Chapter One Of Some Tea Party
Listen, what can you hear?
Envision, until the images are clear.
Welcome to my open mind,
Where wishes dwell and dreams unwind.
Herbs and stones may heal my bones but there is no cure for being alone.
Look around, what can you see?
All my friends surrounding me?
Haha, but I am happy here on my cloud,
I'm queen you know, royal and proud.
Please don't go... Don't go yet.
Wait a while and meet my pets.
See my dragons Yin and Yang (brought to life through words I sang).
And here comes Epsilon too (oh how sweet, I think he likes you).
It's getting late it's turning cold,
But the night's a wonder to behold.
See the stars, they move and dance
And draw you deeper into the trance.
The moon is shining, see her tears, she's been in mourning now for years,
Her silver face so full of sorrow, but I have faith with each tomorrow.
That I'll be happy, I'll be right, my soul will shine my heart be bright.
Until that day, I won't moan;
Just laugh at myself for being alone,
Alone inside my crazy head
I laugh myself to sleep in bed...
Okay, you're scared. I'll let you go,
But please remember all you know.
As maybe now you'll understand,
Why I feel so safe inside my land.
Feel free to visit any time,
Just close your eyes and open your mind.
Listen, what can you hear?
Envision, until the images are clear!
It was watching my boyfriend, Rusty, playing on Tekken, coupled with acute boredom, that inspired me. Without a word, I took myself into the bedroom, climbed into Rusty's double bed and began the usual detailed journey to Rotokia. I travelled through the forest, following the gentle upward incline of the hill until I reached the familiar clearing with the seven multicoloured steps on the right leading down to a cave. I ran quickly down them, my view of the world being tainted a different rainbow colour as my feet fell on each step. When I had reached the bottom, I was met by James, a strange creature with a thin man's torso on a large stag's body.
'Evening Jemma, anything for the box?' the deer-man asked, shaking a wooden box in front of me.
'Nothing much. I'm not really bothered by anything at the moment.' I replied honestly.
James' job, of holding onto the thoughts that trouble me while I spend time in Rotokia, is not always needed. Indeed, sometimes I even need my worries while I am there.
'I'm only really popping in to do something quickly' I explained.
'Well, if you're sure.' sighed James, 'but remember, even the shortest time in there with a head full of thoughts can be time enough for things to go wrong'.
'I know, but really James, this is nothing important. I'll be fine.'
James stepped aside and permitted my entrance into the cave that led to Rotokia.
I took the path slightly to the right, which I knew would take me to my bedroom in Magpie Manor where I live. Once in my bedroom I lifted down my box of writing paper from on top of the wardrobe and flung it open in my bed.
Sitting cross-legged on my bed, I took out a pretty blue pen and began to write...
My name is Cleo Magpie (aka Jemma). I live in Magpie Manor in a land called Rotokia. I have heard a bit about you and would be delighted if you would join me at the Manor tomorrow night for tea, sake, a bit of cake and maybe a DVD. I'm not sure if you know what a DVD is. But you seem like quite a modern guy so I bet you do.
Anyway, I look forward to having you as an honoured guest.
I took out my wand (which I pull out of the air; other than that I can't really explain. I just want it, grab it, and then, when I'm done, I shake it and it's gone again). With a tap, the writing turned into a mixture of kana and kanji. While I am not very good at writing in Japanese, the script on the paper was identifiably my own hand. I then folded the note into a nice origami dart, stood at the window and focused as hard as I could on everything I knew about Yoshimitsu, which was not a lot. For some reason I kept remembering Yoshimitsu from Soul Calibur, probably because I used to watch my friend playing it on the Dreamcast when I was still in High School.
My mind was wondering a bit and I went into full-blown reminiscing. I snapped myself back and then, gathering my thoughts up again and re-focusing on Yoshimitsu, I took a deep breath and threw the dart out of the window. It was caught on a breeze and was soon sailing up over Rotokia in a large spiral flight path, up, up and out of sight.
'See you soon Yoshi!!!!' I called out before returning The World As It Is.
'You're desperate for Rhian to text you back aren't you?' Rusty remarked as I thumbed the keys on my mobile. Rhian is one of my best friends in The World As It Is (if you're reading this, that's my name for the world you are in as you do so).
'Actually, if you must know, I'm texting Donna. Rhian's at a gig.' I replied, snobbishly.
'Well sorry but 99.999% of the time, you're texting Rhian. I forget you have more than one friend.' Rusty laughed.
'I'm telling her about inviting Yoshimitsu to join me in Rotokia for tea.' I explained.
My friend, Donna, is from both worlds, but I met her in The World As It Is while at university (she is a real person but also meditates and comes to these worlds). Although she is currently living in Yorkshire, I try to keep in touch with her in both worlds.
'Um, actually, is Yoshimitsu a good guy, a bad guy or just a guy?' I asked suddenly, realising that I may have just invited evil itself to my beautiful astral home.
'Well he's a good guy really. He just looks freaky.' Rusty answered; not at all fazed by the fact I was planning on having a tea party with a character from a video game. People who know me learn not to get fazed rather early on.
I walked idly past Peter, Clandolin and Arkle, and made my way to the kitchen, shuffling my slippers along the green pile carpet as I walked. With a yawn I opened the door to the adjoining kitchen and made a slow-motion dash for the kettle. I had started making a cup of tea when I got the sudden feeling that something was amiss. I looked like I'd just got out of bed due to the fact that I was wearing a red and green ladybird nightdress and had bad bed hair. It was however, actually 6pm in the evening, UK time, and I'd come to Rotokia to unwind from a long day at work. That wasn't the thing that was amiss though, that was a pretty normal evening. I put the teabag and the sugar into my mug. The dishes had been done and according to the chart on the wall it was Smeagol's turn to do them. That was unusual, especially as there was no blood on the tiles and no sign of a recent struggle, but that wasn't the problem either. I poured the water and milk into the mug, raised it to my mouth and took a sip. There was a loud testosterone laden roar from the living room and I realised the problem was coming from there. Almost as soon as it had hit me I flung the door open, rushed into the room and stood between the 3 men and the TV.
'What the hell is that!?' I yelled, pointing at the screen.
There was a chorus of 'GET OUT OF THE WAY!'
'BRYAN WINS.' boomed a voice from the TV.
'NO WAY!' cried Clandolin with an angry, accusing look at me.
'I knew it, you're playing Tekken. What the f**k?' I said, puzzled.
'Don't look so confused Jemma, we're only doing some research on account of this letter.' my head guide, Arkle said, passing me a bit of paper covered in kanji. 'I assume you know about it?'
'I can't read this. Here Pete.' I said, handing him the note.
Peter, one of my 3 main spirit guides, is the resident translator in Rotokia. There is no language, in any world or any species that he can't decipher. Its not brains though, just magic. He cleared his throat and began.
I am honoured to be in receipt of your invitation to join you in the land you call Rotokia. I have saddled my fastest horse and will begin my journey presently. Actually, I have saddled my only horse but lets not nit-pick. Your invite could not have come at a better time, as I have recently acquired a new hat and was hoping I would soon have occasion to wear it. Now I think about it, as a consequence of acquiring said hat, a few days, weeks, possibly even months in a world far, far away from my own, may be in my best interest right now.
Yoroshiku onegai shimasu
PS: I do indeed know what a DVD is. In fact, I am rather fond of the work of Studio Ghibli.
'Oh, that!' I said with a grin. 'It was just a sort of whim really. I was bored and if I can't have fun here in Rotokia, what can I do?'
'You can put on some decent clothes and brush your teeth. You stink!' remarked Peter who had stood up and walked to the window. 'How many of Yoshimitsu are there?'
'What do you mean?'
'Is he like, two people for example?' Peter asked in response to my question.
'I'm not sure, he could be. I mean, there's a Yoshimitsu in Soul Calibur too. Why'd you ask?'
'Just there are two people riding this way.'
I looked out of the window, feeling in no hurry to get dressed, despite the approach of my guest. There were indeed two people approaching. One, on a white horse, was wearing a bright orange and blue hat with what looked like a scarf that covered his face, the other's steed was bay and his head was uncovered, revealing beautiful black locks of hair pulled back in a topknot. Some small strands of hair hung seductively over his face, reminiscent of a fringe. I felt myself blush as the urge to get smartened up suddenly gripped me.
'Um, when I wrote that letter another character did kind of pop into my head but only for a second. I'm not sure how I managed to invite him too, but it seems the samurai Mitsurugi is also coming to our tea party.' I tried to explain, wishing I'd taken James' advice and cleared my head on the way into Rotokia on my last visit.
'But I've only prepared one stable!' cried Peter, with genuine horror.
Clandolin, the tall elf with sleek shoulder-length black hair and porcelain white skin, looked fed up.
'So I guess there's no chance of a rematch than?' he asked, dropping the control pad on the floor in a dejected gesture. I could still feel the vibes of pure anger and blame shooting towards me from his words.
'Sorry Cland, I've got a stable to prepare.' explained Peter as he rushed from the room.
'You!' Clandolin began, waving his finger at me.
'Oh give it up Clandolin, you were losing anyway.' Arkle cut in. I could always count on Arkle to stick up for me.
I opened my mouth to speak, but as I glanced out of the window towards the two horses cantering over the moors surrounding lake bliss, I realised time was short and hastily left to find an outfit.
I hurried down the stairs in my lovely bell-skirt dress that bore a small black 'skull and crossbones' motif on a white background, pinched in at the waist with a thick black ribbon (I don't own it in the World As It Is, but it's based on one I saw in a shop window there). My hair was parted into high bunches and I was wearing sweet little high heeled shoes. Of course, as always, I also had a pair of nekomimi (cat ears) on my head. Catching my reflection in the mirror at the bottom of the stairs, I wondered how on Earth Mitsurugi was going to be able to resist!
As I reached the last step there was a knock on the door followed by the gargoyle above the front door, Bizgut's, screeching voice. (actually, he is a correctly a grotesque, as a true gargoyle spouts water. Although Bizgut spouts nonsense, so maybe that makes him a gargoyle after all)
'Coaster window starts my every but working talking!' He yelled in his usual complete nonsense.
'Bizgut says the guests are here.' shouted Peter, who is the only person in the entire universe across the many overlapping worlds and levels or existence, who understands Bizgut.
I pushed open the front door with a lump in my throat and there, on the step, was the rather scary looking Yoshimitsu, and a beautiful samurai, Mitsurugi. Both were quite a bit shorter than I had expected, although Mitsurugi was probably going on for 6 foot. Yoshimitsu was a few inches shorter than Mitsurugi.
'Hajimimashite. Yoshimitsu desu. Magupaisama deshou ka?' Said Yoshimitsu politely with a bow and taking off his hat. I was surprised to see he had hair. It was bright red so I knew it wasn't his real hair. Not that much of Yoshimitsu was real. His voice was a bit of a shock too. Rather than the deep, butch, robotic voice I was used to from Tekken, he actually had quite a high-pitched voice. It was kind of nasal too. It certainly didn't suit him any.
'Ee, watashi wa Jemma desu. Dozo yoroshiku, haitte kudasai.' I said, nervously, moving aside to permit their entrance.
'O-jama shimasu.' replied Yoshimitsu, stepping into the hall and stepping out of his sandals. I was just about to explain that shoes are okay in the Manor but then I thought he'd feel more comfortable doing things the way he was used to.
Mitsurugi did not speak, but followed Yoshimitsu. Yoshimitsu must have realised his companion's refusal to speak and introduced him to me.
'Go-shokai shimasu. Kochira wa Mitsurugi-sama desu...' he leaned in close to me 'Aitsu no dani da.' he whispered.
I was confused.
'Suki ja nai n'desu ka' I asked,surprised that he would insult him, but careful to keep my voice down.
'Zettai. Samurai dakara, wakawakashii to omou.' he replied, thumping himself twice on the side of the head for some unknown reason.
I made a note of that; yoshimitsu thinks samurai are ignorant.
Mitsurugi spoke for the first time.
'Nani to itta?' he asked, threateningly.
'Nandemo nai.' Yoshimitsu switched to the voice I knew from Tekken and as he did so the red eyes behind his white, skull-like mask, flashed a brighter, fiercer red colour. It was actually pretty scary.
Mitsurugi threw a very distasteful look at Yoshimitsu and stepped in front of him, deliberately knocking him with his shoulder as he passed. Again, I noticed Yoshi's eyes flash brighter. Then he turned to look at me and, although I couldn't see his face behind the mask, somehow, through his body language perhaps, I felt that he grinned at me. He stuck his fingers up at the back of Mitsurugi's head. It surprised me that he'd use that gesture but when I thought on it a bit, he'd met enough gaijin (non-Japanese) to know the significance of it. I smiled and stifled a giggle.
'Kochira e.' I said, squeezing myself in front of Mitsurugi.
'BOUJAKUBUJIN!' Mitsurugi shouted, reaching for his sword. I didn't understand what he said to me but Yoshimitsu grabbed my arm and pulled me out of Mitsurugi's path. He raised his sword as though he meant to attack.
Peter came running out of the living room.
'Gomen, gomen nasai. Kanojo wa amari shirimasen' he said hurriedly.
'What did he say?' I asked from behind Yoshi, feeling quite confused.
'You've offended him.' explained Peter quickly.
'What did I do?'
'Saki ni aruita.' Yoshimitsu answered the question I'd intended for Peter.
'Oh yeah...' I said, turning to Yoshimitsu who was still blocking my path, protecting me. Peter and Mitsurugi began having a really in-depth conversation. 'You understand English don't you?'
'Ee, wakareru kedo hanasu koto ga dekanai.'
'How's that?' I asked, no longer really concerned about the fact that the beautifully handsome Mitsurugi had recently waved his sword at me aggressively, 'How can you understand a language perfectly but not speak a word of it?'
'Wakanai' Yoshimitsu shrugged, lowering his guard as the threat seemed to have subsided, 'geemu no kyarakutaa kara kamo.'
'You know you're a video game character?' I said with surprise.
The manor is always full of egragores (the spiritual consciousnesses of fictional characters or joint goals and ideals, brought about by the collective unconscious of the human beings who think about them) but they never know they're fictional and only a few have ever accepted the truth once told. People generally don't like being told that they're not real. Even now, in The World As It Is, while the 'new science' is increasingly supportive of the theory that even our 'real world' is merely a hologram, a projection of an even more solid reality, very few people are willing to accept it. Yet there I was, talking to a video game character who practically introduced his self as such.
'Boku o mite! Mochiron jinbutsu da yo!' he rolled up his left sleeve to show me his bionic arm. Surprisingly, both his hands were bionic too, that was never mentioned in any of his 'official' stories. I guess my imagination added that detail.
'You have a point.' I agreed with a smile, 'but doesn't that make you angry? I mean, when people you care about die for the sake of a good storyline?'
'Sukoshi kedo narete 'ru kara daijoubu.' he said, looking over my shoulder.
I turned and followed his gaze to see Peter and Mitsurugi entering the living room. Seemingly, Mitsurugi had calmed down. Yoshimitsu had reached the same conclusion and with a slight bow, motioned to me to lead the way. Obviously, Yoshimitsu was not so easily insulted by people walking in front of him as Miturugi had been. Before we reached the door, Yoshimitsu told me to be careful to speak politely to Mitsurugi to avoid any more trouble. That wasn't going to be easy. My Japanese skills are a terrible jumbled mess at the best of times.
We settled ourselves down in the living room. There were already a few little cakes, and some flasks of sake on the coffee table and someone, most likely my guide Mathew, had folded napkins into pretty fans and had also placed a vase of fresh blossom on the table. Mitsurugi had sat himself on the green sofa and Peter sat next to him, probably to make sure that I didn't. I sat on a cushion facing Mitsurugi, and Yoshimitsu got the cushion to my right.
'So, Mitsurugi,' I began brightly, having taken as long as 6 seconds to decide that due to the fact he was a walking work of art, I could completely forget he ever called me something incomprehensible in Japanese just for walking in front of him. 'What brings you to Rotokia?'
He looked straight at me and I thought I was going to melt.
'Anata ga wakaranai.' he said, shortly.
'Jaa, nihongo de hanashimasu. Kore ga ii?'
Yoshimitsu nudged me in the side and I hastily added the polite ending 'desu ka'.
Mitsurugi brushed his hair from his face with his hand,
'Ima mo wakaranai' he said, just as shortly as he had before.
I was frustrated and turned to Yoshimitsu.
'You understood me right?' I said with a submissive shrug.
Yoshimitsu nodded 'Kare mo wakatta, eigo mo wakatta. Samurai wa mina sondai da!' he growled, his voice like thunder and more than loud enough for Mitsurugi to hear. He stared right at him with burning red eyes as he spoke.
It didn't take a genius to see that Yoshimitsu was losing patience with the samurai.
There was an electric tension in the air as the two characters glared at one another across the coffee table. I felt sure that Mitsurugi would not take Yoshimitsu's insult lightly. Then, to my surprise, the samurai turned to Peter and began to tell him something very long and complicated that my poor Japanese couldn't keep up with.
Mathew came into the room with a tray of tea, and Mitsurugi looked from him to me curiously. I felt sure he was wondering why Mathew was doing a woman's job, while I sat with the men at the table. Mathew placed the cups down and pulled up a cushion, sitting himself at the end of the coffee table next to Yoshimitsu and Peter. He introduced himself and Peter introduced Mitsurugi and Yoshimitsu before continuing to discuss something in complicated Japanese with Mitsurugi. Mathew, noticing their engrossment in one another, turned to Yoshimitsu.
'Please excuse me Sir,' he began in his usual charming, boyish manner, 'but I'm afraid I'm no good with languages so I can't speak Japanese at all.'
'Ii yo! Kamaimasen.'
'Yoshimitsu said that's not a problem.' I translated, starting to be impressed by what a decent, laid back guy Yoshi was.
Mathew smiled widely revealing his dimples, then poured everyone some green tea. He hesitated as he poured Yoshimitsu's cup, looking at him with intrigue. I think I had the same thought going through my own mind.
'Yoshimitsu...' I said, deciding to be the one brave enough to ask him. He turned his head towards me but didn't speak. I noticed his eyes weren't illuminated; they appeared as normal, deep brown human eyes. I was finding myself fascinated by him, 'Won't you have to take your mask off to drink?'
'Omen ja nai yo! Kore wa boku no kao da.' he answered without hesitation.
I knew he was lying by the fact that his mouth didn't move and his mask changed all the time on the Tekken games -faces don't generally do that.
'So if that's your actual face, how come it changes with each costume you wear?' I asked, quite rudely to be honest, especially as he was my guest.
'Manners Jemma.' breathed Mathew, who was well aware that my etiquette was slipping.
Yoshimitsu tugged on the jaw of his mask so that the mouth opened slightly, gulped his tea down quickly, then closed his mouth and wiped his face on his sleeve. I thought Mathew was going to have a fit. If that had been me he'd have made me eat outside 'with the other animals'. He may appear boyish and sweet but Mathew has a way of making you do as you're told.
Yoshimitsu's eyes lit up again, this time a soft green colour that sort of flickered rapidly, you had to really pay attention to even notice the strobe effect. He seemed to be looking at me intently.
'Kimi no kao ga itsumo kawaru ne.' he began eventually, 'boku to onaji deshou.'
I opened my mouth to argue that the difference between my face and his is that mine changes due to the many muscles controlling it and what's more, it changes by the second, but I could see Mathew scrutinising my every movement so I just giggled in reply.
I was starting to relax a little. I didn't really mind that I was only talking to Yoshimitsu because he was, after all, the person I had intended to invite. The fact that he arrived with a very rude but also deeply attractive piece of samurai eye-candy, was just a bonus really. What did puzzle me though, was that the more I spoke to Yoshimitsu, the more I really, really liked him. Not in a romantic way. I mean, how could I fall for a man I couldn't even see, and what I could see looked nothing short of insane? No, there was just something very charming, approachable, kind and gentle about him. He made me feel safe.
Like I said, I was starting to relax, just starting to. The relaxation was sadly interrupted. You see, what happened next was nothing short of a disaster, what happened next was every one's worst nightmare, what happened next was just about the last thing you should ever wish to happen if you're in a delicate, tense situation that could ignite at any second. What happened next was that Clandolin entered the room.
'Hey ho gang!' he sang out merrily, his black shoulder-length hair, floating as he walked. His hair was so shiny and so smooth that I swore I caught my reflection in it. He had changed his clothes since the last time I had seen him and had clearly been smartening himself up. He sat at the only free end of the coffee table, facing Mathew. Mathew and I exchanged glances of 'oh sh*t' as Clandolin helped himself to a piece of cake. He turned immediately to Yoshimitsu.
'Hi there, I'm Clandolin Farrefeld, feel free to call me Cland.' He said, enthusiastically.
'Hajimimashite, Yoshimitsu desu. Yoshi to yonde mo ii.'
Clandolin looked to me for a translation as Peter was still very busy with Mitsurugi.
'Um, he said he's pleased to meet you, he's Yoshimitsu but it's okay to call him Yoshi.' I said, glancing at Yoshi to see if I was right. He gave me a slow nod.
'Ah great!' said the elf loudly, 'hey, no one's touching the sake.' He grabbed a flask and began to drink from it, completely ignoring the little sake cups. 'come on guys, drink up, get this party started.'
Mitsurugi did not look impressed and had stopped speaking to Peter. Clandolin noticed the samurai watching him and turned towards him like a ticking time bomb.
'Aren't you Mitsurugi from Soul Calibur?' he began, seemingly forgetting our code about not mentioning the egragore's source, being an egragore himself albeit an unnamed, unmentioned background character, Clandolin should have known better.
Mitsurugi did not answer but poured himself some sake, he did not look happy at all. 'You're a samurai right?' Clandolin continued regardless, 'and Yoshi's a ninja?' he turned to face the table, 'so which are the strongest fighters, ninja or samurai?' and that was that. The bomb had gone off and any hopes I'd had of a peaceful evening were dashed.