Once the minds of the Generals went inside mine, I prepared to face Agis, I knew that he had questions, and since he also had a double mind, I knew he would be able to talk to me in a way the other couldn’t. I waited for him to start talking, to ask questions, because I knew that Agis would be the one who would have more trouble accepting the situation. But he wasn’t moving, he was deep in trance, and at first I thought that both his minds had gone inside mine, but a quick search proved that he only had one presence in my mind, which made me wonder where his other mind was.
As I was getting ready to show them the first vision, I was aware of Agis still in trance. It wasn’t until the end of the second vision that I felt that Agis was back, and was staring at me.
“We have missed you,” Agis said, breaking the silence. “We searched for you for a long time, and not only our people, other Allied Clans have looked for you. We have heard a lot of people claiming to have seen you, and it’s not always easy to tell who is telling the truth and who is lying, because a lot of people say they know where you are or where you last were.”
“I met a few people during my last visits to the Empire, a few have recognized me. But I hope you know that I’m not here to stay, I won’t go back to the Palace with you. Once I show you what I need to show you, I will be back to my life. I’m sorry, but I can’t come back here, at least not now.”
“I haven’t seen anything that explains why you have to stay away. You never cared about being the Empress, winning was just your way or showing Caracalla, and those who were against you, that you were a powerful enemy, but you never cared about power.”
“I learned the value of freedom. It wasn’t about power, it was about not letting anyone have power over me.”
The moment when I would show Agis the vision about him was getting close, and I could tell he was planning something. I was hoping that the vision was going to be enough to change his mind, but I wasn’t sure it would be. We noticed someone was getting closer to us, and Agis didn’t show surprise at the approach, until it was clear that it was Mbali who was walking our way. Mbali came armed, her guns ready to attack at any moment. At the same time the vision about Agis was playing in my mind, the man I was watching in that future looked nothing like the Agis I had grown up with, but looked a lot like the one standing in front of me.
“We have to go right now, the Imperialists are on the move. I activated some of the decoys, but those won’t keep them distracted for long. We need to leave now,” Mbali said, using one of the languages she knew they wouldn’t be able to understand. “We need to get out before the other Generals get out of the trance, I don’t think we would be able to fight them all off.”
“We won’t have to fight them all,” I said, hoping I wasn’t lying to her.
The vision was over and I could see that Agis wasn’t moved by the vision, he was set on taking me with him, and he had called backup to make sure I wouldn’t be able to escape. I wasn’t sure what his plan was, but I knew that I had to get him out of my mind, so I asked them to get out, the others did it immediately, but Agis refused to go, and I knew it was part of his plan, something I had to stop. I demanded him to leave my mind, or I would take action. For a moment Agis just stared at me, inside and outside my mind, but he finally decided to leave, knowing that I had the power to hurt him if he didn’t listen to me. His physical self was still staring at me, and I could see that the situation was affecting Mbali, who was nervous, especially when she noticed the Generals moving.
“Who is she?” Geb asked, noticing Mbali by my side, with her guns drawn and her aggressive posture.
“She is just a friend,” I said, not taking my eyes off of Agis.
“Is your friend coming with us?” Agis asked.
“We are going to go together, once we finish this talk.”
“You are coming with us,” Agis said, his tone cold and unyielding, and I was sure he was going to do his best to keep me with him.
“While I was with the Amazons, I was having visions almost constantly, and I thought about all of you a lot, but especially about you, Agis. I know you think that I don’t remember or appreciate everything you did for me, but I do. I remember that after being captured by the New World Clan I felt like a failure, the scars in my body felt like testaments to my weakness, I felt undesirable, but you show me differently and gave me back my self esteem. When my father erased my memory and sent me away, it was you who helped me recover my memories and showed me the way back. You were there for me, and because of that, I didn’t want to do anything against you after you drugged me, I felt I owed you too much, but after having vision about how the future in your hands would have been, I realized that I don’t owe you anything. I am grateful for everything you did for me, but that doesn’t mean I have to pay you for that, I never asked for your help, you gave it to me. Because of that, I have to warn you, that if you try to take me back, I will fight back, and I won’t stop, even if it means I’ll have to kill you.”
They were all silent, listening to my words, their faces were like masks and I couldn’t read what they were thinking, but I knew most of them were angry. I knew Agis was angry because I wasn’t going along with his plans, but I wasn’t sure why the others were angry, or if they were angry at me or for me.
“Kaiserin, you have to realize that your place is with your people. Besides, if you are a Seeress as you say, then we need you to work for us,” Agis tried another way of convincing me to go with him.
“There are others who also need me, people I can’t let down,” I could see Mbali’s relief smile and I wondered if she was doubting my desire to go back with her, if she was thinking I would choose the Imperialist over my new family, even after telling her I would go back and finish my mission. “I’m afraid I can’t go with you.”
I heard a wolf howling, and I knew that the wolf pack was getting closer, a pair of guards that I didn’t recognize approached the group, along with Kozlak’s guard, the zoopath that was controlling the wolves.
“What are you doing here?” Kozlak asked, not bothering to mask his anger.
“We were called by general Agis. He said that we had to come here, but the rest of the group is still checking some possible threats, they will be here as soon as they finish.”
“Agis? What are you doing?” Geb asked.
“I thought we could use the help ‘convincing’ Kaiserin to come with us.”
“I think you didn’t get the point of the visions. Didn’t you learn anything from them? You are making a big mistake here,” Inionri said. “She has the right to decide if she wants to stay or if she wants to go away. Trajan himself, you know, the Emperor, said we had to stop looking for her, I think he understood that she has the right to make any decision she wants.”
“Whose side are you?” Agis asked, mad at her.
“The question is, whose side are you?” Geb said. “This is supposed to be a reunion between friends, our chance to talk to Kaiserin and clear the air, we are not here to fight her and turn her against us.”
“We haven’t heard a lot about her these last years, but what we do know is that every time she showed herself, her actions helped our Clan. She warned us about different threats and many people agree that thanks to her intervention in the Rebels Clan’s war, we avoided a war with them. She is not our enemy.” Kozlak said.
“Her place is with us,” Agis insisted. “You can’t seriously be thinking of letting her go,” Agis said nothing, but a quick look at the guards put them on the move, changing their positions to surround us.
Kozlak also moved and made a hand signal to his guard, who stopped his advance and moved to his side, Inionri called her guard by name, and he also forgot about the attack and moved closer to her. The third one was part of Agis’ guard and kept moving. I could see Mbali bending over, holding her head with her hands, just before Agis’ guard screamed in pain, and Agis grunted in pain.
“Are you ok?” I asked Mbali.
“My head hurts, I feel like someone hit me with a bat,” she said, “but I’ll be fine, I’m sure it hurt them more than it hurt me.”
“It’s not a good idea to try and take over the minds of the mzansiers, they are hard to read and you can get a nasty headache if you try,” I warned Agis.
“Do something!” Agis said, searching the group for allies.
“Kaiserin, I would love for you to come back with us, but I think that I understand your reasons for leaving. It’s been a long time since then, and things have changed, isn’t it possible for you to come back? Don’t you think it would be different now?” Inionri asked.
“My plan has always been to come back some day, but I can’t do it now. I have responsibilities, that I can’t ignore, in my new home. I came back to help my daughter and I took the chance to see you and offer an explanation, but I need to go back and keep fighting for the freedom of the people who gave me a home when I needed one.”
Agis was losing control, he kept looking around, waiting for someone who would help him, but it was clear that no one was willing to help him with his plan. I could see that his guard was out of combat, thanks to the headache he had gotten by trying to get into Mbali’s mind, and the other guards were keeping out of the fight because of their orders. More guards arrived, and most of them were wary of us, especially with Mbali still holding her guns, ready to attack. Kozlak and the other Generals were watching the situation and it looked like they had accepted that our time together was coming to an end, especially when more guards started to arrive.
“Kaiserin, I can’t deny that the future you showed me was possible, I have wanted you for so long that I would have ignored every warning signal if that meant I could have you again. I wish I could say that I could have been different, that I would have never hurt you, but I’m flawed, and I hope you forgive me for that,” Geb said.
“Since you never got the chance to hurt me, I can’t honestly say that there’s nothing to forgive. I know that even the people who love you more, can make mistakes, and it wouldn’t be fair to punish you for something like that, I can offer you another chance. You are my friend, and I have very fond memories of you.”
“I too want to say that for a long time I didn’t understand why you left, and I have to say cousin, that for a long time I was mad at you, but all I really want is for you to be alright, and if being away it’s what’s best for you, then I won’t stop you. I just hope you can trust us more, and know that we will always welcome you back,” Kozlak said, and I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed by his words, their acceptance and love was more than I expected from the visit. I just hoped for them not to be angry at me, maybe forgiveness for my actions, but they were giving me more than that and I felt a weight I didn’t know I was carrying, lifting from my shoulders.
“You say you will come back one day, and I want you to know we will be waiting for you. You are always welcome, and not because you are a great warrior, or a Seeress, but because you are our friend and family and we love you,” Inionri said.
“You have no idea how much I appreciate your words,” I said, and couldn’t keep the smile from forming on my lips.
I was going to say something else, but I lost contact with my surroundings, I found myself in the middle of a battlefield, watching Inionri surrounded by her warriors, walking to the enemy that seemed already defeated. I watched the scene moving and I didn’t need a trip to the fog to know that it was something that could be changed. The vision ended and I realized that during my vision a lot had happened around me. I could see Agis, standing closer to me, holding his arm, with blood dripping from a wound on his shoulder. It didn’t take much to guess that Mbali had shot him, but I also noticed that his legs were being held by the earth around them, and Kozlak was standing next to him, his stance threatening.
“Are you ok?” Inionri asked, she was closer to me, but luckily for her, she wasn’t close enough to activate my defense, the one that used to protect myself while I was having a vision, something they had no idea about because no one else I knew used something like that.
“A battle doesn’t end until the last minute, even a defeated enemy can still cause damage,” I said, using a voice that reminded me of what my grandmother used to call her Seeress’ voice.
“What?” Inionri asked, confused, but I could tell that as soon as she asked the question, she understood what I was talking about. “Did you have a vision about me? What was it about?”
“Just remember my words, someday they could help you. I’m afraid I don’t have more time, I have to go back to my life. I’m really sorry about everything, especially about leaving you again, and I hope that at least now you understand why I left and forgive me for everything I have done.”
I didn’t wait for an answer, I just walked away, with Mbali by my side, still alert, covering my back, even if it wasn’t necessary. Most of them had already proved that I could trust them. I knew Agis was an exception, but at least I knew that when I decided to go back, I would have some allies by my side. All I had left to do before going back to Mzansi, was talking to my brother and make sure everything was ok in the Empire. It didn’t matter if I had moved on and I had another family and another goal in life, the people from the Empire was still my people and I still felt responsible for them.