“Gentlemen!” Mr. C yelled into the microphone. “This is going to be a bloody one, so put on your protective raincoats or tarps if you got ‘em! With us tonight, straight from I-Don’t-Know-Where-And-I-Don’t-Care, US of A,” he said, pausing when the crowd roared. “I give you…the Valkyrie!”
Bryn’s ears rang from the noise of the crowd, but her focus remained on her opponent.
Rota oh, so slowly raised her head, still looking forward.
Bryn smiled. Oh, yeah, she’d heard the name. She knew what it meant.
Rota dropped her hands and turned around to face Bryn, her face stripped of any emotion, her stance relaxed and ready for what Bryn might bring. But her dark eyes had a fire in them, “staring into a flame” as it was called, that spoke of battles fought and won, of choosing who lived and died, of carrying the slain to Odin to wait by his side in Valhalla for Ragnarok. It spoke of the blood that had soaked them for all the centuries of their kind’s existence.
Rota may have left the Valkyrie, but she hadn’t forgotten who and what she was.
Bryn took a step forward and Rota matched it, both women assessing.
Rota was taller than Bryn, and her body had the depth and thickness of muscle that only years of training could build. She hadn’t lost any of her strength—her fighting men and winning proved that—and it didn’t appear that she had lost any of her renowned courage. But what about her will to fight? Had she softened over the years? Had she reduced her training to just what she needed to win against humans?
Bryn finally looked hard at Rota’s face.
The dark brown skin stretched over the high cheekbones had crosshatched scars. Another scar cut through the middle of her right eyebrow, bisecting the arched peak. Her jaw was square and strong. Her lips were full and soft, a contrast to the hard planes of her face. The dark eyes with a hint of blue spoke of a knowing that only came with the passage of time and the pain that too often accompanied it.
The woman was beautiful, fierce…and tired, old in Valkyrie years.
Rota walked closer then circled Bryn. “Valkyrie? Really? A bit on the nose, isn’t it?”
Bryn watched her, her body tensed for attack. “Like these humans would ever get it.”
“That’s no reason to get sloppy. And you are sloppy, based on the ruckus you caused earlier.”
Bryn walked around Rota; two can play this game.
“Saw that, did you?”
“No, heard it. And you got Mr. C’s attention. Not smart.”
Bryn spread her arms. “And what do you call what you’re doing?”
The crowds jeered, their restlessness for a fight turning ugly fast.
“Well, I’m making you my business now.” Bryn stopped stalking and waved Rota to her. “Let’s get on with it.”
“If you win,” Rota said, “what do you want?”
Bryn had to press her lips firmly together to keep from smiling. The woman was already conceding. “I want you to come back to the Valkyrie with me.”
“When I win, you will leave and bother me again.”
Bryn snorted and crouched, her hands up. “Let’s do this.”
May your words flow freely,
The Zodiac Assassins series
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