“Why don’t I use up some of this excess energy, so someone else can have a turn showing off?” I suggested.
Without waiting for a response, I started forming several spells, loading each with an abundance of energy. I had pulled in too much earlier for such a short demonstration. Oh. Alma’s protections were down… I sighed, pausing for a moment midway through the spells. Now I would wonder if…
“Don’t worry, boss-man, sir. Yes, you affected her, but she already loved you. The love she projected to everyone was no less real.” insisted Aaliyah as she hugged me.
Everyone was frozen in place, except for Aaliyah and me. I knelt down and hugged her.
“Thank you. Do you think we’re getting through to my parents?” I asked.
“You always do just fine, boss-man, sir. Don’t worry. Your parents aren’t as adventurous as you. They won’t get in too much trouble.” claimed Aaliyah.
“That doesn’t sound too reassuring.” I admitted.
Letting go of me, Aaliyah walked over toward my father. “Well, there is this…” she stated, reaching up toward him.
I lifted her and asked “What?”
Her hand seemed to pass through my father’s chest, emerging a moment later, covered in something.
“What did you do?” I asked.
“Alpy noticed your father’s heart beating a bit irregularly. She’s planning on talking to you about it later. I just pulled out some clogs. Icky, aren’t they!?” she exclaimed, grinning at me as she held her hand toward me.
“What!? Is there something I can do?” I asked.
Aaliyah stared into my eyes and said, “Most everyone dies eventually, James.”
Looking into her eyes, I became aware of something vast before me, an endless ocean with unfathomable depths. Yet, I was holding this tiny girl who stretched on and on for eternity. I wasn’t ready to lose my father. Not yet. I knew she was right, but… Was she taking him soon?
“Are you kidding, boss-man, sir? I just put many years of happy eating back on his life!” she exclaimed. Leaning closer, she whispered “I may have done a bit more than you just saw.” Then she grabbed my face in her tiny hands, somehow clean again, and said, “When the time does come, I’ll still be taking care of everyone. You worry too much, boss-man, sir. I took care of your mother too.”
“What was wrong with mother?” I asked.
“Nothing yet, and now that ‘yet’ is fixed. I’m an expert at parental health.” she told me with a wink. “Just take a deep breath, and get on with the show!”
I did as she said and heard the others come back into motion while I finished my spells.
“Oh. That looks eerie, dear.” stated mother. “What did you do?”
“I redirected light around the area, and then created a dim light within. There’s also a spell that will light up the ground wherever it’s touched.” I explained.
“I’m guessing you wanted me to demonstrate a bit more then.” surmised Cosette. “Very well. Even this shade’s been difficult on me though, so let me just check on Portentia first. I’ll be right back.”
“Let’s show them what we can do, sis. No need for an intermission.” suggested Brandon.
Brenna rolled her eyes and said, “Fine, but I’m going to cheat too.”
As he walked away from the group, Brandon grew in size till his clothes were taught again. His giant footprints glowed as he passed into the area of my spell. Brenna followed, preparing a spell as she went.
Brandon attacked, bringing two giant fists down toward his sister. She flipped backward, and unleashed her spell on Brandon’s legs, knocking them out from under him. He managed to catch himself with his hands enough to turn his fall into a roll. Brenna cartwheeled out of the way, and then quickly created a fire between them.
Even knowing that Brandon could heal himself from a burn, I felt a little uncomfortable with that spell present. At least she hadn’t used it on him.
As Brandon stepped around the fire, Brenna created a flash of light in front of his eyes and ran behind him. When Cosette and Portentia sprinted out of the house toward them, Brenna fell backward as she tried stopping herself.
Brandon turned around to find Portentia staring up at him and visibly gulped. “Emma! Tree me!” he yelled.
“Fine! Just a sec!” she replied, throwing a seed toward him and creating a gust of air to blow it farther.
Portentia, however, didn’t wait. She ran to Brandon’s side and kicked the back of his leg. Then she jumped at his descending arm, and used it to toss him. I had to admit that watching someone her size throw a ten foot tall man was very impressive.
Brenna and Cosette were doing more traditional martial arts against one another, but Brenna was too outmatched physically. She couldn’t really even harm Cosette with a physical blow. When she knocked Cosette back with a spell, Cosette leaped back at her, twisting out of her clothes and changing into a black wolf midair. Brenna was so startled that she fell backward, allowing Cosette to land on her, baring her fangs.
“Is that what you do, Raine?” asked mother.
Raine shook her head negatively.
“Raine’s transformation is even quicker and more dramatic.” I told them.
“Her clothes tend to shred instead of slipping off. Therianthropes don’t have the type of control Cosette’s showing.” explained Alma. “Ai. Mai. Go help the redheads.”
“Yes, Lady Pendreigh.” they replied.
As they sprinted into action, they started casting spells to melt the distant snow. Then Ai created a force to push Cosette off Brenna while Mai used a spell to trip Portentia. Brandon used the distraction to dive for the branchless tree Emma had grown, attempting to pull it out of the ground.
“Oh, stop teasing the poor boy.” ordered Alma with a smile.
“Fiiine.” replied Emma.
The tree tore free, and Brandon immediately tried clubbing Portentia with it, almost hitting Mai.
“Careful, soulless! I’m helping you if you didn’t notice!” exclaimed Mai as Portentia flipped over the tree at her.
Water surged through the air into the fray, slamming against Portentia. Cosette seemed to melt before the water hit, but then appeared as an exceptionally quick bear, swiping at Ai.
“Just put your clothes back on already.” snapped Ai as she dodged the swipe.
I never had thought to see a bear shrug before, but this one did. Then she dove at her clothes, her shape contorting into them. Even more surprising to me was Midnight being pulled out from nowhere, severing Mai’s control over the water as it connected.
“James, did you see that!?” asked Alma.
“Yes. She just touched the ground and pulled out her staff.” I replied.
“We probably should stop this if that’s involved.” stated Alma.
“Have a little faith. She’s very skilled now.” I told her.
“Yes, she is, which is why the twins might do something rash.” she cautioned.
The light diminished around me, and I barely glimpsed Raine before she moved. A deeper darkness briefly moved throughout the area I had darkened. A large circle formed from everyone who had been fighting, with each of them staring around.
“T-that’s e-enough.” muttered Raine from the center, back to her human form.
“Whoa.” stated father, looking shocked.
Alma was peering at him inquisitively but said nothing.
“Did you feel that?” asked mother, looking startled.
“If you felt afraid for a moment, don’t be too alarmed. That was just Raine. She can’t help it.” I told her. Was this why Aaliyah had appeared, why she helped my father?
“Maybe.” came her voice as a whisper on the wind.
I smiled, grateful for my friend.