Emily gave me the information I needed to get to William and assigned two guards to go with me. She said that they were there to help me, but I knew that they were there to keep an eye on me. They were her spies, making sure I did what I was told to do. I knew their presence was going to complicate things.
Both of them seemed to know the way, so I let them drive and concentrated on the route and the landscape. The mansion where William was being held was in the middle of the woods, far away from any town. It was designed so no one would arrive there by mistake, you had to know where you were going if you wanted to go there. It wasn’t easy to get there, we first had to take a plane, then a chopper and finally a 4×4.
My first impression was that it was a beautiful place, but I knew the secrets hidden in its walls, and that ruined the illusion. When the vehicle stopped I got out and used my powers to start my search. I connected to the building and mapped it out. I got a good idea of where I needed to go, but when the guards started moving as if they knew the way, I decided to follow them, it was possible they had been there before.
In just a few minutes we arrived at the basement door. One of them started climbing down the stairs and I followed him, the other guard was behind me. I started to worry, their emotions were very negative and I was afraid it had something to do with me. Once we reached the end of the stairs, I moved deeper into the basement, while they stayed behind. I realized what had shocked them, there was a body covered in rats, rats that were so focused on their meal that hadn’t ran away when we turned the lights on. I feared that we were too late, but then I felt another mind. On the other side of the basement, behind bars, was another body, locked in a tiny cell. I got closer, I needed to check if it was William.
The man wasn’t what I was expecting. From what Sofia had said, and what I had listened from Emily’s mind, I knew he would be in a bad shape, but I had no idea how bad. After a few days without food, I was expecting a thin, starving man, but the figure before me told a different story. From the gaps on his clothes, I could see his bones protruding, his face was hollow and he had bags under his eyes. He looked more like a man that hadn’t had a good meal in weeks, not just a few days. His pasty skin looked like it hadn’t received sunshine in a long time, weeks, maybe months. His long, shaggy hair gave him a wild look.
I knew he was still alive because I had felt his mind when I entered the basement, but I couldn’t feel it anymore. Using my mind, I dragged the mattress closer to me, and getting my hand between the bars, I touched him, for other it would look as if I was looking for his pulse, but I was connecting with him. I looked for his energy, usually, when I did that was to take it, but what I needed was to give him some. Taking was easy, it was part of the nature of the power, but giving required great effort on my part. I concentrated in giving him enough energy to keep him alive a little bit longer. I didn’t need my powers to know that he was at his limit, he wouldn’t survive another day without help. I got up, using the bars to support me, and also to connect to the cell and open the locks. I was careful to keep the door closed so the guards wouldn’t suspect anything, but all it needed to open up was a little push.
“It seems this trip was a waste of time,” I said, as if I was thinking out loud, but I needed the guards to hear me. I took the phone out, the one Faakhir had given me, and dialed Emily to tell her my findings.
“Did you get rid of him already?” She said as soon as she answered.
“It seems that your mother’s hopes were unfounded, someone did try to help him, but he died before he could get him out. We found two bodies in the basement, one of them have been dead for a while, the rats already took care of most of him, the other, I guess your brother, has been dead for a little while. Do you want me to leave hi for the rats? Or should we bury him?” Emily was quiet for a long time, and I thought that maybe she had left, but then she took a deep breath, as if she had reached a difficult decision.
“I want you to burn the place,” she finally said. “I don’t have any use for the mansion, and it would be better to get rid of the evidence. Don’t stay there after the fire starts, I don’t want any of you there if someone goes to investigate.
“It will be my pleasure.” I knew the guards were watching me, so I needed to think fast. “The Queen wants us to burn this place. From what I saw, it won’t be hard to do. We should get out of here.”
“I can go back to the hangar and bring some gasoline,” one of them offered. “That way it will be faster to set the fire.”
“It won’t be necessary, all I need is a small flame and I will take care of the rest.” The guards exchanged a look, but they didn’t contradict me.
When we got out of the place both guards were watching me. They were expecting me to walk through the room setting the fire, not to take them to the outside of the building, they were thinking I was going to blow my responsibilities. They were partly right, I wasn’t going to do what Emily wanted, I needed to find a way to take William out of the mansion before setting the fire. Luckily, by giving William some of my energy, I had created a temporary connection between us. I took the lighter that one of them offered and used my powers to connect to the little flame, at the same time that I strengthened my connection to William. It was an advantage that no one knew about my double mind, it allowed me to do things like that without suspicion.
One of my minds was focused on the flame, I controlled it and made it move to the door of the mansion, once it caught fire, I made the flames dance and move, taking more and more, feeding on the building, devouring it like a starving animal. Using my powers I moved it inside and outside, making it grow. Soon, the mansion was burning, the fire trying to escape through the windows and the doors, the flames illuminating the place that was cast in shadows because of the smoke covering the sun. The heat was so strong that the guards had to move back, their skin already red because of the fire.
My other mind was focused on saving William. I used our connection to feel his body and move him through the mansion. While I was walking out of the mansion I made sure to clear a route for him to get out, opening the kitchen door, that was on the opposite side of where my guards and I were standing. While one mind was directing the fire, making sure it stayed clear of William, the other was moving him through the building until he was safe, outside the mansion and far away from the fire. Once I was sure he was out of danger, I cut my connection to the fire and let it run free, I let it consume the mansion and get rid of all evidence of William’s life.
“I think that is enough, we have to leave.” I didn’t wait for them, I started my way back to the car. A few minutes later I felt more people around us, the cavalry had arrived, and just in time too. After giving some of my energy to William, and then using my powers to take him out of the mansion and set it on fire, I was exhausted, and my head was feeling the first signs of a psychic headache, which would be a very dangerous thing to happen to me among enemies.
I got my other phone out, the one Kimball had given me to talk to him and the other mzansiers. It looked just like the one Faakhir had given me, so I expected the guards to think that I was talking to the Dominion. I sent a message to Mbali, she was in charge of the recovery squad, I told her where she could find William, and also how bad he was, and that he needed medical attention as soon as possible. Once we arrived at the hangar and got into the helicopter, I sent Emily a message to let her know I had done my part, that the mansion was on fire, and that nothing would remain but ashes.
Once we were in the air, I could see the fire over the top of the trees. With the intensity I suspected it would extend to the forest around the mansion, unless the mzansiers did something to stop it. I didn’t care what happened to the place, all I cared was that they could save William. I couldn’t say that I was surprised by the way Emily had treated him, I knew how feeble blood ties could be. My half-brother had tortured me, so I knew that even if two people shared the same blood, it didn’t mean they shared the same beliefs. My mother and her siblings showed it was possible to get along, but their relationship was based on respect and fear. Emily and Caracalla were different, they cared more about their ambition than their families.
Once we arrived at the airport, I left my guards and made my way back to Mzansi. I needed some time for myself, and I needed Kimball. Finding William, and setting the fire on the mansion had affected me, I needed to calm down, I needed to center myself, I needed my family, a reminder of why I needed to do what I was doing, why I had to put myself in a situation where I could be haunted by my past. I knew that Kimball would make it better, he would drive the nightmares away and tell me that everything was going to be ok, that together we could face anything.
While I was traveling, I got a call from Faakhir, he asked me where I was going, but I reminded him that I had a country to rule. He wasn’t happy with my answer, he wanted me back at Capital city, he wanted me with him. I knew that sooner or later I had to go there, but first I needed Kimball, and I needed to go to Aquarium to make sure that both Sofia and William were fine. I needed to make sure that William would get over what happened to him at the mansion. I felt responsible for him, he was under my protection and I had to make sure he was alright. I wasn’t going to let anyone hurt him again, Faakhir and Emily wouldn’t be able to touch him again.