Michelle and Tanno Eris were greatly discouraged at some of the results they observed over time regarding Seroth. "He's getting more powerful." Tanno insisted on one cool Sunday morning.

Michelle served the green tea she had brewed. Tanno was at the laptop he shared with his wife. "I can tell." Michelle said. She opened up the curtains and light filled the house as it sparkled and bounced off the shiny objects nearby. "That's better. We needed some light in here."

"Light is our best resistance against him."

"With every blade of grass he takes control over, it only adds to his power. He thinks that people are power, but that's not true."

"Seroth thinks he's strong. And he is. But light will always be stronger."

"My fear is that there isn't enough of us left. I got word that just this past week, two more of our friends have…"

"I know, I know. Marcus told me."

"Good morning." Bilia yawned as she entered the room, always greeting the morning with a smile.

"Bilia!" Tanno seemed spry enough. "Have you been reading the books like we told you?"

She nodded as she poured a cup of tea for herself. "They're nice books. I've been meaning to ask you why you have me read such things."

"Ah, but that's exactly what we want you to figure out." Michelle said.

"There's a reason for everything we do for you, Bilia." Tanno said lovingly. "And it's up to you to be discerning. That's the way we raised you."

"Hmm." Bilia would sometimes get that facial expression as if she was deep in thought.

"Bilia, in time you will know. But that time is not now." Michelle stated. Tanno gave her that look as if this was the perfect moment for Bilia to learn the truth.

As soon as Tanno took Bilia and Joshue to school, Michelle called up her friend Morgan. Morgan and Michelle both knew that Morgan by herself couldn't have supported her son. And that's why Michelle kept worrying.

"Hey Morgan."

"Good morning, Michelle. It's quite early."

"Oh you answered!"

"Yeah, I'm taking a sick day from work."

"I can sense that tone in your voice. I just had this feeling something was up so that's why I called."

"Oh. I'm fine. I'm just curled up on the couch in my pajamas and a blanket eating pop tarts and watching some of those old black and white movies."

"That's it! I'm coming over there!" Michelle was already strapping on her sandals and zipping up her jacket.

"You don't have to, Michelle! Really!"

"No, I'm really coming over there. I'm already in the car, hon."

Morgan groaned. "Why are you such a good friend?"

"Be there in five." Michelle hung up. As soon as she got on the road, the winds started up again. Oddly, Michelle thought there wasn't going to be any wind today. There was almost a magnetic feeling in the air. Michelle's ears started ringing on and off and she got a bit of a headache. "Nothing I can't handle." She said to herself. She was determined to reach Morgan, though the powerful winds through various branches and litter into the face of her little car.

She stepped out. The door didn't want to close. The winds thrashed the tree branches around and one pointy one which had lost all its leaves came sweeping at Michelle. She ducked and covered her head. The branch sliced across her upper arm and drips of blood guzzled out. Calmly and carefully, she squeezed the wound with her hand to stop the bleeding.

And then she didn't hesitate in looking up at the sky. "Bite me, Seroth. I dare ya." The wind seemed to die down a bit as it gave a retreating howl and headed back into the northern valley.

Michelle kicked the door (instead of knocking) with her left foot. Morgan opened it quickly and rushed Michelle inside. "He's angry! You shouldn't have come!" Morgan's teeth were chattering.

"Sheesh, why is your apartment always so drafty?" Michelle was totally relaxed and she flipped on the light switch. She rubbed her hands together and checked the thermostat. "Huh." She pretended to be surprised. "It says it's set for ninety degrees."

Morgan shuddered. "I know." When she spoke, she could see her breath.

"So why don't you leave the house. Come back to my place."

"And leave Ryan alone?"

"He didn't go to school today."

"Why not?"

"He said it was a nightmare. He won't leave his bed."

Michelle started to say something, but she just turned right around and opened the door of the boy's bedroom without warning. "Ten's a tough age, I will agree." She turned on the lights and saw Ryan laying on his side, and very much awake. Michelle and Morgan sat next to Ryan on the bed, the boy in between the two of them. "But you can't just stay home every time you have a nightmare."

"Are you here to tell me that it's all over? That the nightmares are going to stop?"

"No. I'm not going to lie to you, Ryan." Said Michelle somberly. "But I will tell you the truth. As you get older, there's going to be a lot of new things you're going to just have to learn to handle. How can you be expected to handle the responsibilities of which I speak if you can't even calm down after a nightmare?"

"Maybe I don't want responsibility."

Michelle paused a moment, gathering her words. "Then you'd make a pretty sad boy. Don't you think? You'd be—well, you can't really call it living. But no, you wouldn't be dead either. At least, not yet."

Ryan and Morgan gasped.

"That's right. I said it. A life without responsibility is a life without care. Which means you could end up killing yourself on accident. Or at the very least you'd always be in grave danger."

"I don't wanna do that! Let me care, Michelle, let me care!" Ryan sat up.

"Atta boy." Michelle muttered.


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