It was dark by the time I got out of the fog and I was hungry. I was used to have something to eat waiting for me, but I wasn’t at the palace, and the guard that Kimball had left behind to take care of me wasn’t used to me and didn’t know my habits, it was my own fault for not thinking of ordering food or asking for something beforehand.
I checked the time and decided that food would have to wait, it was early enough that Mbali could still be awake, and I wanted to talk to her and see if she had any news from Kimball. The call took a while to connect, but eventually I was able to talk to Mbali.
“It’s everything ok?” I asked as soon as he picked up.
“Everything went according to the plan. Greca is great, I don’t think Kimball had trouble making her believe she had captured him, she put a good fight. It’s been a while since she got him, I think they should be in their territory by now, he may be even working on saving Malkia by now.”
“So you haven’t had communication with him yet?”
“It’s still too soon for that, he has work to do first, but I expect to hear from him tomorrow.”
“Perfect.” As time went by, the future where Malkia was alive was getting clearer and becoming the better possibility, I didn’t think I needed to go back to the fog, I knew she would survive, the only difference was how. I just needed Kimball to know the risks he would be facing, especially from Ivy. “When you talk to Kimball, tell him not to trust Ivy, if she starts acting weird, or if she gets involved in any way, then it’s time to get out of there. His powers will catch Ivy’s attention, and that’s not a good thing, she will find the way to take advantage of him, no matter what Dendro or her son promised him.”
“Don’t worry, I will pass your message. You already told him to be careful with her. What’s her problem exactly?”
“She never liked me, and I’m sure she will find a way to make my life more difficult. But, anyway, everything seems to be fine for now. I will be here if you need anything, just keep me posted.”
We ended the call, and I felt better, even if I hadn’t gotten any new information or learned anything relevant about my daughter. I decided I needed to find something to eat, and with the help of the guard we found the kitchen. He apologized for not thinking of getting me something to eat, especially since he had gotten something to eat earlier. He stayed by the door while I prepared something to eat, I just needed some sustenance, nothing fancy so I could keep my strength and calm my hunger, but my head was already moving on to more important things.
I started to go over my options as soon as I got back to my room. Despite everything being under control, I felt uneasy, and after trying to find a good options, I decided it was best if I went to the astral planes for a while. I wanted to try and get inside the Assassins’ territory. I knew that they would have sentries, after all they were one of the most important clans in the Empire, but I could go higher, and lower than other people, and that would allow me to move undetected.
The distance I had to go was very large, and it was dangerous to go that far, but I didn’t care, I had an objective and no one would be able to stop me from going there. The Imperialists and Assassins weren’t the only clans with sentries in the astral planes, so I moved to one of the upper planes so they wouldn’t see me. Time and space were different in the astral planes, and reaching the Assassins’ territory didn’t take as long.
I started going down, looking for a good spot to get inside the territory, but the lower I moved, the more I felt something pulling me down, I knew I had enemies there and that I shouldn’t go there, but there was something about the pull that made me realize someone else was calling me. I moved fast, crossing the planes as fast as I could. I felt the pain and desperation and I saw a group of lower beings circling a figure that was becoming smaller and smaller. I realized they were forcing her to move even lower through the planes, to where the demons and other strong creatures lived.
‘I thought I had warned you not to come here,‘ I told Malkia’s astral representation.
‘I wanted to go to the light, but I got lost,‘ she said. It was clear she was at her limit and she needed help.
‘Follow me,‘ I told her, and I started moving up, but the lower plane beings noticed me and started moving around me. I realized that Malkia was running low on energy and it was hard for her to escape. ‘Keep moving, don’t stop, no matter what,” I warned, letting a little of my own energy out to attract the dark beings that feed on the energy of those that managed to move that further down.
I finally lost Malkia and realized she had moved up, so I did the same, moving to the next plane, but I dragged some of the dark beings with me. I moved closer to Malkia and helped her move to the next plane, and the next until we arrived to the upper planes.
‘Thanks,‘ Malkia said, once we reached the second upper plane, a place of light and comfort.
‘I get it, you felt bad and were in pain, and that dragged you down, but you need to be more careful to avoid that. Your body is suffering, and you need to mind to be strong or you won’t recover. Being down there only makes the pain worse, because it takes away the energy you need to recover.‘
‘I won’t survive this anyway. I’m really sick, I don’t think I will make it,‘ Malkia said, and I realized she had already gone over it, and decided she needed to make peace with the idea of dying. ‘I’m glad that I had a last chance to see you. If you ever have the chance, could you tell my sister how much I love her and that this wasn’t her fault?‘
‘Don’t worry Malkia, you will be fine. You will feel bad for a few days, and it will take time to go back to your top condition, but you will live.‘
‘How can you be so sure?‘
‘Because I saw you. Did I tell you I’m a Seer? I can see your future and I know you will live a long life, a good life. But you need to be more careful, what you did was incredibly irresponsible, you could have died.‘
‘So… you know what happened?’ I didn’t bother answering, I just stared at her. ‘We got caught up in the moment, but it wasn’t the first time we kissed and I had never felt that bad afterwards. Antrax thought I was getting immune to him.‘
‘You both should have known better. You need to be careful, before doing something like that you need to make sure you will be fine. And you need to understand that the Royal Family’s power is to consume and transform different venoms and toxins, besides, Antrax is a carrier, he doesn’t get sick, but can make others sick. His system is constantly changing, you can’t become immune to him, you would need to be like him, capable of fighting everything he can give you.‘
‘Maybe you think I’m silly, or weak, but I can’t stay away from him. I guess I will have to ask for a transfer, move away to avoid temptation.‘
‘Don’t worry, you may still be able to find a way to be together,‘ it all depended on Kimball, I knew he had the power to change her future, he could give her the power to be with Antrax, to keep exploring the attraction between them, and give them the chance to fall in love. I knew that if Kimball managed to make her compatible to Antrax, she would be able to be considered as his partner. Dendro had always resented the fact that his power limited his ability to decide who to be with, and I knew he resented being paired with Ivy, I knew that if Antrax had the option to choose, Dendro would support him.
‘Are you sure I will be fine? I felt like my body was falling apart.‘
‘Just have faith, everything will be just fine,‘ I couldn’t add that she needed to trust Kimball, a man who loved her as if she was his own daughter.
I spent a while talking to Malkia in the astral planes, but I knew that I needed to return to my body eventually. I decided I needed a good night of rest after the last few days, I needed to give my body time to recover from everything. I was still hurt from my last battle and even if my body had been resting, my mind had been overactive, and that left me without energy.
I ended up getting up later than I intended, but I had to admit I had really needed that rest. At least I woke up to find the guard had remembered to order breakfast, and I had a bowl of fruit waiting for me. I had a lot going on in my mind, my daughter’s wellbeing my main concern, but I knew there was nothing I could do for her, she was in good hands. I decided to call my allies and asked for a video conference for later, meanwhile I called Sofia.
“How is your daughter doing?” Sofia asked as soon as the call connected.
“Everything seems to be going just fine. I’m expecting a full recovery.”
“Glad to hear that. Fatima and I were working on tomorrow’s attack. As far as we could see nothing of importance changed from the last we saw. We expect tomorrow to be a success.”
“It’s good to see you kept working on that, I have been distracted. I will be talking later with my men to see how is everything going. I wanted to talk to you first because there’s something we need to talk about. You know that once things calm down there are a few things we will need to change. Some groups are getting restless, they think that now that I tasted power, I won’t be able to let it go. The idea always was to make the transition as fast as possible, and I think the first step will be to give the crown to someone else. You know I’ve been acting as the sole ruler, but it’s time to start introducing new players. I only want to know if you are ready to take your old position.”
“You know I don’t want to go back, I think that William is the best choice to take the crown. Besides, he is the heir, when his father died, he was supposed to take his place.”
“Maybe, but I’m worried that people won’t recognize him, if he just shows up now, people may think he is just a puppet I’m using to impersonate the real heir.”
“I wouldn’t worry about that, you didn’t get the chance to meet him, but William looks exactly as my son, people will recognize him. Many people still remember my son as a symbol of the good times, I think having William will give them hope, they will symbolize the return to the good old times. By seeing him, and thinking of his father, they will trust things to get better.”
“If what you say is true, then maybe it could work. I do know he wants to get involved, he seems affected by the fact that he couldn’t participate in the battle for the Dominion after my hand was forced.”
“He is, but it’s a good lesson for him, things not always go according to plan. I will talk to my son and prepare him for what’s coming. Don’t worry, he will be better than his sister.”
“I really hope so.”
I trusted Sofia, so I had to follow her suggestion. I had always considered William an important part of my plans, and I had worked with him during my visits to Aquarium to make sure he was a good man and that he was ready for the position, but things had changed and I preferred someone like Sofia by my side, not her son. But I had to adapt. I needed to focus on other, more pressing issues, so I prepared for my next reunion.
The screen started filling with the faces of my trusted allies, Fatima was in the control center, she was going to coordinate the activities for the different groups. Ivan, who was in charge of the main group, was already in the field, just like Zhou and Matthew with the two support groups. Thalia was in charge of the last group, the one who would make sure there were no loose ends, and that no one could escape the first groups.
“Thanks for agreeing to this meeting, I know how busy you are right now,” I greeted them.
“As always, we are ready to serve you,” Ivan said. “So far, everything has been going according to plan. The people we posted around the place has reported no changes, and if everything goes according to plan, we will take them down tonight, before they even have the chance to attack.”
“So they are still preparing to attack the palace? No one has noticed I’m not there?”
“So far no group seems to have noticed that you left,” Thalia said, “but Representative Jeong might suspect. He has been asking for you, since you asked for the Tech Committe to have a meeting with you, we think he is trying to talk to you about it, even if we had insisted he has to wait for the day of the meeting.”
“Thanks. I know that me leaving put you in a difficult position.”
“Don’t worry, we have everything under control,” Matthew said. “After all, family should always come first, none of us is going to question your need to help your family.”
“I know, and I’m grateful for that. I couldn’t have done this without your support. I am very thankful for your support, and your work.”
“Remember, we share the same objective,” Ivan said. “We all want things to go back to how they used to be. Things weren’t perfect before, but at least they were better. The problems we had, were our problems, not caused by the whims of a couple of people, but by our own mistakes. We will finally have the chance to rebuild our countries and recover our freedom.”
“We still have a lot of work to do before we can reach that point, but at least we have taken the first steps. I wish you good luck in your mission, and I trust you to emerge victorious from it.”
After thanking them again for their help and making sure they had everything under control, I ended the call. They didn’t have any new information for me, but at least I felt better after talking to them.
After a brief visit to the chief of the base, or more accurately, to the leader of the Shadows Clan, I went back to my room so I could make another astral walk. I needed to make sure Malkia was ok if she was still there. I knew it was unfair of me to ask her to go back to her body while it was hurt, but I needed to make sure she was anchored to her body, and keeping to the safer planes.