He couldn’t remember how old he was when he first saw the gates. Young enough to not realize how strange the holes that formed floating just above the ground, really were. No, at first he thought that everyone could see them. But then he asked his mom what they were one day and she just gave him a confused look, like she didn’t understand. She really didn’t understand of course. But he didn’t know that adults had a strange tendency to keep secrets. It made perfect sense to him that she just didn’t want to tell him.
So he decided that the next time he saw one of the strange holes form he would jump through and figure out what was on the other side himself. And so that’s what he did, the next time he saw a hole, he jumped.
He found his way back, of course, this would be a very short story if he hadn’t. But when he came back he had something with him. A strange black and white cat with a tail made of bone. And at the end of the tail that was built link by link, was a sharp-looking blade. As though someone had glued a knife to the end of the cats already odd tail.
All adults knew what the creature was. That night his mother spent a lot of time talking on the phone. He listened while his new cat friend slept on his bed.
“I tried to scare it away but it wouldn’t leave, and then my son got angry at me,” then silence for a bit. “I know, it’s just, he’s so young. I don’t think it would be right.” Then more silence. “I know–I know. I’ll register him tomorrow, maybe someone at the government building will have some options for us.” She hung up the phone and let out a sigh.
He didn’t really understand what the issue was. But his mother sat down on her chair and fell asleep before he could ask her. So with nothing else to do he curled up with his new monster friend under his blankets and fell asleep.
When his mother woke him up instead of taking him to the school bus stop they got into a strange car with a driver that he didn’t recognize. They took the monster cat with them. He had decided to name the cat Chain after it’s chain-like bone tail. The little guy (he was fairly certain it was a guy–but he didn’t really know how to check) seemed to like the name, he responded to it as well without much difficulty.
They made their way to a strange black building, that was next to the courthouse. He only knew that it was the courthouse because he had seen a building like it on TV. And they lived in a small town anyways so not many places had that government building look. But the black building next to it was something else entirely–no windows and only one door. It was a fire hazard to be sure. And then the building stretched fairly far into the sky, it was probably the tallest building in the small town they lived in.
“Mom, what kind of building is this?” he asked, unafraid of the answer, as always.
“It’s the hunters guild,” the word guild seemed odd to him, he had only ever heard it used in video games. So he figured it was a work only used in fiction. But there it was, being used by his mom to describe the strange black windowless building they were about to walk into.
He wasn’t really afraid–and a quick look down at his new friend chain revealed that he wasn’t either. The cat monster just sniffed the air with the same curious but unconcerned attitude that made cats seem cat-like.
But thinking back on it, he probably should have been more worried….
-To be continued