I watched in silence as people around us prepared the throne room for the battle between my mother and Ende. Dux was talking to some of the generals and Trajan was with Kamose. The other side, the one where the Allied Clans were, was divided in small groups, the smaller one was the one where Ende was. The only missing Clan on the other side was the Technological Clan, they were in the middle of the room preparing the arena for the battle.
It was interesting watching this other Clan working. They were manipulating the metal floor and using some rare devices, they were building some kind of cage in the center of the room. The bars emerged from the floor and melted on the top creating a cage without breaks.
I was feeling uneasy, something about the situation bothered me, but I didn’t know why. My mother waited on her throne, she looked untouchable, powerful. I trusted her, I wanted to think that everything was going to be fine, she was the most powerful warrior in the Empire after all, no one could defeat her.
“Everything is ready empress” one of the technopaths informed my mother, “all barriers were installed according to the specified requirements.”
“Then it’s time to start this show” my mother graciously stood up and walked to the side of the cage. Ende also approached the cage. “The rules are simple” my mother’s voice carried through the room, clear and strong. “Once the cage is closed it cannot be opened until one of us is dead. If Ende from the Hunters Clan wins, then the Imperial Clan will yield all their power to his Clan. If I win, the Hunters Clan will lose its place as an ally of this Clan and will become one of the Clans under our complete control.”
I saw the technologicals placing some bracelets on their wrists before they entered the cage. Once inside, the ferrokinetics finished the sealing of the cage so no one but them could open them again. I heard something like an electric buzz and noticed something off about my mother.
“What the hell!” my mother was staring at her hands, clearly surprised about something.
“Did you lose something?” Ende asked mockingly as he unsheathed his sword and walked towards my mother.
“What did you do?” she asked, her voice lacked the control that usually had. “What have you done?” she asked again as she glared at the leader of the technologicals.”
“No, no, no. Don’t get distracted, I’m your opponent” Ende closed the distance between them in a second, giving my mother just enough time to unsheathe her sword and block the attack.
“What’s going on?” I asked, hoping that somebody could explain the situation to me.
“It looks as if she didn’t have her powers” answered Dux with concern in his voice.
I was watching the fight, I was terrified. My mother was struggling to defend herself, her opponent was strong and his skin very resistant, no matter how many times she tried to cut him the sword kept sliding off of him without hurting him.
Kamose and other generals had moved closer to the cage and were talking to the leader of the technologicals. I moved closer, trying to hear what they were talking about.
“This is treason” was saying Tepes as I approached them.
“You will stop this immediately” ordered Kamose.
“Sultana’s orders are not to interfere until the fight is over and one of them is dead” calmly answered the technological.
“That was before you steal her powers” Shahzadi’s voice was unnaturally calm, her coldness sent a chill down my spine. “This is putting her in a clear disadvantage. If something happens to her is going to be your fault. And we. Will not. Forgive. You.
“If Ende wins, according to the rules, he will be the boss, and he will be the one to decide what is going to be done.
“When Sultana win, you and your Clan will be history” Shahzadi didn’t doubt my mother’s victory for a minute.
“A psychic without her powers is nothing” I hated the man for his words and his actions. My mother could die because of him.
As if punctuating his words I could hear the sound of breaking bones. I returned my attention to the battle in time to see my mother on the floor, she was spitting blood and she looked so fragile, so vulnerable.
“You are not so tough without your powers empress” Ende mocked her.
“I swore you will regret this Ende” her voice was weak, but not her threat. “This is not over yet.”
She managed to stand up again, using her sword to help herself. She was weak and covered in blood. Her opponent was just standing there, laughing at her.
“Don’t worry Sultana, I don’t want to make you suffer” Ende raised his sword, preparing for the final blow.
I felt cold, I caught my breath. I couldn’t believe what was happening. My mother made a last effort to raise her sword, using her left hand, not her right. Supporting the sword on her right wrist, she pointed it to Ende. Ende let his sword fall on her, aiming for her neck, but my mother dodged and somehow managed to put her right hand in the path to block the attack. A stream of blood burst from my mother’s wrist that had gotten caught between the two swords. My mother’s scream filled the room, but what sounded at first like a scream of pain morphed into one of victory. She gracefully moved to avoid the sword that kept moving towards her, letting her own sword fell to the floor in the movement. Her right arm hung to her side, with the almost severed hand hanging by a thread. As I stared horrified at my mother’s hand I noticed something else broken, the bracelet.
“Your luck is over” my mother sentenced as an air whirlwind formed around her.
Ende raised his sword again and lunged at my mother, but before he could reach her he was trapped by the whirlwind. I had never seen anything like that. Ende’s body was jerked around violently. The whirlwind’s speed increased until Ende’s body started to fall in all directions, piece by piece.
Outside the cage there was an explosion of movement as the members of the Technological and Hunters Clans were surrounded by the generals of the Imperial Clan. Kamose and Tepes were trying to force the bars open as a group of people worked on opening them with their powers. Kamose was the first one to slip inside and run to my mother, she leaned on him as they discussed something in hushed tones.
“I have won this match according to the rules” my mother addressed the crowd. “As stipulated, all the leaders of the Hunters Clan will be detained and a representative of the Empire will act as ruler of their Clan. As for the members of the Technological Clan, they are accused of high treason and will be judged for their actions.”
“An investigation will be conducted to determine if other Clans are involved in this plot” added Kamose. “For the moment and until further notice, all negotiations and talks will cease.”
Kamose put his arm around my mother’s waist to help her walk to the exit of the room. Tepes walked on my mother’s side, just stopping for a few seconds to discuss something with Shahzadi. She then left and went to the side where the Clan leaders were.
“Come, we have to go to your mother” urged me Dux while he dragged me to the exit.
At first I just let Dux haul me behind him, I was so calm and saw no need to move from there, but as she left the room and put more distance between that place and us feelings of desperation and fear crawled inside me and started walking faster, eager to find my mother.
“Shahzadi’s empathy is working to avoid chaos to take over the meeting. That’s why everyone is so calm down, the last thing they are thinking right now is resisting or escaping, there are no worries in them,” Dux explained. “But we need to worry about Sultana and go to her.”
“Why it didn’t affect you?” I asked, he was so focused.
I was affected, but I knew what Shahzadi was going to do and took precautions. Before her empathy hit me, I already had convinced myself of what I needed to do. Even if my worry for Sultana was gone, my idea of being with her didn’t.
“Do you think she’s ok?” she had walked out of it, so she shouldn’t be so bad, but she was severely injured and had lost a lot of blood.
“Of course, she’s strong, she will survive.”
We finally saw Tepes and Kamose a few feet ahead of us. Kamose was now carrying my mother on his arms and she looked very pale. Someone had put a piece of cloth around her arm and it was now soaked in blood.
“Mother” I shouted while I ran to them.
“Don’t worry Kaiserin, everything will be ok” my mother assured me as she looked at me behind tired eyes.
I followed them in silence until we reached an area I was not familiar with. We entered a huge room, my mother’s I guessed as we crossed the antechamber, filled with sofas and chairs. We reached a bedroom with a big bed, Kamose gently put my mother in it.
“Dux, take the kid outside and go look for Ilum” ordered Kamose.
“As you wish general” Dux dragged me outside the bedroom. “I’m sorry Kaiserin, but I must go, you wait here.” Dux left me in the antechamber and ran in search for my mother’s slave.
I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t be by my mother’s side, but I wasn’t told what I could do, so I fell to my knees and stayed there, were Dux had left me. I felt dampness in my face and raised my hand to wipe it away, just to discover that I was crying. And then I waited. I waited for someone to come tell me how my mother was. I waited for someone to tell what was happening.
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