It finally hit me in the evening why that bothersome ceremony might have marked me as different. Obviously— the whole reincarnation situation. How Father could have known my soul lived a life before from a simple glance made no sense. He treated me the same as well, which you think wouldn’t be the case if he knew I wasn’t a mere four-month-old. Still, what else could the answer be? I feared an unknown reason, and I ignored that I clearly lacked true knowledge about the powers on Evthea. At least, whatever the case, Father was on my side.
A month and a half passed. All in all, my siblings and I thrived. It bothered me. We’d come premature. Four of us in the womb at once reduced our size further. Why then had we grown to match the development of a child born at the proper time? Heather, Theo, and Lucian even suddenly popped out babblings of ‘Mama’ to Mother’s teary delight. I’d had no choice but to force out my first word too. ‘Papa’ was mine as Father had grown disheartened with Mother getting all the honor for herself.
“Go, Cedric!” Aunt Stella cheered.
Tea today on this first day of Tephias, roughly September, consisted of Great-Grandfather, Great-Grandmother, Grandmother Sidhana, Mother, and Aunt Stella sitting around the shaded, frosted glass table in the front garden sipping on drinks and munching on delectable treats while watching Grandfather Leomer, Father, and Uncle Cedric spar in the nearby stone clearing. The clashing of their practice swords played an off-beat melody as their chaotic dance spiraling around each other kept my siblings and I entertained. We sat on a blanket propped up with pillows. Lucian showed signs of trying to sit on his own, but none of us were there yet.
“I’m surprised you did not want to join them.” Great-Grandfather spoke, biting into an almond biscuit.
“It’s far too hot today. You naturally don’t know it, but summers here are miserable for those not from Solstice,” Aunt Stella shook her head.
“So it’s been said,” Great-Grandfather chuckled.
Now that they mentioned it, I realized I’d never felt hot. Only comfortably warm. Judging from the fact that the sun blazed vigorously and the important summer festival was in a week, Solstice seemed similar to southern California in terms of climate. Did my lack of discomfort and only Aunt Stella drinking chilled tea mean Solstice citizens were accustomed to the heat having grown up here, or was it that magic coming into play?
“You know, Reni,” Aunt Stella turned to Mother. “Now that you don’t have a large stomach hindering your movements, you should let me teach you how to swordfight.”
“Oh no no. I...I, uh, it’s nerve-wracking for me to hold anything larger than a steak knife. I grow pale, shake, and become nauseous,” Mother flustered.
“No larger than a steak knife? I suppose we could start with a small dagger.”
“That’s not what I meant...” Mother smiled weakly.
“I know. I’m merely jesting. How about hand-to-hand combat then?”
“I’m not keen on the thought.”
“It is always good to know how to defend oneself.”
“The guards are here to defend me.”
“Should the guards fail? What then?”
“I’m knowledgeable about the consequences, Stella,” Mother answered tartly.
Stiffness soured the air, but Aunt Stella recovered quickly. “Of course. I wasn’t thinking in that manner, and I apologize.”
“It’s fine. I know you and your Montane pride merely wish to share your impressive knowledge,” Mother bantered, helping to return the cheery atmosphere.
“Should I have been so inclined to join the spar—”
“All three of them would be at your feet?” Grandmother Sidhana joined in merrily.
“They’d struggle, that’s for sure.” Aunt Stella flicked her hair over her shoulder.
“You don’t do well with the heat. I wouldn’t do well with every Montane royal needing to be a one-person army,” Mother noted.
“Not every royal needs to be so skilled. I merely have two older brothers who hardly waited until I was walking to exclude me from their nonsense.” Aunt Stella placed a hand upon Mother’s shoulder. “At the very least, you’d be an honored mother. They say twins are blessed and triplets will be revered for eternity. You, however, had four.”
“I only wanted two,” Mother laughed. “Although, I naturally wouldn’t change a thing.”
A billowing roar halted the conversation. My little legs kicking for exercise froze in seeing my father, uncle, and grandfather consumed by a thrashing inferno.
“I didn’t join because I also had a feeling with Eagan and Cedric being cooped up recently they wouldn’t want to hold back.” Aunt Stella shook her head.
O...kay. So, magic was definitely at work with the heat resistance. Grandfather stepped out of the constant ball of blaze, unharmed, without a single singe on his clothes. The only irritation he faced was his children’s actions. He folded his arms and shook his head at Father and Uncle Cedric continuing their fight. The sound of metal rang without ceasing where the flames flickered quickly enough for me to catch glimpse of an arm or shoulder.
“And here I thought we’d have a productive fight. The flames would come eventually, I knew, but the two are being ridiculous,” Grandfather spoke wryly when he joined the others at the table.
“Children will be children,” Great-Grandfather chortled.
Despite the now enflamed engagement raging, the adults eventually turned their conversation to other matters. I, however, watched, enthralled. Did I have magic too? Could I breathe fire like a dragon? I tried. All I did was burp loud enough to make Heather giggle.