Vol 2. Chapter 40: Subduing
As soon as I heard her invitation, I froze.
Who could blame this aunt?
When I was still on Earth, I rarely got invited to any of my friends' homes since most of their kids disliked my existence. It happened after I crushed a so-called magician and his tricks during a birthday party, exposing his fakeness before the kids like it was my job.
Since then, the little munchkins only remembered me during the Christmas season - those two-faced brats.
"I'm sorry for my presumptuousness my lady," Emma said, perhaps feeling that I was having some second thoughts. "I-It's okay if you don't want to."
“No, no, of course, I'll take the offer. It will be my pleasure." I waved, clearing any misunderstanding. If it meant more time to cuddle kitties, why not? It's not like I have any place to pass the night aside from these evergreen meadows."Don't worry I just remembered something from my old days."
"Old days?" Emma asked, squinting. "Pardon me my lady, but you look nothing but young."
What a sharp kitty! I had to be careful with my words lest curiosity kills the cat. Pfft. Pun intended. I chortled after a bad try of a good ol' dad joke. Wait, is it an auntie joke for me? “It's nothing. Oh, drop that ‘my lady’ thing, just call me Victoria. Don't worry about it. Anyway, can you please lead the way?"
Emma nodded, gesturing that I follow her.
I slowly stood, lifting the two purring kittens along. "Stand up, little ones. You're Gran-Gran had invited me."
“Call me Coby! And I’m not little!” The lad puffed up his chest, tiptoeing to add a few inches into his height. “See?”
I hid a smirk. He knows how to make a point. He’ll have a wonderful future. “Sure, sure, you’re already a little big man, Coby.”
Then, I heard a whisper coming from the scarlet kitten. “Tabi.”
“Hmnn?” I turned, watching the jittery scarlet one. How could this little Tsun-Tsun be so cute! Ah, I could feel my heart, melting. She was waiting for my reply, her eyes growing into a shiny ball. “Alright, I’ll call you Tabi.”
The scarlet kitten turned around after hearing my answer. I saw a fleeting smile drifting as she ran towards the old catkin. “Gran-Gran, I’ll call the animals now?”
“Go Tabi,” said Emma, her gaze softening as she ruffled the little scarlet catkin’s frizzles. “Bring Coby and follow us.”
Soon, the scarlet and golden catkins skittered, herding the grazing animals, smacking a few hard-headed ones who were rushing to fill themselves to death. After that, they followed the old catkin and me, curiously trailing behind. The little ones started asking a lot of questions, throwing a barrage of queries. It started easy such as my name. What was I doing in that place? That was until they started pestering me if I already had a husband. That innocent question felt like a blow, making my blooming beam twitch.
Ehem, you don’t ask spinsters those trauma-inducing questions.
How ruthless, as expected of kids... After that low blow, I double-take, refusing to entertain other questions with conviction. The little ones only stopped after the old catkin hissed. Oww, those droopy ears made my heart skip, curing my pains as soon as they appeared.
I continued to trek the hilly green meadows along with the kitty family. Aside from marveling about the catkin’s existence, I also looked around to feed my curiosity.
The giant ball of fire slowly receded, dyeing the sky salmon-colored. Its flickering rays painted the green meadows, chocolate-colored. My eyes almost popped out as I stare at its incredulity. I had been in the Chocolate Hills of the Philippines but this was another kind of beast. The mixture of orange and chocolate intertwined as the twilight came forth with its serene glory.
What a weird sight.
I shut my eyes, hypnotizing myself that maybe getting teleported somewhere was not a bad thing after all. Yet, another rare picturesque sight dawned my eyesight. This one struck me harder than I could have imagined… to the point of losing control.
Emma strode ahead while the little catkins trailed behind us along with the animals. The old catkin’s tail swung from left to right, making me bobbed towards the two directions. Up and down, and my eyes followed. It was a tease. Tantalizing. Beguiling. Swinging along with the brushing wind, its seductive nature crumbled all of my carefully crafted reasons about why I shouldn’t do the inevitable.
This evil thing! I didn’t even notice when my feet suddenly hurried, my left arm arched to subdue the seductress, reaching ahead in wild abandon.
I grabbed the great mystery. The scarlet tail stiffened, puffing up against all the odds. It fought back against the finagling hands. A short round of tugging and it lost its strength. If it was someone else, it might have a chance of escape. But it met its archenemy, all was futile before my subduing arts. My gentle caress smothered the wallowing tail from the tip of the hind, making the old catkin go ‘nya-nya’ for a few rounds.
Emma’s legs buckled as I bit her tail. Don’t blame this curious aunt again. I just wanted to experience the rawness of the tail with all of my senses. I saw and touch. Sniffed and licked. Then, I heard her fall. I gazed straight ahead victorious while the two little kittens gawked, their mouth hanging wide open.
The old catkin slowly turned and gandered. Her pupils turning into slits as if it was looking at an insect. Sanity had left her. I ignored that condescending gaze. I refocused and saw her two ears, warily pointing upwards. Argh, my left hands! D-Don’t. Don’t!
Suddenly, the old catkin flushed crimson. Her eyes turned bloodshot. A streak rogue-hued aura rose from her. Eh, did I go too far? Her lips opened, snarling as she showed those sharp pearly whites. Eh, I’m sure that it wasn’t out of shame but... anger. Eh, anger?
I shook after the brief sanity check. I immediately reclaimed my sense of reason, giving up my brief chance of vanity.
What have I done! I turned ashen-white after I realizing that I had instinctively lost my self-awareness. I scratched my cheeks while slowly releasing the seized shaggy tail from my dastardly grasp. I watched Emma’s gentle disposition fading as the aura of lady vengeance engulfed her whole. Truthfully. I do not know what to do. Thickening my face, I let out the sincerest ‘sorry-face’ I could show, but what came out was something different, it was a sweet and innocent smile, “I’m sorry?”
Not that she accepted that guilt-ridden plea. After all, she saw the not-so-guilty grin that I couldn’t just simply erase with mere thoughts. This aunt had dipped her heel into the sticky pool of euphoria. It seemed like I still need time to recover.
As soon as I blinked, a paw flew, swiping with a few sharp claws in tow. Of course, with the help of the two blobs, I doggedly dodge. Like a furious cat, she lunged, aiming to decapitate me. I gazed at her shifty eyes, watching bloodlust slithering within those listless pupils. And I knew I fuck up.
Not waiting for me to recover, Emma nimbly rushed, swifter than before, her cat claws aiming to puncture my chest. Luckily, the two blobs were alert unlike me, pulling me away from the old catkin. The keen claws still reached me, ripping a thin strip of flesh in my arms. A thin trail of crimson dripped, forcing me to gulp cold air. A blunder.
My teeth chattered, falling butt-first as I watched blood trickled from my arms. I had flipped the wrong switch by taking everything ever-so-lightly. Saria’s protection had dulled my sense of caution.
“Gran-Gran!” The two little kittens rushed forth whilst trembling to block the snarling old catkin. They continued to call Emma back, shouting at the top of their lungs, tears building up in their eyes. It scared them. At that moment, I felt like I had escaped death. I gazed at my shaking hands. The two blobs asked me if they could blow up Emma with the remaining mana they siphoned from me.
I disagreed. It was my fault this time.
Emma stared at the kitten for a few seconds as if she was wondering if she knew them. A tint of reason crept back to her. She held her head, shaking it again and again. The blood-colored aura slowly receding while her lips paled.
Soon enough, she recovered, flapping back to the ground, weakened. She lifted her head, staring at my bleeding arms, offering me a wry smile, bowing. “My fault. I’m sorry Lady Victoria. It’s been a long time since I lose control like this. I’m sorry.”
Then, she uttered something incomprehensible, “Thank you for showing mercy.”
Mercy? A thought drifted in my mind. It was from the one with the title - ‘Tumultuous’. She had sent a bunch of chaotic feelings straight to my heart. There was anger, fear, shock, and hate. Her emotions were bursting forth, telling me that would have blasted the older catkin to death if the little catkins had not stopped Emma from rushing. I terrified the little blob after I had a near brush with death.
I remembered that the little green blob was still a kid. But I had never thought that her mind was like that of a toddler. Her emotions were in a wreck. She was crying as she tried to explain her side. That she didn’t mean it. I consoled little Maggie telling her it was my fault, calming her along the way.
I realized that I really didn’t know the two green wind spirits yet. Everything I knew about them was nothing but superficial, merely skin deep. As for Alistair, he was nagging, furious because of my lacking sense of danger.
The kittens and the old catkin might have sensed the threat of danger. The kittens weren’t protecting me. They were trying to protect Emma from little Maggie and Alistair. I took a deep breath, relaxing my tout nerves. I still don’t know what turned Emma to act like that but I related it to her tail.
It was taboo from now on.
I slowly stood up, my legs still a bit wobbly. Weirdly, the cat-scratched wound had stopped bleeding. No, it was healing. I ignored it, calling myself lucky.
Turning at the catkins, I lowered my head. I’m feeling terrible about what I did. “It was my fault. I was careless. I’ll part with you here.”
The three catkins stared stupefied. My actions had left them dumbfounded. Perhaps, they were expecting me to start an attack because of the two blobs threat earlier. Emma shook her head. “No, no. I’m fine.”
She stared at the two kittens nestling in her embrace, smiling as she pinched their faces. “It’s thanks to these two.”
I nodded. I thought about how I could compensate the old catkin. I’m feeling awful for them. The sniffing kittens crushed my heart. Kittens should never cry. Maybe, I could help them with something. “All right, I have nothing in me but I can help you if you have any problem in the future. I’ll do my best to fill two of your request to compensate. My actions were not quite satisfactory.”
Emma’s eyes widened at my offer. With any second thoughts, she nodded. “Okay. That’s two alright.”
Eh? Why do I feel like she had tricked me? I don’t what she was planning but, oh well, as long as it’s not excessive, I’ll do my best to do it.
Emma slowly stood back, ushering the scared little kittens into their feet. The lad and the little girl clasped the hems of Emma’s skirt, refusing to let go. She ruffled their hair, brushing the threads. “It’s okay now. Don’t worry.”
Emma turned, staring at me. “For my first request, I can use it now right?”
Emma chortled before gesturing towards me to follow her. “Shall we go ahead now? The rat stew is waiting for you. You’ll love it, Lady Victoria.”
“Rat?” I asked.
The old catkin nodded.
The tips of the kitten’s ears stood up.
But why do I sensed a bit of malice in old catkin’s smile?