Four days to the New Moon.
“You must focus, Krystal. Your energy is fluctuating wildly,” Emily said.
She was standing next to a table that was about six feet from me, and a beach ball was sitting on top of it. We had been at it for almost two hours, and I only managed to make it wiggle. Anything else in the room, however was scattered around the space. I was great at banking the energy off of walls, but a straight line in front of me?
Even more frustrating, was the fact that I could feel Amali – or her energy, anyway – squatting, deep in my belly, solid as a rock. She was holding me back from being able to control this power.
“Yes, Emily. I am aware of the fluctuations. I am doing my best to control it,” I said, through gritted teeth. I took another breath and held out my right arm, again hoping the gesture would help me guide this damned energy. Trying to ignore my growing headache, I envisioned the light in my abdomen running up my chest, into my shoulder and along my arm. I could feel the heat gathering in my palm. With a slow exhale, I imagined the light leaving my hand and hitting the beach ball. As I felt the force leave my hand, a chair to my right flew against the wall shattering into a bundle of sticks.
“I am fucking breathing, Emily. It’s all I can do to even control myself right now. Do you know what it’s like to have a deity living in your goddamn body?”
“You don’t. You know nothing. Your guidance is worthless to me right now.” I stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind me. The window shattered, but I just kept walking until I left the building.
I clenched my fists; Amali was really becoming a handful – as if she hadn’t been already. Not only was her…ex-lover trying to kill me, or control me, or destroy the world, but the Sisters were starting to grate on me with their unrelatable guidance. Meanwhile, in my fucking gut, the ascended goddess herself was being a child about the whole thing.
I walked over to the temple and stood outside the door. Ever since I had returned from the woods, I had an overwhelming desire to be in this temple as often as possible. Sure, Beatrice’s company was nice, but it wasn’t really about her. It was just the most peaceful place on the compound. I opened the door and stepped inside.
Almost immediately, my fists loosened, and I could feel my headache dissipating. I took a deep breath, feeling the grounding energy beneath my feet. I could feel Amali’s energy stretch outward along my limbs, which was much more comfortable for me as well. This was her haven.
I relaxed into a bench near the back, and closed my eyes. The past couple days had been incredibly stressful. 10 hours of (fruitless) training with Emily and Julia, only breaking for meals and sleep. I hadn’t seen Liam since I got back, but I hardly had time to even think about him. I was suddenly on this trajectory of harnessing the goddess’ power in order to put a stop to Lillian – or Kug, or whatever. I still didn’t understand what was going on, what she really wanted from Amali, or the humans for that matter. What was I doing all of this for? It sure as hell didn’t feel like my battle.
But the sisters certainly felt like it was theirs. Part of me still believed they were hiding something from me, but a larger part of me just envied their resolve. To wake up in the morning and know that the path you were on was right? I’d give almost anything to feel that way again. At this point, I only felt like a…
“…A pawn,” I whispered. Lillian had said that in the forest. I could feel myself slowly beginning to touch the edges of what she had meant.
My phone buzzed in my pocket and I jumped. It hadn’t gone off in days, and any sensation at this point just felt like a sign of danger. I checked the screen. It was a text message from Brendt, the hot Doctor. God, it felt like months since the last time we spoke. So much had happened in such a short period of time. I considered ignoring it, but remembered that I was still a human with emotions and desires and decided to read what he said:
Hey, I’ll be visiting my mother again in a couple days. Not sure if you’re still there doing research, but it would be cool to see you again. Not that I care. I totally don’t care. 🙂
I betrayed myself with a smile as I put my phone back in my pocket, and looked ahead at the altar at the front of the temple. Replying to him would only make me weaken my resolve — he was currently my only connection to the outside world.
I had mostly resigned myself to the path before me; but if there was a really good reason for me to get invested in this so-called twisted ‘saga of the heavens’ I needed to hear it soon. I needed Amali to start talking to me in a way I could understand.
So for the first time, I decided to reach out her.
I closed my eyes, and counted to ten.
“Amali…” I said silently. “Show me what I need to know.”
Silence, for a few moments. And then finally,
“Are you certain?” she echoed in my head.
“This is my only option,” I replied.
Of course it was; I knew it. I knew it the whole time. Deep down, even as I tried to fight this destiny, as I resisted and attempted to escape the fate of my bloodline, I was well aware that the only way out…was through.
“Thank you,” she whispered. And then everything went black.
When light returned, I was in a room, sitting on a bed. Looking out the window I could see the faint glow of street lamps. A horse-drawn carriage ambled down a road. I looked around the room and it was clean, containing the basic necessities of a bed and a table with water pitcher. A trunk and hat box were resting against the far wall by the door. Was it mine? I looked down at my myself, and I was dressed in what looked to be an 18th century dress in white and green. Then I noticed my hands as they smoothed over my bodice. They were lighter, taking on an olive shade rather than my normal caramel skin color.
“Oh,” I thought. I was in Amali’s body. It was also then that I realized I had no control; I was just witnessing everything from her point of view. As I tried to process the moment, the door opened, and a beautiful Italian man (I think?) rushed in and closed it behind him. I quickly stood up, and he rushed to me with his arms outstretched. We shared a passionate kiss, and I could feel the relief and joy rushing through my body as we embraced.
“I’m so sorry I’m late,” the man said as we parted. “I had a last minute visitor, and they failed to notice my hat, my gloves, or the fact that I was walking out of the door. But it is no matter, my dove, because I am here now.” He took off his jacket and hung it on the wall.
“Exactly where I want to be,” I said, placing a hand on his arm. He looked up at me, worry crossing his face.
“Amali, do you love me?”
“Of course. Why else would I be here?”
He grasped my hands.
“More than your husband?”
His hands tightened around my own.
“More than my husband.”
“And you are sure that leaving your children behind—“
“Paolo, what is the meaning of this? You’re scaring me.” He led me over to the bed, and sat me down.
“There is something I must tell you before we move forward. I want us to be completely honest with each other or else this could never work.”
“All right…what is it, my love?”
He placed my hands on my lap, and knelt down in front of me.
“Amali, I am…not like others. I am…something different.”
“You mean, your heritage? I am of mixed race too, but—“
“I am, not of this world.”
“What do you mean by that?” I felt my stomach tighten, and my heartbeat increased. It felt as if Amali already had an idea of what he was going to say.
“I am…for lack of a better word…a god.”
“A…god…?” My tone was calm. Amali didn’t seem to be surprised.
“Er—yes? I am borrowing this human flesh because I wanted to experience—“
“—human life. I understand.” I smiled.
“And I don’t want to hu— you what?” Paolo’s mouth fell open.
“A—And—And…you are not upset?”
I shook my head, and held his face with my hands.
“Remember, I am not very normal myself. I have been looking for you all of my life, Paolo. Now that I have you, I will not be afraid of who or what you are. We will figure it out.” I watched as tears welled up in Paolo’s eyes and fell. He gasped, and touched his cheeks, looking at the wetness on his fingers. My own tears began to fall as well, and then he pulled me close, hugging my waist.
“You must be a goddess,” he whispered into my bodice. Suddenly, I felt Amali slip away as a rush of intense heat washed over me.
I felt a sharp pain in my head as a burst of energy exploded from my entire body. I screamed — it felt as if my own limbs were being ripped apart. I watched in horror as the flesh scorched and fell from Paolo’s bones, but then I soon sensed an energy around his smoking corpse. A moment later, my own charred body dropped to a heap on the ground. That same energy hovered around my own corpse. It must have been Kug, looking for Amali. But she was already gone. I then sensed overwhelming rage accumulating in the room. But it was also tinged with something else. Despair? Sadness?
And then everything went black again.