It started with a scream.
Dee jolted awake at the sound of a terrified scream coming from one of his sons. His older son, Virgil, if he had to hazard a guess.
Dee immediately went to Virgil's bedroom, only to find the door open and the room empty. A jolt went through Dee. Was he too late? Did someone kidnap Virgil? What about his younger son, Remus?!
Another of Virgil's screams tore through the house. This time, Dee was close enough to recognize that the boy's screams were coming from Remus' room. Dee sprinted to Remus' room as fast as his legs could carry him, throwing the door open.
Virgil stared back at him with a horrorstruck expression. There were tears running down his face. Dee scanned the room, seeing no immediate threat. "Virgil, my dear boy, what is wrong?"
Virgil sniffed, dabbing at his eyes with one of his hands. "Monster."
Dee let out a sigh, reminding himself to be patient. Virgil was only six, after all, and he still had a hard time telling the difference between reality and fiction. "Do you want me to check and make sure that there is no monster under your brother's bed?"
Virgil shook his head, much to Dee's surprise. Dee frowned. That was always how he soothed Virgil. He would look under the bed, assure Virgil that there was nothing there, and then Virgil would go back to bed.
"If I don't look under the bed, I won't be able to check that there is no monster under there," Dee reminded him.
"But there is a monster under there!" Virgil pleaded. "I saw him with my own eyes!"
"I'm sure you just saw a shadow or something. Here, let me look..." Dee crouched down on the ground, peering under the bed.
Then he heard something let out a roar and scrambled back at once.
"I told you there was something under there!" Virgil shouted, then let out a yelp as the creature crawled out from under Remus' bed. Dee rose to his feet at once. The creature let out a growl, and Virgil immediately scrambled behind Dee. Dee, for his part, stayed directly in front of his son in a protective stance.
"You stay away from my sons!" Dee demanded.
It was a small creature, Dee noted. About the size of Remus, if he had to hazard a guess.
His size wasn't the only thing that reminded him of Remus. The creature might have growled at Virgil, but now that he stared up at Dee, he looked...well, he looked nothing short of terrified if Dee had to be honest.
Dee had a hunch. "How old are you?" he asked the little monster.
The monster frowned, tapping at...was that its chin? "I'm 1...2...3. 3!" he announced in a cheerful tone.
Dee's heart instantly melted. Three? Three? This monster was the same as his youn-
...where was his youngest, incidentally?
"Virgil, where is Remus?" Dee asked his elder son, trying to keep the panic out of his voice.
"I dunno," Virgil replied. Then his eyes widened. "What if the monster ate him?!"
Dee eyed the little monster skeptically. It was possible, though highly unlikely, given their similar size.
"What did you do to Remus?!" Virgil spat, placing all of his hands on his hips in what Dee presumed was supposed to be an intimidating fashion. Instead, Dee found it rather cute.
A glance at the monster told Dee that the young monster thought differently. "Oh dear, you're just as scared of us as we are of you!"
The monster looked as though it wanted to hide behind his own parent's legs. "What is your name, little one?" Dee asked him.
"R-Roman," the little monster told him. Roman. What a delightfully normal name for such a bizarre creature. Dee didn't even know how to describe it. Where Virgil, Dee, and Remus all had six arms and two legs, Roman only had two arms. He had two eyes like Dee, as opposed to Virgil's eight, but his face was completely pale. There were no scales, no feathers, no fur. Nothing.
"Where's Remus?" Virgil repeated, drawing Dee from his observations.
"I dunno who that is," Roman replied, sounding uneasy. Dee was fairly certain that he was telling the truth, but something told him that Virgil wasn't going to let it drop that easily. Sure enough...
"Yeah, because he didn't get a chance to tell you his name before you ate him," Virgil glared.
"Virgil, stop," Dee scolded. Virgil looked somewhat sheepish at his father's reprimand.
"Oooh, I know him," the monster said suddenly. Virgil jumped at the sudden exclamation. Roman was pointing to a picture of Remus and Virgil that sat on the nightstand next to Remus’ bed.
Virgil and Dee turned to the creature at once.
"You do?" Virgil argued an eyebrow.
"Yeah!" Roman explained. "I saw him in the Taween!"
How...helpful, Dee thought to himself. He had no idea what a 'Taween' was...perhaps it was where this monster hailed from? He supposed he'd have to get to the bottom of this mystery himself. He just hoped that Remus was alright...