We were in the middle of an unknown territory, among enemy forces. From what Melchizedek had told me, the Light ones weren’t as good and sweet as they pretended to be, and I knew that they could cause trouble for us, even if I wasn’t concerned about them hurting us. I knew that this was not only and important mission, but a chance to see Melchizedek for the first time in years, and even if I couldn’t pretend that this was only a meeting between old friends, I decided to bring Kimball and Ethan with me.
“You should wait here, but if you think there might be trouble or if you think everything is under control and there’s no problem with getting closer, then you can come here, but for now, just try to be discreet,” I asked them.
“I don’t think you can be discreet in this place, there’s no way you won’t be noticed using that uniform.”
I ignored Kimball, mostly because I knew he was right, and kept walking to a point from where I could watch the couple moving through the temple’s gardens.
“There must be another choice,” Mistral was saying, “you can’t leave.”
“You don’t see what I see, every time they speak, I can see the fakeness twirling around their words. I’m no longer sure this is a good place, and I’m afraid if I stay you could be also in danger.”
“But you can’t leave, where would you even go? How would you survive?”
Both of them had been distracted while they walked, so none of them had realized they were not alone any longer, nor that they were being followed, but eventually they got too close to me not to notice me. Charles’ son moved in front of Mistral, trying to protect her. “Who are you?” he asked, as he started to move back, trying to put more distance between us.
“I don’t recommend moving back, there’s more danger behind you than in front,” after hearing my words, and recognizing the truth in them, they both looked over their shoulders and finally noticed the man that had been following them
“What is going on here?” Mistral asked, to no one in particular, I could see her fear and confusion, but her partner was doing his best to keep her protected from all the threats around them.
“The High Priests asked me to follow you, they are worried about your faithfulness and obedience, and the fact that you are consorting with a Dark one is a sign that they were right to doubt you.”
“Dark one?” Mistral asked, a note of hysterics coming to her voice as she looked at me with distrust and confusion, maybe even a hint of recognition.
“Now it won’t matter who your father, or your protector is, this is enough to send you to the Shadows, maybe even to offer you to the Goddess as a sacrifice.”
“And you call my people barbarians,” I said, “at least we don’t make elaborated lies to justify our actions. We all know you are only looking for an excuse to do what you already were going to do.”
“Camil?” Mistral was looking at her companion asking for an explanation.
“Everything she says is true, but when he talks his words are full of half truths or outright lies.”
“And how do you know that?” the Light one asked, “Are you being helped by demons?”
I couldn’t help but laugh at his words, the situation was ridiculous, the guy knew the truth about powers and their nature, and still he was buying into his own lies. “Your hypocrisy is outstanding,” I finally told him.
“My powers come from the Goddess,” he said.
“And why are you so sure his don’t come from the same place? You know what? I don’t care about your answer, I just want to fix this. I will give you the chance to leave this place, so you can see I’m not so bad, but if you stay here, I won’t guarantee your safety.”
“Sinners and infidels, I won’t let you get away with this,” from somewhere between his clothes he managed to get a knife out and moved to Camil and Mistral, but using my powers I threw him in the opposite direction, making him hit a column with enough force to knock him out.
“You killed him!” Camil said.
“No, I didn’t, he is still alive, and I think you should remember that if he had gotten away with it, he would have killed you.”
“Who are you? What do you want?” Mistral asked.
“I thank you for your help,” Camil said, more diplomatically, “but I think it’s time for you to leave here, you are not welcome.”
“I’m afraid I can’t go, not unless you come with me. You are the main reason I came here today.”
“I won’t let you take him,” Mistral said, turning brave as soon as someone she cared about was threatened.
A feeling of peace and calmness fell like a blanket over us, and I immediately knew that Melchizedek had decided to join us. After taking a moment to search the surrounding area I realized that he was getting closer, but he wasn’t coming from the same place as Camil and Malkia, he was coming from the other side, from behind me. I turned around just in time to see him getting out of the tree line, and noticed he wasn’t alone, Ethan was with him, smiling, but also looking a little confused. Without thinking about it, I started moving towards them, only to have Mistral appearing between us, holding the knife the other guy had used against her, blanding it inexpertly.
“Not another step,” she warned me, but I ignored her, using my powers to take the knife from her and throw it away, then to hold her still while I moved passed her and into Melchizedek’s open arms.
“It’s been so long since I saw you!” I greeted him while I lost myself in his embrace, feeling the safeness and peacefulness that I had missed so much.
“It’s good to see you again, darling,” Melchizedek told me.
I let go of my hold over Mistral, allowing her to turn and see what was going on. I couldn’t see her, but still I could tell she was confused and even a little bit mad, even with Melchizedek’s influence.
“Sir?” Camil asked, moving closer to where we were.
“Are you ok?” Melchizedek asked him.
“Confused, do you know this… Dark one? She is a Dark one, isn’t she?”
“Yes dad, what’s going on?”
“I think that deep down, you know what’s going on, my dear.”
“She is getting her powers back, that means her memories must be coming back too,” I agreed with Melchizedek, she had to know more, even if she was refusing to believe it. “I see you already met my son Ethan,” I said, changing the topic and trying to figure out why they had arrived together.
“I found him on my way here, and he agreed to come with me.”
“You knew who he was,” I was sure, Melchizedek’s powers were far superior from mine, and I was sure he knew all there was to be known about Ethan already.
“He even called me by name,” Ethan confirmed, “but I’m sure I would have known who he was, just by looking at him after all you told me about him. What I don’t get is why you call him the most powerful empath there is, he has strength, but he lacks control.
“Maybe he doesn’t have the same kind of control as you in how he affects those around him, but he has a lot of control over his own feelings. Just imagine the kind of damage someone like him could do by being angry or scared and projecting those feelings, imagine the chaos. You know I’m always going after you to control your emotions because of the kind of damage you could do by projecting all those feelings without control.”
“You may be right,” he accepted.
“Could someone explain to me what’s going on?” Mistral asked, some traces of frustration going over her father’s influence.
“I would also like to know who she is and what’s she doing here.”
“This is Kaiserin, former Empress of the Dark Empire,” Melchizedek introduced me, “and she is here to take you with her.”
“What? No!” Mistral said, moving in front of Camil as if she could protect him.
“You know who he is,” Melchizedek nodded, but I didn’t need the confirmation, I expected him to already know everything about the young man he had taken under his protection.
“I know, and I have done my best to prepare him for his future. And you arrived just in time, for the High Priests are already suspicious of his powers, and they don’t trust their ability to turn him to their side, they know he is a good person, and one that is not fooled by their lies.”
“He has become a risk, they no longer want to have him around in case he could turn against them or betray their secrets,” I said, getting a better understanding of the situation.
“There’s nothing they fear more than truth, since all their teachings are based on lies and secrets.”
“Daddy, I don’t get what’s going on. Please, explain to me what this is, how do you know her?”
“Could we have this conversation in another place?” Kimball’s voice reached us. “A group of people is heading this way. It would be better to move this conversation to a place where there isn’t a risk of people walking into a Dark one.”
“Of course, that’s a good idea, let’s more to a more secluded place where we can talk without problems,” Melchizedek agreed. “I promise to explain everything, even if I think you already know the answers, you just have to accept them.”
We walked in silence for a while, with Kimball in the front, guiding us to the place we had already prepared just for this reason, and where Sofia would be waiting for us. Despite the lack of words, there was plenty of communication going on around us, Camil and Mistral giving each other looks and gestures meant to reassure each other, while Melchizedek’s smile was all I needed to know how glad he was about our meeting. Kimball also was looking at me, letting me know that everything was alright, while Ethan just looked around, absorbing as much information as he could. We finally arrived to our destination, an improvised camp with a group of warriors watching us just from out of sight, while Sofia waited in the center. When we moved closer, I noticed that Sofia was in trance, and I actually felt the vision that had her trapped calling to me.
“I think this is the first time that the three most powerful Seers in the world had been in the same place,” Melchizedek pointed out, “usually this kind of power is placed in different parts of the world.”
“With Sofia and me in the same place, the balance must have been seriously affected a long time ago,” I pointed out.
“Not that much, the Dark Empire has a lot of seers, that helps to keep the equilibrium.”
“Is that how you know each other? You meet in the Fog of the Future?” Camil asked.
“Not really, in fact, it was Melch who taught me how to walk the fog, he was my teacher.”
“Can we start from the beginning? I really need to understand what’s going on here,” Mistral asked.
“Of course, that’s only fair. But I’m pretty sure that you at least have an idea of who I am, deep down. I saw how you appeared in front of me, that means you are using your powers again, that wouldn’t be possible if you didn’t have at least part of your memories back.”
“How do you know so much? Who are you? Tell me, no more evasion, or mores questions.”
“You know that, I’m your godmother.”
Mistral stayed quiet and silent, she didn’t deny my words like I expected her to do. I could see her going over my words and her memories, trying to find something to confirm or deny my words.
“Sometimes I remember a woman’s voice, but when I try to see her face something else distracts me and I can’t focus on her anymore. There are some memories, some things and feelings that I can’t get a hold on, like the feeling of getting lost in time, the feeling of moving from one place to another in the blink of an eye. Sometimes I even see myself in another place with different people.”
“Those are suppressed memories, from a past you no longer remember,” I tried to explain.
“Why can’t I remember?”
“Because a long time ago you asked me to block your powers, and the only way I knew how to do it, was by hiding some of your memories.”
“Are you going to do that again?”
“The first time I did it because you asked me to, and I may do it again if it’s something you really want, but the first time it was because you were too young and impulsive and we were afraid you wouldn’t be able to hide your powers from other people. But now you are all grown up, you are capable of hiding your powers, and of knowing when it’s ok to use them. What happened before was your reaction to what you perceived as a threat, but once you have the right tools, you will be able to control that kind of thing from happening if you don’t want it to.”
“I want my memories back,” Mistral asked, “I want to understand what’s going on and see for myself what’s going on, right now I feel like everyone knows something I don’t, I feel I don’t see the whole picture and I hate that.”
“If you are sure about it, then I can help.”
“Wait a minute,” Camil asked, “are you sure you can trust her? She is a Dark one.”
“You can answer that question better than I can. What do you see? Is she lying or telling the truth?”
“She seems to be telling the truth, but I don’t know if it’s a good idea to trust her, besides, she wants to take me with her, and she hadn’t explained why.”
“What do you know about your origins? Your past?” I asked him.
“There are a lot of rumors and guesses about my past, and something tells me you know more about it than me.”
“There is so much to talk about that I don’t know where to start,” I said.
“What about the beginning?”
“I will, but could you give me a few minutes first? I would like to work a little on Mistral, try and free some of her memories about the Shadowlands, that way she will understand better what we have to say.”
No one objected to my suggestion, so while Camil and Melchizedek had a private conversation, and Kimball and Ethan moved away, either to give us privacy or make sure we were safe, Mistral and I took some of the free chairs near Sofia.
“What do I have to do?” Mistral asked, looking a little nervous.
“Nothing special, you just need to relax and try not to fight this. The only reason this worked so well the first time was because you trusted me, and didn’t put any resistance to my influence, and I need that right now.”
“You must be telling the truth, because I feel like I can trust you, sure, my first reaction wasn’t a good one, and all my teachings tell me to run the opposite direction from you, but deep down I feel like I could trust you. If not in you, at least in my father, he had always guided me in the right direction, and I trust him.”
Feeling a lot better after her words, I went into her mind. What I had done with her was different from what my father had done to me, he had hidden my memories behind closed doors and inside protected chests, I had gone for a less painful option. Mistral’s landscape was also different, she wasn’t a telepath, and because of that her mental landscape was very basic, without visual representations, still, a lot of time had gone by since the last time I had been in there, and what I found was very different, I was hard to find my way to where I had hidden her memories. Instead of locking them up like my father had done, I had put them behind other memories, masking them and distracting her from looking into them with the brighter, happier memories before them. The attractiveness of those memories had lost its power with time, and I could see some of the memories shining from behind them, trying to get out. Recovering those memories was extremely easy, all I had to do was move them from behind and leaving them in a place where they could be easily accessed. She had already been trying to reach them, and some had escaped in their own, making the whole process extremely easy. The fact that I didn’t find any resistance was a sign that she did trust me.
Hiding her memories and locking her powers had been a long process, but freeing them had taken just a few minutes. I finished my task and got out of her mind. She opened her eyes and stared at me for a moment, I could see her wince in pain and realized that despite my best efforts, I haven’t been able to shield her from all the pain, having that much memories dumped on her, had still affected her. I knew there wasn’t much I could do, so I just waited, and just a moment after her face lighted up in recognition and she threw herself into my arms.
“Nina! I can’t believe I forgot who you were. Well, I do, I asked you for this, after all, but it’s incredible someone can forget someone like you. There are so many things I have to ask, things I need to clarify. I feel like a big part of me had been hidden, and I feel complete for the first time in forever.”
“That’s exactly what happened, those secrets were necessary, but left you with only half a picture,” Melchizedek said. “But it’s good to see you have them back and that we can talk freely now.”
I saw the same painful wince in Mistral, and then she looked solemnly at her father. “You weren’t accepted as a Priest because of your powers, you are not a Blessed one that was guided to them, you are part of that family, you were destined to be a High Priest,” she said.
“That’s right, they are also your family, our family, but their hypocrisy made them reject us and put us to the side.”
“I see everything so differently now, is like the pieces of the puzzle are falling into place, but I don’t see the image I’m putting together,” Mistral said, and I could see she was sad because of that. “What I still don’t get is why you are here and why are you interested in a Light one,” Mistral said. “Why do you want to take him away?”
“I’m afraid I’m the reason for that,” Sofia said, finally out of her trance. “Kaiserin is only helping me getting reunited to my grandson.”