Several hours passed in a blink of an eye. Soon, the clock chimed seven in the morning. The still silence of the night was slowly overcome by the waking city. Horns began to sound as the morning pick hours rolled in. Jeanette stirred and started muttering.
"What is it that you need mom?" Both of them diverted their attention to Jeanette, from the book they each were reading.
"Water… Water…" She repeated over and over, as if in a dream.
Before Yoruik could offer to get the water, Zoruik had already disappeared into the kitchen to prepare a jug of warm water. Clearly shocked by his quick response, she sat there, stumped by his reaction.
"What are you gapping at me for?" He asked her as he returned from the kitchen, a jug in one hand, and a cup in the other.
"Oh, nothing… You're hot." She conjured a random, sarcastic comment.
"Even guys can get shy sis, don't be so opened about your admiration." He put on with her joke, just to humour her.
"Argh… You win! I was just surprised that you could have thought so much for a step-mother."
"And waited until I asked for it before he would bother to get some for me?" She glared at her. Still half-awake, she added hotly, "And you, who do you think you are to assume things like that? You don't know how he is like here, and you don't know how he treats my daughter."
"Chill mom, she was just kidding." Zoruik quickly covered for her.
"Indeed, siblings are just too alike to miss! Each as senseless and brainless as the other." She smiled slyly at her belligerent comment.
Wow, THIS is YOUR step-mother? She mused, knowing Zoruik could read her mind.
"Is yours too." He muttered under his breath, rolling his eyes at his sister.
"What's that you two are conspiring? Don't think I'm deaf, I can hear you." Her eyes pierced through both of them.
Zoruik was about to cover up for his sister when their father came to the hall.
"Oh, honey, you're up. You came home all wasted last night…" He trailed off as he saw both of his children with heavy eye bags. "You two have been up all night watching over your mother haven't you, my dear children?" He smiled warmly at them, "You all should get some sleep."
"Watch over me? Zoruik would not get me water until I was practically screaming for it," She answered acrimoniously. "and they were conspiring something right under my nose, thinking I was deaf!"
Her words inflicted obvious pain on Zoruik who flinched. Unable to say anything, he could only give his father a forlorn pleading look, hoping that his father could sympathize with him.
Toreik could not stand on his son's side for he knew his wife was capable of having immediate actions to her decisions. He would not want Jade to leave, because he knew Jade was no longer who she was anymore. After being so closer to her Y'hier siblings, some of their Y'hier energies would have brushed off her.
Furthermore, Zoruik needed a mother's figure in his life. He knew how essential the presence of a mother affects a child's life, and that was the reason he stood on Jeanette's side, knowing how much it would hurt his beloved son. However he could see that things were getting out of hand, and there was a desperate for him to reason with his son. With that, he beckoned his son to follow him into his room.
"I know it's tough for you, son… You don't belong here by nature anyway, and your time is coming. Just endure a little more. Always remember, Frotusmhere." He patted his son's shoulders in empathy and heaved a heavy sigh, upon shutting the door.
He, too, was going through a lot. Jeanette was also testing his limits. Having married her and influenced her child, he knew there was no more turning back. Low chance that Jade could resist the strong influence he sense in the family. He did not want Jeanette to leave because of that. He knew Jade loved Jeanette, and if she were to leave, Jade would be extremely depressed. Having lost his own mother since a young age, Toreik did not want Jade to lose her mother so quickly. He would tell her when the time comes, just not now.
He never really knew what his father was thinking; rather, he could not care less for his father. He had always believed his father was brainwashed, always assumed his father was ignorant to his presence. It never once crossed his mind that his father would have already realized, noticed and had also been enduring, just like Zoruik, himself had been.
Zoruik's face tightened into an embarrassed, awkward smile when everything dawn on him.
"Sorry," He muttered, "haven't outgrown immaturity." He added in an almost inaudible voice.
"Son, there's nothing to be sorry about… And no, there's nothing immature about that. We're all growing. Besides, you're mature, in comparison to your sister. She appears more adaptable, but she doesn't know when she should be speaking up, and when she should be shutting up for good. There, son, don't be so self-derogatory. Lets' get moving, before that tigress implores you when I'm not around." Toreik smiled down warmly at his son.
Moved by an unexpected, new sensation of being accepted, understood, appreciated, and most of all love, Zoruik bit back tears that speak of completeness and joy which were threatening to overflow his lids. He nodded silently and followed his father out of the room.
On their way back to the dining room, Toreik brought up things about the world which Zoruik belonged to, Don Que'or.
"Dad, have you heard of 'Silent Command'?" Zoruik decided to ask Toreik instead, since whatever it is, parents tend to know more.
"Yes so, I do know what it is."
"Why is it a 'dying trait'?" Zoruik laughed a little awkwardly.
"If you shout out a defensive spell, your opponent can stop you by whacking the spell head, which is the tip of the spark created by your spell. Only silent spells cannot be evaded."
"You need some serious mugging. You haven't been doing your homework, have you son? All those books?" He raised a questioning eyebrow.
"Ehh... I am, But it's not that easy to go through pages after pages straight... Dad..."
"No excuses! Go in now and start doing your homework!" He barked, before pushing Zoruik into the room and slammed its door.
The dining hall was just beside Zoruik's room and the rest heard Toreik's command. Jeanette, who was lying there in pain, let out a small smile. Life was great with Zoruik away from her sight; it was all the better to hear Toreik reprimanding him. She loved that someone was still on her side, may be not completely, but somewhat. The small smile faded almost instantly when she thought about someone still being on her side. Not my little Jade, not my little Jade... She has been manipulated, she has been controlled, she has been brainwashed! It can't be that she would stand up for that filthy Y'hier in front of me!
"And Kyle. You come here this second!" Toreik issued his order.
Startled, Kyle turned to the rest, hoping they could drop some hints as to what was going on. Both shook their head. Jade even shook a finger at him, grinning like an idiot. He expected himself to be in great trouble. But what trouble? What trouble could he have done? He did nothing wrong... Or at least he think he did not.
"'Ve been studying? Or just ignoring things like your brother do?" His stern expression was pretty lamentable.
"Y..Yes.." Kyle tried hard to suppress his laughter.
"It's nothing funny!" Unaware of his own hilarious expression, he attempted to shove Kyle into the room.
"Dad, if you want me to die, there are many better ways to do so." Kyle quipped.
Hearing the slam of Zoruik's door once again, Jeanette sat up. Pretty sure that was to send Kyle into Zoruik's room, she stumbled out of the sofa. Ramming into everyone in her way, she hobbled to Zoruik's room and demand Kyle to exit the room immediately.
"Toreik, I know you treat them all the same, but you should know mixing around too much will influence him. Yes, Kyle may not be my son, but he's the only one I can turn my hopes on to continue a normal family." She made it sound like she had been keeping her cool all the while until Toreik blew her top, which was obviously not the case.
She had changed. She was becoming bolder. Not showing the least bit of respect to the head of the household, nor expressing the tiniest bit of remorse for all her terrible deeds. She did not see how badly she had hurt Zoruik, nor did she know how close Zoruik and Kyle were. All those times she was living in her own little world, assuming who was on her side, would forever be still. She had deteriorated to a child - one who would whine, yell and shrill for whatever she wanted. She was as spoilt as how she had tried to spoil her little girl, Jade.
However, Jade was also growing. Learning from the mistakes her mother made, and taught by her step-brother, Zoruik, she was progressing towards a normal teen. The marks of a spoilt brat were fading like shadows would when the sun bids farewell at the far end of the horizons.
"Mom…" Kyle shook her off, "What do you mean by that? Normal family? Is this not normal to you? If it isn't, why did you marry dad in the first place?"
"Kyle, I'll explain that to you later… Let me deal with your dad first."
"Jeanette Eden Moore, that's quite enough."Toreik pushed passed her, "Kyle isn't your son, so why care?"
"Will you bear me a son of my own?" She shot back hotly.
"Not that thee son I bear you will be a human anyway." Toreik shrugged.
" I'll make him a human."
Having heard quite enough of her absurd talk, Kyle cut in, "Mom, there are enough people in this family."
Jade who was rooted in fear, fell onto the sofa, hugging her stomach, "Mom! Only asexual reproduction gives you that outcome!"
Startled, Yoruik stared at Jade's reactions. Isn't that a little too much? She's your mother after all…
Hearing what her little angel had said, Jeanette quickly covered for herself, "Whatever it is, I am not going to allow Kyle to get any closer to Zoruik."
Toreik, who was already in the kitchen by then, replied coldly, "Kyle. In now."
Seeing how Kyle was caught between both adults, Yoruik pitied him. She was reminded the night where her brother and her were parted. Toreik had to stay behind to fight the war, while Noruik had to return behind the door. They broke into a violent tug-of-war between bringing the children home and leaving them behind. Yoruik, was awake that night, trembling with fear. She overheard the quarrel between her parents.
"You've the war ahead of you, dear. Leave the children to me. We've relatives…"
"No! I must keep them beside me. You won't be able to control them."
"It's not like you could have without me around." Noruik teared.
"Yoruik needs a figure of authority, and Zoruik needs a role model to lead him. I can't leave either behind."
"But this war is dangerous for both of them!"
"I'll bring them back alive, hopping and happy. Besides, it would be good for them to get to know the other world a little, instead of being like most of us, unaware of the other world."
After a tensed pause, Noruik issued her final decision, "I'll take Yoruik with me, you take Zoruik."
"No… I'll worry…"
"Whether you do or not, this is my limit."
"… Alright. Just mail me how you all are doing frequently." Grief and despair was evident in those words, as Yoruik remembered how she was taken away in the middle of the night. Too terrified by the battle going on between her father and his enemies, she did not have time to think of how life would be like without her brother and father. She left like her mother did, quietly.
She wanted to make Kyle feel at the least, accepted by someone, instead of used by both. For she remembered sneaking into her mother's room to read the letters her father sent.
Zoruik is giving me a headache… He keeps imploring me about the whereabouts of his sister you. I told you they should have stayed with me, at least he would have Yoruik to accompany when he thinks of you. How is Yoruik with you?
If she had screamed and woke her brother up then, maybe they would not have been parted. She felt like she had been used by her parents, and most of all, she had used her little brother. She knew how much Zoruik loved his mother. She saw it through, like light through clear glass. Having caused her brother such emotional pain, she did not want to leave Kyle in the lurch, like she did with her innocent brother, in agony.
"Kyle," she spoke quietly, "the card is in your hands."
Unable to grasp what Yoruik meant, Kyle cocked his head like a parrot trying to figure human tongue.
"It's just following your mind, and not others' choice." Yoruik amended.
When her words dawned on him, Kyle then vanished into Zoruik's room. He used to stand by Jade and protect her, only because Zoruik was pretty short tempered. He understood where Zoruik was coming from, just… He did not like the way Zoruik put his comments across. It was always that direct, as if he did not bother about the other party's emotions. He only protected Jade because by doing so, he not only earned Jade's trust, but also Jeanette's. With Jeanette's understanding, he knew life would be a hundred times or more, easier than the life Zoruik is going through. He wanted to use that understanding, to manipulate Jeanette, to alter her mindset, such that she could show a little compassion towards Zoruik… But that was how far he could sustain his patience for. She was outrageous, completely outrageous. Hatred and abhorrence rushed to the tips of his palm and he exerted extreme force on the door, it vibrated a few times in its fixed position.
Astounded, Jeanette stalked her away into her room. Dragging her feet as she went, she seemed almost like a zombie. A sense of dangerous darkness shroud around her as she moved further down the walkway, to her room.