Chapter 8 from 'Some Tea Party'
What just happened to me? What was that light? I will try to explain it but not yet as my mind is not quite as sharp as it was before. I have come to learn a lot from this strange place and the stranger people who inhabit it. While exploring the manor I have seen time and time again how residents help one another out. Someone who had only just began to find their feet again will be seen assisting another in a wheelchair. Or a burns victim who's scars have healed is seen dressing the wounds of another. Everywhere, people give their time to one another without question, without fuss and without obligation. This is a place of healing, a place of protection and a place of love.
What has changed me the most is the realisation that despite this industrious display of hard work and motivated altruism, everyone here seems… happy.
I have been forever convinced that happiness and altruism cannot coexist. That to help others you must somehow give of yourself, commit so much to the fight that none of you remains behind. Yet here, this is not the case. The fight continues each and every day. Every single being in Rotokia, great or small, old or new, has some role to play in the battle, even if it is simply opening the door for someone, or taking their turn to clean up after dinner. Some of us, even fight on the front line, going into the Middle-Worlds, but everyone's role is equally important. And while they are each of them committed to the battle, they are happy, content and beaming with love.
Where does this leave me? Do I stay and become a part of this? To do that, will I too have to let go of my fear of contentment and allow this place to change me forever? Or do I stick with what I know and return to my own reality, to the place where, after all, I truly belong?
That light? What was it? I feel that I am ready to talk about it. Moments ago, as I was lying upon this bed, there was a small light in the corner of the room. I eased myself up to see what it was and as I did so, the light grew brighter, larger and stronger. Soon it was upon me, wrapping around me like a warm blanket and I felt the most incredible sensation. I do not know what word to use to describe that feeling. It was distantly familiar but intangible. I lost myself and I wanted to feel like that forever. Then the light began to pull away and retreat back into the corner of the room. Without conscious thought, as though captivated in some kind of trance, I stepped down from the bed and hurried after it. Desperate to catch it and hold that feeling again. Only when the light had vanished did I become aware of what I was doing. The pain had gone. I had been so enchanted by the light that I had forgotten I was injured and incapable of walking. I grabbed my 'broken' leg with both hands. It was fine. Then I realised that my hand was fine also. All of me, my body I mean, is as it was before the mysterious accident. Only…
Only it is better even than that. The pain in my head that I have clung to for so long is gone too. No matter what I do, the pain does not return. I confess that I worried at first, but you know… I think it is going to be okay. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I really believe that everything is going to be okay.
As soon as I arrived home after work I rushed straight to Rotokia. I ran down the stairs from my room so quickly you'd have thought I was flying. When I reached the bottom Peter had left the green room and was walking towards the far staircase which I had run down.
'Hey Jem, are you trying to wake the dead? You sound like stampede of elephants.'
'Sorry Pete, I'm kind of in a hurry. I promised Yoshimitsu I'd stay with him again tonight.' I explained hastily.
'Yoshimitsu had a visitor this morning.' he said with a big smile.
'Your friend. Rhiannon!'
'Rhian was here? In Rotokia? Seriously? Why did she want to see Yoshi?'
My heart skipped a beat when I heard Yoshi's voice. I turned towards the sound and there he was, in the doorway to the green room, leaning casually against the door post with his arms folded across his chest. He was dressed in the clothing he wore on the first night we met and a mask I recognised from Tekken 4, although I had never seen him wear it in Rotokia before.
'Yoshi!! You're okay!!!!!!' I squeaked, running across the marble chequered floor and then throwing myself at him with my arms wide open.
It was the first time I had hugged him and his body was somewhat harder than I expected. It felt like doing a body-slam into the trunk of a tree. It made a similar 'thunk' sound too.
'Ouch' I mumbled in Yoshi's chest.
'Ki o tsukete yo!' he exclaimed, somewhat startled, 'daijoubu?'
'Yeah, I'm fine, just a bit winded.'
Yoshi returned the hug for a moment but then gently pushed me away. He may not like physical contact but at least he tried to be subtle about it.
'What happened? How are you suddenly better? Are you a clone?' I asked, confused.
Yoshi chuckled and I knew instantly that it was really him -it was his laugh. I would know it anywhere.
'Rhian did it.' Explained Peter.
'Rhian? How did she do it?'
'Well you must have told her what had happened to Yoshi did you not?'
'Yeah, I may have mentioned it in a text message… or 20.'
'Well your clever little friend worked out that if Rusty could imagine Yoshi hurt, then she could just as easily imagine him better.'
'But she doesn't even know Yoshi. Why would she go to all the trouble of imagining herself here just to help a guy who in her reality isn't even real?' I said, amazed but puzzled.
'Because he's real to you and she knew that as long as he was hurt, you'd be sad. That's a great friend you have there Jemma.'
I looked at Yoshi. In fact, I hadn't really taken my eyes off him. I could feel the tears welling up and I felt so much pride and respect and love for my friend. I couldn't wait to thank her. To tell her just how grateful I was that she cared enough about me to take the time and effort to heal my 'imaginary video game character friend' just because she knew how much he mattered to me.
I didn't get a chance to say anything because there was a sudden loud buzz from the Green Room and the three of us went rushing in. Peter pressed a button on a black speaker on the wall.
'What’s up?' he asked.
'Hi, umm... it's Gabriel... Is that Peter?' came a quiet, nervous sounding voice through the speaker.
'Yes it's Peter. What can I do for you?'
'It's… Carl, he's changed… for no reason. He's running up and down the 4th floor corridor. I… I thought you should know.'
'What?? Okay, thanks for letting me know. I'll be right up.' he pressed a button on the controls under the speaker, and an alarm began to sound. Lights above the two doors of the green room, began to flash red. I knew that every door in the manor would have a flashing red light at that moment.
'Oh Sh*t. Peter… I… I think I'm changing too.' the voice sounded shaky and scared.
'Hold on Gabe. Gabriel? Are you there?'
The line was quiet.
'Oh what the…? Jemma, can you and Yoshimitsu keep and eye on things here please?' Peter asked as he ran for the door, 'And you should probably ask Amphor to come over here.' he added and I realised he wasn't so much asking us, as telling us.
'Dou shimashita ka?' asked Yoshi, who had sat himself down on the couch. I noticed that his broken sword was on the coffee table; it still made me sad to see it.
'Oh, the 4th floor is where the 'potentially-hazardous' residents live. It seems that some of our werewolves are transforming for some reason.' I explained, as I thumped numbers into the phone.
'Mangetsu ni nata ka?'
'No, that's just it. The full moon isn't until next week. Something like this has never happened before. Usually the werewolves leave the manor for a few days during the full moon. I mean, they're not as dangerous as their reputation portrays. Most are just wolves when they change. But they have no memory of who they are and are very wild. Not the kind of animal you want… Oh hi Amphor, it's Jemma. What? Hello… Amphor what's going on? There's a lot of noise there, I can't hear you very well… Really? That's sort of why I'm calling you. Our werewolves are transforming. When you calm things down could you come over please? Clandolin? Sure you can ask him to come over if you like. Thanks Amphor. You had best use your shell by the way. Okay. See you soon.'
I hung up and then sat myself down next to Yoshi.
'Welcome to a regular day in Rotokia.' I said with a grin, 'apparently the wolves at the lycastian village are acting strangely too.'
I then turned to face Yoshi and I just suddenly blurted out, 'so are you going to stay here then?'
He had already promised to tell me as soon as his mind was made up but I am quite impatient and besides, he may have just forgotten.
He looked straight back at me, those strange bionic eyes flickered rapidly -a sign I've come to realise indicates that he is concentrating- and then he said something unexpected.
'I actually wanted to speak with you about that.' he announced in perfect, clear English.
I gasped and probably looked a bit horrified.
'Yoshimitsu!! You can speak English!! What the…?'
'Yes, I can, demonstrably. That is funny, do you not think so?' he said calmly.
'When were you going to tell everyone?' I demanded, feeling quite insulted that he had hidden that from me all this time.
'I will not be telling anyone besides you.'
‘So you’re just going to continue to lie to everyone.’ I scowled, folding my arms in front of me.
'I am not lying. I am simply choosing not to tell the truth. There are many things you do not know about me, and yet, I am not lying to you about them.' he said simply.
'Still, I think you should tell everyone…'
'Tell everyone what?'
We were startled by Clandolin’s sudden appearance in the room. He was still clutching the shell that had brought him to the manor.
'Nandemo nai' said Yoshi, flashing his eyes at me, 'Bokutachi no himitsu yo!' he warned in a hushed voice.
'It's a secret.' I said brightly.
'Oh go on, you can tell me.' Clandolin pleaded.
I knew Clandolin well enough to know he wouldn't give up without a fight.
'Fine, I'll tell you but you can't tell anyone else okay?' I turned to Yoshi and gave him a little wink and whispered, 'daijoubu!', thinking that Japanese would be more secretive.
'Of course I won't tell.'
That was of course a load of crap because Cland couldn't keep a secret if his life depended on it, but bless him, he really believed what he was saying.
'Okay, well you better come closer, I can't just shout across the room. Not with such an important secret as this.'
Clandolin came closer and looked very serious.
'Yoshimitsu's just asked me to be his girlfriend!' I sang out, 'I've said yes of course!'
They both sounded as horrified as each other. And Yoshi shook his head violently.
'Iie, iie. Uso da zo!' he said hurriedly.
Clandolin looked angry.
'You know what? Keep your soddin' secret. I really don't give a damn.' He said, before leaving the room to help Peter on the 4th floor. As he closed the door we heard him mutter 'freaks'.
'Thank you.' Yoshi whispered.
'Don't mention it.'
'But you know…' he scratched his head awkwardly, I realised that was something he did during certain social interactions, 'About you being my girlfriend…'
My eyes must have lit up and I leaned in eagerly.
'…no, no, it is nothing like that. Just, there is a reason I have decided to speak to you in English. I have something to say and I need to know that you really understand me.'
I didn't respond. Though possibly because of the disappointment of learning he wasn't about to ask me to be his girlfriend -gutting.
'Last night, when you stayed with me, I realised how much you care about me. I am honoured that you feel like that.'
'Yoshi. Lot's of people love you. I'm just one of…'
'Of many. Yes, I get it. I am adored in your world. That is such a comfort to me.' he said impatiently, 'Jemma, this is not something I usually do so please do not make this difficult.'
I decided to try to keep my mouth shut for once. It's not easy for me. He continued to speak.
'I feel really bad that I cannot return your feelings. It did not bother me before but now… I do not know how to explain… you made me feel loved and that was nice. I wish I could give you something in return.'
'Is that what you wanted me to understand?' I said, feeling as though I could burst into tears at any moment but not sure if they were happy tears, sad tears or tears of pure confusion.
'Yes. I guess. And I want to tell you that you are dear to me and though I cannot love you the way you wish of me, I am not rejecting you. I gratefully accept your love and will do all in my power to honour it. Which is why I…'
There was a strange noise from outside that could be heard above the drone of the alarm, and it interrupted Yoshimitsu.
'What was that voice?' he asked.
'That's Bizgut. Just ignore him. He talks a load of pointless crap.' I said submissively, 'So you were going to say something. That is why... what?'
'That is why I have decided to stay here.'
I squealed and thought about hugging him. However, having remembered how awkward the last hug was, I simply exclaimed 'Oh thank you Yoshimitsu!!'
'So…' I decided to continue the conversation while I could, 'tell me again why you don't want to have a relationship with me. Is it the cat ears?'
'I cannot have a girlfriend. It is not how I was created.'
'What is funny?'
'When you say you can't, do you mean you physically can't?'
'What??? No. That is not what I meant at all. I meant that I was created to be a character for a fighting game. So I fight. That is pretty much as far as my scope reaches. Did you think my creators got around a table and asked 'So, what qualities will Yoshimitsu look for in a woman?''
'They may have.'
'They did not.'
'But have you…' I paused while I thought how best to word my next question. 'I mean, just out of curiosity… are you anatomically correct?'
'Why would you ask me such a thing?' he gasped, sounding actually a little bit hurt, 'do you doubt my perfection?'
'No I don't. Or at least, I didn't. Now you're avoiding the question I'm beginning to though.' I said with what must have been the biggest, most mischievous grin I have ever worn. And trust me, I’m almost always grinning mischievously. 'Oh just tell me and I'll never mention it again.'
'You know technically, you are breaking your pinky promise…'
'Yoshi!!!' I growled, 'honour my love…' I demanded, hoping to guilt him into telling.
'Consider it honoured' he said defiantly, clearly with no intention of giving in to my demands.
The room went silent but for the alarm, which my ears had adapted to and filtered out, and I guessed that Yoshi had said everything he wanted to. It actually got a bit awkward. And then, yet again to my surprise, without standing, Yoshi reached out his arms to me and said,
'Houyou?' he had decided to switch back to Japanese it would seem.
'You really hit your head badly falling out of that tree didn't you Yoshi-kun.' I remarked sarcastically before accepting his unusual offer without hesitation and embracing him in a hug.
'But you know…' I began, feeling really quite pleased with myself for being where I was, 'you needn't have bothered speaking in English. I know you wanted to make it easy for me to understand but to be honest, I'm still really confused.'
Then everything went still, nice still, and I just wished with all my might that time would stop there and then. That I would never wake up from that meditation, never return to the World As It Is to face the truth that Yoshi is nothing but a made up character from a video game. Never have to let go of Yoshimitsu’s unusually cold body. But unfortunately…
'Mata, ano koe…'
He pricked up and moved away from me at the sound of Bizgut again.
'Yoshi,' I said, in a sort of half-pleading voice and trying to re-initiate the hug that had lasted all of 4 seconds, 'it's just Bizgut. You can't go freaking out every time you hear his voice. Not if you want to live here…'
'Iie, Jemma-chan, kiite kudasai… Yoku wakareru! Chotto hen ne?…'
I listened carefully. He was right, you could make out what Bizgut was saying. He was making sense.
'White wolves! White wolves are coming here!' cried Bizgut, uncharacteristically coherent.
'Mi ni ikanakya narani,' Yoshi said boldly, rising to his feet.
'Yeah.' I said with a sigh; it was a sigh of devastation, of knowing that the moment we were leaving behind would never be repeated, 'You're right, we can't really ignore this.'
When we reached the door, we looked out over the valley and were instantly startled by the scene. From just about every part of Rotokia, wolves and canines of every kind, running towards one point. The wolves were not white, but above us, Bizgut still shouted out 'white wolves are coming here.. white wolves.. white wolves..'
'Look..' I pointed, 'they are heading for the gate to the Shinto dreamworlds.'
The wolves were forming a large circle around the gate.
There was a sudden thud to our left and when I looked, one of the werewolves had jumped out of the 4th floor window. He was unhurt and began to run hurriedly in the direction of the gate. I could hear Peter's voice. 'Gabriel.. stop!!!' he yelled to no avail.
Another two ran right past us, clearing the steps in one bound.
'Asoko ni ikitakeba tomeru wa ichiban hayaku to omou.' said Yoshimitsu.
'but without your sword, how can we fly?' I asked.
'Boku ga dekanai kedo, kimi wa..'
'Oh yeah, but what about you?'
'Hayaku kakareru. Asoko ni aimashouuuuuuuuuu!!!!!'
Before I could reply, he had began running, at impressive speed, down towards the valley. Periodically, he would vanish altogether and reappear some distance ahead. I realised that I too had better get moving, if I were to reach the gate as swiftly as he surely would. With that thought, I spread my arms, leaped forwards and within seconds felt the air resistance against my wings as my magpie form carried me off.
We arrived at the same time and I saw that Shywolf, Amphors wolf form, was there, along with all the other Lycastians in their wolf form. Peter and Clandolin had also reached the scene, presumably with their shells and the other Night Travellers had also eventually been contacted, although each just stood in silence, unsure how to act.
Having returned to my usual human form, I turned to Yoshimitsu to speak, but before I'd even taken a breath, there was an almost blinding light from the gate.
A large wolf materialised from the light, and I noticed that Mitsurugi was seated upon the beast's back. He slid off and, looking a little confused himself, took a bow. Other smaller white wolves also materialised at their side.
There was a green light hovering beside the samurai and I could have sworn I saw a face on it. It was however, too fast and the light darted towards Yoshimitsu, orbited his body for a second, and then shot off in the direction of the Manor.
'Mina san.. O-machidousama deshita.' began Mitsurugi, humbled when compared to the last time we met.. 'Ore ga.. ore ga..' he dropped his head.. 'shisonjita'.
'You did not fail..' there came a voice, but it didn't seem to be external, it was as though the voice was within my mind. By the looks on the faces as I glanced around, it was apparent that everyone was hearing this too.
The voice continued and as it did so, a light shone from the chest of every wolf present and formed a laser-like line towards the large white wolf that had brought Mitsurugi back to my astral home.
'I am still present in the world. Think of me as a diamond that has been ground into powder. Your quest was valiant, you seek to rebuild that diamond, to collect each grain. Yet it is an impossible task. The softest of breath, the gentlest gust from a dragonfly's wing, will once again scatter those grains...'
The wolf was fully illuminated by the lights and it began changing shape.
'The sacred winds have carried me to every point of the compass. I am everywhere and nowhere. The world has changed, people have changed, and so we Kami must also change...'
The wolf finished transforming into a beautiful Japanese woman with dark flowing hair. She was wearing a white kimono that shone and sparkled as though made of the stars themselves. Her eyes were kind and her smile comforting and I had no doubt in my mind that I was looking at Amaterasu. She continued to speak.
'The gods of the world shall never leave. We were here at the beginning and we shall remain even when mankind is but a memory; reduced to dust, as we are. Although we may be scattered throughout the world, know this and keep it in your hearts.
'We are not depleted. Our power is as great and as ever present as it has always been. Seek me no longer Samurai, as I am not lost.'
With that, she vanished, along with the giant wolf and the other white wolves which had accompanied her. The werewolves and Lycastians returned to human form, the lights from the chests of the dogs, foxes and wolves had gone, and all returned at a run, to their original homes and habitats.
Strangely, not a single one of us, not even I, said a word as we began to walk back towards Magpie Manor.
When we had returned to the Green Room, Yoshimitsu, Peter, Clandolin and I, we were greeted by Mathew. Mitsurugi had returned to his own world.
'Guys, look!!' Mathew called out hastily, pointing to the coffee table.
'Nanda?' exclaimed Yoshimitsu grabbing his sword in both hands. It was entire again. Not even a single sign it had ever been broken, and it was glowing in a way I had previously never seen.
'I dunno how it happened. I was just sitting here, waiting for you guys to return and there was suddenly a bang on the door. I opened the door and something green whizzed past me. I am sure I heard it say 'Yoshimitsu' and then it just melded with your sword. It was as though the broken parts of the sword turned to liquid and ran back together. Then it started to glow with this strange green light.' Mathew explained, clearly very confused.
'Does this mean the spirits of the Manji leaders are still in there?' I asked, hopefully.
'Spirits?' enquired Mathew with a raised eyebrow.
'Yoshimitsu's sword is inhabited by a dark force, but one of the characteristics of this, is that when a user of the sword kills themselves with this blade, their soul becomes trapped inside it.'
Mathew looked horrified.
'but that is terrible!! Imagine if all you have to look forward to after life, is being stuck in there? I can't think of anything worse.' he said.
'Daijoubu' replied Yoshi with a chuckle, 'Sore wa manjitou shuhan no sekimu zo. Demo nagai nemu dake da. Soredewa, kono matsuro wa kowakute ja nai.'
Peter didn't need to be asked to translate, 'He said it's okay. It's a duty of the Manji clan leaders, but it's just like a long sleep and therefore it is a fate he doesn't fear.' he explained.
'And they sometimes speak through a computer, so Yoshi must know for sure what it is like for them'. I added, before turning to Yoshi, 'so can you tell if they are in your sword again?'
'Mina wa mada naka de!' he reassured me.
I was really pleased. It seemed that everything had just somehow worked out. Yoshimitsu had agreed to stay, Mitsurugi found Amaterasu, the sword was restored, and I was one happy little fangirl.
'Well, my tea party seems to have turned out for the best after all'. I said with a smile, 'so on that note, who fancies some green tea?'