Dale lazely opened his eyes as he was woken unexpectedly from his sleep. He had always been a light sleeper, but he didn't often wake up in the middle of the night for no reason. He knew that something must have woken him up, but it took him a few moments to figure it out. After lying in bed for a few moments Dale became aware of the sound of rain against the window. There was a storm going on outside.
Dale sat up and looked outside just in time to see a flash of lightning that was so bright that for an instant it seemed to light up the entire attic. Just as quickly as the light was there, it was gone again, but it was quickly followed by a roll of thunder that was so deep and close that it almost seemed like it shook the entire house.
"That's some storm." Dale muttered as he looked outside and watched as the rain fell. Fablehaven didn't often get storms, and this was probably the worst one that Dale had ever seen. He could already tell that there was going to be a lot of damage control to do around the preserve. He just hoped that none of the creatures chose now to cause some trouble, because there would be enough to do without dealing with any uprising.
Dale yawned and burrowed back under his covers. He knew that there was going to be a lot to do tomorrow, and he didn't want to be half asleep during any of it. Dale was about to fall back asleep when he heard something hit the window outside. Dale would have brushed off the noise as just another sound of the storm when he heard a quiet whimper.
"Warren, you awake over there?" Dale turned over and looked towards the other bed. He could see a little lump of blankets in the middle of the bed, and he knew that it had to be his brother.
"...No." Warren's little voice cut through the sound of the storm. Dale smiled to himself at the answer. Moments like this made him actually enjoy sharing a room with a little three year old. The kid just said the craziest things.
"Oh, well, if you're not awake, then I guess I'd better go back to sleep too." Dale said as he laid his head on the pillow and began to fake snore.
"No, wait!" Warren threw his covers off and looked at his brother in alarm. He clearly didn't want to be left alone during the storm.
"So you are awake." Dale sat up. "The rain making it hard to sleep?"
"...Maybe." Warren pulled his blankets close around him until his face was the only thing that was visible. "I'm not scared though."
"Of course not." Dale nodded. Warren may just be a kid, but he was way too proud to admit that he was was scared of anything. "We all have nights where we can't sleep." Dale scooted over and held his blanket up. "You want to come keep me company?"
Warren looked hesitant, but when there was another flash of lightning the three year old yelped and practically leaped out of his bed. He dashed to Dale's side and jumped into his bed with him. Dale smiled and pulled his little brother closer.
"You know, if you close your eyes you can almost pretend that there are creatures outside instead of a storm." Dale said. For a lot of kids the thought of a monster being in their backyard was a lot scarier than a little bit of rain, but Dale knew that Warren had a really dangerously weird fascination with dangerous monsters.
Sure enough, Warren seemed to brighten up at Dale's suggestion. "Really? What creatures?"
Warren looked out the window as he considered what to say. "Well, the lightning could come from a migrating thunderbird."
"A thunderbird?" Warren's voice was filled with awe, like it usually was whenever he was told about a creature he had never heard of before.
"They're supposed to be really big birds that throw lightning and cause thunder when they flap their wings." Dale said. That was about everything that he knew about the creatures, but he knew it wasn't enough to satisfy the kid's curiosity.
"What do they look like?" Warren asked excitedly.
Dale bit his lip. He had barely even heard of thunderbirds, let alone knew what they looked like. "Well, what do you think it looks like?"
"A dragon!" Warren said quickly. "And it has wings made out of rain clouds, and a lightning tail, and it eats dogs, and that's why dogs are scared of storms."
"...Wow." Dale muttered. He did not understand how Warren could feel more comfortable with the thought that a dragon that ate dogs was flying over their house, but if it made him feel safe from the storm, let him fantasize about whatever made him feel better. "I would hate to meet that dragon."
"Thunderbird." Warren corrected.
"Right, thunderbird, sorry," Dale chuckled. "It sounds scary."
"I want to see one." Warren cuddled closer to his brother.
"Of course you do." Dale tightened his grip on his brother, like he could somehow protect Warren from a creature that was nowhere near Fablehaven. Dale didn't understand Warren's obsession with dangerous creatures. He hoped that it was just a phase, that Warren's fascination was just a regular thing that little boys went through, but he was starting to worry that this was going to be something that would stick with Warren throughout his entire life.
Dale blamed his great-great uncle that he had never met before. Maybe naming Warren after Patton, who was probably one of the greatest adventurers of his time, had been a bad idea, because it seemed like Warren had inherited the man's desire for adventure.
Dale himself wasn't all that interested in going on adventures. He got enough adventures just helping his dad out with groundskeeping duties at Fablehaven. Warren though, the more exotic and dangerous something was, the more excited he was about it. Dale dreaded the day when Warren met an adventurer like Coulter Dixon.
Then again, it would probably be best if Warren found himself somebody that could teach him how to handle dangerous situations, because Dale had the feeling that Warren would somehow find himself in these situations anyways. If Warren was going to go on adventures, he might as well know how to take care of himself.
But Dale could save worrying about that for a later date.
Right now, Warren wasn't an explorer risking his neck to get treasures and artifacts from dragons. He was just a scared little kid who was looking to his older brother to protect him from the storm outside. Dale knew that Warren was going to grow up eventually, and it would probably happen much sooner than Dale would like, but for now he was just going to hold onto this moment for as long as he could.