Valhalla, page 1
The Valkyrie Beginnings
Mandy M. Roth
© copyright July 2004, Mandy M. Roth
Cover art by Eliza Black, © copyright July 2004
New Concepts Publishing
5202 Humphreys Rd.
Lake Park, GA 31636
To the ‘manuscript crisis management group’ consisting of Michelle, Jaycee, Ellen, Andrea, Jaide, and Cyndy, thank you for your quick responses to my frantic emails and for listening to me babble on the phone endlessly. I bet you’re sorry you gave me your numbers now. I can’t thank you all enough. I’m enjoying every minute of our wild ride.
To Pennie and Angie for all they do to help behind the scenes and for not laughing at my silly mistakes. And to the readers who I hope enjoy this installment of Valerie’s story as much as I enjoyed writing it. Thank you all so much!
Warning: This story contains mature situations, graphic violence, strong language, explicit sex, the loss of child, and a woman’s love for multiple men. It is not intended for the faint of heart.
"Linnea, really now, do you have to carry on like that? I’m not asking you to end world hunger. I’m asking you to up your quota."
I looked over at my mother sitting by the window dressed in only a two-piece brown suede bikini and wondered how long it had been since she’d been out in the field. She didn’t look a day over thirty-five, and had a body that any woman would kill for, but she’d long since given up leaving Valhalla. The elders tell me that once my mother had been their greatest warrior princess, she’d retrieved more souls than any other Valkyrie ever had, but gave that all up when she became pregnant with me. I used to ask her why she gave up the way of our people, but she never answered me.
"Linnea, these are desperate times. The Apocalypse is fast approaching and we need to be prepared to fight evil." She looked at me with eyes so blue that I often wondered how I was hers. My turquoise eyes were a far cry from her deep navy blue. "You know that you have the gift that is needed in this battle. Use it and bring forth more warriors for our cause."
"I’ve told you before that it’s not right to steal men away from the battle fields only to make them fight for our cause. Most are there fighting for their own reasons, families, land—freedom!"
She gave me a look that told me that she was beyond sick of arguing with me about this. "Our cause is the cause of all men. If the Apocalypse is allowed to come then all mankind shall perish. So you see our fight is their fight too."
I gave in, as I usually did. She was right, but I’d never admit that. Instead I turned my attentions elsewhere. I looked over her shoulder, out onto the grassy knoll where many of the men I’d been collecting over the last two years stood training. I’d broken one of the rules that Valkyrie women were supposed to follow, I had become their friend. I took an interest in their day to day lives and training. I even joined in and sparred with them when time allowed.
I seemed to make angering the elders an art and I didn’t care. The elders couldn’t continue on their mission without me. Their ways were becoming obsolete and their new targets were too much for any of them to handle. Evil had decided to start playing with the big boys and were rumored to be recruiting the worst of the worst from the supernatural gene pool. We were still pulling brave mortal men off the battlefields. We could offer them immortality, but that was all. We could not make them any stronger than they already were. We could train them to fight better and faster, but that was it.
"Mother, why are we not allowed to share a bed with the men that we bring back?" I asked, with one man in particular on my mind, again.
"Linnea, you know why. We cannot allow a man that resides here to have that much power. Should you become pregnant then they would be eligible to sit upon the board of elders and that can never be."
I looked out at Beau, one of the commanders I’d brought back from the Middle East conflict, as he honed his sword wielding abilities. He’d been working hard and was now sweating enough for me to see it from here. The sun hit his tanned back and seemed to reflect off his skin. I wanted to know what it was like to run my fingers over his muscles, and to lick the sweat from his tight body. I had yet to know the touch of a man, and Beau made me feel like I was missing out on something spectacular.
My mother touched my hand and smiled. "Do not lie with any of these men. Go among the mortals and find a man that catches your fancy, bed him, and leave him. Never look back, because if you do you will see how fragile human lives are. Never get attached to only one male, just keep moving, trust me on this."
"I know, Mother, you’re right."
She brought my hand to her lips. "Are you ready for this?"
"Am I ready to go in search of men who possess supernatural gifts? Yes. Am I ready to battle the evil that will try to beat me to them? Not really, but I don’t have much of a choice do I? The battles are harder to win now, our men are skilled, but they can’t compete against demons of the vampire caliber."
She shook her head. "No, they can’t compete, I agree. It was a wise decision you made to go in search of gifted warriors. I still don’t understand how you sense them, but it’s good that you do. Where are you headed first?"
"First stop is Scotland, the Highlands to be exact. My dreams whispered to me and I checked into them. There are rumors about a man there that possesses enormous strength and the gift to read minds. He’s also a warrior. I can’t go wrong with that."
"Sounds promising but be careful. I still think you should take a team with you."
"I can’t risk any more men. We’ve lost enough already. Besides, the dark ones will be watching for large groups moving through the portals. They won’t be alarmed if it’s just one person, and I need all the advantage I can get."
I made my way to the waterfall and stopped to take a quick look around. The grass here was always long, green, and full of life. It seemed to be in a constant state of vibrant flowers and beauty. The water that flowed from the two rivers on Valhalla picked here to fall off the edge and down into the waiting lake below. I suppose one could jump for fun into the water, but that wasn’t the purpose of the falls. Their purpose was simple—to provide all the Valkyries access to earthly planes. They had been there since before my time and before that of any Valkyrie I knew. Someone put them here, perhaps Odin himself. The God whom it is told we followed here. I do not know. Our past is a mystery, even to us.
It was hard for me to leave Valhalla--such beauty, but I knew what I had to do. I’d been all over the world and had seen so many wonderful places, but none compared to Valhalla. Our heavenly oasis was perfect in every way. For the most part it closely resembled the tropics, but was unique all unto itself.
I lifted my heavy cloak and went to put it on. Two hands caught my wrist and I gasped as I spun around to strike whoever was there. I stopped just short of hitting when I saw Beau’s light blue eyes staring at me.
"I’m sorry, Princess Linnea. I just thought that you could use some assistance."
I looked around frantically to make sure that no other Valkyries were near. The men were strictly forbidden to come to the waterfalls without an escort. It was feared that they would fall through the portal and travel to the future, or worse be lost in the time space continuum forever. The fears were justified—twenty-five years ago a solider did just that, and had never been heard from again. I asked my mother about him, but she refused to comment. I ended up talking with the elders instead. They too, were tight lipped, but at least they confirmed that the rumor was true.
"Beau, I’ve told you before not to call me that."
"Well, correct me if I’m
"Yes, but not that, I mean Linnea, it’s my mother’s name, I’m not sure why she gave it to me too. Call me whatever you want, just not that." I hated that my mother had named me after herself. This was odd even by our standards. I’d begged to be called something else, something unique, but she’d refused. I preferred anything to being called by the same name as my mother. The crazy female warrior who’d turned down the opportunity to be queen, only to sit alone in her house and not leave Valhalla again.
I looked at Beau and narrowed my gaze. "Why’d you follow me? You know the rules. If they see you here…."
His hand slid onto my shoulder and silenced me. I closed my eyes and allowed him to rub my shoulders gently. It felt so good that I couldn’t help but to turn my neck and relax my body. Beau moved his large frame closer to me and brought his lips to my ear. "How is it that a creature as beautiful as you has never known the touch of a man before?" He picked up a handful of my long black hair and brought it to his face, inhaling deeply and tipping his head back. "Oh, Lin … you make me crazy with need."
I pulled back slowly. "I’ve told you before, Beau, I’m different than the other Valkyries, I can’t be with just anyone, I could hurt them—you." It was true. My magic exceeded that of the others by leaps and bounds. There was no telling how it would manifest itself during intercourse.
Beau let out a small laugh. "I don’t doubt that for a minute. I watched you flip a tank by just holding your hand out, and I know about you being different. All of Valhalla knows that you possess magic that the others don’t. I don’t care about that, I care about you."
"You hardly know me." That was a lie and I knew it. Beau and I had spent many a night talking in the woods. I knew all about his time and about the problems that plagued mankind in his generation. I also knew all about Beau. He had one sister, who I helped him check in on from time to time, and was moving up fast in his career. He was a fierce fighter, a born leader, but I’d been allowed to see his softer side—the side that he kept hidden from all. It was the one that could say things that would make my heart tight with the anticipation of seeing him again.
"I’ve been on enough missions with you to have a pretty good idea of who you are. You’ve got a big heart and want to save the world without hurting anyone in the process. You listen to me go on and on, and you never look bored, even though I know you have to be. You’ve helped me see my family when I had a hard time getting over being separated from them, even though it broke every rule Valhalla has. You hate the fact that you’re special and most of all, you hate being compared to your mother."
Okay, so maybe Beau really did know me. I took another step back. He closed the distance between us and brought his mouth down to mine. His lips grazed mine and I felt my insides tugging at me to go further. I fought the urge that had plagued me since the moment I laid eyes on him and pulled away.
"I’m not a bad guy, you know."
I looked up into his warm face and smiled. "I never said you were. Go, quickly, before you’re seen."
"Linnea, you shouldn’t be going out on this mission on your own. I heard one of the elders talking about it and it’s something they shouldn’t be sending you out by yourself to do, and they know it!"
I was shocked by the news that Beau had overheard one of the elder’s conversations. Normally, these took place in private chambers and far from the ears of any of the men. I wondered what he’d been up to. He touched my cheek and smiled.
"Hey, you don’t get to be part of the U.S. Special Forces and not pick up a thing or two," he said, winking at me.
I let out my breath. Beau was one of only a handful of men that had been recruited in the last ten years of present time. Normally, we stuck to the older, bigger battles. I’d been the one to make the call to go to the Middle East, and so far, Beau had turned out to be a wise choice. He had little in the way of knowledge of medieval weaponry, but he was just what we needed when it came to firearms and ghost operations. He’d also become one of the boldest men we had, and that was not a good thing in the eyes of the elders.
"I wish that I could take you with me Beau, but I can’t risk you. The forces that are searching for these men are powerful and they’ll stop at nothing to get them. I told you before that it’s like the stories of Merlin that you liked so much as a child. They posses those gifts and so much more, I can’t protect you from their magic. I’m not even sure that I can protect myself from it. Vampires, werewolves, ghouls, and demons aren’t what I want to go up against."
"That’s exactly why I should go with you. I’m not saying that you can’t handle yourself, but it’d be good for you to go in with some backup," he said, sliding his fingers around to the back of my neck as he moved his face down towards mine. He had a way of making my body feel strange, and that wasn’t going to keep him alive on Valhalla. No, if I took him and did what I dreamt about, then he would be sentenced to death, and I would not allow that to happen. I turned my head and he let out a sigh.
"Beau, I can’t take you. That’s all there is to it, I’m sorry."
He pulled my neck towards him harder than I would have expected. "Beau," I said. His lips came at mine and I had to put my hands on his chest to prevent us from locking lips.
"Why do you keep pushing me away? Don’t you find me attractive?"
If he only knew how hard it was for me to say no to him then he wouldn’t even bother asking that question. Of course I found him attractive, I didn’t know of a woman who wouldn’t, but I couldn’t act on my impulses. I wanted to tear his clothes off and take him right where we stood, but that wasn’t a good idea, so I leaned up and settled for giving him a chaste kiss.
"Take care of you, and if it were allowed, I would take you on this mission," I said, as I turned and leapt over the edge of the waterfall. I heard him cry my name out, and then I heard nothing but the sound of the wind rushing past me. It pulled at my hair, and ripped at my clothes. It didn’t hurt so much as it applied pressure. I’d made the trip through the portals so many times that I’d lost count. I was used to them and had mastered the art of directing myself to the proper time and place better than anyone else.
I rose slowly and wiped the mud from my skirt. Somewhere in the journey I’d lost my cloak. That wasn’t normal for me, I never lost anything. The meeting with Beau had left me shaken and bit out of sorts. I was so focused on his cries for me that I didn’t focus on maintaining my course and my clothing. I was lucky that I wasn’t left in the buff.
I looked down at myself and knew that I wasn’t dressed appropriately to be running around the Scottish Highlands. I hadn’t changed from the normal Valkyrie clothing that I was accustomed to. My breasts were covered by what would in modern day be seen as a tight t-shirt and I was wearing a short skirt. My navel showed and almost all of my legs. This attire would most definitely be viewed as sinful now. If they did not label me a whore, they’d brand me a witch.
I moved behind a large rock and ducked down to survey my area. This didn’t look anything like the Inverness burgh that I’d studied before heading out. Not that you could tell a huge difference between burghs during this time period, but no, this hardly looked like Inverness. I certainly hadn’t hit my mark, and that scared me. Beau and I were going to have a serious talk when I returned to Valhalla.
I was about to stand up when I heard voices approaching. I ducked back down and listened. I heard one man mumbling about the English and it didn’t sound pleasant. I knew that the Scots’ opinions of the English during this time period weren’t high, but if I didn’t know better, I would have thought the English were the devil if I listened to this much longer.
Another voice interjected. It was deeper than the first. It stirred things within me that only Beau had been able to move before. I swallowed the lump that formed in my throat and listened to him to go on.
"Cian, you canna be series about wantin’ to run off and support Charles when you’ve
My right foot slid in the mud and I did my best to rebalance myself. I failed miserably and ended up sliding right out from behind the rock and landing flat on my back in the mud. It squished up and all around me.
"Who’s there?" Another voice called out.
I lay still and hoped that the cover of darkness would protect me. When a head of fire engine red hair appeared above me, I knew that night had done little to help me out. I looked up at the man’s wide blue eyes and smiled. His crooked nose told me that he’d had it broken on more than one occasion in his life. His jaw dropped open when he saw me.
"Kerr, come and see what I’ve found, lurkin’ in the mud. She’s wearin’ nothin’ but her drawers," he said in English, or at least I thought it was English. It was so muddled with his accent that I couldn’t make out half of what he said.
I sat up, but the man put his hand on my shoulder. "No, lass I think you’d better be stayin’ put till we know more about you. We’ll not be havin’ any sleeveens’ runnin’ round here." I’d heard plenty of Scottish accents during my work as a Valkyrie, but none were as thick as his.
"Cian, what are you goin’ about?" I heard the sexy deep voice that had made my belly tickle say. Another head of red hair appeared above me, but this one was long, straight, and three shades darker than Cian’s. The man moved his hair out of his royal blue eyes and it was my turn to look surprised. My insides twisted and I felt my pulse speed up, and thought for sure that I’d become the first Valkyrie ever to die of a heart attack.
I’d never been this attracted to a man before in my life, and Valhalla overflowed with hunks. Not even Beau had made me feel this alive. I traced the edges of the red-headed hunk’s jaw with my eyes and took in every detail of his face. He was flawless, and seemed like he’d been left behind by the Vikings. Almost as though they’d stopped by long enough to leave a warrior of their caliber behind, but I knew better. He was a Scot, and he was surprised to see me.