I woke up and realized that Kimball was already awake and watching me. None of us said anything, there was nothing to say. As soon as we left the bed we would be taking different roads, he was preparing for his annual visit to the Fortress. The first year, while we were with the Amazons and he decided to go visit Greca I thought it was a one time deal, but a year later he made the same trip, going as far as leaving in the middle of battle with the enemy, leaving us behind so he could see his daughter. Now for the third year in a row, he was going to her. Most of the year we were fine, but as the anniversary of her birth grew closer, I could feel his anger at me for leaving our daughter behind. Most of the time I believed that he understood that I had left her behind, not for selfish reasons, but because I loved her and wanted what was best for her, but sometimes I wondered if he believed I didn’t love her. I was sure that he didn’t understand why I couldn’t go with him to see my daughters, he thought I didn’t love them, but the truth was I couldn’t go and leave them behind again. Leaving them in the Fortress wasn’t an easy decision as Kimball thought, it had torn me apart to leave them there, but it was what I needed to do, for them.
I was going in the opposite direction, I have done the first part of our travel with him, but I was going to the Shadowlands to visit an old friend. For the last couple of years I had helped the Mzansiers to remain free, and we have even helped other nations to recover their freedom as our neighbors joined us in our fight, but it wasn’t easy. Our fight was hard and dangerous and we have faced losses. I have tried to use my visions to help us win the war, but the visions offered little help. I needed guidance for the important decisions, I needed Melchizedek’s help.
“Time to go.” Kimball broke the spell, it was time to face reality.
“We have time.”
“No, our journeys are long and we need to start them.” I have never asked him how he could infiltrate the Fortress and see our daughter, but I knew that he used the information I had given him on the Empire’s supply points to help him during his travel.
“The Shadowlands are close, my journey will be short.”
“Maybe, but mine isn’t and I need to be there on time, I can’t stay any longer.” Kimball got up and started gathering his stuff and preparing for the trip. As every year I could feel him pulling away from me. I hated the feeling, his emotional barriers going up, and my inability to tear them down.
“Will I see you in a week?”
“Yes, I will come for you in a week.”
The journey to the Shadowland was quick and I was at Melchizedek’s doorstep before night. As every time I visited him, he was already waiting for me. Melchizedek went outside to greet me, with little Mistral running to me even before I could turn off my vehicle.
“Welcome Kaiserin, we were waiting for you.” Melchizedek said. Something was missing and it took me a while to realize that the feeling of well being and calmness that I usually felt around Melchizedek wasn’t there.
“Nina! Nina! Why haven’t you visited me?” Complained little, well, not so little Mistral before hugging me.
“I’m sorry little one, I wanted to visit you, but my new home is far away and it was difficult for me to come.”
“But I missed you!” She was the same; cheerful, happy Mistral, but he had grown so much since I had seen her.
“And I missed you, very, very, very much.” I told her as I lifted her in my arms and spun her around, causing her to scream and laugh. I felt a pain in my chest, watching her, I loved Mistral, but I wished I could spend time with my daughter like I spent with her. I have seen Mistral grow up, but I wouldn’t be there for my own children, they would be warriors by the time I could see them again.
“Come inside Kaiserin, Soturi is preparing dinner. You must be hungry and tired after your trip.”
“I am, but I’m so glad to be here. I missed you all.”
I entered the little kitchen and Soturi hugged me. I spent some time playing with Mistral while Soturi finished cooking dinner. After eating I helped Soturi put MIstral in bed and then I went back to Melchizedek so we could talk. I knew something was bothering him and I needed to know what it was so I could help him.
“I know you came here because you need my help, so tell me, what can I do for you?”
“I need your advice and guidance, but not now, I know something is bothering you, what is it? Are you in trouble?”
“Don’t worry about me…”
“You always help me, every time I need you, you are there.” I interrupted him. “If there is something I can do to help you, just tell me, I would do whatever I could for you, it’s only fair after all your help.”
“I’m afraid this is not something you can help me with. There are problems in the Light Kingdom, many things have changed these past years. I’m afraid there’s a crisis coming that won’t be easy to face. The High Priests are so blinded by their positions that they don’t watch for their people anymore, the Priests are abusing their power and no one stops them. Every day innocent, desperate people are being punished for the smallest sins, more and more people is being sent here as punishment. I fear that soon the people will lose their faith and revolt against the power. There’s only so much they can endure before rebelling.”
“Is there anything you can do?”
“Not from here. I would need to be there if I wanted to help, but it’s not possible, I would be a big sinner, not a leader to be followed. My wife is a warrior and my daughter uses her power freely, those things are not accepted in the Light. We would be sent back here in no time.”
“I’m so sorry, you know I would do anything to help you, and if there is something I can do all you have to do is ask.”
“I know Kaiserin. But enough about me, you came here for a reason, and it wasn’t to listen to my problems. What can I do for you?”
“I don’t know, I don’t feel good about talking about my problems, you have enough of your own.”
“Don’t be silly Kaiserin, that’s what friends are for, to help each other. There is nothing I can do about my own problems right now, give something I can fix.”
“My visions have been confusing, hard to interpret. I’m in the middle of a war, one bigger and with more repercussions than the one between Amazons and Militaries. With that war I had the advantage of knowing what was going to happen, but not with this one, I can’t find anything to help me win the war. I need your help to find the right path.”
“As you say, this war is bigger, with more participants, and as you know, the more people involve, the more variables there are, the more paths that can grow. You can’t see every possible future, the possibilities are just too many, not one person can see it all. Plus, there is another factor that you have to consider, unlike with your fight with the Militaries, they have an advantage that put you on equal footing.”
“And what is that?”
“Your enemies have their own Seeress.” I was speechless by his revelation, that was something that I had never considered, but it actually made sense. “I have more experience than you, and my visions have taken me farther. Like I told you, your initiation as a Seeress wasn’t perceived by people in your Clan, by your echo was felt by me and other powerful Seers. I know there is person strong enough to feel your echo on the other side of the sea. We are not the only Seers, and certainly we aren’t the strongest.”
“This only complicate matters. I want this war over as soon as possible. I need peace so I can be with Kimball, so I can give him everything he wants. He has done so much for me, I need to give something back.”
“You really love him, don’t you?”
“I really do. I thought I knew what love was because of Vasuman, but now I realize it wasn’t like that. I needed Vasuman, I depended on him and I kind of loved him, but I also hated him, resented him and feared him. What I felt for him doesn’t compare with what I feel for Kimball, I don’t just love him, I’m in love with him. With Kimball everything is better, I would do anything for him, I don’t want to disappoint him. I want to help him, to make him proud of me.”
“I’m glad to hear that, and I like that he makes you so happy, but you need to remember that no matter how you feel, you need to remain true to yourself. Don’t get lost in what you think he needs, I’m sure he likes you just the way you are and you don’t have to prove anything to him. You two complement each other just the way you are.” As he talk I knew he was trying to tell me something else, there was something hidden behind his words, something I would have to think about and analyze later. “But back to your problem. We already established that more variables create more futures, and the farther into the future you go, the most paths you need to search. So what I would do is to focus on short term events.”
“You want me to have visions of the near future?”
“Yes, I believe if you focus on what will happen in days instead of weeks or months, you will face less forks in the paths. You will have less possibilities to search through. Of course it will limit the information you can gather and what you can do, you may miss the big picture, but you will have more reliable information most of the time.”
“Makes sense, I think you are right. As always you have been a great help, thanks you. Is there something else? Have you seen something in my future that I should know about?”
“I know that someday you will meet the Seeress from the other side of the world. I also know that your next visit will come faster than the last one did. I don’t know if it’s good or bad that I will see you soon, but I know that something big will happen and you will need my advice. I also know that it’s time to go to bed. I’m sure Mistral will go and wake you up at sunrise, she is eager to spend the day with you.”
Melchizedek was right, of course, little Mistral woke me up early and took me outside to show me all the wonders and treasures her young mind could find in her little world. As always it was a bittersweet experience to be with her. I loved her and her joy, but I felt guilty that I couldn’t experience the same things with my own daughters.
The goal of my visit was to find the information I needed to help the Mzansiers win the war, but the magical answers that I was looking for weren’t possible, and I couldn’t press Melchizedek for answers when I knew that he was having his own problems. So everything that I was planning on doing during my trip changed, I no longer needed to spend my time in the fog of the future, so I could relax and spent time with people I cared about. It had been a long time since I could relax like that and I realized that I needed it. It was wonderful, for two days.
“I think is time for you to go.” Melchizedek said my third day there, during breakfast. “It seems your Clan is eager to get their slaves this year and they sent their people early. If you stay here, they will realize you are here, and I know you don’t want to meet them.”
“Do you know when are they arriving?”
“You can’t leave yet, you just arrived,” Soturi protested. “It’s too soon, it’s not fair. Why don’t we send them to another route so they don’t pass through here?”
“I don’t think it will work, but if Kaiserin is willing to try…”
“No, I don’t want to cause you any more problems, you have done enough for me. I think is better if I go, it would be easy for them to realize I’m here, especially if they have telepaths with them. Do you know who is coming?”
“I don’t know her name, but it’s not our usual visitor.”
A few hours later, some hugs and many protests from Soturi and Mistral, I was on my way back. I needed to find a safe place to wait for Kimball, it was a shame that I couldn’t wait for him in the Shadowlands, I really wanted him to meet Melchizedek. But it would have to be on another occasion, Destiny had decided it wasn’t time yet for them to meet. I sent a message to Kimball to tell him about the change of plans and looked for the less traveled roads to get to the new meeting point. I was trying to avoid the Imperialists by using those roads, but it was my bad luck that they decided to do the same.
The next morning as I was lifting my camp, I felt people coming. I expanded my mind to take an inventory of what I was facing. They were still far away and it would be easy to stay out of their way, the problem was that I touched a strong telepath’s mind while doing my sweep, a mind I recognized and that recognized me. I moved faster, gathering my things and preparing to run, I knew she had recognized me and that she would be looking for me. A moment later I felt her mind trying to reach me, asking permission to talk to me, but I couldn’t, after all that time I still wasn’t ready to face any of them.
I left trying to be quiet, but it was hard to hide the noise of the engine in my vehicle, I knew of a few tricks I could use to hide the noise, but I needed my powers for other tasks. When I felt a lone soldier getting closer I decided to stop and face him. Hiding in the forest I waited until he was just a few steps away and using my mind, I grabbed him and pushing him against a tree I used some vines to tie him up.
“You shouldn’t have followed me.” I warned him.
“I have no intention to harm you, all I was doing was following you so I could talk to you.” The man was young and I guessed he didn’t know me or why they were looking for me. “Please, come back with me so we can talk.”
“No.” I was ready to go. I thought he was properly restrained so I turned my back on him, and as soon as I did it, he got free of his bindings. He was fast and he closed the distance between us in the blink of an eye. He tried to grab me, but all he could get was my psychic wall.
“I just need a few minutes of your time so you could take with my superior,” he insisted.
“Tell Echard that even if I wanted to stay and chat, I just can’t. Tell her that I’m sorry for this, but she doesn’t need to worry about me, I’m safe, I’m fine. Tell her that I can’t go back with her.”
“I was ordered to take you to her. You can tell her that yourself, we won’t hurt you.”
“You can’t hurt me even if you wanted,” I said. “You have no idea who I am. Now, let me warn you. Leave while you can, or you will regret it.”
“I have my orders, I can’t leave.” I had to admire his loyalty and perseverance, and I knew that it wouldn’t be easy to leave him behind without hurting him. I didn’t want to harm him, he was just following orders after all, but I needed to go.”
“You don’t know who you’re dealing with.” I needed to stop him, but I couldn’t use the same tactic, so instead of tying him up using vines, that I knew he could escape from, I moved the ground under him until his legs were buried. I knew that if I left, he would do his best to follow me, so I used an old trick and left an illusion behind to make him believe I was staying.
I got back to my vehicle and left. I knew the roar of the engine would alert him of my trick, but it would take him too long to break free and follow me, I would be too far away by then. I knew that I was taking a risk by returning to the Empire, it was a risk I shouldn’t be taking. Kimball needed me, and I had to be with him so I could help him.