Pushing herself into a sitting position, her entire body aching, Kara stared at the door. Already she could feel the stretching of that part of her that was Aden. It was like this in the beginning, when their bond was new. Just a few feet away and there was a slight pressure that started in her chest, radiating outwards. Nothing uncomfortable, just there. The more distance between them, the more uncomfortable the pressure became, slowly encompassing her entire body until it turned into debilitating pain. After time passed, their bodies would adjust to the distance between them and they could go greater distances without paying the price of being separated. Except if the distance was great, as when Caius had put her back on Krynn and forced Aden to leave her there. The pain of the separation had almost driven Aden mad, and almost killed Kara. With Brynn, her mortal soulmate, at her side helping her, Kara had learned to live with the constant pain, as eventually did Aden. Now, just as they had a few weeks of respite it seemed they were starting over again.
Putting her elbows on her knees and her face in her hands, she tried to breathe through the growing pressure, tried to stay ahead of what she knew was to come. This was just one of the many ways for the demon to torture them. To try to break them. There was a long list of torments he could choose from, and Kara knew the bastard was far from done.
Movement of the air in front of her alerted her to a body before hands gently took ahold of her wrists to tug her hands away from her face.
“Kara,” Tanis coaxed gently, tugging once again. “Please look at me, love.”
Slowly Kara raised her head as he pulled her hands away, the movement sending an ache sliding through her body. Tanis frowned when he saw the flinching around her eyes. Through their connection, he could feel her pain and knew what was causing it. The pulling apart of a soul that had been newly healed was never pleasant. It was always the same at first, and he thanked the gods that he wasn’t the one living that curse so soon after they had come together. Once the ritual was finished, any separation would be much worse. Right on the heels of that was the thought that he had purposely caused Kara excruciating pain by ripping Aden from her. Guilt tried to overwhelm him, but another far uglier emotion reared its head, drowning the guilt out. Jealousy. Why was this boy so important to Kara, and why did she and the demon inhabiting his brother’s body believed Aden was a part of the prophecy?
“Let him go, Kara,” Tanis breathed, resting his forehead against hers. “No matter what you might think, he is not a part of this. A part of us.”
“I can’t do that,” she gasped, her eyes tightly shut with pain. “No more than I could let you or Caius go. He is too much a part of me, of us, of this.”
“He is no part of me,” Tanis growled backing away so he could look her in the eyes. “No part of any of us. There has only been you, me and Caius. Light and Dark circling around the universe’s heart, its soul. You. We are what hold the universe together, keeps it spinning, and now you are telling me this unknown force, this…boy, is a part of us? I don’t believe you. I won’t.” Somewhere in the middle of his speech, Tanis had stood and began to pace in agitation.
Closing her eyes, Kara leaned back, slowly releasing a breath to try and calm herself. Inside she was a mixture of confusion, pain and growing frustration. The pain was definitely not helping the frustration. It was actually turning it quickly into anger. Too much was different this time around, too much unknown. Caius willingly inviting a demon into his soul and being able to stay alive after she and Tanis had passed aside, why did she remember her life as a mortal so clearly? Usually by now it was mist and smoke, there but hard to grasp when she thought hard enough about it. Pushing that thought aside so she could focus on the angry immortal pacing in front of her, Kara’s anger grew. She was no longer the weak naive mortal who did not understand who she was, what she was. She was a powerful goddess who knew every nook and cranny of the universe, every creature, every secret, until now. It made her wonder what else those who held the seats of power, her family, had kept from them.
Pushing away the enormity of what or how something as monumental as Aden’s exitance was and what it might mean for the three of them and the continuing existence of the universe, Kara reached out to him, flexing her powers as she did. The moment she felt the chains that the demon had bound around her, she hissed in pain. It was as if those chains were covered in spikes coated with poison. Each nick sent burning shoots of pain throughout her body, warning her to try no further, promising her far more excruciating pain if she did. Ignoring the warning, she pushed further.
Aden was walking across the landing bay to his ship when he felt the barest of touches across his shoulders. Immediately the pressure that had been threatening to constrict his breathing and incapacitate him lessened. Taking a deep breath, he stopped so suddenly the guards who had accompanied him at Commander Wells assistance almost ran into him.
“Kara?” Aden breathed unsure. Why would she risk the emperor’s wrath by helping him? They both knew intimately what the punishment would be if caught.
“Sir?” one of the guards asked in concern, breaking into his thoughts.
All three of the men following Aden at Commander Well’s insistence knew his secret. They had been handpicked by the commander when Aden was lost in his madness after he had returned from leaving Kara on Krynn. They alone, out of all the other guards and officials under the emperor’s command, because their loyalty willingness to do whatever it took to keep their master, his lady and their secret safe from those who would use it against them understood who and what Kara really was. How important she and Aden were to the continuation of the universe, to each other. That was why they were with him now. Until he readjusted to the new binding, he would be distracted, weak. They would help keep him safe from those who would wish to exploit his weakness.
They watched quietly as Aden turned and stepped to one side so he could see the way behind him, a frown on his face.
“Sir?” The guard asked again. “Is something wrong?”
“I thought…,” Aden began. Another brush, this time along his cheek, feather light. More of the pressure lessened. Along with the ability to finally breath freely came the feeling of love and assurance that the one woman he would ever love was his for all eternity. That no one or thing would ever tear them apart again.
Just as suddenly as the presence was there it was gone, but now Aden could go down to the planet below without the distraction of being separated from part of his soul.
“I’m fine,” Aden assured with a small smile. Turning, he headed for his ship. While he knew that Kara could never be taken from him again, they were far from safe. He needed to finish his mission and return as soon as possible, then the gods help them all.
Urgent hands on her wrists brought Kara back to herself, but it was as if the urgency could not affect her. With that small brush, the connection between her and Aden was now stronger. Now she could breathe and think around the pressure that was building inside her the further Aden moved away.
Another presence just a familiar, just as important, breathed through her, soothing that ache even more. Slowly, as if waking from a sleep, Kara opened her eyes to find Tanis kneeling in front of her watching her intently. Mixed with the worry in his eyes was a fear she did not understand. The reason for the fear washed over her. He had felt her reach out and touch Aden. Felt what that brush had done between them, that their bond was just that much stronger, and the ease of it frightened him. There were rituals to preform to solidify their bonding. It should have not been so easy for Aden to wrap himself around her so tightly. His fear was that Aden would rip her from him forever, just as he tried to do to Aden.
Frowning in confusion, Kara gently reached with his hand still wrapped around her wrist and cup his cheek with her hand. When the power between them rose, as a breeze on a summer day, surrounding them, caressing their skin, their souls, mingling, Tanis’s eyes widened. Touch had always helped, but not like this. Not this strongly.
“What’s happening?” he whispered.
“I’m not sure,” Kara breathed a small smile on her lips. “But it shows that we are still one.”
The warm smile that filled Tanis’s face and eyes brought one to Kara’s. Then his eyes moved to her lips and that warmth turned into heat. The push to finish the age old ritual they had started in the throne room that bound them together as one pushed at them, urging them to finish what was started. Tanis gently pushed it back. Before they could continue they needed to talk about Aden.
“Since the beginning there have only been three of us. Now Caius has brought in an unknown element and everything is wrong. You are both convinced that Aden is a part of the prophecy, a part of us.” He cupped her cheek with his hand, his voice soft, pleading with Kara to hear him. “We will fight the demon together, as we have fought every battle to keep the universe spinning on its course. You, me, Caius, if he is still in there somewhere, but Aden is not a part of what we are. Have you ever considered that the demon brought him here to destroy us?”
The flash of anger that coursed through Tanis surprised him. Memories of the demon in Caius’s body threatening Kara and Aden with blood and pain if they did not sever their bond flashed through his mind. The absolutely surety of Kara that even if breaking their bond was possible, that she would never do as they asked. That from the moment that she looked into Aden’s eyes, the universe itself had declared that she was irrevocably his.
The way the sharing of memories and feelings had always worked between them meant that they could hide nothing, could not lie to each other unless they shielded hard. There was no shielding between them now. Kara was so raw from the abuse she had endured in this lifetime, from Tanis ripping Aden from her and the re-bonding of both of their souls to hers. From having to fight off the demon’s attempt to bond with her and the anger that coursed through her at once more being asked to do the impossible only to be punished for perceived defiance she did not have the energy or patients to shield. She believed that Aden was a part of what was to come. If the others did not want to believe that then they could rot in hell.
Eyes narrowed in thought, Tanis sat back on his heels, no longer touching Kara as he stared at her. Anger between them was nothing new. You could not have a healthy relationship without fighting, and the gods knew they had had some doozies. Yes, once one of them passed then the others followed and there was a two thousand year span between them reemerging again, a time for sleep and recharging of their energy. However, from the moment they woke to their time of rest could last eons. You could not live with another being without having disagreements that could last anywhere from a few minutes to years. Since Kara’s role in their little family was to try and keep the peace between them, the gods only knew that Caius’s and Tanis’s own stubbornness had tried Kara’s patience’s more than once. He had the physical scars to prove it. Once provoked, Kara’s temper was a thing to behold, and fear. Luckily she was hard to provoke.
One of the firsts fights Caius and Tanis had between each other had ended with Kara coming in between them, trying to stop them from killing each other only to die in their arms instead. It was an agony that neither immortal wanted to endure again. No disagreement between them was worth Kara’s life. So they swore an oath never to do anything that would physically hurt Kara again. By bringing the demon into the fold, Caius had betrayed that oath and Kara had once again paid the price. The question was, how were they to fix his mistake before it was too late?
Another push from an unseen force, this one much stronger bordering on pain brought a hiss from both of them. The ritual to bind their souls together was to be performed within hours of meeting each other, from that first kiss when their immortal consciousness was awakened. If ignored too long, the universe itself would begin to pull apart, unravel. They were the glue that kept the universe spinning, kept every living thing that had been created from the beginning of time alive, whole. While Caius had had Kara, he had never started the ritual, waiting for Tanis to emerge. In the throne room, Tanis had kissed Kara, thus the process had been begun between them. Once Tanis and Kara were finished, then it would be Caius’s turn with her. The thought of Caius touching Kara was not what bothered Tanis, it was the demon inside of him that twisted Tanis’s stomach in knots. The fact that Kara had bonded with Aden before the demon had been able to get his claws into Kara’s soul was the only saving grace of this whole mess.
Another more painful yank of his soul and Tanis was moving towards Kara, his lips finding hers. There would be time later to sift through the mess Caius had made of their existence. First he needed to finish what was started and make the woman in his arms completely and irrevocably his.
Copyright © 2019 Heidi Barnes