Well, as February 4th comes to an end, as well as the big game (which I didn't really watch), and I'm presenting Chapter 3 of my Gauntlet Dark Legacy fic, Legendary Hereos. The third chapter, Flight of the Valkyrie was the third chapter that was a complete rewrite of a pervious attempt. Like the previous posted chapter, I'm actually pleased with how the rewrite came out. I do hope you enjoy this one, as well as the previous chapter. You can find the previous chapter at the following link.
(This story is based off characters from the game Gauntlet: Dark Legacy. The events of this story take place before the game.)
Chapter 3: Flight of the Valkyrie
Amongst the eight realms, none is so heavily fortified as the Castle Stronghold. The thick walls, as well as its defenses keep the people safe. Some of those people have made their home in the castle, since the days when it had been an outpost of the demon, Skorne. Back then, a lone Valkyrie, named Rasha, had destroyed the guardian creature, a three headed Chimera. Since then, the Lord and Lady of the land made sure the defenses included Valkyries.
Every generation, the Valkyries, who were all women, fought bravely to defend the realm, and keep any foul beasts from infesting the castle, and therefore the land. The current leader of the Valkyries, a brave woman named Karren, had become a figure to be admired. She had risen to the role of leader before she was twenty, and had held the position for a decade. This was unusual since the captain retired in one of two ways before a decade passed. One was by death, and the other was by marriage.
Lately, Karren had been thinking that she should leave the Valkyries, and since she had started spending more time with one of the guards, that seemed more likely now. The guard she had been spending time was a new one, but he had talent. On the rare occasion that they had to work together, usually destroying a horde of Living Armor, not a single one of the strange creatures could lay a gauntlet on them. There was no stopping them. It was also that feeling that made her think she had found the man for her.
In fact, she had been thinking that after they were both done with their duties for the day, she would propose. It was not unheard of in the Castle Stronghold. It was common that the Valkyries were the ones who asked a man to get married. They were the strongest women in the land, and had earned the right. Even the Lord and Lady, both of whom agreed she deserved the title of leader, had been asking when the day would come for her.
Karren was almost lost in those thoughts when an alarm sounded, echoing through out the castle. It was an attack, and judging by the sound, she knew it was by something formidable. As if responding to a born instinct, she started running through the place, eventually making her way to one of the battlements. It was almost luck that she didn't run over her second in command, a younger woman named Molly. "What's attacking? Is it another gargoyle?"
The young woman shook her head. "Worse. It's a chimera. Some seems to think it matches the one in the tapestry." That made Karren’s blood go cold. If that was true, there was only one weapon that could defeat it, and that was in the room where the tapestry was. She'd have to run to it, and then get back in time.
She looked at the young woman, and gave the command. "Keep the beast busy, and try to defeat it. If it is truly the Chimera of Skorne's, I'll be back with the weapon to destroy it." She saw the second in command nod, and then run off. In response, she ran off to the room the tapestry was in. Given her long time in charge of the Valkyries, she had memorized almost every nook in the castle, which meant she got to the tapestry in no time.
She walked right up to the sword that was at the base of the tapestry. It had been wielded by the legendary Valkyrie, Rasha. The story was that the legendary Valkyrie flew into battle against the Chimera, and, with one swipe, cut off all three heads. The tapestry even had shown Rasha, except she was a Falconess, a woman who had the head and wings of a falcon. For a moment, she wondered what it would have been like to have flown like that.
She was broken out of those thoughts when she heard an unearthly sound. It was followed by screams of pain and death. She quickly ran back out to the battlements, and almost froze in horror at what she saw. Half of her Valkyries were dead, their bodies unrecognizable. Almost all the guards were dead, and the Chimera was ripping one apart. The real horrifying fact was that the figure being ripped apart was the man she loved.
At that moment, a rage went through Karren, and she leapt out at the Chimera. While she was a long way off, she was surprised to feel herself flying through the air. It wasn't until she was halfway towards the Chimera that she managed to catch a glimpse of herself in one the courtyard's waterways. She noticed feathery wings had sprouted from her back, and her head had changed into that of a falcon. She had become a Falconess.
As she neared the Chimera, she realized that this new form had another benefit. Before this had happened, the sounds she heard from the beast had been nothing but animal noises. Now, she heard the foul creature speak, and the words chilled her to the bone. "Not another bitch like that accursed Rasha. If you think I will let that thing cut off any of my heads again, it won't happen."
Karren spun around in the air, and then slung the blade through the air towards the Chimera. As it flew, she shouted, "And if you think I'll let you kill another soul, that won't happen either." Much to her surprised, the blade soared through the air, and almost hit the middle head of the Chimera. The surprise was unpleasant, since at the last moment, the beast ducked low, and the blade continued spinning, heading past the castle walls, and to the lands far beyond.
She gasped in shock at the loss of the legendary weapon. That gasp was then drowned out by the laughter of the Chimera's three heads. She turned and saw it was now flying away. As it flew, however, the Chimera boasted. "Thank you, foolish woman. Skorne will be happy that that bane is gone. And once I am far enough away, you will fall to your death. Then all the humans here will be my feast."
Karren watched, almost dumbfounded as the creature flew off, but then she remembered where she was. She quickly landed on the battlements, just as she returned to normal. She watched as the creature became a speck on the horizon, and heard the Lord and Lady approach her.
She turned to face them, but lowered her head. She even got down on one knee, but was ashamed to look at them. "My lieges, I'm sorry I have failed you. I failed to stop that foul beast, and now a blight will come upon the land."
She was almost grateful when the Lady spoke. "Do not despair, Karren. You did your best to defend, and the people are still safe. I was sadden to see that the man you loved was slain." She almost flinched when she heard that. She had not realized the Lady had seen that.
The next voice surprised her even more. It was the Lord. "It is ironic that facts about your life parallel Rasha's. It is written down in the archives that she had been like you. Captain of the Valkyries at a young age, and held the title for years. She was able to become a Falconess. The only thing that was different was that when she wed, it had been with a Knight, not a guard."
For the first time, Karren looked at her rulers since she kneeled. "A Knight. But they are of the Sky Dominion. They don't come here, do they?" She had only heard about them, as well as the Sky Dominion. True Knights from there never set foot on land once they reached the air.
The Lord, much to her surprise, nodded his head. "On rare occasion. Rasha had not been the first to hold that blade. A Knight had brought it down to her after it had flown off, thrown by the first person to hold it. That may be case now, especially if the Chimera's master, Skorne is returning."
Karren did not know how to respond to this. What it did cause, however, was hope to rise in her. She quickly got to her feet, and saluted them. "While the news that Skorne’s returning is bad, this may not just be happening here. There may be others, from other realms, preparing to fight, and looking to help. I wish to go to Sumner's tower."
She was not surprised that both monarchs nodded. The most powerful wizard in the eight realms, Sumner, would know how to find the Scimitar, as well as what other defenders might help. She didn't wait for another word to be said, but dashed away, and eventually through the castle’s gate.
She locked her eyes on her goal, and ran, passing many people who had been living in the Stronghold. Some looked at her, and she could tell they though the Valkyries were fleeing as well. Others, she heard as she passed, mentioned that she must be seeking some heroic item. She knew they were the one that were correct, but most likely, as things happened, would not be believed. It was the state of human nature at these times. Still, she closed the distance to the ethereal tower, inwardly marveling at how it seemed to be both there, and not there, at the same time. There, Karren knew, would be help.