Shouldering All the Burden
Next thing I know my father is calling my name, "Adi... Adir... ADIRA!" pulling me back to reality.
I look up to see my father's ice blue eyes with a look in them I have never seen on his face before. One I can only describe as shock? Fear? Panic? I didn't have any more time to think about it as my father took my hand and pulled me in a hurry toward the end of the hall, where his study was to the right going out of my room. As he rushed to open the study door I could hear more screams getting closer. I couldn't tell if it was my hand shaking or my father's. He pushed me into the study and slammed the door shut behind him. Ahead, there was a small trap door in the floor with a rug flipped over next to it. I had been in my father's office several times but I still failed to notice we had a little chamber under the big ancient rug. My father motioned for me to go down, where I then saw my mother and my little brother and sister clinging onto her in a corner. She was trying her best to calm them down by humming to them softly. It seemed to be working... just barely. My mother looked at me with her worried tear stained green eyes and then looked at my father the same.
"Adira," my mother whispered, while motioning for me to come over.
When I got to her she tried to hand me my two siblings who were unwilling to look up or leave our mother's side. I had no idea what was going on. Thinking how scared I was, I couldn't even imagine how they were feeling. But I was no dummy. Not in the slightest. I knew she needed me to take them so I patted their heads which made them look up and realize it was me. They were more willing when they saw it was me and were less reluctant to leave our mother. As soon as I took mother's place huddled in the corner with my 7 year old sister and 5 year old brother, mother hurriedly went to father's arms and sobbed silently. They then begin whispering to each other and the more my father talked the more my mother looked like she was dying. Even though it was a tiny space the only time I could hear their words was when my mother was frantically repeating to my father,
“No, August! You can't!"
“Stay in peace!”
That was all I could make out of there conversation.
My father then gently pushed my mother aside and walked over to me. He ran his hand down my honey colored hair, "Adira, some people have come and invaded our home. We have been hiding in peace for so long we forgot the dangers we still had. All will be explained to you later, but right now I need you to take care of your mother and siblings for me."
Then he was running his hand through my brother's jet black hair then my sister's ashy blonde hair.
Then he stared at me again, "Don't trust anyone. And don't let people know who you are, or reveal your full capabilities. Protect your siblings well with that smart head of yours. Adira you and your siblings are extremely special, and many people would become greedy to get their hands on you and what you can do. I don't have time to explain, so take this. It's a book explaining our ancestral background. Protect this book at all costs."
I looked at him in confusion as he was about the turn around, "Wait," I said not realizing my voice was shaking, "What are you talking about? We have lived here all our lives and never have been anywhere else. What do you mean people are coming for us? What is going on? Where are you going? Why are you just now half explaining this to me!?"
I had so many questions I was word vomiting out.
Just when he was about to say something my mother called his name, "August, there in the house."
And he then quickly turned toward the trap door and hurriedly began climbing, but not before my mother pulled him into a hug, and he pulled her into a sweet, brief kiss, before venturing back out of the chamber closing the trap door behind him, and most likely putting the rug back on top. I think I knew in that moment I would never see my father again.
I didn't have time to think before I recalled my father's words, "Take care of your siblings and Mother." As I remembered this I saw my mother on her knees silently hugging herself.
I swiftly got up holding both the little ones and bent down to comfort my mother.
"Father is strong and fast," I said, "Not to mention the best caster and fighter we know."
Mother only gave me then a faint smile and kissed each of our foreheads before pulling me into her embrace, "You are very special, even without your gifts. I love you three very much, but I also love your father. I must go to him. Take care of your siblings for me Adira."
I was startled so I pushed back from her embrace only to see her get up and start climbing up the hatch.
"What are you doing!? You can't leave us! Mother we need you!”
I already had a feeling I lost my father and I couldn't bear the thought of losing the only parent I was sure I had left.
She turned, "I'm sorry your father needs help and I need you to be a big girl."
I was already 15, and I knew quite a bit for a 15 year old. I knew then and there what she needed was not a "big girl" but for me to be the big sister, or more accurate, she was leaving and not planning on coming back.
My mother had already went up and out the hatch. I quickly told my siblings to be good and I would be right back with mother. But before I could go further I heard the fighting up above, and paused. They were right above. I could go out and help mother and father but the intruders would see me and thus I would expose my siblings. My mother was yelling for my father but there was no answer. As the fighting was going on I soon was out of my trance and decided that if they did go for my siblings I would fight them all off. I unlocked the hatch but before I could go up I saw the one thing I forgot about. The fire. We were done for, surrounded by fire, I knew that if we didn't get out fast we would be left down here to burn.
I heard my sister call my name with her sweet voice.
We needed to get out. I quickly turned around and climbed back into the chamber swiftly hoisting my brother up who was too scared to move, while I motioned my sister towards the ladder. I bent down to my sister and pulled her close to me with my brother on my hip.
"We need to leave but we need to be quiet," I whispered to them, "It's going to be hot and scary up there but I need you guys to stay calm, I promise everything will be okay." They nodded at me as steadily as they could.
The truth was I was scared out of my mind. Not even I was calm or sure everything would be fine, but I hoped I had kept my voice steady enough for them to believe it. Although I wasn't sure how everything would turn out, I was sure of one thing, that I would protect them. No matter what. I quickly tore three pieces off the blanket that was brought down and tied one piece around their mouths like a mask, hoping they would inhale less smoke.
"Keep your eyes closed until I tell you to open them," I said this while giving them a serious look.
I didn't know what was up there but I didn't want them to have to find out. Mother must have been too busy, thus not putting the rug back on top. I now heard nothing but silence from above. Most likely due to the fire in the room. I quickly shoved the hatch up and popped my head out. It was better than I thought it would be, but not for long. The whole room looked like it was about to come down on us. Right above us was a glass light that looked like it was about to burst. I grabbed Ember with my free hand and pushed her up nudging her forward as I climbed out right behind her. The door was already in flames and the room was like an oven. I quickly dragged Ember with me as I carried Octavius to the window across from the door behind father's desk. I went to open it but it was already boiling hot from the fire, so naturally, I burned myself. Rookie mistake. It hurt like hell, but I had to push through. I took the blanket piece off my mouth and wrapped it around my hand to open the window. I pushed it up and got it open, I then took Octavius who was on the verge of tears and set him outside, careful not to touch the window. I then did the same with Ember. As I was scrunching myself through the window, I heard a gruff like a growl. I turned my head to see in the doorway a… well, I'm not sure what it was but I know it wasn't human. Black, that's all it was, like melting goo. It had no specific face, just goo. The most defined feature about it was it's smell. It was like rotting flesh. That's when all my instincts kicked in and suddenly a little burn didn't sound so bad anymore.
Next thing I knew I was rolling on the ground outside, "Go go go!" I hastily yelled at Ember.
Next thing I knew we were running into the woods. I turned and did a quick check behind and what I saw was, at the time, my worst nightmare. The black goo was right behind us.
"Ember, hold O's hand," she listened and then I did what I knew would be a gamble and pinched Octavius. I covered his mouth before he could scream. I looked up and saw the goo glob was at most 15 feet away and coming fast. This was the gamble part. Whether or not it worked, and whether I could keep Octavius from screaming or not. Until the goo stopped and I knew it had worked. He was now unable to see us, but I didn't know how long this was going to last since Octavius was still young and had little to no control over this power. I quickly scaled the biggest tree as silently as I could pushing Ember and dragging Octavius. The goo creature below up was not happy, based off the feral sounds that were coming out of it's mouth. But it only fueled me to push us to climb more. I didn't know how long we climbed before I settled us down on a nice branched off area on the tree. But I do know we didn't stop until the goo was no longer in sight. It was still dark out, but it was almost dawn. Ember and Octavius were too tired to ask any questions so I was left to wonder alone. I didn't know at which point the silent tears were streaming down my face, or at which point I had finally got my mind back. But no matter how hard I tried to stop and wipe the tears away, they still stained my now rosy cheeks. At some point I realized the severity of the situation and knew it was my job to have a plan for us to survive. No more crying. There's no time for me to cry, all crying will do is waste the much needed energy I have left. My dad's words kept repeating in my head as I thought about the book he gave me. But no matter how hard I looked at it I couldn't bring myself to open it. We now probably had no parents, which meant I was our best chance. I decided that tomorrow I would see what was left of our former perfect little life, before we set out over the barrier. Considering the goo saw me, I knew they would be tracking us down. I needed to not get caught, at least for the little ones' sakes. I was now shouldering the burden alone, in the dark.