My assignment had been an easy one, I had just gone to talk to Sofia’s loyal guard in his prison cell, then faked his death, taken him to a safe place, and then talked to Sofia to ask where she had sent the jewels that Emily wanted, and she had given me all the information I needed. Most of the jewelry that I found was hundred of years old, and Sofia had thought that someone like Emily didn’t deserve them, she had taken them away, thinking of using them to pay for the rebelion efforts against her daughter, but she never had the chance. Talking to her, we both concluded that it would be less dangerous to people, if we just gave Emily what she wanted, or she would keep going after people loyal to Sofia, trying to get the information she wanted.
I had arrived back with the treasure one day before the celebrations started. All the city was getting ready for it, it was such a waste of power and resources. I could see people working from dawn to dusk making sure everything was ready for the celebrations, and I could already see that it was going to be spectacular. It looked like all Emily could think about was how to make parties and celebrations, and each one I attended was bigger than the last, even if every time it was harder to find the resources needed to make Emily designs come true, people was running out of thinks, soon they wouldn’t be able to produce what she wanted. Trucks loaded with exotic food were arriving at the Palace, even as people were dying of starvation on the streets, thousands of yards of fabrics and precious furs were being used to upholster the city, even as people were walking around in clothes so old they were falling apart, expensive and aromatic wood was being shipped there to prepare bonfires, in a city where most of the inhabitants were dying of cold, statues and monuments were being built by the same people that didn’t have a roof over their heads. I knew things were getting worse day by day, and I knew people was not far from reaching their tipping point, they wouldn’t be able to stand their treatment for much longer.
For the first time in months, all of the elite forces were together in the same place. The Dominion’s army was huge, but the elite part of it was just short of two hundred members. Most of them were loyal to Faakhir, a few of them were only truly loyal to Emily, but another part was loyal to me. It had started with Ivan, but little by little I had found more warriors that had the same goals as me. About a fourth of them were on my side, not much, but they were the most powerful of the bunch, and they represented some of the key territories in the Dominion.
The celebrations were going to last for several days, and, as usual, it was going to start with a parade in honor of the King and Queen, and it was going to include people from all over the Dominion. Just twenty of the elite warriors were with them, the others were all around the place, making sure there weren’t going to be any issues. Half of the warriors on the box with us, were loyal to me, and that made me feel safer. For a long time I had been surrounded only by enemies, but having allies around made me feel like I could accomplish my goals. I had followers on all levels of the army, but I knew that it was important to have the leaders on my side, when the moment arrived, I needed the commanders to take my side, because they would be the ones that would move the people in the right direction.
“Isn’t this awesome?” Emily asked, to no one in particular. “People from all over the Dominion is here to celebrate with us.”
“Is what you deserve, it is your right to rule over them, and they know it,” Faakhir said.
I knew that most of the people in the parade didn’t want to be there. Emily lived under the illusion that only because she was the daughter of the Queen, she deserved everything she wanted, and that the people had to love her for that. She really believed that the Dominio’s people’s only goal should be to make her happy and fulfill her every whim. I was getting sick just by listening to her talking, and feeling superior to everyone around her. People in the Dominion usually referred to people in the Empire as uncivilized and barbarians, but the truth was that we weren’t much different. I knew that if Caracalla had managed to win the throne, he would have been as bad as Emily, but my brother Trajan was a good ruler, he was tough and unforgiving, but fair and he actually cared for his people. He was loved by his people, and respected by everyone, not because he was feared for his powers or the damage he could do with them, but because of the way he acted, and for the way he acted.
After hours watching what appeared to be an endless parade, we finally moved back inside for the rest of the celebration. As soon as we entered, the rich aroma of the different dishes greeted us. The quantity of food available was impressive, several of the regional rulers were there for the celebration, and all the Representatives and embassadors, but still, I knew that most of the food wouldn’t be eaten, and I suspected that the same waste was going to happen the next day.
“Will you have to stay here until night?” Kimball asked, when we crossed paths in our way inside.
“I think so, you know how they are, they want to show everyone how powerful they are, and a room full of warriors will do that, that’s the kind of display they like.”
“This is all very impressive,” Kimball said, admiring the place, “and also an insult to all the rulers and the people who had to sacrifice their resources so they could have their party.” I felt a few other warriors walking close to us, and knowing they were loyal to Faakhir, I decided to play a little and give them something they could take to Faakhir and would make me look good to him.
“This is just another example of the King’s and Queen’s power. This is to show off how powerful and rich they really are. This is another sign that Faakhir is superior to any other man in the Dominion.”
“Do you want me to stay here until this is over? Or do you prefer that I go early?” Kimball asked me, he grabbed me by the arm and pulled me close to him so he could whisper the questions in my ear, I knew that to the others, it would look like we were fighting. It was all part of the act.
“I would feel better if you go early. You know how Faakhir is when you are close by, he will feel like he needs to prove something, and he will become more possessive. It’s better if we don’t attract more attention to ourselves,” I answered, also whispering, before pushing him away and storming to my place behind Faakhir.
I saw Kimball moving away, pretending to be angry, and I saw a satisfied smirk on Faakhir’s face, that luckily, Emily didn’t notice, the last thing I needed was for Emily to turn her attention to me and her good mood to end. I took my place among the rest of the elite warriors. I had to accept that the image that we presented, all dressed in combat gear, was pretty impressive, and scary. I could see that we were an intimidating sight, and most people were uneasy by the display.
For a long time, the rulers of the different countries of the Dominion went to present their respect to the King and Queen, it was the perfect occasion to see who was really loyal to them, and who was just going because they had no other option. Most of them had a pretty good mind defense, and it was near impossible to read their minds, and they were very good at controlling their faces not to betray their emotions, but I could read their emotions, it was something they couldn’t fake or hide. I couldn’t feel some of them approaching them with fear, others with awe, some with envy, some with admiration. As they paraded in front of them, I read their emotions and recorded them for later, when I could use the information to look for more allies for my cause.
The celebrations went on till midnight, and it was late when the King and Queen finally retired to their room, leaving us free to do the same. Some of us were going to stay to guard the place, but I was able to retire, which was good since I was exhausted by the end of the day. It was very late when I finally arrived, but I found Kimball waiting for me.
“How are you?” He asked, as soon as he saw me, and he offered a cup of tea to me, something I usually didn’t like, but that I was grateful for, at that moment.
“I’m exhausted, for some reason. I think that finally everything I have done is catching up with me, you know, going for Greca, looking for the virus people, then the treasure. I haven’t been able to stop for a long time and for some reason this time it affected me.”
“I think it must be how stressful this all is. I know that you are getting tired of waiting, of having everything in its place, but soon we will be able to move and take control of the Dominion. I think you won’t be able to really rest until this is done.”
“I talked to Sofia and William, and both of them are desperate to move Emily out of the throne and claim their rightful places.”
“Soon. But for now, you need your rest, you can’t keep going like this without a proper rest. And tomorrow will be another long day.”
“A long week. It’s incredible the amount of activities they have planed for this celebration. There are so many things to do, and they are wasting their time in this frivolous party. I was expecting some uprisings on the Dominion, since most of the leaders are here, but so far everything is calm. I even talked to Fatima and she hadn’t noticed anything going on this week, but she says there is a crossroad approaching, one we haven’t noticed, but that was highlighted after we took care of the people working with the virus. I feel like we are forgetting something important, or maybe we caused some rift with our actions, I don’t know, but I’m too tired to investigate the fog of the future.”
“You once told me that if it’s something big, that’s going to affect us directly, then one of your visions is going to warn you with enough time to take action. I think that for now, all you need to worry about is getting as much sleep as you can before going back.”
For a moment I thought of protesting, but I was tired, so I finished my tea and went to bed. I felt like no time had passed between the moment I fell asleep and when Kimball woke me up to prepare for the day. At least the day’s activities were going to start late in the day, but we needed to go and prepare for the day hours before they woke up.
By the time the week had ended, I was beyond exhausted. As the week progressed, I was getting more and more tired, but I thought it was just a consequence of all the things I had done, and of having to endure the festivities required by their greed and boredom. Once the celebrations ended, Emily decided to accept the invitations of many of the regional leaders and local rulers around the Dominion that wanted to make celebrations in their honor, and decided to organize new visits to those places so she could enjoy more celebrations in her honor. The new schedule wasn’t as bad, since we were going to visit places where the people wasn’t as active against them, mostly because the local rulers being better as suppressing any rebellions.
I wanted to stay behind, because not all of us would be able to travel with Emily and her husband, but they decided that I needed to go, and I couldn’t say no, I guessed that I could take the opportunity to investigate more about the different rulers and try to decide who could be converted, controlled, and who needed to be neutralized. I was feeling more and more desperate to finish my plans, time was moving too fast, and I was reaching a point where I was going to make do with whatever resources I had at that moment, instead of keep trying to get more.
During the next days we traveled from city to city, attending more parades and banquets, until I had to recognize that I wasn’t well, I was too tired, and that could only mean that I was sick, and getting worse. I felt like even my powers were getting weaker, and that was something I couldn’t allow, it would put me at risk. I was looking for a good excuse so I could go back to Capital City and get Kimball to help me, but I never had the chance, during one of the endless parades, I couldn’t endure the heat, and I passed out, but I never woke up, I just went into a coma, unable to recover.