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As sudden as you were drowning, the smoke clears from your lungs. You take in as deep a breath as you can but it does little to ease the ache in your chest. The air is thin, and so very cold. Ice crystallizes the sweat on your skin within seconds, an icy embrace you remember from your dreams. You're home. Your eyes remain squeezed shut as the conflicting emotions ravage you, the rapture of familiarity after all these years...and the horror. Of being taken to your final death, a warning and an example for your sisters.
The one thing you don't feel is regret. A low groan to your left finally prompts you to open your eyes. Dyson is on his knees beside you; you don't remember kneeling but you aren't surprised. This is how you always return to him. The wolf is shivering, the cold is far more than temperature here and you wonder how long he'll last. You were born to this cold, to this ice, to its magic. But him, it won't be long before Valhalla's frozen grip yanks his spirit from his body. You're not sure if he has a true warrior spirit, but he's a good fighter and this place will take him all the same.
You reach out and place a hand on his arm. You don't care for physical touches, but this is your mess and you've kind of grown a soft spot for the wolf. Great, more weaknesses. You watch as the icy pallor recedes from his cheeks. You briefly attempt to rise to your feet, unsurprised when you can't manage more than some feeble squirming. He obviously wants you alive, for now, as he could have let you and Dyson get crushed in the crash. Perhaps he intends to interrogate you about the succubus. Bo. You send a prayer in the old tongue that she has managed to escape his clutches so far.
You have to squint as you look around. The halls of Valhalla are always so glaringly white. Proud, striking...all the better to see the blood. Your heart skips a beat when you realize where you are, and then it skips several more as you realize that you are utterly alone. The throne room is never empty: valkyries returning from battle with their prize, jesters and entertainers, servants with trays full of drink and food. The silence is deafening.
Your mind circles back to what Bo's mother said in that human hellhole. You have never been more certain. Bo is his kid. Fuck. Of all the beings on this earth to get attached to, I get attached to Odin's spawn. This means something, something you're pretty sure you need to figure out if you want to keep you and wolf boy breathing, but your head is still pounding from being dragged back to Valhalla.
The throne sits some twenty feet in front of you. Gold bleeds into platinum on a chair that looks more like it was grown than built. There is no fabric or cushions, comfort is of little consequence to a warrior...and Odin is the fiercest. You hear the footsteps, two pairs, but only he enters the room. Master of death, Lord of fallen Warriors, Father of all Valkyries. Part of you aches for forgiveness; it seems like forever you have been his servant, walking the earth to do his bidding. Part of you wants to plead for another chance, to return to your sisters' side. But bitch be stubborn and you've always hated apologies, never had the stomach for them. You're fairly certain he'd laugh at your vulnerability so it's a moot point anyway.
He looks different from when you drove a truck through him. Gone are the suit and cane, replaced by dark blue and black robes, both ceremonial and deceptively fitted for violence. There's a great staff in his right hand, and you have to fight the urge to shudder at the sight of it. When you were young, just returning with your first soul, you witnessed a Valkyrie's death by that staff. People had gathered to watch, betrayal is almost unheard of among your kin. You push down your revulsion, your fear, and watch the approval sparkle in his dark gaze. Good. That might just keep you alive for now. He smirks as his eyes fall to your hand still on Dyson's arm. You have laid claim, keeping the magic of this place from taking his soul. You fear for a moment that he will make you let go, but he does not.
Instead he pushes the staff beneath Dyson's chin and raises his eyes to his. You're surprised Dyson hasn't spoken up yet, made pointless demands for explanation or speeches on infringement on the light. Perhaps he understands more than you have given him credit for. You use the time Odin studies Dyson to study him. You've never seen him this close. But my god if you had, you can see it...in his jaw and in the cut of his cheekbones. He is Bo's father.
At first you think it must be shock that this keeps striking you every few seconds, but as you continue to take in his dark features it finally sinks in. He sent you to get her. He sent a Valkyrie to get his daughter. His daughter. You never stood a chance retrieving her after her dawning even if the druid's potion had worked. You weren't lying all those weeks ago when you told Bo you'd pissed the wrong people off to get this gig, but you hadn't pissed them off enough to call for a suicide mission. Which means the objective had been something else entirely. You feel used, you're always being used but somehow this feels different, hurts deeper. It strikes you that it's because this means you may have failed Bo. That you did his bidding despite your best efforts. You're going to be sick.
He's grinning at you, as if he can read your thoughts, but it's more likely that the horror is showing on your face. You sense her moments before she enters. By god she's beautiful. You've always known this of course, she's a succubus for god's sakes, but now
- draped in dark purple and black, silk billowing with every confident step, hair tussled and curled, bouncing off her cheeks and dipping into the valley of her breasts-
she fits in perfectly with the majesty of Valhalla. And her eyes, there is no brown left, just an icy blue blaze. Your heart carves broken pleas into your ribs; your throat is tight and unyielding. You aren't sure if it is your own body or Odin's will that keeps you silent.
She looks through you, she doesn't even turn to look at Dyson. Odin gets her attention, calling her softly to his side. There's a warmth in his voice that curls around you, it's as honeyed as it is false. You hope Bo can see through the lies, but you're not even sure if she's Bo at the moment. She's overdosing. The magic here is full of chi, the life forces of so many fallen soldiers swirling in the air between them. She's feeding with every breath; even the noble hearted enigma that is Bo will be unable to resist that power. Especially with a father proudly coaxing her farther into the darkness. Into death.
You fight the invisible bonds that hold you down. This isn't right. Bo is a creature of life, of vitality; she managed to make your old bones feel again. She deserves so much more than this. They are paying you no heed. Odin's arms are on Bo's shoulders, she's hanging off his every word. You feel the grip holding you to the marble floor weaken slightly. You hold back your smirk and tighten your grip on Dyson's arm.
"Be ready." He's not sure what for, but he nods his head all the same. She told you to fight. And you will. But it seems that instead of fighting with Bo at your side, you'll be fighting for her.
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