I leave shortly after him. He’s fast for a person like him.
Compared from the time I entered the library, the street seems shadier. It must be past three, how fast the time flies.
With the compass in hand from Ramyl, I start to walk in the direction its pointing. The pronghorn was right about it leading you to your desired location. Because as I move forward, the needle of the compass shifts whenever I come upon intersections.
Eyes glued onto the dial, I notice it shift all of the sudden in the middle of the pavement.
“To the left…” my eyebrows furrow in confusion. “We’re not in the other side yet… I wonder if—”
I glanced at the direction it points. Into a dark place again. An arcade.
“Weird, why would it lead me here?” baffled, I raised a brow. “Ramyl won’t hand me something broken, right?”
Strangely, there’re light rays escaping behind the console. Obstructed by the console from this angle. I inched slowly to the side and found an exit to the other side. It’s a shortcut! There’s the observatory on the hill! My doubts were wrong all along.
I start to race inside the establishment, hoping to cross as soon as possible before the afternoon is over. All of the sudden, something big blocks my path.
My legs struggle to anchor down my weight. These limp muscles aren’t any useful at all. Bracing for impact, I shut my eyes as I eventually crash hardly.
It’s soft, unexpectedly. Under the softness is something firm and thick. The figure finally moves and spun around to confront me.
I stepped back realizing my mistake. I did not crash onto something big. Instead, on somebody massive! A tiger-man, his height could reach the ceiling and he’s almost as tall as Grey but more taller than him.
His figure looms over me. Eyes glared in bright, fiery crimson, ready to pounce. Bulging muscles envelope his entire visage, a punch from him is enough to leave more than a bruise. I could be bedridden for a year with a punch from him!
I don’t know why I’m still here and not trying to flee. He’s too intimidating to dodge!
Suddenly, his paw moves. Massive paws wider than my face. Claws glisten under the shade, ready to shred its prey into countless pieces. I tremble helplessly. Stuck frozen like a snail out in the snow.
This might be it! I shut my eyes tightly, preparing for the end. And then I feel pressure on my shoulder, making me utter a stifled cry of alarm.
“—Hey! Easy, I did not mean to startle you or anything!”
Nothing bad happened after all. Me and my pathetic delusions… I thought I’d be dead by now.
I open my eyes, revealing more of the tiger’s details. Despite his intimidating size, his demeanor is warm and friendly. Though his eyes may seem red in color, behind the façade is somebody amicable.
“Oh, I thought you’re going to kill me or anything,” I told him, hoping he’s not gonna take it as an offense.
He bellows a laugh. “Oh dear! You’re not alone! I get that kind of remark from people I just met. But trust me, it’s against my job to kill. After all, I serve as the town warrior.”
“Isn’t that what warriors do?”
“Apparently, this town needs more guards than warriors, so I serve as guard, part time, and a gladiator at the coliseum,” he crosses his arms ahead of him. “Anyway, you’re a new face in town, are you some kind of furless ape?”
“Apparently, but at the same time, no,” I shook my head. “I’m a human being. And I’m new, from the south side.”
“You mean the outskirts of the town?” he rubs his chin with his fingers. “What a harsh life you must be living in. Glad you decided to move here. We don’t get attacks that often but whenever we do, we’re prepared to combat and fend-off attackers. The outskirts? Plenty of magic beasts on the rampage. I can’t imagine living out there without any defenses. What’s your name, anyway?”
“I’m Ruelo, just Ruelo,” I extended my arm for a shake. I learned that whenever people make introductions here, they go with handshakes.
“I’m Jidby Aurelius Furmoy, an Amur tiger. You can call me Jidby if you want. We don’t like formalities here, except for noblemen, of course. They like things proper.” he shakes back gleefully. His paw could easily engulf my entire hand. His fingers is almost as thick as my wrist. Unlike any tigers I encounter here in the city, he has these brown patch markings visible on his face, arms, and legs. His Element, embedded in a metallic armband with whiter color and red markings similar to forks on the road. It bears ruby coloration, fiery in the shade of red. “What brings you here?”
I pull my hand back to my side. “I came here with my guardian to register me here as citizen. Right now, I’m on my way to the lab to get an Element.”
“That wolf will kill me again if I go there right now…” he murmurs.
“What?” I asked, not catching what he said.
“How about we have a little game? Mind if you spare some time together with me?” he grins wholeheartedly.
Hesitating, I agreed eventually. The thought of him going to murder me if I deny haunts me for a moment. I still have time anyway, it might not hurt to play a little game at all, humoring him might work.
Jidby drags me to the counter to convert the cash to tokens. He turns to me scratching the back of his head, his face wrinkled in embarrassment.
“You have any spare change?” he asked. “I did not bring that much money with me today.”
I furrowed my eyebrows, I sighed. “Let’s see what I got.” I pulled out three G’s from my sling bag and inserted it into the coin slot of the token dispenser. Once it reads the value of each coins, out comes the token on the bottom compartment.
Whoa, I did not expect to be this much!
“Wow! Never knew you are that wealthy!” he exclaimed, cupping the coins in his paws. “You a nobleman in disguise or something?” he jokingly elbows me softly, a grin stretches on his face.
“N-Not at all! My guardian gave me allowance before he left so that I could spend it,” now that I realized it, I did not even know having three G’s would consider you wealthy.
“That’s what the children of the nobles say usually,” he chuckles. “Anyway, let’s head to the racing console! I bet you’re gonna love it!”
Heck no! I did not like it! I lost plenty of times to him! There’s still plenty of tokens left but I’m not planning to spend it all trying to beat this tiger endlessly in a match.
“Wow, you must be an expert at this!” I said, subtly hinting sarcasm in that statement.
“You’re not bad yourself either!” it’s a luck he’s oblivious to it. “I come here during my breaks to try relieving myself from duties. As winter draws nearer, magic beasts migrate from the north and diverting them away from the village has been hard and numerous. Today is my day-off so I don’t have to worry for it.”
“Must be exhausting to chase around monsters,” I admitted.
“You’d never know the struggle!” he shook his head.
We played a bit more but tried the other consoles. He even challenged me to the basketball booth! As prize for our fun, we received a basket-load of tickets, which we exchanged at the counter when we spend all of our tokens.
There’s not any interesting stuff I could think of in exchange and insisted Jidby on having the prize instead. He’s reluctant about it, because it’s my money that we spend, but I told him none of the display interests me.
He ends up choosing what he wanted. He also revealed he’s previous tickets he won and the amount counted was enough to purchase the one he wanted to buy.
Believe it or not, he exchanged it for a box. Claiming it to be a mystery box or some sort. Among the nice choices he could exchange the tickets for, is a crappy box with whatever is inside it.
Once he receives his reward, he gleefully cradles it in his arms and walks into the karaoke booth where he could unbox it.
“Of all the things you could choose, why that?” I point at the box. I immediately regret the decision of having him decide for the prize. Well, I can’t blame him, I let him decide and I should accept it. At least his happy with it.
“Out of curiosity,” he said. “The box has been bugging me for months and I’ve heard somebody won a fabulous prize inside. Since then, I’ve been definitely determined to win the chance. Thanks to you, you made it possible.”
He beams a smile at me. Let’s just consider him this time, even if we just barely know each other. The idea of having a stranger feel happy brightens warms you inside.
He unsheathes his claw of his index finger and pierce the packaging tape, slicing down from the top side to the bottom. As sharp as blade cutting the adhesive in half.
Imagine having that claw slit your jugular. It’s terrifying to see it this close. Unfolding the covers, his smile once again returns. Rows of sharp teeth reveal from behind his lips making me wince.
“Looks like I hit the jackpot!” he exclaimed, pulling out a box of building blocks set. “Hey, there’s more!”
Aside from the blocks, there were steel keychains, another assembly kit that features a robot, stylus pens, a book, a brooch, a uninflated basketball, a generic wolf statuette with wings on it, and a stylized baton.
All of the items collect to his side, some had fallen off the cushioned seat. He seems to have not notice them moving.
“Whoa!” he exclaims. Pulling out the last item from the box. “It’s the final piece! Wait ‘til that wolf sees this! He’s gonna be whooped later! I can’t wait to see the look on his face!”
He raises what it seems to be a diamond-shaped alloy pendant hung around in a necklace, packaged in a small box. At the bottom it says, ‘customizable’.
“Thanks, Ruelo!” he said. “If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t have gotten these great things! I owe you much!”
His words are flattering, and true. I won’t need any of those things, Arctic has already made me realize that. Glad he’s happy with the stuffs he’s gotten, and I supposed the money spent wasn’t a waste either.
“Right back at you!” I said. “I had a ball this afternoon either. You’re nice to people you just met, considering I crashed into you when I wasn’t looking.”
“Hmf, it’s not a rare sight having people bump into me,” he shrugs. “Most people would run away the moment they set eyes on me. They must have thought I would eat them or something.”
Honestly, I can relate to the people you mentioned. Who wouldn’t be terrified of you? Let’s not ruin his mood.
The two of us left the establishment and queued in a café. The tiger treated me chocolate frappe and he enjoys drinking a strawberry-milkshake bubble tea.
We sat outside on the seats displayed as the civilians come and go on the pavement. Jidby orders a tray of pizza, baked as of the moment in the shop. The wind is cooler on this side, and the shades had gotten wider than before.
“Ruelo, you said you were going to the lab, right? To get your Element?” he said.
Now that I remember, I just realized that I wasted my time having the task off my mind.
“Oh geez you’re right!” I said. My heart starts to flutter in my chest. Grey will kill me if I don’t get it soon! The sky paints an orange shade either, the sun is about to set an hour from now. Was I taking that long in the arcade?
Funny thing about it, I was supposed to just, walk through it to get to the other side and then this happened.
“Dude, you don’t have to be nervous about it,” he said, slurping on his shake. “Take your time! The professor will understand why you’re late.”
“Don’t say it like you’re the one who’s going to get it,” I told him. “I blame you for this.”
“Oh really?” he raises a brow. “Seems to me that you’re at fault either. You could have said no earlier, but you agreed anyway. Besides, didn’t you have fun from all the games we played earlier? You know, my father once said to me when I was younger, ‘We live every day, and we only die once’. Meaning, we had one shot of enjoying things and we’ll never have this again when we die. Ever since he told me that, I’ve been living every moment of my life free. One of my favorite vloggers use the ‘law of attraction’. Meaning that if you have positive mindset, you’ll yield something positive either. Like karma per se.”
He’s not wrong about it. Grey reminded me countless of times not to worry. He’s a positive version of him, charismatic either. Having that kind of aura that attracts people. Like Ramyl from earlier.
Our pizza has arrive later. It’s overloaded with bacon and different kinds of cheese. Taking one slice, the mozzarella cheese stretches and I had to use a pizza cutter to shred the strands.
“My guardian says so as well, but he’s more… concerned, compared to you,” I take a bite out of my pizza slice. I struggle to cut the stretching mozzarella with my cheese. I eventually have that done later. “I wish I was as carefree as you.”
“No, I’m not always carefree,” he said. “I choose to be positive. Being positive will lift weight off your shoulder. Not entirely, but that kind of weight that you could manage. I had plenty of setbacks, depressive moments and misfortunes. That’s just life being unfair and all, and once you’re over that phase, you’ll move on to the next, and you’ll just wonder then how you accomplished it.”
“Yeah, you’re right,” I smiled, realizing so.
“Stay positive my friend, I promise you’ll get what you wanted,” he said.
The two of us split ways as the sun starts to lower into the jagged horizon. The food from earlier incapacitated my will to run. I never have eaten pizza that would make you full having just one slice! I only finished two and Jidby gobbled the rest.
Before we separated, he hands me a parcel that he should be delivering to the lab. He thought I might use the excuse to get inside the lab and have my Element made.
I like his philosophy in life, how he view things positive in his point of view. Must be great to have a friend like him. I’m looking forward of meeting him again.