A/N: This is the first story in a set of four one-shots I am doing, each one focusing on a different turtle. The four stories will not be posted together, here. Each one will also serve as a stand-alone.
For reference, (and hopefully to avoid confusion) my TMNT stories all take place in a big ole mix of the comic, new cartoon and movie 'verses. This one is a slightly AU, CGI movie-verse where the events are crammed in between Leonardo's coming back from Central America and the Foot Clan being hired by Max Winters.
Rated for suggestive material and violence.
You may be surprised that I am writing you; I, a sworn enemy, by virtue of the sigil I wear and the master I bow to. But the time has come when the need for your attention transgresses all boundaries of "friend" and "enemy." I am both. I am neither. I am your all. Together, we will set right all what has been made wrong, for our destinies are bound more tightly than you could ever know.
That is why I write--to teach you, to awaken your eternal warrior spirit to mine. We are joined, my love--in mind, soul, and soon, body. I know this. I have known this for many months, when your family and mine clashed on a rooftop in the moonlight. I saw you standing there, proud and noble and beautiful. Even as the blood was spilled--ribbons of black in the dark--I knew then that you were a missing piece in this life of mine that is full of holes.
And though these words are written in a hand you have never seen or held or pressed to your cheek, I think you will find them familiar. You will recognize your soul's twin in something as small as the sweep of my pen, and then you will know what I already discovered. You, keen as you are, might have heard my call sooner--a weeping lament in the night that went unanswered until now. But you have been distracted by conflicts, by duties, and by the ceaseless demands of your dishonorable family.
I forgive you.
But time is short. There is much to be done if we are to eliminate all the obstacles that stand in our way. There are those who are ignorant to our destiny and would seek to stop us. Your brothers are your boon, my sensei is mine. But if you do as I say, love, they will soon prove mute and helpless against the perfect union that is us. When we have carried out my plan, you and I will be joined, in this life and the next, the way we were meant to be.
I am Odori Doku of the Foot clan, and you, my cherished Leonardo, belong to me.
The moon was obscured by the heavy, blackened clouds that hung in the night sky. It was difficult to see how many ninja filled Karai's ranks but Leonardo guessed more than twenty. They stood stock still, dressed head to toe in black, the silver mesh eyes on their masks the only defined element about them. To Leonardo, they looked like a small army of shadowy aliens, just landed on the rooftop of this deserted building. His fingers itched for his katana, but he kept his hands at his sides, even when Karai and two guards broke from the group and took three steps towards him.
Michelangelo and Donatello flanked their leader, while Raphael lurked somewhere behind. Leonardo silently begged his impulsive brother to remain still as Karia approached.
The wind, damp and cold, howled over them, whipping the black silk of Karai's hair about her. She paid no attention, but kept her brilliant eyes locked on Leonardo's. He did the same, not daring to blink, hardly daring to breathe. The turtle sensed the tension in the icy air, as though chaos would erupt in the ranks of ninja on both sides at the slightest provocation.
After a moment Karai broke the stillness with a short bow to Leonardo, her eyes never leaving his.
"You are not well met this night, Leonardo-san," she said, her low, smooth voice--the soft rasp of the finest silk over rice paper--carried to him on the frigid wind. "I had hoped that we might conclude our business without interference from you."
"Sorry to disappoint," Leonardo said, "but I'm sure you're not surprised."
The smallest hint of a smile softened the hard, precise lines of Karai's face for an instant and then was gone again. "I am not," she conceded. "But I am not willing to let go my prize, either. I want this." She tapped her foot on the stone beneath them.
"You can't have it," Leonardo replied simply.
"It is unoccupied," Karia returned. "There is no harm--"
"There is plenty of harm in the Foot setting up another stronghold," Leonardo cut in, his voice sharp. He crossed his arms over his plastron. "You'll just have to go somewhere else."
"Somewhere else," Karai mused. "And when we arrive at this 'somewhere else' should I expect you?"
Leonardo smiled grimly. "You should."
Karai returned the smile and Leonardo's focused wavered for a moment. "And what if, Leonardo-san, I were to tell you that even as we speak, my Foot are infiltrating the first floor of this construction?"
Leonardo made a gesture. Donatello stepped forward. "I made replicas of little explosives and have hidden them throughout the building," he said. "If you don't vacate the premises, I'm going to call in a bomb threat. You'd be overrun with cops in...oh, about five minutes."
Karai's stony expression hardened and her smile vanished. She looked upon Donatello as though he were a bug to be squashed beneath her foot. With an imperious, dismissive nod of her head, she turned back to Leonardo.
"You would risk a battle and the loss of civilian lives?"
Leonardo shrugged. "You would risk exposure? Not to mention, they have guns. And bullets." His voice softened. "You could not hope to survive if things turned ugly."
Karai narrowed her eyes at him for a moment, and then that smile returned. "Your concern is touching."
Leonardo straightened. "Not concern, just fair warning."
"Ah yes, you are nothing if not honorable."
Leonardo made to reply when Raphael said in a low, warning tone, "Leo...Less talk, more fight."
But Karai was already turning away. "Until next time, Leonardo-san." She nodded her head to him. He did the same and watched as she returned to her Foot.
"We'll have to watch this building," Leonardo told his brothers as the wave of Foot ninjas spilled over the rooftop and vanished. Neither he, nor any of his brothers, notice a female Foot lingering in the dark at the far corner of the rooftop. "She'll try again."
"Yeah, and wouldn't you just like that!" Michelangelo teased, chucking his brother on the arm. He affected a high-pitched voice. "Ohhh, Leonardo-san, you're so honorable. No, youare Karai my darling! No you! Nooo, you!" He made kissy noises until Donatello thumped him on the head with his bo.
"She likes the game," Leonardo said, "and nothing more."
"Uh huh," Michelangelo laughed. "That's not all she likes. And that's not all who likes her...OW! Cut it out, Don!"
"What a waste." Raphael groused, shaking his head. "We had them--had her--right there and we let'em go."
"The time will come, I'm afraid, when we will have to tangle with them. She's not going to give up so easily." Leonardo sighed, his gaze lingering on the dark space where Karai had vanished from the roof. "Come on, let's get home."
The turtles, Michelangelo still taunting and Donatello still scolding, left the rooftops, their voices carrying on the cold wind. It wasn't until the sounds of their banter faded away altogether, did the female Foot ninja slip from her shadowy niche where she had lurked, and slink away.
"Odori Doku, step forward."
The young woman, her head low so that her tangled black hair fell over her face, rose from her kneeling position on the floor. She took tiny steps and kept her eyes on the ground, her back bent in submission. The dragon design painted on the floor passed beneath her feet. If only it could swallow me whole, she thought. Swallow me, O dragon, and I will sleep in the fiery pit of your entrails for all eternity...
"Look at me."
The young woman raised her head, focused her hollow eyes on the figure before her. Karai sat in a gold-tinted throne, the mark of the Foot clan behind her in rich onyx. False queen! Odori thought. I would spit before I would bow to you!
Karai's eyes were chips of glass. Odori bowed.
"Do you know why you are here?"
"No, my lady."
Karai shifted in her seat, a mark of irritability. "Has your lack of focus, the distracted manner in which you carry out tasks assigned to you...have these escaped your notice?"
I am focused, Karai. And the object of my attention is far more worthy than you. "I suppose so, my lady. I am sorry." She bowed her head, letting the curtain of her hair fall over her face.
There was a silence and Odori could feel Karai's gaze trying to penetrate her shield. "Why were you late coming in last night?" Karai demanded suddenly.
"I...I do not know what--"
"From our meeting with the brothers," Karai snapped. "Why were you late?"
Because my eyes were parched and needed to drink in the beauty of his form. "I had thought perhaps if I lingered, I might learn something of their plans."
Karai snorted indelicately. "And did you?"
Odori raised her head and met the other woman's eye. "If I had, my lady, I would have reported it to you at once." It is a lie, my love. I would never betray you to her. Never!
The fine lines and angles of Karai's face turned stony, her eyes black. After a moment, she fluttered the white dove of her hand in dismissal. "Off then. And if you're late to check in again, I'll use your hide to sharpen my blade. Understood?"
You will bleed before me, Karai. You will bleed bleed bleed...Odori nodded and bowed low before walking backwards out of the chamber.
"You don't believe her," said Yukihiro, Karai's second, and a lean, tightly muscled man. He emerged from the shadows behind her. "And yet you let her go. Why?"
"She is already trapped in my web," Karai said. "There is advantage in that she does not know it."
"She could be traitorous. Perhaps she parlays with the turtle spawn?"
Yukihiro frowned. "I will tell you this, lady, there is talk that she is mad. I had heard she had become...fascinated with one of the ninja. She followed him everywhere for two weeks, always staring. He laughed it off until he awoke one night to find her in his dorm, cutting off a lock of his hair."
"I have heard that story, and I will not tolerate such weakness among my Foot." Karai's fingers trailed over the delicate line of her chin. "Watch her, Yuki-san. Have her followed, but do not let her see. If she does parlay with the turtles, let her do so and then question her."
Yukihiro fingered the tanto at his waist. "Yes, my lady. With pleasure."
There are many obstacles that stand in our way and must be destroyed before we can be joined. The success of my plan not only depends upon it, but requires it as well. All whom we think we love, all whom we have been fooled into honoring, and everything that we feel ourselves bound to must be destroyed. Perhaps you will think that yours is the larger, more painful of the two sacrifices we each must make. It may be, for your loyalty and honor have been twisted and perverted while in the service of your unworthy brothers.
But there is another I would see destroyed first. Another to whom you have given your allegiance, if not in word and deed, then in heart. Another who must perish in a fog of agony so deep, her screams will reverberate throughout time...a wail of pain without end that even the gods cannot silence.
I spit the word.
Yes, I know of you and she. I know that you are tempted by her, that your thoughts are filled with her and so you have failed to recognize your true destiny. She is the clouds that obscure the sun of me. She is the fog that conceals the road to harmony that is me. She is the seductive whore that distracts you from the perfect womanly form that is me.
Do not deny it! Even the densest of your brothers can see it. I see it! I see how your eyes grow soft when they look at Karai. I hear the smallest of tremors in your voice when you speak her name. And I see how your fingers tremble ever so slightly in her presence, as though they long to touch her. I would cut off those fingers before you could soil them on her dishonorable hide and you would thank me for it!
But I do not blame you anymore than I could blame a blind man for not seeing the glory of the rising sun. Once, I too, worshipped her, bowed to her. I have spilled by blood for her and would have emptied my veins had she asked. Once. Now my eyes are open. She is a poison, a vapor, a blight. She seeks to corrupt your purity, to stain your honorable soul with her sticky ink. I will save you, my love, from dipping your quill into such a blackened, decayed well. I will salvage your heart before it can fall into her hands to be crushed. After all, you belong to me. Your heart is mine even in the absence of me, for when you read this, your eyes will be opened and you will be saved. It must be so. I cannot have you seek comfort from this imposter-whore after the first pain of your brothers' deaths bites you.
It is I who will cleanse and bathe your wounds, not her. Not ever her.
So it falls to me to take care of the poison. That is my sacrifice. I will end her and you will see that your feelings for her were only a symptom of the sickness she creates in others. I broke free of it. You shall too. And you will thank me for it, in time.
Michelangelo made the six foot jump between buildings and landed roughly on his feet. Immediately, he bent over, wheezing for breath. He made a T with his hands. "Whoa, time out. Seriously, dude...Give a guy a break. I'm wiped."
Donatello, leaning heavily on his bo staff nodded. "Yeah, Leo. Let's take five, eh? We've been at this for nearly an hour."
Raphael, sitting on his heels nearby, said nothing but the exhaustion was written in every slumped line of his body.
Leonardo stood at the lip of the rooftop, hands on his hips, his eyes scanning the cityscape. If he was out of breath, he didn't show it. "All right. Five minutes, but that's all. A true ninja is able to push his body beyond the limits of fatigue when duty calls. So must we."
"So speaketh Splinter Junior," Raphael muttered. Michelangelo snickered.
"Laugh all you want," Leonardo said, his back still turned, his voice low. "But when the time comes to battle the Foot again, I plan to be ready."
"I was born ready," Raphael said, unsheathing his sais and spinning them deftly around his wrists for effect.
"Oh, please stop!" Michelangelo whimpered in a mock-frightened voice. "You're scaring me."
Raphael kicked some dirt at his little brother.
Donatello chuckled then cleared his throat. "Ahem. Uh, Leo's right. I think Karai isn't going to sit on her hands for very long. If she doesn't get what she wants, she's going to try to take it."
"Let her try."
"It's not that simple, Raph," Leonardo said, turning around. "I want to avoid a full-blown conflict, if we can. I don't want--"
"Why?" Raphael demanded. "Are you afraid? Or maybe Mikey's right about you and Karai."
Leonardo stiffened. "Or maybe I'd prefer we didn't go to war with the Foot again. I don't know about you, but I kind of like where we live now."
"Well, it's sure nice to know you have such faith in us, Leo," Raphael said. "I don't know about you," he said, his voice dripping with sarcasm, "but I kind of think if we tangled with the Foot again, we'd win. But that's just me. You're the leader."
Michelangelo and Donatello didn't move, but only watched the exchange between their brothers in uncomfortable silence.
"I have faith in us," Leonardo said, obviously struggling to maintain his composure. "But I sense in Karai that we can talk to her, we can avoid bloodshed. And if that's true, I want to try that first."
"Talkto Karai?" Raphael spat. "After what she's done to us...? You mustbe in love." He turned to the others. "Are you hearin' this? Gandhi over here--"
With impossible speed, Leonardo was across the rooftop, katana flashing in silver arcs. Before he knew what hit him, Raphael was on his back, his sais skittering across the pavement, the tip of a katana leveled at his neck.
"You think you're ready?" Leonardo seethed at his brother who could only stare at him in disbelief. "You think you don't need the practice or the training? Because obviously you do. We all do." He eased up and Raphael knocked the blade away. He rolled to his feet, wearing what Michelangelo called his 'death glare.' Leonardo looked at each of his brothers. "I believe in us. But I want to be ready. Understand?"
"Sure thing, bro."
All eyes turned to Raphael. He said nothing but picked up his sais, jammed them into his belt. "I understand, all right. You came back from wherever the hell you went and forgot to bring your backbone."
The brothers watched him slip off the rooftop and vanish into the night without a sound.
"Uh...don't mind him," Michelangelo said. "He's been in a bad mood since...well, since always, actually," he chuckled.
Leonardo didn't crack a smile. "Come on," he said. "Let's call it a night."
Odori Doku, crouched amid a pair of rusted barrels, waited until the figures disappeared into the night before doing the same.
I understand that my plan may cause you pain. You have been duped into pledging your loyalty and love to a trio of ungrateful, unworthy dogs. I have seen how they berate you and make light of your leadership! I have heard the whining, childish reluctance that meets your commands. How dare they! Especially the violent one. I would slit his throat and bathe in his blood, laughing all the while. It would give me great joy to end his miserable, disrespectful life. I am certain, dearest love, you will find his flesh the easiest to sink your blade into. As for the others...
The youngest is a simpleton, though that does not excuse his lack of respect for your authority. I pity him more than anything, for never in his deepest imaginings could he attain your honor nor deserve the reverence you deserve His death will likely stir in your kind heart a grief born of nostalgia and a memory of happier times when the four of you frolicked as children. Let it go. Let him go, for one such as he does not merit more than a fleeting regard.
The other, the gentle one, will pain you the most, I think. He is the rock you lay your back to, and the solid ground beneath your feet. I see this. Of all of them, he is the only one whom I would mourn with you...for a time. For all his integrity, his heart is not as pure as yours. His soul is not the noble dragon, but a loyal hare--keen and quick, but whose passing will bite and sting much harder and longer than any other.
But that is why I am here, my love. I will comfort you and kiss away your tears. The iron of your heart and soul will be tempered again and emerge from the fire of that violence all the stronger. And I shall be proud to stand at your side for it will be then that our future can begin, pure and clean as shining steel...
"Happy now, Raph?" Donatello muttered, ducking as the silver arc of a chigiriki sailed over his head. He thrust his bo upward and let the morning star wrap around it like a tether ball. His opponent lashed out with a fast kick, but Donatello blocked it, yanked the chigiriki out of his hands and brought his bo down on the Foot ninja's head with a sharp crack.
"Yeah, actually, I am," Raphael replied. Sais a silver blur, he bested one Foot and then turned in time to see another leap down at him from a utility shack. He grunted as twin kama blades sliced the air, clashing between the prongs of his sai with a metallic shing! Raphael thrust his hands upward, exposing the abdomen of his enemy. The air whooshed out of the Foot as Raphael delivered a punishing sidekick to his stomach. "This is what I'm talkin' about!" the turtle exclaimed. "All right, who's next?"
The rooftop was overrun with Foot; Raphael's challenge was quickly taken up.
"So I take it the talking didn't work, eh?" Michelangelo laughed. His nunchaku were a dizzying blur around him, fending off multiple attacks from a half-dozen different sources.
"Save your breath," Leonardo replied, his own katana clashing with weapon and flesh alike. "We're outnumbered at least ten to one." He cursed and shook his head, divesting a Foot ninja of his sword and then his life. Such a waste. It didn't have to come to this. Through the blur of battle and the chaos of the black-clad Foot swarming the rooftop, Leonardo could see the slender form of Karai standing tall and dark against the city at the roof's edge. This is nothing to her. A warning to let us know she's willing to shed blood to prove her strength. It disgusted him. The growing ring of dead ninja at his and his brothers' feet was a meaningless sacrifice. Karai must have known the turtles would not be beaten even under such odds, despite his warning to Michelangelo. She is testing us, testing me...and I fell right into her trap.
Leonardo was momentarily slowed by his thoughts. The sharp pain of a sword slicing the thick muscle of his shoulder brought him around again. The number of Foot had dwindled and now Leonardo faced only one opponent-- a woman, judging by the curved shape under the black uniform. Her short sword cleaved the air, this time at a level with his head. But the strike was slow and the turtle easily dodged. He crouched low and swung his katana in two parallel arcs, drawing them both across the Foot ninja's back as she tried to recover from her own missed blow. His swords bit into her flesh, and Leonardo immediately pulled back, rendering the wounds shallow. No more death tonight, Karai. Enough.
The Foot arched her back in pain and Leonardo took advantage of such an unprotected stance. He grabbed her around her throat and laid her flat on the ground, his katana at her neck.
"It ends now, Karai," Leonardo called. "Call off the rest of your Foot and I'll spare this one." He made a cutting gesture with his free hand and his brothers ceased their own battles--much to the relief of their battered opponents.
Karai's laughter cut the night air. "Fair enough, Leonardo-san. I see you will not leave this battle without some noble offering." Her voice became cold as steel. "But the damage is done; this skirmish is proof of your non-cooperation. Any truce we may have had is broken."
"We had no stinkin' truce," Raphael growled. "Not now, not ever."
The dark silhouette of Karai raised a closed fist and the Foot on the rooftop that were still able to walk slunk away from the turtles and vanished, albeit slowly, over the side of the building. "So be it," she intoned. "Until next time, Leonardo-san," she said, and the distance between them did not entirely conceal the tinge of regret that colored her words.
With a tired sigh, Leonardo offered his hand to the ninja at his feet, helping her to stand. "Go. Get out of here."
The Foot nodded her head once, her hand lingering in his before he let go. Slowly, she backed away from him to join her clan, the tears in her eyes absorbed by the soft material of her mask, her murmured words lost in the black fabric...
Our first night together will be perfect.
If you'll indulge a silly girl her fantasies, I will share it with you. I think you may laugh for there are elements to my story you may find familiar.
Our blades meet and sing in that perfect song of steel against steel. Your skill is overwhelming and it is clear you will easily best me, especially since I temper my own blows, intentionally slowing them down so that should any bite home, they will not cause you great harm. For I know who you are, but who I am remains a mystery to you. I don't blame you, my mask conceals my identity...for now.
Your thoughts master you for the smallest of moments and my sword finds your flesh. It pains me nearly as much as you, I swear. And since I would not have you see me as weak or stupid, I take advantage of the hole in your defenses. My sword comes for your neck but of course, my love, it is a slow strike and one you easily defend.
And then comes the ecstasy...your twin blades slide across my flesh, leaving two glorious trails of rent flesh and blood. The pain is exquisite, much the same as the bliss I create on my own, although my little blades are nothing compared to your katana, wielded by your gentle hand.
The bliss is mulitplied a thousandfold when you sense your mistake...Your blades do not bite as deep as they could, you realize I am no simple Foot, but something else...something so much more.
The chaos around us becomes distant and unimportant. You stand before me, your mouth ajar, your eyes searching, trying to penetrate the mask I wear and see the face of your destiny. Slowly, with trembling hands, you remove it and your eyes widen in recognition. I can only smile and nod, and then collapse as my injuries steal my energy. Deftly, you catch my limp form and without a moment's hesitation, we're flying from the battle, the rooftop, and Karai...she who is too far away to do anything but watch helplessly as you carry me away.
You take me to some secret room, some apartment in an abandonded building, perhaps. A place that is only yours, one that you created to get escape the tedium of your family. It is small and dark and warm. You lay me on a well-worn couch that smells of you, and light a candle.
"I will bathe your wounds," you say, and the tremor in your voice is so noble and yet so endearingly innocent, I can only smile.
You undress me and clean the red rents in my pale skin gently, with reverence. And when you are finished, there is no question as to what will happen next; our joining is inevitable. I draw you to me, hold you close to me, and revel in the ecstasy that comes when a destiny is fulfilled as completely as ours is this night. We are fervent and eager, desperate to satiate the hunger that threatened each of us: the hunger that consumed me and would have left me a hollow shell if not for you. The hunger that had lurked in your soul, unseen, draining your spirit away...until me.
My wounds are reopened in our lustful dance and my blood taints your skin. In the purest moment of bliss, you become mine fully, and the plans I have laid out for us become clear to you. You understand at last why those that stand before us must be destroyed. The fire in your eyes turns dangerous and, stained in my warpaint, you leave me to fulfill that ancient dream that is us.
I cannot see their deaths, but I feel them. I know what happened as surely as if I were standing beside you, my love...
Your skills have always been unparalleled; your silence is complete. The youngest wakes long enough to feel the first pain and see the face of his destroyer. The betrayal shocks him, consumes him before he can even think of acting, and by then, it is far too late.
The gentle one is next and my dream-vision is blurred briefly with tears. Not for him, but for you. I know what this one means to you and so when your blade bites home, when you stifle your own cry of pain, I know precisely what you have sacrificed for us. He does not wake, you do not let him. He sleeps...and then he sleeps.
The last one, the violent one, does not go without a fight. That is to be expected. The bond between your brothers is strong, and even one as crude as he feels their passing. He wakes a second before your sword ends him. He scrambles for his weapons, his eyes at once filled with shock and then anger. But he is too late. You are over him, your katana comes down and he, weaponless, must defend with his arm. Your blade bites deep, and deeper still as you press your weight against him.
His scream is delicious to me.
He strikes you with his free hand, a close-fisted blow that would have felled a lesser one than you. You hardly feel it.
"Why?" he asks, still struggling but seeing the end come round the corner.
"My eyes are open," you say...and then you steal the light out of his.
His passing was the last fire of your tempering. You are now ready. You return to me stronger, cleaner, your dragon spirit purified and soaring. I am waiting.
Only one obstacle remains but I have upheld my promise and made my sacrifice. You struck with steal, I with fire. You stand beside me, unflinching as the explosions light up the night, consuming cement and steel and flesh and blood...and the Foot. Together, we watch as the flames roar high and fierce, drowning the screams of the dead and dying inside the great inferno. But for one.
Karai's agony is loud and long, and neither of us can help but smile at the music of it.
And then it is over and you and I, my love, are free.
She is roused from her sleep by rough hands yanking her from her bed. The twin wounds left by Leonardo's blades scream, and then she screams with them. She struggles and through the tangle of her hair, she sees other Foot tearing apart her small room, hears the sounds of her meager possessions being overturned. Drawers are emptied, papers found and taken up, and she helpless to do more than hang limply between the arms of her captors. The letter, the precious letter, is being stolen from its niche, and the sacred lines meant for his eyes only are being carelessly devoured by another. The violation is almost unbearable.
And then it is over. She knows this even without seeing the letter thrust into a bag, a prisoner to be dragged and ravaged again, this time by Karai. I tried, my love. I tried...
"Karai wanted to show you mercy," says one Foot, his face carefully obscured by his mask. "But your little explosives were found. There is no mercy for such treason. Do you understand this?"
She sees the gleam of a blade flash in the ninja's hands, she hears another murmuring the prayer spoken for those about to greet the gods. I will make you proud, my love, she thinks, holding her head up high. I will meet my end as you would have.
The blade flashes.
Her nightclothes are awash in something wet and warm, and the sensation of being cleansed comes over her. She smiles.
In this life, Leonardo...or the next...
"It is done."
"Thank you, Yukihiro," Karai said, her eyes on the letter in her hands.
The man shook his head. "Quite a waste of time and training." Then he chuckled. "Tell me, was she at least a good writer?"
I see how your eyes grow soft when they look at Karai. I hear the smallest of tremors in your voice when you speak her name. And I see how your fingers tremble ever so slightly in her presence, as though they long to touch her...
Karai smiled softly. "She showed promise."
My love, there is a great possibility that all I have planned for us will never come to be. I know this and am helpless for it.
At times, my mind is like a riderless chariot, bolting and careening in chaotic, patternless surges, and I am dragged, helpless, behind. My thoughts, at times, are like falling stars: bright and brilliant but transient. They are gone before I can catch hold of them; they slip from my mind and are lost to me, with only faint trails behind my eyes to mark their passing. It is to these, I hold on...the reins of my rampaging imagination, and the fading light of my thoughts. I am not always successful. Sometimes that riderless chariot collides with those who are stronger, who are upright and in control. It is at these times, my deepest desires are spilled like blood and trampled on by laughing, merciless feet.
I fear this may happen, my dearest, before we can be joined. It is possible that this letter, written as much with my heart and blood as with ink, never finds you.
And while that thought brings me great pain, I have solace too. I know that our bond is stronger than paper or sword or the evil intentions of those who are tougher than me...those whose chariots never veer from their course, who never show weakness or let it live in others. But in their brutality lies their weakness. Their souls are rough and crude and will never feel or see the exquisite promise that lives between every breath, every blink of an eye, every beat of our fragile hearts.
My solace is that we will meet again, my darling Leonardo, for I have felt it. I know we will have another chance. Won't we?
Surely the gods cannot be so cruel to me for so long.
I pray they are not.