There are advantages and disadvantages of living as long as time itself. You are able to watch as each planet it’s born, as it grows, matures, dies. Watch as the creatures on those select few who contain life evolve, as civilizations rise and fall only to pick themselves up to rise again a little stronger, and maybe a little wiser. Or turn into ash and dust. No one left to wonder what happened, no one left to mourn. Some of it still left wonder in his heart. A joy of life and love and the way the universe kept spinning on and on, no matter what the heavens threw at it. Others grew tiresome. The same mistakes being made over and over, never learning what it meant to just be.
What never grew old was watching the love of his existence enjoy each and every moment of her life. At least the quiet times. There had been very little to enjoy in this lifetime. Until now.
Tanis leaned his shoulder against the post of the wrap around deck, his arms crossed, he watched Kara walk around the backyard tending the flower beds humming to herself. He wished this peace could last. Unfortunately, it was only a respite from the hell they had been living these last six years. Not that there hadn’t been hard lives before. Nothing was ever sunshine and smiles all the time. If there weren’t hardships then one would never learn how to survive, how to overcome obstacles and move on. This time, though…. As he looked down at the newly stained stairs, a weariness that was bone dee[ washed over him. This time there had been no relief from the horrors and pain of being owned by a demon brought. Even in this seemingly pristine, beautiful, peaceful place Kara used to call home there really was no relief, because not more than a mile away was her mortal family, and every moment of every day they called to her. Begging her to come home. Not consciously of course. Tanis knew deep in his heart that they would never hurt her that way. But subconsciously, at that molecular level that bound a family together, the call was still there. What Tanis feared was she would answer that call and never return to him. Unfortunately, her mortal family were not the only ones calling to her.
Tanis knew the boy had been there for Kara when she had no one. Knew from Kara that the binding of their souls the first time was so unexpected, so quick, that neither of them had time to realize what was happening until it was done. Six years, and three of those were spent far apart from each other. The pain must have been excruciating. Even though he knew their separation now was causing her pain, pain he was moderating as best he could, he did not want Aden here, reminding her that there was someone else in her life. Someone she loved just as much as she loved Tanis.
It was the one thing he and Caius, or the demon, were in agreement on. Aden must not be allowed to finish the ritual with Kara. The power those two radiated just standing next to each other without it was staggering. If they finished it….
Closing his eyes, Tanis took a deep breath and released it slowly. Opening them, they followed Kara once more. He knew power was only a small part of the reason they kept them apart. Even though Tanis had somewhat relaxed around her and Aden, allowed Aden to comfort her when he could not, understood that Aden was not trying to take her from him, Tanis was still jealous. He knew it was not a good emotion, but he could not help it. Especially after they had come home and found her tied Malphas’s bed, barely conscious, realizing what Malphas had done to her while they were away unable to help her. Especially when only Aden had….
Kara stood up, the roundness of her bulging belly making Tanis cringe. Reminding him that neither of them had been there when she needed them most. Images and the pain of that week still haunted his dreams. He did his best to hide it from her, but she knew him to well. And there was their link. The one that made it almost impossible to keep secrets from each other. Especially when emotions ran high. He was amazed by how well she was coping. With help from Aden, which Tanis still was unhappy about, she had been able to push the horror aside and concentrate on the child inside her instead. Tanis offered to terminate the pregnancy, but Kara had adamantly refused. She told him the baby was an innocent and she would not harm another innocent. Tanis did not bring it up again because he knew how she felt. He was tired of the torturing and killing too. During this time away, he hoped they could gain enough strength to finally break free of Malphas.
Preferably without Aden.
Although there was another worry. Something Tanis had mixed feelings about. It was only a matter of time before the Elders found them and forced the issue of destroying the abomination she carried. While he would be happy that the thing was gone, his fear was what Kara would do when that time came. Knowing her, she would fight to keep her child with everything she had. Since their existence was built around rebirth, Tanis had no doubts the Elders would not think twice of killing her to get to the child. After all, they would only be reborn two thousand years later to start the cycle all over again. The last thing Tanis wanted was to watch her die in his arms again.
It was that thought that confused him the most when it came to what Caius had done. Deep down, that selfish part of Tanis understood, even secretly prayed that whatever deal Caius had made with Malphas to keep the pain of watching Kara die from happening again would work. It was the cost that concerned him. An entire universe of innocent and not so innocent beings for their happiness. The price seemed far too high.
“You worry about things that are out of our control,” Kara frowned as she walked up to the front porch, stopping at the edge of the bottom stair to gaze up at him.
The post that Tanis was leaning against was at the top of a set of four stairs that held up the roof to a wraparound porch of the large house they currently resided in. Being no stranger to other cultures, he could admire the architecture of the two story farmhouse. It was always amazing how some planets could be so different, while others were almost identical. Take for instance the planet they were on now, Krynn, was very similar to the planet Kara had been born and raised on she called Earth. The way they lived, the buildings, the way people dressed, what they ate, the air they breathed, their speech. Yet there were certain things that were very different. Such as what they used for fuel, electricity. The deities they worshiped, some of the cultures and how they interacted. In some ways, Krynn was ahead of Earth when it came to living in harmony with each other. Tanis still had not figured out exactly how they attained their level of technology that worked in harmony with the land, not against it. Frowning, he figured he had plenty of time to figure it out.
The big difference between the two planets was that most of the creatures on Earth refused to see the magic in their world, while those of Krynn embraced it. Then again, neither planet had the metal or technology that this house now held.
In order to keep Kara and his child as safe as possible, Malpas had made sure the ordinary wooden farmhouse was re-enforced with the same metal that the starship had been made of. This way, if unseen forces that had their technology tried to break into the house they would have a harder time of it. He had also put in food replicators, lights that could be turned on and off with voice, and door and window coverings that would slam shut at a touch of a button, making the house a fortress. All the precautions made Tanis nervous. With their powers bound, there was very little they could do to protect themselves if someone decided to come for them. Supposable there were wards surrounding a large area to keep undesirables out, like Colin and his son. So aside from the elders, who else posed a danger to them? Hopefully it was all for nothing and they could live here in peace for a long while.
Soft fingers brushed his cheek, bringing him out of his thoughts. Startling, he turned to see Kara had moved up the stairs to stand next to him, her eyebrows scrunching with her frown. “What has you so worried you cannot keep in the here and now?”
“Nothing. Everything,” Tanis sighed. Turning so his back now rested on the post, he pulled Kara against him, reveling in the feel of her warmth in his arms. “The Elders will eventually find out about the child and they will come. I am afraid of what they will do to restore the balance.”
“I will not allow them to destroy this child,” Kara vowed pulling from his arms so she could look Tanis in the eyes. The determination in hers frightened him.
“I know, and that is what frightens me most,” Tanis responded gently, reaching out to take her hand in his. Looking down at them, one holding hers while the other traced back and forth across the back of hers. After a moment, he looked back into her eyes. “I will not lose you because of a child that is not ours. Kara, please,” he interrupted when her mouth opened and she took a breath to argue. “Hear me out.” Clamping her mouth shut in a straight unhappy line, she stayed quiet. Looking back down at their hands, Tanis took a moment to collect his thoughts. “I know all life is precious, even those of the demon realm. Each creature serves a purpose to keep the checks and balances in place.” He looked back up at her. “Have you considered that Malphas is not even from this universe. That he, somehow, broke through some barrier we did not even know existed between not realms, but realities?”
Kara’s frown returned, her eyes going distant as she thought over his words. “I have seen a room with the walls lined with shelves filled with glass orbs, all swirling with different colors.” She looked at Tanis, her confusion clearly written on her face. “I know this room, but I don’t know how I know it. All I know is there is something wrong within it, I just can’t see what.” She focused back on Tanis. “I feel as if we have been here before. Not on this world, or even in this reality, but some place…similar. It’s hard to explain.”
“Who is ‘we’?” Tanis frowned.
“You, Caius, Aden,” she hesitated, trying to remember what else she had seen in her dreams. Shaking her head in frustration, she closed her eyes, putting her hand to her forehead. “I can’t remember. All I know is the four of us have been together before.” She looked at Tanis, her eyes imploring him to finally believe her. “It’s always been the four of us,” she whispered.
His brow furrowed; Tanis fought to keep his temper. Kara’s insistence that Aden belonged with them, that he was a part of the balance of the universe was wearing. Yet, at the same time he knew she would not keep pushing the subject unless she absolutely believed what she said was true. Sighing, he reached out and gently pulled her back into his arms.
“I don’t want to fight, Kara. The day is beautiful, and I want to enjoy this peace while we have it,” he said kissing her hair.
Wrapping her arms around him, Kara relaxed into his embrace. “I don’t want to fight either,” she sighed. They stood like that, each enjoying the others nearness without the constant threat of Malphas coming upon them with some new horror.
Something in Kara’s mood shifted slightly. Another worry. No. More of a longing that had tormented her since they arrived on this planet. With mixed feelings, Tanis knew what it was that called to her. Although he had loved his wife from his home world, their relationship had been much shorter than Kara’s and Brynn’s, and much less traumatic. The horrors Kara faced before they had been reunited cemented a much stronger bond between them then Tanis was comfortable with. He knew his jealousy was unfounded because he knew in this instance Brynn was a part of the equation, but Brynn’s role was completed and now Kara was his. Tanis had no doubt this was why they were here and not on his own home planet. That constant anxiety of a choice that should never have to be made. Malphas seemed to relish it more when Kara was the one who suffered.
“What are you thinking?” he murmured even though he could easily read her thoughts.
Kara sighed, “I was wondering why Chris has not come to see me.”
“Maybe…Brynn,” he had a hard time saying his name without growling, “will not allow him. It has been six years. He may not even remember you.”
“He remembers,” Kara whispered. “He’s afraid it will hurt me. Hurt Brynn. Brynn was in a very dark place for a long time. Chris is afraid if he comes to see me it will put his father back there.” Kara hesitated for a moment; her eyebrows knitted together in a deep frown. She could feel the edge Brynn was balancing precariously on. Feel that, because she was there, it would take only one small push to send him over.
“Maybe you should go to them” Tanis suggest lightly, while at the same time the thought of her with them and the possible consequences worried him.
Kara could feel he was torn. Feel that he was afraid if she went to her mortal family that she may not come back.
“You may find that it isn’t as bad as you think. In fact, Chris is out in the field right now,” he finished.
Kara stepped back to look at Tanis. There was a small smile on his lips, but it did not reach his eyes. There was anxiety and a little fear in them. Kara cupped his face with her hands, looking into his eyes as she spoke.
“I love you,” she said putting as much emotion as she could into her words so he would believe her. “Nothing will ever change that.”
Tanis sighed, resting his forehead on hers. He knew she told him the truth, felt it from her, but it did not erase the uneasiness that once she saw Brynn again, she might decide the love she had for the father of her children was stronger.
“We’ve never gone back before Kara. We don’t know what will happen. On one hand, I want you to see your children. I can feel your need to do so. On the other….”
“You are afraid of what will happen when I see my husband,” Kara answered quietly. She felt Tanis stiffen at her use of the word husband. Kara knew if the roles were reversed she would feel the same way. Unsure, frighten, jealous. “I will not go if you do not want me to,” Kara assured him. “I will not do anything to cause you pain.”
“Everything is so different this time. So many rules have been broken. Too many people are involved. I fear it will come to no good.” He looked Kara in the eyes as he held her face gently in his hands. “This time I fear I will lose you forever,” his voice soft and full of anguish.
“I’m not going anywhere without you,” Kara swore tears escaping down her cheeks.
Tanis touched his forehead to hers. He knew she meant what she said, but like so many other times their life was not their own, and if the Gods found them and sought to destroy the child, he was afraid he would lose Kara in the process.
A feather light touch flitted across his mind. Knowing who it was he looked towards the field beyond the trees.
“Your son is waiting for you.”
“I know,” Kara sighed moving so her arms wrapped around him again. Tanis encircled his arms around her, holding her tightly to him for a moment before backing away.
“Go see him,” he urged brushing an errant lock of hair behind her ear.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes,” he smiled. “He’s curious. He wants to know if what he has seen in his mind is the same with his eyes.” Tanis frowned as his eyes went back to the field. “He has seen much, I’m afraid.”
Kara shivered. This was one of the reasons she hesitated in meeting with Chris. Even though it was not Aden’s intention, Chris had seen everything he had shown Brynn. Would Chris understand, or would he think her weak and hate her?
“I don’t think so,” Tanis answered her thoughts. “He is wise beyond his years. He understands the war we have been waging and the causalities of that war. He doesn’t judge us. Go. Besides, I need to check in with our master,” he said the last word with disgust. “If you are not here then he cannot demand to see you.”
“I don’t know why he has us bother,” Kara spat. “He knows we can’t leave here. I can’t leave here,” she whispered the last.
For a moment she was lost in her memories of what seemed like another lifetime. Her life before she was reunited with Tanis. One she would not dare return to. “There are others out there who are just as dangerous, just as deadly, and who would stop at nothing to find me. Who know how to control me. I don’t wish to fall into their hands again.” Her anger had melted to fear as she spoke. “Especially when Malphas has bound me so tightly. I dare not defend myself for fear what it will do to the child.”
“Malphas does not want you in Colin’s hands any more than I do,” Tanis reminded.
Kara gave an involuntary shudder. “I’m not as sure of that as you are. There is so much hate, so much malice within him. His only goal is to punish those who have wronged him, and we are his tools. It was Malphas’s idea we come here. Caius wanted to keep me with him where he could protect me.”
“How do you know this?”
“I could see it in his eyes when we left him,” Kara answered softly. The pain in Caius’s eyes as the demon held him in place, forcing him to watch her being taken from him was something Kara would not soon forget. “Just for a moment, the demon allowed Caius to peek through. As if to torment him with the knowledge that I was being taken from him.”
“He chose to invite that bastard into himself. He brought this on all of us,” Tanis reminded angrily.
“Did he?” Kara asked looking up at him with a frown. “I think this game we are forced to play goes back much longer than you or I. Remember, it is Malphas who found Caius, not the other way around. There is something else behind the demon’s cruelty. Some unspoken vengeance.” She looked out at the view before them, towards where she knew her son was waiting for her.
Tanis watched the emotions play across Kara’s face. Frowning, he decided maybe it was time to stop being angry with Caius and find out exactly what was going on. The trick was to make sure the demon did not realize what he was doing. The last thing Tanis wanted to do was leave Kara defenseless because he pried too deeply into the forbidden.
“No more talk of demons or sadness. Go reunite with your son. He grows troubled because you don’t come.”
Tanis gave Kara a gently lingering kiss before disappearing into the house.
Kara stared at the empty doorway for a moment before turning and slowly walking down the stairs. She did want to see her son, but, like Tanis, she feared what the consequences might be in doing so. Taking a deep breath, she decided there was not much else she could do to make matters any worse. Optimism is not always your friend.
Copyright © 2019 Heidi Barnes