Jek leant back in her chair, her forehead pulled into a frown of thought. Her tongue jutted out of the corner of her mouth.
If Ruben hadn't been so intimidated by the teenager, he would have thought it was cute.
"Well its definitely Wiccan." She said finally. "I'd say it's this the witch's work, but she's no normal witch. With the way you reacted to it Ruben, it'd have to be fairly involved craft. She's more than what Maui is making her out to be. And this Ayden… I'd say he was more than Maui says as well."
"So what do we do?"
"Trigger the spell. Hope you don't die." Jek shrugged. "Kill the witch. Kill the man."
En cocked an eyebrow. "No really."
"Okay, craft like this is pretty specific, the more specific it is, the stronger you are able to work it. So I'd guess that if you remove the knife from the man, you should be fine, and with that, you can find the witch."
En nodded. "You going to come?" she asked.
Jek beamed. "Love to."
Of the handful of young women in the world who realised their talents, Jek was one of the True. Unlike her 'sister' Nausicaa, she was bound into service, riding for the noble lords, who died in war. Her life was bound in their blood, just as she had found her beginning in the blood of her first kill, so would she find her end in warrior's blood.
The violent nature of her position had caused a dangerous aura to fall about her, and all those in the World, knew her by sight.
"I can smell it!" Jek said, crouching down beside the water's edge.
"Are you sure he's going to come back?" She asked Nausicaa. They had returned to the naiad pool, in the hopes that Ayden and his knife would make another appearance.
En looked over at Ruben. The large cat was pacing up and down between two trees, he was clearly distressed.
"He'll come back here… I know it."
Jek reached down a hand to touch the water. She couldn't penetrate the surface.
"Naiads." En snorted.
Jek knocked. "Can't shut ME out ladies." She told them. "Better I think to just co operate."
A hand reached out of the water.
"Why should we help you Death Rider?" the pale creature asked, in her bubbling voice.
Jek gave her a level gaze and reached down into the water. She found a wisp of hair and gave it a tug. A slim blonde naiad was torn from the water. Jek threw her onto the dirt.
"Let me in." she ordered cooly. She reached into the water again, the threat of more of their number being torn from the water was enough, and they admitted her to the water.
En shared a look with the Panther.
"She's a bloody schizophrenic." Ruben said, before returning to his pacing.
"Get back in the water." Jek ordered the blonde naiad, and the pale creature rushed back to the water, her legs wobbling comically as she struggled to walk on dry land.
"Was that really necessary?" En asked her.
"Yes." Jek replied. "Honestly, whoever did my job before I got it really let everything go. I mean, the Valkyrie get no respect. Surely you've seen that."
"I don't expect respect." En said.
"You don't give respect" Jek countered.
"Touché" Ruben chucked.
Both girls stopped suddenly and looked up. Something was coming, and Nausicaa could see the magic. As Ayden drew nearer to the clearing, the pattern in the spell grew more and more obvious.
En looked to Jek. Jek nodded and turned to Ruben, but she was too late.
Ruben growled, and rushed into the trees.
"This isn't good." She noted.
"He's going to kill him." Jek knew, she could fell the intent.
"I'm going to lose my pay." En complained. Neither girl made a move to stop him.
"Perhaps we should save the man?" Jek looked to her older sister. En nodded.
"A good idea."
Jek gave a shrill whistle and a jet horse cantered into the clearing. With practiced ease she pulled herself upon it, and then pulled En up after her.
"Get up, Kolfinnur." She shouted, and the great beast leapt into motion. Jek rode bareback and En had to cling to the wild girl just to stay upright.
The forest flew passed them, and En caught a brief glimpse of what work must be like for her younger Sister. Constantly travelling to and fro between battles, when the chosen men and women died. Jek struggled often to arrange the lifestyle that she had inherited with that she chose to maintain as a human. Her university grades were slipping with all the other things going on in the World.
Twigs and branches became stinging weapons as Kolfinnur the black horse tore through them, and they scratched and pulled at his two riders. Far sooner than she had imagined, and still not soon enough, they reached the man. En leapt from the beast as fast as she could.
Ayden and Ruben faced each other.
The man stood in a low crouch, his shoulder bleeding from a rough, but superficial claw scrape. He was sweating more than appeared warranted, and his eyes were glazed over in a strange and magical way. The spell had taken hold of him.
"Oo, you didn't say he was so pretty!" Jek raised a brow, giving the moral a careful looking over.
Neither and panther nor the man seemed to have noticed the women appear. Kolfinnur danced anxiously on the spot.
"Here" Jek said, tossing En a sawn off shotgun.
"Is this a traditional weapon of the Valkyrie?" she asked dryly.
Jek grinned. "I'm hardly traditional."
The weapon bit at the ground at Ruben's feet and the beast edged away, growling dangerously. Ayden's eyes never left the great cat, and he gripped the silver knife tight in his right hand. It was shining on one edge with crimson blood, Ruben's.
Jek slid easily off her horse, and picked up a stone.
"fifty points?" she asked Kolfinnur. The black stallion nodded.
Jek lifted her knee, and held the smooth stone as a baseball. With easy skill, she released it, and the stone flew true, hitting Ayden on the temple. The man's head snapped back, and he fell to the ground, unconscious.
"Jessica!!" En groaned and rushed to his side.
Jek joined her, kneeling beside the fair haired young man. Something about him was vaguely familiar, and Jek couldn't quite figure out what it was. She pocketed the decorative spelled knife, after wrapping it in a handkerchief.
"Tend to him" Jek instructed, "and to Ruben." Her tone was business like and En knew that she was in Valkyrie mode.
"I'll be seeing you shortly I expect" she said, and leapt onto Kolfinnur's back. She leant to whisper something to the great steed and he nodded.
Within seconds the pair was gone.
En frowned, and returned her attention to Ayden. Ruben padded silently to her side and lay down, his head falling onto her thigh.
Absently, she stroked his fur.
"Something is very not right." She told the cat.