The Archives of the Heroes: Series One - Foundation.

This is the story of two brothers growing up in our Universe. They manage to find themselves all kinds of trouble and adventures while travelling from galaxy to galaxy with their father.
Or, in some cases, by themselves.

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7. Episode Six: The boys' punishment has a plus-side.

 

Jaliq did not have any trouble finding some-one who needed help around the home. All he had to do was enquire at work, and he was immediately put into contact with an older lady who had broken her leg quite recently. When he asked how she had managed to do so, he was told simply that she had fallen down the stairs to her apartment.

The next Saturday rolled around quickly, and soon Jaliq was leading his boys up the three flights of stairs to the lady's house. Neither of the boys were looking forward to the day. In fact, both were dreading it. They seemed to get the idea now that they really should have listened to their father.

Jaliq knocked on the door and took a step away, being careful not to fall over the small bannister and down the many stairs. Strongh and Liart tried to hide on either side of him, but when the door opened he pushed them in front.

'Good morning, Mrs. Jure!' Jaliq greeted the woman, smiling his friendliest smile. 'How are you this morning?'

The older woman - about seventy or so - smiled back at him so brightly that even the boys felt obliged to smile a little. 'Very well thank you, Jaliq! How are you?'

'Very well, thank you, especially since I know some-one will be keeping an eye out for my boys. Now, don't hesitate to give them work. They enjoy it very much, I know.'

The woman chuckled, and looked the boys up and down - first Strongh, then Liart.

She had curly hair, Strongh thought, that - while being rather short - suited her immensely. Surprisingly it had not yet lost all its colour, and so was still quite amazingly red. She had brown eyes that were very sparkling, and were not clouded by age at all. Her skin, too, was quite exuberant, and looked smooth and healthy. In fact, Strongh decided he liked her.

'You must be Strongh,' the woman said. Her voice sounded very melodious and sweet. 'And you must be Liart.' She added, turning to the younger. 'Such pretty names. My name is Mrs. Juliette Jure. J. J., if you prefer.'

This offer surprised everyone, especially Jaliq.

'Well,' the man said eventually, once overcoming his shock, 'I suppose I had better be going. Children, be good, all right? And work hard for Mrs. Jure.'

The two nodded, a little less afraid than they had been five minutes ago.

Jaliq seemed hesitant to leave, though neither child was sure why, and descended very slowly. It was a full two minutes until he was out of sight.

'Well!' Mrs. Jure cried, clapping her hands a little. 'Shall you come in?'

Strongh glanced at Liart who glanced at Strongh. Then, shyly, they went inside the woman's house.

It was a small apartment, but the woman had done it up very nicely. There was an open fire place (the cleanest either of the boys had ever seen), a grandfather clock, and a few very clean couches in her living room. Then, in the kitchen, the woman had carefully put everything in its place, so that it looked tidy and immaculate.

The woman showed off her shining bathroom and spotless bedroom, and all either of the boys could do was stare at the rooms in amazement.

'How do you keep it so clean?' Strongh asked. 'Your leg is broken!'

The woman shrugged, and leant a little more heavily on her left crutch. 'I only broke it a week ago. Maybe my house is still a little tidy.'

'It's immaculate!' Liart cried, being surprisingly animated.

Mrs. Jure smiled proudly. 'Why thank you.'

'So...' Strongh continued, looking up at the roof for cobwebs, which he could not find, 'what exactly are we meant to do?'

The woman chuckled. 'Well, now, I know that the house looks clean. But if you leave it, it will soon be dirty. So if you clean it now while it still looks presentable, it will stay that way. So Strongh, there is a vacuum in the cupboard over there. Liart, there is a long duster next to it. Why don't you start there? Oh, and have you had breakfast?'

Strongh frowned, and replied brashly. 'Of course. Father always feeds us.'

'Of course he does, dear.' Mrs. Jure replied, not looking the least bit offended. 'But I thought maybe his children did not always listen to him.' She eyed Strongh sternly, and he coloured quite red. Liart smiled at this, impressed by how clever the lady seemed to be.

'If you need me, I'll be in the lounge room.' She spoke again, hobbling off with her crutches. 'Tell me when you're finished, and I'll give you some more jobs.'

She did not travel very far, only around the corner, but the boys felt alone. They liked it better this way, for being in a stranger's house was quite uncomfortable. They stood very still for about a minute before Strongh suddenly pulled upon the cupboard door.

'There's the duster.' He pointed out the obvious, and Liart awkwardly grabbed the thing. 'And I suppose that's the vacuum.' He added, dragging it out. It was a rather heavy vacuum.

The boys worked quickly, though they were very thorough. Mrs. Jure seemed to understand that she was a punishment though, and did not let them rest for even a moment after they had finished.

'Are you thirsty?' Was all she asked before handing out more jobs. Strongh sighed when she did. If he had of known she was going to do that he would have said yes.

Strongh was given the job of cleaning the kitchen. He had to wipe every surface until it shone ridiculously, and washed the few dishes that they woman had lying in her sink. Then he had to take out the rubbish, from the house as a whole, though there was not much of that either. After these chores, Mrs. Jure taught him how to wash windows - including the outside - from inside the house. He picked it up far too easily, and so cleaned every window in the house.

Liart arguably had the more difficult jobs. After dusting he had to search the outside premises for flowers, which he then had to arrange into a pitiful bouquet and place on the mantel piece. He did all right at that, he thought, and Mrs. Jure said so too, and so she asked him to arrange each room. With the exception of the kitchen, Liart went around the house putting various items away and straightening crooked pictures. It was an awkward task, as he had to ask the lady what to do numerous times. It did not take long, however, and soon he was cleaning her bathroom. The bathroom was probably the biggest room in her apartment, with a bath, shower, toilet, and washing machine. As an afterthought, Mrs. Jure taught Liart how to put on the washing, and so he did that too.

While the boys had always been given chores, they had never had to work so hard in their entire life. Jaliq had always hired a cleaner, who did the work on a weekly basis. Strongh was dismayed when he realised Jaliq would probably discharge the cleaner now that he knew his sons could do such a good job. Still, he supposed that was all right. Jaliq worked so hard anyway... it would probably do him and Liart good to work hard too.

When lunch time came, the boys made the meal together, and Mrs. Jure taught them both how to make a perfect cup of tea. She put in ridiculous amounts of cream, milk, and sugar, and informed the boys never to have it more than once a week. Then she told them she had tea once a day at least, though she usually skipped the cream and halved the sugar. This made the boys chuckle, and the woman's eyes shone. Even though she was meant to be their slave-driver, the three were getting along splendidly.

The woman had a television - something the children did not have. They were always busy with their lessons, aside from Saturdays and Sundays (which they spent with Jaliq). Mrs. Jure briefly demonstrated to the boys how it worked, and then turned their attention to a small contraption.

She called it an I-pod, and said it came straight from earth. Then she asked them if they had a favourite song. The boys’ reactions were surprising to her, as well as distressing.

'You mean music?' Liart asked.

'I don't know any songs.' Strongh added.

Mrs. Jure was horrified. 'No music!? Why, how can you survive, poor things!? Here, let me play you some songs.'

She played music for the rest of the day - all types of music. Some of the music was from earth, and she referred to it as 'classical' music. Some of the music from earth had words and sounded like a screeching cat - she called this opera. Other Earth songs had words and she called them 'pop' songs, which were really quite similar to songs from other planets in the Scatorian universe.

Strongh liked this music very much, and became surprisingly keen to learn how to make it. Liart, too, was intrigued by the beautiful sounds, and sat quietly, motionlessly, in his seat the whole time, listening carefully to each sound.

Mrs. Jure taught them a song that day, and was pleased at how well the boys sung.

'You're naturals!' She cried delightedly. 'What a shame your father has not taught you before now!'

When Jaliq arrived at four to pick them up, Mrs. Jure had finally located her guitar, and was teaching Strongh a few chords. Jaliq's reaction when he saw this was quite surprising.

'What are you doing?' He asked, turning quite pale.

'Mrs. Jure is teaching me the guitar!' Strongh cried happily.

'And she taught us how to sing!' Liart added.

Jaliq's eyes quickly darted to Mrs. Jure's. 'Were they helpful? They haven't caused any trouble, have they?'

'Oh no!' The woman replied, looking bright and relaxed. 'They've been so good and helpful all day! But then, when I offered to play them some music, they told me they did not know any songs. So I've been teaching them how to make music.'

Jaliq frowned. 'Your tutors haven't taught you about music?' He asked, seeming genuinely surprised.

'No.' Liart replied. 'Were they meant to?'

Jaliq sighed. 'I thought so, but perhaps I forgot to tell them. Anyway, we must leave now. Mrs. Jure, thank you very much for having them. Are you all right to have them next week?'

'Oh, yes, dear, and I look forward to it!' The woman smiled brightly - one of those smiles that could not be ignored - and Jaliq found he smiled right back at her. His two boys smiled too, after carefully putting the guitar back where it had come from.

'Thank you very much for having us.' Strongh said, shocking his father. 'And for letting us help you.'

Mrs. Jure hugged the boy carefully, and kissed him on the cheek. 'That's all right with me!' She cried. 'You can help any time you like!' She waved Liart over, and hugged and kissed the more timid boy just as she had his more outgoing brother. Then, after a loud goodbye, the two had followed their father out the door.

 

Strongh had been right. After that day, Jaliq did not pay for servants to clean the house: he allocated jobs to his children. Neither boy minded this too much, however, as they both clearly recognised that their father worked incredibly hard all the time.

They were taught music now, and had taken to it strongly. Strongh had momentarily forgotten about sword-fighting and war, and poured all his efforts into learning how to read music, write music, sing music, and play music. He enjoyed making a racket with the drums, and was actually quite good at them. But he liked guitar best of all, as piano was difficult, and violins were squeaky. He did not wish to play classical music, but music with words - and not opera. And so the guitar really was the best choice for him.

Liart picked up the guitar far too easily, and turned his attention to the more difficult instruments: piano and violin. Once he understood how the violin worked, his tutor allowed him to try the viola and the cello, though he did not take to either. The violin was versatile, he thought, and could sound cheerful or despondent. He liked the piano for the same reason, and thoroughly enjoyed the way it could go from being incredibly soft to ridiculously loud. Unlike Strongh, he was very interested in classical music, and so did not find music theory and music history as dull as his brother did.

The boys had been playing together one day - Strongh on the guitar and Liart on the piano - when their father had walked in, looking a little scared. He often looked that way when he saw them playing music, and neither boy had been able to work out why.

Liart stopped playing the piano and turned around slowly. 'Can you play an instrument, father?'

Jaliq smiled timidly. 'I can sing. But aside from that...' he hesitated, and the children expected him to say no. But he surprised them by saying, 'I can play piano. And the bassoon. A little guitar'

Liart was impressed. 'Do you still have your bassoon?'

Jaliq shook his head sadly. 'My family took it when they left me. They took the piano too...' his voice trailed off, and Liart looked away uncomfortably. Strongh was not phased though.

'Would you play the piano now?' He asked, his eyes shining.

Jaliq laughed, and shook his head. 'I haven't played for ages! But I'll get my guitar - they didn't take that.'

His eyes were shining now, and when he returned he looked as if he were about to burst out of his skin. He sat down next to Strongh, and began playing.

Both boys gasped immediately.

'A little guitar!?' Strongh cried. 'That's an impressive classical piece, if you ask me!'

Jaliq smiled proudly, and continued to develop the piece. He began changing notes, chucking in unexpected ones, until the classical work suddenly changed into a modern song. The boys were excited and impressed.

'Gee, you're an expert at this!' Strongh cried, echoing Liart's thoughts perfectly. Jaliq only smiled, and began to sing.

Even Strongh stopped to listen when Jaliq sung. He had a beautiful voice - a perfect, flawless, smooth voice - that resonated when he sung deeper notes and quivered when he sung higher ones. Both boys sat listening to him, spellbound.

As Jaliq continued playing and singing, he seemed to sadden. Slowly, the atmosphere in the room changed, until his children no longer felt happy and fascinated, but sad and embarrassed. But Jaliq was a good father, and picked up on this immediately. In a flash, he jumped onto the piano stool and began playing a ridiculously complex and overly happy fugue by Scarlatti. This eventually turned into a rag time by Joplin, which made his sons laugh.

Jaliq finished his piece with a loud crash of the piano, that was somehow not dissonant, and the children clapped.

'You're wonderful!' Liart cried. 'Really brilliant!'

'I agree!' Strongh cried. 'You're the best musician ever!'

Jaliq only laughed and messed up the boy's hair. 'Well I won't be for long. You two are sure to over-take me in no time.'

The two smiled proudly and copied their father by messing up his hair.

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