Chapter 13

As soon as I arrived at my apartment, I noticed we had guests.  I could hear the children talking in the living room and I moved closer, just to confirm my suspicion that Ethan’s friends were there.  I was happy they had visited him, especially because I could tell by their voices and the emotions getting out of the room, that Ethan had nothing to fear about his friends, none of them were blaming him for what had happened, maybe they were blaming me instead.

“Ethan?” I called, to let them know I was about to enter the room.

“Mother,” Ethan looked at me, a guilty look on his face, “we have visitors.”

“I see that,” as I looked around at the curious, but not scared faces of the kids, I realized they knew the truth.

“My friends came to visit, they are not mad at me for what happened, but still, I want you to allow me to explain the truth to them.”

“Why are you asking for my permission if you already told them everything?”

“I’m only covering my bases.”

“I see,” I went to Ethan, and I could feel his friends going on alert, staring at me, they were worried I would do something to Ethan, even if the fear I was expecting wasn’t there.  “You did good, I know how hard it was for you to hide the truth from them, and I’m grateful that you understood how important it was to keep the secret while there was the chance that Faakhir’s men or anyone else could intercept the information and endanger us.  Now things are different, and I’m glad you have friends you can trust with this.  I just want you to keep in mind that you have to be very careful who you trust, especially as some secrets are not only about you, and you never know who can get hurt if you trust the wrong person.”

“I’m sure none of them would betray my trust,” Ethan said confidently.

“We would never go against Ethan,” Hye Ki assured me, “we won’t betray his trust,” the rest of the group agreed on that.

“I know, that’s why I encouraged your friendship with my son, I know, thanks to my visions, that you will be his friends for a long time, and that you will support him.  I’m actually glad that my son has you as his friends, but I also know that things can change very easily and you never know what the future can bring, and even if my visions show me a good future right now, that only means nothing will happen short term, but things can change.”

“You say you encouraged our friendship? You were always against us,” Dmytro protested.

“And what better way to ensure that your parents wouldn’t intervene in your friendship that being publicly against it?”

“So you manipulated our parents?” Iñaki asked.

“You could say that, but I did it for a good reason.”

“That’s ok,” Dmytro said, “I get it, even after Ethan saved us from Jonas, twice, my father wouldn’t have accepted our friendship if he had suspected you had a good relationship.”

“My father already suspects that’s the case,” Hye Ki said, “he said it wasn’t a good idea for me to keep being Ethan’s friends, but he IS my friend and that won’t change, he wouldn’t do anything to hurt me, so I won’t either.”

“I appreciate it, and as I said, it’s good to see that he has such loyal friends.  Still,” I warned Ethan, “you need to keep in mind that even the people who could at one moment give their own lives for you, those who swear they would do anything for you, could change their mind and stab you in the back without warning.”

“Still mad at William?” Ethan asked.

“With him, and at myself, I should have known better, I should have already learned my lesson, one I hope you don’t get to experiment, at least not for a long time.”

“I know, even those you trusted the most could, and in your case, have betrayed you.”

“I wish you didn’t spend so much time inside my head, you are losing your innocence.”

“You know in my position is better to know so I can be prepared.”

“I don’t know what I was expecting, but this is not it,” Oliver said.  “Even after hearing my grandmother’s wonderful tales, I can’t help but think of you as a heartless assassin.”

“And still, you are not afraid,” I pointed out.

“Ethan said we had nothing to fear, and we trust him,” Iñaki said.

“I talked to my brother and he told me what had happened,” Hye Ki said shyly, “and I wanted to thank you for saving him and ask your forgiveness for all the bad things I thought about you.”

“Not sorry for trying to kill me?” I asked, taking the girl by surprise.

“Try to kill you?  When was that?” Ethan asked, and it was clear he was mad about it.  Hye Ki was blushing, feeling bad about the situation.

“You knew about that?”

“There’s little I don’t know.  Your parents also tried that, and they were almost successful, but I have to give it to you, you were the youngest one to try that, and not many people would have thought of something like what you did.  The small robot you used to carry the poison was, in my husband’s words, an engineering marvel, but I’m sure you could find better uses for it than trying to kill someone.  I suggest that next time you take some time to think about the consequences of your actions.  Think about it, what if you had succeeded?  Would you have felt better?  Or would guilt eat at you?  It’s not easy to take somebody’s life.”

“Even for you?” Dmytro asked.  “It’s clear now that you didn’t kill as many people as you were accused of, but you don’t seem to have a problem killing people, and I have seen the recordings of Emily’s death, and that wasn’t faked, she is definitely dead.”

“I grew up in a different place, where my options were to kill or be killed.  I don’t have a problem killing people who deserve it.  You could say I was forced to commit my first murder when I was about your age.  But things are different here, and you grew up with a different moral compass, one that says is not correct to kill, and puts a heavier burden on you when you do.”

“Can I ask you a question?” Hye Ki said.

“Of course, but I want you to be sure you want the answer.  I hope you already realized that I don’t know how to sugarcoat things, I say things as they are.”  She took a minute to think about it, and then asked her question.

“For a long time I have gone over that day, when you let my brother fall in my place.  I was sure I was going to die that day, and sometimes I think it would have been easier to let them kill me, to stop my brother before he acted, but you didn’t, why?”

“You are right, it would have been easier to stop him, but it wouldn’t have been easier on your father to lose you.  I didn’t know the whole story back then, but I knew your father had already lost a daughter, one your brother was a daily reminder of, and I knew how hard it would have been to lose another.  Any loss is painful, but I had the feeling that your father was going to be able to deal with your brother’s lost easier than yours.”

“So you did that for my father?  But…” Hye Ki didn’t finish her thought, but I could see that she was thinking about my words, they weren’t what she was expecting, and she was realizing that not everything they thought they knew about me was true, even if she couldn’t see that my motives were actually kind of selfish.  “You didn’t know us back then, there was no reason to do something like that.”

“Your father had already gone through a lot, he didn’t need to be tortured even more.”

“When my grandparents disappeared,” Oliver cut in, “when we thought you had killed the, there was a rumor, one my mother ignored, that said that Emily had ordered our deaths, and there was an incident when I thought we were going to die, just a few days before my grandparents’ death.  What’s the real story?”

“Your mother was too valuable to die, but since they didn’t assign her murder to me, I asked someone to stop the attempt from being successful, and then convinced Emily that her death wasn’t going to help anyone, and that it would be better to kill her parents, so she could see that the threat was real, and then used you and your brother to control your mother.  Since their deaths were assigned to me, I was able to take them to a safe place.  I’m sorry your grandfather didn’t survive, but I can assure you, there was nothing we could have done to stop his death, it was his time.”

“That’s what my grandma says.  I think that we have to thank you, not only for my grandparents’ lives, but also ours.  You don’t know much this means to us, thank you,” Oliver said, with all the formality the fifteen year old could use.

“Yes, thank you,” Iñaki added, copying his brother.

“I also have to thank you,” Dmytro said, “I didn’t know my grandparents as well as Oliver knew his, still I was very sad that they were gone.  Having them back and having a second chance at knowing them is a great gift.  And I know my father is very happy to have them back.”

“You don’t have anything to thank me for, I was just doing my job, what needed to be done.  You are making this a bigger deal than it is.”

“Maybe it’s nothing for you, but it’s everything to us,” Oliver said.

“Well, I know you didn’t come here to talk to me, you are here for Ethan, so I will leave you alone.”

I got up and prepared to leave when I heard a discussion from the direction of the entrance, and then I saw William and two guards walking towards me.

“We need to talk,” William said, his voice full of power.

“There’s nothing to talk about.  I already warned you not to look for me.”

One side of the room was made out of floor to ceiling windows, you could see the gardens, and farther away, part of the city.  I used my powers to open the windows and then I used them to grab William and throw him out.  Both guards ran to the windows and one of them jumped behind William.  Ethan’s friends were staring in horror at the scene.

“Did you kill him?” Hye Ki finally broke the silence.

“Your brother survived a fall from a plane and you are worried about a few stories?”

“It would be better for you if you could stop doing reckless acts like this,” the remaining guard warned me, “it wouldn’t be a good idea to keep pilling charges against you.”

“You do whatever you want, I don’t care about the stupid trial anyway.”

“You are lucky the King fell into the pond and wasn’t hurt, or you would be in real trouble.”

“Luck had nothing to do with that.  And tell your King that if he dares to show his face in front of me again, next time I won’t be so nice.  I can’t stand traitors, and that goes for you too.  I kind of respect your loyalty, I know you swore loyalty to the Royal House, but you work for me, and if you stand in my way again, you won’t like it.”

“Understood,” the guard said, walking out of the room.  It was obvious he was mad at me and wanted to yell back at me, but he wasn’t dumb and knew he would lose if he fought with me.

“I think that kind of confirms that you are still mad at William,” Ethan said.

“If he thinks he can walk into my home as if nothing happened, he has lost his mind,” just by seeing him my mood had turned sour again, and I wasn’t sure if the fact that Ethan’s friends were actually afraid was making things better or worse.  The plan was to be feared, wasn’t it?

“Maybe you should talk…” Ethan started to say, before being interrupted.

“I suggest you stop before you finish that sentence,” Kimball said, choosing that moment to walk into the living room.  He was wearing a brace on his leg, and using a cane, for a moment I worried I had been to harsh on him, but then I realized that William couldn’t have gotten inside without someone opening the door to him and got angry all over again.

“What happened to you?” Ethan asked, staring at Kimball’s broken leg.

“I finished that sentence and your mother didn’t appreciate it.”

“And as if that wasn’t enough, you go and invite that traitor into my home.”

“I didn’t invite him, I just arrived behind him.  I know you understand the concept of diplomacy, you did a great job using it with the Amazons, and even when dealing with Faakhir, so I don’t get why are you acting like this with William.”

“It’s not the same, I knew what I was getting into with them, I knew Faakhir wanted to take advantage of me, and with the Amazons, it was a mutual thing, both trying to get advantage over the other.  But William wasn’t supposed to be like that, he was supposed to be on my side.”

“He feels betrayed, maybe if you explained what happened with Faakhir.”

“He knows what happened with Faakhir, he found me out and attacked me, what else is there?”  I could feel the eyes on me, I knew the kids were listening and didn’t appreciate it, I didn’t want them to hear more than they were supposed to.

“All I’m saying is that you should talk to him and explain everything that happened, reach an agreement.  You are supposed to be trying to stop a war, not cause one.”

I looked out of the still open window, thinking of throwing Kimball out, maybe he would want to cool off in the pond with William.

“Please don’t throw my father out of the window,” Ethan asked.

“Yes, please don’t,” Kimball asked with a pout and a teasing tone, that instead of calming me down only made me angrier.

“I’m out of here, and I suggest you don’t follow me, for your own good,” I warned Kimball.

“Before you go, I just want to insist on how grateful I’m for what you did for my family.  You don’t know how much it means for us to have my brother back,” Hye Ki said, extending her hand for me to shake.  I decided to accept the gesture and took her hand, and as soon as I did the world around me faded, throwing me into a new one.

I saw a couple of people saying how they were running out of time, then I watched as they reached an agreement and reached a console, typing some commands into it before leaving the place.  The vision changed focus and I saw a young girl, her face extremely familiar, even if I had never seen her before.  She was locked in a room, and I saw how she started to work as soon as the alarm went off, going to the pile of blankets she used as a bed and retrieving a series of instruments.  The focus changed again and I watched the couple I had first seen walking out of a building, trying to get out of there in a hurry, it was then that I realized what was going on and what I needed to do.

When I got out of the vision I was surrounded by curious faces.

“A vision?” Kimball asked, even knowing the answer.

“We have to go,” I said immediately, I had finally got the information I needed to fulfill a promise I had done years before, thanks to the vision.

“You are under arrest, remember?  You can’t leave,” Kimball said.

“I don’t care about that.  When are you going to understand that I don’t care about William’s whims?  You have an hour to get ready if you want to go with me,” I warned Kimball, who only raised a brow and made a huge deal of looking at his leg, as if trying to remind me he was injured.  I ignored him and turned back to Hye Ki who was looking confused.  “I don’t know if it was because of you, but if you triggered that vision, then I’m very grateful to you. You can stay here as long as you want, don’t worry about anything and have fun.”

I left the room, and used my powers to reach Thalia.

I’m sorry,‘ she said as soon as I made contact.  ‘We were trying to stop Sofia from reaching you and William slipped by, we didn’t notice until it was too late.  Sofia managed to play us, again.  Fatima is not happy about it, and we failed you again.

Don’t worry about that, we have work to do.  I want you and Fatima to meet with me at the airport in an hour, we have a mission to complete.

“At least could you tell me what’s this about?” Kimball asked, from behind me.  He was moving really fast for someone with a broken leg.

“I don’t know, if I tell you, will you go to your new friend and tell him my plans?  I don’t want to risk him trying to stop me, I don’t want to have to kill him.”

“You must know I’m on your side, I really think that it would be a good thing to establish some form of communication.”

“I will deal with Sofia and William later, right now I have better things to do.”

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Chapter 11

“Is everything ready?” I asked Fatima, who had been with me all morning.

“Everything it’s ok,” she said, but I could tell she was a little distracted.

“What’s wrong?”

“Something weird was going on in the fog, I couldn’t get a good reading as to what was going to happen today, and I couldn’t contact Sofia to see if she could see something different.”

“I haven’t had a chance to get into the fog, but I talked to Sofia yesterday and she told me that everything would be fine today.”

“I haven’t seen William yet, did you?”

“No, I’m afraid he is late, he decided to go to the old house outside the city where he used to live, he asked to spend the night there.  He should arrive soon, but that’s ok, in a way it will be better if he arrives and surprises everyone.”

“It’s time to go,” David announced, opening the door just far enough for us to hear him.

I just waved Fatima goodbye and stepped outside to head to the Congress room, where all the Representatives, Ambassadors and other government people was already waiting.  As we expected, the universal translators had arrived on time and everyone had one, Kimball had tested them and said they were working perfectly, with their help nothing would be lost in translation.

I could feel the weight of everyone’s stares as I walked inside the room, Kimball was already there, wearing his gala uniform, as general of Mzansi’s army, a look that only helped to keep the idea that he would be the next King of the Dominion.

“Thank you for being here,” I said in a tone just loud enough to be heard.  “I believe that most of you know why I called you here, but for those that don’t know, I want you to know that my mission from the start was to reestablish the old system.  Right now I have the titles of Queen, Prime Minister and President of the Dominion, but today I will relinquish one of those titles and I will return the title of King to its rightful owner.”

“Kimball is not the rightful heir,” someone yelled from the other side of the room.  I couldn’t see who said that, I could easily find out who had, but I wasn’t worried about it.

“Before, the King or Queen was also known as the High Judge, that person was also in charge of applying the law and giving justice.  Emily was not the right person for that position, and all she did with it was abuse the power it gave her and corrupt it.  The new King won’t be like that.”

“Kimball has been covering your crimes for years,” Kozak said, “that makes him an accomplice and the worst person to fill that position.”

“As you know, or should know, when Queen Sofia left her position, she left it to her son Charles, going over Emily.  As Charles died and no one ever found out what had happened to his son, the crown went to Emily, and after Emily’s death, who didn’t have any heirs, the next in line is her brother William.”

“It will take a long time to go over all the succession line until we reach Kimball,” Representative Arctander protested.

“It’s not necessary to go that far,” I said, acknowledging for the first time one of their comments.  I gave David the signal and he opened the door.  William walked in and the room fell into complete silence, only to erupt in noise a second later as people started screaming protests and accusations.  I hit the podium with my palm, using my powers to amplify the noise and with that the room went back to silence.  “Let me introduce to you your next King, the son of former Queen Sofia, and younger brother of Charles and Emily.  The rightful heir of the crown, King William III.”

“William is dead,” someone yelled, breaking the silence.

“Good afternoon everyone.  I know that you are probably surprised by my presence, and I know that most of you heard from my sister that I died in the same accident my brother did.  The truth, that most of you know or at least suspect, is that my sister killed my brother, but left me alive, not because she felt bad about killing a relative or because she liked me, but because she used me, for years, as a tool to control my mother and force her to help her with her nefarious plans.  Once my sister decided my mother was no longer useful, I lost my usefulness too.  I should have died years ago, but Kaiserin saved me, and now she is giving me back my rightful place as King of the Dominion.”

Again the noise went up as people talked and questions were asked all at the same time.  The translators were doing its best to work, but there were too many voices and most of what was being said was getting lost.  A question managed to rise above others.

“Are you willing to work with the woman who killed your mother?”

“I know that Kaiserin is accused of a lot of crimes, and I know that as the Judge it’s my job to go over the evidences and judge if a person is innocent or guilty based on the laws that as King I swear to follow.  Because of that, my first action as King of the Dominion will be to judge Kaiserin and decide if she is fit to keep her position.”

“What the hell are you doing?” I asked William, that was not what we had agreed on.  “This is not part of the plan,” my men looked confused and didn’t know how to act, but a few people weren’t surprised by the turn of events.

“I have a file with all the crimes you have been accused of.  According to the old laws of the Dominion, no person is fit to rule over us unless she is innocent of any crime.”

“I offer my services as a lawyer to defend Kaiserin,” Jean Dupont, Madelaine’s brother-in-law offered.

“Agreed,” William said, and another wave of furious yelling started.

“Are you going to defend the woman who destroyed your brother by killing his wife?” one of the Ambassadors asked.

“Why do you assume she was involved in the death of my sister-in-law?” Jean asked, his voice full of suspicion.

“Maybe because he was involved in my kidnapping,” Madelaine answered, her physical aspect changing in front of everyone, her skin and hair getting lighter, morphing in front of everyone to the aspect we all recognized.  “I’m sure he is still mad that Kaiserin ruined his plans with me when she saved me from Faakhir.”  Madelaine’s presence caused a bigger reaction than William’s.  “Some men can’t take no for an answer, and he helped Faakhir, hoping that once he was done with me he would get his turn.”

“Madelaine, what are you doing?” I asked, still feeling out of control and a little lost.

“I won’t let them blame you for something you didn’t do, you saved me, and I won’t let you try to punish you for my kidnapping, or my supposed death.”

“I will wait until the preliminary trial to present the motion to dismiss the charge for Madelaine’s murder,  and I will present another 54 motions to dismiss other murders.  Some of the murder charges, I will ask to be changed to self-defense,” Jean said.

“Enough!  This has gone too far.  Who do you think you are to do something like this?  I won the right to rule this place, and this game of you is unacceptable.”  I told William, trying to understand what was going on.

“You gave me the right to judge you when you named me the King.  This is the best for everyone.”

“This is not part of the plan, you can’t do this,” by then, most of my men were placed around me, and Kinball had moved to my side.

“It wasn’t part of the plan to kill my sister either, you were supposed to give me the chance to face her.”

“I won’t accept this.  Did you forget who is in control?  Did you forget who saved you from death?  Is this how you pay me?”

“You asked me to come here and do my job.  This is me doing my job, it’s my duty to make sure that no criminal is in charge.  You are not the only one who is going to be facing trial, I will clean this place.  It’s like with the man Madeleine just accused of wrongdoing, he will be charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping and any other charges that my people can find.  But I’m going to start with you.”

“This is for the best,” Sofia said.  I realized that she was being escorted into the room by a very confused Yoweri.  In that moment I understood that Sofia and William had conspired to fool my people, and that only helped to fuel my anger.  “This is the best way to proceed,” she said, her voice so soft only I, and people close to us, would be able to hear her.

Sofia walked to the podium I had used a few minutes ago, and that her son was using, and put her hand on his shoulder, so he would give her space.  Sofia’s sudden appearance had rendered the room silent once again.  Most people in the room had attended her funeral, cried for her, heard the stories of how I had murdered her in her garden, with her daughter’s blessing.  Her death was one of the main reasons people hated me, because even if Sofia had been by her daughter’s side, they didn’t forget how good she had been to them as a Queen, and they all considered her another victim or her daughter, not an accomplice.

“Mother?” William asked, not just confirming her identity, but prompting her to speak.

“Things are not always what they look like,” Sofia said, breaking the silence.  “When my daughter started seeing me as a threat to her rule, she decided to get rid of me, but she sent the wrong assassin to do the job.  She asked Kaiserin to kill me, but instead, Kaisern offered me protection and a second chance.  She also gave me my son back.  I know you all expect this trial to show how unfit she is for the position she took from my daughter, but it will only show how right she is to rule the Dominion.  I’m grateful for the offer from Dupont to represent Kaiserin, and I offer my testimony to prove her innocence in most charges.  And I want to add, that I’m as guilty as her for those charges she is guilty of, because we worked together for years.”

“That’s not possible, she has to be controlling them,” a voice yelled from the back of the room, “they are trying to trick us.”

“No, we are here to try and fix what my sister broke,” William said.  “Kaiserin,” he said, turning to face me, his voice full of power.  “Could you tell me…” he started to say, but I used my powers to grab his neck and cut his words.

“How dare you use your power against me?  Did you forget who taught you to take advantage of your powers?”

“Kaiserin, calm down, we are together in this,” Sofia said, moving closer to me, but I was beyond mad at that point, mad at her betrayal.

“We were,” I said, and as soon as she was near me, I slapped her and sent her to the floor.  “We had a deal, and you broke it when you decided to go behind my back.  Remember that this alliance between us, it’s only valid as long as you are useful to me, when your usefulness runs out, so will our alliance.  I promised you would get to be King, so I will keep my word and let you play your games.  You have a week, in a week I will take control once more.  If this doesn’t work out in my favor, then I will just grab control by force once more, and I will make sure that no one will dare to get involved in my business again.”

“I’m sorry, but that’s not how things work.  I’m afraid that I will have to put you under arrest.  But I promise I will take care of this as soon as possible,” William explained.

“An who is going to arrest me?” I asked.  “The soldiers still loyal to the crown are not match to the ones loyal to me.  Are you going to start a war just a few minutes after assuming your new role as King?”

“Don’t make this more difficult.  You know you need me by your side.”

“That’s not true, I could do what I should have done years ago and kill you and your mother, and take the crown back, keep being a tyrant.”  I moved closer to William and whispered to him.  “Or I could go looking for your nephew, your brother’s son, the true heir to toe crown, I’m sure I can make sure he remains loyal.”

“What? But… What are you talking about?” William asked, confused, waiting for an answer I had no intention to give him.  “Come back here!” he ordered as he noticed I was moving out of the room.

I could feel him moving after me, but my men surrounded me, creating a barrier he couldn’t break, and making me feel better, knowing I still had people on my side.  I couldn’t get over the fact that I had been betrayed once again by people I trusted completely.  I stepped out of the room and found Reka and Konstantinos waiting for me, both of them looked worried and that only made me realize that there were more problems to deal with.  I could hear Kimball discussing back in the room, but I couldn’t focus on what he was saying, I needed to find what had them so worried.

“What’s wrong?”

“I’m not sure how it happened,” Konstantinos said, “but we were just informed that the people from Aquarium it’s arriving at the Towers, most going to their old homes or to their relatives.”

“This can’t be happening,” I said out loud, even as I realized that William’s and Sofia’s betrayal was even worse than I originally thought.  “The army is still under my power, that means that we can still act, we need to declare Martial Law immediately if we want to keep control of the situation.  I want the army on the streets, no one gets in or out of the city and I want increased security around the Towers, it’s possible that with the arrival of the refugees some our enemies decide to act, we can’t allow that.”

“Understood,” Reka said, “we will start working on that right away.”

Ivan,‘ I called with my mind, ‘I need you to go pick Ethan from school.  Things can become dangerous and I need to know he is safe.‘  I read an affirmative answer on his mind and I moved to the next step.

“Kaiserin?” Sofia called.

“No!” I yelled as I turned to face her.  “You don’t want to be near me right now, it’s hard enough to control myself right now, all I want right now is to break your neck.  For your own safety, stay away from me.”

“It’s for the best, Sofia, your action today did a lot of damage,” Fatima said.  “We trusted you and you fooled us, you hid your plans from us.  We are supposed to be a team, and you manipulated the situation to stop us from seeing what you were planning.”

“My son thinks this is the best way, the trial will show that all the action taken these years have been for the good of the Dominion, people will see you for who you really are,” Sofia said.

“That was never the plan and you know it.  We looked at all the options and decided that that was not the best way.”

“You said it yourself, plans change.”

I wasn’t in the mood to hear her excuses, so I signaled my people to follow and walked away, heading to my suite.  I knew that I was partly to blame, experience had already taught me that I should trust no one, that no matter how close people were to you, no matter who they were, people could betray you any time.  Even people you could swear would give their lives for you, could change their minds any moment and stab you in the back.

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.

–  –  –

“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 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 9

Emily gave me the information I needed to get to William and assigned two guards to go with me. She said that they were there to help me, but I knew that they were there to keep an eye on me. They were her spies, making sure I did what I was told to do. I knew their presence was going to complicate things.

Both of them seemed to know the way, so I let them drive and concentrated on the route and the landscape. The mansion where William was being held was in the middle of the woods, far away from any town. It was designed so no one would arrive there by mistake, you had to know where you were going if you wanted to go there. It wasn’t easy to get there, we first had to take a plane, then a chopper and finally a 4×4.

My first impression was that it was a beautiful place, but I knew the secrets hidden in its walls, and that ruined the illusion. When the vehicle stopped I got out and used my powers to start my search. I connected to the building and mapped it out. I got a good idea of where I needed to go, but when the guards started moving as if they knew the way, I decided to follow them, it was possible they had been there before.

In just a few minutes we arrived at the basement door. One of them started climbing down the stairs and I followed him, the other guard was behind me. I started to worry, their emotions were very negative and I was afraid it had something to do with me. Once we reached the end of the stairs, I moved deeper into the basement, while they stayed behind. I realized what had shocked them, there was a body covered in rats, rats that were so focused on their meal that hadn’t ran away when we turned the lights on. I feared that we were too late, but then I felt another mind. On the other side of the basement, behind bars, was another body, locked in a tiny cell. I got closer, I needed to check if it was William.

The man wasn’t what I was expecting. From what Sofia had said, and what I had listened from Emily’s mind, I knew he would be in a bad shape, but I had no idea how bad. After a few days without food, I was expecting a thin, starving man, but the figure before me told a different story. From the gaps on his clothes, I could see his bones protruding, his face was hollow and he had bags under his eyes. He looked more like a man that hadn’t had a good meal in weeks, not just a few days. His pasty skin looked like it hadn’t received sunshine in a long time, weeks, maybe months. His long, shaggy hair gave him a wild look.

I knew he was still alive because I had felt his mind when I entered the basement, but I couldn’t feel it anymore. Using my mind, I dragged the mattress closer to me, and getting my hand between the bars, I touched him, for other it would look as if I was looking for his pulse, but I was connecting with him. I looked for his energy, usually, when I did that was to take it, but what I needed was to give him some. Taking was easy, it was part of the nature of the power, but giving required great effort on my part. I concentrated in giving him enough energy to keep him alive a little bit longer. I didn’t need my powers to know that he was at his limit, he wouldn’t survive another day without help. I got up, using the bars to support me, and also to connect to the cell and open the locks. I was careful to keep the door closed so the guards wouldn’t suspect anything, but all it needed to open up was a little push.

“It seems this trip was a waste of time,” I said, as if I was thinking out loud, but I needed the guards to hear me. I took the phone out, the one Faakhir had given me, and dialed Emily to tell her my findings.

“Did you get rid of him already?” She said as soon as she answered.

“It seems that your mother’s hopes were unfounded, someone did try to help him, but he died before he could get him out. We found two bodies in the basement, one of them have been dead for a while, the rats already took care of most of him, the other, I guess your brother, has been dead for a little while. Do you want me to leave hi for the rats? Or should we bury him?” Emily was quiet for a long time, and I thought that maybe she had left, but then she took a deep breath, as if she had reached a difficult decision.

“I want you to burn the place,” she finally said. “I don’t have any use for the mansion, and it would be better to get rid of the evidence. Don’t stay there after the fire starts, I don’t want any of you there if someone goes to investigate.

“It will be my pleasure.” I knew the guards were watching me, so I needed to think fast. “The Queen wants us to burn this place. From what I saw, it won’t be hard to do. We should get out of here.”

“I can go back to the hangar and bring some gasoline,” one of them offered. “That way it will be faster to set the fire.”

“It won’t be necessary, all I need is a small flame and I will take care of the rest.” The guards exchanged a look, but they didn’t contradict me.

When we got out of the place both guards were watching me. They were expecting me to walk through the room setting the fire, not to take them to the outside of the building, they were thinking I was going to blow my responsibilities. They were partly right, I wasn’t going to do what Emily wanted, I needed to find a way to take William out of the mansion before setting the fire. Luckily, by giving William some of my energy, I had created a temporary connection between us. I took the lighter that one of them offered and used my powers to connect to the little flame, at the same time that I strengthened my connection to William. It was an advantage that no one knew about my double mind, it allowed me to do things like that without suspicion.

One of my minds was focused on the flame, I controlled it and made it move to the door of the mansion, once it caught fire, I made the flames dance and move, taking more and more, feeding on the building, devouring it like a starving animal. Using my powers I moved it inside and outside, making it grow. Soon, the mansion was burning, the fire trying to escape through the windows and the doors, the flames illuminating the place that was cast in shadows because of the smoke covering the sun. The heat was so strong that the guards had to move back, their skin already red because of the fire.

My other mind was focused on saving William. I used our connection to feel his body and move him through the mansion. While I was walking out of the mansion I made sure to clear a route for him to get out, opening the kitchen door, that was on the opposite side of where my guards and I were standing. While one mind was directing the fire, making sure it stayed clear of William, the other was moving him through the building until he was safe, outside the mansion and far away from the fire. Once I was sure he was out of danger, I cut my connection to the fire and let it run free, I let it consume the mansion and get rid of all evidence of William’s life.

“I think that is enough, we have to leave.” I didn’t wait for them, I started my way back to the car. A few minutes later I felt more people around us, the cavalry had arrived, and just in time too. After giving some of my energy to William, and then using my powers to take him out of the mansion and set it on fire, I was exhausted, and my head was feeling the first signs of a psychic headache, which would be a very dangerous thing to happen to me among enemies.

I got my other phone out, the one Kimball had given me to talk to him and the other mzansiers. It looked just like the one Faakhir had given me, so I expected the guards to think that I was talking to the Dominion. I sent a message to Mbali, she was in charge of the recovery squad, I told her where she could find William, and also how bad he was, and that he needed medical attention as soon as possible. Once we arrived at the hangar and got into the helicopter, I sent Emily a message to let her know I had done my part, that the mansion was on fire, and that nothing would remain but ashes.

Once we were in the air, I could see the fire over the top of the trees. With the intensity I suspected it would extend to the forest around the mansion, unless the mzansiers did something to stop it. I didn’t care what happened to the place, all I cared was that they could save William. I couldn’t say that I was surprised by the way Emily had treated him, I knew how feeble blood ties could be. My half-brother had tortured me, so I knew that even if two people shared the same blood, it didn’t mean they shared the same beliefs. My mother and her siblings showed it was possible to get along, but their relationship was based on respect and fear. Emily and Caracalla were different, they cared more about their ambition than their families.

Once we arrived at the airport, I left my guards and made my way back to Mzansi. I needed some time for myself, and I needed Kimball. Finding William, and setting the fire on the mansion had affected me, I needed to calm down, I needed to center myself, I needed my family, a reminder of why I needed to do what I was doing, why I had to put myself in a situation where I could be haunted by my past. I knew that Kimball would make it better, he would drive the nightmares away and tell me that everything was going to be ok, that together we could face anything.

While I was traveling, I got a call from Faakhir, he asked me where I was going, but I reminded him that I had a country to rule. He wasn’t happy with my answer, he wanted me back at Capital city, he wanted me with him. I knew that sooner or later I had to go there, but first I needed Kimball, and I needed to go to Aquarium to make sure that both Sofia and William were fine. I needed to make sure that William would get over what happened to him at the mansion. I felt responsible for him, he was under my protection and I had to make sure he was alright. I wasn’t going to let anyone hurt him again, Faakhir and Emily wouldn’t be able to touch him again.

William

William wasn’t sure why the yacht was still in the marina, their journey should have started already. He was tempted to leave and return to his mother, even if she insisted he should be there, but he wasn’t sure why, the problem was between his siblings, he wasn’t the one fighting for the crown.

He looked at his brother Charles, King Charles, and his wife Leticia. They looked at ease, but William knew it was just a charade, he didn’t believe that they have forgotten or forgiven all the things his sister Emily had accused them of when their mother had chosen Charles as her successor and not Emily who was the oldest of the three. But now Emily was acting as if there was no problem between them, and chatted with them as if they were all good friends. William saw Faakhir, Emily’s husband, enter the room, but he wasn’t alone, his sister Nysa was with him. He knew that as Emily’s husband Faakhir had every right to be there, but why the hell was Nysa with him? She was not family, and William couldn’t think of anything worse that having to be with both of them. Before his brother could call him closer to greet them he decided to go somewhere else.

William couldn’t stop thinking about his mother, especially her last words to him: “It’s better if I stay here, it would be safer for the both of us this way.”

He hated the way his mother refused to talk clear to him. He knew it was something all seers did, but he hated it all the same.

William spent the first week hiding from his siblings, he didn’t want to be part of the charade. At least he knew that Emily was happy because of it, he could force her to tell the truth with his power and then it would be impossible to continue the charade that they were trying so hard to maintain: the happy family charade. It was in the night of the seventh day that William noticed something wrong, the sky looked wrong. As he went looking for the captain he noticed some black shapes moving on the deck. He was going to investigate when someone grabbed him and put a hand over his mouth to stop him from screaming.

“Calm down, Your Highness,” said the person that was holding him, “I’m here to help you, we need to get out of here.” William nodded his understanding and he was released.

“Can I trust you?” William asked, using the tone of voice that was his power, the one that could guaranty that he would be answered with the truth.

“Of course my Prince.” The guard smiled, glad that the young prince was taking the precaution to check he was trustworthy.

“What’s going on?” William asked as they walked through the yacht.

“We’re not sure, but there’s enemies on board. Your brother is safe, some of the guards are taking him and his wife to the yacht tenders, I was sent to look for you.”

“What about Emily?” William had a bad feeling.

“We think she is with them.”

The guard took him to where the speed boat was being prepared to take them out of there. Just as they reached the others they heard a shooting.

“We have to move faster,” the guard warned. He grabbed William and pulled him closer to the boat where Leticia was already boarding.

“Brother!” William called Charles. “What’s going on?”

“I’m not sure, but we have been invaded, we’re being moved to safety while the guards deal with this.”

Just then the enemy arrived. It was chaos, they started shooting the guards. William’s guard pushed him to the boat, but then the arm pushing him disappeared, William looked back in time to see the guard falling and blood exploding out of his head. He was frozen, he heard the screams, but couldn’t understand what they were yelling. He saw Charles surrounded by guards, they were moving closer to him.

“Move!” Charles told his brother. Leticia, already in the boat, was yelling.

When William started to board he was grabbed by invisible hands and pulled back. He saw people fighting and then heard a gun and then Charles was falling. He didn’t heard anything else, he saw Charles yell and Leticia fighting a guard, trying to get out of the boat and back with her husband. But the guards took the boat away, taking Leticia and her unborn child to safety, leaving William and Charles behind. Not that William blamed them, he wanted them to be safe, and he was sure they would be dead if they stayed. He moved closer to Charles, but he could see it was too late, his brother was dying. William saw from the corner of his eye a gun being pointed at him.

“Enough,” called a voice that William couldn’t help but recognize.

“We have to get rid of both of them, either could be a problem in the future.” Another familiar voice.

“I don’t think my mother will make the same mistake twice, she has no choice but to name me queen.”

William felt Charles fading, he actually saw his last breath. “Why?” William asked in a whisper. “Why did you kill him?”

“I think that’s kind of obvious,” Faakhir said, “he was on our way.”

“He was your brother!” William told Emily, ignoring Faakhir.

“But he took my birth right.”

“You would make a horrible queen, you are too busy taking care of yourself to take care of your people.”

“I won’t make the same mistakes our parents made, the people is here to serve royalty, not the other way around.” Emily was showing no remorse, and William felt like the Emily in front of him was another person, she had never been a warm person, but neither the cold one in front of him.

“How are you going to do this?” William infused his voice with his power, he needed to know. “How are you going to justify our deaths?”

“That’s easy. A malfunction in our ship took us out of route and we ended up in the Dark Kingdom’s territory, we were attacked by one of those dark clans and we barely escaped, unfortunately my dear brothers weren’t so lucky.” William remembered the sky and understood why it looked wrong, they were in forbidden territory, too close to the Dark Empire.

“Even if you can fool the people, mother will know what you did. Are you planning to kill her too?”

“No, she is going to help me. And you are going to make sure that she does. She already lost one son, she will do whatever we tell her to do to keep you alive.”

And then Emily smiled, a smile that made William cold. And he remembered his mother’s words: “It’s better if I stay here, it would be safer for the both of us this way.”

“What would you have done if my mother had accepted to be on this trip?” William used his power again, he needed to know.

“If mother was here, both of you would already be death. But this is better, this way I will have mother’s support and people will do whatever I told them to do. Take him to his room, tomorrow we will transfer him to another vessel that will take him to his new home.”

Queen Sofia

First, I want to apologize for my lack of post last week.  I’m doing what I didn’t want to do, I’m not keeping my posts schedule, but it was a crazy week.  You have read about the Dark and the Light, now I give you a glimpse of a third power, the Free Nations Union.

Queen Sofia sat alone, sipping her cup of tea. There was no error, a new powerful seers was being born, she was receiving the first taste of her visions, just like Sofia a few decades earlier. It was time too, since Cerridwen’s death the balance had been broken, for even if they lived on the other side of the world, the inhabitants of the Dark and the Light had always had a true seer, one as powerful as herself. The young priest had that spot in the Light, but there was a void in the Dark. There used to be more like her in the old continents too, but at that time she was the only with a true power, one capable to see long into the future, not just a few months or a couple of years. It was a shame too, for if there were more like her maybe what was to come could be changed. She had tried already, she had given her son Charles the throne in an effort to stop her daughter’s ambition, but it wasn’t enough, and in her failure she had condemned her family and her people to a gruesome war.

But the new seer had given her hope, for she could sense that she would be a part of a new future, one where the old and new continents could be together again, could stop hiding from each other. She still didn’t know how that would happen, but she was confident it would. She needed to go deep into the fogs of the future to try and make sense of everything that was happening, and she knew that the next few years would be troublesome, but it was necessary for a better future.

“Are you sure you don’t want to come with us?” Asked her younger son, William.

“I’m sure my dear.” She smiled at him, a sad smile, for she didn’t know how long it would be before she could see him again. “It’s better if I stay here, it would be safer for the both of us this way.”

“Why would it be safer?” He asked, but he saw the glassy look on his mother’s eyes and knew it would be a waste to insist, his mother was trapped in a vision or would be soon. “I’ll see you soon mother.” He said and kissed his mother’s forehead before leaving her.

And Sofia was already trapped in the nightmare that her visions were, for she was reliving the next few days, trying a last time to find an alternative to what was to come, but convinced that there was no way to avoid the pain, her heart breaking again ahead of time, mourning the lives that were yet to be lost. For it was the curse of her power, to see and not to be able to fix, having to sacrifice the few in favor of the many.

The tea was cold by the time she left the fogs of destiny, there was nothing else for her to do but wait. It would be years before she could meet the key for hers and her people’s freedom.