TGL Volume 5, Chapter 3 (1)

I can picture it already. My sister probably went to my room and discovered I wasn’t there. Then, she went to my mom and snitched on me. My mom would say, “Oh, he’s probably using the bathroom.” 

Then, my sister would say, “I already checked. He’s not there.” 

Upon hearing that, my mom would shout across the tree at my dad. “Where’s One!? Two is looking for him!” 

And my dad would snort and gurgle while sitting up because he was obviously lying down asleep between two branches of the tree in that favorite spot of his. He’d look around, then shout, “One!? Where are you? Your mom is looking for you!” 

Then, my mom would shout, “No, Two is looking for One!” 

And my sister, Two, would say, “No, I’m not looking for One. I’m just saying he’s not in his room.” 

“Well, why did you go into his room if you weren’t looking for him?” my mom would ask, and that’d be the perfect time for my dad to interrupt and ask if it was time to eat. My sister’s stomach would gurgle, and then the topic would shift to what they were going to have for dinner, and I’d be completely forgotten. 

As for why I’m picturing this…, that’s because my family would’ve forgotten about me being missing, and the whole process would repeat. Since it’s morning—I still can’t believe I spent a whole night hugging the mast of a ship that was flying at a height high enough to kill me if I fell off—my sister should be waking up and making her way to my room right now to pester me. She’ll find out I’m not there, then go to my mom to snitch on me again. If Senior Fluffytail wasn’t bringing me back to my home right now, I’m sure the same cycle would repeat for a minimum of three days before my family realized I ran away from home. 

“So, these are the seven mountain ranges, huh?” Senior Fluffytail asked. She was standing at the side of the boat with one hand shielding her eyes from view. 

“No.” Although we’re flying above the seven mountain ranges, there’s no way she can see all of them from where she’s standing. Even if we were flying higher, it’d be impossible to see it all. The world is round, and the land curves away from us, so it’ll sink below the horizon. Unless Senior Fluffytail can see around corners? “This is just the first of the seven mountain ranges.” 

Senior Fluffytail whirled around to face me, her brow furrowed. “You’re telling me this is one mountain range? But there’re so many mountains!” 

“Yes…. A mountain range consists of a range of mountains, so there would, indeed, be many mountains within one range.” 

“How do you use the same words so many times in the same sentence? Stop that.” 

Wasn’t I supposed to limit my vocabulary to speak to her? I’m not allowed to repeat words either? What’s next? I won’t be allowed to speak at all? …Actually, that may happen. There’s that half-wolf, half-human spirit residing in her socks. I’ve only heard him say two words in the past day and night. They were “Yes, Lucia,” spoken when she asked him if he was voting with her. 

Senior Fluffytail cleared her throat. “Alright, which mountain is yours?” 

“Oh, no.” I shook my head. It seems like Senior Fluffytail is mistaken about something. “My family doesn’t own a mountain. We just own a tree.” 

“A tree?” 

“Half of a tree, to be exact. And we don’t really own it; we just own the rights to live in it for a set period of time. The seven mountain ranges are all owned by the ruler, and if you want to live on her land, then you have to pay up.” 

“Eh?” Senior Fluffytail tilted her head. “Why don’t you live somewhere else? Didn’t your dad fight on a battlefield or something? I’m sure he can afford a place larger than half a tree anywhere else, no?” 

“While that’s true, the immortal realm is a very dangerous place for a squirrel. People will want to kill you for your beast core or capture you to turn you into a mount or guardian beast. However, the ruler is a huge, huge, huge backing to have. It’s because of her that all beasts can remain neutral in the ongoing war between the humans and the demons.” 

Senior Fluffytail’s eyes widened. “She’s that strong?” 

“Squirrels don’t believe in a god, but we believe in her. She’s invincible.” 

“Wow.” Senior Fluffytail jumped up on top of the boat’s gunwale and squatted down by the edge. She took a seat, letting her feet dangle over the side of the boat. “So, she’s about as amazing as me, huh?” 

So, even the squirrels not from the immortal realm are narcissistic. I think I’m the only squirrel here that doesn’t think of himself as the greatest thing in the world. 

Thunk. 

“Ah?” Senior Fluffytail wobbled before leaning over, her body hovering over the edge of the boat save for her butt and tail. “What was that? A rock? Damnit! Which one of you hooligans threw a rock at my boat!?” 

Thunk. 

“I saw that!” Senior Fluffytail fell off the boat! Three seconds later, she reappeared not too far away from me on the boat’s deck. She was holding a fluffy and struggling squirrel with one hand, hoisting him off the deck by the scruff of his neck. He wasn’t very large, maybe half her size. “You think throwing rocks at my boat is funny, huh? How do you think my boat feels?” She bent down and pressed the squirrel’s face against the floorboards. “Apologize to it!” 

The little squirrel thrashed his legs and slapped his tail wildly about. “Momma! Help me!” 

“Hey, you!” a thundering-but-high-pitched voice shouted from below the boat. “Hands off my child! What do you think you’re doing!?” 

Senior Fluffytail sprinted to the side of the boat, young squirrel still in hand. Her head peeked over the edge, looking down. “Hah? What am I doing? What were you doing when your grubby little kid was throwing rocks at my boat?” 

“Who do you think you are? Are you trying to tell me how to raise my kid? Get down here; I’ll slap some sense into you, you ugly tramp!” 

Senior Fluffytail’s tail straightened, pointing towards the sky while she was still leaning over the edge of the boat. “What!? You want to say that to my face, huh!?” Senior Fluffytail stood straight up and whirled her head around to stare at me. “Watch the boat. I need a minute to fix a blind squirrel’s eyes with my fists.” 

Before I could respond, Senior Fluffytail leapt off the boat, and a young squirrel’s scream died down as quickly as it erupted. Squirrels didn’t have wings or hollow bones. They fell fast. Anyway, what did Senior Fluffytail mean by watch the boat? What the heck am I supposed to do to watch the boat? Just stare at it? It’s not like I know how to drive it if it’s about to crash into something.

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