Previously on Black Valkyrie…
When an individual dies anywhere in the multiverse, their souls are claimed by the Disir. The pure will be retrieved by the Valkyries and ferried to the paradise of Valhalla. The impure will be dragged to the hellish domain of Aaru by the Reapers. Metatron, Prince of the Reapers, is the only half-breed of Valkyrie & Reaper descent in history. When he’s not reaping souls, he hunts down Angels who escaped from the Rift…
While Aaru held the souls of the damned, Valhalla held paradise for the pure. Their halls holding every food and drink they could want. Music and companionship for all and any pain or misery a lifetime away. Courtesy of the Valkyries. Clad in elegant shining silver armor, they rode across Valhalla and battlefield on steads of white. They worked tirelessly to bring the worthy to their halls in the name of the Queen of Valkyries, Angela. She sat upon a throne of vines that itself stood in the center of a sacred lake. Her hair a glorious curly red that extended to her waist, her frame toned from years of battle, but rather than the traditional Valkyrion armor she wore elegant robes. The loose fit and white color keeping her frame visible yet modest. Her face was calm and emotionless yet inviting all at once.
On this day, Queen Angela was visited by the newest Valkyrie Evangeline. Her deep azure hair flowed freely over her shoulders and matched her deep blue eyes. The blue gauntlets, grieves, and breastplate she wore glistened atop her white robe. Giving the impression she was both a Valkyrie knight and a priestess. The ornate javelin and shield she wielded remained strapped to her back and she kneeled before Angela.
“My Queen.” she says formally. Her eyes focused on the lake beneath her.
“Please, rise Evangeline.” Queen Angela’s voice was smooth and heavenly. “What brings you here?” she asks a hesitant Evangeline. “You’ve nothing to fear my Valkyrie.”
“I’m sorry my Queen. But I’ve failed to retrieve the final souls from the Scorched World. There was another who came before me.” Evangeline raises her head and begins her tale.
The Scorched World was just the latest of Worlds that reached its end. It was once a normal World that grew to prosperity before volcanic activity grew to catastrophic levels. The seas replaced by endless lava and the skies filling with ash. Streets and cities covered beneath the magma that consumed the planet. Yet humanity did all they could to survive. Their hopes resting on fleeing the planet for a new one…a hope that wouldn’t be fulfilled. It’s here where Evangeline arrived at the last human safe haven was a series of building built on a large island to the north of the planet. Their attempt to build a spaceship large enough to save what was left of mankind was complete and all that remained was take off…
“Is this World truly at its end?” she thought to herself. For decades, the Valkyries have come to this World to gather the lost souls at a rapidly increasing rate. It was currently the first and only World she rescued souls from and seeing it at the end saddened her greatly. But she had a job to do, she floated towards the vessel and phased into. As she traversed its inner workings towards the souls that awaited her, she couldn’t help but sense something amiss…It wasn’t unusual to sense a Reaper but she sensed something…else with the Reaper. Not only that, the number of souls present was decreasing at an alarming rate.
In the deepest depths of the ship lay the cryogenics wing. A place where the final survivors of mankind rested until they could find a new home. There she discovered a figure all too familiar and one she’d never seen before. He looked like a Reaper with gold and silver hair. His skin fair and his cloak covering only his forearms and his body from the hips down. His torso fully exposed for any to see rather than the skeletal armor the Reapers were known for. The complete opposite of the more traditional Reaper clad in Bone armor beneath his full body shroud who stood alongside him.
“Hello Valkyrie, you’re here for the souls I take it?” Metatron asked Evangeline. His attention focused on the numerous men and women sealed inside strange glass containers. They awaited a better future that they’d never live to see.
“Stay your hand Reaper!” Evangeline draws her javelin and points it at the Reaper. Her stare fierce and piercing like a predator on the hunt. “These souls are pure. We have the rightful claim to them.”
“Watch your tone Valkyrie!” the Reaper summons his scythe and readies it for battle.
“It’s fine Azazel. I can handle an uppity Valkyrie.” Metatron notes, taking a step back with his right foot so he’s only halfway facing Evangeline.
“Uppity?! You dare mock me?” Evangeline snarls indignantly.
“And if I am?” Metatron asks in a whisper. Disappearing and reappearing inches from the left side of her face. He jumps back when she swings her arm towards him to create space.
“I shall gladly strike you down.”
“Are Valkyries always this feisty?” Metatron asks as he slowly begins to walk in a counter-clockwise circle around Evangeline. Her javelin never once wavering from facing him.
“Aye, we aren’t cowards like Reapers.” her words causing Metatron to stop and furl his brow.
“Oh dear…” Azazel sighs.
“Cowards? What makes you think Reapers are cowards?” Metatron inquires insulted by her words.
“The moment the Reapers believed the battle against Angels was pointless they gave up. They tucked their tails between their legs and fled. Forcing us to continue the battle alone!” Evangeline shouts. She may have been new to being a Valkyrie, but they were all well aware of the Valkyrie and Reapers sordid history.
The legend goes that long ago when the Zero Pillar started to crumble, Angels began to spread out across the Worlds. With them being an affront to the Disir’s very existence, the Valkyrie and Reapers made a pact. So long as both drew breath they would battle the Angels and destroy them once and for all. Both sides lost countless warriors and there was seemingly no end in sight. No matter how many Angels died, Worlds continued to fall. It was then that King Grigori decreed the Reapers would no longer make contact with the Angels. A fact the Valkyries took to heart and remains a large source of their disdain for the Reapers. But for the Reapers, the battle was a trivial one. They fought and died facing Angels to preserve the unclaimed souls of the universe. Souls that, for the Reapers, were damned. The lowest of the low who deserved no redemption. It was understandable for Valkyries to die in battle to allow the pure into endless paradise. But why would Reapers die so that the damned can endure eternal torment? Especially when encountering an Angel was a fate far worse than anything they could do themselves?
“Is that really what you believe? That’s cute.”
“I’ll not listen to whatever lies you or the Reaper have Creature!”
“Creature?” Metatron raises his right eyebrow. “You don’t know what I am?”
“Should it matter?” she inquires.
“Yeah, but since you don’t I get to show off.”
“Is this really necessary my prince?” Azazel asks unprepared for whatever plan Metatron had in mind.
“It is very necessary, how else do you expect the Valkyrie to learn?” Metatron glances at Azazel then back to Evangeline. His shroud fading from his forearms and the lower half of his body as they were replaced with a bright light. Upon fading, they revealed elegant and smooth silver armor that almost looked form fitting.
“That’s impossible! No man could use our armor!” Evangeline’s eyes widen at the sight of Metatron. All Valkyries were female by design while the Reapers male. For one to use the other was a functional impossibility.
Metatron admires the armor on his right forearm. “Yeah, I get that a lot.” he opens his right palm and summons his scythe, resting it on his shoulders. “You wanna know what I am? To be honest, we don’t have a name for it yet. But I do like the name you Valkyries have come up with. Call me Metatron, the Black Valkyrie.” he declares pointing his scythe at Evangeline. Her javelin now lowered. “So, Valkyrie, do you still want to fight? Because that’s the only way you’ll reclaim those lost souls from my dear attendant.”
“If you won’t return those souls then so be it!” Evangeline readies her javelin and shield once more, parrying Metatron’s scythe to the side with a swipe of her shield. She continues her pressure with a series of deadly thrusts of her javelin. Not that it mattered to Metatron, he just casually steps to the side to evade each strike. Used only the barest minimum of energy required in the process.
“Oh, I almost felt the wind off that one.” Metatron taunts easily tilting his head to the left and avoiding Evangeline’s thrust. To his dismay, she remains silent. “Humans usually banter at times like this. Rather disappointed you won’t indulge me.”
“I’ll not be swayed by your silver tongue!”
“Tragic, talking is one of my favorite things.” he sighs disappearing and reappearing on the railing of a third story walkway. His scythe resting on his shoulders with his hands resting lazily on it. “Do you know what World this is?”
“What? This is the Scorched World.” she answers his question somewhat confused.
Metatron slaps the handle of his scythe, spinning it around his neck, using the momentum to spin it behind his back, and throws it at Evangeline. “WRONG!” he shouts at her. Evangeline parries the scythe as Metatron hoped she would. He disappears and reappears at his scythe as it flies behind Evangeline, catching it and holding the blade up to her neck. “This isn’t the Scorched World.”
“You’re mad! If you truly are part Valkyrie you’d know this is the Scorched World. Or is the Reaper in you tainting your mind?” Evangeline scowls.
“Careful…” Metatron begins, pulling the blade of his scythe back so it touches Evangeline’s neck. “You do know how the Disir find out the names of these Worlds right?”
“We…” Evangeline stops unable to respond. She never thought to question that detail before now.
“Can’t answer, can you? Don’t worry…I’ll enlighten you.” Everything goes dark as Metatron switches out of his Valkyrian armor into his shroud. He proceeds to pull Evangeline into it before disappearing and reappearing on the top of the largest volcano on the planet. Its name forgotten to time, all that’s remembered is the world began to burn when it finally left dormancy. “The Disir find out the designation for these Worlds because of the King of Reapers and Queen of Valkyries. Our powers are linked and we know what they know. So there’s never really a reason to question anything…Until you start exerting your own individuality that is.” he says banishing his scythe.
“I don’t understand.”
“Of course you wouldn’t.” Metatron sighs and shakes his head. “Valkyries, like the Reapers, are created from nothing. Just a fraction of Grigori and Angela’s power given a physical form. You never have to know or ask questions until you become self-aware. When that happens you start to get your own looks, your own personality, and so on.”
“You jest, if not what proof have you? Why should I believe you and what does any of this have to do with the Scorched World?” she shoots back forcefully. Unwilling to challenge her worldview.
“Do you see that?” Metatron points to the center of the volcano. Sitting just below the surface of the lava was a crimson longsword with a jet black hilt. It was almost as tall as he was and would need two hands to be wielded normally. But the hilt gave off an ominous and otherworldly feel. “That’s why this World is like this.” he enters the lava to retrieve the blade and returns to Evangeline a short time later. “Did Angela tell you a Rift Relic was located here?”
“N-no she didn’t…” Evangeline replies lowly.
“Neither did Grigori. By removing it we can keep the volcano from erupting uncontrollably. The planets still fucked but at least the World won’t be.” Metatron stores the Rift Relic in his shroud and begins to float off. “Shame really, I wonder what the World was called before it interfered…”
“Wait!” Evangeline flies in front of Metatron and points her javelin at him. “You still took those innocent souls that earned their place in Valhalla! I demand their return!”
“No, I don’t think I’ll give them to you.” Metatron taunts before disappearing.
Back in the present, Evangeline finishes telling her tale to Queen Angela who seems unfazed by anything she just heard. “I see.” Queen Angela says flatly.
“I see? Are you not outraged?” Evangeline asks confused.
“Valkyries really are feisty.” Metatron muses as he appears at the opposite end of the lake.
“You?!” Evangeline turns and summons her javelin once more.
“Stand down Evangeline.” Queen Angela says calmly. “What brings you here Black Valkyrie?”
“Oh, just this.” Metatron raises his shroud and releases a small group of people. The souls that had been reaped from the Scorched World before Evangeline’s arrival. “It took longer than I planned but they’ve been purified. No Abyssal Aether is going to ruin your precious Valhalla.”
“Thank you, we are in your debt.” Queen Angela smiles and gives a slight bow.
“Meh, I did it on a whim.” he shrugs nonchalantly.
“I thought you said you weren’t giving us the souls.” Evangeline lowers her javelin.
“I never said that. I said I wasn’t giving them to you, never said anything about her. Anyway, I have places to be and souls to reap. See you around Valkyrie.” he turns and disappears.
“He’s an unusual creature but he means well Evangeline.”
“Does that mean what he said is true?”
“Yes…” Queen Angela sighs. “There is much about the Worlds I don’t share and much I can’t. I want my Valkyries to come to these conclusions and questions themselves. Just like his mother did all those years ago.”
“That, my child, is a story for another day.”
“But what about the Rift Relic? If we had known about it we could’ve saved this World.”
“I’m sorry, but it’s not that simple Evangeline. Rift Relics may be tainted with Abyssal Aether but they aren’t living. Their small and often can slip into Worlds without anyone being the wiser. I may be Queen of the Valkyries but I’m not omnipotent. Even the Deities who made us have their limits, albeit small ones.”
Evangeline couldn’t come up with a response to her Queens words. Deep down inside she didn’t want to admit the Scorched World was damned and could’ve been saved. But The Rift takes without remorse. Even something as small and insignificant as a Rift Relic could cause the ruination of a World. But this begged the question, how did Metatron of all people discover the Rift Relic was there in the first place?