Part 54: Fork in the Path


"Then she said once again 'are you certain..." (Our Lady's Child, Brothers Grimm)



As Morgana's and Zenobia's name roll off of Jackroy's slippery tongue, I barely find myself surprised. I am shocked, however, upon realizing how much I seem to care about what happens to either of the girls.

I let Jackroy slip from my grasp as I ponder this sudden change of attitude towards two girls I hardly know. For some reason, knowing that either of them could be in trouble does not sit well with me.

I shake my head and give a dry laugh. "So, not only are you a horror of a sibling, but you're also a rat? I thought you and Morgana were friends."

Jackroy flinches at the harsh tone in my voice. He rubs his raw neck and tries to shrug away his guilt.

"I didn't want to give her up," he softly admits. "She's really nice and she helped me in the Giant's castle, but it was my family's life or hers."

I spin around and glare at the spineless coward. When I step towards him, he flinches and tries to hide behind his hands.

"What do you mean by that? They're going to kill them?"

Jackroy shakes his head, nods, and then shakes again, as if he can't make up his mind.

I slam my hand on the building behind his hand and shove myself closer to him.

"Well?" I shout. "Which is it? Yes or no?"

Finally, he shrugs.

"I-I don't know. The knights seemed pretty serious about it when I told them. But I promise, I had no idea that anything too bad could happen to them!"

I let my hand fall back to my side and push away from the boy. I take a deep breath to calm my frayed nerves, then let my fingers work at my temples. I'm overreacting. No matter how grateful I am for Morgana helping Eden and for Zenoia trying to be my friend, I cannot allow myself to act like this.

"I don't care about that," I hiss, although my head feels as if it might shatter with so many worrying thoughts brewing inside of it. "I really don't. I'm just amazed that such a despicable pair of people could be related to Eden."

The mother is quick to correct my statement. "We're not related to that creature and neither are you." She pushes her weighty frame against my chest, trying to appear as intimidating as a short woman with a wart at the center of her forehead can be. She taps my collarbone roughly and narrows her eyes at my face. "Who do you think you are, attacking us in broad daylight over a little boy you barely know? You can't judge us. Look at you in your fancy clothes and expensive jewelry. You don't look as if you've ever missed a meal a day out of your life."

         I could say the same for her.

         "My original child was snatched from its crib and replaced by a monster with those horrible spindly things growing out of this back. That thing has been a thorn in my side ever since that night. I never have enough to eat because of him."

       "Is that why he looks as if he's made from sticks and bones while you look to be made from butter?" I ponder.

        The blabbering moron's face turns bright red. "Of course, I have to nourish myself and my own child before him!" She blows on her lips, seeming truly outraged. "You don't know anything about our family so you cannot judge us. You don't know how it is to be a peasant. You would never understand."

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