And So It Begins: (Part 2)
Kitana ran back into the palace with tears of fear welling up in her eyes. She tore through her room and into the long hallways of the palace. Several of the maids and servants looked up, puzzled at the sight of the panicked girl.
But Kitana simply ignored them and pushed them out of the way. "I have to find Mother," she thought. "She’ll know what to do." She stormed down the staircase and into the throne room where Queen Sindel, garbed in a royal purple gown, stood waiting for her husband.
The young queen turned around with a bewildered expression on her face, alarmed at the sight of her usually cheerful daughter weeping uncontrollably. "Kitana?" Sindel ran to Kitana and set her hands on her daughter’s shoulders. "Why are you crying, my child?"
"It’s Father!" Kitana wept. "He’s– he’s–"
"And the Conqueror! He–"
The Conqueror. Just hearing those two words together never failed to make Sindel shudder. "So, today’s the day," she thought. "Shao Kahn has decided it’s time for him to take Edenia."
Sindel wrapped her arms around her daughter tightly. "Do not worry, Kitana," she whispered soothingly. "Your father and I will make sure that Shao Kahn leaves us in our peace."
Kitana shook her head. "But that’s just it!" she wailed, gasping for breath between her tears. "Father… he’s… because Kahn… and the mallet…"
"Mallet?" Sindel was lost. Her daughter was not making any sense at all. "Slowly, Kitana, explain to me what you are trying to say," she suggested calmly and let go of her daughter.
Kitana stood up straight and nodded. She solemnly wiped the tears from her face and began to speak, but it was difficult for her to keep her voice steady. "Father… was in the water forest," she stammered, trying to keep from gasping and sniffling. "Then… there was this explosion. It – it was the Conqueror! He and Father got in a fight and… and…" She stopped in mid-sentence and stared at the ground as the gruesome scene began to replay itself in her mind once again. The scared princess shut her eyes, but it didn’t help to block the memory. "And what?" Sindel asked worriedly. "Kitana, what happened to your father?" The tears began to well up in the princess’ eyes again. She couldn’t hold back any longer. Kitana burst into a loud river of tears. "Kahn took out a mallet and it was long and wooden with spikes and he hit Father with it and he beat him to death and now Father’s dead! He’s dead! Father’s dead!" "Jerrod – dead?" The blow of Kitana’s words sent a wave of nausea sweeping over Sindel. Kitana’s words delivered quite a blow to her. She walked to her throne and placed her hand on it, trying to keep her balance. She could not believe her ears. She didn’t want to. With Jerrod dead, the realm of Edenia had lost a king, but Sindel lost much more: her protector… her lover… Her best friend. Though Sindel didn’t realize it, Kitana continued to ramble on. "…And then the blood… and his scream! His scream! And then I looked down at Father… I couldn’t recognize him! I didn’t want to recognize him!" The little girl began to weep again. The room was dead silent except for the gasps and whimpers of Princess Kitana. "What will happen now?" Sindel thought. The newly widowed queen couldn’t cry; Jerrod’s death was too painful to cry about. Drawing a deep breath, she looked over at her daughter. Kitana was just a child, a mere girl, and already she had witnessed the gruesome death of her beloved father. The princess cowered on the floor before the thrones with her head buried in her hands, shaking as she wept. "Kitana," Sindel began, her voice trembling as she spoke. "Are you absolutely positive that your father is dead?" Kitana looked up at her mother and opened her mouth to respond, but no sound came out. All she could do was nod. Sindel walked over to Kitana, hugged her, and kissed her forehead. With a deep breath, she stood up boldly and started toward the large doorway. "Mother!" Kitana cried. "Please, don’t leave me!" "Of course not, my child. I would never leave you," Sindel comforted her daughter. "But I do want you stay here where it’s safe." "Why? Where are you heading?" "To the water forest," Sindel answered. "I want to see your father. There might be a chance that we can still save him." "Mother," Kitana sniffled. "He’s dead! Kahn crushed his skull! We can’t change that." Sindel lowered her head in sorrow. "I know," she whispered. "But I must see him." "Then I’ll go with you," Kitana insisted. Wiping away her tears, she stood up bravely and ran to her mother. "When you see him dead, you’ll break down, Mother. I know it." Sindel held up her hand. "No, Kitana. You must remain here where you’ll be safe," she ordered. "I can’t let the only loved one I have left walk into danger. After all, you are the heiress to the throne. If anything happens to me out there, at least you’ll be able to take over." "Take over?" Kitana was alarmed. She did not want to become queen. How could a mere child like herself ever rule a realm and defend it from invaders? But seeing that she couldn’t argue with her mother, Kitana nodded in agreement. Sindel turned around and started to walk out of the throne room to find the body of her husband.
"AAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!" The shrill scream caused Sindel to nearly jump out of her skin. The young queen spun around. "Kitana, what’s–" Instead of seeing Kitana alone, she saw another figure, Shao Kahn, with his hands around her throat. Kitana tried to scream again, but it came out a cough. Kahn looked up from Kitana’s throat and grinned maliciously. "Good day, my Queen." Sindel shot up and reacted quickly. "Guards!" Suddenly, three soldiers ran into the throne room and began to attack the Conqueror, but he lifted one hand from Kitana’s throat and released a fireball that hit all three of them. Kahn then raised his hand to the throne room’s doorway, and instantly the doors slammed with a loud thud. "Let me go!" Kitana rasped. She squirmed to break away from Shao Kahn, but the more she struggled, the tighter he gripped her. The child began to cough and gasp for air. "You wouldn’t dare kill a little girl!" Sindel spat.
Kahn smiled at her evilly. "You know I would." His grip on Kitana’s throat tightened, and she violently gasped for breath. Sindel was horrified. She and Jerrod had been raising Kitana to be a warrior like themselves. She excelled vastly in martial arts and was incredibly outstanding for a child of her age. But Kitana obviously couldn’t fight back if she couldn’t breathe, and now that Jerrod was dead she would never be able to handle losing her only child as well. "I demand you to let go of my daughter, Kahn, or else I’ll—" "You’ll what?" Kahn asked her, looking very amused. He enjoyed tormenting the innocent, and the fact that the victims were part of the Edenian dynasty made the whole thing even more entertaining. "I’m not afraid of you, Sindel, if that’s what you’re thinking." Sindel gulped. She knew that Kahn didn’t fear her. In fact it was the other way around; she was the one who was afraid of him. "Think!" Sindel told herself. "I’ve got to save Kitana!" Kahn snickered. "Well, if you’re just going to stand there dull-wittily, watch me murder your precious little girl!" He tightened his hands around Kitana’s neck, but stopped.
Sindel was horrified. She and Jerrod had been raising Kitana to be a warrior like themselves. She excelled vastly in martial arts and was incredibly outstanding for a child of her age. But Kitana obviously couldn’t fight back if she couldn’t breathe, and now that Jerrod was dead she would never be able to handle losing her only child as well. "I demand you to let go of my daughter, Kahn, or else I’ll—" "You’ll what?" Kahn asked her, looking very amused. He enjoyed tormenting the innocent, and the fact that the victims were part of the Edenian dynasty made the whole thing even more entertaining. "I’m not afraid of you, Sindel, if that’s what you’re thinking." Sindel gulped. She knew that Kahn didn’t fear her. In fact it was the other way around; she was the one who was afraid of him. "Think!" Sindel told herself. "I’ve got to save Kitana!" Kahn snickered. "Well, if you’re just going to stand there dull-wittily, watch me murder your precious little girl!" He tightened his hands around Kitana’s neck, but stopped. He looked up at the young queen. "Mortified, but still beautiful… All the right curves in the all the right places," Kahn thought lustfully as he surveyed her figure. He cleared his throat. "Actually, Sindel, there is something you could do for me if you want your child to be spared." "And that is?" "Marry me," Kahn answered with a glint of glowing desire in his evil red eyes. "Become my Queen, the girl lives, and we rule Edenia together." "I’m a married woman, Kahn," Sindel snapped. "And I don’t intend on deserting my husband." "Correction," Kahn smiled evilly. "You were a married woman. Face it: King Jerrod of Edenia is no more. And if you don’t make a decision soon, Princess Kitana will be next." Kitana’s eyes grew larger. "If Mother agrees," she thought, "I live. But she can’t betray Father’s memory! And if she does decide to stay loyal, I won’t live to see another sunrise…" Kitana gulped in fear of what her mother would choose, but pushed the fear away. "I must be brave," she told herself. "
"Like Father. I cannot allow Mother to betray him, even if it means my death." The princess looked at her mother and shook her head aggressively, urging her to decline. "You can’t betray Father!" she rasped. Sindel stood paralyzed in place. "If I agree, Kitana will live, but I can’t betray Jerrod. I just can’t, even if he is dead!" Sindel told herself. She looked up at Kitana, who was still shaking her head. "Look at her," she thought. "Such a brave child. But I can’t let Kahn kill her! She’s my daughter, the only one I have left, the heiress to the throne, the––" "Well?" "I’m thinking!"
"You’ve thought long enough!" Kahn snapped. "What will it be, Sindel: me, or the death of your only child?" Sindel looked at Kitana, who still was as scared as ever, then looked back up at Kahn. "Well, Sindel?" Kahn replied. "I’m waiting." "I… I…" Sindel was struggling with her words. She glanced at the two figures standing before her. There was her daughter in Kahn’s grip, just a young child scared for her life. Then there was Kahn, the large figure with his hands wrapped around Kitana’s neck, threatening to kill the one person she had left. She reviewed her options quickly in her mind once more and sighed uncomfortably. "Yes?" Shao Kahn boomed. "I’m so sorry, Jerrod. I love only you… I always will…" Sindel whispered with her eyes shut. Abruptly, she opened them and faced the Conqueror. "I shall be your Queen," she finally answered, lowering her head to the ground in shame. "Thank goodness," Kitana thought. Instantly, the girl bit her tongue. "What am I saying? I can’t allow her to betray Father!" "NO!" Kitana yelled aloud. She squirmed in Kahn’s grasp, trying to break free. "You can’t!" "Excellent choice!" Kahn praised. Sindel collapsed to the ground in tears, and Kahn let Kitana break away from his grip and run to her mother. "Mother," she began, planting her hands firmly on Sindel’s shoulders and boring into her soul with her frantic eyes. "You cannot do this!" Kahn snickered. "She already has, daughter." Kitana shot up at the Conqueror’s words. "Don’t you ever call me that, Kahn!" Kahn, pretending to be hurt, looked at her in disbelief and shock. "Is that any way to speak to your father?" he asked her sarcastically. "You are not my father – you’re a monster!" Kitana snapped.
She turned around and knelt down before her mother, who was still weeping on the floor. "Mother, I –" "Kitana, I’m sorry!" Sindel burst out. She gazed into her daughter’s eyes, pleading for forgiveness. "I loved your father so much… I still do! And I knew that you wanted me to stay loyal to him! But I couldn’t let you die, I just couldn’t! You’re too young, and you’ve such a bright future ahead of you." "Not if he’s the new ruler of Edenia," Kitana muttered, pointing to Shao Kahn. "Too bad, Kitana," the Conqueror said with a smile. "I am, as always, victorious. Now, child, if you excuse us, we have a wedding to plan. Come, my love." He pushed open the large and heavy doors of the throne room, walked out, and motioned for Sindel to follow. Sindel was disgusted. She couldn’t stand the fact that she was a widow and the "love" her husband’s worst enemy. She broke into tears again. Kitana wrapped her arms around her mother and hugged her tightly. She felt just as bad and disgusted as Sindel was, but she put on the mask of optimism. "It’s all right, Mother," she told Sindel. "He’s gone now." However, despite her daughter’s loving words, Sindel shook her head. "I’m sorry, Kitana. I did it to save you…" Unable to find the words to continue, she kissed her daughter’s cheek, slowly stood up, and headed out of the throne room. Hesitantly, Queen Sindel looked back at Kitana before following Kahn. Kitana watched her mother leave the room. She walked over to her mother’s throne and sat down; she needed to think. "My father’s dead, my mother’s marrying a monster, and I get to be his stepdaughter." She slumped down in her luxurious chair. "None of this would have happened if someone saved Father, but the guards failed, and no one was there to save…" Instantly, Kitana shot straight up in the throne. "Someone was there!" she told herself. "Me! I had the chance to save Father but…" Kitana remembered the words her mother had spoken to her earlier: "I’m sorry, Kitana. I did it to save you…"
"So I was saved," Kitana said aloud in the silence of the room. A tear rolled down the princess’ cheek as she realized the awful truth. "But I didn’t deserve to be. I didn’t even try to save Father…"
End of Part 2