“Thank ya ma’am.”

Long tanned fingers wrapped around the tall paper cup, steam slowly rising from the small opening at the top as the container passed from one hand to the other. Reaching into the pocket of her denims the redhead took out a $5 bill and popped it into the tip jar, her natural pink lips turning up into a smile as the barista started a rounding chorus of cheers at her generosity. Nodding her head the tall female turned and headed for the door, bringing the cup of rich coffee to her lips. The brew was hot and dark, a fragrant mixture of roasted coffee beans and only the slightest bit of milk tinged with the bitterness of espresso. Mixed together it was a cup of heaven, the perfect pairing to greet the dawn.

Pushing through the door she strolled over to Jasper, the huge Percheron standing patiently in a parking spot with not a thing to tie him up or keep him stationary. The horse nickered a greeting, shifting from foot to foot and tossing his head for he knew what was coming. Laughing lightly Aurantia reached into her pocket and pulled out the sugar cubes the young lady inside the store had given her. Flattening out her hand she held out the offering, drinking her coffee as Jasper enjoyed his morning treat. It was one of the reasons the redhead liked coming to this particular coffee shop, it was a small independent business that employed good people. Located on the edge of town they didn't mind her riding in and from her first visit made sure she left with a little something for her horse.

Nodding at a few other early birds who smiled in awe at the sight of a gigantic horse parked in the parking lot, the southern woman took another sip of her coffee. Normally she would take a seat out on the patio and enjoy watching the sunrise, cooling her heels for an hour or so before heading out onto the farm for the second round of chores. Today was different though, today she had a purpose and a destination in mind. Sighing Tia patted Jasper on the neck, clicking her tongue once in a signal that the Percheron knew well, lifting his front hoof off the ground. In a lithe and graceful move she stepped a boot on his lifted leg, altering the flow of gravity to help her up and onto his back without spilling a single drop of her coffee. It was a maneuver the pair of them knew well, more for show than actual need as she could easily just step on the air to hoist herself astride but people were watching.

Taking a hold of the reigns the redhead tapped her heels against his muscular sides, guiding him out of the parking lot and down the road toward the manor. At this time of the morning most of the Aspects and Guards would still be sleeping, which she was counting on. The last thing she wanted or needed was another run in with Venetus. No, this morning she had her sights set on another sibling, a sister who she was hoping would help her out with a special gift.

Thank the gods she and Malva had a good relationship, the pair of them having long ago accepted each others quirks and acknowledged strengths. Mal had always been a colorful character and Tia loved her free spirit, the female Aspect of Magic had a tenacity that most saw as eccentric and even caused some to avoid her. Even fear her. Granted when you were prone to shooting darts of an experimental nature you tended to make people uneasy. Grinning as a particular memory surfaced, of a young Mal shooting darts at initiates who immediately began dancing uncontrollably. She and Aureus had died of laughter, much to the detriment of the recruits and under the disapproving stare of Venetus.

Shaking her head Tia sipped her coffee as the ride to the manor passed in pleasant silence. Once outside she slipped down, patting Jasper as he headed towards off onto the grounds to graze. Slipping a hand in her pocket the redhead walked through the house, her boots making little sound against the marble as she weaved her way to Malva’s rooms. Knocking lightly three times she paused and then turned the knob, pushing through the door, “Ya better be decent ‘cause I'm comin’in.”

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Malva wasn't used to being pushed nor prodded on. Not by any of her siblings, so not by anyone, ever. This was the first for her in quite a while. Much like what Tia said, the Aspect of Elements was right on that one thing. They were fighting amongst themselves, while not being so forward to one another, it was there and anyone would be stupid not to sense it off them. Year by year passed and not only did they start to deteriorate in the sibling bond that was supposed to keep them controlled and strong, they were slowly drifting apart. And it seems like neither one of them actually had the initiative to fix it. Well, with the exception of Argent and Aurantia. Those two are still trying to wrap around the whole prospect of their family falling apart. But everyone was adamant in their own ways, she was too.

After the fall of the Isle of Skye, things changed. Drastically. And even Malva knew it didn't stir to a good place. It kept them in this whirlpool of not knowing anything else. Someone played them and the mystery of the tragic incident still remained, despite being 2 years ago, almost reaching up to 3. Instead of banding together to find the said culprit, they went their separate ways to deal with their individual problems by their own. Each one of them had something to worry over, and unfortunately, it bears a striking resemblance to that of harboring secrets from one another. The Aspect of Magic knew she was to blame for this too. She had a few secrets under her sleeves too, one not even her siblings seemed to have knowledge of.

Things were not looking good for them. At the time where they needed to be stronger than ever, they were being rendered weak instead. No wonder Tia went full steam regarding this. No one else was going to, so someone had to. “When you're immortal, forever seemed to be such a catastrophic and devastating idea. You never know when the time will come. If it's tomorrow or just in a few hours from now.” she murmured silently and glanced over to her sister. When Malva said Tia was the glue of their family, she was not kidding. After all of that, it does seem that the youngest was the most rational and wise at times. Maybe it was the outside air too. Tia moved out a while ago, leaving the toxicity airing in the manor.

The moment she heard one particular phrase coming out from Tia, she stared at the horizon. It was beautiful. Words did hurt her better than any physicality ever did. Malva was never good with words. She throws them around harshly following her abrasive nature, but could never actually receive them from anyone else. It was a one-way drive. “Getting hurt is a part of life.. Is there any end to the pain, then?” Resentment drives deep, and for the Aspect of Magic, she was just getting started. The exhaustion and paranoia sets in her, plaguing her mind with the worse that has yet to come. “Would we ever get a break.” she questioned, her tone indicating she was just asking this out of general terms. They've lived a long life, struggling at every corner, every single day.

Something happened. They were knocked down. They got back up and get back to fixing. And then something else happened where they were knocked down once again. The cycle was never-ending and she wondered if that's just the way things were. At least, for them. “All I know, is that I'm not going to be the one who calls for any family intervention. Our brothers are way too grumpy for me to handle right now. One of these days, I might actually hex one of them just for the sake of it.” Scrunching her nose up in annoyance, she did keep an update on what her big brothers did. She just didn't intervention personally and only observed from afar. But if she was getting this from Tia, they had to get it too. Tia was right, enough was enough.

She was slightly taken aback by the question she posed. “What do I want to do? I don't know.. You do realize this is like my first time here, right? The only other places I actually go to, is the hospital, my room and the library at the ground floor of our mansion. Yeah, our greenhouse too.. But that's about it. I think if anyone should tell me, it's gonna be you. You've been out and about.”

Rolling her eyes the redhead sighed and prayed for patience, wondering how she was going to through to her hard headed siblings. With the exception of Argent who had gotten a job and was out helping among the community, the rest of her family was steeped in pain and bitterness. It was a vicious cycle that needed to come to an end, sooner rather than later. They could all feel the darkness growing, that something sinister was happening in the city and in order to combat it they needed to be at their strongest. United.

“Tha pain doesn’t stop, it’s part’a life. I think we have all forgotten tha.” Her voice was hard, yet her point very emphatic as each syllable fell from her lips. It was hard to be patience with her brothers and sisters these days, hard to keep her thoughts from spilling over in a hard dose of reality. Her annoyance got even more pronounced as Malva stated under no uncertain terms would she be the one to call the family together. It rankled on Tia’s nerves, “A’course they are.” Snapping her teeth together to keep from saying anything more she took a couple of moments to just breath and center herself.

She knew that it would fall to her to be the voice of reason, the beat some sense back into the Aspects but hearing how reluctant one of her siblings was to take part just brought the point home. Heaving yet another sigh of impatience she turned and regarded her sister, planting a palm on her hip. “Yer here. Look around Mal. I know it’s been a while since ya been out but ya need ta start thinkin’ fer yerself! Figure it out!” The time for hand-holding was past, tough love was the only she was going to get the brunette to see sense.

“Stop hidin’ and sulkin’. Look around and pick a direction. It’s not rocket science fer goodness sake!”

Malva would be truthfully honest about her current state when it comes to her siblings, she couldn't push them away no longer because she's getting very tired about it in general. She's becoming lethargic lately and that has begun to take a toll on the Aspect of Magic who knew no more than to just allow whatever flow the world deemed better. At this point of her life, she just wanted to do her duty and finish a day's work so she could go back home and faceplant herself on her bed in her room. But with exhaustion also came the instability of her temperament just as well, which is why the Russian born woman has been prone to a lot of angry outbursts here and there occasionally. Hint, it has become a lot more frequent these days.

As usual, she would take whatever that's thrown her way and work around it to make sure it comes back out newly furnished and ready to go out in the world like any brand new equipment. But what she couldn't do was trying to fix herself, because enough matter how many times she tried, it wasn't going very well. There will always be that one part of her that resided deep down, waiting for the right time to tackle every positivity thrown. It was beginning to pile up like fortress. It also didn't help when the beacon of where her magic lies were her emotions. A trip down to unlocking a spiraling sensation was not something she wish would happen in the near future. They have way too many on their platter at the moment to be worrying about everything else. Definitely not her.

Now, she might not be the best liar because Malva would often slip up at some point and her siblings were anything if not perceptive. But, she could hold her own standing for a while, long enough to measure up and distract them using another method under her sleeves. This is her problem and her problem alone, not her family's. And perhaps that's where it all went wrong, the fact that she focused on herself individually rather than see it as a grouping thing. What's done is done, anyways. No point in dwelling in the past and dark anymore. “They say you've never known real fear till you stare death in the face, I wonder where's the irony in that” she mumbled distinctly, pondering at said phrase that she's heard so many times throughout the century. Unfortunately, death didn't scare her. What did, however, was if she was taken away long before she could fulfill her responsibilities.

She would've missed an entire opportunity to make things right as they should be and that guilt will forever haunt her, even in death. She couldn't refrain herself from chuckling at the part where Tia said hurting is part of living. When was the last time she's heard that and when was it that she believed in that? Once upon a time ago, that's for sure. It sounded so fresh in her head though, like it only just happened yesterday. “Hurting means you're alive. I think that's what they're trying to say. Because I'm sure no one wants to keep hurting if it means they keep living, because then what would be the point?” Mal had always been one to delve deeper into the context of every word and sentence unknowingly, picking up every small detail it entailed, feeding them into what her head would fathom.

“But maybe you're right.. Things change, and we need too, I guess. Perhaps we've forgotten how it feels to be alive. To have no worries by your side.” The problem with them is that whenever they do something, it doesn't just affect them alone or their family and friends. It affected a lot more than what they led on, it brings an impact to everyone roaming in the globe. And the mere thought of it still scares her to the core, because she will always feel the immense pressure weighing on her shoulders for more years to come. But seeing the widespread grin present on her sister's face made her smile in response. Just because she's been miserable, doesn't mean she wanted everyone else around her to feel the same. It doesn't work that way. All the happiness should influence her to be better, if anything.

“I'm a homebody, Tia. I think everyone knows that. I go out to the greenhouse and play around, but that's about it. I'm as boring as a person could be,” she chortled, scrunching her nose up as she frowned slightly. “But I would like to see more of what you've done. How many animals are there?” Scoffing at her younger sister, the Aspect of Magic rolled her eyes. "Also, I feel like rocket science would be a lot more easier for me, if we're being honest."

Malva was quiet for a good long while, longer than Tia would have expected her to be. She seemed to be working something out in her mind, mulling over her words she hoped. It was becoming increasingly difficult to remain patient with her siblings, the longer they were closeting themselves up in the mansion and hiding from the reality they were now facing the harder it was going to be for them. When she finally spoke the redhead shook her head, her point definitely misconstrued. Pacing a few steps away from her sister she turned back around, using her arms to drive her point home, “Pain an’ sufferin’ are a’part of life, without them we wouldn’ be able ta recognize or appreciate tha good times. Tha time when we overcome the adversity and come out tha other side. It IS livin’.” Her palm dusted along her denim clad thigh, her gaze drifting to the ground as she worked for a moment to steady herself. “Tha point is, we have been given a second chance, a huge gift tha’ up until tha fall ‘a the isle we had been takin’ fer granted. An’ now tha’ we are here, among tha very world we are served with protectin’ many of us are closetin’ ourselves away.”

Her tone was emphatic, stern in the delivery as she believed in every word she spoke with every fiber of her being. “Wha’ kinda guardians are we tha’ we believe ourselves above our charges? We feel and live and suffer just as they do and when we deny tha’ we deny who we are.” Mal then admitted tentatively that she might be right, though her theory that they would have no worries once more grated on her nerves. At this point however the Aspect of Elements felt her silence was better than pounding on her point some more. In her humble opinion they should always be worried, always be watchful and vigilant. Assuming that life would be one big easy party was naive but they needed to skulking in the shadows and start living amid the sunshine.

“Tha’s yer choice Mal. One tha’ I don’ agree with and one ya can change if ya had a mind to.” At that she dropped it, waving her hands around as she explain what she had house within her slice of paradise. “I’ve got 7 goats, a couple milk cows, 3 medium greenhouses, 2 orchards with several varieties of fruits, and Jasper. I’ve been considerin’ addin’ in some sheep or alpacas to tha mix but might be lookin’ at relocatin’ them all soon.” She smiled at the thought, her plans for the future mixing that of Clay’s which was a daunting idea that had started forming in her mind. Dragging herself back to the present Tia looked over at her sister, “Ya wanna go check anythin’ out?”

Malva wasn’t sure if she really wanted to live if there’s only going to be pain everywhere she goes, what is the point then? Of course, what her youngest sister said about pain being a prerequisite to everything else is the truth, and even the Aspect of Magic could not say a word against the validation it brings. The authenticity of one substantial proof was more than enough to convince her, but Malva being Malva, is always stuck and adamant in her ways, never really being one to lower her head down to heed others in so many aspects. To say that she’s stubborn would be a vast understatement, seeing as the brunette Russian is known for her hard-headed persona that wouldn’t really give a crap what the others thought about her, as long as it doesn’t involve her family.

That was a line she would never cross. Or at least, that’s what used to go around, once upon a time ago. Now? Following what Tia said, it really did bring the Aspect of Magic down from her high horse and dwell around the clouds in order to search for resolution instead. Perhaps, she’s been too much for the past while. What did surprise her, however, was the fact that she needed someone very significant, aka her sister, to remind her what living is like; to remind her what she’s supposed to be doing. What a blessing she’s received, someone like that as part of her family. What a relief Aurantia Ailward is there for her when she’s so close off the rails and falling deep into the dark place she might never get out again.

The silence from her often indicated one thing, and one only - she’s agreeing to every word the other female was saying. Okay, maybe not every word, but close. The context and message are clear, she didn’t need to filter out the pragmatics. “I guess I can start seeing things that way,” she pursed her lips lightly before giving Tia a thin-lipped smile. It still never crossed her mind how their youngest sister can be the wisest of them yet still retaining the innocence air around her, it’s endearing and strangely comforting for the brunette Ailward Aspect. Some things don’t change, after all. Seeing Tia stern into reminding her of her roots and motivation, it reminded her so much of the Initia she met before this life.

So to change that sensitive topic that still has yet to settle with Malva, boy was she immensely grateful for it. Hearing the animals that her sister is raising, the Aspect of Magic gave her an impressed look, laced with some amusement. “Oh wow, that’s… quite a sum. I’m beginning to wonder if you can start controlling our siblings at home too” she jested, since each and every one of the Aspects are strong in their own views, none would waver nor wilt. “Alpacas though, where are you going to get those fluffs?” The curiosity accentuating her tone made it clear that she was surprisingly invested in that conversation. But then again, counting the number of felines Malva has owned, including her past and new ones, it wasn’t surprising to see her being interested in talks of animals. Her current tiger cub, Constance, that’s growing each day, was a gift from Reus following Laurel’s passing who was unfortunately at the Isle when the tragedy occurred. Of course, Tia would have an alpaca. Wait, alpacas.

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