Crossover Fan Fiction ❯ Stares ❯ Reunions ( Chapter 4 )

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Finding Rudeus walking alone in the streets of the city was a surprise.

“Niisan?” I asked, releasing the darkness I routinely shrouded myself in.

“What?” he asked, springing back and calling out spikes of ice between his hand. I waited. He eventually took in my hair and eyes.

“Tobias?” he ventured, frozen in confusion.

“That’s me, brother. Mom is here, safe in the palace. There’s been some things happening here. Roxy left before we got here though. Have you any news from Dad or Tanya?” I asked him.

“Uh.. yeah. I found Dad organized a search party in Wind city on the central continent. I got teleported to the far side of the Demon Continent with Eris. I’ve been travelling with her and a friend we made there since then.”

“It has been two years since then. There’s something I wanted to ask. Do you speak Japanese?” I asked him in my native tongue. He was startled again. He answered.

“Are you a reincarnate?” Rudy asked me.

“Yes. I was a high school student in Chiba, died in 2010. Hit by a truck.”

“I was... older. It was raining. I was a NEET, saved a girl in a crosswalk and got hit by a truck,” he said, in Japanese.  

“Tanya is like us. But weirder. She was a soldier in world war one, only she knew magic there. She knows German and Japanese. How is she?” I asked him.

“Eh. She’s still little, and her stare has gotten more intense. She’s very aggressive, even more warlike than I am. And she flies like a crazy person. They call her Pixie. She and Dad have found a lot of survivors, but some of them have been enslaved and addicted to drugs. That kid that picked on Sylphy survived, but he was a nearly comatose drug addict,” Rudeus explained.  

“Mother and I teleported to the bottom of a pond. When we surfaced, we saw people falling out of the sky, and die on impact. It is the first time I’ve ever seen anyone die,” I described.  

“Eris and Ghislaine and I were maybe thirty kilometers from where the teleport accident started,” Rudy explained. “I didn’t know others were caught by it. How would I? Father tried to blame me for not rescuing the survivors, but how would I know anyone else was hit by it? I was on the far side of the world, and a girl to keep safe.”

“What is the demon continent like?” I asked him, gesturing for him to follow me back to the palace.

“It’s a serious desert, lots of mesas and mountain ranges. Strong monsters everywhere, and they love to eat people. Many are ambush predators with excellent camouflage. Some are pack hunters. There are dragons on every mountain. My companions helped, but Eris couldn’t speak Demon language. I could thanks to the book Roxy made me.”

“Roxy made you a book?” I confirmed.

“Yes. It explained the language of the demon continent. I met her parents a few days after I arrived, thanks to being escorted by a Superd we met there, named Ruijerd. He is a kind but stern warrior. His people were cursed by Demon God Laplace and attacked their allies and then families, slaughtering everyone. It’s very sad.”

“The demon god was called Laplace?” I confirmed. Rudy nodded, not getting it.

“Laplace’s Demon is an old philosophy joke from our world. It’s like a literary joke. Someone from our world must be the real Laplace. That explains so much about this place. Beast girls with cute ears, elves, permanent lolis? This is fetish material by some Japanese isekai.” There are upshots to being well read, and I died well read. I was third best student at Sobu, after all. Rudy considered this, then looked annoyed.

“That explains so much,” he finally said.

“What about Zenith, your mother?” I asked him.

“I met the Demon Empress. She’s some kind of skinny five year old loli in chains. It’s seriously creepy. She gave me this eye,” he explained, answering the question I was pondering. It was a different shade of green from our eyes.

“What about the Demon Empress?” I asked, trying to get him to finish the thought.

“She can see anyone in the world, and couldn’t see Mom exactly, but says she’s alive, just beyond her sight. She says she’s in an unexplored labyrinth.”

“A labyrinth? That’s not good. But she’s still alive after two years? That suggests some kind of trap or enslavement,” I suggested.

“Probably both. So, take me to your Mother,” he commanded.

“Okay, Niisan.”

We walked various streets until reaching one of the gates to the inner wall, nodding to the guards who let me in, then stopped my brother.

“Who is this?” asked Guillame, the guard captain on duty at this gate.

“This is my brother, Rudeus.”

“We have specific orders regarding him from Prince Pax.”

“Oh? Will these orders countermand those of the king?” I asked. “You know he’s a Saint Class Water mage?” I reminded them.

“King,” Rudy corrected. I eyed him through my usual squint.

“A King class water mage? He could level the palace if angered. Are Pax’s orders likely to make my brother angry? Would the King like that? Maybe it would be a good idea to let the King know and issue orders while we wait here?” I suggested. Guillame considered this before giving orders and rushing off personally.

Is there a problem, Tobias?” Rudy asked me in Japanese.

Pax was so obsessed with Roxy he kidnapped the guards’ families and blackmailed them into helping him trap mother and I, and planned to trap either Roxy or you to bring her here and enslave her. I fixed some of this by freeing his servants after informing the King of the trouble here, though it looks like Pax is backsliding again. We have the support of Pax’s older brother, Prince Zanoba. He’s like Superman, the American one. Crazy strong. He’s also got one of your Roxy figurines, and I promised him an introduction. We owe him. He found an antidote to the poison used on Mother a decade ago, before she became your nursemaid. She’s getting stronger. You should know that Dad raped her in her sleep when she was a teenager, and I think she’s kind of broken.” All this in Japanese. 

That’s… heavy. How are you coping?” he said after some thought.

I think if I were really a little kid this would be very traumatizing,” I answered in Japanese.

“Have you learned any magic?” he finally asked me, curious.

“Ah… that. Observe!” and I cast the Dark Flame. “I have mastered this spell. It even makes black fires.” Rudy stared as I waited, smirking. He gradually guffawed, his piping teenage voice bouncing off the castle courtyard walls. Some of the servants and guards peered around bannisters and out windows to see my blonde brother laughing loudly.

“Wonderful. I have never laughed so hard in my life,” he finally managed, wiping his eyes.

“So tell me about Eris?” I requested. We finally entered the hall where the King reigned. The guards spoke to Guillame and they opened the doors. Rudy followed me in, wearing his dusty backpack and carrying a wrapped staff with a bulbous end. I reached the correct place and bowed to the king properly.

“Your majesty, my brother Rudeus Greyrat, Water King Mage and survivor of the teleportation incident,” I announced. Rudy did the proper noble bow and gesture expected of a mage of his rank.

“So this is the student of our former court mage?” asked King Shirone.

“Thank you for sheltering my stepmother and brother,” Rudy offered.

“Yes, my steward tells me she is one of our servants, working for my son, Prince Zanoba. He is somewhat eager to meet you. Something about… dolls.”

“I am an amateur sculptor. It helps me refine my abilities as a mage,” Rudeus said.

“And such a young lad, as well. How old are you?” the King asked.

“Twelve, your majesty,” he said.

“Hmm. And a King Mage already? What can you do to justify that rank?” he demanded. This would require a demonstration.

“He wants you to show him,” I said in Japanese. Rudy perked an eyebrow at that.

“We would need to step outdoors. My magic is good in battlefields. I can silent cast a huge thunderstorm.” The king rose to his feet, ordering his guards to secure one of the nearby courtyards. It was twilight outside, a lovely dusk. I hadn’t realized it had gotten so late, having run into Rudy in the town in late afternoon, and the delays at the gate. Rudy picked a spot in the open and put down his staff, and his pack.

“Silent casting is a skill I developed as a child, and a prime reason why I am called a prodigy. I can use magic in close combat because I don’t have to wait to chant. I was attempting to teach this skill to Roxy before she left our family service.”

We stepped out into the courtyard and Rudy removed the belt and covering from his staff, which had a large blue stone. I had never seen it before.

“This staff was a gift from my student in Ranoa for my tenth birthday. I am in the process of escorting her home. Observe!” he commanded and it glowed. The sky began to darken in the evening twilight and clouds appeared. He said nothing, merely looked at the sky. He gestured with a swirl of the staff and the clouds began to rotate. A patter of rain, large drops, fell. Then the wind came up. The storm grew and spread across the horizon. Lightning flashed from cloud to cloud, in various colors. The wind howled, yet it did not descend onto the city or tear apart towers. Evidence of his fine control. The court mage was quite open mouthed, seeing the full potential in the storm, and whispered to the king.

“Enough!” King Shirone roared. Rudy bowed and the storm dissipated to nothing in three breaths.

“That is the power of a King Mage,” Rudy calmly stated in motionless air, the night falling and stars shining as if nothing had happened at all.

“I see. I see. Very well. Steward, have this mage brought to his family, treat him as a guest,” the King ordered turning away. My stomach rumbled. I lead my brother to Zanoba’s wing and found Mother waiting by the door, and Zanoba standing beside a cart displaying his prized statuette of Roxy Migurdia. Zanoba was anxious and dashed forward to seize Rudy’s hand, shaking it furiously.

“I am a great admirer, Master Rudy! I wish to be your apprentice in doll making!” he almost shouted. Rudy grimaced, several bones broken in his hand.

“Prince Zanoba! Have a care. Brother is only human and more fragile than myself and mother,” I warned him. Rudy chanted the spell to heal himself, hand straightening and the pained look relieved rapidly.

“Ah forgive me, Master!” Zanoba cried, lunging forward again. I engaged touki and barely held back his apology hug, which would have broken Rudy’s ribs, doubtlessly.

They began chatting about earth magic, and the fine control needed to create the rather exquisite form that any shop in Tokyo’s Ginza would be proud to display and sell for astronomical prices. Particularly the removeable outfit, which Zanoba displayed.

My brother’s tastes in women seemed broad. Roxy was flat. I’d partially grown up with Sylphy, who I am reasonably sure Niisan loved, was still a little girl. The statuettes of Roxy I’d seen in his room, though this one was far more detailed and I can sort of see the love he’d put into it. He yearned for her. Probably as much as I missed Yukinoshita and our arguments. I was looking forward to meeting Eris, his student, and this warrior they travelled with, the supposed Superd. Knowing brother, it probably was one.

As a mere five year old I don’t have the hormones to get excited about girls. Even when I was old enough in my last life, I was far more reserved from the damage I’d received from my rejection in Middle School, so I came off as more of a gentleman, even if I looked like a Yakuza thug. Overcoming my looks was another story, one of misunderstandings and damage. I still have those looks here, only with the magenta hair, and the green Greyrat eyes.

I have to say that what I see of this world suggests that men act like beasts here, and the only time they aren’t raping some woman (willing or not), they were running a scam to make money. Maybe that’s bias from being in a palace, though. At least the king here had one wife, not a harem like over in Asura. Mother’s stories of the Asura harem was pretty awful. Women bought and degraded with the expectation of being paid to produce a male heir to the throne. The only male so far seemed a mad incompetent, and the prime minister was on my list of people to kill. Mother would probably approve if I can figure out a way to do it. It didn’t help that Dad’s younger brother was probably behind the assassination attempt that injured Mother at the Asura palace, and probably attempts on Eris’s life.

“Brother, where are your companions staying?” I asked him.

“Inn of the Western Iris, market quarter,” he said, thinking a moment.

“I will go there and escort them back. They are probably worried about you,” I cautioned him. He nodded agreement.

“Let me write them a letter in case they don’t want to follow. Are there accommodations here?” he asked. I nodded. He added some lines to his letter, written in a language I didn't know, probably Demon God language. “They’ll bring their luggage too. Make sure the guards don’t hassle Ruijerd. He doesn’t compromise, and considers Eris’s safety critical.”

“Rudy, we need to talk about Home at some point. It’s been totally destroyed. If you could raise roads and walls and help provide serious shelter using your magic, earth magic, it would save a lot of lives before winter,” I suggested. I know he doesn’t seem the type to think about others like that, but it needed to be said. The news I gathered from expeditions and scouts visiting our former home was it was a barren wasteland instead of bountiful land of grain and fruits. People returning there were going to starve. Even the soil was torn away by the teleport incident. I took his letter and hurried out, using touki to start roof hopping and racing across the city like a character from Ranma ½.

Eventually I found the spot and descended, enjoying the exercise I’d gotten, searched the tavern crowd for an imposing man with green hair or a girl with red and found neither. So I found the innkeeper, showed him my badge from the palace, and was directed upstairs to the correct room. I knocked. After a moment, a stern face pulled back the door a few inches a stared at me.

“You have Rudy’s eyes. What is your name?” he asked in heavily accented human.

“I’m Tobias, Rudy’s brother. I have a letter inviting you to the palace. My mother is there.” I offered the document and he unsealed it, looking it over in the candle light.

“Very well. Come in while we ready ourselves.”

“Who’s there, Ruijerd?” asked a girl’s voice. A cloud of red hair emerged from a blanket. Apparently she’d gone to bed, and was not fast at waking up.

“Rudy’s brother is here. We’re to go to the palace. Pack your things. And get dressed, child.” I turned away to give her some privacy and waited until a small calloused hand fell on my shoulder.

“Let me look at you,” she insisted, turning me around forcefully. I regarded her. She had big red hair and big red eyes, family traits from her mother? She was a second cousin once removed? Or a first cousin twice removed? A half cousin? Or a full cousin, but not in law? Fitz-cousin? My pondering was starting to annoy her.

“Well, say something!” she snarled, barely keeping down her volume.

“So you’re the girl he’s been protecting for the last 5 years?” I finally said. She grimaced.

“More like teaching for the last five years. Protecting for the last two. I thought I was… well nevermind.”

“I suppose it is finally time to return to Buena Village and get you home. I warn you things are bad there. Mother and I haven’t risked the journey, but I hear things from the palace. If you could convince Rudy to use his earth magic to help rebuild, dig wells, all critical stuff before winter… it will save lives. There are survivors still drifting in.”

“We met some of them at the port. We didn’t realize the accident that got us was so big.”

The two of them had been packing up their things and were quickly ready. We trooped quietly down the heavy oaken stairs to find the last of the late night drunks singing songs and bid the innkeeper farewell, without a refund, unfortunately. We walked the streets and the normal thieves made themselves scarce at the sight of the three of us, even if I’m just a little kid. My crossbow was loaded and ready, a paralysis poison dart I was personally immune to, with extensive training, but would do a great job hobbling a swordsman or other attacker long enough to escape. Even slashing the bolt would only insure it shattered, offering even more poison to find skin and do its work. That was several months of effort on my part, even with access to the royal library.

Eventually we found the inner gate, still manned, and they questioned my companions before letting us in. I led them to the correct wing of the palace and found Rudy snoozing on a couch while Zanoba had retired to his chambers, probably dreaming of doll making.