Main Story, Chapter 5
Obsidian had gone directly to the throne room after locking Kira in the dungeon. He would have begun the ceremony immediately, but his journey had taken less than an hour and he still had to wait on the squad bringing Seth in from the gypsy settlement. Based on the time it had taken the messenger to arrive and the time it had taken him to retrieve Kira, Seth would arrive in another hour or so. Then he could begin. But until then, Kira could sit and mope in the cell, bemoaning the loss of her precious Caden and her inability to stop Obsidian from becoming all that he could become. Obsidian would have to be careful, though; any lapse in concentration, any flood of emotion, could distract him and cause him to lose the goal he’d set about so meticulously pursuing. It was almost within his grasp, and all he had to do was stay focused until he had completed his mission. So he’d settled to pacing back and forth to ease his mind and pass the time. He had ordered the guards on the city’s outer walls to send a messenger in the moment the squad was sighted. He could go down into the dungeons and gloat over Kira, but he had no desire to do so, and didn’t need to listen to her whining about his ‘evil actions’, so he simply paced back and forth in the throne room, letting the solitude of the giant room and the beauty of the light from the stain glass windows send waves of calm over his energized spirit.
Finally the long-awaited knock came on the massive, wooden doors to the throne room. The messenger entered and quickly kneeled before Obsidian, his chin resting on his chest. Obsidian tapped him on the shoulder and he looked up.
“The squad was sighted off the western walls, as expected, my lord. They bring the elf Seth prisoner, as promised.”
“Excellent.” Obsidian said. “Now go to the dungeons, and have the guards bring the Lock to this room. Tell them to be ready to bring the Key to me, but not until I send for her.”
“Yes, my lord.” the messenger said, rising and silently leaving the room. Obsidian stood and listened to the reverberations from the doors being shut dampen into silence. Then he resumed his pacing. His goal was so close, moments away even. He really needed to calm himself down.
Kira had fallen onto the cell’s floor, and hadn’t gotten up. She lay there, silently at first, then had cried for a moment, remembering how Obsidian had taken Caden from her again. She thought about how many had already died because of her: her parents, Caden, Landon, and who knew how many more during Obsidian’s revolution. And all had died because she was the third Key. She cried some more, then sat up and brushed the tears from her eyes. Caden’s training was coming back: to remain strong in the face of danger, and to fight with all she had, were two of the principles Caden had taught her. She wouldn’t let Obsidian break her; she resolved to fight him as much as possible. She pulled out the note that Caden had given her before he died, again. She wiped away the fresh tears that sprang up, and gently unfolded it. It was a small piece of paper, with one sentence written on it: “The eyes are the window into the soul.” She turned it over, but there was nothing written on the backside, just that one sentence that Caden had thought important enough to give her. She scooted over to the wall and let her back rest against it as she scrutinized the note, trying to find some hidden meaning in the message. Eventually she folded the note back up and slid it into her pocket. She rested her head against the wall, and after a few moments fell asleep.
When she woke up, she had no idea what time it was. She wasn’t sure what had woken her up, then she heard it again: the soft scraping of metal on metal. She sat up, and stared silently as the door to the cell swung open. The warden, his entire person grimy, stood with his hand on the key, and a pair of guards stood behind him, hands on their spears.
“It’s time.” one of the guards said, motioning her out of the cell. She folded her arms around her knees and shook her head no.
The guard sighed heavily. “Please, just cooperate. I really don’t want to have to drag you if I don’t have to.” Kira just sat and shook her head no again. “Please.” the guard said, his voice pleading. Kira looked up, surprised at the genuine emotion in his voice. “If you don’t walk,” the guard explained. “I am ordered drag you the entire way by your hair.” Kira heard what he said, but her attention was drawn to the strange vision she was seeing as she looked into his eyes. She wasn’t sure how, but she could see that the guard really didn’t want to cruelly drag her as ordered, but would follow his orders if he had to. She was seeing into his heart, she realized, and wondered if that was what Caden’s note meant, and if he knew she could see this way.
“Fine.” she said, standing up. “I’ll go, but I won’t do whatever it is Obsidian wants me to.”
“I truly hope so.” the second guard said, securing her in the shackles he held. He smiled apologetically and said, “Sorry, Obsidian’s orders.”
“I know.” Kira said quietly, following them out of the dungeon. They walked up several flights of stairs at the end of the hallway until they reached the main level of the palace. The guards were joined by four more soldiers, each with a sword drawn.
“Obsidian’s not taking any chances.” the leader of the new group said, his tone revealing his annoyance. “He thinks she can still escape.” he commented dryly to the first guard as they walked towards the giant wooden doors that led into the throne room.
“Well, I’d like to see her try.” the second guard said, smirking, as the doorkeepers opened the doors to admit them. In the center of the room stood Seth, his hand on the upheld, smaller fist of a young boy. Obsidian stood, his back to them, staring at the stain glass windows. He turned when they entered, and smiled hospitably when he saw Kira.
“Thank you for coming.” Obsidian said to her, then nodded at the guards. They quickly removed the shackles, and all but one of the soldiers left the room, leaving Kira alone with the strange trio in front of her late father’s throne.
“I didn’t have much of a choice, now did I?” Kira said harshly, crossing her arms.
“Kira, surely by now we can speak to each other in nicer tones than that.” Obsidian scolded her gently.
“Don’t mock me.” she said, her eyes fierce. “I’m here, but I won’t do whatever it is you want of me.”
“Kira, anyone can be persuaded. It just takes the right…motivation.” Obsidian said, shaking his head in disappointment. “Take Seth, for example. He was just as stubborn as you, yet when his precious Enna was in danger, he suddenly saw the light.”
“I swear, Obsidian, you touch one hair on her head…” Seth growled, glaring at the tyrant like an enraged, caged animal.
“Seth, you don’t have to help him.” Kira said, knowing her words were empty and a waste of breath. She knew that if she were in his position, she would do the same for the one she loved.
“He has my wife and child!” Seth said, almost sobbing out the words. “What else could I do?”
“You have a child?” Kira asked, surprised.
“He will.” Obsidian said, then added, “Or would have had, I should say, if she doesn’t die first. Seth and Enna are expecting their first, and it’d be such a shame for her to have to die before their child could be born.” Seth’s grip on the little boy’s hand tightened, and the boy whimpered.
Seth looked down, and with an effort relaxed his grip on the child’s hand. “Sorry.” he managed to whisper.
“Now, Kira,” Obsidian continued, ignoring Seth’s apology, “I need your help to finally become what I was born to be. So I ask you, will you help?”
Kira looked at him, and began to refuse, then sucked in her breath as she saw his eyes change, or rather open to her sight. She saw that Obsidian would do whatever it took to convince her to help, even if it meant grinding her spirit into dust to make her cooperate. She looked at Seth, and saw in his eyes desperation; she saw that he didn’t want to obey Obsidian, but had no control over the circumstances, and was completely stripped of his resolve to fight as long as his family was in danger. She looked back at Obsidian, who was now smiling.
“So you can see, now.” Obsidian said. “I was wondering when you would learn about that.”
“What is it?” Kira said, slightly bewildered by the ability.
“It’s called sight, Kira, true sight. You’ve known that your mark on your hand made you special; it does, Kira, much more so than you’ll ever truly understand. You are the Soul Key, and that lets you see into the hearts of others. But you also know of its other use.”
“Yes.” Kira said, dropping her gaze. She knew this was why Obsidian had relentlessly pursued her, and what he was going to ask of her.
“Kira,” he said softly, as if he cherished the very sound of her name, “You are the third Key, the last piece to unlock the Portal that will make one of us very powerful. You know that I have the resolve to wait however long it requires, and do whatever it takes, to open the Portal. And only I know how to open it.” Kira looked up, ready to hurl the plethora of insults that were springing into her mind, but his expression stopped her. He was smiling, and not unkindly. He looked at the small boy standing next to Seth, and smiled lovingly. “This is Eben, the Lock to the Portal. You are, of course, familiar with the stories that it takes the three Keys to unlock the Portal, correct?”
“Yes.” Kira said, unsure of Obsidian’s reason for asking the question.
“Well, that is only partially right.” he said, smiling at her like a father who had found a way to bestow wisdom upon his immature children. “If we combined the three Keys without the Lock, then one of us would be transformed, but not in the intended way. That is the meaning of ‘Unity or Discord’. Without the Lock, Discord would be unleashed on the last Key to join the group. But combining the three Keys on the Lock will open the Portal, and release the full potential of the final Key, giving that last Key Unity. I will be the final Key, Kira, but I need you to place your hand on top of Seth’s. Please, do this not for me, but for your kingdom.”
“My kingdom? No, I will not.” Kira stated firmly. “If I were to do this, I would unleash a greater evil than is already in you, Obsidian. How would that be for the good of my country?”