B3 — 21. All I Want Pt. 1

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The sun was dipping low in the sky; Sora was standing in front of a nice white themed house, the many windows showing bright lights inside.  The front yard had large four-foot bushes that fenced it, and to their left, a gate led around the side of the house; some kind of fern grew on the bars, showing brilliant light purple flowers.  There was a circular room to the right of the house that was built for viewing, lined with windows and ferns surrounding the outside.

There were two BMW’s in the front driveway that seemed fairly new; a hedge grew behind them, separating the house from the driveway.  To the right of the driveway was a path that led to the glass-paneled, white framed front door, and the second floor had a large patio that wrapped around the house, white rail guards lining the edges for safety and grill showing against the left railing.  Looking to her right, Sora read the signs above a stop sign, Royal Palm Avenue and 34 Street.

Ashley sighed beside her, peering through the windows, Inari to her right side; as instructed, Sora began to shield Ashley from the calming energy that sustained her.  Her gaze shifted to her aunt as she used her energy to form a shield around Ashley. Another shield?  

What’s that for?

“Ashley will go through a rough start, and it’s best if she’s in complete control.”

Ashley swallowed as she glanced over at her.  “Um, I—you’re reducing that calming effect of the Vulpes Realm … right?”

Sora nodded with pursed lips.  “Well, kind of. I’m just blocking the energy from being transferred to your copied Intelligence, but my aunt also made a shield around you so her influence won’t affect you.”

“Right,” Ashley sighed, rubbing her left elbow, vision returning to the house.  “We’re invisible—right, Inari? And thank you for the shield. It’s comforting knowing that I’m one-hundred percent me.”

“That is correct,” Inari folded her hands behind her back, tails fanning out as she studied the white house with casual interest.  “You can walk through walls like a ghost, but this realm functions in essence on your desire and imagination.

“If you plan to sit in a chair, then it will be solid; however, you are not sitting in the chair in the human realm, but a representative construct created by your desire.  That being said, there are limits within this realm connected to your internal energy, but sitting down is simple enough.”

“Good to know,” Ashley mumbled, running a hand through her blonde hair.  She hesitated for a moment before walking forward, moving through the walls, Sora and Inari following.  They entered a kitchen; it was nice with new appliances, and there was the sound of children giggling further into the house.

Sora hummed as she glanced around the area.  “So, how many kids do you have?”

“Two, a six-year-old boy—seven now, and a five-year-old girl …  Cedric and Josie.”

They walked further into the house, moving through the kitchen wall to the bedroom behind it.  The room was split between a girl’s and boy’s side with a bunk-bed against the left wall. Under the back window, there were shelves with dinosaurs, legos, and soldiers with military vehicles, while against the right wall were even larger shelves with mermaids, Barbie, and a small castle dollhouse complete with Disney princesses and accessories.  The colors were split down the middle with blue and pink, glow stars spread across the ceiling.

Sitting against the wall on the bottom bunk leaned two kids and a man.  Ashley’s throat caught as she held her fist against her lips, left hand clamped around her stomach.

The man held an Ipad in his hands as the two kids nestled next to him.  He told them a story, swiping his finger against the screen. His hair was brown and clean cut; Sora guessed he used putty to sweep it to the left side.  His eyes were hazel and he had a closely trimmed beard and mustache. He was handsome and seemed to be in his late twenties. 

It was obvious that he was trying to be excited for his kids, but was exhausted; he had a deep, mature voice.  “The great king and queen of Roenia, Tommy and Irean, had finally overcome the great dragon Jordane and returned peace to the land.   However, the peace didn’t last.”

Cedric was watching the tablet with anticipation.  “Was it Erlshine again? Did he break out of the crystal prison?”

“No,” Josie shook her head frantically, blonde hair whipping around.  “See the clouds! It’s Empmess Etita!”

“Empress Etnna,” Cedric snickered.  “Not Empmess…”

“Oh,” the man hummed lowly.  “I think this next evil is worse than even Erlshine and Empress Etnna.”  Cedric and Josie’s eyes widened.

“What?”  Cedric scooted closer to get a better look at the screen.  “How? Erlshine blew up part of the castle!”

“Nu-uh!”  Josie huffed.  “Empmess Etita has that—that thing, with the staff and the whoosh!”  She made a hand gesture before snuggling closer to her dad.

“You told your children fascinating stories,” Inari chuckled.

A tear slid down Ashley’s cheek as she sniffed, taking a deep breath.  “There’s a site that has a lot of pictures on it—you can swipe through and make up your own stories … Brandon and I—we’d take turns each night.  They never forget…”

Brandon smiled at his two kids, bags under his eyes.  “Everything was fine with all the villains trapped in their prisons, but that’s when a new villain appeared; he had heard about the great powers that King Tommy and Queen Irean had and wanted to take it for himself.  This villain’s name was Kren, and Kren had the Emerald Stones.”

Cedric sucked in his breath.  “What? That’s impossible!”

“Why?  I don’t remember … what’s the Embald Stones?”  Josie looked up at her dad, face filled with question.

“It was,” Cedric paused.  “Wait … that was Wester’s magic, right?  Wester was trapped in that underwater prison, and his powers were put into the Emerald Stones.  Didn’t Tommy throw them into the Eternity Well? That’s how they fixed the broken sky.”

“Oh!”  Josie nodded.  “Yeah, the Wishing Well, I remember!  The big boom that came from the sky and the cracks, swoosh!”

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“Yup, yup,” Brandon chuckled.  “You’re both right. No one’s seen the Emerald Stones since then, but now Kren has them, and what’s he do with them?”

“Crack the sky?”  Josie asked.

“Na,” Cedric huffed.  “Too easy … umm, I don’t know.”

Brandon flipped the page, causing the kids to gasp.  “Remember, the Emerald Stones were a part of Wester’s magic, he could open rifts.  And so, Kren snuck into the castle one night, freezing the guards with his magical frost wand before creeping into the King and Queen’s chambers and … you’ll have to figure it out tomorrow night!”

“Aww,” the kids cried in unison.  “But we just started!”

Sighing, Brandon shifted his weight to ruffle both kids’ hair.  “I know, squirts, but I have work really early tomorrow, and I need to get some sleep.”

“What about mommy?”  Josie pleaded, making Ashley quiver.  “When’s she coming home?”

Brandon seemed to stiffen at her question.  “I—I don’t know, princess … I don’t know…”

“But I want her!”  Josie’s face scrunched up with tears beginning to fall down her cheeks.  “She didn’t tell us a story—not forever! And house, and lunches…”

“Hey,” Brandon’s tone became thick as he hugged his daughter.  Cedric seemed to have a better grasp of the situation because he was trying to hold back his own tears.  “Your mother loves you two so much, and I know that she’d be right here reading you a story if she could.  Just hold on a bit more, okay?”

“I don’t want to!”

“I know…”

“She hasn’t—she hasn’t—not finished the Firefly story…”

Sora could feel the guilt and heartache that compressed Ashley’s heart at her daughter’s pleas.  Is there anything we can do?

“Just wait; let Ashley cope.”

Brandon lifted his daughter to the top bunk, tucking her in.  “I’ll tell you what, I’ll make you the same roasted chicken salad wrap your mother…”

“That’s special Tuesday, though … when mom’s home early,” Cedric said from the bottom bunk, voice cracking as he hid his face under his blankets.

“Yeah,” Josie sniffed.  “I miss special Tuesday.”

“That’s right,” Brandon sighed, running his hand through Josie’s hair.  “That’s right … well, why don’t we make a special Thursday then?”

“It’s not the same…” Josie huffed, turning away from her dad to stare at the wall.

“Yeah, no, I know,” Brandon whispered.  “I do…” He breathed a long sigh before rubbing his daughter’s back under the blankets.  “I know.”

He sniffed before pulling up the rail guard and reached down to ruffle Cedric’s hair.  “Thanks for being tough, champ. I’ll see you two in the morning.”

Ashley’s emotions were all over the place as she quaked next to them, but she couldn’t speak.  She watched Brandon slowly go to the windows and check the locks and bars were in place before leaving the room, shutting the door behind him.

Taking a shuddering breath, Ashley moved to the side of the bed.  She stared at her daughter as she began to cry under her covers. “C—Cedric…”

Cedric’s voice was thick.  “What?”

“Why won’t—dad won’t tell us where mom is?”

“He doesn’t know.”

“Was she—was she kidnapped by Gorin?  Like—like Queen Irean?”

“I don’t know.”

“I’m scared … where’s mom … Cedric?”

“I’m scared too.”

They both cried softly; Ashley reached out a hand, but it passed right through them.  Clearing her throat, she asked, “Inari … what should I do? People are watching to see if I come back, right?”  She breathed in sharply. “What should I do?”

Inari hummed darkly.  “It’s not an easy answer, Ashley, and yes, there are watchers, but Bathin wouldn’t use humans to watch for signs of Sora.”  Inari dipped into Sora’s energy pool and used a small amount.

Sora’s eyes instantly moved to the corner of the room as she saw a red glow appear; the shape of a small imp appeared, saliva dripping down its lips as it stared at Cedric.

Ashley’s muscles tightened.  “That thing’s—that’s in my kid’s room?”  She growled.

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“Yes,” Inari stated, glancing toward the left wall.  “There are several demons hidden throughout the property.  Searching for any hint of spiritual energy. I understand your enmity, and the protective urge you’re experiencing is natural, but if we were to do anything to these demons, then it would alert Bathin to focus on your family.”

“Then—what can I do?”  Ashley seethed in frustration.  “My kids, my husband … they’re suffering, and I’m right here!  You’re a Founder, can’t you just burn all of them? Send them back to hell or destroy them?”

Inari turned to stare at the imp.  “It certainly is possible; Sora has the energy, and I have the experience to handle every demon here.  Utilizing Sora’s energy, I could destroy Bathin with a snap of my finger; however, there are more things to consider in the grand scheme of things.  So, I won’t be doing that.”

Ashley’s jaw locked as she stared down at Cedric’s quivering frame.  “If you had kids, you wouldn’t say that.”

Sora stiffened at her retort, turning to study her aunt.  Inari’s features were passive, revealing nothing. “Perhaps.  I have intervened quite a bit for my niece; however, as you said, I am a Founder, and Founders play a much longer game.

“Sora is no different than your kids; innocent of the world she’s in, sheltered and protected by her parents, yet she also grew up without her mother.  There are pros and cons to everything, but there is a must, and that is to learn how to combat this world, not hide from it. Everything is a lesson; even if it hurts the parents, they must suffer through it, their children must stumble and fall, they must learn how to stand on their own.  Use your experience to recognize which battles they can handle and battles that you must step in to help.”

“How?  I’m powerless here … and how can they being without their mom be a lesson?”  Ashley muttered, disappointment, anger, and despair, filling her chest. The question struck Sora’s heart.  She’s right … what lessons can be learned from living without their mom … without my mother?

Inari was silent a moment.  “Ashley, the world isn’t fair and never will be; rather than putting your effort into trying to equalize it, you should focus on what’s important in front of you.  Your attention is limited, and so are your choices. You have three options in life; the sword, the diplomat, or the slave. These three options are made in every interaction and have many branching categories within them, but those are the base decisions.

“Is it right that you were taken away from your children?  No, it is not, and Eric is to blame for that, but blaming someone won’t change the circumstances or the world.  What are your options? If you lie down and give up, then what happens?”

“I lose my children,” Ashley growled.

“Can you fight with your own strength to overcome your obstacles?”


“Then, your last option?”

“Diplomat … I’m in this mess because of Eric, but he has no power over my circumstances.  So … enlist aid elsewhere or bargain with Bathin to allow me to return to my life.” Bargain with Bathin?  Seriously? I mean, I guess that’s an option, but still…

“What is your choice?”

Ashley swallowed; Sora could feel the turmoil that was twisting her insides.  “I doubt you’d let me bargain with Bathin.”

“Why not?”

Both Ashley and Sora’s heads snapped toward Inari.  “Huh?”

A slight smile curved Inari’s lips.  “Why not?”

Ashley’s brows creased.  “Well—because that could endanger Sora.”

“If you choose to try and bargain with Bathin, then I will not stop you.  I will even take us to him and provide the proper protection. If that is what you desire.”  What are you doing?  Is this a test?

“Sora, life is a test.  What you are is comprised of the decisions you make, and I don’t lie, if she chooses so, then I will comply.  I’ve given my word.”

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