The air was still as they appeared in Ayanni's house. Jev was there with tea waiting for them as he sat at the dinner table.
"I've been waiting for you guys. What took you so long?" He didn't mean it at all. He was happy to see his best friend and sister back. Lera was there, just off to the side as Jev hugged his sister.
"It's good you've been taking care of yourself Jev." Ayanni gave a high five to him.
Paroppe wore a smile, although she wasn't feeling up for much conversation with Ayanni around. Though since she hadn't seen Jev, she made sure to not make it weird.
"Thank you for taking care of them Lera." Jev turned towards her. She nodded and looked away. Once he saw Lera's face, he knew something was up. "We can catch up later. Paroppe why don't you go see mom and dad, and Ayanni I'm sure your parents want to see you again."
"Good with me." Ayanni held onto his bag and left the house.
"Seriously… Let's go Lera." Paroppe grabbed Lera's hand.
"You guys need some time alone. I'll keep Lera company here."
"Yea, go ahead Paroppe." Lera waved off Paroppe.
"Seriously… Take care then. I'll message you after I talk to them." Her eyes shifted from the smiling Jev to the awkward smile of Lera.
"What happened?" He stood nearby Lera with a terrible looking face.
"They had a fight."
"It's a bit more complicated, but yea, that's it."
"Then uncomplicate it."
"Uh…" She really didn't want to explain it or know how to either.
"At least tell me, are they injured physically?"
"Was the fight the only thing that happened?"
"Yes…" It wasn't true. A lot did happen, but it just happens to be the main thing she needs to worry about right now.
Jev rubbed the bridge of his nose. He did get updates from Ayanni and Paroppe. He only messaged Lera when there was something that sounded like an issue, but because of it being a different world, it was tough to understand for him.
"Mom! Dad! I'm back!" When Paroppe entered her home her parents were there. Jev must have planned this ahead of time for her.
"Princess!" Her father grabbed her and lifted her off her feet.
"Paroppe!" Paroppe's mother came over and hugged her.
"I brought some presents for you two." They moved towards the kitchen table. White walls and white table. Clean and bright around the room. She started pulling out a bunch of things she brought home. First were the t-shirts. The broken heart shaped decorations that they could wear. A little too big for her mother, but otherwise worked. "This will look well on you two when you're around the house. If you wear them together like this…" She showed them all the merchandise, clothing, and candy that she had saved. Thankfully she didn't have to worry about the candy going bad.
"Where did you go?" Her mother had asked as they tried out the candy.
"Actually that was something I wanted to talk to you about." During the last week in the other world, she had asked Lera about telling her parents. At first Lera didn't want to have more people know about it. In a way Paroppe accepted that answer, but a day later she had told her that it would be fine. So she told them about the Lera first to ease them into it. Only before she told them about the new world, she stopped as her mother spoke.
"That does make sense now. We were invited to the counsel, just after you left. They told us that anything that you and Jev talked about where you had been, was to be kept secret."
Jev never told her that.
'Why didn't he tell me?'
It did make the talk a little easier. She also showed them the tech pad as she explained. Showing pictures of her time in Nerd-Con, Yini and her friends at the gym, Thrann and the crew. She even tried explaining Knights \u0026 Kingdoms to them. It was funny when she explained that essentially she created Jev. She talked about the different foods and drinks she had tried. They hadn't finished Sparkling Gate and planned on leaving the DVDs with her parents after asking Lera if she could get a tv. Now that she was back she could purchase it for their home. Just like Lera, she shared the sentiment that having Lera make everything for free wasn't as fun.
"… and these are just the start."
Ayanni had presented a bunch of documents that he had prepared. Detailing blueprints of different technology, how they advanced to their current era and where they ended up.
He had been disappointed that the generator that he had purchased, was too small and there wasn't a direct way to use it in his home world. He may have gotten a little too far ahead of himself.
'At least I try to help.'
He was still feeling down. He knew trying to force Paroppe to lose her memory wasn't right, but he had to do it.
"Tell me what happened." After Paroppe took Lera back to his parents home, Jev went to Ayanni. His best friend was having a fight with his sister. He wanted to at least make sure that it wasn't Lera's fault. If it was just Paroppe and Ayanni, then he would stay out of their way.
"Jev, do you remember when we had fell down in the cavern?" Jev knew what he was talking about and was starting to get the idea that Lera wasn't at fault. "The ground had given away below us and we were stuck down there for a day. Trapped, bleeding, alone. Paroppe was separated, but we found her just as our parents found us. She was alone and in pain."
Jev stayed silent, letting Ayanni continue.
"She had nightmares for months. We barely got her to leave the house. Jev, you and I stayed with her when your parents couldn't. We protected her and later she protected us. She grew stronger, but I can still see that pain in her eyes." Ayanni sighed. "Didn't you see it? After she came back, she told us she was stabbed. She said she had slept, but that was just a partial truth. She had a nightmare."
Jev had seen it too, but he ignored it at the time. His sister had grown up, at least enough where she didn't need anyone to care for her constantly. He thought that she would become pressured if he was the one to say anything.
"I'm aware of what I did… How I went about it… But I think that what I did was right. Do you think it's wrong of me to want Paroppe to always be happy? For her to never be sad?"
"What do you mean?" He didn't like the look on his friend's face.
"What if we could remove Paroppe's pain? Anything that happens to her, we just remove any bad memories."
"This was your idea?"
"Of course. Lera wouldn't do that, unless I gave her a push. Jev, she would never be in pain!"
"Ayanni, I want you to hear what I am about to say." After he rubbed his face with his hands, Jev stood up from his chair and walked over to Ayanni. The golden glow from the fireplace lit his back. "If you mess with Paroppe's memories, good or bad… This is a warning. She is my sister, your friend, I care for you both. Ayanni, if you think you can do whatever you want, without taking consideration of Paroppe's feelings, I will beat some sense into you." Jev gripped Ayanni's shoulder as he stood behind his chair. "You get this warning as my best friend, but anymore of this crazy stuff, and we will be done with each other. You've gone far before, but messing with Paroppe is taking it too far."
Lera struggled to escape from Paroppe's grasp. She managed to wiggle out from her grasp and walked over towards the window.
She belonged to a family. That family was now fighting. While she wasn't at fault, she felt like doing something to help. For now though, she just might make the situation worse. It always feels like she is the one doing wrong. Breaking and hurting others. That feeling is strong that it drowns out the logical side that tells her that she's just blaming herself.
Also staying in bed with Paroppe, for her to sleep, needs to stop. It's getting a little weird for her. As family, a sister, Lera doesn't think that she should do that. The age difference makes it creepy. She's going to have to tell Paroppe tomorrow about that.
Then there is sleep. She doesn't need it, but when intense things happen, she gets sleepy. Like yesterday, she was tired, yet she didn't sleep. Actually that same reason was probably why Paroppe had fallen asleep. It was only morning about six hours ago and now, the moon and stars were out.
'At least I can see the stars.'
Another thing was that tomorrow was the official start of the festival. All pre-tournaments had taken place to get everyone ready for the arena battles. Two separate tournaments, close and long range. Close range had been what Ayanni, Jev, and Paroppe wanted to initially fight in. With her coming into the picture, the other two had come with her, without taking place in the tournament. She felt bad for taking them away, but overall the adventure had been fun. At least she thought so. Then the long range was mainly spells and archery. Though if you had touch or spells that affected weapons and body, you could take place in the short range tournament. One on one duels over this next week and at the end the finals.
Lera planned to just walk around the city. Enjoying the fun sights and sounds as mostly an observer. Unless she was with her family, that sounded the most for her.
Paroppe's sleep wasn't great. She was stuck watching the life drain away from her little sister. When she woke up, realizing that everything was fine, she sighed. She needed to keep herself together, not just for herself, but for everyone.
Once she cleaned herself up, Lera talked to her about sleeping in the same bed. She could understand what Lera was saying, but did it really matter? She agreed anyways, since it wasn't like Lera was even sleeping. She didn't even need to sleep. Honestly she didn't know if that was even a good thing.
Another thing Lera brought up was the Light Festival. She wanted to go together for the first day, but afterward she was going to walk around on her own. Paroppe didn't like that idea. If Lera left, she would feel alone. Paroppe didn't want to deal with Ayanni right away.
At the thought of Ayanni she fumed. It frustrated her that he would try to erase her memories just because it was painful. Sure in a way she agreed with that, but after all she needed to have pain otherwise who would she be. Always happy. Always naïve. Just like one of the robots from Sparkling Gate.
"Please Lera don't leave."
"I won't leave, I just want some time alone. Don't you want to be with your family?"
"You are my family too. My little sister." Paroppe saw a complicated expression on Lera's face. It was like she was hurt. She didn't want to hurt her. "I'm…"
"You're right Paroppe. I'll be right back."
'Why would Lera be leaving?'
"You're coming back right?"
Lera nodded and she disappeared from her sight.
In the void room, Lera stood there. If she was going to be their family and Paroppe's little sister, being smaller would be better. She still was against sleeping in the same bed as Paroppe, but at least 'little' sister would be true.
She saved what she looked like, in those pods where her previous costumes were. In a way her current costume was what she looked like, just shorter and younger. Possibly thirteen years old.
She was thirty-five years old, at least she still believed that. Then again, she became Lera just a couple months ago. So wouldn't it be better to think that way? She still had a lot to learn and understand, so wasn't she just a tall child? At least that was her thinking when she went to make her smaller self.
Then she teleported back to Paroppe's room. She only left for a couple minutes at most.
"Why?" She gestured towards Lera's new body. There was mostly confusion on her face.
"In a way I'm only two months old and in another I'm thirty-five. You call me your little sister, so I just made a younger, smaller, body."
Paroppe wasn't short, but now Lera was shorter than herself. Just around her chest in height. It was different, but Paroppe adapted quickly. Actually she found herself enjoying the shorter Lera, because now she was exactly like a little sister. Ever since Jev out grew her, she always wanted another younger sibling or… something else for the future.
Crowds of people swarmed into the arena on the northern side of the city. Jev was there waiting to be called. He stayed behind, unlike the others and trained for the tournament. His parents did support him and were going to come watch him. He hadn't told Ayanni or Paroppe, but right now wasn't the time. If anything his family would bring Paroppe along and then she would find out. Ayanni could stay away for now. He really wanted his friend to take a break. That other world messed him up.
No, that isn't true, it was Lera's fault. Not intentionally, he knew that, but she put him in that situation. A situation where everything was around him and he didn't need to stop his search for knowledge. That isn't even including what happened between Ayanni and Paroppe. The worst part was that Paroppe would be with Lera constantly while they were back.
If Lera could just leave them, they could go back to how things used to be. Obviously that was never going to happen again. Sure he could just get Lera to remove herself from their memories, but the idea of someone messing with his mind or his friends and family… His feelings about that subject and anything related to Lera was in the negatives.
Jev was just lightly keeping his body warmed up. A few contestants around him were doing the same. Keeping each other at arm's length and making sure to not show off their power to each other.
Eventually Jev was called and so was his opponent. They were led out onto the platform in the center of the arena. Well it used to be the training area in the northern part of the city, but it was renovated to support the tournament, just like the other parts of the city.
It was a familiar place, that at the same time wasn't. Crowds of people below the arena were surrounding the platform. Everyone watched him and his opponent walk onto the stage. He couldn't see his family, but he was sure that they were here.
The platform's usual white-tiled had some scuff marks, dents, and blood around it. For the most part they are enchanted to clean and self repair, but over the day during the battles it can get intense. Though once given enough time at break or over night, they will be ready in top shape. Jev's battle was about the fifth before the early afternoon break. Since most battles end quickly, they can fit a bunch throughout the day.
Jev took his place, stood there watching his opponent. Once the referee called out Jev sprinted over to his opponent who took a defensive position with his sword. He wasn't all too sure what to expect, but speed would help him. A sword has extended reach, but needs an extra second to move from one side of the body to the other.
Jev jumped into the air after the first dodge to get a feel for how fast his opponent was. Unfortunately for him he was slower than Ayanni who wore full armor and had a big metal shield. Jev easily dodged the man's sword and slid on the ground kicking the man's leg. It cracked, but the man still held on. Taking a knee. He hadn't moved from his spot and now at a clear disadvantage, he could surrender. With no attempt, Jev pressured him further wearing him down before getting behind him wrapping his arms and legs around him. Jev choked the man until he eventually tapped the ground in surrender.
With Jev's first battle won, he helped up his opponent and they walked off the stage. The next battles would be best out of three as there wouldn't be as many fights throughout the week.
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