Broken Promises – Chapter 41

Chapter 41

You would think being the creator of all that you see, that surrounds you, saturates you with its very essence, you might know every nook and cranny. That every thought, every sound, every vibration would tell you what you wanted to know within an instant of asking questions like, where is the demon hiding? What are his plans? How did he manage to escape his realm and enter this one without even so much as a whisper? It was a foreign entity. Shouldn’t it have made some sort of noise, disruption in the harmony of this realm? Something to alert the deities that there was a disturbance in the…. Satan struggled for the right word. The one that came to mind he did not want to say. It sounded so clique, yet…oh hell. In the force. A disturbance in the force. There. He said it, the gods help his sanity. He was just happy no one was paying attention and heard him. Not that he did not like the movies. They were one of the few pleasures he still enjoyed after all these centuries. Still, he would have to figure out a different word to explain what he meant. If that were possible. It was was it was. A force of power, of personality, of life and death.

Mentally shaking his head to get back on track, Satan looked at his surroundings. He had not graced the halls of the deities of this realm for many lifetimes. This is where his character, Caius, was supposable created. Where Caius had met his brother and sister. Where the prophecy had begun, and hopefully where he would get some answers. Many Trials before, he and Godiva had decided that micromanaging every aspect of their creations was too exhausting and usually ended badly. That maybe their true creator’s teachings might have some validity to them. Plant the seed, nurture it the first few millennia until the roots take hold then stand back and give it room grow, to blossom. Watch as the leaves form, the colors shine. See what happens when the seeds drop and the new generation begins, how it is different, what new colors emerge, how it spreads, how it dies. Learn from its triumphs and its mistakes. Maybe every once in a while nudge it in a different direction, but most of all allow it to breathe.

It hadn’t been easy, and some of their nudges had been disastrous, but with each Trial they learned, and they grew, and they understood a little more. This Trial was to be the last. Finally, he and his sister understood what their creators had been trying to tell them all these centuries. Life of a mortal is precious, finite, and should be respected. That chaos is as much a part of that life as serenity is. Yet with all this knowledge he did not know how one vengeful demon they created could hide from them in a universe where he did not belong.

As Satan neared the throne room where the deities of this realm resided, he could already hear their squabbling. As one of those deities, Godiva had arrived before him to take her place as the queen. The gods and goddesses knew that something evil had gained strength in their little universe, something that did not belong. Now the blame game was in full swing as each one accused the other of bringing that evil in.

Shaking his head in disgust, deep down Satan knew once upon a time he had been just as petty, just as juvenile. Thought himself invincible, untouchable. How wrong he had been. He supposed it was all a part of the process. Now he had to try and reason with stubborn petty gods and make them understand how important it was to pool their power, find and destroy this new threat so they might have a chance of surviving. A task, from what he was hearing, seemed suddenly impossible. The knowledge that one comes across, the one where what their parents had been telling them all along suddenly makes sense, washed over Satan. It was a strange and somewhat unsettling epiphany that they had been right all along. Stopping in his tracks, his face screwed up as if he had just swallowed something vile, Satan shook himself. Ah gods! Was he becoming his parents? The horror! Before he could complete shove that unsettling thought into a box to not look at later, a sense of foreboding slithered across his skin.

It started as a low rumble, growing in intensity until the entire planet violently shook. Suddenly the air was sucked out, leaving a hollow void where there was no sound, no light, no thought, no feeling. Nothing. Just as he thought he would go mad; all sensation came rushing back in an explosion that buckled his knees. Satan grabbed onto the nearest pillar to keep from falling. Part of the ceiling collapsed near him, the ground under him heaved upward knocking him off his feet. Around him, demi-gods grabbed their heads crying out in pain, falling to the floor. Then the pain hit Satan and he screamed, his entire body tensing with agony. It was as if something were pulling him apart from the inside then slamming it all back together.

As suddenly as it started everything stopped. Satan lay gasping on the floor, dust and debris settling around him. What the hell? Then he felt it, felt her, and he knew what had happened. Fallon and Sapphira had had finished the second part of the ritual that bound their characters, Aden and Kara, together. That meant they were both open to the universe, a conduit waiting to receive power that would determine the course of the Universe for the final time. The thought chilled him. Even though they knew who they were, what they were, somehow the rules of the Trial still bound them. The prophecy would still play out. That meant he had to find Malphas sooner rather than later or he, his sister, the two sentinels, Damien and everything they had built would cease to exist, and Sapphira would belong to the demon for all eternity.

Shaking his head in confusion, he tried to flash to the planet where the others were to finish his part of that ritual, but as it had since he arrived on this planet something stopped him. It was like hitting a brick wall, slamming him back to the ground. Slowly pushing himself to his feet, Satan leaned against the wall until the hall stopped spinning. Someone was keeping him from Sapphira, leaving her open for anyone to claim her as theirs. Like the demon. That could not happen.

Pushing his bruised and battered body from the wall, Satan carefully picked his way through the mess of marble and bodies to the Great Hall where the deities were holding court. They needed to find and destroy Malphas or all was lost. The problem was, while the role he played in this Trial was important, to them Satan was a child. A piece of a chess game they had been playing for their entire existence. A mere pawn. Here, in this universe, he had no real power when it came to the council. He would have to be very careful with his actions and words or they would not listen to him. Godiva, on the other hand, was different. She was their queen, one half of the ruling couple. Hopefully her silver tongue had already begun the process. That thought was short lived as once again the bickering began.

“Lovely,” Satan muttered under his breath. “Just what I need.”

When he reached the door he stopped, accessing the mood of the crowd. Not good, apparently. They were scattered around the room. A few were still on the floor groaning, their servants, hovering over them. Some were righting their various ornate thrones while others still were already seated. There were ten in all. All beautiful, most self-absorbed. They had earned their reputations well.

“I don’t think racing out into the universe without knowing what we are up against is the smartest idea,” the one Satan knew as Marcus, the God of War argued. It was always a curiosity to Satan that someone who was supposed to desire the chaos and pain of war, he strangely did his utmost to avoid it. However, one did not question a god and not live to regret it.

“So we sit here and wait for them to find us?” Sasha asked incredulously as she gently set her ornate throne down onto the floor. The youngest among the twelve, blonde, slim and beautiful, Sasha was the Goddess of Youth.

“We are the strongest here, in the Great Hall,” a small sniveling voice reminded.

Satan cringed, his eyes involuntarily going to the slimy pocked mark man he knew as Nusair, the God of Lies and Despair. This man looked like a cross between a snake and a raptor, and not the pretty kind. This…god made Satan look like a saint. Evil oozed out in an inky black smoke that curled around him like a lover. The smell that followed him everywhere was that of rotting flesh. He was given a wide berth around his throne, which was made of slick black onyx. It was also the only throne in the room that did not have any carvings in it. It was just big and black, sucking in the light around it, attempting to shroud everyone in darkness.

“Hiding here in the halls will not help us find out who it is and how strong they are,” Marcus spat in disgust.

“They shook the halls of this temple. The shockwave was felt to the edges of the universe without diminishing in strength,” Godiva reminded. “I think we all know how powerful they are. The question is who is it and how many are there.”

Satan frowned. They do not know about the prophecy and the role Aden plays, or, it seems, about Malphas. Maybe Godiva has not had the chance to tell them.

There was only one other stronger than Godiva, and despite his obvious indifference to her in public, Satan knew he was very protective of her. Looking around the hall, his eyes fell on the deity who was his father in this universe. Zorya. The King of the Gods. Zorya’s eyes caught his and held them. In that one look Satan knew the god knew the truth, and he was beyond angry. Whether it was at the situation or at him, Satan was unsure. What he did know was if his father decided he was the problem and wanted to punish him, there was nothing he could do to stop it. Damn it! As powerful as he was, he was still the weakest one here. A choice he had made when they were creating this universe he was sorely regretting now.

Grinding his teeth in frustration, Satan made his way around the circle to where Godiva sat. By the time he reached her, everyone that was conscious was sitting on their throne. Satan took note of the ones that weren’t. The ones who would be of no use to them in fighting the demon.

“And when we do?” Nusair’s oily voice broke into Satan’s thoughts. “What then? How do we fight against someone who can shake the very foundations of the universe?”

“Caius,” Zorya called calmly. “Is there anything you need to tell us?”

Every eye turned to him, but the only one he saw was Zorya. The god knew his time was at an end, and it shocked Satan to see just how tired he was. He had been waiting for this day when the power, the responsibility, would shift to someone else’s shoulders. Wanting it. Godiva seemed, angry. Maybe even a little fearful. They had talked about their strategy before she came here. They were going to work different angles in order to bring the deities to their side. There was something wrong, though. Something out of place with his sister. It was then he realized she was the one keeping him from Sapphira.

“Son?” Zorya prompted before he could do more than narrow his eyes at Godiva in confusion.

Frowning, Satan ignored Godiva’s glare he could feel burning a hole in-between his shoulder blades and walked into the middle of the room to play his part of the dutiful son.

“What do you know about this, young one?” a tall formidable woman demanded. Girisa. Goddess of Wisdom and Truth. She was not one to trifle with. “And do not lie to us, Caius. You have broken enough covenants the past two thousand years to warrant your termination. Do not push our patience any further.”

“I would not dream to, Girisa,” Satan bowed, a smile plastered on his face. Girisa snorted, clearly not believing him. “But I can’t tell you what is happening or why.”

“Because you refuse to?” Marcus demanded sitting forward in his chair as if he planned to attack Satan.

“No, because I cannot,” Satan answered doing his best to keep his voice as neutral as possible. They may not be able to kill him as Girisa threatened to, but they could make his life very painful for a very long time if they wished. “From what I have learned in the last two thousand years, this has all happened before, but only those involved in its outcome know the details.”

Marcus and Zorya exchanged a look of understanding. Satan filed it away for further investigation. Right now, he needed to convince Godiva to release him so he could find Sapphira. She was in danger. He could feel it. If anything happened to her….

“But we are involved,” Sasha countered. “Whatever just happened affected us greatly. I feel as if my powers have weakened.”

“I too was affected by whatever happened, but my greatest concern right now is Kara. She was taken from us, and if this…power hurt me then she may be hurt too. I need to find her to make sure she is safe. If we lose her the universe will come apart at its very seams, and no one will survive. Including you.”

“And your brother, Tanis?” Godiva asked.

“He is safe,” he frowned. Godiva knew where Gideon had gone, that he was wounded, yet her question sounded sincere. As if she truly did not know the answer to her question. The feeling that something was not right with his sister once again pushed at him. Deciding to cautiously test if his intuition was correct and things were not as they seemed, he continued the lie. “I left him at the house on the planet Cennad, unharmed.”

“Isn’t that the planet Kara’s human mate lives on? The one where you hid her and your bastard child,” Girisa growled.

Satan bristled. “Yes,” he answered after a moment, his tone as stiff as his body.

“Did you really think you could hide your treachery from us?” Girisa sneered.

“This may surprise you,” Satan answered, his disgust with the beings in front of him barely contained, “but I believe a child should grow up knowing the love of its mother.”

“If you had grown up knowing the love of a mother, you would not have been what you needed to be,” Zorya reminded calmly.

“And what is that, Father? Someone who knows only pain and suffering? Someone who can’t show how much he loves a woman without hurting her?” Satan snapped.

“Don’t blame your upbringing for your poor choices,” Sasha snapped, a rare hint of anger in her voice.

“Choices? What choices? We had no choices. We still don’t. I want…need with a desire none of you can in your petty, self-absorbed minds understand to find Kara, and yet you are keeping me here against my will.” He glared at Godiva.

“Selene?” Zorya asked calmly looking at his wife.

“I do not know what he is blabbering about,” Godiva answered arrogantly, not meeting her husband’s eyes. Instead she glared at Satan. Yes, something was very wrong with his sister. “He never recovered from Kara choosing another and has blamed me for it all these eons. Like I can interfere with something that was written down before time began.”

“But we are not above interfering with prophecies, are we,” Zorya accused quietly. Everyone in the room was silent as Godiva’s eyes snapped to his. Eyes narrowed, he glared at Godiva. “I know what you have been doing. Don’t you think it is time to allow the Fates to do their work without our interference?”

“I have no idea what you are talking about,” she snapped. “The only time I intervened was when he almost killed Kara in an attempt to break Tanis, and right before….” She let that one drop, her glare returning to Satan as she sneered. “Well, we don’t have to go into what happened then, do we.”

Satan looked baffled. What in the hell was she talking about? And why did he get the feeling Zorya was not talking to his sister but someone else? Satan looked closer at Godiva, trying to see what his father saw.

“Don’t give me that look,” Godiva snapped, fidgeting in her seat. “You know what you did to Kara and then to Aden. You forced her into your bed, abused her, then forced him to relive the horror of what you did to her until you broke him. I will not allow you to torture them again for some stupid prophecy!”

“I would never force Kara into my bed!” Satan was completely dumbfounded by Godiva’s accusations. “That is one line I would never cross. You know that.”

Zorya looked from his son to his wife, his eyes narrowed in anger. “Leave us,” he ordered suddenly. Immediately everyone began to clear the room, those who were still unconscious being carried out by their servants. “Not you, my son,” Zorya said stopping Satan as he moved to follow the others. “This pertains to you as well as us.” He explained when Satan looked at him unsure. “And you, my brother,” he added, a hint of anger in his tired voice.

To Satan’s complete shock, Marcus hesitated at the door. Brother? Wracking his brain, Satan tried to remember when they had decided that Marcus would be Zorya’s brother. Nothing came to mind. In fact, there was a huge gap of time were there was a complete blank. He remembered planting the seed that would begin all creation. Sitting back, watching, waiting for the time when sentient life appeared. Then…nothing. Looking from Zorya, to Marcus then finally to Godiva, who refused to meet his eyes, Satan realized he had no memory of their creation. Of invoking the prophecy that would result in the creation of their characters, his role in this universe. It was all a complete blank. What was going on here?

“You made it abundantly clear many eons ago that this was none of my business,” Marcus snapped, not turning around.

“That was…necessary. Please, hear me out before you leave. I think I know what is going on,” Zorya bargained quietly as he stood turning his gaze to Godiva. “And so do you, Malphas.”

Satan froze. An emotion that he rarely felt washed over him. Horror. Unable to swallow it back, he asked hoarsely, “Who?”

“Someone I think you are well acquainted with, Caius,” Zorya explained as he stood and walked towards Godiva. “Fight him, my love,” he whispered his voice breathing through the room along with his power. “Fight him and come back to me.”

“But that’s impossible. He is locked away where no one can escape,” Marcus breathed, walking back into the room.

“His body is,” Zorya reminded stopping in front of Godiva, who sat in her chair, back stiff glaring at him. “But I think not his spirit.”

Godiva glowered at him. “You and your arrogance. You think you can simple banish me into the darkest pits of hell and keep me there? As I have told you many times before, she is mine!” The voice that came from Godiva’s lips was not hers. It sounded like her, yet it wasn’t.

Satan stared at his sister in shock, then fear as recognition washed over him. It was the same voice that he had been hearing in his head. The one that had been whispering for him to do things he would have never done or gave him answers to puzzles that he was unable figure out on his own. Like how to survive the last two thousand years, where to look for the scrolls, how to gain control of Sapphira. Oh gods! The nightmares. All those horrible things he had done in his dreams that had left him gasping and dripping in sweat in the middle of the night. Did they really happen?

“She has never been yours,” Zorya growled, his voice showing his anger as his power lashed out at Godiva/Malphas. The laughter that came from his sister’s mouth sent a shiver of fear down Satan’s spine.

“You cannot get rid of me that easily, brother,” Malphas sneered. “Not this time, and definitely not alone. I am too strong.”

“Maybe not alone,” Marcus said standing beside Zorya. “But, then again, he’s not alone, brother.”

“You always thought too much of yourself, Marcus,” Malphas spat. “Always interfering where you did not belong.”

“Interfering? Me?” Marcus gasped as if affronted by the mere suggestion of being interfering, his hand on his chest, a pain expression on his face. “You wound me, my brother. Or should I call you grandpa? Besides, you have no room to throw stones after what you did. If you had just cooperated instead of trying to control destiny, we would not be here today.”

“What is he talking about?” Satan rasped, the horror of what he was discovering threatening to drown him. “What is going on?”

“This is not the first time the fate of the universe has tried to come to a conclusion. We had a choice, just as you do. One that would decide how the universe would continue, but one of us had his own agenda,” Marcus explained, his eyes narrowing on Godiva, his voice filled with annoyance. “Before we were able to banish Malphas to the hell he currently lives in, he tried to thwart the Fates and in the end cursed us.”

Satan’s mind was still reeling as he tried to understand what was going on when the tension in the room shot up as Zorya placed his hands on the armrests on either side of Godiva.

“Let him go, love,” Zorya pleaded softly, leaning in so his face was mere inches from hers. “I’m tired of these games and want to rest. Let the young ones have their glory. Then maybe we will be free to have what we’ve always wanted.” He teased her lips with his.

“Do you really want to lose all of this?” she asked breathlessly. “All the power, the ability to control the universe on the off chance you may be able to love me again?”

Zorya looked into Godiva’s eyes with such fierceness that it took Satan back. As Selene, Godiva was fated to love Zorya, to only want Zorya, but he was not supposed to love her back. And Marcus was their brother? The third demi-god? As far as Satan knew, the third had been banished, which would be Malphas. Questioning everything he had known in this Trial, which he thought he had control of, that he had created, Satan’s jaw dropped as Zorya dropped another bombshell.

“Please, Godiva,” Zorya begged, brushing the back of his hand across her cheek. “Let this torture end. Let us have a chance to finally be together again. I love you.”

He knew Godiva’s true name. That meant he knew her true identity. Their true identity. And since Marcus did not react to the name change, then so did he. Staggering backwards, Satan tried to push through the chaos of questions and horror that threaten to overwhelm him and listen and watch what was going on before him.

“You say you love me, yet that does not seem to stop you from fucking every female you meet,” Godiva snapped pushing him away from her so she could stand. But Satan could see the pain in her eyes, hear the hint of regret behind her anger. Did his sister truly love this male? Was she capable of love?

“Sasha is wrong,” Zorya said sadly. “There are those of us who do not have a choice in what our lives are to be. You and I know that better than most.” He moved closer to Godiva. Reaching out he pulled her to him, wrapping his arms loosely around her. “I can already feel the change; feel the bindings Malphas put around my heart loosening. His mind is elsewhere and so is his power. If you would only let go of the hurt and pain you would feel it too.”

“How can you be so sure?” her voice low with uncertainty, and maybe a little hope.

“Because after all this time I can finally do this.” Tightening his arm around her waist, a hand tangling in her hair, Zorya pulled Godiva against his for a searing kiss.

Caius watched with fascination as Godiva answered that kiss with as much passion as was given. Apparently she did love Zorya. Then another thought crossed Satan mind. All this time, Godiva knew who Malphas was, what he wanted, and she had never told him. Had lied to him all these centuries. Why? They were so close to proving to their creators that they had learned their lesson, that they could be released from their punishment, and she goes and lies to him. To all of them.

Zorya released Godiva’s lips, resting his forehead on hers, both of their breathing ragged. “I want to be free of this curse. I want to hold you and only you in my arms again. Please, Godiva, fight him. You must find the strength release Satan. He needs to be with the others or the Malphas win, and we will descend into chaos.”

“I am trying,” she breathed her voice showing the strain she was under as she clung to Zorya.

“What is going on here?” Caius rasped stepping forward, his anger rising. The fact that Zorya had used his true name hadn’t even fazed him. At this point he didn’t think anything would surprise him. “How do you know who we are?”

Zorya looked at him, keeping his arms around Godiva. “You should know you three were not the first to fight this battle. Like your sister, or I should say your maker, Godiva had to make a choice. Back then Malphas was charming, easy going. He hid well the evil that lurked behind his smile, the power he held over us. What he did not know, or understand, was even though he may have created the characters, written out the storyline, the ending may not come out as you planned. That one thought, one word, one little action can tilt the those carefully laid plans into a completely different direction. Somehow, Godiva saw through Malphas’s façade and realized who he was. That he did not belong. When she chose me the story he so carefully crafted veered into a different direction. One he could no longer control or see the ending. He did not take it well. Long story short, when Marcus appeared, and it was clear the time had come to let go of our differences and join together as one, Malphas refused. Instead he took Godiva and ran.

“It took years, but we finally found where he had hidden her. Together the three of us banished him to a place where the gods are forgotten, but he made sure he was never forgotten. On his last breath he cursed us. If he could not have Godiva to use to achieve his goal, then we could not have her either. The rest you know. We know that Malphas is gaining in strength. He sees his prize and he will do anything to achieve it. To have Sapphira as his queen and Gideon as his pet. If he manages to ensnare them, he will use their power along with his to destroy everything that threatens to take them away.”

Tightening his grip on Godiva so she could not pull away, Zorya put his other hand out and an ancient looking scroll appeared in it. “This is the original prophecy. Take it to the others. It might help you defeat Malphas, or it might not. What we do know is you must all fight him, together, or he will win. Everything.”

Satan took the scroll from Zorya, looking at it as if it would bite him. One question that he had tried not to think too much about because there were more pressing issues at hand pushed forward. He had to ask, if only to know the answer. “And my child?” not looking at them, his eyes transfixed on the brittle parchment in his hand.

“The child was not yours, my son,” Zorya answered sadly. “Although he wanted you to believe otherwise Malphas was in possession your body when the child was conceived, so in turn the child was his and it had to be destroyed.”

Satan tightly gripped the old parchment in his hand, hearing it crackle. Not his child? And the things that he thought were nightmares of what he did to Sapphira were true?

“I will kill him,” he growled.

“If you all work together you may be able to do just that. Go, find them. There is not much time left.”

As if on cue, a mixture of pain and pleasure the likes Satan had never felt before encompassed him, sending the room into a tailspin. Right on the heels of that an unholy roar that shook the building, threatened to burst his eardrums as every molecule in his body screamed RUN dropped him to his hands and knees. Forcing himself to look up, he found Zorya and Marcus holding Godiva in-between them as she fought with everything she had to break free. When her eyes landed on Satan, the snarl that left her lips and the hatred in her red eyes shook him to his core. This was not his sister, but the demon in disguise. A demon that she claimed to know nothing about yet had full possession of her body. What. The. Hell?

“We are out of time!” Zorya bellowed. “Go! Find the others. Figure out the clues before it is to late.” he commanded.

Needing no more prompting, Satan disappeared.

Chapter 40
Chapter 42

Copyright © 2019 Heidi Barnes

Broken Promises – Chapter 25

Chapter 25

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.

Chapter 24
Chapter 26

Copyright © 2019 Heidi Barnes

Broken Promises – Chapter 24

Chapter 24

Taking deep breaths, Brynn put his elbows on his knees and pushed his hair back with both hands as he tried to get a grip on what was reality and what were dreams.

All he saw, felt, had been so real. Real enough that he had to fight to hold back the tears as the emptiness in his chest threaten to engulf him. With great effort, he clawed his way up the slippery slope that lead into the darkness. An empty void he had lived in because living had been too painful. He refused to go back there and leave his children without a parent again. But if the pain was this real, then the dream must have been real too. A vision. Right?

Was Kara really coming home?

Slowly climbing out of bed, Brynn walked to the window that faced east where Aden said Kara was would be living soon. Closing his eyes, he searched for her as he had done many times in the last six years. As before he felt nothing. The chasm opened wider, darkness reaching for him. Promising an end to the pain. Of peace. So safe. So tempting. A lie.

Placing his hands on either side of the window, Brynn gently rested his forehead on the cool glass between them, holding onto the light with everything he had. There would be no peace until Kara once more stood by his side. Maybe what he thought was a vision had only been a dream. Just his fantasies making themselves known.

“Dad?” a very concerned, very real, voice quietly called. “Are you all right?”

So this was reality. Good to know. At the same time, Brynn cringed.

His children had a very unique power. They could ride other’s dreams. Where Chris had gain control of when and where, if the emotions of the dreamer was strong enough and their connection close, like father and son, Chris could be sucked in. Brynn prayed that had not been the case this time. He could barely digest what he had seen, he could not even imagine what those images would do to their son if he had seen them.

 “A bit early for you to be up on a Saturday morning, isn’t it?” Brynn asked putting a smile on his face as he turned towards his son.

Chris watched his father try to hide the turmoil he knew was inside him as he smiled his ‘everything is not all right, but I’m going to put up a good front’ smile. To add to the ‘my heart hasn’t just been ripped out of my chest again’ illusion, he began to haphazardly pull the blankets over the bed, acting as if nothing was wrong. Chris knew better. His father thought he hid it well, but the pain of losing Chris’s mother was always just under the surface. Having seen what Aden had shown his father, it was amazing his father was not drowning in his sorrow. Chris was having a hard enough time holding it together, too.

“What does Aden gain by showing you what she has been through?” Chris asked quietly, his eyes never leaving his father. When Brynn missed the hook he was hanging his shirt on, Chris knew for certain that he had not imagined Aden’s presences in the house. His mother was coming home.

Brynn rested his hand on the hook his shirt was on and hung his head, wishing for once he could keep a secret from his son.

Swallowing hard, Chris walked further into the room. “Once I realized what was going on, I shielded Jamie from the images. She’ll know something is wrong, but she won’t know why unless you tell her.”

Brynn smiled. “Since when can you hide anything from your sister?” Taking a deep breath and releasing it slowly, he finished getting ready for the day. Movement of any kind was better than the images he could not banish from his mind.

“When does Mom arrive?” Chris asked trying to feel excited about his mother finally coming home but unable to find any emotion aside from dread. Nothing good would come of any of this.

Brynn hesitated, trying to find the right words to explain to his son that his mother might not even know him. He turned towards Chris. “Chris, you have to understand. This prophecy,” his voice was bitter when he said that word. He always believed that one was in control of their destiny. That they could choose who they were, what they would be. Now, he was not so sure. Stamping down his anger, he started over. “Aden explained that once she and the others meet, the life they knew, their feelings and memories, would disappear. As if we never existed.”

“I heard what Aden said, Dad, and even if you don’t I trust him, I do. Mom will remember us,” Chris reminded. “We are a part of her. No force in the universe can erase that bond completely. It will just take time.” He hesitated for a moment, watching his father finish his morning routine of straightening the bed and tiding up his room. His father had had enough shocks for one day, so Chris was not sure if he should continue with what he knew or not. Deciding more information was better than not enough, he took a deep breath as he sat down on the bed. “You know, this has never happened before. One of the chosen coming back to their home planet.”

“How do you know that?” Brynn asked pulling a t-shirt from a dresser drawer. Chris gave him an exasperated look. How did he know anything? That was a question not even the gods knew the answer to. “Nevermind,” Brynn smiled closing the drawer. “So, what do you think will happen?”

“No one knows. Like I said, it’s never happened before. I am anxious to meet this Tanis though. Living as long as they have, the stories he could tell.”

Brynn’s expression darkened at the mention of Tanis’s name. Prophecy or no, preordained or not, this man took Kara from him. Becoming friends was not high on his priority list. Grabbing a pair of socks from the top drawer, he closed it a bit too sharply than sat on the bed next to Chris, pulling his socks on angrily.

Frowning, Chris moved off the bed to kneel in front of his father, who looked up at him in surprise.

“No matter what happens or how this plays out, we will get through this,” Chris promised, his quiet voice fervent with his conviction. “Together.  Like we always do.”

Smiling, Brynn wrapped his hand around the back of his son’s neck and pulled him forward until their foreheads touched.

“When did you become the adult?” he joked.

“I have my moments,” Chris smiled.

Kissing his forehead, Brynn let go of Chris and sat back. Time for self-doubt later. Now he needed to gather what strength he had and tell the rest of the family that their lives were about to be turned upside down. Again.

*    *    *

“And you believe him?” Gavin asked as he reached for the butter. As the oldest, Gavin had inherited the farm and moved in with his wife Mary Jo and their two daughters, Emma and Bridgett, after Uncle Cas had passed the year before. Another void that would be forever empty.

“You didn’t see the look in his eyes,” Brynn answered quietly, staring at his plate but not seeing it or the food he had hardly touched. His mind was seeing the dead defeated look in Kara’s eyes. Her pale skin. Her screams.

“I don’t understand. If she can’t remember us, then why return her here? It doesn’t make sense,” Delia frowned.

“They were never supposed to return to their families,” Chris explained. “It would be too painful for all involved, but by inviting the demon inside Caius has changed the rules. And there is the baby…,” he added with a shrug before taking another bite of his eggs. It was an important part of the story that needed to be told. If his father wanted to ignore the elephant in the room, then he would have to point it out.

Brynn closed his eyes, groaning inwardly. He had purposely left out the part about the baby, not wanting the rest of them to know the darker side of why Kara was returning. He opened his eyes to see Delia, Gavin and Mary Jo staring wide-eyed at him.

“Chris, maybe you should…,” Brynn started, knowing he would now have to explain it to his cousins but not wanting to do it in front of the younger kids.

“I’m not a child anymore, Dad,” Chris interrupted, his voice sad as he looked at his father, who wouldn’t meet his son’s eyes. “I know what the demon forced Mom to do. I saw everything very clearly. Including the images your mind refused to see in the beginning.”

 Brynn looked at him in horror. “No!” he whispered hoarsely.

“What did you see?” Gavin asked looking from Brynn’s horror stricken face to Chris’s ill expression and back.

“I also know one of the reasons he is hiding Mom here is because of the wards,” Chris continued ignoring his uncle’s question. There were enough people living with the horrors of his mother’s life. No need to add more. “It will keep her hidden from everyone, including the gods that they answer to. If they find out there is a child, they will do everything in their power to destroy it. Because Mom thinks she’s pregnant with Tanis’s child, someone she loves, that will in turn destroy her.”

There was a stunned silence. The way Chris had put into words what the danger was was so clinical it was hard to believe he was talking about his own mother. With a glance at each other that said they were in agreement, Mary Jo and Delia started to round up the younger kids and herded them outside. Only Jamie seemed to know what Chris’s words meant. It was in her eyes. That sad knowing that even though she was powerful in her own right, knew what was happening, there was nothing she could do to stop it. So to make the grown-ups more comfortable, she allowed herself to be herded outside with the younger kids. A few minutes later Delia came back in and sat down.

“And if they do find Kara?” Gavin asked unsure if any of them wanted to know the answer?

“It’s not a matter of if, but when they find her. And it won’t matter how old the child is or how much she tries to fight them. They will take it from her,” Chris answered looking at his uncle.

“And Kara?” Delia asked, her voice a soft whisper. “What will they do to her?’

Chris looked at his aunt for a few moments, gauging how he should answer her question. Out of everyone here, only he and his father understood his mother curse and how easily it could be used against her. To be able to feel what others felt. Have those feelings intertwined with yours, enhancing or confusing your own feelings. Have your body respond to another’s touch no matter how unwanted or repulsive. Used to gain an advantage over her, or to punish her.

There were times Chris cursed his own power. Cursed the knowledge that came with it. His whole life, the people who lived in their small community considered him strange, a freak, and it was the same with his sister. Where powers, or magic as some liked to call it, was not unusual on their planet, the kind of magic they wielded was unheard of. The ability to see into other’s minds, predict what the future held. To ride other’s dreams where their deepest darkest desires were hidden. Before he was old enough to know what he was seeing, he had blurted out more than once peoples’ deepest secrets he had learned by accidentally falling into their dreams. Not a stranger to nightmares concerning his mother, he was just happy he had realized what was going on and been able to shield Jamie from the worst of what Aden had shown his father. She did not need to know the horrors their mother went through. Even if she didn’t remember her.

“Chris?” he heard his father’s concerned voice breaking through his thoughts. It took him a moment to focus on him and realize he must have been lost in his thoughts for a while. “Are you all right?” Brynn asked putting his hand on his son’s shoulder as he looked at him with concern.

“I’m sorry,” Chris smiled. A smile that did not reach his eyes. “What was the question?”

“What will happen to your mother if these Gods find her?” Brynn asked dropping his hand.

“I don’t know. Something is different and they are afraid of what it all means. What it could do to the very fabric of the universe,” he answered gravely.

They were silent for a while, each lost in their own thoughts. If it hadn’t been for their past dealings with things unnatural they would not have been able to believe anything they had just been told. But they had. There was one more chilling thought that ran through their minds. With Kara here, it would only be a matter of time before Colin and Anthony realized she was no longer with Caius where she was better protected. Then things would get very interesting.

“Anything we decide now is mute. When Kara returns,” Brynn hesitated, swallowing down the overabundance of butterflies the thought of Kara coming home brought on. Standing, his chair screeching loudly along the hardwood floor, he reached for Chris’s empty plate. “When she returns we will see what happens and go from there.”

Gavin, Delia and Chris looked from Brynn, who had turned and headed for the sink, to each other. They knew Brynn was right. It was just the waiting for that time to come would seem long and torturous.

“You know,” Gavin said also standing with his plate in his hand. It was a signal for the others to begin clearing the table. “I could use some help with the tractor, Chris.” Winking at Delia who smiled she understood what he was doing back.

“Is it the same problem we fixed last time?” Chris asked frowning. They both reached the counter at the same time, placing their dishes on the counter next to the sink. “I thought we fixed that.”

“No. So far that one is holding. Come on and I’ll show you. This is the…,” Gavin’s voice disappeared as he and Chris walked outside, the door softly clicking shut behind them.

Smiling and shaking her head in exasperation, Delia grabbed some dishes and headed for the sink as Brynn turned on the water.

Unwillingly, Brynn’s eyes strayed out the window in the direction of where the house his wife would soon be living in with another man she supposedly loved more than him. She would be within walking distance physically, but mentally she may not know who he or their children were. Would not remember how much he loved her, needed her. How not having her with him left a chasm in his chest that tried to swallow him whole.

Closing his eyes, Brynn tried to block out the pain that threaten to overwhelm him. Placing his hands on the counter his arms straight, he bowed his head. Shaking with the effort to keep his tears under control, he slowly closed his hands into fists. He would not sink into the darkness! Damn it! A gentle hand slid onto his arm. He did not look up. He couldn’t. If he did the pain would overtake him.

“Brynn?” Delia’s concerned voice whispered.

He refused to answer her, afraid his voice would break and then he would break too.

“Oh honey,” she crooned sliding her arm around his shoulder as she put her head against his. “She will remember. I don’t think anyone could forget the kind of love you two shared.”

“That’s just it,” Brynn croaked. He forced himself to look into Delia’s eyes. She blinked at the pain she saw. “Even if she does it won’t matter. You didn’t see what I saw. Felt what I felt when she looked into his eyes. She belongs to Tanis now. There is no turning back from that kind of bond.” Taking a shuddering breath, he closed his eyes and turned his head away. Opening them, he once again stared at the window. “There is more,” he whispered. “I was not the only one she was ripped from.”

“What do you…?” Delia stopped in mid-sentence when she realized what Brynn was trying to say, her eyes widening in shock. “Aden,” she finished.

Brynn nodded. “But after all the pain, after the numbing loss of having her ripped from us caused, it was Aden she chose to bind herself to again. So you see,” he turned eyes to Delia that held so much anguish mixed with anger that Delia could barely hold his stare. “There is no room left for me.”

“I can’t believe that. You forget what you two had, still have, and a mother does not forget her children,” Delia said angrily.

Brynn looked back out the window not wanting to have any reason to hope. It would hurt too much when that hope was crushed by reality.

“You’ll see,” Delia added with confidence, her voice less angry. “Once she sees you and the kids, it will all come back.”

“But will it be enough?” Brynn whispered looking back at his cousin.

All she could do was stare back, unsure of the answer herself.

Chapter 23
Chapter 25

Copyright © 2019 Heidi Barnes

Broken Promises – Chapter 22

Chapter 22

The surrounding forest fell quiet as a dark figure moved quickly through the early dawn. He had been sent to make sure the security precautions that had been set up around the small county over twenty years ago were still in place. The Emperor did not want to chance enemies from the past finding them after all the trouble he had gone through to keep his secret.

A secret that would change everything.

Aden broke through the tree line and stopped. Before him the Llassar farmhouse and barn stood silent in early morning dawn, its occupants unaware their lives were once again about to be turn upside down. The last time he was here he took something from them. Something precious. Although he was not here to return their precious gem, he did want to warn them of what was to come. He was also here to fulfill a promise he had made six years ago.

Closing his eyes, Aden concentrated for a moment, looking for one Llassar in particular. He found him in the barn loft along with the two children. Aden’s mind flashed back to the last time he had been here. The young man who was far older than his years informing his father that the love of his life was not his alone. In some ways Chris had been right. Kara belonged to the fate of the universe and the two men who helped balanced it, kept it steadily moving forward, until now. Now she also belonged to him, a gift Aden thanked the Gods for each and every day.

Aden opened his eyes and looked at the farm with a sense of profound failure. No matter how hard he tried, or how many times he promised to protect her, Caius had managed to prove that neither he or Tanis were a match for the power the demi-god possessed. Not when he also held the power of a demon inside him.

When Aden returned five days after Caius sent him to torture the sorcerous queen, Commander Wells had warned him to stay away from Kara. That the emperor was in a foul mood because he had been unable to break Tanis. Not in the way he wanted. Some…one powerful had interfered. The captain did not know who it was, but when the emperor had come from the room he was torturing Kara, he was mumbling something about impertinent, self-serving Gods needing to keep their noses out of his business. When the emperor’s captain went into the cell to take the prisoners back to their room they were already gone. Confused, he went looking for them and found them their room, asleep and untouched.

Then he told Aden how the emperor’s appearance had changed. How the aging of his face and body had reversed themselves. Aden had not believed him, knowing there was no force in the universe that could undo two thousand years of aging. It was impossible. Aden was to find how wrong he was.

When he walked into the throne room, the amount of power filling it staggered him. When he saw Caius, his youthful timeless face, the young well-toned body, the godlike aura that surrounded him, Aden could only gape. Listening with growing dread as Caius confirmed everything that Aden had read in the prophecy as truth. About his, Kara’s and Tanis’s roles in the continuation of the universe. That there was some truth in the legends passed on from generation except for one crucial part. That he and Tanis had never fought for Kara’s affection, but that the three of them live fairly harmoniously together, protecting each other from those who hunted them. How the very gods who Aden and every other sentient creature had worshiped in one way or another were involved. However, those revelations were not what had completely stunned Aden. No. It was that he had been created for the sole purpose to end the vicious cycle of life, death and rebirth they were all trapped in. He was the Key to the end.

Closing his eyes, Aden took a deep breath of cold air and let it out slowly, trying to expel his emotions with the fog that surrounded his head as the warm air from his lungs hit the cold. Now was not the time to worry about what he could not fight today. First he had to keep a promise and relive the horrors that he could not change. In order to do that he needed to lock up his emotions deep down inside, otherwise he would lose what little sanity he had left.

Keeping to the shadows, Aden silently stole through the yard. The stillness of the night telling. Those that live in the shadows knew when a predatory was amongst them, and they did not want to be found. With a wave of his hand the side door into the barn quietly swung open. Aden climbed the stairs into loft that had been converted into Brynn and his family’s home. Soundlessly, he slipped down the hall until he reached Chris’s open door. Staring down at the sleeping young man, Aden finally understood the terror in Chris’s eyes when he had felt Caius power. Even at his young age, Chris knew what Caius had become. Knew how his mother would suffer these last six years. Aden wondered if Chris knew who his mother really was. It was a question he would have to ask later. He was not here to see the twenty-one year old, and he did not have much time.

With stealth a panther would envy, Aden swept into Brynn’s room. His long duster gently swinging around his ankles, he looked down at the sleeping man for a few moments before putting his hand out over Brynn’s forehead. Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath and delved into Brynn’s dreams.

Chapter 21
Chapter 23

Copyright © 2019 Heidi Barnes

Broken Promises – Chapter 18

Chapter 18

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.

Chapter 17
Chapter 19

Copyright © 2019 Heidi Barnes

Broken Promises – Chapter 8

Chapter 8

It took every ounce of willpower Aden possessed not to seek out Kara the moment his feet hit the metal deck of the landing bay. When he had called in his approach, he received very specific orders from the emperor that he was to make sure the package was placed in the rooms he had been assigned and that he was properly taken care of by a healer. He was not to leave until he was certain Tanis would be able to walk on his own to the throne room later that day for the ceremony. It had taken forever for the healer to arrive and longer for her to assure him that Tanis would not die from his head injury or the malnutrition.

The second half of his orders was to report to the throne room once that was done. When Aden finally entered the throne room three hours later, the Emperor was standing where Aden had left Kara. A quick glance around the room proved she was not in her usual place, on the left side of the throne on a stack of pillows. Lower than her master, but close enough to touch. His stomach tightening further with fear, Aden strode up behind the emperor and bowed.

“I trust the package has arrived safely and as promised,” the emperor inquired calmly, not bothering to turn around. He had seen Aden’s glance at the dais in the reflection of the windows, felt his anxiety that Kara was not where she should be, and it infuriated him. When would the boy learn that Kara was none of his concern? That she was his to do with as he pleased. The small voice imprisoned in the back of his head screamed his objections. Caius ignored him.

“He’ll survive, if barely,” Aden answered straightening.

“Was there trouble?” Caius asked, turning just his upper body so that he could look at Aden with one eyebrow risen in surprise.

“He tried to kill one of her guards today. They almost killed him in return. The healer was able to keep him alive, but it will still be sometime before he has completely regained his wits.”

“Did you kill the guard?” Caius asked mildly, turning back to the window.

“I killed them both. I do not think the queen fully understood the power we hold. She does now.”

“Good, good,” Caius mused. Turning he slowly made his way to his dais. “Maura might have been one of the galaxies best thieves, but it was her arrogance that led to her being stranded on that little planet. I suppose she tried to coerce you into taking her with you. Using her body as a lure.” A foot was on the bottom step when he paused to look at Aden, a small smile playing around the edge of his lips. “I hear she is particularly well verse in the carnal arts. It would be a shame not to partake in one so willing when there are so few here to slake a young one such as yourself thirst.”

Their conversation had been civil, master to apprentice, but with this last question Aden had sensed the dangerous mood his master was in. A trap had been laid, and if Aden wanted to survive he needed to tread carefully. Still, he could not keep that disgust off his face at the thought of touching such a creature.

“She tried,” he scoffed. “I do not like my women power hunger or too eager.”

“No. You only crave the ones you cannot have,” Caius snarled.

The trap sprung.

Aden averted his eyes.

Sighing, Caius turned and continued up the three stairs to his dais where he turned and sat down, allowing the silence to drag to fill the room. Finally he spoke, his voice once more calm. That alone frighten Aden.

“You have only your weakness for what is not yours to blame for what was done.”

“What do you mean?” Aden breathed, his eyes locking with Caius. The tightness that had been constricting his heart since Tanis’s strange plea twisted.

“We have a celebration to ready ourselves for,” Caius answered, purposely ignoring Aden’s question. That part of him deep in his head clutched his head and moaned, dropping to his metaphorical knees. Like Aden, Caius could feel every touch, hear every thought, feel every emotion as the guards did their worst and then some to Kara. Where the part of him that sat glaring at Aden reveled in her misery, the part that tried in vain to break his bonds, to retake control, recoiled. That part would have never inflicted this kind or horror on the woman he loved.

You are weak, the demon sneered, for in many cultures that was what he was. A demon. It was not what he started out as, but for what he had become it was an apt description, and the end was near. He could taste it. Once the ritual was finished they could move forward, and he would finally have what he so deserved.

Complete domination of all those living and dead in every known and unknown universe. Then those who sought to control him, to keep him caged would learn their place. At his feet.

“Did you punish Maura for her failure?” he asked. Aden’s startled expression answered before the boy could.

“I was too concerned with the health of our prize. When I saw the condition he was in, I immediately brought him here,” Aden answered.

Liar, Caius snarled. Out loud he said, “It is to late to go back now. After the ceremony I want you to go down and make sure she never disappoints us again. Until then, go and ready yourself. The ceremony begins in a few hours.”

His face as blank as he could make it, Aden bowed, his mind racing with the implications of him being away from Kara when he knew the mood the emperor was in. “My lord,” he answered in acknowledgement of his orders, his voice empty of emotion. Turning, he started out of the room only to be stopped by Caius quiet voice once again.

“But first, I would like you to go down to the Red Guards garrison room.”

Aden stopped short, his earlier fear of what was happening to Kara twisting his stomach. There was something in Caius’s voice that turned Aden’s blood to ice. It was lower, more of a growl than usual. Sinister.

 “May I ask why?” he asked as casually as he could manage, not daring turn around to face him. Where he may be able to keep his voice empty, he could not keep his expression the same.

“You will see when you arrive.”

“As you wish,” Aden said bowing his head before leaving the room.

Caius smiled knowing how hard it would be for Aden hold his temper and not kill any of his master’s personal guard once he saw for himself his fears were true. Caius thought for a moment about warning them Aden was coming but decided that seeing for himself what will happen if he harbored the same traitorous thoughts Kara had, losing one or two men was worth having his young apprentice once again under his control and focused on the end prize.

*    *    *

Once Aden was clear of the throne room, he broke out in a run, shoving people out of his as he raced through the hallway towards the Red Guard garrison. Once again he reached out for Kara again but was only able to feel bits and pieces. It was if something was blocking him. The glimpses he did received were still a jumble of fear, pain, and pleasure, only so faint he was afraid once he did find her he would be too late.

The closer he came to the garrison the clearer the feelings became and the more his own terror grew. He was almost positive his master would not stoop to Colin’s level and give her to his men to do as they willed. The thought that he did exactly that turned the part of Aden’s heart that had been warmed by Kara cold. If Caius had given her to the garrison just after he had left the ship, it meant she would have been at the mercy of upwards to twenty-five men for at least six hours.

Oh dear Gods!

When he burst into the garrison, the smell of sex, sweat and an underlining metallic tang of blood turned Aden’s terror into rage. Eyes blazing red fire, he scanned the nearly empty room. Two men who were laughing as they walked out of a side room tucking in their shirts stopped dead when they saw Aden and the murderous look in his eyes. Three others who had been sitting in various places jumped to their feet to stand at attention. The show of respect did not help his rage because it showed that they were naked and well satisfied. Eyes narrowed, Aden’s swept the rest of the room, falling onto Kara’s dress neatly draped over a nearby chair.


“Where is she,” he snarled his eyes going back to the first two he had seen.

Their eyes darted to each other before they moved to the side clearing the way to the bedroom door they had just come through. Aden strode towards the closed door, bringing both hands up palms out as he passed between the men, sending them crashing into the walls on opposite sides of the room. If they were not already dead, he would finish the job once he had Kara safely in his arms. Anyone who had touched her would not see the next hour, consequences be damned.

Chapter 7
Chapter 9

Copyright © 2018 Heidi Barnes

Broken Promises – Chapter 6

Chapter 6


Kara stared out of the window of Caius’s immense spaceship onto the planet below, the cowl of the rich green silk cloak that covered her from neck to foot lying against her back, highlighting her deep auburn hair that reach down to her lower back. Under the cloak she wore a white dress made of sheer silk. The material was layered so there was only a glimpse of the pale skin that lay beneath. At each shoulder was a delicate silver clasp that held the dress in place, so with a click it would fall away from her body. The deep V neckline exposed a pale line of skin down to her bellybutton. Just below that a silver belt delicately engraved with vines and flowers rested low on her hips. The piece was beautiful, and if Kara had been less exhausted, less numb she would have admired it.

Caius had always lavished her with gifts like this after a conflict where the nightmares she inflicted on their enemies were particularly gruesome. It was his way of apologizing for forcing those images into her own head, because what the victim saw, so did Kara. Yet on the times she had fought him, refused to do his bidding, he used those same nightmares against her. Forcing her to relive them as if they were her own. It was as if two different people lived inside of him. One who care for her, was gentle with her, maybe even loved her in his own way. The other used her, forced her to do things for the only reason that it would hurt her, and he enjoyed her pain, was viscous in his punishments, a monster in every sense of the word.

When they first arrived on the ship, she had caught a glimpse of the man who cared for her well-being even though she was his to command, to use. That glimpse had been fleeting. Once she and Aden refused to break their bond the monster roared to life. When Aden told Caius that they could not break something magical when they did not know how it was forged, and that even if they could they would not, the monster exploded.

Kara did not know how long she spent in that small white room with no windows or doors screaming. The short coarse shift she had been given to wear lay in shreds on the cold floor, her pain so intense, unrelenting, that she had shredded the thin material to reach her skin. Praying that if she spilled enough blood the pain would bleed out with the precious fluid. She begged, pleaded, promised things she would have never conceived of doing, just to stop the pain. Nothing short of her denying Aden would suffice. The one command she could obey.

On the other side of a wall size two-way mirror that looked like a blank wall on Kara’s side, Aden was trapped in his own room, helplessly watching. With Kara’s screams echoing around him, unable to reach her, to help her in anyway, he too had promised things that had made him cringe in revulsion. Begged Caius to punish him, not her, but the emperor had refused.

There was a time when Aden thought his power rivaled Caius’s. Now he knew different. With barely a thought, without any effort, Caius bound Aden’s powers completely. Bound them then left him unable to stop the torturous pain Caius inflicted with gleeful abandonment on Kara, laughing as he watched Aden break in front of him. All because Aden dared to love her. He had asked Caius who he really was, because the man who stood before him was not the man he had grown to respect, to love as a mentor.

“I am someone more powerful then you could ever imagine. As powerful as the gods themselves,” Caius had seethed. “And you will do well to remember that Kara is mine to do whatever I wish. She will obey me. As will her mate. As will you.”

“I cannot give you what you want,” Aden cried desperate to make Caius understand that he asked the impossible. On the other side of the mirror Kara’s screams intensified. Aden tightly closed his eyes and looked away, the agony that sound caused him threatening his sanity.

“Cannot, or will not,” Caius quietly hissed, his own rage barely contained at Aden’s refusal to do as he was told. Aden could not meet Caius’s eyes, his silence an answer on its own. His voice squeezed down to a whisper in his rage, Caius repeated, “I will ask you one more time. Break your connection with Kara, or you will both wish for a death that will never come.”

“You have taken everything from us,” Aden agonized whisper filled the sudden silence. Eyes filled with defiance, he glared up at the monster before him and hissed, “You can do your worst, but we will not give you the only thing that makes our existence bearable.”

For a long moment they glared at each other. Aden on his knees, his conviction and determination etched in his expression. Caius looming over him, his rage mounting with every second Aden refused to bow down to his authority.

“So be it,” Caius hissed into the silence.

With a swish of his cloak, Caius turned and left the room, the metal door whooshing shut behind him. The moment the soft click of the door sounded Kara’s screams began once again. Closing his eyes, Aden slowly bent over until his forehead touched the cold metal floor, agony washing over him. Nothing short of total obedience would stop their torment, and that was something neither of them could give.

Then, suddenly, it stopped.

Kara felt gently arms lift her from the floor of her cell. Exhausted, her mind clinging desperately to what little sanity she had left, the only thing she remember in those next hours were flashes of light from the ceiling as she was carried back to her rooms. Of gentle hands washing the blood from her already healing body, each ragged gash tended to so it would not scar. Of her tangled hair being carefully brushed out, each tangle handled with care not to hurt her as they were pulled apart. Of being laid on a soft bed and being tucked under warm blankets. Of blessed pain free, dream free darkness.

Now, as Kara stared down at the innocent planet, she wondered what had changed. Why had the torment ended when it was obvious they had not given Caius what he wanted? It had something to do with this planet, but she had not the opportunity to ask Aden and she was too afraid to ask Caius. His anger was there, just under the surface, so she made it her life’s mission to be as invisible as possible so she would not bring his wrath down upon her again.

A calm soothing presence drew near her, enveloping her with a love so warm, so deep she felt the lingering pain of the last weeks subside. Closing her eyes, Kara allowed herself to fall into that warmth if only a moment. Then, very gently, she began to pull away.

Aden, her mind breathed into his. You take a big risk doing this out in the open. If Caius found out…. She let the thought finish itself. Opening her eyes, Kara fixed them on the planet before her as Aden came to a stop next to her, his eyes also on the offending planet.

Down there was the man who would take Kara from him. Down there was her destiny, his destruction If he had been given any wish he desired, it would be to take her as far away from here as possible.

It is a risk I am willing to take if it gives you a moment of peace, he countered. He projected a mental image of him wrapping his arms around her, pulling her back against him. So real was the image they both felt the heat of each other’s bodies. His love, his need for this woman defied logic. She was his drug he could not get enough of. He was addicted to her and he never wanted to be cured. Feeling her shiver against him, he mentally nuzzled her neck. Again this was a huge risk he was taking, because if Caius caught them he would punish them both. Aden was not sure either of them could survive another round of the last two weeks. When he thought about how long they have been trapped in their never ending cycle of torment, he shuddered.

“I will not allow him to deny us this one pleasure,” Aden vowed adamantly yet quietly as he gazed down at her. He took a step closer.

“Aden,” Kara began, but before she could turn towards him or assure him that she would not give in to Caius’s demand, that she loved him too much to lose him, she hissed in pain.

The pain in her lower back that radiated up to her lungs and outwards was so sharp it took her to her knees. Because they were wrapped around each other in their minds, the pain leaped into Aden. Gasping, he grabbed onto one of the steel girders that held the windows in place before his knees could collapse from under him. Quickly backing his mind away from hers so he could think clearly, Aden stared at her in horror before looking towards the doors, feeling his master’s murderous glare from across the room.

The black cloaked figure moved slowly across the room, his pale blue eyes gleaming from under his cowl. Raising hands twisted with arthritis, showing the blue veins just under the grey skin, he pushed his cowl back to show a face that looked every inch of his two thousand years. Shoulders hunched with age, his true height was hidden, although he did have to look up slightly as he narrowed his eyes at his young apprentice.

“Must she spend more days in agony because you refuse to heed my wishes?” Caius growled, his voice gravelly as if it had been used too much. “Have you learned nothing? Do you not care for her well being?”

Aden bristled at the last comment knowing that after those torturous hours of watching Kara writhe in pain, Caius knew exactly how he felt about her. “My lord,” Aden bowed before walking towards him. “I only asked how she faired. Nothing more. You know I would not risk her health any further.”

Caius looked from his most trusted servant to the girl on her hands and knees doing her best not to scream because she knew he would enjoy her pain. Frowning, he knew under normal circumstances he could trust Aden to do anything he asked of him. Yet when it came to this girl Aden refused one simple request.

The part of his brain that he had kept under lock and key from the moment he ordered Aden to retrieve Kara whispered, What did you expect? That they would bow down and grant you your every wish? You have taken everything from them. Their family, their freedom, their will. All they have is each other. Besides, no matter how powerful you may think you are, you cannot take what they cannot give.

Scowling at the unwanted reminder of that little known fact, Caius mentally put a muzzle on his prisoner. I do not need advice from weak love sick fools. I will have what I came for, prophecy be damned!

With a flick of Caius’s hand towards Kara, her pain subsided and she was able to breathe again. As much as he enjoyed seeing her suffer, there was no time for small pleasures. Noting how Aden made it a point not to look at Kara, or go to her side to help, Caius watched as Kara slowly climbed to her feet using the wall for support. Although Caius could tell it cost Aden a great deal to stay where he was.

No matter, Caius thought to himself. After tomorrow she will not even care if he is in the room.

The muffled humph in the back of his mind that spoke of a naivety Caius had lost long ago did nothing to cool his irritation. Well two could play that game.

“I have a job for you, my friend,” Caius announced in his gravelly voice as he walked over to where Kara stood, reaching out to gently stroke her hair. Inside his head, his prisoner slammed himself against the bars of his cage, desperately trying to escape so he could stop Caius from touching her. A few steps away, he could feel Aden’s desperate need to yank her away from him. Caius was impressed with the amount of willpower it took for Aden to stay his hand. Two men who were desperate to protect one small woman from her destiny. Fools. “I want you to go down to the planet and retrieve the package.”

“I thought the original plan was to bring Kara to him so we would know for sure he is the one we seek,” Aden frowned. Watching his master study Kara as if she was some prize possession, a pet, threaten to tear down the fragile walls he had built around his rage. Attacking the emperor would do neither of them any good. Looking away, he forcefully shoved the unhelpful emotion back into its box. Closing his eyes, fisting his hands in frustration, Aden realized that was exactly what Kara was to Caius. A prize possession, and soon he would have the matched pair. That thought had Aden gritting his teeth again. Kara was his.

“It was,” the emperor answered. “However, I have recently learned he is not as well trained as our young pet here. I will not risk losing all I have worked so hard for because of someone else’s incompetence.” He turned to Aden, who was now looking at Caius with neutral eyes. “You will go down and inform the queen since she could not break him then she leaves me no choice but to do it myself. Something that displeases me greatly.”

“And if she gives me trouble?” Aden asked.

“Dispose of her,” Caius ordered coldly.

“As you wish,” Aden bowed. With one last worried glance towards Kara, that unfortunately the emperor did not miss, Aden left the room.

Caius looked at the door pondering what he should do about Aden’s refusal to heed his wishes concerning his pet. It didn’t matter their connection would be severed this time tomorrow. What concerned him was it had occurred in the first place. Kara should not have been able to bond with anyone aside from the one who would father her children and one of two who had been connected to her through the prophecy for more lives than he cared to count. It was the way it had been since the beginning of time. What was different this time? The scrolls he had in his possession yielded nothing he did not already know, which frustrated him to no end. His gaze went to Kara who stood quietly staring out the window, doing her best not to be noticed. Maybe there was something new in the ones he had discovered just before he brought Kara home.

Home. This metal city was far away from her home or even his. It was a means to and end, and once they finished with this next step of his plan then, maybe, they could think about going home. Before that could happen, there was the small matter of the continuing disobedience he needed to attend to.

“How much more must you suffer before you heed my wishes?” Caius’s voice hissed through the room as he turned and walked towards his throne.

“You ask the impossible,” Kara answered not taking her eyes off the planet. There was something down there. Something familiar, but for the life of her she could not remember ever being here.

“I only ask for what is mine!” Caius bellowed, slapping his hand to his chest in emphasis.

Jumping at the sudden sharp anger, Kara’s eyes snapped to Caius. He had reached the three stairs to the dais where his throne sat. She had no real excuse for what she said next. Maybe it was the fact she was exhausted, or that she could feel Aden as he moved further away from the ship, like taffy being pulled thinner and thinner, threatening to snap in half. Or maybe it was whatever was drawing her attention down to the planet. Pick one. None of them explained her sudden stupidity.

“What is yours? What you ask for has never been yours because it belongs to Aden therefore I cannot give it to you,” she snapped in frustration.

Caius froze as he placed his foot on the last step. The stillness in the room, for there were the ever present elite guard watching over their emperor, was deafening. Wide eyes regarded Kara as if she had lost her mind, and maybe she had.

It was when the emperor began to move that the room began to breathe again. Eyes filled with horror, Kara watched him slowly turn and carefully place himself on the large black throne, making sure that his robes were just so. That the long sleeves hung just right as he gently placed his hands on the arms of the throne. He was moving with that controlled carefulness that spoke of a fine burning rage. One that would consume everyone in its path with white hot flame. When he finally spoke, his voice was the calm before the storm. A deceptive controlled emptiness that with one breath would break, destroying everything in its path.

“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!” his voice growing louder as his anger grew.

Kara shuddered at the thought of being raped repeatedly. Because that was what he was suggesting. It had been Colin’s favorite form of punishment. Watching as his men used her. Knowing if she did not perform to his satisfaction he would turn her over to them again the next night bound and gagged, leaving her to the mercy of the men. Knowing that once her appetites were appeased that the horror of what she had just done would eat away at her soul.

“No,” she breathed. Taking a step towards him, Kara pleaded. “Please, my lord. I beg of you. Don’t do this! We cannot give you what you want.”

“It’s the ‘we’ in that sentence that displeases me,” Caius 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!” yelling the last word to emphasize it.

“Please,” Kara whispered, her eyes locked on some far point, arms stiff at her sides, her body trembling as Caius stopped close enough to her his robes brushed her cloak.

The small voice locked away in the back of Caius’s mind broke the gag Caius had put on him and screamed his outrage. He could not do this to Kara. She was precious, she was all he had. Everything that he had done, every sacrifice, every foul act was for her, for all of them. If the bastard that stood glaring at the trembling woman forced this vile act on her it would be the one thing that would break the strong vibrant woman he loved.

Ignoring that small voice, Caius leaned down, his lips close to Kara’s ear and hissed, “Break the bond, or so help me gods I will carry out my threat.”

The movement of her head was so slight Caius barely saw it, but it was enough. She would not, or could not, obey him.

“Very well,” his voice sounding as dead as his heart was. Louder, “Captain Hiram!”

Kara jumped at the sudden loudness, her eyes snapping to the emperor, wide with terror and disbelief. Hiram had been Newell’s second in command. He had worshiped Newell, followed him blindly. Hated Aden and Kara as much if not more than Newell did. The chance to avenge his mentor’s death was a dream he thought would never come true. And now the emperor was handing her to him to do with as he wished. Hiram stopped in front of them, his red robes swishing around his ankles as he saluted his emperor and gave him a small bow.

“My emperor,” he replied sharply.

“Take her to the Red Guard’s garrison,” Caius ordered as he very slowly pulled Kara’s cloak from her shoulders uncovering her to the men’s stares, his eyes locked with hers the entire time. Draping it over his arm, he took one step back and turned to his captain. “There should be on a few who are off duty. Take care not to tear her clothing. She will need the dress when Aden returns with his package. As for her body,” he hesitated, watching the hope in Kara’s eyes spark to life as she thought maybe there would be limitations to what they could do to her. “As long as there is no permanent damage and she is able to heal adequately before tomorrow’s festivities, do with her as you will. You have until this time tomorrow.”

Kara paled.

“You promised,” she whispered. When Caius only stared at her, his expression impassive as if he did not know what she was talking about, she took a step towards him. “When you rescued me from Colin, when you brought me here, you promised you would never force me to endure his form cruelty again.”

There was a flash of compassion in Caius eyes. Just enough that Kara thought maybe the man who had made that promise was still in there, somewhere.

“You can stop this,” he said gently, reaching up to touch her cheek with the tips of his fingers. A feather light touch with eyes full of sorrow. His next words crushed that hope. “All you have to do is break the bond between you and Aden,” he smiled. That smile did not reach his eyes. Those had bled red and held a malice that Kara cowered away from.

“I can’t,” she whispered hoarsely.

“Then you leave me no choice,” his smile dimming. “Captain.” With that one word, Caius turned away from Kara and walked towards the dais, dismissing her.

“With pleasure, my lord,” Hiram smiled, the heat in his eyes turning them darker. With lightning speed, he reached out and grabbed Kara around the neck, yanking her to him. “I am going to enjoy teaching you your place, witch,” he sneered. There should be at least four men in the garrison at that moment. Four to one sounded like one hell of a party.

Chapter 5
Chapter 7

Copyright 2018 Heidi Barnes

Word Bank – Prompt #51

Here is my response to prompt #51 for Writing Outside the Lines.

Phone, green, twig, storm, past, light

Follow the light, they always say. But what if you don’t want to follow the light? What if you don’t want to have your past played out before you one last time? Trust me. It wasn’t that spectacular the first time through. God only knows I made some horrendous mistakes I was still beating myself up paying for, so why go through it with him again? Or maybe I’m heading down and I will finally answer for my sins. There’s a thought that wasn’t comforting.

Yet the better question was, how did I get here in the first place?

Last thing I remember was walking through the wood and hearing a twig snap. Then it was a whirlwind of crashing, yelling – me – more crashing then…nothing. There wasn’t even any pain. If I was at heaven’s, or hell’s, gate, shouldn’t there have been pain of some sort? One would think so.

The light grew brighter but I refused to acknowledge it. Nope. Not going to look at it, follow it, and I’m sure as hell not going into it. Unfortunately, all I could move was my eyelids. Everything else seemed to be frozen.

“Don’t more, Mr. Green,” a female voice soothed. “It will all be over soon.”

What will be over soon? Where the hell was I? Opening my eyes I tried to get them to focus but the light proved too bright.

“Here,” the woman said kindly.

Suddenly the light was dimmed and I could see my surroundings. Or at least the ceiling, which was white and filled with lights you might see in an operating room. I wouldn’t know for sure because I had never been in an operating room, only had seen them on T.V.

I tried to ask where I was, but it only came out a croak. Swallowing in an attempt to put some moisture into my cotton filled mouth I tried again. “Where am I?” I rasped.

“That would be hard to explain,” the woman answered hesitantly from my right.

Blinking and trying swallowing again, I said with as much command as I could put in my voice, “Try.”

There was a few moments of silence before she finally said, “Maybe it would be better just to show you.”

Show me what? Now I was really beginning to worry. As I listened to her move around the room, I suddenly could hear the sounds around me. Beeping and whirring of machinery. Faint voices whispering somewhere above me in a language I did not understand. The sounds of footsteps as people moved around what seemed like a very large room, and still I could not move. What was more confusing was I should have understood them. I was walking in the Olympic Mountains in Washington State. If I was in a hospital nearby they should speak the same language as I did.

Suddenly my limbs felt lighter.

“There,” the woman said cheerfully. “You can now move, Mr. Green. Please be careful though. You still haven’t quite recovered from the procedure.”

Procedure? I started to sit up quickly and realized what she meant. The world took a spin around me and I almost fell off the table I was laying on. Strong hands caught me and held me in place until it stopped.

“I’m good,” I murmured, nodding my head I had it. Those hands slowly let go, probably afraid I would still fall. Swinging my legs around so they dangled over the edge, I slowly righted myself. Taking a few moments to make sure I would stay in place, my hands on either side of me gripping the table, my head bowed, I finally decided opening my eyes would be all right. When I did, I wish I hadn’t.

There could have been armed men ready to shoot me, a volcano exploding, my guts hanging out I would not have noticed, because what was in front of me took all my attention and held it fast. Before me was a smooth white wall with huge picture window. Outside was darkness streaked with white lights. There was only one explanation and I did not want to believe it until I had more proof. Gingerly slipping off the table, I stumbled to the window until my hand rested on the cold surface, my eyes never leaving what I was not coming to realize was true.

I was on some sort of ship.

In space.

Copyright 2016 Heidi Barnes

Another Life – “Broken Promises”

Kara’s blades sliced through the air with the ease of a ballerina. If she thought about it, fighting was like a dance. Two people moving around each other in coordinated moves, their feet moving them across the floor with practice ease while they bent and dodged the others touch. Only this kind of dance you could lose a finger, or arm, or your head.

Bending herself backwards until her head almost touched the ground, Kara barely missed losing hers. Twisting to the left until she was down on one knee, her back to her opponent, she raised her two long blades, crossing them over her head, bracing herself for impact. She was not disappointed. The clang of metal slamming against metal reverberated down her swords, through her hand and continued until it reached her toes.


Why did she always get the big ones? In all her centuries of doing this, it always seemed her enemy sent the big brutes after her. Kara supposed she should be flattered that he thought her that skilled. Still, someone more her size would have been a nice change.

Pushing the sword that was slowly descending over her head up, she quickly pivoted, bringing one of her blades around with the intent of slicing the brute’s legs off at the knees. Unfortunately, not only was he massive and strong, he was agile.

Swearing as he managed to jump high enough that she missed, Kara sprang to her feet and followed him, her two swords slicing the air before her like two bees flying around each other, buzzing angrily. The male countered and moved back from her with the grace of a panther. Twisting and turning and dancing to her moves with a synchronicity that should have impressed Kara. After millions of centuries and countless lives, very little impressed Kara. She had seen too much, experienced too much, lost too much to be impressed by anything these yahoo’s could show her.

Growing tired of this dance, she flipped over her opponents head landing behind him. When he turned to counter, Kara thrust her blades into his body just below his ribcage and up into his heart. With a sharp intake of air the man suddenly stopped. His eyes wide with shock, he looked from her to the metal sticking out of his body.

“But?” he gasped. “You’re such a small female?”

Kara snorted in distain. Did he really think he would win just because he was male and she was female? That he was twice her size so assumed he was stronger more skilled? That her vibrant green eyes, long blonde hair held back with intricate braids, her lithe body tight with honed muscles that only reached five foot four inches meant she was weak and needed protecting? What a pig! When will men learn that small did not mean unable to defend one’s self?

Yanking the blades from him, Kara kicked him backwards and turned to her next battle, dismissing him from her mind. As she watched her other half finish off the two who had attacked him, she figured probably never. Tanis was only a head taller than she was and they sent three after him. The third was lying on the ground minus his head that he lost when he began describing what they would do to her before they killed her. The rest did not take well to their friend’s head bouncing on the ground like an over rip melon and the sword clanging and swearing ensued.

Deciding Tanis was fine on his own, Kara slowly wiped the blood from her blades, making sure they were completely clean before she slide them back into their scabbards that were crisscrossed across her back. Scanning the forest for any other idiots that might try and ambush them for the bounty on their heads, she turned her eyes back to the love of her existence when she heard a grunt of pain followed by a yell of denial and rage. A second body lay next to the first, the eyes wide and vacant. The third man was hacking away at Tanis as if he were some tree that refused to fall and the axe man had had enough. With grace that did actually impress Kara, Tanis twisted around the man and quickly and cleanly sliced through the back of his neck. The man hesitated, his eyes not quite sure of what had just happened right before his head slide from his shoulders. The body crumpled to the ground revealing Tanis who was gasping for air, his swords down by his side as if they were too heavy to lift.

“You could have help me a little,” he snapped glaring at Kara.

“You seemed to have had things well in hand. I didn’t want to spoil all your fun,” Kara grinned impishly.

“Please, by all means, next time spoil it,” Tanis said drily. Wiping his blades on the body before him, he started for Kara, sheathing them in the same manner as Kara had. “We better go before more show up.”

“Do you think he’s close?” Kara asked falling in beside Tanis as they headed for their horses.

Even though he knew how strong Kara was, how brave, Tanis could hear the fear in her voice. There was only one being in the entire universe that could cause that fear, in either of them. Stopping, Tanis pulled Kara in to his arms. Cupping her face, he looked into those amazing green eyes he loved so much that followed her through each reincarnation. That usually glowed with the depth of her love for him now pinched with anxiety. Rage bubbled up inside him. They had never wanted the fate that had been thrust upon them. None of them did. Not even the one who hunted them. If they had had a choice, they would have all lived in peace. Unfortunately, the universe had had different plans for them.

“I won’t allow him to harm you, Kara,” Tanis promised. “We have lived long lives before. We will do so this time. I am not ready to spend the next two thousand years without you.”

Kara rested her forehead against his chest. “I am so tired,” she whispered, the exhausting spanning not just this lifetime, but thousands of others.

Tanis wrapped his arms around her, resting his chin on her head he stared out at the wilderness around them, his own soul weary exhaustion trying to take hold of him. “So am I, my love. So am I.”

© 2015 Heidi Barnes

This is based on a story I am not sure will ever be published. When I began writing I did fan-fiction. I took some of my favorite shows and characters and weaved them together into a sci-fiction story that ended up being over 700 handwritten pages long. In this story anything and everything could happen. Unfortunately I don’t have most of it because it was written in pencil and the pencil over time faded so I could not read it. So into the recycling can it went. 😦 On the upside, I did have some of the first chapters/books typed out. I have since changed it up a bit, rewritten some of what I remember, changed the names and description of characters, and still write on it occasionally. Trying to find that right combination that will not infringe on any copy write and make it my own. So far it hasn’t given me that feeling of being ready to publish. Like I said it may never be published.

So why this excerpt? It came to me this morning. This fight scene, and it seemed to take place long before my story “Broken Promises” takes place. So I thought I’d write it down and see what you think. It also gives me a little insight to what one of Kara and Tanis’s past lives might have been like.

I hope you enjoy. 🙂