A Hero's Journey: Part Seven
The female white Blumaroo stared at them both. "Why didn't
you come in before the rain started pouring? Just look at yourselves! You both
had me worried sick!"
Reuben opened his mouth to answer to his mother.
"I'm sorry, but I - "
"It was my fault," said Rohane quickly, beating
his older brother. "I accidentally played a trick on him and then I had to fix
everything up. It took a lot longer than usual and it was hard to walk in that
wind. We're so sorry, Mother."
"But…" His elder sibling stared at him, half
astounded and half intrigued. First he had saved his life, and then he covered
up for his prank? Reuben had to pinch himself twice to remind himself that he
wasn't dreaming. The two brothers braced themselves for the verdict, hearing
the crackling of the roaring fire and the crack of thunder outside.
Although at first Melissa looked extremely disappointed
and stern, her expression softened into a grateful smile. She opened her arms
and hugged her sons at the same time. "Oh, I just don't have the heart to punish
you," she said quietly. "I'm more than happy to see that you're both still alive."
The young Blumaroos were speechless at her reaction, but nonetheless hugged
She stood up, walked over to the table and gave
them hot steaming bowls of soup, making sure that the fireplace was still ignited
and that they had enough firewood. "Reuben," their mother was saying, "you'll
have to sleep in your brother's room though. A stray lightning bolt has apparently
taken its toll on the roof on yours, and it's currently in a dire state of disrepair.
Not only that, it's quite unpleasant to have the rain dripping through the ceiling
at night when you're asleep."
The male white Blumaroo unfolded his blanket,
and sat down on the small cot beside his younger sibling's bed. He looked up
at Rohane, who had the lamp on the night table on and was reading the same book
on knighthood he had been poring over before the storm. Outside, the rain lashed
angrily at the windows, coupled with the disturbing noise of thunder that accompanied
Reuben felt as if he had to explain something
to his little brother. He stood up, and looked at him squarely.
"Rohane? Uh…I want to talk to you for a while."
He jumped up onto the mattress, making it bounce slightly, so he was sitting
beside his sibling.
He looked up from his book, closed it and put
it beside the lamp. "Yeah? What about?"
The elder brother shifted around a bit and amused
himself with a stray thread in the blanket. "Well…it's just that…thanks again
for, you know…saving me and covering up for me in front of Mother."
"It was nothing," said the yellow Blumaroo, shrugging.
"But something tells me that it's not the only thing you want to talk to me
"How'd you know?" asked Reuben, impressed. "It's
about…about…well, the stuff that I used to do to you some time ago."
Rohane raised an eyebrow. "Why would you want
to talk to me about all the other pranks and jokes you pulled on me, the times
you embarrassed me in front of the other villagers, and those times you would
always get really mad when I beat you in a practice duel? Of all the nights
you could've picked - "
Reuben closed his eyes briefly. "Look, I'm really,
REALLY sorry for all those things I've been doing to you. I've never even apologized
back then. So…I'm apologizing…right now. I had to do something in return for
what you did to me, like saving my life. If it weren't for you, I wouldn't be
here talking to you, and that's definitely one major thing to be thankful for."
His younger sibling nodded his head, a sign that
he understood. But there was still something that he didn't understand, so he
hung on to the white Blumaroo's speech, which was still going on. "Go on," said
"Actually, that's only half the story," said
his brother. "There was a reason behind all that. You know how Father and Mother
tell us that there is always a reason behind and for everything? Well, it's
the same with what I've been doing to you. And it all started ever since you
"Whoa. So what happened back then?"
He fidgeted a little bit with the corner of his
nightshirt and watched the lamp on the table beside the yellow Blumaroo's bed.
"See, it all began when our parents began naming you. I got…kind of jealous
of all the attention they were giving you. I mean, don't you always get that
feeling when you're on top of the world and then you suddenly come crashing
"Too many times to count, thanks to your pranks,"
said Reuben's sibling, chuckling a bit. "I hope this isn't one of your jokes."
But he needed no answer; an aura of truth and sincerity seemed to emanate from
his words and eyes. After being joked one too many times, Rohane had developed
a penchant for detecting whether someone was lying to him or not.
His sibling rambled on. "I used to be the only
son of Trestin's greatest knight. That is, until you came along. I got really
selfish and jealous because I knew it would no longer be the same. I was used
to being trained alone, being the center of attention of our parents. I didn't
know how or why…" Reuben's voice trailed off briefly, and the storm seemed even
louder as the pause hung momentarily in the bedroom.
"So I vowed to always try to be better than you
are at everything," finished the white Blumaroo, looking down on the floor.
"I promised myself that I was going to show Mother and Father that I was better
than you, even if it meant embarrassing you or tricking you at every turn. At
first it was fun, and sometimes it even worked, I admit. But as we grew older,
I began feeling more and more guilty with every prank I played. Soon, it got
the better of me. In fact it led to me nearly getting hurt."
"That was why you nearly fell off the tree?"
asked his younger brother incredulously. "You were trying to trick me again?"
Reuben stared at him. "I'm not proud of it, not
anymore. At first I thought I had the best plot in the world to reclaim myself
after you beat me in a duel in front of so many villagers. Then after seeing
that it nearly cost us our lives, I've decided to come clean. Another reason
why I'm telling you this, like I've said before, is that you deserve to know,
after you…you know…"
Scratching his head, Rohane raised another question.
"So does this mean…you'll be making no more pranks on me?"
"Yeah, no more pranks on you," said the male
white Blumaroo sheepishly. "I promise."
"I hope you aren't crossing your fingers behind
your back, Reuben."
"Both my paws are here and not crossed. Trust
me on this. I've finally realized that you really are destined to be better
than I am."
His brother frowned. "Don't say that," he said.
"We're all good in some way, and you can't just say I'm better than you are.
Saving your life doesn't prove it."
"You were really brave out there. It was something
I couldn't have done myself if you were the one hanging for your life. And,
you were smart too." Reuben shook his head. "Maybe I should have just run away.
You would make a better knight than I will ever hope to be. I mean, just look
at me. I've played tricks on you and really humiliated you. Is that what a good
Rohane sighed. "Look, if I really was better
than you, our parents would have chucked you out of the house a long time ago,
no offense." He laughed a bit, trying to cheer his sibling up. "But they didn't.
They still see something good in you that you yourself don't see. I do too."
"That'll be the day," remarked the older brother.
"Okay, what then do you see in me?"
The yellow Blumaroo drummed his own fingers on
his bed. "Since you asked, I'm going to tell you. Even though you were always
trying to make a fool of me, I admired your skill in knighthood. Every time
you beat me, I was jealous and one time, I even told Father that I would never
grow up to become like you."
Gasping in disbelief, Reuben gave him a small
smile. "Really? This isn't a joke, right?"
He shook his head solemnly. "It's true. And I'm
sure that whenever we're being trained, our parents are proud of us whenever
we finally get something right in this whole knighthood business."
"You know what?" The white Blumaroo grinned at
his sibling. "You're pretty smart for a little brother. Thanks. You just made
me feel better."
"That's what brothers do, Reuben," said Rohane,
Suddenly, the door opened with a creak, surprising
the siblings who were still perched on the bed. Melissa entered, a candle in
one paw and clad in her long lavender nightgown. "You're both still awake?"
she asked, raising her eyebrows. "It's really late now, and I think you ought
to get some sleep. Good night, you two." She walked inside and gave them each
a goodnight hug.
"Good night, Mother," her sons chorused as they
hugged back, and watched as she walked out the door, her fuzzy slippers making
weird noises on the floor.
"Good night, Reuben."
"Good night, Rohane."
"Need the light?"
"Yeah, I can't sleep well when it's totally dark."
"Okay, I'll leave it on."
The yellow Blumaroo reached out to adjust the
lamp, so it was neither too dim nor too bright. As his brother got off his bed
and bedded down into his cot, they both fell asleep at the exact same time that
the rains stopped falling, and the winds slowed down. Soon it felt as if the
night succumbed to a slumber as well.
To be continued...