Voices in the dark. One filled with anger, the other terror. Both too far away to understand clearly. Pushing through the darkness, Brynn tried to find the voices. There was something familiar about the one who was afraid. A female’s voice that haunted his dreams, fleeting as a distance memory. Memories cloaked in darkness.
Brynn was no stranger to darkness. He had slipped in and out of that darkness for many years, trying to hide from the pain. Trying to forget…her. Unfortunately, the light never lets the darkness rest, and he was forced to surface and remember that he was not the only one who had lost someone vital to their existence. That he did have something to live for. His children. Now he fought every day to stay in the light. Some days it was harder than others, and some nights when the nightmares haunted his dreams damn near impossible. Like tonight….
“How much more must you suffer before you heed my wishes?”
“You ask the impossible.”
“I only ask for what is mine!”
“What is yours? What you ask for has never been yours because it belongs to Aden therefore I cannot give it to you!”
Brynn’s excitement that she was so close slipped away as he realized it was her voice that was fill with terror. Frowning, Brynn hurried closer. Who was Kara fighting with that would fill her with so much fear? Only two people came to mind and he did not want her near either one of them.
“Maybe I have been too lenient with you. Maybe I should take a page from your past, from before I found you and you begged me to save you from the bastards that abused you. Maybe I should and give you to one of my garrisons for a few hours. Remind Aden how the touch of a man, any man, fills you with hunger and lust. Then maybe he will see you for the worthless whore you are and sever your bond as I have commanded!”
Brynn froze in his tracks. What was he talking about? He could mean what those words suggested. He wouldn’t dare….
“No,” Kara breathed. “Please, my lord. I beg of you. Don’t do this! We cannot give you what you want.”
Shapes began to take form. Misty, watery, showing Kara’s face full of terror as she pleaded for mercy before drifting away. Another face, one he had never seen, old, scarred with age, twisted in fury. The more Brynn tried to see the images the quicker they drifted away, only to become suddenly crystal clear.
“It’s the ‘we’ in that sentence that displeases me,” the ancient man snarled slowly rising off his throne, his eyes narrowed on Kara with rage. “There should be no we!” He began descending the steps of the dais, one after one, his voice raising as his rage did. “There should only be Aden and then you. You do not belong to him. You belong to ME!” he roared.
The form slipped away into mist only to reform to the left of Brynn with the ancient man’s lips close to Kara’s ears, his voice a hoarse whisper. Kara stood, her body trembling, the color draining from her face, her lips quivering as tears streamed down her cheeks.
“Break the bond, or so help me gods I will carry out my threat,” he hissed.
The movement was so slight that Brynn barely saw it, but the expression on Kara’s face was enough. She would not obey this man’s command. She would not break her bond with Aden.
“Very well,” the man said coldly.
Brynn’s worst fears had come to life. That what he had learned six years ago and refused to believe was true. That Kara did love Aden. Somehow it was far worse than the horror the ancient man threatened to force on her.
Gasping for air, he tried to break the nightmare, but something outside of himself would not let him go. Something…or someone, wanted him to see. Desperately looking around the darkness for an escape, half formed images danced before his eyes. Kara’s screams, men’s laughter, taunts, moans of pleasure, the sharp sound of leather against skin, of skin against skin. The sounds told a story the eyes refused to see and the mind refused to acknowledge.
Then there was silence.
His heart racing, Brynn realized he had fallen to his knees, his hands over his ears trying to block what he was hearing. Even so, the sudden silence left his ears ringing.
Before him, a picture appeared of a strange man on hands and knees looking up with loathing at the ancient man who stood on the dais. Somehow he knew the younger one was named Tanis and the older one was Caius.
“You bastard!” Tanis snarled.
There was a collective gasp throughout the room.
“Hello, brother,” Caius, who Brynn realized must be the emperor Kara had talked about sneered.
“You are no brother of mine,” Tanis sneered back, pushing himself to his knees and swaying. “Not after what you did to her.”
Caius shrugged. “I did what I had to do to win.”
“It has never been a competition,” Tanis yelled pushing to his feet. Staggering a few steps forward he caught himself on a nearby metal post.
“Hasn’t it been?” Caius asked, his anger leaking into this voice. “We awaken. We vie for her affections and she chooses. Then the battle begins. It has always been about competition. Who is the strongest, the most willing to fight for her, to die for her.”
“Which is why we are still fighting,” Tanis hissed, wincing in pain. Gasping, he blinked his eyes, as if to clear his vision. “She loves us both.”
“Yet time and time again she chooses you because of a lie.”
“I never lied to either of you,” Tanis snapped.
“True, but you never corrected it either,” Caius countered.
“And when she chose you. Did you tell her the truth? All of it? Or did you only tell her the parts that would draw her to you?” Tanis asked taking a step towards the dais.
“Enough of this,” Caius snapped, waving a hand in dismissal. “Finish what has been started so we can finally end it.”
“I will not allow you dig your claws into her any further,” Tanis swore standing his ground.
“She is already mine,” Caius snarled, slipping forward on his throne as if he wanted to stand then thought better of it.
The scene jumped and Tanis was lying on top of Kara on the throne room floor, a smile on his face. Above them Caius breathes, “It is done.”
When Kara’s eyes opened and locked with Tanis’s, Brynn felt as if his soul was being ripped in two. Clutching his chest, he doubled over, the pain radiating throughout his body excruciating. It was the same feeling he had had six years ago when his entire world fell apart. When he felt Kara’s presence violently ripped from him, leaving him gasping on the floor in the fetal position feeling utterly empty.
The world had gone into darkness after that. An entire year passed before Brynn was able to claw his way back into the light. An entire year his children had been without either of their parents. All this time he never knew why Kara had disappeared from him so completely. Part of him feared she was dead. Now that he had the truth, Brynn was not so sure believing she was dead was not easier.
“I did not realize watching this would still affect you,” a voice said beside him. Brynn looked up to see Aden standing next to him watching the scene before them, his own pain etched on his face. “It was so long ago,” Aden whispered.
“Why are you here?” Brynn gasped still unable to catch his breath. “Why are you showing me this?”
“Because six years ago I promised I would come back and explain why Kara was taken from you,” Aden answered as he continued to stare at the frozen scene before him.
“Is that the man Chris was talking about? The one Kara was destined to be with?” Brynn asked as he staggered to his feet.
“One of them. Recently I found out it is far more complicated. According to prophecy, Tanis is one-third of what keeps the universe from spinning into chaos and ruin. Kara and the emperor, Caius, are the other two. I,” he hesitated, the anger and pain once again written plainly on his face. “I am either their salvation, or their doom.”
“What do you mean doom?” Brynn asked.
Aden explained the prophecy. When he was done, Brynn was staring at the frozen scene before him as Tanis and Kara looked into each other’s eyes as if no one else existed.
“I still don’t understand your part in this,” Brynn said after a moment of digesting what Aden had told him. “You said you are The Catalyst. What does that even mean?”
“To be honest, I’m not completely sure myself,” Aden answered wearily. He looked at Brynn’s confused expression and came up with no other answer to give him. He was so tired of all the pain, all the unreasonable demands that he was expected to meet. Of being forced away from Kara time and time again when his very soul was aching to touch her, to finish the ritual. Closing his eyes, he swayed on his feet, just the thought of what he and Kara had been long denied sweeping through his body, pulling at what little strength he had left. He was a shell of the man he used to be both physically and mentally. Kara was not much better, but then again she had Tanis to help her. Caius… Gritting his teeth as he clenched his hands, Aden shoved the rage that name conjured down where it did not cause anymore pain.
“Not even the emperor is who I thought he was,” Aden whispered, his eyes still closed. “Everything I knew was a lie.” Looking once more at the picture frozen before them. “Everything except her,” he whispered with a desperation that puzzled Brynn.
“So your emperor, Caius, is connected to Kara and this Tanis?” Brynn asked not wanting to delve any further into Aden’s feeling for his wife.
Aden nodded. “They were created at the same time and are all a part of each other. Kara is the Key. Tanis the light while Caius is the dark. Even though legends say they compete for Kara’s affections, the truth is they live in harmony together with one exception. There was a lie put into place from the very beginning that Kara knows nothing about. They have been able to keep it from her, but now that Caius has broken the one rule that was never to be broken in order to keep the balance, everything is beginning to unravel.”
“What rule? What lie?”
“The lie I don’t know. They keep it closely guarded. The rule is that when one of the three dies, the others would soon follow. Somehow, in the last reincarnation, Caius found a way to stay alive when Kara and Tanis passed away. An outside influence that was not meant to be involved. Then he waited two thousand years for them to return, gathering his strength, learning the intricacies of the prophecy, and more important, what the Gods were not telling them.
“Caius kept his searching for answers and any sign of Kara or Tanis re-emerging secret as he started to methodically gain power and take over one galaxy after another. Unfortunately, he was not careful enough. A small time smuggler had started asking too many questions. We thought we had eliminated her, but she survived a crash landing on a small backwards planet that thought her to be a goddess because of all the technology at her disposal. Once she had gained the title of Queen, Maura contacted one of her most trusted friends and called in a favor. He was to find Kara before Caius did and bring her back so Maura could use her power to take revenge on Caius.”
“Colin,” Brynn breathed.
Aden nodded. “A thief is a thief and Colin ended up betraying Maura by keeping Kara for himself, hoping to use her for his own gains. After years in his tender care, Colin decided to go back and use Kara against Maura. By then Caius heard of Colin’s pet sorcerous who could bend others to her will with the force of her mind, foresee the future, and the one special trait that Colin repeatedly used against Kara. That she could never say no to another’s touch. The time was right and there were too many similarities for Caius to ignore.
“Taking Kara from Colin was not an issue. Reaching him before he made it to his home planet was, because it was the same planet Caius knew Tanis resided. If Kara met Tanis before he had control of her, then all his careful planning, his sacrifices, would be for nothing. So he intercepted them and took her. Then he proceeded to bind her to him.”
“Bind her to him?” Brynn asked. Aside from the prophecy and who this Caius was, most of this was nothing new to him, but Kara had never said anything about being bound to Caius. As he watched Aden try to figure out a way to explain it, he could see the man was not happy about what Caius had done.
“Do you remember the necklace I put on Kara when I was here last?”
“It is a slaves’ necklace. Very powerful, very old. Whoever puts it on you owns you, body and soul. They are also the only one who can take it off.”
“But you put it on Kara. Wouldn’t that mean she is yours?”
“Caius found a way around that small obstacle. He figured out how to change its power so it only answered to him. What it does is binds Kara with spells that are threaded throughout her body. If she tries to use her powers against Caius or any of his people, her power will rebound back onto her ten times over. If Tanis or…I try to hurt any of them, she will pay the price in excruciating agony. Caius can also use the necklace’s power to punish her. Sending different levels of pain throughout her body for any length of time he wishes. Shortly after we arrived back on the ship, Caius demanded that Kara break the bond between us. An impossibility he would not accept. Because she refused she spent two weeks immersed in agony.”
Brynn did not like Aden’s tone. It was as if Kara’s pain were his fault. Narrowing his eyes, Brynn asked the question he thought he already knew the answer to. “Why so long?”
To his surprise Aden looked directly into his eyes, but they were not defiant. On the contrary, there was so much anguish in them Brynn had a hard time holding his gaze. With visible effort, Aden pulled his emotions in, his face once again a mask of control.
“I tried to help her. I would go in to her cell and give her an hour or two without pain so she could sleep. Our master found out.”
The screen once again came alive.
Aden was in a cell with Kara, holding her to him, tears coursing down his face. Kara’s eyes were closed, her hands wrapped tightly around his arms, whimpering. Suddenly she screamed with such agony Brynn cringed, stepping back, away from the ear piercing sound. In the picture Aden tried desperately to hold her as her back arched, her arms and legs tense.
“Stop! I’ll to anything you want, just…please…stop this!” Aden yelled into the room.
Kara’s screams stopped and she fell limp in his arms, gasping. He immediately pulled her to him, desperately holding her.
“You know what you must do,” a voice hissed throughout the room.
Aden’s hold on Kara tightened as he buried his face into her neck.
“I can’t. You know I can’t,” Aden agonized whispered answered.
“Then it continues,” the emotionless voice growled.
The screen went black. The only light came from a single unseen source directly above them, shinning down in a large circle. Everything outside that circle was complete and utter darkness.
“He bound my powers so I could not help her. I don’t know how long I held her as she screamed, hours, days, before he dragged me to my room and locked me in, but I still felt every second of her agony. Knowing the entire time she was being punished because I dared to help her. Because I dared to…love her,” Aden whispered the last as if was something so precious, to speak it aloud was to commit blasphemy.
Brynn stiffened. He knew Aden had feelings for his wife, but to have them voiced aloud and with such emotion. “If you love her so much, why didn’t you let her go?” he ground out.
Aden looked at Brynn once again. “Because the moment I looked into her eyes, our souls bound themselves to each other. I could no more let her go than I could cut out my own heart, or hers. Caius broke me that day. Then when he brought Tanis to the ship….”
“It felt as if your soul was being ripped from you,” Brynn finished.
Aden nodded. “Caius already had Kara under his control. Tanis was supposed to have been broken before he was brought to the ship, but he proved to be more resistant.”
More scenes flashed before Brynn of various means Caius had taken in an attempt to break Tanis. All of them causing Kara more pain.
“If he was supposed to love her as you say, then why did he allow this to go on for so long? Why didn’t he give Caius what he wanted to stop her suffering? Or try to escape?” Brynn asked, tears streaming down his face as he watched his wife writhing in agony from some unseen force while Tanis and Aden watched helpless to save her. This was the least of the horrors that flashed before him. He turned to Aden and added angrily, “Why didn’t you?”
Aden turned to him with haunted eyes. “We did try to escape, and every time we were punished even more severely than the last. But you must understand something. When Kara and Tanis became one, it was for Good. Where there is Good there must also be Evil to balance it. Caius is that Evil. Or at least the demon he invited into his soul is.
“A force far stronger than we are, and it wants Kara so he can control us all. For that to happen he needs to bond with Kara, but she kept that from happening when she reconnected our bond. Caius, the real Caius, has been too afraid to finish his part of an age old ritual because the demon may take advantage of the small window of opportunity to bond with Kara itself.”
Shaking his head, Brynn turned and walked a few steps away, his hands on his hips. “This is all too confusing,” he finally said turning back to Aden. “Your bond with Kara was broken and she reconnected it? Why?”
Aden just looked at Brynn. It was a look that left no words left between them.
“I don’t believe that once free of you, she would want to disrupt the natural order of the universe because of your feelings. I was married to her. With her every day until she was taken from me. I know Kara is an empath. That she feels what others feel, and sometimes she cannot differentiate between what she is feeling and what the one touching her is feeling. I also know she can control that part of her curse unless she is weakened down by someone who is stronger than her psychically. Like you were. No matter how you try to justify her feeling for you, according to your prophecy you were never a part of this…mess.” He said the last with a fair amount of disgust because that was exactly what it was. A colossal mess because some of the players could not abide by the rules. “And I don’t believe you are now.”
Aden’s smile was not friendly. “You are all the same. Not wanting to see the truth when it slaps you in the face because it is not what you want.” He stepped closer to Brynn, that rage that he had tamped down early rising to the surface. “I am tired of sanctimonious bastards telling me what I know is true in my heart,” he slapped his chest. “It is not my feelings that Kara is responding to, but her own. She knows the truth. That I am a part of this mess. That I am a part of her.”
“I am her husband…,” Brynn started, stepping forward.
“That does not mean you own her!” Aden yelled moving so he was close enough to that if he swung he would hit Brynn. “What you three keep forgetting is that you do not own her, therefore you cannot tell her what she should do, how she should feel. Kara is the key to everything. If anything, she owns us.”
The silence was filled with heavy breathing as both males did their best to reign in their tempers. Aden was the first to break the long silence.
“I did not come here to fight with you,” he said as calmly as he could. Stepping back, he turned to the side, knowing that looking at one of the males who would keep him from his heart would not help keep his fragile control. “I came here to warn you.”
“What do you mean?” Brynn asked his anger dimming at the possible new threat.
“First, you need to see more to understand.” Waving his hand in front of the picture, it began to move forward, faster and faster. As if Aden had hit fast forward on a movie. He continued his explanation as the pictures flew by. “We would do our best to not give the demon cause to hurt Kara, but it always seemed to find a reason to punish her for something either I or Tanis did. It was not long after that Tanis finally shattered, and now the demon controls four of the most power beings in the universe outside of the Gods themselves. With that power, it is waging a war against all the known races, and it is winning.”
The pictures slowed until they began to switch from one battle to another. Brutal bloody wars being fought at places Brynn had never seen before, races he never knew existed. Of the emperor standing with Tanis and Kara slightly behind him to one side before thousands upon thousands of soldiers, telling them of the worlds they would conquer. Of people on their knees, heads pressed to floor before them chanting something Brynn could not make out.
They stopped on a scene where Caius suddenly pointed to someone, angrily shouting. While Aden and Tanis watched anxiously, Kara stepped forward, raising her hand before her. The helpless man rose into the air screaming in agony. Her face held no emotion as she tortured the man floating before her. It was a few minutes before Caius motioned slightly with his hand and Kara flung her arm to the side. The man flew across the room, crashing into the stone wall with a sickening thud.
Brynn looked into Kara eyes, unwilling to believe the woman he knew, no matter what changes Aden claimed she had gone through, would willingly hurt someone like that. What he saw twisted his heart. Her eyes were dead. As if there was no joy left in a world. He had seen this look many years before, when Colin had beaten her down so far she had almost given up on living. He watched as Kara returned to her place next to Tanis, staring out over the crowd’s heads as if they were not there. Tanis looked at her with a small frown, yet his eyes were just as dead Kara’s. Just as empty.
“We hate going to these assemblies,” Aden said breaking into Brynn’s thoughts. Brynn looked at Aden as he watched Kara with an unreadable expression on his face. “When we return to the ship, Kara cries herself to sleep.”
“How would you know this?” Brynn asked his eyes narrowing.
“Like you once could, I can feel her pain,” Aden answered his voice and eyes far away, as if his mind was on some distant memory. He closed his eyes, his hands going to his face, rubbing it. He then shook his head as if he was trying to shake a memory away and focused back on Brynn, his expression once again empty. “The pain of having her soul ripped from me almost killed me. Not being able to finish the ritual is slowly killing us both.”
“What ritual?” Brynn asked suspiciously.
“You know which one,” Aden said, his eyes blazing with anger for a moment before returning to their emptiness.
Yes, Brynn did know. He was not sure how he knew, but deep down in that place that knew everything Aden had told him about the prophecy was true knew exactly what Aden was talking about.
“Caius and Tanis have kept us apart, or at least has never allowed us to be alone these last six years. One is too jealous, the other fearful of what would happen once we do finish it. What it would mean. All it has done is weaken us further and allowed the demon to dig it’s claws in to Kara deeper.”
“On this I can agree with them,” Brynn muttered angrily. “I have told you time and time again, Kara does not belong to you.”
Aden’s eyes flashed dangerously. “What you all seem to keep forgetting is when I was lying on the floor, shattered, utterly alone and empty, it was Kara who reached out to me. That she was the one who reestablished our connection, bound us far more tightly together than even I thought possible.”
Brynn stared at Aden, not wanting to hear his words. Kara did not love this dark man before him. She couldn’t. “You told me the prophecy spoke of a mate that she had children with, me, and the two she is bound to for eternity, which are Caius and Tanis. You have never mentioned a third.”
“That’s not quite true. There was nothing about a fourth,” Aden corrected. “As I told you early, I have been reading some of the scrolls Caius has collected over the years. Obscure writings that tell of a fourth, a catalyst that will bring about a new beginning or the universe’s doom. It is a key point in time that must happen in at a certain place and time. That time is coming and the demon inside Caius grew restless because he had yet been able to bond with Kara. We have all fought him, managed to keep one step ahead of him, until now.”
Rubbing his face with his hands, Brynn turned away from Aden. Everything he was telling him was becoming too much. Locking his fingers on the stop of his head, he knew none of this mattered to him except that Kara was suffering and there did not seem to be anything he could do to stop it. He turned to face Aden, again.
“I’ve already asked you this once. Now I need an answer. Why are you here? Why are you telling me all this?” his frustration and pain showing through his anger.
“Because Kara will be coming back to this place, but she will not be coming back to you,” Aden answered, his voice once again monotone.
Whatever the reason Kara was coming home, it did not please Aden.
“I don’t understand,” Brynn frowned.
“Seven months ago, the demon sent Tanis and I on a scouting trip. The trip would take ten days. Four days there, two days to scout then the trip home. In addition, the distance would take a toll on all of us. We cannot be apart from Kara for any length of time or we weaken and it’s physically painful for all of us. The demon said he was separating us because we needed to be reminded of our place in his world. There was nothing we had done, but we couldn’t argue with him or the punishment would be far worse. On the sixth day, Tanis collapsed and I felt a wrenching so deep it brought me to my knees. Something was happening to Kara, and whatever it was it was not good.” Aden words cut off as if he was being strangled. Abruptly he turned away from Brynn.
“What happened?” Brynn demanded. It seemed like eternity before Aden spoke again.
“When we returned and we found out what he had done, I went to Caius intent on killing him. Instead, he decided I needed to know every detail, every horror mentally and physically Kara went through when we were not there to stop it.” He waved his hand over the blackness that was before them. “As a result, I have a detailed description of what he did to her. I will not show all of it to you. I don’t want you to suffer as I have with these images, and Kara would not want you to know the horrors she suffered.”
The picture started out fuzzy then cleared to show a sparsely decorated bedroom. In the middle of the bed lay Kara sleeping peacefully. The door slid open and three men burst into the room, tearing her from her bed. They dragged her down the hall into another bedroom throwing her to her hands and knees on the floor.
“Just where you belong,” a deep masculine voice purred. “On your knees before me.”
A man so handsome he could be called beautiful walked into the room from a side door. His shoulder length black hair, tan skin, chiseled features, well-toned muscles radiated power. Brynn amended that thought. Radiated power and sex. Who he realized with a start was Caius wore an open black silk robe with matching pants. A true God in human form. Maybe that was why his voice sounded as if it echoed. As if there was another voice over laying the first. Brynn remembered what Aden and said and knew it was not a god that stood before Kara, but a demon.
Fear stabbed through Brynn as he looked over at Kara who was still on her knees but sitting up, her thin negligee doing nothing to hide her body. Brynn gasped at the difference in her. Her features were regal, her auburn hair and pale skin practically glowed, but as Brynn looked closer he could see lines etched around her eyes and mouth. Even though she hid it well, she was in a lot of pain. Brynn realized that she would not lower herself show weakness in front of Caius, even though he could see it cost her dearly. As she sat there, her expression was defiant.
“Go to hell,” Kara spat.
“Been there, done that,” the demon said nonchalantly as he walked over to pour himself a drink at a nearby table. “And believe me when I say it’s highly overrated. However, I didn’t invite you to talk about vacation destinations. I have something much more…pleasurable to discuss with you.”
Kara stiffened. “I have told you. I have no interest in lying in your bed, demon.”
“No? I beg to differ,” the demon said moving to stand in front of her. Kara refused to look up at him. Instead she looked to the side, her eyes fixed on something Brynn could not see. What he could see was the pain being replaced with fear. “You’re weak without your lovers, in constant pain.” He squatted down in front of her. “I want to only give you a few hours of peace.” Gently he cupped her cheek turning her eyes to his. As soon as they locked Kara’s body visibly relaxed. “Now, isn’t that better?” the demon whispered his eyes moving to her lips.
“That is not all you want from me,” she whispered the fear still in her voice, “and I will not freely give it to you.”
“No, I suppose not. But it is not your soul I am after today. It is your body.”
Kara tightly closed her eyes as she struggled against some unseen force. The demon put his other hand on the other side of her face holding her in place, his eyes never leaving her face, his concentration deepening.
“Get out of my head,” she gritted through her teeth.
“You cannot fight me forever, Kara. Give in to what you know you crave. Give in to me.”
“Never!” she hissed. “You may hold Caius prison, wear his image as your own, but I know who you are. What you are. I will never give you what you want, Malphas,” she growled, opening her eyes to glare at him. It was a mistake. Very briefly Caius’s eyes flashed red and another image superimposed itself over his. Hissing not unlike a cat hisses at something that frightens it, Kara broke free of the demon’s grip, falling backwards.
“How do you know my name,” he hissed. Kara refused to answer, instead glaring defiantly at Malphas, careful to not make eye contact. “Nevermind how you know,” Malphas said waving his hand in dismissal. “It will not change what will happen today. They thwarted me once. I will not allow them to do it again. Not when I am so close to victory.”
“What are you talking about?” Kara gasped pushing herself unsteadily to her feet.
“A war that has been waging long before this universe was created. A decision that has hundreds of thousands of chances to be made but had never been given. Of gods and goddesses playing with the very fabric of life as if it were some trivial toy. Of lies and deceit and callousness. I plan to end it all and bring peace from chaos one last time with the making of a single soul. With our child’s innocence.”
“Again, I have no clue what you are talking about.” Clearly Malphas had lost his mind. Then two words registered, and Kara’s eyes widen in horror. “Our child? We don’t have a child. Even if I wanted to, the body you inhabit and I could never have children. It is forbidden.”
Malphas smiled as he slowly walked forward as Kara walked backwards until she hit the wall. “My dear naïve Kara. There is much you do not know. A whole other prophecy has been played out before and must be played out again.” His eyes flashed red, telling Kara that the next words were not from the male she knew, but from some ancient being thought long banish, “And this time, I will win.”
Pinning her to the wall with his body, Caius caressed her cheek with the back of his fingers, gazing into her frighten eyes. “In the next five days, I will take you in ways you have never dreamed of. The pleasure of my love making will be…excruciating. Only when you are with child will I cease, after which I will hide you away until our child is born. You will remain hidden where the others who wish to harm us cannot touch either of you. When he is of age, when he has been properly trained and can defend himself from the Gods, we will bring him into the light and end the endless cycle of truth and lies.”
Suddenly he was savagely kissing her. Kara tried to fight him, but he was too strong. Finally he backed away, allowing her to breathe.
“Stay out of my head, demon from hell!” she gritted out once again, tightly closing her eyes as if in pain.
“We can do this the hard way or the easy way, Kara. Let me in and these next few days will be far more pleasant for you.”
“Never!” she spat.
Sighing, Malphas took a step backwards. “Have it your way.”
In a flash Kara was lying on the king size bed with her hands tied above her head.
“There have been many nights I dreamed of taking you in front of Tanis while he was helpless to stop me. Regretted not doing it more the day Selene interfered. Now you are too weak to fight me, and he is thousands of miles away unable to help you.” Allowing his robe to slide down his arms to pool on the floor, he climbed onto the bed until he was on all fours above her. “You are so beautiful,” he whispered, his eyes traveling down her body.
There was a difference in his voice. A gentleness that did not belong to the demon who had been there a moment before.
“Caius?” Kara whispered hopefully.
The eyes that moved to stare into hers will filled with regret. “I am sorry,” Caius whispered. “For everything I have done, all the pain I have caused you because of my selfish desire never to see you die in our arms again. All the pain I will cause because I am not strong enough to stop him. I was never strong enough….”
Caius’s head bowed, his back arched, teeth gritting, body tense, fighting some unseen force. With great effort, he looked back into Kara’s eyes and breathed, “I love you.”
Flinging his head back, the demon’s voice echoed around the room as it roared in rage. When he looked down at Kara, his teeth bared, his eyes were glowing red, she gasped.
“No!” Malphas hissed. “She is MINE!”
Brynn stared in horror, unable to take his eyes off the screen in front of him as Malphas spent the next five days raping Kara. Some of the things he did to her, he used on her, would haunt Brynn for the rest of his life, and Aden said he was not going to show him the worst of it. Brynn could not imagine it anything viler than what was playing before his eyes. Although the worst for Brynn was that even though she fought him with everything she had, in the end Kara was begging the demon not to stop.
When Tanis and Aden finally returned they found Kara unconscious and chained on the bed naked, bruised and bloody. Once they returned to the safety of her and Tanis’s room, Aden went to find Caius to kill him only to be brought to his knees and forced to relive everything Kara had gone through in the last five days, over and over until he lay huddled on the floor, tears streaming down his face, a broken man.
Mercifully the screen when black.
Brynn found himself on his knees again, gasping for air.
“I want you to remember Kara fought the demon for as long as she could before he finally broke through her defenses. Kara wanting the pain, wanting Malphas was a product of his feelings. She just could not differentiate her revulsion from his lust.”
“Is she,” Brynn swallowed hard, the need to vomit strong, “is she…?”
“Pregnant? Yes. Did demon bond with her? No. It seems he has decided on a new course to reach his goal.”
Brynn looked up at Aden. The way he had said yes. There had been no emotion, yet there was a strain that spoke volumes. Aden was beyond furious at what happened, at the result, but there was nothing anyone could do about it. Malphas wanted a child and that is what he got. Now he would do anything to protect it. The no was said with such relief it grated down Brynn’s spine. What right did this man have to put a claim on his wife?
“Thankfully Kara has little or no memory of what happened to her. She thinks the child belongs to Tanis. To keep her sanity in tack we have fostered this idea. If she knew the truth,” Aden swallowed hard before whispering, “she would not survive the guilt. Caius broke the rules in an attempt to end a cycle that has been in play for far longer than even we realize. Now we must deal with the consequences and try to figure out how to live with the outcome. Since the demon wants this child and is willing to do anything to assure it birth, we were able to convince it to allow Kara to finish her last trimester somewhere away from the tension in the ship and where his enemies would not find her. So Malphas is hiding her here.”
Brynn’s heart beat faster at the thought of Kara coming home. He had never thought to see her again. Worried about their children growing up without knowing their mother. Now, maybe there was a chance. She could see how big Jamie had become; see what her powers have developed into. See the bright young man Chris had grown to be.
As Brynn looked up at Aden, his smile slowly slid from this face. Aden’s expression was sad and regretful. Then Brynn remembered what he had told him. Kara was a different person. She belonged to a fate she had no control over and her past life, past loves, were a distant memory to her. The thought of having her so close but inaccessible would be torture, for both of them.
“Why here?” Brynn asked climbing to his feet. “There must be hundreds of other places he could put her that would not be so painful for all of us.”
“This is a demon we are talking about. A being that thrives on chaos, on pain. It knows no other way. Besides, can you think of no better place to put Kara so she can bear his bastard child? This was her home, a place where she felt safe from outside harm, and it is where you are. I don’t care what the prophecy says, I don’t believe she has forgotten about you or her life here. Not completely. Having you and her children around her with Tanis at her side will bring her pain knowing she was betraying someone she loves. To the demon’s way of thinking, this is the perfect place. She will be at ease being home, yet tortured because she is at home.”
Brynn turned away as he took deep breaths trying to calm himself down. Hands on his hips, he closed his eyes and tilted his head back. How as he going to explain this to everyone? People would ask questions, spread rumors, and he had no idea how to explain why his wife, who had been missing for over six years, had come back with another man and pregnant.
Brynn pushed out the images he has seen of what Malphas had forced on her. It made him sick to think she went through something that horrendous. The one question he did not know the answer too was how he should deal with Tanis. Tanis was a different than the others. Kara and Brynn had been soul mates up until he had come into the picture, and Brynn was having a hard time coming to terms with the fact Tanis resided in his place in Kara’s heart. He held an unbreakable bond with her that had lasted eons. And the connection she seemed to have with Aden. A connection that should not be there. This entire nightmare must be tearing her apart.
“Your master is truly evil,” Brynn said quietly not turning to face Aden but instead staring out into the blackness.
“You have no idea,” Aden agreed just as quietly. “This child will be made of evil, born from an evil act. I believe Malphas will hide them until the child is old enough so that he can possess the child much like he possesses Caius. Until then, they will be staying at a farm within the wards Caius had set up previously in order to protect her from those still searching for her,” he finished.
Brynn turned to him in surprise. “There was just a farm sold and renovated a few months ago not far…from…here,” his voice trailed off as he now realized how close Kara would really be. Aden nodded his head slightly.
“I will leave it up to you whether or not to contact her, but I think it will be difficult not to see her when she cannot leave the confines of this region. Then there is the pull that will be there between the two of you. That will never go away. There is one thing I want you to keep in mind. No matter what you feel, what you think she still feels for you, Kara is no longer only yours. She also belongs to Tanis, and me.”
“Yours? She was never yours, Aden,” Brynn growled coming nose to nose with him. “She was…is my wife. You took advantage of the situation she was in for your own selfish needs.”
Aden’s anger rose for a moment before it evaporated back into the numb mindless state he had been living in for months. What had happened while they were unable to protect Kara from Malphas had finally killed what little spirit had been left in Aden, and no amount of assurance from Kara that there was nothing he could have done to stop it could ease his guilt. The few times he managed to be alone with her before the others found them, he had just held her as she cried, vowing he would do his best never to be the one that made her cry again.
Being so close to her and unable to finish the ritual that would finalize their binding, unable to help her as he would like because there were two very jealous demi-gods constantly in his way had been very difficult. She was the only light in his dark world, and yes, he needed her. But what the others failed to recognize was she needed him too. For whatever reason, the heavens have deemed him a part of what is to come. The only uncertainty is whether or not Tanis and Caius or the would be a part of that future.
The prophecy laid out what their roles would be in the coming days, but this was not Brynn’s concern and Aden was taking too much time with him. Already he could feel Malphas searching for him. Malphas. That name sent chills down the spine of the strongest of them. Finding his true name had cost many lives, and Aden feared there would be many more to pay. Until then he needed to be careful. Knowing if he stayed hidden much longer the demon would start to become suspicious, he turned back to Brynn for one last thing.
“There is one thing I wanted to ask of you. The wards are still active, but that does not mean Colin will not try to break through. For some reason Jamie can tell when he is near. I want you to ask him to inform Tanis if he senses him anywhere near here. Tanis will then contact me and I will take care of the bastard once and for all.”
“He’s still alive?”
“Over the years he has had an uncanny knack of finding Kara and trying to take her. When he fails, he somehow disappears without a trace. None of us want him near Kara. If he tries to take her here, hopefully we can destroy him once and for all.”
Brynn nodded he would do as Aden asked.
Aden’s eyes grew far away, as if he was listening to something Brynn could not hear “I must go. My master impatiently awaits my return so he can bring Tanis and Kara here.” He began to fade from Brynn’s vision as did the light from above. “Remember what you have seen tonight. Tell the others what you think they need to know. Brace yourself for what you will feel when you finally realize you have lost her.”
Brynn woke with a start, the covers flying as he sat up in bed. His eyes darted around the room in the dawn light to find himself alone.
Copyright © 2019 Heidi Barnes