Chapter 14

Chapter 14

A Chapter by Iron K. Tager

The fourteenth chapter.


The wooden door creaked as it is opened a bright antique shop to the cool breeze and the sound of rain beginning to fall from the outside.  It had just started, but already the sky was very dark, and the packed dirt was slowly turning into thick mud.  Jeremy stepped up into the shop and closed the door behind him, minding to wipe his shoes off even though he took care not to step in any.  Looking around, he noticed that the shop was closed, seeing how there was no one to meet him; however, something looked out of place.  He walked around the center display and noticed a piece of black cloth was coming out from a small nook between a large pot and a bookshelf next to the hallway.

Jeremy walked up to it and looked over the pot to see the top of a short, blonde-haired girl squeezed into the small space.  She looked up at him and giggled:  “You found me!”  Alice jumped up from her hiding place and looked at him.  “Welcome home!” she chimed, smiling at him.

“Thanks,” Jeremy responded.  “Where is everyone?”

“Don’t know,” she said, looking at her feet as she stepped out from her hiding spot as to not trip.  Suddenly footsteps could be heard upstairs. 

“Ohh! That might be someone,” she pointed out.  “Let’s go see them!”  She skipped to the hallway, and Jeremy followed her.

Lance came down the stairway and turned into the hall to see Jeremy coming around the corner.  “Jeremy!” he called out as if they were fields apart.  He quickly took Jeremy’s shoulders in either of his hands and quickly gave him a hug.  “After this morning, and what was happening to Soro, and everything, I thought you might be hurt.”  He obsessed.

“Oh! Yeah, thanks, thanks,” Jeremy smiled oddly as he tried to not get crushed by Lance’s huge arms.  After freeing himself from Lance’s clutches, he told him the news:  “Soro was a little hurt, but he seems to be fine enough.”

“Yeah, that old man can take quite a beating, can’t he? Nothing less from the shrine priest,” Lance smiled.  “I’m glad to hear everyone’s ok.  From what I heard, Sano was the attacker, and she’s pretty dangerous from what I’ve gotten.”  His smile got a little uneasy.

“Sure, everyone is ok.  In fact, Soro is so ‘ok’ that he told me we are going on some sort of adventure soon.”  Jeremy shrugged off the thoughts in his head for a while.  “Apparently I’m going to a training camp or something starting tomorrow to prepare me.”

Lance laughed.  “Despite his age, he really does act like a youth, but I’m sure the adventure thing will blow over.”  After a pause, his face expressed surprise as he seemed to remember something.  “Oh, what are we doing standing in the hallway?  Please, sit down in your room; I’ll be there in a minute with some tea.”

Lance spun around and immediately turned to his left into the kitchen.  Jeremy looked to his left, where Alice has been standing.  “Let’s go sit down,” he invited her.

“Yep!” Alice circled around him and into the room, and Jeremy followed her.  He then stopped for a second and turned around to look at Lance.

“Do you need any help?” he asked.

“No, but thank you,” Lance replied.

Jeremy knew that a small thing like this could not make up for the inconveniences he had caused, but it was a step in the right direction. 

Ya old, crazy fool,” Ruoiu jeered tiredly at Soro as she stood on the shrine’s veranda next to him.  “Someday your hip’s gonna to give and I’ll have to lug you around everywhere.”

Soro, who was sitting cross-legged with his back against a support beam to the shrine and to the right of Ruoiu, just shook his head and chuckles.  “What do you think all of my training of you is for?”  He looked up at her, “Actually, I am planning on sending the three of you: to the spring for some training.  Maybe... a week?”

“Us three?” Ruoiu asked suspiciously.

“That’s right; you, Mia, and Jay,” Soro elaborated.

“Whoa whoa, old man, are you senile?  You’re gonna to send two girls and one guy to a single-room shack in the middle of the woods?  You’re joking, right?”  She raised an eyebrow and shook her head at the concept.

“What’s the matter?  Are you embarrassed?”  Soro teased her, chuckling a little.  Then he turned his head away and recited his words with a romantic air.  “He’s your age, isn’t he?  It would be a beautiful bonding experience.”  Soro tried his best not to bust out laughing.

After a slight jolt of electricity hit Soro, Ruoiu commented back.  “Not interested.  And you should stop that before you meet someone who doesn’t appreciate your humor.”

“Eh hehe.  By such a violent response, I can see how close to the mark I must have gotten.”  He raised an eyebrow with a suspicious grin on his face, looking over at Ruoiu.  “And by that do you mean you appreciate my humor?”  Soro decided to keep it going.  “Maybe you noticed how handsome he looks, or maybe that dreamy way of how he’s always looking off into the distance?”       He flinched as Ruu held her hand up, about to snap.  She stopped herself and huffed out a laugh. 

“It’s not worth it.  You know if he tries anything, I’ll fry him.”  She smiled deviously, still holding her snap.

Soro relaxed.  “I doubt he would.”  He looked off.  “Anyway, in all seriousness, just make him sleep somewhere safe outside.  If there is nowhere safe, make it safe.  It’ll be good for him, and I don’t want anything bad to happen to him; by you, or by anyone else.”

“Yeah yeah,” she responded, waving her hand after releasing the snap dully.  “I guess I’ll just have to baby-sit ‘em again.”

“No one’s asking you to baby-sit ‘em,” Soro explained trying to sound sincere, “Just keep your eyes on him, ok?  He’s got places to be, and he doesn’t know it yet.”  After a pause, he added:  “He doesn’t know a lot of things, and it would be best if he didn’t, if you know what I mean.”

“What?  Does he not get the news?” she asked again.  “Or do we just not want to scare the new guy away?”

“Something like that,” Soro responded.  “Just make sure he doesn’t get himself into any trouble.”  He chuckled.

“Sure,” she said, shrugging.  “But don’t blame me if anything bad happens.”

“You know I’m going to blame you.”  Soro looked at her blankly.

Soro and Ruoiu looked off towards the stone stairway leading to the village, through the rain, which was falling a little more intensely.  Soro broke the short silence by asking:  “What do you think of him?”

Ruoiu opened her mouth and looked down at him to make a comeback, expecting him to be teasing, but noticed that he was being serious.  “He’s ok, I guess.  Just a little… weird.  New, or something.”  She shrugged.  “He just needs to become a better challenge.”

“Do you like him?” Soro asked.

“He’s nothing great, nothing horrible, no idea what you’re thinking.”  She looked down at him, and then continued.  “I’ll admit he’s kinda nice.  If he’s really as great as you all say, then he can’t be all that bad.” 

Lance and Jeremy sat across from each-other on the short, black stools, with a table of the same wood as the stools between them with a tea set placed on it.  Alice was sitting on the bed to Jeremy’s right. 

Lance looked at Jeremy, then sighed and spoke after putting down his cup.  “I would like to apologize once more for Lucia’s sake.”  He spoke seriously, and his face reflected the same.  “She really is so young, she doesn’t know what she’s doing.  She’s really a nice little girl, and I’m sure you two will make good friends, just give her time.”

They sat still in silence, waiting for something else to come up.  Jeremy hesitantly spoke up.  “Umm,” he started, but paused for a moment.  “Sorry if this sounds weird, but… Lucia doesn’t really look like… you know… your daughter.”

Lance smiled a little, but it did not last long.  “Yeah, I guess it’s obvious.”  He poured himself more tea, but left the cup on the table.  “When she was about three, Lucia’s father went to Laurena to conduct some medical research.  He put her in my care while he was gone, since I was already named as her godfather.  He left, and no one has ever heard from him since then.”  Lance looked off at a random spot on the wall behind Jeremy.

“What about her mother?”  Jeremy asked.

“She died a year before her husband left,” Lance said quickly.

Jeremy noticed that Lance had a saddened look on his face, so he decided to change the subject.  “What is Laurena?” he asked, again hesitantly.  “I think I’ve heard the name before.”

“Me too!  What is it?” Alice seemed to thrust her statement in the middle of the conversation, and it would have forced all attention on her.  Jeremy looked over at her, but quickly back to Lance.

Lance looked at Jeremy.  “It’s another land on the other side of some ocean, pretty far from here.  Some people say it’s another world entirely, though I’m skeptical of it since I’ve never seen any ocean around here.  The place itself seems like a legend.”

“So this place has a lot of medical knowledge?” Jeremy asked, trying to keep it going.

“Yes, I guess.  Though I’m not sure what medicinal knowledge they have over there that isn’t already here in books, and I have read quite a bit.”  Lance picked up his cup of tea and took a sip from it.  “It’s pretty different, and they have very interesting clothing over there from what I’m told.”

“How do you not know for sure?” Jeremy asked.

“The thing is that no one has ever really been there and back as far as anyone can remember,” Lance explained.  “The only things we have received from there are a few pieces of clothing and tools a few people brought back, and even then the clothing doesn’t seem too different than what we have.  Nothing special.”

“Speaking of clothing,” Jeremy said after a short pause, “thank you again for the robe.  Though it is a little different than what I imagined.”

“What do you mean?” Lance asked.

“Well, where I come from, the word ‘robe’ usually means something a little more restricting on how well you can move, or something more covering.”  Jeremy motioned his hands as if he was putting on a heavy jacket.  “All of the robes I have seen here look light, almost like normal clothes.”

“They are normal clothes,” Alice chimed in again.

“Robes are easier to make than individual pieces of clothing.  Though people can make other clothing, or sometimes get clothing from your world, we wear them because we have always worn them,” Lance explained.  “Though some of the robes and dresses are far more complicated, as you have seen, much like Ruoiu’s.”

Jeremy drank his entire cup of tea, though it was a small cup.  “Some of it does look a little odd or over-done,” he said jokingly.

“Ruoiu?” Alice asked Jeremy.  “Who’s that?”

Jeremy stopped himself in the middle of turning to Alice, and realized he had made the same mistake before.

“Is something wrong?” Lance asked.

“Umm... well, I didn’t tell you that I, um, have a ghost following me, right?”  Jeremy was embarrassed, and felt idiotic for getting himself into the situation.

“Uh-huh...”  Lance continued to stare at him, “and... what might their name be?”

“Alice,” Jeremy said slowly as he felt his face starting to get red.  “But I seem to be the only one who can see her,” he tried to justify, “though I guess I don’t blame you if you don’t believe me.”

“No no, it’s not that I don’t believe you, it’s just sort of,” Lance tried to find the word, “odd.”

“Yeah,” Jeremy awkwardly agreed.  “As for the clothes,” he tired to change the subject back, “it’s just very different than what I’m used to seeing.”  Jeremy looked above Lance’s head for a few seconds.  “But I guess it isn’t any big deal.”  He waited a moment before changing the subject once again.  “So, what about you, Lance?”

“Me?” Lance asked, following Jeremy’s lead to drop the other conversation.

“Yeah,” Jeremy responded, “just a curious question, but how have you-?”

A knock came from the front door of the shop, cutting Jeremy’s question off.  “I’ll get it!” Alice sang out at the same time Lance stated it, and they both got up.  Alice ran to the door, while Lance walked quickly behind.  “Who could it possibly be out in this kind of weather?” He asked himself.

The door opened to reveal Velia standing in front of it, holding her umbrella directly over her head so not to get her dress wet.  “Hello again, Lance,” she stepped into the shop and off to the side away from Lance, who closed the door.  “It seems as though you cannot get rid of me today,” she joked.

“What brings you over here in such weather?”  Lance asked.

“Yeah, it’s pouring out!” Alice pointed at the now closing door.

Velia smiled at Lance.  “A small group of children came to my shop in the middle of the pouring rain.  I let them in and asked them what the matter was, and they started a commotion about there being a new transfer human.”

Lance looked at her blankly, and then shook his head to regain his thoughts.  “Wait, so the children know?”

“Yes,” Velia answered.  “It seems that a rumor has spread, and now almost everyone knows there is a transfer human about.  They also have an idea of what he looks like; not too accurate, but it is not hard to see that Jeremy is a prime suspect.”

Jeremy, who was listening to the conversation unfold, stood up and walked out through the hallway and into the main part of the antique shop.

“My my, it seems as though we are in an interesting situation, don’t you think?” She looked over at Jeremy.  “It seems as though Soro’s plan to keep you secret did not work.”  She continued to smile at Jeremy, waiting for his response.

He noticed her gaze, “Well, I don’t know what to do.  I’m not really friends with many of the people here, and I don’t even know that much about the people around here in the first place.”

“I guess there’s nothing we can do right now,” Lance decided.  “Thank you for telling us this.”

“You are quite welcome,” she responded, then turned to Jeremy again.  “Please remain vigilant.”  She winked and turned around, opening the door.

“Oh, and one more thing,” Velia stopped just before she stepped out, “I already returned it, but if you are interested in that book I read I can show you where to go and get it.”

“Ah, sure, thanks,” Jeremy said.

“Bye!” both Lance and Alice called to Velia as she left.

“Goodbye,” Jeremy said as well.

“Good evening,” Velia responded as she closed the door behind herself. 

© 2014 Iron K. Tager

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Added on January 4, 2014
Last Updated on January 4, 2014
Tags: Break Down the Unknown, chapter 14, 14, Jeremy, Lance, Lucia, Laurena, Velia, Soro, Ruoiu, Ruu, Jay, Alice


Iron K. Tager
Iron K. Tager


Hello! I'm not really that good of a writer at all, but I do enjoy writing. I tend to only write things when I feel like it, so sometimes I go long stretches without putting anything down. I wrote .. more..