At a small lake in a valley surrounded by trees Katsumi and I sat on a bench and looked around us. It was noon and we just finished eating on the sixth day on our way to Oridale. The day before we past through a small village, where the village chief warned us about this area. Apparently an old mansion on the south-east side of the lake is inhabited by a Valkyrie and many travellers never came back after passing through here. He also said whoever killed the Valkyrie and brought him the head would become the mansions owner. It was a good offer, which Katsumi and I decided to accept. We could see the mansion on the other side of the lake from our vantage point.
“So what do you think?” Katsumi looked at me with anticipation. “Hmm, I don't know. The mansion itself doesn't look very rundown and we would only need to pay a bit to renovate it, it could be a pretty nice home. Even if we wouldn't renovate it, we could use it, like stocking our leftover equipment there. Still, is it worth the trouble? What do you think?”
“I'm not quite sure. We could invest the money we make later useful, but we do not know the exact state the mansion is in. I would like to take a closer look and decide after that. Is that ok?”
I took a few moments to consider what she said.
“If we want to check things out, we should get going.”
We stood up and started moving around the lake towards the mansion and the closer we came the heavier the atmosphere became, itching me to fight.
“Although it shouldn't be to much of a problem right now, the ownership of the propertie could be a problem later on.”
“The ownership problem would be something we could take care of after our adventure, but to be honest I like the idea of living here and fighting a Valkyrie sounds like fun.”
“You're a madman, aren't you?” Katsumi giggled.
After arriving at the mansion we sneaked in and upon entering we realised that it was nearly pitch black inside, which is why we needed some time before our eyes could adjust to the darkness. Even so a bit of light came in from a broken window on the left side of the entrance hall. We could see some rundown furniture and a staircase going up a round way on both sides. Under the staircase on the other side of the room was another door, which probably lead to the main corridor of the mansions first floor.
“I say we fight it and retreat when necessary.”
I said while we slowly made our way to the door. We raised our guard to the maximum and proceeded with caution.
“Yeah, that should work, but after coming this far, I would like to take that thing down.”
Once we passed the door we stood in a wide hallway with many doors and both sides. To our left was a large door which had a small hole in it through which we peered. Inside was a Valkyrie with jet black wings, who sat on a throne of corps. The Valkyrie flashed a devilish smile and looked through the door.
“Those foolish enough to step in my domain, show yourself!”
Katsumi and me made eye contact, once again ascertaining our determination. We stepped inside our weapons drawn and ready to fight.
“What's thy business here? Did thy came to find thy grave?”
“We came to kill you!”
“Big words for a lowly human! I shall grand thy death wish!”
The Valkyrie raised herself and looked at us grinning. My lips raised up into a fearless fight. Katsumi let lose the arrow she had already knocked, while I clad my sword in magic power and jumped forward.
Before the arrow was able to connect the Valkyrie made her move. She dodge the arrow effortless and accelerated towards me, however I did not stop my advance. We collided with an explosive sound and I was pushed back. The Valkyrie brandished her sword and slashed at me. I deflected her blow and tried to take the offensive, nonetheless she dodged again and made use of her speed to circle behind me. Yet I didn't worry, after all Katsumi had my back.
Another arrow came flying at pinpoint accuracy towards the Valkyrie, who used the momentum of her move to deflect the arrow. I did not let the opening go to waste and slashed at her wing. Despite that the Valkyrie managed to dodge and sent me flying with a powerful kick against the wall.
The air in my lungs was compressed and I could feel that some ribs where broken, but I immediately got back up and closed the distance between us again.
Our swords clashed without stop at high speed and Katsumi supported me with her arrows. The Valkyrie was beginning to pile up wounds and was backed into a corner. Just as I was about to deliver the finishing blow the Valkyrie batted her wings and hovered above me.
However I jumped up slashed vortical at her. She managed to dodge the blow but Katsumi had already expected this and an arrow pierced her shoulder, creating an opening.
I let more magic power flow into the blade and used the remaining momentum from my previous strike to to slash at her with my red glowing sword.
The Valkyrie tried to balance herself and guard against my blow with her sword, but her sword was not capable to withstand blow from [Glimmer], resulting it to be split in two along with the Valkyrie.
Due to the powerful strike I lost my balance and fell down besides the remains of the Valkyrie, hitting my head on the floor. I saw Katsumi running towards me as I lost concious. -
As I came to I was lying on my sleeping bag topless and my torso was already treated, but it was still painful when I moved. Katsumi was sitting next to me.
“Are you ok?”
“Yeah, I'm fine. My shoulder hurts like hell though.” I pulled myself up to setting position.
,,Don't move, you should rest.”
“Nah, it's fine. By the way where are we?”
“I moved you to the second floor of the mansion. After all It is safer and I didn't want to spent the night in a room full of corps...”
“I see, tahnks, but you should rest too, Katsumi. We need the strength tomorrow when we want to get back to that village.”
“That shouldn't be a problem, I'm used to it.”
“Even so, I wouldn't be able to sleep well, when I know I'm making a pretty girl watch over me so she can't rest.”
“I guess I have no choice.”
She smiled softly and laid down next to me on her sleeping back. I also laid back, trying not to move much. Pain cursed through my upper body and I couldn't sleep. It seems our plans where more or less de laid since I'm incapable to fight in this condition.
After a while I noticed someone watching me. I opened my eyes and got up, while trying not to make to much noise so I wouldn't wake Katsumi up, since I knew she was a light sleeper. I went through the door on the left side to find myself standing on a balcony.
I looked around cautious with my guard raised. Suddenly a white light surrounded me and I could see white wings on the back of a person. I starred in amazement and asked myself if this could be an angel, but my guess was soon proved wrong, so I took a step back.
“Do not fear Human! I mean no harm!”
The person in front of me was a Valkyrie with white wings, which started to descended onto the balcony. She landed soft a few steps away from me. Even more cautious I fastened the grip on the sword in my hand and spoke in a hard voice.
“What do you want?”
The Valkyrie simply smiled. Her face looked smiling even more beautiful and her long white hair illuminated her face and silver armour, which shined in the moonlight, making her look even more angelic. Her sky blue eyes made me feel like she could see right through me.
“I came here to express my gratitude for taking care of my corrupted sister and I wish to ask you something.”
“Go on, what do you want?” Her smile became brighter.
“I wish to travel with you.”
My jaw dropped and I wanted to say something, but I couldn't. I expected many things, a request for compensation, vengeance, many other things, but not this.
“The way you defeated my sister, truly worthy of a person I can dedicate my time to. So I shall hear your answer.”
“Travel with me? Only because I defeated your sister? I even got injured, there must be a person more capable.”
Her eyes started glittering and drool was dripping from her mouth, she was starting to feel less like a proud, powerful warrior and more like a child who found a new toy.
“You must jest! I've been alive for who knows how long and I never saw a person such as you. I wish to know the story of your live. Please let me travel with you. I beg of you!”
The Valkyrie did not seem to lie and I could feel no Ill will coming from her. She could also be a valuable asset in the future. Even so I have to ask Katsumi first.
“I need some time to talk about this with my companion. Give me some minutes.”
“I shall await your answer. Call for me when you came to a conclusion.”
I went back inside to discuss the matter about the Valkyrie with Katsumi, who was still asleep so I decided to wake her up.
“ Katsumi, wake up!”
“We kind of have an important matter to discuss. There is a Valkyrie on the balcony and wants to join us....”
Katsumi had a hard time believing what I just told her, but I couldn't really blame her, since I also thought the situation to be some kind of dream.
“Your not just telling a joke, are you?”
“How could I joke about something like this?”
Silence settled in and she seemed to be considering the pros and cons of the situation. A few moments later she looked at me with a questioning gaze and asked.
“...So, what do we do now?”
“I was thinking of taking her with us.”
“Are you crazy?! Do you know how much she stands out and how dangerous she could be?”
“I can understand what you're worried about, but you can't ignore that she could become a valuable asset in the future and I don't know why, but I get the feeling we can trust her. ”
“So you are putting our live on the line just because you felt you could trust her?”
“That's why I asked you!”
“Fine, do what you want! I don't care anymore, but don't blame me if she stabs you in the back.”
“Thank you!” Katsumi turned around in a huff, while puffing her cheeks.
I went back on the balcony and saw the Valkyrie sitting on the railing.
“You're back! So how did it go, my lord?”
“I can't say it went well.” The Valkyrie looked dejected.
“Katsumi is angry, but she said she was ok with it, but told me not to blame her if anything happens.....So you can travel with us.”
Within a moment the mighty looking Valkyrie beamed almost like a child.
“So what do I call you?” She looked confused. “Your name?”
“Valkyries don't have names. We usually don't talk to people, so we don't need them.”
“You don't have a name?! You must be the first person I know.”
“Would it be alright for you to give me one, my lord?”
“Guess it can't be helped.”
I started to think about the names I heard so far and took me quite some time before I was capable of finding a name suitable for her. Nevertheless the Valkyrie seemed very exited the whole time
“Kana, that will be your name.”
“Kana, a good name. I shall treasure it my entire live!”
We went inside to see Katsumi. As she heard us approaching she turned around. She was still putting.
“Good evening I'm Katsumi Shizuka, pleased to make your acquaintance.”
Katsumi bowed and Kana spoke up.
“I'm Kana. I'm still not used to this whole name thing, my lord.”
Kana looked still happy saying this. Katsumi glared at me, er eyes filled with killing intent. I hope I will survive the night...
“Kana is a unusual name?”
She looked rather pleased, playing me like this. It seems she has a rather twisted personality...
“My lord gave it to me.”
“My name Akio not 'my lord'.”
“That won't do my lord. I can't call you by your name. Such things are not allowed from a servant.”
I'm dead. Katsumi was boiling with anger and rushed over whispering in my ear with a very cold, but understanding voice.
“Your lucky I know this is one sided, because if it weren't, you would be dead.”
Afterwards she backed away and turned to Kana.
“I hope we can work together, but if I ever find out you want to do something bad to Akio, I will kill you.”
“I'm pleased to hear you care so much about my lord. You have to know that I will also handle such situations likewise.”
They looked at each other with an indescribable look in their eyes.
“I have faith in both of you.”
They looked very happy to be praised like this.
“Then let's go to bed.”
“I was asleep until you woke me up, you know.”
“Sorry about that.”
We went to the sleeping backs and laid down. Katsumi on hers, I on mine and Kana directly next to me....
“Kana? What are you doing?”
“I wanted to provide you with warmth so you don't freeze, my lord.”
“That is not necessary, but thank you.” I could feel Katsumis glare.
“You should rest over there”
I pointed at a thick blanked which laid on the floor. Kana stood up dejected, but still laid down on the blanket. The pain in my torso had lessened so it did not take long before I feel asleep.
When I woke up Kana and Katsumi were already busy preparing for our leave.
“Good morning.” I said, still a little sleepy.
“Good Morning, my lord!” Kana responded happily, while coming to me.
“Morning” Katsumi responded annoyed over the situation unfolding before her, while rolling her eyes.
“Did you sleep well?”
“Yeah, somewhat, still, my torso is still aching like hell.”
“Is there something I can do to ease your pain?”
“No it's alright. Katsumi treated it well enough so there shouldn't be a problem.”
Looking around I noticed I was the only one who hadn't packed yet so I hastened. Some moments passed until I finished packing.
“So let's get going.”
After walking a bit I remembered our original purpose.
“Katsumi did you take the head with you?”
“Of course I have. I'm not that absent-minded, you know.”
“Sorry I ever doubted you Miss!”
“My lord, I don't quite understand? Why are you sorry? You only asked out of concern about your job right?”
“You don't have to understand. Or rather you won't understand, at least not until you get to know Katsumi better.”
Kana stood still, probably thinking about what I just said, meanwhile Katsumi shoot me a deadly glance.
“So what did you mean when you said 'Not until you get to know Katsumi better? What exactly do you think of me?”
I have to carefully think about what I'm going to say otherwise Katsumi will be mad all the way back. Also it is hard for her to get mad, once she is it will take time before she cooled down.
“Ehm...you're...really cute...nice, understanding and sometimes a bit scary.....I guess.”
“A bit scary you say? What could you possibly mean by that? And what's with your guess?”
Even her voice was now deadly as a knife. I have to think of something quickly.
“You're not scary! And you are really cute! In fact you are the most beautiful woman I've ever seen! I swear!”
I tried searching for more words to describe her and stop her from being angry, but while doing so I looked to my left again to see Katsumi was missing,so I looked a bit back. She looked like she was locked to the ground. Her was cast downwards, but I could see that her cheeks crimson red, just like the one time I woke her up in my arms. I didn't know what to say. Half of the things that came to my mind would only make her more embarrassed the other half me a dead man. Luckily I had Kana backing me up....or so I thought...
“So this is what Humans call [Love], am I right?”
“Are you CRASY?!?!? How could I ever fall in love with someone like that?”
“You know...It really hurts to hear something like that....”
I was unable to say anything else, so I looked down, since it really hurt quite a bit. Katsumi started to panic when she realised what she just said.
“That's not how I meant it. I would be capable of falling for you!Wait...that's not it, or is it?! What are you making me say, Kana?!”
Kana smiled very pleased and none of us could say anything else. It was already noon, we still hadn't reached the village and I was getting hungry, but Katsumi's stomach grumbled.
“It seems I'm not the only one hungry here.”
I looked over to her smiling. Slightly embarrassed Katsumi nodded, while Kana seemed a bit pleased again.
“You Humans and your need for food, I really pity you.”
“Nothing to pity about, I mean food is delicious.” .
While saying so Katsumi pulled a box out of her bag, opened it and showed it to Kana.
“You should try it yourself, at least once.”
Hesitant Kana took one of the sandwiches packed inside and took a bite. She began to drool and made some unexplainable sounds. A split-second later the whole sandwich was gone while she was licking her fingers.
“This was quite a feed, why have I never tried eating one of those?”
“I told you, delicious, right?”
They both looked at each other and started laughing. It seems food really is a universal language. We finished eating and started walking again.
An hour later we were only a short distance form the village away. Katsumi and Kana were chatting the whole time. I was happy that the two finally got along and turned around to face Kana in a good mood.
“It seems you have to wait her, the people will get afraid if we bring a Valkyrie along. Especially after the recent problem with your race. You could tag along if you were able to do something about your wings though.”
Upon hearing these words Kana looked a bit surprised, but closed her eyes. Suddenly everything glowed white and after I could see again her wings were gone.
“Your wish is my command, my lord.”
Dumbfounded I stared at her. Katsumi seemed to be equally surprised so Kana looked a bit confused.
“Is there a problem?”
For her it was like nothing out of the ordinary happened. Well for that is the case...
“No...not really. Shall we go?”
Still unsure about her appearance I pulled out a cloak and tossed it to Kana who first looked a bit confused first, but quickly guessed my intentions and put the cloak on. We turned around again and headed into the village looking for the elder who gave us the request. We found him sitting in the village tavern with a pipe in his hands. Upon hearing our steps he looked up lightly surprised but mostly happy.
“Ahh, It seems you managed to kill the Valkyrie! Akio! Katsumi!”
We moved to his desk and sat down. Katsumi put the Valkyrie head on the table.
“We were barley able to manage, so I hope you will keep your part of the arrangement.”
The old man smirked and laughed heartily. Also he should be rather old he had the vigour of a young adventurer.
“Of course! I wouldn't be so cruel to take advantage of adventures who are willing to risk their lives for us! Three beer!”
The old man shouted to the bar.
“Make it four!”
Hearing this he looked closer and saw Kana standing behind me, so he gestured her to take a seat. Kana sat down and lowered her hood. The whole tavern turned around to look at her hair. I had anticipated this, so I gave her the hood in front of the village.
“Quite extraordinary hair, who may this be?”
“This is Kana. We rescued her from the Valkyrie. She lost all her memories, even her name, so we thought we would take her along, at least until she remembers something.”
“That's a rare story, I never heard of a Valkyrie taking hostages, but if you say so, I have to believe you.”
The barkeeper brought the ale and I took a sip. This was the first ale I had since I left home. Dad would sometimes brew some sort of ale but it always tasted disgusting so I was really happy to finally be able to drink something good.
“That's good ale you got here. My compliment to the person who brewed this.”
“I shall tell him later. He is always happy when somebody praises his work, but let's get down to business.”
His expression shifted and he took a deep breath from his pipe. While realising the smoke in his lungs he continued.
“As I can see you killed the Valkyrie and you will get your reward. Unfortunately through various circumstances we can't pay you money. For the time being the only payment will be the mansion, however we would be capable of paying you the money on latter date, I hope you can accept this.”
“That shouldn't be a problem, but you don't need to pay us, we would be more content if you were to help us renovate the mansion. Of course we would pay up a fair amount. Would this course of action be all right with you?”
“Splendid! I will also offer a housekeeper to keep the building clean. Shall we conclude our negotiations then?”
Relieved over the result I nodded and ordered another round of ale. We drunk deep into the night and discussed the details. The old man told us that it would take them three weeks to renovate the mansion. That would be the same time my broken ribs need to heal, so Katsumi, Kana and I decided to stay in the village until the mansion was finished.
After we came to a conclusion we went to our room in the inn, one this time as well. The only difference was that we had two beds, it was one double and one solo bed. The outcome seemed obvious to me, so I moved to the solo bed, but I was proven wrong.
“Akio, what are you doing?”
“Sleeping in this bed, isn't it obvious?”
“Obvious? I won't sleep with a puny human in the same bed, except it's you my lord.”
I wanted to scream but didn't even get the change.