It had been a long, difficult night. I had been going through what I realized was my own mind, looking for my memories. Agis had guided me, taking me in the direction he thought better, naming people and places that I should know and helping me take back my the memories of them. The last one that I had recovered with his help was the most difficult, it was one of Caracalla and Kamose, it was from the day my mother had died. Agis had called it the memory that explained it all.
But I didn’t explain a thing to me. I knew who had sent me to that hell, but it didn’t explain why they had done it.
I woke up, it was still dark, but I knew that it wouldn’t be long before sunrise. Soon the camp would be raised and we would be back on our way. Agis and Inionri were next to me sharing part of the improvised bed. Vikomt and Echrad were on the other side lying next to each other, sleeping in what looked like a very uncomfortable position. Lamia was behind them, sleeping on the floor. Geb was resting seating next to the exit.
For a moment I just stared at my family, my friends and my ex-lovers around me and then I was hit with an overwhelming wave of shame. How could I see them in the eye? After all that had happened… How could I face those who had once admired me? Looked up to me? I used to be a leader, a warrior, but I had become a nobody. I was nothing, I was less than nothing. Everything that I had remembered painted my time with Agmong in a new light. It made everything even worse. I started crying, I couldn’t help it, the tears were flowing down my face. I tried to be quiet, but I broke sobbing and they heard me. Around me, people were waking up, alarmed.
“What’s wrong?” asked Agis, as he sat up, “Are you ok?” his voice was concerned, worried. He moved his hand to me and I backed up.
“Don’t touch me” I asked as I moved away, I saw how my words hurt him. “Aren’t you disgusted by me? After all I have done, how can you even stand looking at me?”
“What you did?” he asked, “You only followed orders, that’s what you were supposed to do and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. They should be ashamed by what they made you do, not you.” He was being nice, but I didn’t think he was honest. I was disgusted by my own weakness.
“This is going to be more difficult than what we originally thought, isn’t it?” Asked Lamia.
“Kaiserin.” Geb approached me too, but I moved away from him until I couldn’t back any more.
Geb hadn’t seen what Agis had, because he haven’t been inside my mind, but I knew Agis had talked to them and told them about the last couple of years. How much he had said I wasn’t sure, but I looked down, not wanting to make eye contact with any of them, not wanting to see disgust, contempt or pity in their eyes.
“Kaiserin, look at me,” ordered Geb, but I couldn’t, “Kaiserin, you are the most amazing woman I know, I owe you my life, even my rank. I learned a lot from you. You have to know that nothing can make me change the way I think of you,” he was going to keep talking but someone interrupted him.
“Captain?” called a soldier just outside our tent. “We are waiting for your orders.”
“Crap!” swore Agis. “We’re late.” He stood up and started looking around the tent.
“My men should be looking for me as well,” said Geb. “What are we going to do with Kaiserin?”
“There’s not much we can do right now,” said Vikomt. “We are on our way to a battlefield, we can go around stealing other people’s soldiers.”
“Are you going to send me back to Agmong?” I felt cold, and scared, not a feeling I liked or knew how to rationalize.
“Of course not!” Exclaimed Geb. “Vikomt, how can you even suggest something like that?”
“Vikomt may be right,” said Inionri. “Especially if the emperor is behind all this. We cannot go and cause problems between sectors, we’re only going to attract unnecessary attention to our problem”.
They all started to talk at the same time and the discussion kept getting louder. The floor started to move and Inionri’s hair started to float. They were just talking, but I knew that fists and powers were not that far.
“Stop it.” I screamed and they all shut up, surprised by my intervention. “Stop fighting, I… I’m not worth it, you shouldn’t fight because of me…” I felt everyone’s eyes on me and I wanted to disappear.
“She’s kind of right, this is silly, we shouldn’t be fighting among us” said Lamia. “If we want to do this we have to do it together. We are all tired, we are all on edge, and I’m starving!” She walked across the tent and grabbed me by the wrist, pulling me up. “We all have things to do, so I will take Kaiserin back to her unit and we’ll take the rest of the day to come up with a plan, we’ll have her back by tonight.”
“You can’t be serious! You can’t take her back to those animals! Yelled Geb.
“Trust me, I will deal with this,” answered Lamia with confidence.
“If Lamia says it will be ok, then it will be” Inionri agreed, “but just to make sure it is I’ll go with her,” she took my other hand and then both of them dragged me outside.
I was terrified, the idea of going back to Agmong was beyond scary, but there was nothing I could do about it so we walked in silence for a while.
“We’re going the wrong way” Inionri finally broke the silence.
“Of course not, sector 32 is camping in the north” answered Lamia.
“You are wrong, as always” Inionri stopped and forced us to stop as well.
“Of course not,” Lamia pointed to a group of tents that I recognized as the one from my sector by the color, “they are right there” Inionri looked at them and kept quiet, but visibly upset. “Accept it, I was right,” said Lamia mockingly.
“Dork” said Inionri and she started walking again.
As we got closer to the camp my fear increased.
“Which way?” asked Lamia.
“That way” I pointed to the far end of the camp.
“Perfect,” said Lamia. She took her insignia off and gave it to Inionri “hold this for me, would you?” Then she pulled the zipper of her jacket a bit lower, leaving her breasts almost exposed.
“What are you planning Lamia?” asked Inionri.
“I already told you, I’m hungry” was all the explanation she gave us.
The first lights of the morning were already painting the sky and the men inside the tents were already preparing to start the day. Lamia sauntered across the camp, moving seductively, exposing herself. What was she thinking? Someone was getting out of his tent and found himself face to face with Lamia.
I wasn’t happy about that development, I wanted to go and help Lamia, but Inionri’s hand on mine didn’t let me move, so I just stood there, watching her.
The man put his hand on Lamia’s waist and pulled her to him, I could see how he was staring at her like she was a piece of meat. He moved his free hand to her face, trying to move her dark lockets out of her face, probably to search for her mark, the one that marked us as available. But before he could take her hair apart, she took her finger on her mouth. I could tell even at a distance that the man was pleasantly surprised, he was enjoying whatever Lamia was doing. Suddenly his face changed from pleasure to pain as he started screaming and released Lamia. I saw blood flowing down his hand and I noticed he was missing a finger.
He threw a punch at her and I shivered, I knew what those punches could do, I knew him and what he was capable of, he had broken my bones on numerous occasions. But Lamia moved and dodged the attack, using his own momentum to throw him to the ground. She kicked him and turned him until he was lying on his back and then she straddled him. She pushed his arms to his sides and descended over him. From where I was standing it looked like Lamia was kissing his neck, the man’s screams could be either pleasure or pain.
The screams attracted a bunch of people, many were getting out of their tents and watching at the strange scene before them. Agmong’s group wasn’t lacking in peepers, Agmong himself didn’t take long to appear.
“That’s Agmong” I told Inionri as I pointed in the direction he was approaching. “He can produce electricity, if he touches Lamia, he can incapacitate her.”
“Damn,” she said as she started moving closer to them.
“What’s going on here?” asked Agmong as he reached the center of the gathering.
Lamia moved to show her face full with blood, the man under her had a big nasty wound on his shoulder where she had bitten him. When Agmong saw what was going on he took his whip and was about to hit Lamia, but Inionri’s hair intercepted the whip. The air filled with the smell of burning hair and the buzzing sound of electricity traveling the whip, but Lamia and Inionri were ok. I heard another scream out of the man on the floor, but I was still staring at Agmong, afraid of what he was going to do next. Lamia hit Agmong’s arm, forcing him to let go of the whip, and then on the stomach making him bend over in pain. Agmong took a step back to look at the women before him, he didn’t know what was happening or why they were there. When everything calmed down I finally noticed what Lamia had used to hit Agmong, it was the arm of the man she had attacked first.
“I had it under control, you didn’t have to interfere” complained Lamia.
“Kaiserin told me that Agmong could use electricity, I didn’t want him to use that on you, we both know that Kozlak would kill me if I let something happen to you or your baby,” explained Inionri as she took a knife and cut the hair that had been burned. Her huge mane of hair didn’t seem affected by the missing hair, she had just cut off.
“Yeah, he would probably kill me too” she agreed. I wondered what they were talking about. “You were right, thanks.”
“Who the hell do you think you are?” shouted Agmong as he tried to attack Inionri. The piece of discarded hair moved and flew to Agmong as if it was a spear, it hit him square in the chest, but he didn’t slow down, which surprised both of them.
“Agmong doesn’t feel pain” I told my cousins, “you cannot stop him like that.”
For the first time people noticed me, they turned to me when I talked. Agmong did too.
“You!” he accused as she changed his path and moved to me. The spear on his chest moved out and changed to something like a rope that took him by the neck and suspended him on the air. Agmong was thrashing and moving, trying to free himself, but unable to do so.
“She is Lieutenant Inionri” Lamia introduced her as he extended her hand to her.
“And she is Lieutenant Lamia” added Inionri as she gave Lamia her insignia back.
“What?” Agmong asked with difficulty.
“I was hungry and after hearing a rumor that soldiers from sector 32 were expendable I decided to come for a bite” as to back her words Lamia took a bite out of the arm she was still holding.
Inionri let Agmong free and he fell hard to the floor.
“This has to be your fault Sklave” Agmong accused me.
“Wrong and wrong,” said Lamia. “First of all, it’s your fault for hurting my favorite cousin. Second, her name is NOT Sklave, she is Kaiserin, and you better start treating her with the respect she deserves.”
“What the hell are you talking about?” Agmong was angry, but his anger reminded me of a cornered beast, part mad, part scared.
“I told you my name wasn’t Sklave, but you never listened to me,” I said, feeling brave for the first time in months, maybe years.
“What happened to your face?” was his next question, once he could take a good look at me. I didn’t understand the question and I moved my hand to my face, I felt my cheek, where he had burned his mark and I found the skin soft and free of scarring.
“We fixed a mistake,” said Inionri and I understood that I had to thank her for getting rid of the horrible mark. “I’m sure you have a lot of work ahead of you, we are going to move soon,” she said “so we are going to leave you for the moment.”
“But we are coming back for Kaiserin” added Lamia, “and if I found out that any of you hurt her I promise you that I will eat the one responsible as my dinner. Understood?”
“You cannot do that.” Challenged Agmong.
“Of course I can, I can do whatever I want” said Lamia. “The strongest one can do whatever he wants with the weaker one, and if you haven’t realized it yet, let me tell you, you are the weakest one here.”
“I am not afraid of you, you cannot hurt me,” he answered bravely, but I could notice a little bit of fear in his voice.
“He has a point, he doesn’t feel pain,” said Inionri “must be a side effect of his mutation” she added thinking out loud “but I bet it just makes him immune to physical pain, we could bring Echrad and see how immune is he to psychic pain.”
“You do have a point” Lamia smiled “wow, even you can have a good idea once in a while.”
“Very funny Lamia.”
“Anyway” continued Lamia “you have been warned. You all have been,” she added, raising her voice to be heard by everyone. “No one touches Kaiserin, if someone even try to hurt her we will make him pay, and believe me, you will regret even thinking about it.”
Both of them approached me to say goodbye.
“You are amazing” I told them, still surprised by their strength.
“My dear,” said Inionri sadly, “you were the best among us.”
“And soon will be as strong as us again, as soon as we take all of her memories back” said Lamia. “When I became empress I want you by my side as my right hand.”
“You the empress? Please, don’t make me laugh, I could wipe the floor with you if I wanted.”
“Please, don’t be ridiculous” answered Lamia as she moved the arm in front of Inionri.
“That’s disgusting, take that away from me,” said Inionri as they walked away.
“It’s really good” Lamia took another bite and then offered it to Inionri. “Do you want a bite?”
I watched them walk away and I felt so lonely. When I finally turned around I saw Agmong’s group staring at me, they looked at me with hate, surprise and fear.
“Someone do something to shut him up,” ordered Agmong as he pointed to the still screaming man. “And you,” he told me with a voice filled with hate and anger that made me fear for the worst, “go and prepare your things, we will be moving soon.”
I was left alone all day, I could feel how angry they were at me, but the fear of Lamia’s threat stopped them from hurting me. The day was endless, but still not enough to give me time to think about everything that had just happened. I wanted to go back to my friends, but I was afraid they would forget about me or realize that I wasn’t worth all the trouble they would be in for helping me. Maybe it was better if they stayed away, I didn’t want them dragged into my problems.
We started to set camp again and the fear of being forgotten by my friends increased as time went on. I knew that if they didn’t return the truce between Agmong and I was going to end and he would make me pay for the humiliation he received by Agis and Geb the day before and Inionri and Lamia that morning.
“Sklave, follow me,” ordered Agmong. I followed him, I could see he had the whip on his hands and he was playing with it.
I stood frozen for a moment when I noticed that, I thought that my time was up and that I was going to be punished. Resigned, I moved again as Agmong guided me to a clearing away from the camp. I was surprised to find Lamia, Agis and Geb waiting for us. They were there with Joshes, our captain, and a colonel. When I set my eyes on the colonel the familiar pain in my head started. The images on my mind started to manifest and despite still being able to see the people in the clearing I could also see the door in my mind trying to open. Agis was right there with me, helping me as I set my memories free.
“Fascinating” said a voice I didn’t know was Agis disappeared after taking the full force of the explosion that always came with opening the chest with my memories.
I turned and found the colonel with me, inside my mind. The man watched my memories with me. My memories of him. There weren’t as many as with the others and it was easier than recovering memories the night before. The scene inside my mind vanished and we returned to the outside. Colonel Pacorus walked to me and stared at me with curiosity.
“It is truly a surprise to find you here Kaiserin” he told me. He took another step and took my hand. I tried to step back, scared, but he didn’t let me. He stretched my arm and studied the bruises and scars along my arm. “This is truly surprising.”
“Kaiserin?” asked Joshes. “Isn’t that your toy Sklave?” Agmong has tried to offer me to her in exchange of a promotion, but as Joshes always said, she didn’t need to make deals with lowly sergeants to find someone to warm her bed. Still, I was afraid of her, mainly because Agmong was scared of her.
“She is,” said Agmong angry, “but these people took her from me yesterday, now they claim that her name is Kaiserin and this morning this woman,” he pointed to Lamia, “entered my camp and attacked my men” Agmong wasn’t finished with his complain but Joshes lifted a hand and signaled him to stop and he did.
“I just attacked a man,” said Lamia using her most innocent voice and look, “I was hungry,” she told Pacorus as if that was all the explaining needed.
“Still, you shouldn’t” Pacorus said in a calm voice. “But we will discuss your behavior in private.”
“Are you going to punish me?” asked Lamia playfully.
“Maybe, if that is what you need” Pacorus looked at Lamia and I could see in his eyes hunger and lust, things I had learned to identify and fear. Pacorus turned his attention back to me and I realized that he could read my mind. “Your mother would die again if she could see what you have become” he said.
His words hurt more than if he had punched me, especially because I knew they were true.
“Colonel,” said Geb trying to mask his anger without success.
“Easy boys,” he warned the captains as if they were nothing but lowly soldiers. “The game you want to play is a dangerous one, are you sure you want to do this? No matter what you do, you will never have the Kaiserin you knew back. Agis, you saw the memories, there is nothing about the battles she fought there, I guess those memories are being kept even further down her mind and without them she may never fully recover her strength. Besides, if the Emperor find out what you have reverted what he and his son did, you may end up just like her” he pointed at me. “You may end up being nothing more than a shadow of what you were.”
“We have to try at least,” said Lamia, without a trace of the innocence and playfulness she had a minute before.
“Joshes, are you ok with the deal?” asked Pacorus.
“Could you at least explain me what is going on?” she asked, she looked at the others waiting for someone to answer her.
“Yes, it would be” said Pacorus without further explanation.
“Ok then, I’m ok with this,” she said when she realized that no one was going to talk. “Agmong, for the rest of the mission, until we go back to sector 32 you and your group will be under the orders of Lieutenant Inionri and Captain Geb.
“Geb?” asked Agis and I noticed how tired he was, he looked as if he was barely able to stay standing. I realized how taxing it was for him to help me. “I thought we agreed for them to be under my command.”
“That’s what you asked for,” said Pacorus “but the risk you take is greater, any of you are in danger just by being near her, but you are closer to Caracalla and the repercussion for you would be worse.”
“I’m ready to take the risk,” said Agis.
“Maybe, but I’m not,” said Pacorus, “your mother would never forgive me if I let you be harmed.” He turned to me “I will help cover this mess as much as I can. Rimsin thinks that you were with him last night and he doesn’t remember Agis and Geb finding you, so Caracalla will continue thinking that you are still Sklave. Try to stay away from him or any other person who may recognize you, is the only way you can protect yourself while you try to recover your full powers. This is all I can do for you and I do it because my nephew asked me to, but mainly because of the memory of your mother. But if something else happens or if Kamose or Caracalla comes for you, don’t expect me to help you.”
I nodded because I didn’t know what to say. The image Pacorus was painting was worse than what I had imagined and I worried again of what could happen to my friends, was I endangering them?
“Good, then it is settled” said Pacorus as he turned and started walking back to the camp. “Lamia, I expect you in two hours to discuss your actions from today and seal this deal.”
“I will be there colonel” she said using her best smile.
Geb walked to Agmong and started shouting orders. I wasn’t paying attention to what he was saying, but I could see that Agmong wasn’t happy about the arrangement. Joshes walked to Lamia.
“It seems you still have a couple hours before you have to go with the Colonel, would you like to stay and kill some time with me?” asked Joshes at the same time she grabbed Lamia by the waist. I was surprised to see Lamia blushing, she didn’t put any resistance when Joshes put one hand on the back of her neck and pulled her into a kiss.
I could see Agis and Geb surprised by the scene, but also turned on by the image of two very sexy women kissing and touching. Suddenly Joshes stopped and collapsed to the floor. Lamia, still blushing and breathless, took a couple of hesitant steps back, as if trying to put distance between her and the collapsed Joshes. Once she was away from her, she seemed to recover a little bit.
“I’m so sorry captain, but I just play with colonels and generals” Lamia smiled sweetly at Joshes but kept walking away from her. “Thanks for the kiss do.” She reached Agis and taking his hand, she dragged him away as she gestured for Geb and me to follow. “I think you need a little bit of this” said Lamia as she stopped and put her hand on Agis’ forehead. I noticed the change immediately, Agis looked rested and energized. “You should stay away from captain Joshes, I had no idea what she just did, if she used empathy or pheromones, but that woman can set your libido on fire and make you lose control.”
“That’s what happened?” asked Geb. “For a moment I hoped that you had changed your policy of only colonels and generals.”
“Nah, I just fell for a second, but as you know you can’t play that game with a true Vlad” she said laughing. “At least I got to steal her energy for Agis, I thought for a moment back there that he was going to collapse.”
“I really appreciate that, but I was fine,” said Agis.
“If you are going to take care of my little cousin you have to be in your best shape” said Lamia. “Let’s go to the others, we need to prepare, if I’m going to be away most of the night we need to hurry up.”
“You don’t have to do anything you don’t want because of me” I told Lamia, I was going to say more but she didn’t let me.
“Stop, I know what you are thinking, but you are mistaken” she said. “Pacorus and I, it was something that was going to happen one way or another. There are only 3 colonels and one general in this trip and I like to vary the menu,” she smiled at me, “I know that with everything that had happened to you, your appreciation is a little different, but you need to remember that I am always hungry. I am hungry of good sex and if possible a little bit of human flesh. Sometimes I take both, sometimes just one. But believe me when I tell you that I’m not sacrificing anything by exchanging your security for a night with Pacorus.”
“Still, I feel bad that you have to do this for me” despite Lamia’s words I felt guilty, thinking of how Agmong used me for his benefit, I didn’t want to do the same. “I’m not worth it.”
“You need to stop saying that,” she told me, I could see in her face a mix of pity and frustration. “I get that right now you are not yourself and you don’t understand what you mean to us. Kaiserin, you have to know that I wouldn’t be who I am now if it weren’t for you, if you hadn’t been there to defend me from Caracalla. When I left the Burrows I was scared, but I found an ally in you, I knew that I had someone who had my back. It was that knowledge that gave me the confidence to become who I am.
“But Pacorus said…” I needed a moment to put my thought in order. “If you help me you could end up dead, or worse.”
“During the battle with the Creator’s Clan I thought I was going to die,” said Geb, “the doctors told me that if it had taken our rescue party just a couple of hours more to find us it would have been too late to save me. As I see it Kaiserin, I’m living extra time, I have almost four years to thank you for. I wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for you, my life is borrowed, is yours. As I see it, if I lose my life saving yours, then it’s worth it.
“Geb is not the only one that thinks that way” said Agis. “We all are in this because we want to, because we owe you. So don’t worry about us and let us help you.”
Copyright © 2014 | Kaiserin Novel