What I saw on the other side of the door was not what I was expecting. There was a fight, but it wasn’t like any fight I had seen. It made even the fight between Medeina and Dame look like children’s play.
There were three people involved in the fight. One of them was a beautiful woman, of imposing appearance; she had long black hair, red eyes and a warrior’s body. Her opponents were two young men, with a powerful and athletic build, but the both of them were unable to touch her. She moved, no; she slid out of harm’s way with ease repeatedly, but her opponents seemed to sustain injuries, he moved her hands and cuts, and scratches appeared on the men, as if she was using an invisible sword. I was mesmerized by the sight. She was controlling the fight, and it wasn’t because she had easy opponents. One of them looked like a hydrokinetic, and the other was a cryokinetic. They attacked together, using their powers to complement each other. As one of them conjured water out of the air and threw it to her, the other froze the water in the form of thin blades, but not one of them could harm her, she barely moved, but could dodge every attack. It was difficult to see what was happening, they were moving too fast for me to follow, doing things that seemed impossible to me.
It took me a while to figure out what the woman power was, but I noticed how her hair and her clothes moved with powerful bursts of air that changed direction and intensity in an unnatural manner. It was then when I realized she was an aerokinetic. My power was a general form of telekinesis, but most people that fell within the telekinetic category had an affinity to one element or another, they had a control over their elements that I never thought even possible. They fought and moved as if their elements were just a natural extension of them.
I was hypnotized by the fight. I had forgotten why I was there. I could still feel the pain and the fatigue in my body, but I didn’t want to move, didn’t want to risk losing any detail. A few minutes into the fight I saw the two men being pushed hard into a wall by an invisible force, as the two of them sailed through the air, the door opened, and I was pushed into the arena where they were fighting.
I fell on my knees, and I felt the pain coursing through my body. I felt sick, and my vision turned dark for a second. I thought that I was about to lose consciousness, I was at the limit of my strength, and I fell on the floor unable to support my body anymore. I heard steps getting closer to me and saw a pair of boots in front of me; they were black with red trimmings. I knew the owner of those boots: the woman that was fighting.
“Lugat, did you change the test without telling me?” Even her voice sounded powerful and beautiful like her. It was a voice of someone used to expect obedience, someone who commanded respect.
“Of course not, Your Majesty, I would never do something like that without having your approval.” Lugat was one of the generals of the Empire; he was responsible for the Burrow. I had never seen him, but I knew about him and the fact that he was there frightened me.
More steps approaching, someone stopped beside the woman, my suspicions of him being Lugat were confirmed when he spoke again. “I think I know who that is, that little one had caused a great disturbance in the Burrow.”
More steps, more people, besides the woman, Lugat and the two men she was fighting there were three more people around me now. I couldn’t move and I didn’t want to, but I in the worst situation I could be. If Lugat, who was a general, was talking with such deference to the woman there she could only be Empress Sultana. I had never imagined that I could meet her, she was the Empress, the most powerful person in the Empire, and now here I was, in front of her, and Lugat was going to tell her, tell them, what I had done, and they were going to punish me. I had no idea of how many rules I had broken, but I knew I was in big trouble.
“What could a girl like her have done?” said a feminine voice behind me. It was very similar to the Empress voice, but not as serious. There was a mocking tone in her voice and if my situation wasn’t so critical, I would have been offended by her.
“Nothing important,” answered Lugat, “she just killed her superior, one of the trainers. At least that’s what they’re saying in the Burrow” he tried to use the same mocking tone, but it didn’t work; it sounded fake.
“Tell me child, is that true?” new voice, male this time. I liked that voice. It was beautiful and comforting.
I tried to stand up, but my body wasn’t responding to me. I was going to try again when I heard someone running towards us. People around me noticed too, and changed their attention to the person, no, persons running towards us.
“Medeina, Dame, I’m glad you are joining us. Maybe you can help me explain what this child is doing here” said Lugat.
“She killed Hoshi and must pay for it” Medeina practically spat the words at them, not the best way to address the people present, her general and the empress.
“Greetings my empress, generals, captains. My name is Dame from the Maxima Family, and this is Trilambda; she’s under my supervision. If you can give me a few minutes I can explain the situation to you.” Dame knelt beside me, showing respect for the people in front of us and at the same time putting herself between Medeina and me.
I didn’t know what had happened in her fight against Medeina or how both had reached us at the same time; I just hoped that Dame wasn’t hurt because of me.
“At least one of your subordinates knows how to speak to her superiors,” the empress sounded displeased by Medeina. It wasn’t uncommon for the superior officers to pay for the errors of their subordinates, and Lugat was going to suffer for Medeina’s lack of manners.
“And it’s the Maxima the one that knows her place,” said someone else, maybe one of the captains “Medeina is making us look bad.”
“This is not a family affair It has to do with the fact that her lover died. She’s not thinking straight,” said Lugat to the young man. He was trying to sound compassionate, but it sounded to me like he was trying not to laugh.
“Poor thing, the little kid took her lover, and now she’s sad” the mockery in the woman’s voice was evident. She didn’t even try to hold her laugh. I saw the woman standing beside the empress.
“Shut up Shahzadi, your laugh is annoying” the Empress was not enjoying her subordinate’s humor. “Dame, you may speak, but I hope that you have a really good explanation for this because I don’t like people wasting my time.
“If I may…” Medeina interrupted just to be silenced by someone else.
“Thank you my empress, I’ll try to be brief.” I had never heard Dame like that, she sounded insecure, scared. “A few days ago, Hoshi asked me to lend him my students for a battle practice between or groups. I was looking for more recruits when one of my students found me and told me that Hoshi was trying to kill them. As my students told me, and Hoshi’s students confirmed, Unzeta from Hoshi’s group injured one of my students and was trying to do the same to Trilambda, but she fought back causing him some grave injuries. After this, Hoshi got mad and attacked my students, trying to kill them, he was specially fixated on murdering Trilambda. She was just doing her job; she was fighting, defending herself and in exchange, Hoshi beat her mercilessly. She fought back, and in doing so, she killed him, but she had no choice, she had to kill him, or he would have killed her.
“Lies” shouted Medeina, whatever had kept her silent was shattered once she was reminded of Hoshi’s death. “That girl was trying to escape from training, when Hoshi went after her, she killed him. She rebelled against her superiors; someone like her doesn’t deserve to be part of this Clan, not even as a slave, we have to kill her. If we don’t make an example out of her more students are going to rebel, anarchy will invade the Burrow, we can allow for a student to attack a superior.”
“That’s a valid point,” agreed Lugat, “we cannot allow for a student to attack a superior, is not a good precedent.”
“We know how explosive and mean Hoshi has been lately; he even killed some of his students just because they looked at him the wrong way. He knew that Unzeta was his best bet at finally having someone finishing the test and having him suffer an injury made him snap and try to kill whoever he thought was responsible.” Dame was now standing up next to me facing Medeina and for a moment I felt like they were about to resume their fighting. “I won’t let you kill Trilambda out of revenge. She did what she was supposed to do, she didn’t deserve Hoshi’s attack nor yours.”
“Let me see if I understand this,” said the other man, the one whose voice made me feel at ease, “according to Dame this kid not just beat Hoshi’s best student, but Hoshi himself, Medeina says that the kid rebelled against his superior, but agrees that she killed Hoshi. Both versions have a little girl who’s capable of beating people older and more experienced than her. I don’t think that is a good idea to get rid of someone with that kind of power.”
“Is just that you have a soft spot for pretty faces, but if this one is really a rebel is going to become a problem for us” that was Shahzadi, and she didn’t sound happy.
I knew that I should be afraid, they were going to decide if I was going to live or die, but at that point all I was feeling was anger. It was all so unfair; I did nothing wrong. I was just defending myself, and now I was about to die. Medeina was going to make sure of that.
“She has been an exemplary student in my group. She’s a fast learner, and she’s obedient. She still has a couple of years under my tutelage, if you give me the opportunity I can make her a good soldier.”
“But she has a temper, maybe Hoshi made her angry, and she lashed out.” I wondered why Shahzadi had said that. It was ridiculous, even if I was angry with them, I would have never attacked a superior. I wasn’t a fool. Shahzadi leaned in front of me. She was staring at me, and I was doing my best not to look at her. “I have to say, it says a lot about her that she’s angry, not afraid of what’s happening. And she likes you, little sister; I can feel her admiration for you.”
I felt a strong wind flowing in the place where Shahzadi was standing, but she moved out of the way before she was struck.
“If you are going to address me, you must remember to address me as empress, Your Majesty and maybe if you know I’m in a good mood with my given name, but if you call me little sister again, I’m going to dismember you and throw your body parts at the beasts.” I shuddered at the threat. Was that what they were going to do with me? “Dame, let me see if I understand, you want to delay this kid’s test so you can properly train her?”
“I wouldn’t need to delay it. She still has two more years before the test, and I think that’s enough time to make her a good soldier.”
“Yes, that’s a point I should have clarified from the beginning, this kid, this ‘assassin’ is only ten years old, eleven in a couple of weeks, on Lambda third,” said Lugat, making emphasis on my age, and I hated that, because if made me feel more vulnerable.
“I had already noticed her birth day, but you should have clarified her age sooner” Sultana’s voice was cold, but I could identify some anger in it. The air around me felt heavy, and I wondered if the Empress had something to do with that.
I started to think about what was going to happen, and I just wished I could have a quick death.
“Medeina, if this happened two days ago, why haven’t you killed her yet? And why are you here now?” The empress voice was devoid of any feelings, and that was worst.
“I couldn’t find her before, Dame must have hidden her, so we wouldn’t be able to punish her for her actions.”
“Empress, I would never do something like that, I was looking for her, same as the others, I just found out where she was this morning, after talking to Cerridwen. It was she who found Trilambda after her fight with Hoshi, she treated her wounds and put her in the path to the Palace”
“Then this is not a coincidence. Cerridwen must have known that we were going to be here and decided it was in her best interest to arrive now. However, if Cerridwen told her to come here two days ago, why did it take her so long to arrive?” Lugat was asking, but I had the feeling that he already knew the answer.
The air was getting heavier with each interaction. It was my only clue as to how the empress was feeling. She was mad.
“Cerridwen didn’t send her through one of the easiest paths; she took the magma path.” Dame was shacking beside me. It was subtle, but if I could notice it, the others would notice too. “Maybe the Seer thought that if she took that path it would prove that she deserves to be given an opportunity.”
“That only makes her more dangerous. We have to get rid of her now before she does something worse” there was a note of madness in Medeina’s voice, it was not a good sign for me.
“Are you telling me what to do?” the threat was clear in the empress voice, but I had a feeling that Medeina wasn’t getting it.
I watched the empress walking around me. I couldn’t see her, but I knew she was staring at me.
“I hate to think that Cerridwen is involved in this, I don’t like that witch’s game. Every time she is involved, I get the feeling that my decisions are not my own. She makes me second guess everything,” it sounded like she was talking to herself, reflecting upon something. “What should I do? Medeina thinks we should kill her, Dame proposes that we release her under her care, Lobishomen seems to think she could be an asset to my army. What do you think Shahzadi? Lugat?”
None of them said something, the only sounds in the room were Sultana’s steps as she walked around me. I wanted to scream, just to break the monotony of her steps. I didn’t realize I was crying until my face started to hurt, the tears on my burned face were stinging me.
“Get up” For a moment I thought I had imagined the order, because of the monotony of the steps.
“Your Majesty, please, she’s injured, the medicine that Cerridwen gave her has lost its effects. She’s in pain, don’t ask her something she cannot do.” I felt bad for Dame. She was once again on her knees, by my side, begging for me, and that made me feel guilty.
“Lugat, why do your subordinates insist on telling me what to do. It’s annoying” for a moment the steps stopped. “Get up,” her voice didn’t give me a chance to protest. Her voice demanded obedience, so I tried. I put my hands on the floor and tried to push myself up, but I couldn’t. I wasn’t strong enough. “Get up,” she repeated and I tried again, at that moment my only thought was that of death, if that could free me the pain, I was ready to accept it. “Get up,” I pushed again and mustered enough strength to raise my body from the floor. I was now on my knees, but didn’t know how to continue, the effort it had taken for me to get this far was all I had. “Get up” I put my foot on the floor and tried to stand up, but as soon as I tried to stand up the strength left me, and I fell again. I could see the empress, just a few inches from me. “Get up,” she said, but I couldn’t. I wished for her to kill me and end my pain, if I had the strength, I would have asked her to stop toying with me. “Get up,” it was so unfair! If I only had the strength to attack Medeina, to make her pay for making this so hard for me and putting Dame in this difficult situation, for being like Hoshi. “Get up,” I wanted to scream and shout and curse and ran… but I wasn’t able to move.
All eyes were on me, the silence was deafening. I could hear my own breathing and my heart beating.
“Get up!” I couldn’t disobey the empress. I used the remaining of my strength and stood up, I tried to tell myself that it was the last thing I would have to do. I was in front of Empress Sultana, a few inches apart. “Look at me,” she was taller than me, so I had to look up, the movement made me dizzy, and I almost fell again. She was beautiful, scary, glorious… her eyes were red, with more intensity than Dame’s. I thought that it was the last thing I was going to see, but I was mistaken.
“Kill her! She must die” I heard Medeina and turned to her. She had the same eyes Hoshi had when he was trying to kill me, she was approaching me, and I was sure she was going to kill me. She was almost upon me when I saw her eyes change, lost their light, then I noticed a thread of blood running from her forehead.
“I was really tired of her, Lugat, dispose of her body and take Dame back with you.” It was surreal. The empress had killed Medeina, and I haven’t even seen her move. I saw Medeina and thought that I was going to join her in a moment. “Trilambda, look at me.” I looked at the empress again, ready for my sentence. “I, Sultana from the Maxima Family, daughter of Emperor Tzar and general Mara, absolute leader of the Imperial Clan and empress of the Dark Empire, welcome you, my daughter, to the Maxima Family, and I give you the name of Kaiserin. As of today, you are a member of our Clan. Congratulations.”
And with those words, my future was sealed. I felt like I was dreaming, for the second time in days I thought that I was dead or maybe delusional. Her daughter? It was impossible, no way that I was the daughter of the most powerful woman in the clan, no, in the Empire.
“It seems like at last you found a worthy heiress Sultana, congratulations,” said Lobishomen as he approached us, I finally could put a face to the voice. He was beautiful, in a manly way. Behind him was another woman, very similar to Sultana, I assumed that was Shahzadi.
“Shahzadi, go and prepare everything for Kaiserin’s arrival…” I could tell that Sultana was talking, but I wasn’t listening anymore. I was cold and my vision was getting dark, before I could do anything, I was losing consciousness.
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