Ever After

"Now swing!"

"Agh!" Shaine yelled. The sword he held in his hands arched forward, but missed by a hair.

"No, no, no! You're form is off."

"Daddy!" Korisa shouted. "Mommy wants you to come inside and help her with the dishes!"

"What? What for?"

"You know Mommy, Daddy!" Korisa said matter-of-factly. "Mommy doesn't like to do dishes. It dries her hands out!"

"Right, right…." The father smiled to himself, and began walking to the house behind them. "Shaine, don't forget to practice your form!" he added before he entered the house.

"Yeah, yeah. Practice, my foot!" Shaine said with disgust. He dropped the sword he had been holding for 4 hours straight and sat down against a tree trunk. "Why must I practice every day for so long…."

"Daddy said you have to be strong, or else the bad guys will come again." Korisa walked up to Shaine and spread her arms as far as they could go.

"You mean the bandits?" Shaine said plainly. "Geez, those guys are a bunch of pushovers. I can take them with my eyes closed." Shaine looked up at the clear sky and sighed. "Besides, I don't need to be strong. Dad and Mom already saved the world, right? Doesn't peace mean that we don't have to fight anymore?"

"Daddy said there will always be bad guys trying to take over the world!" Korisa put one foot on top of the trunk. With her chest forward, she beat it with her fist and looked proudly out into the world. "We have to round up those bad guys, and teach them the justice with our fists!"

"Geez, Korisa! You hang out with Auntie Mel and Auntie Mavi too much," Shaine complained. "Give it a rest, while ya?" But Korisa didn't listen. She stood on top of the tree trunk and looked downward at Shaine.

"Hey, hey!" Korisa took out a toy wand. "Shaine, let's play Rym-and-Witch again! I'll be the witch, and-"

"And I'm the rym, right?" Shaine groaned and stood up. "Look, Korisa…" He turned to face her and tell her off. "Ryms and witches are not real."

"But…but Daddy said he was a rym! And Mommy said she was a witch!" Tears began welling up in Korisa's eyes. "M-Mommy even has a wand, and Daddy has-"

"Do you ever see Mom use magic?" Shaine saw doubt in his little sister's eyes.

"No…" Korisa said, drawing out the "O". "But, but Mommy said that magic shouldn't be taken for granted! She said…"

Shaine pulled up his right arm sleeve and placed it right in front of her face. "Do I look like a dragon to you?" he asked, almost forcefully.

"No…" Korisa repeated.

"Then ryms and witches don't exist!" Shaine said with baffling logic. "It's only a fairytale that Dad and Mom like to tell us when we go to sleep. It's not real, Korisa!" He sighed to himself and sat back down.

"You…You're wrong!" Korisa shouted. "And I'm gonna prove it!"

"Oh really?" Shaine asked mockingly. "And how are you going to do it?"

"I…I'm going to Lethe Forest!" She said it with hesitant conviction.

"Fine. Go there," Shaine said uncaringly. "But remember…" He showed her the scariest face that he could muster. "There's a big scary monster that'll eat you if you go…."

"I-I'm not afraid of any monsters!" Korisa said with little tears in her eyes. "I'll show you, Shaine!" He didn't look back, but heard her footsteps growing silent into the woods.

'Hmph! Serves her right!' he thought. 'I'm not a little kid anymore! I don't believe in fairytales!'

Then, a few moments passed. Then minutes. By the time 5 minutes have passed, Shaine grew worried.

"She's probably going to come crying right back, any second now…" he told himself. "Korisa is such a baby! Crying all the time, and believing in fairytales…But not me! I'm a big kid now! I know that ryms and witches don't exist!" Silence replied him. The seconds ticked on by. Shaine occasionally looked back at the trees, wondering if Korisa will ever show. "She's probably about to pop out the woods….now!" But she didn't. And the time flew by.

"Maybe I should check on her…" Shaine said. "Yeah, I'm her big brother after all. Maybe she's all alone, crying and she can't find her way back." He nodded as if to convince himself. "Yeah, that must be it. Th-there's no way that the scary monster got to her. Yep." He nodded again, and began to stand up. "Okay, time to go…"

Shaine looked at the forest hesitantly. The darkness inside them taunted his fears. He turned around, thinking that he could trick himself to change his mind. But then…

"Ahh!"

A shriek cry pierced the sky above.

"Korisa!" Shaine yelled. He quickly picked up his sword and ran. "Korisa!"