(Please note, not edited/checked/PR-ed. You may run into a questionable grammar or two. If you spot them, please let me know in the comments. Thanks!!)
No answer came to Kain even after recalling this grisly event. Didn’t matter how hard he thought about it, he was still no closer to understanding how he got here, and how he had become a baby, out of all things considered.
But he was somehow able to tell that this wasn’t his home, that this wasn’t his world. It was as if he traveled back into a distant past.
As he mulled his current situation, he remembered waking up prior to this day, just that he wasn’t 100% sure of when. But definitely, he did regain consciousness right after the supposed fall to his flattened demise. It was fairly brief however, and was accompanied by a kind of excruciating pain that’s better purged out of his head or else he’d go insane.
That pain must’ve knocked him out cold until now.
Unfortunately, that revelation wasn’t going to bring him closer to the answer he was looking for.
What kind of prank is this? No wait, didn’t I hit that house with the puffing chimney? So…. did I die from that and uh, get reincarnated or something?
To his displeasure, he kept on reliving the horrid memories of being sucked into the bed and then falling buck naked from the sky repeatedly in his mind. There was nothing in those seemingly alcohol-induced madness that could shed some form of light on the matter, yet his mind replayed the scene over and over, until he felt nausea assaulting his stomach with vengeance.
No way on god’s green earth that crap was real, man. It can’t be. I mean…, really this too must be some kind of a nightmare that I’m yet to wake up from. This is some A-level Inception stuff going on here.
He somehow managed to convince himself that he was still dreaming, and felt better almost immediately. He even ignored the facts that were right in front of his face, such as him being trapped in a baby’s body, and that indeed, his perceptions were now functioning properly now. He even ignored that nagging little voice calling out to him from somewhere in his mind.
The soothing voices of the brunette carried in the air, dancing a slow tango with the aroma of distant flowers seeping into his brain. He took a closer look at the woman and the young girl. They really resembled each other to an almost spooky degree. Kain thought daughters were supposed to resemble their dads while boys, their mothers. A slight discrepancy for sure, or maybe his brain got scrambled by the actions of this improbable reincarnation and got his facts all mixed up.
The brunette’s warm and soft brown eyes were following the lines on the pages of the large, leather-bound but slim book. The girl, sitting on her lap, showed a good deal of enthusiasm, smiling, nodding and sometimes making a frown.
Kain noticed the girl had heterochromatic eyes, but it was really slight deviation in color – her left eye was two shades deeper brown than the other one. Almost unnoticeable, unless the angle of the light was just right.
That made him wonder, if his own set of eyes were also like that. And, seeing that both the woman and her daughter were quite beautiful, could he be a ladykiller as well?
He wasn’t a shabby looking guy back when he was still…. alive over that side, but having a face that was a few notches better sounded rather appetizing. Too bad he couldn’t confirm it just yet, as he hadn’t yet see a single mirror inside this room, which he figured was his nursery.
As he was thinking up of a few other unrelated nonsense, the softly spoken words of the brunette continued to drift in the air.
Kain tried to listen in but as expected, he couldn’t understand a single word. It didn’t even sound remotely like anything he’d heard before – at least nothing European, that was. Having said that, it didn’t sound Oriental either.
Not that he was an expert when it came to the matters of international linguistics; he himself had failed to learn a second language repeatedly, though not through the lack of trying. Another dark chapter in his life he’d like to forget.
Giving up for now, he decided to study the room he was in a little bit more, and began to notice some details he’d missed previously, here and there.
This place, there’s no electricity here, I’m sure of it. The décor is also way too old school. Wood here, wood there, wood everywhere. All this, all of this, just feels too real to be a dream. I mean, can I even cook up stuff like this all on my own?
The doubting voices were growing louder. He just couldn’t ignore it anymore now.
Could this be….? No freaking way.
Finally, he had to recognize this situation. He sure took his sweet time on it, but well, he was in a state of confusion so that was understandable.
This development he was in had many of the hallmarks straight out of dime-a-dozen bad Japanese Web Novels, and their equally questionable ‘fan’ translations. Bless their souls, it’s a crap load of Grade A hard work translating those walls of text for next to no pay but still, bad was bad no matter how hard one tried to redefine the perimeters.
What tripped him up from making a solid connection was that he didn’t get to meet a bearded ojisan god or a scantily clad, definitely jail-bait goddess on his way here, proclaiming that he was hit by a wayward truck and died, and now he was endowed with some type of an amazing cheat skill or two. After all, that was how those stories played out almost without an exception.
It sure would’ve been convenient to have a plot device like that, to throw in some exposition at our protagonist’s way but alas, he had no such luck on the matter.
Also, in those stories, main characters were always blessed with over the top superpowers that suspiciously resembled a stuff of many Japanese role playing video games. Maybe, then he too had some of those super-duper, ultra-hyper skills hidden away, waiting for him to simply activate it; so, just for the experimentation purposes, he willed a Status screen to pop up.
Of course nothing happened. It’d be weird if it did, actually.
Well, there wasn’t any guarantee that he was the main dude in this unfolding story so it was far too early for him to assume anything. A possibility of him being a regular Villager A was also there too. That’d be quite depressing, he thought.
He wanted to scratch his head in frustration, but his hand couldn’t reach the top of the noggin yet. More frustration piled on top of the other.
Well damn, I just don’t have enough info to figure out what the hell’s going on here. First, I gotta find out where I am, and then…. oh right, before that, I must….
He needed to overcome the language barrier first before starting on anything else on the to-do list of his; that much was obvious.
That was a big mountain for him to climb, but it had to be done regardless. He felt tired just thinking about the enormity of the challenge; back in high school, he tried to learn a secondary language, believing that being multilingual would allow him to look cool in front of girls. Yes, there was something about living in the Global Village and all that nonsense too, but that wasn’t important.
But it turned out he had zero aptitude with learning other languages. He had to find that out the hard, and sometimes, costly, way.
At first he tried Spanish, because of this cute girl in his class. That didn’t pan out and so he moved onto French. The reason being, he heard somewhere that French girls were all shades of alluring, exotic, passionate and smoking hot. That went as well as a bull in a china shop.
Later, it was the turn of Chinese Mandarin. Fail.
Apparently, according to the language instructors his brain lacked a certain something; as to what that was, he was never told. Probably his parents were trying to protect his somewhat fragile ego. Probably.
Because of these past traumas he was understandably nervous about the prospect of learning this foreign dialect. But he had no choice in the matter. It was either do or die – something preposterous like that.
Good news was, he was a baby. He couldn’t go anywhere, couldn’t do anything, nor could he get distracted by a friend request on a Facebook.
In other words, he had a plenty of time to concentrate on nothing but studying. Oh, how he danced with joy at that wonderful thought.
Nope, not really.
“Oh yes, my cute little boy’s growing up splendidly, aren’t you? Ehehehe. Come here, you.”
As he was hoisted up high in the air, Kain gazed at the man responsible for his current airborne antics; a young man in his late twenties, with a slicked back dark hair and a pair of deep, piercing azure eyes. Handsome, in a bookworm type deal, with an average height to boot. But his eyes had that dangerous glint to them, that said “I’ve seen things. Don’t mess with me.” Oh and a small, almost indistinguishable scar just above his left eyebrow.
Not to mention there was the small matter of his rather broad shoulders, as broad as an Olympic long distance swimmer. Yep, he was deceptively athletic, in other words.
This guy was speaking to the hoisted baby full of pride and affection, with a big, Cheshire Cat-like grin plastered all over his face.
Right now, they were in the main living room of the house, accompanied by the brunette and Kaleena, although the mother and daughter were getting ready for a long distance trip. Their luggage was being taken out one by one outside by the maidservants.
“And you’ve inherited your old man’s handsome mug. Heh, my bloodline’s really blessed by the gods, isn’t it. Little Kaleena’s a beauty and you’re a good looking kid already. And both of you are still so young!! Imagine when you’re a bit older!! You’ll be as popular with girls as your old man was back in the day.”
Kain couldn’t help but sigh in his heart. This guy, who happened to be his father in this world, did this self-praising thing literally every freaking day, to a point where it was becoming really annoying. Enough was enough already.
Although, in all honesty he wasn’t a bad person. Just that, the hair style and the scar didn’t impart a favorable first impression, and you know what they say about the importance of such.
He began tickling Kain’s tummy while making those sounds made by dads with newborns. You know, those so-called baby talk, the inane babbling that had not much of significance, other than to rouse a smile out of the child.
Kain reflexively giggled out because of his sensitive spot was under attack. And that made Damien’s face even looser, his lips visibly drooping in a happy trance. Spurred on by his success he kept up the tickling and the baby talk combo.
However, such ways of talking didn’t sit so well with his boss, uh, wife.
“Damien, please talk to Kain properly. We do want our son to learn to speak well, don’t we, love?”
She frowned slightly, and a couple of thin lines creased her otherwise smooth forehead.
Hugging Kain closer, Damien the self proclaimed father-of-the-year-candidate smiled. “It’s alright, babe. It’s only been what, seven, seven and a half month? He’s going to talk sooner rather than later. And when that day comes, we’re going to celebrate like there’s no tomorrow, right Liz?”
It was Kain’s turn to frown, as his cheek got rubbed against the rough and unsophisticated material of Damien’s shirt. Even the cheapest knock off clothes from some run down factory off China’s underbelly were made with better quality materials than this – it was painful just have it come in contact with his delicate skin.
He wanted to cry, knowing that he would have to wear these terrible clothes in the future too. Everything in this world was so backwards, it was way past the point of depressing and into the realm of helpless acceptance.
At first, Kain couldn’t even believe this world, or at least his house, had no toilet. As a modern man, the very idea of using a bucket as a substitute then emptying the smelly contents out by a midden located behind the house’s stable was a horror story coming to life.
Only saving grace for now, was that he didn’t have to worry about the matters of No.1s and 2s as he was still a toddler. The wool towel, serving as a diaper, did its duty rather faithfully.
Liz, the brunette, sighed and patted Kaleena’s head, hugging her closer. “Well, we’ll be on our way, then. But will you be able to behave yourself while we’re out? I don’t want to see Kain picking up any bad habits.”
She threw a pointed question at her husband’s direction.
“That hurts, babe. Your words are sharper than the claws of a Highlands Liger.” Damien made a wounded face. “Place your trust in me. You know everything will be fine.”
“Yes, I do trust you, somewhat,” Liz smiled weakly.
Damien began cooing at Kain, paying a little mind to his wife’s creased brows. She observed her husband for a moment, and gave him a reminder of his duty in a form of a playful slap on his rear end.
“Ouch, what was that for, Missus Lizbeth Ravenswood-Lomax?” Damien breezily smirked as he exaggeratedly rubbed his bum. “What, you want me to start misbehaving in front of the kids?”
Not waiting for a reply, he reached out with his free hand and pulled Liz close, then landed a long, loving kiss. Kain and Kaleena became trapped in between the hugging adults, and while he was gasping for air, the girl simply looked up her parents curiously.
It wasn’t unusual to see them snog but she was wondering what all the fuss was about locking lips. She thought it looked uncomfortable, honestly speaking.
“You’re incorrigible,” Liz smiled unabashedly, and ruffled Damien’s hair after the kiss ended. He chuckled happily, and tried to steal another kiss, but was interrupted by a soft knock, signaling the end of the family hug.
“My lady, the luggage have been loaded successfully on the carriage. We are waiting for you.”
From the entrance of the living room, the voice of a maidservant came. She peeked around the edge and smiled warmly at the scene inside.
Damien sighed. “I’m going to miss you, will you miss me too?”
“Love, we’ll be away for only three days. But yes, we’ll miss you.”
Lizbeth cupped her husband’s cheek and stroked it.
As the hug ended, Kain was finally able to take a deep breath to replenish his lungs.
He wanted to retort, “hey you two, get a damn room,” but then they already did so it was a bit of a moot point to raise. Besides, he and Kaleena was the end results of the room sharing anyway.
Gosh darn it, they looked so good together, he thought he saw rays of shiny, rosy lights coming from the couple, and a garden of pretty flowers blooming all around the two. It was so sugary sweet that watching their happy faces for any longer time might give him diabetes – especially to a guy who had his fair share of girl troubles back when.
So to save himself from getting sick with jealousy, he looked at the maidservant instead. His home had a pair of them, and the older of the two, named Delilah Bleier, was the one who announced the readiness of their means of transport.
There was no other way of saying this, Delilah was a Dwarf. She was around four and a half feet in height, so wasn’t exactly on the short side per se, but then again she said she was one, so that was that.
Somewhat of a stocky build, with a warm and a kind face like an auntie, plus a temperament to match – she was the wise and patient caretaker of the house. She commuted every morning from her home which she shared with a hubby and three adult sons, and performed most of the household chores. She was a seasoned veteran when it came to managing the smooth operation of the house.
Thankfully, she didn’t have a face full of bushy beard. Now that would have been too awkward to ignore.
And the other maidservant, as far as Kain could tell, was outside, doing god knows what.
“The carriage is here already? I wanna see!!”
Kaleena exclaimed and dashed out of Lizbeth’s grasp. She didn’t get too far, before tripping on a corner of the thick brown fur carpet laid out on the floor.
Naturally, she began bawling immediately from the unexpected pain coming from her skinned knee.
Delilah came to console the young girl but all she could do for now was to examine the wound and try to pacify the child.
But, it was Lizbeth’s turn to shine – literally. She hurriedly came to her crying daughter’s side and knelt down. Raising her hand, she spoke in a clear but strong voice.
“Blessings of the gentle morning dew,
Warding off the cold dawn fog,
Lest we surrender through,
Keep turning the fate’s cog;
I Invoke Light Heal,” and so Lizbeth chanted out a spell.
Kain narrowed his eyes as his perceptions caught something strange began to appear in the living room. A thin fog-like substance was converging together with Lizbeth as the center.
No, that wasn’t right – the substance was present in the room all along, it was just that, he’d dismissed it as a simple dust floating in the air, although deep in his heart he knew that explanation was wrong.
And now, that fog of substance moved as if it possessed a will of its own, and oozed around the kneeling Lizbeth. When the chanting ended, the unknown thing changed to a white veil of transparent light and blanketed her.
This light then focused on her hand that gently clasped Kaleena’s bruised knee, repairing the damage almost instantaneously. The light wrapped around the girl from head to toe, and slowly dispersed afterwards as the wound healed.
“It doesn’t hurt any more, mommy.”
Wiping away her tears, little Kaleena reported that it was all good.
That was healing magic at work, and Kain’s eyes nearly popped out of their respective sockets from amazement. That was indeed one helluva effective demonstration, a reminder, of the reality he was in.
Quickly recovering from the shock, he refocused and analyzed what he just witnessed.
He thought that well, he shouldn’t have been so surprised to see magic at work; after all, one of his maidservant was a Dwarf, a fantasy genre staple. It wasn’t too far fetched to imagine the existence of magic and all that supernatural stuff being the norm in this world.
But just what was that fog, though? MP?
Judging by the lack of reactions from the people in the living room, it was safe to concur that it was a well known fact Lizbeth was a wizard, and that magic being performed was not all that uncommon a thing to witness.
What he’s currently curious about, was whether others could see this fog like substance or not. Also, he thought that chanting was kind of on the long-ish side. It was quite cumbersome to recite the spell every time if someone wanted to use a magic spell.
Shouldn’t there be a quicker, more efficient ways of chanting, he wondered.
“There, there. See, it’s all alright now, with mummy’s Invocation skills.” Damien smiled as he stroked Kaleena’s head. “Wasn’t that great? When you grow older, I’m sure you’ll become as good an Invoker as your mother is.”
Invocation? An Invoker? Kain tilted his head. Huh? What’s that all about? I haven’t heard those words before.
“Love, let us postpone such talks until after Kaleena is a little older and gotten her Results back.” Lizbeth cautioned her husband with a small elbow to his side. Turning to face her daughter with a warm expression, she said, “Right, shall we get going? Sweetie, can you stand now?”
She reached her hand out, and the young girl took it, standing up with a bounce. A radiant and innocent smile bloomed on her cute face and she ran outside again full of vigor.
The rest of the family followed suit as well. It was pretty much the first time Kain had left through the front door, so he was sort of excited at the sudden opportunity of seeing the outside world. Previously he was taken to the backyard of the house but then he didn’t get to see much thanks to the tall wooden fences demarcating the perimeters.
As he exited the doorway while being carried in the arms of Damien, he was greeted by the crop fields and distant vineyards, awash with lush green and teeming with life. Only a few droplets of clouds lazed about overhead, and the early morning sun felt particularly pleasant on his skin.
The front yard had two rows of trees lining up the road leading to the front gate, which was a slight surprise for Kain; the place was larger than he expected.
A familiar geezer was working on trimming one of the trees. He placed the cutting tool on the ground and walked over to see Lizbeth off. He was human unlike the other servants, and had a kind of face that had weathered decades of sun with grace.
The Lomax couple and the old gardener exchanged cordial greetings, while Kaleena ran towards the large wooden carriage.
Hurriedly Delilah went after her, to keep the young girl away from the quartet of large and skittish horses. Thankfully, the animals didn’t seem to be too bothered by the presence of a small human kid and carried on whatever they were doing.
Its driver was busy trying to converse with the other, younger maidservant of the house, Rosy Matte. She didn’t seem to be all that interested but the dude was persistently trying his luck.
Rosy, like Delilah, wasn’t exactly human. With looks that might be at home in a Disney family cartoon, Rosy Matte was a humanoid with cat like facial features, a Pantherikin – smooth, reddish fur covering most of her body that was visible outside her clothes, a pair of ears atop her head, and short but prominent whiskers that swayed a bit when she spoke.
She also happened to possess a pair of…. ahem, natural wonders of devastating power on her chest area that made pretty much all the male members of the society get rather distracted.
Even Damien made an occasional faux pas. Kain caught the sights of him plenty enough times taking a quick peek at the jiggly pair.
As a former hot blooded male himself, Kain sympathized with his current father’s…. uh, dilemma. Lizbeth was a beautiful woman, but it seemed no matter what the world’s setting was like, men were genetically programmed to forever be cursed with wandering, lecherous eyes.
However, Kain wasn’t affected for some reason. He wasn’t into furries for one, but when he gave it some thought, it seemed most likely his current body was the cause, as it just wasn’t mature enough to react to the stimulus. Probably a blessing in disguise, that.
However, he did stare shamelessly, no make that dumbfoundedly, at Rosy and Delilah the first time he saw them. Not for any lewd reasons, obviously.
He knew what he did was rude, but hey, he had a convenient excuse all lined up; that one about young kids staring at things that were foreign to them, such as strangers. So he felt he was safe from the PC police.
One thing he noted early on was that, these ladies didn’t wear any maid outfits, instead of opting for more regular dresses that were easy to move around in. And what he meant by the outfits were those frilly, black and lacy French maid “uniforms”. Personally he didn’t see the appeal of such a get-up but he did hear it was a fetish for some. Maybe it wasn’t Damien’s cup of tea. Like father, like son? As if.
Emergence of his passengers meant the driver had to reluctantly abandon his pursuit of the busty maiden. The disappointment was obvious in the young man’s face. Relief was written large on hers.
There were two more people besides the carriage, holding the reins of their own horses and lightly armed with weapons.
Kain recognized both of them too, as they frequented the house, bringing in muddy footprints that caused Delilah endless grief. Mud was from the unpaved road of the front yard so the blame should be assigned to the owner of the house but whatever.
The one with a large bow and a pair of short swords attached to his hips were Terry Bonhams, a Lacertkin possessing striking blue and green scales. He rarely talked, but the impression Kain got from him was that Terry was uncomfortable around kids for some reason. Didn’t feel like pushing it so he let it be. Not like he could outright ask him about it anyway.
The other, super-large guy was Rolf Harris-Shi, a Caniduskin. Outwardly he totally resembled a Werewolf so that gave Kain a huge fright when they met for the first time. Seven feet tall, hulking physique, at least 400 pounds or more and incisors sharp enough to puncture steel. Forgive him for nearly soiling his pants.
Good thing Rolf was a chatty, friendly guy who liked to laugh a lot. The most scary thing about him after getting to know him a bit better was his bushy tail, which swung around in a lethal velocity when he was really chuffed or excited about something.
“Everything’s ready, my lady,” Rolf gave a thumbs-up sign. “We can depart any time you wish.”
Rolf and Terry’s job was to escort Lizbeth, Delilah and Kaleena during the journey to the nearby town of Lafayette, which was just over half a day’s travel away. The road was quite safe but it paid to be cautious so Damien had attached a pair of very skilled village militiamen to the carriage.
As the luggage was already finished loading under Delilah’s supervision, that left Lizbeth to say the goodbyes and kiss her hubby one more time, before boarding the simple yet sturdy looking carriage.
Kaleena seemed to be very much excited at the prospect of visiting a big city for the first time so she was bouncing around, full of energy. Kain felt pity for the adults who were going to chaperon her. He could see that it was going to be handful.
He hoped that there weren’t any flags being raised here though, what with his sister and mother going off on a seemingly safe trip. Usually, tragedy that defines someone was supposed to happen on occasions like this.
He wasn’t callous enough to wish for one. If anything, he wanted them to have a safe trip and enjoy themselves.
Surely nothing bad was going to happen.
Synopsis: Somewhere in the universe, there was an altar. On it, laid a bloody eye as big as the sun itself. It burst with light and bathed the entire star system in red.
"The aura of an ancestral artifact!" Someone's voice rose in surprise.
The Great Galactic Era had begun.