Black Valkyrie #1: The Two Realms

When I was a child, my father would tell me tales of two Deities and of the god they made in their arrogance. That after his banishment the Avatars were created as his replacements and with them came the Worlds. And from the Worlds came us, the Disir. Remember this well Metatron, he’d say, all creatures of the mortal plane will one day perish. It is then that we take those dark and tainted souls to Aaru. The pure and just will be ferried by the Valkyries to Valhalla. My father Girgori was King of the Reapers and ruler of Aaru. Shadows covered the entirety of his body and horns curved backward from the front of his skull.

“My lord, I’ve a message for Metatron.” one of the many Reapers who lived here asked my father. Like most Reapers including my father, his body was cloaked in shadows. His true form hidden beneath armor made of bone to terrify and intimidate. The mortals often saw the Reapers as skeletons in black robes. They weren’t far from the reality.

“Oh? And what might this message be?” Grigori responds leaning back on his throne. He was tired of the monotony ruling brought him over the eons but maintained his imposing visage.

“I’m sorry my lord but it’s a private message of the utmost importance.”

“If it’s of the utmost importance then I’ll deliver the message myself.”

“N-no my lord I couldn’t ask that of you.”

“Then stop wasting my time and tell me the message.” his eyes glowed with flames.

After a brief moment of paralyzing fear, the Reaper complies. “Rift Gates have appeared in the Submerged World.”

“I should’ve known…Very well, if he wants to continue his crusade let him.” With a wave of his hand, Grigori opens a portal which the Reaper enters.

Father would tell me of the mortals and their often conflicting beliefs. He said many believed Aaru was a land of fire and brimstone while others a land of ice. Some even thought it was layered. But they were all wrong, Aaru had very little difference from Valhalla. Both had sporadic castles spread across the land where the Disir lived with fields, mountains, and rivers between them. But while Valhalla had days, nights, and the seasons, Aaru was in perpetual twilight and the souls who were ferried here remained beneath the surface. Passing the pristine fields to the stony hellscape where they’d remain for the rest of their existence. So close yet so far at all times and forever reminded of it. The portal Grigori made transported the Reaper from the surface down into the hellscape below.

“Prince Metatron?” he says as he enters the door before him. Each individual room in the hellscape was its own pocket dimension we Reapers tailored for their inhabitants. With countless souls from countless Worlds, it was the only way to contain them all.

In this particular hellscape was a lavish room fit for a king with the finest silk sheets and elegant carpets. There the hedonists were granted free reign to enjoy all their vices. Their unending hunger, thirst, and lust would be sated. But at the moment they are about to reach their peak of enjoyment, they’d be banished to a cold dark prison where they’d remain chained to a wall. Forced to watch the others enjoy themselves like a drug addict forced to quit immediately. Their torture to be forced to watch knowing they won’t be able to enjoy it ever again. Sitting watching over the hellscape from the singular bed present sat Metatron, the Prince of Aaru. His skin was fair like his mothers, a spiked head of hair shone gold and silver much like his eyes, a fit frame ideal for a warrior, and small horns that curved upwards and blended in with his hair.

“Azazel, welcome.” I greet my associate with a lazy wave of my right hand.

“Why do you insist on coming here Prince?” he asks trying to navigate around the rampant debauchery.

“There’s much you can learn from these lost souls.” I stand up and walk over the mound of bodies and greet Azazel with a hug. Reapers aren’t particularly known for their sentiment and I just wanted to annoy him. “You may not be able to tell mortals apart but it’s fascinating when you learn. So many different body types and interests. It’s a miracle Aaru has enough space to hold it all.”

“You smell abhorrent.” he pushes me away ignoring my words.

“I’ve been told that’s what happens when you sweat a lot.”

He shakes his head in disbelief before continuing. “My prince, Rift Gates have opened in the Submerged World.”

“Today just keeps getting better and better.” I grin and summon my cloak. The inky black shadow the Reapers wore that acted as both clothing and weapon reached up from the ground and covered my legs up to my hips. Breaking off and covering my forearms.

“I must insist if you don’t wear your armor at least properly wear your cloak.” Azazel was the closest thing I’d consider a friend among the Reapers. Though to him, he’s just my attendant.

“It’s unnecessary especially against Angels.” with a flick of my wrist I summon a gateway to the Submerged World. One of the benefits of my lineage. “Are you going to join me?”

“No my Prince, this is your insane quest, not mine.”

“Suit yourself.”

When I was a child I asked my father about the Angels and if we too would be in charge of their souls. He told me they were abominations that defied the rules of our reality. That when they died they just ceased to exist and so long as they lived every World and every realm of existence was in peril. Every time an Angel killed someone or something there was a good chance the soul would be irreparably damaged and their victims wiped from existence. That was an affront to what it meant to be a Disir. I always considered not only his fear and avoidance but the Avatars avoidance of them cowardice and sought to prove myself.

For all the Worlds that remained, there were countless ones consumed by the Angels and wiped from existence. The gateways that connected them to Aaru and Valhalla severed to protect us from their blight. However, some remain functional if you know what to do and where to look. The Submerged World would soon become like that and would be cut off from both afterlives. As I floated through the skies all I see below are the ruins of a metropolis covered in unending sea. Tall spires now toppled and the numerous voices that deafened the air now turned to a whisper. It reminded me of the World that used to be a utopia of chrome and decadence before the Angels arrived…I’ve yet to see the Valkyries work harder than they did that day. But here there are no Valkyries nor Reapers and I wonder what caused this Worlds downfall. Was it the Angels or was it already damned before this point?

“Now where are you…” I thought to myself as I surveyed the endless ocean. I sense a mortal and land on what remained of a skyscraper. “Come on out. I know you’re there.”

After a few minutes, a woman comes out of hiding. The hoodie and jeans she wore were dingy and damaged. Her face dirty and hair unkempt. She held only a bloody pipe as her weapon of defense. “Wo are you?” she asks with an intense stare. She had seen many horrors and was more than ready to defend herself against me. “You’re one of those things aren’t you?!”

“A mortal?” I was interested seeing her up close. Reapers rarely interact with living mortals. This was the first time I’ve ever engaged with one up close that wasn’t already just a soul. “Do I look like an Angel?” I inquire turning to her.

“I don’t see a halo or wings on you. But you sure as hell have that same black stuff like the monsters.”

“Wings and a halo?” I’ve never heard of such an Angel. Maybe there was a new breed I was unaware of. “Tell me about these Angels with wings and a halo.” I take a step forward.

“What?” she maintained her defenses and took a step away from me.

“You saw an Angel with halo and wings yes?”

“Well, I mean there were lots of books and paintings of them before the flood.” she stops and shook her head. “No more questions, tell me who and what you are or I’m going to have to use this.” Before she can even finish I appear at her side and take the pipe from her. My 6’2 frame towering over her 5’6.

“Surely if you were capable of using this…thing…you would’ve done so sooner.” I examine the pipe curious of its purpose. It appeared to be a bludgeoning weapon but had a strange design that put needless strain on the wielder. “I’ll answer your question if you answer mine.” I say returning her weapon. “I am Metatron, Prince of Aaru. I came here to deal with the Angels that appeared from the Rift Gates. Now, where are the Angels?”

“I have no idea what any of that means.”

“If your soul is unjust you’ll know intimately what it means. Now, the Angels.” I was told in my youth that mortals usually wouldn’t know of the Angels that threatened their existence. But the times they do have never ended well for that World…

“I don’t know. I was just doing a supply run. Those things just come and go, especially at night.”

“Coming and going?” Just hearing those words sounded off to me. Angels either kill everything in their path or you’re forced into hiding until they find you. They don’t retreat or leave you alone on a whim no matter the time of day. “Let’s draw them out shall we?”

“Wait, what?”

Using the parts of my cloak that remained, I created an artificial eclipse. If the Angels preferred night then I would give it to them. With the skies turned black and I could hear their approach before I sensed them. Another oddity but one I’d worry about later, now I was focused on my targets. Inferna Versus, a small birdlike Angel with wings lined with razor-sharp blades and beaks capable of piercing the hardest of diamonds. Individually, they were hardly a threat but they always traveled in flocks several hundred strong. Their sickly glossy eyes, the strained caws that came out of them every few seconds, and constantly shedding and regrowing feathers were repulsive. When they caught sight of me, they made an instant beeline for me and my mortal guest.

“It’s all over…” she exhales collapsing to her knees and resigning to an inevitable fate.

“Pathetic, worried about such child’s play.” I grin at the challenge and summon my scythe from the shadows in my left hand. It’d body every bit as black as my cloak and the blade white like the bone armor Reapers wore. “But I suppose an Angel is still an Angel.”

With scythe in hand, Metatron flies to his targets. With the slightest movement, his scythe spins and cleaves through the Angels in seconds. The speed of his slashes was blinding and the size of his scythe was irrelevant in his maneuverability. But the Angels knew no fear and pressed on, their dive bomb attack not halting for a second. They didn’t care that with the slightest of motions, Metatron would kill several Angels at once. They didn’t care that they too would do moments later from an equally simple swing. Their lives met nothing to them and in less than five minutes, the flock is no more.

“I expected more from you Angels.” I was disappointed, I had been slaying Angels for eons and grown to enjoy the challenge they’d often give me. But Inferna Versus was rarely even worth acknowledging. I had a suspicion in the back of my mind but I didn’t want to entertain it just yet. “Were those the monsters you spoke of?” I call out to the woman but get no response. She was still paralyzed with fear. “Mortals are so sensitive. I’ll never know how you lasted this long.” I thought to myself. I float back down to the roof and lift her up by the back of her head. She doesn’t even resist. “If you’re going to be useless then I might as well feed you to the Angels.”

Metatron walked to the edge of the building and held the woman over the ocean below. From their height, if he dropped her she’d die on impact. He wondered if she didn’t respond because she had given up on living or because it’d be a better fate than whatever the Angels had in-store for her. Before Metatron could decide on what to do with her, he hears movement from behind him. A pale creature that stood 10 feet tall with massive sawlike blades for forearms broke through the doorway leading to the roof. Its face was hollow and hid beady black eyes like coal within their cavernous sockets. Metatron turns his body so his left arm and scythe are facing the Angel. Mala Vidt was the Angel’s name, and they lived to hunt and kill any survivors stranded within The Rift.

“Finally, an Angel worth my time.” I pulled the woman inside my cloak covered hand. One of the cloaks many abilities was to act like a personal pocket dimension until we returned to Aaru. It could hold any number of things we felt we might need on duty, though it was more often used for trapping potential souls who’d try to escape us. I didn’t have time to wonder what’d happen if a living one were sent inside.

Metatron already knew Mala Vidt was incapable of emoting so he waited for it to make the first move. The Angel obliges and lunges at the Reaper, its arms revving so fast they didn’t appear to be moving at all. The sound they made was enough to cause heart failure by being in earshot. With a cheeky grin, Metatron leaps from the rooftop into the air to avoid Mala Vidt. Swinging his scythe and unleashing a mighty wave of dark energy, striking the building once but cutting it over a dozen times. Reducing it to a slowly sinking pile of rubble. Mala Vidt remained unfazed amidst the rubble and used the smoke cloud to cover its own attack. Leaping even faster than before towards Metatron. Rather than avoid it, Metatron took it straight on. Striking Mala Vidt’s saw arms with his scythe. The clash of metal creating sparks and a cacophony of hellish noises. He lets the Angel believe it overpowered him and allows it to push him back. Knowing it was unable to fly and would simply drop down into the sea far below.

“I’m not done with you yet Angel.” I pull my scythe back and pursuing my quarry.

Metatron fearlessly dives into the ocean after Mala Vidt but finds himself in a situation he didn’t quite expect. Mala Vidt was there as expected, but so was the Angel Complus Artus Conlis. A creature whom not even the Reapers knew it’s true form. Only the numerous massive tentacles it possesses that extend across the multiverse. Bursting from whatever Rift Gate it may find. Using it’s paralyzing whisper to stop and consume any it desired. Few escape it, fewer still remain unchanged by the event. One of the original Old Ones, Metatron wasn’t sure he was capable of killing it which only made him want to try more. Before he could make his move, Complus Artus Conlis let out a sound from its unseen maw. The soundwave numbed Metatron’s senses and paralyzed him. Abyssal Aether emanated from its body and stained the ocean black. All Mala Vidt could do was wait and watch as its prey was taken from its grasp.

“Cute trick. Now for one of mine.” I taunt the Angels.

Were he a normal Reaper, this would’ve been the end for Metatron. But even if he didn’t have the title of prince, he would be on an entirely different level. His cloak burns away and creates a flash of light that rivaled the sun. The Abyssal Aether dispersed in its presence and when he could be seen once more he had changed. The cloak that once protected his hands and the lower half of his body was now replaced with elegant silver armor. Its smooth design made the armor appear almost form fitting. Metatron raises his hand, summons a mighty javelin of light, pulls his arm back, and throws it at Complus Artus Conlis. The mighty Old One’s whisper became a wail of pain as it retreated back into the abyss from whence it came. Mala Vidt, on the other hand, was consumed in the light and faded in an instant. With his job complete, Metatron resummons his shroud and lands on a still standing rooftop. Freeing the woman in the process.

“Where am I?!” she screamed in terror. The trip to Metatron’s pocket dimension having worn down her already questionable psyche.

“Are you always so scared?” I asked tilting my head slightly. I wonder if all humans are like this. If so, they may be better off dead.

“Where’d the monsters go?” her eyes darted left and right in search of the Angels.

“Dead or fled. It seems I’m still not strong enough to kill an Old One though…Disappointing…” I sighed at the loss…though I doubted she even knew what I meant.

“Please…just kill me.” she whimpered.

“Oh? And why should I do that?”

“Please…I can’t keep living like this. Even you couldn’t stop them all. They’ll just come back again and again and again like they always did until we’re all dead.” she had no idea what an Old One was, but she seems to understand what it means that I couldn’t kill one.

“So you’re giving up? Abandoning the living for an easy out?” My eyes squint in disgust at her cowardice.

“We’re just living on borrowed time.” she looks up at me tearfully. The fate of her world and the continued encounters with Angels have clearly taken their toll on her. “Our supplies are low, everyone else is too injured to make supply runs, and even then there just aren’t enough supplies to be found. There’s no way we can keep this going…”

“And where are these other mortals?” I ask before placing my hand an inch from her head. My eyes aflame all the while.

“A few miles out to the east. Will it hurt?” her face softened knowing her long fight was finally at its end.

“No.”

Metatron wasted no time and erased the woman from existence. Her body fading from reality as if it never existed in the first place. Now all that was left was dealing with the other survivors. Metatron took to the skies and flew in search of these unfortunate souls and found them. Their shelter was a badly damaged yacht that was barely staying afloat. You couldn’t go a foot without some sign of battle. Bullet holes, blade marks, and even dried blood littered the vessel. Beggars can’t be choosers when the world ends. After several minutes, Metatron finds the other survivors. A small group of five men and women, each badly maimed by some previous attack and hanging on by a thread.

“How long have you been here?” I asked summoning my shroud to its fullest. All they’re able to see is a tall black hooded specter of death that’s come for their souls. But I get no response. They aren’t even conscious enough to acknowledge me before them. I make it quick and claim their souls before returning to my personal room in Aaru. It was a large room that reformatted as I felt necessary. It’s current form emulating that of the hedonist hellscape albeit with a throne for me in the back overlooking it all. Though I didn’t need any of the luxuries they desired, it was something I was fascinated with. More so than the masochist hellscape I emulated for a few centuries. Unfortunately, Grigori is here standing in front of my throne waiting to meet me. “Father.” I walk past my father, dropping hard on my throne. Banishing my shroud as I slouch in it lazily.

“Had fun on your excursion?” he asks already knowing the answer. As King, he knew where all Reapers were at all times. But saying it aloud helps remind us of this fact.

“Of course, even ran into an Old One. Couldn’t kill it but I’m fairly certain I pissed it off.”

“Anything else?”

“I’ve met mortals. They’re quite interesting when they aren’t dead already.”

“Is that so?” he crossed his arm to try and appear intimidating.

“Yes, it is.” I sigh shifting to leaning on my right arm.

“And what did you do with the mortals?” he asks forcing me to endure yet another trivial string of questions.

“I took care of them. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need sleep.” I stood and float down to my bed.

Grigori didn’t have the time or patience to deal with Metatron and left the prince to his rest. But Worlds away, in the sweet fields of Valhalla, the Valkyries were greeted with new arrivals. Poor souls that had been sent from the Submerged World. One claimed they had met a man with silver and golden hair clad in black and begged for death. But when she opened her eyes, she was in Valhalla. She asked if they knew who this was. The Valkyrie responded saying that only one non-Valkyrie who was capable of sending a soul to Valhalla, the sole existing half-breed between the two Disir clans. They never spoke his name but they did have a title for him…

Black Valkyrie Title Card 3

Next Issue

Black Valkyrie Chapter 2- First Encounter

 

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