1 The City of Valhall

Chapter 1

The city of Valhall

The full moon shone down upon the streets and rooftops of the city of Valhall cladding everything in a smooth silver sheet of light. Crouched in the shadows of the overhanging eaves Dameon held his breath as the three ringleaders of a rival street gang passed within a meter of his hiding place. Watching from a nearby rooftop, my wings tightly folded on my back, I smiled slightly. No one knew the streets like Dameon, he knew all the hiding spots and secret alleys. When they had passed out of sight down the road, Dameon crept from hiding and called softly,

“I know you’re there Serah, no use hiding.”

I sighed and gracefully stood up, before flipping myself off the edge of the roof to land in a crouch in front of him.

“Can you stop doing that?” he snapped, tying his long sliver-blonde hair back in a ponytail.

I meet his blue-eyed gaze with my own multi-coloured eyes.

“ If you know I’m there you can hardly complain when I get the jump on you” I retorted.

“I can sense you’re there but I can’t tell where you are,” he explained in a weary tone.

I sighed again, blowing a stray strand of white hair out of my eyes. “Sorry.”

He shrugged, “ah, it’s ok. Anyway why are we standing here in the cold? Let’s get inside.”

I scampered back up the wall, retrieved my cloak and hurried after him as he led the way to the hideout. Walking along beside him I found myself remembering the second time we’d meet; it was five years ago now. A group of seven wild dogs had me cornered and trapped and were within minutes of tearing me apart when Dameon intervened.

The pack leader was about to leap at me when suddenly a rock came out of nowhere and struck it in the ribs. The pack leader swung around, it’s eyes settling on the figure of a boy about my own age with a pouch in one hand and a stone in the other. He pelted the dogs with rocks and then ran away. The pack leader growled an order and shot after him. The other dogs followed.

          When the last one had left I ran the other way. As I passed the opening of the dark alley something knocked me to the ground. I twisted around and saw the pack leader crouched over me. It drew back its lips and snarled and with a start I realized I could understand it.

“You will not escape me this time,” the dog snarled. As it drew back its head to bite me, something slammed into its side. As the dog crashed to the ground, Dameon leapt on top of it and plunged a short bladed sword into its chest.

Dameon stood, flicked the hair out of his eyes and pulled me to my feet                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

“Thanks for that” I said, brushing dust off my clothes.

“No problem” Dameon replied “Are you ok?”

“Yeah I’m fine. Who are you anyway?”

“Name’s Dameon, Prince of Valhall”

“Are you really the Prince?”

“I was” Dameon muttered, then looked up at the sky and vowed “and will be again someday”. I came out of my memory to follow Dameon as he led the way through the maze of rubbish that hid the hideout. No one would be able to find it without a guide. I heard Dameon make a disgusted noise and muttered something that sounded like ‘not again’.  I looked up to find the entrance to the den clogged by rubbish. Luckily it was only empty boxes and cans. I joined Dameon as we dug our way through to the door. After a while we uncovered a fragile looking wardrobe. Dameon took hold of the doorhandle and pulled out then pushed it inwards. As we entered Dameon flicked a switch and the lights came on filling the den with a warm golden glow. Since only the two of us lived here it was sparsely furnished. I threw off my cloak with relief and flapped my wings sharply freeing them of the dust that had collected as we dug our way inside.

“Well” Dameon said moving towards the first of the small bedrooms “It is midnight. Good night”.

“Goodnight” I replied as he closed the door. I made my way to my own room, closed the door, stripped down and climbed into bed. I wrapped both wings around myself and almost immediately fell asleep.

Two days later Dameon and I were walking together trough the Sunday market of Valhall. We had learnt years ago that it was safer to walk together. After an attack three years earlier that had resulted in the death of one of the rival gang’s followers, the street kids had started travelling in pairs. Dameon seemed to be thinking over something and did not seem to see what was going on around him. I stopped to admire a stall filled with little glass figures of various races and guilds.

“Are you lookingsss for worksss?” A faint hissing voice asked.

I looked up in surprise to find myself staring into the dead reptilian eyes of a Mongordian[1], one of the Lizard race under the rule of Queen Camardian, one of the twelve tribal chiefs.

“Not really” I replied carefully, “I was just admiring your work”.

The Mongordian sat back and snorted. “No one ever admired my worksss before” He hissed, “They all go to the Salmander further down.”

“Salmander?” Dameon whispered in my ear, confused.

“Salmander means ‘The Unskilled’ in Mongordian that translates to highly skilled in our tongue”. I turned back to the stallholder, “your work is far superior. His figures have slight details left out like this one” I said, indicating a Ki’miri that looked disturbingly like me except she was clad in amour and carrying two swords. “The details on the amour and the sword pommels are of a very high standard”.

The Mongordian snorted, “You should see my brothers work. It’s far superior to mine. He lives in Chalamore.”

“Sadly, I will probably never have the chance” I said regretfully.

The Mongordian nodded slowly, “You might if you work for me. I’d pay you well.”

I hesitated for another minute before accepting the offer of work. He shook my hand and introduced himself as Coran the glass smith.

“Come back in the afternoon I may have some work for you then,” Coran said shooing us away.

As we moved on I noticed that Dameon had slipped back into his mood of thoughtful silence.

“What’s eating you?” I snapped finally after trying to make conversation three times.

Dameon seemed to struggle with himself for a moment before answering, “I had a … Dream”

“About what?”

He didn’t answer immediately, then asked a question of his own. “You know my brother abandoned me on the street when my parents died?”

I nodded “and I know you’ve been planning a revolt”.

“In the dream I heard a voice saying ‘‘you wish to unseat the king, a brother who stole your throne? You will need the help we will send. Accept and you will succeed. Fail to do so… and all shall fall to ruin.”

“Are you going to accept their help?”

“Maybe, if I knew what it was”.

I nodded slowly. “If you knew you would already be King”.

Dameon gave me a sceptical look. I shrugged.

“And I suppose you’re going to be grumpy until we find this sign?”

“We?” Dameon asked, turning to look at me. “What we?”

I took a deep breath. “I am going to help you unseat your brother.”

“Oh, no you are not”.

“And why not?”

“Because it’s going to be dangerous.”

I rolled my eyes. “You don’t think I know that?”

Dameon spun around to face me. ”You’re not coming.”

“Why not?” I snapped, firing up. “You’re not the only one who wants a new King.”

“I don’t want a new King, I was destined to be the King.”

I made a dismissive gesture. “Same thing, you seem to forget I’m not entirely human therefore I am stronger”.

“I know your Ki’miri, part cat, part eagle, part human. It’s just I have the best chance of getting close enough to do some harm. You, he knows, hates and maybe even fears,” I snorted, but he continued “Me, he hates and despises and he will not lose a chance to torture me into giving up my claim to the throne.”

That piece of news broke my anger “Y-you have claim to the … throne?” I stammered.

Dameon nodded. “I am the younger son but I have certain qualities my brother lacks, like diplomacy, decisiveness and others.”

I shook my head, my anger broken by this unexpected piece of news.

“My father was going to pass on leadership to me when he died…” Dameon didn’t finish the sentence but I understood anyway and dropped a consoling arm around his shoulders.

“What did you mean when you said ‘he fears’ me?” I asked.

Dameon looked at me. “Even here we have heard of Serah the Ki’miri ninja. It is said that you are the most skilled of assassins.”

I stiffened as he said these last words. “If they are true,” I said, “why do you stay with me?”

Dameon shrugged. “I have nothing more to lose. I have already lost my kingdom and my right to be king. If you wish to kill me I would not be worried.” He looked at me. “Are you that Serah?”

“Yes”


[1] Mongordian – the lizard race that inhabits the far north. They are far more skilled than all other races. Although they prefer to seek a peaceful solution they are, when provoked, formidable warriors.

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