Luna knocked on the door at Chi’s house. A little boy in somewhat grubby clothes answered the door. “Who is it?”
“Hi, my name’s Luna, is Chisa here?”
The boy nodded. “Chisaaaa! It’s for you!”
Chisa appeared at the door. “Thank you, Chiaki. Go back to Chiarra okay?”
“Hi, Luna. Come in, my father won’t be home for a few more hours.”
Luna stepped into the small home. It was quite dark, with only a few candles lighting the home. Chiaki and an older girl sat in the corner of the room, watching her silently. She waved them over but they looked to Chisa rather than move to the table.
“It’s okay, Chiaki, Chiarra. Come meet Luna, she’s Chi’s friend.”
They walked over to the table holding hands. Chiarra seemed to be the oldest amongst the three. Luna wondered why it seemed Chi trusted Chisa more with the money than Chiarra. They took the seats next to Chisa and sat silently.
“Nice to meet you, Chiaki, Chiarra. I’m sorry Chi couldn’t come with me, but he’s having some troubles coming back home. He misses you a lot and I brought you something he cooked for you.”
She summoned Momocha and Chisa, Chiaki and Chiarra all lit up.
“It’s so cute!!” Chiaki reached out to touch it and Chiarra grabbed his hand.
Luna smiled. “It’s okay, she’s friendly and she won’t hurt anyone. Her name’s Momocha.”
All three of them reached out to touch Momocha, who took little hops around the table, happy with all the attention she was receiving. She seemed especially drawn to Chisa, who looked more like Chi than the other siblings.
“Momocha, summon three hayfre meals.”
Momocha glowed and three meals appeared before the children. “Chi cooked these for you… we’re on a journey together and we were able to get some hayfre meat and he wanted you to have them.”
Chiarra began crying silently and the three of them ate with smiles on their faces. They hadn’t had Chi’s cooking in months and they had missed it. Chiaki coughed as he ate.
“Chiaki, eat slower, you’ll choke.” Chisa ran her hand over his hair and patted his back lightly.
Momocha sat on Chisa’s lap as she ate. “Thank you, Luna. This means a lot.”
Chiarra nodded in agreement and Chiaki just continued to eat. Once they had finished, Momocha took back the plates in her storage mode. Chiarra gave Luna a hug before waving her hands around, as if pantomiming drinking from a tea cup.
“Chiarra wants to know if you’d like some tea, Luna.”
Is she mute? Deaf and mute? Luna shook her head. “I should head back to your brother, let him know you enjoyed the meal. Here’s some money he sent for you.”
She handed Chisa the small pouch of coins. “There’s a little extra in there. He said you guys probably need new clothes.”
The three siblings hugged Luna tightly from all sides as though attempting to transfer their love and longing for Chi into her. She hugged them back as Momocha jumped onto her head.
“I’ll make sure to let him know you miss him. And you guys make sure you eat well and take care of yourselves, okay?”
They nodded as they held her. All four of them jumped and Momocha growled when the front door slammed open. A man stood leaning against the doorway.
“WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE? WHO IS THAT?”
The three children cowered and Luna instinctively pushed them behind her. “And who might you be?”
“They’re MY kids and you’re in MY GODDAMN HOUSE. Who the HELL are YOU?”
She had known it was their father but did not feel comfortable acknowledging it. He had the same booming voice she had heard on her last visit here. He was obviously drunk and he swayed where he leaned against the doorway.
“I’m a friend of Chi’s. I just came by to check on the kids.”
“Is that meat I smell? You SELFISH brats ate like kings while giving your father dry bread and cheese?!” He stumbled forward towards Luna and the children as if to grab them.
She took a few steps back, putting her arms out behind her as if to protect them. “Actually, I brought them the food. Please take a step back.”
“Those’re my kids, you bitch. Don’t tell me to step back!”
“Out of respect for Chi and his siblings, I want to leave peacefully but if you keep acting like this I will be forced to act.”
Chi’s father let out a loud, barking laugh. “You think you can do something to me, little girl? A friend of that worthless son of mine? Do you know he hasn’t been home in months?! Thanks to him I can barely get anything to drink and I can’t gamble!”
Luna scoffed. “You’re their father! Why don’t you get a job and take care of your family!”
“It’s their job to take care of me! They’re my spawn, I provide the roof over their heads – the least they can do is clean it, feed me and give me my spending money!”
Luna was flabbergasted. She couldn’t believe the words coming from this man’s mouth. Chi was only 20 years old and from what she could see, Chiarra was the oldest sibling after him and she was barely 15 or 16. “Are you kidding me?! What the hell is wrong with you!! The least you could do is take care of them until they’re adults! Look at yourself, you’re no father!”
Chisa tugged on her sleeve. “It’s… it’s okay, Luna. You should go back to Chi.”
“I can’t leave you here like this. Just come with me.”
Chisa shook her head. “No, we must take care of our father. He is unwell. We cannot burden you and abandon him at the same time…”
“You’re not safe here, Chisa! Just come with me!” Luna had no idea what she was thinking. She had no idea where the siblings would stay or how they would survive but she knew that she couldn’t just leave them there.
Chisa stumbled when Chiarra pushed her and Chiaki. She waved her hands forward as if telling them to go. “Chiarra?”
Chiarra pushed the three of them forward towards the door. Chisa let go of Luna and clung to Chiarra. “Chiarra, no! We’ll stay together, Chi told us to stay together!”
Chiarra shook her head as she pulled Chisa’s hands from her clothes. She gave her a pat on the head and reached down to hug Chiaki. She motioned for her father to come over to the table. He stumbled over, shoving past Luna roughly. Chiarra pulled a small pouch from inside her sleeves and put it into this hands.
He smiled as he looked into the pouch. “Oh-ho, you’ve been holding out on me, brat. There’s 10 gold in here!”
He looked pleased as he pocketed the gold. Luna barely had time to react when he raised his hand to strike Chiarra. She took the brunt of the hit as she covered Chiarra’s small body.
“You bitch! You knew I needed gambling money and you were fucking holding out on me?!”
He swept his leg back as if to kick them and Luna threw her body back into him. He fell to the ground, groaning. Luna and Momocha both growled at him.
“You hurt any of these kids and I will beat you within an inch of your life! Back off. NOW.”
Momocha let out a sound that Luna had never heard her make before that sounded almost like a bark.
“Chiarra, Chisa, Chiaki. Get out of the house, NOW.” The children ran out and Luna put her foot on their father’s chest to keep him down. “Momocha, summon 20 gold and all of the silver bracelets.”
Momocha spit out the gold and a small pile of silver bracelets onto the floor. “You take this and go drink yourself to death or gamble it away or whatever. But don’t go looking for the kids and don’t you dare try contacting Chi. I am stronger than you and I have friends stronger than me. We will ruin your life. Got it?”
Chi’s father attempted to speak and Luna put more pressure down on his chest. “Just nod if you understand.”
He shook his head in anger and pushed her off foot off. “Those runts belong to me. Their whore mother ran off and left me with them. They owe me! Without me they would be dead.”
He shoved her with his hand with every emphasised word. Luna stumbled backwards with each push and Momocha launched her blob-like body at Chi’s father, growling and snarling.
“I am a war hero! I deserve respect! Especially from runts like you and brats like them!”
Chi’s father swatted Momocha away, who fell to the ground and growled out, “Luna, cloudberry!”
“No, Momocha!” Momocha snarled as she put her toothless mouth around Chi’s father’s ankle as if to bite him. “Momocha, come here!”
Momocha growled but hopped onto Luna’s shoulder. She was angry as she bumped Luna’s head softly before jumping onto her head and continued to growl at Chi’s father. Luna pushed Chi’s father back with the palm of her hand.
“Look here, mister. No one owes you shit – least of all your kids. The very least a parent can do for their kids is to give them a place to live, food to eat and clothing to wear. You’ve provided one of the bare minimum as a parent. Respect is earned and you’ve earned nothing. So what if you’re a war hero, that means nothing to me. You – “
Luna was interrupted by the Chi’s father’s slap. “Listen here, brat. I am Yfel, Savior of Aljanna during the War of the Nations! You will – “
Luna punched him in the face. She had hoped not to get too physical with him but she could feel her blood boiling.
“Oh, fuck you. You may have been some great warrior back in your day but you’re just a drunk now! The kids are going with me and you can’t do shit about it!”
Yfel’s eyes seemed to blaze in anger. He wiped a bit of blood from his lip and pushed Luna against the wall. She kicked at him and Momocha screeched in anger as he pulled his fist back to punch her.
“WHAT THE HELL, LUNA!”