Rainbow in the Woods
Dedicated to L.B., a rainbow Ogrin who was my inspiration for Marc.
It was a dark and stormy evening in the Haunted Woods. Adam and his lovely wife, Amorine, had just settled their three children in for the night. They were in their living room, the only sounds were the crackling of the fire in the fireplace and the boom of thunder outside. Adam's brown gaze was fixed on the fire.
"My Amor, I want a son." Adam took a deep breath and looked at his wife, wondering what her reaction would be.
"Adam, I know that you love our daughters. They certainly haven't disappointed you. I also know how important it is to you to have a son. We should adopt," Amorine said.
"You've wanted to adopt for years. I don't know why I didn't think of it before."
The two continued to discuss this for sometime before finally turning in for the night.
~ ~ ~
The rain stopped at dawn but the sky was heavy with ominous clouds and the wind still rushed through the trees, as if trying to escape from the spooky atmosphere of the Woods. The family of Adam and Amorine had a busy breakfast before the children were bundled up and settled in the carriage for a half hour ride to a large, derelict house nestled in the heart of the Haunted Woods.
"Haunted Woods Orphanage," ten year old Amalia read the large stone sign, a tad hard to read due to its weatherworn appearance.
The carriage stopped in front of the house and the family stepped down into the muck. They were met by a gaggle of orphaned children, eager to impress potential adopters. Accustomed to odd companions (by normal standards) the eldest and youngest girls easily began to interact with the orphans while their parents watched. Ana, the six year old middle girl, however, was shy in comparison to her much more sociable family members. She hung back, observing.
Young Ana's kind brown eyes perused the others and then she looked to the dilapidated house. Poor house. Like the orphans within your walls, all you seek is love. Suddenly, a flash of movement caught her eye. She cast a glance back at the others, just to make sure she wouldn't be missed.
Thankfully, everyone else was preoccupied. It took only moments for Ana to slip inside. The interior of the house was typical for the Haunted Woods: dim lightning, cobwebs and dust covered the surfaces of the furniture. Ana smiled as she caught a glimpse of a black cauldron. To anyone else, the place would be spooky at best and downright frightening at worst.
To Ana, there were all the comforts of home. She moved confidently up the rickety stairs; the creaks and groans were like music to her ears. She saw a flash of movement on her left and moved into-what she assumed-was a bedroom. She widened her eyes in amazement as she saw a rainbow Ogrin. She had never seen one before and he fascinated her.
The Ogrin's fur was dull and he shrank away from Ana and Adonis, her Quilin, as they stepped closer towards him. His yellow eyes narrowed and he furrowed his brow.
"It's OK. I'm not going to hurt you. I'm Ana, what's your name?" Ana asked in a low voice, trying to reassure the Ogrin.
"My name is Marc," the Ogrin said, matching Ana's tone.
"Its nice to meet you, Marc. What are you doing up here alone?"
"Drawing. May I see?"
Marc slowly nodded and rummaged around on the floor. He stood up and extended his arm, a dirty scrap of paper in his hand. Ana moved to stand beside Marc, Adonis rising up on his hind paws to get a closer look. Marc's hand trembled, from nerves, Ana guessed. She looked at the paper and saw an excellent sketch of the Haunted Woods skyline.
Ana's brown eyes flicked to Marc's face and the trepidation that she saw there tugged at her kind heart. Ana had just come to a decision when she heard her name being called.
"Marc, please come with me," Ana said, placing her small hand in his and giving a light tug.
Marc's eyes widened and confusion marked his features. He allowed Ana to lead him down the steps. They stepped outside and Ana pushed through the crowd of other children to her parents and sisters.
"Father, Mother, this is Marc. I want him to be my brother," Ana said.
Adam and Amorine exchanged a glance. They looked at the rainbow Ogrin. Their middle daughter never asked for anything,. None of the other children had really seemed.... right. They had no reason to deny Ana now.
"Amor, let's have a word with Ms. Mage," Adam said, taking Amorine by the hand and leading her into the house.
Meanwhile, the other children gathered around Ana and Marc. Marc shifted nervously, tugging slightly at Ana's hand. She clung to him tightly, turning to her sisters.
"Amalia, Angela, this is our new brother, Marc," Ana said.
Amalia stepped forward and hugged Marc tightly, who could only stand there, stunned. Angela, being a two year old faerie Cybunny, was the only one of them who was not flecked in mud. She fluttered in front of Marc and spun, giggling. Being so young, she didn't fully understand what was going on but she was a perpetually happy toddler. Marc shifted nervously and flinched away when Vermilingua, Amalia's Electric Antwerph stuck his tongue out to inspect the newest member of the family.
Amalia moved in and scooped up her Petpet, cuddling him in her arms. He reached up and gave her a kiss on the cheek. She smiled at him before turning her bright blue gaze on Marc. She was an intuitive child, very open to what others felt.
"Marc, you don't have to be afraid of Verm. He loves others. All he wants is to be your friend. We all need friends," Amalia said.
Marc smiled and reached out a hand to pet Verm, who eagerly licked his outstretched hand. Amalia and Ana looked quite pleased by this.
"We were about to play a game of catch, if you'd like to join us," Amalia said.
"A game of catch? Alright," Ana said with a smile, having still not let go of Marc's hand.
Ana let her brown gaze rest on her brother. Marc looked nervous. Poor Marc, he's always uneasy.
"No, I don't think I'll join you," Marc said.
Ana exchanged a glance with Amalia. Amalia dipped her head and ushered away the other children. Angela still hovered besides them.
"How about a game of tag, Marc," Ana asked.
Marc's yellow eyes glowed with unease. "I don't know..."
"We have to play something. Angel's getting restless. She can't stay still for long. She has to be doing something or else she throws a fit! You don't want to have to experience one of those, do you? At least not so soon."
Angela's bottom lip had begun to tremble and her wide blue eyes became glossy with unshed tears. Marc bit his lip and then sighed.
"Tag it is," Marc said.
At once, Angel's face cleared, all smiles and giggles once more. Ana had to smile, too. The little faerie Cybunny had everyone wrapped firmly about her pinky finger. Marc furrowed his brow, looking to Ana.
"Marc, what's wrong," Ana asked, instantly concerned; he looked so forlorn, it was hard not to be.
"How does one play tag," Marc asked.
Ana felt her jaw drop and, young as she was, even Angela seemed to understand how confounding this statement was. The Cybunny fluttered her faerie wings, lowering herself below eye level. Ana blinked her wide brown eyes, realizing that she needed to do something.
"Tag is simple. One of the players is 'it'. Sometimes, someone volunteers but that doesn't usually happen. Then, the other players run away from whoever is 'it'. 'It' has to run after the others. They tag someone by touching them. Then, we repeat the game unless we exhaust ourselves silly with the first game," Ana explained.
For the first time, Marc smiled, genuinely. I love his smile, Ana thought to herself.
"You explained that very well. I'll give it a go. Uh, I'll be 'it', if that's OK," Marc said.
"Of course you can be 'it'! Now, I run and Angel flies off. Catch us if you can, Marc," Ana teased, moving her feet as quickly as she could in the muck of the Haunted Woods.
The young blue Bori could hear the quick rush of feet behind her but she didn't look back. In tag, you didn't look back, especially when you were on boggy ground and especially when you didn't know how fast 'it' was. She weaved through the trees, her long brown braid cascading behind her. Deciding she had given Marc the slip long enough, she circled back towards the house. She didn't see any sign of the rainbow Ogrin so she ran out in the open, smiling as she reached the corner of the house.
Hah! I fooled him!
"Gotcha," a voice yelled, two strong hands grabbing Ana's shoulders.
Ana screamed and whirled around, eyes wide. There stood Marc, grinning at her.
"I figured you would do that. I'm not as fast as you so I knew I had to think of a different way to catch you," Marc explained himself, crossing his arms over his chest.
"Wow, I don't think I've ever done that or anyone else I know either," Ana said, voice filled with awe.
Ten year old Marc had effectively awestruck six year old Ana. Their relationship was already strong and it would last a long time.
"Ana, would you mind helping me catch Angela? She flutters just out of reach," Marc said with a sheepish grin.
"Yeah, I'll help, though I don't have much hope. Playing with Angela is always a challenge, especially in games like tag," Ana laughed.
"Now you tell me."
"Clever as you are, you couldn't guess?"
The children shared a smile before Ana called Adonis to her to help them accomplish their goal. Meanwhile, Angel and Candy, her faerie Snarhook, fluttered tantalizingly above their heads.
"How long does it take before she gets tired," Marc asked, yellow eyes thoughtful.
"She can go for hours," Ana answered.
"Right... What if... one of us climbed a tree and then the other of us herded Angel towards the tree! Then, she could be caught!"
"I don't know. Let's try it. You'll have to climb the tree 'cause I'm wearing a dress."
"Fine. Just wait until I actually get up there before you do anything. OK?"
Ana watched Marc walk off and waited patiently for him to climb a tree. He struggled up the scraggly trunk but he persevered, nestled in the crooked branches. Adonis kept his gaze on Angel, making sure she didn't do anything to ruin their plan. Marc dipped his head, signaling Ana to begin her task. She smiled, feeling more trepidation than joy.
Ana and Adonis began to run after Angel but she didn't go in Marc's direction. The Bori and her Quilin continued trying but to no avail. Angela flew in wide, sweeping loops, laughing at their failed attempts. Ana was beginning to get tired. She looked in Marc's direction, a question in her brown eyes.
What do we do now? There was no chance for Marc to reply, however, as Amorine and Adam made their exit from the house.
"Children, it's time to go home now," Adam called.
At once, Amalia and Ana left their games and ran towards their parents, standing before them with bright, eager eyes.
"Father, does this mean that Marc is our brother now," Amalia asked, cocking her head to one side.
"Yes, it does," Adam said with a smile.
Amalia and Ana cheered and hugged each other in their excitement. Adam walked to the tree that Marc still perched in, to tell him the good news. Meanwhile, Amorine's purple gaze had sought and found her third and youngest child, who was still playing some boisterous game or other, midair with Candy.
"Angela, darling, come down at once," Amorine called in that soft, yet firm voice of hers.
The faerie Cybunny stopped flitting about like a Carmariller and aimed straight for her mother's open arms, snuggling close to her. Her mother ran one long fingered hand down her daughter's long, straight black hair, humming a tune and looking towards her husband and her new son, who were now walking in their direction. As father and son neared, they all headed in the direction of the carriage where Adam helped first his wife, his daughters and then his son inside before he entered himself. Off their carriage went and the entire family, save for Marc, were beaming with happiness. Once more, Marc had retreated into himself, yellow eyes on his hands, which rested on his lap.
Marc sat nearest the window, Amalia beside him and Ana on her other side. It was Amalia who placed one blue striped hand over her brother's and smiled encouragingly at him. She didn't have to say a word. He glanced at her and she could see the tension leave his body.
"Son, we are so pleased that you are with us. Tell us about yourself. Would you like a Petpet? What do you enjoy doing," Adam asked.
Marc twitched his ears as his new father addressed him with questions. He took a deep breath and felt the slight pressure on his hand; Amalia giving him courage. He glanced quickly at her before letting his yellow gaze meet his father's.
"I would love a Petpet. It would be wonderful to have a friend. Loneliness is a terrible thing. I dreamed of having a friend often," Marc said, a faint smile on his face.
"Great! Would it be OK with you, Marc, if Ana and I helped you choose a Petpet," Amalia asked.
"Yes, I'd like that."
The girls beamed, quite looking forward to the rest of the day.
"Marc, do you sing or play any instruments," Amorine asked.
"No, I've never been given the opportunity. I love to draw but I don't have much opportunity for that, either. It doesn't matter. Without much practice, I'm not very good," Marc said.
"Not true! That sketch was simple but some of the best art I've ever seen," Ana said quickly.
The entire family, besides Angela, who was napping, looked at the blue Bori in surprise. She was usually soft spoken and an outburst was highly unusual.
"Well, Marc. Since you enjoy it, you may practice your art wherever and whenever you choose. You won't want for supplies anymore," Adam said.
Marc blushed and beamed. Even with his dirty, patchy pelt, his colors seemed to brighten. They fell into a comfortable silence for the rest of the ride, each pet left alone with his or her thoughts. As they neared their home, Marc furrowed his brow. He didn't understand why their carriage was turning into a gated path that had a massive stone wall surrounding it, with lovely grounds that were a contrast to the rest of the Woods and a mansion at its center.
"What-," Marc's question was cut off by a high-pitched squeal of delight.
"Home," Angel yelled, awake from her short nap and ready to go once more.
Marc gaped as the carriage came to a stop. Adam got off and helped his wife down.
"Marc, help your sisters down, will you? Then come inside for lunch," Adam said over his shoulder, heading inside with his wife on his arm.
"Marc, we'll give you a tour after lunch. However, now we're hungry and want to eat said lunch. Get down, will you," Amalia said, a tad impatient for her meal.
The rainbow Ogrin stilled seemed in a shock. It seemed like he hadn't heard his sister, for still, he stood in the way, staring in awe at his new home. Suddenly, with a yelp, the young pet leapt from the carriage. He lay awkwardly on the ground, apparently stunned. Amalia and Ana exited the carriage, the Blumaroo contrite and the Bori concerned.
"Amalia! You didn't have to do that. Marc, are you alright?" Ana knelt beside her brother, helping him to his feet.
Marc stood, one arm around Ana and blinked, shaking his head, as if to clear it. He looked at his sisters, puzzled.
"I'm fine, Ana but what was that? It was like a shock... or something...," Marc trailed off, cocking his head.
"Electric isn't just a color to be painted! I had to do something to get you to move, Marc," Amalia exclaimed, lifting her hands and then letting them fall in exasperation.
"You shouldn't have shocked him, Amalia! No matter the reason. Apologize at once or else I'll go and tell Father what you did," Ana said, looking as stern as a six year old Bori girl could possibly look.
"I apologize for zapping you, Marc. Next time, just get out the way when I tell you to, OK?"
Marc could only nod as his older (by four months) sister walked away, joining her parents inside. Ana sighed and looked up at Marc.
"Let's go eat before Ms. Snorkle takes our share," Ana said.
Marc chuckled, and, hand in hand with Ana, walked inside to lunch and his new life.