Another Hero's Journey: Part Six
The storm raged on longer than Reuben thought. He could see the thick sheets of rain thundering down on the poor, defenseless ground from where he was lying on a spare, raggedy mat spread on the cold cave floor. Beside him, Devin was snoring loudly, his mouth wide open, and on his other side was Andrea, tossing and turning every few seconds, one paw on the piece of paper she had been writing on.
The white Blumaroo was kept awake by Miss Olivia’s incessant nagging about his fate. Who was she, anyway, to meddle in his affairs? He had only met her several hours ago, and then she started spouting about seeing his brother, about destiny, and all that stuff that Reuben didn’t care about.
All he cared about was finding Rohane, but the storm had decided to delay his plans. Reuben scratched his head, trying to fall asleep, but still, the purple Lupe’s proclamations weren’t exactly something he’d take lying down and yet they seemed... like the truth. She had a knack of making whatever she was saying sound so gosh darn truthful, and she didn’t look like a liar, at least to him. Was the white Blumaroo going to regret his decision to get up and run after his younger brother?
Everything was too complicated. Whenever Reuben tried to clear his mind of something, something else would occupy him. He tried to shove all of Miss Olivia’s notions out of his head, but then he thought of Rohane, probably fighting his way through the same storm he was sitting out in an occupied cave. And when Reuben tried to focus on something else, he thought of his mother – the mother he had ran out on not too long ago.
Indeed, everything still was too complicated.
“You can’t sleep?”
He felt his heart leap wildly, and the Blumaroo whipped around, his fingers feeling for the daggers sheathed at his belt.
“Omar... it’s just you.”
The brown Lupe shrugged, arching his eyebrows. “Who’d you think it was?”
Omar raised his shoulders again. “Still raining,” he said, lacking something better to say. He crawled over so he was sitting next to Reuben, and could see the dismal view outside. “Never seen it rain like this... not since... the last time we saw him.”
“Who?” the white Blumaroo wanted to know.
“My dad,” was the hoarse, whispered reply. For a moment, neither of them said anything, giving way to the violent beats of thunder and the rousing chorus of the wind.
“He was my idol,” the brown Lupe began again, startling Reuben after a long stretch of silence. “I first learned how to fight and defend myself from him. He even bought me my first sword...” His voice trailed off, and for a moment, the Blumaroo could’ve sworn he saw Omar’s eyes glitter in the light of the two lanterns that kept constant vigil over them. “When we heard what had happened to him, I wanted nothing more than to defeat Ramtor, and all his cronies, and even those who just stood by and watched my dad fall. I wanted them to experience the kind of pain he endured in their hands, and the pain we felt when he left us like that.
“If it weren’t for my mother, Devin, and Andrea, I would’ve gone off too. But they told me I had a better purpose than revenge. I was better off helping them out, since I wasn’t the only one who suffered when Dad died. It was just a matter of working together to heal ourselves. And now... I’m really grateful that they stopped me. I do have a path in life to walk; I can’t just run off it for the sake of revenge or any of those petty things. Dad can’t come back anymore; we simply have to live with it.”
Reuben nodded, staring out into space. He was thinking about his own life as well as he listened to Omar’s story... about how he himself lost his father, the great, supposedly unbeatable Sir Reynold... and then how Rohane decided to follow him, breaking away from the path that he, Reuben and their mother were supposed to travel together...
“One question,” said the white Blumaroo slowly, “why are you telling me this? We’ve known each other for only three days.”
“I knew you’d understand,” replied Omar. “At first I thought you were just another freeloader coming to share our cave to get away from the storm. Apparently, I was wrong about you. And... even though it’s been a while, I still get painful memories of that fateful day that I can’t suddenly bring up in front of anyone else, especially not my family. You can relate to my story – in fact, your father’s death was what brought you here, and what brought your younger brother to us before. I know I ramble, but... yeah, that’s pretty much it.”
The addressed party said nothing.
“So I’m sorry if I was a little... cold back then,” said the Lupe, sighing. “I didn’t want to talk to anyone besides my family, because they wouldn’t understand. But then, here you are, you’ve been living without a dad for much longer than I have.”
“Wasn’t easy,” replied Reuben. “Our mother had a nervous breakdown, and even though she’s fine now, any mention of our father can act like a trigger that brings back the worst memories of her life. They were the closest of friends.”
His voice trailed off, and Omar looked at him, waiting for the white Blumaroo to speak again. It was the storm’s turn to speak, and it did so with violent lashings of rain, coupled with more lightning that illuminated the cave entrance for a fraction of a second.
“I... I think we should just go back to sleep,” Reuben pointed out.
“Good idea,” said the Lupe. “Sorry if I kept you up or anything. I guess... I couldn’t sleep...” He paused and stifled a huge yawn. “But now I think I’m going to need it. See you in the morning.”
Omar lay back down on his pallet, and in moments Reuben heard his snores join Devin’s, and the easy breathings of Andrea and Olivia. After a while, Reuben decided to lie down again as well, but unlike Omar, he still couldn’t just doze off. His thoughts started whirling around Olivia’s notions, his family, and his choice again. He didn’t even want to think about what his mother was probably doing back home, with her elder son now missing for three days, stranded in bad Meridellian weather.
* * *
Three days... three days had passed.
There was still no sign of Reuben.
And poor Melissa was desperately hanging onto her sanity. During the past nights, she had been sleeping over at her friend Tala’s house, as she couldn’t bear to sleep knowing that she was alone and her sons were both gone, one after the other. But even though Tala had been fervently doing her best to keep Melissa from cracking, the red Aisha couldn’t help but also wish that they found Reuben soon. Of course, Rohane was still a different case.
“You were thrashing about on the sofa, screaming Reynold’s name over and over again and pleading with him to come back, to help you find them...”
The white Blumaroo sat up, feeling her neck and face laced with cold sweat. Tala was standing over her with two cups of hot, steaming tea. Shoving her blanket aside, Melissa reached out for one cup without even asking.
“Thank you,” she rasped. “But... was that meant for me, or was that for –”
“It was for you,” said Tala, grinning. But her grin disappeared just as quickly as it had come. “Like I said before, you were probably having a bad dream...”
“If Reynold were still here, he would have already combed the entirety of Meridell just to find –”
Tala held up her paw as she sipped her own cup. “First of all, I don’t think Rohane needs any finding. He’s probably doing just fine, you can trust him, and at least he was responsible enough to tell your face that he’s gone off to the castle and will return with Ramtor’s head. But of course, Reuben running away... is just too sudden, and quite uncalled for, especially since he promised to stay with you...”
The red Aisha paused, placing her tea on the table and sitting beside Melissa. “I guess I’m not making things any easier, am I?” she admitted. “I guess I tend to complicate things.”
The Blumaroo dug for a handkerchief in the pocket of her nightgown and wiped her watering eyes. “It wasn’t easy to begin with, anyway,” she replied. “If you were in my place, you would know.”
“The volunteers are doing all they can to find Reuben, even through gale-force winds and heavy rains like these,” said Tala. “And in the meantime, I’ll do all I can to make sure you’re still as sane as you have always been, I promise.”
Melissa sniffed and drank the last of her tea. “Thank you, Tala,” she whispered. “You were there when we heard about Reynold, you talked to me about Rohane after he left, and now... you’re here for me about Reuben. Honestly, I don’t know what’s up with my family – I guess there’s insanity in Reynold’s line or something, or there’s something up with the boys in my family.”
Her friend started to laugh, but stopped herself when she saw the Blumaroo dab at her cheeks with the handkerchief again. Tala did the only logical thing worth doing at that moment.
She hugged Melissa and patted her back as the sobs turned into wails. “Everything will be fine,” the red Aisha assured her, hoping with all her might that she would be right.
To be continued...