I am in my home again. I look around, searching for Natalia, but I do not see her. She is not part of this. Or perhaps she is invisible- like I was.
“Natalia?” I whisper. “Are you here? If you are, you need to find a way to show me that you’re here. Please. Quickly. I need a sign, before something goes horribly wrong.”
Do I hear her voice? Or is that just my imagination?
But it is too late now. I hear three sharp knocks on the door. Already, I can hear voices.
“Go away!” my father. “We’ve done nothing wrong.”
“We’re here to talk to Kane.”
“You can’t speak to him. He’s busy.”
A voice spoke after that. “You would not stand in the way of a direct agent of the Queen, would you?”
I walk to the entrance of my room, to see the scene laid out before me. My father, standing defiantly at the door. My mother, standing beside him. And in the door, a slender, cold-eyed girl. A Devia. Her eyes are locked on my parents, and a cruel smile plays around the corner of her lips. This is when we knew the situation was serious. The Queen does not arbitrarily send her Devias out for minor village problems.
“Now let us see Kane,” she purrs.
“You know who she is,” I murmur, hoping Natalia can hear me. “I’m guessing that you recognize her. She ruined my life.”
Slowly, my parents step aside, afraid. The Devia walks forwards, noticing me almost instantly. The viper smile deepens.
“Ah, you must be Kane. I’ve heard quite a bit about you. Imagine that I should find you here.” She studies me, her head cocked slightly to the side, as if deciding what she’s going to do with me first. “You should be honored, boy. The Queen herself wishes to meet with you.”
“The Queen?” I say warily. The voice comes from me, and yet it is not my voice. It is my voice back then. “What does she want?”
“That is no concern of yours. A summons from the Queen is not something that you can ignore, boy. Now come.” She takes my arm in a steel grip, and pulls me towards the door, releasing me at the edge. “Come,” she says politely, “step outside, and we will talk.”
We walk out of the house, my parents trailing behind, never taking their eyes off of the Devia. We walk a short ways away from the house, and the Devia begins to speak.
“Kane is very very lucky,” she begins. “The Queen herself wishes to meet with him. This is not an offer that is up for refusal. Do not be concerned- he will not be harmed, as long as he complies with the Queen’s wishes.”
“You can’t just expect us to let you-” my mother starts.
We all turn, in time to see my house go up in flames.
My mother screams, and nearly runs for it, only to be stopped by my father, who turns to look at the Devia, his cold expression almost matching hers in ferocity. “Your orders?”
“Yes,” the Devia smiles. “Indeed. Now come, Kane.”
I stare back at the house in silent shock. Then the Devia’s hand closes around my arm, and yanks me away.
There is a bull like roar from my father, and suddenly he lunges at the Devia, sending her sprawling. She releases me, and I hit the ground.
“Kane, RUN!” my father yells.
I stumble to my feet, and start for the woods. I look back for a second, and see the Devia’s knife flash silver in the night. My father lets out a cry, and falls to the ground, blood pooling around him. The Devia turns to go, but my mother hits her across the back of the head with a branch. The Devia turns and flicks a knife with casual contempt into my mother’s chest. She goes down without a sound.
Tears run down my face. “No…”
I turn, and bolt into the woods. Branches whip at my face, and the ground cuts at my feet, but I am heedless of the pain. All that I know has been destroyed. By an agent of the Queen.
Suddenly, a hard, cold hand closes around my shoulder, spinning me around, then throwing me to the ground. I hit hard, all the air going out of my lungs.
The Devia crouches over me, smiling darkly. “Come on, Kane,” she purrs. “Let’s go.”
She drags me to my feet, and the scene goes dark. Like Natalia’s visions, it progresses in fast pace. Running from the Devia. Escaping. The help the villagers gave me. How the Devia followed me, and killed so many of them. Hiding and running- with death trailing in my wake.
Their deaths are your fault, you know. The enchantress remarks. Such a violent past- poor child. But you are the true culprit for those deaths. You are the one who led the Devia into their hearts. You primed her to strike. And you ran. You led innocent young ones to their deaths searching for you. The one you love- even she hates you for what you have done. She cannot forgive you. You could have fought. You could have defended that which you loved. But you ran. You are a coward, Kane. A pathetic, weak coward, who lets others take the sword for him. It will be the same when they come for you, won’t it? You will let Natalia die for you.
“I wouldn’t,” I growl. Mental control, Kane! Push her out!
You cannot push me out so easily this time, the enchantress laughs cruelly. You are mine this time. I have your mind. And I have the young Devias mind. I have broken her, and I have broken you.
“What more could I have done?!” I yell. “If I had fought, it wouldn’t have changed anything! Except I would be captured! I couldn’t change anything!”
And that is why you are weak. You think only of yourself. So sad. You have lost. Admit it, boy. You are mine this time.
“No,” I reply. But there is little feeling in it. I’ve been beaten down so many times that resistance doesn’t even seem to have any point anymore. Perhaps I should just… let myself die. Submit to this cruel world and all its tortures.
I look around, startled. That was not the enchantress’s voice. It was more substantial. “Who-”
“It’s me,” the voice whispers. “You’re stronger than her. She’s trying to break you. Push her out. You can do it, Kane! Push her out. Show her that she can’t control you, no matter how hard she tries. That’s why she’s trying to break you.”
“I don’t hate you,” she replies. Those four small words send a rush of warmth to my heart. “I’m here. I’ll help you. But you need to force her out.”
You will fail, the enchantress hisses.
“Be quiet, you snake!” Natalia barks. “Kane, NOW!”
I grit my teeth, and bring an image to mind. It starts out as a simple piece of metal. Slowly, piece by piece, I begin to assemble it, working it into a different shape. The images around me waver.
"Come on, Kane! You’re doing it!” Natalia’s voice is faint and weak.
“Natalia?” I ask, eyes widening. “What-”
“You’re pushing her out. And you’re pushing me out too. That’s a good thing, Kane. Keep going!”
I grit my teeth, and continue developing the machine, growing it in my head, adding parts and complexities that only I would understand.
What are you doing? The enchantress hisses.
“Pushing you out.”
I keep going. The images around me are faint and distant now. I put more and more strength into the machine I am building in my head. And suddenly, the world around me breaks apart with the sound of shattering glass, and I sink into oblivion, relived. Finally- the enchantress is gone. I don’t even struggle as the darkness takes me.