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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17. Episode Three: Mrs. Brow's version of Jaliq's life.

 

'Now, first things first, I have a very strict privacy policy. That is, whatever you hear here stays here. You cannot tell anyone where you got your information from, though I believe people work it out almost instantly. Two, is sort of a disclaimer. You may not take anything I say literally, as I do have a bad habit of occasionally exaggerating, though for the most part I am perfectly reliable. And three: you must not interrupt me when I am speaking. It's extremely bothersome, and it ruins my monologue. You are only allowed to interrupt if you have something valuable to add, such as a missing link.'

The boys nodded. They doubted they would have such a thing.

The woman took a deep breath and got started at once.

'It all started back when your father was in university, and quite young. Well, I suppose you boys would consider him to be old, but he was eighteen, and really, that is hardly old at all by the time you get to my age. He was studying to be an administrative doctor, of course, and was an entire year through the course when suddenly, there was a new student. This new student caused a fuss at once, not because she was dark (as was originally supposed) but because it was quickly found out that she was from the planet Eh! She had immigrated her with her entire immediate family and some good friends of theirs, and together they were like some kind of cult. No-one wanted to associate with them. But, of course, uni students being young, they insisted on being rebellious and spoke to her anyway.

'A whole year passed until it seemed almost like Rose, at least, had been accepted into the community. She had worked hard to get even that far, and what with her sweet smile, melodious voice, and gorgeous face she was most successful. It wasn't long before it was no longer rebellious to speak to her, in fact, it was a custom. To not speak to her was to not speak to your neighbour – it was cruelty!

'I do not want you to suppose for even a minute that your father was so easily persuaded by gossip and had not spoken to her for all this time. No, he had been quite kind and hospitable to all her family, and had helped them in many ways, almost becoming apart of their family himself, but he had never met Rose. Their time-table at uni did not coincide, and he spent his free hours either with his family or hers. But now – after a year of hearing her name – he finally managed to meet her.

'I cannot give you any particulars on their meeting or acquaintance, but I can tell you that – through out the entire time Jaliq had been mixing with her family – his rich, wealthy family had never batted an eyelid. But now that he became friends with Rose, they were in hot opposition against them. They did not like them for being from Eh, and wished to see them either left in isolation, or journeying back to whence they'd come. But I suppose Jaliq did not ever really expect them to truly mean this; indeed, I did not myself.

'And finally we come to the crux of the story – the most crucial part, my friend. But I begin to wonder if your tutor looks suspicious. Perhaps I have gone on too long. Quick, say something.'

Strongh went quite blank.

Liart spoke confusedly, in Zraiatormmaein. 'I haven't the slightest idea what you're saying. Are you speaking of Australia?'

'America, child, America! Listen again, I'll speak more distinctly.'

Ahkah smiled, and the woman eased.

'Anyway,' she said, continuing in English, 'everything became quite a complicated mess, though it shouldn't have been. It was a simple matter really – Jaliq wished to marry Rose, and Rose expressed a perfect happiness with the idea. It has been said that she loved him as much as he loved her, but others say he loved her while she did not love him, though others still will argue she loved him and he did not return her love, though most agree their love was mutual, extending from him to her, and back to him again, in one sort of continual circle of love.'

The boys blinked. Liart began to wonder if he really did know what the woman was talking about.

'Her family was very angry when they heard this, and he was thrown out of the house before the night was over. This was a most unusual matter, as he had specifically asked her father if he could do such a thing, and he was told he might, but  - then again- the man was always most fickle. But the two were very determined, and it looked for a while that they could fix things up, when Jaliq was called away on his first job. He was twenty by now, you must understand. This silly game of persuasion was still going on, as his family was not happy with the idea either.

'Well, anyway, that trip pretty much sealed his fate. He was gone for a week and came home with you, Strongh, around two years of age, and a new-born Liart. What was any-one to make of it? He would not say he had adopted you, and he would not say he had been married. Everything fell to pieces at once. His family blamed everything on Rose and said they would cut him off unless he ridded of you, which he refused to do, and her family threw a fit and – while they let him enter the house – abused him and bashed him when he came. But, perhaps most pivotal in this part of the story, even Rose rejected him in the end.

'We had all seen it coming – the pressure from her family was far too great – but perhaps – had he have better explained you and Liart – they might have married anyway. She said he told her a most admirable story, but she could  not believe it, and she would not repeat it either, which was a pity, for it leaves an axiomatic hole in my tale.'

Strongh blinked at the massive word, and Liart quickly whispered to him the single word 'obvious'.

'And so,' Mrs. Brow concluded her tragic tale of woe, 'she ran out of his house while he called after her, screaming her name. He ran after her too, though he had the door rudely shut in his face when he reached her house. She made him promise never to see him again, and – being a man of honour – he did not (though I believe they ran into each other by accident at the travel centre). And she never went to see him. She did not even apologise for her harsh words, for every one knows they had a bitter argument before she left.'

The woman gasped for air, and the boys sat perfectly still, completely motionless.

'Things seem to make sense now.' Liart muttered, in a melancholy daze. 'Or, at least, a little more sense. We still don't know a thing more about our mother, though.'

'Hmm.' Mrs. Brow replied. 'You know, Miss Eye is a qualified doctor. And I believe she may soon be an Administrative-Doctoral- Assistant.'

Strongh's face paled. 'Surely that wasn't her idea?'

'No, of course not. But I assure you, it was some-one's idea of a joke.'

Liart did not hear a word. He only knew that it was time to go.

'Thank you very much, Mrs. Brow.' He prompted his brother, standing up and being careful to speak in Zraiatormmaein. 'I think I know a little more English now. Perhaps we shall visit again soon.'

The woman nodded, said something about them being welcome any time, and escorted the three out of the house. But Liart could tell she understood that they would never come to visit her again, unless they had something in particular to find out.

And she didn't seem to mind, either.

 

Jaliq came home looking far paler than he had yesterday. And, unlike before, he did not try to cover up his shock at all. He dropped his brief case and made his way straight to his bedroom. Liart followed from a distance.

The man slammed the door, and Liart waited a few moments before leaning against it and asking, 'will you tell me what's wrong?'

He knew all too well what was going to be wrong.

'This has nothing to do with you, Liart.' Came his father's reply.

He supposed that was true, but he did not like hearing it.

'Is it about work?' Strongh cried, coming closer as he spoke.

Liart's eyes flashed, and he glared at his equal-height elder.

'Boys!' Ahkah scolded from the kitchen. 'Come back and leave your father alone!'

'Listen to your tutor.' Jaliq replied.

Liart was already back in the kitchen, but Strongh would not relent.

'Word on the street is, you got an assistant.'

There was a terrible pause. Then, suddenly, the door was flung open, and Strongh met Jaliq's burning glare.

'Who told you that?'

Strongh gulped. 'We just heard it. You know – the butcher's and all. It wasn't considered personal.'

There was a knock at the front door, and Jaliq momentarily put his anger aside to answer it. What he found was horrifying.

There were about fifteen women, some older than others, with baskets of food and other presents.

'We thought you might need some help.' One said.

A few passed down scraps of paper with their phone-numbers on.

Then they left as suddenly as they had come.

Jaliq stood staring at all they'd left in absolute shock. Then, suddenly, something within him snapped.

'Strongh! Liart!' He screamed. Slamming the door he burst into the kitchen, where the boys turned sheepishly to their father and Ahkah looked nervous.

'You went to Mrs. Brow's, didn't you!?'

Strongh nodded before Liart even had a chance to deny it.

Ahkah was definitely scared now. 'Is that a bad thing? I was with them the whole time. They practised English.'

Liart sighed.

'Practised?' Jaliq repeated. 'They're fluent in English!'

Ahkah looked horrified by this, and turned to his charges angrily. 'You lied to me? Looked in my eyes and lied to my face?!'

Strongh nodded bluntly, whereas Liart at least looked ashamed.

'Did you see that?!' Jaliq continued screaming. 'Just like I said would happen! Well, you may as well bring those things inside – we don't need to offend every-one by leaving them there.'

The boys rushed to do so, and Ahkah took the opportunity to speak to his employer.

'Sir, I'm so sorry. I honestly didn't know...'

'Don't worry, I understand. See what a predicament I'm in? I honestly don't know what to do with them! I could watch them all day and they'd still end up in trouble!'

Ahkah hesitated. 'Perhaps...' he began to suggest. '… you might find out why they insist on getting into trouble.'

Jaliq sighed. 'But I know why. They want to know everything!'

'About you. About them.'

Yes, that was true. But Jaliq did not want that to happen at all. He had too much to hide. Especially that prophecy...

'I can't let that happen.'

'Well you have to tell them something, sir, or else this will never end. And as they grow older, they can get into more and more trouble.'

'I know!'

'And you'll be travelling again soon, won't you?'

'Yes. I'll have to take them with me by myself.'

'Not if you have an assistant as Strongh seems to think.'

'I can't ask a medical professional to look after the kids!'

'No, I suppose not. Well, I guess it's your problem, not mine. You've heard my suggestion. Apart from that, I don't know what else you could possibly do with them.'

Ahkah raised his eyebrows and left the house to go home.

 

Dinner was strange.

'I wish we didn't have to eat this weird food.' Strongh muttered, and Liart nudged him.

'You wouldn't have to if you had of listened to me.'

Three days had passed since the boys had visited Mrs. Brow, and their only punishment so far had been having to eat the weird food they had been given. Perhaps the worst part of it all was that there seemed to be a constant supply of gifts and phone numbers: it was obviously not a once-off thing.

'At least you'll never have to cook again!' Jaliq said brightly, dryly, sarcastically, mocking his sons.

Liart rolled his eyes in such a way that Jaliq would not notice and ate the strange food in silence.

There was a long pause before their father finally said, 'I have to travel again soon.'

Neither of his sons replied.

'And I suppose I have to take you with me.'

This sounded very bitter. Even Strongh could pick up on that.

'I suppose you wish you had of got rid of us when you could.' He muttered under his breath.

Jaliq rolled his eyes. 'No, Strongh. But you really do make it hard for me to enjoy having you around.'

The boy blinked, feeling a sense of the rejection Liart had often felt (however minute either may have been).

'Do you even want us around?' He asked. 'Why did you even bother keeping us? It doesn't sound like you even loved our mother.'

'That's not true, Strongh.'

'Which one?'

'Strongh, I will not play silly games like these with you.'

'They're not silly!'

Liart felt the urge to change the topic and asked, 'where will we be going?'

'I don't know yet.'

There was silence.

'Actually, we won't be alone.'

Liart looked up.

'I have to have an assistant.' Jaliq's eyes met Liart's. 'The gossip was right.' He played with his food – he hadn't eaten anything. 'It must have been some-one's idea of a joke, though. Neither of us are happy with it.'

'Why?' Liart asked. 'Who's your assistant?'

A long pause.

'Rose Eye.'

Finally, he ate an asparagus, wincing as he did.

There was another long pause before Strongh asked, 'what's the deal with you two?'

Jaliq shook his head. 'We had an argument.'

Suddenly both boys were on the edge of their seats. Was he finally going to tell them something?

'I don't know what Mrs. Brow told you, but it was... shameful.'

'She made it sound like you hadn't done anything wrong.' Liart offered.

'I was an idiot. I should have listened to my parents.'

'And got rid of us?' Strongh put in unhelpfully.

Jaliq sighed, but he did not reply.

After another long pause, Liart plucked up the courage to speak again.

'So she'll be travelling with us?'

'Sort of.'

Liart waited for more, but nothing came. He sighed and dismissed himself from the table.

 

Everything was more or less packed, and Strongh sat out the front of the house admiring the bustling city. He was going to miss his home-town. For no matter how many places he visited, he knew he'd always consider Zraiatormma – more specifically this very house – his home.

'Happy 13th.'

Strongh had only heard that twice today. Once from Liart at about 4 in the morning, and he'd yelled at him to shut up. It had taken him about ten minutes to persuade the nine year old to go back to sleep before he did, though he woke him up two hours later to give him his present. It was a pretty pathetic gift really, a stupid sock-dog, made from a sock Strongh had been trying to throw out. But Liart had seemed proud of it, and so Strongh had kept it by him all day – even now.

The only other person to say happy birthday to him had been Jaliq, but it had been so half-heartedly that Strongh figured it didn't count.

'Thank you.' He replied, turning towards the voice. Then, instantly, his face fell.

'Now, now, don't look so dismayed. Allow an old stalker to give a boy a gift.' And so saying the man held out a long, brown paper bag.

Strongh eyed the man and the gift warily.

'Don't worry.' He pressed. 'It's not even from me. Your father asked me to give it to you, as he's busy, and he wasn't entirely sure whether he'd be able to find you. Still, he thought it would be better this way.'

Strongh frowned. 'My father knows where I am.'

'He does now. But you're quite hard to keep track of.'

Strongh supposed that was true. And so, warily, he took the bag. Then, even more warily, he looked inside. He gasped at once.

'Is this a joke?!'

'No.' The stalker replied. 'You're thirteen now. Your father thought you old enough to be responsible with such a gift.'

Strongh nearly choked. 'This is a joke.'

The man laughed. 'Go on, look at it. It's very significant. And I believe it's the last gift I have to deliver to you from your father.'

'You mean there was another one?'

He nodded. 'Your first birthday present.'

Something suddenly fit together in Strongh's mind, and a strange notion possessed him. 'Was that... a red and black ball?'

'Yes! So you still have it?'

Strongh nodded, though he was dazed. He began to inspect his newest present. 

It was a sword – long and heavy. He could lift it with a little difficulty, but expected a few years would fix that.

The hilt was strong, but had decorative pieces around it giving it the appearance of flimsy extravagance. This hilt was a golden colour.

'Is it gold?'

The man nodded. 'Pure gold. Different types too. See? That's nearly white-gold.'

Strongh nodded, and turned his attention to the part of the hilt connected to the blade. It was decorated with simple yet beautiful engravings of stems with leaves branching off. 'That's green-gold, isn't it?'

'A very pale type, yes.'

'Is that ruby?' Strongh asked, referring to the jewel in the middle of the design.

The man nodded yet again.

Now he turned his attention to the blade. It was sharp on both sides, and – though he touched it very gently – his thumb began bleeding at once. But, most fascinating of all, it was jet black, with a red line coursing down the middle on both sides.

'What's the black and the red?' He asked, correctly guessing that it wasn't paint.

'The black is an iron-obsidian compound.' The man answered promptly. 'And the red down the middle is red diamond and red copper.'

'Both?'

'Yes. It's made brilliantly, a beautiful gift.'

'But not ruby?'

'Ruby was already used. It was deemed necessary to use another source of red.'

'But there's lots of gold.'

The man rolled his eyes. 'I must be off,' and brought Strongh back to reality.

'Oh, right. Thanks for the gift... from dad. It must have been ridiculously expensive.'

The stalker nodded and then disappeared into the crowd. Jaliq appeared then.

'What on earth....?' He muttered upon seeing the sword.

'He said you gave it to me.'

Jaliq frowned. 'What?'

'He said it was from my father, like the black and red ball...'

'Woah,' Jaliq cut him off, 'what black and red ball?'

Strongh regretted saying that.

'Nothing!'

'No, you found it didn't you? That's why I couldn't find it! Strongh!'

'He said it was my first birthday present – why give it to me if you don't want me to have it!?'

Jaliq sighed. 'You wouldn't understand....'

'Did I get a special present too?' Liart asked, coming out of the house.

Jaliq sighed. 'Yes.'

This surprised Liart, and he brightly asked, 'what was it?'

'Galileo.'

'Oh! But how come you never told me?'

'Because....! Just... stop asking questions! Strongh, you may keep the sword, but avoid using it. Now come on, we have to go.'

Strongh beamed and pulled the other half of the present out of the bag. This was a beautifully polished silver sheath, intricately decorated with leaves, as on the hilt of the sword. It did not take long for Strongh to work out the the engravings were filled with ivory and – in some cases, making it look even more spectacular – black sapphires. No, they weren't diamonds. He couldn't tell, but there was a card saying so. He thought he'd keep this card, just in case he ever forgot.

Before he put the sheath around his waist, he inspected the belt. Not surprisingly it was made out of yet another metal, a straight silver-coloured brass. There were no engravings here, it was simply solid and practical. It was beautiful, all of it. Putting it on, Strongh vowed never to get rid of it.

Then he hurried to catch up with his father.

 

They walked to the travel centre to check on Rose Eye. That was probably the most awkward meeting ever, Strongh thought.

'You're ready to go?' Jaliq had asked, to which the woman had only nodded. 'And you're finding your own way?' She nodded again. 'So then I can be off?' Another nod. 'Well then, we'll meet you there.' A nod. Then they left.

 

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