“Hey…why’d you stop?” Glacia’s voice is a bit disappointed, and yet also a bit relieved. “Did you lose focus? Usually, you have very good concentration though…?”
“Ye…yea, I lost my concentration. Actually, that’s been happening a lot lately. Ever since…er, do you have any advice for how to improve my focus?” I try to change the subject away from anything to do with Lissandrei, and my teacher cocks her head. How can someone as cute as Glacia be harboring something so terrifying inside of her? This world…sometimes I feel like everyone is full of secrets.
“Well, I never really considered it, since your focus is so good. But I know a few exercises which might help.” A smile appears on Glacia’s face, though she still seems a bit troubled. “Try this…and this…while imagining this…”
“I see, I see!” Hoping that she won’t notice that I lost control of the spell on purpose, I throw myself into learning Glacia’s focus techniques with as much enthusiasm as I can. Though the day was supposed to be about Intermediate Magic, it ends up being more a lesson on how to train your concentration. The techniques that Glacia teaches me, remind me of little games. For instance, trying to move both hands independently of each other. Or trying to answer two different riddles at the same time. Thinking it through, the mindset required to do these things is very similar to what is required for me to use Disguised Casting. Hmm…with some adjustment, maybe I can work this into my daily practice!
“Well, those are all the basic exercises I skipped for you in the past. But Myrr, I think your focus is already very advanced. Rather…are you sure that your problem is really with your concentration and not a more…basic problem?” Glacia says this very softly and hesitantly. As if scared I will be angry. Huh?
“What do you mean, Teacher?” I ask, genuinely confused. The Half-Wraith’s white hair dances nervously and she looks left and right nervously, before coming back to my face. From here it looks like she’s staring at my nose to avoid looking into my eyes-
“Umm, maybe your problem isn’t with your focus, so much as it has to do with that incident?” She starts and at first, I grow afraid that she has somehow broken through Lissandrei’s memory wipe. But then she continues, “The time with, Jarold Westblade? When you tried to save Mephis? Since you failed to cast Chill at the critical moment, perhaps you’ve become unconsciously afraid your magic will fail and so…”
Ah…that’s what’s you meant.
I’m doing my best to control my emotions, but Glacia’s worried expression tells me that I’m not doing it very well.
I’ve been doing my best to forget about that time, but now that you bring it up…
“Is that my problem? I’m scared to fail…so I do?” I say it out loud and suddenly, I feel like Glacia might be on to something.
Do I have PTSD? I wasn’t a psychologist, but this kind of sounds like it…
“Pardon me for saying something unnecessary, but as your teacher, I feel I must point out anything that might help you improve. Please forgive my rudeness!” She bows her head. It seems that my teacher was worried I’d be embarrassed, but I hurriedly run over to push her chin back up. You, of all people, should never feel the need to apologize to me!
“H-Hey! No, maybe you’re right. I need to think about this more. Can we stop the lesson here?” I ask. Glacia is just happy that I’m not mad. She lets me go for the day, and I wander off into the forest to think. Is she right? I was just talking about my problems as an excuse, so she wouldn’t notice that I botched my Ice Spear on purpose. But maybe this is why I can’t use Foresight and cast spells at the same time? If looking into the future uses mana, it should just be another type of magic. Which means, that in theory, casting other spells at the same time should work fine. I assumed the reason I was failing was a lack of focus, but maybe it is related to my fear of Gatoa…
Even if that is the case, I still don’t get it. Is it really fear that’s holding me back? What’s there to be afraid of? If I can see the future and cast spells at the same time, that could only help. So why am I failing?!
“Ugh, I don’t get it!” Kicking a rock, I cool off in the forest outside Sines. The repressed emotions, that I take pains to hide in public, come out as I let my frustrations go.
“Ow Ow Ow…” Someone yelps in pain from down the trail. From the sounds of it, they’re almost as irritated as I am. To be honest, I’ve had pretty much zero dealings with the local town-folk of Sines because I spend every day in my lessons. However, what little I’ve heard from Mark, does not exactly make me eager to meet my neighbors. Apparently, ever since I arrived on the day of the blood rain, there’s been talk that I’m some sort of cursed child. Fortunately, Mark convinced Romy to let it go, or I think some of those gossipers would have experienced what a night ambush is like.
Mmm, I don’t really want to get involved with these people. I’ll just hide, I guess.
Sneaking into the sunlight-dappled roots, I use my small form to take advantage of a crevice between two big trees. There’s a little hole in the connection of their two roots and I crouch down to perfectly conceal everything except the top of my head. Unfortunately, my hiding place has lots of bugs. While I’ve learned to become a lot more tolerant of creepy crawlies in my new life, the countryside is full of them.
“Hsss…it hurts. I hate them. I hate them. I HATE THEM.” A childish voice curses. The person I heard, appears to be coming closer. They’re heading this way! Getting even lower, though I think something is crawling on my leg, I do my best to ignore the itchy sensation developing on my neck, and see who is walking in the forest. Whoever it is, keeps talking to herself, “But I mustn’t fight back…”
I think it’s a girl.
The newcomer crushes her way through the undergrowth, the same way a wounded beast would. However, despite the huge amount of noise she’s making, it doesn’t sound like a particularly large person from the voice. More like a child. Finally, when I peek my head over the top of the roots, I spot her. Carefully, I activate Foresight so I’ll be warned if she ever catches me looking at her.
“Ow Ow Ow.” The girl in question is small. She appears to be about the same age as me in this life, Maybe five or six. She’s rubbing herself all over, shivering and holding herself. One glance makes it easy to tell why, although there are so many reasons that I struggle to count them all. Bruises…Jesus, that’s a lot of bruises! Who beat her? Maybe, parental abuse? No…the wounds are too visible. An adult wouldn’t be stupid enough to leave such obvious wounds. In that case…it has to be bullying right?
Wait, hold on a minute?
What’s on her head?
“Nya…it hurts. And then mother will yell at me for coming home like this again…I hate this town…!” The girl growls. Now that she’s closer, I can focus on something other than the purple bruises splotching up her exposed skin. Her hair is a flaming orange color, and she’s wearing an oversized ripped shirt typical amongst country people in this world. It’s very big and probably covering a pair of shorts, although I can’t tell since the hem pretty much goes down almost to her knees. However, her clothes aren’t what’s confusing me. Rather, the thing which I can’t look away from is the pair of furry ears on top of her head. They’re unmistakeably…
Cat ears. Then that means…Glacia wasn’t lying…the cat people really do live among us! It’s a freaking Khajiit! Wait…this isn’t a game. What were they called again?
Hidden in my spot between the roots, I watch the cat girl painfully walk by. The extent of her wounds is clearly very bad, but she keeps muttering that she mustn’t fight back. Shaking my head, I sigh.
Ah right, I think Glacia said that they’re called Demi-Cats, right? They’re supposed to be pretty strong, physically. What else did she say...oh yea, and there’s not too many of them in this kingdom, so they have to be careful. That makes sense. Her parents probably told her not to fight back, to avoid provoking the locals, but I mean that’s only going to keep the problem going. As much as people liked to say stuff like ‘just ignore the bullies and it’ll stop’, I’ve never had any luck with that. You have to fight back! Those bullies never said anything to me once they learned what their own blood tasted like.
“Oww…oh wait…maybe if I turn my shirt inside out, mother won’t notice how bad it is…” Right as the cat-girl is almost past my hiding spot, her ears twitch, and she abruptly tugs on the hem of her shirt. Wait…hold on a second. However, my future sight can’t see far enough ahead to give me time to react. And I don’t want to move because she’s so close she might notice me. They have really good hearing, right? Unfortunately, what’s about to happen is unstoppable. Oh crap.
I should not be watching this.
I really hope the FBI can’t find the door to this dimension.
This…this looks bad…but I’m not a predator!
The cat-girl takes her shirt off. There is nothing underneath but more bruises. Her undeveloped body does nothing for me, but I can confirm that besides bruises, it is not furry or hairy like a cat underneath. Nope, no hair whatsoever yet. By the time I look away, she’s already turning her shirt inside out and trying to get it back over her head. But then…she stops walking.
Huh? Why’d she stop?
When my gaze travels upwards to her face, two pairs of amethyst cat-like eyes stare back at me. They really do look feline with slits instead of regular circle pupils. However, the expression of shock on her face is absolutely human. Very, very, human indeed.
“CRAP!” I can already imagine the interdimensional FBI busting down the Gate to this dimension. Without hesitation, I pop out of my hiding spot and start running for it. I didn’t mean to commit any crime!
“Y-You! Were watching?!” A startled cry rings out behind me, but I’m already gone. No way. Nope…I’m outa here! Get me out!
An indignant yowl echoes through the trees as I sprint away. Fortunately, Romy’s training has made me adept at escaping from sticky situations. Not today! Nope…I already sleep with a full-grown woman every night…well…Glacia’s not quite done growing…but she’s eighteen, okay! This was an accident! AN ACCIDENT! Praying that the girl didn’t see enough of me to identify me from a police lineup, I sprint back to Romy and Mark’s house. Even though I didn’t really do anything wrong, the whole way back, I look over my shoulder, expecting a vicious ambush at any moment. When I arrive at the front lawn and no one follows me, I let out a sigh.
Well…now I feel a bit silly. She was hurt. There’s no way she’d chase me in her condition. What am I even running for? Technically I’m the same age so no one would care. I just made myself seem more suspicious by running. For that matter, is there even a law about underage people in this world? I’m pretty sure Glacia said that the royal family often marries their kids at like thirteen or something ridiculous. Power plays...typical uncivilized crap.
“Hey, Myrr. Something wrong?” Mark glances over from the field he’s working on seeding with crops. When he’s not hunting wild beasts, or on patrol for monsters, he helps Romy plant vegetables. It’s a strange sight, because even though Romy is stronger, Mark is also probably pretty strong.
I’m still not entirely sure why either of them retired from being adventurers or warriors. For that matter, I still don’t know what it was they used to do with my parents in the ‘old days’. Or why those assassins were after my family. They always dodge the question when I ask, just like Mephis used to.
Mark examines my ruffled appearance,
“You look out of breath. It’s rare to see you so out of sorts. Did you spot a pretty girl in town? Tsk, tsk, even though you already spend so much time with Glacia you’re already straying…” He teases me.
“G-Girl?” I can’t help it. Mark somehow managed to guess the truth with surprising accuracy. Even a master of deception like me, has trouble keeping my emotions hidden in such a situation. “Hahaha…yea as if something like that would happen. Ha…ha…”
“Huh?” Mark might act a bit silly at times, but he’s being annoyingly sharp right now, “Wait, don’t tell me you actually…is little Myrr turning into a heartbreaker? So, you’re getting to that age now, huh? Maybe I should hint to Romy that you’re getting too big to sleep with Glacia…”
“Try that and I’ll undo everything I’ve done for you.” My mood shifts to instant-kill when he touches my reverse scale. He doesn’t pick up on what a mistake he’s made at first. Bad move…Mark! “Who do you think got Romy to make up with you!”
“W-Wait, that was you?” Mark gulps. Looking at my face, he must be seeing a truly scary expression, because I’m definitely failing to hide my emotions properly right now. “Hahaha…I was…just joking, Myrr. You…know that right? How about I help you buy a bigger bed? Oh wait, that might be counterproductive…errr, I could secretly adjust the bed! What if I made it a little smaller! Then Glacia would have to get even closer, how would you like that?”
“Tch…” I let the darkness in my soul, come out into the open for a second, and Mark visibly shivers. Perhaps it isn’t Romy levels of killing intent, but anyone who messes with my relationship with Glacia is asking to die! That’s right…know your place…you poor, whipped worm. “Don’t trouble yourself.”
“Hehe…Myrr, you really are a bit strange sometimes, you know that?” Mark says jokingly, but his eyes have a hidden steel in them all of a sudden. As my killing intent begins to leak through again, he puts his hands up, showing his dirty palms in surrender, “Relax, relax. I’ve gotten used to it. And you’ve done nothing but bring joy to Romy so I can’t complain. If I could finally have a blasted child, I wouldn’t mind if they turned out like you.”
“Really?” I tilt my head, surprised. “You mean that, Mark?”
“Well, okay, I’d be a little creeped out. But you work so hard, I think I’d be pretty lucky if they had one tenth of your drive. Just…you know…you have an uncle here, okay? So, if you ever need to talk about anything, or discuss…you know…your body changing…or something like that. Or girls! I’m here…” Mark sighs, “You know, back in my day, I used to have a few girlfriends. I mean after Romy, it’s not like I could do anything with them even if we met up again, but…”
“And like, come on, is it too much to ask for her, to let her man show his manly side sometimes…?”
I wink furiously at him. However, my idiot uncle is too lost in the past to see that his future is about to slam into his present. A faint shadow appears over his shoulder. She’s not wearing her raccoon mask, but like I said…for Mark…that doesn’t seem to matter.
So, this is what it looks like when a deer at the watering hole doesn’t notice the lioness sneaking up on it.
“Seriously, sometimes I think you’re the biggest man in this household, Myrr…what with Romy constantly making all the decisions and…” He continues to talk until he realizes that my eyes are fixed over his shoulder. I’m surprised it took him this long to notice. Her killing intent is truly on another level. You can almost see the death god’s scythe hanging over his neck. Oh wait, no…that’s Romy’s cleaver. “Myrr…blink once if I’m dreaming. Blink twice if I should run.”
I furiously blink as many times as possible. It doesn’t matter. Even if I shut my eyes tight, the screams Romy wrings from her husband’s throat are impossible to keep out.
Oh Mark…may you rest in pieces. Hold on, if you defend yourself properly, you may die with a complete corpse. Ooooh…wait, Romy, you can’t actually use the knife! You’re stronger than him, no matter what Mark says! Don’t use it! S-STOP! I’m still a kid in this world, you can’t show M rated stuff!
“ARRRRRRRGH! PLEASE I WAS JUST KIDDING! LET ME SHOW OFF IN FRONT OF MYRR FOR ONCE! IT WAS A JOOOOOOOOOKE! I’LL NEVER DO IT AGAIN!”
That night at the dinner table, I once again became convinced that Mark would never have children.