I returned to the Pixie World. I was feeling a little drained and needed the company of other Pixies. I also needed to talk to Father and Ava to their faces about Thalpius.
I reluctantly entered the house. Ava came to meet me when she heard the door. She'd been crying. She took just one look at me and clearly swallowed back more tears.
Eventually she spoke. "Your father is in the dining room."
"He's better then." It wasn't a question but she nodded anyway. I headed for the stairs.
"He wants to see you," Ava called after me. I turned slowly to face her. Father avoided me at all costs. Sure I'd avoided them but only Thalpius had sought a way to... help me. My father hadn't been bothered.
"Of course he does but I want to wash and change my clothes and be alone," I said.
"He wants to see you," she repeated and turned back to the dining room. I kept going to my room. I washed and pulled on a long brown skirt and a blue blouse. I enjoyed wearing a skirt again.
A few minutes later, I tentatively knocked on the dining room door. Father was sitting in his usual place at the head of the table with a sobbing Ava on his left. His hand covered hers. Ice usually sat on his left with me beside her and then Thalpius sat - used to sit - next to Ava.
"You wished to see me, Father?" I said. His eyes flashed to me and my only reaction was to blink at the anger in them.
"What happened?" he snapped without preamble, "How did my only son die?"
I smiled without humour.
"He was murdered. The end," I answered and started to leave.
"No! You will not leave until you've told me every last detail!" Father shouted and I heard Ava whimper. His voice was slightly calmer when he continued. "I believe you are deliberately not telling me who killed him."
"Good deduction," I rolled my eyes.
"I know you're protecting him again!" Father yelled when I walked out the room. I froze but then spun around.
"Who?" I whispered. Father's face was triumphant.
"You know who," he said softly, "If you don't tell me the truth about what happened then I'll have to punish you. Nature, why aren't you more like your sister. She isn't home much but at least she's-"
"NO!" I glared at my father and hissed, "I will never be like that... that... that Traitor."
"Traitor? How?" Ava breathed.
"She's the one who killed my little brother! And I couldn't stop her and I have to live with that for the rest of my life! If you want to punish someone, Father, then let it be your eldest daughter," I ran from the room. I sprinted for my bedroom.
"Lies!" Father shouted after me, "You're protecting the Trickster, I know it!" I didn't bother replying. I slammed my door shut and locked it.
The Pixie World was suppose to be the refuge of all Pixies and a home for us all. Yet whenever I was in the Pixie World it couldn't be less of a home to me. The pull of this world wasn't as strong as we'd been warned for me. We'd been taught that whenever we ventured from the Pixie World the tug that constantly called us to return was so strong that we could hardly concentrate on anything else unless we spent years learning to put it in the back of our minds. For me, even in the beginning, it was very faint and easy to ignore. Ice, too, seemed to be able to ignore the pull. Was it genetic then? Nature hit me disrupting my thoughts but I was thinking so deeply that I stored it away to think about later. I shook my head and continued with what I was thinking. Thalpius had spoken to me of the discomfort of the tug and he was my half brother very much like Ice was my half sister. Genes from Father were out then.
I felt cold. What if it was because there were other things that tied us to the world of all other creatures? What if it was because we were bored of this world? Or both?
Very good, sister, very good indeed. You hate that don't you? That we have more in common than you think.
I had hoped I'd severed this connection, I replied, ignoring what she'd said. I'd used this mind connection before when I'd called Ice to help Maz... when this mess started. The connection only occured between siblings.
Ice chuckled in my head. It only severs if both Pixies wish that. I figured this connection may come in handy. It did for you... all those years ago.
Nice try Ice but, whatever reaction you're hoping for, you're not getting it.
Ah, I don't care about your reaction to that. No, no, no, no, no, I care about your reaction to this. I saw Mazany's face flash through our minds. I kept my mind perfectly blank.
Tut-tut, Zuri, you've not upheld your side of the bargain.
The rules only apply in these worlds, I replied.
These worlds? You're insane, Sister, what other worlds are there?
Tut-tut, Ice. You certainly live in the present don't you? I had to force myself not to think how I sounded like the phoenixes (particularly Al'Leako).
Better than letting myself be ruled by the past. I look to the future, Sis, instead of dwelling in the past.
It doesn't matter where you hide him, Ice. I'll find him, or rather; he'll find me. After all, I have a debt to uphold.
Knowing you, you promised to save him. You love being the hero - to be precise, his hero - so how will you uphold the debt but also keep that promise.
Watch me, Sis, multi-tasking. Not one of your strong points.
We're both bored of the restrictions of the Pixie World and it scares you that you might become a traitor - like me. I'm tied to the freedom of this world - like you. We both like getting out of the nose's of our 'family' especially when we don't care for them much. Oh, you think you do, but you don't - not anymore. We're also both tied to the Fire Fox. We have a lot in common, Zuri, and you're beginning to realise that. Ice hurtled as many things at me as she could. I smiled.
Yes, those things bother me but not as much as the fact you're scared of me bothers you. Catch you later, Ice.
I locked the door of our minds, so to speak, and went to sit on the window sill. I shut my eyes and forced her words from my head. She wanted to throw me, distract me...
I opened my eyes and looked out the window.
"What in the deepest pits of Nature's Dark World is going on?" I said.
Outside the house was a small army of Pixies.