A/N: I'm blue dabadi dabadai…
"Ummm, favorite color?"
"Hey, watch it, you're half this Irishman I'll have you know." I snickered. "Um…favorite animal?"
"Yes, a snake. Haha! You're afraid of snakes aren't you!?"
"That's got to be the most poisonous snakes though…"
"You do realize we're headed straight for Egypt, right? And we'll be arriving there tomorrow, right?"
"Please don't remind me…"
"What's your favorite animal?"
"Um, that would have to be a lion." He answered, "So why don't you tell me a little more about the man you're marrying, I hardly know him. Of course I hardly know you so that's not a very good reason, but still." He grinned at me slightly, "All he could do was talk about you, but now I want to know about him. Is he really a prince, as you say? Or is that just his title?"
"No father, he's the Prince of Persia and Heir Apparent to the throne of Babylon. Unfortunately he's been accused of a crime he did not commit, framed by his own uncle, he had to leave to seek refuge in Egypt while I was in India. We caught up with his ship, and, well, here we are." I told him.
"What do you intend to do while you're in Egypt?" Asked Father.
"I intend to organize the Black Rose Circle, another cult who worships the Empress of Time, and bring them to my aid. The Order of the All-Seeing Eye is already gathering up sister and brother sects to form an army, and they'll likely meet us in Egypt themselves." I explained.
"It sounds like you're going to war!" He exclaimed.
"We are at war, Father." I told him, "And it isn't just India and Persia anymore. It's me against Zasalamel, and you can bet that he's going to be organizing his own army as well." I tapped my chin, "The Persians may, in fact, hold true to tradition, they may, as a whole, believe the prince had nothing to do with the war, especially when Keilic, whom has been presumed dead, turns up alive, well, and at our side. Unfortunately Zasalamel is a good actor, he's convinced the Maharaja, the king of India, that I'm the bad guy here, and is likely going to say that I kidnapped Farah as well. So now there's no more ambiguity over why Persia and India are at war, unless, of course, the duke claims himself and his brother, King Sharaman, are also enemies of the Empress of Time, though I'm not sure whether or not they know that's me yet." I ran my fingers through my hair, "Look I…I'd kind of rather you not get involved…" I confessed.
"Trust me, I have no qualms with that, but…I'm not sure I like how deeply involved you are." He told me.
I opened my mouth and was about to answer, but Yuhalbis suddenly burst into the room, and we stared at him as he pulled off his mask and bowed to me respectfully, "Empress!" He gasped, not looking up, "Empress, another ship, with the Archmagistrate and Bishop! No, three ships, another two following them! They—have come to see, you!" He said, still panting but recovering his breath swiftly.
"Archmagistrate and Bishop?" I asked, "What does that mean?"
"That means that they are the highest of the high, next to you of course, Empress. They say the Bishop can predict the very weather…and we've received word that she, she has Seen what Joklym was too late in Seeing…they are here to beg for mercy, and to renounce the Evil One." He told us. "But…that being said they will…ask for proof, that you are, indeed, the true Empress, for they, like we, do not wish to make the same grievous error again." He added.
"I see. Proof huh?" I looked down at the ring on my finger, "I can do that." I murmured. Though I would rather not, still, best way to get everything out in the open I suppose…
"I know, this human skin must be so bothersome."
"Alright, show time."
"You're going to go through with this?" Father asked, following me and Yuhalbis out of the quarters.
"Don't really have a choice do I?" I answered, "I'm the Empress of Time, these cults see me as their god. Whether I like it or not, I'm responsible for them. It's just their dumb luck that not one of them seems to be following the real me, just my more powerful Inner Demons. Remember Sacrosanct?" He cringed, "That's this cult." I finished.
"Empress, if I may be so bold…who is this man? He looks like he was once one of our dregs…" Yuhalbis asked.
"He's my father." I answered, "And he was."
"W-what!?" Yuhalbis stopped suddenly, staring at my father.
"Never bothered to look under that wig, didja?" I asked, continuing along.
Father pulled his wig off and pointed to his head, "She got the red hair from me." He said in a much stronger Irish accent than what he usually used, pulling the wig back on and looking amused at the expression on Yuhalbis's face.
When we arrived on the deck, most of the others were already there, looking at the three other enormous ships, one of them, the largest one, was so close to ours I could clearly see the Archmagistrate and the Bishop. The Archmagistrate, like both Jemal and Yuhalbis, wore a hood, but it was a very elaborately woven hood, and his dress was cleverly designed to both look good, and be maneuverable, with two blades at either hip. He also had, on his face, a black oni mask, and the reason for the design was revealed when I saw the woman beside him. The Bishop was a woman whose nationality I had no trouble in recognizing.
She wore a long, flowing kimono, black, but with red and gold designs and many skirts. Her black hair was very long, it reached all the way to the ground, and her eyes, also, were black. In her perfect black-polished nails there was a scepter whose golden topper clearly bore the backwards Hametsu character, which was tattooed upon the middle of her forehead, rather on the side of it.
She was Asian, and, if I wasn't mistaken, Japanese.
A pathway cleared immediately for Yuhalbis and I, I gestured for my father to hang back, and he didn't object. The prince was already there, but he stepped aside for me, knowing that it would not be a good idea for him to try assurting any authority here. While to the Persians I'm simply his consort, to these cultists, he's mine.
I saw the man lean down and murmur to the woman, though I could only See his lips move. It didn't take second sight to realize he was asking her if I was the one, if she was sure.
Instead of answering him, however, a small slow smile spread across her lips, and she turned in a flourish to the rest of the ships, saying in a loud, ringing voice, "Behold! The Empress of Time stands before you!!!"
The ship, as one, fell to their knees, those I could see anyway. "That's right." I called, "And who are you? Or do you expect me to find that out for myself?" I asked.
The woman turned, and gave me a small, encouraging smile, "There are many here that doubt me, though they will not say it aloud. For many years we have been following the Darkness, and now, now all our seers, all our prophets and prophetesses have been having visions of the same thing. That it is not the Empress of Time we have been serving, but another, unholy entity. Now doubt spreads across our order! Everything we have believed until now, all of our practices, we have suddenly discovered are false! We have not been serving you, Empress, but a dark, evil shadow! And many will not believe that is so. Our people, they need proof of something, Empress, give us something real, something to wipe away the doubt! Even if it brings us to our knees for the crimes we have committed against you!" She called to me.
"Yuuko!" I said, saying the woman's name, though no one had told it to me, "I do not claim to be a god." I said, "I am the Empress of Time, make no mistake, but the image you have been following is not altogether false. The name of your Empress is Sacrosanct, which is not my name at all! That is the name of an entity which resides inside of me, a darkness born from my own mind. A dark voice that many of this ship have heard already! I? I am Kaida Megowan! I was born a human, but I was not born the Empress of Time, nor was I the first Empress to walk this world!
"Still, it is my image that you follow, it is me whom you have worshiped all these years, I feel myself partially responsible for you and the crimes you have committed. But for the ways that you and your sister and brother sects have interpreted the many parts of my 'image'…I almost wish I had never come to this world. Only a few parts of your description of me are true. It is true, I am a warrior. It is true, I do command the power of an iron snake!" And here I unleashed the daggertail, and swung it around above my head a few times just to make sure they saw it, "But I value human life, I do not see reason in needless battle, in bloodshed, in the torturous ways you 'convert' the unwilling into your sects. The true Empress believes in freedom of choice, the true Empress believes that human beings have a right to life, to certain liberties, to think how they wish, to believe what they will! No one should be forced to believe in something that they do not want to!
"This ship committed crimes against me personally, but I am not angry because it was against me, I am angry because it was against their fellow human beings! How many children have your ships taken from their parents? How many parents have been forced to convert to your ways and beliefs by threat of their children's lives?!
"You want proof that I am what I say I am? Very well, I can give you proof! Your legends tell you that I bear the appearance of a god with black skin and the golden crest upon my back! That is only partially true, but true it is! Because this is not the body into which I found myself when I came to this world! Do you want to see that body? I can show you!" I said.
"I do want to see it, Empress. I, not to alleviate my doubt, but so that I can look upon the face of the Empress of Time, and see my true god!" She answered.
"I repeat, Yuuko, I do not claim to be a god, I am not a god! My enemy, I am afraid, is more powerful than I am." I said, and there were gasps and whispers all around me at this news, "I am no god, but I have come to believe that he is." I told her.
"Your enemy shall be dealt with! You are not alone, my Empress! You see!?" She swept around to include everyone from her ships as well as this one, "This, this is what why we are here! This is what our purpose is!!! Have the legends not said the Empress shall say herself her enemy is greater than she!? Is this not the true reason for our prowess in battle!? This is our chance for redemption! The Empress requires an army, and we are that army!!! Watch! She shall prove herself true to us, and we shall follow her words directly! No longer will you have to rely upon we prophets to discern the Empress's will! No longer shall we be led astray by the mistranslation of visions! Oh Empress!" She turned back to me, "Show us your face! Show us the face of that which the great Bishops before me have seen!"
And so I did. It was a dramatic transformation, even without the raising up and all that. Practically everyone could see me, and I was given a wide half-circle to transform in. I hoped that Aizira had informed the others so they wouldn't be so shocked, and that the crewmen of the prince's ship wouldn't be too terribly freaked out.
But it was about time for me to come out and reveal myself, and it felt good.
"Do you believe me now?" I asked in a loud, carrying voice that echoed in every mind, like rushing water or showering rain.
Again, it didn't take second sight to see that doubt had been erased from just about every mind with a performance like that.
"Zasalamel is likely to be gathering troops here in India to fight. I don't think he knows we're going to Egypt, he likely believes we're headed back to Persia, Zervan would have told him as much as he knew, which, I hope, isn't much so he could think we're going exactly where we are. I intend to contact the Black Rose Circle as soon as possible to get their help. In my dreams I've been seeing glimpses of India's army rising up, but no more than flashes. He knows who I am, he knows what I am, and he knows what I can do. I think he is somehow able to block my powers from Seeing whatever he's doing. The worst part is, he has the mate of this ring." I explained, showing Yuuko the One Ring on my finger. "Or rather, the copy. And that's not good. These rings are extremely powerful, they, like me, are from another world. They use to be one, and in their history, it nearly destroyed an entire world. It can create empires and destroy them as well. I had given the copy to the Maharja's daughter, Farah," I gestured, "To help her, but Zasalamel found it, and took it from her. I don't know that he'll be able to use it, it was safeguarded for Farah and Farah alone, it could destroy him, but he could also find a way to safeguard it himself, and use it, which is going to be a real pain in the butt for us."
"Tell me about it." Farah grumbled, "I felt like I almost had god-like powers myself when I wore that ring, and now that it's gone it's like I'm worse than mortal. Let's just hope he doesn't figure out the incantation to work it."
"Oh right, forgot about that. Hopefully we've got that safeguard and he hasn't found out…of course, he could also have been to the world in which it had come, though I doubt that. There are thousands of worlds out there, it's too much of a coincidence he could have seen the same one as Kaileena." I said.
"Kaileena?" Asked Yuuko.
"My predecessor, she, too, was from another world, and she had been traveling for a long time before she got stuck in this one." I explained.
"That seems to have become a sort of prerequisite for being the Empress of Time." The prince said with a small grin, "One, you have to be female. Two, you have to be from another world…"
"Three, you've got to be a stubborn, arrogant, blade-happy b(beep)!" I added cheerfully.
"You said it, not me." The prince told me swiftly.
"Aw crap, you're right, I can't get mad at you now! Darn it!" I said, huffily, "Anyway! Back to more serious matters. You should know that Zasalamel has been spreading rumors about me being the bad guy or what-not. It's likely that he knows me mostly by your version, which would mean he knows Sacrosanct, and is using that angle to get others to work against me. We met, face-to-face, however, and I doubt he can believe those legends now, but he's going to continue in that vein in order to discredit me." I explained.
"We shall alert the other sects about this, you say the Order of the All-Seeing Eye has records of your will? We shall find them and spread them all across the seas." Yuuko assured me, "But first, this Zasalamel. I have never heard of him, and when I try to search out the name, I get nothing. I believe you when you say he's guarded himself against Second Sight."
"Irritating, isn't it?" I asked.
She gave me a small, knowing smile, "Quite."
"We do have a number of Teleporters, Empress, spies that we can send to see what Zasalamel is up to." The Archmagistrate, Klossau, told me.
I bit my lip, "It would be a good idea," The prince told me, "Right now, we're completely in the dark about what he's doing." He added, sensing my trepidation.
"Tell them that under no circumstances are they to get anywhere near Zasalamel himself, and at the first sign that he realizes they're there, to come right back with whatever information they've gathered. Send three if you can spare them, and make sure they know that all they're doing is gathering information, and if I find out they've hurt someone to do it, there will be hell to pay." I told Klossau, who bowed is accent.
"Hang on," Farah said, "Why don't you let them kill Zervan while they're at it?" She asked.
"Good idea, Zasalamel could be using Zervan's connections as a tool, it'd be best if we got rid of him." I said.
"I'll put my best men and women on the job." The Archmagistrate promised.
"We'll also send teleporters with messages to the Black Rose Circle, telling them to expect your arrival." Yuuko put in, and Klossau nodded his approval.
"Very well then." I said, and I turned to the others. "I don't know how long we'll be in Egypt, it's likely that we're going to have to turn right back around and head for Persia again. But I'd like to make sure the Pharaoh at least knows what's going on." I said.
"Empress, perhaps you should know…" Yuuko began, "The Seers which told us of you from the beginning, they originated from Egypt, and the Egyptians, they worship you, whether they realize it or not, as Ishtar, the Goddess of War. Many others have adopted their beliefs over the centuries, and the Queen will undoubtedly reveal to the Egyptians that you are, in fact, their goddess Ishtar. The Egyptians will want to serve you as we serve you." She explained.
"Ishtar?" I asked slowly, "I'm Ishtar!? You're serious!?" I practically demanded, throwing my hands into the air, "Wonderful! Good gods! At least I'm not Osiris!!!" I exclaimed.
The prince actually started snickering, "It's just one thing after another, isn't it?"
"I swear, if the Greeks have me as Athena or something, that's it, I quit!" I said.
"Who's Athena?" Asked Aizira.
"Greek goddess of wisdom, said to have come out of Zeus's head." I answered.
"Ew." She said, cringing.
"I know, right?" I sighed, running my fingers through my hair. "I guess the best thing would be to use this to our advantage, either that or stick with the Empress of Time bit and say that I'm not Ishtar, because it'd be easier to convince these people that I'm not a god that way." I said.
"We might also be about to avoid a bit of mess that way." The prince agreed.
"Empress, Archmagistrate, Bishop!" Exclaimed a messenger, bursting into the room, "We have just arrived at the coast of Egypt! An entire army has assembled there! They look prepared to fight, what are your orders?" He asked.
"Fight? What for!?" I exclaimed.
"Is it possible Zasalamel sent his own teleporter to tell them something to make them act against us?" Asked the prince.
"It is, unfortunately." I growled, rubbing my forehead. "Do not attack!" I told the messenger, "Find out why they're so hostile, it could just be because these ships make it look like we're hostile." I said, and he bowed low and left to do my bidding. I turned to the others, "This is getting extremely dangerous, so I'm going to have Sabrielle take Father and Kassima away to an island for their safety. If any of you want to join them until all of this is over with, I won't stop you." I said.
"The crewmen may take you up on that offer, or rather, they'll want to be sent home." Orzan told me, "But I will stand beside you as the future Queen of Persia, just as I will stand beside my prince."
"The fact that I'm with you goes without saying." The prince told me.
"Same here." Said Keilic.
"My people are involved in this, there is no way that I'm going to back down. I'm going to see this through!" Farah declared.
"What about you two?" I asked, turning to Aizira and Alzik, "It isn't as though either of you are really apart of this, if you stay, I don't know that there'll be another chance for you to back out." I told them.
"We had the chance to back out a long time ago, but we chose to stay with you." Aizira told me, "I'm not leaving, you can't get rid of me that easily." She said with a grin. I turned to Alzik.
"You're like family to us now," Alzik told me, putting a hand on Aizira's shoulder, "And families stick together. I'm not leaving either."
I found myself smiling warmly at them. "Thank you," I murmured, "Thank you all."
As the 7 of us reached the deck, the third chapter of my life draws to a close, and the fourth and final chapter opens up. The path ahead is a difficult and dangerous one, one filled with shadows and the unknown. What is Zasalamel planning? What, exactly, is going on here? And why is it all connected to me?
I feel as though a spotlight has been put on me, but I guess I should have expected something like this to happen.
It wasn't just on a whim that Sacrosanct drug me into this world, there was a purpose, there was a plan. What that plan is, I don't know. Why it is in this world, I don't know. What I do know is that none of this has been happening by pure coincidence. Perhaps it was Zasalamel who brought me into this world through Sacrosanct, but whatever's going on, I'm going to stop it.
Whatever my fate is, whatever is going to happen that I cannot See, whatever it is that Sacrosanct is hiding from me, I will defy it. I know I'm not a god, but Kage is right, I'm close enough.
I will change my fate.
Rhea: THE END!!! Well, of THIS story anyway.
Kioko: That one went on for a while…
Rhea: The next one may or may not be longer, I don't know, but before we go on I should reiterate that I will be taking a break after this, how long? I don't know. Check back in about two weeks at least, but once Dark Dreams 4 comes out, I'll be going back to an update a day, and perhaps two updates a day here and there depending on how fast I'm able to write the chapters! So there'll be a wait, but hopefully it'll be worth it!
Kaida: This whole thing has turned into a monster…
Rhea: What's more, I've actually been working off and on on another Dark Dreams…what I mean to say is, that I've been working on an original version of Dark Dreams, one that doesn't technically involve Prince of Persia (Though some similarities may pop up…) The problem is I usually can't finish original works because I don't post them on the internet, and therefore have no one reviewing to help me keep my but in gear, and you have to finish something before you can even think about publishing it, right? Sigh, well if it does get published, you guys will be the first to know! XD. Still, I like Kaida's character and I have enough original stuff in here that I think I can pull it off.
Kage: Would I be in it?
Rhea: If I can figure out a way to stick you in there without getting sued!!!
Rhea: Things will be getting pretty screwy in the next story, and I'm going to do an FAQ because there are a lot of questions in this chapter that I'm just not going to answer right now. However, I've been doing some planning and there'll probably be a few crossovers to other PoP Fanfics, IF I can get permission from their authors. I know General Tommy has already given me permission to use his character, but perhaps I can get permission from some of the rest of you (big pathetic puppy-dog eyes), pweeeeeeeeese?! Lol. You guys feel free to drop me a few messages to make sure I keep my but in gear and get the next part of Dark Dreams up and going! See you all in the next one, Ja ne!!!