It took us one more day of travel to get to the battle ground. Vikomt and Echrad were with me trying to help me get more memories back while Agis went to meet with the other officers to receive his orders for the battle. I try to protest and tell them that we should stop trying. Pacorus had been right, the memories related to the use of my powers were better hidden and were more difficult to recover. They should be getting ready for battle, resting, but they wouldn’t listen to me.
Finally, we stopped for Echrad and Vikomt to recover before the next session. It was during the break that we heard a great commotion from outside, we went out to see what was going on. A woman stormed out of the room where the officers were gathered, as I got a better look at her I recognized her as Curare, the leader of the Assassin’s Clan. She walked to an elevation on the terrain and from there we stared at the place where the New World Clan was. A minute after that Geb and Agis walked to us, neither looked happy.
“What happened?” I asked as soon as they arrived.
“Nothing you should worry about.” Answered Agis.
“I want to know what’s going on.” I insisted.
“I received a message from the enemy” finally said Agis, “a few days ago the enemy captured a squad of assassins that included Dendro and Sarin, Curare’s son and daughter. The enemy is offering to return Curare’s heirs only if she accepts to break her alliance to the Imperial Clan and swore loyalty to the New World Clan.
“But that’s impossible, there’s no way Curare would do something like that!” said Echrad.
“Of course she won’t do it, but her loyalty to the Empire will cost her the lives of her heirs and could possibly lead to the end of her dynasty” Agis looked uncomfortable. “The enemy knows that we can’t accept the deal, they are messing with her head, they want her to feel guilty and distracted so she won’t be a threat to them.”
“We also received some reports saying that the Military Clan and other minor Rebel Clans are moving here, so we have less than two days to take care of the New World Clan before their backup arrives” informed Geb.
“The War Council is going to act under the premise that both Dendro and Sarin are already dead and attack with all our force, we are going to stop this Clan even if we have to level their camp to do that” Agis informed us.
“But if Dendro and Sarin are still alive and we attack then we are going to kill them” I couldn’t help pointing out.
“We know that,” said Agis, as he looked at the spot where Curare was, “that’s the problem. We will start the attack before dawn” he continued. “Tomorrow we attack, if we can’t defeat them before night, then we are going to destroy the whole place without caring for the consequences.”
“We need to rest, gather strength,” said Geb, “so is better if we go to sleep now that we can.”
“But we are not done yet” said Vikomt as he glanced at me, “we can’t stop now.”
“We won’t get much done in a couple hours” I said. “Pacorus was right, this may even be impossible. But don’t worry, I remembered the basics: I can control what I can feel and I can control where I go with my astral projection. I don’t feel so defenseless anymore. But you will be vulnerable if you don’t get enough rest now, and I don’t want to be responsible for your deaths if you keep wasting your energy trying to help me get back memories that may be out of my reach.”
“You will remember” Inionri told me. “You will remember everything and then you will be the same old Kaiserin. I don’t want you to think otherwise.”
“Maybe you are right, but for now, please, you have to rest, you have to get your strength back.”
“Ok, we will” Lamia accepted first when she saw that they wouldn’t make me change my mind.
“It will be best if you stay with me tonight” said Geb. “I will feel better knowing you are safe here and not with Agmong and his people.”
We said our goodbyes and then I followed Geb back to his tent.
“Good night,” he said softly once we were ready for bed, then he took my face in his hand and gave me a soft kiss on my forehead, for a moment we just stared at each other eyes, but then he kissed me again, on my lips.
I stood there frozen, I was so afraid that I couldn’t move, I wished that it wasn’t happening. As the kiss intensified his hands started to caress my body, but nasty memories of Agmong and the others flowed into my mind and I panicked, before I realized it I was crying.
“What’s wrong?” he sounded worried. “Please don’t cry, I’m sorry, I just missed you so much,” he was worried and scared. “I promise it won’t happen again, please stop crying, I won’t force you into anything.” He gave me some space and turned his back to me to let me sleep.
I tried to sleep, I really did, but I couldn’t. Being near Geb made me nervous. I didn’t understand why, I knew Geb wouldn’t hurt me, but knowing that he desired me and not being able to respond to his desire made me feel guilty and ungrateful.
I felt like I had just fallen asleep when I had to wake up. It was still dark and it was hard to tell the hour, but we had to get ready for battle. In spite of my friends’ objections I decided to be part of the battle, I wanted to do something useful, I didn’t want to be left behind, safely hidden like I was useless or a coward.
The place that the New World Clan had claimed as their home was among the ruins of a big ancient city. Huge metal skeletons of what had been impossible tall buildings filled the place and gave the enemy excellent hiding points and let them spy on us without being seen. The whole city was a huge trap as previous incursions had proven. But now with larger numbers and a better strategy, we started to get into the enemy field. I could see the different squads around us, Agmong’s group was not far from us. I was part of the center group and I had Inionri and Echrad close to me, protecting me.
We were getting closer to the part of the city where the enemy lived. It had been an easy travel, the resistance had been minimal and we were advancing fast. When I told Inionri and Echrad through our mental bond that it had been too easy and I was worried they told me that there was nothing to worry about, many groups, advancing at the same time, had the New World Clan occupied and not knowing what to do. But I felt like something was wrong. I thought that maybe it was just my imagination and that my time with Agmong had made me paranoid. Just as I started to relax a great explosion took place next to us. One of the huge buildings was falling on us, chaos erupted and everyone scrambled to get out of the way of the falling building. I knew that not everyone was going to get away on time. I saw Inionri and Echrad running and knew that in a second they would be out of my sight and the dust from the explosion covered them. As I started running to safety I used my power to push both of them out of harm’s way. I ran and dodged the falling debris, cowering from the rain of stone and metal. Just as I thought that I was going to make it something grabbed my ankle and tripped me, the electric shock that froze my body let me know who was responsible for my fall. I couldn’t move and the building was over me.
Somehow I had managed to create a protective bubble around me and despite being exhausted by the effort I was secure, I had managed to pile the falling debris in a way that kept it from crushing me. I was alive, buried under tons of metal, but safe in my little bubble.
“Kaiserin?” I felt Echrad’s voice in my mind. “Are you ok?”
“I think so Echrad, how are you?”
“Pissed off,” she said. “We could have escaped on our own, you didn’t have to risk helping us” I knew she was lying, they had needed my help. “Geb is on his way, we will get you out of there in a moment.”
“No, just keep going, you need to finish the mission, the clock is ticking” I felt the effects of the electricity subdue. “I’m fine and I won’t be going anywhere.”
“You are crazy if you think we are going to leave you there” I could feel her rage even across the mental link “Geb is going to be here any second…”
I heard another explosion that made my prison shake as the mental link with Echrad shattered. I felt the floor beneath me giving way. I tried to remember the instructions that I had remembered from Cerridwen and took a step to the astral planes to see what was going on. The scene above me was one of chaos. Taking advantage of the confusion caused by the building collapsing the enemy troops had attacked. Inionri and Echrad were doing a good job of defending themselves, but it was a little harder to take control of their scattered troops. I knew that they had to call a retreat, they needed to organize and plan a counterattack, but I was holding them back. Finally they had no other option than to fall back and go to where Geb was. I went down and discovered a tunnel running underneath the city.
I went back to my body thinking about breaking the floor and going to the tunnel under me. The floor was already compromised because of the building falling and it was easy to break my way through, but in the process I hurt my leg. I crawled away from the spot I had fallen, just in time, a big part of the debris fall through the hole I had escaped through. I couldn’t sit and wait for someone to save me, I had to look for a way out. I walked in darkness, letting my touch guide me through the maze. I thought about using my astral projection again, but I didn’t, by the direction I was heading I knew that I was getting closer and closer to the enemy camp and I knew that they would keep astral sentries around to stop spies to getting a look at them. So I kept walking using my touch and ears to guide me.
I kept walking for a long time, sometimes I had to crawl in the places where the tunnel was narrow. I had to take some detours when I found a dead end or a fork in the way. As I started to get tired and feel lost I heard a weird noise that instantly put me on high alert. The walls distorted the sound and it took me a while to identify it as a groan of pain. The place where it was coming from was faintly lighted, a single ray of light was getting through a crack in the ceiling. In the middle of the light was a young warrior, for what I could guess from the scene she had fallen and broke her back.
I got near her and recognized her uniform, it wasn’t an enemy uniform, she was dressed in the assassin’s clothes. The groans stopped for a while and I noticed that she had seen me, she stared at me with red eyes, eyes just like mine.
“Please help me,” she whispered so low that I hardly heard her. Not knowing if I was doing the right thing, I got even closer to her. “Save the heirs, look for help” she asked with her last breath.
I stood there not knowing what to do. Was it a trap? Was she an assassin sent to save Dendro and Sarin? Or was she one of the captured warriors that had managed to escape and was injured while trying to look for help? I paid more attention to her and noticed her abused body and the collar around her neck, when I examined it I discovered that it was a powers suppressor. It had been broken during the fall. I took it off and studied it using the faint light. I stood there, over the dead assassin and holding the broken suppressor for what felt like an eternity. My mind was a mess and I wasn’t sure what to do. Well, I did know what to do, but it was so stupid and impossible that I didn’t want to try it.
Finally, I took my jacket off and put the dead warrior’s jacket on. I put the broken suppressor on my neck and for a moment I feared that it was going to activate, but the collar was on and I still could feel my mind alert and my telekinesis active. I climbed the wall and using my telekinesis I took hold of the crack on the ceiling and wiggled my way up. Being careful I started to walk the building I had emerged on in search for the Assassins Clan warriors. I was in what looked like a bodega. Row after row of boxes lined the place. I heard voices and hid between some boxes. As I waited for the voices to get away, I examined the box closer to me, I was surprised when I discovered that they were weapons, I had stumbled into the New World’s weapons deposit. Just as I thought that I was safe and that I could leave my hiding place I heard a noise behind me, I turned around and found myself face to face with a soldier holding a gun. I felt the impact hit my shoulder as the gun went off. I cried out in pain and surprise. The soldier holding the weapon stood next to me and pointed the gun at me ready to shoot again. I heard steps and soon a couple more soldiers were standing around me.
“It looks like you found our runner” said the man with the gun.
“Good job,” said another one.
They grabbed me by the hair and dragged me behind them. I knew I couldn’t use my telekinesis to stop them or they would find that the suppressor I was wearing was broken. I had to wait for the right moment to use my powers. We left the warehouse and went into a hallway that took us to another room, the room had two rows of cages, similar to those used for animals, but they were filled with people. I noticed a broken cage on the floor, one of the men with me went over it and examined it, after a minute he turned to us and shook his head.
“We won’t leave you here so you can escape again, we will upgrade you to the suite” said the man holding me. His partners laugh and went to open a door at the other side of the room.
I was stunned by the scene on the other room. In front of me was a man bound and gagged, he was hanging from the ceiling, his hands were tied behind him with a rope that hung from a pulley system on the ceiling. By his position I guessed that his shoulders were disjointed. The welts on his skin were familiar to me and I knew that he had suffered under a whip. But he wasn’t the worst sight, just in front of him, on a table, a young girl was tied up, there was a man on her, easily twice her size. He was lying on top of her, dead. His skin was black with disease and from his eyes, nose, ears and mouth blood poured out of him. He had bled to death and had taken the girl with him.
“What the hell happened here?” asked the man as he let go of my hair.
“It looks like he couldn’t keep it in his pants and forgot that the girl was poisonous” answered one of the men as he walked around the table, carefully avoiding the blood pools around it. “It looks like the girls died suffocated.”
“Well, let’s hope Curare don’t ask for her daughter back or we will be in trouble,” said the one that looked like their leader. I looked again at the girl, horrified to find that that was Sarin, Curare’s daughter.
I heard a noise and saw that the man hanging had reacted to the voices and was awake. As our eyes made contact I discovered that he was Dendro, Curare’s heir. He looked surprised and confused as he recognized me too. The soldiers noticed him looking at me.
“I hope you didn’t think that your little friend could get away,” said the leader of the men to Dendro “we took her right back.” He grabbed me by my shoulder, the one they had shot and I twisted in pain. For a moment I thought I was going to black out, but it wasn’t as bad, I had gone through worse, I took a deep breath and focused on being under control.
“What are we going to do with her?” asked one of the men and I wasn’t sure if he was talking about me or Sarin.
“Get rid of the body, she is no longer useful to us,” said the leader.
When they removed the body of the man I could get a better look at the girl on the table. It was obvious what had happened to her, I could clearly see the cuts and bruises all over her body. The blood on the floor wasn’t all from the man, she had bled a lot too. It was the blood that had killed the man, her poisonous blood.
As they worked on removing the bodies they threw me to the floor, next to Dendro. A pool of blood had formed under Dendro and I fell near it, I recoiled in fear, trying very hard not to get in contact with the poisonous blood.
“It looks like the girl is not poisonous like the others” announced the leader of the men.
“Are you sure boss?” asked another one.
As if trying to test his theory the man held my hand and moved it closer to the pool of blood. I did my best to stay away from the tainted blood, using the last of my strength to be safe. After a while the man laughs and turns to the others. “Yeah, I’m pretty sure she is not like the others.”
After that the man pulled me up by the hair and with a quick movement took my jacket off. The wound on my shoulder hurt because of the movement and I almost passed out of pain. While I struggled to stay conscious the man produced a knife and cut my uniform shirt, leaving me naked from the waist up. Pinned against the wall I couldn’t move, he started to unbutton my pants. I couldn’t help it, I panicked. I screamed and thrashed, trying to get him off me, but I didn’t have enough strength. I saw the other men looking at us, they had stopped with their work and were staring at me. I was crying, I couldn’t believe it was happening again, I was frozen, unable to move or defend myself.
Dendro was desperately trying to get free, but he couldn’t do anything. As Dendro got into my mind his blood also got past my panic and I could think. I focused on the floor where the blood pooled. I tried to ignore what was happening to my body and concentrated on the blood instead. I used my telekinesis to produce a small projectile. None of the men noticed my project, they assumed that the suppressor was working and that I was powerless. I threw the first projectile to one of the peeping toms, the other one had no idea what was going on and I took advantage of that to attack him with another projectile. My attacker heard the screams and turned to see what was happening. As he took his attention from me I produced another projectile and attacked the last man. I saw how the poisonous blood got into his body introducing the venom directly into his bloodstream.
His reaction was fast, using the knife still in his hand he attacked me. My intention wasn’t to dodge him, I had used all my focus on attacking them and once I did that and I wasn’t concentrating on making and throwing the projectiles all the pain, fear and tiredness filled me and I couldn’t stand up anymore, so I fell. That saved me, the knife went into the wall instead of me.
I braced myself for another attack, but the man collapsed in front of me, the venom was already working and the man was rendered immobile by it. The other two men had collapsed too. I stared at the man in front of me and saw how he struggled to stand up but couldn’t. In a matter of a few seconds his breathing got shallow and I saw the fear in his eyes. A few minutes later all of them were dead.
I heard a faint laugh and I was surprised to see that it came from Dendro, he stopped laughing, he was visibly in pain. He turned his face to me and stared at me, his eyes filled with pain and confusion.
“I know that I’m not exactly what you were expecting” I told him as I grabbed the jacket that I had taken from the young warrior in the tunnel and put it on. For the first time I realized that I should have been more careful, I had to avoid any poison, I didn’t want to end up like the soldiers.
Using telekinesis I took the gag out of Dendro and then walked to the wall where the rope that held Dendro was fastened. With all the care I could muster, I got Dendro down. Any movement seemed to hurt him, he tried to stiffen his groans of pain, but he was shaking from the pain. Once I got him on the floor I used my mind to freed his hands, avoiding any possible contact with him.
“I can’t be dead,” he said once he was free, “it hurts too much. But if I’m not dead I must be delusional.” He looked at me, locking his eyes with mine. “Why am I having hallucinations of Dux’s little sister? Is it because now that I lost my own sister, I finally understand his pain of losing you?”
“I’m afraid this is not an hallucination and if the pain is any indicator, then we are definitely not dead.” I was surprised that I could manage to stay standing with my injured leg, the hits, scratches and the shot to my shoulder. Then I reflected that under Agmong rule I had been always in bad shape and forced to keep going, somehow I had built a high resistance to pain. “We have to get out of here. Can you move?”
I saw him trying to move, but he was way too hurt for that. Still afraid of touching him I looked around in search of something to help me move him. I saw a tarp and extended it next to Dendro. Using only my mind, I put Dendro on top of the tarp and dragged him outside the room. I could see that I was hurting him as I moved him, but he was enduring in silence. Outside the people in the cages were alert, trying to see what was going on. I left Dendro and went to the closest cage. I opened the door and let the warrior out. Other than a few superficial wounds he was ok. Hunger and thirst were his worst issues at the time.
“Help me get the other out” I asked as I moved to the next cage.
Some of the freed warriors went over to Dendro and helped him stand. Apparently they were immune to his poison and could help him. I guided them back to the tunnel, the one I had used to get inside.
With the help of some of the warriors in better shape we got all of them down to the tunnel. Just before it was my turn to go down an idea got hold of my mind. I asked them to get away, as far as they could and promised them that I would be right behind them. I returned to the warehouse and started to go through the boxes until I found one with explosives. I quickly activated some of them and ran back to the tunnel, surprised, but grateful that I didn’t find anyone on my way there. I had just got down when the explosion blew behind me. Some of the force of the explosion got through the opening in the ceiling, filling that part of the tunnel with force and throwing me a few feet in the air. I hit a wall and it was just a hit too much, I lost consciousness.
Copyright © 2014 | Kaiserin Novel