there is a beginning
and an end.
Even great mountains rise and fall
as time continues to roll on.
Within that time,
a delicate balance must be maintained
or all will fall into chaos
The universe is no different.
Among the chaos of creation
there is still a semblance of balance,
or nothing would be able to form,
But what keeps that balance?
Is it divine force,
or just chance?
Is it strong and sure,
or just holding on by a thread
ready to break at any moment?
Do we have centuries,
before the life we know ends
as suddenly as it began?
Is it as simply as a choice between
good or evil,
right or wrong,
love or hate?
Or is it as simple as choosing to embrace both,
because without one the other
does not exist.
It had been five years since they released her physically, only one year since the nightmares finally stopped. For eleven years before her release, they had done everything they could to break her. Physical torture, mental abuse, rape. All because of a moment of stupidity. A moment that would completely change her in ways that she was still trying to understand, and even though she was now free, there was a small voice in the back of her mind that kept whispering that freedom would not be forever.
Thirty-eight-year-old Kara Conner was born with a special ability. The ability to make people bend to her will. She could never bring herself to use it on anyone for her own needs. Instead she would see someone bulling someone or another stealing and gently push them into a different direction. The right direction.
In a rush to get home, or was it to school? It seemed so long ago that her nightmare began Kara could not remember, but patience had never been one of her virtues. She was in a hurry so decided to take the shortcut through the woods. One that stories were told about people walking in and never walking out. Of boogeymen and witches. Of vengeful ghosts who were either searching for their lost loves or looking for the one who betrayed them. As far as Kara was concerned it was all hogwash. The woods were not haunted by ghosts or witches or boogeymen because they did not exist.
What she realized too late was that the woods were haunted by something far worse. Something that was looking for her.
Before she knew what was happening, Kara was being dragged kicking and screaming into a reality she did not know existed. A reality where the people came from other worlds far from her home planet, Earth. Who traveled in metal cities called ships from galaxy to galaxy, making allies and conquering enemies, bending those who resist their rule to their will. People who had powers to enter her mind, cause her pain or pleasure with a single thought. Show her that the strange things she had always been able to do did not make her crazy. They made her special. Special enough that there were those hunting her who wished to use her for their own objectives.
In order to survive those eleven years, Kara had done things she would never tell her family. Acts she was not sure her husband who she deeply loved could ever forgive. Acts she never wanted her children to know their mother was capable of. Horrific, vile, degrading acts that even though the nightmares had stopped still haunted her. Acts she would do again if it meant those she loved remained innocent of the evil that marred their universe. Evil that went by the name of Colin Malvado.
Colin was the one who captured Kara in the forest that fateful day. He had technology at his disposal that Kara had only seen in movies and television shows, and his power she thought far outweighed hers. Why he needed her and her paltry magic was beyond Kara, but no matter how much she pointed out that fact, how much she pleaded for him to let her go, he refused. The one time she managed to escape with her now husband, her freedom was short lived. When he caught her, dragging her back into her living nightmare kicking and screaming, she found out just how sadistic Colin could be. The only solace she had was that her husband and child were safely hidden away.
Kara’s only refuge from Colin’s cruelty was his son Anthony. As much as the thought of giving herself to the monster’s son repulsed her, Anthony was the only one in her living nightmare that did not want to hurt her. All he wanted was for Kara to be his and that she never left him. Ever. It was an obsession Kara would learn to regret fostering.
Then new players entered the scene. A powerful sorcerer who called himself Emperor Caius and his apprentice Aden Sahen. A young man who would prove to be not only Kara’s savior, but something much deeper that they could not begin to understand or stop from happening.
When Aden and his master rescued her from Colin, for the first time in a very long time Kara felt safe. The power these new beings held guaranteed Colin and Anthony could never touch her again. She expressed her want to go home, to be with her husband and now three-year-old son. Caius warned her if she did she would only be putting them in danger, for there were others just like Colin who hunted her. Better to stay and learn how to wield her powers, keep the knowledge of her family safely hidden until she was strong enough to protect them. Reluctantly Kara agreed.
During that first year with her new protectors, Kara was taught how hone her powers, control them. She was surprised by how strong she really was. Once Emperor Caius was satisfied with her expertise, he informed her she must now earn her keep. At first she agreed, but soon she began to balk at the things he asked her to do as they became increasingly malevolent.
It was then the pain began.
In all her years with Colin, he never came close to what the emperor did to her when she refused to do as he asked. Colin’s form of persuasion was mental and physical. Part pain, but playing heavily on using her as the ships whore in an attempt to break her. The emperor was able to get into her mind, weave spells around her that set every nerve ending, every muscle, into a pain so excruciating Kara could not even begin to think about breathing.
Aden tried to protect her from the worst of it, but even he with all his power could only do so much. And they had to be careful. If the emperor knew of the strange bond between them, of how being apart from each other was physically painful, he would use it to his advantage. Kara found out rather quickly she could hide nothing from him. Furious at what he called a betrayal he could never forgive, Caius ordered them to break their bond. What Caius did not understand was even if they wanted too; the binding of their souls could not be broken. A binding that also made them stronger.
In order to control them, Caius weaved a web of spells around Kara, making it impossible for either she or Aden to outright attack him. It also made it impossible for Kara to use her magic on any of his men unless she was directly ordered to. Aden had no such restrictions, but if he were to attempt to thwart Caius from punishing Kara, his actions would rebound on her tenfold. This threat did not stop Aden from masking her pain when she lay in his arms sobbing. A kindness Caius could never seem to understand. Kara was a tool, a weapon to use against his enemies. Weapons had no feelings. Weapons had no feelings, and when they disobeyed they were punished. Severely.
When Kara thought she could take no more, Caius suddenly decided to release her. Although release was a relative term.
Promising he would leave her alone to live out the remainder of her life in peace, Caius took her to the planet where her husband Brynn and now ten-year-old son Chris lived. A planet very similar to her Earth with one exception. It was full of magic. A perfect place to hide someone of her extraordinary abilities without drawing attention to what she was. A being that when Caius explained to her what she was even Kara did not believe.
To keep her safe from her enemies, Caius put protective wards around the small county where Brynn, his Uncle and cousins resided. With the wards her enemies would not be able find or hurt her. However, if she wanted to remain free, she could not step outside the boundary of the wards or she would be lost to them.
Knowing the agony it would cause them, as one last punishment Caius ordered Aden to be the one to take Kara down to the planet surface. They materialized outside the farmhouse in the shade of five ancient oak trees.
“Stay with me,” Kara begged clutching Aden’s long coat desperately, the thought of being apart already tearing into her soul.
“You know he will never allow it,” Aden reminded his voice breaking as he held her tightly to him. “We’ve become too strong. He knows what the separation will do to us. That it will weaken us.” He moved back only enough to tip her head so he could look into her eyes. “Brynn is here. He will help you through this.”
Saying the words aloud was almost as painful as the thought of not having Kara at his side. Caius had explained why Kara needed to be here with Brynn. What she needed to do before the next step was taken, but it still did not make sense to Aden. Kara belonged to him, was bound tightly to him, just as he was to her. There would be no other for him, so why did she have to return to Brynn when in her soul she no longer belonged to him? It was as if Caius knew something they did not.
“Brynn?” Kara whispered.
It was as if saying his name gave her soul permission to call to him. The sudden pull made Aden gasp as pain radiated through his chest. What the hell? Then another more persistent, sharper pull sucked the air out of his lungs. Caius was calling him back, and every cell in his body was screaming in protest.
“No!” Kara whimpered holding onto him even tighter. But they both knew Caius would not be denied. Could not be ignored.
“I love you,” Aden whispered just before his lips touched hers.
And then he was gone.
Kara could not breathe. Falling to her hands and knees gasping for air, she struggled to stay conscious. Gods, the pain. Just as she was slipping into oblivion strong arms pulled her into an embrace, a voice she thought she would never hear again called her name frantically. Then his power breathed through her and she was able to suck in precious air.
“Brynn,” she whispered just before she slipped into the welcoming darkness.
For the next five years Kara was able to reconnect with her husband and son, Chris, have another child, a daughter they named Jamie. But the ache in her heart, in her soul, that was the absence of Aden was never far away. Where Brynn’s love and presence did lessen the pain, it did not completely eradicate it. There was always a part of her that reached out searching for her missing piece. Searching for Aden.
When Colin finally found her, the wards may have been able to keep him physically out of the county Kara lived in, but they could not keep him out of her mind. There were many nights she woke in a cold sweat screaming. Brynn would hold her until she cried herself to sleep. He asked her once what her dreams were about, only once. To know what she had gone through, what they had forced her to do when he was helpless to stop it was more then he could bear to hear. So he held her, loved her, was there for her to try and help her heal. They had two children who desperately needed their mother whole and he would do everything in his power to see that happen.
Vows, even ones made with conviction as strong as steel, can be broken as easily as promises made with a passing breath or with evil intent.
Copyright © 2018 Heidi Barnes