• Part 1

    Cris and Lilith were in their living room, watching Tv; they finally had the freedom to watch whatever they wanted after spending three whole months in school. They were home-schooled, partly because their parents were wealthy enough to afford it, but mainly because enrolling Lilith in a school could be catastrophic as no one knew the extent of her demonic powers. Despite being home-schooled, their parents never allowed them to watch the TV or have enough screen time while school was on. Their father was always going on about how he wanted Cris to grow up to become strong and intelligent enough to take over his company when he retired.
    “It’s so good to finally be able to watch TV so freely again. It’s been so long.” Cris said.
    “Yeah. Mum and dad are always so serious about reading and all of that. Kids aren’t supposed to read, we’re supposed to play. That’s what childhood is for.” Lilith added and giggled.
    “Childhood is meant for creating good memories, fun memories. But our memories are of the adventures of others that we read in books, the reports on businesses, and all other lame stuff. So boring!”
    “You’re the one who always gets to read business reports and do those boring stuff, not me.” Lilith mocked her brother.
    “Being the first and only son is quite a big deal. Sometimes, I wish I was in your position.”
    “Don’t you ever dream of taking my place! I’m warning you.” Lilith snapped at her brother jokingly.
    Little did they know that things were about to change for them, and not in a good way. Their mother walked in.
    “What are you guys up to?” Their mother asked.
    “Just watching TV, mom.” Lilith answered.
    “I see. You guys must be happy you’re on break now, right? Your father was so strict about your screen time when school was on.”
    “Dad was being unnecessarily strict. I don’t want to run his business when I grow up. I want to be an artist, follow my passion.”
    “Shh!” Cris’ mum quickly covered his mouth and stopped him from speaking further.
    “Cris, you know your father does not like to hear things like that. I do not want to hear a word about this anymore. Your father is doing so much to make money for this family through his businesses. Who else should run them after he’s retired if not you?”
    Lilith piped in.
    “But mum, you’re the one who is always telling us to do whatever our heart says we should do. If Cris doesn’t want to do business like dad, you should encourage him to follow his heart instead, isn’t that what good parents do?”
    Their mum turned to face Lilith, she smiled and cupped her face in her hands.
    “My dear little Lilith, you are very correct. But you see, sometimes, you don’t get to have the final say in some situations. We must agree with him when daddy says this is what he wants.”
    “But Cris doesn’t like the idea.” Lilith protested.
    “It doesn’t matter if he doesn’t like it.”
    She turns back to face Cris and puts one arm around his shoulder while she patted him gently on the head to placate him.
    “Baby, I know you don’t like it now but, I promise you, you are going to enjoy it if you give yourself a chance and keep an open mind. You’re still young, so you have more than enough time to come around and warm up to it. Besides, you do know that you can do both, right? I do not doubt that your father is not going to stop you from pursuing your dreams as an artist as long as you do what he wants.”
    Cris knew that was her mom’s way of politely telling him that he had no choice on the matter, and he knew better than to argue further.
    “If you say so, mom.”
    Their mother stood up to leave but stopped abruptly and turned back.
    “Oh yea, I just remembered what I came to tell you guys… Your father and I have decided to send you to your grandmother’s place at Hartwood. You’ve been cooped up in this house during school term and now you deserve a little vacation.”
    “What! Why Hartwood?”
    Their mom rolled her eyes playfully.
    To spend time with Granny Lulu of course. Actually, it was her idea; she called and said she misses you, so I spoke with your dad and we both decided that now is a perfect time for a vacation. Aren’t you excited?”
    “Mum, no. Please.” Cris pleaded; Hartwood was not exactly where he would like to spend his holiday.
    “Good for you, Cris.” Lilith mocked.
    “And you too, young lady.”
    “Me? No, mum.”
    “Yes, young lady. You know your grandma is the head of the inner sanctum. She’ll help you understand your powers better and learn about them. You will be leaving in two days, so I expect you to make all the necessary preparations.” Their mum announced.
    “Two days? That’s too soon, mum. Can’t you and dad give us like a week? I feel like this is torture.”
    “Don’t worry my darlings, Hartwood is the best place to spend your holiday. Trust me.” She said with a final tone as she left the living room.
    “Hartwood? Granny Lulu’s place? No TV, no internet. To make matters worse, her villa is surrounded by mazes and many strange things.” Cris whined.
    “That town is so scary. Remember when Granny Lulu told us the story of that little girl that was possessed by a demon who wanted to wipe out the entire town? It was so scary.” Lilith said.
    “Yeah, but that was only a story. It’s not true, mum even said Granny Lulu told her the same story when she was just a little girl.” Cris responded.
    “But Hartwood might not be such a bad idea this time if we keep an open mind about it. Besides, grandma used to teach a lot of people who had powers like me how to control and even increase their powers and, in the end, they always turned out good.”
    “I fail to see how that is supposed to cheer me up.” Cris said.
    “We have a trip to prepare for, don’t we? The earlier we accept that and start preparing, the better our chances of actually making the most of it and having fun. You don’t want to forget anything important.” Lilith replied.
    The siblings started packing their bags the following day and by evening, they were all set. They couldn’t afford to travel down to Hartwood unprepared. Later that night at dinner, their father asked as he
    “You’re all set for Hartwood?”
    “Yes, dad. But we don’t want to go. We have only a few weeks for the break and we’d rather spend it at home. You made us study so hard before the break, Lilith and I just want to stay here and watch cartoons like other kids.”
    “Cris!” His mother cautioned.
    “Let the boy be, he only spoke his mind.” Their father snapped, still focused on the meal in front of him. He took a sip from his drink and turned to face Cris.

    “Young man, listen carefully. As long as you live in this house, you do as I say, ok? If I say you’re going to Hartwood, that’s it! No questions asked. If I say you’re going to take over my businesses, there’s no going back on it. The earlier you understand that, the better for you. Do you hear me?”

  • “But dad—"

    “Cris, that’s enough! If you’re not hungry, go to your room now.” Their mum said. Cris knew talking to his dad would be pointless but he just wanted to try his luck with him. With disappointment, he slowly left the dining and went to his room. The following morning, they were set to leave for Hartwood.“I know you’re unhappy about this but I also know you will learn and see a lot of things in Hartwood.” Their mum said.


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