Bonus 1

Hello

The previous chapter was the last chapter of book 3.  I will take some time off before starting with the new book.  Right now I’m working on getting book 1 ready to be published as an e-book, and it will take me some time, but I will try to get back to regular posting as soon as possible.  In the meanwhile I will try to publish a few bonus stories, mostly about what happened the night that Faakhir and Emily died.

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“I can’t understand how you can be so ok with all this,” William said.  “Kaiserin betrayed us, she took things under her own hands and took the Dominion for herself.  She broke her promises once, how can you be so sure she won’t do it again?”

“Kaiserin did what she did because she had no other choice.  And we are here for our safety,” Sofia said.

“I’m not so sure about that.  You can’t keep closing your eyes to what’s in front of you.  It’s just like before, Kaiserin took a taste of power and she doesn’t want to share it with anyone, just like my sister.”

“I think you are misjudging her, you are wrong about this.  You just need to give this some time, you will see, everything is going to be fine.”

William knew it was pointless to keep discussing with his mother, she trusted Kaiserin and nothing he could say would change her mind, but he wasn’t so sure that trust was placed in the right person.  Kaiserin had promised them that they would be part of her effort to take the Dominion back, but she had moved without them, leaving them out of the loop.  He couldn’t help but think she had done that to keep them out.

After living with his sister’s betrayal and all the pain he had to endure after that, William had trouble trusting people.  His power helped him know if a person was being truthful or not, all he had to do was ask a question and the person would be forced to tell him the truth.  Some people avoided him for that reason, but Kaiserin was different, even when he was using his power against her, he had the feeling she wasn’t telling him everything.  That, and the fact that she was avoiding him, told him that she had something to hide, and he wouldn’t be at peace until he knew what had really happened.  For the moment, all he knew was that he couldn’t trust her, but he had no choice but to stay there, because Kaiserin and his mother agreed that he needed to stay in Aquarium, like when he was a prisoner of his sister.

They all thought that Kaiserin was their savior, and that everything would be just fine, just because she was in charge, but he wasn’t sure about that.  But no matter what he thought, only time would show who was right, if him for not trusting Kaiserin, or his mother for trusting her.

 

Chapter 52

It was a long day, followed by an even longer night.  I hadn’t been able to sleep, in part because I was afraid that as soon as lowered my guard and fell asleep, the nightmares would attack, after everything I had gone through during the day, I knew I couldn’t let myself vulnerable to my own mind.  But I also stayed awake because there was a lot of work to be done, I needed to supervise all the activities that my men were doing all around the Dominion.  The army, working under my command, thanks to a few well positioned contacts, was in control of all the important government locations around the Dominion, and in some parts, they had also taken some of the most important streets, making sure there were no one able to protest or fight me.  The rebellions we had contacted during the last years had agreed to stay quiet, and let us take control, they would only act if we did something to affect their people of if the situation got out of control.  So far, people had been either too surprised or too afraid to do anything against me.

I had an important meeting early next morning.  I had chosen that time to give the other two time to rest, but as soon as I saw Fatima and then Sofia through the video conference, I knew neither of them had been able to sleep.

“Good morning Sofia,” I greeted the old Queen, once we established communication with Aquarium.  Without Emily and Faakhir we had felt comfortable enough to relax some of the security protocols around Aquarium, and Kimball had agreed to open all communications between us.

“Good morning Kaiserin, it’s a pleasure to be able to talk to you again,” Sofia said, but I couldn’t be sure if she was as sincere as she seemed.  It was the first chance I had to directly talk to her since I had killed her daughter.  I had been able to send her a message telling her what had happened and asking her to have a meeting with me, but I haven’t been able to explain.

“I’m so sorry about everything, I know this is not how things were supposed to happen,” I sincerely told her, “I feel guilty for not being able to keep my promise, you were supposed to be with me when I faced Emily, and I couldn’t wait for you, I had to act before you were able to arrive.”

“Don’t worry Kaiserin, I understand.  I know you wouldn’t have done it if there was another way.  A part of me regrets not having a last chance to talk to my daughter and try to make her understand, to change her mind, but another part of me knows just how pointless it would have been, and that maybe it was better this way.  I even prefer it, maybe I’m being a coward, but I’m glad my daughter didn’t have another chance to hurt me like she did so many times before.”

“Even so, I’m sorry for your loss, I know this is not how you wanted it to end.  I would like to tell you that you lost your daughter to Faakhir’s manipulations, and that it was his mind control that changed her, but I know that you wouldn’t believe me.  He did give help her become the woman she was, but it was something that would have happened with or without him.”

“I know that, and that’s why I don’t want you to feel guilty about what happened.  I always knew she would end like this, no matter how much I wished for a different ending,” she said, and I felt a weight I didn’t realize I was carrying, lifting from my shoulders.

“Now that we cleared things up, I think it’s time to discuss our next steps.”  I still was having trouble with the fog of the future, that’s why I needed them.  I did my best not to let them know how worried I was, but I knew that if anyone would be able to help, it was them.  They were both experienced Seeress, and they had proper training behind them.  “First of all, I need to confess that the reason I was taken by surprise by Emily and Faakhir was that my powers are not working properly, I haven’t been able to read the future in a while.  The last few times I even tried the paths were changing so fast that I couldn’t see a thing, and it was almost impossible to move in there.”

“We are approaching a critical moment in our history.  It’s not the first time something like this happens, every time the world is reaching a turning point, the future becomes hard to read.  Right now you can’t go into the fog alone, you need a guide or a helper if you want any chance of walking the paths,” Sofia explained.  Her words reminded me of another time I had been unable to read the future on my own, only that time I had assumed it was because I was inexperienced, and since Melchizedek had been there for me, I hadn’t realized the two situations were the same.

“I can still see the near future,” Fatima said, “but it’s not as clear as usual.  I think that for now, we should just let Kaiserin to keep going, to take over the Dominion and act as always.  I think we should keep Sofia and William out of the spotlight for a little longer.  They are safe, as long as they stay in Aquarium.  Once Kaiserin takes control, officially, a lot of things can go wrong, it’s better if we keep best cards hidden.

Fatima’s words made sense, I knew we still had a lot of enemies hidden in the shadows, and it was the perfect chance to bring them out in the open.  It was in our best interest to keep their targets contained, so when they decided to attack, their focus would be on me.  It would be also good to not let them know just how many allies I really had.

“I agree with Fatima,” Sofia said.  “I think that for the moment we should wait.  I know I’m asking too much of you, but if you could keep pretending to be that person, and take over my daughter’s position, I would be grateful.  I hope you can start working on healing all the damage Emily did, I know you are the only one who can do it.”

“I will do my best to keep things in order, and to get rid of our enemies, but remember, the plan has always been for you to take back the power, you are supposed to be the savior, not me.  Sooner or later you and William will have to take back your rightful positions.”

“Kaiserin, you were born to rule, just like me, maybe even more.  Your place is at the top, you are supposed to rule, either the Empire, or the Dominion, and you are here right now.”

We kept talking for a while, we still had some things to define, actions that would have to be taken the next days, but there was something very important that I had to do that day, and soon the time to officially take control of the Dominion was approaching.

My meeting with the Representatives and Ambassadors was approaching fast, I had to see them at noon, that meant that I didn’t have much time to prepare before I had to face them.  I didn’t want to go to war with any of them, and I hoped that all of them would recognize me.  I knew that their words that day wouldn’t guarantee that they wouldn’t fight me in the future, but it would give me time to try and fix things before they had the chance to attack.

Before facing them, there was something else I had to do.  I called Connor, the guard in charge of the school.  I had been able to communicate with Ethan using my powers, so I knew he was ok, but I needed to know how the rest of the kids were before I spoke to their parents.

“Connor, report.” I asked, as soon as he answered my call.

“Some of the parents of the kids tried to get them out of the school yesterday, but as you asked me, I made sure no one left the building.”

“Good job.  How are the kids?” I asked, I needed to know if the situation had affected them and how.

“All of them are ok, some of them are scared and most of them are worried, but in good health.  Most of them are familiar with the hostage procedure and know what is expected of them.  They are more worried about their parents than their own well being.”

“That’s the problem with war kids, they lose their innocence too soon, and learn to face the cruel side of life,” Kimball said, I hadn’t noticed he was there and that he was listening to my call, but I was glad to have him there, I always appreciated his support.  “Those kids are smart enough to know that if they are being held it’s because something is required of their parents, and they are being used as to force their parents to do something they don’t want to do, and they feel guilty because of that.”

“It’s a necessary evil,” I said, “if we can convince their parents of accepting me as the new leader of the Dominion and swear their loyalty to me, we will be saving a lot of lives that would be lost in a war.  They all think I’m a monster, a demon incapable of showing mercy.  They think I could kill their kids without a second thought about it, and that will help me keep control, at least for now.  Soon their parents will recognize me, and then we will be able to let the kids go back to their lives.  In the meantime, I trust you to keep them under control, Connor.”

“I won’t fail you, you have nothing to worry about,” Connor said.  “I will be waiting your new orders.”

I left the room, and Kimball followed me as I made my way to the Congress.  Once we arrived at the public part of the palace, Kimball moved away from me so he could pretend that we were enemies and that he didn’t want to be by my side.  I knew that it was just part of the act and that it was in our best interest to pretend we weren’t in good terms.  The idea behind the act was that Kimball could become the bridge between me and the rest of the Dominion, a friendly face they could trust.

I took the same path I had taken the previous day, and I arrived at the same place where I had faced Emily, and was glad to see that it was full, it looked like they were all there.  In a monitor I could see the faces of some of the leaders of different countries around the Dominion.  For the next few hours I heard the Representatives and Leaders of the different countries pledge their loyalty to me and my new government.  They were all there, and I was glad to see that things were going according to plan.

I was reminded of previous occasions when I had been in the same or similar situation, it reminded me especially for the day I had taken my place as Empress of the Dark Empire.  That had been a day that had filled me with pride and satisfaction.  Having the Dominion under my command didn’t feel as good as that, for some reason I didn’t feel as happy.  I was glad I had been able to do my part, and I couldn’t deny that I was glad to be back at the top, but I felt like I still had a long way to go.

Chapter 22

In the morning, by the time I woke up, Kimball was already gone and talking to Ethan.  The only reason I had not woken up on time was that a vision I had during the night had kept me awake for a long time.  I knew Malkia was having problems, and that Dendro had arrived in time to help her.  I felt terrible knowing that two of my children were going through a rough time and I couldn’t do anything to help them.  I had been able to offer a little help in Ethan’s case, but I was powerless to do anything in Malkia’s case.

I got up and went looking for Kimball and Ethan.  They were talking, and I could feel Ethan’s guilt was still strong, and Kimball was also feeling guilty about the whole thing.

“Good morning,” I broke into their conversation.

“Good morning mother,” Ethan didn’t have his usual cheerfulness.

“Good morning Kai.  I’m sorry I didn’t wake you up, but you looked so tired that I didn’t want to bother you.”

“What were you talking about?”  I already knew it wasn’t a pleasant topic, the atmosphere was so heavy that I knew it was something serious, most likely something about Angile.

“Ethan and I reached an agreement.  He already promised not to use his powers to fight.  At least not without a really good reason, and when having a responsible adult around.  If we are going to Capital City we can’t afford another accident.”

“I still believe that’s too much, now that he knows what can happen, he won’t be so careless again.”

“I’m sorry, but the decision was already made.  Ethan is no longer under your supervision, he is my student now and I’m deciding what’s best for him.  Besides, this will also help to keep him under Faakhir’s radar.  Anyone that sees him fighting can see your influence.  If we want them to keep thinking you care nothing about him, they can’t see how much you have invested in training him.”

“We have been talking for a long time now, and I think my father is right, this is for the best mother.  Forgive me, but I think this is good for me, I will learn my lesson and won’t repeat the same mistakes.”

“I don’t like this, things won’t be easy for you in Capital City.  I can’t guarantee that people won’t come after you.  You have to be able to defend yourself.”

“If that happens, I’m sure we can find a way to keep him safe without using violence.  I know this is my fault as well, I trained him and motivated him to get stronger, but I know that yesterday could have been worst.  If the hit had been a little bit stronger or higher, it could have been fatal.  It’s too dangerous, he needs to learn self control and be more aware of other people’s limits, for now, is best if he abstains from fights.”

Neither of them knew just how true that was.  Without my help, Andile would have been dead, and I knew that would have been terrible for Ethan.  I decided not to press the issue, sooner or later they would realize that they were overreacting.

While Ethan and Kimball were preparing their stuff for the move, I decided to visit some of the refugees that were living at Aquarium.  Most of them had made peace with their situation, some of them still rebelled about being there.

“You shouldn’t worry about them,” Sofía said.  “We both know that you are doing what’s best for them, and us.  I understand some of them are angry about it, but once you free us all from my daughter and her husband, people will understand why you did what you did, and they will love you for that.”

“I don’t think so,” I told her.  “I think that they will hate me, and given enough time they will rise against me.  For most people, my image will be too dark to accept.  It will be better if people keep thinking of me as an enemy, and that they unite against me.  Once Faakhir and Emily are out of the picture, I hope people will stop fearing the people in power and use their voices.  I hope my refugees will lead people in a new revolution and create a new world.”

“I don’t know if I like that plan…” Sofia started.

“Go take a walk in the fog, and you will see it would be our best option.  My revolution will give people the strength they need to take control of their destiny and start their own revolutions.  Many countries are building their resistances, but Faakhir is too strong, and those won’t work.  I need to destroy the Dominion first, so they will be able to raise.”

“I know that.  I worry about how many people will fall in the way.”

“Some sacrifices are necessary, but at the end of the day, the lives we save will be more than the ones we sacrifice.  I only wish we could make this happen faster.  I need my family by my side, but at the same time I’m afraid of the risks they will be taking by being in Capital City.  I worry about Ethan the most.  He feels so guilty about what happened yesterday that he vowed not to fight again.  I worry he will be left at the mercy of others.  I know that things are different here than back at the Empire, but I know how vicious young people can be.  I fear for what could happen to Ethan if he is thrown in the middle of people who has reason to hate me and that’s looking for ways to hurt me.”

“But you already proved to Faakhir that hurting Ethan won’t do anything to you, he won’t make that mistake again.”

“But I’m not worried about Faakhir or any other adult.  I’m talking about the kids, the ones who will be attending the same school as Ethan.  They are in a different league, they know I hurt people they care about, and they know they can’t do anything about it, they feel restless, powerless, angry…  Ethan will arrive there being a perfect target for their anger.  They can’t hurt me, but they can’t hurt someone, that for them, will be a representation of me.  I’m so afraid of what could happen, but Kimball doesn’t seem to think the same, and Ethan is so focused on his guilt that just doesn’t care.”

“You can worry once that happens, not before.  Ethan is a very strong and smart boy, he is your son after all, he will find a way to overcome any challenge in his path.”

“I hope you’re right.”  There was much to do and to think, and Sofia knew it, so she left me alone.

I was still shaken up because of the vision about Malkia.  I had thought she was safe at the Fortress, but I didn’t realize that her power and abilities would make her the target of the instructors, the people who couldn’t get a position in one of the armies and had been forced to teach a new generation to go where they couldn’t go.  Someone with a potential as great as Malkia’s was hard to miss and they soon realized that she would be going higher than any of them could dream.  For some of them their jealousy and fear had caused them to seek her destruction.  I wasn’t there to help her and keep her safe, luckly Dendro appeared just at the right moment, and now she was under his protection.  But I knew that the same reason that caused Dendro to be protective of her, would put her in danger.  Dendro would do anything to keep my daughter safe, but Ivy would hate her for the same reason.

I was also worried about Greca, she would be alone without Malkia, and her powers wouldn’t be as strong without the boost from her sister, and that would put her in danger.  Her vulnerability could put a bigger target on her back, or take the attention off of her, but without a doubt, it would be very challenging for her without her sister.  I knew her new situation would force her to grow, but I didn’t like her being in trouble.

To know my daughters were going through a rough time, and to know the dangers and challenges Ethan would be facing once we moved to Capital City were making me feel inadequate.  I just wanted the best for my children, I wanted them safe and happy, but I had failed all of them.  Everything I have done had been thinking of them, but it wasn’t enough.  Just by being their mother, I had made their lives more difficult.

Moving to Capital City and our apartment in the Black Tower was easier than I expected.  For some reason I was thinking the whole thing would be complicated, but Kimball had everything under control and the moving went smoothly.  Our only problem arrived later on the day we arrived.

“Kaiserin, I’m surprised to find you here,” Faakhir greeted me.  I didn’t understand his surprise.

“Welcome to my new home,” I said back to him, not knowing what else to say.

“I was waiting for you at the Palace.”

“I’m supposed to be the leader of Mzansi, I should be living accordingly, and not like one more of your guards in a little room at the Palace.  I think Emily was thinking of that when she asked me to go bring my family here to be with me.”

“Emily had no right to ask this of you.”  Even if his voice and manners were calm, I could feel his fury boiling under the surface.

“The move is done.  Did Emily change her mind?”

“No, she still believes this is for the best.  But I wished you were still at the Palace.”

“It would be weird to bring my family here and then let them alone.  Besides, you don’t need me all the time.  If something really bad was about to happen, then my powers would let me know with enough time to interfere and face whatever threat was there.  For small problems is enough with the people you already have.  Besides, Kimball will have to be early at work, every day, and I will be arriving with him and staying until late, my hours will be still the same.  And if for some reason you need me, I can get there in just a few minutes.”

“And what about your son?”

“What about him?”

“Don’t you need time to take care of him?”

“I don’t have time for him, besides, he is old enough to take care of himself, and if not, that’s Kimball’s job.  I had already told you that, Kimball is the one that takes care of Ethan.”

“I will be waiting for you early tomorrow.  And I’m warning you that you will be joining me on a mission away from him, so tell your husband not to expect you to be here for long.”

“I thought you would be satisfied that I would be spending more time here.  All is going to change is where I’m sleeping.”  I could feel that it was that what bothered him more.  Despite the years I had spent in Faakhir’s service, he hadn’t forced me to have sex with him, yet.  I could see his fantasies about me because of my powers, and that seemed to be enough for him.  Knowing I was under his power was all the satisfaction he needed, for the moment, but by not being at the Palace I had changed the situation, he couldn’t go to my room and watch me sleep and the illusion that he could get me any moment was broken.  He felt he was losing his power over me.

“Your place is by my side, it always have been and will always be.”  I felt Faakhir in my mind, the compulsion to get closer to him growing so strong I couldn’t pretend not to feel it, so I forced myself to follow it, so he wouldn’t find out that I knew what he was doing and was strong enough to stop him.  I forced myself to stay still as he caressed my face.  Before I could think about what I was doing, my mind was reaching to Kimball’s, crying for help.

“Faakhir,” Kimball’s voice broke through just a few seconds later, “to what do we owe the pleasure of your visit?”

“Kimball, I just found out you were moving in and wanted to welcome you.”  With the compulsion gone, I was able to move away without making him suspicious.  “So welcome.  I think I will be going back to the Palace now.  Kaiserin, I hope you are not too tired with the moving, I have a new mission for you and you will be traveling again in no time, probably for a few days.”

“I’m always ready for any mission.”

“Finish whatever you need to do here, because you have responsibilities at the Palace that you can’t ignore just because your family is here.”

“Don’t worry, I will be there first thing tomorrow morning.”

Faakhir got out and I felt wrapped in Kimball’s arms.  Despite trying to look relaxed Kimball knew that Faakhir’s visit had affected me.

“I heard your voice,” Kimball said, “I heard you in my head and I knew you needed me.  How did you do it?  No one is supposed to get into a mzansier’s mind.  What happened?”

“He hadn’t tried to control me in a long time, but he was doing it now, he wanted to kiss me.  He used his powers to plant a compulsion and it was very strong.  I didn’t know how to stop him without letting him know how much I can resist him.  I didn’t want him touching me, but I didn’t know how to stop him…”

“That’s why you called me.  You have told me he wasn’t trying anymore, that he was controlled.”

“He was, but I think that having you here is making him feel possessive of me.”

“I don’t like you being with him.  It’s not good for you, it’s not fair.”

“I just need to find a way to avoid him, a new way of fooling him.  It had been so long that it took me off guard, it won’t happen again.  I just have to prepare a counter measure, some way of tricking him and avoid him getting inside my head.  I can do that, I will have it under control.”

“We need to move forward with our plans, find a way to stop him for good.”

“Thanks for coming to help me.  For a moment I didn’t know what to do.”

“I think we will need to explore what just happened, the fact that you got inside my mind, that’s not something we can ignore.  Do you think we could repeat that?”

“It’s worth a try.  I really thought it was impossible and wasn’t even thinking of trying to do it, but if you really heard me, that means I reached out without thinking, it would be nice if we could replicate that on purpose.  It would be a great way of communicating without anyone knowing about it, no one would even suspect that I could use telepathy on a mzansier.”

“Well, if someone can manage to do the impossible, that’s you.”

Chapter 21

I arrived at Aquarium feeling like I’m too late.  We finally managed to communicate our arrival, and Kimball is at the dock waiting for us, but I don’t even greet him, as soon as I’m out of the submarine I start running, just signaling for Kimball to follow me.  I expand my senses, looking for Ethan, and I find him in one of the common areas, but he is not alone, which means the fight most likely already started.  I try to convince myself that I had the wrong date, that it was a different fight, that Ethan wasn’t about to make a mistake that could follow him the rest of his life.  Mzansiers weren’t like Imperialists, for them killing was not a common thing, it was something you did in the most extreme circumstances, and a killing, even if accidental, would affect Ethan for the rest of his life.

When I ran into the place, I saw one of Ethan’s attackers falling to the ground, but I knew that the hit wasn’t that bad, he would survive to see another day, it was the next attack that could change everything.  When Ethan’s kick connected, I heard bones breaking, even after I had used my powers to cushion the hit, and to help ease Andile’s fall.  Despite my efforts, and knowing that I had avoided Andile’s death, there was a lot of damage to his spine.  The rest of the kids had stopped their fights and were watching the scene.

“I can’t move,” Andile’s terror filled voice said, “I can’t feel my legs.”

“What happened here?”  Kimball’s voice echoed in the place, he was studying the scene, trying to identify the problem.

“An accident,” I said, watching as Ethan noticed, for the first time, that we were there.  “Ethan can’t control his strength yet, and that kick was a little bit stronger than he expected, he broke Andile’s spine.  I’m trying to keep his column intact using my powers, but it’s possible that the damage could get worse if I let go or we try to move him.”

“But he is indestructible,” one of the other kids said, “there’s no way Ethan could have broken his bones, no one can break the bones of someone from our family.”

“A diamond can cut another diamond,” Kimball said, as he knelt beside the kid that was losing his mind, that started crying once he finally accepted the possibility of being paralyzed.  “The fact that Ethan is not a mutant doesn’t change the fact that he is part of the family, and he is stronger than most people.  Using his mind, he can close the gap in strength and be just as strong as any of you.”

“Is he going to be ok?” Lungile asked.  “What about Zuberi? Is he…?”

“Zuberi is just unconscious, I guess he has a contusion, but he will be fine,” I assured them, knowing that he was going to be ok, his brother was the one we had to worry about.

I knew that my intervention had saved him from something worse, but the risk of being paralyze was bad enough.  Kimball was an excellent doctor and I trusted that he would be able to help.

“I can see what is the damage here,” Kimball said, “but I know that we can help him if we move fast.  In occasions like this one his fast regeneration could act against him, if his bones are not properly set and they start healing, we won’t be able to revert the damage.”

“I think that I can keep his spine in the right position, but I will need a better connection to be able to check him.”  I moved closer and took the kid’s hand in mine.  I could see the fear in his face, I knew that being a paralytic was a nightmare, especially for someone like him, a member of the royal family, with so many expectations over him.  Once I had a better connection to his body I used my biokinesis to make sure his bones, nerves and muscle was in the right position, but I knew it wouldn’t be enough, what he needed was an experienced biokinetic or a doctor like Kimball to look at him.  “Kimball, we need to take him to the infirmary.  I did my best, but I’m not sure if that is going to be enough, he needs an expert.  I can move him there so you can check him.”

“Let’s hurry,” Kimball said, “we can’t waste time if we want to help him.”

“Ethan, come with us,” I told my son.  I needed him with us, he needed to see that Andile was going to be ok, but also he needed to see the damage that he could cause.  Ethan was surrounded by powerful people, it was easy for him not to see what he was capable of.  If Andile had been a normal person, it would have been even worse.

“I didn’t mean to hurt him, I just wanted him to stop bothering me.”

“We will talk about what you did later, now we have other things to take care of.”

Using my mind, I moved Andile to the infirmary.  As soon as we arrived, Kimball took him to one of the rooms and called his team to assist him in the operation.  While he worked, I stayed with a very worried and scared Ethan.

When it became clear there was nothing else we could do, I took Ethan back to our apartment and told him to go to his room to get some rest.  I knew that he needed time to understand what had happened, and I needed time to think about what I had stopped from happening.

A few hours later Ethan came looking for me while I was checking some documents.

“I really didn’t want to hurt him,” Ethan said.  “I just didn’t think I could hurt him, not even using all my strength.  He is always saying he is so much stronger than me.”

“You are my son, and Kimball’s son, you have a bigger potential than most people.  If you want to, you can go very far, do things some people can only dream about.  That’s why it is important for you to learn how to control your powers and your strength.  Today you could have killed your cousin, and even if I know that that wasn’t your intention, it could have happened.  When you feel threatened, your powers help you get stronger, and the stronger you are, the more damage you can do.  You need to learn to control it, you need to train even more.”

“Or not at all,” Kimball said, entering the room.  “After the damage he caused, I think he doesn’t need any more training, at least not in combat.”

“How’s my cousin?”

“With the proper care and rehabilitation he will be able to walk again, but it won’t be easy.  And it could have been worse.  If your mother hadn’t been there to help, it could have been worse.”

“I’m sorry, it won’t happen again,” Ethan said, sincerely.

“I know that, because you won’t fight again, from now on you won’t participate in fights.”

“But what if I’m attacked again?” Ethan protested.

“After what happened to Andile I seriously doubt anyone will attack you again.”

“But people won’t know about this where he is going,” I told them.  “Emily authorized me to take you with me to Capital City.  You will be the new Mzansi representative and Ethan will have to attend school with the children of the other representatives.”

“Another reason for Ethan not to fight, most of those children are not like our family, they are weak, and any error could end in a deadly mistake.”

“But he will need to be able to defend himself.  Faakhir had made me hurt a lot of their families, and I don’t doubt that some of them will want to take revenge by attacking Ethan.”

“Then he will have a chance to practice some self control,” Kimball said, but I could feel Ethan’s fear and apprehension raising.

“He will need to at least have something to protect himself.  He will need his psychic wall, it will help him to get out of any fight he could be forced to face without harm,” I pointed out.

“That we can discuss later, if necessary.  For the moment I need some rest.  Tomorrow we will need to decide Ethan’s punishment, and how to move forward.”

“Punishment?  Ethan made a mistake, but it wasn’t on purpose.  He was being attacked by two of his cousins, older warriors, both self proclaimed superior to him.  What did you expect him to do?  Did you expect him to let them hurt him?”

“He should have been more responsible.  For years we have trained him to fight, but I thought we had done a better job at teaching him when to use his knowledge and when to stop.  He can’t go around hurting people, especially not his own family.”

“They attacked him,” I insisted, remembering the vision.  Even if I hadn’t been there, I knew that they intended to hurt him.  Ethan had done what he needed to do, his error was in not knowing the right amount of strength to use against them.

“It’s ok mother,” Ethan interrupted, “my father is right, I made a mistake.  I let myself believe in their words and didn’t trust myself, I thought they could handle more than they really could.  I shouldn’t have used all my force, I should have found a better way.  If Andile is not able to walk again, it will be my fault.”

I could feel Ethan’s fear and guilt.  His empathy made him even more susceptible to other’s emotions, and I could only imagine what he should have felt if he could feel Andile’s fear. Because of that I didn’t think it necessary to punish him, he was going to punish himself enough without our help.  What he needed was for us to tell him that everything was ok, and that his cousin would be just fine.  He needed for us to explain what he had done wrong and how to avoid the same mistake from repeating in the future.  He needed our support.  Kimball was scared and worried, and once again he was letting his incredible intelligence on the side, acting on emotion and not reason.

“We will talk tomorrow,” Kimball said.  “I know that what happened was an accident, but it was one that could have been easily prevented.  That’s what we will discuss tomorrow.  Get some rest, if we are going to be moving to Capital City we have a lot of work ahead of us.”

“Good night,” Ethan said, and I could feel his broken spirit.  He was feeling awful for what had happened, and the guilt was eating at him.  Using my powers I tried to help him relax.  I agreed that we needed to discuss what had happened, but Kimball and Ethan were making it a bigger deal than it really was.

“How come we are going to Capital City?” Kimball asked once Ethan was gone.

“Shouldn’t we talk about what happened today?  I think you are being too hard on Ethan.  Believe me when I say that he already feels awful about it, he doesn’t need you making him feel even worse.”

“The damage he caused Andile was bigger than what I thought he was capable of.  During all this time I thought I was doing the right thing by training him, but after what I saw today I’m not so sure.  He could have killed his own cousin.”  I thought it best if I didn’t tell Kimball that in my vision he had killed him.

“And he knows that.  He knows what happened and what could have happened.  He will be even more careful now.  We can’t take him to Capital City and ask him not to fight back.  I wouldn’t be fair to him.”

“I think that’s exactly what we need to do.  Not just to protect others from him, but for his own protection.”

“You are making no sense now.  How can it be for his own protection?”

“If Faakhir and Emily see him fighting, they will notice that your interest in him is bigger than you are letting know.  You must have noticed by now, even if you can see some of my influence in his fighting style, some things, like his psychic wall are clearly copy of your techniques.”  For a moment I let myself think about his words, and even if I didn’t like what Kimball was saying, I had to accept he was right.

“We have to do something, I won’t send him to the battlefield without weapons to defend himself.”

“We will think about something, but later.  I’m really tired after the surgery and I need to rest.”

There was much to discuss and to decide, but I knew that it was best to let Kimball and Ethan get some rest, and then talk to them.  I was aware that taking them to Capital City with me was a selfish move, but I needed them, even knowing that they were safer where they were.  It was too late to change things, so all could do was move forward and take them with me.

I needed some time for myself, so I went for a walk.  After a while I found Sofia.

“Greeting Kaiserin.  I’m sorry, I didn’t notice what was about to happen until it was too late.  I should have been more aware of what was going on inside Aquarium, instead of focusing on the outside.”

“Don’t worry about it, it was no one’s fault.  It’s just that I know that now I’m putting my son in an even more difficult position with what just happened.”

“Everything will be alright.  Your son misses you, it will be good for him to have you close.”

“I’m not so sure about it.  Sometimes I feel like I have failed all of my children.  My daughters are on the other side of the ocean, where I can’t do anything to protect them.  Sometimes I feel trapped, not only by the situation with Faakhir, but by everything, my own decisions, my own paths.”

“Kaiserin, you are a gift to our people.  You are the answer to our prayers.  You can’t doubt yourself.  Give yourself some time and you will see that I’m right.”

I have no choice but to take her advice.  I needed to move forward and hope that my actions wouldn’t affect my son’s life.

Chapter 10

It was weird going back to Aquarium, it was good to be back in a safe place, with my whole family, but I knew it wouldn’t last for long. I had too many things to do and my time was short. First, I had to go speak to Sofia, I needed to talk to her and go over our plans for the near future. Then, I needed to see William. I felt responsible for him after taking him out of the mansion and then taking off. I knew that I had done all I could to help him, but I needed to make sure he was safe and that he was recovering.

After spending some quality time with Kimball and Ethan, I went searching for my guest. It was easy to find Sofia’s mind in a place like Aquarium, her mind, unlike the mzansiers’ minds, wasn’t blinded against me. It took me just a few minutes to find the place where she was, and a few more to get to her. I should have expected to find her in Aquarium’s gardens, it was the place where she could think and meditate, and she had a lot to think about.

“I see you came back from the dead,” I said to Sofia when I arrived at where she was.

“That’s right. I have to say the experience was not what I was expecting, and I’m happy to be back.” Sofía smiled at me, and I felt only good feelings coming out of her. I was relieved that she wasn’t mad at me for choking her where I was faking her death. “I need to thank you for helping William. I know it wasn’t part of your plans and I appreciate that you went to help him.”

“I think that it won’t be the first nor the last time I will have to adapt my plans. This time it was easy, Emily is very unstable and it worked in my favor, she couldn’t wait to send me after William as soon as she learned that there was a chance he could survive. That and I think she wanted me out of the Palace, which is also in my favor. She supported me when I asked Faakhir for time to fix some problems in Mzansi.”

“You know Faakhir wants you, don’t you?”

“I know that, and Emily knows it too. I think I will use Emily to keep him away from me. It will be a hard few years.”

“But if someone can deal with the problems you will be facing, it’s you. I trust you and I know you will be fine. I wouldn’t have asked for your help if I didn’t think you were up for the challenge.”

“How is William?” I asked, looking for a change of topic.

“He will be fine, thanks to you. I knew that he wasn’t good, but I had no idea how bad he was. Emily lied to me about a lot of things. She kept him alive, as promised, but he wasn’t in a good situation. The few times I spoke to him, he told me everything was fine, he didn’t want me to worry about him. And I made the mistake of believing in him, I didn’t look into his past. I was focused on keeping him alive and didn’t pay enough attention to his well being. William was always serious about his role as protector, even if he was the youngest of my children, so having the lives of the people around him depending on his behavior was hard for him. He is still blaming himself for the death of the young man that tried to help him.

“I think that is normal that he feels somehow responsible for what happened, but sooner or later he will realize that he cannot take responsibility for other people’s actions.  That young man made a decision, and it is an insult to his sacrifice, not to recognize that it was his choice.”

“I don’t think that Williams sees things like that.  I was on my way to see him by the way.  Would you like to come with me?  I’m sure he would be glad to have the chance of thanking you for your help.”

“That would be great, thank you.  I was planning on visiting him later, but going with you would be best.”

“Are you afraid of how he will react?”

“He saw me with Emily’s guards, he didn’t see me taking him out of the mansion.  He doesn’t know how I helped in his rescue.”

“Don’t worry.  I already told him what really happened.”

I followed Sofia to William’s room.  He looked even more fragile on the hospital bed.  I knew it would take him a while to get to his optimum body weight, and even longer to get his spirit back, but at least he wasn’t alone anymore, his mother would be there to help him.  Not being alone would help in his recovery.

“William? Are you awake?” Sofia asked.

“Mother…” William saw me and went mute.  His eyes showed first surprise, and then fear.

“This is Kaiserin,” Sofia introduced me, “she is the one I talked to you about.  She is the one that went for you.”  At first he didn’t say anything, he was looking around the room, I could see that something was holding him back, he was hesitating about something.  “It’s ok, you can talk, Emily thinks you are dead, so her rules doesn’t apply anymore, she can’t hurt you.”  His emotions changed drastically after those words, his emotions calmed down and he made a decision.

“I saw her in the basement,” he whispered so low it was hard to hear him, “I thought she was death coming for me.”

“I have been called a lot of names, but never death.”

William blushed, he didn’t think I would be able to hear him and he was ashamed.  I could feel his inner struggle.  I knew something was bothering him, and it wasn’t just my presence or the fact that he thought he had offended me.  There was something wrong with him.  The time under his sister’s control haven’t been kind to him.  His physical abuse could be seen in his lack of weight and his sick parlor, but I knew that the worst injuries were those that couldn’t be seen easily.  Whatever Emily had done to hurt his mind, it would take a long time to be fixed.

“She is a friend of mine,” Sofia said.  “She will be working with our sister for the moment, until we can get enough resources to liberate the countries under her rule.”

“Emily is crazy, her greed is our of control,” William said, “the sister that I knew is long gone.  Mother, she killed Charles, and she will kill anyone who stands in her way,” he was frantic, trying to warn us about something we already knew.

“I know, she tried to kill me too, and I’m her mother, she has no problem killing people, but we can’t sit and do nothing, that’s why we are planning on sopping her.  What Emily is doing is wrong and someone has to stop her, as members of the Royal Family we have to do it, is our duty to protect hose under our care, even if we have to get rid of Emily and her husband to do it.”

“They are blinded by their ambition, they can’t see that the road they’re traveling won’t end well.  Sooner or later the people under their rule will snap and rebel against them, and when that happens a lot of lives will be lost.  What I’m trying to do is find a way to stop them from the inside before things get a chance to escalate.  For the moment they trust their power, they think everyone is under their control, but eventually they will learn that’s not true.”

“Are you going to help us?”  William asked.  “Are you sure you will be able to fight them?”

“They went after my family, they attacked me.  For the moment they think that I’m under their control, but they are wrong.  Your sister and her husband made a grave mistake by fighting me.  If they had left me alone, if their greed wasn’t so big, then I wouldn’t be here planning their end.  But you don’t have to worry about it, you just focus on getting better.”

“I’m part of this.  Emily and Faakhir took my brother and my freedom.  When the time arrives, I want to be the one to judge them, as the King.  I will take Emily’s place and show them how to be a real King.  How a real leader worries about his people, not abuse them.  How a real leader puts the needs of their people over his own.  Emily and Faakhir will pay for everything they have done against our people and against us.”

“When the time comes, you will be part of this, but for now, I’m the one that has to be on the front lines.  None of you can go to the Palace or talk to anyone, especially not any of the other rulers.  You two are dead, and you have to remain dead until the right moment.  If Emily finds out that I lied to her and that you are still alive, then our whole plan will crumble.”

“You cannot ask us to stay here and do nothing,” William said, his fear forgotten and replaced by anger.

“Of course I can.  I’m sorry for this, but I need to remind you that this is my territory, this place is under my control, and no one goes in or out without my authorization, and you won’t be able to get out of Aquarium.  I know this may seem like the same thing your sister did, like I’m holding you prisoner, but what I’m doing is what I think is best for everyone.  By staying here you will help save a lot of people.”

“Staying here doesn’t mean that we won’t help.  There are many ways of fighting and many ways to help,” Sofia added.

“I don’t want more people to die…” What William didn’t say was that he didn’t want more people dying because of him.  I realized at that moment just how much guilt, he was carrying on his shoulders, guilt over things that were way out of his control.

“Dying is part of life.  I can’t guarantee that there won’t be more deaths, but what I can do is promise to work on minimizing those losses as much as I can.”

“I want to help, I want to do something to stop Emily.  I don’t want her to keep hurting innocent people.”

“When the time arrives you will help.  For the moment we need you to heal and get your strength back.  You need to prepare to be a King, because when the time arrives you will take over Emily and you will have to do a good job.  You can’t repeat your sister’s mistakes.”

“I would never do what my sister has done.”

“I know you won’t, but it’s not enough to have good intentions.  To be a good ruler, especially in a place like the one your sister is going to leave for us, you need to be prepared.  My job is to get the Dominion back, yours will be to be a good ruler.

“Don’t worry about that, I will be by William’s side, helping him in everything I can.  We won’t fail our people again,” Sofia said.

“I trust you, I know you will do the right thing.”

I left William and Sofia alone. After years of separation they needed time to be together. And I needed to be with my son.  Despite everything I had done to him, he had no bad feeling for me, the incident with Faakhir was only a bad memory, even if I couldn’t stop blaming myself for my actions and the pain I had caused him.  I knew that I had done what was best for him and myself, but that didn’t change the fact that I had hurt him, he had been in danger because of me, it was my hand that had hurt him.

As I walked to my room I wondered about what things I would be forced to do in name of freedom, how many more I would have to hurt to prove myself to Faakhir and Emily.  I knew that I had to stop them, I needed to find a way to strip them of their power and give it back to the right people, but I knew that I would do a lot of things that I would later regret in the time I would be forced to stay with them.

Chapter 8

I couldn’t sleep that night, I knew that whatever happened that day would define the rest of my time in that place. I needed to make sure that no one had any reason to doubt my loyalty and my motivations. I took the cape, letting it envelope me and feeling Kimball with me despite the distance. I wondered how he was, how Ethan was. It might have been normal to be nervous, because, even if the possibility of failure was insignificant, it was still there, and I couldn’t afford to fail.

I went up to the garden and walked to one of the corners, there I found Sofia, sitting on a bench, surrounded by flowers, under the shadow of the trees. I couldn’t see anyone else outside, but that didn’t mean that we weren’t being watched, so I didn’t try to greet her or show any sign of knowing her, I just walked past her and sat on the bench opposite hers. I noticed the bouquet of flowers in her hands, she kept re-arranging them until she found a combination that worked for her.

“You’re right on time,” she said without looking up. “This is the beginning of the end.”

“It’s good to see you face to face, after all the time we have shared in the fog. You know what it’s about to happen, right? Your daughter sent me.”

“My daughter is tired of me, even if I had done everything she has asked of me, I can’t help but try to make her see reason, and that’s something she can’t forgive me for. Her husband and her are willing to do anything to keep me quiet.”

“I know, they sent me to kill you.”

“You are not the first one they send, they started arriving a few days ago, but you know how it is, no one can kill a Seer before time. So far my visions have protected me.”

“But you have to run out of luck sooner or later, right?”

“That’s right, and that’s why you are here. Are you ready to do your part?” Sofia was looking at me with confidence, without fear, and even if we both knew that we were playing a charade for her daughter’s benefit, the risks were there, and the consequences for failure were high. I expected fear and doubt, but got nothing.

‘You know what you have to do?’ I asked using telepathy, I couldn’t let people hear the rest of our conversation.

‘The only way I can keep going is by dying,’ she answered the same way. ‘My daughter won’t stop until I’m gone, and all I can do is grant her wish, at least for the moment. I know you have a way to help me with this.’

‘I do. Kimball gave me a drug that will make it look as if you’re dead. The effects last long enough for your funeral and burial to take place. Once it’s all done, a group of warriors that I fully trust, including Kimball, will take you out of the crypt and take you to a safe place. No one will be able to find you.’

‘It sounds perfect, but I need to ask for one more favor. As you know, my youngest son, William, is being held by my daughter. His only purpose is to keep me in line, and I’m afraid that once I’m gone, my daughter won’t have a reason to keep him alive. Can you save him?’

‘What do your visions tell you?’ I asked. I knew she was stronger than me as a Seeress, she knew the future better than anybody.

‘My visions tell me that you will help me, that you will save my son and bring him to me. My visions tell me that during the next few months you will save a lot of lives. But as you know, there are many paths, and you can still choose a different path, you can refuse to help me, but as we both know, that’s not in your nature.’

‘Once we do this, we can’t go back. Are you ready?’

“I’m ready. I have been waiting for this moment for a long time. I’m happy we finally meet, you are a good person Kaiserin, and I know we will be good friends.’ Sofia let the bouquet of flowers on the bench beside her and put her hands on her lap, she looked at me and smiled, looking regal and proud. There was no way you could mistake her for anything but a Queen.

“Are you smiling in the face of death?” I asked out loud, knowing that someone would hear my voice.

“I’m ready, I have nothing left, I failed as a mother and I failed as a Queen. It’s time to leave my failures behind.”

I got up from my seat and stood in front of Sofia, she didn’t move, she didn’t show fear, thinking I wouldn’t hurt her. The problem was that it was a show, and I had to make it believable or people would suspect. I had to kill her, those were my orders, and I needed to make it look like I was following them.

“It was a pleasure to meet you, I’m glad that I got to see the face of the woman that made it possible for my former enemy to conquer the four continents. I have to thank you for that, now my position will be even better because of you.”

Before she could say anything, before she could even react, I modified my cape to extend it like a rope, a rope that coiled around her neck. Her hands went to her neck, trying to take the rope off, while she tried to breathe. At the same time that I was choking her, I took the venom that Kimball had given me and using my powers, I injected it into her. I wasn’t sure if she even realized that I had injected her, she was too busy trying to breathe, but I knew the moment it started working. Once I made sure that her fear was real and that anyone who was looking at us wouldn’t suspect anything, I let the rope get a little loose, while continuing with the charade. After a few minutes I let her body fall to the bench. Other than the marks on her neck, it was almost as if she was sleeping. People looking at her would think that the former Queen was taking a nap under her favorite tree’s shadow.

I stayed by her side for a couple of minutes, making sure that there was nothing that could betray her real state. I knew that even a doctor would have a hard time realizing she was not really dead, and every sign pointed to a murder. I finally decided to go back to the Palace. As soon as I got away from here, a young maid went to check on Sofia, her bloodcurling scream, by the pain I could hear I knew that she was someone that loved Sofia very much, and I knew that the news of Sofia’s death would spread fast.

Using my powers I found the place where Emily was and went to her. She was having breakfast, the table before her full with all kinds of food. From the door or the room I saw how she only took a couple of bites from each plate, as if she was making sure that no one else could take any of them. I was sure that people from the kitchen would care about that, and would get advantage of all the food she didn’t take, it was just too much to throw away. My thoughts went to all the people I had seen the day before, hungry people, starving people, and I hated Emily a little more. All that opulence, all the food she was wasting while her people was dying was despicable.

“What are you doing here so early?” Emily asked after a while. “Do you have more questions about my mother?”

“I took care of your mother this morning. I just thought you would like to know that, I’m sure you have a lot of things to do, a funeral to plan, eulogies to practice…”

“It’s done?” For a moment I wasn’t sure what to think, the wave of emotions getting out of Emily was too strong, and I was sure I could feel pain in it. “I didn’t think you were so efficient, maybe you will be a good asset after all.”

“When I was leaving the gardens I heard a commotion, so I guess they already found her body. I did my part, your mother won’t bother you any more.” I remembered the morning, and I couldn’t help but smile at the memory of Sofia’s look of surprise when I was choking her. “While I was choking her, I could see her thoughts, she was thinking of one person. I didn’t know you had a brother.”

“William? Yes, I have a younger brother, but not for much longer. A few days ago I asked my people to lock him in the basement and leave the mansion where he was living. There’s no one there to help him out, he will die in a few days.”

“Your mother had visions about that, and there’s two possible futures. In one your brother dies alone and forgotten, but in the other, someone goes back to help him and hides him from you. Your mother was comforted by the thought that he would survive. If you want me to, I can go and make sure he dies.” I was lying about the visions, Sofia didn’t say anything and I haven’t had a vision about him, but I needed to find the place where he was hidden and save him. I couldn’t let Sofia’s son to die like that.

“Maybe it would be a good idea if you go take care of him, I can’t trust those idiots not to make a mistake and let William get a friend, I can’t let anyone save him,” I tried to read her emotions and her thoughts, and for a moment I felt like she was almost hoping that someone had saved him, but then her feelings and thoughts changed and I was sure she was afraid that he could survive and come back to claim the throne she considered hers. “Go to your room and prepare,” she ordered. “I will send you the information about the place where my brother is so you can take care of him. It’s better if we make sure there are no loose ends. I can’t allow anything to put my place as Queen at risk.”

“As you wish, it will be my pleasure to get rid of him. I like the idea of taking Sofia’s last hope.” Emily smiled at my words, as if the idea of hurting her mother was something that brought her happiness. The woman was crazy, and I wondered how much it was just her, and how much it was Faakhir’s influence.

“Maybe you and I could get along after all, as long as you follow my orders and keep your distance from my husband.”

I got out of the room, leaving Emily with her breakfast. I was feeling uncomfortable with her last words. Faakhir’s interest was obvious and I needed to find a way to stay away from him, I couldn’t let him take advantage of me. I arrived at my room and took the phone that Kimball have given me. After using my powers to make sure that there were no cameras or microphones in the room and making a psychic bubble that would stop all sound from getting out, I called Kimball. I needed to tell him what had happened, and I needed his help to rescue Sofia and William.

“How are you?” He asked as soon as the call connected. “Have you had any problems?”

“I took care of Sofia, I used the venom you gave me and it seems to be working perfectly. Are you sure no one will notice anything wrong?”

“No one has any reason to suspect anything, everyone in the Palace knows that Emily wants Sofia dead, and if you played the charade right, then there is no reason to question her death.  I have everything ready, from the blueprints I found a way to enter and exit the crypt without being noticed.  No one will ever suspect that Sofia is not there.”

“We have another problem.  Sofia asked me to save her son, and Emily gave me the green light to go and kill him.  I’m not sure yet how to do it, but I will need help.  I need to go for him as soon as possible, or he will be dead by the time I arrive.”

“I thought you would be in Capital city to help extract Sofia.”

“I don’t think it will be possible, my priority right now is getting to William.  I think he is at risk at the moment.  Is everything ready at Aquarium?”

“It is.  I just got a message from them, our orders were received and they are preparing the place for Sofia’s arrival.  As soon as I can get to them again, I will tell them about William.”

“As soon as I get information about Williams whereabout I will send you a message so you can send backup, if you can send someone with medical knowledge, from what Emily said, he sill be starved and dehydrated.”

“Let me know when you have the information,” Kimball said before ending the call.

I wasn’t planning on going to rescue William, so I needed to take a moment and plan.  I wasn’t prepared for a new rescue mission so soon after dealing with Sofia.  I had to adapt fast, and I was only starting, my new life would keep me on my toes.

Chapter 61

It was my third trip to the fog, I needed to make sense of my future and those trips were the only way. Despite making the decision of going to the Acuarium that Kimball was building and accepting keeping him in my life, I still found that some paths didn’t have his presence. I needed to know why, but the paths were many and it was hard to find what I was looking for. Besides, I could see a lot of paths that kept distracting me, trying to make me see further away in my future. I knew it was important, but I didn’t have the will or the time to go there. First, I needed to understand my own future, then I could see the others.

“What are you looking for?” Someone asked me. I knew that any number of Seers could be in the fog at any given moment, but I never thought that I would find someone there, the space was too big for company to be an issue.

“Who are you?” There was something familiar about the woman that had interrupted me.

“I’m someone from your future. Our paths will cross in a few years, and if everything goes according to plan, they will stay together for a long time.”

“Sofia,” I knew her, I knew why she was so familiar, her face and her paths had been intruding into my exploration. “I’ve had a lot of visions about you during my travel, but I haven’t planned on studying about you and how our paths relate until another time.”

“Our time together is yet to come. It will be a while. If our paths cross before their time, it could be very bad for us. It’s better if our encounter stays here for now. It will be years before you are ready to face the future where we are together.”

“I haven’t decided what path to take. I’m trying to find the best one for me.”

“Don’t you care about the best path for everyone? You are an important piece for the future of many nations. The decisions you make could affect millions of people.”

“No pressure, huh? I have sacrificed myself for others before, and I decided that I won’t do that again, I’m looking out for me.”

“And what about your son’s future? What kind of world do you want to leave for him?” She knew me, she knew how to grab my attention, but I wasn’t going to let her manipulate me.

“Are you going to tell me what to do? If you know me, you should know that I don’t follow orders anymore. I choose my own destiny.”

“I’m here as a guide. Let me know what you need and I will do my best to show you the way. I know it’s hard to find the right path, especially when you are alone. It’s easy to get lost here,  easy to lose your goal.”

“No offense, but how do I know your intentions are good? For all I know you could be trying to manipulate me into doing what you need me to do, to create the future you want.”

“You are right, you don’t know me and have no reason to trust me. Why don’t we take a look at my past so you can understand me better? Maybe if I show you where I’m coming from, you will find that you can trust me.”

“No, the path is too long and I still have a lot to do. The future is too confusing and I need to make sense of it.” I looked back, to the single path that showed my past, it was easy to travel because it was already set, but I didn’t have the time to go looking for Sofia’s path, I needed to focus on myself.”

“The more lives are involved, the more decisions need to be taken, and the more elements you have to take in consideration, the more paths will open in front of you. But, there are places where paths cross, where no matter what decisions are taken, you have to experience them no matter what. Let me show you those crossroads, maybe that will help you reach a decision.”

I knew that I shouldn’t trust her, but I was curious, it wasn’t as if she could fool me, the future couldn’t be manipulated, I understood enough about the paths to know which one were more probable and which ones were just possible. I followed Sofia, she showed me some key moments in the fight between the free nations and the conquering kings, she showed me some battles where the nations fought to be free of the king’s control just to be stopped, losing hundred or thousand of lives. Sofia was linked to most of those scenarios, and I knew it was because her hand had something to do with it happening.

“Why do you want that to happen?” I asked after noticing her influence on the battles.

“It’s not something I want, it’s something I have to do. You are the only one capable of changing the future, only your influence can make my predictions crumble. You think I want you here so I can hurt you or fool you, but that’s not what I want. I need your help, but I want to help you too.”

“I can feel your touch on these visions.”

“The truth is that I’m trapped, my daughter is forcing me to use my gift to help her. Maybe you think I’m helping her kill my people because I want to, but the truth is, it could be worse. I’m trying to do the best I can, I want to avoid a massacre, but it’s not easy, my daughter and his husband are too thirsty for power and they want the fights to happen. I’m doing my best to get them to back off of Mzansi, but there’s nothing I can say to change their mind. Your power and your presence it’s making things more difficult for my daughter, but it will be a time when even Mzansi will fall.”

“Mzansi won’t fall, it’s people is strong and will fight until their last breath, and I won’t fall, no matter what I will remain free.”

“You are an intelligent woman Kaiserin, you will see that sometimes you need to lose a few battles in order to win a war. I know that you don’t like to lose, but sometimes you need to make some sacrifices for the greater good.”

“Is that what you are doing? Are the lives that are being lost just a sacrifice for the greater good?” I knew the terrible things Emily and Faakhir had done, the lives that had been lost in their search for power, and I knew that Sofia had allowed that to happen by staying out of it.

“Believe it or not, it could be worse. Until now you have been the only element I can’t control. The victories you have had over my daughter’s army have put you on the top of the list, you are their greatest enemy. Until now I have been able to justify my errors with the excuse that you are also a Seeress, but that won’t keep them from trying to stop you. You have been able to stop them before, and if you do it one more time, I can give you some peace, a time for you to be free and enjoy your family, you certainly deserve that.”

“All I want it’s to be left alone and be able to watch Ethan grow, I don’t want to be part of your people’s fight. They are your problem, not mine.”

“It’s also the problem of Kimball and his people. Are you going to turn your back on him too?”

“He turned his back on me first, I don’t care what happens to his people, all I care about is my son.”

“So you don’t care if he dies?” For a moment I wasn’t sure if she was speaking hypothetically or is she knew something. I pretended I didn’t care, but I couldn’t think of a future without Kimball without feeling sick. Despite everything I couldn’t let him go.

Without realizing it, Sofia had taken us to a crossroad where I could see the point where my paths grew with and without Kimball, the moment of his death. I knew that if I wanted to stop his death, I didn’t have much time left.

“You knew about this. Do you know when it’s going to happen?” I asked Sofia, I couldn’t pretend I didn’t care anymore.

“This is my daughter’s last plan, her husband and her, found a way to stop your husband and his people. If this fails, they will have to listen to me when I say they won’t be able to stop you, but if they succeed, the fight that will start will take years to finish and will claim the life of half of Mzansi’s people and many of Republican’s lives. You are the only one who can stop this from happening, and I have the power to give you and your people a few years of peace.”

“What is it going to cost me?  I know you wouldn’t do that for free.”

“It will be a time when our paths will cross and I will need you to help me save my son.  My time is over, but he still have a future ahead of him, and if can get out of his sister’s control, he could help free the Republic.”

“I can’t make promises right now, it will be years before our paths cross, and if you help me now, I can’t promise I will be able to help in the future, I don’t know where I’m going to be and if I can fulfill any promises.”

“You can’t change who you are, I know that when the time comes you will be the right thing, you are an honorable person,”  with those words the figure of Sofia vanished in the fog.

I took my time studying the crossroad, I needed to understand what was happening.  After that, I got back to the present, if everything went as planned I would have time to do more searching later.  I got out of my trance and found out I was very tired, more than normal, I had no idea how much time I had been out, but I was very thirsty and starving.  I got out of the room and headed for the kitchen, it was early and the cook was making breakfast.  I had just been there a few minutes when Mbali arrived.

“It’s good to see you, I was getting worried about you.”

“Good morning Mbali.  How long was I out?”

“Two days.  I was starting to think you were lost.”

“Where’s Ethan?  Is he with Kimball?”

“No, Kimball is gone, he went to a meeting yesterday, and should be there for a couple more days…”  Mbali kept explaining, but I was no longer paying attention.  If Kimball was gone, then the attack was coming sooner that I thought.

I didn’t realize I was moving, I had gotten out of the kitchen and was stepping out, looking for the office where the pilots of my jet were supposed to be.

“Do you know where Kimball went?” I asked as soon as I opened the door.

“Yes, he is at the base that the Elders Council is using, there is going to be a meeting there and he needed to go,” one of the mechanics said.

“I need to go to him as soon as possible.”

“We will need time to check and prepare the jet…” one of the pilots started to say.

“You have one hour to do what you need to do, I will be back then and I expect everything ready for departure.”  I got out of the office and started back to my room, I needed to get ready, and I needed a few minutes to visit Ethan before leaving.

“Kaiserin, what’s going on?”  Mbali looked worried, as if she was afraid I was losing my mind.

“Something is going to happen at that meeting, and I have to stop it, because if I don’t, Kimball could die.”