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Raven’s Fall Excerpt

Celeste

Celeste stood on top of the boulders by the seashore, her feathered wings carried her with the ease of flower petals surfing in a soft breeze. Her wings were long and nearly touched the boulders in which she stood upon, they were the color of midnight black with a trace of deep blue. Celeste had woven in a small pink ribbon onto a few of her feathers, and strung on the ribbon was a perfectly white pearl the size of a quarter.

The sky was overcast, dark clouds covered above, she had arrived at Gardur, it was a seaside village in Iceland, and in Celeste’s opinion the most beautiful of places she had ever seen and that says a lot, since she had traveled to nine worlds.

The soft winds played with the blonde strands of her long golden hair as she stepped from the boulder, her barefoot stepped softly onto the wet sands of Gardur, to the right of her was a nice long stretch of sand and beach and to the left was the path she was going to take. It led pass a white lighthouse with two thick red stripes. Birds were flying around the top of the lighthouse tower in blissful paradise. How Celeste envied those birds, she longed for a peace, but unfortunately she was not born into an easy world.

Celeste walked along the beach, unable to use her wings to carry her to her destination, if she was seen by a human while she was in her true form, she would have to take their life. She knew others were not as kind as her, they wouldn’t care who or what saw their wings, they wouldn’t hesitate to take a life, but Celeste was not like them, she respected life, she was a Healer.

A row of trees stood tall in the distance, she headed for them, faint traces of footprints were slowly disappearing into the sand. Without a doubt, she knew who those footprints belonged to.

The rain began falling, Celeste had known it was going to rain at some point as there had been signs of a storm brewing in the dark sky above; the clouds were thick and grey, the air crisp and fierce.

The tracks she was following were disappearing as mud began to thicken, concealing the trail within its depths.

“Stop it,” someone had cried out in agony.

The cry directed Celeste’s movements as she followed the heartbreaking sound knowing what she could find would change everything, but she couldn’t stop, it was too late to go home and in fact she had no home to return to. Celeste had left everything behind; she had left to begin her own investigation into the disappearance of members from her Order.

Doing so had striped her of all her rights within the Order, but by ignoring what was happening around them was to Celeste much worse. How could she simply turn a blind eye onto what was going on? She would stand up for those who were no longer able to, and she made a promise before she left to one of her sisters that she would find the truth.

“Stop it,” the cry shot out again, penetrating the air around Celeste as it cried out in a panic. It pulled at Celeste to follow, she was not one who turned away when someone in need was in distress.

Celeste was on the right path as the cries were growing closer. If only she could see the danger, then she would know what to do and possibly provide aide to whomever needed help. Celeste was a Healer, she had a Sense as to what one needed even before they had asked.

The rain began to hit her hard, it felt like pebbles striking her as it tore at her pale white skin scrapping and cutting it, the rain had turned into hail. Celeste made a run for the trees hoping their branches would provide some kind of cover from the fierce hailstorm.

As she made it to the cover of the trees Celeste could see who was crying out for help.

There were four of them, Celeste knew onsite who they were by the way they were dressed. They were standing in a group with their backs to her and at their feet laid their victim.

The group of young women were dressed in dark clothing which consisted of long sleeves and pants, each one of them had armor shields wrapped around their calves and forearms for protection, they looked as though they had just stepped out of a bygone era. A time when the ancient Romans ruled the world, instead of red and white they wore black to conceal them in the darkness.

But Celeste knew exactly what they were; Valkyries. They were Valkyries and they were on the hunt.

The Valkyries were clearly ready for battle and they were not afraid of bloodshed. On each one of their heads they wore feathered headdresses, decorated with dark long feathers which framed their faces, shielding them from being identified as the headdresses casted shadows along the Valkyries eyes, cheeks, and noses. But these were no ordinary Valkyries. These were “Death Cry Valkyries” Valkyries had a caste system and they followed it to a T.

A Death Cry Valkyrie would hunt its prey to the ends of the earth, they never lost the scent, the smallest bead of sweat or drop of blood was enough to give their hiding place away. A Death Cry Valkyrie did not think twice about taking a life, they enjoyed it, the relished in it and they were very creative with how they did it. They kept notches on the handles of their swords, each notch represents a kill and when that handle had filled up with kills the Death Cry Valkyrie would be rewarded by the gods. The reward given meant nothing to a Death Cry Valkyrie as the hunt fueled their blood. The hunt and kill was life; it was everything.

It was too late; Celeste had arrived too late and the only thing she could do now was to leave without them ever knowing she had ever been there because they would hunt her down and wouldn’t stop until they were sure she wouldn’t tell a word to anyone of what they had done this night. Had Celeste known these were Death Cry Valkyries she might not have chased after them from Álfheimr. Álfheimr was one of the nine worlds. She had seen them take someone, someone who had clearly not gone willingly. Celeste had seen them grab the woman and strike her before they fled Álfheimr in a rush.

The Death Cry Valkyries were not there on official business; they couldn’t have been as not a Raven was in sight to report back to the gods of what was done. These Death Cry Valkyries had just dispatched of a fellow Valkyrie, this was never done unless it was approved of by the goddess herself, and when that order was given all knew about it. But it was too late for Celeste to turn and leave, one of them must have sensed her standing nearby watching. The Death Cry Valkyries turned in unison to Celeste who jumped back with a slight cry of her own.

The wings, the wings of one of the Valkyrie’s shot out spreading their width indicating that they could take flight to hunt her down if she ran. Only problem was, there was no place Celeste could go to hide from them.

She stepped out of the trees and unsheathed her dagger before she charged at the group of Valkyries who were standing over their fallen victim. Celeste knew she didn’t have a chance of survival, although she herself was a Valkyrie, she was on the bottom of the caste system, which meant she didn’t have the training or the skill to survive a battle, nor was she a fighter, she was a Healer.

The storm concealed her battle cry as Celeste ran with her dagger clenched in hand. Her dagger had never been used to take life, only to save it. It had been given to her by a god, as a gift, the dagger had aided her time and again as she had used it for healing purposes. She would cut into the air at different angles to draw in energy from around her and then redirect that energy with her dagger by pointing the dagger to the one she was healing.

She knew she would be fighting a losing battle, but at least she could mark one or maybe even two of them with her blade in the hopes that he would avenge her. He would come looking for her and when he found what was left of her he would know who and what had ended her life.

Yes, Liam Jonsson would avenge her, all she had to do was leave her mark and he would take care of the rest.

The Death Cry Valkyries took to the sky and circled Celeste from above. Their cries were piercing her ears, Celeste had to cover them with her hands nearly dropping her dagger as she did. She managed to keep her dagger within her grasp and used it to slice at the air around her creating a force that would be thick to penetrate. It would not keep the Death Cry Valkyries away but it would hold them off. She didn’t want to make her death an easy one.

An arrow was sent flying at Celeste, but it bounced off the wall she had set-up and broke in half. Celeste dropped to her knees and cut into the ground at her feet with her dagger, drawing up energy from Mother Earth. Pieces of dirt flew up as her blade dug into the ground. Celeste brushed her blonde hair out of her eyes, her perfectly straight nose that ended at a point was covered in mud.

With a fist full of dirt and mud she flung it at the Death Cry Valkyries. The hail stopped, it stood still around them as a Raven cawed in the distance. They must have sensed the energy she had created; Celeste wasn’t surprised as she had just dispensed a massive amount of energy into Gardur.

The Death Cry Valkyries landed in a circle around Celeste, one raised her sword, another held her bow and arrow pointed at Celeste ready to dispatch the arrow into her heart.

A blade cut through Celeste from behind, it cut right through her heart, she was sure that was her ever-beating heart on the end of the sword that ripped through her. The dagger she held clutched in her hand fell to the ground at her feet quickly covering within the mud as the hail once again began to fall around them. Celeste watched as it buried itself into the ground, protecting itself from falling into the wrong hands.

“Forgive me,” she said to the dagger.

“Your soul will not be carried to Asgard,” her voice was soft, as pure as a lullaby. She stood behind Celeste as she addressed her. “Your soul will travel endlessly, lost in the abyss for all time.” She drew her sword out of Celeste, her heart falling to the mud as the last beat it would ever drum came to a halt.

Celeste could no longer hear her words; her eyes became heavy and darkness covered her in its cold clutches. The Death Cry Valkyrie who took Celeste’s life dropped to the ground in sudden agony. Her sisters took a step away in surprise, they exchanged hesitant looks to one another as they lowered their weapons. They watched as the Death Cry Valkyrie clutched her stomach in absolute agony. Within seconds the pain stopped and she drew her arms away from her. A faint trace of light broke through the wall of hail that continued to fall harshly from the skies, it revealed that her arms were severely scarred.

“What happened to your arms, Kizma?”

The caw of Ravens was growing closer. Their angry caws gave way to the mounting urgency that filled the air.

“The Ravens are coming we can’t stay.”

It was quick, they had taken Celeste’s life with ease, but she left a mark that would stay with one of them and that was a victory for her. Celeste had left her mark on the Valkyrie Kizma.

Celeste would have her vengeance. Vengeance was a game the Valkyrie played best of all.