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There’s always been a part of me that’s resented the fact that I inherited everything of his except his healing.

Every day I look in the mirror, I see him. Sure, my eyes are blue like Mama, but they say they look more like his blue.. the blue of the spirit I never got to meet.

My nose is long, with a forehead to match. Strong jaw and strong frame…Ander stock, they tell me. I’ll never be as tall as him, but both Mama and Papa look up to me…just a bit.

Before my brothers both manifested, I felt a small kinship with him, but I don’t think my magic has ever been anything but… convenient. Eventually, they asked Aunt Merrill to spend time with me, as entropy seemed to be the opposite of everything that had ever possessed my father’s body.

They never asked, but it was always silently assumed that I’d know when a sleep spell would help calm my brothers for an afternoon. When Mama’s mabari, Ginger, was too old to run across the fields anymore, she taught me how strengthen the spell to where she wouldn’t wake up again.

I think that’s what made everything so much more difficult and easier all at once. Easier for them, difficult for me. When the sickness that ravaged his body slowly stole away his ability to heal..there was nothing I could do. Panacea didn’t seep from my fingers… but I could numb the pain. Use magic that would cause horror to simply cause a more pleasant hallucination.

It made it easier when Mama could talk to him when he didn’t seem to be in pain. She felt like she was failing…daggers only caused pain you see… and when it got worse…

Papa didn’t fare much better. Even though he could pull the fade through his body, he could only clear physical blockages.

Both of them could only help him in ways that would cause him more pain before he left this world, and neither could bear to do it.

They didn’t ask, but it was silently assumed that I would catch on.

I curled up on my father’s sickbed that night. He knew that my mana was straining to keep up with the pain that plagued him. He…he was so… so proud of me, he said. That the last person he wanted to burden with his life was his child. And then he asked; I remembered my lessons well.

And now I’m here. Mama is on her knees, holding his hand, tears haven’t stopped. Papa has his arms around Caleb, who is clutching a small pillow. Braeden is standing beside me, with the staff he inherited.

Meeting my mother’s eyes, she nods and pulls away and moves to hold Braeden’s free hand.

I lift my father’s staff to light his own pyre, and I can only hope that I can carry on his light now that he’s gone.