I'm a busy little Beedrill, arren' I? ;B
Anyway, this is a great place to pick up again if you haven't read the first four books, because, everything has to be re-explained in the exposition of Game anyway. However, the target audience of this comment probably will never read it, so I'll just shut up now and post. ;B~
And, as always, book order:
The Right Hand of the Dragon:
I: The Story of the Roses (1-17)
II: The Antics of the Roses (18-34)
III: Tokyo (35-48)
IV: Ecruteak (49-80)
V: A Little Game of Life (1-10)
The Left Hand of the Dragon:
VI: 2436 (1)
VII: The Cimmerian
VIII: The Bamboo Dragon
IX: Fade to Black
X: Epilogue (Rose-X)
Chapter One: Razor Leaves or Knives?
"Rr, take that! And that! Haha!" The barrage flew at the fiendish Kangaskan and it fell over after three hits. "Haha!"
I laughed to myself, getting up to set my Pokémon toys back up and pick up the Razor Leaves from my toy Oddish. Target practice is fun, especially when you compete with your friends during recess. I may not have the greatest success in knocking my targets down, but I can still hit them nine times out of ten.
"Whatcha doing?" Matt called in through the cracked door. He saw the melée and chuckled, inviting himself in. "You're having another competition during recess this Friday, aren't you?"
"Maybe..." I mumbled. He was going to try to talk me out of it again, I knew it.
"You're not betting anything this time, are you?"
"Just my next evolution kit for my Oddish...."
He flopped down on the bed and his blond hair fell from his shoulders to hang freely to the sides of his face. He looked at me, his bright green eyes smiling at me. "You know very well that wagers like that always get you mixed up in trouble, T.K.," he chided.
He mussed my brown hair and I squealed, wriggling away from him. "It's my allowance, and it's my game. Why should it be business of yours?" I pouted.
"You're my little bro," he replied. "It's my job to look out for ya."
"Could you not do your job so well?" I whined.
He laughed. "Just make sure you weigh your chances before you wager anything as important to you as that. Don't make yourself regret it later."
I sighed. "You always take the fun out of it, you know that?"
"It's my job," he chuckled, standing up again.
"But you said that looking out for me was your job," I complained, putting my Oddish and other Pokémon toys up.
"So I have more than one job. Sue me." He mussed my hair again and I pushed his hand off my head, grumbling with a frown. "It's almost dinnertime. Go get washed up."
"What're we having?"
"Ooh," I smiled, running to the bathroom sink to wash my hands.
Matt and I came downstairs, our noses following the awesome smell of dinner.
"Don't just stand there," Mom muttered, tending to mashed potatoes. "Set the table, you two." She paused. "Your father won't be eating with us, though, so it'll be the three of us tonight."
"Why not?" I chirped, digging out the utensils from the drawer.
"He... doesn't feel well..." she replied, slightly upset.
"Will he be okay?" I continued.
From the uneasiness I sensed that my questions only made it worse.
"He'll be fine, T.K.," Matt explained solemnly, pulling plates out of the cabinet.
I didn't ask anything else, knowing that I could just ask them when we sat down.
"Pass the salad, please," I asked, then received. "Thanks." Getting a few forksful, I topped it with a cherry tomato and set the bowl to the side of me, then covered it in Ranch dressing, smiling contentedly.
Matt and Mom both were quiet and tended only to their plates. Though they seemed only to be picking at their meal, their mouths sure seemed too full of something.
"How was your day at school, Matt?" Mom began, knowing that their silence was making me as uneasy as the two of them were.
"It made me wonder just how much Uncle Toshi hates me," he replied, stabbing the tomato in his salad. It squirted his potatoes and he mumbled. "The first thing he said to me today was 'Paper. Friday.'"
"What did you do?" she began, complaintive.
"All I did was catch him by surprise. He was so happy to see me today that he accidentally spilled his coffee on him. Hehe...." He laughed nervously.
"What have I told you about not sneaking up on your uncle?" she whined. "He's got enough problems as it is dealing with all those kids at Tech." She sighed, looking to me. "How was your day, Takeru?"
"Well..." I began, piddling with my fish, "me an' the guys have been playing with our figurines a lot lately...."
She made a face. "Don't tell me you boys have been betting again."
"Mom, it's part of playing! You're supposed to wager money on a Pokémon battle; why not get into the tradition before I'm given my Pokémon?"
"Just because betting on the outcome of battles is customary doesn't mean that I'm going to let my eight-year-old son bet all his allowance on some silly games."
"Aw Mom, they're not silly!"
"You know that I disprove of any toys that teach children to want to battle Pokémon."
I pouted. "They're battling creatures by nature, Mom! You can't deny that fact!"
"The concept of battling Pokémon in such manners is a human concept, not the Pokémon's. Most Pokémon don't even battle unless they're testosterone-driven males trying to show off or prove themselves." She snorted. "Pokémon trainers exist for the same reasons—kids love to brag that their Pokémon are the best in the world."
"If it's one thing you've got going for you, Mom, it's your ability to win debates," Matt smiled, knowing he'd gotten his job done.
A silence passed that ate me alive. "I want to know what's wrong with Daddy," I began, giving them a serious look.
They ignored me.
"Tell me why he's not eating with us!" I continued, leaning on the table.
"He isn't himself tonight, Takeru," Mom stated quietly. "Please calm down."
"What's that supposed to mean?!" I squeaked.
"He isn't physically ill, T.K.," Matt replied, sighing solemnly. "He has problems that he can't deal with sometimes. He's just... sorting through them right now."
"I should have known that he'd be like this," Mom remarked. "It's been too long since his last breakdown."
"So you're telling me that Daddy's just upset over something, and that he can't seem to quit being upset over it?"
"That's one way of putting it," Matt uttered.
"Can't we do something to cheer him up...?"
"No, sweetie," Mom replied. "He needs to be alone when he gets like this. Bothering him endangers both himself and us."
She squirmed at the confession she'd just made to her young son and nervously tried to change the subject. "Your ninth birthday's coming up, Takeru.... Have you thought what you want?"
I ignored her question for a moment, finishing the meal set out on my plate. Pushing it away, trying to contain my anger, I stood quietly, not looking to either of them. "Yes."
"What might that be?"
".... The truth." With that, I left the dining room table in silence and went upstairs to my room, laid down, and slept.
I woke up later that night at the sound of the door creaking open slightly. The room was completely dark except the moonlight from the window, so I figured it had to be around midnight; Matt was asleep above me on the top bunk of the bed, so it wasn't him, and nothing was stirring downstairs, so I figured Mom had gone to bed, too. Thinking upon these things, I wondered if Dad was still awake and watched the crack in the door to see if someone were there, or if it had just been the air conditioning.
After staring into the hall for a moment, the door opened just a bit wider, and a shuffle of clothing was heard. I saw a pair of golden, glowing eyes in the hall and took in a scared breath, pulling myself away from the bedroom door as possible. Whatever was there had heard I was awake and freaked. Not a moment later it was gone. I didn't hear any footsteps leading away from the door, nor did I hear any foosteps trailing down the staircase.
I thought the situation over for a time before considering that it might have just been my imagination. Then I shook the notion and badgered myself for trying to deny what I'd seen, getting out of bed quietly as not to wake Matt up. I slowly creeped out into the upstairs hall, then slunk silently down the stairs and turned the corner to the left to find that Dad's studio door was indeed closed; however, upon trying to open the door, it was unlocked; I saw a light from beneath the door. It had never been unlocked before, at least to my knowledge.
I heard quiet mumbling from inside; the voice was dark and deep, and its owner seemed to have something on his mind. "Kirei," he whispered. "Atashi o aishiteiru.... Atashi no bondo o kitsuku.... Mata... atashi no kao o kiru.... Nn, hai...." He sighed contentedly.
I opened the door slowly to discover a dark figure looming over a doll on the desk, a single lamp illuminating his work. The pale female porcelain doll, proudly in the shape of a woman, wore straight black hair, though roughly half of it, in patches, had been ripped out in distress. The doll's eyes had one been pulled out, the other glued shut, the sockets of which had been crushed in. It didn't wear much aside from an outfit made of leather straps, and had been thus strapped down to the desk by her own clothing. The artist wielded in his left hand a paintbrush, his right, a knife. With one he inflicted deep cuts upon the poor doll, while, with the other, he added, with shocking realism, the look of blood flowing from the wounds.
He saw me watching him and whirled to face me, dropping the brush in an instant and stabbing the doll through the chest with great vehemence, shattering her torso. His shining glare matched what I'd seen from my bed minutes earlier.
A silence passed in my fright. This man looked as though he were one of the living dead, his complexion paler than any I'd ever seen. His long black hair was scraggly and thinned, streaked with a mad silver that mirrored his body movements; he wore a sleeveless black gown and binding leather straps similar to his victim's; as he stood, I saw his hands wielded sharp clawlike fingernails, and, as he opened his mouth to speak, I knew he must have been a vampire from his long fangs.
In the instant before he spoke, I felt a sense of impending doom wash over me, seeing that he had pierced ears and a pierced right eyebrow like my father's.
My father... was a monster....