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    Laura S. Fox
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

This Strange World Needs A Kicking! - 27. As Strange As Love

Chapter Twenty-Seven – As Strange As Love

Kai put the stirs into the horse’s sides while begging him in a whisper not to neigh or do anything that would give him away while he still managed to put as much distance between him and the camp behind.

“Good horsey,” he said and patted the animal’s head as the horse appeared to understand that language pretty well.

He had to be a horse trained for battle, and while he was nothing like Sebastian’s Thunder, he appeared to be sturdy enough to hold a rider and all that heavy armor on him.

Soon, Kai had managed to guide the horse to take him over the crown of the hills, so even if they noticed his absence at the camp, it would take them a while to realize what had happened and start looking for him.

At least, he didn’t need anyone else to show him the way to Uxilan as ash and a foul smell rose in the distance. “You and me, horsey, we’re going to make history for Ifigia today,” Kai said, full of importance, even if he only had a horse as an audience.

***

“Did you get hit by a truck?” Tani asked as she leafed through her manga volumes and books spread on the bed.

“A truck? No,” Sebastian replied. “There are no trucks in my world.”

“Hmm.” Tani narrowed her eyes and continued to search for that elusive information they needed for him and Kai to switch places back as they were and see about their lives as before. “Do you remember dying or something like that?”

“Nothing of the kind. I was in bed with my concubine, just waking up from --”

A night of passion, he wanted to say but stopped in time. Tani looked at him expectedly, but seeing how he remained silent, she turned her attention toward the materials in front of her.

“Then it looks like I must have been right the first time,” Tani concluded. “It has to do with love.”

“But how?” Sebastian asked. “At the time I switched bodies with your brother, I had no idea who Milo was.”

Tani grinned and threw him an all-knowing look. “So you admit that you’re in love with Milo.”

Why did this little girl have to be so bothersome whenever she felt like it? But was there a point in denying it, after all? “Yes,” he replied coolly.

Tani slapped her hands together. “Then that means that it has everything to do with Milo. You need to confess to him.”

“I already did,” Sebastian pointed out. “But, of course, he believes that it was his friend Kai who did so.”

Tani scratched her head. “Hmm, so we must make him see that you’re not Kai.”

“As I told you, he doesn’t believe me. That path is closed. The explanation must be somewhere else. Is this everything your books say?”

For a couple of moments, Tani remained lost in thought. “Did you happen to make a wish when the switch happened?”

Sebastian frowned. Tani’s question triggered a particular memory, but it was one with the shape of a ghost that didn’t speak for itself. “I don’t remember such a thing.”

“When exactly did it happen?” Tani asked again.

“The day you came to take me to your home and I was behind the school with Milo,” he replied promptly.

“Right, right, that was when you first started to act strange,” Tani agreed.

“I wasn’t acting strange. I was just being myself,” Sebastian countered, a bit miffed.

“That’s true,” Tani admitted. “Gosh, looking back, it was so funny. Well, what else do you remember? What did Milo say or do?”

Sebastian opened his mouth and hesitated. Suddenly, those moments felt private, as that had been the time when he had first set his eyes on that beautiful boy who would make him believe that a thing as strange as love could exist.

“He was saying something about a date,” he eventually said.

“Ah, so that must be,” Tani concluded. “You secretly wished to go on a date.”

“That would be silly,” Sebastian retorted. “At the time, I had no idea what a date meant. I believed it to be a quest of sorts.”

Tani sighed and caught her cheeks in her palms, puffing them out. “I can’t stop thinking that all this switcheroo has something to do with feels.”

“Well, for the sake of the argument, let’s pretend that it is true. What wish could your brother have had at the same time? Because I didn’t just happen to transfer to this world on my own,” Sebastian said.

“If I know anything about my brother, it must have been something stupid like wanting to be an isekai hero. And,” Tani became more animated, gesturing, “because he expressed his wish at the same time with you, bang, you two switched.”

“That sounds like a rickety explanation,” Sebastian expressed his doubt. “And I don’t remember making any strange wish.” The feeling from before that something was slipping through his fingers came back, but he shrugged it off. What was the point of dwelling on something he didn’t remember? It couldn’t have been significant. And Tani was swimming in the dark with all her theories.

***

Kai decided to dismount and let the horse go free when he reached what appeared to be a border between the land dominated by the House of Uxilan and Ifigia. The black land stretched as far as his eyes could see, and that foul stench was more pungent. The horse had snorted and even sneezed a few times, so it was time to let him go. Kai patted his back and urged him to go back, and the horse didn’t hesitate, breaking into a gallop right away.

What was that thing that he had once read about horses sensing danger? Well, it wasn’t like Kai was blind. The danger lay right ahead, waiting for him to step up and solve the ultimate quest. With a long sigh, Kai turned and looked behind at the rolling hills of Ifigia and the blue sky above, the same color as a pair of eyes that had seen through him like he was nothing but a piece of glass.

“I guess this is goodbye, Pepin,” he said and cleared his throat. Now that he thought about it, Galien was on to something about his voice. It sounded… well, not weird, but he was pretty sure that Sebastian’s voice was usually deeper and lower. Maybe he had caught a cold. He coughed a few times for good measure, and then he placed his hand on the pommel of his sword. “Conrad, Galien, I’m going to miss you guys, too, even if you’re both a pain in the butt.” He hadn’t intended that last pun, but that was that.

Goodbyes now said and done, it was time for him to win against those jerks and return home.

***

Sebastian ran his hands through his hair and placed them behind the back of his neck, stretching to work some kinks in his muscles. “Assuming that what you’re saying is true, Tani,” he began, “what should I do next?”

Tani pursed her lips and moved them around while appearing to be munching on her thoughts. “I think,” she started, “that we need to make Milo see who you really are.”

“How do I do such a thing? You believe me but only because you saw a part of the real me with your own eyes. And is it a good idea? No, I don’t think so,” he decided. He had disturbed the course of Milo’s life too much already.

“It is the only idea,” Tani insisted. “I mean, c’mon, you’re an ice prince with royal concubines and yet you need to come here to fall in love with Milo. If that’s not fate, I don’t know what it is,” she added, speaking in a tone that sounded like she was merely reciting things she had read somewhere else.

As little as he could trust in the girl’s abilities to solve a thing as complicated as the strange curse cast upon him, she was currently his only ally. It meant that he needed to rely to some extent on her knowledge.

“Wait, are you in love with your royal concubine, too?” Tani asked.

Sebastian shook his head. “I am never in love.”

Tani grinned, and her eyebrows shot up. “Just as I thought! You were so cursed to find love, Seb!”

“Stop calling me Seb. It’s a little grating.”

“Nope,” she said and stuck her tongue at him.

Sebastian frowned slightly. “People in this world are incredibly disrespectful.”

“Sorry about that,” Tani offered. “But in a way, you’re like my brother.”

“How could I be like your brother? By what I’ve managed to learn about him, he appears to be a klutz and an airhead. What could I possibly have in common with him?”

Tani nodded thoughtfully. “You’re both good guys,” she said promptly. “And it’s just as easy for me to annoy him as it is to annoy you. So there’s that.”

Sebastian shook his head. Then he remembered the dream and Reya again, along with her warning. “I must find a way to go back home and save Ifigia.”

“Ah, by the way, how do you know that? Do you feel it?” Tani asked.

“No, but my mother appeared in a dream and told me so.” He hesitated for a moment before continuing. “She was quite adamant that I must give up on Milo.”

“Oh, no, your mom doesn’t agree with your chosen,” Tani said and slapped her cheeks while her mouth turned into an ‘o’.

“I tend to believe that her warning was well-grounded. What I must do is to forget about Milo so that I can return.”

Tani shook her head and frowned. “Your mom is kind of a jerk, no offense.”

“A jerk?” Sebastian couldn’t suppress a smile. “I suppose so. But what can I do to forget Milo? Are there any methods to remove one’s memories in this world?”

“Not approved by safety and regulations boards, at least,” Tani replied. “Forget about that. No way that’s what you must do. You’re here for love, and you’re not going to leave without it.”

“You are much convinced by the many romantic notions that you must have plied your mind with by reading all these materials.” Sebastian gestured at the spread books on the bed. “But Milo and I can never be. We belong to different worlds.”

Tani waved like that was just a tiny detail. “And yet, here you are. And well, Kai is over there, getting freaked by bishies being all over him.”

That, indeed, begged an important question. “Tani, do you believe your brother could have had romantic feelings for Milo?”

“Who, Kai?” Tani seemed to consider it for a moment, but then she snickered. “No way. They’re like best bros.”

“But Milo confessed that day without knowing, of course, that he wasn’t confessing to his best bro,” Sebastian explained, taking after Tani’s manner of speaking with a lot less difficulty than when he had landed here for the first time.

“Yeah, there’s that,” Tani admitted. “Gawd, Kai must have been so freaked, lol.”

There was no reason to ‘lol’ about that, Sebastian thought but didn’t contradict Tani since they had much more pressing matters to bother with.

***

“Hello! Anybody home?” Kai called out as he walked through a foggy marsh, blade at the ready. So far, the dark magic jerks had been conspicuously quiet, and all that silence was unnerving.

Just as he was about to call out again, a net made from black vines fell over him, and he found himself propelled up in the air, apparently having just stepped into a trap. He tried to straighten up, but as much as he struggled, he only managed to end up in the same position that allowed him little room for maneuvering.

“Hey, this is not funny! Is this how you guys fight? So not cool,” Kai shouted and tried to swing his sword to cut through the vines but with no success.

His own loud yawn took him by surprise. Why was he so sleepy? And in a situation like that? Dark magic wielders specialized in sleeping potions – that sounded so lame. Even he could come up with something better if he thought for like five minutes. His eyelids were so heavy, and his chin met his chest as his head fell forward.

***

Kai blinked hard and pushed himself up. He was lying on a large stone slab in a room lit by tall windows that stretched to the ceiling. He moved his arms and was happy to see that they were free of any restraints. An exhale of relief followed when he touched the hilt of his sword.

“So, the mighty Prince Protector of Ifigia decided to walk into our home by himself.”

He turned at the sound of that hollow voice only to notice a hooded figure, much like the one that had tried to assassinate him that time at the palace. “Ah, you’re one of those suspicious guys,” he said.

The hooded figure slid across the floor, and Kai examined him with growing curiosity. When was the fight supposed to happen? Maybe he could take this dude by surprise and go for a sudden attack.

“We are not the kind to waste time on pleasantries, Your Majesty,” the figure said.

“Who are these ‘we’ you’re talking about? All I see is one lame ninja wannabe,” Kai pointed out.

It was strange how calm he felt. Maybe it was because he was OP and knew that he could take on those bastards without much effort.

“Are these words of yours part of an incantation?” the figure asked. “They are so strange. But never mind, you are here, we believe, to settle the score. As for who we are,” he continued and then flicked one wrist, “meet us now.”

From all corners of the room, similarly suspicious hooded figures emerged at the same time. Now was a good moment to start feeling a tiny little bit scared, yet he still wasn’t. Kai put one hand up and warned them, “Take one extra step, and I’ll make a nice ice cave out of you. And then I’ll turn it into a tourist attraction and sell tickets.”

“We don’t think so,” the figure thought. “Your magic or strange incantations won’t help you here.”

Kai raised his arm higher and focused. That was supposed to work, right? By now, his eyes were supposed to be as cold as ice, and soon, ice tendrils would shoot from his fingers –

“What the hell?” he murmured and stared at his hand that looked completely normal. “Hey, did you jerks already took away my ice magic? ‘Cause that’s so no cool.”

“We didn’t, but we will,” the figure warned and threw something like a swirl of black smoke toward him.

Kai remained unmoved for a moment, but the black smoke avoided him and bounced off the walls. He scrunched up his nose. “You know, you should switch to vaping. It’s healthier and doesn’t stink as bad.”

“Don’t let him speak his incantation!” the figure ordered, and black smoke hurried toward him from all sides as the dark magic wielders began shooting it at him.

Kai watched as, just as before, whatever that was, slid by him without touching a hair on his head, instead, reflecting off the walls and finding its prey in the same guys that were shooting it from their hands. “Ha,” he laughed, “you have no power here! I so wanted to say this at the right moment!” He jumped from the stone slab and grabbed his sword. Swinging it to and fro, he walked purposefully toward the head of the suspicious hooded dudes. “Not so overpowered now, are you?” he taunted.

The smoke was getting thicker, and it made him cough and stop for a moment. The dark figures around him began to fell to the ground, coughing hard and convulsing as if a sudden strange disease attacked them. To think that these dudes would be so sensitive to their own magic.

Kai took out his handkerchief, admired the neat embroidery for a moment, and then tied it quickly over the lower part of his face. However, by the time he did that, the smoke was too thick for him to see left and right, let alone forward. He began to swing his sword again. “Come at me, bro!” he yelled. “This is like the lamest fight ever!”

He heard a door opening to his right and dashed in that direction. Soon, he was out on a long corridor, and the hooded dude was running away. “No way, I’m not finished with you!” he shouted and broke into a sprint.

Barely at the first corner, and he was out of breath. Damn it; he shouldn’t have indulged so much in Pepin’s mini omelets. He was obviously no longer in shape. As he stopped to get his breathing back, he touched his midsection surreptitiously and tried to grab the fat, but his abs were still rock hard. “Hmm,” he said to himself. “Come on, Sebastian’s body, just a little more, and we’re done with these assholes.”

He pushed himself forward but no longer ran. At the end of the corridor, there was a single door. The head of dark magic jerks must have gone inside, so he hurried along.

Behind the door, however, no room existed, but merely a narrow platform and Kai stopped in time from dashing to the empty space that opened in front of him. From there, he could see the entire desolation that was the territory of the House of Uxilan.

No time to admire the view. He looked right, then left, and finally saw the hooded figure who waited for him, his dagger drawn.

“That looks a little small,” he taunted and began walking slowly toward his enemy.

“You destroyed my brothers with your incantation,” the figure hissed.

“Hmm, not really. They poisoned themselves, the way I see it. So no, as much as I want the bragging rights, I barely did anything.”

“How did you cloak your ice magic against our attack?” the figure asked.

“Have no idea. But what I do have an idea about is that I need to find out if there’s anyone else left besides you.”

“No, no one,” the figure said in what sounded like a pretty unconvincing voice.

“Whatever,” Kai said with a shrug and lunged forward.

Phew, he barely managed to keep on two feet. Seriously, Sebastian’s body had the weirdest timing for getting so clumsy all of a sudden. He pressed himself to the wall and risked a look down.

“Okay, bad idea,” he decided and stared ahead.

A swish through the air, and he dodged the assassin’s dagger just in time. That was no longer funny. He clasped his hand on the sword and tried to swing it but only succeeded in losing his balance for a moment. Why the hell was he so inept at maneuvering a blade?

He set his feet hard on the platform and turned toward his enemy. Maybe if he aimed for a simple technique, he would get rid of the last ninja and then head home. He held the sword, pointing it at the hooded figure who was waiting for him to make a move. It was now or never. He dashed forward, making sure not to look down, and it felt like his sword went through something.

“Gotcha!” he said victoriously.

Yet, at the same time, a sting blossomed inside his chest along with a pain like he had never known in his life. Kai looked down and stared at the dagger buried to the hilt inside his body. “Oh, shit,” he murmured and fell.

Now was a good moment to transfer back to his real world, he thought, as his body moved through the air. Any moment now… Maybe if he closed his eyes?

Suddenly, his body felt weightless. Ah, that had to be it. Could he open his eyes now? He risked it, and above him saw a pair of amazing blues eyes. “Pepin?” he asked hoarsely. “Why are we moving like this?”

He tried to look around, but Pepin placed a hand on his shoulder and cradled him in his arms. “Don’t strain yourself. I called Adhe.”

“We’re dragon riding,” Kai whispered. “But wait, weren’t you locked inside your room? How --”

“Conrad let me out before you left. And I stole your dragon scale,” Pepin explained.

“Nice job.” Kai gave him a thumbs up. “Hey,” he asked when something warm and wet fell on his cheek, “are you crying?”

***

They were as caught as they could be in the close examination of the books and manga volumes in Tani’s possession when the doorbell interrupted them.

“Who could be?” Tani wondered and rose from the bed. “Mom has a key. I’ll go and look.”

“Don’t just answer the door. Ask who it is,” Sebastian told her. He had learned that there were many dangers in this world, such as door-to-door salesmen who could annoy you to death and make you buy a new toothbrush even though you didn’t need one.

Tani traipsed out the door, and Sebastian listened to her going and then to her voice as she asked who was behind it.

“It’s Milo,” Tani said loudly. “Should I let him in?”

Sebastian groaned. Tani really needed to work more on her manners. How could she ask that while Milo was on the other side? “Of course you should,” he yelled back at her.

He needed to find out something to tell the boy. Not the truth, obviously. His eyes fell on the mirror, and he froze. His eyes were burning blue again. “Don’t let Milo come in!”

“Too late,” Milo said from behind.

Sebastian did the only thing he could to avoid a disaster. He closed his eyes.

TBC

 

Well, both guys are in trouble now... So I guess I should leave it to you to imagine what comes next... But you know we've been heading that way for a long time!

Thank you for reading the story,

Until next time,

Hugs,

Laura.

Copyright © 2021 Laura S. Fox; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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You are like super mean. Leaving me on a cliffhanger after i omly got two hours of sleep! Good thing i have a super overactive imagination!!!!

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Tani may be surprised at the capabilities of her brother. The cliffhangers are enjoyable.

Edited by J.El
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Really Laura, really?

And why do I get the feeling that were are soon to finish the boys' adventures... 😬

Edited by johnnyboy2285
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On 10/3/2021 at 4:46 PM, Wesley8890 said:

You are like super mean. Leaving me on a cliffhanger after i omly got two hours of sleep! Good thing i have a super overactive imagination!!!!

For a moment I read 'you are like super man'... and my mind was going places, lol! Well, I can only hope to live up to your imagination then, Wes!

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On 10/3/2021 at 5:03 PM, J.El said:

Tani may be surprised at the capabilities of her brother. The cliffhangers are enjoyable.

Yeah... I think that she will be surprised big time!

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On 10/3/2021 at 9:22 PM, VBlew said:

Cliffhanger!,  sounds like the need to get to the cavern and join together to heal.

Things will happen at the cavern, indeed! Only that they might be a little complicated! (Just my usual MO)

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On 10/4/2021 at 2:42 AM, johnnyboy2285 said:

Really Laura, really?

And why do I get the feeling that were are soon to finish the boys' adventures... 😬

Hmm, hmm, not just yet, and it's all I'm saying for now!

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