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Chapter 0: Reunion of the Merrick Family
Date Published: June 8th, 2015
This is a work of fiction. Names, monsters, skills, places, etcetera, and incidents are the product of the author's imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2014 by AnmesicCat. All rights reserved.
Prologue: Reunion of the Merrick Family
Alone in the quiet Student Council Office, President Yvonne Merrick was finishing up some paper work before the upcoming school year, when a sudden knock on the door interrupted her train of thought.
"President, there's someone looking for you." The Vice President of the Student Council, Peter Elley, called out to Yvonne with 2 shadows trailing him.
"A visitor? At this time of the month? Who is it?" Yvonne was perplexed. Since school has yet to begin, she couldn't imagine who would be looking for her.
"I'm not sure... But they said they knew you..." Peter ushered two small individuals inside the office.
A 10 year old boy with blonde hair as bright as the sun, and blue eyes, identical to Yvonne's, said, "Greetings, fair maiden."
The person accompanying him on the other hand, was a 10 year old girl with black hair as dark as midnight, with similar blue eyes. She executed a simple curtsey, but did not utter a word.
Their blue eyes were not the common blue. Their eyes were blue like the deep ocean. Their eyes were blue like the sky right before the sun disappears — dark rich indigo, with specks of wild colours here and there; that kind of blue.
"Adrian, Aibelle, what are you guys doing here?" When Yvonne saw the two children, her eyes grew wide with surprise.
"President?" Peter, who was watching from the side-lines, looked at Yvonne with questioning eyes.
"Ah, Vice President Peter Elley, allow me to present, my brother and sister, Adrian and Aibelle Merrick."
"It's a pleasant to meet you, good Sir." Adrian extended his hand out to Peter for a handshake.
Aibelle on the other hand, performed another one of her curtsey.
"Nice to meet you..." Peter gave Yvonne a dumbfounded look while he shook hands with Adrian.
Yvonne knew the cause of Peter's confusion and asked the culprit, "Adrian, from whom did you learn how to speak in such manner? You need to stop it. It's annoying."
Adrian pouted, "But Uncle Mars always speaks that way..."
"You picked a bad example, so stop speaking that way, understood?" Although Yvonne told him to stop, she found her brother's imitation of her uncle's shenanigan quite amusing.
"As you wish, sister." Adrian executed an exaggerated bow.
Yvonne laughed, "Adrian! Stop it. Now tell me, what are you both doing here in school?"
"Mother, Father. Here. We, pick up sister." Aibelle explained in a slow and quiet manner.
"Mother and Father are here?" Yvonne looked at her sister and asked gently. Aibelle has always been afraid of almost everyone but her twin brother, so she didn't want to scare her.
Aibelle simply nodded.
"Mother and Father are here to disgust an important manner with the pen-pal."
"Adrian, it's Discuss, not disgust, Matter, not manner, and Principal, not pen-pal."
"You know what I mean." Adrian blushed after his sister pointed out his blunder. "Father asked for you to meet them inside the Principal's office."
Yvonne turned to Peter and said, "Vice President Elley, I'm going to see my parents. I'll leave everything here to you."
With a nod, Peter said, "Understood, President."
"Well then, come along now Adrian, Aibelle." Yvonne held both her siblings' hands and headed towards the Dean's office."
* * *
"I'm really very sorry Your Grace, but I cannot currently comply with your request."
"May we know the reason why?"
"Professor Rurik Truro, who is in charge of testing our applicants, is on leave and will not return until the day before school starts."
The Duke of Merrick creased his brows, "Is there any way we can ask him to return earlier?"
"I'm sorry but he did not leave me any contact information before he went on leave. I wasn't expecting this to happen. I'm really sorry Your Grace." The Dean explained while imaginary droplets of sweat trickled down his back.
"No, there's no need for apologies. We're the ones who came to the Academy at an improper time." The Duchess said with a smile, trying to soothe the Dean's worries. "Dean, we've asked for our daughter to come, hoping she might know a way to contact the Professor."
Not a moment sooner, there was a knock on the door.
"It's probably our twins returning with Yvonne."
"Ah, please enter."
"Greetings Father, Mother, Dean." Yvonne walked into the office and curtsied.
"Father, Mother, we brought sister."
"Oh, good job Adrian, Aibelle."
"Is there a problem Father? For you to have summoned me..." Yvonne started crumpling the sides of her skirt. She usually did not feel intimidated by her father, however, when her father talks to someone not family, he gives off a pressuring and formidable aura. Her mother once told her that her father wasn't doing it on purpose, but it ran in their family's male bloodline. They were born to rule.
"Yes, we were wondering if you know a way to contact Professor Truro." To Yvonne, these words were similar to dropping a bomb on her person.
"Is there a problem with Adrian's and Aibelle's admission to the Academy?" Yvonne asked in a panic. She knew her younger siblings were entering the Academy's Beginner course and made the appropriate living arrangement for them to live together.
"No... not the twins... but..." The Duchess stammered to explain.
"It's Rex. He has returned and wishes to enrol in the Academy's Intermediate course." The Duke said as a matter of fact.
"Re-Re-Rex?!?" Yvonne couldn't contain her surprise.
"Yes, Rex has returned."
Rex, the younger brother she longed to see. Because of a family tradition, he set out to travel and experience the world at the young age of 9; it's been 7 years since then. Although her brother never failed to write her a letter, send gifts during her birthday, the twin's birthday, and Christmas, they have never seen each other since he left home.
The Dean tapped his chin and asked, "Pardon me Your Grace, but who is he?"
"My son, my heir, Marquis Avery."
"But isn't Lord Adrian the Marquis?"
"I am not a Marquis. Brother Rex is."
"Dean, you have probably heard of the Merrick's tradition? The heir of the family must be strong in battle, must have proper education, and most of all, he must have knowledge of the world."
"Ah, yes. I've heard of the rumour."
"It's not a rumour, but a known tradition. I had similar experience when I was in my teens. I didn't set out until I was 18, but my son requested to set out early. He was only 9 then, half my age went I set out, but he had knowledge beyond his years. My wife and I were reluctant to give him permission, but in the end, his persistence won. The reason you don't know of him is because it's almost a taboo to talk about him, especially around our children. They miss him too much, and will often ask us to find him and drag him back..."
More question marks formed inside the Dean's head, "But Your Grace, if I remembered correctly, when your father was alive, your title was Marquis of Elric, and not Avery."
The Duke understood the Dean's confusion, "You are correct. However, the title Avery was something my son did not inherit from me, but his own. Before he left home, he saved His Majesty, the King, from an accident with their carriage. My wife and I were quite surprised when the King came to our land to express his gratitude. It was then when he was given the title 'Marquis of Avery'. My son was only 5, and His Majesty was riding an unmarked vehicle. My son didn't know he saved the King, so thought nothing of it."
"Mother, Father, Dean, I have managed to contact Professor Truro!" Yvonne yelled in excitement, interrupting the conversation.
"Dean, can you put him on the screen?"
"Certainly, Your Grace."
The Dean connected Yvonne's mobile phone to a large screen. Within moments, the screen started to flicker in yellow, red, blue, and green lights. Soon, Professor Truro appeared on the screen.
Professor Truro greeted the Dean, "Hello Principal Marcel, what seems to be the problem? Yvonne Merrick contacted me, but I could not understand what she was saying." Judging from the Professor's surrounding, he seems to be inside a travelling carriage.
"Hello Professor Truro, the Duke of Merrick is here with me right now with a request. If possible, we would like you to return to the Academy with due haste."
"There's no problem since I'm already on my way back, but may I ask why?"
"Professor Truro." The Duke acknowledged the Professor with a slight nod.
"Your Grace, what can I do for you?" The Professor tried to bow, but was unable to, due to the limited space in the carriage.
"I would like for you to test my son for admission to the Academy."
"I believe your son was admitted successfully..." Professor answered with a tilt of his head.
"Professor, the Dean will explain the details to you. Do you think we can make an arrangement for tomorrow?"
"It will be done, Your Grace."
"You have our thanks."
Professor Truro hung up the phone and the Dean started to make preparations for tomorrow.
"Well Dean, we'll see you again tomorrow. Thank you for your time."
"I bid you farewell, Your Grace."
The Duke, Duchess, and their three children walked out of the Dean's office with a smile. The Dean on the other hand, collapsed on the sofa he was sitting on due to the release of the overwhelming pressure. It was bad enough for him to be talking to the Duke of Merrick, but with together with the Duchess, he was almost unable to breathe.
The House of Merrick, one of the most influential families in the entire Kingdom, if not, they are most. They are famous for their battle skills and vast knowledge. Although there are some who don't agree with how the Duke does things, the people who lived in their lands were contented and enjoyed success. If the Duke were to rally Soldiers, he would have no problem recruiting at least 10,000 Soldiers in a matter of hours.
The Duchess was also a force to reckon with. When the Duchess wears something, it becomes a fashion statement. If the Duchess says blue was red, then it was red. She also invented many modern magic used today. For example, communication magic, it was used in every household throughout the Kingdom. And because of their patents, the House of Merrick overflowed in abundance of Gold, making their already full coffers, even fuller. It also gave them the funds to set up banks with high interest rate across the seven seas, making them the richest House in the Kingdom.
Although people worship the House of Merrick for the battle prowess and knowledge, they were also feared. Their bloodlines have produced the most powerful Magicians in their generations, without fail.
The Duke and Duchess of Merrick were famous Magicians, able to destroy an entire Kingdom with their abilities. Their daughter, Yvonne, was also one of the best Magician the Dean has ever seen in recent years. Their twins on the other hand, were able grasp mana way before normal children did, and because of it, they were home taught until they were old enough to enrol in the Beginner Course in the Academy.
'If their son, the heir, was powerful enough for the Duke and Duchess to agree to let him set out early... I wonder how strong he is... Ha~ If there's a word to describe the family, it would be... "Monsters".'
* * *
"Father, where is Rex right now?" Yvonne asked not a moment sooner after they had left the Dean's office.
"You really miss your brother, don't you?" The Duchess knew how much Yvonne worried for her younger brother and had always teased her for it.
Yvonne blushed, "Well, I..."
"He's in our mansion here in the Capital, resting." The Duke tapped his daughter's shoulder to ease her discomfort, "He arrived around 1 in the morning and immediately requested for us to enrol him in Sachael Magic Academy. Your mother and I rushed from Merrick all the way here. While we were packing, the twins heard us and begged to come along. We haven't asked him why he returned all of a sudden, but we're glad to finally see him."
"Ah, I miss your brother. I'm sure he grew up to be a fine and handsome man just like your Father." The Duchess looked at her husband and softly brought her palm on the Duke's face.
The Duke's facial expression softened, "Evelyn..."
"Mother... Father... Please not in public." Yvonne usually didn't mind her parents looking and talking to each other fondly, but... She was more curious of Rex.
The Duchess smiled, "Ah, sorry. We got carried away."
"Mama, is brother the person who write letters to me and send pictures?" When he wasn't around non-family members, Adrian goes back to calling his parents 'Mama' and 'Papa'.
"Why of course. He also gave you your first sword, and Aibelle's spire, for your birthday."
Aibelle clapped her hands together and brought them to her chest, "Brother. Nice person."
The Duchess stroke Aibelle's hair and said, "Of course he's a nice person, he's your brother."
The Duke, who was listening to the conversation between his wife and his daughter, turned to Yvonne and said, "Well then, Yvonne, we'll see you tomorrow."
"Children, get inside the carriage, we'll go see your brother."
"Mother, Father... May I come?"
"Hmm, I'm not sure if we'll fit in the carriage... Marcus what should we do?"
"Aibelle, can you sit on your Mama or Papa's lap so your sister can come home with us?"
Aibelle glanced at Yvonne and smiled. She looked towards her Father and nodded.
"I guess that's settled. Let's go meet your brother."
* * *
While waiting for his parents and siblings to return home, Rex was in the kitchen making lunch.
When he arrived at the mansion, it was empty, not prepared for someone to live in, and there weren't any food to eat. Since his parents were not expected to use the mansion, the servants have all returned to their own houses and closed the mansion.
A little while earlier, Rex went out to the market to purchase food ingredients. And because of his travels, he had become accustomed to cooking, and knew many dishes from all over the world.
"Hmm, hmm, hmm, hmmmm~" Rex was humming while cooking when the front door to the mansion suddenly flew open.
"REX?! Where are you?!" Yvonne started looking around for Rex the moment she stepped inside the mansion.
"Yvonne, slow down. He's not going anywhere."
"Brother Rex, where are you?"
"Brother. Gone." Aibelle said and tears started swelling up in her eyes.
"I'm here, in the kitchen!" Rex, who was unable to leave the food he was cooking alone, cried out.
Yvonne, Adrian, and Aibelle ran towards the kitchen.
Yvonne ran up to Rex and gave him a bear hug, "Rex, I missed you! You've grown so tall."
"Brother. Present. Thank you."
"Please everyone, one at a time. The soup will spill on you."
Yvonne and the kids took a step back from Rex and examined him, "You look like Father, if not for your black hair."
Rex has similar colouring to Aibelle. But instead of blue eyes, his was green like their father's. Green eyes glimmering with colour of emerald, sparkling in the light of the morning sun like a fresh sheen of morning dew.
"Oh, my baby is all grown up! I knew he would look like his Father." His Mother rushed up to him and gave him a hug. His Father on the other hand, tapped his shoulder and gave him a meaningful smile, "Welcome home, son."
"Mother, Father, I'm home."
"So Rex, what are you doing in the kitchen?" Yvonne looked at Rex, who was wearing an apron, sceptically.
"I'm making lunch. I was hungry. Is anyone else hungry?"
"Since there's no one else here, Yvonne, Adrian, Aibelle, help mother set up the table."
Everyone, all except Rex and his Father, left the kitchen to set up the dining table.
"Father, I'm sorry for my prompt request. I hope I didn't trouble you with it?"
"It's not a big deal, so think nothing of it. Your brother and sisters are glad to have you back, your mother and I as well."
"I'm glad to be back."
"As for your request, you'll have to take an admission exam with Professor Truro at 9am tomorrow. Good luck." His father gave him a quick hug and tapped his shoulder again.
"If you men are done with your talk, help us carry the dishes in."
After everyone finished setting up the table, they all sat down around the table. Their parents disregarded formal seating arrangement, with their Mother sitting right beside their Father.
After saying grace, their Father said, "Well then, let us all partake Rex's cooking."
"Oh, Rex my dear, this is delicious. You should cook again sometime." His mother had nothing but praises for the food Rex cooked, however... "What's wrong with everyone?"
"Rex, what... are... these...?" Yvonne managed to get her words out without emptying her stomach.
"Braised Balsamic Chicken, Beef Braciole, Ham and Potato Soup, and Guacamole." Rex announced proudly.
"Brother. Yucky." Aibelle dropped her spoon and started covering her mouth.
"Bro... ther... It taste... *uuek* Good..." Since his brother had just returned, Adrian didn't want to offend him by telling him the truth.
The moment they finished praising Rex, the twins ran to the nearest lavatory, and started the process of releasing the food they just ate.
"Father?" Rex gave his father a questioning glance.
The Duke, who was trying his best not to follow the twins, had turned green, almost as green as his eyes. The only thing keeping him glued to his seat was his willpower, "Rex... What did you put inside these dishes?"
"Nothing irregular...? What's wrong?" Rex answered stoically
The Duchess mirrored Rex's expression, "Yes, Marcus, what's wrong?"
"Rex, perhaps you should try it."
Rex took a spoonful of Ham and Potato Soup and said, "MMmm, yummy."
"It is good. Rex, you should teach Cook how to make it."
"Mother... Rex... This is delicious?" Yvonne said in disbelief.
"Yvonne, save it. You know your mother always had the weirdest taste in food. I didn't think Rex would turn out to be same."
And that's how the Merrick's family lunch reunion went. And for the record, Rex was given the same ban as his mother. He was not permitted to enter the kitchen, not that it'll stop him anyway.
* * *
"Well then, now that we're all full. I have souvenirs to give out."
The moment Rex mentioned anything related to food, his family members, except his mother, would sport a crestfallen expression.
"First, this is for Father. Father, this is a book compiling all kinds of armour designs to suit the weather, the person, and enhances their skills. There are also manuscripts of armours made with magic inscription. I thought you'd find it useful. And for Mother, here's the book you've always wanted — 'Impossible to Create with Magic'. There are only 2 copies of this book in the world, so it took me a while to find it."
"Wahhh, thank you my son! I've been looking for this book for over 10 years! How ever did you manage to obtain it?" Although his Mother asked him a question, she had no intention of hearing his reply. She was already too engrossed in reading the book.
"I appreciate the manuscript. I'm sure it'll be a great help to the Soldiers."
"Now for my lovable twin siblings..."
"No, me first, PLEASE?!"
"I'll go with Adrian first since Aibelle's present is bigger."
"YES!", Adrian yelled in excitement and stuck out his tongue. Aibelle kicked him in the shin, "OUCH!"
"Since Adrian, is now bigger and stronger, brother got you a new sword. This is unlike your old sword. This sword is a magic sword, and its name is 'Silverlight', a holy attributed sword."
"Magic sword?" Adrian tilted his head.
"Yes. It will amplify your magic, making you more powerful. But, do not rely too much on the sword, okay? Also, you must treat it as your friend. You have to talk to it every night."
"Rely on my own power. I understand. But why do I have to talk to it brother?"
"Because there is a legend of a Fairy living inside it. And if you become the Fairy's friend, she will teach you how to use the sword properly and its special skills."
Adrian jumped up and down in excitement, "Really?! Fairy?! Will I really be able to see her?"
"If the Fairy thinks of you as her friend, she will show herself. So treat her well."
"I will brother. Thank you!" Adrian ran up to Rex and gave him a hug.
"Also, wear these gloves to prevent your hands from getting hurt. Until you get used to the sword, you must always wear the gloves, understood?"
Their mother stopped reading her book, looked at the sword and expressed her concern, "Wait a minute Rex, is it really okay for Adrian to have the sword?"
Before Rex could answer, their father spoke up, "I'm sure it'll be fine Evelyn. And besides, you'll be responsible with it, right Adrian?"
"Of course, Father. Don't worry Mother, I won't hurt myself."
"Now it's Aibelle turn."
"First of all, here's what you've always wanted. A Magician's Robe. This robe will nullify most Fire and some Water magic spells."
"Pretty. Aibelle. Wear."
Rex looked at Yvonne and asked, "Sis, could you help her out?"
Yvonne got up from where she was sitting and walked up to Aibelle. She then put the robe on top of Aibelle's dress.
"And... Just like Adrian, here's a magic weapon. It's called 'Inferno, Staff of the Blazing Sun'. It's a fire attributed staff, perfect for you, and of course, it has bells." In order for Aibelle to be fond of a weapon, it had to have bells.
Whenever Aibelle moved her hand that was holding onto the staff; tinkle, pop, rustle of leaves. Sounds singing like tiny angels, a chorus of voices no louder than the buzz of a bee, giggling like notes softly struck on a glockenspiel; echoed in the room.
Aibelle was enchanted by the sound her staff made. Aibelle, who had a delighted expression, was smiling from ear to ear.
"Brother, that's not fair. Aibelle got two items..."
"You also got two, a sword and the gloves. Your gloves are also special. It amplifies Holy attributed magic."
"Brother. Thank you. Aibelle. Happy." Aibelle ran towards Rex and hugged him really tightly.
"It's the first time I've seen Aibelle hug someone."
"It's good to have Rex back. Aibelle is opening up more."
"And last but not least, to my sister, Yvonne. It was really hard to get a present for sis because she doesn't ask for anything. But actually, I got her present first."
Yvonne stared at Rex, "I asked you to come home..."
"Sorry, but back then, I couldn't. Father understood why."
Yvonne started wiping the tears forming in her eyes, "I know... I knew... but..."
"And here's my present." Rex handed her a box.
"Aren't you going to tell me what it is? You told everyone else..."
Rex blushed, "It's embarrassing..."
'Why is he blushing?' Yvonne wondered as she opened the box. When she saw the contents of it, she was struck speechless.
"What is it Yvonne?" Their mother, out of curiosity, took a peek at the contents, "Rex, this must have been expensive."
"The necklace and ring are made out of Sapphire Diamonds, and it also amplifies Water attributed magic."
"There are many gems and stones much less expensive and this..."
"It reminds me of... everyone's eyes. Dad's features are similar to mine, so it almost seem like I see him all the time, but as for everyone else... I just had to get this one. It kept me from being lonely. It was why I got it first."
"There's two rings here... One is green?"
"The green one is yours, the blue one is mine. I had communication magic installed on it, so you can talk to me anytime..."
"Rex... Thank you." Yvonne, with tears strolling down her face, hugged her brother for a really long time.
* * *
From the Author
Hello everyone, AnmesicCat here. I'm sure everyone was surprised to see this new story of mine. I've actually been contemplating on releasing these to the public for a couple of weeks now. However, I didn't have the time then.
When I was brainstorming the concept of the story, I came upon numerous brick walls, especially the placement of the towns and villages in the Kingdom. In the end, I submitted myself into creating my very own map of where the story takes place.
I do hope every reader will enjoy the product of my struggle; both the maps and the story.
* * *