The Marmite Alphabetacy 34- Sticks and Stones

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The Marmite Alphabetacy 34- Sticks and Stones

  1. 1. Welcome back to the Marmite alphabetacy! The legacy you either love or hate- or are completely indifferent to- or somewhere in the middle. Moving swiftly on, in the last chapter Hiro and Yaeko had five children: Iracebeth, Isildur, Ichigo, Iago and Ichabod. Iracebeth decided that the heirship was her birthright and became determined to claim it and Iago took a trip to a house that he would never forget...
  2. 2. “C’mon! Move it!” Their shoes slapped against the tarmac as they ran, filling the empty backstreets with an echoing, irregular rhythm like the palpitations of a strident heart. Breathing heavily, they slowed slightly , reeling in their legs as they rounded the corner and then back to full speed as they made the turn.
  3. 3. And barely noticing, if at all, the quiet chink of the vase hitting the ground.
  4. 4. But someone else did. “Hey you!” But they continued to run, giving no indication that they had heard him. “I’m talking to you!”
  5. 5. The three boys skidded to an abrupt halt, turning back and walking towards the insolent stranger; they couldn’t let that tone slide. “What?” snarled the one in the middle, spitting on the ground before him and looking up with a contemptuous stare.
  6. 6. “I’m glad I managed to get your attention.” said the boy, his voice confident and aggravated. He stood in an assertive stance with his legs apart, positively radiating self-assurance as he glared at them. “Now listen up you pond scum” he yelled with a scowl, “Do you see that?”
  7. 7. Without looking away, he swept out his right arm, pointing to the toppled vase and, with this simple gesture, implying bodily a fury that weakened the confidence they usually took for granted. The middle boy had to fight to keep the edge to his voice as he replied. “Yeah, so what?” “Good,” said the boy with a smile that only made them more nervous. “First question: What do you think that is? You- the dark haired one- answer!” “Uh, m-me?” his voice trembled despite himself as his brain whirred in search of the answer that the menacing redhead wanted to hear. “I-I guess somebody left those fl-flowers for some kid who- who got killed here?”
  8. 8. “Correct.” he replied, narrowing his eyes even further. “Now the next question: why is the vase lying on its side?” There was a heated silence for a few seconds. “I’m waiting.” “I-I guess one of us knocked it over when we ran past.” blurted out the boy in the middle. “You guys catch on fast.” he growled. “Now go and apologise or the next time the flowers will be for you!” “Or what?” said the third boy, speaking for the first time. “Are you gonna make us?” Unlike the others, he had kept his composure and strode threateningly towards the orange-haired stranger, cracking his knuckles with sharp clear sounds.
  9. 9. The boy folded his arms and allowed himself a rare smile. “Think you can take me blondie?” He appeared faintly amused as the other boy continued to stride towards him, curling large flat hands into fists. “Well okay then,” He stretched his calf muscles, casually, almost lazily, seemingly undaunted by the impending confrontation. “Shut it carrot top.” the other boy growled, now close enough to see the stranger’s infuriatingly calm face in greater detail.
  10. 10. The boy’s eyes glinted as he moved with the ease and speed of an accomplished fighter, spacing his feet further apart and bringing his arms up to his chest, pale fists coiled and ready. “I think it’s time you learned a little respect for the dead.” And then he made his move.
  11. 11. The blow to his gut seemed to not only force all the breath from his body, but to remove his lungs. Doubled over and choking, the boy didn’t notice the fist speeding towards his jaw until he felt the impact. Lights flickered tauntingly before his eyes as a powerful kick swept his legs from underneath him, a final punch to the chest caught him in midair as he tumbled backwards and extended his horizontal trajectory. And then it was over, after a fleeting eternity and he coughed breath back into his chest. His sight returned and he saw the pale blue of the evening sky above him, tinged with red in the west.
  12. 12. His arms trembled as he propped himself into a seated position. He looked up and, seeing the orange haired boy standing over him, hurried to his feet. “Have you got anything to say for yourself?” the other boy asked, seemingly not even out of breath.
  13. 13. “I- I’m s-sorry man,” the edge to his voice had disappeared completely. “I’m sorry okay? Just leave me alone.” He moved back towards the other two, shuffling with all the speed he could muster and wincing slightly. “What the hell happened?” asked the dark haired boy; he had never seen his friend lose a fight before- let alone so spectacularly. “Let’s just get out of here.” the fear was still evident in his voice. The other two agreed hastily and the three boys hurried out of sight.
  14. 14. He watched them leave before turning with a sigh. “That oughta teach them something.” He looked over towards the toppled vase. “Sorry about all that, I’ll bring you some new flowers tomorrow.” “Thank you,” said the ghost, smiling at him as she stood on the corner that her life had ended on two years previously.
  15. 15. “I think I should be able to rest peacefully now.” “No problem.” he replied calmly, bending down to place the vase upright once more. “You deserve to be able to rest in peace.” “Most people can’t see me in the day you know.” “I know.” he answered, almost grimly. “What’s your name?” she asked him, tilting her head to one side curiously. “It’s Ichigo,” “Thank you, Ichigo.” she said quietly. He nodded in response before turning and walking away.
  16. 16. Ichigo couldn’t remember how long he’d been able to see spirits- or rather, how long he’d been able to interact with them in a way others couldn’t. Not everyone could see them, but his entire family could as far as he was aware. But Ichigo’s abnormality was that he didn’t just see them at night, he saw them constantly- and not just the ghosts of the dearly departed; he could see other spirits too. What’s more, he could interact with them in ways that others couldn’t and, consequently, when he was younger, he’d had several friends who were spirits without him realising it.
  17. 17. One of his closest friends had been the ghost of a girl named Christy. He was only around eight or nine when they became friends and didn’t yet fully understand how to distinguish spirits from ‘physical’ beings. Christy had simply stopped coming to play with him. This had confused him at the time, but he had plenty of other friends and he was easily distracted from this mystery. It was only when Ichigo was older, and had achieved a greater understanding of his spiritual sensitivity that he realised that she was a ghost and began to truly wonder what had happened to her.
  18. 18. The Elephant Club didn’t normally give prime slots like a Friday night to bands as obscure as The Dunedain, but a certain Mr G. Marmite had put in a good word for them- he and the owner went way back. And anyway, things were going pretty well- at any rate, the crowd seemed to be enjoying themselves. The end of an overly elaborate guitar solo marked the song’s climax. There was enthusiastic applause and even a few whoops and whistles- but a crowd of under three dozen was never going to generate much noise. But this was how bands got started and they launched into another song before it could dishearten them.
  19. 19. Here it is again yet it stings like the first time Seems it never ends, Double nickels on your dime I thought we were friends, I guess it just depends who you ask These feelings tend to leave me with a hole in my chest A hole in my chest Now the time has come I just wish I could erase All the damage done to your name and your keepsakes It's only just begun, it's been fun, we were blind, deaf and dumb There's a party in my closet calling all skeletons
  20. 20. Where did you go as the lights went black? Look what's become of me I've grown to love your disappearing acts, Do one more pretty please Now the time has come I just wish I could erase All the damage done, all this pain, all this heartache It's only just begun, it's been fun, we were fucked up and numb There's a killer on the corner and he's looking for love...
  21. 21. Ichigo arrived late and found his twin sitting at the bar, watching their older brother strut around the stage, screaming into his mike as he played. “So you decided to turn up then?” said Iago, having to shout over the noise. “I got caught up in something.” he said simply. “Oh I’m sure you did.” As ever, Iago’s tone was difficult to read. Ichigo ignored him, turning back to watch the band. “How are they doing?” Isildur now appeared to making love to his guitar. “It’s difficult to say.” said Iago dryly. Ichigo listened for a while, “Hey,” he was audibly surprised “this song is actually pretty good.”
  22. 22. “Well Faramir and David write everything. Isildur’s just... Isildur.” “Someone has to be the frontman,” sighed Ichigo as Isildur’s current guitar solo entered it’s third minute. “And somehow I don’t think he’ll mind the attention.” A thought occurred to him. “How’s Ichabod; I left early this morning so I didn’t see him.” “Ask him yourself,” Iago smirked. “He’s over there somewhere. Last time I saw him he was talking to a guy named Big Johnny. ”
  23. 23. “WHAT?” Ichigo followed his twin’s gaze to see his little brother slap dancing happily amidst the crowd. Ichabod caught sight of him and, smiling gleefully, began to push his way through the audience.
  24. 24. “Why is Ichabod here?!” Ichigo yelled, unable to understand his twin’s apparent lack of concern. “Because he followed me.” Iago replied, as if he were explaining something to a toddler. “He’s eight Iago! EIGHT years old and you just let him follow you to a rock gig in a seedy club?” “I can’t see what it has to do with me.” said Iago, taking a sip of his drink. “What do you mean?” Ichigo was utterly exasperated and increasingly angry “It has everything to do with you! Anything could happen to a little kid wandering around here by himself. You’re his brother for God’s sake!” “I figured he didn’t need me to be his brother with Super Ichi around.” Iago said bitterly, adopting a sickening girlish voice. “In fact, he only wanted to come because you were going to be here.” “You can be a total bastard Iago, you know that?”
  25. 25. “Yeah, well we can’t all be as perfect as you can we Ichigo?” Ichigo scowled at him incredulously, completely livid but lost for words. “Ichigo! Ichigo!” Ichabod had managed to force his way through. Ichigo swallowed hard, trying to suppress the anger he knew would be present in his voice. “Hey Ichabod,” he tussled his little brother’s hair. He appeared to be fine but anything could have happened to him for all Iago seemed to care. “Isn’t this great Ichi?!” Ichabod beamed, wide eyes sparkling.
  26. 26. “Yeah, it’s brilliant.” he replied distractedly. The surge of relief he felt had only intensified his anger towards Iago, but he didn’t want to argue about it with him right then and have Ichabod think it was somehow his fault. “C’mere,” he sighed, bending down to hug his little brother. “We’re going home.” he said forcefully, glaring at Iago. “Do we have to?” asked Ichabod sadly. “Don’t you want to meet my new friends.” “Maybe some other time.” he put a hand on Ichabod’s shoulder, turning him gently towards the door. “We’re going.” he said pointedly, intending to leave Iago behind. “I’ll come with you.” meeting Ichigo’s glare with a smirk.
  27. 27. Where do we go from here? The words are coming out all weird Where are you now when I need you? Alone on an aeroplane Fall asleep against the window pane My blood will thicken. I need to wash myself again to hide all the dirt and pain 'cause I'd be scared that there's nothing underneath And who are my real friends? Have they all got the bends? Am I really sinking this low?
  28. 28. My baby's got the bends - Oh no We don't have any real friends - No no no Just lying in a bar with my drip feed on talking to my girlfriend waiting for something to happen I wish it was the sixties I wish we could be happy I wish, I wish, I wish that something would happen. Where do we go from here? The planet is a gunboat in a sea of fear And where are you? They brought in the C.I.A. The tanks, and the whole marines to blow me away To blow me sky high...
  29. 29. The Dunedain collapsed onto the sofas backstage, exhausted by tonight’s performance. “Well,” said Isildur happily. “I think they liked us!” “Yeah...” said Faramir hesitantly. “But didn’t you think that it was a bit...” he let out a sigh. “I mean they were slap dancing. Are they even listening?” “Meh,” said Isildur, grinning “They want to be entertained.” “Yeah... But- oh I don’t know.” Faramir conceded.
  30. 30. “It was a bit lame.” admitted David. “Lame?” laughed Isildur “Surely saying ‘lame’ is much lamer.” “Well then saying that saying ‘lame’ is lame, is lame.” David retorted. “Well then,” Isildur began, but this was too much for his moderately drunken brain and he gave up. “Yeah, you’re right.” he agreed. “Plus, I have a sneaking suspicion that we only got this gig because two thirds of the band are Godric’s Marmite’s grandchildren.” added David. “Ugh,” moaned Isildur. “We are never going to be taken seriously.”
  31. 31. “We’ll just have to stick at it” reasoned Faramir “We can’t really get anywhere until we’re at Uni anyway.” “You’re right,” agreed David. “And that’s not too far away.”
  32. 32. “You realise Mum is gonna freak?” sighed Ichigo as they approached the front door. “Is Mummy going to be angry with me?” asked Ichabod, suddenly upset. “Oh definitely.” Iago answered, grinning cruelly as Ichabod’s lip began to tremble. “Of course she won’t be mad at you Ick,” Ichigo scowled at his twin. “You haven’t done anything wrong.” Ichigo pushed open the door, not bothering to hope that his mother would somehow not have noticed that her youngest child had disappeared from the house.
  33. 33. He was right not to get his hopes up. “WHERE in the name of Paul Gray have you BEEN?” “You know where we were.” said Iago casually. “Okay,” growled Yaeko “Let me rephrase that; What the HELL did you think you were doing taking Ichabod with you?!” “Jesus, Mother. Put some clothes on.” drawled Iago. “I am dressed like this because I awoke in the middle of the night to find my youngest child missing and have been too busy TEARING MY HAIR OUT to squeeze in a wardrobe change. How your father didn’t notice- I got back late, ‘Is Icky in bed?’ I said. ‘Sure is’ said Hiro. Sure is my arse!”
  34. 34. “Although I can’t really blame him, because I never, NEVER would have imagined that you could be so IRRESPONSIBLE.” “Mom, I-” began Ichigo, but his twin cut across him in a half amused, half exasperated voice. “What? He’s fine isn’t he?” “And it’s a bloody good job he is Iago, because if something had happened to him, SO HELP ME GOD, I would have-”
  35. 35. “I-I’m sorry Mummy,” whimpered Ichabod as fat, glistening tears began to well up in his eyes. “I’m really- I didn’t-” “Oh Icky,” Yaeko’s voice had instantly sofened, shedding decibels by the bucket load. “It’s not your fault. Come here,” Ichabod ran to his mother, who bent down and wrapped her arms around him tightly. “ You didn’t know,” she said quietly, stroking his hair. “Just don’t disappear on me again okay?” Ichabod pulled away and nodded mutely, a small smile on his tear stained face. “Now off to bed okay?” He gave his brothers a sympathetic look and hurried up the stairs.
  36. 36. “Fortunately for you two, I feel a sore throat coming on.” said Yaeko, her voice stayed quieter, but regained it’s menace. “And this whole ordeal has made me realise quite how much you all mean to me- so we’ll put this behind us. But I hope you realise quite how disappointed your father and I are.” “yeah, yeah. ” Iago said, beginning to walk away.” “Iago,” “What?” “I love you y’know.” “Whatever.” Yaeko watched him walk away, shaking her head and sighing. “That boy...”
  37. 37. “Mum,” said Ichigo, hurriedly. “I didn’t know- We left as soon as I realised Ick was there.” “It’s okay Ichigo,” she smiled sadly at him. “I know he must have left with Iago; it’s not your fault- and you brought him home straight away. It’s just-” She sighed again. “I feel like I’m constantly yelling at Iago. It makes me feel like I’m picking on him- and I know it’s just that he does more things that warrant a bollocking than the rest of you, but I still- and I really worry about him.” “I know you do Mom,” “Well, off to bed then sweetheart.” “Night,”
  38. 38. Ichabod had always adored Ichigo. He was someone to admire, someone to confide in, someone who would stand up for him. And Ichigo had immediately accepted this role, this responsibility. It wasn’t that he didn’t get on with his other siblings, he just had a special bond with Ichabod. Ichigo had always been a solemn child, but Ichabod could always make him laugh- a thing others struggled to do.
  39. 39. And Ichabod was a shy child, sensitive and often naive- not at all suited to the harsh reality of life. Which was very unlike his idol. Ichigo seemed to have always known more about the cruelty of the world around him than someone of his age should. It was an impression one got simply from a brief conversation with him, or even from looking into his eyes. Iago, also gave of this sense of awareness, but he bore it in a different way- it had made him bitter and afraid.
  40. 40. Ichabod was widely adored by the family, in the way that youngest children often are. He was interested in science, and Hiro was eager to impart all that he had learnt from Farnsworth to him. Isildur, who was so often out of the house at gigs or parties, spent hours playing with him whenever he was home. Even Iracebeth who, in her determination to become heir, could often be hostile towards her siblings, had a soft spot for him and Ichabod was always willing to be her audience when she practiced a speech.
  41. 41. Iracebeth had already ascended as far as she could, at her present age, in the political career track and was eager to begin studying at University. However, she had decided she would attend with Mirana, her best friend, and would therefore wait until she was ready to move on .
  42. 42. Hiro and Yaeko felt truly blessed, but (as is the case with many people) this only made Yaeko more prone to worrying. “Hiro,” “Yeeeees,” “Do you think the kids are okay?” Hiro smiled affectionately at her. “What makes you say that?” “Oh, I don’t know,” sighed Yaeko. “It’s just, Iracebeth is so hell bent on being heir, and if she doesn’t win I don’t know what she’ll “do, and Isildur’s wearing himself out with gigs every night, and Ichigo seems so serious all the time and I never know what he’s thinking and I worry about what seeing ghosts all the time does to him, and Ichabod doesn’t have many friends and I worry about him being bullied, and then there’s Iago! I worry about him most of all. He used to be such a sweet little boy- and I know you’ll say it’s his age- but it seems different somehow, and-”
  43. 43. “Have I ever told you that you worry far too much?” said Hiro, pulling his wife closer. “Incessantly.” “Well you do. Iracebeth will realise that there are more important things than the heirship, Isildur knows what he’s doing and Dad has people ‘in the biz’ looking out for him. Ichigo is just Ichigo. He’s strong but I know that he’s not too proud to ask for help if he really needs it and if Icky does have any problems, he’ll tell Ichigo long before he tells us and his big bro will we more than capable of sorting most things out- if not, he’ll come to us. As for Iago... I really think that this might just be a phase. He does seem to have changed and I can’t think why, but I think we’re just going to have to keep an eye on him. I'm sure there’s nothing seriously wrong.
  44. 44. But later that night, unable to sleep, Yaeko was unable to ignore her fears and, as they paraded repeatedly through her mind, a memory from years before drifted back to her.
  45. 45. “Mum, why does Dad never use his power?” The question threw her. She and Hiro had decided not to tell the children about his ability until they were older. “How do you know about that sweetie?” she asked, taken aback. “Grandpa Godric mentioned it when he drank that whole bottle of sake that Grandpa Kaito gave him.” “Oh... Well Daddy doesn’t really need to use his power, and it’s very dangerous anyway.” “But he could do whatever he wanted to!” he cried eagerly. “He could make everyone afraid of him and they’d have to do whatever he said and he could have whatever he wanted!” “But why would he want to do that?” she stopped picking tomatoes, watching him cautiously. “I dunno,” said Iago, still picking, “Everyone would remember him forever. It seems stupid not to use it to me. But then, I suppose people will remember him cos he’s an heir isn’t he?”
  46. 46. She thought about this memory as she did her morning Tai-chi in the greenhouse- an attempt to improve the spiritual harmony of their cucumber plants. The thought of it unsettled her and in the end she cut the session short. She wanted desperately to heed Hiro’s advice and to dismiss it all as the imaginings of her overly anxious mind- but she could not bring herself to do it. She was sure there was something wrong with her son and the idea that she could not help him tortured her.
  47. 47. She knew for a fact that Iago suffered frequent night terrors. He thrashed in his sleep, sometimes murmuring indistinct words, sometimes groaning, or even screaming. He would never discuss these dreams with her, claiming not to remember them after waking. But she could not suppress the lingering doubt that told her he was lying.
  48. 48. “I do believe that it’s my lucky day.” grinned Hiro as he slammed his cards down on the table. “Oh you are kidding me,” groaned Isildur looking from his father’s hand to his own and then letting them fall dejectedly to the table. “How are you so good at this?” “Weekly poker nights with Ando and your Uncle Horatio,” he said happily, pulling a mound of chips towards him. But you’ll get better son, it’s in your blood. Did you know that your Great Grandmother Farnsworth was once thrown out of a casino for counting cards?” “No! Are you serious?” “Mmmm hmmm,” said Hiro. “She was only eighteen. Of course, by 22 she was already far too senile to be able to keep track of the numbers.” He sighed. “Say, shall we go out tonight? A nice family meal to keep your mother happy?” “Yeah, sounds good.” agreed Isildur “But we’ll have to wait for Ichi and Iago to get home”
  49. 49. Ichigo stopped. “Hey, can you here that?” he asked his twin, who stopped beside him. “Can I hear what?” “That noise. Can you seriously not hear it?” “Evidently.” Iago narrowed his eyes and then continued to walk. “Don’t you want to check it out?” called Ichigo. “What? The imaginary noise?” Iago replied without turning round. “I think I’ll give it a miss.” Ichigo headed in the opposite direction to his brother, towards the unsettling sound.
  50. 50. “What the hell-” The noise was like nothing he had ever heard; his ears tingled as the bizarre sound grew closer. He took a step towards it, but stopped as a small boy dashed into sight, panting and sobbing as he stared, with terror in his eyes, back in the direction he had come from. “Hey kid,” Ichigo called “Are you okay?” The boy did not turn look at him but Ichigo realised suddenly that he was a spirit, which simply made things more confusing. What does a ghost have to be afraid of?
  51. 51. The boy seemed unable to tear his eyes away from whatever was approaching him- the source of the otherworldly noise that sent a peculiar sensation through Ichigo’s body. “Please,” the ghost boy sobbed “Please, don’t. Let me go- please,” “What is it?” called Ichigo, louder this time. “What’s wrong?” But still the child gave no answer, continuing to whimper and tremble as the noise grew closer. Ichigo walked towards him, intending to see for himself the source of the boy’s fear but he froze despite himself when a cold voice spoke.
  52. 52. “You’ve run far, little boy.” The thing- whatever it was- moved towards the child and into Ichigo’s sight. It’s voice seemed to undulate, moving between contradictory tones and lingering in the evening air like smoke. “P-please” begged the boy “Don’t. Leave me alone.” “After I’ve spent so long chasing you?” laughed the creature as the ghost began to wail in fear, covering his face with his arms. Ichigo felt something tighten inside of him. He would not just stand by and let that, that thing do whatever it planned to do to the boy.
  53. 53. He sprinted forwards, skidding to a halt between the creature and his victim. “Leave him alone.” Ichigo growled, struck suddenly by the dark hole in the thing’s chest that seemed to suck light into its centre. “You can see me?” it sounded intrigued. “How interesting... You’ll be dessert.” It smiled- a smile that made Ichigo’s stomach turn- and took a step towards him. But just then there was a cry from somewhere above them and all three of them turned in surprise.
  54. 54. The woman landed lightly on her feet, straightening up and assuming an elegant but intimidating stance. “It’s over.” She swung her sword with a level of ease and proficiency that suggested years of training, holding it vertically in front of her.
  55. 55. The creature hissed at her, its eyes burning. “What infuriating timing.” “Move the boy,” the woman yelled in Ichigo’s direction and, though his gut instinct was to help with the fight, he pulled the child away. The boy sheltered behind a dumpster, shaking and sobbing.
  56. 56. Ichigo turned back just in time to see the woman swing her sword through the air; he thought for a moment that it seemed to leave a trail of light behind it. “Bakudō number 39, Enkosen,” she said evenly, drawing a circle in the air with one hand. The thing began to growl at her, stalking closer with increasing momentum.
  57. 57. She moved with speed that surpassed the ability of Ichigo’s eyes. The next thing he knew, she was several feet closer to the creature, standing side on. It growled again at its attacker, louder this time and Ichigo recognised the sound that had led him into this unreal scene. It began to run towards her and the woman raised her sword, bringing it round in a blaze of blinding white light that conquered Ichigo’s vision. It was all he could see-
  58. 58. Ichigo woke from an uncharacteristically deep sleep with a throbbing headache. Bleary eyed, he took a fuzzy glance at the clock on his bedside table. Strange, I don’t normally sleep this late... Letting out a yawn that the MGM lion would be proud of, he stretched his arms but let them fall abruptly to his sides when he realised that he was fully clothed.
  59. 59. What the hell- He even had his shoes on. He rubbed the sleep from his eyes, wondering vaguely why he was dressed as he was. He tried to think back to when he had gone to bed the night before, but could not remember doing so. The most recent thing he remembered was walking home with Iago... Then hearing that noise and following it and... The surreal events of the night before came back to him like a punch in the gut. Ichigo went over the memories again and again- each time it seemed more ridiculous and yet he only became more certain that it had actually happened.
  60. 60. “I’m telling you it was not a dream.” Ichigo said firmly at breakfast that morning. “It happened. There was the ghost of a little boy, and this- I dunno, this thing chasing him, and then this woman just jumped down from- from somewhere and she had a SWORD, and then she was moving and it was running at her and then there was all this light and then-” Noticing their expressions, he gave up. “It happened.” he repeated, scowling into his cereal. “Maybe you should stay home from school today Ichigo.” suggested Hiro. “Just have a rest.” “Why don’t you believe me?” Ichigo cried.
  61. 61. “I believe you Ichi,” beamed Ichabod. “If you say it happened it happened.” “Thanks Ick, at least you’re reasonable.” his little brother positively glowed with pride for this praise. “Do you believe him Mom?” Ichabod asked Yaeko. “Well-” she began hesitantly. “But it’s not like Ichigo to lie is it?” Ichabod interrupted. Yaeko thought about this for a moment. “You’ve got a point there.” she admitted.
  62. 62. “Exactly,” said Ichigo “You accept that I can see spirits- why don’t you believe me about this?” “What do you think Iago?” asked Ichabod. “I think it’s absolutely absurd.” replied Iago, curtly. “I don’t even believe in ghosts.” “But-” said Ichabod, confused. “But I thought you could see spirits too Iago?”
  63. 63. “Just because I can see them doesn’t mean I have to believe in them.” he said in the same tone. “I’m in permanent denial.” “But-” Ichabod screwed up his face in confusion. “Oh leave him alone Iago.” laughed Yaeko. “Didn’t you see any of this honey?” she asked him. “No.” he said, without turning to look at her. “Like I told you, I came home after Ichigo wandered off.” “And you couldn’t hear the noise he was talking about?” “No, because I’m not insane.” Ichigo ignored him. “It happened.”
  64. 64. “Thanks again for coming Ysabell,” said Hiro. “It’s no trouble,” she smiled. “We’ll be happy to help if we can won’t we Mort?” “Of course, her husband replied. “So how long has Ichigo been able to see spirits?”
  65. 65. “We’re not really sure,” Yaeko replied apologetically, as if she were concerned that this would lead them to judge her as a poor mother. “When they started- Ichigo and Iago that is- they didn’t realise that it was ghosts that they were seeing. “It was only when we found Ichigo talking to someone we couldn’t see one afternoon that we found out that they could do it. Iago has never really taken much interest in it- they irritate him more than anything and we thought that was perhaps the healthiest approach. But Ichigo was exactly the opposite- and now he says he’s seeing other things and...” she trailed off. “We don’t think he’s lying, but it seems...” “Don’t worry,” said Mort reassuringly. “We understand- and it certainly sounds like he’s developing some sort of ability. “But we called Dr Suresh- that is, the doctor who helped Hiro with his power and-” “Oh not that sort of ability.” said Ysabell. “It sounds like he’s developing something more along our line if you know what I mean.”
  66. 66. “You mean, he’s going to be a Shadow Hunter like you guys?” Hiro asked. “Oh that’s just one of many possibilities,” she replied. “There is test he could take, if he was prepared to, that would assess his skills- it’d see what kind of powers he possesses and give him an idea of what he could do with them if he wanted to. And Iago would of course be welcome to take it too.” “Would you recommend it?” “It’s entirely up to them. Why don’t you talk to them about it and the you can-” but she was cut off by the sound of the front door opening. “hey guys, I’m home.” called Ichigo casually as he strolled into the hall.
  67. 67. “Oh,” he said, stopping as he noticed the guests. “I’m sorry, I didn’t realise-” “Don’t be silly,” smiled Yaeko. “I don’t suppose you’ll remember, but this is Mort and Ysabell.” He walked over, ready to shake hands with them both but was trapped in a tight hug before he knew what was happening. “I haven’t seen you since you were a baby,” she laughed. “Look how you’ve grown; I feel so old!” She released him, stepping back and staring at him silently for a while. “Oh yes,” she said, beginning to walk around him. “I’m definitely sensing something here. What do you think Mort?”
  68. 68. Mort gave Ichigo a firm handshake then joined his wife, staring at him intently whilst circling slowly. The effect was really quite unnerving. “Mmmm hmmm,” said Mort thoughtfully. “There’s definitely something there.” “Uh, Mom,” said Ichigo “What’s going on? “We’ll get out of your way,” said Ysabell, walking over to stand beside her husband. “Just give us a call if you need to,” “Thank you,” said Hiro and Yaeko together, getting up to walk them out and leaving Ichigo utterly bewildered.
  69. 69. “HHHYYAAAAH!” Iracebeth sent her ball screaming down towards the nervous pins. “C’mon,” she muttered, “A little to the left- now straigh, straaaiiigght...”
  70. 70. “OH YOU ARE KIDDING ME!” she shouted, outraged as the ball curved suddenly to the right, hitting only four pins. She seized another ball and sent it flying after the first before the machine had even lowered to replace the pins. Those that remained toppled with a mournful clatter. “That’s more like it,” she smiled, her anger had evaporated. After all, this was her party, thrown to celebrate the fact that she would soon be leaving to study at Shiz University.
  71. 71. “You really suck at this Faramir.” she said, without cruelty- it was simply an observation. “Yeah,” he said, watching his ball roll along the gutter. “Sorry about that.” “Oh don’t worry” she said brightly “It’s why I like playing against you; I always win.” Iracebeth had chosen to have a bowling party because it was something she deeply enjoyed. She enjoyed it because she was better at it than anyone she knew. Especially Gabriel, her cousin and Faramir’s older brother who was by far the worst.
  72. 72. Iris had adopted a highly serious approach. “You can do this ball.” she whispered “If you don’t get at least a spare, you will have let the team down, you will have let me down, but most of all, you will have let yourself down.” Yaeko, on the other hand, was just winging it.
  73. 73. And, in typical Yaeko style, was doing very well simply by chucking her ball in the general direction of the pins. “SSSSSTTER-RIKE!”
  74. 74. “-so I’ve decided that I want to take the test.” finished Ichigo. Hiro and Yaeko had explained it to both twins, stressing that it was entirely up to them. Iago muttered something about them wasting his time, returning to his room to do whatever he did in the long hours he spent there, but Ichigo had asked for some time to think about it. “That’s brilliant news,” smiled Ysabell “I really think that this is the right thing for you to do Ichigo. It’s clear that you have great potential- but, once you get your results, you can decide whether you want to pursue that it. It’ll be completely up to you.
  75. 75. It was only a matter of time before the smustling began. Heffalump and Quartz started it, but soon almost everyone had joined in. “Come on Ichigo,” cried Iracebeth. “Er, no thanks,” “Aww come on” “Do you not smustle Ichigo?” asked Louise, a friend of his mother.
  76. 76. “No,” “Why not?” “Because I have too much self respect.” “Ooooh,” laughed Iracebeth, “Bitchy Ichi!”
  77. 77. “Can you believe we’re going to University? In TWO DAYS Rassy?” asked Mirana, her excitement overriding her usual flawless composure. “It’s insane isn’t it?” Iracebeth squealed, hugging her best friend. Just two days and we’re out of here.”
  78. 78. And sure enough, soon she was there. All grown up and settling in to her political science major. She felt at home immediately, laughing at dormies, schmoozing secret society members... University life was great. In addition to Mirana, her cousins Isis (Helena and Demetri’s daughter) and Isseult (Hamlet and Gail’s daughter) had started University at the same time as Iracebeth and were also living in their dorm.
  79. 79. And so too were Coco and Vivienne, Gok and Fernando’s twin daughters. She and Mirana remained as close as ever. Mirana was studying Economics and hoped to find a job in the business career track after graduation.
  80. 80. Iracebeth couldn’t see how she could fail to secure the heirship. She was successful, hard working and ruthlessly determined. It wasn’t even as if her siblings had expressed any real interest in it either. In fact, Iago had even pledged his support. “Oh you should definitely be heir.” he had said in his usual calm voice. “You’re by far the best of us for the job.” “Well obviously,” she agreed. “Yes, it’d be a disaster if one of the others got it. Can you imagine Isildur as heir?”
  81. 81. Iracebeth giggled in amusement- Iago did not laugh, but smiled. “It’s be an utter shambles. But you’ll have to be careful, the others might try and take it the heirship from you.” “But it’s mine!” she sat up in alarm, her voice growing angry. “I’m the eldest! It’s mine!” “I know it is,” his voice was still calm. “Of course it is- and I’ll support you. But be wary of the others, you can’t trust them.”
  82. 82. It was a thought that troubled her. She had always assumed that she would claim the heirship unhindered by her siblings- by anything at all in fact. Iracebeth had certainly never considered that they would dare to plot against her. Iago was right, she had to be vigilant. She pondered her situation, frowning as she lounged on the tired sofa, but was unable to concentrate on her troubles due to the blaring stereo that ‘the strange clown dormie ‘, as she knew him, had just switched on.
  83. 83. She jumped over the back of the sofa, her eyes burning. “YOU.” The dormie halted his slap dance. “Uh,” he said nervously as she stormed towards him. “M- me?” “If you don’t turn that off RIGHT NOW I will shove so much cotton wool down your throat that it will come out your arse like the tail on a playboy bunny.” “I-” “And if you EVER you slap dance with such blatant lack of rhythm and finesse again it would be wise to do so whilst wearing brown trousers and a shirt the colour of blood – UNDERSTOOD?”
  84. 84. Ichigo sat in a long, wood panelled corridor, contemplating the nature of the test he was about to take. Beside him sat a dozen or so others, all around his age, waiting for their name to be called. “I’m so nervous,” said one girl, fidgeting in her seat. “I just know I’m going to mess this up.” “I know how you feel,” said the boy on her left. “I don’t know what my Dad will say if I don’t do well-”
  85. 85. “Isn’t it just a test to see what kind of abilities you have?” Ichigo asked. “I didn’t think it was about ‘doing well’” “Well obviously they’re going to assess how good we are.” said the girl next to him in a slightly patronising tone. “They won’t waste their time with us if we’re useless.” There was a quiet whimper from further down the line. Ichigo frowned, and was about to respond when the door they were waiting to pass through opened.
  86. 86. “Ichigo Marmite?” said the woman who had stepped into the corridor, looking up and down the line. “That’s me,” he stood up and she signalled for him to follow her into the room. “Hey Ichigo,” called the boy who had been next to him. “Give ‘em hell.” Ichigo looked back and nodded in gratitude. “I’ll try.”
  87. 87. And I’ll end this chapter with one of the pictures I shot for the boolprop Hallowe’en screenshot competition, staring dear old Farnsie. I didn’t fit as much into this chapter as I had hoped to, but if I didn’t end here it would have been about 280 slides and would have taken a lot longer to be published. I hope it was at least vaguely enjoyable and thanks for reading. GO TO THE NEXT SLIDE IF YOU’D LIKE TO SEE SOME FUNNY ICHIGO PICS SONGS BY ALKALINE TRIO +RADIOHEAD
  88. 88. As the chapter was largely focussed around Ichigo, there was a high yield of funny pictures- and one HILLARIOUS video. He’s in character for the first pic but spectacularly OOC in the next two. I’m not sure what to make of the one on the right. I do think it’s sweet that he does his Mum’s favourite dance move though.
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