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Legends And Lore
by Rune Lai


There were three of them, all very fine children by most standards. The eldest was thoughtful, considerate, and intelligent. She studied hard and her father's colleagues thought her the most likely to carry on his work. The middle child was mischievous, though never malicious. He possessed a sunny disposition that made up for almost any transgression. The youngest child was crippled, terribly weakened by a mishap at birth, but her words spoke of maturity and insight beyond her years. Knowing them to be children of his mind as well his body, the father anointed each of them with a name of meaning, as befitting of the Drakon lineage.

Lore Drakon sparred often with her father, practicing movements with the sword as a form of exercise and self-discipline. When she first began her training the weapon had been heavy and awkward in her hands, but now she was full grown and could wield the blade with relative ease. She started her training for exercise, for fun, and in the childish hope of someday being able to be a hero. Far more than anyone else, Lore wanted to be like the heroine Alis Landale, the savior of Algo. They rarely spoke of her in school, but the Drakon clan, both alive and deceased, consisted of numerous historians, her father included. Orpheus Drakon would often tell her tales of Alis when she was little.

To be so wondrous and kind, yet so strong and able to overcome evil no matter the cost... When Lore started training, and despite her wishes, she doubted that she would ever lift her sword in actual battle, but back then there were no biomonsters. Two years ago there was some sort of disaster at the Biosystems Lab. She didn't know exactly what, but the government assured the public that Mother Brain was doing her best to take care of it. But still... two years and waiting, the biomonster epidemic was still going.

People across the planet were moving to the cities, where the biomonsters had yet to attack, but not everyone was so eager to go. The Drakon family unit consisting of Orpheus and his children, Lore, Aeon, and Myth, remained steadfast in their suburb of Nesha. The city of Kueri was within an hour's walk from the edge of the suburb, so they felt near enough to safety without having to take shelter within the city walls. During the nights though, they could hear the wolf angs howl and the tera kites shriek.

Lore had managed to graduate from Kueri University a few months earlier and had since landed a modest job as a historian for the university archives. She traveled back and forth across the uneventful stretch between Kueri and Nesha, scarcely more than a road and open parkland with lamps for light during the evening. Her father normally worked at the university as well, but he was on sabbatical now and would not be returning for another month. No one had been attacked on that stretch of land yet, but she took no chances. Each day she went to work with her sword strapped to her back. Then in the evenings she would ask her father to continue her training.

All the while the biomonster situation worsened.

"Which is why I need to keep up my skills," said Lore, deftly parrying a strike by her father.

Aeon, watching her train, simply shrugged his shoulders. "You could just stay home. Mother Brain will look after us here after all."

"Not everyone thinks so." It was difficult to fight and talk at the same time. Lore skipped back two paces, panting. "I'm not taking any chances." She blocked another attack, tried a feint, but Orpheus caught her, tapping her lightly on the shoulder with the dulled practice blade.

"Not with the biomonsters at least," said her father with a chuckle. "You sure are with me!"

Lore slumped into a defeated posture and lowered her sword. "Well, I won't be talking with Aeon if I'm busy fighting biomonsters. You can be sure about that. Remember what I told you guys a few years ago?"

Orpheus nodded. "Chimeras in the university. Yes. But the government never found any proof of it."

"Announced any proof you mean. Anyway, what I want to say is, I've fought monsters before and if I get in a fight again I plan to take it seriously. I could be by myself this time, and I have to be able to handle myself. There are more and more sightings everyday, and even if it's not happening here, people are being injured or even killed elsewhere on the planet. I almost wish we were back on Palm."

"Every planet has its dangers," said Orpheus. "Dezo has its cold, Mota has its monsters."

"Then what about Palm?" asked Aeon, sticking out his tongue. Though sixteen years old, nearly seventeen given three more months, Lore's brother still felt the need to indulge his childish side now and then.

"Palm has the government. Presumably it has Mother Brain as well."

There was something dark in Orpheus's voice when he said that. Aeon and Lore had been old enough to inquire where their mother had gone the day he arrived home from the hospital alone, alone except their new sister Myth. Peta Drakon had died given birth to Myth. As they grew older, Lore and Aeon suspected that their father's dislike for Mother Brain stemmed from the fact she had been unable to save her.

Lore had grown suspicious of the computer herself these past few years. Maybe Mother Brain did run virtually every aspect of life in their modern society, but there was something wrong about it that she couldn't quite put her finger on. Mother Brain was not always as right as she claimed to be. And this biomonster fiasco certainly wasn't proving how great she was. Should not a mother comfort a frightened child?

"What do you want to do for your birthday tomorrow?"

Lore blinked. Her father had spoken. "Just a dinner out," she replied. "Taga's is still open right? Let's go there."

Aeon rolled his eyes. "Taga's again? We always go there on your birthday."

"Like we always go to the Blue Sandworm on yours," she shot back.

"And Kale's Barbecue on Dad's."

"And Hot Soup on mine," said Myth, coming into the room on her hoverchair. The small vehicle made little noise as it came beside Aeon and set itself on the floor. Myth was not strong enough to walk on her own for more than a couple minutes at a time, so the chair served as her primary means of transportation.

"Yeah, but Hot Soup's cool." Aeon winked. "Besides, how could I refuse my little sister?"

"You certainly refuse your older one fairly well," said Lore.

"You're gonna be nineteen tomorrow. Even if I'm taller than you now, you're an adult. I don't need to indulge you."

"I'll remember that when your birthday comes around."

Orpheus waved for his kids' attention. "Okay, okay. Taga's for dinner. It's Lore's choice. Anything else you want to do?"

"Have a run at the gaming arcade?" said Aeon.

Lore glared at him. "On your birthday maybe." She turned to her father and said, "Actually, would you mind singing? Maybe a ballad or something? I know it's been a long time, but..."

Aeon nodded his agreement and added, "Yeah, let's hear you bust out those pipes."

"I'm out of shape, you guys," said Orpheus.

"But you really wouldn't mind," remarked Myth with a hint of a smile.

He held up his hands, defeated. "Well, okay. I'll have something memorized by tomorrow."

"I'll play accompaniment," said Aeon. "I can bring my guitar to the restaurant with us. You know Taga's will let us. People sing there all the time."

"I thought you didn't like Taga's," said Lore.

Her brother stuck out his tongue again. "Well, I don't have a problem with the singing, it's just I'm sick of the food."

*     *     *     *     *

Taga's was a popular restaurant for family outings. Or at least it had been up until the biomonster menace started threatening life in the suburbs. The food was reasonably priced and by most accounts pretty good, despite whatever things Aeon chose to say about it. One of the popular attractions was the stage on which amateur musicians, comedians, dancers, and actors could perform. Usually the attempts weren't that good, but it was all in good fun so even the most tone deaf singer could expect a considerate audience.

The night of Lore's birthday was not very crowded, only a third of the restaurant was filled. Still, the service and food was at its usual level. Perhaps as to be expected since Mother Brain regulated everything to see that every facility met her standards. Every piece of food, every dish on the menu, had to be Mother Brain approved before it could be served to the public.

Lore ate with gusto and even Myth attacked her meal with a healthy appetite. Aeon stuffed himself largely on the complimentary rolls, so many that Orpheus had to ask for another basket. After the dinner was over Lore settled back against her seat and relaxed.

Orpheus, who had eaten lightly, asked her, "Want me to sing after this guy's done?" He pointed at the man presently on stage serenading his girlfriend.

Lore nodded. "Sure."

Aeon stuffed one last roll in his mouth, wiped off his hands, and grabbed his guitar case. When the current performer finished, Aeon scooted up on stage before anyone else could take their place. Orpheus followed at a distance after taking a final sip of water. Lore thought her father looked somewhat uncomfortable on stage as Aeon took out his guitar and did a few practice strums. She'd heard that he had once been a popular local singer back in Camineet, but he rarely sang at all for as long as she could remember. No, he sang quite often when she was little, she could recall that much, but that was so long ago.

Orpheus announced on the microphone that this song was dedicated to his daughter, because it was her birthday. "And because even now that she's an adult she's never stopped believing in heroes."

Deep in the darkness, a light strikes the maiden,
Shining with the hope of the people.
She swings her sword then, driving back the demon
Ah, if only we could see her right now.
Her eyes like a fire, her voice like a breeze.
Together we can rise and face the light of dawn, fanning flames of hope.

The evil king, he tried to defeat her
But he did not count on the love of friends.
He called on prayers, magic of his dark god,
The blackest he could conjure against her.
But she stood immune, her courage just as strong.
Alis told him then that the hearts of people cannot be broken that way.

Sweetness like a summer's day, so beautiful like stars at night.
Because she fought to stop Lassic, we all are free to a man.

The evil king could not stand against her
She who moved with the graces of the light
Hearts pounding greatly as though the forge's hammer,
She and her friends attack the king.
Her eyes like a fire, her voice like a breeze.
Avenging the death of her brother, she cut down his tyrant reign.

And now she feels joyful again, basking in the light of a brand new world
That she freed from him now sailing in the sea of stars.

He took a bow after his performance and if that was out of shape, Lore wished she had heard what his music was like at his peak. An appreciative silence followed, then someone said:

"Yeah, too bad someone like Alis isn't around today. She could wipe out all these biomonsters for us."

"You must be joking! She's just a silly myth," said someone else. "Real people aren't like that."

The words would have been easily missed had the restaurant been filled with its usual number of patrons, but not tonight.

"Madam," said Orpheus, stepping off the stage, "Alis was a real person, as real as you or I are now. Though certainly some facts have been distorted over the centuries, that does not mean that nothing of the legend is true. History clearly states that there was a Queen Alis Landale and that she overthrew a usurper king named Lassic."

"Maybe so," said a man at the same table, "but rid the three planets of monsters? No one person could do that."

Myth backed her hoverchair away from the table and pivoted to face him. "She had companions," she stated.

"A dozen still wouldn't have been enough. Look at the army and all those hunters out there! This is just one planet right now and they can't get the job done. Mother Brain says everything is under control, but even she can't seem to stop them! And Mother Brain's the greatest protector we've ever had in history."

"Dad?" Lore placed a hand on her father's shoulder. She could feel his desire to reply, either as an academic or as a human being, but this wasn't how she wanted to remember her birthday. "Let's go home," she said.

He turned to her and nodded. Aeon gathered up his guitar in its case and Myth swept out ahead of them with a peevish look on her face. Lore followed, her father coming last as he stopped to pay the bill. Aeon was usually quiet during the walk home while Myth spoiled for an argument. Her diminutive body shook as she railed about people having no imagination and giving up too easily. Real live men and women were working on a solution right now and one of them could be just like the real Alis and they'd never know it.

"Calm down, Myth, or you'll wear yourself out," said Aeon finally. "What do those crackpots know anyway? Most people don't care as much about the past as we do. This biomonster thing is right in their face and they can't see anything else."

Myth huffed, but refrained from replying.

"The answers to the present can be found in the past," said Orpheus. "I've always taught the three of you that. Something will turn up if people are willing to pull back and look at the big picture. Mother Brain's made us so used to instant gratification that sometimes we forget that there ever was anything before her."

Lore sighed. "I wish we could have made those people understand that, but I don't think that would have happened. Not right there and then. Maybe another time when we can actually show them what we mean."

The family arrived home well after dark and Orpheus asked Lore to come with him to his study. The elder Drakon kept a room on the second floor of the home set aside for his studies. Bookcases packed with lined the walls to such a degree that there was very little wall to be seen. In older days that would not have been considered unusual, but so much data on computers now, the printed word tended to limit itself to the occasional computer output or increasingly rare hardcopy. Most of these were part of the Drakon heritage, a massive collection spread throughout the current heads of the large extended family. Orpheus was not considered one of the heads since his parents were still alive, but he was the first of their family to settle on Motavia with the idea to live there permanently. Given the likely possibility that he would be starting a new branch of the Drakon clan, the older generation allowed him to take a small portion of their collective library with him, so his descendants would have something to work with other than what Mother Brain told them.

Lore read several of the volumes while growing up. Most were fairly old from before Mother Brain came into the picture, and the earliest stretched back to the days of Alis, when the first historian of the Drakon lineage set ink to paper and wrote of the tyranny of Lassic.

Very impressive books all of them. Orpheus currently worked on a volume of his own, covering the biomonster crisis. Though she was not expected to, the duties of historian were never forced on anyone since the extended family was large enough that an adequate people always came forward to fill the role, Lore hoped to add a volume or two of her own in the future. Of course, theirs came in the form of computer discs rather than the archaic fashion of pressed wood pulp.

"Lore, I want to give you something very special for your birthday present," said Orpheus.

He knelt beside one of the bookcases and wedged out a trunk from the bottom shelf. An antiquated piece of storage equipment, it required a metal key with small teeth to open. The elder Drakon lifted the lid, revealing an odd assortment of colored bundles. He selected a long, thin one wrapped in stately silver cloth and closed the trunk. A small cord held the material in place. Orpheus reverently removed it, revealing a sword. The sheath was new and in an excellent condition, but by the style of the hilt, Lore knew the sword itself hailed from ancient days.

"For you," he said, holding it out to her.

Awed, Lore took the sheath in hand and drew out the blade. It shone quite bright with a keen edge. The sword itself was light in her hands, but she knew it had to be strong.

Orpheus nodded, as though agreeing with her assessment. "It's made of laconia, highly durable if you recall, and able to be forged into the best of weapons. It was used by an ancestor of ours many centuries ago."

Lore turned the blade over and studied the hilt. Two golden dragon wings formed the shape of the crossguard, a distinctive marking that never would have been made after Mother Brain's appearance on Palm. That placed the sword at being at least four and a half centuries old, but it had to be older than that. Besides, the dragon wing crossguard... The word "dragon" itself was merely a corruption of the older Palman word for the great flying beasts. Drakon.

"I know what you're thinking," said Orpheus, "and that's not it, though history is engraved on this sword as surely as the one in your imagination. I wish I could be so lucky as to say I inherited Hope Drakon's sword, but great recordkeepers that we are, another of our ancestors actually lost it. Your Aunt Leslie thinks it might be here on Mota somewhere, assuming it hasn't moved much in the past five centuries. This sword I'm giving you is Flamewing. Six hundred years old, forged in AW657 to be exact, and modeled after the original Dragontongue, with some adjustments of course. Dragontongue was shorter and meant to be used with one hand. You'll have to use both hands to wield Flamewing."

Lore sheathed the sword. "Thanks."

"You worry so much about looking after yourself and other people when you're going to and from work. There's no way we can stop the biomonsters from attacking if they really want to attack, but with this you may stand a better chance than with your old sword."

"It would be an honor to defend people with this." Just like Alis. She could save lives, fight off monsters with her wits and the blade of an ancient sword. She could look to other people and see the admiration in their eyes. Lore turned to go, but her father's voice stopped her.

"That may be true," he said, "but let's hope you will never have to do so. Happy Birthday, Lore."

*     *     *     *     *

The next few days passed relatively uneventfully. Lore spotted biomonsters in the distance every so often during her daily walks, but they never came close enough for her to identify them. Their nearness bothered her, but there was nothing else to show for it. The number of people injured by biomonsters appeared to be going down if the news reports were right, but that could be due to the fact more people huddled in the cities than the hunters getting any control over the situation. More of them strolled through Kueri than ever before, some even openly baring their weapons strapped about them. Their presence was of some relief, though Lore wished the city didn't need them at all. Long ago, when monsters had covered all three planets of the Algo Star System, King Lassic ordered that the towns and cities be placed under martial law. The similarity was discomforting.

Still, Lore went about her work as usual. Her coworkers worried, even though they had moved or already lived within the walls of Kueri. No biomonsters were going to make it past those imposing barriers of titanium and steel. Kueri was a safe city. Even some of the Mota people took refuge here, and that said a good deal if that crafty lot figured Kueri safer than their own homes. Mota people fared much better at hiding and evading the biomonsters than the Palmans.

Nesha wasn't safe, her coworkers told her. It lay outside the Kueri walls. Nothing could stop a biomonster from walking through the streets if it put its mind to it. Why live surrounded by open land when one couldn't be safe enough to enjoy it anyway? Stay in the city, where there were hunters, the army, and walls.

"If a biomonster attacked me on the street I think I'd still be all right," Lore told them in an offhand manner. A few of them knew she had learned the sword, and quite a few carried smaller weapons of their own, but they no doubt thought her quite foolhardy nonetheless. Hunters and soldiers knew how to fight, but an historian with a sword was just a person with an oversized knife.

Lore didn't show off her new sword to them, but each day she picked it up for the journey home she took comfort in it. The laconian blade fit her well, possessing a perfect balance for every move she tried to make. It would be able to kill a biomonster if the fight came to that. She wasn't sure if the biomonsters were actually more monster than animal, but if they were the latter, she figured she ought to be able to drive one away on her own; just a threatening blow or two should be more than enough. She didn't think that Nesha would ever have to handle more than a handful at a time, if even that. Biomonsters didn't attack in hordes.

*     *     *     *     *

The emergency alarm sounded at just about sunset. Lore found her work at her computer terminal abruptly saved and then replaced with an urgent bulletin. Biomonsters swarming outside Kueri. Citizens to remain indoors. The city walls were...

Lore grabbed her sword and ran. Forget packing up neatly and winding up the day's work. The city walls were closing! Were the biomonsters near Nesha? The suburb did not have its own teleport station. If the city walls closed... Oh what was Mother Brain doing? What was wrong with her? Why wasn't there an earlier warning? If the city used the emergency alarm the biomonsters had to be almost on top of them.

The walls were mammoth and took several minutes to close. Lore ran as fast as she could towards the eastern edge of town. Soldiers lined the sides of the gate, weapons ready should any biomonsters surge through. Lore didn't see any though, just the city lights of the road and Nesha in the distance.

She summoned her courage, counting on the fact that soldiers really did very little fighting or even peacekeeping. Mother Brain's robots did most of the work. She barreled through them, causing something of a stir, but no one gave chase. Perhaps if there had been a robot there it could have stopped her, but no soldier regularly expected an emergency order from Mother Brain to be disobeyed. Who would charge outside into the maws of biomonsters? Certainly not the soldiers to drag back one teenage girl.

The distance home felt longer than ever before. Lore jogged at a brisk pace, not the flat out run that would tire her before she arrived. A crowd of people gathered at the western end of Nesha, on the road to Kueri. Some of them faced the city, doors now closed to them, but most looked back towards the suburb, flaming bright against the darkening sky. Nesha was on fire.

Where were the robots? Why weren't they deploying to stop the fire?

Lore glanced about, looking among the assembled people. "Dad? Myth? Aeon?" Some of them sported burns, but just as many nursed wounds caused by the claws and mandibles of biomonsters. Most huddled on the ground, too weak from injury or shock to stand. Coming from the suburb itself she could hear even above the crackling of the fire and the popping of the building the sound of people panicked and screaming.

Her grip tightened around the hilt of her sword.

"Lore!"

Orpheus staggered a short distance towards her, a band of gauze wrapped about his head. His clothes were covered in dust and one sleeve had been shredded.

"Dad!" She rushed over to him.

He shook his head when she looked him over for wounds. "I've been tended to," he said. "Just suffering from dizziness at this point." As if to emphasize his words, he dropped back to sit on the grass.

"What happened?"

"Biomonsters attacked." He grimaced. "They came in a horde and some of them were strong enough to damage buildings. I think a power cable must have ruptured somehow, perhaps by one of the biomonsters tearing into it, and started the fire. Once one building caught fire, it spread quickly. Feel the wind."

Lore didn't immediately understand but realized that she could sense the movement of air, possibly more than could be accounted for by the fire. It blew towards Kueri.

"The wind is fanning the flames," said her father. "We're supposed to have fire retardant homes. We're supposed to have robots running out this instant to put out the fire. And you know who controls the wind."

"Dad, where's Myth and Aeon?"

Orpheus lowered his head. "Aeon and I were out shopping when the attack began. Myth was feeling well so we left her at home--alone. Once Aeon got me out here so I could be treated he ran back to get Myth. Wait! Lore-"

She heard her father calling her back, but Lore ignored him. Aeon would be able to move Myth faster with help. Monsters still scuttled about the suburb, disoriented. Some faced off with hunters, others appeared even frightened of the fire. A pinchant lunged at her, but Lore sidestepped the biomonster, whirling around as she drew her sword. The blade landed with a solid thunk between two pieces of chitin. The giant insect squealed and skittered back, peering at her warily with its single large red eye.

Lore glared at it and yelled, "Go on! Get out of here!" She took a step towards it and raised her sword. The pinchant stumbled away. With a growl, Lore turned around and continued through the flaming buildings. The heat was intense, changing pockets of air from bearable to intolerable and back in seconds. Still, she found if she was careful, she could find a path through the invisible danger. Biomonsters continued to approach her, but as the fire worsened they seemed less and less inclined to fight. Here and there she saw bodies of people, more rarely of biomonsters, and the sight spurred her on.

"Aeon!"

She spotted him and madly waved to get his attention. Her brother carried Myth in his arms like a small child. Of course. The hoverchair would not be able to navigate around the debris and slag very easily. They must have abandoned it at some point, if they used it at all. Aeon was running, and from the looks of it, terribly out of breath.

He met her gaze, wild-eyed, and almost would not let go of Myth when Lore sheathed her sword and offered to carry her. "You're tired," she said. "I'll take it from here. It's not much farther."

Aeon calmed, reason returning to him as the frantic adrenalin that had driven him this far began to abate. Saying nothing, saving his breath only for air, he relinquished Myth to his older sister. Myth remained quiet during the transfer, but as soon as Lore had a good grip on her she said, "Let's hurry."

Lore nodded and broke into an easy running gait. She didn't say it, but even being tiny for her age, Myth was much heavier than she thought to consider. Now she strove to ignore that weight and concentrate on getting them out of here. The buildings around them had weakened during the short time she was there, and marking the way out with even more hazards and detours. Regaining some of his energy, Aeon ran a short distance ahead of her and scanned the area for the best path to take.

She almost thought they were going to make it when an ominous creaking greeted her ears. The house next to them... Aeon had lead them too close. He was only a few steps ahead of her.

"Move it, Aeon! The house is gonna collapse!"

And it did. Lore lost sight of Aeon as something heavy slugged her in the side and bowled her to the ground. It only stunned her for a moment, but the world changed around her. Fire and debris fell everywhere. The hot air scalded her lungs and sweat and soot smarted her eyes. She scrabbled about on hands and knees and found Myth, lying unconscious only a few feet from her.

"Aeon?"

"Over here!" he called.

She could barely see him. Part of a wall had come down, pinning him beneath it. Lore knelt beside him and put her shoulder to the concrete slab. She heaved and felt it give, just a little bit. With better purchase she would be able to move it further.

Aeon let out a strangled yelp. "Stop! You're smashing me!"

"Just give me a minute. I'll find a way to get this off you."

"No. Wait." He looked earnestly at her. "Where's Myth?"

Lore glanced over at her sister. "She's unconscious, but otherwise okay I think. I didn't see any bleeding." She moved to rub her watering eyes, but stopped herself short. The fire was getting worse. The open air and breeze might prevent the gases from choking them, but if they didn't get out of here soon they'd be cooked alive.

"Take Myth and go!" said Aeon.

"Are you crazy? It'll only take a minute for me to get this off you. I'm not leaving without my brother. I can move this!"

"No, it's not that..." He turned away. "I'm bleeding, badly. I can feel it. I fell on something and it jammed up my pelvis. I... I might be able to walk, but I don't think I can run. Lore, you can't help both me and Myth out of here. There's not enough time."

"At least let me get this wall off you!"

"No! Get out here! Save your strength for carrying Myth!"

Lore shook her head. "I can't leave you behind."

Tears welled in Aeon's eyes. "You can and you will! We can't all die here! Think! Dad's already lost Mom. He can't lose all of us too. And... I don't want Myth to die just because the two of us are standing here arguing."

Lore took a step away, hesitant, and Aeon lowered his head.

"Go dammit," he said. "I don't want to look up and see you still here."

"I'll get help. I'll come back for you, Aeon."

She gathered Myth in her arms and started running.

Somehow, she made it through. Lore cleared the fire and stumbled up to the group of people assembled around the injured. Dazed, she handed Myth to a woman in a medical uniform and turned to go. "I've got to get my brother," she said. But someone grabbed her and pricked her arm with a sharp instrument before she realized what had happened.

No, she protested. I have to get my brother. I have to. He'll die.

The words wouldn't come. Only a cold blackness like death.

*     *     *     *     *

So much for being a hero. So much for swinging her sword defending the lives of the people she loved. In the end the sword did nothing and she was left having to choose between helping Aeon or saving Myth. It wasn't supposed to happen like this. Heroes like Alis weren't faced with having to sacrifice another person's life. It was supposed to be their own. A hero was willing to die to save friends. A hero didn't choose which friend it was to save.

They held a funeral for Aeon, whose body was found so damaged the clone labs could not revive him. His friends and classmates eulogized him and her father spoke as well. Lore remained numb throughout the service. It could not have been easy to die the way he did. She was the eldest. She should have protected him. He was her little brother. Maybe life could never be the epic she imagined.

Myth sat beside her and looked at her inquiringly. Lore told no one about the choice she had made. She thought that perhaps she would tell Myth in the future, that maybe she could have saved Aeon. Right now all anyone else knew was that Aeon had been trapped by a collapsed wall. She had half-wished that when his body was retrieved someone would have said that the wall could have been easily lifted. But no one said anything, and no one doubted her for giving her all. Even though that was a lie.

"Sister to sister," said Myth, beckoning her attention. "Life goes on."

Lore broke out of her melancholy. "What?"

"Life is for living. I wouldn't be here if not for Aeon. Don't waste his gift."

His gift? But he gave nothing to Lore. Or did he. Aeon was the hero. He gave his life for Myth. He couldn't have raised a sword to save his life, but in the end, he was victorious. He won. Lore relented and left with Myth. He got both his sisters to safety.

Lore buried her face in hands and began to sob. The tears came freely now. Heroes existed beyond the legends and deeds around them. She could see that now. Thanks to Aeon.

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