Need to catch up? Click here to read Chapter One or find links to other stories set in the realm of D'veen at the end of this chapter!
Welcome back! It has been some time since we last spoke, I hope you’ve been well. I started to wonder if you would ever return. Of course, few can resist the tales of Finton Merrybrook, the greatest storyteller in all of D’veen! So, I knew you’d be back.
When we last left our heroes, the drunken Yeldarb had just learned of the elf Melissari’s visions of doom for the realm. The Verack Horde, invaders from another dimension beyond our own, would soon return.
With the Order of the Pawn scattered to the four corners of the realm, Melissari recruits Yeldarb to go and seek out the other founding members, starting with Chrystalia Johnstus, the queen of the Valkyries…
Chapter Two: Murder on High
Yeldarb and Melissari had scarcely made it halfway up the mountain slopes that the Valkyries called home before they were forced to take a break. Yeldarb, as it turned out, was prone to sickness when using the Verack’s jet packs.
“Oh, come now, Yeldarb, surely your constitution is stronger than this!” Melissari shouted.
Yeldarb wiped sour bile from his lips, having freshly lost what was left of his dinner. “You try doing this while half-drunk, and we’ll see how long before you empty the contents of your stomach!”
“You should have thought about that before you decided to spend the last of your coin on ale!”
Yeldarb stood up, taking a deep breath of the icy air. It was invigorating and soothing against his burning throat.
“I hadn’t planned on scaling the highest peak in the realm this night. Pardon me for not planning further ahead.”
Melissari shook her head. Her piercing green eyes looked upward. It was nearly impossible to see through the swirling blizzard that perpetually guarded the Valkyrie’s home at the mountaintop.
“Can you imagine how they must feel? The Valkyries, I mean. Centuries of guarding the realm's gods, only for their masters to perish. And now, the Valkyries are left to their own devices, devoid of purpose. It must be a lonely life,” Melissari said.
“Oh, spare me. Plenty of people are devoid of purpose, and you don’t see them wallowing in self-pity at the top of the world.”
“You’re just saying that because you and Chrystalia have a history. You know her pain all too well, don’t you?” Melissari asked.
“We do not have a history, thank you very much! But yes, I’ve heard the tales. Will we keep discussing ancient history while we freeze to death, or would you like to navigate this infernal blizzard?”
"Fentlewimbur, the eternal blizzard. They say that the storm only calms itself when a Valkyrie dies. Did you know that?” Melissari said.
Before Yeldarb could respond, the wind went deathly silent. Melissari’s eyes went wide as silence gripped the mountainside. She looked to Yeldarb.
“Well, now, that’s terrible timing,” Yeldarb remarked.
“We have to go now!”
Melissari pressed the metal plate on her chest, and the jet pack unfurled around her shoulders. Flames shot down her back, melting the snow at her feet. She lifted her arms up, and the flames answered.
Yeldarb watched her soar into the sky. He took a deep breath, let the stormy sea in his abdomen settle, and pressed the metal plate on his chest. The metal of the jet pack was warm against his skin. He felt the flames tickling the back of his legs as he raised his arms.
With the storm silenced, Yeldarb navigated the ivory slopes of the mountain with ease, weaving between trees and rocks. In the distance, the unique architecture of the Celestial Peak rose into view.
When the creators of the realm, the Aluthian Titans, perished during the failed creation of D’veen’s moon, the shards of their Celestial Forge rained down upon the peak, destroying the Valkyrie’s humble abodes. It was said that the Valkyries mourned the loss of their gods by constructing a new kingdom from the ashes.
The ice atop Winter’s Peak never melts, making it the perfect building tool to complement the strange metals of the Aluthian Titans. It created buildings like no other, with sprawling towers and sharp edges.
Yeldarb saw Melissari turn her palms downward, hovering at the kingdom's edge before gracefully landing on her feet. Yeldarb attempted to do the same, but when he turned his palms downward, the flames at his back immediately snuffed out.
He screamed in a mixture of embarrassment and frustration as he fell face-first onto the hard snow of the mountaintop. Melissari did little to mask her amusement as he stood to his feet, scraping snow from his beard.
“I am so glad you’re enjoying this. I loathe this accursed technology,” Yeldarb mumbled.
Melissari patted Yeldarb on the back. “We need to find out what happened.”
Yeldarb followed Melissari through the thick snow. Ahead of them, buildings of ice and metal lined the kingdom's main corridor. The castle loomed large in the distance, an impressive crystal palace.
Yeldarb let out a silent sigh of relief as he saw a pair of Valkyries approaching them. They hovered just above the snow, moving with poise and grace as if they floated on a phantom current.
The Valkyries wore sleek silver armor from head to toe. Made from the same material as their buildings, the armor could change shape and size as needed. It would melt and morph across their bodies using magic long lost from this world.
On the left was Chrystalia Johnstus, the queen of the Valkyries. She was joined by her most trusted advisor, Katharon Legara. They both wore grim expressions as they softly landed in the snow before Melissari and Yeldarb.
Chrystalia regarded Yeldarb with piercing eyes. Katharon sized up both the arrivals with an equally powerful stare.
“We come in peace, I assure you,” Yeldarb said, attempting to break the silence.
“I am sure you noticed the roar of Fentlewimbur has faded. Your timing is apt, to say the least,” Chrystalia said.
“So it’s true then? A Valkyrie has fallen?” Melissari asked.
“Indeed, but that is not the worst news,” Chrystalia replied.
Katharon clenched her fists. Yeldarb saw a fire burning in her eyes. He knew that look all too well.
“She was murdered, wasn’t she?” Yeldarb asked.
Chrystalia nodded. “Come with us.”
Melissari and Yeldarb tapped the metal plates on their chests to collapse the jet packs. They followed the two Valkyries through the main corridor of the kingdom towards the crystal dome in the center.
It had been many years since Yeldarb set foot inside the crystal palace. It was a sacred place: only Valkyries and their most trusted friends were allowed to pass the threshold. As Yeldarb and Melissari entered the main courtyard, the blood in their veins ran as cold as the air around them.
In the courtyard's center, the tree Yarasil loomed large, its lush leaves casting a shadow over the entire space. Yarasil was the last tree the Aluthian Titans planted on D’veen before departing forever. In the centuries since they left, it had grown immensely under the care of the Valkyries.
Yeldarb’s breath hitched as his eyes wandered to the Valkyrie pinned to the center of the tree’s enormous trunk, impaled to the wood by a weapon of her people. Behind her, the glowing sap of the tree ran down in thick streaks. It was a blasphemous killing, one meant to send a message.
“By the Titans. Chrystalia, I don’t know what to say,” Yeldarb uttered.
“There’s nothing to be said. Serena was alive just hours ago, and then Katharon discovered the body before you arrived,” Chrystalia said.
“The weapon that killed her, is it one your own?” Melissari asked.
Katharon approached the body with a quiet reverence. She pointed to several blackened gashes in the Valkyrie Selena’s armor.
“It is one of our weapons, but it was not responsible for the blow that ended her life. Look at these scorch marks. You should know them well, you wear the same technology on your backs.”
Yeldarb’s eyes went wide. “Verack technology? Wait, you’re not suggesting that we—”
“Seize them at once!” Chrystalia shouted.
Valkyries appeared in the space surrounding Yeldarb and Melissari. Their armor could mimic their surroundings, hiding them in plain sight. They had been following the pair since their arrival.
Yeldarb didn’t resist as several pairs of hands threw him to the ground and restrained him.
“This is madness! We had nothing to do with her death!” Melissari cried.
The Valkyries restrained her, too, as both Chrystalia and Katharon looked on in silence.
“Chrystalia, you know me, I would never harm one of your own,” Yeldarb said, his face buried in the snowy ground.
“And yet, for the first time in centuries, a Valkyrie falls just before your arrival. And, by Verack technology no less, which you have so boldly brought into my kingdom.”
“How else could we surmount this peak? Listen to yourself, you’re blinded by grief! We came here to recruit your assistance as allies. We are not your enemies!” Yeldarb shouted.
“That remains to be seen. Until this murder has been solved, you are both prisoners of the Valkyries. I’ll hear no more discussion on the matter.” Chrystalia said.
The Valkyries pulled Yeldarb and Melissari to their feet, escorting them into the castle and down into the cold recesses of the dungeon. Katharon and Chrystalia stayed behind, watching them depart.
“Do you honestly believe they could have done it?” Katharon asked.
Chrystalia held back her tears. She couldn’t show any sign of weakness. She didn’t know who to trust anymore.
“Yeldarb’s timing is often convenient, but given the circumstances, we cannot be too careful,” she replied.
“It seems like you and Yeldarb have a history,” Katharon said.
Chrystalia allowed a smile to break through. “We do indeed, which is why I sincerely hope he is not guilty of this crime.”
“Why is that?” Katharon asked.
A single tear slid out from Chrystalia’s eyes. “Because if he has anything to with this, I’ll kill him myself.”
TO BE CONTINUED…
More Stories Set in The Realm of D'veen
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About the Creator
Lover of dogs, gaming, and long walks on the beach. Content Marketing Manager by day, aspiring writer by night. Long time ghostwriter, finally stepping into the light. Alone, we cannot change this world, but we can create better ones.