Slightly Contradictory

edited November 2017 in Original Stories

Hello everybody!

I'm pretty new to writing, in fact this is the first piece of literature that I have submitted anywhere public. I'm writing this because I really enjoy reading xianxia stories, and I not only want to submit my own story that hopefully other people will enjoy, I also want to write a story that I will enjoy.

So anyway, please enjoy, and any constructive criticism or advice you may have would be greatly appreciated!

SYNOPSIS                                                   

I did not expect to die, but for the same outcome I would gladly die once more.

I did not expect to wake up again, but when I did I was immediately told to die.

I did not expect anything from this new life, which has since given me so much.

I still do not know what the future holds, but there is one thing I am certain of;

I will fight to get there if I have to, and I will fight twice as hard for my family!


Update schedule:

I will try to update three 1500-3000 word chapters a week on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday Pacific Time Zone.

Comments

  • edited November 2017
    Slightly Contradictory

    Prologue

    Prologue

     

    They used to call me Contradiction. They would ask me how I put fires out instead of making them worse, what with that fiery temper of mine. Or why I'm so hot-headed, even though the equipment should protect me from the heat. It's funny how your mind works. It always used to annoy me when they teased me over and over again every chance they got, Contradiction this, Contradiction that, I really hated it. But now as I lie here, I feel that those moments are some of my fondest memories.

     

     

    "Contradiction! After this shift is over, we should celebrate your birthday! How does barbecue at the park sound? Or we could go to that barbecue joint that opened recently. There's also barbecue at the bar and grill a couple blocks from the station..."

    My name is Calandra, though I usually go by my nickname Cal. And this is Rob, one of the older firefighters at the station, at 38 years old. He's like an older brother to me; in fact, everyone here is like my family.

    Ever since I could remember, my family consisted of me, my dad and my older brother. Dad said that mom died in a car crash when I was 3, which is why I don't remember her. But when I was 12, a fire broke out in our house, killing my dad and brother as well. I was the only one that survived. That event seriously traumatized me. I was afraid of fire for years after that, and became extremely introverted.

    Anyway, the person that adopted me after the fire was my father's good friend Eric, who was also the firefighter that saved me. After my house caught on fire, he recklessly rushed into the burning building by himself, which is the only reason that I'm still alive. After he adopted me, he would often take me to the station with him. Going there really helped me open up to people, slowly bringing me out of my shell. And after hearing all of the fire fighters' stories, I eventually decided I wanted to be a firefighter as well when I grew up.

    Now Eric is the fire chief, and I finally became a full-fledged firefighter a couple years back, at the age of 21!

    "I already told you to call me Cal! And why are all of the options barbecue?"

    He grinned, "Because I really like it!"

    'Haa, at least he's honest.'

    "I guess I haven't been to the park for a long time, we could-" before I could finish, our pagers went off.

    Apparently there was a fire in the park, a pretty big one at that. I was a little relieved. Calls like this are usually simple, and hardly ever have any casualties.

     

    As we were heading out, Rob just couldn't stop laughing.

    "What's so funny?" Richard, one of the other firefighters, asked.

    Rob, who could barely articulate by this point, managed to stammer out, "Well I was just now telling Cal we should all celebrate her birthday today, and asked her where we should go. Guess where she chose?"

    After he finished talking, he burst out laughing again.

    Everyone looked at me funny.

    "That's Contradiction. With her temper she just needs to talk about it and it'll burn!" joked Kenny, one of the other firefighters, prompting everyone to laugh.

    "That's not even funny! If you're going to tease someone, at least make sense! You guys and your stupid jokes, I swear."

    "Alright everybody, settle down. Let's not tease her too much." chuckled Eric.

    "You say that, but you're probably laughing the hardest inside..." I grumbled, causing everyone to start laughing again.

     

    Once we got to the park, I immediately felt something was wrong. Ever since I can remember I've had really good intuition, a sort of 6th sense if you will. I can usually tell when people are lying, or if someone nearby is in danger, stuff like that. And I had a really bad feeling this time.

    I started looking around immediately once I got out of the fire truck. There were a couple groves of pine trees near a playground, with a couple grills scattered around, possibly the source of the fire. One of the groves of trees was on fire, one of the flaming trees having fallen on a large wooden playset. I immediately grabbed an ax and started sprinting towards the playground, leaving everyone else behind.

    As I got closer to the playground, the feeling was getting stronger. The part of the playset that the tree fell on had already collapsed, the fire slowly spreading through the rest of the playset. I quickly started searching, shouting to see if anybody could hear me.

    "Help, I'm over here!" I heard someone yell from close to where the tree fell. I hurried over to where I heard the voice, and as I got closer I saw a little boy trapped underneath a partially collapsed section.

    "Don't worry, I'm here to help you. What's your name? How old are you?"

    "I'm Berry, I'm 6 years old." he said as he held seven fingers up.

    Just barely holding back my laughter, I asked, "What were you doing under here?"

    "I was hiding from the fire. Can you save me?"

    "Saving people is what firefighters do best! Now can you tell me where your parents are?" I kept talking to him as I worked, asking him questions, trying to keep him from panicking.

    I tried to find a way for him to get out without having to use the ax, but it was no use. All of the exits were either blocked by debris or collapsed. If I were to try to clear an exit by hand, it would have taken far too long.

    "Ok Berry, I'm going to use this ax to get you out of there, but it may make the playset fall down. When I tell you to, I need you to get out as fast as you can!"

    Seeing Berry nod, I took the ax and started chopping. But just as I was nearly finished making a hole, I got a bad feeling. Sure enough, the playset started tipping, seemingly about to collapse. Sensing there was no time, I started kicking the wood, breaking it, and immediately grabbed the stunned Berry. But as soon as I pulled Berry from the playset, the whole thing started falling towards us. Too late to escape the collapsing structure, I pushed Berry onto the ground and shielded him with my body in a desperate attempt to save him.

    I felt the wooden boards and beams fall on me, causing me to collapse, pressing me on Berry. Luckily, or maybe not, nothing hit my head very hard, leaving me mostly conscious. I don't think the rest of me was so lucky though, considering I could hardly feel anything, and everything I COULD feel hurt. Then I suddenly remembered Berry.

    "Berry? Berry, are you ok? Answer me Berry!" I barely forced the words out, hoping he was alright.

    No response.

    'Calm down Cal, he's probably just unconscious.' My intuition told me that he was safe, and my intuition was almost never wrong.

    'I don't feel like he's in danger, but I'll crush him if they don't find us soon. Hurry up guys!'

    As if responding to my silent plea, I heard people shouting nearby. "Cal?"  "Cal where are you?!"  "Cal!"

    "Here... I'm here..."

    "Guys she's over here! Hurry up!"

    I was surprised by the weak voice that came out of my mouth, but it seemed like someone heard me. Luckily most of the debris that fell on us was not on fire, allowing the other firefighters to start removing it immediately. I thought there was a lot more on us than there was, but it seemed we were lucky. After no more than a couple minutes, they were removing the last pieces of debris.

    "Cal, what were you thinking?! We were still getting ready when I saw the structure collapsing with you lying underneath it! You always-"

    In the middle of Eric's lecture, he suddenly stopped speaking mid-sentence.

    "Wha-... Nobody move her! Why is there no stretcher?! Somebody get a stretcher! Hurry up, QUICK!"

    "No, there's-" *cough* *cough* *cough*

    "Shhh Cal, stay still, there's help coming."

    "No!" *cough* "Child, there's a child, under me, hurry, hurry..." I trailed off.

    When he heard me, after a moment of shock, Eric decisively had several other people help him move me. I thought I was completely numb by that point, but apparently not. Even though they were being careful, it felt like my body was being ripped apart. After they put me back down, I felt a wave of exhaustion sweep over me as I just lie there, on the brink of unconsciousness.

     

    I was suddenly woken from my stupor as I felt myself being lifted up again, winding up on a gurney. Unexpectedly, I felt great. I was unprecedentedly clear-headed, feeling almost no pain.

    'Maybe I'm not really hurt that bad!' I thought.

    As I was transported to an ambulance, I saw Berry in another ambulance, covered in blood. I was almost scared to death!

    Right after I was lifted into the ambulance, I saw Eric step in and nod to the EMTs; they nodded back and stepped out of the ambulance.

    'What's with that weird exchange?'

    Ignoring the strange behavior, I asked nervously, "How's Berry? The kid in the other ambulance..."

    "He's fine. He has a couple broken ribs, but he's stable. It's a miracle really." said Eric as he sat beside me.

    "But all of that blood..."

    "Most of that blood is yours. What were you thinking anyway, going off on your own like an idiot?" Eric scolded.

    "Idiot? I saved his life!" I defended.

    "That's not my point; you should have brought other people with you!"

    "There was no time! And besides, what am I supposed to say? I guess something like 'Hey guys, I feel the presence of a human over there! Let's go save them!'" I said sarcastically.

    Eric seemed unusually distressed, saying, "Yes! Say that! I would believe you, I've always believed in your intuition. Why couldn't you have just asked for help?"

    "What about the time you saved me? You said you rushed in all by yourself! How was that any different?" I countered.

    "Because I didn't die!" he shouted, burying his face in his hands.

    Shocked, my eyes widened.

    "What...? I'm not dead, I feel great!"

    "The paramedics said they can't do anything to save you. They said technically, there's no way you should even be conscious! They told me I should stay here with you for your last moments; do you even know how it feels to hear something like that? Do you Cal?!" he said with his face still in his hands, trying to hold back his tears.

    I was shocked. I knew I had some bruises and lacerations, and maybe a couple broken bones, but I never thought I was dying. After what felt like an eternity of silence, I finally spoke up.

    "....I'm sorry. I really don't feel any pain though, so please don't worry about me. I actually feel great... I say as I sit here dying. I guess I really am a contradiction, huh?"

    "Haha, why are you apologizing? You're the one in such a horrible state." said Eric as he wiped his tears away.

    Suddenly I heard some voices outside the ambulance.

    "Hey!"  "Contradiction!"  "Heya Cal."  "Cal, are you ok?"

    It was Kenny, Rob, Richard, and Charles, my best friends.

    "Hey guys, I'm doing good. How are you doing?"

    "Good?! What 'good'? You look horrible!" said Rob, and while he was grinning and joking like usual, he didn't seem like his usual happy self.

    Kenny silently sat down beside Eric after entering the ambulance.

    As for Richard and Charles, who were brothers, they started scolding me about going off by myself, just like Eric did. Unable to hold back any longer, I burst out laughing.

    "You guys are acting like my mom! You two and Eric, haha, always scolding me for everything..."

    Before I could finish, my eyes started tearing up. Five grown men sitting there scrunched together, it should be comical. But all I could think of was, soon, I would never see them again. Seeing me start to cry, all of the guys decided to stay quiet and let me sort out my feelings.

    After crying for a while, I finally calmed down, suddenly feeling sentimental. Seeing the group of guys beside me, I decided to vent it all on them.

    "You know, I always thought of you guys as family, sniff."

    Seeing some shocked expressions, I giggled, "If it weren't for you guys telling me stories and playing with me when I was younger, let alone my fear of fire, I think I'd still be afraid of people. I don't know if you know how much you helped me. After the accident, I couldn't even go to school I was so traumatized. When Eric decided to bring me to the station, I didn't want to go at first, but when he told me that the people there hate fire as much I did, I decided it was worth a try."

    After I said that they all started laughing.

    I felt myself getting more and more lightheaded. Feeling I didn't have much time left, I decided to get something off my chest.

    "Eric, can I ask you something?"

    Eric nodded.

    "Can I call you dad?" I asked as I stretched my hand out.

    "Of course you can!" said Eric, teary eyed, as he smiled gently and clasped my hand in his.

    "I love you Dad. And Rob, and Richard, and Charles, and Kenny..."

    Soon my eyelids get too heavy to keep open any longer. Seeing me close my eyes, everyone else grasps my hand as well.

    As I lie here, consciousness fading, fond memories flickering through my mind, I ask myself one thing;

    'Is dying supposed to feel this comfortable?'



  • edited November 2017
    Slightly Contradictory

    Chapter 1


    Chapter 1: An Interesting Day

     

    "You must die!"

    I suddenly wake up to someone shouting.

    'Wha, what was that?! What's going on?'

    Everywhere I look, it's black. Well that or I'm blind. Do I even have eyes? For that matter...

    I try moving around.

    'It seems I do have a body. What the heck is going on? Why is it so hard to move? Why can't I see anything!'

    Suddenly I start feeling sleepy. Reminded of the moments before my death, as well as the shout I just heard, I get scared and start panicking. After a futile struggle to keep awake, I finally drift off to sleep.

     

    "You must die!"

    'Ah! What the- what was that?!'

    As I calm down, I start recalling yesterday. I remember I heard that same shout. Is this going to happen every time I wake up?

    I start feeling around again. Is it just me, or is it easier to move? I get excited and start moving around. It feels almost like I'm in water or something...

    'WHAT?!'

    At this realization I start panicking, until I realize... I don't need to breathe? Now that I think about it, other than breathing, I also don't feel hungry or thirsty. Somehow, the liquid I'm in won't even enter my mouth?

    'Maybe I actually am dead...?' I wonder.

    As I start feeling tired again, I'm not as anxious this time. I let sleep gently take hold of me, drifting off into a peaceful slumber.

     

    --

     

    How long has it been. Months? Years? It's hard to tell when everything is so dark.

    Other than the disorientation caused by the constant lack of light, It's actually quite comfortable in here. Sure it's boring and lonely, but at least it's exciting waking up stronger and stronger every day! I can also stay awake longer now. It's because of that that I was eventually able to explore my surroundings. I seem to be in some sort of huge spherical container filled with water.

    I was originally going to try and break the container once I got strong enough, but then I thought, what if I'm some sort of water creature? Without water, would I suffocate?

    About that, I also noticed my body is shaped different than that of a human's. I'm not sure exactly what I look like as there's no light, but I do know that I have hair covering my whole body, a tail, four legs, no hands, and no opposable thumbs.

    'Man, how inconvenient.'

    And on the subject of the disturbing shouts I heard every time I woke up, originally it was happening every morning, but it started getting less and less frequent. It's been a long time now since I've heard the last shout. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad it's gone, but I'm really curious as to what that was. Was it in my head, or was the voice coming from outside?

    Since there's no point worrying about it, I guess I'll just wait and see what happens.

     

    --

     

    I can stay awake constantly now. I can't sleep even if I want to. No need to sleep, eat, drink, what sort of creature am I?

    I don't know how long I've been here, probably several years at least. Unable to wait any longer, I have finally decided to try to break out. I tried waiting to see if anything would happen, but I'm still trapped here. And if I can't breathe without water? I prepared an ingenious plan for that, which should have been obvious in the first place! Water flows down right? Since that's the case, I'll just break the top of the container open! At least I think it's the top...

    'Haa, whatever.'

    I let myself settle to the bottom. Once I reach the bottom, I start swimming straight up. Since I've practiced this maneuver many times already, I know about where the top is. As I near it, I punch out as hard as I can!

    Boom!

    '...'

    There wasn't the hole that I was expecting. Rather than calling it a 'hole' it was more like... the entire top exploded? After it broke, large amounts of liquid splashed towards the ground, but I found myself still going up! As I quickly lose my upward momentum, I eventually start tumbling down toward to the ground.

    Thwack!

    I hit the ground like a pancake. Surprisingly, even though I impacted pretty hard, I barely even felt it. Reorienting myself, I suddenly notice that I'm not in the liquid any longer! I instinctively hold my breath, then I remember that I can't even breathe. Starting to relax, I release my breath, and quickly find that I can indeed breathe.

    'What's going on? I don't seem to need to breathe, but I still can?'

    Since I still don't feel like I'm going to pass out, I start to observe my surroundings. Underneath me is a large gray brick platform, built from circle shaped bricks with four-pointed star bricks between them. In the process of admiring the bricks, I suddenly realize that I can actually see now. And everything is so bright! Seeing sunlight for the first time in so long, it almost makes me cry.

    As I look around, I see mossy rocks, green grass, and beautiful flowers all around me. There is a pretty creek not far from where I am, making relaxing splashing sounds. I seem to be in a large clearing in the middle of a forest. Most of the trees in the forest are about the same height, but there are some trees that are gigantic, jutting far above the rest of the forest! Above me, the sun shines... brightly...

    'Wait, that's the moon? Two... four moons?! Is this not Earth? And why can I see so well at night? Is it because there are so many moons in the sky? Why do I keep asking myself questions I can't answer?'

    Temporarily putting aside the subject of moons, I start analyzing the container that I just broke out of. Though rather than a container, it might be more accurate to call it an egg. The egg is completely black, and the liquid that was inside is definitely not water. It is dark purple in color and much more opaque than water, like grape juice. The egg looks like it used to be a sphere when it was whole, just like I had speculated from inside, but what surprises me is how thick the shell is. How did I even break it? It's at least as thick as I am long, including my tail!

    And that brings me to my new body. Being stuck in pitch blackness for so long, somehow I always pictured myself having black hair. But far from black, my hair is completely white! Not just my hair, my claws, skin, every part of me I can see is white. There's not even any residue from the purple liquid I was in. Even the bottom of my feet- er, I guess I should call them paws now? This feels so weird...

    In order to get a better look at myself, I decide to take a look at my reflection in the creek. The purple liquid from the egg won't work, as it's not very reflective.

    Having made up my mind, I try standing up.

    "Uohh?"

    It's surprisingly easy. I thought I would have trouble keeping my balance at first, but other than the occasional stumble, I can walk pretty normally. Seeing as I have little trouble standing or walking, I start heading towards the creek.

    On the way, I notice some strange symbols on the ground. They seem to stretch all the way around the platform that the broken egg is on.

    'These are written on dirt, how are they still here? Were they made recently?' I wonder as I try to touch one. Nothing.

    They look like they're carved into the ground, but I don't think they are. I can't even feel the symbols at all. What's going on?

    Continuing on, I scan the creek for a still area. Discovering a particularly large and tranquil body of water, I head towards it. As I reach the small pond, I'm shocked.

    'I'm adorable!'

    The first thing I notice as I look at my reflection is that I'm not completely white, though my eyes and the inside of my mouth seem to be the only things that have color to them. My tongue is a normal pink color, the rest of my mouth looking normal as well.

    'Why do I have a mouth and nose even though I don't need to eat, drink or breathe?' I ask myself.

    As for my eyes, they are completely black. It makes for a sharp contrast with my otherwise white self.

    And my appearance? I look almost exactly like an arctic fox! My nose is white instead of black, and there may be a couple other minor differences, but for the most part I look the same. The arctic fox was my favorite animal in my previous life!

    "Maybe it's fate?" I ask myself.

    Hearing my voice, I gasp. Though I'm shocked that I can even talk, what surprises me even more is what my voice sounds like. How should I say...? I don't really sound like a girl. For that matter, my voice doesn't even sound human. It sounds very high pitched, almost like I breathed in helium, while also sounding quite rough. Suddenly realizing something, I hurriedly investigate myself.

    "Whew, still a girl."

    Relieved, I look back at my reflection, and notice something shining just below my neck, mostly obscured by fur. Pushing some fur to the side, I examine my chest. The object lodged in my chest is white, with about the same size and shape of a marble. I try poking it.

    "Haha, I can feel it!"

    I can feel it when I poke it, almost as if it's part of my body! How strange. I try using my claw to poke and prod it to see how it's attached to me. But while I can keep my balance on four legs pretty easily, it seems I'm not ready to stand on three yet. As I stand there examining the object, I suddenly lose my balance, instinctively putting my raised paw on the ground in order to balance myself. Unfortunately, in the process of lowering my paw, I scratch the marble.

    "AHHH!"

    Pain! Extreme pain! As I collapse and curl up, I'm one hundred percent certain that this is the most painful thing I've ever felt. I can't explain the feeling properly, as it isn't something I've ever experienced before. It feels like something more than just my body hurts.

     

    "Haa, haa, haa..."

    It's been a couple hours, and the pain has still not subsided much. I'm lying down, trying to relax and wait for the pain to go away, when suddenly a shiver runs down my spine. It feels like my so-called intuition, but somehow different. Much stronger. Almost as if I can vaguely see my surroundings, all at the same time. I start trying to grasp this new feeling, when I hear a rustling sound in the distance.

    'That far away? I could never feel anything from that distance before...'

    I see a creature slowly prowl out of the vegetation. It looks like a massive cat, easily the size of a large elephant. Its appearance is similar to that of a leopard save for its blood-red coat, littered with even darker red spots. It also has four elongated teeth protruding from its upper jaw, with eyes as pitch black as mine. And considering the way those eyes are looking at me, I don't think it's here to chat.

    Suppressing the intense pain wracking my body, I start crawling towards the broken egg. I don't know exactly why I decided to go towards the egg. I guess it just feels like a safe place to me now.

    When the monster sees me crawling away in the direction of the egg, it suddenly starts running towards me. Seeing the monster sprint at me causes me to panic, as I start trying to run as well.

    "Ouch! Ah, hah."

    I slipped and fell. Looking back, I see the monster slow down not far from where I am and start to circle me. I curl up as much as I can and turn to face it.

    "Grrr."

    After circling me for a while, the big cat makes a low growl and pounces at me. I try to defend, but I can't react quickly enough. With a single swing, it slaps me away with a paw that's bigger than I am. Not prepared for the strike, I tumble farther away from the egg, now with a bloody slash mark across my left shoulder.

    When the monster sees me shakily sit back up, it looks at me playfully and starts circling me again.

    Regaining a defensive posture, I start looking for any terrain that might give me an advantage. Desperate by this point, I spot a tree not far from me. If I'm able to climb that tree, I may be able to escape this situation! Waiting until I'm between the monster and the tree, I make my move.

    "Stupid cat! Is that all you got?!"

    After it hears my taunt, the monster freezes for a second. It then rushes at me and swats at me again. Ready for it this time, I'm just barely able to defend myself. Holding up my paws, I take the blow head on and get sent flying directly towards the tree.

    'Hahaha! It actually worked! Dumb cat!'

    Standing up, I make my way towards the tree as fast as my pain stricken body can take me, not daring to look back. Since it's not that far away, I arrive at the tree rather quickly. As I start scaling the tree, I realize that I'm a rather good climber.

    Feeling that I'm a safe distance up the tree, I look back to see where the monster is. All that awaits my eyes is the view of its massive frame hurtling towards me, with its jaws wide open. I react quickly, jumping off the tree as fast as I can, but I'm too late. It grabs hold of both of my back legs, clamping them between its jaws.

    "Gah!"

    Seeing it grab my legs, something inside me snaps. I feel rage boil up inside of me, as I bend sideways and slash at one of its eyes.

    "ROARRR!"

    It lets go of my legs, and we both tumble to the ground. I hit the ground with a thud, feeling foggy headed and achy all over, but I know I can't lose consciousness yet. Barely standing up with my wounded back legs, I leap with one last burst of strength towards its neck. Since the monster is preoccupied with its wound, it doesn't seem to even notice me coming.

    'Think you can play with me and kill me at your leisure?! See if I don't kill you first!' biting down as hard as I can onto its neck, I taste blood seeping into my mouth.

    As soon as I bite it, the monster starts flailing and roaring wildly. Unable to properly reach me with its paws, the beast starts rolling on the ground. Not daring to let go of its neck, I further tighten my grip, latching on with my claws as well.

    After holding onto its neck for what feels like hours, occasionally getting grazed by its claws, the monster finally falls. Battered and bruised, I release my hold, sliding off onto the ground. Just before I close my eyes, as I drift off, I see a stream of red fog float out of the monster and head towards my chest.



  • Slightly Contradictory

    Chapter 5

    Chapter 5 - Mama Bloodcat

     

    It has been several days since I met Mama Bloodcat and her cubs. Her scars seem worse and worse every time I look at her. She has numerous scars covering her body, seeming to have gone through many battles. Her back right leg is completely missing, long healed over by now, one of her ears is almost completely gone, and she has a huge scar stretching across her face, slicing her nose nearly in two.

    "It's decided. I'm going to take Mama Bloodcat to the Eggshell and let her soak in tonic!"

    As soon as I finish talking, the bloodcat cubs tackle me again.

     

     

    I scan the area from the top of a tree, searching for the tree that marks home.

    "Wow, I ran a bit farther than I thought!"

    Climbing back down the tree, Mama Bloodcat looks on worriedly.

    "Don't worry, I'll be fine!" I yell.

    Reaching the ground, Mama Bloodcat starts licking me.

    "Hehehe, haha hey that tickles! Hahaha..."

    After giving me a bath, Mama Bloodcat seems satisfied, and proceeds to give each of her cubs a bath. After she finishes, I walk up to her.

    "Hey Mama Bloodcat, can we go that way?" I point the direction of the big tree.

    Mama Bloodcat looks at where I'm pointing. Not sure if she understands or not, I start walking that direction, looking back at her once in a while. As I glance backwards again, I notice her walking towards one of her cubs. Stopping in place, I watch as she picks one of the cubs up and places it on her back! Shocked, I stare wordlessly as she does the same to the rest of the cubs, and then tries to do the same to me. Though I would love a piggyback ride, I temporarily reject the idea and start heading towards the giant tree.

    "This way!" I shout as she trails behind me.

    After a couple hours of travel, we finally run into trouble. Looking straight ahead of me, I see another bloodcat, comparable in size to the first one I saw after coming to this world. I start wondering if it and Mama Bloodcat are acquainted, until I see her start to snarl. The other bloodcat flinches, then steadies itself and snarls back, leering at the cubs on Mama Bloodcat's back! Infuriated by its actions, I jump in front of Mama Bloodcat and the cubs and start growling. The bloodcat glances at me dismissively and then turns its attention back to Mama Bloodcat.

    'Underestimating me? Bad Idea!'

    As the bloodcat starts to advance, Mama Bloodcat shakes her cubs off of her back and walks in front of all of us, still snarling. The bloodcat halts its steps, still vigilant towards Mama Bloodcat. Since the bloodcat is focused on Mama Bloodcat, I decide to take this chance to strike. I sneak a few steps forward, and leap at the huge bloodcat.

    "Roar!"

    I was aiming for its neck, but the bloodcat dodges its head out of the way before I can reach it. Though I missed my target, I'm still able to bite its shoulder, prompting a pained howl from the bloodcat. But due to my failed attack, I'm forced to release my hold and drop towards the ground in fear of retaliation. Landing on the ground safely, I dart in the opposite direction of Mama Bloodcat and the cubs in an attempt to lead the bloodcat away.

    Right after I start running, I hear an angry roar behind me and, turning my head back, I witness an incredibly shocking sight. The bloodcat that I just bit is howling in rage, preparing to chase me, but right beside it is Mama Bloodcat. Time seems to slow down as Mama Bloodcat, who is less than half the size of the other bloodcat, closes in and slaps the bloodcat's head with her paw. After receiving the slap, the bloodcat is lifted off the ground, flying head over heels dozens of feet straight into a tree!

    Thwack!

    The bloodcat slams into the tree hard enough to knock it down.

    "..."

    After making sure that the bloodcat is dead, Mama Bloodcat walks over to her crying cubs and starts licking them as if nothing just happened.

     

     

    On the way to the Eggshell, the creatures that confront us the most are surprisingly other bloodcats. Some of them are relatively small, and decide to back off, but the majority are much bigger than Mama Bloodcat, and very aggressive.

    Most of the bloodcats we have run into are easily handled by Mama Bloodcat, but in front of us right now is a bloodcat that's nearly as small as Mama Bloodcat. As soon as Mama Bloodcat saw it, she started acting really worried. She is currently pacing back and forth in front of me and her cubs, growling and snarling, while the opposing bloodcat is merely standing there, seemingly looking down on her. I slowly walk towards Mama Bloodcat and try to comfort her

    "Don't worry, we can take-"

    Before I'm able to finish my sentence, I'm forcefully batted away by Mama Bloodcat and sent tumbling backwards! Shocked and confused, I stand up and glare at her, but she doesn't notice. Her full attention is still on her opponent.

    Without warning, Mama Bloodcat suddenly dashes towards the bloodcat. Nearly unfazed by her missing leg, she clashes with the bloodcat, leading to an intense brawl. Seeing wounds quickly appear on Mama Bloodcat and her opponent, I start to understand how she might have gotten all of those scars.

    Not long after the brawl started, it's already finished. Mama Bloodcat takes a few steps backwards, covered in wounds. But even though her body is covered in shallow wounds, she seems nearly unfazed, still pacing back and forth and growling. Her opponent, however, seems considerably worse off. It has blood dripping from numerous wounds, each much deeper that the wounds on Mama Bloodcat. The bloodcat looks shocked and terrified. It likely never expected to lose out in the first exchange, let alone so badly.

    But the shock and terror lasts only a few short seconds, soon replaced with rage. The bloodcat releases a mighty roar, and with it comes a bright light. A split second later, I see a pillar of flames emerge from the bloodcat's mouth!

    I look worriedly at Mama Bloodcat, but she actually seems calmer that she was moments ago. As the flame pillar nears her, she opens her own mouth, which releases a bright light of its own. Shortly after the light, flames erupt from her mouth.

    As the flames near each other, I expect to see them clash in midair, but such a thing doesn't happen. When the flame pillars finally meet each other, Mama Bloodcat's much brighter fire continues forward, consuming the opponent's fire as it actually seems to grow stronger! With its mouth still open, the bloodcat receives Mama Bloodcat's attack and is immediately knocked backwards, engulfed in flames. It frantically rolls on the ground for a few seconds before going limp, still burning.

    My mouth hangs wide open as I attempt to process what just happened. If Mama Bloodcat hadn't pushed me away, if I had joined the fight, I might have wound up just like that bloodcat.

    My attention is suddenly attracted by a cloud of red fog being released by the bloodcat corpse. I'm used to this by now, fog is released by dead creatures, but I have never seen this much before, nor any this dense! This is much more than those elk creatures released, by several times! As the fog enters the bead on my chest, it feels like energy is coursing through my body, making me stronger!

    Lick lick lick!

    My thoughts are interrupted by a slobber attack.

    "Ah, ahaha, stop! Stop! It's okay, I'm alright! Hahaha!"

    But Mama Bloodcat is relentless. By the time she stops licking me, I'm covered in saliva. She then picks me up and puts me with her cubs. Now that things have calmed down, I notice that she's panting pretty heavily. That fight must have taken a lot out of her.

     

     

    I'm rather excited as I climb down the tree. We're almost there! Looking at Mama Bloodcat though, she seems pretty nervous.

    "What's wrong, Mama Bloodcat?" I ask.

    She doesn't respond, merely looking in the direction of the Eggshell.

    "Come on, let's go." I urge.

    Still alert, she continues to follow me.

     

     

    We finally reached the Eggshell! But for some reason, Mama Bloodcat is acting extremely nervous right now. Why does everything seem so afraid of this place? As I walk towards the Eggshell, I suddenly find myself hovering several feet above the ground.

    Struggling until Mama Bloodcat puts me down, I ask her, "What's wrong? What are you so worried about?"

    "Stop."

    "Huh?" did she just talk?

    She turns around and walks off. Confused, I sit down and wait. After less than a minute, she walks back into the clearing with a sitchle in her mouth. She then proceeds to spit the sitchle at the Eggshell! Expecting the projectile to hit my precious home, I almost freak out when suddenly the sitchle disappears.

    I try to walk forward in order to see what happened, but Mama Bloodcat stops me again.

    "Stop." she says as she walks off again, coming back with another sitchle in her mouth.

    "..."

    Sorry sitchles.

    As she spits out another sitchle, I watch it more carefully this time. I notice that as it passes over the symbols surrounding the stone platform, it actually turns to dust.

    "..." I sit there speechless.

    So many things suddenly make sense. Why are there so few creatures in this clearing? Why is it so safe in the Eggshell? Why did the first bloodcat I met panic when it saw me head towards the stone platform? It must all have something to do with this.

    Stepping forward again, Mama Bloodcat tries to grab my scruff.

    "It's okay Mama, I know what I'm doing." I comfort her.

    I don't know if she is able to understand me or not, but she stops trying to pick me up. Walking towards the Eggshell, I quickly step over the symbols, to show Mama Bloodcat that I'll be safe. Seemingly appeased, she walks back over to her cubs, who are currently wrestling with each other.

    Observing the symbols, I once again try touching them. Nothing. I look back at Mama Bloodcat. After looking at her for a few seconds, I turn my attention back to the symbols and immediately use my claws to scratch at them. Nothing!

    "Ahhh! Stupid thing! Why! Won't! You! Break!"

    I continue to desperately claw at the symbols. After several seconds, I look at them again. Not a single scratch.

    "RAH! She's so close! I bring her all the way here, and nothing!"

    Suddenly, I have an idea. If I can't bring her in, I'll bring the tonic out! Stepping inside, I grab a piece of eggshell. Hollowing it out with my claws to make it into a bowl, I proceed to dip it into the tonic. Retrieving the bowl of tonic with my mouth, I carefully bring it to the edge of the symbols. Mentally crossing my fingers, I try stepping through.

    Thud!

    As I try to bring it past, the eggshell bowl will not go past the symbols.

    "Haa, haa, haa, haa..."

    Taking deep breaths, I try to calm down. I pick up a rock and attempt to bring it through the shield. Success! Quickly crafting a bowl out of the rock, I fill it with tonic and attempt to step outside.

    "Pleasepleasepleaseplease..."

    Slosh!

    The rock bowl can go through the shield, but the tonic is stopped at the shield and splashes to the ground.

    "No..."

    I sit down.

    "It can't be... I was so close..."

    Fueled by desperation, I suddenly have a crazy Idea. Peering down at the symbols, I concentrate on them as hard as I can with my clairvoyance.

    "WHOOSH!"

    Massive amounts of information flood my head. And just as soon as it starts, the flow of information ceases. I hold my head in anguish. My head feels like it just got run over by a freight train, but there's not even a hint of a frown on my face. No, I'm smiling from ear to ear.

    There's still hope!



  • Slightly Contradictory

    Chapter 6

    Chapter 6 - Cracking The Code

     

    "Ah, then that must be... wait no, then that means... aha, of course, of course..."

    At first whenever I interacted with the symbols, I was unable to handle all of the information, and was forced to withdraw my consciousness almost immediately. The ensuing headaches would nearly incapacitate me for the better part of a day. But over time I must have gotten used to it, and I was able to handle the information better and better. Now I can study the symbols for hours at a time, and although I still get headaches a lot, they aren't nearly as bad as the ones I got initially.

    Every time I study these symbols though, I lose track of time. At first I was only trying to find a way to turn off this barrier. That's still my goal, but I've come to enjoy the time I spend examining the symbols, learning more about them.

    The more I study them, the more I feel these jumbles of interconnected symbols often act similar to math; everything has logical rules to it. I always loved math in my past life, and I was pretty good at it too, but the difference is on Earth I had teachers and reference books to help me learn. But here, though I do have these symbols to study, I have to learn their properties by myself. The hardest part is learning how each symbol interacts with the others. I do feel my proficiency in math has helped me with this though!

    "You should not work on that all day, you will make yourself sick again! Come eat."

    "Just a minute Mama, I'll be done soon!"

    "Okay dear, but please do finish quickly."

    After the first time I heard Mama Bloodcat speak, I started trying to teach her words. At first I thought that she might have just been mimicking me without knowing what she was saying, but that wasn't the case. She has human level intelligence at least, though she's much smarter than anyone I've ever known. I only had to explain a word to her once, and she would remember what it meant. She was able to hold a basic conversation within a week, and was almost completely fluent within a month!

    The cubs were much slower picking it up, but they eventually wound up learning how to talk as well.

    After appeasing Mama Bloodcat, I turn my attention back to the symbols. It's been several years since Mama and the cubs settled down near the Eggshell, and since then I haven't had much success with the barrier. But a couple months ago I happened upon a section that seems important. My intuition tells me that it's some sort of on-off switch, but I have yet to find out how to flip it on or off.

    Why don't I just change a random part in order to make the entire equation invalid, you may ask? Well, I can't. I'm able to send power through the symbols and observe their reactions, but it's like a circuit board, I can't seem to move anything. That is, until a couple months ago. That's why I think it's an on-off switch. Out of the thousands of symbols I've examined, this is the only group of symbols I've found that I can actually move around.

    And so I continue rearranging the symbols in different positions as I have been doing for months, when suddenly, as I connect two symbols, I'm hit with a sudden burst of inspiration.

    "That's it!"

    I start madly connecting the symbols, building off of the first two I connected.

    Shua!

    A beam of light pierces the sky, originating from the symbols surrounding the Eggshell. Lingering for a few seconds, the beam of light is then swallowed back up into the symbols.

    "I did it! Mama, I did it!" I shout as I run into the forest.

    Coming back with a sitchle in my mouth, I drop it in my paw and throw it over the symbols.

    Bonk!

    The sitchle hits the side of the stone platform, after which it quickly scurries away in a daze.

    The cubs look wide-eyed at me.

    "You did it sis!"  "Good job!"  "My sister is so cool!"  "Hooray!"

    They all get excited, though I'm not sure if they know what they're excited about. Feeling proud of myself nonetheless, I suddenly recall the original purpose of this endeavor. Running to Mama Bloodcat, I start trying to drag her to the pool of tonic.

    "Mama, hurry!" I shout excitedly.

    "I will dear, but I would like to celebrate this special occasion first."

    "Hmm?" my siblings and I tilt our heads.

    "I would like to give you all names."

    "A name?" one of my brothers asks.

    "Yes, a name. Your sister tells me that a name is something a parent gives to their child to call them by. Therefore I will grant each of you a name, so you may address each other by more than just sister and brother."

    With sparkling eyes, my siblings line up one by one, with me at the end.

    Mama slowly walks up to my brother.

    "You are kind and patient. You are good at talking, and better at listening. To you my son, I shall give the name Casus."

    "You are brave and persistent. Even if you fail and take a loss, you still try again. To you my son, I shall give the name Regis."

    "You are intelligent and generous. You solve problems, and ask for nothing in return. To you my daughter, I shall give the name Eile."

    "You are steadfast and resourceful. Pressure means nothing to you, you always find a way. To you my daughter, I shall give the name Tisa."

    Arriving in front of me, Mama continues.

    "You are passionate and decisive. You do not shy away from danger, instead rushing straight at it. To you my daughter, I shall give the name Lyna."

    After Mama Bloodcat finishes, everyone is silent for a while, until...

    "Mom says I'm brave, so you should all follow me!" states Regis.

    Eile adds, "The leader is supposed to be smart, idiot! I should be the boss."

    I start feeling a little bit guilty for teaching them such words.

    "If you nominate me as leader, I will be a stable and resourceful boss!" Tisa persuades.

    "Patience is a virtue. A good leader should always be patient!" proclaims Casus.

    Having no idea how they even learned some of these words, I sit beside Mama Bloodcat.

    "Mama, I think you just triggered a death flag."

    "What is a 'death flag'?"

    Figuring the death flag would probably dissipate if I point it out, I just shrug at Mama's question.

    "Children, Mama is going to follow Lyna, behave while I am gone."

    """"Yes Mom!""""

    Leading the way, I walk Mama Bloodcat to the pool of tonic. But instead of directly jumping into the liquid, she puts a paw in it. Not long after putting her paw in, she suddenly recoils. Worried, I ask her what's wrong. Mama answers my question while looking at her paw incredulously.

    "I am merely shocked by the properties that this liquid possesses. Already I can feel the scars on my paw healing."

    Now that it's confirmed that it can heal her scars, I get impatient.

    "Hurry Mama, get in!" I shout as I jump into the pool of tonic.

    "Alright dear, Mama is coming." she laughs.

    Even with her huge body, Mama Bloodcat easily fits inside the pool of tonic. To my surprise, once she fully enters the pool, she actually starts floating in the liquid! I always sink like a rock. I guess my body is denser or something.

    Getting out and standing on the edge of the pool, I ask, "How does it feel?"

    "How should I explain... scratchy? No, there is a word..."

    "Tingly?" I ask.

    "Yes, tingly." she replies, smiling.

    After several hours of soaking, Mama exits the pool to eat and drink. It seems that in the short time she was in there, some of her smaller scars have already healed! Looking excitedly at her missing leg, I don't notice any immediate change. I guess I can't really expect it to heal that quickly, but I still feel a bit disappointed.

     

    --

     

    It's been about a month since Mama Bloodcat has started taking baths in the tonic. All of her scars have healed by this point, even the one across her face. But more exciting than that is, her missing leg is healing! It's pretty slow, even now she has only grown about a quarter of her leg back, but I'm still super excited. But she seems much more excited than I am!

    "Look children, look at how much it has grown! Soon I will be completely recovered, and we can roam anywhere we would like! We can finally hunt as a family!" exclaims Mama, clearly excited.

    With one of Mama's legs missing, not only does it slow her down, it also makes being quiet much harder. But even worse, it makes her look like an easy target. Many creatures seem to view her as weak, and attack her on sight.

    Casus is the first to speak up. "I'm so happy for you Mom!"

    "Congratulations Mom." says Regis, with his usual straight face.

    "Too bad it won't grow any faster..."

    "It will be grown soon enough, don't worry Eile."

    'Aren't you comforting the wrong person, Tisa?'

    Hesitating for a moment, I ask, "Mama, how did you lose your leg?"

    As I ask that, everybody looks towards Mama Bloodcat.

    "My leg... It was when I even younger than you cubs." She lies down, and we all sit down beside her. "I was hunting with my sister, when we ran into a creature that walked on four legs, and had two sharp legs that it swung around."

    I interrupt, "Arms?"

    "Arms?"

    "Yes, arms are like legs that you don't walk on."

    "Yes, then they must have been arms. When I saw the creature, I was afraid to go near, but my sister ran straight at it. Before I could even stop her, she had already been split in two by the monster. The creature moved so fast, I could not even see it. It then looked at me. Paralyzed by fear, I could not even move. The creature walked right in front of me and proceeded to cut my leg off. I collapsed, closing my eyes, fully expecting it to kill me. But when I opened my eyes, the creature was dragging the two halves of my sister, as well as my leg, away. To this day I do not know why the creature did not kill me. After I returned to my mother, she abandoned me because of my missing leg. Ever since then, I have traveled alone, until I got you cubs." she smiles at us.

    "What about our father?" asks Eile.

    "He parted from me long ago. Our species does not usually pair for life." says Mama.

     

    --

     

    I observe Mama's leg, now missing only the tips of its toes.

    "Mama, your leg is going to be good as new soon!" I exclaim.

    "Then we can all go out hunting!" adds Regis.

    "Children, I will take longer this time. I feel something coming."

    "Something?"

    "I am not sure what it is. I feel I am about to break through something, to become stronger."

    "Ahh, so like a level up?" I ask.

    "Yes." Mama laughs.

    "Please take as long as you need! I'll take care of things while you're gone." says Casus. Surprisingly, he's the one that became the leader in the end. I guess with enough patience, you can just wait until everyone else gives up and you become the boss by default.

    Looking satisfied, Mama climbs into the pool.

     

     

    It's been three days, and I'm honestly a bit worried about Mama. She hasn't been out once this whole time, neither eating nor drinking. I've checked on her many times, and she's still alive, but her eyes have been closed ever since she entered the tonic. She doesn't react to anything, almost as if she's asleep.

    I'm currently in the process of checking on her again. As I near the Eggshell, I notice a glow emanating from it. Jumping up onto the side of the pool, I realize it's Mama that's glowing! After I observe her condition for a while and confirm that she doesn't seem to be in danger, I head back to where my siblings are. On my way back, I suddenly I hear a faint buzzing sound coming from behind me. Looking back, I see the light from the pool has gotten much brighter. When my siblings see it, some of them start rushing towards the pool.

    "Stop!" shouts Casus. "We need to leave her be. This is probably an important time for her."

    Everyone agrees and stops. Deciding to wait it out, we restlessly wait for Mama to finish.

    We wait patiently for about an hour before we notice a change. The bright light starts slowly dying down, eventually disappearing. When the glow finally disappears, I cautiously approach the Eggshell. When I finally get there and peer inside, I'm speechless.

    In the pool where Mama was, there is now a beautiful woman floating on the surface. She looks to be about 30 years old, with red hair and sharp, chiseled facial features. Feeling something is off, I suddenly realize. She doesn't have any cloths on...

    "Shoo shoo, all of you, go!" I start shooing my siblings away.

    Now that I think about it, they're not humans so they probably don't even care, but still...

    After I chase my siblings away, I jump back onto the side of the pool.

    "Mama...?" I call hesitantly.

    The beautiful woman in the pool suddenly opens her eyes. Rather than the black eyes I expected to see, what greets me is a set of eyes that look surprisingly human, save the bright red irises. She slowly holds her hands up in front of her face, wiggling her fingers back and forth. Afterwards she swims to the side of the pool and grabs onto the edge, pulling herself out.

    "I may look different, but it is still me, dear." she comforts as she walks closer and tries to hug me.

    Dodging the hug, I release an awkward cough.

    "Um, Mama, you should get some clothes..." I say.

    With a speed much faster than I have ever seen her achieve, Mama scoops me up and gives me a hug. Seeing my shocked expression, she laughs.

    "What are 'clothes'?" she asks, smiling.

    "Uhh, clothes are for uhh, it's something to cover your uh, body when you don't have... fur..." I stutter out, trying to look away.

    "Are you afraid of this appearance? I am sorry..."

    "No! I think you look beautiful Mama, it's just, you uhm... you need some clothes. It's embarrassing when you don't have any..."

    She makes an 'ah' sound and puts me down. Suddenly with a flash she has a red robe draped over her body.

    "How is this?" she grins.

    Stupefied, I look at her robe. It looks very simple, but... she just materialized clothes out of nowhere! I start excitedly instructing her. Shorten this, lengthen that, add this, tighten that. Though it's a bit crude, we eventually craft it into a relatively pretty dress, if I do say so myself!



  • Slightly Contradictory

    Chapter 7

    Chapter 7 - This Seems Backwards

     

    Since her breakthrough, Mama Bloodcat has spent most of her time in human form. She is able to freely transform between human and bloodcat form within seconds, but she says that her human body is more convenient. As for the reason it's more convenient...

    "Ahaha, Mama, stop, it tickles! Haha!"

    "Hehehe." Mama giggles.

    I'm a bit vexed. Ever since Mama transformed into a human, she got a lot more mischievous! The way she pets and tickles me all the time, I can't tell whether she considers me her daughter or her pet! Though I can't say that I hate it, since I do enjoy all of the attention...

    "Mom, are you bullying Lyna again?" asks Casus.

    "Motherly love, it is just motherly love." laughs Mama.

    "Okay, we're going to go hunting alone then." says Regis.

    "Stay safe." warns Mama.

    Sitting on Mama's lap, a question suddenly pops up in my mind, one that I have been wondering for a long time. I can't help but ask, "Mama, why did you adopt me?"

    Looking confused, Mama replies, "What is 'adopt'?"

    "Uhm, it means to make someone part of your family, even though they aren't related to you."

    "Adopt, I will remember that word. Do you remember when we first met?" she asks.

    I nod my head.

    "When I first saw you, I felt you were very strong. Not long before we met, I had fought a very strong steeg. I wound up killing it, but I was injured and exhausted during the fight. The rest of its group ran away after that, so I thought the matter through, but that night they came back to attack me. No matter how many of them I killed, the rest would always run away and come back the next night. So when I noticed such a strong creature that seemed hostile towards us, I was afraid for me and my cubs' lives. But suddenly you retreated, no longer seeming hostile. I was confused. But when I noticed you hide in the bushes, I thought the reason was that you were waiting to ambush us."

    "...You saw me?"

    "Yes dear, I saw you." she smiles. "And when the steeg finally came that night, I found you were still waiting. I decided to use my strongest attack immediately in order to kill the two steeg in front of me. I was planning to kill the two quickly in order to deal with the danger behind me, but due to my exhaustion, my attack was not able to fully kill even one. I thought I was done for. I already had little confidence in dealing with the situation, but when my attack failed, I lost all hope. But when I happened to look behind me, all I saw was a dead steeg. Soon after, I heard a sound and turned back around to see yet another dead steeg!" she makes exaggerated hand motions to show how shocked she was.

    I nod my head vigorously, "And then what?"

    "Well, after I killed the last steeg, I finally noticed you. You were covered in blood and had a large wound on your back, but you just sat there as if nothing happened. I was unsure of your intentions, so I was still wary of you, but then I saw you start to retreat again. At that moment, I suddenly realized. You were waiting in the bushes not to ambush us, but to protect us, were you not?"

    I give an embarrassed nod.

    Mama smiles, "So when I saw you with such a lonely look on your face, what else could I do?"

    "Hehe." I snuggle up to Mama, as she pets my head.

    Mama seems to hesitate for a minute, but finally speaks.

    "May I ask what you were doing out there alone? What happened to your family?"

    "..."

    Mama smiles, "You do not have to tell me if you are not ready."

    "No, it's just... a bit of a long story, haha..."

    "I will listen for as long as it takes."

    "Well, uhm, I think I was reincarnated into this world. Reincarnated is like, I died, but then I was born again as a new creature. But I still had my memories from my other life." I look at Mama to see how she would react.

    She looks like she's pondering. Noticing that I stopped talking, she smiles and says, "Go on."

    "Ah, well, even in my other life, I didn't have a mother, but when I came here I didn't have any parents. I think I was born in that." I point at the Eggshell. "Except that's just half of it, I broke the other half off of the top to get out. I spent a long time in there before I was strong enough to get out though. And it was completely dark inside, so I was bored and lonely, and a little bit scared. Anyway, once I broke out, I was really happy. I was finally able to see and hear things! But not long after I got out, I accidently injured myself, and then got attacked by a bloodcat."

    In the middle of my story, Mama suddenly starts emanating a murderous aura.

    A little startled, I hurriedly add, "Ah, but I killed it after that, and healed all of my injuries in the tonic."

    Mama relaxes again and smiles at me.

    'That was a bit scary.'

    "So after I fought the bloodcat, I was actually pretty excited. With nothing to do for so long other than think, I guess fighting allowed me to finally alleviate my pent up boredom and frustration. After staying here for a while, I finally decided to travel into the forest in order to experience that feeling again. And when I saw you, I..."

    Mama giggles, "You were planning on fighting me?"

    A little embarrassed, I continue on, "Well, uh, when I saw that you had children, I decided not to, and... sorry. I was just really touched that you were still protecting your children, even though you were in such bad shape. And when you carried... haa, carried me over, and treated me like- sniff... you know, treated me like your- hic... I'm sorry, I just..."

    Mama picks me up and hugs me. I really wish I would stop crying so easily.

    "I guess I just didn't even notice how lonely I was..."

    "Do not worry Lyna, you will not have to be lonely anymore." says Mama seriously.

    'Not lonely? Is she planning on staying with me forever?'

    Remembering Mama's aspirations of traveling the world as a family, hunting wherever, whatever and whenever we want, I get an idea.

    I suddenly jump off of Mama's lap and proclaim, "We should take a trip!"

    Mama Bloodcat is at first taken aback, and then asks, "Are you ok with that? Is this place not your home?"

    "It's fine, watch this!"

    I run over to the symbols, channeling my conciseness into them. Suddenly, everything within the circle of symbols, including several feet of dirt, disappears.

    "... What just happened?" asks Mama.

    I show her a gold chain hanging around my neck, "I found out how to do this a few days ago, it's right here!"

     

     

    My brothers and sisters come back, each dragging a steeg with them. These kids sure have gotten stronger recently, and it seems they're already bigger than Mama Bloodcat in her bloodcat form.

    "Mama, why are you so small?"

    "Small? Am I that small?" she asks a little dejectedly.

    Looking at Mama's well built form, I quickly amend, "No, I mean as a bloodcat!"

    "Oh, that. When I was younger I was much bigger. But as I grew stronger and older, I started getting smaller again. I am not sure why."

    "I see." I nod.

    Suddenly, "Mom!" shouts Tisa.

    "Look at what we got!" says Eile.

    "We were lucky this time, we ran into two groups of two steeg." smiles Casus.

    Regis just drops his and doesn't say anything, but he looks very proud of himself.

    Mama praises them, and continues, "Children, I have something to say after we finish eating."

    They nod, and we all start eating. Honestly I found raw meat gross at first, especially the texture, but over time I gradually developed a taste for it. The black eyed creatures taste the best in my opinion. But unfortunately, although there are many types of creatures around here, only a few types have black eyes. Out of those, steeg are by far my favorite! We don't eat bloodcats by the way, that would be disgusting.

     

     

    Everyone is sitting around Mama, like we usually do when she has something to talk about.

    "Children, I will get to the point. I wish to explore the world. Where I go, there may be no other bloodcats, no steeg, and there will undoubtedly be dangers along the way. You are all old enough to live by yourselves, so I will not force you to come with me. But if you do wish to come with me, I will gladly bring you along."

    They stare silently at Mama for a while, until Eile speaks up.

    "Mom, I was planning to tell you this sometime, but I found someone. I know you said bloodcats don't usually pair for life, but he already said that he..." If bloodcats could blush, her whole face would probably be beet red by now. I mean, I know it's already red, but you know.

    Mama smiles and hugs her. The contrast between a human and a bloodcat, it reminds me of some videos I have seen on earth of humans and big cats. Except this big cat is much bigger than any I have seen on earth.

    "I am very happy for you. You must introduce me to him before I leave."

    Regis speaks up next, "I also found someone. And like Eile, I plan to spend my entire life with them. I'm sorry mother, I cannot come with you."

    'Regis? That straight-face? He paired up?'

    Mama congratulates Regis as well, also expressing her desire to meet his partner. Afterwards Casus and Tisa, although they haven't found anyone, also want to stay behind.

    After the family meeting is over and everyone goes their separate ways, I still have a question I want to ask.

    "Did you expect them to stay behind?"

    Hearing my inquiry, Mama looks toward the sky. "When I was their age, I enjoyed being away from my mother. It may in part be because she abandoned me, causing me to possess resentment toward her, but I had long guessed that part of that feeling exists in them as well."

    On her face is an expression I have never seen on her before. She looks so sad and lonely.

    Unsure of what to say, I simply lay down in her lap. Mama gently pets my head, and I gradually drift off to sleep.

     

     

    The next morning, Mama makes good on her intentions and asks Eile to take her to her boyfriend. I decide to go with them, and as soon as Mama returns to her bloodcat form, we head out.

    When we reached the male bloodcat, it turned out he was a bit younger than Eile, he was slightly smaller than even Mama Bloodcat. I couldn't understand what they were saying, as they were talking in the bloodcat's language, but Mama seemed quite happy with him.

    As for meeting the female bloodcat that Regis is pursuing, I tagged along that time as well. When I saw the bloodcat that was half again as big as Regis, I was a little surprised. Shortly after she and Mama met, they actually started fighting! Mama easily subdued her of course. After the fight, Mama said something to Regis and left. Catching up with her, I asked Mama why they suddenly started fighting.

    "A battle maniac. As soon as she saw me, she said she wanted to fight me. She reminds me of a certain someone." laughs Mama.

    "Eh, I wonder who that would be..."

     

     

    Over the next few days, the cubs start showing up less and less often. Though, I guess they aren't really 'cubs' anymore. It's nearly night now, and none of them have shown up since yesterday.

    Ever since we had the meeting, Mama has not been smiling as often. She's constantly furrowing her brows, as if she's trying to make a tough decision.

    "We will leave tomorrow."

    While I lie in the grass playing with a sitchle, I suddenly hear Mama speak. As I look at her face, I see a relaxed expression, one I have not seen for several days.

    "Are you sure?"

    "Yes. They have made their decisions. I am reluctant to part with them so soon, but some things must happen." She breathes in deeply, probably in an attempt to hold back her tears.

    "It's ok, they'll be safe, I'm sure of it. And who knows, maybe when we come back you'll have grandkids!"

    "What are 'grandkids'?"

    "Grandkids are like, your children's children."

    "Oh, I would like that!" Mama gives an energetic smile.

    The next morning, we set off.



  • Slightly Contradictory

    Chapter 8


    Chapter 8 - What Doesn't Kill Me

     

    In my past life I heard something about lions pushing their cubs off cliffs in order to make them stronger, but I never really believed it. I still don't believe that lions do it, but after today, I think that bloodcats might.

    "How could you Mama! Betrayal! You bully!!"

     

     

    About an hour earlier.

    Not long after leaving the clearing, we run into a huge yellow beetle that's easily as big as a bloodcat. As I watch the battle between the beetle and Mama Bloodcat from the side, I notice something interesting. Mama is using the same fire attacks that she has always used, but differently. Instead of releasing the attacks from her mouth, the attacks are coming from her hands, and she seems to be able to change the attack's direction in midair. It doesn't take long for the battle to end, and I walk towards her full of questions.

    "How did you attack with your hands? Oh, and how did you manipulate the attack in midair?"

    "What is 'manipulate'?"

    "Oh, to manipulate something is like to control it."

    Mama nods her head and changes the subject, "Have you still not awoken your ability?"

    I answer a little awkwardly, "Well, I remember you said you awoke it while you were fighting, so I guess I just haven't had a good enough battle yet!"

    "I see, I see." Mama reveals a suspicious looking grin.

    "Uh, Mama? What, um, what are you thinking about?"

    Mama quickly reverts to her normal self, "Oh, I was just thinking we should head that way!" she points in a direction.

    A bit nervous, I use my clairvoyance to explore the direction she pointed at. Not far off, I detect a group of entities, and they don't seem weak!

    "Uhh, you know, I was hoping we could head this direction." I say as I start walking in the opposite direction.

    Swish!

    I suddenly find myself leaving the ground.

    "Children must listen to their Mamas." Mama smiles as she lifts me up by the scruff.

    "Ahh! Mama! I'm sorry! What did I do? I won't do it again! I promise!"

    "Oh honey, you have done nothing wrong. I am doing this because I love you. This is for your own good!"

     

     

    The next thing I know, I find myself in a pit, being chased by a group of black-eyed brown boars that are each easily over five feet long.

    "Stupid pigs! Stupid Mama! Just wait until I get out of here!"

    Considering how low the sides are, I should be able to escape easily, but when I tried earlier, I got blocked by Mama.

    "This is for your own good!" she repeated.

    Glancing at the boars behind me, I start getting worried. Before, I could run away easily, but they seem to be getting smarter. Now whenever I get near the edges of the pit, the boars start spreading out to prevent me from escaping! As I near the edge again, I grit my teeth and jump.

    I land on the side of the pit and prepare jump over the top of the boars. But mid jump, I notice a boar rapidly approaching me from below.

    With a thud, the boar's nose hits my stomach. I don't feel any pain from the impact, but there's another problem. The attack pushed me farther into the air, giving the boars ample time to surround me. As I land on the ground, I realize that there's now nowhere to escape to. Fighting seems to be the only option, so I single out a boar and go towards it!

    Before it can react, I jump on the boar's head, grabbing onto it with my claws.

    "Skree!"

    Quickly crawling up the boar's head until I reach its neck, I bite it as hard as I can!

    Crack!

    "Ouch!"

    I break its neck causing it to fall limply to the ground, but the bite broke one of my teeth as well.

    "Skreee!"

    Seemingly enraged, the rest of the boars charge me with renewed vigor! Jumping off of the fallen boar's body, I start fleeing the boars again. As I reach the edge of the pit, I jump on the wall again, but this time I use it as leverage to jump at another boar!

    I ram into the side of the boar, sending us both tumbling. Taking the opportunity, I bite as close to its throat as I can.

    "Skree!"

    Unable to inflict a fatal wound, I try to jump off and flee, but am intercepted by a boar ramming me. Regaining my bearings, I find myself surrounded by boars again, except this time they seem much more wary of me.

    "Scared huh? Hahaha!"

    Seeing them afraid of me somehow makes me excited! Taking advantage of their fear, I charge one of them again. As soon as they see me move, all of the boars behind me immediately charge, while the ones in the direction of my charge flee. With my speed, I quickly catch up to my target, tackling it. But this time, instead of trying to bite it, I jump off of it as soon as I can. As I resume running, I look back and see the boars that were chasing me trample the boar that I just tackled, slowing them down and even tripping some of them.

    "Ahaha! Attacking each other, you guys are idiots!"

    Scouring the area, I spot the boar that I had injured earlier. Since it was in the direction of my earlier charge and ran away by itself, it's now all alone. Licking my lips, I start chasing it. As I near it, it starts crying for help. Looking back, I see all of the boars that were chasing me are now quite a ways back.

    "Haha, looks like-"

    As I turn my head forward again, I notice that the boar has stopped and turned around. Unable to stop in time, I instead decide to pounce at the boar, but this time it was ready for it. As I tackle it to the ground, I bite the side of its neck, but in the process it also bites my front left leg.

    "Mfff." I release a muffled cry.

    Biting its neck harder, I try to quickly kill it, but suddenly I hear a crunch.

    "AHHH!" I release the boar's neck.

    As soon as I let go of the boar's neck, it also releases my leg and scurries away.

    Holding my broken leg, my mind goes blank for a moment, and I quickly find myself surrounded by boars again. There are seven of them left, the rest dead or too injured to fight. Slowly standing up again, I see one of the boars charge. Balancing on my back legs, I try to jump on the charging boar's head. I successfully grab its head with my right paw, but before I can get a good hold, the boar bucks its head.

    Flying through the air, it feels like everything is going in slow motion. I look sideways and see another boar charging at me already. The sight of the boars surrounding me, taking turns attacking me, it really makes me angry.

    'You guys are just like that bloodcat, bullying the weak! You think I'll just give up without a fight?!'

    I start feeling an unknown power build up inside of me. The power seems to naturally move throughout my body, as if it has a mind of its own. Revealing a spiteful grin, I focus my attention on the boar that's running towards me. The only thought going through my mind, to kill these cowardly pigs that are ganging up on me!

    "You want to take advantage of the situation huh?! You wish!"

    As I shout, I feel the strange power flow through my body up towards my head. With my blurred vision, I witness a white beam exit my mouth, piercing directly through the charging boar's forehead.

    As I hit the ground, I see the charging boar collapse, no longer moving. My consciousness fading, I am barely able to utter a few more words before passing out.

    "Serves you right..."

     

     

    "-m sorry..."

    'What?'

    "I am so sorry..."

    Hearing Mama's voice, I squirm a little bit.

    "Lyna?! Lyna darling, are you awake?"

    "...Mama?"

    "Oh Lyna, I am so sorry. Do you feel okay?"

    Feeling her squeeze me, I release a muffled grunt of pain, after which she apologizes and loosens her grip. Opening my eyes, I see Mama's face hovering directly above mine.

    Looking around, I realize Mama is cradling me in her arms. On the ground, I see numerous charred boars.

    "Hehe, Mama, did you do that?" I glance at the scorched boars surrounding us.

    "Of course I did, they were trying to kill my child!"

    "You're so much stronger than me, Mama."

    She is silent for a while. After a few seconds, she slowly speaks.

    "That is why I did that. I would love to be able to protect you your entire life, but if ever there is a situation where I cannot, you must be able to protect yourself."

    With those few words, I feel all of my previous resentment fade, replaced by a warm feeling in my heart. I lean my head on Mama's arm, "I love you Mama."

    Mama smiles, "Now hurry up and bring out the Eggshell, you need to quickly treat your wounds!"

    Remembering my broken tooth and leg, the pain suddenly hits me.

    "Owowow, hurry and put me down Mama, so I can let it out!"

    Mama giggles and puts me on the ground.

    Fwoosh!

    On an empty spot not far away, a large stone platform with half an egg on it that's surrounded by grass suddenly appears. I start limping towards it, but before I can get far, Mama scoops me up and jumps onto the side of the pool. She then gently places me in the pool. As usual, I sink like a rock to the bottom of the tonic.

    "Make sure to recover quickly!" I hear Mama say from above me.



  • edited October 2017
    Slightly Contradictory

    Chapter 9


    Chapter 9 - That's New

     

    As soon as I settle at the bottom of the tonic, I feel a tingling sensation all over my body. As the tonic mends my wounds, I simply lie down, taking this time to wind down and relax after that battle.

    After a few minutes, I start getting bored, so I focus my attention on the ability that I just awakened. I try to replicate what happened when I was fighting, and to my surprise, I'm able to control it immediately. It's almost as if I have always been able to do it, it feels perfectly natural.

    The feeling is reminiscent of the one I get when I absorb colored fog. It feels like a current of energy is flowing through my body, but it can't go everywhere. It seems to flow through some sort of circuit, all the way to my mouth where it somehow turns into an attack. As for where the current originates, it's actually the marble on my chest. To my knowledge, Mama Bloodcat doesn't even have a marble. I'll have to ask her when I recover.

     

     

    My tooth and leg have finally healed after a couple days. Though I guess normally a broken bone should take a lot longer than that to heal, and I'm not sure a tooth should be healing at all. I guess I've started to take tonic for granted, it really is amazing!

    As I reach the surface of the Eggshell, I climb onto the side. After a quick survey of the area, I see Mama lying on the grass beside the stone platform, sleeping. I quietly make my way over to where she is and lie down, quickly finding my eyelids getting heavy.

     

     

    Yawn!

    "Good morning Lyna, I have breakfast."

    Opening my eyes, I see Mama with a dead boar beside her.

    "Ahh, Mama, I have an idea!" seeing the dead boar, I suddenly think of something.

    "What idea would that be?" asks Mama.

    "You see, in my previous life, we would cook meat before we ate it. Would you be able to do that?"

    Mama tilts her head, "What is 'cook'?"

    "Oh, right, cooking is um, like making food hot."

    Mama nods and rips off a piece of boar meat. "Tell me when." she says as she starts releasing fire from her hand.

    Seeing the meat slowly turning brown, I wait a while.

    "Now!" I say when the meat looks done.

    Mama smiles and hands me the piece of cooked meat. Grabbing it as best I can with no opposable thumbs, I take a bite out of it. Though the meat is tough and there are no seasonings added to it, it really does taste nostalgic.

    "How is it?" asks Mama.

    "It's good! But I think I like it uncooked just as much." I reply, handing her a piece.

    She takes the piece and eats it. Nodding, she says, "I think that I agree with you."

    After we finish eating, I ask Mama how she can shoot fire out of her hands again.

    "I could do that only after I was able to transform into this form. Why do you ask, are you having trouble using your ability?

    "No, I can use it, I was just wondering if there are any tricks to controlling it."

    Mama looks surprised. "You are able to use it already? Can you show me?"

    Nodding my head, I channel the energy through my body, releasing a white beam out of my mouth. But as the white beam exits my mouth, I notice something. The beam that I had previously thought to be solid white actually has a sliver of purple on it! Shocked, I stop my attack and hurriedly claw the fur away from the marble on my chest. Noticing my odd behavior, Mama looks as well. I stare silently at the white marble with a purple streak through it, which looks suspiciously like the beam I just shot out of my mouth.

    "What is that?" asks Mama, pointing to the marble.

    "I think I was born with it, I don't know what it is exactly." I reply.

    Curious whether Mama might know anything, I narrate the events that led up to me getting the purple streak. Then, using my ability again, I show her the nearly identical purple streak and ask her if she knows what might be going on.

    "I do not know what it could be." Mama shakes her head.

    Since there's no use thinking too much about it, I decide to move on. After talking with Mama Bloodcat about abilities for a while, I learn that it took her quite some time to learn how to use hers after its awakening, thus her initial shock. I also learn that Mama channels her energy from her stomach area.

    "You store it in your stomach?" I ask, a little surprised.

    "Do you not?"

    "Mine comes from this marble in my chest." I say as I look at it.

    Mama makes a small frown and thinks for a while.

    "It may be a trait of your species, I am sure everything will be fine. Instead of thinking about such things, we should keep moving." smiles Mama.

    Retrieving the Eggshell, I second her opinion. Mama chooses a direction, and we start moving.

     

     

    On our journey, Mama has me fight everything that attacks us, as long as she doesn't deem it too strong, in order to gain more experience. Not that I need much convincing to fight!

    "Ha!"

    Swinging my paw at a red bear with horns, it meets my paw with its own. Compared to the bear, I'm actually stronger, but my small size is rather disadvantageous in a head-on fight. I'm sent flying by the attack but am left otherwise unscathed. The bear, on the other hand, has blood dripping from its paw. Jumping at it again as soon as I hit the ground, the bear fends off my second attack with its other paw. I land on the ground again and start circling the bear.

    "You're the one that tried to ambush me, aren't you embarrassed getting beaten to this point?"

    The bear starts getting more agitated as it hears me. I learned from Mama that even before she could understand what I was saying, she could often grasp the general meaning behind my words.

    Proceeding my taunt, the bear starts to build up energy, causing its claws to glow red. I prepare to dodge an attack, but the bear suddenly stands up on two legs and starts running towards me! The sight is rather humorous, and I nearly burst out laughing as the bear frantically pursues me. After a while, the bear's claws stop glowing, and it sits down panting. I almost don't have the heart to kill it, but if I was weaker than it, it would have surely killed me.

    "Sorry, I'll make it quick." Opening up my mouth, I shoot a beam of energy through its head, killing it instantly.

    Mama walks over from the side.

    "Killing it was the right thing to do. Often when creatures suffer defeat in a battle, they will hunt down the creature that defeated them, sometimes for years, looking for an opportunity to kill them."

    "Yeah, it's just it was so weak, I feel a little bad killing it."

    "Just because it is weak does not mean it cannot harm you. It may ambush you when you are weak, or convince others to attack you with it. There is even a chance that it may get lucky, and later become stronger than you. You must never spare something that wishes to kill you.

    "Are you speaking from experience?"

    Following my question, Mama just smiles and changes the subject.

    "I have never seen an ability such as yours. How much of your energy did that attack use?" Mama asks.

    "I'm not sure, but I could probably use it several times."

    Mama looks amazed.

    "Truly worthy of being called my daughter!" she laughs.

    "But Mama, don't you have two other daughters as well?"

    "Of course! Two sons as well, and they will all grow up to be strong, just like their mother!"

    Praising Mama's confidence in my mind, I search the area with my clairvoyance. I usually search the area whenever I get bored, but I have yet to find anything interesting. But this time, I actually find something!

    "Mama, Mama! I found something over there!" I shout as I point in a direction and start running.

     

     

    "Whoa!"

    We quickly approach the structure. It looks almost exactly like an Inca pyramid. It's surrounded by vegetation, with green vines growing all over its surface. At the end of a huge flight of steps, standing on top of the pyramid, is a structure with a doorway leading inside!

    "Mama, let's go!"

    Mama nods her head and takes the lead. As we head up the stairs and near the doorway, Mama holds her hand out and stops.

    "There is something there." she points at the doorway.

    "I think it's some sort of barrier, like the one around the Eggshell, though I don't think it's as strong. Let me see if I can remove it."

    I look around for symbols, finally locating some on the ground just outside the doorway. Sending my consciousness towards them, I am immediately met with resistance. Grunting in discomfort, I force my way past their defenses.

    "Are you okay Lyna?" asks Mama.

    "I'm alright."

    This sensation is completely different from the symbols around the Eggshell. The symbols surrounding the Eggshell are much more complex, so much so that it gives me a headache, but I've never met any resistance when trying to interact with them.

    After I break through their defenses, I try to directly sever the symbols' connections. They try to resist, but the connections between the symbols are much weaker than the ones around the Eggshell. With a minimal amount of effort, I sever a few important looking symbols from the rest, isolating them. Soon after, the barrier deactivates.

    I retract my consciousness and exhale a breath of air.

    "Have you ever seen something like this?" I ask Mama Bloodcat, gesturing to the pyramid.

    She nods her head, "I have seen places similar to this, nothing exactly like this though. But I have never thought to go inside one."

    I secretly wonder if humans might have built these.

    As we walk through the doorway, I see what I assume is rotted furniture lying around. There are four walls, each with a doorway leading outside. In the middle of the room is a stairway leading down.

    "Eck, it smells really musty in here."

    "What is 'musty'?" asks Mama.

    "Oh right, musty is like it smells old and damp, or maybe moldy. It's a bad smell."

    Mama nods her head, "It smells very bad. What is 'moldy'?"

    After doing my best to explain what mold is, we walk towards the stairs in the middle of the room and prepare to descend them.

    Mama walks in front of me, "I will go first."

    We are both able to see in the dark, but as we head deeper down it becomes almost impossible to see even for us. Of course, I could always use my clairvoyance, but that wouldn't help Mama Bloodcat see. Eventually Mama just creates a ball of fire which hovers above her hand. After walking down many flights of stairs, we reach a room.

    "I sense something." I say as I point towards the floor in front of us.

    Examining the floor, I don't see any symbols. Confused, I observe the area closer. I finally locate two groups of symbols on the walls, directly opposite to each other.

    "It seems almost like a tripwire..."

    "What is a 'tripwire'?"

    "It's a wire or string that's connected to a trap, which sets off the trap if you step on it."

    Mama nods her head.

    I use my clairvoyance and attempt to deactivate the 'tripwire'. I'm able to access the symbols easily, as they have almost no defense. I sever the connection between two symbols, and just as I'm about to continue, I get jerked backwards violently. I'm given little time to react before everything goes pitch black and I find myself on the ground, covered by something heavy.

    Fwish fwish fwish!

    I start hearing sounds above me. Suddenly, I start getting flashbacks from when I got crushed by debris in the park.

    "AHHH!! NO!"

    In a moment of confusion and panic, I scream and frantically kick at the thing on top of me.

    "Lyna?! Lyna, are you ok? Are you hurt?!"

    I feel a pair of arms wrap around me, and finally realize what it is that's on top of me.

    "Ah, ha, ha, ha..."

    For some reason, though I don't even need to breathe, I start breathing rapidly, as Mama Bloodcat continues to lie on top of me. Soon the noises stop, and Mama stands up, lifting me up with her. She once again makes a ball of fire and hovers it above her hand, illuminating the dark room. After examining me all over, she sighs in relief.

    "Thank goodness, I thought you had been injured." she says as she sighs and embraces me.

    I continue to hyperventilate as Mama hugs me tightly, whispering "it is ok now" over and over.

    It takes several minutes before I calm down enough that Mama is willing to put me down, but I still find myself trembling uncontrollably. Now I finally see what the noises were. There are hundreds of arrows littering the floor and walls, covering almost the entirety of the large room.

    Suddenly I hear a small gasp behind me, and turn around just in time to see Mama Bloodcat pull an arrow out of her side.

    "Mama?! Are you ok?! What..."

    My words are cut short as I see the rest of her body. No less than a dozen arrows cover her back. There are also two arrows in each of her legs, and one in her right arm. She notices my gaze and smiles.

    "I am alright Lyna, look."

    She points at an arrow on her arm. Not even half of the arrow head had pierced her arm. I realize I'm too worked up right now, so I close my eyes and breathe in and out a few times, in an attempt to calm down. By the time I open my eyes again, Mama has already pulled the arrows out of her arm and legs, and she's now sitting down reaching for an arrow on her back.

    "I'll get them."

    I walk over and start clumsily removing arrows. By the time I finish removing the arrows, though it's a bit difficult to see with her red clothing, I can tell that her back is definitely covered in blood. The sight makes me sad. It makes me want to cry and apologize, but I know she wouldn't want that.

    "Thanks Mama, I love you."

    She smiles, "I love you too Lyna."

    As all of the arrows are removed now, I summon the Eggshell and Mama Bloodcat climbs in. While she soaks, I lie down and try to calm down. By the time I stop trembling, I find that Mama is already sitting beside me.

    "Do you want to leave?" she asks.

    I shake my head, "No way."

    "Good answer!" laughs Mama.

    After we joke back and forth for a while in an attempt to lighten the mood, we decide to move forward. We continue traveling through rooms, each with a barrier covering the doorway. There are traps in almost every room that we travel through, but we both agree we should just avoid them instead of attempting to diffuse them.

    The farther we go, the less decayed the furniture seems to be. In the room we're in now, there are actually still remnants of some scrolls and books, though they're no longer readable.

    As I reach the barrier in this room, I realize it's considerably stronger than the ones before it. Even so, I'm able to deactivate it without much effort. As the barrier disappears and I look up, I notice a light at the other side of the room!

    "Mama, that must be something important!" I shout as I start heading in the direction of the light.

    "Lyna, I walk in front, remember?"

    "Ah, right."

    We cautiously make our way towards the glow, careful to avoid any traps we come across.




  • Slightly Contradictory

    Chapter 10


    Chapter 10 - Treasure!

     

    I'm unable to penetrate the barrier with my clairvoyance, but I can see through it just fine with my eyes. Unlike everywhere else we've been in this pyramid, the room in front of us seems completely untouched by time. It's smaller than any of the other rooms I've seen so far, but inside there are shelves, chairs, and a desk. But more importantly, inside the room are books, weapons and even a wooden chest in the corner! Illuminating the room is some sort of glass ball floating in the air above the room, which releases golden light.

    "Whoa, look at all of that stuff! I wonder what's in that chest?"

    Mama laughs, "I have never seen you this excited before."

    "In my previous life, this was the kind of stuff we had. Well, not so much the weapons, but almost everybody that I knew had books and furniture."

    "What are 'books and furniture'?" asks Mama.

    "Those are books," I say as I point to some books, "they are made out of something called 'paper'. And furniture is what those things that the books are on are called. Those are furniture as well." I point at the chairs and the chest.

    Mama nods, "Did you live in places like this?" she gestures to the room in front of us.

    "Close, but not exactly. It's kind of hard to explain..."

    "Do not worry about it."

    "Ok, I'm going to try and disable the barrier."

    "Be careful, do not hurt yourself."

    As I send my consciousness toward the symbols on the floor, I ready myself for what's coming next. I feel the impact from their defenses, and it's much stronger this time! After a few minutes of wrestling with the defenses, I start feeling fatigued and realize I'm going to need a rest. At the same time, I feel like the symbols' defenses have also gotten weaker. After a few more minutes, I sit down, panting.

    "Are you okay? You did not hurt yourself, did you?" asks Mama.

    "I'm alright, I just need to rest for a while. I weakened the barrier just now, so I should be able to break it eventually."

    Mama seems relieved. Without warning, she sits down, picks me up, and places me on her lap. I curl up and close my eyes.

    After an hour or so of rest, I feel good as new. Like that, I make another attempt to break the defenses every hour. Between each attempt, the defenses seem to repair themselves a bit. It's not enough to be worried about, but it is an interesting property. The symbols act a lot like math, where they can add, subtract, multiply, etc. each other, but there also seem to be symbols that tell other symbols what to do, like computer code. The more I study these symbols, the more they intrigue me...

     

     

    Whoosh!

    "Haha, I got it!"

    After several days of effort, I have finally broken the barrier! As I'm about to enter the room, Mama steps in front of me, "I walk in front, Lyna."

    After Mama steps around the room and nudges a few things, she finally seems satisfied and gestures me in. Walking in, I immediately jump on the desk, which has some books lying on it. I flip through the pages of one of the books as best I can with no hands.

    "Of course..."

    I mean, I already expected it, but the books are most certainly not written in English. I raise my head to look around the room again.

    "Whoa!"

    Over beside the weapons, I see Mama with a huge halberd that's about a foot taller than she is!

    "Mama, you look so awesome!"

    "What is 'awesome'?"

    "It means you look super cool!"

    "Do I? Haha, I chose this weapon then! Do you know what it is called?"

    "It's called a halberd."

    "Halberd... I like this weapon!"

    Given my current form, I can't really handle a weapon effectively, so I walk over to the chest in the corner instead. As I reach the chest, I thoroughly scan it with my clairvoyance. Confident that there are no traps, I finally try to open it. It doesn't have a lock on it, so I'm able to flip the lid open easily.

    Peering inside, I see lots of miscellaneous objects. Most of it is either jewelry or other accessories, such as gloves or hats. I grab a simple looking wire necklace with a silver star on it, and try sending my consciousness into it. Nothing. I hand it to Mama.

    "Mama, can you try sending some energy into this?" Mama accepts the necklace and tries channeling energy through it.

    Mama shakes her head, "Nothing."

    Mama hands it back to me and continues swinging her halberd around. As I'm examining the necklace, I remember something I've read in books before.

    "Well, can't hurt to try."

    I bite my paw.

    "Ouch, what was I thinking? Of course it would hurt to try!"

    Under Mama's slightly distressed gaze, I drip some blood on the necklace. Almost as soon as the blood makes contact with it, the necklace actually absorbs the blood! Soon after, I hear a voice in my head. It doesn't sound particularly human, sounding more like a robot talking to me, but what shocks me is, it's speaking in English!

    "A translator?!"

    It says it's a device that can translate anything it hears to a language that the user can understand, and it will translate your words back as well.

    'So basically a universal translator?'

    My foolish grin must have worried Mama, as she asks me what is wrong.

    I put the necklace on and say, "Mama, could you try talking to me in bloodcat language?"

    "Like this?" she asks.

    "Did you really speak bloodcat just now?"

    Mama looks shocked, "You can speak bloodcat as well?"

    Laughing, I show her the necklace, "It's this, it translates words!"

    "What is 'translate'?"

    "Translate is like, turn something you can't understand into something that you can."

    Mama nods her head, "That sounds like it could be useful."

    "Here Mama, drip a drop of blood on this." I hand her a star necklace as well.

    Mama slashes her finger with the tip of her halberd and drips some blood on the necklace.

    'Mama, should you really be doing that with a weapon you just found in an abandoned pyramid?'

    I grab another item out of the chest. It's a simple silver ring this time. I drip some blood on it, and it narrates its use in the same robotic voice.

    "WHAT?! Storage item?! Like an inventory?!"

    Startled, Mama looks at me, "Lyna, what are you shouting about so suddenly? You surprised me."

    "Watch!" I grab a chair and, willing it with my mind, it disappears!

    "Ahahaha! This is awesome!" I shout.

    "Where did that furniture go?" asks Mama, confused.

    "Ah, it's called a chair. The chair went inside of this ring!" I show her the ring.

    "You can store items in that ring?"

    I nod my head and give her a nearly identical silver ring. She drips some blood on it and then proceeds to excitedly gather up all of the weapons in the room. I can barely hold back my laughter. She then proceeds to drip blood onto her halberd.

    "Lyna, I can channel energy through this weapon!"

    Suddenly the head of the halberd start glowing bright red. I try to give her a thumbs up, but then I remember I don't have thumbs. I dejectedly give her a 'cool, Mama' and then we continue dripping blood on things.

    Out of the rest of the items, Mama found a pair of gloves that make her grip stronger. She seemed pretty happy with those. She also found a couple silver necklaces with flat blue pendants hanging from them that allow you to use your energy to generate a shield around yourself. She tried to giving them both to me, but I asked her what I would do with two of them. Finally convincing her to keep one, we continued searching.

    Though most of the rest of the items were trinkets with limited use such as fire starters, glowing orbs and some sort of obnoxious noise-making device, there was one other item that was more valuable. It was a wooden bracelet that actually converts your energy into water! Mama tried to make me take it, but I insisted she take it, since I don't even need water.

     

     

    I look at my reflection in the creek. Around my neck are three necklaces; a golden chain and two simple wire necklaces. The golden chain is, of course, the Eggshell, and the two wire necklaces are the translator necklace and the shield necklace.

    We found eight storage rings total, so me and Mama each took four. But since I don't really have appropriate fingers for the rings, I asked Mama to put mine on the shield necklace, leaving the blue pendant with two silver rings on either side of it.

    Mama similarly chose to hang her storage rings on her shield necklace, "Now we're matching." she said.

    As for the storage rings, after taking all of the furniture from the room, I deduced that they could hold a normal sized house easily. Each of them!

    "All of this jewelry, I feel so rich!"

    "What is 'jewelry' and 'rich'?" asks Mama.

    "Well, jewelry is things like these rings and necklaces that we have, and rich means we have lots of valuable things!"

    Mama nods her head, "Then I was already rich." she says with a smile.



  • edited October 2017
    Slightly Contradictory

    Chapter 11

    Chapter 11 - Cultivation?

     

    "Lyna... Lyna dear..."

    I'm awakened by Mama Bloodcat calling me.

    "Mama? What's wrong?" I sit up, drowsy.

    "Lyna, what is this word?" Mama points to a word on a book.

    "Word?" I get up and look at the word. "That's circulate. It means to move around in a certain area, I think."

    Mama smiles, "Thank you honey."

    I lie back down and close my eyes.

    'Wait, book?!'

    I hurriedly sit back up and look at the book in Mama's hands. I look at the words. Although they're in another language, somehow I can understand what they mean!

    'Is it the translator necklace? It must be!'

    Excited, I take a book out from one of my rings and start reading. After reading for a few hours, I realize that most of these books are probably useless to me. I have learned a lot from them though. The energy in our bodies, which our abilities use, seems to be called 'qi', and people who cultivate qi are called 'cultivators'. The majority of the books are manuals on how to cultivate qi, or manuals teaching 'martial arts' and 'magical techniques', both of which use qi to activate.

    But again, these are all useless to me, as only humans can use them. Mama is able to use them though, since she can transform into a human. She's been reading books all day, occasionally asking me what a word means.

    Even though I can't utilize the techniques in the books, I decide to keep reading them anyway, since it's kind of fun.

     

     

    "Mama, I found a fire attribute cultivation manual!"

    Sadly, out of all of the manuals and books, we couldn't find any information about those symbols. There were several mentions of 'soul' though, which seems to be what my clairvoyance is. Your soul is your mental power, which some of the manuals imply can be trained as well, but none of them say how. I haven't seen any mention of someone's soul being able to leave their body, though.

    We also found out how cultivation works for humans. The main way they cultivate qi is through meditation, where they absorb and circulate qi through their 'meridians', which are qi passageways that cover their entire bodies, in very specific patterns.

    Unlike us beasts though, most humans are born with weak bodies. In order to cultivate qi, they must first temper their bodies. There are four stages of Body Tempering. The first is called Skin like Leather, which is achieved when the skin is able to withstand a certain amount of force. Most of the training manuals for Skin like Leather involve whipping or beating your skin, then slathering it with medicine or taking a medical bath.

    The second, Iron Flesh, is reached when they train their muscles to the point where they can lift a certain amount of weight. Most of the methods for reaching this point simply involve exercises such as running and weight lifting, often recommending medical baths after the training, but the amount of exercise they require is insane!

    The third stage of Body Tempering, Tendons like Bowstrings, is when the cultivator has tendons that are extremely flexible, yet also strong enough to lash out with extreme force. Many manuals just teach sets of basic stretches, which can be supplemented with medicine, but one of the manuals I read taught a method where you continuously dislocate your joints, over and over again!

    The fourth stage, called Golden Bones, is a little bit vague. Humans seem to be able to cultivate qi after reaching the third stage, making this stage unnecessary, but many manuals have theories on how to achieve it anyway. That's right, theories. According to what I have read, there have been very few recorded cases of Golden Bones, and many people who had it were thought to have been born with it. One theory on how to achieve Golden Bones is to take a certain medicine constantly from birth, but supposedly it's nearly impossible, as the ingredients for the medicine are far too rare. Another theory requires you to break your bones, take a specific medicine, wait for the bones to mend, and then repeat the process many times. I was jealous of humans at first, since they can use those martial arts and magical techniques, but now I'm not too sure.

    Anyway, the books usually just refer to them as the first, second, third, and fourth stages of Body Tempering respectively.

    After a person achieves at least the first three stages of Body Tempering, they can undergo Qi Awakening. Apparently qi exists almost everywhere, and undergoing Qi Awakening allows humans to start absorbing the qi from their surroundings, storing it in something called the 'dantian' which is located in the stomach below the navel.

    There seem to be four stages in each cultivation level, but other than Body Tempering, all of the other ones just call them the early, middle, late, and peak stages.

    After Qi Awakening is Qi Manipulation. When you reach the Qi Manipulation level, you are able to better manipulate the qi inside of your body, allowing you to use magical techniques and martial arts. Many manuals and books heavily stress the importance of raising a level in cultivation, warning not to cross this point until you can no longer progress in your cultivation, or else risk having trouble cultivating later. Even so, without the aid of medicines, the success rate of Qi Manipulation seems relatively low.

    The next level, considered to be a peak existence and the last to be mentioned in any of the manuals, is called Qi Expulsion. According to everything I have read, extremely few people reach this level, as few as one every hundred years.

    One characteristic of a Qi Expulsion level cultivator is their lifespan. They are able to live for over a thousand years, and there are even records of some extending their lives past two thousand through unknown means!

    Another characteristic is their ability to fly. Some people are able to fly at the Qi Manipulation level through the use of certain techniques, but all Qi Expulsion cultivators are able to fly.

    And lastly, the third characteristic of a Qi Expulsion cultivator is their ability to release qi from any part of their body, and then manipulate it while it's outside of their body.

    I look at Mama Bloodcat, "Mama, can you fly?"

    She nods, "I have been trying some time now, and I believe I can."

    "Haha! I knew you were super strong!"

    Mama gives me a wide grin, and suddenly lifts about a foot off the ground!

    I'm rendered speechless by the sight. I have seen so many crazy, impossible things since coming to this world, but even so I never thought I would see someone fly. I mean, it's one thing to read about it, but to see it firsthand...

    After about an hour of floating and slowly moving through the air, Mama finally lands on the ground.

    Mama flies over to me and asks, "Do you want a ride?"

    I nod my head vigorously.

    Mama picks me up and soars straight up into the air. I see the pyramid get smaller and smaller as we fly higher and higher into the air. There is forest stretching for miles in every direction, backdropped by distant mountains.

    Past the mountain range nearest to us, far off in the distance, I see a thin, barely visible silhouette stretching up into the sky.

    "Mama, what is that?" I ask, pointing to the shadow.

    She shakes her head, "I do not know."

    "Should we head towards it?" I ask.

    "It might be dangerous." she warns.

    "But if we don't explore it, I might die of curiosity!"

    "But curiosity kills the cat." she says slightly sarcastically.

    "..."

    She can't fly indefinitely, since flying actually takes a lot of qi, so we eventually have to return to the ground and travel by foot.

    While traveling, I suddenly hear a voice.

    "What are you doing in my territory?"

    I look in the direction of the deep voice and see a huge turtle!

    "Sorry Mr. Turtle, we're just traveling through."

    "You can understand me?" asks the turtle.

    "Mhm, these help us." I show him the star necklace.

    "Oh... well, make sure to hurry."

    And so I talked to a turtle!

     

     

    After getting the translation necklaces, we have been able to talk to most of the animals we meet instead of fighting, just like Mr. Turtle. But even being able to talk to them doesn't solve all of our problems.

    Standing upright in front of me is another red horned-bear. It's a bit smaller than the last one that I fought, and seems much stronger. It's covered with scars, and a murderous intent is leaking through every pore of its body.

    "Uh, I don't suppose you would be willing to let us pass?" I ask.

    Not even gracing me with words, it merely roars at me and assumes an attack posture.

    "Careful Lyna, this beast is very strong!" warns Mama from the side.

    "I'll be careful!"

    A grin materializes on my face as my heart starts beating faster.

    'Finally, a real battle!'

    I don't let the bear make the first move as I dash to its left side and lunge at it. Roaring again, the bear swings its right paw at me while shielding itself with its left. Twisting my body in mid air, I avoid its attack, directly biting its left arm.

    "Raaaa!"

    I kick the bear's arm to propel myself away, taking a chunk of the bear's flesh with me, and just barely dodging its second swing. After I land on the ground, I immediately run towards the bear's legs. The bear takes a few steps back and lowers its posture. As I near the bear, it swings its right paw at me again. Quickly slowing my advance, I jump at the bear's shoulder after it finishes its wide swing. But before I can grab its shoulder, the bear twists its body, dodging me.

    After it dodges my attack, I sense the bear start to build up qi, so I go in for another attack before it can finish. The bear clumsily raises its paws in defense, but it's not fast enough. I slip past the bear's paws and headbutt its abdomen.

    "Grunt."

    The bear tumbles to the ground, and I roll forward past it. Steadying myself, I turn around to see the bear standing up again, with its back facing me. I immediately rush at its back, jump up and bite the back of its neck. The bear swings at me, but I twist my body and stay latched onto the nape of its neck.

    "ROARRR!"

    I sense a massive release of qi. Putting strength into my back legs, I jump away again, lacerating its neck in the process. The bear turns towards me, appearing haggard, but its eyes tell me that that it's not over yet.

    Its right paw starts glowing bright red, as it takes large stride forward and swings its arm at me, as if throwing a baseball. A red paw-shaped ball of qi flies straight at me. I easily dodge the attack, and look at the bear suspiciously. There's no way the attack should be that easy to dodge. Eyes still glued on the bear, I suddenly sense something dangerous behind me.

    Boom!

    I hear an explosion behind me, the blast wave of which quickly lifts me up and pushes me away from the source! Still in mid air, I hurriedly activate my shield necklace, causing a large circular shield to appear in the direction of the explosion, which hovers about a foot away from me. Immediately after I activate it, I hear the sounds of shrapnel battering the translucent blue shield. As I land heavily on the ground, I still have my eyes on the bear.

    Glaring at me, the bear once again lifts its right paw up, which is still glowing red, albeit dimmer than before. I stand up and prepare for the attack. With some effort, the bear swings its paw at me a second time. As the ball of qi hurtles towards me, I duck below it and proceed to jump at the bear. As soon as I hear the bear's attack explode, I erect a shield behind me. Soon the blast wave catches up to me and propels me forward faster, straight at the bear. By the time I near the bear, it already has its paw raised again, staring wide eyed at me. Just before I reach the bear, it starts to duck out of the way, but I'm able to swipe my paw at it as I fly past, delivering a strong blow to its head.

    Boom!

    The qi that it was storing up in its paw explodes and propels me forward even faster, straight at a massive tree. With a painful smack, I hit the tree and then slide down to the ground.

    Thump.

    I hear the sound of an impact behind me, and turn my head. There, the red horned-bear is lying on the ground, missing part of its right arm, and riddled with small puncture wounds. A billow of red fog rises off of its corpse and heads towards me, indicating that it's most certainly dead.

    "Haa, haa, haa..."

    Somehow I find myself panting. I always thought I didn't need to breathe, but it seems I might need to when I overexert myself. Or is it just a habit?

    "How do you feel?" asks Mama Bloodcat, sounding a little worried.

    "Great! Haa, I haven't had a battle that good in, haa, in years!"

    "I realize that you have gotten much stronger recently, but why did you not use your ability to fight it? The battle would have been finished much sooner."

    "It would have been over too quickly, haa, it's more fun if it's a challenge!

    Mama sighs and shakes her head, "Okay, hurry and bring out the Eggshell so you can heal."

    "Nah, all I have are a few, haa, a few welts and bruises, those will heal in no time."

    "Do what you will, but I had better not hear any complaining while we travel."

    I reconsider my decision, and decide to summon the Eggshell.




  • Slightly Contradictory

    Chapter 12


    Chapter 12 - Black Rocks

     

    These mountains... they look a lot bigger up close.

    When I saw them from a distance, I didn't think anything of them. I've been to a few mountains in my past life, so I thought, with our strength and stamina, it shouldn't be a problem to cross a mountain within a week.

    But as we got closer, I started realizing that these aren't ordinary mountains. Compared to the mountains I've seen on earth, these are many, many times bigger! And not only are they massive, the mountains are extremely steep as well. They're really quite intimidating.

    "So, should we just start climbing here?"

    "It will likely be the same no matter where we start."

    "Kay, let's go!"

    Mama nods her head, and we begin our climb. Though the mountain is very steep, there are also many flat areas that we can rest on jutting out, like miniature plateaus. This is the strangest mountain I have ever seen.

     

     

    "Haa, haa..."

    Reaching a flat spot, I nearly collapse from exhaustion.

    Waiting until I catch my breath, Mama asks, "Are you alright Lyna?"

    "Yep, this is great exercise, I feel awesome!"

    "What is 'exercise'?"

    "Oh, exercise is when you move your body a lot or lift heavy stuff to make your body stronger. Fighting is also probably a kind of exercise."

    Mama nods her head, and I sigh and look up at the sky.

    "In my past life, I loved exercising. I was never very good at interacting with people, so I had a lot of free time. Most of that free time I would spend exercising. Running, lifting weights, swimming, sometimes I would even climb mountains like we're doing now. Somehow I just love the feeling I get after a long day of exercise. But ever since coming here, the closest feeling to that is after I fight, and even so it's not quite the same. I guess I'm just really happy that I'm still able to feel this way, as weird as that may sound."

    Turning my head, I see Mama lying down, propping her head up with her hands and smiling.

    "Could you tell me more about your past, Lyna?" she asks.

    "My past..."

    I start digging up happy memories, narrating them to Mama Bloodcat. I mostly tell her about my time at the fire station, about what I did there and about Eric and my firefighter friends. I skip over all of the sad stuff, since I don't want to make Mama Bloodcat sad, and I don't want to make myself sad either.

    "It seems your old world was much different than this one." sighs Mama.

    "It was much different, and I do miss some of the people from there, but I like it here too. I like being able to go wherever I want, I like fighting, and I uh... I like Mama too."

    Mama laughs and puts me in her lap, "If you had not been here, I fear that your siblings may have lost their lives long ago. I am not sure I would even be alive today were it not for you, and even if I were, I would be in a far worse condition. For being there for my family, I thank you. Because you are my daughter, I cherish you. And because you are you, I love you too, Lyna."

    "You sound so cheesy, you're making me blush." I laugh.

    "What is 'cheesy'?" asks Mama.

     

     

    After a full night's sleep, we continue climbing. As we climb higher, I start noticing some of those mosquito-like wingets flying around. Whenever I look at them, I imagine them sucking out all of my blood and get the chills.

    "Mama, do you know what those eat?" I point at a winget.

    "I do not," replies Mama, "but they do taste rather good."

    "Are they as good as steeg?"

    "They have a different taste; it is hard to compare them. I think they both taste good."

    "Should I catch a couple?" I ask.

    "I would like that, thank you Lyna." replies Mama, smiling.

    And so I prepare to catch some wingets. Most of them that I can see are in the air, but there are a few perched on rocks. Singling out a target, I start approaching it. As there are no trees to hide behind, I am forced to weave between rocks in order to get closer.

    I'm nearly close enough to pounce, when I see the winget suddenly stick its beak into a rock.

    "Wha..."

    As soon as I utter a sound, the winget pulls its beak out of the rock and quickly flies away.

    "Ah, no! Stop!"

    After getting over the shock of what I just saw, I finally realize that it's trying to escape. I try to pounce at it, but I'm too late.

    "Stupid winget, I'll get you next time!"

    After swearing my vengeance, scaring away all of the wingets around me in the process, I direct my gaze back to the rock. I've seen similar holes in rocks littering the mountainside on the way here, but never knew how they got there, nor did I much care. I try to peer inside the hole, but it's too small to see anything, so I just pick the rock up and bash it on another rock.

    Crack!

    As the rock crumbles, I see a black rock about the size of my paw tumble across the ground. This must be what the winget was after.

    'Is this what they eat?'

    I pick it up and try licking it.

    "Woah, this tastes really good! Mama, you should try this!" I shout.

    Mama starts walking towards me, but on her face hangs a rather odd expression.

    "Lyna, do you usually taste strange objects that you find on the ground?"

    "Don't worry, it was in a rock, not on the ground! Besides, the winget was probably eating it, so I figured it would be safe to eat."

    Mama looks at me like I'm an idiot, "Lyna, you... haa. Fine, let me see it." Mama holds out her hand.

    I give the black rock to Mama, and she gives it a lick.

    "What is this taste? It tastes rather pleasant."

    "It tastes kind of like something called salt from my previous world, except it has a much more uhh... mild flavor?"

    After catching two more wingets, we sit down and start eating. While eating a winget, I try sprinkling some of that black rock on it.

    "Mama, you have to try this, it's delicious!"

    She hesitates a little, but I insist, so she takes a bite.

    "This... tastes good. How did you find that black rock?"

    "Well, a winget stuck its beak into a rock, so I got curious and broke the rock and the black rock was inside."

    "Mmm." Mama nods her head.

    After we finish eating I decide to start bird watching, waiting for wingets to try and eat more black rocks, so I can steal them! That was the Idea at least. I have yet to see another winget do it again.

    Deciding this method is inefficient, I start breaking random rocks, and after breaking the fourth rock I finally find two black rocks, each almost as big as the first one I found!

    Reinvigorated by my success, I start breaking rocks even more enthusiastically.

    When it finally turns night, I walk back to our camp and see Mama Bloodcat sitting there. I'm rather proud of my haul, which I spent the entire afternoon gathering. Inside one of my storage rings is a pile of over two hundred black rocks, all of which I proceed to empty onto the ground near the campsite.

    "Haha, look at all of the black rocks I found!"

    Mama looks at the pile of black rocks and smiles dismissively, then proceeds to wave her hand.

    Whoosh!

    A huge pile of black rocks materialize in front of me, dwarfing my pile.

    "How... How did you get so many?"

    Mama smiles proudly, "You said the wingets were eating them, so I merely looked for rocks with holes in them. Most had black rocks inside.

    "Ahh... yeah... that's a uh, a good idea..."

    And thus our traveling speed slows considerably. For the next couple weeks, we spend much of our time breaking rocks in search of black rocks. By the time we get bored of searching, we both have about half of a storage ring full of block rocks. We eventually get bored of searching for black rocks and decide to continue up the mountain at full speed.

     

     

    The mountain has started getting even steeper the higher we go. It's gotten to the point where much of the terrain we cross goes almost straight up.

    After climbing a particularly tough cliff, me and Mama slump on the ground, both breathing heavily. Back when I told Mama about my love for exercise, she decided to stop reinforcing her body with qi when climbing, using only her muscles. Thus, by the end of the day, both of us are usually quite exhausted.

    "And you enjoy this feeling?" asks Mama, still catching her breath.

    "Yeah, I enjoy it. I guess it just makes me feel fulfilled."

    "What is 'fulfilled'?" asks Mama.

    "Fulfilled is like when you feel full, but emotionally. It's when you feel like what you did was a good thing, and you did it the best you could."

    Mama nods her head, replying with "I like that word."

    Though Mama doesn't need to eat much to survive, and I don't need to eat at all, somehow it's become a habit to eat at least a couple times a day. As it's about dinner time, I decide to hunt a couple wingets for me and Mama.

    After catching two wingets without much difficulty, I return to where Mama is and give her one. Since I'm not very good at crushing the black rocks, what with my paws and all, I ask Mama if she can do it.

    As Mama crushes one of the black rocks in her hand, I ask, "What do you think we should call this stuff?"

    After pondering for a while she says, "You said it tastes like something from your past life called salt? Since it comes from rocks, why not call it rock salt?"

    I think of rock salt in my previous life, and then about this stuff that literally comes from rocks. Telling Mama I think it's a great name, I try to give her a thumbs up, but forget that I still don't have opposable thumbs...



  • Slightly Contradictory

    Chapter 13

    Chapter 13 - Mister Winget

     

    From what I know, humans and black eyed creatures seem to have similar cultivation levels. Especially at the Qi Expulsion level, Mama seems almost exactly like a human, and she's even able to use human techniques. If I were to guess what human equivalent I'm at, I would say probably Qi Manipulation somewhere, which should mean that I don't have too far to go before I'm able to transform into a human as well! With this thought in mind, I ask Mama how she got so strong.

    "Well, fighting helped hone my skills, but if you are talking about improving your qi, other than waiting and letting it improve naturally, I have only ever increased it two other ways. The first way was eating. I have twice found objects that increased my strength immediately after I ate them."

    "The first was after I got seriously injured, and took shelter in a cave. Afraid I would attract attention if I stayed at the entrance, I went farther into the cave. As I traveled deeper into the cave, I started smelling something almost irresistible, until I finally happened upon an object that looked like a rock." pausing, Mama looks like she suddenly remembers something.

    "So Mama also tastes strange objects she finds on the ground?" I ask sarcastically, grinning.

    Coughing awkwardly, she continues, "Rather than a rock, it was some sort of fruit that looked like a rock. Not only did it improve my strength greatly, it also healed many of the wounds I had. The second one I found was beside a large crack in the earth filled with red liquid."

    "It might have been lava, was it hot?"

    "It must have been lava then. Beside that crack filled with lava, there was a plant with an orange fruit growing on it. It smelled very good to me, so I ate it as well. But that time, other than making me stronger, eating the fruit caused my fur color to change as well."

    "Is that so. So finding them is up to luck huh?" I lament.

    "The second way was when I soaked in tonic. It only increased my qi at first though, and since then it has not had that effect on me."

    I think back to the fog that comes from dead creatures, which seems to make me stronger every time I absorb it.

    "Mama, have you ever seen anything come out of creatures after you kill them?"

    "Blood." she says seriously

     

     

    We're nearly at the summit of the mountain!

    As we get closer to the top of the mountain, I start seeing more and more wingets. I even start seeing black eyed wingets. This is the first time I have ever seen any black eyed creature without a solid coat color.

    "Mama, have you ever seen a black eyed creature with multiple colors before, like those wingets?"

    Mama nods her head, "I have seen many. Sometimes, I will see normal forest creatures that have black eyes."

    As Mama finishes talking, we finally reach the top of the mountain. The top of the mountain is huge, relatively flat, and practically covered in wingets.

    Suddenly Mama steps in front of me and looks up. Following her line of sight, all I can see is a massive shadow swooping towards the mountain. As it lands, I'm able to make out its features. I assume it's a winget, as it has the customary mosquito-like beak, but that's about where the similarities end. It's slightly golden in color, standing around ten feet tall, and rather than the two legs of a normal winget, this one walks on three!

    After landing, it starts slowly walking towards us.

    "What are you doing on my mountain?" the golden winget asks in a deep voice.

    "We only wish to pass through. We are not looking for trouble." replies Mama.

    The golden winget squints its eyes and starts scrutinizing Mama. Seeing it hesitate, Mama frowns and releases her aura. Shocked, the golden winget immediately backs off and kneels down.

    "I have offended you! I offer you my life, but please, spare my people!" the golden winget begs, proceeding to bow down.

    "I do not want your life, nor do I want the lives of your people. Rather, who are your people?"

    "All atop this mountain are my people."

    Mama looks at the massive winget plastered to the ground, "Stand up. It is not my intention to attack you or your people, so you have no need to worry."

    "Thank you, I will never forget this kindness you have shown!"

    Mama sighs, "There was no kindness. You have done nothing to offend me, so there is no reason to apologize. Hurry and stand up, you are making me uncomfortable."

    The huge winget stands up slowly, "Would you allow me to accommodate you and your pet for the day as you rest?"

    "Pffft hehe, ahahaha!" I can't help bursting out in laughter.

    The golden winget looks at me quizzically, and Mama sighs and tells him, "That is my daughter."

    Bang!

    "I have offended you!" shouts the golden winget, bowing down to Mama again.

    "You have not offended me! Quickly accommodate us or whatever it is you want to do, and stop bowing."

    The golden winget stands up again and looks at Mama like she's a saint.

    "You are the kindest, most forgiving being I have ever encountered! One day I will repay your kindness for sure!"

    I see veins bulging on Mama's forehead, "There was no kindness! I am neither kind nor forgiving, and there is nothing to repay! Just take us to wherever and stop apologizing!"

    "Yes! Miss and her daughter, please follow me!" says the golden winget happily.

    I'm barely able to hold back my laughter.

    'I've never seen Mama this angry before!'

    Reaching the golden winget's abode, it turns out to be a cave. The top of the cave is low enough that he has to bend his neck to get in. As we walk in, I realize there are basically no furnishings to speak of. There are a couple rocks that look like you could sit on surrounding a large rock that's probably used as a table, but nothing fancy.

    "Sit here please." the golden winget gestures to a couple rocks and proceeds to head deeper into the cave.

    Sitting down on a rock, I ask Mama, "So, what do you think about him?"

    "He is annoying." Mama gives a simple answer, scowling a little.

    "I like him, I think he's funny and he seems nice!"

    Mama frowns and folds her arms. After a few minutes of waiting, I can hear the golden winget coming back. As he comes into view, I see him holding rock salt in two of his feet, hopping towards us on the third.

    I nearly burst out laughing at the sight.

    "He is an idiot..." mumbles Mama.

    When he reaches the table, he drops the rock salt on the table and sits down opposite to us.

    "It's not much, but this is the only food I have. I'm sorry."

    "You do not need to apologize so much." grumbles Mama.

    The rock salt is pretty bland by itself, but it's barely palatable. Looking sideways, I see that Mama seems like she wants to say something. Finally she opens her mouth.

    "On the way up the mountain, I killed some of your kind. I apologize if any of them were your people."

    The golden winget replies, "Oh it's okay, I just protect the species, I don't have any attachment to any individuals. They grow up and die too quickly, I seem to grow more detached with each successive generation..." he shakes his head sadly.

    "Do you not have any family? Any children?" asks Mama.

    The golden winget sighs, "My family died long ago, and I have never had children."

    I poke Mama in the side and whisper, "He's single!"

    Mama whispers, "What do you mean single? Of course he is only one."

    I smile, "Yep, only one, he doesn't have anybody with him. How sad! If only he could meet someone special! They could be a family, live together, and raise cute little-"

    Mama covers my mouth and blushes a little, "I do not feel that way about him, and besides, we are different species!"

    Looking over at the golden winget, I see him turn his head away.

    'Hehe, so he heard. I've never tried matchmaking before, but I seem to be doing good so far!'

    "Um, Mister Winget, what's your name?" I ask in my most innocent voice.

    "What is a 'name'?" he responds, tilting his head.

    "Gnnkfff-!!"

    I turn around and desperately try to cover my mouth, but laughter still comes out in the form of muffled grunts.

    'They're perfect for each other!'

    "Is your daughter okay?" asks the worried golden winget.

    "She is fine, do not mind her."

    After I settle down, I say, "A name is what you are called. Mama named me Lyna."

    He nods his head. After thinking for a while, he smiles at me and says, "Then I will be called Mister Winget, as you have already called me that."

    Mama stares at him blankly.

    "Ah, no, when I said Mifdebff-"

    Suddenly, Mama covers my mouth and glowers at me, whispering "Leave it at that. I know what you are trying to do, and it is not working."

    I decide to stop matchmaking.

     

     

    The next morning, Mama says it's time to leave. Mister Winget insists on sending us off, so he walks with us to the other side of the mountaintop. Arriving near the edge, I walk over to Mister Winget.

    "This is for you. Thank you for letting us rest in your house!" I hold out a silver wire necklace with a silver ring on it. Previously I transferred everything over to the shield necklace, so that I could give him this.

    "I cannot accept that." he shakes his head.

    "I insist. Here, drop some blood on it."

    The golden winget looks at Mama, and she nods her head. He proceeds to scratch one of his toes with his beak, drawing blood. Touching the ring with his toe, he gets a blank expression on his face.

    "Here!" I hurriedly hold up the necklace, gesturing him to hold his head down.

    As he holds his head down, the necklace easily slips over his head, resting around his neck.

    Taking the opportunity as his head is near mine, I whisper in his ear as quietly as I can, as to not alert Mama, "Soak your body in the liquid."

    Mama said it would be dangerous to descend the mountain on foot, so she decided to fly us down. Apparently it mostly takes effort to fly when ascending. If she just glides us down, it's much easier.

    And so, as we glide down, I think of what I did last night. I remembered how soaking in tonic had helped Mama get stronger, so I decided to give some to Mister Winget. But since Mama might disagree if she knew, when they were both sleeping, I secretly went outside and put some in a handmade stone bowl. I then put the bowl in the storage ring and pretended to give him the storage ring as a gift, but the gift was actually the tonic!

    "Did you give him some tonic?"

    "What huh?!"

    "Haha, did you think I would not notice you sneaking outside in the middle of the night?" she ruffles the hair on my head. "Do not worry, you are not in trouble. The tonic belongs to you, so of course you can give some to someone else. I also feel that Mister Winget was a good person, so I will not object if you wish to give him some. It is just..."

    Getting a little nervous, I ask, "Just...?"

    Mama puts me on her shoulder, detaches her shield necklace, takes one of the storage rings off, and puts it on one of her fingers. She then takes the translating star off of its necklace and puts it on the shield necklace, putting the now empty necklace in a storage ring.

    "There, we are matching again." she smiles.




  • Slightly Contradictory

    Chapter 14


    Chapter 14 - All Downhill From Here

     

    Less than halfway down the mountain, Mama starts slowing down. It turns out that, even though gliding down takes less qi than flying up, it still takes a considerable amount. After landing on a flat area, Mama Bloodcat sits down cross-legged with her palms held together and starts meditating in order to restore her lost qi.

    I start getting bored, so I decide to start exploring the area. So far, compared to the other side of the mountain, this side of the mountain is quite boring. After breaking several dozen rocks, I haven't found a single piece of rock salt, and there aren't even any wingets. Not that I'm planning to eat wingets or anything. After meeting Mister Winget, Mama decided not to kill wingets anymore, and I did too.

    But the only interesting things on this mountain were wingets and rock salt, so without those, I quickly get bored. Making my way back to Mama Bloodcat after about an hour, I find her still meditating.

    'How is she able to sit still for so long? And humans train this way for years? Isn't it boring?'

    My thoughts are interrupted by Mama Bloodcat as she stands up.

    "Shall we go?" she asks.

    "Yep!"

    After one more pit stop, we finally reach the bottom of the mountain. After looking around for a bit, I make a conclusion.

    "This side of the mountain is like the other side, but more boring!"

    I haven't found a single strong creature since coming here, and the forest is boring too! There aren't any huge trees to climb or anything!

    I look at Mama, "Have you ever been here before?"

    She shakes her head, "I have been within those mountains for my entire life, this is the first time I have been on this side."

    "Ah, so where do you think we should go?"

    She points towards the thin silhouette that stretches up into the sky, "We should head there."

    I'm about to reply, when I hear some rustling a distance away. I start getting excited, hoping I might finally get to fight a strong creature, but Mama lifts me up and stares towards the direction of the sound, removing her halberd from her storage ring.

    "Friend or foe!" she shouts, pointing the tip of her halberd forward.

    After a couple seconds, "Friend! Friends, friends, we're friends!"

    A group of five middle-aged men emerge from the dense undergrowth, and the man in front is holding his arms up and smiling.

    "The name's Gieto, what's yours?"

    The man named Gieto looks middle-aged, just like the rest of the men, but he's built almost like a bodybuilder! Just like the rest of the men...

    "You may call me Mama Bloodcat." she replies.

    Stunned, I pat her on the shoulder with my paw.

    "Yes?"

    "Um, Mama is just what I call you, it's not really, you know, your name..."

    She nods her head in understanding, "Then I will make it my name." she smiles.

    I suddenly think back to Mister Winget, whom Mama looked at weirdly for choosing 'Mister Winget' as a name. I wonder if she realizes she just basically did the same thing?

    "Excuse me Miss, were you talking to your pet? Is it one of those talking beasts?" asks Gieto, scratching his head.

    Mama glares at him, "Of course she can talk, and this is my daughter, not my pet."

    I see the men's eyes go wide, and one of them starts whispering to Gieto.

    "Uh, you see, we're done with what we were doing here, so we're going to go back..." he says, as the group of men turn to leave.

    "Wait. Where do you wish to go back to?" asks Mama

    "You know, back to town." says Gieto, as he points behind him.

    "What is a 'town'?" asks Mama as she looks at me.

    "A town is-"

    "I was not speaking to you." before Gieto could finish talking, Mama interrupts him.

    She looks back at me, so I explain, "A town is a big group of people that all live together, at least that's what it was in my world."

    Mama nods her head, "So there are gatherings of beings such as that. Each one would be a match for me, yet there are so many living together."

    Fearing she misunderstood the situation, I explain, "Mama, I think those are regular humans. They were probably born human, so I don't think they're that strong."

    "So they are weak?" Mama glances at the group of men, who look genuinely scared by this point.

    "Yeah, you could say that." I nod my head.

    Mama nods her head, "Would you bring us with you to this town?"

    Gieto flinches and backs up a step, "Yeah, I mean yes, I mean, of course! Please follow us, Mama Bloodcat."

    He immediately turns around and starts walking, though it might be closer to running, forward. Mama, still holding me, keeps up with the men easily.

    Along the way, the men continually glance back, then turn their heads back just as quickly as if they had seen a monster. Eventually the men start slowing down, then they stop completely, panting heavily.

    "Can... can we rest for a while?" asks Gieto meekly.

    Mama frowns, "Of course you can."

    "Ah, sorry."

    "You did nothing to apologize for. Why does everybody keep apologizing to me?" Mama sighs exaggeratedly.

    "I... I don't know..." replies Gieto.

    "I was not talking to you."

    After an hour or so, everyone's fully rested, and we move on. I feel kinda sorry for these poor guys, but my excitement far outweighs my pity. A town! We're actually going to a town of people!

    "Hey, how many people live there?" I ask.

    No response.

    "Hello? Guys?"

    Still no response.

    "Hello?" Mama calls out.

    Gieto answers almost immediately, "Yeah?"

    "My daughter asked you a question."

    "Ah, sorry, what did she say?"

    "Do not apologize." adds Mama.

    With their attention now focused on me, I repeat my question.

    "How many people live in your town?"

    Yet again, no response.

    Mama looks annoyed, "Did you not hear her? She asked how many people live in your town!"

    The men jump, and Gieto replies, "I-I'm sorry, we couldn't hear anything! Please spare us!"

    Mama sighs exasperatedly as she looks up and starts mumbling, "If you did nothing to apologize for, then do not apologize! And even if you do have something to apologize for, why do you think I would harm you for such a petty reason?! Why does everyone think that I mean them harm? Do they take me for a villain?"

    As Mama starts pacing in circles, her voice getting louder and louder, I look back at the group of men. Or at least, I look at where the group of men used to be.

    "Mama... Mama... Mama!"

    Finally getting her attention, I point in the direction of where the men where.

    She sighs again, and shakes her head.

    "We will continue that way, it will be quicker with just us anyway." she says as she points in the direction that the group of men were leading us.

    Mama starts running, still holding me. She keeps sighing and shaking her head on the way, occasionally mumbling to herself.

    'I wonder if they really couldn't understand me. Is my universal translator broken?'

     

     

    After a whole day of searching, we have yet to find any sort of town. Mama has set up a campfire, and we're currently eating some sort of deer we found in the forest. It's not a black eyed creature though, as they seem extremely scarce in this forest. The only black eyed creatures I've seen so far have been a couple sitchles.

    Crack!

    I hear a branch break deeper in the forest. Almost instinctively, I send my soul in the direction of the sound to investigate. I weave through trees until I finally happen upon the perpetrators.

    "Mama!"

    Mama Bloodcat, who already has her halberd out, is surveying the forest.

    "Yes Lyna?"

    "There're a couple kids out there, they are the ones that made the sound. I think they might be lost."

    Mama smiles, "If that is the case, we must invite them over."

    She puts her halberd back in her storage ring, picks me up, and starts heading towards the source of the sound. Very quickly, we approach light, and I start hearing hushed whispering.

    "Who's there?!" a boy calls suspiciously in our direction.

    "Do not worry, I mean you no harm."

    Mama slowly walks into view, still holding me. As we near the children, I see a young boy and a young girl, both of which look around 14 years old. They both have blond hair, and very similar facial features. Each possesses what looks like a set of leather armor, with thin metal plates covering their vital areas. There are small cuts and holes in their armor, and the boy's armor even has a dent in the metal plate covering his heart.

    The boy is standing his ground while pointing a sword at us, and the girl is standing behind him. The look in their eyes tells me they would fight to the death if need be.

    "Go away, or I'll cut you!" the boy glares at us.

    "No, this place is dangerous for you. Come with me." Mama says with a slightly authoritative tone, then smiles.

    The children continue to stare suspiciously at us for a while, until the girl starts walking towards us.

    "Sarah!"

    "It's ok Neil, I trust her. Besides, if we don't get help soon, we're going to die anyway!"

    Now that I look at them closer, they do seem a bit emaciated.

    Mama gasps, "Oh yeah!"

    The wooden bracelet on her wrist starts glowing, and then starts releasing a stream of water, which gathers into a ball of water that floats above her hand.

    They stare blankly at the water for a while, until Neil pushes Sarah forward, "Please give her some."

    "Of course, you may both have some." Mama smiles.

    She asks them both to cup their hands, and then pours water into their hands, refilling them several times. Soon after, they docilely follow us back to camp. At camp, Mama winds up cooking some meat from that deer-like creature, since the children don't want to eat it raw.

    As we sit around the campfire, I see Sarah nudge Neil with her elbow.

    "What?"

    She whispers, "You should say sorry. She just wanted to help us, but you threatened to attack her."

    "Why should I say sorry? I would've pointed my sword at anything I didn't trust, it wasn't personal."

    As he talks, Mama's eyes start brightening up.

    Mama points at Neil and looks at me, "Hahaha! That is right, if you are not sorry, do not apologize! More people should be like that!"

    Sarah looks disbelievingly at Mama Bloodcat, while Neil looks at her with sparkling eyes.

    "I won't apologize, but I will say thanks. Thank you for helping us." he says as he stands up.

    With an 'ah', Sarah gets up and thanks Mama as well, as they both give her a little bow.

    She smiles, "You are welcome. Now please, lie down and get some rest. I will return you to your home tomorrow."

    Sarah starts fidgeting, "Um, that, your pet, can I..."

    She keeps glancing at me.

    Mama smiles, "She is not my pet, she is my daughter, her name is Lyna. If you want something, you may ask her."

    "Oh, Lyna... could I um, pet you?"

    The poor children must have gone through a lot out here. If I'm able to comfort them by just letting them pet me, then I'm happy to oblige. Standing up, I walk over between Sarah and Neil and lie down again.

    Sarah releases a little squeal, and practically jumps on me, hugging me and petting me. He acts uninterested at first, but Neil soon joins in as well. Soon after, I have two sleeping children on me, and find myself drifting off to sleep as well.



  • Slightly Contradictory

    Chapter 15

    Chapter 15 - Orion City

     

    I wake up the same way I fell asleep, squished. There is a child on either side of me, both snoring loudly.

    "Mama! Mama, help!"

    On the other side of the campfire, which has long since gone out, Mama is sitting cross-legged, meditating. After hearing my plea, she cracks one eyelid open, smiles, and then closes it again.

    It takes about another hour before they finally wake up.

    "Good morning Sarah, Neil."

    They both yawn, and Sarah says good morning back.

    "Are you two hungry?"

    "Not really, I just wanna go home." replies Neil drowsily, and Sarah nods her head in agreement.

    "Do you know where your home is?"

    Sarah nods her head, "I think so."

    Mama smiles, "Shall we head there then?"

    After hearing that, they both perk immediately.

    "Let's go, I'll lead the way!" shouts Neil.

    Mama nods her head, and we start walking, when suddenly I find myself leaving the ground again. I'm about to tell Mama that I can walk by myself, when I notice that she's walking a few feet away from me. Swiveling my head around, I see Sarah grinning happily while toting me along with her. I'm about to ask Mama for help, but the teasing smile on her face tells me she won't do anything.

    'At this rate I won't get to walk anymore.'

    I decide to make myself as comfortable as possible in Sarah's arms as we head towards our destination.

    We run into quite a few creatures along the way, several of which try to attack us. But any of them that act hostile receive a single swipe from Mama's halberd and fall immediately. Neil and Sarah seem amazed every time it happens. I'm not sure why though, none of the creatures even have black eyes.

     

     

    We've been traveling for nearly three days now, and we are finally starting to see signs of civilization. The moment we come across a farm, Sarah and Neil start getting excited, exclaiming that they recognize it. The children change direction slightly and start running, and soon after, we come across a dirt road.

    "This is the trade route, we just need to head that way and we'll get home!" says Sarah, nearly tearing up.

    "That is good, but it is getting late. We will continue our journey tomorrow."

    Almost as soon as Mama finishes talking, I start hearing noises a distance down the dirt road. As the noises get louder, a group of wagons and carriages come into view. The creatures pulling them seem similar to steeg, except they don't have black eyes. It seems to be some sort of caravan.

    Mama stands in front of us and stairs at them vigilantly as they near us. As they pass in front of us, the caravan starts slowing down, eventually coming to a complete stop. The door of the carriage second to the front opens and an elderly, probably around 70 year old woman exits and walks toward us, followed by a heavily armored, straight-faced man.

    "What're ya doin' out here?" asks the kind looking old woman with a smile.

    "We are going to the town." says Mama Bloodcat.

    "Which town are ya goin' to?"

    Mama looks at Sarah and Neil.

    Neil speaks up, "We're going to Orion City, that way." he points in the direction the caravan was headed.

    The elderly woman smiles, "We're headed there too. Why don't you guys hitch a ride with us?"

    Mama looks at the quickly darkening sky, and nods her head, "We would appreciate that, thank you."

    The woman, still smiling, bends down in front of Sarah, Neil and I, "What're your names?"

    Sarah and Neil reply with their names, and I instinctively reply with mine as well.

    "Sarah and Neil huh, those're nice names."

    Mama quickly speaks for me, "And she is Lyna." she says as she points at me.

    "She's yer pet, huh?"

    Sarah shakes her head and holds me up, "No, she is her daughter."

    The woman follows Sarah's finger over to Mama, and then looks at her oddly for a second.

    She then shrugs, "Welp, it's none of my business. Come on in, it's startin' ta get dark." she gestures to the carriage that she came out of.

    The carriage is large enough for all four of us to fit on one seat side by side, but I instead find myself on Sarah's lap. The elderly woman sits across from us, as does the armored man.

    "So what's yer name? Mine's Miina."

    "My name is Mama."

    I tap Mama Bloodcat, "Mama, you should call yourself Bloodcat instead, it sounds cooler!"

    Mama lets out an 'ah' and nods her head, "I am called Bloodcat." she amends.

    Miina looks like she suddenly understands something, "Ah, you must be a cultivator! They all seem ta have weird names, like Quick Fang or Sturdy Mantle."

    Mama nods her head, "Yes, I am a cultivator."

    'You do realize that she basically called your name weird, right?'

    I decide not to voice my thoughts though.

    "You've heard of Quick Fang?!" the two children voice out almost simultaneously.

    "I've only heard of him, never seen him before. D'you know him?"

    "Yeah, he's our dad! He's super strong!" Neil practically shouts, and Sarah nods while smiling brightly.

    "Wow, you guys have such strong parents!" marvels Miina as she glances at Mama Bloodcat.

    Mama shakes her head, "I am not their parent. I simply found them lost in the forest and am escorting them back to their home."

    "S'that so. It's a good thing you found 'em first, there's lots of creeps out there that would gladly kidnap the poor things."

    Mama tilts her head sideways, "Is it not natural to help children? Why would someone not?"

    Miina sighs and shakes her head, "Slave trading mostly, someone could make a mint selling a couple kids like these. Slave trading is officially banned, but underground slave trading is at an all time high right now."

    "What is a 'slave'?"

    "If you're a slave, it means somebody owns you like an object, and can do whatever they want to you." I reply, happy to finally have a chance to speak.

    Just as Miina is about to answer Mama's question, Mama suddenly bursts out, "That sounds horrible!"

    Miina flinches, "Uh, yeah, it's pretty terrible."

    "Where are these underground slave traders? I will dig them up immediately!"

    "Calm down, it's not as bad as you think. Say these kids wound up on the market, they'd probably get 'adopted'. They'd likely get bought by people with no kids of their own, who'd raise them as their successors. 'Sides, destroying the black market singlehandedly would be impossible even for a Qi Manipulation cultivator. It's a huge interconnected network that's in almost every city that I know of, and trust me, I've been around. But the worst part's their leader, it's rumored that he recently broke through to the late Qi Manipulation Stage."

    After Miina finishes talking, the carriage goes silent. Neil and Sarah seem to have been scared by Miina's monologue. Neil keeps gripping the sword at his waist and then letting go, and Sarah is squeezing me rather tightly. Miina seems to have made herself upset, as she keeps shaking her head and sighing, seemingly lost in her thoughts. Mama has her pondering face on, and keeps furrowing her eyebrows. And Mister Straight-Face is still straight-faced.

    Soon Neil and Sarah fall asleep, and I find myself drifting off as well.

     

     

    I wake up to the sound of people talking. Outside the carriage, Miina is talking to a man in armor, probably some sort of guard. The caravan has stopped just in front of a huge wall, and in front of us is an almost equally tall gateway. On the other side of the gateway are fields upon fields of farmland, and farther in the distance is a large city.

    Clank!

    I hear the sound of the carriage door opening, as Miina walks in with a smile.

    "Kay, we'll be in the city in no time!"

    The sound seems to have woken up the kids, as they're now groggily, yet excitedly looking out of the windows and pointing at things as we move past them.

    "Thank you Miina for your help, we appreciate it." Mama gives Miina a small bow, copying what Sarah and Neil did when we first met.

    "No, no, like you said, isn't it natural to help children? Don't worry about it!"

    We soon enter the outskirts of the city and decide to let ourselves out of the carriage, bearing Miina farewell.

    "You said you can find your way home from here?" asks Mama.

    "Yeah, it's this way!" says Sarah, as she and Neil skillfully weave through crowds of bustling people. Mama picks me up and starts following them.

    "Mama, I can walk by myself, you know?"

    "Yes, I know." she nods.

    I sigh and look around us. We seem to be in some sort of market district, and a very lively one at that. I can hear the constant murmur of the crowd; bartering, haggling, some people are even shouting at each other. I've never been so happy to be in such an obnoxious crowd of people before. I'm so happy, I can't even stop smiling.

    'Finally back to civilization!'

    We soon exit the market district, and the crowds start thinning out, to the point where there's only a few people walking on the streets now. We seem to have entered a middle-class residential district, which is full of old European-style houses.

    The kids keep running until we reach a high-class looking area, with mansions lying on large plots of land on either side of the street. They finally stop in front of a particularly big mansion, and head towards its gate.

    Neil waves and shouts, "Marcus, we're home!"

    There are two people guarding the gate, but after Neil's shout, one of the guards took one look in our direction, speaks to the other guard for a second, and then sprints to the house.

    The other guard opens the gate and runs over to Neil and Sarah, "Young masters, I am so glad you're both safe! Your parents have been worried sick, and have personally entered the forest in search of you. We will notify them of your return as soon as possible."

    "Thanks Marcus." both children reply in unison.

    The guard, Marcus, leads us down a long path to the mansion. As we near the mansion, the double doors open and over half a dozen servants come running out, saying things like 'welcome home' and 'please don't scare us like that'. Some have even broken down in tears, thanking some deity for their safe return.

    As we're about to enter the mansion, Marcus seems to have finally noticed us as he suddenly asks, "Who's that?" and points at Mama.

    Sarah retorts, "They saved our lives, let them in and serve them food and drink, we want to introduce them to Mom and Dad."

    The servants hurriedly accommodate the children's wishes, and we soon find ourselves on a couch with a table in front of it, which is quickly covered with food and beverages.

    "This is ebonberry juice, and that's ryuble jerky, and that's..."  "Try some of this, it's called soulfruit tart cake, it's one of Alice's original recipes..."

    Neil and Sarah start showing us their favorite foods, having us sample all of them. My personal favorites are the soulfruit tart cake and something called kubada bread. Mama, on the other hand, seems to like everything equally, as she's just scarfing it all down indiscriminately.

    After a plate or two of food and a couple drinks, I find myself feeling full, but Mama is amazing! She's already cleared half the food off of the table, and she's still eating!

    Slam!

    The front doors suddenly fly open, as a blond woman comes running into the living room.

    "Sarah! Neil!" she cries as she rushes towards the children.

    "Mom!" the two shout as they embrace their mother.

    It's the perfect example of a happy reunion; they're all trying to talk to each other at the same time, the waterworks are turned up to a maximum, everybody's happy... until their Mom sees me. As soon as we make eye contact, she immediately puts on a serious face and gathers her children behind herself.

    "Who are you?!" she demands, pointing at me and Mama.



  • Slightly Contradictory

    Chapter 16

    Chapter 16 - Bookstore

     

    We continue the standoff for a while, until the shocked Neil and Sarah finally speak up.

    "They saved our lives!"  "Yeah, they found us!"

    Their mom doesn't seem convinced.

    "What of that magical beast? Magical beasts are unpredictable, especially ones as strong as that! I don't want it anywhere near my children!" she shouts at Mama Bloodcat while pointing at me.

    Mama frowns and stands up, "I understand that you only worry for your children's safety, but I can assure you that my daughter will do nothing to harm them."

    "Daughter?! Just wait until your 'daughter' kills you in your sleep, then maybe you'll realize how dangerous magical beasts are! Please leave, and take your 'daughter' with you!" she says as she points at the doorway.

    'Ah, it kinda hurts being told that to my face.'

    I get the distinct feeling that I'm no longer wanted here, so I stand up and jump off of the couch on my own volition. Before I leave, I turn back and wave at the kids. Seeing them wave back brightens my mood a bit as I smile and head outside.

    "I am sorry."

    At some point on the path leading back to the street, I hear Mama's voice.

    "Haha, don't apologize if there's nothing to apologize for, right?"

    Mama laughs, "Yes, I hate when people do that, I just suddenly felt the urge to say sorry."

    "It's ok Mama, she probably just acted that way because she had a traumatic experience or something."

    "What is 'traumatic'?"

    "Traumatic is like when you have a really bad experience with something, then whenever you see that thing again, you usually get really upset."

    Mama nods her head, "Was that experience traumatic?" she asks as she points back at the mansion.

    "No, not really, it just makes me sad."

    "I see... then, is there anything that will make you happy again?"

    "Hmm... this place, didn't Neil call it Orion City? We should explore it!"

    Mama picks me up and perches me on her shoulders, "That sounds like a great idea, let us do that!"

    As we continue through the high-class residential district, I start noticing something odd. All of the grass is perfectly green. And it's not just the grass, now that I think about it, I can't remember ever seeing a shriveled up, dry plant since coming to this world. Paradoxically, I've also never seen a single cloud in the sky.

    "Mama, where does water come from?"

    "Water comes from the sky and from the ground."

    "But I've never seen it rain."

    "What is 'rain'?"

    "It's water that falls from clouds."

    "What are 'clouds'?"

    "A cloud is... wait, have you never seen a cloud? It's a big puffy white thing in the sky that drops water."

    Mama thinks for a minute.

    "Are you sure you are not thinking of birds? That may not have been water..."

    "No! I mean, I've never seen water come from the sky or the ground?"

    "I have only seen it happen in certain areas, mostly near mountains or hills."

    "Then why are all of the plants green? How are they getting water?"

    She looks at me confusedly, "Not all plants are green, some are yellow or red or-"

    I interrupt, "No, I mean-"

    Mama counter-interrupts, "Lyna, we should look for books on this subject, as I do not know how to answer your questions."

    And so we turn our 'city-exploration' trip into a 'library-finding' trip, but we don't find anything even after two hours of looking. Mama finally decides to start asking people where any books are, and after several people refer to a bookstore as the only source of books in the city, we decide to go there.

     

     

    We stare at the building in front of us.

    "I gotta say, I was expecting something... bigger?"

    "It is rather small."

    Mama makes her way into the small building with me still perched on her shoulder. As we enter, I see many shelves stacked with books lining the edges of the room. This place is pretty small, but it does have quite a few books. Sitting at a table in the middle of the room is a muscular middle aged man in a robe, reading a book. The man has a huge graying beard that covers half of his face and reaches nearly down to his belly. As he's the only person here, I can only assume that he's the owner.

    The man stands up and smiles at us... at least I think he's smiling? I can't tell for sure since his facial hair is covering his mouth.

    "What can I do for the miss and her friend?"

    Mama looks the man up and down then nods her head, "You are very strong."

    The man squints his eyes, "And I can't tell how strong you are."

    They stare at each other for a while longer, until suddenly he bursts out laughing.

    "The name's Psar Aklin, but people usually call me Hairy."

    "My name is Bloodcat, and this is Lyna."

    "Bloodcat? Like the high-tier magical beast bloodcat?"

    Mama shrugs her shoulders, "Probably?"

    Hairy holds his belly and starts laughing heartily. After laughing for some time, he finally calms down.

    Wiping a tear from the corner of his eye, he asks "So what can I do for Lyna and Miss Bloodcat?"

    "We would like to know about water."

    "Water? Like cultivation manuals? I don't have any of those, but I do know-"

    "No, we wish to read a book on where water comes from."

    "Oh, what you're looking for is a book on Qi Origins! I'm sorry to say that I don't have any of those at the moment. I do however know where you might find one."

    "Where might that be?"

    "You see, far away, on the other side of the Elemist Continent, there's a country called Estervont. Estervont is run by the Soul Surge Sect, which is devoted to the pursuit of knowledge, and is rumored to have the most extensive collection of books in the entire continent! That's the most likely place to find anything on Qi Origins."

    "What is 'Qi Origins'?"

    "Qi Origins is the study of qi; where it comes from, where it goes to, and how it affects its surroundings."

    "I see, thank you for the information."

    I suddenly remember something, "Mama, you should ask him if he has a map! A map is like directions to other places in the world."

    With an 'ah' Mama asks, "Do you have a map to Estervont?"

    After hearing Mama's inquiry, Hairy smiles so wide that his eyes squint... well, he's probably smiling. I can't help but feel that he was waiting for us to ask that question.

    "In fact," he reaches into a pocket on the back of his robe, "I have a map of the whole Elemist Continent."

    What he pulls out is a small object, about the size of a thumb. It looks almost like a green microchip encased in glass.

    "This is called a storage chip. It can store almost any type of visual information, and some storage chips can even store sounds. Do you know how to use them?"

    Mama shakes her head, so he explains, "Try holding it in your hand, and then channel your soul into it."

    Mama shakes her head, "I have yet to awaken my soul."

    "Oh, I'm sorry, how presumptuous of me."

    Or so he says, but his eyes are squinting again. This guy is really suspicious...

    "You see, to awaken the use of their souls, people usually have to train their minds until they awaken naturally. But there is another way. If somebody has cultivated their soul to a certain level, they can actually awaken other people's souls with their own!"

    'And I suppose you just so happen to...'

    "And I happen to have a soul strong enough to do just that! If you'll just give me your hand..."

    "Mama, could you ask him how exactly he awakens souls?"

    "Mister Hairy, how exactly would you go about awakening my soul?"

    "Oh, you see, soul levels are much like cultivation levels. First you have to train your mind for years, and eventually you will be able to feel your soul's existence. Of course, your mind will naturally grow as you grow wiser, so older people don't usually have to train their mind. Afterwards, some people will experience Soul Awakening, which is much like Qi Awakening. But most people will never experience Soul Awakening for their entire life. Then, after cultivating their souls for years, some people will rarely reach the Mental Imbuement level. People at this level can use their soul to imprint abilities on certain types of materials, such as this storage chip." he holds out the storage chip.

    His eyes start squinting again, "They can also send their soul into somebody else's body, which can stimulate their soul and help it wake up. And as you might have already guessed, I'm at the Mental Imbuement level!" he states as he gives a proud grin. Probably a grin.

    I'm about to ask Mama a question, but as if she's reading my mind, she asks him the very same question.

    "Is there anything after Mental Imbuement?"

    Hairy strokes his beard, "There are stories of people reaching Physical Imbuement. It is said that they can send their soul out of their body without touching anything, to send it freely through the air! I don't know of any living experts of that level, but I hope to one day achieve Physical Imbuement!" I can almost see his eyes sparkle as he talks.

    Mama smiles and puts her hand in front of me, "Lyna, would you please?"

    I close my eyes and put my paw on her hand, then carefully channel my soul through it. I've never sent my soul through anything living, except myself of course, so I'm a bit unsure of what to do, but everything goes surprisingly smoothly. My soul eventually encompasses her entire body except her head. I cautiously inch my soul up and, seeing that Mama doesn't seem to be feeling any discomfort, finally cover her entire body.

    It takes a bit of effort to maintain my soul this way, but it's not that much harder than examining the symbols around the Eggshell. We stay this way for a few minutes, until I finally feel something. It starts in her head and starts traveling through her body, displacing my soul as it goes. Eventually it covers her entire body, completely expelling my soul.

    We both exhale a long breath of air, and I open my eyes.

    "Did it work?"

    I look at Mama Bloodcat, and she nods her head while smiling.

    "In... incredible... your little friend has reached Mental Imbuement and you... you're already at Mental Imbuement?! Just how..." Hairy finally seems to notice that he's mumbling and closes his mouth. He lifts his head up and looks at us wide-eyed. I only wish I could see his expression, now that his plan failed. But contrary to my expectations, he suddenly bursts out laughing.

    "Hahaha! Yes, very good! Take this map, it's on the house! And here's an emblem that will help you get into the Soul Surge Sect!" he stuffs two storage chips in Mama's hand.

    "Now hurry to the Soul Surge Sect! I'll be- no, they'll be waiting! No, wait, nobody knows you're coming, of course... anyway, hurry up, I can't- no, they can't wai- no, right, hahaha, nobody's..." he practically shoves us out the door and then closes it behind us, still mumbling and laughing to himself.

    "..."

    "What a strange person. But he seems nice enough."

    "Really? I thought he was super suspicious."

    "Maybe a little bit, but I looked at the map, and the Soul Surge Sect seems to be in the same direction as the silhouette in the sky."

    "Ugh... I guess we'll just see what happens."

    Mama smiles, "I guess we will."



  • Sorry, a bit late on this one.

    Slightly Contradictory

    Chapter 17

    Chapter 17 - So We Meet Again

     

    After leaving Orion City, we take our time and simply walk along the road leading to the next city, Mealdrou. I've always liked going slow and appreciating the world around me, and Mama seems to enjoy it as well. And the scenery around here is really just so beautiful!

    Surrounding us now are green hills as far as the eye can see. As wind blows through the grass, sending ripples through it, I'm reminded of one time when Eric took me to a similar place. We brought a picnic basket and everything, spending the entire afternoon there, but the most unforgettable part was just before we went home. Eric suddenly laid out straight at the top of the hill and started rolling down it!

    Once he got to the bottom of the hill, he convinced me to roll down as well. We of course forgot the basket, so we went back up to retrieve it, but only wound up rolling back down the hill several more times. By the time we finally got back in the car, we were both covered in grass stains and bruises, but we were laughing like idiots anyway.

    Wiping a tear from the corner of my eye, I turn back, "Mama, watch this!"

    With that, I leave the road and start running up a hill. As soon as I reach the top, I lay myself flat and start rolling.

    It turns out that these hills are a lot steeper than the ones I remember rolling down. Halfway down the hill I'm already going so fast that I can hardly differentiate between the sky and the ground, then with a sudden jolt, I'm sent flying through the air by a small bump on the hill. I find myself flying right over the top of Mama, then a couple seconds and a dozen rotations later, I'm on the ground again.

    "Lyna...?"

    "Ahahaha! That was awesome! I'm going to do it again!"

    I stand up and start trying to scale the hill again, but I'm so dizzy that I'm nearly walking in circles. I eventually reach the top of the hill, but as I lie down again, I see Mama Bloodcat lying in front of me.

    "That looked fun, I want to try it as well."

    And so we both start rolling down the hill. This time I don't hit a bump, and wind up rolling all the way to the other side of the road before I stop. Lying on my belly, I start looking around for Mama, but I can't seem to locate her.

    "Oopff?!"

    I'm suddenly slammed into by something. To the side, I see Mama roll off of me, and then she keeps rolling a few more times due to her momentum. After she stops rolling, we look at each other, eyes still spinning, and start laughing. After waiting a few seconds, we both stand up and walk up the hill again in a zigzag pattern.

    Eventually, it somehow turns into a game where we roll down opposing hills and try to ram each other. We lose track of time, and before long, the sun starts setting.

    We decide it's time to set up camp, but just as we're about to look for a place, we start hearing clanking noises in the distance. Coming towards us is a familiar looking caravan, with steeg-like creatures pulling carts and carriages. It seems a bit smaller than the last time I saw it, but it's definitely the same caravan.

    As the caravan nears us, it slows down again, and out steps Miina, along with her ever straight-faced guard.

    "Hey! You guys ever get those kids home?" she shouts.

    "Yes, we have returned them to their home safely!" Mama shouts back.

    "C'mere, let's talk!"

    We walk over to where Miina is, and she invites us into the carriage again.

    "So, ya headed to Mealdrou?"

    "Yes, that is our destination." Mama nods her head.

    "Would you care to travel with us again and keep this old woman company?"

    "Of course, we would love to." Mama smiles.

    While Mama and Miina talk, I find myself staring at Mister Straight-Face. I didn't really intend to stare, but as I glanced at him earlier, he happened to be looking my direction as well. We wound up staring at each other, and somehow, it feels like I would lose if I look away first. As we continue our staring contest, I start losing track of time, and Mama and Miina's voices eventually fade out.

    "Kale, why're ya staring at Lyna?"

    "Because she's staring at me."

    I'm awoken from my trance as Miina scolds Mister Straight-Face. Or should I call him Kale? Anyway, whatever his name is, it occurs to me that this is the first time I've heard him talk.

    Miina seems to notice something as well, as she nudges him and tells him to introduce himself.

    "My name is Kale, I'm Miina's husband."

    Our shock must have shown on our faces, as Miina laughs, "Don't judge him based on his young looks, he's actually older than I am!"

    I look at Kale, who looks about 40 years old and doesn't have a single white hair on him. Then I look at Miina, who looks easily 70, and has a head of gray hair. It's really hard to believe that he's older than she is.

    "You see, he's a cultivator, been one since he was young. He used ta go to one of those cultivator schools, where they'd call him a genius and a prodigy. But then he met me." she sighs as she droops her head a little.

    Kale pats her on the back, "I would marry you all over again if I was given the chance. It's not your fault."

    "I know you would, but if I could go back, I'd try ta never meet you. You wasted so much of your life..."

    Kale hugs her and gives her a kiss on the forehead, "I did waste it, but only because I was away for so long. I'm just sorry that I was never there for you."

    Miina smiles and pushes him away, "What're you doin'? Ya always act all shy around strangers, and now you're huggin' and kissin' on me right in front of them?"

    Kale finally seems to notice us, as he sits up and resumes his straight-faced behavior. I can see a blush spreading across his cheeks though.

    "Sorry, I'm sure you guys don't wanna hear some downer story 'bout stupid kids."

    Mama nods her head, "I wanna hear."

    I start nodding my head as well.

    Miina laughs and shakes her head, "Guess I'll make it quick. We were pretty young back then, an we really hit it off, so we decided to get married. Simple, right?"

    We nod our heads.

    "Well, after we got married, Kale started realizin' that he'd far outlive me, since cultivators have longer lifespans. So to remedy the problem, he started tryin' to teach me cultivation. I got the Body Tempering thing down," she flexes her arms, revealing some impressive biceps, "but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't absorb any qi."

    "Why not?" asks Mama.

    She shrugs her shoulders, "Seems I was born with junk blocking my meridians. Means I can't absorb qi unless they get un-blocked. It's not a completely unheard of condition, but supposedly there's still no cure. Even so, Kale started searchin' the continent for ways ta cure me. He'd sometimes leave for years at a time, and eventually the same people who used to call him things like 'genius' and 'prodigy' started callin' him things like 'trash' and 'waste'."

    Mama furrows her brows, "Fickle people."

    "I didn't care what they thought about me, and I still don't. All I cared about was being able to spend more time with her. But it took so long, over half of her life, for me to realize just how much of her life I had missed. The thing I regret most is leaving her for so long."

    Miina jabs him in the side with her elbow, "So you know how long ya made me wait?"

    I feel tears welling up in my eyes and, as I look at Mama Bloodcat, I see that tears are already streaming down her cheeks. Suddenly her face seems to brighten up as she wipes her tears away and looks at me, smiling.

    She leans over and whispers, "Lyna, maybe tonic could help her?"

    "Ah! That's a good idea!"

    "But what if they do not trust us..."

    "I guess we could always kidnap her."

    Mama replies very seriously, "Yes, that is true."

    I'm about to reply that I was joking, when an idea pops into my head. I immediately start channeling my soul out of my body, and send it towards Miina.

    Picturing the charts showing the location of the dantian, which I've seen in those cultivation manuals, in my mind, I quickly find Miina's dantian, but it doesn't look at all like what it's supposed to. All of the qi passageways leading to it are clogged by some crusty black substance, while the dantian itself is shriveled and unhealthy looking.

    I approach one of the qi passageways and try touching the crusty black substance, but my soul just goes right through it.

    'Ah, right.'

    I've found that, depending on my intentions, my soul has different effects. For instance, if I want it to go through things, it will, but otherwise it tends to collide with things.

    I concentrate on trying to remove the black crusty substance, and touch it again. All of the black substance I touch turns to dust and falls down.

    'Hahaha! I'm a genius!'

    First I split up my soul and start mapping her qi passageways, then I destroy all of the black stuff clogging them. The whole process is extremely tiring, and I feel a huge headache start creeping up on me. But my exhaustion only makes me work faster, as I want to get it done quickly so that I can rest. Soon I clean the last of her qi passageways, and then slump on Mama Bloodcat's lap.

    "Hehe, Mama, ask Miina to try absorbing qi."



  • Slightly Contradictory

    Chapter 18

    Chapter 18 - Not Again

     

    Responding to my inquiry, Mama gives me a questioning gaze, to which I reply with a smug grin.

    "Miina, can you try absorbing qi right now?"

    "Yeah? Oh, yeah, I can, but it won't do anything."

    "Would you please try?"

    Miina shrugs her shoulders and closes her eyes. Very quickly though, her relaxed expression turns into a confused one, which then turns into a serious one as she crosses her legs on the seat and starts meditating.

    Kale stands up, "What's happening? What did-"

    Mama interrupts him, "Be quiet, she needs to concentrate."

    Kale purses his lips together and presses both of his hands against Miina's back. His face flickers through several emotions, and then he crosses his legs and closes his eyes as well.

    Mama leans down and whispers, "What did you do?"

    "Hehe, I used my soul to clear out her meridians! I gotta find out what other cool things my soul can do! Maybe I could levitate objects with it? Oh, maybe I could even levitate myself!"

    "What is 'levitate'?"

    "Ah, levitating is like flying! Wouldn't that be so cool? Oh right, you can already fly. Hahaha, maybe we'll both be able to fly!"

    Suddenly, I feel a small wave of qi pass over me, which came from the direction of Kale and Miina. As I look towards them, I see Miina open her eyes, smile, and start laughing. Kale's arms drop down to his sides and, as Miina embraces him, still laughing, he slowly wraps his arms around her and starts crying.

    Mama laughs, "We will go the rest of the way on foot."

    Kale immediately stands up, "No, we have to thank you for what you've done! Please, ride the rest of the way with us."

    "No, we have somewhere to be, we must be on our way. Besides, you do not have me to thank, my daughter is the one that helped you."

    With that, Mama Bloodcat gives a mischievous grin, grabs me, and jumps out of an open window. She starts running along the road, and we quickly pass the caravan, which soon disappears in the distance.

    The sun has already set, and the sky should be dark by now, but I can't really tell. The exhaustion of my soul from earlier starts catching up to me as I gaze at the stars in the sky.

    As the scenery rushes by around me, the stars above seem completely still, as if frozen in time.

    'One day, I'll travel through the stars. They'll move past me as fast as these trees...'

    As soon as the crazy thought appears in my head, I feel myself start to pick up speed. Everything seems to move faster and faster, and as I look around, I find that Mama Bloodcat is nowhere in sight.

    Soon everything is moving by so quickly that it's hard to see clearly. Eventually the moons start moving as well, and the stars become the only stationary things in my vision.

    Before I notice, the moons in the sky are already gone. I look down, but the planet has disappeared from underneath me, replaced with space, with stars. One moment everything around me seems to be moving, and the next, everything seems so still.

    I watch the ever un-moving stars with a calmness I would never expect from myself. No, that's wrong; the stars have already started shifting. I fix my gaze ahead of me as a star starts expanding, soon growing large enough to fill my entire vision, and then passes by and disappears behind me just as quickly.

    The stars, which were so still, start flying past me like a swarm of fireflies. It feels like I could simply reach out and touch one, like I could grab one and pluck it from space.

    The stars eventually become blurs of light. They all seem to meld together, forming a blanket of light that surrounds me. Even the space around me seems to warp and distort, causing a nauseous feeling to pass over me.

    I look down at my body, now the only thing in my vision that's not moving. But instead of my own body, I see the body of a human man in black robes.

    "You must die!"

    I suddenly wake up.

    The first thing I notice is, it seems I can't scream. Rather, it seems I can't really move at all. My entire body feels sore, I feel a bit sick, and I can't move, but I don't feel like I'm dying at least. Not that that's reassuring.

    'What the heck was that?!'

    That was the weirdest dream I've ever had, it felt so real. And where did the idea of flying through the stars even come from? I've never particularly wanted to go to space. Then there were the robes I saw just before waking up, they somehow seem... familiar. I don't remember ever seeing them, though.

    Anyway, that whole thing was weird, but there was that same voice telling me to die again! Why is that thing so rude, telling me to die? It's not like I'm going to die just because it tells me to...

    'Wait, that part was a dream, right...?'

    I focus all of my effort on trying to open my eyes. As my eyelids slowly part, the first thing I see is, well, nothing. Everything is just one big blur. I try looking around, but moving my eyes is hard, and the splitting pain wracking my head doesn't help either. Eventually my eyes start to focus, and I'm able to make out some trees and big rocks around me. It seems we're in a forest again.

    My vision eventually clears further, and after a few scans of the area, I don't see anything dangerous looking. Of course, since I'm lying on my side, it could be behind me.

    I try moving my body again, and find that I can move surprisingly well now. With considerable effort, I prop myself into a sitting position and survey my surroundings. After looking all around me, the only living creature I can see is Mama Bloodcat, who's snoring a couple feet away from me.

    I only manage one look around me before I start getting lightheaded and fall down, after which everything starts getting dark.

     

     

    "Wake up Lyna, I have breakfast."

    I wake up to the sound of Mama Bloodcat.

    "Ah, yes Mama. Man, I have such a headache..."

    "Did you stay up all night studying symbols again?"

    "No, I think it's from helping Miina. I probably overexerted myself."

    Mama gives an 'ah' as she brings a... well, basically a dead jackalope, over and drops it in front of me. It's about as big as a deer, and it has black eyes, but it's undoubtedly a jackalope.

    "I searched all over, and finally found a black eyed creature. I wanted to give you something special, because I am very proud of what you did yesterday."

    I smile at her, "Thanks Mama!"

    The jackalope tastes exactly like I would expect it to; mythical. I'm not sure I've ever tasted something so delicious in my life! We quickly finish off almost the whole jackalope.

    "Ahhh, that was delicious. Where did you find that jackalope?"

    "What is a 'jackalope'?"

    "Oh, that's what I called that thing. Sorry, did you want to name it? Since you found it and all."

    She laughs, "I think jackalope is a perfect name, we shall name it that."

    "So did you see any more of them?"

    Mama Bloodcat shakes her head.

    "Anyway, that thing was delicious! Thanks for the food Mama."

    Mama just smiles and mentions that we should probably start traveling again. And so we start following the road again.

     

     

    We wound up quickening our pace a bit, and after two more days of traveling, we finally arrive at Mealdrou. This place seems even more impressive than Orion city. There's a drawbridge and some sort of tollbooth at the gate, and there's a line of traffic practically a mile long trying to get in. Carriages, carts, there are even many people on foot just like us trying to get in.

    Luckily the line moves pretty fast, so in a few hours we find ourselves nearly at the tollbooth. Suddenly, a realization dawns on me.

    "Mama, we don't happen to have any money, do we?"

    "Ah."

    There's a shout of 'next' in front of us, and Mama and I walk up to the tollbooth.

    "Five quotes per person, ten per vehicle."

    "We do not have any money with us, is there anything else that we can pay with?"

    The man looks at Mama lazily from his chair, "Look lady, you're holding up the line. If you don't have any quotes, please move aside and let the next group through."

    Mama waves her hand, after which a red gem appears on the man's desk. The red gem is an item that starts fires, which we found at the pyramid.

    "Is this enough?"

    The man stands up and looks between the red gem and Mama Bloodcat a few times.

    After a moment of silence, the man calmly replies, "Yes, that's enough, you and your group can pass."

    "Thank you." replies Mama, and with that, we walk through the gateway.

    On the other side of the gateway is a huge plaza, tiled with something that looks like marble. The buildings at the edge of the plaza, too, seem to be made out of either marble or different types of fancy stone. There's even a translucent yellow building, which seems to be made out of a huge gem!

    "Is there anywhere you want to go?"

    "Nah, not really. We should just explore first!"

    Mama laughs, and we chose a street and start following it. Almost immediately, I start noticing a definite difference here compared to Orion City. In Orion City, practically everyone had at least the third level of body tempering, while most people were in the Qi Awakening stage or higher. Even the merchants there were pretty strong.

    Here though, there seems to be lots of normal people who don't practice cultivation at all. There are people wearing fancy clothes rushing through the streets, possibly heading to work. There are couples holding hands, sitting on benches. There are people leisurely walking through the streets, seeming to just be enjoying the sights.

    There are lots of cultivators too of course, and many of them seem to be pretty strong.

    "Halt!"

    Proceeding the shout, I stop and turn my head, as do the rest of the people on the street. A group of ten guards walk towards me and Mama until they're a few feet away, and then surround us.

    A man wearing slightly fancier armor walks up to Mama, "The city lord would like to see you. Please follow us."



  • Slightly Contradictory

    Chapter 19

    Chapter 19 - Greed

     

    "So, I hear you've got a storage device."

    We've been brought into the city lord's office. The first impression the city lord gave me was a very obese, but kind looking middle aged man. But after looking at Mama for a few seconds, his expression almost immediately shifted to an unpleasant, greedy expression.

    The guards usher Mama to a chair, and she picks me up and sits down.

    "I want to buy your storage device, please show it to me."

    Even Mama Bloodcat, who doesn't understand many social cues, seems to realize how rude the man is being, as she furrows her brows and frowns a little.

    "Come on, I just want to look at it, there's nothing wrong with that right?"

    "Who are you, and why do you wish to speak with us?"

    The man gives an 'ah', "I'm City Lord Marcus, and I called you here because I want your storage device. I'm willing to pay one thousand quotes for it."

    Mama sighs, "I do not know how much money that is, but I do not wish to sell to you. I do not like you."

    I can't help bursting out laughing at Mama's response. The city lord's face quickly darkens, but he actually starts laughing.

    He stands up and sneers at us, "Good, good! The only reason a Qi Awakening cultivator such as yourself would be so impudent is because of your magical beast! Well let me tell you, your holy fox is only at the early Qi Manipulation stage. What if I told you I'm half a step from the mid Qi Manipulation realm? And I'm not the only strong person here. You should think it over again, will you sell your storage device to me or not?"

    "I will not, we are leaving."

    As soon as Mama Bloodcat stands up, two guards seem to appear out of nowhere, blocking our path.

    Mama glares at the city lord, "Do you intend to attack us?"

    "That depends, will you sell me the storage device?" asks the city lord derisively.

    "No."

    "Then yes, we'll kill you both."

    Mama turns to the guards behind us, "Do you wish to kill us as well?"

    The two men grin and shake their heads no mockingly.

    Mama sighs and puts me down on the chair, "Most humans seem less violent than beasts, capable of living together peacefully."

    The men surrounding us look confused for a second and then, out of nowhere, one of the guards collapses in a pool of blood.

    Mama stares harshly at the city lord, "But it seems there are some humans that are equally as vicious as us beasts."

    As Mama starts walking towards the city lord, the other guard collapses as well, and the city lord finally seems to come to his senses.

    With a wave of his arm, he sends a vine out of his sleeve. The vine quickly nears Mama Bloodcat, but she merely touches the tip of the vine, catching it on fire. The fire quickly spreads to the rest of the vine, incinerating it as it goes, all the way up to the city lord's arm.

    Following a scream of pain, the city lord's arm goes limp, after which he holds up his other arm, which starts emanating a green glow. He crouches down and then jumps, propelling himself towards Mama Bloodcat.

    With a quick movement, Mama smacks the city lord's glowing arm long before it reaches her, breaking it, then grasps his throat and lifts him off the ground.

    "I have always thought myself to be less vicious than other beasts, but I will not tolerate others trying to kill me or my family!"

    Crack!

    "We are leaving."

    Everything happened too quickly. I can only stare on in shock as billows of colored fog, one blue and two green, rise from the three bodies and head toward me.

    As the fog enters the marble on my chest, I feel some sort of barrier inside of me break, and then a wave of qi rushes through my body.

    As Mama picks me up, she freezes for a second, and then smiles.

    "You have leveled up."

    I finally wake from my stupor, "Ah, yeah, I guess I did."

    Mama walks out of the city lord's mansion as if nothing happened, and continues walking through the streets with me in her arms.

    I can't seem to shake off what just happened though. Those men attacked us for no reason other than to steal something we had, and the instigator was the leader of a city no less! Those guys were no better than the black eyed beasts back in the forest that attacked us for no reason.

    Suddenly Mama lifts me to eye level and stares at me seriously, "Lyna, I do not want you to judge all humans based on the actions of those few back there. They were blinded by their greed, which led them to their deaths. Remember to treat everyone kindly, be they beast or human, unless they mean you harm. Or maybe if they are food. And remember to never covet others' belongings to the point that you are willing to kill them."

    She then brings me closer and hugs me. I find the current situation to be a bit funny. A magical beast that turned into a human is lecturing a human that turned into a magical beast on humanity.

    I look up at Mama Bloodcat, who still has a serious look on her face, and can't help but start giggling.

    "Yes Mama."

    Suddenly a loud voice seems to encompass the entire city.

    "City Lord Marcus has been found dead, along with two elite guards. The perpetrator is believed to be a woman clothed in red and her small white magical beast. If you see anyone who fits this description, we advise that you avoid them at all costs."

    Almost immediately after the broadcast, a man across the street spots us.

    "That's them!" he blurts out, and then quickly covers his mouth as if he had said something wrong.

    A few seconds and a few screams later, we're the only ones left on the street.

    "It seems we are no longer welcome here."

    "We did kill their leader after all, guess it can't be helped. Even though he was a total jerk..."

    We start making our way to the city gate. Everywhere we go, the people clear the street in front of us. I even see people staring at us through windows, but every time I make eye contact with them, they recoil with fearful expressions on their faces.

    I used to be a firefighter, so I'm used to looks of gratitude, praise, even looks of adoration from kids. I've experienced dissatisfied, even resentful looks for not getting fires put out in time. But I don't remember ever getting looks of fear before, at least not from humans. On second thought, I guess Neil and Sarah's mom was pretty scared of me.

    'Ugh, I hate this feeling'

    Mama keeps walking until we eventually reach the gate. Standing underneath the gate, blocking the way, are hundreds of people in armor. They have yet to close the gate, so I assume they aren't intending to keep us in the city. So why are they blocking our path then?

    As we near the group, a tall female guard, nearly as tall as Mama Bloodcat, approaches us. She keeps walking until she's only a few feet from us, and then stops. Straightening her posture, she holds up a scroll and unrolls it in a practiced manner, and starts reading from it.

    "You have been accused of killing City Lord Marcus and two Qi Manipulation Guards. Do you accept these charges?"

    Mama puts me on the ground, "I killed them."

    "In accordance with international law, you will have your appearance imprinted. This crime will be recorded and any country or individual, if they so desire, may post bounties for your capture or death. Should you refuse, you will become the mutual enemy of all countries in the Elemist Coalition."

    The woman lowers the scroll and gestures at the people behind her, after which a man leaves the group and walks towards us. He's one of the few people here not wearing armor, and is holding a device that I can only assume is some sort of camera.

    "This man will take an imprint of each of you, please stand still."

    Mama frowns, "It is I who killed all three men. She has nothing to do with this."

    "You cannot prove that. The law states that you must both be imprinted, please comply."

    "Then I-"

    "Mama! Don't worry, it's just a picture. Besides, if they spread my picture around the continent, won't I be a celebrity?"

    "What is a 'celebrity'?"

    "Ah, being a celebrity means you're famous."

    "What is 'famous'?"

    "Oh right, famous means a lot of people know about you."

    "So if one is old, they are a celebrity?"

    "Why would they be a celebrity just because they're old?"

    "As you grow older, you will meet more people. Thus, more people will naturally know about you."

    "No, I mean like, if you're a celebrity, everyone knows about you."

    "How can one guarantee that everyone knows about them?"

    "It's just a figure of speech. It just means that a ton of people know about you."

    "Yes, so an old person may be a celebrity."

    "Well yeah, an old person can be a celebrity, but a celebrity is not necessarily old. A lot of people know about celebrities, but a celebrity doesn't have to know a lot of people."

    "So how does..."

    Suddenly Mama looks around, and I follow her lead and look around as well. Somehow, all of the people around us have disappeared.

    "They must've taken our picture while we were talking and then left."

    Mama Bloodcat squints her eyes, "Sneaky people."

    "So I guess we can just leave the city now?"

    "It would seem so. But you must explain what a celebrity is, I still do not fully understand."

    "Oh yeah, so I was saying a celebrity is basically being famous, right? Well remember when all of the people were running from us? They were running from us because we were famous, and we were famous because of the announcement."

    "I see, so people are afraid of celebrities."

    "Nonono, we just so happened..."

    And so we continue our journey to the silhouette in the sky, as I try to explain what the word celebrity means.



  • So uhhh, not sure what happened, but when I tried to edit a few chapters, they disappeared. :p Anyway, from now on, I will be posting this on RoyalRoadL. You should be able to find it by searching "Slightly Contradictory" on google.
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