Freedom Part Nine

Kaine and the others retreated to the captain’s quarters to have a private discussion. Sophia had returned to her human form, but both Trick and Nightshade kept looking at her suspiciously. Runt was standing behind her, with one arm draped protectively over her shoulder. Kaine was pacing back and forth, staring at her with wild, accusatory eyes, but obviously trying to collect his thoughts before trying to speak. The others waited quietly until he was ready.

“Look. I’m not mad. Ok, that’s not true. I am mad. I’m furious. But even more than that, I’m confused. I don’t understand. Who are you? What are you? How am I supposed to trust you, now that I know you’ve been keeping a secret like this from me? Why did you want to join up with us? Were you just using us all this time? Why us? We’re not interested in your holy war. What the hell, Sophia?”

“You’re judging me because I kept a secret? There’s not a person in this room who isn’t keeping a secret from everyone else. You, me, Nightshade…we’ve all got secrets. Trick and Runt are the only honest people on our team!”

Runt gave out a low growl of disapproval, but was otherwise silent and still.

Trick look confused, but then asked, “So what’s your secret, Kaine?”

Sophia didn’t let up. “Go ahead, Kaine. Tell him who you really are. Or should I tell him for you?”

“What do you think you know about me, Sophia?” asked Kaine, with a dangerous tone in his voice.

“Fine. You want to play it that way? Here we go.” She turned to Trick and spoke to him directly. “Kaine’s real name is Khalis Amaric Ravencrest the Fourth. He is, among other things, the rightful king of Calymnia.”

Trick didn’t seem to be impressed. “No he’s not. The King of Calymnia has been dead for over fifty years. Everyone knows that.”

Nightshade took the initiative and spoke before Sophia could answer. “The King of Calymnia was dead. However, the man who was the King of Calymnia rose from the dead, and now haunts the world as the mercenary known as Kaine. They’re one and the same. I know, because I’m the one who killed him.”

“You what?!?” You killed Kaine? Or you killed the King of Calymnia? Either way, I don’t believe you. Kaine’s right here, and the Queen killed the King. Everyone knows that.”

Kaine lunged at Trick. “My wife did not kill me!” he roared. Trick dodged under Kaine’s attack, then rolled and stood up behind him. Kaine spun around to face him, ready to draw his sword, but his anger melted away when he saw Trick backpedaling away from him, a look of shock and terror on his face. Kaine took a deep breath, and sighed. “It’s ok, Trick. It was a long time ago, and that *is* the official story. I shouldn’t have lost my temper over it. Come, sit down.”

Trick went back to his seat, and sat down. He looked at Kaine. “So what are you, then? Some kind of vampire?” he asked.

“No more than you are a werewolf. I’m what’s known as a revenant. I was killed, but I rose from the dead to right a great injustice that was done to me.”

“And that great injustice was that your…someone killed you?”

“I killed him, Trick. That’s my secret. I’m the one who assassinated the King of Calymnia…Kaine.” said Nightshade. “I was sent to assassinate the King of Calymnia. I did it, and went home. When I got there, I found out that I had failed my mission, and he was still alive. I was cast out from my home, and marked for death. I came back to figure out what went wrong, and I’ve been with Kaine ever since.”

“So why don’t you just kill her, Kaine? End it?” Trick asked.

“Nightshade isn’t the problem, Trick. I was betrayed by my brother and my wife. They’re the ones who paid to have me assassinated. My curse will end when they are dead, not when Nightshade dies.”

“And that’s why I’m here,” Sophia said. “I was sent to find you, so that I could help put you back on the throne. Yes, I have my own mission of hunting down and killing all the followers of Exterminis, but I was also sent to put you back on the throne. The Light needs the King of Calymnia, and his armies, to defeat Exterminis once and for all.”

Kaine sat down, sighed, and put his head in his hands. “But I don’t want to go back…” he said.

Sophia knelt down beside him, and put her arm around his shoulders. “You don’t have to, at least not yet. When the time comes, you’ll be ready, and I’ll be there to help you, as will the others. A reckoning is coming, this I promise you. It’s just not the right time yet. One step at a time, ok, Kaine?”

“I’m still mad at you for keeping this a secret,” said Kaine. However, I understand it. I just wish you had told me sooner. This, and the fact that you knew my true identity. Both of those things could have been useful many times in the past.” He stood up, and looked at all of them. “Anyone else got anything they need to share? No more secrets.”

Trick looked really uncomfortable. “Uhhh…like how big secrets? You want to know everything?” he asked.

“Anything that might affect me, or this party,” said Kaine.

“Well, no…nothing I can think of,” said Trick. “Well, except that gambling debt in Etrea, and that one time at Madame Mimi’s—“

“Trick is clean,” interrupted Sophia. “As is Runt. You already knew about Nightshade, and now you know about me. I think we’re all caught up.”

“So where do we go from here?” asked Trick

“I don’t know,” said Kaine. We can’t stay here, and we can’t go back to Bloodshire. At least not yet. Smedley knows about Sophia, which means Blood knows, or will know soon enough. She’ll kill us all for keeping a secret like this. We’ve got to get off of this ship, and we’ve got to find a place to hide until we can get all this sorted out.”

“Hide? From the Queen of Murder? Where the fuck do you think we can hide where she can’t find us?” asked Trick.

“I don’t know,” said Kaine.

“I do,” said Sophia. “We go back to the beginning. Back to where we first met. Back to the Tomb of A’Etenkah.”

“We were lucky to get out the first time. Wandering around an endless, ever-changing labyrinth for all of eternity isn’t exactly my idea of a good time,” Kaine said.

“Not lucky. I led us out,” said Sophia. “The tomb doesn’t affect me in the same way it affects…mortals. I can come and go as I please.”

“Again, that’s information that would have been nice to know earlier in my life,” said Kaine.

“I won’t apologize for it, Kaine. I am the last of my kind. All of the rest were killed in a holy war hundreds of years ago. There are no more Celestials. Not here, and not in heaven. I am the last. But there are thousands of Infernals, in Hell, on Erdael, and roaming the ruins of Heaven. All of them are stronger than me, faster than me, and more powerful than I am. All of them are looking for me. Hunting me. I did what I did, and will continue to do all that I do, so that I can survive.”

Kaine looked like he was about to give a sharp reply, but then changed his mind about it. He sunk down into his chair, and sighed. “I guess that’s what we all did,” he said. “That’s what we do. We survive.”

“If we leave,” said Nightshade, “we’ll be turning Blood into an enemy. Is that something we really want to do? There won’t be any safe place for us. We’ll never sleep again.”

“Not just sleep,” said Trick. “We won’t be able to eat, either. We won’t be able to drink. We won’t even be able to show our faces. Anywhere. It was bad enough when it was just the peri hunting us…well, Night…all this time. Now it’s going to be a hundred times worse.”

“That can’t be helped now,” said Kaine. “If we go see her now, she’ll kill us. If we run, she’ll kill us. If we do nothing, she’ll kill us. At least in the Tomb, we have a chance.”

“That’s true,” said Sophia.

They all exchanged silent glances for a moment until Kaine spoke. “Does everyone know what to do?” he asked.

“Yep,” said Trick. He grasped the hilt of his sword, and disappeared.

Sophia took Runt’s arm and said, “See you soon.” She spoke the words of a spell, and they both disappeared.

Nightshade looked at Kaine. “You sure about this?” she asked.

“It’s time,” he said. “Let’s finish this.”

“It’s your funeral. At last,” she said. She took his hand, and crushed a crystal in her hand. Together, they disappeared.