Tapping my foot on the bar stool I checked the time on my phone for the thousandth time and groaned as I placed it face down on the bar top.
Five more minutes.
The last twenty-four hour had moved slower than the last hundred years. Taking a sip of the drink in front of me, the bitter sweet Gin filled my mouth and I sat the empty glass down on the table.
“Another one?” Davlin pulled a bottle out from behind the bar and started to fill my glass.
“You’re a life saver,” I said tapping my fingers on the slightly sticky wood surface of the bar.
“Huh, I wouldn’t have thought...” Davlin looked me up and down as he topped off my glass with tonic water.
“What?” I took the glass and tried not to squirm under his scrutiny.
“Nothing,” he raised his hands in surrender.
“Out with it.” I took a sip of my drink.
He looked me over and his eyes landed on my tapping fingers. “You’re nervous.” He folded his arms over his chest.
“I’m not.” I shot him a glare over the rim of my glass.
He leaned across the bar and leveled his eyes on me. “Oh, we’re playing dumb now are we?” He placed his hand over mine and lowered the glass from my lips. “When are you going to learn, you can’t bullshit me?”
From the moment I met, Davlin he’d seen right through my walls and never let me hide behind them.
I cocked my head to the side. “For the life of me, I don’t know why I keep coming back here,” I teased.
“That’s easy,” he leaned back and folded his arms over his chest. “You’re in love with me.”
“Ha-Ha.” I rolled my eyes. “In your dreams.”
“Every night darlin’.” He winked and I couldn’t help but smile as I shook my head.
“Does that line ever work for you?” I took another sip of my drink. The sharp edges of my nerves falling away.
“A gentleman never tells.”
“And here I thought we weren’t bullshitting each other.”
“You first.” He cocked his head to the side.
I picked up my phone again and the screen read 11:58.
I met his eyes and the tiny sliver of peace inside me vanished.
“Kara.” Davlin reached for my hand and I let him take it.
“What if I don’t remember how-”
“Don’t be ridiculous.” He squeezed my fingers. “It’s who you are.”
“It’s who I was.” I pointed out. “A long time ago.”
“Some things never change, no matter how much time passes.”
“People yes, and maybe you’ve changed a bit too, but that doesn’t change what you are.” He kept his voice low even though the bar was filled with laughter, shouts and music that made it unlikely anyone would overhear us.
“Do you still want your old life back or are you content with this?” He motioned around the bar, but he clearly meant, this realm, this ordinary life.
The ice in my glass began to rattle and I looked up at the lights hanging from the wood beam running the length of the bar. They trembled in their fittings ever so slightly as an unmistakable rumble moved through the bar.
“Is this it?” Davlin’s brow furrowed as his eyes darted around the room and the patrons started to scramble toward the door.
Thunder boomed overhead and a flash of lightening exploded, reflecting off of every piece of glass in the bar.
“Your guess is as good as mine.” I met his eyes and jumped to my feet.
I followed the rest of the confused and mumbling people out of the bar. My chest feeling lighter with each step. For the first time in a century, the gentle brush of Magik moved across my back and a thrill ran through me as my heart started to race.
This was it.
I’ve waited a century to shed Odin’s curse, a century to be with my people, a century to fly the nine realms once more.
Cool air washed across my face as I stepped out into the street. Another bolt of lightening criss-crossing the cloudless sky, lighting up the faces of everyone around me.
Whispers whisked passed my ear and I turned to see what or who it could’ve been. Another streak of lightning and a shiver moved down my spine.
A warm hand landed on my shoulder, bringing me back to the present and I looked up at Davlin.
“So this is goodbye then?” He smiled but it didn’t reach his eyes. “Promise you’ll visit?”
I opened my mouth to answer as the ground began to rumble under my feet forcing me backwards. Lightening struck a few feet in front of us splintering the concrete and sending chunks of debris flying through the air.
People scattered, running for cover as another bolt of lightening struck the middle of the crowd. A pit opened up in my stomach and my blood ran cold as I watched the place I called home be torn a part.
Dread crept into my heart and I heard the whispers again.
“Something’s wrong.” I turned to Davlin. “The curse shouldn’t-”
A huge pillar thrust from the ground in front of us and we both jumped back, edging closer to the bar as the street turned in on itself.
“Do you understand any of this?” Davlin shouted over the roar of lightening and asphalt being torn a part.
Freya’s Magik began to unfurl across my back as the whispers surrounded me. “Can you hear them?”
“Hear who?” Davlin’s voice faded to the background as the whispers called to me.
I moved through the rumble as time seemed to warp around me. Buildings forced their way into existence at a glacial pace. The people running for their lives seemed to freeze all together. Stone, stucco and wood was suspended in the air all around like dust moats defying gravity.
“Kara,” Davlin yelled but the call was too strong for me to break.
they must pay
they must pay for what
what they’ve done.
The vitriol in their words pierced my heart and I fell to my knees in the dust and rubble. The whispers released their hold on me and the world sped up once more as rubble pelted me from every direction.
Throwing my hands over my head, the Magik of my wings took hold inside me and exploded with the force of a thousand lashings. The air was ripped from my lungs as I heard their whisper once more. Pay for what they’ve done.
“Kara, what is it?” Davlin’s eyes searched mine as I fought for control of the Magik inside me.
“Get me inside,” I managed to croak.
Without questions he lifted me off my feet. Dodging falling debris, he crossed the street and pushed his way into the now empty bar. Setting me on my feet, I slumped forward and caught myself on a bar stool as he locked the door behind us.
“I thought you were supposed to be free of Odin’s curse?”
“I...think...I am.” Magik rolled through me and I doubled over.
“Then what in the name of the Gods is all that about?” He pointed out the window to the ruined street and buildings that were clearly not of this realm.
My vision blurred and my knees gave out as Magik exploded in my marrow and wildfire burned down my back.
“Did the lightening get you?” Davlin rushed forward and turned me around. “Your back.” Concern laced his voice and I knew he was seeing the intricate tattoo that spanned from shoulder to shoulder and down the middle of my back .
“My wings,” I said through gritted teeth. Magik rippled through me once more, taking my breath away as my wings burst from my back in one swift motion.
On shaky legs, I turned to face Davlin. The pain slowly subsiding as I coaxed the Magik inside me into submission.
Davlin stared at me, his mouth hanging open as he took in the full sight of the new-well old me.
“They’re unlike anything.” He stepped forward, reaching a hand out tentatively. “Kara, they’re beautiful.”
His fingers brushed the tips of my feathers as he circled around me. “It was one thing to know that you’re a Valkyrie, but to see this.” He stepped in front of me a big smile on his face. “This is truly who you’re meant to be.”
Lightened cracked again and the ground trembled under our feet.
“Davlin, listen to me.” I grabbed him by the shoulders. “Something is coming.”
One of the windows at the far end of the bar shattered, throwing bits of glass in every direction as a piece of debris shot through it.
“Clearly,” he rolled his eyes. “It sounds like the world is ending.”
“Can you not, just this once?” I leveled my eyes on him.
“Sorry.” His lips pulled into a thin line as something crashed outside, sending sparks through the open window. “Something’s happening to the realms.”
“I know you’ve got your mojo back, but there’s no way you could know that.”
“The buildings sprouting out of the ground like mushrooms aren’t just any buildings, I recognize them.” My heart doubled and my hands started to shake.
“I think-aghh.” I doubled over as I felt something pull on the Magik inside me.
“What is it? What wrong?” Davlin’s brow furrowed as he reached out to me, but didn’t know where to place his hands.
“It’s Asguard,” I forced the words from my throat. “The buildings are from Asguard.”
Everything around me went black and I felt like I was being sucked through space and time.
“Kara!” Davlin’s voice barely reached me as I was pulled into the place between realms.
My wings blew around me wildly making it impossible to get my barrings in the darkness as I tumbled end over end. I felt like a helpless feather being blown around in a storm with no true north to guide me, and no idea of where I was headed.
Welcome back to the nine realms, Kara.