She was dead. She was sure of it.
The last thing she remembered was the roar of the building as it came crashing down around them. Amon had grabbed her arm and yanked her roughly to one side as stone, brick, and steal buried the spot she had just been standing in. She turned and then a great pain had flashed in her head and the world had gone dark. The last thing she remembered was Amon shouting her name.
Now she was in darkness, and she was dead. She had to be dead. It was dark and cool, and she floated. You didn't float when you were alive.
"You aren't dead." said a voice. It was young, a child's voice. A little girl to be exact. But it spoke in tones that made her think of an adult. Like Methusula had spoken when she had appeared to Robin as her child-self.
Robin turned and found she wasn't floating anymore. She was standing, and although the darkness was still thick around her, she had the sense of space now...of standing in an enclosed area. The size of a normal room in a home maybe.
"You aren't dead." Said the voice again "You have too much to do yet. You were struck on the head but you'll be fine. Amon is carrying you. His arm is cut but it's not bad."
"Who are you?" Robin said softly.
"Who I am" The voice answered "The daughter of my mother."
"Where is this place? Is this a dream."
"You could call it a dream." Said the voice "It is in a way. And its not at the same time. This place is in between. You could say you've gone journeying. You've gone walk-about."
Robin frowned "I don't know what that means."
"That's all right." Said the voice gently "You don't have to. It's no big deal. You're here."
"What do you want" She asked a little sharply.
"To tell you. To show you why you must survive. He will be your watchdog, but in the end he is also Joseph."
"What....." she began and then in the darkness her own voice cried out. It was close, but she couldn't see. Someone murmured something in a soothing tone, and her voice screamed then, harshly, in agony.
The scream died to a panting sobbing, and a woman she didn't recognize said "Again, Robin Again!"
Then there was light, and she saw she was standing in a small room, an apartment maybe. Robin saw herself lying on the floor, on a layer of Mats. A sheet was draped over her, and a woman knelt near her feet. She was young and pretty, dressed in jeans and a tee shirt. The lights were dull, but there was enough to see what was very obviously going on.
Her other self was very obviously pregnant and very obviously giving birth. The woman was acting as midwife, murmuring to her in a low tone. She sensed another presence, and half turned to see Amon in the doorway watching with eyes she couldn't read.
Then, there was a pause and the voice of a newborn child filled the room, crying. Her own other self gave a half laugh, half sob.
"A girl" The midwife said smiling "Its a girl Robin. You have a daughter."
Robin, the real one, looked back at Amon. He was looking at the baby with the blankest expression she had ever seen. His face was utterly stone.
"Your firstborn and not your last" said the voice. " You are Eve. You are Mary. Youare the mother of the next generation."
"What did you call me?" Robin said softly, still watching Amon watch her other self as she cradled her child, and the midwife finished her work.
'You are Eve to us. The first mother." Said the voice.
"Eve fell in sin"
"So they would have us believe" Said the voice "So they tell us, those who would make us slaves and wipe us from this world. So they say, but I do not believe my enemies."
It was such a harsh tone for a child's voice Robin said "Who are you. Why should I believe this?"
"You choose to believe or not to believe. Methusula knew when she saw you. What you will become to us, and to yourself. Solomon will become tainted, as Zaizen would have made it. It is already beginning to fall. Soon, there will be no distinction between witch and craft user to them. All will be demons. All will be hunted. But you...."
The voice paused "You are the perfect Wicce." It said "And your children will be perfect as well."
Robin heard herself gasp, the midwife cry out. She turned and saw her daughter was wreathed in a halo of flame. It didn't burn the child, nor her mother, but simply hung around the newborn like a medieval painting.
Robin looked to Amon. His expression had changed slightly, his eyebrows raised. But other than that he was still stone.
"You and your children will be the first of the pure generations." Said the voice "You will choose over and over who you are, and who you will teach your children to be. They will go forward, and their children will be perfect Wicceas well."
"And then what?" Said Robin "What do we do then?"
"That is in your heart. That is what will be decided when you teach these children. Will you teach them to defend and guard, but not destroy? Perhaps to someday live in brotherhood with the humans? Or will they become the very thing you fear most...what you have hunted...what you fear Amon sees you as? That is your power Robin. To teach."
The void paused "You must start by continuing to teach him." The room faded until she could only see Amon "His heart is still torn. He may be Joseph. Or he may be Judas. What you bring, what you teach him, what gifts you give to him, will decide this."
He suddenly turned and she saw herself, older now, and cradling a toddler in her arms. She couldn't see the child's face, but the little girl was cowering in her arms.
"Please" The older Robin said. Her eyes were full of sorrow and fear "Amon Please...."
"A witch must be hunted." He said softly, and drew his gun.
"Amon!" She cried "She's y...."
He fired three times as the world went dark.
Robin stood in that darkness trembling.
There was a sound, and she turned to see herself again, same age, same child in her arms. Amon stood before them, but now he faced away. He fired twice into the darkness and said in a low voice "Run. I'll be right behind you. Get her to safety."
"Don't argue! Go!" He said, and glanced at her. His face was calm, but there was something in his eyes that made her now-self start a little. It was almost warmth.
He's protecting me...and my child.and then there was darkness again.
"Two possibilities" Said the voice.
"What does that mean? What do I teach him?"
"That way is inside you. You know in your soul what is to be done. You have been doing it already. Did he not help you escape the hunt? Did he not aim to hunt you as a witch, and then find in his own heart mercy for you. Compassion. Trust? You are already teaching."
"I don't know what you expect of me......."
"Only what you can do" Said the voice gently.
A small figure stepped forward into dim light. A little girl of maybe seven. She looked up at Robin; her golden hair spilling down her back, over the white nightgown she wore. She studied the young woman, and Robin felt herself go to her knees to be able to look the child in the eyes.
It was like looking in a mirror that showed the past. The child was herself at seven years old...and yet it wasn't. She was exactly like robin except for the eyes. Robin knew those eyes. They were........
But then the child spoke "You will do what you can, Mother." She said. She stepped forward and put her arms around the young woman's neck, and Robin found herself embracing the child.
"I'm so afraid" She whispered.
"I know" Said her daughter "I know. But I also know how brave your heart is. How strong it is. Father knows too."
"Who is your father?" Said Robin softly.
The girl smiled against her neck "I can't tell you everything, Mother."
And Robin opened her eyes.
She was lying on a bed. When she turned her head she realized she was in a hotel room. The clock on the wall was ticking softly. She moved and groaned as her head protested.
"Don't move" Said Amon's voice. She shifted her eyes to see him sitting by the bed in a chair "You were struck by falling debris. You need to be as still as you can for awhile."
"Where are we?" Robin said softly.
"Safe for the moment" He said and sat back. She saw his left arm was bandaged, there were small spots of blood on the gauze. "We'll rest up here for a few days and then plan where to go."
She nodded slightly and closed her eyes.
I'll try she thought I'll try to be a good teacher. When she went back to sleep, she dreamed nothing at all.
He watched her sleep, and wondered what her dream had been. She had said his name twice. The first time had been with a tone of such sadness, it shocked him. Sadness and fear. But the second time. The Second time had been in tones completely different. That had been said in a way that almost warmed him.
He sat back, sipped the glass of water beside him, and watched out the window, As he had promised.