why she was currently wound so tight and made so eager to fight.
Those thoughts in her head were a persistent presence, her only retreat from them, that of the solace that there was to be found in the fighting. If Lenneth could build up the proper rhythm, she could then block out the thoughts, forget everything but the dealing of death to those who would harm her and those left under her protection. She was actively longing for it, for the distraction, and the solace that she would find going hand in hand with her sword. This desperate a need was what had driven her from the castle, fleeing a sight that was better off forgotten. But even the pathway from the castle to this battlefield was a lot longer than she would have liked, allowing for the flashes of memory that still came to her. Haunting her with the remembered images. That of blood, the crimson liquid splattered everywhere. Of pale blonde hair that was soaked and streaked red with it, a direct result of the victim laying down in an ever widening puddle of it. Of that woman’s skin growing paler by the second, her indigo armor shattered open.
Lenneth would then hiss, finding that she had started gripping her sword ever too tightly. So harsh and unrelenting was her grip, that the woman was sure that the bejeweled decorations that decorated it’s hilt would make a striking imprint on the palm of her hand. She almost didn't care, too busy fighting the memories, and knowing that it was just a few feet more until she could join in the battle. She tried to keep a particularly upsetting and unwanted thought from her, tried not to focus on the fact that the fighting would be one important combatant short, or how these troops were now lacking one of their most capable of commanders.
Her focus thus far divided, Lenneth still managed to maintain her awareness to keep up with her intent study of the fighting closest to the cliff's bottom. The two groups seemed equally matched, the Valkyries and their einherjar fighting the undead forces of the Lord Brahms. These particular undead were composed predominately of vampires, but it wasn’t always so. The vampires, like so many of the undead, were often forced to wait for more optimal conditions before they could come out of the holes that they regularly hid in. The ultimate in the vampire’s ideal? That of a night fall such as the one that was currently blanketing the sky, but second best would be the times when the worst of the sun was lost to the overcast of clouds, turning a winter’s day dark enough to serve a blood sucker well for their nefarious purpose.
That purpose was to remain a constant thorn in the Asgardians’ side, the vampires and the rest of the undead out and about to impede and pester the warriors of the Divine. Signs of their handiwork was laid out every where, the most prominent being that of the flashes of light Lenneth spied winking in and out through out the battlefield. It was the vampires own brand of magic, the undead terrors teleporting to and fro. It was just one of the unfair advantages that these monsters had, these fiends using their powers to vanish before a blade could strike a killing blow upon their body. Such a feat meant that the Valkyries and their einherjar HAD to always be faster than the fanged foes that they faced. They didn’t always succeed at that, but on this night, Lenneth was pleased to see that dozens upon dozen of rotting corpses were already laying down on the field. Her troops were performing more than adequately against the vampire threat on this night.
The Valkyrie’s soldiers might not even have need of her sword, though all knew that they would be a fool to turn Lenneth away. It was with that thought, that the woman finally found herself at a good enough vantage, Lenneth letting out a wild cry as she pushed off the cliff's path. Somersaulting forward, her sword caught and reflected a flash of light. The trained warriors of both sides knew enough not to be distracted by that spark, concentrating instead on the opponents before them.
A few others cleared out of a way, a spot opening up for Lenneth to land in. With a solid thump, her body was grounded, the impact bringing her knees to nearly touch against the packed dirt. That jarring impact practically rattled Lenneth’s teeth in her jaw, but she allowed no pain or discomfort to distract or to stop her. A split second instance had passed, and already she was lurching upright, sword moving effortlessly in an upwards swing. It caught the vampire that had teleported directly before her right in the chin, a sickening squelch being heard as the blade severed the man's face in half. Blood soaked her sword, but there was no time to clean it, Lenneth pivoting on her feet. Her sword slashed about with her spin, cutting open the stomach of a random ghoul.
Guts began spilling out of that creature, and yet the ghoul still fought. It would take a lot more than disemboweling to kill that particular breed of undead. It's head would have to be taken, cleaved clean off it's neck, before the creature would cease mimicking a life that it had no right to.
Poison coated claws slashed across her armor. The cobalt blue metal remained unmarked, the ghoul's claws sliding harmlessly off the breast plate. It didn't stop the near mindless monster from trying again, claws slashing, going for the bit of skin between elbow and shoulder that was not guarded by any of the metal. Lenneth was forced to quickly block the claws with her sword, wanting no poison tipped scratch to befall that all too vulnerable skin.
Other fiends rushed her, another ghoul and a vampire. Lenneth could not allow herself to be surrounded, the Valkyrie holding her arm out high as she swung a beheading slash towards the first ghoul's neck. The head went flying, and quickly disappeared among the combatants. She wouldn’t bother to try and track it, not when it was just one more head of many that were being kicked about and trampled on in this field.
Instead she was already turning, her twirling sword attempting to stab itself into and straight through
The vampire that was approaching, that had used it’s innate magic to teleport as close as possible to the warrior woman, was a creature of the elder variety. Such age made the vampire female quick with both her teleportation magics and her sharp blade. That sword was coated in the blood of what had to have once been Lenneth’s allies, and it was all to clear that the fanged fiend was just as eager to drive the weapon into yet another Valkyrie’s body. The spike of rage surged stronger, a memory riding on it’s coattails. Lenneth would not allow the fury or the haunting remembrance to consume her, secure in the knowledge that where she herself was concerned, this fight was anything but a personal vendetta for the vampiress.
Once it would have been much the same for Lenneth, the woman holding no deeper meaning beyond that of her holy and sacred, sanctioned duty, to color that of the mercilessly efficient way in which she dispatched the many kinds of undead fiends that the Valkyrie had often encountered over the course of her long lived eternity. Now however, there was something vicious inside her, a feeling that had been awakened by a memory that was an all too real and too deep a hurt. The blood pooling everywhere, a gruesome display of carnage that lent a malicious edge to her sword play. The sword of the Valkyrie Lenneth was as brutal as it was fast, not so much finding an opening in the vampire female’s defenses as much as making one.
The vampire's blade broke in half from the force of Lenneth's first swing. The Valkyrie didn't slow down her arm at that happening. instead allowing that speed to drive her sword forward past the shattered apart pieces of the blade, into the very chest of the vampire. That female let out a scream of such immense pain, the blood she had fed on spilling out of her. It weakened the vampire, the woman trying to warp away even as Lenneth performed a downwards slash that caught the female mid teleportation. Such was the ferocity of her wounds, that the vampire was surely done for, no matter where on the battlefield her magic would dump her. If the fanged female somehow survived the trip, the vampire would still be so staggered and injured that she herself would now be an easy mark for any one of Lenneth’s many allies.
There was no need or cause for Lenneth to have to spare any further thought to THAT particular vampire. Not when there were so many of the monsters out and about, a plethora of choices availed before her, the woman charging forward to strike down the strongest one closest to her. She’d pass by many of the einherjar in the process, a rank of warriors that had been culled from the souls of the worthy few, that of the men and women that spanned the many realms’ races. These mortals all held the distinct honor of being chosen by the Valkyrie Goddesses in the name of fighting for Asgard. Though they were a dwindling resource of late, there was still enough that a distinction had had to be made, their armor different enough to give way to rank and accomplishments earned on and off the battlefield.
The undead legions wore any and everything, from leather form fitted for mobility, to the tattered rags of the lesser of Brahms’ monsters. The one and only shared trait of their uniforms? The dark hues of bold crimson and black. It was a stark contrast to the sight of the Valkyries, each of the divine maiden’s fitted in cold metals made of a refined steel. Colored in similar shades of blue and purple, and adorned with silvers and gold filigrees, each woman’s look was just different enough to make her stand out as uniquely her own.
With armor molded to that which was the embodiment of physical perfection, these lethal beauties were each crowned with a specific kind of helm. Each one was made of the rarest and most valuable of metal, the feathers of the fallen souls of the einherjar adorning the very winged tips of them. Such a sight made for a pretty picture, but it was only a fool that would be lulled into distraction based on the beauty alone. Not when these women fought just as brave and just as valiantly as the einherjar they had chosen. Courageous and bold, the Valkyries never faltered, never allowed thoughts of death or that of the personal threat of the vampires themselves, to color them with fear. There was only one thing that might make these divine females hesitate in the slightest. The idea of surviving long enough to outlive their usefulness.
It was a universal fact that the Valkyries were immortal females, that these women were minor deities in their own rights. Just as it was fact that little could harm them, save for their unnatural enemies, the undead minions of Lord Brahms. The vampires in particular, those fiends who loved nothing more than to get their hands on divine blood in order to drain the Gods and their Valkyrie lessers to death. That divine blood always infused the vampires with a temporary rush of power, heightening already powerful senses, and giving them more strength and speed than they would have normally had.
A Valkyrie's blood in particular, was a well sought after prize. It was like a drug to the vampires, and the fiends were all too eager to feed their addictions. There was no end to those that would target her for that reason alone, Lenneth snarling a wordless challenge to the next nearest vampire, a man who eagerly rushed forward to cross his blade with hers. The clang of the blades was lost to the deafening roar of the battle, sparks flying as they clashed their swords together again and again.
Lenneth would barely take notice of what her opponent actually looked like. Such details didn't matter in the heat of battle, only survival and victories did. Their swords struck against one another, the two figures rebounding back. The vampire instantly teleported, appearing behind Lenneth as he sought to slash and break open the back of her armor. She turned, finding that her long hair which was tied back so neatly in a braid, was nearly severed free in the process. Several silver blue strands actually fell to the ground, that shining brilliance immediately lost as feet trampled over them.
Another battle cry from Lenneth, the Valkyrie doing a downwards slash that the vampire defended against. His sword arm lowered from the force of her blow, Lenneth preparing to strike upwards when she saw the light reflected in the fiend's eyes. With a gasp, she turned too late, just in time for a dagger to catch her on the cheek.
Lenneth barely had time to react, seeing the other vampire bring the dagger to his lips, tongue snaking out to taste her blood that had stained upon it. Never taking her eyes off of the fiend who had dared sample her blood, the woman turned her blade, and drove it behind her, catching the other sneaking vampire right through the chest. Such was the force of her thrust, that the blade impaled all the way through to exit out the man’s back, the vampire then gagging and dying a quick, torturous death.
The vampire in front of her seemed to moan, delighting in the blood he had just stolen a taste of. Lenneth didn't know if that thin trickle was enough to give him a boost in abilities, but she knew enough to dispatch this monster and fast. She quickly jerked her sword out of the dead body slumped over behind her, attempting to then stab it forward into the very hand that held the vampire's dagger.
A flash of light left nothing but space for her sword to slash through. Lenneth gritted her teeth, and whirled around, scouting about for the vampire. He did not appear anywhere near her, the vampire more cowardly than she had first realized. With a disgusted snort, Lenneth brought up her hand to her cheek, using the back of it to wipe the blood off the slow to heal wound. To achieve that effect, the vampire's dagger had to have been one that was enchanted to delay a Valkyrie's natural borne healing powers.
A quick stock of the situation showed that there was no shortage of opponents, even with the one vampire fleeing her. Lenneth made fast work of over a dozen ghouls, to then team up with a fellow Valkyrie to slay a small handful of vampires. Time both slowed down and sped up, the battle ending too quickly for Lenneth's liking. The vampires on this patch of land were now in retreat, and several of the Valkyries
Truthfully, Lenneth wanted to join them in the chase, but a voice called out to her. "Lenneth, halt!" The Valkyrie's back was to the voice, but she didn't need to see the Goddess Freya to recognize her. Or her tone of displeasure, Lenneth holding in a sigh.
"Lady Freya..." Lenneth said, making a show of cleaning off her bloodied and gore covered sword. The leather rag that she used was quickly soaking through with the grime, but the woman knew if she allowed the blood to dry, it would make her sword's blade rust. "What brings you to the battlefield?"
It was a seemingly innocent question, though both Freya and Lenneth knew the reason behind the Goddess' sudden appearance. Indeed Freya was frowning, Lenneth spying that annoyed expression out the corner of her eye. But she didn't acknowledge it, continuing to pretend to be focused on the cleaning of her weapon.
"You know very well why I am here." Freya stepped closer to Lenneth, effortlessly managing to somehow avoid the corpses and body parts that littered the battle ground. She looked disdainful of the filth, the golden haired Goddess not one for fighting, especially against such lesser beings as that of the undead. That didn't mean Freya was not capable of defending herself, the Goddess holding enough power to devastate an entire world. She simply preferred to let others get their hands dirty, while she toiled with the behind the scenes details.
It was rare for her to even come out to the battlefield. Lenneth knew she was at fault for this, something like guilt sparking through her. But it wasn't enough to get her to apologize, Lenneth staying focused on her sword. When it became apparent that was all she was going to do, Freya sighed.
"It is not your duty to be out here, not on this night especially."
"I go where my sword is needed." Lenneth finally answered her.
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