"You have fought well my prince!" Paroppe watched as her brother was hugged by their mother.
She felt better knowing that Jev didn't give up on the tournament while they were away.
"Quick and efficient, son." Their father put his hand on Jev's shoulder.
"Could have been better." Paroppe commented with a smile.
Paroppe noticed that when Jev's eyes fell on Lera, he shook his head and ignored her. That didn't sit right with her, but maybe he was just being considerate of their parents.
The rest of the night they had walked along the streets. Colored mana stones, paper lamps with fun designs, and bright lights decorated the streets. Their family eat food and played street games along the road. There were masks that both Lera and Paroppe got. The design was of a smiling face. Matching each other as they walked through the streets. Paroppe's parents were enjoying themselves. They had wanted to see the play near the center of the city before the night ended. They walked over there and watched the play. Jev kept away from Lera. He wasn't obvious about it at all. At least she hoped her parents didn't notice.
The whole event was cheerful and fun.
The night Paroppe was worn out. Lera had no plans sleeping tonight. She just stared out the window. She noticed that Jev was out there looking at her. He gestured for her to come to him.
Lera walked out the room, down the staircase, and out the back door.
"Enjoy the night?" Jev was looking towards her. He was serious. Though it wasn't like she was expecting a cheerful conversation from him.
"Now, what is up with that?" Jev gestured to Lera's body.
"…It just made sense."
"And when you hurt my sister, that made sense as well?"
"I know it wasn't your fault, but do you think this can go on?"
"Why can't it?" Lera didn't really understand. Sure, by getting hurt, that would not be good for those involved, Paroppe especially. Though that was just one mistake.
"No… sorry. I guess with Paroppe and Ayanni… I was just thinking of them. Can you stay out of their way, at least until they make up?"
"That won't be an issue." Jev just nodded and the backyard garden was silent once again. After a few moments, Lera spoke up again. "Do you want me to leave?" She didn't want to, even if it was better, but she needed to know what Jev thinks. She wasn't sure why she wanted to hear his opinion.
"If you cannot protect them or stay in control… Then I strongly advise you to leave right now. I won't have them getting hurt because of you." Jev deeply inhaled and let out the air in his lungs after a few moments. "Paroppe and Ayanni both want to be friends with you. Paroppe cares for you and Ayanni wants to journey with you in search for secrets. I can't stop them from being with you, but if they are I want a guarantee that you can take care of them. … You already broke that promise even if you weren't at fault. I have no reason to trust you, but maybe I'm just too… strict."
Jev just walked back into his home.
"Good night…" Lera was conflicted, but she would still stay until Paroppe told her to leave. She was the only one keeping her here right now.
Lera waited a bit. She stood in the cold night looking up at the stars. She waited a minute before returning back to Paroppe's room.
"What did you two talk about?" Lera turned around to see Paroppe sitting up.
"I'm sorry I woke you up."
"What did Jev want to talk to you about?" Paroppe wasn't going to stop.
"Uh huh… So nothing just happens to include my name?"
"He was just asking how the trip went." Jev wanting to protect those he cares about was something Lera agreed with. She even agreed with his views on her, at least before she left. Now she is somewhere in between. Wanting to stay and wanting to leave to make sure the people they both care about are safe and happy. Although she is selfish and will stay for now.
"Why are you lying to me?"
"I'm not lying to you."
'Not really.' Lera thought.
'I'll just go talk with her.'
Ayanni had walked early over to Paroppe and Jev home. He knocked on their door and was let in.
"Is Paroppe available?" Ayanni asked their father.
"Princess! Ayanni wants to talk to you!"
Ayanni was led over to the lounge for guests. He sat there in silence and filled with anxiety.
"Ayanni…" Paroppe entered the room. He stood up and waited for her to sit down herself, but she stood there across from him.
"I wanted to talk… about what happened."
"I know what I did to Lera wasn't right. I was wrong for trying to manipulate her. Paroppe, I still believe that if something like that happens again or something much worse, I want to be there to protect you."
"Oh, so you want to protect me, but you apologize to the only person who isn't here?" Paroppe looked back at him with anger. "Do you even care for me?"
"Of course I do!" Ayanni shouted back. He didn't think they would get this heated this fast.
"Then why do you protect me, but ignore what I want?"
"Because you were wrong." As soon as it left his mouth he realized how bad that sounded.
"I'm wrong for wanting something else than what you want? If you really care for me, just accept that otherwise…"
Ayanni saw that Paroppe steeled herself. She was holding back her tears, but he could tell that she didn't want to separate. He didn't want to either.
"I… I can work on it…" He had to otherwise he would lose her. He wanted to be by her side.
Lera was watching Jev from the sidelines. Paroppe and Ayanni weren't there, but Lera did see Jev's parents roaming about. She wanted to continue watching the tournament regardless of her feelings. It was something she thought was fun.
A few teenagers came over to her.
"Are you alone?"
"Want to join us?"
"Just leave her then."
Lera watched as Jev dodged two knives the woman was holding. He had already one the first round, if he can push further and knock her down he will win. Jev dropped to the ground, but the woman followed through with her right hand stabbing Jev in the leg. With his movement limited now, she was able to push further and get a few more cuts on him. Jev surrendered that round and was healed. Once both of them were back in shape, the last round started.
Jev waited as the woman pushed towards him and after she reached the midpoint on the platform, he started running towards her. Lera didn't know why he delayed instead of running right away or staying there. He did and caught an opportunity either way on the woman. With his fist in her side, he pulled back and ducked under the next knife attack. Jev was about to punch her in the left shoulder as she just dropped down and kicked Jev in the leg. With both of them on the ground she stabbed at his chest. He was caught off guard enough that he coughed up blood. With her attack hitting a vital part, the referee called it and Jev lost.
He would be out of the tournament from this point on. It sucked, but he really did do his best. He was quickly healed and taken off the stage. He shook hands with his opponent and they went their separate ways. Lera stayed off to the side waiting for the next fight to start.
As it was about to start in the next minute a hand tapped on Lera's shoulder.
"Jev?" She turned around to see him. With her mask on it must have made it difficult for him to find her.
"I saw you over here. Alone?"
"Alright, see you later."
There were a few people Lera was intrigued with as the tournament progressed, but she would have to see until the end.
Lera saw a game stand where you throw a ball in a hoop.
"Little girl you want to play? Just get three balls in the hoop and you get this mask. You only get to try five times"
The mask the woman showed to Lera was a plain mask, eyeholes and mouth, but it was plastered with a rainbow. It looked beautiful.
So Lera gave the woman two copper coins and went up to the edge of the area. Her first throw missed. The next missed as well, but then next went in the hoop and the last two didn't fare any better.
"Want to try again?"
"No, thank you."
Lera walked away. Disappointed, yes, but she already was wearing a mask. That was fine with her.
She found a bench in the eastern part of the city and sat down. She just stared at the stars for a while.
As Lera was walking around, she saw some people ganging up on an elderly couple. She wasn't going to intervene. Lera felt like if she used her powers, the only thing she could use to make a difference, would just make the situation worse. If it didn't it would lead her to over using her powers. Control, she needed it. Lera shouted for the guards to come over. One of the bad guys got away, but at least she did what she should do as a normal person.
She had already sent a message to both Ayanni and Paroppe that she would be staying out tonight. Roaming around the bright streets and under the bright stars was wonderful. Sure it is cold, but at least she felt free.
Now that she thought about it, even when she was cooking in the apartment in the other world, she felt free as well. Sure she locked herself up because she was afraid of other people, but at least she could enjoy what she was doing. That was what it was like now. Just roaming around with a dark, sparkly, sky. It was interesting that Ayanni's hair was like the night sky. She laughed at the thought of just staring at his hair.
"Are you a lost little girl?"
A guard was next to Lera. She turned around to see the woman standing there with a worried expression. Lera was of course aware of the fact that she did look younger, but she hoped the woman wouldn't do anything.
"I'm not lost, just walking about."
"With the festival, I ask you to please go back home. There are many people roaming this city during the festival. Most have come from far away and not all have good intentions."
'When she puts it like that, going back to Paroppe's place would be best.'
"I'll head home now."
"Thank you." The guard sighed. She probably had to tell a few others already.
"Paroppe I think you should go out for the festival with Jev and Ayanni. I'm going to walk around again."
"Why won't you come with us?"
"Try to enjoy your time with them. I don't need to be there with you when you go out."
"You're a part of my family Lera. I don't want to leave you alone."
"It's going to be fine. We can go together another day."
Lera and Paroppe separated after their little talk.
Paroppe messaged both Ayanni and Jev. She asked them to join her for the festival. Ayanni agreed and said he would meet them at their house. Jev said he would as well.
"Lera not going to join us?" Jev was asking Paroppe as he waited for her to get her boots on.
"It's not like you would care."
"Of course I care, you're my big sister."
"Not me, Lera. You don't care about her. What did the two of you talk about last night?"
"What did she tell you?" Paroppe saw that Jev became defensive as he asked that. It wasn't like he could hide something that small from her.
"Nothing at all and that was the problem. I know you two were talking about me."
"Paroppe it wasn't anything bad. I just wanted to ask her about the other world. You and Ayanni were both there so I asked how it was for you two."
Paroppe didn't really want to talk about this anymore. Her brother already told her how he feels about Lera before they left. Lera kept her promise to keep both of them safe and she did. Lera was the one who got hurt and she believed that Jev talked to Ayanni and only heard his version of events. Where it painted Lera as someone who was at fault.
She felt that they were falling apart at the seams. Ayanni's obsession with keeping her safe and Jev's distrust Lera. Lera was at fault as well during the accident, because she so easily believed Ayanni and thought it was the best for Lera to erase her memories. Though she couldn't blame Lera for that. That was her true thoughts, while Ayanni, well he was never like that before. Paroppe guessed that it had to do what Lera represented to him: power. The ability and freedom to do whatever he wanted.
Later that night, after an awkward and uneventful night, Paroppe and Lera were in the same room. Paroppe had called Lera there to have another talk.
"I know how much you want to keep control of yourself and I agree with it. I should tell you that I want you to use them more, but that is just selfish of me. So I won't, but I think you need to be much more strict in the future."
"Ayanni was affected by your power and I want to avoid that in the future. I still want to be with you, my little sister, and… Ayanni. I want to go and explore various and unique places, but I think it's best if we stay here for now. For Ayanni's sake and… I need to get some money as well."
Paroppe had a grin. She really needed money. The money she spent while away was all she had. Ayanni always had more in the bank and now that she wanted to avoid using Lera's money, it was time for her to get a job.
She looked back towards Lera who was giving a small smile.
When Lera heard that, she was a little heart broken. It wasn't about her powers, not even the fact that Paroppe needed money, to which she would happily help with, it was the job. The job meant that she wouldn't always be there and in a way she wasn't either. Perhaps if she left, gave them time to work on their own lives, Lera could come back and offer a vacation of sorts.
Lera was still there with Paroppe. So she spoke up.
"Paroppe, I think I'm going to leave. I'll be gone for a while, but when I come back we can treat the next adventure as a vacation. What do you think about that?"
"You don't have to leave."
"I don't, but I want to. Roaming around the city felt nice and I would like to do that some more in other places as well. I'll still be connected to you." Lera held up her left wrist showing Paroppe the tech pad.
"Can you please say goodbye before you leave?"
It was the last day of the festival and Ayanni had been spending more time with his friends. Paroppe and Jev had both been with him these past few days. He heard from Paroppe that Lera would be joining them before leaving. He didn't want her to go, but he would make sure he was here to protect Paroppe.
His best friend had helped him a bit with his… obsession. He really didn't like that he had those urges. It always had been just about finding information. To learn. Only when he was given the opportunity to protect Paroppe did he take it too far. He knew it was wrong and yet he agreed that it was the right thing to do. Of course now he doesn't. It was wrong and always will be.
Paroppe was eating some spicy chicken on a stick. He watched her fanning her mouth at the heat. He and Jev were laughing. It felt like that was drifting away from him, but now it was back. Friendship.
"Lera *cough* you're back." Paroppe went over towards Lera and gave her a hug. The heat from the spice made it difficult for her to talk, so Ayanni offered her a drink from his wine. "Thank you."
Mostly everyone was silent, but Jev. He seemed the one who was trying to hold their spirits up. Ayanni was thankful that his best friend was there for them.
"The fireworks starting soon?" Paroppe asked.
"Shortly." Ayanni answered her. He went to hold her hand and this time she didn't pull away. That put a wonderful smile on his face.
They found an empty bench on the southern part of the city. Paroppe pulled Lera on to her lap and Ayanni sat in the middle of the bench with Jev on the edge.
A set of fireworks shot off into the sky. They had seen them ten years ago during the last Light Festival. Blues, reds, greens, fluttered around in the night time sky shining down on the city of Suul.
People were cheering, others kissing, but it was safe to say everyone was having a wonderful time.
"Remember the time we went for a swim in the river for a swim and that guy shot a fireball further down the lake and all that water shot up into the air?"
Paroppe started laughing at the memory. She didn't expect Jev to bring that up. "I do." She said between chuckles.
"I was so scared, that I peed myself."
"Jev, that is so gross." Ayanni nudged Jev with his left elbow still staring at the fireworks still going strong.
"Yea… It was."
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