Chapter 39: Catkins
The inborn feistiness of the little scarlet kitten crumbled. Falling prey under my terrifying techniques, she purred, again and again, lost in her own world. A fleeting dreamy smile skittered around her lips. With every light brush, she would squint in pleasure.
She had fallen.
Even after getting transmigrated into a magical world, my cat-taming skills and my smothering love for cats hadn’t left me one bit. Instead, after seeing a catkin in flesh, it awakened anew, bursting forth with greater enthusiasm.
The feeling of novelty as I snuggled the lassie made me shed warm tears, trickling not because of sadness, but because of bubbling happiness. I never thought that this unrealistic fantasy of mine would suddenly come true. If only my smartphone existed in this plane, I would rush to post a picture to that cat-lover chat group, letting everyone on that group die in envy.
All I had experienced ever since I arrived in this world started flashing before my eyes. The darn memories filled my thoughts. Come to think of it. Ever since I arrived, I had never gotten a real wholesome rest. The first time I woke up was in a moist jail. For what happened next, it just turned bat-shit crazy. The stake. The dead forest. The treant. The kingdom’s political strife. A year of magic studies forced me to burn the midnight oil, pushing me to cram words and theories into my head. Though I enjoyed it, the stress was still there since I was learning it as a matter of survival. And even though it doesn’t make much sense to me, I still tried memorizing the relevant parts of what I had read.
And if all those difficulties were for this day, I had nothing to say but… it's worth it. I stared at the blue skies before gazing back at the purring lass and smiled, nodding. “Worth it.”
The lassie laid happily on my lap, ignoring everything. A chuckle slipped as I stared at her silliness. I lightly cuddled her ears, brushing her long but messy crimson-hued hair. Aside from her tail, ears, hair, and eyes; her physical traits were almost the same as a normal human would look like. As for her personality, she somehow looked like a naughty house cat who loved playing in muddy places. That's the feeling that I get from the young kitten.
She was like the cat that our family had adopted decades ago. Feisty and spirited. I loved her. We called her ‘Herbal’ since she liked to rub herself on my mom’s lemongrass and other nice smelling garden herbs. To cut this old story short, ‘Herbal’ vanished without even leaving a paw print after I entered high school. Truthfully, that was one hell of a nightmare. Something I never wished to experience again. That's the reason I decided not to take any cats despite my love for them, filling my empty heart with my neighbor’s cats instead. But oh well, let’s leave those sad memories behind. After all, I could now cuddle a genuine catkin - the dream of all cat lovers.
A light breeze blew as if it was telling me something. I lolled my head towards the direction the thoughts of the two green wind spirits steered me. I’m picking up how the two green blobs communicate. It's more like letting me feel their emotions. Will they ever learn to talk in the future?
Soon enough, I saw the lad called Coby trailing behind an old catkin. The newcomer sped up after seeing the lassie on my lap. Little scarlet catkin’s ears rose, catching a whiff of the familiar steps. She was indeed kin of the scarlet kitten.
Crimson-colored strips over her head were almost the same as the little kitten aside from its white streaks. It was their granny based on what I’ve heard. The old catkin huffed as she rushed towards our direction. I sensed her agitation passing through the wind.
I patiently waited for their arrival, thinking of how I should explain myself. Soon enough, the elder catkin and the little one finally arrived.
The elder catkin seemed to be a little shocked and confused. She saw Tabi laying on the ground with a blissful expression and was at a loss for words. There were no wounds or anything. She was safe.
She turned at the lad, thinking whether it was only a prank. The golden lad shook his head and stood his ground.
I could sense where this was going. Bring the questions in!
"May I ask who you are? The elder catkin warily probed. There was doubt in her voice as she glared at the two little kittens from time to time."A-are you a witch?"
"I'm Victoria," I said. Not that much but I'm currently liking the sound of my name. I didn't tell my complete name for.. you know. It's famous, I mean, infamous in Endramion. Anyway, I doubt any witch would just tell answer that question with a yes.
However, I must at least reject my initial acceptance that I am a witch. Kids just can't take jokes nor satire. So gullible. I let out a long-suffering sigh and replied, "Not a witch but a Magus."
"But you said that you were a witch!" The little kid jumped in the conversation, pointing a finger as he hid behind the old catkin. He then gestured wildly with his hands. "She made the wind spin like this!"
The old lady immediately slapped the head of the boy, warning him with her eyes. She raised an eyebrow at the little golden kitten and said, "Shut up!"
"Owe." The lad grimaced, rubbing his new painful lump. I waved at him again but this time, the boy hid behind her granny, staring from the hems like I was his mortal enemy.
"I'm sorry Lady Victoria for the brat," said the elder catkin. Her tone was a bit too formal, enough to make me feel giddy. "Please call me Emma. Please don't take offense, lady…"
The old catkin carefully eyed me and asked, "... but what's a Magus?"
Staring at her two eyes, I knew she was not lying. Now, this would be quite a problem. Unfortunately, she also did not know about the existence of the beings called magus. Saria told me that all people of Endramion knew what a magus was. Too bad, it seemed like she’s wrong in this one.
I rallied the help of the two unseen wind spirits roaming around me. A repeat of what I showed to the young catkins. The wind swirled, crafting a little tornado in my palms. I turned at her and said, "A Magus can do this."
I chortled at the gawking elder. I threw the small tornado this time into the empty meadows. But before it reached the ground, I sensed the two little green blobs telling me to be careful. The duo caught the miniature tornado, guiding it a little farther away. What's wrong with throwing a little spinning cutie? No need to be so careful. Then…
Boom! A giant tornado rose forth from the direction where the two blobs lifted 'little twirly', ripping a piece of grassland into oblivion. After a few seconds, the blast receded, the flow of the wind returning to its original route. ‘Little twirly’ crafted a bare patch of brown land. In the middle of the glowing green grasses, a striking bald spot appeared. The nightmare of aging men.
"A-A Witch!" The old catkin shuddered, her eyes turning saucers because of what I showed her. She stepped backward, almost stumbling before recovering her balance with no difficulty. She's a cat alright.
"I-Interesting," I said, gazing at the ground zero, my brows twitching along with the sides of my lips. Honestly, the wind TNT had shaken me to the core. I’m going to interrogate that two green wind spirits later for sure. What the hell was happening!? "C-calm down. I'm sure that I am not a witch."
It somehow hurts when someone tries to call me a witch. Maybe, it was the trauma of the original owner of this body. The real Victoria. Well, I better get over it fast. I should just ask them what's a witch, anyway. And why they're always reacting like that. Some difference in language perhaps? Despite my [Language of Another World] cheat, I experienced a few instances regarding the use of metaphors. Wait, maybe the witch they're speaking about were those... witches on earth.
I lifted a finger on my chin, squinting as I fell in deep thought. I needed to confirm some things. "Perhaps, it's now my turn to ask a question."
The old catkin called Emma used her body to cover the little lad behind her, hiding the lad from my sight. Her caution just went into the roof. Did she just register my words as a threat?
I stared at the old catkin and said, "What's a witch?"
She appeared confused for a moment. But when she was about to open her mouth, the little lassie who was enjoying my lap pillow suddenly opened her eyes and said, "She's not a witch."
Oh, you get a plus point for me. I rubbed her hair and ears making her go 'nya-nya'. After the brief episode, she pushed my hands away, sitting on the green grass with a flushing face before casting a look at her granny. "She doesn't smell like an undead. I have sensed no piece of malice on the lady. Her magic also doesn't stink nor feels like a dark spell, it's not an illusion or dark spell, Gran-Gran."
I smiled at the little kitten. She was getting lovelier the more I looked at her. The lass was even defending me from libelous claims. You’ll make a brilliant lawyer you feisty kitten! If was still on earth, I’ll hire you for personal use for sure.
Then, she lifted a shy gaze at me. "It's more like... the spirits."
My eyes and the old catkin's grew three sizes after hearing those words. Oh, her guess was correct. Is this the mythic kitty sixth-sense?
As for Emma, she stood dumbfounded for a few seconds. Then, she shook her head, staring at the scarlet kitten. "T-Tabi is that true?"
"Yes, Gran-Gran," replied the little girl. The little scarlet catkin moved nearer towards me and sniffed. Okay, that's cute. I almost lost myself, stopping myself from pinching her nose. She turned towards Emma and nodded. "Confirmed, Gran-Gran."
After hearing that reply, the old catkin rushed towards me and sniffed. Her eyes turned listless before bursting forth with joy. "I-It's true, a miracle! A miracle!"
What’s wrong with them?
Even the little lad took his turn to take a sniff at me. In shock, my hands involuntarily move and did the inevitable. I ruffled his cat-ears and… he fell on my lap, dead. Well, not really. Just like Tabi the scarlet kitten, the lad bore no defense against my ultimate kitty technique. Oh, if I use this to the old catkin, I wonder…
But before I could do anything, my malice, I mean my passionate love alerted the old catkin. She jumped away, gazing at me in trepidation. Oh, what a cautious kitty. Damn, I will grab it faster next time.
"Care to tell me what's a witch, anyway?" I showed her a blinding beam and asked.
The old catkin glanced at me, her eyes asking if I really don't know. I rolled my eyes and gave her a nod. Will I even ask if I know the answer?
"Alright, please let me explain Lady Victoria," replied the old catkin. "Witches are evil existences. Magical beings who hunt people of all races as food by extracting their soul. Witches are also known and feared as soul eaters - masters of crafting illusions, dark magic, and lies…"
".... And they're ugly." She stared and shook her head. “But they love to use their illusion to trap and beguile the innocent.”
"Not me," I swung the beautiful black threads above my head, proving my point.
Hey, why are you looking at me like that? Witch? Pui! Not me. I'm not ugly at all. I lifted the rims of my glasses and sighed in relief. Anyway, that description of witches was incredibly accurate if compared with those old tales from Earth. Mages, treants, dragons, catkins, and undead. The fictional creatures that I once thought of as madness was starting to appear before my eyes, one by one.
The old catkin ignored me and fell in deep thought. I gave her the time to think. Of course, I also took my time with the fallen kitties, spoiling them rotten.
I continued playing with the two little catkins, helping them reach nirvana through my skills.
Soon enough, I again heard the voice of the old catkin. She watched the two little kittens rolling on my hands. I lifted my eyes and saw a glint of envy appearing in her eyes. But she could hide it as soon as it appeared. Tsk, as expected from an experienced catkin. I wonder what will happen if I appraise this kitty once I fully recover. That’ll be very interesting.
Soon enough, Emma stared and asked, "Would you like to take a rest in our house?"