In this chapter, you’ll see how “family-ish” the Naitt children are, and this is actually the beggining of the real deal. As you might all know – or not – tomorrow is the anniversayr so I’ll post more posts than I’ve had for the past days. For now, enjoy!
Deus Ex Machina
3 – Actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea
For once, Erin was right – the intruder came back. The first thing Dea did when she woke up was to inspect the sealed window, only to find it ripped open with something akin to a knife. Then, she ventured around her room to make sure that the intruder hadn’t stolen any of her possessions; nothing seemed to be disrupted but on closer inspections, as Dea was about to exit her room to get prepared for the day, her security breaches and other safety precautions were disabled from the inside. When she checked the time in which they were deactivated, it told her somewhere around eleven-thirty – an hour after Dea had turned off her lights. So that meant that the intruder had wanted something not of Dea’s.
But what was the deal with her bow?
Before breakfast, she ran around the mansion asking the residents if they had lost anything or if there’s something off about the house. Apart from Erin’s sarcastic response, everything seemed to be normal, down to the servants’ quarters. Breakfast was normal too, if it weren’t for Dea’s overly cautious gaze (it had concerned Abel that he offered some of his portions, only for Ace to take instead). On the way to school, Dea had instructed every Naitt children to check their rooms for any oddities and this only gave some incredulous looks from each heads.
“It seemed you’ve woken up on the wrong side of the bed,” Annette mused.
“No – I mean, maybe… but there’s a regular intruder that had been loitering around the house for some time now –”
“Wait, how do you even know there’s an intruder?” Hiero chimed.
“Because they went in via my window,” Dea explained, “A week ago, the intruder had come to my room and broke my bow – the one from Zach – and this time, they had ventured the house; I know for sure because my security precautions were disabled at somewhere close to midnight, so that meant the intruder went outside after making his way in my room.”
“How do you know it was the intruder who broke your bow? Erin might’ve been lying to you when she said that she was present during her lectures while Jenny was out,” Abel said.
“I found splinters at my window sill, which indicated that someone tried to fiddle with it to get them inside, and the security didn’t give any signs of break-in attempts when I checked them. Also, Erin would be the last person on the planet to climb up to the second floor without stairs or ladders – heck, she’s scared of ladders! And Erin wouldn’t even think about missing any one of her lectures, be it in school or at home.”
“Suppose the intruder was real,” Annette said, “then, what have they got to do with your bow?”
“That’s what I’ve been trying to figure out!” Dea gave a frustrated growl, “It was my favourite and if they think they could get away with it, they’d be lying!”
“Anyway,” Ace joined, “we still have the hangout with Vivianne, so we can check the house after that. Good thing Erin’s still with her sick spells, else Vivianne wouldn’t quit complaining about how much she hates Erin.”
“Nah, I think she likes home lectures better than school ones,” Hiero offered.
“She once told me that the peers there weren’t pleased to have her around,” Ace recalled, his face darkening at this.
“Chill, Ace – you’ll end up in jail!” Abel chuckled.
As the Naitt children continued their friendly bicker, Dea couldn’t help but feel a ghostly presence nearby although no matter how much she turned around, there were no one but students in the same school uniforms as them – and a seemingly docile old man feeding the pigeons in the park nearby.
* * *
“Hey, Dea!” a familiar voice called to her. She turned around and couldn’t help the rise in temperature as Oscar approached her, a blinding smile fixated upon his adorable face. He towered over Dea but he was never intimidating, except when he’s extremely engrossed in his hunting which he usually does with Dea. “You’re going to chemistry, yeah? Mind if I come with you?”
“Yes – I mean, n-no! Not at all! We’re partners, anyway!” Dea laughed nervously, “If you were to be absent or something then I won’t be able to do the activities and stuff, and –” Gosh, Dea – stop talking! He’ll think you’re an awkward freak and… and… Oh, Great Lord… his smile is so sweet…
Oscar laughed heartily, “Yeah, it’ll suck to just watch the others do the experiments instead of doing it yourself.” The pair walked towards the chemistry laboratory whilst conversing. “So, when’s the next hunting game? I can’t wait to run around in the forest; my mum’s been keeping me in the indoor gym every Sunday for basketball practices and I really prefer animal droppings to smelly changing rooms.”
“Well, we can’t do it today because we’re having a hangout with our sister –”
“ – and Jenny’s been telling me not to hunt so much because she hates mud on her floor.”
“We can hunt near my house.” Oscar’s suggestion made Dea snap her gaze towards him.
“Really? I mean, is it okay? Can you hunt there?”
“Yeah. Most of the people in the neighbourhood would organise a hunting week to get rid of the boars and other pests and luckily, the hunting week is next week so you can swing by any time in that week for hunting.”
“That’s so cool! I’ll go – I won’t miss this kind of thing!” Dea beamed, “Oh, there’s the class.” The two entered and settled down in their seats by the corner where they could easily watch what’s happening in the classroom. The bell didn’t ring yet and Mr. Anderson won’t come until the bell so the class was full of monkeys. In the corner of her eyes, he could see Alvin staring at her as usual and when she looked up she saw Abel giving her a blank expression.
Abel then proceeded to stealing a glance at Alvin, Oscar, and then back at Dea, who got an eyebrow lift from her twin and a concerned headshake. In turn, Dea gave him a shrug and listen to Oscar’s talk about the best way to kill two boars with one arrow. Abel was not amused.
* * *
“I don’t like that guy,” Abel declared afterschool.
“Who, Alvin? He’s creepy, yes, because he keeps on staring at me since the beginning of high school and he even stayed with me to take sixth form education –”
“No, I mean your forest buddy,” Abel huffed, “I bet he’s even more untrustworthy than Alvin; you can actually see the ‘I-like-you’ vibes he’s always giving out.”
“He likes me?” Dea gasped dreamily, “Oh.. that’s nice…”
“No, that’s scary! He’s like a giant and he can just snap you like a twig if he wants to!”
“He’s not what you see him as, and he asked me to go hunting with him in the woods near his home next week – I’m going.”
“You don’t know if Jenny will approve!”
“She has no grudge against Oscar,” Dea said airily.
“She has a grudge against you,” Abel deadpanned, “She’ll even send you to get eaten by sharks if she can – and she can.”
“Well, that’s more reason as to why she would let me go hunting,” Dea confirmed, “Hey, Vivi!” Dea ran up to a beautiful young lady standing by the gates, who had gathered an amazing amount of audience by just standing idly. When she heard Dea, she broke into a small squeal and gave her a bear hug, telling Dea how much she missed her and the others and asked if all were well.
Abel strode up to Vivianne and offered his hand to be shook which Vivianne took earnestly. “Hey, Abel! You’ve grown, a lot! The last time I saw you, I couldn’t tell the difference between you two,” Vivianne said as she gestured to the Naitt twins.
Abel shrugged and smiled sheepishly, “More dashin?”
“You bet!” Vivianne beamed.
Soon after, Ace, Annette and Hiero followed, giving Vivianne their greetings and whatnots. After deciding on where to go, they headed to the arcade not far off from the school – some students from nearby schools (including the prestigious school the Naitt children studied at) would call this place their sanctuary; more rational people would wait until afterschool to go here and if they have cram school, they won’t even know this place existed. The place was bustling with excited students but that made the whole place seem more interesting than just your typical neighbourhood arcade. Next was the walk to the evening market which housed different kinds of traditional artefacts and the kinds alike. While Ace and Hiero went over to the old battling equipments sold by a war veteran, Abel went along with Annette to look for ancient scrolls and texts, while Dea was forced to go along with Annette to look at silk veils and fine jewellery – Dea wanted nothing but to look at the battle equipments with Ace and Hiero.
For dinner, the group went to a restaurant and ordered a group serving of barbeque meat. As embarrassing as it had been, Dea gave up her vegetarianism when the waiter finally brought their meal to their table. “I can’t stand it when you all are enjoying something delicious and just not know how to be happy myself,” Dea complained. When she took her first bite of meat, she nearly ate the whole table.
“You’re not staying?” Hiero whined.
“I will, only if Jenny would stop hating me for my face,” Vivianne said. There was a time when Zach had complimented Vivianne for being beautiful, noting how her strawberry blonde hair was like golden waves from the ever-calm ocean and how her eyes made the sky look ashen. He even said she looked fairer than Jenny – that was the worst mistake ever. “Anyhow, I actually have a job tomorrow – modelling! – and I wouldn’t want to be late for the photoshoot. So, see you soon, guys!”
“Bye!” the Naitt children said in unison. When they couldn’t see Vivanne any more than a speck, they headed towards the mansion, passing streetlights, houses and hiking a steep road bordered with dark woods. Jenny was asleep already according to the butler and so we wouldn’t have to take an earful of scolding – maybe later, in the morning. Ace knocked on Erin’s door and presented a miniature warrior he’d gotten for her from the market, to which Erin appreciated. Annette closed her door before Hiero and Abel, and Ace went in after talking with Erin. Dea held back in order to have a word with Erin concerning the intruder.
Dea didn’t have to knock because Erin had expected her visit, blocking the view of her room with her body. “I watched him last night because he made the mistake of checking my room; he was going around the house trying to find something, it seemed,” Erin said casually.
“Did he go to Jenny’s room?”
“He did but only for a brief peek, not actually entering it. It looked like he wasn’t here for the fortune but for something more specific.”
“Well, what does my bow have to do with it?”
“We’re bugged, remember? I’d tell you if we’re out of earshot but I can’t even set a foot to the front lawn so I’ll have to keep things to myself until I recover. Oh,” Erin added quickly before Dea reached the stairs, “Saturday next week.”
Dea didn’t need to ask what it meant; she just nodded and as she readied herself for slumber, Dea planned for a treasure hunt on an extreme level that will start tomorrow.