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It was in darkness where her body remained, crumpled into a corner in a cell forged in stone, iron and force too great for her to break; in that cold desolate place where only the distant dripping of water and fierce whipping of wind, through a slit window carved into the wall, could be heard.

The only indication of the passing of time was the faint light that managed to reach her window in the new day. It had been years surely, centuries possibly or only a few days since she had been sealed away in this place, left to be forgotten, to diminish. To die. But would not come, Katjiya knew this. She would remain and linger on in this prison made for her by her enemy; once a dear friend.

Thoughts of the events that had lead to her imprisonment rolled through her mind and anger towards her captures had consumed her mind it the early days of her imprisonment and Katjiya had taught herself, forced herself really, to quiet her mind and to not remember the feel of sunshine on her face and a warm breeze caressing her skin and dancing through her long raven locks. Those same locks now hung limply over her shoulders they were once glossy with health now matted and gritty from malcontent. It was enough to drive any one to madness. She would have welcomed madness at one time but now she was filled with purpose; purpose given to her by an unlikely visitor to her cell, his voice reaching out from the darkness.

“Katjiya” the voice called out to Katjiya, as if from a dream.

Katjiya remained as she was, flat on her back on the stone floor staring at the ceiling, believing that what she had heard was no more than a trick of the howling wind outside the window.

 “Katjiya” the voice rang out again and as a bright light split the darkness of the room. The light dissipated as quickly as it had appeared but in its briefness Katjiya was able to espy the stone walls of her prison a reminder of the confines she now occupied. The sound of the voice again, firmer this time spoke, “Awaken child” Katjiya registering the reality of the presence within the cell. Slowly she turned her head towards the sound, the bones of her neck cracked as she turned, from disuse.

A figure stood heavily cloaked over her, its face hidden behind folds of white cloth but that couldn’t be right. In the darkness Katjiya should not have been able to recognize the color of the robes. It was when the figure began to move closer to her that she realized that the fabric, so brilliantly white, emitted its own light. Each step of the stranger caused the shadows concealing its face to dance and sway. 

Katjiya’s mind slowly turned, trying to place the voice that seemed so familiar to her. It was if her mind was trying to break through a dense fog, the identity remaining hidden in the distance.

 “Izeha?” Katjiya spoke softly, her voice weak and hoarse.

The figure’s head turned down towards Katjiya’s prone body on the floor. She could feel its gaze moving along her body causing her breath to seize within her lungs, “Yes my child, I have come.” Relief washed over her body, relaxing muscles she had not realized were tense. How long had she waited for this day to come? Katjiya in her excitement sprang onto her knees to reverently kneel; palms laid flat on the ground and head bent almost to floor, before Izeha. 

“My Lord” Katjiya spoke bowing her head lower her hair pooling on the floor around his feet. “Long I have waited for you to come for me, my Lord. I have done what you asked and all that you have said has come to pass.”

“Yes, you have done well my child.” At Izeha’s words of praise Katjiya slowly raised her head to look up at his face a tentative smile stretching her dry lips. “Thank you my lord, your praise is not lightly taken.”

“Nor is it lightly given, my child, you have earned it. This ordeal has been hard on you I know.” Izeha placed his hand softly on Katjiya’s head following the flow of her hair to her cheek, his large palm settled onto the side of her face, Katjiya leaned into its warmth,  “But there is more work to be done.” At his words Katjiya jerked her face away from his touch, a look of anger entering her face, her words spilling from her mouth in a rush of fury, “What of your promise?”

Izeha’s hand quickly made contact with her cheek, the sting of the contact made Katjiya wince. Izeha grasped her chin firmly, Katjiya in defiance tried to turn her face away from his hold but Izeha’s hold remained firm.

Bending at the waist, Izeha leaned into Katjiya’s face; the glow of the fabric covering his head obscured her vision momentarily and revealed the face, wrinkled and scarred from age and abuse, beneath the hood. “You would do best child to remember your place, I will not be questioned.” His voice dripped with malice.

 What could be seen in the face of God? The question rang through Katjiya’s mind, unfitting as it was for the current situation.

Katjiya took the opportunity and looked into Izeha’s face as he continued to lean into her. Never before had she had the chance to look at him, her eyes quickly took in the firm set of his mouth. His eyes revealed from beneath the hood; were hard and cold. A shiver ran down her spine.

Izeha felt the tremor pass through Katjiya’s body, the feeling warming him and a resulting rush of power came over him. Izeha released Katjiya’s face and straightened over her again and watched as she bent her head once again in reverence before him. Katjiya did not dare raise her hand to her stinging cheek, it was never wise to show any sign of weakness before him. Izeha, the master planner and creator of all including the Ancients, fed on weakness and desire.

“I am yours to command, my lord”

“Yes.” Izeha spoke, a smile stretching across his mouth as he reached into his robes “This chamblis will be your call to action, Katjiya.” Katjiya slowly raised her head to peek at his outstretched hand that held, what appeared to be, a pile of tiny mirrors. The light from robes refracted off of the some of the mirrors creating a greater glow in the dark room and caused Izeha’s withered hand below to appear darker in comparison; his long knotted fingers remained wrapped around the chamblis.

Katjiya tentatively reached out her hand towards the chamblis, watching for any reaction from Izeha, her hand unsteady from nerves. The small mirrors were cool to the touch of the soft pad of her fingertips. The pieces rose suddenly from Izeha’s hand and arranged themselves like a chandelier suspended in the air above Katjiya. The chamblis slowly began to revolve.

Katjiya watched as the mirrors in wonder as they turned. Oddly, Katjiya noted, they did not reflect images of the room but as she watched the image of ice blue eyes framed by dark lashes and a face that she thought she would never see again flashed in the tiny mirrors surprising Katjiya. Katjiya tried, in vain, to focus harder on the image but it disappeared as quickly as it had appeared.  

Izeha’s voice recalled her attention to him, “Katjiya, I know of your desires to be free of this place and of the promise I made to you when this all began but first you must trust in me and wait. Do you still keep it?” Katjiya’s face must have reflected the shock she felt at Izeha’s question for he began to laugh its sound echoed around the room and caused an unpleasant ringing in Katjiya’s ears.

“Are you so surprised child? You have been acting of your own accord Katjiya and I should punish you for it.” Fear stuck Katjiya’s body again and she began to shake with it in earnest.

“Your familiar my prove useful in the future and for that alone I will give it to you as a boon. Though I hold you in high regard child, it would be foolish of you to believe that I will tolerate any further dissention from you, favored or no.”

“You are most gracious my lord, I will await your word.”

“See that you do.”  Izeha his away from Katjiya, kneeling body and walked slowly towards the wall, “Until next we meet” Izeha spoke with a casual wave of his frail hand before he vanished in a flash of light. Katjiya remained as she was kneeling, head hung low in reverence. She waited and listened to the silence too scared to believe that he had actually left.

Izeha had not returned to Katjiya since that day. She could no longer remember how long she had knelt there in her cell too frightened to move in belief that Izeha would return to deal out the punishment she knew would come. Katjiya’s knees ached in remembrance of the unforgiving stone beneath her knees and the strain of her muscles from the weight of her bent head. All the while the chamblis rotated above her head the dripping water and the roaring winds the only sounds to reaching her and marking the passage of time. Katjiya dared not to rest or close her eyes her fear was so great each quiet breath carefully taken and gratefully released until finally her body collapsed from exhaustion.

When at last, Katjiya returned to wakefulness she hoped, and feared, that it all had been a dream. The chamblis’ tiny mirrors were the only confirmation to Izeha’s visit to her prison. 

In the darkness, Katjiya kept her vigil over the chamblis. At times images, clear as day could be seen of the world outside, disjointed images of faces and places unknown to her flickered into view. They never lasted very long or answered any of her questions and with the passing of time she became less aware of them.  The chamblis’ constant spinning a comfort to her raging mind was all that kept her.

 Now that all she had were Izeha’s words to her, trust in me and wait and so she waited for him or for the sign he had promised her would come. 



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The rambling sound of the trucks wheels jerked Kalo awake as they crept over the stone strewn road. It had been difficult for to fall into a restful sleep and the brief glimpse of predawn sky he espied through his thinly cracked lids convinced him that it was far too early to be awake and it would be best to simply fall back asleep. Kalo shifted in the bed of the old truck trying to find a more comfortable position on the rough and creaking wooden boards his eyes caught on the small body snuggled against his side.

It had only been a few months since Kalo caught the young boy trying to pick his pockets in the busy streets of The Citadel. Like so many others the boy had been orphaned by the violence and lawlessness that had spread like a wild fire through out the countryside since the end of the war. The war had been a long and hard with many lives lost in the fighting.

§                      §                      §


 As a young and boy, not much older than the one currently sleeping alongside him, Kalo enlisted with the guard eager for adventure and the opportunity to prove himself fighting for home and country. They had been told that the enemy in the North threatened the safety and happiness of their people and it was up each of them to take up arms and protect their loved ones and way of life.

The lands to the north were harsh and traveling was slow but the troops rallied onwards, lit with the fire of righteousness. What they found there were small shanty towns filled with people who looked just like him and his fellow soldiers. Kalo could still remember the faces of the women and children of those shanty towns as they ran in fear and desperation from a battle they had never had a chance to arm themselves against. As they marched through the lands, they burned all that stood, leaving nothing behind but ash and smoke.

When they believed that the enemy to north had been conquered and the battle won an enemy to the West and then to the East had appeared and for five long years they marched fighting a faceless enemy hidden amongst the faces of farmers, teachers, masons, men and women both young and old. Until all the lands surrounding Myrthza had been conquered and under the name of King Edrick and his queen, Alisa.

The memories of home and the smiling faces left behind had kept the soldiers going on those days; when the glaring sun baked their skins inside of the heavy metal armor and the blistering winds and rains made it hard for them to find their way.

The war had changed many things. Kalo no longer was the wide eyed youth he had been when he left the little village in the valley and it was not until Kalo had on furlough from the Guard, returning home a decorated war hero, that he saw what had been truly lost in his absence.   

Nestled in the lush valley of Igile on the western side of Myrthza known for its grasslands and rolling hills, the little village of Boughton lay. Kalo traveled by railcar from The Citadel into the neighboring town of Gomes with all his worldly possessions his medals proudly pinned to his chest. Gomes had always been a bustling city with the calls of the merchants promoting their wares and the coming and goings of the railcar passengers.

It had been a childhood treat to ride into the city in his father’s tractor to sell vegetables from their farm. Kalo had wondered at the sight and sounds, dreaming of the day when he could be a part of it all, a man of importance and purpose amongst them.

The floorboards of the platform creaked beneath his boots a caked on layer of mud, undisturbed by footprints, from the last rain; the station desolate even at the noon hour. The streets were as to be expected were filled with people though their faces haggard and lean from hunger. Men and women shuffled by quickly heads down never meeting his eye, grabbing children out of the way and seeking shelter in the dark alleyways as he passed.

The shops lining the street, once bright and bustling, spilling with  the scents of roasting meats and baked breads where now dark with abandonment. Kalo made his way through the city slowly taking in the strange sights and movements of the city. What happened here? The thought floated through Kalo’s mind and quickened his footsteps eager to get home. Their hushed whispers followed in his wake. Tired of the frightened expressions and weary glances of the people, Kalo took to the main road at the edge of the city on foot. 

For hours Kalo walked the main road. The summer sun beamed down on him from the sky baking his skin and causing rivulets of sweat to flow down his back as he carried his bag over his shoulder. Kalo strove on only the crunching of his boots on the gravel and the setting sun marked his progress down the desolate road.

Ready to be home Kalo sprinted the last few miles to the village, gladness rallied his spirits and hastened his footsteps around the last bend. He could almost smell the ale from the tavern at the edge of the village and the raucous laughter of the men enjoying a few laughs and a few more drinks after a long day in the fields. It is good to be home, he thought taking in another deep breath, filling his lungs with the clean country air.

Kalo feet came to a sudden stop his limbs frozen from shock, his bag made a thud on the road as it fell of his shoulders. A sudden and chilling wind blew over Kalo ripping across his sun kissed skin his coat billowing. There was nothing; the tavern where the men drank, the school house where the daily lessons were taught, and the stall where Camisa had sold her woven jewelry- gone.

With heavy steps Kalo dragged his bag down the main road of the town looking, searching, for any sign of the life he had left behind.

A glimmer caught of light caught Kalo’s eyes as he walked past the rubble that was once Broughton. Stooping at the pile of rubble where Camisa’s stall had once stood, he kicked away the broken boards and knelt on the sodden ground his hands desperately raked through ash and dirt looking for the item that had drawn him there. His fingers brushed against a smooth stone like item, caked as it was by the grime of its environment. Kalo dug into his rucksack and withdrew his canteen, Kalo had been sipping from his canteen during his walk from Gomes and he hoped that there were a few drops left within. Unscrewing the top Kalo overturned the light canteen willing a few drops to escape it. 

The little water Kalo was able to coax from his canteen dropped onto the object held preciously in his palm. He was able to remove enough of the grime revealing the glittering gem, Kalo’s breath stuck in his throat as recognition settled in.  Camisa.

Kalo remembered the day, so many years ago, when he had given the small gem to Camisa and how her face had lit up in glee as she turned the gem in the sunlight. It had been all that he could afford from the money he saved working as a day laborer at the blacksmith’s shop. The gem, which Camisa had fashioned into a necklace was a pledge to her of his undying love and promise of marriage. A promise he had hoped to fulfill now that he was a man—grown and accomplished; worthy of her love.

The village people of Broughton had not always loved Kalo. As a child they had been weary of his dark coloring, fair skin, chilling blue eyes and his unknown origins. While they had lived the parents who had raised him were kind and good to him. They had loved the young child they had found abandoned wandering the streets of Gomes.

Having been childless for so many years they adopted Kalo and brought him to this village. Their love had not always been enough to deflect the whispers of the village folk and the taunting from the school children, who teased him for his differences.

Kalo had been unusually tall as child making it harder for him to blend into the background and avoid the stares and the fights with the other young boys in the village who saw him as an easy target. It had been after one of those fights when he had met her.

He had seen her about the village with her parents and friends laughing and playing games. Kalo had been instantly drawn to her smiles and golden beauty. Never had he dared to meet her eyes or speak a word to her in fear that she, like everyone else would shun him but he had always watched—from a distance taking note of her movements and listening to the sound of her laughter.

Until that day, after he had taken a particularly spectacular beating from some of the older boys in the village behind the schoolhouse. When he was filled with thoughts of revenge and anger that his golden goddess reached out her hand to him.

“Are you okay?”  Her hand outstretched and her voice like twinkling bells. For the first time the object of his secret desire was close enough that he could smell the floral scent of her skin and see the golden warmth in her eyes. He was so close. Kalo did not dare speak a word. Shrinking further into the wood siding of the building; hoping she would leave, hoping she would stay.

“Your hurt” Camisa reached out to touch the side of his face.

“What do you want? Go away.” Kalo glared at her hoping to scare her away. Camisa gasped.

“What?” He barked jerking away from her. Camisa fell to her knees before a smile beaming on her face.

“Your eyes,” she spoke softly in wonder “they are beautiful- Let’s be friends.” Her stuck out again this time and hovered between them. Kalo stared at her hand confused by the gesture. Camisa waited smiling. Kalo shyly reached out his own hand and clasped hers. He would never forget the feel of her cool palm nor how her smile seemed to grow as they shook hands; his own shy smile struggling to make hers.

Their easy smiles grew to a secret friendship; and from a friendship into a secret love then to a promise of forever. The night before Kalo was set to leave and join the Guards, he had sent word to Camisa to meet him behind the schoolhouse under the old chestnut tree, their special place well away from the disapproving eyes of the villagers and their wagging tongues. That night the air was lightly scented with the last blooms of summer.

Camisa arrived at their placed, moments after Kalo, her long golden hair tossed by the cool breeze the fabric of her long white dress pressed tightly to her slender body. The moonlight shining down on her made the fabric glimmer. She looked like a goddess descended into the world—innocent and unnaturally beautiful.

 Kalo watched her progress across the yard from the shadows of the chestnut tree burning the image of her walking towards him. He didn’t know if he would ever see her again. He wasn’t foolish enough to believe with any certainty that he would return alive from battle and so he had begun to burn every moment he shared with Camisa into his memory, in the event that this was the last time—Kalo pushed the thoughts out of his mind. He would return, if only for her sake.

Kalo stepped out of the shadows a smile pasted on his face, and walked the last few steps meeting Camisa under the glow of the summer moonlight.

“I did not think you would come.”

“Why did you plan to meet with someone else if I had not shown?” Camisa teased.

“You know there is only you.”

“I know no such thing. You are a handsome man Kalo. Do not think I am too blind to see the way women watch after you. You could have any of the women in the village. They are only too eager for you to give them the least bit of attention.”

“If they watch as closely as you say, then they must know that you are the only one I can see. Those women you speak of are nothing compared to you.”  Kalo brushed a strand of hair away from her face. Camisa grasped his hand in one of hers leaning her cheek into his palm, her eyes imploring, “Must you go?” she asked.

“You know I must Camisa”

“You do not Kalo. Stay here with me. I fear that I will never see you again. What if you meet some exotic woman in the north and fall madly in love with her?” Kalo chuckled softly at her worry. Camisa pressed on, “This is not funny Kalo, after seeing the world would you still want me? You will return a man of the world Kalo. Would you still want the little village girl you left behind, who knows nothing of the places you have been?” Kalo felt the gentle tremble of her jaw and saw the pooling of tears in her eyes.

“Do not cry my love, I am weak against your tears. You worry too much. None of those things will come to pass. I will come back and when I do, I will be able to go to your father and ask him for your hand in marriage.”

“Why not ask him now? Then you would not have to go-”

“You know I could not. Come now let us not fight about this again. This will be my last night with you for some time; I must leave before the sun is fully arisen.”

“Just- ” a single tear fell from Camisa’s eye wetting Kalo’s thumb as it rested against her cheek her words purposeful, “promise me you will come back for me.”

Kalo gently held her face in his hands and bent his head down towards her, his breath as he spoke brushing lightly over her trembling lips, “I will always come back for you.” Kalo gently kissed her lips.                  

 Kalo stared down at the glittering gem in his hand, the late sun light catching its angles as his mind raced with the memories of Camisa. He was helpless against the tears that began to race down cheeks his grief bone deep. Never in his life to that point had he felt completely alone and without direction. A sob, deep and agonized, escaped his strained throat his eyes sweeping the area around him looking for anything else that may have survived in the village.

 Kalo scavenged through the ruins of Broughton long into the night with the military grade torch lamp he carried in his rucksack. He had managed to amass a small pile of objects; a thin strap of leather- which he used to fashion an necklace for Camisa’s gem around his neck, a few children’s toys, articles of clothing, and preserves from the demolished store room of the general store.

In the early light of morning Kalo sorted through the pile storing what little he could use, and carry, into his rucksack. For the rest, Kalo dug into the soft ground and buried, in a grave, a memorial to the village and those who lived, and lost their lives there. Placing a bunch of wildflowers he had been able to find in the fields near the village Kalo prayed a solemn prayer over the grave. He vowed, in that moment, to find justice for those slain-- find answers, for himself.

Sometime during the night and the endless searching Kalo convinced himself of the impossibility that an entire village could have been eradicated with survivors. Even in a surprise attack some could have managed to escape the carnage.

Kalo dared to believe that Camisa might have been one of them. With a kernel of hope and a cold trail Kalo set out from the village of Broughton turning his back on everything he had known and all that he loved. A man changed and determined.     

§                      §                      §

            Kalo banished the thoughts from his mind and attempted to allow the gentle swaying of the truck bed and the low rumble of the boy’s breathing to lull him back into sleep. Kalo, in an attempt to find a more comfortable arrangement for his large body, twisted onto his left hip into the warmth of the boy’s body and was gifted with little sharp claws digging into his chest.

            Surprised by the sudden pain Kalo’s eyes sprang open and were met by a pair of fierce amethyst eyes. The eyes belong to another orphan that had taken to following around after him.

            “Evil thing” Kalo grumbled.

            The feline merely blinked its large haughty eyes at Kalo, resettled onto its haunches and began a steady stream of purring. Righteous in the pain it had inflicted and indifferent to Kalo’s own need to find comfort as it settled into sleep.

            The boy, whose sleep had remained undisturbed by Kalo’s rumblings, turned into Kalo and flung his arm over Kalo’s chest holding him tightly as he softly began to mumble of tasty meats.

Kalo resigned himself to being uncomfortable; with the sharply clawed feline on his chest and the boy wrapped around his side like a vine. Kalo closed his eyes and allowed the warmth and mutterings of his companions to ease him into sleep.


Chapter End Notes:

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Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.