Senior Fluffytail almost killed my dad with her words alone. It sounds impressive, but it really isn’t. My mom always seems to be on the verge of killing my dad for one reason or another, and Senior Fluffytail’s words were today’s reason. Because Senior Fluffytail safely escorted me home, my parents are treating her as an honored guest.
“One! What are you lazing around for? Get Senior Fluffytail some more acorn pie. Can’t you see her plate is empty?”
“Yes, Mother, right away.” And being treated as an honored guest means placing me, my mom’s child, under Senior Fluffytail, a random stranger, in the list of priorities. Acorn pie is a special treat reserved for when my sister or I accomplish some tough achievements: using the potty for the first time, getting into the advanced class at school, acing the promotion exam for the Art of Tail and Claw. There’s only one more bag of acorn pie left. Senior Fluffytail ate what was supposed to last me throughout my childhood. I suppose it was reserved for Two as well.
“It’s quite admirable how you climbed up here from such a small realm,” my dad said. My parents were sitting on one side of the round table while Senior Fluffytail occupied the space across from them. There was only food on her side. My parents didn’t eat much, only a few grains of immortal rice every so often. Meat is expensive, and although we’re better off than nameless families, we still can’t really afford to eat it. There’re simply too many squirrels and too little meat. The ruler was the one that declared meat couldn’t be raised inside her territory.
“Is it?” Senior Fluffytail asked and grabbed the pie that was still in my hand, en route to the table. “I don’t really think I did much. Isn’t it easy to climb to the top of a realm? I did it twice now, starting from the bottom both times.” She bit into the pie and made strange sounds as she chewed and swallowed. “I actually didn’t even want to come here, but I was forced to by a weirdo. Mm, speaking of which, I heard the squirrels have a gate thingy that can open a way back to my home.”
“You want to use the teleportation gate?” my mom asked. “It’s quite expensive, you know.”
“By any chance…,” Senior Fluffytail said and narrowed her eyes. “Is robbery allowed here?”
“No,” my mom said. “Robbery goes against the laws imposed by our ruler. I suppose I should warn you now before it’s too late; try not to get into any fights. Fights aren’t a big deal as long as no one dies, but it’s still a hassle to handle. The law enforcers will come find you.”
Senior Fluffytail blinked and tilted her head. “Will they cut off my arms and turn them into swords?”
I imagine the expression on my face is similar to the one on my mom’s. Why would law enforcement remove someone’s arm and turn them into swords?
Senior Fluffytail’s eyes narrowed. “Will they torture me for a confession and, after I finish confessing, continue torturing me for fun?”
“Oh,” Senior Fluffytail relaxed her face and took a bite from the acorn pie. “Then what’s so bad about the law enforcers?”
“They’re not bad physically,” my mom said. “They’ll just have you follow them to the station to make a statement and fill out some paperwork. Then—”
“Fill out paperwork?” Senior Fluffytail sat up straight.
“That’s right,” my dad said. “Then, you’ll be entered into the criminal database, and when you apply for a job, your employer will run a background check on you and likely turn you down for a candidate without a black mark on their record. So, while your body might not be harmed, your life will still be ruined for a little while until you pick up all the pieces and place them back together.”
Senior Fluffytail’s brow furrowed. “I was attacked on the way here by a crazy squirrel,” she said. “Will I be taken in to do paperwork because of that?”
“Most likely,” my dad said and nodded. “But you don’t have to worry about getting into any trouble since you’re the victim, so there’s no need to look so down.”
Senior Fluffytail’s brow furrowed even more. “From what I’ve heard, aren’t squirrels supposed to be hyperaggressive? Everyone’s suppressing their anger and irritation because of the ruler’s laws?”
“Not quite,” my mom said and rolled her eyes. She leaned back, using her tail to prevent herself from falling off the edge of the branch. “There’s a reason why the law enforcers are called raccoons around here. Their eyes have dark circles around them because they never get any sleep from all the reports they have to deal with.”
“Excuse me! Slayer, Fighter, anyone home?”
My mom leaned over the side of the branch, peering down at whoever it was that had shouted from below. She raised her head and looked at Senior Fluffytail. “It’s the raccoons. I think they’re here for you.”
“Isn’t that a bit too fast?” Senior Fluffytail asked and frowned. “I practically just got here!”
No. Senior Fluffytail, in fact, did not practically just get here. She’s already been here for hours, droning on and on while talking with my parents. Are all immortals chatterboxes? They have no pressing matters to attend to because they can’t die, giving them all the time in the world to procrastinate.
“We’re coming up!”
Three squirrels climbed up my tree. They stopped at the edge of the dining branch and focused their gazes on Senior Fluffytail. “Excuse me,” the lead squirrel said. “Did you happen to rough up a family of three earlier today?”
“Nope.” Senior Fluffytail shook her head. “It wasn’t me. You got the wrong person.”
The three squirrels exchanged glances with one another. “Is that so?” the lead squirrel asked. He nodded at Senior Fluffytail. “In that case, sorry for disturbing you. We’ll be taking our leave.”
Wait. He believed her just like that? What’s going on?Previous Chapter Next Chapter