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Cause [1.3.9]

The room was pure white. Not the white of snow, or of a cloudy sky, but the sheer pristine white of a sterile hospital. The white of emptiness. The mansion was pure white and it glowed with an almost ethereal power.

Inside one of the many rooms, a cyan-haired individual, with a blissful smile on his face and eyes closed, sat meditating. His mind ranged around, scanning through thoughts and feelings, old and new memories, and he felt a calmness wash over him.

It had been a while since Xerxes had caused any trouble, and the mansion was quite serene. The white glow gave it a spiritual feel. He liked to meditate in the mornings, before Xerxes and Aspasia woke up. Xerxes slept a lot, up to fourteen hours, and Aspasia spent her nights thinking, so she was a late riser and often tired and grumpy in the mornings. The morning was Min’s time, and he loved it.

What he had not realised on this particular morning is that Xerxes had woken up early and, struggling to get back to sleep, ventured down the stairs to see whether he was awake. Xerxes, clutching his midnight smack like a comfort blanket, crept forward, near-silent, as Min breathed in and out evenly, letting his mind sink into an ocean of calm.

Xerxes crept further forward. Then, he pounced.

“ABLOOGY WOOGY WOO!”

“GAAAAH!” screamed Min, leaping up, falling over his own feet and landing on his rear. Xerxes burst out laughing, rolling back and forward on the floor, whilst Min stared at him. He saw the funny side of it, and began to chuckle too.

“Most impressive, Xerxes. An amusing thing to do!”

“Ahahahah, oh fuck, that was the best thing I’ve done in the last three weeks, ahahaha…”

They sat there laughing for a few moments more, and Min sobered up before Xerxes, and stood up. He waited for Xerxes to stop giggling to himself, and the young demigod stood before his brother, magenta eyes staring, with a hint of malice, into Min’s calm gaze.

“What are you doing up so early, Xerxes? You were running around quite wildly last night, and that usually tires you out.”

“I dunno.” Xerxes replied, shrugging. “Woke up early, don’t know why.”

“Well, shall I get you a drink?” Min said. Xerxes nodded sedately and sat down on the sofa. Min beamed at him and bustled off to the kitchen area of the mansion.

“Are you tired?” Min called from the kitchen as he grabbed a glass. Xerxes shook his head, then remembered that Min couldn’t see him.

“Not really. I’ll probably sleep a lot tonight though. Depends, though, are we watching something this evening?” asked Xerxes.

“Possibly. Perhaps we could watch more of that pleasant Earth show… the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air?”

“YES.” said Xerxes. “I LOVE WILL SMITH.”

“…Uh, alright.” Min replied as he walked back into the living room. “I didn’t realise you felt quite that strongly about anyone other than Liam Neeson.”

“HUMANS ARE COOL!” yelled Xerxes, taking his drink and swigging it. It was just cordial – Xerxes wasn’t allowed pop drinks so early in the morning. “Mostly. Some of them are boring as hell.”

“I certainly love them.” Min replied. “Life… such a precious gift to the universe, and every little person on every planet is so, so unbelievably precious.”

“Shut the fuck up with your omnibenevolent hippie bullshit, Min.” sighed Xerxes. He sipped his drink as Min sat beside him. Moments later, Aspasia came sloping in, yawning.

“Yes, I’m grumpy. Xerxes was too loud, that’s why I’m up so early. I would also like a drink.” said Aspasia. Years spent with the pair meant she knew exactly what they would ask, and she often didn’t have the patience to answer them one by one.

“I’ll go get you one.” offered Min, prancing off with a happy smile.

“So…” said Aspasia.

“Every word that comes out of your dumb mouth pipe makes me want to scream and hit you with the midnight smack.” growled Xerxes, but he suddenly lightened up and laughed at himself. “Ahahah, midnight smack, that never gets old…”

“Actually, that’s what I was thinking.” Aspasia replied. “We’ll spar this morning.”

“There’s no point in disagreeing with you, is there? You already know that’s what we’re doing.”

“Precisely.” grinned Aspasia. “So, how about it, Xerx? Think you can beat me?”

“I will tear every bone out of your body with a SINGLE BLOW.” Xerxes replied. “You just fucking try it, ASS-pasia.”

“How droll.” Aspasia replied. Min returned with a drink – coffee – and handed it to Aspasia, who accepted it gratefully and took a large sip. Min glanced at them. “Did I hear something about sparring?”

“Yep!” Xerxes announced. “Gonna fight Aspasia and ACTUALLY WIN.”

“I see. Your limitless strength should be more than enough to achieve that, yes…” Min replied.

Aspasia finished her drink, and Xerxes left his cordial where it was. “Right, let’s go!”

“Enjoy yourselves.” smiled Min. “As usual, don’t do too much damage and stay safe.”

With a nod each, Xerxes and Aspasia disappeared out of the living room, heading downstairs to the basement area. The basement was just as blindingly white as the rest of the house, but it was a much larger room compared to anywhere else, and a perfect gym room for sparring. Down there already, leaning on the wall as Xerxes and Aspasia entered, was a long, thin staff standing at about 1.5 times Aspasia’s height. It was sharpened at both ends, made of hewn wood.

Aspasia called it the ‘staff meeting’.

Xerxes, who was habitually holding his midnight smack anyway, began to walk to the far side of the room. Aspasia grabbed the staff meeting and whirled it expertly around her body, getting a feel for the weapon. It had been a few days since she’d used it.

“Ready?” asked Xerxes.

“You’re about to attack me in six seconds, so yes. I am.” Aspasia said, giving Xerxes an infuriating grin. With a scream of rage, he lifted his pearly white hand and smashed the midnight smack into the floor, creating a gigantic blast of energy that exploded across the room. Aspasia leapt for safety as the entire house shook, and took to her feet, running for Xerxes. He made to swing the midnight smack again, but Aspasia intercepted him with a lunge of her staff, which she then used to flip acrobatically over him, landing safely behind him as a second blast obliterated the other half of the room.

“Rargh!” yelled Xerxes, spinning around in a wild circle. Aspasia, with her omniscience, ducked the blow with ease and swung the staff meeting along the ground, thwacking the back of Xerxes’ legs and causing him to fall over.

Xerxes, in retaliation, swept the midnight smack in Aspasia’s general direction, which she easily avoided, but it gave him enough time to stand up without her intervention. He ran for her, and she pranced backwards with a wink. “Come on, Xerx, you’re not usually this bad.”

“Shut up!” screamed the irate demigod. He leapt forward and smashed the floor below Aspasia, causing another massive explosion, but she was already moving away from it. There were four pillars in the room which kept it stable, and Aspasia ducked behind one of these. Xerxes saw her hide, and laughed – she thought she was safe? He’d show her otherwise.

He ran forward and jumped past the pillar, where Aspasia was stood, lazily waving at him. His confusion caused him to stumble and he collided with the wall. It did nothing to faze him, however, and he was immediately up again, throwing himself at the blonde staff-wielder. The staff-wielder in question flicked the staff meeting twice in quick succession, striking his right hand, causing him to drop the midnight smack and hitting him in the face, causing him to fall over again.

Aspasia gave a cocky laugh. “My, my, this is just embarrassing. The omnipotent demigod can’t even beat up a little girl?”

“I’m TRYING.” growled Xerxes. “Stop moving about!”

Aspasia nodded, and stood stock-still in the centre of the room. Xerxes emerged from behind the pillar and advanced slowly. Aspasia simply gave a knowing smile. Xerxes, in an attempt at strategy, threw the midnight smack past Aspasia. She had known he was going to miss, but when she saw him toss it away, she realised that he was trying to trick her. She knew the midnight smack’s movements, but she didn’t know Xerxes’; she had no omniscience about what he was about to do.

Xerxes threw a hefty punch at Aspasia, and she only just stumbled out of the way. She leapt backwards, smacked him twice across the face with the staff meeting, and then retreated to a safe distance as he retrieved his midnight smack.

“That didn’t work. Nice strategy, but even without my omniscience it seems I’m more than a match for you.” Aspasia mused. “How can one be omnipotent and yet so out of touch with how to use those powers properly?”

“SHUT UP!” screeched Xerxes, and he smashed the midnight smack against the floor, causing an explosion to speed in Aspasia’s direction, but she evaded it with a quick dash, stopping just outside of the basement entrance.

“Nope, still not even close.” Aspasia laughed.

“STOP! STOP BEING MEAN TO ME!” yelled Xerxes in an inhumanly loud screech. He raised the midnight smack high above his head and Aspasia stood watching it. She knew what was about to happen.

Min came running in at Xerxes’ latest irritable scream and raised his hand, creating a barrier around himself and Aspasia, just as the midnight smack collided with the floor and created an explosion with the power of fifty thousand atom bombs. The entire house shook violently, and for the first time, Aspasia saw the barriers protecting the house from harm crumble a little. It was small, and it healed immediately afterwards, but it was concerning to see how powerful Xerxes was getting. No weapon in the universe could damage the house’s foundations… except the omnipotence of a demigod, channelled in the right way.

Min and Aspasia were entirely safe behind the barrier, and a minute later, when the smoke had cleared, Xerxes was stood on shaky legs, his midnight smack held loosely by his side. Min put the barrier down, breathing heavily with the exertion, and walked over to Xerxes, embracing him.

“Well done, little fighter. I’m proud of you… but please don’t destroy our house, OK?”

“Di-did I do that much damage..?” wondered Xerxes, staring at the whitewashed walls. “…Huh.”

Aspasia remained silent for a moment. “That’s enough for today. Not bad, Xerx.”

She disappeared up the stairs.

Min and Xerxes sat down in the basement for a while longer, whilst Xerxes recovered his breath.

“Why… is she mean to me?” Xerxes asked.

“I don’t know.” Min replied. “I think she’s trying to help you, you know.”

“Help me? That bitch?”

“Yes, help.” Min said. “You see, you believe your omnipotence to mean strength, yes?”

“OF COURSE.” growled Xerxes. “All-powerful, it’s kinda in the name.”

“But you must remember, Xerxes, that omnipotent is not just physical power. It’s strength in many different forms. You can do so much more than do damage.” Min explained.

“I’m fucking strong, though! What does this have to do with her helping me, anyway?”

“She’s trying to annoy you, to make you think of a creative way of defeating her. Using your powers in other ways to win.”

“I DON’T GET IT.” Xerxes replied, furrowing his brow in a look of angry concentration.

Min kissed Xerxes on the head and stood up. “You’ll learn in time. Of that I have no doubt.”

Xerxes grumbled to himself.

“In the meantime, I suppose I should go and correct Aspasia on her behaviour. When you get back up, your drink is waiting for you; I topped it up whilst you were sparring.”

More grumbling.

“Pardon?” Min asked as he walked out.

“Thank you.” muttered Xerxes.

Min beamed as he ascended the stairs up to the ground floor of the mansion.

Cause [1.3.8]
Cause [1.4.1]

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