The Realms of Thrice (Lesbian Fiction)

Chapter VI - Light Meets Dark (Part I)

A towering throne made of weathered ebony stood proudly at the far end of the room. It was elevated by several steps on a landing that led to yet another dimly lit passageway. The room itself was bright, all in thanks to the floor to ceiling windows that framed a small portion of the courtyard. The dull black granite stone encasing the room was well-worn and smooth with patchy dead vines covering portions of the walls. Several floor chandeliers were lit and gave off a pleasant smell of cloves and other spiced herbs. It made the otherwise cool air heavy with aroma.

There were a few people of the court milling about, whispering and staring as Emri, Ryker, and the two guards moved into the room. Emri’s feet rocked ever-so-slightly on the uneven slate as they approached a lean man sitting stiffly on the raven throne. He had long dark brown hair that was partially pulled back and secured with a tie. His face was unfriendly, and he had the slightest smirk. Boney hands gripped tightly at the throne arms, turning his already pale skin white at the pressure points.

The throne, however, captured Emri’s attention. The intrinsic designs were frightening as they rose from the wood, casting rivers of shadows beneath them, showcasing thorned vines and depictions of corvidae over corpses. Mimicking the barren walls, dead vines encircled the base and top crowns of the throne. But perhaps the most threatening and chilling of the designs, was the single symbol etched right above the Lord’s head. It was the three connecting rings of Thrice, but both the Grey and White had been viciously carved out, leaving rough and jagged splinters behind. Emri swallowed thickly as she regarded Lord Tyron.

“To who do we owe this unexpected meeting?” The Lord asked as he looked between all four individuals. His eyes moved as his body sat inert.

“The Council has requested our presence here, Your Majesty,” Emri said. “I’m sure you’re aware of our current predicament.”

“Perhaps,” he spoke as his appraised her. Sizing her up, perhaps. Whatever it was, it sent a powerful chill down Emri spine. “But again, why are you here?”

“We believe you have someone in custody that might know how to stop it.”

His eyes penetrating. “And that might be?”

“The fallen Empress … your predecessor.”

As soon as the words left Emri’s mouth, a howling, mocking laughter sliced through the thick air. All the air gathered in her lungs, vanished, like a vacuum as her lungs felt as if they had collapsed. This was not going well. Mentally, she was praying for the other council members to arrive sooner rather than later. Ryker must have had the same idea as she sensed him shift beside her.

“You wish to consort with the evil Empress?” Lord Tyron spoke, his yellow and crooked teeth bared in a wicked smile. “What makes you believe she is the cause of this? She’s been imprisoned for many years. Years before this even formed. She couldn’t have created that portal.”

“But she might know how to stop it. This is powerful energy. Energy and force that only someone of great strength could construct … and who else would want to bring tragedy upon the three kingdoms?” she asked, fully knowing the answer. She knew of the grievances Kali had harbored against both the Grey and White, then again, it was not new sentiment among many within the kingdoms. It was common knowledge of the distrust and bitterness felt.

“You might be surprised of the enemies to all the realms. You have knowledge of what’s taking place here, but why wasn’t I informed of your arrival? How do I know you are being truthful? The Council rarely does anything out of order such as this.”

“We are from the Grey, communication and transcendence were all disrupted, but how we arrived here is none of your concern.”

“What is your name?”

“Emri Dyer, Advisor to the Black,”

“Please step forward,” he commanded. Emri stood and moved to stand in front of the Lord, several guards drew their weapons, many pointing right at her.

He motioned for her hands, which she held out, palm down, in compliance. His cold and gangly fingers circled her wrists, turning her hands palm up. Lord Tyron inhaled sharply as he saw not only the solid bands at her wrist, but also the scars on her palm. His red eyes shot to hers as he regarded her coldly.

“You were a resident of Black,” he stated. It was not a question, but a fact. The scars told it all. “You escaped. How?”

Emri did not respond. Instead, she withdrew her hands and took several steps back, coming in line with Ryker and the other guards. Lord Tyron accepted her silence and rose from his throne. “You have my permission to speak with her. Gather what information you seek, then you should leave,” he stated and motioned one of his royal guards forward where he whispered instructions into the guard’s ear. The interaction was brief, and soon Emri was being led down into the bowels of the palace to the dungeon keep, and Ryker was off to await the arrival of the other council members.

Tyron and his trusted governor stood behind, unmoving as Emri was led to the dungeons. Tyron’s eyes never left Emri’s retreating form. They were hard and piercing in their gaze.

“Call our members forth. I do believe our situation just got more dire.”


The palace, for the most part, was rich in gothic influences and elegant in its own manner. Design and material wise, it flowed effortlessly from the inner spheric sanctum, to the grand dining hall, up to the private and guest chambers, and into the throne room. The dark crimsons, violets, black, and browns all blended together with seamless precision as they created an ambiance of dark yet elegant imperial qualities. Various wall trophies of beast and man alike lined the long dimly lit corridors with gold encrusted human skulls atop the blackened candle floor stands. It was enough to make the hairs on the back of Emri’s neck hackle. Red, black, and gold brocade lined the walls at tasteful intervals, and their feet clacked and echoed loudly against concrete floors. The Dungeon Keep, however, was the exact opposite. It was dark, musty, dingy, and unnerving. There were no wall sconces to speak of, and the only light was that of the torch the guard was carrying. Corridor after corridor was breached, and they finally came upon a large windowless room filled with block concrete walls and the occasional set of rough iron bars. The air was acrid, smelling of mildew and stagnant water puddle up in low indentions and corners. It was black as night, and Emri hated to know what other fool matter had festered in it. The air was cold enough to seep down to your bones and linger for days. It was the type of cold one generally didn’t warm from. Dampness and moisture penetrated layers of clothing making one fidget in place.

The guard called forth the keeper of keys who hurriedly made his way to the sixth cell on the right. The sharp metallic ring of the jangled keys echoed through the large room. Just as the keeper was about to slip an unusual key into the keyhole, the guard roughly grabbed at his arm, stopping the movement to unlock the door and release the prisoner. With a murderous glare from the guard, the keeper of keys stepped back, leaving the cell locked.

“You have a visitor, Empress,” he stated mockingly as he chuckled in his throat. It must have been surreal for a man of his low standing to stand before a fallen Empress, a woman who was at one time, royalty of the highest standard. To talk down to a being who was once the most powerful woman in the kingdom must have greatly increased his male ego. However, when the prisoner gave him naught acknowledgment, he bristled and reached over his hip to grab the hilt of his sword. “You will look at me when I speak, wretch, or else I’ll play nasty. No one can hear you scream here,” he taunted with a wicked grin plastered across his face, the butt end of his sword tapping on the metal bars as the other moved to the crotch of his pants. Still, there was no answer or response. He went to jerk the keys from the hold of keeper of keys, when Emri finally stepped in.

She didn’t know what provoked her to make such a death wish. Perhaps it was her need, despite the horrors the woman inside had created, to show another being humility and respect. The old saying “slay them with benevolence” was not lost on her, and she wasn’t about to witness such brutality, even when the recipient had cast her own forms of hatred, and surely had deserved such treatment. Emri wanted to believe it was the woman’s frail and despondent form, weak and without arms to protect herself that made Emri intervene.

“Leave her be,” she commanded and suddenly saw fire in the guard’s eyes. She knew how to deal with people like him, arrogant with a temper to top it off. A man who was easy to fly into a fit of rage when questioned, especially by a woman. “You will leave her be. I have use for her, and using her as a poking prod is not of those. If you ruin my chance at information, I will cut off your prick myself. Understand?” Her fierce glare never left his eyes.

The guard stepped into her space; his face murderous. “You don’t have the gale,” he taunted hissed.

Emri, not the least bit phased, held her ground as she regarded him, or more specifically, his weapon. “Your blade,” she said. “It’s finely crafted. No doubt the work of a skilled blacksmith. Equally balanced, a bit dull. But a sword is only as capable as its owner. Your hold on it is weak, unsure. They always say a man is only a man by the strength in which he carries his arms. And you, my sir, who uses the size of your blade and the arrogance in your blood as illusions of power, are weak. Now step down before I bury my dagger in your throat.”

His lips curled as his eyes narrowed and darkened; face turning red in sheer rage. She could see several veins protruding from his forehead and strained tendons jetting from his throat. His sword, still clutched tightly in his left hand, shook. “Just you wait, outsider,” he spoke through gritted teeth. “When your back is turned, and you’re least suspecting, I’ll be there waiting for you. Only then will you know pain, when a knife is through your neck and slicing deep enough to fragment any image or memories you retain. Only then, will your body prove to be useful.”


The woman who sat within the cell listened intently to every word, hiss, and strain within their voice. She couldn’t identify her apparent visitor, a woman, no doubt, and a complete idiot at that. An idiot for not only seeking her out, but for taunting the guard, as well. Did these people learn nothing? Were they all incompetent fools? Fools that she was apparently going to be forced to hold dialogue with? She sighed heavily as the voices died down. She felt a pair of eyes settle on her back, obviously awaiting her response or recognition of their presence. However, despite how annoyed she was at the current situation, she couldn’t help but wonder what unfortunate soul had come to her defense with the guard. The Gods above knew how she had suffered their vile mistreatment and abuse over the years. Anymore, she didn’t even flinch when the metal bolt tumbled loudly within its case, signaling it’s unlocking. But to have someone, a visitor, here to speak with her, but also in sense, protecting her, was baffling. She opened her eyes, which had remained closed, and spoke to the unknown woman, never once turning to address her properly.

“Angering the guards will get you nowhere. Especially here, where revenge and murder go hand in hand, and you just signed your death proclamation. Your precious life is ticking away as we speak.”

“Well, as it is, no one has the guarantee of life. ‘Specially when all could end at any given time? You have information I seek, and no one will prevent me from gaining it.”

“You seem ignorantly confident of the notion that I will willingly provide you with such information? That is laughable at best because it seems you are not in a place for such demands. Rather, you shall take what I give you, or nothing at all. I have nothing to gain otherwise, and you would best understand to kindly rethink your words, and issue them as not demands, but rather polite requests.”

“Don’t play with me. I, along with other members of the Council know what you did, Kali! You’ve condemned all realms and their people to death. And I will NOT leave here until you tell me how to stop this portal you created out of hate and vengeance!”

At the mention of her mother’s name, the prisoner turned on her bed and was met with a familiar face. A much older face. The face of someone who her mother had made sure she would never see again, at least she never believed so. Her childhood friend who was so often, even to this day, present in her dreams.

She stood slowly, never allowing her eyes to leave the individual feet in front of her.

She looked on disbelieving. Emri had been nothing more than a mere memory for thirteen years. Her appearance had changed, but there was still so much familiar about her. The once long and tangled mess of ash brown hair was now neatly groom and pulled back into a ponytail. Her bright, gentle eyes that some time ago glowed ruby were now a fierce shade of emerald. She was lean and muscular. Healthy. The scar that traversed her lips and the single scar on her left eyebrow were still ever present.

But those eyes. Gods those eyes shoot straight to her heart, melting and blasting away all that she had been so careful to construct. During her reign, appearing void, heartless, and cold definitely had its benefits. Desensitizing herself from the horrors of the kingdom was the only way to survive. So that’s exactly what she had done. But standing here, under the intense stare of the one person who had always seemed to see her, absolutely broke her.

She released a sharp breath as her eyes and nose began to tingle with unspent tears. Her legs shook and threatened to buckle under her weight, and she braced herself on her wood and straw bed. No, no this could not be.

She voiced one word. One broken and pathetic word before she regrettably turned away, fearful of showing her newly discovered emotions. Emotions that would undoubtedly be used against her. To break her once more.




That word. That one word crippled her, and made her heart stop cold in her chest. Her eyes did not deceive her, but whatever doubts remained, were obliterated at the utterance of her name. But Gods! There was no way that frail woman staring back at her with shimmering eyes was the one girl she had been without for nearly fourteen years.

How does one possibly describe the overwhelming sensation of discovering someone you thought dead was alive? It was impossible to believe. Yet here Nora stood, right in front of her. The shell of Nora perhaps, but Nora nonetheless, and Emri wanted nothing more than to pull the aching heart from the depths of her chest, and smash it against the nearest blood stained wall. It would be preferable to this. This pain and sadness that was darkening her soul. Bringing forth feelings of anger and hurt to the forefront of her mind once again.

The fingers of her right hand grasped tightly around the vertical bar of the iron door, grounding herself to reality. Because this was not real. It was impossible.

“No, it can’t be …” Emri whispered in shock as she heard footsteps approaching the room. “Where’s the Empress?!” she yelled, slightly panicked.

“Right in front of ya, lass,” a passing guard spoke in confusion.

“Where’s Kali?!”

“Long since dead she is. That woman there was the High Empress. The one in which you seek.”

“Oh, don’t be so surprised, dear,” a chilling voice spoke. The previous emotions Emri sensed were gone, replaced yet again with that of the Empress. “You knew my mother … you knew what horrors she was capable of.”

Emri felt her body change as her hands, wrist, and arms drew. The metal bands at her wrists, while indiscernible to the naked eye, tightened painfully against her skin and the muscle beneath.

Nora’s eyes, which had been on hers the entire time, darted to her arms. No doubt she could see the muscles and tendons rippling beneath her pliant flesh. She could sure feel it.

The few occupants in the room noticed the change in atmosphere as well as they shifted nervously and wiped fresh sweat from their brow. Nora’s eyebrows contorted in alarm, her eyes wide.

She needed to leave before she worsened things. Leave before she inadvertently hurt someone or herself. Emri could feel the energy building within her body. It was times like this where she craved to understand the inner workings of it. Why she seemed so alone in her suffering. She knew of no one else whose energy source thrummed through their body with such uncontrollable force. It moved through her blood vessels like water and sand, grinding and tearing away at her insides like a pickaxe carving into fresh dirt. The veins in her temples throbbed to the erratic beat of her heart. She jerked away from her hold on the bars and stumbled off in desperate search for an unoccupied room.

She clawed at her splitting head as her right hand settled against the black stone wall. The shear pressure being emitted from her hand sent several hair-line fractures scattering from her fingertips. A warm sensation spread from her nose to her mouth, and it tasted metallic. She looked down to her feet, and saw droplets of blood decorating the discolored floor. Gods, it would surely kill her this time.

A hand quickly reached for hers, jolting her from her state. “Whoa there. Easy does it,” Ryker whispered as he clutched at her wrists, slowly calming them down.

Emri felt her body respond in kind as the energy coursing through her body dissipated until all that was left was shaky limbs and disorientation.

Her body slumped against Ryker’s in exhaustion, and he quickly guided her to a nearby chair.

Her head lolled side-to-side as a hand roughly wiped at the blood on her face. Finally her eyes cooperated, and she settled them on familiar hazel. “You all right?” Ryker asked out of breath. She nodded. “Damn, Em,” he said as he rested his hands on his knees.  “It’s been awhile since you’ve lost it like that. Care to tell me what happened?”

She mumbled a few expletives in pain before she straightened herself in the chair and alternated between rubbing her head, arms, and wrists. “Sure,” was muttered sarcastically. “As soon as I understand it myself.” She took a deep breath, calming her raging heartbeat before slumping over tiredly. An irritated huff escaped her lungs as her head shook in frustration. “I thought I had it figured out … how to control and contain it. Guess I was wrong.”

“What happened to make you so angry?”

“It wasn’t anger. Not this time. It was … just everything. Like I felt everything at once. I was overwhelmed, and I let it get the better of me.”

He noticed the dried tracks of tears on her cheeks, and how her eyes shimmered in the light. “What happened, Em?”

Her bottom lip and chin trembled as she jerked her face away. “It’s not her, Ryker. It was not Kali in that cell. It’s Nora.”

“N–Nora? Your friend from here? How?”

“I know naught. Not yet anyway. I need to speak with Kael … or someone.” She rose from the chair and began to pace the small room. “She’s alive. Nora is alive. Gods … I … thought she was dead. It’s been so long, and she has been alive all this time. Rotting away in that jail cell while suffering abuse and neglect from the guards.” She paused as she rubbed a particularly sore knot in her left arm before burying her face in her hands. “I guess that’s why it’s so hard,” she mumbled into them. “Nora’s alive and I found her once again. I’ve found one of the few people I’ve ever cared about. It’s like … as soon as my eyes found hers, a part of me instantly filled. That void here,” she spoke as she flattened her palm against her chest and clutched, “was filled once again with an all too familiar, comforting presence. But I keep telling myself, that’s not her! That woman in that cell, who is accused of such wrongful acts, is not the young girl I grew to love. She doesn’t even look the same. My friend is truly gone.”

“Maybe not … maybe she’s not completely lost yet. Look, you have an advantage here. We need her help and the two of you have a past … a good past, and since you didn’t end on bad terms, maybe, just maybe she will be willing to help … to help you. From what I understand, the Empress never did for others, only for herself. Could it be that she’s hurting just as much as you? Look who her mother was for Gods’ sakes. There’s something more at work here, and I believe you understand it completely, don’t you?”

“Gods, I don’t know. I don’t know anything anymore,” she sobbed.

“Breathe, Em. Just breathe – here sit back down.” He motioned to the old rickety chair in the corner. He picked it up through a slot in the back and sat it down in front of her. “Don’t let them see you cry,” he whispered.

“What? Shows weakness?” she asked sarcastically.

“You know that’s not it. You’re upset. That’s normal … understandable, even. Talk to her. Find out what she can offer us. What she wants in return.”

“She won’t help.”

“I don’t know about you, but I too saw that look in her eyes when you left. Something inside her clicked, just like with you. Don’t discredit her too soon. Now, do I trust her? Not for a second. But maybe you can get something done.”

“I don’t know, Ryker. We’re both so different now. It couldn’t be more plain.”

“All the more reason to try, right? Just talk to her, Emri,” he stated as he looked at her dejected form. “This just keeps getting better and better, dunnit?

Emri tried smiling, but her eyes remained downcast. “Hopefully we’ll catch a break here soon,” she stated.

Soon, they both headed back to Nora’s cell where Emri asked to speak with her alone, Ryker being the only other person present by Emri’s wish.

She had one of the friendlier guards fetch her a chair which she placed a couple paces from the cell door. She sat down and wringed her hands together as she gazed at Nora’s silhouette.

“Why are you imprisoned?” Emri asked as she cut through the silence. “What’s your crime?”

“Surely they spoke to you of my misdeeds?” Nora countered, her voice now deep and commanding.

“I want to hear it from you.”

She inhaled slowly before releasing it quickly. “I committed acts of murder and torture against my own people … by my own hands and through the hands of others. Without my orders, no misdeeds would have been made. I was betrayed by my court, and sentenced here. Thanks to your precious Council, I was unfortunately spared death.”

“Do you know how to stop it?”

“No,” Nora conceded. “My mother told me and used me for many things … but this is one she did not disclose. It is true I created the portal, but I did not know its purpose.”

Emri, however foolish it might have been, believed her, but she didn’t want Nora to know that, yet. “You honestly expect me to believe that?”

“No,” she stated matter-of-factly as if there were no other feasible answers.

“Why would you blindly follow your mother? After all she did to you? After all she deprived you of?”

Nora regarded her carefully as silence moved in around them once more, if only briefly. “I believe it was you who once told me family was all one had … and with that came a loyalty unlike any other. She was my mother, and she was all I had … regardless of how she treated me, I did love her.”

“How long have you been imprisoned? When did you take the throne?”

She paused to tally up the years. By now, minutes, hours, and days all meshed together. She had almost forgotten how long she had been there. “Eight years. I took the throne the day my mother died. I was eighteen. I ruled for two years until I was overthrown on my twentieth name day. I have been here since.”

“Why now then? Why has it formed now, after so many years?”

“It was planned that way, Miss Dyer. It was meant to be unpredictable. Take us by surprise.”

“Can you stop it?”

“No, it was designed to be self-sustaining … but, perhaps there might be a way … but alas, I’m in here. I guess you and your worlds are left up to your own devices. The Realms of Thrice got what they wanted – me. I shall die here.”

Emri remained quiet as she tapped her foot and popped her knuckles. Pursing her lips in thought. “Freedom,” she said. “That’s what you want, isn’t it?”

Nora smiled sadly, but it went unnoticed. “Freedom is a kind concept, if only it were that easy.”

“Cut the cryptic bullshit!” Emri hissed as she rose dangerously from her chair. Her hands automatically went to her hair as her fingers gripped it tightly before moving down to her face, creating red and white marks where she rubbed in agitation. “If I could grant your release,” she began more calmly “… your freedom … would you be willing to help?”

“You will not persuade them to release me, dear,” she stated despondently. It made Emri immediately regret her outburst. “My crimes have been too severe, even for the likes of the dark realm. But what life is left for me out there if I were, in fact, released? I would be hunted down and slaughtered on sight. It would be a slow and painful death no doubt.”

“The people loved your mother despite her cruelty, surely that loyalty would fall onto you … spare you death?”

She chuckled lowly. It was gritty and dirty, enough for a chill to have swept across Emri’s body. She grinned with teeth bared. “My mother was not loved. She was feared. As she should have been. Every ruler that takes the throne of The Black Realm rules by one decree … fear. It’s what keeps everyone in line. There was no love for my mother … far from it,” she stated darkly.

“So you will not help us then?” Emri asked, fully knowing the answer.

“You want my advice, Miss Dyer?” she asked with a decided coldness to her voice. “Go back to your Realm, to your doting little family, and wait for the end to come. Because the end is already here. It is too late.”

Emri’s eyes never left the woman in front of her as she stood and approached the iron bars that separated them. She grasped them with both hands before she pulled her front to meet cool metal, aligning her body with the door. Her face sank in defeat from a loss of something different than she ever expected. It was not the rejection of aid, but rather the rejection of there ever being something more; the knowledge that Nora stood just feet from her, yet a world apart. This was what they were now. Reduced to the burden of knowing the other existed, but never again having the opportunity to exist together; to reforge what they had lost. It was like receiving the best of hope, only to have crushed seconds before victory. Like the excitement of catching fresh game for your family’s supper, knowing it was one less night of hunger, and the desire to the see the elation on your mother’s face, only to discover her dead.

“I’m sorry for what happened to you, Nora,” she began, mentally berated herself as her voice already began to flounder. “I knew what your mother was like, and I can see now just how different you are. You’ve changed so much, and I can’t even begin to fathom why or what made you change so. I would’ve done anything and everything to have prevented that. To have prevented you from having to experience all that you did. But I was unable to. Just know I would have moved heavens and earth to have saved you from that,” she finished as she released her grip on the bars, and retreated back a few steps, eventually breaking eye contact. “I will do whatever it takes to stop what’s happening, with or without your help. But rest assure, you would not be the only one to die alone. Misery always has company,” she said quietly, and as a parting farewell. She turned to Ryker and signaled for their departure. “Let’s go.”

“Wait!” Nora said as she leapt from her bed. It creaked under the undue stress. She rushed to the bars and for the first time, stepped completely out of the shadows.

Emri motioned for Ryker to wait outside the door, and she walked back to the cell.

“Why did you come to my aid, at the beginning? Especially when you thought I was my mother? she asked.

Emri was surprised with the question. Expecting it to be anything but that. She regarded her kindly yet with reserve. “I’m not a monster, Nora. You forget that I too lived in this wretched realm. I know all too well what people are capable of, and I was not just going to stand idly by while he attempted his sick perversions upon a defenseless woman. No one, no one deserves that.”

“Not even my mother?” she asked.

Again Emri was stunned into silence. How did one answer such a question? The part of Emri that saw red at the mention of Kali’s name thought yes. Such a cold-blooded person deserved whatever punishment was sent his or her way. Payment for their acts – atonement. However, the compassionate side of her, which thankfully was more dominate, believed in the humane treatment of everyone, regardless of their past or actions. But Emri knew of Kali’s deeds, and they affected her personally on so many different levels. So, she gave Nora no answer.

“Then why am I different?” she asked. “I am guilty of the crimes brought against me. I performed them just as my mother taught me … as my mother would have. With deadly precision. So, why am I different?”

“I’m not saying you are. I don’t know you, but I knew who you used to be, and I truly believe that young girl, is still in there somewhere.”

There, at that moment, a silent agreement was made.

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