I couldn’t sleep that night, I knew that whatever happened that day would define the rest of my time in that place. I needed to make sure that no one had any reason to doubt my loyalty and my motivations. I took the cape, letting it envelope me and feeling Kimball with me despite the distance. I wondered how he was, how Ethan was. It might have been normal to be nervous, because, even if the possibility of failure was insignificant, it was still there, and I couldn’t afford to fail.
I went up to the garden and walked to one of the corners, there I found Sofia, sitting on a bench, surrounded by flowers, under the shadow of the trees. I couldn’t see anyone else outside, but that didn’t mean that we weren’t being watched, so I didn’t try to greet her or show any sign of knowing her, I just walked past her and sat on the bench opposite hers. I noticed the bouquet of flowers in her hands, she kept re-arranging them until she found a combination that worked for her.
“You’re right on time,” she said without looking up. “This is the beginning of the end.”
“It’s good to see you face to face, after all the time we have shared in the fog. You know what it’s about to happen, right? Your daughter sent me.”
“My daughter is tired of me, even if I had done everything she has asked of me, I can’t help but try to make her see reason, and that’s something she can’t forgive me for. Her husband and her are willing to do anything to keep me quiet.”
“I know, they sent me to kill you.”
“You are not the first one they send, they started arriving a few days ago, but you know how it is, no one can kill a Seer before time. So far my visions have protected me.”
“But you have to run out of luck sooner or later, right?”
“That’s right, and that’s why you are here. Are you ready to do your part?” Sofia was looking at me with confidence, without fear, and even if we both knew that we were playing a charade for her daughter’s benefit, the risks were there, and the consequences for failure were high. I expected fear and doubt, but got nothing.
‘You know what you have to do?’ I asked using telepathy, I couldn’t let people hear the rest of our conversation.
‘The only way I can keep going is by dying,’ she answered the same way. ‘My daughter won’t stop until I’m gone, and all I can do is grant her wish, at least for the moment. I know you have a way to help me with this.’
‘I do. Kimball gave me a drug that will make it look as if you’re dead. The effects last long enough for your funeral and burial to take place. Once it’s all done, a group of warriors that I fully trust, including Kimball, will take you out of the crypt and take you to a safe place. No one will be able to find you.’
‘It sounds perfect, but I need to ask for one more favor. As you know, my youngest son, William, is being held by my daughter. His only purpose is to keep me in line, and I’m afraid that once I’m gone, my daughter won’t have a reason to keep him alive. Can you save him?’
‘What do your visions tell you?’ I asked. I knew she was stronger than me as a Seeress, she knew the future better than anybody.
‘My visions tell me that you will help me, that you will save my son and bring him to me. My visions tell me that during the next few months you will save a lot of lives. But as you know, there are many paths, and you can still choose a different path, you can refuse to help me, but as we both know, that’s not in your nature.’
‘Once we do this, we can’t go back. Are you ready?’
“I’m ready. I have been waiting for this moment for a long time. I’m happy we finally meet, you are a good person Kaiserin, and I know we will be good friends.’ Sofia let the bouquet of flowers on the bench beside her and put her hands on her lap, she looked at me and smiled, looking regal and proud. There was no way you could mistake her for anything but a Queen.
“Are you smiling in the face of death?” I asked out loud, knowing that someone would hear my voice.
“I’m ready, I have nothing left, I failed as a mother and I failed as a Queen. It’s time to leave my failures behind.”
I got up from my seat and stood in front of Sofia, she didn’t move, she didn’t show fear, thinking I wouldn’t hurt her. The problem was that it was a show, and I had to make it believable or people would suspect. I had to kill her, those were my orders, and I needed to make it look like I was following them.
“It was a pleasure to meet you, I’m glad that I got to see the face of the woman that made it possible for my former enemy to conquer the four continents. I have to thank you for that, now my position will be even better because of you.”
Before she could say anything, before she could even react, I modified my cape to extend it like a rope, a rope that coiled around her neck. Her hands went to her neck, trying to take the rope off, while she tried to breathe. At the same time that I was choking her, I took the venom that Kimball had given me and using my powers, I injected it into her. I wasn’t sure if she even realized that I had injected her, she was too busy trying to breathe, but I knew the moment it started working. Once I made sure that her fear was real and that anyone who was looking at us wouldn’t suspect anything, I let the rope get a little loose, while continuing with the charade. After a few minutes I let her body fall to the bench. Other than the marks on her neck, it was almost as if she was sleeping. People looking at her would think that the former Queen was taking a nap under her favorite tree’s shadow.
I stayed by her side for a couple of minutes, making sure that there was nothing that could betray her real state. I knew that even a doctor would have a hard time realizing she was not really dead, and every sign pointed to a murder. I finally decided to go back to the Palace. As soon as I got away from here, a young maid went to check on Sofia, her bloodcurling scream, by the pain I could hear I knew that she was someone that loved Sofia very much, and I knew that the news of Sofia’s death would spread fast.
Using my powers I found the place where Emily was and went to her. She was having breakfast, the table before her full with all kinds of food. From the door or the room I saw how she only took a couple of bites from each plate, as if she was making sure that no one else could take any of them. I was sure that people from the kitchen would care about that, and would get advantage of all the food she didn’t take, it was just too much to throw away. My thoughts went to all the people I had seen the day before, hungry people, starving people, and I hated Emily a little more. All that opulence, all the food she was wasting while her people was dying was despicable.
“What are you doing here so early?” Emily asked after a while. “Do you have more questions about my mother?”
“I took care of your mother this morning. I just thought you would like to know that, I’m sure you have a lot of things to do, a funeral to plan, eulogies to practice…”
“It’s done?” For a moment I wasn’t sure what to think, the wave of emotions getting out of Emily was too strong, and I was sure I could feel pain in it. “I didn’t think you were so efficient, maybe you will be a good asset after all.”
“When I was leaving the gardens I heard a commotion, so I guess they already found her body. I did my part, your mother won’t bother you any more.” I remembered the morning, and I couldn’t help but smile at the memory of Sofia’s look of surprise when I was choking her. “While I was choking her, I could see her thoughts, she was thinking of one person. I didn’t know you had a brother.”
“William? Yes, I have a younger brother, but not for much longer. A few days ago I asked my people to lock him in the basement and leave the mansion where he was living. There’s no one there to help him out, he will die in a few days.”
“Your mother had visions about that, and there’s two possible futures. In one your brother dies alone and forgotten, but in the other, someone goes back to help him and hides him from you. Your mother was comforted by the thought that he would survive. If you want me to, I can go and make sure he dies.” I was lying about the visions, Sofia didn’t say anything and I haven’t had a vision about him, but I needed to find the place where he was hidden and save him. I couldn’t let Sofia’s son to die like that.
“Maybe it would be a good idea if you go take care of him, I can’t trust those idiots not to make a mistake and let William get a friend, I can’t let anyone save him,” I tried to read her emotions and her thoughts, and for a moment I felt like she was almost hoping that someone had saved him, but then her feelings and thoughts changed and I was sure she was afraid that he could survive and come back to claim the throne she considered hers. “Go to your room and prepare,” she ordered. “I will send you the information about the place where my brother is so you can take care of him. It’s better if we make sure there are no loose ends. I can’t allow anything to put my place as Queen at risk.”
“As you wish, it will be my pleasure to get rid of him. I like the idea of taking Sofia’s last hope.” Emily smiled at my words, as if the idea of hurting her mother was something that brought her happiness. The woman was crazy, and I wondered how much it was just her, and how much it was Faakhir’s influence.
“Maybe you and I could get along after all, as long as you follow my orders and keep your distance from my husband.”
I got out of the room, leaving Emily with her breakfast. I was feeling uncomfortable with her last words. Faakhir’s interest was obvious and I needed to find a way to stay away from him, I couldn’t let him take advantage of me. I arrived at my room and took the phone that Kimball have given me. After using my powers to make sure that there were no cameras or microphones in the room and making a psychic bubble that would stop all sound from getting out, I called Kimball. I needed to tell him what had happened, and I needed his help to rescue Sofia and William.
“How are you?” He asked as soon as the call connected. “Have you had any problems?”
“I took care of Sofia, I used the venom you gave me and it seems to be working perfectly. Are you sure no one will notice anything wrong?”
“No one has any reason to suspect anything, everyone in the Palace knows that Emily wants Sofia dead, and if you played the charade right, then there is no reason to question her death. I have everything ready, from the blueprints I found a way to enter and exit the crypt without being noticed. No one will ever suspect that Sofia is not there.”
“We have another problem. Sofia asked me to save her son, and Emily gave me the green light to go and kill him. I’m not sure yet how to do it, but I will need help. I need to go for him as soon as possible, or he will be dead by the time I arrive.”
“I thought you would be in Capital city to help extract Sofia.”
“I don’t think it will be possible, my priority right now is getting to William. I think he is at risk at the moment. Is everything ready at Aquarium?”
“It is. I just got a message from them, our orders were received and they are preparing the place for Sofia’s arrival. As soon as I can get to them again, I will tell them about William.”
“As soon as I get information about Williams whereabout I will send you a message so you can send backup, if you can send someone with medical knowledge, from what Emily said, he sill be starved and dehydrated.”
“Let me know when you have the information,” Kimball said before ending the call.
I wasn’t planning on going to rescue William, so I needed to take a moment and plan. I wasn’t prepared for a new rescue mission so soon after dealing with Sofia. I had to adapt fast, and I was only starting, my new life would keep me on my toes.