Authors note: This is the updated part 1 of the Strange worlds saga. I have already posted most of this, but this is the updated and put together version.
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, and 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 cat’s 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….
The strange black building looked like an ordinary office building inside, with a tiled floor that had all kinds of strange pictures on it. His mother took him to an office somewhere near the center of the building. She told him to wait in a chair outside of an office somewhere in the center of the building and then went inside to talk to someone, leaving him alone with Chain.
The center of the building was a round room with offices lining the walls of the circular area. The tiled floor was decorated with some kind of picture. It was so large that he couldn’t tell what it was at first. So Chain and he got out of the chair and started to walk around the room.
The bottom of the picture, near where they had walked in from, had small green trees painted onto the floor. They looked small next to the rest of the picture as though they were trying to give a sense of scale. Then there were a bunch of small people standing above and around the trees. He could barely tell they were supposed to be people as there was almost no detail put into them at all. They were just slightly more detailed than stick figures. And for some reason, they all had black sticks that they were holding up and pointing up at something.
Then the silver and gold paint that took up most of the floor was the last thing he looked at. It was so large, even depicted on the tile of the office that he had to stare at it for a moment before he could figure out what it was. It had silver and gold skin, a square jaw, horns, and red fire leaping out of its mouth.
“A dragon,” he said, finally realizing what it was. “But why are all these people pointing these black sticks at?”
“Meow,” was the only response that Chain gave, though she seemed to understand what he was saying.
The sound of clicking shoes interrupted him, and he quickly returned to the chair his mother had told him to wait in. The pair of shoes that clicked down the hallways belonged to a woman with a large black purse, and a strange long knife sheathed at her left side. She was tall with long black hair and high heels. He didn’t really notice the suit she wore as he was too busy staring at the long knife that she so boldly wore openly.
She must not have noticed him at first because she started when she looked in his direction. Her hand went for her knife, but she didn’t draw it. Something seemed to occur to her and she stopped herself, she slowly withdrew her hand from her knife as he stared at her even more intently than before.
“Excuse me, young man,” she said, the whole time she spoke her eyes were not on the boy but on Chain, that cat monster. “But what are you doing here?”
He shrugged nonchalantly. “Ask my mom, she’s in that office.” He pointed back to the office his mom was still in. He couldn’t hear anyone talking inside, but that didn’t mean anything.
The woman stared at the office for a little bit, as though she was contemplating something. The boy didn’t really understand what the issue was but the woman decided to walk into the office, she didn’t knock or anything.
And then there was a lot of yelling for a long time. There were three voices: one was his mom, one was the woman who just walked in, and one was a third womens voice who he didn’t recognize.
“Why is there a Cryptcat here?” the women who just walked in yelled.
“With all do respect commander,” that was the third voice he didn’t recognize. “This is the Linker registration process. And the last thing we want to do is scare people away so they don’t register.”
“We don’t need to register them, we need to get rid of them.”
“That is my son you’re talking about,” his mom yelled.
“Oh please, you can have another kid Linkers are not worth your anger.”
“What was that,” his mom yelled.
“Both of you sit down and shut up,” the third voice snapped. It must have been effective because silence fell for a bit.
“Commander, by barging in here you’ve made this more complicated then this needs to be. This isn’t like the old days where you can point your blade at a Linker and threaten them. We promise that, if they register, and stay honest with us they can live their lives how they want. And she brought her son in here the day after he awakened no questions asked. And then you barge in here demanding—what exactly?”
There was an uncomfortable silence for a moment where nobody said anything. If the commander had something to say it wasn’t loud enough to hear through the door.
“Now since you came barging in here, threatening him at the top of your lungs I’m going to have to move them as far away from you as I can—to Cedarium.”