Megan, Monica, and Rebecca were sitting in the living room with them when they opened their eyes. Emily and Cassy were quietly playing together with Emily being very patient with the younger girl. Looking at the pair I got the feeling that Emily was very happy. While not the baby sibling she had suggested to me a while ago, Cassy was probably close enough, and she was old enough to play with her unlike Bryan.
"How did it go?" Megan asked.
I groaned. "Fine." I replied grumpily. "How is Grace?" I asked.
"Resting." Megan replied then looked to Kayda.
"Seriously?" I asked.
The girls ignored me.
I rolled my eyes then stood up. "I'm going to talk to my sister." I told them seeing no reason to stick around for the debrief.
"She is still locked up in her room." Monica told me standing up.
I nodded then gave each of the girls a hug and kiss, though Kayda got an extra caress or two as payback for the way she teased me while we waited for Nathan to wake up.
I really liked Monica's new look but I would have to wait till later tonight to really enjoy it. Or maybe tomorrow. With Cassy back she might not sleep with us tonight.
I pushed those thoughts aside then headed for the door.
As my sister Emy had made a small house for Annitte close to my own. She wasn't required to share the house with anyone else but there was enough room for others to join her if she wanted them too. As far as I knew she was still living alone, and despite her claims to making her way through the men in the haven, she hadn't been seen getting close to anyone.
I strolled up to the door of her house and knocked loudly.
"Go away." Annitte called from deeper in the house sounding rather tired.
"No." I called back.
Silence greeted me for a while, then even more silence.
"The observer told me about Zelia." I called out.
The door opened immediately revealing a red eyed Annitte.
"And my other brother." I told her seriously.
Annitte flinched then sighed and opened the door for me to come in.
I followed her into the living room which was much smaller than the one in my own home. No surprises there, this house was made to hold a fraction that mine was.
"Zelia is fine." I told her immediately. "The observer said that she was captured, but our siblings are protecting her. She wasn't specific, but it is better than nothing right?" I asked.
Annitte nodded looking a bit relieved. "Yeah. I was afraid she had been hurt or forced to marry one of those insufferable jerks." she replied then sighed. "I would guess you didn't think to ask about my husbands." she stated.
I shook my head.
"Don't worry about it. Given the way I have acted, you probably didn't think I cared about them." she stated then laughed for a moment which then turned into crying.
I moved over to her side and held her. The confirmation that she really was my sister had changed a lot of how I looked at her. I never looked at her like a woman, but now I was willing to see her as family.
Annitte cried for a long while before she calmed down. "Corrin and Ellina are good to us, they treated us kindly, but they were always distant. Zelia, Jessin, and I were a lot closer. He was the big brother I always wanted, handsome, strong, and protective. Before everything he rivaled Corrin in strength." she told me. "He never married though so we don't even have any nieces or nephews to remind us of him." she told me. "His trial was supposedly even worse than Corrin and Ellina's. Mother realized he had her gift and was even harsher on him. Becoming an Elementalist is dangerous, when he contracted his first elemental he wasn't aware of the dangers. He had to fight the elemental to get it to submit to him. When the fight was over he found their hiding spot had been destroyed. Even though it was a mental battle between the two of them, they put off an enormous amount of elemental energy during the struggle. Finding his wife and kids killed by his own hands, it broke him. He gave up on life and waited for death. Mother wasn't happy, especially since he was the first to inherit her gift. She refused to let him die. She picked him up and dumped him in the haven, told him he would eventually get over his silly mortal attachment then left. At least that is what Zelia told me. He would never speak about it." Annitte told me.
I cringed. I knew our parents were heartless, but the depth of their uncaring attitude still surprised me.
"I don't have to worry about that, I already have six elementals." I told her. I decided not to mention the fact that mother should have imparted some knowledge to him about being an elementalist. That would have saved his family. I could look into the information she left me see if it was in there. I didn't know Jessin but I had to wonder if he might have pushed himself too hard on purpose, as a way of killing himself that they couldn't stop. The damage and heartbreak that went with it might been worse than he anticipated or he was too far gone to care. I just didn't know. It was a dark thought, but the scare with Grace had made me realize how much I cared. If I lost her it would hurt a lot. That being the case what would I be like if I Megan or Karen? It was horrible to admit, but they were special to me. Despite how we finally came together Karen and I had been through a lot together and nothing could change that. On the other hand Megan was the first to accept me, love me. That meant a lot to me, it made her even more important to me than Karen who I had know since I was a kid. If it had been her instead of Grace… Well it was best not to think about that. I didn't know if I had a spare focus to make a new haven.
It was an important realization though and it made me sympathise with my older siblings. No matter how much our parents wanted to toughen us up and bring out our full potential, there had to be a better way. I just couldn't believe that we could reach our greatest potential while drowning in despair. Instead I felt we needed the encouragement that came with knowing we had people to protect. Knowing that if we failed they were doomed was an incredible motivator. Especially when the ultimate goal was to create a true sanctuary.
I could be wrong, so far my situation was nowhere near as bad as my siblings. Everything happened earlier for me than it had for them. Instead of loss and grief I had found love, and hope.
I clenched my jaws, I had been given an opportunity to become incredibly powerful, and while I wanted it so I could ensure the safety of my family, I was wary, there was no free lunches, the observers would want something from me when I was strong enough to help them and I was sure they would ask before I was strong enough to fight them off if I didn't like what they wanted me to do.
I stopped as a thought struck me, it might take longer, but even if I didn't use their help to get stronger, they would still ask me for help. Why wouldn't they? As much as they knew about us, I am sure they would have ways of convincing me that it was in my best interest, either with threats or convincing me that it was necessary. If they were willing to interfere this much to help me grow, then there was no reason they wouldn't interfere to make me help them.
Kayda will tell Megan all about it. I am sure Megan will give me her opinion later. I am just as sure she would encourage me to do it while finding a way to hide my strength so when they asked I was able to tell them no. If only it was as easy as it sounded.
Maybe it was.
"The observer seemed certain I would become some kind of monster." I told Annitte. "The power would corrupt me or something like that."
Annitte nodded tiredly. "Yeah that happens. Then bad shit happens and you realize your mistakes and try to learn from them. If you live that long." she told me.
"Even you?" I asked.
"All of us. None of us are perfect. Some are worse than others, but we each have our fear and pride. With enough power we become so sure of our strengths, and protect ourselves from what we fear. With that power comes the ability to do things we couldn't before whether it is to protect, command, or create, whatever it is we can do it once we have power. Then we start to fear losing the power, because without it we can't do the things we wanted. Then comes the twist, we eventually start to just focus on our power and lose sight of what we wanted the power for. Finally our drive for power has overwhelmed us to the point that we hurt or destroy the very thing we wanted the power for. Only then do we wake up and realize or mistakes. By then the damage is already done. We have hurt the ones we love the most, at worst everything is gone, and we end up like Jessin. In the best situations no one is lost and they can apologize and try to make up for it, but the injury is never forgotten and going back to the way it was before is hard." she told me sounding very tired.
"Mine wasn't so bad. I pissed off my husbands, I hurt them deeply. They forgave me of course but I can still see the hurt in their eyes. It never goes away." she added.
I was silent for a while, I hadn't understood what the observer was saying, yet now I was starting to realized becoming a monster didn't have to be intentional. There was a lot to think about. I knew that what she had told me was the really vague, but I doubted she wanted to relive the events enough to tell me everything that happened.
Lost in my own thoughts Annitte leaned against me and closed her eyes. "It's why we welcome our siblings eagerly." she mumbled. "We all go through it so only we would understand each other."
I frowned. I hadn't. my trial wasn't as harsh as any of thiers. Before I could say anything she had fallen asleep.
I gently moved out from under her and laid her down comfortably then sat in another chair close by. For some reason I didn't think it was a great idea to leave her alone.
So still better off than last week, those social obligations really cut into my weekend. I will try to have the releases at a normal time since I have some breathing room now. I will let you know of any changes.
Thanks for reading! Another chapter of Harvest Dungeon later in the week, if things go well maybe two this week!
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