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Alarr gazed down the precipice. He, an assassin's assassin, hunted among the sharp shadows cast by a three-quarter moon. Wind whipped at the long, woolen cloak and hood that concealed his blond hair as he surveyed the valley. He stood, a shadow within a shadow, the midnight world around him alive-’crickets, rich loam, even the living rock of the cliff beneath his feet. A fine salt, along with faint whale songs, floated on the breeze from the North Atlantic more than a league away. Life forces sliced through him, resonating with every nerve.
A lone rider, dressed in leather britches and jerkin, appeared around a bend in the canyon below. Freyja: his quarry. She rode relaxed in the saddle, hands loose on the reins, allowing her stallion to choose his way across the rocky terrain that bordered the river.
Alarr snorted softly. How quaint. Only Valkyrie assassins such as she preferred equine transport above the superior swiftness of her own limbs. As they had their entire history, these females preserved their energy so they didn't have to feed on human blood.
He focused on her face, on the long golden hair that blew about high cheekbones and a strong mouth. He could almost feel her smooth skin, her firm breasts. His tongue throbbed in anticipation. Despite the century that had passed since the Gothi high priest had forced her to become a Valkyrie assassin through the bite of her gythia, high priestess, her blood would still have the tang of youth.
His kind, the legendary Aptrgangr, walkers of death, had borne the blame of mortal sin across the centuries. Alarr bared his fangs. Mortal and immortal alike were fools. Mortals for holding the Aptrgangr accountable for man's wrongdoings, and the Aptrgangr for accepting the role.
Freyja's master, the Gothi, had grown weak, excessively romantic to have been so mesmerized by her beauty that he allowed her power and skill to grow beyond that of any high priestess before her. Fear finally prevailed, and he ordered her destruction. But when her would-be murderer came, Freyja did what no Valkyrie assassin had done before and killed him, an Aptrgangr of the clan cast from the heavens. Now, he, Alarr, Aptrgangr, sÃ³maherji-’honorable warrior-’stood ready to send her to the gods she served. But how could he vanquish such beauty?
How he wished he had seen her in battle, testing the strength of her sword against those of mortal Norse warriors. He longed to watch her deliver the kiss of death. Desire pulsed through his veins. Their union would be slow, sweet and controlled.