‘Why do I have to travel?’ and ‘What is so pleasant about leaving the pond and exploring beyond Zipangu?’ were both questions I would have asked myself a few years ago. Honestly, I never had much desire to leave the home I had known my whole life. As a young lady, that’s just how I was. But now…
One day a pilgrim came to our pond seeking council and guidance from my most revered Mistress. His name was Reggie and from the moment I laid eyes upon him… well, I just knew he was the only one. My mind was filled with images of the two of us getting married, having many beautiful daughters and growing old together at the shrine. But the thoughts of family portraits were ripped to shreds as the butterflies in my chest fell to there death. Reggie was the nomadic sort of man and he didn’t plan on staying at the pond for long. I was torn between obligation to the shrine and my need to be with the man I loved.
It wasn’t easy for such a shy Shirohebi such as myself to tear away from the pond I had known my whole life. In fact I spent much of my time in meditation and secretly appropriated more than a few drinks to calm my excited nerves before confronting Mistress Ryu about my decision to fallow my feelings and go along with my beloved. My mind was made up and I was prepared for any response. If it meant needing to punch the Demon Lord and all of her daughters in the face to be with Reggie then so shall it be done!
“M-Mistress?” I stuttered in a way unnatural for my character and very unbecoming of a lady. Oh It is embarrassing to think about! “Thow must seek out thine Heart. Verily, when thow hast caught him, bring him back to the shrine so I may play grandma to your many, many daughters!” The Mistress had spoken her approval and I could hardly keep my composure. Bowing my thanks and vowing to return with my love, I prepared for the eve of exodus.
Reggie didn’t mind having a companion along on his journey. That was so like him! Such a kind man as I knew he would be. Our adventures as traveling healers led us far beyond the realm of Zipangu. We encountered many colorful characters on our misadventures and had many great experiences.
The highlight of our travels came 2 weeks, 3 days and 17 hours ago when he proposed and we got married! It was a small and elegant ceremony at a beautiful temple that the people of this land call a ‘Church.’ Now we were traveling to find a good place for an extended and exceptionally intimate honeymoon.
However, after a few misunderstood directions we ended up in a strange patch of woods with as many giant mushrooms as there were trees.
As we traveled along, I felt strange. It was as if something deep within my heart, no my entire being was telling me that a dumb bitch might try and take my beloved Reggie any second. I knew Reggie wouldn’t give into some bimbo’s advances and even though he shouldn’t pay her no mind he was still a man of great conviction and wouldn’t walk away from someone in need.
“Hey Michiko, that girl seems awfully distraught.” He said those words and whatever thoughts I had left in an instant. I saw a woman running towards us. Later on I found out she was a Cheshire Cat, and we were somehow in a place called ’Wonderland.’
Her hair was a light green mixed with black. Like all Werecats, the Cheshire had the tail, ears and paws of a feline. She had puffy eyes from sobbing uncontrollably. This poor girl kept sputtering, stuttering, and was speaking in such a way that it was difficult to understand her. We both told her to calm down and speak slowly. Her response was quite un lady-like.
“HE NEEDS HELLLP!” she screamed at us in a fit of frustration. The Cat then ran off into the woods. Without hesitation, Reggie charged in after her. I couldn’t help but smile. This was the 134th time he did that this year. Running to the rescue of those in need of help was one of his finest qualities.
With that thought came the idea that she was leading him to a trap of ravenous, sex starved neko-girls. I made haste to catch up to them to keep him safe. Where the cat lead us, however, was an awful sight.
A man was laying on the ground with his back perched up next to a tree. His eyes were closed but his expression was full of pain and fatigue. The design of his attire was pattern of very small squares, all colored in various browns and tans. The only visible injury he had was a broken left leg. The bone had pierced through his strangely colored trousers, between the ankle and the knee.
The Cheshire Cat ran up but quickly came to a halt at about four paces away from the man. She hesitated for a second before running in a wide circle. Taking a detour around him as if afraid of touching his injuries. She then leaned down and gently rested herself on his chest in an attempt to keep him warm and herself calm.
Reggie crouched down beside the broken leg. “How long has he been like this?” he asked while visually examining the leg. The sobbing Cat sniffled and tried to wipe her tears away. “I found him like this a few hours ago. I don’t know what to do! Please do something to help him be better!” she cried with her voice and pleaded with her eyes to both Reggie and I.
The man opened his eyes with a startled jolt and looked from us, to the Cat, and back to us again. “Please, I have an open fracture and need medical help right away~” The man started off but was quickly shushed by my Reggie. “It’s alright, sir. Just relax. We have come to help you.” my Love was so good at soothing restless spirits in pain.
With practiced skill, I helped Reggie take his rucksack off and grabbed for rope and the healing stones as he went into the nearby area for sturdy sticks to use for securing the wounded leg.
The man reached up and caressed the Cheshire Cat’s head to help calm her down. Noticeably paying more attention to her ears, almost as if fascinated by them. Soon after he turned his head toward me and set his gaze upon my lower body.
“Pretty good cosplay. If there’s a convention going on around here I would love to go.” I couldn’t figure out what he meant by that but I didn’t really try to. It was quite common for someone to speak nonsensical things when in pain.
I felt his wrist and the rapid heartbeat along with pale skin was a sure sign that he was in the early stages of shock. By cuddling with the man to keep him warm, the Cheshire Cat had unknowingly helped prevent his shock symptoms from getting worse.
Soon enough Reggie returned and we started to secure the leg to keep it still. I let him know my observations and we had the poor guy drink some knockout sedative to beat back his shock and so he wouldn’t thrash about during the healing procedure. I had the Cat drink the sedative as well so she wouldn’t interfere with the operation.
Reggie began the incantation while I worked on cutting the cloth and flesh open to let the exposed bone seek out it’s proper place inside the leg. Between undoing the damage done from the infection, rapidly mending the bones with the healing stones and repairing the torn muscles, the healing operation was done within 5 hours and 28 minutes.
With his injuries dealt with, I helped the man next by protecting his modesty. It is a useful spell for a loving spouse to know for mending tattered clothes. Soon his bloody, torn pants were made good as new.
Camp was being set up for the night just as the sun began to set. As the sedative wore off and the patient regained consciousness, he was stunned by the result of our work. “That’s not possible!” He accusingly pointed toward his mended leg. “It’s like the leg was never broken!” My beloved caught me beaming with pride at his work and winked at me. He said it would have been impossible without my assistance and I could feel my face go completely flush.
The man sat up and was understandably hesitant as he crossed his legs together. Our patient sat there silently staring into the embers of the camp fire for what seemed an eternity. I honestly felt startled when the silence was abruptly broken.
“My name is Tyler Emond. Thanks for saving my leg.” Reggie nodded and gave a simple chuckle in response. “Did your mother stitch your name onto your coat because you’re bad with introductions?” Reggie only meant the question as light humor but the man’s face tensed up as he glared at Reggie. I prepared for the worst as I thought for sure Tyler was going to jump up from his side of the fire and attack.
SSSSHHHHH! Came the ripping sound as Tyler reached for the piece of cloth on his jacket that had his family name and pulled it off in one swift motion. His eyes never once let my Reggie go. I honestly expected him to throw the cloth into the fire or at my beloved as the beginning of a bout of rage but neither of us expected what happened.
Tyler took the named cloth and replaced it back where it was on the jacket as easily as it came off. I think this Emond fellow could sense our collective confusion from his action as his glare softened and his stone cold frown became a shit eating grin. “First of all, Its not stitched on. It’s called Hook & Loop Tape, or ‘Velcro’. Second, all soldiers have to have their name and rank visible on their uniform for at-a-glance I.D.” over the next few minutes he asked us questions we didn’t have the answers to.
“Where is the city of Amman?”
“Who won the last U.S. Presidential election?”
“What does Coca-Cola taste like?”
He just kept asking questions. Each one was as strange as the last.
Tyler glanced down at the fire for a moment then looked back up at us. “Neither of you have ever seen Velcro before tonight, have you?” “No.” we both answered in unison.
He stood up and walked around the fire. Placing as much weight on his left leg as possible before asking us how we could possibly heal a broken leg in a single day.
“Well my Reggie is an exceptionally talented mage, and…”
“Magic?” Tyler cut in as he abruptly turned back towards us. “I’ve worked with magicians before. Learned a lot of their tricks but magic is not..” before he could finish his line I doused the fire in front of us using water magic.
My beloved just sat there for a moment and sighed before re-engulfing the wood in fire. My outburst was childish, I admit, but it had the desired effect. Judging by Tyler’s dumbstruck expression, he wasn’t going to doubt my Reggie’s magical abilities any more. Or mine.
“So, this really isn’t my world…” Those were the words of a crushed soul… In that moment, for some reason, I felt the sting of guilt for shattering his perception of what was real and not.
But I am glad that It didn’t take Tyler long to rebound and our discussions went on long into the night. According to our new friend, magic and monsters were considered myth and legend where he came from.
The Cheshire Cat was more than happy to volunteer for medical examination to prove to Tyler that she was a real monster. However, Tyler was completely convinced as she disappeared and reappeared to tease him as much as possible. In fact the Cat was in a noticeably higher spirit than earlier and she never let Mr. Emond out of her sight. Well I’m happy for her. If she hit it off so well with that man then it means she wouldn’t need to try anything funny with MY beloved Reggie!
In the morning Mr. Emond thanked us again for saving his life and we went on our separate paths. Reggie and I still wonder what happened to him. Even now, after all these years, I can’t help but feel sympathy for Tyler… The night we saved him, he asked us if we knew of a way for him to return to his world…
We couldn’t give him the answer he wanted.