They were both safe; I had just seen them out the gates. If they did what I had told them they would be fine and they would find a way to fight him back, maybe destroy him for good.
I felt relieved, for only a moment. The sudden cold that fell over me was overwhelming and felt like it had just turned my bones to ice. I could not move. Where I found the strength to turn, I do not know to this day. But he was there, towering over me and glaring down at me. And in his eyes I saw I was doomed, as I had always known I was. But I thought I knew my end; how wrong I was, how presumptuous. And so far from the crude and terrible truth: death would have been a bliss compared to this. I could never imagine more painful a punishment. And one I chose; but then did I ever have a choice? Yes, in a way… I chose to value their lives more than mine and more than a few of my next existences. For this punishment, one that happened in only one life will mark my future reincarnations. My soul will have to recover and it might well take millennia.
For to let hope live, I decided to let evil survive and prosper in one of these lives. And now, my time is over and I have to tell this tale so that people know.
I can still remember his charcoal burning eyes piercing me, telling me I was about to regret what I had done: that my imprisonment would be worse than before. But he said nothing: at first. When his soldiers reached the gates so as to follow the two escapers he stopped them raising one finger. Yet there was no relief to be found in that gesture. His magic may not be as strong as our three powers together but he also knew that mine would soon falter, still being enclosed in the fortress of his might. In fact, it had already tainted my magic for I had been jailed for a long time already and I could reveal them to him without wanting to. I was about to release the bound and avoid what I felt would be a catastrophe when he spoke.
“You have marked them anyway; I have known the touch of your magic for months now. They will carry it with them because of that link. Release the bond, stay here and I let them go… for now.”
“As if this was a real choice.”
“Well actually it is. I can find your little friends through the touch of your power, even when the bond is cut.”
Was it true? Could he really do that? And if I agreed would he hold onto his word? Would I take the chance that it was true and expose them to more danger than they had been without me, and coming to bring me back? No, their lives were more important than mine. I felt my shoulders drop as I gave up and he knew, for in that same moment I was releasing the bound, I felt his magic surrounding mine, bridling it. He was so much more powerful than I was, than I could ever be and it felt like he was suffocating the life out of me. I had been in touch with my power ever since I was five and he was depriving me of it. I had trouble breathing and my heart hurt so much it felt as if it were about to burst. I felt myself stumbling, faltering; I was dying, he could and would kill me. Everything grew dim and black, and there would be no light to come and fetch me. Cutting that bond I had betrayed my lady, my faith, my world; I was doomed to an eternity of darkness for that, to a fall that would bring me to the abyss of the universe. And yet, there was no fall for something prevented it.
What happened next I do not really remember; it seemed I was living a nightmare. It did not feel like reality and yet I have to know it actually happened. Maybe it is better that it is blurred… I still know that his eyes were piercing mine, his lips burning my skin, his hips possessing mine. And I know I did nothing to prevent what happened, because I thought I was dead, because I hoped I was dying, and the only thing I wanted was to prevent him from finding them who were so important, so much more than me, for the future of this world. In fact, I hurt and died every night, so many times, and I never really recovered from it in between. I was exhausted every minute, and deprived of my power, I had also been stripped of my strength, of my will. I was not even left a chance to pray: as if, because I was bounded to that place, to that man the gods refused me their lights, punishing me also. I wrote though, my only link to reality, on paper that I saved from when he first took me. I was not even enclosed anymore; no I was free to go anywhere I wanted, only followed by one soldier of his if I were to leave the fort. These few moments outside his stronghold were actually the only moments when I did not feel the pressure of his power over me so strongly. But I was imprisoned in my own mind, and I hardly had the strength to walk, I did not even have the strength to cry. My tears had gone cold and so was my heart; cold until these nights meant nothing, cold until prayers became meaningless; cold until pain became just another part of me. And one day, his hands could not bind mine, and his lips wetted my burning skin and mine possessed his hips. And I was not cold anymore, I was burning inside; something was changing. He had won more than I could imagine and my punishment would last longer than this life but I did not know it. And yet, I also won in a way: for what happened then turned out to be a chance of redemption.
From that day onwards, he would walk the court with me as I regained some strength. And although it may be impossible that this man could care for anybody but himself and his deeds, I felt I was in his care and that he took an interest in me. But I recovered for only a few weeks before I became weak again only this time for another reason. My belly was slowly taking this shape that every woman has longed for. His interest had been for a motive he had foreseen with my sight but I did not think of it that way at the time. And to be honest, I was glad that it happened. There would be a glimpse of hope, of warmth in my life that would be mine. And he was glad also because there would be an heir to his evil when the time came. And this son would be more powerful than himself because his mother was a priestess of the Goddess: a High Priestess. The Priestess of Dana would have been the most interesting to get a baby from but one who belonged to what could be considered the first coven and the innermost circle of the knowledge was good enough. And I had walked the path of darkness of my own free will because I wanted to save my Lady. I would allow evil to endure and yet, as evil as this child could be he was mine, my son. I loved the baby boy he was, the child he became and I love the young man he has grown to be.
When his father was destroyed we were both at his side; and surprising as it may be, I was sad for a moment. I might even have cried had these men not come to finish their work and kill the only reason for me to still be alive. My son. But I would not let them… His father dead all my powers were returned to me, tainted by years, an eternity of darkness, of volunteered imprisonment but also marked by the love I bear for my child. These powers I used and I allowed him to walk free under my protection and his own that is well enough developed already, although he is still young.
But they used their own magic also, and as powerful as I may have been, I could not do much against twelve warriors, two full covens but for the Highs. But you knew that… You didn’t know I was alive – if what I have had is a life. But I’m dying anyway. Don’t lie, I know. I can feel it. And I’ve known you long enough. You have the same expression in your eyes as you had when I saw you out the gates of his fortress in London.
“You too my friend, only they are sadder than they were before. Their light seems lost.”
“It is lost. There’ll be no light for me. Not after what I have done. Twice I sacrificed myself, and twice I failed. I sold my soul, gave up hope to save you so many years ago, the very one thing I told you not to do. No, don’t say anything; in hell, every second is a day, a year, a century, more. What do I know of the time that has passed here? I was young then, and I cared for you more than for my own life. And I just gave my life for my son despite what he is. Because I have loved him and love him still he is an Initiate and has also access to the magic of the God and the Goddess.
I knew that this would come to pass but I dared not hope I would see you as you are now; you are now what you were meant to be: King and High Seer, so maybe all was not a failure. You could not know I survived that night when you escaped London… this night seems to have ended only days ago when he passed away. And it is only to start again. This is the tale of my failures.
“It was not your fault.”
“Of course it was. And you may yet hate me. I cannot be sorry I saved my child. I love him though I know he will lay waste to this world… I can only hope it will give me a chance in my coming lives. I beg you now to spare my son just like I begged him to spare you; he was true to his word and it was his doom somehow. I guess you would see it as being the same for you but I still have to ask. And I would also ask you that you remember me in your prayers and the reason why I am now here. I gladly face many lives deprived of the knowledge because I could save you and because I could find hope again and love in my son. I leave and you stay as it was always written as it always happened; this was always to be my doom. It only came later in this life than expected and with more loss than I could ever fear.”