Chapter 8 – Family Council III
Ashen’s Age: 2 Years Old
I told Julie, the cook, to bring the dinner at 8 o’clock, including Ashen’s meal as well. To my surprise, Julie said that her daughter would be cooking tonight’s supper, and that she was called into 7 o’clock meeting as well.
After everyone was bathed and clean, we congregated in the dining room. As Sander instructed, we would have our discussion at the dining room table, and then after our talk, we would bring Ashen in and talk with her over dinner.
Each of us pulled up a chair to the large dining table, and focused our gazes over at Sander. In turn, Sander looked at each of us in turn; Mormack, Julie, myself, and finally at Blue.
“To start with, let us go over what we know about Ashen, and the Blue Stars in general.” said Sander.
“Wait,” said Mormack, “In the first place, how do we know that Ashen is a Blue Star?”
“Um…” said Julie, “if I may ask, what is a Blue Star?”
“I will answer that question with a different question. What happens to living beings when they die?”
“Um… let’s see…” said Julie. “Their Link Core is removed, and… put into Astrania’s Tree?”
“That is a little further down the line. After all, it is not all living things to which we put their link core into the tree, but only elves, and those of good character. But there are also criminals, and magical beasts as well.”
On the word criminals, sharp gazes dug into Sander, and he paused for a moment before continuing..
“Ahem, until now that is. When someone or something dies, their Link Core remains inside their body for a short period after their death. After that period the Link Core will evaporate and will not be retrievable any longer. However, if the Link Core is removed from the body shortly before death, then the core will not evaporate and can be used for other purposes. For us elves, we will add the deceased’s core into Astrania’s Tree, which powers the great barrier and then they can live on protecting us all. For magical beasts, the core is removed to be used as magic stones to power magic tools. Because the timing of when the Link Core is highly variable, this is why parties will employ members dedicated to retrieving link cores even during fights with magical beasts.”
“What’s different about Ashen?”
“As I mentioned, normally a link core will evaporate soon after death. But the Blue Star is different. After their… host.. dies, the link core of the Blue Star will leave the body and will move to the next available host.”
“Host? What makes something a host?”
“The closest and youngest living family member.”
“You mean, like, anyone of us could?…”
“By youngest, do you mean?….”
“Well, the Blue Star will generally merge with unborn children.”
“Ah! So that’s why it….” said Blue, before stopping with a deep red blush. Sander stop blushing as well. Stupid couple.
“Ah, yeah, that is, ahem, why. Well, with Ashen, ahem, we know she is the Blue Star because we saw her get chosen.”
“Ah, yeah, that is, um… after we… um… it came flying through the window and into my.. um… tummy?” said Blue. I said stop blushing you two. Seriously.
“Well then,” Sander said, “there are some things we need to keep in mind while interacting with Ashen.”
“Keep in mind while interacting? That’s kind of cold and detached even for you, isn’t it?”
“No, no, I mean just the opposite of that. We must keep in mind that she is reincarnated. However, the question is if she remembers her past or if this is just innate knowledge. But in any case, she is still our daughter. She is still a member of this family. We should never treat her as an outsider just because she may be different than a normal child.”
“Of course she is our child. Regardless, I would feel that way. I mean, I had to carry her around for a year! Damn sure I’ll cherish her, if not just for the damn inconvenience of not being able to swing my swing-”
“We get it, Blue, we get it.”
“Now then. I think it is time, Julie, would you please bring Ashen to the table?”
Before Julie could respond, Blue chimed in. “I’ll do it”, got up and left to pick up Ashen. She returned in a minute with Ashen nestled in her arms. Somehow I feel that Blue’s demeanor has changed a bit. She seems more attached and protective of Ashen than she had previously. I wonder what triggered this change. Was it something in our conversation? Or perhaps in the bath?
“Blue, would you place Ashen in the baby chair?”
“Nupe. Not gonna happen.” said Blue, holding Ashen closer to her between her bosoms. Ooh, Ashen is blushing, something interesting is going to happen, isn’t it. What? I’m not, I am not jealous or anything. you know.
“So be it.” Sander leaned in a little bit. “Ashen, Ashen, I am your father, Sander.”
“She knows you are her father, Sander, it’s not like it is your first meeting. Then again, you don’t show your face that often, maybe she has forgotten?” said Blue, playfully.
Ignoring Blue, Sander continued. “Ashen, um… look at me. Do you understand my words?”
Ashen stared at Sander.
“Do you recognize this place, and the people around you?”
Ashen continued to stare.
“… We know that you are reincarnated. We will love you, regardless. Please, if you understand me-”
“Yes, I understand you.” said Ashen with a sound between a gasp and a sigh. When I looked around the table, with the exception of Sander and Blue, everyone wore a startled face.
“Amazing. I am glad you will be open with us. Ashen.” Sander took a deep breath and let out a relieved sigh. Tension seemed to fade from his brow while tensing his shoulders. “I am sure that there is much that you would like to know. But first, can you please tell us a bit about yourself? Do you have past memories?”
“Um…” Ashen looked around the table nervously, then finally straight up and into her mother’s eyes. She seemed to have seen reassurance there, as she then looked back at Sander with a more confident expression and continued “Yes, I do. It is just, um… yes, I do remember my past life.”
“Life? You do not remember anything before the one that came before?”
“No? Was there… no of course there would be more from before. With the circuits on the Link Core, it must have been programmed to do that. That means that mother…”
“Mother? Um… can… can you tell me the name of your mother?” said Sander. His shoulders seemed to be almost buzzing with stress. Did he sense something coming?
“My mother… My mothers name was Sara. Sara Astrania.”
I swear that I could almost hear the sound of all of the jaws dropping around the room.
“From the reaction, um… did you perhaps know my mother?”
“Well….” said Sander, “We… I…”
Blue stepped into the awkward space. “Yes, Sara was your father’s aunt.”
“She was? Well, I guess on the bright side, I have been born back into my own extended family, regardless.”
“Sara” said Sander, “Sara, do you know where she is? Is she alive? Where? But then, you…”
“My story is a bit complicated, and I have only conjecture for most of it. I died when I was in my early thirties, so I am mentally-”
“Thirties? Not even an adult before you passed?” blurted Julie.
“Huh? No, no, Thirty three is an adult. It’s almost middle age!”
“Well, I do not really know much about elves, and I am pretty sure that I was a half elf-human, and not even one from this-”
“Half human? You don’t mean that the rumors were really true about-”
“We won’t talk about that now. Let her continue.” said Sander, staring at Momarck.
“Ahem. Well. Um… In my world-”
“WHAT?!” said Sander.
“My world? In the world I grew up in, it seems that Mother was sent there accidentally. Her Link Core, um.. that is the blue thing that is inside you where magic comes from, somehow got separated from her body when that happened, and she was unable to use magic or anything. She was already pregnant with me, though and I was born over there. In that world, there is no magic, and there are only Humans, so I grew up only really thinking of myself as Human, and with no knowledge of magic or anything. I know the Elvish language because Mother and I would converse in it, cause she was bad at English. When I was in my teens, she suddenly disappeared, however.”
“She disappeared?” said Sander.
“Yes. I suspect that she was trying to fix her Link Core, and it somehow she activated the circuit that caused the transportation and she probably was sent back to this world.”
“How do you know that?”
“Well, a couple decades later, I was flying back across the country to where I grew up and I was sitting next to her old Professor-”
“Wait, flying? But you said there was no magic?”
“Yes. In that world, there is only Science and Technology.”
“Science and Technology? Like that flying thing?”
“Yes. Science is the study of the natural universe, and Technology are inventions that utilize those principles. An example of that is the aforementioned Airplane, which can fly through the sky over large distances. There are many different technologies, especially with the utilization of electricity, such as computers that can do math extremely fast, space ships that can go to the moon and back, atomic bombs that can disintegrate cities-”
“Space ships to the moon? Wait, disintegrate cities? You can’t be serious. Surely they can’t-”
“Oh yeah, completely. The early versions of them were even used to end the second world war. After that, the bombs became many, many times more powerful and no one dared to have another world war since due to fear of ending the world.”
“Ending the world… ending the world…. But… you… you can’t do that, can you? No way-”
“Create an atomic bomb? I think I can. Once the science behind it was figured out, the hard part is less in building the bomb and more being able to refine the fissile material to make them. I couldn’t make a hydrogen bomb but since I can create the materials with magic, I could probably make a bomb similar to the first ones in use. And hey, you wouldn’t even have the radiation and fall out afterward since the magical material would evaporate after detonation.”
I can literally see the gears turning inside Sanders head. I wonder if he fears he is unleashing a monster?
“Ashen. Please. Whatever you do, you must not… do not make…”
“I understand, father. I will not pursue that unless the need is dire. Though I cannot really picture what such a need would be to get that far. Trust me, I know how scary it is.”
Sander sighed as if to relieve that worry off his mind, though I could tell it was still there.
“To back track, I was flying back home to study something when I found I was sitting next to my mothers old professor. He was carrying the thing I was to be studying, as it turned out. It was the Link Core. It was found in the club room where my mother disappeared from and had been hidden until now. There were circuits carved in it, and as that was my area of expertise, I was called in. When he showed it to me, and I started examining it, I noticed an area of it that seemed incomplete. Somehow, I accidentally activated it, and it flew into my body. Then immediately after that, this girl who was behind me reached through the back of my chair, through my chest, and tried to grab it! Somehow, I don’t know how at the time, I managed to create a sword of lightning, and stabbed her through my own chest. Next thing I know, I am falling from the sky and she blows me up with a fireball. Then, I woke up covered in blood to hear my mother being congratulated on a healthy baby. Totally mind blowing experience, if I do say so.”
The room was silent.
“Um… so that is my story. Is there any?”
Blue clutched Ashen to her and began to hug her back and forth. “Oh, Ashen, it must have been horrible. Ouch, ouch, owwy. Don’t worry, I will protect you from now on.”
“I think…” said Sander, “I think that is all we need to know for now. I know you will have a lot of questions for us. For now, for the basics I will tell you this, and the rest will be taught to you during your lessons.”
“Yes, when you are twenty, you will be sent to school until you come of age.”
“That’s a long way off then, isn’t it?”
“Well, compared to Humans, Elves mature more slowly, but in turn do not fear age, and live much longer than humans do. You will see in time.”
“I wonder if it is the telomeres…”
“Anyways. To sum it up for you, you’re name is Ashen Testarossa Astrania, the first born daughter of myself, the fourth prince Sander Ryman Astrania, and my wife Blue Testarossa Astrania, in the Elven country of Astrania.”
“Wait, that means I am a princess?”
“Well, you are far down the line for inheritance, but yes, you do have a claim. Don’t let it go to your head though.”
“Won’t, won’t. Though that will be the biggest hurdle I think I’ll have to face in getting used to things over here.”
“No, being a girl.”
I have no words to retort for that.
After that, we introduced the rest of the household to Ashen, and during our meal, punctuated by Blue making swishing sounds and putting food into Ashen’s mouth, we all made small talk during the rest of the meal before turning in for bed.
The thing we didn’t touch on though was this; if Ashen grew up in a world with no magic, how was she so good at it now?