Disclaimer: Dude, why’re there lawyers on my doorstep? I told you, me no own ASOUE! Or The Legend of Zelda. Y u no listen to me?!
WARNING! RATED T FOR: LANGUAGE, SUGGESTIVE CONTENT, SCARY SITUATIONS, AND VIOLENCE
(To go along with "The Formidable Four Sword")
“Give it back, Duncan!” Isadora screamed from down the hall.
“Izzy and Ruben sittin’ in a tree, f-u-c-k-i-n-g,” Duncan sang. “…Uh-oh. Quigley!” Just then, he flew past my room, Isadora hot on his tail. “Quigley, help!”
“Ohhh, no. You got yourself into this, you’re gonna get yourself out,” I told him, shaking my head. I put my pencil down and cradled my head in my hands, running my fingers through my short dark hair. God, this map was taking forever. I recently began charting the different trails in the Mortmain Mountains in my notebook ever since my parents told us about taking us on a vacation there this fall. Truth be told, I was really excited. So many caves to explore, so many sights to see…yeah, I was stoked. Isadora was pretty excited too, Duncan, meh. He ain’t into adventuring as much as I am…but, he never hesitated to make adventures happen at home. Dork.
“Duncan!” Isadora screeched, chasing him back to his room.
“God you’re slow!” Duncan teased.
“C’mon, Duncan, give it back,” I called, looking at my doorway.
“Make me!” came the defiant reply.
I rolled my eyes, slipped my notebook in my burgundy sweatshirt pocket, and got up from my desk. Being the oldest was hard, and Duncan loved challenging my authority. I don’t understand why, though. I’ve never really been mean to him about things. Sure we were thirteen and all, the rebelling stage of life, but I still didn’t understand why he was such a jerk to me. Brothers.
I strode into his room and found him standing on his bed, Isadora up there with him, bouncing up to try to get her notebook back. He just stood there, grinning cruelly, waving her notebook high above his head mockingly. “Duncan, drop it. Now,” I ordered, scowling.
“Make me, Pigley,” Duncan sneered provocatively, staring me down.
“I’ll put you in a headlock,” I threatened.
“Yeah, right,” Duncan snorted.
Smartaleck, huh? Alright, he asked for it… I climbed up on the bed and wrapped my arm around his neck, and just like that, he began squirming wildly, spinning us around and around, trying to break free.
“Quigley!” he said angrily, squeezing his eyes shut and baring his teeth like the animal he was. “Lemme go!”
I grinned at his tenacity, keeping the charade up for the better part of the next five minutes. “Izzy, ya hear that?”
Isadora beamed. “Hear what? I don’t hear anything,” she replied, playing along.
“Quigley!” Duncan shouted louder.
I laughed. God it felt good to be the oldest… Still holding him in a headlock, I shoved him down onto the bed, basking in the glory of pinning him. I wonder if this is what professional wrestlers felt like.
“Quigley!” Duncan roared terribly through a mouthful of his plaid blankets. “…Okay, okay! She can have it back! Here!” He let Isadora’s notebook plop on the floor and Isadora hurried over and picked it up before he changed his mind.
“What’s goin’ on up here?” a booming voice demanded from the doorway.
Eyes wide, I immediately let go of Duncan. I knew that voice alright. And it didn’t sound too happy, either.
“Nothing, daddy,” Isadora said innocently, tucking her notebook in her dark purple skirt pocket.
Dad looked at her skeptically, and then at me sternly. “Quigley Dakota…” he started through gritted teeth.
I gulped. Oh no, here it comes…the talk. …No, not that talk. We’ve already had that one. I mean the other talk. The “I’m mad at you and you’re gonna get it” talk.
“Downstairs. Now,” he barked gruffly, and then he was gone.
Duncan pulled his face out of the blanket and smiled devilishly, fighting not to lose it.
Isadora and I glared at him, but for different reasons. How come I always take the fall for what he does? It ain’t fair! He always gets away with things. Not as much as Isadora, her being the youngest and the only girl, but still.
“Better go see what he wants,” Duncan suggested, struggling to keep a straight face.
My glare worsened. My arms begged me to put him back in my Headlock of Doom, but my mind overruled their proposition, so I stood up and stormed out. God this was getting old. Me always ending up downstairs in Dad’s study to get a heated lecture about how I’m the oldest and that I should be the mature one of us…
I tromped down the mansion stairs, made a few twists and turns, and after a few minutes, wound up at a tall, carved wooden door at the end of a hall. I grabbed the diamond knob, but hesitated for a moment. Something just…didn’t feel right inside me. And the knob…it felt unusually warm… My face scrunched in puzzlement, I turned the knob and walked in.
I was greeted by a whoosh of ungodly hot air, and straight ahead I found my father on the floor, unconscious, a big bloody gouge on the side of his head. I looked from him to the windows and–––oh my God, fire! Fire! There’s a huge fire in here! The study windows had been shattered by who knows what and a wall of fire a mile wide and a mile high was slowly creeping its way toward him, eating everything in its path. Next to Dad lie my only clue: a broken glass bottle with a rag and bright, cloudy liquid trickling out of it.
“Dad!” I cried and rushed over to him. “Dad, wake up!” I tried and tried to pull him to safety, but it was no use. He was built like a brick house, a two hundred pound one at that, and given my small arms, there was no way I could do it. My heart sank deeply as my eyes darted over to the fire, its roar deafening, its heat unbearable, and if I hadn’t known better, I could’ve sworn it was laughing at me. I looked at Dad again, and then at the fire. There was only one thing to do.
“Mom!” I screamed and ran out of the study, tears welling up in my eyes at what I’d just done. How could I abandon him like that?
“Quigley?” came a high, frantic voice.
“Mom! There’s a fire in the study and Dad’s unconscious in there!” I explained hurriedly, beginning to sweat.
A slightly taller, aged version of my sister hurried around the corner, seized my wrist, and dragged me through the living room, which I found had erupted into flames since I’d entered the study.
“No, Mom, the other way! We gotta help Dad! He’ll burn if we–––” I started.
“Don’t worry about your father. I’ll help him,” Mom assured me calmly as we hurried through the dining room.
Just then, I heard a faint shatter of glass followed by an agonized scream.
“Izzy?” I looked behind me fearfully, then tried yanking my arm free so I could go see what was wrong with Isadora. But it was no use, Mom’s grip on me was the strongest I’ve ever felt it.
“Quigley, I’ll go help her,” Mom said firmly, still sounding calmer than ever, steering me into the library.
“Mom, what’s goin’ on?” I asked. I’m so lost. Did I miss something?
“Everything’s fine, sweetie,” she replied as she drug me into the middle of the room.
“Molotov cocktails being thrown into our house is not fine,” I pointed out, frustrated.
“We’ll discuss it later.” She lifted the exquisite rug, and–––huh? A trap door…? We had a trap door this whole time? How come I never knew? It would’ve made a great hiding spot for hide-and-seek. She opened it, the hinges creaking as she did so, gripped my shoulders, and looked me in the eye. “Quigley, I want you to listen to me,” she began. “I want you to stay down here until I get your siblings and your father. Alright?”
“Quigley, this’s serious. Get down there.”
Reluctantly, I sat on the floor and slid off into the darkness. I looked up at my mother and found her looking back down at me. Wait…were those tears in her eyes?
“I love you,” Mom said, then closed the trap door and hurried off into the thick cloud of smoke.