Chapter 59-b

When the people from the Shadow’s Clan entered the room, every eye focused on them.  It wasn’t just because the new group had arrived, it was because of Zola, an older woman and Nelson, dressed in a suit, and not the uniform his compatriots were wearing, they were obviously out of place, being nothing like the rest of the people gathered in that room.

Some faces were showing naked hostility, others were watching with curiosity, and still a few were looking at them in a friendly way.

“I wasn’t expecting to see you here,” Pompeyo said from his place on the throne.

“It seems our invitation was lost, but that’s not an issue, like I told you the last time I was here, we have ways of knowing what’s going on, you can’t get rid of us so easily.”

“It seems that way,” Pompeyo went silent, because a new group was walking in, Antrax, Malkia, Greca, Dendro and another Assassin entered the room and Pompeyo’s attention turned to them.  “I thought I had been very clear the last time we met, she is not welcome in this place.”

“She is my partner and not allowing her in here is an insult to my clan, and an offense I can’t let go,” Antrax said.  “You will have to get used to seeing her here, whether you like it or not.”

“I think you don’t understand how things work, new leader of the Assassins’ Clan, I’m the one in charge, the one who makes the rules, you are the ones who follow them, I won’t stand this insubordination, no one disobeys my orders no matter who he is.”

“You are the one who asked for our clan to come here, that includes my partner.  Either you accept us all, or we all walk out of here.  Are you willing to put at risk an alliance generations old over this?”

“Be careful Antrax, again you are talking as if you are threatening me,” Pompeyo warned.  “That doesn’t change anything, you disobeyed a direct order and I can’t allow that.  If I let you get away with it, then everyone will think they can do the same.  Guards, take Malkia to the dungeon, if she is so eager to visit the Palace, then lets start her visit from the bottom.”

“I won’t let you take my partner away,” Antrax said, facing Pompeyo.

“With all due respect, Your Majesty, I won’t let you take me away that easily,” Malkia said, moving from behind Antrax and standing next to him.

“I will gladly take care of them,” Alukah offers, eager to fight Malkia.

“That’s not necessary,” Pompeyo says, “I can take care of them.”

“Are you sure that’s a good idea?” Kimball cuts in.

“This has nothing to do with you,” Pompeyo replies.

“Everything that has to do with Malkia and the Assassins is my business.  She is part of my family, and because of that she has the protection of my clan.  Do you really want to continue with this?” Kimball’s words, instead of helping, only make Pompeyo feel more threatened, and push him to put everyone in their places.

“My orders won’t change, you have two options, you either send her back to your clan and promise not to let her out of it again, or you let her stay here, in which case she will become a permanent resident of our dungeon.”

“If you think you can intimidate me so easily, is because you know nothing about me,” Malkia said, not letting herself be intimidated by Pompeyo’s words and attitude.

‘We can do this in a civilized manner so we don’t have any problems, or you can keep fighting back, in that case, I promise you won’t walk out of this room alive,’ Pompeyo sent the thought to Malkia.

“That’s not a good idea,” Ethan said.  “You have no idea what you are facing.”

“We are the Imperial Clan, do you think we are afraid of a couple of clans?”

“Is not the Shadows or the Assassins you have to worry about,” Zola said, speaking for the first time, and surprising everyone by the strength of her voice and the command in her tone, “it’s Kaiserin you should be worry about.”

“I’m the Emperor, I’m not afraid of cowards that don’t even have the courage of coming here.”  Right at that moment, following Pompeyo’s silent command, the guards around the room moved, trying to surround the Assassins, but before they got to their positions, the whole room trembled.  “What was that?” Pompeyo asked, turning to see Maddan, the one in charge of security.

“That’s must be my mother,” Ethan said, “I think it’s time for you to finally meet her face to face.”

“No one can get inside this place without authorization.”

“Kaiserin used to be a Captain of the Royal Guard, she knows all the secret entrances and she has the powers to come here without being detected if she wants,” Maddan said.

“You give her too much credit,” Pompeyo answer, “and anyway, she is not welcome here either, find her and take her to the dungeons, maybe she can share a cell with her daughter.”

“The last time Kaiserin decided to crash a reunion in this room, I was unable to stop her, I’m pretty sure it will be the same this time.”

“If you are afraid, then I can take care of her,” Ratu offered.

Before her offer could be accepted, another crash sounded and the building shook, then the doors of the room opened, on the other side the bodies of the guards could be seen on the floor, and in the middle of the chaos, Kaiserin was standing.

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Chapter 59

I woke up to people talking around me, I froze for a moment, trying to get a reading of the situation, to find out what was happening and why, it only took me a few seconds to place the voices and see they belonged to Kimball and Ethan, and to know I was safe, even if my body hurt and my head felt like it had been hit by mallet.

“How are you feeling?” Kimball asks, he clearly wasn’t going to be fooled into thinking I was still asleep.

“I think that right question is, in the scale of 1 to 10, how strong is your desire to drill into your head?” Ethan asked.  It was a joke he liked to make, he always said that when having a psychic headache he felt like drilling his head to let the pain get away.

“I think that at the moment I would really appreciate some silence, my head does feel like it’s about to explode.”

“I think you forced yourself too much this time,” Kimball reprimanded me.  “I’m not blaming you for that, I know that you did what you needed to do, and I would have done the same in your position, but you pushed yourself too hard.  You have been sleeping for almost twenty hours and we needed to give you an IV just to give you some liquids and nutrients,” I hadn’t noticed the IV until he mentioned it.

“I’m just tired, what happened wasn’t that bad,” both Kimball and Ethan looked at me in a way that made it clear they weren’t buying my words, but that wasn’t important, for the moment all I needed was a few more minutes of rest.

“I will call for some food, you need real food, before you think of anything else,” I knew that anything I said would be a waste, it was obvious Kimball was worried and he would do whatever he thought was best, besides, I was hungry and wouldn’t say no to something to eat.

“Can you bring me up to speed while we wait for our food?” I knew that Kimball wanted to wait until things were calm, but I wasn’t going to be able to relax until I had an update on what had happened.

“All you need to know is that everything is alright,” Kibmall said, and I turned to see Ethan.

“That’s true,  nothing interesting to report.  Right now the discussion is all about what they are going to do with that think they created, they are debating between destroying it or studying it.  Some think it’s too dangerous to keep, others are dying to find out what applications it could have.”

“So they still have it here, from what they said I thought it was too dangerous to keep here, what happens if it gets out of control again?”

“We found a way to keep it stable, and right now they are updating the security protocols to make sure there isn’t another incident like it, to make sure we will be able to stop it before it causes damage.”

“I will have to trust you,” was all I couldn’t think of answering, and it was true, I trusted them, if they thought there was no danger, then I had to believe them.

After getting something to eat and rest for a while, the headache finally calmed down enough for me to be able to take the suppressor off and get my powers back.  It didn’t matter if the suppressor was needed to minimize the pain and speed up the healing, having it on affected me more than I cared to admit.

Everything had gone back to normal and I felt rested and much more calm, still, the peace didn’t last for long, just a few weeks later, while we were in Mzansi, I got a vision that pushed everything else to the back.  In just an instant time had gone by and a new Clan’s Reunion had arrived.  It was time to get ready and prepare for another trip, one that would have a bigger impact.

The first step, as always, was to get Fatima and ask her to take a walk through the fog with me.  I knew that the vision I had was not written in stone, I knew there were alternative endings, that there was something I could do to avoid it, and just as I expected, I was able to see many paths opening before me, paths where I could make sure everything was fine, and that not unnecessary deaths would take place.

“What do you have at the moment?” Kimball asked.

“I have a date, and since we are part of the Empire we can be there, even if we haven’t been officially summoned, as allies we are automatically invited, all we have to do is be there.”

“Are you going with us?” Ethan asked, assuming he was going to be part of the group.

“No, not yet.  There is a chance there is another fight between Antrax and Pompeyo, and there is a chance there won’t.  By being there I will only make the situation worse.  There is a chance nothing happens, in which case my presence won’t be necessary, but if things start to get back, you can be sure I will get there, but to avoid problems between the clans, if I go, I will go not as a Shadow, but as a former member of the Imperial Clan.”

“Won’t it be problematic if you go there and don’t present yourself as part of our family?” Kimball asked.

“There is a rule that says that only five representatives from each clan can go to the reunion, if I go and say I’m part of your clan, there the Shadows will be over represented and that can cause trouble, but if I go there and ask my place as part of the Imperial Clan, at least in name, then they won’t be able to accuse you of having more people than allowed.”

“Even if you play that card, everyone knows you are part of my clan, I’m not sure most people will buy that argument as easily as you think.”

“Don’t worry about that, I can be very convincing when I need to.  For now, what’s important is getting ready for our trip.”

Both Kimball and Ethan accepted my words, I was the expert, after all, and if I said that it was the best way to deal with the situation, they had to accept that.

I knew that we were taking great risks, but those were necessary.  If there was a chance for things to resolve peacefully, if Pompeyo and Antrax were capable of reaching an understanding, then I would stay away, but if there was a slight chance of things getting out of control and putting the lives of my loved ones at risk, then I would have to intervene, no matter the consequences.

Getting ready for our trip was easy, so we prepared everything so we would be able to spend some time with my daughters in case I didn’t get to be part of the Reunion.  We arrived at the Empire with more than enough time to get to the reunion, and set camp on the route I knew the Assassins were going to take.  With the help of mzansiers’ technology, it was easy to hide our camp, we used the same camouflage tech that had surprised me so much the first time I had been in one of their camps.  From the road the Assassins were coming, it would be impossible for them to know there was a camp there, but I was sure than once they were close, my daughters would be able to tell there was something in the way.

Ethan had offered to wait for them and receive them, he was sitting in the middle of the road, just a few yards from the camp.  Since I didn’t want to miss the show, I was hidden near him, in the tree line, something Ethan had caught even if I was using some of my tricks to hide my position.

“Greetings,” Ethan said to the Assassins’ scouts.  “I’m waiting for Malkia and Antrax, please let them know that Ethan is here.”

The soldier didn’t look convinced, but he turned around without attacking Ethan, and that was a good sign.  Ethan turned to see me and then put his attention back on the road.  A few minutes later the rest of the Assassins’ caravan came into view.

“We need to stop meeting like this,” Malkia said, approaching Ethan.

“Ethan! It’s so good to see you, are you alone?” Greca asked.

“Of course not,” Malkia said, her eyes turning to where the camp was, then turning and staring directly at the shadows where I was hiding, with Greca turning my way a moment later.

“I can’t say how glad I am to see you again.  I hope you can accept our invitation to spend the night at our camp,” I told my daughters.

“I think it would be pointless to ask how you knew we were going to be here,” Antrax said, moving to stand next to Malkia.  “But you should know we already picked a place to set camp for tonight.”

“I just want to spend some time with my family, you don’t have a problem with that, do you?  Nothing is going to happen if my daughters stay with me tonight, you have more than enough time to reach the Palace tomorrow.”

“I guess the camp you’re talking about is behind us, right?  I can feel a huge settlement, but I can’t see it.”

“That’s one of the Mzansier’s many tricks.  You are right, the camp is right behind us,” I took a small remote control, one Kimball had given me, and disabled the camouflage on the camp for a moment, so the Assassins could see the three huge structures we had set.

“That’s impressive,” Antrax said, even if he sounded more angry than impressed.

“Just wait until you see the interior,” Ethan added, clearly trying to get a rise out of Antrax.

We moved in silence to the main tent, where Kimball was already waiting for us with some food ready.  My daughters avoided asking questions, but I could feel their curiosity, they were just willing to accept the fact that we had appeared in the middle of nowhere for the chance to talk to them.

For a while we just enjoyed our mutual company, talking about superficial topics and enjoying the food.  Dendro, as always, was happy for the chance to talk to us, but it was clear that Antrax didn’t share his feelings, he was on the other side of the common room, staring at us, with an attitude that made it clear he didn’t like the situation we were in.

“Are you finally going to present yourself to the rest of the clans?” Greca asked, voicing the question everyone had.

“The Shadows’ representatives are going to be there, but I will stay away unless my presence becomes necessary.  With the way things are between Pompeyo and your clan, my presence would only make things worse, I don’t want to be the excuse he uses to start something with you.”

“We can take care of Pompeyo, you don’t have to worry about him,” Antrax said, as if my actions were an insult to him.

“He is the Emperor, and despite his behavior, the fact is that he is the most powerful warrior in the Imperial Clan, and he can be a powerful enemy.”

“I’m not afraid of him,” Antrax declared.

“Then you are a fool,” I replied.  If that was the attitude he was going to have while facing Pompeyo, it wasn’t surprising that the situation had such a high possibility of getting out of control.

Antrax opened his mouth, and I was sure he was ready to say something I wouldn’t care for, but he was interrupted before he had the chance to speak.

“I would think twice before speaking,” Kimball said, “you don’t reach our age, getting over multiple battles without learning a thing or two, you should listen and learn, instead of rejecting and fighting.”

“Everything was fine before you decided to come here, and they would still be fine without you.  I don’t need your help of constant interference.”

“What you may not understand is that we didn’t come just now, we allowed you to see us, but we have always been here, watching from the shadows and helping when it was necessary, and we will keep doing it as long as it’s necessary.”

Chapter 57

I hadn’t felt so alive in a long time, I felt the adrenaline from the competition and the danger of being discovered, running through my veins, filling me with energy.  I made sure that no one was following me, again, checking the illusion masking me and stopping to make sure no one was around every few minutes until I arrived to the building and found the windows of the room that I was targeting.

I used my mind to open the window and then to give me a push to so I could jump to it.  Just as I was about to enter the room the door opened, I froze for a moment, making sure my powers were keeping me hidden, but then I realized it was Kimball at the door, so I jumped into the room and let the illusion drop as we both moved to the crib.

“I guess we will have to call this a tie?” asked Kimball, smiling.

“Technically, I had half of my body inside when you arrived at the door.”

“But my whole body made it inside before yours,” he pointed out.

“I guess we can call it a tie,” I accepted.  Even if I wanted to get another win, the truth was that it wasn’t that important, what was important was that we both had made it to the room without being detected.

We were both focused on the baby when we felt a pressure around us, the metal bit in our clothes pulled us away from the crib.  I knew I could counter the effect easily, but I knew it wouldn’t be right, so I let the warrior that was at the door, pull us away from the baby, putting some distance between us.

“Who are you and what are you doing here?” Malkia asked once the baby was safely in her arms.

“I’m sorry I scared you,” I said, “but I assure you, the last thing I would do is hurt him.”

frozen in her spot, her eyes going from me to Kimball and back to me, as if she was making sure she wasn’t imagining things.  At first she didn’t dare speak up, and when she did, it was just a whisper.

“Mother?”

“I’m really sorry I didn’t tell you about my visit, especially because I made you worry,” we heard steps on the hallway, and a moment later Antrax entered the room, followed by Dendro.

“Kaiserin?” Dendro asked, surprised by my presence.

“Again, I really apologize for coming here unannounced.”

“You will always be welcome in my clan, there was no need to hide,” Dendro told me.

“I have been waiting for you to come for a long time,” Malkia said, and I could feel her conflicting feelings, she wasn’t sure how to act or how to feel.  In the middle of her turmoil I could feel something else, she was feeling betrayed.

“I would have liked to come earlier, but I was waiting for the right moment, I know that tomorrow Dendro will give the control of the clan to Antrax, and you will also become an important part of this clan, it is something I can’t miss.  I have lost a lot of milestones in your life, I wasn’t going to let another one go by.”

“Is that the reason you are here?” I knew she was thinking I was there because of her son, that even if I had never made an effort to visit her, I was doing it for her son.

“That’s not the only reason,” I said, and I could feel her disappointment.  ” planning a visit to assist Antrax’s promotion as leader of the clan, there is a chance nothing will happen, but there is also a possibility that there will be trouble, that’s why we are here.”

“What kind of problems?” Malkia asked, and I had the impression that Dendro had been about to ask the same.

“Predicting the not an easy task.  Every decision we make, every action we take opens a new path in front of us.  What is going to happen here gives us a lot of options.  What I do know is that if I didn’t come here, the possibility of everything working out was only 35%.  If I came here and showed my face, the probability of someone ending up dead was 90%.  I came here, unannounced and hiding, because, if Pompeyo doesn’t realize who I am, and I’m able to help keep things under control, then the chances of no one dying goes up to 80%.”

“When you say someone is going to die in some of those scenarios, you mean one of us?” Antrax asked.

My mind went back to one of the visions I had seen a few days before, one in which and Antrax were and a moment of frustrations ended up with Antrax dying at Pompeyo’s hands, and Malkia’s pain caused a massacre.  But I couldn’t share that vision, I couldn’t predispose him, or the situation could escalate faster than in my visions.  Both of them had grown as heirs of their clans, and had developed a strong relation, by telling Antrax that he could die at Pompeyo’s hands, I could shatter any chance of a good working relationship.

“The problem with sharing what I see in my visions, is that sometimes it can help avoid a certain outcome or minimize risks, but others, the most people know about the future, the worse things will go,” I tried to explain.  “But let me assure you, no one in this room will die if I can avoid it.”

And I was sure that I would do everything in my power to make sure no life was lost, it was bad enough that the happiness of my first grandchild’s birth was shadowed by the vision of killing him in a moment of madness.  The visions surrounding Antrax’s rise to power had been filled with blood and different scenarios in which most people in attendance ended up killing someone or being killed.  I had seen the death of my grandchild and Antrax, but also of my daughters and my nieces and nephews depending on the situation.  During my trip there I had gone over different plans I could use to ensure that my daughter’s and her partner’s celebrations didn’t end up as a bloodbath.

“I hate to think we are at risk, but it’s good to finally be able to talk to you face to face,” Malkia said.  “Why don’t we take this talk to my room?  We will be able to talk without interruptions there.  I will let Greca know that you are here.”  I could feel her uncertainty, she wasn’t sure how to act or what to do.  I could understand how she was feeling, I had dreamed of how it would be in our first meeting, and now that I was there, I wasn’t sure what to do.  the door, but then she stopped, turned to me and offered me the chance to take the baby in her arms.  “Would you like to hold Lason?”

“It would be my honor,” I said, taking the small bundle from her arms.  He was still sleeping, all the commotion in the room hadn’t affected his sleep.

“I will take them to your room, I’ll make sure no one sees them, you can go search for your sister,” Dendro offered, and Malkia agreed.

sure there was no one in the hallway while Dendro opened the door to the adjacent room.  It was easy to see that it was the room of someone important, just as it should be for an heir.  There was a small living room, and that’s where Dendro guided us.  silent, but I could tell he didn’t trust in us, he wasn’t sure of our intentions.

“Who would imagine we would end up sharing a grandchild?” I told Dendro, breaking the silence.

“Not me,” he said, “but I’m glad that’s the case.  It’s been a few years, but I’m glad that you are back with us.  I would ask you, how are you, but I can tell, you look good, you look… .”

“My life haven’t been easy since I left the Empire, but I have to recognize that it had its highlights.  And it’s true, I’m happy with my life,” my eyes went to Kimball before I could stop them.  Kimball was one of the reasons of my happiness.

“I’m glad to hear that.  Many of us were worried for you when you disappeared, many still wait for your return.”

I wasn’t sure what to say, but right then Malkia and Greca walked inside.  Greca was acting with the calmness and  of her position, but as soon as she walked I felt the wave of her feelings hit me.  Unlike her sister whose feelings were more cautious, I could feel Greca’s happiness.

“Ethan isn’t here?” Greca asked, looking around, as if hoping her brother would walk out of his hiding place.

“I’m afraid that this mission required a level of stealth that made it impossible for him to come with us,” Kimball said.  “But I’m sure he will be here with us for our next visit.”

“With one of them is enough,” Antrax mumbled from his side of the room.

“I see Ethan made quite the impression,” I said, I could see that Antrax was not a fan of Ethan, and apparently his relationship with Kimball was complicated, I would see that he felt anger and annoyance at him, but that he also admired him.  I knew that Kimball could be intense, but I wondered what he had done to cause that reaction.

” me that you came because we will have trouble,” Greca said, changing the subject.  “Is that something we should worry about?  Or you have it under control?”

I couldn’t help but smile at the way she spoke and the intensity of her emotions, she had no doubt that if I said I had it under control, then everything would be fine.  “I think I have it under control.”

“Then there’s nothing to worry about,” she told her sister with confidence.  “I remember when she helped me escape and I have no doubt she will be able to help us with any challenge that presents itself.”

“I hope that’s the case,” Malkia said, her eyes moving to Lason.

‘Are you happy here?’ I asked Greca using telepathy, I didn’t want everyone to hear our talk, but I needed to know.  Greca, despite growing up in the Empire, had a  spirit, and for the first time in a long time I wondered if I had done the right thing by leaving her behind.

‘I am, and so is my sister.  Even if I had been given the chance to be somewhere else, I wouldn’t have left my sister behind, and I know she wouldn’t be complete without Antrax and Lason.’  It seemed I had underestimated my daughter, she had been able to look behind my questions to my thoughts and doubts, but I was grateful for that, since her answer and the sincerity behind it had given me peace.

“I think we will leave you so you can talk,” Dendro said, getting up and signaling his son to follow him, “I’m sure you have a lot to talk about and I’s sure you would be more comfortable to continue this chat in private.”

From the moment Greca arrived, she showed she had a lot to talk about, she kept asking questions about everything, from my life to the world I lived in.  There were some things I couldn’t share with her, but I did my best to explain about my life, sharing more information than ever before, but not giving them everything, soon I realized that Greca was like her father, she was able to read between lines and fill the empty spaces.  took longer to warm up, but soon she was also asking questions.  Despite our long talks in the astral planes, I discovered there were a lot we still needed to talk about.

The conversations were so that we didn’t realize the time passing, until Antrax arrived with a tray of food.  Dendro had taken my words seriously and wasn’t going to allow anyone to find out we were in his territory, that’s why his son was fetching our dinner, something that amused Kimball and angered Antrax.

“Tomorrow is going to be a very important day, and I guess we need some rest,” Malkia said.  “You can stay here, Antrax and I will stay in the room we prepared for Lason.”

“Thank you, I’m sorry I’m taking over your room.”

“Don’t worry about it, I spent most of the time visiting Lason anyway, this will save me the trip,” Malkia told us  and moved away, but she wasn’t done with me.  ‘I have heard a lot of stories about you, many theories.  Kimball told me how we met the first time and what you have done for me, and during my visit to the Palace I was told by many that I was the reason you have left.  I didn’t understand your actions, but now I think I get you.’

walked outside, not turning back to see me, it was as if the words she had projected in my mind had never happened, but I knew she had talked to me, and I knew I hadn’t imagined her message.

The next day Antrax brought us some food, and I knew his actions would cause some people to be suspicious, but I was grateful for the care they were taking.  Later that day Antrax and my daughters entered the room.

“You were right about the Emperor, he just arrived to our territory and is on his way here,” Antrax announced.

“Soon you will realize I’m always right,” I told Antrax, who apparently didn’t like my humor.  “What time does the celebration starts?”

“In a couple of hours, just enough time for the Imperialists to arrive and prepare for the ceremony.”

“You said no one could know you were here, but you also said you were going to attend the celebration, what are you going to do?” Greca asked.

“There are a few ways to accomplish my goal, but I think that the best way is to use illusions to hide in plain sight,” as I was speaking, I used my powers to create an illusion around Kimball and , changing our looks so we wouldn’t be recognized.

“That’s incredible!” Greca exclaimed, she didn’t have a problem admitting she was impressed.

“I will try to stay out of the Imperialist’s way, but I really doubt they will be able to see the real face behind the illusion.”

In just a short time we found ourselves in the hall enjoying the festivities, during the celebration Dendro had asked for everyone’s attention and announced to everyone that from that moment on, his son would be the one in charge of the clan and that he would only be an advisor to Antrax.  After presenting his son and my daughter as the new leaders of the clan, a round of applause and congratulations followed, and then the banquet started, with a great number of slaves entering the room, carrying exquisite food to the table.

Kimball had assumed the role of guard and was standing behind me.  I was sitting at the same table as my daughters, but on the other side of the Imperialists, still, I could hear every word they said.

“It is official, then,” Pompeyo said.  “I always believed one day we would be both the leaders of our clans, but this is not exactly how I imagined it.”

“What would you have changed?”

“Your partner, for starters, you could have found someone better,” he said.

“Who better than the descendant of powerful warriors?”

“Her lineage comes from cowards and trash,” Pompeyo replied.

“We share the same grandfather,” Malkia said casually, “I would be more careful before insulting my lineage,” Pompeyo’s gaze moved to Malkia, and I knew he was trying his powers on her, but by looking at smile, I was assured that Malkia was using her sister’s powers to fight back, and even if she didn’t know that, by being there, I was also lending her strength and my own abilities, one of Vlad gifts.

“Your mother was a coward that ran away because she couldn’t deal with the responsibilities of the throne, and your father was a low level warrior who didn’t deserve the position that was given to him.  That’s what you will be, a failure like them.”

“, our clans had been allies for a long time, because of that I ask you to respect the mother of my .”

“Think of the legacy you are giving your by having them as his mother.  It would be better to get rid of them and start again.”

That was one of the turning points, the moment that a seed would be planted in Pompeyo’s mind, one that could be disastrous.  The tension at the table increased.  was the first one to realize the threat behind his words, and she got ready to defend herself and her son.  I saw a couple of warriors moving towards Lason’s room, making sure he was protected, not that they needed to worry, Kimball had prepared some gadgets to protect him from both physical and psychic attacks, besides, he himself had left at the first threat from Pompeyo, knowing that from all of us, was the most vulnerable, and therefore, the one who needed his protection more.  I needed to trust my daughter would be able to deal with the situation, but still I started to use my empathy, trying to calm them down.

“Be careful Pompeyo, that could be misinterpreted as a threat, and that’s not how you should talk to your allies.  Especially not now that you are facing all revolts from the clans under Imperial control, it would be unfortunate that in your time of need you couldn’t count on your allies.”

“Your words could also be misinterpreted as a threat, worse yet, ad treason.”

“I’m not the one who walked into one of his ally’s  and threatened his family…”

‘Careful,’ I sent the warning to Antrax, making sure Antrax would notice the communication.

bit his words back and took a moment to think over his words, realizing the damage the rest of his speech could do if spoken out loud or if managed to read them.  The last thing the young Emperor needed was to be reminded that there was something else fit to occupy his throne while he was still fighting to be recognized by all his subjects.

I increased my efforts to calm them down, increasing the feelings I was sending out, but then I noticed that Alukah was looking around, searching for something.  She had found out someone was trying to affect them.  I knew that if her attention focused on me there was a chance she would be able to see I was using an illusion, so I let my powers go, while and Antrax were in a staring contest, or knowing Pompeyo’s powers, maybe something more.

“What are you afraid of?” Malkia asked him.

“I’m not afraid, I’m the Emperor!”

“Exactly.  You are the Emperor, and I’m the partner of the leader of the Assassins, but your actions and your attitude  that you have something against me, and I doubt is because of my relationship with Antrax.  I don’t care what your problem with me is, you need to get over it, because all you will accomplish with your attitude is to break the relationship our clans have held for generations.”

“I’m not the problem,” Pompeyo said, acting like a little child, and not like the Emperor he was.  His fear of Malkia and everything she represented was affecting his judgement.

I realized Alukah was looking very satisfied with the situation, it looked like once things started escalating she starting feeling better.  I realized that it was not only Pompeyo who was responsible for the problem, there were more people feeding the rivalry.  I knew that I would never get away with influencing the Emperor, no matter how strong I was, he would notice my influence.  On the other side, could be a good option, because, despite her arrogance, that was clear from everything she did, she could be more susceptible to suggestion.

I used a lot of energy making sure that my mind reached her in a subtle way, not putting a lot of pressure, with care.  His mind was a fortress, but I found the way to slip past her defenses.  Her mind, wasn’t that of a telepath, it didn’t have the same structure you would find in one, so I needed to approach it differently.  I started whispering in her mind, building little thoughts that I let her, letting her think they were her own ideas, and she was falling for it.  For a moment I felt resistance, and I thought she was on to me, but a few new words calmed her down.

Between going into Alukah’s mind and keeping the illusion, I couldn’t focus my attention on what was going on around me, so when I went out of the trance, I realized the situation had escalated faster than I expected, or maybe I had spent more time in her mind that I thought, anyway, both Antrax and Dendro were on their feet, facing Pompeyo, who looked ready to fight.  To the side, Greca and Malkia were still sitting, but the focus on Malkia’s face made me think that her mind was busy, maybe fighting off Pompeyo’s attacks.

“This is getting ridiculous,” Alukah said, “we shouldn’t be wasting our time here, it’s clear they are not going to change their minds and they will keep protecting that woman.  I say that we have better things to do, forbid her coming into our territory, so we won’t have to see her again and let’s get away from here.  This party is not even good.”

For a moment it looked like Pompeyo hadn’t heard her, or wasn’t going to listen to her advice, but then his posture relaxed a little.  ” is right, this is a waste of time, it’s obvious you are not willing to see reason.  It’s a pity things have to end like this, but I don’t want to see her again,” Pompeyo told Antrax, pointing to Malkia, “make sure I don’t have to.  It was a mistake to come here, so we will leave immediately.”

Everyone in the room was tense, frozen in place until the Imperialists left the place.

“Greca, make sure they leave the territory and that they don’t take any detour,” Antrax ordered, and then, turned and walked out of the room, followed closely by Dendro and Malkia.  After a moment I followed as well.  “Who does he think he is to come here and talk to me like that, especially this day?” Antrax was saying.

“I’m sorry that ruined your day,” I told them, “but believe it or not, this went better than I expected.”

“I thought you were here to help, but all you did was stay there while he insulted and threatened your daughter.  Maybe is right about you.”

I used my powers to push Antrax into Lason’s room, where Kimball and a couple of soldiers were protecting the baby.  “Leave us,” I told them, and after looking to for confirmation, they did.  “I know this was a difficult situation for you, and I know that you are mad on behalf of my daughter, because she is important to you, that’s the only reason there won’t be consequences your words, but I recommend you think twice before speaking to me like that again,” Antrax tried to move, even speak, but my powers had him completely under my control.

“I think that’s enough,” Dendro said, “the situation was hard, you can’t blame him for losing his temper.”

“Of course I can, especially since he is blaming Pompeyo and the situation is not that different, Pompeyo is acting like a teenager out of control just because he feels threatened by Malkia.  This is exactly why I insisted she should stay out of Imperial circles, just her presence is enough to make people talk, making Pompeyo lose her reason.  The first few months are always difficult for a new Emperor, especially if his authority and strength are being questioned like this.”

“I guess you ran into trouble,” Kimball said, he was holding little Lason in his arms.

“Things went out of control, and the situation was so heavy that my empathy wasn’t working, luckily I was able to plan a suggestion in Alukah and she was able to convince Pompeyo that it was better to leave.  Still, I have a feeling this is not over yet.

“Alukah is a powerful warrior,” Malkia said, “someone like her can’t be deceived or tricked easily.”

“I didn’t say it was easy, and there is still a chance she could find out what I did, but we would have to wait to see if my action had consequences.  I just hope everything goes well.”

But I knew that at that moment there was no way I could foresee the consequences of my action, but I could see that even if Dendro was happy to have me there, Antrax wasn’t.  I couldn’t stay mad at him because his worry was for Malkia’s safety, and I couldn’t blame him for wanting to protect my daughter.  The young leader of the Assassins wasn’t aware that my daughter was much more dangerous than him, the problem was not the danger she was in from the Imperialists, the danger was what would happen if he died protecting her, for Malkia would be forced to seek her vengeance.

Ch 49-b

Malkia was starting to think that all the warning and horror stories she had been listening to the last few years were nothing but lies.  Dendro had been nervous from the moment they arrived at the Palace’s territory, he couldn’t stop looking around, as if he was expecting an ambush at any moment, but so far they hadn’t found any problems, and Malkia was starting to relax.  When they arrived at the area they would be staying in, one that they had been warned was private and not many were allowed inside, Dendro’s attitude had become even more cautious.  Greca was the first to notice the change, but Malkia noticed not long after, and then she noticed a pair of imperial warriors coming their way.

“Dendro, it’s nice to see you again,” one of them greeted him, with a familiarity that Malkia was sure wasn’t well received.

“It’s a pleasure to have you again with us,” the other warrior said, his attitude a lot more respectful, “it’s an honor to hav…” the warrior’s eyes had been looking over them, and when his eyes made contact with Malkia his words died out and his attitude shifted completely.  The warrior next to him noticed the chance and looked over to see what had caught his attention, and when he found it, his attitude also changed.  “You have a lot to explain,” the warrior told Dendro, all his respect gone and his attitude turning aggressive.

“Nothing to explain, Maddan,” Dendro said.  “Agis, I’m sorry I can’t say the same to you.”

“She looks like a very close copy of Kaiserin,” Agis, the other warrior said, “and for years you told us you had no idea where she was.”

“I don’t know where Kaiserin is, just that she trusted me with the care of her daughters.  If she wanted you to know about this, she would have told you herself.”

“Daughters?  Plural?” Maddan asked, his eyes going again over the group and stopping on Greca.

Greca felt his mind trying to read her thoughts, but with just a little effort she managed to avoid the invasion, mostly because Maddan didn’t press on with his attack.

Several hurried steps could be heard in the hallways, and soon another three warriors were with the group, two men and a woman.  The three were looking at the group with open curiosity, all three of them staring at Malkia.

“Dendro?  Is there something you would want to share with the group?” one of the warriors asked.

“I asked the same question,” Maddan said.

“What’s your name?” the woman asked Malkia.  “And who is the young lady with you?”

“My name is Malkia, I’m Antrax’s partner and this is my sister Greca,” Malkia knew why the group looked so interested in her, but she didn’t try to offer more information.

“Your son’s partner?” Agis asked.  “After the unfortunate accident of your own partner, I would expect you to take her as your partner.”

“I respect both Kaiserin and my son too much to do something like that,” Dendro said.

A heated discussion started between Dendro and the Imperial warriors, especially the first two they found, and after a while nor Malkia nor Greca fully understood what they were talking about, but they knew that the fight was about their mother and what they thought they deserved from her.  After a few minutes they heard laughter from the other side of the hallway, and Malkia was surprised to see Kimball walking their way.

“What are you laughing about?” Agis asked.

“It’s fun watching you fight over something you already lost, especially since I have it.”

“You don’t even know what we are talking about,” another of the warriors pointed out.

“The correct term would be to say someone they lost, not something,” Ethan corrected at the same time the other talked, and that caught the attention of a couple of the warriors, the ones that haven’t been part of the discussion and therefore were more focused on what was going on around them.”

“Who do you think you are to interrupt our discussion'” Maddan challenged him.

“Father?” Greca chose that moment to ask, “What are you doing here?” Her words left the group in silence, some making the connection faster than others.  Since Greca was Malkia’s sister, and Malkia was so obviously Kaiserin’s daughter, then that meant that Greca was also her daughter, and if Kimball was her father, that would make him Kaiserin’s partner.

“You shouldn’t have said that?” Ethan complained, “you are only encouraging him, encouraging his bad attitude.”

“I think you forgot a few things the last time we saw each other,” Malkia told Ethan.

“Do you think so?  I believe everything has its time and place, that wasn’t the right moment.”

“I don’t appreciate you being here, especially since our mother insisted I had to stay away from the Palace for so long.  What makes you so especial?”  Malkia complained, her frustration so bad she forgot to think about the consequences of her words before speaking.

“Well, for starters, I’m not a copy of her, and if no one had said anything about me being her son, no one would have found out, I would have been able to enter and leave without anyone knowing about it, that gives me an advantage, one you can’t have while looking so much like her,” after his words Malkia looked around and realized everyone was watching them and listening to their conversation.

“There is no way this could be true.  Kaiserin would never stoop so low as to have relations with a mutant,” Agis complained, using the word mutant as an insult.

“I don’t see how it would be bad for the most powerful psychic in the world to be with the most powerful mutant in the world,” Ethan said, speaking out for his father.

“I think our mother was being way too protective asking me to hide with the Assassins for so long,” Malkia said, still bothered with the situation and Ethan’s presence.

“Do you want to know why she insisted you needed to be away from this clan?  Take a look at General Agis’ mind,” Ethan told Malkia, but it was Greca who took the initiative, and she didn’t like what found on his superficial thoughts.

“Ethan is right, you should see what he is planning,” Greca said, “he is thinking of going to the Emperor and request for you to be taken from the Assassins and put under his supervision, he will claim you belong to the Imperial Clan, but his intentions are…” Greca didn’t go on, she simply let Malkia borrow her powers so she could see the same things she was seeing.

Agis wasn’t going to stay still, as soon as he felt the sister’s minds, he started building barriers in his mind, but their curiosity and combined power was enough to tear them apart, still, Agis had an advantage over them, one that fell apart when a third mind joined them.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Agis complained.  “Get out of my mind immediately.”

“Who do you think you are to try and take my partner?” Antrax, who had been quiet until then, asked.  “I don’t care who Malkia’s mother was, she is my partner and she stays with me.”

“I said, out of my mind!” Agis repeated, attacking Ethan, who was the closest to him, but before he could connect, Kimball shook off the cuffs and grabbed Agis by his jacket, throwing him against a wall.

“I was waiting for you to give me a chance to do this,” Kimball said with a smirk, as he hit Agis against the wall again and again, but then his movements started to get slower, several threads of hair started wrapping around him, holding him still.

“It’s not that I don’t appreciate someone knocking some sense into Agis,” the woman said, “but I can’t let someone just attack an Imperialist in our own stronghold.”

“How is it possible for him to free himself?” Maddan questioned the warrior that had been escorting Kimball and Ethan.  “And the kid is supposed to have his powers blocked before being allowed to enter this part of the Palace.”

“And we did,” the warrior answered, picking up the cuffs, “we even tried with a few other kinds, this are the strongest ones, and he said he wouldn’t be able to break this ones.”

“And I didn’t, I opened them,” Kimball said, he had been forced to let Agis go, his movements growing slower and more difficult.

“And I checked that the blocker was working myself,” the warrior said, “besides, he was classified as an empath, there was no reason to think he could do something like this.”

“I’m sorry,” Ethan said, but it was obvious he didn’t mean that, “but blockers make me feel weird, so I disabled it.  And even if empathy is my main ability, I’m actually classified as a hybrid.”

Before they could continue the discussion, a flare enveloped Kimball, burning all the hair wrapped around him, freeing him from the bondage and returning him his freedom of movement.  His dark skin showed a few burns that were healing before the eyes of the other warriors.

“I will take care of them,” Maddan said, and by the way his subordinate was acting, it was clear that more had been added telepathically.

“You feel dangerous,” one of the men told Ethan, “I can’t figure out why, yet.”

“I think, uncle Kozlak, that is because you can feel my confidence, and there’s only two kind of people that would be this confident in the middle or enemy territory, those that are incredibly stupid, and those who are very strong, and since you know who my mother is, you should know I’m not stupid.  Knowledge is power, and I’m carrying quite the arsenal.”

“And what do you know?” another of the warriors challenged him.

“I know your name is Geb, and that you served under my mother’s command, and I also know you were with the group who found her and helped her get her memory back.”

“This is not the moment to be talking about that,” Agis said, he had managed to get Kaiserin’s children’s minds out of his, and had moved to where Malkia was standing.  “Why don’t you come with me to a private space where we can discuss the situation more calmly?”

“She is going nowhere with you,” Antrax quickly answered, stepping between him and Malkia.

“You are wasting your time, Agis, Malkia won’t fall into your hands,” Kimball said.

“You think you can stop me?” Agis challenged him.

“I made sure, a long time ago, that if you dared put your hand on her, it would be the last thing you did,” Kimball said, with a menacing smile, while Maddan was checking the cuffs, probably looking for a way to put them back on Kimball, but he eventually decided it would be a waste of time.

“What do you mean by that?” Agis asked.

“If you were paying attention, Agis, you would have already noticed that she is Antrax’s partner, and he is the heir to the Assassins, there is a very particular characteristic that they must have so their union can be possible.  I agree, we have a lot to talk about, and this is not the place for that,” the woman looked around, they were still in the hallway and sound could carry in that place.

“I have no problem with that,” Malkia said, “I too have a lot of questions.  But I don’t want him to be with us,” she said, pointing to Agis, who still looked a little out of control.

“Don’t worry, we will make this first meeting a family affair.”

“And what about me?” Geb protested.

“You can come as my partner,” she said, and noticed Maddan’s stare.  “We could include those two in the reunion, and you could come with the excuse of guarding them,” she suggested, pointing Kimball and Ethan.

“No matter how attractive the idea sounds, I have my orders with regards to these two, and now that I’ve seen what they are capable of, I think it would be best if I take care of them personally.”

Both Kimball and Ethan smiled at that, the similarities between the two becoming even more clear thanks to the identical expressions on their faces.

Will we see each other soon?‘ Greca asked Ethan using telepathy.

It depends, if everything goes well, it’s probable that we will make a lot of enemies and will be forced to leave the territory fast to avoid problems, the other option is that we will end in the dungeons.

Take care, there is a lot you still have to explain,‘ Greca warned.

You too sister, remember that you are in a greater danger than I.’

Greca had seen Agis mind and his hidden desires, she knew that Malkia was the one in the greatest risk, but she also knew that the attention could easily shift to her once they found out she was also Kaiserin’s daughter.

Bonus: Alliance

Kimball, Mthunzi and a small group of warriors arrived at the edge of the Assassin’s territory and were soon intercepted by a group of sentries patrolling the border.  Once they explained who they were, Kimball and Mthunzi were escorted to the city.  As soon as they arrived, they were taken to a room where Dendro was already waiting for them, sitting at the head of the table that took most of the room.

“Greetings,” Mthunzi said, respectfully, but still managing to sound haughty.  “Thank you for receiving us.  My name is Mthunzi and I’m the leader of the Shadows, and this is General Kimball.”

“We know each other,” Kimball said, “it’s a pleasure to see you again.”

“The last time I didn’t get a chance to thank you for your help,” Dendro said, “so I want to do it now.  Thanks you for helping us save Malkia’s life.”

“I have to say the pleasure was mine, as you can imagine, after talking to my son, my actions weren’t for your benefit, I was acting on my own best interest.”

“Even so, you did my son and I a great favor.  Please, take a seat,” Dendro added, pointing to the seats in front of him.

They were just sitting down when the door opened and a couple of Generals, followed by Antrax, Malkia and a group of guards that included Greca, entered the room.  As soon as Malkia saw Kimball her face filled with surprise and happiness, she was fast to hide her reaction, but most of the people there was able to catch her reaction.

“Kimball?” she asked, not taking her eyes off of him.  “What are you doing here?”

“Do you know him?” Dendro asked, doing a better job of hiding his surprise.

“He was a frequent visitor at the Fortress.  I had the chance of speaking with him on several occasions during his visits.  But I wasn’t expecting to see him again, especially not here.”

“These two are the representatives from the Shadow’s Clan,” Dendro explained, “and General Kimball is the man who visited us previously.”

“He is the one that helped us save you,” Greca said, “the man that managed to escape our cells.”  Malkia didn’t react to the new information, lost in her thought for a moment, she watched Kimball and then her eyes turned to her sister.

Do you remember that I told you about Kimball when we were in the Fortress?‘ Malkia asked her sister telepathically.

The warrior that used to go visit his daughter every year,‘ Greca said, and as soon as she said that, it was like the pieces of a puzzle she didn’t even know she had, fell into place.  Greca stared at Kimball, as if she could read the truth on his face.  “Are you my father?” she asked directly, and a huge smile broke on Kimball’s face.

“I knew that you would be able to figure it out, but I have to admit that even I’m impressed by how fast you reached that conclusion.”

“I’ll take that as a yes,” Greca said, not knowing exactly how else to react.

“It wasn’t a coincidence that you happened to be near our clan when I needed help, was it?”  Malkia asked.  “You knew what was going to happen, somehow.”

“Your mother was the one who told me you were in danger.  She wanted to come herself to fix the problem, but because of my abilities, we thought I was a better choice to come here.  Besides, I had a promise to fulfill.”

A memory that Malkia had forgotten resurfaced.  She remembered one of her talks with Kimball.  She had been still a little girl then, jealous of Kimball’s daughter because he visited her every year.  At the time the only relative she knew was her sister, but she wanted a connection like the one Kimball had with his daughter.  She had even asked one of the trainers what a father was, and he had told her that father was the one who gave you life, whose blood ran through your veins.  During his next visit, she had even told Kimball she wished she was his daughter, and he had told her that he would be honored to call her his daughter, but Malkia insisted that was impossible since they didn’t share the same blood, he had tried to explain there were different kinds of fathers, other than the biological one, but said he understood if she didn’t share the same way of thinking.  He also told her that if it had been in his power, then she would have been like to be her father.

“So you helped me live, by giving me your blood,” Malkia said.  Thinking again of her old description of what a father was.

You know our laws prohibit interfering in the life of the dark ones,” Mthunzi said, using the most common language between the Mzansiers, the one that resembled the one used by the Rebel Clans.  “You know the punishment that kind of actions have, just wait until our King hears about this,” Mthunzi continued, almost happy, just thinking about it.

What makes you think he doesn’t know?” Kimball asked, not looking concerned with Mthunzi’s veiled threats.

If he knew…” she started, but then thought about it.  “When was the last time you went to Mzansi?”  Kimball only stared at her as his answer.  “So you were exiled!  The mighty Kimball has fallen from grace.

That’s relative, we all know perfectly that Kgosi didn’t exile me because I broke the rules, but because he thinks he will be able to stop the inevitable by keeping me away.  But don’t you worry about it, this is between the King and me, it has nothing to do with you.

“You got into trouble because of me?” Malkia asked, she had understood enough of the conversation to know what helping her had costed him.

“Nothing for you to worry about, besides, this is only a temporary setback, nothing that really affected me.  But that’s not why we are here, we have some business to do, and maybe, later, we could have a private talk,” Kimball said, looking between Malkia and Greca.  Both sisters looked at each other and quickly reached a decision.

“Once the meeting is over, we can stay and talk for a while, I’m sure there is a lot to talk about.  And some things that have to be explained,” Malkia said.

Kimball only smiled, happy, because for the first time, after so many years, he would be able to talk to his daughters, face to face, without lies or barriers between them.  Mthunzi didn’t worry him, after all they were equals, both of them Generals of Mzansi, even if they were from different divisions and Mthunzi was the leader of the biggest one, Kimball was sure about his situation and saw no need to get involved in posturing or pointless discussions.  Everything was going according to his plans, and soon his family would be united, if not physically, at least in essence.

Chapter 46

I had the feeling something was about to happen, and I knew better than to ignore it, it didn’t feel like something bad, just something relevant.  I was walking back to my Suite in the Palace, lost in my own mind, but still aware enough to realize I was being followed.  I just needed a little focus to realize who was, but instead of sending my guards after him, I used telepathy to let them know I no longer needed them.  I was sure they had noticed we were being followed, but still, they followed my orders.  I took a few more turns and then went inside of the many rooms there, not long after Camil followed me inside.

“Greetings, Camil, I guess you wanted to talk to me?” I told him.

“That’s right,” he said, “I’m sorry for the approach, it’s just I wasn’t sure how to ask for a meeting.”

“That’s alright, how can I help you?”

“Melchizedek spoke greatly of you, that’s why I decided to ask you for advice,” I could briefly feel he was uncomfortable, but I had to admire his courage to talk to me.

“If there is something I can help you with, then I would gladly do it.”

“I don’t know if my grandma or uncle have talked to you, but they decided it’s time for me to step into my place inside the Dominion and become the King.  The thing is, I don’t think that’s the best option.  From all I have been told, and all I have seen, I believe William is doing a good job, and I’m not sure I’m the right person to take over.  There are a lot of things I don’t quite understand yet, and I don’t want to fail people depending on me.  What do you think?  Do you think I should just get over my doubts and become the King?”

“I don’t like telling you what to do, but I think that your feelings are valid and it speaks greatly of you that you have those doubts, the fact that you are paying attention to them shows that you have a good head over your shoulders.  I think that you should first think about what you want, that’s the important part, then you can think about everything else, and decide what’s more important for you.  You need to look for alternatives, see if there are other options where you would feel more comfortable.  You are right by saying that William has done an excellent job, he is a very good King, despite everything, but you must know that even if he loses that position, he has other options and he will find a way to keep working for the good of the Dominion and its people.  And you could do the same.”

“It’s just that my grandma and uncle talk about it as if it’s a sure thing, and I don’t even know what to think anymore.”

“Both of them love you, and want what’s best for you.  If you feel that being King it’s not the best for you, maybe they will help you find alternatives.”

“So you don’t think I’m being selfish for not wanting to be the King?”

“We didn’t bring you here because we needed you to be the King, but because this is where you belong, and because you were at risk, in fact, if it had been safe for you to stay in the Kingdom, it’s possible that Sofia wouldn’t have asked to bring you here.  William and Sofia want only what’s best for you, and your happiness it’s important to them, that’s why I think they won’t have a problem if you decide you don’t want to be a king, just make sure that whatever decision you make, it’s for the right reasons.”

“Thank you, I really appreciate your words, and I think this chat will help me a lot,” Camil gave me a small bow and I could feel his sincerity.  “Our talk has given me a lot to think about, so I will leave, thank you for taking the time to speak with me, I really appreciate it.”

Camil left the room, and I moment later I did too, and I found my guards had returned and were waiting for me.  At first I had thought that the feeling I was feeling had something to do with Camil, but after our talk had finished, I realized that I still had that feeling that warned me something was about to happen.

I wasn’t sure what it was, but since it wasn’t a bad feeling, I decided to keep my routine, I had dinner with Kimball and Ethan, talked about our days and I let them know what I knew about the Empire.  The Succession Battle had ended, and as I suspected, Trajan’s son had won the right to be the next Emperor.  I wasn’t sure if he was going to be a good ruler, but I hoped he would be a good one, if he was anything like his father, I just hoped it would be easy to speak with him and that it would be possible for him to recognize the Shadow’s Clan without him making a big issue out of it.

It wasn’t until I was lying down in bed that I realized what the feeling had been telling me, I felt a call at the distance, a need, and without thinking about it, I went into the astral planes, following the call.  It didn’t take long to find Malkia, and I could see that she had been trying to contact me for a while.

Greeting, Malkia.  To what do I owe this meeting?

It’s good to see you, I wasn’t sure you were coming,‘ she told me, and I felt angry at her words.

If you need me, then I will be here,‘ I immediately replied.

I know, you haven’t failed me yet, even if it has been a while since we had a talk like this one.  I don’t know if you are aware, but a new Emperor was chosen.  As allies to their clan, the Assassins had a right to be there, but Antrax and I had to stay, again, because we couldn’t risk something happening to me.  Dendro insisted it wasn’t a good idea for me to be there.

And he was right, your presence during the battle would have been really dangerous for you.  You may not believe me, but not being there probably saved your life.

Why?  That’s what I want to know.  Why it’s so important for me to stay away?

Because, as the daughter of two high ranking officers, you had a right to be there, just like the others taking part of the battle, but none of them would be willing to let you take that opportunity.

What do you mean by that?‘ Malkia asked, her tone turning tentative.

That’s one of the reasons we have worked so hard to keep you away from anyone that could recognize you.  You are part of a great dynasty, and because of that, you have a right to the throne,‘ I knew that I was taking a risk by giving her another piece of the puzzle, but I needed her to really understand the situation, and to start giving her the information she deserved to know.

Even if that was true, I’m Antrax’s partner, I have no intention of leaving him for another clan,‘ even if her words were sincere, I also knew she haven’t had a chance to process the information I was giving her, besides, she didn’t understand that it didn’t really matter what she intended to do, the others would still take any actions they could to keep her away from the throne.  My own experience showed what some people would be willing to do to secure the throne.

That doesn’t matter, many people won’t listen to your words, they will just act.  If you had been present before or during the battle, you would have put a target on your back.

‘But I’m Antrax’s partner, the future leader of the Assassins, I can’t keep hiding forever,’ Malkia said angrily, and I had to admit she had reason to be mad at the situation.

And you won’t have to hide forever, once Pompeyo solidifies his position, your presence won’t be such a big threat.  There will still be some risk, I wan’t you to remember that, but there will be other factors that will help for your position not to be so dangerous.  I just hope that you had taken my advice to heart and are prepared to fight for your life if you need to.  You will need to be ready to face really powerful enemies.

What did you do that was so terrible that even I have to face the consequences?‘ Malkia asked, and I could hear some resentment in her voice.

I did something they couldn’t forgive, I dared to be stronger than them,‘ I explained.  ‘There were many that weren’t happy with that, many that did their best to take me out of their way, and then resented me for fighting back.  For many the fact that I was more powerful than them became a personal affront.  And the problem is that many that couldn’t defeat me, will see you as a second chance for revenge.

‘Even so, the next time we receive a summon from the Empire, I will answer,’ Malkia warned, and I knew I couldn’t blame her for that decision.

All I can do is wish you luck, and ask you that you keep your guard up as soon as you enter the Imperial Palace’s territory.  I really wish it could be different, but this is our situation.  I’m sorry that I couldn’t be more clear from the beginning, and for everything I hid from you, but I want you to know that everything I have done, I’ve done it thinking on your best interest.  Yours and your sister’s.’

Thank you,‘ Malkia said, ‘I actually feel better after talking to you.‘  Malkia got lost in her own thoughts for a moment, and I realized that she had more questions, but wasn’t sure if she should ask them.  I couldn’t blame her, since I wasn’t always forthcoming with my answers.  ‘When are we going to meet?  You said that one day we would be able to meet each other, but years have gone by and you still keep your distance.  For a long time I thought you were nothing but a fragment of my imagination.

The time for us to meet is approaching.  There are a lot of things going on in the world, and that means that our chance to meet is coming.  Again, I’m sorry that we haven’t had the chance to meet face to face before now, but there is a reason for that.

‘I will trust you, for now,’ Malkia said, ‘but I hope that the next time we talk to each other, it will be face to face,’ she asked, in part as a request, but in part as a threat.

‘Maybe, or maybe not, you are about to get some surprises, and I hope you can see how much I love you once you get them, and that you can see that no matter the circumstances, you are always in my thoughts.’

‘Again with the riddles,’ Malkia’s astral representation smiled a last time before starting to dissolve.

‘Thinks will become clearer, sooner than you think,’ I told the air, as Malkia was already gone.

Malkia wanted to see me, but it wasn’t our time yet, but Kimball would get to see her soon, which would likely give her more questions than answers, but that would give her some explanations.  I knew, even if I didn’t fully understand, that Kimball had always seen Malkia as a daughter, and that he would give his own life for her, just like he would for Ethan or Greca.  Greca was also going to get a big surprise once Kimball arrived to her clan, and I wondered how long would it take her to realize who he really was to her.  Mzansi’s rules stopped him from interfering or revealing any information to her, but I knew Kimball didn’t mind ignoring those rules when he needed to, like what he had done when Malkia needed him, I also knew that it would be proud and honored if Greca managed to guess by herself who he was.

There were so many things to be done, and so little time.  I got out of the astral planes and went back to my body, and I found it being held in Kimball’s arms.  I felt more calm and confident about the future, and I went to sleep, hoping to get some rest so I could be ready to face a new day.

Chapter 37

We were in the middle of an unknown territory, among enemy forces.  From what Melchizedek had told me, the Light ones weren’t as good and sweet as they pretended to be, and I knew that they could cause trouble for us, even if I wasn’t concerned about them hurting us.  I knew that this was not only and important mission, but a chance to see Melchizedek for the first time in years, and even if I couldn’t pretend that this was only a meeting between old friends, I decided to bring Kimball and Ethan with me.

“You should wait here, but if you think there might be trouble or if you think everything is under control and there’s no problem with getting closer, then you can come here, but for now, just try to be discreet,” I asked them.

“I don’t think you can be discreet in this place, there’s no way you won’t be noticed using that uniform.”

I ignored Kimball, mostly because I knew he was right, and kept walking to a point from where I could watch the couple moving through the temple’s gardens.

“There must be another choice,” Mistral was saying, “you can’t leave.”

“You don’t see what I see, every time they speak, I can see the fakeness twirling around their words.  I’m no longer sure this is a good place, and I’m afraid if I stay you could be also in danger.”

“But you can’t leave, where would you even go?  How would you survive?”

Both of them had been distracted while they walked, so none of them had realized they were not alone any longer, nor that they were being followed, but eventually they got too close to me not to notice me.  Charles’ son moved in front of Mistral, trying to protect her.  “Who are you?” he asked, as he started to move back, trying to put more distance between us.

“I don’t recommend moving back, there’s more danger behind you than in front,” after hearing my words, and recognizing the truth in them, they both looked over their shoulders and finally noticed the man that had been following them

“What is going on here?” Mistral asked, to no one in particular, I could see her fear and confusion, but her partner was doing his best to keep her protected from all the threats around them.

“The High Priests asked me to follow you, they are worried about your faithfulness and obedience, and the fact that you are consorting with a Dark one is a sign that they were right to doubt you.”

“Dark one?” Mistral asked, a note of hysterics coming to her voice as she looked at me with distrust and confusion, maybe even a hint of recognition.

“Now it won’t matter who your father, or your protector is, this is enough to send you to the Shadows, maybe even to offer you to the Goddess as a sacrifice.”

“And you call my people barbarians,” I said, “at least we don’t make elaborated lies to justify our actions.  We all know you are only looking for an excuse to do what you already were going to do.”

“Camil?” Mistral was looking at her companion asking for an explanation.

“Everything she says is true, but when he talks his words are full of half truths or outright lies.”

“And how do you know that?” the Light one asked, “Are you being helped by demons?”

I couldn’t help but laugh at his words, the situation was ridiculous, the guy knew the truth about powers and their nature, and still he was buying into his own lies.  “Your hypocrisy is outstanding,” I finally told him.

“My powers come from the Goddess,” he said.

“And why are you so sure his don’t come from the same place?  You know what? I don’t care about your answer, I just want to fix this.  I will give you the chance to leave this place, so you can see I’m not so bad, but if you stay here, I won’t guarantee your safety.”

“Sinners and infidels, I won’t let you get away with this,” from somewhere between his clothes he managed to get a knife out and moved to Camil and Mistral, but using my powers I threw him in the opposite direction, making him hit a column with enough force to knock him out.

“You killed him!” Camil said.

“No, I didn’t, he is still alive, and I think you should remember that if he had gotten away with it, he would have killed you.”

“Who are you?  What do you want?” Mistral asked.

“I thank you for your help,” Camil said, more diplomatically, “but I think it’s time for you to leave here, you are not welcome.”

“I’m afraid I can’t go, not unless you come with me.  You are the main reason I came here today.”

“I won’t let you take him,” Mistral said, turning brave as soon as someone she cared about was threatened.

A feeling of peace and calmness fell like a blanket over us, and I immediately knew that Melchizedek had decided to join us.  After taking a moment to search the surrounding area I realized that he was getting closer, but he wasn’t coming from the same place as Camil and Malkia, he was coming from the other side, from behind me.  I turned around just in time to see him getting out of the tree line, and noticed he wasn’t alone, Ethan was with him, smiling, but also looking a little confused.  Without thinking about it, I started moving towards them, only to have Mistral appearing between us, holding the knife the other guy had used against her, blanding it inexpertly.

“Not another step,” she warned me, but I ignored her, using my powers to take the knife from her and throw it away, then to hold her still while I moved passed her and into Melchizedek’s open arms.

“It’s been so long since I saw you!” I greeted him while I lost myself in his embrace, feeling the safeness and peacefulness that I had missed so much.

“It’s good to see you again, darling,” Melchizedek told me.

I let go of my hold over Mistral, allowing her to turn and see what was going on.  I couldn’t see her, but still I could tell she was confused and even a little bit mad, even with Melchizedek’s influence.

“Sir?” Camil asked, moving closer to where we were.

“Are you ok?” Melchizedek asked him.

“Confused, do you know this… Dark one?  She is a Dark one, isn’t she?”

“Yes dad, what’s going on?”

“I think that deep down, you know what’s going on, my dear.”

“She is getting her powers back, that means her memories must be coming back too,” I agreed with Melchizedek, she had to know more, even if she was refusing to believe it.  “I see you already met my son Ethan,” I said, changing the topic and trying to figure out why they had arrived together.

“I found him on my way here, and he agreed to come with me.”

“You knew who he was,” I was sure, Melchizedek’s powers were far superior from mine, and I was sure he knew all there was to be known about Ethan already.

“He even called me by name,” Ethan confirmed, “but I’m sure I would have known who he was, just by looking at him after all you told me about him.  What I don’t get is why you call him the most powerful empath there is, he has strength, but he lacks control.

“Maybe he doesn’t have the same kind of control as you in how he affects those around him, but he has a lot of control over his own feelings.  Just imagine the kind of damage someone like him could do by being angry or scared and projecting those feelings, imagine the chaos.  You know I’m always going after you to control your emotions because of the kind of damage you could do by projecting all those feelings without control.”

“You may be right,” he accepted.

“Could someone explain to me what’s going on?” Mistral asked, some traces of frustration going over her father’s influence.

“I would also like to know who she is and what’s she doing here.”

“This is Kaiserin, former Empress of the Dark Empire,” Melchizedek introduced me, “and she is here to take you with her.”

“What? No!” Mistral said, moving in front of Camil as if she could protect him.

“You know who he is,” Melchizedek nodded, but I didn’t need the confirmation, I expected him to already know everything about the young man he had taken under his protection.

“I know, and I have done my best to prepare him for his future.  And you arrived just in time, for the High Priests are already suspicious of his powers, and they don’t trust their ability to turn him to their side, they know he is a good person, and one that is not fooled by their lies.”

“He has become a risk, they no longer want to have him around in case he could turn against them or betray their secrets,” I said, getting a better understanding of the situation.

“There’s nothing they fear more than truth, since all their teachings are based on lies and secrets.”

“Daddy, I don’t get what’s going on.  Please, explain to me what this is, how do you know her?”

“Could we have this conversation in another place?” Kimball’s voice reached us.  “A group of people is heading this way.  It would be better to move this conversation to a place where there isn’t a risk of people walking into a Dark one.”

“Of course, that’s a good idea, let’s more to a more secluded place where we can talk without problems,” Melchizedek agreed.  “I promise to explain everything, even if I think you already know the answers, you just have to accept them.”

We walked in silence for a while, with Kimball in the front, guiding us to the place we had already prepared just for this reason, and where Sofia would be waiting for us.  Despite the lack of words, there was plenty of communication going on around us, Camil and Mistral giving each other looks and gestures meant to reassure each other, while Melchizedek’s smile was all I needed to know how glad he was about our meeting.  Kimball also was looking at me, letting me know that everything was alright, while Ethan just looked around, absorbing as much information as he could.  We finally arrived to our destination, an improvised camp with a group of warriors watching us just from out of sight, while Sofia waited in the center.  When we moved closer, I noticed that Sofia was in trance, and I actually felt the vision that had her trapped calling to me.

“I think this is the first time that the three most powerful Seers in the world had been in the same place,” Melchizedek pointed out, “usually this kind of power is placed in different parts of the world.”

“With Sofia and me in the same place, the balance must have been seriously affected a long time ago,” I pointed out.

“Not that much, the Dark Empire has a lot of seers, that helps to keep the equilibrium.”

“Is that how you know each other?  You meet in the Fog of the Future?” Camil asked.

“Not really, in fact, it was Melch who taught me how to walk the fog, he was my teacher.”

“Can we start from the beginning?  I really need to understand what’s going on here,” Mistral asked.

“Of course, that’s only fair.  But I’m pretty sure that you at least have an idea of who I am, deep down.  I saw how you appeared in front of me, that means you are using your powers again, that wouldn’t be possible if you didn’t have at least part of your memories back.”

“How do you know so much?  Who are you?  Tell me, no more evasion, or mores questions.”

“You know that, I’m your godmother.”

Mistral stayed quiet and silent, she didn’t deny my words like I expected her to do.  I could see her going over my words and her memories, trying to find something to confirm or deny my words.

“Sometimes I remember a woman’s voice, but when I try to see her face something else distracts me and I can’t focus on her anymore.  There are some memories, some things and feelings that I can’t get a hold on, like the feeling of getting lost in time, the feeling of moving from one place to another in the blink of an eye.  Sometimes I even see myself in another place with different people.”

“Those are suppressed memories, from a past you no longer remember,” I tried to explain.

“Why can’t I remember?”

“Because a long time ago you asked me to block your powers, and the only way I knew how to do it, was by hiding some of your memories.”

“Are you going to do that again?”

“The first time I did it because you asked me to, and I may do it again if it’s something you really want, but the first time it was because you were too young and impulsive and we were afraid you wouldn’t be able to hide your powers from other people.  But now you are all grown up, you are capable of hiding your powers, and of knowing when it’s ok to use them.  What happened before was your reaction to what you perceived as a threat, but once you have the right tools, you will be able to control that kind of thing from happening if you don’t want it to.”

“I want my memories back,” Mistral asked, “I want to understand what’s going on and see for myself what’s going on, right now I feel like everyone knows something I don’t, I feel I don’t see the whole picture and I hate that.”

“If you are sure about it, then I can help.”

“Wait a minute,” Camil asked, “are you sure you can trust her?  She is a Dark one.”

“You can answer that question better than I can.  What do you see?  Is she lying or telling the truth?”

“She seems to be telling the truth, but I don’t know if it’s a good idea to trust her, besides, she wants to take me with her, and she hadn’t explained why.”

“What do you know about your origins?  Your past?” I asked him.

“There are a lot of rumors and guesses about my past, and something tells me you know more about it than me.”

“There is so much to talk about that I don’t know where to start,” I said.

“What about the beginning?”

“I will, but could you give me a few minutes first?  I would like to work a little on Mistral, try and free some of her memories about the Shadowlands, that way she will understand better what we have to say.”

No one objected to my suggestion, so while Camil and Melchizedek had a private conversation, and Kimball and Ethan moved away, either to give us privacy or make sure we were safe, Mistral and I took some of the free chairs near Sofia.

“What do I have to do?” Mistral asked, looking a little nervous.

“Nothing special, you just need to relax and try not to fight this.  The only reason this worked so well the first time was because you trusted me, and didn’t put any resistance to my influence, and I need that right now.”

“You must be telling the truth, because I feel like I can trust you, sure, my first reaction wasn’t a good one, and all my teachings tell me to run the opposite direction from you, but deep down I feel like I could trust you.  If not in you, at least in my father, he had always guided me in the right direction, and I trust him.”

Feeling a lot better after her words, I went into her mind.  What I had done with her was different from what my father had done to me, he had hidden my memories behind closed doors and inside protected chests, I had gone for a less painful option.  Mistral’s landscape was also different, she wasn’t a telepath, and because of that her mental landscape was very basic, without visual representations, still, a lot of time had gone by since the last time I had been in there, and what I found was very different, I was hard to find my way to where I had hidden her memories.  Instead of locking them up like my father had done, I had put them behind other memories, masking them and distracting her from looking into them with the brighter, happier memories before them.  The attractiveness of those memories had lost its power with time, and I could see some of the memories shining from behind them, trying to get out.  Recovering those memories was extremely easy, all I had to do was move them from behind and leaving them in a place where they could be easily accessed.  She had already been trying to reach them, and some had escaped in their own, making the whole process extremely easy.  The fact that I didn’t find any resistance was a sign that she did trust me.

Hiding her memories and locking her powers had been a long process, but freeing them had taken just a few minutes.  I finished my task and got out of her mind.  She opened her eyes and stared at me for a moment, I could see her wince in pain and realized that despite my best efforts, I haven’t been able to shield her from all the pain, having that much memories dumped on her, had still affected her.  I knew there wasn’t much I could do, so I just waited, and just a moment after her face lighted up in recognition and she threw herself into my arms.

“Nina!  I can’t believe I forgot who you were.  Well, I do, I asked you for this, after all, but it’s incredible someone can forget someone like you.  There are so many things I have to ask, things I need to clarify.  I feel like a big part of me had been hidden, and I feel complete for the first time in forever.”

“That’s exactly what happened, those secrets were necessary, but left you with only half a picture,” Melchizedek said.  “But it’s good to see you have them back and that we can talk freely now.”

I saw the same painful wince in Mistral, and then she looked solemnly at her father.  “You weren’t accepted as a Priest because of your powers, you are not a Blessed one that was guided to them, you are part of that family, you were destined to be a High Priest,” she said.

“That’s right, they are also your family, our family, but their hypocrisy made them reject us and put us to the side.”

“I see everything so differently now, is like the pieces of the puzzle are falling into place, but I don’t see the image I’m putting together,” Mistral said, and I could see she was sad because of that.  “What I still don’t get is why you are here and why are you interested in a Light one,” Mistral said.  “Why do you want to take him away?”

“I’m afraid I’m the reason for that,” Sofia said, finally out of her trance.  “Kaiserin is only helping me getting reunited to my grandson.”