Victoria was moving closer to me, but I didn’t know what she intended to do, I needed to be safe, so I put a psychic wall between us so she couldn’t get to me.
“What’s this?” Victoria was surprised when she felt the wall.
“What are you doing here? I wasn’t expecting you.” Unlike the Mzansiers, Victoria’s mind lacked protection, I could read it, and I intended to take advantage of that fact.
“We are here because my husband has been working with Paki. We were just about to go back when we heard about the attack to the Villa where you were recovering, and then we found out that a plane from there was coming our way and we decided to wait and see what we could find out. We thought maybe you could explain what happened to Kimball and why he almost died.” Her words surprised me, I expected Kimball to be dead by then, after the hours of flight I was sure he was gone, the little cuts were enough for him to bleed to death. If he was still alive, he would be mad with pain.
I felt conflicted for a second, my first reaction to hearing he was alive, was relief, I didn’t want to be the cause of his death, because despite everything I loved him, but I couldn’t forgive or forget his betrayal. I also felt afraid, because if I had learned something is that men in my life were possessive bastards, if Kimball was alive, he was going to come after me. I couldn’t risk that, I needed to be gone before he could trap me again and turn me into his slave.
“Kaiserin, my dear, are you alright?” Victoria tried to move closer, she tried to grab my hand, but I kept my defense.
“I won’t go back, I can’t go back.”
“What do you mean dear?”
“I won’t go back to that prison, I won’t let you lock me away. I won’t let you!”
“What are you talking about dear? I don’t understand…
“Kimball was holding me prisoner! He knew it would tear me apart, but he didn’t care, he locked me up and took my powers away and left me at the mercy of those two. I wanted to get out, and no one would let me go.”
“Oh, Kaiserin! There must be a mistake, Kimball would never do anything…” She didn’t finish her thought, I saw the moment she understood what had happened. “It was you,” she whispered.
“I wanted to get free, I wanted to get out, but they wouldn’t let me. I just want to go away, and I won’t let anyone stop me!” I added the last part as a threat, even if I was surrounded by the enemy I was sure that I would be able to fight my way to freedom, I wasn’t going to let anyone stop me, not even them.
”Go, go and don’t come back.” Victoria turned and called one of the guards. “Prepare a boat and take her to wherever she wants to go.” She turned back to me. “She will take you to the Empire. I don’t know what happened between you and my son, but I don’t care. All I care is that my son is fighting for his life and it’s your fault. Maybe you were justified, maybe don’t, but I don’t want you anywhere near me, or I will do something I’ll regret.” I could feel her confusion, she didn’t want to acknowledge that his son could do something to harm me, but at the same time she believed that I wouldn’t do anything to him unless I had very good reasons to do it. I could feel her fury, but I wasn’t sure if it was directed at me or not.
“That’s all I want, to go away. If Kimball survives, please tell him to stay away, I really don’t want to hurt him, don’t let him make me.” I felt and saw the pain in her face.
“Have a safe trip, and good luck.” Victoria walked away, and I felt better, I didn’t want anything reminding me of Kimball.
Following her orders, a boat was ready to take me to the Empire in a few minutes, but I wasn’t sure of what they could do, I didn’t feel safe with the crew piloting the boat, so as soon as we were at sea, I put them in one of the lifeboats and sent them back. I knew they could make it back safely, and I knew it would take them time, I would be away and safe by the time they could think of coming after me.
I was tired, and once the adrenaline left my body I realized I hadn’t slept or ate in a long time. The boat had enough food for me to survive a few days, so I ate until I was full and took the rest for my trip. Sleep I couldn’t get, as soon as I closed my eyes the nightmares attacked me, I felt lonely and frightened, and I hated myself because every time a nightmare woke me, I looked for Kimball, wanting his protection.
The boat was fast and it didn’t take long to reach the Empire. I left the boat, I knew that Victoria or another Mzansier would send someone to retrieve it soon. I needed a safe place to spend the night, and even if it was hours until sunset, I started searching for a safe place. I used my powers to help me build a refuge, a hidden place where my enemies wouldn’t find me. I was so tired that I fell asleep despite trying to stay awake, I didn’t remember my dreams, but my body was tense and I didn’t feel rested, so I knew the nightmares had arrived again.
There was an Empire warehouse near the place I had arrived, so it was easy to secure a vehicle to transport me to the Shadowlands. I was eager to get there, I felt that if I could reach Melchizedek everything would be alright, he always knew what to do, and I needed someone I could trust, someone to help me.
I was tired, worried and desperate, the journey was spent on dark thoughts and regrets, not focusing on a single idea, just letting everything wash over me. I needed to reach Melchizedek, I needed his advice and comfort to calm my mind and heal my soul, to make me forget Kimball’s betrayal. I was so distracted that I didn’t see the little girl in the middle of the road until I was almost over her, I had to use my reflexes and powers to stop the vehicle before I ran over her.
“What the hell were you thinking!” I yelled at Mistral as I got out of the vehicle. “I could have hurt you!”
“No, you couldn’t. I would have moved out of the way Nina.” She calmly said.
“That’s true,” I had to admit that with her powers, it was easy for her to move away from danger. “Still, you have to be careful. And shouldn’t you come and greet me properly after scaring me half to death?”
“I’m sorry Nina.” She ran to my stretched arms with her usual happiness and hugged me as if her life depended on it. “Nina? Can I ask you a favor?”
“You know you can ask me for anything. I will do whatever I can for you.”
“You promise?” She insisted.
“What do you need?”
“I need you to take my powers away.” For a moment I thought I had misunderstood her, but I couldn’t deny her words.
“Why would you want me to take your powers away?!”
“Because my father needs to help people, and he can’t if I have my powers.”
“You have no idea what you are asking for. Your powers are a part of you, I can’t take them away without taking a part of you away.”
“But you can take them away.” She looked happy knowing I could ruin her life. “You promised, you said you would help me. My father can’t go to the Light Kingdom as long as I have my powers, but if I lose them, then we can go and my father can be a High Priest again.”
“But if you go I won’t be able to see you again.” I had gone there looking for a safe heaven, but if Melchizedek and his family left, I wouldn’t have a place to stay. “It’s not only your powers, I would have to take your memories of your life here away.” She had no idea how painful it was to lose your memories, she didn’t know how painful it would be for me to know that she wouldn’t even remember me. I had lost so much, I didn’t want to lose her too.
“But you promised to help, besides, you were the one to tell me that the fate of many is more important that the fate of one.” I felt sick when she repeated the words my mother had taught me, the ones I had repeated to her.
“Let’s go to your house and talk to your parents before making any decisions.”
“But I don’t want them to know, they will feel guilty, and I don’t want them to, I’m doing this for them.” I was surprised by how grown up she sounded, but with parents like her I should have expected it.
“We need to go anyway, we will talk more about this later.” She wasn’t happy, but she got into the vehicle and together we went to Melchizedek’s.
We arrived at their house and I was surprised when he wasn’t there to greet us, things had to be very bad for him not to realize I was at his doorstep, he usually knew when I was going to arrive and was prepared for it. When Mistral guided me to the inside of the house both Soturi and Melchizedek seemed surprised by my presence.
“Time flies, I knew you were coming, but I didn’t realize it would be so soon.” Melchizedek hugged me and I let myself drown in his arms, seeking comfort and calmness, and receiving just a small part of it, his powers weren’t working as usual.
“I hope it’s ok for me to be here, I don’t want to intrude.”
“Don’t worry, is a pleasure to have you with us,” Soturi took her turn hugging me. She looked happy to see me and I felt better about being there.
“My Nina is going to help me lose my powers so we can go to the Light,” Mistral announced with the innocence of her youth.
“What?!” Soturi was shocked by the announcement.
“That’s not necessary little one,” Melchizedek said.
“Yes, it is. You said that we couldn’t leave because if people saw me using my powers we would be sent back, but if my Nina takes them away, I won’t make mistakes and we will be able to stay there and help people.”
“I knew we couldn’t keep it from her, she was going to find out sooner or later,” Soturi said. “Can you really do it?” She asked me.
“I can do it, but I’m not sure I should.”
“But you promised.” Mistral protested again.
“Powers are part of us, by taking them away I’m taking a part of you away.” I remembered my youth, not being able to have full access to my powers, then I remembered the last few weeks and wearing the power suppressor, both were painful memories, and something I didn’t wish on anyone, especially not sweet, little Mistral.
“I know we are going through a difficult situation, but I don’t want to ask of you something that will be painful to you,” Melchizedek told me, “and Mistral, there are some things, that even if they are possible, they are not right. I think that what you are asking for could cost us all more than we can pay.”
“You don’t trust me enough to just not use my powers, that’s why I need to lose them completely, and no one can help me with that but my Nina, she can do it all. If I don’t do this, then a lot of people will suffer, you said so, you need to go back to help people, and you can’t go back because of me, I can’t be the reason people suffer.”
“My daughter, you have no idea how proud I am of you, but what you are offering is too much, you don’t have to do this,” Soturi took her daughter in her arms and I felt the love flowing between them.
“I want to help, and this is the only way I know how,” Mistral insisted.
“Will you do it?” Soturi asked me.
“I know how to do it, because it was done to me, but it won’t be easy and the consequences could be worse than you think. Powers are related to memories, by suppressing memories you can erase the knowledge of how to use powers. That doesn’t mean she can’t find another way of using them, it only makes it harder. The process is long and difficult.”
“If there’s something we can do to help the process along, we will.” Soturi said.
“Are you sure about this?” Melchizedek asked. “If you are here now, it’s because you have problems with Kimball. I don’t want our problems and requests to put a heavier burden upon your shoulders. We would understand if you can’t do this.”
“No, it’s ok, if you need me to do it, I will. If this is the only way I can help you, then I have to do it. You are always helping me, it’s time I repay the favor, no matter how difficult the task.”
None of them could understand how difficult Mistral’s request was, they didn’t know how many wounds would open on my soul after recreating the worst part of my past so soon after Kimball’s betrayal, but I owed them. I couldn’t fail them, they were the only ones who I was sure would never betray my trust. I had put my trust in many people who didn’t deserve it, but it was different with Melchizedek and his family, they were true, they would help me through anything if I asked.