Chapter 11:

A New Frontier

Every Side of the World

Kizou opened his eyes and sat up. He froze and looked around. He was laying down on a bed that was inside a wooden room. There were drawers and cabinets surrounding the room as well as a small table that seemed to have fresh clothes on top. There was a window right beside the bed that he was laying in. He looked down and saw a blanket draped over him that was keeping him warm. He wore a white shirt and black shorts that looked like they were a bit too big for his body.

Footsteps could be heard coming towards the door. Kizou quickly put the blanket on top of him to make it look like he wasn’t awake.

The doorknob rattled, and the sound of the door opening could be heard. Kizou heard around two different sets of feet which meant that it must’ve been two people.

“Why do you insist on keeping that boy here?” the voice of a man said.

“What do you mean? He was found in the river by Tomiko, so he’s definitely hurt,” the woman responded back.

“And why do you think he’s hurt? He’s probably a fugitive or something,” the man angrily replied. “We have enough trouble as it is.”

“So, you’re telling me that we should’ve let this poor boy die in the river? Do you even know what you’re saying right now?!” the woman asked.

“We don’t have to keep on playing hero! There’s other people for that job,” the man yelled. “Think about Shoma!”

“How does Shoma’s situation relate to this situation at all?” the woman asked. “How?”

“We’re doing things that aren’t needed, just like what he’s doing right now,” the man said before he left the room.

As the door closed, Kizou was afraid to come out of the blanket after hearing the unpleasant conversation about him. It was clear that someone in the house didn’t like him being there.

“That man can be too much sometimes,” the woman muttered to herself as she pulled over the blanket. Kizou was pretending to be asleep, because he didn’t want to meet her eyes. Suddenly, Kizou felt his shirt lift up and a cold rag being placed on his body.

“Cold!” Kizou yelled. 

He sat up and took the cold rag off of his body. He let out a sigh of relief and looked at the woman in front of her. Her eyes were wide open as she realized that Kizou was finally awake. He made a shocked look as he realized that he made a mistake in letting her know he wasn’t asleep.

“You’re awake!” the woman yelled as she put her arms around Kizou. 

Kizou looked at her and realized that she had wrinkles and bags over her eyes.  She had black hair and was pretty skinny.  She was definitely older, but she clearly was a kind and gentle person.

“Where am I?” Kizou asked as she finally let go of him.

“You’re in the small village of Rakai, a few miles down from the Kingdom,” the woman said with a smile as she looked over Kizou’s body.

“Is there something wrong with me?” Kizou asked as he noticed her stares.

“That’s what I’m wondering too, because you were asleep for a whole month,” the woman replied.

“A whole month?!” Kizou exclaimed.

“Yeah, Tomiko found you in a river, and we managed to rescue you, but you’ve been out ever since,” the woman answered.

Kizou sat there in silence as he tried to recall what ended up happening during the past events that led to him coming there. He grabbed his head after it started hurting when he tried to recall what happened.

“You okay?!” the woman asked concerningly.

“Yeah, I’m just trying to remember how I got here,” Kizou answered before putting his hand down. He gave her a smile which made her worry less.

“By the way, what’s your name? You can call me Grandma,” Grandma replied with a smile. “That’s what everyone in the village calls me.”

“I’m Kizou,” Kizou answered.

“Kizou? That’s a nice name,” Grandma answered. “Where are you from?”

“I don’t know,” Kizou answered as he tried to recall his memories again, but he couldn’t remember anything. 

It wasn’t just about the events that happened, but it felt like he didn’t have any memories at all.

“You don’t know? Well, where are your parents?” Grandma asked. She continued to look over Kizou to see if everything was really fine with him.

“I don’t know,” Kizou answered again.

“Hmmmm,” Grandma said. She put her forehead to his forehead to check if he might’ve had a fever.

“Whoa, what are you doing?!” Kizou exclaimed as he backed away immediately.

“Don’t worry, I’m just checking to see if you have a fever or not,” Grandma replied with a chuckle. “Everyone usually remembers their parents, since they’re the most loving.”

“Sorry, I guess you’re right,” Kizou replied. His stomach started growling.

“Well rest up a bit more, I’m going to bring some food for you,” Grandma said. “You should also say thanks to Tomiko whenever you have the time.”

Kizou sat down on the bed and saw her exit out of the door. He sat there confused about who he was and where he came from. He didn’t have any clue or recollection of anything that happened to him up to this point. Whenever he tried to remember, it would just be pure darkness in his head as if he was just born and starting his life right now.

Grandma ended up coming back and bringing food for Kizou. It was soup with vegetables inside. Kizou instantly devoured the food as if it was about to run away from him. Tears started rolling down his eyes.

“What’s wrong?” Grandma asked as she put her hand on his head.

“I don’t know, but it feels like this is the first time that I’m truly being cared for,” Kizou replied as tears continued to roll down.

Grandma patted his head as Kizou scarfed down the rest of his food. Once he finished, he gave Grandma his plate.

“So, where can I find this Tomiko girl?” Kizou asked. He knew that he had to give thanks to the person who saved his life.

“Little Tomiko should be two houses down,” Grandma said with a smile.

Kizou got up and stumbled a little after not walking for a whole month. Grandma caught him just as he was about to hit the floor.

“Thank you,” Kizou replied almost timidly.

“Maybe you should go see her tomorrow,” Grandma said. “You’ve got plenty of time. I’ll even come with you.”

Kizou gave her a smile as Grandma helped put Kizou back into bed. She exited out of the room, and Kizou was left alone. He waited for her footsteps to trail away before he tried walking again. He struggled to stand up from his bed and still felt the wobbliness of his legs. He grabbed the bed as a stand to catch himself everytime he was about to fall, but he would miss sometimes.

“Okay, I’m good now,” Kizou said before falling after two steps.

“This time!” Kizou exclaimed before falling again.

“What about now?!” Kizou took three steps but fell again.

He fell multiple times until he eventually got tired and went back to bed. His legs were still feeling sore, so he decided not to strain them too much. He fell asleep for the rest of the night and woke up in the morning. Grandma knocked on the door before walking in to bring food.

“So, how did your walking exercises go last night?” Grandma asked with almost a smirk as she placed his food on a table.

“I think I did well,” Kizou answered with embarrassment as he should’ve realized that she would’ve been able to hear him.

“Next time, make sure you listen and rest,” Grandma replied before giving him a chop over his head.

“Yes, Grandma,” Kizou replied as he rubbed his head.

Grandma smiled and gave him his food. Kizou blew on his food to make it colder as the steam could be seen rising up. He took a bite.

“Do you think you’re going to see her today?” Grandma asked.

“Pwobablee,” Kizou answered with his mouth full.

“Don’t talk with your mouth full, Kizou,” Grandma said while wagging her finger at him.

“Sorry again, Grandma,” Kizou answered after swallowing his food. He finished his food and gave her the plate.

“Okay, put on those clothes from the table,” Grandma said as she exited out of the room. “There’s also more clothes in the wardrobe over there if you ever need any.”

Kizou took off the clothes he was wearing and put on the clothes that were on the table. It was a burgundy shirt with black pants. He was surprised that they had so many clothes that fit him so well. He walked outside the room and entered the living room. It was relatively small and looked like there wasn’t any room to walk around. There were chairs, tables, and a small furnace that seemed to be all connected. He looked on his left side to where he saw another door which he assumed was Grandma’s room. As he stepped out of the house, he saw Grandma waiting for him.

“Oh! I’m surprised that those clothes fit you so well!” Grandma exclaimed with her hands pressed together.

“It’s a bit too big on some parts, but I can live with it,” Kizou said with a smile.

“What is that boy doing with Shoma’s clothes?!” said the voice of an angry man walking towards them from the nearby woods. He was carrying logs of wood that looked heavy.

“He just needed some clothes, so I gave him some,” Grandma replied.

“He doesn’t deserve those clothes,” the man said angrily. He saw that Grandma wasn’t going to change his mind, so he grumpily walked back inside his house.

“Sorry about that Kizou, that was Grandpa,” Grandma said. “You can just ignore what he said.”

Kizou kept the thought in his head about Shoma, but he didn’t try to dwell on it so much. He started walking slowly with Grandma to head over to Tomiko. She held his hand the entire way to make sure there weren't any missteps. He looked around the area that he lived in and was amazed at the sight. He saw fields of crops growing that ranged from corn to other produce. He could hear the sound of livestock walking around such as chickens and cows. There were different cabins surrounding the village with a statue of someone in the middle that definitely had some importance. He could hear the sound of laughter as kids were running around and playing with one another.

“Even though we’re one of the smallest villages outside of the Kingdom, I like to think that we’re one of the happiest,” Grandma replied with a smile towards Kizou.

Kizou could definitely feel the happy atmosphere and wouldn’t mind staying in the village for the rest of his life. As he continued walking, they ended up reaching the worst looking cabin within the village.  Kizou compared it to the other cabins they just saw, and this cabin looked like it's been through a hailstorm.  Grandma walked up to the door and knocked. She was greeted by two individuals who all hugged and laughed with one another. She then pointed to Kizou with a smile. Suddenly, the male individual saw Kizou and ran up to him.

“What are you planning on doing with my daughter?!” the male individual exclaimed while looking at Kizou.  

He was tall with blonde, short hair and had a young appearance.  His skin was light without any blemishes.  He was probably around three times the size of Kizou.  He wore a very baggy blue shirt and black pants.

“Huh?” Kizou replied while making a confused face.

“Are you planning on asking her hand in marriage?!” he asked again while pushing his face closer to Kizou.

“No, I just wanted to thank her,” Kizou said as he backed up.

“Oh, that’s fine then,” he said as backed away with a smile. “My daughter is the prettiest in the world, so there’s always kids your age always asking for her hand in marriage.”

Crazy! Kizou thought to himself as he gave a nervous smile towards the man.

“Sorry, please excuse my husband,” the female individual said as she walked towards Kizou with a smile.  

She was around the same height as her husband, and she had black hair.  She was very pretty and seemed to have a calm demeanor.  She wore a brown shirt and white pants.  She stuck out her hand.

Finally, someone who isn’t crazy, Kizou thought to himself.

“It’s okay,” Kizou said happily after finally talking to someone who was more normal. He shook her hand, but then he felt a tight grip.

“You better not plan on running away with my daughter,” the woman said with the same smile.  However, there was definitely a different meaning behind that smile.

“I won’t,” Kizou replied with a gulp.

Nevermind, they’re all crazy! Kizou thought to himself.

“Tomiko! You have a guest!” the male voice yelled. Even though he was only a few feet away from his front door, he still decided to yell.

“Dad! You’re too loud!” the girl yelled back. 

She was pretty much as loud as her dad. She walked outside and saw Kizou. She was around the same height as Kizou and wore a red ribbon on her head. She had long black hair and wore a white shirt with a black skirt. She had fair, light skin, and Kizou might’ve found her attractive if her parents didn’t leave such a bad impression.

“Thank you for the other day,” Kizou said as he bowed his head down. He wanted to show as much respect as possible for the person who saved his life.

“Who is that shorty?” Tomiko asked her dad, mom, and Grandma. “And why is he bowing to me like that?”

Shorty? Kizou thought to himself annoyingly.

“Hmmm,” Tomiko said aloud as she started inspecting Kizou. “Is he a new servant? Or another potential partner?”

Servant?! Marriage partner?! 

Tomiko’s mom and dad and even Grandma could be seen snickering and holding in their laughter. They looked like they were enjoying this situation that developed in front of them.

“Tomiko, that’s the boy you saved last month from the river,” her dad replied while holding in his laughter. “You know, the one that was unconscious for a month?”

“Well, how am I supposed to remember someone I barely met a month ago,” Tomiko answered without even thinking about how it might’ve affected Kizou. “Well whatever, you’re welcome I guess.”

Kizou lifted his head up and looked at her to which she looked back at him. She made a disgusted face as if she just ate something nasty. She walked back into the house, and the sound of a door shutting inside could be heard.

Her mom and dad started laughing uncontrollably as Kizou stood there frozen after realizing that his appreciation went unnoticed. He might’ve also been rejected even though he wasn’t even planning on asking her out. Even Grandma couldn’t help but place her hand over her mouth to hide her little laughters. Tomiko’s dad walked down to Kizou and put his hand on her shoulder.

“I misjudged you,” he said while still laughing. “That’s not how you try to get my daughter.”

“Like I said, I’m not trying to get with your daughter,” Kizou said with an angry and embarrassed look. “And what does she mean by marriage partner?! Aren’t we the same age?”

“Like I said, there’s plenty of people who would want her hand in marriage,” her dad replied almost ominously. 

Kizou looked at her dad whose face changed from joyful to serious. It kind of scared Kizou. Immediately, it changed back to the joyful expression. Tomiko’s dad looked at Kizou again and patted his back hard which pushed Kizou a little. He was still laughing hard to which Kizou couldn’t help but laugh as well. It felt like he hadn’t laughed in a long time.

Grandma walked down towards Kizou, and they went back to their house. She was still hiding her laugh with her hand. They turned around and waved towards Tomiko’s parents who were waving back in happiness as well. As they reached the house, Grandpa was outside the cabin breaking chunks of wood with an axe. He seemed very tired, and it definitely looked like he was too old to be dealing with such a tiring task. He looked towards Kizou and Grandma and looked away right after.

“You head on in, Kizou,” Grandma said as she walked towards Grandpa. Kizou listened and walked inside.

He went back to his room and started thinking about what their conversation must have been about. It was definitely about him, since it was clear that Grandpa didn’t like his presence. Kizou didn’t understand why Grandpa seemed to hate him so much, but he wanted to find a way to get on his good side. 

On the other hand, he was still bothered about that incident that happened with Tomiko. Her parents were very defensive, and Tomiko didn’t even look like she wanted to be associated with Kizou. However, Kizou appreciated how honest and sincere Tomiko’s parents were. The face that Tomiko’s dad made was still etched into Kizou’s head as it was a face that looked like it had experienced so many things in life.

Throughout the rest of the day, Kizou slowly practiced walking some more in his room to hopefully be able to walk around without the assistance of Grandma. He was starting to get the hang of walking again, but there were still some occasional falls. He went to lay down on his bed and looked up at the ceiling. He put his hand out and reached out.

Just who am I? Kizou thought to himself.