A knock on the door sent a shock through Bar-Reuel’s body. He straightened, tense and alert, expecting trouble. He knew there was no need to be worried. His family lived in a small village in the countryside, amongst peaceful, friendly folk. Still, he thought, those “friendly” folk should be in their peaceful beds at this hour.
Another knock echoed through the room, terse and determined. Bar-Reuel rose slowly, breathed in, and strode to the door. Ever since he had had an argument with his brother four days ago, he had been on edge. Now, the birth of his twin sons just two hours ago had just about pushed him over. Stay composed, he commanded himself as his shaking hand reached for the doorknob, if only for their sake.
He pushed the door open harder than he realized, and it passed within an inch of his older brother’s nose. The tall, strong man on the porch didn’t lose his composure for a moment. Instead, he stepped forward and nodded a greeting to his brother. “Good evening, Bar-Reuel.”
“It’s practically morning,” Bar-Reuel snapped back. “What are you doing here, Jared?”
“I’m here to see my nephews,” Jared responded. “Am I not welcome?”
“You are always welcome,” Bar-Reuel sighed, “But your government masters are not. And I have the feeling that they are the real reason that you’re here.”
Jared’s deep blue eyes closed under the weight of his brother’s rejection, but when they opened again all traces of pain had been replaced by a withdrawn, formal gaze. “If this is how you want it…” he began slowly.
“You know that this is not what I want!” Bar-Reuel interjected. “But this is the way things are, and I refuse to pretend otherwise. I thought that I had already made that clear.”
“Very well,” Jared replied. “You know that your sons are special. I tried to warn you of the measures we would have to take if you chose to marry Korina, but you would not listen. Now, the time has come to take action. If the Eirkhan and their forces ever got hold of both of your children, it would mean the end of all that we have fought to preserve! This, too, is the way things are, and I do not want it. But none of us can afford to pretend, brother. Would you have your family save the world or destroy it?”
“I would have them left alone!” Bar-Reuel cried.
A look of compassion and regret filled Jared’s face. “It is too late for that now,” he whispered, almost to himself. “We could change your memories, erase these past months and give you a fresh start, but you, your wife, and your sons must be separated.”
“You will not enter our minds, and you will not split us apart!” Bar-Reuel raged. “You act is if this means nothing to you, Jared! You are my brother! They are your nephews for goodness sake! Don’t you care that you are destroying my family?”
“They are not truly yours, Bar-Reuel,” Jared stated. “They never were. They are government property. You knew that before you married Korina, why do you deny it now?”
“Your tales of an ‘experiment’ are lies, Jared,” Bar-Reuel spat, “and they grow old! You are jealous, you always have been! You loved Korina, and you were angry that she chose me over you! So was Marcus, and it drove him to darkness. But you, you are too good, too strong, too righteous to do such a thing, so you spun your webs and you plotted your revenge with the blessing of the queen and a swelling of patriotism in your heart. Well you could not separate us before, and you will not now! I will kill you if I must, Jared, but you will not touch Korina or my sons!”
Jared stared for a long moment into his brother’s eyes, searching for some weakness, some hope that he would not have to use force. None came. Jared closed his eyes, hung his head, and raised his hand in the air. “So be it,” he whispered, and his hand dropped.
TO BE CONTINUED…