There was very little time and too much to do, to say but he had to try. First….
“Get out,” he ordered to the remaining spectators who were lingering, his eyes never leaving Kara who lay on her side on the cold metal floor with her back towards him.
As the room slowly cleared, he made his way to her, praying her injuries were ones his limited healing power could fix and that she would not hate him for what he was about to do. The gods only knew she had plenty of reasons to hate him already.
They knew all the legends and myths surrounding who they were, what their purpose was, and some of them were actually true. The one that was not necessarily true was that he and Tanis hated each other and fought to win Kara’s affections every two thousand years. Where there was a little rivalry between them, Tanis and he both knew that the most important being was Kara, because without her the universe would cease to exist. She was the glue that held everything together. If her life force were to be extinguished for good, then yes, he and Tanis would be at war and the universe would crumble into complete chaos. Until then they shared her just fine.
The hardest piece of the prophecy was the part where Kara died by one of their hands. Each of them worked hard at not being the one who hurt her, but eventually one of them would falter and she would pay the price. Last time it was Caius who faltered. No. Falter was to mild a word for what he had done. He tripped, fell flat on his face, scraping skin and muscle from bone leaving them all raw and exposed. He had been so blind in his stupidity he was not sure there were enough “I’m sorry” or “Please forgive my stupidity” he could say to lesson the hatred he had seen in both their eyes.
Caius had no idea why the demon had receded, allowing him to come to the forward, but he would not waste the time he had been given. Carefully kneeling down next to Kara, his body aching with age, he gently rolled her over onto her back. Relief washed over him when he saw her eyes closed and her breathing even. She was unconscious. Good, because what he was about to do would hurt and he had hurt her enough.
Closing his eyes, he placed his hand over her heart and carefully probed through Kara’s essence, knowing one false move could kill her. He did not want that, never had wanted it, but in order to break her the demon had brought her to the brink of death many times. Now she was as close to an immortal as they could become and her will was once again strong. Caius knew she would fight the constraints of her bonds and the demon’s control once she woke, as would Tanis. If he did this right, he could minimize the damage the necklace could do to her. While they were hard to kill, there were a few weapons they did fear. This necklace was one of them.
After he healed what he could, he turned to the spells the demon instructed him to weave around her through the necklace so they could control her. As he thought, the spells had been weakened by Tanis bonding with her. Taking a deep breath, clearing his mind of his churning emotions, Caius carefully strengthened the spells. Tweaking them here and there so whatever the demon tried to force on her, the punishment would not be as severe and in turn leak out onto them.
Even though Aden had tried to hide the fact Kara had helped him earlier, Caius had felt it. He felt everything she did. Even if there was a great distance between them, they were never truly without the other. While knowing the other was still alive, what they were feeling at any given moment was the only solace they had, it was also a curse. For they felt every injury, every death as if it were their own. That was one of the reasons Caius began looking for a way to stop the endless cycle of life and violent death they were trapped in. He could not bear to endure feeling Kara’s life force slip away from him again. At least he knew he would follow her soon after.
His brow beading with sweat, Caius broke the connection and straighten, leaning back on his heels, his head back, eyes closed. In order to heal her and mend the spells, he had to delve deep into Kara’s soul, who she was. A sort of melding of the two of them. Where they had done this many times before, it was always disorienting when they pulled away. Once he felt more himself, he looked down at Kara. This time would be different. This time, if what the demon had promised him was true, the cycle would end and the three of them could live out their existence in peace, together.
“Kara,” he called softly.
Caius’s breath caught when Kara opened her extraordinary hazel eyes looking directly into his. There was no fear, no defiance in that look. She knew him now. Knew herself. She gazed at him as an equal, as a sister to a brother. As someone whose love knew no bounds, and even after all he had done to her, that love still filled her eyes as she gazed at him. Yet underneath that love was a flinching that he knew he had put there. A little piece of his heart died with that knowledge.
“Hey,” he said softly, smiling.
“Hey,” she answered smiling back. An emotion flicked through her eyes. Sorrow. Her smiled dimmed. “Why, Caius?” she breathed.
Guilt washed through him and he could no longer keep her gaze. There was no good reason, no excuse, that could make them understand why he had betrayed them so completely, so he did not try. Instead he pushed himself to his feet with an ease he had not felt in many centuries and walked to his throne. Just that one touch and he was already feeling the effects of having his siblings awakened. His body was growing stronger, years melting away from him as it did them. When the process was done, they would all look like they were in their mid-twenties and their power would be unstoppable. Tanis and Kara would reach their peak much faster than he would. Caius had centuries to melt away. Instead of days it would take weeks to finally reach his prime. Then…. He pushed that thought away. Now they were aware, his siblings could read his emotions, maybe even his thoughts. He did not want Kara to know the horrors the demon had waiting for her.
When he turned and sat on this throne, Kara was on her feet facing him looking down at her dress, such as it was. Shaking her head, with a sigh the white material slowly melted into a light green flowing dress. The scoop neck was still low showing cleavage, but that was all. The shoulders were held together with small broached leaving her shoulders bare. The dress was gathered just below her breasts then hung down in folds to the floor with a small train behind her. She looked up at Caius, her lips somewhere between a smile and pursed in disapproval.
“You never could stand seeing a woman dressed properly,” she grimaced.
“That is not quite true. Just not you,” he smiled.
Waving his hand in front of him, a brush of power washed over Kara and the dress shimmered then solidified. It was still the same color, the same design, but now it was layers of chiffon so sheer it barely covered what lay underneath. Kara looked down at herself knowing this was the only compromise she was going to receive. Yes, she was his equal, yes she could fight him, but at the moment she had more important matters to discuss than waste her energy on how sheer her dress was.
Kara could feel the spells along with the necklace’s magic surrounding her, constricting, binding. The years of torture were still firmly imbedded in her memory, as was the promise of more violence the demon had excluded before it had disappeared. Their souls may not be connected, but through the necklace she still belonged to the demon. Was still his…pet.
“Tanis will not be easily broken,” she said looking back at Caius.
“No, he won’t.” Caius sighed. “Although, once he realizes the lengths the entity will go, I think Tanis will concede. As stubborn and proud as he is, he loves you too much to see you suffer.”
“Can you?” she asked looking directly into his eyes. “See me suffer?”
Again he could not meet her eyes. “I had no choice,” he answered stiffly.
“We all have a choice, Caius,” she chided.
“Not anymore,” he countered so quietly Kara almost did not hear him.
When she did not respond to his comment, Caius turned back to her. The sorrow in her eyes as she watched him tore at something he thought buried long ago. Standing, he swept down the stairs to stand directly in front of her. Reaching up he gently caressed her cheek with the back of his hand, his eyes taking in every nuance of her features.
“It will all become clear soon,” he whispered his lips a breath away from hers. “Now you must finish what we have started today. Then…then we can begin.” It was then Caius felt fear flash through her. She should be afraid, he thought his own pain of what he must do creeping forward. “He will not rest until he has broken us all to his will. What he wants…,” he hesitated, his eyes closed as if in pain. He did not dare share what the demon wanted from her. Not if he wanted to be strong enough to mitigate the horror of what she would go through. Kara was not the only one with chains binding her. “Go,” he ordered turning away from her so she would not see his own fear.
“You never answered my question, Caius,” she reminded.
Caius closed his eyes, the sound of his name on her lips stirring that once lost and forgotten emotion. Compassion. “There is a price for everything, Kara. For what I want my price was high.”
“And what is it you want?”
Caius turned his head so he looked at her. “To never feel you die again. To know there is nothing or no one that can separate us again,” he whispered.
“And what was your price?” she asked her voice a whisper because something deep inside her knew she would not like the answer.
It was not the tone of his voice that sent a chill down Kara’s spine freezing her blood in her veins. It was the low guttural voice that radiated an evil so foul she did not know how Caius stood under its weight. The one that flashed red in Caius’s eyes as it said at the same time, “His soul.”
“What have you done?” Kara breathed her hand over her heart as she gasped for air.
“What I had to,” Caius said wearily. “Now go. If you stay much longer I will not be able to let you leave. Not to….” Closing his eyes tightly he turned away from her. If he wanted to finish what he started over two thousand years ago, Caius needed Tanis to finish bonding with Kara so the demon could use it against him. “Go,” he whispered his voice echoing throughout the room
Kara did not hesitate. She turned and quickly walked from the room, the guards outside taking positions around her as they escorted her to her new quarters.
Caius slowly walked over to the windows, staring down at the planet below them. Soon Aden would be down there, away from Kara. The pull on their souls would be painful, excruciating if the demon decided to leave the planet’s orbit and head to their next destination. Caius would do his best to keep in control of his body so they stayed. What was to come would be painful enough for Kara. If he had any control of their destiny, he would not add to it. He just wished there was some other way.
If you truly want the cycle to end, you must do as I say or you will lose her. Forever.
With a small shudder as the evil he had invited inside him slid through his soul, Caius closed his eyes bowing his head. He would do as he was instructed. He only hoped he could live with himself when he was done.
Copyright © 2019 Heidi Barnes