It took me only a few seconds to notice that I wasn’t alone anymore. I felt nostalgic as I remembered the occasion my father would visit me in my dreams, to speak to me from the distance and in private. Knowing that I had a visitor I prepared my mental landscape accordingly, conjuring a table and a couple of chairs. I took a chair and waited for my visitor. A mental representation of my visitor took form in front of me and took the seat opposite to mine.
“Hello Trajan, I didn’t think I would get to see you again.”
“Hello Kaiserin. I have to say, it hasn’t been easy to find you.” My brother answered. I could feel his power trying to search my mind, but my power kept his at bay, showing him only what I wanted him to see. “I was told you were in trouble, your friends told me you were attacked and taken from their territory. We have done our best to find you.”
“Is that why the Amazons have been looking for me? What a waste, they have nothing to worry about, I did have an accident and was hurt, but I assure you, I’m not doing anything against my will.”
“They also told me you have been considering going back to the Empire. So tell me where you are, so we can go for you. I know you are close, or I wouldn’t have been able to reach your mind, tell me where and I will take you back home.”
“I’m sorry brother. Believe me, I know that the way I acted was wrong, but I have my reasons, and those reasons prevent me from going back to the Empire even if I wanted.”
“Dammit Kaiserin!” A wave of energy filled my mind, a clear sign of Trajan’s anger. “You can’t disappear for years and just say you had reasons for doing what you did. I deserve an explanation! I’ve been fearing the worst, I’ve done my best to find you, and I don’t understand why you are acting like this.”
“Please, believe me when I say that it’s best for both the Clan and myself if I stay away. If I return, it will cause problems among the members of the Clan, and at the end, we would all lose, especially me.”
“It doesn’t matter what problems you have, together we can solve them, you can trust us. You can trust me. I promise that I will do anything to keep you safe.”
“I know, and that’s the problem.” I knew it was dangerous to talk to him, Trajan knew me, and he was smart, every word was a clue he could use to solve the mystery and uncover my secret, but I couldn’t send him away, not yet, I had missed him so much, I had to take what I could. “Trajan, I hope you know how much I care for you and how important you are to me, and that someday you can forgive me. I made many mistakes, but I was trying to do the right thing.” I took his hand, or the mental representation of it, between my hands. “I know I’m asking for too much, but please, you have to let me go, you have to let me live.”
“I don’t understand Kaiserin, I can’t understand why you don’t want to come back. You have to come back, the throne is yours, you earned it, you deserve it.”
“You are doing a wonderful job, brother. The Clan doesn’t need me, neither do you.”
“No Trajan, just let things be, don’t insist, because I can’t go back.”
“When you disappeared, I was so afraid, we thought the worst, that maybe Lamia and Pedres had a backup plan, that maybe you were dead. Can you imagine my surprise when Rex arrived and told us that you were alive? And not only that, you were with the Amazons, our enemies, and not against your will, but because you wanted to be there. Why?
“Lamia’s actions showed me that I couldn’t trust anyone, and that I wasn’t safe, not even from my own family. But that’s not the reason I left, let’s say that maybe I found out that the problems in the north would affect the Empire, and I wanted to do something to stop that. You can win some battles outside of the battlefield.”
“Yeah, Feldem told us something about that, she had a vision that the Rebel Clans were going to attack, and that thousand of lives would be lost during the war. We are still waiting for that to happen. There are some theories about it, some say that you being with the Amazons have something to do with the fact that no attack has come. So let me ask. What did you promise Alkaia for not attacking us?”
“The promise that her daughter would be the greatest queen in Amazons’ history. I got to train her during my stay there.”
“So you didn’t stop the war, you just bought us some time.”
“You don’t have to worry about Molpadia, she won’t attack the Empire, as long as you don’t attack her.”
“If the rumors are true, then she will obey whatever you say, if you come back as Empress we could have the Amazons under our control, as part of the Empire.”
“I told you already, I can’t to back.”
“But you didn’t give me a valid reason for that. Let’s say that I buy your claim that you went there because your friend the Seer told you about the coming war and you wanted to do something to stop it. What is stopping you for coming back now? Is there another threat that you want to stop by yourself? Another stupid sacrifice you’re willing to make?”
“There’s no new danger that I know of, but if there was then I would do whatever I could to stop it. What I know is that if I go back nothing good will happen.”
“Kaiserin, you are making no sense. You haven’t really explained anything, you haven’t given me a good reason for staying away. I don’t care what you have been told, we are waiting for you, we will welcome you with open arms and we will protect you.”
“You are asking for the impossible. I can’t and won’t go back. I want to tell you why, but I can’t, it would be dangerous for me to do that.”
“You can’t know that, you can’t know what will happen if you come back.”
“You are wrong, I know.” As soon as I said that I knew I had made another mistake. The thing about mental conversations is that inside your mind you cannot lie. You can bend the truth, but not change it. I could see in Trajan’s mental projection that my words were ringing bells. He wanted the truth and was going to find it.
“What are you afraid of?” I could feel his power pressing the walls on my mind, trying to see what I was hiding from him. “You told me once that there was just one thing you couldn’t survive, and that was being under someone else’s control. As Empress that is something you don’t have to worry about, so…”
“Do you really care about me? Do you really want what’s best for me?” Trajan was smart, and he knew me, he was getting close. “Keep being the Emperor, keep ruling our people justly. I will be fine, I will be in a place, far away from here, where you won’t be able to reach me. I don’t want you to waste your time looking for me, you won’t find me.”
“You are hiding something, there’s something you are not telling me, and I won’t stop until you do.”
“If I tell you that, it will be bad for me. Believe me, if my secret gets out, then I will be in a greater danger that I have ever been.”
“Kaiserin, help me understand what is going on.” I could see and feel his frustration, and I understood, I was getting frustrated myself, but for different reasons.
“I’m grateful for your worry for me, and I don’t want you to think that I don’t appreciate it, and everything else you have done for me, but I can’t go back, that is a risk I cannot take.” Before I could react Trajan’s power invaded my mind, breaking walls and searching my mind, but I was able to stop him before he could see something relevant. I sealed my mind and locked us in a room where we were alone, alone with my pain chest.
“What are you hiding from me?” Despite seeing the chest and knowing what was locked inside, he wasn’t ready to back down.
“You can’t know my secret, because if it gets out I will be in a greater danger than I was when Caracalla put a price on my head, there will be more people trying to get to me, but they will have the advantage of knowing my weakness. There is no point in this conversation, we are just going in circles. I have to ask you to leave me alone. Stop looking for me, and don’t try to follow me.”
“You are my only sister, you are the only family I have. I can’t just stop worrying about you. I won’t pressure you, if you are not ready to talk, I will respect that, but I hope you change your mind and come back. Take care little sister. I hope you find the peace you are looking for.”
Trajan’s mental projection disappeared, and I felt him leave my mind. I didn’t want him to go, but it was for the best. The problem was that he had a lot of information that could lead him to discover my secret. I just hoped that even if he discovered I was a Seeress he wouldn’t tell the rest of the Clan. After talking with Trajan, I felt like I had finally cut the last of my connections with my old Clan.
In just a few days we were going to be with Kimball’s people. I was going to start a new adventure. I was leaving to a territory I knew nothing about, a place that until I had met Kimball I didn’t even know existed. I was going to be at a disadvantage there, despite Kimball teaching me his language, I still had a lot to learn.
I had taken a lot of risks in my life, but going with Kimball was the bigger, even bigger than going to the Amazons. But it was the best option, I preferred the unknown of Kimball’s world, than the certainty of staying and ending up as a prisoner in the Palace, under the control of the Emperor in turn.
By the time Kimball woke up I was ready to continue our travel. I knew that Kimball wasn’t in a hurry and wanted to stretch the journey as much as he could, but I needed to go away. Even if Trajan had said that he was going to leave me alone, I wasn’t sure he would stop looking for me, especially if he figured out my secret. We needed to go, and fast.
I knew that I was acting like a coward, but after all I had to survive during in Sector 32, I felt justified in wishing never to repeat the experience. By leaving with Kimball I felt like I was going to be fine. I had promised myself never to be under someone else’s control, but even if I was going to depend on Kimball once we arrived to his territory, I knew that it was going to be different that my previous experiences, Kimball wouldn’t try to make me submit to him, he wasn’t looking to control me or use me, he was trying to protect me, but letting me be myself at the same time.
Despite the risks I was taking by putting myself in Kimball’s hands, I knew that I was making the right decision.