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Chapter 41

I was too tired to move.  I watched as the heirs gathered around me, most of them I didn’t know, but I didn’t care. Nothing really mattered anymore. I had failed, I had blown my opportunity.  I closed my eyes and felt the tears spilling from them.  I waited for them to finish me.

“What do you think you are doing?” I heard Trajan’s voice.

“She attacked Caracalla, and Rimsin.” Said someone else.

“We’ll deal with her, she will pay for this.” Added another man.

“No one will do anything,” said Trajan.  “Get out of here! All of you.  If one of you dare so much as to touch my sister, I will make you regret it.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” Asked and angry voice.

“Caracalla will not like this Trajan, you know that.”

“Caracalla is not here, and when my brother is not present, I’m in charge.  Don’t forget that.”  I could hear Trajan, he was close to me.  Most of the heirs were going away, but still a few were walking closer to me.

“If you think I will leave you alone with her you are gravely mistaken.” Agis warned Trajan.

“Kaiserin?” Inionri knelt by my side and I heard the tremor in her voice as she gently turned me around.  “Please, tell me you are ok.”  She put her arm on my shoulder, a gesture of comfort.

“I failed, I couldn’t do anything.”  I finally opened my eyes and found myself surrounded by familiar faces.

Agis, Geb and Kozlak were standing between Trajan and me.  On the other side, observing but not participating in the confrontation were Vikomt, Sina, Net and Hor. Behind Inionri I saw Dendro and another heiress I didn’t recognize.  Further away a few other were standing, watching us, Maddan among them.  I made an effort to stand, Inionri tried to help me, but I needed to do that by myself.  Once I was standing I started walking to the door.

“What are you doing?” Agis asked me as he approached me.

“I need to go back to my room,” I said.

“You cannot go back to him!” He closed the distance between us and grabbed me by the arm.

“Let me go!” I tried to make him let go of my arm.

“Kaiserin?” Geb had also approached me.  “We’re just trying to help you.”

“Help me?” a bitter laugh escaped my lips just as the tears started rolling down my face.  “You can’t help me.”  I looked around, I saw all the eyes on me, making me uncomfortable.  “It is too late for me.  Do yourselves a favor and keep away from me before is too late for you too.”

“Don’t be silly Kaiserin, we won’t leave you alone, we will find a way to fix this.”  Agis talked with conviction, but he had no idea what he was talking about.

“You are the silly one, Agis.  Do you think that you can help me after what happened here?” I tried to free my arm again, but he wasn’t letting me go.  “I made a mistake, I failed in my revenge.  Right now the emperor is with Caracalla or Vasuman deciding how to punish me.  Are you dumb enough to try and defy the emperor?  If I’m lucky I will be dead by tomorrow, if not… Well, you know what happened the last time.”  I fought Agis again and managed to free my arm.

“It is worse that what you told me.” Said Kozlak.

“You knew about her?!” Trajan’s surprise looked genuine.  “What happened?”

“As if you weren’t part of this, along with your father and your brother.” Said Inionri.

“Do you really think I knew that my sister was alive?”

“Don’t call me that,” I told Trajan, “if our father hears you he will punish you.”  I started walking again, putting distance between us.

“Kaiserin, you can’t leave us.”  Vikomt was walking near me, but keeping his distance.

“I need to go back to my room before Vasuman gets back.”

“No, you need to go to the infirmary.” Said Inionri.

“We shouldn’t have left you there,” complained Geb, “this wouldn’t have happened if you had come with us like we asked you to.”

“Enough!” I yelled.  “That doesn’t matter any more.”  I kept walking to the exit and they kept walking with me, they didn’t want to leave me again.  Maddan was waiting by the door, he looked confused, he didn’t know what to do.

“Kaiserin, I…” Maddan tried to find something to say, he looked like he was trying to apologize, but what for? I didn’t know.

“Zounkla?”  Behind Maddan I saw Zounkla, he wasn’t supposed to be in the Palace.  “What are you doing here?  You should be at the barracks, not here.”

“And you should be in your room,” he answered, as he put the cloak I had left lying outside the throne room around my shoulders, “the general asked me to come for you, did you really expected him to trust you to obey his orders after what you did?  Zounkla must have noticed how tired I was because he put his arm around my waist to help me walk to my room.  “Let’s go to your room, I will keep you entertained until the general returns.”  The way he said that sent the wrong message.

“Let her go.” Ordered Geb, and the floor around us started to tremble.

“Take your hands off of her.” Said Agis.

“Don’t touch her.” Added Kozlak as he stepped in front of us.

“Who are they?  Friend of yours?” asked Zounkla.

“They no one, don’t worry about them.”  I said.

“You know I’m not the one who should be worried.” Zounkla said, and I knew he was planning on using his power on them.  But a few of them had a double mind, and his power wasn’t as effective on them.  But all of them stood there without moving as we walked away and I knew his power was masking our retreat. “What happened?” he asked once we were away from them.

“It’s a long story and I’m really tired,” I said.  “I think I have a psychic headache.”

“You always manage to get into trouble.”  He lifted me into his arms, noticing I had trouble walking.  “Is ok if we go to your room or do you need to go to the infirmary first?”

“I prefer my room, I need to wait for Vasuman, he was mad at me when he left.”

“Yeah, I noticed when I saw him.  Your presence here caused a lot of noise, I heard about it even in the barracks.  News travels fast.  I came here as fast as I could.”

Zounkla took me to my room and stayed guarding the door.  Despite his protests I chose to go to bed without tending to my wounds first.  My headache was too strong for me to think about anything else, all I wanted to do was lie down. A psychic headache couldn’t be treated, it had to be endured, so it was pointless to go to the infirmary or have someone help me.

After a while I heard someone knocking on the door.  I knew that it wasn’t Vasuman, it was too early for him, besides, he wouldn’t knock, he would just enter the room.

“Colonel?” Zounkla was thinking the same as me, he wasn’t sure who was on the other side.

“See who is knocking.”  I thought that maybe my father’s men were here to arrest me.

Zounkla opened the door and was immediately wrapped with hair and pulled out, I knew that had to be Inionri.  A moment later Lamia and Inionri entered the room without Zounkla.

“Are you alright?” asked Lamia as she jumped next to me on the bed.

“Did that man hurt you?” asked an angry Inionri.

“Please don’t yell, my head hurts.”  I asked as I tried to sit up.

“We decided that this time we won’t make the same mistake,” announced Lamia. “They told me what happened at the reunion and I must tell you that I don’t approve the way you acted, you need to stop deciding for others and let them chose if they want or don’t want to help and what they are willing to sacrifice in order to do so.”

“So I can’t decide if I want help or not?”

“I didn’t ask you to help me when we first met,” she said, “but you helped me anyway and that’s something I’m grateful for. So I will apply the same principle and help you even if you haven’t asked for my help, and I hope you will be grateful for that.”

“Come with us, we want at least an opportunity to talk to you” said Inionri.  “Come on, I don’t know how long is Kozlak going to be able to stop your guard.”  As if they were waiting for a cue, the door opened and Kozlak landed in the middle of the room. Zounkla walked into the room and closed the door.  He looked angry at the attack.

“I will give you an opportunity,” Zounkla said, “leave now and I won’t hurt you.”

“We won’t go anywhere without Kaiserin.”  Said Kozlak as he tried to stand up.  Zounkla’s smile told me that he wasn’t impressed by Kozlak’s words.  None of them had a double mind, so Zounkla was confident in his ability to stop them with his power.

“She is too tired, you can’t move her.” Said Zounkla as he prepared for an attack.

“We will take care of her,” said Lamia as she put her arms around me.  As soon as we made contact I felt a warm sensation surround me, I felt my fatigue evaporate.  Lamia was giving me some of her energy.

“Last chance kids,” warned Zounkla, “get out of here.”

“Zounkla, that’s enough.”  I said, before things got more complicated.  “They are my family, they won’t hurt me.” Zounkla took a step back and leaned on the door, he didn’t look happy.  “They won’t stop until I talk to them, so I will go with them for a while.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea.” He warned me.

“You know me Zounkla,” I said as I got out of bed, “I’m not exactly known for my good ideas.”  I grabbed some fresh clothes, I needed to change into a clean uniform.

As I changed the tension in the room increased.  Kozlak looked as if he wanted to tear Zounkla’s head off.  Zounkla was restless and looked ready to throw everyone out of the room.

“I insist, this is not a good idea,” Zounkla told me once more when I finished getting ready.  “The general will be furious if you’re not here when he comes back.”

“This could be my last chance for talking with my family,” I explained.  “Those that are on death sentence are supposed to have a last wish granted.”

“I don’t appreciate your dark humor colonel.” He said.

“Just move and let us out.” I said as Inionri and Lamia stepped to my sides, Kozlak standing behind us like a bodyguard.

Zounkla opened the door and Vasuman was standing on the other side.

“Going somewhere?” he asked as he entered the room and closed the door behind him.

“I just need a moment to talk to my cousins,” I tried to explain, “it won’t take long.”  Lamia and Inionri stepped in front of me, hiding me from Vasuman. Kozlak had gone in front of us, facing Vasuman.

“Do you really think you can leave after what you’ve done?”  Vasuman’s eyes were shining with his own fire.  “You and I have a lot to talk about.”

“We won’t let you hurt her,” said Inionri.  “She is not alone anymore.”

“You can’t come here and take what is mine.”

Before I could warn her, Inionri attacked Vasuman, using her hair to grab him, but he just used his power and set Inionri’s hair on fire. I saw the fire advancing through her hair, even after she let him go.  I panicked, I couldn’t let her burn.  I took a knife from Lamia’s belt and cut Inionri’s hair before the fire reached her.  The fire kept coming, so I used pirokinesis to throw the fire away from us and back to Vasuman, who I knew wouldn’t be affected by it.

The effort of using my powers made the psychic headache increase and I fell under the pain, close to losing consciousness. I heard a punch and then saw Kozlak falling.  Vasuman knelt by my side and putting his arms around me he helped me back up.

“What did you do?” he asked. “You promised not to use pirokinesis.”

“But I didn’t promise to let you burn my family,” I answered as I tried to push him away. “And I don’t remember the part of our deal that said that you could humiliate me in front of my family.”

“Would you have preferred if I had let your father murder you?”  He asked as his hold on me increased in strength.

“No, I would have preferred if you had helped me to kill him instead of protecting him!”  I yelled at him. He had robbed me of my revenge, he had taken the opportunity away from me.

“I warned you Kaiserin, you were not ready for this. You should have stayed here, out of danger. And here is where you are going to stay until I can sort this out and keep you out of danger.”

“I don’t want to!”  I started to hit Vasuman’s chest with my fists, but I knew that I wasn’t causing him any harm.  “I will go with my cousins.”

“No!” Vasuman said. “You will stay right here, where I can keep you safe.  Don’t you realize the danger you are in?  Your father could sentence you to death because of your reckless actions today.  It will be hard to convince him otherwise.”

“Do you think I care?” I said. “I stopped worrying about that a long time ago.”

“Then I will worry for you,” he said. “You will stay here where is safe, I don’t care if I have to lock you here, I don’t care if I have to tie you up.”  He started to drag me away from the door.

“Let me go! I don’t want to be with you! I want to go away from you” I kept screaming and hitting him.  “I hate you!” I yelled enraged. “I hate you!” I said because I was tired of him controlling me, telling me what to do. “I hate you!” Because he was right after all, if I had listened to him, maybe things wouldn’t have gotten so out of control.

I kept hitting him when I noticed that he wasn’t holding me anymore, I looked at him and I saw that I had hurt him, not with my fists but with my words.

“Do you really hate me?” he asked in a whisper.

“Yes.” I wanted to hurt him more, like he had hurt me.  “I hate you so much. I don’t want to be with someone who can’t be there for me, someone who enjoys humiliating me, hurting me. I don’t need you, I don’t like you!”

“Everything I’ve done, I’ve done for you.”  I knew him so well that I knew how much my words have affected him even if he didn’t show it. “It wasn’t my intention to hurt you, I was trying to help you. I thought they were going to kill you and I couldn’t let that happen.”

“But I died a long time ago.”  Vasuman hated when I said things like that, but he didn’t yell at me for it like usual, he just stared at me.  He passed his hand over his head and then closed his eyes, as he did when he was thinking.

“Is that what you really want? To leave me?” He looked sad and I felt guilty.

“Yes.” I said, but as soon as I spoke the words I knew that it wasn’t true, just the idea of being away from him was unbearable. Because despite the fact that I didn’t like how he acted and how he treated me sometimes, I knew that he was always trying to do what was best for me. “No.”  I finally said. I put my arms around me, I was suddenly very cold.

“Kaiserin, dear.” He hugged me, enveloping me with his heat.  Between his arms was one of the safest places I knew.  “I just want what is best for you,” he told be as he kissed the top of my head.

“Then let me be myself,” I started again the fight that we had had so many times before.  “I’m tired of hiding, of pretending I don’t exist.  I want everyone to know that I’m here, to know what happened.

“You are painting a target on your back, you are inviting them to finish what they started.”

“I don’t care!” I insisted. “Anything  better than being a ghost. You can’t hide me forever, you can’t lock me down. Besides, it’s already done. It’s too late to try to undo what I did.  If my father decides to kill me, at least now they will know what he is doing, he won’t be able to hide it again.

“He won’t kill you,” said Inionri, and I was reminded that we weren’t alone.  “It doesn’t matter that he is the emperor, he would lose respect if he does it again.  Besides, my father and the other generals won’t allow it.”

“You look so confident kid, but you know nothing,” said Vasuman, he looked uncomfortable, I guessed he had also forgotten about them. “The emperor won’t be concerned with people’s respect if he feels the throne is at risk.”  He let me go and stood in front of my cousins, a flame forming in his hand.  “And I won’t let anyone endanger Kaiserin’s life.”

“They won’t do anything to hurt me,” I said stepping between them.  “They are my family and I will go with them.”  With that Vasuman’s attitude changed and he was once again the controlling and intransigent general.

“No, I won’t allow it.” Fire was spreading around his body.

“I won’t change my mind, I will go with them no matter what you say.  I will see you tonight,” I promised as I stepped on my toes so I could reach him and kiss him on the mouth.  The fire died as soon as I touched him, and he kissed me back with an intensity and a force that stated his need to possess me and his fear of losing me.

I walked through the door and walked away fast, before he changed his mind and came after me.  I kept feeling as if he was going to walk after me and drag me back to his room.  Lamia and Inionri flanked me again, Kozlak walked close by, all of us in silence.  They guided me to a room closer to the area reserved for the emperor and the people close to him.

We went into one of the bigger rooms and sat in the chamber.

“What happened there?” asked Kozlak once we were alone and behind closed doors.  “Since when do you know pirokinesis?”

“And why didn’t you use it to protect yourself from him in the throne room?” asked Inionri while she absently played with her now very short hair.

“A while after our first fight, Vasuman realized that I could learn other types of telekinesis, so he insisted that I learn pirokinesis so I could avoid getting hurt again by his fire” I explained.  “He also asked me not to use that in public, he didn’t want other people realizing what I could do, he thinks is best for us if people think that he can use fire to control me.  He said that as long as people think I’m unstable and vulnerable my father and the others won’t think of me as a threat.”

“He is taking advantage of you,” Kozlak said, “he is manipulating you into doing what he wants.”

“Vasuman is the best thing that has happened to me since my mother’s death.”  I tried to defend him.

“What the hell happened?” asked Lamia.  “What happened after we left you?”

“Agmong thought that things were going to get back to the way they used to be, but I couldn’t go back to that, so I killed him.  I ended up with Joshes, and it wasn’t much better than being with Agmong.  After a few months I found out I could escape her, I fought Zounkla first to take his rank, then I killed his superior and took his rank instead.  That took me to Vasuman.  He thought that I was an impostor and attacked me, that’s how I got this,” I said, showing my burn scars, “but when he discovered that I was the real Kaiserin he felt so guilty, he even apologized to me for hurting me.  He has protected me since then, he took care of me.  He helped me to be strong again.  We are ok, I’m ok.”

“If everything is fine with you, why did you attack the heirs?” Kozlak asked.

“Because I can’t stand the idea of Caracalla enjoying his life here, he took everything from me, he can do whatever he wants while I have to hide. It’s not fair!”

“Don’t worry,” said Inionri, “our parents are going to find a way to fix this.”

“I really doubt that,” I said, “despite your good intentions, I don’t think that other people is going to share your point of view.  I am a threat to you.  Maybe you’re not thinking about the future right now, but, do you think your parents are going to save someone that could diminish your chances of winning the throne?”

“That’s a valid question,” interrupted Isis as she entered the room, followed by her daughter Net and her son Sobek.  Her nephew Hor entered just behind them.  “But don’t worry, there’s a lot to discuss before we can reach any conclusion.”

“Aunt,” Kozlak greeted her, “I hope you are not trying to get out of your promise to help us.”

“I don’t recall promising anything Kozlak,” Isis took a seat and the others stood around her. “First, we need to see what the Emperor is going to do, then we can decide how to act.”

“If we wait for him, is going to be too late, he will act and we won’t be able to do anything.”  Said Lamia.

“What happened to your hair?” asked Khreb, Inionri’s father, as he walked through the door, followed by his younger daughter.

“I had a little accident father, but I will be as good as new by tomorrow.”

Lobishomen showed up at that moment, followed by Agis and Geb and their parents.  Nawab and Vikomt arrived a few minutes later, with Jomei and his sons.  The room was quickly filling up and I felt intimidated by so many generals and colonels staring at me, studying me.

“Are we all here?” asked Boyar as he closed the door behind him.

“Seems like it.” Answered Isis.

“What are YOU doing here?” I asked Boyar.  The old man had very strange ideas of how to act and his personality made me sick.

“Well, your friends called a reunion and I couldn’t miss it,” he said as if I was being dumb for asking, “I am, after all, the expert in whatever related to you.”

“You know nothing about me.”  I was expecting a quiet gathering with my friends, I wasn’t expecting everyone else, especially not Boyar.

“How did you end up involved in this Boyar?” asked Khreb.

“You all keep forgetting that I am assigned to sector 32.

“You spent so much time traveling around the Empire that is hard to pinpoint you to just a sector.” Said Jomei.

“If you already knew about this Boyar, why you didn’t say anything?” asked Isis.

“I didn’t think there was anything worth saying.” Boyar sounded bored.

“Sultana’s daughter is alive and you don’t think is worth saying?” Jomei’s tone was dangerous, he was mad.

“I’m not the only one who knew about this,”  Boyar looked around, stopping to stare a few seconds into the eyes of my friend’s parents,  “but I guess that the rest thought, just like I did, that it would be dangerous to act before knowing exactly what Kamose was planning with this peculiar exile.

“What he was planning is quite obvious,” said Khreb, “he was trying to remove obstacles in Caracalla’s road to the throne.  Without Kaiserin in the way Kamose’s older son has a better chance.

“I still don’t understand what happened, and how did she end up here?” asked Lobishomen.

“Well, we had to bring her here, after what happened last time Vasuman left her unsupervised, he didn’t want to risk it.” Boyar said with a smile that I wanted to slap out of his face.

“Are you going to explain or do we have to guess what the hell are you talking about?” asked Isis.

“The first time we let her alone in the sector, for just three days, we returned to find a forest of bodies.  Kaiserin did something similar to what she did to Rimsin to several of Vasuman’s men.”

“Why?” asked Jomei.

“You know sector 32 is not like other sectors, we don’t get much slaves there.  Some of the low ranks have found interesting alternatives to sex slaves, they teach their soldiers to please them as a sex slave would do.  Some sergeants are very good at this, their soldiers can fulfill your every fantasy.”

“Shut up Boyar.” I was angry, and ashamed of his words, I didn’t want everyone knowing what I had done to survive.

“Kaiserin is a good example of that practice.” He added and I felt all eyes back on me.

“Stop!” I yelled, but Boyar just smiled at me.  I was starting to cry, out of rage, and shame.

“That time, when we left her alone, some of them still remembered their nights with her and wanted to use her again.”

“I said, stop!” I wanted him to shut up, but my discomfort just made him eager to keep going.

“The second night after we were gone, some of them cornered Kaiserin,” I attacked Boyar, I wanted him to stop, but he had read my intentions and was waiting for me.  He grabbed the arm I was using to attack and twisted it behind my back, then he grabbed my free arm and did the same.  With one hand he kept my arms behind my back, with the other he grabbed my chin and moved my face so I faced him.  “Kaiserin loses control very easily,” he said as I tried to free myself.  ‘A true warrior doesn’t let his emotions take control over its actions’ I heard Boyar’s voice in my head before he continued. “Those men attacking her made her go crazy, she killed every single one of them, and any other who tried to get close to her after that,” he kept talking, “Vasuman is the only one strong enough to control her, that’s why he doesn’t let her be away from him.”

“Let her go.” Asked Geb. I noticed several of my friends have tried to help me, but they were stopped by their parent, who observed with curiosity what Boyar was saying and doing.

“Do you think you can save her?” Boyar asked Geb.  “Do you think you can take her with you and that everything will be like before?”  Geb looked ready to attack Boyar, but her mother, colonel Gaia, was keeping him back.  “She is already damaged kid, she is worthless.  Do you want to fuck her?  You are wasting your time, you are not strong enough for that, she will go crazy if you try, and she will kill you.”

“You are wrong,” Geb said, “I have an honor debt with her, she saved my life, I’m trying to pay her back.”

“You are forgetting that I am a telepath,” Boyar said.  “I can see that you still remember the taste of her lips, the smell of her skin.  I know you miss the warmth of her body, and I don’t blame you, the girl is exquisite, but the only one who had been able to be with her and survive is Vasuman.  And just because he is strong enough to subdue her, and because his fire scares her to submission.”  I was struggling, trying to get free, I wanted to kill Boyar for humiliating me like that.  ‘The moment you let your mind be clouded with rage is the moment you lose the battle.  A cold mind is the path to victory.’ Boyar repeated his favorite quote directly to my mind.

But I didn’t want to hear him. I tried to kick him, but as always he knew what I was planning and he not only blocked my attack, he swept my feet from under me and let me fall on a chair, then he grabbed my neck with one hand and with the other pressed his thumb in a point on my forehead.

“No mental tricks? Why? Do you have a headache?” Boyar knew me well enough to know that I had a psychic headache, that’s the only reason I wasn’t attacking him with everything I got.  He put pressure on my forehead and I felt the pain grow until I felt sick.

“Don’t you think that’s enough? You should let the girl alone.” I heard a calm and cold voice, maybe Isis’s.

“I’m thinking that I should take Kaiserin with me, just to keep her away from you,” Khreb said. “I had forgotten how cruel you can be. It’s not that weird that your own children tried to kill you.”

Boyar didn’t answer, he just kept increasing the pressure until I felt my head was about to split in half. I felt the darkness creeping at me and it wasn’t long before I passed out.

 

Copyright © 2014 | Kaiserin Novel

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