Once we were back at the house, Aaron made us all sit down at the table. He also brought me some hot tea--not something people usually did around here, but it helped. Upon noticing the tea, I must've appeared slightly confused because Aaron laughed.
"Please forgive me. It must seem a little odd that I'm serving hot tea in this day and age. It's become a bit of a habit. Our mother used to bring us hot tea all the time when we were little."
"Really?...Wait, Ashe, you mentioned something about an 'immortal life' back at the clock tower. Is that true? Are we really immortal?"
"...Sort of. As long as we aren't killed a second time, we can live forever."
"So, we can be killed?...Again?"
Ashe sighed. He acted like the whole conversation was boring him to death.
"See, this is why I didn't want her around. Explaining everything is such a pain in the ass."
"Come on, Ashe, be a little more sympathetic to Terra's situation."
"If you care so much about her 'situation,' then why don't you explain everything?"
"Why do you have to be such a handful?" Aaron turned to me and spoke. "The most important thing you should know about Reckoners is that there are others like us in the world. However, these other people aren't our friends. They're known as the Ascenders. They've been hunting Reckoners since the beginning of time. They are dangerous and if you should ever meet one, run."
"Ascenders huh? You said they were like us, but if they're hunting us then they can't be too much like us...right?"
"They call themselves Ascenders because, like us, they died at some point in their past lives. Since they did die, they believe this 'second life' means they have transcended the limits of humanity and makes them nothing less than gods," Ashe interjected suddenly.
"I guess that kind of makes sense. Why do they hunt Reckoners though?"
"Because we side with the human race. Reckoners are guardians of sorts. We're supposed to protect humans...at least, that's what we were told when Ashe and I were brought back. Unfortunately, because of generations of fighting between the Ascenders and the Reckoners, there aren't many people left who can pass on our history and origin. When Reckoners appear nowadays, there's no one left to teach them the dangers of the world or the purpose of why they've been chosen to be a Reckoner. Because of that, the Ascenders have pretty much wiped us out. As far as Ashe and I are concerned, there aren't any more Reckoners being born...until you."
"...Wow. You're serious?"
I could help but stare at my cup of tea as I tried to wind my head around all this. I could feel both of them looking at me. Aaron laid a hand on my arm. His warm smile encouraged me to stay strong and keep an open mind.
"How'd you die?"
"Ashe! That's not something you should ask so bluntly!" Aaron's seemed upset that his brother would ask such a straightforward question without any remorse.
"It's okay. Actually, I've been meaning to talk to you about that."
"It's obvious you were murdered."
Sheesh, I get that they are interested in me but does he have to go about it like that? A hint of irritation at Ashe's lack of sympathy shot through me. I resisted the urge to shout at him. Aaron was still upset with Ashe but Ashe didn't seem to care. That only irritated me more.
"...Yeah, I was."
"Did you see the guy? Any description of him you can give us?"
"You know, you seem more interested in Terra's killer than in Terra herself. You can be really heartless, you know that?" Aaron added before I could speak.
Ashe shrugged his shoulders and stared at me, waiting for a response.
"I couldn't see much because it was dark, but he spoke in a different language. I'd never heard it before. And, he also knew my name."
"Would you be able to recognize the language if you heard it again?"
"Yes, I can't forget it. Those words he said to me. I'll remember them forever."
"Good. Hold on to that. It'll help keep you grounded somewhat to the person you used to be. Trust me when I say that the person you once were is now a memory. You can't go back to that. All you have are the years in front of you. And, you must always be prepared to be alone. In the end, you either die a second time or you live for eternities."
"Ashe..." Aaron muttered, clearly showing concern for his brother.
"Can I ask how you died, both of you?"
"Um, well--" Aaron began nervously.
"I won't tell you how, but I will tell you that I died 300 hundred years ago."
"...Wait, what?! But how have you lived this long?!"
"Running. Every time Ascenders showed up, we ran."
"Even so, we're still here. That counts for something. Right, Ashe?" Ashe nodded, slightly distracted. "Terra, just know that we're here for you."
"Thanks, Aaron. I appreciate it. On another note, I've always been a little curious since I first saw you guys together."
"Um, which one of you is older?"
"Believe it or not, Aaron is older than me. Despite that, I've been a Reckoner for about seven years longer than he has."
"Really? So, you didn't die at the same time then?"
"Nope. It also happened in very different situations."
Again, Ashe was giving me uninterested, curt responses as if my questions were only bothering him. I couldn't help but feel even more curious about them and how they ended up this way.
"...How can two brothers be so different?"
"What? Wow, you're full of questions, aren't you? Let's see, we've always been different. I think becoming Reckoners and things that have happened in our past--even if they happened to both of us--affected us in drastically different ways. As you've probably already noticed, Ashe has chosen to withdraw from the human race, as well as refrain from displaying his true emotions. I believe he's secretly in denial. Me, well I'd like to think I still believe and have hope in ourselves and the human race. Your question does raise an excellent point though. I never fully realized our differences until now. Life is truly a strange turn of events all its own, wouldn't you agree?"
"Yeah," I breathed as I looked at both of them.
Aaron was the kind-hearted, slightly naive type who believed there was a chance to save everyone. Ashe, on the other hand, seemed to have given up on the idea of helping people because, in his mind, everything was a lost cause. And then there was me, a once-ordinary girl who dreamed of excitement and found it in a life with these two guys--Reckoners--who agreed to help me discover my new self. The only less-exciting piece of my newfound life was the fear of running into an Ascender and dying...for the second time.