Crossover Fan Fiction ❯ Stares ❯ A Light In The Sky ( Chapter 2 )

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The sky turned green and then red and then a thin white line appeared in the distance. It was three years since Brother had left us to tutor the daughter of Dad’s younger brother. Or cousin. I wasn’t quite sure. I stood beside mother, staring out the window beside Mother. Dad was holding Tanya, something she’d consented to in order to keep the peace. Our father was a simple swordsman, not a genius reincarnated in this world of peace and quiet.

The light suddenly expanded and in a breath everything we knew was gone. I was underwater still gripping mother’s skirts. I swam for the surface, mother joining me, panicked. It was fresh water. A lake or pond. I looked around and followed mother to the shore. In the near distance a tall city wall stood foreboding, and in the far distance the light we’d seen faded. I heard a scream and looked up, helpless as a man fell out of the sky and slapped the ground at terminal velocity.

I am a stranger to violence. It wrenched at me. My prior life was all imaginary dangers at a comfortable distance, entertainments. Mother slowly rose to her feet, recovering her endless reserve. I pointed to the city wall.

“Where are we?” I asked her. She looked at the city and wrung out her bonnet, and her skirts. I shivered. It was damn cold from the dunking we’d just received. Better than falling to our deaths. I heard a few more thumps and screams that ended abruptly.

“Shirone. I think Roxy is here. We should seek her assistance,” mother decided. We turned towards the wall and looked for a path, eventually discovering a gate, and a guard. We were let in. Some streets later we arrived at the inner wall. Mention of Roxy Migurdia widened eyes of the royal guards and we were escorted to a throne room where a fat boy with a bowl cut and a terrible expression waited.

Prince Pax Shirone explained that Roxy was gone, but offered Mother a job as a maid in the palace, with an implied threat to me if she didn’t comply. The guards all looked unhappy with this pronouncement. Mother was defeated, unable to defend herself and me. I’m only four. What am I going to do?

Mother worked as a maid. I kept close, both to insure the leering pervert prince didn’t turn his attentions from his obsession with Roxy, who I still haven’t met, to Mother. She worked, often without changing expression, cleaning, laundering, dusting, all the usual things like she’d done them in a palace before. I kept quiet, practicing my stealth and using what mana I had to strengthen my body, climbing under and over and into rafters or atop bookshelves and cases of various foodstuffs and valuables palaces tended to collect. Prince Pax was a demented brute. I wanted to kill him. His guards were compliant only because their families were held hostage.

The prince had an older brother named Zanoba who was… odd. Intensely strong, like Superman, and probably retarded or at least autistic. And he had a prized treasure which he eventually, after some wheedling on my part using weaponized Moe I’d learned from Totsuka, he showed me. It was a delicate figurine of a wizard girl with a staff. It was as good as anything prized in Akihabara, and done in that style out of ceramic. It was not of this world, because this place was still primitive. The aesthetic of capturing motion, and the fine detail implied no fingers had formed this, but advanced magic. Something my brother could do.

When Mother saw the figurine, and who held it, she frowned. “That’s Roxy. Rudy must have made that,” she said.

“Who is Rudy?” asked Prince Shirone.

“My brother,” I said. “He’s a mage. He can shape stone, clay, metals, and casts without chanting,” I explained.

“He was a Water Saint at age five,” Mother explained. “A prodigy. A genius. Roxy was his teacher. He… idolized her.” Mother’s eyes had some questionable thoughts behind them. Apparently brother was a complicated fellow.

“Truly?” asked the prince, and for the first time I realized he wasn’t retarded. He was sharp, but largely indifferent to other people, probably because he was Superman. He couldn’t run faster than a speeding bullet, or fly like my sister, but he had the durability and strength, and a mind seeking something worthy of his attention.

“Rudeus Greyrat is my brother. He is immensely powerful, skilled beyond his years, and creative. He makes these figurines to pass the time, as a mere hobby. But you can see the care and attention,” I wheedled, showing the vocabulary I’d been building while I perched hidden in the various halls of the palace. Mother looked startled at the words I said. She hugged me to her side, as if to reassure herself I was really there. I took her hand in my small one.

“He is fond of mother, who helped raise him, and would not be pleased if anything bad happened to her. Keeping her safe would probably earn his favor, possibly make him more open to training you in his art?” I suggested, not promising but raising the potential. Zanoba considered.

“When will he arrive?” he finally asked us.

“That is a mystery we do not know the answer to. We were all presumably teleported to different places. Some people were teleported high in the sky and fell to their deaths. Mother and I found ourselves in a pond outside the city walls, not deep, but certainly startling.”

“If I were cured of my malady I could at least defend myself. As I am now, I am unable to leap and am relatively helpless.”

“What malady would that be?” asked Zanoba.

“A rare poison used to kill nobles. I was struck with it while defending… my charge. I’ve been crippled ever since, and was dismissed from my placement over it. I think the nobles intended for me to die but reveal the enemy who attacked me. I was clever instead, and evaded them,” Mother said in her quiet voice. I think mother has issues. I will want to talk to her about her past, before Paul.  

“Ah. I know of this incident. My tutors mentioned it some years ago. So it is thus,” Zanoba considered. “I will inquire of my apothecary as to an antidote. It is likely that such a thing exists. If the nobles you mention were responsible for your treatment after the attack, they would have little reason to tell you the truth,” he admitted sternly. Smarter than he looked.

“Curing mother’s illness would go far to earn Rudy’s gratitude,” I suggested.

Zanoba looked at me, considering. “It is as you say. I will do what I can.”

A month passed before Zanoba sought us out in our chambers, getting giggles from the other maids who probably believed an entirely different activity would take place. Considering his Man of Steel body, the woman of Kleenex was likely. Thankfully such things would not be happening.

Zanoba presented a plain potion bottle and explained its contents and usage. Mother took it and with some trepidation swallowed a mouthful. It was obviously terrible tasting. She waited, struggling not to wretch, and eventually settled down into her chair to wait. I watched, as did the Prince. She began to sweat and sagged, then befouled herself. I helped undress her and clean her up, getting her into bed, then retrieved a pitcher of water, which she drank from a rough clay fired cup. The tremors and illness continued all night, and I brought her small nutritious food she could choke down, and more water and clean rags to wipe up her mess. At the end of two days she finally relaxed and slept without fever or mess. The following morning was able to keep down food properly.

The prince visited several times and arranged with the palace steward to see that mother and I be quartered in Zanoba’s wing, to care for him directly. Pax tried to complain, demanding we return to his personal service but Zanoba merely placed his hand on his brother’s shoulder and squeezed until there was a pop. Pax screamed and retreated, leaving us in peace.

“That should do,” Zanoba said to himself. Now we just had to wait and see if Rudeus would show up, and rely on Zanoba to keep us safe from retaliation.