The next morning, Genevieve wakes up for the sake of starting her day. On the night table beside her bed sits her trustworthy digital clock. She has admitted that digital clocks are not actually that bad; it is easier to read Arabic numerals than Roman ones, not to mention clock hands. The sight of it jogs the mage's mind into thinking about the future of the human race. Firstly, people will never learn how to read clock hands, or Roman numerals. Secondly, there will be so much advancement in technology that sorcery will be scarcely, if ever, introduced or mentioned. Lastly. . . second point.
Her mind trailing along, Genevieve grimaces. To her dismay, she knows a few people that are completely clueless when it comes to reading clock hands, let alone Roman numbers. Unfortunately, one of those people is Dakota. Despite that he is the youngest in her family, he was born in a time where clock hands were still used. He must know how to read traditional clocks. That is what Genevieve believes, anyway. Feeling that she has enough thinking, the mage snaps out of her mind to prevent herself from thinking deeper. The black digital clock reads 8:25.
Her skin begins to crawl as something in her mind dawns on her. Genevieve pulls the covers away, swings her legs to the edge of her bed, and springs into action. Her first stop is her closet. She opens the closet door quickly, carelessly pulls out the garment her eyes lay on first—a maroon robe with golden yellow accents—and tosses it on her bed. She finds a matching mage hat and hurls it to the robe. The sorceress undresses herself from her soft blue nightgown, equips her plain white undergarment, and then slips into her robe. It is somewhat troublesome for her to wear a thin, cotton suit underneath, especially at a time like this.
Genevieve rushes to the bathroom to brush her jet black locks, straightening her hair to be tied into a ponytail later. Never will she forget to wash the dirt off of her face, nor her teeth. She greatly dislikes morning breath. After she is satisfied with her appearance—which she has no time to evaluate today—she dashes back into her room, puts on her hat, grabs her spellbook and shoves it in her book bag. The mage swings the adjustable strap over her shoulder, and snatches her staff before ushering herself out of the red-orange house. . . Only to hastily hustle back upstairs and rummage through her closet for her blood red scarf before leaving. She claims the item as her "trademark", and will never go anywhere without it. Without a moment's hesitation, Genevieve haphazardly wraps the cloth around her neck, runs back downstairs—rolling down the carpeted steps at one point—puts on her red knee length boots, and finally steps outside. Then, the mage seal the door with her magic. She hops onto her staff and takes off, as a witch does with her magic broom.
It takes her around ten minutes on her flying broom—er, staff—to get to Marissa's place, and almost half an hour on foot. Luckily, Genevieve was calm enough to think of using her staff than sprinting all-out as if her house was about to explode. When the sorceress' staff slowly lowers to the ground, she gets off, one foot after the other. She dispels the enchantment on the object, and presses the doorbell.
Marissa's house has the same structure as Genevieve's, but painted sky blue over the door and the garage doors. Unlike majority of the residents in Startop Metropolis, the Blades never have cars, or any vehicle to park in the garages, so the garage is merely a second storage room for them. Only one of the Blades actually own a car—and have a driver's license.
There is a click on the door, and opens to reveal an emotionless, silent Frostblade. Right away, Genevieve knows that Marissa knows she is late. Glancing at the snowflake wall clock behind Marissa, the clock hands show 8:47.
"Come in," is all Marissa said. It is not to anyone's surprise; she knows things, but does not openly point out anything unless that is called for.
Genevieve smiles, with a hint of bitterness. "Thanks." Sometimes, she is glad that Marissa is who she is now. Her distant and quiet nature makes it easy for the mage to prank her two cousins and get away without being told on. She got told on twice, just for the tattle-tale to find out that the boys already knew. Other times, Genevieve's tricks were legitimate pranks, and the ice mage never said a word about any of them.
Marissa closes the door and seals it with her magic as Genevieve flops on the ombre sofa in the guest room. The minute Marissa walks to the kitchen, a loud thud quakes the marble tiled floor. A muffled groan follows after.
"Dakota, use the steps next time," Marissa orders. Her voice is raised, but not to the point it becomes a shout.
Genevieve cocks her head to the fallen body. "That idiot is here, too?"
Upon hearing that familiar voice, the albino jumps back on his feet, bolts wildly towards the sofa, and dives at the source. She scoots over quickly, enough to allow the animal to land on her legs. Her next idea will be pushing him off the furnishing.
"Can't I at least give you a hug?" Dakota plead. "Don't turn into cold Marissa!" Whether the distant sorceress hears that or not, Genevieve does not know. If she takes offense from his comment, she will show no indication.
There was a time in Marissa's life when she was more open and warm. She would give hugs, and be willing to receive them. She had friends, too. The ice mage had everything going for her, until the day she told a friend one of her biggest secrets. Unfortunately, the friend told her friends, then they told their friends, and so on. From then on, Marissa drew back, isolated herself, and disappeared from their lives.
Genevieve scowls at first, then curls her lips. She has an idea, but Dakota is not aware. "Oh, all right," she finally says, "just o—"
Before she finishes her sentence, the boy quickly pulls Genevieve closer and embraces her. For a guy with not much build, he can almost immobilize anyone with his usual bear hug. Secretly, with the blade end in her hand, Genevieve swiftly thrusts it at his left breast. The moment Dakota feels rushing air, he falls back. At the sight of Genevieve's doing, his emotions of happiness and relaxation switches to confusion, slight irritation, and anger in a matter of seconds. The wicked sorceress can see the invoking feelings, and feels no guilt for it.
"Get a brain that lets you know better," Dakota snarls. Small puffs of smoke blows from his nostrils, emphasizing his annoyance. "A nice hug and a stab are two different things."
Genevieve pretends to pay no attention to his suggestion."If you're going to start acting like a heater, can you turn yourself off?" she asks sarcastically. "Anyhow"—putting down her staff, with the crimson dragon's head facing Dakota—"You didn't let me finish what I was going to say, so that annoyed me. For your information, 'a hug' and 'a stab' are synonyms in my dictionary." Dakota glances down at his black and red t-shirt. A cut from Genevieve's staff is visible on the fabric.
Dakota heaves out an impatient sigh and quietly pouts. His anger is visible in his voice. "Now Marissa has to sew it back together." Genevieve rolls her eyes, and thinks he sounds childish when he uses that tone.
"I'm not your mother, Dakota," Marissa can be heard from the kitchen. Even though she dislikes doing favours for other people, her voice is as cool and calm as ever. "I'll sew it for you, then give you some lessons."
The air in the guest room begins to cool when Marissa makes a calm entrance, carrying her staff and spellbook. "Are you ready?" she asks. Both mages nod, and together they leave the building as if nothing has happened. Genevieve and Dakota goes back to behaving themselves, knowing what consequences awaits them if they get into fights within the public eye. With specks of ice magic twirling around Marissa's pale fingers, she casts a lock spell on her house, and the magical bits disappears into the door.
Once the trio steps foot into the industrious part of Startop, they immediately get down to business. Marissa, Dakota, and Genevieve visits several stores to purchase decorations for the family reunion. Marissa does most of the purchasing, and Dakota and Genevieve picks out the supplies. With teal eyes boring no interest in anything, the ice mage is not willing to choose decorations. While they are walking, Dakota chirps away like a happy bird about girls he met, how beautiful they all are—in descriptive detail—while Genevieve make vile attempts to silence him. One time, she summons her red scorpion to toss it into Dakota's mouth, with people staring, but the creature simply vanishes out of disgust before the deed is done. Every now and then, the cold ice mage does what she does best: shut both of their traps up. When it looks like things have settled (Marissa has her ways of knowing), she frees them from her icy shackles of discipline. The process repeats itself between almost every store they visit.
Some time at midday, the three mages stops at one of the wooden benches that are scattered across the area. The sun reaches its peak at this time, as hot rays beam on the top of their heads, and on exposed skin. Marissa checks her leather maroon pouch, leaving Dakota complaining about the strong ultraviolet light and Genevieve teasing him with her witch hat. The moment the ice mage looks up sharply with glaring eyes, both children stops.
"There's a café near here," Marissa states, "I may have enough money to buy lunch for you guys. What do you want?"
"One baguette for me!" Dakota pipes.
"I'll have a smoothie, thanks," Genevieve says.
"What flavour?" Marissa inquires.
Marissa seals her pouch, and thrusts her staff at Dakota, who reacts with a confused look as he grabs it. Without any word of explanation or reasoning, or change in expression, she hurries down the sidewalk to the café. Genevieve cracks a grin at the pyromancer. "Marissa entrusts you with her power of ice, idiot."
The boy glares at the mischievous sorceress. "I-I'm not an idiot!" he stutters. ". . . It's the first time that Marissa actually displays any sign of trust in a long while." Softening to a hollow face, Dakota skims over the ice staff, from the glimmering quartz to the sharpened end. "I never expected her to trust me."
Both of them stand in silence when a light, warm breeze blows through the clear, blue sky, briefly picking up the fluttering tails of Genevieve's scarf. The atmosphere that captivates two Blade kinfolk blocks out the rest of the world: birds singing, people communicating, and cars zooming by. Seconds after the reflection, Genevieve fiddles with the rim of her hat. "We'll never know. Marissa really is a mystery. It's sad that nobody has her figured out yet."
"Not even you?"
"Hold your dragon wings, pal. I'm still getting down to it. Since no one even bothers for a competition to solve the heart, mind and soul of that 'nobody'—"
The term she uses to label Marissa encourages Dakota to swing the staff at Genevieve's head. Simply taking a step back, his move is a clean miss.
"Getting fired up now, are we?" The mage calmly asks. "Knock yourself out with Nobody's frosty staff, maybe that will cool you off." That sarcastic suggestion makes Dakota grit his teeth. Other than that, he does not make a move this time.
"Marissa's not a Nobody," Dakota protests. His golden eyes change from gleaming playfully to burning beads, with flames that have yet to grow into infernos. "At least I
recognize her. You're the biggest Nobody that anyone has ever known!"
Out of nowhere, the ground jumps for half a second. Then, a bolt of electricity instantly darts down from upwards. The unusual appearance of lightning intends to strike Genevieve; however, she skips a few steps away from her position, resulting in a black mark on the pavement. The diameter of the impact is big enough to char off a portion of the wooden bench, with bits of burnt, black wood flying. The blue lightning and the brief quake secretly surprises the two teens, despite that they know the source of this phenomenon.
"Who called Marissa a 'nobody'!?"
Genevieve and Dakota turns to the low, rough voice. Simultaneously, many people, if not all, in the scene does the same. Curious, fearful, irritated, shocked, and neutral pairs of eyes from strangers—and cousins—meet the stormy purple eyes of a tall man with long brown hair and tan skin. His white long sleeve shirt is rolled up to his forearms, wearing black trousers and a grey belt.
The newcomer approaches Genevieve and Dakota, keeping his hard eyes locked on them, as if they are his prey. Even though it does not seem like it, the albino is shaking, while the black haired girl slowly gulps. In their family, nobody messes with Hunter Stormblade—nor with anything or anyone he holds dear. Mess something up with him—or something of his—and you will get wallopped in the head. . . If you are lucky.
"I'll punch the juice out of both of ya if I don't get an answer." With hands on his hips, Hunter intensely stares down at his two younger cousins.
"If you think saying that makes you look cool, that's not going to attract you any girls," Dakota muses. "On the other hand, Genevieve is responsible for that insult." When Hunter spins his head to look at Genevieve, she is already retreating in the air with her staff. Inwardly, Dakota feels relieved; his older cousin ignored his remark prior to mentioning Genevieve. Otherwise, he would have been fried.
The young adult breaks out into a sprint, pursuing the fleeing witch. He is faster than most thugs in the city, it sometimes make the Blades incredulous, even Marissa. Sparks of blue lightning flies around him as he magically conjure up several lightning bolts in his hands. "Ge-ne-vieeeeve!" Hunter aims his bolts and throws them at his target, while yelling out curses and threats. Genevieve simply smirks at the angry madman and evades all of his attacks as if gliding gracefully in the air. Due to this, the bolts damage residential property. She allows him to chase her through the city twice. . . without taking a single blow from the power. The mage sheepishly looks down at the running and screaming people below; it is a shame to use the entire community as an escape hatch from the pursuit of the roughest resident.
When the mage returns to the meeting place with Dakota, she suddenly flies from her enchanted staff and lands on the ground hard. Fortunately, the impact does not affect any of her body's vital points, despite the pain that shoots down from her torso to her feet, and all around. She winces as her eyes dart around, looking for her staff. Her staff is in good condition as it strikes the ground, landing a few feet across from her with a clang! Genevieve quickly figures that she must have got hit by Hunter's bolts.
Hunter has his eyes on the sorceress' staff the whole time; he stomps on the neck of the casting item with a loud thud. Considering his strength, anyone will be surprised that it does not break from the force. "No way I'm giving you your staff back," he coldly says. With a weave of his slightly meaty hand, he creates a new sparking lightning bolt, and aims its tip at helpless Genevieve. With the situation now in his favour, Hunter cracks a smile, for the first time in weeks; he only does this when he is about to finish a foe. His sharp, pearl white teeth is exposed between his lips. "I've finally go—"
Marissa has returned from the café. She stands beside Dakota, with her staff in one hand and the purchased lunch in the other. Her eyes remain cold and unflinching as she heaves out a sigh of relief. "Thank goodness you two are okay." As Genevieve rises to her feet, the ice mage simultaneously turns to Hunter. "Have you gotten into any trouble lately?"
"No." After taking a glance at the staff his foot rests on, he continues, "I've been working out lately. Read a few books. . . Never bumped into those street thugs." The sorceress notices his expression softening to his usual blank one. His tone is smoother now, too. It is nothing new to Genevieve; she knows Hunter has respect for the dutiful ice mage.
Marissa strides to the staff clamped by the black sole of Hunter's shoe, and merely pulls it out. The smooth, swift movement that frees the staff makes it seem like she has done it effortlessly. Hunter cannot help but blush; he feels embarrassed when his relative is stronger than him. Not a very tall girl at that, too. Genevieve giggles, though the sound is too soft to be heard.
Handing Genevieve her staff respectively, Marissa digs around in the paper bag for a custard bun, and silently offers it to the seventeen year old. He shakes his head and looks away. "I'm fine, thanks."
"Will you come to Roundtree to help us, bro'?" The albino boy asks.
Hunter's facial expression hardens slightly. "I can't, kid. I have to show up at a street showdown." Dakota bit the inside of his cheek, while giving an expression that yells 'I'm not a kid!'. Fortunately, his cousin does not always call him that. Actually, they barely even talk to each other. Given the fact that Hunter is the oldest among the Blades, he treats the remaining three as mere children, with Marissa being the only exception from his treatment.
The man takes a glance over his shoulder before muttering "Later." He waves his hand, and starts heading towards an intersection. He will soon arrive at a small neighbourhood not far from the industrious parts. Hunter always fight in quieter areas; out in the city will hurt many innocent citizens.
"For a guy who lived around thugs, he keeps a good body posture," Genevieve comments, sneaking a wink to Marissa. "You're lucky he likes you more than any of us. If the entire world challenges him to a fight—and you're on our side—he won't lay his big boned hands on you. Even if you follow along with the rest of us."
"I have to make him like me," the ice kinfolk quietly replies, "Nobody will be capable of keeping him under control if he doesn't love anyone." She hands out the requested food items to Genevieve and Dakota for lunch, then fishes out her custard bun. "It's already past noon, and we were suppose to be at Roundtree Park at this time. The café has a lot of customers today; I'm sorry to keep you waiting. Sit on the bench; hurry and eat. We'll be on our way afterwards."