This Strange World Needs A Kicking! - 41. Isekai Emergencies
Chapter Forty-One – Isekai Emergencies
“O.M.G.!” Tani shouted. “You found him!”
After meandering through the forest for about half an hour, they were finally in luck and stumbled over the others. Kai let Pepin get down carefully, and his sister rushed like a bulldozer right into his arms. The rest of the group made a circle around them, excited to meet someone from a different world. A couple of girls ran their flashlights over Pepin, exclaiming and wondering at his clothes. Kai pulled him close in a protective gesture when the girls got a little too forward and began to touch him, too.
“Everyone, this is Pepin. He’s from another world, so please be kind to him,” he said in a voice he hoped to be commandeering enough.
“Are you a prince?” one girl asked.
“No, I’m a servant,” Pepin replied dutifully.
“If servants look like this, how do princes look like? I’m totally shooketh,” another squealed in delight.
“You’re not a servant anymore,” Kai cared to insist.
“What am I?” Pepin asked and turned his head.
Kai wanted to kiss him. Yeah, totally, that was the only thing crossing his mind. “My boyfriend, obviously.”
A dreamy sigh emerged from all the girls while some guys let out a few embarrassed snickers.
“Don’t mind these guys,” he told Pepin. “They’re kind of cool once you get to know them. Not that I know them very well, but they’re into isekai, just like me and--”
Only then, he realized that he hadn’t seen someone he did actually know. “Where is Milo?” he asked Tani.
A flashlight blinded him for a moment from afar. “Where is Sebastian?” Milo asked as Kai shielded his eyes. “I looked around and couldn’t find him.”
Shoot. Now that was going to be a tough conversation, Kai thought and sighed from the depths of his soul. “Guys, thanks a lot for helping us tonight, but we need to regroup a little,” he addressed the little crowd.
“But what about the Blue Castle? And how did your boyfriend end up here, with you? Did you go there to get him? How? Show us the gate, man!”
Kai put one hand up to cool the hotheads. “We’ll talk at large about everything. Our parents have our phones, so we can only communicate while we’re in school. But now you’re with us, you know, the inner crowd, and all that, okay? I won’t leave my isekai brothers and sisters in this hour of need,” he added with emphasis. “Milo knows where to find you, right?”
There were a few murmurs of discontent, but they soon died down.
“Fine,” a girl said. “But you better not hog all that Ifigia world for yourselves, or we’re gonna be pissed.”
“How do they know about Ifigia?” Pepin asked.
“I told them,” Kai replied. “Not a lot of things, but you know, these people are totally stoked on traveling to different worlds and stuff. It’s quite the big thing for people like us.”
Pepin nodded thoughtfully and took a step forward. “Esteemed Earthians,” he said in a courteous voice, “I will personally answer all your questions about Ifigia. It must be later, as right now, I must understand the customs of your world, first.” He took a short bow at the end of his speech, which caused other squeals of delight from the girls.
“Are there girls as pretty as you in Ifigia?” a boy with a lisp asked.
“Hey, he said he’d answer everything later,” a girl intervened. She grabbed the boy and dragged him away. “We’ll see you guys soon, right?”
“Without a doubt,” Kai confirmed.
“So,” Kai began, as soon as everyone was out of earshot, and Tani took Pepin with her to walk in front, probably bent on filling the poor guy’s head with all kinds of stories about their world.
“So, Sebastian is not with you,” Milo said. He sounded confused and hurt.
“He’s not. But, Milo, man, we gotta find a way to get you to him. He’s--” Kai stopped abruptly. What if they couldn’t find it? Would Sebastian—No, he refused to think that, especially since he was pretty responsible for getting stabbed like an idiot while in the ice prince’s body. “Well, his aunt said that you must go see him or something.”
“Yeah, Galien’s mom. Fire goddess. Totally cool,” Kai explained. “Anyways, Sebastian is kind of ill--”
Kai sighed. “Because I got wounded by that Uxilan dude that time, and I was in Sebastian’s body, well, now he’s like cursed. And you’re the cure. That’s what Seb’s aunt says.”
Milo stopped abruptly. “And you’re saying it now? Let’s go back and show me what you did to go to Ifigia and get Pepin.”
“It’s not that easy,” Kai mumbled.
“What? Don’t tell me that now that you got Pepin, you don’t care--” Milo started to rant.
Kai stepped into his face. “My dad took me there.”
Milo fell silent. “Your dad?”
“Yeah. So, I’m really sorry that I cannot take you to the gate or whatever those isekai people think that exists to go to Ifigia. I simply don’t know how.”
Milo covered his face. Kai put his hands on his friend’s shoulders. “Still, that doesn’t mean that it’s not possible. We’ll search for it. Your Seb is in good hands. He has two goddesses with him, not to mention Luna who surely plies him with those delicious mini cakes she makes day in and day out.” He wished he sounded surer than that. Hell, if he thought for one moment that it helped, he would spend the entire night scouting the woods for that gate. Actually, it wasn’t that bad a thought. “You know what? Let’s go where it happened that I traveled back and forth. Guys,” he called for Tani and Pepin. “Change of plans. We need to find a way to make Milo end up on the other side.”
Just as he said those words, he noticed lights through the trees. Those people were really bent on searching for the gate, apparently. Kai wouldn’t stop them if they wanted to do so. “Hey,” he started to shout. “We’re here!”
“They’re over there!”
Kai froze as that voice, grownup and authoritative, was followed by barks. Were those dogs? Just how many people were into isekai? And who—
The lights drew near, and soon they were surrounded. A flashlight scanned his face and followed to inspect the rest of them. “We found them,” the man spoke into his shoulder, and only then Kai realized that the guy wore a dark uniform. “Kids, you’re in some serious trouble.”
Officially, Pepin was a cousin from the countryside who was big into cosplay. He didn’t have ID on him, which was a bummer, but it looked like the police officers in charge of recuperating them hadn’t cared to look too much into it, as it was late, everyone was tired, and they were pretty sure that these kids were no immediate menace to the society.
Plus, the people at the police station thought that they would have it pretty bad once their parents got there to take them home.
Which left Kai with the challenge of convincing his mom that it was all right to take Pepin home with him and that without saying the word isekai once. That could be particularly daunting for Tani, but everyone was nice to her since she was just a young girl.
Milo’s parents were already there, and soon, the entrance doors flew open, letting Kai’s mom walk in. And he thought fire and ice goddesses were scary. But he was brave now, right? He went directly to her and caught her hands into his. “Mom, I know you’re mad, but we needed to go and save someone from a terrible fate,” he said quickly. “Just say that you know this guy,” he whispered quickly and gestured with his chin over his shoulder at Pepin. “He’s our relative.”
His mom hesitated for a moment, but then her eyes searched his face carefully.
“I’m counting on you, mom. He’s a good guy, and he needs us.” Also, he’s my boyfriend, I got him pregnant, and he comes from a different world, but let’s take it slowly, one shock at a time.
She didn’t say a word, but when the police officer came and asked her about Pepin, she confirmed everything, not one trace of hesitation in her voice.
Well, they were home. His mom had been silent on their way back, and Kai hadn’t said a word, either. Tani had followed his example by instinct, and Pepin had kept his eyes down, his hands demurely folded in his lap. Once in a while, his mom had stolen looks at them in the rearview mirror, and Kai hoped that she could see how calm and collected he was.
In all honesty, he was a bit scared shitless, not for himself but Pepin. They clearly hadn’t thought it through, and how difficult it would be for Pepin to integrate into their world, seeing how he was practically an undocumented alien. If the wrong people caught a whiff of his being from another world, the chances were that he would be used as a guinea pig for who knew what experiments.
Kai shivered at the thought. His mom gestured for them to get into the kitchen and then pointed at the chairs around the table.
“Well?” she asked as soon as everyone was seated. “May I know why I suddenly have a nephew I’ve never seen in my life?”
“Pepin is my boyfriend,” Kai blurted out.
By how his mom’s eyes widened at that abrupt revelation, he knew that he had gotten that ace out of his sleeve a bit too quickly. “Are you trying to pull my leg, Kai?” she asked sternly. “I’m not in the mood for one of your jokes.”
“Milady,” Pepin said in a flawless aristocratic accent, “I can assure you that your son is not joking or lying. I am, indeed,” Pepin paused for a moment, “his boyfriend.”
His mom stared at Pepin, then at Kai. “Why does he speak like that?” She seemed to be beyond puzzled.
“He’s from...” Kai racked his brain for a good lie that wasn’t anywhere close to sounding like an isekai kingdom.
“France!” Tani intervened. “Which is in Europe!”
“I know where France is,” their mom said slowly. “And how had he managed to go through customs without ID?”
“He came incognito,” Kai explained. Oh, man, the lies he was going to say... Good thing their mom didn’t know one word in French. “He ran away from home.”
“Why? Where are your parents, young man?” Her stern voice was making Kai’s heart grow tiny.
“I’ve never known them. I was sent into servitude at the age of six, and no one ever told me about who they were,” Pepin replied.
“Servitude?” Their mom sounded stricken now. “At the age of six?”
Kai put his hand over Pepin’s to stop him from digging himself a bigger hole. “Lost in translation,” he said quickly. “The thing is that the people who took him in when he was little treated him like a servant, forcing him to cook all day and sweep the floors, and stuff like that.”
“I enjoy cleaning and cooking,” Pepin intervened.
Now his mom was staring at their guest like he was growing a second head. “I need to see that to believe it.”
“You’ll see it. Pepin makes killer mini omelets,” Kai hurried to say.
“They’re not poisoned,” Pepin said. “How are they killer?”
Their mom crossed her arms and examined Kai and Pepin quietly. “You, kids, are going to make my hair turn white before its time comes. What are we going to do with him? Where is he going to sleep?”
“In my room,” Kai said and knew that very moment that it was the wrong thing to say.
“Under no circumstances,” their mom countered. “Tani will sleep with me, and Pepin will have her room. Don’t forget that you have school in the morning,” she added. “Tomorrow is another day, and I’ll think of something by then. You do realize, Kai, that he will have to go back, eventually. He’s practically an illegal migrant.”
“No way, we need to keep him,” Tani spoke up.
“Tani, I don’t want to hear a word from you. And Kai, how did you get yourself a boyfriend from France?”
“Online,” he said quickly. “That’s pretty standard with my generation,” he added to sound convincing.
“And did you taste those killer omelets by taking a bite out of your phone?” their mom questioned further.
Ah, damn. “No, but I saw pictures. Pepin showed them to me.”
Their mom shook her head. “Head over to sleep, all of you. I’ll show Pepin where to find everything.”
Kai had plenty to object to that, but for now, he only threw Pepin a begging look. Well, if he sounded weird while their mom showed him where the bathroom was, the fact that he was from France was as good an excuse as any.
Without a phone, it was pretty damn hard to pass the time until he could be sure that the entire house was asleep, and by that, he mainly meant his mom. He tiptoed onto the hallway, wincing at every sound the door to his bedroom made as he opened it. “Like a ninja,” he whispered under his breath as he slinked along the wall and stopped in front of Tani’s door.
He needed to be extra quiet, but at the same time, avoid scaring Pepin, who would probably be startled by someone walking into his room at night like a thief.
He managed to open the door, step inside, and close it without making outstanding noises, and only after he allowed himself to take in his surroundings. Pepin had fallen asleep with the bedside lamp on, just like Tani. He was no longer in his butler livery, and it looked like his mom had found some night clothes for him to wear. Good thing, Kai’s clothes appeared to fit him like a glove. He had a white t-shirt on and probably pajama bottoms, which was Kai’s preferred combination for sleeping, as well.
Pepin slept on one side, and he seemed deep in the world of dreams. Kai considered whether it was a good idea or not to wake him up, but it felt like they had been apart for too long. He walked over and crouched near the bed. After looking at his boyfriend for a few more seconds, just to enjoy watching his sleeping face, he brushed against Pepin’s forehead. “Hey, Pepin, it’s me,” he whispered.
The curly eyelashes fluttered, and the blue eyes he now loved so much stared at him. “Kai?”
“Hush, not so loud. Let’s not wake up mom.”
“All right,” Pepin whispered. He lifted the blanket and held it in invitation. “Do you want to climb in?”
Kai sighed. “I shouldn’t because I only wanted to see how you were doing… but why the heck not?” He snuck under the blanket and enjoyed how quickly Pepin’s arms wrapped around him, holding him close. “So,” he started, “how do you deal with everything? I mean, you must have been shocked by our world, at least a little. By the way, kudos on keeping a straight face at the police precinct and everything.”
“I understood that we were in danger. Why do the rulers of this world consider it important to have their guards follow you?”
“Tough to explain, but I’ll try. Here, the police serves the people, and it was my mom – and Milo’s mom and dad – that called them. Trust me, it’s not easy to be a teenager around here. Just dare to disappear from home once because you got isekai’d, and everyone will be up in arms to get you.”
“It does sound tough,” Pepin admitted. “But now tell me, how come you have a fountain in your home, when we’re so high up? And what a magical contraption, that carriage that took us up here, through that mine-like shaft!”
“By fountain, do you mean running water? Well, that’s pretty standard. And it’s very convenient, you’ll see. I’ll show you more how to use everything tomorrow.”
“Your mom explained a few things to me. Is this imaginary France I’m coming from a backward country compared to here? I felt like your mother had a hard time explaining everything to me.”
“No, it’s totally cool, and Tani has this idea that all pretty anime boys must come from France, hence the whole thing. They’re just different people there from here, and I bet that my mom didn’t want to insult you by just assuming that you were familiar with the same appliances back home. By the way, I can barely wait to show you the fridge and my mom’s favorite non-stick pan.”
“I cannot wait for you to show me everything,” Pepin replied excitedly. “But Kai, are you in trouble because of me? Your mother seemed quite upset.”
“Well, I did spring the whole boyfriend thing on her out of the blue, so I cannot really blame her. But everything is going to work out. And as soon as I graduate, I’ll find work and a place for the both of us.”
“Work? Shouldn’t I work, too? Are there many openings for servants in your world? There’s hardly anything else I know how to do.”
“Don’t worry about it for now. And like Tani said, you could be an idol or a model. I bet you’ll end up bringing the big dough home.”
“Dough? Is it important to have a lot? For making bread?”
Kai kissed Pepin on the tip of his upturn nose. “I mean money. You know. Like coins, but there are actually bills or just a piece of plastic. I’ll explain everything to you.”
“All is so amazing,” Pepin said dreamily. “I hope I won’t embarrass you too often.”
“You can’t do that even if you tried, and if anyone looks funny at you, we’ll just say you’re a foreigner, and that’s it. I should thank Tani for coming up with that France idea.”
“What happens if we actually meet someone who’s from there? I don’t know the language or anything else about the place,” Pepin pointed out.
Kai kissed his forehead. “I’ll buy you a phone, as soon as I get my hands on some money. While he was in my body, Sebastian blew my savings away on getting a tattoo. This one,” he said and showed it proudly to Pepin. Even though he hadn’t been the one to suffer through the making of it, he felt like he could brag a little about looking so badass now.
Pepin caressed the lines of the skin art. “What is a phone?”
Right. They needed to start from the bottom, like with the fundamentals.
Sebastian was slouching on the throne, ignoring the constant pain like usual. After all that drama at the Shimmering Cavern, Luna, Reya, and Fiana had taken turns to fuss over him. He felt slightly better as Luna had dutifully had taken upon herself to warm his body the same way she had done the last time. That granted him a few hours during which he could see about his duties as usual, and he didn’t want to neglect them, not now, when his days were numbered, and the people of Ifigia would remain without a ruler sooner than everyone thought.
He had noticed the guards casting glances at one another and then to the floor. At one point, he thought he heard someone sobbing but pretended not to notice. These people were obviously in pain because they had to watch him in that sorry state. They might not have to endure that for long, he believed.
Not that he was as strong as others were led to believe by his curt manners. He had his regrets, and the knowledge that he would never see Milo again was carving a wound inside his chest that hurt differently from the one inflicted upon his body by that Uxilan dagger.
Fiana liked to think Kai and Pepin were no longer in Ifigia and returned to Kai’s world, but Sebastian wasn’t sure of it. After all, Kai might be capable of moving between worlds because of some uncanny abilities, but Pepin had no such skills in his possession. For their own sake, Sebastian hoped that they were somewhere far enough to be sheltered from Reya’s wrath. He could tell that his mother was by no means appeased but refrained from talking about Pepin’s fate – and Kai’s as a consequence – only because she finally understood not to upset him more than needed.
The morning had just started, and only a few of his subjects had presented their grievances so far, and he already felt tired. He would endure it just a bit longer, he decided, before showing any sign of weakness in front of these people who had come to believe in him as their trustworthy ruler.
One man well into his late years was explaining in a soft trembling voice that his sheep had gone missing again and that he suspected his neighbor of tempting the four-legged creatures with some tastier pastures when the doors to the throne room flew open, and two of his guards marched in dragging with them a young man.
Sebastian stared at the scene nonplussed for a moment.
“We caught a spy, Your Majesty!” one of the guards announced.
The young man was dressed in what Sebastian had come to know as hipster fashion and probably fancied himself an explorer by the looks of his backpack.
“I’m not a spy,” the visitor protested. “I was just looking for the Blue Castle!”
“Shut your mouth, spy.” The other guard smacked the visitor upside the head. “And address His Majesty as you should. Kneel.”
The young man was about to protest when Sebastian pushed himself up to his feet. “Let him step forward,” he ordered the guards.
The visitor straightened up his clothes and walked purposefully toward the throne. Two feet away, he hesitated and finally bent the knee. Sebastian huffed in annoyance. “You don’t have to do that,” he said impatiently. “Come closer.”
Eventually, the young man stopped in front of him and shifted awkwardly from one foot to the other. Then he rubbed the back of his head. “Um, Your Majesty, can you please not order my execution? It’s the first time in my life that I get isekai’d.”
Sebastian kept from rolling his eyes with some difficulty. It seemed that there were others like Kai Martin in that world. He gestured for the visitor’s backpack. “Do you have a phone in there?”
“They confiscated it from me,” the visitor accused and pointed at the guards behind him.
“Give me the phone,” Sebastian ordered. The guards traded a perplexed glance. “That object you took from this young man here.”
He hoped the guards hadn’t destroyed it, afraid of its magic. But all seemed fine, he noticed with a sigh of relief as he grabbed the phone from the guard’s hand. “Get me in,” he ordered to the visitor.
“Your Majesty, do you know what this is?” the young man asked, gaping like a fish, as he took the phone and unlocked the screen so that he could hand it back to Sebastian.
“Of course, I know,” Sebastian replied. “It’s a smartphone,” he said with self-importance, and the entire court gasped in disbelief as he began to type in what used to be his own number until not so long ago.
Kai couldn’t stop wondering what Pepin might be doing at home by himself. He had caught on quickly how to use all the appliances like he hadn’t just been transported there from a different world and had even put together a delicious breakfast under Kai’s so-called supervision. His mom had been impressed but hadn’t said much as she hurried to get to work, but Kai could tell that she was thawing slowly, seeing how dutiful Pepin was, as well as talented, in everything he did.
If only school didn’t have to take so much of his time, he thought with a sigh. At least, he had the phone with him, not that he could use it during math class. Still, he could steal a moment and check the isekai forums for any sign of Ifigia appearing on the map.
To his surprise, his phone buzzed, and he noticed an unknown number on the screen. Maybe it was one of those people who hunted the gate to Ifigia, so he stuck his head under his desk and answered.
“Yeah?” he whispered. “I’m in the middle of math class, so if it’s not important--”
“Is this Kai Martin?” an authoritative voice asked from the other side.
Kai smacked his head against the desk, breaking the stupor that had engulfed the entire classroom like a blanket while the teacher was droning on about something they mainly were too stupid to understand, without a doubt.
“Mr. Martin, what are you doing?” the teacher shouted.
He got from under the desk, holding the phone. Then, ignoring the teacher completely, he turned toward Milo. “I have Sebastian on the phone,” he whispered like he couldn’t believe it himself.
Milo looked at him in shock for about one second and then jumped to his feet, snatched the phone from Kai’s hand, and ran out of the classroom, with Kai following.
“Mr. Bennett! Mr. Martin!” the teacher sputtered, not believing what they were doing.
“Sorry, teach,” Kai threw over his shoulder. “This is an isekai emergency!”
Well, I'll leave you to judge how isekai emergencies should be handled and whether the boys are right or not to skip math class for one! As I told you, things will get on a slippery slope from now on, and there's not much left. I hope you had a great time in the company of these characters!
Until next time,
All the best,
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