Chapter 2:

2: Three Worlds Apart

Mageborn: The Cloudwalkers

The walk back to his home was weird, awkward, and depressingly silent. Marc looked at Silva, who had the most terrifying expression with each step they take.

"I-I'm sorry if we're going slow." Marc apologized to her but she looked at him with an incredulous look.

"Your apologies are unfounded. And you are taking in consideration of my slightly weakened state. If anything, I would like to thank you." Silva reassured the young boy.

To her eyes, Marc looked like a timid fawn. Barely able to stand on his own. What she was contemplating about was his apparent talent to converse with Euclid. The Falcon Queen was a legendary beast, not anyone can hold a conversation with her. Only a handful of Druids could only understand a fraction of what she could say. Yet this boy.

"What do you do for a living?" Silva asked and Marc pondered incredibly well. It took him a solid minute before replying.

"I... uh... Read a lot, I'm also part of the drama club as part of the props men, and also... I do crafting in my spare time." Marc said earnestly and Silva took a mental note.

He does have the qualities of a druid... still, I have to confirm if he is the son of the judicator.

They reached the house by 7, and by that time, Joel Hawthorne was busy fixing the pick up truck, his chiseled body was covered by a grimy shirt and his blond hair was greased up, he looked young for someone in his mid 30's.

Then Marc suddenly remembers... He's already late! And he's flunking out of school! He knelt down in defeat as he laments his non-existent perfect record.

'Euclid, what is he doing?' Silva asked.

'He's overthinking. Give him a few minutes.' Euclid sighed.

Then Joel looked up from his view and snickered, his son... finally he was breaking off from his usual uptight self and following his footsteps, then he noticed the falcon on his shoulder, then... at the silver haired girl.

"Hi dad... I'm home." Marc said in cold sweat as his father was glaring at the girl. But he did invite them inside without a word.

The dinner table was like a chess board. Joel is like a Knight, ready to flank his opponents with witty remarks and unexpecting strikes. Silva exudes that of a queen, ready to strike down in any unexpecting angles. And Marc felt like a pawn. A cute, defenseless, feeble sacrificial pawn.

By the looks of things, they might engage in a colorful display  of cursing and petty disputes. But five minutes in, they sat down there, with the most constipated looks Marc has ever seen.

"So... How did you two meet?" Joel asked, clearly vexed by this twist of events. Silva took a large gulp of her mug full of beer and she sighed as if she was given new life.

"My mini entourage found me weak and pale by the lakeside, of course, he was courteous as to help a frail maiden in need." Silva said while Marc and Joel nearly choked from their drinks respectively.

"You found her?" Joel gave Marc a disappointing and scared look. Marc nods apprehensively.

More like she made me find her. Marc wanted to say but he held his tongue.

"Do not blame him Joel, he followed his gift, so naturally it led him to the destination." Silva said, and her eyes suddenly gleamed. "While we are on the subject, answer my question... Joel Hawthorne. Why did you suddenly drop your post as 'General' 11 years ago?"

Joel slams his mug by the table. Marc shuddered in surprise. But he didn't say a thing. His dad was a general? And a general of what?

"It seems you never told your son. How many secrets have you hidden from him?" Silva continued the offensive.

"None of your concern. And for the record, I retired. I didn't leave the order because of some petty reason." Joel said in an annoyed tone.

"A single sheet of paper of your sudden request for retirement sent out the shock of the century." Silva complained and she threw out the paper. "All your school days you were always like this!"

"And you were always uptight. Even for a dragon..." Joel pulled a mini raspberry on her and they began to argue so much that Marc's ears felt like it was bleeding.

'They are always like this young one, you will get used to it.' Euclid told Marc as if she too was getting annoyed by the banter. 

"And stop changing the subject! Why did you suddenly broke off as General Judicator? Without even leaving out a successor?" Silva fires back.

"I said in my letter that Suyin will be my successor." Joel recounted but both Euclid and Silva groaned.

"For the last time Joel, Suyin is a member of the Conservators!" Silva groaned. "She only helped you because of a favor from the previous General  Judicator."

"I see... Then make Malik the general."  Joel said nonchalantly.

"Malik hasn't graduated yet!" Silva respond in an outburst.

The banter continue on and off until Silva finally finished her huge glass of beer. And with a satisfied sigh she sits comfortably.

"I'm sure you're wondering why I'm here." She asked.

"Aside from asking my sudden resignation and barging into my doorstep, we've already covered that." Joel retorts but Silva gives a small smile.

"Actually Joel... I'm here to discuss about the pills." She said and Joel's face morphed from a smile to a more... business like expression.

"What about them?" He asked.

"As you know, the Cloud Banner Clinic has been extreme towards the consumption and distribution of the valley pills. Their doctors claimed that too much consumption will lead to addiction. As the General—"

"Former General." Joel intervenes and Silva bit her retort back. Marc was watching them like a tennis match and wasn't sure who is winning.

"Whichever, what is your take? You know the Valley Pills more than anyone." Silva regains her composure.

"The Valley Pills CAN induce addiction if consumed regularly and daily. Those pills are made from the lilies of the valley after all." Joel said.

"But why? Every aberrant who uses it cannot even make a coherent sentence if they are too far gone." Silva asked. "In just three months this year, the spread of the valley pills has already penetrated among the wights."

"Wights?" Marc asked. But his father gave him a look that says he'll explain later.

"So I have to ask... Do you know something about this?" Silva was now giving Joel a look of desperation. He sighed, knowing whatever he say, Silva will find ways to make him come back.

"Fine... Marc, have you ingested your pill?" Joel asked his son, who was startled and shakes his head. "Good, show her."

Marc fished out the pill from his pocket, and Silva's eyes widened with fear and disbelief.

"You're making your son ingest the pill?! Joel Hawthorne explain!" Silva was outraged to say the least.

"I will. But... Not until you tell me what is going to happen if I tell you." Joel negotiated. Silva's eyebrows arched.

"Dad... Can I handle this?" Marc interjects, and they both looked at him. Joel sighs and walks towards the door.

"Just shout if she tries anything funny." He told his son and he walks out.

"Can... I tell you instead of my dad? Since I am the one taking it." Marc asks permission from the dragon, hoping to appease her. Silva's expression softened a bit, but she still gave Joel a begrudging look, even while he was outside.

"See, I have a condition. Whenever I don't take a pill, my body would begin to shake violently. And that's the worst case scenario." Marc explains.

Silva takes that in, but she remained silent to hear the rest of the story.

"I usually take these monthly. Because... If I don't, then the minor symptom will arise. Which is hearing the voices of animals." Marc continues and Silva looked up.

"Why would you think it's a symptom?" Silva asked the young man.

"That's what my dad and my psychiatrist told me. I... had a little accident when I was young you see. Though the memory is hazy and jumbled." He said, and Silva gave an agitated sigh.

"Joel Hawthorne... How could you..." She said as her hands began to morph into claws and her grip was crushing the hand rests.

"A-are you okay?" Marc asked.

"I'm sorry. I lost control for a second." She said and she gets up and signals Euclid to perch on her arm. Right on cue, Joel comes back in and Silva shot him a venomous look.

"I take it your conversation is over?" Joel still had time to crack a joke, much to Silva's chagrin.

"Yes. But I will be staying here. I did use up most of my strength to conceal myself in that puddle." Silva groans and walks towards the door, but not before stopping beside Joel.

"Talk with him. You've concealed too much for far too long."  Silva whispered and Joel's face tightened.

The dragon leaves the father and son alone, after a minute of silence. Marc sighs and walks towards his dad.

"Um... Dad? It's kind of late for me, so uh... I think I might skip school today." Marc gives his dad a devilish yet sheepish grin. In which he ruffles his son's head. Making a mess of his already messy brown hair.

"Hehe... Yeah. Wanna take a ride with me?" Joel asked and to which Marc replies in an instant and enthusiastic yes.

Little did he know, that after meeting Silva, knowing his father's former position, and his mind curiously kept asking him: What on earth is an aberrant? And if he is one... What does that mean for him?