By: Corinne Madden
The smell of fresh bread entered my nostrils as I kept scribbling on the piece of paper in front of me on the old, wooden desk that used to belong to my father. The ebony ink moved swiftly across the page, the dragon’s head now forming on the page as I tried to ignore the smell of food entering my small room. I placed the pen down near the top right corner of the page and huffed, gazing up at the row of books that were filled with research that my father, Wil, and I have done the past six years at Jigme Lab. Most of the books that were stacked on the small shelf above my window were about the fables and legends of Kazuo, like the tales of the Seven Dragon Guardians or the legends of the Deities’ War, a war that lasted for twenty years from the Light Deities and the Deities of Darkness. Even though most people thought these books to be just fables, I knew they were real thanks to my father. At least, I’ve never seen them in real life, but I know my father has met with the Deities’ and the Dragon Guardians, and I chose to believe him. I looked back down at the picture of the Dragon, smiling as I thought it to be my favorite Dragon Guardian, Ryu, the Fire Dragon that protects Ashura, the continent I live on.
“Raven!” a voice shouted from downstairs, “Raven! Time to eat!”
“Not hungry, thanks though!” I shouted back as I picked up the pen. The ink moved across the page as footsteps echoed throughout the small wooden house, eventually stopping at the doorway of my room.
“C’mon, Raven, Mom made bread to go with the small chicken from Mr. Nojo. It can feed all of us, and Dad is going to home this afternoon anyways so we shouldn’t eat much anyways.”
“I know, Wilano,” I said smiling, turning to face my twin brother. His raven hair was shaggy and starting to reach his eyes, but his grin reached ear-to-ear. His tan skin resembled how long he would stay down at the docks in the Mura Harbor, the harbor next to the village I lived in with my family, Mura Village. His eyes were a cool, cerulean blue, shining like the waters the laid in Kazuo’s oceans. He dressed himself in a white tank top with navy trimming around the sleeves, hem, and collar, faded denim shorts, and dusty brown sandals worn from the cobblestone roads the paved the docks. “That’s why I’m not hungry, we can just eat it when Dad gets home. Now, c’mon, let’s go meet up with Jimmy and Faida and get to the harbor,” I said as I slipped on my black biker boots that came up to my calve, “It’s almost noon, which means his ship is going get here really soon. Let’s go.”
“But Mom already made us food! We can’t leave without eating!” Wil pouted as both of us went down the steps. That was the main difference between Wil and I in our eighteen years of life, Wil acted like a small child when it came things he wanted to do first, meanwhile I was the responsible adult. We may be twins, but our personalities were polar opposites.
“We’ll eat when Dad gets back, now c’mon, we’re going to be late! Where’s Mom?”
“She was getting water from the pump last time I checked,” Wil said glaring at me, “You know, something that you were supposed to do today.”
“Oh, cut it out, Wil,” I said as we walked out the front door, “You don’t do half of your chores either, so I don’t want to hear it.”
“Yeah, that may be true,” Wil said, putting his hands behind his head, “But I still do more chores than you do, Raven.”
“Well, most of the time,” I said, my right hand caressing the back of my neck, “But I’m also helping out Dad with his research here back at home. Yes, I haven’t been to the lab in a while, but I’m still helping him out.”
“I swear, Mom is right about you and Dad,” he chuckled, “You two are too headstrong for your own good. It’s why he told us he wasn’t going to come back to Mura Village until he completed his next Experiment.” I smiled as we climbed down the dirt road that led to the main Hub and the Harbor beside it. The small huts that were packed together like sardines provided shade from the sun that sat high in the almost-afternoon sky. The bustle of the town was already reaching my ears as we finally hit the cobblestone steps.
“Well, it’s been six years,” I said looking at my twin, “It’s nice to know he’s actually coming home.”
“Yeah, I guess,” Wil sighed. I smiled softly and placed a hand on his shoulder, Wil returning the smile as we heard the ship horn go off from Mura Harbor. Wil and I looked at each other, our eyes wide with nervousness on our faces, knowing we only had a few minutes to get to the harbor. We quickly turned down a small alleyway that was a pathway to most of the houses in Mura Village and quickly headed down towards the water. We ran down the cobblestone pathways with clothes lines and small lightbulbs hanging on a black thread that was teetered across the buildings. “Raven, it’s the first bell, that means Dad’s ship has just hit the horizon line, it’s not at the Harbor yet!”
“I know, but knowing us we’ll get lost and never see Dad get off the ship!” I shouted as I jumped over a small box create lounged in the middle of the alley. I smiled as we hurried down, the sounds of seagulls, people, and ship horns growing. My heart was beating and my legs and arms started to move faster with each step, until we saw one of the many stone gates the presided itself in Mura Harbor.
“Look, Raven, there’s the ship! It’s over there!” Wil said pointing to a large craft gliding on the horizon. I watched in amazement and excitement as the thought of my father coming home after six years of being away for research on his new experiment. I smiled, it occurred to me and Wil that this is the same spot where Dad used to take Wil and I fishing when we were younger, even before he started taking us to Jigme Lab.
“Hey, Raven! Wilano!” a sweet voice chirped out through all the noise, “Hey guys!”
Wil and I turned to the voice to find it’s owner. A young girl, only two years younger than us, her reddish hair that only came down to her shoulders flying behind her, her electric blue eyes the first thing we recognize of our friend. She wore a with pink floral print dress and brown sandals with her white, beaded ankle bracelet from her father when she was younger. I looked around for her stepbrother while Wil waved her over to the place where we would always hang out as kids.
“Hey, Fiada!” Wil said, “Are you waiting for your dad too?”
“Yeah,” she said as her hands gripped her knees, heavy breathing coming from her nose and mouth as she tried to catch her breath, “Jimmy was behind me, but I’m not sure where he is now.”
“I’m up here, stupid,” a rough voice echoed from on the stone arc, “I was behind you the whole time, Fiada, you know that.”
“Oh, sorry Jimmy! I forgot that you usually take the rooftops down to the harbor.” I smirked as I looked back up at Jimmy, his rough, raven hair in it’s usual unruly state as it flowed with the wind, his gunmetal eyes staring out to the sea as he waited for his step-dad to get home. His maroon t-shirt outlined his pale, muscular physique, while his dark jeans and black boots made him seem taller and more threating than he usually is. His chin and jaw line were starting to peak black hairs that defined his face, making him seem old enough to work out at sea as either a sailor or a scientist for Jigme Laboratory, even though he had one more year to join. Hey, it was still better than the two years that I had.
“Nice to know you’re out of trouble for once, Slade,” I said while giving a cocky grin, “Did you get bored with that life?”
“If I was bored with that life I would’ve left Mura Village, and Ashura, by this point in time. I would’ve headed Northeast to Indra by this point in time,” he said with a straight face as he looked down at me, “Although, Nootau, I’m surprise you’re not locked in your room writing about those dragons you’ve been researching. Besides,” he chuckled, “Who knows if they even exist, I mean, it’s farfetched.”
“Well, we’ll know soon, Slade,” I said, rolling my eyes as I looked on at the appearing ship, “That’s why my dad has been gone for so long, he’s been doing more research on the Dragon Guardians.”
“Your old man is wasting his time, Raven,” Jimmy said as he jumped down, the ship arriving in the Harbor, “Now, c’mon, you need to see your dad.”
I smiled as the four of us rushed to the large freighter, the crew starting to unload from the ramp that lead to the cobblestones below. After scanning the crowd, I finally saw him for the first time in six years. He grew out a beard and his hair was almost down to his shoulders, but his gentle, cerulean eyes stayed the same. He was skinnier than before, but has more muscle from his research. He wore black boots that came up to his calve, brown pants that were worn with rips here and there, and a cream-colored shirt that had a brown belt that housed twelve different colored flasks. In his hands that showed his veins was the strap of a bag that held his clothes and essentials, the one on his back hidden by a long, brown cape that almost reached the ground. He was older, but I still hope after all this time he remembers the kids he left behind.
“Dad! Dad, it’s us! Raven and Wilano, the twins!” Wil shouted while running up to our dad. I watched as he turned to face up, tears forming in Gifre Bela’s eyes. He jumped down from the ramp, running towards us as he set his bag down. We slammed into his, hugging him as tightly as we could, the six years apart trying to recollect itself. We didn’t care if people were watching us, we were just happy to be together again.
“Raven, Wil, it’s so good to see you again!” Dad said as he got up, “You two have grown a lot, have you. Still helping out your mother?”
“Of course, Dad,” Wil smiled, “How was your Research trip? Did you get the information you need?”
“Yes, I did, Son,” he laughed while ruffing up Wil’s hair, “But I still have much to work on for this experiment. In fact, there’s something I want to ask you too.” I watched as his face turned serious, the air around us tensing. Wil and I looked at each other before looking at our dad.
“Sure, Dad, what’s up?” I asked as I looked at the man before me.
“I need a test subject for this experiment, and I was wondering if one of you two will do it. Now mind you, it’s not going to be now, but this process should take a few months to prepare before actual testing begins. So, would one of you be okay to try it?”
“I’ll do it, Dad!” I said smiling, “I love going to the lab anyways, you know that!”
“Alright, alright,” Dad laughed, “Now, what do you say we head on home. I bet Mom’s making us a special treat, isn’t she?”
“Yeah, she is!” I said while Wil gave me a weird look, “Mom’s cooking is the best though! By the way, did you find anything about the Dragon Guardians?”
“I wasn’t looking for the Dragons this time, Raven,” he said, “I was looking for something else, but I’ll tell you later. Besides, I want to know how you kids have been.”
“Alright,” Wil and I said in unison, “We’ll beat you to the top!”
“Hey, wait!” Dad said, realizing what was going to happen, “Wait, I’m too old for this!”
“Go!” we shouted as we started up the cobblestone stairs, running back home where for the first time, we would all sit together around a table.
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