I was tired, I had a dream, a really bad dream, one in which I died, it had felt so real that it took me a while to realize that I was still alive, that it was only a dream. I had weird dreams before, but I usually didn’t remember about them, they left me with a sense of emptiness, but nothing else. But that dream was different, if I closed my eyes, I could still recreate the feeling of my life leaving my body. I tried to be rational, it was only a dream, nothing to worry about, nothing real. Maybe an after effect of the difficult situation I just had or just the result of the increasing problems. The Beasts Clan was becoming a major threat, and my sector was one of the most affected by them. Their attacks were a constant problem that kept us on alert, and it had already cost us many men.
After breakfast, I joined the war council, Vasuman and Boyar were going over some paperwork, colonels Modra, Arkta and Zounkla (who had taken over Vermello) were with me on the other side of the table, we were waiting for their orders.
“I think we should stop reacting and go into the offensive.” Arkta repeated for the thousand times.
“Is not that easy, we can’t identify their territory, we can’t attack them if we don’t know where they are.” Was Modra’s continuous retort.
“We have to do something,” Vasuman joined the colonel’s discussion, “this is getting more complicated.”
“Next time they attack, we should use all of our forces to fight back,” I said, “we have the numerical advantage, is just a matter of having the troops ready to move, instead of using just a group or two defending, we should use everything we have.”
“You won’t be part of the fight.” Vasuman wasn’t letting me go into battle.
“I have to,” I immediately said. “My men are strong and with me, guiding them, I know we could increase our chances of success.”
“No.” He threw a folder with paper at me. “You have new orders.”
I saw the royal stamp and started to read the papers, it was an order from the Palace, once again, I was being sent to the Shadows to pick up the tribute, apparently they didn’t want to deal with anyone but me. I was surprised my father had agreed to this, he had been loud and clear in wanting me to stay in my sector.
“I suppose that I should start preparing for my departure,” I took the papers and gave them back to Vasuman. “Do you need me here or can I go?”
“You can go.” His demeanor told me he wasn’t happy with the new orders.
I spent the rest of the day preparing for the journey and by the time I was back in Vasuman’s room he was already there.
“I don’t want you to go,” he said as soon as I was inside the room, “I didn’t like it when you went last time, and now is even more dangerous to travel.”
“It’s not like we have a choice.” I told him. “And I will be fine, I promise.”
Vasuman’s protest wasn’t going to accomplish anything and we knew it, so the next day I started my travel to the Shadows. I was traveling with a smaller group, with just twenty people it was easier to move unnoticed. We had a few problems, but arrived a few days later without injuries. When we arrived, we were received by a group of bright ones, they had a banquet prepared for us, they took care of my men and guided me to where Melchizedek and Soturi were waiting.
“Greetings princess,” Melchizedek said, he was balancing little Mistral in his arms. “I’m glad you could come.”
“What happened? What’s the problem this time?” I asked.
“I needed to talk to you, this is the only way I could think of,” he said.
“Why?” It wasn’t as if I didn’t want to be there, the last trip had been good for me.
“Please, come inside, we will be more comfortable there.” Once we were seated and food had been served Melchizedek started talking again. “Have you been having weird dreams lately?” he asked, and I immediately remembered the dream I had, the one where I thought I had died.
“Maybe.” I didn’t know what it was about, but I didn’t want the conversation to happen.
“A dream where you died?” I shivered at his words.
“How do you know about that?”
“You have been blessed with the best gift of all, the gift of seeing through the goddess Destiny’s eyes.” He told me with a smile, but I wasn’t following him. “You are a seer,” he explained, “that dream is the first sign that your powers are wakening.” I was horrified by his words, that couldn’t be happening to me, he had to be wrong.
“No, it can’t be,” I said, “I can’t see the future.”
“No, you can’t,” he said, “not at will, at least, but eventually you will start having visions, and your powers will get stronger.”
“No.” I was thinking about the Clan’s rules, all seers were taken to a special section of the Palace to ‘keep them safe’, they were prisoners. The seers were too important for the Clan and they had to sacrifice their freedom in favor of others. I didn’t want to become a prisoner, not again.
“I needed to speak to you for an important reason,” Melchizedek said, “usually when a seers awakens, other seers can feel it. But I think that your first vision wasn’t received by your peers and I don’t want you to go through this alone.”
“Wasn’t received? They don’t know? Are you sure?” I felt hope, maybe I could escape.
“I’m not sure, but when a new seer is born, the echo of their awakening is heard by others. For some reason the strongest the seer the weaker the echoes, yours was barely heard. The person who trained me told me that every person blessed by the goddess needs a guide, maybe the reason I have been having so many visions about you is because I need to be your guide.”
“This is really confusing,” I said, “this is absurd.”
“I know this is hard to process, but don’t worry, you still have time to make peace with this. That dream was only the first step, it can be months, even years before your new power completely awakens.” Time that I needed, I had to get my revenge on Caracalla before control was taken from me again.
“How much time do I have?” I felt like I was asking how long I had left to live.
“It is different for each person, but you won’t be fully awaken until you have the vision of your death three times; the first is in the form of a premonitory dream, the next will be just a premonition and lastly a vision.” He explained as if it was something common.
I had lost my appetite, so I left the table and went out, looking for some fresh air. Melchizedek’s words were impossible, Cerridwen would have known about it, surely she would have said something. A blessing? I felt like I was being cursed.
“Nina?” a little voice called, I turned to see little Mistral walking on trembling legs to me. Behind her, ready to catch her if she stumbled was Soturi. “Ni-na” the little one repeated and then giggled happily.
“She is calling for you,” Soturi explained, “she is trying to say Madrina, it means godmother.”
“I thought we agreed that it was a bad idea.” I said, as I bent to be at the same level as the child.
“I don’t think so,” Soturi said, “Mistral has only seen you a couple of times, but she seems to like you.” As if trying to prove her mother’s point the little one reached me and put her little arms around my neck. I held her like I have seen Melchizedek and Soturi do and lifted her in my arms. “She really likes you.” Soturi repeated.
“I’m afraid your child doesn’t know how to pick her company.” I said, but I was happy, and surprised, at having her in my arms.
“Nina, nina.” The little one was repeating as I hugged her and felt her warm little body in my arms.
“Don’t worry about Melch’s words,” Soturi said, “it could be years before you feel any different, at first, Melch just had a couple of visions per year, it took him some time to increase the frequency of his visions, and most of them come as dreams, it won’t affect your daily life.”
“Thanks for trying to cheer me up, but my life will change completely if people from my Clan discovers about this.”
“It won’t help you to worry about this now, take it one day at a time.”
One day at a time, my life was coming to the end one day at a time. I let the little one play with my hair, then my insignia, until she fell asleep, I returned her to her mother so she could take her to bed. I needed to rest as well, but after Melchizedek’s words I couldn’t sleep.
Next morning my men went to pick up the slaves, I stayed behind with Melchizedek and Soturi. I finally gave up and participated in a ceremony to be, officially, Mistral’s godmother.
They threw a party to celebrate and I saw the happiness of the rulers of the Shadows and their people, they were all friends with each other. I felt like an intruder there, but their happiness was contagious, especially with Melchizedek’s empathy, and after a while, I was part of the party, dancing and laughing with them.
When everything calmed down and I was going to start preparing for the arrival of my people and the slaves, Melchizedek approached me.
“I’m really sorry about yesterday,” he apologized, “I never intended on making you feel uneasy. Visions, especially at the beginning, are confusing and you will need someone to help you learn how to understand them. I think the goddess wants me to be the one to teach you how.
“How difficult can it be?” I said. “You see something and know it will become true.”
“What you see is not always what it seems,” Melchizedek’s voice sounded weird, I turned to him and saw his eyes were blank, he was in a trance.
“Melchizedek?” I approached him and touched him with my mind to see what was going on.
As soon as my mind touched his I was bombarded by confusing images. Familiar places and unfamiliar faces paraded through my mind, situations, impressions, sensations, a thousand feelings in just a few seconds.
“A vision is not easy to understand,” Melchizede said, taking us out of the trance, “to know how to make sense of the mess of images is what set apart a true seer. The gift is strong in you, that’s why you could share my vision. From now on, you need to start listening to your premonitions, if you feel something is not right or something is going to happen, listen to it.”
“I will.” I didn’t want to let Melchizedek down, I didn’t want him to think that I didn’t appreciate his advice and words, but I wanted to forget about all of that, I wanted not to have another vision in my life.
My men arrived with the slaves, and after saying goodbye to my friends and my little goddaughter, we started our journey back. I thought about my grandmother Cerridwen and everything she had taught me. She was my teacher in astral projection, but she often spoke of her most important power: precognition. Was that her way of preparing me for this?
As soon as we crossed the frontier between the Shadows and the Empire, we found a group of Palace soldiers. They took over the slaves’ transportation. I was so focused on Melchizedek’s words that I didn’t get mad about my father keeping me away from the Palace. I was even grateful for that, somehow being near the seers wasn’t appealing at the moment, I felt that they would find out I was one of them if they saw me.
We didn’t waste time in getting back, unlike last time I was eager to get back. I needed to convince Vasuman to let me fight, I needed to fight, to kill, to do something to rid my body of the pent up anger invading me.
I didn’t have to wait for that, as soon as we entered the sector 32’s territory I knew something wasn’t right, not long after we found the signs of a battle going on, a column of smoke and the sounds of explosions, screams and shots confirmed my suspicions. It took us a long time to reach the actual battle, the roads were blocked and we had to leave the vehicles and walk.
We reached the conflict and I ordered my men to join the fight, I entered the fight with them. Using my mind, I put a protective wall around myself, I took my gun with my right hand and a short sword with my left. As soon as the Beasts noticed my group, they attacked us. One of my enemies ran at me, he was on fours, moving as if he was an animal, he didn’t stop running until he was just in front of me and he attacked, my wall stopped him barely, but it gave me time to lift my gun and shot him. My enemy moved and I missed his head, but the shot found his arm.
After the Beast failed attempt, another warrior tried to attack me, he was trying to sneak up on me, attacking from behind, but my wall protected me again and let me know he was behind. Without turning around I took my sword with both hands and thrust it behind me, I twisted the blade and took it out, I heard the body hit the ground. Using my mind, I pushed my first attacker away, using him to trip a few Beasts in the process. One of my men saw him falling and was ready to shoot him once he stopped moving.
The enemy warriors focused on me, the newest threat. I stopped one using my wall, another one tried to attack me from the side as a third was fast approaching, I wouldn’t be able to stop them all, so I needed to neutralize them as fast as possible. I knelt and letting my weapons go I buried my hands on the ground, I pushed the one in front of me and then I focused on making a connection to the ground, once I did it, I formed a stake from the ground, where the Beast had fell. I couldn’t sustain my wall anymore while using my connection to the ground so I dropped it and taking my weapons again, I moved away from one of the warriors, only to find another waiting for me. I was preparing to use my powers against him when someone shot him in the chest. He was wearing some kind of bulletproof vest so he wasn’t wounded, just stunned for a moment, I approached him and shot him on the head, he wasn’t going to get up again.
There was chaos all around me, but as my enemies fell I was feeling alive, more alive that in a long time. As I advanced I saw the enemy retreating from the place where the smoke was rising. Using my powers I tried to clear the smoke, what I saw once the smoke was clear left me frozen, for a moment the world around me ceased to exist and I was unable to breathe.
There was a fire consuming the battlefield, in the middle of it was a free space where Vasuman was fighting four enemies. I saw him hit one of them only to be tackled down by another, he tried to get up, but they were hitting and kicking him. For a moment I was unable to see him, but then he pushed his enemies away and stood up again. He tried to get the fire to him and use it as a shield, the flames were moving to him, but before they reach him one of the Beasts jumped on his back, and holding on to him with arms and legs, bit him on the neck.
The scene was surreal, I was watching, but I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Vasuman was strong, invincible, I couldn’t move, I had no strength to move, but then I heard Vasuman screaming and then he collapsed. I knew the feeling of fire, and I was surrounded by it, so I took control of it with my mind and used it on Vasuman’s attackers. I knew he could survive the fire, but not the Beasts. The fire drew the Beasts away, but one of them saw me and moving faster than I thought possible he tried to attack me. Before he reached me, I filled the floor with stakes, his own speed made it impossible for him to stop in time and he fell on them, he was trying to escape, but I knew it would be impossible. Another Beast was behind him, and he was able to avoid the stakes, but using my mind, I took hold of him and pushed him down the stakes as well. The other two were still trying to find a way to attack Vasuman. I took my gun again and loaded it as I walked closer to where Vasuman was, I shot the one closer to me, but I missed and he turned to me, I was looking for a clean shot, but he was zigzagging and it was difficult to shoot at him. When he was closer and I was sure I wouldn’t miss someone kicked me on the back and made me lose my gun. I fell, but I rolled away, knowing that I couldn’t stay still or I would become an easy target. I did the right thing, as soon as I moved I saw a young Beast, about my age, hitting the ground where I was just a second ago.
“Are you alright, father?” the woman asked the man I was about to kill before she kicked me.
“Of course I am.” He answered in a roar. “The general is almost dead if not dead already.” He continued talking, but I didn’t hear anything else, his words made me reach out with my mind, looking for Vasuman’s thoughts, but I found nothing.
From the corner of my eyes, I saw something shiny. I put up my wall and felt the hits on it, but I didn’t pay much attention to that, I started moving, I needed to go to Vasuman, to confirm that he was alive, because he had to be alive, he couldn’t just leave me, he couldn’t just abandon me. I ran through the fire until I reached Vasuman, the others were still trying to attack me and more people were coming, but that wasn’t important, nothing mattered but Vasuman.
“We won,” I heard the roar of the man that had attacked Vasuman. “The general is dead and without a leader their troops are going down. I claim this territory for the Beasts!”
Victory screams and inhuman howls filled the air to greet his words. I was beside Vasuman, but I noticed the battle noises diminishing, that man’s words had affected the people from the Empire and I couldn’t let them win. Using my mind, I took hold of the man and I lifted him in the air, in front of his men, in front of my men, using all my strength, fueled by my pain and anger, I twisted his body, in the silence that had fallen over the battlefield after that man’s speech and then my actions, the sound of his bones breaking was loud and clear. Once I was done, I simply let him fall.
I heard a heartrending scream escape the woman’s body, some others were showing their surprise and incredulity. While they were still distracted by the Beast’s death, I took the opportunity to check Vasuman. There was so much blood, but I couldn’t believe he was dead, he couldn’t be dead! The Beasts were in a frenzy, they were attacking us with everything, but I wasn’t going to let them finish Vasuman. Come to me, I thought, if they were so eager to die, I was willing to grant their wish.
Copyright © 2014 | Kaiserin Novel