It took a couple of very boring days of intense meditation, but I finally got it! Mom was a bit worried that I was focusing so hard on this, but it’s not like I had anything better to do, really. Unfortunately, it seemed that my parents noticed too.
As I ran up to Mom, wanting to show off the tiny flame in my palm, give me that sweet dopamine hit from being praised, she knelt down to my height.
“Tiye, sweetie, it’s good that you’re passionate about learning magic and helping out at home, but don’t you think you should try to play with some of the other kids? Make some friends, perhaps?”
But I didn’t have any friends in my previous life and I was… Doing… Fine…
Maybe she’s got a point. Wouldn’t want to end up a social recluse a second time… But talking to people is so hard, and so bothersome! Besides, my mental capacity is way above those my age. What do normal three year olds even do? I can make friends when I can hang out with the cool older kids. Plan? Plan. Now to turn my charms on!
“Nuh-uh, Idunwanna,” I said as I shook my head and put on my best pout. “Mama is already my best friend, why do I need another?”
Mom reached out to pat me on the head. Nonono that’s my weak spoOOoot! I initially tried to pull away, but all resistance was lost as her hand made contact. Instinctively, I leaned more into her hand and began purring. Please keep going!
“Sweetie, I’m glad to hear that you think so highly of me, but you father and I can’t be the only people in your life forever, you’ll eventually need to meet new people. Playing with the other children is a good start.”
Dammit, stop making so much sense while my mental defenses are down!
My mouth betrayed me as I heard myself say; “Yes Mama.”
~ ~ ~ ~
The next day, Mom dragged me over to a friend’s house. Yes, dragged. I tried resisting at first but it was no use, so in the end she dragged me all the way by my hand. The house itself looked very similar to ours from the outside, if maybe slightly smaller but newer? Mom knocked on the door and we were greeted by a Baast woman I recognized, her name was Nau, I think? She had long blue hair, ears and tail, and the signature slitted yellow eyes of our species. Either she’d put on weight since last I saw her, or she was pregnant. Hiding behind her, was a girl, age five or six, think. I would’ve Appraised her, but Dad’s words were fresh in my mind, so I stopped myself. She had short reddish-orange hair, and a matching set of ears on top, with black tips. She had orange eyes, and a bushy white tipped tail swaying nervously behind her.
“Chione, Tiye, welcome! Please, come on inside.” Nau motioned for us to come in. “To what do we owe the pleasure of you dropping by?”
“Well you see, I was thinking it was time for Tiye to make some friends, but she’s too shy to take the initiative herself, so I thought she’d be able to hit it off with Akemi while we catch up.”
Nau clapped her hands together and looked down towards the girl. “Oh that sounds wonderful. Did you hear that Akemi? Tiye here wants to be your friend.”
Really twisting Mom’s words a bit there, ma’am.
The fox girl, Akemi I presume, didn’t seem too pleased with this arrangement either, as she kept hiding behind her mother.
“Maybe it would help if you introduced yourself, sweetie?” Mom gently squeezed my hand she was holding.
But we already heard each other’s names, what’s the point of that?
We stood in silence for a few moments. Realizing we weren’t getting anywhere, I decided to comply with Mom’s request.
“Hi, I’m Tiye. What’s your name?” I asked the fox girl, trying to put on my best smile.
“Akemi,” she answered curtly.
Well, this is going to go swimmingly…
~ ~ ~ ~
The two women had stepped outside, leaving the two of us inside by ourselves. We were sitting in silence, and Akemi looked like she was silently judging me.
After a few minutes it seemed like she’d reached her limit as she suddenly burst out. “It’s not fair! I don’t want to babysit this girl! I wanna train!”
Wow, rude much? “My name’s Tiye, you know, and what’s this about training?”
“Oh, well, you’re too small to understand,” said with a huff and crossed her arms and looked away.
Bitch, I’m mentally older than you! “Well, I’m pretty smart for my age, you know. Maybe you’re just too small to know how to explain yourself?”
Seemed like she didn’t know how to respond to that, as she was silent for a moment.
“Well, I uh, I’m practising Sword Technique. I wanna show Dad how good I am when he comes back home!”
Oho, a daddy’s girl eh? Asking about him should hopefully get her to open up. “What’s your dad like?”
It seemed like I had guessed correctly. Her expression immediately softened and her eyes almost began sparkling. “Dad is like, the coolest ever! He’s an adventurer so he’s often away from home but when he comes back he always brings back some cool stuff and tales of his heroic deeds. When I grow up I wanna be just like him, what Mom calls a ‘dashing rogue’ whatever that means, but it sounds cool!”
“Ooo, an adventurer. How does being an adventurer work?”
“He has a boss called a ‘party leader’ who takes on jobs for his party. He then sends a message to my dad who then meets up with his boss in the city. I wish there was a longer notice, he usually leaves on the day he gets said message.” She sulked a bit at the last part.
“So what does he usually do on his adventures?”
Akemi perked up a bit again at the chance to tell about her father’s exploits. “Oh, he does all sorts of cool things, like fighting monsters, finding hidden treasures, fighting bad guys, rescuing people in need, fighting demons, delving into dungeons and, um, fighting monsters!”
That’s a lot of fighting, but I guess that’s to be expected of the adventurer lifestyle.
“He once took down a manticore by himself! Oh a manticore is a monster with the body of a lion, the wings of a bat and the tail of a scorpion, and they’re super dangerous”
Hmm, manticores are usually high tier monsters in fantasy settings. Either her father is seriously strong or he’s embellished his stories a bit. Not that it’s any of my business if he did…
Akemi continued gushing about her father’s deeds for a while. While I took the tales with a grain of salt, they were pretty informative about the state of the world.
We lived in a nation called The Holy Empire of Liis, which was in a decades long state of conflict with the Demon Lord. This meant that soldiers were needed on the front lines and adventurers were needed to take care of internal issues. Even then, adventurers were sometimes hired on as mercenaries for the front lines. In fact, Akemi’s father was currently on a mission to do, and I quote her words, ‘reconananse for the army’.
Unfortunately, beastmen were often looked down upon by the human, elven and dwarven majority of the Empire, as many, in Akemi’s words, ‘bad and meanie’ beastmen had sided with the Demon Lord. Due to frequent discrimination, beastmen were a minority in larger cities, while they made up a large portion of the rural populace.
Although the Holy Church of Liis advocated for the acceptance of ‘innocent’ beastmen, their words seemed to fall on deaf ears.
There were also mystical structures known as dungeons scattered throughout the world. They were very popular with adventurers as they contained endless amounts of monsters and replenishing treasures, and one could leave a dungeon at any time with a mental command. There was one caveat though, dungeons seemed to have some sort of memory, making them not produce any treasures for those who have already explored them.
Eventually her retelling of her father’s tales were cut off by the two grown ups coming back inside. It was time to head home.
“You two seemed to be getting along well,” said Mom with a smile as we were heading home. “Making a friend wasn’t so bad after all, was it?”
Over the following days, Mom tried introducing me to the children of some of her other friends, but I didn’t really click with any of them. Honestly, I was kinda looking forward to hearing more about the world from Akemi and her father’s travel stories.