Through the Christmas Glass
When Kuro was 12 his parents took him to a mall in Shibuya on the Christmas Eve. Since he is an only child he and his parents commonly spent the holiday season on their own. They would rarely visit his grandparents from his mother's side in Sapporo, but this was not one of these years.
Kuro missed his two surviving grandparents dearly and often nagged his parents to board a Shinkansen and get to them. They would always give him more or less the same excuse though:
“Hokkaido is far from Tokyo my beloved little cat. We need at least 8 hours each way with the Shinkansen, and we are too busy for that. We would cut that time in half if we took a plane but you know your father is terrified of them. Be patient, you will visit them in a few years on your own. They're still healthy, and strong as rocks!”
Last year both of his grandparents passed, just a couple of months away from each other. He had not seen them since he was 15 and he last traveled to Sapporo for their funerals. His grandmother passed after his grandfather, a few days after his 18th birthday, on December 23.
Last Christmas was quite bleak for Kuro. He still has not forgiven his parents for keeping him away from his beloved granny and grandpa.
“When you have your own family you will understand,” was all his father said in-place-of-an-apology. What the heck did that mean?!
Kuro recalled that Christmas Eve in Shibuya in the form of a dream, right after he was rescued by Laura. He and his parents had quite a lot of fun at that mall, which even had a huge Christmas tree trimmed in the shape of Godzilla. Every now and then the kaiju-tree exhaled a white gas from its mouth and Kuro and the other kids yelled and laughed with excitement.
They stayed for a while there and then they reached a section of the Mall where 5 or 6 Santas were photographed with children.
“Come on little Kuro, go and get photographed with Santa, don't be shy!” his mother told him.
Just like in his memory that's what Kuro did. However the dream-Santas were quite different: their suits were cyan & black, not red & white. Their beards were black, not white. Their faces had a weird blue shade, kind of like blueberries. As for their eyes they were very light grey.
“Why do Santas look like that mom? They look scary!”
“What do you mean cute little cat? This is what Santas have always looked like.
You know this don't you?” his mother looked puzzled. Even his father looked curious.
Kuro started to wonder in his dream, if Santa had indeed always looked like that. He got confused and scared; he thought he was losing his mind. Suddenly a blueberry Santa approached him and slapped him; hard. Kuro was startled and almost broke into tears. Blue Santa sighed, then slapped him again; this time Kuro woke up.
“You looked like you were about to have a seizure bosu, so I slapped you a couple of times to wake you up, no offence. You were full of sweat and I think you developed a bit of fever. Were you visited by the Goddess of Dreams?” Laura asked while looking at him with curious eyes.
“More like the Goddess of Nightmares, if she exists. None taken and thanks for saving my ass; I see no rabid mob so I assume you took care of all of them. You have my respect. Now will you at least explain why you call me ‘bosu’ ”?
“Yes she does, Master Kuro, but she is an evil goddess. Good magicians never request her help, only dark ones do. As for the explanation you require it is.. complicated, but I will try to be as simple as possible.”
“I'm all ears, I've got nothing better to do. I'm curious to find out what you saw in me, what made you choose me,” Kuro made a gesture with his chin and hand that made him look like a thinking emoji in flesh.
“I see only two ears on your head bosu but what's important is that I did not choose you. You were chosen eons ago, by a prophecy.”
‘A prophecy? Really? How more cliche can this plot get? Am I in the anime / LN analogue of candid camera or something?’ Kuro was half-angry and half-excited; he was starting to enjoy this.
“Enlighten me please. What does this prophecy say? And how can you be sure it refers to me?“
It is in the form of a poem, one that is sacred to the Church of Diversity:
“A black cat from another land
that is actually a man
peace and prosperity
shall bring to all our homeland
His world has blue skies
white snow and a yellow Sun
an Otherworlder he'll be called
an odd Stranger with no ties
Blessed be the Otherworlder
for he will show us the Way
after a brief period of chaos
our land will be in order”
“Wow, no pressure, no pressure at all! That's a heck of a prophecy! And, indeed, it does seem to refer to me. Did it take you long to find me?” Kuro asked while wondering why people who summon isekai'd dudes never try to fix their problem by themselves and always resort to an Isekai Ex Machina - or occasionally an entire group of them.
“There were only 4 people in your world who were called Black Cat. Two were female so they were ruled out, since the prophecy refers to a man. The third, called Kara Kedi, was from Turkey. However he was 85, so he was also ruled out too. Thus you were the only valid option to be the prophecy's Black Cat.”
‘Of course I was‘, Kuro thought, ‘less than an hour before getting rid my bloody cat once and for all I was isekai'd here precisely because of her. Coincidence or.. fate?’
“But don't I need to have magic and site? I do not feel like my mana is about to burst; in fact I do not feel I have any mana at all. Really, how does that feel like?” Kuro pouted like a sad puppy. He wanted to cast a cool spell.
“Bosu these things cannot be rushed. You will go through your initiation ritual when we meet with Cardinal Laicolassë in a couple of days. He is a rival of Cardinal Curufinwë of the Bigot Church. He will train you to commune with the Goddesses; that's his purview. Afterwards I will train you in spell casting, starting with the basics.
By the way, you need to be more careful. After teleporting you here I explicitly told you not to leave our place without applying make-up on your face and exposed skin. And yet, less than two days later, this was exactly what you did. And soon after Curufinwë's mob spotted you and hunted you down; you could have been killed!” Laura seemed genuinely worried; her glowing grey-white eyes welled up a bit.
“I'm sorry Laura. I tried applying this dark cream you gave me but I looked like I was making black-face. Where I come from this is quite a taboo; you can be cancelled in my world for doing that.”
“Cancelled? You mean killed?” Laura's eyes opened wide.
“Not physically, socially. It's almost the same thing; unless you like being a loner. I don't. As for why I got out I wanted to see your world! I didn't expect I would run into Bigot Mob sorry.
So, to recap, I first need to be trained by Cardinal Laicolassë in Goddess summoning and then you will teach me spells. Can't you at least teach me a little spell? Just an itsy-bitsy one, like how to start a fire or conjure a bit of water?”
“Sorry bosu, everything needs to go through the Goddesses. This is our Way. I would have taught you myself what the Cardinal will but I'm not yet at his level. He is one of the few in our world who can cast four distinct spells at once and still remain standing.”
“He sounds like an impressive man. I am eager to meet him!”, Kuro said.
“He is”, Laura started a fire so that they get warm and prepare something to cook. “You must be hungry aren't you? You were being hunted almost all night and did not have the chance to eat supper last night.”
“I am not hungry Laura, I am starving!” Kuro started drooling.
“I'm off to find our breakfast then”, Laura said and took off toward the forest.
Less than 10 minutes later she returned with two pitch black rabbits hanging from her hand. Their necks appeared to have been snapped. Kuro wondered how they would taste, but he was too hungry to be picky. Laura skinned the rabbits swiftly with a small knife; their blood, predictably, was not red but cyan, just like Santa's suit in his dream.
Laura placed them over the fire to roast them as Kuro was wondering what else, beside colors, was reversed in this world. Were love and hate reversed, for instance, or would that make no sense?
Laura handed Kuro one freshly roasted rabbit; after a bit of hesitation he bit into it.
‘It tastes like chicken!’ Kuro thought before devouring it almost whole.