A Hero's Journey: Part Five
"Ready, sir?" asked Bernard the Lupe, jumping up to his
feet as the defender stepped out of the shadows and into the light that reflected
off his shiny armor.
"I'm ready when you are," said Sir Reynold,
smiling. Before he could follow him outside to where their steed Fidelity was
waiting, the Blumaroo turned to Melissa, Reuben and Rohane, who were wearing
matching anxious, downcast stares, waiting for him to depart - and wishing that
he didn't have to.
The knight gave each of them a big hug. "I'll
miss you all. I hope I can write, but if I try to send a message, it can get
intercepted by one of Ramtor's minions, perhaps mistaken for secret plans. I'll
be back as soon as I can."
The youngest son gave the biggest hug back.
"I'll miss you too, Father," he whispered with choked sobs. Reynold gave the
yellow Blumaroo a small wink, and waved to the rest of his family. "Wish us
luck!" he called, before mounting the Uni steed with the green Lupe and adjusting
his sword so the sheath didn't disturb Fidelity's flight. The three remaining
members watched sadly as he took flight, delivering the two defenders towards
Meridell Castle. Soon, the little speck in the sky disappeared completely, leaving
Melissa and the siblings behind.
"Well, your father never breaks a promise, doesn't
he?" said the female white Blumaroo, trying to be optimistic. But her eyes weren't
optimistic at all.
"Real knights don't cry, idiot," remarked Reuben,
poking his younger sibling in the shoulder. "Our father will soon be back, anyway,
then you'll be worried for nothing."
Rohane glared briefly at him. "Shut up." But
after he turned away from him, he muttered under his breath, "But why do I feel
as if he won't come back?"
A few days passed after the departure of Sir
Reynold. Instead of getting their usual knight lessons from their father, Melissa's
sons were at the garden fronting their house, having another one of their swordfights.
She herself was in the kitchen, totally oblivious to the chaos that would soon
"I still don't understand why we have to do
this out here, Reuben," said the yellow Blumaroo, ducking as a wooden blade
swung over his head.
"So that everyone can see just how good I can
be, little brother," sneered the older sibling as he locked swords with him.
"And they will all see who is the better knight between the two of us."
Nearby, Liwanag was picking flowers that were
peeking out of the cracks and crevices from within a stone path. She looked
up and saw Reuben and Rohane sparring outside their house. Quite intrigued yet
interested, she ran over to watch. A few other villagers around her followed.
"Ooh, are those Sir Reynold's sons?"
"Yeah, they're having one of those practice
duels. Who do you think will win this time?"
The female red Aisha watched in awe as Melissa's
eldest son attempted a slash at his brother, who jumped aside before the false
blade could even touch him. Infuriated at this quick move, Reuben hit Rohane
over the head with the weapon, causing him to become slightly dazed and distracted.
"That wasn't fair!" declared Li, pointing to
the older sibling. A nearby Ixi neighbor gave her a reproachful stare, but she
Reuben glared at her, but paid no more attention
as he watched his rival recover from the shocking blow. He leapt up and tried
to deliver a hit, but the white Blumaroo blocked it instantly with his own sword.
The pair instantly locked blades again, with most of the crowd getting either
excited or impatient.
"They're evenly matched," remarked the Ixi,
stroking his chin. "This could go on forever, till their father comes back and
pulls them apart."
"But will he ever come back? Ramtor IS one powerful
advisor, and I have my doubts that Sir Reynold's team would survive the fight,"
said his Buzz comrade.
Suddenly, as the dull noises of wood on wood
continued, something broke the slight monotony. It was the sound of someone's
behind making contact with the ground. Everyone's eyes were now on Reuben, who
was on the ground, having sustained a hard strike on the leg that made him lose
balance and fall, clutching his lower limb.
Seth the shepherd gasped. "Now, THAT'S what
I call one impressive comeback move!"
"I can't believe it!" cried the Buzz. "This
is going to shorten the odds on Reynold's younger son!"
"Rohane…you may have your time of triumph, but
I will reclaim mine!" howled the white Blumaroo, limping into the house. "You
will regret the day you won over me, little brother! YOU WILL!!!"
His younger sibling stared after him as he stormed
indoors. He didn't even pay attention to the approving looks from the other
residents of Trestin who saw the pretend duel. It wasn't until Liwanag flung
her arms around him that he snapped out of it.
"That was so cool!" she squealed. "I knew that
someday, you would improve. And you sure did!"
"Thanks," said Rohane gratefully, patting her
on the back. "At least YOU'RE happy. I thought Reuben would be happy for me,
but I guess I was wrong."
Li just gave him her mysterious, optimistic
smile. "Oh, don't mind him. It's just a passing phase, and it's just - no offense
- one duel. He's won loads in the past, and maybe he's a little reluctant to
accept the sudden turn of the tide."
He grinned. "Guess you're right. See you." With
an awkward wave, he retreated back into his house. But when the yellow Blumaroo
stepped inside, he almost wished that he could just run back outside and stay
there, if it weren't for the hunger inside him and his mother's meaty stew waiting
on the table.
"Congratulations," said Reuben sardonically,
spooning his stew gingerly. "So you won something. Without Father's help, I
might add." He raised an eyebrow and smirked.
"You win some, you lose some," said Rohane calmly,
trying to ignore the hostile air that seemed to hang around him and his older
sibling. "To quote Li, it's all a passing phase."
"Easy for you to say," growled his big brother,
pointing his spoon threateningly. "I've had a great streak of success, and then
you had to go and ruin it all. At least you've never felt what it was like to
be knocked off the top."
"I don't understand," he replied. "What do you
Reuben glanced at their mother, who was so busy
in the kitchen that she barely noticed her two sons arguing. He stood up from
the chair and faced Rohane so closely that their faces were less than two inches
away from each other. "Listen here, you little bubble-headed twerp! I'm supposed
to be the best, because I'm older, I'm stronger, and I've been around here more
than you have! I'm more exp - exp - "
"Experienced?" his rival answered coolly.
"AWRGH! Yes, that! I'm SUPPOSED to be better
than you, not the other way around! It is un - uneth - that word our father
uses to describe evil stuff."
"Unethical?" said Reuben's sibling.
"Look, will you stop interrupting me?"
"I'm not interrupting you! I'm just…helping."
"You're basking in the spotlight, aren't you?
You're confident that you can beat your own older brother, am I right? Well,
your confidence isn't going to do anything. No matter what I do, what you do,
what I say, or what you say, I'm still better than you!"
This time, Rohane stood up as well, making his
sibling back away slightly in surprise. "I never said I was better than you!
I was only happy for myself! Can't we just leave it behind now and move on?
There's still another day waiting, and who knows? You'll beat my sorry behind
on that day too!"
"Are you challenging me?" yelled Reuben angrily.
"I AM NOT CHALLENGING YOU!" the yellow Blumaroo
At this point, Melissa stuck her head in the
dining room and saw her sons glaring at each other, at their feet and very,
very mad. "Everything all right in here?" she asked. "I'm busy waiting for the
turnips to boil, so be patient."
Her elder son thought for a moment. "Mother,
can I please be excused?"
"That's 'MAY I', Reuben, and the answer is yes.
Aren't you hungry?"
"Not anymore, Mother." The white Blumaroo shot
his brother another furious look as she turned her back. She didn't even pay
any attention to how loud he had banged the door once he entered his bedroom.
The older sibling hurled himself onto his bed, feeling exactly like he had when
his parents first named Rohane - as if everything would happen all over again.
He looked up at the ceiling, remembering the promise he had made as a little
kid that he would always stay better than his brother.
But the promise had broken.
It had been broken ever since his little sibling's
first triumph. Well, that didn't count, thought Reuben. He had help from
Father. But this…in front of so many villagers! He felt his insides grow hot
with burning anger. He had to reclaim himself…perhaps through humiliating his
But how can it be done?
He rolled over and stared at the floor, a plan
forming in his head. As he took out a small piece of paper from the drawer beside
his bed and scribbled the scheme, the white Blumaroo experienced a slight pang
of guilt. This next plan to embarrass Rohane was going to be quite difficult
to carry out. Shaking his head, Reuben shifted to the other side of the paper
and wrote something else. It was easier, but nonetheless hard to pull off. Well,
it was better than nothing, he thought to himself. It was foolproof - or at
least, he thought it was.
With his scheme still in his brain, Melissa's
eldest son slowly fell asleep, dreaming of tomorrow's triumph.
To be continued...