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Faya’s Memories — Valkyrie: Ragnarok

This is the third piece of fiction in the Valkyrie: Ragnarok and Valkyrie: Saga settings, and sits at the start of Valkyrie: Ragnarok, following on from Coercion. I hope you enjoy it. For the full story, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.

Because of adult content, the following is not recommended for readers under the age of 12.

When she awoke, Faya was lying on the rotting floorboards. Her senses were muddled, and she gasped with pain when she tried to move. Bors had somehow broken a rib, she was sure. There was blood across the floor, leading to the door, but he was gone.

Faya pulled herself slowly up and dressed. Each movement triggered a sharp pain in her side. It was hard to breathe. She carefully brushed out her hair with a hand while holding her side, careful to cover her ears with her bangs. She then rifled through the sheets and searched the dark corners of the room. Besides the sleeping pallet and a small smokey lamp in an alcove the room was empty, and there was no sign of her weapon. She cursed, then slipped out of the room, and into the darkness of the undercity.

It didn’t take long to find Anders lying in a dark alcove, covered in alcohol and his own blood. If the alcohol was meant to mislead anyone, it wasn’t necessary; the stab wounds spoke volumes. Here, so close to the Depths, nobody would care about a bloody corpse anyway.

Bors had figured out enough of Faya’s history to scare her. It was her mother, not her father, that was elven, but he’d been right on many other accounts. Her mother was a queen of the Lotus Courts, and that had given Faya an unlikely refuge in a world that hated her for her mixed heritage. She had never known her father. It was possible that he’d escaped during the Night of Betrayal, but she would likely never know. She knew how terrible life in Savonin was for humans—she’d known the whips and the thousand tortures herself—but she could only guess at his fate. So many slaves had fled into the deserts of Angor that night. Many had died in the weeks after, killed by the mokith, the heat, or hunted down by Savonin slavers. Still, it was possible that he’d died before that mass escape, even before her birth. Her mother had never spoken of him. She would whip Faya for daring to ask, so her life had been one of noiseless service within the gloom of the Lotus Courts. She had been a shadow, veiled and jeweled and ever silent.

After the Night of Betrayal, the hunters of the Savonin raided far into Angor. By the third cycle of the moon, they’d recaptured many of the last surviving slaves, slaves who had been too weak to run any longer. These were kept in camps for collection by the caravans that went back and forth from the forests of Savo. The mokith had proven to be a deadly obstacle, and so the caravans moved only under heavy guard. A lifetime under the green, lightless canopy meant that the Savonin could not stand the brightness of the sun, so they only ventured out across the sands when it was dark. It was slow going, and so supplies were always short, and morale low. Soon the Lotus Courts were sending the queens they could spare with the caravans, to heal and work their seductive magic over the Savonin’s elite hunters. Inevitably, Fethfaura, Great Queen of the Enticing Needle, Faya’s mother, was called to cross the scorching sands to work her needle magic. Faya went too, hidden within her mother’s palanquin as a favored slave.


Faya in the Desert of Angor. Photo by Yuliya Kosolapova

The red desert shimmered in the scorching midday heat, a vast, uncrossable barrier. The caravan was camped out in the shade of a mighty crag of black-singed orange stone, spread out between the great blasted boulders between the cliff and the shadow’s shifting edge. The guides called the landmark “little castle.” Some of the soldiers had dared each other to scale the tower of rock, but most rested uneasily, tired from the nights of marching and their running battles with the mokith. It would be another long, harrowing trek through the dark desert as soon as the sun-kissed the horizon.

Fethfaura slept easily on her palanquin. She’d perfected the art of sleeping serenely, yet with a sultry smile on her face and her hair draped perfectly across her shoulders, accentuating her breasts. These were adorned with necklaces of silver shards and blood-red rubies. She wore a silk summer sadi, in the style of the Angorian badawi, colored in the black and red of her sect. Around her waist was the wide black belt of a queen of the Lotus Court, with her sect’s distinctive silver ring pierced with eight sharp needles. Each was as long as a finger and their wicked points caressed her skin but drew no blood.

Faya had often wondered about those needles, but she would never dare ask her mother about them. There were many rules in the Lotus Courts, but Fethfaura had given her daughter only two; go unsee, remain unheard. Faya had quickly learned the consequences of disobeying those two rules.

One of her earliest memories was of her mother’s terrible scoldings…

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